Re: Ergates, Hodgson, S.P.R, Hower and Paul Johnson
Sep 18, 1995 11:34 PM
(1) Heavens forbid! Here I go agreeing with Paul Johnson!
(2) Over the last 25 years I have done a great deal of research on the
S.P.R.---Hodgson Report on HPB. I believe I have read all the primary
source documents on the Hodgson Report (including this report) plus all the
criticisms and praise of the Hodgson Report. And I must agree with Paul J.
that, as far as I know, the S.P.R. did not withdraw this report. And even
if they had, would that mean that the Hodgson Report is invalid? Unless the
officials of the S.P.R. were knowledgeable of the details of the case (which
is probably not reasonable to expect) why should such an official withdraw
mean any thing. As a librarian, this would seem to me to smack of some kind
of censorship. Even if the S.P.R. officially withdrew the case (whatever such
a withdrawal would mean), the question would still remain: Did Richard Hodgson,
Eleanor Sidgwick and the other members of the S.P.R. committee know what they
were talking about in this Report?
I really wonder how many of the Theosophists who wrote letters of protest about
the Hower article, have even read the Hodgson Report? I remember years ago
writing to Geoffrey Barborka and telling him that he had misstated certain
things about the Hodgson Report in one of his books on HPB. He wrote back and
said no, he had not read the Report. Why should he, since Adlai Waterman in his
Obituary book had showed Hodgson to be wrong in his case against HPB. After
reading Barborka's reply I didn't know whether to laugh or cry!!! From my
point of view, the Hodgson Report is a very valuable primary source on various
aspects of HPB's life. In my opinion any really serious HPB student should
want to read the Hodgson Report. Mr. Barborka should have read the report or
should not have been writing in his book about something he had not properly
When I read what Hower said in the Smithsonian article about Hodgson's Report
I mused to myself: Has Hower read the report himself? And if you really want
to understand the report, you have to study the report and also consult
dozens of other documents to see if Hodgson's statements are true and accurate.
A superficial reading of the Hodgson Report, in my opinion, is worthless since
the causual reader cannot be in a position to really determine what's true,
false or whatever.
Also did Hower also consult the criticisms of the Hodgson Report by Sinnett,
Judge, Besant, Endersby, Waterman, Hastings, VAnia, etc. as well as Harrison's
article? Did Hower read the 1st S.P.R. 1884 Report on HPB and compare it with
the later Hodgson Report? etc. etc.
If Hower has not done at least some of this research, as far as I'm concerned
his opinion is worthless unless he could give me detailed reasons that would
show me that he has a grasp of issues and facts.
It's too bad that he felt had had to give some brief opinion of the worth of
Hodgson's Report. Why not just inform the reader of this report and the
controversy surrounding it and then list a number of books both pro and con that
the interested reader could consult if interested in so doing?
Overall, I like Hower's article although I did make a list of errors of facts
that he made indicating to me that he only had a very general knowledge of
HPB's life. But the article wasn't really that bad and I thought that the
article was good advertisement for Blavatsky. Possibly some of the Smithsonian
readers have searched out a book on Blavatsky and Theosophy.
I also agree with Paul J. that Vernon Harrison's article doesn NOT destroy the
Hodgson Report. Dr. Harrison addresses only two specific areas of the Report:
the Coulomb Letters and the Mahatma Letters. And Dr. Harrison's expertise
in handwriting was most relevant to the Mahatma Letters sine he was able to
go to the British Library and actually examine the handwriting of the letters
and compare with HPB's handwriting, etc. Harrison's comments on the handwriting
aspect of the Mahatma Letters was thought provoking and was a valuable contri-
bution to assessing Hodgson's claims about who wrote the MLs.
Nevertheless, as Paul J. rightly comments there are many issues and areas
surrounding Hodgson's Report that Harrison did not address. These issues
have been addressed by the list of authors I mentioned several paragraphs
So I agree with the statement made that many students of Theosophy have very
mistaken ideas as to what Harrison's article accomplishes.
And did any Theosophical students read the criticisms of Harrison's article
by a Mr. Coleman in the pages of the Jl of the S.P.R. in 1986-1988?
I could say much more on this Harrison issue but will stop at this point.
Far too many students of Theosophy (just like critics and skeptics of Theosophy)
make statements about these controversial issues when they haven't even read
all the relevant material! I guess it is human nature to want to have opinions
even when we don't know too much about the subject area! I sometimes joking
say to myself: There is no TRUTH higher than MY opinion.
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