Letters That Have Helped Me by William Q. Judge
Theosophical University Press Online Edition

William Quan Judge

William Quan Judge, son of Alice Mary Quan and Frederick H. Judge, was born at Dublin, Ireland, on April 13th, 1851. His mother died in early life, at the birth of her seventh child. The lad was brought up in Dublin until his thirteenth year, when the father removed to the United States with his motherless children, taking passage on the Inman Liner, "City of Limerick," which arrived in New York harbour on July 14th, 1864. Of the years of his childhood there is little to be said, though we hear of a memorable illness of his seventh year; an illness supposed to be mortal. The physician declared the small sufferer to be dying, then dead; but in the outburst of grief which followed the announcement, it was discovered that the child had revived, and that all was well with him. During convalescence the boy shewed aptitudes and knowledge never before displayed, exciting wonderment and questioning among his elders as to when and how he had learned all these new things. He seemed the same, and yet not the same; had to be studied anew by his family, and while no one knew that he had ever learned to read, from his recovery in his eighth year we find him devouring the contents of all the books he could obtain, relating to Mesmerism, Phrenology, Character-Reading, Religion, Magic, Rosicrucianism, and deeply absorbed in the Book of Revelation, trying to discover its real meaning. The elder Judge, with his children, lived for a brief period at the old Merchants' Hotel, in Cortland Street, New York: then in Tenth Street, and afterward settled in Brooklyn. William began work in New York as a clerk, afterwards entering the Law Office of George P. Andrews, who afterwards became Judge of the Supreme Court of New York. There the lad studied law, living with his father, who died soon after. On coming of age, William Q. Judge was naturalised a citizen of the United States, in April, 1872. In May of that year he was admitted to the Bar of New York. His conspicuous traits as a lawyer, in the practice of Commercial Law, which became his specialty, were his thoroughness, his inflexible persistence, and his industry, which won the respect of employers and clients alike. As was said of him, then and later: "Judge would walk over hot ploughshares from here to India to do his duty." In 1874 he married Ella M. Smith, of Brooklyn, by whom he had one child, a daughter, whose death in early childhood was long a source of deep, though quiet, sorrow to both. Mr. Judge in especial was a great lover of children, and had the gift of attracting them around him, whether in public -- as on the steamer deck -- or in private, and this without any apparent notice or effort on his part. Wherever he went, one would see the children begin to sidle up to him, soon absorbed in the new friend.

Living in Brooklyn until 1893, Mr. and Mrs. Judge then removed to New York in order to be nearer to the Theosophical Headquarters, Mr. Judge at that date, and for the first time, giving up his arduous labours at the law, in order to devote himself wholly to Theosophical work.

Soon after his marriage Mr. Judge heard of Madame Blavatsky in this wise. He came across a book which greatly interested him. This was People from the Other World, by H. S. Olcott. Mr. Judge wrote to Colonel Olcott, asking for the address of a good medium, for at this time the tide of occult inquiry and speculation had just set in, and the experiences of numbers of people, including those of Madame Blavatsky, at the "Eddy Homestead," were the talk of all the world. Mr. Judge was invited to call upon H. P. B. while no medium was forthcoming, and thus the conjunction was formed, in this incarnation, which H. P. B. later on declared to have existed "for aeons past." Henceforward, Mr. Judge spent much of his time with H. P. B. at Irving Place, New York: he was one of a number of people present at her rooms one evening when she turned to him, saying: "Ask Col. Olcott to form a Society." This was done at once. Mr. Judge was called to the Chair, nominating Col. Olcott as permanent Chairman, and was himself nominated as Secretary. This was the beginning of the Theosophical Society, on the date of 7th September, 1875.

When Madame Blavatsky went to India, Mr. Judge was left to carry on the T. S. in New York as best he could, a difficult task indeed when she who was then the one great exponent had left the field, and the curiosity and interest excited by her original and striking mission had died down. The T. S. was henceforth to subsist on its philosophical basis, and this, after long years of toil and unyielding persistence, was the point attained by Mr. Judge. From his twenty-third year until his death, his best efforts and all the fiery energies of his undaunted soul were given to this Work. We have a word picture of him, opening meetings, reading a chapter of the Bhagavat Gita, entering the Minutes, and carrying on all the details of the same, as if he were not the only person present; and this he did time after time, determined to have a Society. Little by little he gathered about him a number of earnest seekers, some of whom still work in the New York and other Branches, and through his unremitting labour he built up the T. S. in America, aiding the Movement as well in all parts of the world, and winning from The Master the name of "Resuscitator of Theosophy in America." His motto in those days was, "Promulgation, not Speculation." "Theosophy," said he, "is a cry of the Soul."

