Proofs of a Conspiracy - John Robison

This fascinating treatise was written soon after the French Revolution by a British Physicist who was horrified at the atheist, insurrectionalist character of many of the European Freemason lodges. The author had access to pamphlets and correspondence from the Freemasons and other secret societies that gave evidence for their involvement in the worst abuses of the French revolution, and the corruption of civil society in Germany. His work provides a fascinating insight into a dark and mysterious, but very important influence on 19th century politics in Europe.

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[Book Cover] from Proofs of a Conspiracy by John Robison
[Title Page] from Proofs of a Conspiracy by John Robison




It was with great satisfaction that I learned from a Friend that you coincided with me in the opinion, that the information contained in this performance would make a useful impression on the minds of my Countrymen.

I have presumed to inscribe it with your Name, that I may publicly express the pleasure which I felt, when I found that neither a separation for thirty years, nor the pressure of the most important business, had effaced your kind remembrance of a College Acquaintance, or abated that obliging and polite attention with which you favored au in those early days of life.

The friendship of the accomplished and the worthy is the highest honor; and to him who is cut off, by want of health, from almost every other enjoyment, it is an inestimable blessing. Accept, therefore, I pray, of my grateful acknowledgements, and of my earnest wishes for your Health, Prosperity, and increasing Honor.

With sentiments of the greatest Esteem and Respect, I am, SIR,

Your most obedient, and most humble Servant,

September 5, 1797.

QUOD si quis vera vitam ratione gubernet,

Divitiae grandes homini sunt, vivere parce aequo anima:

neque enim est unquam penuria parvi,

At claros se homines voluerunt atque potentes,

Ut fundamento: stabili fortuna maneres,

Et placidam possent opulenti degere vitam:

Nequicquam. quoniam ad summum succedere honorem

Certantes, iter infestum fecere viai',

Et tamen a summo quasi fulmen dejicit ictos

Invidia interdum contemptim in Tartara tetra.


Ergo, Regibus occisis, subversa jacebat

Pristina majestas soliorum, et sceptra superba;

Et capitis summi praeclarum insigne, cruentum,

Sub pedibus volgi magnum lugebat honorem:

Nam cupide conculcatur nimis ante metutum.

Res itaqe ad summam faecem, turbasque redibat,

Imperium sibi cum ac summatum quisque petebat.


Note: The following Latin and English texts of the above passage were not in the original book, they are supplied for reference. JBH

But men wished glory for themselves and power.

Even that their fortunes on foundations firm

Might rest forever, and that they themselves,

The opulent, might pass a quiet life-

In vain, in vain; since, in the strife to climb

On to the heights of honor, men do make

Their pathway terrible; and even when once

They reach them, envy like the thunderbolt

At times will smite, O hurling headlong down

To murkiest Tartarus, in scorn;


And therefore kings were slain,

And pristine majesty of golden thrones

And haughty scepters lay o'erturned in dust;

And crowns, so splendid on the sovereign heads,

Soon bloody under the proletarian feet,

Groaned for their glories gone-for erst o'er- much

Dreaded, thereafter with more greedy zest

Trampled beneath the rabble heel.

Thus things Down to the vilest lees of brawling mobs

Succumbed, whilst each man sought unto himself

Dominion and supremacy.

De Rerum Naturum, Book 5

William Ellery Leonard translation

[Contents] from Proofs of a Conspiracy by John Robison