How a Bavarian secret order managed to undermine, and ultimately control international freemasonry. The classic work referenced by George Washington in 1798 regarding the Illuminati infiltration of American lodges.
PROOFS OF A CONSPIRACY AGAINST ALL THE RELIGIONS AND GOVERNMENTS OF EUROPE, CARRIED ON IN THE SECRET MEETINGS OF FREE MASONS, ILLUMINATI, AND READING SOCIETIES, COLLECTED FROM GOOD AUTHORITIES,
PROFESSOR OF NATURAL PHILOSOPHY, AND SECRETARY TO THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH.
Nam tua res agitur paries cum proximo ardet.
THE FOURTH EDITION.
TO WHICH IS ADDED, A POSTSCRIPT.
Printed and Sold by George Forman, No. 64, Water-Street,
between Coenties and the Old-Slip.
Scanned at sacred-texts.com, November 2006. Proofed and formatted by John Bruno Hare. This text is in the public domain in the United States because it was published prior to January 1st, 1923. These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose, provided this notice of attribution is left intact in all copies.
Proofs of a Conspiracy, by John Robison, , at sacred-texts.com
Dedication and Epigram
I have preserved the original typography in the dedication and epigram, but the typography has been modernized in the rest of the text.–JBH
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE
SECRETARY AT WAR. &c. as &e. SIR,
It was with great satisfaction that I learned from a Friend that you coincided with me in the opinion, that the information contained in this performance would make a useful impression on the minds of my Countrymen.
I have presumed to inscribe it with your Name, that I may publicly express the pleasure which I felt, when I found that neither a separation for thirty years, nor the pressure of the most important business, had effaced your kind remembrance of a College Acquaintance, or abated that obliging and polite attention with which you favored au in those early days of life.
The friendship of the accomplished and the worthy is the highest honor; and to him who is cut off, by want of health, from almost every other enjoyment, it is an inestimable blessing. Accept, therefore, I pray, of my grateful acknowledgements, and of my earnest wishes for your Health, Prosperity, and increasing Honor.
With sentiments of the greatest Esteem and Respect,
Your most obedient,
and most humble Servant,
September 5, 1797.
QUOD fi quis vera vitam ratione gubernet,
Divitiae grandes homini funt, vivere parce
Aequo anima: neque enim eft unquam penuria parvi,
At claros fe homines voluerunt atque potentes,
Ut fundamento: ftabili fortuna maneres,
Et placidam poffent opulenti degere vitam:
Nequicquam.–quoniam ad fummum fuccedere honorem
Certantes, iter infeftum fecere viai,
Et tamen a fummo quafi fulmen dejicit ictos
Invidia interdum contemptim in Tartara tetra.
Ergo, Regibus occifis, fubverfa jacebat
Priftina majeftas foliorum, et fceptra fuperba;
Et capitis fummi praeclarum infigne, cruentum,
Sub pedibus volgi magnum lugebat honorem:
Nam cupide conculcatur nimis ante metutum.
Res itaqe ad fummam faecem, turbafque redibat,
Imperium fibi cum ac fummatum quifque petebat.
LUCRETIUS, V. 1153.
Note: The following Latin and English texts of the above passage were not in the original book, they are supplied for reference.–JBH
…quod siquis vera vitam ratione gubernet,
divitiae grandes homini sunt vivere parce
aequo animo; neque enim est umquam penuria parvi.
at claros homines voluerunt se atque potentes,
ut fundamento stabili fortuna maneret
et placidam possent opulenti degere vitam,
ne quiquam, quoniam ad summum succedere honorem
certantes iter infestum fecere viai,
et tamen e summo, quasi fulmen, deicit ictos
invidia inter dum contemptim in Tartara taetra;…
Ergo regibus occisis subversa iacebat
pristina maiestas soliorum et sceptra superba,
et capitis summi praeclarum insigne cruentum
sub pedibus vulgi magnum lugebat honorem;
nam cupide conculcatur nimis ante metutum.
res itaque ad summam faecem turbasque redibat,
imperium sibi cum ac summatum quisque petebat.
But men wished glory for themselves and power
Even that their fortunes on foundations firm
Might rest forever, and that they themselves,
The opulent, might pass a quiet life-
In vain, in vain; since, in the strife to climb
On to the heights of honour, men do make
Their pathway terrible; and even when once
They reach them, envy like the thunderbolt
At times will smite, O hurling headlong down
To murkiest Tartarus, in scorn;
And therefore kings were slain,
And pristine majesty of golden thrones
And haughty sceptres lay o’erturned in dust;
And crowns, so splendid on the sovereign heads,
Soon bloody under the proletarian feet,
Groaned for their glories gone-for erst o’er-much
Dreaded, thereafter with more greedy zest
Trampled beneath the rabble heel. Thus things
Down to the vilest lees of brawling mobs
Succumbed, whilst each man sought unto himself
Dominion and supremacy.
