Conspiracies and Cabals in Victorian Britain

Everyone who knows anything about English cabals and secret societies knows the Order ceased to exist in October 1870.  But most think of the Order along the same lines as the Hellfire Club — old men groping saucy tarts in a gaslit, damask-upholstered setting, thick with cigar smoke.  Others envision a league of extraordinary gentlemen — and a lady or two — who sought to improve mankind’s lot by popularizing new inventions, like the auto-mobile, eliminating dependence on the horse, and the telephone, a means of speaking to anyone, anywhere.

But the truth is the Order was both of those things and much, much more.

The Order was, first and foremost, a group of about three hundred master telepaths and another two hundred lesser telepaths — class two or below, per the Order’s internal ranking.  It went as follows:

Class One:Telepaths capable of receiving thoughts.
Class Two:Telepaths capable of receiving and sending thoughts.
Class Three: Telepaths capable of receiving and sending thoughts, creating illusions in susceptible individuals, and throwing psi-bolts [jolts of pure mental energy].
Class Four: Telepaths capable of receiving/sending thoughts from great distances, creating detailed illusions, and throwing two or more psi-bolts at once.

The Order’s Council consisted entirely of Class Threes and Fours.  The Council first convened sometime around 1733, after the Order adopted its official new motto: Pleno iure – “With full right.”  Despite the dominant tenor of that motto, the Order had learned its lesson from the days of Malegant and Brigid. Psis — beings who manifested the Pinnacle talent, telepathy, or one of its subordinates, telekinesis, pyrokinesis, or healing — were wildly outnumbered by normal humans.  And one normal, unexceptional such person, Queen Elizabeth I, had joined forces with a rogue telepath, Brigid, to destroy Malegant and centuries of psi-rule.  The sorcerers of the Dark Ages had been unmasked as mere enhanced humans; the superstitious awe for each lich’s tower replaced with reverence toward St. Brigid, who had freed the Britons from their enslavement.  What followed was the Renaissance — a flowering of humanity.  Or, should we say, normal humanity.  The psis who survived St. Brigid’s purge took notice.


The Order was determined to never again  make the mistake of setting themselves up as rulers, and therefore targets.  If the official new motto was “With full right,” the unofficial motto was “Castellan, never king.”  You can even trace this in the surnames that emerged during the time, carrying through to the Victorian era.  The Order’s last Chairman was Nathan Castellan Chamberlain.  Both surnames suggest an adjunct to power rather than power itself.


But Nathan Chamberlain ultimately presided over the end of the Order.  Was he too weak?  Too accommodating?  Or did he overreach and meet his own St. Brigid?  


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