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A FLIGHT FOR LIFE
ATCHAM, September 12 . – Yesterday, towards midnight, while suffering terribly from asthma and facial neuralgia, all other remedies having failed, Mary begged to be put under chloroform, remembering the relief it had given her under like circumstances four years ago at Nice. (1) A. had gone to bed, prior to taking his turn at nursing at a later hour. There was at most but half an ounce of the drug left, so that it must be used very sparingly, as it was impossible to procure more until next day. We were sitting before the fire. She was in a very depressed frame of mind about her life and work, regarding them as a complete failure, and refusing to heed any word of hope and encouragement. She was greatly distressed also at the near approach of her fortieth birthday, and declared that she could not and would not live to see it. To be forty was to be old, and she loathed the idea of outliving her youth. The anaesthetic took almost immediate effect. She became lucid, and spoke in her own person, holding with me the following colloquy: –
“I am quite off now, quite gone away.”
“Where to?” I asked.
“I don’t know where, but the selfhood left is quite unconscious of pain.”
“Can you say where you should go to obtain the best conditions for health and work?”
“I can only say that London and Paris are best for me, but I shall not live long.”
Here the chloroform was renewed, as the pain was returning. She insisted on having a somewhat stronger dose, which practically exhausted the supply, and l dreaded the consequences of being without it. Presently she spoke again, but this time as another person, and with another and a stronger voice, a decidedly masculine voice, and quite unlike her own. I at once recognised it as the voice which had spoken from her at Nice, and concerning the utterer of which I had been so greatly perplexed. As on that occasion, it did not proceed from her lips or vocal organs, but was of a distinct personality within the organism. Its first words were spoken as a soliloquy. It said –
“If she can kill herself she will. She hardly thinks of anything else.” Then, addressing me, it asked sharply, “Are you awake and conscious?”
“Then feel her pulse. It is very doubtful if you get her back: she is nearly gone.”
I had but a moment before taken my finger from her pulse, as it was quite strong, and I knew that the chloroform had not been enough to cause danger. I now at once withdrew the handkerchief, which I found she was pressing firmly against her mouth and nostrils with both hands so as to exclude all air – a change of position I had failed to observe owing to the dimness of the light. But on feeling her pulse again I was reassured, for I had often known it to be much weaker, and in fact quite extinct in some of the fainting fits to which she was subject. Presently the voice resumed: –
“She did it on purpose, believing there was enough in the bottle to kill her; and she will do it yet if not prevented.”
“Who are you,” I asked, “that speak of her as of someone else than herself, and without disapprobation of such an attempt?”
“I am the Astral.”
“Ah! Not her higher and true self, then; not the Anima Divina. That would not approve of such an action, would it?”
“Do not ask. I do not know. What I know is, that the indications of her natural life are forty years. At most she can live but ten years more. Better for her to let her die. There is awful suffering for her if she lives.”
“Of what kind?”
“Physical and mental.”
“Would she be able to come back and help me in the work?”
“I think not. She would need rest.”
“Would she still suffer?”
“Physically or mentally?”
These last two replies were given hesitatingly, and with seeming reluctance, as if through the speaker perceiving that they told against his advice to let her go now, since she would not escape suffering. Here she spoke in her own voice, demanding more chloroform, and saying, “Quick! Quick! Before the pain returns!” There were but a few drops left, and her pulse was now strong and regular. So I gave her the rest, dreading her next appeal, when I should be unable to comply. On her going off again, the strange voice resumed: –
“Let her go. It will be better for you both, and save her ten years of suffering, which will be as bad for you as for her; and she will not be able to work, but will only hinder you. Better let her go now.”
“Tell me,” I said, “is her suffering in this life due to things done in her former lives?”
“I cannot say. I do not believe in them. I am the Astral.”
“Would not her suffering hereafter be the greater for having put an end to herself?”
“She is hardly accountable.”
“You have before given us some good advice on an emergency; can you tell me where she would suffer least?”
“In Paris and London. But she will always suffer much anywhere, and be able to do very little work. Much better to let her go.”
At this moment a change came over her; the voice ceased, and,
to my infinite relief, she passed into a sound natural slumber, which continued for three hours, when she woke free from pain and distress, and conversed cheerfully until A. came in and took his turn of watching. I had been about to question the Astral as to its share in prompting her to her despairing thoughts, and what he had to gain, if anything, by her withdrawal from the body. But the opportunity was gone when the sleep came on. For some days after this she spoke continually about her wish to die, and asked to have in her own keeping the fresh supply of chloroform which had been at once procured, but yielded to my entreaty to be allowed to take charge of it, at least for the present.
It soon became evident that the only hope of immunity from intense and constant suffering, if not also from positive lung-disease, lay in flight to some less unfavourable conditions of climate. The wrench for us all was a severe one, for we were never so happy as at the vicarage, and it was an ideal place for study and work. She herself was so averse to leaving it that she was about to prepare for a few weeks only of absence. Being less sanguine, I prevailed on her to provide against all emergencies and prepare to pass the winter abroad. For I had in my mind the south of Italy as the climate most likely to suit her. We resolved, however, for the present, to make trial of Paris, first spending a few days with the Kenealys at Watford – a visit which she greatly enjoyed, and by which she was considerably benefited. Our next halting-place was Ostende, to make trial of sea-air, and also to respond in person to the following letter from Madame Blavatsky, to whom she had written in consequence of a communication from Lady Caithness: –
“VILLA NOVA, OSTENDE, Aug. 23, 1886.
“DEAR MRS. KINGSFORD, – I was expecting a letter from you, and it came. What I wrote to our dear Duchesse about you was six months ago, and my ideas of you since then have only gained in my sincere thankfulness and gratitude to you for what you have done for Mohini. He is with me for the last fortnight, and will stop here two or three weeks longer. He will not go to America, since there is ‘cats and dogs’ fight among the Theosophists there worse than in Europe. Ah! What an exemplar, our Society, for the world in general, and our enemies in particular! My dear Mrs. Kingsford, I cannot put on paper what I might say were I to see you face to face. I winter here, and therefore you will find me when you like. Only, if you would see me alone, better come toward the end of September, when the whole house will be at your disposal. In October I will have here Theosophists who do not feel, unfortunately, so friendly to you as Mohini and I do. Then I will answer any questions you may please to ask me. I am hard at work now,
for I am afraid not to be able to finish my Secret Doctrine if I wait long. Whatever it may be as a literary production, people will learn in it more than one new thing.
