Published by The Blavatsky Archives Online. Online Edition copyright 2000. .
An Examination into the So-called Proofs of
on the Part of Madame Blavatsky.
by Samuel Studd
Being the substance of an
addressed delivered by S. STUDD
to the Melbourne Branch T.S., in 1903, and now printed
[First published c. 1904 as a pamphlet of 12 pp. by
Theosophical Book Depot, Melbourne, Australia.]
In view of the fact that, from time to time, we find ourselves again confronted with the statement that H.P.B. has been shown to have resorted to fraud and deception, in connection with the production of certain phenomena, in the earlier history of the Theosophical movement; and in view, also, of the further fact that many members of a later date, having little or no personal knowledge of the matter, are frequently at a loss for a suitable reply to such allegations, it would appear that a brief consideration of some of the more important of these so-called proofs of fraud may prove of service. Personally, I may say that some fifteen years ago, that is, long before joining the Society, I satisfied myself not only that the evidence adduced was, in many ways, of a very unsatisfactory nature, but also that it was so utterly inadequate and insufficient, as proof of fraud, that no impartial investigator could possibly arrive at a less favourable conclusion than that of "not-proven." Whilst further knowledge, acquired during many years' membership in the Society, together with a clearer and more definite understanding of the meaning and the purpose of this great movement, to the welfare of which H.P.B. was so whole-heartedly and unselfishly devoted, has led to the firm and unalterable conviction that these alleged practices of trickery and deceit were utterly and completely foreign to her whole nature. For the purpose of this discussion, however, I have again gone carefully through the whole of the evidence recorded against her, as also the replies called forth from those best qualified, by personal knowledge and experience, to testify both to the sterling worth of her life and character, and to the genuineness of the phenomena in question; this further examination having served but to confirm, and to add strength to, my previous convictions. Now, the charges of fraud made against H.P.B. are based mainly upon the statements of Monsieur and Madame Coulomb, supported by the Blavatsky-Coulomb letters, as they are called, and upon the report, largely founded thereon, of the Society for Psychical Research, or, to be more accurate, upon that of Mr. Hodgson, which the Society somewhat hastily, if not unwarrantably, adopted; and, to a less degree, upon the statements of Solovyoff contained in "A Modern Priestess of Isis," a work published after the death of H.P.B., when, of course, an efficient reply was no longer possible. It is necessary, therefore, that we should consider the question of the credibility and the trustworthiness of these people, as witnesses against her, as well as that of the qualifications of Mr. Hodgson for the thorough and impartial conduct of his investigations. Now, in regard to all these charges, there is one most important and remarkable fact, which cannot fail to impress every honest inquirer, and that is, that the whole of the evidence against H.P.B. comes from foul and tainted sources, not one honest man or woman bearing witness against her. Although hundreds of phenomena were produced at various times, in various places, and in the presence of a great many different people, yet, in spite of every effort to secure adverse evidence, not a single person with clean hands could be found to testify against her. As to Solovyoff, of whom the Editor of "Borderland" speaks as an "ungrateful rascal on his own showing" (vol. ii., p. 175), I might almost be content with a brief quotation from a review of his work, written by Miss Freer, better known as X., who, though admittedly greatly prejudiced against H.P.B., says ("Borderland," vol. ii., p. 175): "Truth to tell, M. Solovyoff's testimony does not inspire the reader with entire confidence in his personality, our feeling, that even H.P.B. may not be so black as he paints her, is in proportion to our perception of the extent to which, in so doing, that artist blackens himself." Again she says that he is shown to be "a false friend" . . ."a man who has not even the schoolboy's code of honour, 'tell a lie and stick to it'" . . . "a biographer so conscious of his duty, 'nought to extenuate,' that one occasionally feels, in sharing his information, like a receiver of stolen goods;" adding that "if the testimony produced against Madame Blavatsky rested solely on M. Solovyoff, one would feel inclined to say, from internal evidence, that the book, entertaining as it is, should never have been published." However, it is interesting to note that this same Solovyoff, who now denies that H.P.B. was possessed of any occult power, published in the "Rebus," a Russian scientific journal, of July 1st, 1884, an account of a most remarkable instance of the manifestation of such power, as witnessed by quite a number of people, and as to which he himself testified that "the circumstances under which the phenomenon occurred in its smallest details, carefully checked by myself, do not leave in me the smallest doubt as to its genuineness and reality. Deception or fraud, in this particular case, are entirely out of the question" (quoted in "Incidents in the life of Madame Blavatsky," p. 273). Yet, in the face of this emphatic declaration, M. Solovyoff, in a "Modern Priestess," published eight years later (pp. 42-5), endeavours to persuade us that, even at the time, he was by no means satisfied as to its genuineness, whilst elsewhere (p. 212) he says: "I believed from the first that she was tricking and deceiving." Again, he makes great capital out of an alleged confession by H.P.B., although, long afterwards, in writing to her, he says (p. 289): "I can say positively that I convinced Richet of the reality of your personal power and of the phenomena which proceed from you;" whilst, upon the publication of the Report of the S.P.R., he openly ridicules its conclusions, writing also of the astral appearance of H.P.B. at a time when she herself was in India (p. 302). Finally, this very unreliable witness, a romancer by profession by the way, though quoting freely from private letters, alleged to have been written by H.P.B., yet, with one or two trifling exceptions, omits to give any dates, thus making it a matter of extreme difficulty to disprove their authenticity.
