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Still, though no Rosicrucian college existed in England more than in Germany, there was little want of Rosicrucians, that being quite another thing, as we have shown already. The leaders of the sect, Dr. Flood, John Pordage, and the two Nortons, all of whom are duly recorded by Wood in his Athenæ Oxonienses, had the mania of proselytizing strong upon them, and were indefatigable in the promulgation of their doctrines. Flood, by far the ablest of them, had the misfortune to fall into the hands of Gassendi, who took up the cudgels for his friend, Mersenne, when the latter had been routed, and with no little loss, by the doctor. But though Gassendi did his best to castigate Flood, he did not altogether spare his friend, Mersenne, even while throwing his ægis over him-whether from candour or from policy is another question. Remarking upon the acerbity of Flood's style, he yet delicately hints to Mersenne, that he has given a handle for it himself, inasmuch as he has been somewhat pungent in his own remarks; and he then goes on to say that much as he admires his zeal, still it is very hard for any one living in a Christian land to hear himself called “a foul magician, the doctor and teacher of a horrid stinking magic," to say nothing of the charge of heresy and atheism.* These are things, he says, which might stir the patience of a Rufinus or a Hieronymus; and possibly the reader will be of the same opinion.
*"Sane verò hoc, mi Mersenne, negare non licet, quin tu ipse ita scribendi ansam aliquam feceris. Reverà enim dici potes paulo acriùs illum tetigisse. Ac zelus quidem, quo evectus es, commendari cum debeat, attamen te latere non potest quin admodùm durum sit viventi in Christiano orbe appellari Cacomagum, Hæretico-Magum, seu, fætida et horrenda Magia Doctorem et propagatorem ; audire, non esse ferendum hujusmodi doctorem impune...ut nihil dicam de Atheïsmo atque Hæresi quam tu quoque objicis Fluddo!" Fluddana Philosophic Examen.-P. Gassendi Opera, tom. iii. p. 215, folio. Lugduni, 1658.
A conflict begun in so much bitterness was not likely to die away for want of fuel. In a short time it spread, like an Irish fray, from individuals to the multitude, and what Benedict styles "the paper-bullets of the brain," flew fast and thick on all sides. Naude, Valentine Alberti, Irenæus Agnostus, and Heaven knows how many others,* dull and witty, learned and unlearned, credulous and sceptical, now poured like two opposing torrents into the field, 'till, after the expenditure of much ink and some humour on the part of the assailants, the poor Rosicrusians were utterly put to the rout. So complete, indeed, was their discomfiture, that they were fain to drop a name which had become contemptible, and shroud themselves under the title of Sapientes. "We R. C." says Flood, in reply to the terrible Gassendi, who had been soundly pommelling him in his Examen-"We brothers R. C., formerly thus called, but whom we now term Sapientes, that name being laid aside as odious to wretched mortals covered with the veil of ignorance,"† &c.
But even this appellation does not seem to have lasted long, or to have been very general, for we soon lose every trace of it, and most probably because it was swallowed
* As some readers may be curious on this subject, I subjoin the names of a few only of such publications. 1. Roseæ-Crucis, das ist Bedenken der gesambten Societet von dem verdekten scribtore F. Menapio, 12mo. 1619. The place of publication not mentioned, but two other similar tracts form part of the same volume. Menapius was the assumed name of Alberti, and the name of Schweighardt is jestingly affixed to the third tract. 2. Fons Gratiæ, &c. Durch Irenæum Agnostum, 1619,-no place of publication, 12mo. 3. Portus Tranquillitatis, &c. by the same, 1620, 12mo. 4. Chymische Hochzeit, 12mo. 1616. This is one of Andrea's anonymous attacks upon the Fraternity.
"Fratres, inquam, R.C. (olim sic dicti), quos nos hodiè Sapientes vocamus, omisso illo nomine tanquam odioso, miseris mortalibus velo ignorantiæ obductis, et in oblivione hominum jam fere sepulto." Clavis Philosophiæ, p. 50, folio, Francofurti, 1633.