“Please convey my friendly regards to Mr. Maitland. – Wishing you health and success, and assuring you I have long ceased paying attention to any gossip – personal gossip – against me least of all, believe me, ever yours with genuine admiration,
Arrived at Ostende, we took up our quarters at an hotel, and when Mary had sufficiently recovered from the journey we made our intended call on Madame Blavatsky, who then had living with her a lady for whom we had high esteem, the Countess Wachtmeister. Here we found ourselves not only cordially welcomed, but overwhelmed with reproaches for having put up at an hotel instead of going straight to them, – a thing we had not for a moment contemplated doing. And Madame Blavatsky took it so seriously to heart as to show that our continued refusal would very deeply wound her. Our hesitation had no personal element in it, being solely for the sake of our work, which, in the then position of the Theosophical Society, was liable to be seriously prejudiced by association with it. My own sense of such risk was so keen that nothing but Mary’s determination to accept the invitation for herself finally induced me to consent. The reasons pleaded by her were these three: her unwillingness to wound further a fellow-woman – even if in fault – who was already smarting under great obloquy, and who would inevitably ascribe our refusal to our concurrence in the prejudice against her; her desire to enlist Madame Blavatsky’s influence with her followers on behalf of the anti-vivisection cause; and the promise that, if only she would come and stay in the house, she should see the Master, Mahatma Koot Hoomi. This last was a crowning inducement which she avowed herself quite unable to resist. So, finding her resolved, and being myself also exceedingly averse to paining “the Old Lady” – as she was familiarly styled by her adherents – and feeling, moreover, that I dare not let Mary be exposed alone and unshielded to the occult influences, at once powerful and hostile to us, with which we had reason to believe the Society to be associated, I at length yielded, having first ascertained that there would be no difficulty on the score of diet. In regard to which Madame Blavatsky assured us that, although her doctors insisted on her eating flesh, the
Countess was, like ourselves, a pure liver, and we should share her diet.
Our visit, which lasted three days – from October 5 to October 8 – proved most enjoyable. The hospitality and geniality of our hostesses were unbounded, and “the Old Lady” fully justified her reputation for the possession of knowledges in the highest degree recondite. But no Mahatma vouchsafed an appearance, nor did anything happen that was suggestive of occult powers, unless the following incident be so regarded: –
On the first evening, while “the Old Lady” was engaged, according to her invariable wont, in playing a game of “Patience” with cards, and conversing the while at one end of the table, the Countess occupied herself in divining, also with cards, at the other end; during the course of which she suddenly exclaimed, “Oh, Mrs. Kingsford, here is a divination which concerns you! The cards say that you will very shortly have a proposition made to you which may send you back forthwith to England and affect all your future life. And it will be made to you, as I read the cards, by two women. And it will be your duty to give serious heed to it.”
The divination in question had a rapid and accurate fulfilment; for on the very next day a proposition was made to her by Madame Blavatsky and the Countess themselves, that she should rejoin the Theosophical Society in the capacity of President of Madame Blavatsky’s own Lodge, the latter retiring in her favour. It was against herself personally, “the Old Lady” declared, that all the prejudice was directed, and Mary would disarm all opposition, and, by combining our work with theirs, would create a Theosophy which would really be universal, and be everywhere recognised as such. Meanwhile she, Madame Blavatsky, would keep herself in the background, only helping with her knowledges. For, as she expressed herself to Mary, “Though you are cleverer than I, I know more than you.”
We had no difficulty in arriving at a decision respecting this proposition. Much as we felt the need of a platform for the spread of our teaching, and admired the energy which marked the proceedings of the Theosophical Society, the acceptance of an offer which identified us with it and its chiefs would, we felt, be suicidal, for it would min us without saving them. And thus far, moreover, our avowed missions were wholly incompatible;
for, while our purpose was the restoration of the true, esoteric, and spiritual Christianity, theirs was the total subversion of Christianity itself. Nor were we favourably impressed by the method by which they had sought to predispose us to the acceptance of the proposition. For, as was now apparent, this was the real object of their insistence on our staying with them; and as the minds of both were full of the project, the “divination” of the previous evening was obviously nothing more than one of those tricks for which the Society had already acquired so evil a repute. We wondered what sort of persons they had been in the habit of dealing with who would be taken in by such a palpable device, and were disposed to resent the implied imputation on our own want of percipience.
No special illumination was vouchsafed to guide our decision, but we took the following experience as pointing in the same direction: – Being attacked by a bad fit of asthma one day while conversing with our hostesses, Mary begged for a whiff of chloroform to allay it, which she duly took, with the result desired, I meanwhile being somewhat uneasy as to what she might be prompted to say while under its influence. For she had never been lucid in the presence of anyone save myself. I therefore silently exerted my will to restrain injudicious utterance. The drug gave instant relief, at the same time inducing lucidity, when, speaking in her own person, she made some remarks in depreciation of “showing so much concern about a little pain – a thing in itself of no consequence.” Presently she complained of being oppressed by what seemed to be the lowness of the ceiling, which pressed upon her like a weight, preventing free utterance. “I see such curious and beautiful things,” she exclaimed to me, “which I want so much to tell you. But I cannot. There is something that holds me back. I am not allowed to speak. What can it be? It was never so with me before.” From this I gathered that, in accordance with my apprehension, the influences of the place and persons present were not of an order such as might participate in her revelations, the expression “lowness of the ceiling” having a mystical meaning denoting this.
Presently, changing the subject, she said –
“I see now that my projections in London against Pasteur were successful. They produced a decided effect of the kind
I intended. But they were the main cause of my own illness. They took from me my nervous force. But they were successful, however.”
Here I asked in an undertone, “But were they legitimate, supposing they caused the death of the patients?”
“Yes,” she replied in the same tone, but with much decision.
“The case was one in which the motive justified the action. They were quite lawful in such a cause. The patients who accept such a system share the guilt of those who practise it.”
The frankness which was one of “the Old Lady’s” greatest charms found full vent on the occasion of our visit. Speaking to me of her troubles in connection with the exposures of the Society for Psychical Research, she exclaimed of herself, “My dear Mr. Maitland, I am the biggest intellectual fool in the world.”
“Meaning,” I asked, “that you are one of those persons whom Tennyson had in his mind when he said, ‘Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers’?”
“Exactly so,” she replied. “With all my knowledge, I can’t get discretion. He must have meant me when he said that.” And she told Mary that what she wanted was someone to take care of her, as I did of her – Olcott was no good for that – and then she would never do the things which got her into trouble.
Our destination was Paris, where we were to pass a few days with Lady Caithness; but we had a double motive for lingering a while in Belgium. One was to give Mary time to recover somewhat from her low condition, and the other to give Lady Caithness the same chance; for she also was indisposed, and not equal to receiving us. Accordingly, on October 8 we left Ostende for Antwerp, having passed exactly three days with Madame Blavatsky and Wachtmeister. While under their roof we had been entirely free from molestation from occult influences. But on comparing notes on the morning after our first night at Antwerp, where we stayed at the Hotel St. Antoine, we found that we had both of us been assailed by nightmare dreams, hideous and distressing in the extreme, and of the order of which Mary had experience in 1884 after visiting Madame Blavatsky. (1) And the agencies so exactly resembled the “spooks” of the séance-room as to suggest that,
with all her denunciations of “spiritualism” and her claims to intercourse with beings so exalted as her “Mahatmas,” Madame Blavatsky was still infested by the entities encouraged by her in the days of her professional mediumship, which possessed the power and the disposition to inflict annoyance on those who were not in accord with her. It was to their influence over her that we were disposed to ascribe her own astonishing inconsequence and variability, and incapacity for recollecting things said or done by her even within the space of a few hours. (1) And it was doubtless to actual forgetfulness that were due her emphatic denials of facts laid to her charge and known to be true. She was as one alternately controlled by and controlling entities other than herself, even to reflecting, all-unconsciously to herself, the characters of those with whom she came into contact, to the utter suppression of her own personality, especially those who were possessed of a strong decided individuality. For these she would take on and reflect them to themselves so completely as to serve as a mirror in which, while fancying they saw her, they really saw themselves. Such want of continuity was necessarily a serious hindrance to the acquisition of a sense of responsibility, especially of the kind requisite to constitute her a veracious historian, whether in speech or in writing. And as this liability was shared by her associate, Madame Wachtmeister, who had been compelled to abandon the practice of mediumship on account of the exceedingly objectionable character of the manifestations of which, whenever she exercised her gift, she was the subject, it was not difficult to account for the curiously unhistorical character of the narrative which she subsequently published of our visit to them at Ostende. For in her little book, Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky and “The Secret Doctrine” published in 1893, our visit of three days was magnified into a fortnight, and instead of being paid in unwilling deference to their most earnest entreaties, was a charity bestowed on us on account of Mrs. Kingsford’s suffering from the discomforts of our hotel! No mention is made of the motive for the invitation, though a somewhat particular account is given of the conversations held, which conversations, however, it is declared, “soon drew to a close, for Mrs. Kingsford
became very ill, and was not able to leave her room, and Mr. Maitland thought it expedient to take her to a warmer climate, so one fine morning they started for Paris, and H.P. Blavatsky and I were once more alone” (p. 70).
