Madame Blavatsky [On Her Contempt for Titles]
Bombay Gazette, May 13, 1879
To the Editor of the Bombay Gazette:
Sir,—On the very day of my return from a month’s travel, I am shown by the American Consul two paragraphs, viz., one in your paper of the 10th inst., which mentions me as the “Russian ‘Baroness’,” and one in the Times of India of the 8th, whose author had tried hard to be witty but only succeeded in being impertinent and calumnious. In this last paragraph I am referred to as a woman who called herself a “Russian Princess.”
With the original and selected matter in your contemporary you, of course, have nothing to do. If the editor can find “amusing” such slanderous tomfooleries as the extract in question from the Colonial Gazette and Star of India, and risk a suit for libel for circulating defamations of a respectable scientific Society, and vilifying its honoured President, by calling him a “secret detective”—an outrageous lie, by the way—that is not your affair. My present business is to take the Gazette to task for thrusting upon my unwilling republican head the Baronial coronet. Know please, once for all, that I am neither “Countess,” “Princess,” nor even a modest “Baroness,” whatever I may have been before last July. At that time I became a plain citizen of the U.S. of America—a title I value far more than any that could be conferred on me by King or Emperor. Being this I could be nothing else, if I wished; for, as everyone knows, had I been even a princess of the royal blood before, once that my oath of allegiance was pronounced, I forfeited every claim to titles of nobility.
Apart from this notorious fact, my experience of things in general, and peacocks’ feathers in particular, has led me to acquire a positive contempt for titles, since it appears that outside the boundaries of their own Fatherlands, Russian princes, Polish counts, Italian marquises, and German barons are far more plentiful inside than outside the police precincts. Permit me further to state—if only for the edification of the Times of India and a brood of snarling little papers, searching around after the garbage of journalism—that I have never styled myself aught but what I can prove myself to be—namely, an honest woman, now a citizen of America, my adopted country, and the only land of true freedom in the whole world.
H. P. Blavatsky.
Bombay, May 12.