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The History of that Curious Sect
of the Middle Ages,
Known as the Rosicrucians;

Examples of their Pretensions and Claims
as Set Forth in the Writings of Their Leaders
and Disciples.

A. Reader, Orange Street, Red Lion Square, London.


In the following pages an attempt has been made to convey something like
an intelligible idea of the peculiar mystic sect known to the readers of
history, as the Rosicrucians. The subject is confessedly difficult, owing
to the grossly absurd character of the writings left by the disciples of
this body, and the secrecy with which they sought to surround their
movements and clothe their words. Anything like a consecutive narration is
an impossibility, the materials at hand being so fragmentary and
disjointed. We have, however, done the best that we could with such facts
as were within reach, and if we are not able to present so scientific and
perfect a treatise as we might have hoped to do, we at least trust that
the following contribution to the scanty literature treating of this
matter will be found interesting, and will throw some light upon what is
shrouded in such profound mystery.











El Havareuna; or the English Physitian's Tutor, in the Astrobolismes of
Mettals Rosie Crucian, Miraculous Saphiric Medicines of the Sun and Moon,
the Astrolosmes of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars.... All harmoniously united
and opperated by Astromancy and Geomancy.... Whereunto is added
Psonthonphanchia.... the Books being also an appeal to the natural
faculties of the mind of man whether there be not a God. By John Heydon,
M.D. 1664.

The Holy Guide: leading the way to the Wonder of the World (a compleat
Physician) teaching the knowledge of all things, past, present, and to
come, viz., of pleasure, long life, health, youth, Blessedness, Wisdome,
Virtue; and to cure, change, and remedy all diseases in young or old. With
Rosie Crucian Medicines, etc. (The Rosie Cross uncovered, and the Places,
Temples, Holy Houses.... and invisible Mountains of the Brethren
discovered), etc. John Heydon. 1662.

A New Method of Rosie Crucian Physick, wherein is shewed the cause, and
therewith their experienced medicines for the cure of all diseases. John
Heydon. 1658.

A Quintuple Rosie Crucian Scourge, for the correction of that
pseudo-chymist, Geo. Thomson, being in part a vindication of the Society
of Physicians. John Heydon. 1665.

Theomagia, or the Temple of Wisdome. In three parts, spiritual, celestial
and elemental; containing the occult powers of the Angels of
Astromancy.... The Mysterious virtues of the character of the Stars....
The knowledge of the Rosie Crucian Physick. J. Heydon. 1662.

The Rosie Crucian Infallible Axiomata, or Generall Rules to know all
things past, present, and to come. Usefull, pleasant, and profitable to
all, and fitted to the understanding of mean capacities. John Heydon.

Rise and Attributes of the Rosi Crucians. By J. Von D - - .

Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History.

Brucker's History of Philosophy.

The Hermetick Romance, or Chemical Wedding. By C. Rosencreutz.

New Curiosities of Literature. G. Soane.

Tale of a Tub. Swift.

Notes and Queries. Series 1-8. 6 vols., 7, 8, 10.

Warburton's Commentary on the Rape of the Lock.

Spectator. Nos. 379, 574.

National Magazine. Vol. 1.

London Magazine. Vols. 9, 20.

Western Monthly. Vol. 3.

Book Lore. Vol. 3.

Plot's History of Staffordshire.

The Count of Gabalis, or the Extravagant Mysteries of the Cabalists.

Butler's Hudibras.

Mackay's Popular Delusions.

Higgins's Anacalypsis.

Fame and Confession of the Rosie Cross. E. Philateles.

Mackay's Symbolism of Freemasonry.

De Quincey on Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry.

Apologia Compendiaria Fraternitatis de Rosea Cruce.

Fama Fraternitatis. 1617, etc.



_Who and what were the Rosicrucians?_

The questions which present themselves on the threshold of this enquiry
are: - Who and what were the Rosicrucians? When and where did they
flourish, and what influence did any peculiar tenets they may have held,
or practices they may have indulged in, exercise upon the world? We shall
endeavour to answer these queries as distinctly as so mysterious and
extravagant a subject will allow of, and illustrate the whole by copious
extracts from the writings of recognized leaders and disciples.