Until the appearance of this book I had every respect for its writer, believing her to be a conscientious and veracious person, despite the limitations due to her temperament as a medium. And had these inaccuracies been my only cause of complaint against her, I should have written nothing of her here which might be detrimental to her, but contented myself with simply stating the facts as they occurred. But what came to my knowledge subsequently entirely absolved me from any obligation to reticence, and made it my paramount duty, for our work’s sake and our own, to discard all such considerations. This was the practice in which Madame Wachtmeister indulged of systematically depreciating my colleague, especially by alleging that in respect of diet she did not practise what she preached, and was no consistent opponent of cruelty to animals. It was not only in loose conversation that she said these things, but in writing, and it is from letters of hers which were placed in my hands by the greatly shocked recipient of them – herself an ardent friend of Mary’s – that I quote the following: –
“THEOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING SOCIETY, DUKE STREET, ADELPHI,
“September 29, 1892.
(...) “Anna Kingsford was not a vegetarian, so you see she could not deprecate the torturing of animals both before and at the slaughtering-houses, for she was inconsistent both in teaching and policy.”
This elicited from the recipient a reply, to which the following response was made: –
“October 10, 1892.
“You seem to be as surprised to hear that Mrs. Kingsford was no vegetarian as I was myself when she and Mr. Maitland begged of me to provide both fish, poultry, and birds during the time that they were the guests of Mme. B. and myself at Ostende. The first evening there was only vegetarian food such as I eat myself, but during the fortnight they stayed with us I, of course, provided the food Mrs. Kingsford told me she was accustomed to eat. You may be sure that I would not have mentioned such a thing if I had not had personal experience of it.
“I do not oppose anybody eating meat, and for some I think it absolutely necessary; but I like the old adage of ‘Practise what you preach.’ – Yours very sincerely,
What actually happened on “the first evening” was that, on a special tray of flesh-food being brought in for Madame Blavatsky, she renewed the expression of her regrets at her inability to live as we and the Countess lived, and the only thing that I “begged” for was that she would say nothing about it, as we fully understood the compulsion under which she acted. The spirit in her was willing; it was only the flesh that was weak.
As soon as I was aware of the misstatements of Madame Wachtmeister as to the motive and duration of our visit, I sent to the Theosophical Society magazine, Lucifer, the correction which appeared February 1894, p. 517. The other and far more serious misstatement only came to my knowledge in consequence of that correction, through the recipient of Madame Wachtmeister’s letters taking heart on finding how mistaken she had been in those respects, and hoping to learn from me that she had been equally wrong in the others. For the friend was one to whom Mary’s character for consistency and integrity was very dear. How far the calumny spread, and what the injury done by it to our reputation and work, I have no means of judging. I must content myself with adding in this connection that the want of veraciousness shown by Madame Wachtmeister in regard to us has been such as to entirely discredit her for me as a witness on behalf of Madame Blavatsky, and has suggested an explanation of the extraordinary difficulty which has been found in ascertaining the truth concerning the origins and methods of the Theosophical Society, and this despite its motto, “There is no religion higher than Truth.” That explanation is, that its originating and controlling influences are better represented by the term “mediumistic controls” than by the term “Mahatmas.” In this view, its abounding irreconcilable incoherences and contradictions are tokens, not of any deliberate, conscious defect of moral sense on the part of the parties to them, but of the obscuration of such sense through the practice of mediumship, which involves the substitution of other and irresponsible entities as the controlling agents. And such is precisely the explanation since rendered by the Founder-President himself, Colonel Olcott, of the events to which the more recent crises in the Society were due. As will be seen by our subsequent intercourse with Madame Blavatsky, she herself made no manner
of charge against us on the score alleged by her associate, Madame Wachtmeister, but showed herself to be at bottom the possessor of a large, noble, and frank nature, full of warm sympathies and impulses, and quite incapable of being a party to the malignant inventions propagated by her associate, Madame Wachtmeister.
From Antwerp we visited Bruges, Ghent, and other places of interest, and then Brussels, whence Mary wrote the following letter: –
“HOTEL DU GRAND MIRROIR, BRUSSELS,
“October 12 .
“DEAREST LADY CAITHNESS, – I am so very grieved to hear of your suffering. I know well how distracting a thing facial neuralgia is, having suffered from it terribly myself, both at Atcham and Ostende, where I had to go to bed in consequence and put on hot poultices. We shall remain here until we hear from you; and as I told my husband to forward letters, etc., to your care, perhaps you will keep them until we call for them, which we will do at once, if we do not become your guests. Pray do not think of undergoing any inconvenience if not well enough to receive us, for we can easily find shelter elsewhere. Miss D. will take me in. While at Ostende we stayed nearly three days with Madame Blavatsky, at her urgent request. She was very genial and hospitable, and we got on to get her admirably. She is hard at work on The Secret Doctrine, which promises to be a larger book than even Isis. I trust most earnestly to see a letter in your own handwriting in a day or two announcing your recovery from the sad pain you have been so long enduring. How is it you did not mention to us before this that you were suffering? We should not then have ventured to think of trespassing on you. – Yours always most affectionately,
A conversation with Madame Blavatsky concerning the mystery of “Satan” reminded Mary that the revelation received by her of the genesis and functions of the Principle thus designated by the Hebrews – the date of which was Paris, November 12, 1878 – was but partial, being for our own immediate instruction, and left over for completion at some future time. The reason for the postponement was explained to us as being twofold. It was the profoundest of sacred mysteries, and could not be apprehended until the initiate had reached a stage in his spiritual unfoldment far in advance of that at which we then were; and we were not, on any account, to put it before the world until expressly permitted to do so. At this time the Second Edition of The Perfect Way was actually in the press, and our part in preparing it was accomplished, unless fresh
matter were imparted to be included in it. This came at the last moment, and the next entry in Mary’s Diary, which was dated Paris, October 21, 1886, recorded the commencement of the redelivery and completion of it.
