Published by The Blavatsky Archives Online.  Online Edition copyright 2000.

The Evolution of Humanity
[Letter to the Editor]

by F.W. Read

[Reprinted from Light (London), April 8, 1893, p. 168.]

Sir, --- Mr. Scott-Elliot’s account of human evolution, which you reviewed in “Light” of April 1st, is, of course, based on supposed authoritative statements put forth by the Mahatmas; and he appears to have drawn his materials partly from “The Secret Doctrine” of Madame Blavatsky and partly from Mr. Sinnett’s “Esoteric Buddhism.”  Both these works claim a Mahatmic origin, but (as most readers of Theosophic literature know) they are not in entire agreement.  Indeed, on one point dealt with by Mr. Scott-Elliot they are in direct conflict; and it is to this conflict, so dangerous to a system claiming substantial infallibility, that I wish to draw attention.  Speaking of planetary chains, Mr. Scott-Elliot says: “It may be as well to repeat a fact which has again been verified, viz., that Mars and Mercury form part of our chain.”  I must confess my entire ignorance as to the means whereby this fact has been verified either “again” or at any time; but, if it has been, such verification is one more blow to Mahatmic infallibility.

This statement as to the relation of Mars and Mercury to the earth was originally put forward in “Esoteric Buddhism,” as part of that revelation to the benighted Western mind of which Mr. Sinnett was the chosen instrument.  But Madame Blavatsky was so impressed with the errors of that work that she wrote in “The Secret Doctrine”: “ . . . his better knowledge of modern astronomical speculations than of archaic doctrines led him quite naturally, and as unconsciously to himself, to commit a few mistakes of detail,” among which was this very statement as to Mars and Mercury.  To set the matter right Madame Blavatsky “applied to the Teachers by letter for explanation and an authoritative version.”  The explanation having been received, Madame Blavatsky printed “verbatim extracts” from it in “The Secret Doctrine” (I., 165).  We there read: “Again, both (Mars and Mercury) are septenary chains, as independent of the Earth’s sidereal lords and superiors as you are independent of the ‘principles’ of Daumling (Tom Thumb).”  Personally, I attach but little value to this “authoritative letter,” for two reasons.  In the first place, it contains a statement with reference to Laplace which could not possibly be true; and in the second place, when this was pointed out in the “Agnostic Journal,” Mr. Mead at once produced a quotation from the original letter which flatly contradicted the alleged verbatim extract.  My object, however, is to ascertain the position of Theosophists in presence of the divergent views expressed in “Esoteric Buddhism” and “The Secret Doctrine.”  Do they or do they not, hold themselves at liberty to teach as true a doctrine which the High Priestess of their faith has expressly declared (on the authority of the Mahatmas) to be false?

One word on the very interesting article by Mr. Sinnett in “Black and White,” also reviewed in your issue of April 1st.  He there very distinctly states that the Atlanteans not only established themselves in Egypt but profoundly modified the Egyptian character.  In “Esoteric Buddhism” (chap. iv.) he wrote:  “It is a mistake on the part of a recent writer on Atlantis to people India and Egypt with the colonies of that continent.”  Can Mr. Sinnett or his supporters reconcile these statements?

F. W. Read.

[See Mr. Sinnett's Reply to this letter.---BAO Editor.]