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Charles Webster Leadbeater 1854-1934 
A Biographical Study
by Gregory John Tillett
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Chapter 18: Police Investigations

          Leadbeater suffered from diabetes, aggravated by his refusal to follow the diet prescribed for him and his dislike of physicians, and from heart trouble.  He told one disciple that, clairvoyantly viewed, his heart resembled a large, over-ripe tomato.  And he certainly had cause for ill-health in the next ten years.  A lesser man might have succumbed to the pressure.  But, even if it meant dictating from his sick-bed, Leadbeater continued his work, exploring the hidden side of Freemasonry, answering his considerable correspondence, and maintaining a flow of articles for various Theosophical journals.

          The controversy over the relationship between the TS and the LCC continued to rage.   In the March, 1920, issue of The Theosophist Mrs Besant offered some explanation of the relationship and endeavoured to point out that there wasn't one, except insofar as both organizations were working for the Coming, and were inspired by the same Masters.  James Wedgwood, as Presiding Bishop of the LCC, had already made a statement on the "misunderstanding abroad" which led to the erroneous idea that

          "the Church is an activity of the Society and that its members must be Theosophists, or even that the

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Theosophical Society has converted itself into a Church and taken to calling its officers bishops and priests!" [1]

          Wedgwood declared that the two bodies were quite separate and distinct, although there was "a large overlapping of membership" and all the leaders of the LCC were eminent Theosophists.  But, Wedgwood thought, with Solomon of old, that "In the multitude of counsellors there is safety", and claimed that the LCC allowed a wide range of freedom of interpretation, allowing for the acceptance or rejection of Theosophy.  He concluded by suggesting that the solution to all the problems of speculative theology was "first-hand knowledge of spiritual truth" by "direct observation".  And, although he did not name any names, there were few who failed to recognize just which direct observers he meant.

          If LCC and TS associations caused some questions to be asked, then the marriage in April of George Arundale did likewise.  The Brahmin community in India was angered by the marriage because his intended wife was not only a high caste Hindu, but she was also only sixteen years old.  Arundale was forty-two. [2]  The Theosophical community was amazed that an Initiate should marry, as it had been in 1916 when Jinarajadasa married an Englishwoman, Miss Dorothy Graham.  Mrs Besant had stated at the Krishna custody hearing

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that Initiates could not have any sexual relations, and a number of marriages had broken up because of one partner's Theosophical devotion.  Anything more than a platonic friendship was clearly untheosophical.

          In Sydney, Leadbeater had the opportunity of meeting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), best known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, but equally famous in his own time as a pioneer of spiritualism. [3]  Sir Arthur was visiting Australia and New Zealand on a lecture tour and took the opportunity of a discussion with Leadbeater, with whose work on the life after death he was familiar. [4]  Leadbeater said that Sir Arthur's tour had done "great good in stirring up the thought of the people, and I hope, in convincing many of them of the reality of the other life".  Sir Arthur found Leadbeater "a venerable and striking figure", and "one of the most venerable and picturesque figures I've met in my travels". [5]

          Whilst Leadbeater was enjoying polite conversation with an author for whom he had a great admiration, Jinarajadasa was in London, alarmed that Krishna had become even more critical and less inclined to conform to other people's expectations of him.   Krishna was now stating that he wanted to

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          " ...stir up the b---- Theosophists!  I do hate this mamby-pamby affair we are at present... What rot it all is & to think what it might be.  We will have to do it.  Change it from top to bottom and knock the personal element into thick air." [6]

          Accompanying Jinarajadasa was Rajagopal, and they both brought an enthusiasm for ceremonial, inspired by Leadbeater's masonic and church interests, for which Krishna had nothing but contempt.  He wrote on August 7th:

          "I wrote a long letter to Raja saying rather straight that all these side shows kill the main show.... I hope he won't get annoyed with me!" [7]

          And he proposed that this question should be considered by a conference:

          "What I want to do is this, that A.B., C.W.L., Raja, one or two others and myself should sit around a table and discuss and lay out a plan, big & clean, and follow that plan putting aside all our personalities and all our petty things.  But I don't see how it can be done.  We are all so far apart." [8]

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          Krishna's situation was complicated, not only by the growing antagonism to him from people like Jinarajadasa, but also by Leadbeater's changing attitude towards the potential Vehicle.  Leadbeater was already stating that the Coming might not be confined to one Vehicle alone:

          "I have been given to understand... that in addition to the body He will use most of the time, and in which He will travel about, He will probably choose some one person in each country, whom He will sometimes inspire when He wishes, whom He will guide and direct as to what He wants done." 19]

          These words were originally addressed to some of his young Australian pupils, and he concluded by suggesting that the Coming might not happen for some fifteen or twenty years, therefore probably not until after his death, so he would not see the Lord in his present body.  This gave an new impetus to various young and hopeful pupils in various parts of the world as they endeavoured to be chosen as the temporary Vehicles for the Coming in various parts of the world.  For Krishna, it meant a further decrease in his importance in Leadbeater's scheme of things.

          Discontent about the "side-shows" continued into

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1921.  In March, Mrs Besant addressed a letter to the ES, discussing these "troubles", and attributing them to "the Lords of the Dark Face". [10]  These, she said, had been causing gossip about Leadbeater, particular in the USA and in response she suspended the work of the ES there, issuing an ultimatum that Theosophists would either work with her and Leadbeater, or they would not work in the TS and the ES at all.  She referred her readers to the Epistle of St James in the New Testament, an unexpected and curious reversion to quoting Christian texts, in which they should find much instruction in the third and fourth chapters. [11]

          In the same ES letter Mrs Besant noted how the ES had helped the Masters overthrow the Brothers of the Shadow during the World War, and urged them to continue their efforts to prevent the separation of India and Britain, also the work of the Dark Forces.  The Non-Cooperators (including Gandhi, whom she labeled "the pupil of a Russian Anarchist, Tolstoy") were helping the Brothers of the Shadow and any of them who were members of the ES could not therefore remain within that organization. [12]

          Mrs Besant repeated some of her ultimatums in the March, 1922, Theosophist, when she demanded to know "Whom Will Ye Serve?".  Once again, this demanded commitment to her and Leadbeater, or departure into the ranks of the

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apostate. She declared dramatically:

          "Either I am Their Agent, or I am a liar and a blasphemer.  Take me as you will." [13]

          Leadbeater, meanwhile, had been expanding on the conspiracy and the Dark Powers idea in the Australian journal of the ES.  He noted that "these enemies are exceedingly clever" and difficult for the average Theosophist to identify;  he, however, could "pierce that disguise".  He had, he recalled, lived through three "great periodic upsettings" of the TS, and identified these as the Coulomb allegations of 1884, the Judge "troubles" of 1895, and "the campaign of slander against myself" in 1906.  Out of it all, he was confident, would come good, since the outcome of the battle between Light and Darkness must result in a triumph for Light. [14]

          If the army on the side of Right felt assured of victory, the publication of a letter from T.H. Martyn to Mrs Besant may well have raised some doubts.  The letter had been written by Martyn on May 20th, 1921, and was headed "Private and Confidential", but, like so many other private and confidential documents at this time, it found its way to the editor of an American publication, The O.E. Library Critic, a small journal originally concerned with prison reform

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which became more and more devoted to attacking what its editor saw as unTheosophical behaviour in the TS. [15]  The editor, H.N. Stokes, felt justified in publishing Martyn's letter in a leaflet which gained international circulation.  It became a major document in the campaign against Leadbeater, Wedgwood and friends, and reference to "the Martyn letter" and "the cypher letter", together with "the 1906 committee" was frequent - just as reference to "the Petit statement", "the Ferrer confession" and "the Gauntlett statement" was to become.

