Sacred Texts  Sub Rosa  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

Code of the Illuminati: Part III of Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism, by A Barruel, tr. Robert Edward Clifford [1798], at

p. 549


Continuation of the Instructions on the Government of the Illuminees—Laws for the Local Superiors.

Great as the authority of the Major Illuminees over the Minerval Academies may appear at first sight, no person of the preparatory class is in fact entrusted with any real authority. Even the Scotch Knight in his intermediate class does not enjoy any. The Order recognizes as real Superiors none but those who have been initiated into the class of the Mysteries. Even in that class the adept must have attained the degree of Regent before he can be named Prefect for the Scotch Knights, or Dean of his district. Those are the first two offices which the Order considers as having any real authority over the Brethren.

Though the Code expressly declares, that each Superior shall find in his instructions the respective laws concerning his particular duty, it certainly contains none for the office of Dean. A single Chapter is indeed to be found in the Code on his election and consecration. On the first establishment of a new district he is elected by the Provincial; but on his deposition or death the Epopts assemble and choose a successor by the plurality of votes, the Provincial only having the right of confirming such an election. With regard to what the Code terms his consecration (Weihung des decani), it is generally performed by what is called a Plenipotentiary, and in a sort of barbarous Latin, extremely inelegant. Were not the impiety of it as abominable as the ceremonial is low, it might form an excellent scene for the theatres of Bartholomew fair. The Illuminizing Legislator, a very inferior copyist of Moliere's Malade Imaginaire, ridicules St. Paul, Moses, and all religious ceremonies, as Moliere did the quack disciples of Hippocrates. Little wit is required to scoff at religious rites, and yet our Legislator has only succeeded in being disgustingly impious. Such turpitude is not worthy of our notice, for none but Epopts can admire it; this nevertheless is all the information the Code can give us respecting the Dean. 1

The same cannot be said of the instructions for the Prefects. These Local Superiors may have as many as eight Lodges at a time under their command, partly Minerval, and partly Masonic. The Prefect is the first Regent within his prefecture, and has the direction of all that part of the Order stiled in the Code the lower part of the edifice. All the Quibus Licets of his district pass through his hands. He opens those of the Scotch Knights, and the Solis of the Novices and Minervals; but every thing else he transmits to the higher Superiors. When

p. 550

he founds new Lodges, or receives new Brethren, he gives the new Geographical names and Characteristics, which he selects from the list that he has received from the Provincial. He makes a general report to the Provincial of every thing that has happened within his Prefecture once a month; and every three months transmits the reversal letters, the tablets sent by the Scrutators with notes on their political and moral conduct, and an exact return of the state of the funds belonging to each Lodge. He decides on the promotion of the Brethren as far as Scotch Knight, but can confer the latter degree only with the consent of the Provincial.—He has the right once a year of commanding all the adepts under his direction to return whatever writings the Order may have entrusted them with—He returns them to those on whose fidelity he has reason to rely, but not to those whom he may have any reason to suspect, or who are intended to be dismissed2

The foundation of the Edifice rests solely on the vigilance, experience, and zeal of the Prefect.—And it was to the direction of their conduct in every part of the Government that Weishaupt dedicated his lessons under the following heads:—I. Preparations.—II. Tuition of the Pupils.—III. Spirit or love of the Order—IV. Subordination.—V. Secrecy.—Each of these articles contains a cloud of those artifices which the reader has seen interspersed in divers parts of the Code, but which now become the peculiar study of the Prefect. I shall only extract the most striking, or those on which the Legislator particularly insists; such, for example, as the following, to be found in the first pages of the head Preparation.

"Our strength chiefly consists in numbers; but much will also depend on the means employed to form the pupil—Young people are pliant and easily take the impression. The Prefect will therefore spare no pains to gain possession of the Schools which lie within his district, and also of their teachers. He will find means of placing them under the tuition of members of our Order; for this is the true method of infusing our principles and of training our young men: it is thus that the most ingenious men are prepared to labour for us and are brought into discipline; and thus that the affection conceived by our young pupils for the Order will gain as deep root as do all other early impressions."

Under the same head are to be found instructions for the Prefect equally curious, on the propagation of the Order.

"When a new colony is to be founded, begin by choosing a bold and enterprizing adept entirely devoted to the Order. Send him some time beforehand to live on the spot where you intend making the new establishment."

"Before you proceed to people the extremities, begin by making your ground good at the centre."

"Your next object must be, to gain over such persons as are constant residents, as Merchants and Canons."

