However accurately the Sect may have ascertained the progress of its adepts in the preparatory degrees, still, Weishaupt seems to fear that some may be startled when they come to be acquainted with the ultimate views of Illuminism.
He wishes t, but therefore to lead them to his darkest plots by gradual shades. Hence the division of lesser and greater mysteries, and the subdivision into degrees.
The first degree into which the adepts are initiated in this class is that of Epopt; but these new dignitaries are only known by that title to the inferior class; the higher degrees call them Priests.
Let not the reader take alarm at the denomination of lesser mysteries as if they were of no consequence; for he will gradually, as he ascends, discover their dark designs and dealings.
But before the adept is allowed to proceed, he must collect every thing that his mind, his memory, or all his former lessons can afford, of anti-religious and anti-social principles, to enable him to give written answers to the following questions:
I Do you think the present state of nations corresponds with the object for which man was placed upon earth?
For example, do governments, civil associations, or religion, attain the ends for which they were designed? Do the sciences to which men apply furnish them with real lights; are they conducive (as they ought to be) to real happiness?
Are they not, on the contrary, the offspring of numberless wants, and of the unnatural state in which men live?
Are they not the crude inventions of crazy brains, or of geniuses laboriously subtle?
What civil associations and what sciences do you think tend or do not tend to the grand object?
Did there not formerly exist an order of things more simple?
What sort of an idea can you form of that ancient state of the world?
Now that we have passed through all those nullities (or through all those useless and vain forms of our civil constitutions), do you think that it would be possible to return back to the original and noble simplicity of our forefathers?
Supposing we had returned to it, would not our past misfortunes render that state more durable?
Would not all mankind be in a similar state to an individual who, having enjoyed the sweets of innocence during his childhood, and fallen a prey to error and his passions during his youth, at length, instructed by the risks he has run, and by experience, endeavours to return to that innocence and purity which rendered his childhood so happy?
What means were best to be employed for restoring mankind to that happy state?
Should it be by public measures, by violent revolutions, or by any means that should ensure success?
Does not the Christian Religion in all its purity afford some indications, does it not hint at some state or happiness similar to this? Does it not even prepare it?
Is this holy and simple religion really what different Sects profess it to be at this present day, or is it more perfect?
Can this more perfect Christianity be known or taught? Could the world (such as it now is) support a stronger degree of light? Do you not think that, before the numberless obstacles could be removed, it would be proper to preach to mankind a religion more perfect, a philosophy more elevated, and the art of each one’s governing himself according to his greatest advantage?
Would not our moral and political views lead men to oppose this blessing?
From our political and moral views than, or from an ill-judged interest, or even from deep-rooted prejudices, these obstacles originate.
If men, therefore, oppose the renovation of human happiness, is it not because, slaves to ancient forms, they reject and reprobate every thing which is not to be found in those forms, though it should be the most natural, the grandest, and most noble of all possible things?
Does not personal interest, alas! at present predominate over the general interest of mankind?
Must we not then silently and gradually remedy those disorders before we can flatter ourselves with the re-establishment of the golden age? Meanwhile, is it not advisable to disseminate the truth in Secret Societies?
Can we trace any such secret doctrine in the ancient schools of the sages, or in the allegorical lessons given by Jesus Christ, the Saviour, and liberator of mankind, to his most intimate disciples?
Have you not observed a sort of gradual education in that art which you see has been transmitted to our Order, from the highest antiquity?
Should the answers of the Candidate to all these questions show that the progress he has made in his gradual education is not what the Order had reason to expect, he will solicit in vain the advancement he hoped for.
Should his answers be equivocal, he will receive orders to prepare new ones or to be more explicit.
But if he shows the proper dispositions and the Sect foresee no probability of his being startled at the lessons of the Hierophant on those grand objects which are to be disclosed to him, the Superiors give their assent, and a synod of the illuminized priesthood is held.
The day of the initiation is fixed. At the hour agreed upon, the introducing adept waits upon his new proselyte and takes him into a carriage.
The windows being closed, the Candidate blind-folded and the coachman continually winding and varying his course are precautions more than sufficient to hinder the proselyte from ever being able to trace the spot to which he is conducted. Led by the hand, and still blindfolded, he slowly ascends to the porch of the temple of the mysteries.
His guide then divests him of the Masonic insignia, puts a drawn sword into his hand, takes off the bandage from his eyes, and leaves him, strictly forbidding him to proceed a step until he hears the voice which is to call him. He is then left to his reflections.
With respect to the pomp of the mysteries, when the Brethren celebrate them in all their splendor, the walls of the temple are hung in red and lighted up with an immense number of candles or lamps.
A voice is at length heard, saying, “Come, enter, unhappy fugitive! The fathers wait for you; enter and shut the door after you.
The proselyte obeys the voice which calls him. At the bottom of the temple, he beholds a throne under a rich canopy with a table before it, on which lie a crown, a scepter, a sword, some pieces of gold money, and precious jewels, all interlaid with chains.
