Palladian Masonry ⬩ Papal Bulls ⬩ Past Master ⬩ Patriarchal Grades ⬩ Antoine Joseph Pernety ⬩ Persian Rite ⬩ Philo-Musicae et Architecturae Societas ⬩ Philosophical Degrees ⬩ Albert Pike ⬩ Pillars of the Temple ⬩ Robert Plot ⬩ Political Aspects of Freemasonry ⬩ Pontifical Grades ⬩ Postulants and Preparation ⬩ Pre-Existence ⬩ William Preston ⬩ Samuel Prichard ⬩ Priestly Order, or White Mason ⬩ Priest of Eleusis ⬩ Priest of the Sun ⬩ Primordial Chapter of Arras ⬩ Prince in Babylon ⬩ Prince Mason ⬩ Prince of Libanus ⬩ Prince of Mercy ⬩ Prince of the Royal Secret ⬩ Prince of the Tabernacle ⬩ Privileges of Masonry ⬩ Provost and Judge ⬩ Psychical Research and the Mysteries
Prior to the year 1885, a certain Leo Taxil—otherwise Gabriel Jogand Pagès—was a writer of pornographic romances issued in serial form, an anti-cleric and a retailer of scandalous stories concerning ecclesiastics, especially in high places. He became a Mason, but was expelled from the Order. About the date mentioned, the house which published his lucubrations appears to have failed, and Leo Taxil pretended to awaken thereupon to the enormity of his literary life. He announced his conversion and, I think, attributed it to the intercession of Joan of Arc. He had a natural grudge against Masons and resolved that it should be turned to account, with which purpose in view he produced—in or about the year mentioned above—his first volume of fraudulent revelations under the title of Brethren of the Three Points. The soi-disant ex-atheist had never passed beyond the Grade of Apprentice and was practically in possession of nothing but public knowledge, plus the resources of a profligate imagination. There is no reason to suppose that this publication produced any impression, and the same remark applies to the Cultus of the Grand Architect, which appeared shortly after and was little more than an unauthorised Masonic Directory. It was said of Leo Taxil: il a fini de manger du curé; il mange aujourd’hui du franc-maçon; but it was imperative that he should provide more inviting fare for his readers, if he would continue to get bread for himself.
Adoptive Masonry.—In a fortunate moment it occurred to him that he might exploit the history of Adoptive Masonry so-called and electrify people—but especially wives of Freemasons—by revealing that there were Lodges for women in connection with ordinary Lodges and that the worst construction which could be placed on them would not exceed the truth. He distributed imaginary institutions with lavish hand over the whole country, invented names for each of them and pseudonyms for their most prominent members. The effrontery seems to have succeeded and there is no need to say that he continued. Les Soeurs Maçonnes appeared in 1886, containing bogus Rituals of Female Freemasonry and an account of historical degrees, mostly obscure, designed in the past as substitutes for Masonry thrown open to both sexes. This was reprinted in 1891 under the title Y a-t-il des Femmes dans La Franc-Maçonnerie.
Luciferian Spiritism.—Among several additional sections, it contained his invention in chief of Palladian Masonry, otherwise Luciferian Spiritism, the supernatural machinery of which may have been drawn from some backwater-society for the propagation of Sabbatic Orgies, of course unconnected with Freemasonry. The root of the pretended Rituals seems traceable, however, to a source more banal than abominable in a certain Ordre du Palladium with which I have dealt elsewhere. The pornographer’s province was to colour them, in which manner a new and mysterious Order issued ready-made from the brain of Leo Taxil and, for a period, filled Europe with its rumour. By the hypothesis of the inventor it was dedicated to the worship of Satan, according to an elaborate form, and to practices which will be understood readily in a connection of this kind. At the head of it was Albert Pike.
Worship of Lucifer.—The creation again must have served the only purpose of its author, and one of his next steps was to enter into collaboration—I infer—with another writer, yet more obscure than himself, for the production of a pamphlet in defence of his revelations, entitled Are there Lodges for Women? It contained a forged instruction of Albert Pike, advocating the worship of Lucifer as the true God, licence in sexual intercourse, and other enormities and follies. About the same time Leo Taxil became connected with Dr. Henri Bataille, alias Dr. Hacks, and a vast publication was projected in weekly numbers under the title of Le Diable au Dix-Neuvième Siècle, which had a wide sale and extended to nearly 250 issues. It affirmed (1) that behind universal Masonry, wheresoever spread over the four quarters, there was another and most secret Masonry, directing the whole institution; (2) that the Supreme Dogmatic Directory was at Charleston, having Pike at its head, with the title of Sovereign Pontiff of Universal Freemasonry; (3) that it was devoted to the cultus of Lucifer, who manifested in the course of the Masonic Rites; (4) that as it was anti-Christian in religion so it was revolutionary in politics; (5) that it dealt largely in occult or magical practices, which had amazing phenomena as their result; (6) that it initiated women on equal terms with men and in the same manner.
A Central Directory.—These heads of revelation may be supplemented from another source, being an Italian ex-Mason whom I shall have occasion to mention presently: (1) that the centralisation of High-Grade Masonry had occurred independently to the Italian patriot Mazzini, who collaborated with Pike, and out of this secret partnership there was begotten a Supreme Rite, the Act of Creation being signed by the American Grand Master and the Italian liberator on September 20, 1870, or on the very day when Italian troops entered the Eternal City; (2) that Mazzini assumed the executive, having Rome as its centre, under the title of Sovereign Chief of Political Action; (3) that other Central Grand Directories sprang up subsequently, in addition to Rome and Charleston, at Monte Video for South America, Naples for Europe—apparently outside Italy—Calcutta for the Eastern world and Port Louis in Mauritius for Africa; (4) that a Sovereign Universal Administrative Directory was fixed at Berlin subsequently to the death of Mazzini; (5) that the latter was succeeded by Adriano Lemmi; (6) that when the Pontiff of Luciferian Freemasonry—Albert Pike—himself died his charge devolved upon incompetent shoulders in the person of Albert George Mackey, but was transferred presently to Lemmi; (7) that no High-Grade or other Mason—even a Sovereign Grand Inspector-General—had the right of entrance as such into the occult order, and that those who were received therein became silent from the moment of their entrance.
Palladian Lodges.—With its elaborate accounts of Luciferian worship in Lodges of Palladian Freemasonry, its egregious tales of diabolical manifestations therein, and its general history of pseudo-supernaturalism in the nineteenth century, Le Diable au Dix-Neuvième Siècle is most entertaining and remains as a curiosity now when all interest in the conspiracy which manufactured it has passed away. However, it ran its course and was replaced by a monthly review, which also had a large circulation.
Diana Vaughan.—The plot was now at its height. Works on Female Freemasonry from other pens, the Confessions of Domenico Margiotta, a member—as he said—of the Palladium, supplemented the previous evidence; but directly or indirectly, they were all the creation of Leo Taxil. And so also was Diana Vaughan, the wealthy, beautiful and highly placed Palladian Grand Mistress, who was first heard of in the romance of Bataille and became from that moment the centre of growing interest, pièce de resistance of the plot and that which was destined to make its fortune for a period. On her and the claims concerning her it broke also in fine. Had it not been for Diana Vaughan I do not believe for a moment that the literature of Luciferian Freemasonry would have attracted one per cent of the attention which it obtained in Western Europe. Her creation was to this extent a work of genius—by which I mean the genius of imposture. The story goes that when the fabulous seat of the pontificate was transferred from Charleston to Rome there was a split in the school of the Palladists and Diana Vaughan carried her colours to a venture equipped by herself, which incorporated the anti-Lemmist groups, under the title of the Free and Regenerated Palladium—otherwise, a Luciferian Order of her own. With this purpose in view she reached Paris from New York and began the publication of a monthly review claiming to be founded in its interest. The three numbers which appeared were of course the work of the conspirators and an instance of their untiring activity.
A Palladian Conversion.—The ground was prepared in this manner for a great event to follow, being the conversion of the Palladian lady to the Christian and Catholic faith. This was announced by Leo Taxil in La Revue Mensuelle, another organ of the plot, and it is to speak with moderation when I say that all believing France was jubilant. It was also a day of triumph for the conspiracy. No serious voice had as yet been raised against it in the Catholic press; the pope had granted an audience to Leo Taxil; Cardinal Parocchi—Cardinal-Vicar of Rome—had felicitated him for exposing “the turpitude of the androgyne Lodges”; Mgr. Meurin had written a colossal impeachment of Freemasonry based on the documents of Adolphe Ricoux; the Bishop of Grenoble had furnished a flattering testimonial on the importance of the heinous revelations; the Revue Catholique of Coutances had identified itself blindly with the conspiracy; Margiotta had the papal benediction and a sheaf of episcopal plaudits. But that which remains of the story is its rapid descent of Avernus.
Dr. Bataille. As the great event of the conspiracy was the conversion of its heroine, so the magnum opus—its ridiculous inventions notwithstanding—was Le Diable au Dix-Neuvième Siècle, which claimed to be the memoirs of a Catholic spy who had investigated High-Grade Masonry in the chief countries of the world for the purpose of unveiling the iniquities practised therein. Now, the subsequent adventures of its author are scarcely less entertaining than his original confessions, for the account of them includes secession and division in the camp of the conspirators. It appears from the London press of the period that an English gentleman residing in Paris, and interested in the allegations against Masonry, took advantage of his presence on the spot to make some personal investigation in the form of a visit to Dr. Hacks, alias Dr. Bataille. He was received affably and discovered that his interlocutor had cut himself adrift from the conspiracy, had married and set up as a medical practitioner in a handsome suite of rooms. He explained frankly that when he was a bachelor, doing presswork on the Petit-Journal, he was invited to join a number of other journalists in the production of Le Diable au Dix-Neuvième Siècle and was glad to secure the unusual remuneration offered. His cooperation was limited, however, to a small part of the first volume. “When he found that it was going beyond an amusing caricature, was being taken seriously by some people, and was dealing with personal questions, he withdrew.” At the same time, actuated apparently by a feeling of professional loyalty, he would say nothing regarding his associates; but “it was evident that he looked with great gusto on the financial success of the publication and with enjoyment on the credulous folly of mankind.” He affirmed himself further to be and to have been always an absolute materialist and disbeliever in the supernatural. “His position in this respect is so firm that he announces that he has resigned his membership of the Société des Sciences Psychiques because that body admits the possible existence of the supernatural.”
Congress of Trent.—A damaging interview appearing in an English newspaper may not have reached the headquarters of the conspiracy and might not have been noticed if it had. However, a few weeks later the Anti-Masonic Congress of Trent made the question of Diana Vaughan of yet wider European interest and raised considerable curiosity as to the identity of Dr. Bataille. The Catholic newspaper L’Univers, edited by Eugène Tavernier, demanded information, and it was supplied by no one so promptly as the Doctor himself, who offered two statements calculated—in his opinion—to preclude the periodical in question from going further astray concerning Le Diable au Dix-Neuvième Siècle and Diana Vaughan—”burning questions,” he observed, “for some thousands of imbeciles.”
Bataille Railleries.—He affirmed firstly, as before, that he collaborated over part of the first volume only, and secondly that he was a complete stranger to the affair of Diana. Later on, in a letter to La Vérité he denied the authorship of articles which had appeared over his pseudonym in the columns of the Revue Mensuelle, while registering his utter indifference to any opinion which might or might not be held concerning him by Catholics. These admissions were followed by others, full of racy insolence, addressed to M. Tavernier and to La Libre Parole, in one of which he solicits an advertisement of an à la carte restaurant—which he had opened recently—as a compensation for an injurious criticism. The medical profession, he acknowledged, was not patronised sufficiently in his person, and he had to look elsewhere for his livelihood. Previous to his experience as a ship’s doctor he had been a clown.
An Abbé Stupefied.—But if Dr. Bataille regarded his readers in general as so many “imbeciles” who were fair sport for his impositions, he had no words to express his derision of that inner circle of believers who took the pains to address him personally. Among these was a certain abbé. When Dr. Bataille washed his hands publicly of the affair of Diana, the ecclesiastic wrote saying that he was stupefied and overwhelmed, upon which the gay physician enclosed the letter to Gaston Mèry, editor of La Libre Parole, saying: “Read it, linger over it: tell me, are there not some moments, and is not this one of them, when the literary jester experiences a sweet joy, a delicious hilarity, which more than compensates for his labours and solicitudes? What think you of your country after that? . . . And it is three years at least since I went out of the whole business, since I set foot in the shop of the publishers; and I have not even glanced at the second part of Le Diable au XIXe Siècle, while for me Diana Vaughan is only a vague name. Yet it is to me this man addresses himself, that he may cease from being stupefied.”
Memoirs of Diana.—It is needless to say that Hacks made a false statement as to the period when he severed his connection with the obscure publishing house of Delhomme et Briguet, for in October, 1894, he was running a Clinique Saint-Sulpice, apparently in a back parlour of their establishment, and it was advertised on the covers of the Mémoires d’une Ex-Palladiste—that is to say, of Diana Vaughan—which were appearing amidst great éclat. To complete the confessions of the Doctor it is only necessary to record that M. Villarmich, of the staff of La Libre Parole, interviewed him also a little later on. He was found in a comfortable apartment above his restaurant on the Boulevard Montmartre, where—by a pleasantry of its proprietor—the stained-glass windows exhibited heads of Lucifer. Affecting frankness and good nature, the Doctor explained that on the appearance of the Humanum Genus Encyclical he concluded that there was money to be made out of the “known credulity and unknown idiocy of the Catholics.” A Jules Verne was needed, and he became that Jules Verne. The result was Le Diable au XIXe Siècle. Enumerating the most absurd of his stories, he stated that they drew tears of laughter from his collaborators; but they thought that he was going too far and would spoil all. He assured them that the inventions would pass, and they did. “In a word, it was the most brazen defiance ever offered to human stupidity, and it was accepted.” He severed his connection because he grew sick of his collaborators: il n’y a pas des gens plus embêtants que ces gens là. In any case, he observed that he had “made his bit,” after which he transferred his versatile pen to L’Illustration, then had a turn at photography, and finally purchased the restaurant, which—at the time of the interview—was “going very well.”
An Honorary Catholic.—As to Diana Vaughan, that was purely Leo Taxil’s matter. “He told me invariably that he was her honorary agent”—much after the same manner that Hacks once signed himself “honorary Catholic.” The statements made at the interview would of course bear no examination. Had Hacks conceived the imposture and suggested it to Taxil, the latter could not have mystified him over the affair of Diana. Nor did the plot originate in the manner described. The Humanum Genus Encyclical was promulgated in 1886, while the idea of exploiting the Catholics did not take effect till 1892, so far as Hacks was concerned. In the meantime it had been put to various uses by Leo Taxil.
Bought by Freemasons.—The impression on a casual review would be that the conspiracy had received its death-blow by this volte-face of its presumable author-in-chief. But there was one way out of the difficulty. It was explained quite simply that Dr. Hacks had been bought by the Freemasons. Hereto that eminently saleable person replied: “If I confessed to my readers assembled that I had fooled them they would not credit me, and it may be presumed that they gave credit to Leo Taxil when he invented the above explanation.” It was accepted by the Bishop of Grenoble and by Canon Mustel, even when it was suggested by Hacks, with more than his usual effrontery, that the latter had a hand in the preparation of Le Diable au XIXe Siècle. The credulity of this editor of the Revue Catholique of Coutances seems to have been so abysmal that it is only possible to save his integrity at the expense of his intelligence, or vice versa, for the warmth of his defence had so much the accent of a partisan that the question of his sincerity must have appeared within the pale of discussion. But as there was really no doubt of his honesty, so also was there none of his folly.