The Work went slowly at first, and the eager disciple passed through even more than the usual suffering, sense of loneliness and desolation, as we see H. P. B. pointing out in regard to him that "he, of all chelas, suffers most, and asks, or even expects, the least." But the shadow lifted, and in 1888 we find H. P. B. writing of him as being then "a chela of thirteen years' standing," with "trust reposed in him"; and as "the chief and sole Agent of The Dzyan in America." (This is the Thibetan name of what we call The Lodge.)

Mr. Judge also went to South America, where he saw many strange things, and contracted Chagres fever, that terrible scourge whose effects dog the victim through a lifetime. To India as well, where he was for some time with H. P. B. Later on he was with her in France and in England, always intent on the Work of the T. S. He lectured in both countries; instituted The Path magazine, meeting all its deficits and carrying on its various activities, as well as those of the T. S. He wrote incessantly; opened the doors of the Press at length to a serious consideration of Theosophy; he lectured all over the States and did the work of several men. His health was frail; a day free from pain was a very rare thing with him. He had his sorrows too, of which the death of his only child was the deepest. But the cheerfulness of his aspect, his undaunted energy, never failed him, and he was the cause of activity among all his fellow members. To those who would ask his advice in the crises which were wont to shake the tree of the T. S. he would make answer: "Work! Work! Work for Theosophy!" And when at last the Great Betrayal came to him, and some of those whom he had lifted and served and taught how to work, strove to cast him down and out of the Society, in their ignorance of their own limitations, he kept the due silence of the Initiate; he bowed his defenceless head to The Will and The Law, and passing with sweet and serene heart through the waters of bitterness, consoled by the respect and trust of the Community in which his life had been spent, and by the thousands of students who knew and loved him: he exhorted all to forgiveness and renewed effort: he reminded us that there were many committed by the unbrotherliness of his opponents who would in time come themselves to see and comprehend the wrong done to the Work by action taken which they did not at the time understand in all its bearings; he begged us to be ready to meet that day and to take the extended hands which would then be held out to us by those who ignorantly shared the wrong done to him, and through him, to us all. In this trust he passed behind the veil. On the 21st of March, 1896, he encountered "Eloquent, Just and Mighty Death."

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So much for the open and material facts of his life. There is much more that must be left unsaid. His claim upon us was that of The Work. The Work was his Ideal. He valued men and women only by their theosophical Work, and the right spirit in which that Work was done. He held Right Thought to be of the best Work. He worked with anyone who was willing to do Work in the real sense, careless whether such were personal friends, strangers, or active or secret foes. Many a time he was known to be energetically working with those who were attacking him, or planning attack in supposed concealment, and his smile, as this was commented upon, was a thing to be always remembered; that whimsical and quaint smile, followed by some Irish drollery. But in order to leave behind us some adequate idea of the broadness and the catholicity of his nature, it seems best to append to this brief and unworthy sketch, some few of the thoughts of his life-long friends, nearly all published soon after he left us.

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On page 68 of the first volume of Letters is a letter from an Adept, from which a certain portion ("private instruction") is omitted. That omitted portion runs as follows:

"Is the choice made? Then Y. will do well to see W. Q. J. and to acquaint him with this letter. For the first year or two no better guide can be had. For when the 'PRESENCE' is upon him, he knows well that which others only suspect and 'divine' . . . . is useful to 'Path,' but greater services may be rendered to him, who, of all chelas, suffers most and demands, or even expects the least."

(If this extract be fitted into the original letter its immense importance in respect to Mr. Judge may be realised by the intuitive student.)

"In answer to your letter I can only say as follows: If W. Q. Judge, the man who has done most for Theosophy in America, who has worked most unselfishly in your country, and has ever done the biddings of Master, the best he knew how, is left alone in . . . and if the . . . Society in general and its Esotericists especially leave him alone, without their unanimous moral support, which is much more than their money -- then I say -- let them go! They are NO theosophists; -- and if such a thing should happen, and Judge be left to fight his battles alone, then shall I bid all of them an eternal good-bye. I swear on MASTER'S holy name to shake off the dust of my feet from everyone of them. . . . I am unable to realise that at the hour of trouble and supreme fight . . . any true Theosophist should hesitate for one moment to back W. Q. J. publicly and lodge in his or her protest. Let them read Master's letter in the preliminary -----. All that which I said about W. Q. J. was from His words in His letter to me. . . . Do with this letter what you like. Show it to anyone you please as my firm determination. . . ." -- H. P. B.

