Founder of the Illuminees
There sometimes appear men formed with such unhappy dispositions, that we are led to consider them in no other view than as emanations from the evil genius, bereft by the avenging God of the power of doing good. Imbecil in the sphere of wisdom, such men are only efficient in the arts of vice and destruction; they are ingenious in those conceptions, skilful in that cunning, and fruitful in those resources which enable them despotically to reign in the schools of falsehood, depravity, and wickedness. In competition with the Sophisters, these men will surpass them in the arts of exhibiting error in false and delusive colours; of disguising the vicious passions under the mask of virtue; and of clothing impiety in the garb of Philosophy. In the den of conspirators they are pre-eminent by the atrocity of their deeds; they excel in the arts of preparing revolutions, and of combining the downfal of the Altar with that of Empires. If their career be ever impeded, it is only when they approach the paths of virtue and of real science. When Heaven in its wrath permits a being of this species to appear on the earth, it has only to put nations within the sphere of his activity, and it will be awfully avenged.
With such qualities, and under such auspices, was born in Bavaria, about the year 1748, Adam Weishaupt, better known in the annals of the sect by the name of Spartacus. To the eternal shame of his Serene protector, this impious man, heretofore Professor of Law at the University of Ingolstadt, but now banished from his country as a traitor to his Prince and to the whole universe, peacefully at the court of Ernest Lewis, Duke of Saxe Gotha, enjoys an asylum, receives a pension from the public treasury, and is dignified with the title of Honorary Counsellor to that Prince.
An odious phenomenon in nature, an Atheist void of remorse, a profound hypocrite, destitute of those superior talents which lead to the vindication of truth, he is possessed of all that energy and ardour in vice which generates conspirators for impiety and anarchy. Shunning, like the ill-boding owl, the genial rays of the sun, he wraps around him the mantle of darkness; and history shall record of him, as of the evil spirit, only the black deeds which he planned or executed. Of mean birth, his youth was passed in obscurity, and but a single trait of his private life has pierced the cloud in which he had enveloped himself—but it is one of hateful depravity and of the most consummate villany.—Incestuous Sophister! it was the widow of his brother whom he seduced.—Atrocious father! it was for the murder of his offspring that he solicited poison and the dagger.—Execrable hypocrite! he implored, he conjured both art and friendship to destroy the innocent victim, the child whose birth must betray the morals of his father. The scandal from which he shrinks is not that of his crime; it is (he says and writes it himself) the scandal which, publishing of the depravity of his heart, would deprive him of that authority by which, under the cloak of virtue, he plunged youth into vice and error.—Monstrous Sophister! he accuses the devils of not having skreened him from this scandal by those abominations which called the vengeance of the God of Nature on the son of Judah.—Then, impudently daring, he perjures himself; he calls every thing that is sacred to witness, that neither he nor his friends ever knew of the existence of those poisons or secret means of skreening him from infamy, much less that they had ever proposed, sought, or employed them. He challenges, and at length forces, the magistrates to prove the accusation; they produce the letters of the perjured Sophister, and therein we behold him entreating a first, a second, and even a third confidant, to seek, or cause to be sought, and to communicate to him, these horrid arts. We see him recalling promises of three years standing with respect to these means. He complains of the little success of his attempts, he accuses the agents of timidity or of ignorance; he entreats and conjures them to renew their attempts, telling them, that it was not yet too late, but that expedition was necessary. Who can paint the depravity of this single trait. How monstrous the being who could have combined such depravity! That the God who humiliates the Sophister should have permitted this single trait to have been brought to light, will suffice to show how far wickedness may be carried by the man who, with virtue on his tongue, and under the shade of that sacred name, was forming and fanaticising the blood-thirsty legions of a Robespierre.
After so shocking an accusation the reader will naturally expect us to produce incontrovertible proofs. We will, therefore, first lay before him the letter of Weishaupt to his adept Hertel; it is the Third Letter in the Second Volume of the Original Writings of the Illuminees in Bavaria.
"Now," says Weishaupt to this adept, "let me, under the most profound secrecy, lay open the situation of my heart. It destroys my rest, it render me incapable of every thing. I am almost desperate. My honour is in danger, and I am on the eve of losing that reputation which gave me so great an authority over our people. My sister-in-law is with child. I have sent her to Athens (Munich) to Euriphon, to solicit a marriage licence from Rome. You see how necessary it is that she should succeed, and that without loss of time; every moment is precious. But should she fail, what shall I do?—How shall I restore the honour of a person who is the victim of a crime that is wholly mine? We have already made several attempts to destroy the child; she was determined to undergo all; but Euriphon is too timid. Yet I scarcely see any other expedient. Could I depend on Celse's secrecy (the professor Bader at Munich), he could be of great service to me; he had promised me his aid three years ago. Mention it to him if you think proper. See what can be done. I should be sorry that Cato knew any thing of it, lest he should tell all his friends. If you could extricate me from this unfortunate step, you would restore me to life, to honour, to rest, and to authority (that is over his people). If you cannot, I forewarn you of it, I will hazard a desperate blow, for I neither can nor will lose my honour. I know not what devil". . . . [Here decency obliges us to be silent; but he continues] "As yet nobody knows any thing of it but Euriphon; it is not too late to make an attempt, for she is only in her fourth month, and the worst of it is, that it is a criminal case, and that alone makes the greatest efforts and the most extreme (or boldest) resolution necesssary. Be well and live happier than I do, and do think of some means which can extricate me from this affair. I am yours, &c. Spartacus."
