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The Theosophical Movement 1875-1925
--- 144Chapter X
The Formation of the Esoteric SectionThe critical period preceding the formation of the Esoteric Section has been discussed, and its various factors and actors commented on from their several points of view, by the only ones competent to do so at first hand: by H.P.B., by Col. Olcott, by Mr. Judge, and by the Master "K.H." We may examine at this point some of the statements of all of them, in the order named, omitting Mr. Judge for the time being, for the sake of logical, no less than of chronological, continuity.
In April, 1886, H.P.B. wrote a long and important letter to Dr. Franz Hartmann in reply to questions and problems raised by him. Dr. Hartmann, it will be remembered, was at Adyar before, during, and subsequent to the Coulomb charges, the Indian Convention's practical desertion of H.P.B., Mr. Hodgson's investigations for the S.P.R., the resignation and departure of H.P.B. He was familiar with much of the unwritten history of that eventful period. He learned enough, and his intuitions were sufficiently awake, to make him the faithful and loyal friend of both H.P.B., and W.Q.J., through all the troubled voyage of the Theosophical ship. H.P.B.'s letter to him was forced into publicity by the necessities of a decade later. It will be found in full in The Path, for March, 1896.
After acknowledging his letter she says:
"What you say in it seems to me like an echo of my own thoughts in many a way; only knowing the truth and the real state of things in the
"Occult world" better than you do, I am perhaps able to see better also where the real mischief was and lies."
What the truth and the real state of things was in connection with the facts and factors underlying the course of events we are considering is discussed at length:
"As to... that portion of your letter where you speak of the 'army' of the deluded - and the "imaginary" Mahatmas of Olcott - you are absolutely and sadly right. Have I not seen the thing for nearly eight years? Have I not struggled and fought against Olcott's ardent and gushing imagination, and tried to stop him every day of my life? Was he not told by me... that if he did not see the Masters in their true light, and did not cease speaking and enflaming people's imaginations, that he would be held responsible for all the evil the Society might come to?...
"Ah, if by some psychological process you could be made to see the whole truth I ... I was sent to America on purpose and sent to the Eddys. There I found Olcott in love with spirits, as he became in love with the Masters later on. I was ordered to let him know that spiritual phenomena without the philosophy of Occultism were dangerous and misleading. I proved to him that all that mediums could do through spirits others could do at will without any spirits at all.... Well; I told him the whole truth. I said to him that I had known Adepts,... That... Adepts were everywhere Adepts - silent, secret, retiring, and who would never divulge themselves entirely to anyone, unless one did as I did - passed seven and ten years' probation and given proofs of absolute devotion, and that he, or she, would keep silent even before a prospect and a threat of death. I fulfilled
the requirements and am what I am; and this no Hodgson, no Coulombs, no Sellin, (1) can take away from me....
"When we arrived [in India] and Master coming to Bombay bodily, paid a visit to us... Olcott became crazy. He was like Balaam's she-ass when she saw the angel! Then came other fanatics who began calling them 'Mahatmas'; and, little by little, the Adepts were transformed into Gods on earth. They began to be appealed to, and made puja to, and were becoming with every day more legendary and miraculous.... Well between this idea of Mahatmas and Olcott's rhapsodies, what could I do? I saw with terror and anger the false track they were all pursuing. The "Masters," as all thought, must be omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent.... The Masters knew all; why did they not help the devotee? If a mistake or a flapdoodle was committed in the Society - 'How could the Masters allow you or Olcott to do so?' we were asked in amazement. The idea that the Masters were mortal men, limited even in their great powers, never crossed anyone's mind....
"Is it Olcott's fault? perhaps, to a degree. Is it mine? I absolutely deny it, and protest against the accusation. It is no one's fault. Human nature alone, and the failure of modern society and religions to furnish people with something higher and nobler than craving after money and honors - is at the bottom of it. Place this failure on one side, and the mischief and havoc produced in people's brains by modern spiritualism, and you have the enigma solved. Olcott to this day is sincere, true and devoted to the cause. He does and acts the best he knows how, and the mistakes and absurdities he has
(1) A German professor and spiritualist to whom Dr. Hubbe-Schleiden turned for "messages," after his breach with H.P.B., and who, like Mr. Sinnett's "psychics," charged her with bogus communications.
committed and commits to this day are due to something he lacks in the psychological portion of his brain, and he is not responsible for it. Loaded and heavy is his Karma, poor man, but much must be forgiven to him, for he has always erred through lack of right judgment, not from any vicious propensity."
This letter, it will be noted, was written a year after H.P.B.'s departure from India, a little over a year before the foundation of Lucifer, and forms part of the chain of time and action leading to the formation of the Esoteric Section. Both H.P.B. and Mr. Judge from then on made the most strenuous efforts, publicly and privately, in preparations for the restoration of the Society, in Europe and America at least, to a semblance of its original lines, through the Esoteric Section. The obstacles, internally, lay in misconceptions of the philosophy, in the erroneous ideas in regard to the nature of the Masters, in the deeply rooted preconceived opinions of Col. Olcott and many others as to the purposes of the Society. From their point of view the Society had achieved a magnificent success and, under their guidance and direction, was on the highroad to still greater conquests; its drawbacks and limitations chiefly due to the "mistakes" and the "interferences" of H.P.B. How intensely these opinions affected Mr. Sinnett we shall find in due course. (2) How entirely they governed the outlook and controlled the attitude of Col. Olcott we have now to witness. Turning to "Old Diary Leaves," we may join him in India in the summer of 1887, shortly after H.P.B. had removed to London. Beginning with the last chapter of his Third Series he says:
"At Chupra, among my foreign letters I received one from H.P.B. which distressed me much. She had consented to start a new magazine with capital subscribed by London friends
(2) See also in this connection Mr. Sinnett's posthumous book, "The Early Days of Theosophy in Europe."
of hers, while she was still editor and half proprietor of the Theosophist - a most unusual and unbusinesslike proceeding. Besides other causes, among them the persuasion of English friends, a reason which strongly moved her to this was that Mr. Cooper-Oakley, her own appointee as Managing Editor, had more or less sided with T. Subba Row in a dispute which had sprung up between him and H.P.B. on the question whether the 'principles' which go to the makeup of a human being were seven or five in number. Subba Row had replied in our pages to an article of hers on the subject, and her letters to me about it were most bitter and denunciatory of Cooper-Oakley, whom she, without reasonable cause, charged with treachery. It was one of those resistless impulses which carried her away sometimes into extreme measures. She wanted me to take away his editorial authority, and even sent me a foolish document, like a power-of-attorney, empowering me to send him to Coventry, so to say, and not allow any galleyproof to pass to the printer until initialed by myself. Of course, I remonstrated strongly against her thus, without precedent, setting up a rival competing magazine to hurt as much as possible the circulation and influence of our old established organ, on the title-page of which her name still appeared. But it was useless to protest; she said she was determined to have a magazine in which she could say what she pleased, and in due time Lucifer appeared as her personal organ, and I got on as well as I could without her. Meanwhile, a lively interchange of letters went on between us. She was at strife then, more or less, with Mr. Sinnett, and before this was settled, a number of seceders from his London Lodge organized as the Blavatsky Lodge, and met at her house in Lansdowne Road, where her sparkling personality
and vast knowledge of Occult things always ensured full meetings."
In the second chapter of the Fourth Series, which Col. Olcott heads, "The Fears of H.P.B.," he says, by way of preface:
"When I look back through my papers of those days of stress and storm, and read the letters written me from exile by Mme. Blavatsky, the solemn feeling comes over me that the binding mortar of its blocks was stiffened by the blood of her heart, and in her anguish were they laid. She was the Teacher, I the pupil; she the misunderstood and insulted messenger of the Great Ones, I the practical brain to plan, the right hand to work out the practical details."
After a desultory sentence or two the "pupil" continues in regard to his Teacher, the "misunderstood messenger of the Great Ones":
"It is painful beyond words to read her correspondence from Europe, and see how she suffered from various causes, fretting and worrying too often over mares' nests. Out of the sorest grievances I select the defection of T. Subba Rao [Row]; the admission into the Theosophist by the Sub-Editor (whom she had herself appointed) of articles which she considered antagonistic to the Trans-Himalayan teachings; the refusal of Subba Rao to edit the Secret Doctrine MSS., contrary to his original promise,... his wholesale condemnation of it; the personal quarrels of various European colleagues; the war between Mr. Judge and Dr. Coues in America; the threatened renewal of persecution against her if she returned to India, as we begged her to do;..."
On p. 41 he continues:
"Things were growing more and more unpleasant at Adyar on account of the friction between H.P.B. and T. Subba Rao and certain of his Anglo-Indian backers. They even went so far as to threaten withdrawal from the Society and the publication of a rival magazine if H.P.B. did not treat them better."
On p. 47 he says:
"Portents of a coming storm in our European groups, stirred up or intensified by H.P.B., begin to show themselves, and Judge complains of our neglecting him. Just then Dr. Coues was working hard for the notoriety he craved, and Judge was opposing him."
Finally, on p. 51, referring to the same year (1888) Col. Olcott relates:
"The last week in June brought me a vexatious letter from H.P.B., indicative of a storm of trouble that was raging in and about her."
Chapter IV of the Fourth Series is entitled "Formation of the Esoteric Section," and continues Col. Olcott's reminiscences of this momentous epoch. He first pays tribute to H.P.B. and then proceeds to soliloquize - always to the issue that he was the saviour of the Society against the weaknesses and mistakes of H.P.B. Thus:
"It was remarked at the end of the last chapter that we were now about to review some disagreeable incidents of the year in which H.P.B. was a conspicuous factor. If she had been just an ordinary person hidden behind the screen of domesticity, this history of the development of
the Theosophical movement might have been written without bringing her on the stage; or if the truth had been told about her by friend and foe I might have left her to be dealt with by her karma, showing, of course, what great part she had played in it, and to how great a credit she was entitled. But she has shared the fate of all public characters of mark in human affairs, having been absurdly flattered and worshiped by one party, and mercilessly wronged by the other. Unless, then, her most intimate friend and colleague, the surviving builder-up of the movement, had cast aside the reserve he had all along maintained, and would have preferred to preserve, the real personage would never have been understood by her contemporaries, nor justice done to her really grand character. That she was great in the sense of the thorough altruism of her public work is unquestionable: in her times of exaltation self was drowned in the yearning to spread knowledge and do her Master's bidding. She never sold her rich store of occult knowledge for money, nor bartered instruction for personal advantage. She valued her life as nothing as balanced against service, and would have given it as joyfully as any religious martyr if the occasion had seemed to demand the sacrifice. These tendencies and characteristic traits she had brought over with her from a long line of incarnations in which she (and in some, we) had been engaged in like service; they were the aspects of her individuality, high, noble, ideally loyal, worthy, not of being worshipped - for no human being ought to be made the cause of slavish adoration - but of aspiration to be like it."
Then the wise pupil, sure of his own discrimination and judgment, proceeds to point out the weaknesses and failings with which his Teacher is afflicted:
"Her personality is quite another affair, and afforded a strong background to throw out her interior brightness into stronger relief. In the matter under present discussion, for instance, the front she presents to me in her letters is unlovely to a degree: language violent, passion raging, scorn and satire poorly covered by a skin of soft talk; a disposition to break through the 'red tape' of the Society's mild constitution, and to rule or ruin as I might decide to ratify or disavow her arbitrary and utterly unconstitutional acts; a sniffing at the Council and Councillors, whom she did not choose to have stand in her way, a sharp and slashing criticism of certain of her European co-workers, especially of the one most prominent in that part of the movement, whose initials she parenthesized after the word 'Satan,' and an appeal that I should not let our many years of associated work be lost in the breaking up of the T.S. into two unrelated bodies, the Eastern and Western Theosophical Societies. In short, she writes like a mad person and in the tone of a hyperexcited hysterical woman,... Yet, ill in body and upset in mind as she may have been, she was still a mighty factor for me to deal with, and forced me to choose which line of policy I should pursue. The first count in her indictment against me (for, of course, more suo, it was all my fault) was that I had decided against her favourite in an arbitration I had held at Paris, that year, between two opposing parties among the French Theosophists; it was, she writes me, 'no mistake, but a crime perpetrated by you against Theosophy (doubly underscored), in full knowledge of what X is and fear of Y. Olcott, my friend you are - , but I do not want to hurt your feelings, and will not say to you what you are. If you do not feel and realize it yourself, then all I can say will be useless. As for P.
[a Frenchman, subsequently expelled from the Society], you have put yourself entirely in his hands, and you have sacrificed Theosophy, and even the honour of the T.S. in France, out of fear of that wretched little - ."
Although on page 23 he specifically declares that "she refused point-blank to lead any Society that did not recognize Adyar as its central head," - a sheer assertion of his own stated in a manner to indicate it as an indirect citation from one of her letters - on p. 55 he contradicts himself de but en blanc by quoting directly from her correspondence:
"She had hatched out a new section, with herself elected as "President," taken a commodious house, and had a sign-board ready to have painted on it either "European Headquarters of the T.S." or "Western Theosophical Society." Seeming to suspect that I might not like it very much to have the whole machinery of the Society upset to gratify her whim, and remembering of old that the more she threatened the more stubborn it made me, she writes:
"'Now look here, Olcott. It is very painful, most painful, for me to have to put you what the French call marche en main, and to have you choose. You will say again that you "hate threats," and these will only make you more stubborn. But this is no threat at all, but a fait accompli. It remains with you to either ratify it or to go against it, and declare war on me and my Esotericists. If, recognizing the utmost necessity of the step, you submit to the inexorable evolution of things, nothing will be changed. Adyar and Europe will remain allies, and to all appearance, the latter will seem to be subject to the former. If you do not ratify it - well, then there will be two
Theosophical Societies, the old Indian and the new European, entirely independent of each other.'"
Colonel Olcott says that "This stand-and-deliver ultimatum naturally frightened the 'mild Hindu' members of our Executive Council to fits," and that "The Paris arbitration above referred to occurred during my European visit of 1888, which kept me there from 26th August to 22nd October, and was made at the entreaty of the Executive Council, as the tone of H.P.B.'s letters had alarmed them for the stability of the movement in the West. The tour should, by rights, have been mentioned before the incidents of the threatened split above alluded to, but H.P.B.'s letters lying nearest to hand, and the trouble being continuous through the two successive years [1888-9], I took it up first."
He then gives the "true history" of the "Paris imbroglio," raging in the "Isis" branch of the T.S. over its conduct by M.F.K. Gaboriau, the editor of Le Lotus. Colonel Olcott says:
"In doing this he had become involved in disputes, in which H.P.B. had taken his side, and made a bad mess for me by giving him, in her real character of Co-Founder and her assumed one of my representative, with full discretionary powers, a charter of a sweeping and unprecedented character, which practically let him do as he pleased. This was, of course, protested against by some of his soberer colleagues, recriminations arose, and an appeal was made to me."
Colonel Olcott characterizes M. Gaboriau as a "hypersensitive young man... who showed an excessive enthusiasm for Theosophy, but small executive faculty."
Colonel Olcott proceeded to Paris and on the 17th September read his formal "decision" to the assembled members. The account in "Old Diary Leaves" recites:
"My action in this affair was taken according to my best judgment, after hearing all that was to be said and seeing everybody concerned; I believe it to have been the best under existing circumstances, though it threw M. Gaboriau out of the active running, caused him and some of his few followers to denounce me unqualifiedly, and led to a pitched battle, as one might say, between H.P.B. and myself on my return to London. The sequel is above shown in her revolutionary action with respect to the reorganization at London... Nearly all the persons engaged in the Paris quarrel were to blame, they having given way to personal jealousies, obliterated the landmarks of the Society, fallen into a strife for supremacy, with mutual abuse, oral and printed...."
Judging from the account in "Old Diary Leaves" Olcott was the savior of the T.S. and the Movement, against the "language violent," the "passion raging," the "arbitrary and utterly unconstitutional acts," the "disposition to rule or ruin," the "breaking-up of the T.S. into two unrelated bodies," the "stand-and-deliver ultimatum," the "bad mess" created by H.P.B. - the "mad person," the "conspicuous factor" in the "disagreeable incidents," the "hyperexcited hysterical woman."
In the case in point, the student may turn to the actual "official decision" of Col. Olcott, in contrast to his story as given in "Old Diary Leaves," and there learn whether H.P.B. exceeded her "constitutional powers" in the "Isis Branch" imbroglio. In his own words, as recorded in that "decision":
"It has been objected that Mme. Blavatsky had not the right to act in this matter; that her interference was illegal according to the Rules of the Theosophical Society.... But, in point of fact, Mme. Blavatsky is... with me Co-
Founder of the Society, Corresponding Secretary and, ex officio, member of the General Council, of the Executive Council and of the Annual Convention, a sort of Parliament held at Adyar by delegates from all countries....
"She was, then, perfectly authorized (competente) to issue the order in question as a temporary measure, an order which must be finally submitted for approbation to the President in Council. The Executive Council, in its session of 14th July, formally ratified the measure taken by Mme. Blavatsky, a measure which was urgent, and which I declare to have been legal...."
The absolute contradiction between the facts and the story given in "Old Diary Leaves" with its inferences and derogatory statements in regard to H.P.B., shows the utter unreliability of Col. Olcott when his feelings were involved, or when the full facts place him in an unenviable light. Only in the light of a "probationary chela" in the fiery furnace of "pledge fever" can his contradictions be understood and so reconciled with the real honesty of his nature and the genuine devotion which he manifested for the Theosophical Society, of which he was President-Founder and which was the be-all and end-all of existence to him. So identified was it with himself in his consciousness, that more and more he came to view and treat any differences with himself, any correction by his Teacher, as an assault and a menace on the Society.
Colonel Olcott's comments, strictures, and judgments on H.P.B., of which those herein given are but samples of many, stand in melancholy contrast to the Master's own statements in a letter to Col. Olcott at this very time. It is a characteristic anachronism that leads Col. Olcott, in "Old Diary Leaves," Third Series, Chapter VIII, to relate this letter to the joint visit of H.P.B. and himself to Europe in 1884 and the troubles then prevalent in the London Lodge; instead of, as was the
fact, to the very matters we are considering, in 1888. This letter, which, says Col. Olcott at p. 91, "I received phenomenally in my cabin on board the Shannon, the day before we reached Brindisi," is but barely referred to by the Colonel. No one could by any possibility infer the transcendent importance of its contents from the brief quotation given by him. Its textual omission from "Old Diary Leaves" is amply accounted for, (1) by the contents of the letter itself; (2) by the failing faculties of Col. Olcott when "Old Diary Leaves" was written. The brief quotation he gives, however, is sufficient to identify the letter itself, as is also the fact stated that it was received on board the Shannon, which was the vessel in which he voyaged in 1888, not in 1884; and, no less, the citations in Lucifer for October 15, 1888, where it is stated by H.P.B. that the letter was received by Col. Olcott "only a few weeks ago." The same number of Lucifer gives extracts from the letter, the extracts being certified by Col. Olcott himself. Fuller extracts were contained in a pamphlet sent out at the time, entitled "To All Theosophists." The complete text of the letter came to the light of general publicity only after many years. It will be found in the volume, "Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom."
Several momentous facts should be borne in mind in connection with this letter: It was "phenomenally" delivered to Col. Olcott who was voyaging alone, and was at sea, a day from Brindisi, when it was received. Its contents show that it was "precipitated," but a very short time before it was received by the Colonel - a matter of hours or minutes; it refers prophetically as well as historically to other subjects, to which we shall refer later on. (3) At this point it is enough to introduce those extracts which directly relate to Col. Olcott and H.P.B. and shed a clear and authoritative light on their respective natures, status, and functions, no less than on the hidden aspects of the events under consideration. The Master addresses Col. Olcott without preamble or circumlocution:
(3) See Chapters XV and XXIII.
Again, as you approach London, I have a word or two to say to you. Your impressibility is so changeful that I must not wholly depend upon it at this critical time. Of course you know that things were so brought to a focus as to necessitate the present journey.... Put all needed restraint upon your feelings, so that you may do the right thing in this Western imbroglio. Watch your first impressions. The mistakes you make spring from failure to do this. Let neither your personal predilections, affections, suspicions nor antipathies affect your action....
"Your revolt, good friend, against her 'infallibility' - , as you once thought it - has gone too far, and you have been unjust to her, for which I am sorry to say, you will have to suffer hereafter, along with others. Just now - on deck, your thoughts about her were dark and sinful, and so I find the moment a fitting one to put you on your guard....
"Make all these men feel that we have no favourites, nor affections for persons, but only for their good acts and humanity as a whole. But we employ agents - the best available. Of these for the past thirty years, the chief has been the personality known as H.P.B. to the world (but otherwise to us). Imperfect and very 'troublesome,' no doubt, she proves to some; nevertheless, there is no likelihood of our finding a better one for years to come, and your theosophists should be made to understand it.... Her fidelity to our work being constant, and her sufferings having come upon her through it, neither I nor either of my brother associates will desert or supplant her. As I once before remarked, ingratitude is not among our vices. With yourself our relations are direct, and have been, with the rare exceptions you know of, like the present, on the psychical plane, and so will continue through force of circumstances. That
they are so rare - is your own fault as I told you in my last. To help you in your present perplexity; H.P.B. has next to no concern with administrative details, and should be kept clear of them, so far as her strong nature can be controlled, but this you must tell to all: - with Occult matters she has everything to do. We have not 'abandoned' her. She is not 'given over to chelas.' She is our direct agent. I warn you against permitting your suspicions and resentment against 'her many follies' to bias your intuitive loyalty to her. In the adjustment of this European business, you will have two things to consider - the external and administrative, and the internal and psychical. Keep the former under your control and that of your most prudent associates jointly; leave the latter to her. You are left to devise the practical details with your usual ingenuity. Only be careful, I say, to discriminate when some emergent interference of hers in practical affairs is referred to you on appeal, between that which is merely exoteric in origin and effects, and that which beginning on the practical tends to beget consequences on the spiritual plane. As to the former you are the best judge, as to the latter, she....
There have been sore trials in the past, others await you in the future. May the faith and courage which have supported you hitherto endure to the end....
This letter... is merely given you as a warning and a guide...."
This letter from the Master, and the influence of H.P.B., prevailed for the time to restore the poise of Col. Olcott, to put him in his proper place, and to prevent any open breach in the Theosophical ranks. As in the spring of 1885, H.P.B. made every effort to shield Olcott himself, no less than the Society at large, from the bad consequences of his ill-advised actions. A "Joint
Note" was published in Lucifer along with the extracts from the Master's letter, from the official "decision" of Col. Olcott, and the notice of the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society. The form, both of the "Joint Note" and of the "Notice" was made, as with the notices in The Theosophist in the spring of 1885, to shield Col. Olcott in his position of President-Founder of the T. S., and to uphold as far as possible his standing before the membership. The "Joint Note" is as follows:
"To dispel a misconception that has been engendered by mischief-makers, we, the undersigned, Founders of the Theosophical Society, declare that there is no enmity, rivalry, strife, or even coldness, between us, nor ever was; nor any weakening of our joint devotion to the Masters, or to our work, with the execution of which they have honoured us. Widely dissimilar in temperament and mental characteristics, and differing sometimes in views as to methods of propagandism, we are yet absolutely of one mind as to that work. As we have been from the first, so are we now united in purpose and zeal, and ready to sacrifice all, even life, for the promotion of theosophical knowledge, to the saving of mankind from the miseries which spring from ignorance.
- H.P. Blavatsky
The public Notice of the Esoteric Section reads:
"The Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society
"Owing to the fact that a large number of Fellows of the Society have felt the necessity for the formation of a body of Esoteric Students, to be organized on the Original Lines devised by the real founders of the T.S., the
following order has been issued by the President-Founder:
"I. To promote the esoteric interests of the Theosophical Society by the deeper study of esoteric philosophy, there is hereby organized a body, to be known as the 'Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society.'
"II. The constitution and sole direction of the same is vested in Madame H.P. Blavatsky, as its Head; she is solely responsible to the Members for results; and the section has no official or corporate connection with the Esoteric Society save in the person of the President-Founder.
"III. Persons wishing to join the Section and willing to abide by its rules, should communicate directly with Mme. H.P. Blavatsky, 17 Lansdowne Road, Holland Park, London, W.
(Signed) H.S. OLCOTT, President in Council.
"Attest: H.P. Blavatsky"
The astonishing admixture of complacency and naivete exhibited in "Old Diary Leaves" is well illustrated by the following extracts, summing up, from Col. Olcott's point of view, the "title role" played by himself:
"I called two Conventions at London of the British Branches, organized and chartered a British Section of the T.S., and issued an order in Council forming an Esoteric Section, with Madame Blavatsky as its responsible head.... This was the beginning of the E.S.T. movement. ... The reason for my throwing the whole responsibility for results upon H.P.B. was that she had already made one failure in this direction at Adyar in 1884... and I did not care to be responsible for the fulfilment of any special engagements she might make with the new set of students she was now gathering about her, in
her disturbed state of mind. I helped her write some of her instructions, and did all I could to make the way easy for her, but that was all....
My tour realized the objects in view, H.P.B. being pacified, our affairs in Great Britain put in order, and the E. S. started; but... the calm was not destined to last and a second visit to Europe had to be made in 1889, after my return from Japan."
The Work of the Esoteric SectionAfter the events narrated in the last chapter, Col. Olcott returned to India, and, at the end of December, held the usual "convention" or "parliament" at Adyar. The full report of the sessions is contained in the "Supplement" to The Theosophist for January, 1889.