          Martyn began by acknowledging a letter written to him by Mrs Besant on April 4th;  in this she instructed him to hand over the office of Corresponding Secretary of the ES in Australia to Leadbeater, because of Leadbeater's "high occult rank".  Martyn had done this, but noted that although occult rank was the public reason for the change, Mrs Besant had specified differences between her and Martyn as the real reason.  Martyn outlined various problems in the TS and the ES, and asked of her "one little favour", since he regarded her as his spiritual leader and "soul's friend".  This favour was to explain to him a number of serious contradictions in the TS relating to Leadbeater and Wedgwood.

          First, Martyn dealt with Leadbeater.  Although he had defended Leadbeater when in London in 1906, Martyn had

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been approached by one of Leadbeater's boys who confirmed all the charges against him.  In 1919, the same thing happened in America where Hubert van Hook talked about Leadbeater's sexual relations with him, and the fraudulent basis of The Lives of Alcyone.  Martyn had been forced to conclude, very much against his will, that Leadbeater was a "sex pervert", and this had been confirmed by evidence gained in his own home when Leadbeater resided there, although he had learned of this evidence only when he returned from America in 1920.

          Martyn had also been led to doubt Leadbeater's clairvoyance.  There was the statement by Hubert van Hook that he had assisted in "faking the Lives", and the fact that in July, 1917, Leadbeater had told five Sydney people that they had taken various Initiations whilst out of their bodies the night before, whereas not one recalled anything happening during the night concerned, and several of them, highly excited by the prospect of occult advancement, had not slept at all.

          To this was added the problem of Wedgwood, of whose sexual immorality Martyn had no doubt, and, considerable evidence, yet whom Leadbeater insisted was a high Initiate. Martyn was also curious about Leadbeater's disloyalty to Mrs Besant in his private conversations about

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her, questioning her actions on the political front, and saying she was deluded in working for Home Rule for India, thereby going against the will of the Hierarchy.  Leadbeater privately stated that Mrs Besant's actions were disloyal to the British Empire.  But everything he said publicly about her was flattering and loyal.

          Martyn devoted the rest of his letter to the problem of James Wedgwood.  Whilst he was in England, Martyn heard of serious charges, including sodomy and sexual relations with young men, made against Wedgwood, and spoke to senior Theosophists in London who confirmed these charges.  He recalled events surrounding the message sent by Mrs Besant regarding Wedgwood's removal from the ES, the reply from Leadbeater, and Mrs Besant's reply to it.  Martyn had also been told of Wedgwood's immorality whilst in America, and had spoken to people there and in England who claimed to have heard from Wedgwood himself of his activities, and who had assisted him - temporarily - to give up his "vices".  Martyn also recalled that Leadbeater had said that they had better "get rid of" Wedgwood when he heard of the charges against him, but had nevertheless allowed a cable to be sent to Mrs Besant declaring Wedgwood to be an Initiate.  Was Wedgwood really an Initiate, Martyn wanted to know, and, if so, how were the stories of his sexual activities to be refuted? [16]

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          Martyn also asked questions about the occult relationship between Mrs Besant and Leadbeater.  Leadbeater frequently stated that she had cut off "from physical brain intercourse" with the Masters when she began her political work, and this was confirmed by Jinarajadasa.  But Leadbeater, at the Sydney Convention of Easter that year, declared that Mrs Besant and he exchanged notes, physically, on their psychic work on the other planes.  And Leadbeater claimed that quite frequently their letters, detailing the same messages or revelations from the inner planes crossed in the mails.  He claimed that this had happened with regard to the founding of the Liberal Catholic Church, and the idea of the Three Activities (the Church, Co-Masonry and the TS). [17]  Had Mrs Besant cut off psychic communication, or had she not, Martyn wanted to know.  And why did Leadbeater's statements on the matter contradict one another?

          Martyn drew several conclusions about Leadbeater and Mrs Besant:

          "1. That Leadbeater is not always reliable.

          "2. That you have been relying upon C.W.L. as sole intermediary between the Hierarchy and yourself for many years.

          "3. That you have not been kept fully acquainted


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by Leadbeater with what the Hierarchy is doing.

          "4. That C.W.L.'s word is final and his seership is infallible to you." [18]

          Martyn recalled the time when Mrs Besant regarded Chakravarti as "a Master in the flesh" and later had to repudiate him, and he speculated that the same may be necessary in the case of Leadbeater.  He sought Mrs Besant's advice on the matters he had raised, especially the question of sexual activities.

          "I can with least difficulty regard the solution... that sexual irregularity is a matter of the personality and does not prevent a person being used by the Masters even as Their sole agent.  That explanation would leave room for the acceptance of both C.W.L. and Wedgwood.... I really do not want to have to think of Leadbeater and Wedgwood as monsters veiling their illicit practices under the cloak of humanitarian interests and acting with such clever ingenuity and cunning sometimes met with in such cases.  That is the viewpoint of lots of people anyhow." [19]

          Mrs Besant did not immediately reply with a simple explanation for the whole problem, and one can assume that

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Martyn did not expect her to.  But as the letter became more widely known, there were demands for some sort of explanation to account for the clear contradictions Martyn had specified.

          Meanwhile, not content with publishing the Martyn letter, The O.E. Library Critic devoted itself to a series of articles attacking Wedgwood and Leadbeater.  It suggested that Leadbeater had advocated a condition of "psychic orgasm" which he called "buddhic consciousness" in his book on the monad, and left its readers to speculate on how this might be attained. [20]  It further declared him to be a "gross and palpable fraud", "an ex-professor of Onanism", and reprinted details of the "cypher letter", although not the text, which it declared to contain language not to be uttered "outside a nuptial chamber or a brothel". [21]  The Old Catholic or Liberal Catholic Church represented to the editor "The serpent in the Theosophical Garden". [22]  Then, turning its attention to Wedgwood, the journal declared he had stated that morality was not a pre-requisite for Liberal Catholic priests, and noted enthusiastically that both the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church, and the Utrecht conference of the Old Catholic Church had repudiated the orders of the Liberal Catholic Church. [23]

          In 1917 Mrs Besant, to meet the needs of those

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who sought something like a monastic community, had established the Brotherhood of Service within the ES. [24]  Those wishing to be full brothers put all their property into a common fund under the control of Mrs Besant, and took a solemn pledge:

          "I pledge myself to serve the world in such ways as the Brother Server of this Order [Mrs Besant] shall direct me.  I pledge myself to carry out the commands and to subscribe to the rules and regulations of the Brother Server and of his Delegates without equivocation and to the best of my ability;  and I pledge myself to resign at once my membership of the Order should I ever find myself unwilling to carry out such commands or to subscribe to such rules and regulations.  I pledge myself to live a life of renunciation, obedience and service." [25]

          Now, in 1921, there was a renewed emphasis on recruiting in the hope of stimulating a new wave of dedication and enthusiasm within the TS.  Dr Rocke and Jinarajadasa were prominent members, and Fritz Kunz was engaged in a program to admit new members.