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"It is necessary that just those souls in whom we have felt most of reality should disappear from us into the darkness, in order that we may learn that not seeing, but inwardly touching, is the true proof that our friend is there; in order that we may learn that the vanishing and dissipation of the outward, visible part, is no impairing or detriment to the real part, which is invisible. This knowledge, and the realising of it in our wills, are gained with the utmost difficulty, at a cost not less than the loss of the best of our friends; yet if the cost be great, the gain is great and beyond estimating, for it is nothing less than a first victory over the whole universe, wherein we come to know that there is that in us which can face and conquer and outlast anything in the universe, and come forth radiant and triumphant from the contest. Yet neither the universe nor death are real antagonists, for they are but only Life everywhere, and we are Life." -- C. J.

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"He was never narrow, never selfish, never conceited. He would drop his own plan in a moment if a better were suggested, and was delighted if someone would carry on the work he had devised, and immediately inaugurate other lines of work. To get on with the work and forward the movement seemed to be his only aim in life. . . . For myself, knowing Mr. Judge as I did, and associating with him day after day, at home, in the rush of work, in long days of travel over desert wastes or over the trackless ocean, having travelled with him a distance equal to twice around the globe. . . . there is not the slightest doubt of his connection with and service of the Great Lodge. He did the Master's work to the best of his ability, and thus carried out the injunction of H. P. B. to "keep the link unbroken." -- J. D. BUCK.

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"There is not one act in the life of William Q. Judge that has come under my observation, that savours of selfishness or of a desire to further any personal end. . . . Perhaps I am not qualified to pass on the merits as an occultist, of the man whose memory I hold in such grateful esteem; but I can, at least, speak of what passed before my eyes in the ordinary affairs of life, and in these affairs I have invariably found him to be the soul of unselfishness, honour, generosity, and all the other virtues that men hold so dear in other men." -- E. B. PAGE.

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"In the summer of 1894 we were privileged to have him stay at our house for several weeks, and since then he spent at least one evening a week with us until his illness forced him to leave New York. . . . Day after day he would come back from the office utterly exhausted in mind and body, and night after night he would lie awake fighting the arrows of suspicion and doubt that would come at him from all over the world. He said they were like shafts of fire piercing him, and in the morning he would come downstairs wan and pale and unrested, and one step nearer the limit of his strength, but still with the same gentle and forgiving spirit. . . . Perhaps the most striking evidence of his greatness was the wisdom with which he treated different people, and the infinite knowledge of character shown by him in his guidance of his pupils. I do not believe he was the same to any two people. . . . His most lovable trait was his exquisite sympathy and gentleness. It has been said of him that no one ever touched a sore spot with such infinite tenderness, and I know many that would rather have been scolded and corrected by Mr. Judge than praised by anyone else. It was the good fortune of a few of us to know something of the real Ego who used the body known as Wm. Q. Judge. He once spent some hours describing to my wife and me the experience the Ego had in assuming control of the instrument it was to use for so many years. The process was not a quick nor an easy one and indeed was never absolutely perfected, for to Mr. Judge's dying day, the physical tendencies and heredity of the body he used would crop up and interfere with the full expression of the inner man's thoughts and feelings. An occasional abruptness and coldness of manner was attributable to this lack of co-ordination. Of course Mr. Judge was perfectly aware of this and it would trouble him for fear his real friends would be deceived as to his real feeling. He was always in absolute control of his thoughts and actions, but his body would sometimes slightly modify their expression. . . . Mr. Judge told me in December, 1894, that the Judge body was due by its Karma to die the next year and that it would have to be tided over this period by extraordinary means. He then expected this process to be entirely successful, and that he would be able to use that body for many years, but he did not count upon the assaults from without, and the strain and exhaustion. . . . This, and the body's heredity, proved too much for even his will and power. Two months before his death he knew he was to die, but even then the indomitable will was hard to conquer and the poor exhausted, pain-racked body was dragged through a miserable two months in one final and supreme effort to stay with his friends. And when he did decide to go, those who loved him most were the most willing for the parting. I thank the Gods that I was privileged to know him. It was a benediction to call him friend." -- G. HIJO.

