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.
As evidence that this was not only their instructions, but also their assiduous practice, take the following report from the overseer of Greece (Bavaria.)
Such were the lesser mysteries of the llluminati. 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.)
The second degree, or REX, teaches,
The author says further, that the German Union was, to his certain knowledge, the work of the llluminati.
I have picked up the names of the following members.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 llluminati, 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.
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.
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,
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.
The pupils are convinced that the Order will rule the world. Every member therefore becomes a ruler.” We all think ourselves qualified to rule. The difficult task is to obey with propriety; but we are honestly generous in our prospects of future command. It is therefore an alluring thought, both to good and bad men.
By this lure the Order will spread. If they are active in insinuating their members into offices, and in keeping out others (which the private correspondence shows to have been the case) they may have had frequent experience of their success in gaining an influence on the world. This must whet their zeal. If Weishaupt was a sincere Cosmopolite, he had the pleasure of seeing “his work prospering in his hands.”
The whole conduct in the preparation and instruction of the Presbyter and Regens is directed to this point. Philo says,
We need not wonder that Diomedes told
the Professors, “that death, inevitable death, from which no
potentate could protect them, awaited every traitor of the Order;”
nor that the French Convention proposed to take off the German
When he could not persuade them by his own firmness, and indeed by his superior wisdom and disinterestedness in other respects, and his unwearied activity, he employed Jesuitical tricks, causing them to fall out with each other, setting them as spies on each other, and separating any two that he saw attached to each other, by making the one a Master of the other; and, in short, he left nothing undone that could secure his uncontrouled command.
This caused Philo to quit the Order, and made Bassus, Von Torring, Kreitmaier, and several other gentlemen, cease attending the meetings; and it was their mutual dissentions which made them speak too freely in public, and call on themselves so much notice. At the time of the discovery, the party of Weishaupt consisted chiefly of very mean people, devoted to him, and willing to execute his orders, that by being his servants, they might have the pleasure of commanding others.
All their professions of the love of mankind are vain; nay, their Illumination must be a bewildering blaze, and totally ineffectual for its purpose, for it has had no such influence on the leaders of the band; yet it seems quite adequate to the effects it has produced; for such are the characters of those who forget God.
Therefore, to give this Order any dependence on Free Masonry, is to degrade the Order. To introduce a Masonic Ritual into a manly institution is to degrade it to a frivolous amusement for great children. Men really exerting themselves to reform the world, and qualified for the task, must have been disgusted with such occupations. They betray a frivolous conception of the talk in which they are really engaged.
To imagine that men engaged in the struggle and rivalship of life, under the influence of selfish, or mean, or impetuous passions, are to be wheedled into candid sentiments, or a generous conduct, as a froward child may sometimes be made gentle and tractable by a rattle or a humming-top, betrays a great ignorance of human nature, and an arrogant self-conceit in those who can imagine that all but themselves are babies. The further we proceed, the more do we see of this want of wisdom.
The whole procedure of their instruction supposes such a complete surrender of freedom of thought, of common sense, and of common caution, that it seems impossible that it should not have alarmed every sensible mind. This indeed happened before the Order was seven years old. It was wise indeed to keep their Areopagitce out of sight; but who can be so silly as to believe that their unknown superiors were all and always faultless men: But had they been the men they were represented to be - if I have any knowledge of my own heart, or any capacity of drawing just inferences from the conduct of others, I am persuaded that the knowing his superiors would have animated the pupil to exertion, that he might exhibit a pleasing spectacle to such intelligent and worthy judges.
Did not the Stoics profess themselves to be encouraged in the scheme of life, by the thought that the immortal Gods were looking on and passing their judgments on their manner of acting the part assigned them? But what abject spirit will be contented with working, zealously working, for years, after a plan of which he is never to learn the full meaning. In short, the only knowledge that he can perceive is knowledge in its worst form, Cunning.
This must appear in the contrivances by which he will soon find that he is kept in complete subjection. If he is a true and zealous Brother, he has put himself in the power of his Superiors by his rescripts, which they required of him on pretence of their learning his own character, and of his learning how to know the characters of other men. In these rescripts they have got his thoughts on many delicate points, and on the conduct of others.
His Directors may ruin him by betraying him: and this without being seen in it. I should think that wise men would know that none but weak or bad men would subject themselves to such a task. They exclude the good, the manly, the only fit persons for assisting them in their endeavours to inform and to rule the world. Indeed I may say that this exclusion is almost made already by connecting the Order with Free Masonry. Lodges are not the resorts of such men. They may sometimes be found there for an hour’s relaxation.
