Theosophical University Press Online Edition
From The Word, June 1908 (7:3)
The understanding had been reached that Mr. Bouton should publish Madame Blavatsky's manuscript of Isis Unveiled. It was placed in my hands by him with instruction to abridge it all that I thought best. It was an undesirable task, but I did it with scrupulous regard to the interest of the publisher, and to what I esteemed to be just to the author. I was introduced to her about this time. She spoke of what I had done, with great courtesy, employing her favorite term to characterize what I had thrown out. She was about to begin a revision of the work, and asked me to indicate freely wherever I considered it at fault or not well expressed. It is hardly necessary to say that this was a delicate matter. Authors are sensitive even to morbidness, and prone to feel a criticism to be an exhibition of unfriendliness. Nevertheless, I faced the issue, and pointed out frankly what I considered fault of style, and also the importance of explaining her sources of information. She was frank to acknowledge her own shortcomings, but pleaded that she was not permitted to divulge the matters which I urged. We compared views, ethnic and historic, often not agreeing. I took the pains to embody many of these points in a letter, to which she made the following reply:
Dr. A. Wilder,
My dear Sir: —
Your kind favor at hand only to-day, for my friend Mr. Marquette has proved an inaccurate postman, having some sunstruck patients to attend.
There are many parts in my Book that I do not like either, but the trouble is I do not know how to get rid of them without touching facts which are important, as arguments. You say that when I prove something, I prove it too much. There again you are right, but in such a work — (and the first one of some importance that I ever wrote, having limited myself to articles) in such a work when facts crowd and elbow each other in my brains, really one does not know sometimes where to stop. Your head is fresh, for your read it for the first time. Therefore you see all the faults and shortcomings, while my overworked brains and memory are all in a sad muddle, having read the manuscripts over and over again. I am really very, very thankful to you for your suggestions. I wish you made more of them.
Do you think the Phenicians were an Ethiopian race? Why? They have certainly mingled much with them, but I do not see well how it can be. The Phenicians were the ancient Jews I think, whatever they have been before. Josephus admits as much, unless it is a hoax to escape other accusations. The biblical mode of worship and the bloody sacrifices in which the Patriarchs and other "chosen ones" delighted are of a Phenician origin, as they belonged in days of old to the Bacchic and Adonis Phenician worship. The Adonis is certainly the Jewish Adonai. All the Phenician deities can be found in Joshua as well as their temples. xxiii, 7. Herodotus traces the circumcision to them. The little bulls of the Jews — the Osiris-Bacchus-Adonis — is a Phenician custom. I think the Phenicians were the Canaanites. When settled in Jerusalem they appear to have become friends. The Sidonian Baal-Adonis-Bal is closely related to their Sabean worship of the "Queen of Heaven." Herodotus shows that the Syrians — the Jews of Palestine — lived earlier on the Red Sea and he calls them Phenicians. But what puzzles me is to reconcile the type. The Jews appear to have never intermarried among other nations — at least not to the extent to change their type. They have nothing Ethiopian about them. Will you tell me your reasons and oblige?
You told me in a previous letter that the Ethiopians have anciently dwelt in India. In Western India there is in a temple the statue of Chrishna and he is a splendid black Ethiopian with woolly hair, black lips and flat nose. I trace every or nearly every ancient religion to India because of the Sanscrit names of the gods of every other nation. If you trace them etymologically you are sure to find the root of every god (of the Aryan family) in Sanscrit, and many of the Semitic gods also, and that before the Aryans broke up towards the South and North. Every Slavonian Deity can be traced back to India, and yet the word Bog, the Russian word for God, a derivation from Gosped, gosped in Hospodar or gospodar, "the Lord" seems to come right from the Babylonian Bel, Baal, or Bal. In Slavonian and Russian Bjeloybog means literally White God, or the God of the Day, — Good. Deity, as Teherno-bog is Black God — the Evil, Night-Deity. The Tyrian god was Belus — Babylonian Bel, and Bok means Light and Boga the sun. I derive Bacchus from this — as a Sun god. I suppose we ought in the derivation of the names of all these gods, take in consideration the aspiration. The Semitic S generally softens to Ah, in the Sanscrit. The Assyrian San becomes in Sanscrit Ahan; their Asuria is Ahura. As is the sun-god and Ar is a sun-god. Assur is a Syrian and Assyrian sun-god; Assurya is one of the names of the Sun, and Surya in Sanscrit is the Sun (see M. Miller). It was the rule of Bunsen to soften the S to u. Now As means life and Asu Spirit, and in India, even in Thibet, the life principle, the great agent of Magic, the Astral light by which the Lamas and Siamese priests produce their wonders is written Akasa, pronounced Ahaha. It is the life-principle, for it is the direct magnetism, the electric current proceeding from the Sun, which is certainly a great Magnet as the ancients said, and not as our modern scientists will have it.
