THEOSOPHY, Vol. 10, No. 1, November, 1921
(Pages 10-24; Size: 47K)
(Number 23 of a 34-part series)



THE Sixth Annual Convention of the American Section was held at Chicago on April 24 and 25, 1892. It was attended by Delegates or proxies from all of the 60 active Lodges in the United States, as well as by many Fellows individually. The great growth of the Movement and of the Society is indicated by the comparative figures of former years. In 1886, eleven years after the formation of the Society, and the year in which the "Path" was founded, the entire number of Branches was 8; in 1887 there were 12; in 1888, 19; in 1889, 26; in 1890, 45; in 1891, 57, and by the end of 1892 the total had risen to 69. This enormous relative and actual increase can be ascribed to no adventitious circumstances, to no lavish outlay of money and the proselyting spirit, nor to the presence and work of persons of international reputation and prestige. It was wholly due to impersonal and consistent presentation of the fundamental ideas and principles of Theosophy, to an undeviating active adherence to the spirit which animated H. P. Blavatsky. Attention to the Second and Third Objects was at all times strictly subordinated to the great First Object.

Although lacking the presence of both H.P.B. and Col. Olcott; although a large portion of its dues and contributions was regularly remitted to India for the support of Col. Olcott's work there as well as of the Headquarters proper (for the Indian Section was never at any time self-sustaining in any sense); and although the American Section had been the very centre of the most violent eruptions within the Society, the work had so prospered within a period of five years that at the time of the Sixth Sectional Convention the active membership, both in the Society and in the Esoteric Section, was, in the United States, greater than in all the rest of the world. Mr. Judge, holding like H.P.B., a merely nominal official position in the Society, but, like her, indefatigable in the propagation of ideas and their practical application, wedded to a Cause and not an administration and an organization, was the living, human focus from which radiated the energy of which that Cause and its Messenger were the inspiration. It is to the policy pursued, and to the instruments of that policy, the "Path" and the Esoteric Section, both under the direction of Mr. Judge, that must be attributed the remarkable spread of the Society in America and its still more remarkable influence on the thought of the day.

At this Sixth Convention letters of greeting were read from the European Section through its General Secretary, Mr. G. R. S. Mead, Mrs. Besant's assistant in the editorial conduct of "Lucifer"; from the Blavatsky Lodge of London, of which Mrs. Besant was President; from the Indian Section, through its General Secretary, Mr. Bertram Keightley, and from others. All these communications, official and private, breathed the warmest spirit of fraternal feeling and of devotion to the Cause of Theosophy; all were optimistic over the future and congratulatory over the past.

Two letters were read from Colonel Olcott, the first through pandit S. E. Gopalacharlu, Recording Secretary of the T.S. at Headquarters. It contained the following reference to Col. Olcott's retirement:

"The President Founder requests you to enter the text of his resignation and explanatory letter in the Official Report of your Convention, and to kindly say to his American brothers that the withdrawal from office is merely the relinquishment of an official position which, for reasons public and private, he felt he had no longer the moral right to retain. His love of the Society is so profound as to have taken possession of his whole being, and nothing but the sense of paramount loyalty to its highest interest would have impelled him to retire."

This letter was dated 16th March, 1892. The other letter to which reference is made is Col. Olcott's Circular to all the Fellows of the Society, and is dated January 27, 1892. It reiterates the publicly ascribed reason of ill-health as the occasion of his retirement and states that his remarks are "intended to remove from your minds all misconceptions," as to the cause of his resignation. He continues:

"It may seem strange that I should announce this decision so soon after the Convention [at Adyar]; but I feel that this is the most suitable time, as the Conventions of the American and European Sections will be held in three or four months' time, so that any measures which my retirement renders necessary may be fully discussed at their Sessions.

"Taking a survey of the position of the Society, my visits to Europe and America have proved to me, as stated in my Annual Address that the work of the movement in both continents is in a highly satisfactory condition. My observations also on my return to India have satisfied me that the newly-formed Indian Section is in safe hands and on a sound basis. In Europe, Mrs. Annie Besant has, almost at a single rush, come to the forefront of our movement. By her known integrity of character, her blameless life, her unselfish enthusiasm, and her exceptional abilities, she has outstripped all her colleagues and stirred the minds of English-speaking peoples to their depths. I know her personally, and know that in India she will be as kind, as sisterly towards the Asiatics as even H.P.B. or I have been, and will be loved and trusted equally well when they have had time to know and appreciate her. In America, under Mr. Judge's firm and able management, the Society has spread over the length and breadth of the land, and the organization there is growing more powerful and stable every day.