"Such missions should only be entrusted to brethren of independent fortune, and who would occasion no expence to the Order; for though all the brethren

p. 551

are entitled to succour when in real want, yet those of one province are as seldom as possible to be an expence to the neighbouring ones. Nor are the other districts by any means to be made acquainted with the weakness of the Order in yours. Beside, the funds must find a sufficiency to succour those of the Minerval school who may stand in need of it, that our promises in their case may be performed."

"You will not seek to extend yourself till you have consolidated your establishment in the capital of your district."

"You will seriously examine and cautiously select from the Brethren those who are the most able to undertake such a mission. You will next consider whether it will be proper to begin your establishment by a Minerval Church or a Masonic Lodge."

"Pay most particular attention to the man whom you place at the head of the new colony; observe whether he is courageous, zealous, prudent, exact, and punctual; whether fitted for the forming new adepts; whether he enjoys a good reputation or is much considered; whether he is a man of business and capable of a serious and constant application; in short, whether he has all the necessary qualifications for an undertaking of such high importance."

"Consider also the locality. Is the place proposed near to or distant from the capital of your district?—Is it a dangerous or safe situation for such an undertaking?—Is it great or small, more or less populous?—By what means can you best succeed, and which can be easiest employed?—What time would be requisite for the perfecting of such an establishment?—To what persons can you apply on first setting off?—If your first applications be ill made, all future attempts will be fruitless.—What pretence or what name is to be assumed?—How is the new colony to be subordinated or co-ordinated? that is to say, what Superiors shall it be under, and with what Lodges shall it correspond?"

"When you shall have acquired sufficient strength in your new colony, and particularly if our Brethren enjoy the first dignities of the state, if they may freely and openly show themselves formidable to their opponents, and make them feel the painful consequences of counteracting the views of the Order; if you have wherewith to satisfy the wants of the Brethren; if, so far from having to fear from the government, the Order directs those who hold the reins—Then be assured that we shall not be wanting in numbers or in the choice of adepts; we shall soon have more than we have occasion for. I cannot too strongly recommend this method of proceeding."

"If it be necessary for us to be masters of the ordinary schools, of how much more importance will it be to gain over the ecclesiastical seminaries and their superiors! With them, we gain over the chief part of the country; we acquire the support of the greatest enemies to innovation; and the grand point of all is, that through the clergy we become masters of the middle and lower classes of the people."

"But remember that great caution is necessary with the Ecclesiastics. These gentlemen are generally either too free or too scrupulous; and those who are too free have seldom any morals." The legislator then proceeds to the

p. 552

exclusion of the religious, and tells the Insinuator to avoid the Jesuits as he would the plague.

While perusing these laws, I suppose the reader makes nearly the same reflections which I am tempted every instant to commit to paper.—Should the following article ever meet the eye of a Prince, it will give him ample room for reflection.

"When the Prefect shall have gradually succeeded in placing the most zealous members of the Order in the councils and offices under the Prince, he will have arrived at the full extent of his commission. He will hve done much more than if he had initiated the Prince himself." 3

"In general, Princes are not to be admitted into the Order, and even those who are received are seldom to be permitted to rise above the degree of Scotch Knight."

After what has been seen of this degree and those that precede, it is rather extraordinary that Weishaupt should deign to grant admission to Princes; for he did not wait for this degree before he clearly insinuated his plans. Princes, at least, who had not surmised them before their admission to that degree must have been void of penetration indeed. What hopes then could the Legislator entertain of their not perceiving his plots against all legitimate authority? His confidential letters will explain the enigma:—"Brethren," he writes to his Areopagites, "you will take care to have the following corrections made before you show the constitutions of our degrees to the Elector.—In the degree of Minor Illuminee in place of the words imbecile Monks say imbecile men—In the degree of Major Illuminee blot out the words Priests and Princes are in our way.—With respect to the degree of Priest show no part of it excepting the discourse on sciences, and read that over carefully lest any allusion or reference to any other part of the degree should remain." 4 These corrections begin to clear the enigma; a more insidious expedient will veil his plots in complete darkness. "I mean, says Weishaupt when speaking to the Areopagites of the inferior degrees, to revise the whole system." Then, attributing to the Jesuits his own immorality, he says, "I mean that it should be a complete Jesuitical piece; not a single word shall be found in it that can in any way be cavilled at by religious or political governments. Let us act with caution; do nothing without a reason; things must be prepared and brought on step by step." 5 The adept who has given us the most complete and candid account of the degrees of Illuminism assures us, that he had seen a discourse for the degree of Epopt in which every thing respecting religion and government was omitted. 6