After the admission that "the Annual Convention of the General Council has ceased to be, save in name, the true parliament or congress of the Branches," the report nevertheless goes on to affirm that the "fair thing" was "evidently to extend the sectional scheme to all countries," while yet "keeping the Headquarters as the hub and the President-Founder as the axle of this wheel of many spokes under the car of Progress... with the central point where the President-Founder represents and wields the executive authority of the entire undivided body known as the Theosophical Society."
"The President-Founder's Address" to the Convention opens with an argument to show that he "should be left with the widest discretion" in the management of the Society. Col. Olcott sums up:
"The time has come when I should say, most distinctly and unequivocally, that since I am to stay and be responsible for the progress of the work, I shall not consent to any plan or scheme which hinders me in the performance of my official duty.
"... I have never interfered with the esoteric or metaphysical part, nor set myself up as a competent teacher. That is Madame Blavatsky's specialty; and the better to enunciate that
idea I have just issued an Order in Council in London creating an Esoteric Section under her sole direction, as a body, or group, entirely separate and distinct from the Society proper and involving the latter in no responsibilities toward those who might choose to enroll themselves in her list of adherents.
"... This is my determination: To be.... loyal and staunch to the colleague you and I, and all of us know and a few of us appreciate at her true worth. This is my last word on that subject; but in saying it I do not mean to imply that I shall not freely use my own judgment, independently of Madame Blavatsky's, in every case calling for my personal action, nor that I shall not ever be most willing and anxious to receive and profit by the counsel of every true person who has at heart the interests of the Society. I cannot please all: it is folly to try; the wise man does his duty as he can see it before him."
The Address gives in brief the story of the troubles in Paris and London. Though these events were then all fresh in his mind; though the Master's words were still ringing in his ears; though the generous protection of H.P.B. still enveloped him and enabled him to "save his face" before the rank and file of the membership - the attitude taken and view expressed testify the same invincible self-complacency that at last wholly absorbed the probationary chela in the President-Founder. Thus"
"It was by the Executive Council found expedient that I should proceed to Europe and attempt to bring our affairs into order. We saw the Continental Branches languishing for lack of superintendence and reciprocal work, although there was reason to hope that the movement might be greatly strengthened and ex-
panded under the proper organization.... I formed new Branches...; dischartered the old 'Isis' Branch at Paris and chartered a new one...; called two Conventions in London...; organized and chartered a British Section of the Theosophical Society; and issued an order in Council forming an Esoteric Section of the Society, with Madame Blavatsky as its responsible head. The trouble in the Paris Branch was solely due - as we have almost invariably found to be the case - to personal jealousies and disagreements. The landmarks of the Society had been obliterated and forgotten; there had arisen a strife for supremacy, and, instead of setting the public an example of zealous fraternal union for the propagation of our ideas, the members had fallen to mutual abuse, oral and printed. Both parties were to blame, as I found after patient examination of the documents...."
In no part of Col. Olcott's published statements is there a hint that might be construed that he at any time found himself in any way at fault; on the contrary, there is everywhere the continuous holding out of himself as the all-important factor in bringing order out of chaos, in holding the Society true to its purposes. Nowhere appears the faintest glimmer of perception that he himself might be the weakest joint in the Society's armor; that it was his failures as a probationer which were constantly upsetting his work as Executive.
It is intensely interesting and instructive to turn from the Adyar parliament to the proceedings of the Convention of the American Section in the April following. Delegates and proxies, democratically elected, were in attendance from all of the twenty-five active Lodges in the United States. The only one not represented was the Gnostic of Washington, D.C., controlled by Dr. Elliott Coues, whose case we shall shortly consider.
The spirit and energizing direction of the American section, the devotion to a Cause rather than to its in-
strument, the Society, as contrasted with the work in India under Col. Olcott's autocratic control, are well typified in Madame Blavatsky's Letter to the Convention, presented by Mr. Judge in these words: "I have received from our revered founder, Madame H.P. Blavatsky, a letter for this Convention... and beg to lay it before you."
The four Letters of H.P.B. to the Conventions of the American Section are unique. They are the only addresses of H.P.B. to any Theosophical bodies, for she never thus honored either the Indian, the British, or the European Sections. These Letters are the public authoritative statements by the Agent of the Masters in enunciation of the real basis of the Theosophical Society and of all Theosophical endeavor, esoteric and exoteric. This second Letter was written soon after the issuance of the Preliminary Memorandum and First Instruction to the members of the Esoteric Section. The Letter shows the real spirit of the Movement in the West, the ever-existent dangers to be confronted, her insistent endeavor to keep the line energized in the true direction, and illustrates her exoteric handling of the situation. Thus:
But you in America. Your Karma as a nation has brought Theosophy home to you. The life of the Soul, the psychic side of nature, is open to many of you. The life of altruism is not so much a high ideal as a matter of practice. Naturally, then, Theosophy finds a home in many hearts and minds, and strikes a resounding harmony as soon as it reaches the ears of those who are ready to listen. There, then, is part of your work: to lift high the torch of the liberty of the Soul of Truth that all may see it and benefit by its light.
Therefore it is that the Ethics of Theosophy are even more necessary to mankind than the scientific aspects of the psychic facts of nature and man...
"... Once before was growth checked in connection with the psychic phenomena, and there may yet come a time when the moral and ethical foundations of the Society may be wrecked in a similar way. What can be done to prevent such a thing is for each Fellow of the Society to make Theosophy a vital factor in their lives - to make it real, to weld its principles firmly into their lives - in short, to make it their own and treat the Theosophical Society as if it were themselves. Following closely on this is the necessity for Solidarity among the Fellows of the Society; the acquisition of such a feeling of identity with each and all of our Brothers that an attack upon one is an attack upon all...."
These statements were at once the recital of history, a warning, an admonition, and, as events have all too plainly proved, a prophecy. Where the danger ever lies, and how to meet it, are considered:
"We have external enemies to fight in the shape of materialism, prejudice, and obstinacy; the enemies in the shape of custom and religious forms; enemies too numerous to mention, but nearly as thick as the sand-clouds which are raised by the blasting Sirocco of the desert. Do we not need our strength against these foes? Yet, again, there are more insidious foes, who 'take our name in vain,' and who make Theosophy a by-word in the mouths of men and the Theosophical Society a mark at which to throw mud. They slander Theosophists and Theosophy, and convert the moral Ethics into a cloak to conceal their own selfish objects. And as if this were not sufficient, there are the worst foes of all - those of a man's own household - Theosophists who are unfaithful both to the Society and to themselves...
"Let us, for a moment, glance backwards at
the ground we have passed over. We have ha.... to hold our own against the Spiritists, in the name of Truth and Spiritual Science. Not against the students of the true psychic knowledge, nor against the enlightened Spiritualists; but against the lower order of phenomenalists - the blind worshipers of the illusionary phantoms of the Dead. These we have fought for the sake of Truth, and also for that of the world which they were misleading.... Unless prepared carefully by a long and special course of study, the experimentalist risks not only the medium's soul but his own. The experiments made in Hypnotism and Mesmerism at the present time are experiments of unconscious, when not of conscious, Black Magic. The road is wide and broad which leads to such destruction; and it is but too easy to find; and only too many go ignorantly along it to their own destruction. But the practical cure of it lies in one thing. That is the course of study which I mentioned before. It sounds very simple, but it is eminently difficult; for that cure is "ALTRUISM." And this is the key-note of Theosophy and the cure for all ills; this it is which the real founders of the Theosophical Society promote as its first object - UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD.
"Thus even if only in name a body of Altruists, the Theosophical Society has to fight all who under its cover seek to obtain magical powers to use for their own selfish ends and to the hurt of others. Many are those who joined our Society for no other purpose than curiosity. Psychological phenomena were what they sought, and they were unwilling to yield one iota of their own pleasure and habits to obtain them. These very quickly went away empty-handed. The Theosophical Society has never been and never will be a school of promiscuous Theurgic rites. But there are dozens of small occult Societies
which talk very glibly of Magic, Occultism, Rosicrucians, Adepts, etc. These profess much, even to giving the key to the Universe, but end by leading men to a blank wall instead of the "Door of the Mysteries." These are some of our most insidious foes. Under cover of the philosophy of the Wisdom-Religion they manage to get up a mystical jargon which for the time is effective and enables them, by the aid of a very small amount of clairvoyance, to fleece the mystically inclined but ignorant aspirants to the occult, and lead them like sheep in almost any direction... But woe to those who try to convert a noble philosophy into a den of disgusting immorality, greediness for selfish power, and money-making under the cloak of Theosophy. Karma reaches them when least expected. But is it possible for our Society to stand by and remain respected, unless its members are prepared, at least in future, to stand like one man, and deal with such slanders upon themselves as true Theosophists, and such vile caricatures of their highest ideals.... ?
"But in order that we may be able to effect this working on behalf of our common cause, we have to sink all private differences. Many are the energetic members ... who wish to work and to work hard. But the price of their assistance is that all the work must be done in their way and not in anyone else's way. And if this is not carried out they sink back into apathy or leave the Society entirely, loudly declaring that they are the only true Theosophists. Or, if they remain, they endeavor to exalt their own method of working at the expense of all other earnest workers. This is fact, but it is not Theosophy. There can be no other end to it than that the growth of the Society will soon be split up into various sects, as many as there are leaders.... Is this prospect one to look forward to... ? Is
this "Separateness" consonant with the united Altruism of Universal Brotherhood? Is this the teaching of our noble Masters?"
The Letter contained a public reference to the Esoteric Section in these words:
"As many of you are aware, we have formed the 'Esoteric Section.' Its members are pledged, among other things, to work for Theosophy under my direction. By it, for one thing, we have endeavored to secure some solidarity in our common work; to form a strong body of resistance against attempts to injure us on the part of the outside world, against prejudice against the Theosophical Society and against me personally. By its means much may be done to nullify the damage to the work of the Society in the past and to vastly further its work in the future."
The Letter closes:
"And now a last and parting word. My words may and will pass and be forgotten, but certain sentences from letters written by the Masters will never pass, because they are the embodiment of the highest practical Theosophy. I must translate them for you: -
"'... Let not the fruit of good Karma be your motive; for your Karma, good or bad, being one and the common property of all mankind, nothing good or bad can happen to you that is not shared by many others. Hence your motive, being selfish, can only generate a double effect, good and bad, and will either nullify your good action, or turn it to another man's profit.... There is no happiness for one who is ever thinking of Self and forgetting all other Selves.
"'The Universe groans under the weight of such action (Karma), and none other than self-sacrificial Karma relieves it.... How many of you have helped humanity to carry its smallest burden, that you should all regard yourselves as Theosophists? Oh, men of the West, who would play at being the Saviors of mankind before they even spare the life of a mosquito whose sting threatens them! Would you be partakers of Divine Wisdom or true Theosophists? Then do as the gods when incarnated do. Feel yourselves the vehicles of the whole humanity, mankind as part of yourselves, and act accordingly.... '
"These are golden words; may you assimilate them! This is the hope of one who signs herself most sincerely the devoted sister and servant of every true follower of the Masters of Theosophy."
To any sincere student of today the thirty years of history intervening since the date of this Letter furnish their own confirmation and commentary on the prevision, the spiritual insight, the practical common sense and the never-dying courage of H.P.B. They show, as nothing else does or can do, the overwhelming need for a return to the Source of all true Theosophical inspiration and endeavor. This from the esoteric standpoint alone. Permissible extracts from the Preliminary Memorandum to the E.S. applicants show her esoteric treatment of the same problems:
Immediately following upon the publication in Lucifer of the Notice of the formation of the Esoteric Section, H.P.B. sent out to all applicants a formal communication, marked as were all subsequent papers of the Section, strictly private and confidential. It contained an introductory statement, a summary entitled "Rules of the Esoteric Section (Probationary) of the Theosophical Society," the "Pledge of Probationers in the Eso-
teric Section," and some preliminary questions and requirements to be responded to by the applicant. The introductory paragraphs read as follows:
"I forward you herewith a copy of the Rules and Pledge for Probationers of the Esoteric Section of the T.S.
"Should you be unable to accept them, I request that you will return this to me without delay."
The Rules referred to recite, amongst others, that no one will be admitted who is not a Fellow of the T.S.; that applications for membership in the Esoteric Section must be accompanied by a copy of the Pledge "written out and signed by the Candidate, who thereupon enters upon a special period of probation, which commences from the date of his signature"; that "all members shall be approved by the Head of the Section" - H.P.B. Some hundreds of the most active and earnest Fellows of the T.S. complied with all the formal requirements above outlined, sent in their Pledges, and entered upon their special period of probation. H.P.B. forwarded to all these the First Preliminary Memorandum of the Section. This remarkable document has either been suppressed, altered or ignored, like the Pledge and Rules of the original School, by its unworthy "successors"; while its plain statements of facts, its prescient presentments of principles and their applications to the then present and future, now the past, the present, and the future, have been deliberately disregarded and corrupted.
The Preliminary Memorandum tells the probationers the impelling occasion for the step taken:
"... At this stage it is perhaps better that the applicants should learn the reason for the formation of this Section, and what it is expected to achieve.
"The Theosophical Society had just entered upon the fourteenth year of its existence; and if it had accomplished great, one may almost say stupendous, results on the exoteric and utilitarian plane, it had proved a dead failure on all those points which rank foremost among the objects of its original establishment. Thus, as a 'Universal Brotherhood,' or even as a fraternity, one among many, it had descended to the level of all those societies whose pretensions are great, but whose names are simply masks - nay, even Shams. Nor can the excuse be pleaded that it was led into such an undignified course owing to its having been impeded in its natural development, and almost extinguished, by reason of the conspiracies of its enemies openly begun in 1884. Because even before that date there never was that solidarity in the ranks of our Society which would not only enable it to resist all external attacks, but also make it possible for greater, wider and more tangible help to be given to all its members by Those who are always ready to give help when we are fit to receive it. When trouble arose, too many were quick to doubt and despair, and few indeed were they who had worked for the Cause and not for themselves. The attacks of the enemy have given the Society some discretion in the conduct of its external progress but its real internal condition has not improved, and the members, in their efforts toward spiritual culture still require that help which solidarity in the ranks can alone give them the right to ask. The Masters can give but little assistance to a Body not thoroughly united in purpose and feeling, and which breaks its first fundamental rule - universal brotherly love, without distinction of race; creed, colour or caste, i.e., the social distinctions made in the world; nor to a Society, many members of which pass their lives in judg-
ing, condemning, and often reviling other members in a most untheosophical, not to say disgraceful, manner.
"For this reason it was decided to gather the 'elect' of the T.S., and to call them to action. It is only by a select group of brave souls, a handful of determined men and women hungry for genuine spiritual development and the acquirement of soul-wisdom, that the Theosophical Society at large can be brought back to its original lines. It is through an Esoteric Section alone - i.e., a group in which all the members, even if unacquainted with one another, work for each other, and by working for all work for themselves - that the great Esoteric Society may be redeemed and made to realize that in union and harmony alone lie its strength and power. The object of this Section, then, is to help the future growth of the Theosophical Society as a whole in the true direction, by promoting brotherly union at least among a choice minority.
"All know that this end was in view when the Society was established, and even in its mere unpledged ranks there was a possibility of development and knowledge, until it began to show want of real union; and now it must be saved from future dangers by the united aim, brotherly feeling, and constant exertions of the members of this Esoteric Section. Once offered the grand example of practical altruism, of the noble lives of those who learn to master the great knowledge but to help others, and who strive to acquire powers but to place them at the service of their fellow-men, and the whole Theosophical community may yet be steered into action, and led to follow the example set before them.
"The Esoteric Section is thus 'set apart' for the salvation of the whole Society, and its course from its first step is an arduous and
uphill work for its members, though a great reward lies behind the many obstacles once they are overcome."
To allay any misapprehensions due to widespread erroneous ideas regarding chelaship and asceticism while at the same time placing before the Candidates the seriousness of the steps contemplated and the absolutely essential prerequisites to any real solidarity or individual evolution, several paragraphs are devoted to direct plain speaking on these subjects. Thus the Candidates are told that one object of the Memorandum -
"... is to give timely warning to any applicant, should he feel unable or unwilling to accept fully and without reserve, the instructions which may be given, or the consequences that may result, and to do the duties whose performance shall be asked. It is but fair to state at once that such duties will never interfere with, nor encroach upon, the probationer's family duties; on the other hand, it is certain that every member of the Esoteric Section will have to give up more than one personal habit, such as practised in social life, and adopt some few ascetic rules."
Those who may be seeking "powers" and "Occult preferment" are advised:
"This degree of the Esoteric Section is probationary, and its general purpose is to prepare and fit the student for the study of practical Occultism or Raja Yoga. Therefore, in this degree the student - save in exceptional cases - will not be taught how to produce physical phenomena, nor will any magical powers be allowed to develop in him; nor, if possessing such powers naturally, will he be permitted to exercise them before he has mastered the knowledge of Self, of the psycho-physiological processes...
in the human body generally, and until he has in abeyance all his lower passions and his Personal Self ....
"Each person will receive in the way of enlightenment and assistance, just as much as he or she deserves, and no more; and it is to be distinctly understood that in this Section and these relations no such thing is known as favour - all depends upon the person's merits - and no member has the power or knowledge to decide what either he or she is entitled to. This must be left to those who know - alone. The apparent favour shown to some, and their consequent apparent advancement, will be due to the work they do, to the best of their power, in the cause of Universal Brotherhood and the elevation of the Race.
"No man or woman is asked or expected to do any more than is his or her best; but each is expected to work to the extent of his ability and powers.
"The value of the work of this Section to the individual member will depend upon:
"1st. The person's power to assimilate the teachings and make them a part of his being; and
"2nd. Upon the unselfishness of the motives with which he seeks for his knowledge; that is to say, upon whether he has entered this Section determined to work for humanity, or with only the desire to benefit or gain something for himself."
The Book of Rules supplied to each Candidate with the Preliminary Memorandum provided specifically amongst other things, that the various Groups into which those accepted were to be formed were not for practical Occultism, but for mutual study of the Instructions and help in the Theosophic life; gossip, derogatory statements, and the repetition of slanderous and
hearsay statements were strictly forbidden; the dangers and evils of cant, hypocrisy, and injustice to others were enforced; claims of Occult powers, boasting or speaking of Occult experiences, whether falsely or truly, discountenanced under penalty; the widest charity, tolerance, and mutual consideration and helpfulness laid down as the sine qua non of all true progress. "The first test of true apprenticeship," said the Rule on that subject, "is devotion to the interest of another," and continued:
"For these doctrines to practically react on the life through the so-called moral code or the ideas of truthfulness, purity, self-denial, charity, etc., we have to preach and popularize a knowledge of Theosophy. It is not the individual or determined purpose of attaining oneself Nirvana, which is, after all, only an exalted and glorious selfishness, but the self-sacrificing pursuit of the best means to lead our neighbor on the right path, and cause as many of our fellow creatures as we possibly can to benefit by it, which constitutes the true Theosophist.
Mabel Collins and professor CouesBy 1889, despite all obstacles and all limitations, despite all the guerilla warfare of antagnostic elements and all the heavy artillery of the numerous "exposures" of H.P.B., the Theosophical Movement had gained such headway that the word "Theosophy" was part of the vocabulary of every intelligent person. The Theosophical Society was established in every civilized country and in every large city; the public announcement of the Esoteric Section had drawn the attention of the mystically inclined to the fact of the existence of a definite school of Occult instruction. The student will have poorly gauged the force of the powerful metaphysical current at work if he is not prepared for a more striking example of the real Theosophical phenomena than any so far produced. The great storm of 1889-90 does not vary in essentials from those which preceded it. The drama is the same.
Originally a newspaper writer and novelist, Miss Mabel Collins, then a young woman, had joined the London Lodge in 1884. Imaginative and sensitive in temperament she became intensely interested, not in Theosophy, but in the "psychical activities" pursued by many of the members of that Lodge. During that year she produced "The Idyll of the White Lotus." This was followed, early in 1885, by "Light on the Path, a Treatise written for the personal use of those who are ignorant of the Eastern Wisdom, and who desire to enter within its influence. Written down by M.C., Fellow of the Theosophical Society." As this was the first and up to that time the only, apparently simple and direct statement of the Rules of practical Occultism, and as it was plainly hinted
that the book was "inspired" it attracted immediate attention. Moreover, its inherent merit, the sustained beauty of its diction, the noble simplicity of its expression of the loftiest ethics, the moral grandeur of the ideals submitted as within the reach of human attainment, at once gave it rank as a Theosophical classic. "Through the Gates of Gold," from the same pen, appeared in 1887. In the autumn of the same year, when Madame Blavatsky began the publication of Lucifer, the name of Mabel Collins appeared with her own as Editor. In view of the circumstances it was but natural that Theosophists everywhere should hold Miss Collins in the highest respect and regard.
When, therefore, with the issue of February 15, 1889, the name of Mabel Collins disappeared from Lucifer, it was inevitable that a furor of curiosity and interest should set in. This was accentuated by the fact that Miss Collins retired to privacy and gave no hint as to the cause of the breach; Lucifer gave no explanations and made no comments; Mr. Judge's Path and Col. Olcott's Theosophist remained equally silent. There the matter rested, so far as concerned public knowledge of events "behind the scenes," until the month of May.
On May 11, 1889, there appeared in the Religio-Philosophical Journal a letter from Dr. Elliott Coues, embodying a letter to him from Miss Mabel Collins. The Religio-Philosophical Journal was an old established and leading Spiritualist publication printed at Chicago and edited by Col. Bundy, a life-long Spiritualist and a friend of Prof. Coues. Colonel Bundy had been admitted to membership in the Theosophical Society in 1885, on the recommendation of Prof. Coues and was a member of the Gnostic Branch of the T.S., at Washington, D.C., a Branch founded by Prof. Coues who was and had been its President from the beginning. The Religio-Philosophical Journal had previously given publicity to attacks upon H.P.B., by W. Emmette Coleman, whose life was for many years chiefly devoted to that purpose.
The Coues-Collins letters, and other communications from the same source in later issues of the Religio-Phil-
osophical Journal, made grave charges against H.P.B., - grave in themselves, and doubly so from the reputation of those who made them.
Of Catholic family and education, Prof. Coues was a university graduate and originally by profession an American Army surgeon attached to various posts and expeditions. Highly educated, exceedingly versatile, of independent means, he became interested in various branches of science and pursued his studies and investigations to such good purpose that he soon ranked as an authority on many subjects. He published various books and was invited to edit that portion of the "Century Dictionary" dealing with his specialties. Early in the 80's of the last century, while still in the prime of life, he awakened to an interest in psychical research, and conducted many experiments of his own with chosen "subjects." He early became a member of the London Society for Psychical Research and was in London in the summer of 1884, at the time the S.P.R. Committee was making its preliminary investigation and report on the Theosophical phenomena. He sought out Col. Olcott who was naturally rejoiced to make his acquaintance, and finding his interest, to induct him into membership in the Theosophical Society. In company with Col. Olcott, Prof. Coues and his wife journeyed to Elberfeld, Germany to meet H.P.B., who was at the time with the trusted and trusting Gebhards. A great and spontaneous affection sprang up between Mrs. Coues and H.P.B. - an affection which never lapsed, on the one side or on the other.
Professor Coues met Col. Olcott again at London and was appointed a member of the newly constituted American Board of Control of the Theosophical Society. On his return to the United States he established the Gnostic Branch of the T.S. In 1885 he was active in the formation of the American Society for Psychical Research along the same lines of inquiry as pursued by its British predecessor. He was elected Chairman of the American Board of Control of the T.S., and in the midst of his multifarious activities in other directions busied himself in correspondence with members of the Society. Of
engaging manners and distinguished appearance, as excellent a speaker as he was brilliant a writer, he was a very popular lecturer and gave many addresses before scientific bodies, clubs, and other associations. Although he never made any distinctly Theosophical addresses there runs through all his lectures of the period a definite note of inquiry and suggestion of broader fields of investigation than those passing current under the name of "science." Although he was not a contributor to the Theosophical literature of the times, as editor of the "Biogen Series" he brought out an American edition of Col. Olcott's "Buddhist Catechism," republished the monograph, "Can Matter Think?" and published with an introduction and notes by himself Robert Dodsley's "True and Complete Economy of Human Life," originally issued at London in 1750. To this reprint he added the subtitle, "Based on the System of Theosophical Ethics." This phrase, his use of the name "Kuthumi" - a variant spelling of Koot Hoomi, the Mahatma to whom Mr. Sinnett's "Occult World" is dedicated - some questionable expressions in his introduction and notes, and his personal prominence and known affiliation with the Theosophical Society, gave Mr. Judge occasion to insert in The Path for July, 1886, two references, one a review complimentary to the "Biogen Series" and to Prof. Coues personally, and the other a correction of possible misconceptions in the following words
"The association of the name Kuthumi with the book, so perplexing to understand, is not a biographical fact, as Prof. Cones explains in his 'foreword' (p. 10). It only remains to state clearly what is implied in the foreword that the Theosophical Society has no special code of morals, ready made and rigorously defined, for the acceptance of its members on admission."
By the summer of 1886, it became evident that the Board of Control, originally promulgated by Col. Olcott at Mr. Judge's request in order to avoid delay in
the conduct of the official routine of the American Branches, was, in the hands of Prof. Coues, a mere exchange of the paternal autocracy of Col. Olcott for the arbitrary autocracy of Prof. Coues. Mr. Judge had recourse to H.P.B. and Col. Olcott, and at a meeting of the Board of Control, held at Rochester, N.Y., at the house of Mrs. Cables on July 4, 1886, additional "orders" from Col. Olcott and his Indian General Council were presented by Mr. Judge, calling for a revised plan whereby an American Section of the General Council was to be formed. In this American Council was to be merged the Board of Control, the members of which, as also the Presidents of Branches, were to become ex officio members of the American Council. Provision was also to be made for the election of additional members of the American Council by the votes of the members of the Society.
