XIV. Rosicrucianism in France



WHEN the documents of the Fraternity were first published,
Professor Buhle tells us that France “had greatly
the start of Germany and England” in general illumination,
that she was consequently protected against the
delusion of her neighbours, and that Rosicrucianism “never
had even a momentary success” therein. On the other
hand, Gabriel Naudé published in 1623 his “Instruction
à la France sur la vérité de l’Histoire des Frères de la Roze-
Croix,” which opens by asserting, without apology of any
kind, that the French by their disposition are quick to
embrace and to follow every species of novel and ridiculous
opinion. They are accused of excessive credulity, and
are the laughing-stock of more sober nations. They have
credited every absurdity from Postel the resuscitated and
mère Jeanne to the rejuvenating Fountain of Borico and the
immortality and return of Paracelsus. The history of the
Brethren R. C. is declared to be the most outrageous of all;
their books are useless and completely incomprehensible,
even when stripped of their enigmas. None but impostors
have claimed to be initiated members, and the false reports
spread abroad by the society are prejudicial to all kingdoms,
and all forms of government.
This book, though dull and verbose, was undoubtedly
instrumental in preventing the spread of the new doctrines.

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De Quincey affirms that France was never wanting in the
“ignobler elements of credulity,” but that she has always
lacked its nobler or imaginative part. “On this account
the French have always been an irreligious people. And
the scheme of Father Rosycross was too much connected
with religious feelings, and moved too much under a religious
impulse, to recommend itself to the French.”
The first appearance of Rosicrucianism in France1 was in
the year 1623, when the following mysterious placard was
affixed to the walls of Paris:—”We, the deputies of our
chief college of the Brethren of the Rosy Cross, now sojourning,
visible and invisible, in this town, do teach, in
the name of the Most High, towards whom the hearts of
the Sages turn, every science, without either books, symbols,
or signs, and we speak the language of the country in
which we tarry, that we may extricate our fellow-men from
error and destruction.
There are at least four different versions of this manifesto.
Gabrie1 Naudé reads—”By the grace of the Most
High . . . we teach, without the assistance of books or
signs, how to speak the language of every country where
we elect to stay, in order that we may rescue our fellowmen
from the error of death.” A French brochure, published
in 1623, and entitled “Effroyables pactions faites
entre le diable et les prétendus invisibles, avec leur damnables
instructions, parte deplorable de leurs escoliers, et
leur misérable fin,” presents still more important variations.
“We, the deputies of the College of the Rosie-Cross,
advise all those who seek entrance into our society and
congregation, to become initiated into the knowledge of
the Most High, in whose cause we are at this day assembled,

1 See Additional Notes, No. VI.

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and we will transform them from visible beings into invisible,
and from invisible into visible, and they shall be
transported into every foreign country to which their
desire may lead them. But, to arrive at the knowledge of
these marvels, we warn the reader that we can divine his
thoughts, that if mere curiosity should prompt the wish to
see us, he will never communicate with us, but if an earnest
determination to inscribe himself on the register of our
confraternity should actuate him, we will make manifest to
such an one the truth of our promises, so that we by no
means expose the place of our abode, since simple thought,
joined to the determined will of the reader, will be sufficient
to make us known to him, and reveal him to us.”
To this proclamation, in his “Histoire de la Magie,”
Eliphas Lévi adds: “Public opinion concerned itself about
this mysterious manifestation, and if any demanded openly
who were the Rose-Cross brethren, an unknown personage
frequently took the inquirer apart, and said to him
“Predestined to the reformation which must soon be
accomplished in the whole universe, the Rosicrucians are
the depositaries of supernatural wisdom, and undisturbed
possessors of all Nature’s gifts, they can dispense them at
“In whatsoever place they may be, they know all things
which arc going on in the rest of the world better than if
they were present; they are not subject to hunger or thirst,
and have neither age nor disease to fear.
“They can command the most powerful spirits and genii.
“God has covered them with a cloud to defend them
from their enemies, and they cannot be beheld except by
their own consent, had any one eyes more piercing than are
the eagle’s.

