To the Editor of the Religio-Philosophical Journal:
A late issue of your valuable paper contains a letter alleged to be from Trebizond, in which the writer makes much of what he calls a plagiarism upon Mr. Kiddle by "Koot Hoomi," citing a paragraph from a lecture by Mr. Kiddle, given Aug. 15, 1880, while the extract from Koot Hoomi's letter is of date 1881. The object of your Trebizond correspondent is to show that Koot Hoomi, an adept, is not to be believed because he has stolen an idea from Kiddle and passed it off on Sinnett as his own. It seems to me you devote much space to that endeavor, but it is given up to efforts to demolish a very common sentence, while no space is devoted to the other ideas put forth by Koot Hoomi. Perhaps your Trebizond gentleman can show that some other Spiritualist has enunciated all those views of moral rewards and punishments, reincarnation, a future state, cycles, etc., which have been the property of the Buddhist from time immemorial, and which are handed out again by Koot Hoomi and other Theosophists.
But, of course, neither he nor you can do this, unless you first sweep away the testimony of centuries and the declarations of such men as Rhys-Davids and Max Muller. Now as to the plagiarism:
1. It is not proven that Mr. Kiddle was the first to use the form of words adverted to.
2. It is an idea which has been common property for a long time, and has been used, in nearly identical words by others before Kiddle. Can you or Mr. Kiddle claim that, "Ideas rule the world," is an expression original with the gentleman? Is the clause: "It is just as impossible to resist their influx when the time comes as to stay the progress of the tide," also new with Kiddle? I think not. These very ideas and sentences I have used myself often before 1880 and have heard others use them.
In the inaugural address before the Theosophical Society, Nov. 17, 1875, (in print) the same ideas, inspired by Koot Hoomi may be found. In July 1880, a circular was written and printed in India for distribution through the Theosophical Society. It arrived here before Mr. Kiddle's lecture was reported and contains among other things, this: "Individuals count as nothing; the idea we represent is everything. Though an entire Branch of the Society should be obliterated . . . . this idea which has been set before the century would run through its entire career and work out its legitimate results."
Here is the same proposition in slightly different language but neither author can be accused of plagiarism.
Again, Mr. Editor, let me make the declaration that I knew of, and heard from, Koot Hoomi in New York in the beginning of 1875 to date, and have often heard the declaration contained in the Kiddle lecture repeated by Koot Hoomi orally and in writing, just five years before Mr. Kiddle's lecture. I have seen also in New York through 1875 up to 1878 phenomena performed by Koot Hoomi and other adepts, similar to those detailed by Mr. Sinnett. If you want an account I will let you have it. Finally, it may surprise you and "Whoomslambig," which I translate "W. E. Coleman," to know that there are many persons in America who know of, and firmly believe in, both the existence and the honesty of Koot Hoomi. In India there are thousands who know him, and who will thank you if you will print this letter as fairly as you printed that of the gentleman from Trebizond.
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE
We will say for Mr. Judge's information, that Mr. Wm. E. Coleman never saw the article referred to till he saw it in print in the Journal. -- Ed.
[From Religio-Philosophical Journal, January 5, 1884]