Notwithstanding this promulgation, Prof. Coues, immediately after his return to his home, issued of his own motion the following:
"American Board of Control - Office of the President"
"Washington, D.C., July 12 1896
"It is desired that The Occult Word become the official organ of the American Board of Control of the Theosophical Society.
"Correspondents having notes and news respecting the Society in America are requested to send them to The Occult Word. Members and others having the interests of the Society at heart will do well to extend the circulation of The Occult Word.
"Contributors of articles upon speculative, doctrinal, or operative Theosophy will be individually responsible therefor, as heretofore.
Elliot Coues, President."
It was already an open secret that Mrs. Cables, Editor of The Occult Word, another member of the Board of Control, and her associate, Mr. Brown, were disaf-
fected with the "Theosophical Mahatmas," a disaffection which burst into flame a few months later, as has been narrated in an earlier chapter. (1)
In The Path, for August, 1886, Mr. Judge, knowing well the tangential activities of Prof. Coues, Mrs. Cables, and others, published in the section, "Reviews and Notes," an article, "Theosophy in the Press," in which, after noting the sudden appearance within a few months of many articles in the daily papers "full of misstatements mixed with ignorance of... Theosophy," he goes on to say:
"But some Theosophists have been guilty of ventilating in the papers the statement that Theosophy is astralism, that is to say, that the object of the Society is to induce people to go into the study and practice of spirit raising, cultivating the abnormal faculties, of clairvoyance and the like, ignoring entirely the prime object, real end, aim and raison d'etre of the movement - universal brotherhood and ethical teaching. In fact, we make bold to assert, from our own knowledge and from written documents, that the Mahatmas, who started the Society, and who stand behind it now, are distinctly opposed to making prominent these phenomenal leanings, this hunting after clairvoyance and astral bodies, and they have so declared most unmistakably, stating their wish and advice to be, that 'the Society should prosper on its ethical, philosophical and moral worth alone.'
"Theosophists should haste to see that this false impression created at large, that it is a dangerous study, or that it is any way dangerous, or that we conceal our reasons for doing what we are doing, is done away with... If one or two persons in the Society imagine that the pursuit of psychical phenomena is its real end and aim and so declare, that weighs nothing
(1) See chapter VIII.
against the immense body of the membership or against its widespread literature; it is merely their individual bias.
But at the same time, this imagination and misstatement are dangerous, and insidiously so. It is just the impression which the Jesuit college desires to be spread abroad concerning us, so that in one place ridicule may follow, and in another superstitious dread of the thing; which ever of these may happen to obtain, they would be equally well pleased.
"Let Theosophists attend to this, and let them not forget, that the only authoritative statements of what are the ends and objects of the Society are contained in those printed in its bylaws. No amount of assertion to the contrary by any officer or member can change that declaration."
In the September, 1886, number of The Path was printed the notice of the receipt of the "formal orders" to form the American Council. On this Mr. Judge comments:
"This action is eminently wise, as the term Board of Control was misleading, inasmuch as the very foundation of the Society is democratic in its nature, and control savored too much of form, ceremonies, discipline, officers, secret reports and all the paraphernalia of an established church."
The expression "Board of Control" was Col. Olcott's coinage. The various stages recounted were accepted by Mr. Judge as necessary intermediate steps in the effort to arrive at real democracy among the American Theosophists. Colonel Olcott was at all times loath to surrender his "paternal government" of the Society as a whole, and he acceded to the gradual democratization of the Society in America only under the steady pressure
of Mr. Judge, reinforced by the insistence of H.P.B. He at last consented to issue his "official order" for the formation of the American Section of the Theosophical Society, and at a meeting of the Board of Control, held at Cincinnati in October, 1886, and attended also by delegates and members from numerous Branches, the arrangements were perfected for the first Convention at New York City in April, 1887, at which elected delegates from all the Branches were present, adopted a constitution, and elected officers and a Council. The first formal Convention was held the next year, April, 1888, at Chicago.
Meantime a "lively interchange of letters," as "Old Diary Leaves" phrases it, had been going on, not only between H.P.B. and Col. Olcott over the threatening breach between them on matters of policy and the forthcoming Esoteric Section, but as well among Prof. Coues, Mr. Judge, Col. Olcott, and H.P.B. over affairs in America - as may readily be inferred from what has been stated. (2)
There can be no doubt that Col. Olcott, impressed by the prominence and ability of Prof. Coues, sympathized with that gentleman, whose views were entirely congenial to him. Nor can it, we think, be doubted that Prof. Coues, fully informed as to Col. Olcott's feelings, those of Mr. Sinnett and others, may well have concluded that he had but to lead in the coming battle, and all the disaffected would openly as well as secretly support him. Able, audacious, and subtle, he was writing in one strain to Col. Olcott, in another to H.P.B., and in a third to Mr. Judge. Like so many others he was entirely unaware that H.P.B. and Mr. Judge, working as one in the Cause dear to them, made no moves, the one without the other, nor ever wrote letters or other communications on moot Theosophical matters without supplying each other with copies. Nor was it conceivable to him or to many others prominent in the Society that the Occultism of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge was genuine and not spurious or mediumistic.
(2) See Chapters IX and X.
Colonel Olcott, honest to the core, loyal in his better moments to both his colleagues, was yet, by reason of his personal weaknesses and past life, almost wholly susceptible to the arts of those who knew how to play and prey upon his vanity, his fears and doubts concerning the welfare of his beloved Society, of which he had long since constituted himself the tutelary deity. Much may be read and inferred of the unwritten history of this period from the following extract from one of the President-Founder's letters to Prof. Coues:
"Another warning: Beware how you encourage H.P.B. to act outside her special province of mystical research and esoteric teaching. The Council will stand no nonsense, nor shall I ratify a single order or promise of hers made independently of me and my full antecedent possession of the facts. She telegraphed to abolish the Board of Control and had just issued a revolutionary commission to Arthur Gebhard with an idiotic disregard of the proprieties and her own position. She seems a Bourbon as to memory and receptivity and fancies the old halcyon days are not gone. I shall neither ratify what she has done, nor anything of the sort she may in future do. Within her domain she is queen; outside that - well, fill in the blank yourself. Several attempts have been made to get her to set up a rival society.... She has not yet been fool enough to fall into the trap, nor do I think her brain will soften to the point of doing it. She would thereby take a life-contract for a fight;... and find herself with enfeebled health, advanced years and a tainted reputation recommencing our work of 1875, without, pardon me, an Olcott to stick to her, as I have, through thick and thin and bear shame and disgrace with mute endurance." (3)
(3) The Sun, New York, July 20, 1890. The authenticity of this letter, published by Prof. Coues, was never disputed by Col. Olcott.
At the Chicago Convention at the end of April, 1888, Prof. Coues was present as a delegate and President of the Gnostic Branch of the T.S. He was elected Chairman of the Convention and presided over its sessions. The newspapers of the city gave a good deal of space to the proceedings and reporters were present at all of the open meetings. Following the Convention the Chicago Tribune published, without disclosing the source from which it had received them, a letter and facsimile of an alleged "message from a Mahatma" to Dr. Coues. Naturally this aroused considerable passing curiosity among the general public, and a very decided interest among American Theosophists. No public notice was taken of the matter either by H.P.B. or Mr. Judge, but the latter wrote privately to Dr. Coues, who responded as follows, under date of May 21, 1888:
"My dear Judge: - I think that on reflection you will find yourself a little hasty in pitching into me about that Tribune matter.
"... Now I saw that letter of which you complain fall down from the air over a person's head, precisely in the same manner as you have seen a like letter fall - one, of which we have since heard a good deal. The writing on one side was in that peculiar hand which I have learned to recognize in several expressions of the will of the Blessed Masters which you have been good enough to send me.... The writing on the other side must have been subsequently precipitated and the seal affixed.... If K.H. had not wished about 75,000 persons to be advised of the mode in which he brought about the Convention in Chicago he could easily have dematerialized that document.... It was clearly the will of the Brotherhood that the T.S. should be thus broadly advertised - and no doubt it would also be by the will of the same august personages, if the "Religio" (4) for example
(4) "Religio" means the Religio-Philosophical Journal.
should contain some day a column or two explaining the delicate and mysterious manner in which rice-paper communications are 'precipitated' out of the Akasa."
This is dearly a tacit admission on Coues' part that he furnished the "message" to the Tribune, that he "saw" it precipitated, and an insinuation that he had received from Mr. Judge similar "messages." To Dr. Coues' letter Mr. Judge replied intimating that the whole tale, "messages" and all, originated in Dr. Coues' own brain. Under date of June 11, 1888, Prof. Coues replied to Mr. Judge's warnings:
"Dear Judge: - But now comes another trouble. It appears, and not from 'Cones' brain,' but from a much more material and very likely much stupider source, that you have been opposing my long standing candidacy for the esoteric presidency, in order to keep the ostensible control of T.S. in your own hand and make yourself the real or actual head of the concern in America, leaving me only as a figure-head; and I am referred to all and any newspaper reports which emanate from the Aryan (5) or yourself, as carefully suppressing or at least not putting forward my name, etc."
It had become very well known amongst members of the T.S. in the United States that Dr. Coues, in the course of his personal propaganda had broadly hinted at his own Occult relations with the Mahatmas, and as neither Mr. Judge nor H.P.B. in any way confirmed his claims, more or less questioning and suspicion arose in regard to him and his ulterior purposes. Thus "hoist with his own petard," Dr. Cones endeavored to turn his tactics to better advantage in the attempt to gain for
(5) "Aryan" means the Aryan Theosophical Society of New York City, the re-organization of the parent T.S. Mr. Judge was President of the Aryan Society.
himself the powerful support of H.P.B. in his ambition to be the public head of the Society in America, and as part of his campaign to enfold Mr. Judge in the soiled robes of his own pretended "messages." H.P.B. replied guardedly to his communications; agreeing where she could with Coues' strictures and criticisms on Col. Olcott, Mr. Judge, and the "management" of the Society; encouraging him to live up to his own protestations of loyalty, influence, and devotion to the Society; ignoring his egotism and blandishments; correcting him only where the issue raised was point-blank. On Christmas Day, 1888, he wrote her a bombastic and fulsome letter. Mr. Judge was at the time in England with H.P.B.; Col. Olcott, furious with her action in the Paris T.S. and her plain speaking with him, had just departed after his "pitched battle" with her, and his reconciliation due chiefly to the Master's Letter, as has already been told. (6) Col. Olcott had been in communication with Prof. Coues and had poured out his feelings as we have seen. Prof. Coues' Christmas letter to H.P.B. was intended to avail himself of the supposed strained relations all around. We quote his closing phrases:
"Is your 'first-born,' the meek Hibernian Judge, (7) still with your majesty? Give my love to him and say, I don't get up very early, but I stay up very late. I am glad you made it all right with your psychologized baby Olcott when he was with you....
"And after all, dear H.P.B., I am really very fond and very proud of you, and admire your genius as only a man of genius can. So here's my blessing, and all good wishes, for the greatest woman of this age, who is born to redeem her times, and go down to everlasting historical fame.
"Ever yours, still in the psychic maelstrom, Darius Hystaspes II"
(6) See Chapter X.
(7) Mr. Judge was of Irish parentage and birth.
In one of her letters to Dr. Coues, H.P.B. had called Mr. Judge her first-born; Col. Olcott she had spoken of as a psychologized baby when referring to the effects upon him of his twenty years' dabbling with mediums and his never-ending thirst for phenomena. Darius Hystaspes II was a favorite signature of Dr. Coues in writing to H.P.B., as Dr. Faustus was in his letters to Mr. Judge.
On April 16, 1889, just prior to the Convention of the American Section for that year, Dr. Coues wrote H.P.B. a long letter detailing his own greatness and influence, the strength of his Gnostic Branch (it had some thirty members all told, at the time, none of them active Theosophically), and with half-veiled threats tried to induce her to ask the American Theosophists to place him at their head. Thus:
"You appear to have been misinformed or uninformed respecting the Gnostic and its Branches, as well as my own work in your behalf. Both in numbers and in quality of its membership, the Gnostic is unquestionably the leading Branch of the T.S. in the country. Its members are for the most part of a high, refined, educated, and influential class in society, in science and before the world, and most of them are indefatigable in working for the cause to which your own great and noble life is devoted. I am satisfied that if you would do your part to give my Gnostics their just dues and recognition, they and I can lift Theosophy clear of the mud which has been thrown upon it and set your own self in a proper light before the world. We all feel keenly the abuse and persecution to which you have been subjected, and anxious to do you full justice and honor. But they are unanimously dissatisfied with the way the society is run at present, and they wonder
where your Intuition can be, that you fail to see where your obvious advantage lies, in not strengthening and holding up the hands of their representative man [Prof. Cones]... Be wise now and be warned in time; you are a very great woman, who should be quick to see that this is no ordinary occasion. I tell you frankly, it is possible that all this prestige, social and personal and professional influence, scientific attainment and public interest, can be thrown on the side of the T.S., as at present constituted, or can be switched off on a new track aside from the old lines. If you cannot See this, and understand it, and act accordingly, there is nothing more for me to say, and I must presume that you do not care for my people. Judge and I came to a fair understanding once, and I was carrying out our agreement in good faith, and all was smooth, when something or other, affecting the question of the Presidency, interfered, and since then there has been nothing but friction and misunderstanding in the "Esoteric" T.S. - which you know consisted of yourself, myself, and Judge and your issue of a new and different "esoteric" manifesto did not mend matters. Now be wise and Politic.... The T.S. in America is at present a Headless monstrosity: it must have a visible, official head to represent its real, invisible source. You know whom the majority of the F.T.S. have desired to put forward as their representative theosophist in America. It is only necessary for you to cable the Chicago Convention, to elect him president. Weigh these words well; pause, consider, reflect, and Act. 'If 'twere well done, 'twere well done quickly.'"
The next day, April 17, 1889, he wrote her further on the same subject and, with incomparable effrontery, in-
eluded the following choice gems of his egotism and mendacity:
"... do you know you are getting great discredit in this country and for what do you suppose? for being jealous of me! Can you imagine such flapdoodle? You are not moved by abuse, but you want to know how people think and what they say, and a great many are talking loudly and wildly, that your silence respecting my books in the 'Secret Doctrine,' and the absence of my name from Lucifer (as well as from The Path) means that you are afraid of my growing power, and will brook no rival so dangerously near the papal throne of theosophy.... There is another queer thing. You have somehow got it stuck in your mind, that I put in the Chicago Tribune last year a caricature of the Master K.H. I had nothing whatever to do with the article, which was merely a newspaper skit, and the lithographed effusion was no more a Mahatmic document than this letter. It was simply a piece of newspaper wit.
"Judge is a good fellow and means well, and I like him for many things, especially his devotion to you and the masters and their Cause; but dabbling in occultism, especially on a Mahatmic altitude is dangerous except to an Adept!! I am the humble servant of my Mahatma."
The American Convention met at the end of the same month. Professor Coues was not present. He was not elected President or any other officer of the American Section. H.P.B. did not cable the Convention as requested. On the contrary, her formal Letter to that Convention had distinct reference to the class of "Theosophists" of which Prof. Coues was such a shining example, as may be observed from the extracts given in the last chapter. And under date of April 30, 1889, she wrote Prof. Coues from London, saying:
"Dear Doctor Coues: I have received your two letters and read them as they stand and also between the lines and therefore I mean to be as frank with you as you are frank with me. I will take your two letters point by point."
Point by point she goes over the various matters in Prof. Coues' letters, in friendly, considerate, but severely plain language, and on the subject of the "message from the Mahatma" she says:
"3. If you had nothing to do with the Chicago Tribune article (tho' you must have influence with your own nephew) then why did you not contradict it, then and there?
"4. I know nothing about the number of messages you may have received from Masters through Judge, whom I would never believe capable of it, or any one else.... You speak of my seals on those letters.... Where did they get this? From Judge, from me or from you? It could hardly have been any except one of us three.... Your wise advice that such Mahatma messages should be confined to one channel, 'the only genuine and original H.P.B. your friend,' was anticipated by Mahatma K.H. in so many words. Then why do you kick against that? You speak of your Mahatma, then why don't you send letters in his name instead of those of my Master and Mahatma K.H. That would settle all the difficulties and there would be no quarrel... What you have learned through me, I know, and do not want to know beyond. You may obey or disobey your Master as much as you like, if you know him to exist outside of your psychic visions. As to mine, every man devoid of all psychic powers can see him, since he is a living man. I wish he could be yours, for then, my dearest Dr., you would be spiritually a better man and a less sceptical one than you are.
"You speak of your eagerness 'to defend and help a woman who has been sadly persecuted, because misunderstood.' Permit me to say to you for the last time that no bitterest enemy of mine has ever misunderstood me as you do.... "
The Coues-Collins Charges and their AftermathHaving failed, alike in his attempts to ingratiate himself with the American Theosophists, to deceive H.P.B. in regard to his own treacherous course, or to disturb her complete confidence and trust in Mr. Judge, and his material being all prepared and ready for the execution of his thinly veiled threats, Prof. Coues made the first assault in his campaign to ruin if he could not rule.
On May 11, 1889, appeared the first Coues-Collins letters in the Religio-Philosophical Journal; followed up in the issue of the same journal for June 1, with two more letters from the same source. Succeeding issues followed with additional guns from the Editor, Col. Bundy, from Mr. W. Emmette Coleman, and others, in addition to Prof. Coues. Other Spiritualist and sectarian publications and the secular press followed suit. A manifestly inspired attack on everything Theosophical, including of course H.P.B. and Mr. Judge, raged in many quarters. In England the ground had been equally well prepared, and in Light of the issues for May, June, and succeeding months the charges first published in America were repeated, with additions and variations. There, as in the United States, many other publications entered the fray, and there was a revival of the familiar tactics employed five years previously during the Coulomb and S.P.R. attack. The Religio-Philosophical Journal did not open its columns to counter evidence, but Light, with a display of fairness as commendable as it was unique, gave space as freely to defenders as to assailants. During the summer and autumn another strategem was employed in a manner worthy of the best traditions of the followers of Ignatius Loyola. This jesuitical device was
ably carried out through Michael Angelo Lane. Mr. Lane was a newspaper reporter of St. Louis. Becoming interested in Theosophy as early as 1885, he joined the Society and corresponded with the headquarters at Adyar. Later on he became acquainted with Mr. Judge and volunteered his services in New York. After the formation of the Esoteric Section, Mr. Lane made his application for admission thereto as a probationer. He professed the utmost devotion to the Cause and wrote H.P.B. his desire to go to London to be near her and to aid in the work there. He took the pledge of the Esoteric Section, went to London, and was at the London headquarters for several weeks. He mysteriously disappeared on several occasions and very shortly returned to the United States. Thereafter he went from Lodge to Lodge, ostensibly as a Theosophist and member of the Esoteric Section and spread stories among the members to the discredit of H.P.B., of the Section and of the Society. Mr. Lane was promptly exposed as soon as circumstantial statements of his activities were forwarded to London, whereupon he ranged himself openly with Prof. Coues and other enemies of H.P.B., and her work. Professor Coues also had early applied to H.P.B. for the pledge and preliminary papers of the Esoteric Section, and these had been transmitted to him in confidence, the same as to all other applicants. He violated the confidence reposed in him, for these papers and the pledge were printed in the Religio-Philosophical Journal during the course of the warfare, and their contents discussed with, and a portion of them given by Prof. Coues directly to the New York Sun in an interview.
In his first letter to the Religio-Philosophical Journal Prof. Coues stated specifically that "about four years ago," (i.e., in 1885) being interested in "Light on the Path," he "wrote Mrs. Collins a letter, praising it and asking her about its real source." This was because "Light on the Path," said Prof. Coues, "was supposed to have been dictated to Mrs. Collins by 'Koot Hoomi,' or some other Hindu adept who held the Theosophical Society in the hollow of his masterly hand." To this
letter of his Miss Collins "promptly replied, in her own handwriting, to the effect that `Light on the Path' was inspired or dictated from the source above indicated." Dr. Coues goes on to say that since that time "nothing passed between Mrs. Collins and myself until yesterday [May 2, 1889], when I unexpectedly received the following letter." Miss Collins' letter is dated April 18, 1889, and runs:
"Dear Sir: I feel I have a duty to write you on a difficult and (to me) painful subject. and that I must not delay it any longer.
"You will remember writing to ask me who was the inspirer of 'Light on the Path.' If you had not yourself been acquainted with Madame Blavatsky I should despair of making you ever understand my conduct. Of course I ought to have answered the letter without showing it to any one else; but at that time I was both studying Madame Blavatsky and studying under her. I knew nothing then of the mysteries of the Theosophical Society, and I was puzzled why you should write me in such a way. I took the letter to her; the result was that I wrote the answer at her dictation. I did not do this by her orders; I have never been under her orders. But I have done one or two things because she begged and implored me to; and this I did for that reason. So far as I can remember I wrote you that I had received 'Light on the Path' from one of the Masters who guide Madame Blavatsky. I wish to ease my conscience now by saying that I wrote this letter from no knowledge of my own and merely to please her; and that I now see that I was very wrong in doing so. I ought further to state that 'Light on the Path' was not to my knowledge inspired by any one; but that I saw it written on the walls of a place I visit spiritually, (which is described in the "Blossom and the Fruit") - there I read
it and I wrote it down. I have myself never received proof of the existence of any Master; though I believe (as always) that the mahatmic force must exist.
Professor Coues says of Mabel Collins' letter to him as above:
"I was not surprised at the new light it threw on the pathway of the Theosophical Society, for late developments respecting that singular result of Madame Blavatsky's now famous hoax left me nothing to wonder at."
Next, in the Religio-Philosophical Journal of June 1, 1889, Prof. Coues appears with another letter in which he says that in his first communication he did not give the original letter from Miss Collins because - "I could not conveniently lay my hands on it." He says he now gives it "word for word. It is in Mrs. Cooke's handwriting, undated and unsigned." This undated and unsigned note is as follows:
"The writer of 'The Gates of Gold' is Mabel Collins, who had it as well as 'Light on the Path' and the 'Idyll of the White Lotus' dictated to her by one of the adepts of the group which through Madame Blavatsky first communicated with the Western world. The name of this inspirer cannot be given, as the personal names of the Masters have already been sufficiently desecrated."
Professor Coues adds:
"This is exactly, word for word, what Mrs. Cooke now says she wrongly wrote to me because Madame Blavatsky 'begged and im-
plored' her to do so, and which she also wrote
at her dictation. It certainly has the genuine Blavatskian ring about it."
In a subsequent communication to the Religio-Philosophical Journal Dr. Coues has the hardihood to subscribe himself "F. T. S." (Fellow of the Theosophical Society), but the contents of the letter identify him as its author. Addressing himself to the Editor, Dr. Coues says:
"If your mail resembles mine in quantity and quality of theosophical correspondence since "Mabel Collins'" disavowal of inspiration from Madame Blavatsky's Hindu 'controls' it must be curious reading.... At this revelation through the Journal some people are pleased; other sorry, others angry; some applaud; some condemn; many are curious, and most of them want to argue about it. My mail has a sort of shivery, gooseflesh quality, as if a panic in mahatmic stock were imminent and there is a tendency of the hair of the faithful to stand on end....
"First, a good many persons are surprised that I seem to have only now found out that 'Light on the Path' was not dictated by our friend Koot Hoomi or any other Eastern adept. Such have always known all about its source and my discovery is discounted as a theosophical chestnut. Let me say to all such that I do not always tell all I know, and that I might have continued silent on the authorship of 'Light on the Path,' had I not had reasons for publishing Mrs. Cooke's letter just then and there - reasons I reserve for the present."
Examining Prof. Coues' "evidence" as supplied by himself the reader will note that he says he first wrote Miss Collins in 1885 (the year in which "Light on the Path" was first published), asking her about its "real
source," and that he was moved to do this both because of the inscription that it was "written down" by her, and because "it was supposed to have been dictated to Mrs. Collins by 'Koot Hoomi' or some other adept who held the Theosophical Society in the hollow of his masterly hand." He says her reply confirmed the supposition.
At the time he wrote Miss Collins he was already himself a member of the Society and of the American Board of Control, was well acquainted with H.P.B., and Mr. Judge, and in communication with them then and thereafter, up to and including April, 1889, professing the warmest admiration and friendship for both, and the utmost devotion to the Cause they served. It does not appear that at any time during those four years he ever wrote either H.P.B. or Mr. Judge for confirmation of Miss Mabel Collins' affirmation that "Light on the Path" was inspired or dictated by one of the Theosophical Adepts. Yet, either on the assumption that he wanted to verify the source as claimed by Miss Collins or that he all along believed H.P.B. to be the inventor of a "hoax," as his first communication affirms and his last intimates, it is clear that he made no effort to verify Miss Collins' statement. This is the more peculiar, as it is plainly evident he neither knew Miss Collins personally, kept up his intercourse with her, nor had at the time he received her letter of April 18, 1889, any but the scantiest knowledge about her. For he says that in the intervening four years "nothing passed between Mrs. Collins and myself until yesterday" (May 2, 1889); and in his first letter he four times calls her "Mrs. Collins," whereas her married name was Cook; while in his later communications he repeatedly speaks of her as Mrs. Cooke.