Notwithstanding his repugnance to let Cato into the secret, Weishaupt is at length obliged to write to him on the subject, and, after repeating that which through decency we have omitted above, this monster of hypocrisy says, "what vexes me the most in all this, is that my authority over our people will be greatly diminished—that I have exposed a weak side, of which they will not fail to advantage themselves whenever I may preach morality, and exhort them to virtue and modesty."
Now let us observe the same Weishaupt barefacedly saying in his apology, "I think and declare before God (and I wish this writing to be looked upon as a most solemn declaration), that in all my life I have never heard of those secret means (of abortion) nor of those poisons; that I have never seen nor had knowledge of any occasion when I or my friends could even have thought of advising, administering, or making any use whatever of them. And this I say in testimony and affirmation of the truth." It is thus that by the most abominable hypocrisy he sustains a barefaced and detestable perjury.
So much for the moral virtue of this man; but our chief object is, to consider him in his character of a Conspirator. Let us then descend into that baleful abyss, and observe him in the schools of impiety, rebellion, and anarchy. Here again he appears to have been ignorant of the gradations of crime, of the space that lies between the slightest deviation from rectitude and the most profound wickedness. Here, scarcely have the magistrates cast their eyes upon him when they find him at the head of a conspiracy which, when compared with those of the clubs of Voltaire and D’Alembert, or with the secret committees of D’Orleans, make these latter appear like the faint imitations of puerility, and show the Sophister and the Brigand as mere novices in the arts of revolution. It is not known, and it would be difficult to discover, whether Weishaupt ever had a master, or whether he is himself the great original of those monstrous doctrines on which he founded his school. There exists, however, a tradition which on the authority of some of his adepts we shall lay before the reader.
According to this tradition, a Jutland merchant, who had lived some time in Egypt, began in the year 1771 to overrun Europe, pretending to initiate adepts in the antient mysteries of Memphis. But from more exact information I have learned that he stopped for some time at Malta, where the only mysteries which he taught were the disorganizing tenets of the antient Illuminees, of the adopted slave; and these he sedulously infused into the minds of the people. These principles began to expand, and the island was already threatened with revolutionary confusion, when the Knights very wisely obliged our modern Illuminee to seek his safety in flight. The famous Count (or rather mountebank) Cagliostro is said to have been a disciple of his, as well as some other adepts famous for their Illuminism in the county of Avignon and at Lyons. In his peregrinations, it is said, he met with Weishaupt, and initiated him in his mysteries. If impiety and secrecy could entitle a person to such an initiation, never had any man better claims than Weishaupt. More artful and wicked than Cagliostro, he knew how to direct them among his disciples to very different ends.
Whatever may have been the fact with respect to this first master, it is very certain that Weishaupt needed none. In an age when every kind of error had taken root, he did what is naturally to be expected from men who, guided by their unhappy bias, both in religious and political opinions, always select the most abominable. He must have had some notion of the ancient Illuminées, for he adopted their name, and the disorganizing principles of their horrid system. These notions were then strengthened, without doubt, by his favorite application to the disorganizing mysteries of Manichæism, since we may observe him recommending the study of them to his disciples as a preparatory step for, and as having a close connection with, those for which he was preparing them. 3 But perfect Atheist as he was, and scorning every idea of a God, he soon despised the twofold God of Antient Illuminism, and adopted the doctrines of Manes only in as much as they threatened every government, and led to universal anarchy. He was acquainted with the systems of the modern Sophisters; but, notwithstanding all their democracy, he did not think they had given sufficient latitude to their systems of Liberty and Equality. He only adopted their hatred for God, or pure Atheism. One class led to the destruction of all civil and political laws, the other to the overthrow of all religion; he combined them both, and formed a monstrous digest, whose object was the most absolute, the most ardent, the most frantic vow to overthrow, without exception, every religion, every government, and all property whatsoever. He pleased himself with the idea of a distant possibility that he might infuse the same wish throughout the world; he even assured himself of success.
