Cornell University Library

The original of this book is in the Cornell University Library.

There are no known copyright restrictions in the United States on the use of the text.   






It is strange — but true ; for truth is always strange ; Stranger than fiction."  






Copyright, 1895 BY G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS Entered at Stationers' Hall. London  



IN the history of public bodies, the chapter which relates the origin and vicissitudes of the Theosophysical Society should be unique. Whether viewed from the friendly or the unfriendly standpoint, it is equally strange that such a body should have come into existence when it did, and that it has not only been able to withstand the shocks it has had, but actually to have grown stronger proportionately with the bitter unfairness of its adversaries. One class of critics say that this fact strikingly proves a recrudescence of human credulity, and a religious unrest which is preliminary to a final subsidence upon Western conservative lines. The other see in the progress of the movement the sign of a world-wide acceptance of Eastern philosophical ideas, which must work for the reinvigoration and incalculable broadening of the spiritual sympathies of mankind. The patent, the undeniable fact is, that up to the close of the year 1894, as the result of but nineteen years of activity, charters had been granted for 394 branches of the Society, in almost all parts of the habitable globe ; and that those issued in that latest year outnumbered the yearly average since the foundation, in 1875, by 29.9 per cent. Statistically viewed, the relentless and unfair attack which the Society for Psychical Research and the Scottish Missionaries delivered against it in 1884, and which it was hoped would destroy it, merely resulted in very largely augmenting its prosperity and usefulness. The latest assault — that through the Westminster Gazette — must inevitably have the same ending. The simple reason is that, however thoroughly the private faults and shortcomings of its individual leaders may be exposed, the excellence of the Society's ideas is not impugned in the least. To kill the Theosophical Society, it is first necessary to prove its declared objects hostile to the public welfare, the teachings of its spokesmen pernicious and demoralizing. It being impossible to do either the one or the other, the world takes the Society as a great fact, a distinct individuality, which is neither to be condemned nor applauded because of the merit or demerit of its representative personalities. This truth begins to force itself upon outsiders. One of the ablest among contemporary journalists, Mr. W. T. Stead, said in Borderland  in the course of a digest of these " Old Diary Leaves " as they originally appeared in the Theosophist, that nobody now cares whether the Coulomb and S. P. R. charges of trickery against Madame Blavatsky were true or false ; her worst enemies being unable to deny her the credit of having affected modern philosophical thought to an extraordinary degree by popularizing certain noble Eastern ideas. The same holds with respect to her many colleagues, who, like her self, have spread these ancient teachings through the medium of the Theosophical Society. This wonderful organization, which grew out of a commonplace parlor gathering in a New York house, in the year 1875, has already made for itself such a record that it must be included in any veracious history of our times. Its development having gone on by virtue of an inherent force, rather than as the result of astute foresight and management ; and having been so closely — for some years almost exclusively, connected with the personal efforts of its two founders, Madame Blavatsky and myself, it will perhaps help the future historian if the survivor sets down truthfully and succinctly the necessary facts. The series of chapters which now compose this book was begun nearly three years ago in the Theosophist magazine, and a second series, devoted to the history of the Society after the transfer to India, is now in progress. The controlling impulse to prepare these papers was a desire to combat a growing tendency within the Society to deify Mme. Blavatsky, and to give her commonest literary productions a quasi-inspirational character. Her transparent faults were being blindly ignored, and the pinchbeck screen of pretended authority drawn between her actions and legitimate criticism. Those who had least of her actual confidence, and hence knew least of her private character, were the greatest offenders in this direction. It was but too evident that unless I spoke out what I alone knew, the true history of our movement could never be written, nor the actual merit of my wonderful colleague become known. In these pages I have, therefore, told the truth about her and about the beginning of our Society, truth which nobody can gainsay. Placing as little value upon the praise as upon the blame of third parties, and having all my life been accustomed to act according to what I have regarded as duty, I have not shrunk from facing the witless pleasantries of those who regard me as a dupe, a liar, or a traitor. The absolute unimportance of others' opinions as a factor in promoting individual development is so plain to my mind, that I have pursued my present task to its completion, despite the fact that some of my most influential collegues have, from what I consider mistaken loyalty to "H. P. B.," secretly tried to destroy my influence, ruin my reputation, reduce the circulation of my magazine, and prevent the publication of my book. Confidential warnings have been circulated against me, and the current numbers of the Theosophist have been removed from Branch reading-room tables. This is child's play: the truth never yet harmed a good cause, nor has moral cowardise ever helped a bad one.

Mrs. Oliphant in her Literary History of England, (iii., 263,) says of Benthan just what may be said of H. P. B.: "It is evident that he had an instinct like that of the Ancient Mariner, for the men who were born to hear and understand him, and great readiness in adopting into his affections every new notability whom he approved of, he received an amount of service and devotion, which few of the greatest of mankind have gained from their fellow-creatures."    

      Where was there a human being of such a mixture as this mysterious , this fascinating, this light-bringing H. P. B. ? Where can we find a personality so remarkable and so dramatic ; one which so clearly presented at its opposite sides the divine and the human ? Karma forbid that I should do her a feather-weight of injustice, but if there ever existed a person in history who was a greater conglomeration of good and bad, light and shadow, wisdom and indiscretion, spiritual insight and lack of common sense, I cannot recall the name, the circumstances or the epoch. To have known her was a liberal education, to have worked with her and enjoyed her intimacy, an experience of the most precious kind. She was too great an occultist for us to measure her moral stature. She compelled us to love her, however much we might know her faults ; to forgive her, however much she might have broken her promises and destroyed our first belief in her infallibility. And the secret of this potent spell was her undeniable spiritual powers, her evident devotion to the Masters whom she depicted as almost super natural personages, and her zeal for the spiritual uplifting of humanity by the power of the Eastern Wisdom. Shall we ever see her like again ? Shall we see herself again within our time under some other guise ? Time will show. H. S. Olcott.

" GULISTAN." Ootacamund, 1895.  



Foreword ........ iii
I. First Meeting of the Founders  
II. Madame Blavatsky in America 27
III. Philadelphia Phenomena 40
IV. Madame Blavatsky's Second Marriage 52
V. Spiritualism . . . . 66
VI. Oriental Disapprobation . 82
VII. Dr. Slade ... . . l01
VIII. Theosophical Society Proposed . 113
IX. Formation of the Theosophical Society ... ... 126
X. Baron de Palm 147
XI. The First Cremation in America . 166
XII. Putative Author of "Art Magic" 185
XIII. " Isis Unveiled " . . 202
XIV. Different Hypotheses . . 220
XV. Apparent Possession by Foreign Entities 236
X Contents
XVI. Definition of Terms . . . 255
XVII. Re-incarnation 277
XVIII. Early Days of the Society . 298
XIX. Conflicting Views . . . 304
XX. Conflicting Views {Continued}) . . 319
XXI. New York Headquarters . . . 330
XXII. Various Phenomena Described . 343
XXIII. Precipitations of Pictures . . 358
XXIV. Projection of the Double . . 374
XXV. Swami Dyanand 394
XXVI. Madame Blavatsky at Home . . 408
XXVII. Illusions 429
XXVIII. Character Sketch of Madame Blavatsky . .... 449
XXIX. Madame Blavatsky Becomes an American Citizen. Formation of the British Theosophical Society. Last Days in New York. The Founders Sail for India . . 464
Index 485
ILLUSTRATIONS O'Donovan's Bronze Medallion of Madame Blavatsky Frontispiece Facsimile of the Cover of A Letter Phenomenally Delivered 7
A Flower-Born Gold Ring .... 96
Original of the Pretended Portrait of " Chevalier Louis " . . . . 198
Copy Phenomenally Produced by Madame Blavatsky . . .... 198
Two Locks of Hair Cut by Author from H. P. B.'s Head on the Same Evening . 268
A Corner of a Crepe Handkerchief . . 340
Hybrid Sugar-Tongs Phenomenally Produced 346
Original Letter from M. A. Oxon . . 352
Duplicate Phenomenally Produced . . 352
The Picture on Satin Representing the Partial Evolution of the Double . . . 364
Portrait of M. A. Oxon, which the Satin Picture Resembles 364
Phenomenally Produced Portrait of an Indian Yogi . . .... 368
A Corner of a Mahatma's Turban . . . 434
A Wall-Picture IN Dried Leaves ., . . 456
Caricatures on Playing Cards .... 472


. SINCE I am to tell the story of the birth and progress of the Theosophical Society, I must begin at the beginning, and tell how its two founders first met. It was a very prosaic incident : I said " Permettez moi, Madame," and gave her a light for her cigarette ; our acquaintance began in smoke, but it stirred up a great and permanent fire. The circumstances which brought us together were peculiar, as I shall presently explain. The facts have been partly published before.

One day, in the month of July, 1874, I was sitting in my law-office thinking over a heavy case in which I had been retained by the Corporation of the City of New York, when it occurred to me that for years I had paid no attention to the Spiritualist movement. I do not know what association of ideas made my mind pass from the mechanical construction of water-meters to Modern Spiritualism, but, at all events, I went around the corner to a dealer's and bought a copy of the Banner of Light. In it I read an account of certain incredible phenomena, viz., the solidification of phantom forms, which were said to be occurring at a farm-house in the township of Chittenden, in the State of Vermont, several hundred miles distant from New York. I saw at once that, if it were true that visitors could see, even touch and converse with, deceased relatives who had found means to reconstruct their bodies and clothing so as to be temporarily solid, visible, and tangible, this was the most important fact in modern physical science. I determined to go and see for myself. I did so, found the story true, stopped three or four days, and then returned to New York. I wrote an account of my observations to the New York Sun, which was copied pretty much through out the whole world, so grave and interesting were the facts. A proposal was then made to me by the Editor of the New York Daily Graphic to return to Chittenden in its interest, accompanied by an artist to sketch under my orders, and to make a thorough investigation of the affair. The matter so deeply interested me that I made the necessary disposition of office engagements, and on September 17th was back at the "Eddy Home stead," as it was called from the name of the family who owned and occupied it. I stopped in that house of mystery, surrounded by phantoms and having daily experiences of a most extraordinary character, for about twelve weeks — if my memory serves me. Meanwhile, twice a week there appeared in the Daily Graphic my letters about the "Eddy ghosts," each one illustrated with sketches of spectres actually seen by the artist, Mr. Kappes, and myself, as well as by every one of the persons — sometimes as many as forty — present in the "seance-room." * It was the publication of these letters which drew Madame Blavatsky to Chittenden, and so brought us together.

 * In People from the Other World I have described all these phenomena and the tests against fraud which I invented and employed.

I remember our first day's acquaintance as if it were yesterday ; besides which, I have recorded the main facts in my book (People from the Other World, pp. 293 et seq). It was a sunny day and even the gloomy old farm-house looked cheerful. It stands amid a lovely landscape, in a valley bounded by grassy slopes that rise into mountains covered to their very crests with leafy groves. This was the time of the "Indian Summer," when the whole country is covered with a faint bluish haze, like that which has given the "Nilgiri" mountains their name, and the foliage of the beeches, elms, and maples, touched by early frosts, has been turned from green into a mottling of gold and crimson that gives the landscape the appearance of being hung all over with royal tapestries. One must go to America to see this autumnal splendour in its full perfection. The dinner hour at Eddy's was noon, and it was from the entrance door of the bare and comfortless dining room that Kappes and I first saw H. P. B. She had arrived shortly before noon with a French Canadian lady, and they were at table as we entered. My eye was" first attracted by a scarlet Garibaldian shirt the former wore, as in vivid contrast with the dull colours around. Her hair was then a thick blond mop, worn shorter than the shoulders, and it stood out from her head, silken-soft and crinkled to the roots, like the fleece of a Cotswold ewe. This and the red shirt were what struck my attention before I took in the picture of her features. It was a massive Calmuck face, contrasting in its suggestion of power, culture, and imperiousness, as strangely with the commonplace visages about the room as her red garment did with the grey and white tones of the walls and woodwork and the dull costumes of the rest of the guests. All sorts of cranky people were continually coming and going at Eddy's to see the mediumistic phenomena, and it only struck me on seeing this eccentric lady that this was but one more of the sort. Pausing on the door-sill, I whispered to Kappes, "Good gracious! look at that specimen, will you." I went straight across and took a seat opposite her to indulge my favourite habit of character-study. * The two ladies con * In a chain-shot hit at an American vituperator, she draws the following amusing portrait of herself: "An old woman — whether forty, fifty, sixty, or ninety years old, it matters not ; an old woman whose Kalmuco-Buddhisto-Tartaric features, even in youth, never made her appear pretty ; a woman, whose ungainly garb, uncouth versed in French, making remarks of no consequence, but I saw at once from her accent and fluency of speech that, if not a Parisian, she must at least be a finished French scholar. Dinner over, the two went outside the house and Madame Blavatsky rolled herself a cigarette, for which I gave her a light as a pretext to enter into conversation. My remark having been made in French, we fell at once into talk in that language. She asked me how long I had been there and what I thought of the phenomena ; saying that she herself was greatly interested in such things, and had been drawn to Chittenden by reading the letters in the Daily Graphic : the public were growing so interested in these that it was sometimes impossible to find a copy of the paper on the book-stalls an hour after publication, and she had paid a dollar for a copy of the last issue. "I hesitated before coming here," she said, "because I was afraid of meeting that Colonel Olcott." "Why should you be afraid of him, Madame ?" I rejoined. "Oh ! because I fear he might write about me in his paper." I told her that she might make herself perfectly easy on that score, for I felt quite sure Col. Olcott would not mention her in his letters unless she wished it. And I introduced myself. We be came friends at once. Each of us felt as if we were of the same social world, cosmopolitans, free-thinkers, and in closer touch than with the rest of the company, intelligent manners, and masculine habits are enough to frighten any bustled and corseted fine lady of fashionable society out of her wits." [ Vue her letter "The Knout" to the J?. P. Journal of March i6, 1878.] intelligent and very worthy as some of them were. It was the voice of common sympathy with the higher occult side of man and nature ; the attraction of soul to soul, not that of sex to sex. Neither then, at the commencement, nor ever afterwards had either of us the sense of the other being of the opposite sex. We were simply chums; so regarded each other, so called each other. Some base people from time to time, dared to suggest that a closer tie bound us together, as they had that that poor, malformed, persecuted H. P. B. had been the mistress of various other men, but no pure person could hold to such an opinion after passing any time in her company, and seeing how her every look, word, and action proclaimed her sexlessness.* Strolling along with my new acquaintance, we talked together about the Eddy phenomena and those of other lands. I found she had been a great traveller and seen many occult things and adepts in occult science, but at first she did not give me any hint as to the existence of the Himalayan Sages or of her own powers. She spoke of the materialistic tendency of American Spiritualism, which was a sort of debauch of phenomena accompanied by comparative indifference to philosophy. Her manner was gracious and captivating, her criticisms upon men and things original and witty. She was particularly interested in drawing me out as to my own ideas about spiritual things and expressed pleasure in finding that I had instinctively thought along the occult lines which she herself had pursued. It was not as an Eastern mystic, but rather as a refined Spiritualist that she talked. For my part I knew nothing then, or next to nothing, about Eastern philosophy, and at first she kept silent on that subject.

