Hippolyte Dreyfus Barney : an appreciation by Shoghi Effendi
Dearly-beloved brothers and sisters in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá!
With feelings of profound sorrow I am moved to address you these few lines mourning the loss which the Cause has undoubtedly sustained by the passing of one who, for many years and in circumstances of exceptional significance, rendered the sacred Threshold distinctive and inestimable services. The hand of Divine Decree has removed, by the death of our talented and dearly-beloved friend, Mr. Hippolyte Dreyfus-Barney, yet another outstanding figure in the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, who, by his brilliant gifts of mind and heart as well as by the divers achievements of his life, has truly enriched the annals of God’s immortal Faith.
A pioneer of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh ever since its celestial light first warmed and illuminated the West, he has, by his close association with the person of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, by his contact with all sections of society, by his scholarly presentation of the history and fundamentals of the Faith, and lastly by his unforgettable share in the settlement of the complex and pressing issues that called for expert assistance in the days following ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing, achieved a standing which few have as yet attained.
The days of his spiritual communion with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and His household within the walls of the prison-city of ‘Akká, wherein he imbibed the principles which he later so ably expounded to the peoples of the West; his pre-eminent role on his return to Paris in kindling the torch which is destined to shed eternal illumination upon his native land and its people; the links of abiding fellowship which he forged with our Persian brethren in the course of the historic mission entrusted to his charge by our Beloved; the seeds which he scattered far and wide during his subsequent travels to the heart of Asia, throughout India, beyond the remotest villages of Burma and as far as the eastern confines of Indo-China; the able support he lent in its initial and intermediary stages to the case of Bahá’u’lláh’s house in Baghdad; his unhesitating intervention with State officials in paving the way for the ultimate emancipation of our Egyptian brethren from the yoke of orthodox Islam; the stimulating encouragement his visit caused to the Bahá’í community of Tunis on the northern shores of Africa; and last but not least the ability and diligence with which he applied himself to the solution of the delicate and vexing problems of the Holy Land in the critical years following ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s ascension — all stand out as memorable landmarks in a life that was as varied in its international aspects as it was rich in its spiritual experience.
His gifts of unfailing sympathy and penetrating insight, his wide knowledge and mature experience, all of which he utilized for the glory and propagation of the Message of Bahá’u’lláh, will be gratefully remembered by future generations who, as the days go by, will better estimate the abiding value of the responsibilities he shouldered for the introduction and consolidation of the Bahá’í Faith in the Western world.
Suffering as he did in his last days from the effects of a slow and painful illness, he bore heroically his share of the afflictions of the world, and is now in the realms of blissful deliverance partaking his full share of the goodly reward which he certainly deserved. To me, and particularly amid the storm and stress that have agitated my life after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing, he was a sustaining and comforting companion, a most valued counsellor, an intimate and trusted friend.
With much emotion and the deepest sense of gratitude I supplicate at the holy Threshold — and request you to join with me in my prayers — for the spiritual advancement in the realms above of a soul who by the sheer merit of the signal services he rendered already deserves to rank highly among the departed faithful.
May he forever rest in peace.
December 21, 1928.
Published in Baha’i World, volume 3, p. 210 and 214 and Baha’i Administration, p. 157-8
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