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Authors: Robert A. Wilson

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The Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost
               They’re the guys that you need most!
               The Spirit, the Father, the Heavenly Son
               That’s the crowd that gets things done!

Glor-i-a in ex-cel-sus D-e-o!

A fine old English manor house. A penny-farthing bicycle on the lawn in front of the door.
A baby cries
SIR JAMES FENWICK BABCOCK pacing, stops suddenly at the infants cry.
Baby cries again
DOCTOR [with the face of ALBERT EINSTEIN, 1914] comes out of room into hall.
“You can come in now, Sir James. A fine, healthy son.”

Sir John Babcock was born on November 23, 1886, the only child of Sir James Fenwick Babcock, a once-respected biologist who was then in the process of relegating himself to scientific limbo for advocating the Lamarckian theory of evolution in preference to the Darwinian. The boy’s mother
was Lady Catherine (Greystoke) Babcock, who is described in surviving diaries and letters as an exceptionally vivacious hostess, a great wit and intelligent advocate of her husband’s scientific heresies.

Tragically, young Sir John was orphaned in 1897 at the tender age of eleven, both Sir James and Lady Catherine being killed on a voyage to Africa with Lady Catherine’s reputedly crazy cousin, Lord Greystoke. The care of the child fell upon an uncle, Dr. Bostick Bentley Babcock, a physician who had pioneered the use of ether for anesthesia. It is also recorded that Dr. B. B. Babcock was, unlike his brother, a strict Darwinian, an atheist and a vehement
Liberal of the Herbert Spencer philosophy; it was also said by some that as a lifelong bachelor and rationalist Dr. Babcock was the last man in the world to raise an orphan child successfully. Evidently, the good doctor privately shared this opinion, for he hired a small army of nannies, tutors, servants and other factotums with which he shielded himself strategically from the problems of a pubescent nephew.

When Dr. Babcock himself died, of a sudden heart attack on June 16, 1904, young Sir John was eighteen and suffering his miserable last term at Eton. The family solicitor explained to him that he was now not only the owner of the 20,000 acres of Babcock Manor, but also the recipient of two inheritances which, as presently invested, allowed him an income for life of 4,000 pounds per year, without his ever having to commit the Un-English Sin of dipping into the Capital.

Sir John was a slim and nervous-looking lad, the butt of all student jokes and always described as “shy,” “bookish” or “peculiar” by his classmates. He himself felt less than totally miserable only when walking alone through the most heavily wooded sections of his 20,000 acres, thinking “green thoughts in a green shade,” as the Poet said; there it sometimes seemed to him, especially when twilight was
casting cinnamon and gold highlights into the emerald-green branches, that a door to another world would almost swing open and he could faintly discern the quick timid movements of dryads and the sulphurous sandal-wood scent, beneath the earth, of vast caverns of trolls. It was at such magic moments that a veil almost seemed to lift, a dim castle to arise in the mist, a trumpet to call to him of realms of romance and glamour, of danger and triumph.

Q: With what dramatis personae, furniture and accessories was that magick realm provided?

A: Dark and moonless nights, windswept moors, sinister fens, dank and dismal bogs, haunted abbeys, headless specters, wicked witches, wise and inscrutable wizards, high elves [the fairest of the fair], swarthy dwarfs, alchemical furnaces, elixirs, potions, drugs, herbs, precious stones, holy grails, diverse and sundry fire-breathing dragons, subterranean dungeons, maltese falcons, lost treasures, knights and paladins in armor of black and white, enigmatic Saracens, chaste heroines [blonde], evil seductresses [brunette], longswords, battleaxes, foils, rapiers, decayed parchments barely readable, Hebraic incantations, fumes, perfumes, incenses, pentacles, secret panels leading to hidden rooms, defrocked and malignant monks, dog-faced demons, assorted princesses of the blood royal, hands of glory, Egyptian philtres, talismans of rare gems, apotropaic spells, werewolves, vampires, foul servitors of Hecate, barbarous brews, eldritch ointments, black sabbats, elementals, familiars, damsels [fair, virginal, prone to swooning] in distress, diviners, astrologers, geomancers, bold brave blue-eyed sinewy heroes, dank dark mustachioed villains, gnomes, goblins, Men In Black, and infernal nether regions invisible.

Q: What sort of adventures and challenges had Sir John thus far encountered in actuality?