But these places are the haunts of the young, the thoughtless, the idle, the weak, the vain, or of designing Literati; and accordingly this is the condition of three-fourths of the llluminati whose names are known to the public. I own that the reasons given to the pupil for prescribing these tasks are clever, and well adapted to produce their effect. During the flurry of reception, and the glow of expectation, the danger may not be suspected; but I hardly imagine that it will remain unperceived when the pupil sits down to write his first lesson.
Mason Lodges, however, were the most likely places for finding and enlisting members. Young men, warmed by declamations teeming with the flimsy moral cant of Cosmo-politism, are in the proper frame of mind for this illumination. It now appears also, that the dissentions in Free Masonry must have had great influence in promoting this scheme of Weishaupfs, which was, in many particulars, so unpromising, because it presupposes such a degradation of the mind. But when the schismatics in Masonry disputed with warmth, trifles came to acquire unspeakable importance.
The hankering after wonder was not in the least abated by all the tricks which had been detected, and the impossibility of the wished-for discovery had never been demonstrated to persons prepossessed in its favor. They still chose to believe that the symbols contained some important secret; and happy will be the man who finds it out. The more frivolous the symbols, the more does the heart cling to the mystery; and, to a mind in this anxious state, Weishaupfs proffer was enticing.
He laid before them a scheme which was somewhat feasible, was magnificent, surpassing our conceptions, but at the same time such as permitted us to expatiate on the subject, and even to amplify it at pleasure in our imaginations without absurdity.
Such being the employment, and such the disciples, should we expect the fruits to be very precious? No. The doctrines which were gradually unfolded were such as suited those who continued in the Cursus Academicus. Those who did not, because they did not like them, got a Sta bene; they were not fit for advancements. The numbers however were great; Spartacus boasted of 600 in Bavaria alone in 1783. We don’t know many of them; few of those we know were in the upper ranks of life; and I can see that it required much wheedling, and many letters of long worded German compliments from the proud Spartacus, to win even a young Baron or a Graf just come of age.
Men in an easy situation in life could not brook the employment of a spy, which is base, cowardly, and corrupting, and has in all ages and countries degraded the person who engages in it. Can the person be called wise who thus enslaves himself? Such persons give up the right of private judgment, and rely on their unknown Superiors with the blindest and most abject confidence. For their sakes, and to rivet still faster their own fetters, they engage in the most corrupting of all employments - and for what? - To learn something more of an order, of which every degree explodes the doctrine of a former one. Would it have hurt the young llluminatus to have it explained to him all at once?
Would not this fire his mind - when he sees with the same glance the great object, and the fitness of the means for attaining it? Would not the exalted characters of the Superior, so much excelling himself in talents, and virtue, and happiness (otherwise the Order is good for nothing) warm his heart, and fill him with emulation, since he sees in them, that what is so strongly preached to him is an attainable thing? No, no - it is all a trick; he must be kept like a child, amused with rattles, and stars, and ribands - and all the satisfaction he obtains is, like the Masons, the fun of seeing others running the same gauntlet.
The indispensableness of mutual forbearance and obedience, for domestic peace and happiness, forms most of these habits; and the child, under good parents, is kept in a situation that makes virtue easier than vice, and he becomes wise and good without any express study about the matter. But this Illumination plan is darkness over all - it is too artificial - and the topics, from which counsel is to be drawn, cannot be taken from the peculiar views of the Order - for these are yet a secret for the pupil - and must ever be a secret for him while under tuition.
They must therefore be drawn from common sources, and the Order is of no use; all that can naturally be effectuated by this Association is the forming, and assiduously fostering a narrow, Jewish, corporation spirit, totally opposite to the benevolent pretensions of the Order. The pupil can see nothing but this, that there is a set of men, whom he does not know, who may acquire incontroulable power, and may perhaps make use of him, but for what purpose, and in what way, he does not know; how can he know that his endeavours are to make man happier, any other way than as he might have known it without having put this collar round his own neck?
What CAN BE MORE IMPROBABLE than this, that He, whom we look up to as the contriver, the maker, and director, of this goodly frame of things, should have so far mistaken his own plans, that this world of rational creatures should have subsisted for thousands of years, before a way could be found out, by which his intention of making men good and happy could be accomplished; and that this method did not occur to the great Artist himself, nor even to the wisest; and happiest, and best men upon earth; but to a few persons at Munich in Bavaria, who had been trying to raise ghosts, to change lead into gold, to tell fortunes, or discover treasures, but had failed in all their attempts; men who had been engaged for years in every whim which characterises a weak, a greedy, or a gloomy mind. Finding all these beyond their reach, they combined their powers, and, at once, found out this infinitely more important SECRET - for secret it must still be, otherwise not only the Deity, but even those philosophers, will still be disappointed.
