TO ALL THEOSOPHISTS “THE ESOTERIC SECTION OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY”AND ITS ENEMIES.*
This is neither a private nor a confidential document, and thus will not be productive of treachery. The undersigned—save a few occult truths which she is pledged not to reveal—has no secrets, no desire to create mysteries, and is willing to let the whole world see her private and inner life. She fears nothing, and is ready to face every enemy and slanderer of hers, and bids him or her, to do his worst. She has nothing to dread from truth.
As it has now become evident that our most dangerous enemies are within not without the Theosophical Society, it is time to put an end to this.
Nor is it less evident that Professor Elliott Coues, though the President of the Gnostic Branch of the T.S., calling himself a Theosophist—yet seeks by all means, fair or foul, to upset the “Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society,” —the only legitimate and legal Occult Body in the Society—by trying to discredit the “Head” of that Section, the undersigned. It is useless for the present to explain why Dr. Coues does it, though his motives are quite plain to many and especially to the writer of this. Theosophical charity in the heart of every true Theosophist must urge him to eschew reprisals and never to return evil for evil, so long as truth damaging to his enemies can be withheld without danger
* [This text was published as a separate pamphlet of 16 pages, dated London, June 21, 1889; the type and format are identical with those of the magazine Lucifer. Only a couple of copies of this pamphlet are known to exist, and they are in private hands. The present reprint has been reproduced from one of them.—Compiler.]
to the cause. Full explanation is, therefore, postponed. I will speak only of his last letter to me further on, which will perhaps explain such a sudden persecution of me by Dr. Coues, who professed friendship in all his letters up to a few days before the Convention of the T.S. (American Section) in Chicago.
Meanwhile the following is offered by the undersigned to the consideration of all the Members of the T.S. whom it may concern.
For years past, H. P. Blavatsky has been urged to give esoteric instructions to Theosophists anxious to study the occult sciences, till at last, yielding to the persistent entreaties she consented to do so. “The Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society” was formed under the orders of the President-Founder, in October, 1888, in London, and duly announced in Lucifer. As said therein, the formation of a body of esoteric students was “organised on the ORIGINAL LINES devised by the real Founders of the T.S.”
Now this Section, while entailing upon H.P. Blavatsky, as all its members know, much additional labour and an immense weight of responsibility, is not of the smallest advantage or benefit to herself in any way whatever. On the contrary, its formation has become from the first the pretext for new persecutions and slanders against her. She therefore feels it right that a clear alternative should be placed before the Members of the Esoteric Section, as well as such other persons as may be affected:—
Either H. P. Blavatsky does possess “Knowledge” and can teach what many earnestly desire to learn, or she cannot. In the first case, those who desire her teaching must have confidence in her and believe that she has something to teach, otherwise why should they come to her to be taught at all? In the second, if anyone has doubts, let him leave the ESOTERIC SECTION if already a member, or abstain from joining it if he is not. As already said, H. P. Blavatsky gaining nothing but an increase of labour and responsibility with every new member who joins, the benefit is all on their side; and far from conferring a favour, those who place themselves under her teaching are rather the recipients of one from her.
To help earnest and well-meaning Theosophists, H. P. Blavatsky is ever ready; and she will work for them and the Society, as long as she has life left in her. But she has no desire to force her teachings upon outsiders, and thereby to desecrate the sacred science by giving it out to those who through recent slanders may have lost faith in her; or again, such—if any exist—as are ready to betray their pledge and word of honour by forming secret understandings with our enemies.
These facts are the more important, since Prof. Elliott Coues, though he never belonged in any capacity to the ESOTERIC SECTION of the T.S. yet proclaims himself Perpetual President of the Esoteric Theosophical Society of America,” of which no one connected with the General Council of the T.S., in India, or the Founders know anything. And it is this unwarranted claim, probably, that led some member of the “Esoteric Section of the T.S.,” under the direction of the undersigned, to mistake Professor Coues for a member thereof, and then to give him or Colonel Bundy, of the R.-P. J., of Chicago, a document emanating from the Council of the E.S. Though of no importance whatever and containing only some advice which might have been given out publicly, yet, since the document was marked “Esoteric Section,” the member who gave it to an outsider, from whatever motive, has broken his pledge and been untrue to his “sacred word of honour.”
It is also Dr. Coues, probably, who furnished to the R.-P.J. for publication the copy of the Rules and Pledge of the E.S. which had been sent to him, although they are marked private and confidential. It is not that these papers were ever intended to be kept secret, since they are sent to every member of the T.S. who applies, and the Journal has only rendered us service by making them so widely known; but that any gentleman should publish papers marked private and confidential is an act best left to the world to characterise as it deserves.
In view of this, and considering that:—
(1.) The only Esoteric Section or body which exists in the Theosophical Society is the one duly authorised and
recognised by the President-Founder, Colonel H. S. Olcott; and—
(2.) That Professor Elliott Coues has self-constituted himself “perpetual President” of an Esoteric body.*
(3.) Professor Coues shows himself desirous of casting a slur both upon H. P. Blavatsky personally, and upon the Section of which she is the Head, in order to destroy one through the other. Therefore, the following alternative is now laid plainly and publicly before all the members of the “Esoteric Section of the T.S.”
Do you still desire to be taught by H. P. Blavatsky, as to whose occult “knowledge” the Instructions already in your hands are some evidence? Or do you prefer to follow Prof. Elliott Coues—whose knowledge of biology, ornithology, etc., makes of him a very eminent scientist, but whose knowledge of Occultism five years ago, when he was in Europe, amounted to nil?
The question is thus put in a nutshell. Do you want to study ancient Occultism, or modern Hypnotism; esoteric philosophy—whose doctrines may be traced thousands of years back, throughout Eastern literature—or, the “working hypotheses” of modern Psychic Researchers?
