Fama Fraternitatis – History
S.R.I.A. edition, now online in public domain
Then, did any body of men styling themselves the Fraternitas R.C. exist in 1610 or 1614, or are the Rosicrucian manifestoes the work of one man. And in either case was the project of the new association seriously meant and genuinely undertaken, or is the whole simply an elaborate hoax, to which no more serious purpose ought to be attributed than possibly to convey a practical warning against the credulity of the age.
The hoax theory has of recent years been vigorously championed by Begemann, the leading German authority on the Rosicrucian literature, who has laid down as axiomatic that only the first editions of the Fama and the Confessio have any significance, the other editions being merely publisher’s reprints’
These first editions, as will be seen, are in some respects peculiar and the admission may be made that if they were all we possessed, the balance of evidence would be in favour of Begemann’s view.
But a study of all the editions will show that Begemann’s theory will not hold, that the later publications are not to be separated from the first editions; and that there is definite evidence from first to last of a controlling intelligence, a methodical development and a reasoned purpose. Further it will appear that the latest editions have even more authority than the experimental and tentative first, editions in solving the question of whether the movement is to be regarded as jest or earnest; and that their evidence strongly supports the view that the attempt to establish a Fraternity was meant seriously. Lastly it will be shown that the documents point beyond doubt to the co-operation of more than one person and not to the authorship of a single individual; in other words, that the Fraternitas R.C., or a nucleus of such a Fraternity, did exist.
We shall now examine the various appearances of the Fama and Confessio, marking each edition with a capital letter, and giving to each component document a number. In every case these documents are recapitulated in the order they occupy in the edition:—
A. The first edition of the Fama appeared at Cassel in Hesse not later than the beginning of August, 1614 (1): It bore the title:—
Universal and General Reformation of the Whole
Wide World; together with the Fames Fraternitatis
of the Laudable Order of the Rosy Cross, written to
all the Learned and Rulers of Europe; also a short
Reply sent by Herr Haselmeyer, for which he was
seized by the Jesuits and put in irons on a Galley,
Now put forth in print and communicated to all true
Printed at Cassel by Wilhelm Wessel, 1614.
“The statement is often found that the Fama was printed before 1614. That it was in circulation in manuscript before 1614 is certain, but no trace of an earlier printed edition has ever been disinterred, and the words of Julian de Campis quoted on p. 20 seem decisive (2) We must then regard all references of earlier date to the Fama as having reference to copies of the manuscript. Edition A, of 147 pages, is composed of four documents in the following order:-
1. The first preface;
2. The General Reformation;
3. The Fama;
4. Haselmeyer’s reply.
The problems raised by the Preface and the Reformation will most conveniently be discussed later. We will only note here that three-fourths of the book is occupied by the Reformation and that the Fama occupies a completely subordinate place both in title-page and text.
(1) I deduce the date of August from documents Nos. 5 arid 13, to be described presently. Julian de Campis (p. 20) also may be noted in confirmation.
(2) “In Phlensthioure andas, Hoc est Redinteoratio an die Fraternitet von Rosen Creutze”, a work published anonymously in 1619, occurs the statement that the Fama was published in five languages in 1812. The five languages is pretty certainly a myth (see p. 35), and the date is not more probable. The statement is probably based on Haselmeyer, who declares his reply to have been written in 1812, but assigns no date to the Fama.
The text of the Fama is given on pp. 1-32 of Vaughan’s translation. Haselmeyer’s reply will be found translated on pp. 57ff. It is a fair example of the style of most of the replies to the Fraternity, and is the most frequently quoted of all, as it contains the information that the writer saw a manuscript of the Fama in the Tyrol in the year 1610. Otherwise it is a worthless production, so ungrammatical and incoherent as to be in parts almost untranslateable (1)
B. The second edition was produced, also at Cassel by Wilhelm \Vessel, before the end of the year 1614. We need pay little attention to this, as save for some minor details of spelling, etc., it is simply a reprint of Edition A; it contains, however, one additional document inserted at the end after No. 4 :—