By this time he must have heard much about superstition, and how mens minds have been dazzled by this splendid picture of a Providence and a moral government of the universe. It now appears incompatible with the great object of the Order, the principles of universal liberty and equality - it is therefore rejected without farther examination, for this reason alone. This was precisely the argument used in France for rejecting revealed religion. It was incompatible with their Rights of Man.
All these he governs, not as the soul of the world, but as the Lord of all; therefore, on account of his government, he is called the Lord God - Pantokrator; for God is a relative term, and refers to subjects. Deity is God’s government, not of his own body, as those think who consider him as the soul of the world, but of his servants. The supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect.
But a being, however perfect, without government, is not God; for we say, my God, your God, the God of Israel. We cannot say my eternal, my infinite. We may have some notions indeed of his attributes, but can have none of his nature. With respect to bodies, we see only shapes and colour - hear only sounds - touch only surfaces. These are attributes of bodies; but of their essence we know nothing. As a blind man can form no notion of colours, we can form none of the manner in which God perceives, and understands, and influences every thing.
But mark the emotions which affected the mind of another excellent observer of Nature, the admirer of Newton, and the person who has put the finishing stroke to the Newtonian philosophy, by showing that the acceleration of the moon’s mean motion, is the genuine result of a gravitation decreasing in the precise duplicate ratio of the distance inversely; I mean Mr. Delaplace, one of the most brilliant ornaments of the French academy of sciences. He has lately published the Systeme du Monde a most beautiful compend of astronomy and of the Newtonian philosophy. Having finished his work with the same observation,
There can be no doubt as to the meaning of these last words - they cannot relate to astrology - this was entirely out of date.
The “attempts to deceive men, in order to insure their happiness,” can only be those by which we are made to think too highly of ourselves.
But where is the force of the argument which entitles this perfecter of the Newtonian philosophy to exult so much? It all rests on this, That this earth is but as a grain of mustard-seed. Man would be more worth attention had he inhabited Jupiter or the Sun. Thus may a Frenchman look down on the noble creatures who inhabit Orolong or Pelew. But whence arises the absurdity of the intellectual inhabitants of this pepper-corn being a proper object of attention? it is because our shallow comprehensions cannot, at the same glance, see an extensive scene, and perceive its most minute detail.
But David gets rid of his fears, not by becoming a philosopher, and discovering all this to be absurd - he would still be forgotten - he at once thinks of what he is - a noble creature - high in the scale of nature.
Here are exalted sentiments, fit for the creature whose ken pierces through the immensity of the visible universe, and who sees his relation to the universe, being nearly allied to its Sovereign, and capable of rising continually in his rank, by cultivating those talents which distinguish and adorn it.
Such persons will consider this Order as degrading and detestable, and as in direct opposition to their most confident expectations: For it pretends to what is impossible, to perfect peace and happiness in this life. They believe, and they feel, that man must be made perfect through sufferings, which shall call into action powers of mind that otherwise would never have unfolded themselves - powers which are frequently sources of the purest and most soothing pleasures, and naturally make us rest our eyes and hopes on that state where every tear shall be wiped away, and where the kind affections shall become the never-failing sources of pure and unfading delight.
Such persons see the palpable absurdity of a preparation which is equally necessary for all, and yet must be confined to the minds of a few, who have the low and indelicate appetite for frivolous play-things, and for gross sensual pleasures. Such minds will turn away from this boasted treat with loathing and abhorrence.
- to those who have enjoyed the pleasures of science, who have been successful - who have made discoveries - who have really illuminated the world - to the Bacons, the Newtons, the Lockes: Allow me to mention one, Daniel Bernoulli, the most elegant mathematician, the only philosopher, and the most worthy man, of that celebrated family.
He said to a gentleman (Dr. Staehling) who repeated it to me, that
If such delightful emotions could be excited by the perception of mere truth, what must they be when each of these truths is an instance of wisdom, and when we recollect, that what we call wisdom in the works of nature, is always the nice adaptation of means for producing beneficent ends; and that each of these affecting qualities is susceptible of degrees which are boundless, and exceed our highest conceptions.
What can this complex emotion or feeling be but rapture? But Bernoulli is a Doctor of Theology - and therefore a suspicious person, perhaps one of the combination hired by despots to enslave us. I will take another man, a gentleman of rank and family, a soldier, who often signalised himself as a naval commander - who at one time forced his way through a powerful fleet of the Venetians with a small squadron, and brought relief to a distressed garrison.
