The discourse of reception is to be found also in the secret correspondence (Nachtrag II. Abtheilung, p. 44). But it is needless to insert it here. I have given the substance of this and of all the Cosmo-political declamations already in the panegyric introduction to the account of the process of education. And in Spartacus’s letter, and in Philo’s I have given an abstract of the introduction to the explanation given in this degree of the symbols of Free Masonry. With respect to the explanation itself, it is as slovenly and wretched as can be imagined, and shows that Spartacus trusted to much more operative principles in the human heart for the reception of his nonsense than the dictates of unbiased reason. None but promising subjects were admitted thus far–such as would not boggle; and their principles were already sufficiently apparent to assure him that they would be contented with any thing that made game of religion, and would be diverted by the seriousness which a chance devotee might exhibit during these silly caricatures of Christianity and Free Masonry. But there is considerable address in the way that Spartacus prepares his pupils for having all this mummery shown in its true colours, and overturned.
“Examine, read, think on these symbols. There are many things which one cannot find out without a guide nor even learn without instructions. They require study and zeal. Should you in any future period think that you have conceived a clearer notion of them, that you have found a paved road, declare your discoveries to your Superiors; it is thus that you improve your mind; they expect this of you; they know the true path–but will not point it out–enough if they assist you in every approach to it, and warn you when you recede from it. They have even put things in your way to try your powers of leading yourself through the difficult track of discovery. In this process the weak head finds only child’s play–the initiated finds objects of thought which language cannot express, and the thinking mind finds food for his faculties.” By such forewarnings as these Weishaupt leaves room for any deviation, for any sentiment or opinion of the individual that he may afterwards choose to encourage, and “to whisper in their ear (as he expresses it) many things which he did not find it prudent to insert in a printed compend.”
But all the principles and aim of Spartacus and of his Order are most distinctly seen in the third or Mystery Class. I proceed therefore to give some account of it. By the Table it appears to have two degrees, the Lesser and the Greater Mysteries, each of which have two departments, one relating chiefly to Religion and the other to Politics.
The Priest’s degree contains, 1. An Introduction. 2. Further Accounts of the Reception into this degree. 3. What is called Instruction in the Third Chamber, which the candidate must read over. 4. The Ritual of Reception. 5. Instruction for the First Degree of the Priest’s Class, called Instructio in Scientificis. 6. Account of the Consecration of a Dean, the Superior of this Lower Order of Priests.
The Regent degree contains, 1. Directions to the Provincial concerning the dispensation of this degree. 2. Ritual of Reception. 3. System of Direction for the whole Order. 4. Instruction for the whole Regent degree. 5. Instruction for the Prefects or Local Superiors. 6. Instruction for the Provincials.
The most remarkable thing in the Priest’s degree is the Instruction in the Third Chamber. It is to be found in the private correspondence. (Nachtrage Original Schriften 1787, 2nd Abtheilung, page 44.) There it has the title Discourse to the Illuminati Dirigentes, or Scotch Knights. In the critical history, which is annexed to the Neueste Arbeitung, there is an account given of the reason for this denomination; and notice is taken of some differences between the instructions here contained and that discourse.
This instruction begins with sore complaints of the low condition of the human race; and the causes are deduced from religion and state-government. “Men originally led a patriarchal life, in which every father of a family was the sole lord of his house and his property, while he himself possessed general freedom and . But they suffered themselves to be oppressed–gave themselves up to civil societies, and formed states. Even by this they fell; and this is the fall of man, by which they were thrust into unspeakable misery. To get out of this state, to be freed and born again, there is no other mean than the use of pure Reason, by which a general morality may be established, which will put man in a condition to govern himself, regain his original worth, and dispense with all political supports, and particularly with rulers. This can be done in no other way but by secret associations, which will by degrees, and in silence, possess themselves of the government of the States, and make use of those means for this purpose which the wicked use for attaining their base ends. Princes and Priests are in particular, and kat’ exochen, the wicked, whose hands must tie up by means of these associations, if we cannot root them out altogether.
