Under the appellation of Intermediary Class of Illuminism might be comprehended all the Degrees which Weishaupt had borrowed from Freemasonry.
In that case, we should comprise under this denomination the three degrees of Apprentice, Fellow-Craft, and Master.
But it has been already said, that these degrees are simply a passport for the Sect into the Masonic Lodges; and that its object may be less conspicuous, it leaves them in their original Masonic state.
This, however, is not the case with the higher degrees of Scotch Masonry.
The Sect shrewdly surmised that the views of these degrees coincided with their own: besides, it wanted some of these superior degrees, either for the direction of those Masonic Lodges which is composed of its own members, or who were to gain admittance, dominate, and preside over other Lodges which were not devoted to Illuminism.
The great veneration in which the Scotch Knights are generally held by Masons, more strongly determined Baron Knigge to make himself master of this degree, and engraft it on Illuminism.
The Sect has constituted this into both an intermediary and a stationary degree. It is stationary for those into whom it despairs of ever infusing the principles required for a further admission to the mysteries, but it is only intermediary for those who have shown dispositions more accordant with the pursuits of the Sect.
Whatever may be his destiny, no Brother is ever admitted into this new degree, until he has previously given proofs of the progress he has made in the arts of Scrutator, whose code must have been his chief study since his admission to the degree of Major Illuminee.
The secret Chapter of the Knights has had the precaution to propose certain questions to him to ascertain how far he is capable of judging of the state of the mind by exterior appearances.
He will have had to answer, for example, to the following ones:
What is the character of a man whose eyes are perpetually in motion, and whose countenance is changeable?
What features denote voluptuousness, melancholy, and pusillanimity.
As a further proof of the progress he has made, he is to transmit to his superiors another dissertation on the life of the hero whose name he bears for his characteristic.
The history of his own life, which he had delivered in the antecedent degree, had laid open the whole of his existence, and all his actions through life.
This new dissertation will show the Order what he admires or disapproves of in others, and will particularly demonstrate whether he has discovered those qualities in his patron which the Order wished he should imbibe and imitate when it gave him his characteristic.
Should any part of his life have escaped the vigilance of the Scrutators, he is still at liberty to give a new proof of his confidence in the Order, and this is described as a meritorious act, but he may reserve it for the cognizance of the Superior of the Order only.
He is then to declare under his hand-writing, that he looks upon the Superiors of Illuminism as the secret and unknown though legitimate Superiors of Freemasonry; that he adheres and always will adhere to the illuminized system of Masonry, as the best and most useful existing; that he utterly renounces every other association; that he is, in short, so persuaded of the excellence of Illuminism, that he fully adopts its principles, and firmly believes himself bound to labour, under the direction of his superiors, at the object and according to the intentions of the Order for the happiness of mankind.
After having received these numerous pledges, the Scotch Knights invite the new Brother to a secret Chapter, for such is the name given to the Lodges of this degree. It is hung with green, richly decorated and brilliantly lighted.
The Prefect of the Knights, booted and spurred, is seated on a throne erected under a canopy all of the same color. On his apron, a green cross is seen, and on his breast the star of the Order; he wears the riband of St. Andrew in salter from right to left, and holds a mallet in his hand.
On his right stands the brother sword-bearer, holding the sword of the Order; on his left the master of the ceremonies with a stick in one hand, and the ritual in the other.
The Knights assembled are all booted and spurred, each girt with a sword, and all wear the cross suspended at their necks by a green riband.
The Officers of the Order are to be distinguished by a plumage, and a priest of the Order compleats the Lodge.
The Prefect then delivers himself as follows to the Candidate:
You here behold a part of those unknown legions which are united by indissoluble bonds to combat for the cause of humanity.
Are you willing to make yourself worthy of watching with them for the sanctuary?
Your heart must be pure, and a heavenly ardor for the dignity of nature must fire your breast.
The step you are taking is the most important one of your life. Our games are not vainly ceremonial.
In creating you a knight we expect of you that you will perform exploits grand, noble, and worthy of the title you receive.
Long life to you, if you come to us to be faithful; if honest and good you answer our expectations.
Should you prove a false Brother, be both cursed and unhappy, and may the grand Architect of the Universe hurl you into the bottomless pit Now bend the knee, and on this sword take the oath of the Order.
