I HAVE now arrived at what I should call the great epoch of Cosmopolitism, the scheme communicated to Baron Knigge by the Marchese di Constanza. This obliges me to mention a remarkable Lodge of the Eclectic Masonry, erected at Munich in Bavaria, in 1775, under the worshipful Master, Professor Baader. It was called The Lodge Theodore of Good Counsel. It had its constitutional patent from the Royal York at Berlin, but had formed a particular system of its own, by instructions from the Loge des Chevaliers Bienfaisants at Lyons, with which it kept up a correspondence. This respect to the Lodge at Lyons had arisen from the preponderance acquired in general by the French party in the convention at Willemstad. The deputies of the Rosaic Lodges, as well as the remains of the Templars, and Stricten Observanz, all looking up to this as the mother Lodge of what they called the Grand Orient de la France, consisting (in 1782) of 266 improved Lodges, united under the D. de Chartres. Accordingly the Lodge at Lyons sent Mr. Willermooz as deputy to this convention at Willemsbad. Refining gradually on the simple British Masonry, the Lodge had formed a system of practical morality, which it asserted to be the aim of genuine Masonry, saying, that a true Mason, and a man of upright heart and active virtue, are synonymous characters, and that the great aim of Free Masonry is to promote the happiness of mankind by every mean in our power. In pursuance of these principles, the Lodge Theodore professedly occupied itself with economical, statistical, and political matters, and not only published from time to time discourses on such subjects by the Brother Orator, but the Members considered themselves as in duty bound to propagate and inculcate the same doctrines out of doors.
Of the zealous members of the Lodge Theodore the most conspicuous was Dr. Adam Weishaupt, Professor of Canon Law in the university of Ingolstadt. This person had been educated among the Jesuits; but the abolition of their order made him change his views, and from being their pupil, he became their most bitter enemy. He had acquired a high reputation in his profession, and was attended not only by those intended for the practice in the law-courts, but also by the young gentlemen at large, in their course of general education; and he brought numbers from the neighboring states to this university, and gave a ton to the studies of the place. He embraced with great keenness this opportunity of spreading the favorite doctrines of the Lodge, and his auditory became the seminary of Cosmopolitism. The engaging pictures of the possible felicity of a society where every office is held by a man of talents and virtue, and where every talent is set in a place fitted for its exertion, forcibly catches the generous and unsuspecting minds of youth, and in a Roman Catholic state, far advanced in the habits of gross superstition (a character given to Bavaria by its neighbors) and abounding in monks and idle dignitaries, the opportunities must be frequent for observing the inconsiderate dominion of the clergy, and the abject and indolent submission of the laity. Accordingly Professor Weishaupt says, in his Apology for Illuminatism, that Deism, Infidelity, and Atheism are more prevalent in Bavaria than in any country he was acquainted with. Discourses, therefore, in which the absurdity and horrors of superstition and spiritual tyranny were strongly painted, could not fail of making a deep impression. And during this state of the minds of the auditory the transition to general infidelity and irreligion is so easy, and so inviting to sanguine youth, prompted perhaps by a latent wish that the restraints which religion imposes on the expectants of a future state might be found, on enquiry, to be nothing but groundless terrors; that I imagine it requires the most anxious care of the public teacher to keep the minds of his audience impressed with the reality and importance of the great truths of religion, while he frees them from the shackles of blind and absurd superstition. I fear that this celebrated instructor had none of this anxiety, but was satisfied with his great success in the last part of this task, the emancipation of his young hearers from the terrors of superstition. I suppose also that this was the more agreeable to him, as it procured him the triumph over the Jesuits, with whom he had long struggled for the direction of the university.
This was in 1777. Weishaupt had long been scheming the establishment of an Association or Order, which, in time, should govern the world. In his first fervor and high expectations, he hinted to several Ex-Jesuits the probability of their recovering, under a new name, the influence which they formerly possessed, and of being again of great service to society, by directing the education of youth of distinction, now emancipated from all civil and religious prejudices. He prevailed on some to join him, but they all retracted but two. After this disappointment Weishaupt became the implacable enemy of the Jesuits; and his sanguine temper made him frequently lay himself open to their piercing eye, and drew on him their keenest resentment, and at last made him the victim of their enmity.
The Lodge Theodore was the place where the above-mentioned doctrines were most zealously propagated. But Weishaupt’s emissaries had already procured the adherence of many other Lodges; and the Eclectic Masonry had been brought into vogue chiefly by their exertions at the Willemsbad convention. The Lodge Theodore was perhaps less guarded in its proceedings, for it became remarkable for the very bold sentiments in politics and religion which were frequently uttered in their harangues; and its members were noted for their zeal in making proselytes. Many bitter pasquinades, satires, and other offensive pamphlets were in secret circulation, and even larger works of very dangerous tendency, and several of them were traced to that Lodge. The Elector often expressed his disapprobation of such proceedings, and sent them kind messages, desiring them to be careful not to disturb the peace of the country, and particularly to recollect the solemn declaration made to every entrant into the Fraternity of Free Masons, “That no subject of religion or politics shall ever be touched on in the Lodge;” a declaration which alone could have procured his permission of any secret assembly whatever, and on the sincerity and honor of which he had reckoned when he gave his sanction to their establishment. But repeated accounts of the same kind increased the alarm, and the Elector ordered a judicial enquiry into the proceedings of the Lodge Theodore.
It was then discovered that this and several associated Lodges were the nursery or preparation-school for another Order of Masons, who called themselves the ILLUMINATED, and that the express aim of this Order was to abolish Christianity, and overturn all civil government. But the result of the enquiry was very imperfect and unsatisfactory. No Illuminati were to be found. They were unknown in the Lodge. Some of the members occasionally heard of certain candidates for illumination called MINERVALS, who were sometimes seen among them. But whether these had been admitted, or who received them, was known only to themselves. Some of these were examined in private by the Elector himself. They said that they were bound by honor to secrecy: But they assured the Elector, on their honor, that the aim of the Order was in the highest degree praiseworthy, and useful both to church and state: But this could not allay the anxiety of the profane public; and it was repeatedly stated to the Elector, that members of the Lodge Theodore had unguardedly spoken of this Order as one that in time must rule the world. He therefore issued an order forbidding, during his pleasure, all secret assemblies, and shutting up the Mason Lodges. It was not meant to be rigorously enforced, but was intended as a trial of the deference of these Associations for civil authority. The Lodge Theodore distinguished itself by pointed opposition, continuing its meetings; and the members, out of doors, openly reprobated the prohibition as an absurd and unjustifiable tyranny.
In the beginning of 1783, four professors of the Marianen Academy, founded by the widow of the late Elector, viz. Utschneider, Cossandey, Renner, and Grunberger, with two others, were summoned before the Court of Enquiry, and questioned, on their allegiance, respecting the Order of the Illuminati. They acknowledged that they belonged to it, and when more closely examined, they related several circumstances of its constitution and principles. Their declarations were immediately published, and were very unfavorable. The Order was said to abjure Christianity, and to refuse admission into the higher degrees to all who adhered to any of the three confessions. Sensual pleasures were restored to the rank they held in the Epicurean philosophy. Self-murder was justified on Stoical principles. In the Lodges death was declared an eternal sleep; patriotism and loyalty were called narrow-minded prejudices, and incompatible with universal benevolence; continual declamations were made on liberty and equality as the unalienable rights of man. The baneful influence of accumulated property was declared an insurmountable obstacle to the happiness of any nation whose chief laws were framed for its protection and increase. Nothing was so frequently discoursed of as the propriety of employing, for a good purpose, the means which the wicked employed for evil purposes; and it was taught, that the preponderancy of good in the ultimate result consecrated every mean employed; and that wisdom and virtue consisted in properly determining this balance. This appeared big with danger; because it appeared that nothing would be scrupled at, if we could make it appear that the Order could derive advantage from it, because the great object of the Order was held as superior to every consideration. They concluded by saying that the method of education made them all spies on each other and on all around them. But all this was denied by the Illuminati. Some of them were said to be absolutely false; and the rest were said to be mistakes. The apostate professors had acknowledged their ignorance of many things. Two of them were only Minervals, another was an Illuminatus of the lowest class, and the fourth was but one step farther advanced. Pamphlets appeared on both sides, with very little effect. The Elector called before him one of the superiors, a young nobleman, who denied these injurious charges, and said that they were ready to lay before his Highness their whole archives and all constitutional papers.
Notwithstanding all this, the government had received such an impression of the dangerous tendency of the Order, that the Elector issued another edict, forbidding all hidden assemblies; and a third, expressly abolishing the Order of Illuminati. It was followed by a search after their papers. The Lodge Theodore was immediately searched, but none were to be found. They said now that they had burnt them all, as of no use, since that Order was at an end.
It was now discovered, that Weishaupt was the head and founder of the Order. He was deprived of his Professor’s chair, and banished from the Bavarian States; but with a pension of 800 florins, which he refused. He went to Regensburg, on the confines of Switzerland. Two Italians, the Marquis Constanza and Marquis Savioli, were also banished, with equal pensions (about L. 40) which they accepted. One Zwack, a counsellor, holding some law-office, was also banished. Others were imprisoned for some time. Weishaupt went afterwards into the service of the D. of Saxe Gotha, a person of a romantic turn of mind, and whom we shall again meet with. Zwack went into the service of the Pr. de Salms, who soon after had so great a hand in the disturbances in Holland.
By destroying the papers, all opportunity was lost for authenticating the innocence and usefulness of the Order. After much altercation and paper war, Weishaupt, now safe in Regensburg, published an account of the Order, namely, the account which was given to every Novice in a discourse read at his reception. To this were added, the statutes and the rules proceeding, as far as the degree of Illuminatus Minor, inclusive. This account he affirmed to be conform to the real practice of the Order. But this publication did by no means satisfy the public mind. It differed exceedingly from the accounts given by the four professors. It made no mention of the higher degrees, which had been most blamed by them. Besides, it was alleged, that it was all a fiction, written in order to lull the suspicions which had been raised (and this was found to be the case, except in respect of the very lowest degree.) The real constitution was brought to light by degrees, and shall be laid before the reader, in the order in which it was gradually discovered, that we may the better judge of things not fully known by the conduct of the leaders during the detection. The first account given by Weishaupt is correct, as far as I shall make use of it, and shows clearly the methods that were taken to recommend the Order to strangers.
The Order of ILLUMINATI appears as an accessory to Free Masonry. It is in the Lodges of Free Masons that the Minervals are found, and there they are prepared for Illumination. They must have previously obtained the three English degrees. The founder says more. He says that his doctrines are the only true Free Masonry. He was the chief promoter of the Eclectic System. This he urged as the best method for getting information of all the explanations which have been given of the Masonic Mysteries. He was also a Strict Observanz, and an adept Rosicrucian. The result of all his knowledge is worthy of particular remark, and shall therefore be given at large.
“I declare,” says he, “and I challenge all mankind to contradict my declaration, that no man can give any account of the Order of Free Masonry, of its origin, of its history, of its object, nor any explanation of its mysteries and symbols, which does not leave the mind in total uncertainty on all these points. Every man is entitled, therefore, to give any explanation of the symbols, and any system of the doctrines, that he can render palatable. Hence have sprung up that variety of systems which for twenty years have divided the Order. The simple tale of the English, and the fifty degrees of the French, and the Knights of Baron Hunde, are equally authentic, and have equally had the support of intelligent and zealous Brethren. These systems are in fact but one. They have all sprung from the Blue Lodge of Three degrees; take these for their standard, and found on these all the improvements by which each system is afterwards suited to the particular object which it keeps in view. There is no man, nor system, in the world, which can show by undoubted succession that it should stand at the head of the Order. Our ignorance in this particular frets me. Do but consider our short history of 120 years.–Who will show me the Mother Lodge? Those of London we have discovered to be self-erected in 1716. Ask for their archives. They tell you they were burnt. They have nothing but the wretched sophistications of the Englishman Anderson, and the Frenchman Desaguilliers. Where is the Lodge of York, which pretends to the priority, with their King Bouden, and the archives that he brought from the East? These too are all burnt. What is the Chapter of Old Aberdeen, and its Holy Clericate? Did we not find it unknown, and the Mason Lodges there the most ignorant of all the ignorant, gaping for instruction from our deputies? Did we not find the same thing at London? And have not their missionaries been among us, prying into our mysteries, and eager to learn from us what is true Free Masonry? It is in vain, therefore, to appeal to judges; they are nowhere to be found; all claim for themselves the scepter of the Order; all indeed are on an equal footing. They obtained followers, not from their authenticity, but from their conduciveness to the end which they proposed, and from the importance of that end. It is by this scale that we must measure the mad and wicked explanations of the Rosicrucian’s, the Exorcists, and Cabalists. These are rejected by all good Masons, because incompatible with social happiness. Only such systems as promote this are retained. But alas, they are all sadly deficient, because they leave us under the dominion of political and religious prejudice; and they are as inefficient as the sleepy dose of an ordinary sermon.
“But I have contrived an explanation which has every advantage; is inviting to Christians of every communion; gradually frees them from all religious prejudices; cultivates the social virtues; and animates them by a great, a feasible, and speedy prospect of universal happiness, in a state of liberty and moral equality, freed from the obstacles which subordination, rank, and riches, continually throw in our way. My explanation is accurate, and complete, my means are effectual, and irresistible. Our secret Association works in a way that nothing can withstand, and man shall soon be free and happy.
“This is the great object held out by this Association: and the means of attaining it is Illumination, enlightening the understanding by the sun of reason, which will dispel the clouds of superstition and of prejudice. The proficients in this Order are therefore justly named the Illuminated. And of all Illumination which human reason can give, none is comparable to the discovery of what we are, our nature, our obligations, what happiness we are capable of, and what are the means of attaining it. In comparison with this, the most brilliant sciences are but amusements for the idle and luxurious. To fit man by Illumination for active virtue, to engage him to it by the strongest motives, to render the attainment of it easy and certain, by finding employment for every talent, and by placing every talent in its proper sphere of action, so that all, without feeling any extraordinary effort, and in conjunction with and completion of ordinary business, shall urge forward, with united powers, the general task. This indeed will be an employment suited to noble natures, grand in its views, and delightful in its exercise.
“And what is this general object? THE HAPPINESS OF THE HUMAN RACE. Is it not distressing to a generous mind, after contemplating what human nature is capable of, to see how little we enjoy? When we look at this goodly world, and see that every man may be happy, but that the happiness of one depends on the conduct of another; when we see the wicked so powerful, and the good so weak; and that it is in vain to strive, singly and alone, against the general current of vice and oppression; the wish naturally arises in the mind, that it were possible to form a durable combination of the most worthy persons, who should work together in removing the obstacles to human happiness, become terrible to the wicked, and give their aid to all the good without distinction, and should by the most powerful means, first fetter, and by fettering, lessen vice; means which at the same time should promote virtue, by rendering the inclination to rectitude, hitherto too feeble, more powerful and engaging. Would not such an association be a blessing to the world?
“But where are the proper persons, the good, the generous, and the accomplished, to be found? and how, and by what strong motives, are they to be induced to engage in a task so vast, so incessant, so difficult, and so laborious? This Association must be gradual. There are some such persons to be found in every society. Such noble minds will be engaged by the heart-warming object. The first task of the Association must therefore be to form the young members. As these multiply and advance, they become the apostles of beneficence, and the work is now on foot, and advances with a speed increasing every day. The slightest observation shows that nothing will so much contribute to increase the zeal of the members as secret union. We see with what keenness and zeal the frivolous business of Free Masonry is conducted, by persons knit together by the secrecy of their union. It is needless to enquire into the causes of this zeal which secrecy produces. It is an universal fact, confirmed by the history of every age. Let this circumstance of our constitution therefore be directed to this noble purpose, and then all the objections urged against it by jealous tyranny and affrighted superstition will vanish. The Order will thus work silently, and securely; and though the generous benefactors of the human race are thus deprived of the applause of the world, they have the noble pleasure of seeing their work prosper in their hands.”
Such is the aim, and such are the hopes of the Order of the Illuminated. Let us now see how these were to be accomplished. We cannot judge precisely of this, because the account given of the constitution of the Order by its founder includes only the lowest degree, and even this is suspected to be fictitious. The accounts given by the four Professors, even of this part of the Order, make a very different impression on the mind, although they differ only in a few particulars.
The only ostensible members of the Order were the Minervals. They were to be found only in the Lodges of Free Masons. A candidate for admission must make his wish known to some Minerval; he reports it to a Superior, who, by a channel to be explained presently, intimates it to the Council. No notice is farther taken of it for some time. The candidate is carefully observed in silence, and if thought unfit for the Order, no notice is taken of his solicitation. But if otherwise, the candidate receives privately an invitation to a conference. Here he meets with a person unknown to him, and, previous to all further conference, he is required to peruse and to sign the following oath:
“I N. N. hereby bind myself, by mine honor and good name, forswearing all mental reservation, never to reveal, by hint, word, writing, or in any manner whatever, even to my most trusted friend, anything that shall now be said or done to me respecting my wished-for-reception, and this whether my reception shall follow or not; I being previously assured that it shall contain nothing contrary to religion, the state, nor good manners. I promise, that I shall make no intelligible extract from any papers which shall be shewn me now or during my noviciate. All this I swear, as I am, and as I hope to continue, a Man of Honor.”
The urbanity of this protestation must agreeably impress the mind of a person who recollects the dreadful imprecations which he made at his reception into the different ranks of Free Masonry. The candidate is then introduced to an Illuminates Dirigens, whom perhaps he knows, and is told that this person is to be his future instructor. There is now presented to the candidate, what they call a table, in which he writes his name, place of birth, age, rank, place of residence, profession, and favorite studies. He is then made to read several articles of this table. It contains, 1st. a very concise account of the Order, its connection with Free Masonry, and its great object, the promoting the happiness of mankind by means of instruction and confirmation in virtuous principles. 2d. Several questions relative to the Order. Among these are, “What advantages he hopes to derive from being a member? What he most particularly wishes to learn? What delicate questions relative to the life, the prospects, the duties of man, as an individual, and as a citizen, he wishes to have particularly discussed to him? In what respects he thinks he can be of use to the Order? Who are his ancestors, relations, friends, correspondents, or enemies? Whom he thinks proper persons to be received into the Order, or whom he thinks unfit for it, and the reasons for both opinions. To each of these questions he must give some answer in writing.
The Novice and his Mentor are known only to each other; perhaps nothing more follows upon this; if otherwise, the Mentor appoints another conference, and begins his instructions, by giving him in detail certain portions of the constitution, and of the fundamental rules of the Order. Of these the Novice must give a weekly account in writing. He must also read, in the Mentor’s house, a book containing more of the instructions of the Order; but he must make no extracts. Yet from this reading he must derive all his knowledge; and he must give an account in writing of his progress. All writings received from his Superiors must be returned with a stated punctuality. These writings consist chiefly of important and delicate questions, suited, either to the particular inclination, or to the peculiar taste which the candidate had discovered in his subscriptions of the articles of the table, and in his former rescripts, or to the direction which the Mentor wishes to give to his thoughts.
Enlightening the understanding, and the rooting out of prejudices, are pointed out to him as the principal tasks of his noviciate. The knowledge of himself is considered as preparatory to all other knowledge. To disclose to him, by means of the calm and unbiassed observation of his instructor, what is his own character, his most vulnerable side, either in respect of temper, passions, or prepossessions, is therefore the most essential service that can be done him. For this purpose there is required of him some account of his own conduct on occasions where he doubted of its propriety; some account of his friendships, of his differences of opinion, and of his conduct on such occasions. From such relations the Superior learns his manner of thinking and judging, and those propensities which require his chief attention.
Having made the candidate acquainted with himself, he is apprised that the Order is not a speculative, but an active association, engaged in doing good to others. The knowledge of human character is therefore of all others the most important. This is acquired only by observation, assisted by the instructions of his teacher. Characters in history are proposed to him for observation, and his opinion is required. After this he is directed to look around him, and to notice the conduct of other men; and part of his weekly rescripts must consist of accounts of all interesting occurrences in his neighbourhood, whether of a public or private nature. Cossandey, one of the four Professors, gives a particular account of the instructions relating to this kind of science. “The Novice must be attentive to trifles: For, in frivolous occurrences a man is indolent, and makes no effort to act a part, so that his real character is then acting alone. Nothing will have such influence with the Superiors in promoting the advancement of a candidate as very copious narrations of this kind, because the candidate, if promoted, is to be employed in an active station, and it is from this kind of information only that the Superiors can judge of his fitness. These characteristic anecdotes are not for the instruction of the Superiors, who are men of long experience, and familiar with such occupation. But they inform the Order concerning the talents and proficiency of the young member. Scientific instruction, being connected by system, is soon communicated, and may in general be very completely obtained from the books which are recommended to the Novice, and acquired in the public seminaries of instruction. But knowledge of character is more multifarious and more delicate. For this there is no college, and it must therefore require longer time for its attainment. Besides, this assiduous and long continued study of men, enables the possessor of such knowledge to act with men, and by his knowledge of their character, to influence their conduct. For such reasons this study is continued, and these rescripts are required, during the whole progress through the Order, and attention to them is recommended as the only mean of advancement. Remarks on Physiognomy in these narrations are accounted of considerable value.” So far Mr. Cossandey.
