[Lucifer, Vol. III, No. 17, January, 1889, pp. 359, 431, 435]
Kindly condescending to notice, and even to review (!!) our December number of Lucifer, the Saturday Review, in its issue of December 22nd, 1888, writes as follows in reference to a story called “Accursed,” translated from the Russian:—“. . . . there came a thunderstorm and the cross was knocked off by lightning. . . . That same flash knocked off all the letters (of the deceased woman’s name) except the first two of Acsenia, the first two and the fourth of Cuprianovna, and the first three of Sedminska, which spell ‘Accursed.’ ‘This coincidence,’ observes Vera Jelihovsky, the author, ‘was stranger than all!’” “But it was stranger still,” remarks the sagacious critic in the Saturday Review. . . . “that the lightning should have spoken English when the defunct sinner was some kind of Pole.”
And this remark, we may say, in our turn, is stranger still. Had the story been originally written in English, it might have necessitated some explanation with regard to such linguistic capacity on the part of the lightning. As the story, however, first appeared in Russian, in the St. Petersburg Grajdanine, whence it was translated by us with the author’s permission, it does not require an excessive amount of very ordinary penetration to guess that the name had to be changed in order to be adapted to the English word “accursed.” Had we written the word “proklyata,” the Russian for “accursed,” the “coincidence” would have had no meaning. The story is half fiction, both in the original and in the translation; but it is based on a true and historical fact, as explained at its close. But since the real names had to
be withheld, any names would do in order to set forth the strange and to this day inexplicable fact, which has become since its occurrence one of the prominent legends of the country where it happened.
[The following notes are appended by H. P. B. to her translation of a French letter received from Madame Camille Lemaître on the subject of what Theosophy and the Theosophical Society should be. The first note refers to the Scriptural parable of scattering the seeds and their falling on stony or fertile ground:]
This is just the policy of the T. S. from its beginning. Its visible leaders are unable to always distinguish the good from the bad, to see still dormant evil in the hearts of those who apply to join our Society, and the real Founders—those behind the screen—will denounce or accuse no living man. All are given a chance. Gladly would our Society abolish even the small entrance fee, had it any funds, however small, to carry on the work which increases daily, and many branches have already done so. For several years no initiation fees were paid; but our scanty and even joint means were found insufficient to maintain the Headquarters, pay the stationery, and the ever-increasing postage, and feed and lodge all those who volunteered to work gratis for theosophy. Thus, the fees were re-established. Other Societies beg for, and are given, large sums of money, but the T. S. never does. Nevertheless, the taunt that the Founders sell Theosophy, creating Theosophists for £1 or twenty shillings, a head, is being repeatedly thrust into our faces! And yet the poor are never made to pay anything at all. And if those who have the means will refuse to help to do good to the disinherited and the suffering, what are those who have given all they had, and have nothing now to give but their services, to do?
[The closing note has reference to various dangers to which the incautious student is exposed, who is desirous to acquire magical powers:]
It is to preserve Theosophists from such dangers that the “Esoteric Section” of the T.S. has been founded
Its Preliminary Rules and Bylaws prove that the way to the acquisition of occult powers and the conquest of the secrets of Nature leads through the Golgotha and the Crucifixion of the personal self. The selfish and the faint-hearted need not apply.
[The translation of Madame Camille Lemaître’s Letter, together with H. P. B.’s comments, was also published in Theosophical Siftings (T.P.S.), Vol. II, 1889-90. London: The Theosophical Publishing Society, 7, Duke Street, Adelphi, W.C.]