Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky - by Archibald Keightley
First published in The Theosophical Quarterly (New York), October 1910, pp. 109-122.
Those who knew Mme. Blavatsky at all are divided into two opposing camps: there is no third party of indifference. Such is the penalty of force of character, and even her enemies could not deny that to Mme. Blavatsky. Even among her friends are some who shake their heads over what they call the Blavatsky or "H. P. B. Legend." These have arrived at their conclusion by way of much analysis, by submitting all they knew of Mme. Blavatsky to cold criticism. They examine her life from the point of view of motive — not the motive of what she strove to accomplish, of that message which she brought to the world — but from the point of view of self-interest, of the personal advantage which she might obtain by her actions and words. Yet some of these "legend" propounders would call themselves her friends and regard the position Mme. Blavatsky might have gained by self-advertisement as the object of her work, in place of the spread of what she taught being advanced at the expense of all she held dear. Such results must arise from an analysis of possibly self-interested motive as a brief method of estimating human beings, in place of the more difficult task of a synthesis drawn from character. Such detractors, by whatever motive they may be actuated, only make an analysis of acts and words which they misunderstood, and, self-sacrifice being beyond them, they are confined to the narrow limit of self-interest for the moving urgencies of human life. They do not judge from an integrating synthesis of character as displayed in adherence to objects held up to others as ideals. Looking back now to a period twenty years ago, I have seen nothing which has caused me to alter the opinion I then formed, but much which has confirmed it. Mme. Blavatsky was among the great souls who sacrifice themselves for humanity, and as such, she was held up to derision and scorn. I do not assert that she was omniscient or that she never made errors when dealing with men and women around her. But I do most sincerely say that she never wilfully injured anyone; that she was always ready to lay aside her won comfort and advantage for the sake of another; that vigorous and impulsive as the human side of her was, she was essentially straight and just towards others; and that the motive for her actions was so true to spiritual law that her errors and mistakes (if they were such) were better guides than the most accurately reasoned judgment of her "candid friends." At least I may say that I am quite sure that I would have trusted the ordering of my life to her, knowing the confidence would not be betrayed from any point of view. Many of us did: I can only add that I wish I had been able to go further than I did.
The first time I ever saw Mme. Blavatsky was in 1884, shortly after I had joined the Theosophical Society. A meeting had been called and was being held in the chambers of a member in Lincoln’s Inn. The reason for the meeting lay in differences of opinion between Mr. Sinnett on the one hand and Mrs. Kingsford and Mr. Maitland on the other. Colonel Olcott was in the chair and endeavored to adjust the differences of opinion, but without success. By him were seated the contending parties, Mohini M. Chatterji and one or two others, facing a long narrow room which was nearly filled with members of the Society. The dispute proceeded, waxing warm, and the room steadily filled, the seat next to me being occupied by a stout lady who had just arrived, very much out of breath. At the moment some one at the head of the room alluded to some action of Mme. Blavatsky’s, to which the stout lady gave confirmation in the words "That’s so." At this point the meeting broke up in confusion, everybody ran anyhow to the stout lady, while Mohini arrived at her feet on his knees. Finally she was taken up to the end of the room where the "high gods" had been enthroned, exclaiming and protesting in several tongues in the same sentence and the meeting tried to continue. However, it had to adjourn itself and so far as I know, it never reassembled. Next day I was presented to Mme. Blavatsky, who was my stout neighbor of the meeting. Her arrival was totally unexpected and her departure from Paris was, she told me long afterwards, only arranged "under orders" half an hour before she left. She arrived at Charing Cross without knowing the place of meeting, only knowing she had to attend it. "I followed my occult nose," she told me, and by this means got from the station to Lincoln’s Inn and found her way to the rooms on foot. Her arrival was singularly opportune, for it broke up a meeting which declined to be peaceful, in spite of all the oil which Colonel Olcott was pouring on its troubled waters. Mme. Blavatsky returned to Paris almost immediately and I did not see her again until she returned to London to stay in Elgin Crescent. Of that time I have no clear remembrance. I was busy all day, and many evenings was unable to be present at the causeries which were then held. I did not keep a diary and I was much occupied with hospital work. That autumn circumstances caused Mme. Blavatsky to take rooms in Victoria Road shortly before she left London for Birkenhead, to go to India. I then had the privilege of staying in the house with her and others, and each evening we had great times of talk and queries, the detail of which I do not remember. So I did not make use of opportunities and advantages which were mine and cannot relate things which would be of very great interest to this narrative. I remember travelling with the party by the Great Western Railway to Birkenhead to see them off and vaguely recall hearing of some traitorous people who were attacking Mme. Blavatsky and whom she had trusted. This evidently was the earliest rumbling of the storm which was so soon to burst.