          Amidst all this excitement, scandal and

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"malicious intrigue", the departure from the TS of Mrs Alice A. Bailey went virtually unnoticed;   she and her husband drifted away with a number of other American members and eventually established the Arcane School, producing an extensive range of books said to have been dictated by the Master DK, generally known as "The Tibetan". [26]  There is a curious similarity between the material present by Mrs Bailey (or DK) and that given out by Leadbeater in those of his books published after Mrs Bailey's volumes began to appear in 1922.[27]  In TS circles Mrs Bailey was denounced or ignored, since her claims to be a pupil of the Master DK was clearly bogus - the Theosophical authorities, notably Leadbeater, would have known had she been - and therefore her works were not to be read.  But Leadbeater purchased them as they appeared, and read them, and made enthusiastic comments about them privately, although he never referred to them publicly." [28]

          If 1921 had been a year of attacks and intrigues, 1922 must have achieved a record in the history of the TS for seemingly endless "troubles".  The O.E. Library Critic  continued its series of happy proddings, reprinting a good deal of the old material, and including "Private and Confidential" documents almost as soon as they were printed for the ES and its Inner Group.  The editor was curious to know why, with their combined clairvoyant powers, neither

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Mrs Besant nor Leadbeater could discover who was leaking these documents, although they tried very hard, and published warnings of the dire consequences of such treachery.  The editor was also curious to know why, if the Apostles had been an historical fiction - as Leadbeater stated in The Inner Life - there was a prayer of thanksgiving for their lives and work in the Liberal Catholic Liturgy. [29]

          Despite such attacks and slanders, doubtless not even read by Mrs Besant, although she had been receiving The O.E. Library Critic with the editor's complements since 1913, the year began on a note of self-congratulation. [30]  At the suggestion of Madame de Manziarly, the Russian widow of a Frenchman and a close friend of Krishna, it was decided to set aside February 17th each year in thanksgiving for three heroes of Theosophy:  Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) (an Italian Dominican friar and philosopher who was burnt as a heretic on that day in 1600, and who reincarnated as Mrs Besant), Henry Steel Olcott (who died on that day in 1907) and Charles Webster Leadbeater (who said he had been born on that day in 1847). [31]  A small booklet was produced describing the celebration of what was to be called "Adyar Day", and containing statements in praise of the three heroes.  It included a brief biography of Leadbeater, which declared the story "Saved by a Ghost" to be true, and

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referred to his career at Oxford.  This account was reproduced from The Theosophist for November, 1911. [32]

          In January, 1922, Irving Cooper published circular letter in defence of Leadbeater:   it was quoted by L.W. Burt in an article entitled "War Against Mrs Besant":

          "Year after year I have been with him, and never did I see or sense the slightest taint of immorality or coarseness.  On the contrary, I marvelled again and again at the singular purity of mind, so different from that of other men.  Do you think I could be with him for five years and not sense vicious tendencies in his character if they were there?  Mrs M [Martyn] is said to have drawn certain opposite conclusions from something she saw in her home.   I happen to know that the incident described was of the most innocent character." [33]

          But self-congratulation, thanksgiving and defence were quickly followed by yet another scandalous document:  "the Farrer confession".  Reginald Farrer was a friend of Wedgwood, and a Liberal Catholic priest.  He had been a pupil of Leadbeater, and was one of Krishna's bodyguards in 1912 and 1913.  He was also Secretary of the League of Redemption,

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a Theosophical society concerned with "the nature and cure of the social evil" [presumably prostitution].  Ferrer had been the subject of various accusations in association with Wedgwood, and in 1919 admitted to various people that the accusations were true.  On February 28th, 1922, he wrote to the leader of Co-Masonry in England tendering his resignation, and specifying his reasons:

          The imputation against myself as well as against Wedgwood, King and Clark in Mr Martyn's letter is but too true.  Yet I would have you believe that I was led astray by those whom I considered to be my superiors both morally and spiritually.  I was not strong enough to control my own lower nature and gave way to a practice that I am now heartily ashamed of.  Reparation for the stain that I have brought upon the Order I cannot make, and I have come to the mournful conclusion chat it is incumbent on me to ask you to strike my name from the role of Co-Masonry.  Wedgwood absolutely declines to give up the malpractice.  Again, [Jose] Acuna who is also addicted to this vice had actually stood sponsor for one of his 'friends' who was initiated into Emulation Lodge recently." [34]

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          Ferrer sent copies of his confession to Mrs Besant, Leadbeater, Jinarajadasa and Krishna, as well as Miss Bright, Josephine Ranson and various others.[35]  He left the country on the same day he wrote his resignation.

          An English Theosophist, J.W. Hamilton-Jones of London, spoke with Wedgwood on the 28th, and Wedgwood protested his innocence, mentioning also that he had received an anonymous letter to the effect that if he had not left the country by March 1st he would be arrested.  Wedgwood left England that day.  Along with the other documents, the "Ferrer confession" was reprinted in The O.E. Library Critic, and privately printed in leaflet form for easy distribution.

          On March 2nd, 1922, Mrs Besant issued a letter "To All Members of the Theosophical Society" in which she dealt with the current controversies, and, so she thought, resolved them all. [36]  Opposition to the LCC she attributed to a hatred of Roman Catholicism, the very name of which was "historically detested" in Australia and North America.  It has the "seal of the apostolate" of the LCC that it should be attacked so violently, and foreshadowed the imminent coming - the "hour of temptation" mentioned in the Book of Revelation to which Mrs Besant referred her readers.

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          The allegations against Leadbeater had, she recalled (with a less than impartial and less than accurate memory), been dismissed by "a Committee in England".   She denounced The O.E. Library Critic, denied that she had ever regarded "a well-known Indian gentleman" [Chakravarti] as a Master, and refuted the Martyn letter.  It showed not only "strange confusion and inaccuracy of thought", but plain untruths.  She denied cutting of contact with the Masters, declaring that it was only "physical brain intercourse", not "the superphysical line of communication".  Mr Martyn's letter contained a number "infamous accusations", none of which she believed, but the only one of which she specifically refuted was the claim that police in several countries were after Wedgwood.  The Jesuits, she added, have often resorted to allegations of immorality against those they have regarded as heretics, and even HPB suffered in that way.

          She concluded her letter with an impassioned denunciation of "The venom, the hatred, the coarseness, the low vulgarity obvious in the attacks, and in such papers as Dawn...", which, she suggested, "show very clearly their origin and inspiration".  She sought the support of those who had elected her for another term as President of the TS to work for "the reconstruction of the Society", so that they would not be ashamed "to face the Lord when He shall come".

