Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

The Kiddle Mystery

by Henry S. Olcott

[Reprinted from Light (London), November 17, 1883, pp. 504]


To the Editor of "LIGHT."

SIR, -- If there is a man whom I like to call friend, and whom I have so regarded for years, it is "M. A. (Oxon.)" But still I must say what is to be said as though our friendship did not exist. In his "Notes" in your issue of 8th September, he permits himself certain expressions about the Mahatma, Koot Hoomi, sneers and innuendoes more natural to a Saturday writer, than to so practised a medium and Spiritualist as he. Surely my friend forgets himself and the record of the Spiritualistic movement, when he finds in the appearance of a few unquoted and unimportant sentences from Mr. Kiddle, in the Occult World, any warrant for such jealous nagging. Has he lost sight of the several instances of similar re-appropriation of ideas without credit in mediumistic literature, where the bona fides of the scribe were undoubted? Am I wrong in the recollection that the printing of Mr. Duguid’s "Hafed, Prince of Persia," an "inspirational" work written under test conditions, as alleged, had to be stopped, because a very extended plagiarism was discovered, and the publishers of the work affected sued for infringement of copyright? And that none were so surprised at the plagiarism as the witnesses to Mr. Duguid’s literary labour? How many such examples of this duplex -- even coincident writing -- might be discovered in literature perhaps the encyclopaedic bookworms of London may tell us. Outsiders ignorant of the very rudiments of spiritual phenomena and philosophy may be excused for seeking in craft and dishonesty the sole explanation of such facts; but we whose studies are of things noumenal have so many unexplained mysteries, that it seems in wretched taste to adopt the tone of the cheap jacks of the weekly Press, when a question of this sort is to be discussed. If "M. A. (Oxon.)" thinks it so very funny that a very small patch from Mr. Kiddle’s robe should have been stitched into the garment of Koot Hoomi’s thought, I can, since he believes my word, give him a much tougher nut to crack. In the last number of the Nineteenth Century, in the very thoughtful article "After Death," occurs a passage of about a dozen lines which is word for word identical with what was written by this same Koot Hoomi, two years ago, in a private letter to myself. Yet no third party has seen the letter, nor have I copied or printed the passage in question. Again, when the report of one of Mrs. Hardinge Britten’s American Lectures appeared in -- if I mistake not -- the Spiritual Scientist, Madame Blavatsky found in it a passage verbatim from the as yet unpublished "Isis Unveiled," which Mrs. Britten had not seen. And the M. S. was actually altered so as to avoid the appearance of plagiarism. I do not undertake to explain the Kiddle mystery at all, nor do I think it of much consequence. It is highly absurd to think that a mind capable of reducing to expression in a foreign tongue so lofty a scheme of evolution as that in "Esoteric Buddhism," would be driven to fish for ideas in Mr. Kiddle’s speeches, or the pages of any spiritualistic journal. When my friend of London has explained away the mystery of his own mediumship, it will be in order for him to throw stones into his neighbour’s garden. The Eastern philosophy teaches us that nature carries her economical system even into the sphere of ideas; and that not only is no atom of matter lost, but also not even a thought. As the ether is the matrix of visible nature and its phenomena, so, the Asiatic says ideas survive in the akasa (their word for our Western ether), and are carried from mind to mind throughout the ages. You will find in our folk-lore even common proverbs which embody this thought; and most assuredly it betokens unripeness of experience in psychology to raise the hue and cry at any seeming "plagiarism." "M. A. (Oxon.)" is a clergyman: suppose he sneers for a while at the identity of 2 Kings xx. and Isaiah xxxviii. in language and ideas. Was this also a case of plagiarism or of duplex inspiration? However, let all this pass as fit only for children, and scientists of a certain type who grin at their "soul" through the horse-collar of matter. The suggestion that Mr. Rhys-Davids, or any one else at the West, knows more about Buddhism than the most learned living Buddhist philosophers is to the last degree absurd, but still only one more manifestation of the vanity which has made a conspiracy of our savants to put down the Asiatic pandit and Vhikku as persons of no account, so to say. When one sees Professor Weber fancying he can crush out Indian antiquity by sitting upon its literary remains, like the pitying she-elephant upon the deserted brood of young partridges, and the Sanscrit chairs of Indian colleges filled, not by Native but by European professors, who have it not in their blood to comprehend the Esotericism of India -- what wonder that Buddhists should be called within the enchanted circle of Bow-Bells, to hear the truth about their ancestral philosophy! Even I, your humble correspondent who am a thousand leagues away from being an adept, claim to know something about Buddhism, in spirit and letter, as the high priest Hikkaduwe Samangala’s certificate to my "Buddhist Catechism" also proves. I am just to-day starting on a journey to Upper India and Kashmir, where I shall see Koot Hoomi, and one or more of his Tibetan chelas (pupils: -- and, by the way, many of the Koot Hoomi letters are written by them as his secretaries, he merely giving the general ideas, and they elaborating them, and even "precipitating" them in his proper handwriting. The example of the precipitation of the Fakir, by Madame Blavatsky, at New York, will illustrate this scientific-psychic phenomenon). I shall be tempted to ask him to have a glance at what "M. A. (Oxon.)" thinks so very amusing a "skit" at him. -- I am, Sir, &c.,


President, Theosophical Society.

Adyar, 27th September, 1883.