The Gnostics and Their Remains, by Charles William King, , at sacred-texts.com
But although this Society of Freemasons was convoked in London, and established branches all over England, furnishing also the members with the means for secret recognition, and all for a political end, yet in its true origin Freemasonry had nothing political in its nature, neither was the aforesaid convocation in London the real commencement of its existence. This final organisation was only the adaptation to a special end of another society, then in fullest bloom, the Rosicrucian. If we reflect how rankly both astrology and alchemy were flourishing at that time in England, * and that the Rosicrucian sect was essentially of Protestant growth, we may on good grounds conclude that this sect already numbered many English members from amongst the educated classes and the philosophers of the
day. These last were for the most part ardent Royalists, hating the established order of things, joined with many fanatical Republicans equally impatient of the new despotism of Cromwell. In the Rosicrucian system Religion and Philosophy, the latter meaning little more than astrology and alchemy, * were strangely interwoven, and the terminology of the one was borrowed to express the ideas and aspirations of the other. This hypothesis is strongly recommended from its adoption by the acute De Quincey in his essay entitled "Freemasons and Rosicrucians" ('London Magazine,' 1824), where he shows how the Rosicrucians, when driven by persecution out of Germany, re-appeared in England as Freemasons, taking that name from the place of meeting, and from nothing else. Under the new appellation the sect was re-imported into the Continent as an English institution. De Quincey, however, makes their object to have been purely religious without any admixture of politics, and so far differs from Nicolai, whose views have been adopted by myself in what precedes, and who, being himself an illuminato of the first water, ought certainly to be regarded as the higher authority of the two.
The latter writer has given in his 'Tempel-Herren' what appears to be the best supported account of the rise † and progress of Rosicrucianism. He points out for its founder a Lutheran mystic, J. V. Andreæ, ‡ almoner to the Duke of
[paragraph continues] Würtemberg early in the seventeenth century. At least, the writings of this divine, wherein the Rosy Cross prominently figures were the first indications that made the existence of the fraternity known to the outer world. But Andreæ appears to have done no more than borrow the symbols and occult means of communication already existing from time immemorial amongst the astrologers and alchemists (in other words the wealthy and the learned of the age, when the Emperor Rudolf II. was the greatest patron of the "curious arts" ever recorded in history) in order to employ them on the furtherance of a visionary scheme of his own. This scheme was the fusion of all Christian sects * into one universal brotherhood, and the projector wisely commenced his apostleship by attempting to bring over to his side the most eminent of the mass, by the utilization of such ancient and venerated machinery. The well-meaning enthusiast had evidently disregarded the remark of the sagacious Julian (Am. Mar. xxi. 5), confirmed as it is by the experience of every succeeding generation, owes as much as any; "Nullas infestas hominibus bestias ut sunt sibi ferales plerique Christianorum." As a matter of course, his scheme of universal brotherhood dissolved in smoke as soon as established, but the older philosophy, whose garb he had adopted, bloomed with fresh vigour under the new organisation and euphonious name.
But before going any further, let us for diversion's sake hear the Rosicrucians' own story, and examine some of their doctrines and insignia, which have an important bearing upon the subject of our inquiry. The Rosicrucians, says Boyle, make their founder to have been a certain German, only known as A. C., who having gone to Damascus in the year 1387, was instructed in their mysteries by the College of Arabian Sages †
there established. Returning home he communicated his knowledge to a small number of chosen associates, dying in 1484. It is a matter of importance to notice that in this legend Syria is made the fountain head of the new philosophy. The Rosicrucian Creed, according to the 'Essay on Spirits' (dedicated to Mr. Locke, 1647), contains, amongst others, this palpable adoption of the Pythagorean system:--
392:* Oxford produced the two great lights of the Hermetic philosophy, Robert de Fluctibus (Fludd), and his contemporary Eugenius Philaethes (Thos. Vaughan). The latter, born in 1612, is said by a writer of the year 1749 to be then living at Nuremberg, as the president of the illuminated throughout the world.
393:* The position of the latter science in this century cannot be more strongly exemplified than by the actual existence of current coins declaring themselves to be made out of Hermetic metal by the symbols for mercury and lead (Ψ ♄) stamped on their reverse. Examples are three ducats of Gustavus Adolphus (Paris Cabinet), thalers of Wilhelm, Landgrave of Hesse, and contemporary coins of the city of Erfurt. This subject has been well handled by Martin Reg in his memoir, "Anciennes Pièces Hermétiques," 'Revue Numismatique' for 1867.
393:† 'The Rosicrucians: their Rites and Mysteries; with Chapters on the ancient Fire-and-Serpent Worshippers, and explanations of the Mystic Symbols represented in the Monuments and Talismans of the Primeval Philosophers.' By Hargrave Jennings, London, 1870. A truly "Masonic" production, without "method in its madness," but valuable for giving many Rosicrucian (or rather Kabbalistic) expositions of symbols, extracted from Fludd's writings. The compiler has, moreover, laid my 'Gnostics' largely under contribution, and even reproduced my engravings with sundry fanciful improvements that wonderfully heighten their mystic value.
393:‡ Solomon Somber, however, in p. 394 his 'Collections for the History of Rosicrucianism,' assigns a fabulous antiquity to the sect.
394:* Exactly the same scheme, based upon Judaism, is the crime that now keeps in perpetual imprisonment Nicholas Ilvin, the far-famed "Convent Spectre" of Solovetsk in the Frozen Sea, universally believed in Russia to be the lost Grand Duke Constantine.--(Dixon's 'Free Russia.')
394:† This tradition may have some truth in it, allowing for an error of locality. At Cairo the Fatemite sultans (Ismaelites be it remembered) had three centuries before this date p. 395 founded the far-famed lodge, entitled "the House of Wisdom." Here the student passed through nine degrees, beginning with Obedience, Mysticism, Philosophy, Doubt, &c., up to Absolute Incredulity. William of Tyre (xix. 17) tells a wonderful story, how Hugo of Cæsarea and Geffroi of the Temple, envoys to Cairo on business of the Order, were led by the Soldan himself to the palace Kashef, and conducted through numerous courts of the richest architecture, full of strange birds and beasts, to the inmost hall, where the Soldan having first adored the unseen "Master," the curtains of gold and pearl were suddenly drawn back, and that dignitary appeared seated in unspeakable glory on a golden throne, attended by his chief officials.