«THE QUESTION OF LUCIFER A RECORD OF THINGS SEEN AND HEARD IN THE SECRET SOCIETIES ACCORDING TO THE EVIDENCE OF INITIATES BY A R T H U R E D WA R D WA ...»
Accepting these statements as points that admit of being argued with deference to the rules of right reason, let us establish in turn two positions which do not admit of being argued because they are evident in themselves: (a) Where the significance of symbols is uncertain, it is easy to interpret falsely; (b) When a subject is obscure and difficult, no person is qualified to speak positively if his knowledge be obtained at second-hand. Now, have we good reason to suppose that Mgr. Meurin is possessed of first-hand knowledge, and is consequently in a position to interpret truly upon the difficult subject he has undertaken, namely, the esoteric doctrines of the Kabbalah? If not, we are entitled to dismiss him without further examination. As a fact, in this preliminary and essential matter the archbishop can stand no test, The antiquity of the Kabbalah is necessary to work his hypothesis, and he assumes it as if unaware that its antiquity had ever been impugned. There may be much to be said upon both sides of this hotly-debated question, but there is nothing to be said for a writer who seems ignorant that there is a question. And hence my readers will in no way be astonished to learn that his information is obtained at second-hand, or that his one authority is Franck.
Our inquiry into modern devil-worship does not warrant us in discussing the position of writers who choose to assume that the Kabbalah, Gnosticism, and other systems are à priori diabolical, because assumptions of this kind are unreasonable.
There are writers at this moment in France who argue that the English word God is the equivalent of Lucifer, but one does not dispute with these. For the satisfaction of my readers, it may, however, be as well to state that the voluminous treatise of Mgr.
Meurin has come into existence because he has discovered, as one might say, accidentally, that the number 33, which is that of the degrees in French Freemasonry, is the number of the divinities in the Vedas, thus creating a presumption that the mysteries of Freemasonry connect with those of antiquity. Of course they connect with antiquity, for the simple reason that there is a solidarity between all symbolisms, and, moreover, it is perfectly clear that Masonry has either inherited from the past by a perpetuated tradition, or has borrowed therefrom, Mgr.
Meurin had therefore as little reason to be astonished at the correctness of his presumption when he came to work it out as he had to be delighted with the inference which prevails throughout his inquiry, namely, that the mysteries of pagan antiquity were delusions of the devil, and that modern mysteries which connect with those are also diabolical delusions. Indeed he is so continually making discoveries which are fresh to himself, and to no one acquainted with the subject, that one would be pleasantly diverted by his simplicity if it were not for the bad faith which underlies his assumptions. For example, every one who knows anything of Goëtic literature is aware that the rituals of black magic incorporate heterogeneous elements from Kabbalistic sources, but to Mgr. Meurin this fact comes with the force of a surprise.
His Masonic erudition is about as great and as little as his proficiency in Kabbalah;
he quotes Carlyle as "an authority," applies the term orthodox to French Freemasonry exclusively, whereas the developments of the Fraternity in France have always had a heterodox complexion, while his tripartite classification of the 33 degrees of that rite and of the Ancient Accepted Scotch Rite is made in an arbitrary manner to suit a preconceived theory, and entirely effaces the importance inherent in the first three grades, which are themselves the sum of Masonry. Moreover, the classification in question is presented as a most secret instruction imparted in some fastness of Masonry outside the 33 degrees, but no authority is named.
Such being the qualifications and such the methods of the archbishop, I do not propose to accompany him through the long course of his interpretations, but will supply instead, for the economy of labour on the part of those who may wish to follow in his footsteps, a skeleton plan of procedure by which they will be able to prove learnedly anything they please in Freemasonry.
It is well known that the Fraternity makes use of mystic numbers and other symbols.
Take, therefore, any mystic number, or combination of numbers, as e.g., 3 × 3=9.
