Índice Geral das Seções Índice da Seção Atual Índice da Obra Anterior: XXXI – De Multis Rebus Seguinte: XXXIII – Uma Turnê de Melancolia
A FLIGHT FOR LIFE
ATCHAM, September 12 . – Yesterday, towards midnight, while suffering terribly from asthma and facial neuralgia, all other remedies having failed, Mary begged to be put under chloroform, remembering the relief it had given her under like circumstances four years ago at Nice. (1) A. had gone to bed, prior to taking his turn at nursing at a later hour. There was at most but half an ounce of the drug left, so that it must be used very sparingly, as it was impossible to procure more until next day. We were sitting before the fire. She was in a very depressed frame of mind about her life and work, regarding them as a complete failure, and refusing to heed any word of hope and encouragement. She was greatly distressed also at the near approach of her fortieth birthday, and declared that she could not and would not live to see it. To be forty was to be old, and she loathed the idea of outliving her youth. The anaesthetic took almost immediate effect. She became lucid, and spoke in her own person, holding with me the following colloquy: –
“I am quite off now, quite gone away.”
“Where to?” I asked.
“I don’t know where, but the selfhood left is quite unconscious of pain.”
“Can you say where you should go to obtain the best conditions for health and work?”
“I can only say that London and Paris are best for me, but I shall not live long.”
Here the chloroform was renewed, as the pain was returning. She insisted on having a somewhat stronger dose, which practically exhausted the supply, and l dreaded the consequences of being without it. Presently she spoke again, but this time as another person, and with another and a stronger voice, a decidedly masculine voice, and quite unlike her own. I at once recognised it as the voice which had spoken from her at Nice, and concerning the utterer of which I had been so greatly perplexed. As on that occasion, it did not proceed from her lips or vocal organs, but was of a distinct personality within the organism. Its first words were spoken as a soliloquy. It said –
“If she can kill herself she will. She hardly thinks of anything else.” Then, addressing me, it asked sharply, “Are you awake and conscious?”
“Then feel her pulse. It is very doubtful if you get her back: she is nearly gone.”
I had but a moment before taken my finger from her pulse, as it was quite strong, and I knew that the chloroform had not been enough to cause danger. I now at once withdrew the handkerchief, which I found she was pressing firmly against her mouth and nostrils with both hands so as to exclude all air – a change of position I had failed to observe owing to the dimness of the light. But on feeling her pulse again I was reassured, for I had often known it to be much weaker, and in fact quite extinct in some of the fainting fits to which she was subject. Presently the voice resumed: –
“She did it on purpose, believing there was enough in the bottle to kill her; and she will do it yet if not prevented.”
“Who are you,” I asked, “that speak of her as of someone else than herself, and without disapprobation of such an attempt?”
“I am the Astral.”
“Ah! Not her higher and true self, then; not the Anima Divina. That would not approve of such an action, would it?”
“Do not ask. I do not know. What I know is, that the indications of her natural life are forty years. At most she can live but ten years more. Better for her to let her die. There is awful suffering for her if she lives.”
“Of what kind?”
“Physical and mental.”
“Would she be able to come back and help me in the work?”
“I think not. She would need rest.”
“Would she still suffer?”
“Physically or mentally?”
These last two replies were given hesitatingly, and with seeming reluctance, as if through the speaker perceiving that they told against his advice to let her go now, since she would not escape suffering. Here she spoke in her own voice, demanding more chloroform, and saying, “Quick! Quick! Before the pain returns!” There were but a few drops left, and her pulse was now strong and regular. So I gave her the rest, dreading her next appeal, when I should be unable to comply. On her going off again, the strange voice resumed: –
“Let her go. It will be better for you both, and save her ten years of suffering, which will be as bad for you as for her; and she will not be able to work, but will only hinder you. Better let her go now.”
“Tell me,” I said, “is her suffering in this life due to things done in her former lives?”
“I cannot say. I do not believe in them. I am the Astral.”
“Would not her suffering hereafter be the greater for having put an end to herself?”
“She is hardly accountable.”
