Greetings by phonograph, the theosophical cat
Hierophant Off for India. Eager to See her Dear Heathen Again, and to Have a Little Tiger Shooting --- Greetings by Phonograph --- The Theosophical Cat. [Reprinted from The Sun (New York), December 19, 1878, p. 1.] ________________________________________
On last Sunday night a farewell reception was given to the friends and the members of the Theosophical Society, by the famous heathen of Eighth avenue, Madame H. P. Blavatsky, who, together with Col. H. S. Olcott and another Theosophist, sailed yesterday for Liverpool, en route for Bombay. The spacious rooms of the Lamasery were denuded of furniture, even the carpets having been torn up and sold, and the guests sat on two or three chairs hardly worth selling, and upon boxes and trunks corded and marked for transportation. The usual refreshments were provided in the usual plenty. Tea was served in rotation, only three teacups being left from the sale, but every guest had either a pipe or a cigarette. The long series of "Sunday nights at home" was ending, and there was an unusual number of unusually subdued Theosophists present. There was much talk of the probable future of the Theosophical Society, which, now that it is in coalition with the Arya Samaj of Aryawari, is expected to become a powerful factor in the development of the mental and religious freedom of the world. But, as was natural, there was far more talk of personal memories and anticipations. Madame Blavatsky carried fully her share of the conversation. Her memories of the years she has passed in America were far from cheerful. "I hate the civilization you boast of," she said, emphatically. But her anticipations were rose colored. "I shall go to Bombay, and be with my dear heathen," she said, "who are free from the yokes of Christianity at least. I shall only stop for a day or two in England to visit our branch society, and then on to India. When I get there, the first thing I shall do will be to go tiger shooting. I shall go into the jungles with one friend, and no guides, and we will not come back till we get each of us a tiger skin." "But it is not for that I go to India," she continued. "It is to work for the Arya Samaj. I promise you you will hear of it before long." Presently a man came in with a phonograph which had been procured for the purpose of carrying greetings to India, without the possibility of any mistake in their delivery. A tall sculptor was dislodged from a barrel on which he sat, and the phonograph was put in position, after which the greetings were shouted into the paper funnel, and a song in pigeon Hindustanee was sung into it by a jolly English artist. Charles, a huge theosophical cat, was then induced to purr at the machine, and the various records were carefully put away. Long after midnight the talk was kept up, and from the writings of the Church in the second century to the latest English attack on the Arya Samaj, religious themes were discussed. On Monday and Tuesday the packing was finished, and on Tuesday night the little party gathered in the Canada’s saloon. Charles, in the mean time, had been sent to a good Theosophist’s house, but had disappeared from the basket in transitu, and has not been seen since. "I don’t know where he is," said the Hierophant, "but I presume we will find him in Bombay when we get there." Yesterday morning a few of the most intimate friends of the travellers went to the steamer to bid them farewell. The Hierophant wrote dozens of last despatches on the cabin table, sending messenger after messenger away on various errands, and giving all sorts of instructions as to the future management of the society to the newly chosen officers. Madame Blavatsky held high court in her stateroom, when the inevitable cigarettes were consumed in great numbers, and when a few of her most faithful disciples were telling her of their grief at her departure. "I am glad to go, but I am sorry to leave the few good friends I have found here," she said, and one by one they bade her what was probably their last farewell on earth.