OLD DIARY LEAVES, Fourth Series (1887-92)
by Henry Steel Olcott
TRAVELS AND LECTURES IN THE BRITISH
I VERY often paste into my Diary visiting-cards of notable callers, small handbills of my lectures, specimens of admission tickets to our anniversaries, and such like mementos of current events, and find it sometimes useful and always interesting. For example, to those who know H. P. B. only as a name, and regard her as a sort of mysterious Priestess, it would be perhaps interesting to look at the card I am just turning to in the Diary of 1889:
Saturdays, 4 to 10 o’clock
18 Lansdowne Road,
Notting Hill, W.
And this old one of the earliest days at Bombay:
H. P. BLAVATSKY,
Corresponding Sec. of the Theosophical Society,
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There are many cards pasted in the Diary for that year, among them those of some of the most eminent statesmen, soldiers, civilians, and nobles of Japan, and, most conspicuous of all, the cards of the Chinese General and Chief Priests who visited me on board ship at Shanghai. These are on thin crimson paper, 3½ X 7 inches in size!
On 1st October I left London for a short tour in Wales, during which I lectured at Merthyr Tydvil and Tenby, the audiences being, as I was told, unusually large. From the latter place I went on to Liverpool, where I had the joy of meeting my sister after a separation of eleven years. She was, in the earliest days of the T. S. in New York, a staunch friend and defender of H. P. B., one instance of her magnanimous loyalty having been her inducing her husband to take a flat in the same apartment house where we had our headquarters and residence, so that by her presence a stop might be put to the silly and malicious gossip that our personal relations were not of a proper character. For this unsuggested act of devotion I was ever afterwards grateful. We talked, walked, and drove, and saw the sights together and lived the past over again. One thing that gave us exquisite pleasure was an organ recital by Mr., afterwards Sir, W. T. Best, at St. George’s Hall. The great organ there, it will be remembered, has 8,000 pipes, and its tone and compass are magnificent. Under the master’s playing we were enraptured to hear the sounds of rolling and crashing thunder among
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crags, the echoing fall of waters, the rush of winds, the cries of animals and songs of birds, the strains of musical instruments, and the soaring voices of men and women. We sat spell-bound, and sighed when the last note was played.
My next move was across the rough Irish Channel to Ireland, the unhappy land of the lightest-hearted people in the world. On arrival at Dublin my ever esteemed friend, Mr. F. J. Dick, took me to his house, and, like all our local members, showed me every possible kindness. I found in the Branch T. S. some very earnest and thoughtful men and women, eager to know the truth and brave enough to proclaim it at every hazard. On the 14th, in the evening, I lectured in the “Antient Concert Rooms” on the locally revolutionary subject, “Have We Lived on Earth Before?” Whether because of it or not, the place was crowded, and many were turned away from the doors. The Dublin papers had their say about it, and the Jarvey, or local Punch, printed some funny verses that set the town laughing. But the criticisms also set many to thinking, and strengthened our movement; which being so, the jesting did not matter in the least. Some public speakers do not realise that the only fatal weapon to fear is that of silence; if one’s book, article, lecture, concert, or play is left unnoticed, that is bad; abuse, however truculent, is almost as beneficial as praise—much better than flattery. Of course some unkind things were said against us, but what else could have been anticipated from
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the Irish Press? Yet the Methodist Times showed an unexpected generosity when it said:
“Dublin is being honored by a visit from Colonel Olcott, the President of the Theosophical Society. There has been a Lodge of the Society meeting in the city for some time, and it is said to number in its membership many students of Trinity College. Whether the President’s visit will win adherents for Theosophy remains to be seen; but his lectures have roused much controversy, and public attention is being called to the movement.”