“You have before given us some good advice on an emergency; can you tell me where she would suffer least?”
“In Paris and London. But she will always suffer much anywhere, and be able to do very little work. Much better to let her go.”
At this moment a change came over her; the voice ceased, and,
to my infinite relief, she passed into a sound natural slumber, which continued for three hours, when she woke free from pain and distress, and conversed cheerfully until A. came in and took his turn of watching. I had been about to question the Astral as to its share in prompting her to her despairing thoughts, and what he had to gain, if anything, by her withdrawal from the body. But the opportunity was gone when the sleep came on. For some days after this she spoke continually about her wish to die, and asked to have in her own keeping the fresh supply of chloroform which had been at once procured, but yielded to my entreaty to be allowed to take charge of it, at least for the present.
It soon became evident that the only hope of immunity from intense and constant suffering, if not also from positive lung-disease, lay in flight to some less unfavourable conditions of climate. The wrench for us all was a severe one, for we were never so happy as at the vicarage, and it was an ideal place for study and work. She herself was so averse to leaving it that she was about to prepare for a few weeks only of absence. Being less sanguine, I prevailed on her to provide against all emergencies and prepare to pass the winter abroad. For I had in my mind the south of Italy as the climate most likely to suit her. We resolved, however, for the present, to make trial of Paris, first spending a few days with the Kenealys at Watford – a visit which she greatly enjoyed, and by which she was considerably benefited. Our next halting-place was Ostende, to make trial of sea-air, and also to respond in person to the following letter from Madame Blavatsky, to whom she had written in consequence of a communication from Lady Caithness: –
“VILLA NOVA, OSTENDE, Aug. 23, 1886.
“DEAR MRS. KINGSFORD, – I was expecting a letter from you, and it came. What I wrote to our dear Duchesse about you was six months ago, and my ideas of you since then have only gained in my sincere thankfulness and gratitude to you for what you have done for Mohini. He is with me for the last fortnight, and will stop here two or three weeks longer. He will not go to America, since there is ‘cats and dogs’ fight among the Theosophists there worse than in Europe. Ah! What an exemplar, our Society, for the world in general, and our enemies in particular! My dear Mrs. Kingsford, I cannot put on paper what I might say were I to see you face to face. I winter here, and therefore you will find me when you like. Only, if you would see me alone, better come toward the end of September, when the whole house will be at your disposal. In October I will have here Theosophists who do not feel, unfortunately, so friendly to you as Mohini and I do. Then I will answer any questions you may please to ask me. I am hard at work now,
for I am afraid not to be able to finish my Secret Doctrine if I wait long. Whatever it may be as a literary production, people will learn in it more than one new thing.
“Please convey my friendly regards to Mr. Maitland. – Wishing you health and success, and assuring you I have long ceased paying attention to any gossip – personal gossip – against me least of all, believe me, ever yours with genuine admiration,
Arrived at Ostende, we took up our quarters at an hotel, and when Mary had sufficiently recovered from the journey we made our intended call on Madame Blavatsky, who then had living with her a lady for whom we had high esteem, the Countess Wachtmeister. Here we found ourselves not only cordially welcomed, but overwhelmed with reproaches for having put up at an hotel instead of going straight to them, – a thing we had not for a moment contemplated doing. And Madame Blavatsky took it so seriously to heart as to show that our continued refusal would very deeply wound her. Our hesitation had no personal element in it, being solely for the sake of our work, which, in the then position of the Theosophical Society, was liable to be seriously prejudiced by association with it. My own sense of such risk was so keen that nothing but Mary’s determination to accept the invitation for herself finally induced me to consent. The reasons pleaded by her were these three: her unwillingness to wound further a fellow-woman – even if in fault – who was already smarting under great obloquy, and who would inevitably ascribe our refusal to our concurrence in the prejudice against her; her desire to enlist Madame Blavatsky’s influence with her followers on behalf of the anti-vivisection cause; and the promise that, if only she would come and stay in the house, she should see the Master, Mahatma Koot Hoomi. This last was a crowning inducement which she avowed herself quite unable to resist. So, finding her resolved, and being myself also exceedingly averse to paining “the Old Lady” – as she was familiarly styled by her adherents – and feeling, moreover, that I dare not let Mary be exposed alone and unshielded to the occult influences, at once powerful and hostile to us, with which we had reason to believe the Society to be associated, I at length yielded, having first ascertained that there would be no difficulty on the score of diet. In regard to which Madame Blavatsky assured us that, although her doctors insisted on her eating flesh, the
Countess was, like ourselves, a pure liver, and we should share her diet.