Now, before considering the Report of the S.P.R., which is usually regarded as by far the most formidable of these several indictments, it would be well, perhaps, to deal with the statements of M. and Mdme. Coulomb, who supplied the material for the foundation, upon which Mr. Hodgson built all his conclusions, the following details being gleaned from the "Theosophist" (vol. vi., pp. 2, 48 and 70), the "Report of an Investigation, by a Special Committee of the T.S., into the charges brought against Madame Blavatsky" (published in Madras in 1885), and a pamphlet, by Mdme. Coulomb, entitled "Some Account of My Association with Madame Blavatsky." From the "Theosophist" we learn that H.P.B. first met the Coulombs in Egypt, in 1872, when, by reason of a shipwreck, she was obliged to take shelter in their house, and therefore, on being appealed to, some few years later, in India, for help and protection, she was glad to repay their former service to herself by placing them in charge of the house at Headquarters. Later on, after their notorious attack, it was alleged by the Coulombs that H.P.B. was heavily in their debt for money advanced to her in Egypt, but this is completely disproved by a letter, written by Mdme. Coulomb from Ceylon, on June 10th, 1879 --- that is, a few months only before their arrival in India --- in which she begs H.P.B. to lend her the sum of Rs 200, even urging that, if need be, it should be borrowed for the purpose, giving an assurance that it should be repaid in two months' time, and offering meanwhile to give a promissory note for the amount. (See Report of Investigation, p. 132) In February, 1884, when the Coulombs had been established at Headquarters for a few years, H.P.B. left Adyar for Europe, and, immediately after her departure, Mdme. Coulomb began to circulate vague charges of fraud against her, but, upon this becoming known to the members of the "Board of Control," a Committee of Inquiry was at once appointed. Finally, after a most exhaustive investigation, during which it was conclusively shown that Mdme. Coulomb had long been endeavouring to extort money from various members; that, on H.P.B.'s departure for Europe, she had openly sworn to be revenged upon that lady for having, as was alleged, prevented one Harrisinghe --- from giving her Rs. 2000; and that, on many occasions, she had declared the T.S. to be designed to overthrow British Rule in India and the Christian Religion, etc., etc., and after the failure of every effort to induce Mdme. Coulomb to produce evidence in support of her charges, she and her husband were formally expelled from Headquarters and from the Society, no mention whatever being then made of the letters, which were afterwards declared to have been in her possession all the time. Meantime, shortly before their expulsion, and when H.P.B. and Colonel Olcott had been informed by letter of the many complaints that were being made in regard to their conduct, Mdme. Coulomb, in reply to a letter of remonstrance from H.P.B., wrote: "I may have said something in my rage, but I swear by 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 uttered these words, I pray to the Almighty to shower on my head the worst maledictions in nature." (Report, p. 131).