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          The "Ferrer Confession" was followed by the resignation of Wedgwood from the TS, Co-Masonry, the Liberal Catholic Church and various associated bodies.   He had been challenged by some English Theosophists to either sue some of the authors of the various charges against him, or to resign.  In a letter of March 7th, 1922, to Mrs Besant, he resigned:

          "I am writing to tell you that I have decided, after some weeks of careful consideration, to sever my connection with the Theosophical Society, the Co-Masonic Order and the Liberal Catholic Church, and to retire into private life.  I am heartily weary of the campaign of slander and malicious intrigue, which has now persisted for some years and is growing more unscrupulous and personal.  It does incalculable harm to the Theosophical Movement as a whole, and has the effect of frustrating work among those classes of the community that one specially wishes to reach." [37]

          Mrs Besant refused to accept his resignation from the TS.  It took almost a year for his resignation as Presiding Bishop of the LCC to become effective.  He was succeeded by

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Leadbeater who officially took office at the end of March, 1923. [38]

          The excitement was maintained with a response by T.H. Martyn to Mrs Besant's answer to his letter.  This was printed in Dawn, the magazine of the T.S. Loyalty League in Sydney, a group of members of the Sydney Lodge, opposed to Leadbeater, the LCC and such things. [39]  Martyn repeated most of the material in his original letter, and noted that he had endeavoured to prevent that letter from being made public.  He quoted the "Ferrer Confession", and rejected strongly Mrs Besant's assertion that one must either accept her and Leadbeater, or stop pretending to be a loyal Theosophist.  He felt that her words, thrilling as they were, "savor of nervous overstrain". [40]

          The documents continued to appear:  next, "the Gauntlett Statement".  Rupert Gauntlett had been one of the first two Liberal Catholic Bishops, and one of Wedgwood's consecrators.  On June 23rd, 1922, he issued a statement on oath regarding "the Farrer Confession" and Wedgwood's resignation.  Gauntlett stated that he had spoken with Mrs Besant during 1918 when the matter of Farrer's verbal confession had been discussed.  Gauntlett felt obliged to resign from the Church because, although he did not know the accusations to be true, he was reluctant to be associated

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with persons against whom such charges could be made.  Mrs Besant urged him not to resign, but to help in "cleaning the church from such scandals".

          "I asked her whether there was any real ground for Mr Farrer's statement in so far as it incriminated others, and Mrs Besant then said that she had no doubt as to its truth, and that in any case, within her personal knowledge, Mr Wedgwood's behaviour when at Adyar was such that she refused ever to have him there again." [41]

          Gauntlett remained in the Church, and on March 22nd, 1922, saw Wedgwood in London to discuss "the Ferrer Confession".  Wedgwood told him, as senior bishop in the Church, that he wished to resign as from March 23rd. Gauntlett asked him not to do so on the ground that it would imply his guilt of the charges against him.  He suggested a libel action against Farrer, but Wedgwood would not agree.  Gauntlett then stated that if Wedgwood's resignation was tendered, then he (Gauntlett) would accept it only "on the distinct understanding that guilt was implied by his resignation".  The resignation was nonetheless tendered. [42]

          Not long after "the Gauntlett Statement", "the Wilkinson Circular" appeared.  This was on open letter to

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officials of all TS lodges in England written by Alfred Wilkinson, President of the Nottingham Lodge.   The circular referred to a move by Nottingham Lodge to have the National Committee of the TS in England take action to investigate and denounce the rampant immorality in the TS, which was centred, so he said, on Wedgwood and Leadbeater.  Wilkinson was concerned at the obvious contradiction in recent public statements, and the continuing resurgence of old scandals.  He noted:

          "Four priests of the L.C. Church have been practically expelled for the practice of Sodomy, and no defence being offered, one naturally assumes guilt;  and indeed there is much also to support this assumption.   The only one whose case demands the consideration of the Society is Mr Wedgwood, and that because of the fact that he has been pronounced by Mr Leadbeater to be an Initiate.  We must candidly face the question whether Initiateship and the moral ruin of young boys by the practice mentioned are compatible." [43]

          From the distance of Sydney, Leadbeater was observing these alarming developments, probably aware that, sooner or later,

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they would extend to the Antipodes.

          After visiting India at the end of 1921 for the annual TS Convention, Krishna and Nitya and a party of other Theosophists sailed for Sydney for the 1922 TS convention there, arriving on April 12th.  They were accompanied by Jinarajadasa.  Leadbeater and a large party of his disciples met them;  for Krishna and Nitya it was the first time since July, 1912, that they had seen Leadbeater.   Krishna wrote to Lady Emily:

          "C.W.L. is just the same, he is much whiter in hair, just as jovial & beaming with happiness.  He was very glad to see us.  He took my arm and held on to it and introduced me to all with a 'voila' in his tone.  I was very glad to see him too." [44]

          Leadbeater was living at "Crandon", the home of Mr and Mrs Gustav Kollerstrom, and was at the centre of a small community of Theosophist's children, all boys between fourteen and twenty-one. [45]

          Krishna and Nitya stayed not far away at "Malahide", the home of John Mackay and his wife.  Nitya, in a letter to Ruspoli, gave his impressions of Leadbeater:

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          "You know he is really marvellous old man;  he is absolutely unchanged, except that he has grown milder, and less cruel to old ladies;  he goes out of his way now to talk to all the old ugly women... Yet occasionally he lets fly and he is the old C.W.L. of Adyar.  But just as in Adyar he takes everything for granted, never a question of doubt, never a question that anyone else can doubt;  he is always sure that everything is as real to everybody as it is to him." [46]

          The main difference that Krishna and Nitya noticed in Leadbeater was his interest in the LCC, and they were shocked to discover what a major part this now played in the lives of his disciples.  Krishna felt cynical and critical, and although he tried desperately not to show it, he was completely out of sympathy with church ceremonial.  His first letter to Lady Emily from Sydney described his first church service:

          "Sunday Morning [April 18] I went to the L.C.C. Church [in Regent Street, Redfern] & C.W.L. was the acting priest.  He did it all very well, but

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you know I am not a ceremonialist & I do not appreciate all the paraphernalia and all those prayers & bobbing up and down, the robes, etc.;  but I am not going to attack it, some people like it so what right have I to attack or disapprove of it?  The church lasted 2-1/2 hours & I was so bored that I was nearly fainting.  I am afraid I rather showed it.  I must be careful or else they will misunderstand me, & there will be trouble.   They are like cats and dogs over this church affair.  They are fools anyway.   Their over-zealousness & the lack of tact is the cause of all the trouble here." [47]

          Krishna's comments about "all the trouble here" referred to the growing controversy within the Sydney Lodge over the role of the LCC and Leadbeater in the life of the TS.  What Mary Lutyens refers to as "Leadbeater's church party" was strongly opposed by the General Secretary of the time, T.H. Martyn, whose personal wealth had for some time supported the Lodge.

          Martyn was campaigning for a "Back to Blavatsky" movement within the TS - and to him this meant Theosophy without the personality cults, the handing out of Initiations, the occult pronouncements of Leadbeater and

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others, the OSE, the Coming, and the LCC. [48]  To support his efforts, Martyn had formed the TS Loyalty League in Sydney, meaning loyalty to Blavatsky and true Theosophy rather than to those who, in his opinion, were attempting to supplant her and it.  He was, naturally, opposed in this by Leadbeater's followers, and conflict was simmering for some time before it finally exploded into open warfare at the Australian TS Convention which began in Sydney on Good Friday, 1922.