You will probably be unacquainted with the meaning which attaches to the figure of the product, but it will occur to you that the 9 of spades is regarded as the disappointment in cartomancy. Begin, therefore, by confidently expecting something bad. Reflect upon the fact that cards have been occasionally denominated the Devil's Books. Conclude thence that Freemasonry is the Devil's Institution. Do not be misled by the objection that there is no traceable connection between cards and Masonry;
anticipate an occult connection or secret liaison. The term last used has probably occurred to you by the will of God; do not forget that it describes a questionable sexual relationship. Be sure, therefore, that Freemasonry is a veil of the worst species of moral licence. You have now reached an important stage in the unmasking of Masonry, and you can sum it as follows:—Freemasonry is the cultus of the Phallus. If you know anything of ecclesiastical Latin, the words noctium phantasmata may perhaps occur to you, and the whole field of demonology in connection with the Fraternity will open before you. But if you would confine yourself to the region of lubricity, recollect that our first parents went naked till the serpent tempted them, and then they wore aprons. Hence the apron, which is a masonic emblem, has from time immemorial been the covering of shame. Should it occur to you—vide Genesis— that God made the aprons, dismiss it as a temptation of the devil, who would, if possible, prevent you from unveiling him. By this time it will be well to recur to the number 9; your chain of reasoning has established that it possesses a horrible significance. Now take the number and follow it through the history of religions by means of some theological ready-reckoner, such as a cheap dictionary by Migne. You will be sure to find something to your purpose—i.e., something sufficiently bad. Place that significance against the use of that number in Masonry. Repeat this process, picking up anything serviceable by the way, and continue so doing till your volume has attained its required dimensions. You will never want for materials, and this is how Masonry is unveiled.
There is no exaggeration in this sketch; Mgr. Meurin is indeed by far more fatuous.
On the 26th of May 1876 the Supreme Council of Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the 33rd Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scotch Rite are said to have issued a circular, dated from 33 Golden Square, London. Will my readers believe their own eyes or my sincerity when I say that the most illustrious of the French AntiMasonic interpreters, member of the Society of Jesus, and Archbishop of Port Louis, solemnly enjoins us to "remark the No. 33 and the square of gold, which signify the supreme place in the world assigned to the liberty of gold"? By thus commenting on a significant number attaching to a real address, situated, as everyone knows, in the most central district of this city, Archbishop Meurin believes that he is not descending from pleasant comedy into screaming farce of interpretation, but that he is acting seriously and judiciously, has a right to look wise, and to believe that he has hit hard!
No person who is acquainted with the Kabbalah, even in its historical aspects, much less the ripe scholar, M. A. Franck, from whom the materials are derived, will tolerate for a moment the theory that this mystical literature of the Jewish nation is capable of a diabolical interpretation. In particular it lends itself to the crude Manichæan system attributed to Albert Pike about as much and as little as it does to atheistic materialism. The reading of Mgr. Meurin may be compared with that of Mirandola, who discovered, not dualism, but the Christian mystery of the Trinity contained indubitably therein, who regarded it with more reason as the bridge by which the Jew might ultimately pass over to Christ, who infected a pontiff with his enthusiasm, and it will be seen that the Catholic Archbishop looks ridiculous in the lustre of his derived erudition. To insist further on this point is, however, scarcely to our purpose.
The Kabbalah does not possess that integral connection with Masonry which is argued by Mgr. Meurin, and if it did, does not bear the interpretation which he assigns it, while his anti-Semitic thesis is demolished with the other hypothesis. But these things are largely outside the question which concerns us most directly. Over and above these points, does the witness whom we are examining contribute anything to our knowledge on the subject of the New and Reformed Palladium, otherwise Universal Masonry? The reply is perfectly clear. His one source of knowledge is Adolphe Ricoux; by some oversight he has not even the advantage of the rituals published by Leo Taxil. He may, therefore, be dismissed out of hand. The Satanism which he exhibits in Masonry is an imputed Satanism, and as to any actual Devil-Worship he reproduces as true the clever story of Aut Diabolus, aut Nihil, which appeared originally in "Blackwood's Magazine," and has since been reprinted by its author, who states, what most people know already, that it is entirely fictitious.