With Mr. B. Keightley, who had accompanied me from England, I next went to Limerick, but nearly missed arriving in time for my advertised lecture. A stupid railway porter so misdirected me that at a certain junction we were being carried away towards Cork, and had got as far as Blarney in the wrong train before we could turn back. Of course, no lover of Irish humor would miss the chance of visiting the famous Blarney Castle, although it was raining, and we had to tramp through the mud to it, so we went, and came away satisfied. We got to Limerick in time to eat something at Mr. Gibson’s house and make change of dress before the lecture, which was on “Among the Orientals”. The next day we regretfully left our friends and returned to Dublin. On the 17th I went by a fast train, in four hours, to Belfast, and lectured in Ulster Minor Hall to a most thoughtful audience, taking the subject of Reincarnation, under the same title as in Dublin. Among the hearers were
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a good many undergraduates who took copious notes. The Rev. J. C. Street, an Unitarian preacher, of great local fame, made an excellent presiding officer, and nothing could have been fairer than the tone of his introductory and closing remarks. The Northern Whig, the leading paper, I believe, in the North of Ireland, contained the following report of the proceedings:
“The Ulster Minor Hall was very well filled last evening, when Colonel Henry S. Olcott, President of the Theosophical Society, lectured on the above subject. From the composition of the audience, it was evident that curiosity to hear the tenets of the non-fashionable cult expounded by so eminent an authority as Colonel Olcott was the leading motive which had brought them together. There was a fair representation of local scientific men, including Professor Everett, and there were also several clergymen, among whom were Rev. Dr. A. C. Murphy, Rev. Dr. Magee (Dublin), Rev. W. R. L. Kinahan, and Rev. J. Bell. The Secularist Society were in strong force, as was also the student element—divinity and otherwise—while not a few ladies were among the attendance. Colonel Olcott, an elderly gentleman with a fine head and a commanding presence, was introduced by Rev. Mr. Street, who was his sole companion on the platform. The lecturer’s style was fluent and forcible, yet quiet withal, and he dealt with his subject simply in an explanatory—never in a declamatory—manner. His brief history of the origin and progress of the
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Theosophical Society; and his still briefer treatment of the theory of pre-incarnation, was given with the air of a man who had an immense store of power in reserve. At the conclusion of the lecture a number of questions, more or less pertinent to the subject dealt with, were asked by different members of the audience, and answered by Colonel Olcott. It is not very probable that the Theosophical Society will recruit its membership very heavily from Belfast; but, however this may be, the Society could scarcely have a more able and courteous pioneer to represent them amongst us than their President.
“Rev. J. C. Street, in taking the chair, said he had been asked to do so by the Branch in Dublin, as there was no local representation of the Theosophical Society in Belfast. He was not himself a member of the organisation, and, until a comparatively recent date, he had been unaware even of its existence. He owed his first acquaintance with its objects and aims to the book published by Mrs. Besant, Why I Became a Theosophist; and last Sunday, in his own church, he had referred to the subject of that book at some length, quite independently, however, of any connection with Colonel Olcott’s visit to Belfast. After all, therefore, it was not, perhaps, inappropriate that he should have been asked to preside that evening.”
We had a still greater surprise in store for the prejudiced public; it was this:
Lepracaun! Banshee! Deence She! Matha de Danaun!
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“THE IRISH FAIRIES SCIENTIFICALLY CONSIDERED,”
will (by special request) be delivered by
(President of the Theosophical Society)
On Monday evening, 21st October, at eight o’clock, in the
ANTIENT CONCERT ROOMS,
Great Brunswick Street.
“Lay your ear close to the hill,
Do you not catch the tiny clamor,
Busy click of an elfin hammer,
Voice of the Lepracaun singing shrill
As he merrily plies his trade?”