          There was a series of allegations and arguments.  Jinarajadasa, representing Mrs Besant who hoped to attend but been unable to do so, presided, and was viewed by the dissidents as an agent of Leadbeater, a sort of Theosophical trouble-shooter.  Much of the heated discussions centred on Leadbeater;  his enemies were especially indignant when, as he left each session, he turned to the left and the right, making the sign of the cross in benediction to his disciples, who rose as he passed.

          A resolution of confidence in Mrs Besant and Leadbeater, proposed by Senator Matthew Reid, provoked a four hour discussion in which all the old charges were resurrected and debated. [49]  Krishna, who became involved in the debate, wrote:

--- 667 ---

          "There was a huge uproar on the part of the Loyalty League.  A man got up, frightfully coarse & vulgar & said that he had no confidence in C.W.L. as he was an immoral man & began to rake up all the lies about C.W.L.  Raja who was the chairman said all this had nothing to do with it, etc.  Then there were those who spoke for C.W.L. and those against him.  He was there all the time.  The storm of accusation & defending went on for about 2 hours.  Martyn spoke & said C.W.L. could not be trusted because he was associated with Wedgewood [sic].  Then Fritz Kunz, Nitya and I finally spoke.  We thundered at them.  I said I knew C.W.L. better than most of them & so I could speak with some authority.  I declared he was one of the purest & one of the greatest men I had ever met.  His clairvoyance may be doubted but not his purity.  As to his style Bishop, a man can call himself what he liked etc.  Finally I said that being Theosophists we behaved worse than the ordinary man & that we all lost our gentlemanliness when we were attacking etc.  Martyn went out immediately after the vote was taken.  For 85 & against 15.  Only delegates voted." [50]

          The motion proposed by Senator Reid, was opposed

--- 668 ---

by Martyn, John Prentice of the Hobart Lodge, and Mr Barnes of the Sydney Lodge. [51]  Martyn declared that Leadbeater associated with a "homosexualist of a depraved and criminal type" (i.e. Wedgwood).  Leadbeater, although not addressing the meeting, let it be known that in 1908 a committee "including eminent judges and barristers" had cleared him of the 1906 charges. [52]  This was simply untrue:  the 1908 "committee" was in fact a majority of the British Executive of the TS (including Wedgwood, Hodgson-Smith, Maude Sharp, Esther Bright and Herbert Whyte) who had circularized the British members with a statement to the effect that they had seen the evidence of the 1906 hearing and later documents, and considered the evidence, and gave as "their deliberate opinion that there is nothing to show that in what he did Mr Leadbeater was not actuated by the highest and purest motives and nothing to warrant the insinuations of personal misconduct which have been so freely made". [53]  There were no judges or barristers, eminent or otherwise, amongst the signatories to the circular.  It was, however, to appear in future references as "the 1908 committee".

          Two days after the stormy meeting, Krishna and Nitya dined with the Martyns, trying their best to reconcile Martyn to Leadbeater, but without success.  It seems likely that Martyn avoided being too specific with Krishna and Nitya as to what he knew of Wedgwood or Leadbeater, and

--- 669 ---

Krishna, who hardly knew Wedgwood, requested Lady Emily to find out the nature of the charges against him in England.


          In Sydney it had become known that E.L. Grieg, Secretary of the Sydney Lodge, had employed a private detective to follow Wedgwood the last time he had been in Sydney.  The detective reported that Wedgwood had visited eighteen public toilets in a period of two hours, and, when questioned about this, explained to the police that he had been searching for a friend whom he had known in a previous life, but who had now "gone wrong" and needed rescuing. [55]

          Rather ironically, the February issue of Theosophy in Australia had included an article on "the Sex Question", beginning

          "This question has received a certain amount of prominence recently among our members, and certain practices have been more or less freely discussed." [56]

          This was certainly an understatement.

          Throughout 1922 Sydney newspapers had been

--- 670 ---

finding good copy in sex and Theosophists, especially the Daily Telegraph which ran a series on the alleged activities of Leadbeater and those associated with him.  Some members of the TS accused Martyn of inspiring this attack, and of making material available to the newspaper;  he denied this.  However, much imagination was shown by Sydney newspapers in headlines such as "Where Leadbeater Bishes", "Leadbeater: A Swish Bish with the Boys", "The Mahatmas", and "Dandy Coloured Coons" (in reference to Krishna and Nitya). [57]   It seemed that the newspapers had access to some hidden supply of Theosophical information, perhaps from the editor of The O.E. Library Critic, or Mrs Tingley and friends at Point Loma.

          Mrs Besant issued an appeal to the lodges in Australia which was published in Theosophy in Australia, and produced a series of answers from both sides of the argument.

          "As P.T.S. [President of the Theosophical Society] I appeal to you to put an end, so far as in you lies, to the persecution fo Bishop Leadbeater, and the attempts made by a small section of the Sydney Lodge, the leaders of the so-called Loyalty League to work against me... until they force me to resign.  The shameful campaign on my colleague has

--- 671 ---

been worked up in order to cover the attack on myself, which has become overt through the influence of Mr T.H. Martyn on the Daily Telegraph." [58]

          She briefly examined the events of 1905 and onwards insofar as they concerned Leadbeater, and referred to the allegations of "certain crimes" made by a "certain person" - i.e. Ferrer.

          Following the press allegations, the police undertook another investigation of Leadbeater and his activities.  The results of their investigation have had not been published until the author's The Elder Brother. A Biography of C.W. Leadbeater in 1982.  Other authors have referred to the general terms of the conclusions of the enquiry, and to the evidence collected by the police.  However, in the Archives of New South Wales there exists a file containing complete documentation of the police enquiry. [59]

          The interest of the police in Leadbeater was originally aroused in 1917 by Joseph Fussell, but their investigations then found no evidence to sustain charges. [60]  From May to June, 1922, the police undertook a very thorough investigation of Leadbeater. Statements were taken

--- 672 ---

from the Martyns, Mrs Kollerstrom, nine of Leadbeater's pupils, a domestic servant of the Martyn's, as well as from Jinarajadasa, Krishna and Nitya.  As in 1917, Leadbeater was said to be too ill to be examined by the police.

          The bulk of the evidence was inconclusive and unconvincing. It revealed a man with distinctly eccentric views on sex, but one to whom his pupils were so dedicated that they were prepared to say nothing detrimental.  Indeed, the statements of some of his pupils read as though they were learnt in advance, and well-rehearsed.

          Martyn took virtually the opposite approach, for, as a later commentator noted:

          "Martyn and his allies soon came to look upon the Liberal Catholic Church as no more than the front for a gang of pederasts." [61]

          Martyn told the police that he had joined the TS in 1891, and had first met Leadbeater in 1905.  He met him again in 1914, and when the tutor who conducted the informal school at the Martyn's left for war service in 1915, Leadbeater had taken over, and lived with the Martyns until 1917, when he moved to live with the Kollerstroms.  Martyn recounted only one event which might have provided evidence of questionable

--- 673 ---

conduct on Leadbeater's part.  He recalled arriving home late one evening, and passing Leadbeater's room where the door was open:

          "Mr Leadbeater was standing by his bed in his nightshirt, he turned down the clothes preparatory to getting in.  Oscar Kollerstrom was in the bed without any clothes on and lying across the bed.  Mr Leadbeater caught hold of his right shoulder and turned him over and switched off the light preparatory, I presume to getting in." [62]

          If he had considered this evidence of sexual misconduct, Martyn had taken no action at the time.  But he later discovered that his wife had witnessed a similar event while he had been away on business.