I would desire the reader to peruse the conclusion of Sir Ken helm Digby’s Treatises on Body and Mind; and after having reflected on the state of science at the time this author wrote, let him coolly weigh the incitements to manly conduct which this soldier finds in the differences observed between body and mind; and then let him say, on his conscience, whether they are more feeble than those which he can draw from the eternal sleep of death. If he thinks that they are - he is in the proper frame for initiation into Spartacus’s higher mysteries. He may be either MAGUS or REX.
For he must own, that if this be not the case, there is a most singular exception to a proposition which the whole course of his experience has made him consider as a truth founded on universal induction, viz. that nature accomplishes all her plans, and that every class of beings attains all the improvement of which it is capable. Let him but turn his thoughts inward, he will feel that his intellect is capable of improvement, in comparison with which Newton is but a child. I could pursue this argument very far, and (I think) warm the heart of every man whom I should wish to call my friend.
Conscious of frequent faults, which would offend themselves if committed by their dearest children, they look up to their Maker with anxiety - are sorry for having so far forgotten their duty, and fearful that they may again forget it. Their painful experience tells them that their reason is often too weak, their information too scanty, or its light is obstructed by passion and prejudices, which distort and discolour every thing; or it is unheeded during their attention to present objects.
Happy should they be, if it should please their kind Parent to remind them of their duty from time to time, or to influence their mind in any way that would compensate for their own ignorance, their own weakness, or even their indolence and neglect. They dare not expect such a favor, which their modesty tells them they do not deserve, and which they fear may be unfit to be granted; but when such a comfort is held out to them, with eager hearts they receive it - they bless the kindness that granted it, and the hand that brings it.- Such amiable characters have appeared in all ages, and in all situations of mankind.
They have not in all instances been wise - often have they been precipitate, and have too readily catched at any thing which pretended to give them the so much wished-for assistances; and, unfortunately, there have been enthusiasts, or villains, who have taken advantage of this universal wish of anxious man; and the world has been darkened by cheats, who have misrepresented God to mankind, have filled us with vain terrors, and have then quieted our fears by fines, and sacrifices, and mortifications, and services, which they said made more than amends for all our faults.
Thus was our duty to our neighbour, to our own dignity, and to our Maker and Parent, kept out of sight, and religion no longer came in aid to our sense of right and wrong; but, on the contrary, by these superstitions it opened the doors of heaven to the worthless and the wicked: But I wish not to speak of these men, but of the good, the candid, the MODEST, the HUMBLE who know their failings, who love their duties, but wish to know, to perceive, and to love them still more.
These are they who think and believe that “the Gospel has brought life and immortality to light,” that is, within their reach.
They think it worthy of the Father of mankind, and they receive it with thankful hearts, admiring above all things the simplicity of its morality, comprehended in one sentence, “Do to another what you can reasonably wish that another should do to you,” and THAT PURITY OF THOUGHT AND MANNERS WHICH DISTINGUISHES IT FROM ALL THE SYSTEMS OF MORAL INSTRUCTION THAT HAVE EVER BEEN OFFERED To MEN.
Here they find a ground of resignation under the troubles of life, and a support in the hour of death, quite suited to the diffidence of their character. Such men are ready to grant that the Stoics were persons of noble and exalted minds, and that they had worthy conceptions of the rank of man in the scale of God’s works; but they confess that they themselves do not feel all that support from Stoical principles which man too frequently needs; and they say that they are not singular in their opinions, but that the bulk of mankind are prevented, by their want of heroic fortitude, by their situation, or their want of the opportunities of cultivating their native strength of mind, from ever attaining this hearty submission to the will of Deity. - They maintain, that the Stoics were but a few, a very few, from among many millions -and therefore their being satisfied was but a trifle amidst the general discontent, and fretting, and despair.-
Such men will most certainly start back from this Illumination with horror and fright - from a Society which gives the lie to their fondest hopes, makes a sport of their grounds of hope, and of their deliverer; and which, after laughing at their credulity, bids them shake off all religion whatever, and denies the existence of that Supreme Mind, the pattern of all excellence, who till now had filled their thoughts with admiration and love - from an Order which pretends to free them from spiritual bondage, and then lays on their necks a load ten times more oppressive and intolerable, from which they have no power of ever escaping.
Men of sense and virtue will spurn at such a proposal; and even the profligate, who trade with Deity, must be sensible that they will be better off with their priests, whom they know, and among whom they may make a selection of such as will with patience and gentleness clear up their doubts, calm their fears, and encourage their hopes.
They see, that instead of morality, vice must prevail, and that therefore there is no security for the continuance of this Utopian felicity; and, in the mean time, desolation and misery must lay the world waste during the struggle, and half of those for whom we are striving will be swept from the face of the earth. We have but to look to France, where in eight years there have been more executions and spoilations and distresses of every kind by the pouvoir revolutionnaire, than can be found in the long records of that despotic monarchy.