Notable as was his omission in the circumstances, to verify in any way Miss Collins' first statement as to the authorship of "Light on the Path," his course of procedure, when her second letter came, is still more significant. For in that letter she plainly said to him that her own first statement was false, that in fact "Light on the
Path" was not to her knowledge inspired by anyone; that she had never received proof of the existence of any Master; that she knew nothing at the time of the "mysteries of the Theosophical Society."
Quite apart from anything else, these two contradictory statements must have shown Prof. Coues that Miss Mabel Collins' testimony was untrustworthy and valueless without corroboration. Here, from every angle, was something that required and demanded clearing up in mere justice to himself as an honest inquirer interested in getting at the facts. But much more than his own interests were concerned in doing his utmost to ascertain the truth: his fellow Theosophists by thousands were as much concerned as himself, if Mabel Collins' second "explanation" should be true, as much concerned as himself should it be false; finally, remained H.P. Blavatsky, his friend, revered by many, hated by many, accused of an abominable offense by a woman who had already once given him false testimony, and who, he must have known, had recently been dismissed from Lucifer and from all association with H.P.B. Certainly every motive of fairness, of common decency, even, would require him to take steps to ascertain the truth or the falsity of Mabel Collins' "explanation" and accusation before making any charges. Yet what did he do? Immediately on receipt of Miss Collins' letter of April 18, he says, "I cabled Mrs. Collins for permission to use her letter at my discretion." "Mrs." Collins obediently replied, "Use my letter as you please." And the same day Prof. Coues enclosed her letter and one of his own to the Religio-Philosophical Journal - an ardent Spiritualist publication, vehicle of Mr. W. Emmette Coleman's prolonged and malicious attacks on H.P.B. Thus, in view of the facts, what credence can be attached to the character or veracity of Dr. Elliott Coues' testimony where his motives are so absolutely impeached?
But there is more. In his second communication to the Religio-Philosophical Journal Prof. Coues gives, he says, "word for word" the first letter sent him by Mabel Collins. "It is in Mrs. Cooke's handwriting" and in it
she says, in reply to his original inquiry, "The writer of 'The Gates of Gold' is Mabel Collins who had it as well as 'Light on the Path' and 'Idyll of the White Lotus' dictated to her by one of the adepts." In his first communication (dated May 3, 1889) Prof. Coues had already stated that his original inquiry and her reply had occurred "about four years ago" - that is, sometime in 1885 - "since which time nothing passed between Mrs. Collins and myself." Now the actual and indisputable fact is that "The Gates of Gold" was not published until 1887 - two years after the alleged correspondence had taken place! Thus the "evidence" produced by Prof. Coues against the honor of H.P. Blavatsky not only falls of its own weight so far as she is concerned, but convicts Prof. Coues out of his own mouth of shameless duplicity and an equally shameless mendacity.
Turning now to Mabel Collins' share in the attempted stroke, the reader will note upon examining her two letters that she confesses her own falsehood. In her first letter she says her books were dictated by one of the Adepts; in her second letter she says her falsehood was dictated by H.P.B. If her first statement is accepted it was the Adept who dictated her books. But in her second letter she declares (1) "I have myself never received proof of the existence of any Master"; (2) "I knew nothing then of the mysteries of the Theosophical Society."
In her second letter Mabel Collins admits the falsehood in her first but says she told it because Madame Blavatsky "begged and implored me to."
Let us contrast these statements with known and undisputed facts.
H.P.B. was in London from the end of July, 1884, till November 11 of the same year, when she sailed for India, less the interval when she was in Germany with the Gebhards. She was in India till April of 1885, during which time she was in the midst of the storm of the Coulomb case and most of the time lying between life and death. From April, 1885, on, she was in Naples, in Germany, in Belgium, returning to England only in
May, 1887. During the entire period from November, 1884, until after May, 1887, she neither saw nor had any communications with Mabel Collins. Even while H.P.B. was in England during the fall of 1884 she never even saw Mabel Collins more than two or three times and at no time did she see her except in the presence of others. The "Idyll of the White Lotus" was written by Mabel Collins before she ever met H.P.B. That work was shown by her in manuscript to Mr. Ewen and Mr. Finch, both well-known and reputable men, to both of whom she stated that the work had been "inspired" by "some one" whose appearance she described. Mr. Ewen showed the manuscript to Col. Olcott, with whom Mabel Collins talked and made the same claim of "inspiration." She told Col. Olcott that the work had been written by her either in trance or under dictation, and described to him the appearance of the "inspirer." All this was before H.P.B. ever set eyes on Mabel Collins. Furthermore the first edition of the "Idyll," published when H.P.B. was thousands of miles away, and without any intervening communication with Mabel Collins, bore this inscription: "to the True Author, the Inspirer of this work; It Is Dedicated."
Next, with regard to "Light on the Path": The undisputed facts are that Mabel Collins did not begin that work until November, 1884, just prior to the departure of H.P.B. for India. On November 8 of that year Miss Collins showed H.P.B. a page or two of manuscript of what afterwards became "Light on the Path." H.P.B. was in India when that work was completed and published, yet the inscription and Mabel Collins' various statements at the time and on down to the present date, claim that work, not as her own composition, but "written down" by her. Her last claim in that respect was as recently made as the year 1919. (1) H.P.B. never even saw the text of "Light on the Path" until the summer of 1886, when a copy of it was given to her in Germany by Arthur Gebhard.
(1) In an autograph letter, now in the possession of the Editors of the magazine Theosophy (Los Angeles, California).
Further, Mrs. C.A. Passingham, a reputable and well known English woman, wrote to Light while the Coues-Collins charges were pending, to the effect that early in 1885 Mabel Collins spent an afternoon and part of the evening at her house. This, Mrs. Passingham thinks, was in February. She continues:
"She expressed a wish to leave early, as she had an 'appointment' with 'Hilarion' . . . I may add that Mrs. Collins told me herself that the influence under which she wrote the book in question was that of a person whom she had long known, but had only lately identified as being that of an 'adept.'"
On the 12th of June, 1889, Mabel Collins' sister, Ellen Hopkins, wrote a letter to Light which is published in that journal for June 15, 1889. The letter follows:
"... Will you allow me to state that my sister, Mabel Collins, is too ill at the moment to be able to speak for herself, but I trust that she will
be well enough in a few days to furnish you with a reply which will put a very different aspect on the whole affair?"
The "few days" spoken of by Ellen Hopkins went by and rolled into months with no statement from Mabel Collins. Meantime pamphlets had been gotten out by "F.T.S.," by Mr. Judge, and by H.P.B. Statements had been made by Archibald and Bertram Keightley, both of whom had known H.P.B. since the summer of 1884, both of whom had been intimate indeed with Mabel Collins, and both of whom had resided almost continuously in the headquarters house with H.P.B., after her return to England in 1887. The several statements, the documentary and other proofs, the establishment of dates, the production of letters of Prof. Coues to H.P.B., all showed conclusively the utter falsity of the charges made by the Cones-Collins alliance.
Professor Coues had overreached himself. He had been thoroughly exposed. The charter of the Gnostic Branch was revoked and Coues himself expelled from the Society. Months later, while preparing a further attack, he endeavored to retrieve his earlier blunder by writing a letter to Light which is referred to in the leading editorial of that publication for November 2, 1889. From this it appears that he concocted an ex post facto correction by saying that he had been mistaken in fixing the date of his first letter to Miss Mabel Collins as 1885, when it should have been 1887. As proof he told the editor of Light that on June 1st, 1889, Miss Collins had cabled him of his mistake and as further proof he sent a card of Mabel Collins, undated, and without the envelope - a card, whether the original or otherwise does not matter, but claimed to be the original, - which Light accepted as an "explanation" because "The Gates of Gold" was not published until 1887! The animus of this laggard explanation of Prof. Coues' impasse is, we think, entirely clear, and worthy of the same degree of credibility as his other facile statements. It is to be noted that although Mabel Collins was "too ill" to make a concrete statement to Light at the time - and before the publication of the pamphlets which proved by dates alone the impossibility of her statements or Coues' being true - she was not too ill to send a cablegram to her co-conspirator warning him of the discrepancy into which his too great facility and too zealous haste had led him. But to return to Miss Mabel Collins' books.
The third of the trio was "The Gates of Gold" which her unsigned note to Prof. Coues attributed to "one of the adepts" and which her retraction, whether four years later or two does not matter - by implication at least is included in the falsehood which Madame Blavatsky "begged and implored" her to circulate. Let us see as to that.
"The Gates of Gold" was written in 1886. Madame Blavatsky was living at the time in Germany. The book was published in England and in America very early in
1887, while H.P.B. lay on a sick-bed in Belgium. The first edition of the work contained this inscription:
"Once, as I sat alone writing, a mysterious Visitor entered my study unannounced, and stood beside me. I forgot to ask who he was,
or why he entered so unceremoniously, for he began to tell me of the Gates of Gold. He spoke from knowledge, and from the fire of his speech I caught faith. I have written down his words; but alas, I cannot hope that the fire shall burn as brightly in my writing as in his speech."
All these are undisputed facts. As in the case of the "Idyll" and "Light on the Path," this book was written and published when H.P.B. was not in England, when she was not in any communication with Mabel Collins, when she was physically in the gravest condition. Yet all three books bear inscriptions written by Mabel Collins which can be interpreted only as a disclaimer of her own authorship of them and a claim that they were inspired - no matter how or by whom.
Finally, as in the Coulomb case, H.P.B. had everything to risk and nothing to gain by such chicanery as was attributed to her. No one of her enemies ever imagined it plausible for a moment to call her a fool, but a fool as well as a "fraud" she must have been to put herself at the mercy of Madame Coulomb, Mabel Collins, or any one else, for such paltry ends as such rascality, even if successful, would have achieved. For quite without risk or occasion for either the Coulombs' or the Collins' help, she had the recorded testimony of Col. Olcott, of Mr. Judge, of Damodar, of Maj.-Gen. Morgan, of Mr. Sinnett, of Mr. A.O. Hume, of Countess Wachtmeister, of Mr. Hubbe-Schleiden, Dr. Hartmann, Miss Arundale, a hundred others of reputation and character, both as to Adept inspiration, and her own phenomenal powers. What had she to gain, what motive could inspire her, whether in 1885, while a storm was already raging about the Coulomb charges, or in 1887, when her
own position as regards Theosophists needed no bolstering - what had she to gain, one may ask, by fraudulently procuring what, if believed, would add neither to her own repute nor to that of her Masters, but would only enhance the importance and prestige of Mabel Collins?
It thus becomes clear with regard to all three books, first that Miss Collins on her own account both before and since, claimed them to be inspired; secondly, that with regard to any and all of them H.P.B. was physically absent, physically not in communication, physically not in a position to beg and implore Mabel Collins to do or say anything in regard to them. If, then, she "influenced" Miss Collins in any way, it was from a distance and by the use of phenomenal powers indeed. But if she actually possessed such Occult powers - and desired to misuse them - why in the name of the commonest of common sense should she betray herself by using cheap physical frauds, when by employing her Occult powers she could procure the wished for result without risk?
Miss Mabel Collins also wrote: "At the time - whether 1885 or 1887 does not matter - I was both studying Madame Blavatsky and studying under her." As Miss Collins was not in communication with H.P.B. nor in her presence from their first meeting in the fall of 1884 till just prior to the commencement of the publication of Lucifer in September, 1887; it is certain that during that interval this statement is as inaccurate as her others. Mabel Collins was closely associated with H.P.B. in the publication of Lucifer from September, 1887, until January, 1889. The contents of the magazine show that whatever Miss Collins wrote was published over her own signature, the same as with H.P.B. and other contributors - and on her own responsibility. Part of her contribution was "The Blossom and the Fruit," a novel for which she made the same claim of an inspirer as with the three works already discussed. At no time and in no place has anyone produced a line written or signed by H.P.B. supporting Miss Mabel Collins' claims to studying under her. On the contrary, H.P.B. refused to accept Mabel Collins even as a probationer of the
Esoteric Section until the latter "begged and implored" indeed. She was then placed on probation after warning, and within four days, in the words of H.P.B., "broke her vows, becoming guilty of the blackest treachery and disloyalty to her Higher Self. And when I could no longer keep in the E.S. either herself or her friend, the two convulsed the whole Society with their calumnies and falsehoods." Mabel Collins brought suit in England against H.P.B. for libel. When the case came for trial in July, 1890, a certain letter written by Miss Mabel Collies was shown by H.P.B.'s attorney to the counsel for Miss Collins, who thereupon asked the Court to take the case off the docket, which was done.
Viewing the enormous difference between the three books named and the prior and subsequent writings of Mabel Collins, and the many stories told by Miss Collins and others as to the real source of "Light on the Path" and its companion volumes, and how they were obtained, the student may be interested in the only comment made directly by H.P.B. in those respects. In her letter to Light of June 8, 1889, she says, inter alia, "When I met her [Mabel Collins] she had just completed the Idyll of the White Lotus, which as she stated to Colonel Olcott, had been dictated to her by some 'mysterious person.' Guided by her description, we both recognized an old friend of ours, a Greek, and no Mahatma, though an Adept; further developments proving we were right. This fact, acknowledged by Mrs. Cooke in her dedication of the Idyll, sets aside the idea that the work was either inspired or dictated by Koot Hoomi or any other Mahatma." In the pamphlet issued by H.P.B. at the same time, this statement is repeated, together with the following most interesting paragraph:
"Was the dedication invented, and a Master and 'inspirer' suggested by Mme. [Blavatsky] before the latter had ever seen his amanuensis [Mabel Collins]? For that only she proclaims herself in her dedication, by speaking of the 'true author,' who thus must be regarded as
some kind of Master, at all events. Moreover, heaps of letters may be produced all written between 1872 and 1884, and signed .'. ; (2) the well-known seal of one who became an adept only in 1886. Did Mme. Blavatsky send to 'Miss Mabel Collins' this signature, when neither knew of the other's existence?"
The same pamphlet of H.P.B.'s contains also a letter, signed "A Student of Light on the Path," reprinted from Light of June 8, 1889, in which the following suggestive ideas are put forth:
"Referring to Miss Collins' explanation, it is at once evident that another intelligence besides her own must also have visited the place, 'spiritually' or otherwise, where she saw 'Light on the Path' written upon its walls, for someone must have placed the words there; moreover, that intelligence had command over good modern English as well as being the possessor of high practical wisdom.
"We judge, therefore, that Miss Collins was simply the favoured vehicle for the communication of those particular rules of the 'Hall of Learning' to the many mortals now needing and hungering for them, and while it is impossible that they could have been written up where she was permitted to observe them, otherwise than by an intelligent Being who had also visited that place, it does not at all follow that he should, or ought to, have made himself or his nature known to her. That would have been creating a basis for personal intimacy which was not necessary and perhaps not advisable.
"As regards the manner in which one mind may instruct or inform another, on what may be termed the occult plane, we know at present very
(2) This symbol was used as a signature in the original edition of "Light on the Path," following the numbered "rules."
little, but the phenomena of psychometry and thought-transference may some day, if scientifically studied, be the means of our understanding those things better."
To whatever conclusions the student may come on the mooted real authorship of "Light on the Path" and its related volumes, what has been adduced will, we believe, serve to make two points, general and particular, very clear. The general point is that expressed in the words of H.P.B. in the "Introductory" to the "Secret Doctrine":
"It is above everything important to keep in mind that no theosophical book acquires the least additional value from pretended authority."
Had Theosophical students kept this admonition in mind, whether as regards H.P.B. herself, Miss Mabel Collins, or all the host of those before and since, who have claimed, truly or falsely, to "speak with authority," whether "in the name of the Lord" or "in the name of the Master" - had they been content to study the "message" on the basis of its own inherent merit instead of under the glamour of belief in some authority, real or imaginary, they would quickly have become able to "test the spirits" to some purpose.
The particular point is that it is evident alike from Miss Mabel Collins' own statements as to her inspirer and from the quality of the other writings emanating from her pen, that she had not then and has not now, the remotest knowledge of her own, either as to the actual source of her three gem products, as to the means by which their substance and form reached her, or as to their substance. She was, in no invidious sense, purely and simply the medium of their transmission.
"The New York Sun" Libel CaseWhen the American Sectional Convention met at Chicago at the end of April, 1890, Mr. Judge's Report as General Secretary contained the following reference to Prof. Coues:
"During the past year there has been no appeal to the Executive Committee from any Branch or individual, and but one case of discipline. On June 11th  formal charges of untheosophic conduct were preferred by Mr. Arthur B. Griggs of Boston against Dr. Elliott Coues, of Washington. These charges were in part based on public imputations by Dr. Coues of fraud and falsehood to Madame Blavatsky, and in part upon unpublished letters in which the Theosophical Society, its teachings, aims, and officers, were treated as shams and deceits. I officially sent a copy of these charges to Dr. Coues in a registered letter, notifying him of the date when the Executive Committee would be prepared to hear his defense. During the intervening time no reply was received, and the Committee, having considered the charges, adjudged them sustained, by a unanimous vote, and on June 22d expelled Dr. Coues from the Theosophical Society. Later events have conclusively shown that it is better for its enemies to be placed without its pale than permitted to remain within it. From this decision there has been no appeal to Col. Olcott, and therefore it is final."
The Theosophical community having thus disembarrassed itself of the traitor within the household, and placed on record its action, Dr. Coues prepared his final thunderbolt. In the New York Sun for Sunday, June 1, 1890, the leading editorial article was entitled, "The Humbug of Theosophy." It says:
"The exposure of the imposture of Mme. Blavatsky does not seem to lessen at all the prosperity of her humbug religion....
"The number of new members admitted during the year was 373, and there was one expulsion, Dr. Elliott Coues of Washington. He is a man of scientific reputation, who showed up the lying and trickery of the Blavatsky woman after having been one of her dupes for several years. With her closer intimates she seems to make little attempt to conceal her real character as a charlatan, and her hearty contempt for their folly in taking her seriously. Her long success in keeping up the humbug is, therefore, all the more astonishing. Whether her principal disciple, Col. Olcott, is also playing a fraudulent part, it is hard to say. He seems to be very much in earnest, and as she seems to despise him thoroughly and undisguisedly, laughing at his antics, it is perhaps presumable that he is honest and sincere in his credulity. He treats the snuffy old woman as a veritable seeress, and reads her mystical writings with apparent and probably real veneration, though she has described him to her old confederate, Mme. Coulomb, as a muff of the first water. Dr. Coues is of very different stuff, and he did not hesitate to banter her on the success of her trickery. He seems to have seen through her at an early day, and the wonder is that a man of his standing remained in her crowd so long....
"Mme. Blavatsky has the assurance to write to her American dupes that her charlatanism is
prospering more than ever, financially and otherwise. She addresses them from a sick chamber, to which she is confined by a mortal disease, and yet she persists in her determination to keep the imposture going until the end. She is an old woman of wonderful will power and of unquestionable intellectual ability. What the motive of her course is, we cannot imagine, unless it be mere love of fun and mischief. It evidently pleases her to make fools of people, and she is likely to go down to history as one of the chief impostors of our day. Whether theosophy will die with her is very doubtful. It has a fascination for a certain class of minds fond of mysticism; and its Buddhistic element is getting to be fashionable at this period....
"The men in the business strike us as being made up of arrant humbugs and superficial fellows whom anything like abstract thought drives substantially crazy. But they have succeeded in inducing thousands to take them seriously as profound philosophers."
This ignoble consideration of Madame Blavatsky, her teachings, and her students, was followed, on Sunday, July 20, 1890, by a full-page special article from its Washington correspondent in the form of an interview with Prof. Coues. The editorial page of the Sun of the same date contained as its leading article a still more undignified and disreputable treatment of the subject under the caption, "The History of a Humbug." It is, in full, as follows:
We publish today a wonderfully interesting history of the invention of the humbug of Theosophy. It is related by Prof. Elliot Coues of the Smithsonian Institution at Washington, an ornithologist of distinction, who at one time was deceived by Mme. Blavatsky's pretensions, but
since has discovered her to be the impostor she is.
"This woman is by birth a Russian subject, and is now about 60 years of age, though she looks and pretends to be much older. She is fat, gross, of abominable habits, an intolerable temper, swearing like a pirate and smoking like a chimney, of restless energy and endless craft. Very little is known of her early days, when she was Mlle. Hahn, except that she was married to the Russian whose name she still bears, though she soon left him and entered upon her career of adventure without preserving any prejudices so far as matrimony is concerned.
"In other words, her morals may be theosophic, but they are bad. Since she lost her youth she has been living by her wits, sharpened by much experience of travel and the friction of many years of vagabondage. Her profession, so far as she has had any stated employment, has been as a Russian spy. As such, Prof. Coues tells us, she came to New York in 1873, and in that capacity she subsequently went to India with Col. Olcott as her faithful attendant. The device of theosophy was simply contrived by her as a cover for her real designs.
"This confirms the theory of her imposture which was advanced after she had been exposed by an investigating committee of the London Society for Psychical Research. That exposure was complete. It was proved beyond a doubt that, with Mme. Coulomb, a French woman, as a confederate, and with the assistance of the mechanical ingenuity of M. Coulomb, she kept up a pretended correspondence with a supernatural Koot Hoomi, deceiving her dupes by the baldest jugglery. The old witch, according to Prof. Coues, was doing it all for no other purpose than to kick up a dust to hide her political intrigues. But she was not so sharp as she thought; the
Russian Government stopped her pay, and she was driven to using her theosophical imposture itself as a means of making a living. As to Olcott, who began his career in the secret service of our own War Department, Prof. Coues seems to think that he is not the wholly guileless and gullible fool he appears, at least not now. Poor fellow, he is in Blavatsky's clutches and he can not escape, though he has found her out as a harridan and a humbug. Accordingly he is perforce a humbug himself.
"It is a wonderful story how this crafty Tartar entrapped this shrewd Yankee, so that for fifteen years they have together played their game of humbugging people into believing that they are the prophets of a new religion founded on Asiatic wisdom, of which they are both together totally ignorant. Their trickery has been exposed with scientific completeness and exactitude, and yet their impudence is in no wise lessened. They keep straight faces and go on with their humbug, cheered and encouraged, of course, by the folly of men and women who take them seriously.
"Prof. Coues' narrative in form and substance makes capital reading."
The Coues interview fills seven closely printed columns of small type. The charges made and the alleged evidence procured by Prof. Coues ostensibly exposed the facts of H.P.B.'s career from 1857 onwards. It is worth while for the student to observe these putative facts in the Sun articles, for they include the multitude of attacks before and since upon H.P.B. and Theosophy. The sequel shows their untruthfulness and the basic ignorance or dishonesty of those who make and repeat those charges.
On the statements of Mr. Daniel Dunglas Home, the Medium, and Mr. W. Emmette Coleman, Dr. Coues charged H.P.B. with having been a member of the demi-
monde of Paris in 1857-8 and mistress of the Prince Emile de Wittgenstein, "by whom she had a deformed son, who died at Kieff in 1868."
On the strength of the report of Mr. Richard Hodgson of S.P.R. fame, she is charged with "having shared the fortunes" of one Metrovitch in Cairo in 1871. This is said to be provable by Madame Coulomb and to be "the key to the power Coulomb had over Blavatsky." This charge is further supported by a letter from Madame Coulomb to Col. Bundy of the Religio-Philosophical Journal, and is the charge hinted at by Madame Coulomb, at the close of the preface to her pamphlet against H.P.B. in 1884, but which she feared to make publicly in India.
The next charge definitely makes H.P.B. out a Russian spy from 1873 on. Then she is charged to have been "exploiting as a spiritualist medium" during her five years at New York, and before that at Cairo. Hudson Tuttle, a Spiritualist, is quoted as sponsor for an attack on Mr. Judge. In gambler's terms Prof. Coues characterizes Theosophy, H.P.B., Col. Olcott, and Mr. Judge as "three-card monte with king, queen, and knave. Blavatsky dealt, Olcott steered, Judge played capper."
Madame Blavatsky's authorship of "Isis Unveiled" is declared to be a fiction and on the authority of "a friend of mine" the real author is claimed to be the Baron de Palm, who was a member of the Society in its earliest days and the cremation of whose body was the first in the United States. The de Palm story is told at length in Col. Olcott's "Old Diary Leaves." Prof. Coues goes on to declare, "similar, yet different frauds are the root, stock and branch of other theosophical books."
The Report of the Society for Psychical Research is then taken up, and Dr. Coues affirms:
"The London Society for Psychical Research determined to send one of their number to Madras. Dr. Hodgson went to India in November, 1884, and stayed until April, 1885. The re-
sult of his investigation was the total collapse of the theosophic fake, and there has not yet been found leather enough in the lungs of all the fakirs combined to reinflate the bubble. Dr. Hodgson's report is elaborate, circumstantial and conclusive. Its force has never been and never will be broken. It is a volume of several hundred pages, with diagrams of the trap-doors on the Blavatsky stage, and facsimiles of Blavatsky's handwriting proved to be identical with that of the mythical Koot Hoomi. It shows that the Coulombs, whatever their own characters, and whatever their animus or purpose, had told the plain, simple truth as far as their disclosures went. Their evidence had already damned the woman; Hodgson's report sealed, certified and executed that sentence."
H.P.B., Col. Olcott, and Mr. Judge are repeatedly charged with being in the Society for money and that it is ran for revenue only. Mr. Michael Angelo Lane's exploits are then referred to and he is made sponsor for stories of bogus Mahatmic messages "in very good imitation of the things Mr. Judge has been in the habit of distributing to favorite dupes - these themselves being in imitation of the rice paper missives of Blavatsky's original hoax."
