Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

H.P.B. and Theosophy in France

Letters to Monsieur C. Biliere

(Translated from the French by Lolita W. Hart)

[Originally published in The Theosophical Forum,
August 1950, pp. 479-491.]


Bombay, 3 August, 1880,

To our very distinguished new "Brother" M. C. Biliere.

When we speak of a Theosophical "School," we are on dangerous ground. - What "School," if you please? We have no School: nothing more than a Society, in general, and my humble self, in particular. And here, in order not to repeat myself, I refer you directly to the letter I have just written to M. Fauvety, in answer to his. It is a sort of circular letter in the form of an isolated number. But it will explain certain things of which you - Theosophists - should not be ignorant. To speak of a Theosophical School and to identify it with the Society, is as though one spoke of a plant or of a flower of a single species and called it "the garden." It is precisely this that constitutes the beauty of our Society, that is, we have neither religion, nor school, nor anything special, since the Society consists of all religions, of the most varied schools, each member having the right to present his own ideas, to have them discussed at the general assemblies and to defend them. Read, do read my letter to M. Fauvety, dear M. Biliere.

I do not know if I am a "great soul," but I know that I would much prefer not to have one at all and to see it annihilated and my body along with it. This old carcass has bothered me for a long time and my "great soul" has made only ingrates and calumniators; therefore it is but an "idiot." But - that is my personal opinion, if you please, and the Theosophical Society has nothing to do with it. I am a Buddhist to my finger tips, and I have said so for years. I believe in the soul, but in a material soul, which ends by disappearing as is suitable to each honest soul as well as to every particle of matter, of which neither the form, nor the duration can in consequence be either infinite or immortal.

I believe in the eternity of matter as a principle, never as form which is always temporary. I do not believe in the personal immortality of the soul or of the Ego; but I do believe in the immortality and Eternity of the Universal Spirit or of the impersonal and Highest Ego, and it is there that, finally plunged into and absorbed in the great All, my poor little "great soul" will find its annihilation, its NIRVANA, and will finally rest from its stormy and miserable existences in Universal Nothingness. Its feverish activity will be drowned in Spiritual Inactivity, the poor little individual atom in the Universal All, and then, H. P. Blavatsky, from a little muddy drop of water will have become an Ocean without limits, without end, and without beginning. Such is my aspiration! I will never be content to end by installing myself as an individual soul, either in Nirvana or in the traditional Paradise. Truly, it would be nice to see the souls of Jack, Peter and Susan making a show of themselves in Eternity with toothpicks of gold in their mouths, and the armorial bearings of Beings on their doors. A very philosophic idea! My ambition is to become finally the All, to be finally drawn into and absorbed into Nirvana as a drop of vapor is drawn to the Ocean; and there, losing my personal individuality, replace it by the Impersonal individuality of the Universal Essence which the Christians and other deists call "God," and which I and my school (which is not the theosophical school), call the Universal Cause: a cause that has neither intelligence, nor desire, nor will, because it is absolute Intelligence, Desire, and Will. With that good night. You desire "my old frimousse" - at your service, dear Monsieur. Only, I warn you, watch out for nightmares!

Meanwhile, accept the sincere salutations of one who soon, I hope, will be no more.

H.P. Blavatsky


Madras, 17, January [1883]

Dear Sir and brother,

A fatality that I do not understand seems to interpose itself between our correspondence. I have had three letters from you, I have written you four! It is true they have just brought me back one of them - from the dead letter office, on account of the address. I find your name on it followed by "157 Rue Caumartin"! How did that happen? I do not know, but it must be that I am falling into my dotage and talk drivel. In truth, I have been very much occupied and extremely ill, having absented myself for three months. I went to Sikkhim and pushed on into Tibetan territory in order to see our Brothers who cured me of an almost mortal illness. At least the doctors had condemned me, limiting my future to a few weeks at most. Worthy people, well instructed and prophets to their finger tips!

The "Theosophical Branch" of Paris addresses to me "its respectful homage"? I thank them; but my gratitude would be more due them, if this dear "Branch," did its duties a little better. In fact, its progress has been marvelous! Continuous dissolution until the extinction of natural heat apparently. You will tell me that if your little group has ceased to meet for three weeks or a month, it is because you had neither a program to guide you, nor a Koot-Hoomi to instruct you . . . . Ah! dear Monsieur, I am very much afraid that it is otherwise, and that your "little group" has lived up to now just because of the absence of a theosophical guide. Had you heard him preach first, your branch would have detached itself from the parent tree two years ago, instead of dying its beautiful death only now. Say the word and call things by their right name, if you are really theosophists, and you yourself are more one than you realize. Say that there has been discord, good and plenty, in the ranks. That most of the French Spiritists who pretend to be in search of truth only, and nothing but the Truth, are as bigoted as so many others. That they do like the pope, excommunicating without right of appeal all those who have the hardihood to think for themselves and not follow like a herd of sheep the trail of the ram at their head. Admit that what I am telling you here is the truth, and know that if I have kept silence up to now it was in order not to wound the sensibilities of my best friends in Paris.