At the foot of this table, on a scarlet cushion, is thrown a white robe, a girdle, and the simple ornaments of the sacerdotal costume.
The proselyte, standing at the bottom of the temple and in front of the throne, is addressed by the Hierophant as follows: “Behold and fix thine eyes on the splendor of the throne. If all this childish mummery, these crowns, these scepters, and all these monuments of human degradation, have any charms in your eyes, speak; and it may be in our power to gratify your wishes.
Unhappy man! if such are your objects, if you wish to rise to power that you may assist in the oppression of your Brethren, go, and at your peril make the trial.
Are you in quest of power, of force, of false honours, and of such superfluities, we will labour for you; we will procure such transient advantages for you, we will place you as near the throne as you can desire, and will leave you to the consequences of your folly; but observe, our sanctuary shall be for ever shut against you.
On the contrary, do you wish to be initiated into wisdom, would you teach the art of rendering men better, freer and happier, then be welcome, be thrice welcome. Here you behold the attributes of Royalty, and there, on the cushion, you see the modest vestment of innocence; make thy choice, and let it be the choice which thy heart shall dictate.
If contrary to all expectations, the Candidate should make choice of the Regalia, he hears a thundering voice exclaim, “Monster, retires! cease to pollute this holy place! Begone, fly before it is too late.
At these words, he is led out of the temple by the Brother who introduced him.
But should he choose the white robe, how different will be the language! “Health and salutation to thy great and noble soul! Such was the choice we expected from you.
But stop; it is not permitted to you to invest yourself with that robe until you have learned to what you are in future destined by us.
The Candidate is then ordered to be seated. The Code of the Mysteries is opened, and the Brethren in silence attend to the oracles of the Hierophant.
Now, reader, you who have been through so long a course of trials, questions, rituals, and insidious degrees; who have been led through all the preparatory labyrinth of illuminized education, if still you be in the dark as to the object of such precautions and artifices, follow me into this den which the Sect dares to call the holy place; seat thyself by the adept, and listen to their Oracles.
This is the masterpiece of the founder. Hear with patience, though your indignation should be excited by his monstrous fertility in Sophism, in impiety, in blasphemy against your gospel and your God, treachery against your Magistrates, your country, and its laws, against your titles and your rights, against those of your ancestors and your progeny Let Kings and Subjects, the rich and poor, the merchant and the labourer, let every class of citizens attend; let them hearken, and learn at length what hellish plots are contriving against them in the dark recesses of these diabolical dens.
In vain shall the lethargic soul accuse us of credulity or groundless terrors.
Those lessons which the Sect view as the masterpiece of their code lies before me, such as they flowed from the pen of the Legislator, such as they were published by order of the Sovereign who seized the archives of the Sect, that all nations might learn the dreadful dangers with which they were menaced.
I have them again embellished by the compiler of the Sect, corrected and reviewed by the Council of the Areopagites, attested by the compiler as true and conformable to the copy signed and sealed with the signet of the Sect.
Read then, and rock thyself to sleep in the cradle of voluntary ignorance if thou canst, content with having assured thyself that every conspiracy against the existence of civil society or of all government whatever, every conspiracy against the existence of property, can be but a chimera.
It is to the Candidate, and in presence of the Brethren already initiated to these mysteries, that the Illuminizing President addresses the following discourse:
The discourse of the Hierophant for the Degree of Priest or Epopt of the Illuminees.
At length (he says) the time of your reward succeeds to the trials of an assiduous preparation.
At present you know yourself, and have learned to know others; you are what you ought to be, such as we wished to see you.
It will now be your duty to conduct others.
What you already know, and what you are about to learn, will expose to your view the extreme weakness of human nature. In this advantage alone lies the true source of power which one man exercises over another.
The dark clouds dissipate; the sun of light rises; the gates of the sanctuary unfold; a portion of our mysteries is going to be revealed to you. Let the gates of the temple be shut against the profane; I will only speak to the Illustrious, to the Holy, to the Elect. I speak to those who have ears to hear, who have tongues which they can command, and who have minds sufficiently enlightened to understand.
Surrounded by the Illustrious, you are about to enter into that class which bears an essential part in the government of our sublime Order.
But do you know what it is to govern, can you conceive what this right can be in a secret society?
To exercise such an empire, not over the vulgar or the grandees of the people, but over the most accomplished men, over men in all stations, of all nations, of all religions; to reign over them without any exterior constraint, to keep them united by durable bonds, to inspire them all with one spirit; to govern with all possible precision, activity, and silence, men spread over the whole surface of the globe, even to its utmost confines.
This is a problem which no political wisdom has ever been able to solve.
To reunite the distinctions of Equality, Despotism, and Liberty; to prevent the treasons and persecutions which would be the inevitable consequences; of nothing, to create great things; to stand firm against the swelling torrent of evils and abuse; to make happiness universally shine on human nature; would be a masterpiece of morality and polity reunited.
The civil constitutions of states offer but little aid to such an undertaking. Fear and violence are their grand engines; with us, each one is voluntary to lend his assistance.