However, after trying in vain to persuade H.P.B. to intervene on their behalf, they appear to have determined upon a method of revenge, and so, some two months after their expulsion, there appeared, in the Madras Christian College Magazine, of September and October, 1884, a series of private letters, purporting to have been written by H.P.B., for the most part, to Mdme. Coulomb, by whom they had been sold to the Missionary proprietors of the magazine. According to these letters, some of which, if genuine, could only have been obtained by theft, H.P.B., with the connivance and the assistance of M. and Mdme. Coulomb, had been, for years, engaged in the fraudulent production of phenomena of various kinds, by means of sliding panels, trap doors and puppets of bladders and muslin; and so a great outcry arose in the press, it being freely reported, by some of the newspapers, that H.P.B. had been shown up as an unprincipled fraud. As one of the honourable exceptions, however, the "Madras Mail" of September 14th, 1884, made some exceptionally severe comments on the conduct of the missionaries, in publishing the private correspondence, even if authentic, of a lady in her absence, without her permission, and at the instigation of an avowed enemy; adding that "even if genuine" the publication of these letters "involves an inexcusable breach of confidence," and asking what if after all they prove to be spurious? Whilst the "Indian Mirror" of September 20th, 1884, in the course of a lengthy article, remarks that "the letters published were so transparent that we wonder that any man of common sense could not see through their more than questionable genuineness," and further refers to them as "a correspondence more than suspected to be spurious." On reading these letters, one is at once struck by the very vulgar style in which most of them are written, this being in marked contrast with that of H.P.B.; then, as with those of Solovyoff, with one or two unimportant exceptions, they are neither dated nor addressed, and thus give no clue as to when, or where, they may have been written. This fact alone, tending, as it undoubtedly does, to make it exceedingly difficult to disprove any statement contained in such letters, is of great significance, and of itself sufficient to cast grave doubt upon their genuineness. Apparently the correspondence consists of a few genuine letters of no significance, together with a number of forgeries, in which, here and there, genuine phrases are thrown in to give verisimilitude to the whole, which would thus appear to be, as H.P.B. declared, "in large part fabrications" ("Incidents," p. 312). Upon investigation, it was found that Monsieur Coulomb's ordinary handwriting was very similar to that of H.P.B., thus indicating the probability of his having been the actual writer of the letters, and so giving point to Mdme. Coulomb's most emphatic denial that she had ever "forged H.P.B.'s name," or "traced genuine letters and so made interpolations" (see preface to her pamphlet), for we have no similar denial on behalf of her husband. As to the contents of the letters, in which French and English words and phrases are intermingled in a most absurd and meaningless manner, many statements therein have been shown to be distinctly contrary to the facts, as testified to by quite a number of witnesses; one letter being definitely pronounced a forgery by Major-General Morgan and three other people, who had formerly perused the original. Then H.P.B. is made to refer to an Indian Potentate, who had no existence; to make mistakes with the names and initials of intimate friends; to boast of having dined with the Governor, when, as a matter of fact, she had declined an invitation received; and, when writing of a close friend, well known to Mdme. Coulomb and seen by her almost every day, to describe him in detail, giving his full title and office, just as though she were referring to an utter stranger. In the case of one phenomenon referred to, the statement now made by Mdme. Coulomb are quite at variance with the account she herself wrote at the time of its occurrence (Pamphlet, pp. 54-9, and Report, pp. 121-4); whilst many of the alleged statements of fact in the letters are quite irreconcilable with the circumstances, under which the phenomena in question actually took place. It is also worth noting that the missionaries positively refused to allow an inspection of some of the more important of these letters. Then again, according to the Coulombs, all the various phenomena connected with the so-called shrine, an ordinary cupboard hanging upon a wall, at Headquarters, were produced through their agency, by means of a sliding panel in the back of the cupboard, a hole in the wall behind and sliding doors on the other side of the wall; but the evidence of many independent witnesses shows conclusively that this hole could not have been made earlier than in January, 1884, because the wall was newly papered in December, 1883, and the hole had been broken through the paper, leaving a jagged edge, and, even then, only going part way through the wall; whilst the phenomena in question were all produced prior to November, 1883 (Report, pp. 97-103). It was further said that, if the shrine had been removed, the hole in the wall would have been seen and that, for this reason, even Colonel Olcott was not allowed to make an inspection; but the Colonel himself tells us that, on two separate occasions, he had the shrine removed altogether from the wall, which was found quite solid and intact; the testimony of numbers of visitors also shows that repeated examinations were made from time to time. Dr. Hartmann declares that, in December, 1883, the shrine had a solid immovable back, with a sound plastered wall behind; whilst Mr. Gribble, the expert employed by the missionaries, states that the two sliding doors and panels outside