At these words the Perfect seats himself, the Knights are standing with their swords drawn, and the Candidate pronounces the following oath:
I promise obedience to the excellent Superiors of the Order. In as much as it shall depend upon me, I engage never to favor the admission of any unworthy member into these holy degrees to labor at rendering the Ancient Masonry triumphant over the false systems which have crept into it to succor, like a true Knight, innocence, poverty, or oppressed honesty.
Never to be the flatterer of the great, nor the slave of Princes; to combat courageously, though prudently, in the cause of Virtue, Liberty, and Wisdom to resist boldly, both for the advantage of the Order and of the world, Superstition and Despotism.
I never will prefer my own private interest to that of the Order. I will defend my Brethren against calumny.
I will dedicate my life to the discovery of the true doctrines of Freemasonry, and I will impart my discoveries to my Superiors.
I will disclose the secrets of my heart to my Superiors as to my best friends. So long as I shall remain in the Order I shall look upon the being a Member of it as a supreme felicity.
I also engage in looking upon all my domestic, civil, and social duties as most sacred. So help me God, both for the happiness of my life and for the peace of my mind.
In return for this oath the Prefect declares to the Candidate that he is going to create him a Knight of St. Andrew, according to the ancient usage of the Scotch Rise, he says, “and in future beware of ever bending the knee before him who is the only man like thyself.
To these ceremonies, the adept Knigge added a certain number of others which were mere decisions of the rites of the Church.
Such, for example, was the triple benediction which the Priest pronounced over the new Knight, such the atrocious mockery of the last supper, which terminated the ceremony.
But, impious as is the imitation, Weishaupt declares it to be disgusting because it is still religious, theosophical and borrowed from superstition.
But what perfectly coincided with the views of the Bavarian founder were, the instructions given to the new Knight. He is enraptured with that discourse, where one may observe the Illuminizing Orator selecting the most impious, artful, and disorganizing systems of Masonry, to make them at once the mysteries of their Masonic Lodges, and an immediate preparation for those of Illuminism.
Let the reader recall to mind what was said in the Second Volume of these Memoirs concerning the Apocalypse of the Martinists, entitled Of Errors and of Truth.
He will there have read of a time when a man, disengaged from the senses and free from matter, was still more free from the yoke of the laws and from political bondage, to which he was only subjected by his fall.
He will there have seen, that the daily efforts of man should tend to the overthrow of Governments, that he may recover his former purity and ancient liberty, and thus retrieve his fall.
I might there have demonstrated that absurd Idealism reducing our senses to vain fictions, that the prostitution of them might be but a chimerical crime; there, in short, I might have shown, according to the Martinist, that in all ages this system of corruption and disorder has been the doctrine and secret of true Philosophy.
This intermediary degree was destined by Weishaupt to serve as a point of union between the Masonic Lodges and Illuminism. It was but natural that they should have selected the most monstrous and most artful system of the Craft. Let not the reader, therefore, be astonished when he sees the Antitheosophist, the Atheist, the Materialist Weishaupt borrowing in this degree the doctrines of the Martinists on the twofold principle or double spirit.
But let it be also remembered, that whenever, in consequence of this artifice, he is obliged to use the words spirit or soul, he informs the candidate, that such words are employed in the Code only to conform to the vulgar expression.
This precaution was taken, the Initiator may without apprehension repeat the sophisticated lessons on the two fold principle.
And indeed one might be tempted to think, that the doctrines he lays down as the grand object of Free Masonry had all been copied from the Martinist system.
He begins by deploring a great Revolution which had in former ages deprived man of his primitive dignity. He then represents man as having had the faculty of recovering his ancient splendor; but that by the abuse of his faculties he had again immersed himself still deeper in his defiled and degraded station.
The very senses are blunted and said to lead him into error on the nature of things. Every thing that he beholds in its actual state is a falsehood, show, and illusion; and he lays particular stress on those schools of sages which had, ever since the time of the grand Revolution, preserved the secret principles of the antique doctrines, or of true Masonry.
Nor does the monstrous Hierophant blush at placing Jesus of Nazareth among those sages, and blasphemously numbering the God of the Christians among the Grand Masters of Illuminism.
But soon was the doctrine of Christ falsified, and Priests and Philosophers raised on these divine foundations an edifice of folly, prejudice, and self-interest.
Soon also does the tyranny of Priesthood and the Despotism of Princes coalesce in the oppression of suffering humanity.
