B. Pages 153 – 162.
1. Pp. 153-157.
Prussia was a Protestant Kingdom. Frederic was a philosopher, in the meaning of that word at that day, holding the opinions of Voltaire, Rousseau, d’Alembert, Condorcet and others. He was opposed to all tyranny over the conscience, and of course to Papism. To prevent the extension of Romanism in Germany, and to limit the power and dominions of Austria, were the great purposes of his life. Within his own kingdom he resolved to govern, and did govern everything. It will be seen that, towards the last of his life, he had reasons for wishing to control the Masonic Order.
Frederic’s greatest merit in the cause of Germany was in warding off the last comprehensive plan of the Roman church for the conversion of the Protestants. He preserved Germany from the attempt of Maria Theresa to make Catholicism the religion of the Empire. Vehse, Court of Prussia.
The Country of the Elector Palatine was under a Papal Sovereign, of the bigoted line of the House of Neuberg. The Elector of Saxony had returned to the fold of the Roman church in 1697, when the crown of Poland was put on his head.
In the 18th century, the Church of Rome attempted by intrigue to bring Germany back to the fold. Snares were laid for Wurtemberg and Hesse Cassel. These Frederic thwarted.
The Jesuits were spread over Germany, from the Palatinate and Swabia, through Franconia and the Rhenish Provinces, and extended into Westphalia, Saxony and Silesia.
Frederic, in 1749, still allied with France, endeavored to make head against the Austro- Jesuit movement, with the help of the Courts of the Palatinate and Cologne.
He secured the Protestant religion in Wurtemberg and Hesse Cassel. It was owing to him alone that the Elector of Hesse Cassel, William, who succeeded in 1785, was a Protestant. When, in 1753, the Heir Presumptive of the Dukedom of Wurtemberg married the Princess of Brandenburg-Schwedt, Frederic insisted on a pledge in the marriage contract, that the children of the marriage should be brought up in the Protestant religion. Their son Frederick I., King of Wurtemberg, succeeding in 1797, became, after sixty-five years, the first Protestant ruler of that Kingdom.
Frederic’s interference in these affairs, excited against him the Roman Catholic Potentates of Europe, whose spirit of revenge was formidably manifested in the coalition of 1756, when Austria and France united for his destruction. The principal motive which actuated Louis XV. in forming this coalition, was a religious one. This the papers of the Duke de Choiseul prove. His object was to crush Frederic and Protestantism. Frederic saved Germany in 1756, by the resolute stand he made against the House of Hapsburg.
Yet he tolerated and protected the Catholics, in his own Kingdom; and the Jesuits, when they were expelled from all other European countries. He allowed freedom of speech and of printing, — freedom of speech even in political matters; freedom of the press in regard to everything except matters of State. He even invited the Jesuits banished from other countries, to come to Prussia.
The friendship of Frederic for Voltaire, and their long and intimate correspondence are well known. He had great regard for the other writers who were engaged, during the latter part of his life, in promulgating liberal opinions in France, and consequently he must have approved of the principles taught in the Masonic Lodges, of which men like Helvetius and Franklin were members; of the principles of the real Scottish Masonry: for these principles were his own.
Frederic II., says Schlosser, had the best reasons for taking the Jesuits in Silesia under his protection, of whose schools, besides, Voltaire gave him the most favorable account. Prussia did not possess Münster or Posen, portions of the Archbishopric of Treves or Cologne, and had therefore nothing to fear from Romish influence, and would otherwise have been obliged to make large contributions from the public treasury for the purposes of education, of which the Jesuits took charge without pecuniary aid. He was in truth perfectly indifferent what his subjects thought or believed, provided they only served, paid taxes, and were obedient. Hist. of the 18th Century, iv. 462.
In November, 1780, Joseph II. ascended the throne of Austria. He desired to obtain possession of Bavaria, for which, in 1785, he proposed to exchange Belgium. His plan was favoured by Russia, and the Elector Charles-Theodore; to prevent which, Frederic formed a Confederation, known as the Germanic League, among the principal Powers of Germany, and thus defeated it. The treaty between them was signed on the 23d of July, 1785, the parties being Prussia, and the Electors of Saxony and Hanover. It was afterwards joined by the Elector of Mentz, the Duke of Deux-ponts, as heir presumptive of Bavaria, Hesse-Cassel, Brunswick, Baden, Saxe-Gotha and Weimar, by Anspach and Baireuth, the Duke of Mecklenburg, the Princes of Anhalt-Dessau, Bernberg and Cöthin and the Prince-Bishop of Osnabruck. Its object was to maintain the Constitution of the German Empire, and check the ambitious designs of the Court of Austria. 2 Vehse, Court of Austria, translated by Demmler, 436.