But I know all, and have for a long time. I know that if the French Spiritists are more polite and less aggressive than the English and American Spiritualists, they hate us no less; at any rate they hate the Theosophical doctrines. I know also that I have proof of it. For if it were otherwise, the management Committee of the Revue Spirite would never have closed its columns to M. D. A. Courmes, our brother at Toulon, on account of the divergence between the doctrine of the theosophists and that of M. Allan Kardec; and that it would not have refused to publish the translation of Fragments of Occult Truth. Those gentlemen of the Committee have become sectarians, and the Kardecists a sect will infallible and inviolable dogmas? - Well, dear Monsieur Biliere, my patient brother and correspondent, we will seek elsewhere, that is all. That which the management of the Revue Spirite has refused us, a journal of our own - of the Theosophists - will not refuse, and soon there will be one in Paris. You know, he would have to be clever who would want to stop now the rising tide of Asiatic Theosophy. I can die tomorrow and the President could follow me, but the Theosophical Society will never die. The hour of the great Revelation has struck and the world will listen to us willy-nilly - fifty-seven societies founded in India alone within four years. The most intelligent Europeans are joining us every day. These fragments of occult truths printed for the moment in the Theosophist are dictated to Mr. Sinnett by one of the greatest Asiatic adepts, Koot-Hoomi, the hero of Mr. Sinnett’s book, The Occult World. It is this book which should be translated and it would sell like hot cakes. And what do the Kardecists fear? Must truth fear the daylight? if it is truth that they have? Send us an article full of dogmas, diametrically opposed to those of occult sciences, and we will print it for you without comment in our journal.

- Why? Because we are not sectarians, but free thinkers, philosophers ready to accept truth no matter whence it comes; and that unless it can be proved mathematically and scientifically we are in error. - Come now, my friend Leymarie is very much in the wrong.

Is the translation of Isis ready? In that case a copy could perhaps be sent to me? Only, as I have not corrected it myself, I do not hold myself responsible for the errors in translation. I hope there will be none, otherwise I shall be forced to deny my errors!

Yours fraternally
H. P. Blavatsky

Send me a photograph of yourself, yours has entirely disappeared, leaving only white spots. H.P.B.


Madras-Adyar, January 1884

Dear Sir and friend,

I wish you happiness and all that is good. Do not wish me the same, for it will do me no good.

And now, I am going to announce to you and regale you with an unexpected event, a change of scenery: on March 20th, or thereabouts - I disembark at Marseilles, and raise the flag of Theosophy on the Canebiere! Do you like that? Well, as for me, I do not like it at all. I expected to die in India, to be burned to the last drop of my Cossack fat on a funeral pyre like a widow of Malabar, and here I am sent to die elsewhere! Well, so much the worse for all of you. You will not find me amiable. Here are the facts, however.

For five years I labor day and night. I have the Theosophist, my correspondence with half of creation and my articles in Russian newspapers, the only thing that pays me. The others pay me also but only by ingratitude. Well, I have been young, I am that no longer. I have become, thanks to our enervating climate, and the work of a galley slave, an old hack, a poor carcass or rather a deflated balloon! My nerves have let go like violin strings that have been stretched too far - and they are now quietly breaking one after the other. Three more months of this work and I will become an idiot (which would not surprise anyone perhaps, since I have been that way all my life), and I am cracking up. It is not that that would make me weep, for certainly I have had enough of life. I aspire towards Nirvana, I call to it with great cries from my soul, for I am tired, tired, tired! but the Society does not want me to die. It is foolish, but thus it is. Now then, as the doctors have declared that if I am not carried away by force to other climates for an absolute rest of a few months, I will not last for three months. Now here I am being shipped off by force, plus my Hindu domestic who is my maid, my valet de chambre, and my head which I no longer have.

