The Theosophical Society in America

Esoteric World Chapter 6

Chapter 6

The Founding of The Theosophical Society and The Writing of Isis Unveiled: September 1875–September 1877

On September 7, 1875, Blavatsky, Olcott, and Judge, together with several others, founded a society that they chose to call "The Theosophical Society," as promulgating the ancient teachings of Theosophy, or the Wisdom concerning the Divine which had been the spiritual basis of other great movements of the past, such as Neo-Platonism, Gnosticism, and the Mystery Schools of the Classical world. The Inaugural Address by the President-Founder, Colonel Olcott, was delivered on November 17, 1875, which is therefore considered to be the official date of the founding of the Society. Starting from a generalized statement of objectives, namely, "to collect and diffuse a knowledge of the laws which govern the Universe," the Founders soon expressed them more specifically. After several minor changes in wording, the Objects stand today as follows:

  1. To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color.
  2. To encourage the comparative study of religion, philosophy, and science.
  3. To investigate unexplained laws of nature, and the powers latent in humanity.
6a. Henry S. Olcott, Sept.–Nov., 1875, New York City [Collated from Olcott, "First Leaf" 65–66, 67–70, and Olcott, Historical Retrospect 2–3]

[On September 7, 1875,] a group of ladies and gentlemen agreed, upon my motion, to form a body, which became in due course the Theosophical Society. The meeting was an informal gathering of friends and acquaintances in Madame Blavatsky's parlour [at 46, Irving Place], to listen to Mr. George H. Felt's explanation of a certain alleged discovery by him of the Lost Canon of Proportion [of the Egyptians] by use of which the peerless architects of [Egypt and] Greece had built their temples and forums. His lecture, illustrated by a set of very fine colored drawings, was tenfold heightened in interest by his assertion that he had not only found, on reading the hieroglyphs, that the elemental spirits were largely used in the [Egyptian] temple mysteries, but he had even deciphered the mantrams by which they were subjugated, had practically tested them, and found them efficacious. In the company present were several old Spiritualists, myself included, of open mind, who were ready and willing to investigate this subject. As for myself, I had acquired a full conviction of [the] existence [of elemental spirits] and of the power of man to subjugate them, from seeing many phenomena produced by Madame Blavatsky. I had also come to know of the existence of initiated magical adepts in Egypt, India, and certain other parts of the world. The chance, therefore, of being able, with Mr. Felt's help and without dragging in the names of either of my Teachers, to throw such a flood of light upon the problem of psychical phenomena at once suggested itself to my mind; so I wrote on a slip of paper a line or two asking HPB if she thought it a good idea to propose the formation of such a Society, got Mr. Judge to pass it over to her to the opposite side of the room, and, upon her nodding assent, rose and, after making some remarks about the lecture and lecturer, asked if the company present would join me in organizing a society of research in the department covered by Mr. Felt’s alleged discovery. I dwelt upon the materialistic tendencies of the age and the desire of mankind to get absolute proof of immortality; pointing to the enormous spread of the spiritualistic movement as the best evidence of the fact, and hinting at the possibility of our being helped in our philanthropic work by the Teachers, from whom HPB. had learned what she knew, if we seriously and unselfishly set ourselves to study.

My views as to the necessity of such a society receiving general assent, a motion was made by Mr. Judge and adopted that I be elected chairman of the meeting, and on my motion Mr. Judge was elected secretary. A committee to frame Bye-laws was chosen. An adjourned meeting was held on the [8th] and another on the [13th of] September following, at which latter, the Bye-laws Committee reported progress, and the name of "The Theosophical Society" was adopted. Other meetings were held on the 16th and 30th October, at which the Bye-Laws were considered and adopted, subject of final revision: at a final meeting, on the 17th November, they were formally adopted as revised, the President delivered his Inaugural Address, and the Society was launched as a perfected organization. The officers had been elected at the meeting of October 30th, and were:

  • President: H. S. Olcott;
  • Vice-Presidents: Dr. S. Pancoast and G. H. Felt;
  • Corresponding Secretary: H. P. Blavatsky;
  • Recording Secretary: John Storer Cobb;
  • Treasurer: H. J. Newton;
  • Librarian: Charles Sotheran;
  • Councillors: Rev. J. H. Wiggin, R. B. Westbrook, Emma Hardinge Britten, Dr. C. E. Simmons, Herbert D. Monachesi;
  • Counsel to the Society: W. Q. Judge, H. S. Olcott;
  • Vice-Presidents: Dr. S. Pancoast and G. H. Felt;
  • Corresponding Secretary: H. P. Blavatsky;
  • Recording Secretary: John Storer Cobb;
  • Treasurer: H. J. Newton;
  • Librarian: Charles Sotheran;
  • Councillors: Rev. J. H. Wiggin, R. B. Westbrook, Emma Hardinge Britten, Dr. C. E. Simmons, Herbert D. Monachesi;
  • Counsel to the Society: W. Q. Judge.

