Proofs of a Conspiracy, by John Robison 1798


^232:* He now (or very lately) keeps the best company, and lives in elegence and affluence in London.

Augur, schaenobates medicus, magus, omnia novit

Graculus esuriens; in caelum jusseris, ibit. [*+]

Ingenium velox audacia perdita, sermo




All sciences a hungry Frenchman knows.

And bid him go to hell--to hell he goes.

Johnson's Translation.

^260:* De la Metherie says (Journ. de Phys. Nov. 1792) that Condorcet was brought up in the house of the old Duke of Rochefoucault, who treated him as his son--got Turgot to create a lucrative office for him, and raised him to all his eminence--yet he pursued him with malicious reports--and actually employed ruffians to assassinate him. Yet is Condorcet's writing a model of humanity and tenderness.

^264:* I have met with this charge in many places; and one book in particular, written by a Prussian General Officer, who was in the country over-run by the French troops, gives a detail of the conduct of the women that is very remarkable. He also says, that infidelity has become very prevalent among the ladies in the higher circles. Indeed this melancholy account is to be found in many passages of the private correspondence of the Illuminati.

^284:* While the sheet commencing p. 267 was printing off, I got a sight of a work published in Paris last year, entitled La Conjuration d' Orleans. It confirms all that I have said respecting the use made of the Free Mason Lodges.--It gives a particular account of the formation of the Jacobin Club, by the Club Breton. This last appears to have been the Association formed with the assistance of the German Deputies. The Jacobin Club had several committees, similar to those of the National Assembly. Among others, it had a Committee of Enquiry and Correspondence, whose business it was to gain partizans, to discover enemies, to decide on the merits of the Brethren, and to form similar Clubs in other places.

The author of the above-mentioned work writes as follows (vol. 3. p. 19.) We may judge of what the D. of Orleans could do in other places, by what he did during his stay in England. During his stay in London, he gained over to his interest Lord Stanhope and Dr. Price, two of the most respectable members of the Revolution Society. This Society had no other object (it said) but to support the Revolution, which had driven James II. from the throne of his ancestors.

Orleans made of this association a true Jacobin Club--It entered into correspondence with the Committee of Enquiry of our Commune, with the same Committee of our Jacobin Club, and at last with our National Assembly. It even sent to the Assembly an ostensible letter, in which we may see the following passages:

"The Society congratulates the National Assembly of France on the Revolution which has taken place in that country. It cannot but earnestly wish for the happy conclusion of so important a Revolution, and, at the same time, express the extreme satisfaction which it feels in reflecting on the glorious example which France has given to the world." (The Reader will remark, that in this example are contained all the horrors which had been exhibited in France before the month of March 1790; and that before this time, the conduct of the D. of Orleans on the 5th and 6th of October 1789, with all the shocking atrocities of those days, were fully known in England.)

"The Society resolves unanimously to invite all the people of England to establish Societies through the kingdom, to support the principles of the Revolution (look back to p. 236, of this work) "to form correspondences between themselves, and by these means to establish a great concerted Union of all the true Friends of Liberty."

Accordingly (says the French author) this was executed, and Jacobin Clubs were established in several cities of England, Scotland, and Ireland.


ALTHOUGH I saw no reason to doubt of the validity of the proofs which I have offered in the preceding pages, of a conspiracy against the dearest interests of every nation of Europe, nor of the importance of the information to my own countrymen, it gives me great satisfaction to learn that it has been received with favor and indulgence. This I may conclude from the impression's being exhausted in a few days, and because the publisher informs me that another edition is wanted immediately. I could have wished that this were deferred for some time, that I might have availed myself of the observations of others, and be enabled to correct the mistakes into which I have been led by my scanty knowledge of the German language, and the mistakes of the writers from whom I derived all my informations. I should, in that case, have attempted to make the work more worthy of the public eye, by correcting many imperfections, which the continual distraction of bad health, and my haste to bring it before the public, have occasioned. I should have made the disposition more natural and perspicuous, and have lopped off some redundances and repetitions. But the printer tells me, that this would greatly retard the publication, by changing the series of the pages. At any rate, I am not at present in a condition to engage in any work that requires dispatch. I must yield therefore to those reasons, and content myself with such corrections as can be made immediately.