"'How about these "Mahatmic letters" we heard so much about a while ago, such a one, for example, as the Chicago Tribune published in facsimile?' asked the reporter.
"'Oh, you mean those Aids to Faith in Blavatsky which went the rounds? Here are a couple. They are at your service if you wish to print them.... The subject of the communication is simply bosh, as you perceive; the handwriting is almost unquestionably that of Mr. Judge, who is an expert penman.'"
Professor Coues then renews the "Riddle incident" charges as to the source of the Mahatma letters in "The Occult World," and concludes:
"'Such is the unspeakably puerile nonsense upon which the Mahatmic myth is erected. Papers prepared for no more cause or consequence than these flimsy forgeries I have obtained from Mr. Judge, and by Blavatsky or some other blatherskite, have made much theosophic history... I could say more but I trust you appreciate the blessing of having two such authentic and impressive missives from beyond the Himalayas in your vest pocket - from as far beyond those heights as Mr. Judge's office in New York - precisely."
Following the Sun articles, Mr. Judge in The Path for August, 1890, advised all whom it might concern that he had brought suit for libel. Manifestly he had done this only for the protection of the Society and the good name of H.P.B., and to head off similar attacks in other publications, for he himself had been mentioned only incidentally and as rather dupe and tool than arch deceiver, and the same as to Col. Olcott. In his notice Mr. Judge made the significant statement:
"The animus of the writer is so plainly disclosed that it might well serve as an ample answer to the attack. Inasmuch, however, as certain moral charges cannot be permitted utterance with impunity, I have brought suit for libel... and am awaiting instructions from Madame Blavatsky as to her own course."
In The Path for September, 1890, is printed a letter from Madame Blavatsky whose tone and spirit is in shining contrast with the course and animus of her calumniators. The letter reads
"While I fully agree to the proposition that we should forgive our enemies, yet I do not thereby lose my 'appeal unto Caesar,' and in that appeal, which is now made to the Law and not to the Emperor, I may keep the command to forgive, while for the protection of the name of a dead friend and the security in the future of Theosophists, I hale into the Courts of the land those who, having no sense of what is right or just, see fit to publish broadcast wicked and unfounded slanders.
"For some fifteen years I have calmly stood by and seen my good name assailed by newspaper gossips who delight to dwell upon the personal peculiarities of those who are well known, and have worked on for the spread of our Theosophical ideas, feeling confident that, though I might be assailed by small minds who try their best to bring me into reproach, the Society which I helped to found would withstand the attacks, and, indeed, grow under them. This latter has been the case. It may be asked by some members why I have never replied to those attacks which were directed against Occultism and phenomena. For two reasons: Occultism will remain forever, no matter how assailed, and Occult phenomena can never be proved in a Court of Law during this century. Besides, I have never given public currency to any of the latter, but have always objected to the giving out of things the profane cannot understand.
"But now a great metropolitan daily in New York, with no knowledge of the facts in the case, throws broadcast before the public many charges against me, the most of which meet their refutation in my life over a decade. But as one of them reflects strongly upon my moral character and brings into disrepute the honorable name of a dead man, an old family friend, it is impossible for me to remain silent, and so I have di-
rected my lawyers in New York to bring an action against the New York Sun for libel.
"This paper accuses me of being a member of the demi-monde in '58 and '68 and of having improper relations with Prince Emile Wittgenstein, by whom the paper says I had an illegitimate son.
"The first part of the charge is so ridiculous as to arouse laughter, but the second and third hold others up to reprobation. Prince Wittgenstein, now dead, was an old friend of my family, whom I saw for the last time when I was eighteen years old, i.e., in 1849, and he and his wife remained until his death in close correspondence with me. He was a cousin of the late Empress of Russia, and little thought that upon his grave would be thrown the filth of a modern New York newspaper. This insult to him and to me I am bound by all dictates of my duty to repel, and am also obliged to protect the honor of all Theosophists who guide their lives by the teachings of Theosophy; hence my appeal to the Law and to a jury of my fellow Americans. I gave up my allegiance to the Czar of Russia in the hope that America would protect her citizens; may that hope not prove vain. - H.P.B."
At the time, the Sun was perhaps the most widely circulated and influential of American newspapers. It had at its command every resource of ability, influence, and money, and it is not to be supposed that it was unfamiliar with the technicalities of the New York State laws relating to libel or the difficulties in the way of any one who might try to obtain a verdict against it in such a suit. It had but to establish in court its own good faith and prove or show reasonable cause for belief in and circulation of a single one of its major charges, and the whole history of American jurisprudence in similar cases showed that it would be acquitted. But one thing favored the suit of the fact that this time, quite the
contrary of the Coulomb charges, the S.P.R. report, and the numerous prior attacks upon her and her mission - this time the charges were direct, made as statements of fact, not of opinion, hearsay, conclusion, inference, or innuendo. If H.P.B. was actually guilty of a single one of the offenses charged against her, she was ruined, ineradicably branded with the stigma of a convicted rogue - her enemies triumphant, her Society exploded, her followers buried in ignominy, her mission and her "Theosophy" a thing of contempt and of derision.
The issue was squarely joined, with no possibility of evasion by either party to the suit. This time it was not a friendless and slandered woman forced into the position where she must suffer in silence or essay the hopeless task of proving herself innocent of the fabrications of irresponsible evil- and malicious-minded assassins of her good name. It was a great and powerful newspaper faced with the simple task of proving her guilty of a single one of its numerous charges by the simple process of bringing into Court in its behalf the Coues, the Bundys, the Hodgsons, the Coulombs, the Colemans, the Sidgwicks, the Myers, the Masseys, the Lillies, the Collinses, and all the other still living "witnesses" who had fathered or circulated the "evidence" which for so many years had been industriously spread before the public to "prove" H.P.B. a fraud, her phenomena bogus, her teachings a theft or a plagiarism. Certainly, on the assumption that at some time in her life H.P.B. had been indiscreet in her relations with men, at some time participant in questionable transactions, at some time engaged in anything disreputable, at some time party to fraudulent phenomena, at some time profiting by her "hoax," the task before the Sun was an easy one.
The case was pressed with the utmost vigor by H.P.B.'s attorneys, but the usual "law's delays" were invoked and taken advantage of in the defense. In The Path for March, 1891, a statement of the then status of the suit was published under the caption, "The Libel
Suits Against New York Sun and Elliott Coues." The article reads:
"Several letters inquiring about these suits having been received, and various rumors about them having arisen, facts are given.
"It is not possible to bring any suit to trial in New York very quickly, as all the calendars are crowded and suitors have to await their turn.
"It is not possible in New York to have newspapers notice the progress of suits for libel against other newspapers, as an agreement exists between the various editors that no such publication will be made. Hence the silence about the above-mentioned actions.
"The actions were begun in earnest and are awaiting trial. They will be continued until a verdict is reached or a retraction given.
"One victory has been gained in this way. The New York Sun put in a long answer to Mme. Blavatsky's complaint and her lawyers demurred to its sufficiency as a defence. That question of law was argued before Judge Beach in the Supreme Court, and on the argument the lawyers for the Sun confessed in open court their inability to prove the charge of immorality on which the suit lies, and asked to be allowed to retain the mass of irrelevant matter in the answer. These matters could only have been meant to prejudice a jury. But Judge Beach sustained Mme. Blavatsky's objection and ordered that the objectionable matter be stricken out. The case now looks merely like one in which the only question will be the amount of damages, and everything must now stand until the case is reached in the Trial Term. This decision on the demurrer was a substantial victory. The suit against Dr. Elliott Coues is in exactly the same condition."
Madame Blavatsky died in May of the same year1891 - and, under the Laws of New York, her death automatically terminated the suit brought by her against the Sun. Mr. Judge, however, continued to press his own suit, although the allegations originally made against himself were rather ridicule than slander. Finally, on September 26, 1892, the Sun, which by this time had become convinced of the great wrong perpetrated through it, voluntarily published, in partial amends, an editorial article repudiating the Coues interview, and a long article by Mr. Judge devoted to a tribute to the life-work and character of H.P. Blavatsky. The editorial retraction reads:
"We print on another page an article in which William Q. Judge deals with the romantic and extraordinary career of the late Madame Helena P. Blavatsky. We take occasion to observe that on July 20, 1890, we were misled into admitting into the Sun's columns an article by Dr. E.F. Coues of Washington, in which allegations were made against Madame Blavatsky's character, and also against her followers, which appear to have been without solid foundation. Mr. Judge's article disposes of all questions relating to Madame Blavatsky as presented by Dr. Coues, and we desire to say that his allegations respecting the Theosophical Society and Mr. Judge personally are not sustained by evidence, and should not have been printed."
It is probable that few Theosophical students of the present day have ever seen the article written by Mr. Judge on H.P.B. at the invitation of the Sun, and included as part of its editorial retraction by the words "Mr. Judge's article disposes of all questions relating to Madame Blavatsky as presented by Dr. Coues." The article itself, and the accompanying editorial endorsement and retraction, should be contrasted with the two
editorials from the Sun first quoted in the present chapter and with the Coues charges, in order fully to realize the complete reversal of its position by the Sun. This can be accounted for only on two grounds: (1) that the Sun after vigorous and prolonged efforts to find evidence to support even one of the charges found that they were mere calumnies, and (2) that its publishers were men honorable enough voluntarily to make amends for the wrong done by publishing a retraction, even after the death of H.P.B. had freed them from all risk of damages.
Theosophists, out of loyalty and gratitude to H.P.B. who brought them - at what cost to herself we have partly seen - the message of Theosophy, would do well to inform themselves fully on the Coues-Collins and Sun case, for they cover every accusation ever hurled at H.P.B.'s good name and fame; they constitute the only case where the charges were made directly, and by a responsible channel. The outcome of the case constitutes an absolute vindication of H.P.B. and an equally emphatic exposure of the bad faith or the ignorance of those who have since repeated those slanders. Yet years later one and another of the Coues-Collins-Sun charges have been repeated and have gained very wide publicity because of the supposed high character of the parties making them, for example, by "Margot Tennant" (wife of Herbert Asquith, ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain, in her "Intimate Diary "), and by the late Count Witte, for many years one of the leading Ministers of the Russian Empire under the regime of the late Czar. Count Witte was a cousin of H.P.B., but as he was many years her junior, he knew her only as a boy and saw her but a few times. In his published "Memoirs" the old charges of immorality first directly made by Coues and the Sun are circumstantially repeated. He does not profess to speak from knowledge, but for the same inscrutable reasons that have prompted so many others, does not hesitate to repeat these abominable calumnies at second-hand. The outcome of the Sun case gives the lie to the Witte slanders upon the dead. Students may be
interested to know that Count Witte's own mother, a devoted member of the orthodox Greek Catholic Church, remained to her dying day the warm friend and champion of H.P.B. Vile as must be considered the characters of those who originate or circulate unverified base charges against the living, they are respectable in comparison with those who continue to revile the defenseless dead.
After the battle in the Sun and its sequence, Dr. Coues fled ingloriously from the field; his Gnostic society melted away like a shadow, his prestige waned, and he died in obscurity in 1899. His Esoteric Theosophical Society exists only as a forgotten echo of his own bombast and pretense. After the Sun retraction he never again ventured to thrust himself on public attention as an "Occultist."
--- 226Chapter XV
Olcott Versus H.P.B.Attention must now be turned from the external aspects of the struggle of contending forces accompanying the progress of the Theosophical Movement, as exemplified in the Coues-Collins' storm, and the arena regarded from another point of view altogether - the issues as personified in H.P.B., Mr. Judge, and Col. Olcott, who, as said, represented in their own persons the three Sections of that Movement, exoteric and esoteric. (1)
In the first decade of the Movement, as manifested in the exoteric Theosophical Society, the work of the three Founders was concordant and coherent. The Society grew rapidly in numbers and influence and became firmly established in America, Europe, and India. Minor opposition attended its course from external antagonistic factors and numerous internal disturbances arose, but none of these was of serious moment, because no dissensions existed among the Founders. Enemies without and trouble makers within could find nothing "whereon to stand" as a fulcrum. The first breach in the solidarity of the Founders was effected in the year 1881. It did not become a matter of public knowledge until 1895, and consideration of it must be deferred until the events of that period, but the fact should be noted in seeking to understand the origins of the successive phases of the Movement. (2)
Public reference was made to the existence of the inner Sections of the Movement at the close of the first seven years. From then on more and more frequent allusions to the Second Section, its superior importance,
(1) See Chapter IX.
(2) See Chapters XXIV and XXXIV.
its rules and discipline, its guardianship of the exoteric work, its provisions for the more earnest and worthy members of the Third Section or Theosophical Society proper, may be found in public print. Finally, in 1888, a definite, formal, public announcement was made of the formation of the Esoteric Section of the T.S., as a probationary degree of the Second Section of the Theosophical Movement. And, under the protection of the "pledge" and the seal of confidence, information was given to all applicants of the real purpose of the Movement, the real status of the Society, the real Objects of the invisible Founders - the Masters of Wisdom.
The first ten years was marked, exoterically, by the Coulomb charges and the Report of the Society for Psychical Research. Esoterically, both these were made possible and enabled to achieve an immense damage to the Movement, through the hidden rupture between the three Sections of the Movement, the First and Second Sections on the one hand, the Third Section on the other; between the esoteric side of the Movement as personified in H.P.B., Mr. Judge and Damodar, and the exoteric, as personified by Col. Olcott, Mr. Sinnett, and the Indian Council. At the time, the only public signs of this breach were the failure to defend H.P.B. as strenuously as she was attacked; her resignation and departure from India and from active connection with the Society; the public and private disclaimers of Col. Olcott and others of any reliance of their own or of the Society on the assumed Occult status or powers of H.P.B.; their assertion of the ability of the Society to stand on its own merits apart from H.P. Blavatsky as the direct Agent of the Masters; apart from her paramount status as the connecting link between those Masters and the Society; apart from her teachings of Theosophy as the authoritative exposition of the Wisdom-Religion.
Although they had abundant warnings, both from the teachings of Theosophy and from messages received by them directly from the Masters, that their views of H.P.B. were erroneous in fact and illogical in principle, and although not one of them himself had, or professed
to have, any Occult powers of his own, nevertheless their fundamentally false view of the nature of H.P.B. compelled them, little by little, to take a divergent path. In the beginning, doubts; next, private dissent and dissimulation; then a middle ground, public temporizing, and secret plotting; finally, open repudiation of her Occult status and standing in the Society, in the Movement, in Theosophy.
The stage of dissent and dissimulation was reached and practiced in 1884 and the following years. Compelled by their involvement with her in the affairs of the Society and their joint sponsorship for the numerous miraculous events attributed to the course of its history, a lukewarm support was publicly given to H.P.B., while in private a determined effort was made to suppress and "control" her in the common interest. During these years W. Stainton Moses ("M.A. Oxon"), C.C. Massey, A.O. Hume, V.V. Solovyoff, W.T. Brown, Mrs. Josephine Cables, Mohini M. Chatterji, Mr. Cooper-Oakley, and numerous others, both members of the Society and probationers of the Second Section, succumbed to inner and outer influences and left the Society, but Col. Olcott, Mr. Sinnett, and many others continued with the Society and its work, because, however much they doubted H.P.B., they were none the less convinced of the existence of the Masters and the value of the Society in the work of the Movement, provided only that they could themselves direct and control its destinies. Followed Col. Olcott's private but violent opposition to the formation of the Esoteric Section, and to the lines of direction that H.P.B. and Mr. Judge were attempting to lay and energize within the Society by the establishment of the Esoteric Section and by their magazines, The Path and Lucifer. (3)
The cleavage at this time went almost to the verge of the establishment by H.P.B. and Mr. Judge of a new Society composed of those Western Theosophists who would remain true to the original impetus and its lines, and would have so resulted had not Col. Olcott and those
(3) See Chapters IX and X.
associated with his views modified their conduct. Concerned not at all with or over Col. Olcott's or any one's opinions in regard to themselves, but intent only on the Cause itself, H.P.B. and W.Q.J. used every effort to encourage, to sustain, to uphold him and others in their devotion and their place in the Society, so long as work was done and a possibility remained to keep the three lines of the Movement intact, coherent, and in proper relation. Nothing was omitted that might assuage the several vanities, jealousies, ambitions, and fears of Col. Olcott and his co-workers; everything possible was done to convince them that place, power, authority and dominion were not sought by H.P.B.
Then came the Coues-Collins-Sun attack. There can be no doubt, we think, that Dr. Coues counted that if he led the assault he would be supported openly by Col. Olcott and others prominent within the Society, and for this he had what to him were sound reasons, as has been indicated. (4) Backed by his own prestige with the general public and that of Olcott and others with the Society's membership, knowing the general discredit heaped upon H.P.B. by the S.P.R. Report, knowing well the private opinions of Col. Olcott, Mr. Sinnett, and others in regard to her - what more natural than that he should consider his forces more than ample to so utterly crush the reputation of H.P.B. that she would be permanently eliminated as a factor in the Society, which could then be re-organized and re-built on lines agreeable to himself and his own ambitions, with himself as its bright particular star in the West? Able and astute, his plans succeeded perfectly with Miss Mabel Collins, but his masterstroke failed with Col. Olcott. This he could not know in advance, but his knowledge of conditions and the progress of his correspondence with the President-Founder gave him every reason to believe that the disaffection so artfully fanned would burst to flame in open treason when the battle should be joined. He reckoned without his host in the final issue, but how nearly he succeeded is indicated by the letter to him from Col. Olcott
(4) See Chapters XII and XIV.
which we have given, and by the course pursued by the President-Founder during all that stormy period - a course which we have now to trace.
That course was one which could but aid the battle being waged to destroy the moral reputation and Occult status of H.P.B. and her chief defender, Mr. Judge, so far as that could be achieved without imperiling the Society and his own importance in it to the point of irretrievable disaster. Colonel Olcott was willing to go thus far in order to upset the paramount unofficial influence of H.P.B. and her colleague; reduce them to what he considered their proper place and subordination in the ranks; and at the same time enhance and render secure his own position and power as the recognized Official Head of the Society. In all this Col. Olcott was honest and sincere. It was but the logical development of his own basic misconception and misunderstanding of Masters, Their Movement, and Their Society all alike menaced by the "irresponsible" and "unconstitutional" procedure of H.P.B. However mistaken or misguided his views, he was absolutely honest and devoted to what he conceived to be the best interests of the Society. It was precisely this honesty and devotion to the Society, however inconsistent and illogical his mind might be, that H.P.B. recognized, and that Dr. Cones failed utterly to reckon with.
Negatively, Col. Olcott's state of mind is attested by his total failure to align himself with his colleagues while they were being sorely beset by traitors within and by enemies without. As in 1884-5 and again in 1886-7, his sole thought was for the Society and himself - for the Society as personified in himself. Its troubles and his troubles were, in his opinion, not due to any falling away from its Objects, any mistakes or misunderstandings of his own, but to the wrong and perverse actions of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge. They had gotten the Society, themselves and himself into serious difficulties in spite of his best efforts to prevent. Very well; it was for them to extricate and clear themselves if they could, and in so doing learn a needed lesson. That was their affair, not his.
His duty was to protect the Society and himself as its responsible Head and Guardian, at all hazards and from all hazards; and the chief of these hazards was the "friction of strong personalities," due to the "unauthorized" and "irregular" actions of H.P.B. and W.Q.J., as opposed to his own "official" procedure.
Affirmatively, Col. Olcott's predominating attitude is evidenced (1) by the record made by himself and his intimates at the time; (2) by his own disclosures made many years afterward; (3) by the record made by H.P.B. and Mr. Judge. From all these the student can piece together the pattern which shows the workings of consciousness of the three Founders during the storm of 1889-90.
"Old Diary Leaves," Fourth Series, to which we shall have to refer, was published in book form after the death of Col. Olcott. There are many omissions of the text as originally printed in The Theosophist, Volumes 21 and 22, ten years after the events discussed therein. Quotations here given, therefore, should be verified by reference to the original text in The Theosophist, Volume 21, p. 199, Col. Olcott describes the situation just prior to his visit to Europe in 1888. He puts it thus:
"Portents of a coming storm in our European groups, stirred up or intensified by H.P.B., begin to show themselves, and Judge complains of our neglecting him. Just then Dr. Coues was working hard for the notoriety he craved and Judge was opposing him."
Then "Old Diary Leaves" gives extracts from private letters written by Mr. Judge to Col. Olcott, as follows:
"May 21, 1888: I am always striving to keep your name at the top, for until your death you must be at the head.
"June 8, 1888: Certain matters are occurring here which need attention and action.... His
(Coues') policy is to place himself at the head of some wonderful unknown thing through which (save the mark!) communications are alleged to come from Masters. He also in a large sense wishes to pull the T.S. away from your jurisdiction and make himself the Grand Mogul of it in this country.... I know that.... policy is to retain complete control in you, and my desire is to keep the American Section as a dependency of the General Council in India; hence you are the President. It was never my intention to dissever, but to bind, and the form of our Constitution clearly shows that. That's why no President is elected or permitted here. ... So I would recommend that you call the Council and consider our Constitution, which ought long ago to have been done - and decide that we are in affiliation and subordination to India and that we are recognized as part of the General Council, with power to have a Secretary as an (official) channel, but not to have a yearly President but only a Chairman at each Convention.... I cannot work this thing here properly without your co-operation.
"June 15, 1888: Until you two die it is folly for others to whistle against the wind. Masters and Federation!"
Colonel Olcott Is comments on Mr. Judge's letters show that in January, 1900, when he was writing, he as totally misconceived them, as at the time of their reception in 1888; that he saw in them nothing but "the building up of a new structure of falsehood, fraud and treachery in which to house new idols."
Then followed Col. Olcott's visit to England and his "pitched battle with H.P.B." over the various matters at issue - the trouble in the Paris Branch, the Charter of the Blavatsky Lodge, the formation of the British Section of the T.S., on the model of the previously
formed American Section, and the formation of the Esoteric Section. (5) In all these matters at stake, as well as Cooper-Oakley's severance from the editorial staff of The Theosophist, Col. Olcott yielded, partly under the influence of his renewed association with H.P.B., partly because he saw that he had come to the parting of the ways. Mr. Judge came over to England and the three Founders became once more, for the time being, apparently of one aim, purpose, and feeling. To strengthen and maintain this bond after their separation and return, each to his own field of labor, H.P.B. and Mr. Judge arranged that delegates from the American and British Section should go with Col. Olcott to Adyar and represent those Sections at the forthcoming "parliament" or Convention of the Society in India, at the end of December, 1888.
Richard Harte, a former New York newspaper man, an old-time personal friend of Col. Olcott, who had been a member of the Society since 1878, was then in London and had acquired considerable reputation among Theosophists as the alleged writer of the famous editorial in Lucifer for December, 1887, entitled "Lucifer to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Greeting!" Him, Col. Olcott selected for his editorial associate on The Theosophist. Thereupon Mr. Judge arranged with the Executive Committee of the American Council to have Mr. Harte act as delegate for the American Section and to give Mr. Harte instructions to represent to the Indian Convention that the American Section favored the restoration to Col. Olcott of the powers and authority vested in the Indian Council early in 1885, (6) as noted in a former chapter. Mr. Charles Johnston, long a resident of India, was similarly chosen as delegate of the British Section.
Colonel Olcott returned to India later in the fall of 1888. Volume 21, pp. 322-3, gives his reminiscences of the month preceding the Convention. He says:
(5) See Chapter XX.
(6) See Chapters VII and XI.
"The Executive Council met as usual, on the following Sunday [after his return], and passed resolutions thoroughly approving of my doings in Europe....
"At a Council meeting [in December], a resolution was unanimously passed to convert itself into an Advisory body and restore to me the full executive powers which, in 1885, I had consented to have curtailed, to satisfy some who thought it would be better to have several bosses instead of one. The thing did not work well enough to continue it, and all my colleagues were but too glad to re-shift the responsibility to my shoulders rather than keep it themselves. It was all the same to me, for even during the intervals I virtually had to do all the work, and the Council meetings grew more and more perfunctory - as Council meetings usually do, when there is some leader who may be counted on to pull the stroke-oar and get the boat on the straight course when cross winds blow."
The same pages contain Col. Olcott's comments on two other matters which were to come before the Convention. Of the first of these he says:
"Tranquil days of work and pleasant conversation followed, but before long I began to see signs of discontent spreading to some extent among certain few Branches, the result of underhand schemings by one or two malcontents, who were unfriendly to H.P.B. This passed off in time, although a desperate attempt was made at that year's Convention to make trouble for me. The Bombay Branch sent me, on November 30th, a resolution recommending that T. Subba Row, who had resigned, be asked to come back to us, but I have positively refused to lower the Society's dignity in any similar case, however influential might be the seceder."
The other matter mentioned, which also includes the preceding, is described as follows:
"The Convention Delegates began arriving on the 24th of December. On Christmas Day I got a foolish cablegram from H.P.B., threatening the resignation of herself and the entire Blavatsky Lodge should Cooper-Oakley, be readmitted to membership; the act showing the state of nervous excitement into which the Subba Row imbroglio had thrown her. She used the name of the Blavatsky Lodge and of certain of its members so often in her letters, as condemning me utterly and backing her views unreservedly, that it became at last tiresome. Considering our personal relations, the identity of our ages, and our joint relationship to our Guru, it seemed to me ridiculous that the dicta of a group of junior colleagues, however warm partisans of hers, should influence me to act against my own judgment in questions of management. I wrote her at last that if she sent me any more round robins or protests from the same quarter I should neither read nor answer her letters; our affairs must be settled between ourselves without the interference of third parties. Answering me, she admitted the correctness of my argument and the exasperating documents ceased to arrive."
