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 Committees 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. Hodgsons
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. Hodgsons
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
Mr. Bidder hardly seemed to catch my meaning about the principles on which psychic
inquiry should be conducted. If the question was, Is Madame Blavatskys
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.]