Blavatsky Study Center / Blavatsky Archives
The JUDGE CASE by Ernest E. Pelletier
in 5 Parts
Reviewed by Daniel H. Caldwell
Below are some of my notes and observations that I have jotted down concerning some of the contents of Ernest Pelletier's book titled THE JUDGE CASE.
In light of Pelletier's remarks at:
I am posting a number of my observations on his book
and how he handles some of the evidence for the case. I especially call
attention to Part 4 below.
Concerning the review of Pelletier's book by Brett Forray in
THEOSOPHICAL HISTORY, April, 2005, pp. 14-23,
Forray shows quite clearly that Pelletier's book is a very
ONE-SIDED account of the Judge Case in Judge's favor.
See Forray's review for numerous examples of this.
Although Pelletier's book is a treasure
trove of historical documents, it is unfortunate that
Pelletier left out so many other relevant documents. Again
see examples in Forray's review.
When first reading through Pelletier's book, I noticed right away that Pelletier had NOT reprinted Edmund Garrett's valuable booklet ISIS VERY MUCH UNVEILED.
This is a source document of GREAT IMPORTANCE as it includes
FACSIMILES of many of the Mahatma Letters apparently
received through Judge.
It is too bad that Pelletier did not ask one of his handwriting
experts to compare a known sample of Judge's handwriting with one
of these above-mentioned Mahatma Letters to see if it is POSSIBLE
that Judge might have written one of the letters from the Masters.
The reprinting of this Garrett document would have been helpful to
the reader who might want to carefully COMPARE the Garrett material
with what BOTH Annie Besant wrote in her THE CASE AGAINST W.Q. JUDGE with Mr. Judge's rebuttals of Mrs. Besant's charges. The Garrett
book helps in this comparison.
I see that Pelletier has copied into his book from my website
the series of articles by H.N. Stokes on the Judge-Tingley
relationship but did NOT include other extremely relevant documents
on my website, such as Judge's diary of Oct-Dec. 1894. This diary
throws a great deal of light on Judge's deposing of Mrs. Besant from
co-head of the E.S.T.
See the diary at:
Katinka H. wrote in her book review of
Pelletier's book THE JUDGE CASE:
"The chapter 15 in which Pelletier
tries to make it into something
important is merely a lot of guess-work,
in my opinion."
Unfortunately I find numerous examples of this
kind of GUESS-WORK appearing throughout Pelletier's book..
In one instance, Pelletier writes:
"WE CAN ONLY IMAGINE, because there is no
strong evidence to support our claim, that
the note was....." Part I, p. 379 caps added
Unfortunately, there are many other examples in Pelletier's book
where Pelletier does NOT openly confess to the reader that he is only "imagining" and does NOT plainly admit that there is no strong evidence to
support this or that claim/speculation that he makes..
Pelletier does the same kind of excessive speculation
spinning repeatedly in Chapter 17 of THE JUDGE CASE.
Years ago I criticized K. Paul Johnson for the same kind of speculation spinning in his books about HPB and the Masters.
This is what I wrote in my booklet on Johnson's
research and books:
Throughout all three of his books, Johnson indulges in excessive
speculation and constantly violates the historical rule of "Give
Jacques Barzun and Henry F. Graff write on this kind of speculation-
spinning in their classic work The Modern Researcher:
" the rule of 'Give evidence' is not to be violated without
impunity. No matter how possible or plausible the author's
conjecture, it cannot be accepted as historical truth if he has only
his hunch to support it. What would be more than adequate for
village gossip does not begin to be enough for history. . . .
"The writer. . .[may have] found his hypothesis consistent with the
facts he had gathered, and from this consistency he deduced
confirmation. He may be imagined as saying: '. . . certain facts can
be made to support my view, therefore my view is proved.' But proof
demands decisive evidence; this means evidence that confirms one
view and excludes its rivals. . . . [The author's] facts will fit
his view and his critic's and several other possible views as well.
"To say this is to say that they support none of them in such a way
as to discriminate between truth and conjecture. In short, mere
consistency is not enough, nor mere plausibility, for both can apply
to a wide variety of hypotheses.
