Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

Letter to the Editor.

by A.P. Sinnett

[Reprinted from Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 
(London), July, 1885, pp. 461-62.]

This online edition is reprinted with permission
of the Society for Psychical Research, London.

The following letter from Mr. Sinnett relates to the discussion that took place at the General Meeting on June 26th: ----

To the Editor of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research.

Sir, --- Time did not allow me at the meeting of the 26th to answer certain comments on my remarks made by subsequent speakers.  May I ask your permission to add a few observations to any report of the proceedings you may publish?  I never supposed or hinted that any sum of money had been given for the letters, by the editor of the Christian College Magazine, that would be considered large by prosperous people in this country.  But the 150 rupees actually paid, according to Mr. Myers’ statement, would be an important payment amongst the people concerned.  The letters were not the less bought because the originals may have been returned to the Coulombs after they were printed.  Their publication in the magazine was the result paid for, and under the circumstances it would be a mistake to overlook the fact that they were purchased weapons in the fierce paper war which rages in Madras between the missionaries and the Theosophists.

As to the view taken by Mr. Myers of the Committee’s action, it appears to me that the prima facie case for believing that Madame Blavatsky has in some cases shown true psychic power, which he recognises as having been established by the examination of the witnesses in London, is not touched by the examination of other witnesses concerning other transactions in India.  The examination in chief of A. by B. at one time and place is not efficiently crossed by an examination of C. carried on by D. at a totally different time and place.  It is just because in this way Mr. Hodgson’s investigations have not grown in any legitimate way out of the incidents to which they attach importance that Theosophists generally seem to put his results aside as irrelevant; for those of us who have an intimate knowledge of the places and people concerned, they are discredited in other ways.

Professor Sidgwick thought my objection to the composition of the Committee disposed of by regarding the Committee as a tribunal which ought not to include members committed to definite opinions on the question to be tried.  But that was not the position occupied by the Committee.  It was not a tribunal, for it never had to face any representatives of the accused persons whom it affected to try.  Its evidence was collected in secret by one of its own number, whose present attitude, at all events, is very decidedly antagonistic to the persons whose conduct is being investigated.  Its views have been formed in a consultation which has not been assisted by the suggestions of any one whose sympathies would render him an efficient critic of Mr. Hodgson’s Report.  I think I am not exaggerating the general opinion of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society, in assuring you that for these and other reasons we regard the methods by which this investigation has been carried out as altogether vitiating its results.

Mr. Bidder hardly seemed to catch my meaning about the principles on which psychic inquiry should be conducted.  If the question was, “Is Madame Blavatsky’s character immaculate?” then we should address ourselves to incidents that suggest suspicion.  If the question is, “Are psychic phenomena possible?" it is wise to examine the facts which seem to suggest that conclusion, in preference to those which do not promise to afford evidence for it.

Permit me, in conclusion, heartily to reciprocate the feeling which Mr. Myers so admirably conveyed in his concluding remarks.

Yours very truly,
A. P. Sinnett.

[See Henry Sidgwick's reply to Mr. Sinnett's letter.]