* I hold to this same view despite the pretended confessions of early misconduct, contained in certain letters of hers to a Russian gentleman and recently published in a work entitled A Modern Priestess of his. In short, I believe my estimate of her sexual purity to be true and her pretended revelations false— mere bravado. The stances of William Eddy, the chief medium of the family, were held every evening in a large upstairs hall, in a wing of the house, over the dining room and kitchen. He and a brother, Horatio, were hard-working farmers ; Horatio attending to the outdoor duties, and William, since visitors came pouring in upon them from all parts of the United States, doing the cooking for the household. They were poor, ill-educated, and prejudiced — sometimes surly to their unbidden guests. At the farther end of the seance-hall the deep chimney from the kitchen below passed through to the roof. Between it and the north wall was a narrow closet of the same width as the depth of the chimney, 2 feet 7 inches, in which William Eddy would seat himself to wait for the phenomena. He had no seeming control over them, but merely sat and waited for them to sporadically occur. A blanket being hung across the doorway, the closet would be in perfect darkness. Shortly after William had entered the cabinet, the blanket would be pulled aside and forth would step some figure of a dead man, woman or child — an animate statue so to say — temporarily solid and substantial, but the next minute resolved back into nothingness or invisibility. They would occasionally dissolve away while in full view of the spectators.

Up to the time of H. P. B.'s appearance on the scene, the figures which had shown themselves were either Red Indians, or Americans or Europeans akin to visitors. But on the first evening of her stay spooks of other nationalities came before us. There was a Georgian servant boy from the Caucasus ; a Mulsulman merchant from Tiflis ; a Russian peasant girl, and others. Another evening there appeared a Kourdish cavalier armed with scimitar, pistols, and lance ; a hideously ugly and devilish-looking negro sorcerer from Africa, wearing a coronet composed of four horns of theoryx with bells at their tips, attached to an embroidered, highly coloured fillet which was tied around his head ; and a European gentleman wearing the cross and collar of St. Anne, who was recognized by Madame Blavatsky as her uncle. The advent of such figures in the stance room of those poor, almost illiterate Vermont farmers, who had neither the money to buy theatrical proper ties, the experience to employ such if they had had them, nor the room where they could have availed of them, was to every eye-witness a convincing proof that the apparitions were genuine. At the same time they show that a strange attraction to call out these images from what Asiatic call the Kama-loka attended Madame Blavatsky. It was long afterwards that I was informed that she had evoked them by her own developed and masterful power. She even affirms the fact in a written note, in our T. S. Scrap-book, Vol. I., appended to a cutting from the (London) Spiritualist of January, 1875.

While she was at Chittenden she told me many incidents of her past life, among others, her having been present as a volunteer, with a number of other European ladies, with Garibaldi at the bloody battle of Mentana. In proof of her story she showed me where her left arm had been broken in two places by a saber stroke, and made me feel in her right shoulder a musket bullet, still imbedded in the muscle, and another in her leg. She also showed me a scar just below the heart where she had been stabbed with a stiletto. This wound reopened a little while she was at Chittenden, and it was to consult me about it that she was led to show it to me. She told me many curious tales of peril and adventure, among them the story of the phantom African sorcerer with the oryx-horn coronet, whom she had seen in life doing phenomena in Upper Egypt, many years before.

H. P. B. tried her best to make me suspect the value of William Eddy's phenomena as proofs of the intelligent control of a medium by spirits ; telling me that, if genuine, they must be the double of the medium escaping from his body and clothing itself with other appearances ; but I did not believe her. I contended that the forms were of too great diversities of height, bulk, and appearance to be a masquerade of William Eddy ; they must be what they seemed, inz., the spirits of the dead. Our disputes were quite warm on occasions, for at that time I had not gone deep enough into the question of the plastic nature of the human double to see the force of her hints, while of the Eastern theory of Maya I did not know its least iota. The result, however, was, as she told me, to convince her of my disposition to accept nothing on trust and to cling pertinaciously to such facts as I had, or thought I had acquired. We became greater friends day by day, and by the time she was ready lo leave Chittenden she had accepted from me the nick-name "Jack," and so signed herself in her letters to me from New York. When we parted it was as good friends likely to continue the acquaintance thus pleasantly begun.

In November, 1874, when my researches were finished, I returned lo New York and called upon her at her lodgings at 16 Irving Place, where she gave me some sceances of table-tapping and rapping, spelling out messages of sorts, principally from an invisible intelligence calling itself " John King." This pseudonym is one that has been familiar to frequenters of niediumistic stances these forty years past, all over the world. It was first heard of in 1850, in the "spirit room" of Jonathan Koons, of Ohio, where it pretended to be a ruler of a tribe or tribes of spirits. Later on, it said it was the earth-haunting soul of Sir Henry Morgan, the famous buccaneer, and as such it introduced itself to me. It showed its face and turban-wrapped head to me at Philadelphia, during the course of my investigations of the Holmes mediums, in association with the late respected Robert Dale Owen, General F. J. Lippitt and Madame Blavatsky (vide People from the Other World, Part II.), and both spoke and wrote to me, the latter frequently. It had a quaint handwriting, and used queer old English expressions. I thought it a veritable John King then, for its personality had been as convincingly proved to me, I fancied, as anybody could have asked. But now, after seeing what H. P. B. could do in the way of producing mayavic (i. e., hypnotic) illusions and in the control of elementals, I am persuaded that " John King " was a humbugging elemental, worked by her like a marionette and used as a help towards my education. Understand me, the phenomena were real, but they were done by no disincarnate human spirit. Since writing the above, in fact, I have found the proof, in her own handwriting, pasted in our Scrap book, Vol. I.

She kept up the illusion for months — just how many I cannot recollect at this distance of time — and I saw numbers of phenomena done as alleged by John King — as, for example, the whole remarkable series at the Philadelphia residence of the Holmeses and that of H. P. B. herself, above re ferred to. He was first, John King, an independent personality, then John King, messenger and servant — never the equal — of living adepts, and finally an elemental pure and simple, employed by H. P. B. and a certain other expert in the doing of wonders.

It is useless to deny that, throughout the early part of her American residence, she called herself a spiritualist and warmly defended Spiritualism and its mediums from their sciolistic and other bitter traducers. Her letters and articles in various American and English journals contain many evidences of her occupying that position. Among other examples, I will simply quote the following :

" As it is, I have only done my duty ; first, towards Spiritualism, that I have defended as well as I could from the attacks of imposture under the too transparent mask of science ; then towards two helpless, slandered mediums. . . . But I am obliged to confess that I really do not believe in having done any good — to Spiritualism itself. . . . It is with a profound sadness in my heart that I acknowledge this fact, for I begin to think there is no help for it. For over fifteen years have I fought my battle for the blessed truth ; have travelled and preached it — though I never was born for a lecturer — from the snow-covered tops of the Caucasian Moun tains, as well as from the sandy valleys of the Nile. I have proved the truth of it practically and by persuasion. For the sake of Spiritualism I have left my home, an easy life amongst a civilised society, and have become a wanderer upon the face of the earth. I had already seen my hopes realised, beyond my most sanguine expectations, when my unlucky star brought me to America. Knowing this country to be the cradle of Modern Spiritualism, I came over here from France with feelings not unlike those of a Mohammedan approaching the birthplace of his Prophet," etc., etc. (Letter of H. P. B. to the Spiritualist of December 13, 1874.)  

The two " helpless mediums " alluded to were the Holmeses, of whose moral quality I have always had the poorest opinion. Yet, in H. P. B.'s presence I witnessed, under my own test conditions, along with the late Robert Dale Owen and General Lippitt, a series of most con vincing and satisfactory mediumistic phenomena. I half suspected then that the power that produced them came from H. P. B., and that if the Holmeees alone had been concerned, I should either have seen tricks or nothing. Now, in hunting over the old scrap-books, I find in H. P. B.'s MSS. the following memorandum, which she evidently meant to be published after her death :  


" Yes, I am sorry to say that I had to identify myself, during that shameful exposure of the Holmes mediums, with the Spiritualists. I had to save the situation, for I was sent from Paris to America on purpose to prove the phenomena and their reality, and show the fallacy of the spiritualistic theory of spirits. But how could I do it best? I did not want people at large to know that I could produce the same things at will. I had received orders to the contrary, and yet I had to keep alive the reality, the genuineness and possibility of such phenomena, in the hearts of those who from Materialists had turned Spiritualists, but now, owing to the exposure of several mediums, fell back again, returned to their scepticism. This is why, selecting a few of the faithful, I went to the Holmeses, and, helped by M. and his power, brought out the faces of John King and Katie King from the Astral Light, produced the phenomena of materialisation, and allowed the spiritualists at large to believe it was done through the medium of Mrs. Holmes. She was terribly frightened herself, for she knew that this once the apparition was real. Did I do wrong? The world is not prepared yet to understand the philosophy of Occult Science ; let them first assure themselves that there are beings in an invisible world, whether ' Spirits ' of the dead or elementals ; and that there are hidden powers in man which are capable of making a god of him on earth.  

"When I am dead and gone people will, perhaps, appreciate my disinterested motives. I have pledged my word to help people on to Truth while living, and I will keep my word. Let them abuse and revile me ; let some call me a medium and a Spiritualist, others an impostor. The day will come when posterity will learn to know me better. Oh, poor, foolish, credulous, wicked world!"

The whole thing is here made plain : the Spiritualism, she was sent to America to profess and ultimately bring to replace the cruder Western mediumism, was Eastern Spiritualism, or Brahma Vidya. The West not being prepared to accept it, her first assigned work was to defend the real phenomena of the "circle" from that prjudiced and militant enemy of spiritual belife -- materialistic, sociolistic, physical science, with its veraries and leaders. The one necessary thing for the age was to check meterialistic scepticism and strengthen the spiritual basis of the religious yearning. Therefore,  the battle being joined, she took her stand beside the American Spiritualists, and for the moment made common cause with them. Yes. Posterity will do her justice. 


I wish I could recall to memory the first phenomenon done by her confessedly as by an exercise of her own will power, but I cannot. It must have been just after she began writting Isis Unveiled and possibly it was the following. After leaving 16 Irving Place and making a visit to friends in the country, she occupied rooms for a time in another house in Irving Place, a few doors from the Lotos Club and on the same side of the street. It was there that, later, the informal gathering of friends was held at which I proposed the formation of what afterwards became the Theosophical Society. Among her callers was an Italian artist, a Signor B. formerly a Carbonaro. I was sitting alone with her in her drawing room when he made his first visit. They talked of Italian affairs, and he suddenly pronounced the name of one of the greatest of the Adepts. She started as if she had received an electric shock ; looked him straight in the eyes, and said (in Italian) " What is it? I am ready." He passed it off carelessly, but thenceforward the talk was all about Magic, Magicians, and Adepts. Signor B. went and opened one of the French windows, made some beckoning passes towards the outer air, and presently a pure white butterfly came into the room and went flying about near the ceiling. H. P. B. laughed in a cheerful way and said : " That is pretty, but I can also do it ! " She, too, opened the window, made similar beckoning passes, and presently a second white butterfly came fluttering in. It mounted to the ceiling, chased the other around the room, played with it now and then, with it flew to a corner, and, presto ! both disappeared at once while we were looking at them. " What does that mean ? " I asked. " Only this, that Signor B. can make an elemental turn itself into a butterfly, and so can I." The insects were not real but illusionary ones.

I recall other instances of her control of elementals or, as Hindus would term it, Yakshini Vidya. An early one is the following : On a cold winter's night, when several inches of snow lay upon the ground, she and I were work ing upon her book until a late hour at her rooms in Thirty-fourth Street. I had eaten some saltish food for dinner, and at about 1 a.m., feeling very thirsty, said to her : " Would it not be nice to have some hothouse grapes?" "So it would," she replied, "let us have some." " But the shops have been closed for hours, and we can buy none," I said. " No matter, we shall have them, all the same," was her reply. " But how ? " "I will show you. if you will just turn down that gas-light on the table in front of us." I turned the cock unintentionally so far around as to extinguish the light. " You need not have done this. ' she said. " I only wanted you to make the light dim. However, light extinguised quickly." A box of matches was just at hand, and in a moment I had relit the lamp. " See ! " she exclaimed, pointing to a hanging book-shelf on the wall before us. To my amazement there hung from the knobs at the two ends of one of the shelves two large bunches of ripe black Hamburgh grapes, which we proceeded to eat. To my question as to the agency employed, she said it was done by certain elementals under her control, and twice Literon, when we were living in the so-called " Lamasery," slie repeated the phenomenon of bringing fruits for our refreshment while we work on Isis.

