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has never gone behind that verdict, but has rested on it for more than twenty years.
With others, I was present at that fateful meeting. After Mr. Hodgson had read his Report, members of the Committee went among the audience to discuss it. Mr. F. W. H. Myers was one of these. When he asked what impression the meeting had made on me, I remember replying that the whole thing was so scandalously unfair that, had I not been a member of the Theosophical Society, I should have joined it forthwith, on the strength of Mr. Hodgson's performance.
My reason for this extreme expression was that, while it was popularly supposed that the "Society for Psychical Research" had investigated the phenomena in question, that Society had never, in fact, investigated the phenomena. It delegated its work to a Committee of five. But the Committee never investigated the phenomena. The Committee in turn entrusted its task to Mr. Richard Hodgson. But Mr. Hodgson never investigated the phenomena. And for an excellent reason. Mr. Hodgson came to India at the close of 1884 and left it early in 1885. But the phenomena had, for the most part, taken place years earlier, the most important of them at Simla, in 1880. So what Mr. Hodgson really did, was to make a pretence of investigating phenomena which had taken place four or five years before, while he was thousands of miles away. He was somewhat in the position of a small boy poking about a laboratory, after some lecture on spectrum analysis, and coming sagely to the conclusion that the experiments had been carried out with the aid of a tallow candle and a piece of painted ribbon.
Certain things may be cited, to illustrate the candor and judgment of Mr. Hodgson. He submitted to an expert in handwriting parts of letters attributed to a Master, and some writing said to be by Mme. Blavatsky. The expert, in a somewhat detailed reply, after commenting on the documents, gave it as his positive conclusion that Mme. Blavatsky was not the writer of the letters attributed to the Master. It will hardly be believed that Mr. Hodgson deliberately cut out this part of the expert's letter. It is only from a stray sentence a hundred pages away that we get the purport of the missing passage.
Again, consider Mr. Hodgson's credulity. For example, there is the question of a meeting not far from Darjiling, between a disciple, Ramaswamier by name, and a Master, said by those who have met him to be a Rajput by race, certainly not less than six feet four, and of majestic bearing. But Mr. Hodgson seems able to believe that this great Rajput was “personated” by a little Madrasi, not much over four feet six. And he believes that an intelligent man, such as Ramaswamier was, could talk to the little Madrasi for a considerable period, in broad daylight, in the open air, and believe him to be the majestic Rajput with whose portrait he was familiar. And this is the more singular, as Mr. Hodgson else
where dilates at length on the peculiar type and voice of this very Madrasi, as evidence that he would be recognized even if carefully disguised.
Or take Mr. Hodgson's treatment of handwriting. We have already seen how he disposes of adverse expert opinion. He prefers to be his own expert. And he makes a great show of counting g's and d’s and e's. He finds that in some pieces of writing there are two forms of the letters e and d; what might be called a German d and a Greek e, alternating with the ordinary copybook forms. On this discovery he builds great conclusions. When he comes to count up hundreds of these letters, one is insensibly persuaded that something is being proved. I was somewhat impressed, until it occurred to me that my own writing shows exactly the same variations of the same letters, and in about the same proportions. So the evidence pointed strongly to me, as the real delinquent. Emerson's handwriting also has the same peculiarity. One sees how flimsy is Mr. Hodgson's reasoning. In exactly the same way it can be proved that the English, or the Red Indians, are the lost tribes of Israel, or that Shakespeare wrote Bacon's Essays.
Again, one notices that, where the conditions under which certain phenomena took place were vague, Mr. Hodgson is fertile in conjecture. But where everything is clear-cut and convincing, the Report airily declares that it "does not profess to give completely satisfactory explanations." Soon after he reached India, Mr. Hodgson fell under the spell of the Coulombs, became the victim of their suggestions, and saw exactly what they wished him to see. Othello-like, he found confirmations strong as holy writ in every suspicion that they suggested to him; and this, although he knew that the Coulombs were hundreds of miles away when the more important phenomena occurred; that they had a personal spite to wreak, and, perhaps, a personal profit to secure. The really grave charge against the “Report of the Society for Psychical Research” is, that not one of all those who are reporting was actually a witness of the phenomena as they occurred. The whole thing is hearsay and conjecture; very credulous hearsay, and not very intelligent conjecture.
