Theosophical University Press Online Edition
MY DEAR MR. SINNETT,
I will try to do what I can to enliven the narrative in the Memoirs, because I promised I would, and mean to keep to my promise, however disagreeable it may be for me personally. I will not disappoint you; I mean to ransack my brain in the pigeon-holes of the past and make it at least interesting in its Russian character of occult reminiscences — since it is in no way interesting now, as the Countess and Hartmann both tell me. Of course, as they now stand — those unfortunate Memoirs do remind one of a Harlequin's costume sown out of different patches. This is not your fault for you have done the best you could under the circumstances. Yet, on the whole as Illarion well expressed it, it does leave one the impression of a timid, scared beggar, determined to shove herself amid a fine Society of ladies and gentlemen and putting on the outside all her poor little finery, trying to conceal with it her inward nakedness. "Look at me gents — I too, I have interesting things to brag of, and show to you. Only don't look under — pray." This is the real impression it leaves. Something, broken, unfinished, chaotic and not even romantic. LYING — brilliant lively fiction would answer better than such bits and snaps from one's long, miserable, eventful and ever slandered life, as mine was.
Now you labour under the impression that only such Memoirs of "Mme. B.'s" life, could, at this juncture produce a reaction — one of thrilling interest, if not of vindication and full justification. I make bold to say that nothing of the kind can or will. One thing in the whole world could do it if I ever could consent to it; and it is the truth and nothing but the truth — the WHOLE of it. This would, indeed, make all Europe jump from its seat and produce a revolution. But you see, I am an Occultist; a pucka not a sham one, in truth. I am one at heart, whatever I may seem else in the eyes of even the inner group, the "O. G." I will not give back in the same coin as I receive, however much mine may differ from theirs — as the latter is false and mine is true. I look at all those people barking and spitting venom around me now, as a disembodied spirit may at the dogs baying at his shadow. I have suffered out the whole material of suffering I had in my earthly nature and there's no more fuel. I will struggle and fight on so long as I last; and then one fine day, the fatal puncture in the heart will make itself felt and I will be a "lovely corpse" five or six minutes after that, if not earlier. This is the programme. Until then — well, let things go.
Therefore, since there is a very serious proposition made in your last letter to me, one that necessitates this long answer, I have to tell you my determination for the last time and at the same time to give you reasons for it, as I have too much esteem and affection for you to let you labour under the false impression that "it is one more whim of the 'O. L.' " It is not; and you have to be assured of, and made to see it. Hence — this preliminary and my asking you to forgive the necessity of the long epistle. I do not know English enough to be brief.
You say, "Thus, for example, we must bring in the whole of that Metrovitch incident." I say we must not. These Memoirs will not bring my vindication. This I know as well as I knew that The Times would not notice my letter against Hodgson's Report. Not only will they fail to do so, "if they are made sufficiently complete," but if they appeared in six volumes and ten times as interesting — they will never vindicate me; simply because "Metrovitch" is only one of the many incidents that the enemy throws at my head. If I touch this "incident" and vindicate myself fully, a Solovioff, or some other blackguard will bring out the Meyendorf and "the three children incident." And if I were to publish his letters (in Olcott's possession) addressed to his "darling Nathalie" in which he speaks of her raven black hair "Longs comme un beau manteau de roi," — as de Musset expresses it of his Marquesa d'Arnedi's hair — then I would be simply dealing a slap on the face of a dead martyr, and call forth the convenient shadow of someone else from the long gallery of my supposed lovers. Now why should I bring out Metrovitch? Suppose I said the whole truth about him? What is it? Well, I knew the man in 1850, over whose apparently dead corpse I stumbled over in Pera, at Constantinople, as I was returning home one night from Bougakdira to Missire's hotel. He had received three good stabs in his back from one, or two, or more Maltese ruffians, and a Corsican, who were paid for it by the Jesuits. I had him picked up, after standing over his still breathing corpse for about four hours, before my guide could get mouches to pick him up. The only Turkish policeman meanwhile who chanced to come up asking for a baksheesh and offering to roll the supposed corpse into a neighbouring ditch, then showing a decided attraction to my own rings and bolting only when he saw my revolver pointing at him. Remember, it was in 1850, and in Turkey. Then I had the man carried to a Greek hotel over the way, where he was recognised and taken sufficiently care of, to come back to life. On the next day he asked me to write to his wife and Sophie Cruvelli (the Duchess's dear friend now Vicomtesse de Vigier at Nice and Paris, and at the time his mistress; No. 1 scandal). I wrote to his wife and did not to the Cruvelli. The former arrived from Smyrna where she was, and we became friends. I lost sight of them after that for several years and met him again at Florence, where he was singing at the Pergola, with his wife. He was a Carbonaro, a revolutionist of the worst kind, a fanatical rebel, a Hungarian, from Metrovitz, the name of which town he took as a nom de guerre. He was the natural son of the Duke of Lucea, as I believe, who brought him up. He hated the priests, fought in all the rebellions, and escaped hanging by the Austrians, only because — well, it's something I need not be talking about. Then I found him again in Tiflis in 1861, again with his wife, who died after I had left in 1865 I believe; then my relatives knew him well and he was friends with my cousins Witte. Then, when I took the poor child to Bologna to see if I could save him I met him again in Italy and he did all he could for me, more than a brother. Then the child died; and as it had no papers, nor documents and I did not care to give my name in food to the kind gossips, it was he, Metrovitch who undertook all the job, who buried the aristocratic Baron's child -- under his, Metrovitch's name saying "he did not care," in a small town of Southern Russia in 1867. After this, without notifying my relatives of my having returned to Russia to bring back the unfortunate little boy whom I did not succeed to bring back alive to the governess chosen for him by the Baron, I simply wrote to the child's father to notify him of this pleasant occurrence for him and returned to Italy with the same passport. Then comes Venice, Florence, Mentana. The Garibaldis (the sons) are alone to know the whole truth; and a few more Garibaldians with them. What I did, you know partially; you do not know all. My relatives do, my sister does not, and therefore and very luckily Solovioff does not.