The originally declared objects of the Theosophical Society were the study of occult science and esoteric philosophy, in theory and practice, and the popularization of the facts throughout the world. The original Preamble says: "(the Founders) hope that by going deeper than modern science has hitherto done into the Esoteric philosophies of ancient times, they may be enabled to attain for themselves and other investigators proof of the existence of an ‘Unseen Universe,’ the nature of its inhabitants, if such there be, and the laws which govern them and their relations with mankind." In a word, our hope was to acquire this occult knowledge with the aid of Mr. Felt and HPB. That our ideas were eclectic and nonsectarian is clearly shown in the second paragraph of our Preamble:

    Whatever may be the private opinions of its members, the Society has no dogmas to inforce, no creed to disseminate. It is formed neither as a Spiritualistic schism, nor to serve as the foe or friend of any sectarian or philosophic body. Its only axiom is the omnipotence of truth, its only creed a profession of unqualified devotion to its discovery and propagation. In considering the qualifications of applicants for membership, it knows neither race, sex, color, country, nor creed.

    Our first bitter disappointment was the failure of Mr. Felt to fulfil his promises. With difficulty I got him to give one or two more lectures, but he never showed us so much as the wag of the tail of a vanishing elemental. HPB, then working night and day upon her first book, Isis Unveiled, soon refused to even attend our meetings, let alone do so much at them as make the smallest phenomenon—though she was continually astounding her visitors with them at her own house.

The above is a plain, unvarnished narrative of the beginnings of the Theosophical Society as it appears from the outside. I got no "order" to make the Society. The provocation of the suggestion lay in my long-felt and practical interest in psychical science, now fanned into a hot flame by HPB’s phenomena, my fresh contact with Eastern adepts, and the apparently easy means of contributing enormously, with Mr. Felt’s help and HPB's participation, to the current knowledge of the astral world and its races. The idea sprang up in my mind as naturally and spontaneously as possible, as such ideas do usually occur in one’s every-day experience. But a deeper problem lies back of this mental fact. Did the thought of forming the Theosophical Society, really spring from my own brain, or was it put there ab extra, by some master of thought transference?

[In a note dated July, 1875, in her scrapbook HPB writes: "Orders received from India direct to establish a philosophico-religious Society and choose a name for it—also to choose Olcott." And in another note from the same scrapbook HPB specifically states: "M[orya] brings orders to form a Society—a secret Society like the Rosicrucian Lodge. He promises to help" (Blavatsky, Collected Writings 1:94, 73). —DHC]

6b. Henry S. Olcott, Summer 1875–Sept. 1877, New York City [Olcott, Old Diary Leaves 1: 202–4, 205, 208–12, 236–7, 243–7]

One day in the summer of 1875, HPB showed me some sheets of manuscript which she had written, and said: "I wrote this last night ‘by order,’ but what the deuce it is to be I don’t know. Perhaps it is for a newspaper article, perhaps for a book, perhaps for nothing: anyhow, I did as I was ordered." And she put it away in a drawer, and nothing more was said about it for some time. But in the month of September she went on a visit to her new friends, Professor and Mrs. Corson, of Cornell University, and the work went on. She wrote me that it was to be a book on the history and philosophy of the Eastern Schools and their relations with those of our times. She said she was writing about things she had never studied and making quotations from books she had never read in all her life: that, to test her accuracy, Prof. Corson had compared her quotations with classical works in the University Library, and had found her to be right. Upon her return to town, she was not very industrious in this affair, but wrote only spasmodically, but a month or two after the formation of the Theosophical Society, she and I took two suites of rooms at 433 West 34th St., she on the first and I on the second floor, and henceforward the writing of Isis went on without break or interruption until its completion in the year 1877.

In her whole life she had not done a tithe of such literary labor, yet I never knew even a managing daily journalist who could be compared with her for dogged endurance or tireless working capacity. From morning till night she would be at her desk, and it was seldom that either of us got to bed before 2 o'clock am. During the daytime I had my professional duties to attend to, but always after an early dinner we would settle down together to our big writing table and work, as if for dear life, until bodily fatigue would compel us to stop. What an experience!