The Free Masons were, in 1785, numerous enough to make their support desirable, either to Austria or Prussia. Each sought it.
Vehse says, (Court of Austria, ii. 312, trans. of Demmler,) that Joseph II. put himself at the head of the Secret Orders, partly from vanity, and partly for the purpose of using them. The Free Masons and Illuminati, he says, “were made the tools of his plans for the acquisition of Bavaria.” The Barons Bassus, Costanza and Knigge, while thinking they subserved the Order of Free Masonry, were the dupes of Joseph, “until Frederic opened their eyes.”
How did he open their eyes? or, rather, how did he bring the influence of the Masonry of which these men were the chiefs, over from Joseph II. to himself? We think it was by the sensible and effective measure of putting himself at their head. If he did so, the Constitutions of 1786 were a natural result.
The question whether Frederic did put himself at the head of the Free Masonry of the higher degrees, and form a scale which rejected all those invented in Germany, including those of the Rite of Strict Observance, the Eclectic Rite and the Illuminati, is one of probability. To decide it, one must understand what was the condition of Free Masonry and Illuminism in Germany, and especially in Prussia, in 1785 and 1786.
On the 19th of August, 1773, the celebrated brief of Pope Clement XIV was published, which abolished the Order of Jesuits all over the world. “The abolition of the Order operated precisely in the same manner in Bavaria and in the other blind countries of the Catholic or rather Ecclesiastical States of Germany, as the removal of the Archbishop of Cologne,” Schlosser says, “a few years ago, — the darkness became thicker than before. The ex-Jesuits, now become Martyrs, proved more dangerous and pernicious in the form of an opposition which creeps into Secret Societies, and assumes a thousand protean forms, than they had previously been as a dominant and envied power. . . . It was principally the Jesuits, who, under Leopold and Francis, destroyed all the fruits of Joseph’s exertions and labors in Austria; and true to the spirit of the casuistry which they had learned in their Order, they continued to offer a hypocritical homage to enlightenment during the reign of Joseph, and distinguished themselves under the following reigns by a foul system of espionage, calumny and accusations.” — Schlosser, iv. 459 – 461.
The Bishops in Bavaria were especially enraged at the abolition of the Order, and protected and aided the Jesuits. The Saxon Prince, Clement, Bishop of Treves and Augsburg, had a Jesuit for Confessor, and was completely surrounded by the Order; and all its fanatics were collected in Augsburg and Dillingen, and there railed against Protestants from the pulpits. Charles Theodore of the Palatinate allowed the same at Heidelberg and Dusseldorf. In Bavaria, the ex-Jesuits continued to be the favorites at Court, and Frank, the King’s Confessor, exercised unlimited powers over his Sovereign, until his death in 1795.
Of course it was foreseen that the Jesuits would labor assiduously for the restoration of the Order. The result was, that “a design was entertained in Bavaria of instituting another Secret Society to oppose the secret association of the Jesuits in favor of ignorance and superstition; and for the maintenance of what its founders called knowledge and light; and whose members therefore were to be distinguished as the Illuminati.” These were anxious to prevent the restoration of the Order of Jesus, “and therefore their struggle for life and death with the Jesuits and Papism, which appears incapable of maintaining its ground without Jesuits.” Schlosser, iv. 463, 4.
The impartial account of the Illuminati given by Schlosser is entitled to full credit. He says, after speaking of Weishaupt, Knigge and others: “As to the associations themselves, we can neither say so much evil of the Free Masons and the Illuminati, as Barruel and Germans of his stamp have said, nor bestow upon them such commendations as the enemies of the Jesuits and their doctrines are accustomed to do.” He very sensibly remarks that the men, their Orders, and the longing after secret initiations and revelations, were not the causes, but the effects of a new order of things, that had been slowly developing itself.
Robison (Proofs of a Conspiracy), is generally correct in the account he gives of the establishment of the different Rites and bodies in Germany. In regard to the principles, either of these organizations or of the Illuminati, he argues like a prosecuting attorney, and his conclusions do not always legitimately flow from the evidence which he produces.