This choice is now no longer based on the query: “Do the Mahatmas exist,” or are they, as very theosophically put by Dr. Coues, simply a HOAX of H. P. Blavatsky. The questions, whether the teachers are an actuality or an ideal, and H. P. Blavatsky a truthful woman, or an old fraud, a vixen endowed with every vice, retire in view of the plain alternative into the background, or, at any rate, to a secondary plane; nor will the above-named personage stoop to debate the mooted problem. The really important fact to ascertain is simply whether H. P. Blavatsky is, or is not, possessed of the occult knowledge, whose source was hitherto attributed to the teaching of the MASTERS. The answer is
* Everyone has a right to found an “Esoteric Society”—whether he has anything to teach or not—Professor Elliott Coues, as much as Professor Hiram E. Butler. But neither of them has any right to append to the name the words “of the Theosophical Society.”
easy and self-evident. If the TEACHERS whom she claims to know, do not exist, then every bit of philosophy from the earliest Esoteric Buddhism, down to the latest Secret Doctrine, in short, every tenet of the Occult Sciences taught and learnt in the T.S., comes from her; this, whether she has invented it all, or acquired the knowledge by some mysterious means. Turn it whichever way you will, the fact remains the same for the Theosophists—she is the origin, the fountainhead, of all the esoteric knowledge they have learned or may learn. Whether she be the source, or only the modest channel, as claimed by her, H.P. Blavatsky has the means and the necessary knowledge to teach.
It is for those eager to learn to decide whether the waters of knowledge offered are good and pure enough for them. Those whose attention is directed chiefly to the mud and stones thrown at and into the said waters, are at liberty to refuse them, and are earnestly asked to do so. Let them pronounce their decision and send back their papers and they will forthwith be set free.
It is therefore only for the benefit of those who desire to go on with the Instructions that the undersigned appends her answers, as well as the published letters of a few other witnesses in Light (Vide the issue of June the 8th). Light on the Path has just been made the pretext by Dr. Elliott Coues and “Miss Mabel Collins” for a new and very ugly slander against H. P. Blavatsky. Now since that priceless little treatise occupies a very prominent position in Theosophical literature, especially among those who desire to tread that path, it is absolutely necessary that no further misunderstanding should exist on this matter, as it was to facilitate the entrance to the said path that the ESOTERIC SECTION of the T.S. was founded. It is thought, therefore, necessary to make the following correspondence as widely known as possible among Theosophists, and especially among members of the ESOTERIC SECTION. The necessity of this step is much to be regretted; but the utterly baseless and unprovoked attack of Professor Coues and Miss Mabel Collins on that Section, and upon H. P. Blavatsky, has rendered imperative the plainest statement of facts in reply. Out of respect for old associations and still more out of the
general unwillingness of our best members to turn our MAGAZINE into a tub for washing dirty theosophical linen, I shrank from republishing the facts in Lucifer. But now, here they are in toto. Let the Theosophists judge for themselves.
EXTRACTS FROM “LUCIFER,” “LIGHT,” AND ELSEWHERE.
Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot
That it do singe yourself.
He who tells a lie, is not sensible how great a task he understakes, for he must be forced to invent twenty more to maintain that one.
A NEW AND GROSS SLANDER.
This is what we said in Lucifer:—
Grotesque contrasts and paradoxes are the very pith of our age. We might, therefore, permitting ourselves for once to follow suit, publish under the above title certain very untheosophical activities. But we prefer to leave the pages of our Lucifer untainted with the recital of untheosophical backbiting, malicious calumnies and attempts to ruin our character. Those who would learn our answer (and that of trustworthy witnesses) to the slanders that find such a ready hospitality in a spiritual organ of America, are invited to turn to Light of June 1st, and June 8th, 1889.
All attacks would have been ignored and never mentioned could they without danger to the Theosophical Society, but be relegated by us to that common pit of oblivion, in which
* [Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, London, 1727, Vol. II, p. 345.—Compiler.]
crawl and hiss, struggling to come to light, all the venomous monsters bred by calumny, envy, hatred, and revenge—most of them the progeny, alas, of those who, once upon a time, took pride in calling themselves, Theosophists(!!)
The old truism, that they whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad, is once more vindicated. Calumnies are effective only on the condition that they should not be so readily refuted. It is easy enough to bear false witness against one who is unable to establish an undeniable alibi. It is as easy for a traducer to charge a person with having said or done that or the other, at a date when the accused and the accuser were both in the same country, if not in the same town. The credibility and likelihood of such accusations become, however, rather shaky if the accused party can furnish precise dates—awkward things to deal with—corroborated by numbers of persons to the effect that at the date mentioned he was 10,000 miles away, and did not even hold any correspondence with the accusing party. “One lie must be thatched with another, or truth will soon rain through,” says a proverb.
The London Light, always fair to all, was forced to publish—or rather to republish from the Chicago Religio-Phil. Journal—a very strange letter. We may even say two letters in one, as the reader will see for himself. We call it “strange” because it is so transparent in its animus, so very imprudent and so easily refuted that both the writers—intellectual, and hoary with life-experience as they really are—seem to give themselves entirely away for a mere song, for the pleasure, one would almost say, of inflicting an ugly scratch, whether it reaches the person aimed at, or simply produces a commotion among the innocent and the credulous ones who believe all they read. So evident are the motives of this joint production—spite and revenge—that, were we certain that no true theosophist would be thereby affected, we would have never gone out of our way to refute the silly invention. It seems almost undignified to even notice it, but truth had to be shown at all costs.
And this is the cutting from the R.-P. J. that was sent to us a few days ago, and referred to above. The reader will please notice the underlined passages.