Adriano Lemmi.—It is, however, an indifferent conspiracy which cannot survive one defection. Over that of Dr. Hacks there was mourning in a charitable spirit. It was deplored in a spirit of piety; he had yielded to the arts of the enemy; he must be prayed for; there were extenuating circumstances; he had been once a genuine Catholic; now he was probably mad. But Leo Taxil had yet to be confronted by another secession, not less squalid in its details and characterised by rancour and bitterness on both sides. It would appear that the patience of the gang was exhausted, and it felt that its time was short. The first public result of the Bataille embroglio appeared in England on June 27, 1896, and some days later the Revue Mensuelle was forced to take notice of certain startling acts on the part of a personage only second in importance to the reputed author of Le Diable au XIXe Siècle. I refer to Domenico Margiotta, that Italian ex-Mason whose “confessions” have been mentioned previously. The trouble had been brewing apparently for a considerable time. His first book was entitled Adriano Lemmi and was what is termed fortement documenté in the language of small publishing houses of Paris. It was an important source of authority and was appealed to freely as such.
A False Diana.—He wrote, however, a second book on Palladism regarded as the cultus of Satan-Lucifer, which is not documenté at all, and suggests that he was separated already from the source of all such adjuncts. It evoked no notice whatsoever in the Revue Mensuelle, but twelve months passed away before the reason of this silence transpired. The initial source of information is the tenth number of the Memoirs of an Ex-Palladist. It then appeared that Domenico Margiotta had been circulating a scandal which took shape in the following terms:
“The Diana Vaughan whom I knew in 1889, at Naples, has remained a Palladist. . . . The history of her conversion is a mystification to allure Catholics. The writer of the Memoirs, Eucharistic Novena, etc., is a false Diana. I defy her to come forward; those who make use of her name can only produce some adventuress whom I will convict of imposture forthwith. As to the true Diana Vaughan, the comedy now playing is for her a matter of indifference, and she is the first to laugh. She diabolises more than ever in the Triangles: she has made her peace with Lemmi.”
Diana Intervenes.—The sentiments of the mythical Diana on this outrage offered to her honour cover many pages of pious ejaculation and exclamatory wrath; but she permitted the Christian to triumph, merely exhibiting the motives which prompted Margiotta to adopt his unworthy course. Some time after the publication of Adriano Lemmi she had repaired to Naples. There had been an earthquake in Calabria: “I received a letter from M. Margiotta which recounted that a palace of his ancestors had collapsed at Palmi; he begged me to pay for its rebuilding, or favour him with the trifle of a hundred thousand francs. I made inquiries and learned that the palace was in reality a small house let to an apothecary and that it had not been damaged seriously. In a word, I found the request indiscreet and gave him to understand as much. Our relations ceased at this point.” A month later the Revue Mensuelle reproduced the justification of Diana with a commentary by Leo Taxil, explaining why the organ of the conspiracy had kept silent so long in all that regarded the Italian, and giving further details as to his conduct. This was republished in pamphlet form, with various additions. It appeared that Margiotta was now disposed to abandon his distinction between two Dianas, and suggested that his acquaintance with the mysterious lady was much closer than he had admitted. Indeed he was reported as saying: “What would you have? It is the fashion to make a virtue of it; but all the High-Grade Masons, myself included, know perfectly well that she is une hystérique insatiable.”
A Final Confession.—This is interesting in view of what followed. For two months the accuser remained silent and then made his final confession, addressing La France Libre of Lyons. He affirmed that, so far as he was concerned, the Vaughan revelations were wholly fraudulent. “Despite an apparent duality, Taxil and I were actually one person—speaking, thinking and writing by the mouth, mind and pen of the inventor of Diana Vaughan. A barbarous agreement bound me to this man and imposed an obligation to accept without discussion the materials, deeds and documents which entered into the body of the work”—presumably Adriano Lemmi. “It was under such conditions that I came to transcribe the phases of the pretended conversion of Diana Vaughan, to affirm that I had seen with my own eyes this beautiful soul now reconciled to God, when—as a fact—I had neither seen nor known her, except through the statements of Taxil.” So passed the second witness, with all his charters and Masonic diplomas.
Leo Taxil.—Words were inefficient to express the loathing conceived by Leo Taxil for his quondam associate. When Hacks determined, for his own reasons, to make a moderately clean breast of his share in the imposture, he gave those reasons and spared his comrades. But Margiotta shewed throughout in a much more pitiful light. His spite was against his associates; they were the impostors and he was the man of honour, he also the chief victim. Having the manner of a paid servant and admitting a deed of engagement, he had also the peculiar venom which often distinguishes the menial who has lost his place, or the minor accomplice who has not had an equal share of the booty. We have seen also that he needed no contract for lying, how he manufactured additional Dianas when he knew that the original lived only in the imagination of Taxil. It remains to say that in spite of this second secession and all its scandalous episodes Diana had still a public, and independent organs, and Canon Mustel, and the Bishop of Grenoble still pronouncing in her favour. If it were transparent increasingly that the days of the conspiracy were numbered, its death-blow had still to come.
Anti-Masonic Congress.—There is evidence to shew that it had hoped much from the Anti-Masonic Congress, called in those days and holden duly at Trent. The supreme ambition of Leo Taxil had been to stultify the whole Catholic Church and to obtain from that assembly a judgment in favour of his revelations. These had been planned thoughtfully to supply the one thing wanting to complete the case of the Church against Masonry. Rome would have given, so to speak, the third part of the triple crown of Peter to find Satanism flourishing in the Lodges. It would not have welcomed the conspiracy, as it did welcome undoubtedly and lavishly, had it not brought lavish good news.
Taxil at the Congress.—A bona fide manifestation of Lucifer at Freemasons Hall or Washington would have made the vast halls of the Vatican echo with pious jubilation, which would have proclaimed itself urbi et orbi. But the gray age of the Latin Church is not only within its own limits an astute and experienced age; it is one also of honour and sanctity. Every right-thinking mind in a land where there is now little real prejudice and practically no Protestantism is perfectly well aware that she does not stoop to partnership with liars and impostors. The Congress had heard much, and the Congress was therefore on its guard. Leo Taxil must have repaired to its deliberations with substantial assurance beforehand that his cause was lost; but there was a bare possibility that in the chapter of accidents a way might be found through the difficulties which now beset him.
The Congress and Diana.—It was obvious in any case that the literature of the so-called Palladium would not be passed over in silence. As Father Portalié observed, the proportions to which it had extended would have rendered such an omission both an error and a grave danger. It was possible, however, to set aside the acknowledged writings of Leo Taxil and also those of Margiotta, while the force of criticism was directed on the pretended Memoirs of an Ex-Palladist. After an animated debate, in which Leo Taxil took part and offered gross insults to those who demanded precise and verified data on the subject of Diana Vaughan, her birth, her conversion and her baptism, the question was referred to a commission at Rome, which eventually threw up the investigation without arriving at an absolute conclusion. The only judgment which it pronounced was that “the artifices employed by certain persons during the last few months would provoke an unfavourable view of the subjects under consideration. Decisive arguments were otherwise wanting to decide (a) as to the existence of Diana Vaughan; (b) as to her conversion; (c) as to the authenticity of her writings.”
Many Devices.—This declaration was pronounced on January 22, 1897. It had been foreseen by the conspiracy that a favourable decision was a forlorn hope, and it had taken refuge in affronting the Commission under every conceivable head. The partisans of the supposed Ex-Palladist had a simple task before them to establish the fact of her existence. They need only produce the certificate of her birth, the name of the priest who baptised her and of the bishop who authorised her First Communion. For obvious reasons they could do none of these things and issue after issue of the fraudulent Memoirs teemed with excuses and explanations as to why the first was impossible, while the others were inexpedient. It was affirmed that the laws of registration were exceedingly loose in America and loose above all in Kentucky. When it was pointed out that—by the depositions of her witnesses and by her own statements—she was born in Paris there was no answer forthcoming. It was affirmed otherwise that the name of the priest by whom she was reconciled to the Church and of the bishop referred to would involve, if published, the locality of that convent into which she proposed to retire when her mission of revelation was accomplished, and this would endanger her life. These subterfuges, which ought to have deceived no one, satisfied many, not only among lay believers but priests.
The Question of Diana.—It remains to this day incredible that any person, and above all any ecclesiastic, could have cherished expectations of a favourable issue to the question of Diana Vaughan, could be solicitous for the ultimate triumph and could state that they prayed for her intentions at the Altar of God, when offering the Sacrifice of the Mass, after reading the shameful pages in which this alias of Leo Taxil offered all injury, not merely to priests, like Father Grüber in Austria and Father Portalié in Paris, but to prelates who denied the patronage which she had appropriated mendaciously to herself.
Humanum Genus Encyclical.—As a defender of the Catholic Church against Secret Societies, Leo Taxil had now played his part, and the mummery drew to its end. He had exhibited a variety of lucrative and not imamusing uses to which a papal rescript can be put, which were undreamed of by the Sovereign Pontiff when he issued the Humanum Genus Encyclical. If additional odium would attach to him he had had his compensation beforehand in the subscriptions of believers, while it was otherwise of small consequence to the author of the Bible Amusante. It was at length announced that Miss Vaughan would come forward and confound her enemies. The date of her appearance was fixed, and an itinerary was published of her subsequent progress through France, Belgium, England, Scotland and Italy. The convocation took place in the saloon of the Paris Geographical Society, in the presence of some eager believers and a host of newspaper representatives.
Lucifer In the Lodges.—But the Conférence Diana Vaughan proved to be a Conférence Leo Taxil, with the result that there was no longer any question of “Lucifer in the Lodges” or of the ingenious lady who for some three or four years had fascinated, scandalised and perplexed the impressionable people of Paris. The various persons of the comedy took leave of their masks, and the master of the revels came before the curtain to declaim his epilogue and bow his thanks before a numerous and representative company. Leo Taxil avowed that the whole transaction had been an imposition from beginning to end, that he had never been a genuine convert to the Catholic Faith, and that his life had been devoted to the invention of literary rascalities and hoaxes. As to Diana Vaughan, she was a typist in his employment. His address was the culminating impudence and crowning cynicism of one of the best-planned mystifications of modern times. It is no wonder that it enraged a meeting which was perhaps divided equally between the delegates of his dupes and his exposers, and he seems to have quitted the building under protection of the police. He had attempted to pose as a species of divine comedian, creating an universal deception, and would have vanished amidst the plaudits of his own enthusiasm at least. He was, however, no splendid impostor but a mercenary adventurer, actuated by the basest motives and making use of the sorriest means. In the end he was driven to unmask, not as the master-stroke of a gorgeous imposture but as the last refuge and valedictory audacity of an exposed culprit.
The Church and the Conspiracy.—The literature—largely periodical—represented by this brief summary is of enormous dimensions. It is said that in France alone over four hundred newspapers pronounced against Diana Vaughan, while the books and pamphlets—now for the most part exceedingly rare—which have appeared in that country, in Germany and in Italy, would form a substantial contribution to Masonic bibliography. The position in which the final revelations left the Latin Church, and the lessons which it consented to draw therefrom are at once curious and characteristic. On the one hand, the most trenchant exposures of the Anti-Masonic conspiracy were the work of the Catholic press. The secular French journals for the most part questioned, wondered and jeered, or in a mood of ingenuity offered fabrications of their own to explain the fabrications of Leo Taxil. On the other hand, certain prominent ecclesiastics believed in the conspiracy to the last.
Catholic Criticism.—Long after the true position of affairs, as the result of Catholic criticism, was transparent, one would have thought, to every reasonable being. Mgr. Fava gave the weight of his episcopal position to an express statement that there was a Diana Vaughan, that she had made her First Communion, and that Findel and other Freemasons were seeking to mystify the Catholics. Notwithstanding the opprobrium heaped upon every member of the hierarchy who dared to discredit her revelations, an ecclesiastic in England continued to expect that she would justify herself, and was reported to have placed his presbytery at her disposal on the occasion of her promised visit to London. Points like these may be compared with the congratulations obtained from Cardinal Vicars, Papal Secretaries, and—it is said—even the Pope himself, at a period when the truth was not known. They may have been explained afterwards, and their formal character exhibited. Some who transmitted them may not have been backward to acknowledge that they had been entrapped; but their patronage had been quoted far and wide, and it performed its work.
Case against Freemasonry.—The result was mischievous to the Church, whose case against Freemasonry was, as it remains now, peculiarly difficult to sustain before the tribunal of universal opinion, and the worst thing which could befall it was a connection—however unintentional—with ridiculous accusations and proved imposture. In fine, therefore, one would think that the insensate credulity of certain Catholics had been taught a wholesome lesson, and that there was no need for Masons on their own part to enforce it further. But the lessons which the Church was prepared to learn were of another order. There had been an attempt to misdirect its zeal, and the faithful must be recalled therefore to the true field of battle. Neither peace nor armistice must be proclaimed: the polemics of the immediate past would serve to clear the issues. “Forget Diana Vaughan and return to the combat, guided not by the revelations of adventurers but by the encyclicals of the popes: such are the wise counsels of the Roman Commission.” And such was the exhortation of Father Portalié, who had done good work in exposing the plot. He added a special reference to the letters of Leo XIII, which denounce the anti-Christian and anti-religious plans of Masonry, all converging to establish a reign of naturalism upon the ruins of the Church.
A Pontifical Address.—The spirit of those documents found plenary expression in a pontifical address to the Bishops of Italy on December 8, 1892. “It is not enough to be on guard against the ambushes of the infamous sect; it is necessary to take the offensive, using the same arms, furnished by faith, which have already served conspicuously against paganism.” In the years which have elapsed the old polemics have continued in precisely the old manner. No charge has been too ridiculous, no argument too banal; but this part of the subject is dealt with in another article. It is abundantly evident that if the legislative centre of the Latin Church does not happen to have been deceived completely by an impudent imposture it has been deceived always by its own uncritical spirit.
It has been explained elsewhere in these volumes why, in the nature of things, it is impossible that the Latin Church should tolerate an institution like Masonry. That Church has not only an elaborate and systematic literature of theologia et philosophia moralis but a doctrinal ruling thereon, and, as I have said—by its own hypothesis—it is the sole and Divinely ordained custodian of faith and morals. Masonry sets out to be regarded as another and independent system of ethics, another guide of life. As such it is implicitly and explicitly under judgment from the beginning, a competitor and a rival, intolerable enough in partibus infidelium but ineffably more so in those Latin countries—Italy especially—considered as the utterly insecure yet still remaining appanage of the Crown of Peter. It is to be observed that this consideration is independent of the fact that Masonry is furthermore a Secret Society, which merely aggravates the position and constitutes a supplementary warrant for the condemnations launched against it. We find therefore that very early in its history the Order was tried, judged and condemned by Rome; and in the present section I propose to give the various events of the indictment, with the several sentences successively propounded and enacted by the supreme office of the Church.