Our visit, which lasted three days – from October 5 to October 8 – proved most enjoyable. The hospitality and geniality of our hostesses were unbounded, and “the Old Lady” fully justified her reputation for the possession of knowledges in the highest degree recondite. But no Mahatma vouchsafed an appearance, nor did anything happen that was suggestive of occult powers, unless the following incident be so regarded: –
On the first evening, while “the Old Lady” was engaged, according to her invariable wont, in playing a game of “Patience” with cards, and conversing the while at one end of the table, the Countess occupied herself in divining, also with cards, at the other end; during the course of which she suddenly exclaimed, “Oh, Mrs. Kingsford, here is a divination which concerns you! The cards say that you will very shortly have a proposition made to you which may send you back forthwith to England and affect all your future life. And it will be made to you, as I read the cards, by two women. And it will be your duty to give serious heed to it.”
The divination in question had a rapid and accurate fulfilment; for on the very next day a proposition was made to her by Madame Blavatsky and the Countess themselves, that she should rejoin the Theosophical Society in the capacity of President of Madame Blavatsky’s own Lodge, the latter retiring in her favour. It was against herself personally, “the Old Lady” declared, that all the prejudice was directed, and Mary would disarm all opposition, and, by combining our work with theirs, would create a Theosophy which would really be universal, and be everywhere recognised as such. Meanwhile she, Madame Blavatsky, would keep herself in the background, only helping with her knowledges. For, as she expressed herself to Mary, “Though you are cleverer than I, I know more than you.”
We had no difficulty in arriving at a decision respecting this proposition. Much as we felt the need of a platform for the spread of our teaching, and admired the energy which marked the proceedings of the Theosophical Society, the acceptance of an offer which identified us with it and its chiefs would, we felt, be suicidal, for it would min us without saving them. And thus far, moreover, our avowed missions were wholly incompatible;
for, while our purpose was the restoration of the true, esoteric, and spiritual Christianity, theirs was the total subversion of Christianity itself. Nor were we favourably impressed by the method by which they had sought to predispose us to the acceptance of the proposition. For, as was now apparent, this was the real object of their insistence on our staying with them; and as the minds of both were full of the project, the “divination” of the previous evening was obviously nothing more than one of those tricks for which the Society had already acquired so evil a repute. We wondered what sort of persons they had been in the habit of dealing with who would be taken in by such a palpable device, and were disposed to resent the implied imputation on our own want of percipience.
No special illumination was vouchsafed to guide our decision, but we took the following experience as pointing in the same direction: – Being attacked by a bad fit of asthma one day while conversing with our hostesses, Mary begged for a whiff of chloroform to allay it, which she duly took, with the result desired, I meanwhile being somewhat uneasy as to what she might be prompted to say while under its influence. For she had never been lucid in the presence of anyone save myself. I therefore silently exerted my will to restrain injudicious utterance. The drug gave instant relief, at the same time inducing lucidity, when, speaking in her own person, she made some remarks in depreciation of “showing so much concern about a little pain – a thing in itself of no consequence.” Presently she complained of being oppressed by what seemed to be the lowness of the ceiling, which pressed upon her like a weight, preventing free utterance. “I see such curious and beautiful things,” she exclaimed to me, “which I want so much to tell you. But I cannot. There is something that holds me back. I am not allowed to speak. What can it be? It was never so with me before.” From this I gathered that, in accordance with my apprehension, the influences of the place and persons present were not of an order such as might participate in her revelations, the expression “lowness of the ceiling” having a mystical meaning denoting this.
