The Real History of the Rosicrucians, by Arthur Edward Waite, , at sacred-texts.com
MOST existing theories as to the authorship of the Rosicrucian manifestoes are founded upon plausible assumptions or ingenious conclusions drawn from the doubtful materials of merely alleged facts. Each investigator has approached the subject with an ambitious determination to solve the problem connected with the mysterious Order, but, in the absence of adequate materials, has evolved a new hypothesis, where the supposititious has transfigured what is certain for the satisfaction of individual bias. As a simple historian working in the cause of truth, it is neither my inclination nor my duty to contrive a fresh theory, but rather to state the facts which are in conflict with all theories, and to draw no conclusion unwarranted by the direct evidence in hand.
The Rosicrucian theorists may be broadly divided into three bands--I. Those who believe that the history of Christian Rosencreutz is true in fact, and that the society originated in the manner recounted in the "Fama Fraternitatis." II. Those who regard both the society and its founder as purely mythical, and consider with Leibnitz, "que tout ce que l’on a dit des Frères de la Croix de la Rose, est une pure invention de quelque personne ingenieuse." III. Those who, without accepting the historical truth of the story
of Rosencreutz, believe in the existence of the Rosicrucians as a secret society, which drew attention to the fact of its existence by a singular and attractive fiction.
In the first division are gathered the men of large imagination and abundant faith, who, unawed by historical difficulties, unaffected by discrepancies of fact, and despising the terra damnata of frigid critical methods, are bewitched by romantic associations and the glamour of impenetrable mystery. They love to contemplate the adepts of the Rose-Cross moving silently among the ignorant and vulgar multitude, diffusing light and healing, masters of terrific secrets, having nothing in appearance and yet possessing all things, ever inscrutable, ever intangible, ever vanishing suddenly. The sublime dreams produced by their mystical hachish are undisturbed by the essential shallowness and commonplace of Rosicrucian manifestoes, for they reject authoritative documents, or interpret objectionable passages in an inverted sense.
Insuperable difficulties prevent us from supposing that the "Fama" and "Confessio Fraternitatis" emanated from a secret society whose literal history is contained in them. These difficulties are, for the most part, inherent in the nature of the alleged history, which I undertook in the introduction to prove mythical. It will be unnecessary for this purpose to consider the scientific foundation of Rosicrucian claims. The purse of Fortunatus--that is, the Stone of the Philosophers--the power of transmutation, the existence of elementary spirits, the doctrine of signatures, ever-burning lamps, and vision at a distance, may be possibilities, however remote on the horizon of natural science. There are many things in heaven and on earth which are undreamed of in the philosophy of Horatio, and occultism
is venerable by its antiquity, interesting from its romantic associations, and replete with visionary splendours; but for all this, the fiction of the "Fama" is "monstrous, and betrays itself in every circumstance." 1
Suspicion is immediately raised by the suppression of all names, and the concealment of the headquarters and all "local habitations" of the supposed Society. C. R. C., the hero of the history, journeys to a fabulous Oriental city, called Damcar, which is not Damascus, though the German originals continually confuse it therewith. A great part of this journey is performed alone by a boy of sixteen, who is described as possessing such "skill in physic" that he "obtained much favour of the Turks," and who, after five years’ travelling, returns at the age of twenty-one years to Europe, fired with an inextinguishable ambition to correct the errors of all the arts and to reform the whole philosophia moralis. In Germany he erects a mysterious House of the Holy Spirit, situated apparently in space of three dimensions, besieged by the "unspeakable concourse of the sick," and yet, for the space of nearly two hundred years, completely unknown and unseen by the "wicked world" When the Society was incorporated, and its members despatched on their wanderings, two brethren always remained with the founder, and eight of them were present at his death, yet the secret of his burial-place was completely unknown to the third generation, till its discovery by a newly-initiated member when he was repairing his house, which, nevertheless, does not appear to be the House of the Holy Spirit. The sepulchre has been closed for one hundred and twenty years, and it is found to contain the Vocabularium, Itinerarium, and Life of Paracelsus. Taking 1614 as the year when the Fama"
was published, and supposing the discovery of the burial-place to have ante-dated the manifesto by the shortest possible period, we are brought back to the year 1494, one year after the birth of Paracelsus, whose books it is supposed to contain. This point is, of course, conclusive, and it is unnecessary to comment on the mystery which surrounds the ultimate fate of the corpse of that "godly and high-illuminated Father, Brother C. R. C."
Thus it is obvious that the history of Christian Rosencreutz is not historically true, and that the Society did not originate in the manner which is described by the "Fama."
The theorists of the second and third divisions are in agreement upon several important points, and may, therefore, be considered together. Most of them unite in seeking the author of the Rosicrucian manifestoes among the literati of the period. On the one side they consider him a satirist, or the perpetrator of an imposture or elaborate jest; on the other, they hold him to be the founder of a secret society, or the mouthpiece of one which was already in existence, and to which they ascribe a various antiquity in accordance with their predilections and their knowledge of the true state of the case. The question of this antiquity has been discussed in the last chapter.
