Agardi Metrovich

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Agardi Metrovich was an Italian or Hungarian opera singer and an early friend of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. His name is thought to be the nom de guerre of one of the carbonari [Italian revolutionaries] who supported Giuseppi Mazzini.

Personal life and career

Little is known of Metrovich, except that he was an opera singer in basso roles, who sang at theaters in Tiflis and Cairo. He may have been Italian or Hungarian, and H. P. Blavatsky described him as "the natural son of the Duke of Lucea, as I believe, who brought him up."[1] He was married; he and his wife were friendly with Blavatsky's family in Tiflis and Odessa.

Blavatsky comments on Metrovich

H. P. Blavatsky wrote of him to her colleague A. P. Sinnett and his wife Patience early in 1886:

I knew the man in 1850, over whose apparently dead corpse I stumbled over in Pera, at Constantinople, as I was returning home one night from Bougakdira to Missire’s hotel. He had received three good stabs in his back from one, or two, or more Maltese ruffians, and a Corsican, who were paid for it by the Jesuits. I had him picked up, after standing over his still breathing corpse for about four hours, before my guide could get mouches to pick him up. The only Turkish policeman meanwhile who chanced to come up asking for a baksheesh and offering to roll the supposed corpse into a neighbouring ditch, then showing a decided attraction to my own rings and bolting only when he saw my revolver pointing at him. Remember, it was in 1850, and in Turkey. Then I had the man carried to a Greek hotel over the way, where he was recognised and taken sufficiently care of, to come back to life. On the next day he asked me to write to his wife and Sophie Cruvelli (the Duchess’s dear friend now Vicomtesse de Vigier at Nice and Paris, and at the time his mistress; No. 1 scandal). I wrote to his wife and did not to the Cruvelli. The former arrived from Smyrna where she was, and we became friends. I lost sight of them after that for several years and met him again at Florence, where he was singing at the Pergola, with his wife. He was a Carbonaro, a revolutionist of the worst kind, a fanatical rebel, a Hungarian, from Metrovitz, the name of which town he took as a nom de guerre. He was the natural son of the Duke of Lucea, as I believe, who brought him up. He hated the priests, fought in all the rebellions, and escaped hanging by the Austrians, only because — well, it’s something I need not be talking about. Then I found him again in Tiflis in 1861, again with his wife, who died after I had left in 1865 I believe; then my relatives knew him well and he was friends with my cousins Witte. Then, when I took the poor child to Bologna to see if I could save him I met him again in Italy and he did all he could for me, more than a brother. Then the child died; and as it had no papers, nor documents and I did not care to give my name in food to the kind gossips, it was he, Metrovitch who undertook all the job, who buried the aristocratic Baron’s child — under his, Metrovitch’s name saying “he did not care,” in a small town of Southern Russia in 1867. After this, without notifying my relatives of my having returned to Russia to bring back the unfortunate little boy whom I did not succeed to bring back alive to the governess chosen for him by the Baron, I simply wrote to the child’s father to notify him of this pleasant occurrence for him and returned to Italy with the same passport. Then comes Venice, Florence, Mentana. The Garibaldis (the sons) are alone to know the whole truth; and a few more Garibaldians with them. What I did, you know partially; you do not know all. My relatives do, my sister does not, and therefore and very luckily Solovioff does not.

Now, shall I, in the illusive hope of justifying myself, begin by exhuming these several corpses—the child’s mother, Metrovitch, his wife, the poor child himself, and all the rest? NEVER.[2]

She wrote to Sinnett again on April 13, 1886. She was expressing indignation about salacious rumors being spread that year by Alexis Coulomb and his lawyer of her relationship with Metrovich.

Now this address:

“Mme. Metrovitch otherwise
Mad. Blavatsky.”

is a written libel and a bullying bit of chantage, blackmail or whatever you call it. People with a mouth and a tongue cannot be stopped from saying that every man whoever approached me, from Meyendorff down to Olcott, was my LOVER... But I do believe that when a lawyer or lawyers on the authority of Mme. Coulomb’s infernal gossip writes such an insult implying not only prostitution but bigamy and aliases — it is a defamation...

