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Saint-Martin: The French Mystic: By A.E. Waite

During the second half of the eighteenth century it may be said without exaggeration that the intellectual, historical and political centre of all things was in the kingdom of France. The statement obtains not only because of the great upheaval of revolution which was to close the epoch, but because of the activities which prepared thereto. I know not what gulfs dispart us from the scheme and order of things signified by the name of Voltaire, by Diderot and the Encyclopædists at large, or what are the points of contact between the human understanding at this day and that which was conceived Condorcet in his memorable treatise. But about the import and consequence of their place and time I suppose that no one can question. The same land and the same period were the centre also of occult activities and occult interests, which I mention at once because they belong to my subject, at least on the external side, since it happens quite often that where occultism is about on the surface there is mysticism somewhere behind. We may remember in this connection that a Christian mystical influence had been carried over in France from the last years of the seventeenth century through certain decades which followed: it was that of Port Royal, Fénelon and Madame Guyon, owing something—almost unawares—to the Spanish school of Quietism, as this in its turn reflected, without being aware of the fact, from pre-Reformation sources.

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