Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

[Letter of H.P. Blavatsky
to Dr. Elliott Coues

[Reprinted from The Theosophical Forum
(Point Loma, California), October 15, 1933, pp. 47-48.)

Leaves of Theosophical History

The following is printed verbatim et literatim from a typewritten
copy now held in the official archives of the International
Headquarters of The Theosophical Society, Point Loma, California.

Letter from H. P. B. to Dr. Elliot Coues, (1)
undated and bearing H. P. B.’s signature in her own handwriting

To Dr. Elliot Coues,


In your letter to the Religio Philosophical Journal (2), you say that four years ago you wrote to Mabel Collins (Mrs. Cook) (3) asking her as to the real source of “Light on the Path”; to which she replied that it was inspired by “Koot Hoomi” (!) “or some other Hindu Adept.”  In her letter to you of April 18th 1889 which you publish, the first you received after an interval of four years, she states (see R. P. J.) that her previous letter to you was written at my dictation, adding that she had said Light on the Path was inspired by one of my Masters, because I had begged & implored her to do so!!!  Now the facts are as follows: ---

(1) Light on the Path was first published early in 1885, & your letter to her could not have preceded the publication of the book.  I returned to India in November 1884, & never saw Mabel Collins from that time till the 1st of May 1887; neither did any letters pass between us during that period.

Therefore it is perfectly impossible that I should have dictated, or even suggested, such a letter as Mabel Collins speaks of.

(2) Before my return to India in 1884, I saw Mabel Collins barely three or four times.  She then showed me the first page or two of Light on the Path wherein I recognised some phrases which were familiar to me.  Therefore, I the more readily accepted her description of the manner in which they had been given to her.  She herself certainly believed that this book was dictated to her by “some one” whose appearance she described, in which statement I am sure that I shall be born out by Mr Finch, who had the chief share in bringing about the publication of the book.

(3) I saw the completed work, for the first time in my life, at Ostend a few months before I came to London in 1887, when a copy was given to me by Mr Arthur Gebhard who no doubt will remember the circumstance.  This makes it still more ridiculous to suppose that I could have asked Mabel Collins to claim that Light on the Path was inspired by my Masters.  So far as I, or any of the English Theosophists are aware, the suggestion has never been mooted --- till this letter of yours --- that the work in question was “inspired” by Mahatma K. H.  On the contrary, as I am informed by those in a position to know best, its inspiration was always ascribed to quite another person, with whom it [is] true I am acquainted, but whom I should certainly never call my “Master.”

Finally, I emphatically & unreservedly deny Mabel Collins’ vile insinuation that I ever asked her to make any statement regarding Light on the Path at all, let alone any untrue statement.  Her accusation is a baseless & calumnious lie, the falseness of which will be apparent to everyone acquainted with the facts.

Again, was I the mysterious visitor who unannounced entered her study when she began to write “Through the Gates of Gold,” & whose name she forgot to ask; he who spoke from knowledge, & from the fire of whose words she caught faith?

Or when she dedicated the “Idyll of the White Lotus” to “The true Author, the Inspirer,” do you suppose that I was that inspirer, or that I was behind her & suggested that dedication?  Why the book was begun long before I first saw her: it was unearthed by Mr. Ewen & shown to Col. Olcott, who heard all about its inspirer before I even knew of its existence.

But apart from this, what is the meaning of your letter?  Is it war that you want?  Take care, I have been already so besmeared with mud that nothing worse can happen to me.  I have nothing to lose; but I think that both you & Mabel Collins would not quite feel comfortable if I were to come out with all your respective letters & with one or two things which I know.  I knew well enough that you did not believe in Masters, though your letters are full of protestations of your devotion to Them: but you will appear like a nice liar before the public if I publish them.  Remember your letters shown in every line the real reason why you are angry with me; & I don’t think people will hold you in very high esteem, or believe much in what you say, when once they know the real motives that guide you.  And you may be very sure that I shall take good care that every one shall know & appreciate at their true value these motives of yours, if you do force things to an open war between us.



(1)  For background information on Elliott Coues and Mabel Collins, see:  Sylvia Cranston's biography HPB, chapter titled "A Conspiracy Underway," pp. 370-378; also The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950, Chapter XI, "The Coues-Collins Charges," pp. 143-155.  For Coues' views on Madame Blavatsky, see "Blavatsky Unveiled!"
(2)  See Elliott Coues' "Letter to the Editor" titled "Attention Theosophists!  A Little More 'Light on the Path' for Your Benefit" which was published in the May 11, 1889 issue (p. 5) of The Religio-Philosophical Journal (Chicago).

(3). For background information on Mabel Collins and Elliott Coues, see:  Sylvia Cranston's biography HPB, chapter titled "A Conspiracy Underway," pp. 370-378; also The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950, Chapter XI, "The Coues-Collins Charges," pp. 143-155.