It is nearly fifteen years since I first made the acquaintance of William Q. Judge, the occasion of it being a letter that I had written to H. P. Blavatsky, which letter, after being answered at length, she had sent to her friend and representative in America. This acquaintance resulted in my application for membership in the Theosophical Society of which Judge was then Joint Recording Secretary, and, in due course of time, to my admission.
I shall not go into the details of the intimacy so begun. It is enough to say that, in these years, we have not once lost sight of each other, not once broken off communication. Once, during this time, for a short period, I quite misunderstood him, and, in consequence, doubted the sincerity of his motive in certain actions. It did not take long for me to satisfy myself that I was wrong, and nothing ever occurred to again shake my confidence in his absolute integrity of purpose. For some of the years of our acquaintance, our correspondence was regular and unreserved; but for the last four years, nearly, most of our communication has been personal, much of this period having been spent under the same roof. I have had good opportunity to study the character of the man and I do not hesitate to place my estimate of him on record.
To me, it appears almost unnecessary to write anything about the man who has so lately passed away. His work and his life have been far more eloquent than any words of mine can be, and such records should be enough to transmit his name to posterity along with those of the other teachers who have labored unselfishly for the human race. If any there be too blind to see that his life was devoted to others, and not to his personal interests, why labor to clear the vision of those who, after all, will not care to see?
There is not one act in the life of William Q. Judge that has come under my observation, that savors of selfishness or of a desire to further any personal end. He has been accused of ambition, and of taking unfair means to accomplish his desires; but it is only necessary to review the acts of his chief accusers to see that, in these accusations, they have voiced the desires and devices of their own hearts, and that the untruth and guile which his false friends sought to fasten upon him have flowed from their own lips and from their own pens in a flood as wide, as deep, and as black as the Styx of their combined and perverted imaginations. His life, during the last few years, has been a fight against the saddling of a priesthood upon the Society for which he lived. The cry of ”no theosophical Pope,” heard after the Boston Convention of 1895, was only the howl of chagrin set up by those whose plans for a Pope and an intellectual aristocracy had been defeated by this bold and necessary movement.
Perhaps I am not qualified to pass on the merits as an occultist of the man whose memory I hold in such grateful esteem; but I can, at least, speak of what has passed before my eyes in the ordinary affairs of life, and in these affairs I have invariably found him to be the soul of unselfishness, honor, generosity, and all the other virtues that men hold so dear in other men. The severity which some saw in him was on the outside, only. He was not always patient with folly and faintheartedness, yet even these drew from him pity rather than condemnation, and nothing except deliberate cowardice persisted in, and treachery to the Cause itself, seemed to place the offender outside the pale of his present sympathy and attention.
He was singularly free from the vice of constantly seeking to explain and justify his actions. He believed in doing the present good act, in carrying out the present good intention, leaving the result where it belonged. Even when something occurred which, apparently, called for particular explanation and justification, he usually neither explained nor justified. The most striking example of this, of which I have any knowledge, grew out of a letter that I received from him in 1887, in which letter was folded another on different paper and written, in blue, in the hand made so familiar by reason of the frequent “exposures” of “so-called Mahatmic messages.” The enclosure was directly in explanation of a matter that was no more than hinted at in Judge’s own letter, and when I wrote, making a jocular allusion to his effort at precipitating a letter for my benefit, he answered, in a direct, straightforward way, that he had done nothing of the kind and would not; but, contrary to his usual custom, he gave a theory of how such things might be accomplished. Some years afterwards we met in St. Louis and I showed him the letter and the enclosure. After turning the papers over for a moment he looked me straight in the face and said, in the simplest manner, “I can’t explain it. It’s a dead give-away.” And there the matter rested. But for my certain belief in his integrity I might have doubted him then, might have given some heed to the cry of “fraud” later. Years after the occurrence I found out, independently of Judge, the truth about the matter and my faith in his sincerity was abundantly justified.
Among all my friends and acquaintances, William Q. Judge was least wasteful of time. He seemed never to rest, for work was his rest. And yet he was not, in any sense, an unsociable man, and during a visit that he once made to Cincinnati where I first met him, he seemed more a schoolboy bent on having a good time than the man he really was. During the last few years, he seemed to become more and more absorbed in his work, and yet, much as he was struggling through, and it was enough to appall the ordinary hardworking man, he never hesitated to take on some other burden if it appeared to promise well for the movement in which he was so thoroughly wrapped up. Notwithstanding the busy life that he led, he was one of the most accessible men that I ever knew, and one of the few who was always ready to accept a suggestion. He did not know everything, and was aware of the fact, but he did know how to utilize the material that he found ready to his hand. If he could not get just what he wanted in help or in any other matter, he took what offered and made the most of it. He was intensely loyal to his friends and gave each one an opportunity to show their true color. That some who were supposed to be his friends finally proved otherwise is nothing to his discredit. He let them expose their own weaknesses, their own love of personality rather than principle, and when some of them mounted a highly moral platform that ill accorded with their own deeds in private life and wrote beautiful platitudes on “Truth and Occultism,” he hardly took the trouble to express the contempt that such Pharisaical utterances must have awakened in his mind.
Though he was always the same kindly friend to me, never in all these years writing or speaking a harsh word to me, I am aware that in his intercourse with the many people whom he met “the Irish boy” sometimes came between himself and others. To those who were a ware of the real inner life of the man this is enough explanation for the apparent contradictions and failings on the everyday plane of life that he shared in common with the rest of mankind. That he ever deliberately wounded or deceived any one is unthinkable to me, and there are yet others who knew him far better and more intimately than I. Let them speak, each for himself, each from his own standpoint, yet I feel that the summing up of it all will be: “One of the world’s benefactors and great friends has departed: he was our friend, he was the friend of all. If we are to show our appreciation of his friendship and his life we will try to carry on the work, each one according to his ability.” The matter is very plain, the opportunity is waiting for each one, and if I may be allowed to say it, I think that any work that comes to hand, no matter how slight it may appear, is much better than waiting for something grand to do. If the little tasks are shirked the grand ones will never come within our grasp.