"Thus the three Sections of the Society are in thoroughly good hands, and my personal direction is no longer indispensable....

"I have no intention of leaving India nor any desire to live elsewhere. This is my home, and I wish to die among my own heart-brothers, the Asiatics. I shall always be ready to give all needed help to my successor, and to place at the disposal of his Staff my best counsel, based upon an experience of some forty years of public life and seventeen years as President-Founder of the Society....

"In bidding you an official farewell, I have but to express my gratitude for a thousand evidences of your loving trust, and to pray you to judge compassionately of my shortcomings."

The Report of Mr. Judge to the Convention, as General-Secretary of the American Section, is filled with matter of enduring importance historically and of timeless value to the student of the principles and modulus of action of true Occultism. He begins with a retrospect of the important events and the important lessons of the past year, enforcing them by quotations from the first Letter of H.P.B. to the American Convention of 1888. In his view the two most important events of the past year were the death of H.P.B. and the work undertaken by Mrs. Besant, both of which events he treats from the standpoint of the Second Section:
"Duty kept her (H.P.B.) in London until she had finished the Secret Doctrine, the book that led Annie Besant into the Society from the negations of materialism, and then all-grasping death claimed the body of H. P. Blavatsky. From my intimate acquaintance with H.P.B. for these many years and from her constant letters, I know that she remained in England and this world much longer than her desires would keep her, in order that a telling blow could be struck at the great monster of disbelief. And that blow was delivered in the country which still greatly influences the thought of America, by the conversion of a life-long champion of those who believe in no religion to theosophy, the most spiritual of all sciences and religions. I do not say this as praise for Annie Besant, nor merely as rejoicing that we acquired another noble heart and eloquent advocate, but to point out that many thousands of minds must have been shaken from their confident assertions of disbelief when they saw that their old-time champion went over to theosophy; and at the same time members of the dogmatic sects perceived by the same event that, even if one gives up the negations of materialism, it does not follow that he must fall back again into the arms of any church or sect. Hence, then, by the acquisition without effort, but naturally, of one who was so long and so publicly known to all English-speaking peoples as the champion of negation in belief and altruism in endeavor, a telling, wide-vibrating blow was given to disbelief. And then H.P.B. -- friend and fellow student -- left us, on what other high mission bent we know not."
It is interesting to compare the foregoing viewpoint and expression with the attitude and remarks of Col. Olcott on the same subjects as expressed in his Presidential Address in December, 1891, and in his letter of January 27, 1892, from which we have quoted. Mr. Judge continues:
"The news of our loss in May, so soon after our successful Convention, created comment throughout the world; many members of the Society would have easily joined in a sudden retreat from the field; and newspapers, together with croaking enemies of the Society, prophesied its fall, supposing that our movement was built on a personal worship of one woman. But scarce a moment elapsed ere a new resolve sprang up in the hearts of all, and actual correspondence has proved that through the world our members determined to be true to the cause and the objects outlined in that letter of 1888 I quoted to you. The structure of sixteen years' growth did not tremble in the least.

"Considering that the circumstances demanded it, and after advising with near friends, I sailed on May 13th, 1891, for London to consult our fellows there to the end that a general unity of policy and action might be decided on. The event proved the propriety of the journey. As Vice-President of the entire Society, I had the great pleasure of presiding over the preliminary meetings in London to draft the necessary Constitution; and afterwards took part in July in their Convention, the president of which was Col. Olcott and where was adopted a form of constitution the same as that commended by our beloved H.P.B. in the extracts I have read you from her letters. That was the first theosophical convention of the European Branches, and must be regarded as the beginning of a new cycle for that Section as ours of 1888 was for us. It was most interesting and important in every respect."