I would conjure them by the regard they have for their own dignity, and for their rank in society, to join against these enemies of human nature, and profligate degraders of the sex; and I would assure them that the present state of things almost puts it in their power to be the saviours of the world. But if they are remiss, and yield to the seduction, they will fall from that high state to which they have arisen in Christian Europe, and again sink into that insignificancy or slavery in which the sex is found in all ages and countries out of the hearing of Christianity.
Our hut becomes a palace, our blanket a fine dress, and our arts become sciences. This discontent with the natural condition of things, and this disposition to refinement, is a characteristic of our species, and is the great employment of our lives. The direction which this propensity chances to take in any age or nation, marks its character in the most conspicuous and interesting manner. All have it in some degree, and it is very conceivable that, in some, it may constitute the chief object of attention. If this be the case in any nations, it is surely most likely to be so in those where the accommodations of life are the most numerous - therefore in a rich and luxurious nation.
I may surely, without exaggeration or reproach, give that appellation to our own nation at this moment: If you do not go to the very lowest class of people, who must labour all day, is it not the chief object of all to procure perceptible pleasure in one way or another? The sober and busy struggle in the thoughts and hopes of getting the means of enjoying the comforts of life without farther labour - and many have no other object than pleasure.
But if the men are nice and fastidious sensualists, the women will be refined and elegant voluptuaries.
Instead of descanting at large on their powers of mind, and supporting my assertions by the instances of a Hypatia, a Schurman, a Zenobia, an Elisabeth, &c. I may repeat the account given of the sex by a person of uncommon experience, who saw them without disguise, or any motive that could lead them to play a feigned part: Mr. Ledyard, who traversed the greatest part of the world, for the mere indulgence of his taste for observation of human nature; generally in want, and often in extreme misery.
And these are they whom Weishaupt would corrupt! One of these, whom he had embraced with fondness, would he have murdered, to save his honor, and qualify himself to preach virtue! But let us not be too severe on Weishaupt - let us wash ourselves clear of all stain before we think of reprobating him. Are we not guilty in some degree, when we do not cultivate in the women those powers of mind, and those dispositions of heart, which would equally dignify them in every station as in those humble ranks in which Mr. Ledyard most frequently saw them? I cannot think that we do this.
They are not only to %roce the whole of cultivated society, but it is in their faithful and affectionate personal attachment that we are to find the sweetest pleasures that life can give. Yet in all the situations where the manner in which they are treated is not dictated by the stern laws of necessity, are they not trained up for mere amusement - are not serious occupations considered as a task which hurts their loveliness? What is this but selfishness, or as if they had no virtues worth cultivating?
Their business is supposed to be the ornamenting themselves, as if nature did not dictate this to them already, with at least as much force as is necessary. Every thing is prescribed to them because it makes them more lovely - even their moral lessons are enforced by this argument, and Miss Woolstoncroft is perfectly right when she says that the fine lessons given to young women by Fordyce or Rousseau are nothing but selfish and refined voluptuousness.
This advocate of her sex puts her sisters in the proper point of view, when she tells them that they are, like man, the subjects of God’s moral government like man, preparing themselves for boundless improvement in a better state of existence. Had she adhered to this view of the matter, and kept it constantly in sight, her book (which doubtless contains many excellent things, highly deserving of their serious consideration) would have been a most valuable work.
She justly observes, that the virtues of the sex are great and respectable, but that in our mad chase of pleasure, only pleasure, they are little thought of or attended to. Man trusts to his own uncontroutable power, or to the general goodness of the sex, that their virtues will appear when we have occasion for them; - “but we will send for these some other time;”- Many noble displays do they make of the most difficult attainments. Such is the patient bearing up under misfortunes, which has no brilliancy to support it in the effort.
This is more difficult than braving danger in an active and conspicuous situation. How often is a woman left with a family and the shattered remains of a fortune, lost perhaps by dissipation or by indolence - and how seldom, how very seldom, do we see woman shrink from the task, or discharge it with negligence? Is it not therefore folly next to madness, not to be careful of this our greatest blessing - of things which so nearly concern our peace - nor guard ourselves, and these our best companions and friends, from the effects of this fatal Illumination?
It has indeed brought to light what dreadful lengths men will go, when under the fanatical and dazzling glare of happiness in a state of liberty and equality, and spurred on by insatiable luxury, and not held in check by moral feelings and the restraints of religion - and mark, reader, that the women have here also taken the complexion of the men, and have even gone beyond them.
