Proofs of a Conspiracy, by John Robison 1798

“The Lodge is constituted entirely according to our system, and has broken off entirely from Berlin, and we have nearly finished our transactions with the Lodges of Poland, and shall have them under our direction.

“By the activity of our Brethren, the Jesuits have been kept out of all the professorial chairs at Ingolstadt, and our friends prevail.”

“The Widow Duchess has set up her academy entirely according to our plan, and we have all the Professors in the Order. Five of them are excellent, and the pupils will be prepared for us.

“We have got Pylades put at the head of the Fisc, and he has the church-money at his disposal. By properly using this money, we have been enabled to put our Brother ——‘s household in good order; which he had destroyed by going to the Jews. We have supported more Brethren under similar misfortunes.

“Our Ghostly Brethren have been very fortunate this last year, for we have procured for them several good benefices, parishes, tutorships, &c.

“Through our means Arminius and Cortez have gotten Professorships, and many of our younger Brethren have obtained Bursaries by our help.

“We have been very successful against the Jesuits, and brought things to such a bearing, that their revenues, such as the Mission, the Golden Alms, the Exercises, and the Conversion Box, are now under the management of our friends. So are also their concerns in the university and the German school foundations. The application of all will be determined presently, and we have six members and four friends in the Court. This has cost our senate some nights want of sleep.

“Two of our best youths have got journies from the Court, and they will go to Vienna, where they will do us great service.

“All the German Schools, and the Benevolent Society, are at last under our direction.

“We have got several zealous members in the courts of justice, and we are able to afford them pay, and other good additions.

“Lately, we have got possession of the Bartholomew Institution for young clergymen, having secured all its supporters. Through this we shall be able to supply Bavaria with fit priests.

“By a letter from Philo we learn, that one of the highest dignities in the church was obtained for a zealous Illuminatus, in opposition even to the authority and right of the Bishop of Spire, who is represented as a bigotted and tyrannical priest.”

Such were the lesser mysteries of the Illuminati. But there remain the higher mysteries. The system of these has not been printed, and the degrees were conferred only by Spartacus himself, from papers which he never entrusted to any person. They were only read to the candidate, but no copy was taken. The publisher of the Neueste Arbeitung says that he has read them (so says Grollman.) He says, “that in the first degree of MAGUS or PHILOSOPHUS, the doctrines are the same with those of Spinoza, where all is material, God and the world are the same thing, and all religion whatever is without foundation, and the contrivance of ambitious men.” The second degree, or REX, teaches, “that every peasant, citizen, and householder is a sovereign, as in the Patriarchal state, and that nations must be brought back to that state, by whatever means are conducible–peaceably, if it can be done; but, if not, then by force–for all subordination must vanish from the face of the earth.”

The author says further, that the German Union was, to his certain knowledge, the work of the Illuminati.

The private correspondence that has been published is by no means the whole of what was discovered at Landshut and Bassus Hoff, and government got a great deal of useful information, which was concealed, both out of regard to the families of the persons concerned, and also that the rest might not know the utmost extent of the discovery, and be less on their guard. A third collection was found under the foundation of the house in which the Lodge Theodor von guten Rath had been held. But none of this has appeared. Enough surely has been discovered to give the public a very just idea of the designs of the Society and its connections.

Lodges were discovered, and are mentioned in the private papers already published, in the following places.


Hesse (many)






Stutgard (3)






Neuwied (2)


Mentz (2)


Poland (many)




England (8)

Upper Saxony (several)

Scotland (2)

Austria (14)

Warsaw (2)

Westphalia (several)





Treves (2)

Strasburgh (5)

Aix-la-Chappelle (2)






Switzerland (many)



Bonn (4)


Livonia (many)


Courland (many)




Alsace (many)

Halland (many)

Vienna (4)

Dresden (4)

America (several). N. B. This was before 1786.

[p. 117]

I have picked up the names of the following members.


Weishaupt, Professor.


Knigge, Freyherr, i.e. Gentleman.


Bode, F. H.


Busche, F. H.


Constanza, Marq.


Zwack, Lawyer.

Torring, Count.

Kreitmaier, Prince.

Utschneider, Professor.

Cossandey, Professor.

Renner, Professor.

Grunberger, Professor.

Balderbusch, F. H.

Lippert, Counsellor.

Kundl, ditto.

Bart, ditto.

Leiberhauer, Priest.

Kundler, Professor.

Lowling, Professor.

Vachency, Councellor.

Morausky, Count.

Hoffstetter, Surveyor of Roads.

Strobl, Bookseller.


Westenrieder, Professor.

Babo, Professor.

Baader, Professor.

Burzes, Priest.

Pfruntz, Priest.