Now, shall I, in the illusive hope of justifying myself, begin by exhuming these several corpses — the child's mother, Metrovitch, his wife, the poor child himself, and all the rest? NEVER. It would be as mean, and sacrilegious as it would be useless. Let the dead sleep, I say. We have enough avenging shadows around us — Walter Gebhard, the last. Touch them not, for you would only make them share the slaps in the face and the insults I am receiving, but you would not succeed to screen me in any way. I do not want to lie, and I am not permitted to tell the truth. What shall we, what can we, do? The whole of my life except the weeks and months I passed with the Masters, in Egypt or in Tibet, is so inextricably full of events with whose secrets and real actuality the dead and the living are concerned, and I made only responsible for their outward appearance, that to vindicate myself, I would have to step on a hecatomb of the dead and cover with dirt the living. I will not do so. For, firstly, it will do me no good except adding to other epithets I am graced with, that of a slanderer of post mortem reputation, and accused, perhaps, of chantage and blackmail; and secondly I am an Occultist, as I told you. You speak of my "susceptibilities" with regard to my relatives, I say it is occultism, not susceptibilities. I KNOW the effect it would have on the dead, and want to forget the living. This is my last and final decision: I WILL NOT TOUCH THEM.
And now, to another aspect of the thing.
I am repeatedly reminded of the fact, that, as a public character, a woman, who, instead of pursuing her womanly duties, sleeping with her husband, breeding children, wiping their noses, minding her kitchen and consoling herself with matrimonial assistants on the sly and behind her husband's back, I have chosen a path that has led me to notoriety and fame; and that therefore I had to expect all that befell me. Very well, I admit it, and agree. But I say at the same time to the world: "Ladies and gentlemen, I am in your hands and subject and subordinate to the world's jury, only since I founded the T.S. Between H. P. Blavatsky from 1875 and H. P. B. from 1830 to that date, is a veil drawn and you are in no way concerned with what took place behind it, before I appeared as a public character. It was my PRIVATE LIFE holy and sacred, to all but the slanderous and venomous mad-dogs who poke their noses under cover of the night into every family's and every individual's private lives. To those hyenas who will unearth every tomb by night to get at the corpses and devour them, I owe no explanations. If I am prevented by circumstances from killing them, I have to suffer, but no one can expect me to stand on Trafalgar Square and to be taking into my confidence all the city roughs and cabmen that pass. And even these, have more my respect and confidence than your reading and literary public, your "drawing room" and Parliament ladies and gentlemen. I would rather trust an honest, half drunk cabman than I would the former. I have lived little in the world even in my own country, but I know it — especially for the last decade — better than you know them perhaps, though you have been moving in the midst of that cultured and refined lot for the last 25 years of your life. Well, humbled down as I am, slandered, vilified and covered with mud, I say that it would be beneath my dignity to throw myself on their mercy and judgement. Had I even been all they accuse me of; had I had lovers and children by the bushels; who among all that lot is pure enough to throw at me openly and publicly the first stone? A Bibiche who was caught, is in company with hundreds of others who have not been so exposed, but — they are no better than she is. The higher spheres of Society, from Grand Duchesses and Princesses of blood down to their cameristes -- are all honey combed with secret sensuality, licentiousness and prostitution. Out of ten women married and unmarried if you find one who is pure — I am ready to proclaim the present world comparatively holy, yet, with very few exceptions all the women are liars to themselves as to others. Men are all no better than animals and brutes in their lower natures. And it is they, such a lot, that I am going to ask to sit in judgement over me; to address them tacitly and virtually, by describing certain events in my life in the Memoirs to "please give me the benefit of the doubt." "Dear ladies and gentlemen, you, who have never failed to sin behind a shut door, you, who are all tainted with the embraces of other women's husbands and other men's wives, you, not one of whom is exempt from the pleasure of keeping a skeleton or two in your family closets — please take my defence." No Sir, I die rather than do it! As Hartmann truly remarked, it is far more important what I myself think of me, than what the world does. It is that which I know of myself that will be my judge hereafter, not what a reader who buys for a few shillings my life, "a made up one" as he will always think — believes of me. If I had daughters whose reputations I might damage by failing to justify my behaviour I would perhaps resort to such an indignity. As I have none and that three days after my death all the world save a few theosophists and friends will have forgotten my name — let all go, I say.