If we have seen a son present himself to the National Assembly of France, professing his satisfaction with the execution of his father three days before, and declaring himself a true citizen, who prefers the nation to all other considerations; we have also seen, on the same day, wives denouncing their husbands, and (0 shocking to human nature!) mothers denouncing their sons, as bad citizens and traitors. Mark too what return the women have met with for all their horrid services, where, to express their sentiments of civism and abhorrence of royalty, they threw away the character of their sex, and bit the amputated limbs of their murdered countrymen.(7)
Surely these patriotic women merited that the rights of their sex should be considered in full council, and they were well entitled to a seat; but there is not a single act of their government in which the sex is considered as having any rights whatever, or that they are things to be cared for.
I make no doubt but that this is a serious matter, encouraged, nay, prompted by government. To keep the minds of the Parisians in the present fever of dissolute gaiety, they are at more expence from the national treasury for the support of the sixty theatres, than all the pensions and honorary offices in Britain, three times told, amount to. Was not their abominable farce in the church of Notre Dame a bait of the same kind, in the true spirit of Weishaupfs Eroterion?
I was pleased to see among the priests of that solemnity Mr. Brigonzi, an old acquaintance, formerty Machiniste (and excellent in his profession) to the opera at the palace in St. Petersburg. He was a most zealous Mason, and Chevalier de I’Orient; and I know that he went to Paris in the same capacity of Machiniste de I’Opera; so that I am next to certain that this is the very man. But what will be the end of all this?
The fondlings of the wealthy will be pampered in all the indulgences which fastidious voluptuousness finds necessary for varying or enhancing its pleasures; but they will either be slighted as toys, or they will be immured; and the companions of the poor will be drudges and slaves.
The Cytherea, the hominum divumque voluptas, at the cathedral of Notre Dame, was also dressed a la Grecque; and in this, and in much of the solemnities of that day, I recognized the taste and invention of my old acquaintance Brigonzi. I recollected the dresses of our premiere & seconde Surveillantes in the Loge de la Fidelite. There is a most evident and characteristic change in the whole system of female dress in France.
The Filles de I’Opera always gave the ton, and were surely withheld by no rigid principle. They sometimes produced very extravagant and fantastic forms, but these were almost always in the style of the highest ornament, and they trusted, for the rest of the impression which they wished to make, to the fascinating expression of elegant movements. This indeed was wonderful, and hardly conceivable by any who have not seen a grand ballet performed by good actors.
I have shed tears of the most sincere and tender sorrow during the exhibition of Antigone, set to music by Traetta, and performed by Madame Meilcour and Sre Torelli, and Zantini. I can easily conceive the impression to be still stronger, though perhaps of another kind, when the former superb dresses are changed for the expressive simplicity of the Grecian. I cannot help thinking that the female ornaments in the rest of Europe, and even among ourselves, have less elegance since we lost the imprimatur of the French court. But see how all this will terminate, when we shall have brought the sex so low, and will not even wait for a Mahometan paradise.
What can we expect but such a dissoluteness of manners, that the endearing ties of relation and family, and mutual confidence within doors, will be slighted, and will cease; and every man must stand up for himself, single and alone, in perfect equality, and full liberty to do whatever his own arm (but that alone) is able to accomplish.
This is not the suggestion of prudish fear, I think it is the natural course of things, and that France is at this moment giving to the world the fullest proof of Weishaupfs sagacity, and the judgment with which he has formed his plans.
The pure Morality of llluminatism is now employed in stripping Italy of all those precious remains of ancient art and voluptuousness; and Paris will ere long be the deposit and the resort of artists from all nations, there to study the works of ancient masters, and to return from thence pandars of public corruption. The plan is masterly, and the low-born Statesmen and Generals of France may in this respect be set on a level with a Colbert or a Conde. But the consequences of this Gallic dominion over the minds of fallen man will be as dreadful as their dominion over their lives and fortunes.
These profligates judged rightly that this affair required much caution, and that the utmost attention to decency, and even delicacy, must be observed their rituals and ceremonies, otherwise they would be disgusted. This was judging fairly of the feelings of a female mind. But they judged falsely, and only according to their own coarse experience, when they attributed their disgust and their fears to coyness. Coyness is indeed the instinctive attribute of the female. In woman it is very great, and it is perhaps the genuine source of the disgust of which the llluminati were suspicious.
But they have been dim-sighted indeed, or very unfortunate in their acquaintance, if they never observed any other source of repugnance in the mind of woman to what is immoral or immodest - if they did not see dislike - moral disapprobation. Do they mean to insinuate, that in that regard which modest women express in all their words and actions, for what every one understands by the terms decency, modesty, filthiness, obscenity, they only show female coyness?
