How easily we accept privileges and allow the fine edge of our appreciation to be dulled by the daily use of them! As I look back over my experiences in the Theosophical Society I realize keenly now in the retrospect the extraordinary good fortune which has marked my Theosophical experience, especially in association with the Leaders. Claude Wright knew H. P. B. intimately, and though I never met her he brought her before me in frequent anecdotes and pictures — her spiritual depth and greatness, her charm and intellectual fascination. My slight but beautiful association with Mr. Judge is one of the treasures of a lifetime. And to Katherine Tingley I owe a debt which I trust I may have opportunity actively to repay through many future incarnations.
One of the greatest events in the history of the T. S. was the Ninth Annual Convention of the American Section T. S. held in Boston on April 28 and 29, 1895. I attended this convention as a delegate from the Chicago Branch, and the spirit of that great occasion still speaks in the present.
At that convention the American Section T. S. reconstituted itself "The Theosophical Society in America'. At the same time it took what proved a great forward step when it not only elected William Q. Judge President for life but also gave him the power to appoint his successor. In looking back we realize that this wise and significant action saved our part of the Theosophical Movement many mistakes and dissensions and held us free from confusing entanglements. Say what you please, the life-course of the Theosophical Society under our four Leaders has been one of happy and uninterrupted fulfilment of Theosophical and Occult promise.
The picture that stands out most vividly in my memory of those two days is of Mr. Judge sitting before us tranquilly on the platform — so frail, yet with a quiet and confident power. How soon (had we but known it) he was to leave us! It was the last time I saw him. And the realization of all that he was so unjustly and cruelly made to suffer is one of the few shadows over those happy and fruitful early days.
Yet behind all shadows there is light. The fervor of enthusiasm which brought the T. S. in America into being and launched it upon its indomitable way was born then of our loyalty to what W. Q. J. stood for. It is good to remember the swelling wave of vindication and trust that must in that hour have lifted his tired heart. His was indeed a perfect example of the Chela-life.
There was one slight incident during the convention which gave me intense personal satisfaction, as it linked me — even if with but an infinitesimal link — to the historical march of the proceedings. I registered two votes as delegate from the Chicago Branch for the new T. S. in America. One of those votes was immediately challenged by Alexander Fullerton, who asserted that the second vote was mine by proxy for another delegate who had been unable at the last moment to come. And, said this positive gentleman, her vote would most certainly have been cast against the motion then before the convention.
Now I had just graduated from a class in Parliamentary Law brilliantly conducted by Mrs. Caroline Ober in Chicago. So I was able to silence this objector by reminding him that a delegate can vote a proxy in any way he sees fit, providing the absent delegate has given him no instructions. And my co-delegate when asking me to act as her proxy, having failed to instruct me in any way, I felt justified in following my own judgment in the matter. So my two votes for the T. S. in America were recorded. And, as the saying goes, that was distinctly that.
When I went to Boston to attend the convention I had hoped to remain in the East, perhaps to go to New York to work. But as it happened there was a place ready and apparently waiting for someone like me at the Boston Headquarters at 24 Mt. Vernon Street. Miss Marguerite Guild had been for a long time in charge of the Headquarters Bookstore and Information Bureau, which was open every day to the public. But she lived far away in Cambridge, was the busy President of the large Cambridge Branch, and having as well many personal calls upon her time, it was imperative to relieve her. I happened to be free of ties, with a small income, and had had some experience in Branch work. Consequently I was invited to take daily charge of the bookstore and I need hardly say was glad to be in a position to accept the offer.
There followed a year of happy work with many amusing and vital experiences in the lecture field, helping to organize the picturesque Brotherhood Suppers, and other events which I shall try to describe in a later instalment. It is many years since I was then in Boston. I hope, whatever changes have taken place, the literal modern spirit has passed by my dear Mt. Vernon Street. The big Headquarters there has long since been sold, having proved something of a white elephant, though with much of the fortuitous distinction which belongs to that sacred animal. For the house itself had been the residence of an aristocratic Boston family. Its neighborhood, in the hinterland of Beacon Street, basked in the authentic New England atmosphere. This old-world charm was like an antique wine to a young lady from the sprawling artlessness of the Middle West. My explorations were of endless fascination. Opposite No. 24 lived Thomas Bailey Aldrich, and a few well known painters had houses in the vicinity. I was always chancing across quiet old courts with their ancient houses withdrawn into a green privacy, or high, old-fashioned brick walls behind which historical mansions disdained public admiration. And there were old streets that turned upon themselves like the Egyptian Labyrinth. All this had a beauty for me which was as fresh as the Light of the Ancient Wisdom breaking into my young world.
My room at the Headquarters was a tiny one up four heartbreaking flights of stairs. But it looked right into the sunrise across the bay and to me was a truly romantic eyrie. The house at that time was crowded with Theosophical residents, some of whom you will remember for their outstanding work in the T. S. I hope to introduce a few of them to you in my next chapter.
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