“Kings are parents. The paternal power ceases with the incapacity of the child; and the father injures his child, if he pretends to retain his right beyond this period. When a nation comes of age, their state of wardship is at an end.”
Here follows a long declamation against patriotism, as a narrow-minded principle when compared with true Cosmo-politism. Nobles are represented as “a race of men that serve not the nation but the Prince, whom a hint from the Sovereign stirs up against the nation, who are retained servants and ministers of despotism, and the mean for oppressing national liberty. Kings are accused of a tacit convention, under the flattering appellation of the balance of power, to keep nations in subjection.
“The mean to regain Reason her rights–to raise liberty from its ashes–to restore to man his original rights–to produce the previous revolution in the mind of man–to obtain an eternal victory over oppressors–and to work the redemption of mankind, is secret schools of wisdom. When the worthy have strengthened their association by numbers, they are secure, and then they begin to become powerful, and terrible to the wicked, of whom many will, for safety, amend themselves–many will come over to our party, and we shall bind the hands of the rest, and finally conquer them. Whoever spreads general illumination augments mutual security; illumination and security make princes ; illumination performs this by creating an effective Morality, and Morality makes a nation of full age fit to govern itself; and since it is not impossible to produce a just Morality, it is possible to regain freedom for the world.”
“We must therefore strengthen our band, and establish a legion, which shall restore the rights of man, original liberty and independence.
“Jesus Christ”–but I am sick of all this. The following questions are put to the candidate:
- “Are our civil conditions in the world the destinations that seem to be the end of our nature, or the purposes for which man was placed on this earth, or are they not? Do states, civil obligations, popular religion, fulfill the intentions of men who established them? Do secret associations promote instruction and true human happiness, or are they the children of necessity, of the multifarious wants, of unnatural conditions, or the inventions of vain and cunning men?”
- “What civil association, what science do you think to the purpose, and what are not?”
- “Has there ever been any other in the world, is there no other more simple condition, and what do you think of it?”
- “Does it appear possible, after having gone through all the nonentities of our civil constitutions, to recover for once our first simplicity, and get back to this honorable uniformity?”
- “How can one begin this noble attempt; by means of open support, by forcible revolution, or by what other way?”
- “Does Christianity give us any hint to this purpose? does it not recognize such a blessed condition as once the lot of man, and as still recoverable?”
- “But is this holy religion the religion that is now professed by any sect on earth, or is it a better?”
- “Can we learn this religion–can the world, as it is, bear the light? Do you think that it would be of service, before numerous obstacles are removed, if we taught men this purified religion, sublime philosophy, and the art of governing themselves? Or would not this hurt, by rousing the interested passions of men habituated to prejudices, who would oppose this as wicked?”
- “May it not be more advisable to do away these corruptions bit by bit, in silence, and for this purpose to propagate these salutary and heart-consoling doctrines in secret?”
- “Do we not perceive traces of such a secret doctrine in the ancient schools of philosophy, in the doctrines and instructions of the Bible, which Christ, the Redeemer and Liberator of the human race, gave to his trusty disciples? Do you not observe an education, proceeding by steps of this kind, handed down to us from his time till the present?”
In the ceremonial of Reception, crowns and sceptres are represented as tokens of human degradation. “The plan of operation, by which our higher degrees act, must work powerfully on the world, and must give another turn to all our present constitutions.”
