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Theos-World Henry Kiddle and Plagiarism

Nov 18, 1999 09:00 PM
by D.Caldwell/M.Graye


Thanks for your comments below.

You mention the Kiddle Incident and some readers
might want to peruse some of the articles on this subject.
They have been reprinted at Blavatsky Archives Online
at this URL address:


----- Original Message -----
From: W. Dallas TenBroeck <>
To: Daniel H. Caldwell <>
Sent: Thursday, November 18, 1999 7:19 PM
Subject: Re: Theos-World: R. Taylor on a very disturbing issue ....

> Nov 19th 1999
> RE: Mine of Nov 13th on R. Taylor 2nd Chapter (draft) Thesis on
> BN
> Dear Daniel:
> An additional thought has occurred to me in regard to what I
> wrote there.
> It has to do with the method of drawing together the material on
> which the Adepts and HPB made comments, or on which they desire
> to present important views.  And, the method used for putting
> those views and ideas together for us to read and think about.
> Mahatma ..... wrote:  "You have seen by the Kiddle
> incident...that even an "adept" when acting in his body is not
> beyond mistakes due to human carelessness...all thro' lack of
> simple caution.  There is always that danger if one has neglected
> to ascertain whether the words or sentences rushing into the
> mind have come all from 'within' or whether some may have been
> impressed from 'without.'  ...I had no time to verify their
> contents--nor do I now.  I have a habit of often quoting, 'minus'
> quotation marks--from the maze of what I get in the countless
> folios of our Akasic libraries, so to say--with eyes shut.
> Sometimes I may give out thoughts that will see light years
> later;  at other times what an orator, a Cicero may have
> pronounced ages earlier, and at others, what was only pronounced
> by modern lips but already either written or printed--as in the
> Kiddle case.  All this I do (not being a trained writer for the
> Press) without the smallest concern as to where the sentences and
> strings of words may have come from, so long as the serve to
> express, and fit in with my own thoughts."  [ML 324]
> The "Kiddle" incident concerned a man with that name who, after
> the book was published, claimed that some of the passages that
> Mr. Sinnett quoted from the Mahatma's letters and used in his
> book:  THE OCCULT WORLD were his originally.
> Writing again to his correspondent on some of the pearls of
> wisdom that might occasionally be discovered by readers despite
> the unshaped and unpolished style and appearance of the early
> issues of the THEOSOPHIST, He comments (in part) :  "But let your
> attention be rather drawn to the few pearls of wisdom and 'occult
> truths' to be occasionally discovered...And who knows, how many
> of those, who, undismayed by its unprepossessing appearance...may
> find themselves rewarded some day for their perseverance !
> Illuminated sentences may gleam out upon them, at some time or
> other, shedding a bright light upon some old puzzling
> problems...yourself you may, perchance, perceive in them the
> unexpected solution of an old, blurred "dream" of yours, which
> once 'recalled' will impress itself in an indelible image upon
> your 'outer' from your inner memory, to never fade out from it
> again.  all this is possible, and may happen..." [ ML 278 ]  Is
> this not a broad hint as to the value of the "Heart" doctrine?
> and its relation to the literal dry word-transmission -- the
> "Eye" doctrine ?  What patience and perseverance may be needed by
> the disciple to uncover from such texts these keys to soul memory
> ?
> The matter of picking up words and ideas was asked about by Mr.
> Sinnett, and evoked this response at one time:  "Quotation from
> Tennyson?  Really cannot say. Some stray lines picked up in the
> astral light or in somebody's brain and remembered, I never
> forget what I once see or read.  A bad habit.  So much so, that
> often and unconsciously to myself I string together sentences of
> stray words and phrases, before my eyes and which may have been
> used hundred years ago, or will be hundred years hence, in
> relation to quite a different subject.  Laziness and real lack of
> time." [ML 286]
> Reviewing, and criticizing some of the writing in ISIS UNVEILED,
> he wrote: "If M. told you to beware trusting ISIS too implicitly,
> it was because he was 'teaching you truth and fact'--and that at
> the time the passage was written we had not yet decided upon
> teaching the public indiscriminately...Many are the subjects
> treated upon in ISIS that even HPB was not allowed to become
> thoroughly acquainted with;  yet they are not contradictory
> if--"misleading."  To make her say--that the passage criticized
> was "incomplete, chaotic, vague. . .clumsy as many more passages
> in that work" was a sufficiently "frank admission" I should
> think, to satisfy the most crotchety critic.  To admit "that the
> passage was wrong," on the other hand, would have amounted to a
> useless falsehood, for I 'maintain' that it is 'not' wrong;
> since it conceals the 'whole' truth, it does not distort it in
> the fragments of that truth as given in ISIS."  ML 182
> Reverting to the subject of plagiarism, we can find Him saying in
> some detail:  "I am accused of "plagiarism.".  We of Tibet and
> China know not what you mean by the word,  I do, but this is no
> reason, perhaps, why I should accept your literary laws.  Any
> writer has the privilege of taking out whole sentences from the
> dictionary of "PAI-WOUEN-YEN-FU" the greatest in the world, full
> of quotations from every known writer, and containing all the
> phrases ever used--and to frame them to express his thought.
> This does not apply to the Kiddle case which happened just as I
> told you.
> But you may find, perchance throughout my letters twenty detached
> sentences which may have been already used in books or MSS.  When
> you write upon some subject you surround yourself with books of
> references etc.:  when  we write upon something the Western
> opinion about which is unknown to us, we surround ourselves with
> hundred of paras:  upon this particular topic from dozens of
> different works--impressed upon the Akasa.  What wonder then,
> that...even myself--should use occasionally a whole sentence
> already existent, applying it to another--our own idea?  I have
> told you of this before and it is no fault of mine if your
> friends and enemies will not remain satisfied with the
> explanation...For the 'Kiddle' business it is you own fault.  why
> have you printed the OCCULT WORLD before sending it to me for
> revision?  I would have never allowed the passage to pass...'We
> are not infallible, all-foreseeing "Mahatmas" at every hour of
> the day,' good friend...."  ]ML 364]
> We are thus given an idea and an explanation concerning the
> possibility of copying stray phrases and words from various
> authors.  Obviously the intention has never been to steal those
> or use them for any other purpose than accuracy of expression.
> In mine of Nov. 13th to you, I said (in part):
> "She (HPB) states in many places that she was writing on behalf
> of (or even under the dictation of) the Masters of Wisdom,
> whether one "believes" in them or not -- Olcott and Wachmeister
> (among others) make corroborating reports of this, and she says
> so repeatedly.  [ They (the Masters) have also authenticated this
> fact to Dr. Hubbe-Schleiden --- see PATH magazine, April 1892,
> Vol. 8, pp. 1-3 ].  She also says that much if not all she wrote,
> was supervised or reviewed by them.  She does say in regard to
> ISIS that the proof-readers made errors...Her writing might be
> criticized, as she did herself, and her own critique ought to be
> offered for the consideration of the reader.  [In regard to Mr.
> R. Taylor's draft ]  I would also add that if he had first
> consulted you, you could have pointed this out to him...."
> I bring this forward as otherwise it might leave the impression
> that the Mahatmas connived or were also guilty of "plagiarism" or
> of "stealing" another's words, or of condoning such a practice
> habitually.  They speak for themselves.
> With best wishes,
> Dallas
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