Here then we find Weishaupt not only correcting but even forming fictitious degrees to dupe the princely adept, and to persuade him that the dark and mysterious recesses of the hireling crew have been laid open to him, while the real adept smiles at his credulity. Such artifice certainly aggravates Weishaupt's criminality. But will that excuse the princely adept? Notwithstanding the veil artfully thrown over the impious and seditious principles of the sect, did he not begin by swearing obedience and protection to the Order? His court soon swarms with Illuminees; he thinks he reigns over them, but is no

p. 553

more than their stately captive. And should he fall their victim, will it not be said that he met with his just fate? What strange madness can induce Princes to inscribe their names on the registers of secret societies! Have they not duties to fulfill toward the public? On what right can their oaths of submission and protection be grounded, sworn in the recesses of secret Lodges, to men who hide themselves from public view, when their labours, cares, and protecting power, are to extend over the whole state and to all its citizens? On the throne, or with pretensions to it, do they not degradingly swear obedience and protection to Masters of Lodges! By what right, will they promulgate laws emanating from Lodges? When their subjects swore allegiance and fidelity to them, did those subjects expect to be governed by a slave, or be subjected to laws proclaimed indeed by their Prince, but dictated by some Master Illuminee or Rosicrucian? And ye, magistrates of the people, who are to sit in judgment over the mutual and disputed claims of the citizens in general, what confidence can be placed in you after you have sworn obedience and protection to this illuminizing Sect, even in actions just or unjust? Such reflections will rise refulgent from the page of history; and would to God that the Revolution had not already indelibly engraved them!

If ever self-love should have directed the actions of men, and supplied the place of nobler motives, the princely dupe will have found ample matter in the laws of Illuminism to stimulate his, when he but casts his eye on the following article contained in the instructions for the Prefects, or local Superiors, under the head formation of pupils: "What will numbers avail us, if unity and similarity of sentiment do not prevail?—No rank, no state of life, can dispense the Brethren from our labours or our trials. To accustom them to despise all distinctions, and to view the world and human nature in the grand scale, the Prefect shall carefully collect all the anecdotes he can, remarkable either for their generosity or meanness, not regarding to whom they relate, whether Princes or Citizens, rich or poor. He will transmit them to the Masters of the Minervals; and these will expose them in a proper manner to their pupils. They will not forget to give the name of the Prince of great personage, though the trait should dishonour him; for," says the Code, "every member must be made sensible, that we distribute impartial justice, and that among us the wicked man upon the throne is called a villain (ein schurke heist) just as freely, if not more so, than the criminal who is being led to the gallows."

Under the same head we may observe another article remarkable enough, on the means of rendering the language of the adepts more uniform when speaking before any of the Order, or of facts relating to it.

On these occasions the Prefect will take care secretly to instruct the lower Superiors in what stile they are to hold forth, what ideas to propagate, and in what manner they should make their pupils speak. "Hence the pupils will constantly accord themselves in every thing, whether in language or action, with the Superiors, though their motives may be unknown to them. But these means we shall all tend toward the same object; the young adepts will accustom themselves to search and dive into the intentions of the Order; to

p. 554

refrain from acting; or to be silent on all doubtful occasions, till they have received the advice or orders of their Superior as to what they ought to do or say."

Under the head Love or Spirit of the Order, the Prefect is instructed, that such Love or Spirit is to be infused by descanting on the beauty and importance of the object of the Sect, the integrity of its members, the greatness and certainty of its means, the utility of the instruction imparted, and security promised to all its pupils by the Order.—This Love will always be proportionate to the certainty of being happy while attached to the Order, and of finding real happiness in no other place. To stimulate it, he must always feed them with the hopes of new discoveries more and more important; and, lest their zeal should diminish, "try to keep our pupils constantly occupied with objects relating to the Order; make it their favourite pursuit.—See what the Roman Catholic Church does to make its religion familiar to its followers, how it keeps their attention incessantly toward it; model yourself by that.—It would be impossible to foresee all cases and lay down rules for them;—Let it then be the constant study of the Prefects and other Superiors to prepare themselves for unforeseen events—Let them propose and distribute prizes for the best compositions on such cases. Perpetual vigilance will render it impossible for the edifice not sooner or later to succeed, and to take a proper consistency according to the local circumstances. Exhort the Brethren to complacency, beneficence, and generosity toward each other and toward the Order."

