The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett
Theosophical University Press Online Edition

Letter No. 27

Sept. 27.

Just returned home from Ooty through Pondichery, and the first thing waiting for me was your letter of new and fresh remonstrances. I have not my "feathers ruffled" as you call it for myself, but for others as in duty and honour bound, and I must certainly try to impress upon your mind to what extent they are ruffled.

When shall you remember, first of all, that in addressing me upon things done by Col. Olcott during his voyages — you are giving me simply news of which I know nothing; or that in speaking upon office business you are implying to me a knowledge of things I have no more an idea of than the man in the moon. Why should I be made responsible for everything that happens in the Society is something surpassingly strange. However, your letter is so full of unjust, cruel sentences, so unfair as I will prove it just now that I must try and point it out to you for the last time. You must have had dyspepsia while writing it — my dear Mr. Sinnett. — I answer your accusations seriatim.

1. What is it that "ruffles" you in Mrs. Parker? I know her for eight years nearly. She is an enthusiast, a lunatic in many things but no better, sincere, truthful, honest woman ever breathed in an Irish carcase. She is a true theosophist, unselfish and ready to part with her last clothing for the benefit of others. Not very cultured, "coarse fibred" as you call it! Perhaps so; but no more than myself. She was Miss Kislingbury's greatest friend. And though Miss K. deserted us to become a Roman Catholic, still she is the best she theosophist London ever had. Always prejudice at first sight. Ever judging on appearance. The story with Bennet, Banon, Scott and some others over again. Oh Mr. Sinnett, how little deep your theosophical insight! Mr. Brown could do no better, no worthier thing than take her under his protection — I respect him for it. (He arrived with her, I know him better now and — respect him less). He befriended the poor woman who gave all she had; became a beggar to save from starvation her poor countrymen in America. He was kind to her while others were harsh and cold to her in London, yourself to begin with, and Wyld that old ass who did all he could to set her against theosophy and us, etc. etc. No indeed: That which offends you does not often offend me and — pour cause. Let us drop it. We will hardly ever understand each other. But you ought to have known that while I care very little for theosophists loaded with jewelry like a Greek corpse and in tiger striped satin and velvet dresses, I care a good deal for those who have theosophy in their hearts not on their lips alone.

Nor is it less funny that though to my knowledge and for over two years and more Olcott corresponds with Mme. Gebhard in the most friendly amicable way; and that I know how deeply he respects and has affection for her, you should now find fault with him for his tone. Who told you this? Is it your own intuition or Mme. Gebhard? If the latter, then she is not the woman I supposed her to be. Again you speak to me of things for which I am not in the least responsible nor have I ever taken an interest in them. Except of the volume annotated on the margin by K. H. and sent to Hume and a MS. commented upon by Djwal Khool, I took no interest in Eliphas Levi's MSS. Olcott's manner dictatorial? So it may be to those who do not know him; as mine is very rude in the eyes of strangers, and your's inexpressibly haughty and cold in those of the rest of the world who do not know you. Olcott asked her to send the MSS., for Olcott is ever thinking of benefiting the Society. And she did undertake the work, which was very kind and would have been quite generous in a non-theosophist but was only natural and her duty as a theosophist. That he thanked her for it and very warmly I know for I have read his letters at least two or three of them. That he may have forgotten or delayed to thank her and acknowledge receipt of the letter is quite possible and no such great sin. I guess had Mme. Gebhard been a Hindu instead of a European you would have never found fault with the delay. We are taken to task for not having published them yet? And who, pray, was there to translate them? Who, besides us two — broken down post horses is there to translate such things? They were not taken notice of? In what way? By publishing an acknowledgment in the Theosophist? But I did not know that the last had been sent at all, and besides they arrived here only hardly two months ago and since Olcott was not here they were not even opened for a long time. And what's the use of acknowledging something no one knows anything about until translated? "An illustration of the deplorable way in which the affairs of the Society are managed at Headquarters." A very fair sentence passed, and quite in keeping with the rest. La critique est aisee mais l'art est difficile." Do you forget that you are addressing two European beggars with two Hindu other beggars to help them in the management and not the rich Pioneer with lakhs behind it? I would like to see you undertake the management and editing of Phoenix with two pence in your pocket; with a host of enemies around; no friends to help you; yourself — the editor, manager, clerk, and even peon very often, with a poor half-broken down Damodar to help you alone for three years, one who was a boy right from the school bench, having no idea of business any more than I have, and Olcott always — 7 months in the year — away! Badly managed, indeed! Why we have made miracles in rearing up alone, and in the face of such antagonism, paper, Society, and business in general. Is it Mrs. Gebhard who complained of his tone of authority? And what do you mean in making a difference, in saying — "First of all the constitution of the Society does not justify the assumption of any tone of authority on the part of the President in addressing any foreign members." The constitution of the Society first of all, does not justify the smallest difference made in tone, privileges granted, or anything between foreigners or Hindus, foreign or local members. The President has no right to use an impolite peremptory tone with any branch or member. And he does not, as far as I know. His tone is his usual tone and may seem "authoritative" when it is simply friendly and outspoken. An American, of course, (or a Russian either, for the matter of that,) is not expected to have the cultured tones of a refined Englishman, nor do we pretend to anything of the sort. But to say that Olcott in writing to Mrs. Gebhard whom he makes so much of, "used a tone of authority" is as unjust as it is absurd on the face of it. As to the accusation of "laying it on a shelf and leaving the MS unfruitful" — will you kindly as a theosophist undertake the translation? And if neither your leisure nor your tastes permit it, then please remember that while you in the midst of all your arduous labours as the editor of the Pioneer used to leave your work regularly at 4 after beginning it at 10 a.m. — and went away either to lawn tennis or a drive, Olcott and I begin ours at five in the morning with candle light, and end it sometimes at 2 a.m. We have no time for lawn tennis as you had, and clubs and theatres and social intercourse. We have no time hardly to eat and drink.

Sorry also, that you should disapprove and "strongly" in the bargain, "of the letter addressed to the Secretary of the London Lodge by Ramaswamier." Nor do I see any good reason why, if the "London Lodge" notification was sent through the Secretary, Olcott's answer could not be sent likewise through his Secretary?

You use very extraordinary words. For inst: you say that the "London Lodge having elected . . . that name pays Olcott as nominal (!!) head of the whole Society the courtesy (?) of a formal report of its action for his approval." (1) If Olcott is no better in the eyes of the London Lodge than a nominal head, then the sooner it ceases to call itself "Theosophical Society" the better for all parties concerned. Let it call itself "Kingsford Society" if it will; but so long as it is chartered by us, and that the Masters keep Olcott as their agent and representative he is not a nominal but the actual head of the Society, if you please. And, unless you can find in the London Lodge one to replace him, with all his intrinsic rare virtues, and minus his few Americanisms (which few, if any, fair man among real theosophists can ever object to, since none of us is perfect) — he will remain an actual President to his death day, I hope. The London Lodge "pays him the courtesy"!! The London Lodge did ITS DUTY, its bound duty and nothing more. In the London Lodge there are many persons cultured and of great intellectual value, and as individuals they are respected and appreciated for this by all of us — myself the first. But the London Lodge as a Branch is not a bit better or entitled to any more privileges than any other Branch. When it does theosophical work that will be higher and of more importance than all the rest of the nearly 100 Branches in India, America, and Europe, then can it claim extra privileges and an unusual respect for itself. It is a matter of the most profound wonder to me how you, a man of your intelligence can speak in such a way! How you can go in the way you did and jump at the throat of the very spirit of our Society — perfect equality, Brotherhood, and mutual toleration! If Olcott, instead of answering through his Secretary had, as you say, (while never answering but through his Secretary all other Branches) gone out of his way "to write a long, sympathetic and appreciative letter to the President of the London Branch" I would call it toadyism, flunkeyism and blown his head off for such a lack of self-respect, dignity and pandering to aristocracy. Olcott has written to Mrs. Kingsford and Mr. Maitland in answer to their letters, and appreciates them personally for their own worth as individuals. As "President and Vice-President of the London Lodge" they have no right to expect to be treated with more respect and sympathy than any other theosophists, — though he denies such feelings to none. And who, in the name of Dickens are the British Theosophists to claim such unprecedented honours? Are they gods or Emperors or what? I for one prefer for the Society any day a learned Sanskrit pundit, a Hindoo who works for theosophy to the Emperor of Russia or the Empress of India herself. To think that you would have a free born American, who has never bent his neck to the yoke of birth or wealth, but only to true personal merit, and a Russian who broke violently with all the aristocracy to accept her fate for better or worse with the disinherited, the poor, and the unjustly treated of the earth — who is a democrat in her soul — dancing on their hind legs and salaaming their English members — is preposterous!! They may resign all of them tomorrow, if they are not satisfied. And they will have to, if they or any of them ever state publicly that they consider Olcott only a "nominal" head of the Society. We want theosophists not aristocratic noodles who expect respect and honours only because their blood is crossed with that of lords and M.P.'s. What have they hitherto done to merit them? Made us the great honour of joining the Society? It is an honour to them, not in the least to the MASTERS, not even to us their faithful followers; least of all to me whose birth is not a bit lower than that of your Queen and perhaps, purer than hers, and who yet despises every claim based on such birth. Olcott shows "nonsensical affectation of the de haut en bas tone of an official superior addressing a subordinate"!! There are no superiors and subordinates in our Society; none but brothers and Fellow-members; but it is very doubtful whether any of our English members will ever show practically that they consider those lower than themselves by birth or education or race (as they think) as their brothers. What are the great achievements they have made in theosophy or for theosophy? There is not one in London that entered the Society on any other than purely selfish motives; to squeeze out what he can from the Mahatmas and then turn his back upon their hapless countrymen and, perhaps, laugh at them. As M. says, "remains to be seen how Mr. F. V. Myers will receive their Replies" — Whether he will not be the first one (and if not he, then other members) to call them ignorant fools, illiterate Asiatics "with a small Oriental brain" as Wyld expressed it, wanting to make believe, I suppose, that his Jesus was an Anglo-Saxon Aryan. I say that these Replies to "An English F.T.S." are time lost; they will not accept the truth, and they occupy half of every number of the Theosophist that comes out, crowding off other matter. You have done for the Society more than all of them put together will ever accomplish. And yet even you, you have done it neither for Society nor Theosophy, but merely out of a personal devotion to K. H. And if HE were to abandon the Society to morrow, or stop corresponding you would be the first to follow suit and we would hear of you no more.

"It looks silly the pretence of his being too busy to write with his own hand in a matter of the kind when something so important as the growth of the London Lodge Society at this juncture is at stake." Answering the tail of the sentence first, I would ask what has the growth of the Society to do with the change of its name? And what is there so important about it? Simply your personal veneration for the President, I suppose, who has none at all neither for yourself nor the Brothers; on whom she certainly looks de haut en bas. I was from the first against her nomination but had to hold my tongue, since it is K. H.'s selection and that He perceives so wonderful germs in her, that he even disregards her personal flings at Him. And so I was against Wyld's nomination and my valuation of him proved true. An ugly, bigoted, jealous, indelicate brute he is. The many hundreds of signatures of our Hindu fellows sent in their protest against his beastly criticism of Esoteric Buddhism will show them the veneration the Hindus have for their Mahatmas; and if he had not been kicked out of the London Lodge there would have been a revolution in our Branches against the Lodge itself. It threatened to become another Ilbert's bill. Remains to be seen whether your fair Light with its presiding genius "M. A. Oxon" will take notice of these Protests. See the grin and fiendish sneer of M. A. Oxon in Light of Sept. 8, against the Kiddle accusation. Olcott has answered it before his departure and he gave it nice to the great medium of "Imperator" K. H. plagiarising from Kiddle!! Then I have a letter from him, written a year before I knew you and in Professor A. Wilder's (Phrenological Journal) article written seven or eight months later I found about 20 lines verbatim from K. H.'s letter; and now Olcott found in the last Nineteenth Century (July I think, or August) an article "After Death" by Norman Pearson (or something like that) a passage about God something like 18 lines taken verbatim to every comma, from a letter of K. H. written three years ago. Has Norman Somebody plagiarised it from a letter he has never seen? It is a nasty, wicked, mean remark of Oxon's, directed as much against you, his friend, as against me whom he secretly hates. And fancy, of what a philosophical importance these Kiddle lines, to be worthy of plagiarism! Next to "John, bring me my dinner," "ideas that travel or rule the world," — have been mentioned since the days of Plato thousands of times. The "ETERNAL NOW" is a sentence I can show to you in Mrs. Harding Britten's lectures and in an article of mine in the Spiritual Scientist nine years ago, from which she took or perhaps and most probably did not take it, but simply got it from astral impressions. It makes me sick all your Western wickedness and malice.

