Various Slanders Refuted: A Card from Madame Blavatsky
The (NY) Sun, May 6, 1877 & The (NY) World, May 6, 1877
[Note: the wording between the two printings of this letter to the editor(s) differed slightly, including the title. The exact wording here is from The Sun, though the last sentence was omitted there.]
To the Editor of The Sun/World:
Sir—From the first month of my arrival in America I began, for reasons mysterious but perhaps intelligible, to provoke hatred among those who pretend to be on good terms with me, if not the best of friends. Slanderous reports, vile insinuations, and innuendos have rained about me. For more than three years I have kept silent, although the least of the offenses attributed to me was calculated to excite the loathing of a person of my disposition. I have rid myself of a number of these retailers of slander, but finding that I was actually suffering in the estimation of friends whose good opinion I valued, I adopted a policy of seclusion. For two years my world has been in my apartments, and for an average of at least seventeen hours a day I have sat at my desk with my books and manuscripts as my companions. During this time many highly valued acquaintances have been formed with ladies and gentlemen who have sought me out, without expecting me to return their visits.
I am an old woman, and I feel the need of fresh air as well as any one, but my disgust for the lying, slanderous world that we find outside of “heathen,” uncivilized countries has been such that in seven months I believe I have been out but three times.
But no retreat is secure against the anonymous slanderer who uses the United States mail. Letters have been received by my trusted friends containing the foulest aspersions upon myself. At various times I have been charged with (1) Drunkenness; (2) forgery; (3) being a Russian spy; (4) with being an anti-Russian spy; (5) with being no Russian at all, but a French adventuress; (6) of having been in jail for theft; (7) of being the mistress of a Polish count in Union square; (8) with murdering seven husbands; (9) with bigamy; (10) of being the mistress of Colonel Olcott; (11) also of an acrobat. Other things might be mentioned, but decency forbids.
Since the arrival of Wong Chin Foo the game has recommenced with double activity. We have received anonymous letters and others, and newspaper slips, telling infamous stories about him. On his part he has received communications about us, one of which I beg you to insert:
Does the disciple of Buddha know the character of the people with whom he is at present residing? The surroundings of a teacher of morality and religion should be moral. Are his so? On the contrary, they are people of very doubtful reputation, as he can ascertain by applying at the nearest police station.
Of Wong Chin Foo’s merits or shortcomings I know nothing except that since his arrival his conversation and behavior have impressed me favorably. He appears to be a very earnest and enthusiastic student. However, he is a man, and is able to take care of himself, although, like me, a foreigner. But I wish to say for myself just this: That I defy any person in America to come forward and prove a single charge against my honor. I invite everyone possessed of such proofs as will vindicate them in a court of justice to publish them over their own signatures in the newspapers. I will furnish to everyone a list of my several residences, and contribute towards paying detectives to trace my every step. But I hereby give notice that if any more unverifiable slanders can be traced to responsible sources, I will invoke the protection of the law, which, on the theory of your national Constitution, was made for heathen as well as Christian denizens. And I further notify slanderers of a speculative turn that no blackmail is paid at No. 302 West Forty-seventh Street.
H. P. Blavatsky,
May 5th, 1877.