The Colonel-President must go to London to reconcile the English theosophists who box and squabble instead of studying theosophy. He is going to embark - with me on his arm - around the 20th of February, in order to reach Marseilles where he will leave me. Where will I go next? I don’t know, to Nice for a few days perhaps to see the Duchess, then to Paris for a few days - why? - I don’t know at all. But I want to see my old friend Leymarie, and Dr. Fortin, his enemy (see how these two Christians love each other!) and Mme. de Morsier - you also, with whom I would like to laugh a little, for you are a true Parisian although a Theosophist. But unless I stay but a few days I do not want to remain in your Babel of Louise Michel and Co. I want absolute tranquility. I will go to the country far from all noise, where I can revise and correct the French Isis (which I have just received today, January 27th, it comes in time!). And I want you to keep my secret, otherwise I shall not come. And poor Gaboriau who writes me that he is coming! his room awaits him and he will arrive at his own home in Adyar. It is the domestic hearth of all wandering and wounded Theosophists. I have left orders that he should be received as though he were myself, but he will have to resign himself to waiting several months for me. Let him study English until then. If he has not already left, he could help me to explain Isis and to correct it; for may the devil take me if I have reached the heights of classical French. In short, here I am being sent to rest, and yet I am going to have Isis on my back - or rather on my brain which is very shaky and ill at the moment. Finally my dear Monsieur Biliere, I am really ill without appearing so. First of all, my two legs are almost paralysed, and then my head no longer works. The hinges are rusting in a manner that is frightening. My Mahatma and venerated guru has already patched me up twice. Last year the doctors had condemned me likewise. I had Bright’s disease in its last phase when I learned for the first time, that sheep are not the only ones to have kidneys, but that I possessed them also, in a very villainous state just like my liver.

Well, I went to Darjeeling, to Sikkhim (which slams the door on every Englishman who approaches it), at the entrance to Tibet, and there my beloved Master (not Mahatma Koot-Hoomi, but another) mended me, kidneys and liver, and, in three days, I was as sound as ever. It was a miracle, they said. He gave me only a decoction to drink seven times a day from a plant of the Himalayas. But now, he himself sends me to get fresh air. After all, I think I will go to the Alps. In any case write me at Marseilles, poste restante, and tell me where I could see you and press your hand. Meanwhile, Salaam.

Fraternally yours,
H.P. Blavatsky


(Without date or place.)

Dear Monsieur Biliere,

As you have written that the lady of the Castle refused to sub-let her apartment, and that she offered a much smaller one, on the same floor, and as the request to secure the apartment referred to the first one - which the good lady refuses - I believe it best to change our plan. Besides, it is our Master who writes us in order to signify his wishes to us. We must have a suitable apartment and especially a salon large enough for a meeting of our members (and we have nineteen here!). Thus I telegraphed you last evening, begging you to find one for 300 francs and much nearer the center, that is to the Duchess.

And now I receive your telegram! a short telegram, denoting irritation, leaving us in the lurch and passing us on to Mme. de Morsier - this is equivalent to the loss of Doctor Fortin. You, and the said Doctor also, are in the middle of these quarrels of the two (or three?) societies of Paris. This is why with you two we were sure of not provoking pretensions on one side or the other. And this is precisely why we did not address our request to find an apartment, either to Mme. de Morsier or to the Doctor, or again to M. Leymarie. And now you abandon us! What in the world has happened? It is true that the Duchess wrote to her secretary and lieutenant, Mme. de Morsier, to help us in finding one near her. But this letter written today cannot yet have reached her. Why then do you seem to be angry. - Allah is great, and I am not his prophet! but it seems to me I can smell in the air yet another little animosity between you and Mme. de Morsier. This is indeed an epidemic among the Paris theosophists, which must come from London, where Mr. Sinnett and Mrs. Kingsford are cutting each other’s throats.

Finally I await your letter which I hope will explain to me this new mystery. Until then I wish you good health and not to cough as I am doing.

Fraternally yours,
H. P. Blavatsky


46, rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs.

My dear Sir and brother,

Having received the order to open and answer any letters that might come to the President dated from Paris, in my position as Secretary General, Correspondent General, I answer you.

I have been the witness of all that has taken place between you and another member of the Society from the first day of our arrival in Paris and no one has regretted it more than I. You know it, because I have told you. I have done all that I could to reconcile the two sides. I have talked to Mme. de Morsier very seriously and, although I have never been able to find out what she has against you, I have assured myself nevertheless that she, like a real woman, holds a grudge against you, and that as a woman there is nothing to be done about it except to deplore all this misunderstanding. The Duchess has deplored it, and would have liked to change the state of things. She has asked me why you had not been notified of the Assemblies of the Society - but it was useless. She has not been any more successful than I, Mme. de Morsier being Secretary General, it was difficult to force her to invite you. It is deplorable. But console yourself, there are many others who are. If you do me the honor to come and say goodbye to me (I leave Thursday morning) I will tell you by word of mouth.