Were men what they ought to be, we might on their first admission into our society explain the greatness of our plans to them, but the lure of a secret is perhaps the only means of retaining those who might turn their backs upon us as soon as their curiosity had been gratified.
The ignorance or imperfect education of many makes it requisite that they should be first formed by our moral lessons.
The complaints, the murmurs of others against the trials to which we are obliged to condemn them, sufficiently show you what pains we must bestow, with what patience and what constancy we must be endowed; how intensely the love of the grand object must glow in our hearts, to make us keep true to our posts in the midst of such unthankful labour; and not abandon for ever the hope of regenerating mankind.
“It is to partake with us of these labors that you have been called. To observe others day and night; to form them, to succour them, to watch over them; to stimulate the courage of the pusillanimous, the activity and the zeal of the lukewarm; to instruct the ignorant; to raise up those who have fallen, to fortify those who stagger; to repress the ardour of rashness, to prevent disunion; to veil the faults and weaknesses of others; to guard against the acute inquisitiveness of wit; to prevent imprudence and treason; in short, to maintain the subordination to and esteem of our Superiors, and friendship and union among the Brethren, are the duties, among others still greater, that we impose upon you.
Have you any idea of secret societies; of the rank they hold, or of the parts they perform in the events of this world?
Do you view them as insignificant or transient meteors?
O, Brother! God and Nature, when disposing of all things according to the proper times and places, had their admirable ends in view; and they make use of these secret societies as the only and as the indispensable means of conducting us thither
Hearken, and may you be filled with admiration!
This is the point whether all the moral tends; it is on this that depends the knowledge of the rights of secret societies, of all our doctrine, of all our ideas of good and bad, of just and unjust.
You are here situated between the world past and the world to come. Cast your eyes boldly on what has passed, and in an instant ten thousand bolts shall fall, and thousands of gates shall burst open to futurity You shall behold the inexhaustible riches of God and of Nature, the degradation and the dignity of man. You shall see the world and human nature in its youth, if not in its childhood, even there where you thought to find it in its decrepitude and verging toward its ruin and ignominy.
Should this long exordium, which I have nevertheless abridged, have fatigued the reader, let him rest and reflect for an instant.
The enthusiastic strain which predominates in this first part pervades the whole. Weishaupt thought it necessary to his object to afford his proselytes no time for reflection.
He begins by inflaming them; he promises great things; though this impious and artful mountebank knows that he is going to fob them off with the greatest follies, the grossest impieties, and errors.
I have called him an impious and artful mountebank, but that is falling far short of what the proofs attest. Weishaupt knows that he deceives, and wishes to delude his proselytes in the most atrocious manner.
When he has misled, he scoffs at them, and with his confidants derides their imbecility. He has, however, his reasons for beguiling them, and knows for what uses he intends them when he has infused into them his erroneous and vicious principles.
The greater the consideration they may enjoy in the world, the more heartily he laughs at their delusion. He thus writes to his intimate friends:
You cannot conceive how much my degree of Priest is admired by our people. But what is the most extraordinary is, that several great Protestants and reformed divines, who are of our Order, really believe that that part of the discourse which alludes to religion contains the true spirit and real sense of Christianity; poor mortals! what could I not make you believe?
Candidly I own to you, that I never thought of becoming the founder of a religion.
In this manner does the impostor delude his followers, and then scoffs at them in private.
These great divines were probably of that class among the protestants which we should, among us, call apostates, a Syeyes or an Autun, for example; for it is impossible that any man endowed with common sense or candour could avoid seeing that the whole tendency of this long discourse is the total overthrow of all religion and of all government.
A second observation well worthy the notice of our readers is, the extreme importance which the Sect gives to secret societies, and what mighty expectations it grounds on their mysterious existence.
Let nations and chiefs of nations examine themselves, reflect whether they have ever calculated the means and importance of these secret societies so well as those who founded them; and say, whether fear and diffidence on the one side should not keep pace with the expectations and confidence of the other. But let us return to the Lodge wherein Weishaupt initiates his adepts.
Continuing his enthusiastic strain, the Hierophant informs the proselyte, that Nature, having a great plan to develop, begins by the lesser and most imperfect parts; that she then regularly proceeds to the middle terms, to bring things to a state of perfection; which state may serve as a point whence she may again depart, to raise them to a higher order of perfection.
Nature (says he) makes us begin at infancy, from infancy she raises us to manhood. She at first left us in the savage state, but soon brought us to civilization, perhaps that we might be more sensible, more enraptured and tenacious of what we are, from viewing the contrast of what we were.
But to what changes, and those of an order infinitely more important, does our future destiny lead us!”
Were the candidate master of his own reason, he must conclude from these principles, that human nature had acquired perfection when passing from the savage state to that of civil society; that if he is still to acquire perfection it can never be by returning to his primitive state.
But sophisters have their tortuosities, and the adepts are involved in a folly and blindness, with which the Almighty God permits them to be stricken since they prefer error to truth and impiety to Christianity.
As has the individual man (continues the Hierophant) so human nature in the aggregate has its childhood, its youth, its manhood, and its old age.
