When the first edition was published, some of the societies had scarcely any history. Of the Nihilists, for instance, the account now given, recording their doings within the last eighteen years, fills many pages of this work. The story of other societies, active even then, such as the Fenians, had to be brought down to date, and yielded much new matter.
I have thought it desirable to give fuller particulars of certain societies than I had given in the first edition, such as the Jesuits, for instance – the new matter having either been kept back, or being the result of further research.
Accounts of societies not included in the first edition will be found here. I may instance “Crata Repoa,” “Rosheniah,” and “Skopzi.”
A few of the articles of the first edition have been reduced; such, for instance, as that on the Paris Commune, which has not now that immediate interest its then recent activity imparted to it.
Great changes have also been made in the arrangement of the matter.
Secret Societies may be arranged either chronologically, or locally, or topically. Each arrangement has its advantages and disadvantages; the former are obvious, the latter may be stated thus: –
By arranging societies according to chronology, those which are topically connected or identical will sometimes be placed at so great a distance as to impair the continuity of interest. By arranging them locally, the chronological connection must suffer; and by arranging them according to subjects or topics, the reader obtains no clear view of the sequence of events. I have therefore endeavoured to combine the three modes of representing the great drama of Secret Societies by making the topical arrangement its basis, and on that marshalling the societies first according to locality, and lastly according to time.