Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

["Tempest in a Teapot"]

[Reprinted from The Bombay Gazette, September 13, 1880, p. 3.]

[For background on the subject matter of this anonymous
article, see Henry S. Olcott's, Old Diary Leaves, Volume II,
Chapter XIII, "A Little Domestic Explosion," pp. 206-213. 
See also
Edward Wimbridge's reply to this article. --- BA Editor.]

The paragraph which recently appeared in several papers regarding the split in the ranks of the Theosophists has drawn forth a circular letter from Col. Olcott, President of the Society, addressed "to Theosophists and Arya Samajists," in which we are informed that the disagreement in question is a very small affair and can "no more impede the progress of the Theosophical Society than the fly does the wheel of the engine on which it alights", because in the "crusade for universal brotherhood and Aryan revival, individuals count as nothing; the idea we represent is everything." The "tempest in a teapot," Col. Olcott aptly terms it, has arisen from the resignation, voluntary on the gentleman’s part but enforced in the case of the lady, of Mr. [Edward] Wimbridge and Miss [Rosa] Bates, who accompanied Col. Olcott and Madame Blavatsky when they first came to this country from America in "the Cause of Universal Brotherhood and the revival of Aryan religion and science." These colleagues, however, we are now told, were not "equally founders of the Society and equally occupied in carrying on its work" with Col. Olcott and Madame Blavatsky, but the entire management, both of the Society and its journal, the Theosophist, devolved upon the two last named. Neither Mr. Wimbridge nor Miss Bates appear to have been ever very earnest disciples. Col. Olcott and Madame Blavatsky complain that they "could never fully sympathise with us in our views & plans." Mr. Wimbridge does not appear to have taken open objection to any of the rules and tenets of the order, but he never offered to assist in the work, even in the duties of receiving visitors. As for Miss Bates, she was evidently a thorn in the sides of both Colonel Olcott and Madame Blavatsky from the first, and the friction amongst them culminated in a very pretty quarrel. The circular states: --- "Between Miss Bates and ourselves there has always been disagreement upon questions of grave importance, as well as of minor, as for instance, the eating of beef, use of beer, wine, etc., which we would never allow in our house. An unfortunate quarrel between Miss Bates and a lady theosophist [Emma Coulomb] , which broke out and culminated while we were absent in Ceylon, brought on the crisis. Upon our return the matter was officially investigated, and we were asked by our two colleagues (Mr. Wimbridge and Miss Bates) to do what we considered an act of injustice, to wit --- to expel the other lady and her husband [Alexis Coulomb] from the Society and turn them out of the house in which they were stopping as guests. But, believing that blame was with both of the disputants, we refused. The bad feeling increased, and, not withstanding all our efforts we could not bring about a reconciliation. Bitter words ensued until, at last, in a very grave matter Miss Bates demanded the expulsion of her antagonist for the alleged breaking of a rule of the Society which she had herself flagrantly violated; and being charged with the same gave the lie to both Madame Blavatsky and myself, who were witnesses to the fact. So gross an offence against truth and the dignity of the founders of the Society could not be passed over." Col. Olcott considers that the affair ought never to have been made known to the profane public, but "certain unfriendly editors" having adverted to the matter, and "some good men, our respected Swamijee Dayanand Saraswati among others," being of opinion that the honour of the Society was in danger of being compromised, he and Madame Blavatsky join in the explanation we have above referred to, which is signed "Henry S. Olcott, President of the Theosophical Society," and countersigned and registered, H. P. Blavatsky, Corresponding Secretary.

[See Edward Wimbridge's reply to this article.]