She worked on no fixed plan, but ideas came streaming through her mind like a perennial spring which is ever overflowing its brim. Higgledy-piggledy it came, in a ceaseless rivulet, each paragraph complete in itself and capable of being excised without harm to its predecessor or successor.

Her own manuscript was often a sight to behold: cut and patched, re-cut and re-pasted, until if one held a page of it to the light, it would be seen to consist of, perhaps, six, or eight, or ten slips cut from other pages, pasted together, and the text joined by interlined words or sentences.

I corrected every page of her manuscript several times, and every page of the proofs; wrote many paragraphs for her, often merely embodying her ideas that she could not then frame to her liking in English; helped her to find out quotations, and did other purely auxiliary work: the book is hers alone, so far as personalities on this plane of manifestation are concerned, and she must take all the praise and the blame that it deserves. Then, whence did HPB draw the materials which compose Isis, and which cannot be traced to accessible literary sources of quotation? From the Astral Light, and by her soul-senses, from her Teachers—the "Brothers," "Adepts," "Sages," "Masters," as they have been variously called. How do I know it? By working two years with her on Isis and many more years on other literary work.

To watch her at work was a rare and never-to-be-forgotten experience. We sat at opposite sides of one big table usually, and I could see her every movement. Her pen would be flying over the page, when she would suddenly stop, look out into space with the vacant eye of the clairvoyant seer, shorten her vision as though to look at something held invisible in the air before her, and begin copying on her paper what she saw. The quotation finished, her eyes would resume their natural expression, and she would go on writing until again stopped by a similar interruption. I remember well two instances when I, also, was able to see and even handle books from whose astral duplicates she copied quotations into her manuscript, and which she was obliged to "materialize" for me, to refer to when reading the proofs, as I refused to pass the pages for the "strike-off" unless my doubts as to the accuracy of her copy were satisfactory. It was when we were living at 302 West 47th Street—the once-famous "Lamasery," and the executive headquarters of the Theosophical Society. I said: "I cannot pass this quotation, for I am sure it cannot read as you have it." She said: "Oh don't bother; it's right; let it pass." I refused, until finally she said: "Well, keep still a minute and I'll try to get it." The far-away look came into her eyes, and presently she pointed to a far corner of the room, to an etagere on which were kept some curios, and in a hollow voice said: "There!" and then came to herself again. "There, there; go look for it over there!" I went, and found the two volumes wanted, which, to my knowledge, had not been in the house until that very moment. I compared the text with HPB’s quotation, showed her that I was right in my suspicions as to the error, made the proof correction and then, at her request, returned the two volumes to the place on the etagere from which I had taken them. I resumed my seat and work, and when, after awhile, I looked again in that direction, the books had disappeared! After my telling this (absolutely true) story, ignorant skeptics are free to doubt my sanity; I hope it may do them good. The same thing happened in the case of the apport of the other book, but this one remained, and is in our possession at the present time.

The "copy" turned off  by HPB presented the most marked dissemblances at different times. While the handwriting bore one peculiar character throughout, so that one familiar with her writing would always be able to detect any given page as HPB’s, yet, when examined carefully, one discovered at least three or four variations of the one style, and each of these persistent for pages together, when it would give place to some other of the calligraphic variants. The style which had been running through the work of, perhaps, a whole evening or half an evening would suddenly give place to one of the other styles which would, in its turn, run through the rest of an evening. One of these HPB handwritings was very small, but plain; one bold and free; another plain, of medium size, and very legible; and one scratchy and hard to read, with its queer, foreign-shaped a’s and x’s and e’s. There was also the greatest possible difference in the English of these various styles. Sometimes I would have to make several corrections in each line, while at others I could pass many pages with scarcely a fault of idiom or spelling to correct. Most perfect of all were the manuscripts which were written for her while she was sleeping. The beginning of the chapter on the civilization of Ancient Egypt [1:14] is an illustration. We had stopped work the evening before at about 2 am as usual, both too tired to stop for our usual smoke and chat before parting; she almost fell asleep in her chair while I was bidding her good-night, so I hurried off to my bedroom. The next morning, when I came down after my breakfast, she showed me a pile of at least thirty or forty pages of beautifully written HPB manuscript, which, she said, she had had written for her by—well, a Master, whose name has never yet been degraded like some others. It was perfect in every respect, and went to the printers without revision.