page 390
“Their general assemblies are held in the pyramids of
Egypt; but, like the rock whence the spring of Moses issued,
these pyramids proceed with them in the desert, and
follow them into the ‘Land of Promise.’ ”
No authority is given for this statement, and it is in all
probability one of those romantic falsifications with which
Eliphas Lévi took pleasure in mystifying his readers, and
which make him absolutely worthless as a sober historian.
This manifesto, whatever its original form, attracted
general and chiefly hostile attention, and it was accounted
for in various ways by the pamphleteers of the period.
Naudé considers it a hoax. “If we seek for the precise
origin of this squall of wind which now whistles over our
country, we shall find that the report of this fraternity
having been spread abroad some short time since in Germany,
certain professors, doctors, and students of this city
were moved by curiosity to investigate the matter by means
of the new books which were made known to them by publishers
after their return from the Frankfort fair; but discovering
nothing except chimeras and rodomontade therein,
they preferred, while awaiting the farce, to divert themselves
by this comedy—
Quam protinus urbi
Pandere, res alta sylva et calgine mersas,

and compromise their reputation by becoming its first denouncers,
judging that there were fools enough in Paris to
prevent this folly from stagnating. And, in fact, about
three months ago one of these individuals, knowing that
the King being at Fontainebleau, the realm tranquil, and
Mansfield too remote for daily news, there was a scarcity
of topics on ‘Change, as well as in all circles, concluded
to supply you with gossip by placarding the public

page 391
places with this notice, containing six lines of manuscript.”1
On the other hand, the anonymous author of an “Examination
of the unknown and novel Caballa of the Brethren
of the Rose-Cross” accepts the manifesto as authentic, and
denounces it with terrible earnestness. “Flagrant blasphemies
are to be found in these few lines. In the first
place, these sacrilegious wretches pretend to have enrolled
themselves under the banner of that cross, which their
master, the prince of darkness, abhors beyond anything.
In the second place, they assert that they can become invisible
at pleasure, a quality incommunicable to any natural
body which consists of matter and form, and one which can
never be acquired by any legitimate science. In the third
place, they boast that they can teach every branch of learning
in a moment, without books or signs, which evidently
transcends the possibilities of the human intellect, for,
though the acquisition of the sciences may be certainly
facilitated by means of abridgements and epitomes, it can
only be accomplished by degrees and with time. In the
fourth place, they claim to be acquainted with all dialects
and with every variety of language—a prerogative never
conferred except on the apostles, whose lives were very
different from theirs. It remains to be concluded that
such persons are not commissioned by God to save us from
error and destruction, but are raised up by Satan to drag
into the abyss those souls which are carried away by an
overwhelming curiosity.”
The most copious information with regard to the strange
manifesto is to be found in the “Frightful Compacts
between the Devil and the so-called Invisibles,” a pamphlet

1 “Instruciton à la France,” c. iii., p. 26.

page 392
full of malicious libels, which, however, are so curious that
some of them are worth reproducing as briefly as possible.
According to this account, the manuscript placard was
posted in several parts of Paris, and awakened the curiosity
of the learned and illiterate alike. Every one was astounded
at the asserted invisibility of the Brethren, and at their
gift of tongues. According to some, they must be the
messengers of the Holy Ghost, others said that they were
persons of eminent sanctity, the rest, that the whole
business was one of illusions and of magic. By many the
power of discerning the inmost thoughts was admired
beyond the other privileges, but that such a faculty was
inherent in Deity only, and they were incredulous in this
respect. Then it was urged that the devil had knowledge
of things both past and present, but that if he had knowledge
of things present, thoughts must be included in this class, and
that, therefore, the devil might not only know them, but
might impart the same knowledge to his emissaries.
A certain lawyer of Paris, says this mendacious chronicle,
conceived a violent desire to be enrolled in the new order,
on account of the obvious advantages of occasional invisibility,
and he had no sooner formed the project than one
of the Invisibles appeared before him, and informing him
that he could read his thoughts, directed his petrified
listener to meet him that evening at eight o’clock opposite
a certain market, when he should attain his desire. This
said, the mysterious being disappeared as miraculously as
he had come thither; and the lawyer, convinced by his own
senses that there was some truth in the claims of the placard,
did not fail to repair to the appointed place, where the same
personage met him, bandaged his eyes, whirled him through
a maze of alleys, and brought him to the abode of the

