December 20, 2021

Some Memories of the Sojourn of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in Paris, October-December 1911 – by Sitarih Khanum, Lady Blomfield

Much has been written of the journeys of 'Abdu'l-Baha, 'Abbas Effendi. Having been released from the prison fortress of 'Akka, after forty years of captivity, He set Himself to obey the sacred charge laid upon Him by His Father, Baha'u'llah. Accordingly He undertook a three years' mission into the Western World. He left the Holy Land and came to Europe in 1911. During that and the two following years, He visited Switzerland, England, Scotland, France, America, Germany and Hungary.

When the days of 'Abdu'l-Baha's first visit to London (in the autumn of 1911) were drawing to a close, His friends, Monsieur and Madame Dreyfus-Barney, prepared an apartment for His residence whilst in the French capital. It was charmingly furnished, sunny, spacious, situated in the Avenue de Camiiens (No.4) whence a flight of steps led into the Trocadero Gardens. Here the Master often took solitary, restful walks. Sheltered in this modern, comfortable Paris flat, He whom we revered, with secretary servitors and a few close friends, sojourned for an unforgettable nine weeks.

I shall try to describe some of the events which took place, but these events owe their significance to the atmosphere of otherworldliness which encompassed the Master and His friends. We, at least some of us, had the impression that these happenings became, as it were, symbols of Sacred Truths.

Who is this, with branch of roses in His hand, coming down the steps? A picturesque group of friends (some Iranians wearing the kola [hat], and a few Europeans following Him, little children coming up to Him. They hold on to His cloak, confiding and fearless. He gives the roses to them, caressingly lifting one after another into His arms, smiling the while that glorious smile which wins all hearts.

Again, we saw a cabman stop his fiacre, take off his cap and hold it in his hands, gazing amazed, with an air of reverence, whilst the majestic figure, courteously acknowledging his salutation, passed by with that walk which a friend had described as "that of a king or of a shepherd."