He speaks of the disposition of H.P.B.'s ashes, one portion of which was sent to India and the other divided between the London and American headquarters. He tells of the acquisition by the Aryan Society of New York of a building designed for the permanent headquarters of the American Section. He then takes up the resignation of Colonel Olcott, submits the official letters exchanged, advises as to the course of action necessary in the premises to provide for the succession to the Presidency of the whole Society, recommends the adoption of a recommendation from the American Section that Col. Olcott be offered a life-residency at Adyar, and suggests that a subscription be opened to provide for the Colonel's pecuniary needs, "as a testimonial, however inadequate, of the gratitude of this Section for his long and devoted services." During the Convention the following resolutions were introduced and unanimously adopted:
Whereas, Col. Henry S. Olcott, President-Founder of the Theosophical Society, has tendered his resignation of the office of President to take effect May 1st proximo, and has requested that a successor be elected to the office of President of the Theosophical Society, and,

Whereas, The General Secretary and Vice-President has taken the votes of all the Branches of this Section on the question of who shall be successor to the said office of President of the Theosophical Society, the said votes being unanimously in favor of William Q. Judge, and they being now duly reported to and before this Convention;

Resolved, That the American Section in Convention assembled hereby tenders to Col. H. S. Olcott the expression of its profound gratitude and sincere appreciation for his unselfish devotion and long and faithful services for the Society which he helped to found and which is so largely indebted to him for its beneficent work and the recognition it has won in every quarter of the globe.

Resolved, That in our estimation the position of Col. Olcott as "President-Founder" of the Society is, and must forever remain, unique. Another may succeed him in the office of President and assume the duties of the office, but can never be "President-Founder."

Resolved, That this Convention confirms and ratifies the votes of said Branches, and as such Convention declares its choice for President to succeed Col. H. S. Olcott to be said William Q. Judge. But it is further

Resolved, That the American Section in Convention hereby requests Col. Olcott to revoke his said resignation and remain President of the Society, deeming that it is not yet time for him to retire from said office, and it being possible for him to remain in said official position although his health may demand that the amount of his work be reduced to a minimum so far as traveling and speaking are concerned; and the General Secretary and Vice-President is hereby directed to at once notify Col. Olcott by telegraph and letter of this request, forwarding copies thereof, to the end that all further proceedings relative to said retirement be suspended until such time as the sense of the European and Indian Sections on this point be obtained: that in the meantime it is the opinion and desire of this Section that the said resignation be not yet accepted but laid over for further consideration; and that, when the sense of the said European and Indian Sections shall have been obtained, the General Secretary and Executive Committee of this Section shall call a special meeting of the Council of the Section to consider the question upon the report to be made thereupon by the General Secretary and Vice-President, and

Resolved, That this Section now declares its vote to be that when said office of President shall become vacant the successor to said Col. Olcott shall be said William Q. Judge, who shall hold said office for life unless removed for cause, and that he have power to nominate his successor as now provided in the General Constitution in respect to Col. Olcott; and that the General Constitution be amended so as to provide in accordance with the foregoing, and that when the office of Vice-President shall become vacant, the choice of this Section for said office of Vice-President is Brother Bertram Keightley.

Resolved, That this Section requests that Col. Olcott, when he shall have retired, if ever, be offered a life residence at Adyar Headquarters.

Resolved, That the European and Indian Sections of the Society be and they are hereby requested to co-operate with this Section in endeavoring to carry out the letter and the spirit of these resolutions, and that the General Secretary of this Section immediately forward to said Sections an official copy of the same.

Resolved, Therefore, that this Section hereby re-elects to the office of General Secretary of this Section its present Secretary, William Q. Judge.

In accordance with the Convention's instruction to telegraph Col. Olcott of the American Section's request for the withdrawal of his resignation, Mr. Judge cabled the substance of the resolution adopted and, at the final session of the Convention read the assembled Delegates Col. Olcott's telegraphic reply:
"Am willing to do anything that is just and fair; I must stop here (Adyar) until I hear definitely from you (by mail)."
During the Convention Mr. Judge introduced the following resolution, which also was unanimously adopted, as an offset to the charges of dogmatism in the T.S. and the "worship" of H.P.B.:
Whereas, It is frequently asserted by those ignorant of the facts of the case and of the literature of the Society that the T.S. or its leaders seek to enforce certain beliefs or interpretations upon its members, or to establish a credal interpretation of any of its philosophical propositions; therefore

Resolved, That the T.S. as such, has no creed, no formulated beliefs that could or should be enforced on any one inside or outside its ranks; that no doctrine can be declared as orthodox, and that no Theosophical Popery can exist without annulling the very basis of ethics and the foundations of truth upon which the whole Theosophical teachings rest; and in support of this resolution appeal is made to the entire literature of the Society, and the oft-repeated statements published widespread by H.P.B., Col. Olcott, Mr. Judge, and every other prominent writer and speaker upon the subject since the foundation of the Theosophical Society.