During all this trial, which may last one, two, or three years, the Novice knows no person of the Order but his own instructor, with whom he has frequent meetings, along with other Minervals. In these conversations he learns the importance of the Order, and the opportunities he will afterwards have of acquiring much hidden science. The employment of his unknown Superiors naturally causes him to entertain very high notions of their abilities and worth. He is counselled to aim at a resemblance to them by getting rid by degrees of all those prejudices or prepossessions which checked his own former progress; and he is assisted in this endeavor by an invitation to a correspondence with them. He may address his Provincial Superior, by directing his letter Soli, or the General by Primo, or the Superiors in general by Quibus licet. In these letters he may mention whatever he thinks conducive to the advancement of the Order; he may inform the Superiors how his instructor behaves to him; if assiduous or remiss, indulgent or severe. The Superiors are enjoined by the strongest motives to convey these letters wherever addressed. None but the General and Council know the result of all this; and all are enjoined to keep themselves and their proceedings unknown to all the world.
If three years of this Noviciate have elapsed without further notice, the Minerval must look for no further advancement; he is found unfit, and remains a Free Mason of the highest class. This is called a Sta bene.
But should his Superiors judge more favorably of him, he is drawn out of the general mass of Free Masons, and becomes Illuminatus Minor. When called to a conference for this purpose, he is told in the most serious manner, that “it is vain for him to hope to acquire wisdom by mere systematic instruction; for such instruction the Superiors have no leisure. Their duty is not to form speculators, but active men, whom they must immediately employ in the service of the Order. He must therefore grow wise and able entirely by the unfolding and exertion of his own talents. His Superiors have already discovered what these are, and know what service he may be capable of rendering the Order, provided he now heartily acquiesces in being thus honorably employed. They will assist him in bringing his talents into action, and will place him in the situations most favorable for their exertion, so that he may be assured of success. Hitherto he has been a mere scholar, but his first a step farther carries him into action; he must therefore now consider himself as an instrument in the hands of his Superiors, to be used for the noblest purposes.” The aim of the Order is now more fully told him. It is, in one sentence, “to make of the human race, without any distinction of nation, condition, or profession, one good and happy family.” To this aim, demonstrably attainable, every smaller consideration must give way. This may sometimes require sacrifices which no man standing alone has fortitude to make; but which become light, and a source of the purest enjoyment, when supported and encouraged by the countenance and co-operation of the united wise and good, such as are the Superiors of the Order. If the candidate, warmed by the alluring picture of the possible happiness of a virtuous Society, says that he is sensible of the propriety of this procedure, and still wishes to be of the Order, he is required to sign the following obligation.
“I, N. N. protest before you, the worthy Plenipotentiary of the venerable Order into which I wish to be admitted, that I acknowledge my natural weakness and inability, and that I, with all my possessions, rank, honors, and titles which I hold in political society, am, at bottom, only a man; I can enjoy these things only through my fellow-men, and through them also I may lose them. The approbation and consideration of my fellow-men are indispensably necessary, and I must try to maintain them by all my talents. These I will never use to the prejudice of universal good, but will oppose, with all my might, the enemies of the human race, and of political society. I will embrace every opportunity of saving mankind, by improving my understanding and my affections, and by imparting all important knowledge, as the good and statutes of this Order require of me. I bind myself to perpetual silence and unshaken loyalty and submission to the Order, in the persons of my Superiors; here making a faithful and complete surrender of my private judgment, my own will, and every narrow-minded employment of my power and influence. I pledge myself to account the go d of the Order as my own, and am ready to serve it with my fortune, my honor, and my blood. Should I, through omission, neglect, passion, or wickedness, behave contrary to this good of the Order, I subject myself to what reproof or punishment my Superiors shall enjoin. The friends and enemies of the Order shall be my friends and enemies; and with respect to both I will conduct myself as directed by the Order, and am ready, in every lawful way, to devote myself to its increase and promotion, and therein to employ all my ability. All this I promise, and protest, without secret reservation, according to the intention of the Society which require from me this engagement. This I do as I am, and as I hope to continue, a Man of Honor.”
A drawn sword is then pointed at his breast, and he is asked, Will you be obedient to the commands of your Superiors? He is threatened with unavoidable vengeance, from which no potentate can defend him, if he should ever betray the Order. He is then asked, 1. What aim does he wish the Order to have? 2. What means he would choose to advance this aim? 3. Whom he wishes to keep out of the Order? 4. What subjects he wishes not to be discussed in it?
Our candidate is now ILLUMINATUS MINOR. It is needless to narrate the mummery of reception, and it is enough to say, that it nearly resembles that of the Masonic Chevalier du Soleil, known to everyone much conversant in Masonry. Weishaupt’s preparatory discourse of reception is a piece of good composition, whether considered as argumentative (from topics, indeed, that are very gratuitous and fanciful) or as a specimen of that declamation which was so much practiced by Libanius and the other Sophists, and it gives a distinct and captivating account of the professed aim of the Order.
The Illuminatus Minor learns a good deal more of the Order, but by very sparing morsels, under the same instructor. The task has now become more delicate and difficult. The chief part of it is the rooting out of prejudices in politics and religion; and Weishaupt has shown much address in the method which he has employed. Not the most hurtful, but the most easily refuted, were the first subjects of discussion, so that the pupil gets into the habits of victory; and his reverence for the systems of either kind is diminished when they are found to have harbored such untenable opinions. The proceedings in the Eclectic Lodges of Masonry, and the harangues of the Brother Orators, teemed with the boldest sentiments both in politics and religion. Enlightening, and the triumph of reason, had been the ton of the country for some time past, and every institution, civil and religious, had been the subject of the most free criticism. Above all, the Cosmopolitism, which had been imported from France, where it had been the favorite topic of the enthusiastical economists, was now become a general theme of discussion in all societies of cultivated men. It was a subject of easy and agreeable declamation; and the Literati found in it a subject admirably fitted for showing their talents, and ingratiating themselves with the young men of fortune, whose minds, unsuspicious as yet and generous, were fired with the fair prospects set before them of universal and attainable happiness. And the pupils of the Illuminati were still more warmed by the thought that they were to be the happy instruments of accomplishing all this. And though the doctrines of universal liberty and equality, as imprescriptible rights of man, might sometimes startle those who possessed the advantage of fortune, there were thousands of younger sons, and of men of talents without fortune, to whom these were agreeable sounds. And we must particularly observe, that those who were now the pupils were a set of picked subjects, whose characters and peculiar biases were well known by their conduct during their noviciate as Minervals. They were therefore such as, in all probability, would not boggle at very free sentiments. We might rather expect a partiality to doctrines which removed some restraints which formerly checked them in the indulgence of youthful passions. Their instructors, who have thus relieved their minds from several anxious thoughts, must appear men of superior minds. This was a notion most carefully inculcated; and they could see nothing to contradict it: for except their own Mentor, they knew none; they heard of Superiors of different ranks, but never saw them; and the same mode of instruction that was practiced during their noviciate was still retained. More particulars of the Order were slowly unfolded to them, and they were taught that their Superiors were men of distinguished talents, and were Superiors for this reason alone. They were taught, that the great opportunities which the Superiors had for observation, and their habits of continually occupying their thoughts with the great objects of this Order, had enlarged their views, even far beyond the narrow limits of nations and kingdoms, which they hoped would one day coalesce into one great Society, where consideration would attach to talents and worth alone, and that pre-eminence in these would be invariably attended with all the enjoyments of influence and power. And they were told that they would gradually become acquainted with these great and venerable Characters, as they advanced in the Order. In earnest of this, they were made acquainted with one or two Superiors, and with several Illuminati of their own rank. Also, to whet their zeal, they are now made instructors of one or two Minervals, and report their progress to their Superiors. They are given to understand that nothing can so much recommend them as the success with which they perform this task. It is declared to be the best evidence of their usefulness in the great designs of the Order.
The baleful effects of general superstition, and even of any peculiar religious prepossession, are now strongly inculcated, and the discernment of the pupils in these matters is learned by questions which are given them from time to time to discuss. These are managed with delicacy and circumspection, that the timid may not be alarmed. In like manner, the political doctrines of the Order are inculcated with the utmost caution. After the mind of the pupil has been warmed by the pictures of universal happiness, and convinced that it is a possible thing to unite all the inhabitants of the earth in one great society, and after it has been made out, in some measure to the satisfaction of the pupil, that a great addition of happiness is gained by the abolition of national distinctions and animosities, it may frequently be no hard task to make him think that patriotism is a narrow-minded monopolizing sentiment, and even incompatible with the more enlarged views of the Order, namely, the uniting the whole human race into one great and happy society. Princes are a chief feature of national distinction. Princes, therefore, may now be safely represented as unnecessary. If so, loyalty to Princes loses much of its sacred character; and the so frequent enforcing of it in our common political discussions may now be easily made to appear a selfish maxim of rulers, by which they may more easily enslave the people; and thus, it may at last appear, that religion, the love of our particular country, and loyalty to our Prince, should be resisted, if, by these partial or narrow views, we prevent the accomplishment of that Cosmo-political happiness which is continually held forth as the great object of the Order. It is in this point of view that the terms of devotion to the Order which are inserted in the oath of admission are now explained. The authority of the ruling powers is therefore represented as of inferior moral weight to that of the Order. “These powers are despots, when they do not conduct themselves by its principles; and it is therefore our duty to surround them with its members, so that the profane may have no access to them. Thus we are able most powerfully to promote its interests. If any person is more disposed to listen to Princes than to the Order, he is not fit for it, and must rise no higher. We must do our utmost to procure the advancement of Illuminati into all important civil offices.”
Accordingly the Order labored in this with great zeal and success. A correspondence was discovered, in which it is plain, that by their influence, one of the greatest ecclesiastical dignities was filled up in opposition to the right and authority of the Archbishop of Spire, who is there represented as a tyrannical and bigoted priest. They contrived to place their Members as tutors to the youth of distinction. One of them, Baron Leuchtsenring, took the charge of a young prince without any salary. They insinuated themselves into all public offices, and particularly into courts of justice. In like manner, the chairs in the University of Ingolstadt were (with only two exceptions) occupied by Illuminati. “Rulers who are members must be promoted through the ranks of the Order only in proportion as they acknowledge the goodness of its great object, and manner of procedure. Its object may be said to be the checking the tyranny of princes, nobles, and priests, and establishing an universal equality of condition and of religion.” The pupil is now informed “that such a religion is contained in the Order, is the perfection of Christianity, and will be imparted to him in due time.”
These and other principles and maxims of the Order are partly communicated by the verbal instruction of the Mentor, partly by writings, which must be punctually returned, and partly read by the pupil at the Mentor’s house (but without taking extracts) in such portions as he shall direct. The rescripts by the pupil must contain discussions on these subjects, and of anecdotes and descriptions of living characters; and these must be zealously continued, as the chief mean of advancement. All this while the pupil knows only his Mentor, the Minervals, and a few others of his own rank. All mention of degrees, or other business of the Order, must be carefully avoided, even in the meetings with other Members: “For the Order wishes to be secret, and to work in silence; for thus it is better secured from the oppression of the ruling powers, and because this secrecy gives a greater zest to the whole.”
This short account of the Noviciate, and of the lowest class of Illuminati, is all we can get from the authority of Mr. Weishaupt. The higher degrees were not published by him. Many circumstances appear suspicious, and are certainly susceptible of different turns, and may easily be pushed to very dangerous extremes. The accounts given by the four professors confirm these suspicions. They declare upon oath, that they make all these accusations in consequence of what they heard in the Meetings, and of what they knew of the Higher Orders.
But since the time of the suppression by the Elector, discoveries have been made which throw great light on the subject. A collection of original papers and correspondence was found by searching the house of one Zwack (a Member) in 1786. The following year a much larger collection was found at the house of Baron Bassus; and since that time Baron Knigge, the most active Member next to Weishaupt, published an account of some of the higher degrees, which had been formed by himself. A long while after this were published, Neueste Arbeitung des Spartacus and Philo in der Illuminaten Orden, and Hohere Granden des Ilium. Ordens. These two works give an account of the whole secret constitution of the Order, its various degrees, the manner of conferring them, the instructions to the entrants, and an explanation of the connection of the Order with Free Masonry, and a critical history. We shall give some extracts from such of these as have been published.
Weishaupt was the founder in 1776. In 1778 the number of Members was considerably increased, and the Order was fully established. The Members took antique names. Thus Weishaupt took the name of Spartacus, the man who headed the insurrection of slaves, which in Pompey’s time kept Rome in terror and uproar for three years. Zwack was called Cato. Knigge was Philo. Bassus was Hannibal. Hertel was Marius. Marquis Constanza was Diomedes. Nicholai, an eminent and learned bookseller in Berlin, and author of several works of reputation, took the name of Lucian, the great scoffer at all religion. Another was Mahomet, &c. It is remarkable, that except Cato and Socrates, we have not a name of any ancient who was eminent as a teacher and practiser of virtue. On the contrary, they seem to have affected the characters of the free-thinkers and turbulent spirits of antiquity. In the same manner they gave ancient names to the cities and countries of Europe. Munich was Athens, Vienna was Rome, etc…
Spartacus to Cato, Feb. 6, 1778.
“Mon but est de faire valoir la raison. As a subordinate object I shall endeavor to gain security to ourselves, a backing in case of misfortunes, and assistance from without. I shall therefore press the cultivation of science, especially such sciences as may have an influence on our reception in the world, and may serve to remove obstacles out of the way. We have to struggle with pedantry, with intolerance, with divines and statesmen, and above all, princes and priests are in our way. Men are unfit as they are, and must be formed; each class must be the school of trial for the next. This will be tedious, because it is hazardous. In the last classes I propose academies under the direction of the Order. This will secure us the adherence of the Literati. Science shall here be the lure. Only those who are assuredly proper subjects shall be picked out from among the inferior classes for the higher mysteries, which contain the first principles and means of promoting a happy life. No religionist must, on any account, be admitted into these: For here we work at the discovery and extirpation of superstition and prejudices. The instructions shall be so conducted that each shall disclose what he thinks he conceals within his own breast, what are his ruling propensities and passions, and how far he has advanced in the command of himself. This will answer all the purposes of auricular confession. And in particular, every person shall be made a spy on another and on all around him. Nothing can escape our sight; by these means we shall readily discover who are contented, and receive with relish the peculiar state-doctrines and religious opinions that are laid before them; and, at last, the trust-worthy alone will be admitted to a participation of the whole maxims and political constitution of the Order. In a council composed of such members we shall labor at the contrivance of means to drive by degrees the enemies of reason and of humanity out of the world, and to establish a peculiar morality and religion fitted for the great Society of mankind.
“But this is a ticklish project, and requires the utmost circumspection. The squeamish will start at the sight of religious or political novelties; and they must be prepared for them. We must be particularly careful about the books which we recommend; I shall confine them at first to moralists and reasoning historians. This will prepare for a patient reception, in the higher classes, of works of a bolder flight, such as Robinet’s Systeme de la Nature–Politique Naturelle–Philosophie de la Nature–Systeme Social–The writings of Mirabaud, etc… Helvetius is fit only for the strongest stomachs. If anyone has a copy already, neither praise nor find fault with him. Say nothing on such subjects to entrants, for we don’t know how they will be received–folks are not yet prepared. Marius, an excellent man, must be dealt with. His stomach, which cannot yet digest such strong food, must acquire a better tone. The allegory on which I am to found the mysteries of the Higher Orders is the fire-worship of the Magi. We must have some worship, and none is so apposite. LET THERE BE LIGHT, AND THERE SHALL BE LIGHT. This is my motto, and is my fundamental principle. The degrees will be Feurer Orden, Parsen Orden; * all very practicable. In the course through these there will be no STA BENE (this is the answer given to one who solicits preferment, and is refused.) For I engage that none shall enter this class who has not laid aside his prejudices. No man is fit for our Order who is not a Brutus or a Catiline, and is not ready to go every length.–Tell me how you like this?”
* This is evidently the Mystere da Mithrus mentioned by Barruel,
in his History of Jacobinism, and had been carried into France by
Bede and Busche.
“To collect unpublished works, and information from the archives of States, will be a most useful service. We shall be able to show in a very ridiculous light the claims of our despots. Marius (keeper of the archives of the Electorate) has ferreted out a noble document, which we have got. He makes it, forsooth, a case of conscience–how silly that–since only that is sin, which is ultimately productive of mischief. In this case, where the advantage far exceeds the hurt, it is meritorious virtue. It will do more good in our hands than by remaining for 1000 years on the dusty shelf.”
There was found in the hand-writing of Zwack a project for a Sisterhood, in subserviency to the designs of the Illuminati. In it are the following passages:
“There was found in the hand-writing of Zwack a project for a Sisterhood, in subserviency to the designs of the Illuminati. In it are the following passages: “It will be of great service, and procure us both much information and money, and will suit charmingly the taste of many of our truest members, who are lovers of the sex. It should consist of two classes, the virtuous, and the freer hearted (i.e. those who fly out of the common tract of prudish manners); they must not know of each other, and must be under the direction of men, but without knowing it. Proper books must be put into their hands, and such (but secretly) as are flattering to their passions.”
There are, in the same hand-writing, Description of a strong box, which, if forced open, shall blow up and destroy its contents–Several receipts for procuring abortion–A composition which blinds or kills when spurted in the face–A sheet, containing a receipt for sympathetic ink–Tea for procuring abortion–Herba quæ habent qualitatem deleteriam–A method for filling a bed-chamber with pestilential vapors–How to take off impressions of seals, so as to use them afterwards as seals–A collection of some hundreds of such impressions, with a list of their owners, princes, nobles, clergymen, merchants, &c.–A receipt ad excitandum furorem uterinum–A manuscript entitled, “Better than Horus.” It was afterwards printed and distributed at Leipzig fair, and is an attack and bitter satire on all religion. This is in the hand-writing of Ajax. As also a dissertation on suicide. N. B. His sister-in-law threw herself from the top of a tower. There was also a set of portraits, or characters of eighty-five ladies in Munich; with recommendations of some of them for members of a Lodge of Sister Illuminatæ; also injunctions to all the Superiors to learn to write with both hands; and that they should use more than one cypher.
Immediately after the publication of these writings, many defenses appeared. It was said that the dreadful medical apparatus were with propriety in the hands of Counsellor Zwack, who was a judge of a criminal court, and whose duty it was therefore to know such things. The same excuse was offered for the collection of seals; but how came these
things to be put up with papers of the Illuminati, and to be in the hand writing of one of that Order? Weishaupt says, “These things were not carried into effect–only spoken of, and are justifiable when taken in proper connection.” This however he has not pointed out; but he appeals to the account of the Order, which he had published at Regensburg, and in which neither these things are to be found, nor any possibility of a connection by which they may be justified. “All men, says he, are subject to errors, and the best man is he who best conceals them. I have never been guilty of any such vices or follies: for proof, I appeal to the whole tenor of my life, which my reputation, and my struggles with hostile cabals, had brought completely into public view long before the institution of this Order, without abating any thing of that flattering regard which was paid to me by the first persons of my country and its neighborhood; a regard well evinced by their confidence in me as the best instructor of their children.” In some of his private letters, we learn the means which he employed to acquire this influence among the youth, and they are such as could not fail. But we must not anticipate. “It is well known that I have made the chair which I occupied in the university of Ingolstadt, the resort of the first class of the German youth; whereas formerly it had only brought round it the low-born practitioners in the courts of law. I have gone through the whole circle of human enquiry. I have exorcised spirits–raised ghosts–discovered treasures–interrogated the Cabala–hatte Loto gespielt–I have never transmuted metals.”–(A very pretty and respectable circle indeed, and what vulgar spirits would scarcely have included within the pale of their curiosity.) “The tenor of my life has been the opposite of everything that is vile; and no man can lay any such thing to my charge. I have reason to rejoice that these writings have appeared; they are a vindication of the Order and of my conduct. I can, and must declare to God, and I do it now in the most solemn manner, that in my whole life I never saw or heard of the so much condemned secret writings; and in particular, respecting these abominable means; such as poisoning, abortion, &c. was it ever known to me in any case, that any of my friends or acquaintances ever even thought of them, advised them, or made any use of them. I was indeed always a schemer and projector, but never could engage much in detail. My general plan is good, though in the detail there may be faults. I had myself to form. In another situation, and in an active station in life, I should have been keenly occupied, and the founding an Order would never have come into my head. But I would have executed much greater things, had not government always opposed my exertions, and placed others in the situations which suited my talents. It was the full conviction of this, and of what could be done, if every man were placed in the office for which he was fitted by nature and a proper education, which first suggested to me the plan of illumination.” Surely Mr. Weishaupt had a very serious charge, the education of youth; and his encouragement in that charge was the most flattering that an Illuminatus could wish for, because he had brought round him the youth whose influence in society was the greatest and who would most of all contribute to the diffusing good principles, and exciting to good conduct through the whole state. “I did not,” says he, “bring deism into Bavaria more than into Rome. I found it here, in great vigor, more abounding than in any of the neighboring Protestant states. I am proud to be known to the world as the founder of the Order of Illuminati; and I repeat my wish to have for my epitaph,
“Hic situs est Phaethon, currûs auriga paterni,
“Quem si non tenuit, magnis tamen excidit ausis.”
