Materials on the Master's Visits to England and Paris

More Source Materials on the Master's Visits to England and Paris

By John Taylor; 2006 August 05

It is coming up to the time when all good Canadian Baha'is are thinking about the Master's visit to our land. The official days slated for celebrating this great event in our history is late August and early September.

In preparation for this time, I have scanned in some currently written source materials from Star of the West magazine on the Master's trips to England and France.

The first two selections can also largely be found in "`Abdu'l-Baha in London," though while correcting the OCR errors I noticed at least one minor editorial correction of this text that was made in the book version; there may be more.

The article on the Master's visit to Paris is by Mary Ford, a Westerner who spoke Persian and had visited Him in Akka earlier on. This as far as I can see, is unique and not found elsewhere. It is nice introduction to Paris Talks, offering several priceless details about the Master's time there. After this introduction, she collects together partial notes for several Paris addresses of the Master that she had attended. I include here only the first two. For purposes of comparison, I also include a full copy of the full version of the first talk. This she says was recorded separately by Assadu'llah and his notes in Persian formed the basis for Paris Talks, which I believe was translated by Laura Clifford Barney. Ford does not give dates, but the Paris Talk does gives a date: October 21, 1911, which is the day after a day later declared as "UN Day." As far as I can see, the second talk that Ford entitles "The Earth is God's," does not seem to have been included in Paris Talks. As you can see, its wording is very strong, stronger even than in the better known talk of the day before.

"The poor have given their lives to the greed of others."

I end with some background material on this conflict, called by Ford the "Battle of Benghazi." On October 3, 1911, when the Master was still in England, Italian troops had invaded Libya and landed at Tripoli, facing resistance from Libyans and Turkish troops. This attack was an act of naked aggression, an unprovoked colonialist land grab. The Master deplores the violence and bloodshed but avoids making political statements. Recall that only a few months earlier He had stayed for a year not so very far from the site of this battle, in Ramala, Egypt. In spite of the greed and guilt of the Italians, most people in the West sided with them.

ABDU'L-BAHA at Bristol (Star of the West)

(SW, Vol. 2, No. 11, p. 8, 11; reprinted from The Christian Commonwealth of September 27, 1911)

Last Saturday afternoon Abdul-Baha arrived from London with a few friends to spend the week-end at the Clifton Guest House. After a rest he expressed the wish to see the country around Bristol. What impressed him most was the fresh. green of the woods and fields, the spaciousness of the open downs, and the absence of smoke.

He was present at the evening meal and warmly greeted those who had gathered together to welcome him. After commenting upon the peacefulness of the house he contrasted the costliness of material feasts with the pure simplicity of this meal, where the all pervading spirit was that of love and friendship between East and West. There were nineteen at table and on hearing it 'Abdul Baha remarked that nineteen was a good number (held sacred by the Baha'is) and that this meal would go down to posterity as a matter of history. It was afterwards proposed to send to the believers at Teheran a message of united gratitude for the presence of Abdul-Baha, in response to the generous greeting that they had sent on their part to the followers in England. The same evening about eighty friends assembled to listen to the words of the great Persian teacher. Mr. Tudor Pole took the chair and introduced him by a few words on the Baha movement. Abdul-Baha then rose and spoke with impressive dignity, Tamaddon Ul Molk translating:--

The master says that he has come from very far to see you, and that you are very welcome. He praises God that after forty two years of imprisonment for the faith he is able to come to you. Abdul-Baha then continued: "These people are very spiritual, with hearts looking towards God, waiting for the glad tidings. They have come through the power of the Holy Spirit, therefore we thank God. May he send you straightforwardness to guide you to your holy mountains and blessed places; the Truth has come, let its holy springs water you. It is evident that day follows night, and after dawn the sunset. Just as the sun sets and rises and sets again, so Jesus Christ appeared on the horizon of this world like a sun of Truth, bringing light and joy to the whole world. But the people now are not in such close touch with his spirit; their religion and faith are not so strong. The people are searching after material things instead of looking forward to the kingdom. Again God has sent light and truth into the world. The heavenly star has appeared in Persia; a new spiritual illumination is now penetrating throughout the world (the result of Bahau'llah's teaching). The great light shall spread through all lands." Abdul Baha said that our hearts should become as mirrors and be ready prepared for the glad tidings of the dawning at a new age. Jesus Christ said that we should be born again through the spiritual fire and love of God and be baptized by the water of life and the Holy Spirit, that we may obtain everlasting life. Abdul Baha went on to say: "Be very kind and serve every one; become lovers of justice and pray for the whole of mankind; help the poor and the children; heal the sick; shelter the refugees; and be known by your lives as the children of God; so may that sun become the light of the world, casting its radiance upon East and West May the world become a new world; may war and slaughtering cease and the most Great Peace come. God help you to spread this Divine teaching, and to establish everywhere the characteristics of Jesus." He then prayed as follows:

