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of the 17th century and other causes, England had proceeded a long way in this direction, but in France no step had been made, for the government of the country was still an absolute monarchy; the nobility, clergy, and officials of the Third Estate were practically exempt from the burden of taxation, which fell on those least able to support it; and in one reign the expenses of government had risen from twenty millions to over a hundred millions.*

In spite of Mrs Webster's conviction that the French Revolution was an unnecessary catastrophe brought about by the Illuminati, no country is likely to remain quiet in which the ordinary farmer is mulcted of 82 per cent. of his income in taxes and dues.f Mere reforms in Mrs Webster's sense, 'concessions by the King'or by 'an aristocracy far from intractable,' could not meet the case, for the force of thought had already sapped the structure to which reform was to be applied. We must not be persuaded by Mrs Webster to forget that a great deal of idealism went to the making of the French Revolution. The democratic watchwords, Liberty, Fraternity, Equality, conjured up in men's minds a radiant Utopia, for the realisation of which any sacrifice was justified. As a matter of history, we know that these ideals were found to be mutually destructive in practice; the harmony that seemed to exist in the Lodges became the conflict of the Clubs. We ourselves live in a day of utter disillusion; and, if it is difficult to call up or even vividly to remind ourselves of the ideal aims for which the volunteers of 1914 offered themselves gladly to death, how much less can we realise the uplift of heart that inspired those architects of a new world in which privilege and injustice should be eradicate? We have to face the fact that it is the tendency of democracy to jump forward in sanguine onrushes, and then to fall back in dismal uninspired reactions, and to remind ourselves constantly and above all things that its only corrective is experience.

Secular experiments in Communism have shown Liberty and Equality to be incompatibles, and have resulted in failure mainly because men are what they


Acton, Lectures on the French Revolution,' p. 1. + G. L. Dickinson, 'Revolution and Reaction in Modern France,' p. 5.

are and not what they ought to be. Communistic schemes can only work when men are uniformly trained to be what they ougbt to be. Devotion to a religious ideal alone enables men so to subordinate individual caprice and passion as to live in harmony and equality with others. If religious motive is absent, any communistic authorities worthy of their creed must inevitably wish to put babies into official nurseries and girls of marriageable age into state harems, and allot them to men by rotation, since beauty must have no unfair advantage over ugliness. All the schemes which Plato, Weishaupt, Fourier, and others have fathered for breaking the link between mother and child and for the communisation of women are but recipes for rooting out individualism, which at the bottom is the source of inequality. No further proof is required of the absurdity of lay communism than this, that all that is best in human nature has to be frustrated and suppressed in order to call into existence that grim vacuum the Communist State.

There is nothing really to be afraid of in such schemes as these, provided they are put before a nation with a solid groundwork of education and civilisation behind it and practical experience of self-government. Russia fell an easy prey to the ideologist because it was in our Western sense uncivilised, uneducated, and without responsible self-government. Like France a hundred and forty years earlier, it was stationary under institutional government instead of progressive under constitutional government. In a chapter entitled The Growth of Socialism,'

• under sub-title headed The Philosophers,' Mrs

• Webster deals in true modern propagandist fashion with Owen, Saint Simon, Marx, and others. Lecky, in 'Democracy and Liberty,' covers the same ground as Mrs Webster, but does so from that dispassionate standpoint which gives to his historical work its element of permanent value as a contribution to human knowledge. It is difficult to think of Robert Owen, that champion of factory laws and promoter of Montessori methods, as an Illuminist; but Mrs Webster "attributes' Owen's objections to Christianity to his being 'secretly' a disciple of Weishaupt. By no other means,' she says, 'can his campaign of militant atheism be explained. . . . It is


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easy to see whence he derived his theories. With the object, one supposes, of proving him a Communist, she goes out of her way to deny that he founded the co operative system, and states that this was done by the Rochdale pioneers in 1844. Whether Owen founded the system which eventually proved workable or not, a London Co-operative Society was started in 1824, where • Owenites' disputed with J. S. Mill and others. Ower took part in seven co-operative congresses between 1830 and 1834, and at the very least had a great effect ir stimulating the movement in this country. Some sever hundred small co-operative societies were started in England before 1844, but they vanished, partly because they were run on the credit system, and partly because of the business ignorance of the men who ran them. A: one reads Mrs Webster's account of these experimenters a disagreeable feeling comes over one that she canno bring herself to say anything good of any one she believes to be an Illuminate. Here is an example. Saint Simor is described as a man of unbalanced brain,' who early

threw himself into wild excesses,' led the life of ar adventurer of gold and glory,' but after a while, weary of orgies,' turned his attention to the regeneration of the world. She states but half the case ; for who woulē gather from this summary that Saint Simon had fought with distinction in five campaigns of the American War of Independence, or that he had commanded for a short time a French regiment, or, indeed, that he had conceivec the brilliant idea of driving a canal through the isthmus of Panama? Mrs Webster "attributes' Illuminism to Owen, because his atheism can be accounted for in nc other way; and to Saint Simon because, faithful to the directions of Weishaupt,' he set out to prove in his book · Le Nouveau Christianisme '' that his system was simply the fulfilment of Christ's teaching on the brotherhood of man' (p. 105).

