Cause of World Unrest - Nesta Webster

Chapter II
Prime Movers of the French Revolution

We have seen that the Illuminati are mentioned both by the Abbé Barruel and by Mrs. Webster as one of the Prime Movers of the French Revolution. Indeed, Mrs. Webster goes further and calls "Spartacus" Weishaupt the "inventor of world revolution." A careful study of Barruel, however, suggests that the Illuminati were only one of many sects which worked with the same means for the same object. They are important chiefly because we know a good deal about them. Their archives were captured and published by the Elector of Bavaria. That makes them interesting, for we can study them, as we study the working of bees in a glass hive. But it is also a danger, for we may be led by our knowledge of them to give them too high a place in the revolutionary hierarchy. We know that this "formidable sect" had a hand in the French Revolution; but it was not the only sect, and it is doubtful if it was the chief sect. Indeed, we shall see when we examine it more closely that it leads us into a blind alley. It entices us along in the most promising and alluring way; but it ends in a dead wall.

We know a good deal about Adam Weishaupt. He was born in 1748, and at the age of twenty-eight was Professor of Law in the University of Ingolstadt, in Bavaria. We know that even before this early age he had worked out the general lines of his system and of his philosophy. But there is one thing we do not know—Did he work out the system for himself or was he inspired thereto by some unknown and unsuspected teacher?

We do know, by the way, that he was a thorough paced scoundrel, for among his intercepted correspondence was a series of letters, written by him to various initiates, imploring them to help him to find the means to destroy the unborn child of his sister-in-law, before its birth should overwhelm him with disgrace. After such a confession we are entitled to doubt if the philosophy he professed was the real motive of his activities.

His philosophy need not detain us very long. It is the old familiar set of fallacies and unproved assumptions formulated some little time before by Jean Jacques Rousseau, and long since exploded by historians on the one side and by men of science on the other.

Liberty and equality are the essential rights that man in his original and primitive perfection received from Nature. Property destroyed Equality; Governments and Religions destroyed Liberty; therefore to reinstate man in his original rights it was necessary to destroy all Religions, all Civil Societies, and all Property.

This was to be done by secret organization—

"Yes," he prophesied, "princes and nations shall disappear from off the face of the Earth. Yes, a time shall come when man shall acknowledge no other Law than the great book of Nature. This Revolution shall be the work of our Secret Societies, and that is one of our Grand Mysteries."

It may be noted in passing that he uses the plural—as if he were aware that there were others working along tunnels similar to those which he and his confederates were digging so busily.

He began with his pupils of Ingolstadt, the general idea being that "each class of my order must be the preparatory school for the next." He educated a class of "Insinuators," whose business was to secure initiates, and these initiates were only let into the secrets of the organizations when they were proved to be faithful and had gone too far to draw back.

The scope of these designs is revealed in the following passage, which might almost persuade us that we are in the presence of the "formidable sect":

"When the object is a universal Revolution, all the members of these Societies, aiming at the same point, and aiding one another, must find means of governing invisibly, and without any appearance of violent measures, not only the higher and more distinguished class of any particular State, but even of all stations, of all nations, of every religion, insinuate the same spirit everywhere; in silence, but with the greatest possible activity, direct the scattered inhabitants of the Earth towards the same point."

With marvellous patience and cunning, Weishaupt elaborated a secret organization closely resembling Masonry, of four classes, subdivided into six degrees. Young men were tempted into it upon various false pretences, and before very long the organization had great power in Bavaria and other parts of Germany.

Then came a great chance. Weishaupt was fortunate in two disciples, "Cato" Zwack and the Hanoverian Baron, "Philo" Knigge, who had dabbled in Freemasonry, and with these two he conceived the project of capturing or illuminizing the Masonic Lodges.

Weishaupt's instructions on the gentle art of capturing Freemasonry are interesting:

"In every town of any note situated within their district the secret chapters shall establish lodges for the three ordinary degrees, and shall cause men of sound morals, of good repute, and of easy circumstances, to be received in these lodges. Such men are much to be sought after, and are to be made Masons, even though they should not be of any service to Illuminism in its ulterior projects."

These methods succeeded beyond expectation. Weishaupt and his initiates were soon in secret control of a multitude of lodges throughout Germany.

