The degree which follows that of Minor Illuminee is sometimes called Major Illuminee; at other times, Scotch Novice.
Under this two-fold denomination, a double object is comprised.
As Scotch Novice, the adept is turned in upon Masonry; and it is only a snare for imposing upon the credulity of those, who have not given the requisite symptoms for being initiated in the higher mysteries of the Sect.
It is an introduction to the degree of Scotch Knight, which terminates the career of the dupes.
But as a degree of Illuminism, it will encompass the adept with new bonds, more extraordinary and more firm than the former; it is a more immediate preparation for the grand mysteries; in short, it is of this degree that the masters of the Minerval Academies are selected.
Let us begin by laying open the artifice of that strange bond which the adept will never dare to rend asunder, though he should wish to withdraw from Illuminism, or more particularly should he be tempted to reveal what he may have already discovered of the artifices, principles, or grand object of the Sect.
Before the candidate is admitted to the new degree, he is informed that his reception is resolved on, provided he gives satisfactory answers to the following questions:
I. Are you acquainted with any society grounded on a better constitution, or more holy and solid than ours, and which tends with more certainty or expedition to the object of your wishes?
II. Was it to satisfy your curiosity that you entered our society? or, was it to concur with the chosen among men to universal happiness?
III. Are you satisfied with what you have seen of our laws? Will you labor according to our plan, or have you any objection to propose against it?
IV. As there will be no medium for you, declare at once, whether you wish to leave us, or whether you will remain attached to us forever?
V. Are you a member of any other society?
VI. Does that society impose anything detrimental to our interests; for example, the discovery of our secrets; or, does it require you to labor for itself exclusively?
VII. Should such things be ever required of you, tell us upon your honor, whether you would be disposed to acquiesce in them?
These questions answered, there still remains another proof of confidence which the Order expects from the candidate. This is nothing less than an exact and candid account of his whole life, written without any reservation or dissimulation whatever.
The necessary time is given him; and this is the famous bond, or rather snare, into which when Weishaupt has once brought the candidate he exultingly exclaims, “Now I hold him; I defy him to hurt us; if he should wish to betray us, we have also his secrets.”
It would be in vain for the adept to attempt to dissimulate. He will soon find that the most secret circumstances of his life, those which he would most anxiously wish to hide, are all known by the adepts.
The arts which he has hitherto practiced to pry into the most secret motions of the hearts of his pupils, into their tempers and passions, their connections, their means, their interests, their actions and opinions, their intrigues and faults, have all been more artfully employed by others in watching himself.
Those who compose the lodge into which he is going to be received, are the very persons that have been scrutinizing his past life.
All the discoveries made by his Insinuator, all the statements he has been obliged to give of himself as required by the Code, everything which the Brother Scrutators, either known or unknown, have been able to discover concerning him during his degrees of Minerval or of Minor Illuminee, have been accurately transmitted to the Brethren of the new lodge.
Long before his admission, they had accomplished themselves in the scrutinizing arts.
These wretches then will mimic even the canonization of the saints! The very precautions which Rome takes to discover the least taint in those whom it proposes to the veneration of the faithful, this illuminizing Sect will adopt, in order to satisfy itself that in its adepts no civil nor religious virtue can be traced.
Yes, the villains in their dens wished to know each other and smiled to see their accomplices as wicked as themselves.
I cannot conceive whence Weishaupt could have taken this part of his Code; but let the reader form an idea of a series of at least fifteen hundred questions on the life, the education, the body, the mind, the heart, the health, the passions, the inclinations, the acquaintances, the connections, the opinions, the abode, the habits, and even the favourite colours of the candidate; on his relations, his friends, his enemies, his conduct, his discourse, his gait, his gesture, his language, his prejudices, and his weaknesses. In a word, questions which relate to everything that can denote the life or character, the political, moral, or religious sentiments, the interior or exterior of the man; everything he has said, done or thought, and even what he would say, do or think under any given circumstances.
Let the reader form an idea of twenty, thirty, and sometimes a hundred questions on each of these heads. Such will be the Catechism to which the Major Illuminee must be able to answer; such are the
rules he is to follow in tracing the lives or characters of the young Brethren, or even of that propane of whom the Sect wishes to have particular information.
Such is the scrutinizing Code which has directed the researchers made as to the life of the candidate antecedent to his admission to the degree of Major Illuminee.
These statutes are called by the Order the Nosce Te Ipsum (know thyself).
When one brother pronounces these words, the other answers Nosce alios (know others); and this answer denotes much better the object of the Code, which might very properly be styled the perfect spy.
Let it be judged by the following questions:
“On the Physiognomy of the Candidate: Is he of a florid complexion, or pale?
Is he white, black, fair, or brown?
Is his eye quick, piercing, dull, languishing, amorous, haughty, ardent, or dejected? In speaking, does he look full in the face and boldly, or does he look sideways?
Can he endure being stared full in the face? Is his look crafty, or is it open and free; is it gloomy and pensive, or is it absent, light, insignificant, friendly, or serious?
Is his eye hollow, or level with the head, or does it stare?
His forehead, is it wrinkled, and how; perpendicularly, or horizontally?
“His Countenance:—Is it noble or common, open, easy, or constrained?
How does he carry his head; erect or inclined, before, behind, or on one side, firm or shaking, sunk between his shoulders, or turning from one side to the other?
“His Gait:—Is it slow, quick, or firm? Are his steps long, short, dragging, lazy, or skipping?
“His Language:—Is it regular, disorderly, or interrupted? In speaking, does he agitate his hands, his head, or his body, with vivacity? Does he close upon the person he is speaking to? Does he hold them by the arm, clothes, or button-hole? Is he a great talker, or is he taciturn? If so, why? Is it through prudence, ignorance, respect, or sloth?
“His Education:—To whom does he owe it? Has he always been under the eyes of his parents? How has he been brought up, and by whom? Has he any esteem for his masters? To whom does he think himself indebted for his education? Has he traveled, and in what countries?”
Let the reader, by these questions, judge of those which treat of the mind, the heart, or the passions of the Candidate. I will just note the following:
“When he finds himself with different parties, which does he adopt, the strongest or the weakest, the wittiest or the most stupid? Or does he form a third? Is the constant and firm in spite of all obstacles? How is he to be gained, by praise, flattery, or low courtship; or by women, money, or the entreaties of his friends?” &c.—”Whether he loves satire, and on what he exercises that talent; on religion, superstition, hypocrisy, intolerance, government, ministers, monks?”
This, however, is not all that the scrutators are to note in their statements. They are to elucidate each answer by a fact, and by such facts, as characterize the man at a moment when he least suspects it. 1 They are to follow their prey to his
bolster, where they will learn whether he is a hard sleeper, whether he dreams, and whether he talks when dreaming; whether he is easily or with difficulty awakened; and should he be suddenly, forcibly, or unexpectedly awakened from his sleep, what impression would it make on him?
Should any of these questions, or any part of the Candidate’s life, not have been sufficiently investigated by the Lodge, divers of the brethren are ordered to direct all their inquiries toward that point.
When at length the result of all their researchers is found to coincide with the wishes of the Sect, the day for his reception is appointed.
Neglecting all the insignificant particularities of the Masonic rites, we shall attend entirely to those circumstances which peculiarly belong to Illuminism.
The adept, introduced into a gloomy apartment, reiterates his oath to keep secret whatever he may see or learn from the Order.
He then deposits the history of his life (sealed up) in the hands of his introducer. It is read to the Lodge and compared with the historical table which the Brethren had already formed respecting the Candidate.
This done, the Introducer says to him,
“You have given us a welcome and valuable proof of your confidence, but indeed we are not unworthy of it, and we hope that it will even increase in proportion as you become better acquainted with us.
Among men whose sole object is to render themselves and others better, no dissimulation should subsist. Far be any reserve from us.
We study the human heart—and do not hesitate or blush at revealing to each other our faults or errors.
Here then is the picture which the Lodge had drawn of your person. You must own that some features are not unlike. Read, and then answer, whether you still wish to belong to a society which (such as you are represented here) opens its arms to receive you.”
