Henry Kiddle

From Theosophy Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Henry Kiddle was an American educator with an interest in spiritualism, best known for accusing Mahatma Koot Hoomi of plagiarism. He was born on January 15, 1824 in Bath, England. During the years 1846-1856, he was principal of a grammar school. He became deputy superintendent, and later superintendent, of schools in New York City. However, in 1879, he was forced to resign due to adverse public reaction to his belief in spiritualism. That year, New York Authors' Publishing Company published a book called Spirit Communications - Presenting a Review of the Future Life, with Kiddle as editor. He died in 1891.[1]

The Kiddle Incident

On August 15, 1880, Mr. Kiddle gave a lecture at Mount Pleasant, New York convention, entitled "The Present Outlook of Spiritualism". This speech was published in the same month in Boston in the The Banner of Light magazine.

In December 1880 certain passages from this talk appeared in one of the Mahatma Letters received by Mr. Sinnett. In 1881, the latter published his book The Occult World, in which much of this letter was reproduced verbatim.

Mr. Kiddle read the book and, he claimed, wrote to Sinnett through his publisher, although it is possible that this letter was not received. On September 1, 1883, he wrote to Stainton Moses (M.A. Oxon), then editor of Light (Vol. III, No. 139, Sept. 1, 1883, p. 392), accusing Mahatma K. H. of plagiarism. Sinnett responded to this letter at once, from which resulted a great deal of correspondence.[2]

For some time the Mahatma did not bother to answer the charges of plagiarism, apparently attaching little importance to it. But seeing how distressed Sinnett was over the whole matter, he undertook to explain. Eventually, the Master allowed to refute the charges publicly without giving much explanation, only based on the fact that he had used Mr. Kiddle's sentences modifying them to express his own ideas, and therefore he was not plagiarizing concepts but only using well-constructed sentences in English to suit his own purposes:

Having distorted the ideas "appropriated", and, as now published — diverted them from their original intention to suit my own "very different purpose", on such grounds my literary larceny does not appear very formidable after all?[3]

Mme. Blavatsky published in The Theosophist an editorial entitled "Have we to Lower the Flag of Truce?" arguing on these lines.[4]

But in one of his letters the Master explained to Mr. Sinnett how this came to happen, although he asked the Englishman to keep the explanation to himself and a few other Theosophists. He wrote:

I had directed my attention some two months previous to the great annual camping movement of the latter [the American Spiritualists], in various directions, among others to Lake or Mount Pleasant. Some of the curious ideas and sentences representing the general hopes and aspirations of the American Spiritualists remained impressed on my memory, and I remembered only these ideas and detached sentences quite apart from the personalities of those who harboured or pronounced them. Hence, my entire ignorance of the lecturer whom I have innocently defrauded as it would appear, and who now raises the hue and cry.[5]

The case got more confused because the letter precipitated by a young and inexperienced chela omitted some passages where the Master made more explicit his reference to ideas of the American Spiritualists. He explained:

Well, as soon as I heard of the charge — the commotion among my defenders having reached me across the eternal snows — I ordered an investigation into the original scraps of the impression. At the first glance I saw that it was I, the only and most guilty party, — the poor little boy having done but that which he was told.[6]
The letter in question was framed by me while on a journey and on horse-back. It was dictated mentally, in the direction of, and "precipitated" by, a young chela not yet expert at this branch of Psychic chemistry, and who had to transcribe it from the hardly visible imprint. Half of it, therefore, was omitted and the other half more or less distorted by the "artist." When asked by him at the time, whether I would look it over and correct I answered, imprudently, I confess — "anyhow will do, my boy — it is of no great importance if you skip a few words." I was physically very tired by a ride of 48 hours consecutively, and (physically again) — half asleep. Besides this I had very important business to attend to psychically and therefore little remained of me to devote to that letter. When I woke I found it had already been sent on, and, as I was not then anticipating its publication, I never gave it from that time a thought.[7]
I, in this instance, having at the moment more vividly in my mind the psychic diagnosis of current Spiritualistic thought, of which the Lake Pleasant speech was one marked symptom, unwittingly transferred that reminiscence more vividly than my own remarks upon it and deductions therefrom. So to say, (the "despoiled victim's" — Mr. Kiddle's — utterances) came out as a "high light" and were more sharply photographed (first in the chela's brain and thence on the paper before him, a double process and one far more difficult than "thought reading" simply) while the rest, — my remarks thereupon and arguments — as I now find, are hardly visible and quite blurred on the original scraps before me.[8]

In letter 117 the Master offers the text as originally intended for comparison with the final precipitation (letter 12).

Online resources

Articles

Additional resources

Other resources

  • Neff, Mary K. The "Brothers" of Madame Blavatsky. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1932. See Chapter X, pages 97-116.

Notes

  1. Henry Kiddle at Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography.
  2. George E. Linton and Virginia Hanson, eds., Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett (Adyar, Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 236.
  3. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 117 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 397.
  4. The Theosophist, V:3(51), December, 1883, pp. 69-70.
  5. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 117 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 398.
  6. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 117 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 400.
  7. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 117 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 398.
  8. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 117 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 399.