Proofs of a Conspiracy, by John Robison 1798

Such was the first of the deputies to France. The other was a Mr. Bussche, called in the Order Bayard; therefore probably a man of respectable character; for most of Spartacus’s names were significant, like his own. He was a military man, Lieutenant-Colonel in the service of Hesse-Darmstadt. This man also was a discontented Templar Mason, and his name in that Fraternity had been Eques a Fontibus Eremi. He was Illuminated by Knigge. He had also been unsuccessful both at court and in the field, in both of which situations he had been attempting to make a distinguished figure. He, as well as Bode, were immersed in debts. They were therefore just in the proper temper for Cosmo-political enterprise.

They went to Paris in the end of 1788, while the Notables were sitting, and all Paris was giving advice. The alarm that was raised about Animal Magnetism, which was indeed making much noise at that time, and particularly in Paris, was assigned by them as the great motive of the journey. Bode also said that he was anxious to learn what were the corrections made on the system of the Chevaliers Bienfaisants. They had taken that name at first, to screen themselves from the charges against them under the name of Templars. They had corrected something in their system when they took the name Philalethes. And now when the schisms of the Philalethes were healed, and the Brethren again united under the name of Amis Reunis, he suspected that Jesuits had interfered; and because he had heard that the principles of the Amis Reunis were very noble, he wished to be more certain that they were purged of every thing Jesuitical.

The deputies accordingly arrived at Paris, and immediately obtained admission into these two Fraternities. [**] They found both of them in the ripest state for Illumination, having shaken off all the cabalistical, chemical, and mystical whims that had formerly disturbed them, and would now take up too much of their time. They were now cultivating with great zeal the philosophico-political doctrines of universal citizenship. Their leaders, to the number of twenty, are mentioned by name in the Berlin Monatschrift for 1785, and among them are several of the first actors in the French Revolution. But this is nothing distinctive, because persons of all opinions were Masons.

The Amis Reunis were little behind the Illuminati in every thing that was irreligious and anarchichal, and had no inclination for any of the formalities of ritual, &c. They were already fit for the higher mysteries, and only wanted to learn the methods of business which had succeeded so well in spreading their doctrines and maxims over Germany. Besides, their doctrines had not been digested into a system, nor had the artful methods of leading on the pupils from bad to worse been practised. For hitherto, each individual had vented in the Lodges his own opinions, to unburden his own mind, and the Brethren listened for instruction and mutual encouragement. Therefore, when Spartacus’s plan was communicated to them, they saw at once its importance, in all its branches, such as the use of the Mason Lodges, to fish for Minervals–the rituals and ranks to entice the young, and to lead them by degrees to opinions and measures, which, at first sight, would have shocked them. The firm hold which is gotten of the pupils, and indeed of all the inferior classes, by their reports in the course of their pretended training in the knowledge of themselves and of other men–and, above all, the provincial arrangement of the Order, and the clever subordination and entire dependence on a select band or Pandaemonium at Paris, which should inspire and direct the whole.–I think (although I have not express assertions of the fact) from the subsequent conduct of the French revolters, that even at this early period, there were many in those societies who were ready to go every length proposed to them by the Illuminati, such as the abolition of royalty and of all privileged orders, as tyrants by nature, the annihilation and robbery of the priesthood, the rooting out of Christianity, and the introduction of Atheism, or a philosophical chimera which they were to call Religion. Mirabeau had often spoken of the last branch of the Illuminated principles, and the conversations held at Versailles during the awful pauses of the 5th of October (which are to be seen in the evidence before the Chatelet in the Orleans process) can hardly be supposed to be the fancies of an accidental mob.

Mirabeau was, as I have said, at the head of this democratic party, and had repeatedly said, that the only use of a King was to serve as a pageant, in order to give weight to public measures in the opinion of the populace.–And Mr. Latocnaye says, that this party was very numerous, and that immediately after the imprudent or madlike invitation of every scribbler in a garret to give his advice, the party did not scruple to speak their sentiments in public, and that they were encouraged in their encomiums on the advantages of a virtuous republican government by Mr. Necker, who had a most extravagant and childish predilection for the constitution of Geneva, the place of his nativity, and was also much tinged with the Cosmo-political philosophy of the times. The King’s brothers, and the Princes of the blood, presented a memorial to his Majesty, which concluded by saying, that “the effervescence of the public opinions had come to such a height that the most dangerous principles, imported from foreign parts, were avowed in print with perfect impunity–that his Majesty had unwarily encouraged every fanatic to dictate to him, and to spread his poisonous sentiments, in which the rights of the throne were not only disrespected, but were even disputed–that the rights of the higher classes in the state ran a great risk of being speedily suppressed, and that nothing would hinder the sacred right of property from being ere long invaded, and the unequal distribution of wealth from being thought a proper subject of reform.”