Comparatively very little is known about these people; and, if we open any
of our works of general reference, such as dictionaries and encyclopædias,
we find little more than a bare reminder that they were a mystic sect to
be found in a few European countries about the middle of the fifteenth
century. That such a sect did exist is beyond question, and the opinion
that what is left of it exists at the present time in connection with
modern Freemasonry, seems not altogether destitute of foundation.

They appear to have a close connection with the Alchemists; springing into
existence as a distinct body when those enthusiastic seekers after the
power of transmuting the baser into the nobler metals were creating
unusual sensation. Somewhere about the end of the fifteenth century, a
Dutch pilot named Haussen, had the misfortune to be shipwrecked off the
coast of Scotland. The vessel was lost, but Haussen was saved by a Scotch
gentleman, one Alexander Seton, who put off in a boat and brought the
drowning mariner to land. A warm friendship sprang up between the two,
and, about eighteen months after, Seton went to Holland, and paid a visit
to the man whom he had rescued. During this visit he informed the Dutchman
that he was in possession of the secret of the philosopher's stone, and
report says that in his presence he actually transmuted large quantities
of base metal into the finest gold, which he left with him as a present.
Seton in due course took leave of his friend, and prosecuted his travels
through various parts of the continent. He made no attempt to conceal the
possession of his boasted secret, but openly talked of it wherever he went
and performed certain experiments, which he persuaded the people were
actual transmutations of base metal into gold. Unfortunately for him, the
Duke of Saxony heard the report of these wonders, and immediately had him
arrested and put to the torture of the rack to extract from him the
precious secret, or to compel him at least to use it in his especial
service. All was in vain, however, the secret, if such he really
possessed, remained locked up in his own breast, and he lay for months in
prison subjected to treatment which reduced him to mere skin and bone, and
well nigh killed him. A Pole, named Sendivogius, also an alchemist, an
enthusiast like the rest of the fraternity, who had spent time and fortune
in the wild and profitless search, then came upon the scene. The
sufferings of Seton aroused his sympathy, and he resolved to bring about,
if possible, his escape from the tyrant. After experiencing a deal of
difficulty he obtained permission to visit the prisoner, whom he found in
a dark and filthy dungeon, in a condition well nigh verging upon absolute
starvation. He immediately acquainted the unhappy man with his proposals,
which were listened to with the greatest eagerness, and Seton declared
that, if he succeeded in securing his liberation, he would make him one of
the wealthiest of living men. Sendivogius then set about his really
difficult task; and, with a view to its accomplishment, commenced a
curious and artful series of movements. His first move was to procure some
ready money, which he did by the sale of some property near Cracow. With
this he began to lead a gay and somewhat dissipated life at Dresden;
giving splendid banquets, to which he invited the officers of the guard,
particularly selecting those who were on duty at the prison. In the course
of time his hospitality had its expected effect; he entirely won the
confidence of the officials, and pretending that he was endeavouring to
overcome the obstinacy of the captive, and worm out his secret, was
allowed free access to him. It was at last resolved upon a certain day to
make the attempt at escape; and, having sent the guard to sleep by means
of some drugged wine, he assisted Seton over a wall, and led him to a
post-chaise, which he had conveniently waiting, to convey him into Poland.
In the vehicle Seton found his wife awaiting him, having with her a packet
of black powder, which was said to be the philosopher's stone by which
iron and copper could be transmuted into gold. They all reached Cracow in
safety, but Seton's sufferings had been so severe, and had so reduced his
physical strength, that he did not survive many months. He died about 1603
or 1604, leaving behind him a number of works marked Cosmopolite. Soon
after his death Sendivogius married the widow; and, according to the
accounts which have come down to us, was soon initiated into the methods
of turning the commoner metals into the finer. With the black powder, we
are told, he converted great quantities of quicksilver into the purest
gold, and that he did this in the presence of the Emperor Rudolph II. at
Prague, who, in commemoration of the fact, caused a marble tablet with an
inscription to be fixed in the wall of the room where the experiment was
performed. Whether the experiment was a cheat or not, the tablet was
really fixed in the said wall, and was seen and described by Desnoyens,
secretary to the Princess Mary of Gonzaga, Queen of Poland, in 1651.

