THE following passages occur in a letter published by some anonymous members of the R.C., and are adduced in a translation from the Latin by one of the most famous men of the order, who addressed from the University of Oxford about the period of Oliver Cromwell; to which university the great English Rosicrucian, Robertus de Fluctibus (Robert Flood), also belonged, in the time of James the First and Charles the First. We have made repeated visits to the church where Robert Flood lies buried.
'Every man naturally desires superiority. Men wish for treasures and to seem great in the eyes of the world. God, indeed, created all things to the end that man might give Him thanks; But there is no individual thinks of his proper duties; he secretly desires to spend his days idly, and would enjoy riches and pleasures without any previous labour or danger. When we' (professors of abstruse sciences) 'speak, men either revile or contemn, they either envy or laugh. When we discourse of gold, they assume that we would assuredly produce it if we could, because. they judge us by themselves; and when we debate of it, and enlarge upon it, they imagine we shall finish by teaching them how to make gold by art, or furnish them with it already made. And wherefore or why should we teach them the way to these mighty possessions? Shall it be to the end that men may live pompously in the eyes of the world; swagger and
make wars; be violent when they are contradicted; turn usurers, gluttons, and drunkards; abandon themselves to lust? Now, all these things deface and defile man, and the holy temple of man’s body, and are plainly against the ordinances of God. For this dream of the world, as also the body or vehicle through which it is made manifest, the Lord intended to be pure. And it was not purposed, in the divine arrangement, that men should grow again down to the earth. It is for other purposes that the stars, in their attraction, have raised man on his feet, instead of abandoning him to the "all fours" that were the imperfect tentatives of nature until life, through the supernatural impulse, rose above its original condemned level--base and relegate.
'We of the secret knowledge do wrap ourselves in mystery, to avoid the objurgation and importunity or violence of those who conceive that we cannot be philosophers unless we put our knowledge to some ordinary worldly use. There is scarcely one who thinks about us who does not believe that our society has no existence; because, as he truly declares, he never met any of us. And he concludes that there is no such brotherhood because, in his vanity, we seek not- him to be our fellow. We do not come, as he assuredly expects, to that conspicuous stage upon which, like himself, as he desires the gaze of the vulgar, every fool may enter; winning wonder, if the man’s appetite be that empty way; and, when he has obtained it, crying out "Lo, this is also vanity!"'
Dr. Edmund Dickenson, physician to King Charles the Second, a professed seeker of the hermetic knowledge, produced a book entitled, De Quinta Essentia Philosophorum: which was printed at Oxford in 1686, and a second time in 1705. There was a third edition of it printed in Germany in 1721. In correspondence
with a French adept, the latter explains the reasons why the Brothers of the Rosy Cross concealed themselves. As to the universal medicine, Elixir Vitæ, or potable form of the preternatural menstruum, he positively asserts that it is in the hands of the 'Illuminated', but that, by the time they discover it, they have ceased to desire its uses, being far above them; and as to life for centuries, being wishful for other things, they decline availing themselves of it. He adds, that the adepts are obliged to conceal themselves for the sake of safety, because they would be abandoned in the consolations of the intercourse of this world (if they were not, indeed, exposed to worse risks), supposing that their gifts were proven to the conviction of the bystanders as more than human; when they would become simply intolerable and abhorrent. Thus, there are excellent reasons for their conduct; they proceed with the utmost caution, and instead of making a display of their powers, as vainglory is the least distinguishing characteristic of these great men, they studiously evade the idea that they possess any extraordinary. or separate knowledge. They live simply as mere spectators in the world, and they desire to make no disciples, converts, nor confidants. They submit to the obligations of life, and to relationships--enjoying the fellowship of none, admiring none, following none, but themselves. They obey all codes, are excellent citizens, and only preserve silence in regard to their own private convictions, giving the world the benefit of their acquirements up to a certain point: seeking only sympathy at some angles of, their multiform character, but shutting out curiosity wholly where they do not wish its imperative eyes.
This is the reason that the Rosicrucians passed through the world mostly unnoticed, and that people
generally disbelieve that there ever were such persons; or believe that, if there were, their pretensions are an imposition. It is easy to discredit things which we do not understand--in fact, nature compels us to reject all propositions which do not consist with our reason. The true artist is supposed to avoid all suspicion, even on the part of those nearest to him. And granting the possibility, of the Rosicrucian means of the renewal of life, and supposing also that it was the desire of the hermetic philosopher, it would not be difficult for him so to order his arrangements as that he should seem to die in one place (to keep up the character of the natural manner of his life), by withdrawing himself, to reappear in another place as a new person at the time that seemed most convenient to him for the purpose. For everything, and every difficult thing, is easy to those with money; nor will, the world inquire with too resolute a curiosity, if you have coolness and address, and if you have the art of accounting for things. The man of this order also is solus, and without wife or children to embarrass him in the private disposition of his affairs, or to follow him too closely into his by-corners. Thus it will be seen that philosophers may live in the world, and have all these gifts, and yet be never heard of--or, if heard of, only as they themselves wish or suggest.