As a matter of cold fact, Saint Simon clearly realised, in spite of his unbalanced brain, that the social organisation of the Middle Ages-the product of an authoritative Church and the Feudal System-was crumbling, as an outworn building crumbles, to decay, and that the prime task of thinkers was to rebuild society in the interests of the workers.

He dreamt of a federated Europe, an


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International Parliament, a League of Nations-some of us do so still; but Mrs Webster dismisses him and his dreams as merely 'a variation of our old friend Babouvisme.' But was Saint Simonism merely this? Babeuf, too, was mad, far madder than Saint Simon, and was the first, in an age when privilege was the only enemy, to introduce Socialism proper into politics. He proposed to transfer all property to the State, which in itself made testamentary disposition impossible. He wished to prohibit foreign trade and so to organise domestic industry as to make it sufficient for the necessities of the nation. Dress, food, lodging were all to be regulated under his scheme, which was to be inaugurated by a massacre and the cancellation of all debts. Babouvism, like Bolshevism, was Communism introduced by confiscation and maintained by despotism. Saint Simonism differs from Babouvism in advocating peaceful methods of transition, progressive increase of death duties, the gradual conversion of private to public property; and it is this scheme that has influenced indirectly the current of modern thought.

Mrs Webster evidently does not hold with the dream that enthralled so many 18th-century idealists—the Perfectibility of Human Nature. People who base schemes on such an assumption may be mad, but they are not always bad; and that is where one joins issue with Mrs Webster. To drag Christ in (p. 105) to prove 'the fallacy' of such a delusion'as perfectibility, or the solidarity of labour, seems rather unnecessary and beside the point. It is surprising to learn that lessons of such far-reaching importance were embodied in the simple parable of the servant forgiven a debt by his master.

According to Mrs Webster, it is not only the social reformers who are mad or rather bad. The German patriots of the 18th and 19th centuries were also, it appears, Illuminates.

"The German Union,' says Mrs Webster, 'was only the Illuminati under another name.' Now Bahrdt, the founder of this nationalist and rationalist society, was also said by Barruel and Robison to be an Illuminate ; but Heckethorn (1, 316) says that these two authors 'not only mistranslated many passages taken from Babrdt's works, but have, evidently intentionally, so twisted others to their own purpose—that of abusing Vol. 237.- No. 470.






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their author—that their statements as far as they refer to Bahrdt ... are of very little value.' Mrs Webster goes on to say that the Tugendbund and the Burschenschaft, by means of which German patriots hoped to revive the national spirit and rebuild their country after the debacle of Jena, 'were started on much the same lines as the Illuminati'; that the doctrines of the Tugendbund 'were those of Clootz and Marat'; and that they developed into a further order known as the German Association, Masonic, and therefore subversive in character. The question that occurs to one is : Did Mrs Webster merely take Deschamps' word for all this, or did she investigate the matter independently and come to the same conclusions? It is surely as sorry a travesty of truth to state that societies with such admittedly different aims are identical in inspiration, as to declare that the national sentiment latent in all German hearts' could (in 1809) be appropriated by Illuminists to overthrow all powers and nationalities? Surely Mrs Webster has lost all sense of relativity, and is projecting the future back into a past, transformed to meet her intuitive anticipation of the needs of the present day. Relentlessly, however, she goes on to draw a moral from her tale. • It is here that for the first time we can clearly detect the connexion between Prussianism and the secret forces of World Revolution' (p. 83); and further, the connexion between Prussianism and Illuminism can therefore be detected from the beginning, but with the Tugendbund appears in the clear light of day' (p. 85).

But we are not at the end of the plot yet. Mrs Webster infers—and in this she is in agreement with her forerunners-that a German, or rather Illuminist, conspiracy of history' has existed to this day, which • through the instrumentality of such agents as Carlyle maintained the prestige of Frederick the Great in order to smooth the path for his successors' (p. 84). No great mental agility is required of us to draw an inference bearing on the war of 1914; but we are perhaps entitled to inquire whether, if that war had not taken place, we should have found that sentence in print to-day.

If one were a psycho-analyst one would be disposed to hazard that three leading complexes lie half-dormant in Mrs Webster's sub-conscious mind, which impel her in



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