Published by The Blavatsky Archives Online. Online Edition copyright 1999.
Mr. Mead's "Facts about
'The Secret Doctrine.' "
by H.N. Stokes
[Reprinted from The O.E. Library Critic
(Washington, D.C.) August 1927, pp. 7-9.]
In the June Critic it was pointed out that Mr. G.R.S. Mead, in making the statement in The Occult Review for May, that Mr. Judge had confessed to him that he had forged letters from the Mahatmas, entirely overlooked the fact that he had placed himself on record in 1895 to the effect that he and others were unable to get any admission at all from Mr. Judge, and this led me to the conclusion that Mr. Mead's memory has failed him and that he has imagined things that never happened. Mr. Mead is not to be considered as "a scoundrel", "a cowardly slanderer", or even a plain liar, as some of his critics would have us believe, but as a well-intending gentleman who is so cocksure of himself that he considers it needless to refresh his memory by referring to his own recorded words in the past.
But the above is not the only instance in which Mr. Mead's memory has failed him, and as in the same Occult Review article he gives his theory as to the "third volume of The Secret Doctrine" issued by Mrs. Besant it is just as well to point out what Mr. Mead said then and what he says today. I quote from his review of this volume in Lucifer, July 15th, 1897 (pages 353-360) and his Occult Review article (May, 1927, foreign edition, page 322). It must be remembered that the excepted pages 433-594 are admittedly esoteric articles of H.P.B. not claimed to form part of The Secret Doctrine:
Mr. Mead: July 15th, 1897:
It is somewhat a novel experience for the present writer, who has edited, in one form or another, almost all that H.P.B. has written in English, with the exception of Isis Unveiled, to find himself turning over the leaves of Volume III, of The Secret Doctrine as one of the general public, for with the exception of pp. 433-594 he has seen no word of it before (italics mine --- Ed.). But other work has prevented his sharing in the labour of editing the Ms., and the burden has fallen on the shoulders of Mrs. Besant.
Mr. Mead; February 15th, 1927:
Next, I come to Vol. III. With this, I refused to have anything to do whatever. I judged the disjecta or rejecta membra from the manuscript or typescript of Vols. I and II not up to standard, and that it would in no way improve the work. They could, I thought, be printed preferably as fugitive articles in Lucifer, but could not possibly be made into a consistent whole.
From the above, we learn several interesting and instructive things. We learn that Mr. Mead had never --- with the irrelevant exception stated --- seen a word of "Volume III" before its publication, while today he tells us that before its publication he judged it not up to standard. If he had never seen it, how could he have formed any judgment regarding it? Are we to assume that he was in the habit of forming judgments on the value of what H.P.B. wrote without seeing it, or are we to infer that his present day statement is just imagination?
And if at the time he declined to take a share in the task of editing because of "other work", why are we told today his reason was that he thought the material not up to standard?
Mr. Mead; July 15th, 1897:
The editor [Mrs. Besant] was bound to publish these, but we entirely share her private opinion, that it would have been better to have printed them as separate articles in Lucifer, than to have included them as part of The Secret Doctrine.
Mr. Mead; February 15th, 1927:
Mrs. Besant, who put a far higher valuation on everything H.P.B. had written than I did, persisted in her view, and by herself edited the matter for publication.
If Mrs. Besant entertained the "private opinion that it would have been better to have printed them as separate articles in Lucifer than to have included them as part of The Secret Doctrine," we can understand that she might have waived this view out of deference for H.P.B.'s supposed wishes, but this does not agree with Mr. Mead's present statement that she included them in The Secret Doctrine because she placed a far higher value on everything that H.P.B. wrote than he did. Mrs. Besant could not have had two absolutely opposite opinions at the same time.
After all, it matters little whether Mr. Mead saw the papers or not before publication, or whether he agreed or disagreed with Mrs. Besant on their value. What does matter is that Mr. Mead should attempt to put over on the public today, as "history", mere recollections of events thirty years or more ago, which are flatly contradicted by his own words at the time. All of this material existed and Mr. Mead admitted that "he has seen no word of it before." Clearly, then, H.P.B. had considerable manuscript of which Mr. Mead had no knowledge, and yet, merely on the ground that he had never seen it, he scratched out of the revised Secret Doctrine all reference to a Volume III which she claimed, there as elsewhere, to be ready for the press, a statement confirmed by Dr. Archibald Keightley, her constant assistant in preparing The Secret Doctrine, and even today virtually calls both of them liars! He still clings to the fact that H.P.B. could do nothing without consulting HIM.
Whether Mr. Mead's statement (Occult Review, page 320) that "There are numerous similar enthusiastic mis-statements, or confusions of psychic probability with physical fact, to be found elsewhere in Mme. Blavatsky's voluminous literary output" be true or not, these words surely apply to Mr. Mead's recent articles. A few have been pointed out in the present and the preceding Critic. When he tells us (Occult Review, May, 323) of "the copy of the 'M' seal which Olcott had had made at Lahore", one has simply to refer to page 74 of Mrs. Besant's Case against W.Q. Judge" to see a detailed history of this seal and the evidence that it was made, not at Lahore, but at Delhi. When he tells us (The Quest, April, 1926, page 293) that the E.S. "had been started by Mme. Blavatsky in about 1890," one has to remember H.P.B's letter to Judge, dated December 14th, 1888, appointing him as her E.S. representative in America, and that the E.S. had been started some months before this. And when he asserts (The Quest, April, 1926, page 293) that in the libel suit against The Hindu newspaper, Leadbeater had to appear in court, one finds it stated in the magistrate's own words in dismissing the suit, that Leadbeater was not present.
These, by themselves, are trivialities; it is too much to expect that history can be written without an occasional slip, but it is not too much to demand that he who would write it shall not depend upon his own fallible recollections alone, but shall refresh his memory by the perusal of contemporary documents and records, including those for which he himself is personally responsible. When he does not take the trouble to do this, but relying on the assumption that his past reputation will make everything he says "go" with his readers, rambles along, handing out charges of fraud and innuendoes against persons long dead and unable to call him to account, and in plain contravention of his own earlier presentations of fact, he exposes himself to the risk not only of having his statements taken as pure fiction, but his qualifications as a scholar called in question. Such a fate Mr. Mead shows that he richly deserves