A: Two hundred seventeen attempts by older students to allure, intimidate or coerce him into participation in the Unspeakable Crime against Nature, as forbidden in Holy Writ and the Section 270 of the Revised Penal Code of 1888.

Q: For what motives did young Sir John refuse to participate in the aforesaid Unspeakable Crime?

A: Christian piety; terror of discovery; fear of germs and vile diseases thus transmitted; grim warnings by Uncle Bentley and the Dean of Studies that it led to idiocy, insanity and emasculation; indignation that he was always offered the passive [receptor] role; conviction that it would provoke gagging.

    Once he caught a field mouse and held it in his hands, staring into its terrified eyes and knowing, with horror, that he could crush out its life with a rock as abruptly and pointlessly as the lives of all the adults he had loved had been crushed. He was frightened in a nakedly metaphysical way, not that such cruel fantasies should occur to him, nor even that something primordial and palaeolithic within himself urged him to do it, commit the deed, know the horrible joy of conscious sin; not any of that, bad as it was, but ontologically terrified at the knowledge of his own power, the fact that the deed was possible, that life was so fragile and easily terminated. The aromas of rose and clover in his nostrils, the pastel emeralds and turquoises of the trees, the primordial beauty of raw Nature, were all suddenly terrible to him, masks behind which lurked only death and the love of killing. He released the creature—“wee sleekit cowerin’ timorous beastie,” he quoted to himself—and watched it scamper away, knowing the same dread that the mouse knew, seeing the whole billion-year struggle of predator and prey through Uncle Bentley’s Darwinian prism, weeping at last alone the tears he had been too numb and self-conscious to weep at Uncle Bentley’s
funeral. Feeling thrice orphaned, he wanted to dare the blasphemy of Job’s wife: to curse God and die.

He never forgot that moment; and once, many months later, when he was asked his favorite lines from Shakespeare, by an instructor aware of his intellectual potential and sorry for his loneliness, Sir John immediately quoted, not the “To be or not to be” or “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” soliloquies, but the grim couplet from

As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods:
They kill us for their sport

The instructor was so depressed by the despair of Sir John’s tone in quoting this that he decided the lad was “a hopeless case” and made no further avuncular overtures.

But Sir John was also aware that the gods, or the blind impersonal forces of Uncle Bentley’s Darwinian universe, had, just as impassively as they murdered his mother and father and uncle, gifted him with an economic security generally considered a great blessing in a world where three-quarters of the population struggled desperately to get enough to eat day to day, and most laborers died, toothless and raggedy, before the age of forty, worn out by toil in those Dark Satanic Mills lamented by Blake. Yet everybody knew that those Mills were necessary to Progress and that the lot of most men and women had been even worse before electricity. Sir John was confused about all this, and even more confused about the universe’s intent toward him, if it owned any. While he was in the midst of his most searching philosophical ruminations, the whole world seemed to shudder at once, for Plehve, the Russian Minister of the Interior, was murdered—the latest in a series of senseless and incredible assassinations. The boy heard many older persons talking of the growing violence and lawlessness of the world; and he heard others,
more ominously, speak of a worldwide conspiracy behind these violent attacks on government officials.

Sir John graduated with honors from Trinity College, Cambridge, five years later, in 1909. The world was shuddering again, at the assassination of Prince Ito of Japan, and more talk was heard of worldwide conspiracies and secret societies (Zionist, said some; Jesuit, said others), but Sir John heard this only as background noise by now. His mind and heart were not in the world, but in the two scholarly realms known as history and mythology. Sir John refused to accept that distinction, having fallen totally in love with another world so long dead it was powerless to hurt him, unlike the present world, and yet was also rich in mystery and glamour.

At this point Sir John read
Vril: The Power of the Coming Race
, by Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton and was mesmerized by its tapestry of adventure, Utopianism, romance, deep occult scholarship and profound knowledge of political psychology. But most fascinating of all, to Sir John, was the fact that the occult details in the book did not come from sheer fantasy and vulgar folklore, like the thrillers of Bram Stoker, but were derived from obviously genuine knowledge of medieval Cabala and Rosicrucianism. Within the next three months he purchased and read with mounting excitement all the works of Lord Bulwer-Lytton—
Reinzi, The Last Days of Pompeii
, all the other novels, the poems, the plays, the essays, even the fairy tales. It was an astounding body of literature to have been produced by a man who also edited a monthly magazine, served as a member of Parliament and became one of Disraeli’s principal advisors.

