Proofs of a Conspiracy, by John Robison 1798

Spartacus to Cato.

“Nothing would be more profitable to us than a right history of mankind. Despotism has robbed them of their liberty. How can the weak obtain protection? Only by union; but this is rare. Nothing can bring this about but hidden societies. Hidden schools of wisdom are the means which will one day free men from their bonds. These have in all ages been the archives of nature, and of the rights of men; and by them shall human nature be raised from her fallen state. Princes and nations shall vanish from the earth. The human race will then become one family, and the world will be the dwelling of rational men.

“Morality alone can do this. The head of every family will be what Abraham was, the patriarch, the priest, and the unlettered lord of his family, and Reason will be the code of laws to all mankind. THIS,” says Spartacus, “is our GREAT SECRET. True, there may be some disturbance; but by and by the unequal will become equal; and after the storm all will be calm. Can the unhappy consequences remain when the grounds of dissension are removed? Rouse yourselves therefore, O men! assert your rights; and then will Reason rule with unperceived sway; and ALL SHALL BE HAPPY. [**]

“Morality will perform all this; and morality is the fruit of Illumination; duties and rights are reciprocal. Where Octavius has no right, Cato owes him no duty. Illumination shews us our rights, and Morality follows; that Morality which teaches us to be of age, to be out of wardenship, to be full grown, and to walk without the leading-strings of priests and princes.

“Jesus of Nazareth, the Grand Master of our Order, appeared at a time when the world was in the utmost disorder, and among a people who for ages had groaned under the yoke of bondage. He taught them the lessons of reason. To be more effective, he took in the aid of Religion–of opinions which were current–and, in a very clever manner, he combined his secret doctrines with the popular religion, and with the customs which lay to his hand. In these he wrapped up his lessons–he taught by parables. Never did any prophet lead men so easily and so securely along the road of liberty. He concealed the precious meaning and consequences of his doctrines; but fully disclosed them to a chosen few. He speaks of a kingdom of the upright and faithful; his Father’s kingdom, whose children we also are. Let us only take Liberty and Equality as the great aim of his doctrines, and Morality as the way to attain it, and every thing in the New Testament will be comprehensible; and Jesus will appear as the Redeemer of slaves. Man is fallen from the condition of Liberty and Equality, the STATE OF PURE NATURE. He is under subordination and civil bondage, arising from the vices of man. This is the FALL, and ORIGINAL SIN. The KINGDOM OF GRACE is that restoration which may be brought about by Illumination and a just Morality. This is the NEW BIRTH. When man lives under government, he is fallen, his worth is gone, and his nature tarnished. By subduing our passions, or limiting their cravings, we may recover a great deal of our original worth, and live in a state of grace. This is the redemption of men –this is accomplished by Morality; and when this is spread over the world, we have THE KINGDOM OF THE JUST.

“But alas! the task of self-formation was too hard for the subjects of the Roman empire, corrupted by every species of profligacy. A chosen few received the doctrines in secret, and they have been handed down to us (but frequently almost buried under rubbish of man’s invention) by the Free Masons. These three conditions of human society are expressed by the rough, the split and the polished stone. The rough stone, and the one that is split, express our condition under civil government; rough by every fretting inequality of condition; and split, since we are no longer one family; and are farther divided by differences of government, rank, property, and religion; but when reunited in one family, we are represented by the polished stone. G. is Grace; the Flaming Star is the Torch of Reason. Those who possess this knowledge are indeed ILLUMINATI. Hiram is our fictitious Grand Master, slain for the REDEMPTION OF SLAVES; the Nine Masters are the Founders of the Order. Free Masonry is a Royal Art, inasmuch as it teaches us to walk without trammels, and to govern ourselves.”

Reader, are you not curious to learn something of this all-powerful morality, so operative on the heart of the truly illuminated–of this disciplina arcani, entrusted only to the chosen few, and handed down to Professor Weishaupt, to Spartacus, and his associates, who have cleared it of the rubbish heaped on it by the dim-sighted Masons, and now beaming in its native lustre on the minds of the Areopagitae? The teachers of ordinary Christianity have been labouring for almost 2000 years, with the New Testament in their hands; many of them with great address, and many, I believe, with honest zeal. But alas! they cannot produce such wonderful and certain effects (for observe, that Weishaupt repeatedly assures us that his means are certain) probably for want of this disciplina arcani, of whose efficacy so much is said. Most fortunately, Spartacus has given us a brilliant specimen of the ethics which illuminated himself on a trying occasion, where an ordinary Christian would have been much perplexed, or would have taken a road widely different from that of this illustrious apostle of light. And seeing that several of the Areopagitae co-operated in the transaction, and that it was carefully concealed from the profane and dim-sighted world, we can have no doubt but that it was conducted according to the disciplina arcani of Illumination. I shall give it in his own words.

