We have been subjected to lockdowns over the past year, and many have cowered at home, binging on Netflix and crisps, barely getting out of their pyjamas.
But for me this has been an opportunity rather than a hindrance, as it has given me extra time to dedicate to projects.
Because in every crisis, there are opportunities.
Back in 2014 I published an edition of John Robison’s Proofs of a Conspiracy—a personal favourite from my previous imprint. The foreword I wrote for that edition runs into over 50 pages and the section about the author includes a wealth of obscure information found in sources now well over 200 years old.
Since then, I had desired to read the other book on the subject, Abbé Barruel’s Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire du Jacobinisme (Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism) also published in 1797, and written while the author, a Jesuit priest, was exiled in London.
If you’re already familiar with it, you won’t need me to tell you this is a far more extensive work, running into four volumes and about half a million words.
But I didn’t want to spend a fortune obtaining an antique too fragile to read. I’ve seen a first edition going for £1,800+.
Nor was I willing to pollute my library with a cheap and nasty paperback edition reliant on scans or error-laden OCR, much less one cramming everything into a single volume with microscopic print.
And reading it digitally was out of the question. I hate ebooks.
So, I did as I do in these cases and I prepared my own edition—four volumes, complete with good-sized font, ornamental drop caps, beautiful cover artwork, and decorative spines hand-drawn by myself.
Yet, this is not one of those £500 per-volume editions that are good only for decoration; instead, this is a solid reading copy that still looks great on the shelf.
The series is to be published on my new imprint, Spradabach Publishing—Spra-dah-BACH (like the composer; website to be launched soon) sometime in May or June (final date to be announced in due course).
I already have other titles lined up and in various stages of production, so if you like what I do, your continuing support would be appreciated.
Photographs of the proof copies are herein provided, so you know what to expect. The final versions will have only corrections and very minor improvements. For example, you'll see the imprint logo is missing on the spine of volume 1 below.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS EDITION
Barruel alleges the existence of a triple conspiracy (antichristian, antimonarchical, and antisocial), which coalesced in the late 18th-century to overthrow every Throne and every Altar around the world.
Using the conspirator’s own correspondence and secret documents, the author highlights:
that Voltaire and his fellow philosophes were hypocrites, motivated by fanatical hate, rather than love of humanity;
the radical ideology pervading French masonic lodges, the involvement of high-ranking figures, and their secret and seditious operations;
Adam Weishaupt’s Order of the Illuminati, its members, structure, ideology, recruitment methods, duplicity, whisper campaigns, and efforts to conquer Freemasonry for nefarious political ends;
the historical role of secret societies in the generation of Jacobinism and the detonation of the French Revolution.
The work was a sensation when first published and was quickly translated into English, running into several editions in rapid succession.
Along with Barruel’s previous work, History of the Clergy During the French Revolution (1793), it further bolstered British opposition to revolutionary principles.
It also earned accolades from Edmund Burke, whose Reflections on the Revolution in France (1791) had provided a critique of those principles and their catastrophic results.
Parts of it sound startlingly contemporary.
I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project. Barruel’s obvious indignation adds colour to the narrative, making it all the more entertaining. And though the entire edition is over 2,000 pages long, with the large font and wide margins one gets through them fast. I could read 100 pages without even noticing.
It does seem amazing, when you learn about the atrocious moral character of the people involved in driving the Revolution (corroborated even in hagiographical, mainstream sources), that they are held in any kind of esteem.
Barruel can be criticised on a number of points, and the links he establishes can at times seem rather tenuous, but conspiracy or no, when you look at the truth behind the myth, the 14 July being celebrated at all in France becomes one of the most bizarre public rituals of our time.
WHAT CONTEMPORARY REVIEWERS SAID
‘. . . the public are highly indebted to Mr Barruel, not only for opening to them many resources of important information, but for promoting a discussion which must end, in impressing Princes and nations with a due sense of that danger which nothing but the most constant vigilance, and the most vigorous co-operation of all good men, can possibly avert.’ (The Anti-Jacobin Review (Dec. 1799) 4:569.)
‘The whole [of Barruel’s work] is proof, sufficiently strong, that the same turbulent spirits, who brought about the French revolution, and were attached to doctrines of liberty and equality in their fullest latitude, had long corrupted the Free-Masonry into a powerful engine to promote and facilitate their secret machinations.’ (British Critic (Oct. 1797) 10:416).
‘never was there a more complete proof of art, than appears in the various steps and degrees of . . . Illuminism, which the Abbé Barruel has most distinctly detailed’ (British Critic (Mar. 1798) 11:291.)
‘Certain we are, that no book has appeared since the commencement of our labours, which was more necessary to read, and weighed attentively, by every person of any property, whether hereditary or commercial; every person holding any kind of rank in society; and every person who has within him a spark of zeal, wither for the honour of God, or the welfare of mankind.’ (British Critic, Mar. 1798, 11:293)
‘[we have] rarely seen a work more judiciously methodize