          In her statement, Mrs Martyn recalled:

          "I saw Oscar [Kollerstrom] in a state of nudity in the bed with Mr Leadbeater and Heyting also naked.  He walked out of the room naked to his bed which was on the verandah... and I saw Mr Leadbeater getting into the bed where Oscar was and the light extinguished.  I stood at the door not knowing what

--- 674 ---

to do.  I was very perturbed.  I was in the house by myself." [63]

          However, Mrs Martyn took no further action, and didn't mention the event until the police investigation some five

years later.

          Martyn informed the police that Leadbeater always took a hot bath in the morning, and invariably had a boy in the bath with him, usually Oscar.  Martyn told the police that he had come to some definite conclusions about Leadbeater:

          "I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that Mr Leadbeater has as a motive and apart from any philanthropic purpose the gratification of a perverted sex impulse.... That his relations with some boys (probably not all the boys around him) has been for his personal sex gratification.  For a long time I have thought it necessary to regard him as addicted to one particular form of male vice [sodomy]. [64]

          And Martyn added information about Leadbeater colleague and fellow Liberal Catholic Bishop, Wedgwood, describing his alleged immorality and claiming that he had stated that he

--- 675 ---

travelled in episcopal attire "to avoid conscription".

          The evidence of T.H. Martyn and his wife was the only material the police received directly suggesting that Leadbeater was sexually involved with his boys.  Certainly none of the pupils' accounts suggested anything improper, although the versions of Leadbeater's sexual attitudes suggested more than a slight degree of eccentricity.  A domestic employed by the Martyns stated that she heard Leadbeater regularly talking in disparaging terms about women, instructing the boys to have nothing to do with them.  All the boys related that Leadbeater had warned them to avoid sexual contact with women.  Oscar Kollerstrom told the police that Leadbeater "told us to keep clear of unpleasant practices".   When asked what Leadbeater meant by "unpleasant practices", he replied:  "He told us, he mentioned to us to keep clear of women, and not to have anything to do with them". [65]  Oscar denied ever having shared a bath with Leadbeater.

          Leadbeater's aversion to women had become apparent during his many lecturing tours for the TS.  When he took up residence at the Martyn's, for example, he insisted that Mr and Mrs Martyn occupy separate bedrooms during his visit, and this had happened in other homes in which he had been a guest.  He separated a number of couples by telling

--- 676 ---

them to give up sexual intercourse, and his aversion eventually reached a stage where he refused to shake hands with a woman, or stay alone in a room with one, though Mrs Besant was an exception in all these eccentricities.

          However, late in his life, Leadbeater mellowed, was prepared to treat women - even old women to whom he had an especially aversion - more as human beings, and finally took some female pupils.  He said his original refusal to do so was based on the fact that one "could always tell what reaction a boy would have to certain methods, but no-one could predict what a girl would do." [66]

          From the evidence of the police enquiry, with Leadbeater's pupils all denying any sexual irregularity, one must either assume that they were all lying (or at least that some of them were) or that all the evidence which had been accumulated by Leadbeater's enemies was a fabric of lies.  The only boy who gave a hint of something suspicious was one who had been flown from Chinchilla in Queensland at the expense of the Loyalty League to give evidence.  He said he had left the LCC because he had a feeling that "something was wrong" and "undue familiarity" occurred between Leadbeater and some of his pupils.  As far as the case against Leadbeater was concerned, it was a waste of the money spent on his traveling expenses.

--- 677 ---

          But, although the archival file of statements and depositions contains nothing of great significance, there exists a document which does.  Given to the Executive of the Sydney lodge after its members had inspected the report furnished to the Minister for Justice, the Precis of the  Leadbeater Enquiry, written by E.L. Grieg, begins with an account of the frequency with which a boy, called "A", slept with Leadbeater.  It included the following statement:

          "One boy explains that Leadbeater encouraged him first to bathe and then to lie down on his [Leadbeater's] bed in his bathing wrapper on an afternoon preceding a T.S. meeting at night.  He was to rest in order to be fresh for the meeting.  Leadbeater lay on the bed with a book in his left hand, and the boy lay on the other side.  Without any words Leadbeater with his right hand caught hold of the boy's person and proceeded to masturbate him.  This boy had not arrived at the age of puberty.  He explains that he had a feeling that it was not right and slipped off the bed.   He avoided giving any further opportunity of the same kind, though there were other rest afternoons.  No date could be fixed by the boy, but it seems  probably the incident happened during the first

--- 678 ---

few months of Leadbeater's residence in Sydney 1915-1915." [67]

          The Precis noted that the majority of witnesses amongst the boys said that they masturbated regularly, as did two old Leadbeater boys.  The Precis also noted that almost all the witnesses in favour of Leadbeater had returned to the police seeking to amend or alter their evidence.

          The Head of the Criminal Investigation Department, who had led the enquiry, finally made his submission to the Inspector General of Police:

          "I am of the opinion that there are good grounds for believing that [Leadbeater] is a sex pervert." [68]

          And the Inspector general, prior to passing the report to the Crown Solicitor, added the comment:

          "The evidence in the possession of the Police does not appear to call for any independent action against Leadbeater at present but sufficient is disclosed in the accompanying papers to justify his conduct being kept under observation." [69]

--- 679 ---

          The Crown Solicitor concluded:

          "There is not much doubt that Leadbeater has in the

past practiced, and probably still does advise Masturbation, but save as above there is no evidence available." [69]

          And he felt that there was "not enough evidence available here to obtain a conviction on any charge".

          The general opinion of the police seems to have been that, whilst there could be little doubt that there was a sexual relationship between Leadbeater and at least some of his boys, it would have been virtually impossible to prove the matter in court, given the unquestioning loyalty and devotion of the boys for their teacher, and their belief that whatever he did was motivated by spiritual or occult principles.

          Mrs Besant arrived in Sydney on April 22nd, but even her mediation could not calm the troubled waters, and eventually she led the formation of a new group of Theosophists, the Blavatsky Lodge, which took some 300 members, mainly members of the ES, from the Sydney Lodge.  Sydney Lodge, which had over 900 members and was the largest lodge in the world, eventually took it's remaining 600

--- 680 ---

members and broke with the Adyar TS to follow T.H. Martyn in the formation of the Independent Theosophical Society.  They took with them the fine headquarters of the TS in Sydney, the King's Hall in Hunter Street. [70]

          Nitya wrote to Ruspoli describing the events around Mrs Besant's arrival:

          "A.B. received a very friendly welcome when she arrived, all the papers boosted her, so of course Martyn's accusations were a tremendous bombshell and all the papers took it up.  They dragged in everything, H.P.B., C.W.L., Alcyone, the Star, the Church, the Masters, everything was dragged up, and for about a fortnight we had huge columns in the papers.  Everybody wrote, A.B. answered letters, C.W.L. in his usual way paid very little attention to it.  A.B.'s lectures were packed and her sermons in the church attracted about 1500 every time.  We got a huge advertisement without spending a penny." [71]

          The newspapers certainly had a field-day, with headlines revealing "Theosophical split.  Stormy meeting last night.  'Liberal Catholic Church'.  Strong antagonism manifested", "'Bishop' Leadbeater.  What his disciples say of him", and

--- 681 ---

"The Leadbeater Case".