As an instance of the unexpected risks which a member of this order may run if he turns his attention to the practical side of his studies, spite of all his precautions, we may cite the accident which happened to a famous Englishman, who disguised himself under the name of Eugenius Philalethes, but whose real name is said to be Thomas Vaughan. He tells us of himself, that going to a goldsmith to sell twelve hundred marks’ worth of gold, the man told
him, at first sight, that it never came out of the mines, but was the production of art, as it was not of the standard of any known kingdom: which proved so sudden a dilemma to the offerer of the gold, that he withdrew immediately, leaving it behind him. It naturally follows from this, that it is not only necessary to have gold, but that the gold shall be marketable or acceptable gold, as otherwise it is utterly useless for the purposes of conversion into money in this world. Thomas Vaughan, who was a scholar of Oxford, and was vehemently attacked in his lifetime, and who certainly was a Rosicrucian adept if there ever was one, led a wandering life, and fell often into great perplexities and dangers from the mere suspicion that he possessed extraordinary secrets. He was born, as we learn from his writings, about the year 1612, which makes him a contemporary of the great English Rosicrucian, Robert Flood; and what is the strangest part of his history, as we find remarked by a writer in 1749, is, that he is 'believed by those of his fraternity' (so the author adds) 'to be living even now; and a person of great credit at Nuremberg, in Germany, affirms that he conversed with him a year or two ago. Nay, it is further asserted' (continues the author) 'that this very individual is the president of the Illuminated in Europe, and that he sits as such in all their annual meetings'. Thomas Vaughan, according to the report of the philosopher Robert Boyle, and of others who knew him, was a man of remarkable piety, and of unstained morals. He has written and edited several invaluable works upon the secrets of the philosophers, some of which are in our possession; among others: Introitus Apertus ad occlusum Regis Palatium; Lumen de Lumine; Magia Adamica; Anima Magica Abscondita, and other learned books; advancing very peculiar
theories concerning the seen and the unseen. These books were disbelieved at the time, and remain discredited, principally because they treat of eccentric and seemingly impossible things. It is, however, certain that we go but a very little way out of the usual learned track before we encounter puzzling matters, which may well set us investigating our knowledge, and looking with some suspicion upon its grounds, spite of all the pompous claims of modern philosophers, who are continually, on account of their conceitedness, making sad mistakes; and breaking down with their plausible systems.
'Progress and enlightenment are prerogatives to which no generation in particular can lay a special claim', says a modern writer, speaking of railways and their invention. 'Intelligence like that of the Stephensons is born again and again, at lengthened intervals; and it is only these giants in wisdom who know how to carry on to perfection the knowledge which centuries have been piling up before them. But the age in which such men are cast, is often unequal to appreciate the genius which seeks to elevate its aspiration. Thus it was in 1820 that Mr. William Brougham proposed to consign George Stephenson to Bedlam, for being the greatest benefactor of his time. But now that we have adopted somewhat fully his rejected ideas of steam-locomotion and high rates of speed, which were with so much difficulty forced upon us, we complacently call ourselves "enlightened"; and doubtless we are tolerably safe in doing so, considering that the Stephensons, and similar scientific visionaries, no longer live to contradict us.' We might add, that the Rosicrucians hold their critics in light esteem--indeed in very light esteem.
If such is the disbelief of science of everyday use,
what chance of credit has the abstruser knowledge, and those assertions of power which contradict, our most ordinary ideas of possibility? Common sense will answer, None at all. And yet all human conclusions and resolutions upon points which have been considered beyond the possibility of contradiction have been sometimes at fault. The most politic course is not too vigorously to take our stand upon any supposed fixed point of truth, but simply to admit that our knowledge is limited, that absolute truth is alone in the knowledge of God, and that no more truth is vouchsafed to man than he knows how to utilize: most of his uses, even of his little quantum of truth, being perverted. He must await other states for greater light, and to become a higher creature--should that be his happy destiny. As to certainty in this world, there is none--nor can there be any. Whether there is anything outside of man is uncertain. Hume has pointed out that there is no sequence between one and two. Other philosophers have ingeniously detected that our senses are all one, or all none. Man is the picture painted upon external matter, and external matter is the individuality that surveys the picture. In the world of physics, colours are tones in other senses, and tones are colours; sevenfold in either case, as the planetary powers and influences are septenary--which, in the ideas of the Rosicrucians, produce both.