Many other questions are put to the pupil during his preparation, and his answers are given in writing. Some of these rescripts are to be found in the secret correspondence. Thus, “How far is the position true, that all those means may be used for a good purpose which the wicked have employed for a bad?” And along with this question there is an injunction to take counsel from the opinions and conduct of the learned and worthy out of the society. In one of the answers, the example of a great philosopher and Cosmo-polite is adduced, who betrayed a private correspondence entrusted to him, for the service of freedom; the case was Dr. Franklin’s. In another, the power of the Order was extended to the putting the individual to death; and the reason given, was, that “this power was allowed to all Sovereignties, for the good of the State, and therefore belonged to the Order, which was to govern the world.”–“N. B. We must acquire the direction of education–of church-management–of the professorial chair, and of the pulpit. We must bring our opinions into fashion by every art–spread them among the people by the help of young writers. We must preach the warmest concern for humanity, and make people indifferent to all other relations. We must take care that our writers be well puffed, and that the Reviewers do not depreciate them; therefore we must endeavour by every mean to gain over the Reviewers and Journalists; and we must also try to gain the booksellers, who in time will see that it is their interest to side with us.”
I conclude this account of the degree of Presbyter with remarking, that there were two copies of it employed occasionally.
In one of them all the most offensive things in respect of church and state were left out.
In the Regent degree, the proceedings and instructions are conducted in the same manner. Here, it is said, “We must as much as possible select for this degree persons who are free, independent of all princes; particularly such as have frequently declared themselves discontented with the usual institutions, and their wishes to see a better government established.”
Catching questions are put to the candidate for this degree; such as,
- “Would the Society be objectionable which should (till the greater revolution of nature should be ripe) put monarchs and rulers out of the condition to do harm; which in silence prevents the abuse of power, by surrounding the great with its members, and thus not only prevents their doing mischief, but even makes them do good?”
- “Is not the objection unjust, That such a Society may abuse its power. Do not our rulers frequently abuse their power, though we are silent? This power is not so secure as in the hands of our Members, whom we train up with so much care, and place about princes after mature deliberation and choice. If any government can be harmless which is erected by man, surely it must be ours, which is founded on morality, fore-sight, talents, liberty, and virtue,” &c.
The candidate is presented for reception in the character of a slave; and it is demanded of him what has brought him into this most miserable of all conditions. He answers–Society–the State–Submissiveness–False Religion. A skeleton is pointed out to him, at the feet of which are laid a Crown and a Sword. He is asked, whether that is the skeleton of a King, a Nobleman, or a Beggar? As he cannot decide, the President of the meeting says to him, “the character of being a Man is the only one that is of importance.”
In a long declamation on the hackneyed topics, we have here and there some thoughts which have not yet come before us.
“We must allow the underlings to imagine (but without telling them the truth) that we direct all the Free Mason Lodges, and even all other Orders, and that the greatest monarchs are under our guidance, which indeed is here and there the case.
“There is no way of influencing men so powerfully as by means of the women. These should therefore be our chief study; we should insinuate ourselves into their good opinion, give them hints of emancipation from the tyranny of public opinion, and of standing up for themselves; it will be an immense relief to their enslaved minds to be freed from any one bond of restraint, and it will fire them the more, and cause them to work for us with zeal, without knowing that they do so; for they will only be indulging their own desire of personal admiration.
“We must win the common people in every corner. This will be obtained chiefly by means of the schools, and by open, hearty behaviour, show, condescension, popularity, and toleration of their prejudices, which we shall at leisure root out and dispel.
“If a writer publishes any thing that attracts notice, and is in itself just, but does not accord with our plan, we must endeavour to win him over, or decry him.
“A chief object of our care must be to keep down that slavish veneration for princes which so much disgraces all nations. Even in the soi-disant free England, the silly Monarch says, We are graciously pleased, and the more simple people say, Amen. These men, commonly very weak heads, are only the farther corrupted by this servile flattery. But let us at once give an example of our spirit by our behaviour with Princes; we must avoid all familiarity–never entrust ourselves to them–behave with precision, but with civility, as to other men–speak of them on an equal footing–this will in time teach them that they are by nature men, if they have sense and spirit, and that only by convention they are Lords. We must assiduously collect anecdotes, and the honorable and mean actions, both of the least and the greatest, and when their names occur in any records which are read in our meetings, let them ever be accompanied by these marks of their real worth.