Theosophical students generally have never gone to the labor necessary in checking Col. Olcott's very numerous misstatements of fact and his very frequent contradictions, but have accepted his testimony and his conclusions alike as accurate and just. The matters just quoted are a case in point. The fact is very plain from his other statements earlier referred to (7) that he himself was the chief "malcontent," for it was The Theosophist that precipitated the "Subba Row imbroglio" by publishing the criticisms on the "seven-fold classification
(7) See Chapter X.
of principles." It was himself who supported Mr. Cooper-Oakley, its Editor, to the very point of a rupture with H.P.B. It was himself, in absolute control both of the Council and the Indian Convention, who favored the invitation not to Subba Row only, but to Mr. Cooper-Oakley and others, "to come back to us." It was himself who had the affair all staged to become a fait accompli before H.P.B. should hear of it, and only her prompt and decisive cablegram to him two days before the Convention convened, upset the cut-and-dried program. The matter had already gone so far it could not be kept out of the proceedings of the Convention, but her cablegram once more convinced Olcott that he had over-shot big mark. The Convention Report, carefully prepared and edited by Richard Harte to conform to the exigencies of Col. Olcott's course in this and the other actions taken by the Convention, reads as follows:
"Second Day, Friday, December 28, 1888.
"The President called on the Secretary to read a resolution of the Bombay Branch, to the effect that the President should urge upon certain ex-Fellows to resume their connection with the Society, and which he, the President, had been particularly requested to lay before the Convention. A debate ensued, in which the unanimous opinion was expressed that such a step would be incompatible with the dignity of the Society. Thereupon Mr. Harte moved... that the document and the whole subject should be laid upon the table, which was carried unanimously."
This was the "desperate attempt at that year's Convention to make trouble for me" over the Subba Row imbroglio that Col. Olcott's reminiscences so graphically and so inaccurately portray and comment upon.
Mr. Harte and Mr. Johnston duly expressed to the Convention the authorized wish of their respective Sections that the executive powers of the President should
be restored to him by formal action of the Convention. According to the Report, Mr. Johnston went further and stated on behalf of the British Section: "It was further their opinion that Fees and Dues should be abolished, and the Society be placed upon a basis of voluntary support. As the President had intimated that he intended to place him (Mr. Johnston) on the Committee for the amendment of the Rules, he would not make any further remarks at present." As the Report follows immediately with a copy of the Rules of the British Section and those Rules provided explicitly both for fees for the support of the Section and for contributions to the Society, it is evident (1) that Mr. Johnston either was not correctly reported in his remarks, or (2) that he exceeded his instructions and authority from the newly organized British Section. Page 42 of the Report contains the statement as the conclusion of the "Report of the Executive Council":
"Resolutions were also adopted to submit for favorable consideration suggestions made by the American and British Sections for the abolition of Entrance Fees and Annual Dues, and for the reorganization of the whole Society upon a basis of Sectional Divisions with an autonomous character, but dependent and subject to the supervision and executive control of the President in Council, as representative of the collective autonomy of the whole Society. The Council is of opinion that radical changes in the Rules are needed, and recommend that the whole subject be referred to a Committee on Rules with instructions to report an amended Code to the present Convention, for its approval."
No one, after reading the extracts just given from "Old Diary Leaves" can doubt that the Executive Council was merely Col. Olcott under a convenient cloak. A. long set of "Revised Rules" was immediately presented to the Convention and the Report says:
"The Rules, as read out one by one by the Secretary, were debated by Sections, amended, and voted upon. The President was empowered, on motion of Mr. S. Ramaswamier... to edit the text, and make necessary corrections therein before sending it to the printer."
The nine pages of the Report immediately following the official proceedings are devoted to elaborate "Introductory Explanations" of the "'Revised Rules," which, upon examination, will be found to be in fact an entirely new Constitution.
Turning now to the official Report of the democratic American Section held at Chicago in April, 1889, following, and to the report of Mr. Judge as General Secretary to that Convention on the matters just considered, Mr. Judge there says:
"My Report for this year has to deal with the progress of the Society's work since our last Convention, and certain changes which have been made by the Convention in India in last December. I propose to consider the last first.
"The Secretary in charge in India has already sent to most of the Branches a copy of the 'Revised Rules.' By reading those, together with the Report of the Convention held there, it will be seen that apparently the purpose to revise the rules and abolish fees and dues was proposed by the American and English Sections, acting through their Delegates, Mr. Richard Harte and Mr. Charles Johnston. Mr. Harte was delegated by the Executive Committee, at the time he left London for India, to represent the American Section at that Convention, but, at the same time, written instructions were given him, very definitely stating that all that the American Section required him to do was to endeavor to restore to Col. Olcott the powers which he had voluntarily given up at a previous date, and those
were stated to be the only changes which he should say we were in favor of. It was not then thought that any proposal to abolish fees and dues would be made, and, as Mr. Harte was himself present in New York when our Constitution governing the American Section was passed, and knew our policy in carrying on the work here, it never for a moment occurred to the Executive Committee that it was necessary to say any more than we had said, and as our Constitution declared our autonomy which had been granted prior to the passage of the Constitution, and which has since been armed in the Convention in India, even if we had been told in advance what was proposed to be done, we should have thought it to be impossible, as well as injudicious.
"The 'Revised Rules' also amend the "objects" of the Society by altering them and adding to them, and, in a paper published in the succeeding issue of the "Theosophist" signed 'F.T.S.' an attempt is made to show that the 'objects have never been definitely formulated.' This article is full of misconceptions, and, therefore, of wrong conclusions, because the gentleman who wrote it was not acquainted with the facts nor in possession of the records. He refers to the printed "Rules" of each year, and says that in 1882 for the first time they appeared as they were printed last year, but on looking over my records I find, not only that they have always been the same - except in minor elaborations not affecting the substance, - but that they were originally formulated in the shape they appeared before the last Convention in India, at the time that this Society was organized in 1875.
"... These alterations seem to be injudicious. I therefore suggest to the Convention that a Resolution be passed dissenting from the ad-
visability of these alterations and requesting a restoration, if possible, to the old form.
"In the second place, all dues and fees are attempted to be abolished, and the source of revenue for expenses made to depend on voluntary contributions.
"You will note that these "Revised Rules" reaffirm the autonomy we claimed in 1886 which was subsequently ratified. There is no inconsistency in our declaring autonomy in respect to the internal affairs of the Section and, at the same time, our allegiance to the cause and to the Society as a whole.
"I am authorized by Mme. Blavatsky to say that she is not in favor of the change, and the majority of the British Section also disagree with it, and have stated that their delegate was not authorized to consent to it."
Mr. Judge goes on to say that, aware of the sentiment of the American and British Sections, he had written to Adyar protesting against the proposed change in the matter of dues, and had received a reply from "Bro. Harte, the Secretary, enclosing a copy of a Resolution passed by the Commissioners in charge during Col. Olcott's absence." That Resolution "suspended until further order" that portion of the "Revised Rules" relating to fees and dues. This was subsequently "ratified" by the Indian "Council" and confirmed by a change in the "Rules" at the next succeeding Adyar Convention, which was not held until 1890, owing to the absence of Col. Olcott in Europe in December, 1889 - of which in due course. (8)
By referring to "Old Diary Leaves," Volume 21 of The Theosophist, at pages 324-5, comparison of Col. Olcott's comments with those of Mr. Judge can be made. Thus
(8) See Chapter XVII.
"Consistently with my policy to give every chance to my colleagues to try experiments which seemed to them to promise well for the Society's interest, I acceded to their wish that we should try what effect the complete abolition of entrance fees and annual dues, and the trusting for the Society's support to voluntary contributions, would have. Personally, I did not believe in the scheme, though I officially supported it... But the Convention voted for the change, upon the motion of the representatives of the British and American Sections present; I concurred, and issued the necessary Executive Notices, to clear the way.
"The first effect was that angry protests broke out in both the Western Sections; H.P.B. wrote me a violent letter, denouncing me as a vacillator and liberally reporting what so and so, her friends and colleagues, said about my inconsistency, after having just effected the organization of a British Section and giving it the right to levy the customary entrance fees and annual dues; while Judge and his party openly revolted and refused to comply with the new order of things. Secretly I was rather amused to see how much of a mess was being made by marplots eager to have a finger in the pie, and was disposed to give them rope to hang themselves with. It was not long before the experiment failed and we returned to the old method....
"The other important thing done by the Convention of 1888 was the adoption of the policy of re-organizing the Society's work on the line of autonomous Sections: this having been the motive prompting me originally to grant, in 1886, a Charter to the American Section and, later, one to the new Section in London. The plan had proved an entire success in America, and after two years of testing it in practice it seemed but fair to extend it to all our fields of activity. It
was an admirable plan in every respect... and the Society changed from a quasi-autocracy to a constitutional Federation, each part independent as to its internal affairs, but responsible to every other part for its loyal support of the movement and its ideals and of the Federal Centre, which bound the whole together, like the fasces of the lictor, into an unbreakable bundle."
The elaborate "Introductory Explanations" to the "Revised Rules" published in the "Supplement" to The Theosophist for January, 1889, was followed in the February number by an article on "The Theosophical Society," and signed in both cases with the initials "F.T.S." Both articles were undoubtedly written by Mr. Harte. It was these articles which were referred to by Mr. Judge in his report to the American Section. Both articles should be examined with great care as they mark the public features of a sustained campaign on the part of Col. Olcott and his associates to subordinate the esoteric aspect of the Theosophical Movement to the exoteric Society, to center the attention of the membership on the Society, and to make of the Indian headquarters and Col. Olcott the prime object of allegiance and devotion, as the visible head and front of the Movement. This campaign was coincident with the Coues-Collins' developments and can be taken only as co-ordinate with them.
"The Theosophical Society" first attempts to show that in the beginning the Society had no determinate purpose, no definite lines of direction, but was an "evolution" from unintended, unforeseen, unexpected stages.
"The Theosophical Society" then takes up the Objects of the Society and speaks of them also as a "development."
Curiously enough, "F.T.S.," goes on to say, later in his article:
"This variation in the declared objects of the Society [those just promulgated in the "Re-
vised Rules"] must not be taken as indicating any real change in the intentions of the Founders. There is abundant evidence in their writings and speeches that from the first their purposes were to stimulate the spiritual development of the individual and, to awaken in the race the sentiment of Brotherhood."
"The Theosophical Society" was followed in the June, 1889, Theosophist by two more articles.
Olcott's Attempt to Centralize All AuthorityWhen the January, 1889, Theosophist with its Report of the Adyar Convention, and the February number with the articles noted, reached America, Mr. Judge considered them in his report as General Secretary of the Convention of the American Section. How the issues raised were met has been shown in the citations given both from Mr. Judge's report (1) and from the Letter of H.P.B. to the same Convention. Lucifer for March, 1889, contained an editorial "On Pseudo-Theosophy," in which, taking advantage of an article in the London Daily News which amused itself by some comments on Dr. Franz Hartmann's novel, "The Talking Image of Urur," then running in Lucifer, H.P.B. without naming any names discussed the counter-currents in the Society. In Lucifer for June she published the article, "It's the Cat," which was "Dedicated to those Members of the T.S. whom the Cap may fit." Again without naming persons, she pays attention to those who would make of her "the cat," i.e., the scapegoat for all the sins of omission and commission of the Society and its members.
It was the habit with the three leading Theosophical publications to send to each other advance proofs of all forthcoming important articles. All the above cited articles should therefore be read, both in connection with the then existing internal and external situation of the Society, and as a prelude to the June, 1889, Theosophist.
"Applied Theosophy," its leading editorial, is an article of nearly ten pages. The writer asks:
The first question that naturally arises is, whether the action of the Theosophical Society
(1) See preceding chapter.
in every respect should be limited to its declared Objects.... Of the three Objects two are distinctly separated from everything else... The first Object is altogether different. To 'form the nucleus of Universal Brotherhood,' is so far from conducing to retirement and concentration, is a purpose so high, so deep, so broad, so universally sympathetic, so distant of realization, that it becomes vague and confused when the attention is directed to it, and to most Fellows this Object is about equivalent in practice to the formation of a nucleus for the recurrence of the Golden Age, or for the reestablishment of the garden of Eden...
"Here and there a Fellow of the Society outside of India may be found who is willing to accept the Eastern Initiates, whether ancient or modern, as teachers; but the majority prefer to think and theorize for themselves, which is, after all, the best way for anyone to learn who can think and theorize logically.
"We have, then, a Society without opinions but with certain 'Objects,' certain principles, and certain methods, and we have as a result a tendency to certain modes of thought and certain theories of the Universe, to which theories the name of Theosophy has been given.... The fact that 'The Secret Doctrine' has been so generally understood and so highly appreciated by Theosophists, shows that their own thoughts were not so very much behind the ideas given out in that marvelous work.
"All this, however, is only what may be called the intellectual or philosophical side of Theosophy; and it is the fruit of the Theosophical Society's influence in only one direction...."
The whole tendency of this argument appears clearly, first, to discredit the real and primary Object of the Society, and to make a division in its Three Objects;
secondly, to emphasize that the teachings of the "Secret Doctrine" are neither new to the membership nor in any way an impartation from a higher plane of perception, as the "thoughts" of the membership "were not so very much behind the ideas 'given out' in that work"; thirdly, that H.P.B.'s "theories of the Universe" are merely "the fruit of the Theosophical Society's influence." The Society is not an outcome of H.P.B. 's mission and teaching; on the contrary these are a development of and from the Society!
After discoursing on the implications derivable from these premises, Mr. Harte proceeds a step further:
"... Since the Theosophical Society has professedly, as a body, no opinions on any subject, it is equally a transgression of its basic principles for it to sustain or promulgate any special system of philosophy, as in practice it decidedly does, under the name of "Theosophy"..."
Then Mr. Harte, his ground ready, asks:
"Can any means be devised whereby the Fellows of the Society can apply their knowledge and their energies to the practical affairs of life? Practical Theosophy is an affair of the future. Applied Theosophy is a more modest ambition, and is, or ought to be, a possibility."
Mr. Harte has his answer ready:
"If the Fellows of the Theosophical Society are to apply their Theosophy to the affairs of life, it must be through the Society, and as individual units of the whole, - not as isolated individuals... It is this mystic individuality, 'the sum total,' that gives strength to all societies and congregations of men, and becomes the real dominating power, to which all contribute some of their force, and which stands behind every unit
and lends its whole strength to it. Without it a Fellow of the Theosophical Society would be as powerless as any other isolated man or woman in the community. With it behind him an F.T.S. is a power in proportion to the unity and singleness of purpose of the Society to which he belongs."
It is from the Society that radiates the "dominating power"; from the Society that the members are to draw their sustenance and support, not from any Teacher or Teaching, not from any "self-induced and self-devised exertions" of the individual aspirants. The model to follow, the example to emulate, is pictured by Mr. Harte:
"Who speaks when a priest of the Roman Catholic Church utters a command? The united power of the Church of Rome. Who speaks when a disfrocked priest says something? A nonentity. Who speaks when the Judge, the General, the Statesman open their mouths? 'The State,' - the tremendous and often tyrannical personality that comes into life and action when the units that compose it [are] bound together, through organization, by a common will and a common purpose."
This idea that it is only "through organization," through making the Society the prime object of devotion, its "authority" through the voice of its officials supreme over the individual conscience and action, that "Applied Theosophy," can be made a success is argued at length, leading up to the culmination of making the Adyar Headquarters a second Rome, and, by necessary inference, of the President-Founder a Theosophical Pope:
"The Theosophical Society is an ideal power for good diffused over the whole world, but it
requires material conditions, and the most important of these is a material centre, from which and to which the efferent and afferent forces shall circulate. This is a condition of the life of all organizations, and of all organisms, and the Theosophical Society is both; it is an organization on the material plane, an organism on the spiritual. A common centre, therefore, is as necessary for spiritual as for physical reasons. "Adyar" is not a place only, it is a principle. It is a name that ought to carry with it a power far greater than that conveyed by the name "Rome." Adyar is the centre of the Theosophical Movement - not "7 Duke Street, Adelphi" [the publication office of Lucifer] or "Post Office Box 2659, New York" [the address of The Path].
"Adyar is a principle and a symbol, as well as a locality. Adyar is the name which means on the material plane the Headquarters of an international, or, more properly speaking, worldwide Society.... It means on the supra-physical plane a centre of life and energy, the point to and from which the currents run between the ideal and the material. Every loyal Fellow has in his heart a little Adyar, for he has in him a spark of the spiritual fire which the name typifies. Adyar is the symbol of our unity as a Society, and so long as it exists in the hearts of its Fellows, the powers of the enemy can never prevail against the Theosophical Society....
"What then, to recapitulate, must be our answer to the questions with which we started: - Is such a thing as "Applied Theosophy" possible? If so, of what does it consist?
"... the Fellows must perceive that the Theosophical Society is a living entity, "ideal" if one chooses to call it so, but an entity one and indivisible alike upon the material and on the super-physical plane. We have also seen that
the visible centre of the Society, Adyar, is symbolical of the principle of unity, as well as of the material life of the Society, and that in every sense loyalty to Adyar means loyalty to the objects of the Society and to the principles of Theosophy...."
The same - June - number of The Theosophist contained a related article by Mr. Harte, signed "F.T.S." and bearing the title, "The Situation." Some extracts follow:
"We have not yet got our proper bearings after the radical change in the Society made by an Order of the President last autumn, and adopted into the Constitution and Rules of the Theosophical Society, by the General Council in the Annual Convention of 1888. This change was the formation of an Esoteric Division of the Society; and this separation of the esoteric element from the exoteric, is not only a disentangling of two things that have different methods and aims, and the mixing up of which in the life and work of the Society has given rise to considerable confusion, but it is, moreover, a weaning of the Society from sources that have previously nourished it.... It is pretty generally felt that if the Theosophical Society is to be a moral and spiritual power in the world, it must be in touch with the world and live in the world; using such methods in its dealings with that world as the latter can appreciate and understand, or which, at all events. will not excite its prejudices, and put it into a fury of opposition at the very first go off."
There is here put forward the misstatement that the formation of the Esoteric Section was due to and dependent upon "an Order of the President"; that the real object of its formation was to separate the "esoteric
element from the exoteric"; that the "mixing up" of the esoteric with the exoteric aspects of the Movement had given rise to "considerable confusion," and that it was necessary to "wean" the Society "from the sources that have hitherto nourished it." The view is presented that if the Society is to influence the world it must have a worldly incentive to offer, a worldly basis and authority in order to "be a moral and spiritual power in the world"; that because its actual Objects, its actual basis, its actual methods have hitherto been unworldly, therefore it has excited the prejudices of the world, therefore it has put the world "into a fury of opposition." What is needed, in this view, is not the basis and methods of H.P.B., which have been the disturbing factor, but the basis and methods of Col. Olcott, Mr. Sinnett, et al, who have been using and will continue to use such methods in dealing with the world "as the latter can appreciate and understand." This suggestion implanted, the logical corollary is that H.P.B.'s methods have been a blunder which must be corrected. What her methods have been and how sadly she has misrepresented the Masters, are next implied:
"If there is any reliance to be placed upon what has come to us as the wishes and instructions of those mysterious Personages behind the scenes, by whose orders the Society was founded, then the weaning of the Society from any further professed and ostensible connection with phenomena and invisible wire-pullers (using the term with the greatest respect) has been determined and decreed some time ago. If we are to have faith in anything we have been told as coming from the Masters, we are constrained to believe that it is their wish that the Theosophical Society shall now stand before all men for what it is worth in itself, and that Theosophy shall from henceforth be put before the world as a system of philosophical and ethical truth which stands on its own merits without any adventitious aids,
props or abutments. This implies at the outset that from henceforth Occultism and Theosophy, which are in reality two very different things, shall be separate in the minds of the Fellows, and in the life of the Society."
The Master's letter to Col. Olcott (2) is referred to to show that H.P.B. should "mind her own business!" Mr. Harte comments:
"That letter refers to the settlement of a dispute among the Fellows in France, but the principle so definitely stated with regard to the division of functions... and the formation of an Esoteric Division of the Theosophical Society under the exclusive management and control of Madame Blavatsky was the result of its wider application - it being understood that the President was in no way to interfere with that division, Madame Blavatsky, in return, abstaining in future from any direct interference with the worldly or exoteric management of the Society. ... It may be further stated here, for the benefit of those whom it may concern, that the formation of the Esoteric Section, was in accordance with the instructions received from the Masters.
"On both sides this new departure was felt to be a relief. Occultism is above all 'rule' or 'bye-law' emanating from the will of the governed, which is the only possible basis of a popular government such as that of the Theosophical Society. The result of trying to make two such different things work harmoniously was like that which might be expected from harnessing together a 'sacred bull' and a draft horse - the wagon was continually running into the fence, and always in danger of being upset; a danger in no way diminished by the fact that two coach-
(1) See Chapter X.
men sat on the box seat, each of whom held one of the reins, and pulled it vigorously every now and then without much reference to the ideas of the other, or to "things as a whole." Now, happily, there has been a division of labour, each driver has got his own animal to himself."
Having thus driven home the idea that H.P.B. and Col. Olcott were originally on a plane of entire equality both with regard to the Masters and to the T.S.; that the "interference" of H.P.B. was as displeasing to Masters as it was to Col. Olcott, so that Masters gave Col. Olcott "instructions" to "order" the formation of an Esoteric Section to limit the capacity for harmfulness of H.P.B.; that the "bargain" was that H.P.B. should be let alone in the esoteric "Division" and Col. Olcott no longer interfered with in the Society as a whole - having thus arrived at his explanation of facts and factors, Mr. Harte then pays attention to the "Esoteric Division," its members, and H.P.B. in these terms:
"The head of the Esoteric Division is at liberty to impose pledges, institute degrees, and ordain exercises, and without let or hindrance to issue instructions and orders to those who place themselves under her guidance;...
"With the affairs of the Esoteric Division this article has nothing to do. That division seems to be a kind of Annex to the Theosophical Society proper, having two doors of exit - one leading up to higher levels, the other leading down and out. Not only do advanced students seek entrance to it, but it appears to have especial attractions for many who are spiritually somewhat crippled. The halt, the maimed and the blind, blissfully unaware of their infirmities, and oblivious of their utter want of preparation, knock incontinently at the door, and the Head of the Division cannot always refuse them a
chance. At the first little "trial" these weak brothers lose their heads and their holds, fall flat on their noses, and go off howling.
"The President and General Council are free to legislate for the Theosophical Society to the best of their knowledge and ability, in conformity with the wishes of the majority of the Fellows...
It is a matter of fact... that the Rules of the Theosophical Society have been all along so weak, confused and contradictory, that no other society or persons who wished to receive credit for common sense would probably have put up with them for a day. So long as the esoteric and exoteric elements were mixed up in the Society this state of affairs did not matter. It was inevitable;...
"The consequences of the former state of affairs is telling on the Society now.... No one suspected the want of loyalty to the Society on the part of a portion of the Branches and Sections, until the attempt was made by the late Convention to put a little seriousness and energy into the Society. It looks as if certain of the Sections and Branches have got somewhat too high an opinion of their own importance."
The only Sections which existed prior to the Convention were the American, the British, and the Esoteric, whose Branches, Groups, and Members were primarily interested in Theosophy, not the Society, and who therefore looked to Theosophy and to the example and guidance of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge, not to Col. Olcott and the "Rules and Bye-laws" of the Indian Convention's facile adoption at Col. Olcott's behests. Plain notice is therefore served on these recalcitrants - as they seemed to the President and his associates - that they have no authority, rights, or existence, save by virtue of Col. Olcott's "orders" and that the Power that created
them can as easily dissolve them; and it is intimated that that Power will be exercised if former conduct is not superseded by better behavior:
"They [the Sections and Branches] exist only by virtue of Charters issued by the President of the Theosophical Society. It is the fact of the possession of these Charters that makes them different from other little collections of students of Theosophy in the countries where they exist, and gives them what credit they enjoy... Suppose it became necessary to withdraw the Charters of certain Sections, does any one believe for a moment that the Theosophical Society would eventually suffer? At present a large and increasing proportion of the Fellows are "Fellows at large" - that is, unattached to any branch; Fellows in Branches would perceive that their status remained unchanged; and thousands who now sympathize with the objects and work of the Society, but are deterred from joining it by the idea that they are expected to join a branch, would prick up their ears and become interested. These do not care to join the Society now for a variety of reasons: - because they look upon the branches as mutual admiration clubs; because they regard them as the private friends and followers of some one man; because they don't want to be bothered in attending their meetings and listening to things they either know already or do not understand; because they are disgusted with the jealousies and rivalries of Fellows who are prominent in branches; because they do not approve of the branch system at all, which brings the Fellows who belong to branches into unnecessary publicity. If every existing Charter of Section and branch of the Theosophical Society were withdrawn tomorrow, the Society would, in all probability, be a stronger body in a short time than it is now, and
certainly it would not be a weaker one. Every active Fellow would become a natural recruiting agent, not for a little local branch as at present, but for the Theosophical Society."
All this leads up to the summation which is laid before the members, as the cure for the "Situation":
"The Theosophical Society would then exist as a homogeneous whole, composed of loyal Fellows animated by a common spirit, and Adyar would be what it ought to be - the centre of a system for the circulation of Theosophical ideas and literature, and for the organization of Theosophical activities all over the globe. And the Fellows would soon spontaneously form into groups with connections with each other and with Adyar, which would enable them to carry out the work.
"These are very obvious considerations. Still, there are people who do not always remember them, and to whom the above remarks may not be without utility."
