The first and earliest impression I received from Madame Blavatsky was the feeling of the power and largeness of her individuality; as though I were in the presence of one of the primal forces of Nature.
I remember that the talk turned upon the great leaders of materialism,—then filling a larger space in the public eye than now—and their dogmatic negative of the soul and of spiritual forces. Madame Blavatsky’s attitude in the discussion was not combative, hardly even argumentative; still she left in the mind the conviction of the utter futility of material reasoning, and this not by any subtle logic or controversial skill, but as though a living and immortal spirit by its mere presence at once confuted the negation of spiritual life.
This sense of the power of individuality was not what one has felt in the presence of some great personality, who dominates and dwarfs surrounding persons into insignificance, and tyrannously overrides their independence. It was rather the sense of a profound deep-seated reality, an exhaustless power of resistance, a spirit built on the very depths of Nature, and reaching down to the primeval eternities of Truth.
Gradually apparent under this dominant impression of power, arose a subtle sense of great gentleness and kindliness, an unfailing readiness to forget herself entirely and to throw herself heartily into the life of others.
Another side of Madame Blavatsky’s character unfolded itself more slowly—the great light and piercing insight of her soul.
One was lulled, as it were, by the sympathetic personality, and tranquillized by the feeling of balanced power, so that at first this quality of inner light might remain unnoted, till some sudden turn of thought or change of feeling opened the eyes, and one recognized the presence of a denizen of eternity.
Everyone has noticed, in traveling through some wild and mountainous country, that the vast masses and depths of the hills and valleys are often hid and remain unapparent; the mind and eye are held by the gentler graces of nature, the trees, the birds, and the flowers; and some ridge is ascended imperceptibly, till suddenly the crest is reached, and the mind is startled by the vast perspective swiftly unfolded before it.
These startling, unexpected glimpses into profundity, I have often felt in Madame Blavatsky’s presence, when the richness and sympathy of her character had almost tempted one to believe her a fascinating personality, and nothing more.
All through her life, the dominant note of Madame Blavatsky’s character has been power: in early years, power without light; then later, power and light in equal balance. The earliest record of her life shows her as a strong and dominant personality, always deeply impressing herself on her surroundings, and overriding and dominating the personalities of others, imperiously, often tyrannically, yet with an ever-present imperious generosity and gentleness; a deep generosity of thought, an almost incredible generosity of action; a powerful personality, using its power often extravagantly, often unwisely, often unjustly.
Then the light dawned for her, and the chaotic strength of her nature was illuminated, harmonized, purified, and with the same dominant power she prepared to deliver her message to mankind, the message of the strong to the weak, of one who stood within the circle of light to those in the darkness without.
With unparalleled force, she asserted the soul; with transcendent strength she taught the reality of spirit, by living the life, and manifesting the energies of an immortal.
She cast herself with torrential force against the dark noxious clouds of evil and ignorance that envelope and poison human life; the rift in their leaden masses through which, high above, we catch a glimpse of the blue, bears testimony to the greatness of the power that rent them asunder.
She was a personality of such magnitude as to divide the world into her adherents and her opponents, leaving none indifferent between; the test of the force of her nature is as much the fierce animosity of her enemies as the loving devotion of her friends. Such was the power and dominance of her individuality, that, in comparison with hers, all other souls seemed inert.
An immortal spirit, she had the courage to live as an immortal spirit, and to subject material nature and the base forces of life to the powers of her immortality; she perpetually took her stand on the realities of spiritual nature, and consistently refused to admit the dominant tyranny of the material world.
And this dominant power and this clear interior light were united to a store of wonderful kindness, wonderful gentleness, and absolute self forgetfulness and forgiveness of wrong.
Nothing in her was more remarkable, nothing more truly stamped her as one of the elect, than the great humility of her character, ready to deny and ignore all its own splendid endowments, in order to bring into light the qualities of others. This humility was no mere affectation, no mere trick to call up admiration and wonder, but the profoundly sincere expression of her own nature; an expression as deep and real as Sir Isaac Newton’s comparison of himself, after a life of unequaled achievement, to a little child gathering shells by the shore of the ocean.
Madame Blavatsky’s nature was like a mountain torrent, having its source in some deep, clear lake above the clouds, and impetuously carrying down to the valleys the riches of the mountains, to spread them over the hungry and thirsty plains below; to give them new life and fertility, and the promise of a richer harvest in due season; and amongst the commoner gifts of the mountains, bringing now and then grains of gold and precious gems, and scattering them like Pactolus, over the sands of the valley; and ever and anon the dwellers of the valley, finding these rarer treasures, see in them the promise of the deeper wealth of the mountains, and vow to themselves never to give up the search for the great treasure until they die.
Such was Madame Blavatsky in her life; and now that she is dead, her death seems to have taken away from us half the savor of life; and her absence to have withdrawn one of the great incentives to living.
But to hallow the loneliness of her death, she has left us the great lesson of her life, a life true to itself, true to its Spirit, true to its God.
One who stood beside her, so calm and quiescent in death, could never believe that that torrential nature, that splendid power, had ceased to be; with the feeling of loss at her departure came the conviction far stronger than reason or logic that a power like hers could not be quenched by death, that a great soul like hers could never cease to be.
And so has gone from amongst us a soul of singular power, of singular light, of singular sweetness. Her life has given a new nobility to life; And Death has become more kindly by her death.