Then came the general work of the Theosophical Society, which was interrupted by the explosion caused by the report of the Society for Psychical Research, drawn up by Dr. Hodgson, Mme. Blavatsky was assailed on all sides and the doubt cast upon the phenomena associated with her was considered to discredit the ethical and moral teaching which through her means and work had been placed before the world. I heard the resume of the report read at the meeting and afterwards read the report as issued. Both at the meeting where the resume was read and afterwards when I read the report it struck me as a very inconclusive document, one based on hearsay evidence, and evidence which was tainted and doubtful and on evidence which was not properly tested. It did not have weight against fully authenticated evidence of a direct nature which supported Mme. Blavatsky. At the time she had returned to Europe by way of Italy and I afterwards heard of her at Elberfeld and at Wurzburg and then at Ostend and that she was in very seriously bad health and busily engaged in writing the Secret Doctrine.
It was in 1886 that the position of affairs in England induced me, among several others, to write to Mme. Blavatsky at Ostend to ask advice as to what should be done to further the work. She sent a long reply to me and, I believe, to the others also, and at a later date in consequence of that letter I went to Ostend to see her. She was then living in the company of Countess Wachtmeister, to whom those who loved Mme. Blavatsky owe a deep debt of gratitude for her devoted care.
My purpose in going to Ostend was, as I say, to see Mme. Blavatsky and to ask her advice as to the best way of carrying on the work of the Theosophical Society. She had replied to our letters saying that the work could be done, and to myself she had written that such work needed a leader and an unflinching will and determination on the part of that leader. She had also stated, on the opinion of one of her occult friends whom she consulted, that it was possible that I could be such a leader and could do it. Thus I naturally wished to see her and to have her advice and assistance on the means to be adopted. I really had no idea as to what could best be done and I wished to avoid unnecessary errors at the outset. When I look back on the methods of those who came forward to "save the Society" at different times, I fancy that in going to Ostend I avoided one of their dangers, for almost invariably one of their proposed means of salvation was to throw overboard and disavow the founders of the Society. I was then and am now fully convinced that the Society was founded by the Masters of Wisdom, whose messenger and agent for the purpose was H. P. Blavatsky.
I had purposed to stay at the hotel, and, leaving my luggage, I went to call. I purposed, but Mme. Blavatsky disposed, and I very soon found myself made to stay in the same house with her. Mme. Blavatsky was very busy with her book, writing articles for Russian papers, by which she supported herself, and answering her voluminous correspondence. I was handed a huge package of MSS. — a quantity which by after experience would have made one of the volumes afterwards printed — and asked what I thought of it. It was naturally of absorbing interest and I spent many hours over it. The few days which I spent in Ostend — two or three — were mainly occupied with this reading and in efforts to follow the intention of the book — The Secret Doctrine. In its form at that time it was a series of essays of the greatest interest and information, but, as it seemed to me, it had no consecutive plan. It was a chaos of possibilities, but by no means a void, even if it was without form. The days were busy. I was given breakfast, but Mme. Blavatsky and the Countess had their coffee in their rooms. Then I set to work on the MSS., while Mme. Blavatsky worked in her own room and was invisible till a later hour of the afternoon. She might come out for her dinner, but her meals were the despair of her maid who prepared them, for they were very moveable feasts. In the evening she emerged and then came talk on her proposed visit to England, the work to be done there, on the Secret Doctrine, and on general subjects. Most of the evening, while talking, she played her "patiences," talking as she arranged her cards. Of the calumnies against her she said very little -- singularly little, it seemed to me, in view of what I had heard and knew of her character — and with a reserve and dignity which commanded my respect and admiration. As for the object of my visit; she would come to England, but she could fix no time. As for the "S. P. R." report, it was "a back number" and all in the day’s work, though it was clear that she had deeply felt the defection of many who had had the best reasons for trusting her. So I returned to England and we began to look for places to which she might come. Ten days after my return we were startled by the news that she was most seriously ill and that recovery was improbable, well-nigh impossible. With each report the situation grew more grave.