To return to nos moutons — it looks silly, does it, the pretence of Olcott's being too busy to write with his own hand? Well, my dear Sir, allow me to tell you, that I, who have been just travelling with him for three weeks, I saw, and am a witness to it whether he has one moment of freedom from morning to night. At 5 o'clock in the morning the whole courtyard and veranda of the houses we stopped in were crowded with the lame and the cripple. At every station, the railway platforms were crowded with the sick lying in wait for him. I saw him curing a paralytic (both arms and one leg) between the first and last bell. I saw him begin curing the sick at 6 in the morning, and never sit down till 4 p.m.; and when stopping to eat a plate of vegetable soup have to leave it to cure a possessed woman and his plate of soup remaining unfinished at 7 p.m. and then he would sit down and dictate to his Secretary till 2 in the morning; having only three or four hours sleep, etc. etc. I would like to see your President of the London Lodge sacrificing herself for the lepers and the itchy as he does. I would be happy to find one member in your L.L. doing unremunerated one fourth of the work done by Damodar or Balloi Babu. You ask me to receive what you say "in the interests of the whole undertaking concerned," and I know that the "whole undertaking" is centred for you in the London Lodge. And I say, that you have to receive what I say, in the interests of truth, justice and fairness — with "your feathers unruffled." And I know that you won't. I am pretty certain to be called a fool and an idiot by you in your "soul converse." Welcome. But now you know at least what I think of all this. Of my friendship and gratitude for you and for what you have done you cannot doubt. But I would consider myself the meanest of creatures to read how you lower down poor Olcott — whose shoes none of your most cultured theosophists is worthy to untie — and not to tell you what I think of it. I say you are unjust and unfair. You always forget our penniless position; the helpless position of two people fighting alone and single handed the whole world, and that we have none to help us; and, forgetting Olcott's rare devotion, unselfishness, blameless and pure life, his great philanthropy and most precious qualities you see but one thing! He is an American, a Yankee, while your English sympathies have been during the war for the South, and whom, I verily believe, you hate and cannot forgive only for their being Northern Yankees — and thus you see only the black (seeming) spots in the sun. Olcott is a thousand times higher and nobler and more unselfish than I am, or ever was. Therefore, I, knowing him as I do — say: there was no "mistake of policy" on his part, nor shall he ever assume any other policy but that of most impartial justice to all, if I do know him. Nor has he ever suffered himself "to pose in an arrogant attitude" — for such is not his nature. That he may be lacking the cultured estheticism of your country — is but natural; he is not an Englishman but a true American, and I love him the more for it. Buss — as my Boss says. But your remark that he should answer himself reverentially every line of the London Secretary has cut me to the deep. It is simply an insult.

Explain to you "a little more about Eliphas Levi"? And what the deuce do I know about him? I never saw him. All I know is what I was told. He was a most learned and erudite theoretical Kabalist and occultist. But who ever told you he was a practical adept? Not I. He himself says in his works that he never performed ceremonial magic but once in London evoking Apollonius of Tyana. He was a Roman Catholic Priest — hence his filth and dirt. He had been starved on fasting when in the Order — hence his gluttony and intemperance. In his books he tries to make the esoteric doctrine fit in with R. Catholicism — just as the "fair Anna" does now (and you will rue the day, unless the Chohan can, or rather will consent to break her.) That there is much esotericism in real Catholic Christianity is quite true; but there is still more of fictitious, artificial interpretations. Yet his learning and knowledge were undoubted, and for any one versed in Esotericism his writings are those of a recognised authority — in their theoretical teachings. Of himself he could say: "Do as I tell you, not as I do." I have never heard before that he was so dirty and gluttonous. But if Mrs. Gebhard says so — she knows better, for I have never met him. My aunt went to see him in Paris and she had a bad impression for he took 40 francs for one minute of conversation and explanation of the Tarrot cards. Boss says — that he was a regular doug-pa with the knowledge of a gelukpa.

Olcott is gone day before yesterday on his northern tour. Maharaja of Kashmir sent for him and K. H. ordered him to go to a certain pass where he will be led to by a chela he will send for him. Brown is not here yet but I had a telegram from him from Colombo. They will be both here after to-morrow. I believe Mr. Brown will rejoin Olcott somewhere. Let him go with him by all means and thus see India and learn much for himself.

Well, are you coming out here or not? Or is it all over? K. H. tells me nothing, and if he does not so much the worse for everyone but I do not care. I am only glad that Olcott will see and converse with him. He is in raptures with the expectation. It appears that it is Maha Sahib (the big one) who insisted with the Chohan that Olcott should be allowed to meet personally two or three of the adepts besides his guru M. So much the better. I will not be called perhaps, the only liar, when asserting their actual existence. The best joke of all is, that Hume tells me repeatedly that he knows now K. H. personally and denies the existence of M., though so many more persons have seen him besides myself. I am really sorry for these Replies that appear in the Theosophist. It does seem wisdom thrown out of the window. Well — Their ways are mysterious.

My love to Mrs. Sinnett, and to yourself if you accept it.
Yours ever, faithfully but never SERVILELY.

Letter 28

Chronological Order

Next: Blavatsky Letter 24
Previous: Blavatsky Letter 26

Table of Contents