Still you are wrong to write that you have been "likewise separated from the mother Society," for that is not so. We have had no Theosophical Assembles here except once, and you were there. You suddenly ceased visiting us, it is therefore you who separated yourself from us. For almost six weeks I have hardly left the house - my aunt and my sister are staying here with me. You have never rung the door bell during that time. Finally, remember, if you please, that all the theosophists, with me at their head, consider you as one of our brothers, and it is unjust of you to hold us responsible for the caprices of one single theosophist. Nevertheless, as there is no one to replace her and, except for this caprice, there is nothing to reproach her with, it is impossible for us to remedy it.

But know one thing well. By renouncing the society of Mme. de Pomar, you give up the only way of adjusting things. For the circular itself proves to you that all is changed. Mme. de Morsier will no longer be the Secretary of it and will not be a part of it, for she is leaving to form another group. On the contrary, you would render a great service to Mme. de Pomar by helping to reorganize her society that threatens to fall to pieces by this new arrangement. Do go and see her. I am sending her a letter and explaining the matter to her. Write her, but do it all between the two of you asking her for secrecy in this matter.

This is the counsel of a friend.

Believe always in my sincere fraternal devotion.

H.P. Blavatsky

To Monsieur Biliere, 30, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honore.

I would like to see you, truly, to announce to you some still more important news that will surprise you. I will be at home tomorrow evening Tuesday.


(Without address or date.)

Dear Monsieur Biliere,

I see only one thing and that is that being a Frenchman you take everything the wrong way - even the best intentions of your friends. "The eminent secretary" of the Theosophical Society is not afraid of Mme. de Morsier herself nor of anybody in the world. I wanted to save a devoted friend, who came to my house, from a gratuitous impertinence from one who knows so well how to give such, especially before strangers. These strangers came for business and what I did was at the suggestion of another person who knows the story and told me in Russian to watch out, for she had seen the look the lady gave you. It reached such a point that when the strangers were gone I wrote to this lady to complain of her conduct. But it is useless to tell you anything further. You have accepted the thing, not as it was, but all wrong, I repeat. It is unfortunate for me. I thought you a friend with intuition and I find in you a touchy critic. Would you have wished me to place myself in the position of putting Mme. de Morsier out of my house, she a friend also, for after all your quarrels do not concern me, and I want to be friendly with the whole world, as theosophy demands of me! Because, if she had insulted you once more, I would have been absolutely forced to break with her. Is that what you sought?

While deploring that there is not a single reasonable person in France, as far as I can see, and that every one in this country is crack-brained, believe, dear Monsieur Biliere, in my regrets if, in thinking I had done well, I offended you. I was not too much afraid of Mme. de Morsier; the day I bluntly told her my way of thinking, and took up your defense in the presence of two people, that very day she wanted to hand in her demit as secretary and even as a member. Did they tell you that?

It seems not. I am sorry to receive your letter too late. Not being able to suspect this new avalanche, I wrote the enclosed long letter for Fortin this morning. Good heavens, tear it up. It is better done than [not] to keep faith.

Wishing you happiness and prosperity, believe me always your very devoted

H. P. Blavatsky


Paris, 25 June 1884

My dear Monsieur Biliere,

The story that I told you yesterday, I wrote today hoping that you, a friend of peace and a sincere Theosophist, will put it before the eyes of M. Fortin - unless you prefer to see him on the benches of the Police court for defamation.

From all sides I am told that he is telling horrible things about me; that he calumniates me by telling impossible stories and throwing out accusations that he certainly will be obliged to prove - since it is a systematic and continued defamation that this gentleman permits himself - or else let him leave me alone. That is what I am advising this "magian" who, up to the month of March, filled his letters which I am keeping with impossible flatteries, and who since then has made such a quick volte-face.

Does he invent these infamous stories; is it the demoiselle Smirnoff of the Place Vendome who has related them to him? - it doesn’t matter to me. The fact is that he repeats them, and the hermetic lamas have not even revealed to him that by doing so he risks seeing himself arraigned before the Police court - with his friend and client la Smirnoff - whose viper tongue is known all over Russia!

As soon as I knew, through Mlle, de Glinka, of the filth that that old vestal of the Imperial Court - to whom it would be well to show this letter - spread about me; hardly had I read the letter that she wrote to Mlle. de Glinka - a letter full of dirty lies in which she calumniated my sister and all my relatives - than I wrote her a letter and sent it to her by my sister who went to her house accompanied by Mlle. de Glinka.

