In February, 1890, she wrote to Mme. Jelihovsky:
"As you see, I am in Brighton, on the seashore, where I was sent by the doctors, to inhale the oceanic evaporations of the Gulf Stream, to get rid of a complete nervous prostration. I do not feel any pains, but palpitations of the heart, a ringing in the ears — I am nearly deaf — and weakness too, such weakness that I can hardly lift my hand. I am forbidden to write or read or even to think, but must spend whole days in the open air — 'sit by the sea and wait for fair weather.' My doctor got frightened, himself, and frightened all the staff. It is an awfully expensive place; and my money — alas! So my esotericists put their money together immediately and persuaded me to go. And now subsidies fly to me from all points of the compass, for my care; some of them even unsigned, simply to my address. America especially is so generous that, upon my word, I feel ashamed. I admit they 'want' me, as they repeat to me twenty times a day, but still, why should they spend so much? They keep me in luxury as if I were an idol, and don't allow me to protest.
"Two or three Theosophists at a time take turns at my side, coming from London; watching my every movement like Cerberuses. Now one of them is putting his head in with a tearful request to stop writing, but I must let you know that I am still alive. You have been to Brighton, have you? We have splendid spring weather here; the sun is simply Italian, the air is rich; the sea is like a looking-glass, and during whole days I am pushed to and fro on the esplanade, in an invalid chair. It is lovely. I think I am already strong enough. My brain moves much less, but before I was simply afraid for my head. My doctor said exhaustion of the brain and nervous prostration. 'You have overworked yourself,' he says, 'you must give yourself a rest.' That's it! And with all this work on my hands! 'You have written your full,' he says; 'now drive about.'
"It is easy for him to speak, but all the same I must put the third volume of the Doctrine in order, and the fourth — hardly begun yet, too. It is true though that in my present state of weakness my head keeps nodding, I feel drowsy. But, all the same, don't be afraid. There is no more danger. Take consolation from the enclosed newspaper cuttings. You see how the nations magnify your sister! My Key to Theosophy will bring many new proselytes, and the Voice of the Silence, tiny book though it is, is simply becoming the Theosophists' bible.
"They are grand aphorisms, indeed. I may say so, because you know I did not invent them! I only translated them from Telugu, the oldest South-Indian dialect. There are three treatises, about morals, and the moral principles of the Mongolian and Dravidian mystics. Some of the aphorisms are wonderfully deep and beautiful. Here they have created a perfect furore, and I think they would attract attention in Russia, too. Won't you translate them? It will be a fine thing to do."
The sea air did her good, but she did not keep her strength long. Not later than April she was again forbidden to work, abstaining from which was a real torture for her, as with her failing strength the activity of her thought seemed only to increase. She knew she had not much time to lose, and yet she had to spend whole days in her bed doing absolutely nothing. She wrote to her sister:
"And still I have a consolation: my Theosophists grudge nothing for me in either labor, time or money. Formerly I used to think they could not do without me, having imagined I am a well of wisdom, and so took care of me as of a precious jewel, which has come from far across the seas. And now I see I was mistaken, many of them simply love me as a dear mother of theirs. For instance Mrs. Candler: she is not a very deep Theosophist, and yet she spent the whole of the last summer petting me and now again she writes, asking me to settle beforehand where I feel inclined to spend the season, and wants to take me to all kinds of places, having wrapped me in wadding. But I shall not go anywhere. I want you, Vera, you and your children. Besides, it seems likely that Charlie and Vera will also return from India. They could not stay long in Russia; you are free to do what you like, so instead of the country come to me, all of you. ... Or maybe you would prefer to spend the summer in Stockholm, near the seaside instead of England. Seriously — my Swedish Theosophists are very eager that I should come; one of them offers me a whole villa at my service, with a park and a yacht to sail in the bay. . . . But I think we might as well stay in London. Our new house, the Theosophical headquarters, is right in Regent's Park, near the Zoological Gardens. I am forbidden to work now, but all the same I am awfully busy changing from one end of London to the other. We have taken three separate houses, joined by a garden, for several years; 19 Avenue Road, with building-right. So I am building a lecture hall, to hold 300 people; the hall is to be in Eastern style, made of polished wood, in a brick shell, to keep the cold out; and no ceiling inside, the roof being supported by beams and made also of polished wood. And one of our Theosophists who is a painter is going to paint allegorical signs and pictures over it. Oh, it will be lovely!"
Mme. Blavatsky was as pleased as a child with all the new arrangements, and yet she had a foreboding she was to die in this new house, and spoke of it to her sister.
Her next letter, dated July, describes the opening of her new lecture hall.
"At one end of the hall they placed a huge arm-chair for me and I sat as if enthroned. I sat there hardly able to keep myself together, so ill was I, my doctor near at hand in case I should faint. The hall is lovely, but about 500 people had assembled, nearly twice as many as it would hold. . . . And imagine my astonishment: in the first row I was shown Mrs. Benson, the wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom my Lucifer addressed a "brotherly message." I am sure you remember it? What are we coming to! The speeches were by Sinnett and others, but, needless to say, no one spoke so well as Annie Besant. Heavens, how this woman speaks! I hope you will hear her yourself. She is now my coeditor of Lucifer and the president of the Blavatsky Lodge. Sinnett is to remain the president of the London Lodge alone. As for me, I have become a regular theosophical pope now: I have been unanimously elected president of all the European theosophical branches. But what is the use of all this to me? . . . If I could get some more health — that would be business. But honors and titles are altogether out of my line." (2)
1. Copyright, 1895. (return to text)
2. This number closes the series of letters by H.P.B. to her family. Next month we will begin a series written to Dr. F. Hartmann, with some notes by him. — Editor. (return to text)
The PathTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE