NOCTURNAL THOUGHTS ON NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS
[The Theosophist, Vol. I, No. 3, December, 1879, pp. 79-81]
We begin with a strange story from the Gainesville Eagle—an American journal:—
. . . Some time ago Dr. Stephenson was prospecting the vast hornblende and chloritic slate formation between Gainesville and Jefferson, and found a singular rock on the land of Mr. Frank Harrison, which he considers one of the most interesting and inexplicable productions of the laws of chemical affinity. The boulder of hornblende weighs nearly a ton, is black, and crystallized through it in seams about one-eighth of an inch thick of white quartz are the figures 1791. They are about four inches long and placed at equal distances from each other. It is common in all plutonic rock to see seams of quartz traverse the granite, gneiss, hornblende and other classes of rocks in various directions, from one-eighth of an inch to a foot or more, which sometimes cross each other, but never with the regularity and symmetry of this. It has not been one thousand years since the Arab invented our numerals, from 1 to 10, and we find here in perfect form the same figures, made by the laws of chemical affinity on the oldest rocks, which formed the crust of the earth countless millions of years before there was a vegetable or animal in existence.
It may be a meaningless freak of nature, and it may be the freak of a sensational and not over scrupulous reporter: either is possible, and a great caution is certainly required, before we credit such an extraordinary piece of news. But what is a freak of nature? The effect of a natural cause; not even a “freak” can happen otherwise. And yet, when this cause is evident who ever presumes to go any deeper into its origination? Not the scientists; for these generally leave the prior causes to take care of themselves. Some
H. P. BLAVATSKY AROUND 1870
Proprietor and Editor of The Indian Mirror of Calcutta,
and personal pupil of Masker K. H.
superstitious souls and the Christians might attribute the mysterious figures to some occult and even a most intelligent cause. Some may see a connection between them and the French Revolution; others with the finger of God Himself, who traced them for some unfathomable reason, to seek to penetrate which would be a sacrilege. But now, times and men are changed. The strong-backed, convenient, maid-of-all-work called “Will of God” and “Providence,” upon which these amiable and unconscious blasphemers (regarded as very pious Christians) pile all the garbage and evils of imperfect nature—has a time of rest. The All-Perfect is no more held responsible for every calamity and inexplicable event, except by a few of the above-named pious souls. Least of all by the men of science. The Christian “Will of God” in company with the Mohammedan Kismet are handed over to the emotional Methodist and the irrepressible Mullah.
Hence, the cause of the figures—if figures there are—comes within the category of scientific research. Only, in this case, the latter must be taken in its broadest sense, that which embraces within the area of natural sciences psychology, and even metaphysics. Consequently, if this story of the marvellous boulder should prove something more than a newspaper hoax, originating with an idle reporter, we will have, perhaps, some comments to offer. We may then, strengthen our arguments by giving a few sentences from a curious manuscript belonging to a Fellow of the Theosophical Society in Germany, a learned mystic, who tells us that the document is already on its way to India. It is a sort of diary, written in those mystical characters, half ciphers, half alphabet, adopted by the Rosicrucians during the previous two centuries, and the key to which, is now possessed by only a very few mystics. Its author is the famous and mysterious Count de Saint-Germain; he, who before and during the French Revolution puzzled and almost terrified every capital of Europe, and some crowned Heads; and of whom such a number of weird stories are told. All comment now would be premature. The bare suggestion of there being anything more mysterious than a
blind “freak” of nature in this particular find, is calculated to raise a scornful laugh from every quarter, with the exception, perhaps, of some Spiritualists and their natural allies, the Theosophists.