The second discovery of secret correspondence at Sandersdorff, the feat of Baron Batz (Hannibal) contains still more interesting facts.
Spartacus to Cato.
“What shall I do? I am deprived of all help. Socrates, who would insist on being a man of consequence among us, and is really a man of talents, and of a right way of thinking, is eternally besotted. Augustus is in the worst estimation imaginable. Alcibiades sits the day long with the vintner’s pretty wife, and there he sighs and pines. A few days ago, at Corinth, Tiberius attempted to ravish the wife of Democides, and her husband came in upon them. Good heavens! what Areopagitæ I have got. When the worthy man Marcus Aurelius comes to Athens (Munich) what will he think? What a meeting with dissolute immoral wretches, whore-masters, liars, bankrupts, braggarts, and vain fools! When he sees all this, what will he think? He will be ashamed to enter into an Association,” (observe, Reader, that Spartacus writes this in August 1783, in the very time that he was trying to murder Cato’s sister) “where the chiefs raise the highest expectations, and exhibit such a wretched example; and all this from self-will, from sensuality. Am I not in the right–that this man–that any such worthy man–whose name alone would give us the selection of all Germany–will declare that the whole province of Grecia (Bavaria) innocent and guilty, must be excluded. I tell you, we may study; and write, and toil till death. We may sacrifice to the Order, our health, our fortune, and our reputation (alas the loss!) and these Lords, following their own pleasures, will whore, cheat, steal, and drive on like shameless rascals; and yet must be Areopagiæ, and interfere in everything. Indeed, my dearest friend, we have only enslaved ourselves.”
In another part of this fine correspondence, Diomedes has had the good fortune to intercept a Q. L. (Quibus licet) in which it is said, and supported by proofs, that Cato had received 250 florins as a bribe for his sentence in his capacity as a judge in a criminal court; (the end had surely sanctified the means.) In another, a Minerval complains of his Mentor for having by lies occasioned the dismission of a physician from a family, by which he obtained the custom of the house and free access, which favor he repaid by debauching the wife; and he prays to be informed whether he may not get another Mentor, saying, that although that man had always given him the most excellent instructions, and he doubted not would continue them, yet he felt a disgust at the hypocrisy, which would certainly diminish the impression of the most salutary truths. (Is it not distressing to think, that this promising youth will by and by laugh at his former simplicity, and follow the steps and not the instructions of his physician.) In another place, Spartacus writes to Marius (in confidence) that another worthy Brother, an Areopagiæ, had stolen a gold and a silver watch, and a ring, from Brutus (Savioli) and begs Marius, in another letter, to try, while it was yet possible, to get the things restored, because the culprit was a most excellent man (Vortrefflich) and of vast use to the Order, having the direction of an eminent seminary of young gentlemen; and because Savioli was much in good company, and did not much care for the Order, except in so far as it gave him an opportunity of knowing and leading some of them, and of steering his way at court.
I cannot help inserting here, though not the most proper place, a part of a provincial report from Knigge, the man of the whole Areopagitæ who shows any thing like urbanity or gentleness of mind.
“Of my whole colony (Westphalia) the most brilliant is Claudiopolis (Neuwied.) There they work, and direct, and do wonders.”
If there ever was a spot upon earth where men may be happy in a state of cultivated society, it was the little principality of Neuwied. I saw it in 1770. The town was neat, and the palace handsome and in good taste; all was clean. But the country was beyond conception delightful; not a cottage that was out of repair, not a hedge out of order; it had been the hobby (pardon the word) of the Prince, who made it his daily employment to go through his principality regularly, and assist every householder, of whatever condition, with his advice, and with his purse; and, when a freeholder could not of himself put things into a thriving condition, the Prince sent his workmen and did it for him. He endowed schools for the common people, and two academies for the gentry and the people of business. He gave little portions to the daughters, and prizes to the well-behaving sons of the laboring people. His own household was a pattern of elegance and economy; his sons were sent to Paris to learn elegance, and to England to learn science and agriculture. In short, the whole was like a romance (and was indeed romantic.) I heard it spoken of with a smile at the table of the Bishop of Treves, at Ehrenbretstein, and was induced to see it next day as a curiosity: And yet even here, the fanaticism of Knigge would distribute his poison, and tell the blinded people, that they were in a state of sin and misery, that their Prince was a despot, and that they would never be happy till he was made to fly, and till they were all made equal.
They got their wish; the swarm of French locusts sat down on Neuwied’s beautiful fields in 1793, and entrenched themselves; and in three months, Prince and farmers houses, and cottages, and schools, and academies–all vanished; and all the subjects were made equal. But when they complained to the French General (Rene le Grand) of being plundered by his soldiers, he answered, with a contemptuous and cutting laugh, “All is ours — we have left you your eyes“ to cry — (Report to the Convention, 13 A June 1795.)Discite justitiam moniti, et non temnere divos!
Spartacus to Cato
“By this plan we shall direct all mankind. In this manner, and by the simplest means, we shall set all in motion and in flames. The occupations must be so allotted and contrived, that we may, in secret, influence all political transactions.” N. B. This alludes to a part that is withheld from the public, because it contained the allotment of the most rebellious and profligate occupations to several persons whose common names could not be traced. “I have considered,” says Spartacus, “everything, and so prepared it, that if the Order should this day go to ruin, I shall in a year re-establish it more brilliant than ever.” Accordingly it got up again in about this space of time, under the name of the GERMAN UNION, appearing in the form of READING SOCIETIES. One of these was set up in Zwack’s house; and this raising a suspicion, a visitation was made at Landshut, and the first set of the private papers were found. The scheme was, however, zealously prosecuted in other parts of Germany, as we shall see by and by. “Nor,” continues Spartacus, “will it signify though all should be betrayed and printed. I am so certain of success, in spite of all obstacles (for the springs are in every heart) that I am indifferent, though it should involve my life and my liberty. What! Have thousands thrown away their lives about homoios and homoiousios, and shall not this cause warm even the heart of a coward? But I have the art to draw advantage even from misfortune; and when you would think me sunk to the bottom, I shall rise with new vigor. Who would have thought, that a professor at Ingolstadt was to become the teacher of the professors of Gottingen, and of the greatest men in Germany?”
Spartacus to Cato
“Send me back my degree of Illuminatus Minor; it is the wonder of all men here (I may perhaps find time to give a translation of the discourse of reception, which contains all that can be said of this Association to the public;) as also the two last sheets of my degree, which is in the keeping of Marius, and Celsus, under 100 locks which contains my history of the lives of the Patriarchs.” N. B. Nothing very particular has been discovered of these lives of the Patriarchs. He says, that there were above sixty sheets of it. To judge by the care taken of it, it must be a favorite work, very hazardous, and very catching.
In another letter to Cato, we have some hints of the higher degrees, and concerning a peculiar morality, and a popular religion, which the Order was one day to give the world. He says, “There must (a la Jésuite) not a single purpose ever come in sight that is ambiguous, and that may betray our aims against religion and the state. One must speak sometimes one way and sometimes another, but so as never to contradict ourselves, and so that, with respect to our true way of thinking, we may be impenetrable. When our strongest things chance to give offence, they must be explained as attempts to draw answers which discover to us the sentiments of the person we converse with.” N. B. This did not always succeed with him.
Spartacus says, speaking of the priests degree, “One would almost imagine, that this degree, as I have managed it, is genuine Christianity, and that its end was to free the Jews from slavery. I say, that Free Masonry is concealed Christianity. My explanation of the hieroglyphics, at least, proceeds on this supposition; and as I explain things, no man need be ashamed of being a Christian. Indeed I afterwards throw away this name, and substitute Reason. But I assure you this is no small affair; a new religion, and a new state-government, which so happily explain one and all of these symbols, and combines them in one degree, You may think that this is my chief work; but I have three other degrees, all different, for my class of higher mysteries, in comparison with which this is but child’s play; but these I keep for myself as General, to be bestowed by me only on the Benemeritissimi,” (surely such as Cato, his dearest friend, and the possessor of such pretty secrets, as abortives, poisons, pestilential vapors, &c.) “The promoted may be Areopagites or not. Were you here I should give you this degree without hesitation. But it is too important to be entrusted to paper, or to be bestowed otherwise than from my own hand. It is the key to history, to religion, and to every state-government in the world.” * Spartacus proceeds, “There shall be but three copies for all Germany. You can’t imagine what respect and curiosity my priest-degree has raised; and, which is wonderful, a famous Protestant divine, who is now of the Order, is persuaded that the religion contained in it is the true sense of Christianity. O MAN, MAN! TO WHAT MAY’ST THOU NOT BE PERSUADED. Who would imagine that I was to be the founder of a new religion.” In this scheme of Masonic Christianity, Spartacus and Philo labored seriously together. Spartacus sent him the materials, and Philo worked them up. It will therefore illustrate this capital point of the constitution of the Order, if we take Philo’s account of it.
* I observe, in other parts of his correspondence where he speaks of this, several singular phrases, which are to be found in two books ; Antiquete devoilee par fes Usages , and Origins du Despotisme Oriental . These contain indeed much of the maxims inculcated in the reception discourse of the degree lllumanitus Minor . Indeed I have found, that Weishaupt is much less an inventor than he is generally thought.
Philo to Cato
“We must consider the ruling propensities of every age of the world. At present the cheats and tricks of the priests have roused all men against them, and against Christianity. But, at the same time superstition and fanaticism rule with unlimited dominion, and the understanding of man really seems to be going backwards. Our task, therefore, is doubled. We must give such an account of things, that fanatics shall not be alarmed, and that shall, notwithstanding, excite a spirit of free enquiry. We must not throw away the good with the bad, the child with the dirty water; but we must
make the secret doctrines of Christianity be received as the secrets of genuine Free Masonry. But farther, we have to deal with the despotism of Princes. This increases every day. But then, the spirit of freedom breathes and sighs in every corner; and, by the assistance of hidden schools of wisdom, Liberty and Equality, the natural and imprescriptible rights of man, warm and glow in every breast. We must therefore unite these extremes. We proceed in this manner. “Jesus Christ established no new Religion; he would only set Religion and Reason in their ancient rights. For this purpose he would unite men in a common bond. He would fit them for this by spreading a just morality, by enlightening the understanding, and by assisting the mind to shake off all prejudices. He would teach all men, in the first place, to govern themselves. Rulers would then be needless, and equality and liberty would take place without any revolution, by the natural and gentle operation of reason and expediency. This great Teacher allows himself to explain every part of the Bible in conformity to these purposes; and he forbids all wrangling among his scholars, because every man may there find a reasonable application to his peculiar doctrines. Let this be true or false, it does not signify. This was a simple Religion, and it was so far inspired; but the minds of his hearers were not fitted for receiving these doctrines. I told you, says he, but you could not bear it. Many therefore were called, but few were chosen. To these elect were entrusted the most important secrets; and even among them there were degrees of information. There was a seventy, and a twelve. All this was in the natural order of things, and according to the habits of the Jews, and indeed of all antiquity. The Jewish Theosophy was a mystery; like the Eleusinian, or the Pythagorean, unfit for the vulgar, And thus the doctrines of Christianity were committed to the Adepti, in a Disciplina Arcani. By these they were maintained, like the Vestal Fire. They were kept up, only in hidden societies, who handed them down to posterity; and they are now possessed by the genuine Free Masons.”
N. B. This explains the origin of many anonymous pamphlets which appeared about this time in Germany, showing that Free Masonry was Christianity. They have doubtless
been the works of Spartacus and his partisans among the Eclectic Masons. Nicholai, the great apostle of infidelity, had given very favorable reviews of these performances, and having always shown himself an advocate of such writers as depreciated Christianity, it was natural for him to take this opportunity of bringing it still lower in the opinion of the people. Spartacus therefore conceived a high opinion of the importance of gaining Nicholai to the Order. He had before this gained Leuchtsenring, a hot-headed fanatic, who had spied Jesuits in every corner, and set Nicholai on his journey through Germany, to hunt them out. This man finding them equally hated by the Illuminati, was easily gained, and was most zealous in their cause. He engaged Nicholai, and Spartacus exults exceedingly in the acquisition, saying, “that he was an unwearied champion, et quidem contentissimus.” Of this man Philo says, “that he had spread this Christianity into every corner of Germany. I have put meaning,” says Philo, “to all these dark symbols, and have prepared both degrees, introducing beautiful ceremonies, which I have selected from among those of the ancient communions, combined with those of the Rosaic Masonry; and now,” says he, “it will appear that we are the only true Christians. We shall now be in a condition to say a few words to Priests and Princes. I have so contrived things, that I would admit even Popes and Kings, after the trials which I have prefixed; and they would be glad to be of the Order.”
But how is all this to be reconciled with the plan of Illumination, which is to banish Christianity altogether. Philo himself in many places says, “that it is only a cloak, to prevent squeamish people from starting back.” This is done pretty much in the same way that was practiced in the French Masonry. In one of their degrees, the Master’s degree is made typical of the death of Jesus Christ, the preacher of Brotherly love. But in the next step, the Chevalier du Soleil, it is Reason that has been destroyed and entombed, and the Master in this degree, the Sublime Philosophe, occasions the discovery of the place where the body is hid. Reason tries again, and superstition and tyranny disappear, and all becomes clear; man becomes free and happy.
Let us hear Spartacus again.
Spartacus, in another place
“We must, 1st. gradually explain away all our preparatory pious frauds. And when persons of discernment find fault, we must desire them to consider the end of all our labor. This sanctifies our means, which at any rate are harmless, and have been useful, even in this case, because they procured us a patient hearing, when otherwise men would have turned away from us like petted children. This will convince them of our sentiments in all the intervening points; and our ambiguous expressions will then be interpreted into an endeavor to draw answers of any kind, which may show us the minds of our pupils. 2d. We must unfold, from history and other writings, the origin and fabrication of all religious lies whatever; and then, 3d. We give a critical history of the Order. But I cannot but laugh, when I think of the ready reception which all this has met with from the grave and learned divines of Germany and of England; and I wonder how their William failed when he attempted to establish a Deistical Worship in London (what can this mean?) for, I am certain, that it must have been most acceptable to that learned and free people. But they had not the enlightening of our days.” I may here remark, that Weishaupt is presuming too much on the ignorance of his friend, for there was a great deal of this enlightening in England at the time he speaks of, and if I am not mistaken, even this celebrated Professor of Irreligion has borrowed most of his scheme from this kingdom. This to be sure is nothing in our praise. But the PANTHEISTICON of Toland resembles Weishaupt’s Illumination in everything but its rebellion and its villainy. Toland’s Socratic Lodge is an elegant pattern for Weishaupt, and his Triumph of Reason, his Philosophic Happiness, his God, or Anima Mundi, are all so like the harsh system of Spartacus, that I am convinced that he has copied them, stamping them with the roughness of his own character. But to go on; Spartacus says of the English: “Their poet Pope made his Essay on Man a system of pure naturalism, without knowing it, as Brother Chrysippus did with my Priest’s Degree, and was equally astonished when this was pointed out to him. Chrysippus is religious, but not superstitious. Brother Lucian (Nicholai, of whom I have already said so much) says, that the grave Zolikofer now allows that it would be a very proper thing to establish a Deistical Worship at Berlin. I am not afraid but things will go on very well. But Philo, who was entrusted with framing the Priest’s Degree, has destroyed it without any necessity; it would, forsooth, startle those who have a hankering for Religion. But I always told you that Philo is fanatical and prudish. I gave him fine materials, and he has stuffed it full of ceremonies and child’s play, and as Minos says, c’est jouer la religion. But all this may be corrected in the revision by the Areopagitæ.”
N. B. I have already mentioned Baron Knigge’s conversion to Illuminatism by the M. de Constanza, whose name in the Order was Diomedes. Knigge (henceforth Philo) was, next to Spartacus, the most serviceable man in the Order, and procured the greatest number of members. It was chiefly by his exertions among the Masons in the Protestant countries, that the Eclectic System was introduced, and afterwards brought under the direction of the Illuminati. This conquest was owing entirely to his very extensive connections among the Masons. He travelled like a philosopher from city to city, from Lodge to Lodge, and even from house to house, before his Illumination, trying to unite the Masons, and he now went over the same ground to extend the Eclectic System, and to get the Lodges put under the direction of the Illuminati, by their choice of the Master and Wardens. By this the Order had an opportunity of noticing the conduct of individuals; and when they had found out their manner of thinking, and that they were fit for their purpose, they never quitted them till they had gained them over to their party. We have seen, that he was by no means void of religious impressions, and we often find him offended with the atheism of Spartacus. Knigge was at the same time a man of the world, and had kept good company. Weishaupt had passed his life in the habits of a college. Therefore he knew Knigge’s value, and communicated to him all his projects, to be dressed up by him for the taste of society. Philo was of a much more affectionate disposition, with something of a devotional turn, and was shocked at the hard indifference of Spartacus. After laboring four years with great zeal, he was provoked with the disingenuous tricks of Spartacus, and he broke off all connection with the Society in 1784, and sometime after published a declaration of all that he had done in it. This is a most excellent account of the plan and principles of the Order (at least as he conceived it, for Spartacus had much deeper views) and shows that the aim of it was to abolish Christianity, and all the state-governments in Europe, and to establish a great republic. But it is full of romantic notions and enthusiastic declamation, on the hackneyed topics of universal citizenship, and liberty and equality. Spartacus gave him line, and allowed him to work on, knowing that he could discard him when he chose. I shall after this give some extracts from Philo’s letters, from which the reader will see the vile behaviour of Spartacus, and the nature of his ultimate views. In the mean time we may proceed with the account of the principles of the system.
Spartacus to Cato.
“Nothing would be more profitable to us than a right history of mankind. Despotism has robbed them of their liberty. How can the weak obtain protection? Only by union; but this is rare. Nothing can bring this about but hidden societies. Hidden schools of wisdom are the means which will one day free men from their bonds. These have in all ages been the archives of nature, and of the rights of men; and by them shall human nature be raised from her fallen state. Princes and nations shall vanish from the earth. The human race will then become one family, and the world will be the dwelling of rational men.
“Morality alone can do this. The head of every family will be what Abraham was, the patriarch, the priest, and the unlettered lord of his family, and Reason will be the code of laws to all mankind. THIS,” says Spartacus, “is our GREAT SECRET. True, there may be some disturbance; but by and by the unequal will become equal; and after the storm all will be calm. Can the unhappy consequences remain when the grounds of dissension are removed? Rouse yourselves therefore, O men! assert your rights; and then will Reason rule with unperceived sway; and ALL SHALL BE HAPPY. *
“Morality will perform all this; and morality is the fruit of Illumination; duties and rights are reciprocal. Where Octavius has no right, Cato owes him no duty. Illumination shews us our rights, and Morality follows; that Morality which teaches us to be of age, to be out of wardenship, to be full grown, and to walk without the leading-strings of priests and princes.
“Jesus of Nazareth, the Grand Master of our Order, appeared at a time when the world was in the utmost disorder, and among a people who for ages had groaned under the yoke of bondage. He taught them the lessons of reason. To be more effective, he took in the aid of Religion–of opinions which were current–and, in a very clever manner, he combined his secret doctrines with the popular religion, and with the customs which lay to his hand. In these he wrapped up his lessons–he taught by parables. Never did any prophet lead men so easily and so securely along the road of liberty. He concealed the precious meaning and consequences of his doctrines; but fully disclosed them to a chosen few. He speaks of a kingdom of the upright and faithful; his Father’s kingdom, whose children we also are. Let us only take Liberty and Equality as the great aim of his doctrines, and Morality as the way to attain it, and everything in the New Testament will be comprehensible; and Jesus will appear as the Redeemer of slaves. Man is fallen from the condition of Liberty and Equality, the STATE OF PURE NATURE. He is under subordination and civil bondage, arising from the vices of man. This is the FALL, and ORIGINAL SIN. The KINGDOM OF GRACE is that restoration which may be brought about by Illumination and a just Morality. This is the NEW BIRTH. When man lives under government, he is fallen, his worth is gone, and his nature tarnished. By subduing our passions, or limiting their cravings, we may recover a great deal of our original worth, and live in a state of grace. This is the redemption of men–this is accomplished by Morality; and when this is spread over the world, we have THE KINGDOM OF THE JUST.
* Happy France! Cradle of Illumination, where the morning of Reason has dawned, dispelling the clouds of Monarchy and Christianity, where the babe has sucked the blood of the unenlightened, and Murder! Fire! Help! has been the lullaby to ring it to sleep.
