Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

Plagiarism:  Koot Hoomi, H. Kiddle

by Henry Kiddle

[Reprinted from The Medium and Daybreak (London), April 18, 1884, p. 250.]

To the Editor. --- Sir, --- I am sorry that Ellen H. Morgan, F.T.S., writing from the head-quarters of the Theosophical Society at Madras, in support of the alleged existence of the “Adept Brothers,” should have deemed it necessary to bring a “railing accusation” against me in order to establish her position, as she does in her letter published in the Medium of the 4th instant [Jan 4, 1884].  She charges me with “disingenuously passing off the saying, ‘Ideas rule the world’ as my own, when in reality it comes from Plato;” and yet the passages which she, evidently after laborious searching, cites from Plato’s works, prove that the saying was not made by Plato; though he of course, expresses the influence and importance of ideas.

Now, in the first place, let me say to this spirited champion of Occultism and the Brothers, I have never accused any one of Plagiarism in connection with the extraordinary fact to which I called attention some time ago, that the wonderful, superhuman adept Koot Hoomi seemed to have used, in a letter of his to Mr. Sinnett, a whole page of my address on Spiritualism, copied almost verbatim, but slightly garbled so as to adapt it to Occultism.  That is the plain fact, which Mr. Harrison designates, in the same number of the Medium, “a wholesale literary theft.”

I, however, have merely asked for an explanation of this curious phenomenon; and, lo! a storm has been raised.  The “elementary spirits” seem to be driven here and there, and their earthly representatives get into a state of excitement quite phenomenal in chelas, or disciples of “white magic,” which, it is claimed, raises the minds of mortals to the serene heights of pure soul life, far above the agitations of vulgar, earthly passion.  The explanation, meanwhile, is not forthcoming; but, instead thereof, a violent accusation of plagiarism and “disingenuousness” against me.

If I were disposed to become a follower of Satan (the accuser) and to recriminate, I might point to the obvious disingenuousness of representing the whole matter copied to consist of a single short sentence, when, in fact, it was a whole page; and, moreover, of quoting a few sentences from Plato’s Dialogues expressing thoughts or propositions that have but a remote or indirect bearing on the statement which I am charged with stealing; and then triumphantly asserting that Koot Hoomi (or whoever it was) was right in inserting the words before my statement, “Plato was right.”  I have not verified the passages given from Plato; but if these are all that can be found after diligently exploring his works, evidently, Koot Hoomi was wrong, in artfully appending Plato’s great name to the passage in question.

Of course, I claim no originality for the idea involved in that simple and trite proposition; and if this had been all that the adept had used, I should not have thought it of any importance; but when a whole page of an address is taken, nearly word for word, under such very peculiar circumstances, the cause of Truth demands a solution of the problem presented, which problem, however, becomes far simpler in view of the manner in which it is met by the representatives of Occult science and art.

Henry Kiddle.

New York, Jan. 18, 1884.