There sometimes appear men formed with such unhappy dispositions, that we are led to consider them in no other view than as emanations from the evil genius, bereft by the avenging God of the power of doing good. Imbecil in the sphere of wisdom, such men are only efficient in the arts of vice and destruction; they are ingenious in those conceptions, skilful in that cunning, and fruitful in those resources which enable them despotically to reign in the schools of falsehood, depravity, and wickedness. In competition with the Sophisters, these men will surpass them in the arts of exhibiting error in false and delusive colours; of disguising the vicious passions under the mask of virtue; and of clothing impiety in the garb of Philosophy. In the den of conspirators they are pre-eminent by the atrocity of their deeds; they excel in the arts of preparing revolutions, and of combining the downfal of the Altar with that of Empires. If their career be ever impeded, it is only when they approach the paths of virtue and of real science. When Heaven in its wrath permits a being of this species to appear on the earth, it has only to put nations within the sphere of his activity, and it will be awfully avenged.
With such qualities, and under such auspices, was born in Bavaria, about the year 1748, Adam Weishaupt, better known in the annals of the sect by the name of Spartacus. To the eternal shame of his Serene protector, this impious man, heretofore Professor of Law at the University of Ingolstadt, but now banished from his country as a traitor to his Prince and to the whole universe, peacefully at the court of Ernest Lewis, Duke of Saxe Gotha, enjoys an asylum, receives a pension from the public treasury, and is dignified with the title of Honorary Counsellor to that Prince.
An odious phenomenon in nature, an Atheist void of remorse, a profound hypocrite, destitute of those superior talents which lead to the vindication of truth, he is possessed of all that energy and ardour in vice which generates conspirators for impiety and anarchy. Shunning, like the ill-boding owl, the genial rays of the sun, he wraps around him the mantle of darkness; and history shall record of him, as of the evil spirit, only the black deeds which he planned or executed. Of mean birth, his youth was passed in obscurity, and but a single trait of his private life has pierced the cloud in
which he had enveloped himself—but it is one of hateful depravity and of the most consummate villany.—Incestuous Sophister! it was the widow of his brother whom he seduced.—Atrocious father! it was for the murder of his offspring that he solicited poison and the dagger.—Execrable hypocrite! he implored, he conjured both art and friendship to destroy the innocent victim, the child whose birth must betray the morals of his father. The scandal from which he shrinks is not that of his crime; it is (he says and writes it himself) the scandal which, publishing of the depravity of his heart, would deprive him of that authority by which, under the cloak of virtue, he plunged youth into vice and error.—Monstrous Sophister! he accuses the devils of not having skreened him from this scandal by those abominations which called the vengeance of the God of Nature on the son of Judah.—Then, impudently daring, he perjures himself; he calls every thing that is sacred to witness, that neither he nor his friends ever knew of the existence of those poisons or secret means of skreening him from infamy, much less that they had ever proposed, sought, or employed them. He challenges, and at length forces, the magistrates to prove the accusation; they produce the letters of the perjured Sophister, and therein we behold him entreating a first, a second, and even a third confidant, to seek, or cause to be sought, and to communicate to him, these horrid arts. We see him recalling promises of three years standing with respect to these means. He complains of the little success of his attempts, he accuses the agents of timidity or of ignorance; he entreats and conjures them to renew their attempts, telling them, that it was not yet too late, but that expedition was necessary. Who can paint the depravity of this single trait. How monstrous the being who could have combined such depravity! That the God who humiliates the Sophister should have permitted this single trait to have been brought to light, will suffice to show how far wickedness may be carried by the man who, with virtue on his tongue, and under the shade of that sacred name, was forming and fanaticising the blood-thirsty legions of a Robespierre.