5. Epistle and Message to the Fratres R.C. written and sent by M.H. and LI., 14 August 1614.
A short appeal for admission to the Fraternity – “Highly illuminated, God-wise and chosen men, beloved brethren of the Rosy Cross, your book called Fama Fraternitatis was shown and lent me by a Doctor of Medicine, my good friend. I have read it with wonder that God in these latter days should have displayed forth so bright a light and decked it with such peculiar learning and wisdom. . . Now not only Spartam gown nactus ut ornem, but from my great desire to cultivate and promote these hitherto unknown arts, I beg . . to be accepted into the Brotherhood. For myself, I am nobly-born, in youth destined for letters; later I went to the wars, now am an Occonomicas and Alicuss. I am married but have no children, come of honourable parents and though I hold a position of responsibility, thanks to God I enjoy a good name as well as my daily bread. Further I have spoken in confidence to a respectable citizen, who had some schooling in his youth and is now a Politicus; he is also willing to offer his services to the Christian and Laudable Order. . . . We then request the Brethren at their discretion to choose some opportunity of judging us for themselves; for we hold them to be Christian people, and hence we have the less objection to converse with them in person. And seeing that, despite our earnest longings, we must not be observed in correspondence, let the laudable Brethren scatter their letters to us in Leipzig and the places around.” . . .
(1) For Haselmeyer, see also p. 34.
The only point which need detain us here is the date, which serves to fix the time of the appearance of A. The reason for the inclusion of this document is one which will become more apparent as we proceed, namely, a desire to manifest to the world that some people were taking the Fraternity seriously and were coming forward to join it. But the caution manifested in the concluding paragraph was not likely to encourage other aspirants, and we shall find a little later, in edition F, which contains the most careful selection of these replies, that No. 5 is dropped; and only once again, in J, does it. recur.
We have now reached the end of the year 1614, and it will be observed that the Fama alone has hitherto appeared, although this contains allusions to the Confessio, which will be examined later. In the following year, 1615, no less than six editions appear, one of the Confessio alone, five of the two works These fall into two groups, C, D and E, which must be dated to the beginning of the year, and F, G, H, of which H, the latest, was in print by August.
It will be shown later that the Confessio, though projected, was not written when Edition A was published. The first trace of the existence of the Confessio is found in Document 11, when a correspondent at Frankfurt had just seen it at the end of November, 1614. This has led some writers to suppose an editio princeps of the Confessio in 1614; but here again, as in the case of the Fama, there is absolutely no trace of the existence of such an edition. The explanation is probably that, like the Fama, the Confessio was allowed to circulate for a short time in manuscript; Cassel and Frankfurt are not far apart, and we shall observe other instances of a Teutonic adherence to precedent on the part of the publishers. On the other hand, in Document 12 we have a writer who has read the Confessio by 12th January, 1615. This again might refer to a manuscript copy, but seeing that in any case the first group of editions, which is obviously earlier than the second, must be assigned to the first months of 1615, it more probably refers to the printed edition and enables us to place the appearance of the first edition of the Confessio in the first days of January. The title of this edition is:—
C. “A Brief Consideration of Occult Philosophy, written by Philip a Gabella, Student of Philosophy and now published for the first time, together with the Confessio of the Fraternitas R.C.
Printed at Cassel by Wilhelm Wessel, printer to the Most Illustrious Prince, 1615”
On the fly-leaf runs “God give thee of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth.”
The whole book is in Latin and comprises two documents.-
6. The Brevis Consideratio of Gabella, comprising a dedication, an introduction, nine chapters of text and a final prayer.
7.The Confessio, in fourteen chapters and preceded by the short preface by which it is invariably accompanied.
This edition will call for detailed examination later; we may observe though that the subordinate place occupied by the Rosicrucian manifesto in A is here repeated in exaggerated form. The Confessio is barely mentioned, and in the smallest of type, ou the title-page; the text also is in smaller type than the Consideratio, on which the publisher obviously desired to focus attention.
The second edition of 1615 is quite different in plan:—
D. “Fama Fraternitatis, that is, Report of the Brotherhood. of the Highly Laudable Order of the R.C. — To all Learned and Princes of Europe, together with their Latin Confessio, which hath never before appeared in print, but now, in response to many enquiries, is printed accompanied by a German translation and communicated in all good faith to friendly Souls and true Hearts. By a Philomagus who loveth and desireth Light, Truth and Peace.