the room were made "without the slightest attempt at concealment," the sliding panel opening and closing "with some difficulty," being "evidently of recent construction;" that, "in its present state, it would be difficult to carry out any phenomena by its means," and that neither of these appliances communicated with the shrine. The Editor of the "Philosophic Inquirer" also declares that, in April, 1883, he inspected the shrine and the wall behind it, and found that there was no opening of any kind, but that, on September 14th, 1884, after the so-called exposure, he found a sliding door and an opening in the wall, which, however, did not go right through to the back of the shrine, the work, he remarks, being clearly unfinished. But enough of the Coulombs. And now as to Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Hodgson, a young man, at this time, with unbounded confidence in his own abilities, but otherwise without any particular qualifications for the investigation of occult phenomena. This gentleman, visiting India on behalf of the Society for Psychical Research in November, 1884, spent three months inquiring into the nature of the various occult phenomena produced by, or through, the agency of H.P.B., during several of the preceding years. Having himself seen no single one of these phenomena, Mr. Hodgson's report is, of course, based, not upon his own observations, but entirely upon the evidence of others, and thus consists, to a large extent, of inferences drawn by him from such evidence, these inferences appearing, in many cases, to be built upon very shadowy and unsubstantial foundations. Unfortunately, the report is rendered practically valueless, to the unprejudiced investigator, by the fact that, at a very early stage of his inquiry, Mr. Hodgson fell under the influence of the Coulombs, and thus accepting their statements as to the genuineness of the Blavatsky-Coulomb letters and the production of phenomena by means of trap doors, etc., he at once abandoned the role of the free and unbiased seeker after truth, adopting instead that of the pledged advocate, seeking only for evidence in support of his preconceived ideas; and so, when later he allows himself to sit in judgment, upon the charges he has, from the first, adopted, it is but natural that he should find these charges proven. However, on receipt of his report, the Society for Psychical Research, as Mr. Sinnett points out in "Occult World Phenomena and the S.P.R.," proceeded to pass judgment on Mr. Hodgson's accusations without even calling for, let alone hearing, the defense, even refusing to allow H.P.B. to see certain of the above letters, then held by the Society, and which she had already declared to be "in large part fabrications." Mr. Sinnett goes on to say, "We have all heard of cases in which the judges think it unnecessary to call upon the defense, but these have generally been cases in which the judges have decided against the theory of the prosecution," but "the Commission of the S.P.R. furnish us with what is probably an unprecedented example of a judicial refusal to hear a defense on the ground that the ex parte statement of the prosecutor has been convincing by itself" (p. 7). Now the whole case made out by Mr. Hodgson rests, in reality, upon the, for the most part, unsupported evidence of the Coulombs, two persons who, in the words of Mr. Sinnett, "endeavour to blacken H.P.B's character, by first exhibiting themselves as engaged in fraud and deception, and by then accusing her of having been base enough to make such people as themselves her confederates" (p. 8). In order to give some support to this theory of conscious imposture and vulgar trickery on the part of one who, on the face of things, has, at great sacrifice, devoted her life to a philanthropic idea, Mr. Hodgson suggests, and the Commission of the S.P.R. accepts and endorses, the long-exploded idea that H.P.B. may be a Russian political agent, working in India to encourage disloyalty to the British Government; and this notwithstanding the fact that the Government of India had itself, some years earlier, conceived the same idea, but, after thorough inquiry, had abandoned all suspicion of her motives. Moreover, as to the reliability and truthfulness of the Coulombs, the Committee itself says that where persons like the Coulombs have been concerned, their unsupported assertions cannot be taken as evidence (p. 204 of Report); thus, as Mr. Sinnett says, the members of this Committee "say such and such evidence must not be taken, and then they proceed to take it and to put it forward, and, as a careful examination of the Report will show, to build conclusions upon it, and to use bricks made out of M. and Mdme. Coulomb's statements as the foundation for the fantastic edifice they rear above." For if every reference to the Coulombs and their statements were eliminated from his report, every one of Mr. Hodgson's elaborate theories and assumptions must of necessity fall to the ground; and yet even Mr. Hodgson only accepts their evidence when it suits him, for, finding the testimony of Damodar, an Indian Chela, too much against his accepted theory, he declares him to be an accomplice in the alleged frauds (p. 210), and this in face of the statement of the Coulombs "that, in order to save Madame's (H.P.B.) reputation, I (Monsieur) did my best to the last; and it was only on the morning of the 16th May, 1884, that I confessed to Mr. Damodar the existence of the trap doors, as can be seen by his affidavit, and this confidentially, with the object of sparing Madame's honour, and at the moment when I saw there was no alternative before me" (p. 92 of Mdme. Coulomb's pamphlet). Again, in one of the letters previously referred to, and which Mr. Hodgson assures us are certainly genuine, Mdme. Coulomb is instructed to let Damodar receive a message in a "miraculous