With the talents of a vulgar Sophister such a hope would have been the summit of folly; but with a genius like that of Weishaupt, formed for great crimes, it was the confidence of unlimited wickedness. The Bavarian Sophister knew his powers; he believed no crime impossible; he only sought to combine them all to reduce his systems to practice. The mediocrity of his fortune had obliged him to consecrate the latter years of his education to the study of the laws. Whether by dissimulation he concealed the plans fostered in his breast, or whether he had not as yet digested them all, he however found means of getting himself named to the chair of Laws in the University of Ingolstadt, before he had attained his twenty-eighth year. On the 10th of March, 1778, he writes to Zwack that he was not yet thirty years of age; and in the same letter he informs him, under secrecy, of his future projects on Illuminism, which he had founded two years before.
He must have known himself possessed of profound dissimulation; he must have been master of strange resources, to ground his plans for the subversion of all laws throughout all empires, on the very function of public interpreter of the law. It was nevertheless at the college of Ingolstadt that Weishaupt, affecting the greatest zeal for his duty, conceived himself to be admirably situated for forming and conducting by invisible means the great revolution which he had planned. He justly estimated the influence which his office of teacher gave him over his scholars, and he had the courage to supply in private the deficiency of those lessons which he was obliged to give to them in public.
But it would have been too poor a conquest for Anarchy or Impiety to have gained only those who were under the eye of the founder. Weishaupt beheld mankind subject to religious and political laws from pole to pole, and his jealous zeal weighed the means which the saints had employed to extend the faith of Christ. There still existed the scattered remnants of an Order which the imprudent policy of Kings had obliged the Sovereign Pontiff to sacrifice to the machinations of a Philosophism, the professed enemy of both Kings and Pontiffs. Weishaupt knew how to appreciate the support which the laws had acquired from men who were heretofore spread throughout all Catholic countries, and who, in the towns and villages, publicly taught youth, thundered from the pulpit against vice, directed Christians toward the path of virtue, and went to preach the faith of Christ to idolatrous and barbarous nations. He well knew how much empires were indebted to religious Orders, that in preaching the duty which each man owed to his God, strengthened the ties that bound him to his neighbour and to his Prince. Though he in his heart detested the children of Benedict, Francis, or Ignatius, he admired the institutions of these holy founders, and was particularly charmed with those of Ignatius, whose laws directed so many zealous men dispersed throughout the world toward the same object and under one head: he conceived that the same forms might be adopted, though to operate in a sense diametrically opposite. "What these men have done for the Altar and the Throne (said he to himself) why would not I do in opposition to the Altar and the Throne? With legions of adepts subject to my laws, and by the lure of mysteries, why may not I destroy under the cover of darkness, what they edified in broad day? What Christ even did for God and for Cæsar, why shall not I do against God and Cæsar, by means of adepts now become my apostles?"
In attributing such a wicked emulation to Weishaupt, I will not leave the historian to fruitless conjectures. No, these very wishes in plain language are contained in his confidential letters to his disciples; and he even reproaches them with not imitating the submission of the followers of those holy founders. His most celebrated adepts have declared, that they had observed him copying them throughout his code; they must also have remarked, that Weishaupt, in planning his systems according to the forms adopted by those religious founders, had reserved it to himself to add all the artifices which the most infernal policy could suggest. At the actual period when this conspirator formed his plans, he was ignorant of the object of Freemasonry: He only knew that the fraternity held secret meetings: he observed that they were bound by mysterious ties, and recognized each other for brethren by certain signs and words, whatever might be their country or religion. In his mind, therefore, he combined the plan of a society, which was at once to partake as much as convenient of the government of the Jesuits, and of the mysterious silence and secret conduct of Masonry. Its object was, the propagation of the most Antisocial Systems of ancient Illuminism, and of the most Antireligious Systems of modern Philosophism.
Brooding over this disastrous project, Weishaupt cast his eyes on the young pupils whom government had entrusted to his care to form them for magistrates of their country, and defenders of the laws, and he resolved to begin his warfare against both by the perversion of these youths. He beheld in distant succession his first disciples seducing others, those again, subject to his laws, forming further adepts; and thus by degrees he came complacently to view his legions multiplying and spreading from the towns to the country, and resident even in the courts of Princes. He already heard those oaths which, under the secrecy of the Lodges, were to bind the minds and hearts of those new legions who, replete with his disorganizing spirit, were silently to undermine the Altar and the Throne. He calculated the time necesssary, and smiled to think that he would one day have only to give the signal for the general explosion.
Scarcely had this modern Eratostratus attained his eight-and-twentieth year, ere he had laid the foundations of those laws which he meant to give to his disorganizing Sect. Though he had not actually written his code, he had arranged it in his mind, and he made his first essay on two of his pupils, one named Massenhausen (whom he surnamed Ajax), about twenty years of age, and afterwards a Counsellor at Burkhausen; the other called Merz (whom he surnamed Tiberius) nearly of the same age, but whose morals and character proved so abominable, that they made even his vile seducer blush. These two disciples soon vying with their master in impiety, he judged them worthy of being admitted to his mysteries, and conferred on them the highest degree that he had as yet invented. He called them Areopagites, installed himself their chief, and called this monstrous association The Order of Illuminees.