Printed at Cassel by Wilhelm Wessel, 1615.” The contents of this are:-
3. Fama (observe that no preface to the Fama appears in this edition).
7. Latin Confessio, as in C.
8. German Confessio (the first translation, which preserves the division into chapters of the Latin original).
It has been suggested by one writer (1) that this is the editio princeps of the Confessio;
(1) Katsch, Entstehung der Freimauerei, p. 118. It is only fair to Katsch to add that he admits that he had never seen an example of C, which is of the utmost rarity; there is a copy in the British Museum.
but the worth on the title-page on which the argument is based are without, value, for all the Cassel editions have a trick of proclaiming themselves the editio princeps; even J of 1616 reads ” Printed for the first time at Cassel, 1616.” The probability that the Latin Confessio preceded the Confessio plus translation is overwhelming; we shall also find later that edition C was deliberately modelled on A, the editio princeps of the Fama; in fact, with this single exception, there is a general agreement that C preceded D. The interval between the two, however, is improbably more than a few weeks.
E. An edition appeared at Marburg in Hesse in 1615, and resembled D in that it contained at least Documents 3, 7 and 8; it is therefore to be attached to the first group. Unfortunately not a single copy is known to have survived, and we cannot say whether it was a simple reprint of D, or whether it occupied an intermediate position between D and F (1)
F.With this edition the scene ohanges to Frankfurt-on-the¬Main and henceforward all editions are controlled from Frankfurt, and with one exception (K) based on F, the arrangement of which should be carefully noted. A new preface is placed at the head of the Fama; the Latin Confessio is dropped; the Reformation, which has disappeared since B, is re-published, but inconspicuously at the end, in contrast to the predominant position it occupied previously; and in front of it, separating it from the Rosicrucian writings, come four replies, of which the first two (4 and 9) claim to have seen the Fama before it was printed and the last (11) makes a similar claim for the Confessio. The title-page of F runs:-
“Fama Fraternitatis, or Discovery of the Brotherhood
of the Laudable Order of the Rosy Cross; together
with the Confessio, or Revelation, of the same
Fraternity; written to all Learned and Princes of
Europe; also some Replies to the Fama, written by
Herr Haselmeyer and other learned men, together
with a Discourse on the General Reformation of the
World. Now emended of many errors, improved and
set forth in open print, with God’s help, for the good
of all true Hearts.
Printed at Frankfurt on the Mayn by Johann Bringer,
in commission for Johann Berner, 1615.”
(1) Its existence is proved by marginal notes in the Iudicium Theolooicum, oder Christfiches und Kurtzes Bedenken von der Fama and Confessio, by David Meders, 1616. It was also quoted in a second tract published at Rostock in 1618. (See Murr, Ursprung der Freimauerei, p. 47).
From the fact that a complete Dutch translation of this edition was published before the end of August, it is reasonable to conclude that F appeared not later than May or June. The full contents are:—
1a. The preface in its second form (this is the one translated in Vaughau’s edition, entitled “To the Wise and Understanding Reader “.
3. The Fama.
8a. The German Confessio (the second German translation, in which the division into chapters of the Latin original is disregarded. From now on this seoond version is always employed).
4. Haselmeyer’s Reply;
9. “Reply to the Christian Brethren of the Rosy Cross” signed I.M.P. Medicus (1) and dated 12th January, 1614.
This is a long and noteworthy reply, mainly composed of macrocosmical speculations; but at the end comes the following passage :—” Some have been of the opinion that the Fama of your Fraternity was a metaphorical and enigmatical book and that what it contains about the grave of your Father and the beginning of the wisdom of your Fraternity had a veiled meaning regarding Philosophy; and many have doubted whether the Fraternity was real or only to be understood metaphorically But these doubts have been removed by your reply to a good friend at Prague, who soon after receiving it caught the plague and died. I had written the preceding pages to you in the beginning of June 1613, and up to Decem. ber, nay, even this January, I remained in my doubt; but this reply of yours, which I had not previously seen, sot my doubts at rest and moved me to seek and address you.” A little later he remarks, ” since I first saw your writings, on 28th June, 1613,”
10. Another reply, undated, written from Linz in Austria by two poor students, who sign as M.V.S. and A.Q.L.I.H. They will await the reply of the Fraternity” in the garden at Wels (2) or wherever it may please God to let us live”;
(1) Later editions give the name as I.B.P.
(2) Linz is on the Danube west of Vienna; Wels lies to the south of Linz.