Presently, changing the subject, she said –
“I see now that my projections in London against Pasteur were successful. They produced a decided effect of the kind
I intended. But they were the main cause of my own illness. They took from me my nervous force. But they were successful, however.”
Here I asked in an undertone, “But were they legitimate, supposing they caused the death of the patients?”
“Yes,” she replied in the same tone, but with much decision.
“The case was one in which the motive justified the action. They were quite lawful in such a cause. The patients who accept such a system share the guilt of those who practise it.”
The frankness which was one of “the Old Lady’s” greatest charms found full vent on the occasion of our visit. Speaking to me of her troubles in connection with the exposures of the Society for Psychical Research, she exclaimed of herself, “My dear Mr. Maitland, I am the biggest intellectual fool in the world.”
“Meaning,” I asked, “that you are one of those persons whom Tennyson had in his mind when he said, ‘Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers’?”
“Exactly so,” she replied. “With all my knowledge, I can’t get discretion. He must have meant me when he said that.” And she told Mary that what she wanted was someone to take care of her, as I did of her – Olcott was no good for that – and then she would never do the things which got her into trouble.
Our destination was Paris, where we were to pass a few days with Lady Caithness; but we had a double motive for lingering a while in Belgium. One was to give Mary time to recover somewhat from her low condition, and the other to give Lady Caithness the same chance; for she also was indisposed, and not equal to receiving us. Accordingly, on October 8 we left Ostende for Antwerp, having passed exactly three days with Madame Blavatsky and Wachtmeister. While under their roof we had been entirely free from molestation from occult influences. But on comparing notes on the morning after our first night at Antwerp, where we stayed at the Hotel St. Antoine, we found that we had both of us been assailed by nightmare dreams, hideous and distressing in the extreme, and of the order of which Mary had experience in 1884 after visiting Madame Blavatsky. (1) And the agencies so exactly resembled the “spooks” of the séance-room as to suggest that,
with all her denunciations of “spiritualism” and her claims to intercourse with beings so exalted as her “Mahatmas,” Madame Blavatsky was still infested by the entities encouraged by her in the days of her professional mediumship, which possessed the power and the disposition to inflict annoyance on those who were not in accord with her. It was to their influence over her that we were disposed to ascribe her own astonishing inconsequence and variability, and incapacity for recollecting things said or done by her even within the space of a few hours. (1) And it was doubtless to actual forgetfulness that were due her emphatic denials of facts laid to her charge and known to be true. She was as one alternately controlled by and controlling entities other than herself, even to reflecting, all-unconsciously to herself, the characters of those with whom she came into contact, to the utter suppression of her own personality, especially those who were possessed of a strong decided individuality. For these she would take on and reflect them to themselves so completely as to serve as a mirror in which, while fancying they saw her, they really saw themselves. Such want of continuity was necessarily a serious hindrance to the acquisition of a sense of responsibility, especially of the kind requisite to constitute her a veracious historian, whether in speech or in writing. And as this liability was shared by her associate, Madame Wachtmeister, who had been compelled to abandon the practice of mediumship on account of the exceedingly objectionable character of the manifestations of which, whenever she exercised her gift, she was the subject, it was not difficult to account for the curiously unhistorical character of the narrative which she subsequently published of our visit to them at Ostende. For in her little book, Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky and “The Secret Doctrine” published in 1893, our visit of three days was magnified into a fortnight, and instead of being paid in unwilling deference to their most earnest entreaties, was a charity bestowed on us on account of Mrs. Kingsford’s suffering from the discomforts of our hotel! No mention is made of the motive for the invitation, though a somewhat particular account is given of the conversations held, which conversations, however, it is declared, “soon drew to a close, for Mrs. Kingsford
became very ill, and was not able to leave her room, and Mr. Maitland thought it expedient to take her to a warmer climate, so one fine morning they started for Paris, and H.P. Blavatsky and I were once more alone” (p. 70).
