Proofs of a Conspiracy, by John Robison 1798


iSpeech

Spartacus to Cato, Feb. 6, 1778.

"Mon but est de faire valoir la raison. As a subordinate object I shall endeavour to gain security to ourselves, a backing in case of misfortunes, and assistance from without. I shall therefore press the cultivation of science, especially such sciences as may have an influence on our reception in the world, and may serve to remove obstacles out of the way. We have to struggle with pedantry, with intolerance, with divines and statesmen, and above all, princes and priests are in our way. Men are unfit as they are, and must be formed; each class must be the school of trial for the next. This will be tedious, because it is hazardous. In the last classes I propose academies under the direction of the Order. This will secure us the adherence of the Literati. Science shall here be the lure. Only those who are assuredly proper subjects shall be picked out from among the inferior classes for the higher mysteries, which contain the first principles and means of promoting a happy life. No religionist must, on any account, be admitted into these: For here we work at the discovery and extirpation of superstition and prejudices. The instructions shall be so conducted that each shall disclose what he thinks he conceals within his own breast, what are his ruling propensities and passions, and how far he has advanced in the command of himself. This will answer all the purposes of auricular confession. And in particular, every person shall be made a spy on another and on all around him. Nothing can escape our sight; by these means we shall readily discover who are contented, and receive with relish the peculiar state-doctrines and religious opinions that are laid before them; and, at last, the trust-worthy alone will be admitted to a participation of the whole maxims and political constitution of the Order. In a council composed of such members we shall labour at the contrivance of means to drive by degrees the enemies of reason and of humanity out of the world, and to establish a peculiar morality and religion fitted for the great Society of mankind.

"But this is a ticklish project, and requires the utmost circumspection. The squeamish will start at the sight of religious or political novelties; and they must be prepared for them. We must be particularly careful about the books which we recommend; I shall confine them at first to moralists and reasoning historians. This will prepare for a patient reception, in the higher classes, of works of a bolder flight, such as Robinet's Systeme de la Nature--Politique Naturelle--Philosophie de la Nature--Systeme Social--The writings of Mirabaud, &c. Helvetius is fit only for the strongest stomachs. If any one has a copy already, neither praise nor find fault with him. Say nothing on such subjects to intrants, for we don't know how they will be received--folks are not yet prepared. Marius, an excellent man, must be dealt with. His stomach, which cannot yet digest such strong food, must acquire a better tone. The allegory on which I am to found the mysteries of the Higher Orders is the fire-worship of the Magi. We must have some worship, and none is so apposite. LET THERE BE LIGHT, AND THERE SHALL BE LIGHT. This is my motto, and is my fundamental principle. The degrees will be Feurer Orden, Parsen Orden; [**] all very practicable. In the course through these there will be no STA BENE (this is the answer given to one who solicits preferment, and is refused.) For I engage that none shall enter this class who has not laid aside his prejudices. No man is fit for our Order who is not a Brutus or a Catiline, and is not ready to go every length.--Tell me how you like this?"

Spartacus to Cato, March 1778.

"To collect unpublished works, and information from the archives of States, will be a most useful service. We shall be able to show in a very ridiculous light the claims of our despots. Marius (keeper of the archives of the Electorate) has ferreted out a noble document, which we have got. He makes it, forsooth, a case of conscience--how silly that--since only that is sin, which is ultimately productive of mischief. In this case, where the advantage far exceeds the hurt, it is meritorious virtue. It will do more good in our hands than by remaining for 1000 years on the dusty shelf."

There was found in the hand-writing of Zwack a project for a Sisterhood, in subserviency to the designs of the Illuminati. In it are the following passages:

"It will be of great service, and procure us both much information and money, and will suit charmingly the taste of many of our truest members, who are lovers of the sex. It should consist of two classes, the virtuous, and the freer hearted (i.e. those who fly out of the common tract of prudish manners); they must not know of each other, and must be under the direction of men, but without knowing it. Proper books must be put into their hands, and such (but secretly) as are flattering to their passions."