Could indignation operate more powerfully on the mind of the Candidate at the sight of his having been so treacherously watched, then the fear of abjuring a society which henceforth possesses such arms against him, he would not hesitate at asking for his dismission; but he sees the consequences of such a step, and feels that it might cost him very dear.
Beside, he is so familiarized with the scrutinizing system, that he can scarcely be offended with it, though operating on himself. He is left for a certain time to his meditations.
The desire of acquiring a new degree works upon him and at length turns the scales; he is introduced to the Lodge of the Brethren; and there the veil which hides the secrets of the Sect is partly raised; or, rather, he is himself still more unveiled, that the Sect may discern whether all his views and wishes coincide with theirs.
After a suitable preamble, the Initiator tells him, “that he has still some few questions to answer, relative to objects on which it is absolutely necessary that the opinions of candidates should be known.”
The reader is desired to pay particular attention to these questions; as it will enable him, when he shall come to read of the mysteries, more clearly to observe the succession and gradation with which such principles are infused
into the mind of the adept, as if he had invented and conceived them all himself.
“I. Do you find that in the world we live in, virtue is rewarded and vice punished?
Do you not, on the contrary, observe, that the wicked man is exteriorly more comfortable, more considered, and more powerful, than the honest man?
In a word, are you content with the world in its present situation?”
“II. In order to change the present order of things, would you not, if you had it in your power, assemble the good and closely unite them, in order to render them more powerful than the wicked?”
“III. If you had your choice, in what country would you wish to have been born rather than your own?”
“IV. In what age would you wish to have lived?”
“V. Always premising the liberty of choice, what science and what state of life would you prefer?”
“VI. With respect to history, who is your favorite author or your master?”
“VII. Do you not think yourself in duty bound to procure all the exterior advantages possible for your tried friends, in order to recompense them for their probity, and to render life more agreeable to them?
Are you ready to do what the Order exacts of each member in this degree, when it ordains that each one shall bind himself to give advice every month to the Superiors, of the employments, support, benefices, or other such like dignities, of which he can dispose, or procure the possession by means of his recommendations; that the Superiors may present worthy subjects of our Order to all such employments?”
The answers of the candidate are to be returned in writing, and inserted in the registers of the Lodge.
It will naturally be expected, that the greatest dissatisfaction with the present order of things is to be expressed, as well as an ardent wish for a revolution which shall change the whole face of the Universe.
He will also promise to support, by all the means in his power, the election of none but worthy brethren to offices of emolument and trust, or such as may augment the power or credit of Illuminism, whether about the court or among the people. On his declaring such to be his sentiments, the Initiator addresses him in the following discourse:
“Brother, you are a witness, that it is after having tried the best of men, that we seek little by little to reward them, and to give them support, that we may insensibly succeed in new modeling the world. Since you are convinced how imperfectly men have fulfilled their real destiny; how everything has degenerated in their civil institutions; how little the teachers of wisdom and of truth have enhanced the value of virtue, or given a happier disposition to the world; you must be persuaded, that the error lies in the means which the sages have hitherto employed.
Those means, therefore, must be changed, in order to reinstate in its rights the empire of truth and wisdom. And this is the grand object of the labors of our Order. Oh, my friend! my brother! my son! when here convened, far from the profane, we consider to what an extent the world is abandoned to the yoke of the wicked, how persecution and misfortune is a lot of the honest man, and how the better part of human nature is sacrificed to personal interest.
Can we at such a sight be silent, or content yourself with signing?
Shall we not attempt to shake off yoke?
Yes, my brother, rely upon us. Seek faithful co-operators, but seek them not in tumults and storms; they are hidden in darkness.
Protected by the shades of night, solitary and silent, or reunited in small numbers, they, docile children, pursue the grand work under the direction of their Superiors.
They call aloud to the children of the world, who pass by in the intoxication of pleasure how few hearken to them! He alone who has the eye of the bird of Minerva, who has placed his labors under the protection of the star of the night, is sure of finding them.”