It was Sunday, and another of our group, who had invited her, a medical man, went with me to ask advice from a leading London specialist. That evening our friend left for Ostend, where matters hung in the balance for a few days. The "impossible" happened and he returned with the news that the crisis was over. In a short time Mme. Blavatsky announced that she was free to come to England.
At this time I again crossed to Ostend, following a relative who had preceded me, and we arranged for her journey and safely conveyed her over to Dover and thence to Maycot in Norwood. The journey promised to be difficult, for Mme. Blavatsky was still a very sick woman and found it very difficult to move about. Also, though the start at Ostend was comparatively easy, it was very different on arrival at Dover, where the poor old lady had to be carried at low tide up the steep and more or less slippery steps of the pier; also the crossing had not been smooth.
The evening we arrived was busy. No time was to be lost and her writing materials had to be got ready that evening for her start at work the following morning. She was at her desk as usual and there was considerable trouble because all her books were not yet unpacked. Naturally the one wanted was the last of the batch, but such was fate and all in the day’s work. For me, life was one long wrestle in the mazes of the Secret Doctrine, with the effort to suggest a grouping and arrangement and the correction of the foreign turns of language, at the same time retaining Mme. Blavatsky’s very distinctive style. The task was rendered all the more difficult by the absolute indifference of the author. "Make it as you see best, my dear," was the almost invariable reply, and the matter was not made any better by the others called in to help. They insisted that the original language was to be left unaltered, so that readers of the book might have the chance of taking their choice of the writer’s meaning. Meanwhile the said writer threatened me with the direst pains and penalties if it was not put into "right English." Naturally I preferred the "deep sea" of Mme. Blavatsky’s favour. Living abroad as she had been, her brain was full of language idioms other than English, and the result of her writing the book in English was a literal translation of "foreign" idioms, with most surprising results.
It was no very long time before Mme. Blavatsky’s presence began to be felt. People began to gather round her, and Maycot because the scene of the pilgrimage of a good many people who had retained their interest. There were many who had got into touch with the inner side of life. These at least knew that Mme. Blavatsky was a reality. They knew that whatever doubt might be thrown on the account of the way external phenomena happened, the real knowledge of the unseen worlds and states of consciousness was possessed by Mme. Blavatsky and that in those realms of which they had some cognizance, Mme. Blavatsky was their master, and knew far more than they. It was a remarkable experience to see those who came. Some had private interviews: others were received in company with us who lived in the house. And the method of treatment! At times argumentative: at others sarcastic: very rarely appealing for credence of justice: always the same driving energy which spared neither herself nor any other who might in any way further her Master’s work. No matter what their separate interests might be, Mme. Blavatsky was a uniting link. For the most part they were all being welded together into a united body whose support could give to her a platform which should gain consideration for the Theosophical philosophy; and it was her mission to obtain a hearing for this in the western world.
