Page:1902 Encyclopædia Britannica - Volume 26 - AUS-CHI.pdf/309

This page needs to be proofread.


BLAYATSKY — BLEIBERG 275 Blavatsky, Helena Paulovna (1831 1891), conceived, but carelessly executed, and on three distinct Eussian theosophist, was born at Ekaterinoslav,Kussia,31st occasions the elaborate system of trickery to which she July (O.S.) 1831. She is stated to have been the daughter resorted was exposed in the most conclusive manner. of Peter Hahn, a Kussian officer. An unruly girl, she sought Nevertheless, Madame Blavatsky’s extraordinary cleverness, emancipation from family ties by marrying in her 17 th volubility, energy, and will power enabled her to maintain year (7th July 1848) Nicephore Blavatsky, a Eussian her ground, and when she died on 8th May 1891 (White official in Caucasia, from whom she was separated after Lotus Day), at the Theosophical headquarters in Avenue a few months of stormy conjugal life. In later days, Eoad, Kegent’s Park, London, she was the acknowledged when seeking to invest herself with a halo of virginity, she head of a community numbering not far short of 100,000, described the marriage as a nominal one, and her bride- with journals in London, Paris, New York, and Madras. groom as “ a plumeless raven nearer seventy than sixty.” Much information respecting her will be found in SolovyofFs If this statement were true, M. Blavatsky, who was re- Modern Priestess of Isis, translated by Walter Leaf (1895), ported as still living in 1895, would then have been con- in Arthur Lillie’s Madame Plavatsky and her Theosophy siderably over 110 years of age. During the twenty years (1895), and in the report made to the Society for Psychical that followed the separation from her husband, Mme. Kesearch by the Cambridge graduate despatched to investiBlavatsky travelled and probably gained experience as a gate her doings in India. In personal appearance the spiritualistic medium in large cities, among which it is beold one, as Madame was familiarly called by her follieved that she visited Paris, Cairo, New Orleans, Tokio, lowing, has been described as globular in shape, with a and Calcutta. The period 1848-58 was alluded to subse- dull gray complexion, a far from attractive physioquently as the veiled period of her life, and she spoke gnomy, and eyes like discoloured turquoises. Yet she vaguely of a seven years’sojourn in “Little and Great certainly fascinated those who came in contact with her, Tibet” or preferably of a “Himalayan retreat.” In 1858 even those of her colleagues whom her “ fibs ” and indisshe revisited Eussia, where she created a considerable cretions' kept in a continual state of uneasiness. (t. Se.) sensation as a spiritualistic medium. Early in the ’seventies she acquired prominence among the spiritualists of the B la vet, a river of France in the departments of United States, and was mixed up in the Eddy Brothers C6tes du Nord and Morbihan. It rises in the W. of the and Katie King frauds. Her leisure was occupied with former department, at an altitude of 1000 feet, some 3 the study of occult and cabalistic literature, to which miles S.W. of Bourbriac. Flowing generally S. by E. to was soon to be added that of the sacred writings of India, Goarec, it forms, about midway in its course to that place, though these had to be approached through the medium the “perte of the Blavet,” the “ Toul-Goulic ” of the of translations. In 1875 she conceived the plan of com- Bretons. This is a deep defile, whose bed is a chaotic bining the spiritualistic “control” with the Buddhistic mass of gigantic rocks, amongst which the stream first legends about Tibetan sages or wonder-working adepts. dashes wildly and then disappears underneath for a distance Henceforth she determined to exclude all control save that of 300 to 400 yards. Its first important affluent, the of two Tibetan adepts or “mahatmas,” called respectively Sulon, joins it a little above Goarec on the left, and at Koot Hoomi and Morya. The mahatmas exhibited their this town the Nantes and Brest Canal, carried along the “ astral bodies ” to her, “ precipitated ” messages which valley of its affluent the Dore, in whose basin are several reached her from the confines of Tibet in an instant of reservoirs, joins it on the right. From Goarec to Pontivy time, supplied her with sound doctrine, and incited her to the Blavet is incorporated with the canal, but at the latter perform tricks for the conversion of sceptics. At New town the canal leaves it, and the Blavet, itself canalized, York, in October 1875, with the aid of Colonel Olcott, flows S. by W. and then S.W. for 37 miles to Hennebont, she definitely launched the “ Theosophical Society,” which where maritime navigation begins. Here it widens into was formed out of a group of disillusioned spiritualists, and an estuary, and at its outfall, 9 miles lower, opposite Port had for its avowed objects to put down spiritualism, to Louis, has a width of over a mile. At Lorient, 2 miles convert the materiahsts, and to prove the existence of the above Port Louis, it is joined on the right bank by its libetan brothers. The Brahmanic and Buddhistic litera- chief tributary the Scorff, forming the port of Lorient. tures^ supplied the society with a technical vocabulary, The Scorff rises in the Cotes du Nord, on the borders of and its doctrines were a curious amalgam of Egyptian, Morbihan, flows generally S., and at Pont Scorff, 6 miles cabalistic, occultist, Indian, and modern spiritualistic N.N.W. of Lorient, becomes navigable. Its total length ideas and formulas. The two leading text-books, Isis is about 47 miles. The Blavet has a length of about Unveiled (1877), and The Secret Doctrine (1888), both 87 miles, and a drainage basin of 646,000 acres. The compiled by Madame Blavatsky, are a mosaic of unac- traffic on the Blavet between Pontivy and Hennebont knowledged quotations from well-known works, as Mac- employed in 1899, 3233 boats, carrying 148,706 tons of kenzie’s Masonic Cyclopaedia, King’s Gnostics, Zeller’s merchandise, chiefly combustible minerals, metallurgical Plato, the works on magic by Dunlop, Salverte, Ennemoser, products, building materials, wood, and manure. and Des Mousseaux, but above all from the mystical writBI ay don, a town in the Chester-le-Street parliaings of Eliphas Levi. She took great pains with A Glossary of Theosophical Terms (1890-92), compiled for mentary division of Durham, England, on the Tyne, 5 the benefit of the “ flap-doodles,” as in moments of candour miles W. of Gateshead by rail. There are parish churches she called her disciples. But the appearance of Home’s and Methodist chapels. The chief industries are coalLights and Shadows of Spiritualism (1877) had a pre- mining, iron-founding, pipe, fire-brick, chemical manure, judicial effect upon the propaganda, and Heliona P. and bottle manufactures. Area of urban district, 9339 Blavatsky (as she began to style herself) sought temporary acres; population (1881), 10,687; (1901), 19,617. obscurity in India. Thence she contributed some clever Bleibergf (“ Lead Mountain ”), a commune composed papers, “ From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan,” to of five villages at the foot of the Dobratsch, 9 miles W. the Russky Vyestnik. Defeated in her object of obtaining of Villach, in Carinthia, Austria, one of the richest leademployment in the Kussian secret service, she resumed mining centres in Europe. The ores comprise silver-free her efforts to gain converts to theosophy. For this galena, sulphate of zinc, and calamine. In 1891 the total purpose the exhibition of “ physical phenomena ” was found yield was 33,922 metric centals of lead ore, and 25,536 m.c. necessary. The jugglery which she practised was cleverly of zinc ore. In addition to the mining and smelting works