Bull of Pope Clement XII.—Dated April 28, 1738. The grounds of condemnation in this the first instance are that in Masonic Lodges men of various religions and sects, under a pretence of natural virtue, are associated in an exclusive bond and sworn upon the Sacred Volume to conceal what they do secretly or incur heavy penalties. The faithful in Christ, laics and clerics, secular and regular are forbidden to enter such Lodges and Societies, or aid and foster them in any way whatsoever, under the penalty of excommunication, while Bishops, higher Prelates and deputed Inquisitors are directed to take action against transgressors, inflict condign punishment, exercise constraint upon them and invoke at need the aid of the secular arm. The technical title of this Bull is In Eminenti, being the words which follow the inscription.
Bull of Pope Benedict XIV.—Dated May 18, 1751. It recites, reproduces and confirms the previous document, giving reasons additional thereto, namely: (1) That the association in Masonic Lodges and Conventicles of men belonging to every religion and sect may inflict great injury on the purity of the Catholic Religion; (2) that things honourable delight in publicity, but crimes are secret; (3) that the oath exacted from Masons is designed to protect them against investigations of legitimate authority, with a view to ascertain whether anything is done in the Conventicles contrary to Religion and the State; (4) that organisations of this kind are known to be opposed to civil and canonical sanctions; (5) that in many quarters such Societies have been proscribed by secular princes; (6) that they are of ill repute among wise and virtuous men. The previous penalties are reimposed, the aid of all secular powers being invoked explicitly. The title of this Bull is Providas.
Bull of Pope Pius VII.—Dated September 13, 1821, and containing the following points: (1) That secret assemblies and clandestine sects have been formed to uproot the faithful from the teaching of the Church, in order to undermine and overthrow it; (2) that among these are the Freemasons, already condemned and prohibited, and the Society of Carbonari, which is either their offspring or imitation. It is more especially a Bull against the Carbonari. The penalty was excommunication, judgments previously threatened having become a dead letter in the effluxion of time. The title of this Bull is Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo.
Bull of Pope Leo XII.—Dated March 13, 1825. It recites all previous Bulls respecting clandestine sects of men malignant against Christ, especially Liberi Muratori, or Freemasons, and affirms: (1) That out of the old Masonic sects there have sprung up others far worse and more daring than those; (2) that the Catholic Religion and all supreme authority, civil or constitutional, have been attacked; (3) that the original institutions have been reinforced continually by new sects; (4) that new disturbances and seditions are contrived thereby; (5) that the most sacred dogmas and precepts of the Church are attacked insolently; and therefore (6) that all Secret Societies are prohibited for ever, those existing and those which may be hereafter devised; (7) that their oaths of secrecy are condemned utterly. The title of this Bull is Quo Graviora.
Other Condemnations.—It should be understood that in addition to these four main or foremost documents the Pontiffs have issued Allocutions and Encyclicals from time to time against the Order, as—for example—Pius VIII on May 21, 1829; Gregory XII on August 15, 1832; Pius IX on November 9, 1846, and September 25, 1856; and finally the famous Humanum Genus Encyclical promulated by Leo XIII on April 20, 1884. The last is, I think, the most finished and comprehensive of all and it represents a period when Roman hostility ab origine had produced its fruit in full, or Latin Freemasonry as it was and has remained since, a congeries of political and anti-clerical associations, either explicitly or virtually cut off by all Obediences in the English-speaking world. It follows that the Encyclical of Leo XIII is still substantially the case of the Church against Masonry, namely, that it is (1) anti-Christian, (2) anti-religious, (3) revolutionary in politics, and (4) a conspiracy to establish the “reign of naturalism on the ruins of the Church,” as a French Jesuit priest said of it long ago. I have referred to these charges in considering the Congress convened against Masonry at Trent. In whatsoever degree they and their casual substitutes may be held to obtain it is against Latin Freemasonry alone, that is to say, against dead branches, some of which have been lopped off, while the others are falling away through inherent rottenness.
In old Operative days he who had passed Fellow Craft, or had become a Craftsman, was Master of his work as such, but not Master of a Lodge. We have seen that in 1646 Elias Ashmole was made a Mason, there being no higher officer than a Warden present. In 1682 he mentions the Master of the Masons’ Company, who was, however, only a Fellow in the “Acception.” It seems certain that in the further past he who was at the head of the work—a monk often enough in monastic days—was the Lodge Master, the Magister Operis; but he had taken no Grade to attain it. We hear also of Magister Coementariorum as signifying Master of Masons, being him who presided at building operations. It is impossible to say when the Office of Master became general in Lodges, but the first traces are in Scotland, though there is nothing to shew that the position represented a step in Masonry or that there was anything approaching a ceremonial installation in the Chair. According to the second Book of Constitutions, when the Duke of Wharton “constituted” a new Lodge he placed the Mason chosen for the chief position in the Chair, with a certain form of words “that are proper and usual on that occasion, but not proper to be written.” This does not imply that there were official secrets of an Installed Master or that there was an inner working. But there were probably both in the making, and a ceremonial form of installation was adopted ultimately by Grand Lodge. There is also the Degree of Past Master which is still practised in what is called the American Rite, but it is not of American invention. It is held to have arisen because the Royal Arch was originally conferred in Craft Lodges on those only who had “passed the Chair.” But when the Royal Arch began to work in Chapters of its own the Degree was made available to Master Masons by passing the Chair pro forma, i.e. taking the Grade of Past Master. This practice was abolished in England in 1826, so that the Degree is now in the archives. It is not to be confused with our present ceremony of Installation, about which nothing can be said, except that it does not exist in America. According to Mackey, the installed Master receives the Degree of Past Master.
There are five patriarchal Grades collected into a sequence under the obedience of the Antient and Primitive Rite. The first and most important bears one of the usual vacant and pretentious names, being Patriarch of Truth. It may be compared with Grand Pontiff of Truth, figuring as No. 83 in the nomenclature of the Rite of Memphis. Though in connection with two ceremonials which follow immediately it is called a school of instruction, the Ritual compares favourably with the majority of the series at large and has a certain dramatic element. The Temple represents the interior of the Great Pyramid of Cheops. The Candidate is supposed to have spent many years of life as a pilgrim in search of that knowledge the possession of which is peace. While he is still hoodwinked and led from quarter to quarter, one of the Officers recites the salient features of antique initiation as he beholds them depicted in a “mystic mirror” before which he stands in contemplation. Though there is a great opportunity missed and the result is a vestige instead of a mighty pageant, a considerable impression would no doubt be made upon a Candidate, who hears but does not see. When he reaches the last stage of his journey, amidst versicles on the source of all glory, the Central sun, and the radiant manifestation of Shekinah, he is set to kneel at the East, the Obligation is administered in the darkness, and a loud voice says: Let there be light. The curtains of the East are undrawn, exhibiting a splendour of light therein, and the Postulant is unhooded at the same moment.
Egyptian Masonry.—He is raised and told that it is a reflection of the Glory of the Holy One. But that which remains is discourse, of which the chief points follow: (1) The spirit of the Mysteries is in the universal Law of Correspondence, which binds all things together; (2) the great triad is indestructible spirit, life and matter; (3) the land of Egypt was the birthplace of all that is sublime in Masonry; (4) it is there that the Rite was formed, in the valley of Memphis; (5) the most learned and powerful of the population were “members of the Mystic Tie”; (6) buildings of enormous magnitude were erected for the celebration of the Mysterious Masonic Rites; (7) the valiant, the learned, the powerful of all nations, sought admission within the sacred portals; and when the time came for the celebration of analogous Rites in Greece and Rome, they were but corruptions and perversions of “the moral teachings of Masonry.” So does the Patriarch of Truth encompass the term of his research and receive the lies thereof.
Patriarch of the Planispheres.—He becomes qualified in due course for the second Grade of scholastic instruction and for the rank of a Patriarch of the Planispheres, being No. 25 of the Antient and Primitive Rite, otherwise 37 of the original Rite of Memphis under the name of Doctor of Planispheres. It is unencumbered by procedure of any kind, beyond the Pledge and its connections. The rest is talk, in the course of which the Recipient is told: (1) That Masonic science is exoteric and esoteric, the first being taught and learned, while the second is given from above. Assuredly the maker of this Grade was writing for once only more wisely than he knew. The dictum of Casanova may be recalled and that which has been noted thereon in the present volumes. (2) That primitive religion was adoration of God in spirit and in truth. (3) That the evidences of Divine Being are in the work of His hands—which does not get further than Paley, and one prefers Paley. (4) That Egyptian and Hebrew Masonry were connected by close ties in the early ages, as shewn by the initiation of Moses. (5) That the Tabernacle built by Moses was emblematical of the three worlds—terrestrial, celestial and angelical. (6) That it followed herein the plan of Egyptian Temples—having Court, Holy Place and Holy of Holies. (7) That the first corresponded to the plane of earthly things and the four elements; the second represented the firmament; while the third was the dwelling of the Most High, Who communicated with man by the mediation of angels. There is in fine a Charge after Reception which deals with primitive astronomy in its relation to agriculture.
Patriarch of the Vedas.—In a rational succession the alleged relation between Masonry and Egyptian religion would be carried to its conclusion without going off at a tangent into questions of Vedantic faith. But the Twenty-sixth Grade of the Antient and Primitive Rite is that of Patriarch of the Vedas, and it intervenes to the confusion of the Candidate before a substituted Isis unveils in the next section. It may be compared with Prince Brahmin, which is No. 66 in the original Rite of Memphis, and Doctor of the Sacred Vedas, being No. 78. When an Expert introduces the Candidate he is told that he enters an Academy of Eastern Theologies, for the title notwithstanding, it is no less concerned with the Laws of Buddha and the Zend Avesta of Zoroaster than with Sacred Books of the Brahmins. In other words, “the religions of the world are studied, compared and analytically examined.” For the rest, there are “no mystic ceremonies, no fearful ordeals to encounter.” The origin of the Sacred Vedas and Brahminical doctrine are expounded by the Orator; the First Mystagogue summarises the teachings of Buddha; while a second of that denomination has charge of the tenets embodied in the Zend Avesta. Egypt is said to have derived its religious dogmas from the same primitive source as the Aryan peoples. The unity of all is in the idea of one Supreme Being common to every religion, not excepting those which are polytheistic and idolatrous on the surface.
Lesser and Greater Mysteries.—The school of instruction ends with this Grade, and the Lesser and Greater Mysteries of the Egyptian priests are subjects of consideration in the Ceremonies which next follow.
Patriarch of Isis.—The Twenty-seventh Degree of the Antient and Primitive Rite is called Patriarch of Isis and may be compared with Nos. 45 and 87 of the Rite of Memphis according to the revision of 1862, their respective titles being Sublime Sage of Isis and Pontiff of Isis. The Candidate “has journeyed the length of the Nile to study theosophy and demand the revelation of the Mysteries.” There follows, by the hypothesis of the Grade, a summary descriptive account of ceremonial procedure in the Temple of Memphis, with corresponding imitative action on the part of the Officers charged with the advancement of the Candidate. The reflection or reproduction is obviously at a far distance. (1) The Theban Aspirant was led through a masked door into the bowels of the earth, where a hollow voice addressed him from beneath. In the Patriarchal Temple the Candidate is led round and pauses before the First Mystagogue, who discourses of man as the glory, sport and enigma of the world. (2) He is again led round and halts before the Sublime Dai, who tells how a solid wall opened in the profound obscurity, giving free passage into a vast garden, full of fragrance and music. The Theban Aspirant arrived at a great lake, which he crossed, reaching a marble portico. He was led through various crypts to a Door of Death. He received a Golden Bough, a representation of which is given to the Patriarchal Candidate. (3) The Theban Aspirant was veiled with black and entered a Temple guarded by masked men, where he wrote his name in a Red Book laid upon an altar. The Candidate does likewise and is led to the Second Mystagogue, who tells him that the first days of the world were days of the Reign in God, wherein there was one faith and wherein also was one form of government, comprised by the love alike of Deity and man. (4) After the alleged manner of the Aspirant in the Theban Mysteries, the Candidate receives a globe “surrounded with a serpent and sustained by the displayed wings of two vultures.” He receives also a mystic staff for the same reason. (5) The Theban Aspirant was led from the Temple to a ravine amidst lightning and thunder; through a path in the mountains, where the wind raged, but the clouds parted continually, revealing the Elysian Fields. (6) A brazen door opened before him and closed as he entered, leaving his Guide without. (7) He advanced, following a light, along an ever narrowing path, till a single plank quivered beneath his feet; but he was seized by powerful arms and drawn into an asylum of the dead. (8) The Patriarchal Candidate is assumed to undergo the same trials. (9) The Theban Aspirant was counselled to learn how to die, and leaving the House of Death ascended a frail ladder, which brought him into a radiant Temple, filled with armed men, where the Grand Hierophant waited to receive him and bestow new life upon him. (10) The Patriarchal Candidate is told that such was the pomp of ancient initiation, and he retires with his Conductor.
A House of Types.—The philosopher Thales becomes his Guide and they enter a second apartment, described as the Temple of Symbols. They are elected to learn the language and hidden meanings of those which now encompass them, and here are the heads of the instruction. (1) The Compasses symbolise that power which sustains the weak and causes the wicked to tremble. (2) The Asymptote Line is a symbol of eternity. (3) The Level teaches equality and justice, based on a law of reciprocity. (4) The Square is justice par excellence. (5) The Rough Ashlar is an emblem of the primitive age of man. (6) The Seven Columns answer to the seven planets. (7) The Pillars at the entrance of the Temple represent God and Nature. (8) The Two Pillars in the midst of the Temple denote the two equinoxes. (9) The Sphynx typifies the Sages who watched over Egyptian science and philosophy. (10) The Griffin pushing a wheel is an emblem of the Sun, and the four radii of the wheel signify the four seasons. (11) The statue of Isis shews forth teeming Nature. (12) The Winged Bull is a symbol of air. (13) The Winged Egg or Kneph is the world, which renews itself incessantly. (14) The Phoenix is an emblem of immortality. (15) The Pelican symbolises the birth and death of Nature. (16) The Serpent—having its tail in its mouth—images the wicked man, a victim of his own crimes. (17) Osiris as the Sun and Typhon as Darkness shew forth the combat between good and evil. (18) The Sun is life and Deity, while the Moon is the Divine Regeneratrix. (19) The Golden Bough is the sign of Initiation. (20) The metals are emblems of vice. (21) Initiation itself is a symbol of the immortality of the soul.
Symbolic Medley.—We have been introduced already to an admixture of Masonic and Egyptian emblems, but in the instruction which next follows the confusion is worse confounded by a consideration of Jewish types in connection with those of Masonry, (1) The Altar of Shewbread is an emblem of union. (2) The Brazen Sea is supported by twelve bullocks, in allusion to the twelve months of the year. (3) The Pot of Manna represents spiritual science. (4) The Pot of Incense is a sign of those virtues which should warm the heart of the Mason. (5) The Olive-Branch is a gauge of peace. (6) The Mosaic Pavement symbolises the intimate union among initiates. (7) The Indented Tassel as a border indicates the secrecy which should encompass the Temple and its Mysteries. (8) The Apron is a symbol of labour.
