I have been asked to write anything known to me personally about the writing of The Secret Doctrine by H.P.B. As but little time was then spent by me in the company of the author, what I have to say is meagre. If I had been with her as much when The Secret Doctrine was being put together as I was when she was writing Isis, very great benefit would have accrued to myself, and in view of a letter she wrote me from Wurzburg, I have some regret that the opportunity offered was not availed of.
When the plan for The Secret Doctrine had taken definite shape in outline in her mind, H.P.B. wrote me several letters on the subject, one of which I will quote from:
Wurzburg, March 24th, 1886. Dear W.Q.J. I wish only you could spare two or three months and come to me at Ostende where I am emigrating again, to be nearer to ---- and friends. I have some money now and could easily pay your fare out and back. There's a dear, good fellow, do consent to it. You will be working for the Society, for I want you badly for the arrangement of Secret Doctrine. Such facts, such facts, Judge, as Masters are giving out will rejoice your old heart. Oh, how I do want you. The thing is becoming enormous, a wealth of facts. I need you for calculations and to write with me. I can assure you, you will not lose time by coming. . . Do think of it, dear old boy. Yours sincerely, and affectionately, H.P.B.
This pressing invitation I could not accept because of certain circumstances, but on looking back at it I am sorry that it was let slip by. Other letters going into the matter of what was to be done and referring to old beginnings need not be quoted. One of them, however, reminds me of another period when The Secret Doctrine was in her mind, though I am not aware she had told anyone else. It was in Paris in 1884, where I had gone to meet her. We stopped in a house in the Rue Notre Dame des Champs, and for a shorter time at the country house of the Count and Countess d'Adhemar at Enghien near Paris. At Enghien especially, H.P.B. wanted me to go carefully through the pages of her copy of Isis Unveiled for the purpose of noting on the margins what subjects were treated, and for the work she furnished me with what she called a special blue and red pencil. I went all through both volumes and made the notes required, and of those she afterwards wrote me that they were of the greatest use to her. During our stay there several psychical phenomena took place seen by many persons. But every night while others were asleep I was often awake for several hours, and then in the quiet and the darkness saw and heard many things which no one else but H.P.B. knew of. Among these were hundreds of astral signal bells flying back and forth, showing -- to those who know the meaning under such things -- that much was on foot when people were asleep and the place free from disturbances of noise and ill-feeling common to the waking mortal.
At the house in Paris she worked all day and often far into the night on the book, and conversed with me about it. Sometimes she became changed in manner and much absorbed, so much so that automatically the famous cigarettes were lighted and then forgotten. In that way one night she lighted and let go out so many that I forgot to keep count.
One day I said to her that I would write the book entire, for a joke. She took me up seriously, saying that I might and she would see that I accomplished it, but I declined of course. This was in private, and there was no attempt at guying at all. The subject of elementals came up, and I asked her if she intended to give much on it. Her reply was that she might say something, but it was all sub judice as yet and must wait for orders, as it was not a quiet or harmless part of the thing.
She then asked me to write down all I knew or thought I knew on that head, and she would see if that much coming from me would be allowed to pass the unseen critics. A long chapter on Elementals was then done, nearly all by my pen, and she put it away for some time. The day that it was finished was warm and pleasant, and in the middle of the afternoon she suddenly grew absorbed once more. The air of the room at the same time was turned to the temperature of much below freezing, to judge by sensation, and I remarked on the fact. It was not a change of the weather at all, but seemed to blow out from H.P.B. as if she were an open door from some huge refrigerating store. I again drew her attention to it and said, "It feels as if a door was open on the Himalaya Mountains and the cold air was blowing into this room."
To this she replied: "Perhaps it is so," and smiled. It was so cold that I had to protect myself with a rug taken from the floor.
In about three days she announced that my small and inadequate chapter on Elementals had been of such a sort that it was decided she would not put much, if anything, into The Secret Doctrine on the subject, and mine was either destroyed or retained. It certainly is not in any part of the published volumes.
Speaking to those who know and believe that H.P.B. was all the time in communication with the Masters in their retreats somewhere on the globe, I can say that a serious series of consultations was held among them as to what should go into The Secret Doctrine, and that it was plainly said that the book was to be done in such a manner as to compel the earnest student to dig out many profound truths which in a modern book would be announced especially and put down in regular course. It was also said from the same source that this age, being a transition one in all respects, the full revelations were not for this generation. But enough was to be given out in the manner described, as well as plainly, to make it substantially a revelation. All students, then, who are in earnest will do well not to pass carelessly over the pages of any part of the book.
This is all I can say on the subject of the writing of this wonderful book. I only wish it were more, and can but blame myself that I was not present at a time when, as I know now, greater opportunity was offered than at any other period for inner knowledge of the writers, seen and unseen, of The Secret Doctrine.
From Reminiscences of H.P.B. and The Secret Doctrine, by the Countess Wachtmeister, pp. 88-91 (1976 ed.)