The full proceedings of the Convention were published in the official report. Copies of the various resolutions in relation to Col. Olcott's tendered resignation were sent to the General Secretaries of the European and Indian Sections, their substance printed in the "Path" and "Lucifer," and a large publicity secured in the secular press. Mr. Judge wrote Col. Olcott both officially and privately, and in the latter capacity sent him a Message received from one of the Masters. It is this message and a communication received direct by himself that Col. Olcott refers to in his final Official Letter on the subject of his resignation. Meantime, under date of April 27, immediately after receipt of Mr. Judge's cabled news of the action of the American Convention, Col. Olcott issued "Executive Orders" in relation to the difficulties in the way of his immediate withdrawal, and paves the way for the withdrawal of his resignation in these words:
"Notice is therefore given that, without again vainly trying to fix an actual date for my vacating office, I shall do my utmost to hasten the completion of all legal business, so that I may hand over everything to Mr. Judge, my old friend, colleague and chosen successor."
The latter part of this statement refers to the provision of the General Constitution adopted by the Indian Council and confirmed by the "Adyar Parliament" some years before, empowering Col. Olcott to nominate his successor in office; and, while the American Section had expressed its choice of Mr. Judge as that successor, the European and Indian Sections had not yet had the opportunity to express their wishes, whether on the question of accepting Col. Olcott's resignation or the choice of his successor.

This "Executive Notice" was followed on May 25th by another "rescript" from Col. Olcott, reading:


I have just received a digest of the Resolutions passed by the American Convention relative to my retirement and Mr. Judge's re-election as General Secretary of the Section. As my resignation was not thoughtlessly offered nor without sufficient reasons, I shall not cancel it -- save as I have been forced to do temporarily in the financial interest of the Society -- until a long enough time has been given me to see what effect the invigorating air of these lovely mountains [Col. Olcott's Notice was issued from Ootacamund in the Nilgherry Hills, India] will have upon my health, and I become satisfied that a return to executive work is essential to the welfare of our movement. Besides the meeting of the European Convention in July I am expecting other important events to happen and I shall give no answer until then. Meanwhile, however, my heart is touched by the universal tokens of personal regard and official approval which have reached me from all parts of the world.