It was on the first of May, 1776, that the inauguration was celebrated. Let the reader well observe this epoch. It indicates a feeble beginning; it preceded the French Revolution but by a few years; that however was the time when that abominable Sect first started into existence, which was to combine all the errors, all the conspiracies, and all the crimes of the adepts of Impiety, Rebellion, or Anarchy, and which, under the name of Jacobin, was to consummate the dreadful Revolution. Such was the origin of that Sect which I had in view when I proclaimed to all nations, and unfortunately with too much truth, "That whatever their government or religion might be, to whatever rank they might belong in civil society, if Jacobinism triumphed all would be overthrown; that should the plans and wishes of the Jacobins be accomplished, their religion with its Pontiffs, their government with its laws, their magistrates and their property, all would be swept away in the common mass of ruin! Their riches and their fields, their houses and their cottages, their very wives and children would be torn from them. You have looked upon Jacobinical faction as exhausting itself in France, when it was only making a sportive essay of its strength."
According to the wishes and intentions of this terrible and formidable Sect, nations, astonished, have yet only seen the first part of the plans formed for that general Revolution which is to beat down every Throne overturn every Altar—destroy all property—blot out every law and conclude by the total dissolution of all society!
The omen is fatal; but (more fatal still!) I have numberless proofs to demonstrate the truth of this assertion. With respect to the Conspiracies of Illuminism, I shall draw my proofs from their own code and their archives. I will begin with their code; it will lay open the object, the extent, the manner, the means and inconceivable depth of the Conspiracies of the Sect. This First Part will comprehend the plan of their conspiracies, the extract and analysis of the code of laws which they had constructed for attaining their ends. The Second Part will show their progress and their successes from their first origin, till that period when, powerful in Revolutionary Legions, without leaving their secret dens, they unite and confound themselves with the Jacobins, and in unison with them prosecute that war of desolation which menaces with total ruin the Altar of every God—the Throne of every Monarch—The Law of every Society—and the Property of every Citizen. O! that I could in delineating what the Sect has done, what it is doing, and what it still meditates to do that I could but teach nations and the chiefs of nations what they themselves ought to do, to avert the impending danger; those, I say, who have mistaken these disasters for a sudden explosion, while they are in fact but an essay of the strength of the Sect, and the commencement of their general plan.
Code of the Illuminees
By the code of the sect of Illuminees I mean the principles and systems which it had formed to itself on Religion and Civil Society, or rather against all Religion and Civil Society whatever; I mean the government and the laws which it has adopted to realize its plans, and to guide the adepts in bringing the whole universe into its systems. This was not so much a code springing from an ardent mind, and an enthusiastic zeal for a great revolution, as the offspring of reflection on the means of rendering it infallible; for no sooner had Weishaupt conceived a plan, than he foresaw the obstacles which might thwart its success. Though he decorated the first pupils whom he had seduced with the title of his profound adepts, yet he did not dare unfold to them the vast extent of his plans. Pleased with having laid the foundation, he did not hurry the elevation of that edifice, which might have been exposed to fall for want of the proper precautions; no, he wished it to be as durable as time itself. For five whole years he meditated; and he foresaw that he should still have to pause for many a tedious day on the means of securing the success of his plans. His plodding head silently ruminated and slowly combined that code of laws or rather of cunning, of artifice, of snares and ambushees by which he was to regulate the preparation of candidates, the duties of the initiated, the functions, the rights, the conduct of the chiefs, and even his own. He watched every means of seduction, weighed and compared those means, tried them one after the other; and when he had adopted any of them would still reserve the power of changing them, in case he should happen to fall upon any that would be more disastrous.
Meanwhile his first disciples, now his apostles, gained him many partizans; he seduced many himself, and directed their conduct by letter. His advice was adapted to circumstances, and, artfully husbanding his promises, he kept the minds of his disciples perpetually in suspense as to the last mysteries. To his trusty adepts he promises systems of morality, of education, and of polity, all entirely new; and they might easily surmise that this future code would be no other than that of a morality without restraint, of a religion without a God, and of a polity without laws or any dependence whatsoever; 1 though he did not dare entirely to throw away the mask. But his laws appeared imperfect, his snares were not sufficiently concealed; and he was convinced that time and experience alone could perfect the work on which he had so long meditated. Such are the colours, at least, in which we see him representing himself when his adepts, impatient to be initiated in the last mysteries, reproach him with the slowness of the proceedings: "It is from time and experience," says he, "that we are to learn. I daily put to the test what I made last year, and I find that my performances of this year are far superior. Give me then time to reflect on what may forward and on what may delay the execution of our plans; to weigh what may be expected of our people left to themselves or led and conducted by us.—Remember that what is done in haste, speedily falls to ruin. Leave me then to myself, let me act alone; and believe me, time and I are worth any other two."