Then are they very blind instructors. But they are not so blind. The account given of the initiation of a young Sister at Frankfort, under the feigned name Psycharion, shows the most scrupulous attention to the moral feelings of the sex; and the confusion and disturbance which it occasioned among the ladies; after all their care, shows, that when they thought all right and delicate, they had been but coarse judges. Minos damns the ladies there, because they are too free, too rich, too republican, and too wise, for being led about by the nose (this is his own expression).
But Philo certainly thought more correctly of the sex in general, when he says, Truth is a modest girl: She may be handed about like a lady, by good sense and good manners, but must not be bullied and driven about like a strumpet. I would give the discourses or addresses which were made on that occasion to the different classes of the assembly, girls, young ladies, wives, young men, and strangers, which are really well composed and pretty, were they not such as would offend my fair countrywomen:
The enraptured devotee pours out her soul in expressions of these feelings, just as a fond mother mixes the caresses given to her child with the most extravagant expressions of love. The devotee even endeavours to excite higher degrees of these affections, by expatiating on such circumstances in the divine conduct with respect to man as naturally awaken them; and he does this without any fear of exceeding; because Infinite Wisdom and Goodness will always justify the sentiment, and free the expression of it from all charge of hyperbole or extravagance.
There is nothing so unlike that general modesty of thought, and that diffidence, which we are disposed to think the character of the female mind. I am inclined to think, that such deviations from the general conduct of the sex are marks of a harsher character, of a heart that has less sensibility, and is on the whole less amiable than that of others; yet it must be owned that there are some such among us.
Much, if not the whole of this perversion, has, I am persuaded, been owing to the contagion of bad example in the men. They are made familiar with such expressions - their first horror is gone, and (would to heaven that I were mistaken!) some of them have already wounded their consciences to such a degree, that they have some reason to wish that religion may be without foundation.
The crown which they now wear will fall from their heads, and they will no longer be the arbiters of what is lovely in human life. The empire of beauty is but short; and even in republican France, it will not be many years that Madame Tali en can fascinate the Parisian Theatre by the exhibition of her charms. Man is fastidious and changeable, and he is stronger than they, and can always take his own will with respect to woman.
At present he is with-held by respect for her moral worth - and many are with-held by religion - and many more are with-held by public laws, which laws were framed at a time when religious truths influenced the minds and the conduct of men. When the sentiments of men change, they will not be so foolish as to keep in force laws which cramp their strongest desires. Then will the rich have their Harems, and the poor their drudges.
There must be a moral connection, in order that the human species may be a race of rational creatures, improveable, not only by the increasing experience of the individual, but also by the heritable experience of the successive generations. It may be observed between the solitary pairs in Labrador, where human nature starves, like the stunted oak in the crevice of a baron rock; and it is seen in the cultivated societies of Europe, where our nature in a series of ages becomes a majestic tree. But, alas! with what differences of boughs and foliage!
Whatever may be the native powers of mind in the poor but gentle Esquimaux, she can do nothing for the species but nurse a young one, who cannot run his race of life without incessant and hard labour to keep soul and body together - here therefore her station in society can hardly have a name, because there can hardly be said that there is an association, except what is necessary for repelling the hostile attacks of Indians, who seem to hunt them without provocation as the dog does the hare.
In other parts of the world, we see that the consideration in which the sex is held; nearly follows the proportions of that aggregate of many different particulars, which we consider as constituting the cultivation of a society.
We may perhaps err, and we probably do err, in our estimation of these degrees, because we are not perfectly acquainted with what is the real excellence of man. But as far as we can judge of it, I believe that my assertion is acknowledged. On this authority, I might presume to say, that it is in Christian Europe that man has attained his highest degree of cultivation - and it is undoubtedly here that the women have attained the highest rank.
I may even add, that it is in that part of Europe where the essential and distinguishing doctrines of Christian morality are most generally acknowledged and attended to by the laws of the country, that woman acts the highest part in general society. But here we must be very careful how we form our notion, either of the society, or of the female rank - it is surely not from the two or three dozens who fill the highest ranks in the state.
Their number is too small, and their situation is too particular, to afford the proper average. Besides, the situation of the individuals of this class in all countries is very much the same - and in all it is very artificial - accordingly their character is fantastical. Nor are we to take it from that class that is the most numerous of all, the lowest class of society, for these are the labouring poor, whose conduct and occupations are so much dictated to them by the hard circumstances of their situation, that scarcely any thing is left to their choice.
The situation of women of this class must be nearly the same in all nations. But this class is still susceptible of some variety - and we see it and I think that even here there is a perceptible superiority of the female rank in those countries where the purest Christianity prevails. We must however take our measures or proportions from a numerous class, but also a class in somewhat of easy circumstances, where moral sentiments call some attention, and persons have some choice in their conduct.
