OLD DIARY LEAVES, First Series(1874-78)
by Henry Steel Olcott
THE first effect of proving the collaborate nature of Isis Unveiled, is to confirm our critical view of its registered author: she remains a mental prodigy, yet drops out of the literary class which includes such giants of acquired knowledge as Aristotle, Longinus, Buddaghosha, Hiouen Thsang, Alberuni, Mâdhavâchârya, Nasireddin—the Persian philosopher and cyclopædist—and in modern times, Leibnitz, Voltaire, Spencer, etc. The justness of her self-estimate is shown, and without ranking as erudite, she becomes an almost unique problem among Western people. If the theory of Bacon’s authorship of Shakespeare’s plays be disproved, then Shakespeare’s production of them, when his vagabond disposition and commonplace character are taken into account, rather supports than contradicts the theory that, like H. P. B., he was but an agent of greater, unseen, living intellects, who controlled his body and used it to write things far beyond his normal capacity. The comparison is to his advantage, because we find in his works
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a far deeper aquaintance with human nature and wider grasp of intuitive knowledge than in hers. His natural mind (or that which was drawn from) seems to have contained from the beginning all that he would ever be obliged to utilise; whereas she appears to have been the subject of a distinct mental evolution. Take, for instance, her teachings on Re-incarnation, the strong foundation-stone of the ancient occult philosophy, which was affirmed in the Secret Doctrine and her other later writings. When we worked on Isis it was neither taught us by the Mahâtmâs nor supported by her in literary controversies or private discussions of those earlier days. She held to, and defended, the theory that human souls, after death, passed on by a course of purificatory evolution to other and more spiritualised planets. I have notes of a conversation between a Mahâtmâ and myself in which this same theory is affirmed. And this puzzles me most of all; for, while it is quite conceivable that, either through imperfect cerebro-psychic training, or otherwise, she, the pupil and psychic agent, might not have known the solid philosophical basis of the Re-incarnation theory, I can scarcely see how the like ignorance could extend to the Adept and Teacher. Is it possible that Re-incarnation was not taught this Adept by his Master, and that he, as well as H. P. B., had to learn it subsequently? There are said to be sixty-three stages of Adeptship, and it is not impossible. There are, among them, I was told, men who are great natural psychics yet almost illiterate; and at least one who, like Buddha’s
favourite, Ananda, possesses no Siddhis, yet is so intuitional as to be able to understand all esoteric writings at sight. My notes report the Teacher as telling me that “Souls go hence after death to other planets. Souls that are to be born on this Earth are waiting in other invisible planets.” These two statements agree with the latest teachings of H. P. B., the planets in question at either end of the soul’s earthly habitation being members of our “chain of globes.” But there is left a vast hiatus between the two extremes, that we now understand to be filled with the multitudinous evolutionary re-births of the travelling entity. Let the note stand as it is, but H. P. B., in Isis (Vol. I, p. 351) says most unequivocally:
“We will now present a few fragments of this mysterious doctrine of Re-incarnation—as distinct from transmigration—which we have from an authority. Re-incarnation, i.e., the appearance of the same individual, or rather of his astral monad, twice on the same planet, is not a rule in nature; it is an exception, like the terato-logical phenomena of a two-headed infant.”
The cause of it, when it does occur is, she says, that the design of nature to produce a perfect human being has been interfered with, and therefore she must make another attempt. Such exceptional interferences, H. P. B. explains, are the cases of abortion, of infants dying before a certain age, and of congenital and incurable idiocy. In such cases, the higher principles have not been able to unite themselves with the lower, and hence a perfect being has not been born. But—
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“If reason has been so far developed as to become active and discriminative, there is no Re-incarnation on this Earth, for the three parts of the triune man have been united together, and he is capable of running the race. But when the new being has not passed beyond the condition of monad, or when, as in the idiot, the trinity has not been completed, the immortal spark which illuminates it has to re-enter on the earthly plane, as it was frustrated in its first attempt. Otherwise, the mortal or astral, and the immortal, or divine, souls could not progress in unison and pass onward to the sphere above.”
The italics are mine, and thus I was taught. My present belief is that of the Hindus and Buddhists. She told Mr. Walter R. Old—who is my informant—that she was not taught the doctrine of Re-incarnation until 1879—when we were in India. I willingly accept that statement, both because it tallies with our beliefs and writings in New York, and, because, if she knew it when we were writing Isis, there was no earthly reason why she should have misled me or others, even if she had so desired, which I do not believe.
