Dec 18, 2006 09:50 PM
In 1911 Annie Besant published a glowing tribute to her colleague, C.W.
Leadbeater, and this was republished a number of times. It was included in
the pamphlet produced to inaugurate “Adyar Day”, a day honouring Giordano
Bruno (1548-1600), the Italian priest and philosopher (who had been burned
to death on that day, and was claimed by Leadbeater to have been Mrs
Besant in an earlier incarnation), Colonel Olcott (1832-1907), first
President of the Theosophical Society (who died on that day in 1907), and
Leadbeater (who claimed to have been born on that day in 1847). Mrs
“In his present life he was born on February 17th , 1847 , and at
the age of sixty-four  he bears his years lightly , working with
unwearied energy, and playing tennis like a boy. Such is nature’s reward
to a body “kept in temperance, soberness and chastity,” the palpable
irrefutable answer to all the slanders, conceived by malice and born of
envy, that have been leveled against him the effort to destroy his unique
usefulness. As a child he went with his parents to South America , and
lived a life of manifold adventures . “Saved by a Ghost” tells some of
these , and the scars on his arms add graphic touches to the story .
Some time after returning to England , he entered Oxford University
, but his career there was cut short by “Black Monday”  the
historic failure of Overend, Gurney and Co., in which his fortune was
invested . He succeeded, however, despite this blow , in taking
Orders in the Church of England, and worked as a Priest until 1884.”
Some sort of record must have been accomplished by Mrs Besant in
compacting so many falsehoods (I have numbered them thus ) into one
paragraph, although to be fair to her I assume she was merely so gullible
that she repeated claims made by Leadbeater himself.
Presumably it is easier to appear to bear your years lightly if you claim
to be seven years older than you are.
The local TS bookshop continues to sell the pamphlet, Adyar Day 17th
February (TPH), Adyar, without a date but apparently from around 2000,
containing this statement which gives insights into both Leadbeater and
Besant. I think Adyar Day is still celebrated in the (Adyar) TS.
Dr Gregory Tillett
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