The private papers of Marie-Daniel Bourree, Chevalier de Corberon, secretary to the French minister at St. Petersburg during 1775-77, charge d'affaires in 1777-80, contain a document entitled "La Russie." The undated and unsigned eighteenth-century document represents a contemporary figurative
description of eighteenth-century Russia as „a Giant, imposing in the distance by enormity of its mass, but in proximity rather shapeless by report of its dimensions." But no matter how powerful the country became through the "hewing" of the "civilizing" process, for the majority of the outside observers the Giant remained a rude, barbarous, and outlandish creation. What struck the author' s fancy is that, as a result of the Giant's formative history and discrepant nature, Russia's "amount of disgraceful elements" was disproportionately high in the eighteenth century. The key question, which interests the observer of the Giant's rise to power and its downfall in morality, is whether the outsiders should abandon "virtuousness or the respect for this kind of monstrosity." (A. Lentin, "Corberon, La Russie -- un Colosse Deforme," 39-41.)
Just like the author of the document, the foreign Freemasons who resided in, traveled to, or thought about Russia's contemporary situation and destiny debated whether the standards of "virtuousness" that were developed in the West should or could be applied to the particulars of Russian life. Many foreign Freemasons however emphasized two important conclusions relating Russia: 1) Russia is a Tabula rasa, a blank slate and a perfect proving ground for Masonic moral and educational ideas; 2) Russia is a bridgehead between the West and the East. Peter the Great's and his followers' efforts in opening "a window to Europe" for Russia were interpreted as actions of a cultural inferior trying to enter the Western cultural mainstream. The language of initiation, enlightenment, and inner re/birth was an especially fitting apparatus for reflecting Russia's coming to the international arena in the eighteenth century for both foreigners and Russians alike. Just like there was an "illumination," the process of becoming a "son of Light" for a Freemason, rebirth from a life of darkness to the life of light, the rhetoric of Russian development is fused with the language of new beginnings. three most often repeated identifications of Russian problems were that Russian society was immobilized by 1) the restraints of state service affecting the upper class; 2) the bonds of serfdom involving the peasantry; and 3) the perpetuation of the traditional structures of family and clan which resulted in a narrow clientele system within the government establishment.
A perceived general backwardness of Russian society, particularly evident in the dominante of agriculture and enslavement of the peasantry, contrasted sharply in the eyes of the outsiders with the rise of modem state in the countries of the West. While serfdom disappeared in most of Western Europe by the thirteenth century, Peter the Great strengthened the serf ties in Russia in the beginning of the eighteenth century. Simultaneously, he bound Russia's nobles to lifetime service, thus delaying the formation of a civil society until Peter Ill's decision to introduce voluntary military service for the nobility. Catherine the Great solidified the gentry' s rights with the Charter of the Nobility of 1785, which gave it the status of an estate. Thereby the Russian dvorianstvo at last became a nobility that approximated a Western model, and despite the drawbacks of serfdom, delays in the development of the third estate, and relatively small social base for a civil society, Russia acquired the prerequisites for it, Russia is part of Europe, Catherine decisively proclaimed in her Nakaz (The Grand Instruction) in 1768. It is also possible to argue that an impact of the delayed progress of Russia was not fully perceived until the Napoleonic Wars.
The "missionary" role of Freemasons thus was not only in connecting people throughout the world with brotherhood bonds. Their "noble cause" consisted of providing other countries with Masonic laws, the ways of living and thinking like a Freemason. From the heights of what European Freemasons thought was their own "superior civilization," they could afford to be rational, comprehending, and even sympathetic in observing crisis-racked Russia's struggle to climb to Europe's level. In application to Russia, activities of Freemasons thus were considered as bringing a "light to Russian darkness." A well-known adage of German Rosicrucians stated that the devil himself counteracted their actions in Russia to keep the "dark" country in perpetual darkness. As an early nineteenth century document reiterated, "[t]he true light [of Freemasonry] will be preserved and disseminated in Russia despite the darkness that aims at devouring it [the light], but which is not able to envelope it, let alone triumph over it." (NIOR RGB, fond 14, folder 564, Ilrev-12.)
Although it is not clear what the Masons making this reference to Russian "darkness" meant -- the general state of the Craft in Russia; confrontation between different Masonic systems jostling over for the control of Russian Freemasonry; or Catherine' s and Paul' s repressions of Freemasonry -- these statements acutely contrasted with the eighteenth-century official representation of Russia as the kingdom of light. In the higher degrees Masons are expected to follow the light of knowledge and be benevolent and virtuous to symbolically climb the winding stairs of Solomon's Temple in their search for knowledge and to use reason and math to understand the laws of gravity and motion, the moral principles associated with the circle, square, and triangle, and the deistic principles Freemasonry transferred and taught a "Secret divine," "the Truth" revealed to its members "[b]y a Light from above" and elucidated many of the problems of the world. Through the ceremony of initiation that climaxed with the "illumination" of the newly admitted brothers, Freemasons become "the Children of Light" obligated "by ...practice and conduct in life" to turn their "backs on works of darkness, Obscenity and Drunkenness, Hatred and Malice, Satan and his dominions," bringing "Charity, Benevolence, Justice, Temperance, Chastity, and Brotherly Love" into the world. (William Hutchinson, The Spirit of Masonry in Moral and Elucidator' Lectures, the second edition, London, 1775, 56-57.)
If spreading their own versions of Freemasonry meant spreading "light," "no country received so much and such swift benefit from the Order as Russia did," one high-ranking Prussian Masonic official in Russia pointed out in his diary. Whereby it should be noted that More than 70 percent of foreign Freemasons were of German descent, followed by the Polish Freemasons. In the eighteenth century the Russian Empire was multi-national. The first National Census in 1897 that recorded statistical data about the inhabitants of the Empire did not have the section on nationality. The nationality was determined on the basis of the declared native language and faith. And when foreigners connected with Russia are divided into different occupational groups, it becomes dear that over 80 percent of foreign Freemasons were engaged in military and various branches of state and local government. And when foreigners connected with Russia are divided into different occupational groups, it becomes dear that over 80 percent of foreign Freemasons were engaged in military and various branches of state and local government. Since Russian soldiers were drawn from among the serfs and could not qualify for any promotion, only the members of Russian nobility served in the officer corps. However, this situation does not apply to foreigners who came to Russia to serve in the military. Often coming from very humble backgrounds, when recruited by the Russian army, they incorporated into the Russian system of nobility. On the one hand, if compared to the social composition of European lodges, the proportion of foreign Freemasons of the "middle bourgeoisie," the bureaucracy and military including, seems to fit the general pattern of Freemasons being literate and fairly well-to-do men. So when we compare the social composition of Freemasons in Russia and Europe as well as occupational groups of Russian and foreign Freemasons, we need to keep in mind this peculiarity of the Russian system because it accounts for a high number of nobility in the ranks of Russian Freemasons. Higher level public officials and army officers, who in Europe can be considered as a "middle bourgeoisie" by the end of the century, in Russia could have belonged to the nobility. Another important consideration is that medicine, education, and arts also formally belonged to state service. The doctors, pharmacists, teachers, professors, musicians, actors, and assessors, at least 50 percent of whom were foreigners by a very modest estimation, also need to be added to the picture of the interweaving between the state and Freemasonry, the picture of foreign influence becomes even more pronounced. Thus although by the end of the century the number of Russians in the lodges both in Russia and abroad increased significantly, Freemasons in Russia still could not help but rely on foreigners, a dependence that ultimately became one of the reasons for the downfall of the Craft by the end of the century. Many foreigners, were skeptical whether Russians were ready for conscious acceptance of Masonic knowledge.
One of the earliest examples of the opposition to the domination of Russians in the development of Freemasonry in Russia was the St. Petersburg lodge of Perfect Union, the lodge with predominantly foreign membership. Perfect Union insisted on its identity as not only an English-system lodge but as a British lodge and persistently refused to acknowledge Elagin's Grand Mastership. Although the Grand Lodge of Great Britain granted Perfect Union its Constitution in 1771, after making Elagin the Provincial Grand Master of Russia in 1772, the Grand Lodge sent the Master of Perfect Union a letter calling for the lodge's submission to Elagin's authority. The letter is not dated but most likely was written between 21 July 1772 and 7 August 1772. From the Grand Secretary Heseltine' s documents, it is known that already in 1769 Perfect Union had recommended a person to the Office of Provincial Grand Master, who, as it seems, was not Elagin. Members of Perfect Union drew a letter offering their congratulations to Elagin on his appointment. But they also voiced their concern with the need to pledge allegiance to the Russian Provincial Grand Master: .. that with Respect to the fundamental question, suggested by the Letter from the Grand Lodge, it has been unanimously resolved, that this Lodge shall exert its utmost Efforts, in order to preserve the privilege, which it derives from the Constitution, of having no dependence, nor official Correspondence to that Effect with any other than the Grand Lodge in London. (FHL, Moderns' Letter Book, vol. 2 (1769-1775), 37-8, letter from Heseltine to Perfect Union on 10 November 1769).
Especially lodges on the Baltic were among the strongest bastions of the opposition to Russian authority in Freemasonry in the region in the eighteenth century. Formally a part of the Russian Empire after 1721, the Baltic provinces presented a unique mixture of German, Lithuanian, Estonian, Latvian, Polish, Swedish, English, Scottish, Danish, and Russian population. The meeting point of many foreigners, Riga was also a meeting point of Masonic rites. The history of Riga's lodges fully reflects this complexity, and by the end of the century the city became a capital of shifting Masonic allegiances and national identities in Freemasonry. Members of the Riga lodges included leading names of the province: Johann Gottfried Herder, who spent in Riga his early years (1764-9); the printer and bookseller Johann Friedrich Hartknoch (on the Hartknochs, see Henryk Rietz, "Johann Friedrich Hartknoch 1740-1789," in Wegbereiter der deutschslawischen Wechselseitigkeit, eds. Eduard Winter et al (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1983),89-100 and Henryk Rietz's article in Acta Universitatis Nicolai Copernici, Historia XX, Nauki humanistycznospolecze, no. 158 (1985). Also, E. A. Savel'eva and A. A. Zaitseva in Latvijas PSR Zinatnu Akademijas Vestis, no. 4 (1990),40-4,45-52); the painter Woldemar Freiherr von Budberg; Pastor Liborius von Bergmann (Bergmann was a member and Orator of a Leipzig lodge in the 1770s: August Wolfstieg, Bibliographie der Freimaurerischen Literatur, (Burg, 1912), nos. 3294,11169, 13936-7.
On cultural influence of German Freemasons residing in Riga, see in passim, Heinrich Bosse, "The Establishment of the German Theatre in Eighteenth-Century Riga," Journal of Baltic Studies, vol. 20 (1989): 207-22; Andrew Swinton, Travels into Norway, Denmark and Russia in the Years 1788, 1789, 1790 and 1791 (London, 1792), 114; and, more importantly, Roger Bartlett, ''Foreigners, Faith and Freemasonry in the Eastern Baltic: the British Factory and Pastor Georg Ludwig Collins in Riga at the End of the Eighteenth Century," in Russia and the Wider World in Historical Perspective, ed. Paul Dukes (Basingstoke and London: Macmillan, 2000): 45-66.
The situation with the lodges in Poland presented a similar dilemma to Freemasons. The eighteenth-century imprint of the Warsaw lodge Catherine I'Etoile du Nord features a man standing between two pillars, reflecting how the members of this Polish lodge found themselves in search of own their place between the East and the West, Russia and Europe and oscillating between different "national" systems. Although it is often claimed that the first lodge in Poland came into existence as early as 1729, throughout the eighteenth century the development of Freemasonry was hindered by organizational confusion and political instability. In 1772, the first partition of Poland happened when the neighboring countries divided Poland. Coincidentally, it is after 1772 that Polish Freemasonry entered a period of expansion and proliferation, first with the dominance of the Strict Observance system, which established the eighth diocese in Poland under Count Aloysius Friedrich Brühl and King Stanislaw August Poniatowski (who went by the Strict Observance name of "Salsinatus Eques a Corona vindicata").
Nevertheless, other systems, including English Freemasonry, French (Ancient Scottish), and influences from Russian high-grade Freemasonry were widespread by the 1780s. In 1779, the members of the lodge Catherine a I' Etoile du Nord located in Warsaw refer to themselves as an English-system lodge that values "the sentiments Freedom and Wisdom" expressed by English Freemasonry. (RGVA, fond 1412k, opis' 1, folder 4860,5, Minute de'la Lettre a le prince Stanislas Poniatowski, Berlin, 3 December 1779) Polish brothers considered the Grand Lodge of England to be the ..Centre of the Universality of the True Brothers," (RGVA, folder 4860, 155.)
They emphasized that the "true freemason owes himself and devotes himself to his motherland without ever as a mason ceasing to be a citizen of the universe," but believed, nevertheless, that organizationally Freemasonry required "one center, one meeting point where all its rays may converge." For the members of Catherine a I' Etoile du Nord, the Grand Lodge of England was this center and the point of reunion for all Freemasons. Polish brothers aspired to create a new point of reunion, "a new centre where the rays of the orients of the Kingdom of Poland and of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania must converge and stop" by forming the Grand Orient of Warsaw. With Poland being torn between the influences of Prussia, Austria, and Russia, the officials of the Warsaw lodge could not decide which mother-lodge was eligible to establish the Polish Province. Freemasons in Poland vacillated between the Grand Lodges and National Lodges in Prussia, Russia, and England. The situation with the lodges in Poland presented a similar dilemma to Freemasons. The eighteenth-century imprint of the Warsaw lodge Catherine I'Etoile du Nord features a man standing between two pillars, reflecting how the members of the Polish lodge found themselves in search of own their place between the East and the West, Russia and Europe and oscillating between different "national" systems. Although it is often claimed that the first lodge in Poland came into existence as early as 1729, throughout the eighteenth century the development of Freemasonry was hindered by organizational confusion and political instability. In 1772, the first partition of Poland happened when the neighboring countries divided Poland.
Coincidentally, it is after 1772 that Polish Freemasonry entered a period of expansion and proliferation, first with the dominance of the Strict Observance system, which established the eighth diocese in Poland under Count Aloysius Friedrich Brühl and King Stanislaw August Poniatowski (who went by the Strict Observance name of "Salsinatus Eques a Corona vindicata"). Nevertheless, other systems, including English Freemasonry, French (Ancient Scottish), and influences from Russian high-grade Freemasonry were widespread by the 1780s. In 1779, the members of the lodge Catherine a I' Etoile du Nord located in Warsaw refer to themselves as an English-system lodge that values "the sentiments of Freedom and Wisdom" expressed by English Freemasonry. Polish brothers considered the Grand Lodge of England to be the ..Centre of the Universality of the True Brothers," They emphasized that the "true freemason owes himself and devotes himself to his motherland without ever as a mason ceasing to be a citizen of the universe," but believed, nevertheless, that organizationally Freemasonry required "one center, one meeting point where all its rays may converge." For the members of Catherine a I' Etoile du Nord, the Grand Lodge of England was this center and the point of reunion for all Freemasons. Polish brothers aspired to create a new point of reunion,"a new centre where the rays of the orients of the Kingdom of Poland and of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania must converge and stop" by forming the Grand Orient of Warsaw. ( RGV A, fond 1412k, opis' 1, folder 4860, 13, letter on 8 January 1780).
With Poland being torn between the influences of Prussia, Austria, and Russia, the officials of the Warsaw lodge could not decide which mother-lodge was eligible to establish the Polish Province. Freemasons in Poland vacillated between the Grand Lodges and National Lodges in Prussia, Russia, and England. Brothers at Catherine I'Etoile du Nord fostered the relationship with the Berlin lodge Royale York de I'Amitie, the "Ancient Scottish Lodge" that "wanted to bind herself to the Scottish Grand Orients," and was essentially "a Scottish lodge, which afterwards annexed the three first degrees of Masonry according to the sublime Grand Lodge of London - general list in 1767 number 350." (FHL, 103,143, Berlin, 31 August 1797, signed by Fessler, Deputy Grand Master. Cross, By the Ballks of Neva, calls Fessler an enlightened and rational reformer.) With the affiliation with - or, as they phrased, it "protection" of -- the Royale York, the lodge of Catherine I'Etoile du Nord hoped to establish a "National Polish Lodge." 567 At the same time, from its foundation, Catherine I'Etoile du Nordhad the orientation to Russia that was evident even in the choice of the lodge's name. Polish brothers emphasized that by using Catherine's name, they paid "tribute to the sublime talents, to heroism of Catherine II. "(568 RGVA, fond 1412k, opis' I, folder 4860, 24-25 rev. copy of the letter written to baron Heyking on 7 (9) February 1780).
In his letters to Catherine l' Etoile du Nord, Count Melissino tries to prove that Russian brothers not only had legitimate authority to be the connecting link between Poland and England, but also possessed "flashes of enlightenment from the highest degrees of Masonic knowledge." In the next letter, in 1780, Catherine a l'Etoile du Nord informed Royale York de I 'Amitie that the members of the Polish lodge had asked a Petersburg lodge, the lodge of Discretion, to apply to the Grand Lodge of England with the request for constitutions. Members of Catherine a l'Etoile du Nord sent baron Heyking to St. Petersburg as their Masonic envoy and entrusted bim with the mission of uniting all "English" lodges under the Orient of Sweden, acting against the warnings of the Berlin lodge Royale York de l'Ametie. (RGV A, fond 1412, folder 4860, 137 rev.)
The Berlin lodge reacted almost immediately. In the lener to the Polish lodge, Berlin brothers emphasized that the Swedish rite praCticed by Elagin's lodges was not ancient and true Freemasonry. They expressed their doubts about legitimacy of the Russian brothers who claimed to work under the guidance of the Grand Lodge of England because Russian brothers practiced high degrees characteristic of the Swedish, not the English, system. (RGVA, fond 1412, folder 4860, 148-148 rev.)
At the same time, a member of Catherine a I' Etoile du Nord, count Poninski, maintained that he would be able to establish legitimate relations with the "Scottish" Directory in Strasburg--which was the high-degree French system. (RGVA, fond 1412k, opis' 1, folder 4860, 47-49 rev. copy of the letter sent to the Grand Lodge of England, 1781).
Schröder' s reference to the "treachery" of the Russians is indicative of his eventual disappointment about his life in Russia. As Novikov testified during the trial, Schröder put 3500 rubles for the foundation of the Moscow Printing Company in 1784. He was the only foreigner among fourteen founding members of the Printing Society, some of whom were accepted without any investment. In 1785, the circle bought a spacious house in Schröder's name (and as the baron claimed later, with his money) which could, after substantial renovations, accommodate several Masonry related enterprises. When Schröder decided not to proceed with the deal and asked his Russian brothers to return his share of investment, he was refused after several rounds of unsuccessful negotiations with Novikov. This led Schröder to a complete financial ruin. He claimed that he spent nearly all of his inheritance to buy the house and, as a citizen of Russian Empire, avoid being called a "foreign deceiver." (NIOR RGB, fond 14, folder 499, 132 rev., letter to N. Trubeskoi on 16 January 1792) As baron explained in the letters to his Russian associates, he had also sold his family jewels to take care of the Masonic drugstore in Moscow. (NIOR RGB, fond 14, folder 499, 135 rev. letter to N. Trubeskoi on 16 January 1792) After Schröder left Russia in 1787, he continued sending letters with Kutuzov's mail. The letters are full of pleas for money. Schröder insistently blamed Novikov for his misfortunes, and still intended to be useful to him. (NIOR RGB, fond 14, folder 499, contains two leuers from Schröder to P. Tatischev, probably the richest person in the Novikov circle, on pages 36-45rev; 47-47rev. and two leuers from to N. Trubeskoi: on 24 December 1791 (page 126rev.) and 16 January 1792 (pages 130-135rev.).
Brothers at Catherine I'Etoile du Nord fostered the relationship with the Berlin lodge Royale York de I'Amitie, the "Ancient Scottish Lodge" that "wanted to bind herself to the Scottish Grand Orients," and was essentially "a Scottish lodge, which afterwards annexed the three first degrees of Masonry according to the sublime Grand Lodge of London - general list in 1767 number 350. In his letters to Catherine l' Etoile du Nord, Melissino tries to prove that Russian brothers not only had legitimate authority to be the connecting link between Poland and England, but also possessed "flashes of enlightenment from the highest degrees of Masonic knowledge." Once Russian brothers were students of other Masonry-savvy nations, now "we are ourselves the professors," claimed Melissino. (RGVA, fond 1412, folder 486O, 117, letter from Melissino, Maistre en Chaire de la loge Discretion to the Warsaw lodge Catherine a L 'Etoile du Nord on 15 July 1780)
In his correspondence with Warsaw, the Master of the Russian lodge acknowledged that the confusion with different rites was a Russian problem, too. But now, when Russians "saw the Light," they opposed the expansion of "some parasitic branches" and insisted on the legitimacy of their practices. (RGV A, fond 1412, folder 4860, 135rev.) In the next letter, in 1780, Catherine a l'Etoile du Nord informed Royale York de l'Amitie that the members of the Polish lodge had asked a Petersburg lodge, the lodge of Discretion, to apply to the Grand Lodge of England with the request for constitutions. Members of Catherine a l'Etoile du Nord sent one baron Heyking to St. Petersburg as their Masonic envoy and entrusted him with the mission of uniting all "English" lodges under the Orient of Sweden, aCting against the warnings of the Berlin lodge Royale York de l'Ametie. (RGV A, fond 1412, folder 4860, 137rev.) The Berlin lodge reacted almost immediately. In the letter to the Polish lodge, Berlin brothers emphasized that the Swedish rite practiced by Elagin' s lodges was not ancient and true Freemasonry. They expressed their doubts about legitimacy of the Russian brothers who claimed to work under the guidance of the Grand Lodge of England because Russian brothers practiced high degrees characteristic of the Swedish, not the English, system. (RGVA, fond 1412, folder 4860, 148-148rev.) At the same time, a member of Catherine a I' Etoile du Nord, count Poninski, maintained that he would be able to establish legitimate relations with the "Scottish" Directory in Strasburg--which was the high-degree French system. (RGVA, fond 1412k, folder 4860, 47-49 rev. copy of the letter sent to the Grand Lodge of England, 1781).
In February 1780, the opposition between the proponents of different systems within the lodge Catherine l'Etoile du Nord heated up to the degree that counts Heyking and Poninski decided to settle the dispute in a duel. An ultimate act of "unbrotherly love." this duel was 'une affaire prophane," as the lodge members had defined later. (RGV A, fond 1412k, folder 4860, 50-55rev. letters on 26 February 1780 to the Grand Lodge of England, Royale York, and the St. Petersburg lodge of Discretion). Tired of all the "distasteful plots" and desperate to establish their own National lodge, the Polish lodge sent count Hülsen, on a mission to obtain patents directly from London. The Grand Lodge of England received the letter from Count Palatine Hülsen (also known as Count Mscislaw) via the Duke of Manchester, the British ambassador in Paris. Hülsen, who identified himself as resident of Paris at that time, applied for Provincial Grand Mastership of Poland. The list of the members dated 24 September 1779, and attached to his application, contains 35 names, the majority of which belonged to the highest Polish nobility. (RGVA, fond 1412k, opis' I, folder 4860, 39, Tableau des freres).
In addition, eight lodges in Poland and Lithuania that worked under Catherine a I'Etoile du Nord were ready to work in the English system. As Michel Brodsky identifies, the titles of the officers of the lodge are alien to the usual practice of the English system and more in tune with high-grade Freemasonry. Despite the irregularities of Catherine a l'Etoile du Nord's structure and ritual, the attached letter from Count Melissino, Master of the St. Petersburg lodge of Discretion, dated 18 February 1780, insisted on the urgency of granting a patent of Provincial Grand Master of Poland to count Hülsen. In the hopes that the Polish lodge would receive the patent but would be put under the jurisdiction of the more experienced Provincial Lodge of Russia, Melissino emphasized that .. the number of zealous brethren increases from day to day, but they have to suffer a lot from the other Lodges which will not recognize them [as brethren and Freemasons]. Every day comes a proposal to unite their lodge with the grand orient of France, the lodge of the reform of Brunswick (Strict Observance) of Sweden or of Burgundy [a French version of the Scottish rite] they refuse all accommodation and pretend quite rightly for a warrant from our old English Rite. While Hülsen waited for the decision of the Grand Lodge of England, the fight for influence over the lodge continued. The establishment of the independent Polish Masonic Province was not in the plans of Prussians or Russians. In a twenty-page letter, Royale York called Catherine a l'Etoile du Nord "la loge scandaleuse," while the St. Petersburg lodge of Discretion castigated it for insubordination. (RGVA, fond 1412k, opis' 1, folder 4860, 112 , 23 May 1781).
In the meantime. The officials of Catherine a l'Etoile du Nord continued to insist that "the true enlightenment was preserved in the Ancient Metropole of the Society in London." (RGVA. fond 1412k. opis' I. folder 4860, 116.) The members of the Polish lodge endlessly speculated about the silence of the "Metropole" (the Grand Lodge of England) and attributed it to the possible involvement of the Russians or the general confusion about Polish territories being an independent state. (RGV A, fond 1412, folder 4860, 198-200. This was not a unique occurrence. Elagin waited two years for an answer to his letter to the Grand Lodge of England.) Hülsen had to wait for his patent until 1783, when the Duke of Manchester delivered it to Paris. However, it was Hülsen's successor, Count Ignatii (Jan) Potocki (1761-1815), a novelist and printer with extensive connections in France and Prussia, who was able to unite thirteen Polish lodges in an independent Grand Orient for Poland under the French high-grade guidance in 1784. Jan Potocki is the author of The Manuscript Found in Saragossa (New York: Penguin Classics, 1996). Jan Potocki is the author of The Manuscript Found in Saragossa (New York: Penguin Classics, 1996). He was also the chief architect of the Polish-Prussian Pact of 1790 which ultimately led to the Second Partition of Poland in 1792.
Foreign and Russian Interactions Case Study: Schwarz, Schröder, Cagliostro
When in 1783 Russian lodges acquired the independent status of the Strict Observance Province and the members of the Harmony lodge quickly drew up an organizational hierarchy of the lodges in Russia, Moscow Freemasons did not seem to have recognized the incongruity of the situation in placing themselves in subordination to some unknown superiors in Berlin. In his letter to St. Petersburg, prince Trubetskoi expressed his joy in Russia's obtaining a status of an independent province:
... it was shameful that Russia, occupying a greater part of Europe in its territory, should be dependent on a state smaller than she... with the help of God, Russia is not only a [Masonic] body now but a province, recognized not only by one person but by an entire congress of all provinces. And this... what was made by all the provinces together can be changed neither by the Duke of Brunswick nor by anyone in the world; and insofar as we made the search only for the Russians, so all your effort should be directed toward unifying only Russians; it is not for us to look for foreigners, but they should look for us. Foreigners living in Russia are honored by their union with us, but such unions do not bring any benefit to us. This opinion is necessary so that Russian brothers impress it into their heart and stop trailing after every kind of vagabond, who, being nothing in the order gives themselves for something great. (NIOR ROß, fond 14, folder 497.)
The facade of an independent Provincial Grand Chapter was retained for the time being only because it served the important function of appeasing the national pride of the patriotically conscious Masons. Unlike foreign adventurers, the actual leader of the system, Schwarz, was singled out as the person truly devoted to the development of the Craft in Russia.( See for instance. At a Quarterly Communication of the Most Ancient and Honorable Society' of Free and Accepted Masons. under the constitution of England. 3 (4) 22 November 1786; announcement repeated on 10 April 1793 and 8 May 1793.) When Schwarz died on 17 February 1784, his death was greatly mourned. Invariably, he was praised as the "mentor" and the "shepherd" of Russian Freemasonry. (NIOR RGB, fond 14. folder 97.) Previous Masonic leaders, Elagin or Reichel, did not fully understand the potential power and responsibility that their position as heads of an organizational network composed of semi-secret lodges bestowed upon them. They simply regarded themselves passive transmitters of knowledge that they in vain anticipated would come from their superiors in England, Sweden, or Germany. Schwarz, on the contrary, became an embodiment of a Masonic leader. He actively sought and constructed the necessary knowledge himself. But even extolling Schwarz's service to Russian Freemasonry, Trubetskoi did not indicate that Schwarz' s position was higher than that of any Masonic officer:... brother Schwarz, who rendered us such great services and was the instrument through which we received everything, was admitted to us in reward for his services, and was made an officer in the province; but except for him, without services similar to his, no foreigner will be allowed into the administration of the province, and thus, my friend, despite everything which Ribases, Rosenbergs, and Frezes, and others like them do. (NIOR RGB, fond 14, folder 497,75 in copy of a letter from N. N. Trubetskoi from Moscow to A. A. Rzhevskii in S1. Petersburg on 23 July, 1783; also in NIOR RGB, fond 17, folder 6, letter 14.)
Such distinction on the basis of nationality helped to prevent Russian Masons in St. Petersburg from falling into the hands of Schwarz's foreign rivals, such as Ribas, the head of the Cadet Corps, who also claimed the possession of genuine Freemasonry. Ribas, who had a lodge at the Military Cadet Corps, also apparently challenged Schwarz by claming that he possessed genuine Freemasonry. Jose (Osip Mikhailovich) de Ribas (Deribas) (1749-1800), was born in Naples. In 1772 he emered Russian service during Russo- Turkish wars 1768-1774 as a soldier of fortune, traveled around Europe and participated in the Princess Tarakanova (presumably an illegitimate daughter of Empress Elizabeth and Count Razumovskii) affair. Participated in Russo-Turkish War of 1787-1792 and in 1791 became a Counter-Admiral. Ribas was a founder and governor of Odessa, the major Russian port on the Black Sea. Member of the St. Petersburg lodge Blagotvoritel'nosti k pelikanu (Mildthatigkeit zum Pelikan) that worked as the Elagin (English) lodge in 1773-1777, and joined the Reichel union moving to the Swedish system after 1777. As a Freemason, Ribas was very close to the Panin cirele. According to Serkov's Entsiklopediia, Ribas was also a member of a "French" lodge and the Swedish-system based Kapitul Feniksa. (GARF. fond 1137,opis' I, folder 78, 40; RGADA, fond 11, folder 1120 correspondence. And RGVA, fond 1412, opis' I, folder 5297, 34rev; folder 14386, 91 rev.)