This was said to be the first time that this most popular of Irish beliefs—superstitions, the conceited ignorants call it—had been handled in this serious manner. The Daily News (London) gave an editorial column to it, and said that unquestionably I must be a man of moral courage to stand up and defend a belief that it had been so long the fashion to laugh at—or words to that effect. The fact is, I wanted to give the tens of thousands of good people who secretly cherished this charming tradition the comfort of knowing that, under the classification of Nature Spirits, or Elementals, the existence of their fairies is believed in by a vast majority of mankind. To prepare for the lecture, I spent as much time as I could at the
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National Library, in Kildare Street, looking up every book that treated the subject. I found most of the authors who pretended to speak in the name of Science displaying as much ignorance as prejudice; and one—I think it was Grant Allen—remarked that “the Irish fairies went out when the Board Schoolmaster opened his doors”. He did not see that the easy way to account for this fact is that the cultivation of the lower rationalistic faculty tends to cut off the finer soul-perceptions which put man in close touch with the finer forces of Nature, and to destroy whatever clairvoyant faculty he may have inherited. So that while the “fairies” do vanish, it is only from the sight of the so-called educated brain, the unspoiled peasantry enjoying now, as they ever did, the realisation of the next subtler plane of consciousness.1 One thing struck me, viz., that the Isle of Man is said by tradition to have been a great centre of magic and magicians; and when I put this in connection with the mysterious arms of Man, three bent human legs united at the
1Besides the schoolmaster, the priest has, of course, been as active as he can to root out from the Irish character the simple belief in nature spirits, as the following story from Blackwood’s Magazine shows. When neither argument nor persuasion prove efficient they resort to that most potent of all measures, the destruction of objects, such as images, books, temples, symbols, etc., around which what they regard as popular superstitions may centre. What the Irish priest did in this instance was done by the Lord Archbishop of Goa to the Tooth Relic of the Buddha when it fell into his hands, although fabulous sums were offered by Buddhist monarchies for its ransom. So, also, through all times history has recorded the like futile endeavors of paramount powers to extirpate popular beliefs. Such mental prepossessions can never be destroyed by force; hence we see the old “pagan beliefs” lingering among the lower classes of most nations throughout
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centre, I recognised it as a form of the Svastika deliberately adopted by the old Manx occultists, probably from still more ancient teachers, to preserve and hand down the concept of the action of spirit in matter which, in the Svastika, forms a component of the T. S. Seal. I had a large and attentive audience at the lecture, and the vote of thanks at the close was moved by that great Keltic scholar and authority, Douglas Hyde, whose words of praise were precious. Mr. W. Q. Judge, who was in Ireland on a visit to his relatives, was present.
Christendom, and only succumbing when the “Board Schoolmaster” opens his doors, and, as above remarked, drowns intuition by the abnormal stimulus of the intellect of the lower Manas. Blackwood’s writer says:
“On Inishkea, a particular family handed down from father to son a stone called the Neogue (probably part of some image), with which the owners used to make the weather to their liking. One day a party of tourists visited Inishkea, heard of the Neogue, saw it, and wrote about it in the papers. The priest in whose parish Inishkea lay either had not known of this survival of paganism, or thought that no one else knew of it, but when the thing was made public he decided to act. So he visited the island, took the Neogue and broke it up into tiny fragments and scattered them to the four winds. The priest was sacrosanct, but the islanders vowed vengeance, and an unfortunate man of science, who had lived some time among them, was pitched upon as certainly the person who had made the story public. This man, after some time, returned to complete his investigations at Inishkea, and was warned of danger; but he laughed at the idea, and said the people were his very good friends, as indeed they had been. However, he was hardly out of the boat before they fell upon him and beat him so that he never completely recovered—indeed, died in consequence of his injuries, some years later. Probably a like fate would befall anyone who touched the cursing stone on Tory, which was ‘turned on’ the ‘Wasp’ gunboat after she brought a posse of bailiffs there to levy county cess; and, as everyone knows, the ‘Wasp’ ran on Tory and lost every soul on board. Only the other day (10th ultimo) I heard that a fish-buyer stationed there displeased the people; the owner of the stone ‘turned it on him,’ and a month after the buyer’s wife committed suicide.”
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The next day I returned to Liverpool after a heart-searching fit of seasickness, for the provocation of which this uneasy stretch of water is unequalled if we except that one to be crossed between Tuticorin and Colombo on those cockleshells, the “Aska” and “Amra,” that the B. I. S. N. Co. provide for their passenger victims.
My sister rejoined me in London, and we had a week or so more together.
I was plied with an unusual number of questions after a lecture at Birmingham, in the Masonic Hall—before a large audience. This “heckling” is almost unknown in India, where the audience, after delivering their volleys of applause, let one quietly depart; but it is, I think, a useful custom, for it often makes one see his subject in new lights, and gives him the chance to drive home his arguments by fresh illustrations and altered presentations. It usually happens that the answering of these questions takes up as much time as the original lecture.