"0 God, these people are your servants; they turn their faces to you to receive the manifestations of your bounty. Brighten all these hearts and bless their souls. Give them new life to follow your teachings. Let them enter into your kingdom, and bestow on them the blessing of the Holy Spirit. Open their eyes to the light and help them to serve mankind. Thou art a powerful giver and merciful. God bless you all.

After asking the people if they were happy he left the room. Tamaddon Ul Molk then gave a short account of the Bahais and the terrible sufferings they had under gone for their faith. He spoke of some of the martyrdoms which he had himself witnessed. Mr. Tudor Pole then spoke of the great Persian lady, a poetess, QurratulAin, of whom an account appeared in The Christian Commonwealth of September 13. After a few questions were asked the gathering closed. Abdul Baha stood in the doorway and shook hands with everyone, wishing them Godspeed.

Sunday being a glorious day, Abdul Baha went driving both morning and afternoon; he walked on the downs, and spoke with many of the little children whom he met. Later he gathered together the servants of the house, spoke to them of the dignity of labour, and thanked them for their work. He then went over the Clifton Guest House, and blessed it as a centre for pilgrims from the West and East, saying tat it would become truly both a guest house and a rest house indeed.

Abdul-Baha returned to London on Monday, and Bristol is the only provincial city that he has visited during his present stay in this country. He leaves England early next week.

Farewell to England (Star of the West)

(SW, Vol. 2, No. 13, p. 4-5; reprinted from The Christian Commonwealth of Oct. 4, 1911.]


On the morning of Oct. 2nd, Abdul-Baha breakfasted with the Lord Mayor of London at the Mansion House. The Lord Mayor said to him that he considered London to be greatly honoured by having such a guest. The next morning Abdul-Baha left for Paris and is residing in a nice flat taken for a month or so, near the Trocadero and Arc de Triomphe. -Arthur Cuthbert.


Impressive Meeting in London.

At the invitation of Mrs. Thornburgh-Cropper about two hundred representative people met in the hall of the Passmore Edwards' Settlement, Tavistock Place, last Friday evening to bid farewell to Abdul Baha Abbas on the eve of his departure for Paris. Arriving in London on Monday evening, September 4, he has spent a happy and busy four weeks in our midst. Except for a brief visit to Bristol last week, he remained at 97, Cadogan Gardens. His time was mainly occupied in interviews with people who wished to meet him. These included not a few whose names are household words in this country, and some travelled long distances to see him.

A beautiful spirit prevailed on Friday evening. The atmosphere was very different from that of an ordinary meeting or religious gathering. Everyone present was enriched by the lofty spiritual tone of the proceedings; the notes struck were all in the direction of Brotherhood, unity, peace. While a report of the speeches would give a very inadequate idea of the effect produced, yet they were so well-conceived, so sincere, so exquisitely phrased as to, be all worthy of reproduction. Among others, Ameer Ali Syed wrote regretting his inability to be present, and Archdeacon Wilberforce sent affectionate greetings.

After the Lord's Prayer and prayers for Unity of Baha'u'llah and Gelasius (V. century), Professor Michael Sadler spoke as follows:-

We have met together to bid farewell to Abdul Baha, and to thank God for his example and teaching, and for the power of his prayers to bring Light into confused thought, Hope into the place of dread, Faith where doubt was, and into troubled hearts the Love which overmasters self-seeking and fear. Though we all, among ourselves, in our devotional allegiance, have our own individual loyalties, to all of us Abdul Baha brings, and has brought, a message of unity, of sympathy, and of peace. He bids us all be real and true in what we profess to believe; and to treasure above everything the Spirit behind the form. With him we bow before the hidden name, before that which is of every life the Inner Life! He bids us worship in fearless loyalty to our own faith, but with ever stronger yearning after union, brotherhood, and love; so turning ourselves in spirit, and with our whole heart, that we may enter more into the mind of God, which is above class, above race, and beyond time.