Let not the reader imagine that these meditations of Weishaupt alluded to the object of his views; that never varied; the destruction of Religion, the destruction of Society and the civil Laws, the destruction of property,—that was the point at which he always aimed; and this impious man too well knew his crime, not to be alarmed; we see him writing to his confident, "You know the situation in which I stand. I must direct the whole by means of five or six persons. It is absolutely necessary that I should during my life remain unknown to the greater part of the adepts themselves.—I am often overwhelmed with the idea that all my meditations, all my services and toils are perhaps only twisting a rope or planting a gallows for myself; that the indiscretion or imprudence of a single individual may overturn the most beautiful edifice that ever was reared."
At other times wishing to appear above such fears, but still reproaching the adepts with want of caution, he says, "If our affairs already go on so ill, the whole will soon be undone: the fault will be thrown upon me, and, as author of every thing, I shall be the first sacrificed. Yet that is not what frightens me; I know how to take every thing on my own score; but if the imprudence of the Brethren is to cost me my life, let me at least not have to blush before men of reflection, nor to reproach myself with an inconsiderate and rash conduct." Thus does every motive stimulate this famous Conspirator to transfuse into his code every precaution that could at the same time skreen him from condign punishment, and secure the success of his plots. At length, after five years meditation on his side, and numerous consultations with his trusty adepts, particularly with Philo, or the Baron Knigge, who acts a very exalted part in Illuminism, Weishaupt had regulated the mode of his mysteries, and had digested the code of his Sect, that is to say, the principles, the laws, and government adopted by the Illuminees to accomplish the grand object of their Conspiracy. Before we lead our readers through the immense labyrinth of this code, let us give a general idea of the system which stimulated its author to the formation of those laws.
The more we meditate on that part of the code which we shall lay before our readers when we come to treat of the mysteries of Illuminism, the more clearly we observe Weishaupt adopting the principles of Equality and of Liberty, (propagated by modern Philosophism) in order to present them in a new light, and to lead his disciples to the ultimate consequences of the most absolute Impiety and Anarchy.
The modern Sophisters, some following Voltaire, others Rousseau, had begun by saying, that all men were equal and free; and they had concluded with respect to Religion, that nobody, though speaking in the name of a God who reveals himself, had the right of prescribing rules to their faith. The authority of revelation being cast aside, they left no other basis for Religion to rest upon, than the Sophistry of a reason the perpetual prey of our passions. They had annihilated Christianity in the minds of their adepts. With respect to Governments they had also asserted, that all men were equal and free, and they had concluded that every citizen had an equal right to form the laws, or to the title of Sovereign; this consequence abandoning all authority to the capricious fluctuations of the multitude, no government could be legitimate but that founded on Chaos, or the volcanic explosions of the democratic and sovereign populace.
Weishaupt, reasoning on the same principles, believed both the Sophisters and the Democratic Populace to be too timid in drawing their inferences, and the following may be said to be the essence of all his mysteries.
"Liberty and Equality are the essential rights that man in his original and primitive perfection received from nature. Property struck the first blow at Equality; political Society, or Governments, were the first oppressors of Liberty; the supporters of Governments and property are the religious and civil laws; therefore, to reinstate man in his primitive rights of Equality and Liberty, we must begin by destroying all Religion, all civil society, and finish by the destruction of all property."
Had true Philosophy but gained admittance to these lodges of Illuminism, how clearly would she have demonstrated the absurdity of each and all of these principles, and the extravagance and wickedness of such consequences, both to the master and his adepts! She would have shewn, that the rights and laws of primitive man alone upon earth, or parent of a scanty generation, neither were nor ought to be the rights and laws of man living on an inhabited globe. She would have proved, that Nature, when she ordained that man should increase and multiply on this earth, and that he should cultivate it, clearly announced that his posterity were hereafter to live under the empire of social laws. She would have observed, that without property this earth would have remained uncultivated and uninhabited; that without religious and civil laws the same earth would have only nurtured straggling hordes of vagabonds and savages. Then would our Bavarian Illuminee have concluded, that his Equality and Liberty, far from being the essential rights of man in the state of perfection, would only be the instruments of his degradation, and assimilate him to the beasts of the earth, if they were to be incompatible with Property, Religion, and Society. But true Philosophy was an alien to his school; and Weishaupt, with his detestable genius formed for error, applauds the sophism, makes it the basis of his system, and the ultimate secret of his mysteries.