Several authors have been suggested, for the most part on very slender evidence. Some maintain that the manifestoes were written by Taulerus, the author of the German Theologia, an obscure writer not to be identified with the author of the Spiritual Letters, "Institutiones Divinæ," &c., others by Luther, others again by Wiegel. Joachim Junge, 1 the celebrated
philosopher of the seventeenth century, has secured several partisans. He was born at Lubeck in 1587, and became an M. A. of Giessen in 1609. At the very period when the "Fama Fraternitatis" first appeared, about 1614, he was holding numerous conferences with his friends on the methods of hastening the progress of philosophy, but his plans are supposed to have been without any immediate result. Subsequently, he sought to establish at Rostock an academy for the advancement of natural sciences; "but the rumour spread that this project concealed some evil designs, and people went so far as to accuse him of being one of the chiefs of the famous order of the Brothers of the Red-Cross, and he was forced to renounce a plan whose execution could only have had good results for his adopted country." 1 He became rector of the University of Hamburg, and died of apoplexy, September 23, 1657. He was the author of "Geometria Empirica," "Harmonica Theoretica," &c., and appears to have been wholly unconnected with the alchemical pursuits of the period. A secretary of the Court of Heidelberg (according to Heidegger, the biographer of Johannes Ludovicus Fabricius) being, it is supposed, in the secret, is said to have confirmed in conversation the current report that Junge was the founder of the Fraternity and the writer of the "Fama Fraternitatis." 2 No reference is made to this matter in the "Historia Vitæ et Mortis Joachimi Jungii Mathematici summi ceteraque Incomparabilis Philosophi,"
which was written by Martinus Fogelius in 1658. It contains, however, some account of his attempt to found a philosophical society, but the Leges Societatis Ereuneticæ which are to be found at the end of the pamphlet, sufficiently distinguish it from the Rosicrucian Brotherhood. The theosophist, Ægidius Gutmann, is claimed as the true author of the anonymous manifestoes by others--on what grounds I have not been able to ascertain; but, according to Buhle, this opinion is "supported by no other argument than that he was a distinguished mystic in that age of mysticism."
All these views have manifestly little to recommend them, but that which attributes the composition of the Rosicrucian manifestoes to Johann Valentin Andreas is supported by an extraordinary mass of evidence, which calls for very careful and impartial consideration. This interesting and singular personage, who is described by Brucker 1 as very learned and of a very elegant genius, whom the "Bibliothèque Universelle" 2 considers one of the most useful men which Germany produced in the seventeenth century, and whom all authorities unite in admiring for his talents and virtues, was a renowned theologian of Wirtemberg, and a multifarious littérateur not uncelebrated, even at this day, in his own country, as a poet and a satirist. He was born at Herrenberg, a town in the duchy of Wirtemberg, on the 17th of August 1586. He was the grandson of Jacob Andreas, also a celebrated theologian. His father was the
pastor of Herrenberg, his mother, Mary Moseria. The delicacy of his early years characterised his maturer life, but he was of a shrewd and cheerful disposition. He received the rudiments of his education from Michael Beumler 1 Subsequently he pursued his studies at Tubingen, Buhle informs us that, "besides Greek and Latin (in which languages he was distinguished for the elegance of his style), he made himself master of the French, Italian, and Spanish; was well versed in Mathematics, Natural and Civil History, Geography, and Historical Genealogy, without at all neglecting his professional study of divinity." 2 "I so divided my time," he tells us, "that during the day I devoted myself to instruction in the arts; thereto I added long nocturnal studies, passed in the reading of various authors, and carried to such an extravagant extent that not only my eyesight suffered, but I made myself subject to the horrors of sleeplessness, and weakened the strength of memory."
He travelled much within the limits of his own country, visited France, Switzerland, Italy, including Venice, and twice journeyed into Austria. He was married on the second of August 1614, to Agnes Elizabeth, daughter of Josua Grüminger. 3 He passed through various grades of ecclesiastical dignity, and became chaplain to the court at Stuttgart. "Here," says Buhle, "he met with so much thwarting and persecution, that, with his infirm constitution of body and dejection of mind from witnessing the
desolation of Germany," the redress of the abuses and evils in which had been the main object of his life--"it is not to be wondered that he . . . sank into deep despondency and misanthropy." At his own earnest importunity he was permitted to resign his post, and died abbot of Adelberg and Lutheran almoner to the Duke of Wirtemberg in the year 1654, "after a long and painful illness."
All authorities are agreed upon one important point in the character of Andreas, and that is his predilection in favour of secret societies as instruments in the reformation of his age and country. According to Buhle, he had a profound and painful sense of the gross evils and innumerable abuses which afflicted the German fatherland, and which were revealed, not eradicated, by the lurid fire-brand of Luther's reformation. These abuses he sought to redress by means of "secret societies." The ambition of his boyhood appears to have been the labour of his after days. "The writings of Andreas, issued during his life-time, are full of arguments on the necessity of forming a society solely devoted to the reformation of sciences and manners. . . . Three of his works, namely, 'Reipublicæ Christianopolitanæ Descriptio'; 'Turris Babel, sive Judiciorum de Fraternitate Rosaceæ Crucis Chaos'; 'Christianæ Societatis Idea,' all published at Strasbourg in the years 1619 and 1620, offer the clearest indications of his project to form a secret society. It is impossible not to perceive that he is always aiming at something of the kind. Some also appeal to his frequent travels as having no other object. 1 A writer in the "Dictionnaire des Sciences Occultes" speaks with even greater emphasis. "The works of Andreas, to the number of one hundred, preach promiscuously
the necessity of secret societies," 1 and Louis Figuier, whose work, entitled "Alchemy and the Alchemists," though it does not betray much original research, represents in a French vestment the opinions and arguments of some high German authorities, calls Andreas "a fanatical partisan" of the doctrines of Paracelsus, 2 declares him to have been fired with the ambition to fulfil certain predictions of his master which have been before referred to, and that he took upon himself to decide that the "Elias Artista," the robust child, to whom the magician refers, must be understood not of an individual but of a collective body or association.
