Matthew Webb on SECRET DOCTRINE Vol. 3 (1897)
- Matthew Webb in his article on THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Vol. 3 (1897)quotes the following passage from the book titled THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT1875---1925: A HISTORY AND SURVEY:--------------
. . . The utter disappearance without a trace left behind, of the genuine Third and Fourth Volumes of the “Secret Doctrine” remains to this day an unrevealed mystery. And as to Mrs Besant’s spurious “Third Volume,” her own Preface alone is ample to convince any careful student, able to sift statements, that it is nothing more than a hodgepodge of rejected manuscripts, “literary remains,” private papers originally issued to the E.S.T. [i.e. the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society, later renamed “Eastern School of Theosophy”] during the lifetime of H.P.B., and largely rejected manuscript of the first volume of the Original Edition. … It is matter from that rejected manuscript which is incorporated in Mrs Besant’s “Third Volume.” And – notable phenomenon – the fact is admitted by Mrs Besant herself in The Theosophist for March, 1922 – twenty-five years after the event. Why did she concoct this spurious “Third Volume” in the first instance? And why did she in 1922 let slip the truth which in 1897 she not only suppressed, but replaced by an untruth?
But one may ask as one reads the above: Where is the primary source evidence showing that the material found in the first 432 pages of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Vol. 3 (1897) is nothing but a "largely rejected manuscript of the first volume of the Original Edition" of THE SECRET DOCTRINE?
The anonymous authors of THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT 1875---1925: A HISTORY AND SURVEY do NOT provide this necessary evidence. And surprisingly Matthew Webb does NOT provide this evidence either. All we find in the article under review is MERE ASSERTION.
In regards to the assertion that the first 432 pages of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Vol. 3 (1897) is "largely rejected manuscript of the first volume of the Original Edition" of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, one need only turn to my own article on SD Vol. 3 which has been on the web for many years to find a great deal of material that would show that the assertion above quoted and supported by Matthew Webb may not accurately portray the true history of how H.P. Blavatsky wrote THE SECRET DOCTRINE and that the historical facts, etc. are quite different.
For example, here is the important testimony of Bertram Keightley about H. P. Blavatsky's manuscript of THE SECRET DOCTRINE:
A day or two after our arrival at Maycot [in May, 1887], H.P.B. placed the whole of the so far completed MSS. in the hands of Dr. [Archibald] Keightley and myself....We both read the whole mass of MSS.--a pile over three feet high--most carefully...and then, after prolonged consultation, faced [HPB]...with the solemn opinion that the whole of the matter must be rearranged on some definite plan....
Finally we laid before her a plan, suggested by the character of the matter itself, viz., to make the work consist of four volumes....
Further, instead of making the first volume to consist, as she had intended, of the history of some great Occultists, we advised her to follow the natural order of exposition, and begin with the Evolution of Cosmos, to pass from that to the Evolution of Man, then to deal with the historical part in a third volume treating of the lives of some great Occultists; and finally, to speak of Practical Occultism in a fourth volume should she ever be able to write it.
This plan was laid before H.P.B., and it was duly sanctioned by her.
The next step was to read the MSS. through again and make a general rearrangement of the matter pertaining to the subjects coming under the heads of Cosmogony and Anthropology, which were to form the first two volumes of the work. When this had been completed, and H.P.B. duly consulted, and her approval of what had been done obtained, the whole of the MSS. so arranged was typewritten out by professional hands.... [in Reminiscences of H. P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine, by Countess Constance Wachtmeister et al., Quest edition, 1976, pp. 78-9; also quoted in de Zirkoff, SD Intro., 41]----------------So as Bertram Keightley tells us, the order of the volumes of The Secret Doctrine was rearranged. Volume I became Volume III.There is no reference here to a "largely rejected manuscript of the first volume of the Original Edition" of THE SECRET DOCTRINE but simply to a REARRANGEMENT of the 3 manuscript volumes.This is only one piece of testimony that is relevant to the issue under discussion. Much other material can be found in my article on the web at:Unfortunately, Matthew Webb's article doesn't refer to any of this relevant detailed primary source evidence or to my article containing all of it. His readers therefore are put at a disadvantage.As H.P. Blavatsky herself once wrote:--------------"...Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate things at their right value; and unless a judge compares notes and hears both sides he can hardly come to a correct decision."