[H.P.B. AND THE S. P. R. REPORT]
[Pencil note written on February 5, 1885. Courtesy of The Theosophical
[On September 11, 1884, the Christian College Magazine of Madras, India, published the first of two consecutive parts of an article entitled, “The Collapse of Koot Hoomi.” This article contained the first published portions of the infamous and disputed correspondence “addressed to Madame Blavatsky.” Hastening back to the attack, and determined legally to prosecute the propagators of this “expose,” H. P. B. returned to Adyar on the following December 21st, after being in Europe since the previous February. Coinciding with her arrival, there came to Headquarters at Adyar, both the “spy-agent” of the Society for Psychical Research, Dr. Richard Hodgson (who was to fraternize with his ingenuous greeters while quietly gathering “evidence” against them), and copies of Mme. Coulomb’s pamphlet, Some Account of My Association with Madame Blavatsky from 1872 to 1884 (inscribed “November 29, 1884,” but published December 23, according to Col. Olcott’s Diaries). In London, at the same time, the S. P. R. was just issuing “private and confidential” copies of its Preliminary Report, on Theosophical phenomena, in which all of the phenomenal incidents were covered with a pall of doubt, some being favorably reviewed while others were rejected as quite fraudulent.
After extensive deliberation and argument, some of it witnessed personally by Dr. Hodgson, it was officially concluded that no aggressive or legal action would be taken to prolong the controversy respecting phenomena or to carry the case to law. Thus H. P. B.’s defence plans were rejected, soon to be followed by private word that the S. P. R. agent had reached a highly unfavorable conclusion, however presumptuous, concerning Theosophical phenomena.
Frustrated in her efforts to carry to the enemy the defence of her Masters’ work, depleted by days of intense personal effort, plagued by recurrent and acute illness, her health completely shattered by physical and nervous exhaustion, H. P. B. took to her bed and her life was suddenly despaired of. On dispatch from Damodar, Col. Olcott, then at Rangoon, Burma, was recalled January 28, 1885. How this grave crisis was dispelled by a remarkable intervention, a visit from Mahatma M., is detailed by the Colonel, writing as follows to Miss Francesca Arundale, under date of February 2,1885:
“. . . Again has our Master snatched H. P. B. from the jaws of death. A few days ago she was dying and I was recalled from Burma by telegraph, with little or no prospect of seeing her again. But, when three physicians were expecting to see her sink into coma and so pass senseless out of life, He came, laid his hand upon her, and the whole aspect of the case changed. It is now possible she may live a year or two more—though not certain . . .”
It was at this critical period that H. P. B. wrote in blue pencil the note which appears below. The first six lines were written on the final page of the Preliminary Report of the Society for Psychical Research (p. 130, following Appendix XLII); the others occupying the whole of the end page carrying the press imprint. (The original is in the Adyar Archives, in a bound volume marked on the back, First Report of the Society for Psychical Research on The Theosophical Society, but containing in reality both the First and Second Reports.)
The text of the note is as follows:]
“Mad Blavatsky” who will be soon dead & gone for she is doomed, says this to her friends of the P. R. S.: After my death these phenomena, which are the direct cause of my premature death—will take place better than ever. But whether dead or alive I will [carried over to the next page] be ever imploring my friends & Brothers never to make them public; never to sacrifice their rest their honour to satisfy public curiosity or the empty pretext of
Science. Read this book: never, throughout my long & sad life, never was there so much of uncalled for, contemptuous contempt & suspicion lavished upon an innocent woman as I find here in the few pages published by so-called friends!
[continued under printer’s name and address]
Dead or alive I will never forgive Col. Olcott for having thrust* himself & our phenomena upon the attention of the gentlemen Scientists of the P. R. S.
(signed) H. P. Blavatsky
Feb. 5, 1885
on my death-bed
* [Madame Blavatsky’s bitter mention of Col. Olcott’s part in this tragi-comic investigation probably refers to his naive ambition to convert the skeptics of the Society for Psychical Research to a favorable viewpoint by his inadequate personal efforts (see A. P. Sinnett, Early Days of Theosophy in Europe, pp. 56, 59) and his careless offer of official assistance without proper safeguards against their hostile investigations (see Old Diary Leaves, III, p. 100).—Compiler.]