Procedure of this kind, in any established field of research, would have imperilled the reputation of the Committee and its members. But they were perfectly safe in this instance, because they had behind them an immense force of hostile public opinion, suspicious of all suggestion of Occult force, suspicious of Mme. Blavatsky because she proclaimed the reality of Occult force. Not one in ten thousand of those who to this day believe that the Society for Psychical Research “exposed” Mme. Blavatsky, ever read the Report. As the verdict fell in with their prejudices, they accepted the view of the Society, which accepted the view of its committee, who accepted the view of its agent, who never saw the phenomena he professed to investigate.
The wiser course is, to set aside this hearsay and conjecture, and with clear and candid mind to consider the testimony of those who were actually present when the phenomena occurred. This is the easier, at the present day, as the general understanding of these things has made great strides forward in the last twenty years. The phenomena produced by Mme. Blavatsky and the Masters who worked with her, were not mere exhibitions of magic. They were experiments intended to show that certain kinds of force existed, that definite powers could be applied to produce results of a definite kind, in the physical and psychical worlds. Now it is the fact that almost every type of force illustrated by the phenomena of Mme. Blavatsky and her friends has since been very generally recognized, even by popular opinion. For instance, there were the appearances of "astral bodies." But under the name of "phantasms of the living," astral bodies have passed into the realm of accepted fact. Again, certain phenomena implied “action at a distance,” Occult force operating through void space. But we have now, on the one hand, the "telekinesis” of the psychical researchers, and, on the other, wireless telegraphy, the wireless direction of torpedoes, and so on. So that both the mental generation of force, and the movement of matter at a distance are fully admitted. Other phenomena which took place in Mme. Blavatsky's presence were attacked because they seemed to involve the disintegration of matter. But nowadays all matter has disintegrated. The very atoms have gone to pieces. Once again, Mme. Blavatsky made the very fertile suggestion that certain phenomena might be understood, by taking the fourth dimension of space into account. But to-day the fourth dimension is becoming familiar. On the one hand, physicists invoke it to express the action of radiant matter, while chemists use it to explain the vagaries of some of the coal-tar compounds; and, on the other, we find an advanced theologian putting forward the view that the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection were made possible by his mastery of space of four dimensions.
The principles which underlay the phenomena of Mme. Blavatsky and the Masters who worked with her, are becoming widely recognized. The time is coming when it will be possible for people in general to understand that these phenomena were simply experiments, produced to illustrate still unfamiliar natural forces, and entirely within the realm of law. This simple truth, though repeatedly stated by Mme. Blavatsky and her friends, was obscured and distorted by Mr. Hodgson's makebelieve investigation, and by the verdict of the Society for Psychical Research. That verdict was accepted by : prejudiced public, hostile to Mme. Blavatsky, and inflamed against her because thirty years ago she expressed concerning the established churches and sciences views which one may now hear any day, from the pulpits of the New Theology.
Not so many years earlier, Charles Darwin was the target of a not less hostile fire. He was branded as a fraud and a blasphemer by good people who thought they were doing God service. Darwin has had his revenge. His thought has transformed the very theologians who denounced his doctrine of transformation. I believe the day is rapidly approaching when we shall see a like reversal of the verdict against Mme. Blavatsky; when it will be recognized that she was a pioneer not less valiant than Darwin. While Darwin taught the evolution of the body, Mme. Blavatsky taught the evolution of the soul.
