Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/206

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

a spy of the Government; the man who speaks most loudly against the Society may be a member in the confidence of some of the chiefs, if not of the Chief, and may be a genuine supporter of the Government. The man who communicates some sign of fraternity and wishes to converse intimately on the Society, may be a real devoted member, may be one who without taking on the vows of initiation has discovered this sign, may be a Government spy who has been charged to get initiated in order to thoroughly betray, may be a double Judas who sells Government secrets to the Chief, and Society secrets to the Government. As a double Judas, he may be at bottom more the friend of the Chief than of the Government, or more the friend of the Government than of the Chief: he may have the connivance of the Chief in denouncing unimportant members and mysteries to the Government; he may have the connivance of the Government in revealing unimportant or quasi-important State secrets to the Society; and except the Chief himself no member can be sure that his own sacrifice may not be considered expedient in the interests of the Society. There are thus wheels within wheels whirling and intervolving to make the soundest head dizzy. Where all move in darkness you cannot discern whether your companions wear a single or a sevenfold veil. All the members must breathe that frenzying atmosphere of preternatural suspicion, which was the miasma of the Reign of Terror: I suspect, thou suspectest, he suspects; we, you, and they suspect, and are suspected; and we suspect that we are suspected, and are suspected that we suspect. Why should not the Chief himself be a super-subtle minion of the State? How can the Chief himself know whether large numbers of the affiliated are or are not subtle minions of the State? Why should not the Chief himself, even if sincere, have ends beyond ends in view which the mass of the Society have no knowledge of, and can but set their brains whirling by