These articles in the June, 1889, Theosophist were immediately followed in the "Supplement" to the July issue by an article entitled "A Disclaimer," the insinuations in which were still more direct and pronounced. It is, in full, as follows:
"The Editor of The Theosophist has much pleasure in publishing the following extracts from a letter from Mr. Bertram Keightley, Secretary of the 'Esoteric Section' of the Theosophical Society, to one of the Commissioners, which have been handed to him for publication. [Mr. Keightley's letter was in fact a private one to Mr. Harte himself, in reply to a letter from Mr. Harte.] It should be explained that the denial therein contained refers to certain surmises
and reports afloat in the Society, and which were seemingly corroborated by apparently arbitrary and underhand proceedings by certain Fellows known to be members of the Esoteric Section.
"Mr. Keightley tells this Commissioner that he must not believe 'that the Esoteric Section has any, even the slightest, pretension to "boss" the Theosophical Society or anything o f the kind.' Again he says: 'We are all, H.P.B. first and foremost, just as loyal to the Theosophical Society and to Adyar as the Colonel can possibly be.' And yet again he says: 'I have nothing more to say, except to repeat in the most formal and positive manner my assurance that there is not a word of truth in the statement that the Esoteric Section has any desire or pretension to "boss" any other part or Section of the T.S.'
"It is to be hoped that after this very distinct and authoritative disclaimer no further 'private circulars' will be issued by any members of the Esoteric Section, calling upon the Fellows to oppose the action of the General Council, because 'Madame Blavatsky does not approve of it'; and also that silly editorials, declaring that Theosophy is degenerating into obedience to the dictates of Madame Blavatsky, like that in a recent issue of the Religio-Philosophical Journal, will cease to appear."
The private circulars referred to are the First Preliminary Memorandum (3) to applicants to the E.S., issued by H.P.B., and the Report of Mr. Judge as General Secretary to the American Convention, from both of which documents we have already given the germane extracts. The "silly editorial" was an article by Col.
(3) See Chapter XI. The Preliminary Memorandum of the Esoteric Section was issued by H.P.B. late in 1888. Its strictures on the failure of the T.S. were the undoubted occasion of Mr. Harte's series of articles in The Theosophist.
Bundy in his paper, the Religio-Philosophical Journal, in support of the Coues-Collins attack.
To appreciate fully the force and bearing of the various citations given, the student should remember that The Theosophist was the official organ of the Society; The Path and Lucifer being Theosophical, not organizational, publications; further, that The Theosophist was the only one of the three with any circulation in India, and was, in addition, sent officially to every Branch throughout the world and had a wide circulation among the Fellows in England, France, and the United States. For a large portion of the membership it was the only means of information concerning the Society, and, in India, the only channel both for Theosophy and the Society. Indian members, therefore, were entirely dependent on it for the accuracy, completeness, and authenticity of its statements.
Immediately following the Convention of 1888, Col. Olcott had departed on a tour in Japan from which he did not return until the latter half of 1889. During his absence Mr. Harte was in entire charge of The Theosophist, and was one of the three "Commissioners" to whom he had delegated his powers as President; the other two being Hindu members of his "General Council." It cannot be doubted, both that Mr. Harte was following out a prearranged program in the matter quoted from, and that he was in constant communication with Col. Olcott during the latter's absence on his Japanese Buddhist mission. That his course was fully approved by Col. Olcott is shown by the immediate sequel, as follows:
As soon as the proofs of the two articles quoted from reached America Mr. Judge prepared a long communication taking issue with the facts, the implications, the spirit, and the tendencies thus expressed with every appearance of authority and Presidential sanction in the Official organ of the Society. This - and the fact should be noted as an example of the method used by both Mr. Judge and H.P.B. in dealing with Col. Olcott's periodical outbreaks of "pledge fever" - was sent privately by
Mr. Judge direct to Col. Olcott with request for its insertion in The Theosophist, on the assumed ground that the articles complained of were written without Col. Olcott's knowledge and that he, no less than Mr. Judge, would hasten to correct the misstatements and false suggestions conveyed by the articles in question.
In the September, 1889, Theosophist, Col. Olcott published as the leading editorial and over his own signature an article entitled "Centres of The Theosophical Movement." He refused to print Mr. Judge's article in full, declaring that it -
"Contains passages of a far too personal character for me to admit them.... I have taken no part, nor shall I, in the various unseemly quarrels, public and private, which the friction of 'strong personalities' among us has and probably always will engender. They are mostly unimportant, involving no great principles or vital issue, and therefore beneath the interest of those who have the high purposes and aims of the Society at heart."
He calls Mr. Judge's criticisms "mayavic delusion." He then quotes Mr. Judge that the "Centre" is wherever H.P.B. may be; that it was originally in New York, then in Bombay, then "a short time at Adyar" (while she was there) -
"... for where she is burns the flame that draws its force from the plane of ideas! The mere location of the President in Adyar, and the existence of a library there, do not make that spot our Rome." ...What would become of this new Rome - Adyar - if an order were received for Col. Olcott and H.P. Blavatsky to betake themselves to America once more and there set up the Theosophical Society Headquarters? Such a thing might happen. It happened before, and the channel for the order was H.P. Blavatsky. Does any one suppose that either Col.
Olcott or H.P. Blavatsky would be obstructed in their actions by the 'Revised Rules?'"
This query rouses Col. Olcott over what he calls his "irascible colleague's questions and conundrums." He proceeds to argue at length from the record of the various minutes and changes of by-laws and rules that the President-Founder is the real fountain of authority in the Society and the real "Rome" is wherever the President-Founder may be domiciled. He does not claim "spiritual authority," he says, but he does claim he has been "granted absolute and unlimited discretion as to the practical management of our affairs." He has never interfered with H.P.B.:
"... who taught and introduced me to my Initiators, but it was I who gave officially to her last year a charter to form her Esoteric Section.
Between her and myself there was never any dispute upon these points, she sustaining my exoteric authority as loyally as I have ever recognized her superior connection with the 'Founders.' ... Col. Olcott did not move the Headquarters to India by any one's order: his 'orders' came from the depths of his own heart. ... If in the course of the Society's development the transfer of Headquarters should ever be advisable - which neither I nor Mr. Judge can now forecast - doubtless I shall receive direct notice with ample time to make all the necessary arrangements in a businesslike and constitutional manner.
"... But when it is a question of papal infallibilities and Romes, it is just as well to say it was I who proposed the formation of the Society, who had all the early burden of guiding its infant steps, and who, after the collapse of the original legislative scheme of Rules and Bye-Laws, had - as above remarked - all the executive responsibility...."
"What the heart is to the body the Headquarters is to the Society, the working centre of its vital action. Its existence is what makes Theosophy a 'going concern.'... While the French and Germans mutually resent interference by each other in their official concerns and both would rebel against interference with them by the British or American Sections and vice versa, all unhesitatingly submit their unsettled disputes to the Executive for decision. And again, when there was trouble between personal factions in English Branches and between the American Theosophical leaders, it was to me and to no one else that the disputants looked for equitable composition of their troubles. These are facts beyond dispute, facts going to prove the indispensability of a general centre which shall be the official residence of the central arbitrator and judge, officially placed above the plane of partisanship and of local interests and influences."
These numerous and lengthy extracts will, we believe, serve fairly and fully to place before the reader the views entertained by Col. Olcott and actuating his conduct, his estimate of his own importance, and his attitude towards his colleagues and their status in the Society and in the Movement. Mr. Judge's views may be readily inferred from what has been given. It remains to compare and contrast all with the definite statement, of H.P.B. in the Preliminary Memorandum already quoted from, (4) and with her equally definite public expression of her own views and attitude as drawn forth and compelled by the several articles mentioned. In Lucifer for August, 1889, under the caption, "A Puzzle from Adyar," H.P.B., like Mr. Judge, assumes that The Theosophist articles have been written without the concurrence of Col. Olcott and without intention to aid and abet the enemy. "Now what," she asks, -
(4) See Chapter XI.
"may be the meaning of this extraordinary and most tactless 'sortie' of the esteemed acting editor of our Theosophist? Is he... like our (and his) editor-enemies across the Atlantic, also dreaming uncanny dreams and seeing lying visions - or what? And let me remind him at once that he must not feel offended by these remarks, as he has imperatively called them forth himself. Lucifer, the Path and the Theosophist are the only organs of communication with the Fellows of our Society, each in its respective country. Since the acting editor of the Theosophist has chosen to give a wide publicity in his organ to abnormal fancies, he has no right to expect a reply through any other channel than Lucifer. Moreover, if he fails to understand all the seriousness of his implied charges against me and several honorable men, he may realise them better, when he reads the present.
"... what does he try to insinuate by the following..."
She then reprints the "Disclaimer" from the "Supplement" to the July Theosophist, and analyzes the several insinuations in regard to members of the E.S., who, she says, "stand accused by Mr. Harte... of 'arbitrary and underhand proceedings.'" She asks, "Is not such a sentence a gross insult thrown into the face of honorable men - far better Theosophists than any of their accusers - and of myself?" Of the plain intimation that the American or British Sections or the Blavatsky Lodge or the E.S. wanted to "boss Adyar," she says:
"That the E.S. had never any pretensions to "boss" the T.S., stands to reason: with the exception of Col. Olcott, the President, the Esoteric Section has nothing whatever to do with the Theosophical Society, its Council or officers. It is a Section entirely apart from the exoteric body and independent of it, H.P.
B. alone being responsible for its members, as shown in the official announcement over the signature of the President-Founder himself. It follows, therefore, that the E.S., as a body owes no allegiance whatever to the Theosophical Society, as a Society, least of all to Adyar."
Next she takes up another statement in the "Disclaimer."
"It is pure nonsense to say that 'H.P.B.... is loyal to the Theosophical Society and to Adyar' (?) H.P.B. is loyal to death to the Theosophical CAUSE, and those great Teachers whose philosophy alone can bind the whole of Humanity into one Brotherhood. Together with Col. Olcott, she is the chief Founder and Builder of the Society which was and is meant to represent that CAUSE; and if she is so loyal to H.S. Olcott, it is not at all because of his being its 'President,' but, firstly, because there is no man living who has worked harder for that Society, or been more devoted to it than the Colonel, and, secondly, because she regards him as a loyal friend and co-worker. Therefore the degree of her sympathies with the 'Theosophical Society and Adyar' depends upon the degree of the loyalty of that Society to the CAUSE. Let it break away from the original lines and show disloyalty in its policy to the CAUSE and the original programme of the Society, and H.P.B. calling the T.S. disloyal, will shake it off like dust from her feet.
"And what does 'loyalty to Adyar' mean, in the name of all wonders? What is Adyar apart from that CAUSE and the two (not one Founder, if you please) who represent it? Adyar is the present Headquarters of the Society, because these 'Headquarters are wherever the President is,' as stated in the rules. To be logical the
Fellows of the T.S. had to be loyal to Japan while Col. Olcott was there, and to London during his presence here."
She then makes the memorable declaration of the actual existing status of affairs:
"There is no longer a 'Parent Society'; it is abolished and replaced by an aggregate body of Theosophical Societies, all autonomous, as are the States of America, and all under one head President, who, together with H.P. Blavatsky, will champion the CAUSE against the whole world. Such is the real state of things."
The theory of government of the Society held, practiced and preached by Col. Olcott and his pliant supporters is next covered by her declaration made in that regard also:
"Whenever 'Madame Blavatsky does not approve' of 'an action of the General Council' (or 'Commissioners,' of whom Mr. R. Harte is one), she will say so openly and to their faces. Because (a) Madame Blavatsky does not owe the slightest allegiance to a Council which is liable at any moment to issue silly and untheosophical ukases; and (b) for the simple reason that she recognizes but one person in the T.S. beside herself, namely Colonel Olcott, as having the right of effecting fundamental reorganizations in a Society which owes its life to them, and for which they are both karmically responsible. If the acting editor makes slight account of a sacred pledge, neither Col. Olcott nor H.P. Blavatsky are likely to do so. H.P. Blavatsky will always bow before the decision of the majority of a Section or even a simple Branch; but she will ever protest against the decision of the General Council, were it composed of Archangels and Dhyan Chohans themselves, if their
decision seems to her unjust, or untheosophical, or fails to meet with the approval of the majority of the Fellows. No more than H.P. Blavatsky has the President-Founder the right of exercising autocracy or papal powers, and Col. Olcott would be the last man in the world to attempt to do so. It is the two Founders and especially the President, who have virtually sworn allegiance to the Fellows, whom they have to protect, and teach those who want to be taught, and not to tyrannize and rule over them."
Here, as always, where the weaknesses, the foibles, and the derelictions of her associates and students are involved, H.P.B. writes only under the gravest compulsion, with the extreme of reluctance, and in such terms as to hold wide the door of return to right action with the least possible humiliation to the pride and vanity of human nature. She sums up, and conveys at the same time her appeal to the best in her colleagues, in these terms:
"And now I have said over my own signature what I had to say and that which ought to have been said in so many plain words long ago. The public is all agog with the silliest stories about our doings, and the supposed and real dissensions in the Society. Let every one know the truth at last, in which there is nothing to make any one ashamed and which alone can put an end to a most painful and strained feeling. This truth is as simple as can be.
"The acting editor of the Theosophist has taken it into his head that the Esoteric Section together with the British and American Sections, were either conspiring or preparing to conspire against what he most curiously calls 'Adyar' and its authority. Now being a most devoted Fellow of the T.S. and attached to the President, his zeal in hunting up this mare's
nest has led him to become more Catholic than
the Pope. That is all, and I hope that such misunderstandings and hallucinations will come to an end with the return of the President to India. Had he been at home, he, at any rate, would have objected to all those dark hints and cloaked sayings that have of late incessantly appeared in the Theosophist to the great delight of our enemies....
"But it is time for me to close. If Mr. Harte persists still in acting in such a strange and untheosophical way, then the sooner the President settles these matters the better for all concerned.
"Owing to such undignified quibbles, Adyar and especially the Theosophist are fast becoming the laughing stock of Theosophists themselves as well as of their enemies."
And, lest her unfailing clemency should again be misconstrued and abused to their own injury and that of the Cause to which they, no less than herself, are pledged, she concludes with this note of mingled appeal and warning to those at fault:
"I end by assuring him [Mr. Harte] that there is no need for him to pose as Colonel Olcott's protecting angel. Neither he nor I need a third party to screen us from each other. We have worked and toiled and suffered together for fifteen long years, and if after all these years of mutual friendship the President-Founder were capable of lending ear to insane accusations and turning against me, well - the world is wide enough for us both. Let the new Exoteric Theosophical Society headed by Mr. Harte, play at red tape if the President lets them and let the General Council expel me for 'disloyalty,' if, again, Colonel Olcott should be so blind as to fail to see where the 'true friend' and his duty
lie. Only unless they hasten to do so, at the first sign of their disloyalty to the CAUSE - it is I who will have resigned my office of Corresponding Secretary for life and left the Society. This will not prevent me from remaining at the head of those who will follow me.
- H.P. Blavatsky."
--- 267Chapter XVII
H.P.B. Takes Charge of the T.S. in EuropeIt would serve no useful purpose to set out in detail the internecine troubles of the Theosophical Society during the three years which followed. Our aim has been to present only so much of the sequence of events during that melancholy period of stress and strain as might make clear the two horns of the dilemma unavoidably produced by the clash between human nature and the purposes of the Theosophical Movement. That is to say (1) to indicate clearly the failure of the Society and its responsible officials and leaders to live up to its and their professed Objects; (2) the corresponding necessity under which H.P. Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge labored - either to stand by and permit the Society to become a worldly success but an Occult failure, or to restore the Movement by the formation of the Esoteric Section within the shell of the Society.
The Society tended continually to follow those lines which were attractive to the members and the inquiring public - that is, to run into channels of mere study of comparative religion and philosophy or to experiments and investigations in psychical research. The inflexible devotion to the assimilation of the philosophy of Theosophy, the rigid self-discipline required for the application of Theosophy to their own daily conduct in all the affairs of life - these essential conditions precedent to any realization of the great First Object, possessed no charms for any but the very few. Theoretical brotherhood was one thing; the practical application and exemplification of the principles professedly held was quite another thing, then as now.
On the other hand, one has but to read any one of the statements emanating from the Masters of Wisdom from
1877-96, to recognize the great gulf between Their view of life and action and that prevailing in the world and in the Society. Philosophy and ethics, ethics and philosophy - through the study and application of these alone could the Society and its members hope to benefit the world and themselves. Little by little the opposed fundamental ideas and applications produced those frictions and fractures which at last led to the opening up of broad lines of cleavage. And since actions do not perform themselves, it was inevitable that these fundamental differences should at last become personified in the leading persons and personages whose relations embody the history of the Theosophical Movement.
After the receipt of the advance proofs of Lucifer for August 15, 1889, containing "A Puzzle from Adyar," Col. Olcott recognized that the various issues evoked by the Convention proceedings of December preceding and the subsequent promulgations in The Theosophist, had been squarely met by H.P.B. and Mr. Judge. Either he would have to proceed in open defiance of them and of their policies, execute a complete "about face," and bring himself once more into line with the principles and procedure they had proclaimed, or take a compromise course. He chose, as usual, the middle course: he determined to go to England and "fight it out" once more with H.P.B., rather than raise the standard of rebellion and thus perforce align himself with Prof. Coues, whose assault threatened not only the ruin of the prestige of H.P.B., but the destruction of the Society as well. He therefore hastened to insert in the "Supplement" to The Theosophist for August a formal notice addressed "To the Indian Section," in which he announced his departure for the United Kingdom in these words:
"A promise made last year obliges me to proceed without delay to England for a Society lecturing tour through parts of the United Kingdom."
He arrived in England when the public press, no less than the Theosophical ranks, was agog over the charges
and counter-charges incident to the Coues-Collins explosion. He found H.P.B. undaunted, undismayed, undisturbed. Although she lay upon that rack of physical as well as moral pain that was all too soon to destroy her body, never had the lion's heart and the lion's courage that inspired her been more true. She received him with that loyalty and forgetfulness of all but the good in him that had so many times before restored his concert pitch of faith and feeling. Accord was soon reached. He was received by all the English Theosophists with that consideration so dear to his nature. His fears that his importance to the work of the Society and the Movement would be ignored or minimized, evaporated for the time being, and this was facilitated by his discovery that H.P.B. was surrounded by eager and ardent students whose worldly standing and repute far more than compensated for any possible losses due to the defection of Dr. Coues and Miss Collins. To mention only two of the recent recruits, he met Mr. Herbert Burrows, the well-known Socialist in England, man of education and character so great as to command the respect even of those whose class interests were endangered by him, now devoted to Theosophy and to H.P.B. He met Mrs. Annie Besant, champion of the oppressed, fearless follower of her convictions, lead her where they might, now aflame with the glory of a fresh enthusiasm, already the right hand of H.P.B. Under such auspices as these, Col. Olcott departed on his lecturing tour and everywhere found new evidences of a rising tide. On his return to London in December he readily acceded to the expressed wish of the Council of the British Section and issued an "Order" naming H.P.B., with an advisory Committee of three, to exercise his "Presidential powers" in the United Kingdom. Still further to strengthen him against reactionary tendencies on his return to India, H.P.B. put into his hands before his departure a document appointing him her sole representative for the Esoteric Section in Asiatic countries.
During Col. Olcott's absence no Convention had been held at Adyar, but a Bombay Conference was arranged
which met at the usual time, adopted stirring resolutions of confidence in H.P.B., and voiced its condemnation of attacks made upon her and its disapproval of the dissentient frictions with the Society. Thus for a time - a brief time, as always - there was concord and some semblance of fraternity throughout the whole vast area of the Society.
But early in the summer of 1890 the Paris Branch once again became the focal point of disturbance which threatened the disruption of the Society. While H.P.B. was doing her utmost to reconcile the warring factions Col. Olcott again intervened and almost an identical situation to that in the fall of 1888 again arose. The various European Lodges, the English Branches, and the numerous "unattached" Fellows in Britain and on the Continent rose in arms and bombarded H.P.B. with letters, resolutions and petitions to clear the situation once and for all from any further "Executive Orders" from Adyar.
Thus confronted, H.P.B. once more acted with characteristic decision, frankness, and loyalty. A brief delineation can but outline in relief the sagacity and the kindness with which she performed the seemingly impossible task thrust upon her.
On July 2, 1890, the Council of the British Section held an extraordinary session with Mrs. Besant in the chair. Letters and resolutions from the various Lodges and unattached Fellows were read, and after full discussion "it was proposed by Dr. [Archibald] Keightley that a requisition, embodying the following views, be drawn up and addressed to the President of the Society":
"The Continental Lodges and unattached members having made an appeal to H.P.B. that they may place themselves directly under her authority, the British Section joins in their demand that the constitutional powers at present exercised by Colonel H.S. Olcott in Europe, shall be transferred to H.P.B. and her Advisory
Council, already appointed to exercise part of such function in the United Kingdom."
H.P.B. cabled Col. Olcott of the action taken by the Council, of her own proposed steps in consequence, and, for his own sake no less than that of the Society, urged him to issue such formal notice as would accept the status quo and preserve the appearance of harmony. The "Supplement" of The Theosophist for August, 1890, contains two eminently characteristic documents, both signed "H.S. Olcott, P.T.S." The first of these reads in part as follows:
"To secure a better management of the Society's affairs throughout Europe, than I can give from this distance, I do hereby depute to my co-Founder, H.P. Blavatsky, full authority to come to an agreement with the Branches of the United Kingdom, Greece, France, Austria, and Holland, and the non-official groups in Spain, Russia, and other Continental countries, for the consolidation of the whole into one Section, to be designated as the European Section of the Theosophical Society; and to take the general supervision over and have as full management of the same as I could myself."
This was dated "Adyar, 9th July, 1890," seven days after the meeting of the Council of the British Section, and the heading, "Headquarters Official Orders," has a delightfully Pickwickian tone in thus "ordering" what was already a fait accompli. This order was, of course, written when Col. Olcott had only brief telegraphic advices. So soon as the mails reached India with full details of the transactions of the Council of the British Section, including the resolution above given, the Colonel felt himself compelled to sustain the Presidential dignity by a second Pickwickian "Headquarters Official Order," dated July 29th, and reprinted in the "Supplement" immediately following the first. It runs:
"The ... resolution of the Council of the British Section of July 2, 1890, is hereby cancelled, as contrary to the constitution and bylaws of the Theosophical Society, a usurpation of the Presidential prerogative, and beyond the competence of any Section or other fragment of the Society to enact."
Lucifer for August, 1890, contains the notice sent out by H.P.B.:
"The Theosophical Society in Europe
"In consequence of the receipt of letters from all the active Lodges in Europe, and from a large majority of the Unattached Fellows of the Theosophical Society, H.P. Blavatsky is reluctantly compelled to abandon the position which she originally took up at the foundation of the Society.
"In obedience to the almost unanimous voice of the Fellows of the Theosophical Society in Europe, I, H.P. Blavatsky, the originator and co-founder of the Theosophical Society, accept the duty of exercising the Presidential authority for the whole of Europe; and in virtue of the authority I declare that the Headquarters of the Theosophical society in London, where I reside, will in future be the headquarters for the Transaction of all official business of the Theosophical Society in Europe.
- H.P. Blavatsky.
"Let no one imagine that this reform in any sense suggests a separation from, or even the loosening in any way of the authority of my colleague at Adyar. Colonel H.S. Olcott remains, as heretofore, the President-Founder of
the Theosophical Society the world over. But it has been found impossible for him at such a great distance to exercise accurate discrimination in current matters of guidance of the Theosophical Society. His functions including the official issue of Charters and Diplomas in Europe, errors in the selection of members to whom such Charters and Diplomas are issued (besides the minor evil of delay) have rendered it impossible that the system of government of the Theosophical Society in Europe should be continued as heretofore. In the issue of Lucifer for August, 1889, I made use of the following sentences:
"'H.P. Blavatsky will always bow before the decision of the majority of a Section or even a simple Branch.... No more.... has the President-Founder the right of exercising autocracy or papal powers, and Colonel Olcott would be the last man in the world to attempt to do so. It is the two Founders, and especially the President; who have virtually sworn allegiance to the Fellows, whom they have to protect... and not to tyrannize and rule over them.'
"Therefore, owing to the issue of a Charter in ignorance of the actual facts, and the immediate protest made by all the active members of the Lodges, and their unanimous desire that I should exercise the Presidential authority over the Theosophical Society in Europe, bowing to the decision of the majority I have issued the above official "Notice." To avoid even the appearance of autocracy I select as an advisory Council to assist me in the exercise of these functions, in addition to my three colleagues appointed by the President, viz.: Annie Besant, and Messrs. W. Kingsland and Herbert Burrows, Mr. A.P. Sinnett, President of the London Lodge who has cordially joined in this reform, Dr. H.A.W.
Coryn, President of the Brixton Lodge, Theosophical Society, Mr. E.T. Sturdy, and Mr. G.R.S. Mead.
- H.P. Blavatsky."
Thereafter peace and peaceful activities attended the work of the Theosophical Society in the West till after the death of H.P.B. The reader who may have been misled as to the facts attendant upon the events just recited, because of the sorry account in the pages of "Old Diary Leaves," Fourth Series, should remember that the Col. Olcott there writing was a broken old man, that he was telling his tale ten years after the events discussed and after the fatal follies of 1894-6, and felt under the overwhelming compulsion to put himself in the best light possible before posterity. His case is not unlike that of de Lesseps, the glory of whose achievement at Suez was, to so many minds, put in total eclipse by the folly, the fraud and the failure at Panama. Only those who, like H.P.B., know human nature and the Karma of the individual through and through - only such have the wisdom neither to ignore the good services, nor to be disturbed by the mistakes or frailties of their associates and helpers - only such have the right to throw the first stone at "poor old Olcott" - and they have none to throw!