Free Masonry opposes these disastrous attempts, and endeavors to preserve the true doctrine, but it has overburdened it with symbols, and its lodges gradually subside into seminaries of ignorance and error.
The Illuminees alone are in possession of the real secrets of Masonry; many of them are even still to be the objects of their researchers, and the new Knight is to devote all his attention to their discovery.
He is particularly recommended to study the doctrines of the ancient Gnostics and Manichæans, which may lead him to many important discoveries on this real Masonry.
He is also told, that the great enemies which he will have to encounter during this investigation will be ambition and other vices which make humanity groan under the oppression of Princes and of the Priesthood.
The obscurity which enwraps these lessons on the new and grand Revolution which is to counteract the ravages of the former is not the slightest of Weishaupt’s artifices.
With respect to Princes, this is the last degree to which they are admitted.
They are to be persuaded, that the antique Revolution was no other than the coalition of the powers of the earth with the Priesthood, in order to support the empire of religious prejudice and superstition; and that the new Revolution to be affected is the reunion of Princess with Philosophy, to overthrow that empire and ensure the triumph of reason.
Should the serene adept be startled at his having sworn never to flatter the great, nor to be a slave of Princes, he will be reconciled again by the latter part of the oath, where he engages in looking upon his domestic, civil, and social duties as most sacred.
But let him form what opinion he may as to his initiation, he has nevertheless sworn, that he will protect the Brotherhood from superstition and despotism; that he will obey the most excellent superiors of the Order; that he will favour its progress with all his power, and that he believes it alone to be in possession of the secrets of real Masonry.
In the less important class of adepts, should any still hanker after their Theosophical ideas, that is to say, should Weishaupt despair of ever infusing into them its Anarchical and Atheistical principles, they are condemned to become stationary in this degree and he imposes on them as a task the explication of all the Hieroglyphics of Masonry, which they may set to the tune of the grand Revolution.
Under the pretense of discovering a perfect religion, he persuaded them that Christianity was at this day nothing more than superstition and tyranny.
He has infused into them his hatred for the Priesthood and the existing forms of Government.
That will suffice to procure him agents of destruction; as to re-edification, he has not so much as mentioned it to them.
But should there be found among the number of Knights men who of themselves dive into the meaning of that great Revolution which only deprived man of his primitive dignity by subjecting him to the laws of civil society, should they have comprehended the meaning of this other Revolution, which is to restore every thing by re-establishing man in his primitive independence, such men will be pointed out by the Scrutators.
It is at them that the Code particularly aims when it says, Let the Scotch Knights seriously reflect, that they are presiding over a grand establishment, whose object is the happiness of mankind. In short, these Knights have to act the parts of Superiors in the Order; they are the Inspectors or the Directors of all the preparatory class.
They have on that account assembly peculiar to themselves, called Secret Chapters. The first duty of these chapters is to watch over the interests of the Order within their district.
The Scotch Knights, says their first instruction, is to pay particular attention to the discovery of any plans which may contribute to filling the coffers of the Order.
It was much to be wished that they could devise means of putting the Order into possession of some considerable revenues in their province.
He that shall have rendered so signal a service must never hesitate at believing that these revenues are employed for the noblest purposes.
The whole must labor with all their might to consolidate the edifice little by little within their district until the finances of the Order shall be found to be competent to its views.
The second part of the Code entrusts these Knights with the government of the preparatory class. Each Knight is to correspond with a certain number of Brethren who have the direction of the Minerval academies.
The Code contains instructions which point out to them upon what objects they are permitted to decide; what Brethren they are to forward or thwart in their promotion; and what reports they are to make to their Superiors.
In their correspondence with their Inferiors they make use of the common cipher, but when they write to the chefs they employ a peculiar character which may truly be called Hieroglyphic.
They are particularly charged with the inspection of the Major Illuminees.
The Scotch Knights, says the Code, shall be particularly attentive that the Major Illuminees do not neglect to mention in their monthly letters such employments as they may have to dispose of.
I have shown, in the foregoing chapter, how useful and indeed how necessary this precaution proved for recompensing the zeal of the Brethren.
The adept Knigge wished to demonstrate that it might be equally useful for princes when combined with the scrutinizing Code.
Let us suppose, says he, that a Prince, having an Illuminee for his Minister, wishes to find a proper person to fill any vacant office; by means of the Scrutators, the Minister may immediately present the faithful portrait of divers personages, from among whom the Prince will only have to make his election.
