IT is somewhat difficult to say what real or theosophical work is when exactly defined, and, in consequence, it becomes very easy to speak of an effort as untheosophical — that is not sufficiently unselfish in motive. The fact is that the word Theosophy has such a very wide meaning, embracing, as it does, the true spirit of all creeds and religions, and confining itself to none in particular, that no work done in the spirit of truth and wisdom is really untheosophical. Hence, unless the speaker is possessed of more knowledge than ordinary men concerning the causes which underlie our actions, the application of the word untheosophical is incorrect. In fact, if it is once granted that it is possible to work from an impersonal standpoint in favour of a particular creed or religion, that work becomes theosophical in character. Thus it is only work (in the widest sense of the word and on all planes) from the personal standpoint, and which, therefore, militates against Universal Brotherhood, which can really be described as untheosophical. But this by no means presupposes that work which has outwardly the appearance of theosophical genuineness is not really selfish. It is, of course, the old story of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. We do but need one example — the truly-called profession of Medicine. We constantly hear of the wonderful self-sacrifice of medical men; of men who die at their posts rather than desert a possible case in times of epidemic and cholera; of men who suck tracheotomy tubes with almost certain death by diphtheria staring them in the face; finally we hear, though but seldom, of the honest, earnest devotion of a lifetime in places and districts where the fees are so small that it is barely possible for the doctor to live on his earnings. These are the heroes of the profession. Their work, for the most part, consists of an unselfish devotion to the alleviation of suffering, culminating in a final sacrifice of their personal selves — for death is nothing less than this. But we must turn to the less favourable side of the picture — the struggle not for a living, but for wealth, and work, fired by ambition and the search for fame. Of course, apart from the personal, selfish element in it, the ambitious struggle in other professions than those of the Church or Medicine is of no great or unnatural harm; but in these two cases it is more than harmful, it is a degrading betrayal of trust. It is Simonism with a vengeance; yes, kind friends, it approaches very nearly to the case of Judas, who held the bag, and betrayed his Master with a kiss. It may be asked why this sweeping denunciation is made of the two noblest professions; of those two which, considered from the ethical standpoint, consist of devotion to the service of man ? The reason [Page 268] is not very far to seek. The power which true healers possess — healers, alike of body and soul, is not one which can be sold for money or bartered for wealth and fame. At least, if the possibility does exist, it bears a suspicious resemblance to the old idea of selling one’s soul to the devil in exchange for power and prosperity. It may be replied to this that there is no harm in bartering knowledge of drugs, of pathology, diagnosis of disease, surgical skill, etc. — in short, all the knowledge acquired by education — for money. I answer No! for it is material given for material, and nothing more. But these are not the sole properties of the true healer, and those who do not possess these other properties I speak of are not healers, and while they may profess medicine [So medicine is, in the Shakespearian use of the word, and also from its Greek derivation, not to give drugs, but to cure or heal.] and may be in it, are yet not of it.
As regards the Church and its professors of religion, the case is even worse; they have no material products of education to barter, and for the most part are contented with telling their flock to “do as I bid you, and not as I do”. But among them there are noble examples of unswerving unselfishness and devotion, although for the most part those who enter the Church are too young to understand fully the nature of their high calling. Unfortunately the call in too many cases is not a call to minister and heal souls, but to make a living and heal the souls in the process. But again, it may be asked, what are these wonderful powers which constitute the true healer, and which are not to be bought or sold ? The first one which occurs naturally to the mind is the power of sympathy. The old joke in Punch about “the good bedside manner” has a considerable substratum of truth when divested of its unpleasing folly. The substratum of that manner is that which is given by sympathy; and this is one of the first elements which constitute the power of healing. It gives the power of suffering with the patient and therefore of understanding what the sufferer is enduring. It is beyond diagnosis, although it assists it by being much surer — at least, as to the reality of the suffering. But this power of sympathy only expresses a part of the meaning of the power to heal. Sympathy tends to annihilate the personal distinctions between the healer and the sufferer; it tends to exalt the consciousness of the healer not only to know the remedy for the disease, but to be himself the power of cure, and also it is a vast occult power in virtue of which all the “elder brethren” of the Universal Brotherhood live their lives; in virtue of which the world’s great enlighteners have not only lived their lives but lived their death, in order that they might benefit the sufferers who despised and rejected them. But this power of sympathy and the kindred powers which constitute the true healer, are really secret powers and secret remedies. Therefore they are openly tabooed by the medical profession, although the said professors cannot avoid using them. But secret remedies are to some degree justly avoided. For it is but [Page 269] natural to regard secret remedies with suspicion. At best their use seems like working in the dark and blindly, and, consequently, any results obtained must be empirical. Again, the medical profession seems to plume and feather itself upon possessing a slight leaven of its ideal condition, and, by constituting itself into a kind of trades union, declines as a body to have anything to do with any remedy of