Spartacus to Marius, September 1783.

“I am now in the most embarrassing situation; it robs me of all rest, and makes me unfit for every thing. I am in danger of losing at once my honor and my reputation, by which I have long had such influence. What think you–my sister-in-law is with child. I have sent her to , and am endeavouring to procure a marriage-licence from Rome. How much depends on this uncertainty–and there is not a moment to lose. Should I fail, what is to be done? What a return do I make by this to a person to whom I am so much obliged! (we shall see the probable meaning of this exclamation by and by.) We have tried every method in our power to destroy the child; and I hope she is determined on every thing–even d——. (Can this mean death?) But alas! Euriphon is, I fear, too timid (alas! poor woman, thou art now under the disciplina arcani) and I see no other expedient. Could I be but assured of the silence of Celsus (a physician at Ingoldstadt) he can relieve me, and he promised me as much three years ago. Do speak to him, if you think he will be staunch. I would not let Cato (his dearest friend, and his chief or only confidant in the scheme of Illumination) know it yet, because the affair in other respects requires his whole friendship. (Cato had all the pretty receipts.) Could you but help me out of this distress, you would give me life, honor, and peace, and strength to work again in the great cause. If you cannot, be assured I will venture on the most desperate stroke (poor sister!) for it is fixed.–I will not lose my honor. I cannot conceive what devil has made me to go astray–me who have always been so careful on such occasions. As yet all is quiet, and none know of it but you and Euriphon. Were it but time to undertake any thing–but alas! it is the fourth month. These damned priests too–for the action is so criminally accounted by them, and scandalises the blood. This makes the utmost efforts and the most desperate measures absolutely necessary.”

It will throw some light on this transaction if we read a letter from Spartacus to Cato about this time.

“One thing more, my dearest friend–Would it be agreeable to you to have me for a brother-in-law. If this should be agreeable, and if it can be brought about without prejudice to my honor, as I hope it may, I am not without hopes that the connection may take place. But in the mean time keep it a secret, and only give me permission to enter into correspondence on the subject with the good lady, to whom I beg you will offer my respectful compliments, and I will explain myself more fully to you by word of mouth, and tell you my whole situation. But I repeat it–the thing must be gone about with address and caution. I would not for all the world deceive a person who certainly has not deserved so of me.”

What interpretation can be put on this? Cato seems to be brother to the poor woman–he was unwittingly to furnish the drugs, and he was to be dealt with about consenting to a marriage, which could not be altogether agreeable to him, since it required a dispensation, she being already the sister-in-law of Weishaupt, either the sister of his former wife, or the widow of a deceased brother. Or perhaps Spartacus really wishes to marry Cato’s sister, a different person from the poor woman in the straw; and he conceals this adventure from his trusty friend Cato, till he sees what becomes of it. The child may perhaps be got rid of, and then Spartacus is a free man. There is a letter to Cato, thanking him for his friendship in the affair of the child–but it gives no light. I meet with another account, that the sister of Zwack threw herself from the top of a tower, and beat out her brains. But it is not said that it was an only sister; if it was, the probability is, that Spartacus had paid his addresses to her, and succeeded, and that the subsequent affair of his marriage with his sister-in-law or something worse, broke her heart. This seems the best account of the matter. For Hertel (Marius) writes to Zwack in November 1782: “Spartacus is this day gone home, but has left his sister-in-law pregnant behind (this is from Bassus Hoss.) About the new year he hopes to be made merry by a——; who will be before all kings and princes–a young Spartacus. The Pope also will respect him, and legitimate him before the time.”

Now, vulgar Christian, compare this with the former declaration of Weishaupt, in page 80, where he appeals to the tenor of his former life, which had been so severely scrutinised, without diminishing his high reputation and great influence, and his ignorance and abhorrence of all those things found in Cato’s repositories. You see this was a surprise–he had formerly proceeded cautiously.–“He is the best man,” says Spartacus, “who best conceals his faults.”–He was disappointed by Celsus, who had promised him his assistance on such occasions three years ago, during which time he had been busy in “forming himself.” How far he has advanced, the reader may judge.

One is curious to know what became of the poor woman: she was afterwards taken to the house of Baron Bassus; but here the foolish woman, for want of that courage which Illumination, and the bright prospect of eternal sleep should have produced, took fright at the disciplina arcani, left the house, and in the hidden society of a midwife and nurse brought forth a young Spartacus, who now lives to thank his father for his endeavours to murder him. A “damned priest,” the good Bishop of Freysingen, knowing the cogent reasons, procured the dispensation, and Spartacus was obliged, like another dim-sighted mortal, to marry her. The scandal was hushed, and would not have been discovered had it not been for these private writings.