In letters written during the winter of 1783, both Novikov and Trubetskoi mentioned Dr. F. P. Freze as a most reliable candidate, but Trubetskoi classified him as being in the same category with Rib and Rosenberg as a disgraceful deceiver in a July letter. (NIOR RGB, fond 14, folder 497. 75 (a copy of a letter from N. N. Truhetskoi from Moscow to A. A. Rzhevskii in S1. Petersburg on 23 July 23, 1783); also in NIOR RGB, fond 17, folder 6, letter 14.)
On his part, Elagin was continuously distrustful of Schwarz and considered him a clever manipulator behind the scenes. In a straightforward manner Elagin wrote of Schwarz: "The wanderer Schwartz some time ago asked me for permission to establish a lodge in Mogilev, and was, with my permission, admitted to the fourth degree by P. B. Reichel. Reichel himself did not always approve of Schwarz's activities and even singled out that the state of the secret German press in Russia was "scandalous: by its poor choice of books it was doing more harm than good." Another notebook among Elagin' s papers contains an accusation that Schwarz, after collecting "a great sum of money from the Moscow brothers, especially from Tatischev and other wealthy persons, deceived [them]." He went to Carlsbad as their plenipotentiary, and brought "a great deal of meaningless charters and acts, together with the promise to receive further secrets from unknown superiors" from there. As a result, at the expense of the Russians, Schwarz "was able to enrich those unknown foreigners and himself. " In the spring of 1785, Elagin lamented: I am amazed by the blindness of some of the most sensible and enlightened men, learned not just in the science of Freemasonry but in the secular sciences, and in particular the moral sciences. By what fate did they become seduced? How, if they regarded our old teachings as unimponant, or a meaningless waste of time, can anyone with healthy common sense understand the condescension they showed in accepting the new... exclusively relying upon the promises of persons unknown to them, living in unknown places. How could they subordinate themselves to strict regulations of such a leadership which, except for some moralizing admonitions, revealed no secret whatever to them? ... But who knows if these Karlsbad pundits themselves know the first precepts of our holy and ancient science? ... Who knows whether they, even if the truth were known to them, which you doubt, would transmit it to the society of our Russian brothers without money, because, as far as I hear and can gather, all their traditions are nothing but papers printed on parchments in big letters with the signature of the unknown persons... All these, for a great deal of money, they send into the province generously, instructing in addition that all the money collected in the prefectures from the individual lodges should not be spent without the permission from above... In addition, these superiors command [the Moscow Masonry] to exercise constantly in the reading of the Old and New Testaments. This command is holy and it should be fulfilled, but if they do not provide any key to understanding of the Holy Scripture, ... then it is clear that they are not masons, but fanatics, or false devotees who undertook to render the persons under their power incapable of thinking. Elagin also believed that "the German students [of Freemasonry]" only diverted their Russian brothers from "the tme path." Those Russians who "have been in enlightenment for some time" should preclude Germans from "putting the dark band over out eyes and guiding us from one unfamiliar place to another!" He was concerned that the deceived brothers did not receive any knowledge from the deceivers. What they received was not "useful for the people, society, fatherland, and the Emperor." As a result of these considerations, Elagin started wondering whether it was a Jesuit conspiracy that stood behind the activities of many "German students" and especially of Schwarz: Isn 't this [the system that Schwarz organized in Russia] really a reaching of the extinct Jesuit Order? The power, unlimited but hidden from the brothers, testifies to it. .. In it, establishment of schools is ordered on condition that the readers come from the brotherly society, similar to those Jesuit schools out of which came Voltaires or Raval'iaks [sie]. In it one is advised above all to take measures so that the brothers who are known as notables in society could take part in the education of young mlers and [be stationed] at the court.
Russian knowledge of the Illuminati was actively shaped by the information received from foreign lodges. Thus, Schröder announced the beginning of the silan um (a period of temporary "silence" when all the correspondence and all the official work of the organization are supposed to suspend their activity) because of the fear of the Illuminati. The silan um disrupted the work of the majority of lodges in Russia in 1784. Schröder's superiors in Berlin enforced the interruption of all the correspondence, internal and external, by the end of 1786 (Longinov, Novikov i moskovskie martinisr)', 088, 0133). In a circular letter from a German lodge received around 1787, IIIuminati were identified as... a very harmful sect opposing the Kingdom of Christ and the true Order... they are trying to catch the souls by any available means and distract them [souls] from the true Christian Religion and destroy all the connections necessary for the pious order in societies that requires love and loyalty to Rules and authorities; and want to instill the evil aspiration to unlimited independence from the secular and spiritual.
Russian Freemasons invariably were advised "to oppose this enemy." (NIOR RGB, fond 14, folder 458, 23. Copy of the letter made in the I 830s, the letter is dated 1787. Another copy is in NIOR RGB, fond 147, folder 77, 117-119. Possibly a part of the Einige Originalschriften des Illuminatenordens, welche bey dem gewesenen Regierungsrath Zwack durch vorgenommene Hausvisitation zu Landshur den 11 und 12 oet. 1786 vorgefunden worden. Auf höchsten Befehl Seiner Churfurstlichen Durchlaucht zum Druck befördert München 1787 e "Nachtrag von Originalschriften, welche die llluminatensecte überhaupt, sonderbar aber... Adam Weishaupt... betreffen (München, 1787). As Maksim Nevzorov, a Russian Mason sent abroad by the Moscow circle to study medicine indicated, Lopukhin urged him and his friend to avoid any introduction to enter unknown foreign lodges because these lodges could be "debauched and corrupt." Nevzorov insisted that he had followed this advice, and in 1791 when he was approached with a proposition to enter the lodge lead by a "reputable Professor and poet Bürger" in Göttingen, he refused. Later he, to his dismay, learned that the Grand Master Professor Bürger "made a speech in support of the French equality." Presumably, after Lopukhin's recommendation not to go to the revolutionary Paris, the two Russian students followed the advice. However. in Russia it was rumored that they "were in Paris...and were among the Russian deputies to the French National Assembly with congratulations to the French on their revolutionary deeds" (OPI GIM, fond 398, opis' 1, folder 24, 16-16 rev. letter from M. I. Nevzorov to O. A. Pozdeev on 23 June 1817, Moscow). On their arrival to Russia, Masonic students were interrogated on Catherine' s orders about "the French revolution, this horrible result of the blood-thirsty enlightened philosophy rand] politics, against which our benevolent teachers and mentors Freemasons went with their teaching, examples, and all establishments went..." (OPI GIM, fond 398, opis' I, folder 24, 17 letter from M. I. Nevzorov to O. A. Pozdeev on 23 June 1817, Moscow). Correspondence reflecting Russian Freemasons' concern about Nevzorov and Kolokol'nikov's safety during events in France, copies in NIOR RGB, fond 14, folder 499, letters from Lopukhin in Moscow to Kutuzov in Berlin on 5 December 1790 and 7 November 1790. Published in Barskov, Perepiska, 5-6, 29, 99,108, 197, 199, and in "Russkie vol'nodumtsy v tsarstvovanie Ekateriny TI. Sekretno-vskritaiia perepiska (1790-95)," Russkaiia starina 9 (1874),57-72,258-276, 465-72; continued in "Tovarischi i ptentsy N. I. Novikova (ikh vzaimnaiia perepiska)," Russkaiia starina 88 (October, November, December 1896): 321-365).
Lopukhin was terrified by the revolutionary events in France no less than the Russian authorities were. He writes, "[the devil], via the so-called philosophes, prepares minds of the French to overthrow the religion, and when he succeeded in this, he blinded their reason to overthrow the power of the king..." ["[diavol] priugotovliaet umi frantsuzov chrez tak nazivaemykh filosofov k nizverzheniu s sebia religii, i kogda emu eto udalos', to on oslepil ikh um k nizverzheniu vlasti tsarskoi"] (NIOR RGB, fond 14, folder 499,88 (letter from Trubetskoi in Moscow to Kutuzov in Berlin, no date); published in Barskov, Perepiska, 5-6.29.99, 108, 197. 199. and in "Russkie vol'nodumtsi v tsarstvovanie Ekaterini 11. Sekretno-vskritaiia perepiska (1790-95)," Russkaiia starina 9 (1874), 57-72, 258-276, 465-72; continued in "Tovarischi i ptentsy N. I. Novikova," 321-365).