Mythical Masonry.—Having presented to the Patriarch a conspectus of Egyptian Mystery-procedure, in comparison with which Moore’s Epicurean uplifts a light of scholarship, and having even introduced Zoroaster as a personality in a Temple at Memphis, the Ritual concludes with a Charge concerning the Keepers of the Secret Tradition. It postulates the birth of a great genius who has been named Manu, Ammon, Odin, Prometheus, but not apparently Thrice-Greatest Hermes. At his voice “the primitive arts arose out of chaos”; he announced a Supreme God. The descendants of this sage followed in his path and admitted only privileged men to share in their science. There was founded in this manner a Corporation of Sages dedicated to the civilisation of the world. From the banks of the Ganges to the plains of Persia and thence to Ethiopia they passed as far as Egypt and there instituted Mysteries, which were those of Masonic science. Menes, who united Upper and Lower Egypt, was the first King-Initiate in that region; but a long line followed, while other adepts rose up in the interior of Africa, in Persia and Medea. It came about in this manner that “our sublime institution extended from the plains of Memphis to the palace of the wise David.” It was comprised originally within three Degrees, but it is impossible in modern Lodges “to convey the whole doctrine of the sacred science within those limits to initiates,” and hence, I presume, the ninety-seven Degrees of the so-called Rite of Memphis.
Patriarch of Memphis.—The distinction between a Patriarch of Isis and of Memphis is apparently that between the Lesser and Greater Mysteries which were enacted in the world of the Delta. The Candidate testifies to the eternity of the universe, but above all of each human soul. His soul testifies to itself, in the words of “our ancient books”: I am, I am one being: I am one. He is pledged thereupon and clothed in kingly garments, taking the part of Osiris. He is placed in the East and encompassed by all present, who have been in mourning at his absence of three years, during which Isis, the beloved Queen, has held the reins of government. He has tidings of a visit from Typhon his brother, who humbly solicits an audience that he may pledge life and fidelity to his service. He is warned, but persists in seeing him and forgives all his offences. Typhon draws attention to an ark carried by his attendants for the acceptance of Osiris as a token of love. He is asked to view its contents, but it proves empty. He is then suddenly seized, hoodwinked and placed in the coffer. It is then raised by the attendants and taken out of the apartment—ex hypothesi—to the banks of the Nile. The Brethren retire to another apartment, in which sounds of lamentation arise for the murdered King, and a search for his body ensues. Its discovery is announced in due course; the ark is brought in and placed in a tomb, after which the Brethren retire to the previous temple. Typhon and his myrmidons enter that which has been vacated, drag out the Ark and affirm that they have divided the body. They retire to cast the various members into the Nile. The violation of the tomb of Osiris is discovered in due course, but a messenger announces that the sacred river has “refused to bear its precious burden to the sea,” that the mutilated body has been found and replaced in the ark. It is borne again to the tomb, and the Sublime Dai claims—in virtue of his office—the right to raise the Candidate. This is done accordingly, and the Official Secrets are communicated.
Osiris and Hiram.—A Charge follows, delineating the correspondences, between the myth of Osiris and that of the Master-Builder in the Third Degree. The tomb in both cases is said to symbolise life, death and immortality: it is also an emblem of the apparent course of the sun. But all this is ridiculous and exceeds moreover the measures of the Craft Legend. What the Charge is trying to say in its confused and illiterate manner is that the Egyptian and Hiramic legends are both particular settings of solar mythology—an explanation which stands at its value and is now old as the hills. It is recognised, however, that a “real and spiritual signification” lies behind the “physical aspect,” and that as the sun dies and rises so also does the soul. In attaining perfection it “becomes an Osiris, or incarnation of Deity.”
Serious Defects.—From the Ritual standpoint the Grade of Patriarch of Memphis is a failure for two reasons: (1) It conveys nothing to the Candidate, who from time immemorial has heard already in the Rite that the soul after death goes on, and there is only a single sentence at the end of the prolonged business to indicate that here is the meaning of all the cumbrous machinery, (2) it is not only colossal in procedure—apart from the resources of Drury Lane—but it confers an Office on the Candidate which it is obviously impossible that he should fill, apart from rehearsals, with the result that a “Grand Expert” performs the vital part of the work, while the so-called Osiris stands agaze in the East. The transition from Chamber to Chamber is arranged in complete ignorance of stage limitations. These things are remediable, but the essence of a Mystery must be intimated in the course of a Mystery, and it is made void otherwise.
Craft Secrets.—There is an attempt at the end of all to separate the “secrets” of a Master Mason under five heads or points: I am afraid that they are five points of a fellowship of confusion, or five shots that miss the mark. They are: (1) Exposition of natural religion—universal and immutable—by means of symbols and maxims; (2) Five elements of generation—being movement, fermentation, putrefaction, life, death—the operations of which are symbolised by the middle chamber, or womb wherein the mystery of reproduction is accomplished; (3) the perfection of the Temple—meaning the human heart; (4) victory of darkness and winter over the Sun, and thereafter of the Sun over darkness; (5) victory of errors and passions over truth and of truth over passions and errors, figured by the death and resurrection of the Master-Builder. But the Master-Builder does not rise in the Craft Degrees, nor in the Antient and Primitive Rite. Moreover, these points, which do not belong to one another and do not make a sequence, are matters of fact in the symbolism and are not therefore secrets. I admit that the Grade—like other Grades of the Rite—is continually trying to say something that signifies, to be delivered of the truth of which it believes that it is with child, but it brings forth follies and monstrosities.
Antoine Joseph Pernety
Memorable in several respects and of considerable repute at his period, Pernety was in his earlier life a monk of the Benedictine Order, and had therefore passed through the solemn Rite of Profession imposed thereby; but as the result of an application to the seat of authority at Rome he obtained release from his vows—so far at least as conventual seclusion was concerned. His days thereafter were dedicated to Masonic activities, to the study and practice of Alchemy, and—as it has been said—to ascetic exercises. He was an art critic, an extensive traveller, a writer on ethics, and though formerly a member of a strict monastic institution he could appreciate the genius of Swedenborg, and he translated a portion of his pyschic revelations from the unseen world. But he was before all things a patient and laborious commentator on the terminology of Hermetic Philosophy, and he interpreted with subtlety—if not in a convincing manner—the fables of classical mythology in the light of the Magnum Opus. He founded a Hermetic Society, which seems to have been distinct from and anterior to his alleged Masonic Rites. As regards these the usual confusions have been perpetuated from writer to writer, and it will be well to present here a short conspectus of the popular accounts. The Rite of the Illuminati of Avignon is said, as we have found, to have been instituted in 1760, and was known otherwise as Brethren of the Rite of Pernety. When the headquarters were removed to Montpellier it assumed the name of Academy of True Masons. Under this title it is affirmed to have been compiled from the systems of several occult and Masonic Fraternities, marrying the theosophical mysteries of Swedenborg to visions of the Apocalypse drawn from other sources and assimilating fantastical elements which existed in the Association of the Two Eagles, the Black Brothers and the Illuminati of the Zodiac. In the course of time it suffered other transformations, one of its divisions being termed the Chapter of Knights of the Golden Fleece—a reference which will be intelligible to those who are acquainted with the commentaries of Pernety on the significance of classical fables. It invoked the assistance of Flamel, Philalethes and other alchemical masters, to unveil the fundamental mysteries of Hermetic Tradition. The symbolism of its legends was purely alchemical, and included the Fountain of Trevisan, the tail of the philosophical peacock—cauda magna pavonis—the mysteries of pontic water, and other cryptic formulae. Its subsequent developments and variations were concerned with similar departments of occult practice. These accounts, which I have called popular, may be compared with what I have said previously respecting these French Illuminés. It is difficult to adjust the discrepancies, but they may be reduced by supposing that Pernety and Grabbianka combined to found the Rite, which was loosely Masonic at Avignon, and was developed further along Masonic lines at Montpellier.
Authentic particulars—if any—of this obscure system are wanting, or at least I have failed to find them, and I can do little more than reflect my precursors on the subject. It is said to have been established at Erzeroum in 1818, but this of course is the Legend of the Rite, and is the usual lying pretence which provides it with a history of kinds. It appeared at Paris—so to speak, without father or mother—in 1819, and comprised Seven Degrees divided into Three Classes, the titles of all being a speaking commentary on their supposed Eastern origin. Class I was symbolical, and included: (1) Listening Apprentice; (2) Fellow Craft Adept—a very sudden leap towards perfection; (3) Master—who in virtue of that attainment was also Knight of the Sun. Class II was Capitular, and contained: (4) Architect of all Rites—being one whose skill in spiritual building constituted him Knight of the Philosophy of the Heart; (5) Knight of Eclecticism and Truth. Class III was termed Areopagite, though the particular word seems unsuited to describe a class. It was divided into (6) Master Good Shepherd and (7) Venerable Grand Elect. It is said to have become extinct long ago, but there is nothing to shew that it was alive, even in 1819.
Philo-Musicae et Architecturae Societas
Additional MS. 23, 202, in the British Museum contains the Fundamental Constitution and Orders of a Musical Society founded in 1725 under this name by members of a Lodge at the Queen’s Head, Hollis Street. It lasted for about two years, during which period any candidate for membership who was not already a Mason was “made one as a preliminary to his formal reception.” Eighteen persons were initiated in this irregular manner during the brief life of the Society. It was called to account by Grand Lodge but ignored the summons. On the evidence of the records it was to all intents and purposes an unauthorised working Lodge, ruled by a Master and Wardens, electing Officers on St. John the Baptist’s Day and not only making Masons but passing them Fellow Crafts at least. The meetings were held at the Queen’s Head, and it even seems possible that the regular Lodge which frequented this tavern was merged in the Society, as it had ceased to exist otherwise before 1727. I am concerned, however, only with the kind of Masonic activities, not with any matter of legal or illegal procedure. The Society began by making a Mason on February 18, 1725. On May 12 the entries shew that one member was passed Fellow Craft, another Fellow Craft and Master, while two “were regularly passed Masters.” The question is what we are to understand by these distinctions of wording. The Fundamental Constitution was edited by Mr. W. H. Rylands in 1901, with an important introduction, and this publication was reviewed at length by Mr. R. F. Gould in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, Vol. XV, pp. 112 et seq. The latter adhered to the view which he had adopted some considerable time previously as an outcome of long research, namely, that Fellow Craft and Master were interchangeable terms for one and the same Degree, that they are so used in Anderson’s first Book of Constitutions and that the records of the Musical Society may be constructed in this sense. On the evidence of the Fundamental Constitution Mr. Rylands regarded it as certain that in 1725 there were “three steps” in Masonry. This is how the matter stands in the view of two unquestionable experts. I am personally in agreement with Gould, but as I am fairly confident that at the date mentioned there was a Third Degree in the making, I shall rest content with the mere statement. Were it otherwise the records of the Musical Society would call for an examination extending over many pages, especially in view of Gould’s strong suspicion that certain entries were “cooked,” to meet the charge of irregular makings and advancements. The vital question is not whether there is evidence of a Third Degree in 1725, 1727 or only post 1730, but whether there is anything to shew that it existed in 1717. It would then have antedated Grand Lodge. There is, however, as we know, nothing.
The title is arbitrary in itself, and if it were taken in the broadest sense might include all Rites of Freemasonry, from the Craft upward. It is used of course in a much narrower sense, and has come in the effluxion of time to signify various High Grades from which the original Christian elements have been expunged, so that the gates of their temples might be opened to Jews and Deists. When the Order of Rose Croix has been bowdlerised after this manner it is said to be a Philosophical Grade in the bad sense of the word; by means of various substitutions it has been accommodated to requirements which connect with the names of Voltaire, Diderot and the Encyclopaedists. The Grade of Kadosh has been philosophised under different obediences, but chiefly for the elimination of the original Templar elements and especially the vengeance motive connected with the death of Jacques de Molay. Among typically philosophical Degrees, Dr. Oliver enumerated (1) Knight of the Black Eagle, (2) Knight of the Phoenix, (3) Knight of the Sun, (4) Knight of the Rainbow, (5) True Mason, (6) Knight of the Argonauts, (7) Knight of the Golden Fleece, (8) Grand Inspector of Perfect Initiations, (9) Grand Inspector of Scottish Degrees, (10) Sublime Master of the Luminous Ring. These are fathered upon L. C. de Saint-Martin and are brought into his mythical Reformed Rite, but whether by adaptation or invention does not appear in Oliver’s rather confusing account. We have seen elsewhere that they belong to several spheres and are for the most part Hermetic in character, as their titles signify clearly to those acquainted with the literature and symbolism of alchemy.
The Grand Commander of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, in its Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A., has been characterised as “a master-genius of Masonry,” and such undoubtedly was he who desired that his only monument should be in the hearts and memories of his Brethren. He raised the Scottish Rite from a comparatively obscure position, encompassed by many competitors, to its present unrivalled state as a High-Grade system of Masonry. Dr. Fort Newton has said in his picturesque manner that Pike found Masonry in a log-cabin and left it in a temple. Whether this is true of the great Brotherhood at large is of course no open question, for the Craft or Symbolical Degrees developed along other lines and under other auspices; but it is true—as I have indicated—in respect of the Scottish Rite. Pike rewrote its Rituals and managed its affairs for a long period with conspicuous success, and with the results stated. I believe that he has attained long since that incorruptible monument which he sought, and that his name will be ever green and of precious memory in all American Masonry.
Masonic Scholarship.—Having said this, as the honour of the case requires, it calls to be added that as a critical scholar of Masonry, a historian and a writer on the ethical and philosophical side of the subject he is not to be taken as a guide. No man had a greater opportunity and no one a freer hand when he undertook to revise the Rituals of the Scottish Rite, and he scored only failure. It would be hard and unnecessary to say that he never improved the originals: the case against him is that he reconstructed and did not change. The Rite of Perfection could have been made a perfect Rite, and Écossais Masonry might have issued from the alembic as a Masonry of the living God; but he lacked the spirit and the fire, the informing fire and the shaping spirit: the result is therefore that he has bequeathed us Pike’s revision. There is also his Morals and Dogma, an undigested compilation from a great number of sources, in which of his own will and intent he has made it impossible to distinguish between that which is his therein and that which has been “lifted” from the work of others by literal translation and so forth. It comes about in this manner—to cite but one instance—that the brilliant, if shallow, philosophia occulta of Éliphas Lévi is foisted on the unwary reader as if it were his own, and it occupies scores of pages, scattered there and here. Did he justify himself, I wonder, in his own opinion, when he said in his preface that he gathered from many sources? It may be so, but the verdict of posterity is against him.
Biographical Note.—Albert Pike was born at Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., on December 29, 1809. He spent part of his youth in Mexico, and then settled in Arkansas, following the law and journalism. He was on the Southern side in the War of Rebellion. The Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A., elected him Grand Commander in 1859, and it was then that the great administrative work of his life began. He died on April 2, 1891.