Little by little, H. P. B. let me know of the existence of Eastern adepts and their powers, and gave me by a multitude of phenomena the proofs of her own control over the occult forces of nature. At first, as I have remarked, she ascribed them to " John King," and it was through his alleged friendliness that I first came into personal correspondence with the Masters. Many of their letters I have preserved, with my own endorsement of the dates of their reception. For years, and until shortly before I left New York for India, I was connected in pupilage with the African section of the Occult Brotherhood ; but, later, when a certain wonderful psycho-physiological change happened to H. P. B. that I am not at liberty to speak about, and that nobody has up to the present suspected, although enjoying her intimacy and full confidence, as they fancy, I was transferred to the Indian section and a different group of Masters. For, it may be stated, there is and ever was but one altruistic alliance, or fraternity, of these Elder Brothers of humanity, the world over ; but it is divided into sections according to the needs of the human race in its successive stages of evolution. In one age the focal centre of this world-helping force will be in one place, in another elsewhere. Unseen, unsuspected as the vivifying spiritual currents of the Akasha, yet as indispensable for the spiritual welfare of mankind, their combined divine energy is maintained from age to age and forever refreshes the pilgrim of Earth, who struggles on towards the Divine Reality. The sceptic denies the existence of these adepts because he has not seen or talked with them, nor read in history of their visible intermeddling in national events. But their being has been known to thousands of self-illuminate mystics and philanthropists in succeeding generations, whose purified souls have lifted them up out of the muck of physical into the brightness of spiritual consciousness ; and at many epochs they have come into personal relations with the persons who are devoting or inclined to devote them selves to altruistic labour for bringing about the brotherhood of mankind. Some of this class, very humble and apparently very unworthy — like us leaders of the Theosophical Society movement — have been blessed with their sympathy and partaken of their instruction. Some, like Damodar and H. P. B., have first seen them in visions while young ; some have encountered them under strange guises in most unlikely places ; I was in troduced to them by H. P. B. through the agency that my previous experiences would make most comprehensible, a pretended medium-overshadowing " spirit." John King brought four of the Masters to my attention, of whom one was a Copt, one a representative of the Neo Platonist Alexandrian school, one — a very high one, a Master of the Masters, so to say — a Venetian, and one an English philosopher, gone from men's sight, yet not dead. The first of these became my first Guru, and a stern disciplinarian he was, indeed, a man of splendid masculinity of character.

In time I came to know from themselves that H. P. B. was a faithful servant of theirs, though her peculiar temperament and idiosyncracies made her too antipathetic to some of them to permit of their working with her. This will not seem strange if one remembers that each individual man, whether adept or laic, has evolved along a particular ray of the Logos, and is in spiritual sympathy with his associate souls of that ray, and may be in antagonism, on this physical plane, with entities of another ray when clothed in flesh. This is probably the ultima ratio of what is called magnetic, auric, or psychical sympathy and antipathy. Whatever the reason may be some of the Masters could not and did not work with H. P. B. Several did, among them some whose names have never as yet been given out, but whom I had much intercourse with in those early years of the Theosophical Society movement.  

Among other things about herself H. P. B. told me, when I had got along far enough to know of the Brotherhood and her relation with it, that she had come to Paris the previous year (1873) intending to settle down for some time under the protection of a relative of hers, residing in the Rue de I'Universitd, but one day received from the " Brothers " a peremptory order to go to New York to await further orders.

The next day she had sailed with little more than money enough to pay her passage. She wrote to her father for funds to be sent her in care of the Russian Consul in New York, but this could not arrive for some time, and as the Consul refused her a loan, she had to set to work to earn her daily bread. She told me she had taken lodgings in one of the poorest quarters in New York — Madison Street — and supported herself by making cravats or artificial flowers — I forget which now — for a kind-hearted Hebrew shop-keeper. She always spoke to me with gratitude about this little man. As yet she had received no intimation as to the future, it was a sealed book. But the following year, in October, 1874, she was ordered to go to Chittenden and find the man who, as it turned out, was to be her future colleague in a great work — myself.

Her intimate friends will recollect her telling this story about her sudden departure under orders from Paris to New York. Mr. Sinnett mentions it in his Incidents in the Life of Madame Blavatsky (page 175), and it has been elsewhere published. But these acquaintances had it from her later on, and her enemies may say it was an afterthought of hers, a falsehood concocted to fit in with a little farce she subsequently invented. Accident, however, — if it be an accident — has just now, while I am writing these pages, brought me a valuable bit of corroborative proof. We have had staying at Adyar an American lady, Miss Anna Ballard, a veteran journalist, a life member of the New York Press Club, who, in the course of professional duty, met H. P. B. in the first week after her arrival at New York. In the course of conversation, amid a variety of less important facts. Miss Ballard casually mentioned to me two, that I at once begged her to put in writing, viz. : that H. P. B., whom she found living in a squalid lodging-house, said that she had suddenly and unexpectedly left Paris at one day's notice, and, secondly, that she had visited Tibet. Here is Miss Ballard's own version of the  affair :

 Adyar, 17th January, 1892.

" Dear Col. Olcott : — My acquaintanceship with Mme. Blavatsky dates even further back than you suppose. I met her in July, 1873, at New York, not more than a week after she landed. I was then a reporter on the staff of the New York Sun, and had been detailed to write an article upon a Russian subject. In the course of my search after facts the arrival of this Russian lady was reported to me by a friend, and I called upon her ; thus beginning an acquaintance that lasted several years. At our first interview she told me she had had no idea of leaving Paris for America until the very evening before she sailed, but why she came or who hurried her off she did not say. I remember perfectly well her saying with an air of exultation, ' I have been in Tibet.' Why she should think that a great matter, more remarkable than any other of the travels in Egypt, India, and other countries she told me about, I could not make out, but she said it with special emphasis and animation. I now know, of course, what it means. Anna Ballard."

Unless prepared to concede to H. P. B. the power of foreseeing that I should be getting this written statement from Miss Ballard in India, nineteen years later, the fair minded reader will admit that the statements she made to her first friend in New York, in 1873, strongly corroborate the assertions she has ever since made to a large number of people about the two most important incidents in the history of her connection with the Theosophical movement, (a) her preparation in Tibet, and (d) her journey to America in search of the person whose Karma linked him to her as the co-agent to set this social wave in motion.

She made an abortive attempt to found a sort of Spiritual Society at Cairo, in 1871 [We Peebles' Around the World, p. 215, and Sinnett's Incidents in the Life of Mme. Blavatsky, p. 158], upon a basis of phenomena. Not having the right persons to organise and direct it, it was a lamentable fiasco and brought upon her much ridicule. Yet the magical phenomena she brought with the help of the self-same Copt and another adept whom I subsequently came into relations with, were most startling.* It was apparently a reckless waste of psychic energy, and indicated anything but either personal infallibility or divine guidance. I could never understand it. And as regards the Theosophical Society every circumstance tends to show that it has been a gradual evolution, controlled by circumstances and the resultant of opposite forces, now running into smooth, now into rough grooves, and prosperous or checked proportionately with the wisdom or unwisdom of its management. The general direction has always been kept, its guiding motive ever identical, but its programme has been variously modified, enlarged, and improved as our knowledge increased and experience from time to time suggested. All things show me that the movement as such was planned out beforehand by the watching Sages, but all details were left for us to conquer as best we might. If we had failed, others would have had the chance that fell to our Karma, as I fell heir to the wasted chances of her Cairo group of 1871. Speaking of growth of knowledge, I can look back and trace a constant enlargement of my own the external fact, to know that when one affirms to a sensitive subject that an object present does not exist, this suggestion has the effect, direct or indirect, to dig in the brain of the hypnotic an anesthesia corresponding to the designated object. But what happens between the verbal affirmation, which is the means, and the systematised anesthesia, which is the end? . . . Here the laws of association, which are so great a help in solving psychological problems, abandon us completely." Poor beginners! They do not see that the inhibition is upon the astral man, and Eastern magicians excel them in "psychological tricks " simply because they know more about psychology, and can reach the Watcher who peers out upon the foolish world of illusion through the windows of the body; the telephonic nerves being inhibited, the telegraphic wires are cut, and no message passes in ideas, deeper perception of truth, and capacity to assimilate and impart ideas. My published articles and letters between 1875 and 1878 prove this distinctly. When I was a child (in Occultism) I spoke as a child ; often dogmatically, after the fashion of comparative tyros.

* See an article in Frank Leslie's Popular Magazine lax February l8g2, illustrated by mendacious engravings, yet containing a few facts along with much falsehood. The author, Dr. A. L. Rawson, mentions the Cairo failure of the " attempt to form a society for occult research," and says that " Paulos Metamon, a celebrated Coptic magician, who had several very curious books full of astrological formulas, magical incantations and horoscopes which he delighted in showing his visitors, after a proper introduction " advised delay. Dr. Rawson says that she (H. P. B.) had told the Countess Kazinoff "that she had solved at least one of the mysteries of Egypt, and proved it by letting a live serpent loose from a bag she had concealed in the folds of her dress." From an eye-witness I had it that while H.P.B. was in Cairo the most extraordinary phenomena would occur in any room she might be sitting in ; for example, the table lamp would quit its place on one table and pass through the air to another, just as if carried in some one's hand; this same mysterious Copt would suddenly vanish from the sofa where he was sitting, and many such marvels. Miracles no longer, since we have had the scientists prove to us the possibility of inhibition of the senses of sight, hearing, touch, and smell by mere hypnotic suggestion. Undoubtedly this inhibition was provoked in the company present, who were made to see the Copt vanish, and the lamp moving through space, but not the person whose hand was carrying it. It was what H. P. B. called a " psychological trick," yet all the same a fact and one of moment to science. Scientists attest the fact of inhibition yet confess ignorance as to its rationale. "How" — say Drs. Binet and Fer, in their celebrated work Ze Magnetisme Animal—" has the experimentalist produced this curious phenomenon ? We know nothing about it. We only grasp

I never heard anything from H. P. B. in the early days to make me think that she had the least intimation, until sent to Chittenden to me, about any future relationship between us in work, nor even then that the Theosophical Society was to be. We have it on her own authority, as quoted above, that she was sent from Paris to New York in the interest of Spiritualism, in the best sense of that word, and before we met she had attended seances and consorted with mediums, but never came under public notice. In May, 1875, I was engaged in trying to organise at New York with her concurrence a private investigating committee under the title of the " Miracle Club." In the Scrap-book (Vol. I.) she writes about it :

"An attempt in consequence of orders received from T* B* (a Master) through P. (an Elemental) personating John King. Ordered to begin telling the public the truth about the phenomena and their mediums. And now my martyrdom will begin ! I shall have all the Spiritualists against me, in addition to the Christians and the Sceptics. They will, oh M., be done. H. P. B."

The plan was to keep closed doors to all save the members of the Club, who were forbidden to divulge even the place of meeting. "All the manifestations, in eluding materialisations, to occur in the light, and without a cabinet." (Spiritual Scientist, ..) Taking H. P. B.'s remark above, as written, it looks as though there would have been no Theosophical Society — it looks so, I say — if her intended medium for the Miracle Club had not utterly failed us and so precluded my completing the organisation.

I notice in Mr. Sinnett's book the coincidence that she arrived at New York on the 7th of July, 1873-that is to say on the seventh day of the seventh month of her forty-second year (6x7), and that our meeting was postponed until I should have attained my forty-second year. And, to anticipate, it must also be remarked that she died in the seventh month of the seventeenth year of our Theosophical relationship. Add to this the further fact, recently published by me in the Theosophist, that Mrs. Annie Besant came to H. P. B. as an applicant for membership in the seventh month of the seventeenth year after her final withdrawal from the Christian communion, and we have here a pretty set of coincidences to bear in mind.



I HAVE found a letter to myself from an older acquaintance of Madame Blavatsky's than even Miss Ballard, the existence of which I had forgotten. The last-named lady met her at New York within the first week after her arrival from France, but Dr. Marquette knew her in Paris, before she started on that long and brilliant career which led, end at the Woking crematory for the moment, in 1891, and then keep on and ever onward. The innuendoes about her having led a wild life at the French capital in 1873, are answered by this frank statement of an educated lady physician, whom I personally knew at New York, but who, I understand, is now deceased. She says :

" New York, December 26, 1875.

" Dear Sir :

" In reply to your inquiries, I have to say that I made Madame Blavatsky's acquaintance in Paris in the year 1873. She was living in the Rue du Palais, in an apartment* with her brother, M. Hahn, and his intimate friend M. Lequeux. I was with her almost daily, and, in fact, spent a good part of my time with her when I was not in the hospitals or attending the lectures. I am, therefore, able to state from positive knowledge, what her behaviour was. It gives me great pleasure to say that that behaviour was unexceptionable, and such as to entitle her to every respect. She passed her time in painting and writing, seldom going out of her room. She had few acquaintances, but among the number were M. and Mme. Leymarie. Mme. Blavatsky I esteem as one of the most estimable and interesting ladies I ever met, and since my return from France, our acquaintance and friendship have been renewed.

" Yours respectfully,

(Sd.) " L. M. Marquette, M.D."

