One of the really great minds and souls of modern times - and indeed of any time - was Thomas Troward, late Divisional Judge of the Punjab, India. Of his writings, the late William James of Harvard said, "Far and away the ablest statement of that psychology that I have ever met, beautiful in its sustained clearness of thought and style, a really classic statement." The Boston Transcript editorially stated, "The author reveals himself as easily the profoundest thinker we have ever met on this subject." The late Archdeacon Wilberforce, when writing to Troward, signed himself, "Your grateful pupil."
Responding to the many requests from Troward's friends and admirers for a more intimate glimpse of this great man, I am pleased to present to you a few phases of his daily life as I saw them while studying with him. These may be all the more interesting because of the fact that I enjoyed the unique privilege of being the only pupil to whom he ever gave personal instruction.
The Early Life of a Genius
Thomas Troward was born in Ceylon, India, in the year 1847, of English parents and Huguenot ancestors. When quite a young boy he was sent to England to be educated at Burmshtead Grammar School, but was most unhappy there, as he could not fully adapt himself to the humdrum life of the English schoolboy. Later on, when he continued his education in the beautiful Isle of Jersey, its charm entered into his blood, and he was thoroughly contented there. Perhaps the old Huguenot strain in him found a congenial element in the semi-French environment of the college. At the early age of eighteen the natural bent of his mind began to assert itself, and he won the Helford College gold medal for literature.
When his studies were completed, Troward went up to London for the Indian Civil Service examination, a very stiff one, which he passed with high credit. He returned to India at the age of twenty-two in the capacity of Assistant Commissioner. An incident which occurred during the course of his examination foreshadowed the trend of the life that was to replace the regulation judicial career when the twenty-five years of service had expired.
"Your Head is No Common One, Young Man"
One of the subjects, left for the end of the examination, was metaphysics. Troward was quite unprepared for this, having had no time for research and no knowledge of what books to read on the subject, so he meditated upon it in the early hours of the morning, and filled in the paper with his own speculations. The examiner, on reading it, was amazed, and asked "What text-book did you use for this paper?" "I had no text-book sir." Troward answered. "I wrote it out of my head." "Well, then, young man," was the examiner's comment, "your head is no common one, and if I am not mistaken, we shall hear from you again."
During Troward's career in India his official work kept him very busy. His recreation was often spent with canvas, paints and brushes. He was an artist of no mean ability, especially in marine subjects, and had won several prizes at art exhibits in England. He loved to study the tombs of sacred Indian lore, or the scriptures of the Hebrews and of other ancient peoples. While studying these profound subjects, there was unfolded to him, as in a vision, a system of philosophy which carried with it not only peace of mind, but also physical results in health and happiness.
When relieved of his burdensome official duties in the Indian Court, he returned to England, where a manuscript of some hundred folios slowly came into existence. At that time he had no knowledge of Mental Science, Christian Science, New Thought, or any of the "isms" of modern thought. His views were the result of solitary meditation and a deep study of the scriptures. The first edition of the now famous "Edinburgh Lectures" was published in 1904. It was received with the almost unanimous opinion that its value could not be over-estimated, as was true of his subsequent volumes. "Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning" proved especially attractive to churchmen. His books, by sheer worth, have found their way almost all over the world. In the United States alone, more than 50,000 copies have been sold. Perhaps no one was more astonished at their warm reception than their simple-hearted, fun-loving author.
An Intimate Description
In physique Judge Troward was not the usual English type, but was more like a Frenchman, of medium stature, and not over five feet six or seven inches. He was dark complexioned, with small, bright eyes, a large nose, and a broad forehead. When I knew him, he had a drooping mustache sprinkled with grey. He had the bearing of a student and a thinker, as is indicated in his writings.
His manner was simple and natural, and he exemplified a spirit of moderation in all things. I never saw him impatient or heard him express an unkind word, and with his family he was always gentle and considerate. He seemed to depend entirely upon Mrs. Troward for the household management. Only in the intimacy of his home did he entirely reveal his charming geniality and radiating friendship. His after-dinner manner was one of quiet levity and a twinkling humor. He would enter into the conversations or parlor games of the family with the spirit of a boy. He did not care for public amusements.
