« AnteriorContinuar »
puted doctrines. “ Christ, during his candidates, and secret signs of recogniministry in Palestine, is brought into tion were used among the members, in contact with all known orders of men, order that the dispensers of the fraternal Scribes and Doctors, Sadducees and charities might know to whom to admi. Pharisees, Herodians and followers of the nister relief, and that travellers, sojourn. Baptist, Roman officers, insolent with ing in strange countries, might discerni authority, tax-gatherers, the Pariahs of their true friends. the land; Galileans, the most under- The origin of Freemasonry is lost in valued of the Jews, Samaritans, hos- the mist of the ages, or rather in the mist tile to the very name of Jew, rich men of words which learned men are apt to clothed in purple, and poor men, fishing throw about that exceedingly remote and for their daily bread; the happy, and indefinite period of time. Some trace those that sat in darkness, wedding par- it to the Collegia fabrorum of Rome, ties and funeral parties, solitaries among and others to King Solomon, while hills or sea-shores, and multitudes that Captain George Smith, of the Royal Arcould not be counted; mighty cities, and tillery at Woolwich, cuts the question hamlets the most obscure; golden san- short (or long rather) by making it hedrims, and the glorious temple, where coëval with the creation of the globe. he spoke to myriads of the worshippers, “When the Sovereign,” says he, “raisand lone corners, where he stood in con- ed on Masonic principles the beauteous ference with a single, contrite heart.” globe”* &c., &c. But, as a society, the Yet, under none of these circumstances, Masons first attracted attention, during do we hear of any interview betweer. the Middle Ages, when the trades began him and the Essenes. They are men- to be incorporated, as the corporation of tioned by none of his biographers; their the Architects, because they were conname does not occur in the Acts of the cerned in the structure of those grand Apostles ; St. Peter, St. James, and St. religious edifices, which have come down Paul, never allude to them; and the to us under the name of Cathedrals, at Apocalypse of St. John is equally silent. first, assumed a leading and conspicuAgain, as the same writer is at pains to ous position. Confining their mysteries indicate, there was a singular resem- to the secrets of the craft, they were afblance between both the doctrine of the terwards extended to scientific princiEssenes and those of the earlier Chris- ples, as their religious tenets. Protected tians, and their practical, moral, as well by charters from the clerical and secular as religious observances. Their hospi- powers, and composed of members setality, their antelucan worship, their lected out of all the nations of Europe, aversion to marriage, their scrupulosity they grew into great power, and dropas to oaths, their faithfulness to friends, ping their technical character, came at and love of peace, their contempt of pain last to be mere social and charitable soand death, their white robes, their meals, cieties, having for their motto, "Brothertheir silence and gravity, and, above all, ly Love, Relief and Truth,” and intertheir lofty and spiritual religious princi- esting themselves in the establishment of ples, seem but mere echoes of the primi- schools, the extension of hospitality, and tive economy of the Christians, as it is the practice of a pure morality. The declared to us in the Apostolical consti- conversion of the world to the princitutions. But, whether the Essenes were ples of social equality and freedom has Christians or not, we have every reason always been imputed to them as a main to infer that the Christians were, at first, design of their organization, by the desa secret society, or, at least, that they pots in Church or State, who have from cherished a secret discipline and doctrine, time to time anathematized or persecutwhich only the initiated were allowed to ed them. know. Neander and Mosheim, for cer- Whether this comprehensive scheme tain reasons, pass lightly over the fact, was cherished by the Free-Masons or which is abundantly established by Pagan not, it was confessedly an object with and Christian authorities. Their rites the secret order of the Illuminati, which were celebrated in secret, and guarded arose in Germany previous to the French from profane eyes with jealous vigilance, Revolution, and which, as revived by a peculiar costume of the order was cus- that arch-quack and mystagogue, Count tomary, on certain solemn occasions, as Cagliostro, had, according to Louis Blanc, when baptism was administered to the a great deal to do with the preparation
• Use and Abuse of Free Masonry. London, 1783.