The nominal day began for Mme. Blavatsky before 7 a.m. When it really began I do not know. The body had to have its sleep, for it could not be driven too hard. But I had reason to believe that many hours of the night were spent in writing, though this never interfered with her usual hour to get to her desk. She was invisible till she called for her midday meal. I say midday, but it was a very movable meal and might be called for at any hour between twelve and four, a proceeding which naturally disconcerted a cook. Woe betide any disturber of those hours of work, for the more quiet she was, the more seriously she was engaged. Thereafter came callers, whom she might or might not see, if they had no appointment, and of these she made many. But Maycot was a long way out of London proper, and we had to face the disappointed pilgrims! Finally at 6:30 came for Mme. Blavatsky the evening meal, which was taken in company with the rest of us. The table cleared, came tobacco and talk, especially the former, though there was plenty of the latter. I wish I had the memory and the power to relate those talks. All things under the sun and some others, too, were discussed. Here was a mind stored with information gathered in very extensive travels, an experience of life and experience of things of an "unseen nature," and with it all an acuteness of perception which brought out the real and the true and applied to it a touchstone which "proved the perfect mass." Of one thing Mme. Blavatsky was intolerant — cant and sham and of hypocrisy. For these she had no mercy; but for genuine effort, however mistaken, she would spare no trouble to give advice and readjustment. She was genuine in all her dealings, but I learned then and later that she at times had to remain silent in order that others might gain experience and knowledge, even if in gaining it they at times deceived themselves. I never knew her to state what was not true; but I knew she had sometimes to keep silence, because those who interrogated her had no right to the information. And in those cases, I afterwards learned that she was accused of deliberate untruth. One of her regrets comes to my mind as I write: "for then you will know that I have never, never deceived anybody, though I have often been compelled to let them deceive themselves." In all senses Mme. Blavatsky held that "There is no religion higher than Truth," and the position in which she was thus placed must have been one of the many phases of her martyrdom.
The evenings passed in such talks, and all the while she arranged her "patiences." Many were the games at which I thus assisted in silence, gently indicating any opportunities which I saw of placing the cards. Sometimes these were acceptable, but at others, peaceful progress was interrupted by the effort to rap the disturbing finger on the table with her knuckles. There were times when an adroit withdrawal of the finger led to the knuckles rapping the table, and then "on my head" was it. Among other things which I learned was the fact that while Solitaire occupied the brain, H.P.B. was engaged in very different work, and that Mme. Blavatsky could play Solitaire, take part in a conversation going on around her among us others, attend to what we used to call "upstairs" and also see what was going on in her own room and other places in the house and out of it, at one and the same time.
It was at one of these tobacco parliaments that Mme. Blavatsky stated her difficulty in getting her views expressed in the Theosophist. This was the magazine which she had started with Colonel Olcott in India. It was under his charge and he edited it in India and not unnaturally he conducted it on his own lines. But with the commencement of Mme. Blavatsky’s work in England a more immediate expression of her views became a matter of importance. So a new magazine was proposed and decided on and steps were taken to secure its publication. Oh, but there were discussions as to its title! "Truth," "Torch," and a variety of others were offered as suggestions and rejected. Then came the "Light-bringer" and finally "Lucifer," as an abbreviation. But this was most vehemently opposed by some as being too diabolical and too much opposed to les convenances. Perish the word! This secured its instant acceptance, and those who read the first number of Lucifer, and also that part of the Secret Doctrine which deals with the Fallen Angels, may see for themselves the information which those discussions gained for us out of Mme. Blavatsky’s inner consciousness. Even if it was not planned from the outset, the result was to reveal a fund of information of vital interest in dealing with the mystery of Manas.
The gathering together of many threads which led to the coming to Mme. Blavatsky at Norwood of those interested in spiritualism, Masonic lore, the Kabbalah, astrology and many kindred subjects, proved that Maycot was too far distant from central London and that it was also too small. So a move was decided on, and with the return of Countess Wachtmeister the household was moved to 17 Lansdowne Road.