11. Another reply, written on the last day of November, 1614. by G.A D from Frankfurt. The writer will await the reply either at Frankfurt or wherever God and the Fraternity may ordain. ” Wonderfully illuminated men; Words fail to express the joy with which I read first your Fame, and now your Confessio.” This is the first dated reference to the Confessio; otherwise the document has no interest.
2. The General Reformation.
G.The next edition was printed at Danzig by Andreas Hiinefeldt. This is a reprint of F, save that it omits the Reformation and in its place prints one additional reply, the pages of which are not numbered:-
12. A Reply to the Fraternity dated 12th January, 1615, and signed C.H.C , who describes himself at a “Lover of Perfect Wisdom,” and who has read both Fama and Confessio. He begins soberly enough but the Microcosm of Father R.C. rouses him to several pages of ecstatio eloquence. “I should not thus have addressed you with¬out naming myself; but for certain weighty reasons I have an objection to giving my name save under the seal of secrecy; but, as you have declared, so great is your wisdom that the thoughts and acts of the peoples of the uttermost parts of the earth, even in India or Peru, cannot remained concealed from you.” This reply is not written without a certain method despite its extravaganoes, which I suspect were not intended over seriously.
H. Before the end of August, (1) 1615, a Dutch translation of F appeared, bearing at the bottom of the title page “Printed from the Copy of Jan Berner at Frankfurt, Anno 1615.” This of course does not imply that it was printed at Frankfurt, and Amsterdam is the most probable place of origin. It follows F with two exceptions; Reply No. 12, which we have just met in G, is placed between Nos. 11 and 2, that is, before the General Reformation, taking its place in the sequence of replies. But having thus preserved the scheme of F, the Dutch editor promptly spoils the arrangement by tacking on a new reply after the General Reformation by way of postcript or after-thought:-
13. ” Reply to the Fama Fraternitatis of the Rosy Cross, by an author devoted to the Hermetic Art of Medicine.” Contrary to the usual practice, this writer sets down his name and address like a man —
(1) See Document No. 18.
“Andreas Hoberveschel von Hobernfeld, Doctor of Medicine and Amateur of Chemistry. . . . Written at Prague, 1st September, 1614.” He had read ” that very learned, truthful and wise, Magical and Cabalistical work,” the Fama, but does not refer to the Confessio. The bulk of the reply is an attempt to answer his two self-imposed questions, “Wat is die Ladder Jakobs? Wat is die Flotel Davids?” and we need not follow him through the maze of theology in which he speedily loses himself.
I. Buhle (1) states that a French translation was printed at Amsterdam in 1616; this would presumably be based on H, but I have been unable to find a copy, or any reference to it in later authorities.
J. This, the largest edition of all, was printed at Cassel by Wilhelm Wessel in 1616, shortly after May. (2) Curiously enough, it is based not on the earlier Cassel editions but on F (of Frankfurt). The title-page is the same as F, adding after the General Reformation “with four replies annexed thereto.” The first two-thirds of the book is a simple reprint of F, after which Reply No. 5 from B is inserted; then comes a new document:-
14. “Reply to the Fama and Confessio, by a sincere searcher for the wisdom of God and Nature. In silentio et spe erit fortitudo vestra; nil prophanum in Philosophiae (sic).” A short and pathetic appeal for admission by one who “through great toil and tribulation has brought the course of his life nearly to its end.” He begs the Fraternity to visit his poverty in Leipzig, Magdeburg, or wherever in that district may be convenient. At the end is appended a specimen of his philosophical attainments, three weirdly impressive pages of scraps of alchemical formula interspersed with such gems as Mens sana in corpore sano. He gives his name and age as paVLVs and dates the work on 10th July Anno Salutis
Sio MIhI offert fortItVdo IehoVa (=1615).
This is followed by No. 12, which we met in G and H; the rest of the book contains new material and first comes a more important work:
(1) Buhle, Ursprung d. Freimauerei, p. 181.
(2) Compare No. 20.