“But alas! the task of self-formation was too hard for the subjects of the Roman empire, corrupted by every species of profligacy. A chosen few received the doctrines in secret, and they have been handed down to us (but frequently almost buried under rubbish of man’s invention) by the Free Masons. These three conditions of human society are expressed by the rough, the split and the polished stone. The rough stone, and the one that is split, express our condition under civil government; rough by every fretting inequality of condition; and split, since we are no longer one family; and are farther divided by differences of government, rank, property, and religion; but when reunited in one family, we are represented by the polished stone. G. is Grace; the Flaming Star is the Torch of Reason. Those who possess this knowledge are indeed ILLUMINATI. Hiram is our fictitious Grand Master, slain for the REDEMPTION OF SLAVES; the Nine Masters are the Founders of the Order. Free Masonry is a Royal Art, inasmuch as it teaches us to walk without trammels, and to govern ourselves.”
Reader, are you not curious to learn something of this all-powerful morality, so operative on the heart of the truly illuminated–of this disciplina arcani, entrusted only to the chosen few, and handed down to Professor Weishaupt, to Spartacus, and his associates, who have cleared it of the rubbish heaped on it by the dim-sighted Masons, and now beaming in its native luster on the minds of the Areopagitæ? The teachers of ordinary Christianity have been laboring for almost 2000 years, with the New Testament in their hands; many of them with great address, and many, I believe, with honest zeal. But alas! they cannot produce such wonderful and certain effects (for observe, that Weishaupt repeatedly assures us that his means are certain) probably for want of this disciplina arcani, of whose efficacy so much is said. Most fortunately, Spartacus has given us a brilliant specimen of the ethics which illuminated himself on a trying occasion, where an ordinary Christian would have been much perplexed, or would have taken a road widely different from that of this illustrious apostle of light. And seeing that several of the Areopagitæ co-operated in the transaction, and that it was carefully concealed from the profane and dim-sighted world, we can have no doubt but that it was conducted according to the disciplina arcani of Illumination. I shall give it in his own words.
Sparticus to Marius, September 1783.
“I am now in the most embarrassing situation; it robs me of all rest, and makes me unfit for everything. I am in danger of losing at once my honor and my reputation, by which I have long had such influence. What think you–my sister-in-law is with child. I have sent her to Euriphon, and am endeavoring to procure a marriage-license from Rome. How much depends on this uncertainty–and there is not a moment to lose. Should I fail, what is to be done? What a return do I make by this to a person to whom I am so much obliged! (we shall see the probable meaning of this exclamation by and by.) We have tried every method in our power to destroy the child; and I hope she is determined on everything–even d——. (Can this mean death?) But alas! Euriphon is, I fear, too timid (alas! poor woman, thou art now under the disciplina arcani) and I see no other expedient. Could I be but assured of the silence of Celsus (a physician at Ingoldstadt) he can relieve me, and he promised me as much three years ago. Do speak to him, if you think he will be staunch. I would not let Cato (his dearest friend, and his chief or only confidant in the scheme of Illumination) know it yet, because the affair in other respects requires his whole friendship. (Cato had all the pretty receipts.) Could you but help me out of this distress, you would give me life, honor, and peace, and strength to work again in the great cause. If you cannot, be assured I will venture on the most desperate stroke (poor sister!) for it is fixed.–I will not lose my honor. I cannot conceive what devil has made me to go astray–me who have always been so careful on such occasions. As yet all is quiet, and none know of it but you and Euriphon. Were it but time to undertake anything–but alas! it is the fourth month. These damned priests too–for the action is so criminally accounted by them, and scandalizes the blood. This makes the utmost efforts and the most desperate measures absolutely necessary.” It will throw some light on this transaction if we read a letter from Spartacus to Cato about this time. “One thing more, my dearest friend–Would it be agreeable to you to have me for a brother-in-law. If this should be agreeable, and if it can be brought about without prejudice to my honor, as I hope it may, I am not without hopes that the connection may take place. But in the meantime keep it a secret, and only give me permission to enter into correspondence on the subject with the good lady, to whom I beg you will offer my respectful compliments, and I will explain myself more fully to you by word of mouth, and tell you my whole situation. But I repeat it–the thing must be gone about with address and caution. I would not for all the world deceive a person who certainly has not deserved so of me.”
What interpretation can be put on this? Cato seems to be brother to the poor woman–he was unwittingly to furnish the drugs, and he was to be dealt with about consenting to a marriage, which could not be altogether agreeable to him, since it required a dispensation, she being already the sister-in-law of Weishaupt, either the sister of his former wife, or the widow of a deceased brother. Or perhaps Spartacus really wishes to marry Cato’s sister, a different person from the poor woman in the straw; and he conceals this adventure from his trusty friend Cato, till he sees what becomes of it. The child may perhaps be got rid of, and then Spartacus is a free man. There is a letter to Cato, thanking him for his friendship in the affair of the child–but it gives no light. I meet with another account, that the sister of Zwack threw herself from the top of a tower, and beat out her brains. But it is not said that it was an only sister; if it was, the probability is, that Spartacus had paid his addresses to her, and succeeded, and that the subsequent affair of his marriage with his sister-in-law or something worse, broke her heart. This seems the best account of the matter. For Hertel (Marius) writes to Zwack in November 1782: “Spartacus is this day gone home, but has left his sister-in-law pregnant behind (this is from Bassus Hoss.) About the new year he hopes to be made merry by a–; who will be before all kings and princes–a young Spartacus. The Pope also will respect him, and legitimate him before the time.”
Now, vulgar Christian, compare this with the former declaration of Weishaupt, in page 80, where he appeals to the tenor of his former life, which had been so severely scrutinized, without diminishing his high reputation and great influence, and his ignorance and abhorrence of all those things found in Cato’s repositories. You see this was a surprise–he had formerly proceeded cautiously.–“He is the best man,” says Spartacus, “who best conceals his faults.”–He was disappointed by Celsus, who had promised him his assistance on such occasions three years ago, during which time he had been busy in “forming himself.” How far he has advanced, the reader may judge.
One is curious to know what became of the poor woman: she was afterwards taken to the house of Baron Bassus; but here the foolish woman, for want of that courage which Illumination, and the bright prospect of eternal sleep should have produced, took fright at the disciplina arcani, left the house, and in the hidden society of a midwife and nurse brought forth a young Spartacus, who now lives to thank his father for his endeavors to murder him. A “damned priest,” the good Bishop of Freysingen, knowing the cogent reasons, procured the dispensation, and Spartacus was obliged, like another dim-sighted mortal, to marry her. The scandal was hushed, and would not have been discovered had it not been for these private writings.
But Spartacus says (page 84) “that when you think him sunk to the bottom, he will spring up with double vigor.” In a subsequent work called Short Amendment of my Plan, he says, “If men were not habituated to wicked manners, his letters would be their own justification.” He does not say that he is without fault; “but they are faults of the understanding–not of the heart. He had, first of all, to form himself; and this is a work of time.” In the affair of his sister-in-law he admits the facts, and the attempts to destroy the child; “but this is far from proving any depravity of heart. In his condition, his honor at stake, what else was left him to do? His greatest enemies, the Jesuits, have taught that in such a case it is lawful to make away with the child,” and he quotes authorities from their books.* “In the introductory fault he has the example of the best of men. The second was its natural consequence, it was altogether involuntary, and, in the eye of a philosophical judge (I presume of the Gallic School) who does not square himself by the harsh letters of a blood-thirsty lawgiver, he has but a very trifling account to settle. He had become a public teacher, and was greatly followed; this example might have ruined many young men. The eyes of the Order also were fixed on him. The edifice rested on his credit; had he fallen, he could no longer have been in a condition to treat the matters of virtue so as to make a lasting impression. It was chiefly his anxiety to support the credit of the Order which determined him to take this step. It makes for him, but by no means against him; and the persons who are most in fault are the slavish inquisitors, who have published the transaction, in order to make his character more remarkable, and to hurt the Order through his person; and they have not scrupled, for this hellish purpose, to stir up a child against its father ! ! !
* This is flatly contradicted in a pamphlet by F. Stuttler, a Catholic clergyman of most respectable character, who here exposes, in the most incontrovertible manner, the impious plots of Weishaupt, his total disregard to truth, his counterfeit antiques, and all ins lies against the Jesuits.
I make no reflections on this very remarkable, and highly useful story, but content myself with saying, that this justification by Weishaupt (which I have been careful to give in his own words) is the greatest instance of effrontery and insult on the sentiments of mankind that I have ever met with. We are all supposed as completely corrupted as if we had lived under the full blaze of Illumination.
In other places of this curious correspondence we learn that Minos, and others of the Areopagitæ, wanted to introduce Atheism at once, and not go hedging in the manner they did; affirming it was easier to show at once that Atheism was friendly to society, than to explain all their Masonic Christianity, which they were afterwards to show to be a bundle of lies. Indeed this purpose, of not only abolishing Christianity, but all positive religion whatever, was Weishaupt’s favorite scheme from the beginning. Before he canvassed for his Order, in 1774, he published a fictitious antique, which he called Sidonii Apollinaris Fragmenta, to prepare (as he expressly says in another place) men’s minds for the doctrines of Reason, which contains all the detestable doctrines of Robinet’s Systeme de la Nature. The publication of the second part was stopped. Weishaupt says, in his APOLOGY FOR THE ILLUMINATI, that before 1780 he had retracted his opinions about Materialism, and about the inexpediency of Princes. But this is false: Philo says expressly, that everything remained on its original footing in the whole practice and dogmas of the Order when he quitted it in July 1784. All this was concealed, and a even the abominable Masonry, in the account of the Order which Weishaupt published at Regensburg; and it required the constant efforts of Philo to prevent bare or flat Atheism from being uniformly taught in their degrees. He had told the council that Zeno would not be under a roof with a man who denied the immortality of the soul. He complains of Minos’s cramming irreligion down their throats in every meeting, and says, that he frightened many from entering the Order. “Truth,” says Philo, “is a clever, but a modest girl, who must be led by the hand like a gentlewoman, but not kicked about like a whore.” Spartacus complains much of the squeamishness of Philo; yet Philo is not a great deal behind him in irreligion. When describing to Cato the Christianity of the Priest-degree, as he had manufactured it, he says, “It is all one whether it be true or false, we must have it, that we may tickle those who have a hankering for religion.” All the odds seems to be, that he was of a gentler disposition, and had more deference even for the absurd prejudices of others. In one of his angry letters to Cato he says; “The vanity and self-conceit of Spartacus would have got the better of all prudence, had I not checked him, and prevailed on the Areopagitæ but to defer the development of the bold principles till we had firmly secured the man. I even wished to entice the candidate the more by giving him back all his former bonds of secrecy, and leaving him at liberty to walk out without fear; and I am certain that they were, by this time, so engaged that we should not have lost one man. But Spartacus had composed an exhibition of his last principles, for a discourse of reception, in which he painted his three favorite mysterious degrees, which were to be conferred by him alone, in colors which had fascinated his own fancy. But they were the colors of hell, and would have scared the most intrepid; and because I represented the danger of this, and by force obtained the omission of this picture, he became my implacable enemy. I abhor treachery and profligacy, and leave him to blow himself and his Order in the air.”
Accordingly this happened. It was this which terrified one of the four professors, and made him impart his doubts to the rest. Yet Spartacus seems to have profited by the apprehensions of Philo; for in the last reception, he, for the first time, exacts a bond from the entrant, engaging himself for ever to the Order, and swearing that he will never draw back. Thus admitted, he becomes a sure card. The course of his life is in the hands of the Order, and his thoughts on a thousand dangerous points; his reports concerning his neighbors and friends; in short, his honor and his neck. The Deist, thus led on, has not far to go before he becomes a Naturalist or Atheist; and then the eternal sleep of death crowns all his humble hopes.
Before giving an account of the higher degrees, I shall just extract from one letter more on a singular subject.
Minos to Sebastian, 1782.
“The proposal of Hercules to establish a Minerval school for girls is excellent, but requires much circumspection. Philo and I have long conversed on this subject. We cannot improve the world without improving women, who have such a mighty influence on the men. But how shall we get hold of them? How will their relations, particularly their mothers, immersed in prejudices, consent that others shall influence their education? We must begin with grown girls. Hercules proposes the wife of Ptolemy Magus. I have no objection; and I have four step-daughters, fine girls. The oldest in particular is excellent. She is twenty-four, has read much, is above all prejudices, and in religion she thinks as I do. They have much acquaintance among the young ladies their relations (N. B. we don’t know the rank of Minos, but as he does not use the word Damen, but Frauenzimmer, it is probable that it is not high.) It may immediately be a very pretty Society, under the management of Ptolemy’s wife, but really under his management. You must contrive pretty degrees, and dresses, and ornaments, and elegant and decent rituals. No man must be admitted. This will make them become more keen, and they will go much farther than if we were present, or than if they thought that we knew of their proceedings. Leave them to the scope of their own fancies, and they will soon invent mysteries which will put us to the blush, and create an enthusiasm which we can never equal. They will be our great apostles. Reflect on the respect, nay the awe and terror inspired by the female mystics of antiquity. (Think of the Danaids–think of the Theban Bacchantes.) Ptolemy’s wife must direct them, and she will be instructed by Ptolemy, and my step-daughters will consult with me. We must always be at hand to prevent the introduction of any improper question. We must prepare themes for their discussion–thus we shall confess them, and inspire them with our sentiments. No man however must come near them. This will fire their roving fancies, and we may expect rare mysteries. But I am doubtful whether this Association will be durable. Women are fickle and impatient. Nothing will please them but hurrying from degree to degree, through a heap of insignificant ceremonies, which will soon lose their novelty and influence. To rest seriously in one rank, and to be still and silent when they have found out that the whole is a cheat (hear the words of an experienced Mason) is a task of which they are incapable. They have not our motives to persevere for years, allowing themselves to be led about, and even then to hold their tongues when they find that they have been deceived. Nay there is a risk that they may take it into their heads to give things an opposite turn, and then, by voluptuous allurements, heightened by affected modesty and decency, which give them an irresistible empire over the best men, they may turn our Order upside down, and in their turn will lead the new one.”
Such is the information which may be got from the private correspondence. It is needless to make more extracts of every kind of vice and trick. I have taken such as show a little of the plan of the Order, as far as the degree of Illuminatus Minor, and the vile purposes which are concealed under all their specious declamation. A very minute account is given of the plan, the ritual, ceremonies, &c. and even the instructions and discourses, in a book called the Achte Illuminat, published at Edessa (Frankfurt) in 1787. Philo says, “that this is quite accurate, but that he does not know the author.” I proceed to give an account of their higher degrees, as they are to be seen in the book called Neueste Arbeitung des Spartacus and Philo. And the authenticity of the accounts is attested by Grollman, a private gentleman of independent fortune, who read them, signed and sealed by Spartacus and the Areopagitæ.
The series of ranks and progress of the pupil were arranged as follows:
The Reader must be almost sick of so much villainy, and would be disgusted with the minute detail, in which the cant of the Order is ringing continually in his ears. I shall therefore only give such a short extract as may fix our notions of the object of the Order, and the morality of the means employed for attaining it. We need not go back to the lower degrees, and shall begin with the ILLUMINATUS DIRIGENS, or SCOTCH KNIGHT.
After a short introduction, teaching us how the holy secret Chapter of Scotch Knights is assembled, we have, I. Fuller accounts and instructions relating to the whole. II. Instructions for the lower classes of Masonry. III. Instructions relating to Mason Lodges in general. IV. Account of a reception into this degree, with the bond which each subscribes before he can be admitted. V. Concerning the solemn Chapter for reception. VI. Opening of the Chapter. VII. Ritual of Reception, and the Oath. VIII. Shutting of
the Chapter. IX. Agapé, or Love Feast. X. Ceremonies of the consecration of the Chapter. Appendix A, Explanation of the Symbols of Free Masonry. B, Catechism for the Scotch Knight. C, Secret Cypher.
In No. I. it is said that the “chief study of the Scotch Knight is to work on all men in such a way as is most insinuating. II. He must endeavor to acquire the possession of considerable property. III. In all Mason Lodges we must try secretly to get the upper hand. The Masons do not know what Free Masonry is, their high objects, nor their highest Superiors, and should be directed by those who will lead them along the right road. In preparing a candidate for the degree of Scotch Knighthood, we must bring him into dilemmas by catching questions.–We must endeavor to get the disposal of the money of the Lodges of the Free Masons, or at least take care that it be applied to purposes favorable to our Order–but this must be done in a way that shall not be remarked. Above all, we must push forward with all our skill, the plan of Eclectic Masonry, and for this purpose follow up the circular letter already sent to all the Lodges with everything that can increase their present embarrassment.” In the bond of No. IV. the candidate binds himself to “consider and treat the Illuminati as the Superiors of Free Masonry, and endeavor in all the Mason Lodges which he frequents, to have the Masonry of the Illuminated, and particularly the Scotch Noviciate, introduced into the Lodge.” (This is not very different from the Masonry of the Chevalier de l’Aigle of the Rosaic Masonry, making the Master’s degree a sort of commemoration of the passion, but without giving that character to Christianity which is peculiar to Illuminatism.) Jesus Christ is represented as the enemy of superstitious observances, and the assertor of the Empire of Reason and of Brotherly love, and his death and memory as dear to mankind. This evidently paves the way for Weishaupt’s Christianity. The Scotch Knight also engages “to consider the Superiors of the Order as the unknown Superiors of Free Masonry, and to contribute all he can to their gradual union.” In the Oath, No. VII. the candidate says, “I will never more be a flatterer of the great, I will never be a lowly servant of princes; but I will strive with spirit, and with address, for virtue, wisdom, and liberty. I will powerfully oppose superstition, slander, and despotism; so, that like a true son of the Order, I may serve the world. I will never sacrifice the general good, and the happiness of the world, to my private interest. I will boldly defend my Brother against slander, will follow out the traces of the pure and true Religion pointed out to me in my instructions, and in the doctrines of Masonry; and will faithfully report to my Superiors the progress I make therein.”
When he gets the stroke which dubs him a Knight, the Preses says to him, “Now prove thyself, by thy ability, equal to Kings, and never from this time forward bow thy knee to one who is, like thyself, but a man.”
No. IX is an account of the Love-Feast.
1st, There is a Table Lodge, opened as usual, but in virtue of the ancient Master-word. Then it is said, “Let moderation, fortitude, morality, and genuine love of the Brethren, with the overflowing of innocent and careless mirth reign here.” (This is almost verbatim from Toland.)
2d, In the middle of a bye-table is a chalice, a pot of wine, an empty plate, and a plate of unleavened bread–All is covered with a green cloth.
3d, When the Table Lodge is ended, and the Prefect sees no obstacle, he strikes on this bye-table the stroke of Scotch Master, and his signal is repeated by the Senior Warden. All are still and silent. The Prefect lifts off the cloth.
4th, The Prefect asks, whether the Knights are in the disposition to partake of the Love-Feast in earnest, peace, and contentment. If none hesitates, or offers to retire, he takes the plate with the bread and says, “J. of N. our Grand-Master, in the night in which he was betrayed by his friends, persecuted for his love for truth, imprisoned, and condemned to die, assembled his trusty Brethren, to celebrate his last Love-Feast–which is signified to us in many ways. He took bread (taking it) and broke it (breaking it) and blessed it, and gave it to his disciples, &c.–This shall be the mark of our Holy Union, &c. Let each of you examine his heart, whether love reigns in it, and whether he, in full imitation of our Grand-Master, is ready to lay down his life for his Brethren. “Thanks be to our Grand-Master, who has appointed this feast as a memorial of his kindness, for the uniting of the hearts of those who love him.–Go in peace, and blessed be this new Association which we have formed.–Blessed be ye who remain loyal and strive for the good cause.”
5th, The Prefect immediately closes the Chapter with the usual ceremonies of the Loge de Table.
6th, It is to be observed, that no priest of the Order must be present at this Love-Feast, and that even the Brother Servitor quits the Lodge.
I must observe here, that Philo, the manufacturer of this ritual, has done it very injudiciously; it has no resemblance whatever to the Love-Feast of the primitive Christians, and is merely a copy of a similar thing in one of the steps of French Masonry. Philo’s reading in church-history was probably very scanty, or he trusted that the candidates would not be very nice in their examination of it, and he imagined that it would do well enough, and “tickle such as had a religious hankering.” Spartacus disliked it exceedingly–it did not accord with his serious conceptions, and he justly calls it Jouer la Religion.
The discourse of reception is to be found also in the secret correspondence (Nachtrag II. Abtheilung, p. 44). But it is needless to insert it here. I have given the substance of this and of all the Cosmo-political declamations already in the panegyric introduction to the account of the process of education. And in Spartacus’s letter, and in Philo’s I have given an abstract of the introduction to the explanation given in this degree of the symbols of Free Masonry. With respect to the explanation itself, it is as slovenly and wretched as can be imagined, and shows that Spartacus trusted to much more operative principles in the human heart for the reception of his nonsense than the dictates of unbiased reason. None but promising subjects were admitted thus far–such as would not boggle; and their principles were already sufficiently apparent to assure him that they would be contented with anything that made game of religion, and would be diverted by the seriousness which a chance devotee might exhibit during these silly caricatures of Christianity and Free Masonry. But there is considerable address in the way that Spartacus prepares his pupils for having all this mummery shown in its true colors, and overturned.