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"To a greater extent than I have ever realised I know he entered into my life and I am equally sure into the lives of thousands, and this fact I see we are to acknowledge as time passes more and more. . . . He swore no one to allegiance, he asked for no one's love or loyalty; but his disciples came to him of their own free will and accord, and then he never deserted them, but gave more freely than they asked and often in greater measure than they could or would use. He was always a little ahead of the occasion, and so was truly "leader." -- E. B. RAMBO.

"Judge was the best and truest friend a man ever had. H. P. B. told me I should find this to be so, and so it was of him whom she, too, trusted and loved as she did no other. And as I think of what those missed who persecuted him, of the loss in their lives, of the great jewel so near to them which they passed by, I turn sick with a sense of their loss: the immense mystery that Life is, presses home to me. In him his foes lost their truest friend out of this life of ours in the body, and though it was their limitations which hid him from them, as our limitations do hide from us so much Spiritual Good, yet we must remember, too, that these limitations have afforded to us and to the world this wonderful example of unselfishness and forgiveness. Judge made the life portrayed by Jesus realisable to me." -- A. KEIGHTLEY.

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"William Q. Judge was the nearest approach to my ideal of a MAN that I have known. He was what I want to be. H. P. B. was something more than human: she was a cosmic power. W. Q. J. was splendidly human: and he manifested in a way delightfully refreshing and all his own that most rare of human characteristics -- genuineness. His influence is continually present and powerful, an influence tending steadily, as ever, in one direction -- work for the Masters' Cause." -- THOS. GREEN.

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"His last message to us was this 'There should be calmness. Hold fast. Go slow.' And if you take down those words and remember them, you will find that they contain an epitome of his whole life struggle. He believed in Theosophy and lived it. He believed because he knew that the great Self of which he so often spoke was the eternal Self, was himself. Therefore he was always calm. He held fast with unwavering tenacity to his purpose and to his ideal. He went slow, and never allowed himself to act hastily. He made time his own, and he was justice itself on that account. And he had the power to act with the rapidity of lightning when the time for action came. We can now afford to console ourselves because of the life he lived, and should also remember that this man, William Quan Judge, had more devoted friends, I believe, than any other living man; more friends who would literally have died for him at a moment's notice, would have gone to any part of the world on the strength of a hint from him. And never once did he use that power and influence for his own personal ends; -- never once did he use that power, great as it was not only in America, but in Europe, Australasia and elsewhere as well, for anything but the good of the Theosophical movement.

"Poor Judge. It was not the charges that stung him, they were too untrue to hurt. It was the fact that those who had once most loudly proclaimed themselves his debtors and his friends were among the first to turn against him. He had the heart of a little child and his tenderness was only equalled by his strength. . . . He never cared what people thought of him or his work so long as they would work for brotherhood. . . . His wife has said that she never knew him to tell a lie, and those most closely connected with him theosophically agree that he was the most truthful man they ever knew." -- E. T. H.

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"I knew him with some degree of intimacy for the past eight years, meeting him often and under varied conditions, and never for one moment did he fail to command my respect and affection, and that I should have had the privilege of his acquaintance I hold a debt to Karma. A good homely face and unpretentious manner, a loving disposition, full of kindliness and honest friendship, went with such strong common sense and knowledge of affairs that his coming was always a pleasure and his stay a delight. The children hung about him fondly as he would sit after dinner and draw them pictures." -- H. SPENCER.

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"His life was an example of the possibility of presenting new ideas with emphasis, persistence and effect, without becoming eccentric or one-sided, without losing touch with our fellows, in short without becoming a 'crank.' . . . The quality of 'common sense' was Mr. Judge's. Those who have heard him speak, know the singular directness with which his mind went to the marrow of a subject, the unaffected selflessness that radiated from the man. The quality of 'common sense' was Mr. Judge's pre-eminent characteristic." -- WILLIAM MAIN.

