Emma Coulomb

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According to Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett:

Coulomb, Alexis and Emma, residents and staff members at the headquarters of the TS. In 1880, Mr. and Mrs. Coulomb appeared, penniless, at the headquarters of the TS in Bombay, India and asked for shelter. HPB had known Mrs. Coulomb slightly as Miss Emma Cutting, in Cairo, Egypt, in 1871. The Coulombs were given a home with the Founders, and Mrs. Coulomb assumed the duties of housekeeper, with the freedom of HPB's purse. Mr. Coulomb was a carpenter and draftsman who made himself useful as a handyman. He was appointed by HSO to the Board of Control when the Founders went to Europe in 1884. This appointment was made because Mrs. Coulomb insisted to HSO that her husband was a proud man and his feelings would be hurt if he were left out. In ODL 3: 74, HSO comments: "If I had had even an inkling of his real character, instead of making her husband ... a Committee man, I should have had our servants chase both of them out of our compound with bamboo switches." The story of how these two, particularly Mrs. Coulomb, conspired with Christian missionaries to discredit HPB and funished false "evidence" to Richard Hodgson ... is told in numerous places - in greatest detail in Obituary - "The Hodgson Report" on Madame Blavatsky: 1885-1960, by Adlai E. Waterman. ML index; D, pp. 450, 573; SH index.[1]

C. Jinarājadāsa gave this account:

When in Cairo in 1871, H.P.B. became acquainted with a Frenchman, Monsieur Coulomb, and his English Wife, who was Emma Cutting before her marriage. in 1878, H.P.B. and Colonel Olcott came to India and made Bombay the Headquarters of the Society. Somewhere about this time, the two Coulombs were in Galle, Ceylon, where they had opened a boarding house. This venture was about to collapse, when Madame Coulomb wrote to H.P.B.for a loan. H.P.B. replied that, if she cared to come to India with her husband, work would be found for them. So the two Coulombs came and were given what work was possible. the husband was good at carpentry, and a job was secured for him at a factory; but he lost his job, and so work was found for him at the residence of the Founders. Madame Coulomb was given the work of superintending the housekeeping. Later, Coulomb was put in charge of the small library of the Society, and his wife was given simple secretarial work. When the Founders left for Madras in 1882, the two Coulombs came with them and resided at the new headquarters at Adyar.

In February, 1884, H.P.B. and Colonel Olcott left for Europe. The management of Headquarters was then put in the hands of a Board of Control. This Board soon found the Madame Coulomb was often trying to obtain loans from members who came to Adyar. Difficulties quickly arose between the Board of Control and Madame Coulomb, and finally the Board dismissed both husband and wife.[2]

He went on to describe in some detail the vengeful plot hatched by the Coulombs to discredit Madame Blavatsky and the Society.


Online resources

Books

  • Charles J. Ryan, "Chapter 13: The Coulomb Conspiracy against Theosophy," H. P. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Movement (Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1975). Available at Theosophical University Press Online.

Notes

  1. George E. Linton and Virginia Hanson, eds., Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett (Adyar, Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 224-225.
  2. C. Jinarājadāsa, The "K. H." Letters to C. W. Leadbeater (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1941), 25-26.