This Note was published in "Lucifer" for July 15, 1892, just prior to the meeting of the European Convention. It was not perceived by the English and Continental theosophists to be an intimation from Col. Olcott that he was, in fact, waiting to receive from them a request and re-affirmation similar to the action taken by the American Convention under the influence of Mr. Judge's strong stand for the retention of the old "war-horse" of the Society. Without knowing the occasion for Mrs. Besant's silence, it had become a matter of tacit recognition amongst some of the more influential members in England that a distinct relation existed between her leading editorials in "Lucifer" and the as yet generally unnoted fermentation within the Society. Thus, her fervid and striking article in the issue for November 15, 1891, entitled "Mysticism, True and False," while ostensibly a blow at the phallicism in the teachings of Thomas Lake Harris, when read in connection with the charges proffered by her to Mr. Judge against Col. Olcott for his "grave immorality," shows how tremendously her mind, abused by one-sided testimony, could be swayed to action without regard to consequences. "Lucifer" for December, 1891, considers the question, "Ought Theosophists to be Propagandists," and disposes of the objections of those members who were insisting that because of the "neutrality" of the Society, no one had a right to present Theosophy within the meetings of the Society. This article was in strict accord with the article in the "Path" by Mr. Judge from which we have quoted, and with the article by Jasper Niemand containing the quotation from the Master's letter to which Col. Olcott had taken exceptions in a letter to Mr. Judge, whose reply we shall refer to later on. "Lucifer" for January, 1892, opened with the article, "The Time is Short," and called out for vigorous study and work by all Theosophists on the lines laid down by H.P.B. during the cycle closing in 1898. In the number for February 15, 1892, Mrs. Besant published a powerful editorial on "Theosophy and the Theosophical Society," in which she defended the position of neutrality affirmed by the Society's platform, declared it was not being violated, and that fears in that regard arose from confusing Theosophy with the T.S. In the issue of March 15, 1892, the department of "On the Watch-Tower" was substituted for the practice of leading editorials. "On the Watch-Tower" is devoted primarily to the official letter from Col. Olcott to Mr. Judge on the tendered resignation, to Col. Olcott's lengthy Letter to the Fellows of the Society announcing his forthcoming retirement, and to Mrs. Besant's comments, as follows:
"Readers of Lucifer, and Theosophists all the world over, will join in sending cordial good wishes in his retirement to the man who was chosen by the MASTERS as the first President of Their Society, and who for nearly sixteen and a half years has borne the brunt of battle and has loyally served the movement. They will rejoice to know that his counsel will be at the service of the younger men on whose shoulders will now fall the burden of the highest offices in the Society; and that his pen will trace for the movement records of deepest interest that none other can supply. In India, most especially, will his loss be felt, but the wise prevision of H.P.B. sent thither her friend and pupil, Bertram Keightley, who appears to have much endeared himself to the Hindus, and who is singularly well fitted to take the lead in the Indian Section. May he be supported by a band of earnest and zealous workers, who will remember what Aryavarta was, and seek to arouse her people and inspire them with the hope of what Aryavarta may once again become."
The closing comment in the "Watch-Tower" of the March issue gives attention to the remarks in Col. Olcott's Presidential Address at the Adyar Convention on the "worship" of H.P.B. After noting the Presidential fears Mrs. Besant remarks:
"Idolatry is a weakness, to whomsoever offered, and H.P.B. was always swift to check any tendency in that direction. We could do her memory no worse dis-service than to veil it in idolatrous fumes. On the other hand, hearty and loving recognition of a great soul, uncarping readiness to admire and to reverence a life of whole-hearted devotion to a noble ideal, tend to 'purify the emotions' and to rouse ourselves to imitation, and these we need not be ashamed or afraid to give to Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. There are some -- and I gladly and thankfully place myself among them -- who owe to her more than life, to whom she showed the Light and opened the gateway of the Path. No gratitude can be too deep to give in return for this priceless gift, and if this gratitude takes the form of serving the Society she founded, and of spreading the truths for which she sacrificed her life, I do not think that even she, much as she shrank from personal homage, would have refused it. None the less, let us all remember that it is our duty to the Society -- our duty as well as that of the President -- to guard its freedom from any and all fetters, so that we may not let our love for the Founder lead us into narrowing the Society whose basis she made so broad."
The "Watch-Tower" for May, 1892, refers to the action taken by the American Convention, as reported to her by Mr. Mead who had attended the Convention as a Delegate from the English Theosophists. The substance of the various resolutions adopted is given and Mrs. Besant comments:
"... these resolutions, of course, do not bind the Society and no definite arrangement can be come to until the European Section has added its voice to those of the other Sections. With a Society extending all over the world, it takes a long time to reach a decision, but it is pleasant to see the good feeling which is manifested on all sides, and the strong wish to recognize good service in the past as giving claim to the utmost consideration. It is clear that Bro. Judge will be the next President, whether now or at some future date, but whether he will take office at once or not will remain doubtful for some months. Meanwhile, as no practical difficulty is caused by the delay, we can all possess our souls in patience, and rejoice at the brotherly feeling shown in the American Section, alike in the wish to delay parting with the President-Founder as long as possible, and in the unanimous choice of a successor.

"The Convention appears to have been well attended, and its proceedings were marked by a great earnestness and unanimity. Its first action was to pass a resolution of gratitude 'to our departed leader, H. B. Blavatsky ...' After this glance backwards, the Convention turned its face forwards, and right truly declared: 'This debt to her can only be discharged by continued loyalty on our part to the cause she held so dear, and therefore for the spreading of the work and strengthening of the foundations of the Society, we pledge this Section by head, and hand, and heart.' That is the true spirit: gratitude warmly rendered, and then its proof in earnest labour for the Theosophical Cause."