Rudolph, the Emperor, seems to have been perfectly satisfied with the
success of the alchymist, and would have heaped the loftiest honours upon
him had he been disposed to accept of them; this, however, did not accord
with his inclination; he, it is said, preferred his liberty, and went to
reside on his estate at Gravarna, where he kept open house for all who
responded to his invitations. His biographer, Brodowski, who was also his
steward, insists, contrary to other writers, that the magic powder was red
and not black; that he kept it in a box of gold, and that with one grain
of it he could make a hundred ducats, or a thousand rix dollars, generally
using quicksilver as the basis of his operations. When travelling this box
was carried by the steward, who hung it round his neck by a golden chain;
the principal part of the powder, however, was hidden in a secret place
cut in the step of his chariot; this being deemed a secure place in the
event of being attacked by robbers. He appears to have lived in constant
fear of being robbed, and resorted to all manner of precautions to secure
his treasure when on a journey; for it is said that he was well known as
the possessor of this philosopher's stone, and that many adventurers were
on the watch for any opportunity to rob him.

Brodowski relates that a German prince once served him a scurvy trick,
which ever afterwards put him on his guard. The prince was so anxious to
see the wonderful experiments, of which he had heard so much, that he
actually fell upon his knees before the alchymist, when entreating him to
perform in his presence. Sendivogius, after much pressing, allowed his
objections to be overcome; and, upon the promise of secrecy by the prince,
showed him what he was so anxious to witness. No sooner, however, had the
alchymist left, than the prince entered into a conspiracy with another
alchymist, named Muhlenfels, for robbing Sendivogius of the powder he used
in his operations. Accompanied by twelve armed attendants, Muhlenfels
hastened after Sendivogius, and overtaking him at a lonely inn, where he
had stopped to dine, forcibly took from him his golden box containing a
little of the powder; a manuscript book on the philosopher's stone; a
golden medal, with its chain, presented to him by the Emperor Rudolph; and
a rich cap, ornamented with diamonds, of the value of one hundred thousand

Sendivogius was not at all disposed to put up with such treatment without
an effort to obtain redress, so he went at once to Prague, and laid his
complaint before the Emperor. The Emperor at once sent an express to the
prince, ordering him to deliver up Muhlenfels and his plunder. Alarmed at
the aspect that things were now assuming, the prince, treacherous to one
man as he had been to the other, erected gallows in his courtyard and
hanged Muhlenfels with a thief on either side of him. He sent back the
jewelled hat, the medal and chain, and the book in manuscript; the powder,
he said, he knew nothing of.

Sendivogius now adopted a different mode of living altogether to that
which he had formerly been addicted to; he pretended to be excessively
poor, and would sometimes keep his bed for weeks together, to make the
people conclude it was impossible for him to be the owner of the
philosopher's stone. He died in the year 1636, upwards of eighty, and was
buried at Gravarna.

Now, it is commonly held by most people, who have studied the subject,
that there is a close and intimate connection between the Alchymists and
the Rosicrucians; probably this is true, and a perusal of the works of
John Heydon, and others of a similar character, will deepen the
impression. It was, indeed, during the life of Sendivogius that the
Rosicrucians first began to make a mark in Europe, and cause anything
approaching to a sensation. A modern writer says: - "The influence which
they exercised upon opinion during their brief career, and the permanent
impression which they have left upon European literature, claim for them
especial notice. Before their time alchemy was but a grovelling delusion;
and theirs is the merit of having spiritualised and refined it. They also
enlarged its sphere, and supposed the possession of the philosopher's
stone to be, not only the means of wealth, but of health and happiness,
and the instrument by which man could command the services of superior
beings, control the elements to his will, defy the obstructions of time
and space, and acquire the most intimate knowledge of all the secrets of
the universe."[1]