(Lucretius, De Rerum Naturum, Book 5, William Ellery Leonard translation)
Proofs of a Conspiracy, by John Robison, , at sacred-texts.com
BEING AT a friend’s house in the country during some part of the summer 1795, I there saw a volume of a German periodical work, called Religions Begebenheiten, i.e. Religious Occurrences; in which there was an account of the various schisms in the Fraternity of Free Masons, with frequent allusions to the origin and history of that celebrated association. This account interested me a good deal, because, in my early life, I had taken some part in the occupations (shall I call them) of Free Masonry; and having chiefly frequented the Lodges on the Continent, I had learned many doctrines, and seen many ceremonials, which have no place in the simple system of Free Masonry which obtains in this country. I had also remarked, that the whole was much more the object of reflection and thought than I could remember it to have been among my acquaintances at home. There, I had seen a Mason Lodge considered merely as a pretext for passing an hour or two in a fort of decent conviviality, not altogether void of some rational occupation. I had sometimes heard of differences of doctrines or of ceremonies, but in terms which marked them as mere frivolities. But, on the Continent, I found them matters of serious concern and debate. Such too is the contagion of example, that I could not hinder myself from thinking one opinion better founded, or one Ritual more apposite and significant, than another; and I even felt something like an anxiety for its being adopted, and a zeal for making it a general practice. I had been initiated in a very splendid Lodge at Liege, of which the Prince Bishop, his Trefonciers, and the chief Noblesse of the State, were members. I visited the French Lodges at Valenciennes, at Brussels, at Aix-la-Chapelle, at Berlin, and Koningsberg; and I picked up some printed discourses delivered by the Brother-orators of the Lodges. At St. Petersburgh I connected myself with the English Lodge, and occasionally visited the German and Russian Lodges held there. I found myself received with particular respect as a Scotch Mason, and as an Eleve of the Lodge de la Parfaite Intelligence at Liege. I was importuned by persons of the first rank to pursue my masonic career through many degrees unknown in this country. But all the splendour and elegance that I saw could not conceal a frivolity in every part. It appeared a baseless fabric, and I could not think of engaging in an occupation which would consume much time, cost me a good deal of money, and might perhaps excite in me some of that fanaticism, or, at least, enthusiasm that I saw in others, and perceived to be void of any rational support. I therefore remained in the English Lodge, contented with the rank of Scotch Master, which was in a manner forced on me in a private Lodge of French Masons, but is not given in the English Lodge. My masonic rank admitted me to a very elegant entertainment in the female Loge de la Fidelite, where every ceremonial was composed in the highest degree of elegance, and every thing conducted with the most delicate respect for our fair sisters, and the old song of brotherly love was chanted in the most refined strain of sentiment. I do not suppose that the Parisian Free Masonry of forty-five degrees could give me more entertainment. I had profited so much by it, that I had the honor of being appointed the Brother-orator. In this office I gave such satisfaction, that a worthy Brother sent me at midnight a box, which he committed to my care, as a person far advanced in masonic science, zealously attached to the order, and therefore a fit depositary of important writings. I learned next day that this gentleman had found it convenient to leave the empire in a hurry, but taking with him the funds of an establishment of which her Imperial Majesty had made him the manager. I was desired to keep these writings till he should see me again. I obeyed. About ten years afterward I saw the gentleman on the street in Edinburgh, conversing with a foreigner. As I passed by him, I saluted him softly in the Russian language, but without stopping, or even looking him in the face. He coloured, but made no return. I endeavoured in vain to meet with him, intending to make a proper return for much civility and kindness which I had received from him in his own country.
I now considered the box as accessible to myself, and opened it. I found it to contain all the degrees of the Parfait Macon Ecossois, with the Rituals, Catechisms, and Instructions, and also four other degrees of Free Masonry, as cultivated in the Parisian Lodges. I have kept them with all care, and mean to give them to some respectable Lodge. But as I am bound by no engagement of any kind, I hold myself as at liberty to make such use of them as may be serviceable to the public, without enabling any uninitiated person to enter the Lodges of these degrees.