Meantime, so strongly did Mrs. Besant feel upon the subject then under consideration in the Society that she issued at her own expense and as a private individual member of the Society, a circular letter addressed to Theosophists in England urging them to support Mr. Judge as the choice of the European Branches for President. Mrs. Besant's leadership and voice, then as subsequently, was the most powerful factor in the Society outside of America, and her commitment made the action of the forthcoming European Convention a foregone conclusion. That she herself recognized and realized the immense influence of her alignment on any subject and in any direction, is shown in her note in the "Watch-Tower" for June 15, 1892:
"Before our next issue is in our reader's hands, WILLIAM Q. JUDGE, one of H. P. BLAVATSKY'S oldest and most trusted friends, will be among us on English soil once more. As has already been shown by the votes of the members of the Theosophical Society, he is to be the Society's next President, and if the past may count for anything in judging of the future, no hands could be found to which to confide its destinies more loyal, more strong, and more true. Lucifer, in bidding him welcome, does but voice the welcome given by all true hearts in the Society, and I trust he will have time to visit the English Lodges, which will have kept pleasant memories of his visits last year. He will reach England, according to present plans, the first week in July, so as to be present at the Second Annual Convention of the European Section."
The Convention of the European Section met at London on July 14, 1892. Mr. Judge, who was present, was, on Mrs. Besant's motion, unanimously elected Chairman. Mrs. Besant's report of the Convention in the August "Lucifer," recites that "the Chairman delivered an earnest opening address, recalling the memory of H.P.B., and speaking of the work done by Col. Olcott, the President-Founder, 'work that no one else had done' and to be ever held in grateful remembrance in the Society. He also read a telegram from Col. Olcott, wishing success to the Convention, and a letter of greeting from the American Section ..."

In this letter of greeting, which was signed by Mr. Judge as General Secretary, for the Executive Committee of the American Section, he speaks on the subject of Col. Olcott's resignation as follows:

"At our Convention in April last we asked you to unite with us in a request to Colonel Olcott to revoke his resignation. This we did in candour and friendship, leaving it to you to decide your course. We recollected what was so often and so truly said by H. P. Blavatsky, that this organization, unique in this century, partook of the life of its parents. One of them was Col. Olcott. It would be disloyal to our ideals to hurry in accepting his resignation, even though we knew that we might get on without his presence at the head. And if he should hold to his determination our loving request would fill his remaining years with pleasing remembrances of his brothers without a trace of bitterness...

"... The future is in our hands and it ever grows out of and is built upon the present; shall not that be full of the energy in endeavour, which H.P.B. so long exemplified in Europe and India, and Col. Olcott in the Orient?

"Our best wishes, our fraternal sympathies are with you in your deliberations."

"The Convention began its regular business" -- so runs the account in "Lucifer" -- "by receiving the votes of the Section as to the election of President, the General Secretary [G. R. S. Mead] moving:

"'Whereas, the President-Founder T.S., Colonel H. S. Olcott, owing to ill-health, has placed his resignation in the hands of the Vice-President, William Q. Judge, and

"'Whereas, the votes of the European Section T.S., having been duly taken by the General Secretary, and the result declared that the choice of the European Section of a President to succeed Col. Olcott is William Q. Judge;

"'Resolved: that this Convention unanimously and enthusiastically confirms this vote, and chooses William Q. Judge as the succeeding President of the T.S.'

"Brother José Xifré [Delegate from Spain] seconded the resolution," continues "Lucifer, "and it was endorsed by a delegate from each country and carried with much applause. And so was taken an important step in the history of the T.S., and there remains only the Indian Section to speak its choice in unison, we may hope, with the American and the European, so that the first choice of a President may be unanimous."

"Lucifer" continues its account of the proceedings:

"Annie Besant then moved the following resolutions, paying a warm tribute to the services rendered by the President-Founder, ...:

"'Resolved: that this Convention hereby puts on record its regret that ill-health should have necessitated the resignation of the President-Founder from office, and tenders to Colonel H. S. Olcott the expression of its lasting gratitude for the pioneer work he has so bravely and zealously performed; that this Convention also tenders the President-Founder the expression of its highest appreciation of the unselfishness, assiduity and openmindedness which have marked the long years of his office; it also fully recognizes the large share he has taken in building up the Society, rejoices to learn the Society will still have the benefit of his counsel in the future, and sincerely hopes that his restoration to health may be speedy and permanent.'"

