[In his book on the history of the Theosophical Society in France entitled Contribution à l’Histoire de la Sociéte Théosophique en France (Paris: Editions Adyar, 1933), Charles Blech, who was for many years the General Secretary for that country, reprinted a controversy between Occultism and Spiritualism, represented respectively by H. P. Blavatsky on the one hand, and Monsieur Tremeschini on the other. The latter was at one time a member of the T.S., and was considered somewhat of an authority on Oriental matters. However, he was very definitely committed to Spiritualism, rather then Occultism.
The controversy originally appeared in the Bulletin Mensuel de la Société Scientifique d’Études Psychologiques published in Paris. A complete set of the relevant papers was pasted by H.P.B. in one of her Scrapbooks, now in the Adyar Archives. As Mr. Blech could not consult the earlier issues of the Bulletin, his account is not quite complete.
The initial cause for the controversy was the translation by Commandant D. A. Courmes, in the February, 1883, issue of the Bulletin, of part of an article under the heading “Sur la Constitution de l’Homme, la Nature de ce qu’on appelle communément les Esprits et la Médiumnité en général,” the original of which was the first installment of “Fragments of Occult Truth,” written by A. O. Hume in The Theosophist of October, 1881.
Because of the above article, there appeared in the March issue of the Bulletin the “Ouverture de la Controverse entre l’Occultisme Théosophique et le Spiritualisme Moderne (Spiritisme).” This consists of an Introduction by the Editor, followed by “Science et Théosophie, ou deux Civilizations en Présence,” from the pen of Charles Fauvety, also a member of the T.S. After having pointed out the great difference between the two civilizations of the Orient and the Occident, and having informed the readers that it was a woman, Madame Blavatsky, who started bringing these civilizations together, the writer goes on to say: “That reminds me that the Saint-Simoniens since 1831 announced to the world that it was a woman, coming from the Orient, who would unite the Oriental world to the Christian world of the Occident, and would be the mother of a regenerated Society.” To the year “1831” H.P.B. added a marginal note in blue pencil when she pasted that article in her Scrapbook (Vol. XV, pp. 105-06). Reproduced here in facsimile, it reads:
L’abondance des matières, due au compte rendu du Banquet de la Société, nous oblige à remettre au prochain no un article très important de notre anc en président, M. P. VALLÈS, «sur la liberté de l’homme et les limites naturelles et sociales imposées à son expérience»
«Fort drôle. L’année de la naissance de H. P. Blav. à Ekaterinoslaw!»
“Very funny. The year of birth of H. P. Blav. at Ekaterinoslaw!”
Whether she believed in the genuineness of the prophecy regarding herself remains uncertain.
In the April issue of the Bulletin, the controversy begins in earnest. There is first a “Note Explicative” by Commandant Courmes, trying to prove that there are more conformities than differences between the Theosophical teachings and those of the French spiritist school of Allan Kardec. This is followed by a “Réfutation de l’Occultisme” by Sophie Rosen (Dulaurier), Monsieur de Waroquier, Monsieur Michel Rosen, and Tremeschini. Finally there follow some closing words by the President, Charles Fauvety.
The fact that Tremeschini, though a member of the T.S., attacked Theosophy, evoked H.P.B.’s quick wrath; her fiercely loyal nature drove her blue pencil flashing again over the open space left in her Scrapbook (Vol. XVI, pp. 52-59). Reproduced here in facsimile, this note reads:
“This tissue of absurdities & misconstructions was immediately answered by H. P. Blavatsky in the name of the Occult Branch of the Theosophical Society; Mr. Tremeschini told that it was Très mesquin on his part being a Theosophist to thus carricature his Society. Suppose it will be printed & the ‘Gotomo of the Treta Yoûgo’ shown a figment of Tremeschini’s brain.”
The May issue of the Bulletin published the “Rectifications relatives à la Controverse sur l’Occultisme,” pasted in Scrapbook, Vol. XVII, pp. 141-42, and which consists of two excerpts from a letter written by H.P.B. to the Editor, with some brief remarks by the latter. These excerpts are published below.]