The next article treats of Obedience. Here the Prefect is informed, "That should he have been diligent and successful in impressing the young pupils with the grandeur of the views of the Sect, they will doubtless obey the Superiors with pleasure. How can they do otherwise than submit themselves to be conducted by Superiors who have so carefully guided them hitherto, who contributed so much to their present happiness, and who promise to perpetuate it in future? May the man who is not to be enticed into obedience by such advantages be rejected from among us; let him be cast out from the society of the elect! The spirit of obedience is to be more particularly infused by example and instruction—by the conviction, that to obey our Superiors is in fact only fulfilling our own inclination—by the gradual progress of the degrees—by the hopes of discovering more important truths—by fear properly managed—by honours, rewards, and distinctions granted to the docile—by contempt cast on the stubborn—by avoiding familiarity with the inferiors—by the exemplary punishment of the rebellious—by the selection of those whom we know to be devoted to us and ready to execute all our commands—by a particular attention to the Quibus Licets whereby we may see how far the Orders of the Superiors have been executed;—and by the punctuality of the intermediary Superiors in sending the tablets or reports respecting their inferiors. The more particular those tablets are, the better they will be; for it is on them that all the operations of the Order are grounded. It is by their means that the progress and number of the Brethren are to be known; that the strength or weakness of the machine, and the proportion and adhesion of all its parts are to be calculated,

p. 555

and that the promotion of the Brethren, the merits and demerits of the assemblies, of the Lodges, and of their Superiors, are to be judged.

When treating of Secrecy, "The Prefect is informed, that this is the most essential article; and it is on that account that even in countries where the Sect may have acquired sufficient power to throw off its mask, it is to remain veiled in darkness."

"The Prefect is always to hide with dexterity the real object of his views according to local circumstances. Let him agree with the Provincial on what shape he shall assume to conceal the Order. As in the religious institutions of the Roman Church, where religion, alas! is but a pretext; exactly so, only in a nobler manner, must we enwrap our Order in the forms of a mercantile society, or some other exterior of a similar nature."

In vain would the reader ask me, whence the Illuminized Code had taken the idea of Religion being only a pretext for the religious institutions in the Catholic Church. It has not come to my knowledge, that the most barefaced Sophisters have ever advanced a calumny of this sort. I have seen the religious founders, such as St. Francis, St. Benedict, or St. Basil, and other founders of orders, described by the Sophisters as superstitious enthusiasts. But even among the apostates who must have been acquainted with the Orders they had lived in, we have never heard one pretend that Religion was only a pretext either for the institution they abandoned, or for their ancient brethren. Did any of them ever assert, that ambition, avarice, or any pretext beside Religion, had given rise to the foundation of the Order of the Capuchins, Friars, Benedictines, or Carmelites, and of so many other convents destined for men or women? This, however, is not a calumny originating with Weishaupt; it is not to be found in his instructions sent to Knigge, and on which the latter formed the Code of Laws for the Regents and Local Superiors, though he subjoined many of his own ideas. Knigge was totally ignorant of every thing relating to religious Orders. Weishaupt was born a Roman Catholic, and might indeed, in his impiety, have repeated the ideas of many apostate Sophisters, or have left this strange comparison of his Illuminism with the religious institutes, since it was in the Code: but I should be truly surprized were I to find that it was a Calumny of his invention. He knew too well how much he stood in need of darkness to envelope his designs; and he also knew, that in the Roman Catholic Church no religious institute was adopted, until it had been made public and examined by the constituted authorities.

After this absurd calumny follows a recapitulation of every thing we have already exposed to our readers in the first Chapters of this Volume, on the necessity of hiding the proceedings and even the very existence of the Lodges. But I find the following additions in this place.

"Lest the number of the Brethren should expose them to discovery, by their assemblies being too numerous, the Prefect will take care that no more than ten members shall assemble in the same Minerval Church."

p. 556

"Should any place contain a greater number of pupils, the Lodges must be multiplied, or different days of assembly must be assigned, that all may not meet at once; and should there be several Minerval Churches in the same town, the Prefect will take care that those of one Lodge shall know nothing of the others." For the better direction of the lower part of the edifice, he will observe the following rules—He is to nominate the Magistrates of the Minervals; but the chief of these Magistrates can only be named with the consent of the Provincial. He will be responsible for those he names.—He will overlook the Masonic and Minerval Lodges, to see that every thing is regularly and punctually executed. He will not permit any discourses to be delivered there which may give any strong suspicions of what is contriving against Religion, the state, or morals.—He will suffer no Brother to be advanced to the higher degrees before he has acquired the requisite qualities and principles; on this point, says the Code, he cannot carry his precautions, anxiety, and scrupulosity too far.