Prof. Sadler concluded with a beautiful prayer of James Martineau.

Mr. Eric Hammond said the Bahai movement stood for unity: one God, one people; a myriad souls manifesting the divine unity, a unity so complete that no difference of colour or creed could possibly differentiate between one manifestation of God and another, and a sympathy so all-embracing as to include the very lowest, meanest, shabbiest of men; unity, sympathy, brotherhood, leading up to a concord universal. He concluded with a saying of Baha'u'llah, that the divine cause of universal good could not be limited to either East or West. Miss Alice Buckton said we were standing at one of the springtimes of the world, and from that assembly ~f representatives of thought and work and love would go out all over the world influences making for unity and brotherhood. The complete equality of men and women was one of the chief notes of Bahai teaching. Sir Richard Stapley pointed out that unity must not be sought in the forms and externals of religion, but in the inner spirit. In Persia there has been such an impulse towards real unity as was a rebuke to this so-called Christian country. Mr. Claude Montefiore, as a Jew, rejoiced in the growth of the spirit of unity, and regarded that meeting as prophetic of the better time to come, and in some sense a fulfillment of the idea expressed by one who fell a martyr to the Roman Catholic faith, Sir Thomas Moore, who wrote of the great Church of the Utopians, in which all varieties of creeds gathered together, having a service and liturgy that expressed the higher unity, while admitting special loyalties. Mrs. Stannard dwelt on what that meeting and the sentiments expressed meant to the East, especially to the women, whose condition it was difficult for the West to understand. Tamaddon-ul-Molk testified to the unifying effect the Bahai movement had had in Persia, and of the wonderful way in which it had spread to America and other countries.

Then "The Master" rose to give his farewell address. An impressive figure, the face rather worn, but the eyes full of animation, he stood for about fifteen minutes, speaking in soft, musical Persian. From time to time he gently stroked his white beard, and with hands extended, palms upwards, he closed with a prayer:-

o noble friends and seekers for the Kingdom of God! God be praised! we see the light of love is shining in the East and the West, and the tent of intercourse is raised in the centre of the world for the drawing together of hearts and souls. The call of the Kingdom has gone all over the world. The annunciation of the world's Universal Peace has enlightened the world's conscience. My hope is that by the zeal and ardour of the pure-hearted, the darkness of hatred, and differences will be entirely abolished, and the light of love and unity will shine more brightly. This world shall become a new world. Things material will become the mirror of the Kingdom, human hearts will meet and embrace each other. The whole world shall become as a man's native country, and different races shall be counted as one race. Then disputes and differences will vanish, and the Divine Beloved will be revealed in the society of mankind. It is because the East and the West are illuminated by the One Sun, all races, nations, and creeds are the servants of the One God. The whole earth is one home, and all peoples are bathed in the ocean of God's mercy. God creates all. He gives sustenance to all. He guides and trains all under the shadow of his bounty. We must follow the example God himself gives us, and do away with all these differences and quarrels. Praise be to God! the signs of friendship are appearing, and a proof of this is that today I --an Easterner-- in the London of the West have received extreme kindness, regard, and love, and I am deeply thankful and happy. I shall never forget this time I have spent with you. I leave you with extreme regret, and with prayers for you, that all the beauty of the Kingdom may be yours.

The translation of the valedictory having been read by Professor Sadler, Abdul Baha closed the meeting by giving his blessing in undulating rhythmic tones.

By the time these lines appear Abdul Baha Abbas will have left our shores, but the memory of his gracious personality is a permanent possession, His influence will be felt for many days to come, and has already done much to promote that union of East and West for which many have long yearned.