A LITTLE MORE “LIGHT ON THE PATH” FOR YOUR BENEFIT.
SIR:—In 1885 appeared a strange little book entitled: Light on the Path: A treatise written for the personal use of those who are ignorant of the Eastern Wisdom, and who desire to enter within its influence. Written down by M.C., Fellow of the Theosophical Society. The author is Mabel Collins, until lately one of the editors of Lucifer. The book is a gem of pure spirituality, and appears to me, as to many others, to symbolize much mystic truth. It has gone through numberless editions, and is used by faithful Theosophists much as orthodox sinners use their prayer-book. This happened mainly * because “Light on the Path” was supposed to have been dictated to Mrs. Collins by “Koot Hoomi,” or some other Hindu adept who held the Theosophical Society in the hollow of his masterly hand.
I liked the little book so much that I wrote Mrs. Collins a letter, praising it and asking her about its real source. She promptly replied, in her own handwriting, to the effect that “Light on the Path” was inspired or dictated from the source above indicated. This was about four years ago; since which time nothing passed between Mrs. Collins and myself until yesterday, when I unexpectedly received the following letter. I was not surprised at the new light it threw on the pathway of the Theosophical Society, for late developments respecting that singular result of Madame Blavatsky’s now famous hoax left me nothing to wonder at. I cabled Mrs. Collins yesterday for permission to use her letter at my discretion. Her cablegram from London reached me this morning, saying, “Use my letter as you please. Mabel Collins.” So here is the letter.
April 18th, 1889.
34, Clarendon Road, Holland Park,
DEAR SIR:—I feel I have a duty to write to you on a difficult and (to me) painful subject, and that I must not delay it any longer.
You will remember writing to me to ask me who was the inspirer of “Light on the Path.” If you had not been yourself acquainted with Madame Blavatsky I should despair of making you even understand my conduct. Of course I ought to have answered the letter without showing it to any one else; but at that time I was both studying Madame Blavatsky and studying under her. I knew nothing then of the mysteries of the Theosophical Society, and I was puzzled why you should write to me in such a way. I took the letter to her; the result was that I wrote the answer at her dictation. I did not do this by her orders; I have never
* The word “mainly” does not sound very complimentary to the author “Mrs. Collins.”––[ED.]
been under her orders. But I have done one or two things because she begged and implored me to; and this I did for that reason. So far as I can remember I wrote you that I had received “Light on the Path” from one of the Masters who guide Madame Blavatsky. I wish to ease my conscience now by saying that I wrote this from no knowledge of my own, but merely to please her; and that I now see I was very wrong in doing so. I ought further to state that “Light on the Path” was not to my knowledge inspired by any one; but that I saw it written on the walls of a place I visit spiritually (which is described in the “Blossom and the Fruit”)—there I read it and I wrote it down. I have myself never received proof of the existence of any Master though I believe (as always) that the mahatmic force must exist.
Yes, Mabel, the “mahatmic force” does exist. It exists in every great soul like yours. There is no need of a word of mine further. It is Helena P. Blavatsky’s turn to speak next.
1726 N St., Washington, D.C., May 3, 1889.
Yes, Elliott Coues, “it is Helena P. Blavatsky’s turn to speak” now; and she will. She begins by declaring that every one of the statements contained in the above double letter is malicious and false—from first to last. It is not her word only she gives for it. She is not popular enough to be believed by the outside public on that alone. But she will furnish dates, as aforesaid, and show the absolute impossibility of this new charge brought against her.
These are the accusations, and here are the answers.
1. Dr. Elliott Coues states that Light on the Path “was supposed to have been dictated to Mrs. Collins by ‘Koot-Hoomi or some other Hindu adept’,” etc.
Answer. No Theosophist known personally to Mme. Blavatsky—or any one else probably—has ever attributed that little work to “Koot-Hoomi” or any other Hindu Adept. On the contrary, as we are informed by those in a position to know best, and also the immediate friends of Mrs. Mabel Cook-Collins, who saw her almost daily after its publication—its inspiration was always ascribed to quite another person, who was never “a Hindu.” This inspirer, whom “Miss Mabel Collins” described, without naming him, to
many of her friends and to Mme. Blavatsky herself, was undeniably recognized by the latter; but, although an old friend, she would certainly never call him her “Master.”
Moreover, Dr. E. Coues, the President of the Gnostic Th. Soc., ought to know that the “inspirer” of “Light on the Path” is not the same “great soul” on whom he (Prof. E. Coues) has fathered his No. 5 of the “Biogen Series.” * Has the erudite Professor of the Smithsonian Institute connected the said old work with “Koothomi’s” name to “please” H. P. Blavatsky, too; and has she also “begged and implored” him to do so?
2. It is in consequence of the alleged “inspiration” that Prof. Coues wrote, as he himself tells us, his first letter of inquiry to Mabel Collins (Mrs. Cook) FOUR YEARS AGO, “since which time,” he adds, “nothing passed between Mrs. Collins and myself.”
Answer. This is a very important admission, and one, that with the object in view (namely, to throw a little additional mud on “his friend,” H. P. Blavatsky) will prove an unfortunate lapsus calami for Dr. Coues. The facts are these.
The incriminated party left India after six years of sojourn in it on February 20th, 1884 and sailed for Europe. She remained in France four months, then arrived about August in London, and sailed back to India on November 11th of the same year. She remained in London three of four weeks and then went to Germany, where she had the honour of renewing her acquaintance with Professor Coues. But she never met Miss Mabel Collins at all, till a short time before her departure for India, saw her but a few times and never had even a private interview with her. When she first heard of her, it happened as follows: Mr. Ewen, F.T.S., late of
* “Kuthumi, the true and complete Oeconomy of Human Life, based on the system of Theosophical Ethics,” by Elliott Coues. Noticing it in its issue of July, 1886 [Vol. 1], The Path remarks: “This is a reprint of a little volume, originally issued in 1770, but under the classical pen of Prof. Coues, who has added an introduction and the faultless typography of Estes and Lauriat, the little book is a very different affair from the earlier edition.” Yet, perfect as it may be, what had “Koothoomi” or Kuthumi to do with this “reprint,” we wonder?—[ED.]