It is a fact well known to all well-informed readers, that at this time
the European continent was saturated with the most degrading
superstitions. Devils were supposed to walk the earth, and to mingle in
the affairs of men; evil spirits, in the opinion even of the wise and
learned, were thought to be at the call of any one who would summon them
with the proper formalities; and witches were daily burned in all the
capitals of Europe. The new sect taught a doctrine less repulsive. They
sprang up in Germany, extended with some success to France and England,
and excited many angry controversies. Though as far astray in their
notions as the Demonologists and witch believers, the creed was more
graceful. They taught that the elements swarmed not with hideous, foul and
revengeful spirits, but with beautiful creatures, more ready to do man
service than to inflict injury. They taught that the earth was inhabited
by Gnomes, the air by Sylphs, the fire by Salamanders, and the water by
Nymphs or Undines; and that man, by his communication with them, might
learn the secrets of nature, and discover all those things which had
puzzled philosophers for ages - Perpetual Motion, the Elixir of Life, the
Philosopher's Stone, and the Essence of Invisibility.

Respecting the origin and signification of the term Rosicrucian different
opinions have been held and expressed. Some have thought it was made up of
_rosa_ and _crux_ (a _rose_ and a _cross_) but it is maintained by others
upon apparently good authority, that it is a compound of ros (dew) and
crux (cross). Mosheim contends that it is abundantly attested that the
title of Rosicrucians was given to the chemists who united the study of
religion with the search after chemical secrets, the term itself being
chemical, and not to be understood without a knowledge of the style used
by the chemists. We shall give some extracts from very old Rosicrucian
works presently which will enlighten our readers in such matters.

A cross in the language of the fire philosophers is the same as Lux
(light), because the figure of a + exhibits all the three letters of the
word _Lux_ at one view. Moreover, this sect applied the term _Lux_ to the
_seed or menstruum of the Red Dragon_, or to that crude and corporeal
light which, being properly concocted and digested, produces gold. A
Rosicrucian, therefore, is a philosopher who, by means of _dew_ seeks for
_light_ - that is, for the substance of the philosopher's stone.

Mosheim declares the other interpretations of this name to be false and
deceptive, being the inventions of the chemists themselves, who were
exceedingly fond of concealment, for the sake of imposing on others who
were hostile to their religious views. The true import of this title, he
says, was perceived by the sagacity of Peter Gassendi, Examen Philosophiæ
Fluddanæ, sec. 15, in his Opp. iii, 261; though it was more lucidly
explained by the celebrated French physician Eusebius Renaudot,
_Conférences Publiques_, iv. 87.

In 1619 Dr. Jo. Valentine Andreæ, a celebrated Lutheran divine, published
his Tower of Babel, or Chaos of Opinions respecting the Fraternity of the
Rosy-Cross, in which he represents the whole history as a farce, and gave
intimations that _he_ was _himself_ concerned in getting it up.

