Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/207

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guessing at? Why—as the Society is a state within the State—may there not be a society within the Society, ready to overthrow it in the moment it overthrows the State? And after all, should the Society succeed and become the ruling power, what a tenfold more terrible tryanny would this unknown phantom Chief exercise than any known Czar, Sultan, Emperor, King, Oligarchy, Timocracy, or Ochlocracy.

Thus it appears to me that the best Secret Societies (earnest and not sportive in their ends) must inherently be bad. They are based on the erroneous assumption that the thoughts and sentiments of mankind, that human nature, can be improved by machinery; that the Spirit of the Ages, the Zeitgeist, can be hurried forward by cunningly devised wheels and pistons. The wind that bloweth where it listeth wall work windmills well-planted to catch its breath, the stream flowing ever unhasting, unresting, wall work watermills well-placed to meet its current; but mill-sails cannot direct the wind, nor mill-wheels engender rivers.

In contrast to such Chinese ingenuities, so clever and so futile, there always have been and always will be in the world countless genuine Secret Societies of the most open, while of the most hidden, character. Continuous and unadulterate these have flowed, separate streams through the Sea of Time, from an antiquity which makes all nobilities and castes unreverend; holding in solution secrets and mysteries so august, so ineffable, that those of Illuminati and Rosicrucians, and even the Eleusinian and the Orphean and the Osirean, are jejune and puerile compared with them.

Their members are affiliated for life and death in the instant of being born; without ceremonies of initiation, without sponsorial oaths of fidelity. Their bond of union is a natural affinity, quite mysterious in its principles and