Until the appearance of this book I had every respect for its writer, believing her to be a conscientious and veracious person, despite the limitations due to her temperament as a medium. And had these inaccuracies been my only cause of complaint against her, I should have written nothing of her here which might be detrimental to her, but contented myself with simply stating the facts as they occurred. But what came to my knowledge subsequently entirely absolved me from any obligation to reticence, and made it my paramount duty, for our work’s sake and our own, to discard all such considerations. This was the practice in which Madame Wachtmeister indulged of systematically depreciating my colleague, especially by alleging that in respect of diet she did not practise what she preached, and was no consistent opponent of cruelty to animals. It was not only in loose conversation that she said these things, but in writing, and it is from letters of hers which were placed in my hands by the greatly shocked recipient of them – herself an ardent friend of Mary’s – that I quote the following: –
“THEOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING SOCIETY, DUKE STREET, ADELPHI,
“September 29, 1892.
(...) “Anna Kingsford was not a vegetarian, so you see she could not deprecate the torturing of animals both before and at the slaughtering-houses, for she was inconsistent both in teaching and policy.”
This elicited from the recipient a reply, to which the following response was made: –
“October 10, 1892.
“You seem to be as surprised to hear that Mrs. Kingsford was no vegetarian as I was myself when she and Mr. Maitland begged of me to provide both fish, poultry, and birds during the time that they were the guests of Mme. B. and myself at Ostende. The first evening there was only vegetarian food such as I eat myself, but during the fortnight they stayed with us I, of course, provided the food Mrs. Kingsford told me she was accustomed to eat. You may be sure that I would not have mentioned such a thing if I had not had personal experience of it.
“I do not oppose anybody eating meat, and for some I think it absolutely necessary; but I like the old adage of ‘Practise what you preach.’ – Yours very sincerely,
What actually happened on “the first evening” was that, on a special tray of flesh-food being brought in for Madame Blavatsky, she renewed the expression of her regrets at her inability to live as we and the Countess lived, and the only thing that I “begged” for was that she would say nothing about it, as we fully understood the compulsion under which she acted. The spirit in her was willing; it was only the flesh that was weak.
As soon as I was aware of the misstatements of Madame Wachtmeister as to the motive and duration of our visit, I sent to the Theosophical Society magazine, Lucifer, the correction which appeared February 1894, p. 517. The other and far more serious misstatement only came to my knowledge in consequence of that correction, through the recipient of Madame Wachtmeister’s letters taking heart on finding how mistaken she had been in those respects, and hoping to learn from me that she had been equally wrong in the others. For the friend was one to whom Mary’s character for consistency and integrity was very dear. How far the calumny spread, and what the injury done by it to our reputation and work, I have no means of judging. I must content myself with adding in this connection that the want of veraciousness shown by Madame Wachtmeister in regard to us has been such as to entirely discredit her for me as a witness on behalf of Madame Blavatsky, and has suggested an explanation of the extraordinary difficulty which has been found in ascertaining the truth concerning the origins and methods of the Theosophical Society, and this despite its motto, “There is no religion higher than Truth.” That explanation is, that its originating and controlling influences are better represented by the term “mediumistic controls” than by the term “Mahatmas.” In this view, its abounding irreconcilable incoherences and contradictions are tokens, not of any deliberate, conscious defect of moral sense on the part of the parties to them, but of the obscuration of such sense through the practice of mediumship, which involves the substitution of other and irresponsible entities as the controlling agents. And such is precisely the explanation since rendered by the Founder-President himself, Colonel Olcott, of the events to which the more recent crises in the Society were due. As will be seen by our subsequent intercourse with Madame Blavatsky, she herself made no manner
of charge against us on the score alleged by her associate, Madame Wachtmeister, but showed herself to be at bottom the possessor of a large, noble, and frank nature, full of warm sympathies and impulses, and quite incapable of being a party to the malignant inventions propagated by her associate, Madame Wachtmeister.
From Antwerp we visited Bruges, Ghent, and other places of interest, and then Brussels, whence Mary wrote the following letter: –
“HOTEL DU GRAND MIRROIR, BRUSSELS,
“October 12 .