Our space is scant, so we will make room for another, and far more extraordinary story, endorsed by no less a personage than Marshal MacMahon, ex-President of the Republic of France, and credited—as in religious duty bound—by some hundred millions of Roman Catholics. We admit it the more willingly since, had any such story originated with either the Theosophists or the Spiritualists, it would have been straightway ridiculed and set down as a cock-and-bull fable. But circumstances alter cases—with the Catholics; none, however sceptical at heart, will dare laugh (above his breath) at a story of supernatural “miracles” worked by the Madonna and her Saints, or by Satan and his imps. For such “miracles” the Church holds a patent. The fact tacitly conceded, if not always secretly believed, by such a tremendous body of Christians, for anyone to discredit the power of the devil, even in this age of free thought, makes him ranked at once with the despised infidels. Only the Spiritualists and Theosophists have made themselves culpable in the eyes of the panegyrists of reason, and deserve to be called “lunatics” for believing in phenomena produced by natural causes. Even Protestants are warned against pooh-poohing the story we here quote; for they too are bound by their Calvanistic and other dogmas to believe in the power of Satan—a power accorded the Enemy of Man by the ever inscrutable—“Will of God.”
[Follows the narrative from the Catholic Mirror of Baltimore regarding a remarkable experience with a native sorcerer, which Marshal MacMahon had while in Algiers.]
Unlike the Marshal, we have something to say. The Spiritualists would advance a very easy and well-known theory to “account” for it, and the Theosophists—though, perhaps, slightly modifying it, would follow suit. But then, they would have the great body of Roman Catholics against them. Their theory, or, shall we say, “infallible dogma”?— is, if the story be true, that the Arab corporal had sold his
soul to the Father of Evil. But, though presumably all-powerful for mischief, old Nick found his match in the leaden charm, or medal of the Virgin; and, gnashing his teeth, had to take to his heels before the presence of the image of the Queen of Heaven. Well, one theory is as good as any other when we come to hypotheses. But then,—the infidels might ask—why not give a slight extra stretch to that divine power, and rid humanity at once and for ever of that eternal mischief-maker, who, “as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”? Weak is humanity and faltering the steps of man! Why not, at one clip, save it from the snares of the devil; the more so as humanity, if incapable of resisting such a power, is weak through no fault of its own, but again because it so pleased kind Providence? Surely, if a simple leaden amulet has such a virtue of putting to flight the devil, how much more ought the blessed Virgin herself do. Especially, since of late she has taken to visiting in person and so often the famous grotto at Lourdes.
But then—dreadful thought!—how could the wicked be sentenced to eternal perdition? Whither could the sinner direct his trembling steps, when once that kingdom “where the worm dieth not, and the fire is never quenched” is annexed by the Romish Imperial Raj of Heaven? Impassable chasm, sharp horns of a dilemma! So long as it bears its name, Christianity cannot get rid of the devil, without, so to say, committing a most dreadful, unthinkable suicide. Some years ago the pious and holy Cardinal, Father Ventura di Raulica, expressed his opinion upon the subject. “To demonstrate,” he says, “the existence of Satan, is to reestablish one of the fundamental dogmas of the Church, which serve as a basis for Christianity, and without which it would be but a name. . . .” And, the very Catholic Chevalier Gougenot des Mousseaux adds,—Satan is “the Chief Pillar of Faith. . . . But for him, the Saviour, the Crucified, the Redeemer, would be but the most ridiculous of supernumeraries, and the Cross an insult to good sense” (Moeurs et Pratiques des Démons, p. x).
Thus we see that the next and most logical move of the
infallible Church would be to institute a yearly vote of thanks—a Te Deum—to the Devil. This happy thought is not copyrighted, and His Holiness is welcome to it.
The more so, as it seems that again, for some inscrutable and providential reasons better known in heaven than comprehended upon earth, not only the Devil, but even simple mortals are allowed to do the deeds of darkness. In the following horrifying trick, played lately at the above-mentioned miracle-working grotto of Lourdes, we find the “Protectress” utterly incapable of protecting even herself. We copy this sad tale of human infamy also from our pious contemporary—The Catholic Mirror:
. . . DESECRATION AT LOURDES.—A very strange story comes to us from France—a story difficult to credit, but our authority is trustworthy. All who have been at the miraculous shrine at Lourdes must have been struck by the number of trophies that are the offerings of pious pilgrims, or that the quick recurring miracles have collected in the place. There is a touching appropriateness in the devotion that makes the grateful pilgrim offer at the shrine the mementoes of his disease which the mercy of heaven has rendered useless. All the walls at Lourdes were hung with crutches, and wooden legs, and wooden arms, to which scrolls were attached with dates and names authenticating the miracles. These trophies, it appears, excited the malignity of the unbelievers. It was a hard thing to scoff at the miracles with such visible testimony of their truth before the eyes of the world. Therefore it was resolved that the testimony must be destroyed. In the dead of the night some miscreants penetrated to the shrine, the religious trophies were collected in a heap and set in flames. They were reduced to ashes. A beautiful rose tree that sprang from a cleft in the rocks was destroyed by the fire, and the face of the statue of the Virgin was scorched and blackened by the smoke. It would be difficult in all history to find a parallel for this dastardly and disgraceful outrage by these “apostles of reason and liberty.”