Then followed a time of still more arduous work. The editing of Lucifer, the work on the Secret Doctrine, of which I copied the entire first volume and part of the second on a typewriter (only to find it useless), the coming of interested callers in numbers and from all parts of England and the continent, with the formation of the Blavatsky Lodge and its meetings, made a very busy winter. The Secret Doctrine began to be printed and in this and in Lucifer Mme. Blavatsky’s idiosyncrasy of regarding page-proof as being equivalent to manuscript, led to much argument and expense. It was not merely that she would divide a page after the type was all locked in the forms and insert a quantity of fresh matter, but she would with much care and precision of scissors cut out and then paste in a single sentence in an entirely different place. Woe betide the zealous sub-editor who protested on behalf of the printers and the provision of funds. "Off with his head" or his metaphysical scalp were the orders of the Queen of our wonderland. Nevertheless the account for corrections of the Secret Doctrine came to more than the original cost of setting up!
The Blavatsky Lodge was originally started as a body of people who were prepared to follow H.P.B. implicitly and a Pledge embodying this was drawn up. We all took it and the meetings began. Every Thursday evening they were held in Mme. Blavatsky’s room, which was thrown into one with the dining room. Members flocked in, so that the rooms were too small, the interest being in the questions which were printed in "Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge." At this time the increase in membership was such that those who entered signed the roll of membership and the Pledge almost mechanically. I was led to write an article for Lucifer, entitled "The Meaning of a Pledge" and I handed it to Mme. Blavatsky. When she had read it through I was subjected to what I have since learned is called epilation, for I was divested of my scalp hair by hair. Exactly why I did not know, nor was I told. But when the process was finished somebody "upstairs" or "within" accepted the article and was rather pleased with it as being timely. But the result was the removal of the Pledge as a condition of membership in the Lodge.
The procedure under such circumstances is worth recalling. You would, as I did, present your thesis or remarks. It would be received vehemently, be opposed with a variety of eloquence — an eloquence calculated to upset your balance, and the impression given that you were a most evilly designing person, aiming to upset some of Mme. Blavatsky’s most cherished plans of work. But with your sincerity of purpose becoming plain, there would come a change in Mme. Blavatsky. Her manner would change, even the expression of her face. "Sound and fury" evaporated, she became very quiet, and even her face seemed to become larger, more massive and solid. Every point you raised was considered and into her eyes — those wonderful eyes — came the look we learned to recognize. That look was one to be earned as a reward, for it meant that the heart had been searched and that guile was not found, also that H.P.B. was in charge.
Some people have advanced as a theory to account for these changes, that Mme. Blavatsky was the scene of mediumistic oscillations or that, at least, she was the scene of action of not merely double but of multiple personality. These suggestions are really the wildest of hypotheses — much less, working hypotheses. To those who know the laws which govern the relation of the physical instrument to the subtle astral and spiritual forces which dominate it, the explanation is simple. But I will put forward my own theory. For the purposes of the theosophical work that body was an instrument used by one of the Masters, known to us as H.P.B. When he had to attend to other business, the instrument was left in charge of one of his pupils or friends, who ran the body as an engineer directs his machine when taking duty for another. But the substitute engineer has not the same sympathy with his machine or instrument as the regular man and is "outside the machine." I conceive that, just as the engineer and his machine overcome the inertia of matter, so the body and its tendencies proved no light task to control in the absence of the real owner and head engineer. And a certain letting off of steam was the result. But the energy was not wasted but used up in the work.
It must be remembered that during all this time of stress and effort Mme. Blavatsky was still a sick woman, always suffering pain and often hardly able to walk. But her inflexible will and devotion got her from her bed to her writing table and enabled her to persist in the carrying through the press of the Secret Doctrine, to edit Lucifer, write her Russian articles and those for Lucifer, the Theosophist, the Path, when it came out, Le Lotus Bleu, to receive her visitors both in private and in public, and in addition to deal with an enormous private correspondence. It was at this time I got seedy. I got a form of erysipelas with high fever, and had to stay in bed. It so happened that Mme. Blavatsky had made a progress up two flights of fairly steep stairs (she who never went up a step if it could be helped, on account of the pain so caused) and had arrived to judge for herself of her doctor’s report of me. She sat and looked at me, and then she talked while she held a glass of water between her hands, and this water I afterwards drank: then she went downstairs again, bidding me to follow.
