Dragged in Again!
Theosophist, May, 1883
The bisons, or North American buffaloes, we are told, when migrating, travel in vast solid columns of tens of thousands, which it is almost impossible to turn or arrest in their progress, since the rearward masses, pressing forward, drive the leaders on, whether they will or no. Their roaring is like hoarse thunder, and wide tracts of virgin forests, cultivated plantations and, of course, many a solitary hut of the prairie huntsman are swept away, ground to powder-dust by this living avalanche.
The above picture, with the subsequent reflections thereupon, was suggested to us by seeing our names dragged into polemics with regard to native volunteers. As a simile, it gives a fair idea of the dissatisfied Anglo-Indians in their present state of fury. Roaring themselves hoarse, they seem to press as madly forward as any herd of bisons, driving on their leaders. That they should upset everything in their way, from forest down to hut, or, in plainer words, from the whole Bengali population down to the solitary and harmless Babu, is only as it should be expected, since they are blindly and helplessly driven on by their fury ever since the first impulse was given. This is easy enough to imagine. It is less easy to comprehend, however, why some of them should actually go out of their way to assault individuals that have no more than the man in the moon to do with any one of them in particular, and their political squabbles especially—unless it be on the broad necessitarian principle of the American boy who—unable to satisfy his spite against a stronger comrade—made faces at his sister.
During the whole period of our four years’ living in India, neither our Society, nor its Founders, nor this Journal had anything to do whatever with politics. Nay, feeling an innate and holy horror for everything connected with it, we have avoided the subject most strenuously. Empires might have fallen down and arisen anew during that interval, but still our Journal as ourselves would not have heeded the catastrophe but given ever our undivided attention to “Occult Truths” and kindred metaphysical problems. Nevertheless, several Europeans among the dissatisfied faction of Anglo-Indians, availed themselves of the opportunity to connect the hapless Theosophists with “Native Volunteers,” a movement with which the latter have not the least concern; and, as a result, they have, under various and fanciful noms de plume, bravely insulted them in the Anglo-Indian papers. Of course the object is self-evident. Unable to hit Mr. A. O. Hume, like the Yankee boy, they made “faces at his sister” in the theosophical sense of the word. The first shot having been fired in the Pioneer by a “Bailey-Guard” (may the idea of finding out his real correct name by having the pseudonym anagrammed never cross the mind of the poor man’s enemies!) who declined “to break lances with so doughty a champion of Vegetarianism, Theosophy and Blavatskyism”—a host of imitators followed suit. At the time we write, the controversy appears closed by “Psychologist,” in the same paper. A correspondent of that name would make the credulous public believe that Mr. A. O. Hume, who, with him, is transformed into “the dainty Ariel . . . of the realms of theosophy opened by ‘the dear old lady’—is now amusing himself by performing the bidding of Col. Olcott, the Yankee Prospero.”
Alas, for the quips and cranks of Sydney Smith, that they should be thus outrivalled and eclipsed by an obscure “Psychologist!” Like the Foston of the reverend humorist, notwithstanding their intended sourness, his witticisms are really “twelve miles from a lemon.” Mr. Hume, who is kind enough to characterize the clumsy missiles as “good-natured fun,” in his answer in the Pioneer, rectifies the absurd accusation, thus:
I notice that “Psychologist,” who very good naturedly makes fun of some of my many short comings, speaks of me as acting under the behests of Colonel Olcott and Madame Blavatsky. Now I have the greatest respect for these two earnest and self-devoted philanthropists, but though a staunch supporter of the Theosophical Society, which may yet effect the grandest moral and social reforms, I owe it, both to them and to myself, to make it clear that I am not speaking in these matters at the instigation of that very limited, if august, section of native thought which they alone represent.
We should hope not. It would be a most desirable thing were the “Bailey-Guards” and “Psychologists” of the Pioneer to concern themselves with people and things they know nothing about as little as “the dear old lady” and the “Yankee Prospero” concern themselves with the non-official Anglo-Indian mob and their undignified brawls sailing under the pompous name of—political agitation.