way" (p. 44 of above pamphlet), which, were he the accomplice we are asked to believe, would be palpably ridiculous. Mr. Hodgson admits that the sole evidence, for the existence of a sliding panel at the back of the shrine, is the uncorroborated statement of the Coulombs (p. 222 of his report), and yet proceeds to build a series of elaborate arguments upon the supposition that this statement is demonstrably a true one, whilst, at the same time, assuring us that he has not "trusted to any unverified statements of the Coulombs" (p. 210). Now in regard to the numerous messages from the Masters, received, from time to time, by many different persons, all of which, with two exceptions, are declared by Mr. Hodgson to have been written by H.P.B., when specimens were first submitted by him to two experts in handwriting, they were both convinced that the "K.H. writing" was not the work of H.P.B. (pp. 282-3 of Report), but Mr. Hodgson insisted that it was, and, having thus shown what conclusion he desired, he again submitted the original, and some additional specimens, with the result that the experts then agreed with his own conclusion. As to the value of this expert testimony, I need only say that Netherclift, the particular expert upon whose detailed examination of the documents Mr. Hodgson chiefly relies, is the same one who was afterwards so woefully deceived and discredited by the notorious Pigott forgeries concerning the late C. S. Parnell and the "Times," and of whom the eminent Q.C., Mr. Montague Williams, speaks in "His Leaves from a Life" (p. 263), where he tells us that Netherclift and another expert swore positively to a writing as that of a certain man, though it was afterwards proved to be by quite another one, adding that their evidence from handwriting is quite worthless. "In fact," he says, "in my opinion, they are utterly unreliable." Moreover, in attributing the K.H. letters to H.P.B., Mr. Hodgson ignores the fact that many of these were received quite independently of H.P.B., and even during her absence from India; in fact, he goes so far as to deny the very existence of the Masters (pp. 209-10), although, as to this, there is overwhelming evidence, in the shape of the testimony of a large number of persons, who have seen the Masters on many occasions, both in and out of the physical body. Now, of course, Mr. Hodgson recognizes that if Mr. Sinnett's record of occult phenomena, as detailed in the "Occult World," holds good, then his own general theory must fall to the ground, and therefore he devotes much time and effort to an attempt to discredit Mr. Sinnett's testimony. In the above work, referring to a message received by him inside a closed note of his own, Mr. Sinnett says "she (H.P.B.) put it in her pocket, went into her own room, which opened out of the drawing room, and came out again almost instantly, certainly she had not been away thirty seconds;" whilst, in a statement made before two members of the Committee of the S.P.R., he is reported to have said "she was out of my sight but for an instant of time --- I will undertake to say she was not out of my sight for ten seconds." Thus, seizing hold of this slight difference in the mode of expressing a very brief period of time, which, obviously, was not accurately measured, but only roughly estimated at the time, Mr. Hodgson builds up a laboured argument to show that Mr. Sinnett's evidence is quite unreliable, and that he must therefore be regarded as an inaccurate and untrustworthy witness, as one in whom it is impossible to have confidence. And yet Mr. Hodgson, this very critical investigator, makes some woefully absurd mistakes himself. For instance, in connection with another incident recorded in the "Occult World," Mr. Sinnett receives a telegram from one of the Masters, at a time when H.P.B. is many miles away from both the place of the receipt and that of the dispatch of the telegram, and, it having been suggested that H.P.B. may herself have been the author of the letters purporting to come from the Masters, Mr. Sinnett, through the courtesy of a telegraph official, is given an opportunity of comparing the original telegram with a letter received through H.P.B. from the same Master, and is thus able to satisfy himself as to the genuineness of the letter. Now Mr. Hodgson, on the strength of a slip of paper, given to him, as he believes, unintentionally enclosed in some other papers, and which, therefore, he has no moral right to use, endeavours to show how this evidence, as to the genuineness of the letter referred to, was, in reality, obtained by means of a number of confederates, but, unfortunately for Mr. Hodgson's reputation for accuracy, he omits to notice that the words written on the slip of paper refer to a telegram from a different Master, the original of this latter telegram having been sent to Mr. Sinnett through a third party without reference to any occult phenomena whatever (pp. 33-7, O.W.P., and the S.P.R.). Then, again, with reference to an incident concerning the hearing of two voices, at one and the same time, by Mr. Mohini, Mr. Hodgson says (pp. 357-8 of Report): "I need only remind the reader of the hollow in the wall which was near the corner of Madame Blavatsky's room. The confederate may have been Babula, previously instructed in the reply and with a mango leaf in his mouth to disguise his voice;" to which Mr. Mohini replies: "In my turn, I need only remind the reader that this incident did not take place at Madras, where Mr. Hodgson examined Madame Blavatsky's room, but at Darjiling in the Himalayas, months before the house at Madras was bought or occupied. What light is thrown on Mr. Hodgson's conclusions by this inaccuracy, after all his patient and searching inquiry, in which great attention is always professed to have been paid to facts, I leave others to determine" (see p. 47, O.W.P., and the S.P.R.).
