Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/208

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196
OPEN SECRET SOCIETIES.

elements, precise and assured in its results as the combination and proportions of oxygen and hydrogen in water, or oxygen and nitrogen in air. No spy or traitor, no unworthy or uncongenial brother, can obtain entrance among them, any more than a hemlock or a lily can be adopted into the family of the roses, any more than an ape or a tiger can pass as one of a herd of elephants. Their esoteric doctrines are the most spontaneous and independent thoughts of each and every of their members; their secret watchwords are the most free and public expressions of their members; their mysterious signals are telegraphed in the most careless gestures which all eyes may see. The watchwords and symbols change from generation to generation, the supreme secrets are immutable from the beginning to the end of Time. Exactly what they cherish and adore as the inmost mystery of their being, their whole being ever strives to utter most clearly abroad to the senses and hearts and intellects of the whole world; thus the mystery still inviolate must for ever be inviolable, for there can be no new or better means of expression and interpretation: only the initiated ever truly hear and read it, to all others it is sound without meaning and letters without significance. They are without machinery to regulate and propagate themselves; yet the rank of each brother is fixed with more than heraldic precision, and no one who should be of the confraternity ever fails to be gathered into it; and it endures aggregating throughout the centuries and the millenniums, while creeds and systems collecting millions of money and scattering thousands of missionaries languish and die away. They have not consciously signs of fraternity; yet a brother shall recognise a brother immediately by a glance, a gesture, a casual word, and the two shall be straightway as if they had been intimate from childhood. They have no set councils or lodges: yet the