The “apostles of reason and liberty” are criminals, and ought to be punished—as incendiaries. But the majesty of the Law once vindicated, ought they not, as “apostles of reason” to be allowed to respectfully put a few questions to their judges? As, for instance: how is it that “our blessed Lady of Lourdes,” so prompt at producing “miracles” of the most astounding character, passively suffered such an appalling personal outrage? That was just the moment to show her power, confound the “infidels,” and vindicate her
“miracles.” A better opportunity was never lost. As it is, the criminals scorch and blacken the face of the statue and—get away unscorched, even by the fire of (the Catholic) heaven. Really, it was very indiscreet in our contemporary to publish this story! Perhaps these “apostles” were the disciples and followers of the Zouave Jacob, whose fame as a healer is not inferior to that of our Lady of Lourdes and the miraculous water.* Or, it may be, they had known J. R. Newton, the celebrated American mesmeric “healer,” whose large reception rooms are always hung, and no less than the walls of the grotto, with “trophies” of his mesmeric power, “with crutches, wooden legs, and wooden . . . arms” (?)—no! not with wooden arms, for this implies previous amputations of natural arms. And almost magical as are the healing powers of our respected friend Dr. Newton, we doubt whether he has ever claimed the gift of endowing human beings with the extraordinary peculiarity of a cray-fish—i.e., of having a new arm to grow out of an amputated stump, as seems to have been the case at Lourdes according to the Catholic Mirror.
But it is not alone the wondrous “grotto” that proved powerless before the destructive element. The lightning (of God?) showed itself no more a respecter of the house of God and holy shrines than those firebolts, the “apostles of reason and liberty.” The number of churches, camp meeting tents, tabernacles and altars destroyed, during these last two years, by hurricane and lightning, in Europe and America, is appalling. And now:—
. . . The famous sanctuary of Madonna de Valmala, situated in the valley of the same name in Switzerland, was struck by lightning on Sunday, August 24th, while the priest was saying Mass at the altar. Six people were struck down by the fatal fluid, one of whom, a little girl was kneeling near her parents, was killed on the spot, and the others are injured beyond hope of recovery. Several persons who
* [Henri-Auguste Jacob was born at Saint-Martin-des-Champs (Seine & Oise), France, March 6, 1828, and died at Paris, October 13, 1913. He was a musician in the Zouave Guard, and started his remarkable healings in 1866. He became widely known for his many beneficent actions, published several curious books and edited the Revue théurgique (May, 1888—April, 1889.—Compiler.]
were near the door had the soles of their shoes torn off. (Catholic Mirror, Sept. 13th)
Dear, dear! The little girl killed while kneeling in prayer, must have been a very wicked child—perhaps the daughter of an “apostle of reason,”—and all the rest “sinners.” Truly inscrutable are thy ways, O kind Providence! Not understanding, we have but to submit. Moreover, to fully satisfy our doubts, and tranquillize our unrestful brains, we have but to bear in mind that which the good and pious Jesuit padris of St. Xavier’s College, Bombay—known throughout Christendom as the most acute of logicians—teach us: namely, that it is but in the wicked logic of men that 2 and 2 necessarily make 4; God, for whom everything is possible, is not so circumscribed; if it pleases Him to command that by a miracle 2 x 2 should become 5, why, even Sir Isaac Newton would have to put up with the new formula.