She and I believed, and taught orally as well as wrote, that man is a trinity of physical body, astral body (soul—the Greek psyché), and divine spirit. This will be found set forth in the first official communication made by us to the European reading public. It was an article entitled “The Views of the Theosophists,” and appeared in the Spiritualist for December, 7, 1877. In it, speaking for our whole party, I say:
“We believe that the man of flesh dies, decays, and goes to the crucible of evolution, to be worked over and over again; that the astral man (or double, or soul), freed from physical imprisonment, is followed by the consequences of his earthly deeds, thoughts and desires. He either becomes purged of the last traces of earthly grossness, and, finally, after an incalculable lapse of time, is joined to his divine spirit, and lives forever as an entity, or, having been completely debased on earth, he sinks deeper into matter and is annihilated.”
I go on to say that “the man of pure life and spirituality of aspiration would be drawn towards a more spiritual realm than this earth of ours and repelled by its influence”; while, on the other hand, the vicious and thoroughly depraved person would have lost his spirit, during life, be reduced to a duality instead of a trinity at the hour of death, and, upon passing out of the physical body, become disintegrated; its grosser matter going into the ground and its finer turning into a bhût, or “elementary,” “wandering in and about the habitations of men, obsessing sensitives to glut vicariously its depraved appetites, until its life is burnt out by their very intensity and dissolution comes to crown the dreadful career.”
This was the sum and substance of our teaching at that time about the nature and destiny of man, and shows how infinitely far away from believing in Re-incarnation H. P. B. and I were then. If anyone should be disposed to say that this letter of mine in the Spiritualist represents only my personal views, and that neither the
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Masters nor H. P. B. are responsible for my crudities, I shall just refer them to the issue of the Spiritualist for February 8, 1878, 1 where appears a letter from H. P. B., hereself upon the general subject of my letter; which had aroused a most animated discussion between the chief exponents of British Spiritualism on the one side, and C. C. Massey, John Storer Cobb, Prof. Alex. Wilder, Miss Kislingbury, Dr. C. Carter Blake, Gerald Massey and myself, on the other, and been called by M.A. (Oxon.) “a Theosophical rock hurled by the vigorous arm of the P. T. S. and creating a huge splash” in the unhealthy pool of trans-Atlantic Spiritualism. H. P. B.’s clarion, as usual, waked the echoes. She calls herself “the unattractive old party superficially known as H. P. Blavatsky”—a most significant phrase, says that “the Colonel corresponds directly with Hindu scholars, and has from them a good deal more than he can get from, so clumsy a preceptor as myself;” and that she thinks I have “thrown out some hints worthy of the thoughtful consideration of the unprejudiced.” A second letter from me in answer to M.A. (Oxon.) appeared in February, and a very long, very powerful, and very explicit one from H. P. B., of date N. Y., January 14, 1878, did appear in the Spiritualist of February 8, of the same year. This whole letter is well worth reading. In it she says, á propos of the necessity that an Ego which has failed to unite itself with the physico-psychical duality of
1Apparently the wrong date has been pasted above the cutting in our scrap-book. I think it must have been February 1.
a child who prematurely dies, should re-incarnate—“Man’s cycle is not complete until he becomes individually immortal. No one stage of probation and experience can be skipped over. He must be a man before he can become a spirit. A dead child is a failure of nature—he must live again; and the same psyché re-enters the physical plane through another birth. Such cases, together with those of congenital idiots are, as stated in “Isis Unveiled,” the only instances of human re-incarnation.” Can anything be plainer?
Our party left New York for India on Dec. 17, 1878, and a few days previously H. P. B. wrote to the Revue Spirite, of Paris, an article which appeared in that magazine, Jan. 1, 1879; it was in answer to sundry critics. She now describes man as four-principled, a “tetraktis” or quaternary. I translate:
“Yes, ‘for the Theosophists of New York, man is a trinity, and not a duality.’ He is, however, more than that: for, by adding the physical body, man is a Tetraktis, or quaternary. But, however supported in this particular doctrine we may be by the greatest philosophers of ancient Greece, it is neither to Pythagoras, to Plato, nor furthermore, to the celebrated Theodidaktoi of the school of Alexandria, that we owe it. We shall speak further on of our Masters.”