I am not simply to prove that such is the grand object of the Conspiracy, and of the ultimate revolution which he is preparing with all his adepts. Were that my only task, I should cite the blessings which the hierophant of Illuminism pours out on those hordes that roam without laws or society, and the curses which he vents against those men who, fixing their abodes, name chiefs and constituted states. The very menaces of the teacher unfold the whole of the Conspiracy. "Yes, princes and nations shall disappear from off the face of the earth; yes, a time shall come when man shall acknowledge no other law but the great book of nature: This revolution shall be the work of the secret societies, and that is one of our grand mysteries. This single passage of the code is sufficient to demonstrate both the object of the Conspiracy and the extent of the projects of the sect; but though the Conspiracy should be clearly proved, still that would be doing little for the public good. Instead of a terrible and formidable Sect, nations and chiefs of nations might mistake the Illuminees for a band of senseless madmen, plodding without means a chimerical Revolution; therefore little to be feared, and too despicable to deserve notice. Thus would wickedness find a cloak in its excesses; the Sect would prosecute its hellish plots more actively, more confidently, and more successfully, merely because their object was supposed impossible. Society would be dissolved; our laws, our religion, and our property, would be wrested from us, because we believed them proof against any attempt. Nations would tranquilly slumber on the brink of the precipice, and be plunged into destruction while they considered the fatal cause as the delusion of delirium, and smiled on the plots of Illuminism. And its founder foresaw this: for he says to his adepts, "Let the laughers laugh, let the scoffers scoff; he that compares the past with the present, will see that nature continues its course without the possibility of diverting it. Its progress is imperceptible to the man who is not formed to observe it; but it does not escape the attention of the Philosopher."
Society then calls upon me to develop more than the existence, or even the extent of the plots of the Sect—I say, it calls on me loudly to proclaim the dangers which threaten us; yes, the evils which threaten all society must be clearly shown. A manner of proceeding and an artful cunning big with crime, which will speedily plunge nations into those disasters which they may believe chimerical, is to be clearly ascertained. I have to unfold the whole of a system, an entire code, in which each institute, each maxim, each regulation, is a new step towards a universal revolution which shall strike society a mortal blow. I am not then about to inform each citizen that his religion, his country, his property, that every society, people, or nation, are menaced; unfortunately that would be a task too easily performed. But I am bound to say, "In this horrible plot, such are the dangers which threaten your country, and such the perils that hang over your persons." I must show extensive resources combined with consummate villainy, where you imagined that nothing existed but the delirium of modern Philosophism, destitute of means. Weishaupt, like yourselves, had foreseen numerous obstacles to his conspiracy; and it appears that he had even exaggerated them. That for which his most famous adepts seem to despise their countrymen, should be mentioned here as redounding to their honour. Weishaupt, surrounded by the faithful Bavarians, faithful to their God and to their country (rather speculating on the human heart from his books, than closely observing men in the common intercourse of life), was not aware of how very much Philosophism had forwarded his systems. The generation which had attained the age of manhood appeared too much infected with the antiquated ideas on religion and government. But, unfortunately, facts soon undeceived him; and this error only served, by deferring his hopes, to turn his mind to farther precautions and meditations, which sooner or later were to render his success infallible. He would say to himself, he would say to his trusty brethren, "According to my views, I cannot employ men as they are; I must form them; each class of my Order must be a preparatory school for the next; and all this must necessarily be the work of time." But to accelerate the time he cast his eyes on that class of young men, which, just entering the world, easily fall a prey to error, because at that age they are under the influence of their passions. I shall hereafter show what it was that both shortened the time, and abridged their education, in presenting him with whole legions of adepts ready formed to his mysteries. It is first necessary, however, that the reader should be acquainted with the profundity of his system; because, had the French Revolution not taken place, that system would alone have sufficed to render it certain and infallible; for, could the French Revolution be done away at the present moment, and the ancient regimen be restored, this code would furnish Illuminism with all the means of effectuating one that should be still more disastrous. Let us then study it, let us dissipate the cloud in which it is enveloped. Reader, your own interest requires that you should follow our steps; and observe all the snares that have been laid for you; see with what art its disciples are beguiled, with what precaution it chooses, calls, and disposes its adepts. Its proceedings appear indeed to be slow, but they are nevertheless sure. It seems to exhaust all its art to acquire a single proselyte, but the same allurements attract whole legions. Its springs are secret, but the reader must know their power and with what constancy they move toward and direct the common ruin. He has seen the people agitated, animated, and even misled to ferocity; but he must also be informed how those adepts were created who fanaticised the people and rendered them ferocious.
Weishaupt lays down as an invariable and infallible principle, that "the grand art of rendering any revolution whatsoever certain—is to enlighten the people;—and to enlighten them is, insensibly to turn the public opinion to the adoption of those changes which are the given object of the intended revolution.
"When that object cannot be promulgated without exposing him that has conceived it to public vengeance, he must know how to propagate his opinion in secret societies.
"When the object is an universal Revolution, all the members of these societies, aiming at the same point, and aiding each other, must find means of governing invisibly, and without any appearance of violent measures, not only the higher and more distinguished class of any particular state, but men of all stations, of all nations, and of every religion—Insinuate the same spirit every where—In silence, but with the greatest activity possible, direct the scattered inhabitants of the earth toward the same point." This is what he calls the grand problem on the polity of states, on which he grounds the force of secret societies, and on which the empire of his Illuminism was to rest.
