Having been requested to state my opinion in regard to the so-called Coulomb affair and
to give the reasons, on which this opinion is based, I will say, that although I consider
the contrivances made by Mr. Coulomb as perfectly useless for the purpose of trickery and
the letters published by the Christian College Magazine as fabrications; still I
see in the Coulomb affair only the result of causes that produced unavoidable effects.
I arrived in India in the month of December 1883, and I found soon after my arrival
that Mr. as well as Mrs. Coulomb possessed the unbounded confidence of Colonel Olcott and
Madame Blavatsky; but I could also not fail to see what had been apparent to almost every
one at Head-quarters, that the Coulombs were entirely unsuitable persons to have such
confidence conferred upon them, and that a great error had been committed in trusting
those persons. The fault lay in the want of practical judgment of human nature on the part
of the President-Founder and Madame Blavatsky. Similar mistakes had been committed before;
incapable persons had been received and been allowed to meddle with the affairs of the
Society; when a few weeks or a few months afterwards their incompetency became evident.
The Coulombs were, so to say, the factotums in many respects. If a button had to be
sewed on, a fence-post needed repair, or a document was to be published, the Coulombs were
often called upon and consulted. But while Mrs. Coulomb knew all about buttons and Mr.
Coulomb all about fence-posts; they both knew absolutely nothing about the principles of
Theosophy - in the opinion of Madame Coulomb - seemed to consist in uttering what she
considered blasphemies, and producing somehow or other phenomena that would astonish
people. How these phenomena were produced, Madame Coulomb never explained and knowing
nothing of the philosophy that explains them, she assumed that they must be either
produced by trickery or by the help of the devil, and attempted to imitate them by
inventing tricks and by the practice of incantations and black magic.
Failing in this and being of an exceedingly vain, envious and jealous disposition, too
ambitious to see another woman succeed, where she should fail; having her religious
[senti]ments daily hurt by what she keenly resented as insults to her system of
"Christianity," and being possessed of the malignancy of a fiend, it is not to
be wondered at, that she went to see certain clerical gentlemen, offered her services to
them and entered into a conspiracy to ruin the Theosophical Society by ruining the
reputation of Madame Blavatsky.
Everything was arranging itself towards that end; but still there may have been on the
one hand a certain feeling of affection on the part of Madame Coulomb towards her
benefactor; on the other hand a certain vague hope of making money out of some of the
members of the Society, and these considerations caused Madame Coulomb to hesitate; but
when all her anticipations were brought to a climax by a misunderstood promise made rather
rashly by one of the members, and when she saw her hopes come to nought by the
interference of Madame Blavatsky; then her feelings of hatred and revenge were roused, she
looked upon Madame Blavatsky as her rival and determined to ruin her by all means.
Blinded by rage and now firmly believing that the devil was the source of all these
phenomena, she concluded to fight the devil with his own weapons and she had recourse to
I am certain that Madame Blavatsky had no knowledge of the trap-doors and sliding
panels which Mr. Coulomb was secretly preparing; but it is a question, whether the idea of
making these panels was not first called into life by a desire on the part of Mr. Coulomb
to ingratiate himself in Madame Blavatskys favor by making a surprise for her; for
believing that these phenomena could only be produced by fraud, Mr. Coulomb in his
simplicity may have thought to please Madame Blavatsky by facilitating her supposed
tricks. However this may be, his benevolent object came to a premature end, and the
conjuring apparatus was discovered before it was finished.
Still there was some hope that Madame Blavatsky might relent, or that Colonel Olcott
might receive them back again; but when the last straw was broken, when they were forced
to leave the compound and no presidential order came to call them back; then it became
their object to look at the matter from a financial and commercial stand-point; to get
their revenge and money at the same time; and the letters in the Christian College
Magazine were the result.
Such is undoubtedly the true history of the case. The friends of Madame Blavatsky have
done her harm, by attempting to prove that she did not have any faults. The Coulombs
attempted to prove too much, and as the absurdities which they brought forward could not
be believed by reasoning people, they defeated their own object; and the missionaries, who
had rushed into print with undue haste, will earn what they deserve; while the mistakes of
the leaders of the Theosophical movement may trouble for a moment its progress. Still the
errors and evils which have been thus brought to light, will necessarily induce reforms,
and the Theosophical Society will step into a new intellectual era, and be of real benefit
to humanity as a whole.
The greatest mistake that Madame Blavatsky ever made, is, that being herself sincere
and generous to a fault, she expected to find these qualities in others and implicitly
trusted to persons, who did not deserve to be trusted. Another error - if it may be
so-called - the consequences of which she is now suffering, is that she attempted to bring
certain matters which can only be understood by intuition, within the reach of the
reasoning powers of materialistic minds, and thereby encountered their combativeness. Such
has been the case of all reformers, who forgetting that the old Rosicrucian motto not only
enjoins to know, to will and to dare; but also to keep silent,
thereby sacrificed themselves for humanity.
As to my own convictions of Madame Blavatskys sincerity and the existence of the
Mahatmas, I have stated them so often, that it seems useless to repeat my assertions. No
amount of material reasoning can convince me of the error of what I know to be true, and
if there had been any room for doubt, the occurrences caused by the Coulomb-scandal, would
have been themselves sufficient to remove all doubts; because the events which took place
were entirely independent of any interference on the part of Madame Blavatsky and proved
to me beyond all doubt the existence of the Mahatmas.
F. Hartmann, M.D.
Adyar, February 1885.