But the great chance came with the universal Masonic Congress at Wilhelmsbaden in 1782. At that Congress "Philo" Knigge was busy, and he gleefully reports his progress to his Master: "All of them," writes Knigge, "were enchanted with our degrees of Epopt and of Regent." Into these degrees the Freemasons were enlisted in shoals.

The centre of the conspiracy was now in Frankfort, and was spreading in all directions. The South German States, Prussia, Austria, Holland, were all infected. A trusted agent was sent to London "slily to illuminize the English." Several of the German Courts were almost completely in the hands of the Illuminati. Their prestige was becoming enormous.

But in the height of his success, Weishaupt received a staggering blow. The Elector of Bavaria swooped down upon him, obtained evidence, both written and oral, which filled Germany with horror and covered the sect with confusion. Weishaupt fled to another part of Germany; but his organization continued, and, as we shall presently see, its agents or fugitives helped to precipitate that Revolution in France which they had failed to effect in Germany.

We have said that our study of the Illuminati only leads us into a cul-de-sac, a blind alley. We come to Adam Weishaupt, and we get no further back. But at its other end this blind alley joins the main roads, or rather tunnels, of "occult" Freemasonry and Revolution.

We find this "filiation" quite clearly in Mirabeau's visits to Berlin. Mirabeau returned from Berlin with two enthusiasms, the one for the Jews, the other for the Illuminati. Of the former enthusiasm we shall have something to say later: the latter enthusiasm bore immediate fruit. Mirabeau induced "Amelius" Bode, the disciple and successor of "Spartacus" Weishaupt, to "illuminize" the French Masonic Lodges.

There is no doubt that at that time French Freemasonry was assuming certain very dangerous and subversive forms. France was, in fact, covered with a web of secret organizations of the Masonic type, and of these Lodges practically all the Jacobins were members.

The Grand Orient itself had become a vast revolutionary organization. Under the nominal rule of the Grand Master, Philip Egalité, Duke of Orleans, were the Lodges of no less than 282 French towns; there were besides 81 Lodges in Paris and 16 at Lyons. Every Lodge sent its Deputy to the Grand Orient, and every Lodge had its President, whose duty consisted in forwarding the orders of the Grand Orient, or in preparing the Brethren for the orders which they were to receive.

As early as 1776, the Central Committee of the Grand Orient instructed its subordinates to prepare the Brethren for insurrection. They were to visit the Lodges throughout France, to conjure them by the Masonic Oath, and to announce that the time had at last come to accomplish their ends in the death of tyrants.

Barruel (English edition, vol. ii., p. 438) gives an account of the manner in which these orders were executed at Lille in that year. The officers of the Regiment of La Sarre, stationed at that town, were, many of them, Freemasons, and these were invited to meet the Agent of the Grand Orient, an officer of the Artillery called Sinetty. In a grandiloquent speech he told them that the Universe was about to be freed from its fetters, that the tyrants called Kings were to be vanquished, and that Religion and Kings were to give way to Light, Liberty, and Equality. The officers were good Masons, and they were also loyal subjects of their King. They treated the message half as a disagreeable joke, half as an incomprehensible incident to be dismissed from their minds. But, being bound by their Masonic oath, they did not report the incident to headquarters.

While the Grand Orient thus organized Revolution throughout France, various occult Lodges had their parts in the movement. Thus the Paris Lodge of the Coq Heron was the seat of the propaganda. Its chiefs were the Due de la Rochefoucault, Condorcet, and Sieyes, and in 1790 they controlled funds of twenty million livres, or £900,000, at that time an enormous sum.

Barruel quotes the main principle on which they founded their hopes of a Revolution:

"Want and opinion are the two agents which make all men act. Cause the want, govern opinions, and you will overturn all, the existing systems, however well consolidated they may appear."

Now Barruel quotes this revolutionary maxim on the authority of one Dr. Girtanner, who, he says, had been able to penetrate the secrets of revolutionary Masonry in Paris. Was it acted upon? Everybody knows that one main cause of the Revolution in Paris was the scarcity of bread. That scarcity is usually said to be due to a bad harvest. Mrs. Webster, however, quotes many authorities to show that the scarcity was aggravated by the deliberate action of certain people who bought and held up the grain. These people, in her view, were agents of the Duke of Orleans and of what is called the Orleanist conspiracy.