“DEAREST LADY CAITHNESS, – I am so very grieved to hear of your suffering. I know well how distracting a thing facial neuralgia is, having suffered from it terribly myself, both at Atcham and Ostende, where I had to go to bed in consequence and put on hot poultices. We shall remain here until we hear from you; and as I told my husband to forward letters, etc., to your care, perhaps you will keep them until we call for them, which we will do at once, if we do not become your guests. Pray do not think of undergoing any inconvenience if not well enough to receive us, for we can easily find shelter elsewhere. Miss D. will take me in. While at Ostende we stayed nearly three days with Madame Blavatsky, at her urgent request. She was very genial and hospitable, and we got on to get her admirably. She is hard at work on The Secret Doctrine, which promises to be a larger book than even Isis. I trust most earnestly to see a letter in your own handwriting in a day or two announcing your recovery from the sad pain you have been so long enduring. How is it you did not mention to us before this that you were suffering? We should not then have ventured to think of trespassing on you. – Yours always most affectionately,
A conversation with Madame Blavatsky concerning the mystery of “Satan” reminded Mary that the revelation received by her of the genesis and functions of the Principle thus designated by the Hebrews – the date of which was Paris, November 12, 1878 – was but partial, being for our own immediate instruction, and left over for completion at some future time. The reason for the postponement was explained to us as being twofold. It was the profoundest of sacred mysteries, and could not be apprehended until the initiate had reached a stage in his spiritual unfoldment far in advance of that at which we then were; and we were not, on any account, to put it before the world until expressly permitted to do so. At this time the Second Edition of The Perfect Way was actually in the press, and our part in preparing it was accomplished, unless fresh
matter were imparted to be included in it. This came at the last moment, and the next entry in Mary’s Diary, which was dated Paris, October 21, 1886, recorded the commencement of the redelivery and completion of it.
We were staying with Lady Caithness at the time, who had happily recovered sufficiently to be able to receive us; but Mary was prostrate with weakness and pain, and confined to her room. Such were the conditions under which she received the stupendous revelation entitled “The Secret of Satan,” which now, for the first time in the world’s history, was to be promulgated to the world, instead of being, as formerly, rigidly reserved for initiates of the highest grade. It proved to be the last that she was to receive of the first order, and, owing probably to the effect of pain on her perceptive faculties, she was able to receive it without quitting the waking state. Her faculty had been perfected by suffering. There was no open or personal vision, as on the former occasion. Then the illuminating Spirit had manifested himself in the form of the “First of the Holy Seven,” the Spirit of Wisdom, in his Greek aspect as Phoibos Apollo, because only by the First of the Gods might the stupendous mystery of the Last of the Gods be disclosed. Now it was projected into her consciousness bit by bit as she was able to receive and recognise it while we sat together in her own room, she occasionally appealing to me to know whether I, too, recognised its truth; for, as must be remembered, that which was being imparted was a most essential part of the New Gospel of Interpretation, and Interpretation presupposes comprehension. Only once did she falter, and then but for a moment. It was when the sense rushed on her of the immensity of the remove it represented from the traditional belief of the world in all ages. “Don’t you think,” she almost gasped out, “that there must be some element of evil in Satan?” To which I responded by asking, “How can there be, if he is – as he must necessarily be – a mode of functioning of God’s own self in creation?” Upon which she exclaimed, “Of course! Of course! But how hard it is to disentangle oneself entirely from the old ingrained misbeliefs!”
