Old Diary Leaves – H S Olcott





SINCE I am to tell the story of the birth and progress of the Theosophical Society, I must begin at the beginning, and tell how its two founders first met. It was a very prosaic incident: I said “Permettez moi, Madame,” and gave her a light for her cigarette; our acquaintance began in smoke, but it stirred up a great and permanent fire. The circumstances which brought us together were peculiar, as I shall presently explain. The facts have been partly published before.
One day, in the month of July, 1874, I was sitting in my law-office thinking over a heavy case in which I had been retained by the Corporation of the City of New York, when it occurred to me that for years I had paid no attention to the Spiritualist movement. I do not

know what association of ideas made my mind pass from the mechanical construction of water-metres to Modern Spiritualism, but, at all events, I went around the corner to a dealer’s and bought a copy of the Banner of Light. In it I read an account of certain incredible phenomena, viz., the solidification of phantom forms, which were said to be occurring at a farm-house in the township of Chittenden, in the State of Vermont, several hundred miles distant from New York. I saw at once that, if it were true that visitors could see, even touch and converse with, deceased relatives who had found means to reconstruct their bodies and clothing so as to be temporarily solid, visible, and tangible, this was the most important fact in modern physical science. I determined to go and see for myself. I did so, found the story true, stopped three or four days, and then returned to New York. I wrote an account of my observations to the New York Sun, which was copied pretty much throughout the whole world, so grave and interesting were the facts. A proposal was then made to me by the Editor of the New York Daily Graphic to return to Chittenden in its interest, accompanied by an artist to sketch under my orders, and to make a thorough investigation of the affair. The matter so deeply interested me that I made the necessary disposition of office engagements, and on September 17th was back at the “Eddy Homestead,” as it was called from the name of the family who owned and occupied it. I stopped in that house of mystery, surrounded by phantoms and having daily

experiences of a most extraordinary character, for about twelve weeks—if my memory serves me.