I have found, after minute enquiry, that I was mistaken as to the expression of an eminent follower of Dr. Priestly, mentioned before. The person alluded to disclaims all sanguinary proceedings, and my information arose from a very erroneous account which was circulated of the conversation. But I still think the caution equally necessary, which I recommend to the hearers of the frequent and violent declamations made by those alluded to, against all religious establishments.

Except the anecdote of Diderot's library, I do not recollect another assertion in the book, for which I have not the authority of printed evidence. This story was told me by so many persons of credit, who were on the spot at the time, that I have no doubt of its truth.

I also find that I was mistaken in my conjecture that Mr. Le Franc communicated his suspicions of the horrid designs of the Free Masons to Archbishop Gobet. It must have been to Mr. Le Clerc de Juigne, a most worthy prelate, whom the hatred of the Jacobins obliged to fly into Switzerland. The Catholic clergy were butchered or banished, and the Jacobins substituted in their places such as would second their views. Gobet was worthy of their confidence, and the Archbishop of Thoulouse (Brienne) himself could not have served the cause of the philosophists more effectually, had they succeeded in their attempts to get him continued Archbishop of Paris.

As the poetical picture of unqualified Liberty and Equality, and the indolent pleasures of the patriarchal life, are the charm by which the Illuminators hope to fascinate all hearts, and as they reprobate every construction of society which tolerates any permanent subordination, and particularly such as found this subordination on distinctions of ranks, and scout all privileges allowed to particular orders of men, I hope that it will not be thought foreign to the general purpose of the foregoing Work, if, I with great deference, lay before the Reader some of my reasons for asserting, without hesitation, in a former part, that the British constitution is the only one that will give permanent happiness to a great and luxurious nation, and is peculiarly calculated to give full exercise to the best propensities of cultivated minds. I am the more desirous of doing this, because it seems to me that most of the political writers on the Continent, and many of my countrymen, have not attended to important circumstances which distinguish our constitution from the States General of France and other countries. The republicans in France have, since the Revolution, employed the pains in searching their records, which ought to have been taken before the convocation of the States, and which would probably have prevented that step altogether. They have shewn that the meetings of the States, if we except that in 1614 and 1483, were uniformly occasions of mutual contests between the different Orders, in which the interests of the nation and the authority of the Crown were equally forgotten, and the kingdom was plunged into all the horrors of a rancorous civil war. Of this they give us a remarkable instance during the captivity of King John in 1355 and 1356, the horrors of which were hardly exceeded by any thing that has happened in our days. They have shewn the same dismal consequences of the assembly of the different Orders in Brabant; and still more remarkably in Sweden and Denmark, where they have frequently produced a revolution and change of government, all of which have terminated in the absolute government, either of the Crown, or of one of the contending Orders. They laugh at the simplicity of the British for expecting that the permanent fruits of our constitution, which is founded on the same jarring principles, shall be any better; and assert, that the peaceable exercise of its several powers for somewhat more than a century (a thing never experienced by us in former times) has proceeded from circumstances merely accidental. With much address they have selected the former disturbances, and have connected them by a sort of principle, so as to support their system, "that a States General or Parliament, consisting of a representation of the different classes of citizens, can never deliberate for the general good, but must always occupy their time in contentions about their mutual invasions of privilege, and will saddle every aid to the executive power, with some unjust and ruinous aggrandisement of the victorious Order." They have the effrontery to give the MAGNA CHARTA as an instance of an usurpation of the great feudatories, and have represented it in such a light as to make it the game of their writers and of the tribunes.--All this they have done in order to reconcile the minds of the few thinking men of the nation to the abolition of the different Orders of the State, and to their National Convention in the form of a chaotic mass of Frenchmen, one and indivisible:

Non bene junctarum discordia femina rerum,

Ubi frigida puegnabant calidis, humentia siccis,

Mollia cum duris, sine pondere habentia pondus.