When such was the state of things in Paris, it is plain that the business of the German deputies would be easily transacted. They were received with open arms by the Philalethes, the Amis de la Verite, the Social Contract, &c. and in the course of a very few weeks in the end of 1788, and the beginning of 1789 (that is, before the end of March) the whole of the Grand Orient, including the Philalethes, Amis Reunis, Martinistes, &c. had the secrets of Illumination communicated to them. The operation naturally began with the Great National Lodge of Paris, and those in immediate dependence on it. It would also seem, from many circumstances that occurred to my observation, that the Lodges in Alsace and Lorraine were illuminated at this time, and not long before, as I had imagined. Strasburg I know had been illuminated long ago, while Philo was in the Order. A circumstance strikes me here as of some moment. The sects of Philalethes and Amis Reunis were refinements engrafted on the system of the Chevaliers Bienfaisants at Lyons. Such refinements never fail to be considered as a sort of heresy, and the professors will be beheld with a jealous and unfriendly eye by some, who will pride themselves on adhering to the old faith. And the greater the success of the heresy, the greater will be the animosity between the parties.–May not this help to explain the mutual hatred of the Parisians and the Lyonnois, which produced the most dreadful atrocities ever perpetrated on the face of the earth, and made a shambles and a desert of the finest city of France?

The first proceeding by the advice of the deputies was the formation of a Political Committee in every Lodge.

This committee corresponded with the distant Lodges, and in it were discussed and settled all the political principles which were to be inculcated on the members. The author of the Neueste says expressly, that “he was thoroughly instructed in this, that it was given in charge to these committees to frame general rules, and to carry through the great plan (grand oeuvre) of a general overturning of religion and government.” The principal leaders of the subsequent Revolution were members of these committees. Here were the plans laid, and they were transmitted through the kingdom by the Corresponding Committees.

Thus were the stupid Bavarians (as the French were once pleased to call them) their instructors in the art of overturning the world. The French were indeed the first who put it in practice. These committees arose from the Illuminati in Bavaria, who had by no means given over working; and these committees produced the Jacobin Club. It is not a frivolous remark, that the Masonic phrase of the persons who wish to address the Brethren, “S. je demande la parole, which the F. S. reports to the V. G. M. and which he announces to the Brethren thus, “Mes freres, frere tel demande la parole, la parole lui est accordee,”) is exactly copied by the Jacobin Club. There is surely no natural connection between Free Masonry and Jacobinism–but we see the link–Illuminatism.–

The office-bearers of one of the Lodges of Philalethes in Paris were Martin, Willermooz (who had been deputy from the Chevaliers Bienfaisants to the Willemsbad Convention) Chappe, Minet, de la Henriere, and Savatier de l’Ange. [] In another (the Contract Social) the political committee consisted of La Fayette, Condorcet, Pethion, d’Or-leans, Abbe Bertholis, d’Aiguillon, Bailly, Marq. de la Salle, Despresmenil. This particular Lodge had been founded and conducted by one De Leutre, an adventurer and cheat of the first magnitude, who sometimes made a figure, and at other times was without a shilling. At this very time he was a spy attached to the office of the police of Paris. [] The Duke of Orleans was Warden of the Lodge. The Abbe Sieyes was a Brother Orator, but not of this Lodge, nor (I think) of the former. It was probably of the one conducted by Mirabeau and the Abbe Perigord. But it appears from the piece from which I am at present borrowing, that Sieyes was present in the meetings of both Lodges, probably as visiting Brother, employed in bringing them to common measures. I must observe, that the subsequent conduct of some of these men does not just accord with my conjecture, that the principles of the Illuminati were adopted in their full extent. But we know that all the Bavarian Brethren were not equally illuminated, and it would be only copying their teachers if the cleverest of these their scholars should hold a sanctum sanctorum among themselves, without inviting all to the conference. Observe too that the chief lesson which they were now taking from the Germans was the method of doing business, of managing their correspondence, and of procuring and training pupils. A Frenchman does not think that he needs instruction in any thing like principle or science. He is ready on all occasions to be the instructor.

Thus were the Lodges of France converted in a very short time into a set of secret affiliated societies, corresponding with the mother Lodges of Paris, receiving from thence their principles and instructions, and ready to rise up at once when called upon, to carry on the great work of overturning the state.