Death of H.P.B. - Her Last MessagesH.P. Blavatsky died May 8, 1891, in the sixtieth year of her age. The generation which knew her personally is no more, but the fierce controversies which raged around her living still survive, and not a year passes but her name and nature become the target for renewed discussion. It is not overstating the fact to say that of no character in history is both so much and so little known. We say "known," but the fact is that today, as when she moved among men, she is as much as ever a confronting mystery.
During sixteen years she lived on three continents amid the most alien surroundings, in the light of the most watchful as well as the most hostile publicity. For those who called themselves her friends and followers were not less critical and observant of her every mood, her every word and action, than those who saw in her a charlatan, an emissary of immorality and irreligion. Not one who sought to gain access to her was ever denied the opportunity to question and cross-examine her. Her doors were open to friends and foes alike. Yet today as while she lived she remains an enigma, not because of the mystery with which she cloaked herself, but because she presents to the mind of the race an unsolved problem - an insoluble problem from any but one approach: that of the Wisdom-Religion which she inculcated and exemplified. She was herself the very testimony and witness of that which she taught, but none thought to solve the riddle of the Sphinx of the nineteenth century by an application to her of the philosophy she brought.
In closing the Introductory to the "Secret Doctrine" Madame Blavatsky writes that she has constantly to bear in mind that "every reader will inevitably judge the
statements made from the standpoint of his own knowledge, experience, and consciousness, based on what he has already learnt of life, its phenomena and significance. None that we know of have ever taken home the universal applications of this truism. Those who approached H.P.B. did so, each with his own preconceptions. Each was willing to admit the shortcomings of his own knowledge, experience, and consciousness; each was desirous of adding to his knowledge; each was "willing to learn" what he could from H.P.B., but when the opportunity and the test came, who studied himself in the light of H.P.B.'s knowledge, experience, and consciousness? Yet if she was, perchance, a Being of another order from mankind, some Buddha in disguise, how could she be truly availed of by any aspirant for Wisdom, unless by a reversal of our accustomed mode of inquiry? It is one thing to study the great doctrine, say, of Karma and Reincarnation, from the standpoint of our own present personal predilections and antipathies, and quite another thing to study our own present selves and natures in the light of these twin truths. Yet, if Karma and Reincarnation be, perchance, the very key to the riddle of existence with all its included contradictions, what other mode can possibly bring that enlightenment and illumination which all seek and which confessedly neither human religion nor human science, any more than our own knowledge, experience, and consciousness have been able to give us?
And again, in the Preface to the "Secret Doctrine" she says that "the publication of many of the facts herein stated has been rendered necessary by the wild and fanciful speculations in which many Theosophists and students of Mysticism have indulged, during the last few years, in their endeavour to, as they imagined, work out a complete system of thought from the few facts previously communicated to them." Although she specifically states that the "Secret Doctrine" is written for the instruction of students of Occultism, how many of those who call themselves "Occultists" have ever really studied her life or her writings, let alone derived any applications
from them? On the contrary, the multitude of books and other writings emanating from self-styled "initiates," "outer heads," and "teachers" who pose as "successors" and "revealers," do they not one and all merely betray themselves as those very "wild and fanciful speculations" of which H.P.B. wrote warningly? If her own students and professed followers and disciples have made such sorry use, and betray such sorry understanding, of the very genius, principles, and practices of the philosophy she taught, how could they or can they but grossly and grievously err in their understanding of H.P.B. herself - the living embodiment of what she taught?
And, finally, in closing the Preface, she used this ancient maxim of jurisprudence:
"De minimis non curat lex" - The Law takes no account of trifles. Her followers and disciples have taken account of little else! The Society engrossed them - not its Objects. Comparative religion and philosophy engrossed them - not the attempt to detect the vital principles which underlie them all. Phenomena engrossed them - not the effort to investigate the unexplained lanes of their occurrence. "Progress" engrossed them - not Brotherhood. "Doctrines" engrossed them - not the universal applications of Theosophy. Speculations engrossed them - not the serious study of what was given them for their guidance and instruction. If this is true as regards the Society she founded and the message she delivered, how could it be other than true in the case of the attitude of the students toward herself? Scarce one but put on record his experiences and opinions in relation to H.P.B. Trifles - trifles - what she ate and what she wore. How she looked and how she "behaved." How she stood and how she sat. What this one thought and what that one had to say of her: Speculations, fancies, inferences, world without end. All trifles, trifles, illuminant only of the narrow radius of the "knowledge, experience, and consciousness" of the beholders of this greatest phenomenon of the centuries.
Every lawyer knows that the best evidence of anything
is the thing itself; the best evidence in regard to anyone the acts and words of that one himself. Too many concern themselves with reputation - too few with character. Those who are ardent to learn the truth in regard to anyone or anything must soon come to distinguish between reputation and character. The one depends upon hearsay and opinion, upon the thousand forces influencing the testimony and inferences of the witnesses; the other depends upon nothing and no one but the subject himself. And particularly is this watchfulness necessary in the study of anyone who has made or sought to make his mark upon the times. The opportunism of immediate self-interest colors us all far more than any of us realize. History is for the most part a record of reversals of judgment. Who of those that shine with ever-increasing luster through the night of time ever enjoyed in his lifetime, or for generations after, that reputation which his character justified?
And the same state of facts applies in its integrity to what one might at first glance conceive to be the impersonal world of ideas. For, with newer weapons and changed alignments the war of ideas is still the same today as in all the past. Men still wrestle and war over opposing ideas as to God, as to Nature, as to Man. The problems of Good and Evil, of Justice and Injustice, of Life and Death, are as far off from solution, as apparently insoluble, as ever. If men cannot yet come to a stable conclusion in regard to the very fundamentals of existence and action, how fatuous he who looks for uniformity or unanimity in their applications. Neither human science, human religion, nor human philosophy offers, or ever has offered, any but fallible and tentative, but mutable and partial, explanations or applications concerning those things which are the universal experience of mankind. Yet each presumes today, as always, to sit in the judgment seat, and pronounce anathema or approval in the light of its own "knowledge, experience, and consciousness" on those very subjects on which each will abstractly admit its own utter incompetency! Could logical absurdity go farther?
H.P.B. showed the unbroken prevalence in time and space of a knowledge that includes all life and action, and demonstrated to a Q.E.D. that such knowledge and its Adept-custodians exist today as always; that They are the Source from which has sprung everything that the world has that is permanent in every field of human inquiry. What makes men incompetent to weigh that testimony, to proceed to its verification by actual experience of their own? Nothing in the world but human prejudice and conceit, human superstition and materialism, masquerading as religion and science.
Whatever the testimony and opinion of her critics, friendly or hostile, one thing stands out like a flame in the night with regard to the character of H.P. Blavatsky - she was consistent throughout in all that she said and did. Few there be of her critics who can endure the same test of sincerity and good faith. Her profession of faith, her declaration of principles, may be found in the Preface of "Isis Unveiled" in 1877. All the rest that issued from her life and pen in the prolific years that followed flowed with as mathematical consistency as the theorems of geometry issue from its fundamental axioms and apothegms.
There is never anything but two things to consider - the credibility and the competency of the witness. Search as they did with might and main to find some faintest thread whereon to hitch the imputation of base motives, and thus to destroy her credibility - not one of all the assassins of her reputation ever was able to produce aught that alight savor of self-interest in anything she ever said or did. Incredible follies are ascribed to her - follies so egregiously stupid as to fall of their own weight when attributed even to a child or a dolt; impossible immoralities are charged against her - impossible even physically, for her body was that of an androgyne, an hermaphrodite. Slanders and calumnies without number have been perpetrated against her, but every imputation against her motives - and we have assiduously examined the charges of her detractors by hundreds - rests upon no other basis than suspicion, accusa-
tion, repetition. In no solitary instance is one solitary fact adduced that would stand a moment's impartial examination. To the contrary, not one of the hundreds of original and repeated charges leveled against her but betrays the animus, the interested motives of the accusers - not of their victim.
If we turn to the question of her competency, two things become more convincingly sure the more her career is examined: (1) No single fact adduced by her has ever been upset by counter-evidence; (2) no postulation laid down by her has ever been rendered untenable philosophically, logically, or evidentially. Her testimony as to facts, her conclusions and theories in regard to the facts, remain as invincible as ever. No one of all her enemies and opponents ever evinced any appetite to assail her philosophy, none ever tried conclusions with her logic and boasted afterwards of his success; none ever showed in his own life the sincerity, the tolerance, the generosity of spirit, the ardor for Truth, lead where it might, that burned with a quenchless light throughout her whole career. One has but to compare the record of H.P. Blavatsky for sincerity and consistency with that of any of her detractors, any of her followers, or with his own as known to himself, to gain some glimmer of recognition that here in our own times in the personage known as H.P. Blavatsky is one who, in the luminous zone of the eternal great, shines with an undimmed light, needing no borrowed radiance; a Messenger from other Spheres indeed.
To the Theosophical student who has gained from her and from her mission some flying spark of grateful perception of the Immortal and the Immortals, nothing can call for deeper reflection or more profound consideration than what may best be called her dying declarations. The accretions of human experience, as concentrated in our jurisprudence, have led all men everywhere to attach a momentous significance to the last words, whether of saint or sinner. The equitable authority of a dying declaration is everywhere held to equal the sanction of the most solemn oath or other attestation.
April 15, 1891, three weeks before the cord broke, she signed her last Message to the American Theosophists in Convention assembled:
"Suffering in body as I am continually, the only consolation that remains to me is to hear of the progress of the Holy Cause to which my health and strength have been given; but to which, now that these are going, I can only offer my passionate devotion and never-weakening good wishes for its success and welfare.... Fellow Theosophists, I am proud of your noble work in the New World; Sisters and Brothers of America, I thank and I bless you for your unremitting labours for the common cause so dear to us all.
"Let me remind you all once more that such work is now more than ever needed. The period which we have now reached... is, and will continue to be, one of great conflict and continued strain. If the T.S. can hold through it, good; if not, while Theosophy will remain unscathed, the Society will perish - perchance most ingloriously - and the World will suffer. I fervently hope that I may not see such a disaster in my present body. The critical nature of the stage on which we have entered is as well known to the forces that fight against us as to those that fight on our side. No opportunity will be lost of sowing dissension, of taking advantage of mistaken and false moves, of instilling doubt, of augmenting difficulties, of breathing suspicions, so that by any and every means the unity of the Society may be broken and the ranks of our Fellows thinned and thrown into disarray. Never has it been more necessary for the members of the T.S. to lay to heart the old parable of the bundle of sticks than it is at the present time; divided, they will inevitably be broken, one by one; united, there is no force on earth able to destroy our Brotherhood. Now I have
marked with pain a tendency among you, as among the Theosophists in Europe and India, to quarrel over trifles, and to allow your very devotion to the cause of Theosophy to lead you into disunion. Believe me, that apart from such natural tendency, owing to the inherent imperfections of Human Nature, advantage is often taken by our ever-watchful enemies of your noblest qualities to betray and to mislead you. Sceptics will laugh at this statement, and even some of you may put small faith in the actual existence of the terrible forces of these mental, hence subjective and invisible, yet withal living and potent, influences around all of us. But there they are, and I know of more than one among you who have felt them, and have actually been forced to acknowledge these extraneous mental pressures. On those of you who are unselfishly and sincerely devoted to the Cause, they will produce little, if any, impression. On some others, those who place their personal pride higher than their duty to the T.S., higher even than their pledge to their divine SELF, the effect is generally disastrous. Self-watchfulness is never more necessary than when a personal wish to lead, and wounded vanity, dress themselves in the peacock's feathers of devotion and altruistic work; but at the present crisis of the Society a lack of self-control and watchfulness may become fatal in every case. But these diabolical attempts of our powerful enemies - the irreconcilable foes of the truths now being given out and practically asserted - may be frustrated. If every Fellow in the Society were content to be an impersonal force for good, careless of praise or blame so long as he subserved the purposes of the Brotherhood, the progress made would astonish the World and place the Ark of the T.S. out of danger....
"Your position as the fore-runners of the sixth sub-race of the fifth root-race has its own special perils as well as its special advantages. Psychism, with all its allurements and all its dangers, is necessarily developing among you, and you must beware lest the Psychic outruns the Manasic and Spiritual development. Psychic capacities held perfectly under control, checked and directed by the Manasic principle, are valuable aids in development. But these capacities running riot, controlling instead of controlled, using instead of being used, lead the Student into the most dangerous delusions and the certainty of moral destruction. Watch therefore carefully this development, inevitable in your race and evolution-period, so that it may finally work for good and not for evil; and receive, in advance, the sincere and potent blessings of Those whose good-will will never fail you, if you do not fail yourselves....
"And now I have said all. I am not sufficiently strong to write a more lengthy message, and there is the less need for me to do so as my friend and trusted messenger, Annie Besant, she who is my right arm here, will be able to explain to you my wishes more fully and better than I can write them. After all, every wish and thought I can utter are summed up in this one sentence, the never-dormant wish of my heart, 'Be Theosophists, work for Theosophy!' Theosophy first, and Theosophy last; for its practical realization alone can save the Western world from that selfish and unbrotherly feeling that now divides race from race; one nation from the other; and from that hatred of class and social considerations that are the curse and disgrace of so-called Christian peoples. Theosophy alone can keep it from sinking into that mere luxurious materialism in which it will decay and putrefy as civilizations have done. In
your hands, brothers, is placed in trust the welfare of the coming century; and great as is the trust, so great is also the responsibility. My own span of life may not be long, and if any of you have learned aught from my teachings or have gained by my help a glimpse of the True Light, I ask you, in return, to strengthen the Cause by the triumph of which that True Light, made still brighter and more glorious through your individual and collective efforts, will lighten the World, and thus to let me see, before I part with this worn-out body, the stability of the Society secured.
"May the blessings of the past and present great Teachers rest upon you. From myself accept collectively the assurance of my true, never wavering fraternal feelings, and the sincere, heartfelt thanks for the work done by all the workers.
"From their servant to the last,
- H.P. Blavatsky"
This moving valedictory to the American Theosophists was read to the Convention by Mrs. Besant, whom H.P.B. had sent to America for the purpose and to meet Mr. Judge.
Again, but ten days before her departure, H.P.B. affixed her signature and the date, as to a Testament, to the article "My Books," which was published in Lucifer for May 15, 1891, immediately following her death. It is the last article written by H.P.B. She says:
"Isis was full of misprints and misquotations; it contained useless repetitions, most irritating digressions, and to the casual reader unfamiliar with the various aspects of metaphysical ideas and symbols, as many apparent contradictions; much of the matter in it ought not to be there at all, and also it had some very gross mistakes due to the many alterations in proofreading in
general, and word corrections in particular. Finally, the work, for reasons that will now be explained, has no system in it....
"The full consciousness of this sad truth dawned upon me when, for the first time after its publication in 1877, I read the work through from the first to the last page, in India in 1881. And from that date to the present, I have never ceased to say what I thought of it, and to give my honest opinion of Isis whenever I had an opportunity for so doing. This was done to the great disgust of some, who warned me that I was spoiling its sale; but as my chief object in writing it was neither personal fame nor gain, but something far higher, I cared little for such warnings. For more than ten years this unfortunate 'masterpiece,' this 'monumental work,' as some reviews have called it, with its hideous metamorphoses of one word into another, thereby entirely transforming the meaning, with its misprints and wrong quotation marks, has given me more anxiety and trouble during a long lifetime which has ever been more full of thorns than of roses.
"But in spite of these perhaps too great admissions, I maintain that Isis Unveiled contains a mass of original and never hitherto divulged information on occult subjects.... Prepared to take upon myself - vicariously as I will show - the sins of all the external, purely literary defects of the work, I defend the ideas and teachings in it, with no fear of being charged with conceit, since neither ideas nor teachings are mine, as I have always declared; and I maintain that both are of the greatest value to mystics and students of Theosophy....
"The first enemies that my work brought to the front were Spiritualists, whose fundamental theories as to the spirits of the dead communicating in propria persona I upset. For the
last fifteen years - ever since this first publication - an incessant shower of ugly accusations have been poured upon me. Every libellous charge, from immorality and the 'Russian spy' theory down to my acting on false pretences, of being a chronic fraud and a living lie, an habitual drunkard, an emissary of the Pope, paid to break down Spiritualism, and Satan incarnate, every slander that can be thought of, has been brought to bear upon my private and public life. The fact that not a single one of these charges has ever been substantiated; that from the first day of January to the last of December, year after year, I have lived surrounded by friends and foes as in a glass-house, - nothing could stop these wicked, venomous, and thoroughly unscrupulous tongues. It has been said at various times by my ever-active opponents that (1) Isis Unveiled was simply a rehash of Eliphas Levi and a few old alchemists; (2) that it was written by me under the dictation of Evil Powers and the departed spirits of Jesuits (sic); and finally (3) that my two volumes had been compiled from MSS. (never before heard of), which Baron de Palm - he of the cremation and double-burial fame - had left behind him, and which I had found in his trunk! On the other hand, friends, as unwise as they were kind, spread abroad that which was really the truth, a little too enthusiastically, about the connection of my Eastern Teacher and other Occultists with the work, and this was seized upon by the enemy and exaggerated out of all limits of truth. It was said that the whole of Isis has been dictated to me from cover to cover and verbatim by these invisible Adepts. And, as the imperfections of my work were only too glaring, the consequence of all this idle and malicious talk was that my enemies and critics inferred - as well they might
that either these invisible inspirers had no existence, and were part of my 'fraud,' or that they lacked the cleverness of even an average good writer.
"Now, no one has any right to hold me responsible for what any one may say, but only for that which I myself state orally, or in public print over my signature. And what I say and maintain is this: Save the direct quotations and the many afore specified and mentioned misprints, errors and misquotations, and the general make-up of Isis Unveiled, for which I am in no way responsible, (a) every word of information found in this work or in my later writings, comes from the teachings of our Eastern Masters; and (b) that many a passage in these works has been written by me under their dictation. In saying this no supernatural claim is urged, for no miracle is performed by such a dictation. Any moderately intelligent person, convinced by this time of the many possibilities of hypnotism... and of the phenomena of thought-transference, will easily concede that if even a hypnotized subject, a mere irresponsible medium, hears the unexpressed thought of his hypnotizer, who can thus transfer his thought to him - even to repeating the words read by the hypnotizer mentally from a book - then my claim has nothing impossible in it. Space and distance do not exist for thought; and if two persons are in perfect mutual psycho-magnetic rapport, and of these two, one is a great Adept in Occult Sciences, then thought-transference and dictation of whole pages, becomes as easy and as comprehensible at the distance of ten thousand miles as the transference of two words across a room.
"Hitherto, I have abstained - except on very rare occasions - from answering any criticism on my works, and have even left direct lies and slanders unrefuted, because in the case of Isis
I found almost every kind of criticism justifiable, and in that of 'slanders and lies,'' my contempt for the slanderers was too great to permit me to notice them.... But, as Isis is now attacked for at least the tenth time, the day has come when my perplexed friends and that portion of the public which may be in sympathy with Theosophy are entitled to the whole truth - and nothing but the truth. Not that I seek to excuse myself in anything even before them or to 'explain things.' It is nothing of the kind. What I am determined to do is to give facts, undeniable and not to be gainsaid, simply by stating the peculiar, well-known to many but now almost forgotten, circumstances, under which I wrote my first English work. I give them seriatim.
"(1) When I came to America in 1873, I had not spoken English - which I had learned in my childhood colloquially - for over thirty years. I could understand when I read it, but could hardly speak the language.
"(2) I had never been at any college, and what I knew I had taught myself; I have never pretended to any scholarship in the sense of modern research; I had then hardly read any scientific European works, knew little of Western philosophy and sciences. The little which I had studied and learned of these, disgusted me with its materialism, its limitations, narrow cut-and-dried spirit of dogmatism, and its air of superiority over the philosophies and sciences of antiquity.
"(3) Until 1874 I had never written one word in English, nor had I published any work in any language. Therefore -
"(4) I had not the least idea of literary rules. The art of writing books, of preparing them for print and publication, reading and correcting proofs, were so many closed secrets to me.
"(5) When I started to write that which developed later into Isis Unveiled, I had no more
idea than the man in the moon what would come of it. I had no plan; did not know whether it would be an essay, a pamphlet, a book, or an article. I knew that I had to write it, that was all. I began the work before I knew Colonel Olcott well, and some months before the formation of the Theosophical Society.
"Thus, the conditions for becoming the author of an English theosophical and scientific work were hopeful, as everyone will see. Nevertheless, I had written enough to fill four such volumes as Isis, before I submitted my work to Colonel Olcott. Of course he said that everything save the pages dictated - had to be rewritten. Then we started on our literary labours and worked together every evening. Some pages, the English of which he had corrected, I copied; others which would yield to no mortal correction, he used to read aloud from my pages, Englishing them verbally as he went on, dictating to me from my almost undecipherable MSS. It is to him that I am indebted for the English in Isis. It is he again who suggested that the work should be divided into chapters, and the first volume devoted to SCIENCE and the second to THEOLOGY. To do this, the matter had to be reshifted, and many of the chapters also; repetitions had to be erased, and the literary connection of subjects attended to. When the work was ready, we submitted it to Professor Alexander Wilder, the well-known scholar and Platonist of New York, who after reading the matter, recommended it to Mr. Bouton for publication. Next to Col. Olcott, it is Professor Wilder who did the most for me. It is he who made the excellent Index, who corrected the Greek, Latin and Hebrew words, suggested quotations and wrote the greater part of the Introduction "Before the Veil." If this was not acknowledged in the work, the fault is not mine,
but because it was Dr. Wilder's express wish that his name should not appear except in footnotes. I have never made a secret of it, and every one of my numerous acquaintances in New York knew it. When ready the work went to press.
"From that moment the real difficulty began. I had no idea of correcting galley-proofs; Colonel Olcott had little leisure to do so; and the result was that I made a mess of it from the beginning. Before we were through with the first three chapters, there was a bill for six hundred dollars for corrections and alterations, and I had to give up the proofreading. Pressed by the publisher, Colonel Olcott doing all that he possibly could do, but having no time except in the evenings, and Dr. Wilder far away at Jersey City, the result was that the proofs and pages of Isis passed through a number of willing but not very careful hands, and were finally left to the tender mercies of the publisher's proofreader. Can one wonder after this if 'Vaivaswata' (Manu) became transformed in the published volumes into "Viswamitra," that thirty-six pages of the Index were irretrievably lost, and quotation-marks placed where none were needed (as in some of my own sentences!), and left out entirely in many a passage cited from various authors? If asked why these fatal mistakes have not been corrected in a subsequent edition, my answer is simple; the plates were stereotyped; and notwithstanding all my desire to do so, I could not put it into practice, as the plates were the property of the publisher; I had no money to pay for the expenses, and finally the firm was quite satisfied to let things be as they are, since, notwithstanding all its glaring defects, the work - which has now reached its seventh or eighth edition, is still in demand.
"And now - and perhaps in consequence of all
this - comes a new accusation: I am charged with wholesale plagiarism in the Introductory Chapter 'Before the Veil.'
"Well, had I committed plagiarism, I should not feel the slightest hesitation in admitting the 'borrowing.' But all 'parallel passages' to the contrary, as I have not done so, I do not see why I should confess it...
"[Isis]... is an inexhaustible mine of misquotations, errors and blunders, to which it is impossible for me to plead 'guilty' in the ordinary sense.... I have no author 's vanity; and years of unjust persecution and abuse have made me entirely callous to what the public may think of me - personally.
"But in view of the facts as given above; and considering that
"(a) The language in Isis is not mine; but (with the exception of that portion of the work which, as I claim, was dictated), may be called only a sort of translation of my facts and ideas into English;
"(b) It was not written for the public, - the latter having always been only a secondary consideration with me - but for the use of Theosophists and members of the Theosophical Society to which Isis is dedicated;
"(c) Though I have since learned sufficient English to have been enabled to edit two magazines... yet, to the present hour I never write an article, an editorial or even a simple paragraph, without submitting its English to close scrutiny and correction.
"Considering all this and much more, I ask now every impartial and honest man or woman whether it is just or even fair to criticize my works - Isis above all others - as one would the writings of a born American or English author. What I claim in them as my own is only the fruit of my learning and studies in a department,
hitherto left uninvestigated by Science, and almost unknown to the European world. I am perfectly willing to leave the honour of the English grammar in them, the glory of the quotations from scientific works brought occasionally to me to be used as passages for comparison with, or refutation by, the old Science, and finally the general make-up of the volumes, to every one of those who have helped me. Even for the Secret Doctrine there are about half-a-dozen Theosophists who have been busy in editing it, who have helped me to arrange the matter, correct the imperfect English, and prepare it for print. But that which none of them will ever claim from first to last, is the fundamental doctrine, the philosophical conclusions and teachings. Nothing of that have I invented, but simply given it out as I have been taught; or as quoted by me in the Secret Doctrine (Vol. I, p. 46) from Montaigne: 'I have here made only a nosegay of culled (Eastern) flowers, and have brought nothing of my own but the string that ties them.'
"Is any one of my helpers prepared to say that I have not paid the full price for the string?
- H.P. Blavatsky"
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XIX. THE CRISIS IN THE SOCIETY ......... 293
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The Theosophical Movement 1875-1925