Of course, I am not in a position to pass any opinion on the alleged efficacy of the weather breeding and cursing stones mentioned, but that it is possible for a trained magician or sorcerer, as the case may be, to impart to an image either beneficent or maleficent potencies is beyond question. The process—an elaborate one, and of a mesmeric character—is universally known throughout India under the name of Prâná Pratishta. It is, in fact, the infusion into the inert mass of a portion of human vital aura, and the fixing of it there by an effort of concentrated will-power. The degree of power imparted, and its permanency, will entirely depend upon the degree of spiritual training reached by the operator. For this reason the temple in which the idols have been “consecrated” by the great adepts of the olden time, such as Sankarâchârya. Râmânujâchârya, Madhvâchârya, and the others more ancient than they, are far more revered than any set up by Brahmins of subsequent date, who are believed to have little or no spiritual power, however learned in the letter of the Shastras they may be,
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On 4th November I lectured at Lee, Staffordshire, and the next day at Westminster Town Hall, London. On Wednesday, M. A. Oxon, C. C. Massey, intimate friends of fifteen years, and I dined together, and spent a delightful evening in varied talk about persons and things, chiefly Spiritualism and Theosophy. Oxon showed me the cover of one of the mysteriously diverted letters that I describe in the first volume of these memoirs; letters addressed to me at New York from various parts of the world, but by some occult agency arrested in transit, and dropped on the sorters’ tables in the Philadelphia G. P.O., by them stamped on the back and delivered to me at H. P. B.’s house by the city postman, without having passed through the New York G. P.O., or being stamped in the addressed city. This particular one was posted at Hartford (Conn.) and bore the stamps of Hartford and Philadelphia, but not that of New York, although addressed to my office in that city. I had sent the cover to Oxon as a curiosity, as I did all the others received to other friends and correspondents.
Among my visits of the month was one to Middleton Park, the country-seat of my friends the Earl and Countess of Jersey, where, with other notabilities, I had the pleasure of meeting the recently appointed Governor of Madras, now Lord Northcote of Exeter, and Lady Northcote. I was glad to hear him say that the Conservative party as a whole had great respect for Mr. Bradlaugh for his abilities and his powerful character; they found him also always well prepared
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for the debates in which he might engage, having evidently studied out his subject thoroughly and having his facts ready for orderly presentation. They would have been but too glad to have won him over to their side, had that been possible. On Sunday our house party went to the quaint old village church, full of ancient reminiscences, and I was greatly interested in the, to me, unique experience.
Returned to town, I had a serious consultation with Massey, in his capacity of a barrister, as to the expediency of allowing H. P. B. to go into Court to prosecute some of her slanderers. He most emphatically protested against it, saying that, however strong a case she might have, there was but faint chance of getting a verdict from the average jury or judge: prejudices were entirely too strong: it was better for her to continue to bear all in silence. This was my opinion also.
Dr. Lloyd Tuckey, now so widely known as an authority on therapeutic hypnotism, had me to dinner one day, and together we tried an instructive experiment. A certain subject whom he had found readily responsive to almost every suggestion he had made to her when hypnotised had suddenly become insensitive, and he could no longer control her mental action. The problem was to be solved, and we were to explore somewhat new ground. After much talk together, I found that her change dated from a certain former occasion when a lady and the Doctor were rather amusing themselves in the presence of the hypnotised, and presumably insensible, subject, with something
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rather ludicrous in her expression or appearance. It at once struck me that very likely the hypnosis had not been deep enough to completely obliterate external consciousness; and that resenting, as almost every woman will, the idea of affording cause of laughter to another woman in the presence of a physician whom she held in high esteem, and whose esteem she coveted, she had created in herself the rooted determination never again to make it possible for her to be thrown into a state where she should not retain her perfect self-control The Doctor kindly allowed me to try if I could not remove this prepossession by kind discussion, so I sent him out of the room and remained with the subject alone. I appealed to her natural benevolence of heart to do what she could to make the Doctor better able to treat the sick by increasing his knowledge of abnormal nervous states, representing as a highly meritorious act her willingness to share in the merit of such altruism. At first she shook her head and set her lips, but little by little the pure springs of her kindly ideal of helping the sick and suffering were touched, and she consented to once more make herself passive to the Doctor’s suggestions. He then returned from the other room, hypnotised her, and she was as responsive as before. Has this not a strong bearing upon the question of the perversion of the moral sense in hypnosis at the pleasure of the experimenter? And yet experiments which I saw made by Professor Bernheim at the Nancy Civil Hospital seem to strengthen the view that a really good hypnotic subject can keep
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no liberty of impulse against the will of an experienced operator. It is a puzzle still unsolved.