After citing passages from various ancient authorities in support of the views presented, she says: “our Masters [meaning those from whom we learnt the doctrine] are Patanjali, Kapila, Kanada, all the systems and
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schools of Âryavarta which served as inexhaustible mines for the Greek philosophers, from Pythagoras to Plato.” Not all the Indian schools, certainly, for among them the old sects of Charvakas and Brihaspatis denied the survival of man after death, and were almost exact prototypes of our modern Materialists. It is also to be noted that Patanjali, Kapila, and the other Masters she names, taught that Re-incarnation is the rule in Nature, while she and I declared it to be the exception.
Ultimately, the doctrine of Re-incarnation was fully accepted and expounded, both in its exoteric sense and esoterically. Not publicly taught so early as 1879, however, for it is not to be found in the first two volumes of the Theosophist, but only appears in the third, and then in connection with the Fragments of Occult Truth, a series of essays, chiefly by Mr. A. P. Sinnett, and based upon instructions given him by the Masters and by H. P. B. In its plain exoteric, or orthodox form, I had got it in Ceylon and embodied it in the Buddhist Catechism, of which the first edition, after passing through the ordeal of critical examination by the High Priest Sumângala Thero, appeared in July, 1881. The Catechism, of course, was only a synopsis of the doctrines of Southern Buddhism, not a proclamation of personal beliefs. The exposition of the Re-incarnation theory was rather meagre in the first edition; but it was given at much greater length in the revised edition of 1882, where I defined the relation of the re-incarnated being of this birth to that of the preceding ones, and answered
the question why we have no memory of experiences in prior incarnations. A conversation with Sumângala Thero upon the morality of the theory of Karma, led me to frame the note defining the difference between Personality and Individuality, between physical memory, or the recollection of things which pertain to the ordinary waking consciousness, and spiritual memory, which has to do with the experience of the Higher Self and its Individuality. The distinction had not previously been made, but it was at once accepted and has been propagated by all our chief Theosophical writers since that time. H.P.B. adopted it, and has introduced it in her Key to Theosophy (pp. 134 and 130), with enlargements and illustrations. These are historical facts, and their bearing upon the present discussion is evident.
H.P.B.’s first published declaration that Re-incarnation was an element in Theosophical belief occurs in the leading article of the first number ever issued of the Theosophist (What is Theosophy? Vol. I, p. 3, October, 1879). It was but a bare allusion to the subject and nothing more.
“Theosophy,” she says, “believes also in Anastasis, or continued existence, and in transmigration (evolution), or a series of changes in the soul, which can be defended and explained on strict philosophical principles; and only by making a distinction between Paramâtmâ (transcendental, supreme soul) and Jîvâtmâ (animal, or conscious soul), of the Vedântins.”1 This is
1Anastasis does not mean Re-incarnation, but a raising from the dead of the same person; and Jîvâtmâ is not the animal soul—as even all younger Theosophists are aware.
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extremely vague, and does little towards solving the difficulty. In a foot-note to this passage, however, she promises a series of articles on The World’s Great Theosophists, in which, says she, “we intend showing that from Pythagoras, who got his wisdom in India, down to our best known modern philosophers and Theosophists—David Hume and Shelley, the English poet, and the spiritists of France, included—many believed and yet believe in metempsychosis, or Re-incarnation of the soul, etc.” But she does not clearly say what is her own belief. The promised series of articles most unfortunately never appeared, though it may have been the germ of her idea to devote one of the new volumes of The Secret Doctrine to an account of the Great Adepts.
Mr. Sinnett’s famous series of essays entitled Fragments of Occult Truth was begun by H. P. B. in No.1, of Vol. III, of the Theosophist, as an answer to Mr. Terry, of Melbourne, who had taken exception to the anti-spiritualistic views of Theosophists. In the first Fragment, she reiterates the teaching of New York, that the soul at death passes into another world, “the so-called world of effects (in reality, a state and not a place), and there, purified of much of its material taints, evolves out of itself a new Ego, to be re-born (after a brief period of freedom and enjoyment) in the next higher world of causes, an objective world similar to this present globe of ours, but higher in the spiritual scale, where matter and material tendencies playa far less
important part than here.” Re-incarnation is herein postulated, but not on this globe nor by the same Ego, but by another one which generates out of our present one in an interplanetary state. In Fragment No.3 (Theosophist for Sept., 1882), the new Ego is said after passing its normal time—according to its merit, which agrees with the doctrine taught by Srî Krishna, in the Bhagavadgita—in a state of felicity (Devachan) either to pass on to the “next superior planet,” or return for re-birth on this globe “if it has not completed its appointed tale of earth-lives.” Previously to this there had been nothing published about an appointed number of Re-incarnations, either on this globe or others, but only the outlines sketched of a psychic pilgrimage, or evolutionary progress from star to star, of a Divine Self which clothed itself with a new soul-body in each palingenesis.