This acquisition might have roused my former relish for Masonry, had it been merely dormant; but, after so long separation from the Loge de la Fidelite, the masonic spirit had evaporated. Some curiosity, however, remained, and some wish to trace this plastic mystery to the pit from which the clay had been dug, which has been moulded into so many different shapes, “some to honor, and some to dishonor.” But my opportunities were now gone. I had given away (when in Russia) my volumes of discourses, and some far-fetched and gratuitous histories, and nothing remained but the pitiful work of Anderson, and the Maconnerie Adonhiramique devoilee, which are in every one’s hands.
My curiosity was strongly roused by the accounts given in the Religions Begebenheiten. There I saw quotations without number; systems and schisms of which I had never heard; but what particularly struck me, was a zeal and fanaticism about what I thought trifles, which astonished me. Men of rank and fortune, and engaged in serious and honorable public employments, not only frequenting the Lodges of the cities where they resided, but journeying from one end of Germany or France to the other, to visit new Lodges, or to learn new secrets or new doctrines. I saw conventions held at Wismar, at Wisbad, at Kohlo, at Brunswick, and at Willemsbad, consisting of some hundreds of persons of respectable stations. I saw adventurers coming to a city, professing some new secret, and in a few days forming new Lodges, and instructing in a troublesome and expensive manner hundreds of brethren.
German Masonry appeared a very serious concern, and to be implicated with other subjects with which I had never suspected it to have any connection. I saw it much connected with many occurrences and schisms in the Christian church; I saw that the Jesuits had several times interfered in it; and that most of the exceptionable innovations and dissentions had arisen about the time that the order of Loyola was suppressed; so that it should seem, that these intriguing brethren had attempted to maintain their influence by the help of Free Masonry. I saw it much disturbed by the mystical whims of J. Behmen and Swedenborg–by the fanatical and knavish doctrines of the modern Rosycrucians–by Magicians–Magnetisers–Exorcists, &c. And I observed that these different sects reprobated each other, as not only maintaining erroneous opinions, but even inculcating opinions which were contrary to the established religions of Germany, and contrary to the principles of the civil establishments. At the same time they charged each other with mistakes and corruptions, both in doctrine and in practice; and particularly with falsification of the first principles of Free Masonry, and with ignorance of its origin and its history; and they supported these charges by authorities from many different books which were unknown to me.
My curiosity was now greatly excited. I got from a much-respected friend many of the preceding volumes of the Religions Begebenheiten, in hopes of much information from the patient industry of German erudition. This opened a new and very interesting scene; I was frequently sent back to England, from whence all agreed that Free Masonry had been imported into Germany. I was frequently led into France and into Italy. There, and more remarkably in France, I found that the Lodges had become the haunts of many projectors and fanatics, both in science, in religion, and in politics, who had availed themselves of the secrecy and the freedom of speech maintained in these meetings, to broach their particular whims, or suspicious doctrines, which, if published to the world in the usual manner, would have exposed the authors to ridicule, or to censure. These projectors had contrived to tag their peculiar nostrums to the mummery of Masonry, and were even allowed to twist the masonic emblems and ceremonies to their purpose; so that in their hands Free Masonry became a thing totally unlike, and almost in direct opposition to the system (if it may get such a name) imported from England; and some Lodges had become schools of irreligion and licentiousness.
No nation in modern times has so particularly turned its attention to the cultivation of every thing that is refined or ornamental as France, and it has long been the resort of all who hunt after entertainment in its most refined form; the French have come to consider themselves as the instructors of the world in every thing that ornaments life, and feeling themselves received as such, they have formed their manners accordingly–full of the most condescending complaisance to all who acknowledge their superiority. Delighted, in a high degree, with this office, they have become zealous missionaries of refinement in every department of human pursuit, and have reduced their apostolic employment to a system, which they prosecute with ardour and delight. This is not groundless declamation, but sober historical truth. It was the professed aim (and it was a magnificent and wise aim) of the great Colbert, to make the court of Louis XIV, the fountain of human refinement, and Paris the Athens of Europe. We need only look at the plunder of Italy by the French army, to be convinced that their low-born generals and statesmen have in this respect the same notions with the Colberts and the Richlieus.
I know no subject in which this aim at universal influence on the opinions of men, by holding themselves forth as the models of excellence and elegance, is more clearly seen than in the care that they have been pleased to take of Free Masonry. It seems indeed peculiarly suited to the talents and taste of that vain and ardent people. Baseless and frivolous, it admits of every form that Gallic refinement can invent, to recommend it to the young, the gay, the luxurious; that class of society which alone deserves their care, because, in one way or another, it leads all other classes of society.