Bassus, Baron.


Savioli, Count.


Nicholai, Bookseller.

Bahrdt, Clergyman.

Zoroaster, Confucius,


Hermes Trismegistus,

Socher, School Inspector.

Dillis, Abbe.


Meggenhoff, Paymaster.

Danzer, Canon.

Braun, ditto.

Fischer, Magistrate.

[p. 118]

Frauenberger, Baron.

Kaltner, Lieutenant.


Drexl, Librarian.


Hertel, Canon.


Dilling, Counsellor.

Seefeld, Count.

Gunsheim, ditto.

Morgellan, ditto.


Ecker, ditto.

Ow, Major.

Werner, Counsellor.

Cornelius Scipio,

Berger, ditto.

Wortz, Apothecary.

Mauvillon, Colonel.

Mirabeau, Count.

Orleans, Duke.


Tycho Brahe,

Gaspar, Merchant.





Ludovicus Bavarus,





Tropponero, Zuschwartz.










Massenhausen, Count.

I have not been able to find who personated Minos, Euriphon, Celsius, Mahomet, Hercules, Socrates, Philippo Strozzi, Euclides, and some others who have been uncommonly active in carrying forward the great cause.

The chief publications for giving us regular accounts of the whole (besides the original writings) are,

  1. Grosse Absicht des Illuminaten Ordens.
  2. ——– Nachtrages (3.) an denselben.
  3. Weishaupt’s improved System.
  4. System des Ilium. Ordens aus dem Original-Schriften gezogen.
[p. 119]

I may now be permitted to make a few reflections on the accounts already given of this Order, which has so distinctly concentrated the casual and scattered efforts of its prompters, the Chevaliers Bienfaisants, the Philalethes, and Amis Reunis of France, and carried on the system of enlightening and reforming the world.

The great aim professed by the Order is to make men happy; and the means professed to be employed, as the only and surely effective, is making them good; and this is to be brought about by enlightening the mind, and freeing it from the dominion of superstition and prejudices. This purpose is effected by its producing a just and steady morality. This done, and becoming universal, there can be little doubt but that the peace of society will be the consequence–that government, subordination, and all the disagreeable coercions of civil governments will be unnecessary–and that society may go on peaceably in a state of perfect liberty and equality.

But surely it requires no angel from heaven to tell us that if every man is virtuous, there will be no vice; and that there will be peace on earth, and good will between man and man, whatever be the differences of rank and fortune; so that Liberty and Equality seem not to be the necessary consequences of this just Morality, nor necessary requisites for this national happiness. We may question, therefore, whether the Illumination which makes this a necessary condition is a clear and a pure light. It may be a false glare, showing the object only on one side, tinged with partial colours thrown on it by neighbouring objects. We see so much wisdom in the general plans of nature, that we are apt to think that there is the same in what relates to the human mind, and that the God of nature accomplishes his plans in this as well as in other instances. We are even disposed to think that human nature would suffer by it. The rational nature of man is not contented with meat and drink, and raiment, and shelter, but is also pleased with exerting many powers and faculties, and with gratifying many tastes, which could hardly have any existence in a society where all are equal. We say that there can be no doubt that the pleasure arising from the contemplation of the works of art–the pleasure of intellectual cultivation, the pleasure of mere ornament, are rational, distinguish man from a brute, and are so general, that there is hardly a mind so rude as not to feel them. Of all these, and of all the difficult sciences, all most rational, and in themselves most innocent, and most delightful to a cultivated mind, we should be deprived in a society where all are equal. No individual could give employment to the talents necessary for creating and improving these ornamental comforts of life. We are absolutely certain that, even in the most favorable situations on the face of the earth, the most untainted virtue in every breast could not raise man to that degree of cultivation that is possessed by citizens very low in any of the states of Europe; and in the situation of most countries we are acquainted with, the state of man would be much lower: for, at our very setting out, we must grant that the liberty and equality here spoken of must be complete; for there must not be such a thing as a farmer and his cottager. This would be as unjust, as much the cause of discontent, as the gentleman and the farmer.

This scheme therefore seems contrary to the designs of our Creator, who has every where placed us in these situations of inequality that are here so much scouted, and has given us strong propensities by which we relish these enjoyments. We also find that they may be enjoyed in peace and innocence. And lastly, We imagine that the villain, who, in the station of a professor, would plunder a Prince, would also plunder the farmer if he were his cottager. The illumination therefore that appears to have the best chance of making mankind happy, is that which will teach us the Morality which will respect the comforts of cultivated Society, and teach us to protect the possessors in the innocent enjoyment of them; that will enable us to perceive and admire the taste and elegance of Architecture and Gardening, without any wish to sweep the gardens and their owner from off the earth, merely because he is their owner.

