Mr. Rook's comments express concerns that I think are well placed. Our undertaking is far too important for it to depend upon us alone. To ensure that our knowledge survives us, he has suggested a few approaches, which I wish to take up in some detail.
My difficulties with this arrangement are primarily personal in nature. Essentially, I see this as the inauguration of a substitute Miss Hawksquill--something I for one am not prepared for. My reasons for being involved with this endeavor are substantially related to my personal relationship with Miss Hawksquill, and I should hope to wait at least until her condition resolves itself one way or the other before we begin thinking of replacing her. Besides, my trust in Hawksquill was not easily won, and insofar as I (unlike Mr. Rook) am no professional or military man, I find myself little able to transfer my confidence and loyalty to whomever might hold a particular place in a chain of command. My loyalties are personal rather than functional or pragmatic--my line of work has made be wary of substitute friends...
At the same time, Mr. Rook is absolutely right when he says we must safeguard our information. I suggest that perhaps the best way (I recall that Mr. Edwards made a suggestion somewhere along these lines) would be to entrust a carefully crypted and exquisitly detailed log to the archives of the Diogenes Club, with weekly updates made by way of Miss Hawksquill's butler. All we would need is someone trustworthy to hold the cypher, or perhaps to hold a part of it -- mayby Mr. Brown and the butler could be entrusted to hold halves (I for one do not yet trust Mr. Brown completely with this information--after all, Miss Hawksquill didn't, that's why he needs us). They seem to be the two people (other than ourselves) that Miss Hawksquill most trusted.
As for dealing with others, the issue is a matter of attempting to balance the need to preserve our knowledge and our enterprise, and the need to keep that information and our roles in the "game" secret. Perhaps the best way to deal with this would be (at least for the present, until a better option presents itself) to nominate people that each of us knows intimately and trusts with our lives--people who we trust to take this information seriously and act accordingly. They wouldn't have to know much at all at present (perhaps only that there is a group of conpiratous forces of the most dangerous and unbelievable sort arrayed against the Empire, and that in the event of our demise or disappearance, would be asked to serve in our places). We could simply arrange that in the event of our death(s), they could be contacted and brought up to date by means of the log (and should any of us still survive, personal conversation with the rest of the group). In this way, so long as our contact with them is as limited as possible otherwise, they should remain safely in reserve.
Also, although it will likely have little impact on our own safety (as Mr. Rook has said, Edwards, Woodhull and Stringham are no doubt already well known to all our major adversaries), by bringing a few of our associates further into the fold, so to speak, and giving them a bit more information with which to work, we could insert a few more levels into our relatively horizontal conspiracy, and greatly increase our ability to continue immediate operations in the event of a tragedy. That is, if some of our lamplighters or underworld types had a somewhat larger part of the big picture in front of them, they could act as our lieutenants, giving them the ability to deal more effectively with our normal operations (after all, we do have quite a few people being followed and investigated out there), but also being able to--if only temporarily--serve as our replacements, while more suitable replacements are brought up to speed. By having both lieutenants and "silent" replacements, we should be able to ensure the continuation of our enterprise.
Before signing off, I'd like to return to a matter close to my heart -- the issue of our founding an occult club (thank you for not groaning, Mr. Rook). Many of Mr. Rook's problems with the plan -- its feasibility and lack of immediate results -- are I think well placed. And after some thought, I wish to propose a modified plan -- a fairly informal salon dedicated to occult and spiritualist matters, perhaps with our new-found friend among the divinities of India as its center. I have some experience in cultivating such groups, and with the charming Miss Woodhull, I think it would be a fairly simply matter to cultivate in fairly short order (of course, not immediately--that's why we need lieutenants and replacements) an informal polited society and network of open-minded people that might serve as a pool for potential contacts. Through carefully placed conversation, we could plumb who might make a candidate for introduction into the Big Picture (with, of course, careful investigation of their past associations), or at least a candidate for introduction into as much of it that they might offer us some important service (after all, our gatherings would only cater to the proper--and therefore somewhat powerful--stations of society).
Please share with me your thoughts on the matter.
Your humble servant,
Adolphus C. Eck