Thus in the 1780s, the idea of the Illuminati conspiracy against Christian faith speculations about their possible connections to Masonic lodges became a common theme throughout Europe, and it is not surprising that activities of Schwarz, a foreigner at the very top of Masonic hierarchy who was very closely involved with foreigners abroad and in Russia, fed the rumors. In his memoirs, German Pastor Wigand, Schwarz's associate at Moscow University, on the whole spoke highly of Schwarz. But he also made an assumption that Schwarz had been sent to Russia by Prussian secret societies specifically to annihilate Christian faith under the banner of high-grade Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism: The leader of this society, Professor Schwarz, showed me full confidence and revealed to me the hidden purpose of the society, aiming at anything else but the subversion of the Orthodox faith in Russia; I advised him to act more cautiously, (to abandon mysticism, and not to mix his own aims with the aims of the community (Hernhutter), so that they would not hurt each other.
Johann Wigand (1744-1808), German pastor and a Herrnhute. arrived in Russia as a tutor, moving in 1782 to the professorship at Moscow University where he taught history (V. V. Timoschuk, "Pastor Wigand. Ego zhizn' i deiatel'nost' (1744-1808)," Russkaia starina 74, no. 6 (1892),561-562. The roots of the United Brethren (Moravian, Hermhutter) movement go back to the fifteenth-century religious movement of the Bohemian and Moravian brethren. the followers of which founded the Hermhut community. Zinzendorf revived the movement in the eighteenth century. In the Baltic provinces, the Brethren were active since 1739. In Russia, the Herrnhut brethren were officially permitted to live and establish colonies since 1763. Catherine the Great signed the permission on 22 December 1763, and received Exposition de /'origine, de la doctrine, des constitutions, usages er ceremonies ecclesiasriques de /'Eglise de l'Unite des Freres Evangeliques as a gift from the community. In 1765, in provincial Saratov region there was established a colony of German-speaking herrnhutters that received a name of Sarepta. In general, one of the characteristic features of the Herrnhutter movement was active nessionary work. The success of the Herrnhuter missionaries depended largely on the suppon of the local Lutheran clergy and German expatriates. The Brethren did not set up an independent church in Russia, remaining, according to their leaders' wishes, within the framework of the Lutheran Church. Most of the Herrnhuter missionaries arrived in Russia by the end of the eighteenth century, preparing the ground for the extensive religious awakening. The history of the Hernhutter community in Russia is yet to be written. In regard to religious reform, Schwarz labors soon brought him the ordeal of sickness; I visited him every day, and he always asked me to talk about the Savior to him but we could not speak freely, since Freemasons were always eavesdropping on us, fearing lest under the influence of a spiritual mood so new to him, he might give away their secrets. I also tried to avoid this [awkward situation] in every way, but once he spoke out that "this is a diabolical order and that if the Lord sends him the eure, then he will join the community [Hernhutters']. "
In any Masonic rite, a hierarchy built in a pyramid-like fashion -- with the Grand Lodge (or, depending on the system, Landesloge or Grande Loge Nationale) at the top, mother-lodges following, and regular lodges connected with each other by horizontal ties of brotherhood love and recognition - placed special significance on the figures of Masonic officials. If the lodge of Perfect Union, the Baltic and the Polish lodges, which all had predominantly foreign membership, refused to come under the authority of the Russian Grand Master, the most significant opposition between a foreign leader at the top of Masonic hierarchy and his Russian subordinates was the ease of Baron Schröder01 1 and the Moscow Masonic circle. Until his death in 1784, Schwarz was indisputably the
administrative and intellectual leader of the union of Russian lodges under the guidance of the Moscow circle. His death coincided with the beginning of the divide between Moscow and St. Petersburg Freemasons and brought about significant problems in leadership. Schröder, the new Masonic leader who was an acquaintance of Schwarz, was sent from Berlin to replace him. As Schröder described in the lener 10 N. N. Trubetskoi on 16 January 1792, he arrived in Russia not to make himself rich with the Russian money... but to sacrifice [his] body and life to your [Russian] fatherland." He also claimed that while his initial intention was to serve Russia as a soldier, it was the late Schwarz who. .. upon long-term efforts, against my will, diverted me from this path, for which I am eternally grateful to him. Of course, he [Schwarz] did not think that I would become as unhappy as I did, that I would lose my health, my honor, and what remained of my possessions, and would subject myself to the danger of begging. ..( NIOR ROB, fond 14, folder 499, 131 ff.) The letter of introduction which arrived with Schröder and was signed by Theden, focused on his role as a curator of the work in German language, with Lopukhin presiding over Russian brothers. (NIOR ROB. fond 237, cardboard 33, folder 10,1-6.)
However, soon Schröder became the nominal leader of Rosicrucians (and all Masons under them) in Russia. While a secret head of the Moscow Masonic circle and the official leader of the Strict Observance system in Russia, Schröder was at the same time an envoy of the Berlin Rosicrucians, instrumental in the distancing of the Moscow circle from Duke Ferdinand and Strict Observance. (NIOR RGB, fond 237, cardboard 33, folder 10, 1-6 letter from Theden to Tatischev, Moscow, 1784) Schröder' s diary is an essential source that documents the tensions that arose between German Masonic superiors and their Russian followers. From the diary, it follows that Schröder' s attachment to bis Russian friends was an obstacle from the point of view of the Berlin Rosicrucians. Schröder recorded Wöllner' s words concerning his disappointment in Russian brothers: "God took Schwarz too early for the Russian brothers because B[aron] v[on] Schröder is zealous and energetic but too kind. He knows the Russian nation so little. I wish he were better acquainted with Russian names." Schröder needed to be instructed not only about Russian surnames. His superiors tried every means to awaken in bim anti-Russian sentiments and warn him against being too open-minded with his Russian charges. From the beginning, Schröder was instructed to "tell the Russians that they should simply become pious people and relinquish leadership" and "explain clearly to the Russians that the superiors of the order can restore health with their shadow, and can say as well as the apostles, arise from among the dead" when they find it in accordance with God' s plan." (RGADA, fond 8, opis' I, folder 216, pan 4.)
