Madame Blavatsky’s Protest
From a Pamphlet entitled The “Occult World Phenomena” and the Society for Psychical Research, by A. P. Sinnett, London: George Redway, 1886, pp. 49-53.
[Note: for background, see “[On the Coulomb Forged Letters]”; “The Collapse of Koot Hoomi”; “To Theosophists and Men of Honour,” The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A.. P. Sinnett, pp. 136-139; “My Justification, by H.P.B.,” H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Vol. 6, p. 414; etc., etc.]
The “Society for Psychical Research” have now published the Report made to one of their Committees by Mr. Hodgson, the agent sent out to India to investigate the character of certain phenomena, described as having taken place at the Headquarters of the Theosophical Society in India and elsewhere, and with the production of some of which I have been directly or indirectly concerned. This Report imputes to me a conspiracy with the Coulombs and several Hindus to impose on the credulity of various persons around me by fraudulent devices, and declares to be genuine, a series of letters alleged to be written by me to Mme. Coulomb in connection with the supposed conspiracy, which letters I have already myself declared to be in large part fabrications. Strange to say, from the time the investigation was begun, fourteen months ago, and to this day, when I am declared guilty by my self-instituted judges, I was never permitted to see those incriminating letters. I draw the attention of every fair-minded and honourable Englishman to this fact.
Without at present going into a minute examination of the errors, inconsistencies, and bad reasoning of this Report, I wish to make as publicly as possible my indignant and emphatic protest against the gross aspersions thus put upon me by the Committee of the Psychic Research Society at the instigation of the single, incompetent, and unfair inquirer whose conclusions they have accepted. There is no charge against me in the whole of the present Report that could stand the test of an impartial inquiry on the spot, where my own explanations could be checked by the examination of witnesses. They have been developed in Mr. Hodgson’s own mind, and kept back from my friends and colleagues while he remained at Madras abusing the hospitality and unrestrained assistance in his inquiries supplied to him at the Headquarters of the Society at Adyar, where he took up the attitude of a friend, though he now represents the persons with whom he thus associated—as cheats and liars. These charges are now brought forward supported by the one-sided evidence collected by him, and when the time has gone by at which even he could be confronted with antagonistic evidence and with arguments which his very limited knowledge of the subject he attempted to deal with do not supply him. Mr. Hodgson having thus constituted himself prosecutor and advocate in the first instance, and having dispensed with a defence in the complicated transactions he was investigating, finds me guilty of all the offences he has imputed to me in his capacity as judge, and declares that I am proved to be an arch-impostor.
The Committee of the P.R.S. have not hesitated to accept the general substance of the judgment which Mr. Hodgson thus pronounces, and have insulted me publicly by giving their opinion in favour of their agent’s conclusions—an opinion which rests wholly and solely on the Report of their single deputy.
Wherever the principles of fairness and honourable care for the reputation of slandered persons may be understood, I think the conduct of the Committee will be regarded with some feeling resembling the profound indignation of which I am sensible. That Mr. Hodgson’s elaborate but misdirected inquiries, his affected precision, which spends infinite patience over trifles and is blind to facts of importance, his contradictory reasoning and his manifold incapacity to deal with such problems as those he endeavoured to solve, will be exposed by other writers in due course—I make no doubt. Many friends who know me better than the Committee of the P.R.S. will remain unaffected by the opinions of that body, and in their hands I must leave my much abused reputation But one passage in this monstrous Report I must, at all events, answer in my own name.
Plainly alive to the comprehensive absurdity of his own conclusions about me as long as they remained totally unsupported by any theory of a motive which could account for my life-long devotion to my Theosophical work at the sacrifice of my natural place in society in my own country, Mr. Hodgson has been base enough to concoct the assumption that I am a Russian political agent, inventing a sham religious movement for the sake of undermining the British Government in India! Availing himself, to give colour to this hypothesis, of an old bit of my writing, apparently supplied to him by Mme. Coulomb, but which he did not know to be as it was, a fragment of an old translation I made for The Pioneer from some Russian travels in Central Asia, Mr. Hodgson has promulgated this theory about me in the Report, which the gentlemen of the P.R.S. have not been ashamed to publish. Seeing that I was naturalised nearly eight years ago a citizen of the United States, which led to my losing every right to my pension of 5,000 roubles yearly as the widow of a high official in Russia; that my voice has been invariably raised in India to answer all native friends that bad as I think the English Government in some respects—by reason of its unsympathetic character—the Russian would be a thousand times worse; that I wrote letters to that effect to Indian friends before I left America on my way to India, in 1879; that every one familiar with my pursuits and habits and very undisguised life in India, is aware that I have no taste for or affinity with politics whatever, but an intense dislike to them; that the Government of India, which suspected me as a spy because I was a Russian when I first went to India, soon abandoned its needless espionnage, and has never, to my knowledge, had the smallest inclination to suspect me since—the Russian spy theory about me which Mr. Hodgson has thus resuscitated from the grave, where it had been buried with ridicule for years, will merely help to render his extravagant conclusions about me more stupid even than they would have been otherwise in the estimation of my friends and of all who really know me. But looking upon the character of a spy with the disgust which only a Russian who is not one can feel, I am impelled irresistibly to repudiate Mr. Hodgson’s groundless and infamous calumny with a concentration of the general contempt his method of procedure in this inquiry seems to me to merit, and to be equally deserved by the Committee of the Society he has served. They have shown themselves, by their wholesale adoption of his blunders, a group of persons less fitted to explore the mysteries of psychic phenomena than I should have thought—in the present day, after all that has been written and published on the subject of late years—could have been found among educated men in England.
Mr. Hodgson knows, and the Committee doubtless share his knowledge, that he is safe from actions for libel at my hands, because I have no money to conduct costly proceedings (having given all I ever had to the cause I serve), and also because my vindication would involve the examination into psychic mysteries which cannot be dealt fairly with in a court of law; and again because there are questions which I am solemnly pledged never to answer, but which a legal investigation of these slanders would inevitably bring to the front, while my silence and refusal to answer certain queries would be misconstrued into “contempt of court.” This condition of things explains the shameless attack that has been made upon an almost defenceless woman, and the inaction in face of it to which I am so cruelly condemned.
H. P. Blavatsky,
Jan. 14, 1886