The Lodge des Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Sainte Cité, at Lyons, in France, was the most zealous and systematic of all the Cosmopolitan Lodges, and erected many Lodges in France, and granted constitutions to many in Germany. In 1769 and 1770, all the Lodges in Alsace and Lorraine put themselves under its patronage; and one of its daughter-lodges, Theodor von der guten Rach,(1) at Munich, was suppressed by the Elector of Bavaria in 1786. It had others at Regensberg, Spire and Worms.
2. Pp. 160 – 162.
Barruel, a Catholic, in his “Memoires pour servir a la Histoire du Jacobinisme,” iv. 302, says that the Germanic Union was “a new coalition formed by the principal Adepts of Illuminism, and disastrously famous in Germany;” and, at p. 291, speaks of “that threat of Weishaupt that he would conquer, or rather destroy the Strict Observance and the Rose Croixes.” When General Count Pappenheim, Governor of Ingoldstadt, and Count Leinsheim, Minister, and Vice-President of the Council at Munich, were of the Illuminati, Secret Orders were no longer unworthy of Frederic’s attention.
Weishaupt, writing to Zwack, in January, 1783, sketched a plan for a system of Confederated Masonic Lodges, to furnish candidates for Illuminism, and to get the upper hand of and destroy the Strict Observance. “The most important affair for us,” he said, “is to establish an Eclectic Masonry. With that we have all we wish.” Many Lodges, among them the English Lodge Edessa, of Francfurt, he said, were ready to accede to his plan. In support of this project, he enlisted the Dukes Ferdinand of Brunswick and Charles of Hesse-Cassel and the Prince of Neuwied, and, for a time, Charles Augustus, Duke of Saxe Weimar. Others of its adherents were the Count de Kollowrath, Ernest Louis, Duke of Saxe Gotha, the Count Von Stolberg, uncle of the Prince of Neuwied, and with him the whole of that Court, the Count de Cobentzl, Treasurer at Eichstadt, Sauer, Chancellor of Ratisbon, and Sonnenfels, Councillor and Censor at Vienna. His great obstacles were the jealousy of the Rose Croixes, and that of the Brethren of the Strict Observance, and the Philalethes.(2)
In the new or Eclectic System established at Wilhelmsbad, the Illuminati governed, gained entrance into the Directories, and fraternized with the Brethren of the Strict Observance. The Master of a Lodge (Discours d’un Venérable dur le dernier dort de la Franc-Maçonnerie) lamented this, and said that it was owing to the labors of Bode, and to the assistance given him by Knigge. “To the great astonishment,” he said, “to the great grief of all true Brethren, it was by means of Bode and him, that throughout all Germany, the greatest part of our Lodges were impregnated and infected with this Illuminism.”
In 1783, the Grand Lodge of the Three Globes, at Berlin, by circular letter, anathematized all Brethren who lent themselves to Illuminism; but the letter made little impression; and the chiefs of Illuminism, in their Instructions for the Degree of Illuminatus Dirigens, said, “Of all the Lodges legitimately constituted in Germany, there is but one, that is not united to our Superiors; and that one has had to cease its labors.”
Barruel says, “A more astounding mystery still, and which would seem to be beyond the reach of human faith, if the progress of the Illuminati did not explain it, was the inactivity and species of sleep in which the German Courts remained buried, in the midst of the dangers which that of Bavaria had made so present and so palpable.” Frederic II had died, when the proofs against the Illuminati were discovered; but the Illuminati, Barruel says, accuse him of instigating the Court of Munich to persecute the chiefs and leading adepts. He admits that Frederic himself took no measures against them in his States.
Why did he not? Those who deny that he concerned himself about Masonry, must find a reply, if they can. It is undeniable that he was reputed, even in America, to be at the head of the high degrees; and whenever the meaning of the Camp of the 32nd degree, and of its words(3) is discovered it will be found, we believe, that they have allusion to him as the representative of liberal ideas and the acknowledged head and chief of anti-papism on the Continent of Europe.
1. I.e., Theodor of Good Counsel, the Lodge which is known to have been behind the foundation of the Order of Illuminati. In this context, see Templar Revelation, by Picknett and Prince, in which some discussion of the Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Saint Cité is made in relationship to the Priory of SION.
3. I.e., SALIX NONIS TENGU. For which see Clausen’s Commentaries on Morals and Dogma, p. 209; Mackey’s Encyclopaedia, II, s.v., Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret; and Blanchard’s Scotch [sic] Rite Masonry Illustrated, II, 428 – 444.