          On May 17th, Mrs Besant held a meeting at which she attempted to resolve the problem, and some 700 people crowded into the King's Hall.  The meeting quickly reduced itself into the inevitable accusations and defences over the issues regarding Leadbeater, the sexual charges, and the LCC.  Senator Reid presided, carefully applying "the gag" whenever he felt things were getting out of hand.  The result of the meeting was the division of the TS in Sydney.  And, after a mission of some twenty-four days, including thirty-four meetings and public engagements, Mrs Besant departed, followed by Krishna and Nitya.

          The newspapers continued to cover the TS feud.  Letters from various people, for and against Leadbeater, filled the correspondence columns.  Gustav Kollerstrom declared Leadbeater to be "a man of stainless purity and of the highest moral nature", claiming that "Before a court at Madras some 17 years ago, a judge could find no fault with the man".  This was an unusual interpretation of Mr Justice Bakewell's condemnation of Leadbeater. [72]   "The Ferrer Confession" was brought up, and Mrs Besant's declaration, that it had been withdrawn was investigated by the Sydney press, and found to be untrue.  The history of the LCC and the morals of its bishops came in for examination, from the

--- 682 ---

unfrocking of Willoughby for "gross immorality" to the charges against Wedgwood.  Leadbeater's pupils all wrote dutiful letters of support for their teacher.

          A reporter who attended a Liberal Catholic service at St Alban's wrote a highly romanticized version of its Sunday Eucharist, complete with "Perfumed candles and costly robes", "Oriental luxury and elaborate ceremonial".  During Mrs Besant's visit it was possible to hear her preach at St Alban's, or address the Public Questions Society of the University of Sydney, although its president had resigned rather than allow one who'"supported immorality" to be the guest of his Society. [73]

          In the EST Bulletin for May, 1922, Leadbeater, as head of the ES in Australia, launched an enthusiastic attack on those who opposed the motion of support for him and Mrs Besant at the Sydney convention.  Of the fourteen rebels, he noted, seven were German or Austrian.  Given his own writings on the power being exerted through Germans by the "Lords of the Dark face" and other Black Powers in the world - a legacy, he said, of the failure of the Allies to complete defeating Germany in the War - the implications were obvious.  But Dawn, ever vigilant of supposedly secret ES papers, published the allegations and refuted them.   It noted that of the fourteen, ten had been born in either Britain or

--- 683 ---

Australia, as had their parents.  One was from Italy, one from Hungary, and only two were from Germany. [74]

          The Trustees of the Sydney Lodge evicted the ES from the Sydney TS headquarters building which they owned on the ground of the racist allegations published by Leadbeater.   The Lodge Executive also passed a resolution objecting co those references.  Thereafter, at least initially, the ES met in the Co-Masonic Temple next to St Alban's church.  Leadbeater published a number of messages alleged to have been received from the Masters in the ES journal, The Disciple, including an instruction that all ES members must support the LCC. [75]

          On May 24th, 1922, Jinarajadasa was taken to The King of the World for his Third Initiation, jointly presented by Mrs Besant and Leadbeater, both of them physically in Sydney.  The King spoke of the role of the Southern Hemisphere and Sydney, and warned of the dangers of opposition from the "Brothers of the Shadow" and the "miasmic winds of slander and vituperation" they would inspire.  Master M spoke of the need for a special Centre in the South to make use of the etheric currents which run from pole to pole, "a physical Centre south of the Line which can be employed as a power-station charged directly from Shamballa, so that forces of various kinds on lower levels

--- 684 ---

can radiate from it without interfering constantly with the equatorial current".  Dr Rocke and Dr van der Leeuw were to work at this proposed Southern Centre. [76]

          In his report of Mrs Besant's visit to Sydney, and the conflict involved, Jinarajadasa commented in The Disciple:

          "The presence of the OH in Sydney led to the gathering into a climax of the forces which had been hindering the Masters' work for some time." [77]

          The same issue published figures of those who had left the ES in Australia during the previous month:  27 were dropped for "neglect of duty", 8 resigned, and 18 had their papers recalled, a way of pushing them out.  A total of 53 ES members thus departed.  But the local EST Bulletin contained more cheerful news from Leadbeater:  the Lord would probably be coming in 1928. [78]  And, in the following issue, he assured his readers that Sydney is and will be the chief centre through which the Masters forces will be distributed. [79]

          While Sydney was both the centre of present conflict and future promise, the ripples extended out far

--- 685 ---

beyond Australia.  In July, 1922, B.P. Wadia, an eminent Indian member of the TS, for many years manager of the TPH at Adyar, and co-worker with Mrs Besant for Home Rule for India, resigned from the TS.  He also prepared a booklet giving his reasons for resigning, and attacking the current administration of the Society.  Although he did not name names, Leadbeater's influence was clearly the focus of his attack:

          "I have come to the conclusion that the T.S. has strayed away from the 'Original Programme' inspired by the 'Original Impulses' whereby the Masters brought it into existence through the help of Their Messenger, H.P. Blavatsky.  It is no more a Society of seekers of the Wisdom, but an organization where many believe in the few, and blind following has come to prevail;  where shams pass for realities, and the credulity of superstition gains encouragement;  and where the noble ideals of Theosophical Ethics are exploited and dragged into the mire of psychism and immorality." [80]

          Wadia regretted that

          "H.P.B.'s warning about 'false prophets of

--- 686 ---

Theosophy' and their 'monstrous exaggerations and idiotic schemes and shams' has gone unheeded.  A Hierarchy of 'initiates' has been set up within the T.S. and blind following and ludicrous worship of personalities has been rampant." [81]

          The next attack came from an old pupil of HPB, Alice Leighton Cleather. [82]  She had been a member of the TS for four years when Mrs Besant joined it, and they had both been members of HPB's Inner Group.  Mrs Cleather declared

          "(a) That under Mrs Besant's guidance the T.S. has long ceased to represent H.P. Blavatsky's teaching or the thought of its Founders.

          "(b) That it is now completely dominated by the deluded, impure and poisonous ideas of an acknowledged sex pervert, to whom this unhappy and misguided woman believes and openly declares herself to be bound by indissoluble and age-long ties.

