Mr. Moncure Conway
Journal of The Theosophical Society, February, 1884
Under this heading our old well-wisher, a pious Baptist editor in Ceylon, takes an opportunity of snapping at us. As usual, he goes out of his way to perform the pleasant duty. He had a call, he tells his readers, from the eminent ontologist, Mr. Moncure Conway, of London, then on his way to India. At the first reading the editorial compliments to the address of this “man of transcendant abilities, ” as the gentleman is correctly referred to by the editor, may appear to an innocent reader as genuine coin. Nothing of the kind, however. The wily Baptist never lauds but to abuse. The tom-cat is never more dangerous in his perfidiousness than when purring the loudest; and a pious dissenter will go back on his principle of intolerance but to make a better leap at his antagonist. Says that dear old literary cheeta of the “Spicy Island”:—
“. . . Mr. Conway . . . is willing to recognize Him [Christ] as divine. Except in the last particular, we have the reverse of sympathy for Mr. Conway’s views; but a man of scholarship and genius like his is not to be confounded with the herd of Olcotts, Blavatskys and Sinnetts (oh poor ex-editor of the Pioneer!) with their humbug about “Esoteric Buddhism,” “Occult Revelations,” and an imaginary prophet in Tibet . . . he is not the man to fraternize with the high sillinesses (sic) of the Olcott-Blavatsky superstitions.”
Evidently the “Spirit of God” has but half descended upon the writer, for one fails to recognize in him a prophet or even a medium. Mr. Moncure Conway has “fraternized” with the Theosophists; and a more charming, intellectual and pleasant afternoon and evening has been rarely passed than in the company of this remarkably learned man. As soon as landed in Madras (Jan. 10th), the said gentleman paid a visit to the Head-quarters of the Society, at Adyar, bearing a letter of introduction from Mr. P. de Jersay Grut, F. T. S., of Australia, whose visit we had enjoyed nearly two years ago at Bombay. The Ceylon Christian editor was right in saying that Mr. M. Conway is . . . willing to recognize Christ as “divine.” The said gentleman has corroborated the statement, adding that what he admired and loved the most in the ideal Jesus of the Gospels was that—“Christ was not a Christian,” thus showing himself at one with our Theosophical ideas about that exalted and perfect Man.
But where could that Colombo sinner “verily baptized with(out) the baptism of repentance” have learned so much about “scholarship,” we wonder, and acquired the art of discerning so well between the “humbug of esoteric Buddhism” and that of theological Christianity, between “imaginary prophets in Tibet,” and the non-imaginary prophets of the Jewish Bible––such as Balaam and his she-ass for instance? Let him remember that his paper, the oldest, if not the wisest in the Island, has obtained for him a settled reputation years ago. That with most of its readers it is no longer a question whether its editor has graduated in a university or a butler’s pantry, but rather how much of gall must have entered into the composition of the waters of salvation in which he was baptized. Surely “the great star called worm wood” spoken of in Revelation must have already fallen into the Jordan of the Christian Baptists of his stamp. How can one wonder then that waters made so bitter are eschewed and rejected by both heathen and good unsectarian Christians!