Speaking of hypnotism recalls an evening in H. P. B.’s sitting-room at Lansdowne Road, when Carl Hansen, the Danish professional hypnotist, made some experiments of an edifying nature. He is one of the most successful practitioners in the world, and, in fact, so successful have his demonstrations been that more than one Government has forbidden him to give them in public. It was, I think, on the evening above referred to that one of the company present—Mrs. Besant—was made to seem to the subject to have disappeared from the room. Although she stood directly in front of him and spoke to him, he seemed neither to see nor hear her. She took from H. P. B.’s whist-table a handkerchief and dangled it by one corner before the subject’s eyes, but he did not see her hand holding it, though he did see the handkerchief, and was much amused at its self-suspension in the air. Turning to H. P. B., he said: “Madame, you must be doing some magic, for I see a handkerchief out there with nothing to hold it up: what is it?” Mrs. Besant then held against her back a playing-card, drawn at random and face downward from a pack, and again the subject saw it, and not Mrs. Besant: her body was transparent to his psychical vision. This was an astounding experiment, for neither Mrs. Besant nor any of the others in the room had knowledge of the value of the card until the subject called it out, and we each verified his accuracy. If Hansen had seen it
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first, then we might presume that it was a case of telepathy, but he did not. Let the Materialist explain the phenomenon—if he can. A fortnight later, I presided at a private reception and conversazione given him by a lady friend, at which he made other excellent demonstrations. Among them was this: He applied to a person’s right upper arm a small silver match-box, telling him that the skin beneath it would become red and inflamed, but the corresponding tract on the other arm would be perfectly insensible to touch or pricking. The experiment was a perfect success at the first trial. At this, as at two previous soirées at which I had met him, he suggested that a certain one of the company would become invisible to the subject; and so the latter, when asked to count the persons present, invariably failed to count the one designated, or to see anything but empty space at the point where the person was actually standing. His bodily vision was inhibited as to that one individual, but all the others were visible to him.
A London paper having published a statement of its New York correspondent, early in October, to the effect that Dr. Coues had asserted that Madame Blavatsky had been expelled from the Theosophical Society, she addressed to the editor an amusingly combative letter, from which the following paragraphs are quoted:
“If you would have the truth, then I may as well give it you now. Madame Blavatsky, as one of the
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chief founders of the T. S., cannot be expelled from the Society, for several good reasons, the least of which is that there is no one in the Society having authority to do so—not even the President-Founder, Colonel Olcott—and in such a case Madame Blavatsky might, with as much good right, return the compliment and expel him. But as it is not likely that our President will ever become a lunatic, no such event threatens the Theosophical Society just now.
“Let, then, the Yankee cock-and-bull story—just set afloat by its author, an ex-Theosophist, who WAS HIMSELF EXPELLED FROM our AMERICAN SECTION TWO MONTHS AGO FOR SLANDER, as the whole Theosophical Society knows—remain for what it is worth, and make the INITIATED readers merry.
“London, October 9.”
[The capitals are Madame Blavatsky’s.-ED.]
The comical picture she paints of the two Founders expelling each other reminds one of the equally amusing historical incident of the three Popes of unsavory memory—Gregory VI, Silvester III, and Benedict IX—who contended with each other in the eleventh century for the chair of St. Peter, hurled their bulls of excommunication at each other’s heads, and resorted to military force to sustain their several pretensions!