We were staying with Lady Caithness at the time, who had happily recovered sufficiently to be able to receive us; but Mary was prostrate with weakness and pain, and confined to her room. Such were the conditions under which she received the stupendous revelation entitled “The Secret of Satan,” which now, for the first time in the world’s history, was to be promulgated to the world, instead of being, as formerly, rigidly reserved for initiates of the highest grade. It proved to be the last that she was to receive of the first order, and, owing probably to the effect of pain on her perceptive faculties, she was able to receive it without quitting the waking state. Her faculty had been perfected by suffering. There was no open or personal vision, as on the former occasion. Then the illuminating Spirit had manifested himself in the form of the “First of the Holy Seven,” the Spirit of Wisdom, in his Greek aspect as Phoibos Apollo, because only by the First of the Gods might the stupendous mystery of the Last of the Gods be disclosed. Now it was projected into her consciousness bit by bit as she was able to receive and recognise it while we sat together in her own room, she occasionally appealing to me to know whether I, too, recognised its truth; for, as must be remembered, that which was being imparted was a most essential part of the New Gospel of Interpretation, and Interpretation presupposes comprehension. Only once did she falter, and then but for a moment. It was when the sense rushed on her of the immensity of the remove it represented from the traditional belief of the world in all ages. “Don’t you think,” she almost gasped out, “that there must be some element of evil in Satan?” To which I responded by asking, “How can there be, if he is – as he must necessarily be – a mode of functioning of God’s own self in creation?” Upon which she exclaimed, “Of course! Of course! But how hard it is to disentangle oneself entirely from the old ingrained misbeliefs!”
Under the stimulus of this fresh illumination she rallied somewhat, but only to relapse into yet deeper depths of suffering, the neuralgia having extended from the sciatic and facial nerves
over the whole system. On the 26th, notwithstanding her terror of doctors, she consented to see one who chanced to be calling on Lady Caithness, and who, being a noted magnetiser, was likely to be guiltless of orthodox malpractices. He, however, on seeing her, pronounced the case too serious for magnetism, and declared that it would yield only to le fer rouge – cautery with a red-hot iron. She had seen too much, both of the cruelty and of the inefficacy of this practice in the hospitals, to give her consent, but she allowed herself to be persuaded into taking an injection of laudanum. This was followed by an access of pain so intense that, being frantic, she implored me to give her poison. She consented, however, to try chloroform again, when, the malady proving obstinate beyond all previous precedent, it was necessary to produce a more profound anaesthesia to subdue the suffering. It was 6.30 P.M. when I commenced to administer it; and at 4 A.M., after being all those hours more or less under the influence of the drug, she fell into a natural and quiet sleep, which lasted for three hours, I maintaining my place beside her and keeping watch on the pulse. During this interval the following took place: –
A voice came from her, not her own, for her lips did not move; nor was it that of the “Astral” who before had spoken from her. (1) For it was soft, tender, and angelic in the depth of its sympathy.
“Poor, poor child,” it said, “her suffering is indeed terrible in the extreme. Do not let her wake; she cannot bear it. It is Their supreme moment. They have tried to force her to suicide.”
“And who are ‘They’?” I asked.
“Her former selves. None of them lived beyond forty. They cannot understand her doing so, and are determined she shall not live longer. This is the crisis of her life, and Their supreme attempt.”
I wanted to know who and what the speaker was, but the voice ceased here, and the rest that was imparted to me was by direct mental impression. It was to the effect that in such measure as she survived this crisis she would escape further molestation from this group of her former selves, and be free
from the impulses and suggestions which had caused us such sore anxiety and distress; and every month she lived beyond that age would detach her more and more from the sphere of their influence, and mend her soul’s record generally.
I was profoundly sensible of the strangeness and importance of these experiences, and wondered whether they were unique, and if it was the first time that any person had been known to speak from each of the two planes, the astral and the celestial – as I firmly held the latter to be – the one denying and the other affirming the doctrine of Reincarnation. The statement that none of her former selves had passed the age of forty suggested a solution, entirely satisfactory, of a problem which had long perplexed me. Her gifts and characteristics had, from the first, struck me as those of a young soul, brilliant and vigorous, but without the maturing and mellowing influence of age. But, on the other hand, she had been declared to be an “old, old spirit, many thousands of years my senior, and of vast antiquity and experience.” (1) How to reconcile this seeming discrepancy? The light just received did it. She was old by reason of her having had a vast number of incarnations spread over a vast period of time; but she was young, because she had never lived to be old in any of them, but had early come to an end through the wilfulness and impetuosity of her disposition, which had led her into courses which cut short her career. Hence each fresh life had served but to accentuate and reinforce her youthfulness, and, instead of ministering to maturity and the qualities which come only of maturity, had resulted in her contracting a habit of early and violent deaths, with the accompanying liability to become reincarnate after abnormally brief intervals. Hence, too, her total lack of fear of death; as she had once remarked to me long before either of us had any idea of the possibility involved, “she seemed to be so used to dying as to have no fear of it.”
Having so many evidences of the separateness of the principles composing her system, and also of their personality, it occurred to me to wonder, in the event of her death and the continuance of her intercourse with me, in which of her personalities she would return.
The following day was passed in tolerable ease, but towards evening sickness came on, which she ascribed partly to the laudanum – which, she said, never agreed with her, and she would not have taken, had she been fully herself when the doctor proposed it – and mostly to the combination with it of the chloroform. The incompatibility of the two drugs with each other she had forgotten in her trouble, and I was unaware of it. The night was a terrible one from this cause, and in the morning she said to me in the positive tone of one who had sure information, “I shall die to-night.”
Deeming this another device of the “former selves,” whose power I believed to be on the wane, I did not let the utterance disturb me, and sought to impart my confidence to her. But as the day passed without any abatement, the sickness proving incoercible by any means employed, and I apprehended a collapse, I begged her to allow me to summon an English physician, Dr. Herbert, pleading the difficulty I should have in satisfying her relatives in the event of her dying without my calling in a doctor.
The plea prevailed, but not without her chiding me for unkindness in wishing to prolong her life. To my dismay, the doctor was dining out, and would not receive the summons until he returned home, when it would be midnight. The case seemed desperate so far as physical means were concerned. The only relief was obtained by my passing my hands with light contact slowly downwards over the front of her body in mesmeric fashion, at the same time forcibly directing my will, with the twofold intent of allaying the internal irritation and expelling or neutralising any hostile influences that might be obsessing her. Meanwhile the pulse became so alarmingly feeble that her passing away seemed imminent. She herself said that life was ebbing, so death-like was the feeling of faintness; and she seemed rather to triumph at the prospect of the fulfilment of her prophecy of the morning.
Nevertheless I at no time despaired, nor had I any half-thought in the matter. My conviction was absolute that it was best both for herself and for her work that she should live, and I believed that, however strongly set as the natural lines of her destiny might be towards dying at that time, it lay within my power to reverse that destiny and override fate, and compel
her retention in life, and possibly her restoration to health. It was, I felt, a conflict between the astral and the celestial, to be victor in which it was needful only for me so to polarise of my will to the latter as to unite it with that of the Highest.
