Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

cessary to begin by being wise, but by being humble and virtuous. He disclaims all connection with that false philosophy, the detestable principles of which will so long be felt in France; classes Pythagoras, Plato, Pherecydes and Socrates among inspired persons; Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, Bacon, Leibnitz and Henry More among Theosophes, and the Oupneckh’at and Mahabarat among theosophical writings. Here the madness appears ; in reality St. Martin was a madman of Jacob Behmen's stamp, and like Behmen he found persons who admitted the obscurity of his language as proof of the depth of his meaning. • Though the light,' said he,

be made for all eyes, it is still more certain that all eyes are not made to behold it in its brightness; and the small number of those who are the depositaries of the truths which I announce are bound to prudence and discretion by the strictest engagements.

Therefore I have allowed myself to use great reserve in this country, and oftentimes to cover myself with a veil, through which even eyes that are not ordinary ones cannot always pierce, especially as I speak sometimes of something altogether different from that of which I seem to be treating. This affectation of mystery may not unlikely have given rise to the charge against him of secret revolutionary designs. But he was not an irreligious man;

the

very work wherein this passage was contained was written under an impulse of indignation against Boulanger, who, reviving with a worse spirit the errors of the ancient atheists, affirmed that all religions had no other origin than in the terror occasioned by great natural convulsions. M. Gregoire admits that some sáne views, some luminous ideas, are to be found among the extravagances of St. Martin; and that if they were judiciously selected they might form a small volume worthy of being favourably received. This Theosophe was too poor, too religious, and too insane to have any share in establishing the seminary of revolutionists at Avignon : but it is very probable that some of his disciples may have been connected with it; for this sort of theosophy easily coalesces with the wildest revolutionary opinions. One of the most curious compounds of insanity and genius in our language is a poem entitled · The Hurricane, a Theosophical and Western Eclogue;' and the author says of himself in the notes, that he is the only being in the world who goes through every inch and every league of the French Revolution.

The society at Avignon, according to M. Gregoire, was founded by Grabianca, a Polish Starost, and the Benedictine Dom Pernetty, well known by his various publications. It is to be regretted that a man who accompanied Bougainville to the Falkland islands, who was at the same time abbot of Burgel, and librarian to the King of Prussia, and who was one of the founders of so

C3

strange

[ocr errors]

strange an institution, should not have written his own life, 80 curi. ously unlike that to which, by bis profession, he had devoted himself. He is represented here neither as Theosophe nor Philosophe, but as a heretic who taught the divinity of the Virgin Mary, making her co-eternal with the Son: it is added that his followers were Mile lenarians, and that they were accused of admitting a community of women. The clandestine nature of their meetiugs, M. Gregoire says, favoured such an imputation, but by no means proved it. In all this, except in the expectation of the inillennium, there is nothing to accord with what is known of the Avignon society.

Neither Barruel nor M. Gregoire appears to have seen the accounts of the society published in England by John Wright and William Bryan,* at the time when the delusion concerning Richard Brothers was prevailing. Both these men were in humble life, the one a carpenter, the other a copper-plate printer; both were poor and needy; and both were induced, in the year 1789, to leave their wives and families, and set out for Avignon, being moved by the Spirit to join a society there, who were favoured with divine conmunications. Bryan had heard of this society from a certain Major Tieman, a Russian, whom he had seen in London two years before; and he had a friend at Paris who was also connected with this mysterious association. They set off from London with only four guineas; which barely carried them to Paris; there their friend supplied them with seven louis, and told them that the society were expecting two brethren to unite with them. Upon reaching Avignon they found the Russian Major there, and the society expecting them. Nothing,' says Bryan; could exceed the brotherly kindness shown by these men, who told us we were wel-, come to the house provided by the Lord for those of his children whom he might be pleased to send to the re-union from all parts of the earth. They said whatever was there, was ours as much as theirs; they had not any thing they called their own; the Lord had done away the distinction of mine and thine in their minds.' The

These pamphlets, which, owing to the perishable form in which they appeared, and the class of persons among whom they circulated, are now exceedingly rare, are thus entitled, ' A revealed knowledge of some things that will speedily be fulfilled in the World, communicated to a number of Christians brought together at Avignon, by the Power of the Spirit of God, from all Nations. Now published by his Divine Čommand for the good of all Men. By John Wright, his servant, and one of the Brethren. 1794.'