It seems clear from these authorities, and from the facts of the case, that the mature, long-planned purpose of Andreas was the foundation of a society for the reformation of the age, and we find him cherishing this hope and apparently elaborating his designs at the very period when the first rumours of the Rosicrucian Fraternity began to be heard in Europe. It is, therefore, obviously and incontestably clear that if he had any hand in the foundation of this society, or in the authorship of the documents connected with it, that both were undertaken in all earnestness, and that the "Fama" and "Confessio Fraternitatis" are not pieces of frolicsome imposture, and satires on the credulity of the period. Such a supposition is wholly incompatible with Andreas' zeal and enthusiasm.
This point being definitely settled, I proceed to lay before
my readers an abstract of those considerations which have induced several erudite investigators to accept Andreas as the author of the Rosicrucian documents.
I. I have said in the fifth chapter that the whole controversy to some extent centres in the "Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz," and since the publication of Seybold's "Autobiographies of Celebrated Men" in 1796, and which printed for the first time, albeit in a German version, the posthumous autobiography of Johann Valentin Andreas, 1 there has been no room for doubt as to its authorship. There he includes it among his earliest productions, states that it was written at the age of fifteen, and that it was one of a series of similar juvenilia which, for the most part, had perished. 2 Now the "Chymical Marriage," having remained several years in manuscript, was printed at Strasbourg in 1616. The C. R. C. of the preceding manifestoes was immediately identified with the Christian Rosencreutz of the allegorical romance, and albeit the first
edition of the "Confessio Fraternitatis," and seemingly also of the "Fama," 1 do not describe the society as that of the Rosie Cross, the edition of 1615, printed at Francfurt, calls it the Bruderschafft des Rosen-Creutzes and it is, therefore, argued that the three works must have originated from a single source.
II. The "Chymical Marriage" contains the following passage:--"Hereupon I prepared myself for the way, put on my white linnen coat, girded my loyns, with a blood-red ribbon bound cross-ways over my shoulder: In my hat I stuck four roses." Elsewhere, he describes himself as a "brother of the Red-Rosie Cross," and a "Knight of the Golden Stone"--eques aurei lapidis.
Now, the armorial bearings of the family of Andreas contain a St Andrew's Cross with four roses, one in each of its angles, which interesting piece of internal evidence indicates the authorship of this romance independently of the autobiographical statement, and points irresistibly, it is said, to the conclusion that the founder of the Rose-Cross Society was the man whose heraldic device was also the Rose and Cross.
III. The identity of the principles contained in the acknowledged work of Andreas, and in the pamphlets which it is sought to attribute to him, are considered too obvious to need enumeration, and it is sufficient to point out that all are equally directed against the charlatanic professors of the magnum opus, thriving in countless numbers upon the credulity and infatuation of the age.
IV. Arnold, in his "History of the Church and of
[paragraph continues] Heretics," states that a comparison between Andreas’ undoubtedly authentic writings and those of the Rosicrucian manifestoes do not allow any doubt that he is their author.
V. The earliest edition of Boccalini's "Ragguagli di Parnasso" was published at Venice in 1612. Andreas is known to have been an Italian scholar; he was also an omnivorous reader; he is said to have admired Boccalini, and to have imitated his style; and thence it is argued that he it was who translated Advertisement 77 of the first centuria, under the title of the "Universal Reformation of the Whole Wide World."
VI. An intimate friend of Andreas, Professor Besoldt, positively declares that the character of the Rosicrucian manifesto is plain enough, and considers it a marvellous and unexplainable circumstance that so many persons had mistaken that object. From this it is concluded that he was a repository of the secret concerning their authorship, and as he was in the confidence of Andreas, that Andreas was the author.
In this case, the question discussed in the introduction is, of course, definitely set at rest. The symbolism of the Rose-Cross is of no high significance as a badge of the secret society. It does not give expression to the arcana of the alchemical and celestial Dew of the Wise, nor contain the secret of the menstruum of the Red Dragon. It is simply the hereditary device of the founder, and its meaning is to be sought in German heraldry, and not in mysticism.
Those who accredit Andreas with the authorship of the Rosicrucian manifestoes interpret his reasons very variously. According to Arnold, he had already written many satirical pamphlets upon the corruptions and hypocrisy of the period
and he considers that the "Fama" and "Confessio" were penned with the same purpose, namely to lay bare the follies of men's lives, and to set before them patterns of good and pious living. He quotes an unmentioned writer as stating that it was necessary that the brethren should be men of unblemished lives, and zealous preachers, who, under the appearance of a society, would try to lead the people to God. According to Figuier, as we have seen, Andreas established the order to fulfil certain prophecies of Paracelsus, and to pursue scientific researches on purely Paracelsian principles. But Buhle, with all his shortcomings, and weighted as he is by an extravagant Masonic hypothesis, is the best exponent of these views, and it will be necessary to cite his arguments at considerable length.