"This empire once established by means of the union and multitude of the adepts, let force succeed to the invisible power. Tie the hands of those who resist; subdue and stifle wickedness in the germ;" that is to say, crush those whom you have not been able to convince. He that teaches such doctrines is not to be looked on as a weak enemy. When Weishaupt reserved them for his mysteries, as well as the revelation of his ultimate object, he knew too well that they were only fitted for men who had long been trained to view them as the lessons of nature and of Philosophy, and should he meet with any who had anticipated them, it would only abridge their novitiate. But he needed nothing less than a whole generation. It was therefore to multiply the number of adepts, to dispose them by insensible degrees to receive his doctrines; by an invisible hand to direct their ideas, their wishes, their actions, and their combined efforts, that the code of laws which he framed for Illuminism constantly tended.
According to these laws, the sect is divided into two grand classes, and each of these again subdivided into lesser degrees proportionate to the progress of the adepts.
The first class is that of preparation. It contains four degrees, those of Novice, of Minerval, of Minor Illuminee or Illuminatus Minor, and of Major Illuminee or Illuminatus Major.
Some intermediary degrees belong to the class of Preparation, which may be called of Intrusion; such are those which the sect have borrowed from Freemasonry as a means of propagation. Of these masonic degrees the code of Illuminees admit the three first without any alteration: it adapts more particularly to the views of the sect the degree of Scotch Knight as an ultimate preparation for its mysteries, and it is stiled the degree of Directing Illuminee or Illuminatus Dirigens.
The second class is that of the Mysteries, and this is subdivided into the lesser and greater mysteries. The lesser comprehend the priesthood and administration of the sect, or the degrees of Priests and of Regents or Princes.
In the greater mysteries are comprized the two degrees of Magi or Philosopher, and of the Man King. The Elect of the latter compose the council and the degree of Areopagites.
In all these classes, and in every degree, there is a part of the utmost consequence, and which is common to all the Brethren. It is that employment known in the code by the appellation of Brother Insinuator or Recruiter. The whole strength of the Sect depends on this part; it is that which furnishes members to the different degrees; and Weishaupt, well knowing the importance of the task, turned all his genius toward it. Let us therefore begin by directing our attention to the discovery of it.
By the appellation of Brother Insinuator, is to be understood the Illuminee whose peculiar office is to make proselytes for the Sect. Some brethren were more particularly instructed for that end; they might, indeed, be called the Apostles or Missionaries of the Order, being those whom the superiors sent to the different towns and provinces, and even into distant countries, to propagate its doctrines and to establish new Lodges. These had received, in addition to the common rules, farther instructions peculiar to the higher degrees. "These (as Weishaupt writes) may sometimes be the most imbecile, and at other times the most ingenious of the Brotherhood." From the former he can depend on a blind obedience to the rules he lays down, which are never to be deviated from; and with respect to the latter, provided they be zealous and punctual, should they even transgress any of the laws, it would not be in such a manner as to commit either their own safety or that of the Order; and they would soon make amends for their indiscretion by some new artifice. But, whatever may be the sense of the Illuminee, he is obliged once or twice in his life to act the part of Brother Insinuator, and that with a certain success, by the acquisition of two or three proselytes, under pain of perpetually remaining in the lower degrees. Some Brethren of high rank may have been dispensed from this formality; but as to the generality of them there exists a positive law on that point. To stimulate the zeal of the Brethren, the Insinuator is by the laws of the code established superior over every novice that he has gained to the Order: It is expressed as follows: "Every Illuminee may form to himself a petty empire; and from his littleness, emerge to greatness and power."
Such then is the first duty imposed upon every Illuminee for the propagation of the Sect; and this is the part which first claims our attention, in order that we may be able to form an idea of the immensurable powers of Weishaupt for seduction.
This part may be said to be subdivided into three. The rules laid down are, first, those which are to guide the Brother Insinuator in the choice of persons to be admitted or excluded; then follow those which are to teach him how to entice into the order those persons whom he has judged proper for it; and lastly come those rules and arts by which novices are to be formed, and even involved in Illuminism before they are officially admitted.
In order to judge of the qualifications of the persons whom he may enlist, every Illuminee is to begin by procuring tablets, which he is to keep in the form of a Journal; and this is his Diary. Assiduously prying into every thing that surrounds him, he must vigilantly observe all persons with whom he becomes acquainted, or whom he meets in company, without exception of relations, friends, enemies, or entire strangers; he must endeavour to discover their strong and their weak side; their passions and prejudices; their intimacies, and above all, their actions, interests, and fortune; in a word, every thing relating to them: and the remarks of every day he must enter in his Diary.
A twofold advantage is to be reaped from these particulars of information; first, by the Order in general and its superiors; secondly, by the adept himself. Twice every month he will make a general statement of his observations, and he will transmit it to his superiors. By these means the Order will be informed what men, in every town or village, are friendly or inimical to it. The means of gaining over the one or destroying the other will naturally occur. With respect to the Insinuator, he will learn how to judge of those who are proper persons to be received or rejected, and he will carefully insert his reasons for the admission or rejection of those persons in his monthly statements.