"Montjoie (says Mrs. Webster] asserts that agents employed by the Duc d'Orleans deliberately bought up the grain, and either sent it out of the country or concealed it in order to drive the people to revolt, and in this accusation he is supported by innumerable contemporaries, including the democrat, Fantin-Des Odoards, Mounier, whose integrity is not to be doubted, the Liberal Malouet, Ferrieres, and Madame de la Tour du Pin. Beaulieu, however, one of the most reliable of contemporaries, considers that the Orleanists would have been unable to create a famine by these means, but that they accomplished their purpose by stirring up public feeling on the subject of monopolizers, thereby inducing the people to pillage the grain. The farmers and corn merchants, therefore, fearing that their supplies would be destroyed in transit, were afraid to release them. By this means a fictitious famine was created."

Here at least is evidence which makes Girtanner's statement credible. He states that the secret societies planned to create scarcity; contemporaries believed that scarcity was created, but put it down not to the secret organizations of which they knew nothing, but to the Duke of Orleans.

As to the other economic cause of the French Revolution, the spell of bad trade and unemployment, it was produced by the Eden Treaty, a commercial treaty so disadvantageous to France that it was ascribed by contemporaries either to corruption or treachery. Here also Girtanner's statement furnishes a clue which might be worth while for the student to follow up. What remains certain is that the economic crisis which preceded the Revolution was intensified, if not created, by artificial causes. That these causes were part of a conspiracy to bring about Revolution is not certain, but possible—and probable.

But to return. Among the "arriere loges"—in whose "shadowy sanctuaries" the Revolution was plotted—we must mention the Lodges of the Amis Reunis and the Philalethes. The latter was the haunt of those philosophers and dabblers in literature who in all ages are the easy prey of their vanity. The former sheltered such political fanatics as Condorcet, Brissot, Danton, Saint-Martin, and Savalette de Lange. It was to this retreat that Mirabeau brought "Amelius" Bode, the Baron de Busche, and the other Illuminati who were to "illuminize" French Freemasonry. But French Freemasonry hardly required "illuminization" from Germany. The work had already been carried through by kindred spirits, if not by fellow-conspirators.

Among these shadowy and sinister figures were the notorious "Count Cagliostro," whose real name was Joseph Balsamo—a practitioner of all forms of magic, alchemy, and fraud—and the "Count of Saint-Germain," a Theosophist, as we should now call him, who boasted that he had lived through several incarnations. It was this impostor who founded the sect of Adamites, some little distance outside Paris, in which, according to Barruel, the two sexes lived in promiscuous concubinage, one lady only being reserved as the peculiar property of the founder, then, according to his own reckoning, in his 130th year.

Nor should we forget Martinez Pasqualis, generally reputed to be a Portuguese Jew, who founded his Order of Cohens, with a programme which owed something to the ancient mysteries of the Cabala. Pasqualis and his successor, Saint-Martin, worked in France on very much the same lines as Weishaupt worked in Germany. Indeed, the more we look at this eighteenth-century network of secret conspiracy, the more probable does it seem that they all owed something to a common inspiration at that time and up till now suspected but unknown.

When the Revolution came some at least of these secret workers emerged from their shadowy sanctuaries and came into the open. The Jacobins were not only initiates themselves, but ruled their affairs in ghastly imitation of the Masonic order.

"It is not by chance [says Barruel] that the Jacobin Clubs both in Paris and the Provinces become the general receptacle for Rosicrucians, Knights Templars, Knights of the Sun, and Knights Kadosch; or of those in particular who, under the name of Philalethes, were enthusiastically wedded to the mysteries of Swedenborg, whether at Paris, Lyons, Avignon, Bordeaux, or Grenoble. . . . The list is public, and it contains the names of all the profound adepts who had hitherto been dispersed among the Lodges."

Were they the real plotters of the Revolution, or were they, too, puppets, who danced obediently to the guidance of an unseen hand? Their fate suggests their role, for all or nearly all of them died under the guillotine, carrying with them their dark secrets to be buried for ever in the quicklime of the general fosse.