"From a close review of his life and opinions, I am not only satisfied that Andreä wrote the three works which laid the foundation of Rosicrucianism, but I see clearly why he wrote them. The evils of Germany were then enormous, and the necessity of some great reform was universally admitted. As a young man without experience, Andrea imagined that this reform would be easily accomplished. He had the example of Luther before him, the heroic reformer of the preceding century, whose memory was yet fresh in Germany, and whose labours seemed on the point of perishing unless supported by corresponding efforts in the existing generation. To organise these efforts and direct them to proper objects, he projected a society composed of the noble, the enlightened, and the learned--which he hoped to see moving, as under the influence of one soul, towards the redressing of public evils. Under this hope it was that he travelled so much: seeking everywhere, no doubt, for the coadjutors and instruments of his
designs. These designs he presented originally in the shape of a Rosicrucian society; and in this particular project he intermingled some features that were at variance with its gravity and really elevated purposes. Young as he was at that time, Andreä knew that men of various tempers and characters could not be brought to co-operate steadily for any object so purely disinterested as the elevation of human nature: he therefore addressed them through the common foible of their age, by holding out promises of occult knowledge which should invest its possessor with authority over the powers of Nature, should lengthen his life, or raise him from the dust of poverty to wealth and high station. In an age of Theosophy, Cabbalism, and Alchemy, he knew that the popular ear would be caught by an account, issuing nobody knew whence, of a great society that professed to be the depository of Oriental mysteries, and to have lasted two centuries. Many would seek to connect themselves with such a society: from these candidates he might gradually select the members of the real society which he projected. The pretensions of the ostensible society were indeed illusions; but before they could be detected as such by the new proselytes, those proselytes would become connected with himself, and (as he hoped) moulded to nobler aspirations. On this view of Andreä's real intentions, we understand at once the ground of the contradictory language which he held about astrology and the transmutation of metals: his satirical works show that he looked through the follies of his age with a penetrating eye. He speaks with toleration then of these follies--as an exoteric concession to the age; he condemns them in his own esoteric character as a religious philosopher. Wishing to conciliate prejudices, he does not forbear to bait his scheme with these
delusions: but he is careful to let us know that they are with his society mere παρεργα or collateral pursuits, the direct and main one being true philosophy and religion."
I fully concede the almost overwhelming force of some of the arguments I have enumerated, but, as a partisan of no particular theory, it is my duty to set before my readers a plain statement of certain grave difficulties.
I. The "Chymical Marriage" is called a ludibrium by its author, and Professor Buhle describes it as a comic romance, but those of my readers who are acquainted with alchemical allegories will discern in this singular narrative by a prepared student or artist who was supernaturally and magically elected to participate in the accomplishment of the magnum opus, many matters of grave and occult significance. They will recognise that the comic episodes are part of a serious design, and that the work as a whole is in strict accordance with the general traditions of alchemy. They will question the good faith of the author in the application of a manifestly incongruous epithet. Perhaps they will appear to be wise above what is written, but the position is not really unreasonable, for the passage in which reference is made by Andreas to the "Nuptiæ Chymicæ" is calculated to raise suspicion. He was a shrewd and keen observer; he had gauged the passions and the crazes of his period; he was fully aware that the rage for alchemy blinded the eyes and drained the purses of thousands of credulous individuals, who were at the mercy of the most wretched impostors, and that no pretence was too shallow and no recipe too worthless to find believers. He could not be ignorant that a work like the "Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz" was eminently liable to impose upon every class of theosophists. When, therefore, he supposes,
and, by implication, expresses, astonishment that his so-called ludibrium became the object of earnest investigation and of high esteem, I freely confess that I, for one, cannot interpret him seriously; in other words, that I reject the statement. This, however, is only the initial difficulty. The same passage of the "Vita ab ipso Conscripta" contains another piece of incredible information, namely that Andreas wrote the "Nuptiæ Chymicæ" before he was sixteen, This story gives evidence of an acquaintance with the practice and purposes of alchemy which was absolutely impossible to the most precocious lad. Moreover, the boldness of its conception and the power which is displayed in its execution, setting aside the debateable question of its occult philosophical character, are things utterly transcending the cacoethes scribendi of a youngster barely attained to the age of puberty. I appeal to the discrimination of my readers whether the curious and ingenious perplexities propounded at the supper on the third day are in any way suggestive of "the light fire in the veins of a boy." The romance supposed to have been written in 1602-3 did not see the light till 1616, when it appeared in the full tide of the Rosicrucian controversy. Why did it remain in manuscript for the space of thirteen years at a period when everything treating of alchemy was devoured with unexampled avidity? The "Chymical Marriage," in its original draft, may have been penned at the age of fifteen, but it must have been subjected to a searching revision, though I confess that it betrays no trace of subsequent manipulation. These grave difficulties are enhanced by a fact which is wholly unknown to most Rosicrucian critics, and which was certainly not to be expected in the jest of a schoolboy, namely, that the barbarous enigmatical writings
which are to be found in several places of "The Hermetick Wedding" are not an unmeaning hoax, but contain a decipherable and deciphered sense. The secretary of an English Rosicrucian Society says that the Supreme Magus of the Metropolitan College can read all three of the enigmas, and that he himself has deciphered two. Their secret is not a tradition, but the meaning dawns upon the student after certain researches. The last point is curious, and, outside the faculty of clairvoyance, the suggested method does not seem probable, but I give it to be taken at its worth, and have no reason to doubt the statement.
