Published by The Blavatsky Archives. Online Edition copyright 1999.
Theosophic Thaumaturgy---A Startling Story
[The following two articles deal with one of Madame Blavatsky's occult phenomena
involving a glove psychically transported from Bombay to London.
The recipient of the glove in London was C.C. Massey.---Editor.]
[First published in The Bombay Gazette, March 31st, 1879, p.3.]
Strange stories have, for several years, been rife in the American newspapers about the marvels of thaumaturgy wrought by the Countess Blavatsky, one of the Theosophical party now in Bombay. If they are credible, the inference would be that a Simon Magus in petticoats had arisen in our days. Some of them stagger belief, as for instance, her causing music to float through the air in the absence of any comprehensible cause, the instantaneous duplication of documents and articles of clothing, the causing of inscriptions in golden letters, in Oriental texts, to appear and disappear on the furniture, the rendering of herself invisible, the production of paintings and writings on paper by the mere placing of her palm upon the same. Yet all these phenomena and many equally strange have been attested by numbers of eye-witnesses, not theosophists nor even always previous acquaintances. Of one of her magical pictures--the portrait of an Indian yogi,---Thomas LeClear, an eminent American painter, and William R. O'Donovan, an equally distinguished sculptor, affirmed in a London journal, that no living artist could, in their opinion, equal it in vigour, breadth, and uniqueness, while they were both unable to decide upon the nature of the colouring substance employed in the manner of its application.
Since her arrival here, the lady has been very chary of exhibiting her rare powers, but two instances have come to our hearing. These two are, however, strong enough to excite astonishment. The first was the instantaneous substitution of one name, in thread embroidery, on a fine handkerchief, for another one that was previously there. The feat was done under the very eyes of an Assistant Magistrate and the Collector of the N. W. P. who had been a fellow-passenger with the Theosophical party on the voyage hither. In fact, he held one corner of the handkerchief while the change was made, and there was a roomful of native gentlemen as on-lookers, besides. The second fact was even more miraculous. Before leaving London she was requested by an English barrister, President of the British Theosophical Society and the son of a Liberal M.P., whose name is well known throughout India, to give relief to his father's eyesight, now seriously injured. She said that upon reaching India she would try, but it being necessary to establish an electrical and. magnetic current between herself and the patient, she must have some article of wearing apparel or other object that had. been in close and frequent contact with his person. A pair of gloves was given her, which were put into an envelope and brought intact to India. On the 17th inst., the day after her arrival, they were taken by her from her box and in the presence of Col. Olcott, to whom she declared her intention to send one of them to the London friend. She laid the two gloves on the table in the drawing room and locked the door. This was the last that Col. Olcott saw the gloves, as he informs us. But by the last Overland Mail came the sequel. A letter from the barrister, dated London 18th February, says, that on getting to his chambers in the Temple the day beforethe 17thhe found a telegram from a certain lady of good education and the highest respectability, who is what is termed a powerful "medium", but above suspicion of trickery, to be at her house at 6 p.m., as her familiar "spirit" has a message for him from Madame Blavatsky. He was punctual to the appointment, and was received by the lady and her husband, who presently ushered him into a darkened room. What happened we will let the barrister himself describe. "Truth to say," he remarks, "I did not expect much, but prompt to the appointment the 'spirit' came, loading the air with sweet perfume, and commencing the interview (which did not last live minutes) by flinging something light and soft in my facea good shot in the dark. From this proceeded the perfume aforesaid. Directly I handled it I knew what was up, without being told. The glove! the glove! from you, from Bombay, when the papers had already informed us your ship arrived on Sunday, two days ago. What can I saywhat think? The well-known signature on the inside of the kid, in the well-known blue writing and the less known and less decipherable symbols above it." The witnesses in this case are unimpeachable, and we really do not know what is to be said of this new trans-atmospheric mail service. The remaining glove or what purports to be such, has been kindly given to a gentleman in Bombay to dispose of as he may elect, and will be sent to London for comparison with its mate, whose flight through space makes the boast of Puck, in that he would "put a girdle round the earth within twenty minutes," seem something more than poetic license.
( First published in The Bombay Gazette, May 31st, 1879, p. 2.)
Our readers will no doubt recollect the article on "Theosophic Thaumaturgy", which appeared in the Bombay Gazette of March 31st. To-day we have the sequel in the form of a letter from the English barrister who received the glove. The moderation of his tone in speaking of the value of the affair as proof of an occult force in nature is highly commendable. Whatever we may or may not think respecting "magic," it is at least a comfort to know that the witnesses in this case are so trustworthy. We regret that pain should have been given by the publication of the article in question, especially as we are entirely persuaded that its author was quite ignorant that he was committing any indiscretion in furnishing us the facts.
To The Editor of the "Bombay Gazette".
Sir, Having read an account published in your paper of the 31st of March last, relating to the instantaneous transmission of a glove from Bombay to London by H. P. Blavatsky, and received by me through the mediumship of a lady in the latter city, I beg to state that the circumstances, so far as I can avouch them, are correctly set forth in that account. I wish to add, however, that my father, who is alluded to, was not a party to the experiment, having no faith in the powers which I desired to call into requisition for his sight (which is not seriously "impaired.")
It is obvious that the whole force of the evidence depends on the improbability, however any one may estimate that, of previous collusion between Madame Blavatsky and the other lady, for the purpose of a stupid and shameful imposture. That being assumed, there was, of course, nothing to prevent the gloves being matched in London before the departure of Madame Blavatsky, the new pair being worn till they resembled the original in appearance of use, and one of the latter, with the inscribed characters, being left with the medium in London, with a prearrangement as to the time and manner of its production to me. The telegraphic announcement of the arrival of the ship at Bombay would of course make this part of the imagined scheme perfectly easy.
Having said this much, out of a professional regard to the value of evidence, I desire to state most emphatically that my intimate acquaintance with both these ladies, and previous experiences of Madame Blavatsky's extraordinary powers, enable me to reject these suggested suppositions without hesitation. But in as much as the general public have not this knowledge and experience of the parties, I consider the publication of these facts to have been ill-advised, as I have already explained in English papers which have commented upon them in the strain which might have been expected. I enclose my name and address for your own satisfaction, and beg to remain, Sir, your obedient servant,
The Recipient of the Glove in London. (1)
Temple, London, May 6.
(1) The "Recipient" was Charles Carleton Massey. See H.P. Blavatsky's Collected Writings, Volume I, pp. 497-9 for biographical information on Massey. --- BAO Editor.