The following letter belongs properly to an earlier part of the series. It was written from Bombay in the autumn of 1882:
"My blood is transformed into water; it oozes out and forms bags. For this I have to thank, primo, Bombay heat and dampness, and secundo my eternal irritations, bothers and troubles. I have become so nervous that the light step of Babula's bare feet gives me palpitations of the heart. I have forced Dudley (the Doctor) to tell me that I may die any moment from any kind of fright, without which I could live a year or two more. As if it were possible with the life I lead! I have twenty frights a day, not one. I have put the whole business into the hands of the Masters. M ___ wants me to start at the end of September. He has sent me one of his Chelas from the Nilgiri, to take me with him. Where, I do not know exactly, but probably into some place in the Himalayas."
After this there was a long lapse in the letters, and then H.P.B.'s sister got a few lines from her, dating from Darjeeling, saying that she had nearly died; that she certainly would not be among the living if it had not been for the miraculous intervention of her Master, who had taken her off to the mountains and brought her back to life again by means of a few passes, when she was to all intents and purposes a corpse. Madame Jelihovsky often asked H.P.B. in after days for further particulars of this mysterious episode in her life. "How did she happen to find herself unconscious and ill in some unreachable and perfectly impassible mountains in the Himalayas? Who took her there? Where did she spend the time of her convalescence? How, again, did she return to civilization?" She always answered that firstly she could not remember everything, and secondly she was not allowed to tell everything. Madame Jelihovsky writes, however, that, if not at this time then at some earlier epoch, she is perfectly certain that H.P.B. visited Lhassa, and that she had also been to the chief religious centre of Thibet, where among several hundred Lamas lives the Teshu Lama, the spiritual head of the Buddhists, whom they consider the reincarnation of Buddha. Madame Jelihovsky is also certain that at some time or other her sister had been in the Kuen Lun mountains. H.P.B. always told her that the two Mahatmas whom she knew personally were very different, both in character and in their mode of living; that the Mahatma K.H. was much more accessible, and lived with his sister and nephew in Kuen Lun; that Mahatma M., her personal teacher, had no fixed residence, was much more serious and stern, was always on the move, going wherever he might be most needed at the moment. The former talked and laughed at times like any ordinary person; the latter never, being very laconic. He is the older of the two.
When H.P.B. returned she was almost perfectly healthy and strong, and, to the great astonishment of the doctors, began her work again. On the seventeenth of December, 1882, H.P.B., Col. Olcott and others moved to Adyar. She wrote to Mme. Fadeef:
"It is simply delightful. What air we have here; what nights! And what marvellous quiet! No more city noises and street yells. I am sitting quietly writing, and now and then gaze over the ocean sparkling all over as if a living thing — really. I am often under the impression that the sea breathes, or that it is angry, roaring and hurling itself about in wrath. But when it is quiet and caressing there can be nothing in the world as fascinating as its beauty, especially on a moonlit night. The moon here against the deep dark-blue sky seems twice as big and ten times brighter than your European mother-of-pearl ball. Farewell."
Her sister and niece visited her at Ostende in 1886. This is what she wrote to them soon after they left:
"I shall take myself to task now that I am alone; and instead of a restless wandering Jew I shall turn myself into a 'hermit crab,' into a petrified sea monster, stranded on the shore. I shall write and write, — my only consolation! Alas, happy are the people who can walk. What a life to be always ill — and without legs, into the bargain . . ."
After her great illness in Ostende in the Spring of 1887, she wrote to her sister:
"My darling, do not be frightened: once more I have disappointed the snub-nosed one. (2) Some people have pulled me through. Such wonderful things happen to me. You write, 'How can you be so careless!' As if I have caught cold through carelessness. I never rose from my armchair, never left the room, sitting as if chained to my Secret Doctrine; I have made everyone work at it: the Countess, Dr. Keightley, the cousin of the one you saw in Paris. He came as a delegate from London, to invite me to go there — and I put him to work! Don't you see how it was: about ten days before my illness the London Society began to call out vehemently for me — they wanted me, they said; could not do anything without me. They want to study occultism, and so burn with the desire of depriving Ostende of my beneficent presence. Before then I got heaps of imploring letters, but kept silent. Be off with you! I thought to myself, let me alone to write my book quietly. Not at all: they sent a deputation for me. Dr. Keightley tells me, 'We have taken a beautiful house with a garden, we have got everything ready for you and we shall transport you in our arms. Do be persuaded!' And so I was about to make up my mind. The Countess began packing; her intention was to pack me up first, then to go to Sweden and sell her property, in order to live with me, never leaving me — and all of a sudden I dropped down! Such is my planet of destiny, it appears. And besides, here is another wonder for you: On the 27th of March we were to start, and on the 17th I went to sleep in my armchair after dinner, without any reason. You know this never happens to me! I went into a very deep sleep, and suddenly spoke to her, as she told me afterwards, for I do not remember anything myself: 'Master says you must not go away because I shall be mortally ill.' She shouted, 'What are you saying?' I awoke and also shouted with astonishment, 'What are
you screaming about? What has happened?' Tableau! Two days after we nearly forgot all about it, when I received a letter from a certain London member, whom I never saw before in my life — Ashton Ellis, a doctor of the Westminster Dispensary, a mystic, a Wagnerian, great lover of music, still quite a young man, he also insisted on my coming for the simple reason, don't you know, of having seen me before him and having recognized me because of my portraits. I stood, he says, on the other side of the table on which he was writing, and gazed at him. I and Constance (the Countess Wachtmeister) were very much amused by his enthusiastic statement: 'My life seems strangely linked with yours,' he writes, 'with you and the Theosophical Society. I know I am bound to see you soon.' We were amused, but soon forgot all about it. Then I caught a cold in the throat, I really do not understand how, and then it grew still worse. When on the fifth day — after I had to go to bed, the Ostende doctors said there was no hope, as the poisoning of the blood had begun owing to the inaction of the kidneys, I dozing all the time and doomed to enter eternal sleep while thus dozing — the Countess remembered that this Ashton Ellis is a well-known doctor. She telegraphed to him, asking him to send her a good specialist. And lo! — this perfect stranger wires back: 'coming myself, shall arrive in the night.' Through my sleep I dimly remember someone coming into the room in the night, taking my hand and kissing it and giving me something to swallow; then he sat at the edge of my bed and started massaging my back. Just fancy, this man never went to bed during three days and three nights, rubbing and massaging me every hour."