A second resolution offered by Mrs. Besant provided for the opening of a fund as a testimonial to Col. Olcott. The Convention ordered a telegram of greeting to be sent to Col. Olcott. Another resolution was proposed and carried unanimously, as follows:
"Whereas, this Convention has taken into due consideration the resolutions of our American brethren at their last Convention touching the resignation of the President-Founder; and

"Whereas, we have heard the answer of the President-Founder himself to these resolutions.

"Resolved: that while agreeing most cordially with the fraternal spirit of good-will that has animated the resolutions of our Brethren, and desiring always to co-operate with them in this liberal and commendable spirit, we consider that the answer of the President-Founder renders any further action impossible."

Another resolution unanimously passed declared the neutrality of the T.S. in matters of religious and philosophical opinion, and re-affirmed the freedom of the Society from any creed, dogma or formulated belief other than its three proclaimed Objects. "Lucifer" concludes its account of the Convention:
"The hands of the clock were creeping onwards to the adjournment hour, so Herbert Burrows rose to move an expression of confidence and trust in the future President of the T.S., and in a most eloquent and effective address voiced the feeling of love and trust which animated the members of the European Section towards their newly elected chief. Annie Besant seconded, and loud and prolonged cheers spoke the mind of the listeners when she put the vote ...

"... And so came to an end the Second Annual Convention of the Theosophical Society in Europe, a Convention filled with promise for the future, and animated with devotion to MASTERS' CAUSE, the Cause of Humanity."

The action taken by the European Section with reference to his tendered resignation filled Col. Olcott with disappointment and placed him in a most cruel dilemma. Encouraged by the action of the American Convention in its resolutions, restored to confidence in a way out of the predicament in which he had placed himself, braced by private letters of Mr. Judge and the Message transmitted to him as from the Masters, Col. Olcott, to whom his position and title were as the breath of life and to whose fulfillment he had given that life, evidently had expected no other outcome to the European Convention than the passage by it of resolutions of the same tenor as the American Convention's, urging him to withdraw his proffered resignation. He did not disclose until long afterward what bitterness entered his heart, what monstrously unfounded suspicions it engendered, to what lengths of disloyalty and ingratitude it led him, to what momentous consequences to the Society and the Movement it opened the door. Meantime, that he locked these inner demons in the depths of his own heart and took stock of his paramount longing is apparent from the following, the text of which we take from the Supplement to the "Theosophist" for September, 1892:


President's Office.
21st August, 1892.


In January last, confined to my room by sickness, lame in both feet, unable to move about, save on crutches, and yearning for rest after many years of incessant work, I carried out a purpose long entertained and sent the Vice-President my resignation of the Presidentship. I should have exercised my constitutional right and named him as my successor if I had not been told that the American and European Sections would not consent to having the office filled during my life time, this being, they thought, the truest compliment that could be paid me. Immediately I began building the cottage at Ootacamund on land bought in 1888, as a retreat for H.P.B. and myself in our old age.

On the 11th February, however, the familiar voice of my Guru chided me for attempting to retire before my time, asserted the unbroken relation between Himself, H.P.B. and myself, and bade me to receive further and more specific orders by messenger, but without naming the time or place.

The Indian Section had, as early as February last, unanimously agreed to recommend that, if I were really compelled to retire, the Presidential office should not be filled during my lifetime, but my duties performed by the Vice-President, acting as P.T.S. Nearly all the Indian Branches and most influential members, as well as the Branches and chief members in Australasia and Ceylon, and many in Europe and America wrote to express their hope that I might yet see my way to retaining an office in which I had given satisfaction.

Under date of April 20th, Mr. Judge cabled from New York that he was not then able to relinquish the Secretaryship of the American Section and wrote me, enclosing a transcript of a message he had also received for me from a Master that "it is not time, nor right, nor just, nor wise, nor the real wish of the *** that you should go out, either corporeally or officially."

The Chicago Convention of the American Section, held in the same month, unanimously adopted Resolutions declaring their choice of Mr. Judge as my constitutional successor, but asking me not to retire.

