Published by The Blavatsky Archives. Online Edition copyright 1999.
H.P. Blavatsky's Adieux.
The Ci-Devant Countess Ready to
Depart for the East.
Having Disposed of Strange Gods, She
Ventilates Her Ideas -- The Land of Freedom
[Reprinted from The Daily Graphic (New York),
December 10, 1878, p. 266.]
Helen P. Blavatsky, who has dropped her title of Countess, and even her conventional one of Madame, and who constantly alludes to herself in the third person, as "H.P.B.," is about leaving America, as she says, forever. A very damp reporter found his way into the pleasant French flat at Eighth avenue and Forty-seventh street this morning, and his ring was answered by a colored servant, who expressed serious doubts as to whether her mistress would see any one at so early an hour. The interviewer was, however, ushered into a breakfast room, which was in a very disordered condition, and invited to a seat on a vacant stool. The disorder was a necessary result of yesterdays auction sale, and the only semblance of occupancy left were an uncleared breakfast table and three human occupants. Colonel Olcott, the new hierophant of the Arya-Samaj, sat at the table busily making memoranda in a note-book and burning his handsome moustache with a half-finished cigar that struggled ineffectually to reach beyond the outskirts of his beard. A male companion sat Eastern fashion on a bench under the window and read a morning paper, which he held in one hand, while he twisted one end of his moustache with the other. On the wall were leaves formed in emblematic designs, Rosecrusian or otherwise, and an Oriental landscape of the same material, filled with elephants, serpents, monkeys and other denizens of the typical jungle.
When the reporter was finally ushered into Mme. Blavatskys own room, he found that lady seated at the end of a letter and tobacco laden table, twisting a fragrant cigarette from a quantity of loose tobacco of a famous Turkish brand. The room was the inner temple of the Lamasery, which has become so widely known in recent years. A highly-polished and highly ugly idol, doubtless many years unworshipped, sat with the stolidity of long habit, on the mantleshelf, and in the centre of the room, on a platform delicately constructed from an old barrel, surmounted by a zinc stove plate, was mounted the marvellously designed and artistic treasure house of Arya-Samaj.
The reporter said: "And so you are going to leave America?"
"Yes, and the Lamasery, where I have spent so many happy, happy hours. I am sorry to leave these rooms, although there is little to regret about them now," glancing about at the bared floors and walls, "but I am glad to get away from your country. You have liberty, but that is all, and of that you have too much, too much! Do you wonder I am anxious to leave it when you know how I was received and the treatment I have met? They said I was a spiritualist, a heathen, a believer in all manner of impossible things; that I was an adventuress and had neither title nor family; that I was a felon and a forger; that I had been married seven times and had murdered six of my husbands; that I was a free lover and had never been married; that I was the mistress of Pio Nono, and that I came here a fugitive from justice. Think of it all! They never stopped to think that I was an old woman and not likely to adopt a vile life which had not been mine when I was young, that I have been a bitter hater of Pio Nono and the Catholic religion all my life. Then the reporters came and asked me how I was, how much I was worth, and wanted to see inside my mouth to count my teeth and see whether they were genuine or not. Will you have a cigarette?"
As soon as the reporter could recover from the surprise at this sudden turn in the conversation he signified his willingness to smoke with his hostess, who thereupon discovered that she had no fresh tobacco and called to a servant to go for a supply. Colonel Olcott, however, appeared with ulster, hat and umbrella and volunteered to secure the desired "long cut."
The reporter paid a friendly compliment to the hierophants generous good nature, and asked Mme. Blatavsky: "How with your dislike for America, did you come to abandon your Russian citizenship and become a resident of New York?"
"Ah, you have liberty. I had none. I could not be protected by Russian consuls and so I will be protected by American consuls. It has cost me much. When I took out my papers here, it cost me $40,000. I had forgotten to secure it first and they stopped it en route. It is not a small sum to lose, but I have still other property in Russia which I shall also lose. Still I shall live. I correspond for three papers in Russia, at Moscow and Novnj-Novgorod, and I shall soon have one in St. Petersburg. They pay me liberally. One of them gives me 120 roubles a month, but, of course, I have to be careful what I say. They make me a great deal of trouble. There was M. de Bodisco, who always got himself written Count de Bodisco, but who never was a count, and I dont believe he was ever in Russia. He spoke Russian like a Spanish pig, and his French was extremely bad -- for a Russian. He told me I had no right to come to America, and that he would not allow me to have money sent through him. Then he advised me to buy a place on Long Island, and when I had paid $3,000 for it the woman to whom I had paid the money sold it again and went away, and I found I was helpless, because I was not an American citizen and could not hold real estate. Now I shall have the protection of my citizenship both here and abroad."
"When shall you leave?"
"I do not know. I never knew."
"There!" broke in the lady; "you see what a dear, philanthropic man he is. He will not even allow the servant to go out in the storm, if he can help it."
"I do not know what I shall do an hour beforehand, I am all ready to start and am only waiting for a telegram. Then I shall go in three hours." Here the tobacco arrived, and she continued, as she twisted a sample of fresh cigarettes: "I know neither the time nor the vessel, but it will be very soon and very secretly. No one shall know when I go. I am going first to Liverpool and London, where we have branch theosophical societies, to whom I must take their charters and with whom I must arrange other matters. Then to Paris and one or two other places, and from Marseilles or Brindisi I shall go direct to Bombay. Then I am going to Northeastern India, where the head of the order is, and where I shall obey whatever orders they may give and go where I am told. Oh! how glad I shall be to see my dear Indian home again." and as she arose and wrapped a morning gown of strange design about her, she looked very much the Oriental priestess which she claims she is -- not.