of that event. Founded in 1776, by lightenment in the new light sprang up, Adarn Weishaupt, a professor of law when the order was formally suppressed, at Ingoldstadt, it soon spread over Eu- amid storms of rage and conflict, by the rope, and sent a shiver through all the King of Bavaria. But Cagliostro took established governments. A student of up its rent and dissevered mantle, and, Pythagoras and the Rosicrucians, Weis- in that wonderful compound of mesmerhaupt's primary object appears to ism, legerdemain, magic, exorcism and have been to organize & movement folly, by which he, as the Grand-Kophta, against the Jesuits, with whom he had (which Goethe has finely ridiculed) bad a long and sore quarrel; but he was humbugged the visionaries and simplenot slow in giving his order & cosmopo- tons of France, restored the order to litan extension. A republican, a moral- more than its pristine glory. The story ist, and a scholar, he sought to extend of the Diamond Necklace, with which republicanism, morality and learning to his impostures were connected, has gone the whole human family. In order to to the ends of the earth, but his own do this more effectually, he resorted to end was in the castle of St. Leo, on the the known influences of decorations, Adriatic, where he languished for three symbolic initiations, &c., which impress years in the horrible pits of a dungeon, the popalar imagination and heart. By and then gave up the ghost, in 1795. the sole attraction of mystery, by the We have no space now to speak of single power of association, to submit of the Santa Hermandad of Spain, the to one will, and to animate with the same Carbonari of Italy, the Lomburg brobreath thousands of men in every coun- thers of Denmark, and a score of other try of the globe ; to make entirely new secret institutions which have arisen at beings of these men by a slow and pro- different times and in different coungressive education; to render them obe- tries; and we refer to those we have die:t to madness, to death, to invisible named, only as an illustration of one or and unknown leaders; to weigh secret- two important principles. They show ly, with such a legion upon courts, to that this bent to mysterious brotherenvelop sovereigns, to direct govern- hoods is a permanent phenomenon of meats at their pleasure, and to lead Eu- history, while they help us to exrope to that point, that every superstition plain the causes of their sudden and shou'd be annihilated, every monarchy prodigious success, as well as their abated, every privilege of birth de- inevitable tendency, after a temporary cla:ed unjust, the very right of proper- triumph, to dissolution and decay. A ty abolished, and the equality of the first great many people ascribe their advent christians proclaimed—such was the gi- and sway to mere delusion or trickery; gantie plan of the founder of the Illumi. but they have a deeper foundation in nati. * He appeared, too, at a time most human nature, for which the cunning favorable to the adoption of hidden of the few and the folly of the many, practices. The German mind was agi- that easy solution for troublesome probtared with wonders and novelties. A lems, will not entirely account. In their curate namned Gassner, who exorcised origin, the greater number of these asdevils and cured the sick, by simple for- sociations have been really benevolent, malaries, counted almost a million of ad- and of sincere and earnest purposes. herents. At Leipsic immense crowds A true, bonest sympathy in the cause gathered on the public square to see the of mankind, a chivalric and heroic ghost of the magician Schoffa ; nume- enthusiasm, and profound religious conroas interpretations of the mystic book of victions have often lain at their roots. the Revelations were circulated; and This was the case with the ancient mysthe Queen of Prussia and her women teries, with the Knignt Templars, with themselves maintained that they had the Illuminati
, with the revolutionary seen the White Lady. Thus sensibi- societies of Europe, and with many of lity to the marvellous was widely our own secret charitable societies. And awake; and thus Weishaupt attracted it was this which mainly fastened upon the simple by their hopes and fears, them the regards and attachments of and the great by their love of pow. their followers; for the theory of deluer. Counts, dukes, and noblemen of sion, of imposture, of a wilful trifling all grades became his disciples, and a and hocus pocus which certain minds perfect fanaticism, in the cause of en- consider amply adequate for the clear.
