From the first month of my arrival in America I began, for reasons mysterious, but perhaps intelligible, to provoke hatred among those who pretended to be on good terms with me, if not the best of friends. Slanderous reports, vile insinuations and innuendoes have rained about me. For more than two years I have kept silent, although the least of the offences attributed to me were calculated to excite the loathing of a person of my disposition. I have rid myself of a number of these retailers of slander, but finding that I was actually suffering in the estimation of friends whose good opinion I valued, I adopted a policy of seclusion. For two years my world has been in my apartments, and for an average of at least seventeen hours a day I have sat at my desk, with my books and manuscripts as my companions. During this time many highly-valued acquaintanceships have been formed with ladies and gentlemen who have sought me out, without expecting me to return their visits.
I am an old woman, and I feel the need of fresh air as much as any one, but my disgust for the lying, slanderous world that one finds outside of “heathen” uncivilized countries has been such that in seven months I believe I have been out but three times. But no retreat is secure against the anonymous slanderer, who uses the United States mail. Letters have been received by my trusted friends containing the foulest aspersions upon myself. At various times I have been charged with: (1) drunkenness; (2) forgery; (3) being a Russian spy; (4) with being an anti-Russian spy; (5) with being no Russian at all, but a French adventuress; (6) with having been in jail for theft; (7) with being the mistress of a Polish count in Union Square; (8) with murdering seven husbands; (9) with bigamy; (10) with being the mistress of Col. Olcott, (11) also of an acrobat. Other things might be mentioned, but decency forbids.
Since the arrival of Wong Chin Foo the game has recommenced with double activity. We have received anonymous letters and others, and newspaper slips, telling infamous stories about him. On his part, he has received communications about us, one of which I beg you to insert.
Does the disciple of Buddha know the character of the people with whom he is at present residing? The surroundings of a teacher of morality and religion should be moral. Are his so? On the contrary, they are people of very doubtful reputation, as he can ascertain by applying at the nearest police-station.
– A FRIEND.
Of Wong Chiu Foo’s merits or shortcomings I know nothing, except that since his arrival his conversation and behaviour have impressed me very favourably. He appears to be a very earnest and enthusiastic student. However, he is a man, and is able to take care of himself, although, like me, a foreigner. But I wish to say for myself just this: that I defy any person in America to come forward and prove a single charge against my honour. I invite everyone possessed of such proof as will vindicate them in a court of justice to publish it over their own signatures in the newspapers. I will furnish to anyone a list of my several residences, and contribute towards paying detectives to trace my every step. But I hereby give notice that if any more unverifiable slanders can be traced to responsible sources, I will invoke the protection of the law, which, it is the theory of your national Constitution, was made for heathen as well as Christian denizens.
New York, May 5th, 1877
[From the New York World, May 6th, 1877.]