Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]


This is not so much a second edition of my book on Secret Societies published in 1875 as an almost entirely new work.

When the first edition was published, some of the societies had scarcely any history. Of the Nihilists, for instance, the account now given, recording their doings within the last eighteen years, fills many pages of this work. The story of other societies, active even then, such as the Fenians, had to be brought down to date, and yielded much new matter.

I have thought it desirable to give fuller particulars of certain societies than I had given in the first edition, such as the Jesuits, for instance the new matter having either been kept back, or being the result of further research.

Accounts of societies not included in the first edition will be found here. I may instance “Crata Repoa," “ Rosheniah,” and "Skopzi."

A few of the articles of the first edition have been reduced; such, for instance, as that on the Paris Commune, which has not now that immediate interest its then recent activity imparted to it.

Great changes have also been made in the arrangement of the matter.

Secret Societies may be arranged either chronologically, or locally, or topically. Each arrangement has its advantages and disadvantages; the former are obvious, the latter may be stated thus:

By arranging societies according to chronology, those which are topically connected or identical will sometimes be placed at so great a distance as to impair the continuity of interest. By arranging them locally, the chronological connection must suffer; and by arranging them according to subjects or topics, the reader obtains no clear view of the sequence of events. I have therefore endeavoured to combine the three modes of representing the great drama of Secret Societies by making the topical arrangement its basis, and on that marshalling the societies first according to locality, and lastly according to time. Thus

in the first Book of the work the topic is Ancient Mysteries and Religious Societies; they are arranged according to localities, and the third consideration is the time. Therefore the Eastern Societies come first, in chronological order; then the Western, in the same order; so that the Magi of Persia form the first, and the Scandinavian Drottes of Europe the last in the list.

A full list of authorities consulted being given, it has not been considered necessary to encumber the pages with footnotes; the general reader does not want them, and the student will know what work to refer to for verification.

The work, as now presented to the public, is the result of twenty-five years' study and research, involving the acquisition and collation of the English and foreign literature on the subject, and therefore claims to be a cyclopædia of Secret Societies, giving concise, but quintessential, details of all worth recording, and omitting only those whose duration was ephemeral, and action trivial.

C. W. H.

October, 1896.


For many years the fascinating subject of Secret Societies had engaged my attention, and it had long been my intention to collect in a comprehensive work all the information that could be gathered from numerous, often remote, and sometimes almost inaccessible, sources concerning one of the most curious phases of the history of mankind-those secret organisations, religious, political, and social, which have existed from the most remote ages down to the present time. Before, however, I had arranged and digested my materials, a review in the Athenaeum (No. 2196) directed my attention to the Italian work, “Il Mondo Secreto," by Signor De Castro, whom I have since then had the pleasure of meeting at Milan. I procured the book, and intended at first to give a translation of it; but though I began as a translator, my labours speedily assumed a more independent form. Much, I found, had to be omitted from an original coloured by a certain political bias, and somewhat too indulgent to various Italian political sects, who, in many instances, were scarcely more than hordes of brigands. Much, on the other hand, had to be added from sources, chiefly English and German, unknown to the Italian author; much had to be placed on a different basis and in another light; and again, many societies not mentioned by Signor De Castro had to be introduced to the reader, such as the Garduna, the Chauffeurs, Fenians, International, 0-Kee-Pa, Ku-Klux, Inquisition, Wahábees; so that, with these additions, and the amplifications of sections in the original Italian, forming frequently entirely new articles, the work, as it now is presented to the English public, though in its framework retaining much of its foreign prototype, may yet claim the merit of being not only essentially original, but the most comprehensive account of Secret Societies extant in English, French, German, or Italian, the leading languages of Europe; for whatever has been written on the subject in any one of them has been consulted and put under contribution. In English there is no work that can at all compete with it, for the small book

« AnteriorContinuar »