Under the stimulus of this fresh illumination she rallied somewhat, but only to relapse into yet deeper depths of suffering, the neuralgia having extended from the sciatic and facial nerves
over the whole system. On the 26th, notwithstanding her terror of doctors, she consented to see one who chanced to be calling on Lady Caithness, and who, being a noted magnetiser, was likely to be guiltless of orthodox malpractices. He, however, on seeing her, pronounced the case too serious for magnetism, and declared that it would yield only to le fer rouge – cautery with a red-hot iron. She had seen too much, both of the cruelty and of the inefficacy of this practice in the hospitals, to give her consent, but she allowed herself to be persuaded into taking an injection of laudanum. This was followed by an access of pain so intense that, being frantic, she implored me to give her poison. She consented, however, to try chloroform again, when, the malady proving obstinate beyond all previous precedent, it was necessary to produce a more profound anaesthesia to subdue the suffering. It was 6.30 P.M. when I commenced to administer it; and at 4 A.M., after being all those hours more or less under the influence of the drug, she fell into a natural and quiet sleep, which lasted for three hours, I maintaining my place beside her and keeping watch on the pulse. During this interval the following took place: –
A voice came from her, not her own, for her lips did not move; nor was it that of the “Astral” who before had spoken from her. (1) For it was soft, tender, and angelic in the depth of its sympathy.
“Poor, poor child,” it said, “her suffering is indeed terrible in the extreme. Do not let her wake; she cannot bear it. It is Their supreme moment. They have tried to force her to suicide.”
“And who are ‘They’?” I asked.
“Her former selves. None of them lived beyond forty. They cannot understand her doing so, and are determined she shall not live longer. This is the crisis of her life, and Their supreme attempt.”
I wanted to know who and what the speaker was, but the voice ceased here, and the rest that was imparted to me was by direct mental impression. It was to the effect that in such measure as she survived this crisis she would escape further molestation from this group of her former selves, and be free
from the impulses and suggestions which had caused us such sore anxiety and distress; and every month she lived beyond that age would detach her more and more from the sphere of their influence, and mend her soul’s record generally.
I was profoundly sensible of the strangeness and importance of these experiences, and wondered whether they were unique, and if it was the first time that any person had been known to speak from each of the two planes, the astral and the celestial – as I firmly held the latter to be – the one denying and the other affirming the doctrine of Reincarnation. The statement that none of her former selves had passed the age of forty suggested a solution, entirely satisfactory, of a problem which had long perplexed me. Her gifts and characteristics had, from the first, struck me as those of a young soul, brilliant and vigorous, but without the maturing and mellowing influence of age. But, on the other hand, she had been declared to be an “old, old spirit, many thousands of years my senior, and of vast antiquity and experience.” (1) How to reconcile this seeming discrepancy? The light just received did it. She was old by reason of her having had a vast number of incarnations spread over a vast period of time; but she was young, because she had never lived to be old in any of them, but had early come to an end through the wilfulness and impetuosity of her disposition, which had led her into courses which cut short her career. Hence each fresh life had served but to accentuate and reinforce her youthfulness, and, instead of ministering to maturity and the qualities which come only of maturity, had resulted in her contracting a habit of early and violent deaths, with the accompanying liability to become reincarnate after abnormally brief intervals. Hence, too, her total lack of fear of death; as she had once remarked to me long before either of us had any idea of the possibility involved, “she seemed to be so used to dying as to have no fear of it.”
Having so many evidences of the separateness of the principles composing her system, and also of their personality, it occurred to me to wonder, in the event of her death and the continuance of her intercourse with me, in which of her personalities she would return.
The following day was passed in tolerable ease, but towards evening sickness came on, which she ascribed partly to the laudanum – which, she said, never agreed with her, and she would not have taken, had she been fully herself when the doctor proposed it – and mostly to the combination with it of the chloroform. The incompatibility of the two drugs with each other she had forgotten in her trouble, and I was unaware of it. The night was a terrible one from this cause, and in the morning she said to me in the positive tone of one who had sure information, “I shall die to-night.”
Deeming this another device of the “former selves,” whose power I believed to be on the wane, I did not let the utterance disturb me, and sought to impart my confidence to her. But as the day passed without any abatement, the sickness proving incoercible by any means employed, and I apprehended a collapse, I begged her to allow me to summon an English physician, Dr. Herbert, pleading the difficulty I should have in satisfying her relatives in the event of her dying without my calling in a doctor.