Thus attuning my inward self, I reinforced my outward self, which greatly needed it, by swallowing a glass of the champagne which had been thoughtfully sent in for her by our hostess as a possible remedy, and half sitting, half kneeling, on a hassock beside the bed – a position which I felt I could maintain for an indefinite time – I grasped firmly her right hand in both my hands and sought to project all my magnetism into her system. To my surprise and delight, the effect began to show itself almost immediately. She lay perfectly still, without any recurrence of the spasms which until then had been rending her, neither fainting nor asleep, but apparently at absolute rest, while the pulse, upon which I steadfastly kept a finger, reappeared and gradually gained, both in frequency and volume, and her temperature became assimilated to my own. By all of which symptoms I knew that a vital rapport had been established between us, making us virtually one system in respect of the identity of our nervous currents. At length sleep crept over her, deep and restful, and such that, if it could be maintained long enough, she was surely saved. She slept thus for three hours, I retaining my position unchanged; and though never ceasing actively to infuse my force into her, without my feeling a particle of diminution of force, which greatly surprised me; until, on analysing my sensations, I found that I myself was being actively reinforced by influences other than my own who had gathered round and were supplying my need as I required it, using me as a channel of healing power. And so it came that, when at length the doctor arrived and was holding conference with our hostess, I was able to join them, and announce the good news of my patient’s safety.
The doctor fully confirmed my judgment. He was greatly surprised, after what he had been told, to find her pulse so strong, and herself able to converse with him. He prescribed simply an occasional draught of strong lemonade and soda – “potion de Riviere” – to be taken as the sickness threatened to recur, and left, promising to call in the morning. Meanwhile, though admitting the change for the better, she was so fixed in the
belief that her time had come, and in the desire to die, that she repeated her prophecy of the morning, saying, “I said I should die tonight, and I shall all the same, though I feel better just now”; to which, knowing the danger of such a conviction, and confident that she was saved, I replied with vivacity that she would do nothing of the kind; for the enemy had been baffled, and would now leave her in peace. I still maintained my watch, passing the rest of the night on a sofa in her room. And in the early morning she said, on waking from a good sleep, “What you have done to me I don’t know, but you have saved my life”; and then, glancing at her hand, she exclaimed, “What an extraordinary thing! You know that my ‘line of life’ which used to be so long, has lately been gradually disappearing, until it had stopped short at the point which indicated my death to be due at this very time. Well, it has suddenly reappeared beyond that point, showing that I am to have another term of life, perhaps of years.”
Dr. Herbert came three times in all, but his only further recommendation was inhalation of oxygen, which she tried, but with inappreciable results. She continued to mend steadily, but remained for some days dazed and bewildered, feeling, she said, as if she had no right to be alive, and that there was no more any work or place for her on the earth.
The suggestions whereby her “former selves” had sought to induce her to put an end to herself were curiously insidious. They assured her not only that she could do no good work after the age of forty, as she would not be attended to after the loss of her youth and beauty, but that the world is not yet ripe for her teaching, and that by committing suicide she would become reincarnate much sooner than if she died a natural death, and thus be able to return in good time to complete the work begun now, and secure for it the success it could not now have. The suggestion that suicide was wrong in itself had been met with the sophistical plea, that even so, the motive would involve a great renunciation and constitute it a virtuous act, and deserving of reward.
One night of this period, while between waking and sleeping, the form appeared to me of my old friend Mrs. Woolley, whom I had been expecting to arrive in England about this time from Sydney. She was attired in black, and looked deathly wan
and wasted, and on entering the room glided to a chair between me and Mary, where she sat a while looking from one to the other, but without speaking, and after a little while disappeared. I mentioned the apparition both to Mary and to our hostess, and taking it as a possible intimation of her death, I wrote to her daughter, who was in England, to know if there was any news of her, and when she was to be expected in England, as I had some apprehension about her health. In the course of a few days I received in answer a letter informing me that about the very time of this experience she had received news of her mother’s death at Sydney, after long illness and severe suffering, and that she had been on the point of writing to inform me of it when my letter reached her. From which I gathered that my dead friend had delayed giving me the intimation until such time as it would serve to break the shock she knew that her death would be to me, without keeping me in the suspense that would have ensued had she appeared immediately after her death.
For, as I have related early in this history, she had been, of all women next to my mother, the one whom, as a young man, I most venerated, and to whose influence I was the most indebted. On making Mary’s acquaintance she had won from her also the like transcendent esteem. She, too, had recognised in The Perfect Way the full satisfactory solution of all her religious difficulties, and, as I later learnt, she came after her death to her daughters and told them not to seek further on such subjects than The Perfect Way, as all the truth was there. As I shall have occasion yet again to refer to her, I will ask my readers to keep her in recollection; for in this history people do not cease with their bodies.
Much to our distress, we were compelled to trespass on the kindness of our hostess, even after the invalid had recovered sufficiently to be able to go out. The detaining cause was an illness contracted by myself, from a chill incurred in consequence of the low condition induced by my arduous attendance in the sick-room. The middle of November, however, found us located in a pension in the Rue Balzac, Miss D. not being able at present to receive us. Meanwhile Mary had written in her Diary the following abstract of the doctrine she had received concerning “Satan”: –
“Satan is, then, not identical with the devil; for the devil represents negation and not-being. But he is associated with the devil, because his sphere is the outermost of Being, and because at that point the centrifugal power becomes exhausted” (or, rather, arrested, for the system concerned). “But for the work of Satan there would be no evil, for material conditions give rise to evil, on account of Limitation, which is inseparable from the material state. Satan is, however, not the Creator; he is the Elohistic power by means of which God creates. The Seven Elohim are, in their procession, progressively more and more formulate. Thus Phoibos represents the most interior and spiritual of the spheres; Hermes, the most intellectual; Aphrodite, the most affectional; Dionysos, the most volitional; Ares, the most kinetic; Zeus, the most astrologic; and Chronos, the densest and most manifest. And as all the six principles in man and the planet, save the body, are commonly invisible, so all the Gods save Saturn (who is Satan and Chronos) are naked. He only wears a belt about his middle part. Satan’s Day is the seventh, therefore, because on that day the centrifugal energy” (to which “Creation,” which is Manifestation, is due) “is exhausted, and a pause or standstill ensues, after which the return power comes into activity. The station of Satan is therefore the Sepulchre, in which our Lord lies asleep. But ‘very early in the morning’ of the first day of the week (following) He will rise again and return to His Father. The centripetal power will come into action. Satan’s day is the Sabbath of Elohim, the day of God is the night of Jehovah, and the labour of Brahm is the rest of Parabrahm. The day of the Manifest (Word) is the night of the Unmanifest (Mind). Satan’s work is the necessary evil of Existence. When Existence is recalled into Being, then Satan will return to his former estate of Order and Obedience in the Celestial hierarchy.”
Among the most notorious of the vivisecting fraternity of Paris during our residency there had been Professor Paul Bert. His laboratory was in the vicinity of the Sorbonne, and close, therefore, to a street of dwelling-houses. So terrible were the cries of the animals under experimentation, when left for the night in their mangled condition to be operated on afresh next day, that the locataires of the neighbourhood were not only seriously disturbed, but were unable to retain their tenants, and actions at law were accordingly brought to obtain a cessation of the nuisance. But one and all they failed, the judges ruling that, as it was on behalf of science, the law could not interfere. Paul Bert had since accepted a mission, partly political and partly scientific, to the French provinces in China, one of its scientific objects being to introduce vivisection into that country. Mary had subsequently told me that she had coupled him with Pasteur in her occult projections against the latter.