One evening, after an excellent dinner of soup, joint of lamb, vegetables, salad, dessert, and wine, he rolled a cigarette, and, to my great surprise, offered it to me with the query, "Do you smoke?" Receiving a negative reply, he began to smoke it himself. Noticing my poorly concealed expression of surprise, he remarked, "Why should you be shocked at anything which you can thank God for? I can thank God for one cigarette after, possibly a second, but never a third." After he had finished his smoke, his youngest daughter, Budeia, played the violin for us. I observed that he became completely absorbed in the beautiful harmony. He told me afterwards that, although he was intensely fond of listening to music, he was in no sense a musician.
Although Troward did not indulge in outdoor sports, he loved nature, and would sit for hours by the sea with his sketch-book, or tramp the lonely moors in solitary meditation. He said there were times when he obtained his best inspirations while walking in the open. He often invited me to go with him, although frequently he seemed to be unconscious of my presence, being entirely absorbed in his own thoughts.
Truth from the Trance
At times he would lapse into a trancelike swoon (his Maltese cat on the table by his side), the swoon sometimes lasting for hours. At such times the members of his family would take particular care not to disturb him. When he emerged from these lapses of the senses, he would write down the truths which had been revealed to him. Once he wrote on his memorandum pad, " 'I AM' is the word of power. If you think your thought is powerful, your thought is powerful."
It may be interesting to recall that such authorities as Barnett and the new American Encyclopedia, in their biography of Socrates, mention similar trancelike experiences of his. While serving in the Greek army, Socrates suddenly found his feet seemingly rooted to the earth, where he remained in a trance for twenty-four hours. He awakened with a spiritual knowledge that transformed his life, and, later, the lives of many others. The similarity of the life of this Athenian philosopher to that of Troward is that both relied chiefly upon intuition and common sense for their theory and system of living.
A difference between Troward's teaching and that of Christian Science is that he does not deny the existence of a material world. On the contrary, he teaches that all physical existence is a concrete corresponding manifestation of the thought which gave it birth. One is a complement of the other.
I once asked him how one could impart to others the deep truths which he taught. "By being them," he answered. "My motto is, 'Being, and not possessing, is the great joy of living.'"
Following a Trusted Guide
Judge Troward, although modest and retiring in his habits of speech and slow to express a personal opinion, was always willing to discuss any current subject, but extremely reticent and diffident about his own writings. Never, to my knowledge, did he mention them unless approached on the subject. As a teacher, he was positive, direct, and always impersonal.
When our lesson was given indoors, he always sat in a large morris chair, and, seeming not to be aware of my presence, he would think aloud. To follow his thought was like following a trusted guide through the most difficult places, the darkest and least explored regions of thought. As I followed, the personality of the man became obscure, and I was only conscious of the clear, commanding voice, and the light of the inward torch which he bore. It was beyond doubt quite natural that he who made so clear the true meaning of individuality should in his teaching betray little of the personal or emotional element.
After I had been carefully guided to the most comforting conclusions, in the same quiet, unassuming manner as in the beginning of our mental journey, my guide would gently remind me that he had given me a few suggestions which I might follow if I felt inclined, but which were offered only in the friendly spirit of a fellow-traveler. He always tried to impress upon me that every effort to accomplish mental control (which, in turn, meant control of circumstances) should be undertaken with absolute confidence of success.
The length of a lesson depended upon my ability to absorb what he was telling me. If he were convinced in fifteen or thirty minutes that I understood quite naturally the reason why, for example, "If a thing is true." There is a way in which it is true," that lesson was concluded. If it took me an hour or more to get into the spirit of his thought, the lesson was prolonged. At the end of a lesson he would quietly remark, "Never forget that 'seeking' has 'finding' as its correlative: 'knocking,' 'opening.'" With this reassuring statement, he would light his lantern and step into the denseness of the night to walk three miles to his home.
