[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

"My First Meeting with William Quan Judge" by Katherine Tingley

Aug 30, 2006 06:38 PM
by danielhcaldwell

"My First Meeting with William Quan Judge" 
by Katherine Tingley

Long before I became Leader of the Theosophical Society I had seen 
much to convince me that we do not know what remedies to use for 
crime and poverty nor how to apply them. A terror grew in my heart, 
and I became sick and discouraged, because I saw so much cruelty and 
indifference: so much suffering and so little done to relieve it. To 
establish schools of prevention -- that was my dream. It was not 
born in a day but came after long experience of work among the 
destitute in New York, mostly on the East Side. It was impressed on 
my mind during many visits to the prisons there, and to Ellis 
Island, and in much rescue work among the unfortunates of the 

It was plain to see that little could be done really and permanently 
to help them. What was needed was a new system of education for the 
prevention of the conditions I met. To reorganize human nature when 
it had already lost faith and become awry and twisted, skeptical and 
cynical, seemed almost or quite impossible. I saw that the only way 
was to mold the characters of the children in the plastic first 
seven years of their lives and then, somewhat differently, on from 
seven to fourteen. 

These thoughts and feelings grew acute one bitter winter when the 
East Side was seriously affected by a strike of the cloak makers. 
Day after day these people were holding out for what they considered 
their rights, and the destitution had become terrible. They had no 
resources left and their children were on the point of starvation. 
One morning a baby died in its mother's arms at the door of the Do-
Good Mission, an emergency relief society I had established with its 
headquarters in an old tenement house in the region of greatest 
privation -- crowds used to come there daily for soup and bread and 
what else I could provide to help them. 

I remember that day well. Snow was falling when I started out in the 
morning to go down to the Mission to meet those discouraged persons 
in their poverty, an ordinary snowstorm that gave little warning of 
the tremendous blizzard that was to rage later in the day, the fury 
of which was beginning to be apparent when I arrived. In that fierce 
storm, now increasing momently, over six hundred women and children 
were waiting in the street for relief. They were but half-dressed -- 
they had pawned most of their clothes -- they were perishing with 
the cold; they were wailing out loud, many of them, and clamoring 
for help. 

The rooms we had taken were on the first floor -- the best we could 
get, though the house was old and ramshackle; and to have brought or 
tried to bring those six hundred in would have meant death for most 
or all of them. The landlord warned me most peremptorily that the 
floor would hardly bear the weight of fifty without collapsing and 
falling into the cellarage. And all the while the cry of those women 
was ringing in my ears. I could not send them away hungry, and it 
would be some little time yet before the food that was being 
prepared would be ready. 

There was nothing for it but for me to go out and talk to them, to 
keep them as well as I could in humor and patience while waiting. So 
I had a large grocery box placed on the sidewalk beside the door 
and, standing on it, told them why I could not ask them in and that 
the soup was not yet quite cooked and the bread not yet delivered 
from the baker's, but in a very short time both would be ready. All 
the while the crowd and the storm kept increasing, and with them my 
own distress, till I felt my heart almost at breaking-point to see 
so much keen misery and to know that all I could do was so 
wretchedly little, so ineffectual: to lift them out of their present 
trouble and keep them secure against as bad or worse tomorrow or the 
next day. 

Suddenly my attention was caught by a pale face on the outskirts of 
the crowd -- the face of a man standing under an umbrella, with his 
coat collar turned up and buttoned round his neck and his hat low 
down over his face -- clearly not one of the strikers; a gentleman, 
I thought, suddenly reduced to destitution and ashamed to come 
forward with the rest and ask for the food he sorely needed. A face 
fine of features and strikingly noble of expression, with a look of 
grave sadness, too, and of sickness -- caused by hunger no doubt. 
All this flashed through my mind in that one glance, and I turned to 
call one of our attendants to send her to him. But when I looked 
round again, he was gone. 

Two days later he presented his card at my home: it was William Quan 
Judge, a leader of the Theosophical movement and H. P. Blavatsky's 
successor. He told me he had read of my work among the poor and had 
gone down there to see it for himself. He had found it, so far, 
practical and valuable, he said; but also had divined my discontent 
with it and my hunger for something that would go much deeper, 
removing the causes of misery and not merely relieving the effect. 
It was then, when I came to know him, that I realized I had found my 
place. The more I became acquainted with him and with his work, the 
more I felt assured that some of my old dreams and hopes might yet 
come true. Fully and accurately to describe him would be beyond my 
power, he so stood out above the run of men in deep wisdom and lofty 
nobility of character. He had made theosophy the living power in his 
life, and none could be so bitter against him as to exhaust his 
tolerance or his compassion. 

It was he who first gave me glimpses of the power of thought and 
made me realize what it will do to build or ruin the destiny of a 
human being. And in doing so, he showed me how to find in theosophy 
solution of all the problems that had vexed me: how it points the 
way to the right treatment of the downtrodden and outcast of 
humanity, and to the real remedies for poverty, vice, and crime. On 
all these subjects the first word of theosophy is this: he who would 
enter upon the path that leads to truth must put new interpretations 
on the failings and mistakes of his fellowmen. He must come to 
understand the law of eternal justice -- karma, that "whatsoever a 
man soweth, that shall he also reap" -- and to know the necessity it 
implies for an unconquerable compassion, because those who fail and 
fall short do so always through ignorance. Crime is always the 
result of ignorance, and there can be no cure for it until this is 

Quoted from:


[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application