We understood that he was now on his way home to resume his experimentations in Paris, having failed to accomplish his scientific projects in the East, and had fallen seriously ill. Such is the necessary prelude to the following entry in her Diary: –
Paris, November 12 . – “Mort de M. Paul Bert.” “La nouvelle de sa mort, arrivée Jeudi soir à quatre heures, n’a surpris personne.” Yesterday, November 11, at eleven at night, I knew that my will had smitten another vivisector! Ah, but this man has cost me more toil than his master, the fiend Claude Bernard. For months I have been working to compass the death of Paul Bert, and have but just succeeded. But I have succeeded; the demonstration of the power is complete. The will can and does kill, but not always with the same rapidity. Claude Bernard died foudroyé Paul Bert has wasted to death. Now only one remains on hand – Pasteur, who is certainly doomed, and must, I should think, succumb in a few months at the utmost. Oh, how I have longed for those words – “Mort de M. Paul Bert!” And now – there they actually are, gazing at me as it were in the first column of the Figaro, – complimenting, congratulating, felicitating me. I have killed Paul Bert, as I killed Claude Bernard; as I will kill Louis Pasteur, and after him the whole tribe of vivisectors, if I live long enough. Courage: it is a magnificent power to have, and one that transcends all vulgar methods of dealing out justice to tyrants. It would interest M. Charles Richet to know of the two episodes in question.
Thus did she again vindicate her endowment with the third of the “Four Excellent Things” which constitute the equipment of “Hermes, Son of God, slayer of Argus, Archangel,” as described in the Divine hymn she had been instrumental in recovering: –
“Upon thy side thou wearest a sword of a single stone, two-edged, whose temper resisteth all things.
“For they who would slay or save must be armed with a strong and perfect will, defying and penetrating with no uncertain force.
“This is Herpë, the sword which destroyeth demons, by whose aid the hero overcometh and the saviour is able to deliver.
“Except thou bind it upon thy thigh thou shalt be overborne, and blades of mortal making shall prevail against thee.” (1)
Professor Charles Richet had been one of the trio of examiners at whose hands she had received her diploma. He was so much struck by her that he invited her to a vegetarian repast at his house, given expressly in her honour; and she was
not without hope of enlisting him on her side in the vegetarian and anti-vivisection causes. For she read in him a possibility of higher things. But the rival influences prevailed. His soul was quenched, and he became one of the leading experimentalists of the day, and wrote the article on “Le Roi des Animaux,” in the Revue de Deux Mondes, to which she had crushingly replied in her pamphlet, Roi ou Tyran? In an essay of mine [on vivisection], published by the Humanitarian League in 1893, was the following reference at once to him and to her reply to him. My purpose in citing it here is to show those of the readers of this history who do not already know, what manner of beings they are against whom she was permitted to be the instrument of the Divine vengeance, (1) in order that they may not waste their sympathies under the impression that they were human lives which she thus destroyed, and reprobate her action: –
“It was not on the ground of their insensibility that Professor Charles Richet, in his article in the Revue de Deux Mondes, ‘Le Roi des Animaux,’ rested the right to experiment upon animals, but on the ground of man’s superiority. By which he showed that, for his order, man is superior only because of the greater force at his disposal, and that kingship means not justice but tyranny, and the power to govern confers the right to torture. It is from this operator that the world has learned that ‘an average horse lives thirty-three days without food, while an average dog dies of starvation on the twenty-first day,’ and other animals in varying periods. The series of experiments by which this valuable information was obtained comprised nearly thirty animals of several different kinds, all of whom were deliberately starved to death by him to obtain it. And it was in his laboratory that the experiment was performed which
consisted in beating animals to a pulp with a heavy mallet. The following passage occurs in his published writings: –
“‘I do not believe that a single experimenter says to himself when he gives curare to a rabbit, or cuts the spinal marrow of a dog, or poisons a frog, “Here is an experiment which will relieve or cure the disease of some man.” No, in truth, he does not think of that. He says to himself, “I shall clear up some obscure point; I will seek out a new fact.” And this scientific curiosity, which alone animates him, is explained by the high idea he has formed of Science. This is why we pass our days in fetid laboratories, surrounded by groaning creatures, in the midst of blood and suffering, bent over palpitating entrails.’
“We find no hypocritical pretence here whether of utility or anaesthetics, or of the comparative non-sensibility of the animals. The operator addresses himself to the public as frankly and as confident of their sympathy, as we might conceive a devil addressing his fellow-devils to be, taking it for granted that the sentiments of humanity are as extinct in them as in himself” (pp. 29-30).
Diary. – November 13 . Of all evils, the worst, I think, is growing old. I am not sure that it matters so much to a man, but to a woman it is terrible – terrible. Not, perhaps, if one’s work were fairly worked, or at least stood out for what it would be, clear and distinct on the world’s canvas. But to be caught by old age before one’s task is formulated, when the outlines of it are incomplete and the picture of it remains in the mind of the artist, – this is the intolerable thing. It is gloomy here, in this cheap pension, in this narrow, cramped-up, little set of rooms, whence one cannot, even by craning one’s neck, see a glimpse of the sky; nothing but a high, dead, whitewashed wall, just such as might be seen from a prison window! (1) It is very gloomy, too, to sit here all day, unable to go out because one is ill, and because one’s companion is ill too, and cannot be left alone. What shall I do with the remainder of my life if I am always to suffer, and so be forced to suppress every impulse towards active work in me? – If pain and decrepitude settle down on me like a cloud, and compel me to pass the remainder of my life in enduring? Is this, too, Karma? I think sad and distressful life is not always the result of evil Karma. I can quite believe that for certain souls, perhaps even for the greater number, or may be for all, the last birth may be invariably a melancholy and an outcast birth; – not by any means as the consequence of demerit, but as a final purgation to utterly detach the soul from the love of existence, to disgust it with material and mundane things, and to break asunder irrecoverably the links which bind to desire and love.
While at Ostende she had proposed to Madame Blavatsky a scheme for uniting a number of occultists in a band for the purpose of exercising their will-power on the vivisectors with
a view to the destruction, first of their system, and next of themselves in the event of their refusing to abandon their cruel methods. The following entry in her Diary refers to a conversation with Madame Wachtmeister on the subject: –
November 17, 1886. – I wish to write down some thoughts and instructions received about the distinction between “white” and “black” magic. The subject arises out of a controversy between Countess Wachtmeister and myself as to whether it is or is not justifiable to “will” the destruction of evil men. My position is this: – “Black” magic consists in magic exercised from the plane of the personal principle in man, or unregenerate self, the anima bruta. This personal principle concerns itself only and solely with personal emotions and motives. Thus, a witch or sorcerer bewitches, or wills evil to, one who has brought himself into antagonism with the persona of the operator, and against whom the latter feels resentment. Such was invariably the case in all mediaeval charges against witches. Magical practices were, and still are, resorted to for obtaining the sickness, death, or affliction of persons for whom the operator had conceived hatred, or from whose decease some personal gain was expected. In all such cases the lower personality alone operated, in defiance or disregard of the Divine Will. The witch assumed the entire responsibility of the act, and brought to bear on its execution the most intense and concentrated personal consciousness. The whole question is, therefore, like all occult questions, one of planes or levels. An act which, undertaken and executed from a lower plane, is an assassination, becomes, when undertaken and executed from a higher plane, an expiatory sentence; just as that which is, from the lower plane, lust, is, from the higher, love.