“Examine, read, think on these symbols. There are many things which one cannot find out without a guide nor even learn without instructions. They require study and zeal. Should you in any future period think that you have conceived a clearer notion of them, that you have found a paved road, declare your discoveries to your Superiors; it is thus that you improve your mind; they expect this of you; they know the true path–but will not point it out–enough if they assist you in every approach to it, and warn you when you recede from it. They have even put things in your way to try your powers of leading yourself through the difficult track of discovery. In this process the weak head finds only child’s play–the initiated finds objects of thought which language cannot express, and the thinking mind finds food for his faculties.” By such forewarnings as these Weishaupt leaves room for any deviation, for any sentiment or opinion of the individual that he may afterwards choose to encourage, and “to whisper in their ear (as he expresses it) many things which he did not find it prudent to insert in a printed compend.”
But all the principles and aim of Spartacus and of his Order are most distinctly seen in the third or Mystery Class. I proceed therefore to give some account of it. By the Table it appears to have two degrees, the Lesser and the Greater Mysteries, each of which have two departments, one relating chiefly to Religion and the other to Politics.
The Priest’s degree contains, 1. an Introduction. 2. Further Accounts of the Reception into this degree, 3. What is called Instruction in the Third Chamber, which the candidate must read over. 4. The Ritual of Reception. 5. Instruction for the First Degree of the Priest’s Class, called Instructio in Scientificis. 6. Account of the Consecration of a Dean, the Superior of this Lower Order of Priests.
The Regent degree contains, 1. Directions to the Provincial concerning the dispensation of this degree. 2. Ritual of Reception. 3. System of Direction for the whole Order. 4. In (trillion for the whole Regent degree. 5. Instruction for the Prefers or Local Superiors. 6. Instruction for the Provincials.
The most remarkable thing in the Priest’s degree is the Instruction in the Third Chamber. It is to be found in the private correspondence. (Nachtrage Original Schriften 1787, 2nd Abtheilung, page 44.) There it has the title Discourse to the Illuminati Dirigentes, or Scotch Knights. In the critical history, which is annexed to the Neueste Arbeitung, there is an account given of the reason for this denomination; and notice is taken of some differences between the instructions here contained and that discourse.
This instruction begins with sore complaints of the low condition of the human race; and the causes are deduced from religion and state-government. “Men originally led a patriarchal life, in which every father of a family was the sole lord of his house and his property, while he himself possessed general freedom and equality. But they suffered themselves to be oppressed–gave themselves up to civil societies, and formed states. Even by this they fell; and this is the fall of man, by which they were thrust into unspeakable misery. To get out of this state, to be freed and born again, there is no other mean than the use of pure Reason, by which a general morality may be established, which will put man in a condition to govern himself, regain his original worth, and dispense with all political supports, and particularly with rulers. This can be done in no other way but by secret associations, which will by degrees, and in silence, possess themselves of the government of the States, and make use of those means for this purpose which the wicked use for attaining their base ends. Princes and Priests are in particular, and kat’ exochen, the wicked, whose hands must tie up by means of these associations, if we cannot root them out altogether.
“Kings are parents. The paternal power ceases with the incapacity of the child; and the father injures his child, if he pretends to retain his right beyond this period. When a nation comes of age, their state of wardship is at an end.”
Here follows a long declamation against patriotism, as a narrow-minded principle when compared with true Cosmopolitism. Nobles are represented as “a race of men that serve not the nation but the Prince, whom a hint from the Sovereign stirs up against the nation, who are retained servants and ministers of despotism, and the mean for oppressing national liberty. Kings are accused of a tacit convention, under the flattering appellation of the balance of power, to keep nations in subjection.
“The mean to regain Reason her rights–to raise liberty from its ashes–to restore to man his original rights–to produce the previous revolution in the mind of man–to obtain an eternal victory over oppressors–and to work the redemption of mankind, is secret schools of wisdom. When the worthy have strengthened their association by numbers, they are secure, and then they begin to become powerful, and terrible to the wicked, of whom many will, for safety, amend themselves–many will come over to our party, and we shall bind the hands of the rest, and finally conquer them. Whoever spreads general illumination augments mutual security; illumination and security make princes unnecessary; illumination performs this by creating an effective Morality, and Morality makes a nation of full age fit to govern itself; and since it is not impossible to produce a just Morality, it is possible to regain freedom for the world.”
“We must therefore strengthen our band, and establish a legion, which shall restore the rights of man, original liberty and independence.
“Jesus Christ”–but I am sick of all this. The following questions are put to the candidate:
1. “Are our civil conditions in the world the destinations that seem to be the end of our nature, or the purposes for which man was placed on this earth, or are they not? Do
states, civil obligations, popular religion, fulfill the intentions of men who established them? Do secret associations promote instruction and true human happiness, or are they the children of necessity, of the multifarious wants, of unnatural conditions, or the inventions of vain and cunning men?”
2. “What civil association, what science do you think to the purpose, and what are not?”
3. “Has there ever been any other in the world, is there no other more simple condition, and what do you think of it?”
4. “Does it appear possible, after having gone through all the nonentities of our civil constitutions, to recover for once our first simplicity, and get back to this honorable uniformity?”
5. “How can one begin this noble attempt; by means of open support, by forcible revolution, or by what other way?”
6. “Does Christianity give us any hint to this purpose? does it not recognize such a blessed condition as once the lot of man, and as still recoverable?”
7. “But is this holy religion the religion that is now professed by any sect on earth, or is it a better?”
8. “Can we learn this religion–can the world, as it is, bear the light? Do you think that it would be of service, before numerous obstacles are removed, if we taught men this purified religion, sublime philosophy, and the art of governing themselves? Or would not this hurt, by rousing the interested passions of men habituated to prejudices, who would oppose this as wicked?”
9. “May it not be more advisable to do away these corruptions bit by bit, in silence, and for this purpose to propagate these salutary and heart-consoling doctrines in secret?”
10. “Do we not perceive traces of such a secret doctrine in the ancient schools of philosophy, in the doctrines and instructions of the Bible, which Christ, the Redeemer and Liberator of the human race, gave to his trusty disciples? Do you not observe an education, proceeding by steps of this kind, handed down to us from his time till the present?”
In the ceremonial of Reception, crowns and scepters are represented as tokens of human degradation. “The plan of operation, by which our higher degrees act, must work powerfully on the world, and must give another turn to all our present constitutions.”
Many other questions are put to the pupil during his preparation, and his answers are given in writing. Some of these rescripts are to be found in the secret correspondence. Thus, “How far is the position true, that all those means may be used for a good purpose which the wicked have employed for a bad?” And along with this question there is an injunction to take counsel from the opinions and conduct of the learned and worthy out of the society. In one of the answers, the example of a great philosopher and Cosmo-polite is adduced, who betrayed a private correspondence entrusted to him, for the service of freedom; the case was Dr. Franklin’s. In another, the power of the Order was extended to the putting the individual to death; and the reason given, was, that “this power was allowed to all Sovereignties, for the good of the State, and therefore belonged to the Order, which was to govern the world.”–“N. B. We must acquire the direction of education–of church-management–of the professorial chair, and of the pulpit. We must bring our opinions into fashion by every art–spread them among the people by the help of young writers. We must preach the warmest concern for humanity, and make people indifferent to all other relations. We must take care that our writers be well puffed, and that the Reviewers do not depreciate them; therefore we must endeavor by every mean to gain over the Reviewers and Journalists; and we must also try to gain the booksellers, who in time will see that it is their interest to side with us.”
I conclude this account of the degree of Presbyter with remarking, that there were two copies of it employed occasionally. In one of them all the most offensive things in respect of church and state were left out. The same thing was done in the degree of Chevalier du Soleil of the French Masonry. I have seen three different forms.
In the Regent degree, the proceedings and instructions are conducted in the same manner. Here, it is said, “We must as much as possible select for this degree persons who are free, independent of all princes; particularly such as have frequently declared themselves discontented with the usual institutions, and their wishes to see a better government established.”
Catching questions are put to the candidate for this degree; such as,
1. “Would the Society be objectionable which should (till the greater revolution of nature should be ripe) put monarchs and rulers out of the condition to do harm; which in silence prevents the abuse of power, by surrounding the great with its members, and thus not only prevents their doing mischief, but even makes them do good?”
2. “Is not the objection unjust, That such a Society may abuse its power. Do not our rulers frequently abuse their power, though we are silent? This power is not so secure as in the hands of our Members, whom we train up with so much care, and place about princes after mature deliberation and choice. If any government can be harmless which is erected by man, surely it must be ours, which is founded on morality, fore-sight, talents, liberty, and virtue,” etc…
The candidate is presented for reception in the character of a slave; and it is demanded of him what has brought him into this most miserable of all conditions. He answers–Society–the State–Submissiveness–False Religion. A skeleton is pointed out to him, at the feet of which are laid a Crown and a Sword. He is asked, whether that is the skeleton of a King, a Nobleman, or a Beggar? As he cannot decide, the President of the meeting says to him, “the character of being a Man is the only one that is of importance.”
In a long declamation on the hackneyed topics, we have here and there some thoughts which have not yet come before us.
“We must allow the underlings to imagine (but without telling them the truth) that we direct all the Free Mason Lodges, and even all other Orders, and that the greatest monarchs are under our guidance, which indeed is here and there the case.
“We must allow the underlings to imagine (but without telling them the truth) that we direct all the Free Mason Lodges, and even all other Orders, and that the greatest monarchs are under our guidance, which indeed is here and there the case. “There is no way of influencing men so powerfully as by means of the women. These should therefore be our chief study; we should insinuate ourselves into their good opinion, give them hints of emancipation from the tyranny of public opinion, and of standing up for themselves; it will be an immense relief to their enslaved minds to be freed from any one bond of restraint, and it will fire them the more, and cause them to work for us with zeal, without knowing that they do so; for they will only be indulging their own desire of personal admiration.
“We must win the common people in every corner. This will be obtained chiefly by means of the schools, and by open, hearty behavior, show, condescension, popularity, and toleration of their prejudices, which we shall at leisure root out and dispel. “If a writer publishes anything that attracts notice, and is in itself just, but does not accord with our plan, we must endeavor to win him over, or decry him.
“A chief object of our care must be to keep down that slavish veneration for princes which so much disgraces all nations. Even in the soi-disant free England, the silly Monarch says, We are graciously pleased, and the more simple people say, Amen. These men, commonly very weak heads, are only the farther corrupted by this servile flattery. But let us at once give an example of our spirit by our behavior with Princes; we must avoid all familiarity–never entrust ourselves to them–behave with precision, but with civility, as to other men–speak of them on an equal footing–this will in time teach them that they are by nature men, if they have sense and spirit, and that only by convention they are Lords. We must assiduously collect anecdotes, and the honorable and mean actions, both of the least and the greatest, and when their names occur in any records which are read in our meetings, let them ever be accompanied by these marks of their real worth.
“The great strength of our Order lies in its concealment; let it never appear in any place in its own name, but always covered by another name, and another occupation. None is fitter than the three lower degrees of Free Masonry; the public is accustomed to it, expects little from it, and therefore takes little notice of it. Next to this, the form of a learned or literary society is best suited to our purpose, and had Free Masonry not existed, this cover would have been employed; and it may be much more than a cover, it may be a powerful engine in our hands. By establishing reading societies, and subscription libraries, and taking these under our direction, and supplying them through our labors, we may turn the public mind which way we will.
In like manner we must try to obtain an influence in the military academies (this may be of mighty consequence) the printing-houses, booksellers shops, chapters, and in short in all offices which have any effect, either in forming, or in managing, or even in directing the mind of man: painting and engraving are highly worth our care.” *
“Could our Prefect (observe it is to the Illuminati Regentes he is speaking, whose officers are Prefecti) fill the judicatories of a state with our worthy members, he does all that man can do for the Order. It is better than to gain the Prince himself. Princes should never get beyond the Scotch knighthood. They either never prosecute anything, or they twist everything to their own advantage.
“A Literary Society is the most proper form for the introduction of our Order into any state where we are yet strangers.” (Mark this!)
* (They were strongly suspected of having, published some scandalous caricatures, and some very immoral prints.) They scrupled at no mean, however safe, for corrupting the nation. Mirabeau had done the same thing at Berlin. By political caricatures and filthy prints, they corrupt even such as cannot read.
“The power of the Order must surely be turned to the advantage of its Members. All must be assisted. They must be preferred to all persons otherwise of equal merit. Money, services, honor, goods, and blood, must be expended for the fully proved Brethren, and the unfortunate must be relieved by the funds of the Society.”
As evidence that this was not only their instructions, but also their assiduous practice, take the following report from the overseer of Greece (Bavaria.)
In Cato’s Hand-writing
“The number (about 600) of Members relates to Bavaria alone. “In Munich there is a well-constituted meeting of Illuminati Mejores, a meeting of excellent Illuminati Minores, a respectable Grand Lodge, and two Minerval Assemblies. There is a Minerval Assembly at Freyssing, at Landsberg, at Burghausen, at Strasburg, at Ingolstadt, and at last at Regensburg. * “At Munich we have bought a house, and by clever measures have brought things so far, that the citizens take no notice of it, and even speak of us with esteem. We can openly go to the house every day, and carry on the business of the Lodge. This is a great deal for this city. In the house is a good museum of natural history, and apparatus for experiments; also a library which daily increases. The garden is well occupied by botanic specimens, and the whole has the appearance of a society of zealous naturalists.
“We get all the literary journals. We take care, by well-timed pieces, to make the citizens and the Princes a little more noticed for certain little slips. We oppose the monks with all our might, and with great success.
* In this small turbulent city there were eleven secret societies of Masons, Rosicrucian’s, Clairvoyants, etc…
“The Lodge is constituted entirely according to our system, and has broken off entirely from Berlin, and we have nearly finished our transactions with the Lodges of Poland, and shall have them under our direction.
“By the activity of our Brethren, the Jesuits have been kept out of all the professorial chairs at Ingolstadt, and our friends prevail.”
“The Widow Duchess has set up her academy entirely according to our plan, and we have all the Professors in the Order. Five of them are excellent, and the pupils will be prepared for us.
“We have got Pylades put at the head of the Fisc, and he has the church-money at his disposal. By properly using this money, we have been enabled to put our Brother —‘s household in good order; which he had destroyed by going to the Jews. We have supported more Brethren under similar misfortunes.
“Our Ghostly Brethren have been very fortunate this last year, for we have procured for them several good benefices, parishes, tutorships, etc…
“Through our means Arminius and Cortez have gotten Professorships, and many of our younger Brethren have obtained Bursaries by our help.
“We have been very successful against the Jesuits, and brought things to such a bearing, that their revenues, such as the Mission, the Golden Alms, the Exercises, and the Conversion Box, are now under the management of our friends. So are also their concerns in the university and the German school foundations. The application of all will be determined presently, and we have six members and four friends in the Court. This has cost our senate some nights want of sleep.
“Two of our best youths have got journeys from the Court, and they will go to Vienna, where they will do us great service.
“All the German Schools, and the Benevolent Society, are at last under our direction.
“We have got several zealous members in the courts of justice, and we are able to afford them pay, and other good additions. “Lately, we have got possession of the Bartholomew Institution for young clergymen, having secured all its supporters. Through this we shall be able to supply Bavaria with fit priests.
“Lately, we have got possession of the Bartholomew Institution for young clergymen, having secured all its supporters. Through this we shall be able to supply Bavaria with fit priests.
“By a letter from Philo we learn, that one of the highest dignities in the church was obtained for a zealous Illuminatus, in opposition even to the authority and right of the Bishop of Spire, who is represented as a bigoted and tyrannical priest.”
Such were the lesser mysteries of the Illuminati. But there remain the higher mysteries. The system of these has not been printed, and the degrees were conferred only by Spartacus himself, from papers which he never entrusted to any person. They were only read to the candidate, but no copy was taken. The publisher of the Neueste Arbeitung says that he has read them (so says Grollman.) He says, “that in the first degree of MAGUS or PHILOSOPHUS, the doctrines are the same with those of Spinoza, where all is material, God and the world are the same thing, and all religion whatever is without foundation, and the contrivance of ambitious men.” The second degree, or REX, teaches, “that every peasant, citizen, and householder is a sovereign, as in the Patriarchal state, and that nations must be brought back to that state, by whatever means are conducible–peaceably, if it can be done; but, if not, then by force–for all subordination must vanish from the face of the earth.”
The author says further, that the German Union was, to his certain knowledge, the work of the Illuminati.
The private correspondence that has been published is by no means the whole of what was discovered at Landshut and Bassus Hoff, and government got a great deal of useful information, which was concealed, both out of regard to the families of the persons concerned, and also that the rest might not know the utmost extent of the discovery, and be less on their guard. A third collection was found under the foundation of the house in which the Lodge Theodor von guten Rath had been held. But none of this has appeared. Enough surely has been discovered to give the public a very just idea of the designs of the Society and its connections.
Lodges were discovered, and are mentioned in the private papers already published, in the following places.
I have picked up the names of the following members:
I have not been able to find who personated Minos, Euriphon, Celsius, Mahomet, Hercules, Socrates, Philippo Strozzi, Euclides, and some others who have been uncommonly active in carrying forward the great cause.
The chief publications for giving us regular accounts of the whole (besides the original writings) are,
1. Grosse Absicht des Illuminaten Ordens.
2. ——– Nachtrages (3.) an denselben.
3. Weishaupt’s improved System.
4. System des Ilium. Ordens aus dem Original-Schriften gezogen.
I may now be permitted to make a few reflections on the accounts already given of this Order, which has so distinctly concentrated the casual and scattered efforts of its prompters, the Chevaliers Bienfaisants, the Philalèthes, and Amis Réunis of France, and carried on the system of enlightening and reforming the world.
The great aim professed by the Order is to make men happy; and the means professed to be employed, as the only and surely effective, is making them good; and this is to be brought about by enlightening the mind, and freeing it from the dominion of superstition and prejudices. This purpose is effected by its producing a just and steady morality. This done, and becoming universal, there can be little doubt but that the peace of society will be the consequence–that government, subordination, and all the disagreeable coercions of civil governments will be unnecessary–and that society may go on peaceably in a state of perfect liberty and equality.
But surely it requires no angel from heaven to tell us that if every man is virtuous, there will be no vice; and that there will be peace on earth, and good will between man and man, whatever be the differences of rank and fortune; so that Liberty and Equality seem not to be the necessary consequences of this just Morality, nor necessary requisites for this national happiness. We may question, therefore, whether the Illumination which makes this a necessary condition is a clear and a pure light. It may be a false glare, showing the object only on one side, tinged with partial colors thrown on it by neighboring objects. We see so much wisdom in the general plans of nature, that we are apt to think that there is the same in what relates to the human mind, and that the God of nature accomplishes his plans in this as well as in other instances. We are even disposed to think that human nature would suffer by it. The rational nature of man is not contented with meat and drink, and raiment, and shelter, but is also pleased with exerting many powers and faculties, and with gratifying many tastes, which could hardly have any existence in a society where all are equal. We say that there can be no doubt that the pleasure arising from the contemplation of the works of art–the pleasure of intellectual cultivation, the pleasure of mere ornament, are rational, distinguish man from a brute, and are so general, that there is hardly a mind so rude as not to feel them. Of all these, and of all the difficult sciences, all most rational, and in themselves most innocent, and most delightful to a cultivated mind, we should be deprived in a society where all are equal. No individual could give employment to the talents necessary for creating and improving these ornamental comforts of life. We are absolutely certain that, even in the most favorable situations on the face of the earth, the most untainted virtue in every breast could not raise man to that degree of cultivation that is possessed by citizens very low in any of the states of Europe; and in the situation of most countries we are acquainted with, the state of man would be much lower: for, at our very setting out, we must grant that the liberty and equality here spoken of must be complete; for there must not be such a thing as a farmer and his cottager. This would be as unjust, as much the cause of discontent, as the gentleman and the farmer.
This scheme therefore seems contrary to the designs of our Creator, who has everywhere placed us in these situations of inequality that are here so much scouted, and has given us strong propensities by which we relish these enjoyments. We also find that they may be enjoyed in peace and innocence. And lastly, We imagine that the villain, who, in the station of a professor, would plunder a Prince, would also plunder the farmer if he were his cottager. The illumination therefore that appears to have the best chance of making mankind happy, is that which will teach us the Morality which will respect the comforts of cultivated Society, and teach us to protect the possessors in the innocent enjoyment of them; that will enable us to perceive and admire the taste and elegance of Architecture and Gardening, without any wish to sweep the gardens and their owner from off the earth, merely because he is their owner.