In a similar manner, taking Mr. Sinnett's records of occult phenomena one by one, Mr. Hodgson proceeds to suggest all sorts of ways in which these tricks, as he calls them, may have been worked, and, whenever his suggested method appears difficult to reconcile with the facts as recorded, he returns to the affair of the ten and thirty seconds, reminding his readers how impossible it is to rely upon Mr. Sinnett's accuracy. But nothing, perhaps, tends more to show Mr. Hodgson's lack of capacity to judge the real value of the evidence placed before him, than the fact that he lays great stress upon the differences as to detail, in the account of the same phenomenon, given by different persons, such variations pointing, at least so he alleges, to the untruthfulness of many, if not of all, of the witnesses; whereas the most elementary experience in a judicial capacity would have shown that, on the contrary, these very differences bear the strongest testimony to their truthfulness. In fact, it is a matter of common knowledge that, amongst people of average capacity, no two observers of any particular phenomenon are ever fully agreed as to its every detail, and for this reason, in a Court of Law, too close an agreement upon matters of detail is invariably regarded as affording strong presumptive evidence of collusion on the part of the witnesses. As further showing the very slight value of Mr. (now Dr.) Hodgson's criticism, I would remind you that when in, I think, 1895 this same gentleman similarly criticized certain experiments made by a number of scientists with the medium Eusapia Paladino, offering somewhat similar suggestions as to how each particular incident might have been brought about, Professor Oliver Lodge, the well-known electrician, one of the investigators and one of the leading scientists of today, said in reply (see "Borderland," vol. ii., p. 101): "I really do not see how Dr. Hodgson can get over these statements, on any of his hypotheses, without attributing to us definite and deliberate falsehood;" these words, I would add, being equally applicable to his criticism of Mr. Sinnett's work. Finally, it is worthy of note that, some years later, after having himself witnessed a number of phenomena under the mediumship of Mrs. Piper, Dr. Hodgson publicly announces his belief in their genuineness with a great blowing of trumpets, as it were, as though to say, "Now that I, one of the greatest and most exacting of critics, am at least satisfied, no one else can possibly fail to be convinced," and this notwithstanding his own previous derision and rejection of the testimony of all other investigators. And now let us consider the other side of the question, let us look to the testimony of those who knew H.P.B. from personal experience, from having lived in the same house for months, nay, in some cases for years, together, and we all know how truly we learn one another's real character when coming into daily contact under the same roof. The Countess Wachtmeister, writing in 1886 ("Incidents," pp. 317-8), says: "I had been told a great deal against her, and I can honestly say that I was prejudiced in her disfavour" . . . but "I have now spent a few months with Madame Blavatsky. I have shared her room, and been with her morning, noon, and night" . . . "and I now openly and honestly declare that I am ashamed of myself for having ever suspected her, for I believe her to be an honest and true woman, faithful to death to her Masters and to the cause for which she has sacrificed position, fortune and health." Why even a newspaper writer, in an article published shortly after her death ("Birmingham Gazette" of May 12th, 1891), testifies that "in Madame Blavatsky's life there is no black spot to be detected by the microscope of the critic. She did good deeds; she preached purity and self-denial; she taught that virtue was excellent for virtue's sake. Her philanthropy was well known" . . . "So far as personal example could testify, she was a woman worthy of admiration" ("In Memoriam," pp. 88-9). Then Mrs. Cooper-Oakley ("In Memoriam," p. 17) says of her: "In all the years I have known our teacher and friend, I have never known her utter one ungenerous word of her greatest enemy; she was the practical personification of charity and forgiveness, and was always ready to give another chance of doing better to anyone who had failed her" . . ."It is a striking fact that the more closely and intimately we were united to H.P.B. in everyday life, the more did we learn to