Down I went and was made to lie on the couch in her room and covered up. I lay there half asleep while she worked away at her writing, sitting at her table in her big chair, with her back towards me. How long I was there I do not know, but suddenly just past my head went a flash of deep crimson lightning. I started, not unnaturally, and was saluted through the back of the chair with "Lie down, what for do you take any notice?" I did so and went to sleep and, after I had been sent upstairs to bed, I again went to sleep and next morning was quite well, if a little shaky. Then I was packed off to Richmond and forbidden to return till I was strong. This was the only time I saw the crimson light, though I have seen, and others saw, the pale blue light attached to some objects in the room and then flitting about. One of us rashly touched it one day when Mme. Blavatsky was in the next room. He got an electric shock and was also electrified by sounds of wrath from Mme. Blavatsky, greeting him by name and asking what on earth he meant by meddling with what he had no business to touch and by making an impertinently curious intrusion into matters with which he had no concern. I am sure he had not forgotten either the shock or rap to his knuckles or the rap to his curiosity. I know he remembered the shock to his arm for a long time.
The meetings of the Blavatsky Lodge were out of the ordinary. The discussions were out of the ordinary. The discussions were informal and all sat round and asked questions of Mme. Blavatsky. All sorts and conditions of men and women were present and one part of our delight was for Mme. Blavatsky to reply by the Socratic method — ask another question and seek information on her own account. It was a very effective method and frequently confounded the setter of the conundrum. If it was a genuine search for information which dictated the question, she would spare no pains to give all information in her power. But if the matter was put forward to annoy her or puzzle, the business resulted badly for the questioner. The meetings took up a lot of time, but Mme. Blavatsky enjoyed the contest of wits. All nations would be represented in those rooms on Thursday nights, and one could never tell who would be present. Sometimes there would be unseen visitors, seen by some but not by others of us. Results were curious. Mme. Blavatsky felt the cold very much and her room was therefore kept very warm, so much so that at the meetings it was unpleasantly hot very often. One night before the meeting time, I came downstairs to find the room like an ice-house, though fire and lights were fully on. I called H.P.B.’s attention to this, but was greeted with a laugh and "Oh, I have had a friend of mine here to see me and he forgot to remove his atmosphere." Another time I remember that the rooms gradually filled until there was no vacant seat. On the sofa sat a distinguished Hindu, in full panoply of turban and dress. The discussion proceeded and apparently our distinguished guest was much interested, for he seemed to follow intelligently the remarks of each speaker. The President of the Lodge arrived that night very late, and coming in looked around for a seat. He walked up to the sofa and sat down — right in the middle of the distinguished Hindu, who promptly, and with some surprise, fizzled and vanished!
During this winter affairs had been moving in America and there had been a gradually increasing interest in things Theosophical. Mr. Judge’s steadfast work began to take effect and it was proposed to gather all the threads together and hold a Convention of the various Branches and members in Chicago. I heard of the mere fact as one of general interest but a day or two after I was called to Mme. Blavatsky’s room and asked "Arch, when can you start for America"? I suppose I was like a pussy-cat and needed stirring up, but I was off in three days by the City of Rome and took with me a long letter from Mme. Blavatsky to the Convention. The voyage was an odd experience for me, as I had never been on an ocean trip before or to such a distance. Also I had been torn up by the roots out of a busy life, which occupied every moment. On board in my cabin my attention was attracted to a number of little taps and cracks. These might naturally be due to the ship. But my attention was enforced to a series of little flashes of light, especially at night. The point to me was that these flashes and also these taps and cracks invariably associated themselves in my mind with the idea of H.P.B., and by this time I had begun to learn that most of the "happenings" meant something. Afterwards by letter, and later when I returned, I found she could tell me accurately what I had been doing during my journey to and from and throughout my stay in America. I was told that these taps and cracks and flashes were the coming and going of elemental forms of force which took a snapshot of me and my proceedings. On my return the household proved to have increased very considerably. More workers had gathered round and there was work for them all to do. Life went on at increasing pressure, each of us having a special relation to H.P.B., each receiving a different treatment. Tot homines, quot sententiae, and the variations of daily routine and life were all adapted to the testing and strengthening repair of any defect in character which might affect the work we were doing. As I look back to over twenty years ago, one can see so many privileges which were extended, but of which one failed to avail oneself. But such reflections only show the arduous work in which Mme. Blavatsky was engaged. Though the Secret Doctrine was now published, there was the regular demand from the various magazines, besides an increase in her already voluminous correspondence.