With Abdu'l-Baha in Paris, By Mary Hanford Ford

(Star of the West, Vol. 2, No. 13, p. 3)

To one who has visited Abdul-Baha in his prison home at Acca, the delight of seeing him in the western world is almost indescribable. I was not so fortunate as to be with him in London, but I had the good fortune to arrive in Paris shortly after he reached that city, and for two weeks I was able to see him every morning.

He rented his own apartment in Paris, and a little fair, pleasant faced French maid presided over its domestic functions. and answered the bell.

"This is my home and the home of my friends," said Abdu'l Baha, and everyone was admitted here without question, no matter to what cult or nationality he belonged, no matter how shabby were his clothes. A background of Persian men was always present, for all the Persians in Paris apparently camped in the home of Abdul Eaha during his stay there, but besides the Persians there were French, Germans, English, Hindus, and a large sprinkling of Americans, among whom the tall figures of Mr. Woodcock and Mr. Mills were always noticeable.

Abdul-Baha, of course, paid all his own expenses in Paris, and the apartment he rented was a commodious one provided with the best modern conveniences, and containing a great drawing room which could easily accommodate from seventy live to a hundred people.

Here the interested ones gathered every morning between ten and twelve, though it was whispered that even before dawn eager seekers were admitted to private interviews with Abdul-Baha, and naturally those who did not wish to be seen entering his house came in the early hours.

Abdul Baha speaks only the Oriental tongues, but lie understands all that is said in any language, and in Paris his wonderful words were translated by M. Dreyfus into especially perfect French. The lithe company assembled at No. 4 Avenue de Camoens never knew exactly at what time the eagerly expected one wean appear. Sometimes he came joyfully, waving a good morning to all, or best of all, greeting each one with a warm hand clasp. At other times, when there had been bad news from the seat of war in Tripoli, lie would enter with sadness written upon his eloquent countenance, and it was on such occasions that he gave the two little talks on war that I send you.

Sometimes his address was very short but always his presence was so stimulating that no one had the slightest consciousness of disappointment when he arose and left the room. Abdul Baha is like a great magnet drawing together the noblest forces of nations and individuals. He is purely synthetic, not analytic, and his cohering power is enormous he focalizes the temperament of every listener. The stimulus of his presence in this way is something quite indescribable; it must be experienced to be comprehended. But if one did not understand Persian or French, the electric contact with Abdu'l Baha and his marvelous and poetic utterance would be sufficient to transform phlegmatic materialism into spiritual possibility.

The effect of this electric presence was that of clear and prodigious thinking which swept away like cobwebs all trivialities of sect and disunion, and pierced through to the divine harmonies which unite one to God and his neighbor. Everyone who listened to Abdul Baha must have realized that this was no sectarian founder of a cult. This was a spiritually endowed messenger whose message touched all mankind, who came out of his prison to remind men of the mighty lessons God has spoken to lift us out of barbarism and cruelty, from war to peace, and that in this day we must follow even the letter of these heavenly lessons.

So he spoke always of peace, always of conduct, giving to his own followers definitions of their mission which were very positive, and must have sounded a trifle strange to some who perhaps may have retained a slightly sectarian bias, even under the inspiration of this divinely dowered Prophet of Unity.

"You are a society banded together for the increase of friendship among nations and races, and of brotherhood among men," lie said one day, waving his hand toward the circle before him, and constantly he adjured us to realize the privilege that was ours in being first to receive the "Breeze of God" which must always rise in the East and blow towards the West, and which is now floating again from that wonderful Orient into the faces of the expectant Occident.

It was exceedingly interesting to watch the faces of those who came each morning to listen to Abdu'l Baha and observe the gradual but evident change of thought which took place in them so that hard lines gave way before invading gentleness and light irradiated countenances and eyes which previously had considered only material difficulties. I have not time to recall the countless instances of this sort. They were, of course, always intensified by an interview with Abdu'l Baha himself. Sometimes people stayed with him three minutes, sometimes half an hour, for there were many waiting to speak with him. The time of the interview did not matter much and I never shall forget a dear little friend who is cashier of a big business house in Paris. She is devoutly unselfish, and eager only to do her utmost for every one. She had a three minute interview. As she entered, Abdu'l Baha advanced toward her with his hands outstretched.

