Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.


Mrs. Besant and Madame Blavatsky

To the Editor of The Methodist Times.

by Annie Besant

[In this letter Annie Besant took issue with some
of the statements in a letter written by George Patterson.]

[Reprinted from The Methodist Times (London), November 28, 1889, pp. 1164.]


Dear Sir, --- My attention has been called to a letter from Professor Patterson in your issue of October 31. My note --- to which it is a reply --- was called forth by your direct challenge to myself to investigate the evidence against my friend, Madame Blavatsky, and I had no intention of provoking a prolonged correspondence.  It is clear that we are face to face with absolutely contradictory assertions.  Professor Patterson says Madame Coulomb was not paid for the letters: Major General Morgan says (pamphlet published in 1884, “Reply to a Report,” &c) that the Scottish missionaries “paid them (the Coulombs) Rs. 150 as a commencement.”  Professor Patterson says every Theosophist who has expressed a wish to see the letters has been permitted to do so.  Madame Blavatsky tells me she asked, and was refused; Mr. B. Keightley tells me he asked, and was refused, and that to his personal knowledge other prominent Theosophists met with the same refusal.  I do not know Professor Patterson; I do know these Theosophists; and I prefer to accept their word.

But my belief in the forgery of the letters does not rest on these comparative trifles; it rests on a review of the whole case.  On one side, a man and woman who had been expelled from a society, the latter for attempts to extort money --- four affidavits of such attempts are in evidence; a woman who had been prevented by Madame Blavatsky from obtaining money, and had vowed to be revenged --- affidavit giving this threat; a woman who had attempted to blackmail Madame Blavatsky --- letter sent by her; a woman who had forged letters from Dr. Hartmann and Major-General Morgan, and who, bringing a suit against the latter for accusing her of forgery, dropped it before it came to trial (the pretence that it was dropped because Madame Blavatsky had left is absurd; what had that lady to do with the forgery of Major-General Morgan’s letter?) --- a woman who, by her own confession, had been guilty of fraud.  On the other side, the evidence of a committee, including Dr. Hartmann, Major-General Morgan, A. J. Cooper-Oakley, Dr. Gebhard, and ten Indian gentlemen of rank, learning, and proved ability, who investigated every charge at the time, and declared each one to be fully disproved; the testimony of those who saw the letters that they were manifest forgeries (see Report, 1885); the testimony of Mr. G. Row [Sreenevas Row], “from my experience as a judicial officer of twenty-five years’ standing,” “I came to the conclusion that every one of the letters was a forgery” (Official Report, 1884); the parallel forgeries on Dr. Hartmann and Major-General Morgan, alleging their disbelief in Madame Blavatsky --- forgeries at once denounced and exposed by them on the spot; the internal evidence of the letters, such as the illiterate French, whereas Madame Blavatsky speaks and writes French perfectly, like most educated Russians; the fact that Madame Coulomb was disgraced and expelled, and had everything to gain by currying favour with the missionaries; the fact that the letters were published while Madame Blavatsky was in Europe, that she hurried back to meet the accusation, remained while the matter was investigated, and only left again when the accusations were disproved.  (So far from flying secretly, she was assisted into the steamer by the Presidency Magistrate himself, and left at the peremptory order of Dr. Scharlieb, her medical attendant, who feared for her life if she remained in the Madras climate.  She had not been called as a witness in the Coulomb-Morgan case, having no concern in it.)  I might add to all this the oath of Madame Coulomb: “I may have said something in my rage, but I swear on all that is sacred for me that I never said fraud, secret passages, traps, nor that my husband had helped you in any way.  If my mouth has uttered these words, I pray to the Almighty to shower on my head the worst maledictions in nature.”  Emphatic, very; but I do not lay stress on an oath from such lips.

As to Professor Patterson’s final threat, let him publish.  If any compromising documents existed, those who used Madame Coulomb can have no scruples which would prevent the publication.  Madame Blavatsky is poor, a worn-out invalid; she is not likely to go to India to prosecute him.

19, Avenue-road, N.W.                                                         Annie Besant.