It was about this time that one day Mme. Blavatsky showed great concern over the affairs of the editor of one of the magazines then published. He had been to see her some time before and had thereafter started the magazine. It had met with considerable success, but naturally had also met with difficulties. Entering her room one day I found Mme. Blavatsky discussing with the others present and with much sympathy, the difficulties of the editor. So far as I remember now, he had sacrificed a good deal of position and his means of support, in order to bring out the magazine; and in consequence of issuing the recent number was in actual want of food. The discussion continued and Mme. Blavatsky grew very silent. At last she exclaimed, "Well, I will," and turned to me, asking if I had a L 5 note. I replied that I had not, but could easily send for one. Then I remembered that I had just sent one away in a letter and went to see if the letter was still in the house. I found it had not yet been posted and opening the envelope I brought it to H.P.B. She thanked me and said she only wanted it for a few moments. I offered it to her but she told me to retain it and to fold it closely, which I did. She then asked for her tobacco basket and handing this to me asked me to put the rolled-up note inside. I put it in but she said I was to bury it in the tobacco. I placed it on the arm of her chair at the end. She then rested her hand on the basket and apparently went into "a brown study," while the rest of us went on talking, I watching her closely. In a minute or so she said with a sigh "open it and take your note." So I took the basket and opened it and took the note which I unfolded, only to find a second note with a different number rolled up inside. The second note was sent to the editor and I hope it proved as efficient in relieving his troubles as Mme. Blavatsky intended it should be.
I afterwards asked why she needed my note, when she could as easily have precipitated her note without it. She replied "There is your mistake. I had to get my friend to disintegrate the note at his end of the line, while it was easier for me to have a mould on which to pour the disintegrated particles of matter and it did not require so precise an astral picture on my part." I then asked why and how she could get such notes and was given to understand that under certain circumstances of merit she had the right to call on certain funds and on certain centres in charge of her occult friends for such aid for others. The precipitated note was of an entirely different number and series from mine and was in no sense a reduplication: that would have been dishonest and therefore impossible for H.P.B.
As nearly as I can recall it was during this winter that we had a visit from Mr. Judge. I had met him before in America and at Mr. Sinnett’s house, where he dined when passing through London on his way to Fontainebleau (where Mme. Blavatsky then was in 1884) on his way to India. It was only a brief visit but it was concerned with the work he was doing in America, where in consonance with Mme. Blavatsky’s efforts in England, he was working to revive the spread of Theosophy in America. Just at this time, too, there was beginning to be formed the Esoteric School of Theosophy. With this Mr. Judge had a good deal to do and assisted Mme. Blavatsky in drawing up the rules which were necessary and in carrying into organization and external expression those regulations which essentially belong to the inner, unseen life of man. Then and afterwards, while H.P.B. was always chief, she alluded to Mr. Judge as her chief aid.