We are therefore suspicious of this Illumination, and apt to ascribe this violent antipathy to Princes and subordination to the very cause that makes true Illumination, and just Morality proceeding from it, so necessary to public happiness, namely, the vice and injustice of those who cannot innocently have the command of those offensive elegancies of human life. Luxurious tastes, keen desires, and unbridled passions, would prompt to all this, and this Illumination is, as we see, equivalent to them in effect. The aim of the Order is not to enlighten the mind of man, and show him his moral obligations, and by the practice of his duties to make society peaceable, possession secure, and coercion unnecessary, so that all may be at rest and happy, even though all were equal; but to get rid of the coercion which must be employed in place of Morality, that the innocent rich may be robbed with impunity by the idle and profligate poor. But to do this, an unjust casuistry must be employed in place of a just Morality; and this must be defended or suggested, by misrepresenting the true state of man, and of his relation to the universe, and by removing the restrictions of religion, and giving a superlative value to all those constituents of human enjoyment, which true Illumination shows us to be but very small concerns of a rational and virtuous mind. The more closely we examine the principles and practice of the Illuminati, the more clearly do we perceive that this is the case. Their first and immediate aim is to get the possession of riches, power, and influence, without industry; and, to accomplish this, they want to abolish Christianity; and then dissolute manners and universal profligacy will procure them the adherence of all the wicked, and enable them to overturn all the civil governments of Europe; after which they will think of farther conquests, and extend their operations to the other quarters of the globe, till they have reduced mankind to the state of one undistinguishable chaotic mass.

But this is too chimerical to be thought their real aim. Their Founder, I dare say, never entertained such hopes, nor troubled himself with the fate of distant lands. But it comes in his way when he puts on the mask of humanity and benevolence: it must embrace all mankind, only because it must be stronger than patriotism and loyalty, which stand in his way. Observe that Weishaupt took a name expressive of his principles. Spartacus was a gladiator, who headed an insurrection of Roman slaves, and for three years kept the city in terror. Weishaupt says in one of his letters, “I never was fond of empty titles; but surely that man has a childish soul who would not as readily chuse the name of Spartacus as that of Octavius Augustus.” The names which he gives to several of his gang express their differences of sentiments. Philo, Lucian, and others, are very significantly given to Knigge, Nicholai, &c. He was vain of the name Spartacus, because he considered himself as employed somewhat in the same way, leading slaves to freedom. Princes and Priests are mentioned by him on all occasions in terms of abhorrence.

Spartacus employs powerful means. In the style of the Jesuits (as he says) he considers every mean as consecrated by the end for which it is employed, and he says with great truth,

“Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.”

To save his reputation, he scruples not to murder his innocent child, and the woman whom he had held in his arms with emotions of fondness and affection. But lest this should appear too selfish a motive, he says, “had I fallen, my precious Order would have fallen with me; the Order which is to bless mankind. I should not again have been able to speak of virtue so as to make any lasting impression. My example might have ruined many young men.” This he thinks will excuse, nay sanctify any thing. “My letters are my greatest vindication.” He employs the Christian Religion, which he thinks a falsehood, and which he is afterwards to explode, as the mean for inviting Christians of every denomination, and gradually cajoling them, by clearing up their Christian doubts in succession, till he lands them in Deism; or, if he finds them unfit, and too religious, he gives them a Sta bene, and then laughs at the fears, or perhaps madness, in which he leaves them. Having got them this length, they are declared to be fit, and he receives them into the higher mysteries. But lest they should still shrink back, dazzled by the Pandemonian glare of Illumination which will now burst upon them, he exacts from them, for the first time, a bond of perseverance. But, as Philo says, there is little chance of tergiversation. The life and honor of most of the candidates are by this time in his hand. They have been long occupied in the vile and corrupting office of spies on all around them, and they are found fit for their present honors, because they have discharged this office to his satisfaction, by the reports which they have given in, containing stories of their neighbours, nay even of their own gang. They may be ruined in the world by disclosing these, either privately or publicly. A man who had once brought himself into this perilous situation durst not go back. He might have been left indeed in any degree of Illumination; and, if Religion has not been quite eradicated from his mind, he must be in that condition of painful anxiety and doubt that makes him desperate, fit for the full operation of fanaticism, and he may be engaged in the cause of God, “to commit all kind of wickedness with greediness.” In this state of mind, a man shuts his eyes, and rushes on. Had Spartacus supposed that he was dealing with good men, his conduct would have been the reverse of all this. There is no occasion for this bond from a person convinced of the excellency of the Order. But he knew them to be unprincipled, and that the higher mysteries were so daring, that even some of such men would start at them. But they must not blab.

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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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