In the preceding chapter it was mentioned that she had left Paris for New York, by order of the Masters, on a day's notice, and with barely enough money to pay her way out. I recall a circumstance of the journey which, as she told it, brings into high relief one trait of her many-angled character — her impulsive generosity. She had bought a first-class ticket from Havre to New York, and had gone to the quay to either see or embark on the steamer, when her attention was attracted by a peasant woman, sitting on the ground with a child or * An " appartement" does not mean, as with us, a single chamber, but a suite of rooms, comprising reception, dining and bed-rooms, with a kitchen and servants' quarters. — O. two beside her, and weeping bitterly. Drawing near, H. P. B. found she was from Germany on her way to America to rejoin her husband, but a swindling emigrant runner at Hamburgh had sold her bogus steamer tickets, and there she was, penniless and helpless : the steamship company could do nothing, of course, and she had neither relative nor acquaintance in Havre. The heart of our kind H. P. B. was so touched that she said : " No matter, good woman, I will see if something cannot be done." She first vainly tried her powers of persuasion (and objurgation) upon the blameless agent of the company, and then, as a last expedient — her own funds being insufficient for the purpose — had her saloon ticket changed for a steerage berth for herself, and for the difference got steerage tickets for the poor woman and her children ! Many " proper " and " respectable " people have often expressed horror at H. P. B.'s coarse eccentricities, including profanity, yet I think that a generous deed like this would cause whole pages of recorded solecisms in society manners to be washed away from the Book of Human Accounts ! If any doubt it, let them try the steerage of an emigrant ship.  

We have seen how Miss Ballard found H. P. B. living in a wretched tenement-house in an East-end New York street, pending the arrival of money from home, and honestly supporting herself by sewing cravats. This was in July, 1873. In the following October her ever-indulgent, forbearing, and beloved father, died, and, on the 29th of the month, she received a cable dispatch from Stavropol, from her sister " Elise," conveying the news and informing her as to the amount of her heritage : adding that a draft for 1000 roubles had been sent her. [I have the original dispatch before me as I write.] In due course of post she received all the money, and then shifted her quarters to better neighbourhoods in New York city — Union Square, East Sixteenth St., Irving Place, etc., and it was in the last-named I found her domiciled upon returning from the Eddy Homestead. Her money did not stay with her long, however, for, as it is recorded in Mr. Sinnett's book, while she could endure with perfect patience the miseries of poverty if compelled, no sooner did money fall into her lap than she seemed to be unhappy unless she was throwing it away with both hands in the most imprudent fashion. A document in my possession illustrates this so well that I must quote from it. It is an agreement entitled " Articles of co-partnership entered into this twenty-second day of June, in the year One thousand eight hundred and seventy-four, by and between C G party of the first part and Helen Blavatsky, party of the second part, to wit : " Clause 1 recites that the co-partnership is " for the purpose of working the land and farm at N , in the County of , Long Island," the property of C. G. ; Clause 2 says, " the said co-partnership shall commence on the first day of July, 1874, and shall continue for the period of three years." Clause 3 states that C. G. puts the use of the farm into the co-partnership as an offset against the sum of one thousand dollars paid in by H. P. B. By Clause 4 " all proceeds for crops, poultry, produce, and other products raised on the said farm shall be divided equally, and all expenses " equally shared. Clause 5, and last, reserves the title of the land to C. G. The document is duly signed and sealed by the parties, witnessed and recorded.

What anybody might have expected happened : H. P. B. went to live on the farm ; got no profits, had a row, acquired debts and a neat little lawsuit which friends helped her to settle long afterward. That was the last of her bucolic dream of profits from sales of garden truck, poultry, eggs, etc. : three months later she met me in the Vermont ghostland, and the wheels of our war chariot began rumbling prophetically through the lowest levels of the Akash !

In November, 1874, signing her letter "Jack the Pappoose," she wrote to ask me to get her an engagement to write weird stories for a certain journal, as she would soon be " hard up," and gave me a rollicking account of her family pedigree and connexions on both sides ; talking like a democrat, yet showing but too plainly that she felt that she, if any one, had reason to be proud of her lineage. She writes me how the Daily Graphic people had interviewed her about her travels and asked for her portrait. Considering how many thousand copies of her likeness have since been circulated, the world over, it will amuse if I quote a sentence or two about this first experience of the sort :

" Don't you know, the fellows of the Graphic bored my life out of me to give them my portrait ? Mr. F. was sent to get me into conversation after I came out [for the Eddys, she means], and wanted them to insert my article against . . . Beard. I suppose they wanted to create a sensation and so got hold of my beautiful nostrils and splendid mouth ... I told them that nature has endowed and gifted me with a potato nose, but I did not mean to allow them to make fun of it, vegetable though it is. They very seriously denied the fact, and so made me laugh, and you know ' celui qui rit est desarmed' "

A well-known physician of New York, a Dr. Beard, attracted to Chittenden by my Graphic letters, had come out with a bombastic and foolish explanation of the Eddy ghosts as mere trickery, and she had flayed him alive in a reply, dated October 27th and published in the Graphic of October 30th. Her letter was so brave and sparkling a defence of the Eddy mediums, and her testimony as to the seven " spirit-forms " she herself had recognised so convincing, that she at once came into the blaze of a publicity which never afterwards left her. This was the first time her name had been heard of in America in connection with psychological mysteries, my own mention in the Graphic, of her arrival at Chittenden appearing, if I am not mistaken, a little later. However, be that as it may, her tilt with Dr. Beard was the primary cause of her notoriety.

She carried a tone of breeziness, defiant brusqueness, and camaraderie throughout all her talk and writing in those days, fascinating everybody by her bright wit, her contempt for social hypocrisies, and all " caddishness," and astounding them with her psychical powers. The erudition of Isis Unveiled had not yet overshadowed her, but she constantly drew upon a memory stored with a wealth of recollections of personal perils and adventures, and of knowledge of occult science, not merely unparalleled but not even approached by any other person who had ever appeared in America, so far as I have heard. She was a totally different personage then from what she was later on, when people saw her settled down to the serious life-work for which her whole past had been a preparatory school. Yes, the H. P. B. I am now writing about, in whose intimate comradeship I lived, with whom I was on terms of perfect personal equality, who over flowed with exuberant spirits and enjoyed nothing more than a comic song or story, was not the H. P. B. of India or London, nor recognisable in the mental colossus of the latter days. She changed in many things, yet in one thing she never improved, viz., the choice of friends and confidants. It almost seems as though she were always dealing with inner selves of men and women, and had been blind to the weakness or corruption of their visible, bodily shells. Just as she flung her money to every specious wretch who came and lied to her, so she made close friends of the passing hour with people the most unworthy. She trusted one after another, and, for the time being, there seemed nobody like them in her eyes ; but usually the morrow brought disillusion and disgust, without the prudence to avoid doing it all over again. I mentioned above the attempt to form a Miracle Club, for the study of practical psychology. The intended medium belonged to a most respectable family, and talked so honestly that we thought we had secured a prize. He proved to be penniless, and as H. P. B. in his hour of greatest need had no money to spare, she pawned her long gold chain and gave him the proceeds. That wretch not only failed utterly as a medium, but was also reported to us as having spread calumnies against the one who had done him kindness. And such was her experience to the end of her life ; the ingratitude and cruel malice of the Coulombs being but one of a long series of sorrows.

The subsequent history of that gold chain is interesting. It was, of course, redeemed from pawn, and, later, she wore it in Bombay and Madras. When, in the Ninth Annual Convention of the Society, held at Adyar, a subscription was started to create the Permanent Fund, H. P. B. put her chain up at private auction, and it was bought by Mr. E. D. Ezekiel, and the money handed over to the Treasurer of the T. S. for the Fund in question.

Before my series of Chittenden letters to the Daily Graphic was finished, I had arranged for their publication in book form at Hartford, Conn., and about the same time H. P. B. removed to Philadelphia. A blight fell upon Spiritualism in those days, in consequence of Mr. Dale Owen's public denunciation of the Holmes mediums as cheats. The journals of that movement lost heavily in subscribers, the most popular books lay unsold on the publishers' shelves. My own publishers were so alarmed that I arranged, through Mr. Owen, with Mrs. Holmes for a course of test-seances under my own conditions, and went there and carried out my plan, with the colleagues before mentioned. Thence I proceeded to Havana, N. Y., and saw the truly marvel lous mediumistic phenomena of Mrs. Compton. Both sets of experiences were embodied in my book, and it was published.

H. P. B. was still at Philadelphia, so I accepted her urgent invitation to come and take a few days' holiday after my long term of work. Expecting to be absent from New York only two or three days, I left no instructions at my office or club about forwarding my letters, but, finding upon arrival that she was not likely to let me go so soon, I went on the second day to the General Post-Office, gave the address of my lodgings, and asked that any letters coming for me might be delivered there by carrier. I expected none, but fancied that the people in my office, not hearing from me, might address me at the Philadelphia Post-Office on the chance of my getting their letter. Then happened something that astonished me — knowing so little as I did of the psychical resources of H. P. B. and her Masters — and which even now, despite so long an experience of phenonena, remains a world-wonder. To understand what follows, let the reader examine any letter he has received by post, and he will find two office stamps upon it ; the one on the face, that of the office at which it was posted, the one on the back, that of the office to which it was addressed ; if it has been sent on after him from the latter office, it will at least bear those two stamps, and, in addition, those of any series of post-offices to which it was re-addressed until it finally reached his hand. Now, on the evening of the very day on which I had left my address at the Philadelphia General Post Office, the local postman brought me letters coming from widely distant places — one, I think, from South America, or at any rate, some foreign country — addressed to me at New York, bearing the stamps of the respective offices of posting, but not that of the New York Post-Office. Despite all post-office rules and customs, they had come straight to me to Philadelphia without passing through the New-York Post Office at all. And nobody in New York knew my Philadelphia address, for I did not myself know what it would be when I left home. I took these letters myself from the postman's hand, being just on the point of going out for a walk when he arrived. So the letters were not tampered with by H. P. B. Upon opening them, I found on each, something written in the same handivriting as that in letters I had received in New York from the Masters, the writing having been made either in the margins or any other blank space left by the writers. The things written were, either some comments upon the character or motives of the writers, or matter of general purport as regards my occult studies. These were the precursors of a whole series of those phenomenal surprises dating the fornight or so that I spent in Philadelphia. I had many, and no letter of the lot bore the New York stamp , although all were addressed to me at my office in that city.

The accompanying facsimile of one of the covers -- a letter from Prof. J. R. Buchanan -- will show that although addressed to me at New York, it was delivered by the Philadelphia carrier without having been re-addressed to that city. The house number -- H.P.B.'s residence -- was written in the City Delivery Department of the Philadelphia Post-Office. The New York stamp is not on the back.

When we come to analyse the psychical phenomena of or connnected with Mme. Blavatsky, we find that they may be assissed as follows:

 1. Those whose production requires a knowledge of the ultimate propreties of matter, of the cohesive force which agglomerates the atoms: especially a knowledge of Akash, its composition, contents, and potentialities.

2. Those which relate to the powers of the elementals when made subservient to human will.

3. Those where hynotic suggestion through the medium of thought-transference creates illusive sensations of sight, sound and touch.

4. Those which involve the art of making objective images pictoria or scriptory -- which are first purpose created in the adept-operator's mind: for instance, the precipitation of a picture or writing upon paper or other material surface, or of a letter, image, or other mark upon the human skin.

5. Those pertaining to thought-reading and retrospective and prospective clairvoyance.

6. Those of the intercourse at will between her mind and the minds of other living persons equally or more perfectly gifted, psychically, than herself. Or, some times, the subordination of her will and whole personality to the will of another entity.

7. Those, of the highest class, where by spiritual in sight, or intuition, or inspiration — as indifferently called; there being no real difference in the condition, but only in names — she reached the amassed stores of human knowledge laid up in the registry of the Astral Light.

Recalling my observations for the past twenty years as well as I can, I think that all the tales I have ever told or shall henceforth tell, will drop into one or other of these classes.

The sceptic will certainly say that my groups are arbitrary and my hypotheses fanciful. He will ask me to prove that there are elemental spirits ; that there is such a thing as clairvoyance ; that material objects called for can be brought from a distance ; that anybody really knows the nature of the attraction of cohesion, etc. I shall, for my sole answer, tell what I and others have seen, and then challenge the doubter to find in nature any thinkable laws, outside those above enumerated, which ex plain the facts — the hard undeniable facts. If the theory of miracle, or diabolism, be propounded, then I shall be dumb, for that cuts off argument. I do not pretend to be able to explain the rationale of all of H. P. B.'s phenomena, for to do that one would need to be as well informed as herself ; which I never pretended to be.



AN experiment, made by H. P. B., with myself as a passive agent, shortly after my coming to her house in Philadelphia, narrows the phenomena of letter-transport, with precipitation of writing inside sealed covers, to very close limits. The facts were these : she was tipping tables for me, with and without the contact between her hands and the table ; making loud and tiny raps — sometimes while holding her hand six inches above the wood, and sometimes while resting her hand upon mine as it lay flat upon the table ; and spelling out messages to me from the pretended John King which, as rapped out by the alphabet, I recorded on scraps of paper that were subsequently torn up and thrown away. At last some of these messages relating to third parties seemed worth keeping, so one day, on my way home, I bought a reporter's note-book, and, on getting to the house, showed it to her and explained its intended use. She was seated at the time and I standing. Without touching the book or making any mystical pass or sign, she told me to put it in my bosom. I did so, and after a moment's pause she bade me take it out and look within. This is what I found : inside the first cover, written and drawn on the white lining paper in lead pencil : — 

" John King,

Henry de Morgan,

his book. 4th of the Fourth month in A.D. 1875."