Pillars of the Temple
Let the student recall in the first place his experience with two figurative Pillars in the Craft Grades of Masonry, how the significance of one is explained to him at the beginning of his life of brotherhood, and that of the second at the next stage of his progress. The importance attributed to both is of that kind precisely which would lead him to expect that he might hear further and more definitely concerning them in some later grade of his advancement. Such, however, is not the case: they pass out of sight completely and he is left at a loose end, wondering perhaps why they have been introduced to his notice in this very express manner, or—with a better gift of reflection—concluding tentatively that he may be said to stand between them as on the threshold of the Master Grade and to issue between them into that Temple built of old, about which he hears in the central legend of the Craft. He has otherwise finished with them for ever, not only within the measures of the Craft but in the several sequences of High Grades which are in general knowledge and activity among us. We meet with this kind of inconsequence in all the Ritual Departments. A curtain is drawn for a moment upon a prospect which looks practicable, but it falls again suddenly, and the Candidate does not enter therein. It is as if something were proposed in the mind of makers of Ritual from which they were diverted afterwards, leaving their design unfinished.
Hiram, the Widow’s Son.—Now, the source of the symbolism is 1 Kings vii. 13-22, the artificer concerned being Hiram, described as “a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali,” whom Solomon sent and fetched out of Tyre. “He cast two Pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits high apiece. . . . And he made two chapiters of molten brass, to set upon the tops of the Pillars: the height of the one chapiter was five cubits, and the height of the other chapiter was five cubits. And nets of checker work and wreaths of chain work, for the chapiters. . . . And two rows ... to cover the chapiters . . . with pomegranates. . . . And the chapiters . . . were of lily work. . .. And he set up the Pillars in the Porch of the Temple: and he set up the right Pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left Pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz. ... So was the work of the Pillars finished.” See also 2 Chronicles iii. 15-17.
Jachin and Boaz.—On this text the Kabalistic treatise, entitled Gates of Light, comments as follows: “He who knows the mysteries of the two Pillars, which are Jachin and Boaz, shall understand after what manner the Neshamoth, or Minds, descend with the Ruachoth, or Spirits, and the Nephasoth, or Souls, through El-chai and Adonai by the influx of the said two Pillars.” It is an allegory of the descent of spiritual man from the Supernal World into Malkuth, the kingdom of this world, which apart from human intelligence is said to be void—“even as the poor man who possesses nothing.” It is said, also, that as a result of this descent there shall be built the city of Zion, which is Jerusalem—that is to say, a spiritual city, a house not made with hands, such as Masons are held to build in their hearts. In the Kabalistic Tree of Life Chokmah and Binah are the entablatures of the two Pillars, Chesed and Geburah are the chapiters, while the bodies of the Pillars represent Netzach and Hod. “By these two Pillars and by El-chai the Minds and Spirits and Souls descend, as by their passages orchannels.”
Parts of the Soul.—It should be understood that Neshama=Mind is the superior grade of the soul in man; Ruach=Spirit is the rational faculty; and Nephesh=Soul is anima vivens et viialis, i.e., sensitive life. The reference is not therefore to three classes of spiritual being, but to three aspects of individual human life. El-chai signifies Living God, and is that title of Divinity which is connected with Yesod. The meaning of the word Jachin is indicated in the commentary to represent that power which establishes or imprints form upon the formless, and is understood especially of the formation of man and his members, whence it is said, in Deuteronomy xxxii. 6: “Hath He not made thee and formed thee?” The significance of Boaz is to be sought in Psalm lxviii. 35: “He that giveth strength and power,” because Boaz receives its strength from Geburah and its vigour from Binah. As regards the two Pillars taken conjointly, they are connected with the Song of Solomon v. 15: “His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold.” It is affirmed finally that “whosoever advances in the study of the Written and Oral Laws . . . unites the Blessed Name and the mystery of Jachin and Boaz.”
The Secret of Israel.—The mind of Israel has been always the mind of the Mysteries, and the secret of Israel is also a secret of initiation. It is for this reason—as I think—that Jewry produced Christianity, even as the city of this world is the material of the Mystic City. If we take in succession the symbolical stages through which a Masonic Candidate advances in the course of his progress through the authentic Rites and Grades, we shall find that further light concerning them is derivable from Kabalistic literature, and especially from that vast work which I have named under the title of Zohar, together with its supplements and dependencies. The Kabalistic system of theosophy proposes Four Worlds, those of Pure Deity, of Creation, Formation and of things material and infra-material—understood as the World of Action and its recrementa. Each of these worlds is comprised in the conventional scheme which is called the Tree of Life, though it includes three Pillars, which are actually those of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, though they are usually misplaced in Masonry. That on the right—as an observer faces the Tree—is termed the Pillar of Mercy; on the left is the Pillar of Severity, and in the middle that of Benignity. Above is the World of Deity. Through these Pillars, as by paths leading to an Eternal Sanctuary, the soul is supposed to pass till it reaches the Divine End. But that which returns to the Divine is that also which came forth therefrom—as the conception of emanation assumes—and this theosophy suggests that the divine and intellectual principles which constitute the complete man descended or were evolved through the Pillar of Mercy, to be manifested at the end of the emanation in that which is termed the Kingdom, being this present external world. Through the Pillar of Severity the written and oral law—or the Jewish Scriptures and their secret explanation—are supposed to have descended in their turn and to have been manifested ultimately on this earth. The redemption of humanity takes place through the Pillar of Benignity, signifying that the soul enters into salvation by going back on the paths which it has travelled. This scheme recalls the great parable of Pausanias concerning the Grades of Venus. The Tree of Life signifies the mystery of man’s origin and his return whence he came.
A Way of Going Back.—The true method of that return is and can be the only field of research which is covered by the real Mysteries. It is the chief subject of Kabalism, and some reflections therefrom are found in Masonic Ritual. I do not suggest that Masonry is a qualified Kabalism; crudities of this kind are offences of a bygone day; but it is substantially certain that the anonymous craftsmen who elaborated the Craft Degrees had some vestiges of knowledge concerning the theosophy evolved in Jewry outside the Law and the Prophets.
It is on record that one of Elias Ashmole’s dreams was to produce a work on the Antiquities of Freemasonry, and it has been thought that had he carried forward the enterprise it might have proved in its completion a work as important after its own manner as was that which he wrote upon the Noble Order of the Garter. The plan came to nothing, and there remained after him Dr. Robert Plot, whom he appointed Keeper of his own Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, in succession to himself. Born in 1651, and dying in the prime of life—1696—Plot was an antiquary of his day, a professor of chemistry who had not improbably inherited from Ashmole some of the alchemical reveries which characterised the editor of <span class=”smallcaps">Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum. Otherwise he might not have become the Ashmolean legatee. We are concerned, however, with certain topographical works, and one above all—<span class=”smallcaps">The Natural History of Staffordshire—which contains a remarkable account of Freemasonry. It has been cited times out of number, in extenso and otherwise. I conceive that Plot’s views upon the subject differed from those of his patron, for otherwise it is unlikely that Ashmole would either have become a Mason or planned a memorial of Masonry.
Masonic Account.—The personal views which constitute what is termed Plot’s attack on Freemasonry are of no consequence and need not be cited here; but he incorporates certain points of fact and custom which although drawn at second hand are indicative of the state of Freemasonry forty years after the initiation of his patron, Ashmole. They may be classified under the following heads: (1) The history and rules of the Craft are contained in a large parchment volume. (2) It shews that Masonry was brought into England by St. Amphibal, by whom it was communicated to St. Alban (3) St. Alban set down the Charges, as instructed by his teacher. (4) They were confirmed by King Athelstan. (5) Edwin, son of Athelstan, loved the Craft and obtained from his father a free Charter for the Masons. (6) He caused them to assemble at York, where he ordained that they should keep the Charges and manners. (7) Thus was the Craft of Masonry grounded in England. (8) They were approved by King Henry VI, both as to Masters and Fellows. (9) The custom of “admitting men” into the Society was “spread more or less over all the nation” in the days of Plot but in Staffordshire was “of greater request than anywhere else.” (10) Persons of the most eminent quality did not disdain to be of the Fellowship, (11) At least five or six “ancients” of the Order are required to constitute a meeting for admitting members. (12) The Candidates present gloves to them and their wives. (13) They also provide a collation, after which the admissions take place. (14) It consists chiefly in the communication of certain signs, by which Masons know one another and on the exhibition of which they are bound to give one another whatever help is needed. There has been much speculation as to the MS. from which Plot derived his traditional history, but it remains an open question. As the points are common to several Charges or Constitutions, it is obvious that he may have drawn from several. It seems uncritical to lay too much stress on the reference to a parchment volume, as if all Lodges had one and the same document. We know otherwise and Plot as an antiquary probably knew too.
Political Aspects of Freemasonry
It may seem extravagant to say that among those associations which are called secret, that must be most secret of all which (a) exists in the open day; (b) has always proclaimed its purport; (c) gives everywhere proof palpable that its ostensible objects are those with which it is concerned essentially and only; (d) prints its proceedings continually, within the limits of the business side of its activity; (e) tolerates the printing of its Rites and Ceremonies, up to a certain point; and yet is other than it appears on the surface: (1) in the opinion of its hostile critics, and (2) also—but for far different reasons—in that of a select few who are in it, are of it, and believe that they have penetrated to its inmost essence. It may seem extravagant but is not easy to contravene when the subject happens to be Freemasonry. The critical opinion which I have mentioned would consent of course out of hand, and would indeed affirm, that the witness of Masonic history is definite as to its real apart from its assumed character, although it is concealed so deeply that nothing is suspected by the majority of its own members. The select few would consent, and these also might add—but in a contrary sense entirely—that the witness of Symbolism and Ritual is definite as to the true objects of the Institution, though those who work and those even who expound both may and do know nothing—for the most part.
Ethics of Masonry.—As regards this latter view, there is a concern on the surface of Masonry which is realistic after its own manner, and is represented by the ethical side—the side of brotherly love and general beneficence, with all that is implied therein. But there is a witness beneath the surface to another kind of concern, by virtue of which it is linked up with the Instituted Mysteries and Secret Doctrine of the past—of Egypt, Greece and Rome, as well as of several centuries of hidden medieval life. It carries on by its Ritual procedure—reduced though it be to a vestige—the same memorials of experience in Spiritual Birth, Inward Life, Mystic Death and Resurrection in the Spirit. It is this deeper testimony, by means of symbolism, to exotic states attainable in consciousness that is not realised by the great body of those who belong to the Orders, but who are yet—or may be—excellent and earnest Masons after their own manner. These intimations of experience are disguised in the vestures of an art of Emblematic Building, by which Masonry is connected with another form of Secret Doctrine, being that of Kabalism, as we have seen.
The French Revolution.—If this be so, it follows that in root-purpose, as in Ritual development, Freemasonry neither has nor can have any political aspect. In England—-where it originated—and in English-speaking countries no one supposes that it has; but when it entered the Continent, France was already with child, and the child which had to be born was the French Revolution. I do not believe that anything contributed less to that birth than Masonry per se; I know that all the evidence to the contrary is the work of false or imbecile witnesses; but it was a Secret Society, maintaining the natural equality and brotherhood of all mankind: as such it lay under suspicion; and it tended to draw those who held kindred views independently and aspired to put them into practice with far other objects. I do not doubt that some of the Lodges were made use of for these ends; but the onus of proof is on those who say that it was more than casually and by reason of bare opportunity, not of organised intent. So far with regard to the French Revolution. As regards later periods and the present day—understood as prior to the War—it is difficult to challenge the statement that Latin Freemasonry is now a free-thinking institution in respect of all sanctions of religion, and has long been decidedly political in complexion, though in France at least there is nothing to shew that it is unconstitutional in procedure. In Belgium it would seem that it is avoided by people of moderate but secured positions owing to the political elements, and that this caution characterises several who seem to have no concern in any form of religious faith. A loss of social caste and repute tended to follow in France the event of being made a Mason under the obedience of the <span class=”smallcaps">Grand Orient. Indeed, the only possible Masonic jurisdiction was that of the <span class=”smallcaps">Supreme Council: connection with this did not constitute a grave social stigma. It will be seen that in admitting this I am actuated by no undue anxiety to save Continental Freemasonry; I have taken another ground in respect of the Revolution period purely as one who has sifted a claim belonging to history and has found the evidence wanting.
The Holy Roman Church.—Both as to past and present, at the head of the hostile criticism and condemnation there stands—for what it is worth—the Holy Roman Church: yesterday, to-day and for ever it neither changes nor falters. From the moment that it began—within its own limits and after its own manner—to understand the Masonic Institution, the voice of condemnation sounded. It has been always the same sentence, though the counts of the indictment have not been the same precisely. The variations, such as they are, may be found in Papal Bulls and Encyclicals—with which I have dealt elsewhere. Very few serious persons trouble about Rome at this day in respect of Freemasonry, and yet its view counts. We know exactly how the hostility arose and how the Church has helped in Continental countries to create the situation of which it is its province to complain. It may be supposed, however, that there are various sides to the question, and I must not say that the briefs for the general defence are mrch better than those of the accusers, unless it be in respect of good faith. It is not difficult to dispose of Robison in England, of Barruel and Deschamps in France, of Eckert in Germany and his French translator, Abbé Gyr. Whether easy or otherwise, the task is not sufficient; but the stage of simple generalities has never been passed, with the result that neither Masonic erudition nor keenness have appeared to special advantage. Supposing it to have obtained a verdict, this would have been secured rather on the bad faith of the witnesses than on the merits of its own pleadings. Here is one side, but from another there is no verdict to give, while for a third view it has of course been given long ago. There is none, because public opinion does not consider that any question is at issue seriously; but alternatively it has been given because Rome has pronounced, and for those who look to Rome the only course is concurrence.
The five Pontifical Grades of the Rite of Memphis are named and numbered as they follow, according to the original classification of 1839: (1) Grand Pontiff of Isis, No. 44; (2) Pontiff of Cadmea, No. 62; (3) Pontiff of Ogygia, No. 68; (4) Pontiff of Mithras, No. 74; (5) Grand Pontiff of Truth, No. 83. In the revision of 1856 Pontiff of Serapis appears as No. 86 and No. 89 is Pontiff of the Mystic City. Pontificates and Patriarchates seem to be interchangeable dignities in the mind of the Antient and Primitive Rite, and some of the numbers mentioned have been analysed in the section on Patriarchal Grades. There is also Pontiff of Kneph, as No. 88 in the revision of 1862. I will analyse only Pontiff of the Mystic City, which figures in the Antient and Primitive Rite as No. 29. It must stand as typical of all.
The Mystic City.—We know something on higher warrants of the “rise, race and royalty” of the soul as citizen of the Eternal Kingdom; but a Candidate for the freedom of the Mystic City of Memphis is under the obedience of a Christless Rite which substitutes the mouthings of an intellectual muck-heap for the words of truth and wisdom. He is introduced as a Patriarch of Memphis who has presumably failed so far in the quest that he is still looking for wisdom, and seeing that the day is far spent, for the end of the Rite is near, he brings a forlorn hope of exchanging contraband for genuine wares in the market of a Pontifical Grade. He must be weary of expressing that barren formalism of belief in God which so far in his foolish hands seems to have brought him nowhere; but he is challenged and testifies accordingly. He is promised a knowledge of three grand secrets, being (1) the art of prolonging life, (2) the art of “becoming wealthy”; and (3) the creative genius which excites admiration among men. They prove in due course to be (1) good use of time, (2) contentment, combined with trust in Providence, and (3) virtue which “encourages good works, and is therefore superior to genius.”