I have studied some of the old Turanian words (beg pardon of philology and Science) in Samarkand with an old scholar, and he told me that he traced somehow the deities of every subsequent nation a great deal further back than the Aryan roots before the split of the nations. Now Max Muller does not concede, it seems to me, anything positive or exact as roots beyond the old Sanscrit, and dares not go further back. How do you account for that? You say that the Chaldeans were a tribe of the Akkadians, come from Armenia. This is Rawlinson's views. But did you trace the primitive Akkadians back? I have been living for a long time at the very foot of Mount Ararat, in Erivan, where my husband was governor for twenty-five years, and we have profound scholars among some Armenian Monks in the Monastery of Etchmiadjene, the dwelling-place or See of the Armenian Patriarch (the Gregorian). It is but a few verstes from Erivan. Abieh, the well-known geologist and archeologist of the Russian government, used to say that he got his most precious information from Nerses, the late Patriarch. In the garden of the very house we lived in was an enormous column, a ruin from the palace of Tyridates, all covered with inscriptions, about which the Russian government did not care much. I had them all explained by a monk of Nerses. I have reasons to think the Akkadians came from India. The Bible mandrakes were never understood in their Cabbalistic meaning. There is a Kabbala older than the Chaldean. Oannes has never been traced to his origin; but, of course, I cannot, at least I must not, give to the world its meaning. Your article on the Androgynes is splendid. I did not dare write it in my book. I think the Amazons were Androgynes and belong to one of the primitive cycles. You do not prove them historically, do you?
I will certainly adopt your suggestion as to Job. I see you have more of Cabbalistic intuition than I thought possible in one not initiated. As to the chapter of explanation about the Hierophants, the Florsedim and others, please suggest where it ought to come in and what it should cover. It seems to me that it will be difficult for me to explain what I am not allowed to, or say anything about the exoteric part what intelligent people do not already know. I am a Thibetian buddhist, you know, and pledged myself to keep certain things secret. They have the original book of Yasher and some of the lost manuscripts mentioned in the Bible, such as the Book of War, as you knew, perhaps, in the old place. I will write to General Kauffman one of these days to Teschkent, where he is General Governor for the last ten years, and he can get me all the copies and translations from the old manuscripts I want. Isn't it extraordinary that the government (Russian) does not care more about them than it does? Whereto do you trace the lost tribes of Israel?
I suppose I gave you the headache by this time, so I close; I will forward you Saturday the last chapters of the Second Part if I can, but this part is not finished yet and I want your advice as to how to wind it up.
Truly and respectfully yours,
H. P. Blavatsky.
NOTE. — Perhaps there should be some reply made here to these inquiries, though it seems hardly in keeping. It is true that Herodotus states that the Phoenicians came from the country of the Red or Erythrean Sea, which washes Arabia.
Mr. J. D. Baldwin classifies them as "Cushites," in which race he includes the Arabians and the dominant dark people of India, but not the African tribes. The Cushites of Asia are the Ethiopians of classic times. Although the Phoenicians were styled Kaphts by the Egyptian, and the Philostians are said to have migrated from Kaphta, it has been quite common to identify the Phoenicians with the Canaanites of the Bible. Whether anciently the Jews were of the same people, there must have been a close relation, and we find in the Bible that no exception was taken to intermarriage till the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. Probably the type was established subsequent to that period. "Ephraim is a Canaanite," says the prophet; "deceitful balances are in his hand, and he loveth to oppress."
I think that Godfrey Higgins and Moor in the "Pantheon" denominated the figure a "Buddha" and negro, that Mme. Blavatsky describes as Krishna. True, Krishna had another name, and this term signifies black. But when India is named, it is not definitely certain how far it extended, or differed from the Asiatic Ethiopia. The Akkadians may have come from that part of Asia; the term signifies Highlands. But the Chaldeans, their supposed successors, are called Kasdim. In the Bible Xenophon wrote of Chaldeans, natives of Armenia.
The ensuing autumn and winter I delivered a course of lectures in a medical college in New York. This brought me from Newark several times each week and gave me an opportunity to call at the place on West Forty-seventh Street if there was occasion.
During the season previous Baron de Palm had died in Roosevelt Hospital. He was on intimate terms with the family group in West Forty-seventh Street, and had received necessary attentions from them during his illness. Whatever he possessed of value he bestowed upon them, but with the pledge or condition that his body should be cremated. This was a novel, not to say a shocking idea, to people generally. There was but one place for such a purpose in the United States. Dr. Francis Le Moyne had constructed it at Washington, in Western Pennsylvania. He was an old-time abolitionist, when this meant social proscription, and in 1844 was the candidate for the Liberty Party for Vice-President. He had advanced views on the disposal of the dead and had built the crematory for himself and family. The arrangements were made for the cremation of the body of the deceased Baron, as soon as winter had come to permit its transportation from New York. Colonel Olcott had charge of the matter. Being a "newspaper man" and rather fond of display, he induced a large party to go with him to see the first cremation in America. This was the introduction of this practice into this country.
