“The great strength of our Order lies in its concealment; let it never appear in any place in its own name, but always covered by another name, and another occupation. None is fitter than the three lower degrees of Free Masonry; the public is accustomed to it, expects little from it, and therefore takes little notice of it. Next to this, the form of a learned or literary society is best suited to our purpose, and had Free Masonry not existed, this cover would have been employed; and it may be much more than a cover, it may be a powerful engine in our hands. By establishing reading societies, and subscription libraries, and taking these under our direction, and supplying them through our labours, we may turn the public mind which way we will.
In like manner we must try to obtain an influence in the military academies (this may be of mighty consequence) the printing-houses, booksellers shops, chapters, and in short in all offices which have any effect, either in forming, or in managing, or even in directing the mind of man: painting and engraving are highly worth our care.” [**]
“Could our Prefect (observe it is to the Illuminati Regentes he is speaking, whose officers are Prefecti) fill the judicatories of a state with our worthy members, he does all that man can do for the Order. It is better than to gain the Prince himself. Princes should never get beyond the Scotch knighthood. They either never prosecute any thing, or they twist every thing to their own advantage.
“A Literary Society is the most proper form for the introduction of our Order into any state where we are yet strangers.” (Mark this!)
“The power of the Order must surely be turned to the advantage of its Members. All must be assisted. They must be preferred to all persons otherwise of equal merit. Money, services, honor, goods, and blood, must be expended for the fully proved Brethren, and the unfortunate must be relieved by the funds of the Society.”
As evidence that this was not only their instructions, but also their assiduous practice, take the following report from the overseer of Greece (Bavaria.)
In Cato’s hand-writing.
“The number (about 600) of Members relates to Bavaria alone.
“In Munich there is a well-constituted meeting of Illuminati Mejores, a meeting of excellent Illuminati Minores, a respectable Grand Lodge, and two Minerval Assemblies. There is a Minerval Assembly at Freyssing, at Landsberg, at Burghausen, at Strasburg, at Ingolstadt, and at last at Regensburg. [**]
“At Munich we have bought a house, and by clever measures have brought things so far, that the citizens take no notice of it, and even speak of us with esteem. We can openly go to the house every day, and carry on the business of the Lodge. This is a great deal for this city. In the house is a good museum of natural history, and apparatus for experiments; also a library which daily increases. The garden is well occupied by botanic specimens, and the whole has the appearance of a society of zealous naturalists.
“We get all the literary journals. We take care, by well-timed pieces, to make the citizens and the Princes a little more noticed for certain little slips. We oppose the monks with all our might, and with great success.
“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.
Upper Saxony (several)
America (several). N. B. This was before 1786.[p. 117]
I have picked up the names of the following members.
Knigge, Freyherr, i.e. Gentleman.
Bode, F. H.
Busche, F. H.
Balderbusch, F. H.
Hoffstetter, Surveyor of Roads.
Socher, School Inspector.
Fischer, Magistrate.[p. 118]
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,
- Grosse Absicht des Illuminaten Ordens.
- ——– Nachtrages (3.) an denselben.
- Weishaupt’s improved System.
- System des Ilium. Ordens aus dem Original-Schriften gezogen.
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.