          "c) That in adopting and conniving at the promulgation of the teachings of this man, and allowing him virtually to control her Society, Mrs Besant most impiously gives out that she is acting under the orders of the Trans-Himalayan Masters of

--- 687 ---

Wisdom of H.P. Blavatsky's directions." [83]

          Mrs Cleather defended HPB against what she saw as the perversion and misdirection of her original Theosophy in three books, one of which was specifically concerned with the "Great Betrayal" of true Theosophy by Mrs Besant under Leadbeater's influence. [84]

          Mrs Cleather, who had been one of HPB's pupils, was most outraged by Mrs Besant's claims that Leadbeater had also been one of HPB's pupils.  In her "Whom Will ye Serve?" challenge, Mrs Besant had declared Leadbeater to have been one of H.P.B.'s nearest and most trusted pupils whom she had led to his Master of many lives, and in whom she had awakened the powers since so splendidly used in the service of the Society that he might become a great Teacher. [85]

          Mrs Cleather called on Mrs Besant "to produce anything in writing by H.P.B. to warrant this audacious assertion."  She noted that Leadbeater was never a member of HPB's Inner Group, or even of her Lodge in London.  One might also wonder how HPB came to be the one who awakened Leadbeater's psychic powers when he himself declared it was the work of the Master DK assisted by Subba Row. [86]

--- 688 ---

          Mrs Cleather finally accused Mrs Besant of "tampering with" and "corrupting" The Secret Doctrine in the version of it known as the "Adyar Edition", published by the TPH at Adyar.  She concluded by declaring the "sinister activities of this ill-omened partnership"' [i.e. Leadbeater and Mrs Besant] to be the cause of the whole "tragic and dreadful history", only parts of which she had been able to examine.  "Leadbeaterism" was, she said, leading Mrs Besant and the TS to destruction.

          The next attack came from J.P. Prentice, an eminent Theosphist who circulated an "Open Letter to Mr J.L. Davidge of Adelaide" in which he questioned the genuineness of Leadbeater's psychic powers, asking whether they had ever contributed one new fact of relevance to the world's knowledge, or ever been put to any test.  Prentice categorized Leadbeater's "psychic progress" into four phases.  First, there was the "Invisible Helpers" stage, with boys being trained for work on the inner planes during sleep.  Where, wondered Prentice, were all those promising boy pupils now?  Then came the "Round Table" period when Leadbeater identified all his boys in Sydney as having been Knights of the Round Table in past incarnations.  With the advent of the LCC all the boys were found to have been Christian saints in their past lives.  St Francis of Assisi,

--- 689 ---

who had been King Arthur, was now living with Leadbeater in Sydney, in the company of St Anthony of Padua and St Bernard of Clairvaux.  Then came the World Teacher period, and the Lives, with the Vehicle initially proclaimed to be Hubert van Hook, and later as Krishnamurti.  And, finally, and currently, the "Ceremonial Period", with the LCC, Masonry, and other such interests.  Prentice drifted between seeing Leadbeater's work as a dangerous fraud, or dismissing it as a silly fantasy. [87]

          When Leadbeater's followers saw a little booklet from the pen of his former secretary and Amanuensis, Johan van Manen, they looked forward to another defence of Leadbeater.   If that is what it was intended to be, and the style makes it difficult to decide, it goes about the defence strangely.  It would seem that van Manen was also disillusioned with Leadbeater.  He suggested that the Martyn letter was "written in an admirable tone" and asked questions which should be, but had not been, answered.  There should be a full enquiry once and for all.  He commented that  although he had known Leadbeater "so long and so intimately" he had no evidence of immorality, but "his actions have again and again given rise to suspicion and sinister inferences."   And, concluded van Manen, "What is incomprehensible is his mutism." [88 ]

--- 690 ---

          To his close pupils, however, this silence in the face of attack represented heroic and saintly virtue, such as was required of a man of his high occult status.  It also indicated a strange attitude of superiority, as indicated by an anecdote from the period of the Sydney "troubles" when Leadbeater attended a Convention meeting:

          "People arose excitedly and pointing the finger at Bishop Leadbeater called him all manner of dreadful names... Bishop Leadbeater remained, as usual, completely unmoved.   On the way home afterwards, his hostess, who was a generous but excitable lady, could not contain herself.  'Oh sir!' she exclaimed, 'how could you sit there and let them call you such names?'  'What?' he replied, 'What names?  To tell you the truth I never heard anything they said.  I was much too interested in watching what was happening to their solar plexuses.  Such a remarkable display on the part of our Dark Brothers I do not remember having seen before." [89]

          In occult circles outside the TS, the well-known writer Dion Fortune [i.e. Violet Firth], formerly a member of the TS, was conducting a veiled campaign against Leadbeater and his colleagues.

--- 691 ---

          In her writings she attacked a mysterious group of male occultists who were using homosexual techniques to build up "a reservoir of dark astral power".  She never named them, but by quotations from The O.E. Library Critic it was clear that she meant Leadbeater, Wedgwood and their disciples.  She seemed to imply that Leadbeater was both a pederast and a psychic vampire, who combined these activities to the advancement of Black Magic. [90]

          Aleister Crowley, who had quite a friendly relationship with Dion Fortune, although the latter would never have admitted it publicly, seemed convinced by her arguments.   He believed that Leadbeater was the "hired tool" of Mrs Besant, a pederastic Black Magician who was destroying both occultism and Masonry, and the original Theosophy of HPB, for which Cowley professed great admiration. [91]

          As the year drew to a close, and Leadbeater remained placid in the face of the many and varied attacks upon him, his disciples began looking for a permanent centre for his life and work.  They discovered a house known locally as "Bakewell's Folly", although the name on the gate was "Garroch," overlooking Sydney Harbour in the fashionable suburb of Clifton Gardens, virtually an extension of Mosman.  Clifton Gardens had it origins in 1832 when an American

--- 692 ---

whaler, Captain Cliffe, purchased an estate out of government gardens at Chowder Bay, and built a home called "Cliffeton" which later led to the name "Clifton Gardens".   In the latter half of the nineteenth century the area developed into a fashionable suburb with many large homes in the best traditions of Federation architecture.

          "Bakewell's Folly" was huge and rambling, and distinctly strange.  It had been built between 1909 and 1913 by an English tile manufacturer named Bakewell, who planned it to be an eight room cottage for his family.   But Bakewell, appropriately, had dreams and visions, and would frequently arrive on the building site in the morning to trace out with a walking stick additional rooms on his cottage as seen in the dreams of the previous night.  So the house grew into a fifty-two room mansion, including thirty-two bedrooms, five bathrooms, and numerous other rooms.  The interior, as a result of the unorthodox architectural planning, was inconvenient:  tiny rooms were entered by enormous corridors, and large rooms were located at the end of narrow passageways.  All the rooms seemed either too large or too small for anything in particular.   The whole house had also been structured to accommodate as many tiles as physically possible - tiles on the roof, glazed tiles on the walls, mosaic tiles on the verandah. [92]

--- 693 ---

          Bakewell's family came out from England, saw the house, and went back to England, leaving the rambling, inconvenient house on the market.  It attracted little interest, except as a curiosity, until Mr van Gelder, one of Leadbeater's disciples, saw it, liked it, and took Leadbeater to see it.  He was also impressed, and a three year lease was acquired in August, 1922. [93]  Money for the purchase was eventually raised through gifts from three members of the ES, and a loan from the Krotona Institute of Theosophy in California. [94]  Initially two or three families moved in to what was re-named "The Manor", together with a number of Leadbeater's pupils.

          As the year drew to a close, the Sydney press found other topics for attention, and the occult life at "The Manor" began quietly and without great interest from the newspapers.  However, crowds of curious Sydney people did troop out to Mosman on Sundays in the hope of seeing the "swish Bish" and some of his boys, or something exciting and occult.  They peered through the hedge into the straggling garden, and one imagines they went away disappointed.

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Charles Webster Leadbeater 1854-1934 
A Biographical Study
by Gregory John Tillett
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