WILLIAM Q. JUDGE
[conversion from Word to WordPerfect has created some unwanted characters and will be cleaned up asap]
(1) First Contact
In 1873, H.P.B. arrived in New York. For about a year, she remained in retirement in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Then she went to the upstate farmhouse of the Eddy brothers who had become famous for producing phenomenon described as materializations. When H.P.B. was there the materializations began to change. In addition to North American Indians, there were now “Asiatic ghosts in bizarre dress.” This was noted by Civil War veteran Col.Olcott, who was covering the materializations for the press.
Olcott was intrigued by this mysterious Russian woman and the two became friends. At the time, he was 42 and she was 43.
By writing letters to the Editor to newspapers defending Spiritualism, H.P.B. soon became known as one of the ablest advocates for the occult. She had so many visitors who came to her apartments to discuss such matters that one reporter dubbed her place as “the lamasery.” One of those visitors was a young lawyer in his early twenties who had been very interested in mysticism for some time. At H.P.B.’s request, Col.Olcott introduced them. The young man was William Q. Judge.
(1) In the Beginning
Mr. Judge left no record of the period before the founding of the Theosophical Society but some of his published statements reveal the character of his relationship with H.P.B. during this period. On the occasion of her death in 1891, he referred to their first meeting in her rooms in January, 1875. He wrote:
“It was her eye that attracted me, the eye of one whom I must have known in lives long passed away. She looked at me in recognition for that first hour, and never since has that look changed. Not as a questioner of philosophies did come before her, not as one groping in the dark for lights that schools and fanciful theories had obscured, but as one who, wandering through the corridors of life, was seeking the friends who could show where the designs for the work had been hidden. And, true to the call, she responded, revealing plans once again, and speaking no words to explain, simply pointed them out and went on with the task. It was as if but the evening before we had parted, leaving yet to be done some detail of a task taken up with one common end; it was teacher and pupil, elder brother and younger, both bent on the one single end, but she with the power and knowledge that belong but to lions and sages.”
Throughout 1875, Olcott and Judge met with H.P.B. nightly to be instructed. They learned of her travels and her purpose.
Judge, like Olcott, was witness to numerous demonstrations of occult powers by Madam Blavatsky, who was trying to show the difference between the perfectly controlled powers of the adept and the involuntary wonders produced by the medium in a trance. Judge’s later works reflect this, for he writes of occult subjects from personal experience, something few writers can do.
On Sept. 7, 1875, during a talk at H.P.B.’s lamasery, Col. Olcott passed a note to Judge bearing these words: “Would it not be a good thing to form a society for this kind of study?” Judge read the note, passed it on to H.P.B., who nodded assent. The meeting was called to order and the process of forming the Theosophical society had begun.
On October 30, Olcott’s preamble was adopted, and officers and a Council were elected. Among the Officers were Col Olcott as President, Madame Blavatsky as Corresponding Secretary, and William Judge as Counsel.
Madame Blavatsky often referred to the founding of the Society as coming about as a result of occult direction from her teachers. Judge would later write that the objects of the Society had been given to Col Olcott by the Masters before the meeting at which they were adopted. Thus, the founding of the Theosophy Society may be seen to have been inspired.
In 1881, looking back on the founding of the Society, Blavatsky wrote: “Our society as a body might certainly be wrecked by mismanagement or the death of its founders, but the IDEA which it represents and which has gained so wide a currency, will run on like a crested wave of thought until it dashes upon the hard beach where materialism is picking and sorting its pebbles”
At this time, the affairs of the Society were largely in Olcott’s hands. Meetings were held irregularly, and many plans for occult experimentation were proposed. Neither H.P.B. nor William Q. Judge took any active part in the meetings after the first few sessions. He was busy with his law practice. She was beginning to write her first book, Isis Unveiled.
(3)As Time Goes By
When H.P.B. and Col. Olcott left America, they left Theosophy in North America in the hands of William Q. Judge. While Judge kept in close contact with both H.P.B. and Olcott through correspondence, there was little if any organized activity for the next several years.
His difficulties over this period of time are illustrated by a biographical passage written by Mrs. Archibald Keightley : “It was a time when Madame Blavatsky – she who was then the one great exponent, had left the field the interest excited by her striking mission had died down. The T.S. was henceforth to subsist on its philosophical basis. From his twenty - third year until his death, (Mr. Judge’s) best efforts and all the fiery energies of his undaunted soul were given to this work.
We have a word picture of him, opening meetings, reading a chapter of the Bhagavad Gita , entering the minutes, and carrying all the details of the same, as if he were not the only person present; and this he did, time after time, determined to have a society.”
In 1876, business affairs took him to South America, where he contacted Chagres fever, and he was ever after a sufferer from that torturing disease. Other “phases” of his experiences on this journey are recorded in his writings, often allegorical, suggesting the character of the occult contacts which may have been established on this journey.
In India, H.P.B. established a new headquarters. As a European, her efforts to restore respect for the Hindi faith were quite effective. As a result, she made enemies among the Missionaries of Conventional Christianity.
When she left for Europe, Christian Missionaries conspired with her housekeepers, the Coulombs, to fabricate evidence of fraud. The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950 sets out some of the events that followed: “William Q. Judge, who arrived in India soon after the Coulombs had been sent away from headquarters, made a detailed examination of the false door constructed in Madam Blavatsky’s “occult room”. He showed the product of Coulomb’s interrupted labours to some three hundred witnesses who signed their names to a description of the place. He removed the “shrine” in which the Coulombs had attempted to plant evidence of fraud.”
Even many years later, these actions provide cogent evidence of “the Coulomb Conspiracy” and vindicate Madame Blavatsky.