respect, nay, to reverence her." Whilst Herbert Burrows (p. 37) says: "Quickly I learned that the so-called charlatan and trickster was a noble soul, whose every day was spent in unselfish work, whose whole life was pure and simple as a child's, who counted never the cost of pain or toil, if these could advance the great cause to which her every energy was consecrated." Again, Bertram Keightley, now General Secretary of the British Section T.S. (p. 90), says: "From the time when I first looked into her eyes, there sprang up within me a feeling of perfect trust and confidence, as in an old and long-tried friend, which never changed or weakened, but rather grew stronger, more vivid, and more imperious, as close association taught me to know the outer H. P. Blavatsky better" . . . "However puzzled," at times, to understand her motives and actions, "I could never look into her eyes without feeling sure that 'it was all right somehow,' and again and again the feeling was justified --- often months, or even years, afterwards." Then in 1891, speaking in the Hall of Science, London (Fragments of Autobiography --- 1875 to 1891), Mrs. Besant said: "I know that in this hall there will not be many who will share the view that I take of Madame Blavatsky; I knew her, you did not --- and in that may lie the difference of our opinion. You talk of her as 'fraud,' and fling about the word as carelessly, of one with whom you disagree, as Christians and others threw against me the epithet of 'harlot,' in the days gone by, and with as much truth. I read the evidence that was said to be against her. I read the great proofs of the 'fraud.'" . . . "I read most carefully the evidence against her, because I had so much to lose. I read it; I judged it false on the reading; I knew it to be false, when I came to know her." And again, in her "Autobiography" (pp. 343-4, Library Edition), Mrs. Besant tells us that, when inquiring about the Theosophical Society, H.P.B. asked whether she had read the Report of the S.P.R., and that, on replying in the negative, she was told to "go and read it, and if, after reading it, you come back --- well," and nothing more would H.P.B. say on the subject. Mrs. Besant goes on: "I borrowed a copy of the Report, read and re-read it. Quickly I saw how slender was the foundation on which the imposing structure was built. The continued assumptions on which conclusions were based; the incredible character of the allegations; and --- most damning fact of all --- the foul source from which the evidence was derived. Everything turned on the veracity of the Coulombs, and they were self-stamped as partners in the alleged frauds. Could I put such against the frank, fearless nature that I had caught a glimpse of, against the proud fiery truthfulness that shone at me from the clear, blue eyes, honest and fearless as those of a noble child? Was the writer of the 'Secret Doctrine' this miserable imposter, this accomplice of tricksters, this foul and loathsome deceiver, this conjurer with trap-doors and sliding panels? I laughed aloud at the absurdity, and flung the Report aside with the righteous scorn of an honest nature that knew its own kin when it met them; and shrank from the foulness and the baseness of a lie" . . . "My faith in her has never wavered, my trust in her has never been shaken. I gave her my faith on an imperious intuition, I proved her true day after day in closest intimacy, living by her side; and I speak of her with the reverence due from a pupil to a teacher who never failed her."
And here I cannot do better than conclude by quoting from "Lucifer" of May, 1895 (vol. 16, pp. 180-1), in which Mrs. Besant says: "Brothers mine in all lands, who have learned from H.P.B. profound truths which have made the spiritual life a reality; let us stand steadily in her defense, not claiming for her infallibility, not demanding acceptance of her as an 'authority' --- any further than the inner consciousness of each sees the truth of what she says --- but maintaining the reality of her knowledge, the fact of her connection with the Masters, the splendid self-sacrifice of her life, the inestimable service that she did to the cause of the spirituality in the World. When all these attacks are forgotten, these deathless titles to the gratitude of posterity will remain."
N.B. --- Since writing the above, there has appeared in the "Theosophical Review," (vol. 34, p. 130), under the same title, an article by G. R. S. Mead, which students and inquirers are strongly recommended read.