That cause must be weak and
desperate, indeed, that has to resort to the arts of the slanderer to prop
it up and injure its victims. And it is truly lamentable to see people adopting
these tactics against the Theosophical Society and its founders. Soon after
we reached India we were obliged to begin legal proceedings against a missionary
organ, to compel its editor to apologize for some base slanders he had indulged
in; and readers of The Theosophist are aware of the conduct of the
Christian party in Ceylon, and their utter discomfiture at Panadure. However
great our efforts to avoid any conflict with them, some strange fatality
seems to be for ever urging these good people to adopt questionable measures
to hasten their own ultimate ruin. Our Society has been their favourite
mark. The most recent shot was fired at Benares by a well-known convert
to the Christian faith, who, unable to lay hold upon anything disreputable
in our Indian career, did his best to injure us in a certain important direction
by sneeringly suggesting to a very high personage that Colonel Olcott was
a man of no position in his own country, and had doubtless come to India
as an adventurer, to make money out of the people. Happily his venom was
poured into unsympathetic ears. Yet, as he is a man of a certain influence,
and others of our friends have also been similarly approached by him and
other enemies of ours, such calumnies as these cannot be well overlooked.
We are quite aware that a document of such a nature as the present, if launched
on the public without a word of explanation, would give rise to criticism,
and perhaps be thought in bad taste, unless very serious and important reasons
can be shown for its appearance. Such reasons unquestionably exist, even
were no account to be taken of the malicious plot of our Benares opponent.
When, in addition to this, we reflect that ever since we landed in this
country, impelled by motives, sincere and honest though, perhaps, as
we now find it ourselves, too enthusiastic, too unusual in foreigners to
be readily believed in by natives without some more substantial proof than
our simple word we have been surrounded by more enemies and opponents
than by friends and sympathizers; and that we two are strangers to rulers
as well as the ruled, we believe that no available proof should be withheld
that will show that, at least, we are honest and peaceful people, if not
actually that which we know ourselves to be most sincere friends of
India and her sons. Our personal honour, as well as the honour of the whole
Society, is at stake at the present moment. "Tell me what your friends
are and I will tell you what you are," is a wise saying. A man at Colonel
Olcotts time of life is not likely to so change in character as to
abandon his country, where he has such an honourable past and where his
income was so large as it was, to come to India and turn "adventurer."
Therefore, we have concluded, with Colonel Olcotts permission, to
give the following details. They are but a few out of many now lying before
us, that show his honourable, efficient and faithful career, both as a member
of the Bar, a private gentleman, and a public official, from the year 1853
down to the very moment of his departure from the United States for India.
As Colonel Olcott is not a man to sound his own praises, the writer, his
colleague, may state that his name has been widely known in America for
nearly thirty years as a promoter of various public reforms. It was he who
founded (in 1856) the first scientific agricultural school there upon the
Swiss model; it was he again who aided in introducing a new crop now universally
cultivated; addressed three state legislatures upon the subject by invitation;
wrote three works upon agriculture, of which one passed through seven editions,
and was introduced into the school libraries; was offered by Government
a botanical mission to Caffraria, and, later, the Chief Commissionership
of Agriculture, and was offered by M. Evangelides, of Greece, the Professorship
of Agriculture in the University of Athens. He was at one time Agricultural
Editor of Horace Greeleys great journal, The Tribune, and
also American Correspondent of The Mark Lane Express. For
his public services in connection with agricultural reform he was voted
two medals of honour by the National (U.S.) Agricultural Society, and a
silver goblet by the American Institute.
The breaking out of the fearful civil war in America called every man
to serve his country. Colonel Olcott after passing through four battles
and one siege (the capture of Fort Macon), and after recovering from a severe
illness contracted in the field, was offered by the late Secretary of War
the highly honourable and responsible appointment of Special Commissioner
of the War Department; and two years later, was, at the request of the late
Secretary of the Navy, ordered on special duty in connection with that branch
of the service, additional to his regular duties in the War Department.
His services were most conspicuous, as his papers which include a complimentary
report to the U.S. Senate, by the Secretary of the Navy prove.
At the close of the war the national army of one million men was quietly
disbanded, and was reäbsorbed back into the nation as though nothing
had happened. Colonel Olcott resumed his profession, and was shortly invited
to take the secretaryship and practical direction of the National Insurance
Convention a conference or league of the officials of the various state
governments for the purpose of codifying and simplifying the laws affecting
insurance companies. Accepting, he was thus for two years or more in the
closest contact with, and the trusted adviser of, some of the leading state
public functionaries of the Union; and a statute drafted by him, in connection
with another well-known legal gentleman (Mr. Abbott) was passed by ten state
legislatures and became law. What his public services were in this connection,
and how he was thanked and honoured for them, may readily be seen by consulting
the two large volumes of the Conventions "Transactions,"
which are in the Library of the Theosophical Society, at Bombay.
This brings us down to the year 1872. In 1876 he was deputed by His Honour
the Mayor of New York City to collect a public subscription in aid of a
charitable object. In 1877 he was one of an International Committee chosen
by the Italian residents of New York to erect a monument to Mazzini, in
Central Park. The same year he was Honorary Secretary of a National Committee one
member of which was the just elected President of the United States, General
Garfield formed to secure a worthy representation of American arts
and industries at the Paris "Exposition Universelle," of 1878.
In the following year he left New York for India, and just before sailing
received from the President and Secretary of State a diplomatic passport,
such as is only issued to the most eminent American citizens, and circular
autograph letters recommending him to the particular favour of all U.S.
Ministers and Consuls, as a gentleman who had been requested to promote
in every practicable and proper way the mutual commercial relations of the
United States and India. And now if the enemies of the Theosophical Society
can produce an "adventurer" with such a record and such testimonials
of integrity and capacity, by all means let them name their man.
[Vol. II. No. 4 (Supplement), January, 1881.
H. P. Blavatsky