“White” magic is, then, precisely the exercise of magical power from the impersonal plane; that is, from the level of the anima divina. Such magic can, in fact, be exercised only by the adept or initiate, because the exercise depends, first, on knowledge, and secondly, on discipline. Knowledge first, because it is necessary for the operator to understand the difference between his art and that of the dealer in sorcery, and to know God. No man who is not a believer in God can practice white magic, because the first of its rules is union with the Divine Intention. The art of the White Magian lies wholly in this, – that he must transcend and destroy his own personal principle, in order to unite himself entirely with the Divine Principle. If, then, he does not know God, he cannot attain to this union. Secondly, he must be disciplined, because unless he is able to root out himself and his own egoism entirely from his spirit, and to bring this spirit under perfect control and into complete union with the kosmic will, he must fall short of his design and incur danger. The White Magian, then, works by means of prayer, and the more truly prayerful he is, the more successful he will be in his art. Under these conditions, and having carefully examined into his motives, and seen reason to believe himself free from all personal feeling about or towards the person concerned in his operations, and being free from passion, malice, and emotion of all kind arising from personal motives, he may practise his art in the fear of God. But
unless he be a very great adept, and very profoundly experienced, he had better refrain from any direction of his will for the purpose of destroying anyone from whose decease he can possibly, directly or indirectly, derive any personal advantage, gain, advance, or gratification. It is best that he should never even have seen the person concerned, or in any way have come into personal collision with him. The conditions being such as accord with these rules, the White Magian is authorised to undertake an act of execution in the same spirit and with the same motive, and in the same frame of mind, as he would entertain in the act of destroying a noxious beast or a venomous reptile or creeping thing. Being a Magian, he has, of course, a spirit of discernment, and will not direct himself against any but real malefactors, i.e. oppressors of the poor and innocent, tyrants, and public criminals. Such men may be compared with pestilential creatures, whose evil lives poison the moral atmosphere of the planet, and whose removal from it is a Divine act. Part of the work of Man as the Redeemer of the world is the work of the Destroying Angel, the purger and deliverer, the smiter of monsters, ravenous beasts of prey, dragons, and ogres.
Ogres are men who have forfeited their manhood, and who are therefore in the category of carnivorous and dangerous beasts. The Magian who undertakes to rid the earth of these embarks in a perilous adventure, since everything depends on his singleness of heart and purpose. Uniting himself with the will of God, and committing himself to it, he implores God, if it be His will, to free the earth and mankind from the human plague incarnate in such an one. Then, concentrating and projecting his will, as though it were a sword in the hands of God, he devotes it to the destruction of the ogre or monster designated, accepting for himself the peril to which the combat exposes him, and desiring only the salvation and redemption of the oppressed. In such a spirit St. George met and demolished the dragon which ravaged Cappadocia, and Theseus the robber Sinis, and Procrustes the tyrant of the mountains. So also with Moses, Jehu, Judith, the Apostles, and so forth. In all these cases the operators were but the instruments and channels of Divine wrath, and accomplished no personal object in their undertaking. It is an error to suppose that such acts interfere with the “Karma” of the persons against whom they are directed. On the contrary, they are that Karma; for the doom of such evil men inevitably is to bring down upon them the hatred and abhorrence of the good. “For as Love is strong to redeem and advance a soul, so is Hatred strong to torment and detain.” The Magian merely formulates and gives definite direction to the vague and inexpressed desire of all virtuous men, namely, to be delivered from such and such a tyrant. And, indeed, whenever this desire is sufficiently intense and widely felt, it suffices of itself to work the destruction of the man who is its object. “The will of the people is the death-warrant of the oppressor. Tyrants die by the will of the nation.” And by-and-by, when the discernment between good and evil becomes more definite and general, when the love of good and the abhorrence of evil become strong in the people, and when wrong-doing becomes intolerable, not to a few individuals only, as now, but to the whole people, it will be impossible for tyrants to continue to exist. In a regenerate world
tyrants and tormentors could not live when once their deeds were known.
Karma, therefore, is not baffled, but is fulfilled by the sentence of justice which the White Magian helps to carry out. His will is the focus of the Divine forces, which always work through human channels. The Divine Will, whether for grace or for vengeance, whether for blessing or cursing, formulates itself through human agencies. This is the law of the universe. The evil man, by his evil acts, draws upon his head the Karma of those acts, the wrath of God, formulated through the will of a human agent. The rod of Moses directs and expresses the fiat of God. It is only when the human will acts from the lower and personal plane, moved and set in action by personal antagonisms and passions – as when Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it – that the human agent is brought into collision with Karma, and disorder and confusion result. But this result even then is not in disharmony with law. No Divine law is ever broken. The phrase, “Karma must not be interfered with,” is an idle phrase on the lips of an adept. It should rather be, “Karma cannot be interfered with.” For even the action of a hostile will, evilly directed, is provided for and taken into the account of the Divine counsels. God is never taken by surprise. The reaction is against the operator only, and is the mere recoil of law. “Thou couldest have no power at all against Me,” said Jesus to Pilate, “unless it were given thee from on high.” So also said Buddha, when dying, of the disciple who poisoned him with swine’s flesh: “It must needs be that offences come, but woe unto him by whom the offence cometh.” The sorcerer, whose position and method have been defined, assumes the penalty of murder, and generates a corresponding Karma, which he must work out. But his victim falls quite as much by the will of God, and in accord with the workings of his Karma, as though he had died any other sort of death. Accidents and catastrophes never happen in the primary sense of those words. They are from the foundation of the world as certainly and as orderly in place and sequence as summer and winter, seed-time and harvest. To think otherwise would be to deny God, and to make human will the disposing and arbitrating force of the universe, not in a derived and secondary, but in an absolute and primary sense. The work of the White Magian, then, lies in the educated direction of the kosmic will-current, concentrating this as a burning-glass the solar rays, and bringing it to bear on a certain point. The act of consuming thereby produced is not his act, but that of the solar heat, polarised by his means. That the will of an outraged people does not produce this effect in the present day is due only to the fact that the people, unlike the adept, are wanting in knowledge, and do not know how to polarise their will-force. It is diffuse, and consequently impotent. The Magian does consciously, and according to method, and therefore effectively, what the people do unconsciously and confusedly, and therefore ineffectively. Where they vaguely wish, he intently wills.
The following letter to her from Madame Blavatsky, November 29 , refers to the same subject: –
“The Master’s attention was first drawn to you just because of that feeling you have in you for poor animals. The venerable old
Maha Chohan was for you, when everyone, including myself (though in lesser degree), was against you. When I went to London I was prejudiced against you, and it is the Master who blew me up for it, and made me do my duty. All that came to pass later on was not the Master’s desire, but the rebellion of his would-be ‘lay and unlay Chelas.’ Therefore I feel sure and know that the Master approves your opposing the principle of Vivisection, but not the practical way you do it, injuring yourself and doing injury to others, without much benefiting the poor animals. Of course it is Karma in the case of Paul Bert. But so it is in the case of every murdered man. Nevertheless the weapon of Karma, unless he acts unconsciously, is a murderer in the sight of that same Karma that used him. Let us work against the principle, then; not against personalities. For it is a weed that requires more than seven, or seven times seven, of us to extirpate it.”