Now it was a curious fact that each change in the HPB manuscript would be preceded, either by her leaving the room for a moment or two, or by her going off into the trance or abstracted state, when her lifeless eyes would be looking beyond me into space, as it were, and returning to the normal state almost immediately. And there would also be a distinct change of personality, or rather personal peculiarities, in gait, vocal expression, vivacity of manner, and, above all, in temper.

HPB would leave the room one person and return to it another. Not another as to visible change of physical body, but another as to tricks of motion, speech, and manners; with different mental brightness, different views of things, different command of English orthography, idiom, and grammar, and different—very, very different command over her temper, which, at its sunniest, was almost angelic, at its worst, the opposite.

Did she write Isis in the capacity of an ordinary spiritual medium? I answer, Assuredly not. I have known mediums of all sorts—speaking, trance, writing, phenomena-making, medical, clairvoyant, and materializing, have seen them at work, attended their seances, and observed the signs of their obsession and possession. HPB’s case resembled none of them. Nearly all they did she could do; but at her own will and pleasure, by day or by night, without forming "circles," choosing the witnesses, or imposing the usual conditions. Then, again, I had ocular proof that at least some of those who worked with us were living men, from having seen them in the flesh in India after having seen them in the astral body in America and Europe, from having touched and talked with them.

One of these alter egos of hers, one whom I have since personally met, wears a full beard and long moustache that are twisted, Rajput fashion, into his side whiskers. He has the habit of constantly pulling at his moustache when deeply pondering: he does it mechanically and unconsciously. Well, there were times when HPB’s personality had melted away and she was "Somebody else" when I would sit and watch her hand as if pulling at and twisting a moustache that certainly was not growing visibly on HPB’s upper lip, and the far-away look would be in the eyes, until presently resuming attention of passing things, the moustached Somebody would look up, catch me watching him, hastily remove the hand from the face, and go on with the work of writing. Then there was another Somebody, who disliked English so much that he never willingly talked with me in anything but French: he had a fine artistic talent and a passionate fondness for mechanical invention. Another one would now and then sit there, scrawling something with a pencil and reeling off for me dozens of poetical stanzas which embodied, now sublime, now humorous ideas. So each of the several Somebodies had his peculiarities distinctly marked, as recognizable as those of any of our ordinary acquaintances or friends. One was jovial, fond of good stories and witty to a degree; another, all dignity, reserve, and erudition. One would be calm, patient, and benevolently helpful; another testy and sometimes exasperating. One Somebody would always be willing to emphasize his philosophical or scientific explanations of the subjects I was to write upon, by doing phenomena for my edification, while to another Somebody I dared not even mention them. I got an awful rebuke one evening. I had brought home a while before two nice, soft pencils, just the thing for our desk work, and had given one to HPB and kept one myself. She had the very bad habit of borrowing penknives, pencils, and other articles of stationery and forgetting to return them: once put into her drawer or writing desk, there they would stay, no matter how much of a protest you might make over it. On this particular evening, the artistic Somebody was sketching on a sheet of common paper and chatting with me about something, when he asked me to lend him another pencil. The thought flashed into my mind, "If I once lend this nice pencil it will go into her drawer and I shall have none for my own use." I did not say this, I only thought it, but the Somebody gave me a mildly sarcastic look, reached out to the pen tray between us, laid his pencil in it, handled it with his fingers of that hand for a moment, and lo! a dozen pencils of the identical make and quality! He said not a word, did not even give me a look, but the blood rushed to my temples and I felt more humble than I ever did in my life. All the same, I scarcely think I deserved the rebuke, considering what a stationery-annexer HPB was!

Now when either of these Somebodies was "on guard," as I used to term it, the HPB manuscript would present the identical peculiarities that it had on the last occasion when he had taken his turn at the literary work. If you had given me in those days any page of Isis manuscript, I could almost certainly have told you by which Somebody it had been written. Where, then, was HPB’s self at those times of replacement? As I understood it, she herself had loaned her body as one might one’s typewriter, and had gone off on other occult business that she could transact in her astral body; a certain group of Adepts occupying and maneuvering the body by turns. When they knew that I could distinguish between them, so as to even have invented a name for each by which HPB and I might designate them in our conversation in their absence, they would frequently give me a grave bow or a friendly farewell nod when about to leave the room and give place to the next relief-guard. And they would sometimes talk to me of each other, as friends do about absent third parties, by which means I came to know bits of their several personal histories, and would also speak about the absent HPB, distinguishing her from the physical body they had borrowed from her.