But, lest this discourse should not have given the Candidate a sufficient insight as to the object of the new degree, the Secretary opens the Code of the Lodge, entitled A general view of the system of the Order.
Here the young Illuminee learns, that the object of the Order is to diffuse the pure truth and to make virtue triumph. Nothing, however, is explicitly said to what is to be understood by the pure truth. He is only told, that in order to diffuse it, “he must begin by liberating men from their prejudices, and by enlightening their understandings; then reunite all the common forces for the refinement of all sciences from the dross of useless subtleties, and for the establishment of principles drawn from Nature.
To attain this,” continues the Secretary, “we must trace the origin of all sciences; we must reward oppressed talents; we must raise from the dust the men of genius; we must undertake the education of youth; and, forming an indissoluble league among the most powerful geniuses, we must boldly, though with prudence, combat superstition, incredulity, and folly; and at length from our people to true, just, and uniform principles on all subjects.
“Such is the object of our Minerval Schools, and of the inferior degrees of Masonry, over which our Order wishes to acquire all the influence possible, in order to direct it towards our object.
We also have our superior degrees, where the Brethren, after having passed through all the preparatory degrees, become acquainted with the ultimate result of the labors and of all the proceedings of the Order.”
To obtain the completion of that result, “it will be necessary to divest vice of its power, that the honest man may find his recompense even in this world; but in this grand project, we are counteracted by the Princes and the Priesthood; the political constitutions of nations oppose our proceedings.
In such a state of things then what remains to be done? To instigate revolutions, overthrow everything, oppose force to force, and exchange tyranny for tyranny? Far be from us such means.
Every violent reform is to be blamed because it will not ameliorate things as long as men remain as they are, a prey to their passions; and because wisdom needeth not the arm of violence.”
“The whole plan of the Order tends to form men, not by declaration, but by the protection and rewards which are due to virtue. We must insensibly bind the hands of the protectors of disorder, and govern them without appearing to domineer.”
“In a word, we must establish a universal empire over the whole world, without destroying the civil ties. Under this new empire, all other governments must be able to pursue their usual process, and to exercise every power, excepting that of hindering the Order from attaining its ends and rendering virtue triumphant over vice.”
“This victory of virtue over vice was formerly the object of Christ when he established his pure religion.
He taught men, that the path to wisdom consisted in letting themselves be led for their greater good by the best and wisest men.
At that time preaching might suffice; the novelty made truth prevail; but at present, more powerful means are necessary.
Man, a slave to his senses, must see sensible attractions in virtue. The source of passions is pure; it is necessary that everyone should be able to gratify his within the bounds of virtue, and that our Order should furnish him with the means.”
“It consequently follows, that all our brethren, educated on the same principles, and strictly united to each other, should have but one object in view.
We must encompass the Power of the earth with a legion of indefatigable men, all directing their labours, according to the plan of the Order, towards the happiness of human nature—but all that is to be done in silence; our brethren are mutual to support each other, to succour the good labouring under oppression, and to seek to acquire those places which give power, for the good of the cause.”
“Had we a certain number of such men in every country, each might form two others. Let them only be united, and nothing will be impossible to our Order; it is thus that in silence it has already performed much for the good of humanity.”
“You behold, Brother, an immense field opening to your activity; become our faithful and worthy co-operator, by seconding us with all your might; and remember, that no service will pass without its just reward.”
After this lesson, two chapters directly treating on the functions of the Major Illuminee are read to him. With the first he is already acquainted: it is the Code of the Insinuator or Brother Recruiter. He is also now entrusted with it, as it is part of his duty in future to judge of the pupils of all the Insinuators.
The second treats of the duties of the Scrutator; this is also delivered into his care, because he must particularly exercise that art while presiding over the Minerval Academies: and he must necessarily learn how his new brethren found means of tracing so exact a historical portrait of himself, and of penetrating even more successfully than he could into the interior recesses of his heart; he must also learn to distinguish such pupils as, with dispositions similar to his own, are worthy of being admitted to his new degree. He now has but one more degree to go through, before he is admitted into the class of the mysteries, and this is termed by the Sect the Scotch Knight