Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

A Tribute from the West

by C.A. Passingham.

[Reprinted from Lucifer (London),
August 15, 1891, pp. 457-458.]

Truly the character of H. P. B. was a many-sided one, and many of those sides have been ably depicted by the various friends and followers who have given us their impression of her; but none of them have represented her as she invariably appeared to me, namely, the very essence of loving affection. I am well aware that this is not the view that is commonly taken, but every one must speak of her as they found her, and my experience since my first sight of her at a meeting of the Society for Psychical Research, in Mr. Oscar Browning’s rooms at Cambridge in (I think) 1884, till my last interview with her about two years since, has been one of the most unvarying affection. She always received me with an embrace and words of endearment - never parted from me without kindly expressed wishes for my welfare. If she had been my own mother, she could not have been kinder. She may have had a rough side to her nature, but I always had the benefit of the very smoothest side, a side that I shall always remember her by, with the deepest gratitude and affection.

A little incident happened while she was at Maycot, which may be interesting. One night she was taken seriously ill; I was then staying in London with Mrs. Duncan, who has strong powers of magnetic healing. She went to see H. P. B. and afforded her some relief, but when she came back in the evening she said she thought her very ill, and as she had no female with her but her maid, I started off early the next morning, and arrived to find H. P. B. (who had been almost in a state of collapse the previous evening) sitting at her desk writing, as well as possible. I had come prepared to stay and nurse her, but finding I was not wanted for that purpose, I would not stay long to disturb her work. However she seemed unwilling I should go, so I stayed talking till twelve. Just behind her chair there hung on the wall a cuckoo clock which began to rattle before striking, as is the custom. I looked up. H. P. B. said, "Oh, it is only that crazy cuckoo". Then it struck up to five, when H. P. B. said impatiently, looking half round at it, "Oh, shut up", and it never uttered another sound. H. P. B. gave a short "H’m", as much as to say, "Your noise is stopped", and quietly went on talking. All seemed so natural and unimportant that I thought nothing of it till I arrived at Mrs. Duncan’s house, when at lunch some one said apropos of my having spent the morning with Madame Blavatsky: "And did you see no phenomena?" I said, "No, of course I did not", when all of a sudden the thought flashed across me "Why, yes, I did", and then I told them what had happened. Of course a sceptic, full of the theory of trickery on H. P. B.’s part, would say: "Oh, of course cuckoo clocks are always getting out of order; she knew it only struck five when it ought to strike twelve, and cunningly waited the proper time to say, ‘shut up’" - but I know better, and I do not even believe it was done with the object of showing me a specimen of her powers; she simply felt annoyed that the noise should interrupt the conversation, and so stopped it, just as we should command a noisy child to be quiet or leave the room.

Some years after I related this incident before H. P. B. at Lansdowne Road, and she nodded her head when I asked her if it was not true that she stopped the clock by occult means, and said, "Of course". I never placed the least importance in phenomena for their own sake, and I never asked H. P. B. for even the smallest evidence of her power. My personal remembrance of her will always be that of the kindest and most affectionate, as well as revered, friend.

C. A. Passingham,
President West of England Branch.