"The commandment about furnishing evidence that is decisive leads
us, therefore, to a second fundamental rule: in history, as in life
critically considered, truth rests not on possibility nor on
plausibility but on probability. Probability is used here in a
strict sense. It means the balance of chances that, given such and
such evidence , the event it records happened in a certain way; or,
in other cases, that a supposed event did not in fact take
place. . . ." (Fourth edition, 1985, pp. 174-175.)
In his Theosophical History review (p. 241), Dr. Algeo mentions
Johnson's penchant for speculation spinning and cites an example.
In a single paragraph, Johnson attempts to make a connection between
Ranbir Singh and Morya using the following "possibility-
plausibility" qualifiers: "it is not unlikely . . . may have . . .
it seems possible that . . . perhaps . . . would have made . . .
could have found . . . may have made . . . might have been . . ."
(The Masters Revealed, p. 136)
K. Paul Johnson's House of Cards-- A Critical Examination of Johnson's Thesis on the Theosophical Masters Morya and Koot Hoomi.
Closer Look at Some of K. Paul Johnson's Arguments Concerning H.S. Olcott's Testimony about the Masters
Unfortunately, Pelletier has also mastered this same art of excessive
Dr. Algeo in his review of Johnson's book made this additional observation:
"The rhetoric of . . . [Johnson's] presentation disguises the
weakness of the evidence, perhaps even from Johnson himself."
(Quoted from The American Theosophist, Late Spring/Early Summer
1995, p. 12.)
Again unfortunately I see many examples of this same kind of "rhetoric" in
Pelletier's "presentation" and this only complicates and confuses a
case [The Judge Case] that is already complicated as well as controversial..
There are also a good number of misstatements of known facts
in Pelletier's book.
For example in Chapter 17, Pelletier states:
"...NONE of the reports published at the
time depict Judge's involvement at any
functions, ceremonies, writing or signing
any documents at headquarters AFTER Sept. 21st,
1884....To show that Judge was NOT present at
Adyar headquarters after September 21st, 1884,
it is important to note....." Part I, p. 385 caps added
Similar statements are repeated elsewhere but
Pelletier himself apparently is NOT aware of the following
statement by the Rev. George Patterson:
"This morning [Sept. 27th, 1884], by previous arrangement with Dr.
Hartmann, I went to the Head quarters of the Theosophical Society,
Adyar, to examine the letters from Mme. Blavatsky to General Morgan,
which that gentleman had, at my request, sent to Madras for my
inspection. I was accompanied by Mr. J.D.B. Gribble (late M.C.S.)
the Rev. J.E. Padfield (C.M.S.), Masulipatam, and the Rev. A.
Alexander, of Madras. Dr. Hartmann, Mr. W. Q. Judge, Barrister-at-
Law, Mr. Subba Rao, B.A., B.L., and others met us...."
This reprint of the Patterson letter has been on my website
for the last 8 or 9 years.
I will title this section of my notes:
MERE SPECULATION SPINNING AND A MISTAKE, TOO??!!
In Part 1, p. 366 of THE JUDGE CASE, Ernest Pelletier writes:
It is interesting to note that although Exhibit "A" was the
prosecution's strongest piece of material evidence it was not
mentioned openly by the main characters, other than Judge himself
who brought attention to it in his "Reply by William Q. Judge."
There is no doubt the intent was to use it against him. In "The
Case Against W.Q. Judge" Besant never refers to it, although copies
of other letters from Judge are included. In the above quotation
Olcott instead dwells on the `poison' letter. There appears to have
been a concerted effort to discredit Judge by misleading people to
believe he would stoop to such treachery as to imply Olcott would
poison Besant. This leads one to hypothesize that perhaps the
individuals involved were unsure about the Exhibit "A" letter
actually working in their favor.
Now let us carefully go over what Pelletier has written.
Pelletier assures his readers that
" Exhibit `A' [the letter William Judge had written to N.D.
