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Schrepfer, Johann Georg

The keeper of a coffee-house in Leipsic, where, having obtained a quantity of Masonic, Rosierucian, and magical books, he opened, in 1768, what he called a Scottish Lodge, and pretended that he had been commissioned by Masonic superiors to destroy the system of Strict Observance, whose adherents he abused and openly insulted. He boasted that he alone possessed the great secret of Freemasonry, and that nearly all the German Freemasons were utterly ignorant of anything about it except its external forms. He declared that he was an Anointed Priest, having power over spirits, who were compelled to appear at his will and obey his commands, by which means he became acquainted not only with the past and the present, but even faith the future.

It was in thus pretending to evoke spirits that his freemasonry principally consisted. Many persons became his dupes; and although they soon discovered the imposture, shame at being themselves deceived prevented them from revealing the truth to others, and thus his initiations continued for a considerable period, and he was enabled to make some money, the only real object of his system. He has himself asserted, in a letter to a Prussian clergyman, that he was an emissary of the Jesuits; but of the truth of this we nave only his own unreliable testimony. He left Leipsic at one time and traveled abroad, leaving his Deputy to act for him during his absence. On his return he asserted that he was the natural son of one of the French princes, and assumed the title of Baron Von Steinbach.

But at length there was an end to his practices of jugglery. Seeing that he was beginning to be detected, fearing exposure, and embarrassed by debt, he invited some of his disciples to accompany him to a wood near Leipsic called the Rosenthal, where, on the morning of October 8, 1774, having retired to a little distance from the crowd, he blew out his brains with a pistol Clavel has thought it worth while to preserve the memory of this incident by inserting an engraving representing the scene in his Histoire Pittoresque de la Franc-Maonnerie (page 183). Schrepfer had much low cunning but was devoid of education. Lenning sums up his character in saying that he was one of the coarsest and most impudent swindlers who ever chose the Masorlic Brotherhood for his stage of action.

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