There are, in the same hand-writing, Description of a strong box, which, if forced open, shall blow up and destroy its contents--Several receipts for procuring abortion--A composition which blinds or kills when spurted in the face--A sheet, containing a receipt for sympathetic ink--Tea for procuring abortion--Herbae quae habent qualitatem deleteriam--A method for filling a bed-chamber with pestilential vapours--How to take off impressions of seals, so as to use them afterwards as seals--A collection of some hundreds of such impressions, with a list of their owners, princes, nobles, clergymen, merchants, &c.--A receipt ad excitandum furorem uterinum--A manuscript entitled, "Better than Horus." It was afterwards printed and distributed at Leipzig fair, and is an attack and bitter satire on all religion. This is in the hand-writing of Ajax. As also a dissertation on suicide. N. B. His sister-in-law threw herself from the top of a tower. There was also a set of portraits, or characters of eighty-five ladies in Munich; with recommendations of some of them for members of a Lodge of Sister Illuminatae; also injunctions to all the Superiors to learn to write with both hands; and that they should use more than one cypher.

Immediately after the publication of these writings, many defences appeared. It was said that the dreadful medical apparatus were with propriety in the hands of Counsellor Zwack, who was a judge of a criminal court, and whose duty it was therefore to know such things. The same excuse was offered for the collection of seals; but how came these things to be put up with papers of the Illuminati, and to be in the hand writing of one of that Order? Weishaupt says, "These things were not carried into effect--only spoken of, and are justifiable when taken in proper connection." This however he has not pointed out; but he appeals to the account of the Order, which he had published at Regensburg, and in which neither these things are to be found, nor any possibility of a connection by which they may be justified. "All men, says he, are subject to errors, and the best man is he who best conceals them. I have never been guilty of any such vices or follies: for proof, I appeal to the whole tenor of my life, which my reputation, and my struggles with hostile cabals, had brought completely into public view long before the institution of this Order, without abating any thing of that flattering regard which was paid to me by the first persons of my country and its neighbourhood; a regard well evinced by their confidence in me as the best instructor of their children." In some of his private letters, we learn the means which he employed to acquire this influence among the youth, and they are such as could not fail. But we must not anticipate. "It is well known that I have made the chair which I occupied in the university of Ingolstadt, the resort of the first class of the German youth; whereas formerly it had only brought round it the low-born practitioners in the courts of law. I have gone through the whole circle of human enquiry. I have exorcised spirits--raised ghosts--discovered treasures--interrogated the Cabala--hatte Loto gespielt--I have never transmuted metals."--(A very pretty and respectable circle indeed, and what vulgar spirits would scarcely have included within the pale of their curiosity.) "The tenor of my life has been the opposite of every thing that is vile; and no man can lay any such thing to my charge. I have reason to rejoice that these writings have appeared; they are a vindication of the Order and of my conduct. I can, and must declare to God, and I do it now in the most solemn manner, that in my whole life I never saw or heard of the so much condemned secret writings; and in particular, respecting these abominable means; such as poisoning, abortion, &c. was it ever known to me in any case, that any of my friends or acquaintances ever even thought of them, advised them, or made any use of them. I was indeed always a schemer and projector, but never could engage much in detail. My general plan is good, though in the detail there may be faults. I had myself to form. In another situation, and in an active station in life, I should have been keenly occupied, and the founding an Order would never have come into my head. But I would have executed much greater things, had not government always opposed my exertions, and placed others in the situations which suited my talents. It was the full conviction of this, and of what could be done, if every man were placed in the office for which he was fitted by nature and a proper education, which first suggested to me the plan of illumination." Surely Mr. Weishaupt had a very serious charge, the education of youth; and his encouragement in that charge was the most flattering that an Illuminatus could wish for, because he had brought round him the youth whose influence in society was the greatest and who would most of all contribute to the diffusing good principles, and exciting to good conduct through the whole state. "I did not," says he, "bring deism into Bavaria more than into Rome. I found it here, in great vigour, more abounding than in any of the neighbouring Protestant states. I am proud to be known to the world as the founder of the Order of Illuminati; and I repeat my wish to have for my epitaph,

"Hic situs est Phaethon, currus auriga paterni,

"Quem si non tenuit, magnis tamen excidit ausis."

The second discovery of secret correspondence at Sandersdorff, the feat of Baron Batz (Hannibal) contains still more interesting facts.

Spartacus to Cato.