[In a letter to her sister Vera, Madame Blavatsky writes: "Someone comes and envelops me as a misty cloud and all at once pushes me out of myself, and then I am not ‘I’ any more—Helena Petrovna Blavatsky—but someone else. Someone strong and powerful, born in a totally different region of the world: and as to myself it is almost as if I were asleep or lying by, not quite conscious, not in my own body but close by, held only by a thread which ties me to it. However, at times I see and hear everything quite clearly: I am perfectly conscious of what my body is saying and doing—or at least its new possessor. I even understand and remember it all so well that afterwards I can repeat it and even write down his words. At such a time I see awe and fear on the faces of Olcott and others and follow with interest the way in which he half-pityingly regards them out of my own eyes and teaches them with my physical tongue. Yet not with my mind but his own, which enwraps my brain like a cloud" (The Path, Dec. 1894, 266). For more on this subject, consult Geoffrey A. Barborka’s H. P. Blavatsky, Tibet, and Tulku (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1966). —DHC]

6c. Alexander Wilder, Autumn 1876–Sept. 1877, New York City [Wilder]

In the autumn of 1876 I had been editing several publications for Mr. J. W. Bouton, a bookseller in New York. Other engagements and associations had been laid aside.

On a pleasant afternoon I was alone in the house. The bell was rung, and I answered at the door. Colonel Henry S. Olcott was there with an errand to myself. He had been referred to me by Mr. Bouton. Madame Blavatsky had compiled a work upon occult and philosophic subjects, and Mr. Bouton had been asked in relation to undertaking its publication. Mr. Bouton meant that I should examine the work, and I agreed to undertake the task.

It was truly a ponderous document and displayed research in a very extended field. In my report to [Mr. Bouton], I stated that the manuscript was the product of great research, and that so far as related to current thinking, there was a revolution in it, but I added that I deemed it too long for remunerative publishing.

Mr. Bouton, however, presently agreed to publish the work. He placed the manuscript again in my hands, with instructions to shorten it as much as it would bear. This was a discretionary power that was far from agreeable. It can hardly be fair that a person acting solely in behalf of the publisher should have such authority over the work of an author. Nevertheless, I undertook the task. While abridging the work, I endeavored in every instance to preserve the thought of the author in plain language, removing only such terms and matter as might be regarded as superfluous and not necessary to the main purpose. In this way, enough was taken out to fill a volume of respectable dimensions.

Colonel Olcott was very desirous that I should become acquainted with Madame Blavatsky. He appeared to hold her in high regard, closely approaching to veneration, and to consider the opportunity to know her a rare favor for any one. I was hardly able to share his enthusiasm. Having a natural diffidence about making new acquaintances, and acting as a critic upon her manuscript, I hesitated for a long time. Finally, however, these considerations were passed over and I accompanied him to their establishment in Forty-seventh Street.

It was a "flat," that unhomelike fashion of abode that now extends over populous cities, superseding the household and family relationship wherever it prevails. The building where they lived had been "transmogrified" for such purposes, and they occupied a suite of apartments on an upper floor. The household in this case comprised several individuals, with separate employments. They generally met at meal-time, together with such guests from elsewhere as might happen to be making a visit.

The study in which Madame Blavatsky lived and worked was arranged after a quaint and very primitive manner. It was a large front room and, being on the side next the street, was well lighted. In the midst of this was her "den," a spot fenced off on three sides by temporary partitions, writing desk, and shelves for books. She had it as convenient as it was unique. She had but to reach out an arm to get a book, paper, or other article that she might desire that was within the enclosure. In this place Madame Blavatsky reigned supreme, gave her orders, issued her judgments, conducted her correspondence, received her visitors, and produced the manuscript of her book.

She did not resemble in manner or figure what I had been led to expect. She was tall, but not strapping; her countenance bore the marks and exhibited the characteristics of one who had seen much, thought much, traveled much, and experienced much. Her appearance was certainly impressive, but in no respect was she coarse, awkward, or ill-bred. On the other hand she exhibited culture, familiarity with the manners of the most courtly society, and genuine courtesy itself. She expressed her opinions with boldness and decision, but not obtrusively. It was easy to perceive that she had not been kept within the circumscribed limitations of a common female education; she knew a vast variety of topics and could discourse freely upon them.