• Louis Blanc's History of the French Revolution.
est explanation of whatever is strange Spalatro's vision; while back of all or surprising in this strange world, we there stands a vast, intangible, dark hold at the cheapest rate. Great and association, woven into a complicated stirring movements—movements which network of affiliated association; having extend over large tracts of space, which its agents everywhere, omniscient as the conquer a species of perplexity as to eye of Cæsar-omnipotent as the hand time, which, if they do not survive in a of Death,—and what a mingled fascina continuous line, still reappear with an tion of terror and power and glory evident constancy, diving down like a steals into our thoughts. Connect the duck in one age (because the sports- idea of benevolence with it, or the man's shot-gun, perhaps, is levelled that watch and ward of some high truth, way), to come up in another, do not and the secret spell becomes a grand argue a universal and undying gullibi- enchantinent. It recalls those imposing lity in our race, but deeper principles oriental fables of subterraneous spirits at work, and striving to get acceptance. who guard the sacred treasure beneath
The specific causes of the phenomena the root of the sea ; or we think of the we are considering are several, and mystic virgine, who, in the depths of among the first, the inherent and irre- caves, muffled from
human sight, pressible love of our poor human na- shelter the flame of life; or flitting ture for mystery itself—mystery which images of the everlasting wanderer, who is consubstantiate, if we may so express bears from generation to generation, & it, with the infinite depth and yearnings knowledge of the sorrows and woes of of our souls. We, all of us, feel at his race, of which he must not wholly times, with Thomas Brown, as if there unburden his breast, impart a kind of were not miracles enough in the uni- supernatural sublimity, or at least an verse to fill our boundless capacity for apparitional and portentous greatness to faith. But, without entering in these the conception. profounder regions, do we not know The symbolism of these societies—the that a simple secret, shared between one impressive rites and ceremonies—the or two persons, is a bond of union and brilliant decorations—the dignities and amity, and a source of peculiar enthu- orders—is a second cause of the powersiasm When the heart of the young ful appeal which they make to human man has spoken the word, brooded over nature. Our ordinary life, save under in silence so long with tremendous al- certain exceptional circumstances, is ternations of fear and hopes, to the prosaic, but our souls are full of poetry, heart of the maiden, does not the world and glad to escape from its dryness and take on another hue, and fill up with an monotony. We tire of the arid deserts unwonted glory! What sweet and over which, with our halting caravans blessed radiance hovers over the secret and heavy merchandise, we pass wearily, nuptial couch, which one glimmer of and we run like children towards any the day, one prying eye, or one listening verdurous plain, or purling brook, though ear, would wither and dash into dark- it prove only a fata morgana. Our souls
Speech, says the German pro- feel themselves regal, while our environverb, is silvern, but silence is golden. ments are squalid and beggarly. Lying “Becs will not work, except in dark- in mangers--swaddled in rags—toiling ness," says Carlyle; “ thought will not as the ox or the ass never toiled-exwork except in silence; neither will hausted, overtasked, feeding on husksvirtue work except in secresy.” It is with a curtain of drab drawn across the not, however, secresy itself, so much as glories of the landscape and the sunrise, a communion of secresy which weaves we are yet conscious natives of palaces the charm. Let the silence and secresy -at home amid flowers, and wine, and relate not to a few but to a multitude, music, and dresses studded with gems, let it span the earth with its unseen and a high and stately intercourse, and a mystio ties, let it trace itself back to life whose appliances are splendor, and hoar and venerable antiquity, and look whose motions are graces and harmonies. forwards to the far visionary future, Even the simulation or mere appearance linking the two together by awful of these is seductive. Whatever recalls truths which dare not be avowed, and to us a sense of our true destiny-whatyet must be propagated, communicating ever represents it to our imaginations, in the broadest daylight by unseen though intrinsically puerile and flatulent telegraphs, and stretching out in the -high-sounding titles - regalia -- the gloom of night a bloody hand as in pomp of