Underneath this, the drawing of a Rosicrucian jewel ; over the arch of the jewelled crown, the word Fate ; beneath which is her name, " Helen," followed by what looks, after the rubbing of these seventeen years, like 99, something smudged out, and then a simple +. At the narrowest point, where the head of the compasses enters the crown, are the initials I. S. F. ; beneath that a monogram, blending the capital letters A, T, D, and R, the T much larger than the others. At one foot of the compasses is my name, at the other the name of another man, a resident of Philadelphia ; and along the segment of the arch connecting the two points of the pair of compasses run the words "Ways of Providence." I have the book on my table as I write, and my de scription is taken from the drawing itself. One striking feature of this example of psycho-dynamics is the fact that no one but myself had touched the book after it was purchased : I had had it in my pocket until it was shown to H. P. B., from the distance of two or three feet, had myself held it in my bosom, removed it a moment later when bidden, and the precipitation of the lead-pencil writing and drawing had been done while the book was inside my waist coat. Now the writing inside the tover of my note book is very peculiar ; the e's being all like the Greek epsilon and the n's something like the Greek pi: it is a quaint and quite individual handwriting, not like H. P. B.'s, but identical with that in all the written messages I had from first to last from " John King." H. P. B. having, then, the power of precipitation, must have transferred from her mind to the paper the images of words traced in this special style of script; or, if not she, but some other expert in this art did it, then that other person must have done it in that same way — i. e., have first pictured to him self mentally the images of those words and that drawing, and then precipitated; that is, made them visible on the paper, as though written with a lead pencil. After seventeen years this psychograph remains legible, and some — not all — of the characters have the shine of plumbago : those that have not seem as though the lines had been sunken into the fabric of the paper. I have records of precipitations made in crayon, water colors, blue, red, and green pencils, ink and gold paint, as well as the formation of solid substances, but one scientific principle underlies them all, viz., the objectivation of images, previouily ' visualised. ' or formed in the mind of the expert, by the employment of cosmic force and the diffused matter of space. The imagination is the creative hidden deity ; force and matter its working tools.  

The days and evenings of my Philadelphia visit were symposia of occult reading, teaching and phenomena. Among H. P. B.'s most pleasant and sympathetic friends were Mr. and Mrs. Amer, and Messrs. M. D. Evans and J Fusey, in whose presence a variety of phenomena were wrought. I remember, among others, that one afternoon she caused a photograph on the wall to suddenly disappear from its frame and give place to a sketch portrait of John King while a person present was actually looking at it. By degrees my mind was taking in the Eastern theories of spirit and spirits, of matter and materialism. Without being asked by H. P. B. to give up the spiritualistic hypothesis, I was made to see and to feel that, as a true science. Spiritualism could only be said to exist in the East, and its only proficients were pupils and teachers of the Oriental schools of occultism. With the sincerest desire to be fair to the Spiritualists, I must say that up to the present moment no scientific theory of mediumistic phenomena that covers the ground and is generaly accepted among them, has been put forward, nor have I seen convincing proof that among Western adherents to the movement there has been discovered a system by which spirits may be evoked or physical phenomena compelled at will. Not a medium that I have ever met or heard of possesses a mantram or Vidya (scientific method) for those purposes, such as are common and have been known for ages in all Eastern countries. See, for example, the article " An Evocation by Sorcery,'' in the Theosophist for May, 1892. Thus for instance, while I and H. P. B.'s other friends were made to believe the John King (almost daily) phenomena were done by a disembodied man, once the famed buccaneer. Sir H. Morgan, and that she was serving him as medium, or, at least, contented helper, H. P. B. did things which implied a knowledge of magic. Let me give a homely example while at the same time remarking that great scientific inductions have been reached by the chance observation of equally commonplace facts — e.g., the falling of an apple, the jumping of the lid of a boiling kettle. One day, bethinking me that a sufficiency of towels was but too evidently lacking in her house, I bought some and brought them home with me in a parcel. We cut them apart, and she was for putting them into immediate use without hemming, but, as I protested against such bad house keeping, she good-naturedly set to plying her needle. She had hardly commenced when she gave an angry kick beneath the work-table at which she sat, and said, " Get out, you fool ! " " What is the matter ? " I asked.  

" Oh," she replied, " it is only a little beast of an elemental that pulled my dress and wants something to do." " Capital ! " I said ; " here is just the thing ; make it hem these towels. Why should you bother about them, and you such an atrocious needlewoman as that very hem proves you to be ? " She laughed, and abused me for my uncomplimentary speech, but at first would not gratify the poor little bond-slave under the table that was ready to play the kindly leprachaun if given the chance. I, however, persuaded her at last : she told me to lock up the towels, the needles and thread, in a book case with glass doors lined with thick green silk, that stood at the farther side of the room. I did so and resumed my seat near her, and we fell to talking on the inexhaustible and unique theme that occupied our thoughts — occult science, after perhaps a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes, I heard a little squeaky sound, like a mouse's pipe, beneath the table, whereupon H. P. B. told me that " that nuisance " had finished the towels. So I unlocked the bookcase door, and found the dozen towels were actually hemmed, though after a clumsy fashion that would disgrace the youngest child in an infant-school sewing-class. Hemmed they were, beyond the possibility of doubt, and inside a locked book case which H. P. B. never approached while the thing was going on. The time was about 4 p.m., and, of course, it was broad daylight. We were the only persons in the room, and no third person entered it until all was finished.

Her house in Philadelphia was built on the usual local plan, with a front building and a wing at the back which contained the dining-room below and sitting or bedrooms above. H. P. B.'s bedroom was the front one on the first floor (the second, it is called in America) of the main building ; at the turn of the staircase was the sitting-room where the towels were hemmed, and from its open door one could look straight along the passage into H. P. B.'s room if her door also stood open. She had been sitting in the former apartment conversing with me, but left to get something from her bedroom. I saw her mount the few steps to her floor, enter her room and leave the door open. Time passed, but she did not return. I waited and waited until, fearing she might have fainted, I called her name. There was no reply, so now, being a little anxious and knowing she could not be engaged privately, since the door had not been closed, I went there, called again, and looked in ; she was not visible, though I even opened the closet and looked under the bed. She had vanished, without the chance of having walked out in the normal way, for, save the door giving upon the landing, there was no other means of exit ; the room was a cul de sac. I was a cool one about phenomena after my long course of experiences, but this puzzled and worried me. I went back to the sitting-room, lit a pipe, and tried to puzzle out the mystery. This was in 1875, it must be remembered, many years before the Salpetriere school's experiments in hypnotism had been vulgarised, so it never occurred to me that I was the subject of a neat experiment in mental suggestion, and that H. P. B. had simply inhibited my organs of sight from perceiving her presence, perhaps within two paces of me in the room. After awhile she calmly came out of her room into the passage and returned to the sitting-room to me. When I asked where she had been, she laughed and said she had had some occult business to attend to, and had made herself invisible. But how, she would not explain. She played me and others the same trick at other times, before and after our going to India, but even the latest instance happened long before the easy hypnotic solution of the problem would have occurred to me. As explained in the first chapter of this series, the superior neatness of Oriental over Western hypnotic suggestion is that in such cases as this, the inhibitory effect upon the subject's perceptive organs results from mental, not spoken, command or suggestion. The subject is not put on his guard to resist the illusion, and it is done before he has the least suspicion that any experiment is being made at his expense.

Since I took no measurement at the time, I must concede that the following also may have been a case of suggested illusion. H. P. B. was wearing her hair at that time in a bushy mop, without comb or pins or twists, and in length it might have been about to the lobes of her ears. I came home to tiffin one day, and, her bed room door standing open as usual, stopped for a minute's chat, before mounting to my own room on the floor above. She was standing near one of the windows, and her head being in high light, I noticed particularly the mass of her hair and its tousled appearance. I also observed the shine of the daylight upon the glossy, pale grey paper with which the ceiling was covered. After a few words together I ran upstairs, but had not been there a minute before I heard her calling me to come down. I did so at once, saw her standing in the same place, but her hair was now so much longer that it almost touched her shoulders. She said nothing about that, but pointed to the ceiling over her head and said : " Here is some thing that John has drawn for you." My recollection is now very dim as to what it was, but, as I remember it, it was a huge sketch of a man's head, with some writing or symbols near it ; all done in lead-pencil, at the spot where I had noticed the blank surface to be when I passed up stairs. I then took hold of her lengthened hair, and asked her, laughing, where she bought her pommade, as it was certainly very efficacious if it could cause hair to grow two inches within three minutes. She made some merry rejoinder, and said I should not meddle with things that were of no consequence ; such freaks of nature sometimes happened to her ; it was not to see that she had called me, but only to show me what John King had done on the ceiling. Considering the time that had elapsed from my leaving to my re-entering the room, and the fact that the ceiling was too high for her to reach, even by standing on a chair or table, my present inference is that the drawing was done in one of two ways, viz., either by herself at her leisure, while I was out, by mounting upon a step-ladder, and inhibiting me from seeing the work until she chose ; or by the process of instantaneous precipitation while I was ascending and descending one short flight of stairs. That it was not visible to me when I was first in the room, I can positively aver, and if the reader chooses to speculate as to the rationale of the matter, he must take my statement as made for what it is worth. What makes me suspect that the apparent lengthening of H. P. B.'s hair was illusory, is the fact that, try as I may, I cannot remember whether it continued to seem long or apparently resumed its previous length that day or the next. People in India, and others subsequently, in Europe, saw her hair twisted up into a knot and confined by a comb, but it was years after we met before she would let it grow long enough for that purpose ; I am not sure that it was not when we went to visit the Sinnetts at Simla ; so I am probably right in suspecting that the apparent sudden lengthening was a Maya done by way of a joke. But very, very strange things happened with her hair on several occasions, to be hereafter narrated. And strangest of all, was that which happened to my beard one night, as we shall see in good time. Speaking of her jokes, it may be said that, throughout all our years of intimacy, she wasted enough psychic force on useless phenomena to have sufficed to convince the whole Royal Society if it had been judiciously employed. I have heard her ring astral bells that were drowned in the noise of conversation, make raps that nobody heard save myself, and do other phenomena that passed unnoticed, but which would have greatly strengthened her credit as a thaumaturgist if she had but chosen the favourable moment and given the right chances for observation. However, all that is past and gone, and my task is to record, as remembered, the psychical experiments which satisfied my critical reason as to the reality of the science of Eastern Magic. In doing which, shall I not be acting as a true friend to H. P. B., whose character has been vilified and whose occult powers denied because she fed rogues at her table and warmed traitors in her bosom? These days and events of which I write were in the pre Coulombian era, when real adepts taught eager pupils and genuine phenomena happened. And they were days when I knew my colleague as a human being, before she had been half-deified by friends who had known nothing of her human failings, hence of her humanity. As I shall present her, the now fading ideal image of the writer of Isis and the S. D., will become clothed in flesh and blood ; a real (masculinised) woman ; living like other people when awake, but going into another world and dealing with nobler people, when asleep or in waking clairvoyance ; a personality inhabiting an enfeebled female body, " in which ... a vital cyclone is raging much of the time " — to quote the words of a Master. So fitful, so capricious, so unreliable, so exacting, so tempestuous as to call for heroic forbearance and self-control if one would live and work with her in an unselfish spirit. These phenomena of hers that I saw, the manifold proofs she gave of the existence behind her of teachers whose feet she felt she was scarce worthy to dust, and the later epistasis, when the turbulent and exasperating woman became a writing and teaching sage and a benefactress to the soul-seeker ; — all these, and the books she left behind her, combine to prove her exceptional greatness and make her eccentricities forgotten, even by those to whom they caused most mental suffering. In showing us the Path, she laid us all under such a weight of obligation that it is impossible to harbour any feeling save gratitude for her.  



IN giving anything like a consecutive account of early Theosophic days — by which term I mean to include all days of intercourse between H. P. B. and myself, so far as I can recall them — I must briefly allude to the cases of precipitation of manuscript by her which are mentioned in my People from the Other World (pp. 455-6-7 and 8). Ostensibly, as above stated, they were given me by John King, of Kamaloca, whilom buccaneer, knighted by His Britannic Majesty Charles II., but now apparently a mere pseudonym of H. P. B.'s elementals. At a stance at her hotel in Philadelphia, on the evening of January 6, 1875, the alleged J. K. doing phenomena, I said : " If you are in reality a spirit, as you pretend, give me some exhibition of your power. Make me, for example, a copy of the last note from E. W. to Mr. Owen that I have in the portfolio in my pocket." No notice was taken of the request that evening, but on the next but one after it, while H. P. B. was writing and I reading at the same table, loud raps sounded, and, upon my calling the English alphabet spelt out, "' Hand me your dictionary under the table, will you?" The only dictionary there, was a Russian-English, one of H. P. B.'s. which was handed (not dropped, but handed, as if to a something or invisible somebody down there, that could take the bulky volume) beneath as requested. The raps then called for a mucilage bottle, and then for a penknife. These also having been passed under the table. There was momentary silence, after which was rapped the word " Look '. " We took up the book, knife, and bottle, and upon a fly-leaf of the dictionary I found a precipited copy of the note in question. The call for the knife was explained to me thus : a certain infinitesimal quantity of the metal composing the blades was disintegrated from the mass and used in precipitation of the black writing from the state of metallic vapour. The gum-arabic lent some of its particles — also vaporised for the purpose — as a cohesive and in the experiment. The portfolio containing the duplicated note had been in my pocket continuosly since my coming to Philadelphia, until half an hour prior to the experiment, when I had laid it on the mantel-shelf, and had had it in full view whenever I raised my eyes from my book. H. P. B. was all the time within two feet of me, at her table writing, and no person, save  ourselves was or had been in the room since I laid it upon the shelf. Upon comparing the original writing and the duplicate, by superposition, it was evident that they were not facsimiles, which mude it the more interesting. 