The London Convention of the European Section, held in July, also unanimously declared its choice of Mr. Judge as my successor and adopted complimentary Resolutions about myself, but abstained from passing upon the question of my remaining in office, under the misapprehension -- how caused I know not -- that I had definitively and finally refused to revoke my January letter of resignation. The fact being that the terms of my May note upon the subject ... left the question open and dependent upon the contingencies of my health and the proof that my return to office would be for the best interest of the Society.

A long rest in the mountains has restored my health and renewed my mental and physical vigor, and therefore, since further suspense would injure the Society, I hereby give notice that I revoke my letter of resignation and resume active duties and responsibilities of office: and I declare William Q. Judge, Vice-President, my constitutional successor, and eligible for duty as such upon his relinquishment of any other office in the Society which he may hold at the time of my death.

The "Path" for October, 1892, contains the following under the title "Col. Olcott's Revocation" -- omitting date-line:
"To the Members and Branches of T.S. in U.S.:

"On the 30th of August, 1892, I received the following telegram from Col. H. S. Olcott:

"'To Judge, New York: Col. H. S. Olcott remains president' [of the Theosophical Society].

"Notice of this revocation of his resignation of the office of President was immediately given by me through the newspaper press of the country. His official letter arrived September 24th and is given hereunder with the accompanying circular. They are now printed for general information, and will go to the Secretaries of Branches as soon as possible.

"The election of successor to the presidency having been held in all the Sections, and the choice having been unanimous, there will be no new election for the office, but the General Council, consisting of the President and General Secretaries, will make the needed Constitutional alterations. The well-working machinery of the Sections will go on with no change of officials, and the President-Founder will remain at the head of the organization till the very last, thus fulfilling the promise given in his resignation of never ceasing to devote himself to the Cause of the Society which he has so long worked for in season and out of season, in every land and in many climates. 

WILLIAM Q. JUDGE, Gen. Sec'y Am. Sec."
This was followed by the text of Col. Olcott's official notification and the text of the "Executive Circular" which we have given.

"Lucifer" for the same month -- October, 1892 -- also published the text of the "Executive Notice" of Col. Olcott's revocation of his resignation, and in the "Watch-Tower" Mrs. Besant comments:

"It will be with much pleasure that readers of LUCIFER will peruse the letter printed .... under the heading "Executive Orders." They will welcome back the President-Founder to his post, and rejoice over his restored health, looking to him still for faithful service in the Society to which his life has been given. The vote of all the Sections of the Society has designated his successor, so that we have before us no further trouble as to the leadership of the movement, and all will hope that many years of work may lie before Colonel Olcott, ere the time shall come for his successor to occupy his place. India will especially rejoice that one endeared to her so long is able to retain his office, and Europe and America will add to hers their welcome and congratulation."
Pickwickian as must the whole episode of Col. Olcott's resignation and withdrawal appear to the investigator accustomed to the play of the forces of vanity, pride and ambition as merely exhibitions of "human nature" influencing alike the small and the great, to the student of Theosophy, and more especially to all those for whom the esoteric side of the philosophy and of all life and action is the real and causal pole to the discovered -- to all these the parts played by the several actors should be profoundly significant for their teaching value. The withdrawal of Col. Olcott's resignation seemed to "close the incident," and was so accepted and adjudged by all those concerned, with the exception of Mr. Judge. Mutual good-will and harmony seemed once more to reign and the incident to possess no more related or enduring importance than a passing wave on a smooth sea, or the rise and fall of a tide. But to the navigator on the sea of Life, to the student of what lies within its depths as well as the flotsam and jetsam of circumstance upon its surface, the Laws and their operations under which all circumstances occur are the real and the important -- their effects, slight, intermediate or beyond measure, but the evidence and the witness of the workings of Karma: men are seen and studied as Karmic Agents. Here, before their eyes, was enacted the course of pledge-fever; here, within the very precincts of the Society and the Esoteric Section, was the throwing outwards of what was hidden in the hearts of the participants; here the display of loyalty, of unwavering allegiance, of true discrimination, of true Brotherhood, set over against "pride and wounded vanity and a personal wish to lead, dressed in the peacock's feathers of devotion and altruistic work"; here the lesson set to be learned: unlearned then, as it is unlearned now, and that must be learned, if Theosophy is to be made practical by those who would play at being Theosophists. "The future ever grows out of and is built upon the present."

(To be Continued)

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