As I could not return to India in time for the usual Convention, none was held in 1889, but in place of it a Conference at Bombay was arranged for and held.
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There had been something like a deadlock occasioned by the passage of the unpopular Rules of 1888 and the unrest provoked by H. P. B.’s revolutionary action in Europe, but as the Report of the Conference (Theosophist, January, 1890) says: “The meeting was in every respect a remarkable success . . . One circumstance which greatly contributed to the good-feeling and cheerfulness of the Brothers in Conference was the news that New York, London, and Adyar were in future to pull together in unity and unison, and that, for the present at least, the disintegrating forces. . . had been overcome and silenced.” Our trusty veteran colleague, Judge N. D. Khandalvâlâ, occupied the chair, and conducted the business of the meeting with perfect and successful impartiality. The Conference recommended the retention of the policy of fees. At the close a very cordial vote of confidence in the Founders was passed by acclamation. As it mirrors the feeling of her colleagues towards H. P. B., and was a great solace to her in her retirement, I will quote it:
“Resolved,—That this Conference of the Fellows of the Indian Section of the Theosophical Society regards with unfeigned indignation the malicious attempts made lately to injure the Society by cowardly attacks on Madame Blavatsky, who, as well as her equally devoted colleague Colonel Olcott, has freely given her whole energies for the past fifteen years to the establishment of a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood, and the revival of Eastern Philosophy and Religion.
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“The Conference wishes to convey to both the Founders of the Society the assurance of its most cordial and grateful recognition of the great services they have rendered to India, and are now rendering to the world at large.”
An attempt was made to form a Ceylon Section, under, first, Mr. Leadbeater, next, C. F. Powell, and lastly, Dr. Daly, but it proved impracticable, and was finally abandoned. The Sinhalese are not much given to study, being rather practical than ideal, more workers than dreamers; besides which, they have no class like that of the Brahmins, who have a hereditary proclivity for philosophical and metaphysical speculation. Although Branches which we organised in 1880 are still active and turning out excellent work, it is altogether within the lines of Buddhism. They neither understand nor wish to understand the contents of other religious systems; and when they speak of themselves as Branches of our Society, it is always with this reservation, that they do their best for Buddhism and acknowledge the President-Founder as their principal adviser and leader—when anything particularly knotty has to be solved, or any great obstacle has to be cleared away.
In the month of December the Society lost a very important worker in Pandit N. Bhashyacharya, F.T.S., Director of the Adyar Library, who succumbed to blood poisoning. He was one of the best Sanskrit Pandits of India; wonderfully well read in that classical literature; a good English scholar; a public speaker
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equally at home in four languages; a brave man and an enlightened reformer. He gave us his private collection of palm-leaf MSS., thus forming the nucleus of the now large and fine collection in the Adyar Library. A handsome commemorative tablet in chiselled brass has been placed in the Oriental section to his memory.
I was fortunate enough to make, during this visit, the acquaintance of the late Mrs. Louise Cotton, a successful palmist, and author of a handbook on the subject. She came one morning to see H. P. B., and read her palm and those of Mrs. Besant and myself all accurately. Yet, as I have elsewhere said, it seems to me as if this palm-reading partakes more than anything else of the nature of Psychometry, because I have noticed that the palmisters of India and those of the West are about equally successful although reading the hand-lines by two quite opposite systems. For instance, the Line of Life is traced downward towards the wrist in the one system, and upward from the wrist in the other. The same remark perhaps applies to readings by Phrenology, Physiognomy, and Buchanan’s Sarcognomy: far better results are obtained by one observer than by another equally skilled, because the one reads character as much by psychometrical faculty, and could be as successful if he read with closed eyes, whereas the other goes by the physical signs observable on the surface of the body. One evening, in 1885, being in London, I took tea with the Governor of Newgate Prison, in company with a dear old friend, Captain Edward Costello, formerly of the Rifle Brigade,
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a Peninsular veteran. The conversation turning on Phrenology, as the Governor was showing me the skulls of some notorious criminals, I asked whether he had ever noticed in the heads of great malefactors that excessive development of the posterior portion of the cranium and smallness of the anterior and superior parts which Gall’s system associated with criminal propensities. He said he had not noticed any marked difference between them and the heads of ordinary decent citizens. “Here for instance,” continued he, “are the skulls of [I won’t be sure, but I think it was Jack Shephard and some other equally notorious rascal] . . . and . . . and yet you see they are quite like other men’s.” They were, in fact; but I told him that Professor J. R. Buchanan, of America, who had proposed some modifications in the rules of Phrenology, asserted that great activity in any organ of the brain caused a gradual absorption of the bone of the skull in the part which touched it. Thus, if that theory be true, we ought to find, on putting a lighted candle inside the skull, such and such parts translucent, while such others as cover the moral and spiritual faculties should be opaque. “Capital idea,” said the Governor; “suppose we try the experiment.” A lighted candle was brought inserted into each skull, and sure enough the bone over the criminal convolutions was thinnest of all, in some instances so very thin as to let the light shine as through an old horn lantern.
