Published by The Blavatsky Archives Online. Online Edition copyright 2000.
Mrs. Besant and Madame Blavatsky
Professor Pattersons Reply.
by George Patterson
[This letter to the Editor was in reply to
Annie Besant's letter defending Madame Blavatsky.]
[Reprinted from The Methodist Times (London), October 31, 1889, pp. 1058.]
To the Editor of The Methodist Times.
Dear Sir, --- There is one paragraph in Mrs. Besants letter which appeared in your issue of September 5 which I cannot leave uncontradicted. It has reference to the exposure of the frauds of Madame Blavatsky which was made in the pages of The Madras Christian College Magazine five years ago. Mrs. Besant remarks: ---
The missionaries approached M. and Madame Coulomb . . . and bribed them to betray their benefactress. The plot was carefully planned; certain letters were published which were alleged to have been written by Madame Blavatsky to Madame Coulomb in which a whole system of fraud was described. . . . The frauds were so clumsy that a child would have seen through them had they been practised. Madame Blavatsky at once denounced the letters as forgeries, but she was never allowed to see them. . . . Her friends made prolonged efforts to obtain a sight of them, but they met with a similar refusal.
In reply to this allow me to state --- 1. The letters incriminating Madame Blavatsky came into my possession unsought, and were put into my hands unconditionally. Madame Coulomb was never paid for them. But as she and her husband had to be detained for some months in Madras in anticipation of a case at law I paid them sundry small sums for maintenance --- in all not more than £30 --- and when it became plain they would not be required I raised by public appeal a sum of money to enable them to begin an honest life elsewhere. Our case never depended on the character of Madame Coulomb --- she was a confessed accomplice. This is, however, the extent of what Mrs. Besant chooses to call bribery.
2. When the articles charging Madame Blavatsky with fraud and forgery and quoting her own letters in proof of the charge, were first published, Mr. W. Q. Judge, F.T.S., barrister-at-law, made haste to inform the public that at the proper time, and before the proper tribunal, [see Judge's letter] the charges would be met. This was in September, 1884. As no steps in this direction had been taken up to March, 1885, and yet the chiefs of the Theosophical Society continued loudly to declare the letters to be forgeries, I determined that proceedings should be initiated on our side. Major-General Morgan, F.T.S., had in the grossest language charged Madame Coulomb with forgery, and I therefore caused that lady to institute proceedings against him. On March 23 our solicitors (Messrs. Barclay and Morgan) wrote to him demanding a full apology by April 2 on pain of criminal proceedings. On April 2 Madame Blavatsky --- who would, of course, have been our principal witness --- secretly fled from Madras. It was not worth our while to proceed with the case after that. Throughout the whole of India judgment went by default. [See Madame Emma Coulomb's 1885 statement about H.P. Blavatsky leaving India.---BAO editor.]
3. Every Theosophist who has ever expressed a wish to see the letters in question has been permitted to do so, and, under proper precautions, will still be permitted to do so. On September 27, 1884, I myself took four of the most incriminating of them to the headquarters of the Theosophical Society, and permitted all Theosophists present to examine and handle them. This I did at my own suggestion. [See Patterson's 1884 letter.] All the letters which I have published have been submitted to the best experts in Europe, whose depositions as to their genuineness I possess. All these letters, and many more, are still available, if Madame Blavatsky, at this late hour, wishes to confront us in a court of law.
Need I say more? I think not. But as Madame Blavatsky is building up in England a credit destroyed in India, and still bases her claims upon a false assertion of residence in Thibet, I will ask you to permit me to append the paragraph that closed my last article on the subject in The Christian College Magazine:---
Madame Blavatsky has often been challenged to produce evidence of the truth of her claim to have spent some years in Thibet, evidence of any kind whatever beyond her mere assertion and the pretended receipt of the Mahatmas letters, but she has never responded to the challenge. Since August last we have been in a position to deny, on the authority of Madame Blavatskys own letters, the truth of this claim. . . .
We have in our possession a letter of Madame Blavatskys which gives, in brief, the history of her life from 1852 to 1875, and which proves her to have been living a very different life from that of a studious recluse. Moreover, she directly and plainly avows her wish that her real life during those years should be kept secret. Let this page, she says, be torn out of the book of my life. . . . My relatives made me swear I would never speak of it, and I have so far kept my promise. She dare not speak the truth, and so, to fill up an awkward and compromising hiatus, she invented the Thibet story. We had hoped to be spared the painful necessity of making this public, but as Madame Blavatsky still maintains this crowning falsehood of her life, and permits it to be reissued to the world with the sanction of an influential committee of her supporters, it becomes our plain duty to speak out. We shall not at present publish in its entirety the document on which we rely --- we hope, indeed, never to be under the necessity of doing so --- but we make this statement with the same confidence with which we have made all the rest. Let Madame Blavatsky disprove it if she can. We have already accused Madame Blavatsky of forgery and fraud, and we now accuse her of building up a society on the credit obtained by a gigantic falsehood. In falsehood and fraud Madame Blavatsky began her career as a Theosophist, and in falsehood and fraud she seems determined to continue and end it. (C. C. Mag., April, 1885, p. 767-68).
--- I am, &c., yours very truly, George Patterson.
Madras, September 23.
[Annie Besant wrote another letter to rebut some of Patterson's statements.--- BAO editor.]