At each of these periods mankind learns and are subject to fresh wants hence arise their political and moral revolutions It is at the age of manhood that human nature appears in all its dignity a whole society It is then that, taught by long experience, man conceives at length how great a misfortune it is for hire to invade the rights of others, to avail himself of some few advantages, purely exterior, to raise himself, to the prejudice of others.
It is then that he sees and feels the happiness and dignity of man.
The first age of mankind is that of savage and uncouth nature. A family is the whole society; hunger and thirst easily quenched, a shelter from the inclemency of the seasons, a woman, and, after fatigue, rest, are then the only wants.
At that period men enjoyed the two most inestimable blessings Equality and Liberty; they enjoyed them to their utmost extent; they would have forever enjoyed them, had they chosen to follow the track which Nature had traced for them or had it not entered the plans of God and Nature first to show man for what happiness he was destined; happiness the more precious, as he had begun by tasting it; happiness so early lost, but instantaneously regretted and fruitlessly sought after, until he should have learned how to make proper use of his strength, and how to conduct himself in his intercourse with the rest of mankind.
In his primitive state he was destitute of the conveniencies of life, but he was not on that account unhappy; not knowing them, he did not feel the want of them.
Health was his ordinary state, and physical pain was his only source of uneasiness Oh happy mortals!
who were not sufficiently enlightened to disturb the repose of your mind, or to feel those great agents of our miseries the love of power and of distinctions, the propensity to sensuality, the thirst after the representative signs of all wealth, those truly original sins with all their progeny, envy, avarice, intemperance, sickness, and all the tortures of imagination!
Thus we see this primitive and savage state, this first essay of Nature, already transformed (in the mouth of the Hierophant) into the happiest state that man ever knew:
Equality and Liberty are the sovereign principles of happiness in that state. Should the reader be as much blinded as the proselyte, and not see whither all this is tending, let him proceed, and hear how man was deprived of this happiness by the institution of civil societies.
An infortunate germ soon vivifies in the breast of man, and his primitive peace and felicity disappear.”
“As families multiplied, the means of subsistence began to fail; the nomade (or roaming) life ceased, and PROPERTY started into existence; men chose habitations; agriculture made them intermix. Language became universal; living together, one man began to measure his strength with another, and the weaker were distinguished from the stronger.
This undoubtedly created the idea of mutual defence, of one individual governing divers families reunited, and of thus defending their persons and their fields against the invasion of an enemy; but hence Liberty was ruined in its foundation, and Equality disappeared.”
Oppressed with wants unknown until that period, man perceived that his own powers were no longer sufficient.
To supply this defect, the weakest imprudently submitted to the strongest or to the wisest; not however to be ill-treated, but that he might be protected, conducted, and enlightened.
All submission, therefore, even of the most unpolished mortal, has an existence only in as much as he wants the person to whom he subjects himself, and on the express condition that that person can succour him.
His power ceases when my weakness no longer exists, or when another acquires superiority.
Kings are fathers; the paternal power is at an end when the child has acquired his strength.
The father would offend his children if he pretended to prolong his rights beyond that term.
Every man having attained to years of discretion may govern himself, when a whole nation therefore is arrived at that period, there can exist no further plea for keeping it in wardship.
In putting such language into the mouth of the Hierophant, the founder of Illuminism had too well studied the strength and illusion of words; he had been too cautious in the choice and preparation of his adepts ever to fear that any of them would answer, You who thus give oracles, what do you understand by nations having attained their majority?
Without doubt such as, having emerged from ignorance and barbarism, have acquired the lights necesssary for their happiness; and to what can they be indebted for these lights and this happiness, if not to their civil association?
It will be then, if ever, that they will find it both reasonable and necessary to remain under the guardianship of their laws and of their government, lest they should fall back into the barbarism and ignorance of the roaming clans, or be precipitated into the horrors of anarchy, from revolution to revolution, under the successive tyranny of the brigand, of the executioner of the sophisticated despot, or under that of a sophister Syeyes and his colegislative Marsellois, of a Robespierre and his guillotines, of the Triumvirs and their proscriptions.
The populace alone in the minority of ignorance, the sophisters alone in the majority of wickedness and corruption, shall applaud thy mysteries.”
Certain of not meeting with such reflexions from the adepts, the Hierophant continues to inculcate his principles by attributing every thing to strength, and destroying all principles of morality or of reason, though he wil affect the tone of both; and ends by forming his judgment on man in society, as he would judge tigers and wild beasts in the forests.
These are his new doctrines.
Never did strength submit to weakness.
Nature has destined the weak to serve, because they have wants; the strong man to govern, because he can be useful. Let the one lose his force, and the other acquire it, they will then change situations, and he that obeyed will command.
He that stands in need of another, also depends upon him, and he has renounced to him his rights. Hence few wants is the first step towards liberty.
It is for this reason that the savages are the most enlightened of men, and perhaps they alone are free.
When wants are durable, servitude is also lasting. Safety is a durable want. Had men refrained from all injustice, they would have remained free; it was injustice which made them bend beneath the yoke.