From these facts and considerations, the conclusion does not seem unreasonable, and may certainly be tolerated by an impartial mind, that in spite of the statement of Andreas, and partly because of that statement, the "Chymical Marriage" is not a ludibrium, that it betrays a serious purpose, and conceals a recondite meaning.
II. With this criticism the whole theory practically breaks down. We know that the "Fama Fraternitatis" was published in 1615 as a manifesto of the Bruderschafft des löblichen Ordens des Rosen Creutses. We have good reason to suppose that the original draft of the "Chymical Marriage" was tampered with; we do not know that previous to the year 1615 such a work was in existence as the "Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz." What we know to have existed was simply the "Nuptiæ Chymicæ." Now, supposing the "Fama Fraternitatis" to have emanated from a source independent of Andreas, he would be naturally struck by the resemblance of the mysterious Rosicrucian device to his own armorial bearings, and when in the year 1616 he published his so-called comic romance, this analogy may, not inconceivably, have led him to re-christen
his hero, and to introduce those passages which refer to the Rose Cross. This, of course, is conjectural, but it is to be remarked that so far as can be possibly ascertained, the acknowledged symbol of the Fraternity never was a St Andrew's Cross with four Roses, but was a Cross of the ordinary shape, with a Red Rose in the centre, or a Cross rising out of a Rose. There is therefore little real warrant for the identification of the mystical and the heraldic badge. It is on this identification, however, that the Andrean claim is greatly based.
III. We find the "Chymical Marriage," like the "Fama" and "Confessio Fraternitatis," crusading against the "vagabond cheaters," "runagates and roguish people," who debased alchemical experiments in the interest of dishonest speculation; yet the one, under a thin veil of fiction, describes the proceedings in the accomplishment of the magnum opus, while the other terms transmutation a great gift of God. These points of resemblance, however, do not necessarily indicate a common authorship, for a general belief in the facts of alchemy was held at that period by many intelligent men, who were well aware, and loud in their condemnation, of the innumerable frauds which disgraced the science. On the other hand, it is plain that the history of C. R. C., as it is contained in the "Fama," is not the history, equally fabulous, of that Knight of the Golden Stone, who is the hero of the "Chymical Marriage."
IV. It is obviously easy to exaggerate the philological argument, or rather the argument from the identity of literary style, in the documents under consideration. This point indeed can only be adequately treated by a German. At present it rests on a single assertion of Arnold, which is uncorroborated by any illustrative facts. I think it will
also be plain, even to the casual reader, that the "Chymical Marriage" is a work of "extraordinary talent," as Buhle justly observes, but that the "Fama Fraternitatis" is a work of no particular talent, either inventive or otherwise, while the subsequent "Confession," both in matter and manner, is simply beneath contempt. Yet we are required to believe that the first was produced at the age of fifteen, while the worthless pamphlets are the work of the same writer from seven to thirteen years subsequently.
V. The connection of the "Universal Reformation" with the other Rosicrucian manifestoes is so uncertain, that if Andreas could be proved its translator, his connection with the society would still be doubtful. The appearance of the "Fama Fraternitatis" and the "Universal Reformation" in one pamphlet no more proves them to have emanated from a single source, than the publication of the "Confessio" in the same volume as the "Secretioris Philosophiæ Consideratio" proves Philippus à Gabella to have been the author of that document. The practice of issuing unconnected works within the covers of a single book was common at the period. But the argument which ascribes the "Universal Reformation" to Andreas is entirely conjectural.
VI. There is nothing conclusive in the statement of Professor Besoldt; it may have been simply an expression of personal opinion; those who interpret it otherwise in support of the claim of Andreas, to some extent base their interpretation on the very point which is in question, for unless Andreas were the author of the manifestoes, it is clear that Professor Besoldt is a person of no authority.
These difficulties are of themselves sufficient to cast grave doubt upon the Andrean theory, but when we pass to the consideration of the motives which are attributed to the
reputed author by the chief supporter of his claims, we find them indefinitely multiplied. Buhle represents him as a young man without experience who imagined that the evils of his country, enormous as they confessedly were, could be eradicated easily. But if, by courtesy, we allow that the "Fama Fraternitatis" was published so early as 1612, then Andreas was twenty-six years of age, when a man of education and travel would be neither inexperienced nor Utopian.
What, however, is by implication assumed in this hypothesis is that the Rosicrucian manifestoes were written at the same age as the "Nuptiæ Chymicæ," for which there is not a particle of evidence, and that the object of Andreas’ travels was to find "coadjutors and instruments for his designs," which is also wholly unsupported. The scheme which is fathered upon Andreas is a monstrous and incredible absurdity; it involves, moreover, a pious fraud which is wholly at variance with the known character of the supposed author. No sane person, much less a man who "looked through the follies of his age with a penetrating eye," could expect anything but failure to result from a gross imposition practised on the members of a projected association, who being assured of the possession of the Philosophical Stone, the life-elixir, and initiation into the secret mysteries of nature, were destined to receive, instead of these prizes, a barren and impossible commission to reform the age. What moral reformation could result from any scheme at once so odious and impracticable?
Let us accept however, for a moment, the repulsive hypothesis of Buhle. Suppose the Rosicrucian manifestoes to have been written in 1602. Suppose Andreas to have scoured Germany and also to have visited other countries in search of appropriate
members for his society. It would then be naturally concluded that the publication of the "Fama Fraternitatis" signified that his designs were matured. The subsequent conduct of Andreas is, nevertheless, so completely in the face of this conclusion, that Buhle is obliged to assume that the manifestoes were printed without the author's consent, than which nothing could be more gratuitous, and that the uproar of hostility which followed their publication made it necessary for Andreas to disavow them if he would succeed in his ultimate designs. The hostility provoked by the manifestoes bears no comparison with the welcome they received among all those classes to whom they were indirectly addressed, namely, the alchemists, theosophists, etc. Had Andreas projected a society upon the lines laid down by Buhle, nothing remained but to communicate with the innumerable pamphleteers who wrote in defence of the order during the years immediately succeeding the publication of the "Fama Fraternitatis," as well as with those other persons who in various printed letters offered themselves for admission therein, after which he could have proceeded in the accomplishment of his heartless design. That he did not do so when the circumstances were so favourable is proof positive that he had no such intention. In fact, at this very period, namely, in the year 1614, we find Andreas immersed in no dark and mysterious designs for the reformation of the age by means of a planned imposture, but simply celebrating his nuptials, and settling down into a tranquil domestic life.
One more gross and ineradicable blemish upon this hypothesis remains to be noticed. Not only is Andreas represented relinquishing his design at the very moment when it was possible to put it in force, but diverted at the universal
delusion he had succeeded in creating, he is represented as endeavouring to foster it, "to gratify his satirical propensities," and when even in after life he becomes "shocked to find that the delusion had taken firm root in the public mind," he adopts no adequate measures to dispel it. Thus not only does Andreas wilfully turn the long-planned purpose of his life into a wretched fiasco, but to complete the libel on the character of a great and good man, he is supposed to delude his fellow creatures no longer for a lofty purpose, but from the lowest motive which it is possible to attribute to anyone,--a motive indefinitely meaner than any of personal gain.
The facts of the case untortured by any theory are these. The "Fama Fraternitatis" was published, say, in 1612. In 1613 a brief Latin epistle addressed to the venerable Fraternity R. C. is supposed to have appeared at Francfurt, supplemented the following year by an "Assertio Fraternitatis R. C. à quodam Fraterni ejus Socio carmine expressa." These two publications I have been unable to trace, though both are mentioned by Buhle, and are included by Langlet du Fresnoy in the Rosicrucian bibliography which is to be found in the third volume of his "Histoire de la Philosophie Hermétique." In 1615, the Latin original of the "Confessio Fraternitatis" appeared, as we have seen, in the alchemical quarto of Philip à Gabella. All these works are attributed to Andreas, and the year 1616 saw the publication of the "Chymical Nuptials of Christian Rosencreutz," which work is undoubtedly his. Taking this view, and comparing these persistent and successive attempts to draw attention to the secret society with the known character and the known ambitions of Andreas, we are evidently face to face with an earnest and determined purpose,
not to be arrested by a little hostility and not likely to degenerate into a matter for jest and satire. We must therefore reject the Buhlean hypothesis, because it fails all along the line, "and betrays itself in every circumstance." We must reject also that view which attributes the manifesto to Andreas, but considers them an ingenious jest. It is universally admitted that this jest had a seriously evil effect, and Andreas, on this hypothesis, lived to see some of the best and acutest minds of his time, to say nothing of an incalculable number of honest and earnest seekers, misled by the vicious and wanton joke which had been hatched by the perverted talents of his youth. The wickedness and cruelty of persisting in concealment of the true nature of the case through all his maturer life, through all his age, and not even making a posthumous explanation in the "Vita ab ipso Conscripta," is enough to raise indignation in every breast, and is altogether, and too utterly, vile and mean to ascribe to any right-minded and honourable person, much less to a man of the known intellectual nobility of Johann Valentin Andreas. Buhle says that to have avowed the three books as his own composition would have defeated his scheme, and that "afterwards he had still better reasons for disavowing them." He had no such reasons. The bluntest sense of duty and the feeblest voice of manliness must have provided him with urgent and unanswerable reasons for acknowledging them--a course to which no serious penalties could possibly attach.
To dispose of the Andrean claim, a third hypothesis must be briefly considered. If Andreas was a follower of Paracelsus, a believer in alchemy, an aspirant towards the spiritual side of the magnum opus, or an adept therein, he would naturally behold with sorrow and disgust the trickery
and imposture with which alchemy was then surrounded, and by which it has been indelibly disgraced, and it is not unreasonable to suppose that he may have attempted to reform the science by means of a secret society, whose manifestoes are directed against those very abuses. But in spite of the statement of Louis Figuier, I can find no warrant in the life or writings of Andreas for supposing that he was a profound student, much less a fanatical partisan of Paracelsus, and it is clear from his "Turris Babel," "Mythologia Christiana," and other works, that he considered the Rosicrucian manifestoes a reprehensible hoax. In the twenty-fifth chapter of the first of these books, the author proposes to supply the place of the fabulous Rosicrucian Society by his own Christian Fraternity. Indeed, wherever he speaks of it in his known writings, it is either with contempt or condemnation. Nihil cum hac Fraternitate commune habeo, says Truth in the "Mythologia Christiana." "Listen, ye mortals," cries Fama in the "Turris Babel," "you need not wait any longer for any brotherhood; the comedy is played out; Fama has put it up, and now destroys it. Fama has said Yes, and now utters No."
