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Re: poison letter; postmodern conf.; misc.

Sep 26, 1994 06:47 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

According to Jerry Hejka-Ekins:
> PJ> Give me a break.  I said nothing about what "you" are to
> > believe.  All I said was that the story seemed credible to me,
> > and that I would pursue the lead.
>      That is not what you wrote:
> PJ> Since Annie was of course alive
>  >  when the story was published, first in the Theosophist and
>  > then in ODL, she would have been able to correct it if she had
>  > wanted to.  Thus-- it seems credible."
>  >
>  > Will look for the specific passage.
>      If you had indeed written that the story "seemed credible to
> me.", I would have understood you to be referring to yourself,
> and would not have bothered to respond to your post in the first
> place.

Things don't "seem" in a void.  I don't think that your
distinction holds water.  There is an implicit "to me" in any
statement contructed like the one above.  Especially when
followed by a statement (again with no personal pronoun) like the
one also above.  I didn't say "I will look for the specific
passage." Do you therefore accuse me of dictating that EVERYONE
will look for the specific passage? Again, give me a break.  If I
say "it seems that you are being unnecessarily confrontational
about this" common sense dictates that it seems thus to the
person saying so-- me.

>      My reason for being so "adversarial" is because I believe it
> to be irresponsible for researchers to repeat unsubstantiated
> information as fact.  You had done just that in your first post,
> when you repeated Nethercot's unsubstantiated statement
> concerning a "poison" letter as fact.  In your second post, after
> I had presented contradictory information,  you again attributed
> credibility to the story because a friend told you that he read
> about it in ODL.

Your rather confident prediction that it was nowhere to be found
in ODL had misled me into abandoning that line of inquiry after a
rather cursory look through Vol.  5 where most of the Judge case
material is.  Herb's comment inspired me to resume the search.
It's not that the story was credible because of what Herb said;
it was that IF he was right, and Besant let it go unchallenged
while published twice during her lifetime,THAT made it seem more

> determine his source for the story.  Williams, as I had already
> pointed out, cites the story as gossip.

I missed this point the first time around, sorry.

>      "Giving credence" is giving credibility to a story based
> upon *source documentation*, not secondary information.  Perhaps
> you need to take a course in research methodology.

Perhaps you should drop the ad hominem stuff.

>      Wrong again!  I provided the Williams Quote, not you.

You mentioned it, but providing the direct quote is something I
don't recall, and must have missed.

> pointed out the inconsistency.  You insisted

SUGGESTED that Nethercot got

>      Considering the evidence offered by Garrett, I'm inclined to
> discount the third alternative, that such a genuine Mahatma
> letter exists as described.  But that doesn't prove that Judge's
> Mahatma letters were or were not genuine.  If you can find a
> passage in Olcott's memoirs (you say it exists) that Old showed
> Olcott a letter that warns Besant that Olcott intends to poison
> her, then you will have presented a very strong argument that
> Judge forged such a letter, thus substantiating the first
> alternative.

The passage isn't that specific.  It only says that Old, Olcott
and some others met to go over a set of papers which were crucial
evidence on the Judge case.

>      However, we must keep in mind Garrett's 1894 account, which
> is also based upon both Old's testimony and copies of the same
> documents that Olcott was shown.  I quote from Garrett's account
> below:
>           During the very next month Mrs. Besant, then preparing
>      for her trip to India, received a cablegram from the vice-
>      president in America to this effect:--
>           You are desired not to go to India remain where you are
>           grave danger Olcott await further particulars by an
>           early mail.
>      When, however, the "early mail" arrived with Mr. Judges
>      explanatory letter, quite a different complexion was put on
>      the telegram.  After reading this letter, and one from the
>      inevitable Mahatma which Mr. Judge enclosed, the conclusion
>      of the Inner Group was that the "grave danger" against which
>      the Master warned Mrs. Besant was "from Olcott."  The
>      Tibetan founder of the society, in short, warned Mrs. Besant
>      against imperilling her safety in the neighborhood of its
>      president!
>           The Mahatma had declared war on Colonel Olcott.
>           This was the first shot in the campaign.
>           But what could this danger from Colonel Olcott be?  Mr.
>      Judge and his Mahatma left that darkly vague.  Some of their
>      friends in England dotted the i's and crossed the t's for
>      them.  It is hardly credible, but the suggestion was nothing
>      less preposterous than that Colonel Olcott intended to
>      ~poison~ Mrs. Besant!....
>      showed itself in action.  Mrs. Besant deferred her visit to
>      India, and to impatient Indian disciples wrote that "Master
>      had forbidden her to come," and "till that order was
>      countermanded" she would not budge (pp 45-46).
>      Therefore Garrett shows that the poison letter story is
> gossip, and Besant and Olcott bought into it.  Unless you can
> find evidence that a letter ever existed that specifically warned
> Besant that Olcott planned to poison her, Garrett's account will
> have to remain the most plausible one, and I will have to go with
> it.

Thank you for providing this; I had already concluded that until
Radha throws open the archive doors (12th of Never, Hell Freezes
Over, etc.) that Garrett, which I don't have, would be the best
source.  Which now I can use thanks to your providing it.
However, I have been informed that M.  Gomes knows some things
which may relate to this.  Whether he will tell any of them is
another matter.

Thanks particularly because this will be duly noted in my section
on the affair.  Your interpretation seems (TO ME!!!) particularly
likely since Olcott, after all, only says that Judge's Mahatma
letter made it SEEM as if M.  were threatening the possibility of
poison.  He doesn't make it more definite, which suggests that
the letter itself wasn't.

What I will say in the book, and to you here, is that the
specifics of the threat are far less relevant to my inquiry that
the fact that it was made.  Which means either that M, through
Judge, was genuinely warning Besant to stay away from Olcott, or
that Judge was producing fraudulent letters to dissuade Annie
from going to India (look at the power struggle of the time for
clues as to why) or-- maybe-- that the letter wasn't a genuine
Mahatma letter but also not deliberate fraud-- self-deluded
mediumship.  The latter seems somewhat less credible than option
2, because of the self-serving implications of Annie's believing
it and thus remaining more allied to Judge and less to Olcott.

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