The life of Louis Claude de Saint-Martin - by Arthur Edward Waite - PDF ebook

The life of Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, the unknown philosopher

The life of Louis Claude de Saint-Martin
Louis Claude de Saint-Martin

And the substance of his transcendental doctrine

From the introduction

The name of Saint-Martin never appeared in his lifetime on the title page of any one of the numerous works with which that name is now connected. He wrote, in most instances, under the pseudonym of " The Unknown Philosopher," once as a " Lover of Secret Things," when the publication pretended to be posthumous, and once quite anonymously, if the attribution in the instance referred to must be regarded as correct.

 Furthermore, at the beginning of his literary career, he took other steps for the concealment of his identity; by example, two books that were issued in reality at Lyons bear the imprint of Edinburgh, and one of them has a publisher's advertisement describing the MS. as obtained from an unknown person and pretending to distinguish dual authorship therein. 

The grounds for this 1 In the case of Le Livre Rouge, concerning which the reader may consult the bibliography in the third section of the Appendix. I should add that Ecce Homo, Le Nouvel Homme, and some political pamphlets, do not bear the pseudonym on their titles, but as it transpires in the text that they are the work of the Unknown Philosopher, they belong to the pseudonymous series. secrecy, and the excuse for these evasions, so opposed to the modern spirit and too frequently connected in the past with the devices of quackery, must be sought, firstly, in the writer's affiliation with occult societies, which enjoined, and could perhaps enforce, reserve in their disciples; secondly, in the dangers of the time, for Saint-Martin lived at the period, and was a figure on the scene, of the French Revolution; thirdly, in social and family considerations, which would, perhaps, weigh more strongly than all with a member of the " privileged " and also proscribed classes at that period. 

It was, therefore, in the absence of any such extrinsic advantages as the name and position of their author that the books of Saint- Martin acquired such extensive appreciation, criticism, and opposition; that his first treatise, "Of 'Errors and of Truth," had forged sequels and false 'keys supplied to it, after the best manner of the school of Voltaire; or that his books, passing into Germany, were not only translated by admirers who knew nothing of the Unknown Philosopher, but were made the subject of elaborate commentaries, not without interest, and perhaps some value, even at the present day.

 It should be added that in his private life Saint-Martin did nothing to evade his literary connections, though he sometimes counselled caution to the admirers who approached him, and certainly for many years before he died there was no doubt as to the identity of the philosopher. The publication of his posthumous works in the year 1809, though it first avowed the authorship, did little more than register an open secret.

The precautions of Saint-Martin were unnecessary: in no recorded instance did he experience any inconvenience for philosophical opinions, though he suffered confiscation of property because of his social rank. Louis Claude de Saint-Martin was born at Amboise, in the province of Touraine, on January 18, 1743.

 He was the son of pious and noble parents, and though he lost his mother a few days after his birth, her place was filled by the second marriage of his father so completely and so tenderly that, as he tells us himself, filial respect and affection became for him a sacred sentiment.

He was brought up strictly in the faith of the Catholic Church, devotion to God and the love of men being impressed ineffaceably on his mind, over which his second mother seems to have exercised an especial influence. " I owe her," he says, "my entire felicity, since it was from her that I derived the first elements of that sweet, solicitous, and pious education by which I have led alike to the love of God and of men. I recall having experienced in her society a great interior detachment, alike instructive and healthful. My thought was set free in her presence, and it would have been thus always, had we been subject to no interference; but there were, unhappily, other witnesses from whom we were forced to hide, as though our intentions were evil.

Contents of the book

Preface.--The life of Saint-Martin.--Sources of Martinistic doctrine.--The nature and state of man.--The doctrine of the repairer.--The way of reintegration.--Minor doctrines of Saint-Martin.--The mystical philosophy of numbers.--Appendices: I. Prayers of Saint-Martin. II. Metrical exercises of Saint-Martin. III. Bibliography. IV. Martinism and the masonic rite of Swedenborg Notes

  • Author: Arthur Edward Waite
  •  Publication Date:1901
  • Company: London, John Lane, New York, John Lane Company

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