To acquire safety, they deposited the whole force in the hands of one man; and thus created a new evil, that of fear.
The work of their own hands frightened them; and to live in safety they robbed themselves of that very safety.
This is the cause of our governments.
Where then shall we find a protecting force?
In union; but how rare, alas! is that union, except in our new and secret associations, better guided by wisdom, and leagued in straiter bonds! and hence it is that nature itself inclines us toward these associations.
Subtle as is the artifice in this description of human nature, and in that affectation of beholding on the one side nothing but tyrants and despots, and on the other only oppressed and trembling slaves in the state of society; whatever share Nature may have had in the institution of social order, or in reclaiming mankind from forests and wildernesses to live under laws and a common chief; the Hierophant nevertheless exultingly exclaims, Such is the faithful and philosophic picture of despotism and of liberty, of our wishes and of our fears.
Despotism was engrafted on liberty, and from despotism shall liberty once more spring.
The re-union of men in society is at once the cradle and the grave of despotism; it is also the grave and cradle of liberty.
We were once possessed of liberty, and we lost it but to find it again and never lose it more; to learn by the very privation of it the art of better enjoying it in future.
Reader, observe these words; if they do not evidently point out the object of the Sect, if you do not perceive the wish of bringing mankind back to those times of the nomade herds of savages, and of men destitute of property, laws, or government, read and convince yourself by what follows: “Nature drew men from the savage state and re-united them in civil societies; from these societies we proceed to further wishes, and to a wiser choice (aus den staaten tretten wir in neue klüger gewählte).
New associations present themselves to these wishes, and by their means we return to the state whence we came, not again to run the former course, but better to enjoy our new destiny—let us explain this mystery.
“Men then had passed from their peaceable state to the yoke of servitude; Eden, that terrestrial paradise, was lost to them. Subjects of sin and slavery, they were reduced to servitude and obliged to gain their bread by the sweat of their brow.
In the number of these men some promised to protect, and thus became their chiefs at first they reigned over herds or clans these were soon conquered, or united together in order to form a numerous people; hence arose nations and their chiefs kings of nations.
At the formation of states and nations, the world ceased to be a great family, to be a single empire; the great bond of nature was rent asunder.”
The impudence of such assertions must astonish the reader; he will ask himself can there possibly exist beings thus belying evidence itself, and pretending to show the universe forming but one and the same family, and the grand bond of nature in those roaming and scattered herds, where the child can scarcely walk when he is separated from his father?
How is it possible to represent mankind as divorcing from the great family, at the very period when they unite under the same chiefs and the same laws, for their mutual protection and safety?
But, reader, suspend thy indignation. Let us call up in evidence against the Sect those brigands and sophisticated murderers which it decorated with the high-sounding title of Patriots, and which it stimulated to bloodshed and methodized murder by the fanaticizing sounds of people, nation, country.
At the very time that they rend the air with such accents, with names so dear as they pretend, hear the maledictions which their mysteries heap upon every people, every nation, every country.
At that period, when men re-united and formed nations, “they ceased to acknowledge a common name Nationalism, or the love for a particular nation, took place of the general love. With the division of the globe, and of its states, benevolence was restrained within certain limits, beyond which it could no longer trespass.
Then it became a merit to extend the bounds of states at the expence of the neighbouring ones.
Then it became lawful to abuse, offend, and despise foreigners, to attain that end and this virtue was styled patriotism; and he was styled a patriot who, just toward his countrymen, and unjust to others, was blind to the merits of strangers, and believed the very vices of his own country to be perfections.
In such a case, why not restrain that love within a narrower compass, to citizens living in the same town, or to the members of one family; or why even should not each person have concentrated his affections in himself.
We really beheld Patriotism generating Localism, the confined spirit of families, and at length Egoism. Hence the origin of states and governments, and of civil society, has really proved to be the seeds of discord, and Patriotism has found its punishment in itself .
Diminish, reject that love of the country, and mankind will once more learn to know and love each other as men.
Partiality being cast aside, that union of hearts will once more appear and expand itself on the contrary, extend the bonds of Patriotism, and you will teach man that it is impossible to blame the closer contraction of love, to a single family, to a single person, in a word, to the strictest Egoism.
But let us abridge these blasphemies.
The Hierophant, under pretence of his universal love, may vent his spleen against the distinctions of Greeks or Romans, of French or English, of Italian or Spanish, of Pagan or Jew, of Christians or Mahometans, which denote nations and their religions: he may repeat, if he pleases, that amidst these different denominations that of man is overlooked; what will be the result of such declamation?
With our illuminizing doctor, in common with every class of the disorganizing Sophisters, is not this pretended universal love to be a cloak for the most odious hypocrisy.
He only pretends to universal philanthropy, that he may dispense with loving his neighbour. He detests the love of one’s country, only because he detests the laws of nations; he cannot even brook the love of one’s family (he has given us a fine specimen in the person of his sister), and he will substitute that universal love because he is no more attached to them than he is to the Chinese, the Tartar, or the Hottentot, which he neither has seen nor ever will see, and that all human nature may be equally indifferent to him.
