“The Knight Without Reproach or Fear”
Bombay Gazette, December, 1881
To the Editor of the Bombay Gazette.
Sir,—Since you were kind enough to republish in your paper of the 6th instant an article from the Statesman headed “An Australian Blavatsky,” you will permit I hope to the Bombay individual of that name to make a few remarks thereon. I will only draw your attention to what I may term the most remarkable feature of that gentlemanly editorial, namely, the double-edged aspect of the weapon used against the object of that attack. It is not to be searched for in the outward aspect of the attack itself—one of the many brutal, uncalled for, and libellous articles directed against my name and reputation lately; not even in the abuse and impertinence of its too witty editor. Still less is the point at issue, for the present, in the question whether I am deservedly or undeservedly placed on a parallel with Mrs. Jackson, whom the Statesman pleases to represent as an adventuress, an impostor, and a thief, since she is accused of having obtained a large legacy by fraud and under false pretences. The latter point I may safely leave to the Calcutta courts to decide and pronounce upon. No: that wondrous feature is rather in the cool and serene cheek of the editor, whose mental attitude may be characterized by what the Frenchman unpoetically, but graphically represents as cracher en l’air pour le faire retomber sur le nez—to spit in the air, only to feel it fall back on the spitter’s nose—an attitude truly worthy of a “Bayard,” the “Knight without reproach or fear”! However the Statesman’s Editor claims, I believe, to be regarded as a staunch defender of the Indian people’s rights: as a redresser of their wrongs: one who breaks his chivalrous lance in honour of fair Aryavarta? So does the Editor of The Theosophist—a journal founded for the benefit of and solely for the natives. While he defends their political rights, we Theosophists try our best to defend their religious rights, and to prove their claims to the most ancient civilization, literature, and wisdom, thus showing their superiority in many respects, to our Western civilization—a babe of yesterday. To this effect the political Statesman was started at Calcutta, and the “religio-philosophical” Theosophist at Bombay. How far and whether we have succeeded at all in our respective objects is a question which we must leave to time alone to decide. All I can say is, that we, at least, tried our best and according to our humble lights and means to achieve our task. But here all comparison between the Statesman and The Theosophist abruptly ceases. For that which for the latter was and is a labour of love and devotion to an idea—however Utopian it may seem to many—a labour rewarded by the majority of the natives (on whose behalf it was started) by the most foul abuse, suspicion, and ceaseless attacks upon the Theosophists, the Statesman expected and demanded that his work should be remunerated. We all remember its loud and pressing appeals for money in the Co-Regent of Hyderabad case to the peoples of India. Rajas and Ryots, Brahmin and Sudra, Prince and Mang, were all expected to lay their mite on the altar of national defense: thousands and lakhs of rupees were demanded in order that the Statesman might defend the combined interests of the people of India, and one Sabha alone is said to have sent to London between twenty and thirty thousand rupees. How much good the native contributors got for the worth of their money I do not know, for I have no interest or concern with political brawls. But I have a right to observe that this defense and alleged devotion of the Statesman to the natives of India is not, what one might view as wholly disinterested.
On the other hand The Theosophist never made the slightest appeal, or ever laid any claim to the national pocket. The Theosophist never asked for one pie, nor does it hope to be pecuniarily remunerated for its trouble and losses. I advise the Statesman to deny this, if it can.
Whence and what for then, this most sudden and unexpected series of attacks upon us, in which the Statesman has lately so largely indulged? May it not be that it fears possible competition as to remunerations received from the defended natives? Let its Editor, or Editors in such case, rest undisturbed on their laurels. Neither The Theosophist nor its Editor are likely to ever sell or prostitute their favours. The little they have to give, they give freely, expecting nothing but ingratitude in return, for they serve an idea, not individuals. True devotion to a cause is not to be bought or sold; and, for her money India might choose. Thus the Statesman’s insolent parallel between “Blavatsky” and “Jackson” is utterly irrelevant, being a brutal libel. It is as if seeking to establish in The Theosophist a like comparison, we called the Editor of the Statesman “a British Robert Macaire.”
To prove to you that I am no adventuress, and to show finally who I am, I send you two documents for your private perusal. One is from my uncle, General R. de Fadeyeff, Assistant Minister of the Interior at St. Petersburg, the other a private letter from Prince Dondukoff-Korsakoff, Governor-General of Southern Russia, with whom I am acquainted for the last thirty-five years. The official document testifying to my identity will be shortly published.
H. P. Blavatsky.
Bombay, Breach Candy, December 9th, 1881.