15. “Letter or Report to all who have read or heard anything concerning the new Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross; by Julianus de Campis.”Written “in Belbosco” 24th April, .1615. (1)
This is not an appeal for admission, but a reasoned defence and justification of the Order, which merits detailed attention; but only the most striking passages can be quoted here. “Many will be aware of the unfortunate reception accorded to a discourse on the Reformation of the World which first appeared in print at Cassel about summer of last year, 1614, and of the still more pitiful fate which befell the annexed Fama Fraternitatis.” But all inventions are liable to be received with scepticism or ridicule. That applications for admission have not been answered does not prove the Fraternity a myth; many are called but few are chosen. In all his life he has meet but three members of the Order. “Some people again cannot see why along with the Fama should have been printed the General Reformation, which is a piece of comedy; and hence they have imagined the Declaration of the Fraternity to be also a fable. True, something is hinted and concealed in the Reformation which cloth not appear on the surface; but this is of small consequence in comparison with the deep wisdom of the Fama. I myself fell into error through this when I knew no better; for it is not expedient to associate a weighty secret book with a slight and open discourse.” But the reason for the association is to dissuade persons who have no discrimination from applying to the Order. The Brethren are not preachers or Theologi, but Theosophi; and if they despise gold-making as a mere parergon, it is because for them the true ergon and the highest wisdom is the knowledge of God.” Some may ask, where is the Fraternity and where may a College of the Brethren be found? Thereto I tell thee that the Brethren in their writings give to understand, as thou thyself mayest read, that as yet no incorporated assembly of all Rosicrucians in one certain spot hath been held or ordained, but the College with its ordinances will come to pass in time.” Nothing is known of the identity of the author, (2) who was thirty-three years of age and had lived a life of roving adventure;
(1) i.e., in Frankfurt, where this work had appeared independently in 1615.
(2) In 1618 he was at Erfurt, where he inserted a short but vitriolic attack on J. V. Andreae’s Menippus into a chemical work entitled Tetras Chymiatrica, by Arnold Kerner.
he writes like a man of the world, wasting no time on Jacob’s Ladder, or hid treasures of Paracelsus. (1)
16. A short reply written in Latin from Amsterdam in December, 1615, inviting the Fraternity to establish a seat in Holland. “Your Fama and Confessio have reached us here in Holland. You will have many nobles here to lead the way, who long for the RC.” Signed T.B.
17. Simple Reply and Petition of a Layman, but a Lover of Wisdom, signed by L.V.; undated. “I heartily regret that your Fama and Confessio did not reach me before the Frankfurt Easter Fair of this year 1615. . . . as your meeting place is unknown to me, would that I might be transported there by the Angel of the Lord, even as the Prophet Habakkuk . . . I would gladly leave my fields, my oxen, even my earthly wife . . it has doubtless not escaped you that some scoffers speak slightingly of your Reformation and defame your Fama . . . to which I reply that you do not boast to heal the sick or make gold by your own powers, but strive to discover the works of God and the hidden arts . . . should you enquire where I am to be found, I have confided to a good friend in Leipzig, he is from Frankfurt on the Main and will know where to find me, he is to be found with the Printer whose name is on the front of this book.”
After this Reply, No. 10, which had already appeared in its due order, is reprinted by some editorial oversight.
18. Reply to the Fama and Confessio, signed by M.B. at Amsterdam, 4th September, 1615. “The Dutch translation of your tract De fame Fraternitatis (sic) reached me in August; I hastened forthwith to get the original German text printed at Frankfurt.”
“Assertio or Confirmation of the Fraternity R.C., called of the Rosy Cross; written by a member of the Fraternity in Latin and now poorly translated into German.” At the end is added “Written by B.M.I., least of the Brethren of the R.C., while on his third Journey, at Hagenau, where he was detained by continuous rain for some days, 22nd September, 1614”
(1) On the title-page after the name occur the mystic letters O.G.D.C.R.F.E. By analogy with other works (see No. 22) these may be taken to imply that Julian was a member of the Rosicrucian Fraternity, the first three letters being perhaps an Ordensname, and the last four probably standing for Crucis Roseae Fraternitatis Ercellentissimae. But the statement found in many authorities that in the text he expressly declares himself a member is not true.