But Spartacus says (page 84) “that when you think him sunk to the bottom, he will spring up with double vigour.” In a subsequent work called Short Amendment of my Plan, he says, “If men were not habituated to wicked manners, his letters would be their own justification.” He does not say that he is without fault; “but they are faults of the understanding–not of the heart. He had, first of all, to form himself; and this is a work of time.” In the affair of his sister-in-law he admits the facts, and the attempts to destroy the child; “but this is far from proving any depravity of heart. In his condition, his honor at stake, what else was left him to do? His greatest enemies, the Jesuits, have taught that in such a case it is lawful to make away with the child,” and he quotes authorities from their books. “In the introductory fault he has the example of the best of men. The second was its natural consequence, it was altogether involuntary, and, in the eye of a philosophical judge (I presume of the Gallic School) who does not square himself by the harsh letters of a blood-thirsty lawgiver, he has but a very trifling account to settle. He had become a public teacher, and was greatly followed; this example might have ruined many young men. The eyes of the Order also were fixed on him. The edifice rested on his credit; had he fallen, he could no longer have been in a condition to treat the matters of virtue so as to make a lasting impression. It was chiefly his anxiety to support the credit of the Order which determined him to take this step. It makes for him, but by no means against him; and the persons who are most in fault are the slavish inquisitors, who have published the transaction, in order to make his character more remarkable, and to hurt the Order through his person; and they have not scrupled, for this hellish purpose, to stir up a child against its father ! ! !”

I make no reflections on this very remarkable, and highly useful story, but content myself with saying, that this justification by Weishaupt (which I have been careful to give in his own words) is the greatest instance of effrontery and insult on the sentiments of mankind that I have ever met with. We are all supposed as completely corrupted as if we had lived under the full blaze of Illumination.

In other places of this curious correspondence we learn that Minos, and others of the Areopagitae, wanted to introduce Atheism at once, and not go hedging in the manner they did; affirming it was easier to show at once that Atheism was friendly to society, than to explain all their Masonic Christianity, which they were afterwards to show to be a bundle of lies. Indeed this purpose, of not only abolishing Christianity, but all positive religion whatever, was Weishaupt’s favorite scheme from the beginning. Before he canvassed for his Order, in 1774, he published a fictitious antique, which he called Sidonii Apollinaris Fragmenta, to prepare (as he expressly says in another place) minds for the doctrines of Reason, which contains all the detestable doctrines of Robinet’s Systeme de la Nature. The publication of the second part was stopped. Weishaupt says, in his APOLOGY FOR THE ILLUMINATI, that before 1780 he had retracted his opinions about Materialism, and about the inexpediency of Princes. But this is false: Philo says expressly, that every thing remained on its original footing in the whole practice and dogmas of the Order when he quitted it in July 1784. All this was concealed, and a even the abominable Masonry, in the account of the Order which Weishaupt published at Regensburg; and it required the constant efforts of Philo to prevent bare or flat Atheism from being uniformly taught in their degrees. He had told the council that Zeno would not be under a roof with a man who denied the immortality of the soul. He complains of Minos’s cramming irreligion down their throats in every meeting, and says, that he frightened many from entering the Order. “Truth,” says Philo, “is a clever, but a modest girl, who must be led by the hand like a gentlewoman, but not kicked about like a whore.” Spartacus complains much of the squeamishness of Philo; yet Philo is not a great deal behind him in irreligion. When describing to Cato the Christianity of the Priest-degree, as he had manufactured it, he says, “It is all one whether it be true or false, we must have it, that we may tickle those who have a hankering for religion.” All the odds seems to be, that he was of a gentler disposition, and had more deference even for the absurd prejudices of others. In one of his angry letters to Cato he says; “The vanity and self conceit of Spartacus would have got the better of all prudence, had I not checked him, and prevailed on the Areopagitae but to defer the developement of the bold principles till we had firmly secured the man. I even wished to entice the candidate the more by giving him back all his former bonds of secrecy, and leaving him at liberty to walk out without fear; and I am certain that they were, by this time, so engaged that we should not have lost one man. But Spartacus had composed an exhibition of his last principles, for a discourse of reception, in which he painted his three favorite mysterious degrees, which were to be conferred by him alone, in colours which had fascinated his own fancy. But they were the colours of hell, and would have scared the most intrepid; and because I represented the danger of this, and by force obtained the omission of this picture, he became my implacable enemy. I abhor treachery and profligacy, and leave him to blow himself and his Order in the air.”

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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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