Obituary The Hodgson Report on Madame Blavatsky

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Obituary The Hodgson Report on Madame Blavatsky

By W.A. Carrithers

The Letter Traps


Besides arriving within enclosures, such as the Shrine, bookcase, etc., Mahatma letters sometimes appeared falling down from the air at Theosophical Headquarters at Adyar, as at Bombay earlier.  A good example of Dr. Hodgson's employment of ridiculous "evidence" is his preposterous citation (254) of holes in the ceiling of an old, dilapidated, apparently abandoned, house in the latter city as evidence Mahatma letters were dropped into a room below by "a secret contrivance" there five years previously.

1. On his own showing (253), the testimony of his chief witness here reveals the condition of the garret and ceiling as found by Hodgson and the conditions there existing during the time at real issue were quite different.

2. Why Hodgson would misdirect his reader's attention to "holes" in the floor of an old abandoned garret (when there may have been holes there large enough for him to jump through) is plain to see when one realizes that he found there no evidence whatever of any letter "trap" having been "fixed" for trickery, thus failing to substantiate the Coulomb claim (33).

3. Having so woefully failed to establish the previous existence of any letter "trap" at former Theosophical headquarters in Bombay, Hodgson resorted to bolder tactics to "prove" their use at Adyar.  In his reply of 1893, he put forward the singular and unsupported charge that, at Adyar, a Mr. A. D. Ezekiel had in fact "detected in the ceiling the 'screw-rings' which had been used in the production of a spurious letter-phenomenon intended for his benefit (Report, p. 249)."  [42]

4. But in his original account, Hodgson had quoted the testimony of Mme. Coulomb that, far from detecting any such thing, Mr. Ezekiel in December, 1883, had only "formed the natural supposition that it must have been pulled down by some contrivance" (249), a report which Hodgson had then stated was "quite justified" according to Mr. Ezekiel.

5. Having gone thus far, Hodgson goes a step further and adds the direct insinuation that these "screw-rings" had been removed surreptitiously by William Q. Judge (then Secretary of the American Section of the Theosophical Society, who, he charged, had endeavored to "save the situation" by any means) during the latter's visit to Adyar Headquarters in mid-1884, and that the marks of their previous location were then covered with "fresh paint". [43]

6. But, in order to do this, Hodgson found it necessary to ignore the contradictory allegation by Mme. Coulomb, an allegation which Hodgson himself had credited and quoted in 1885 (249), viz., that, months before Judge's arrival there, her husband had taken out the "screw-rings" and had applied this paint "to remove all traces" of the alleged letter trap!

7. While we need not suppose anything more than that these paint marks were deliberately falsified in 1884, before the Coulombs' expulsion, to discredit H.P.B., this goes to show that Richard Hodgson --- far from being a trustworthy reporter --- was as ready to trample underfoot his own previous published testimony and Mme. Coulomb's as he was that of any Theosophical witness or the latter's reputation, if it happened to get in the way of his "building a case" against H.P.B.

[42]  Proceedings, S.P.R., vol. ix, p. 143.

[43]  Ibid., p. 143, footnote.



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