"What shall I do? I am deprived of all help. Socrates, who would insist on being a man of consequence among us, and is really a man of talents, and of a right way of thinking, is eternally besotted. Augustus is in the worst estimation imaginable. Alcibiades sits the day long with the vintner's pretty wife, and there he sighs and pines. A few days ago, at Corinth, Tiberius attempted to ravish the wife of Democides, and her husband came in upon them. Good heavens! what Areopagitae I have got. When the worthy man Marcus Aurelius comes to Athens (Munich) what will he think? What a meeting with dissolute immoral wretches, whore-masters, liars, bankrupts, braggarts, and vain fools! When he sees all this, what will he think? He will be ashamed to enter into an Association," (observe, Reader, that Spartacus writes this in August 1783, in the very time that he was trying to murder Cato's sister) "where the chiefs raise the highest expectations, and exhibit such a wretched example; and all this from self-will, from sensuality. Am I not in the right--that this man--that any such worthy man--whose name alone would give us the selection of all Germany--will declare that the whole province of Grecia (Bavaria) innocent and guilty, must be excluded. I tell you, we may study; and write, and toil till death. We may sacrifice to the Order, our health, our fortune, and our reputation (alas the loss!) and these Lords, following their own pleasures, will whore, cheat, steal, and drive on like shameless rascals; and yet must be Areopagitae, and interfere in every thing. Indeed, my dearest friend, we have only enslaved ourselves."

In another part of this fine correspondence, Diomedes has had the good fortune to intercept a Q. L. (Quibus licet) in which it is said, and supported by proofs, that Cato had received 250 florins as a bribe for his sentence in his capacity as a judge in a criminal court; (the end had surely sanctified the means.) In another, a Minerval complains of his Mentor for having by lies occasioned the dismission of a physician from a family, by which he obtained the custom of the house and free access, which favor he repaid by debauching the wife; and he prays to be informed whether he may not get another Mentor, saying, that although that man had always given him the most excellent instructions, and he doubted not would continue them, yet he felt a disgust at the hypocrisy, which would certainly diminish the impression of the most salutary truths. (Is it not distressing to think, that this promising youth will by and by laugh at his former simplicity, and follow the steps and not the instructions of his physician.) In another place, Spartacus writes to Marius (in confidence) that another worthy Brother, an Areopagitae, had stolen a gold and a silver watch, and a ring, from Brutus (Savioli) and begs Marius, in another letter, to try, while it was yet possible, to get the things restored, because the culprit was a most excellent man (Vortrefflich) and of vast use to the Order, having the direction of an eminent seminary of young gentlemen; and because Savioli was much in good company, and did not much care for the Order, except in so far as it gave him an opportunity of knowing and leading some of them, and of steering his way at court.

I cannot help inserting here, though not the most proper place, a part of a provincial report from Knigge, the man of the whole Areopagitae who shows any thing like urbanity or gentleness of mind.

"Of my whole colony (Westphalia) the most brilliant is Claudiopolis (Neuwied.) There they work, and direct, and do wonders."

If there ever was a spot upon earth where men may be happy in a state of cultivated society, it was the little principality of Neuwied. I saw it in 1770. The town was neat, and the palace handsome and in good taste; all was clean. But the country was beyond conception delightful; not a cottage that was out of repair, not a hedge out of order; it had been the hobby (pardon the word) of the Prince, who made it his daily employment to go through his principality regularly, and assist every householder, of whatever condition, with his advice, and with his purse; and, when a freeholder could not of himself put things into a thriving condition, the Prince sent his workmen and did it for him. He endowed schools for the common people, and two academies for the gentry and the people of business. He gave little portions to the daughters, and prizes to the well-behaving sons of the labouring people. His own household was a pattern of elegance and economy; his sons were sent to Paris to learn elegance, and to England to learn science and agriculture. In short, the whole was like a romance (and was indeed romantic.) I heard it spoken of with a smile at the table of the Bishop of Treves, at Ehrenbretstein, and was induced to see it next day as a curiosity: And yet even here, the fanaticism of Knigge would distribute his poison, and tell the blinded people, that they were in a state of sin and misery, that their Prince was a despot, and that they would never be happy till he was made to fly, and till they were all made equal.

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Methinks I am a conspiracy theorist. Art thou? Thou block, thou stone, thou worse than senseless thing, for whilst thou slept didst this become a badge of honor. Informed dissent shall always prevail, wherefore art thou worthy, or art thou this unwholesome fool in the group conformity experiment herein?

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