India, had unearthed a story written by Miss M Collins, found it charming, as it really is, and showing it to Col. Olcott, introduced the latter to her. This novel was the Idyll of the White Lotus, which “Miss Mabel Collins,” told the Colonel had been written by her, either in trance or under dictation (the handwriting of the MSS., was not hers, certainly) by some one whom she described to him. This was before Mme. Blavatsky ever set eyes on her; and yet the title page of that work bears to this day the inscription:
To the True Author
The Inspirer of this work;
IT IS DEDICATED.
If she knew nothing then (when she wrote Light on the Path) “of the mysteries of the Theosophical Society,” as she states, then she must have forgotten them, since the Idyll, etc., preceded Light on the Path; the more so, as she wrote and finished the former before she had ever set her eyes on “Mme. Blavatsky.” Miss Mabel Collins adds that Light on the Path “was not inspired by anyone.” And here comes an independent witness, Mrs. Passingham, late of Cambridge, who flatly contradicts the statement. “Miss Collins” passed a day in her house in February, 1885, and left early, because, as she said, she had to meet by appointment, her inspirer, the one who dictated to her Light on the Path, at 8 that evening.
(Read Mrs. Passingham’s letter, infra.)
How does this tally with the statement that she (Mabel Collins) had “never received proof of the existence of any Master” (let alone the Theosophical Masters)? Was the dedication invented, and a Master and “Inspirer” suggested by Mme. B. before the latter had ever seen his amanuensis? For that only she proclaims herself in her dedication, by speaking of the “true author,” who thus must be regarded as some kind of Master, at all events. Moreover, heaps of letters may be produced all written between 1872 and 1884, and signed : the well-known seal of one who became an adept only in 1886. Did Mme. Blavatsky send to “Miss Mabel Collins” this signature, at a time when neither knew of the other’s existence?
And now to Light on the Path.
Miss Mabel Collins, known in those days to us simply as Mrs. Cook, can have hardly begun it in November 1884; for, three days before Mme. Blavatsky’s departure for India (there are witnesses) she was visited by Miss M. Collins, who showed her a page or two of that which developed later into Light on the Path, and in which the former recognized some very familiar expressions. Thus, that which became the priceless little book, was finished and published in London after Mme. Blavatsky’s departure for India, i.e., in the early part of 1885, as dozens of witnesses are ready to testify (Miss M. Collins’ friends among others). At that time, the accused party was at Adyar, lying for over three months almost on her deathbed. And now, comes the curious part of this new attempt to discredit a person in her way, and a dangerous witness. If she is the sole author of Light on the Path, how comes it that she, ignorant of Sanskrit and having never seen the “Golden Precepts,” could use so many sentences bodily enshrined in that purely Occult work? But here is something still more curious.
5. If Dr. Coues wrote his first letter of enquiry to Mrs. Mabel Cook four years ago, it must have been some time in the middle of 1885. For, Light on the Path was published, as said, early in that year, and his letter to her could not have preceded the publication of the book, while since then, he assures us, “nothing passed” between him and Mrs. Mabel Collins.”
But whether late or early in 1885 or 1886, the fact remains the same. Mme. Blavatsky was not in England, and could not be there when Dr. Coues’ letter of enquiry was received by “Miss Mabel Collins.” For Mme. B. was sent back to Europe by her doctors in India, at the end of March 1885 and remained till May 1887 in Italy, Germany and Ostend. No correspondence ever took place between Miss Collins and Mme. Blavatsky; nor did the latter know anything of Light on the Path until it was given to her as the “New Bible of the American Theosophists,” by Mr. Arthur Gebhard, in the summer of 1886. Thus turn it whatever way you like neither (a) could “Miss Mabel Collins” be studying Mme.
B. during that period of 21/2 years; nor could she be “studying under her.” How then could the “author” of Light on the Path possibly say that she “took the letter to her” and wrote “the answer at her dictation”?! The gratuitous invention is so painfully palpable that there is really no need to dwell on it any longer. There is but one explanation possible. Miss M. Collins had an astral dream. She found the imaginary scene between Mme. Blavatsky and herself, and heard the latter dictating her letter to Dr. Coues under the walls she visits spiritually—and now repents of it. Untrained psychic faculties contain potentially strange surprises in them; an inordinate hatred and desire of revenge lead some mediums on to dangerous pathways.
Thus, why should she repent of that which she has never done, and why, above all, should Dr. Elliott Coues—the flower of chivalry—show such an intense eagerness to proclaim his fair correspondent to the world as the wife of the Biblical Ananias? True, she has done many other things to disprove her own words and placed them on record before the world, these records proving still more damaging to her reputation for truthfulness. Has she also forgotten what she wrote in her work Through the Gates of Gold? This book again was quite unknown to Mme. Blavatsky, who first heard of it from Messrs. Finch and Keightley, who brought it to her in Ostend in March 1887, just after its publication. And this work—so inferior to Light on the Path or the Idyll of the White Lotus, that no devotee would ever think of claiming as its author a “Master”—bears on the page facing the Prologue the following words:—
“Once, as I sat alone writing, a mysterious Visitor entered my study unannounced, and stood beside me. I forgot to ask who he was or why he entered so unceremoniously, for he began to tell me of the Gates of Gold. He spoke from knowledge, and from the fire of his speech I caught faith. I have written down his words; but alas, I cannot hope that the fire shall burn as brightly in my writing as in his speech.”