And Sir John, even more than the hundreds of thousands of readers who made Bulwer-Lytton one of the most popular novelists of the nineteenth century, was captivated by the question tantalizingly raised again and again in those books: If so much of the occult knowledge
was based on real scholarship, might one dare to believe the frequent claim that the Rosy Cross order still existed and commanded the
force that could mutate humanity into superhumanity?

Q: Under what other names has the Vril been described by diverse persons before and after Lord Bulwer-Lytton?

A: Before: ch’i [Chinese, c. 3000 BC.] prajna [Hindic philosophers, c. 1500 BC.], telesma [H. Trismegistus, c. 350 BC.], Vis Medicatrix Naturae [Hippocrates, c. 350 BC.], Facultas Formatrix [Galen, c. 170 AD.], baraka [Sufis, c. 600 AD.], mumia [Paracelsus, c. 1530 AD.], animal magnetism [Mesmer, 1775 AD.], Life Force [Galvani, 1790 A D.],
[Goethe, 1800 A D.], OD force [Reichenbach, 1845 AD.]. After: etheric formative force [Steiner, 1900 A D.],
Elan Vital
[Bergson, 1920 A D.], Mitogenetic radiation [Gurwitsch, 1937 AD], orgone [Reich, 1940 A D.], bioplasma [Grischenko, 1944 A D.], Good Vibes
[anon, hippie domesticas
, c. 1962 A D.], inergy [Puharich, 1973 A D.], the Force [Lucas, 1977 A D.].

    Sir John was, by this time, twenty-four years old and romantically, painfully, convinced of a vast temperamental abyss between himself and his contemporaries. He was frankly bored by grubby, money-centered business concerns (he had all the money he could ever possibly want) and repelled by the flabbiness of the Anglican clergy—the only church career family tradition could have countenanced and yet so milkwater that, as Trollope said, it interfered neither with a man’s politics nor his religion; thus, he seemed to have no future but pedantry. That was also unattractive, because he regarded himself as alienated and rebellious (although within the limits of good taste, sound morals and British common sense, of course; he was still chaste, since whores were the victims of social exploitation he could not sanction and it was indecent to
make an advance to a lady, even if he had known how). Worse: he was resolved not to be corrupted by his out-landishly large independence (a word he preferred to “inheritance”) and could not bear to think of himself as a social butterfly or wastrel. He would write books, then; and if no audience larger than could easily gather in a water closet were ever to read them, that would not matter. He had at least a role if he had not yet found a soul; he was “the scholarly one of the Babcocks.”

Sir John had majored in medieval history and Near Eastern languages; his master’s thesis, on the influence of Jewish Cabala on medieval occult societies, became his first book,
The Secret Chiefs
, which was favorably reviewed in the few places where it was noticed at all. The most hostile single line in any critique appeared in the University of Edinburgh
Historical Journal
, and was by Professor Angus McNaughton. It chided Babcock mildly for “a certain romantic turn of mind which leads the youthful and ardent author to imagine that some of the secret societies discussed might have survived even into our own age of enlightenment—a thesis that belongs in one of Lord Bulwer-Lytton’s romances, not in a work of alleged history.”

Like most young authors, Babcock received every criticism as a mortal blow, and it was mortifying to have the novelistic inspiration of his ideas so easily spotted. He wrote three drafts of a long letter to Professor McNaughton for impugning his spotless accuracy; and the third draft, with five pages of relentlessly pedantic footnotes, he actually mailed to the University of Edinburgh
Historical Journal
. It was printed, with a caustic rebuttal by McNaughton, beginning, “Young Mr. Babcock’s sources are, one and all, as impressionable and immature as Mr. Babcock himself,” and went on to argue that no current groups calling themselves Freemasons or Rosicrucians had any documented connection with any groups of the same names
in medieval times. The group with the single best-documented history, McNaughton said, was the Scottish Rite of Ancient and Accepted Freemasonry, which could not prove any existence prior to 1723. The viperish McNaughton added maliciously that Sir John’s belief in real occult secrets behind Freemasonry’s surface was “puerile, preposterous and pretentious.”

BOOK: Masks of the Illuminati
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