Claims.—Thus far piously sold, he goes to another apartment and sees (1) the tomb of Sesostris in the Pyramid of Cheops; (2) a representation of Heliopolis, “situated at the apex of the Egyptian Delta, and now a crumbling of ruin, where silence of death presides.” One is tempted by way of a lesson to infer that the Egypt of the Mysteries is dead and that sons of Election have been called out therefrom; but on the contrary the real and veridical message is that the truth and science of Sublime Masonry “still rears its temples proudly in the hearts of the votaries of our Antient and Primitive Rite.” The claim is not new in his ears, for he heard it as a Discreet Master in the first of the Chapter Grades. When it has been administered by way of refreshment, he is taken into a third apartment; but it is only to be pledged and receive the Secrets of the Grade. What kind of place is the Mystic City which has received him does not transpire in Ritual, nor in the inevitable Charge which follows. The latter begins with another discourse on the Ancient Mysteries, the same old ground retraced after the same manner. It ends with an enumeration of Orders old and new, from the Indian Rite of Botulo to the Perfect Initiates of Egypt, said to have been composed at Lyons in 1821. In so far as the items can be checked they reproduce matters of common knowledge or are incorrect and misleading.
Postulants and Preparation
It seems desirable to say something shortly concerning those essential preliminaries which have been ascribed to the elder initiations and the fact of which has been reflected into Craft Masonry in the hypothesis that every Candidate is well and properly prepared. They are to be distinguished from the trials which were part of initiation itself, as when crowns were offered to the neophyte and women of the Temple cast themselves before him, or when he was tested by the four putative elementary forces. It so happens that the preliminaries in question are practically those which are imposed on every person who has placed himself under any form of spiritual direction, and thus far therefore the regimen which preceded initiation translates easily into corresponding terms of ordinary devotional life. So rendered, the initial processes comprehended repentance—which is the rebaptism of a sinner—prayer, fasting and works of charity.
Waters of Cleansing.—Prior to any initiation the Candidate from all time was required to undergo that which is termed in the Mysteries a Rite of Lustration. The external was not of course without the inward cleansing by the hypothesis of such procedure and was obviously symbolical. The Candidate passed through a kind of baptism, the intention and significance of which were in analogy with those of the Christian Rite performed on every child of the present age. It had correspondence also with the sacrament of penance. The baptismal rite is regarded at this day by the great churches as automatically communicating a grace and creating a condition in the recipient, and this confusion of the sign with the thing signified seems to have been characteristic also of the old Temple procedure: the ceremonial act looms so largely in the records that the spirit and meaning behind it emerge nowhere; but they may by possibility have been present in the consciousness of the Mysteries as these were formulated at the beginning, while something must be allowed—here and there—for a state of awareness in the Candidate respecting the meaning behind ceremonial. As the act of will is exercised by sponsors on behalf of the child in baptism, so the Candidate for initiation—though, in a sense, he has also sponsors exercises it on his own behalf, and some in the old days who sought the secret life of the Temples with zeal of heart may have brought a certain understanding as a warrant for desire and aid.
Sense-Purification.—In any case, within the conception of their baptismal sacrament, there was a realisation of the necessity for refining material senses, and herein lies the question of a balance between culture and asceticism. Both have passed in their exaggeration into excesses almost outside of reason. We have only to remember the late Victorian gospel of culture for the sake of culture, on the one hand, and, on the other, to compare it with the self-crucifixions practised by almost every saint in the later calendars of Christendom. As the culture of recent days, no less than that of Alexandria or the cities along the Mediterranean about the beginning of the Christian era, is and was mental and physical self-worship in exaltation, so mediaeval and later asceticism was self-denial and self-hatred raised into a state of frenzy. The reasonable and purposed refinement of senses typified by Rites of Initiation stood at a balancing point between these two extravagances. It exacted from the Candidate a temporary rule of life, to reduce the insistence of the senses, to combine the purity and singleness of intention required for real purposes with a corresponding purity of body.
Purification by Fasting.—In this way we come to understand why it was that—in some modified form or strict, for the regimen varied—fasting was expected of the Candidate. The intellectual philosophy of initiation—for there was certainly this in the background, if not something deeper—regarded the senses as a clouded means of communication between the soul and the world-soul: it endeavoured by the reduction of diet and other precautions to cleanse the channels of communication for the purposes of the Rite to come, to modify and—so far as possible—to transfigure the appeal of things manifested through the senses and thus to create within the recipient a new point of relationship towards that which was external to himself. I shall not need to say that such purification and such an altered standpoint, in one or another degree, are required of all persons who are elected to any spiritual life.
Prayer in Practice.—Prayer also was imposed on the Postulant, at least in the sense of the external Rites, Festivals and Offices of the Temple on their external side, and sometimes in one that was deeper. I can speak of it only in the light of our present understanding on the mystical side, for I think in my heart that it was dead and empty in the pagan world of the West. We are told that the prayer of the just man availeth much, and the reason is that it coincides with the law and the order. In other words, it is fulfilled—or becomes an operating power—because it lies wholly within the sovereign reason of things. The prayer which suspends that reason or is contrary to such law avails nothing, unless indeed as a disturbing element in the universal hymony. The mountains which are moved by supplication, even as by faith, are within us, not without us, and the Kingdom and the bread which we ask for are not of this external world. In this sense it is true that the Eucharist is everywhere—as much in the starry heavens as in the Bread of the Altar. A plenary efficacy abides in all the sacraments, all the wide world over: it is limited only by our inward power of reception.
Offices of Love.—It is only in the Christian Schools, and they were scarcely Schools of the Mysteries, that we trace injunctions concerning works of charity. In the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross they were centred especially in the free art of healing, of which Paracelsus was an example beforehand, as one born out of due time. The Institutes of Chivalry embraced all the corporal works, sanctified by the intention of the Church. Virtues of this kind were foreign to the ancient initiations, though I do not intend to suggest that ministries of mercy were unknown in Egypt or in Greece. There is no tribe so savage and sunk in the scale so low as to be divorced utterly from the sentiments which lie at their roots. But the secret of that charity which is in Christ is not the secret of good will and no key to it was ever delivered at Thebes or Eleusis. It was known to St. Paul, who bore witness that it is possible to sell all one has and give it to the poor, and yet be wanting in charity. By its operation the law of charity passes from the region of good nature and alms can be literally given or any other good work undertaken for the love of God. It lies at the poles asunder from those qualified offices commended to the heart of the Mason as without detriment to himself. But it is not approximately nearer to the conventional misconceptions about that which is called self-sacrifice, I have shewn elsewhere that the sacrifice of self is really the mystery of its consecration, and no man can strip himself of that which is his essentially. He can dispense that which is committed to his charge for a period, but that with which he is vested is the attribute of his very being. It is a common mistake to say that we give love, for it is a state of our own nature, and it is therefore love which gives, from the first even to the last of all those treasures of accidents by which it is clothed about—from the accident of the cloak of St. Martin to the accident of temporal life itself. Within the notion of our self-consecration there lies also our divestiture of those things which are impedimenta of our real nature. The secret in respect hereof is contained in the word detachment. It is impossible for our physical manhood to pass through material life possessed of everything, and the attempt so to dispossess our humanity is no part of the work of love; but detachment in its broadest sense is that inward state which forbids the over-valuation of the things of outward life, making the work of individual election and the object to be attained everything but the environment amidst which we advance to attainment of itself nothing. I am not concerned here with the putting away of that which is evil by common consent, for all this is presupposed. Most of it has been renounced already by the Master Mason, according to the hypothesis of his vocation. But as part of the spirit of detachment we are called to realise that when things which can be given to another are required of us in virtue of a reasonable demand, in their denial they become impedimenta, a hindrance and in fine burdens. The many possessions of the rich young man in the gospel were not a yoke about his neck till he found that he could not part with them in order to follow Christ.
Whether it passes into expression or is only implied, the fundamental doctrine of the Mysteries is that of Pre-existence. I am speaking of those which matter, and some insolent inventions of modern times are of course excluded. The reference, moreover, is to those which can be classed as Rites and present a complete pageant within the measures of their particular symbolism. There are great individual Grades which stand apart, presupposing nothing antecedent and invoking no sequel—I mean, in the order of Ritual. The Grade of Knight Templar offers a case in point. There are others which are found in a series but do not belong thereto—as for example, that of Rose-Croix. Creations of this kind are justified by a special motive and connect with a special temporal event: they do not enter into the catholic scheme of initiation. Pre-existence in the Greater Mysteries did not connote reincarnation, though—according to Matthew Arnold—Empedocles said upon Etna:
“I have seen many cities in my time,
Till mine eyes ache with the long spectacle,
And I shall doubtless see them all again.”
It connoted the high spiritual estate which goes before and comes after the manifestation of mortal life. Those who are acquainted with some at least of the several Orders which—at the present day—continue to dispense initiation in secret places will know that this doctrine still prevails among several. I allude to mystical fraternities. Speaking quite broadly, the picture which is presented to the Candidate is the successive Grades of his progress is the operation of that universal law by which he was brought originally into natural life and by which—under the providence of a peculiar guidance he is taught how he must reascend and in fine go back whence he came. The condition of illumination is the turning of will by a voluntary act of obedience in the directions indicated, and this corresponds symbolically with the imputed position of a Candidate for participation in the light of this mortal world, when he comes down, ex hypothesi, by a voluntary act, to put on mortality and assume its law of obedience. But the root of correspondence is in antithesis, for the Instituted Mystery deals with the quest of going back, while the cosmic event is that of coming forth.
Fall of Man.—There is, however, an alternative of the legend, which involves variations in the Mysteries by which it is recognised. In this the soul comes down, not in virtue of obedience or in view of a mission but as a penalty imposed on trespass. The Myth of Eden is a characteristic Legend of Pre-existence, and it must be observed in this connnection that so long as we elect to regard the Holy Royal Arch as a completion of the Third Degree, it follows that Craft Masonry—under the obedience of the Grand Lodge of England—teaches Pre-existence, since it insists on the Fall of Man.
Birth and Rebirth.—It should be understood, however, that the various Orders of Initiation do not always and all begin their work of transmutation at the same point. Some of them can be explained only by supposing that their first Grade represents the prenatal life of the Candidate, after which they lead him through various stages to the point of physical birth, the symbolical attainment of which represents a considerable advancement in the particular sequence. In such cases the stage at which he reaches—let us say—the Second Birth signifies that the Candidate has passed successfully through a severe school of selection. In other instances the entrance of the Candidate into a given College of the Mysteries symbolises his passage from the natural to the transcendental world, and even as a Neophyte he is supposed to receive—but of course in a figurative sense—what may be termed the Second Life of Nature. This being so, it will be understood that the preliminary Degrees of the alternative sodalities do not stand to be of great importance: they are at least not vital. True initiation begins only at that point when the Candidate is offered symbolically an escape from the mere life of earth—a touchstone for the distinction between things that are real and the picture-scheme of Nature, apart from the key of the scheme. It is, or should be, always a work, firstly, of purification and cleansing; secondly, of consecration; and, thirdly, of fight conferred. I should add that when the schemes of such initiations have not missed their way, so that they lead the Candidate into a wilderness rather than the Spiritual Salem, they do not make void the life of earth, for he who seeks the Promised Land outside it has set out on a vain quest.
The Illustrations of Masonry have been mentioned in the course of the present work, and its numerous editions are indicative of the purpose which it served, not only in the days of its author but for a considerable period subsequently. William Preston is not only of importance to the History of Masonry in the second half of the eighteenth century from the point of view of this particular work, but for his reform of the lectures and for the foundation of a Grand Chapter or Order of Harodim, being the first experiment ever made towards a learned Lodge of Freemasonry. It proved, however, what Gould calls “a mushroom creation,” for the time was not yet, and the erudition—such as it was—could have been only on the side of the founder. William Preston was born in Edinburgh on August 7, 1742, and as the son of a writer to the signet he received a good education, after which he was apprenticed to the printing trade, but exchanged it for secretarial work, being employed by Thomas Ruddiman, a scholar of the time who was possessed of a large library. The death of Ruddiman put an end to this occupation, and in 1760 Preston set his face to London, and entered the path of journalism. He became ultimately editor of The London Chronicle, an appointment which he held for many years. In the other events of his private life we have no concern, so I need say only that he died on April 1, 1818, in Dean Street, Fetter Lane, at the age of seventy-six.
Life in the Order.—The Masonic life of Preston is embodied in his Illustrations, in his work on the Lectures and in the Chapter of his own creation. There was never, as it seems to me, more unselfish and unpretentious activity in the course of Masonic history. It included also considerable humanitarian zeal on behalf of the charities, as they stood at that period. The reward of these things was with him in due course, for when a trivial and vexatious dispute arose between the “Moderns” Grand Lodge and the Lodge of Antiquity, to which he belonged, William Preston was one among several who were expelled from the Order. It is true that ten years later Grand Lodge reviewed its judgment and rescinded its decree. In the spirit which always actuated him he returned without ostentation to his labour of love in the Order.
“Illustrations of Masonry.”—The day of the Illustrations is over, though we shall always look back on it with sympathy and a certain interest. It traces the foundation of Masonry from the commencement of the world, on the plea that “ever since symmetry began and harmony delayed her charms, our Order has had a being.” It is described as having two “denominations,” namely, Operative and Speculative. There are also three classes of Masons: honour and probity are commended to the first, assiduity and application to the second, while the third class is restricted to a chosen few, “whom truth and fidelity have distinguished “: they are said to possess the secret landmarks of the Order. I should add that, according to Preston, his Chapter of Harodim, which was opened on January 4, 1787, was an Order of ancient date, “patronised in different parts of Europe.” Its mysteries, moreover, are called “peculiar to itself.” Preston was made a Mason in 1762 under the jurisdiction of the “Ancients,” but soon after joined the earlier Grand Lodge.
It is a sort of counsel of perfection to abuse Prichard and his Masonry Dissected, published in 1730 and claimed by its author to contain all the secrets of the Craft. It is really of considerable importance, though described as spurious, unauthorised and the work of an unprincipled person, characterised otherwise as needy. About the last designation I know and care nothing. Prichard appears to have been a Mason, in which case he broke his obligations by pretending to reveal the secret workings. He was therefore unprincipled enough and he published not only without but against all authority. Whether all that he made known is spurious opens many questions. The book had sufficient claims to warrant Grand Lodge in seeing that an answer was forthcoming, and in taking at the same time what pains it could that the answer should not seem official. I have mentioned this part of the question in my notice of Martin Clare.
Priestly Order, or White Mason
We have seen that there was a Grade of Melchizedek or Royal Priesthood in the Rite of the Asiatic Brethren, and there are vestiges of a Priestly Order in Ireland of the eighteenth century, to say nothing of rumours connected with the venerable and time immemorial Lodge at York, which occupies—but obviously in a far lesser degree—something of the romantic position imposed by tradition and invention on the Mother Lodge of Kilwinning, full of august memories—but unfortunately apart from fact. Kilwinning is the crown of imagined Masonry in Scotland, and York is the English centre of sacred and wonderful legend. The London Grand Lodge of 1717 is without a shadow of consecration; the Rummers and the Apple-Tree Tavern are its holy places, as compared with Heredom and Culdee Abbeys, casting through later ages a strange uncertain light from Sanctuary Lamps.