On 29th November I took train for Edinburgh to visit our Branch, which was originally formed in
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1884, under the presidency of the late Mr. Cameron, the penmaker. It may be remembered by my constant readers my surprise and gratification to be accosted at the close of my lecture by the most popular preacher of Edinburgh, with thanks and blessings for the eclectic religious views I had presented as those sustained by our Society, and fundamental in all the great religions; views which, he said, he was preaching from his pulpit every Sunday; and how he had bade me godspeed. It may also be recalled that after the lecture I formed the Scottish T. S., giving it, as I had the Bengal T. S. of Calcutta, a general superintendence and leadership over future Scottish Branches. Well, the continuance of this privilege had not been earned by work, but, on the contrary, the one Branch formed had been long inactive, and had now retired behind closed doors, veiling its activities and the personalities of its members under cover of privacy. As of partly Scottish blood—how many strains have not we Americans—and always an interested observer of the national trend of thought, I had, and have, the deep conviction that, when the chains of narrow sectarian dogmatism are flung off, a body of splendid philosophical leaders will step from Scotland into the European arena of our movement, and push it on to a brilliant future. I am counting on that; it will come.
My welcome at Edinburgh was cordial in the extreme, and I found a most congenial atmosphere in the company of the gentlemen whom I met at a private lecture at the residence of my host and hostess.
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Returned to London, I had a series of public lectures, private calls, conversation-meetings, and other functions to attend to, much to H. P. B.’s dissatisfaction, as above noted. Then came a visit to Bradford, where that joyous-hearted, keen-brained friend, Oliver Firth, has held the fort for us for many years. My visit was with the object of fulfilling an engagement to lecture on “The Awakening of Japan,” in a “star” course in which Sir Charles Dilke, Bart., M.P., had given the opening discourse. Mr. W. Pollard Byles, Editor of the Bradford Observer (now M.P.), presided, and said some very kind things at the close. The same gentleman presided at my lecture on “Theosophy” on the next evening. On the 17th (December) I lectured at Newcastle, and the next day returned to London, to preside at a meeting of the British Section, T. S. Finally, my tickets for the return journey to India had to be taken, and on the 26th I left for Colombo via Marseilles, after a most affectionate farewell from H. P. B., and followed by the kind wishes of all friends. I was still feeling badly from the effects of a renewed attack of my old enemy, the diarrhoea of Burmese Expedition and Japan Tour fame, which had troubled me no little during my whole stay in England.
The advantage of a metaphysician putting aside his dreamings and taking to physics when travelling was humorously illustrated in the case of young E. D. Fawcett, the author, who was going out with me to help us at Adyar. At the Charing Cross station he lost the following things: his Gibus hat, railway ticket
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to Marseilles (cost £6), two boxes of books, and 150 cigars. “Nothing surprising, then, that I should have entered in my Diary: “If he goes on moving about like this he will be in danger of losing his head!” As he does not mind being teased about his absent-mindedness, I have risked telling this story.
The old year going out and the new one coming in saw me on board the “Oxus” at sea, four days out from Marseilles, and bound for Colombo.