In 1880, we two visited Simla, and Mr. A. O. Hume enjoyed the good fortune, which had previously fallen to Mr. Sinnett’s lot, of getting into correspondence with our Mahâtmâs. H. P. B. revisited Simla without me in 1881, and the two friends above-named received in due time from the Masters the Re-incarnation theory. Mr. Sinnett expounded it in Fragment No.4 (Theosophist, Vol. IV, No.1, October, 1882), where he laid the basis of the doctrine of terrestrial Re-incarnations in a series of major and minor, or root and sub-races, and the extension of the process to the other planets of a chain to which the Earth belongs. Mr. Hume did the same in
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his Hints on Esoteric Theosophy (Calcutta, August, 1882), where he synthetically says that “man has many complete rounds to make of the entire cycle (chain, he means) of the planets. And in each planet, in each round, he has many lives to live. At a certain stage of his evolution, when certain portions of his less material elements are fully developed, he becomes morally responsible.” (Op. cit., p. 52.)
Thus, six years after the date of my New York conversation with the Mahâtmâ, the fundamental and necessary idea of Re-incarnation was launched on the sea of modern Western thought from the congenial land of its primeval birth.
I have been obliged to trace its evolution within our lines at the risk of a small digression, as it was necessary for the future welfare of the Society to show the apparent baselessness of the theory that our present grand block of teaching had been in H. P. B.’s possession from the beginning. That theory I consider pernicious and without foundation. If I am wrong, I shall be most happy to be corrected. To admit it would involve the necessity of conceding that she had knowingly and wilfully lent herself to deception and the teaching of untruth in Isis, and later. I believe that she wrote then as she did later, exactly according to her lights, and that she was just as sincere in denying Re-incarnation in 1876-’78 as she was in affirming it after 1882. Why she and I were permitted to put the mis-statement into Isis, and, especially, why it was made to me by the Mahâtmâ,
I cannot explain, unless I was the victim of glamour in believing that I talked with a Master on the evening in question. So let it pass. The Masters could give H. P. B. whatever they chose by dictation, they could write it themselves with her hand by occupying her physical body, and they could enable me to write by giving me hints and outlines and then helping my intuitions. Yet, notwithstanding all this, they certainly did not teach us what we now accept as the truth about Re-incarnation; nor bid us keep silent about it; nor resort to any vague generalities capable of being now twisted into an apparent agreement with our present views; nor interpose to prevent us from writing and teaching the heretical and unscientific idea that, save in certain few cases, the human entity was not, and could not, be re-incarnated on one and the same planet.1
To return to the matter of the occupancy (âvesa) of H. P. B.’s body. There was one collateral proof continually thrusting itself upon one’s notice, if one but paid attention to it. Let us say that the Master A or B had been “on guard” an hour or more, had been working on Isis, alone or jointly with me, and was at a given moment saying something to me or, if third parties were present, to one of them. Suddenly she (he?) stops speaking, rises and leaves the room, excusing herself for
1Some valued friends have tried to persuade me to omit all the foregoing argument about the genesis of the Re-incarnation idea within our movement, but I cannot see it as my duty to do so. I will no more suppress important facts than I will make false statements.
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a moment on some pretext to strangers. She presently returns, looks around as any new arrival would upon entering a room where there was company, makes herself a fresh cigarette, and says something which has not the least reference to what had been talked about when she left the room. Some one present, wishing to keep her to the point, asks her kindly to explain. She shows embarrassment and inability to pick up the thread; perhaps expresses an opinion flatly contradicting what she had just affirmed, and when taken to task, becomes vexed and says strong things; or, when told that she had said so-and-so, appears to take an introspective glance and says, “Oh yes: excuse me,” and goes on with her subject. She was sometimes as quick as lightning in these changes, and I myself, forgetting her multiplex personality, have often been very irritated for her seeming inability to keep to the same opinion, and her bold denial that she had not said what she had certainly said plainly enough, the moment before. In due time, it was explained to me that it takes time, after entering another’s living body, to link on one’s own consciousness with the brain memory of the preceding occupier, and that if one tries to continue a.conversation before this adjustment is complete, just such mistakes as the above may occur. This accords with what the Mahâtmâ told me in New York about occupancy, and with the description of the way in which, we were told in Shankaravijaya, 1 Shankara
1In a recent Calcutta lecture on “The Kinship between Hinduism and Buddhism” I show that the best Orientalists regard
entered the defunct Rajah Amarakâ’s body: “entered and by slow degrees occupied the whole body of the dead down to its very feet.” The explanation of the gradual blending of the two jîvas in one steady heart and other bodily automatism (Cf. XVI) extends to the matter of the two consciousnesses, and until this is perfected, there must be just such a confusion of ideas, assertions, and recollections as I have above described, and as the majority of H. P. B’s visitors must have been puzzled by. Sometimes, when we were alone, has either the departing Somebody said: “I must put this into the brain so that my successor may find it there,” or the incoming Somebody after greeting me with a friendly word, asked me what was the subject of discussion before the “change.”