A Home-Loving Philosopher
Being a home-loving man, Troward delighted in his flower garden, and in the intimacy of his home, which he had provided with every comfort. He particularly enjoyed the seclusion of his studio and study, which were arranged to meet his personal needs and moods. His studio was in the most remote part of the house, and here he would spend hours of relaxation with canvas and paints. His study, however, was on the ground floor, and to it he would retire for meditation and research, usually in the early hours of the morning. He rarely worked at night.
He had spent the greater part of the day he died sketching out of doors. When he did not join his family at the dinner hour, Mrs. Troward went in search of him. She found him in his studio, fully dressed, lying on the sofa in a state of physical collapse. About an hour later he passed away. The doctor said that death was caused by hemorrhage of the brain. I am sure that Troward would have said, "I am simply passing from the limited to the unlimited." He died on May 16th, 1916, in his sixty-ninth year, on the same day that Archdeacon Wilberforce was laid at rest in Westminster Abbey. It was no ordinary link that bound these two men, as you will note in the reproduction of the letter that follows, Troward's last letter to me.
Thomas Troward regarded death very much as he would regard traveling from one country to another. He remarked to me several times, that he was interested in the life beyond and was ready to go. His only concern seemed to be the sorrow that it would cause his wife and family. When the time came, his going was exactly what he would have wished it to be.
I hope that these few intimate touches will give to Troward's friends and admirers the information they desire concerning him. I will add a more personal touch for you by presenting herein one of his first letters to me with facsimile of his handwriting.
31 Stanwick Rd.,
8th Nov. 1912
Dear Mrs. Swink,
I think I had better write you a few lines with regard to your proposed studies with me as I should be sorry for you to be under any misapprehension and so to suffer any disappointment.
I have studied the subject now for several years, and have a general acquaintance with the leading features of most of the systems which unfortunately occupy attention in many circles at the present time, such as Theosophy, the Tarot, the Kabala, and the like, and I have no hesitation in saying that to the best of my judgment all sorts and descriptions of so-called occult study are in direct opposition to the real Life-giving Truth; and therefore you must not expect any teaching on such lines as these. We hear a great deal in these days about "Initiation"; but, believe me, the more you try to become a so-called "Initiate" the further you will put yourself from Living Life. I speak after many years of careful study and consideration when I say that the Bible and its Revelation of Christ is the one thing really worth studying, and that is a subject large enough in all conscience, embracing as it does our outward life of everyday concerns, and also the inner springs of our life and all that we can in general terms conceive of the life in the unseen after putting off the body at death.
You have expressed a very great degree of confidence in my teaching, and if your confidence is such that you wish, as you say, to put yourself entirely under my guidance I can only accept it as a very serious responsibility, and should have to ask you to exhibit that confidence by refusing to look into such so-called "mysteries" as I would forbid you to look into. I am speaking from experience; but the result will be that much of my teaching will appear to be very simple, perhaps to some extent dogmatic, and you will say you had heard much of it before. Faith in God, Prayer and Worship, Approach to the Father through Christ --all this is in a certain sense familiar to you; and all I can hope to do is perhaps to throw a little more light on these subjects, so that they become to you, not merely traditional words, but present living facts. I have been thus explicit, as I do not want you to have any disappointment; and also I should say that our so-called "studies" will be only friendly conversations at such times as we can fit them in, either you coming to our house or I to yours as may be most convenient at the time. Also I will lend you some books which will be helpful, but they are very few and in no sense "occult."
Now if all this falls in with your own ideas, we shall, I am sure, be very glad to see you at Ruan Manor, and you will find that the residents there, though few, are very friendly and the neighborhood is pretty. But on the other hand if you feel that you want some other sort of learning, do not mind saying so; only you will never find any substitute for Christ.
I trust you will not mind my writing to you like this, but I don't want you to come all the way down to Cornwall and then be disappointed.
With kind regards
Yours sincerely, (Signed) T. Troward