My readers are now in possession of the facts of the case, and must draw their own conclusions. If in spite of the difficulties which I .have impartially stated, Andreas has any claim upon the authorship of the Rosicrucian manifestoes, it must be viewed in a different light. According to Herder, his purpose was to make the secret societies of his time reconsider their position, and to shew them how much of their aims and movements was ridiculous, but not to found any society himself. According to Figuier, he really founded the Rosicrucian Society, but ended by entire disapproval of its methods, and therefore started his
[paragraph continues] Christian Fraternity. But the facts of the case are against this hypothesis, for the "Invitatio Fraternitatis Christi ad Sacri amoris Candidatos" was published as early as 1617, long before the Rosicrucian Order could have degenerated from the principles of its master. It is impossible that Andreas should have projected two associations at the same time.
But in the face of the failure of all these hypotheses, one fact in the life of their subject remains unexplained. If Andreas did not write the "Fama" and "Confessio Fraternitatis," if he had no connection with the secret society from which they may be supposed to have emanated, if he did not study Paracelsus, and did not take interest in alchemy, how are we to account for the existence of the "Chymical Marriage," for its publication in the centre and heart of the Rosicrucian controversy, and for its apparently earnest purpose when he describes it as a jest or ludibrium? Without elaborating a new hypothesis, can we suggest a possible reason for this misnomer? Supposing Andreas to have been actually connected in his younger days with a certain secret society, which may have published the more or less misleading Rosicrucian manifestoes, the oath which all such societies impose upon their members, would for ever prevent him from divulging anything concerning it, though he may have withdrawn from its ranks at an early period. This society may have been identical, or affiliated, with the Militia Crucifera Evangelica, which, from the known character of its founder was probably saturated with alchemical ideas, in which case it offers at the end of the sixteenth century a complete parallel in its opinions with the Rosicrucian Fraternity. Both associations were ultra-Protestant, both were "heated with Apocalyptic
dreams," both sought the magnum opus in its transfigured or spiritual sense, both abhorred the Pope, both called him Antichrist, both coupled him with the detested name of Mahomet, both expected the speedy consummation of the age, both studied the secret characters of nature, both believed in the significance of celestial signs, both adopted as their characteristic symbols the mystic Rose and Cross, and the reason which prompted this choice in the one probably guided it in the other. This reason is not to be sought in the typology of a remote period, nor even in the alchemical enigmas of mediæval times. It is not to be sought in the armorial bearings of Johann Valentin Andreas. They bore the Rose and Cross as their badge, not because they were Brethren of the Concocted and Exalted Dew, not because they had studied the book called Zohar, not because they were successors and initiates of the ancient Wisdom-Religion and the sublime hierarchies of Eld, but because they were a narrow sect of theosophical dissidents, because the monk Martin Luther was their idol, prophet, and master, because they were rabidly and extravagantly Protestant, with an ultra-legitimate violence of abusive Protestantism, because, in a single word, the device on the seal of Martin Luther was a Cross-crowned heart rising from the centre of a Rose, thus--
I am in a position to maintain that this was the true and esoteric symbol of the Society, as the Crucified Rose was
the avowed, exoteric emblem, because in a professedly authoritative work on the secret figuren of the Order--"Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer ans dem 16ten und 17ten Jahrhundert"--I find the following remarkable elaboration of the Lutheran seal, which practically decides the question.
[paragraph continues] Taking into consideration that the "Naometria" of Simon Studion and the original draft of the "Nuptiæ Chymicæ" both belong to nearly the same period, and that Andreas was undoubtedly acquainted with the work of the mystical teacher of Marbach, as a passage in the "Turris Babel" makes evident, it is not an impossible supposition that the young student of Tübingen came into personal communication with Studion, who was only some fifty miles distant in the cheapest days of travelling, and having a natural inclination to secret societies, became associated with the Militia Crucifera Evangelica. Out of this connection the "Nuptiæ Chymicæ" might naturally spring, and the subsequent Rosicrucian society was the Militia transfigured after the death of Studion, 1 and after the travels and experience
of Andreas had divested him of his boyish delusions. Having proved the hollowness of their pretensions, but still bound by his pledge, he speaks of them henceforth as a deception and a mockery, and attempts to replace them by a practical Christian association without mysticism and symbols, making no pretension to occult knowledge, or to transcendant powers.
This view is not altogether a new one, and undoubtedly has its difficulties. It cannot account for the publication of the "Nuptiæ Chymicæ" in 1616, nor for the revision which it apparently underwent at the very period when Andreas was projecting the unalchemical Christian Fraternity; but so far as it extends, it does not torture the facts with which it professes to deal. I present it not in my character as a historian, but simply as a hypothesis which may be tolerated. To my own mind it is far from satisfactory, and, from a careful consideration of all the available materials, I consider that no definite conclusion can be arrived at. There is nothing in the internal character of the "Fama" and "Confessio Fraternitatis" to shew that they are a jest. On the other hand, they embody a fabulous story. There is no proof that they did or did not emanate from a secret society. 1 The popular argument that the manifestoes were addressed to "the learned of Europe," but
the earnest entreaties of the flower of theosophical literati for admission into the ranks of the Fraternity remained unanswered, is no proof that the Society itself did not exist, for the statement is vicious in the extreme. We have absolutely no means of ascertaining with whom it may have come into communication, or what letters and applications were answered, because inviolable secrecy would cover the whole of the proceedings, and those who might have the best reason to know that the Society existed would be most obliged to hold their peace. Thus "the meritorious Order of the R. C." still remains shrouded in mystery, but this mystery is destitute of romance and almost of interest. The avowed opinions of the Fraternity for ever prevent us from supposing that they were in possession of any secrets which would be worth disentombing. To have accomplished the magnum opus of the veritable adept, is to be master of the Absolute and the heir of Eternity, is to be above all prejudices, all fears, and all sectarian bitterness. By the aid of an ultra-Horatian philosophy we may conceive that such men have been, and still are, but they have passed above "material forms" and the clouded atmosphere of terrestrial ideas; they inhabit the ideal "city of intelligence and love." They have left the brawling gutter of religious squabbling, the identification of Antichrist, the destruction of the Pope by means of nails, and the number of the beast, to Baxter and Guinness, Cumming and Brothers the prophet, who may share its squalors and wretchedness with--the Rosicrucian Fraternity.
