IF YOU SHOOT AT A CROW, DO NOT KILL A COW
[Lucifer, Vol. III, No. 18, February, 1889, p. 494]
Mighty is the voice of Journalism in London, but heavy the artillery of its sal Atticum, at times. Who is like thee, O, Echo, among the newspapers in that direction? Who, we ask, can surpass thee in the freshness of thy grin, and the variety of thy information? “None,” the Echo thinks, but we do otherwise. Vade retro! . . . you are not even a voice, but merely the distorted reverberation of many confused voices — vox et praeterea nihil. The fair Grecian nymph, whose name the Echo assumed, pined away, until there remained nothing of her but the echo of her complaining voice. The Cheshire cat vanished gradually before her audience, until all disappeared but her grin. The London Echo has not even that to leave to its readers. It grins on its own account and finds no response, as no true Echo should. Of course, no sensible person can seriously contemplate an answer, or enter into polemics with a poor, irresponsible poll-parrot. But its fatuous ignorance is so delightful and its pretensions to wit so grotesque, that a recent and triple blunder in the said paper may be noticed for once.
“The Madame Blavatsky . . . . supposed to be a Russian” you see, has written something very “incoherent and laughable,” on the authority of a monk in the Himalayas. . . whose name is spelled Koot-humi.” That “something,” shooting far above the heads of the wits on the Echo’s staff, needs no comment. But then a third party is slandered along with the “monk,” and “The Mme. B.,” and this party is no less a personage than the great Oxford Sanskritist.
For, the reader is notified by the Echo’s Thought-readers that:—
“Poor Professor Max Muller (who ought to know) can make nothing of this singular name (Koot-humi). It is not Sanskrit; it does not belong to any known language.”
As the “poor” Echo can but repeat magpie-like what it hears, and can hardly be expected to read, of course no one should take it to task for either the bad spelling of the name (Mr. A. P. Sinnett’s works are not read in such quarters) nor its pompous assertion that the name “Koot-hoomi” is not Sanskrit. But this is no reason why a great Sanskrit scholar should be rashly insulted and supposed to share the ignorance of the reporters of the Echo. Even an ignorant and innocent penny-a-liner ought not to be allowed to speak of what he knows nothing at all. His editor, if not himself, is invited to open Book IV, cap. iii, of the Vishnu-Purâna before he allows his news-mongers to assert that the said name “is not Sanskrit.” Let him learn the existence of the descendants of the Koot-hoomis, in Bengal, and ascertain from the Library of the Asiatic Society that a code of Koot-hoomi (or Kut’humi) is among the eighteen codes left to us by the Rishis. Verily, here’s a newspaper man more worthy of “Barnum’s” attention than any society. “Poor Professor Max Muller,” would have a right to full damages in a libel-case for such a malicious accusation as the above, a charge of crass ignorance. Only . . . . how can such a weak Echo ever penetrate into the study, the sanctum sanctorum of the eminent European philologist.—[Ed.]