This professes to be a complete description of the surroundings and life of the Fraternity, “although many doubt whether Brethren of the Rosy Cross do exist and refuse to believe our Fama, notwithstanding that it is published to the whole world. But he who can distrust such open facts must need a candle at mid-day. For see, I who write this am of the Brotherhood; and although our Order is hidden within Germany, it is known in all foreign parts. Lately its small and scanty number bath been increased by ten chosen worthy men; and at the same time it hath been fortified with such statutes and ordnances that it may rightly be said to be reformed. Therefore many of you seek our company, but only a few shall attain thereto; we admit only those whom we have long observed and bind them by hard conditions which they must keep so long as they live. . . . We dwell in a monastery which our Father called ‘of the Holy Spirit’ when he first built it; which name the long course of time hath lost and altered; but our monumenta we have preserved. Round about us are trees and woods and our fields, and a smooth but famous river runneth by; and not far away is a well-known town. . . . We journey to various places, even as I am now at Hagenau in a year I shall return from the peoples and places I have been sent to greet.” Then follows a description of their oocupations—the Elders teach the disciples; the Brethren have all arts and all languages; they can speak French, Italian; Spanish and Polish. ” Ho who thinketh all this is the work of the devil,—Ach, how far bath he strayed from the way ! . . . I know well many writings are published in the name of the Brethren which we do not recognise for ours, as they agree not with our Fama. Of like character was that deceiver, who worked such evil at Nürnberg until it was revealed that he was a thief and a purse-snatcher and so he went to the galleys; likewise that brigand who was caught at Augsburg and ran the gauntlet, leaving his ears behind him. Further, not rightly doth the common man style us ‘of the Rosy Cross,’ because we are named after the first Father of our body. How then was he named! That we shall steadfastly hold secret. Be they who they will, they do not right by us, who under our name scatter abroad such fancied visions. . . . The Jesuit band howls day and night about our home; to avoid the jaws and fangs of such a wolf, we must bide our time. . . We wish to be known throughout the whole world, but great obstacles stand in our way; and we hold it prudent to live unknown, but yet in such fashion as to win for ourselves friends from among those to whom our virtue and righteousness is revealed. Hence though unknown we search for the learned and greet the virtuous with our books.”
This document has been quoted at some length because of its claim to be a Rosicrucian publication, but it is a feeble production, full of execrable puns and puerile conceits. The early date it bears is noteworthy, and there are some indications which confirm this — the absence of all reference to the Confessio, the use of the abbreviation R.C., which is less common at a later period, (1) the anti-Jesuitical bias, etc. On the other hand, the references quoted above to spurious Rosicrucian works and to impostors, which all occur in one paragraph towards the end, point to 1615 or 1616 rather than to 1614. The explanation is probably that the work was left unfinished in 1614 and completed later. The question of the Latin original is treated on p. 42.
20. Despatch to the Philosophical Fraternity of the Rosy Cross, by Valentine Tchirness of Gorlitz, a German and a Licentiate of Philosophy and Medicine. Dated 1st May of the year es MVe Ia aLLes offenbar VVer Den (=1616). An appeal to the Fraternity to cure an old miner so worn in body “that I could compare him to the Present Age in the Dialogue you published concerning the Reformation of the World.” (2) This is the latest in date of the contents of .1 and is probably a postscript, like 12 in G or 13 in H. From it we may deduce the approximate date of Edition J.
K. The last edition “now freed from many errors which have hitherto prevailed, the genuine sense restored and once more set forth in print,” was published at Frankfurt in 1617 by Bringer and Berner. It begins like F, the earlier Frankfurt publication, with the Preface, Fama and German Confessio (3); but the text has everywhere been a good deal worked over, the sentences rearranged to read more smoothly, and oocasionally a word or two inserted.
(1) It persists, of course, to the end in the text of Fame and Confessio.
(2) Documents 19 and 20 were reprinted by Bunefeldt of Danzig lu 1617—another example of the tendency of these minor documents to maintain an order which in the first instance was accidental.
(3) The German Confessio reverts to the arrangement in chapters of the Latin text. As the translation is still the second, which on its former appearances omitted these divisions, we have a clear instance of revision from the MS., or Editions C or D.
Of the variae lectiones recorded in the notes, the bulk comes from this edition; but in no case has the sense been materially altered (1) The remainder of R is novel; all replies and the Reformation are omitted; at the end of the Confessio comes No. 15, the defence by Julian de Campis, which is followed by two new works.
