From ”The Theosophical Movement 1875 – 1950”, pp. 297-299:

The second incident relates to the accusations brought by Mrs. Besant against William Q. Judge. In the 1920’s, a respected member of the Adyar Society, a man who had carefully studied the claims and evidence presented by both sides in the Judge case, went to see Mrs. Besant to interview her on this subject. (1) In the course of a serious conversation, Mrs. Besant admitted that what was presented to her – namely, that Judge was innocent of the charges made against him – was on the whole accurate, and she said that some time previously she had come to the conclusion that Judge had committed no forgery, and that the messages received by him were genuine. On being reguested to say that much, only, if not more, to the Theosophical public the world over, Mrs. Besant demurred and remarked that it was an old and forgotten matter — “Why revive it?” When the inquirer, who was also a long-time friend of Mrs. Besant, sought permission to make her view public himself, she flatly refused it. This came as a shock to the inquirer, for he fully expected that, in the interests of historical veracity, Mrs. Besant would agree to say in public what she so readily admitted to him in private conversation, completely exonerating Mr. Judge from the charge of manufacturing bogus Mahatma messages.

   About all that can be said in extenuation of Mrs. Besant’s attitude in this connection is that she quite possibly really believed that Mr. Judge’s innocence was no longer a matter of importance, so far had she departed from the essential work and meaning of the Theosophical Movement.

   In justice to Mrs. Besant as a world-figure, it should be said that she labored for many years on behalf of the liberation of India, gaining through this work the respect and admiration of Indian patriots. She took an active part in the Indian National Congress and started the Home Rule League which campaigned for the position of “equal partner” for India in the British Commonwealth of Nations. Because of her political activity she was interned by the British Government early in 1917, during World War I, but was soon released. In the same year, she was elected the first woman President of the Indian National Congress. After the Amritsar Massacre of 1919, however, she opposed the civil disobedience program led by Gandhi, which caused her to lose much of her popularity with the Indian masses. She is nevertheless remembered with respect by the leaders of the Indian Independence Movement, as one who gave unstintingly of her time and energy to the cause closest to their hearts.


Col. Olcott, like Mrs. Besant, also revised his opinion of Mr. Judge, but, again like Mrs. Besant, expressed himself only in a private interview. The occasion was a conversation with Laura Holloway (one of the “chela” authors of Man: Fragments of Forgotten History) in New York City in 1906, during Olcott’s last visit to the United States, a year before he died. Mrs. Holloway (then Mrs. Langford) had known Olcott in the early days and had also been acquainted with his sister, Belle, who had since died. Olcott wrote to Mrs. Holloway from Boston, asking her to visit him when he arrived in New York to give a lecture at Carnegie Hall. She did so, and the conversation turned to the work of the Theosophical Movement. Olcott, Mrs. Holloway soon realized, was lonely, homesick, and missed very greatly his old association with H.P.B. He spoke of his “dear old colleague” and recognized the magnitude of her loss in “the trend of events in the Theosophical Society since her death.” Moreover, although Olcott was still the “President-Founder,” other and younger workers, he said, were in control of the affairs of the Society. Mrs. Holloway reminded him that there was a third Cooper-Oakley-worker who had been with him and H.P.B. at the beginning, to whom Olcott later became hostile. Olcott knew that she spoke of Judge, and, encouraged by his visitor, he took her hand and said, “in a manner subdued and most impressive”:

”We learn much and outgrow much, and I have outlived much and learned more, particularly as regards Judge.... I know now, and it will comfort you to hear it, that I wronged Judge, not wilfully or in malice; nevertheless, I have done this and I regret it.”

When Mrs. Holloway expressed happiness at this admission, Olcott replied: “To no one else have I ever said as much, and since you are so pleased, I am glad that I could say it to you.”

   The report of this interview was published by Harold W. Percival in The Word for October, 1915, as part of a series of reminiscences concerning the major figures of the Theosophical Movement. (2) In a Supplementary Letter to the editor, Mrs. Holloway explained that she “did not seek a confession from Col. Olcott,” nor want “any confidences from him not voluntarily extended.” Her own deep friendship with Judge, she thought, which was known to Olcott, had led him to reveal his heart’s feelings at the end of his life. Her account of Olcott’s mien during this conversation is of interest:

”…after this long lapse of time, and with a sense of justice due to the memory of both himself and Mr Judge, I feel I am doing right in consenting och its publication. I cannot reproduce his earnest, contrite manner, nor can I impart to you the atmosphere of peace and harmony that characterized the occasion…. When I reminded him, as I did, of how long and how unalterably she [H.P.B.] had loved Mr Judge, he sat like one listening to an unseen speaker. But these things cannot be portrayed in this telling of the few words he spoke in vindication of Mr Judge.”


1) Mr B. P. Wadia, of Bombay, India, for years an active member and speaker of the Adyar Society, has supplied the editors of this volume with a signed statement giving this account of his interview with Mrs. Besant.

2) H. W. Percival was associated with Dr. J. H. Salisbury and Mr. Donald Nicholson, both early friends of Judge, in the formation in 1899 of The Theosophical Society of New York. The Word, edited by Percival, was the organ of this Society, which lapsed into dormancy when The Word ceased publication.

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