“Attack the principles, and not the persons!” she exclaimed when we had read this letter. “And while the world is being educated to recognise the principle, millions of poor creatures are being horribly tortured, to say nothing of souls degraded and damned. I will tell you what that means. It means that whenever you see a ruffian brutally ill-treating a woman or a child, instead of rushing with all your might to the rescue, you are to stand by and do nothing but talk, or else go home and write something ‘attacking the principle.’ No; the power to interfere and save imposes the duty to interfere and save; and as that power has been given to me, I should not be doing my duty if I did not exercise it.”
She was bent on visiting Pasteur’s Institute, to witness his procedure and obtain such further information as would strengthen her hands with the public against the system. Her health was still deplorable; the weather was inclement, and the place distant. I myself, moreover, was hardly yet sufficiently recovered to venture out without risk. And for this reason she proposed to go alone. That, of course, was out of the question. And so, finding her hopelessly possessed of her idea, and even fascinated by the thought of risking her life in the cause, I accompanied her to the Rue d’Ulm the day being November 17, the date of the last entry cited from her Diary, but only to find that we had come at a wrong hour, when there was nothing going on and no one to be seen. Returning with the intention of going again the following day, we were caught, before we could obtain a shelter or a vehicle, in a heavy rain, and reached our apartment for Mary to be struck down by a severe attack of pneumonia, which for a time threatened to carry her off.
But after an incredible amount of suffering – so extraordinary was her vitality – she rallied sufficiently to move, on December 13, to the pension kept by her friend Miss Dawson, with whom her daughter was living, who now had a vacancy which enabled her to receive us both. The history of the rest of the year will best be told in the following letters from me to her mother: –
“1 RUE DARU, PARIS, Dec. 22, 1886.
“DEAR MRS. BONUS, – Mrs. Kingsford desires me to write to you for her, as she is quite unable to write herself, to convey to you her best love and wishes for Christmas and the New Year, and to inform you more particularly of her state than her daughter is able to do. Her removal to this house has brought no improvement, but has somewhat altered the character of her illness. For, while her cough continues, and there is evidently some mischief in the lung, her neuralgia has extended to the region of the heart, setting up a complaint called by the doctor, who was sent for again yesterday, ‘cardiac neuralgia,’ which is always terribly painful, but least dangerous, he says, in the form in which she has it, of the two forms in which it occurs. He ascribes it to long-continued asthma, and says it is most likely to be cured by removal to a climate which, being at once warm, dry, and not relaxing, is favourable to the cure of asthma. Such a climate, the doctor says, exists in greatest perfection in Egypt, and he recommends her removal to Cairo. But Egypt is not only a long way off, and involves a journey by sea and land; it is a very expensive place both to go to and to live in, and is therefore beyond the means of any of us who would have to go with her. Before seeing the doctor I had written to Mr. Kingsford to ask him to hold himself in readiness, if possible, to start at short notice to come and help me to remove her to some health-station in France, and we have thought of Arcachon, the winter resort in the pine forests near Bordeaux, as by all accounts the most likely to suit. This place has the further advantage of being within easy reach of the famous sulphur baths of Amélie-les-Bains, where also the climate is favourable, the place lying high and being warm. Pau we consider too relaxing. Should both the two above-named places fail, she would be within easy reach of Marseilles, a place which suited her very well after her disastrous visit to Mentone and Nice four winters ago, and from Marseilles it is easy to get to Algiers, which some say is the next best place to Egypt. But nothing is settled yet, and her state of weakness and susceptibility is such that any attempt to move her might be frustrated when it came to the point. Instead of quitting Paris there is another plan which she herself has suggested, in consequence of the noise and draughtiness of this house; and that is, to go into some private hospital. She bids me add that you are not to be alarmed about her, as the worst that is likely to happen is a tedious illness, which may keep her abroad several months. And I may assure you on my own account that you need not fear her not being carefully and skilfully tended. It is very far from being the first time that I have been with her in illness, both at home and abroad, so that I understand her and her requirements as no one else except
her husband does, and can always see that she has every comfort and attention possible. And besides my being a good nurse both by nature and by practice, I hold it a high privilege to minister to one whose life I regard, in common with very many persons all over the world who know her work, as one of the most valuable lives in the world to the world. – Believe me always, yours very faithfully,
To the same from the same: –
“December 28 .
“Mrs. Kingsford desires me to acknowledge and thank you for your kind letter and enclosure. I beg also to thank you for your kind note to myself. The doctor who saw her before at our previous lodging, one long established in Paris and of high repute, came yesterday, and made a careful examination of the heart and lungs. He pronounced the neuralgia which had attacked the former as having gone for the present, and the left lung as requiring active treatment, a new centre of disease – in addition to the old ones which had healed up – having opened in it. She was consequently blistered last night on the back and painted with iodine on the chest, with the result of promoting expectoration and relieving the breathing. She is, of course, very low. But I, who have seen her in so many illnesses, am more hopeful than I was of her recovery in due time, judging by the experiences of the past. For on at least three occasions she suffered all the winter in much the same way, and got well on removing in the spring, one time to Italy, another to the neighbouring forest of Meudon, and the third time to Switzerland. We must not, however, be sanguine of a rapid or of a complete recovery. For the cough is accompanied by so much pain as to indicate a severe attack, and it has come upon a system already depleted of nervous energy by a long course of over-exertion and enfeebled by a long illness. The doctor says that she will probably have to reside chiefly, if not altogether, in Italy. But hers is a constitution which has always baffled medical prognosis, – the spirit in her is so strong, though the organism is so fragile. One of her great troubles is the soreness and pain caused by so much lying down, or rather sitting up; for, owing to the difficulty in breathing, she never really lies down, but sleeps in what is here called a chaise longue, a contrivance half sofa and half chair. She desires me to send you her best love. Her brother John has written in answer to me, sending a list of places he thinks suitable for her. But there is no need now to hurry a decision. She proposes to write to you herself so soon as the pain from the blistering has sufficiently subsided.”
(272:1) P. 89 ante.
(278:1) P. 203 ante.
(279:1) P. 205 ante.
(284:1) Pp. 272-273 ante.
(285:1) See Vol. I, p. 340.
(291:1) See “Hymn to Hermes,” Vol. I, p. 278. Clothed with the Sun, Part I, Nº. XII.
(292:1) Writing in reply to a Review of the Life of Anna Kingsford, in which the reviewer had taken exception to Anna Kingsford’s action against Pasteur, Claude Bernard, and Paul Bert, Edward Maitland says that such action was done “under direct divine impulsion,” for Anna Kingsford “could not have done it of herself,” the impulsion and the power having been “imparted to her specially for the purpose”; and that to blame “the instrument of the Gods” is to blame the Gods themselves and their decrees; and that “she herself had no moment of misgiving, no thought of regret, nor any rebuke from the Gods”; and, he says: “Such were the relations between Anna Kingsford, the Gods, and myself, that there could not possibly have been any disapproval on their part of anything done by us or her without our knowing it. I do know positively that there was no disapproval. (…) Humanity is enriched by the loss of those who brutalise and debase humanity, as by the extirpation of a brood of noxious monsters” (Light, 1896, pp. 130, 154, 173). – S.H.H.
(293:1) We had accepted these rooms in an emergency, shortly to move into better ones. – E. M.
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