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"For to the mystical element in the personality of Mr. Judge was united the shrewdness of the practised lawyer, the organising faculty of a great leader, and that admirable common sense, which is so uncommon a thing with enthusiasts. . . . In his teaching was embodied most emphatically that received by the prophet Ezekiel when the Voice said to him: 'Stand upon thy feet and I will speak to thee.' He was the best of friends, for he held you firmly, yet apart. He realised the beautiful description Emerson gives of the ideal friend, in whom meet the two most essential elements of friendship, tenderness and truth. 'I am arrived at last,' says Emerson, 'in the presence of a man so real and equal . . . that I may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness with which one chemical atom meets another. . . . To a great heart he will still be a stranger in a thousand particulars, that he may come near in the holiest ground.' And upon that 'holiest ground' of devotion to the highest aim, of desire alone for the welfare of others, the Chief was always to be approached. And blended with the undaunted courage, the keen insight, the swift judgment, the endless patience, that made his personality so powerful, were the warm affections, the ready wit, the almost boyish gaiety that made it so lovable. . . . One of the Chief's last messages to us said: 'They must aim to develop themselves in daily life in small duties.' . . . There was a beautiful story of Rhoecus, who could not recognise in the bee that buzzed about his head the messenger of the Dryad, and so lost her love." -- KATHARINE HILLARD.

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"If my memory serves me rightly, we met first upon an occasion when H. P. Blavatsky was induced to try, in the presence of some reporters, if she could open up communication with the diaphanous remainder of a night watchman who had been drowned in an East River dock. Olcott was present, in command, prominent and authoritative, and Judge, in attendance, reserved and quiet. The spook was shy and the reporters sarcastic. The only one apparently annoyed by their humour was the Colonel. Mr. Judge's placidity and good nature commended him to the liking of the reporters, and made a particularly favourable impression upon me, which was deepened by the experiences of an acquaintance that continued while he lived. In all that time, though I have seen him upon a good many occasions when he would have had excellent excuse for wrath, his demeanour was uniformly the same -- kindly, considerate and self-restrained, not merely in such measure of self-control as might be expected of a gentleman, but as if inspired by much higher regards than mere respect for the convenances of good society. He always seemed to look for mitigating circumstances in even the pure cussedness of others, seeking to credit them with, at least, honesty of purpose and good intentions, however treacherous and malicious their acts toward him might have been. He did not appear willing to believe that people did evil through preference for it, but only because they were ignorant of the good, and its superior advantages; consequently he was very tolerant." -- J. H. CONNELLY.

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"What he was to one of his pupils, I believe he was to all, . . . so wide reaching was his sympathy, so deep his understanding of each heart; . . . and I but voice the feeling of hundreds all over the world when I say that we mourn the tenderest of friends, the wisest of counsellors, the bravest and noblest of leaders. What a man was this, to have been such, to people of so widely varying nationalities, opinions and beliefs . . . to have drawn them all to him by the power of his love, . . . and in so doing, to have brought them closer to each other. There was no difficulty he would not take infinite pains to unravel, no sore spot in the heart he did not sense and strive to heal." -- G. L. G.

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"In truth, we might pile up these evidences from the hearts of those who knew him best and longest, and who were well fitted to judge of the solidity and the truth of any character. But of this there is no need. It is for those to say who were influenced by their bugbear of "authority" whether they have not exchanged the substance for the shadow; have not retained the dogmatism and lost the free and noble spirit which W. Q. Judge ever exercised, and which he strove to retain in the T. S. Summing up his life, one must still say what was written soon after his departure: "In thinking of this helper and teacher of ours, I find myself thinking almost wholly of the future. He was one who never looked back; he looked forward always. . . . We think of him not as of a man departed from our midst, but as a soul set free to work its mighty mission, rejoicing in that freedom, resplendent in compassion and power. His was a nature that knew no trammels, but acknowledged the divine laws in all things. He was, as he himself said, 'rich in hope.' . . . . That future as he saw and sees it is majestic in its harmonious proportions. It presaged the liberation of the race. It struck the shackles from the self-imprisoned and bade the souls of men be free. It evokes now, today, the powers of the inner man. . . . Death, the magician, opened a door to show us these things. If we are faithful, that door shall never close. If we are faithful; only that proviso. Close up the ranks, and let Fidelity be the agent of heavenly powers. To see America, the cradle of the new race, fit herself to help and uplift that race and to prepare here a haven and a home for Egos yet to appear . . . for this he worked; for this will work those who came after him. And he works with them." -- JULIA W. L. KEIGHTLEY.

"A strong light surrounded by darkness; though reaching far and making clear the night, will attract the things that dwell in darkness. A pure soul brought to the notice of men will illumine the hearts of thousands; but will also call forth from the corners of the earth the hostility of those who love evil." (Book of Items.)

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