Khandalavala in 1884] . . . was NOT mentioned openly by the main
characters, other than Judge himself who brought attention to it in
his `Reply by William Q. Judge.' . . . In `The Case Against W.Q.
Judge' Besant NEVER refers to it [Exhibit "A" letter] ." Caps added.
But notice that in the same paragraph Pelletier goes on to state:
" Exhibit 'A' was the prosecution's STRONGEST piece of material
evidence...." Caps added.
How does he know that? Did the prosecution say that? Where is
Pelletier getting this from?
Or is this just some speculation on Pelletier's part? And what if
anything is this speculation based on?
Pelletier goes on:
" There is no doubt the intent was to use it [Exhibit "A" letter]
against him ."
Again since Pelletier states that this letter was never mentioned or
referred to by the prosecution including Mrs.Besant, then how does
Pelletier arrive at the conclusion that there can be NO DOUBT [at
least in Pelletier's mind???] that the INTENT was to use the letter
Again is this just more speculation? How does he know what their
intent was? Does he have some kind of documentation for this?
Again Pelletier comments:
" This leads one to hypothesize that perhaps the individuals
involved were unsure about the Exhibit "A" letter actually working
in their favor. . . ."
But what good is all this hypothesizing that PERHAPS the prosecution
was "unsure" about the letter working in their favor??!!
PERHAPS they were "unsure" but PERHAPS they were NOT unsure! Who
knows based on what Pelletier tells us?
This kind of speculative rhetoric may lead some readers to believe
something has been actually proven by Pelletier when in fact nothing has.
In the end, readers are left with just one supposition piled upon one or two
other suppositions. Perhaps this, maybe that, etc. etc.
Hopefully readers will not assume that Pelletier has therefore proven
anything substantial because as far as I can tell, he has not.
I think this paragraph by Pelletier analysed above illustrates at least one of the
major weaknesses found THROUGHOUT this book when Pelletier writes
about Judge and the Judge Case --- THAT IS,
PELLETIER'S PENCHANT FOR ENDLESS SPECULATION.
But UNFORTUNATELY for Pelletier' argument as given above, it would appear that in this paragraph Pelletier doesn't even get his basic fact(s) right in the first place!!!!
Let me show now where his basic facts are wrong.
First let me point out that:
Pelletier declares to the reader that the Exhibit A letter "was NOT
mentioned openly by the main characters, other than Judge
himself ." Caps added
and again Pelletier assures his readers:
"In 'The Case Against W.Q. Judge' Besant NEVER refers to it ." Caps
But contrary to Pelletier's two assertions here, the Exhibit A letter IS
mentioned openly by one of the main characters!
The letter is referred to in Mrs. Besant's THE CASE AGAINST W.Q.
And one need only turn to page 69 in Part 2 of Pelletier's OWN book and
read the following:
"The mechanical difficulty of such writing is nothing for Mr. Judge,
and a curious illustration of his facility is found in an old letter
to Judge Khandalavala, September 17th, 1884, in which he shows how
easily signatures may be copied by producing those of Col. Olcott,
Mme. Blavatsky and two others."
These words just quoted are Mrs. Besant's own words as found in Mrs. Besant's book THE CASE AGAINST W.Q. JUDGE as
reprinted in Pelletier's book.
So how can Pelletier say that there was no mention????? No reference???????
In summary, this whole paragraph by Pelletier that we have been
dealing with is basically worthless and should just be crossed out!
As I have read and carefully studied the narratives written by
Pelletier in this book I have come to the conclusion that Pelletier
employs (as much as Paul Johnson ever did) speculative possibilities
with little or no documentation whatsoever.
No doubt, Pelletier devoted hundreds if not thousands of hours to
collecting the documents reprinted in this volume and in doing the
extensive chronological survey and all students of Theosophical
history owe his a big thanks. But the above mentioned "gaps"
and "speculations" make the book less than useful especially to
students who may not know much about the subject but would like to
For more information & ordering
information for Pelletier's book, see:
For a detailed look at the table of contents,
Daniel H. Caldwell
Blavatsky Study Center