Brucker says to the class of Theosophists has been commonly referred the
entire society of Rosicrucians, which, at the beginning of the seventeenth
century, made so much noise in the ecclesiastical and literary world. The
history of this society, which is attended with some obscurity, seems to
be as follows: - "Its origin is referred to a certain German, whose name
was Rosencreuz who, in the fourteenth century, visited the Holy Sepulchre;
and, in travelling through Asia and Africa, made himself acquainted with
many Oriental secrets; and who, after his return, instituted a small
fraternity, to whom he communicated the mysteries he had learned, under an
oath of inviolable secrecy. This society remained concealed till the
beginning of the seventeenth century, when two books were published, the
one entitled, _Fama Fraternitatis laudabilis Ordinis Rosæcrusis_: "The
report of the laudable Fraternity of Rosicrucians;" the other, _Confessio
Fraternitatis_, "The Confession of the Fraternity." In these books the
world was informed that this fraternity was enabled, by Divine revelation,
to explain the most important secrets, both of nature and grace; that they
were appointed to correct the errors of the learned world, particularly in
philosophy and medicine; that they were possessed of the philosopher's
stone, and understood both the art of transmuting metals and of prolonging
human life; and, in fine, by their means the golden age would return. As
soon as these grand secrets were divulged, the whole tribe of the
Paracelsists, Theosophists and Chemists flocked to the Rosicrucian
standard, and every new and unheard-of mystery was referred to this
fraternity. It is impossible to relate how much noise this wonderful
discovery made, or what different opinions were formed concerning it.
After all, though the laws and statutes of the society had appeared, no
one could tell where the society itself was to be found, or who really
belonged to it. It was imagined by some sagacious observers, that a
certain important meaning was concealed under the story of the
Rosicrucian fraternity, though they were wholly unable to say what it was.
One conjectured that some chemical mystery lay hid behind the allegorical
tale; another supposed that it foretold some great ecclesiastical
revolution. At last Michael Breler, in the year 1620, had the courage
publicly to declare that he certainly knew the whole story to have been
the contrivance of some ingenious persons who chose to amuse themselves by
imposing upon the public credulity. This declaration raised a general
suspicion against the whole story; and, as no one undertook to contradict
it, this wonderful society daily vanished, and the rumours, which had been
spread concerning it, ceased. The whole was probably a contrivance to
ridicule the pretenders to secret wisdom and wonderful power, particularly
the chemists, who boasted that they were possessed of the philosopher's
stone. It has been conjectured - and the satirical turn of his writings,
and several particular passages in his works, favour the conjecture - that
this farce was invented and performed, in part at least, by John Valentine
Andrea of Wartenburg."[2]

Pope, in the dedication of his Rape of the Lock to Mrs. Arabella Fermor,
wrote: - "I know how disagreeable it is to make use of hard words before a
lady; but it is so much the concern of a poet to have his works
understood - and particularly by your sex - that you must give me leave to
explain two or three difficult terms.

"The Rosicrucians are a people I must bring you acquainted with. The best
account I know of them is in a French book called Le Comte de Gabalis,
which, both in its title and size, is so like a novel, that many of the
fair sex have read it for one by mistake. According to these gentlemen,
the four elements are inhabited by spirits, which they call sylphs,
gnomes, nymphs and salamanders. The gnomes, or demons of earth, delight
in mischief; but the sylphs, whose habitation is in the air, are the best
conditioned creatures imaginable; for they say any mortals may enjoy the
most intimate familiarities with these gentle spirits, upon a condition
very easy to all true adepts, an inviolate preservation of chastity."

On the lines (verse 20, canto 1): -

"Belinda still her downy pillow prest,
Her guardian sylph prolonged the balmy rest."

in Pope's Rape of the Lock, Warburton thus comments: -

"When Mr. Pope had projected to give the Rape of the Lock its present form
of a mock-heroic poem, he was obliged to find it with its machinery. For,
as the subject of the Epic consists of two parts, the metaphysical and the
civil; so this mock epic, which is of the satiric kind, and receives its
grace from a ludicrous mimicry of other's pomp and solemnity, was to have
the like compounded nature. And as the civil part is intentionally debased
by the choice of a trifling action; so should the metaphysical by the
application of some very extravagant system. A rule which, though neither
Boileau nor Garth had been careful enough to attend to, our author's good
sense would not suffer him to overlook. And that sort of machinery which
his judgment informed him was only fit for use, his admirable invention
soon supplied. There was but one systematic extravagance in all nature
which was to his purpose, the Rosicrucian Philosophy; and this by the
effort of a well-directed imagination, he presently seized. The fanatic
Alchemists, in the search after the great secret, had invented a means
altogether to their end: it was a kind of Theological Philosophy, made up
in a mixture of almost equal parts of Pagan Platonism, Christian Quietism
and the Jewish Cabbala; a mixture monstrous enough to frighten reason from
human commerce. This system, he tells us, he took as he found it in a
little French tract called, _La Comte de Gabalis_. This book is written

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