A Templar Priesthood.—We have had several occasions for remarking that—amidst too many disabilities—we have to thank the Early Grand Scottish Rite for preserving memorials or shadows of Grades which otherwise would have perished utterly from memory. I must speak on the present occasion of a greater debt, for we owe to it also—in a comparatively uncorrupted state—the continued existence and, I believe, the former active working of the Priestly Order, otherwise White Mason, or alternatively the Most Solemn Grade of Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests. It is opened with all present in the white robes of the Temple, which represents the Tabernaculum perfectius, non manu factum, mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is opened in the name of Melchizedek, as King of Salem and of Peace. The Temple is a Spiritual House and those who serve therein are a holy priesthood, who offer up “spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” It is imbedded in the cumbrous and inchoate system of the Early Grand Rite, like a corner-stone laid in Zion, “elect and precious.” The Candidate enters carrying the titles of peace, faith and goodwill. He is welcomed in the Name of the King of Peace, the Eternal Melchizedek. He passes successively in the symbolism of his ordered progress through seven mystical doors: through that of Faith, uplifting the Lamp of Prayer; of Hope, with the Lamp of Knowledge; of Mercy, having the Lamp of Desire; of Utterance, with the Lamp of Purity; of Salvation, upholding a Lamp of Good Works; of Penance, with a Lamp of Power; and finally through a Door of Life—meaning the Life of life—carrying a Lamp of Joy, as of those who come into their own. So is he led to the East, to be anointed with oil in the Name of the Lord and consecrated as a Priest Mason. Thereafter these Templar Priests resolve together, as with one heart and voice, to unite their souls “in the Lord’s path,” that they “may become spiritual builders and pillars in the House of God,” abiding in unity of spirit, in the fellowship of one body, and “by the all-sufficient grace and spirit of God,” being “true to the bodies and souls of one another, all the days of our lives,” even “until time shall be no more.”
Priest of the Royal Arch.—A different recension of this Grade was issued in London privately some forty years since and is useful for purposes of comparison, though it would serve no purpose to give account of the variations in this place. It is more carefully produced as a piece of editorial work, but lacks something of the spirit which I have found in the Scottish working. The title in full is The United Sacred Band of Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests, and a Historical Note affirms that the Grade was practised by the Bristol, Bath, Salisbury and York Encampments, as a ne plus ultra of Masonry. It is affirmed by other witnesses that there are traces of a much wider diffusion, all over the United Kingdom, at the end of the eighteenth and early in the nineteenth century. This is not antecedently improbable, whether we consider the sacred character of the Templar Rite in Masonry or the precedent set by Starck’s Clerical Branch of the Strict Observance. The connection of a Templar Priesthood with the Royal Arch is unaccountable—at least on the surface, as the Military and Religious Order—which is a Rite of Pilgrimage and Warfare—has no concern in the Building Art, either material or emblematical. The Sacerdotal Grade does not therefore justify its claim to be regarded as the term and crown of Masonry.
Grand High Priest.—The priesthoods are many in Masonry, from those who are ordained to the Office of Joshua, son of Jozedech, to those who in less frequented ways may still be Priests of the Sun, though it must be confessed that the rank has suffered a certain substitution. The other sacerdotal orders are for the most part suspended, for the old Rites have perished. We have seen that an Order of High Priesthood came to birth in America about 1802 under obscure circumstances, and I do not claim to give account of it in any plenary sense. It was worked in the Grand Chapter of Ohio, circa 1828, and has been called an honorary Degree arising out of the rank of Joshuah in the Holy Royal Arch. The analogue in England is an Order of Grand High Priest, under the Grand Council of the Allied Degrees. This is in the same relation to Royal Arch Masonry that the Priestly Order bears to Christian Degrees and the Templar connection especially. From the Ritual standpoint, however, it is not in the same category. It is conferred only on Present or Past Principals of a Royal Arch Chapter. There are obvious and exceptional analogies with the Priestly Order, as for example, in respect of the first that the Candidate is anointed, consecrated and set apart, while in respect of the second the Lodge or Temple is denominated a Tabernacle, which is opened also in the name of the Priest and King. The President of the Order represents the King of Salem and the Candidate is Abram, the great father of Israel. There is a great opportunity offered to symbolism by the ordination on the part of Melchizedek and in the Offices of Bread and Wine; but as the light of Christian Mysticism does not shine in the Tabernacle the real significance slips through. The counsels of the Lecture are excellent, however, within their own measures: (1) That the true Mason should be dedicated to the service of the Most High; (2) that the unchangeable priesthood of Melchizedek was superior to that of Aaron, which passed away; (3) that after this transitory scene there is the hope of entrance into an Eternal Tabernacle; and (4) that Holiness to the Lord should be written in heart and life, looking to a seat therein. The Christian implicits are clear.
Priest of Eleusis
There are curious ceremonial suggestions in the Forty-Third Degree of the Early Grand Rite, which is presumably that of Priest of Eleusis, though it carries no title in the series. The Candidate, by virtue of his advancement, becomes a sacerdotal minister of the old Greek Mysteries, as he became, for example, a Priest of the Sun in a previous Ceremony; but it is in a still more substituted sense. He is seeking light in Eleusis, by the hypothesis of his claim, and is promised instruction therein. That which he receives, however, is confined to certain arbitrary Words, together with an Official Sign and a mistranslation of the famous Konx Ompax. Here ends the first act of the proceedings. Being conducted to a second chamber, a veil is thrown over him and he is extended upon the floor. Those who encompass him explain that he is a priest of old Mysteries who has yet to be instructed about those of the New Jerusalem, for this is the true Eleusis; that he is dead in error and must receive the revivifying teaching of the New Law. He is raised accordingly from the death and sepulture of falsehood on the three points of Faith, Hope and Charity. Amidst Apocalyptic sentences he is said to enter into living truth and becomes in this manner a Priest of the True Eleusis. The dramatic moments of the Grade are missed inevitably, and it is nothing as it stands in the sequence, but under proper auspices it might have been a moving pageant, full of grace and meaning, nor need it denounce the Greek Mysteries to acclaim those which are in the Name of Him Who came not to destroy but to fulfil. It is impossible to give any indication as to time or place of origin as regards Priest of Eleusis.
Priest of the Sun
I do not think that the Early Grand Scottish Rite deliberately invented anything in the shape of Grades and Degrees, but it reduced and bowdlerised many, made illogical changes for the purpose of bringing that and this under a Senate or Council of something, which had no relation with either, and thus produced unnatural or ridiculous unions. It must have tampered with the subject-matter of its Forty-second Degree, being Priest of the Sun, for the purpose of its subordination to a Consistory of Princes of the Royal Secret and to institute a maniacal connection with what must be called Adamite Masonry. In place of exploring the rich field of solar and lunar symbolism we have Adam representing the Sun, while another personification answers to the Moon and Truth. There are also Seven subordinate Officers, corresponding to Seven traditional Angels, who were regarded as presidents of the seven planets of the ancients, in which manner the Moon is represented twice, by a lapsus memoriae of the makers. The Candidate is conducted by Truth from Angel to Angel, in virtue of successive Masonic qualifications and titles: (1) To Michael, representing the sun, as a Master Mason, and he is counselled to remember that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the poor in spirit; (2) as a Royal Arch Mason to Gabriel, representing the Moon, who reminds him that comfort is reserved for those who mourn; (3) to Uriel, representing Mercury as a Knight Templar, and he is told that the meek shall inherit the earth; (4) as a Prince Mason to Hamaliel, who governs Venus, and speaks of the blessing promised to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; (5) to Raphael, the ruler of Mars, as a Knight of St. Andrew, who affirms that the merciful shall obtain mercy; (6) to Zarachiel, the Angel of Jupiter, as a Knight Kadosh, and he hears that the pure in heart shall see God; (7) as a Knight Templar Priest to Saphael, the President of Saturn, who recalls to him that the peacemakers are Children of God. Having been cautioned and proved in this manner, the Candidate is pledged and proclaimed by the venerable personality who is identified with Father Adam. It will be seen that the titular distinctions are entirely apart from meaning, and in deploying the solar system for the recitation of the Beatitudes, even an antiquarian significance is wanting, since the attributions are not those of old astrology, nor yet of late Kabalism. From whatsoever source it has come the Grade is pure nonsense.
Primordial Chapter of Arras
The story is that on April 15, 1747, the Royal Pretender, Prince Charles Edward, founded a Rose-Croix Chapter under this title and at this place, or alternatively that it came to be known under such name, but was styled originally Scottish Jacobite Chapter. It is said later on to have created bodies similar to itself, but in particular the Chapter of Arras, Valley of Paris, about 1780. There are two reasons on the surface why the story is apocryphal: (1) Because no prudent person would accept anything which seeks to connect Prince Charles Stuart with Masonic activities in the absence of unquestionable evidence, of which in this instance there is none; (2) Because there is no proof and there is no reason to believe that the Grade of Rose-Croix existed in 1747. I leave out of consideration the likelihood of a Stuart Prince making a Masonic foundation under the title Écosse Jacobite (sic.): one is reminded of the Masonic document—no less fraudulent than this story—which supposes the same Prince to have subscribed himself as Pretender. That which is of good faith in Masonry has been protected strangely throughout by the transparent folly which has characterised Masonic knaveries. The tale of the Primordial Chapter has been repeated from mouth to mouth without any let or hindrance on the part of preliminary examination: it is told of course by MacKenzie; it is spun by Woodford into the weak web of his fancies; and it is declaimed, as might be anticipated, by Yarker.
Prince in Babylon
An alternative name for this purposeless and foolish Grade is Suspending Cross of Babylon, which is meaningless in itself as well as by its supposed connection with the reign of Darius. It claims to have been extant in the first quarter of the eighteenth century, evidence for which is wanting, and to have been incorporated into several early High-Grade Systems, but this does not seem to be true. The question is of no consequence, save indeed as matter of fact, for antiquity, as I have had occasion to point out elsewhere, is not of itself a test of value, and the oldest collections superposed upon the Craft will scarcely be saved by their age if they are not otherwise within the pale of redemption. The Prince of Babylon counts as the Thirty-second Degree of the Early Grand Rite, and I have met with it in no other system. For the rest, it is a name in lists. It is held under a Council of Prince Masons, which confuses additionally its few and negligible issues. HoweVer, this difficulty may be taken out of the way—as it arises out of a matter of arbitrary arrangement.
Procedure.—One of its little mysteries is after what manner the Candidate who is received becomes a Prince of Babylon. The experience through which he passes is that of being cast into the fiery furnace of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the Masonic substitution for which is being sent to Coventry—during a brief period—in a corner of the Lodge-room. He passes unscathed through this ordeal, even as the children before him. The episode is symbolical of “the fiery furnace of worldly trouble and temptation.” An alternative title appears to be Knight of the Temple of Zion, for even as in the old Romance of Troy, the institutors of Masonic Chivalries found Knighthood everywhere in the world, and through all the ages. It does not transpire in the Ceremony for what reason the ordeal is adjudged to the Candidate, and taking it altogether I am disposed to think that there is no more fatuous Degree in all the forty-seven numbers of the Early Grand Rite, so rich in fatuities otherwise.
The Ceremony of this Grade is in one sense supplementary to the Royal Arch and in another is subversive thereof. It opens in the Grand Chapter at Jerusalem, none being present but those who carry the sword as well as the trowel. The Candidate is a Babylonish Master, bearing the name of Zerubbabel. The Chapter is in tribulation and the work of the Second Temple is suspended under circumstances recorded in the third and fourth chapters of Ezra. It is an old story beginning in the days of Cyrus, King of Persia, and continuing through those of Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes, even to the time of Darius. But Darius “hath ever been favourable to the people of God,” and could he be informed “how our enemies encompass us about, peradventure he might help us.” But who will undertake the mission? The answer is Zerubbabel, the Candidate, because “he has had acquaintance aforetime with Darius the King, and he will therefore travel to Persia with the request of the people.” So ends the First Point, and in the second—which takes place on a bridge over the Euphrates—the ambassador is arrested as a spy. The third is in the Court of Darius, and when Zerubbabel is brought before him he is recognised as a quondam friend and associate. For this reason, and also for the truth of his cause, it is granted unto the ambassador that he shall return to his own land and his own people, bearing written commands to the Governors of Darius, and carrying the Persian Pass. He is reconducted to the Bridge, and so returns in safety to the Grand Chapter at Jerusalem, where—as a reward for his services—he is created a Prince Mason.
Grade-Value.—Amidst all its limitations—which are those of form and manner, in part peculiar to itself and in part an inheritance from the Craft Degrees—the Royal Arch is a Grade of speaking symbolism, whereas the Prince Mason is merely a Masonic adaptation of Scripture-history. As such, it conveys nothing and marks no stage in the Emblematic Art. It constitutes the Thirty-third Degree of the Early Grand Rite and is an older recension of the Grade known as Order of the Red Cross of Babylon under the Grand Council of the Allied Degrees, and otherwise as Knights of Babylon. The last connects with the traditional history of the Grade, according to which Darius is supposed to have instituted an Order of Knights of the East, changed afterwards to Knights of the Eagle, in Palestine to Order of Knights of the Red Cross, and known finally in France as Knights of the Sword. An official introduction to the Grade furnishes these points, and they may be derived possibly from a pseudo-historical lecture which is not now extant. The variations of the Red Cross from the text of Prince Mason are of consequence only in respect of one point, being that of the return of Zerubbabel to the Grand Chapter, carrying the evidences of his success. This episode is omitted in the later version, though the Closing takes place in the Chapter and implies the lapse of a considerable space in historical time, for the building of the Second Temple is affirmed to be finished. The Grade is from this point of view a supplement to the Royal Arch.
Magna est Veritas.—Both recensions embody the well-known debate in 1 Esdras as to which is the greatest—the strength of wine, of the king, or of women. But Zerubbabel, prince of the people, testifies that “great is truth and mighty above all things,” for which he is acclaimed by the King.
Knight of the Sword.—-I have mentioned the Grade denominated Knight of the Sword in connection with the Red Cross of Babylon on the authority of one of its recensions, but there would appear to be several variants. It is included with a sub-title as Knight of the Sword, or of the East, by the Ancient and Accepted Rite, being No. 15 of the system; under the same title, having Knight of the Eagle added, it ranks as No. 10 in Adonhiramite Masonry; as Chevalier d’Orient it is No. 6 of the French Rite and 41 of the Rite of Mizraim, while one of the private collections mentioned by Thory—that of Hecart—had a Grade entitled Victorious Knight of the East. As Grades which are similar or identical recur continually under totally distinct titles, so there are distinct Grades which pass under one title. The original classification of the Rite of Memphis in 1839 had Chevalier de l’Épée as No. 15 in the series, but when the Order was taken over by the Grand Orient, with the consent of Marconis—its head—No. 15 was entitled Knight of the East, but it was probably the same Degree. In 1866 the mammoth system was reduced to thirty-three Degrees, and No. 10 therein was called Knight of the Sword. The Master represents Cyrus and the Candidate Zerubbabel, petitioning the Persian king “to remedy the condition of his Brothers, who are in captivity.” The king affirms that he has long intended to liberate “the children of Judah,” but he desires the interpretation of a dream, which he calls upon Daniel—who is present in the person of the Orator—to expound if he can. “In my sleep I saw a lion ready to spring upon and devour me, and at a distance Nebuchadnezzar and Balshazzar, my predecessors, chained in the garb of slavery. They were contemplating a halo of glory which the Masons shew as the name of the Supreme Architect of the Universe. Out of it issued the words ‘Liberty to the captives.’” The Orator has no difficulty in explaining that the predecessors appeared in chains, because of the wrong which they had done to Israel, while the lion intimates the wrath that will fall upon Cyrus himself, should he elect to follow in their footsteps. On the contrary, if the captives are liberated, the halo signifies the reward which the king will receive hereafter. The king thereupon—in the person of his Masonic successor—not only grants the request of Zerubbabel but creates him in the person of the Candidate a Knight of the Sword, he pledging himself to reserve the secrets of the Grade.