And here, although I cannot pretend to have had many opportunities of observation, yet I have had some. I can venture to say that it is not in Russia, nor in Spain, that woman is, on the whole, the most important as a member of the community. I would say, that in Britain her important rights are more generally respected than any where else. No where is a man’s character so much hurt by infidelity - no where is it so difficult to rub off the stigma of bastardy, or to procure a decent reception or society for an improper connection; and I believe it will readily be granted, that their share in successions, their authority in all matters of domestic trust, and even their opinions in what concerns life and manners, are fully more respected here than in any country.
But of woman as the equal of man, as a moral companion, travelling with him the road to felicity - as his adviser - his solace in misfortune - as a pattern from which he may sometimes copy with advantage; - of all this there is hardly a trace. Woman is always mentioned as an object of passion. Chastity, modesty, sober-mindedness, are all considered in relation to this single point; or sometimes as of importance in respect of ceconomy or domestic quiet.
Recollect the famous speech of Metellus Numidicus to the Roman people, when, as Censor, he was recommending marriage.
What does Ovid, the great panegyrist of the sex, say for his beloved daughter, whom he had praised for her attractions in various places of his Tristia and other compositions? He is writing her Epitaph - and the only thing he can say of her as a rational creature is, that she is - Domifida - not a Gadabout. - Search Apuleius, where you will find many female characters in abstracto - You will find that his little Photis was nearest to his heart, after all his philosophy.
Nay, in his pretty story of Cupid and Psyche, which the very wise will tell you is a fine lesson of moral philosophy, and a representation of the operations of the intellectual and moral faculties of the human soul, a story which gave him the finest opportunity, nay, almost made it necessary for him, to insert whatever can ornament the female character; what is his Psyche but a beautiful, fond, and silly girl; and what are the whole fruits of any acquaintance with the sex? - Pleasure.
But why take more pains in the search? - Look at their immortal goddesses - is there one among them whom a wise man would select for a wife or a friend? - I grant that a Lucretia is praised -a Portia, an Arria, a Zenobia - but these are individual characters - not representatives of the sex. The only Grecian ladies who made a figure by intellectual talents, were your Aspasias, Sapphos, Phrynes, and other nymphs of this cast, who had emerged from the general insignificance of the sex, by throwing away what we are accustomed to call its greatest ornament.
The magistrates of Antioch, the most voluptuous and corrupted city of the East, wrote to the Emperor, telling him that this book had reformed the ladies of their city, where Jutian the Emperor and his Sophists had formerly preached in vain, and they therefore prayed that the good Bishop might not be deprived of his mitre: It is true, we read of Hypatia, daughter of Theon, the mathematician at Alexandria, who was a prodigy of excellence, and taught philosophy, i.e. the art of leading a good and happy life, with great applause in the famous Alexandrian school: But she also was in the times of Christianity, and was the intimate friend of Syncellus and other Christian Bishops.
This is really moral painting, without any abatement of female charms.
These were generally founded by such enthusiasts - the rulers indeed of the church encouraged this to the utmost, as the best levy for the spiritual power - but they could not enjoin such foundations. From the same source we may derive the chief influence of auricular confession. When these were firmly established, and were venerated, almost all the other corruptions of Christianity followed of course.
I may almost add, that though it is here that Christianity has suffered the most violent attacks, it is here that the place is most tenable. - Nothing tends so much to knit all the ties of society as the endearing connections of family, and whatever tends to lessen our veneration for the marriage contract, weakens them in the most effectual manner: Purity of manners is its most effectual support, and pure thoughts are the only sources from which pure manners can flow. I readily grant that this veneration for personal purity was carried to an extravagant height, and that several very ridiculous fancies and customs arose from this.
Romantic love, and chivalry, are strong instances of the strange vagaries of our imagination, when carried along by this enthusiastic admiration of female purity; and so unnatural and forced, that they could only be temporary fashions. But I believe that, with all their ridicule, it would be a happy nation where this was the general creed and practice. Nor can I help thinking a nation on its decline, when the domestic connections cease to be venerated; and the illegitimate offspring of a nabob or a nobleman are received with ease into good company.
Nothing is more clear than that the design of the llluminati was to abolish Christianity - and we now see how effectual this would be for the corruption of the fair sex, a purpose which they eagerly wished to gain, that they might corrupt the men. But if the women would retain the rank they now hold, they will be careful to preserve in full force on their minds this religion so congenial to their dispositions, which nature has made affectionate and kind.
If therefore, instead of professedly tainting what is of itself beautiful, we could really work it up to
and make woman a pattern of perfection, we should undoubtedly add more to the heartfelt happiness of life than by all the discoveries of the llluminati. See what was the effect of Theagenes and Chariclea.