We are therefore suspicious of this Illumination, and apt to ascribe this violent antipathy to Princes and subordination to the very cause that makes true Illumination, and just Morality proceeding from it, so necessary to public happiness, namely, the vice and injustice of those who cannot innocently have the command of those offensive elegancies of human life. Luxurious tastes, keen desires, and unbridled passions, would prompt to all this, and this Illumination is, as we see, equivalent to them in effect. The aim of the Order is not to enlighten the mind of man, and show him his moral obligations, and by the practice of his duties to make society peaceable, possession secure, and coercion unnecessary, so that all may be at rest and happy, even though all were equal; but to get rid of the coercion which must be employed in place of Morality, that the innocent rich may be robbed with impunity by the idle and profligate poor. But to do this, an unjust casuistry must be employed in place of a just Morality; and this must be defended or suggested, by misrepresenting the true state of man, and of his relation to the universe, and by removing the restrictions of religion, and giving a superlative value to all those constituents of human enjoyment, which true Illumination shows us to be but very small concerns of a rational and virtuous mind. The more closely we examine the principles and practice of the Illuminati, the more clearly do we perceive that this is the case. Their first and immediate aim is to get the possession of riches, power, and influence, without industry; and, to accomplish this, they want to abolish Christianity; and then dissolute manners and universal profligacy will procure them the adherence of all the wicked, and enable them to overturn all the civil governments of Europe; after which they will think of farther conquests, and extend their operations to the other quarters of the globe, till they have reduced mankind to the state of one undistinguishable chaotic mass.
But this is too chimerical to be thought their real aim. Their Founder, I dare say, never entertained such hopes, nor troubled himself with the fate of distant lands. But it comes in his way when he puts on the mask of humanity and benevolence: it must embrace all mankind, only because it must be stronger than patriotism and loyalty, which stand in his way. Observe that Weishaupt took a name expressive of his principles. Spartacus was a gladiator, who headed an insurrection of Roman slaves, and for three years kept the city in terror. Weishaupt says in one of his letters, “I never was fond of empty titles; but surely that man has a childish soul who would not as readily chose the name of Spartacus as that of Octavius Augustus.” The names which he gives to several of his gang express their differences of sentiments. Philo, Lucian, and others, are very significantly given to Knigge, Nicholai, &c. He was vain of the name Spartacus, because he considered himself as employed somewhat in the same way, leading slaves to freedom. Princes and Priests are mentioned by him on all occasions in terms of abhorrence.
Spartacus employs powerful means. In the style of the Jesuits (as he says) he considers every mean as consecrated by the end for which it is employed, and he says with great truth,
“Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.”
To save his reputation, he scruples not to murder his innocent child, and the woman whom he had held in his arms with emotions of fondness and affection. But lest this should appear too selfish a motive, he says, “had I fallen, my precious Order would have fallen with me; the Order which is to bless mankind. I should not again have been able to speak of virtue so as to make any lasting impression. My example might have ruined many young men.” This he thinks will excuse, nay sanctify anything. “My letters are my greatest vindication.” He employs the Christian Religion, which he thinks a falsehood, and which he is afterwards to explode, as the mean for inviting Christians of every denomination, and gradually cajoling them, by clearing up their Christian doubts in succession, till he lands them in Deism; or, if he finds them unfit, and too religious, he gives them a Sta bene, and then laughs at the fears, or perhaps madness, in which he leaves them. Having got them this length, they are declared to be fit, and he receives them into the higher mysteries. But lest they should still shrink back, dazzled by the Pandemonian glare of Illumination which will now burst upon them, he exacts from them, for the first time, a bond of perseverance. But, as Philo says, there is little chance of tergiversation. The life and honor of most of the candidates are by this time in his hand. They have been long occupied in the vile and corrupting office of spies on all around them, and they are found fit for their present honors, because they have discharged this office to his satisfaction, by the reports which they have given in, containing stories of their neighbors, nay even of their own gang. They may be ruined in the world by disclosing these, either privately or publicly. A man who had once brought himself into this perilous situation durst not go back. He might have been left indeed in any degree of Illumination; and, if Religion has not been quite eradicated from his mind, he must be in that condition of painful anxiety and doubt that makes him desperate, fit for the full operation of fanaticism, and he may be engaged in the cause of God, “to commit all kind of wickedness with greediness.” In this state of mind, a man shuts his eyes, and rushes on. Had Spartacus supposed that he was dealing with good men, his conduct would have been the reverse of all this. There is no occasion for this bond from a person convinced of the excellency of the Order. But he knew them to be unprincipled, and that the higher mysteries were so daring, that even some of such men would start at them. But they must not blab.
Having thus got rid of Religion, Spartacus could with more safety bring into view the great aim of all his efforts–to rule the world by means of his Order. As the immediate mean for attaining this, he holds out the prospect of freedom from civil subordination. Perfect Liberty and Equality are interwoven with everything; and the flattering thought is continually kept up, that “by the wise contrivance of this Order, the most complete knowledge is obtained of the real worth of every person; the Order will, for its own sake, and therefore certainly, place every man in that situation in which he can be most effective. The pupils are convinced that the Order will rule the world. Every member therefore becomes a ruler.” We all think ourselves qualified to rule. The difficult task is to obey with propriety; but we are honestly generous in our prospects of future command. It is therefore an alluring thought, both to good and bad men. By this lure the Order will spread. If they are active in insinuating their members into offices, and in keeping out others (which the private correspondence shows to have been the case) they may have had frequent experience of their success in gaining an influence on the world. This must whet their zeal. If Weishaupt was a sincere Cosmo-polite, he had the pleasure of seeing “his work prospering in his hands.”
It surely needs little argument now to prove, that the Order of Illuminati had for its immediate object the abolishing of Christianity (at least this was the intention of the Founder) with the sole view of overturning the civil government, by introducing universal dissoluteness and profligacy of manners, and then getting the assistance of the corrupted subjects to overset the throne. The whole conduct in the preparation and instruction of the Presbyter and Regens is directed to this point. Philo says, “I have been at unwearied pains to remove the fears of some who imagine that our Superiors want to abolish Christianity; but by and by their prejudices will wear off, and they will be more at their ease. Were I to let them know that our General holds all Religion to be a lie, and uses even Deism, only to lead men by the nose.–Were I to connect myself again with the Free Masons, and tell them our designs to ruin their Fraternity by this circular letter (a letter to the Lodge in Courland)–Were I but to give the least hint to any of the Princes of Greece (Bavaria)–No, my anger shall not carry me so far.–An Order forsooth, which in this manner abuses human nature–which will subject men to a bondage more intolerable than Jesuitism.–I could put it on a respectable footing, and the world would he ours. Should I mention our fundamental principles (even after all the pains I have been at to mitigate them) so unquestionably dangerous to the world, who would remain? What signifies the innocent ceremonies of the Priest’s degree, as I have composed it, in comparison with your maxim, that we may use for a good end those means which the wicked employ for a base purpose?” Brutus writes, “Numenius now acquiesces in the mortality of the soul; but, I fear we shall lose Ludovicus Bavarus. He told Spartacus, that he was mistaken when he thought that he had swallowed his stupid Masonry. No, he saw the trick, and did not admire the end that required it. I don’t know what to do; a Sta bene would make him mad, and he will blow us all up.
“The Order must possess the power of life and death in consequence of our Oath; and with propriety, for the same reason, and by the same right, that any government in the world possesses it: For the Order comes in their place, making them unnecessary. When things cannot be otherwise, and ruin would ensue if the Association did not employ this mean, the Order must, as well as public rulers, employ it for the good of mankind; therefore for its own preservation. (N. B. Observe here the casuistry.) Nor will the political constitutions suffer by this, for there are always thousands equally ready and able to supply the place.”
We need not wonder that Diomedes told the Professors, “that death, inevitable death, from which no potentate could protect them, awaited every traitor of the Order;” nor that the French Convention proposed to take off the German Princes and Generals by sword or poison, etc…
Spartacus might tickle the fancy of his Order with the notion of ruling the world; but I imagine that his darling aim was ruling the Order. The happiness of mankind was, like Weishaupt’s Christianity, a mere tool, a tool which the Regentes made a joke of. But Spartacus would rule the Regentes; this he could not so easily accomplish. His despotism was insupportable to most of them, and finally brought all to light. When he could not persuade them by his own firmness, and indeed by his superior wisdom and disinterestedness in other respects, and his unwearied activity, he employed Jesuitical tricks, causing them to fall out with each other, setting them as spies on each other, and separating any two that he saw attached to each other, by making the one a Master of the other; and, in short, he left nothing undone that could secure his uncontrolled command. This caused Philo to quit the Order, and made Bassus, Von Torring, Kreitmaier, and several other gentlemen, cease attending the meetings; and it was their mutual dissentions which made them speak too freely in public, and call on themselves so much notice. At the time of the discovery, the party of Weishaupt consisted chiefly of very mean people, devoted to him, and willing to execute his orders, that by being his servants, they might have the pleasure of commanding others.
The objects, the undoubted objects of this Association, are surely dangerous and detestable; viz. to overturn the present constitutions of the European States, in order to introduce a chimera which the history of mankind shows to be contrary to the nature of man.
Naturam expellas furcâ, tamen usque recurret.
Suppose it possible, and done in peace, it could not stand, unless every principle of activity in the human mind be enthralled, all incitement to exertion and industry removed, and man brought into a condition incapable of improvement; and this at the expense of everything that is valued by the best of men–by misery and devastation–by loosening all the bands of society. To talk of morality and virtue in conjunction with such schemes, is an insult to common sense; dissoluteness of manners alone can bring men to think of it.
Is it not astonishing therefore, to hear people in this country express any regard for this institution? Is it not grieving to the heart to think that there are Lodges of Illuminated among us? I think that nothing bids fairer for weaning our inconsiderate countrymen from having any connection with them, than the faithful account here given. I hope that there are few, very few of our countrymen, and none whom we call friend, who can think that an Order which practiced such things can be anything else than a ruinous Association, a gang of profligates. All their professions of the love of mankind are vain; nay, their Illumination must be a bewildering blaze, and totally ineffectual for its purpose, for it has had no such influence on the leaders of the band; yet it seems quite adequate to the effects it has produced; for such are the characters of those who forget God.
If we in the next place attend to their mode of education, and examine it by those rulers of common sense that we apply in other cases of conduct, we shall find it equally unpromising. The system of Illuminatism is one of the explanations of Free Masonry; and it has gained many partisans. These explanations rest their credit and their preference on their own merits. There is something in themselves, or in one of them as distinguished from another, which procures it the preference for its own sake. Therefore, to give this Order any dependence on Free Masonry, is to degrade the Order. To introduce a Masonic Ritual into a manly institution is to degrade it to a frivolous amusement for great children. Men really exerting themselves to reform the world, and qualified for the task, must have been disgusted with such occupations. They betray a frivolous conception of the talk in which they are really engaged. To imagine that men engaged in the struggle and rival-ship of life, under the influence of selfish, or mean, or impetuous passions, are to he wheedled into candid sentiments, or a generous conduct, as a froward child may sometimes be made gentle and tractable by a rattle or a humming-top, betrays a great ignorance of human nature, and an arrogant self-conceit in those who can imagine that all but themselves are babies. The further we proceed, the more do we see of this want of wisdom. The whole procedure of their instruction supposes such a complete surrender of freedom of thought, of common sense, and of common caution, that it seems impossible that it should not have alarmed every sensible mind. This indeed happened before the Order was seven years old. It was wise indeed to keep their Areopagitæ out of sight; but who can be so silly as to believe that their unknown superiors were all and always faultless men. But had they been the men they were represented to be–if I have any knowledge of my own heart, or any capacity of drawing just inferences from the conduct of others, I am persuaded that the knowing his superiors would have animated the pupil to exertion, that he might exhibit a pleasing spectacle to such intelligent and worthy judges. Did not the Stoics profess themselves to be encouraged in the scheme of life, by the thought that the immortal Gods were looking on and passing their judgments on their manner of acting the part assigned them? But what abject spirit will be contented with working, zealously working, for years, after a plan of which he is never to learn the full meaning. In short, the only knowledge that he can perceive is knowledge in its worst form, Cunning. This must appear in the contrivances by which he will soon find that he is kept in complete subjection. If he is a true and zealous Brother, he has put himself in the power of his Superiors by his rescripts, which they required of him on pretense of their learning his own character, and of his learning how to know the characters of other men. In these rescripts
they have got his thoughts on many delicate points, and on the conduct of others. His Directors may ruin him by betraying him: and this without being seen in it. I should think that wise men would know that none but weak or bad men would subject themselves to such a task. They exclude the good, the manly, the only fit persons for assisting them in their endeavors to inform and to rule the world. Indeed I may say that this exclusion is almost made already by connecting the Order with Free Masonry. Lodges are not the resorts of such men. They may sometimes be found there for an hour’s relaxation. But these places are the haunts of the young, the thoughtless, the idle, the weak, the vain, or of designing Literati; and accordingly this is the condition of three-fourths of the Illuminati whose names are known to the public. I own that the reasons given to the pupil for prescribing these tasks are clever, and well adapted to produce their effect. During the flurry of reception, and the glow of expectation, the danger may not be suspected; but I hardly imagine that it will remain unperceived when the pupil sits down to write his first lesson. Mason Lodges, however, were the most likely places for finding and enlisting members. Young men, warmed by declamations teeming with the flimsy moral cant of Cosmopolitism, are in the proper frame of mind for this Illumination. It now appears also, that the dissentions in Free Masonry must have had great influence in promoting this scheme of Weishaupt’s, which was, in many particulars, so unpromising, because it presupposes such a degradation of the mind. But when the schismatics in Masonry disputed with warmth, trifles came to acquire unspeakable importance. The hankering after wonder was not in the least abated by all the tricks which had been detected, and the impossibility of the wished-for discovery had never been demonstrated to persons prepossessed in its favor. They still chose to believe that the symbols contained some important secret; and happy will be the man who finds it out. The more frivolous the symbols, the more does the heart cling to the mystery; and, to a mind in this anxious state, Weishaupt’s proffer was enticing. He laid before them a scheme which was somewhat feasible, was magnificent, surpassing our conceptions, but at the same time such as permitted us to expatiate on the subject, and even to amplify it at pleasure in our imaginations without absurdity. It does not appear to me wonderful, therefore, that so many were fascinated till they became at last regardless of the absurdity and inconsistency of the means by which this splendid object was to be attained. Hear what Spartacus himself says of hidden mysteries. “Of all the means I know to lead men, the most effectual is a concealed mystery. The hankering of the mind is irresistible; and if once a man has taken it into his head that there is a mystery in a thing, it is impossible to get it out, either by argument or experience. And then, we can so change notions by merely changing a word. What more contemptible than fanaticism; but call it enthusiasm; then add the little word noble, and you may lead him over the world. Nor are we, in these bright days, a bit better than our fathers, who found the pardon of their sins mysteriously contained in a much greater sin, viz. leaving their family, and going barefooted to Rome.”
Such being the employment, and such the disciples, should we expect the fruits to be very precious? No. The doctrines which were gradually unfolded were such as suited those who continued in the Cursus Academicus. Those who did not, because they did not like them, got a Sta bene; they were not fit for advancements. The numbers however were great; Spartacus boasted of 600 in Bavaria alone in 1783. We don’t know many of them; few of those we know were in the upper ranks of life; and I can see that it required much wheedling, and many letters of long worded German compliments from the proud Spartacus, to win even a young Baron or a Graf just come of age Men in an easy situation in life could not brook the employment of a spy, which is base, cowardly, and corrupting, and has in all ages and countries degraded the person who engages in it. Can the person be called wise who thus enslaves himself? Such persons give up the right of private judgment, and rely on their unknown Superiors with the blindest and most abject confidence. For their sakes, and to rivet still faster their own fetters, they engage in the most corrupting of all employments–and for what?–To learn something more of an order, of which every degree explodes the doctrine of a former one. Would it have hurt the young Illuminatus to have it explained to him all at once? Would not this fire his mind–when he sees with the same glance the great object, and the fitness of the means for attaining it? Would not the exalted characters of the Superior, so much excelling himself in talents, and virtue, and happiness (otherwise the Order is good for nothing) warm his heart, and fill him with emulation, since he sees in them, that what is so strongly preached to him is an attainable thing? No, no–it is all a trick; he must be kept like a child, amused with rattles, and stars, and ribands–and all the satisfaction he obtains is, like the Masons, the fun of seeing others running the same gauntlet. Weishaupt acknowledges that the great influence of the Order may be abused. Surely, in no way so easily or so fatally as by corrupting or seductive lessons in the beginning. The mistake or error of the pupil is undiscoverable by himself (according to the genuine principles of Illumination) for the pupil must believe his Mentor to be infallible–with him alone he is connected–his lessons only must he learn. Who can tell him that he has gone wrong–or who can set him right?
Here, therefore, there is confusion and deficiency. There must be some standard to which appeal can be made; but this is inaccessible to all within the pale of the Order; it is therefore without this pale, and independent of the Order–and it is attainable only by abandoning the Order. The QUIBUS LICET, the PRIMO, the SOLI, can procure no light to the person who does not know that he has been led out of the right road to virtue and happiness. The Superiors indeed draw much useful information from these reports, though they affect to stand in no need of it, and they make a cruel return.
All this is so much out of the natural road of instruction, that, on this account alone, we may presume that it is wrong. We are generally safe when we follow nature’s plans. A child learns in his father’s house, by seeing, and by imitating, and in common domestic education, he gets much useful knowledge, and the chief habits which are afterwards to regulate his conduct. Example does almost everything; and, with respect to what may be called living, as distinguishable from profession, speculation and argumentative instruction are seldom employed, or of any use. The indispensableness of mutual forbearance and obedience, for domestic peace and happiness, forms most of these habits; and the child, under good parents, is kept in a situation that makes virtue easier than vice, and he becomes wise and good without any express study about the matter.
But this Illumination plan is darkness over all–it is too artificial–and the topics, from which counsel is to be drawn, cannot be taken from the peculiar views of the Order–for these are yet a secret for the pupil–and must ever be a secret for him while under tuition. They must therefore be drawn from common sources, and the Order is of no use; all that can naturally be effectuated by this Association is the forming, and assiduously fostering a narrow, Jewish, corporation spirit, totally opposite to the benevolent pretensions of the Order. The pupil can see nothing but this, that there is a set of men, whom he does not know, who may acquire incontrollable power, and may perhaps make use of him, but for what purpose, and in what way, he does not know; how can he know that his endeavors are to make man happier, any other way than as he might have known it without having put this collar round his own neck?
These reflections address themselves to all men who profess to conduct themselves by the principles and dictates of common sense and prudence, and who have the ordinary share of candor and good will to others. It requires no singular sensibility of heart, nor great generosity, to make such people think the doctrines and views of the Illuminati false, absurd, foolish, and ruinous. But I hope that I address them to thousands of my countrymen and friends, who have much higher notions of human nature, and who cherish with care the affections and the hopes that are suited to a rational, a benevolent, and a high-minded being, capable of endless improvement.
To those who enjoy the cheering confidence in the superintendence and providence of God, who consider themselves as creatures whom he has made, and whom he cares for, as the subjects of his moral government, this Order must appear with every character of falsehood and absurdity on its countenance. What CAN BE MORE IMPROBABLE than this, that He, whom we look up to as the contriver, the maker, and director, of this goodly frame of things, should have so far mistaken his own plans, that this world of rational creatures should have subsisted for thousands of years, before a way could be found out, by which his intention of making men good and happy could be accomplished; and that this method did not occur to the great Artist himself, nor even to the wisest, and happiest, and best men upon earth; but to a few persons at Munich in Bavaria, who had been trying to raise ghosts, to change lead into gold, to tell fortunes, or discover treasures, but had failed in all their attempts; men who had been engaged for years in every whim which characterizes a weak, a greedy, or a gloomy mind. Finding all these beyond their reach, they combined their powers, and, at once, found out this infinitely more important SECRET–for secret it must still be, otherwise not only the Deity, but even those philosophers, will still be disappointed.
Yet this is the doctrine that must be swallowed by the Minervals and the Illuminati Minores, to whom it is not yet safe to disclose the grand secret, that there is no such superintendence of Deity. At last, however, when the pupil has conceived such exalted notions of the knowledge of his teachers, and such low notions of the blundering projector of this world, it may be no difficult matter to persuade him that all his former notions were only old wives tales. By this time he must have heard much about superstition, and how men’s minds have been dazzled by this splendid picture of a Providence and a moral government of the universe. It now appears incompatible with the great object of the Order, the principles of universal liberty and equality–it is therefore rejected without farther examination, for this reason alone. This was precisely the argument used in France for rejecting revealed religion. It was incompatible with their Rights of Man.
It is richly worth observing how this principle can warp the judgment, and give quite another appearance to the same object. The reader will not be displeased with a most remarkable instance of it, which I beg leave to give at length.