Know, that my sister, a widow of barely three years, lived in Tiflis for twenty-three years, with her husband and her children. During these years she was known by the Grand Duchess Olga, wife of the Grand Duke Michael, Viceroy of the Caucasus - and in constant contact with her, because of her husband’s position. And this viper has dared to write that my sister had driven her husband to insanity and killed him by her misconduct, and that, having become a widow, she established herself in Odessa where she continued her lewd life! The truth is that my sister who has been a widow only three years, established herself in Odessa when she was already over fifty years old! - It is almost unbelievable. La Smirnoff fidgeted before my sister, and knew not where to hide herself, trying first to deny all and not being able to deny anything since my sister had her letter and Mlle. de Glinka was there. My sister treated her as she deserved, sending her to make inquiries about herself from the Grand Duke and his wife. It is to be regretted that one of my sister’s sons, who is an officer in the Caucasus, was not there. My nephew would certainly have had the right to box the ears of this lady of honor. Let Dr. Fortin show her this letter, with whom you can leave it as a souvenir. I made several copies of the letter I wrote to la Smirnoff, one for my lawyer, and the rest I distributed among all my Russian acquaintances and those to whom she had calumniated me. The Russians know her well. They all say she is crazy enough to be locked up, for her own venom is choking her. I believe it.

La Smirnoff has said and written that I was a harlot, that I had dragged myself in the mud, lived in harems, being a drunkard at Tiflis and, finally, that all my life I had cheated the world, stolen, etc., for which high deeds I was under the threat of a criminal condemnation and had not been able to enter Tiflis for thirty years, for, if I returned there, I would be arrested, put in prison and sent to Siberia, because I had committed robberies. That is about what M. Fortin says, who had the audacity to ask Mr. Keightley - the young Englishman sent by Colonel Olcott to ask from him the return of his charter - if the antecedents of the two founders were known.

Well, unless he retracts his words and leaves me alone, he will recognize them in the Police court, for this is what I have done.

The chief commandant of the Caucasus is my intimate friend, one who has known me and my family for almost forty years. He is Prince Doudoukoff-Korsakoff. I wrote him a letter immediately in which I copied the accusations of la Smirnoff; and at the same time I sent an official petition to demand that after a minute research in the archives they send to me at once in Paris an official document from the Police in Tiflis. This document will state whether I was ever listed by the Police as a thief or a bad woman. I also wrote to the Police of Saint Petersburg. Armed with these two documents, we shall see where the infamies of la Smirnoff repeated by Doctor Fortin will lead them. Eight days ago Prince Doudoukoff - to whom I sent the address of Mme. de Barrau in case I should be in London - sent her a telegram with these words: "Tell Mme. Blavatsky that her letter was received today. Indignant. The official documents, asked for, expedited day after tomorrow. - Prince Doudoukoff."

I expect these documents today or tomorrow. Now then, as I left the Caucasus in 1848, and travelled with my father in Europe, and later lived for almost twelve years in India, South America and Africa; as I returned directly from America to St. Petersburg, in 1859, I stayed there with my father and my sister, known by all Petersburg; then in 1861 I went to Tiflis where I stayed with my grandfather, the intimate Counselor of the Emperor (and of my husband, M. Blavatsky, governor of Erivan), for more than a year at Tiflis - until his death in short - and then leaving again in 1864, I did not return any more to the Caucasus; during this period or epoch was I the vile woman described by Mlle. Smirnoff? It is what she will have to prove when my lawyer places my official dossier before jury and judge.

Dr. Fortin would do better to leave me alone, and especially not to dare to write any more as he has written. Up till now I was to him, as attested by his letters, the venerated, the loved, the "respected Madame," etc., but now I have become on his say-so all that is most shameful? It is a quick change of opinion for a man who has clairvoyance to help him, astrology and other things. I understood him long ago - even at Madras - although I was not entirely certain. It was sufficient for me, however, to see him for an hour, at my house, to know that we would never understand each other. A man who, carried away by his choleric and despotic disposition, let’s himself go before twenty persons, as he did at his house insulting two honest people, such as Dr. Thurmann and Edard - calling them thieves and cheats, and throwing them out of the house "like two lackeys," is capable of anything!

I warn him to calm himself; and you would do well to warn him also.

I set out for London, but I am leaving a lawyer here and friends to watch over this affair.

Pray accept, dear Monsieur and Brother, my esteem and fraternal consideration.

H. P. Blavatsky