Historical Discourse.—In the homily which follows under the pretence of an Historical Discourse, it is said (1) that the mission of the chivalry is to deliver Brethren from misery; (2) to labour for the good of humanity; (3) to seek knowledge of God and His perfection in the visible marvels of the universe; (4) to follow the voice of Nature—with other excellent counsels which in no wise emerge logicaUy from the ceremonial itself. For the rest, it wiH be seen that the Prince Mason and the Red Cross are travesties of Ezra and 1 Esdras to magnify the work of Zerubbabel and that Knight of the Sword substitutes a spurious dream which gives away its own meaning for the Esdras debate on wine, women and the king.
Certain Strictures.—The three Rituals, all in analogy and all differing sufficiently one from another, continue to indicate how the great things are missed in the so-called High Grades of Masonry. Amidst all their operative elements an important symbolism lies curiously imbedded in the Craft Legend and the Holy Royal Arch, but the various inventions which have been devised to illustrate, explain and extend them cloud the symbolical issues and, even within the conventions of morality and the counsels of conduct, if they seek to convey anything it does not for the most part belong to the subject.
Bibliography of the Grade.—We have not finished, however, with the sequence of Degrees connected with Prince Mason. There is the Grade called Knight of Jerusalem, being No. 65 in the Metropolitan Chapter of France and No. 9 of the Antient and Primitive Rite, understood as the reduction of the Rite of Memphis to thirty-three Degrees. It appears as Prince of Jerusalem in the unabridged series of 1839, being No. 16; under this title it constitutes the Forty-fifth Grade of the Rite of Mizraim and the Sixteenth of the Ancient and Accepted Rite, variations and distinctions understood. It is substantially identical with Prince Mason and the Red Cross, but is sufficiently distinct as a codex. It is much more elaborate than either and in the English version has been revised almost unquestionably by Yarker, who has borrowed from Rituals which belong to other subjects and times, thus creating, according to his wont, an additional and needless confusion. Among points otherwise which are of interest in respect of variations may be cited (1) That according to the Opening the first Chapter of the Chivalry was held amidst the ruins of the First Temple; (2) that the hindrance of the work of rebuilding is ascribed to the Samaritans; (3) that the Candidate—on the part of Zerubbabel—discovers, in addition to the Square, Compass, Level and Plumb, the Sacred Delta of Enoch, “which has been lost to the Craft” since the destruction of the Temple by Nebuzaradan, whereupon the Brethren “pronounce the Name which was once the glory of the Temple and of the nation.” The Knight of Jerusalem is certainly the best of the codices, and in the hands of a true Ritualist might have been worthy of a place in Masonry among the connections of the Royal Arch.
Prince of Libanus
It should be understood that Libanus is Lebanon and that according to the traditional history it was the Sidonians who cut down cedars on that memorable mountain (1) for the building of Noah’s ark, (2) for the Ark of the Covenant, (3) for Solomon’s Temple, and (4) for that of Zerubbabel. The Prince of Libanus constitutes the Twenty-Second Degree of the Scottish Rite, and its alternative title is Knight of the Royal Axe. It is the Sidonians presumably who are at work in one of the apartments—hewing, sawing, planing, copying designs and so forth—when the Candidate enters among them. Here is a plain issue within its own measures, but as those who make Grades of this quality must also stultify, his perfect title of entrance is that he is a Christian Knight of Rose-Croix, who should know of another Lebanon than that where Sidon worked, to say nothing of ages intervening between the dawn of Easter and the leading epochs of Jewish history or the days of Ark and Flood. He learns in due course that the saw symbolises patience, the plane cuts off prejudices and the axe is a great civilising agent, so his journey into the far past is not entirely fruitless. Under the auspices of Albert Pike, he is instructed also in the nobility of work, which is Heaven’s great ordinance for human improvement; and if he seems to have heard it before, he has the satisfaction at least that on this occasion the instruction occupies so many pages that the famous Grand Commander forgets to provide an accolade for his new Knight of the Axe, as he forgets also to tell him why it is Royal. Assuredly Albert Pike was the “Conversation Kenge” of Masonry.
Prince of Mercy
So far as the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite is concerned, its Twenty-Second Degree, which is called Prince of Mercy, offers an important variation from the rest of Pike’s recensions, as it retains practically all the Christian elements which characterised originally this interesting, though not important Grade. The old alternative title is Scottish Trinitarian. In doctrine and symbolism it is concerned with the three great Covenants of Divine Mercy, being those of Abraham, Moses and Christ. There can be no doubt that the Obligation was once imposed and taken in the Name of the Holy Trinity, but the appeal of Pike is to the Grand Architect of the Universe. The sacred testimony borne in the presence of the Candidate is (1) to the virginal birth of Christ; (2) to His mystical death, resurrection and ascension; (3) to His Second Advent; (4) to the great spiritual truth that He is the King of the living and the dead; (5) Himself Three in One—but this must be understood in the sense of His Divine Humanity, as the Grade is not Swedenborgian; (6) to His enthronement as President of Initiates, “crowned with the Sun of Truth and Justice”; (7) eternal, living and victorious. He is the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace—that Shiloh Who was to come. The prospect contemplated by the Grade is a new Heaven and a new Earth, for the former things have passed away. It has therefore apocalyptic elements, though it is not actually an Apocalyptic Grade. The Candidate in fine is purified with ceremonial water, is sealed with the Holy Cross, and is devoted thenceforward to the service of God and virtue.
Prince of the Royal Secret
On the assumption that in Masonry or in other Orders and Sodalities there is a Secret which deserves to be called Royal in virtue of its fundamental and essential character, there is likely to be a considerable clash of opinion as to its nature. The existence of several independent Degrees under this name and its analogues will be understood therefore, and I will speak in the present place of that which is termed alternatively the Mother Word, being the Forty-fourth Degree of the Early Grand Rite. It is this Word which constitutes the Royal Secret in its particular or official aspect, but it is contained also and generally—ex hypothesi—in certain instructions communicated to the Candidate by passing through the Ceremony of the Grade. There is offered for his consideration an alleged Key-Plan to the symbols of Masonry. The plan consists of a cross, enclosed within a triangle; the triangle is encompassed by a pentagon; the pentagon is contained by a heptagon; and a nonagon or figure of nine sides surrounds the whole. The Cross is the Sign of Salvation, and its position as the centre of the plan indicates that the Key of Masonry, its Mother Word and Royal-Secret, is a Christian Mystery. It is key and centre of the Craft Grades, represented by the triangle; of the five divisions of the Early Grand Rite with Grades and Orders of Blue, Red, Black, Green and White Masonry; of those salient Degrees which are represented presumably by the heptagon, but they are not distinguished in the Ritual; and finally of the nine classes into which the Rite is divided and which are represented here by the nonagon. They are (1) Craft Masonry; (2) the Mark and its connections; (3) the Ark Mariner and accessories belonging thereto, actually or by ascription; (4) the Royal Arch; (5) the chivalry of the Holy Sepulchre and things appertaining thereto; (6) the Order of the Temple and its familiar analogues; (7) the Prince Mason and Degrees under its charge; (8) the Kadosh Grade and its successions; (9) the Priesthood of the Sun. It will be seen that it is a militant message after its own manner, but consistent with the spirit of the Rite; it is also the last message, as the remaining three Degrees are those of Grand Office and Government. But obviously in this instance the Royal Secret is explanatory of the system at large, is therefore peculiar to the Rite and has—at some time or another—been devised thereby. At the same time there are certain very broad analogies with other workings.
Prince of the Tabernacle
The Twenty-Third and Twenty-Fourth Degrees of the Scottish Rite are called respectively Chief and Prince of the Tabernacle. The principal Officers of the first are Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar, these being his two sons, while Moses, Aaron, Aholiab and Bezaleel preside over the second. If it must be said in respect of both that they lack place and consequence in a sequence of Masonic Grades, it may be added that there is some difficulty in making a choice between them, as to which offers the marks and seals of more especial inconsequence. We have seen that the Candidate in the first case personates Eliasaph, son of Leah, son of Levi, who seeks to be prepared for the service of the Lord and his people in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. In the Grade of Prince he represents Eleazar, son of Aaron, as one who has been appointed for ministration unto God in the sacerdotal office. He is tested successively by fire, water, earth and air, without any logical reason at the root of these proceedings. Afterwards he is anointed and consecrated to the service of truth and virtue, receiving in this manner an inoperative and vacant status in a ceremony which is void of meaning, as it pretends to communicate that which is obviously not possessed by those who officiate. Be it remembered above all that the recipient has gone back on the Christian centuries; that there has been conferred upon him previously the accolade of a Prince Rose-Croix of Heredoon and Kilwinning; that he has been made ex hypothesi a priest for ever according to the Order of Melchizedek, under the New and Eternal Covenant, or—in other words—that he has been signed in the Grade of Grand Pontiff with an official title of the Christhood. How should he be enrolled subsequently among the witnesses of the Old Covenant, now among the records of the past, a sacred memory only, apart from any spirit of life? What part has he henceforward in the offices of Aaron and his sons?
Privileges of Masonry
The inestimable privileges of Masonry are those of its symbolism, the study of which is recommended for our better instruction in the art of emblematic self-building. Our hidden mysteries are those of our relations to God, man and the universe, that we may be enabled to fulfil by Masonry the higher law of our being. The secret arts which we are pledged to conceal from the profane are those of that peculiar law of life in Masonry by which such ends are reached. Those who are outside the Lodge must come within it, if they wish to share in that life. It is incommunicable beyond the mystic circle, for the simple reason that it is life and not one of its substitutes. While therefore we are properly pledged concerning it we could not impart its nature except according to its law. In some of the old Mysteries— from which we descend indirectly—initiation and its sequels are thought to have meant real instruction in these subjects, in which case some of our suggestive intimations are reflections from this source.
Provost and Judge
Some of us have officiated at many Ceremonies which contemplate the mortal remains of the Master-Builder. We have seen him very indecently interred; our respect and devotion have borne him to a more fitting place of sepulture. He was laid in one commemoration very near to the Holy of Holies, as if the Temple of Solomon was like unto a Christian Church, encompassed by God’s acre. But in the Grade of Provost and Judge, which occupies the seventh rank in the series of the Scottish Rite, we are told another story, for it is said that the remains were deposited beneath the footstool of the throne in the Chapter-Room, on the North side of the Temple. But—here as in other Degrees which are met with under various denominations and obediences—the heart has been removed from the body and placed in a golden urn. Nothing follows therefrom in the present instance, nor from other information in the Grade. The first Provosts and Judges were Adonhiram and Tito, to whom Joabert was added speedily as the confidant and favourite of Solomon. Their duty was to preside over the workmen and establish order among them; but they had also the plans of the Temple secreted in an ebony box, and hence it comes about that—as in the Grade of Discreet Master—the Jewel of the Grade is a key, but in this instance it opens something—by the hypothesis at least. The Candidate personates Joabert, to little purpose enough: he is advised that a Provost and Judge should be ready to administer Justice everywhere and at all hours; but as it is defined further, in the recension of Albert Pike, that we cannot be just until we know the truth, the whole subject is left at a loose end, pending a settlement of Pilate’s eternal question, which is not answered in the Grade.
Connected Grades.—The Grade of Provost and Judge is followed by Intendant of the Building, and this is the last ceremonial of the Scottish Rite which is concerned with events in Jerusalem consequent on the death of the Master-Builder. The Secret Master stands first in the series and commemorates the suspension of the work. It is also a Lodge of Mourning, like Architect in the Early Grand Rite. In the end Seven Experts are appointed to remove the difficulties, from which point of view the Grade is in analogy with that of Grand Architect. There is also Perfect Master, which is a grade of Adonhiram, and he is commissioned—as we have seen—to design a suitable monument for the ashes of H ∴ A ∴ B ∴ and arrange the obsequies. The Grade of Intimate Secretary represents an episode which is nothing to the purpose of the series, but in the variant of Sublime Master it is connected with another funerary observance. As regards Intendant of the Building it represents another device to supply the Master’s place, but it has been dealt with at length already. In this manner the entire Grades of the Scottish Rite lead up to those of Elect Masonry, which—as we know—are Grades of vengeance, in their original plans.
Psychical Research and the Mysteries
It has been suggested by more than one writer that those psychical researches which are a marked characteristic of the present epoch have brought us to the doors of the old Sanctuaries, which were depositories—ex hypothesi—of spiritual science in the far past; that they have placed within our hands the keys by which they may be opened; that we are pausing—so to speak—in the precincts of the temples, and can almost distinguish amidst the chorus of invisible hierophants the oracular utterances of antique initiation. Others—more direct in their methods—affirm that we have attained that point in our explorations regarding the undeveloped faculties and potencies of the human soul when the methods and direction of our further progress must be learned of those who were formerly adepts of that knowledge in which we have as yet taken the initial steps alone. The second proposition may be set aside for the conclusive reason that assuming under necessary reserves the exactitude of the claim on behalf of adept-attainments there are no intelligible memorials extant from which it is possible to derive instruction. The Oracles of Zoroaster may—for argument’s sake—embody the whole process of the Sanctuaries, but we cannot recover the process by recourse thereto. With the first alternative we stand upon other ground, and its suggestion is that the phenomena of the hypnotic or mesmeric trance, of clairvoyance, of astral travelling, and the study of astral or akasic records, so-called, will open the sealed doors of the Mysteries.
The Antique Sanctuaries.—The meaning is not so much that in the psychic states under notice we can look back into the far past and see what was done in the antique sanctuaries, though this is possible by the hypothesis, but that we can deepen those states until we attain the degree which was reached in the old workings. In other words, outside all initiation, it is possible in this manner to reach the Grade of Spiritual Adeptship. Negatur. The psychic processes lead no one into spiritual truth or realisation of God Who is within. The figurative death of the Candidate in the Third Craft Degree does not symbolise a psychic state in which the images are multiplied, records of the past laid open or cosmic mysteries unveiled. It connotes in its posture and otherwise a suspension of all faculties by which there is communication maintained with external things, including the material mind; and this in its turn signifies that state which is called mystical death by those who know it at first hand—the great mystics of all the centuries. It is said therein that Spiritus ad Spiritum loquitur, signifying an intercourse between the soul and God, apart from all mediation.
The Ancient Mysteries.—The implicit in the minds of those who have offered the proposal to our notice is of course that the Ancient Mysteries were concerned with various modus operandi for inducing psychic states, and a priori the suggestion is feasible; but in such case we can close once and for all the Book of those Mysteries as containing nothing to our purpose, because they do not belong to finality—the ends of being and of mind. Moreover, there are some of us who have traversed a more excellent path of symbolism, or—in other words—we know of Greater Mysteries.