Our immortal Newton, whom the philosophers of Europe look up to as the honor of our species, whom even Mr. Bailly, the President of the National Assembly of France, and Mayor of Paris, cannot find words sufficiently energetic to praise; this patient, sagacious, and successful observer of nature, after having exhibited to the wondering world the characteristic property of that principle of material nature by which all the bodies of the solar system are made to form a connected and permanent universe; and after having shown that this law of action alone was adapted to this end, and that if gravity had deviated but one thousandth part from the inverse duplicate ratio of the distances, the system must, in the course of a very few revolutions, have gone into confusion and ruin–he sits down, and views the goodly scene–and then closes his Principles of Natural Philosophy with this reflection (his Scholium generale.):
“This most elegant frame of things could not have arisen, unless by the contrivance and the direction of a wise and powerful Being; and if the fixed stars are the centers of systems, these systems must be similar; and all these, constructed according to the same plan, are subject to the government of one Being. All these he governs, not as the soul of the world, but as the Lord of all; therefore, on account of his government, he is called the Lord God–Pantokrator; for God is a relative term, and refers to subjects. Deity is God’s government, not of his own body, as those think who consider him as the soul of the world, but of his servants. The supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect. But a being, however perfect, without government, is not God; for we say, my God, your God, the God of Israel. We cannot say my eternal, my infinite. We may have some notions indeed of his attributes, but can have none of his nature. With respect to bodies, we see only shapes and color–hear only sounds–touch only surfaces. These are attributes of bodies; but of their essence we know nothing. As a blind man can form no notion of colours, we can form none of the manner in which God perceives, and understands, and influences everything.”
“Therefore we know God only by his attributes. What are these? The wise and excellent contrivance, structure, and final aim of all things. In these his perfections we admire him, and we wonder. In his direction or government, we venerate and worship him–we worship him as his servants; and God, without dominion, without providence, and final aims, is Fate–not the object either of reverence, of hope, of love, or of fear.”
But mark the emotions which affected the mind of another excellent observer of Nature, the admirer of Newton, and the person who has put the finishing stroke to the Newtonian philosophy, by showing that the acceleration of the moon’s mean motion, is the genuine result of a gravitation decreasing in the precise duplicate ratio of the distance inversely; I mean Mr. Delaplace, one of the most brilliant ornaments of the French academy of sciences. He has lately published the Système du Monde a most beautiful compend of astronomy and of the Newtonian philosophy. Having finished his work with the same observation, “That a gravitation inversely proportional to the squares of the distances was the only principle which could unite material Nature into a permanent system;” he also sits down–surveys the scene–points out the parts which he had brought within our ken–and then makes this reflection: “Beheld in its totality, astronomy is the noblest monument of the human mind, its chief title to intelligence. But, seduced by the illusions of sense, and by self-conceit, we have long considered ourselves as the center of these motions; and our pride has been punished by the groundless fears which we have created to ourselves. We imagine, forsooth, that all this is for us, and that the stars influence our destinies! But the labors of ages have convinced us of our error, and we find ourselves on an insignificant planet, almost imperceptible in the immensity of space. But the sublime discoveries we have made richly repay this humble situation. Let us cherish these with care, as the delight of thinking beings–they have destroyed our mistakes as to our relation to the rest of the universe; errors which were the more fatal, because the social Order depends on justice and truth alone. Far be from us the dangerous maxim, that it is sometimes useful to depart from these, and to deceive men, in order to insure their happiness; but cruel experience has shewn us that these laws are never totally extinct.”
There can be no doubt as to the meaning of these last words–they cannot relate to astrology–this was entirely out of date. The “attempts to deceive men, in order to insure their happiness,” can only be those by which we are made to think too highly of ourselves. “Inhabitants of this pepper-corn, we think ourselves the peculiar favorites of Heaven, nay, the chief objects of care to a Being, the Maker of all; and then we imagine that, after this life, we are to be happy or miserable, according as we accede or not to this subjugation to opinions which enslave us. But truth and justice have broken these bonds.”–But where is the force of the argument which entitles this perfecter of the Newtonian philosophy to exult so much? It all rests on this, That this earth is but as a grain of mustard-seed. Man would be more worth attention had he inhabited Jupiter or the Sun. Thus may a Frenchman look down on the noble creatures who inhabit Orolong or Pelew. But whence arises the absurdity of the intellectual inhabitants of this pepper-corn being a proper object of attention? it is because our shallow comprehensions cannot, at the same glance, see an extensive scene, and perceive its most minute detail.
David, a King, and a soldier had some notions of this kind. The heavens, it is true, pointed out to him a Maker and Ruler, which is more than they seem to have done to the Gallic philosopher; but David was afraid that he would be forgotten in the crowd, and cries out, “Lord! what is man, that thou art mindful of him?” But David gets rid of his fears, not by becoming a philosopher, and discovering all this to be absurd–he would still be forgotten–he at once thinks of what he is–a noble creature–high in the scale of nature. “But,” says he, “I had forgotten myself. Thou hast made man but a little lower than the angels–thou hast crowned him with glory and honor–thou hast put all things under his feet.” Here are exalted sentiments, fit for the creature whose ken pierces through the immensity of the visible universe, and who sees his relation to the universe, being nearly allied to its Sovereign, and capable of rising continually in his rank, by cultivating those talents which distinguish and adorn it.
Thousands, I trust, there are, who think that this life is but a preparation for another, in which the mind of man will have the whole wonders of creation and of providence laid open to its enraptured view, where it will see and comprehend with one glance what Newton, the most patient and successful of all the observers of nature, took years of meditation to find out–where it will attain that pitch of wisdom, goodness, and enjoyment, of which our consciences tell us we are capable, tho’ it far surpasses that of the wisest, the best, and the happiest of men. Such persons will consider this Order as degrading and detestable, and as in direct opposition to their most confident expectations: For it pretends to what is impossible, to perfect peace and happiness in this life. They believe, and they feel, that man must be made perfect through sufferings, which shall call into action powers of mind that otherwise would never have unfolded themselves–powers which are frequently sources of the purest and most soothing pleasures, and naturally make us rest our eyes and hopes on that state where every tear shall be wiped away, and where the kind affections shall become the never-failing sources of pure and unfading delight. Such persons see the palpable absurdity of a preparation which is equally necessary for all, and yet must be confined to the minds of a few, who have the low and indelicate appetite for frivolous play-things, and for gross sensual pleasures. Such minds will turn away from this boasted treat with loathing and abhorrence.
I am well aware that some of my readers may smile at this, and think it an enthusiastical working up of the imagination, similar to what I reprobate in the case of Utopian happiness in a state of universal Liberty and Equality. It is like, they will say, to the declamation in a sermon by persons of the trade, who are trained up to finesse, by which they allure and tickle weak minds. I acknowledge, that in the present case, I do not address myself to the cold hearts, who contentedly
“Sink and slumber in their cells of clay;”
–Peace to all such; but to the “felices animæ, quibus hæc cognoscere cura;”–to those who have enjoyed the pleasures of science, who have been successful–who have made discoveries–who have really illuminated the world– to the Bacons, the Newtons, the Lockes.–Allow me to mention one, Daniel Bernoulli, the most elegant mathematician, the only philosopher, and the most worthy man, of that celebrated family. He said to a gentleman (Dr. Staehling) who repeated it to me, that “when reading some of those wonderful guesses of Sir Isaac Newton, the subsequent demonstration of which has been the chief source of fame to his most celebrated commentators–his mind has sometimes been so overpowered by thrilling emotions, that he has wished that moment to be his last; and that it was this which gave him the clearest conception of the happiness of heaven.” If such delightful emotions could be excited by the perception of mere truth, what must they be when each of these truths is an instance of wisdom, and when we recollect, that what we call wisdom in the works of nature, is always the nice adaptation of means for producing beneficent ends; and that each of these affecting qualities is susceptible of degrees which are boundless, and exceed our highest conceptions. What can this complex emotion or feeling be but rapture? But Bernoulli is a Doctor of Theology–and therefore a suspicious person, perhaps one of the combination hired by despots to enslave us. I will take another man, a gentleman of rank and family, a soldier, who often signalized himself as a naval commander–who at one time forced his way through a powerful fleet of the Venetians with a small squadron, and brought relief to a distressed garrison. I would desire the reader to peruse the conclusion of Sir Kenhelm Digby’s Treatises on Body and Mind; and after having reflected on the state of science at the time this author wrote, let him coolly weigh the incitements to manly conduct which this soldier finds in the differences observed between body and mind; and then let him say, on his conscience, whether they are more feeble than those which he can draw from the eternal sleep of death. If he thinks that they are–he is in the proper frame for initiation into Spartacus’s higher mysteries. He may be either MAGUS or REX.
Were this a proper place for considering the question as a question of science or truth, I would say, that every man who has been a successful student of nature, and who will rest his conclusions on the same maxims of probable reasoning that have procured him success in his past researches, will consider it as next to certain that there is another state of existence for rational man. For he must own, that if this be not the case, there is a most singular exception to a proposition which the whole course of his experience has made him consider as a truth founded on universal induction, viz. that nature accomplishes all her plans, and that every class of beings attains all the improvement of which it is capable. Let him but turn his thoughts inward, he will feel that his intellect is capable of improvement, in comparison with which Newton is but a child. I could pursue this argument very far, and (I think) warm the heart of every man whom I should wish to call my friend.
What opinion will be formed of this Association by the modest, the lowly-minded, the candid, who acknowledge that they too often feel the superior force of present and sensible pleasures, by which their minds are drawn off from the contemplation of what their consciences tell them to be right–to be their dutiful and filial sentiments and emotions respecting their great and good Parent–to be their dutiful and neighborly affections, and their proper conduct to all around them–and which diminish their veneration for that purity of thought and moderation of appetite which becomes their noble natures. What must they think of this Order? Conscious of frequent faults, which would offend themselves if committed by their dearest children, they look up to their Maker with anxiety–are sorry for having so far forgotten their duty, and fearful that they may again forget it. Their painful experience tells them that their reason is often too weak, their information too scanty, or its light is obstructed by passion and prejudices, which distort and discolor everything; or it is unheeded during their attention to present objects. Happy should they be, if it should please their kind Parent to remind them of their duty from time to time, or to influence their mind in any way that would compensate for their own ignorance, their own weakness, or even their indolence and neglect. They dare not expect such a favor, which their modesty tells them they do not deserve, and which they fear may be unfit to be granted; but when such a comfort is held out to them, with eager hearts they receive it–they bless the kindness that granted it, and the hand that brings it.–Such amiable characters have appeared in all ages, and in all situations of mankind. They have not in all instances been wise–often have they been precipitate, and have too readily catched at anything which pretended to give them the so much wished-for assistances; and, unfortunately, there have been enthusiasts, or villains, who have taken advantage of this universal wish of anxious man; and the world has been darkened by cheats, who have misrepresented God to mankind, have filled us with vain terrors, and have then quieted our fears by fines, and sacrifices, and mortifications, and services, which they said made more than amends for all our faults. Thus was our duty to our neighbor, to our own dignity, and to our Maker and Parent, kept out of sight, and religion no longer came in aid to our sense of right and wrong; but, on the contrary, by these superstitions it opened the doors of heaven to the worthless and the wicked.–But I wish not to speak of these men, but of the good, the candid, the MODEST, the HUMBLE who know their failings, who love their duties, but wish to know, to perceive, and to love them still more. These are they who think and believe that “the Gospel has brought life and immortality to light,” that is, within their reach. They think it worthy of the Father of mankind, and they receive it with thankful hearts, admiring above all things the simplicity of its morality, comprehended in one sentence, “Do to another what you can reasonably wish that another should do to you,” and THAT PURITY OF THOUGHT AND MANNERS WHICH DISTINGUISHES IT FROM ALL THE SYSTEMS OF MORAL INSTRUCTION THAT HAVE EVER BEEN OFFERED TO MEN. Here they find a ground of resignation under the troubles of life, and a support in the hour of death, quite suited to the diffidence of their character. Such men are ready to grant that the Stoics were persons of noble and exalted minds, and that they had worthy conceptions of the rank of man in the scale of God’s works; but they confess that they themselves do not feel all that support from Stoical principles which man too frequently needs; and they say that they are not singular in their opinions, but that the bulk of mankind are prevented, by their want of heroic fortitude, by their situation, or their want of the opportunities of cultivating their native strength of mind, from ever attaining this hearty submission to the will of Deity.–They maintain, that the Stoics were but a few, a very few, from among many millions–and therefore their being satisfied was but a trifle amidst the general discontent, and fretting, and despair.–Such men will most certainly start back from this Illumination with horror and fright–from a Society which gives the lie to their fondest hopes, makes a sport of their grounds of hope, and of their deliverer; and which, after laughing at their credulity, bids them shake off all religion whatever, and denies the existence of that Supreme Mind, the pattern of all excellence, who till now had filled their thoughts with admiration and love–from an Order which pretends to free them from spiritual bondage, and then lays on their necks a load ten times more oppressive and intolerable, from which they have no power of ever escaping. Men of sense and virtue will spurn at such a proposal; and even the profligate, who trade with Deity, must be sensible that they will be better off with their priests, whom they know, and among whom they may make a selection of such as will with patience and gentleness clear up their doubts, calm their fears, and encourage their hopes.
And all good men, all lovers of peace and of justice, will abhor and reject the thought of overturning the present constitution of things, faulty as it may he, merely in the endeavor to establish another, which the vices of mankind may subvert again in a twelvemonth. They must see, that in order to gain their point, the proposers have found it necessary to destroy the grounds of morality, by permitting the most wicked means for accomplishing any end that our fancy, warped by passion or interest, may represent to us as of great importance. They see, that instead of morality, vice must prevail, and that therefore there is no security for the continuance of this Utopian felicity; and, in the meantime, desolation and misery must lay the world waste during the struggle, and half of those for whom we are striving will be swept from the face of the earth. We have but to look to France, where in eight years there have been more executions and spoliations and distresses of every kind by the pouvoir revolutionnaire, than can be found in the long records of that despotic monarchy.
There is nothing in the whole constitution of the Illuminati that strikes me with more horror than the proposals of Hercules and Minos to enlist the women in this shocking
warfare with all that “is good, and pure, and lovely, and of good report.” They could not have fallen on any expedient that will be more effectual and fatal. If any of my countrywomen shall honor these pages with a reading, I would call on them, in the most earnest manner, to consider this as an affair of the utmost importance to themselves. I would conjure them by the regard they have for their own dignity, and for their rank in society, to join against these enemies of human nature, and profligate degraders of the sex; and I would assure them that the present state of things almost puts it in their power to be the saviors of the world. But if they are remiss, and yield to the seduction, they will fall from that high state to which they have arisen in Christian Europe, and again sink into that insignificancy or slavery in which the sex is found in all ages and countries out of the hearing of Christianity.
I hope that my countrywomen will consider this solemn address to them as a proof of the high esteem in which I hold them. They will not be offended then if, in this season of alarm and anxiety, when I wish to impress their minds with a serious truth, I shall wave ceremony which is always designing, and speak of them in honest but decent plainness.
Man is immersed in luxury. Our accommodations are now so numerous that everything is pleasure. Even in very sober situations in this highly cultivated Society, there is hardly a thing that remains in the form of a necessary of life, or even of a mere conveniency–everything is ornamented–it must not appear of use–it must appear as giving some sensible pleasure. I do not say this by way of blaming–it is nature–man is a refining creature, and our most boasted acquirements are but refinements on our necessary wants. Our hut becomes a palace, our blanket a fine dress, and our arts become sciences. This discontent with the natural condition of things, and this disposition to refinement, is a characteristic of our species, and is the great employment of our lives. The direction which this propensity chances to take in any age or nation, marks its character in the most conspicuous and interesting manner. All have it in some degree, and it is very conceivable that, in some, it may constitute the chief object of attention. If this be the case in any nations, it is surely most likely to be so in those where the accommodations of life are the most numerous–therefore in a rich and luxurious nation. I may surely, without exaggeration or reproach, give that appellation to our own nation at this moment. If you do not go to the very lowest class of people, who must labor all day, is it not the chief object of all to procure perceptible pleasure in one way or another? The sober and busy struggle in the thoughts and hopes of getting the means of enjoying the comforts of life without farther labor–and many have no other object than pleasure.
Then let us reflect that it is woman that is to grace the whole–It is in nature, it is the very constitution of man, that woman, and everything connected with woman, must appear as the ornament of life. That this mixes with every other social sentiment, appears from the conduct of our species in all ages and in every situation. This I presume would be the case, even though there were no qualities or talents in the sex to justify it. This sentiment respecting the sex is necessary, in order to rear so helpless, so nice, and so improvable a creature as man; without it, the long abiding task could not be performed:–and I think that I may venture to say that it is performed in the different states of society nearly in proportion as this preparatory and indispensable sentiment is in force.
On the other hand, I think it no less evident that it is the desire of the women to be agreeable to the men, and that they will model themselves according to what they think will please. Without this adjustment of sentiments by nature, nothing would go on. We never observe any such want of symmetry in the works of God. If, therefore, those who take the lead, and give the fashion in society, were wise and virtuous, I have no doubt but that the women would set the brightest pattern of every thing that is excellent. But if the men are nice and fastidious sensualists, the women will be refined and elegant voluptuaries.
There is no deficiency in the female mind, either in talents or in dispositions; nor can we say with certainty that there is any subject of intellectual or moral discussion in which women have not excelled. If the delicacy of their constitution, and other physical causes, allow the female sex a smaller share of some mental powers, they possess others in a superior degree, which are no less respectable in their own nature, and of as great importance to society. Instead of descanting at large on their powers of mind, and supporting my assertions by the instances of a Hypatia, a Schurman, a Zenobia, an Elisabeth, etc… I may repeat the account given of the sex by a person of uncommon experience, who saw them without disguise, or any motive that could lead them to play a feigned part.–Mr. Ledyard, who traversed the greatest part of the world, for the mere indulgence of his taste for observation of human nature; generally in want, and often in extreme misery.
“I have (says he) always remarked that women, in all countries, are civil, obliging, tender, and humane; that they are ever inclined to be gay and cheerful, timorous and modest; and that they do not hesitate, like man, to perform a kind or generous action.–Not haughty, not arrogant, not supercilious, they are full of courtesy, and fond of society–more liable in general to err than man, but in general, also, more virtuous, and performing more good actions than he. To a woman, whether civilized or savage, I never addressed myself in the language of decency and friendship, without receiving a decent and friendly answer–with man it has often been otherwise.
In wandering over the barren plains of inhospitable Denmark, through honest Sweden, and frozen Lapland, rude and churlish Finland, unprincipled Russia, and the wide spread regions of the wandering Tartar–if hungry, dry, cold, wet, or sick, the women have ever been friendly to me, and uniformly so; and to add to this virtue (so worthy of the appellation of benevolence) these actions have been performed in so free and so kind a manner, that if I was thirsty, I drank the sweetest draught, and if hungry, I ate the coarse meal with a double relish.”
And these are they whom Weishaupt would corrupt! One of these, whom he had embraced with fondness, would he have murdered, to save his honor, and qualify himself to preach virtue! But let us not be too severe on Weishaupt–let us wash ourselves clear of all stain before we think of reprobating him. Are we not guilty in some degree, when we do not cultivate in the women those powers of mind, and those dispositions of heart, which would equally dignify them in every station as in those humble ranks in which Mr. Ledyard most frequently saw them? I cannot think that we do this. They are not only to grace the whole of cultivated society, but it is in their faithful and affectionate personal attachment that we are to find the sweetest pleasures that life can give. Yet in all the situations where the manner in which they are treated is not dictated by the stern laws of necessity, are they not trained up for mere amusement–are not serious occupations considered as a task which hurts their loveliness? What is this but selfishness, or as if they had no virtues worth cultivating? Their business is supposed to be the ornamenting themselves, as if nature did not dictate this to them already, with at least as much force as is necessary. Everything is prescribed to them because it makes them more lovely–even their moral lessons are enforced by this argument, and Miss Woolstoncroft is perfectly right when she says that the fine lessons given to young women by Fordyce or Rousseau are nothing but selfish and refined voluptuousness. This advocate of her sex puts her sisters in the proper point of view, when she tells them that they are, like man, the subjects of God’s moral government–like man, preparing themselves for boundless improvement in a better state of existence. Had she adhered to this view of the matter, and kept it constantly in sight, her book (which doubtless contains many excellent things, highly deserving of their serious consideration) would have been a most valuable work. She justly observes, that the virtues of the sex are great and respectable, but that in our mad chase of pleasure, only pleasure, they are little thought of or attended to. Man trusts to his own uncontrollable power, or to the general goodness of the sex, that their virtues will appear when we have occasion for them;–“but we will send for these some other time;”–Many noble displays do they make of the most difficult attainments. Such is the patient bearing up under misfortunes, which has no brilliancy to support it in the effort. This is more difficult than braving danger in an active and conspicuous situation. How often is a woman left with a family and the shattered remains of a fortune, lost perhaps by dissipation or by indolence and how seldom, how very seldom, do we see woman shrink from the task, or discharge it with negligence? Is it not therefore folly next to madness, not to be careful of this our greatest blessing–of things which so nearly concern our peace–nor guard ourselves, and these our best companions and friends, from the effects of this fatal Illumination? It has indeed brought to light what dreadful lengths men will go, when under the fanatical and dazzling glare of happiness in a state of liberty and equality, and spurred on by insatiable luxury, and not held in check by moral feelings and the restraints of religion–and mark, reader, that the women have here also taken the complexion of the men, and have even gone beyond them. If we have seen a son present himself to the National Assembly of France, professing his satisfaction with the execution of his father three days before, and declaring himself a true citizen, who prefers the nation to all other considerations; we have also seen, on the same day, wives denouncing their husbands, and (O shocking to human nature!) mothers denouncing their sons, as bad citizens and traitors. Mark too what return the women have met with for all their horrid services, where, to express their sentiments of civism and abhorrence of royalty, they threw away the character of their sex, and bit the amputated limbs of their murdered countrymen. * Surely these patriotic women merited that the rights of their sex should be considered in full council, and they were well entitled to a seat; but there is not a single act of their government in which the sex is considered as having any rights whatever, or that they are things to be cared for.