The next evening, H. P. B. and I being again alone, the raps called for a piece of Bristol-board drawing paper to be handed beneath the table. Showing me first that both sides were blank, my colleague passed it down to " John King,'' whereupon the raps bade me look at my watch and note how long the experiment would require. With my watch in hand, I glanced under the table-cloth and satisfied myself that there was but the one sheet of paper there which I had handled the moment before. At the end of just thirty seconds the raps spelt out " Done." I looked at the paper and felt disappointed upon seeing that the exposed surface was as blank as before, but upon the underface, the one next the carpet, was found a second and even better copy of the original E. W. letter. This time the portfolio containing the letter was in the inside breast-pocket of my coat, where it had been continuously since the previous evening's experiment in precipitation. A Mr. B , who entered the room at this moment, assisted me in making a very careful scrutiny of the documents, placing one over the other as I had already done, and becoming, like myself, entirely convinced of the genuineness of the phenomenon. I may say, in parenthesis, that this gentleman received in his carpet-bag while travelling by railway train, a letter from " John King " conveying instructions as to something of a personal nature. He told me the story himself, showed me the letter, and stated upon honour, that it had come into his bag while in a train and miles distant from Philadelphia and H. P. B.  

This incident recalls similar experiences of my own while travelling by train, in France, with Babu Mohini M. Chatterji, and in Germany with Dr. Huebbe Schleiden, both in the year 1884.

The mention of this gentleman (Mr. B.) reminds me of the duty I owe to the memory of H. P. B. to state her exact relations with him. It has been insinuated that they were not altogether creditable, and that there was a mystery concealed which would not bear probing. This is of a piece with the multitudinous cruel reports that were spread about her. She is dead and gone now from the world's sight and beyond the reach of the slanderer, but, judging from my own feelings, I am sure that all who love her memory will be glad to know the facts from one of the half dozen who are able to give them. They are these : One of my Chittenden letters in the Daily Graphic aroused the interest of this Mr. B. — a Russian subject — and led him to write me from Philadelphia expressing his strong desire to meet my colleague and talk over Spiritualism. No objections being made by her, he came over to New York towards the end of 1S75, and they met. It turned out that he fell at once into a state of profound admiration, which he expressed verbally, and later, by letter, to her and to me. She persistently rebuffed him when she saw that he was matrimonially inclined, and grew very angry at his persistence. The only effect was to deepen his devotion, and he finally threatened to take his life unless she would accept his hand. Meanwhile, before this crisis arrived, she had gone to Philadelphia, put up at the same hotel, and received his daily visits. He declared that he would ask nothing but the privilege of watching over her, that his feeling was one of unselfish adoration for her intellectual grandeur, and that he would make no claim to any of the privileges of wedded life. He so besieged her that — in what seemed to me a freak of madness — she finally consented to take him at his word and be nominally his wife ; but with the stipulation that she should retain her own name, and be as free and independent of all disciplinary restraint as she then was. So they were lawfully married by a most respectable Unitarian clergyman of Philadelphia, and set up their lares and penates in a small house in Sansom Street, where they entertained me as guest on my second visit to that city — after my book was finished and brought out. The ceremony took place, in fact, while I was stopping in the house, although I was not present as a witness. But I saw them when they returned from the clergyman's residence after the celebration of the rite.  

When I privately expressed to her my amazement at what I conceived to be her act of folly in marrying a man younger than herself, and inexpressibly her inferior in mental capacity ; one, moreover, who could never be even an agreeable companion to her, and with very little means — his mercantile business not being as yet established — she said it was a misfortune that she could not escape. Her fate and his were temporarily linked together by an inexorable Karma, and the union was to her in the nature of a punishment for her awful pride and combativeness, which impeded her spiritual evolution, while no lasting harm would result to the young man. The inevitable result was that this ill-starred couple dwelt together but a few months. The husband forgot his vows of unselfishness, and, to her ineffable disgust, became an importunate lover. She fell dangerously ill in June from a bruise on one knee caused by a fall the previous winter in New York upon the stone flagging of a sidewalk, which ended in violent inflammation of the periosteum and partial mortification of the leg ; and as soon as she got better (which she did in one night, by one of her quasi-miraculous cures, after an eminent surgeon had declared that she would die unless the leg was instantly amputated), she left him and would not go back. When, after many months of separation, he saw her determination unchangeable, and that his business, through his mismanagement, was going to the dogs, he engaged counsel and sued for a divorce on the ground of desertion. The summonses were served upon her in New York, Mr. Judge acted as her counsel, and on the 25th May, 1878, the divorce was granted. The original documents have ever since been in my custody. That is the whole story, and it will be seen that it shows no criminality nor illegality on her part, nor any evidence that she derived the slightest worldly advantage from the marriage beyond a very modest maintenance, without a single luxury, for a few months.

Before dismissing Mr. B. from the scene, I might mention a variant of her precipitation phenomena which I personally witnessed. He talked continually of a deceased grandmother, whom he professed to have loved very dearly, and begged H. P. B. to get him, if possible, her portrait, the family having none. Wearied by his importunities, she, one day when we three were together, took a sheet of writing-paper, went to the window, held it against the glass with the palms of her two hands, and in a couple of minutes handed him the paper, upon which I saw the portrait, in black and white, of a queer little old woman, with a dark complexion, black hair, many wrinkles, and a large wart on her nose ! Mr. B. enthusiastically declared the likeness to be perfect.  

Her time during this period was fully engrossed with writing for the public press, upon Western Spiritualism at first, and later upon that of the East. Her " first occult shot," as she terms it in a note to the cutting pasted into our scrap-book, will be found in the (Boston) Spiritual Scientist, vol. i., July 15, 1875, comment upon which will be made in the next chapter.

The publication of my book led to important results ; among others, to interminable discussions in the American and English organs of Spiritualism and in the secular press, in which both H. P. B. and I engaged, and to the formation of lasting friendships with several most excellent correspondents, with whom we threshed out the whole subject of Eastern and Western occultism. Almost immediately we found ourselves addressed by enquirers in both hemispheres and attacked or defended by opponents and sympathisers. The well-known Hon. Alexandre Aksakof, Russian Imperial Privy Councillor and a fervid Spiritualist, engaged H. P. B. to translate my book into Russian, offering to bring it out at his own expense. She complied, and shortly there appeared in St. Petersburgh a very kind and appreciative pamphlet by Professor N. A. Wagner, of the Imperial University, in which he (himself a scientific authority of the first rank) was good enough to say that in conducting my researches I "had complied with all the requirements of cautious scientific enquiry " ; a testimonial of which I naturally felt very proud. Mr. Crookes, F. R. S., and Mr. Alfred R. Wallace, F. R. S., of England, and M. Camille Flammarion of France, the world-famous astronomer, were also very kind and sympathetic in their expressions. Some months later, Mr. C. C. Massey, of London, came over to America expressly to verify, by personal observation on the spot, the accuracy of my account of the Eddy phenomena. We saw much of each other, and were so mutually satisfied that a close, almost brotherly friendship sprang up between us ; one that has lasted to this day unbroken and unclouded even by a single misunderstanding. I had already been brought into the most sympathetic relations with the late Hon. R. D. Owen and Mr. Epes Sargent, of Boston. The latter gentleman and scholar had been the channel for my gaining both a precious correspondent and the dearest of friends, in the late Mr. W. Stainton Moses,* M.A. (Oxon), teacher of Classics and English, in University College, London, and the most honoured and brilliant writer among British Spiritualists. A copy of my book was sent him and reviewed in the Psychological Magazine or Human Nature — I forget which — and little by little we drifted into an almost weekly interchange of letters for several years. His first one, now before me, is dated April 27, 1875, and is devoted to discussion of the conditions and results of "circle" mediumistic phenomena. He draws my attention to a fact, sneered at by Professor Tyndall in his well-known letter to the old London Dialectical Society, yet only too palpable to all experienced enquirers into this class of natural phenomena, viz., that " as a matter of fact certain people by their mere presence do seriously interfere with, and by their mere contiguity paralyse the phenomena : and that from no fault of their own, nor from any mental attitude (as want of faith, etc.), but from the atmosphere which surrounds them. The more sensitive the medium the more perceptible this is." Mr. Stainton Moses continues : " There are many personal friends of mine in whose presence phenomena with me cease, to my great chagrin, nor have I the least power to alter the result.'' Alluding to the phenomenon of the apparent de-materialisation of the medium (^e. g., the case of Mrs. Compton, as described in my book), he declares it to be most astounding of all, and says he cannot account for it, though he believes " it is not unknown to the Oriental Magicians." What I have said in a previous chapter as regards the power of deluding the sight by the now scientific process of hypnotic inhibition of the nerves. solves this mystery and does away with a lot of superstitious beliefs and alleged diabolism. It was worth all the trouble of writing that book to have made two such life-long friends as Stainton Moses and Massey, but it did much more, it changed my life and made an epoch. While Mr. Massey was in America we together visited several mediums, and he was one of those who joined H. P. B. and myself in forming the Theosophical Society toward the close of that year (1875). I introduced him to H. P. B. and he frequently visited her rooms, became her close friend and constant correspondent until the intimacy was broken, several years later, by a circumstance known as the "Kiddle incident.' When he returned to London I gave him an introductory letter to Mr. Stainton Moses, and thus began that intimacy between us three which has only been interrupted by the death of '' M. A. Oxon."  

* Moses is not the real name but Moseyn or Mostyu, as he told me. The other is a corruption.


Mention has been made of one Signor B . an Italian artist possessed of occult powers, who visited H. P. B. in New York. I witnessed, one autumn evening, in 1875. just after the T. S. was formed, the extraordinary phenomenon of rain-making effected by him by — as he said — the control of spirits of the air. The moon was at the full and not a cloud floated in the clear blue sky. He called H. P. B. and myself out upon the balcony of her back drawing-room, and, bidding me keep perfectly silent and cool, whatever might happen, he drew from the breast of his coat and held up towards the moon a pasteboard card, perhaps 6x10 inches in size, upon one face of which were painted in water-colors a number of squares, each containing a strange mathematical figure, but which he would not let me handle or examine. I stood close behind him, and could feel his body stiffen as though it were responding to an intense concentration of will. Presently he pointed at the moon and we saw dense black vapours, like thunder-clouds, or, I should rather say, like the tumbling mass of black smoke that streams away to leeward from the funnel of a moving steamer, pouring out of the shining eastern rim of the brilliant satellite, and floating away towards the horizon. Involuntarily I uttered an exclamation, but the sorcerer gripped my arm with a clutch of steel and motioned me to be silent. More and more rapidly the black pall of cloud rushed out, and longer and longer it stretched away towards the distance, like a monstrous jetty plume. It spread into a fan-shape and soon other dark rain-clouds appeared in the sky, now here, now there, and formed into masses rolling, drifting, and scudding exactly like a natural water metre. Rapidly the heavens became overcast, the moon disappeared from view, and a shower of rain-drops drove us into the house. There was no thunder or lightning, no wind, just simply a smart shower, produced within the space of a quarter hour by this man of mystery. When we came into the light of the chandelier. I saw that his face had that look of iron firmness and that clenching of the teeth that one sees on the faces of comrades in battle. And truly for good reason, for he had just been battling against and conquering the unseen hosts of the elements, a thing that brings out every spark of virile force in man. Signor B. did not linger with us but hastily took his leave, and, as the hour was late, I followed his example within the next few minutes. The pavement was wet with rain, the air damp and cool. My rooms were but a few steps off, and I had barely reached them and settled myself for a smoke when the bell rang, and, upon opening the front door. upon the threshold I found Signer B., pale and partly exhausted. He excused himself for troubling me but asked for a glass of water. I made him enter, and after he had drunk the water and rested awhile, we went to conversing about occult subjects and kept it up for a long time. I found him ready to talk about art, literature or science, but extremely reticent about occult science and his personal experience in psychical development. He explained, however, that all the races of elemental spirits are controllable by man, when his innate divine potencies are developed : his will then becoming an irresistible force before which all inferior, that is every elemental force, whether organised as entities or brute, blind cosmic agents, are compelled to yield. I had seen no black smoke actually pouring out of the moon, that was a simple illusion produced by the concentration of his thought upon her surface, but I had certainly seen clouds form out of the moonlit sky and rain fall, and he commended the fact to me for reflection. But now he gave me a bit of advice which fairly astonished me. I had seen him on the best of terms with H. P. B., talking in the most friendly and unreserved way about Italy, Garibaldi, Mazzini, the Carbonari, the Eastern and Western adepts, etc., and matching phenomena, like the trick of the white butterflies, and I certainly had reason to be amazed when, putting on an air of mystery, he warned me to break off my intimacy with her. He said she was a very wicked and dangerous woman, and would bring some terrible calamity upon me if I allowed myself to fall under her malign spell. This — he said — he was ordered by the great Master, whose name I had heard him pronounce to H P. B., to tell me. I looked at the man to see if I could detect the concealed meaning of this preposterous speech, and finally said : " Well, Signer, I know that the Personage you mention exists ; I have every reason, after seeing your phenomena, to suspect that you have relations with him or with the Brotherhood ; I am ready, even to the sacrifice of my life, to obey his behests ; and now I demand that you give me a certain sign by which I shall know, positively and without room for the least doubt, that Madame Blavatsky is the devil you depict, and that the Master's will is that my acquaintance with her shall cease." The Italian hesitated, stammered out something incoherent, and turned the conversation. Though he could draw inky clouds out of the moon, he could not throw black doubt into my heart about my friend and guide through the mazy intricacies of occult science. The next time I saw H. P. B. I told her about B.'s warning, whereupon she smiled, said I had nicely passed through that little test, and wrote a note to Signer B. to " forget the way to her door." Which he did.  



