A few days after leaving Paris H.P.B. wrote to Madame Fadeef from London, where she was staying with Miss Arundale:
"My dear, my precious Nadeja Andreevna! For many years I have not cried, but now I have cried out all my tears on losing sight of you two. I thought my heart would burst, I felt so faint. Happily, some kindly French people in the same compartment as myself brought me some water at the next station and took care of me as best they could. At Boulogne Olcott came to meet me, and was nearly ready to cry himself on seeing how ill I was. He was also greatly put out by the thought that you and Vera might think him heartless for not having come to fetch me in Paris. But the poor old body never knew I was so unwell. You know I am always shaky. I spent a night in Boulogne, and next morning five more of our Theosophists came from England to look after me. Amongst them two good friends, Captain B. and his sister Lady T. I was nearly carried to the steamer and off it again, and triumphantly brought to London. I can hardly breathe, but all the same we have a reception this evening, to which probably about fifty of our old acquaintances will come. English people in their totality are not fickle; they have lots of constancy and loyalty. At Charing Cross, Mohini and K. nearly frightened to death all kinds of English people by falling down before me as if I had been an idol. It made me positively angry, this tempting of providence.
"My dear, this new parting from you is so bitter for me, and yet it is a consolation to have seen each other and to have learned to know each other better. I tell you, friend, life has nothing better than the consolation and happiness of the deep affection for things and people we have loved from childhood. This kind of thing can never die: it will have eternal life in eternity. Long, long after I had gone I saw you three together — you, Vera, and Madame de Morsier. She writes me she was with you until the moment your train left. This woman has a good heart, for the sake of which we must forgive her moody temper."
From London, between May and August, 1884:
"I shall never get well here It's not life I lead here, but a sort of mad turmoil from morning till night. Visitors, dinners, evening callers, and meetings every day. Our Olga X. assures me she feels a sort of adoration for me, and daily brings some of her friends to see me. She has already brought me the whole of celebrated London, except the great Minister Gladstone, who, according to the St. James Gazette, both fears and admires me — 'is afraid of as much as he admires her'! To my mind this is simply a kind of glamor. . . . On the 21st July there was a meeting — conversazione as they are called here — in honor of Madame Blavatsky and Col. Olcott, held in the Prince's Hall. At first they printed five hundred invitation cards, and then there was such a rush for them that they had to add nearly as many again. Madame X. wrote asking for two tickets in the name of our Ambassador, and personally brought the Ambassadors of France. Holland, Germany, Turkey, Prince H. of Roumania, and nearly the whole of the staff of her devoted friend Gladstone. Lastly, Hitrovo, our Consul General in Egypt, who came here on business. . . . I leave it to your own imagination to fancy the following picture: a huge hall, ladies in low dresses, costumes de gala of all nations — and I sitting in the place of honor, a kind of kingly throne out of a ballet performance, in my black velvet dress with a tail three yards long (which I hate), and Sinnett and Lord B. and Finch, the President of the London Lodge T.S., bringing and introducing to me, one by one, all who want to make my personal acquaintance. And of such there happened to be — I am trying not to exaggerate — about three hundred people. Just fancy, smiling and shaking hands with three hundred ladies and gentlemen during two hours. Oof!! Lord and Lady H. asked me to dine with them next day. After such an evening: just think of it! Cross, the Secretary for India, sat down beside me and complimented me to such an extent on the love of the Hindus for me that I simply got frightened: they might put a political coloring even on this! Besides all sorts of European notabilities, they introduced to me a heap of black and yellow Princes, Maori, Javanese, Malay — I don't know who. Professor Crookes and his wife sat behind my arm-chair like a pair of adjutants, pointing out to me no end of their colleagues of the Royal Society, celebrated savants in physics, astronomy, and all kinds of 'Dark Sciences'. Now, darling, do you see, do you feel, the working of Karma? English Science, intelligence, and aristocracy paying honors to me which I do not deserve in the least. Master declared to me beforehand it would be so, and now I am perfectly miserable getting lots of visits and invitations, especially after Sinnett's speech in Prince's Hall. He struck an attitude and began to oratorise: 'Ladies and gentlemen! Before you you see a woman who has accomplished a world-wide work. She alone thought out and executed a colossal plan, the creation of a whole army of cultured people whose duty it is to fight against Materialism and Atheism as much as against superstition and an ignorant interpretation of the teaching of Christ (that is to say, against the one hundred and thirty-seven sects, Shakers, Quakers, howling Salvationists revelling in darkness) which is the shame of the Christian world. . . . Ladies and gentlemen of cultured England, behold the woman who has shown the world what can be accomplished by the power of will, steadfastly pursuing a certain aim, and by a strongly realized ideal. All alone, ill, without means, without patronage, without help of any kind, with the sole exception of Col. Olcott, her first convert and apostle, Madame Blavatsky has planned to unite into one intellectual whole a universal brotherhood of all nations and of all races. She has accomplished this undertaking; she has overcome animosity, calumny, the opposition of fanatics, and the indifference of ignorant people. . . . Even our liberal Anglo-Indian government mistakenly arose against her humanitarian mission. But happily it realized its mistake and stopped in time.' And so on and on in the same strain. The applause was deafening. I tried to blush for modesty's sake, but got pale instead for want of air. I nearly fainted, for I am still very weak; though my legs from that moment in the railway station have stopped aching altogether.