"It has already been stated in the rules, that persons not belonging to the Order may be received into the Masonic Lodges of Illuminism—The Prefect will carefully watch lest any of these strangers should take the lead in the Lodges.—They should as far as possible be honest men, sedate, and quiet; but by some means or other they should be made useful to the Order.—Without leave of the Provincial, the Prefect shall hold no correspondence on matters relating to the Order with any person out of his province—as his peculiar object will be, to watch over and to instruct the Superiors of the Minerval and Masonic Lodges, he will have recourse to the Provincial in all doubtful cases of any importance.

"Let the Prefect make himself perfect master of these rules; let him follow them with precision; let him always attend to the whole of the object; let him take care that each one may attend to his duty, doing neither more nor less than the law requires; and he will find in this instruction all that is necessary for the regulation of his conduct."

Such is the promise which terminates the laws for the Prefect of Illuminism. The five articles treated of in these regulations are prefaced by a far more pompous promise: "If, it is said, we have exactly foreseen every thing relating to these five articles, nothing will be impossible for us in any country under the Sun." 7

p. 557


557:1 Should any adept wish for a specimen of this miserable farce, let him figure to himself an assembly of Epopts in their sacredotal habits. The Delegate opens the piece by Domine aperi os meum: The two Assistants repeat the same—The Plenipotentiary Fili mi quid postulas? The Delegate Ut Deus et Superiores nostri concedant nobis Decanum hunc quem ad te duco.—Plenip. Habetis decretum?—Habemus—Legatur—Communi voto atque consensu superiorum elegimus nobis in Decanum Fratrem N. N. Presbiterum Nostræ Provinciæ, Majoris Ordinis verum atque prudentem hospitalem, moribus ornatum, sapientem, illuminatum et mansuetum, Deo et superioribus nostris per omnia placentemque ad Celsitudinis vestræ dignitatem p. 557 adducere, quatenus autore Domino nobis velut idoneus Decanus præ-esse valeat ut prodesse, nosque sub ejus sapienti regimine in securitate ac quiete magnis scientiis aliisque operibus curare possimus—Plenip. Disposuisti domui tuæ?—The Elect Disposui—Nosti quanta sit Decani cura et qua pœna infligantur infideles et delatores?—Duce the Domine Ego auctoritate superiorum inductus firmiter sub interminatione anathematis, inhibeo tibi, ne quid de scientiis occultis, vel secreta tibi revelanda abducas, surripias, vel alicui profano communices. Si tu autem aliquid attentare præsumseris, maledictus eris in domo et extra domum, maledictus in civitate et in agro, maledictus vigilando et dormiendo, maledictus manducando et bibendo, maledictus ambulando et sedendo, maledicta erunt caro et ossa, et sanitatem non habebis à planta pedis usque ad verticem. Veniat tunc super te maledictio quam per Moysen in lege filio iniquitatis Dominus promisit. Deleatur nomen tuum in libro viventium, et cum justis non amplius scribatur, fiat pars et hereditas tua cum Cain fratricida, cum Dathan et Abiron, cum Anania et Saphira, cum Simone Mago et Juda proditore. Vide ergo ne quid feceris, quo anathema mereris.—Here follow the imposition of hands, the exhortations, and the benedictions, all in Latin. The Officiator, extending his hands again on the head of the Elect, terminates the ceremony with the following words: Sicut ros Hermon qui descendit in montem Sion, sic desecendat super te Dei summae sapientiæ benedictio (see the last works of Spartacus—Nachricht von Weihung eines Decani).—What execrable impiety must the Sect have infused into its Epopts to expect that such an impious derision of the Scriptures and of the most sacred rites could give them pleasure? Let not the reader think that I have exaggerated this barbarous cant. The whole ceremony is a buffoonery of the lowest class. Impiety depraves every thing, even the taste for literature.

557:2 Instructions C for the Regents, and No. I-X.

557:3 Kann der Präfect die fürstlichen Dicasterien und Räthe nach und nach mit eifrigen ordens mitgliedern besetzen, so hat er alles gethan, was er thun konte. Es ist mehr, als wenn er den fürsten selbst aufgenommen hätte.

557:4 Orig. Writ. Vol. II. 2d Jan. 1785.

557:5 Ibid.—Weishaupt's Let. 15th March, 1781.

557:6 Geschichte der illumin. Grad. Page 66.

557:7 Ist nun in diessen fünf stücken alles gehörig besorgt, so ist in iedem lande unter der sonne nichts unmöglich—The whole of this Chapter is extracted from the Instructions C for the Prefect, from Page 145 to 166.

Next: Chapter XVII. Instructions for the Provincial