[Light, London, Vol. IX, No. 447, July 27, 1889, p. 364]
To the Editor of Light.
It is perhaps hardly worth while to take up your space in exposing the careless and ignorant blundering of “Colenso”—a singularly inappropriate signature, by the way, for one so reckless about his facts. But, for this once, I will make a statement that may put an end to the incessant carping over trifles that can serve but to needlessly embitter controversy.
There is no such thing known to occultists as a “seven years’ initiation.” The probation, which “Colenso” confuses with initiation, can be lived out anywhere, and this “Colenso” would have known if he had read Mr. Sinnett’s paragraph with even ordinary care, since he says that any
English gentleman can pass through it without observation. “Colenso’s” inexorable arithmetic is thus wasted trouble, and his careful calculations on Himalayan ranges are wholly beside the mark; since the seven years’ initiation in one place is an absurdity, and a seven years’ probation attached to the skirts of the Masters is another. All this is a creation of his own imagination, and while I regret that my life does not fit into the framework made for it by him, and by other similar critics, the misfit is scarcely my fault. Bishop Colenso’s work would have fallen very flat if he had been as careless of his facts as the writer who now uses his name.
But, apart from this latest attack, why should Spiritualists feel so interested in my travels, studies, and their supposed dates? Why should they be so eager to unravel imagined mysteries, denounce alleged (or even possible) mistakes, in order to pick holes in everything Theosophical? To even my best friends I have never given but very fragmentary and superficial accounts of the said travels, nor do I propose to gratify anyone’s curiosity, least of all that of my enemies. The latter are quite welcome to believe in and spread as many cock-and-bull stories about me as they choose, and to invent new ones as time rolls on and the old stories wear out. Why, again, should they not, since they disbelieve in Theosophical adepts, turn their attention to Spiritual adepts, who perform far more curious and astonishing feats than were ever claimed by the Theosophists? Witness the Adept of Mrs. E. Hardinge Britten, “Louis,” in Art Magic, and Ghost Land.* Which of the Tibetan Mahatmas has ever looked through Lord Rosse’s telescope, at Greenwich (England), when the said telescope was built and has never been moved from Parsonstown, Ireland? And if Mrs. Hardinge Britten’s “Louis” could see the mysterious “Spirit-heads” in the sky (presumably with his legs at Greenwich and his face and eyes in Ireland), and that such superhuman feat, though often talked about, was never questioned
* [For information concerning Art Magic, the reader is referred to Col. H. S. Olcott’s Old Diary Leaves, Vol. I, Chap. xii.—Compiler.]
in print by the Theosophists, more polite and discreet in this than the Spiritualists, why should the latter go out of the way to cast mud at us?
Finally, let me say, once for all, I cannot and will not hold myself responsible for blunders, inaccuracies, and contradictions, in statements about me which are not made over my own signature. As regards the “incidents,” I know that the part directly translated from my sister’s pamphlet is accurate;* but I have not read the book with sufficient care to know whether the remainder is, or is not, correct in all points. Mr. Sinnett knows, better than anyone else, that I reached Pskoff on Christmas Day, in 1860, not in 1871;† and I feel almost sure it is so stated in the Incidents, though, being in France, I cannot refer to the passage. Between 1871 and 1873 I was in Cairo and Odessa. If any other date is given it must be a misprint. But, again, I will not be responsible for any statements in Theosophical books that are not by me. All that appears over my own signature I am prepared to stand by, but for the future it must be
* [The reference is to A. P. Sinnett’s Incidents in the Life of Madame Blavatsky. Compiled from Information supplied by her Relatives and Friends. London: George Redway; and New York: J. W. Bouton, 1886. It would seem that H.P.B.’s sister, Madame Vera P. de Zhelihovsky, wrote some account of H.P.B.’s early years, different from other similar accounts published by her in several Journals. H.P.B. translated portions of it into English, and gave them to Sinnett to make use of (See The Letters of H.P.B. to A.P.S., p. 116). This translation, or at least a portion of it, is in the Adyar Archives. It is probable that H.P.B. had this account in mind when referring to a “pamphlet,” because Sinnett’s Incidents quote Madame de Zhelihovsky in a way which does not identify her explanations with anything she had previously written and published. The accounts are similar, but the wording is not.—Compiler.]
† [H.P.B. was often inaccurate with regard to dates pertaining to her personal life. According to her own sister’s account, H.P.B. arrived at Pskoff on Christmas Eve, 1858 (Vide her serial story entitled: Pravda o Yelene Petrovne Blavatskoy—The Truth about H. P. Blavatsky, in Rebus. St. Petersburg, Vol. II, 1883). Mr. Sinnett states it so himself (Incidents, p. 76). In one or two other places. H.P.B. gives the date of 1859. In all dates concerning H.P.B.’s personal life, her sister, Vera Petrovna de Zhelihovsky, is a far more reliable witness, as she is known to have kept a careful diary of events.—Compiler.]
understood that in leaving various legends and myths uncorrected, I do not thereby endorse their accuracy. Really my silence must only be taken to mean that I am engaged in matters more important to Theosophy than the answering of every spiteful attack of the Spiritualists.
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
July 14th, 1889.