OLD DIARY LEAVES, Fifth Series (1893-96)
by Henry Steel Olcott
MR. JUDGE’S DEATH
THE present is the last chapter but one of the Fifth Series, or volume, of my reminiscences of the Theosophical Society’s history. It has been a pleasure to me to write them and, to judge from my correspondence to others to read them. I consider it a most fortunate circumstance that I should have lived through all these one hundred and fifty months of history-writing, for the details are known to no person but myself, now that H. P. B. is gone, and it would have been a pity if this movement, so clearly destined to exercise a beneficent influence upon many nations and to do so much good in disseminating noble religious teachings among mankind, should have gone without an accurate record of its history; the more so when the incidents have been so stirring and the struggles so severe. It is consoling to me to know that, even if I should be snatched away now from my work, correct versions of crises in our fortunes have passed into this written record, enabling our future historian, if so inclined, to tell the truth about us.
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The term of H. E. Lord Wenlock as Governor of Madras approached its end. With Mr. Clark, on the evening of the 1st of March, I attended his farewell Levee at the Banqueting Hall and saw an unusual display of bright uniforms and glittering princely robes. Three days later a Wenlock Memorial Committee, headed by the Maharajah of Vizianagram and Rajah Sir S. Ramaswamy Mudaliar, gave a farewell entertainment to His Excellency and Lady Wenlock at the same place, which was also a very gorgeous function.
The next day I received an invitation by telegram from Mysore to come there and form a Branch. On the 15th I saw Mr. Clark off by the “Clan Mackenzie” for Colombo and England. On the 17th I wrote an address to the American Convention and issued an Executive Notice appointing that veteran Sinhalese nobleman, Dullewe Adigar, General Manager of Buddhist Schools in the Kandy District. The same evening I left for Mysore, travelling all night, and reaching Bangalore at 7 on the following morning. The local members met me at the station, gave me breakfast, and saw me off again. After a train journey taking the whole day I arrived in the evening at Mysore, the capital of the Maharajah of that State. Here, again, friends met me at the station and conducted me to the house where I was to be put up. That great native statesman, Sir Seshadri Iyer, whose remarkable abilities are being more and more recognised since his death, in the ever-increasing prosperity of Mysore,
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came to have a talk with me on that subject nearest to his heart—the Vedânta Philosophy.
As usual, I had been garlanded, besprinkled with perfume, and made the recipient of very complementary addresses. This was all very nice; but after a time the stomach became clamorous for food. Unhappily for me, the local committee had not bethought them of supplying me with cooking utensils and so I had to make a scratch dinner on cold boiled rice, a loaf brought from the bazaar, and milk. But the morning brought better luck, for an officer of the Mysore Durbar, the Marquis Viviani de Ferrayzani, sent me the necessary pots and pans, but too late to save me from an attack of indigestion which lasted all day.
I called at the house of the sister of Mr. Govindacharlu, a learned Visishtadwaita Brahmin, a retired Government servant, who had been good enough to offer free quarters to the proposed Branch. I also went to the Oriental Library, directed by my friend Pandit Mahadeva Sastri, under whose wise management it had become a most useful collection of ancient manuscripts and printed books. I also paid my respects to the Marquis Viviani and thanked him for the loan of the utensils. In the evening I addressed a crowded audience on the subject of “Theosophy”. The most zealous advocate of female education in the Madras Presidency has been Mr. Narasimiangar, F.T.S., Treasurer of the Mysore Durbar. With him, on the 20th, I visited the large and prosperous girls’ school which he had established, largely with his own money.
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The indigestion stayed by me all that day, but in the evening I gave my second lecture on “Soul and Karma” to another large audience. The signing of application papers for membership began that day and continued through the next until evening, when I organised the Mysore Theosophical Society, with twenty-five members. Mr. Narasimiangar was elected President and Pandit Mahadeva Sastri, Secretary. On Sunday, the 22nd, I received visitors, held a conversation meeting, lectured in the evening on “The Best Education for Hindu Boys,” and at 10.50 p.m. left for Seringapatam.
I see by my Diary that it was on that very day that W. Q. Judge died at New York, after three hundred and twenty-nine days of rule as the Secession leader. Poor man, to barter all he had gained in Theosophy for such a mess of pottage!
At Seringapatam next day I saw the famous summer palace of Tippoo Sultan, the great warrior whom the English had so much trouble to beat. “Red, gilt, and gaudy” is the impression which it made on me. Around the outer walls of the building is a series of pictures of battles in which one sees the British troops dressed in the curious uniform that prevailed at that time. In the afternoon I lectured in a large school-house on a variety of subjects that were given me and turned it into a conversation meeting. By the night train I left for Bangalore.
Of course, I reached Bangalore the next morning, where I was put up at the rooms of our prosperous Branch and received many visitors. For many years
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now Bangalore has been. a centre of Theosophical activity, a select minority of the members devoting themselves ardently to the work of spreading our ideas. A lecture by me on “Theosophy,” at Rai Bahadur A. Narainswamy Mudaliar’s High School, to the usual crowded audience, ended the day’s work. On the next day, not feeling very well, I stayed indoors, except when I was photographed with a large group of the members. The subject of my lecture that evening was “The Best Education for Boys,” traversing the same ground as at Mysore. Later, I left for Madras by the mail train.
On the 29th I received a second cable from New York, this time from Mr. Neresheimer (the first one was from Mr. Fullerton) about Judge’s death. This involved the necessity of a reply by cable, and the cabling of the news out to Mr. Staples, General Secretary of the Australasian Section. In officially announcing the fact in an Executive Notice (see Theosophist, April, 1896, Supplement) I bore testimony to the services which the deceased had rendered the Society and deprecated the entertainment of any but kindly thoughts towards him. I said:
“Mr. Judge’s services to our Society, from the beginning and until the date of the secession of last year, were conspicuous for their value and the zeal and practical judgment which were displayed throughout his work. As it was his Karma which brought him into the movement, so is it the same mysterious and inflexible power which has snatched him away in
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the prime of life and the fulness of his hopes, but with his plans unrealised. It behoves us all to keep in mind his many good deeds, to bury our private grievances out of sight, and to express to his family and our respected late colleagues, our regrets for their crushing bereavement.”
I am wiling to let that stand as an offset to all the cruel things Mr. Judge’s followers and successors have said about myself and others.