In parting with the writer of "Freemasonry, the Synagogue of Satan," as with a witness whose evidence has broken down, it must be repeated that he has, by his exalted position, elegance of method, and show of learning, been a chief pillar of the Satanic hypothesis.
CHAPTER 7. THE DEVIL AND THE DOCTOR§ 1. Le Diable au XIXe Siècle ALTHOUGH the New and Reformed Palladium is said to have been founded so far back as the year 1870, it will be seen that at the close of the year 1891 very little had become public concerning it. It is difficult to conceive that an institution diffused so widely should have remained so profound a secret, when the many enemies of the Fraternity, who in their way are sleepless, would have seized eagerly upon the slightest hint of a directing centre of Masonry. Moreover, an association which initiates ladies is perhaps the last which one would expect to be unknown, for while the essential matter of a secret is undeniably safe with women, it is on condition that they are known to possess it. When the first hint was provided in 1891, Leo Taxil certainly lost no time, and Mgr. Meurin must have written his large treatise almost at fever speed. On the 20th of November in the same year, another witness came forward in the person of Dr Bataille, who speedily made it apparent that he was in a position to reveal everything about Universal Masonry and diabolism in connection therewith, because, unlike those who had preceded him, he possessed firsthand knowledge. If he had not himself beheld Lucifer in all his lurid glory, he had at least seen his messengers; he was an initiate of most secret societies which remotely or approximately are supposed to connect with Masonry; he had visited Charleston; he had examined the genuine Baphomet and the skull of Jacques de Molay; he was personally acquainted with Albert Pike, Phileas Walder, and Gallatin Mackey; he was, moreover, an initiate of the Palladium. He was evidently the missing witness who could unveil the whole mystery, and it would be difficult to escape from his conclusions. Finally, he was not a person who had come out of Masonry by a suspicious and sudden conversion; believing it to be evil, he had entered it with the intention of exposing it, had spent ten years in his researches, and now stepped forward with his results. The office of a spy is not usually clean or wholesome, but occasionally such services are valuable, and in some cases there may be certain ends which justify the use of means which would in other cases be questionable, so that until we can prove the contrary, it will be reasonable to accept the solemn declaration of this witness that he acted with a good intention, and that what he did was in the interests of the church and the world.
But, unfortunately, Dr Bataille has seen fit to publish his testimony in precisely that form which was most calculated to challenge the motive; it is a perfervid narrative issued in penny numbers with absurd illustrations of a highly sensational type; in a word, Le Diable au XIXe Siècle, which is the title given to his memoirs by the present witness, connects in manner and appearance with that class of literature which is known as the "penny dreadful." Some years ago the slums of London and Paris were inundated with romances published in this fashion and continued so long as they maintained a remunerative circulation; in many cases, they ended abruptly, in others they extended, like Le Diable au XIXe Siècle to hundreds of issues; they possess special characteristics which are known to experts in the by-ways of periodical literature, and all these are to be found in the narrative of Dr Bataille. No one in England would dream of publishing in this form a work which was to be taken seriously, nor am I acquainted with any precedent for it abroad. It is therefore a discreditable and unfortunate choice, but seeing that a section of the clerical press in France has agreed to pass over this point, and to accept Dr Bataille as a credible witness, and seeing also that he has been followed by other writers who must be taken into account and stand or fall with him, we must not regard his method as an excuse for refusing to hear him. Apart from him and his adherents there is indeed no first-hand evidence for Palladian Masonry. The present chapter will therefore contain a summary of what was seen and heard. by Dr Bataille in the course of his researches.
§ 2. Why Signor Carbuccia was Damned.