"What am I to do with all these letters, evidently intended to arouse my pity, from all these admirers who are so very much in love with me? Half of them I can answer only in thought. But amongst them are many whom I really love and pity, as for instance our poor Solovioff. It's not long since I have come to London, but I have already got two such pitiful letters. The only thing he asks of me is to care for him and not forget him. He says he has never loved anyone outside of his family as he loves poor old me. Also our dear J. D. Glinka: do you know what she has done? She has printed five hundred copies of the document and the letter of Prince Dondukoff clearing me from the calumny of Mdlle. Smirnoff, and has sent them to all who are doubtful about the matter. . . But, God bless my enemies! Now listen to a curious story: M. A. Hitrovo, our Consul in Egypt, called on me and asked me among other things: 'By the way, did you get our telegram, signed collectively by all the crew of the frigate Strelok? We sent from Suez to Port Said an expression of our gratitude to Radha Bai (2) for her kindly affection and remembrance of her compatriots'. I listened silently without understanding a word. 'But don't you remember', he says, 'I, as Consul, had to see off the Ambassador to China, and so was on board the frigate which you met in the Suez Canal'. Only then I remembered. Don't you recollect I told you in Paris about a joke I played in Suez, on the 3d of March if I am not mistaken. Our steamer of the Messagerie had to tie up in order that a big Russian frigate might pass on its way to China. So I took my visiting-card and wrote on it, 'A Russian woman who during many years never saw a Russian face sends a hearty greeting and deep salutations and her wishes for a pleasant voyage to all the Russians, beginning with the Commander and the officers and ending with the Marines. God protect Russia and her Czar!' — signed Radha Bai. And on the other side I wrote my real name and my Adyar address. We put this card into a tin box and flattened it. Then when the frigate was in line with us, Olcott very deftly threw the tin over into a group of officers and soldiers, and I shouted 'A letter to the Commander'. It was handed to him immediately, and under our very eyes he read it out. All the officers took off their caps to me, waving them to my address, and the crew shouted 'Hurrah!' I was awfully pleased. 'We were all very much amused by your invention', said Hitrovo, 'and very much touched by your note. The Ambassador and all the officers immediately agreed to wire you their gratitude to Port Said'. And fancy, isn't it vexing, it was never delivered to me. ... I told Hitrovo I should insist upon its delivery, as a souvenir."
Herr Gebhardt came to fetch H. P. B. from London, and took her over to Elberfeldt, anxious that she should have proper care and rest, as well as tonic waters and massage, which had been ordered by many doctors who had agreed that her brain was the only sound organ in her body. H.P.B writes:
"I travelled as if I had been a queen. Everywhere I had cabins and railway carriages all to myself, and Gebhardt, who came to fetch me in London, never allowed me to pay a penny for anything. We were about fifteen Theosophists travelling together, and here I have also found a large party of German Theosophists waiting for me. The President of the new German Branch, Dr. Hubbe Schleiden, Baron von Hoffman and his wife, du Prel, a certain dignified Countess Spreti with her husband and Aide-de-Camp — for he is a General — Captain U. I may well say with Madame Kourdukoff (3) that I have found here a company of lords, counts, and princes, all of them very decent people — and all Theosophists of ours. Besides them there was the celebrated painter, Gabriel Max (don't you know?), with his wife and his sister-in-law, and Madame Hammerle from Odessa; and Solovioff writes that he will not fail to come. What if you come als?"
Next came the Coulomb disturbance. In regard to this Madame Jelihovsky writes: "H.P.B. stayed nearly two months in Germany and was thinking of settling in Europe for good — a step greatly recommended by the doctors. But at this time began a tragi-comedy, preparations for which had been made long previously by the enemies of her work. The Christian College Magazine of Madras issued a series of letters purporting to be signed by her and to be written to a certain French woman, Madame Coulomb. This Madame Coulomb, with her husband, had kept a hotel in Cairo some years before, and Helena Petrovna had stayed in it during the existence of her Spiritualistic Society which never succeeded. Unfortunately for her, she met them again, many years later, in India, when they were in abject misery and want, and kind-heartedly sheltered them in her house. In H.P.B.'s absence Madame Coulomb quarrelled with all the occupants of the house, and consequently thought of finding some other situation for herself. Then Madame Coulomb was offered a very profitable transaction. Someone was sent to them by a certain missionary, explaining to them that in destroying this heretical Society they would act as good Christians — and besides would earn a goodly sum of money. This the Coulombs tried to earn as all now know. H.P.B. writes:
"Everything has changed. A hostile wind is blowing on us. What cure, what health is possible for me? I have to go back quickly to the climate that is fatal to me. It can't be helped. Were I to pay for it with death, I must clear up these schemes and calumies because it is not me alone they harm: they shake the confidence of people in our work, and in the Society, to which I have given the whole of my soul. So how can I care for my life? . . . They write to us that in Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta all the street walls are covered with thousands of placards: 'Fall of Madame Blavatsky; her Intrigues and Deceits Discovered' — and so on and so on. But on the other hand there are more than a thousand people who have arisen in my defence. Not letters alone, but telegrams costing thousands of rupees have been sent to the Times of London. As to India, the war there is more than a newspaper war. About two hundred native students have crossed out their names from the registers of this Christian College whose journal has printed these wonderful letters of mine. To be fair to truth, I must say that with the exception of two or three government papers in India, everyone is on my side. Even here some people have shown themselves real friends to me. Madame N. brought Mackenzie Wallace to see me; he has lived in Russia, and has written such an excellent book about Russia and speaks Russian so well. He is going to be sent as a Secretary to the Viceroy, Lord Dufferin. He gave me a letter of introduction to Nubar Pasha of Cairo, requesting him to help me in finding information about the Coulombs. Above all it is necessary to show up these rascals."
1. Copyright, 1895. (return to text)
2. "Radha Bai" was H.P.B.'s Russian nom-de-plume. (return to text)
3. Madame Kourdukoff is the heroine of a well-known Russian comic poem, a mixture of Russian, French, German, and English. (return to text)
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