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Periodical: New York Echo

Summary:  From Pat Deveney's database:

New York Echo.
The Only Secret Society Paper in the World.
Fearless! Independent! Liberal! / Love as the Principle, Order as the Basis, Progress as the End
1877--1878? Semimonthly
New York, NY.
Editor: Mr. Wolcott; John E. Heartt and Charles Sotheran, editors and publishers.
1/1, April 8, 1877-1878 (?)
4 folio pp., 6 columns a page, $2.00 a year.

This was begun as a standard American Masonic fraternal journal under the editorship of an unknown Mr. Wolcott and of Richard Harte (who later edited The Theosophist in India and who, with Charles Sotheran, visited H.P. Blavatsky in February 1878 and importuned her to write an editorial for this journal for the coming week -- which she may or may not have done. When this effort failed the journal was taken up after a hiatus by Sotheran (1847-1902) and John Elisha Heartt (1849-1916), and the first issue of its "New Departure" appeared on April 30, 1878. Heartt was involved in a variety of mutual insurance schemes floated by fraternal orders in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and in the 1880s was the editor of the Fraternal Department of the New York Era, a Masonic journal, and editor, with Adam Warnock, of the monthly Knights of Honor Standard, devoted to the interests of the Knights of Honor, Royal Arcanum, American Legion of Honor, Ancient Order of United Workmen, etc., several of which orders were the work of the indefatigable confidence man Darius Wilson, on whom see the notes under Lybic Chain and Masonic World. Sotheran was a Yorkshireman who arrived in New York in 1874 with a letter of introduction from John Yarker to Leon Hyneman (editor of the Masonic Mirror and Keystone and Sotheran's future father-in-law). He was a socialist newspaper man, high-grade Mason, member of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, bibliographer and off-again, on-again Theosophist. He had been one of the founders of the Theosophical Society in 1875, publicly condemned Blavatsky in January 1876 in the pages of the Banner of Light ("I am confident the pretensions of the Society are fallacious"), contributed a long letter on Masonry to her Isis Unveiled in 1877, lived in Blavatsky's rooms while hiding from his wife in February 1878 and publicly apologizing for his slanders in the Banner in February 1878, and by April was discussing with Blavatsky and H.S. Olcotty the idea of making the Theosophical Society a Masonic body with ritual and degrees: "the idea being that it would form a natural complement to the higher degrees of the craft, restoring to it the vital element of Oriental mysticism which it lacked or had lost." This journal was re-started the same month.

The announcement of the "New Departure" of the journal on its resumption touted its "corps of co-workers unequalled in their departments, and many of whom have taken high rank as editors, poets and authors, or in painting, sculpture and above all for our particular purposes, in the Fraternities." These were to include Blavatsky ("the adept Theosophist"), Olcott, Albert Leighton Rawson, Leon Hyneman, Alice H. Rhine (Hyneman's daughter, whom Sotheran married in 1893), John A. Weisse and Herbert D. Monachesi, among others. Many of the same Theosophists, including Serge Shevitch, also helped organize the dedication of a bust of Giuseppe Mazzini in Central Park that the journal expounded upon in May. Shevitch was the husband of Helene von Racowitza (1845-1911), Blavatsky's closest friend at the time. She was wild, even by the standard of her class. She was a heavy drug user and was the pivot of a famous duel between her then fiancé and the Socialist deputy Lasalles (Lasalles was killed), married a Hungarian boyar, then a famous actor, and then Shevitch, the international anarchist, Socialist Labor Party leader, and editor. After her return to Europe she was one of the teachers of Rudolf Steiner.

The advertisements for the journal flamboyantly proclaimed:

"The New York Echo justly claims to be the only secret society paper in the world, as it is the only journal that gives full and impartially reported details of every occurrence of general importance relating to every Secret fraternity in the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. News of interest to Freemasons, Theosophists, Rosicrucians, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Knights of Honor, Knights of Labor, Foresters, Good Templars, Druids. Members of the B'nal Berith, Kesser Shel Barzel, Free Sons of Israel, Eastern Star, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, I.0.W.M., Ancient Order of Hibernians, Order of American Union, Fenian Brotherhood, etc., etc., will always be found vigorously treated in its columns. . . . The motto of the Echo being "Fearless Independent, Liberal," it has never had hesitation since its inception (April 8, 1877) in denouncing injustice and abuses wherever found, is the organ of no clique or party, has the interests of true religious culture at heart, but repudiates the idle dogmatisms of sectarianism and contemns theological intolerance of all and every kind--and bases its position as an educator on the platform of 'Love as the Principle, Order as the Basis, Progress as the End.'"

The only parts of the journal that survive are the pages pasted in Blavatsky's scrapbooks in the Theosophical Society in Adyar (adorned by Blavatsky's colorful clippings of plants and animals). These are now being published online at These contain several articles by Blavatsky ("The Akhoond of Swat," "the Arya Samaj") that have been republished in Blavatsky's Collected Works, and also Heartt's "New Departure," Olcott's "Giuseppe Mazzini," Sotheran's "The Triple Headed Snake" (by "Narehtos" -- Sotheran backwards), "Masonic Honors to a Literary Lady, Madame Blavatsky Made a Crowned Princess in the Rite of adoption," etc., as well as unsigned article on "Theosophy and Masonry" and "Theosophy's Secret Organization" -- which, despite the titles, are disappointing.

The journal probably did not long survive. A poem from it that is not in the scrapbook was reprinted in Lucifer in 1888 with no indication of its provenance. Sotheran and Blavatsky finally fell out a few months after the New Departure when Sotheran roused the rabble during the car strike of September 1878 in New York. "Madame Blavatsky . . . has sent word that she 'tolerated my heretical opinions when expressed among my equals, but having lowered myself by standing on soap boxes and cart-tails to preach such revolutionary doctrines as the public ownership of railroads to car drivers and conductors, I have placed myself outside the pale of her friendship.'"

Theosophical Society, Adyar, India. The surviving pages of the journal are identified by the volume and page number of the scrapbooks.

New York Echo cuttings (April 30 1878 | May 15 1878 | June 4 1878)

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