which the composition is not made fully known. This, at least, is the more charitable view, for, on the other hand, the doctors know only too well how eagerly the public rushes after any new “quack” medicine, and seeks to cure itself without calling in their aid. The doctors reply to this that they will have nothing to do with a medicine whose composition is a secret, and which is therefore devoted, to a great extent, to replenishing the purse of its discoverer, and not to the cure of diseases from a love of man and a hatred of suffering. This is a very high-sounding idea, and a noble one, when it is not what the Americans would call only “high-falutin”. But even when a remedy is made public property, it is not necessarily pro bono publico; in fact, as a rule, it serves only the good of the dispensing chemist. He sees the prescription and notes it, the public does not; and, as a rule, the chemist obtains the drugs cheaply, and compounds them at the same rate as this medicine was originally sold under the patent of its discoverer. Still, with all the dislike of the profession for secret remedies, there is no doubt at all that in the case of the heads of the profession some of the best results are obtained by the use of prescriptions, which practically constitute a secret formula. The especial combination which the particular man has discovered to be of use is his property, and his only until he writes a book, for the various chemists who make it up, and the various patients who drink it, are not to the full aware of its value and use. The difference between this and quack medicine lies merely in the peculiar names and large advertisements, but very often these are balanced by the fame of the particular surgeon or physician. But, in all honour to physicians and surgeons, who do in many cases have and show a large-hearted sympathy for suffering, it must be remembered that many of the greatest and busiest of them give hours of their valuable time to those who are too poor to pay in any other form than that of grateful thanks. There are, again, others who disregard all the rules which govern trades’ union society, and boldly take their stand upon Christ’s dictum, that “the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath”. In other words, they say that any medicine which they personally find valuable in the alleviation of pain and disease must be used even at the risk of themselves being called “unprofessional”. Again, others will use these so-called secret remedies, and say nothing about it, preferring to pin their faith to the wittily termed eleventh commandment, “Thou shalt not be found out”. At this point it is possible to draw a parallel between the use of the terms “un-theosophical” and “unprofessional”. It would seem that both are used [Page 270] in very much the same trades’ union sense. In the case of the word “unprofessional”, it is to be regretted that it is due very largely to a lack of charity and of the spirit of enquiry. In the case of the word “untheosophical” it is often used in consequence of a lack of charity, and further in the spirit of scandal and gossip. Unless a man or woman is a theosophist pure and simple, who carries out in theirentirety, the objects of the Theosophical Society, the use of the word untheosophical betrays them to be untheosophical and to fail in carrying out those objects which they have promised to further to the best of their power.
In the light of the foregoing it is now possible to examine the manner in which Count Mattei’s remedies have been received. The Count himself is a member of a noble family of Bologna, he has travelled much, but returned there in 1847, and took part in the movement which led to the liberation of Italy. In early life he much wished to study medicine, but was prevented from doing so by his father’s wish. Still his desire for knowledge was not quenched, and he attempted to follow the bent of his own mind. He rightly concluded that the instincts of the lower animals would lead them to search for herbs and plants which would cure their ailments, and that careful observation of these instincts might disclose medicines of the greatest value to human sufferers. Thus he adopted the habit of taking walks in the company of a number of dogs which were suffering from various diseases, and carefully watched their proceedings. Gradually the new pharmacopoeia assumed shape, and the instinct of the dogs showed that particular diseases were met by particular remedies. These observations were made more than sixty years ago, and were not forgotten amid the occupations of a busy life. Indeed, when those occupations became less, Count Mattei returned with ardour to his earlier studies. He became a deputy in the Roman Parliament, but retired into private life after finding that his political views were not those of the men by whom he was surrounded. After this retirement the Count devoted himself to the study of medicine, in order that he might fit himself to apply certain principles which he believed he had discovered to be valuable for sick and suffering humanity. By his own account and the testimony of his patients he was not deceived, and the present remedies which bear his name are the result of twenty-five years’ unceasing labour and experiment. He rapidly acquired an enormous practice, and during the early years of it his advice and his medicines were entirely gratis. But an unfortunate combination of circumstances, as well as the expense entailed by the preparation of the remedies, rendered it necessary for the Count to demand some small remuneration for his services. Then he learned that his bounty was abused, and that certain doctors, who had asked and obtained the remedies from him, departed from Bologna and retailed the remedies at extravagantly exorbitant prices. To such an extent was this carried that there exist authentic cases where a thaler was demanded for a single globule, and for the [Page 271] globules (20-30) necessary to give a bath, 1,000 francs were asked in New York. Some idea of the extortion may be given when Count Mattei refers to the thaler price as being 1,350 times the price at Bologna. This would be enough to justify any amount of secrecy on Count Mattel’s part, more especially as that secrecy entirely prevents the adulteration of the medicines which would inevitably follow, were they to become commercial property.