OUT of the sea of controversy into which H. P. B. and I were plunged by my Graphic letters and my book ; Mr. Owen's article on Katie King and his interleaved disclaimer, in the January (1875) Atlantic Monthly ; General Lippitt's contributions to the Galaxy {Ji& cember, 1874) and the Banner of Light ; the attacks upon and defences of the Holmes mediums ; and the universal discussion of Spiritualism in the American and European press, — were churned certain precious things: among them, the forcing of Eastern occult ideas upon Western attention, and the birth of the Theosophical Society.

To refute the mendacious stories of Mahatma meddlings and attendant phenomena, and show the natural stages by which the Society came into being, we must glance at the earlier letters written to the press by its two actual pioneers and parents (of which I have an incomplete set of copies). The details may be dry, but they are important as historical data. 

As already explained, the self-advertising attack of the late Dr. George M. Beard — an electropathic physician of New York city — upon the Eddys, and his wild and false assertion that he could imitate the form-apparitions with "three dollars' worth of draperỵ" lashed H. P. B. into a Berserker writing-rage and made her send the Graphic that caustic reply, covering a bet of $500 that he could not make good his boast, which first acquainted the American public with her existence and name. Naturally, people took sides ; the friends of Spiritualism and the mediums siding with H. P. B., while the oppo nents, especially the materialistically inclined scientists. ranged themselves in the cohort of Dr. Beard's supporters. The one who profited by the dispute was Beard, whose ruse — worthy of Pears. Beecham, or Siegel — advertised him and his electricity beyond his expectations. Profiting by the chance, he gave a thoroughly well advertised lecture on this subject, and another, if I remember aright, upon Mesmerism and Thought-reading, at the New York Academy of Music. The Banner of Light, the R. P. Journal and other papers, commenting upon H. P. B."s anti-Beard letter, she replied, and so, vers speedily found herself with her hands full of controversy. As I said before, she took up the position of an out-and-out Spiritualist, who not only believed but know that the powers behind the mediums. which wrote, produced physical phenomena, talked in air-formed voices,  and even showed their entire forms and disconnected faces, hands, feet or other members, were the earth haunting spirits of the dead ; neither more nor less. In a previous chapter I quoted passages from her published letters and articles going to prove this, and in her very first letter to me, written from New York within a week after she left me at Chittenden (October, 1864) address ing me as " Dear Friend " and signing herself " Jack," and in her second one, dated six days later and signed " Jack Blavatsky," she entreats me not to praise the me diumistic musical performance of one Jesse Sheppard, whose pretence to having sung before the Czar, and other boasts she had discovered to be absolutely false ; as such a course on my part would " injure Spiritualism more than anything else in the world." * "I speak to you," she tells me, " as a true friend to yourself and (as a) Spiritualist anxious to save Spiritualism from a danger." In the same letter, referring to a promise given her by " Mayflower " and " George Dix," two of the alleged spirit-controls of Horatio Eddy, that they would help her by influencing the judge before whom was pending her lawsuit to recover the money put into the Long Island market-garden copartnership — she says : " Mayflower was right, Judge came in with another decision in my favour." Did she believe, then, that medium controlling spirits could and would influence justices? If not, what does her language imply? Either she was a Spiritualist, or so represented herself for the time being, with the ulterior design of gradually shifting Spiritualists from the Western to the Eastern platform of belief in regard to the mediumistic phenomena. In her anti-Beard letter (N. Y. Daily Graphic, Nov. 13, 1874), she says — speaking of the incident of the bringing to her by the "spirits" of Horatio Eddy, of a decoration-buckle that had been buried with her father's body, at Stavropol — " I deem it my duty as a Spiritualist to," etc., etc.

* Led by his unlucky star, Sheppard — she writes — had brought her a lot of his St. Petersburgh credentials, in Russian, to translate. Among them she found a Police license to sing at the Salle Koch, a low lager-bier saloon and dance hall, resorted to by dissipated characters of both sexes, and a music-master's bills for 32 roubles, for teaching him certain Russian songs — which we heard him sing at Eddy's, in a dark sιance when he was ostensibly under the control of Grisi and Lablache ! I give the facts on her authority without prejudice.  

 Later on, she told me that the outburst of mediumistic phenomena had been caused by the Brotherhood of Adepts as an evolutionary agency, and I embodied this idea in a phrase in my book {P.O. W., p. 454, top), suggesting the thinkable hypothesis that such might be the fact. But then, in that case, the spiritualistic outbreak could not be regarded as absolutely maleficent, as some Theosophical extremists have depicted it ; for it is in conceivable — at least to me, who knew them — that those Elder Brothers of Humanity would ever employ, even for the good of the race, an agency in itself absolutely bad. The Jesuit motto. Finis coronat opus, is not written on the temple walls of the Fraternity.

In the same number of the Daily Graphic to which she contributed her anti-Beard letter, was published her biography, from notes furnished by herself. She says, " In 1858, I returned to Paris and made the acquaintance of Daniel Home, the Spiritualist . . . Home converted me to Spiritualism . . . After this I went to Russia. I converted my father to Spiritualism." In an article defending the Holmes mediums from the treacherous attack of their ex-partner and show-manager, Dr. Child, she speaks of Spiritualism as "our belief " and '''our cause "; and again, " the whole belief of us Spiritualists " ; still further, " if we Spiritualists are to be laughed at, and scoffed, and ridiculed, and sneered at, we ought to know at least the reason why." Certainly; and some of her surviving colleagues might profitably keep it in mind. In the Spiritual Scientist of March 8, 1875, she says that a certain thing would "go towards showing that, notwithstanding the divine truth of our faith (Spiritualism) and the teachings of our invisible guardians (the spirits of the circles), some Spiritualists have not profited by them, to learn impartiality and justice."

This was both courageous and magnanimous on her part ; thoroughly characteristic of the way in which she flung herself in the forefront of battle for any cause that she took up. Her sympathies for liberty and free thought led her to follow, with several other ladies, the victory-bringing flag of Garibaldi, the Liberator, and to plunge into the thick of the carnage at Mentana; and so now, when she saw the Spiritual Idea battling against Materialistic Science, no fear of contamination by contact with fraudulent mediums, evil spirits, or cliques of Spiritualists who preached and practised free-love and the breaking of healthy social bonds, made her hesitate for one moment about taking her stand on the side of Spiritualism. Her policy may be condemned by some, her language — as seen in the few specimens, out of many, above quoted — be regarded as a full endorsement of the very Spiritualism she afterwards so mercilessly criticised ; but to judge her fairly, one must try and put himself beside her under the then existing conditions ; he must try to realise how much she knew, both in theory and practise, about psychical phenomena that the world need to know before casting itself into the lethal stream of Materialism. Many of us would have used much more guarded language, and thus avoided leaving behind us such a tangle of contradictions and confusion ; but then she was exceptional in every respect — in mental and psychical powers, in temperament and in method of controversy. One object of this narrative is to show that, with all human frailties and eccentricities that may be ascribed to her, she was a great, high-towering personage, who did a great altruistic work for the world, and was rewarded with savage ingratitude and blinded depreciation.

Her instructions to me about the existence of the elemental spirit world went on — as before noted — space with our private intercourse with (alleged) rapping spirits, and so, long before I had adopted the Eastern theory of Pisachas and Bhatas, called by us elementaries,*

* In point of fact, both of us used to call the spirits of the elements "elementaries," thus causing much confusion, but when Isis was being written, I suggested that we should employ the distinctive terms "elemental" and "elementary" in the connections they have ever since had. It is too late to change them now, else I should do it.  

I had come to distinguish the two unlike classes of phenomena-working agents, the sub-human nature-spirits, and the earth-bound, ex-human elementaries. Towards the close of the winter season of 1874-5, while at Hartford seeing my book through the press, but too late to re-write it, I had the rare chance of consulting the superb collection of books on the occult sciences in the Watkinson Library of Reference, made for it by Dr. H. C. Trumbull, the erudite Librarian. I was thus pretty well prepared to understand H. P. B.'s verbal explanations, and her many surprising psychical phenomena in illustration of them. This course of preparatory reading, lectures, and phenomena also stood me in good stead when she addressed herself to the laborious task of writing Isis Unveiled, and enlisted me as her helper.

It was in the first quarter of the year 1875, that we became interested in the Spiritual Scientist, a small but bright and independent journal, published and edited in Boston, by Mr. E. Gerry Brown. The crying need of the hour was a paper which, while recognised as an organ of Spiritualism, could be induced to help in bringing Spiritualists to scrutinise more closely the behaviour and pretended psychical gifts of their mediums, and to patiently listen to the theories of spirit being and intercourse with the living. The older journals of that class were, what might be termed too orthodox, while Mr. Brown's specialty seemed to be to win his way by fearless criticism of abuses. Our relations with him were brought about by a letter to him (Spi. Set., March 8, 1875), and within the next month he had been taken under the favour of the powers behind H. P. B. In the number of the journal in question for April 17th, appeared a very notable circular headed " Important to Spiritualists." The importance of it to Mr. Gerry Brown was in the promise (fairly redeemed) * it embodied of literary and pecuniary help to be given him, while to the public which concerned itself in the question of Spiritualism, it held out the profitable idea that the paper would be used as the organ of the new movement for placing American Spiritualism on a more philosophical and intellectual basis. The circular stated that the leading Spiritualist papers were "compelled to devote most of their space to communications of a trivial and purely personal character, interesting only to the friends of the spirits sending them . . . " and to beginners. The London Spiritualist and Paris Revue Spirite were cited as "examples of the kind of paper that should have been established in this country (U. S. A.) long ago — papers which devote more space to the discussion of principles, the teaching of philosophy, and the display of conservative critical ability, than to the mere publication of the thousand-and-one minor occurrences of . . . cir cles.''

* Professor Buchanan, Epes Sargent, Charles Sotheran and other known writers, not to mention our two selves, began contributing to his columns, and H.P.B. and I gave him several hundred dollars to wards current expenses. The latter form of help was acknowledged in his "leader" of June I, 1875, entitled " Rock Bottom,"

 The third paragraph read as follows :

" It is the standing reproach of American Spiritualism that it teaches so few things worthy of a thoughtful man's attention : that so few of its phenomena occur under conditions satisfactory to men of scientific training ; that the propagation of its doctrines is in the hands of so many ignorant, if not positively vicious, persons; and that it offers, in exchange for the orderly arrangements of prevailing religious creeds, nothing but an undigested system of present and future moral and social relations and accountability." *

* I was then and have since often been reproached by Spiritualists for the severity of my strictures upon the prevalent large admixture of immoral views and behaviour among mediums and whole groups of pretended Spiritualists, but I never wrote more caustic things about them than are to be found in the newspaper articles and books of leading writers among themselves. To say nothing of the sweeping and savage depreciation of the whole company of his brother mediums and psychics, by that peacock medium, Home, Mrs. Hardinge Britten says (Nineteenth Century Miracles, p. 426), that her spirit guides had told her that "the worst foes of Spiritualism would be of its own household, and the cruellest stabs directed against it would be dealt by the hands of Spiritualists themselves." In another place she says: "and thus this great cause, like many another of the world's purest Messiahs, has been lifted up on the cross of martyrdom between the thieves of licentiousness and cu pidity " ; if it had not died out, " it is not for lack of every available effort on the part of humanity to sap its integrity by internal corruption, as well as by external antagonism. . . ." Free-love "had expanded from an incipient germ to the full maturity of  a widespread movement. . . The monstrous flow of licentious doctrine, often illustrated by monstrous licentiousness of life and conduct, which for a certain period of time, spread like an evil contagion throughout the United States, cast a most unjust and ruinous ill-odor over the reputation and belief of tens of thousands of innocent person," etc. I never wrote anything as strong as that; though even Mrs. Britten has not exaggerated the unsavoury condition of affairs produced by the unrestricted encouragement of intercourse between the living and the dead. To regulate this intercourse, to announce its perils, and to show what was true spiritualism, and how man can develop true spirituality, was plainly H.P.B's design and her motive for declaring herself a Spiritualist. This will be evident, I think, to those who follow her course throughout to the day of her death.

I wrote every word of this circular myself, alone corrected the printer's proofs, and paid for the printing. That is to say, nobody dictated a word that I should say, nor interpolated any words or sentences, nor controlled my action in any visible way. I wrote it to carry out the expressed wishes of the Masters that we — H. P. B. and I — should help the Editor of the Scientist at what was to him, a difficult crisis, and used my best judgment as to the language most suitable for the pur pose. When the circular was in type at the printer's and I had corrected the proofs, and changed the arrangement of the matter into its final paragraphs, I enquired of H. P. B. (by letter) if she thought I had better issue it anonymously or append my name. She replied that it was the wish of the Masters that it should be signed thus : " For the Committee of Seven, BROTHERHOOD OF LUXOR." And so it was signed and published. She subsequently explained that our work, and much more of the same kind, was being supervised by a Committee of seven Adepts belonging to the group of the Universal Mystic Brotherhood.* 

* It has been already explained that 1 first worked under the Egyptian part of the African section and later under the Indian section.

  Up to this time she had not even seen the circular, but now I took one to her myself and she began to read it attentively. Presently she laughed, and told me to read the acrostic made by the initials of the six paragraphs. To my amazement, I found that they spelt the name under which I knew the (Egyptian) adept under whose orders I was then studying and working. Later, I received a certificate, written in gold ink, on a thick green paper, to the effect that I was attached to this "Observatory," and that three (named) Masters had me under scrutiny. Tliis title. Brotherhood of Luxor, was pilfered by the schemers who started, several years later, the gudgeontrap called " The H. B. of I." 'I'he existence of the real Lodge is mentioned in Kenneth Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopedia (p. 461).   

