Webster Nesta Helen - Secret Societies and Subversive Movements

Author : Webster Nesta Helen (Mrs. Arthur Webster)
Title : Secret Societies and Subversive Movements
Year : 1924

Link download : Webster_Nesta_Helen_-_Secret_Societies_and_Subversive_Movements.zip

PREFACE. It is a matter of some regret to me that I have been so far unable to continue the series of studies on the French Revolution of which The Chevalier de Boufflers and The French Revolution, a Study in Democracy formed the first two volumes. But the state of the world at the end of the Great War seemed to demand an enquiry into the present phase of the revolutionary movement, hence my attempt to follow its course up to modern times in World Revolution. And now before returning to that first cataclysm I have felt impelled to devote one more book to the Revolution as a whole by going this time further back into the past and attempting to trace its origins from the first century of the Christian era. For it is only by taking a general survey of the movement that it is possible to understand the causes of any particular phase of its existence. The French Revolution did not arise merely out of conditions or ideas peculiar to the eighteenth century, nor the Bolshevist Revolution out of political and social conditions in Russia or the teaching of Karl Marx. Both these explosions were produced by forces which, making use of popular suffering and discontent, had long been gathering strength for an onslaught not only on Christianity, but on all social and moral order. It is of immense significance to notice with what resentment this point of view is met in certain quarters. When I first began to write on revolution a well-known London publisher said to me, "Remember that if you take an anti-revolutionary line you will have the whole literary world against you." This appeared to me extraordinary. Why would the literary world sympathize with a movement which from the French Revolution onwards has always been directed against literature, art, and science, and has openly proclaimed its aim to exalt the manual workers over the intelligentsia? " Writers must be proscribed as the most dangerous enemies of the people," said Robespierre; his colleague Dumas said all clever men should be guillotined. "The system of persecution against man of talents was organized.... They cried out in the sections of Paris, 'Beware of that man for he has written a book ! ' " Precisely the same policy has been followed in Russia. Under Moderate Socialism in Germany the professors, not the "people," are starving in garrets. Yet the whole press of our country is permeated with subversive influences. Not merely in partisan works, but in manuals of history or literature for use in schools! Burke is reproached for warning us against the French Revolution and Carlyle's panegyric is applauded. And whilst every slip on the part of an anti-revolutionary writer is seized on by the critics and held up as an example of the whole, the most glaring errors not only of conclusions but of facts pass unchallenged if they happen to be committed by a partisan of the movement. The principle laid down by Collot d'Herbois still holds good: " Tout est permis pour quiconque agit dans sens de la révolution." All this was unknown to me when I first embarked on my work. I knew that French writers of the past had distorted facts to suit their own political views, that a conspiracy of history is still directed by certain influences in the masonic lodges and the Sorbonne; I did not know that this conspiracy was being carried on in this country. Therefore the publisher's warning did not daunt me. If I was wrong either in my conclusions or facts I was prepared to be challenged. Should not years of laborious historical research meet either with recognition or with reasoned and scholarly refutation? But although my book received a great many generous and appreciative reviews in the press, criticisms which were hostile took a form which I had never anticipated. Not a single honest attempt was made to refute either my French Revolution or World Revolution by the usual methods of controversy; statements founded on documentary evidence were met with flat contradiction unsupported by a shred of counter evidence. In general the plan adopted was not to disprove, but to discredit by means of flagrant misquotations, by attributing me views I had never expressed, or even by means of offensive personalities. It will surely be admitted that this method of attack is unparalleled in any other sphere of literary controversy. It is interesting to notice that precisely the same line was adopted a hundred years ago with regard to Professor Robison and the Abbé Barruel, whose works on the secret causes of the French Revolution created an immense sensation in their day. The legitimate criticism that might have been made on their work find no place in the diatribes levelled against them; their enemies content themselves merely with calumnies and abuse, A contemporary American writer, Seth Payson, thus describes the methods employed to discredit them: The testimony of Professor Robison and Abbé Barruel would doubtless have been considered as ample in any case which did not interest the prejudices and passions of men against them. The scurrility and odium with which they have been loaded is perfectly natural and what the nature of their testimony would have led one to expect. Men will endeavour to invalidate that evidence which tends to unveil their dark designs: and it cannot be expected that those who believe that " the end sanctifies the means " will be very scrupulous as to their measures. Certainly he was not who invented the following character and arbitrarily applied it to Dr. Robison, which might have been applied with as much propriety to any other person in Europe or America. The character here referred to, is taken from the American Mercury, printed at Hartford, September 26, 1799, by E. Babcock. In this paper, on the pretended authority of professor Ebeling, we are told "that Robison had lived to fast for his income, and to supply deficiencies had undertaken to alter a bank bill, that he was detected and fled to France; that having been expelled the Lodge in Edinburgh, he applied in France for a second grade, but was refused; that he made the same attempt in Germany and afterwards in Russia, but never succeeded; and from this entertained the bitterest hatred to masonry; that after wandering about Europe for two years, by writing to Secretary Dundas, and presenting a copy of his book which, it was judged, would answer certain purposes of the ministry, the prosecution against him was stopped, the Professor returned in triumph to his country, and now lives upon a handsome pension, instead of suffering the fate of his predecessor Dodd. Payson goes on to quote a writer in The National Intelligencer of January 1801, who styles himself a " friend to truth " and speaks of Professor Robison as " a man distinguished by abject dependence on a party, by the base crimes of forgery and adultery, and by frequent paroxysms of insanity." Mounier goes further still, and in his pamphlet De l'influence attribuée aux Philosophes,... Francs-maçons et... Illuminés, etc., inspired by the Illuminatus Bode, quotes a story that Robison suffered from a form of insanity which consisted in his believing that the posterior portion of his body was made of glass ! In support of all this farrago of nonsense there is of course no foundation of truth; Robison was a wellknown savant who lived sane and respected to the end of his days. On his death Watt wrote of him: " He was a man of the clearest head and the most science of anybody I have ever known." John Playfair, in a paper read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1815, whilst criticizing his Proofs of a Conspiracy -though at the same time admitting he had himself never had access to the documents Robison had consulted- paid the following tribute to his character and erudition: His range in science was most extensive; he was familiar with the whole circle of the accurate sciences.... Nothing can add to the esteem which they i.e. " those who were personally ac... felt for his talents and worth or to the respect in which they now hold his memory. Nevertheless, the lies circulated against both Robison and Barruel were not without effect. Thirteen years later we find another American, this time a Freemason, confessing " with shame and grief and indignation " that he had been carried away by " the flood of vituperation poured upon Barruel and Robison during the past thirty years," that the title pages of their works " were fearful to him," and that although " wishing calmly and candidly to investigate the character of Freemasonry he refused for months to open their books." Yet when in 1827 he read them for the first time he was astonished to find that they showed " a manifest tendency towards Freemasonry." Both Barruel and Robison, he now realized, were " learned men, candid men, lovers of their country, who had a reverence for truth and religion. They give the reasons for their opinions, they quote their authorities, naming the author and page, like honest people; they both had a wish to rescue British Masonry from the condemnation and fellowship of continental Masonry and appear to be sincerely actuated by the desire of doing good by giving their labours to the public." ...

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