Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The Masonic Book Club has begun the new year with an announcement of its 2009 book offering: Proofs of a Conspiracy: Against all the Religions and Governments of Europe, Carried on in the Secret Meetings of Freemasons, Illuminati and Reading Societies by Professor John Robison. Magpie readers, if you ever wondered exactly how the surreal fears and outlandish speculations that have surrounded our gentle Craft for centuries were conceived, this book answers your curiosity.

Archived within the restricted access Rare Book and Manuscript Library on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, is this fourth edition of Proofs of a Conspiracy: Against all the Religions and Governments of Europe, Carried on in the Secret Meetings of Freemasons, Illuminati and Reading Societies by Professor John Robison. The Magpie Mason had the good fortune to peruse this archive’s Masonic (and anti-Masonic) contents during a visit in 2007 with the Masonic Library and Museum Association. Sorry for the blurred image.

The MBC describes it:

“This book represents a good synopsis of the events it describes. It shows the frame of mind of the time. It is surely worth reading by everyone interested in this topic.

“Interestingly by the time this book was first published, the organization of Bavarian Illuminati was gone. Robinson was very much an advocate of science and rationalism, in later life, disillusioned by the French Revolution, he became an ardent monarchist.

“Robinson traced the story of the 1776 founding of the Illuminati by Adam Weishaupt, a professor at Ingolstadt and the suppression of the order by the royal and church authorities of Bavaria in 1785. However, his preaching against it raised the specter of conspiracy, which still hangs over the Illuminati.

“Nonetheless, this book makes fascinating reading, and in conjunction with other historical accounts of the French Revolution, helps put into perspective this period of history.

“John Robison (1739-1805) was a Scottish scientist who wrote one of the definitive studies of the Bavarian Illuminati. He was a contemporary and collaborator with James Watt, with whom he worked on an early steam car; contributor to the 1797 Encyclopedia Britannica; professor of philosophy at the University of Edinburgh; and inventor of the siren.”

What concerns me is the back-to-back books from the MBC on matters Illuminati. I just don’t think it is that fascinating a subject, or even significant enough to Masonic studies, to justify two consecutive books that concern the Illuminati. The 2008 choice from the MBC was reviewed by The Magpie Mason here, and I’m just hoping the same individual who brought that text to the publisher’s attention is not involved with this one also. (But I was amused to see the tiny blurb on the MBC website that markets the 2008 book lifts phrases directly from my review of last February.)

There are positive changes at the MBC that should not go unappreciated. After many years of incommunicado management that left prospective subscribers wondering for months if they had become members, the MBC now has this website, replete with an on-line store, PayPal payment option, and some information on when to expect delivery. The inventory of previous years’ selections is listed for your perusal, with each title priced fairly to equal a year’s dues. And speaking of dues, you can pay yours on-line. The MBC is now affiliated with the Illinois Lodge of Research’s Louis L. Williams Library, which has been a vendor of Masonic books and has maintained a web presence for some time. This alone says a lot about the direction the MBC is taking, and I wish them well. I’ve been a reliable cheerleader for the club since I joined, and I hope to remain so.

Just get the books into the mail, okay guys? You mentioned an October ’09 delivery.

Magpie edit: I just wanted to provide this link to today’s Boston 1775 blog concerning this topic. It’s a great blog. Bookmark it, and check in often.

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