A Hegira of Theosophists
Priestess Blavatsky and Hierophant
Fly Hastily to Bombay
[Reprinted from The New York World,
December 19, 1878, p. 1]
A lugubrious group of native theosophists, a huge pile of luggage, and two or three reporters were gathered on the deck of the steamer Canada yesterday, the occasion being the departure from America of Mme. Blavatsky, Colonel Olcott and an active but unobtrusive Theosophist in whose name the passage for the party had been engaged. All three are bound for Bombay, where the Arya Samaj, it is expected, will absorb them.
"I go to my beloved heathen," said Mme. Blavatsky, enthusiastically. "I am tired of what you call civilization. And yet, " she continued, "at the very last I find myself sorry to leave some of the friends I have found here. I feel that I have done some good, however, in America. I have converted a few persons at least from the terrible bondage of Christianity, and I have helped to found a society which will, I believe, maintain the warfare."
"Take care of that phonograph," shouted the Hierophant just at this moment to a sailor who seemed about to drop a heavy box.
"Have you a phonograph among you?" asked the WORLD reporter.
"We have indeed," said Colonel Olcott, "And we are taking over the voices of our members. They all talked into the machine the other night, and we have the record and will grind out their greetings to the Arya Samaj when we get there. Now the Americans have laughed at the accounts they have had of Eastern magic, and I suppose the Hindus will at first laugh at the explanation we will give them that they are actually listening to the voices of their American brothers."
"Do you think they are fools?" asked Mme. Blavatsky.
"By no means," said the Colonel suavely. "But I mean those who are not scholars. It will be on the same principle that the Americans don't believe in magic. They don't understand the laws. "
The time was too short for the dissertation which the learned Hierophant had ready, and the attention of the party was turned to leave-taking.
"I do not think I shall ever come back," said Mme. Blavatsky, "but I hope to see many of you in India, my friends."
Colonel Olcott did not commit himself to coming back. "Anything is possible," he said, and the theosophists were partially comforted. "At any rate," he continued, "we will be likely to come over occasionally in our astral bodies."
The general impression in secular circles was that the Theosophical Society had dishonorably failed to provide any more corpses for the Hierophant and the priestess, and that they are seeking a land where life is reasonably cheap and a funeral once a week --- or perhaps twice a week, counting second-hand ones --- can be contracted for.