page 393
Invisibles. There his eyes were uncovered, and he found
himself in the presence of five senatorial persons, who
gravely informed him that they too were well acquainted
with his aspirations, but before they could gratify them he
must be prepared to take the oath of fidelity, and to write
four words upon a paper, namely, “I renounce my self.” The
appropriate preliminary to a new faith was to blindfold one’s
eyes to the teachings of all the old beliefs. The neophyte
complied, after which one of them breathed in his ear, and
this breathing he believed to be the wind of the Holy Spirit
instead of the devil’s respiration. They caused him to
behold innumerable illusions by the operation of the fiends,
instructed him in the magical utterances by which he could
become invisible at pleasure, in the imprecations which he
must pronounce against the Roman Church, and in the
homage which he must pay both morning and evening to
their master Satan, in recognition of the marvels he had
lavished for the benefit of the men of that time. This
finished, they caused the lawyer to strip, the magic ointment
was rubbed over his body, and having been enjoined to
bathe in the river at daybreak, he sat down with them to a
sumptuous repast at his own expense, after which his eyes
were again bandaged, and he was led back to the meetingplace
of the previous evening. Though partially drunk, he
determined to fulfil his duty and plunge at once into the
river, wherein he attempted to swim, in order to cleanse
himself more thoroughly, but the unfortunate man was
drowned, and thus, says the anonymous historian, he was
truly changed from a visible into an invisible being, yet not,
also, from one invisible into one visible, for to this day
hath his body been discovered by none, though sought for
with diligent anxiety. “Such are the first fruits of the
study of the invisible doctors at the end of last July.

page 394
Other stories equally credible are told by the same writer
to illustrate the tragical consequence of a voluntary connection
with the infamous Invisibles. A soldier was commanded
by them, on his initiation, to enrol himself among
a band of assassins, when he was speedily assassinated. A
magistrate of Picardy, in answer to his unexpressed wish,
was miraculously visited by one of the mystic six in his
own closet, was initiated into the Order, and in two days
committed suicide. An Anglo-Frenchman who had entered
upon the same unhappy course, wishing to revisit England,
was instantaneously translated to Boulogne: and requesting
the demon who had brought him bear him across the
Straits to London, he was seized with fury and cast into
the sea between Calais and Dover with a frightful noise.
This occurred in the presence of two hundred Dutch ships
on a voyage from Amsterdam to India.
According to this singular and scurrilous pamphlet, the
Rosicrucians or Invisibles, who are identical in the mind of
the writer, but whom he distinguishes from the Spanish
illuminati, numbered in all thirty-six, and they were divided
into six bands. Their general assembly was held at Lyons
on June 23, 1623, at 10 P.M., which was two hours before
the Grand Sabbath of the Witches. There, by the power
of an anthropophagous necromancer, Astaroth, one of the
princes of the infernal hordes, appeared in light and splendour,
and was represented by the magician as a messenger
of the Most High. All prostrated themselves before the
demon, who asked what they desired, and was informed by
their spokesman that they were a little flock which he had
assembled, in the name of the master of Astaroth, to serve
him henceforth on such conditions as were laid down in the
paper which he now offered to the emissary of the king. It

page 395
contained the “Articles of Agreement between the Necromancer
Respuch and the Deputies for the establishment of
the College of the Rosicrucians.” The subscribers certified
before the most high to have entered into the following
compacts, namely, they promised to receive with submission
the orders of the supreme sacrificer, Respuch, renouncing
baptism, chrism, and unction received in the name of
Christ; detesting and abhorring all forms of prayer, confession,
sacraments, and all faith in the resurrection of the
body; promising to proclaim the teachings imparted to
them by Respuch through all quarters of the globe; and
pledging their honour and their life, without any hope of
pardon, grace, or absolution, to perform all this; in proof
of which they had opened each of them a vein in the left
arm, and had signed this parchment each with his own
blood. The magician, on his part, promised to the deputies,
severally and collectively, that he would transport them
at any moment from east to west, or from north to south,
and cause them to speak naturally every language in the
universe. By this agreement he bound himself to enable
them to enter and leave all palaces, houses, chambers, and
cabinets, through closed and locked doors, to endure them
with the most persuasive eloquence, to enable them to cast
horoscopes and to read the most secret thoughts, to make
them admired by the learned, sought after by the curious,
magnified above the prophets of old, and to give each of
them, on his signing the parchment, a golden ring enriched
by a precious sapphire, under which there should be a
demon who would act as their guide. Astaroth, assuming
the likeness of a radiant youth, caressed and embraced his
victims, who blindly mistook him for the apparition of a
powerful deity and, being promised his continual provi-

page 396
dence, they solemnly bound themselves never to derogate
from the articles to which they had subscribed, whatever
might happen, to turn a deaf ear to the Gospel of Christ,
and to publish among all the nations to whom they were
transported the truth of the mighty dominion whereof
he was the emissary, in order that by their preaching
they might dissipate the errors of those men who
believed in the immortality of the soul. The articles were
then ratified, confirmed, and approved by Astaroth on the
part of his master, after which the demon vanished to
assist at the Sabbath, which was held, from eleven at night
to one in the morning, on the vigil of S. John the Baptist,
in the vicinity of the labyrinth among the Pyrenees. The
necromancer was left alone with the invisibles, who were to
receive the powers promised by being breathed. on in the
following manner:—All stripped naked and prostrated
themselves with their faces flat upon the earth; the magician,
with a pot of grease and unguent, rubbed each of
them, after the ancient fashion of Thessalian sorcery, on
the upper part of the neck, the arm pits, the lower portion
of the spine, the parts of generation, and the fundament;
then he breathed in the right ear of each deputy, saying:
“Depart and rejoice in the result of my promises.” He
gave the demoniacal ring to all of them, and then a sudden
blast of wind transported them, at the command of the
magician, an hundred leagues, to the great assembly of the
sorcerers. Here, as new comers, they received from Satan
the mark of magicians; six of them were sent into Spain,
six into Italy, six into France, six into Germany, four to
Sweden, two into Switzerland, two into Flanders, two into
Lorraine, and the remaining two into Burgoyne. Thus
they were commissioned only to go into Catholic countries,

page 397
and not into the lands of the heretic and the infidel, who
without the pale of the Church, saith the zealous chronicler,
are already in the claws of hell. The six who were despatched
to France reached Paris on July 14th, each
lodged separately to avoid suspicion, and met daily where
the first wish carried them, sometimes on Parnassus, on
the columns of Montfaucon, in the quarries of Montmatre,
&c. Recognising the difficulties of evangelising Paris, they
spent much time in deliberation, their hotel expenses
increased, and the devil already failed in his promise that
their purses should always be well supplied. They sold
their horses in order to buy furniture and hire lodgings,
where they would have more liberty, to go in quest of
pupils. After the sale, however, they changed their mind,
and took two furnished rooms in the Marais du Temple,
which is actually mentioned in the “Apologia” of Robert
Fludd, as the abode of a Rosicrucian, and it was at this
period that the manuscript placard was affixed by them to
the walls of Paris.
The “Examination of the unknown and novel Caballa
of the Brethren of the Rose-Cross” agrees with the “Frightful
Compacts,” in asserting that the chief of this “execrable
college” is Satan, that its first rule is the denial of God,
blasphemy against the most simple and undivided Trinity,
trampling on the mysteries of the redemption, spitting in the
face of the mother of God and at all the saints. The second
is the abhorrence of the name Christian, renunciation of
baptism, the intercession of the Church, and the sacraments.
By the third they offer sacrifice to the devil, make
compacts with him, commit adultery with him, offer innocent
children to him, &c. By the fourth they frequent the
Sabbaths, cherish toads, make poisonous powders, dance