Further Madame Blavatsky's letter narrates that she heard some one saying her body would not be allowed to be burned, were she to die not having signed her will.
"Here," she continues, "consciousness awoke in me, struck with horror at the thought of being buried, of lying here with catholics, and not in Adyar. ... I called out to them and said: 'Quick, quick, a lawyer,' and, would you believe it, I got up! Arthur Gebhard, who had just returned from America and had come here with his mother, having heard about my illness, rushed out and brought a lawyer and the American Consul, and I really don't know how I could gather so much strength: — I dictated and signed the will. . . . Having done with it, I felt I could not keep up any longer. I went back to bed saying to myself: 'Well, good bye, now I shall die.' But Ashton Ellis was positively beside himself; the whole night he massaged me and continually gave me something nasty to drink. But I had no hope, for I saw my body was grey and covered with dark yellowish-blue spots, and loosing consciousness I was bidding good bye to you all in my thoughts."
But the cure had taken effect; she slept twenty-four hours and woke up to life again.
Concerning the same illness she writes to her aunt, Madame Fadeeff:
"Sunday, Catholic Easter. – My old comrade and friend, I wrote to you about my illness some ten days ago, when I was still in bed. So what reason have you to grumble at my playing the dummy (3) again? It is true, though, that I was nearly about to play the eternal dummy; once more I had a hair's breadth escape, and once more I have risen from the dead. When and how I caught cold, having never left my room, — is more than I can understand. It began with bronchitis, and ended with a complication of kidney disease. The Ostende doctors tortured me, with no result at all, robbing me of my money and nearly killing me, but I was saved by a Theosophist of ours, Dr. Ashton Ellis, who as a reward has lost a situation with good pay, having left the Westminster Dispensary without permission and having been the last nine days by my side (massaging my back) When all the local doctors gave me up, Countess remembered about Ashton Ellis, whom she knew by reputation, and asked him to give some advice or to send some doctor, and he answered, he was coming personally in the night. He dropped everything and came here. And mind you, he had not so much as seen me before, knowing of me only through my work and articles. I am simply tortured with remorse, he having lost so much for my sake. At least it is well he is a bachelor. . . . He has saved me with massage, rubbing me day and night, positively taking no rest whatever. Lately he has been to London and returned yesterday, informing me that he will not leave me until I am quite recovered and intends to take me to London personally, the first warm day. Madame Gebhard is still with me; instead of spending Easter with her family, she is nursing me, as if I was a baby, and seeing that I take my medicine, whilst the Countess has gone to Sweden, being compelled to do so, in order to sell her property. In future she proposes to live with me inseparably, to look after me and to take care of me. And what do you say about the attachment this Ashton Ellis has shown to me! Where could a man be found, who would give up a good position and work, all in order to be free to save from death an old woman, an unknown stranger to him? . . . And everything at his own expense, — he refuses to take a penny from me, treating me, into the bargain, to some very old Bordeaux, he has unearthed from somewhere. And all this from a stranger and an Englishman, moreover. People say: the 'English are cold, the English are soulless.' Evidently not all ... You ask whether you should send me something, whether I want something? I do not want anything, darling, except yourself. Send me yourself. We have not seen each other for a year and a half, and when shall we meet again? Maybe, never. I am going to London, and in the autumn, if I don't die by that time, I want to go to Adyar. They persistently ask for me there . . . . Have you received our new Parisian magazine, Le Lotus? It is edited, as you will see on the title page, 'sous l' inspiration de H. P. Blavatsky' (!?) What 'inspiration,' please, when I have no time to write a single word for them. ... I have taken three subscriptions: one for you, one for Vera, and one for Katkoff. I simply adore Katkoff for his patriotism. I do not mind his not sending me any money again, God bless his soul. I deeply respect him, because he is a patriot and a brave man, speaking the truth at whatever cost! Such articles as his are a credit to Russia. I am sure that if darling uncle were still living he would find an echo of his own thoughts in them. . . . Oh, if only the Regents were hanged in Bulgaria, and Germany checkmated, I should die in peace."
1. Copyright, 1895. (return to text)
2. Meaning death. (return to text)
3. Not writing. (return to text)
The PathTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE