The proceedings at the cremation of the body of W. Q. Judge were of the simplest possible order. As he died on Saturday morning it was not easy to notify many members outside the vicinity of New York in sufficient time for them to attend the funeral on the Monday following. Nevertheless a very large number of members were present, including many from Boston, Bridgeport, Providence and other cities.
All day Sunday the body had lain in state at his residence, 325 West 56th Street, in the room in which he died. On Monday it was conveyed to 144 Madison Avenue, at noon, at which time the ceremony was to take place in the Aryan Hall. The coffin was carried into the Hall by the pall bearers—Messrs. Page, Fussell, Jas. Pryse, Jno. Pryse, Prater and Wright—and deposited on the platform, which was profusely decorated with flowers. All the chairs had been taken out of the Hall, the people standing to admit of more room.
Addresses were then made by Messrs. Wright, Hargrove and Jas. Pryse. Mr. Wright said:
“We assemble here today in this Aryan Hall, before the body of our brother and coworker, William Quan Judge, the founder of the Theosophical movement of this century, with H. P. Blavatsky and others. We meet for the purpose of bidding a temporary farewell to the spirit that has left its body. Yet we do not assemble as mourners—as those who believe the dead cannot return. We are not as they who believe the body is all there is of man. As Theosophists, and as this is a Theosophical gathering, we must above all things feel that we are simply meeting together to bid a farewell for a while. W. Q. Judge has been here on earth, has worked for this movement many times before, and he will come to work again. It is not for us to feel as if we had lost him forever. I am myself standing before a scene almost identical with that which took place at the death of H. P. Blavatsky in London, a few years ago, at a time when everybody felt very much as they do now. Many then believed that the Society would fall to pieces, but those were only weak-hearted persons who knew nothing of the real nature of this movement, and the Society surely did not fail, but increased in vitality. We must continue to feel as we have felt for a long time since, that the society depends on principles, not on personalities, and that even in the going away from us of a great master and brother we are still in the movement and it must go on unaffected by the death of all personalities. Death is as common as birth. People have been dying ever since the world began, and death cannot affect our onward march, and if it did, then it would only show that we depended on personalities and therefore were untrustworthy. We must only hold to the high principles, and even while we feel that deep sorrow which must inevitably come to everyone for the loss of so great a personality as was that of W. Q. Judge, yet we must hold fast to the fact and belief that the society will grow. It is known of every great adept that when his powers are withdrawn, his spiritual energies are distributed among all students. The energy centred in the one becomes spread among all; consequently everyone will have additional power to work from now on, and should himself endeavor to represent a living centre. In a recent number of The Path, Mr. Judge tried to inspire all with that idea—’Each member a centre,’ were his words.
And remember H.P.B.’s words: ‘So long as there are three persons willing to live in accordance with the real principles of the movement, so long will it live and prosper.’ Let there be, not only three, but hundreds of centres! Therefore there is no necessity nor right for anyone to feel loss of courage or strength; on the contrary, he is acting in an untheosophical way who allows such thoughts and feelings to enter into him.”
Mr. James M. Pryse then spoke as follows:
“Five years have fled since out of gloomy and smoke-begrimed London all that was mortal of H. P. Blavatsky was taken across the green fields to Woking and surrendered to crematorial flames. And as I wandered back, that day of brilliant sunshine, across those English fields that, clad in the tender green of spring and starred with daisies, scented to prophesy the joyous resurrection of all life, much of the sorrow in my heart was lifted, as I thought of our strong American brother who was hastening across the sea to bring us comfort and wise counsel. And now in my own land as I stand beside his cold clay, my heart is heavier than it has ever been before. Unwise are they who shrink from the chastening touch of sorrow. As Life has its lessons, so Death is a teacher, and the teachings of death can be understood only when sorrow for those who are lost has softened the human heart; for that is the one great need of humanity today—that the hardness and the selfishness of the heart shall be broken. So I think it is wise in this sense to sorrow for the dead. That is false in any philosophy or any religion which gives an evil comfort through teaching indifference to death, or seeks to harden the heart that goes out in yearning love toward those who are taken from us. But unselfish sorrow wastes itself not in useless repining, but stirs within us a strong desire to reach up into the deathless world where those whom we loved have gone, softens us to deeper sympathy with humanity, and strengthens us in our power to help and comfort those around us. This, our brother, has gone from among us. Therefore let our tribute of mourning resolve itself into an indomitable will to carry on the work he began and in which he was our leader. Let us build this Society up as an imperishable monument through ages to come, to H. P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge.
“Through long years I looked upon him as my truest friend and teacher. No other is there in this world whom I have loved so much, none to whom I owe so deep a debt of gratitude. In lives long past I knew and followed him; in lives to come I shall find and follow him still. His was ‘the strong deep heart like the hearts of old’; and though well I know that he is one who in times past conquered death and could say, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O Death is thy sting? Where, O grave is thy victory?’—still, in this hour of loss and loneliness, I would dwell only on the human side of life, that human nature that suffers and seeks consolation. This, our brother is gone. He whom we loved has left us. “To him we gave the proud title of the ‘friend of all creatures.’ Let us each strive to be, like him, a friend of all that lives and breathes; let us carry on unweariedly the work for which he and H. P. Blavatsky laid down their lives, and let us show by our deeds that the teaching of his life, and the still greater teaching of his death, has not been wasted upon us.”
Mr. Hargrove said:
“Brothers and Sisters, Friends:
“I am to speak to you today in order to give you a short account of the death of our friend and teacher. You all know quite well that his illness was a long one. You will know that as long as he thought it his duty to struggle for life, he fought the battle—a battle that none of us could have fought. He fought for life from day today, from minute to minute, till he knew that the battle was over; not lost, but gained in the truest sense. He tried various climates to see if his illness could be cured by any change of air, and then he returned to New York, knowing that death was certain, and preferring to die in this city of his adoption than elsewhere.
“In the hour of his death he was surrounded by friends, and by every possible solace. He was nursed to the last by a faithful and devoted wife. His death was painless. He told me himself very shortly before he died that for several days past he had been very little in his body, and certainly when the last breath of life left it he was not there; he was looking on at all that was taking place.
“One person who had been constantly with him during the last weeks of his illness, but who was absent when the moment of departure came—a person who loved him with a perfect love—cried out ‘thank God that he is dead,’ on being told of what had happened. And this feeling must be shared by all who know how much he suffered before he left us. So much for the dead. Now for the living.
“His last message to us was this: ‘There should be calmness. Hold fast. Go slow.’ And if you take down those words and remember them, you will find that they contain an epitome of his whole life-struggle. He believed in Theosophy and lived it. He believed because he knew that the great Self of which he so often spoke was the eternal Self, was himself. Therefore he was always calm.
“He held fast with an unwavering tenacity to his purpose and to his ideal.
“He went slow, and never allowed himself to act hastily. He made time his own, and he was justice itself on that account. And he had the power to act with the rapidity of lightning when the time for action came.
“We can now afford to console ourselves because of the life he lived, and should also remember that this man, William Quan Judge, had more devoted friends, I believe, than any other living man; more friends who would literally have died for him at a moment’s notice, would have gone to any part of the world on the strength of a hint from him. And never once did he use that power and influence for his own personal ends; never once he ask anyone for a cent of money for himself; never once did he use that power, great as it was not only in America but in Europe, Australasia and elsewhere as well, for anything but the good of the Theosophical movement.
“A last word: a few days before his death he said to me ‘There is no need to worry, for even if I die the movement is a success.’ It is a success; but it is for us to make use of this success; and I think that if we want to pay a tribute to the life arid final sacrifice of W. Q. Judge, we can best do so by carrying on the work for which he lived and died.” The body was then carried out of the Hall and conveyed to the crematory at Fresh Pond. About eighty members gathered in the little chapel attached to the crematory while Mr. Wright read over the coffin a few words addressed by W. Q. Judge to a friend two years before, when seriously near death”
“There is no room for sorrow in the heart of him who knows and realizes the Unity of all spiritual beings. While people, monuments and governments disappear, the self remains and returns again. The wise are not disturbed; they remain silent; they depend on the self and seek their refuge in It.”
The body was then cremated.
C. F. W.