page 398
with fiends, raise tempests, ravage fields, destroy orchards,
assassinate and torture their neighbours by the infliction of
innumerable diseases.
The spirit which prompted these grotesque calumnies,
manufactured from the foulest gutters of black magic, is
easily discernible. The writers were Catholics incensed by
the Protestantism of the Rosicrucian manifestoes, meeting
violence by violence, and doctrines of Papal extermination
with charges of blasphemy, atheism, and devil-worship.
Gabriel Naudé is the most reasonable of all the Franco-
Rosicrucian critics, but he is unendurably stupid, and
splutters in a seething sea of classical quotations.
In addition to the privileges and powers. which are openly
claimed by the Rosicrucians, Naudé enumerates the following,
some of which are to be found indirectly in their
documents, and others he has extracted by a somewhat
perverse interpretation:—
“They affirm that the contemplations of their founder
surpass everything which has been ever known, discovered,
or understood, since the creation of the world, through
human study, divine revelation, or the ministration of angels.
“That they are destined to accomplish the approaching
restoration of all things to an improved condition before the
end arrives.
“That they possess wisdom and piety in a supreme
degree, are undisturbed owners of all that is desirable
among the bounties of Nature, and can dispense her gifts
at will.
“That in whatsoever place they may be they know all
that takes place elsewhere better than if they were present.
“That they are subject neither to hunger, thirst, age,
illness, or other natural inconvenience.

page 399
“That they learn by revelation of those persons who are
worthy of admission into their society.
“That it is possible for them always to live as if they had
existed from the beginning of the world, or would remain
till the end of the age.
“That they possess a book in which they can ascertain
all things which are to be found in books now existing, or
will be found in the books of the future.
“That they can compel the most mighty spirits and
demons into their service, and by the power of their incantations
can draw pearls and precious stones towards them.
“That God has enveloped them in a cloud to conceal
them from their enemies, unless, at least, they have eyes
more penetrating than the eagle’s.
“That the first eight Brethren of the Rose-Cross had the
gift of healing all diseases to such an extent that they were
overwhelmed by the concourse of sufferers, and that one of
them, who was an adept in Kabbalistic Mysteries, witness
his book called H, cured the young Count of Norfolk of
the leprosy when he was in England.
“That God has determined to increase the number of
their Fraternity.
“That they have discovered a new language to give
expression to the nature of all things.
“That by their means the triple crown of Peter will be
ground into the dust.
“That they confess freely and publicly, with no fear of
repression, that the pope is Anti-Christ.
“That they denounce the blasphemies of East and West,
meaning Mahomet and the Pope, and recognise but two
sacraments, with the ceremonies of the early Church,
renewed by their congregation.

page 400
“That they acknowledge the fourth monarchy and the
Emperor of the Romans as their Lord, and as the head of
all Christendom.
“That they will furnish him with more gold and silver
than the Spanish King derives from both the Indies, the
more so as their treasures are inexhaustible.
“That their college, which they name the College of the
Holy Ghost, can suffer no injury; even should a hundred
thousand persons behold and remark it.
“That they possess several mysterious volumes in their
library, one of which, that, namely, which they prize next
to the Bib1e, is that which the revered and illuminated
father R. C. held in his right hand after death.
“Finally, that they are convinced and certain that the
truth of their maxims will abide to the very end of the
No voice appears to have been raised in France in defence
of the persecuted Order. “It is known upon the contemporary
authority of the Mercure de France,” says a writer in
“Chambers’ Journal,” “that a popular panic”—the natural
result of these atrocious calumnies—”was excited by the fear
of this mysterious sect, none of whose members had ever been
seen. . . . . The most absurd stories about them were daily
reported, and found listeners. An innkeeper asserted that
a mysterious stranger entered his inn, regaled himself on his
best, and suddenly vanished in a cloud when the bill was
presented. Another had been served as scurvy a trick by
a similar stranger, who lived upon the choicest fare, and
drunk the best wines of his house for a week, and paid him
with a handful of new gold coins, which turned into slates
on the following morning. It was also said that several
persons on awakening in the middle of the night found

page 401
individuals in their bed chambers, who suddenly became
invisible, though still palpable, when the alarm was raised.
Such was the consternation in Paris, that every man who
could not give a satisfactory account of himself was in
danger of being pelted to death; and quiet citizens slept
with loaded muskets at their bedsides, to take vengeance
upon any Rosicrucian who might violate the sanctity of
their chambers.”
In two years the excitement died away; no further
manifestoes were attempted, and the mysterious Order of
the Invisibles of the Rose-Cross, if it had in reality ever
visited Paris, migrated to more tolerant climes, and its
very existence was shortly afterwards forgotten in the
interests of the next ephemeral novelty.