The fear was a just one, as one can never write from memory as well as when copying—from walls. The divine fire was expended in Light on the Path and never burned as
brightly since. “Before the voice can speak in the presence of the Masters it must have lost its power to wound.” . . . “Seek in the heart the source of evil and expunge it.” These are aphorisms as old as the Book of the Golden Precepts, from which they radiated—on the walls”—and thence into Light on the Path.
We must close with a few more words of emphatic denial. At no time has “Miss Mabel Collins” “studied under Madame Blavatsky.” The latter has always refused to teach her, for good reasons of her own. Mrs. Mabel Cook has sometimes attended the “Blavatsky Lodge” meetings, and had casual conversations on occult matters with her, but has never studied two consecutive days “under her.” Nor did Mme. B. know that Dr. Coues has ever written to Miss Collins till he told of it. In all charity we are determined to view her letter to him as—an enigma. And so must be the learned Professor’s sudden attack upon H. P. Blavatsky, another enigma to the Theosophists and the public in general, though to the attacked party it is quite clear. He speaks of hoax, but does not say what it is. We know of definite hoaxes, but prefer not to mention them at present. We have heard of Hindus committing suicide in order to bring their enemies to grief and lay a curse upon their heads. This joint letter is a moral suicide in its way. For a woman to confess to the world that she has been deliberately deceiving it for years, simply for the pleasure of fathering the cause of the deception upon a supposed enemy, is a psychic riddle in itself. Miss Mabel Collins, while denying the “Mahatmas,” believes, however, “that the Mahatmic force (whatever it may be, apart from the Mahatmas) must exist.” This belief Dr. Coues gravely ratifies, on the authority, we must suppose, of his own “great psychic powers”; and thus we find him assuring “Mabel” that the “Mahatmic force . . . exists in every great Soul like yours” (her’s).
May all the Heavenly Powers, actual or imaginary, preserve the World from such “Mahatmic force,” if it is this “force” that dictated to Miss Mabel Collins her letter to Dr. Coues, and inspired him to publish it with his comments. And may the poor Theosophical Society be laid into its grave rather than have such representatives of THEOSOPHY!
History repeats itself in every age. The world had its century of Hypatias, its century of the Joans of Arc, and that of many other heroines. Our departing age, the XIXth, seems to impress itself on the tablets of the Universal History, as “the Century of the ‘MADAME COULOMB!” . . .
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
A TIMELY WITNESS.
The following is a letter published in LIGHT of June the 8th, when that weekly reprinted the above insinuations from the REL.-PHIL. JOURNAL. It is a thoroughly independent evidence which, throwing a new and unexpected light on the calumny, shatters it to atoms. No better proof of the baselessness of the charges could be ever expected.
To the Editor of Light
SIR,— À propos of the letter from Dr. Coues relative to Mabel Collins and Light on the Path, the following incident may be interesting. In the early part of 1885 (I think February) Mrs. Collins visited a mutual friend at Girton, and was by her introduced to me, and spent the after noon and part of the evening at my house. She expressed a wish to leave early, as she had an “appointment” with “Hilarion,” the author of Light on the Path, at 8 p.m., and did not wish to be absent from her lodgings at Girton at that hour. So I sent her back in my carriage at her express request. I was informed afterwards by my friend that the writing that evening had been very successful, owing she thought to previous harmonious conditions. I may add that Mrs. Collins told me herself that the influence under which she wrote the book in question was that of a person whom she had long known, but had only lately identified as being that of an “Adept.”
C. A. PASSINGHAM.
Exmouth, Devon, late of Milton, Cambridge.
June 2, 1889.
Mrs. Passingham is a lady of high standing, well known to many, and who was till now President of the Cambridge Lodge of the T.S. And now what becomes of the—invention (not to call it by a worse name) that Mme. Blavatsky
“begged and implored” Miss Mabel Collins, to father Light on the Path “on one of the Masters who guide Mme. Blavatsky”? The visit of Mrs. Cook (Mabel Collins) to Mrs. Passingham was in February 1885, and Mme. Blavatsky having sailed for India three months before had certainly nothing to do with it. As already shown, the accused party hardly knew “Miss Mabel Collins” in 1884, and, had she known her, prudence alone would have never permitted Mme. B. to ask Miss M.C. to share in such an imposture, just at a time when the Christian College Magazine and Mme. Coulomb were red hot in their conspiracy of denunciation. The “hoax” with which Dr. Coues charges Mme. B. in his letter thus returns home, part and parcel, to roost with the learned President of the Gnostic T.S. of Washington. May it do him good!
An American paper, the Washington Post, speaking of a reception given to Dr. Elliott Coues in New York says that: —”The Theosophical Society and some of the most famous and cultivated people in New York will extend him and his wife a series of social courtesies and unite to honour him as a theosophist and a scientist.”
No one in America could “honour” too highly a Professor of the Smithsonian Institute as “a Scientist.” But as a Theosophist—Heaven save the mark! The animus and spite shown in his conduct and the want of all gentlemanly, let alone theosophical feeling, are such as would be unhesitatingly repudiated by every Smithsonian Professor.
And now we have a few more words to say to a weekly in America. For years the R.-P. Journal assumed the monopoly of denouncing and attacking us in almost every issue, and for years we have ignored it and kept silent. But for once, a month or so ago, we raised a mild protest in Lucifer, simply remarking that our contemporary of Chicago repeated “unverified cackle.” At this, the R.-P. J., feeling very indignant, replies:” The JOURNAL does not ‘repeat unverified cackle,’ and unlike the Tartarian termagant has ‘discretion’ enough not to juggle.”
Don’t you “repeat unverified cackle,” dear old Journal? And what do you call the above “Coues-Collins” letter, and, even more, the lying Billingsgate of W. Emmette Coleman?