ceremonies-banners, ornements—is welcome in the absence of the under the pale light of stars, must bury reality. “Not one logical, mensurative their papers in tombs, and send their faculty," exclaims Teufelsdrockh, “but dispatches through the air—and gather our imaginative one is king over as; adherents by conspiracy-or undermine priest and prophet to lead us heaven- and elude, and ferret, and circumvent. ward, or magician and wizard to lead us “Echo must not babble of their whereahell-ward.” The State and the Church bouts,”—nor the lightest footfall betray have long known this, and addressed them to sudden death. Argus, with his themselves to its nice application. By hundred eyes, hovers around them, while the brilliancy of courts, heraldic coats Briareus, with his hundred hands, is of arms, military ensigrs, the insignia of eager to seize them. All the dread maoffice, baldricks and caparisons, buttons chinery of government, all the selfish and decorations, and the magnificence of instincts of power, are their enemies. rites, they have wielded the minds, by Ah! what a story of hair-breadth esfirst dazzling the imaginations of men. capes and adventures of heroic daring, Consider an army without its gay trap- and subtle sagacity-of impossible compings and uniforms, its standards and munications across barriers and cordons parades—its pomp and glorious circum- finally achieved—insuperable obstacles stance! Consider Catholicism without overcome--secrets of cabinets wrong its robes and cassocks, and painted win- from their inmost archives-espionage dows, and gilded altars, and waving in- submitted to a keener espionage and cense, and the daily miracle of the host ! made to witness unwittingly of facts
Secret societies, in the third place, are whose discovery became its despair. often a necessary resort under the lynx. What a story of such things could Koseyed and powerful despotisms, which lie suth and Mazzini tell, if policy permitin wait for the appearance of new truth. ted them to unseal their lips, and declare Vore, perhaps, than any other cause, has the solicitudes and shifts by which the this one led to the formation of hidden spark of republican freedom has been agencies for the defence and nurture of kept alive and carried over Europe! cherished doctrines and hopes. It is "Take the young child, and go into well said by Confucius, that when light Egypt,” is a command addressed to all came into the world, a thousand spirits who bear with thein a precious deposit of darkness stand ready to seize upon of truth. her, and strangle her in her birth. The last cause to be mentioned of the Every new truth, especially if it be im- prevailing disposition to fly into secret portant trath, which menaces old estab- organizations, is one that has not been lishments, or rebukes ancient manners sufficiently dwelt upon by those who and opinions, has to fight its way inch have thought or written of the subject. by inch to general acceptance. Con- We mean the obvious inability of exsaming fires of persecution are kindled isting society to meet the wants of the round it—legions of stipendiaries hang human soul. The actual relations of over it with their swords-popular ma- men to each other, are almost univer lignity watches it with jealous care-or sally felt as a burden, if not a curse. mitred priests and crowned kings let The struggles they engender, the long loose their ubiquitous police of spies and and painful warfare against poverty spearmen to dog its track, and arrest, or and disease, the meanness, the falsethwart, or crush out its life. It was for hood, the competition, the cut-throat this reason that the early Christians conditions of success, the smallness of guarded so zealously the admissions to the recompense when you do succeed, the small number of their disciples, the exaggerated importance given to the that they celebrated their worship in mere physical life, and the low estimate cares and catacombs, and stole furtively put on all kinds of spiritual greatness, frum land to land, like outcasts hunted the anarchy of opinion in politics, philoby dogs, or guilty wretches flying from sophy, and religion, the hollowness of the presence of their fellows. And it is church worship, " the oppressor's wrong, for this reason, that the aspiring minds the proud man's contumely;" in short, of Earope, who would cast from the & thousand flagrant departures from our backs of the people the heavy weight conceptions of what is just and true, of wrong, which centuries of royal and force us to take refuge, not as Hamlet priestly oppression have heaped upon contemplated in the undiscovered counthern, must machinate in secret, must try," but in associations which promise more in the shadow of the woods, or an