Their reasonings would be just, and their proofs from history would be convincing, if their premises were true; if the British Parliament were really an assembly of three Orders, either personally, or by representation, deliberating apart, each having a veto on the decisions of the other two. And I apprehend that most of my countrymen, who have not had occasion to canvass the subject with much attention, suppose this to be really the British Constitution: for, in the ordinary table conversations on the subject, they seldom go farther, and talk with great complacence of the balance of hostile powers, of the King as the umpire of differences, and of the peace and prosperity that results from the whole.

But I cannot help thinking that this is a misconception, almost in every circumstance. I do not know any opposite interests in the State, except the general one of the governor and the governed, the king and the subject.--If there is an umpire in our constitution, it is the House of Lords--but this is not as a representation of the persons of birth, but as a court of hereditary magistrates: the Peers do not meet to defend their own privileges as citizens, but either as the counsellors of the King, or as judges in the last resort. The privileges for which we see them sometimes contend, are not the privileges of the high-born, of the great vassals of the Crown, but the privileges of the House of Lords, of the supreme Court of Judicature, or of the King's Council. In all the nations on the Continent, the different Orders, as they are called, of the State, are corporations, bodies politic, which have jurisdiction within themselves, and rights which they can maintain at their own hand, and privileges which mark them most distinctly, and produce such a complete separation between the different Orders, that they can no more mix than oil and water. Yet the great president Montesquieu says, that the Peerage of England is a body of Nobility; and he uses the term body in the strict sense now mentioned, as synonomous to corporation. He has repeatedly used this term to denote the second order of Frenchmen, persons of noble birth, or ennobled (that is, vested in the privileges and distinctions of the nobly born) united by law, and having authority to maintain their privileges. The history of France, nay of our own country, shows us that this body may enjoy all its distinctions of nobility, and that the Great Barons may enjoy the prerogatives of their baronies, although the authority of the Crown is almost annihilated.--We have no cogent reason, therefore, for thinking that they will be constantly careful to support the authority of the Crown; and much less to believe that they will, at the same time, watch over the liberties of the people. In the election of their representatives (for the whole body of the gentlemen must appear by representation) we must not expect that they will select such of their own number as will take care of those two essential objects of our constitution.--Equally jealous of the authority of the Crown and of the encroachments of all those who are not gentlemen, and even fearful of the assumptions of the great Barons, the powerful individuals of their own order, they will always choose such representatives as will defend their own rights in the first place. Such persons are by no means fit for maintaining the proper authority of the Crown, and keeping the representatives of the lower classes within proper bounds.

But this is not the nature of our House of Lords in the present day. It was so formerly in a great measure, and had the same effects as in other countries. But since the Revolution, the Peers of Great Britain have no important privileges which relate merely or chiefly to birth. These all refer to their functions as Magistrates of the supreme Court. The King can, at any time, place in this House any eminent person whom he thinks worthy of the office of hereditary magistrate. The Peers are noble--that is, remarkable, illustrious; but are not necessarily, nor in every instance, persons of high birth. This House therefore is not, in any sort, the representative of what is called in France the Noblesse--a particular cast of the nation;--nor is it a junction of the proprietors of the great fees of the Crown, as such;--for many, very many, of the greatest baronies are in the hands of those we call Commoners.--They sit as the King's Councellors, or as Judges.--Therefore the members of our Upper House are not swayed by the prejudices of any class of the citizens. They are hereditary magistrates, created by the Sovereign, for his council, to defend his prerogatives, to hold the balance between the throne and the people. The greatest part of the Nobility (in the continental sense of the word) are not called into this House, but they may be members of the Lower House, which we call the Commons; nay the sons and the brothers of the Peers are in the same situation. The Peers therefore cannot be hostile or indifferent to the liberty, the rights, or the happiness of the Commons, without being the enemies of their own families.

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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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