There is so much, in the following pages, likely to offend conventional theories as to what is possible, or credible, that I look forward very confidently to the mockery with which the narrative will be assailed by writers who assume the resources of Nature confined within the limits of their own experience, and the powers to which humanity can attain, measured by the standard of a college examination. All around us, even in London, and at the present day, psychic phenomena that transcend this view of things are of constant occurrence, and lie within the personal knowledge of hundreds of people, - we might say of thousands, taking the whole country into account. Large groups and societies of such people meet together and laugh, or grieve, as the case may be, over the perversity of the ignorant multitude who vainly and foolishly imagine themselves the vanguard of civilization and culture, while scornfully holding aloof from the knowledge which, though but just dawning on our generation, is manifestly, for all who can appreciate it, the most sublime to which human intelligence can be directed. The scornful attitude may spring from various characteristics all but too widely diffused in our age - from dense materialism which cannot conceive of consciousness as anything but a function of the flesh and blood in which all its dreams of pleasure or apprehensions of pain are centered; from a prostration of the intellect before the achievements of physical science, very charming of course in their own limited way; or from an ignoble preference for swimming with the stream as compared with facing vulgar ridicule and obloquy, and a worldly desire to shout always with the largest crowd. But in joyously maintaining their superiority by reviling the representatives of the psychic camp, exponents of orthodox incredulity seem to overlook one reflection which ought nevertheless, one would say, to present itself to their minds. Though they evade the ridicule of the majority, how profoundly absurd their attitude must seem to the minority who enjoy personal cognizance of the truth of that at which they jeer.
And as the occult revelation progresses, the jeerers plunge more and more deeply into the mire. They fall more and more heavily in debt to advancing knowledge; and their final bankruptcy is plainly destined to be all the more humiliating. At first they were merely called upon to face the fact that abnormal occurrences awaiting interpretation really did take place. The drops of the shower were unevenly distributed. They did not fall, like the rain from Heaven, on the just and the unjust alike, but, nevertheless, they fell in such numbers that any sane person collecting the evidence of those who felt them, should soon have been sure that, at all events, they certainly did fall here and there. But incredulity was
fashionable, however silly. It was the profession of faith of time-servers and materialists, and of all for whom religion is, above everything else, a matter of respectability. The shower grew more plentiful, but opinions that had no foundations in reason were naturally inaccessible to facts. The party of psychic discovery gained daily in strength, but the public at large remained the dupes of narrow-minded and conceited leaders who could not afford to admit themselves mistaken. To this day the infatuation of many people wedded to disbelief in psychic phenomena, retains them in the intellectually absurd position of requiring personal experience, as the condition on which alone they are willing to work with the observations of others. They seem to imagine themselves the last representatives of their peculiar folly, and to suppose that when they may be convinced, the problems at stake will have been solved, and no one else be so unreasonable again as they were in their day.
If the casual and sporadic phenomena which have heralded psychic discovery within the last thirty years had been generally examined with the attention they deserved, the startling exhibitions of occult power which have attended Mme. Blavatsky's career during the latest third of this period, would have been better understood. As it is, the sibylline books offered to the modern world, though not diminishing in number, are growing in price, if this be measured in the retrospective humiliation that must attend their ultimate acceptance. But, of course, I am not sanguine enough to suppose that the scoffing devotees of the creed which prevails, will see the wisdom of choosing the present opportunity for coming to terms. They will scoff still, and treat the straightforward record of the "incidents" to which this volume is dedicated as - ; but, without cracking the nut for them, and suggesting how it should be treated, I would like to call the attention of impartial readers to one or two considerations of importance. If this narrative is to be disbelieved, I defy any critic to put forward a plausible hypothesis to explain the concurrence of testimony by which it is supported. We find the friends and relations of Mme. Blavatsky's youth relating endless experiences of the psychic wonders attending her childhood. We find friends of diverse nationalities with whom she has come in contact at different times, in different parts of the world, bearing testimony to the overwhelming marvels they have witnessed. We trace the records of her wonder-working attributes in the newspapers of Russia, America, and India. It would be childish to argue that all the witnesses concerned are in a conspiracy to lie: it would be futile to conceive them victims of hallucination or glamour imposed upon them by the heroine of this book; for that would be assigning her abnormal psychic powers as great in one direction as those the theory would be employed to discredit in another. What is to be done about animpasse of this kind?
Here is the problem, in the volume before us - the outline of Mme. Blavatsky's life substantiated by a multiplicity of guarantees. Critics may ignore it, pass it by on the other side, laugh at it without a pretense of argument, - as if they were magpies of the Australian bush, of the species known as the "Laughing jackass," - but they cannot honestly face it and escape from admitting that the limits of Natural possibilities aren o t coincident with any code of Nature's laws passed with the imprimatur of orthodox opinion up to the year 1886. That this narrative as a whole, and making every allowance that can be made for error and exaggeration, is true, ought, in the first place, to force itself on every competent understanding; and for the rest, when the state of the case is recognized, and all the world shall have learned that the psychic plane of Nature, with its wonderful laws and forces, is a grand and stupendous reality, - then the "Laughing Jackass" of that period will laugh still, always with the majority, but will direct his mockery, for a change, at the senseless
Introduction. . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . 1
Chapter I:Childhood..................... ........... 13
Chapter II:Marriage and Travel..................... . 53
Chapter III:At Home in Russia, 1858................. 75
Chapter IV:Mme. de Jelihovsky's Narrative............. 86
Chapter V:Mme. de Jelihovsky's Narrative (continued)........... 112
Chapter VI:Mme. de Jelihovsky's Narrative (continued)........... 135
Chapter VII:From Apprenticeship to Duty................. 154
Chapter VIII:Residence in America.................. 169
Chapter IX:Established in India..................... 218
Chapter X:A Visit to Europe..................... ..... 261
Appendix.............................. .................... 323
Many embarrassments attend the publication of memoirs relating to a living person. The events of any life still in progress are necessarily entangled with those of many other such lives. Susceptibilities of a reasonable and unreasonable kind have to be consulted at every turn, and passages in the story to be told, that, for the sake of the interests principally concerned, one would wish elucidated with the fullest detail, must sometimes be treated with reserve merely because such and such people who would have to be brought under notice in connection with them, shrink from publicity, or perhaps claim immunity from the criticism to which they would have to be subject if the fullest justice were done to the central figure in the picture. Then, in regard to the central figure, if it be that of a person who stands for any reason at all prominently before the world, impressions of a very antagonistic kind may be already prevalent. He or she may be held in high respect according to one view, and in very different estimation according to others; and under such conditions a biographer can hardly take up the
On the other hand, it seems hard that persons who thus become the subject of public controversy should remain the mark for misrepresentation which the general course of their life history, if fairly put forward, would abundantly refute. Certainly, it may be admitted, as against this consideration, that people who devote themselves to the service of a cause or an idea, whether they are honoured during life or flouted by public opinion,
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