In 1885, after his return to America, Judge set about to revitalize the Movement in the United States.
The real beginning of the work of Theosophy in the United States began in 1886, when Judge established The Path , an independent Theosophical magazine. Until this time, not much had been accomplished in the way of growth of the Society in America.
Mr. Judge addressed the common man in homely language and with simple reason. The Path showed that he had found himself and was now cultivating the area of his greatest usefulness, as a writer. His natural interest in the welfare of others affected everything he did, so that his articles and Theosophical talks are cast in the idiom of the common man.
In his first editorial, he wrote:
“ It is not thought that utopia can be established in a day¼Certainly, if we all say that it is useless¼nothing will ever be done. A beginning must be made and it has been made by the Theosophical society¼Riches are accumulating in the hands of the few while the poor are ground harder every day as they increase in number¼All this points unerringly to a vital error somewhere¼What is wanted is true knowledge of the spiritual condition of man, his aim, and destiny¼those who must begin the reform are those who are so fortunate as to be placed in the world where they can see and think out the problems all are endeavouring to solve, even if they know that the great day may not come until after their death.”
He also wrote: “The Christian nations have dazzled themselves with a baneful glitter of material progress. They are not the peoples who will furnish the clearest clues to the Path¼The Grand Clock of the Universe points to another hour, and now Man must seize the key in his hands and himself – as a whole – open the gate...Our practice consists in a disregard of any authority in matters of religion and philosophy except such propositions as from their innate quality we feel to be true.”
It has been said of Judge: “Everything he wrote of a metaphysical nature can be found, directly or indirectly, in the works of Madame Blavatsky. He attempted no new “revelation” but illustrated in his own works the ideal use of the concepts of the Theosophical Teachings.” The Theosophical Mov’t, 1875 - 1950
Over the years, Mr. Judge attracted to the Movement a nucleus of devoted followers. The movement grew steadily in America.
(2) Theosophy on Trial
On July 20, 1890, The New York Sun published an interview with a disaffected leader from the Theosophical Society, Prof. Coues. Coues made charges involving virtually every sort of attack ever made against H.P.B. and Theosophy. William Q. Judge brought suit for libel. Shortly afterwards, Madame Blavatsky did as well.
Over the years, H.P.B. had suffered all sorts of attacks without bringing any lawsuits. She gave two reasons for this. (1) Theosophy will remain forever, no matter how it is assailed, and (2) Occult phenomenon can never be proved in a Court of Law in this century. However, Coues and The New York Sun had gone too far this time. They had impugned Blavatsky’s morality by claiming that she had been the mistress of a Russian nobleman. This time, she did sue.
The lawyers for The New York Sun had to admit in open court that they could not prove the charge of immorality on which the lawsuit was based. It then appeared that the only question that remained was to assess the amount of the damages.
In May, 1891, H.P.B. died. Under the laws of New York State, the death automatically terminated her lawsuit. Judge, however, continued his action. The Sun eventually retracted.
In September, 1891, The New York Sun published a long article refuting the Coue interview, and a long article by Mr. Judge devoted to the life work and character of H.P. Blavatsky. The article and the editorial amounted to a complete reversal of the Sun’s position. Despite considerable investigation, they had failed to find evidence to support their position.
Mr. Judge had defended his friend right to the very end. The outcome of the case constitutes a complete vindication of H.P.B. Theosophical Movement, 1875-1950 (pp. 150 – 155.)
(5.) After the Parting
H.P.B.’s last words in reference to the Esoteric School were :
“KEEP THE LINK UNBROKEN! DO NOT LET MY LAST INCARNATION BE A FAILURE.”
At the time of H.P.B.’s passing, the two most prominent Theosophists in the world were William Q. Judge and Annie Besant.
Annie Besant was a rising star in the European branch of Theosophy. She was a famous Socialist and an early feminist political activist who had developed doubts about the philosophical sufficiency of materialism. She had then turned to Theosophy. Her charisma as a speaker attracted large audiences. Many saw her as a worthy successor to H.P.B.
Mr. Judge continued to lead Theosophy in America. By that time, the American section was larger than all the others put together. Two thirds of the Esoteric School were Americans. Mr. Judge’s correspondence with others throughout the world was the heaviest next to that of H.P.B.
In 1894 – 1895, Col. Olcott and Annie Besant joined forces in an unsuccessful effort to oust Mr Judge from the Theosophical Society. Much of their opposition probably arose from personal reasons, but there were doctrinal issues as well. They sought to downplay the role of H.P.B.in Theosophy, to avoid making her into “a saint.” They also sought to drop the teachings about the Adepts (or the Masters) being the source of the doctrines of Theosophy. That would no doubt have made Theosophy easier to sell in some quarters.
For his part, William Q. Judge remained loyal to the teachings of H.P.B. He said that the idea of the existence of the Adepts had “opened up channels in men’s minds which would have remained closed otherwise.”
Madame Blavatsky had felt that the concept of adeptship, of perfected human beings, was a necessary conclusion from the logic of spiritual evolution.
It was during this final period of his life that Mr. Judge wrote The Ocean of Theosophy .
Mr. Judge died on March 21, 1896. His last words were: “There should be calmness. Hold Fast. Go slow.”
In The Path Judge wrote of his goals for Theosophy: “¼besides a large and accessible literature¼(our next aim is to establish) a numerous and united body of people ready to welcome the new Torch Bearer of Truth. He will find the minds of men prepared for his message, a language ready for him in which to clothe the truth he brings, an organization awaiting his arrival¼”
Today, William Q. Judge lives on in the writing he has left us, words and arguments that truly have withstood the tests of time. Perhaps one might call him the Saint Paul of Theosophy. We who have benefited from his work honour his memory.