He extends the bond that it may lose its elasticity and discontinue its action.
He calls himself citizen of the universe, that he may cease to be a citizen in his own country, a friend in society, or a fond father and dutiful child in his own family.
His love, he tells us, extends from pole to pole, that he may love nothing that is near him. Such is the philanthropy of our Cosmopolites!
The proselyte stands astonished in stupid admiration at these expressions of universal love.
The Hierophant proceeds to the Codes, of Nations. Still in extasy at these doctrines, he learns that they are in direct opposition to the laws of nature; nor will he even perceive that his new code is in direct opposition to the very first laws of nature, as it eradicates the love of one’s own family and that of one’s country.
Nor will he ask, why the fulfilling of his duty toward his fellow-countrymen should hinder him from treating the barbarian or the savage with proper affection?
Then follow new sophisms, to persuade the adept that the original fault of man was, the dereliction of the Equality and Liberty of the savage state by the institution of civil laws.
Here, more than ever, are calumny and hatred blended with enthusiasm by the Hierophant, who, reviewing the different ages of the world since the existence of civil institutions, pictures nations as groaning under oppression, despotism, and slavery, or glutted with the blood of wars and revolutions, which always terminate in tyranny.
At one time it is the representation of Kings surrounding themselves with herds or legions called soldiers, in order to gratify their ambition by conquests on strangers, or to reign by terror over their enslaved subjects; at other times, it is the people themselves brandishing their arms, not to attack tyranny in its source, but merely to change their tyrants.
If they think of giving themselves representatives, it is these very representatives, who, forgetting that they only hold their missions and powers from the people, form Aristocracies and Oligarchies, which all end by flowing into the general reservoir of Monarchy and Despotism.
He never loses sight of his sophism of human nature degraded and vilified under the yoke of tyranny.
These declamations, enthusiastically pronounced, at length make the proselyte exclaim, in unison with his master, “Are such then the consequences of the institution of states and of civil society?
O folly! oh people! that you did not foresee the fate that awaited you; that you should yourselves have seconded your despots in degrading human nature to servitude, and even to the condition of the brute!
Could a true Philosopher have been present, his heart must have burst with generous indignation; he would have abruptly challenged the Hierophant to declare whence he had learned to metamorphose the annals of society into those of brigands and monsters?
Is the history of man then reduced to the records of plagues, famines, storms, tempests, or of convulsed elements? Have no serene days shone on man?
Shall the sun be represented as a malevolent object, because it is sometimes obscured by fogs or clouds?
Are we to fly from our habitations because many have been destroyed by fire?
Shall we curse life and health because we are subject to pains and infirmities?
Why else this fable painting of the disasters which have in the course of ages befallen civil society?
Why are we to be silent on the misfortunes from which it has preserved us, or on the advantages which it has heaped on man, in reclaiming him from the forests?
But the voice of reason cannot penetrate into the den of conspiracy.
The oracles of Weishaupt shall there be confidently repeated by the Hierophant.
He draws nigher and nigher to the grand object, to the means of making those misfortunes disappear, which originate, as he pretends, in the institution of laws and governments.
Oh nature! he continues, how great and incontestible are thy rights? It is from the womb of disaster and mutual destruction that the means of safety spring!
Oppression disappears because it meets with abettors, and reason regains its rights because people wish to stifle it. He, at least, who wishes to mislead others, should seek to govern them by the advantages of instruction and science.
Kings themselves at length perceive, that there is little glory in reigning over ignorant herds Legislators begin to acquire wisdom, and they favour property and industry: perverse motives propagate the sciences, and Kings protect them as agents of oppression.
Other men profit of them to investigate the origin of their rights. They at length seize on that unknown mean of forwarding a revolution in the human mind, and of thus triumphing for ever over oppression.
But the triumph would be of short duration, and man would fall back into his degraded state, had not Providence in those distant ages husbanded the means which it has transmitted down to us, of secretly meditating and at length operating the salvation of human kind.
Those means are, the secret schools of Philosophy.
Those schools have been in all ages the archives of nature and of the rights of man.
These schools shall one day retrieve the fall of human nature, and Princes and Nations shall disappear from the face of the earth, and that without any violence.
Human nature shall form one great family, and the earth shall become the habitation of the man of reason.
Morality shall alone produce this great Revolution. The day shall come when each father shall, like Abraham and the Patriarchs, become the Priest and absolute Sovereign of his family. Reason shall be the only book of laws, the sole Code of man.
This is one of our grand mysteries. Attend to the demonstration of it, and learn how it has been transmitted down to us.
I have already said, that had my object been only to prove the reality of a Conspiracy formed by Illuminism against the existence of every society, every civil Code, and every nation; these lessons of the Hierophant would render every other proof superfluous.