Or, perhaps, you think the name “cackle” too mild and would like to replace it with the term “malicious slander”? So be it. As to your having “discretion enough not to juggle,” no one has ever thought of accusing you of it. But you have constantly charged the same upon the “Tartarian Termagant,” and this without the slightest shadow of real proof. This is neither “religious” nor “philosophical.” But what is distinctly kind and beneficent to Theosophists, though hardly meant to be so, is the gratuitous advertisement of the Esoteric Section, its Rules and Pledge in the R.-P.J. The Editor must accept our best thanks, as his generous advertisement brought us about twenty applications to join the E.S., all dispatched within the week of its publication.
A curious prophecy was made to me, in 1879, in India, by a mystic who said that every letter in the alphabet had either a beneficent or a maleficent influence on the life and work of every man. Persons whose names began with an initial the sound of which was adverse to some other person had to be avoided by the latter. “What is the letter most adverse to me?” I enquired. “Beware of the letter C,” he replied. “I see three capital C’s shining ominously over your head. You have to beware of them especially for the next ten years and shield your Society from their influence. They are the initials of three persons who will belong to the Theosophical body, only to turn its greatest enemies.” I had forgotten the warning till 1884, when the Coulombs appeared on the stage. Are Dr. Coues and Miss Collins (Cook) preparing to close the list—I wonder?
I reprint the following correspondence from Light of June the 8th, omitting my own letter, which would be mere repetition of what is said above, and Mrs. Passingham’s statement as already given:
TO THE EDITOR OF “LIGHT”
SIR,—In reference to the letters from Professor Coues and Mabel Collins, quoted from the Religio-Philosophical Journal in your issue of the 1st inst., I trust you will permit me to say a few words on the facts
in question. I knew Madame Blavatsky intimately during her stay in Europe in 1884, and since her arrival in this country in May, 1887, I have resided in the same house continuously. Further, I have known Mabel Collins intimately from the date of the publication of Light on the Path in the early months of 1885.
1. Before Madame Blavatsky’s departure for India, in November, 1884, she had seen Mabel Collins, at the outside, two or three times, and Light on the Path had only just been begun, and the book was not completed till early in 1885, when Madame Blavatsky was in India, and to my certain knowledge no communication took place between her and Mabel Collins after the departure of the former for India in 1884, until her arrival in England in 1887.
Now, since Professor Coues’ letter to Mabel Collins could not have preceded the publication of Light on the Path, it is obvious that Mabel Collins’ reply thereto must fall after the month of March, 1885. How then, I ask, could this reply have been written “at her (Madame Blavatsky’s) dictation,” as asserted by Mabel Collins, seeing that Madame Blavatsky was at the time in India? Such a marvellous discrepancy between statement and fact makes one think: quem deus vult perdere, prius dementat.
2. The astounding suggestion of Professor Coues that the authorship of Light on the Path was claimed by Mahatma Koot Hoomi is so ridiculous as to call only for the remark that no well informed person in the Theosophical Society ever heard of it before.
3. As to its real authorship, Mabel Collins constantly and consistently averred that it was “given” to her in the way she states by the assistance of a person whom she has described to many and in whom Colonel Olcott, entirely independently of Madame Blavatsky, recognized a Greek (not a Hindu) Adept whom he had personally known in the body.
4. As to Mabel Collins insituation that Madame Blavatsky endeavoured to induce her to claim the authorship of Light on the Path for “one of the Masters who guide her (Madame Blavatsky),” it is simply ridiculous. This alone is enough to show how empty is such an insinuation even apart from the fact that, as I have stated above, no communication whatever passed between Madame Blavatsky and Mabel Collins between November 11th, 1884, and April, 1887.
5. As to the fact that Light on the Path was “inspired” by some influence extraneous to Mabel Collins’ own brain, the dedication prefixed to The Idyll of the White Lotus and the second edition of Through the Gates of Gold are ample proof, if the authoress’ veracity is worth anything.
TO THE EDITOR OF “LIGHT”
SIR,—In your issue of June 1st appears a copy of a communication from Professor Coues, of Washington, to the Religio-Philosophiod Journal of Chicago, drawing attention to a letter from the authoress of Light on the Path respecting the origin of that book.
The admissions made in that letter by Miss Collins are naturally of interest to all Theosophists who value the little treatise alluded to, and who have hitherto held the name of its authoress in high esteem.
For this latter fact there was great reason, in that she was the authoress not only of Light on the Path, but also of Through the Gates of Gold and The Idyll of the White Lotus, books of inestimable value to those who wished to know themselves from the Theosophic point of view; while a further reason lay in the belief that she was a faithful disciple and fellow-worker of Madame Blavatsky.
But in whatever position the avowal in Miss Collins’ letter may place that lady with regard to those who have hitherto looked upon her as a teacher, by its apparent intention of disowning Madame Blavatsky and of throwing discredit upon her explanation of the origin of Light on the Path, it will certainly appear to many that she has most strongly confirmed that explanation, while she has also satisfactorily answered the query which arose in everyone’s mind, “How did the Mahatma give Mabel Collins that marvellous epitome of the mode in which Mahatmic evolution is to be attained?”
Referring to Miss Collins’ explanation, it is at once evident that another intelligence besides her own must also have visited the place, “spiritually” or otherwise, where she saw Light on the Path written upon its walls, for someone must have placed the words there; moreover, that intelligence had command over good modern English as well as being possesssor of high practical wisdom.
We judge, therefore, that Miss Collins was simply the favoured vehicle for the communication of those particular rules of the “Hall of Learning” to the many mortals now needing and hungering for them, and while it is impossible that they could have been written up where she was permitted to observe them, otherwise than by an intelligent Being who had also visited the place, it does not at all follow that he should, or ought to, have made himself or his nature known to her. That would have been creating a basis for a personal intimacy which was not necessary and possibly not advisable.