A Testimony of the Spirit of Truth concerning Richard Brothers, the man appointed of God to govern the Hebrews; the Elijah promised by the Lord in these last days to come and restore all things; dignified with the title of his King, who will be exalted to the Throne of David in Mount Zion, in Jerusalem. In an Address to the People of Israel, &c. to the Gentiles called Christians, and all other Gentiles. With some Account of the manner of the Lord's gracious dealing with bis servant William Bryan, one of the Brothers of the Avignon Society; and by Revelation from God declared to be a Jew of the Tribe of Judah. 1793,

Russian

Russian was their interpreter and instructor for a few days, till their friend arrived from Paris. They remained there seven months employed in reading and making extracts from the journals of the Society, by which they were informed of the many changes taking place, and to take place, in the nations of the earth, to prepare the way of the Lord's second coming, and the restoration of his people, the whole house of Israel, according to the prophecies in the Scriptures. And when they departed, they were so liberally supplied with money for their expenses, that they landed in England with ten louis each.

The grossest artifices were practised upon these simple men during their stay. Wright says, ' very often when we have been sitting together, the furniture in the room has been shook, as though it was all coming to pieces; and upon inquiring what was the cause, we were told that it announced the presence of angels; and when these were not heard, the brethren were always afraid that something was amiss, and so inquired at the Word of the Lord:' for these impious intriguers pretended to have a direct intercourse with the Word, and at any time to obtain divine answers to the questions which they proposed. The Englishmen were one day shown the Archangel Raphael—in the appearance of a poor traveller. Wbat the Society aimed at may be gathered from what Wright published as having been faithfully copied from their journals. It is throughout of the same tenour as the ensuing specimens.

• Remember that the face of the world will be changed, and you shall see it restored to its first state. The thrones shall be overturned ; the earth shall be furrowed, and change its aspect. Those who shall be alive at that time will envy the fate of the dead.

* You will learn very soon that a part of the world is in confusion ; that the chiefs of nations are armed one against another. The earth will be overflowed with blood; you will hear of the death of several sovereigns. They give themselves up to luxury, they live in pleasures ; but at last one of them will fall and make an unhappy end.

• Palestine will become again the most fortunate country on the earth. It shall be the centre of that faith of which it was the cradle ; and from thence faith will spread itself all over the earth. The world will become again what it was in the beginning. The enlightened Jews will embrace the Catholic faith. All people will acknowledge one God, the only true God. They will be guided by one only pastor, and governed by one sole master.

.. This is the time that we must believe all those who announce the new reign of the Lord, for his spirit is with them.

• In the day of vengeance, when God will have cursed the impious, he will place the fire of his anger at the four corners of the earth, and the winds of the heavens will blow to burn up its inhabitants.

• The Eternal has spoken, I shall simplify all things for the happi

ness

ness of

[ocr errors]

my elect. The moment is at hand, when the confusion of languages shall no more be an obstacle to the knowledge of the truth.'

A question was proposed, Whether the dislike which one of the Englishmen felt to join with any community in their forms of worship, was from Heaven or not? The answer was-Come, come, saith the EternaL WORD, O all you whom I call, come to me into the retreat, and you shall there find the calm and the rest, which

my

love reserves for the elect who hearken unto me. Tell him, well-beloved son, yea. The voice which drew thee from the tumults and contentions which divide thy own country, on the bore; ders where thou dwellest, will in silence dispose thy spirit for the truth: and wisdom will enter into thy heart, and its virtue penetrate, thy soul to spread it to the eyes of the universe, when the WORD, surrounded with glory, before long shall come, dissipating error, to tread under foot vice and falsehood. Hearken, understand. It was I who inspired thee when thou madest thy question; it is I who answered thee; and it is by me that thou mayst know what thou wast, and what thou oughtest to be.'