Are not the accursed fruits of Illumination to be seen in the present humiliating condition of woman in France? pampered in everything that can reduce them to the mere instrument of animal pleasure. In their present state of national moderation (as they call it) and security, see Madame Talien come into the public theatre, accompanied by other beautiful women (I was about to have misnamed them Ladies) laying aside all modesty, and presenting themselves to the public view, with bared limbs, à la Sauvage, as the alluring objects of desire. I make no doubt but that this is a serious matter, encouraged, nay, prompted by government. To keep the minds of the Parisians in the present fever of dissolute gaiety, they are at more expense from the national treasury for the support of the sixty theatres, than all the pensions and honorary offices in Britain, three times told, amount to. Was not their abominable farce in the church of Notre Dame a bait of the same kind, in the true spirit of Weishaupt’s Eroterion?
* I say this on the authority of a young gentleman, an emigrant, who saw it, and who said, that they were women, not of the dregs of the Palais Royal, nor of infamous character, but well dressed. — I am sorry to add, that the relation, accompanied with looks of horror and disgust, only provoked a contemptuous smile from an illuminated British Fair-one.
“We do not,” said the high priest, “call you to the worship of inanimate idols. Behold a master-piece of nature,” (lifting, up the veil which concealed the naked charms of the beautiful Madms. Barbier): “This sacred image should inflame all hearts.” And it did so; the people shouted out, “No more altars, no more priests, no God but the God of Nature.”
Orleans, the first prince of the blood, did not scruple to prostitute his daughter, if not to the embraces, yet to the wanton view of the public, with the precise intention of inflaming their desires. (See the account given of the dinners at Sillery’s, by Camille Desmoulines, in his speech against the Brissotins.) But what will be the end of all this? The fondlings of the wealthy will be pampered in all the indulgences which fastidious voluptuousness finds necessary for varying or enhancing its pleasures; but they will either be flighted as toys, or they will be immured 5 and the companions of the poor will be drudges and slaves.
I am fully persuaded that it was the enthusiastic admiration of Grecian democracy that recommended to the French nation the dress à la Grecque, which exhibits, not the elegant, ornamented beauty, but the beautiful female, fully as well as Madame Talien’s dress à la Sauvage. It was no doubt with the same adherence to serious principle, that Mademoiselle Therouanne was most beautifully dressed à l’Amazonne on the 5th of October 1789, when she turned the heads of so many young officers of the regiments at Versailles. The Cytherea, the hominum divumque voluptas, at the cathedral of Notre Dame, was also dressed à la Grecque; and in this, and in much of the solemnities of that day, I recognized the taste and invention of my old acquaintance Brigonzi. I recollected the dresses of our premiere & seconde Surveillantes in the Loge de la Fidelité. There is a most evident and characteristic change in the whole system of female dress in France. The Filles de l’Opera always gave the ton, and were surely withheld by no rigid principle. They sometimes produced very extravagant and fantastic forms, but these were almost always in the style of the highest ornament, and they trusted, for the rest of the impression which they wished to make, to the fascinating expression of elegant movements. This indeed was wonderful, and hardly conceivable by any who have not seen a grand ballet performed by good actors. I have shed tears of the most sincere and tender sorrow during the exhibition of Antigone, set to music by Traetta, and performed by Madame Meilcour and Sre Torelli, and Zantini. I can easily conceive the impression to be still stronger, though perhaps of another kind, when the former superb dresses are changed for the expressive simplicity of the Grecian. I cannot help thinking that the female ornaments in the rest of Europe, and even among ourselves, have less elegance since we lost the imprimatur of the French court. But see how all this will terminate, when we shall have brought the sex so low, and will not even wait for a Mahometan paradise. What can we expect but such a dissoluteness of manners, that the endearing ties of relation and family, and mutual confidence within doors, will be slighted, and will cease; and every man must stand up for himself, single and alone?
Fæcunda culpa sacula nupiias Primum inquinavére, et genus, et demos. Hoc fonte derivata clades In patriam populunique siuxit. Hor. iii. 6. 17.
This is not the suggestion of prudish fear, I think it is the natural course of things, and that France is at this moment giving to the world the fullest proof of Weishaupt’s sagacity, and the judgment with which he has formed his plans. Can it tend to the improvement of our morals or manners to have our ladies frequent the gymnastic theatres, and see them decide, like the Roman matrons, on the merits of a naked gladiator or wrestler? Have we not enough of this already with our vaulters and posture-masters, and should we admire any lady who had a rage for such spectacles? Will it improve our taste to have our rooms ornamented with such paintings and sculptures as filled the cenaculum, and the study of the refined and elegant moralist Horace, who had the art–ridendo dicere verum? Shall we be improved when such indulgences are thought compatible with such lessons as he generally gives for the conduct of life? The pure Morality of Illuminatism is now employed in stripping Italy of all those precious remains of ancient art and voluptuousness; and Paris will ere long be the deposit and the resort of artists from all nations, there to study the works of ancient masters, and to return from thence pandars of public corruption. The plan is masterly, and the low-born Statesmen and Generals of France may in this respect be set on a level with a Colbert or a Condé. But the consequences of this Gallic dominion over the minds of fallen man will be as dreadful as their dominion over their lives and fortunes.
Recollect in what manner Spartacus proposed to corrupt his sisters (for we need not speak of the manner in which he expected that this would promote his plan–this is abundantly plain.) It was by destroying their moral sentiments, and their sentiments of religion.–Recollect what is the recommendation that the Atheist Minos gives of his step-daughters, when he speaks of them as proper persons for the Lodge of Sisters. “They have got over all prejudices, and, in matters of religion, they think as I do.” These profligates judged rightly that this affair required much caution, and that the utmost attention to decency, and even delicacy, must be observed in their rituals and ceremonies, otherwise they would be disgusted. This was judging fairly of the feelings of a female mind. But they judged falsely, and only according to their own coarse experience, when they attributed their disgust and their fears to coyness. Coyness is indeed the instinctive attribute of the female. In woman it is very great, and it is perhaps the genuine source of the disgust of which the Illuminati were suspicious. But they have been dim-sighted indeed, or very unfortunate in their acquaintance, if they never observed any other source of repugnance in the mind of woman to what is immoral or immodest–if they did not see dislike–moral disapprobation. Do they mean to insinuate, that in that regard which modest women express in all their words and actions, for what everyone understands by the terms decency, modesty, filthiness, obscenity, they only show female coyness? Then are they very blind instructors. But they are not so blind. The account given of the initiation of a young Sister at Frankfort, under the feigned name Psycharion, shows the most scrupulous attention to the moral feelings of the sex; and the confusion and disturbance which it occasioned among the ladies, after all their care, shows, that when they thought all right and delicate, they had been but coarse judges. Minos damns the ladies there, because they are too free, too rich, too republican, and too wise, for being led about by the nose (this is his own expression). But Philo certainly thought more correctly of the sex in general, when he says, Truth is a modest girl: She may be handed about like a lady, by good sense and good manners, but must not be bullied and driven about like a strumpet. I would give the discourses or addresses which were made on that occasion to the different classes of the assembly, girls, young ladies, wives, young men, and strangers, which are really well composed and pretty, were they not such as would offend my fair countrywomen.
The religious sentiments by which mortals are to be assisted, even in the discharge of their moral duties, and still more, the sentiments which are purely religious, and have no reference to any thing here, are precisely those which are most easily excited in the mind of woman. Affection, admiration, filial reverence, are, if I mistake not exceedingly, those in which the women far surpass the men; and it is on this account that we generally find them so much disposed to devotion, which is nothing but a sort of fond indulgence of these affections without limit to the imagination. The enraptured devotee pours out her soul in expressions of these feelings, just as a fond mother mixes the caresses given to her child with the most extravagant expressions of love. The devotee even endeavors to excite higher degrees of these affections, by expatiating on such circumstances in the divine conduct with respect to man as naturally awaken them; and he does this without any fear of exceeding; because Infinite Wisdom and Goodness will always justify the sentiment, and free the expression of it from all charge of hyperbole or extravagance.
I am convinced, therefore, that the female mind is well adapted to cultivation by means of religion, and that their native softness and kindness of heart will always be sufficient for procuring it a favorable reception, from them. It is therefore with double regret that I see any of them join in the arrogant pretensions of our Illuminated philosophers, who see no need of such assistances for the knowledge and discharge of their duties. There is nothing so unlike that general modesty of thought, and that diffidence, which we are disposed to think the character of the female mind. I am inclined to think, that such deviations from the general conduct of the sex are marks of a harsher character, of a heart that has less sensibility, and is on the whole less amiable than that of others; yet it must be owned that there are some such among us. Much, if not the whole of this perversion, has, I am persuaded, been owing to the contagion of bad example in the men. They are made familiar with such expressions–their first horror is gone, and (would to heaven that I were mistaken!) some of them have already wounded their consciences to such a degree, that they have some reason to wish that religion may be without foundation.
But I would call upon all; and these women in particular, to consider this matter in another light–as it may affect themselves in this life; as it may affect their rank and treatment in ordinary society. I would say to them, that if the world shall once adopt the belief that this life is our all, then, the true maxim of rational conduct will be, to “eat and to drink, since to-morrow we are to die;” and that when they have nothing to trust to but the fondness of the men, they will soon find themselves reduced to slavery. The crown which they now wear will fall from their heads, and they will no longer be the arbiters of what is lovely in human life. The empire of beauty is but short; and even in republican France, it will not be many years that Madame Talien can fascinate the Parisian Theatre by the exhibition of her charms. Man is fastidious and changeable, and he is stronger than they, and can always take his own will with respect to woman. At present he is with-held by respect for her moral worth–and many are with-held by religion–and many more are with-held by public laws, which laws were framed at a time when religious truths influenced the minds and the conduct of men. When the sentiments of men change, they will not be so foolish as to keep in force laws which cramp their strongest desires. Then will the rich have their Harems, and the poor their drudges.
Nay, it is not merely the circumstance of woman’s being considered as the moral companion of man that gives the sex its empire among us. There is something of this to be observed in all nations. Of all the distinctions which set our species above the other sentient inhabitants of this globe, making us as unlike to the best of them as they are to a piece of inanimate matter, there is none more remarkable than the differences observable in the appearances of those desires by which the race is continued. As I observed already, such a distinction is indispensably necessary. There must be a moral connection, in order that the human species may be a race of rational creatures, improvable, not only by the increasing experience of the individual, but also by the heritable experience of the successive generations. It may be observed between the solitary pairs in Labrador, where human nature starves, like the stunted oak in the crevice of a baron rock; and it is seen in the cultivated societies of Europe, where our nature in a series of ages becomes a majestic tree. But, alas! with what differences of boughs and foliage! Whatever may be the native powers of mind in the poor but gentle Esquimaux, she can do nothing for the species but nurse a young one, who cannot run his race of life without incessant and hard labor to keep soul and body together–here therefore her station in society can hardly have a name, because there can hardly be said that there is an association, except what is necessary for repelling the hostile attacks of Indians, who seem to hunt them without provocation as the dog does the hare. In other parts of the world, we see that the consideration in which the sex is held, nearly follows the proportions of that aggregate of many different particulars, which we consider as constituting the cultivation of a society. We may perhaps err, and we probably do err, in our estimation of these degrees, because we are not perfectly acquainted with what is the real excellence of man. But as far as we can judge of it, I believe that my assertion is acknowledged. On this authority, I might presume to say, that it is in Christian Europe that man has attained his highest degree of cultivation–and it is undoubtedly here that the women have attained the highest rank. I may even add, that it is in that part of Europe where the essential and distinguishing doctrines of Christian morality are most generally acknowledged and attended to by the laws of the country, that woman acts the highest part in general society. But here we must be very careful how we form our notion, either of the society, or of the female rank–it is surely not from the two or three dozens who fill the highest ranks in the state. Their number is too small, and their situation is too particular, to afford the proper average. Besides, the situation of the individuals of this class in all countries is very much the same–and in all it is very artificial–accordingly their character is fantastical. Nor are we to take it from that class that is the most numerous of all, the lowest class of society, for these are the laboring poor, whose conduct and occupations are so much dictated to them by the hard circumstances of their situation, that scarcely any thing is left to their choice. The situation of women of this class must be nearly the same in all nations. But this class is still susceptible of some variety–and we see it–and I think that even here there is a perceptible superiority of the female rank in those countries where the purest Christianity prevails. We must however take our measures or proportions from a numerous class, but also a class in somewhat of easy circumstances, where moral sentiments call some attention, and persons have some choice in their conduct. And here, although I cannot pretend to have had many opportunities of observation, yet I have had some. I can venture to say that it is not in Russia, nor in Spain, that woman is, on the whole, the most important as a member of the community. I would say, that in Britain her important rights are more generally respected than anywhere else. Nowhere is a man’s character so much hurt by infidelity–nowhere is it so difficult to rub off the stigma of bastardy, or to procure a decent reception or society for an improper connection; and I believe it will readily be granted, that their share in successions, their authority in all matters of domestic trust, and even their opinions in what concerns life and manners, are fully more respected here than in any country.
I have been of the opinion (and every observation that I have been able to make since I first formed it confirms me in it) that woman is indebted to Christianity alone for the high rank she holds in society. Look into the writings of antiquity–into the works of the Greek and Latin poets–into the numberless panegyrics of the sex, to be found both in prose and verse–I can find little, very little indeed, where woman is treated with respect–there is no want of love, that is, of fondness, of beauty, of charms, of graces. But of woman as the equal of man, as a moral companion, travelling with him the road to felicity–as his adviser–his solace in misfortune–as a pattern from which he may sometimes copy with advantage;–of all this there is hardly a trace. Woman is always mentioned as an object of passion. Chastity, modesty, sober-mindedness, are all considered in relation to this single point; or sometimes as of importance in respect of conomy or domestic quiet. Recollect the famous speech of Metellus Numidicus to the Roman people, when, as Censor, he was recommending marriage. “Si fine uxore possemus Quirites esse, omnes eâ molestiâ careremus. Sed quoniam ita natura tradidit, ut nec cum illis commode, nec fine illis ullo modo vivi posset, saluti perpetuæ potius quam brevi voluptati consulendum.” Aul. Gell. Noct. Att. I. 6.
What does Ovid, the great panegyrist of the sex, say for his beloved daughter, whom he had praised for her attractions in various places of his Tristia and other compositions? He is writing her Epitaph–and the only thing he can say of her as a rational creature is, that she is–Domifida–not a Gadabout.–Search Apuleius, where you will find many female characters in abstracto–You will find that his little Photis was nearest to his heart, after all his philosophy. Nay, in his pretty story of Cupid and Psyche, which the very wise will tell you is a fine lesson of moral philosophy, and a representation of the operations of the intellectual and moral faculties of the human soul, a story which gave him the finest opportunity, nay, almost made it necessary for him, to insert whatever can ornament the female character; what is his Psyche but a beautiful, fond, and silly girl; and what are the whole fruits of any acquaintance with the sex?–Pleasure. But why take more pains in the search?–Look at their immortal goddesses–is there one among them whom a wise man would for a wife or a friend?–I grant that a Lucretia is praised–a Portia, an Arria, a Zenobia–but these are individual characters–not representatives of the sex. The only Grecian ladies who made a figure by intellectual talents, were your Aspasias, Sapphos, Phrynes, and other nymphs of this cast, who had emerged from the general insignificance of the sex, by throwing away what we are accustomed to call its greatest ornament.
I think that the first piece in which woman is pictured as a respectable character, is the oldest novel that I am acquainted with, written by a Christian Bishop, Heliodorus–I mean the Adventures of Theagenes and Chariclea. I think that the Heroine is a greater character than you will meet with in all the annals of antiquity. And it is worth while to observe what was the effect of this painting. The poor Bishop had been deposed, and even excommunicated, for doctrinal errors, and for drawing such a picture of a heathen. The magistrates of Antioch, the most voluptuous and corrupted city of the East, wrote to the Emperor, telling him that this book had reformed the ladies of their city, where Julian the Emperor and his Sophists had formerly preached in vain, and they therefore prayed that the good Bishop might not be deprived of his mitre.–It is true, we read of Hypatia, daughter of Theon, the mathematician at Alexandria, who was a prodigy of excellence, and taught philosophy, i.e. the art of leading a good and happy life, with great applause in the famous Alexandrian school.–But she also was in the times of Christianity, and was the intimate friend of Syncellus and other Christian Bishops.
It is undoubtedly Christianity that has set woman on her throne, making her in every respect the equal of man, bound to the same duties, and candidate for the same happiness. Mark how woman is described by a Christian poet,
–—–“Yet when I approach
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems,
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best.
Neither her outside, form’d so fair,——
So much delights me, as those graceful acts,
Those thousand decencies that daily flow
From all her words and actions, mix’d with love
And sweet compliance, which declare unfeign’d
Union of mind, or in us both one soul.
——And, to consummate all,
Greatness of mind, and nobleness, their feat
Build in her loveliest, and create an awe
About her, as a guard angelic plac’d.”
This is really moral painting, without any abatement of female charms.
This is the natural consequence of that purity of heart, which is so much insisted on in the Christian morality. In the instructions of the heathen philosophers, it is either not mentioned at all, or at most, it is recommended coldly, as a thing proper, and worthy of a mind attentive to great things.–But, in Christianity, it is insisted on as an indispensable duty, and enforced by many arguments peculiar to itself.
It is worthy of observation, that the most prominent superstitions which have dishonored the Christian churches, have been the excessive refinements which the enthusiastic admiration of heroic purity has allowed the holy trade to introduce into the manufacture of our spiritual fetters. Without this enthusiasm, cold expediency would not have been able to make the Monastic vow so general, nor have given us such numbers of convents. These were generally founded by such enthusiasts–the rulers indeed of the church encouraged this to the utmost, as the best levy for the spiritual power–but they could not enjoin such foundations. From the same source we may derive the chief influence of auricular confession. When these were firmly established, and were venerated, almost all the other corruptions of Christianity followed of course. I may almost add, that though it is here that Christianity has suffered the most violent attacks, it is here that the place is most tenable.–Nothing tends so much to knit all the ties of society as the endearing connections of family, and whatever tends to lessen our veneration for the marriage contract, weakens them in the most effectual manner. Purity of manners is its most effectual support, and pure thoughts are the only sources from which pure manners can flow. I readily grant that this. veneration for personal purity was carried to an extravagant height, and that several very ridiculous fancies and customs arose from this. Romantic love, and chivalry, are strong instances of the strange vagaries of our imagination, when carried along by this enthusiastic admiration of female purity; and so unnatural and forced, that they could only be temporary fashions. But I believe that, with all their ridicule, it would be a happy nation where this was the general creed and practice. Nor can I help thinking a nation on its decline, when the domestic connections cease to be venerated, and the illegitimate offspring of a nabob or a nobleman are received with ease into good company.
Nothing is more clear than that the design of the Illuminati was to abolish Christianity–and we now see how effectual this would be for the corruption of the fair sex, a purpose which they eagerly wished to gain, that they might corrupt the men. But if the women would retain the rank they now hold, they will be careful to preserve in full force on their minds this religion so congenial to their dispositions, which nature has made affectionate and kind.
And with respect to the men, is it not egregious folly to encourage any thing that can tend to blast our sweetest enjoyments? Shall we not do this most effectually if we attempt to corrupt what nature will always make us consider as the highest elegance of life? The divinity of the Stoics was, “Mens sana in corpore sano”–but it is equally true,
“Gratior est pulchro veniens e corpore virtus.”
If therefore, instead of professedly tainting what is of itself beautiful, we could really work it up to
“That fair form, which, wove in fancy’s loom,
“Floats in light visions round the poet’s head,”
and make woman a pattern of perfection, we should undoubtedly add more to the heartfelt happiness of life than by all the discoveries of the Illuminati. See what was the effect of Theagenes and Chariclea. And we should remember that with the fate of woman that of man is indissolubly knit. The voice of nature spoke through our immortal bard, when he made Adam say,
——————————— “From thy state
Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe.”
Should we suffer the contagion to touch our fair partner, all is gone, and too late shall we say,
“O fairest of creation! last and best
Of all God’s works, creature in whom excell’d
Whatever can to fight or thought be form’d,
Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet!
How art thou lost–and now to death devote?–
And me with thee hast ruin’d: for with thee
Certain my resolution is to die.”