As regards the manner in which one mind may instruct or inform another, on what may be termed the occult plane, we know at present very little, but the phenomena of psychometry and thought-transference may some day, if scientifically studied, be the means of our understanding these things better.
Hence Madame Blavatsky’s explanation has intrinsic probability for its support, in addition to the authority she herself possesses in speaking of all such matters.
As for the attempts at discredit which Professor Coues makes upon
certain occult facts and phenomena, it is difficult to understand how a man who pertinaciously, in public and in private, claims for himself the possession of occult powers, as he has done respecting the visits of his astral body to friends hundreds of miles away, and its recognition by them, can so recklessly and inconsistently throw ridicule and doubt upon occult phenomena testified to by others.
As an eminent man of science accustomed to the methods by which scientific truths are discovered, ought not Professor Coues to see that the attested production on his part of what are ordinarily termed “supernatural” phenomena most surely suggest a strong probability that there are higher and more imposing “supernatural” powers than those to which he has at present attained? The projection of one’s astral form and the projection of one’s definite thoughts, for the purpose of giving information or instruction, can only be matters of degree of power, though the difference between them in degree may be great and the respective degrees be characteristic of very distinct types of development.
A STUDENT OF “LIGHT ON THE PATH.”
I add the following corroborative extracts from a pamphlet issued by W. Q. Judge and widely circulated in America: *
1. Madame Blavatsky left England for India in November, 1884, and did not return to England till May 1st, 1887. Light on the Path was published about March, 1885. At the time of Mrs. Collins’ reception of the letter which Dr. Coues wrote her in 1885, Madame Blavatsky was in India. Mrs. Collins could not, therefore, have been “studying and studying under” her, nor could she have “taken the letter” to her, nor have “written the answer at her dictation.”
2. Mr. William Q. Judge was in London in November, 1884, after Madame Blavatsky’s departure, and returned to the States in December. Mrs. Collins was writing Light on the Path at the time of his visit, and he received one of the first copies about April 1st, 1885.
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
4. In dedicating The Idyll of the White Lotus to “The true Author, the Inspirer,” Mrs. Collins made the same claim of inspiration as in the first letter to Dr. Coues, though (as will be seen from an extract below from Madame Blavatsky) Madame Blavatsky was ignorant even of the existence of the book until after Mrs. Collins avowed the inspiration to Col. Olcott.
* [This pamphlet is entitled: “Light on the Path” and Mabel Collins. It is signed by William Quan Judge and Dr. Archibald Keightley, and contains 8 pages of text.—Compiler.]
5. The history of Light on the Path was given to Dr. Keightley by Mrs. Collins herself as follows. When Madame Blavatsky was in London in 1884, Mrs. Collins had partly written The Idyll of the White Lotus. This story (she stated to Dr. K.) was due to inspiration from a Being whom she described to Madame Blavatsky. Madame Blavatsky said that, from the description and the tone of the thought, she believed this Being to be an old friend of her own among the Occult Brotherhood—though not “Koot Hoomi or some other Hindu Adept.” Mrs. Collins further stated that, after the completion of the book, this same Being urged her to endeavour to reach a higher state of consciousness, as there was work for her to do. The effort resulted in the production of Light on the Path, written down in the manner which Mrs. Collins describes.
Extracts from Madame Blavatsky’s letter of May 27th, 1889, to a lady in America:
1. Light on the Path was first published in 1885, and Dr. Coues’ letter to her could not have preceded the publication of the book. I returned to India in November, 1884, and never saw Mabel Collins till the 1st of May, 1887. Therefore it is perfectly impossible that I should have dictated, or even suggested, such a letter as Mabel Collins speaks of.”
2. “Before my return to India in 1884, I saw Mabel Collins barely three or four times. She then showed me the first page or two of the future Light on the Path, wherein I recognized some phrases which were familiar to me. Therefore I the more readily accepted her description of the manner in which they had been given to her. She herself certainly believed that this book was dictated to her by ‘someone’ whose appearance she described, in which statement I am sure I shall be borne out by Mr. Finch, who had the chief share in bringing about the publication of the book.”
3. “I saw the completed work for the first time in my life at Ostend, a few months before I came to London in 1887.”
4. “I emphatically and unreservedly deny Mabel Collins’ vile insinuation that I ever asked her to make any statement regarding Light on the Path at all, let alone any untrue statements.”
5. “The book (Idyll of the White Lotus) was begun long before I first saw her; it was unearthed by Mr. Ewen, and shown to Col. Olcott, who heard all about its inspirer before I even knew of its existence.”
From the above facts and extracts, it is clear—
1st. That Mrs. Collins claimed an inspirer for The Idyll of the White Lotus before Madame Blavatsky had seen or even known of the book.
2nd. That the suggestion of inspiration in the case of Light on the Path was not made by Madame Blavatsky to Mrs. Collins, but by Mrs. Collins to Madame Blavatsky.
3rd. That at the time Mrs. Collins alleges herself to have been “implored” by Madame Blavatsky to write to Dr. Coues a claim of inspiration, Madame Blavatsky was, and had been for months, 7,000 miles away.
4th. That if the claim to inspiration was false, Mrs. Collins alone was responsible for the falsehood, and
5th. That the falsehood cannot be shifted to another person by a second falsehood even more glaring and palpable.