But that the reader may know the full extent of the dangers which threaten us, it is necesssary that he should be shown how those plots of frenzy become really transformed into plots of profound wickedness; that he should be acquainted with the means employed enthusiastically to inflame the minds of whole legions of adepts. Let us then attend to the Hierophant. If patience be necessary to follow him, greater still has it been necessary to enable me to transcribe such doctrines.
What strange blindness can have induced men to imagine that human nature was always to be governed as it has hitherto been.
Where shall we find a man acquainted with all the resources of nature?
Who dare prescribe limits, and say thus far shalt thou proceed, and no farther, to that nature, whose law is unity in the variegated infinite?
Whence shall issue the command, that it shall always run the same course, and for ever renew it again Where is the being who has condemned men, the best, the wisest, and the most enlightened of men, to perpetual slavery?
Why should human nature be bereft of its most perfect attribute, that of governing itself?
Why are those persons to be always led who are capable of conducting themselves?
Is it then impossible for mankind or at least the greater part, to come to their majority?
If one be enabled to do it why should not another; show to one person what you have taught another; teach him the grand art of mastering his passions and regulating his desires; teach him, that from his earliest youth he stands in need of others; that he must abstain from giving offence if he wishes not to be offended; that he must be beneficent if he wishes to receive favours.
Let him be patient, indulgent, wise, and benevolent. Let these virtues be made easy to him by principles, experience, and examples; and you will soon see whether he needs another to conduct him?
If it is true, that the greater part of mankind is too weak or too ignorant to conceive these simple truths and to be convinced by them; Oh then our happiness will be at an end, and let us cease to labor at rendering mankind better, or at seeking to enlighten them.”
“Oh prejudice! oh contradiction of the human mind! shall the empire of reason, the capacity of governing ourselves, be but a chimerical dream for the greater number of men, while on the other hand prejudice leads us to believe that such is the inherent right of the children of Kings, of reigning families, and of every man whom wisdom or particular circumstances render independent!”
What horrid artifice is contained in these sentences!
The poor proselyte really imagines that he sees the most striking contradictions in the very foundations of our civil societies.
He really thinks that we believe them to rest on the hereditary privilege of Kings and of their children, to be born with all the necessary wisdom to conduct themselves, while nature has refused such gifts to other mortals; though Weishaupt, who scoffs in private at the credulity and folly of his adepts, knows as well as we do, that such has never been the idea even of the most ignorant populace.
He knows that we believe Kings to be born children like other men, with the same weaknesses, the same passions, and like incapacity; he knows as well as we do, that the gift of conducting ourselves and others is to be acquired by education, and by the help and lights with which a man may be encompassed; and we know as well as he does, that the child of the most obscure parentage would often make a better king than many Sovereigns; as he might also be an excellent magistrate, or a great general, had he received a proportionate education.
But does there hence follow any contradiction in civil society, because, uncertain as to the persons who would be the most proper for governing, but certain of the intrigues and broils which would accompany the election of Kings, it has obviated those inconveniencies by hereditary crowns and empires?
And after all, what is the meaning of that sophisticated pretense founded on the power of being able to conduct oneself?
Question the most prudent and the wisest of men, and he will readily say, though I do not stand in need of laws, magistrates, or Kings, to restrain me from being unjust toward others, or from oppressing and plundering, I yet want their assistance to secure me from being oppressed or plundered.
The less I am inclined to injure others, the more I need the protection of the law from all injury. You are pleased to call my submission to the laws slavery; I, on the contrary, look to it for my safety, and as the guarantee of that liberty which enables me to do good and to live happy and at peace in society.
I have never heard of laws which forbad me to live like an honest man. It is the wicked man only who recognises liberty but in the impunity of his crimes; I scorn such liberty and bless the hand that deprives me of it.
You call him a tyrant and a despot, I call him my King and my benefactor.
The better I know how to conduct myself with respect to others, the more thankful I am to him who hinders others from behaving ill to me.
The reader must pardon me these reflexions; I know they are superfluous to those who think; but may not this work falls into the hands of persons as credulous as the unhappy proselyte. In exposing the envenomed weapons of the Sect, let it not be said that I withhold the antidote.
Should any be still blind enough not to perceive the tendency of all these sophisms of Illuminism, let them hearken to the Sect ardently declaring their hopes; the Hierophant continues:
Are we then fallen from our dignity so low as not even to feel our chains, or to hug them, and not cherish the flattering hope of being able to break them, or to recover our liberty, not by rebellion or violence (for the time is not yet come), but by force of reason. Because a thing cannot be accomplished to Morrow, should we despair of ever being able to effect it?
Abandon such short-sighted men to their own reasonings and their own conclusions; they may conclude again and again; but nature will continue to act.
Inexorable to all their interested remonstrances, she proceeds, and nothing can impede her majestic course. Some events may take place contrary to our wishes, but they will all rectify of themselves; inequalities will be levelled, and a lasting calm shall succeed the tempest.
The only conclusion to be drawn from all these objections is, that we are too much accustomed to the present state of things, or perhaps self-interest has too great sway over us, to let us own that it is not impossible to attain universal independence ]
Let then the laughers laugh and the scoffers scoff. He that observes and compares what Nature has done with what she does at present, will soon see, that in spite of all our intrigues she tends invariably toward her object.