Mme. Blavatsky did a great deal more than illustrate, by her experiments, unfamiliar phases of force. She brought forward, with great force, certain spiritual and moral principles. First among these was the principle of universal brotherhood, without distinction of race, creed, caste, color or sex. This, for immediate application in life. Then there were more abstract doctrines, such as that of the One Spirit manifested in the universe, and of which all lives, including our own, are the expression. Then there was the teaching of the larger self, of which the personality of each one of us is but a part; the deeper self which, touching our daily life on one side, on the other dwells with the infinities. Again, she taught the periodical manifestation of life, including the life expressed in our personalities. And she pointed to the elder religions of the East, as fertile sources of spiritual suggestion.
But these very ideas are finding universal acceptance to-day. We are familiar with the Peace Conferences, which rest their work boldly on the brotherhood of man. And all science, even the most materialistic, now sees in the universe the manifestation of a single ever-mysterious Power. The doctrine of the larger self, the deeper self, the "subliminal” self, is abroad everywhere, notably in the newest books. And as for the old wisdom of the East, we find the author of the New Theology avowedly drawing thence his theory of manifested life, and Sir Oliver Lodge taking from the same source his very suggestive teaching of Life and its periodic expression. It is true that these two writers, speaking, the one, of "the higher self," and the other of "the larger self,” believe they are indebted for their thought to Mr. F. W. H. Myers. But it is more than likely that Mr. Myers got this thought from the Theosophical writings which he studied so attentively during 1884, and in which it fills so large a place.
We find, therefore, that the experiments made by Mme. Blavatsky, and those who worked with her thirty years ago, illustrate forces and powers now beginning to be generally recognized. Can we be expected to believe that, by a happy inspiration, she "invented" just the right phenomena to illustrate subsequent discoveries? And can we be expected to believe that is likely to have been done by one who anticipated by thirty years the last conclusions of the "new science" and the "new theology"?
At the time, we saw how futile was Mr. Hodgson's supposed investigation, and we were, therefore, confirmed in our belief in the good faith of Mme. Blavatsky, our belief that the phenomena described in The Occult World were entirely genuine, and had taken place as described, and our belief in the Masters who had given an account of spiritual and bodily life as satisfactory to the reason as it was inspiring to the soul. So we set ourselves to search the Scriptures of many lands, to study the teachings of the Sages of all times, to try to realize, in study and life, the spiritual principles which, in their large simplicity, underlie the teachings of Scriptures and Sages alike. The Report of Mr. Hodgson in no way disturbed the even tenor of our work, which was positive and constructive, along spiritual and moral lines.
good many members of the Theosophical Society were shaken or driven away by the storm of adverse public feeling aroused by the Report. But many remained and continued to work, and the Society steadily grew in numbers. It must be confessed that it did not grow equally in real unity and brotherly love. This was presently to be shown by events.
In 1891 Mme. Blavatsky died. The bitter attack on her, which we have discussed, so far from checking her energies, in reality ushered in her greatest and most creative period. To it belong The Secret Doctrine, such books as The Voice of the Silence, The Key to Theosophy, and her new magazine, Lucifer, besides other work of enduring power. In all ways, her achievement vindicated her, and she stands as one of the most courageous and self-sacrificing workers for humanity, one of the great names of all time.
After the departure of Mr. Hodgson, the atmosphere of suspiction lingered at Adyar. Colonel Olcott remained there, while Mme. Blavatsky passed the closing years of her life in Europe. It is unhappily true that from that time onward Adyar became a storm-center in the Theosophical Movement. Whoever went there found an atmosphere filled with suspicion, and many came away strongly tinged with that atmosphere and spreading suspicion through the Theosophical Society. It would be pleasanter to pass over these things in silence; but justice demands that stress be laid on certain facts.
Among those who made the pilgrimage to Adyar, and came within its atmosphere of suspicion and accusation, was Mrs. Besant. The final result of the suggestions among which she found herself was, that she formulated charges against Mr. Judge, Vice-President of the Society, and General Secretary of the American Section, which he had built up by untiring and devoted effort during the years following the attack on Mme. Blavatsky. Mrs. Besant declared that Mr. Judge had been guilty of dishonesty, in giving out, as from Masters, letters and messages which, she said, were not from Masters; and she demanded a Committee of