Schröder wrote in his diary, recalling his conversation with Wöllner and mixing his own ideas with those of Wöllner: We should not introduce the brothers in the Theoretical degree into the mystical degrees too eagerly so that we may never have to answer for their souls. The Russian people are inclined to all sorts of extremes, and my position is more critical than my enthusiasm for them allows realizing. I should not trust them [the Russians]; they are a treacherous nation like the French. The more aristocratic, the more indolent and corrupt they are. They hate every German and they never loved me either. Wöllner knows them better. A member of Wöllner's coterie, Simson, "regards them [the Russians] as always false." Wöllner told Schröder to fear "that you will become their [the Russians'] victim because you are and always will remain a German and a canaille in the eyes of that nation." In another conversation reported in Schröder's diary, the author stated: No land received so much and such swift benefit from the Order as R[ussia]. If these seigneurs-princes [sie] would only realize and reeognize this, they would soon renounce their earthly pride and begin to lend a helping hand. Otherwise, we cannot go on. S[chwarz]'s experience proves this. He died within a couple of years and they will think that a German must always die like a dog before them. No, with you young man, I do not give up; I am only a muzhik and they are grand seigneurs. The frequent references to the "haughtiness" and "treachery" of the Russians in Schröder' s diary indicate that wealthy Russian aristocrats offered a lot more of a resistance to Wöllner's attempts to subjugate them to the command of the "unknown superiors" of the Order. Wöllner's group went to such extremes in their anti-Russian invective that Schröder, who seems to have had genuine good will towards his Masonic friends in Russia, was provoked to comment: [i]t is an injustice to the Russians when one blames them for a hatred of foreigners and Germans imbibed through mother' s milk... Pride and haughtiness rule the entire world; one man despises another, why should one expect all the good things from the Russians alone? Schröder' s reference to the "treachery" of the Russians is indicative of his eventual disappointment about his life in Russia. As Novikov testified during the trial, Schröder put 3500 rubles for the foundation of the Moscow Printing Company in 1784.621 He was the only foreigner among fourteen founding members of the Print Society, some of whom were accepted without any investment. In 1785, the circle bought a spacious house in Schröder's name (and as the baron claimed later, with his money which could, after substantial renovations, accommodate several Masonry related enterprises. When Schröder decided not to proceed with the deal and asked his Russian brothers to return his share of investment, he was refused after several rounds of unsuccessful negotiations with Novikov. This led Schröder to a complete financial ruin. He claimed that he spent nearly all of his inheritance to buy the house and, as a citizen of Russian Empire, avoid being called a "foreign deceiver." (NIOR RGB, fond 14, folder 499, 132rev. Lener to N. Trubeskoi on 16 January 1792).
As baron explained in the letters to his Russian associates, he had also sold his family jewels to take care of the Masonic drugstore in Moscow. (NIOR RGB, fond 14, folder 499, 135 rev.) After Schröder left Russia in 1787, he continued sending letters with Kutuzov's mail. The letters are full of pleas for money. NIOR RGB, fond 14, folder 499, contains two letters from Schröder to P. Tatischev. probably the richest person in the Novikov circle, on pages 36-45 rev; 47-47 rev. and two letters from to N. Trubeskoi: on 24 December 1791 (page 126 rev.) and 16 January 1792 (pages 130-135 rev.). Schröder insistently blamed Novikov for his misfortunes, and still intended to be useful to his Moscow friends by the only means available to him: translation of "useful" books from German into Russian.
Confusion and speculations about the "real" goals of the secret society of Freemasons developed in the situation when foreign Freemasons became part and parcel of the parade of distinguished philosophers and opportunistic crackpots who traveled to Russia because they believed or pretended to believe that as Voltaire put it, "reason was coming from the North." A sense of puzzlement and mystery was associated with the country, which did not fit into a nascent Western mental geography. This contributed to the development of a peculiar trend in Masonic mythology that viewed Russia as a special destination because of the belief that Freemasons' predecessors.. brought the knowledge from the East, And as they made the nations yield, They spread it thru' the North and West, And taught the World the art to build. The reference is made in The Book of Constitutions (1767) and the notion of East had a special significance to those Freemasons who correlated Freemasonry and Christianity.) Situated in the East and in the North, Russia fitted the description, and Russian Freemasons only reinforced the image of Russia as a possible new East.
On the one hand, Russia ought to be in the West in that, like European countries, it was an heir to the traditions of Christianity, and after Peter's reforms it has been a participant in the Western path of cultural development. Yet, it was not Western enough. Located predominantly in Asia, it was mystical and authoritarian in its approach to religion, and despotic in its governance. However, it was not quite the East either. Several dubious public affairs involving foreign Freemasons who claimed to bring light to Russia or were searching for the secret knowledge in Russia affected Freemasonry' s public image and influenced the development of the Craft in the second half of the eighteenth century. Count Giuseppe Balsamo Cagliostro's visit contributed to the growing identification of Freemasonry with shady machinations, alchemy, and magic.
Cagliostro visited St.Petersburg and the Baltic provinces in 1779-90. Elisa von der Recke, lady-in-waiting to Catherine II, was the first among those who attempted to unmask Cagliostro for the Russian-speaking audience. She considered Cagliostro a dangerous swindler who played on the superstitious and impressionable minds of Russians trusting in the knowledge and the Masonic expertise of the foreigners. As von Recke pointed out in her Nachricht von der beruechtigen Cagliostro (1779), Cagliostro' s trip to Russia was well planned. She insisted that the main reason for his stay in Courland was acquiring the necessary connections and preparing the ground for his visit to St. Petersburg where he hoped to interest the Empress in his Egyptian Masonry and get her protection and support for it.
According to Recke, in Mitau Cagliostro became close to several prominent persons, and especially a local Masonic leader Graf von der Hoven, who provided him with the letter of introduction to the Freemasons in Russia, more specifIcally to Baron Henry Charles von Heyking in St. Petersburg.637
The adventurer arrived in St. Petersburg in the fall of 1779 and stayed there until April 1780. His fIrst visit in the capital was to Heyking, to whom he had a warm letter of introduction from von Howen. Heyking, Major of a Russian Guards regiment, was a high-degree Mason in the Strict Observance system, who prided himself on his education in materialistic philosophy. He met Cagliostro with certain hostility, especially after Cagliostro' s announcements about his grandiose mission in Russia and expressions of hope to reach it with Catherine's patronage: I am delighted to see the Great Catherine, this Semiramis of the North, and to spread the great Light here [in Russia] openly. Educated in the pyramids of Egypt, I have learned there the "occult" sciences and am the Grand Master of the Rosicrucians. Not all Freemasons in Russia were skeptical of Cagliostro and his performances. Despite the unfavorable characterization given to Cagliostro by Baron Heyking, the adventurer seemed to have soon acquired quite a number of influential friends in St. Petersburg, leading Masons searching for "higher Masonic knowledge," including Elagin, Melissino, and Count Alexander Stroganov. When William Tooke defines the notion of "dervish," he uses examples of men "of the same class and brotherhood with a St. Germain, a Schroepfer, a Dr. Graeme, a Cagliostro, or, which is the same thing to me, the Armenian in Schiller's spirit-seer... These gentlemen (whose aim, as is well known, is solely directed to the ennobling of human nature as well as stones and metals. and which has already been declared by the Rosencreutzians...) have formed ... a kind of invisible church or republic" and used many means to "entice proselytes," in [Anon.], ''Whether There be Means for Prolonging Human Life far Beyond its Natural Term" in Varieties of Literature, ed. and trans. William Tooke, vol. I, 276. 641 Cited in Pekarskii, Dopolneniia, 78.
In his memoirs, Baron Schröder reports that Elagin enthusiastically supported the adventurer because he "wanted to learn from Cagliostro how to make gold. The latter promised to send him all the necessary ingredients from Poland, but never did." The nature of the relations between Cagliostro and Elagin was also corroborated in a pamphlet published by Andrei Krivtsov, Elagin's secretary. Krivtsov considered Cagliostro to be "a vulgar and ignorant charlatan" and ended up hitting Cagliostro in the face after learning that Cagliostro had obtained a considerable sum of money from Elagin. "Given that Elagin always cautioned his followers against being deceived by foreign adventurers who styled themselves as adepts of mysticism, his involvement with Cagliostro is peculiar. As it is dear from his diary and the remnants of the manuscript library, a perusal of Masonic documents which Elagin collected over the years of his involvement with the Craft, led him to believe that "Freemasonry, judging by its ancient origin, its spread from people to people, the respect it gained from all enlightened languages, must contain something superb and beneficial to mankind." "What this something is," he concluded, "cannot be understood without a key." (RGADA. fond 8, opis' I, folder 216, Elagin papers, 105; Elagin, "Zapiska," 597.)