It is not necessary for the undersigned to expand the reflections which instantly arise in any honest and clear mind upon perusal of such a story as the foregoing. The spectacle of a woman spontaneously accusing herself of a falsehood and sanctioning the utmost publicity, not in penitence or atonement, but as a means, coupled with a greater falsehood, to spite and injure a former friend, is of a sadness beyond measure. And yet one can hardly see incongruity in the added spectacle of an officer of a Society grasping at such an occasion, eagerly telegraphing across the ocean for permission to use it as widely as possible to belittle and befoul the Society and its Head, exulting in the probable confusion to the Cause to which he had professed allegiance, and finding “Mahatmic force” in the very person he had just proclaimed a liar! Before these astounding displays of moral callousness and mental shortsightedness, conscience, judgment and taste can but stand appalled.
There is, however, one remark which we, as students of Theosophy and intimate friends of Madame Blavatsky, desire to make to all those who are interested in the Wisdom Religion or members of the Theosophical Society. There is no cause for discouragement or alarm. This is not the first time that evil passion has used the arts of detraction and treason to check the progress of the Society and impair the influence of the Founders. Preceding ones have failed. After each attack the Cause has rallied and stridden forward and upward, the enemy’s hopes vanishing like his reputation. Why? Because behind the Society and its friends are the Masters Themselves. Their aid is ever given to those who are earnestly working for the Truth and sustaining the hands of the visible Founders. It will be so in this case. Very soon the animus of the present attack will be understood, its spirit, motives, objects, become apparent, and the very letters which to some seemed at first so damaging will, like the scorpion, die from their own sting. Honour and honesty are not dead among Theosophists nor is perception of motive, or horror of perfidy.
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE.
June the 6th, 1889.
Concerning the actual authorship of the works referred to, and concerning the varied assertions made by the reputed author, the following considerations may have weight.
1. In LUCIFER, Vol. I, No. 1. Mabel Collins in “Comments upon Light on the Path” said that the book has a deep underlying meaning, and he who reads it “is in fact deciphering a profound cipher”; and, p. 9, “The whole of Light on the Path is written in an astral cipher, and can therefore only be deciphered by one who reads astrally.” This is repeated and enforced in Lucifer for November, 1887.
2. Extract from a letter from Mabel Collins dated London, July 17, 1887, and printed in The Path of September, 1887.
“To the Editor of the Path—As to Light on the Path, that is a collection of axioms which I found written on the walls of a certain place to which I obtained admittance, and I made notes of them as I saw them. But I see no feasible method of making such explanations to the public therefore at present I propose to place this preface before each of the books.”
3. Through the Gates of Gold, by the same author, is dedicated to an unknown being who, she says, came to her room and told her the story.
4. It is well known to those who are acquainted with Mabel Collins that, previous to the writing of Light on the Path, she had been solely engaged in novel writing and newspaper work.
5. She stated to the undersigned in London in 1888 that she knew nothing about philosophy or the laws of occultism, of Karma or any far-reaching Theosophical doctrine.
6. That the books Light on the Path, Idyll of the White Lotus, and Through the Gates of Gold were written, according to her own claim, under the inspiration of some being or beings whom she does not know, and that the best of those contains within itself indisputable evidence that it could not have been written by her unassisted.
7. That even if her charge against Madame Blavatsky was true, she is now claiming to be the author of those books which, in many places and at times when Madame Blavatsky was not with her, she has declared were not her own.
8. It cannot fail to be plain to everyone that the explanation now offered by Prof. Coues and Mabel Collins in regard to these books is only an attempt to make the public believe that during these four years she has been pretending, at the solicitation of Madame Blavatsky, that the book was written by an Adept, whereas in 1887 she published the same explanation in The Path.
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE.
There are but few words needed in addition to the above. Whatever explanation the Coues-Collins combination may put forward to cover the manifest unveracity of their statements, whether Mabel Collins’ letter to Prof. Coues dates from four years or from one year ago; whether people believe that letter to have been dictated or inspired by H. P. Blavatsky or not;—nothing can alter the fact that the one has publicly proclaimed her own untruthfulness in order to slander a hated enemy, while the other has jumped at the opportunity to gratify his wounded vanity at the cost of breaking the pledge and his word of honour to the Theosophical Society which he took upon joining it.
Why has he done it? The motive is plainly shown by a letter received by me from Dr. Coues a few days before the Convention of the American Section T.S. at Chicago. This letter was an ultimatum in which the Professor offered me the choice of the following alternatives: Either to telegraph immediately to the Convention, using all my influence to have him appointed President or “Boss” of the whole T.S. in America, or to see him bust up the T.S. forever. Not being easily intimidated, I replied that he might do his worst. His letter and my reply can be published, if thought proper.
[Having read both this letter from Dr. Coues and Madame Blavatsky’s reply thereto, I desire to state that the above is a perfectly correct summary of their contents, though as regards Dr. Coues’ letter it is too favourable to him.—BERTRAM KEIGHTLEY.]
Therefore the choice lies open to every member of the Esoteric Section. If his confidence and trust in its Head has been shaken, then by all means let him leave. On returning the papers and Instructions he has received his pledge will be cancelled. But all who desire to be taught by H. P. Blavatsky and to remain members of the Esoteric Section must (if in America) communicate at once with Mr. W. Q. Judge, who will inform them of the new organisation which has been adopted for that Section. It may be well to state here, however, that no change of any kind has been or will be made in the terms of the PLEDGE itself, nor will any more onerous restrictions or rules be imposed on members.
Everyone can easily see that this attack is simply a repetition of the old lines of the Coulomb-Hodgson business. In fact, the analogy is most striking; but there, the slanderers had the benefit of novelty, while this one is a mere réchauffé at which no intelligent man or woman will do more than shrug their shoulders. Non bis in idem. However that may be, as it is not H. P. Blavatsky that can ever be affected by it, but only those who think that she may be of some use to them, the choice is left entirely in their hands.
(Signed) H. P. BLAVATSKY.
London, June 21, 1889.