I have noted above how various Mahâtmâs, in writing to me about H. P. B. and her body, spoke of the latter as a shell occupied by one of themselves. In my Diary of 1878, I find entered under date of October 12, and in the H. P. B. manuscript of Mahâtmâ “M,” the following: “H. P. B. talked with W. alone until 2 after midnight. He confessed he saw three DISTINCT individualities in her. He knows it. Does not wish to say so to Olcott for fear H. S. O. will make fun of him! ! !” The underscorings and points of exclamation are copied literally. The “W.” mentioned was Mr. Wimbridge, who was then our guest. To account for an entry made
Shankaravijaya as an old spurious work. I quote it now merely for the sake of the description of the âvesa process.
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by another person in my private Diary, I must explain that when I left New York on professional business, which I had to do several times in that year, the daily record was written up by “H. P. B.,” the noun of multitude. In the entry of the following day (Oct. 13) the same hand, after specifying the seven visitors who called that evening, writes of one of them: “Dr. Pike, looking at H. P. B. several times, started and said that no one in the world impressed him so much. Once he sees in H. P. B. a girl of 16, at another an old woman of 100, and again a man with a beard! !” On Oct. 22, the same hand writes: “H. P. B. left them [our visitors of that evening] in the dining-room and retired with H. S. O. to the library to write letters. N——[a certain Mahâtmâ] left watch and in came S——[another adept]; the latter with orders from .'. to complete all by the first day of December” [for our departure for India]. On November 9, in another modified H. P. B. script, is written: “Body sick and no hot-water to bathe it. Nice caboose.” November 12, in the “M” script: “H. P. B. played a trick on me by suddenly fainting, to the great dismay of Bates and Wim. Used the greatest will-power to put up the body on its legs.” November 14, in same handwriting: “N——decamped and M. walked in [from and into the H. P. B. body is meant]. Came with definite orders from .'. Have to go at the latest from 15 to 20 Dec. [to India].” November 29, another Mahâtmâ writes that he had “answered the Russian Aunt ”—i.e., the beloved aunt of H. P. B.
Finally, not to dwell upon one subject too long, on Nov. 30, a third Mahâtmâ writes: “Belle Mitchell came at 12 and took away the S——[Mahâtmâ M.] for a walk and drive. Went to Macy’s. Had to materialise rupees. H. P. B. came home at 4, etc.” I have also various letters from the Mahâtmâs alluding to H. P. B. in her own individual capacity, sometimes speaking very frankly about her peculiarities, good and bad, and was once sent, by the Masters, with writter instructions, on a confidential mission to another city to bring about certain events necessary for her spiritual evolution. I have the document still. One quite long letter that I received in 1879, while in Rajputana, most strangely alters her sex, speaks of her in the male gender, and confounds her with Mahâtmâ M.—known as our Guru. It says—about a first draft of the letter itself which had been written but not sent me: “Owing to certain expressions therein, the letter was stopped on its way by order of our Brother H. P. B. As you are not under my direct guidance but his (hers), we have naught to say, either of us; etc. And again: “Our Brother H. P. B. rightly remarked at Jeypore that, etc.” It is a noble communication throughout, and if it were pertinent to our present theme, I should feel tempted to publish it, so as to show the high quality of the correspondence that for years went on between my blessed Teachers and myself. It was in this particular letter that I was told, in answer to my expressed desire to retire from the world and go and live with them, that, “The only means available and
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at hand for you to reach us, is through the Theosophical Society,” which I was abjured to consolidate, push forward and build up; I must learn to be unselfish. My correspondent adds: “None of us live for ourselves, we all live for humanity.” This was the spirit of all my instructions, this is the idea inculcated throughout Isis Unveiled. Let the literary faults of that book be what they may; let its author be charged with plagiarism or not; the sum and substance of its argument is that man is of a complex nature, animal at one extreme, divine at the other; and that the only real and perfect existence, the only one that is free from illusions, pain and sorrow, because in it, their cause—Ignorance—does not exist, is that of the spirit, the Highest Self. The book incites to pure and high living, to expansion of mind and universality of tenderness and sympathy; it shows there is a Path upwards, and that it is accessible to the wise who are brave; it traces all modern knowledge and speculation to archaic sources; and, affirming the past and present existence of Adepts and of occult science, affords us a stimulus to work and an ideal to work up to.
