H.P.B. at Enghien
Lucifer, July, 1891
In the spring of 1884, H.P.B. was staying in Rue Notre Dame des Champs, Paris, and in the house were living Col. Olcott, Mohini M. Chatterji and the writer. Part of the time Bertram Keightley was also there. As always since I have know H.P.B. during the past seventeen years, she was there as elsewhere engaged daily with her writing, save for an occasional drive or visit. Many visitors from all classes were constantly calling, and among the rest came the Countess d’Adhémar, who at once professed a profound admiration for H.P.B. and invited her to come to the Château owned by the Count at Enghien, just outside the city, including in her invitation myself and Mohini Chatterji. Bertram Keightley was also invited for a few days. The invitation was accepted and we all went out to Enghien, where H.P.B. was given two large rooms downstairs and the others slept in rooms on the upper floors. Every convenience was given to our beloved friend, and there she continued her writing, while I at her request carefully read over, sitting in the same room, Isis Unveiled, making indices at the foot of each page, as she intended to use it in preparing the Secret Doctrine.
A lake was at one side of the house and extensive grounds covered with fine timber hid the building from the road, part being a well kept fruit and flower garden. A slight description of the rooms is necessary. Wide stairs led up to the hall; on one side, which we may call the road front, was the billiard room, the high window of which opened upon the leaden roof of the porch; the dining room looked out at the back over the edge of the lake, and the drawing room opened from it on the other side at right angles to the side of the billiard room. This drawing room had windows opening on three sides, so that both garden and lake could be seen from it. In it was the grand piano at the end and side opposite the dining room door, and between the two side windows was s marble slab holding ornaments; between the windows at the end near the piano, was the fireplace, and at that corner was one of the windows giving a view of the lake, Every evening it was the custom to spend some time in the drawing room in conversation, and there, as well as in the dining room, took place some phenomena which indeed were no more interesting than the words of H.P.B., whether those were witty, grave or gay. Very often Countess d’Adhémar’s sister played the piano in a manner to delight even H.P.B., who was no mean judge. I remember well one melody, just then brought out in the world of Paris, which pleased her immensely, so that she often asked for its repetition. It was one suggestive of high aspiration and grandiose conceptions of nature. Many lively discussions with the Count on one side and H.P.B. on the other had place there, and often in the very midst of these she would suddenly turn to Mohini and myself, who were sitting listening, to repeat to us the very thoughts then passing in our brains.
Count d’Adhémar did not ask for the production of phenomena, but often said that could he and a few of his friends be convinced about Theosophy perhaps much good would result in France. Some us us desired in our hearts that in the home of such kind friends phenomena might occur, but none suggested it to H.P.B. But one day at dinner, when there were present the Count and Countess, their son Raoul, H.P.B., Mohini, the Countess’ sister, myself, and one other, the strong and never-to-be-forgotten perfume which intimate friends of H.P.B. knew so well as often accompanying phenomena or coming of itself, floated round and round the table, plainly perceptible to several and not perceived either before or afterwards. Of course many skeptics will see nothing in this, but the writer and others well know that this of itself is a phenomenon, and that the perfume has been sent for many miles through the air as a message from H.P.B. or from those hidden persons who often aided in phenomena or in teachings. At this dinner, or at some other during the visit, we had all just come in from the flower garden. I had plucked a small rosebud and placed it upon the edge of the tumbler between myself and the Countess’ sister who was on my left, H.P.B. being seated on my right. This lady began to talk of phenomena, wondering if H.P.B. could do as related of the Indian yogis. I replied that she could if she would, but did not ask her, and added that she could make even that small rosebud bloom at once. Just then H.P.B. stretched her hand out towards the rose, not touching it, and said nothing, continuing at once her conversation and the dinner. We watched the bud until the end of the meal and saw that it grew in that space of time much larger and bloomed out into a rose nearly full grown.
On another evening after we had all been in the drawing room for some time, sitting without lights, the moon shining over the lake and all nature being hushed, H.P.B. fell into a thought state. Shortly she rose and stood at the corner window looking over the water, and in a moment a flash of soft light shot into the room and she quietly smiled. Reminding me of this evening the Countess d’Adhémar writes in this month of June:—
H.P.B. seemed wrapped in thought, when suddenly she rose from her chair, advanced to the open window, and raising her arm with a commanding gesture, faint music was heard in the distance, which advancing nearer and nearer broke into lovely strains and filled the drawing room where we were all sitting. Mohini threw himself at H.P.B.’s feet and kissed the hem of her robe, which action seemed the appropriate outcoming of the profound admiration and respect we all felt toward the wonderful being whose loss we will never cease to mourn.
This astral music was very plain to us all, and the Count especially remarked upon its beauty and the faintness of it as it sank away into the unknown distance. The whole house was full of these bell sounds at night when I was awake very late and others had retired, They were like signals going and coming to H.P.B.’s room downstairs. And on more than one occasion as we walked in the grounds under the magnificent trees, have they shot past us, sometimes audible to all and again only heard by one or two.
The lead roof of the portico was a place where after dinner we sometimes sat, and there on some of those delightful evenings we were joined by the Countess Wachtmeister, who afterwards did so much for the comfort of H.P.B. at Würzburg and other places. Many chats were held there about occultism. In one of these we were speaking of images in the Astral Light and H.P.B. said: “Well, you know that it moves as other things in Kosmos do, and that the time comes when it floats off, as it were, letting another mass of the same ‘light’ take its place.”
It was with a feeling of some regret that we left this delightful place where such quiet reigned and where H.P.B. was able to work amid the beauty and the stillness of nature. It cannot be blotted from the memory, because there our friend and teacher was untroubled by the presence of curiosity seekers, and thus was free to present to us who believed in her a side of her many-sided nature which pleased, instructed and elevated us all.
One incident remains to be told for which we must depend on others. I took away with me a book which could not be finished there, and just before leaving France went out to Enghien to return it. There I met the Countess d’Adhémar, who said that the peculiar and unmistakable perfume of which I spoke above had come in the house after we had all left. It was one evening about two days after H.P.B.’s departure and the d’Adhémars had some friends to dinner. After dinner they all went into the drawing room and soon noticed the perfume. It came, as they said to me, in rushes, and at once they began to hunt it out in the room, coming at last to the marble slab described, where, from one spot in the stone, they found the perfume rushing out in volumes. Such was the quantity of it that, as the Countess said to me, they were compelled to open the windows, since the odor was overpowering in larger masses. In returning to Paris I told H.P.B. of this and she only said: “It sometimes happens.”