Obituary The Hodgson Report on Madame Blavatsky

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Obituary The Hodgson Report on Madame Blavatsky

By W.A. Carrithers

The Boarding or Door


Mme. Coulomb claimed that the "boarding" was: (a) made only after a decision to substitute it for the almirah in the recess; (b) made to be a "sham door;" (c) made by "carpenters" who built into it a panel designed to be "slid off about ten inches" (54).

1. Doubtless it was what he learned from these carpenters that caused Hodgson to suppress all of this.  But building a "sham door" to be put where any door would only arouse unwanted suspicion --- as it soon did (342) --- is a self-evident absurdity.

2. While Hodgson ignored the origin of what he called "the boarding," six witnesses concerned definitely recognized it as a "door" (325, 326, 328, 330, 335).  As if to prevent similar recognition by his readers, Hodgson in his Plan illustrated no other door (except that graphically misrepresented as a curtain in the northwall recess of the bedroom).

3. Incompatible though it was with his false juxtaposing of almirah and door, Hodgson did not deny that H.P.B. used this door to hang her clothes upon, in the recess behind the Shrine (332, 341).  A spare door, apparently similar to others on the premises, it may well have been used previously for this same purpose in the bedroom's northwall recess and as a shutter to close off a window originally there, these wall-recesses being used interchangeably as windows or doorways (220).  Tiring of the repeated removal of almirah to satisfy skeptical visitors, perhaps H.P.B. simply exchanged positions of almirah and door before October 14, 1883.  If so, in the almirah's new position against the window glass of the northwall recess, how could any sliding panel in its back --- recalling Mme. Coulomb's remark --- escape being seen from outside?  On all this, Hodgson, of course, was silent.

4. At the "exposure," it was found that one of the four panels of a door (at the back of the northwall recess of the sitting-room, shown in Plate II) could be slid open, the same door, so Hodgson claimed (but did not prove), that had been in the recess behind the Shrine (223).  Again, he had only the Coulombs' testimony that this panel had been moveable before some time in 1884.  Even the missionaries' agent admitted that, as a sliding panel, it was "evidently of recent construction" (339).

5. Hodgson found it could "be opened and shut only with considerable difficulty" (339); and, while concocting theories of "disuse" and "grit" to explain this, he made no claim his inspection showed the panel was designed for easy, silent movement.

6. Neither could he say why H.P.B. would have neglected to nail shut such a panel, if abandoned for "about five months" (340), and situated as it was (according to the missionaries' agent) "without the slightest attempt at concealment" (339), needlessly inviting scandal.



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