The Recruiting Brother will carefully guard against giving the most distant hint that he is an Illuminee. This law is peremptory for the Brethren, but more particularly for all the Insinuators, whose success may often essentially depend on it. It is to them that the legislator so strongly recommends all that exterior of virtue and of perfection, that care of shunning all public scandals which might deprive them of their ascendancy over the minds of those whom they seek to entice into the Order. The law expressly says, "Apply yourselves to the acquiring of interior and exterior perfection;" but lest they should conceive that this perfection even hinted at the mastering of their passions, and at renouncing the pleasures of the world, he adds, "Attend particularly to the art of dissembling and of disguising your actions, the better to observe those of others, and to penetrate into their inmost thoughts. "Die kunst zu erlernen sich zu verstellen, andere zu beobachten, and aus zu forschen." It is for that reason that these three great precepts are to be found in the summary of the Code: hold thy tongue—be perfect—disguise thyself—almost following each other in the same page, and serving as an explanation of each other.
Having made himself perfect master of these precepts, and particularly of the last, the Insinuator is next to turn his attention to those persons whom he may admit or ought to reject. He is not to admit into the Order either Pagans or Jews; but he is equally to reject all religious; and above all to shun the Ex-Jesuits as he would the plague. Ordens geistliche dürfen nie aufgenommen werden, und die Ex-Jesuiten soll man wie die pest fliehen.
The cause of such exclusions is obvious. To speak of religion, and admit, without any precaution, Jews, Turks, and Pagans, would be too open a manifestation of what their religion was; and not to reject religious, would be exposing themselves to be betrayed by their own adepts.
Unless they gave evident signs of a sincere amendment, all indiscreet talkers were to be rejected; and also those men whose pride, or headstrong, interested, and inconstant minds denoted that it would be impossible to infuse into them that zeal so necessary for the order; all those again, whose drunken excesses might injure that reputation of virtue which the Order was to acquire; all those, in short, whose meanness and grossness of manners would render them too untractable to give hope for their ever becoming pliant and useful.
"Leave those brutes, those clownish and thickheaded fellows!" he exclaims in his Chapter on Exclusions; but, though he excluded these thickheaded fellows, Weishaupt was aware that there existed a good sort of being which some might call stupid, but who are not to be told so, as advantage may be taken of their stupidity. Such were, for example, a Baron D’Ert, and many others, who holding a certain rank in the world, though destitute of common sense, have at least their riches to recommend them. "These are a good sort of beings," says our illuminizing legislator; "they are necessary beings. They augment our number and fill our coffers, augent numerum et ærarium. Courage then! and make these gentry swallow the bait; but beware of communicating to them our secrets; For this species of adept must always be persuaded that the degree they are in is the highest.
Indeed, there is a sort of half exclusion for princes. The Code ordains that they shall seldom be admitted, and even when they are, shall scarcely ever rise beyond the degree of Scotch Knight; or, in other words, they are never to pass the threshold of the mysteries. Hereafter we shall see the Legislator finding an expedient for introducing them beyond that degree, but still without giving them any further insight into the mysteries; and being particularly careful to hide from them certain laws of the Order.
I cannot take upon myself to say, whether a similar expedient had been found as an exception to the general rule which excluded women; but it is certain, that this law was, during a long time at least, only provisional; and many of the brethren sought to revoke it. Freemasonry had its female adepts, and the Illuminees wished to have theirs. The plan is written in Zwack's own hand-writing, and he was the most intimate friend and confidant of Weishaupt, in short, his incomparable man. It is couched in the following terms:
"Plan for an Order of Women.—This Order shall be subdivided into two classes, each forming a separate society, and having a different secret. The first shall be composed of virtuous women; the second, of the wild, the giddy, and the voluptuous, auschveifenden.
"Both classes are to be ignorant that they are under the direction of men. The two superiors are to be persuaded that they are under a mother Lodge of the same sex, which transmits its orders; though in reality these orders are to be transmitted by men.
"The Brethren who are intrusted with this superintendance shall forward their instructions without making themselves known. They shall conduct thefirst, by promoting the reading of good books, but shall form the latter to the arts of secretly gratifying their passions, durch begnügung ihrer leidenschaften im verborgenen."
A preliminary discourse prefixed to this plan points out the object and future services of these illuminized sisters. "The advantages which the real Order would reap from this female Order would be, first, the money which the sisterhood would pay at their initiation; and, secondly, a heavy tax upon their curiosity, under the supposition of secrets that are to be learned. And this association might moreover serve to gratify those brethren who had a turn for sensual pleasure."
A list and description of eighty-five young ladies of Manheim accompanied this project of Zwack, very properly surnamed the Cato of Illuminism; from among whom, in all probability, the founders of these ...