I have heard tell of her profession of superhuman powers and of extraordinary occurrences that would be termed miraculous. I, too, believe, like Hamlet, that there are more things in heaven and earth than our wise men of this age are willing to believe. But Madame Blavatsky never made any such claim to me. We always discoursed of topics which were familiar to both, as individuals on a common plane. Colonel Olcott often spoke to me as one who enjoyed a grand opportunity, but she herself made no affectation of superiority. Nor did I ever see or know of any such thing occurring with anyone else.

She professed, however, to have communicated with personages whom she called "Brothers," and intimated that this, at times, was by the agency, or some means analogous to what is termed "telepathy." I have supposed that an important condition for ability to hold such intercourse was abstinence from artificial stimulation such as comes from the use of flesh as food, alcoholic drink, and other narcotic substances. I do not attach any specific immorality to these things, but I have conjectured that such abstemiousness was essential in order to give the mental powers full play, and to the noetic faculty free course without impediment or contamination from lower influence. But Madame Blavatsky displayed no such asceticism. Her table was well furnished, but without profusion, and after a manner not differing from that of other housekeepers. Besides, she indulged freely in the smoking of cigarettes, which she made as she had occasion. I never saw any evidence that these things disturbed, or in any way interfered with her mental acuteness or activity.

At my first visit, her reception was courteous and even friendly. She seemed to become acquainted at once. She spoke of the abridgments which I had made of her manuscript, extolling what I had done far beyond what it deserved. "What had been taken out was ‘flapdoodle,’" she declared. My judgment, certainly, had not been so severe as that.

While she was engaged in the work, she had many books relating to the various topics, evidently for consultation. There were Jacolliot's works on India, Bunsen’s Egypt, Ennemoser’s History of Magic, and others. I had myself written papers upon a variety of subjects for the Phrenological Journal and other periodicals, and she had procured many of them. We often discussed the topics, and their various characteristics, for she was a superior conversationalist and at home on every matter about which we discoursed. She spoke the English language with the fluency of one perfectly familiar with it, and who thought in it. It was the same to me as though talking with any man of my acquaintance. She was ready to take the idea as it was expressed, and uttered her own thoughts clearly, concisely, and often forcibly. Some of the words which she employed had characteristics which indicated their source. Anything which she did not approve or hold in respect she promptly disposed of as "flapdoodle." I have never heard or encountered the term elsewhere. Not even the acts or projects of Colonel Olcott escaped such scathing, and in fact he not unfrequently came under her scorching criticism. He writhed under it, but, except for making some brief expression at the time, he did not appear to cherish resentment.

Several individuals have written letters, as though I knew something that would discredit the genuineness of the originality of Isis Unveiled. The manuscript which I handled I am very sure was in the handwriting of Madame Blavatsky herself. Anybody who was familiar with her, would, upon reading the first volume of Isis Unveiled, not have any difficulty in recognizing her as the author. Besides, a full third, or even more, of what was published, was written by Madame Blavatsky after Mr. Bouton had set about putting the work in type. She was by no means expert in preparing her material. She patched and changed, making a very large bill for "alterations." Indeed, she never actually finished the work, the publisher declared to me, till he told her that she must stop.

She always treated me with courtesy. When her work was most urgent, or she had been wearied with visitors, she commanded the woman at the door to turn off all callers. That prohibition was repeatedly spoken to me, but as she heard my voice, she would call out to admit me. This occurred when the call was not a matter of business. She was ready in conversation, and was at home on any topic. Few persons in any walk of life are as well supplied with material for discourse. Even Colonel Olcott, who was by no means inferior or commonplace, was not her equal except in his own profession.

Believing that the main body of the work would not be sufficiently attractive to purchasers, I urged her to include in it accounts of the marvelous things which she had observed in India. But this she invariably declined to do, saying that it was not permitted by the "Brothers." That was a tribunal that I could not question; my wisdom in the matter was that of the marketplace. But she was always ready to hear what I had to say, whether in relation to her work, or to philosophic questions, or to subjects of everyday life. When the printer had placed everything in type, I was employed to prepare the index.

The work was finally completed, and Isis Unveiled was duly issued [in September 1877].

  • Olcott, Henry Steel. "The First Leaf of T. S. History." Theosophist 12.2 (November 1890): 65–70. Selection 6a.
  • ———. A Historical Retrospect—1875–1896—of the Theosophical Society. Madras: Theosophical Society, 1896. Selection 6a.
  • ———. Old Diary Leaves: The True Story of the Theosophical Society. Vol. 1 (1874–1878). New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1895. Selection 6b.
  • Wilder, Alexander. "How Isis Unveiled Was Written." Word 7.2 (May 1908): 77–87. Selection 6c.
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