up in the new Fraternity of Freemasons, which now seems to have sprung out of Rosicrucianism and the yearly meeting of Astrologers. It is about this time that we have the first authentic reports of Masonic Lodges in the modern acceptation of the term, not as designating a guild of workmen, but a body of philosophers with whom building and its various implements were used only as a myth, as external symbols, the outward and visible signs of concealed truth. A variety of concurrent circumstances seem to prove this; and particularly the quiet extinction of the Sapientes or Sophees, and as also of the Astrologers' Meeting, the sudden recognized appearance of lodges, and the avowed character of the first known members as Paracelsists; for Fludd, Ashmole, Pordage, and others, were all ardent Rosicrucians in principle, though the name was no longer owned by them. Still this does not give us the date of the first Freemasons with the exactness that might be desired, and I fear it will be in vain to look for it. The German Freemasons at Wilhelmsbad in 1782, and the Lodge of the Contract Social at Paris, in 1787, each summoned a general meeting of the Brethren from all countries, to enquire into the time and manner of their origin, but, as might have been expected, to no purpose. The founders in their wish to establish a descent from the oldest times, as the best means of sanctifying their claims to superior wisdom, had taken care to leave no traces of their origin. In the absence, therefore, of all that is positive, we must try what can be done by negative proof and by the help of circumstantial evidence; we shall thus come quite near enough to the period of their origin for any useful purpose. Through the rest of this enquiry we shall use the word, mason, as designating the workman, and the word Freemason, as signifying the philosopher who employs masonry for the mythus of his order; thus too, we shall adopt guild to express the society of the former, and lodge or brotherhood, to denote
the fraternity of the latter; such distinctions are not perhaps quite correct in point of fact, but they will be sufficient to make the reader clearly understand of which party we are speaking, and with that view only are they adopted.
The sum of the Freemasons' doctrine, to simplify the subject as much as possible, is that their society combined originally two principles, the practical part of building, which they also used as a myth, and a knowledge of certain divine and philosophic truths denied to the rest of mankind. According to some of them, both the mystery and the order itself originated in the building of the tower of Babel; according to others, they both came from Adam, who, whatever else he may have been, certainly does not seem, for anything we know, to have been a builder. We had better therefore begin at Babel, whence they tell us the art was carried into Egypt, and there Hiram, the grand master, learnt it and brought it to Jerusalem. But here in the outset we come suddenly upon a stumbling-block. Did the Egyptians receive only that part of Freemasonry, which relates to building, or did they also receive the diviner and philosophic portions? If we adopt the latter supposition, we must then believe that the idolatrous Egyptians had a purer code of morals, and a nearer knowledge of the Deity than any Christians, who have not the good fortune to be Freemasons. As such a creed would hardly suit the brotherhood, we will imagine that the building part of the story alone came from Babel through the Egyptians. But how then was the diviner part of the mystery transmitted from Adam to Solomon ? It is plain too that the Jewish monarch knew nothing of practical masonry, since he was obliged to call in Hiram to his assistance. Are we then to suppose that Solomon united his speculative wisdom to the mechanic knowledge of the Tyrian, and thus produced Freemasonry? What on earth was gained by the union of speculative wisdom with
a mechanic occupation? But, say the Freemasons, it was the Masons who taught mankind every art and science. Aye, indeed! in that case, as Solomon was not a mason, it must have been the pagan Hiram-the builder of temples to Hercules and Astarte, the worshipper of Jupiter,— who first taught the Christian art of Freemasonry, and not Solomon.
As we proceed the same sort of difficulties follows us, and increases at every step. The art of Masonry never was a secret, since it was openly practised and taught both by Greeks and Romans, and therefore could have formed no essential part of Freemasonry; here then breaks down all connexion between the brotherhood and the building of Solomon's temple, except as a mere myth, under which they concealed their philosophy. But where and with whom did the secret lie hid through those ages, when the whole civilized world was either Pagan or Judaic? if not preserved amongst the heathens—a very untenable position-it must have remained in the hands of the Jews, and this, as regards its preservation up to a certain period, seems to be the masonic doctrine, for Oliver in his Antiquities (p. 16,) tells us that Pythagoras*
Surely this philosopher has been much over-rated. It has been considered a great merit in him that he discovered the earth went round the sun; but did he discover it, or only imagine it? was it a proved calculation, or a mere suggestion of the fancy? the two things are widely different. Friar Bacon many hundred years ago imagined the possibility of human beings flying, but this supposition was no discovery. In the same way any one may have an idea that the principle of a perpetual motion is no fallacy, but he has not the more for that found it out.
As regards the metempsychosis, it is hard to say what Pythagoras understood by it. If he really believed that the soul was a self-existent entity, independent of matter, and flying from one organization to another, as each was dissolved, he must have been a mere dreamer. But this may possibly have been nothing more than a mode of conveying to the uninformed the simple and sublime truth that soul is