Upon its appearance the book made such a sensation that the first edition was exhausted within ten days.
1The American Bookseller (October, 1877), says: “The sale. . . is unprecedented for a work of its kind, the entire edition having been exhausted within ten days of the date of publication. In 1783, Godfrey Higgins published his Anacalypsis, a work of similar character and although only 200 copies were printed, at the death of the author, a number of years after, many copies remained unsold, and were disposed of in bulk by his executors to a London bookseller. The work is now exceedingly rare and readily brings $100 per
The critics, on the whole, dealt kindly with it. Dr. Shelton Mackenzie, one of the most capable ones of the day, writes that “it is one of the most remarkable works for originality of thought, thoroughness of research, depth of philosophic exposition, and variety and extent of learning that has appeared for very many years” (Phila. Press, October 9, 1887). The literary critic of the N. Y. Herald (Sep. 30, 1877), says that independent minds “will welcome the new publication as a most valuable contribution to philosophical literature,” and that it “will supplement the Anacalypsis of Godfrey Higgins. There is a great resemblance between the works. . . . With its striking peculiarities, its audacity, its versatility and the prodigious variety of subjects which it notices and handles, it is one of the remarkable productions of the century.” Dr. G. Bloede, an erudite German scholar, says that, “under all considerations, it will range among the most important contributions to the literature of the modern science of the spirit, and be worth the attention of every thinking student of this.”
copy. The world has grown older since the days of Higgins, and Madame Blavatsky’s book is of greater interest; but still the demand for it is quite remarkable, and far beyond the expectations of its publishers.” Perfectly true; and so surprised and pleased was Mr. Bouton, that on Sunday, Feb. 10, 1878, in my presence, he offered her $5,000 as copyright on an edition of a book in one volume, if she would write it, which should a little more unveil Isis. He intended to print only 100 copies and make the price $100 per copy. Though she needed money badly enough, she refused the offer on the ground that she was not permitted at that time to divulge any more arcane secrets than she had done in Isis. Mr. Bouton is still living and can corroborate this statement.
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Some of the notices were flippant and prejudiced enough to make it clear that the critics had not read the book. For instance, the Springfield Republican said it was “a large dish of hash”; The N. Y. Sun classifies it with the similar works of past times as “discarded rubbish”; the Editor of the N. Y. Times wrote to Mr. Bouton that he was sorry they could not touch Isis Unveiled, as they “have a holy horror of Mme. Blavatsky and her letters”; the N. Y. Tribune says her learning is “crude and undigested” and “her incoherent account of Brahmanism and Buddhism, suggests a hint of the presumption rather than the information of the writer.” And so on and so forth. The weighty fact, however, is that the book has become a classic—as Mr. Quaritch prophesied to Mr. Bouton that it would; 1 has gone through a number of editions; and now, after the lapse of seventeen years, is in demand all over the world. When it was ready for publication I, of course, did what I could to bring it to the notice of my personal acquaintances; and I remember shortly afterwards meeting one of them—a leading legal functionary—in the street, and having him shake his fist at me in a friendly way, and say, “I have a crow to pick with you.” “And why?” I asked. “Why? Because you made me buy Isis
1Mr. Quaritch writes to Mr. Bouton from London, December 27, 1877, in a letter which the latter kindly gave us as an encouraging forecast: “The book will evidently make its way in England and become a classic. I am very glad to be the English agent.” And, I may add, we were more glad that he should be; knowing his reputation for indomitable energy and high-mindedness.
Unveiled, and I found it so fascinating that my law cases are getting into arrears, and I have been sitting up nearly the whole of the past two nights to read it. Not only that, but she makes me feel what a lot of commonplace men we are in comparison with those Eastern mystics and philosophers she writes so charmingly about.” The first money received for a copy of Isis was sent me by a lady of Styria with her order; we kept it “for luck,” and it now hangs, framed, on the walls of the Theosophist office at Adyar.
The truest thing ever said about Isis was the expression of an American author that it is “a book with a revolution in it.”