During his absence I called at the house on Forty-seventh Street, but my ringing was not answered. I then wrote a note stating my errand. Madame Blavatsky answered at once as follows:
My Dear Doctor:
Now, that's too bad, but I really think you must have rung the wrong bell. I did not go out of the house for the last two months, and the servant is always in the kitchen until half-past nine or ten. Why did you not pull all the bells one after the other? Well, you must come Monday — as you have to come to town, and stop over till Tuesday. You can attend your College and sleep here the same, can't you? And Olcott will be back to talk your law business with you; but if you want something particular, or have some law affairs which are pressing, why don't you go to Judge, to 71 Broadway, Olcott's and Judge's office. Judge will attend to anything you want. He is a smart lawyer, and a faithful true friend to all of us. But of course you know better yourself how to act in your own business. Olcott will be home by Friday night I think. I could not go, though they expect me there to-day. To tell you the truth, I do not see the fun of spending $40.00 or $50.00 for the pleasure of seeing a man burnt. I have seen burnings of dead and living bodies in India sufficiently.
Bouton is an extraordinary man. He says to Olcott that it is for you to decide whether it will be one or two volumes, etc., and you tell me he needs no estimate of yours! He told you "how to go to work." Can't you tell us what he told you? It is no curiosity, but business. As I am adding all kind of esoteric and other matter in Part II, I would like to know what I can write, and on what subjects I am to shut my mouth. It is useless for me to labor if it is all to be cut out. Will you please, dear doctor, tell me what I have to do? I am of your opinion about Inman; but facts are facts. I do not go against Christianity, neither against Jesus of Nazareth. I simply go for the skulls of theologians. Theology is neither Christianity nor religion. It is human and blasphemous flapdoodle. I suppose any one understands it. But how can I make a parallel between heathen or pagan worship and the Christian unless I give facts? It is facts and scientific discovery which kills exoteric and fetish-worshiping Christianity, not what Inman or I can say. But laying Inman aside, read "Supernatural Religion" which had in less than 18 months six editions in England. The book is written by a Bishop, one of the most learned Theologians of the Church of England. Why he kills divine Revelation and dogmas and Gospels and all that.
Believe me, Dr. Wilder, a little and cowardly abuse will kill a book; a courageous and sincere criticism of this hypocritical, lying, dirty crew — Catholic Clergy — will help to sell the book. I leave the Protestants and other Christian religions nearly out of question. I only go for Catholics. A pope who calls himself the Vicegerent of God on earth, and openly sympathizes with the Turks against the unfortunate Bulgarian Christians, is a Cain — a fiend; and if the French Liberal papers themselves publicly abuse him, Bouton must not fear that the book will be prevented in its sale because I advise the old Antichrist, who has compared himself for the last two years with all the Prophets of the Bible and with the "slain Lamb" himself — if I advise him moreover, to compare himself, while he is at work, to Saul; the Turkish Bashi-Bazook to David; and the Bulgarians to the Philistines. Let him, the old cruel Devil promise the Bashi-Bazook (David) his daughter the Popish Church (Michal) in marriage if he brings him 100 foreskins of the Bulgarians.
I have received letters from home. My aunt sends me a piece of poetry by the famous Russian author and poet — J. Tourgeneff. It was printed in all the Russian papers, and the Emperor has forbidden its publication from consideration (and politics I suppose) for old Victoria. My aunt wants me to translate it and have it published here in the American newspapers, and most earnestly she appeals for that I cannot write poetry. God knows the trouble I have with my prose. But I have translated every line word for word (eleven quatrains in all). Can you put them in verses so as to preserve the rhyme and rhythm, too? It is a splendid and thrilling thing entitled "Crocket at Windsor," the idea being a vision of the Queen, who looks upon a crocket game and sees the balls chased by the mallet, transformed into rolling heads of women, girls and children tortured by the Turks. Goes home; sees her dress all covered with gore, calls on the British rivers and waters for help to wash out the stain, and hears a voice answered, "No, Majesty no, this innocent blood," — You can never wash out — nevermore," etc.
My dear Doctor, can you do me a favor to write me half a page or so of a "Profession of faith," to insert in the first page or pages of Part II? Just to say briefly and eloquently that it is not against Christ or the Christ-religion that I battle. Neither do I battle against any sincere, true religion, but against theology and Pagan Catholicism. If you write me this I will know how to make variations on this theme without becoming guilty of false notes in your eyes and the sight of Bouton. Please do; you can do it in three minutes. I see that none of your symbologists, neither Payne Knight, King, Dunlap, Inman, nor Higgins, knew anything about the truths of initiation. All is exoteric superficial guess work with them. 'Pon my word, without any compliment, there's Taylor alone and yourself, who seem to grasp truth intuitionally. I have read with the greatest pleasure your edition of the "Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries!" You are right. Others know Greek better, but Taylor knew Plato thousand times better; and I have found in your short fragments much matter which for the life of me I do not know where you could have learned it. Your guesses are so many hits right on the true spot. Well, you ought to go East and get initiated.
Please come on Monday. I will have a bed ready for you Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, and I will be expecting you to dinner all these days. If you cannot come until Monday, do tell me what instructions Bouton gave you, and what are the precise orders for mutilations, will you?
Esoterically yours in true Platonism,
H. P. BLAVATSKY.