But every reader, I hope, will recollect, that in consequence of the oath that has been taken by the Minister to dispose of all places in favour of the Brethren, and that according to the direction of the Knights, he will only present such adepts for those offices as the Order shall have chosen; and thus will Illuminism soon dispose of all benefices, employments, and dignities, and have the entire direction of the whole power of the State.
Meanwhile, until the Sect shall exert this influence over Courts, the Scotch Knights are to acquire an absolute sway in the Masonic Lodges.
Their laws on this head deserve particular attention. We shall select the following:
“In every town of any note situated within their district, the Secret Chapters shall establish Lodges for the three ordinary degrees, and shall cause men of sound morals, of good repute, and of easy circumstances, to be received in these Lodges.
Such men are much to be sought after and are to be made Masons, even though they should not be of any service to Illuminism in its ulterior projects.
“If there already exists a Lodge in any given town, the Knights of Illuminism must find means of establishing a more legitimate one; at least, they should spare no pains to gain the ascendancy in those which they find established, either to reform or to destroy them.
They must strongly exhort the members of our lodges not to frequent (without leave of their Superiors) any of those pretended constituted lodges, who hold nothing of the English but their diplomas, and some few symbols and ceremonies which they do not understand.
All such Brethren are perfectly ignorant of true Masonry, of its grand object, and its real patrons.
Though some of the greatest merits are to be found in such lodges, we nevertheless have strong reasons for not readily allowing them to visit ours.” 16
Our Scotch Knights must pay great attention to the regularity of the subordinate lodges, and must above all things attend to the preparation of candidates.
It is here that in a private intercourse they will show a man that they have probed him to the quick.
Surprise him by some ensnaring question in order to observe whether he has any presence of mind. If he is not staunch to his principles, and should expose his weak side, make him feel how great his necessities are, and how necessary it is for him to be guided entirely by us.
The Deputy Master of the Lodge (who is generally the auditor of the accounts) must also be a member of our Secret Chapter.
He will persuade the lodges that they alone dispose of their funds, but he will take care to employ them according to the views of the Order.
Should it at any time be necessary to help one of our brethren, the proposition is made to the lodge; though the brother should not even be a Mason, no matter, some expedient must be found to carry the point.
No part of the capital, however, must, in any case, be alienated, that hereafter we may find the necessary funds for the most important undertakings.
The tenth part of the subscriptions of these lodges must be annually carried to the Secret Chapter.
The treasurer to whom these funds must be transmitted, shall collect them, and endeavor by all kinds of expedients to augment them.
But before any part of our own funds are appropriated to the help of any of our Brethren, every effort shall be made to procure the necessary succors from the funds belonging to lodges which do not pertain to our system.
In general, the money which these lodges spend in a useless manner, should be converted to the advancement of our grand object.
Whenever a learned Mason shall enter our Order, he must be put under the immediate direction of our Scotch Knights.” 20
From what code can Weishaupt, or his compiler Knigge, have selected such laws as these for their Scotch Knights? Many readers will be ready to answer, that they must have learned them from a Mandarin, a Cartouche, or some hero of the gibbet. But it is no such thing their own ingenuity was sufficient to invent such doctrines.
Weishaupt lays down as a principle, that the end justifies the means: he made the application of it when he taught his adepts to rob the libraries of Princes and Religious Orders; his compiler Knigge applies the same principle to the funds of the honest Masons, and we shall soon see what use they made of those funds.
It will be in vain for the Illuminee (more zealous for the honor of his founder than for that of the compiler Knigge) to object, that Weishaupt never approved of the degree of Scotch Knight.
It is true, he never much admired it. But it is not the system of theft (evidently deduced from his own principles) that he reprobates; not a single expression in any of his letters can denote that he did so; for Knigge might have answered, what do those fools of Masons do with that money.
just as Weishaupt had written what do those rascals of Monks do with their rare books?
He blamed it not for its principles, but because he thought it a miserable composition: der elende Scottische ritter grade are the terms in which he expresses his contempt.
When he corrected this degree, the thefts were not the parts which he expunged; they were too serviceable to the order. Weishaupt, however, consented to let this degree (such as it was) serve as a preparation for the mysteries of his Epoptes; that is to say, for his priests of Illuminism; and when considered in that light it may be truly said, that the Knights brigands were but pitiful and miserable indeed.
I will, however, give the reader an opportunity of judging for himself.