We have only too familiar an example in the ranks of the medical profession. Many of his confreres have been appealed to for the support of a physician, named Warburg. At this date it seems hardly possible to believe that this gentleman was the happy discoverer of Warburg’s Fever Tincture. Perhaps in this country the value of the compound was not so highly appreciated as in India. But it is impossible to open any treatise on either surgery or medicine which is about twenty years old and not find the use of Warburg’s tincture specially urged in all cases of high fever, and especially in cases of malarial fever and pyaemia. The compound had an enormous sale, and yielded a very substantial income to its discoverer, but as soon as he yielded to the pressure of professional opinion, and consented to publish his formula so that it might obtain an extended use, he obtained the reward of such philanthropy. Every chemist now prepares the prescription and sells it at very nearly the original price, and what is more, never refunds a fraction of a farthing in the shape of a royalty to the discoverer. Consequently, we have before us the edifying spectacle of the learned discoverer compelled to exist on the charity of his professional confreres. Count Mattei has, at all events, protected himself against this, for although he states that in the event of his death he has provided against the loss of his secret to the world, and intends to leave it carefully as a legacy to suffering humanity, there is not the slightest doubt that he alone is the possessor of his own secret. That it is possible to obtain wealth from using this system is very evident. Certain among the chief of his followers are in the habit of visiting London at intervals, and the number of those who consult them is really wonderful. I am assured by an eye-witness that the crowd is far beyond that which besieges the door of the most fashionable physician of the day. When one reads the literature of the subject, one becomes more and more astonished at its simplicity. All diseases resolve themselves into three main forms, and constitutions vary accordingly. There are sanguine and lymphatic constitutions, and the various combinations of these two; there are also febrile disturbances and diseases of the liver and spleen. Consequently there are three chief medicines, which are used in an extraordinary state of dilution. It is no use, here at least, to discuss the value of these infinitesimal doses, so that may be left for future discussion. To a professional mind the most extraordinary claim on Count Mattel’s part will be that of curing cancer by [Page 272] internal and external medicines, and wholly without the use of the knife. He claims positively to cure every case in which the cancer has not ulcerated, and to cure a large proportion even of those which have already done so. Even of those which have been neglected, and have remained long in the ulcerated state, he claims to restore a certain proportion (though not a large one) to health. Of course, to any man who has seen the difficulty which attends the early diagnosis of cancer, these claims are very high-sounding indeed — almost to absurdity. The difficulties which attend diagnosis, even almost to the time when the knife has been used, and the tissue submitted to the microscope, are very great. But in Count Mattei’s second division there is no such difficulty. It is then possible by certain indications, as well as by the use of the microscope, to be sure of the nature of the disease. Here Mattei steps in and claims that, by the use of one of his medicines, which exerts an electric influence on cancer, and by one of what he terms his vegetable electricities, he can restore the sufferer to health. Surely conservative surgery, if it be worthy of the name, will investigate such a claim. Of the vegetable electricities there is no doubt whatever. Cases of neuralgia and sciatica and particular rheumatic pain have been seen to yield to them as to magic; consequently, even in the last stages of cancer, when there is no refuge save the grave left to the sufferer, I have reason to believe Count Mattei, to some extent, when he claims to enable the said sufferer to sink gently away in full consciousness, and without the use of morphia.
To those who know anything of the occult uses and powers of plants, the fact that Count Mattei gathers his herbs at particular phases of the moon, will convey a good deal of meaning. Further, they will feel an additional assurance as to their value, and will no longer wonder, on one side at least, that Count Mattei chooses to keep his secret. It would seem probable to some extent that Count Mattei is one of the “elder brethren” of the race, although how far he is consciously so may be a matter for speculation, which could only be set at rest by Mattei himself and his compeers and superiors. What is definitely certain is that his system of medicine in its theories, if not in its practice, is a distinct step in advance in the healing art. Mattei is one of those pioneers of advance who spend the greater part of their lives in introducing for public use a secret of which they have become possessed. Mr. Keeley, of Philadelphia, [The discoverer of the new power now known as the Keeley motor and inter-etheric force ] appears to be another of those pioneers who are in advance of their times. But Mr. Keeley, in his work, resembles Friar Bacon, who blessed (?) the world with gunpowder. No doubt civilization has been enormously extended by its aid; but however much use it may have been to man in adapting the face of nature to his service, it has at any rate subserved the gratification of his passions. Count Mattei appears [Page 273] to have none of these “defects of his qualities”, and to have endeavoured to bless the world without giving to it attendant curses. Still it is always possible that when his secret shall become known it will draw attention to plants which have just as destructive and poisonous an influence as the plants and herbs he uses have of healing power. At all events, at present his secret is of use to the world, and so far as may be seen he makes a just and “brotherly” use of it. Has enough been said above to show that the fact that his medicines are “secret” compounds should be no barrier to their use ? What is still more important is that true theosophists should recognise that Count Mattei has done what they endeavour to do, and devoted his life to Real Work.