Now listen to the story. Agardi Metrovitch was my most faithful devoted friend ever since 1850. With the help of Ct Kisseleff I had saved him from the gallows in Austria. He was a Mazzinist, had insulted the Pope, was exiled from Rome in 1863 -- he came with his wife to Tiflis, my relatives knew him well and when his wife died a friend of mine too — he came to Odessa in 1870. There my aunt, miserable beyond words, as she told me, at not knowing what had become of me begged of him to go to Cairo as he had business in Alexandria and to try and bring me home. He did so. There some Maltese instructed by the Roman Catholic monks prepared to lay a trap for him and to kill him. I was warned by Illarion, then bodily in Egypt — and made Agardi Metrovitch come direct to me and never leave the house for ten days. He was a brave and daring man and could not bear it, so he went to Alexandria quand meme and I went after him with my monkeys, doing as Illarion told me, who said he saw death for him and that he had to die on April 19th (I think). All this mystery and precaution made Mme. C. open her eyes and ears and she began gossiping and bothering me to tell her whether it was true — what people said — that I was secretly married to him, she not daring I suppose to say that people believed him most charitably worse than a husband. I sent her to grass, and told her that people might say and believe whatever they liked as I didn’t care. This is the germ of all the later gossip.[3]

Helena Blavatsky's relative, Count Sergei Witte, wrote in his memoirs that "Mitrovitch" claimed her to be his wife or mistress, and that when they traveled together from Odessa to Cairo, their ship sunk and the singer was drowned while saving Blavatsky. However, the Witte memoirs are inaccurate in many details, and can be considered more colorful than authoritative.[4]

S. S. Eumonia incident

THIS SECTION UNDER CONTRUCTION
THIS SECTION UNDER CONTRUCTION
The 1872 death in Egypt is not the only version of his demise. A radically different version has him drowning after the ship Eumonia exploded. One of Blavatsky's biographers, Marion Meade, gives this colorful synopsis:

The SS Eumonia, bound for Alexandria, carried four hundred passenger and a cargo of explosives and fireworks. On July 4, 1871, in the Gulf of Nauplia, just off the island of Spetsai, the ship's powder magazine exploded. Only seventeen passengers survived, H.P.B. among them; Agardi Metrovich lost his life. Her mind dazed with the horror of limbs and heads raining about her, Helena was pulled from the water and taken ashore with the other lucky survivors. Medical care and shelter were provided by the Greek government, and finally, an offer of free passage to their destinations or back to their homes. H.P.B., baggageless and penniless, chose to continue to Egypt. [5],

Additional resources

  • Georgiades, Erica. "H. P. Blavatsky and the Wreck of the S. S. Eunomia" in Wordpress blog. July 28, 2014.
  • Georgiades, Erica. "H.P. Blavatsky and the Wreck of the S.S. Eunomia." Theosophical History 17.1 (January, 2014), 13-34. This is a thorough examination of the possibility that H. P. Blavatsky and Agardi Metrovich were on shipboard when the Eunomia exploded.
  • Georgiades, Erica. "Who Was Agardi Metrovich?" International History Conference, 2019. See Day 1 program. October 12, 2019.
  • Witte, Count Sergei. The Memoirs of Count Witte. Translated from Russian and edited by Abraham Yarmolinsky (Garden City, N.Y. and Toronto: Doubleday, Page & Co. 1921 [Forgotten Books, 2013: http://www.ForgottenBooks.org], 5-9.

Notes

  1. H. P. Blavatsky, "Letter LXI" The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett (London: T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd., 1925), 148-156. Also included in Personal Memoirs of H. P. Blavatsky.
  2. H. P. Blavatsky, "Letter LXI" The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett (London: T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd., 1925), 148-156. Also included in Personal Memoirs of H. P. Blavatsky.
  3. H. P. Blavatsky, "Letter LXXVIII" The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett (London: T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd., 1925), 190-191.
  4. Sergei Witte, The Memoirs of Count Witte. Translated from Russian and edited by Abraham Yarmolinsky (Garden City, N.Y. and Toronto: Doubleday, Page & Co. 1921 [Forgotten Books, 2013: http://www.ForgottenBooks.org], 5-9.
  5. Marion Meade, Madame Blavatsky: The Woman Behind the Myth (New York: Putnam, 1980).