Nothing in my early occult experience during this H. P. B. epoch, made a deeper impression on my mind than the above acrostic. It proved to me that space was no bar to the transmission of thought-suggestions from the teacher's to the pupil's brain ; and it supported the theory that, in the doing of world-work, the agent may often be actually led by overseeing directors to do things which they choose to have done, without his being at all conscious that his mind is not functioning under the sole impulse of its controlling Ego. Applying this not unreasonable or unscientific theory to the whole history of the Theosophical Society, who can say in what proportion of cases any of us has been unconsciously doing what had to be done, but might not have been done if no external influence had given us the push? And how many of the wretched mistakes, missteps, and injurious eccentricities that have occurred, or been shown, by either of us, were due to our just being left to follow our own wrong impulses, the result of our temperaments, ignorance, moral weakness or bigoted prejudices? People often wonder why the various scandals, such as the Coulomb and lesser ones which we have had to suffer from, were not foreseen and prevented by the Masters ; why H. P. B. was not forewarned of what traitors would do ; and why, in the seemingly most serious crisis, no help came, no spiritual guide appeared. Of course, such questions imply the absurdity that Mahatmas, who implicilty believe in and govern their own actions by the strict rules of Karma, would take us, like so many puppets on wires, or so many poodles being taught tricks, and put us through set motions, to the meddling with our Karma, and the consequent interference with our rights. What the evolution of society needs at a particular juncture is, perhaps, that a certain person should do, write, or say a certain thing which, once done, brings after it a whole train of consequences. If that necessary thing involves no Karmic wrong to the individual, the mental impulse to do it may be given him, and so the sequences of cause and effect be begotten. The destinies of Europe, for example, are under the control of three or four men, who might meet together in a boating party and in the same boat. If some certain trifle should occur, then such a kingdom would ultimately be destroyed, such a dynasty develop into a scourge of the race, or such an era of peace and progress be entered upon. If either the one or the other be demanded at that juncture by the interests of all mankind, and no other means are available for precipitating the crisis, then I could conceive it as lawful for the mental suggestion to be made from without : or, take a simpler case, which is also historical. A point had been reached in the progress of Egyptology where the world needed a better clue than it had for reading the hieroglyphics : in the literature of that ancient civilisation lay great and precious truths — truths, the time to republish which had arrived. All other means failing, an Arab labourer is simply moved to dig at a certain spot, or break open a certain sarcophagus ; he finds an engraved stone or an inscribed papyrus ; which he sells to Mr. Grey, at Thebes, in 1820, or to Signer Casati, at Karnak or Luxor ; who, in turn, transmit it to Champollion, or Young, or Ebers ; who find the missing clue, and with it decipher very important old writings. It is the helping, not the fratricidal, hand that these hidden benefactors of ours hold out to humanity. Or, to cite a case much nearer home : I am moved to buy a paper on a certain day ; I read a certain thing in it ; which prompts me to take a natural step ;   which, later, brings H. P. B. and myself together ; which, after a while, evolves the Theosophical Society and its consequences. For taking the initial step, I reap no merit ; but if the effect is a good one, and I merge myself into it, and work for it with unselfish fervour, then I do share in the whole benefit that that effect imparts to humanity. I saw some poor people at Galle, once, reaching up their hands to touch the baskets of food which richer neighbours had procured for and were bearing on their heads to a company of Buddhist monks. Upon inquiry I was told that, by feeling a true sympathy for the deed of charity, they partook of the merit it involved. It meant more than a long sermon to me, and I embodied the idea in my Buddhist Catechism.

I found among my papers last week an old letter from the Hon. Alexander Aksakoff, of St. Petersburgh, which though probably not one of those which were so phenomenally abstracted from the mailbags en route to New York and delivered to me in Philadelphia, since it is dated in St. Petersburgh the 4-16th April, 1875, and must have reached me after my visit to H. P. B. was finished, contains a lead-pencil postscript on the fourth page in the quaint handwriting of "John King." He tells me that my correspondent "is a truly good man and a learned one, too" — facts which are now acknowledged universally. Having lost or given away the envelope, I cannot fix the exact date of the letter's arrival. In it, M. Aksakoff informs me that, after reading my Graphic letters and noting their effect in the two hemispheres, he is convinced of the absolute necessity for an exhaustive inquiry into the phenomena, by the best men of science. He asks me if I cannot organise such a committee, and tells me what has been done in Russia. There are four professors of eminence, in as many different Universities, who have, in committee, gone thoroughly into the matter and satisfied themselves of the reality of the phenomena ; if I choose, these scientific gentlemen will send me a joint appeal to their American colleagues, to do as they have done, and thus settle, once and for all, the most important problem that man has to solve for his own sake and for the welfare of the race. Of course, this was exactly the motive which had prompted my undertaking the Eddy researches, but I found the obstacles presented, in the ignorant and brutish obstinacy of the mediums and their whole corps of "guides," insurmountable, and recorded the fact in my book. I was a little amused to read, in a Postscript written two days later than his letter, that M. Aksakoff, who had meanwhile finished reading H. P. B.'s Russian translation of my book, said it was plain that an orderly scientific search with such people as mediums was impossible, and begged me to consider his plan as cancelled. The matter did not drop there, however, for our correspondence was kept up, and resulted in H. P. B. and I being asked to serve as a committee to select a trustworthy medium to be sent over to St. Petersburgh, for trial and testing by a Special Committee of Professors of the St. Petersburgh Imperial University. We accepted the commission, and our joint card announcing the fact to the public appeared in the Spiritual Scientist of July S, 1S75 — as far as I can make out from the confused way in which the newspaper-cuttings are pasted in our Scrap-Book, Vol. I. At all events, in the journal of that day was published a translation of Mr. Aksakoff's letter to H. P. B. broaching the subject, thus :

" My prayer to you and Col. Olcott is as follows : Will you be so kind as to translate into English the enclosed 'Appeal to Mediums "... consult together and report to us [the Imperial Society of Experimen talists in Physics] whom, of American mediums we had better invite to St. Petersburgh in the best interests of the Cause ? For our first experiments we should prefer having mediums for simple but strong physical manifestations in the light. Use all your influence to get us good mediums, begin the work at once and advise me without loss of time. Bear in mind that money is no object with us," etc.

Naturally enough this letter drew out a good many applications, and we personally tested the mediumship of several of the parties, seeing some extremely surprising phenomena, and some really beautiful. Its appearance was seized upon by certain impudent impostors to give a public show of pretended mediumship at the Boston Theatre, on a Sunday evening in the same July, advertising themselves as engaged to go to Russia. We exposed and repudiated them in a card sent, July 19, 1875, to all the Boston papers.  



BY common consent the Western public have as sumed that professional mediums, whose food and lodging depend upon their constant ability to produce psychical phenomena when patrons come to see the same, are greatly tempted in emergencies to supplement real ones with fraudulent imitations. Poor, almost without an exception ; often invalids, yet obliged to support children and perhaps lazy or disabled husbands ; their incomes extremely precarious, at best, because the mediumistic state depends upon psycho-physiological as well as atmospheric conditions beyond their control, it is not strange that, under the pressure of quarter-day or some other dire necessity, their moral sense should become blunted. Naturally they yield to the temptation flung at them by credulous visitors, who, apparently, ask nothing better than to pay to be duped. At any rate, that is how professional mediums have explained it to me. They have told me their miserable life-histories, how the fatal gift of mediumship embittered their childhood, made them shunned and persecuted by their schoolmates, sought after and run down by the curious, caused them to be used as a drawing sensation by travelling showmen, to the profit of their own parents (vide the tragical story of the Eddy children as told by them to me, in P. O. W., chapter II.), and developed the seeds of hysteria, phthisis, or scrofula, to the ruin of their health. Mrs. Hardinge Britten, than whom nobody has known more of mediums and mediumship, told me in New York, in 1875, that she had seldom or ever known a medium who was not of a scrofulous or phthisical temperament, and medical observation shows, I believe, that derangements of the reproductive organs are quite common among them. Genuine mediumship, promiscuously practised, is, I fear, a serious physical danger, to say nothing as regards its effect morally. Every physician tells us that to sleep in an ill-ventilated room in company with a mixed company of persons, some perhaps diseased, is most dangerous and may prove fatal. But this risk is nothing as compared with that run by the poor public medium, who has to tolerate the presence and be soaked in the magnetic aura of all comers, be they morally or physically diseased or healthy : gross, sensual, irreligious, unspiritual, brutish inhabitual thought, word, or deed, or the opposite. Alas! poor things, theirs is a psychical prostitution. Thrice happy such as can develop and practise their psychical gifts in the pure surroundings of a select and superior company : so were Temple seeresses guarded in the ancient times.

  The above remarks are pertinent to the line of inquiry that H. P. B. and I had undertaken, at M. Aksakoif 's request, on behalf of the St. Petersburgh scientific committee. While we realised that we should have to choose among professionals, it not being likely that any private medium would consent to the publicity and annoyance of such an ordeal, we determined that we should be thoroughly satisfied of the real and reasonably available psychical powers of the male or female medium we should ultimately recommend. M. Aksakoff's desire that preference should be given to those whose phenomena could be shown " in the light," was most reasonable, for thus the chance of successful trickery is minimised ; yet there were then — and are now, for that matter — few mediums who could count upon anything of a very striking character happening at their seances by daylight. Our choice would have been narrowed down to two or three like C. H. Foster, or Dr. Slade, who were equally indifferent whether they sat by day or night since their successes in giving " tests of spirit identity " were tolerably certain. We decided, therefore, to find a good medium at any rate, whether he or she came quite up to M. Aksakoff's ideal or not. Our inquiries extended over several months, to the May of 1876, if I am not mistaken, and as I may as well finish with this episode, now that it is taken up, even though it breaks in upon the chronological sequence of events in T, S. history, I shall recall the successive stages of the St. Petersburgh mediumistic inquiry as best I can.

  In the summer of 1875, a woman named Youngs was practising mediumship for a livelihood at New York. She was, as I dimly recall her, a largely built person, of obstreperous manners and strong physical as well as psychical powers. Her tone of bullying towards her "guides in Spirit Land " was in amusing contrast with the honeyed accents commonly used by most mediums towards the invisibles. " Now, then, spirits." she would say, "don't be lazy : hurry up ; what are you about ? Move the piano, or do this or that. Come, we are all waitting ! "And so it they did, as though obedient to her will. Her chief phenomenon was the causing of the spirits to raise a full-sized, heavy piano and making it tilt forward and backward in time to her playing of airs upon it. I heard of her and thought I would get H. P. B. to go with me and see what she could do. She consented, so I put into my pocket three things, to be used as new tests of her mediumship, a raw egg and two English walnuts, the experimental value of which will be presently seen. Fortunately I am not obliged to rely wholly upon memory, since I find a cutting from the New York Sun of September 4, 1875. giving an accurate account of the seance and of my tests. Fifteen persons were present. The Sun reporter says :  

"The performance began with the lifting of the piano by invisible powers, three times for "yes" and once for 'no,' in answer to questions put by Mrs. Youngs, she resting her hands lightly on top of the music-rack. She then sat down and played various airs, and the instrument rose and fell and beat the time. She then went to one end of the piano and called up Colonel Olcott, and as many more of the others as chose to make the experiment, and, causing each to place his left hand underneath the case, laid one of her hands lightly under it, whereupon, at her demand, the end of the heavy instrument [He says elsewhere that he, the reporter, 'could not lift one end of it,' so great was its weight] was lifted off the floor without the slightest effort on her part. The Colonel here asked to be permitted to make a single test which should not injure the medium at all. Mrs. Youngs consenting, he produced a hen's egg from a box, and asked her to hold it in her hand against the underside of the piano, and then request the spirits to raise it. The medium said that, in the course of her mediumship, such a test had never been suggested, and she could not say it would be successful, but she would try. She took the egg and held it as desired, and then rapping upon the case with her other hand, asked the spirits to see what they could do. Instantly the piano rose as before, and was held for a moment suspended in the air. The novel and striking experiment was a complete success.

" Mrs. Youngs then asked as many of the heaviest persons in the room as could sit on the instrument to mount it, and the invitation being accepted by seven ladies and gentlemen, she played a march, and the instrument, persons and all, were lifted easily. Colonel Olcott now produced a couple of English walnuts, and asked the spirits to crack the shells under the piano legs without   crushing the kernels, the idea being to show that some power beyond the one woman herself, and a power governed by intelligence, was exerting itself. The spirits were willing, but as the piano legs rested upon rolling casters the test was abandoned. He then asked to be permitted to hold an egg in his own hand against the underside of the piano, and have Mrs. Youngs lay her hand beneath and against his, so that he might have a perfect demonstration of the fact that no muscular force whatever was being exerted by her. This test was also agreed to and immediately tried. The piano rose the same as before. The manifestations of the evening were then brought to a close with the lifting of the instrument without the medium's hands touching it at all."

This was certainly a very striking manifestation of psycho-dynamical power. Not only was a seven-and-a half-octave piano, too heavy for one man to lift endwise, raised without the least expenditure of muscular force by the medium or any other living person present, and in a fully lighted room, but an intelligent comprehension of requests and compliance with them was demonstrated. Let us admit that the medium's intelligence was alone in play, still we have the problem of how she could transform her thought, first into will and then into active force. The final test of making her lay her hand beneath mine, which held the egg, and then cause the ponderous instrument to rise as lightly as a feather, contrary to the law of gravity, was to me, as well as to H. P. B.' conclusive proof of her mediumistic gift, and we made her a conditional offer to recommend her to M. Aksakoff. The condition was that she should subject herself to a series of harmless yet convincing tests, the successful passing of which would warrant us in thoroughly endorsing her. She, however, declined the offer on account of the long voyage and her unwillingness to leave her country to go among foreigners. I do not know what became of her, but I heard that she adopted my egg test as her stock demonstration of her true mediumship. There was very little spirituality about it, but a good deal of revolutionising physics, that I thought might stagger Professor Mendeleyeff and his brother scientists.  

Continue >>>