ARE ALL RUSSIAN LADIES RUSSIAN AGENTS?
WHAT MADAME BLAVATSKY HAS TO SAY
[Pall Mall Gazette, London, Vol. XLIX, January 3, 1889, p. 7] *
A certain young lady, by name A. de Grasse Stevens, has excited no small indignation in the Russian camp by putting into literary form in her novel, Miss Hildreth, the popular delusion as to the political machinations of all Russian ladies who may happen to find themselves outside the frontier of their own country. This indiscreet young lady in the first volume of her novel makes Count Melikoff address the following remarks to Mr. Tremain:
Our agents of the first section are generally well known; as a rule they make no secret of their connection with the Imperial Chancellerie, and they consist of both sexes and of all classes. Indeed, we find our cleverest work often accomplished by ladies. I need but mention Madame Novikoff, whose influence and power over a certain Premier of England is but a matter of common on dits, and who at one time seriously affected the foreign policy of Great Britian. That work accomplished, she has wrought further mischief to her Majesty’s Government by encompassing the defection of Dhuleep Singh, and enlisting him under Russia’s flag. It is not beside the question, Sir, if, in the future, he does not become a source of trouble to the British authorities at Calcutta. That, Sir, is one woman’s work. On the Continent, again, I could point out to you, in almost every city of importance, a like emissary. In Paris there was the charming Princess Lise Troubetskoi, followed now by the Marquis de—— and his fascinating wife, whose hotel is the gathering-place of all the élite, and whose identity is as strictly unknown now as when they first startled all Paris by the magnificence of their entertainments. At Brussels you will find Madame de M—; at Dresden, the Countess de B——; in Switzerland, the Prince A. P.––––; and at Rome, the Marquise di P—–. Even Egypt is not forgotten, and in the Countess J—— Russia finds an able coadjutor, whose position as lady-in-waiting to the Vice-Queen gains for us many secrets communicated by the British Government to the Khedive. And, even you, Sir,
* [This is the article referred to by H. P. B. in the closing paragraph of “Lodges of Magic,” which immediately precedes the present one.—Compiler.]
must remember the great noise regarding Madame Blavatsky, who, as the priestess of theosophy, for many years carried on a secret correspondence with M. Zinovieff, then Chief of the Asiatic Department of the Foreign Office, and with Prince Doudaroff Korsakoff, Governor-General of the Caucasus. But for Lord Dufferin’s clear-sightedness, Madame might still be carrying on her patriotic work.
What she says about Madame Novikoff is too utterly absurd to require even a word of disclaimer—it can be passed over in silence—but Madame Blavatsky, who is the other Russian lady named in full, is very indignant, as we stated the other day, and is assured by her lawyers that she is distinctly libelled in the publication, and that no jury on earth, no matter how prejudiced they might be against her as a Russian, and a Theosophist, and the editor of Lucifer, could refuse to return a verdict against the novelist.
On applying to Madame Blavatsky, however, for her view of the matter, she replied to us as follows:
“There are only three or four lines which refer to me. The dozen other persons who are lied about in this work of unique fiction are invited to take care of themselves. As for me it is enough for me to answer the four distinct falsehoods and the libel for which the author is responsible on my account alone. These falsehoods are based on no foundation whatever, save perhaps on public gossip and the efforts of those good souls who think that the best way of ‘entertaining people’ is to serve them with slices of freshly murdered reputations. This particular calumny is an ancient three-years-old slander, picked up from the gutters of Anglo-Indian hill stations, and revived to serve a special purpose by one who, unknown to the world the day before, has since made himself famous in the annals of the world’s iniquitous verdicts by playing at the detective on false scents. But if the originator of this vile invention is not the authoress of Miss Hildreth, she is still the first one who has had the impudence of recording it in a novel, adding to it, moreover, a flavour of her own venom. It is, therefore, to her that I address the following refutations.
“1. I have never corresponded, whether secretly or openly, with a ‘Monsieur Zinovief’; nor with the General of this name; nor have I ever been accused before to my knowledge of having done so.
“2. I have never written in all my life on politics, of which I know nothing. I take no interest in political intrigues, regarding them as the greatest nuisance and a bore, the most false of all systems in the code of ethics. I feel the sincerest pity for those diplomats who, being honourable men, are nevertheless obliged to deceive all their lives, and to embody a living, walking LIE.
“3. Ten years ago, the Anglo-Indian Government, acting upon a false, malicious insinuation, mistook me for a spy; but after the Police had shadowed me for over eight months—without unearthing a trace of the charge brought against me—it found to its great sorrow that it had made an April-fool of itself. Yet the Anglo-Indian Government acted, after that, in the most honourable way. In November, 1879, Lord Lytton issued an order to the Political Department that Colonel Olcott and myself should be no longer subjected to the insulting surveillance of the Anglo-Indian Police. (Vide the Allahabad Pioneer, November 11, 1879.) From that day we were no longer annoyed.
“4. Prince Doudaroff Korsakoff stands probably as the cunning anagram of Prince Dondoukoff-Korsakoff? This gentleman has been a friend of my family and myself since 1846; yet beyond two or three letters exchanged, I have never corresponded with him. It was Mr. Primrose, Lord Lytton’s Secretary, who was the first to write to him, in order to sift to the bottom another mystery. The Anglo-Indian Mrs. Grundy had mistaken me for my ‘twin-brother’ apparently, and people wanted to know which of us was drowned in the washtub during our infancy—myself or that ‘twin-brother,’ as in the fancy of the immortal Mark Twain. Hence the correspondence for purposes of identification.
“5. Lord Dufferin’s ‘clear-sightedness’ is no doubt a fact of history. But why endow his Lordship with soothsaying? Doomed by my physicians to certain death unless
I left India (I have their medical certificate), I was leaving Madras for Europe almost on the day of Lord Dufferin’s arrival at Calcutta. But then perhaps Lord Dufferin stands in the novel only cabalistically for Lord Ripon? In such case, as all three Viceroys—from 1879 to 1888—are now in Europe, it is easy to learn the truth, especially from the Marquis of Ripon who remained Viceroy during almost the whole period of my stay in India. Let the Press inquire, from itself or its Secretaries, whether it has been ever proven by any of their respective Governments that I was a political agent whatever may be the malicious society gossip of my enemies. Nor do I feel so certain yet, unless this disgraceful rumour is sufficiently refuted, that I will not appeal directly to the justice and honour of these three noblemen. Nobless oblige. The least of beggars has a right to seek redress from law, and to appeal to the evidence of the highest in the land, if that evidence can save his honour and reputation, especially in a case like this, when truth can be made known with one simple word from these high witnesses—a yea or a nay.
“I say it again, Miss de Grasse Stevens and her publishers stand accused of an uncalled for libel. I may or may not be endowed by nature with the potentiality or even the commission of every mortal sin. But it so happens that I have never meddled in politics, am innocent of any knowledge of political intrigues, never bothered myself with this special science at any time of my long life, and that ‘where there is nothing, the King himself loses all rights.’ The ‘spy’ charge was thus at all times a mare’s nest.
“In closing I would offer a bit of advice to my last slanderer. Since the authoress of Miss Hildreth seems chronically afflicted with the political microbe, let her try her hand at something she knows more about than subterranean Russia and its agents. Her book is not only libellous, it is absurd and ridiculous. To make Count Melikoff talk in a drawing-room of our ‘little Father’ (read the Tzar!!!) is as correct as it would be to address Miss Stevens au sérieux as ‘the great Mother-Squaw’ in
London. Let her turn to the realistic beauties of her native lobbyism for which she seems admirably fitted; otherwise she will soon come to grief.”