21. ” Complete History of an Unknown Man who travelled through the town of Wetzlar ‘in 1615 and not only professed himself a Brother of the Rosy Cross but by his manifold accomplishments and universal knowledge aroused general astonishment; written by George Molther, Doctor of Medicine and Town-physician of Wetzlar in Hesse, on the First of April, 1616.” There is a dedicatory epistle to the High and Well-Born John the Elder, Count of Nassau, Dillenberg, etc. The mysterious stranger, among whose accomplishments was the art of whistling mice out of houses, was dressed like a peasant, and of middle age; he spoke several languages but was very taciturn; on being questioned, however, he modestly confessed that he was the third in the Order of the Brethren of R.C. The honest doctor relates that his reason for writing is “to stop the mouths of those who declare what has been said by truthful men to be false and fictitious because strange and novel.”
22. “Report of the Design, Occasion and Content of the Brotherhood, by an unnamed but distinguished member.” This is the heading on the title-page, but the text has another heading “Report concerning a great secret of Nature.” (2) Like the Fama and Confessio, this professes to be an official manifesto of the Fraternity, in the form of a reply to some postulant whose prayer for admission had been heard. “Impelled by the Spirit of God, we do announce the will of God to the world; and this we have performed and published in divers languages. But men have either scorned our writings, or else have supposed we are going to teach them to make gold by alchemical art, or to bestow upon them riches to satisfy their pomp and ambition, their wan and greed, their gluttony and drunkenness and lust.
. . But the evil intentions of such men we perceived from their own writings. We atop our ears and wrap ourselves in a cloud to avoid the clamour of men who cry to us for gold and cry in vain. Hence comes it that they slander and abuse us without end; we resent it not, though God in His good time will punish them.
(1) See, however, p. 47.
(2) At the end of the text is the signature E.D.F.O.C.R., the latter half of which represents Ordinis Crucis Roseae.
But having well weighed you, though you saw us not, and observed from your writings that you are diligent to search the Scriptures and seek the true knowledge of God; out of many thousands, we have thought you worthy of an answer.”
Then comes a parable of the ascent of the Hidden Mountain, the perils to be encountered and the prize to be won. This is one of the gems of all Rosicrucian literature and the significance of its position at the end of our long series of documents cannot be misunderstood. It has been forgotten for many a year; but Thomas Vaughan had read it and incorporated it bodily into his writings. (1)
Thus on a note of lofty mysticism, and with a marked tinge of disappointment, our list ends; for with the publication of the Fama and Confessio drop out. of sight, at the very height of the excitement they have caused. It may be that the promoters were discouraged at the ridicule and opposition their project. had aroused; it is more probable that the two manifestoes were judged to have done their work and to be no longer necessary or suitable; for by 1617 two of the greatest writers of the age, Robert Fludd in England and Michael Maier in Germany had come forward to champion the idea of the Fraternity. For several years to come the printing-presses of Germany were to pour out pamphlets in attack and defence of the Order and frantic appeals for admission such as we have studied. (2) The idea of the mysterious Fraternity had seized the popular mind over half Europe, and if the controversy began to abate in 1623 or 1629, all trace of it in Germany is not lost until about 1630. But throughout these years, the Fama and Confessio are not again reprinted. (3)
(1) In Lumen et Lumine, at p. 259 of Mr. Waite’s edition. Some paragraphs at the end are omitted by Vaughan. The central allegory is also given in John Heydon’s Holy Guide; it seems then to have been a favourite with English seventeenth-century writers. I can find no reference to it in recent literature. (2) According to L C. Orvius, Occulta Philosophia, by 1622 there were regular assemblies of Rosicrucians at the Hague, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Nurnberg, Danzig, Erfurt, Mantua and Venice. I am aware that this authority has been suspected, but it is noteworthy that some of these places have a long record of Activity as centres of Rosicrucian publication.
For the various appearances of individuals professing, or alleged, to be Rosicrucians, see Buhle, Ursprung, p. 231, and the reference listed below on p. 34, note. It may here be observed against Buhle that if all these men were proved impostors, as no doubt many were, nothing is proved or disproved with regard to the existence of genuine members of a Fraternity of the R.C. (3) Nicolai had a reprint of Edition A issued at Berlin in 1781; this, for some obscure reason, bears on the title-page “Printed at Ragensburg, 1681.” It is a very poor reprint. There is also a edition of the Fama and Confessio (both Latin and German) published anonymously at Frankfurt in 1827; its editor is believed to have been J. F. von Meyer.