Hence it has arisen that the French aimed, in the very beginning, at overturning the whole world. In all the revolutions of other countries, the schemes and plots have extended no farther than the nation where they took their rise. But here we have seen that they take in the whole world. They have repeatedly declared this in their manifestos, and they have declared it by their conduct. This is the very aim of the Illuminati.–Hence too may be explained how the revolution took place almost in a moment in every part of France. The revolutionary societies were early formed, and were working in secret before the opening of the National Assembly, and the whole nation changed, and changed again, and again, as if by beat of drum. Those duly initiated in this mystery of iniquity were ready every where at a call. And we see Weishaupt’s wish accomplished in an unexpected degree, and the debates in a club giving laws to solemn assemblies of the nation, and all France bending the neck to the city of Paris. The members of the club are Illuminati, and so are a great part of their correspondents.–Each operates in the state as a Minerval would do in the Order, and the whole goes on with systematic regularity. The famous Jacobin Club was just one of these Lodges, as has been already observed; and as, among individuals, one commonly takes the lead, and contrives for the rest, so it has happened on the present occasion, that this Lodge, supported by Orleans and Mirabeau, was the one that stepped forth and shewed itself to the world, and thus became the oracle of the party; and all the rest only echoed its discourses, and at last allowed it to give law to the whole, and even to rule the kingdom. It is to be remarked too that the founders of the club at Mentz were Illuminati (Relig. Begebenh. 1793. p. 448.) before the Revolution, and corresponded with another Lodge at Strasburg; and these two produced mighty effects during the year 1790. In a performance called Memoires Posthumes de Custine it is said that when that General was bending his course to Holland, the Illuminati at Strasburg, Worms, and Spire immediately formed clubs, and invited him into that quarter, and, by going to Mentz and encouraging their Brethren in that city, they raised a party against the garrison, and actually delivered up the place to the French army.

A little book, just now printed with the title Paragraphen, says, that Zimmerman, of whom I have spoken more than once, went to France to preach liberty. He was employed as a missionary of Revolution in Alsace, where he had formerly been a most successful missionary of Illuminatism. Of his former proceedings the following is a curious anecdote. He connected himself with a highly accomplished and beautiful woman, whose conversation had such charms, that he says she gained him near a hundred converts in Spire alone. Some persons of high rank, and great exterior dignity of character, had felt more tender impressions–and when the lady informed them of certain consequences to their reputation, they were glad to compound matters with her friend Mr. Zimmerman, who either passed for her husband, or took the scandal on himself. He made above 1500 Louis d’ors in this way. When he returned, as a preacher of Revolution, he used to mount the pulpit with a sabre in his hand, and bawl out, “Behold, Frenchmen, this is your God. This alone can save you.” The author adds, that when Custine broke into Germany, Zimmerman got admission to him, and engaged to deliver Manheim into his hands. To gain this purpose, he offered to set some corners of the city on fire, and assured him of support. Custine declined the offer. Zimmerman appeared against him before the Revolutionary Tribunal, and accused him of treachery to his cause.–Custine’s answer is remarkable. “Hardly,” said he, “had I set my foot in Germany, when this man, and all the fools of his country, besieged me, and would have delivered up to me their towns and villages–What occasion had I to do any thing to Manheim, when the Prince was neutral?” Zimmerman found his full account in Robespierre’s bloody sway–but the spurt of his atrocities was also the whole of Zimmerman’s career. He was arrested, but again liberated, and soon after again imprisoned, after which I can learn no more of him. The same thing is positively asserted in another performance, called Cri de la Raison, and in a third, called Les Masques arrachees. Observe too, that it is not the clubs merely that are accused of this treachery, but the Illuminati. De la Metherie also, in his preface to the Journal de Physique for 1790, says expressly that “the cause and arms of France were powerfully supported in Germany by a sect of philosophers called the Illuminated.” In the preface to the Journal for 1792, he says, that “Letters and deputations were received by the Assembly from several Corresponding Societies in England, felicitating them on the triumph of Reason and Humanity, and promising them their cordial assistance.” He read some of these manifests, and says, that “one of them recommended strongly the political education of the children, who should be taken from the parents, and trained up for the state.” Another lamented the baleful influence of property, saying that “the efforts of the Assembly would be fruitless, till the fence was removed with which the laws so anxiously secured inordinate wealth. They should rather be directed to the support of talents and virtue; because property would always support itself by the too great influence which it had in every corrupted state. The laws should prevent the too great accumulation of it in particular families.”–In short, the counsel was almost verbatim what the Abbe Cossandey declared to have been the doctrine preached in the meetings of the Illuminati, which terrified him and his colleagues, and made them quit the Association. Anarcharsis Cloots, born in Prussian Westphalia, a keen Illuminatus, came to Paris for the express purpose of forwarding the great work, and by intriguing in the style of the Order, he got himself made one of the Representatives of the Nation. He seems to have been one of the completest fanatics in Cosmo-politism, and just such a tool as Weishaupt would choose to employ for a coarse and arduous job. He broke out at once into all the silly extravagance of the unthinking herd, and his whole language is just the jargon of Illumination. Citizen of the World–Liberty and Equality, the imprescriptible Rights of Man–Morality, dear Morality–Kings and Priests are useless things–they are Despots and Corrupters, &c.–He declared himself an atheist, and zealously laboured to have atheism established by law. He conducted that farcical procession in the true style of the most childish ritual of Philo, where counterfeited deputies from all quarters of the world, in the dresses of their countries, came to congratulate the nation for its victory over Kings and Priests. It is also worthy of remark, that by this time Leuchtsenring, whom we have seen so zealous an Illuminatus, after having been as zealous a Protestant, tutor of Princes, Hofrath and Hofmeister, was now a secretary or clerk in one of the Bureaus of the National Assembly of France.

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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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