"Ah, you are aflame! You are alive!" he cried. 'How happy I am. when people come to me who are alive not dead!"

Then he took her hands and said to her just the tender and inspiring words she needed, assuring her that God would always guide her. She was only in his room three minutes, but she came out with a look upon her face I shall never forget.

Each day I was in Paris I went into the big shop where she was cashier, and the lovely look was still upon her face. I am sure it will never leave her.

I send you the striking passages from some of the talks given by Abdul Baha while I was in Paris. My versions are, of course, not complete or perfect. Mirza Assad Ollah, who was present, carefully took down Abdul Baha's words in Persian, and they will no doubt be translated and given us later. My own translations are merely the result of notes taken at the time and are necessarily incomplete. But certain significant words were of great moment and these I always preserved.

The two points Abdu'l-Baha seemed desirous of impressing upon his hearers especially were the fact that man has freed himself from the trammels of material conditions through the use of his spiritual gifts, and that possessing this power he should apply it for good, for the establishing of a perfect civilization, the abolition of cruelty and injustice, and the institution of love as the absolute rule.

To attain this he insisted it is only necessary to think right, and again and again, in various modifications he repeated the wonderful words: "While they make war, you think peace; while they create destruction, you think construction; while they are guilty of cruelty, you think tenderness!"

Talk on the Battle of Benghazi

(SW, Vol. 2, No. 13, p. 4)

I am not happy this morning, I am full of sadness. The news which the paper brought us was such as must fill one with anguish.

Animals fight, and when they fight it is for a cause, an end to be gained.

Men are fighting now, for what? For the ground, our sepulchre, our tomb, our cemetery!

The earth is the first and lowest of terrestrial things created by the Divine Will and it is our tomb, our sepulchre, our cemetery; our death, not our life -- and these men are fighting not for liberty or an ideal, but for ground, for the place of death not life, for a sepulchre, a tomb, a cemetery!

God has never forgotten the world, and no matter how black have been its conditions, there have always been societies established for the cherishing of love and equality and fraternity.

You are a people banded together to increase friendship among nations and races and brotherhood among men. So now, while these men are creating death, you think life, while they are guilty of cruelty, you think tenderness, while they make destruction, you think construction, while they create war, you think peace.

We must hope, we must not despair. We must look forward to the time when war and dissension will disappear, when love and unity will reign, and the light of God will shine upon all banners and into all hearts, and unite them to one another and to Him.

The Earth is God's (SW, Vol. 2, No. 13, p. 5)

There has been another battle today and much blood has been shed. The poor have given their lives as a sacrifice to the greed of others. Men are fighting for the earth -- for land -- and it belongs to no one but God. Kings have fought for it from Charlemagne to Napoleon I, yet they had no right to it. One fought wrongfully to wrest it from another who wrongfully possessed it. All people are merely tenants of God upon the land, yet nevertheless empires have disappeared in the struggle for its possession, and again men are shedding blood for die ownership of mere land.

While man might become a centre for good, for amity, he fights like ferocious beasts for the right to land.

God wishes man to establish just equality, not to transgress laws, to help one another and live together in love. Do what God asks, be the cause of unity and peace wipe out the horrors of war and hatred!

Be ye capable of all good, eager to work for the cause of unity and peace, sacrificing all for this. Be eager to suffer for such an end. Forget yourself, forget personal danger, personal evil and inconvenience. Have no fear of evil to yourself in the great cause of unity and peace. Be dissolved in love, so that you may lose consciousness of everything except the good of all.

The Pitiful Causes of War and the Duty of Everyone to Strive for Peace (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 27-30)

October 21st

'Abdu'l-Baha said:

I hope you are all happy and well. I am not happy, but very sad. The news of the Battle of Benghazi grieves my heart. I wonder at the human savagery that still exists in the world! How is it possible for men to fight from morning until evening, killing each other, shedding the blood of their fellow-men: And for what object? To gain possession of a part of the earth! Even the animals, when they fight, have an immediate and more reasonable cause for their attacks! How terrible it is that men, who are of the higher kingdom, can descend to slaying and bringing misery to their fellow-beings, for the possession of a tract of land!