The plea prevailed, but not without her chiding me for unkindness in wishing to prolong her life. To my dismay, the doctor was dining out, and would not receive the summons until he returned home, when it would be midnight. The case seemed desperate so far as physical means were concerned. The only relief was obtained by my passing my hands with light contact slowly downwards over the front of her body in mesmeric fashion, at the same time forcibly directing my will, with the twofold intent of allaying the internal irritation and expelling or neutralising any hostile influences that might be obsessing her. Meanwhile the pulse became so alarmingly feeble that her passing away seemed imminent. She herself said that life was ebbing, so death-like was the feeling of faintness; and she seemed rather to triumph at the prospect of the fulfilment of her prophecy of the morning.
Nevertheless I at no time despaired, nor had I any half-thought in the matter. My conviction was absolute that it was best both for herself and for her work that she should live, and I believed that, however strongly set as the natural lines of her destiny might be towards dying at that time, it lay within my power to reverse that destiny and override fate, and compel
her retention in life, and possibly her restoration to health. It was, I felt, a conflict between the astral and the celestial, to be victor in which it was needful only for me so to polarise of my will to the latter as to unite it with that of the Highest.
Thus attuning my inward self, I reinforced my outward self, which greatly needed it, by swallowing a glass of the champagne which had been thoughtfully sent in for her by our hostess as a possible remedy, and half sitting, half kneeling, on a hassock beside the bed – a position which I felt I could maintain for an indefinite time – I grasped firmly her right hand in both my hands and sought to project all my magnetism into her system. To my surprise and delight, the effect began to show itself almost immediately. She lay perfectly still, without any recurrence of the spasms which until then had been rending her, neither fainting nor asleep, but apparently at absolute rest, while the pulse, upon which I steadfastly kept a finger, reappeared and gradually gained, both in frequency and volume, and her temperature became assimilated to my own. By all of which symptoms I knew that a vital rapport had been established between us, making us virtually one system in respect of the identity of our nervous currents. At length sleep crept over her, deep and restful, and such that, if it could be maintained long enough, she was surely saved. She slept thus for three hours, I retaining my position unchanged; and though never ceasing actively to infuse my force into her, without my feeling a particle of diminution of force, which greatly surprised me; until, on analysing my sensations, I found that I myself was being actively reinforced by influences other than my own who had gathered round and were supplying my need as I required it, using me as a channel of healing power. And so it came that, when at length the doctor arrived and was holding conference with our hostess, I was able to join them, and announce the good news of my patient’s safety.
The doctor fully confirmed my judgment. He was greatly surprised, after what he had been told, to find her pulse so strong, and herself able to converse with him. He prescribed simply an occasional draught of strong lemonade and soda – “potion de Riviere” – to be taken as the sickness threatened to recur, and left, promising to call in the morning. Meanwhile, though admitting the change for the better, she was so fixed in the
belief that her time had come, and in the desire to die, that she repeated her prophecy of the morning, saying, “I said I should die tonight, and I shall all the same, though I feel better just now”; to which, knowing the danger of such a conviction, and confident that she was saved, I replied with vivacity that she would do nothing of the kind; for the enemy had been baffled, and would now leave her in peace. I still maintained my watch, passing the rest of the night on a sofa in her room. And in the early morning she said, on waking from a good sleep, “What you have done to me I don’t know, but you have saved my life”; and then, glancing at her hand, she exclaimed, “What an extraordinary thing! You know that my ‘line of life’ which used to be so long, has lately been gradually disappearing, until it had stopped short at the point which indicated my death to be due at this very time. Well, it has suddenly reappeared beyond that point, showing that I am to have another term of life, perhaps of years.”
Dr. Herbert came three times in all, but his only further recommendation was inhalation of oxygen, which she tried, but with inappreciable results. She continued to mend steadily, but remained for some days dazed and bewildered, feeling, she said, as if she had no right to be alive, and that there was no more any work or place for her on the earth.
The suggestions whereby her “former selves” had sought to induce her to put an end to herself were curiously insidious. They assured her not only that she could do no good work after the age of forty, as she would not be attended to after the loss of her youth and beauty, but that the world is not yet ripe for her teaching, and that by committing suicide she would become reincarnate much