[On Col. Olcott’s Opponents in Ceylon]
Theosophist, October, 1881
The rabid Christians in Ceylon seem to have been rather overdoing their game of detraction in the case of the Theosophists. The love of justice which the better class of Englishmen claim to be ingrained in their national character is asserting itself, if the following letter which the Ceylon Times prints in its issue of 22nd September, may be taken as an indication:—
Sir,—if your evening contemporary will only keep on long enough with its ill-natured diatribes against the Theosophical Colonel Olcott, and that gentleman has the good sense to stick to his apparent policy of treating them with contemptuous silence, it will end in his becoming one of the most popular men in the Island. When with the documentary proofs before him that the Colonel “commenced life in his native Christian country in the noblest calling but one under Heaven, viz., as founder of, and teacher in, an agricultural college; and after an honourable career of a quarter of a century, during 4 years of which he patriotically served his country, we find him in Asia, etc.” (vide Observer of the 20th instant), the Editor resorts to sneers and innuendos to injure his standing among us, there can be but one result. What that is I need not mention to any one who knows how an Englishman hates injustice and values FAIR PLAY.
The article of the Ceylon Observer to which the Times correspondent alludes was a most cowardly attempt to traduce a spotless, private character by innuendo. The testimonials to Col. Olcott’s highly honourable record in America provoked the bigoted editor’s spleen, and led him to such palpably mean and futile extremes as to win for his coveted victim the sympathy of this writer. The fact is that the Christian party are thoroughly alarmed at the effect already produced by our President upon the hitherto sluggish Buddhists of the Island. He is awakening in them so marked an interest in their religion as to forbode disastrous times for the Protestant missionaries. Garbled reports of discussions in which he always gets worsted; absurd proposals to petition the Governor to order him away; silly stories of his certainty to be assassinated; foolish questions put to him in the papers by feather-brained fellows; prohibitions by bishops, priests and padris to their laity to hear his lectures; newspaper articles against him put into tract form and widely circulated—all these prove at once the greatness of his success and the anxiety of our enemies.