escape and relief. The harmonies of life and intercourse which we seek in pressed in words, the very name of vain, amid the jeers and discords of our their ceremonies, orgia, now signifying inere business societies, we hope to whatever is detestable and repulsive in find in the narrower but more sympa- human indulgence. The schools of thetic circle of the special brotherhoods. Pythagoras, in Greece, at last excited “Around us,” we say to ourselves, "all an indignant insurrection of the people. is hard, cold, formal, distant, and un- The secret discipline of the early church, ideal-a social Nova Zembla, where the as its initiatury rites, have grown into heart is benumbed by the universal the “reserve" and the mummeries of wintry air, and the better thoughts fall Romanism. The Knights Templars, back like buds suddenly smitten by the who projected the political unity of frosts. Let us solace ourselves in some Europe, ended as a grasping and avariselect and worthy fraternity, composed cious sect. The Freemasons have never of the finer spirits of the race, and recovered the abduction of Morgan, and living not in its selfish propensities, but if we may believe De Quincey, their according to a noble ideal of the heart. principal secret now is, the imposing Let us sail away from this rude, coarse,
style in which the Right Worshipful over-crowded continent, to some plea- Grand Master causes the trembling neosant little isle, in the golden tropics, phyte to “fork over" his two guineas where the day, so long as it lasts, shall for a general supply of brandy and be a summer day, and the nights shall water. In a word, our humanity will be filled with moonlight and syren not be cheated ; it will not permit any serenades. There, in the depths of our of its representatives to seclude themretreat, while the perfumed breezes blow selves with impunity from the general gently over our cheeks, with hands mass; even in its own apparent intergrasped in warm fellow hands, let us ests; for when they make the attempt, bow down and invoke that ideal of a it either withholds from them the true society, which is grander than sources of life, allowing them to dwinChristianity, and as fair as the sweet com- dle and mortify like a limb cut from the panies of heaven. Let us gradually pre- parent body, or it stimulates the jeapare men for their future—for the equali- lousy of its fellows into internecine ty, the liberty, and the glory which is hatred. their right—by a secret regeneration We have made a long preamble, in which shall gradually extend over the what has been said, to a few words whole of humanity." Thus, contempla- which we have to utter about the KNOW tive, ardent, ambitious, and sympathetic NOTHINGS—but it was necessary to & minds, are alike drawn froin the imme- proper understanding of the subject. It diate duties of life into partial and seems to us that the society which bapgenerally impractical schemes of secret tises its members as ignoramuses, and reform, and thus organizations are re- which has made such strange havoc of cruited which come in time to be the late among the political parties, is, in most formidable instruments in the re- some sort, a lineal descendant of the sesistance to the furtherance of the grander cret societies gone before..) It has originmovements of society.
ated in many of the same causes, and Strong, however, as the impelling will, in all probability, share the same motives of these associations are, the fate. Whether its objects are as digniforces of cohesion which bring them fied or liberal as some of theirs have together and the outside pressures which been, we cannot say, because in respect keep them so, they are intrinsically to those objects it is literally nescient. exposed to one or the other of two It refuses to declare its purposes, save as fatalities. They corrupt inwardly, or they may be learned from its acts, which they provoke outward hostilities which fall, ever and anon, like claps of thunder become their ruin. No matter how upon a startled world. But it is quite pure their original intentions, they universa'ly believed that its aim is to sooner or later degenerate; or, if they establish a strict Americanism in the 10 not degenerate, they get to be so public lite of this country; and, in order powerful that society, by an instinct of to accomplish that end, to exclude all self-preservation, rises against their life. foreigners, especially Roman Catholics, The ancient mysteries were undoubtedly from the pursuit of office at the outset purely religious obser- If this be so, we feel bound to say, vances, but they became the scenes of that its doctrine, as well as its disciplice, a licentiousness which cannot be ex- is objectionable, and that neither Demo