Implicit belief was inculcated upon them in these answers from the oracle, and they were encouraged to labour as missionaries in the cause, by vague promises of happiness and elevation. If the ardour which animates thee,' said the pretended WORD, 'gives at last to thy heart over thy spirit the victory and the empire; if thou. renouncest the desire to discover before the time, the secret of the mysteries which simple reason is not able to conceive, nothing can, my son, convey an obstacle to that happiness which awaits thee. Be-. lieve, believe, my son, every thing that I reveal to our Elect in the name of the Eternal; and the Eternal will make thee of his glory the forerunning instrument in the places, where his clemency wants to pardon those of thy nation whom the enemy seduces by his prestiges.'

The Quakers disowned Bryan for having taken this journey to Avignon, though in so doing, he says, he was in the strictest

. sense obeying their principles, for he was very particularly led by the spirit.' To nien thus prepared, the French Revolution, which was then beginning, seemed to be the commencement of the prodigious changes which they were taught to expect and to announce.

But Richard Brothers happening ere long to excite attention, they supposed that he was the chosen instrument in whom the prophecies were to be fulfilled; and Brothers was of course confirmed in his madness by their stories from Avignon. By his orders, which were delivered in the name of the Lord, Wright published such parts of what he had transcribed at Avignon as Brothers pointed out, the Prince of the Hebrews thinking it proper that others should be suppressed. There is no reason to question the facts of

the

the narrative; and the prophecies, by their French idiom, authenticate themselves. The whole agrees perfectly with what M. Gregoire reports of a collection of papers on the subject, published by P. Pani, a Commissioner of the Inquisition at Rome. The So ciety, it was there said, pretended that it was destined by Heaven to reform the world, by establishing a new people of God. The members were distinguished not by their names, but by figures ; this appears in Wright's extracts. The members were consecrated after a regular form; this also appears by the English accounts, and they pretended to be favoured with dreams, inspirations, and the ministry of angels. He who presided over their cabalistic operations was called their Patriarch, or Pontiff; and there was a king destined to govern the new chosen people. From Wright's extracts it appears that this king, whom they called Charles, was then a child or boy, and that his reign was to commence in Poland. A certain Ottavio Cappelli, who had been first a Dominican friar, then, having unfrocked bimself, a gardener, was laid hold of by the Inquisition as the author of the ritual for the reception of members, and as pretending to communicate with the Archangel Raphael. The process was made, and he was condemned to abjure his

errors, and to be confined seven years in a fortress. Proceedings were instituted also against the Society itself. According to Barruel, the nuncio of Aviguon ordered Pernetty and his adepts to quit that territory within a month; but they had associates at Rome powerful enough to obtain a repeal of the order, or bold and artful enough to forge one. The arrest of Cappelli, however, and the proceedings against him, alarmed them, and they were only freed from their apprehensions by the progress of the revolution. Pernetty died before that time, in 1787; the Society then consisted of about an hundred members, and Barruel accuses them of having formed in conjunction with the Illuminés of Sweden and of Lyons, "le plus secret, le plus monstrueux des collèges et le tribunal le plus terrible aux rois,-celui qui avertit que leur tour est venu, qui nomme les bourreaur, et qui fait parvenir les poignards, ou les poisons. Barruel draws inferences which are not borne out by his facts, aud by assuming an hypothesis has given his book the appearance of a roinance, thereby rendering the real information which it contains suspicious. The designs of the Society were mischievous enough : but the men who engage in such schemes are not those who meddle with direct treason. They are too cunning for that, if not too scrupulous; ready, at safe distance, to set others on, but not to act with them, or implicate themselves. The only effect of the Avignon Society during the revolution may possibly be traced in a dispatch of Charlier and Pochole, the commissioners of the National Convention at Lyons. They reported

that

« AnteriorContinuar »