The moral of the above and conclusion: you are welcome to stun the public with the recital of my life day after day ever since the T. S. was founded, and the public is entitled to it. I dare say you could do hundred times more good by laying it bare before the readers, than by initiating them into the life of a Russian, one of thousands and with whom they are by no means concerned, (at any rate I am not concerned with them). Then you have fourteen or fifteen volumes of Scrap Books, to furnish you with material enough for 100 volumes — "The History of the Theos. Soc. and its Fellows, of Their Tribulations and Triumphs, their ups and Downs." This would be legitimate work every word of which could be verified and this not easily gainsaid by the enemy. The Memoirs have just arrived at that point (in the proofs I have). Show systematically the unheard of persecutions, conspiracies, even the mistakes made and that will be our justification. "We hate and persecute only that which we fear." You might make the movement immortal if you would undertake to describe it. Leave Part I as it is, with many additions I have made and will make. Do not hurry with the publication and leave me time to see you personally at Ostende. Believe me it will be better. Write to Olcott to ask him to copy for you some portions of Prince Emil Wittgenstein's letter to him about me; and from others who knew and met me at various times. Hartmann seems to have plenty of material he has collected from letters received by him and he seems willing to give them up. Anything from others, however erroneous for which neither you or I will stand responsible. What I add is not mine but from several letters I received from my aunt. I deliver myself into your hands and ask you only to remember that the Memoirs are sure to throw out like a volcano some fresh mud and flames. Do not awake the sleeping dogs more than necessary. That I never was Mme. Metrovitch or even Mme. Blavatsky is something, the proofs of which I will carry to my grave — and its no one's business. If I had a husband to screen and protect me I might have been a Messalina to my heart's pleasure and no one would dare, save in under breath, to say a word against me. When I think that I stand open to prosecution for defamation because I wrote in a private letter that a woman who wrote such a letter to Mohini must be a Potiphar; and that every one in England seems to have a legal right to accuse me openly and publicly of bigamy, trigamy and prostitution without my being able to say one word in my defence in a Court of Law — I am inclined to send for a dose of peppermint — I feel sick with disgust. The contempt and scorn I feel for your free country with its boasted justice and equity, is unutterable and beyond words. I feel like asking the Russian Govt. to permit me to return to die in some corner where I will be left quiet. The sense of my duty to the Masters is the only thing that prevents me from doing it. He who does not meddle with politics is safe in Russia and libel is severely punished there. What is my future? What have I before me thanks to your missionaries, to the English fiend called Coulomb, to the Bibiche tongues that soil one as soon as they touch one, to the Hindus made Gods in Europe and kicked in their own country, to all the ding and clash around me? I cannot return to India, so long as the Coulomb is at Bombay and the Padris around us, I would only ruin the Society. No sooner will I have landed than some one of them will find some pretext to bring me into Court and then — goodbye Society. Your Cambridge Dons have ruined me, thanks to the handles they got in the shape of Olcott's idiotic braying, people's cowardice and various other things. I am a thing of the Past — and a sorry looking thing, dirtied beyond words. There is no help and no salvation for me. Try to screen yourselves, and leave me to my present fate. And thus —
I WILL NOT WRITE ANYTHING about the "Metiovitch incident" nor any other incident of the sort, where politics and secrets of dead people are mixed up. This is my last and final determination. If you can make the Memoirs interesting in some other way, do so, and I will help you. Anything you like after 1875. My life was a public and an opened life since then, and except during my hours of sleep I was never alone. I defy the whole world to Prove any of the accusations brought against me during that time. As for phenomena — had I been the immaculate Virgin Mary to that day — it would have been the same thing. This is all our fault. Mine, Olcott's, yours, Damodar's, everyone, even the Masters who looked on and — permitted it. We cannot expect to be ever waving a scarlet rag before the bull and then complain of his goading us. And, as in this case it is the worst kind of a bull — your "John Bull." Of course we came out of it second best.
Pray excuse my frankness and the long letter.
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
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