Her proceedings are imperceptible to him who reflects but little; they are visible only to the sage whose mind’s eye penetrates even to the womb of time.
From the summit of the mount, he discovers in the horizon that distant country, the very existence of which is not surmised by the servile multitude of the plain.”
The principal means which Weishaupt. offers to his adepts for the conquest of this land of promise, this soil of independence, are, to diminish the wants of the people, and to enlighten their minds.
Hearken to his lessons, you who, heretofore protected by your laws, peaceably exercised an honourable and lucrative profession, and you who, once rivals of the flourishing commerce of Great Britain on the immensity of the ocean, are now but the sorrowful and dejected coasters of the Texel, imprudent disciples of a disorganizing Sect.
Learn, that it is in the secret hatred sworn against you by the Sect in its mysteries that you are to seek the destruction of Lyons, the pillage of Bourdeaux, the ruin of Nantes and Marseilles, the fate, in short, of so many other towns flourishing in commerce, even the fate of Amsterdam itself; and then let your aching eye glance on your trees of Equality and Liberty.
At the very time when you thought that you were seconding the views of the Sect against the Nobles, Priests, and Monarchs, only to reinstate the people in their rights of Equality and Liberty, the Sect was aiming its blows at you as the grand artificers of Despotism.
At that very period your profession was already proscribed by the mysteries, as that which of all others most surely tended to retain the people in slavery; the Illuminizing Jacobin was teaching his adepts, that “he who wishes to subject nations to his yoke, need but to create wants which he alone can satisfy.
Erect the mercantile tribe (die kaufmanschaft) into an hierarchical body; that is to say, confer on it some rank or some authority in the government, and you will have created the most formidable, the most despotic of all powers. You will see it giving laws to the universe, and on it alone will rest the independence of one part of the world and the slavery of the other.
For that man dictates the law who has it in his power to create or foresee, to stifle, weaken, or a satisfy want. And who is better enabled to do this than merchants?
Thus we see that those men who were such ardent supporters of Jacobinism in our commercial towns, with a view to partake of the government, are precisely those whose profession the profound Jacobin chiefly detests in every form of government. May the elucidation of this mystery inspire the industrious inhabitants of hospitable Britain with new zeal for their laws!
The discovery of such a snare is of too great importance to their safety, to allow me to conceal it from them.
In the next place, the Hierophant proceeds from the art of diminishing wants in order to operate the independence of nations, to the duty of diffusing what he calls light.
He on the contrary (those are his words) “who wishes to render mankind free, teaches them how to refrain from the acquisition of things whic they cannot afford: he enlightens them, he infuses into them boldness and inflexible manners. He that teaches them sobriety, temperance, and œconomy, is more dangerous to the throne than the man who openly preaches regicide.
If you cannot diffuse at the same instant this degree of light among all men, at least begin by enlightening yourself, and by rendering yourself better.
Serve, assist, and mutually support each other; augment our numbers; render yourselves at least independent, and leave to time and posterity the care of doing the rest. When your numbers shall be augmented to a certain degree, when you shall have acquired strength by your union, hesitate no longer, but begin to render yourself powerful and formidable to the wicked (that is to say to all who will resist their plans); the very circumstance of your being sufficiently numerous to talk of force, and that you really do talk of it, that circumstance alone makes the profane and wicked tremble That they may not be overpowered by numbers, many will become good (like you) of themselves and will join your party.
You will soon acquire sufficient force to bind the hands of your opponents, to subjugate them and to stifle wickedness in the embryo.” That is to say, as it may be understood in future, you will soon be able to stifle every principle of law, of government, of civil or political society, a whose very institution in the eyes of an Illuminee is the germ of all the vices and misfortunes of human nature.
The mode of diffusing universal light, is not to proclaim it at once to the whole world, but to begin with yourself; then turn toward your next neighbour; you two can enlighten a third and fourth; let these in the same manner extend and multiply the number of the children of light, until numbers and force shall throw power into our hands.
I observe in the ritual of this degree, that should the Hierophant be fatigued by the length of this discourse, he a may take a breath, and let one of the adepts continue the instruction of the proselyte.
Our readers also may avail themselves of this permission, and they have copious matter for reflection in what they have hitherto read. They may perhaps be inclined to ask, to what degree the people must diminish their wants not to stand in need of laws? They will perceive that bread itself must be denied them; for as long as fields are cultivated, laws will be necessary to protect the crops and to restrain men from reaping that which they have not sown; and if on the first view the Sophism appears wicked, the reader will soon perceive that it is but folly in the garb of Sophistry.
The better to form their judgments on the lessons of the Hierophant, they will have to compare that Revolution, which is to be the effect of instruction alone, and which is insensibly to take place without the least shock or rebellion, with that period when the adepts shall have acquired numbers, force, and power, enabling them to bind the hands of their opponents, and to subjugate all who may still show any affection for their laws, or for that civil order in society which the Sect wishes to suppress.