While Elagin expected to establish an alchemical laboratory or find a "key" to Masonic knowledge with Cagliostro's help, other Russian aristocrats hoped to receive a cure from him. The pamphlet, Ein Paar Tropflein aus dem Brunnen der Wahrheit ausgegossen, published in Frankfurt in 1781 reports that while in St. Petersburg, Cagliostro allegedly cured assessor Ivan Isleniev when all hope had been abandoned by the doctors and that this cure was recorded by a special certificate given to Cagliostro. Chevalier de Corberon, a French charge d'affaires in Russia, made the following entry in his diary on 2 July 1781: "At St. Petersburg, Cagliostro cured Baron Stroganov, who had attacks of lunaey, caused by his nerves, Yelaguin [sie], Mme. Boutourlin, etc.," and remarked with cutting irony that "Cagliostro cured, not everybody, but many."
Case Study: Cagliostro as Conspiracy Theory.
As suggested, in popular imagination, Russia's Westernization and dissemination of Freemasonry as we have seen, went hand in hand. Before the first Freemasons appeared in Russia, the country was in the darkness, and the beginning of Westernization, in Masonic philosophy came to signify the rebirth as the moment of conversion and the subsequent spirituality. To remedy Russia's problems, Freemasons endeavored to educate its people about the value of "Light" by employing the means of private education and moral instruction; development of free associations; and propagating access to the secrets of Nature, removal of social disabilities and distance limitations, and ministry to the sick and injured. In the world of uncertainty, Freemasonry offered hope of enlightenment, tolerance, and reason and provided a potential solution to the world's unbalanced and sick moral and social state. It created a sense of order for the world. Without down playing the practical side of Masonic association, with lodges being a part of social networks of support and patronage, there is no doubt that among the prime motives which drove many Masonic associates into Freemasonry was a genuine concern for Russia's moral wellbeing and the proliferation of the Craft. In Russia, participation in Freemasonry was justified by the rhetoric of fulfilling the mission of reforming the country by the means of education and "enlightenment." Masonic rhetoric of the universal conflict between light and darkness reflected the idea of Enlightening" Russia's people. Not directly related to the efforts of the state in educating its subjects and modernizing the country, Freemasonry provided a unique outlet for unified individual action in the country where the private sphere was in a rudimentary state. This made Freemasonry alien to the majority of the Russian population and, with time, inevitably suspicious to the authorities. While the differences in national allegiances were enforced by foreigners, and preventive involvement of the authorities crippled their effort, Freemasons' activities brought about a shift in consciousness that implied a strengthened emphasis on national identity and patriotism with broader rethinking of self-identity and national interests. For many Freemasons in Russia, making sense of this confusion and creating their own theories became a matter of rethinking their own place in Europe. Next we trace the invention of a Masonic Science of Man.
Nauchno-issledovatel'skii otdel rukopisei Rossiiskoi gosudarstvennoi biblioteki (NIOR RGB) [Manuscript Division of the Russian State Library, Moscow]
Fond 14, V. S. Arsen'ev collection of Masonic manuscripts
Fond 147. S. S. Lanskoi and S. V. Eshevskii collection of Masonic manuscripts Fond 178, Museum collection
Fond 237, D.I. Popov collection
Otdel rukopisei Natsional'noi rossiiskoi biblioteki (OR NRB) [Manuscript Division of the Russian National Library, St Petersburg]
Fond 487, N. M. Mikhailovskii collection
Fond 550, Principal collection of the manuscript books
Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv drevnikh aktov (RGADA) [Russian State Archive of Ancient Documents, Moscow]
Fond 8, Kalinkin Dom and Files of Crimes against Morality
Fond 8, opis' 1, I. P. Elagin papers
Fond 10, Private Office of Catherine II
Fond 17, Science, Literature, Art
Fond 168. Relations of Russian Sovereigns with Governmental Posts and with Officials
Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi istoricheskii arkhiv (RGIA) [Russian State Historical Archive, St Petersburg]
Fond 796. Chancellery of the Holy Synod papers (1721-1918)
Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv literatury i iskusstva (RGALI) [Russian State Archive of Literature and An, Moscow]
Fond 191, Efremov collection
Fond 442, M. K. and T. O. Sokolovskii collection
Fond 1189, M. M. Kheraskov papers
Fond 1270, N. I. Novikov papers
Fond 1764. I. P. Elagin collection and papers
Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi voennyi arkhiv (RGVA) [Russian State Military Archive, Moscow]
Fond 175, Masonic Lodges and Chapters (1781-1939)
Fond 1311, Knightly Orders (1785-1931)
Fond 1412k, Documentary materials of Masonic Lodges
Fond 1311, opis' 1-2, Documentary materials of Masonic Lodges (1755-1928)
Fond 730, opis' 1, Masonic Lodge Astrea
Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii (GARF) [State Archive of the Russian Federation, Moscow]
Fond 1137, G. V. Vemadskii collection
Odel pis 'mennykh istochnikov gosudarstvennogo istoricheskogo muzeia (OPI GIM) [Division of Wrinen Sources of the State Historical Museum, Moscow]
Fond 17, Uvarov's personal collection
Fond 281, Document collection of the history of culture, science, and social movements
Fond 282, Document collection of the Museum of the Revolution
Fond 398, P. P. Beketov collection
Fond 440, I. E. Zabelin collection
Fond 450, E. V. Barsov collection
Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Tverskoi Oblasti [State Archive of the Tver' Region, Tver']
Fond 103, opis' 1, folder 1169, collection of Masonic documents.
Archive and Library of the United Grand Lodge of England, Freemasons' Hall (FHL), London
Archive of the United Grand Lodge of England (including Letter-books, Minutebooks, Freemasons' Calendars, and General Correspondence)
Personal Papers of Eighteenth-Century Masons
British Library, Modern British Collections and Manuscript Collections, London
Add. 23,644-23,680, Correspondence and papers of General Charles Rainsford Sloane 3329 f. 142, Masonic papers
Add. 20645 ff. 190, 199,211-256, Papers relating to Freemasons in Italy and France .
Add. 29970, Proceedings of the lodge at the Thatched House Tavem (1777-1817) Add. 23675, Papers relating to Freemasonry (1783-1796)
Bodleian Library, Oxford
MSS, Dep. Bland Burges, Burges collection
MSS Clar. Dep. C. 346-47, Clarendon papers
Fld MSFP(2)-70-71, Somerville collection
MS Rawlinson C. 136, Rawlinson collection of Masonic manuscripts
National Library of Scotland (NLS), Edinburgh
Ms 3942, f. 301v., 1. Robison's ]etters
Ace. 4796 Box 104, A. Ramsay's papers
Adv MSS 22.4.13, W. Richardson papers
National Archive of Scotland (NAS), Edinburgh
MSS Seafield Papers GD 248/518/6 H.M., Letters of Cameron' s workers GD 1/620, Rogerson papers
GD 156/62 Elphinstone papers, Keith papers
Abercairny MSS, GD24/1826, Mounsey letters
Aberdeen University Archive (AUA), Aberdeen
MS 3064/B 198, J. Keith papers MS 3064/B 146, J. Keith papers MS 3064/B 335, J. Keith papers
MS 2711/1-12, Correspondence, family and estate papers of Keith family (155078)
MS 2707 1/l1l and 1/l/2, Documents of A.W. Keith Falkoner
MS 3163, Documents of H. Godfrey
Ms 3295, Documents from Marischal Keith's Despatch [sic] Box
Archive and Library, Grand Lodge of Scotland, Edinburgh
Minutes of the Grand Lodge of Scotland (1770-1800)
Glasgow University Library, Glasgow
Ms Murray 503, ff. 5-6, William Poner, paniculars respecting Mr. Robison (1769-1774 )
Davis WestOn, Slavica: an Exhibition of Books and Manuscripts from the University's Collections (1990)
Latvijas Valsts vestures arhivs (LVVA) [Latvia State Historical Archive, Riga]
Fonda 4038,2 apraksts (1394), documents of the Lodge zur kleinen Welt.