The following spring I again had to go to the American Convention, but there are no especial incidents to relate. On my return I found that Mme. Blavatsky had been away for a time and during her absence had commenced the writing of the Voice of the Silence. She was also engaged on the Theosophical Glossary and had begun the Key to Theosophy, though this was published much later. Life went on at the same high pressure of work and it was evident that Mme. Blavatsky’s work was in the act of solidifying around her a very wide field of interest. At the close of this summer I was obliged to leave London on account of a relative’s health and departed to New Zealand. Therefore I was not present when a very great stir and accession of energy resulted in the decision to remove from Lansdowne Road to the house at Avenue Road. I returned to find the preparations for a move already so far advanced that a week after my return the move was made. It resulted in a still larger activity for Mme. Blavatsky, for she had a larger staff of helpers and a lecture hall had been built to give room for the meetings of the Blavatsky Lodge. More office room was required, as the house had now become the headquarters of the European Section, for the British Section was now no longer the only European organization of the Society. With increased numbers came a strain on the commissariat department and therefore the new lecture hall became the household refectory in the intervals of the meetings. Mme. Blavatsky still had her meals in her own rooms, but when her hours of work were over she would come and join in the general talk during the evening and play her patiences as in former times. The preparation of Mme. Blavatsky’s meals became a part of the devoted service of certain members of the household. It was to be a privilege to so aid her to secure good sustenance, and might prove a gain to her health. All she wanted was so easy to prepare and very simple. So it was, but her devotion to her work and forgetfulness of time, made the service very difficult. One has to remember that Mme. Blavatsky’s health was very poor, her rheumatism was very painful and her digestion difficult. The body needed food very quickly after the driving energy of H.P.B. had been taken off. It was driven mercilessly and in its broken state the instrument reacted, sometimes to the amusement of H.P.B. I gathered that some of H.P.B.’s friends and pupils were left in charge of it and that it ran away sometimes. But this "running away" was utilized both in the education of her friends of the interior worlds in the exercise of a difficult control, and in the testing of the self-control and devotion of the household who sought to serve Mme. Blavatsky.
As ever, early at work, word would be given that she wanted her dinner at one o’clock, but she must not be disturbed til she rang. One o’clock would come — and go: as also two o’clock (even three, some days) and still no bell. By such time the simple dinner, being simple, was irretrievably spoiled. Just then the bell would ring and the body needed its food in a hurry. And then, to all appearance, the body was a fractious invalid — very fractious! It complained very forcibly, with a rare command of language, and bitterly, of the broken promises of those who had faithfully promised that the dinner would be ready. Tearful protestations and explanations ensued with further promises of a fresh dinner in a very few minutes and great was the striving to get ready. Then usually it became my privilege to brew some coffee on a machine I had got for her and kept ready, the process of which she seemed never to tire of watching. With the coffee to drink and some rusks to eat the exhaustion passed and the despised dinner (or some other got ready) would reappear and the storm centre would shift. But though she was perfectly jolly, laughing and amused the while I entertained her, the thunderstorm would roll up again with the return of the devoted dinner-maker. Even the weakness of the bodily ailments were turned to the testing of the devotee and the ability to "stand fire." I was not in the area of these storms, it was not for me, "I was another kind of a hairpin." In the meantime I had the pleasure of being of help, until coffee taken, dinner consumed, I was told to "get out" and H.P.B. was off to work again.
With the close of that summer I had to leave England again, going by way of New Zealand to San Francisco where I had letters from H.P.B. and did the work I had to do. Then returning on the way home I arrived at New York and was detained there by the illness of the relative I was with; and on May 8, 1891, received the news of Mme. Blavatsky passing from this life.
In these brief notes and reminiscences there is no pretence to give a full account. It would demand a far abler and deeper spiritual understanding than mine to write a life of H.P.B. All I can testify to is that she knew no weariness in the cause to which she was devoted; that she was noble in every sense of the word; that those who had opportunity to know her loved her, and that she was worthy of all their devotion. What we were able to give in the cause she served was returned many times over. But it was not for what she so freely gave that H.P.B. was loved. It was for what she was and what she represented. And with that, all is said.