The highest of created beings fighting to obtain the lowest form of matter, earth! Land belongs not to one people, but to all people. This earth is not man's home, but his tomb. It is for their tombs these men are fighting. There is nothing so horrible in this world as the tomb, the abode of the decaying bodies of men.

However great the conqueror, however many countries he may reduce to slavery, he is unable to retain any part of these devastated lands but one tiny portion -- his tomb! If more land is required for the improvement of the condition of the people, for the spread of civilization (for the substitution of just laws for brutal customs) -- surely it would be possible to 29 acquire peaceably the necessary extension of territory.

But war is made for the satisfaction of men's ambition; for the sake of worldly gain to the few, terrible misery is brought to numberless homes, breaking the hearts of hundreds of men and women!

How many widows mourn their husbands, how many stories of savage cruelty do we hear! How many little orphaned children are crying for their dead fathers, how many women are weeping for their slain sons!

There is nothing so heart-breaking and terrible as an outburst of human savagery!

I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.

Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness.

When soldiers of the world draw their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other's hands! So may all the savagery of man disappear by the Mercy of God, working through the pure in heart and the sincere of soul. Do not think the peace of the world an ideal impossible to attain!

Nothing is impossible to the Divine Benevolence of God.

If you desire with all your heart, friendship with every race on earth, your thought, spiritual and positive, will spread; it will become the desire of others, growing stronger and stronger, until it reaches the minds of all men.

Do not despair! Work steadily. Sincerity and love will conquer hate. How many seemingly impossible events are coming to pass in these days! Set your faces steadily towards the Light of the World. Show love to all; 'Love is the breath of the Holy Spirit in the heart of Man'. Take courage! God never forsakes His children who strive and work and pray! Let your hearts be filled with the strenuous desire that tranquillity and harmony may encircle all this warring world. So will success crown your efforts, and with the universal brotherhood will come the Kingdom of God in peace and goodwill.

In this room today are members of many races, French, American, English, German, Italian, brothers and sisters meeting in friendship and harmony! Let this gathering be a foreshadowing of what will, in very truth, take place in this world, when every child of God realizes that they are leaves of one tree, flowers in one garden, drops in one ocean, and sons and daughters of one Father, whose name is love!

Article from Wikipedia

The Italo-Turkish or Turco-Italian War (also known in Italy as guerra di Libia, "the Libyan war" ) was fought between the Ottoman Empire and Italy from September 29, 1911 to October 18, 1912.

Italy seized the Ottoman provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, together known as Libya today, as well as the Isle of Rhodes and the Greek-speaking Dodecanese archipelago near Anatolia.

Although minor, the war was an important precursor of the First World War as it sparked nationalism in the Balkan states. Seeing how easily the Italians had defeated the disorganized Ottomans, the members of the Balkan League attacked the Empire before the war with Italy had ended.

The Italo-Turkish war saw numerous technological advances used in warfare; notably the aeroplane. On October 23, 1911, an Italian pilot flew over Turkish lines on a reconnaissance mission, and on November 1, the first ever aerial bomb was dropped on Turkish troops in Libya.

Banghazi (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Also spelled Benghazi, Italian Bengasi city and major seaport of northeastern Libya, on the Gulf of Sidra. It was founded by the Greeks of Cyrenaica as Hesperides (Euesperides) and received from the Egyptian pharaoh Ptolemy III the additional name of Berenice in honour of his wife. After the 3rd century AD it superseded Cyrene and Barce as the chief centre of the region; but its importance waned, and it remained a small town until it was extensively developed during the Italian occupation of Libya (1912-42). In World War II Banghazi suffered considerable damage, and, after changing hands five times, it was finally captured by the British in November 1942.

Banghazi is Libya's second largest city and is an administrative, commercial, and educational centre. It is the site of several national government buildings, as well as the Gar Younis (formerly Benghazi) University (founded 1955). Local industries include salt processing, oil refining, food processing, cement manufacturing, and tanning, brewing, and fishing. Fresh water is provided by one of the world's largest desalinization plants. Benina International Airport is 20 miles (32 km) east of the city. Roads connect Bangh?z? with other Libyan centres on the Mediterranean coast. Pop. (1995 est.) 650,000.

Go to the original blog entry...