219:1 De Quincey, "Rosicrucians and Freemasons," c. iii.
220:1 This writer is not to be confused with Jung Stilling, whose real name was Johannes Heinrich Jung, and who is, perhaps, more celebrated in England for his works on Pneumatology than is the rector of Hamburg for his contributions to mathematical science.
221:1 "Biographie Universelle," s.v. Joachim Junge.
221:2 In the "Acta Eruditorum Lipsiæ," 1698, 4to, p. 172, there is the following passage:--"Natus est Jo. Ludovicus Fabricius Scaphulsi, Helvetiorum Pago primario, die 29 Julii anni seculi hujus trigesimi secundi, patre Jo. Fabricio anno 1630 vi externa e Palatinatu in exilium ejecto, et a Scaphusanis promtissime recepto. Fuit vir ille sic satis excultus, quique ut Fabricius noster familiari in sermone p. 222 retulit, adversus Roseæ Crucis Fratres calami quoque telum strinxit, cujus quidem Sectæ auctorem fuisse Jungium, Mathematicam Hamburgi professum, eumque librum, cui titulus est Fama Frabium Rosæ Crucis cudisse, pariter ex ore Secretarii, rei illius conscii, confirmavit.
222:1 "Brukeri Historia Crit. Philosophiæ," tome ii., p. 740.
222:2 Tome ii., p. 126.
223:1 "Primam infantiam afflictissimam habui, ardeo est non nisi bimus in pedes primus erigerer, quam etiam valetudinis tenuitatem omni vita tolerari, ingenio interim sagaci et festivo, ut propinquis et amicis voluptati essem . . . . Literarum rudimenta a Michaele Beumlero accessi viro optimo."--"Vita ab ipso Conscripts," lib. i.
223:2 De Quincey, "Rosicrucians and Freemasons," c. iii.
223:3 See additional notes, No. 5.
224:1 "Bibliothèque Universelle," tome ii., pp. 126-128.
225:1 "Dictionnaire des Sciences Occultes" in the Abbé Migne's "Troisième Encyclopédie Théologique," t. i., p. 90.
225:2 With the characteristic carelessness of a French reasoner, Figuier stultifies himself on this point by stating a few pages subsequently that Andreas was devoid of any doctrinal fanaticism. "L’Alchimie et les Alchimistes," pp. 293-29.
226:1 The original Latin text was not printed till 1849, when it appeared in octavo at Berlin under the editorship of F. H. Rheinwald.
226:2 For the information of students of the Rosicrucian mystery I append the whole passage which refers to the juvenile productions of Andreas. "Jam a secundo et tertio post millesimum sexcentesimum coeperam aliquid exercendi ingenii ergo pangere, cujus facile prima fuere Esther et Hyacinthus comoediae ad aemulationem Anglicorum histrionum juvenili ansu factae, e quibus posterior, quae mihi reliqua est, pro aetate non displicet. Secuta aunt Veneris detestatio et Lachrymae tribus dialogis satis prolixis, ob infelicem, de quo postea, casum meum expressae, quae invita me perierunt. Superfuerunt e contra Nuptiae Chymicae, cum monstrorum foecundo foetu, ludibrium, quod mireris a nonullis aestimatum et subtili indagine explicatum, plane futile et quod inanitatem curiosorum prodat. Invenio etiam in chartis meis titulos Julii Sive Politiae libros tres, Judicium astroligicum contra astrologiam, Iter, sed quod dudum interierunt, quid iis consignarim, non memini."--Vita Lib., i. p. 10, Ed. Rheinwald, 1849.
227:1 The title of one of the earliest editions is quoted by Arnold as follows:--"Fama Fraternitatis, or Discovery of the Brotherhood of the Worshipful Order of the R. C."
243:1 There is one fact which is too remarkable to be a mere coincidence, and which seems to have been unnoticed by previous investigators, namely, that Sigmund Richter, who claims to speak p. 244 authoritatively, declares in the year 1710 that one of the Rosicrucian headquarters is at Nurenberg; that is, at the very place where the Militia Crucifera Evangelica originally met in 1586.
244:1 For the sake of perspicuity, and to avoid forestalling arguments, I have spoken throughout of the Rosicrucians as of a secret society. In the universal uncertainty, this view is as good as another, but it does not necessarily represent my personal opinion. By the term "Rosicrucian Fraternity" I simply mean to indicate the unknown source of the "Fama" and "Confessio Fraternitatis."