SOME few months after the first testimonies to Palladism appeared, under the signatures of the witnesses whom we have already examined, a fresh contribution was made to the literature of Diabolism in its connection with Masonry, by a work entitled "Freemasonry, the Synagogue of Satan." The exalted ecclesiastical position of the author, Mgr. Léon Meurin, S.J., Archbishop of Port Louis in Mauritius, gave new impetus and an aspect of increased importance to accusations preferred at the beginning, as we have seen, by comparatively obscure or directly suspected writers. The performance, moreover, was apparently so learned, in some respects so unlooked for, and withal so methodical, that it became subsequently a source of universal reference in anti-Masonic literature.
To this day M. Huysman remains dazzled, and to those in search of reliable information on the subject, he says:—"If you would be saved from the excesses of unseated reason, and from narratives of Dunciad dulness, try Mgr. Meurin; read the Archbishop on Palladism." Within certain limits the advice is well-grounded; the art sacerdotal in its application to Anti-Masonry may leave much to be desired, but as a specimen of the superior criticism obtaining upon this subject in higher circles, it offers a strong contrast to the general tone and touch among the rank and file of the accusers. We are, in fact, warranted upon every consideration, in expecting a valuable contribution to our knowledge; but, I may say at once, that this expectation is unfortunately not realised. With a keen philosophical anticipation one turns the pages of "Freemasonry, the Synagogue of Satan," admires their beautiful typography, lingers with delight over the elaborate appendix of allegorical engravings, and experiences a brief sense of intellectual inferiority in the presence of such formidable sections, and so portentous a table of contents. It should be impossible to speak of the Archbishop without a mental genuflexion, but it remains true that our expectation is not realised. It will become us, at the same time, to speak as tenderly as possible of a pious and learned prelate who has now passed where Masons cease from Satanising and the thirty-three degrees are at rest. But it must be said plainly that the contents of his very large volume offer little to our purpose.
By the nature of his episcopal charge Mgr. Meurin had special facilities for ascertaining how men diabolise; the island of Mauritius has enjoyed many privileges of Infernus. There we lose sight of the Rosicrucians on the road to India; there the Comte de Chazal initiated Dr Bacstrom, and all this, of course, is diabolical from the standpoint of Anti-Masonry. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that Mgr. Meurin, in a series of wonderful conferences, has exhibited the superstitions of Mauritius, and, accepting the test of M. Huysman, the existence of Black Magic in this French colony is proved to hilt and handle by wholesale Eucharistic depreciations, the sacrifice of cats at midnight upon the altars of rifled churches, and the discovery of the blood of the victims in the chalices used for the elements. The Church does not stir in the matter; it deplores and prays, which seems, in some respects, an ineffectual method of protecting the latens Deitas. If the Eucharist be liable to profanation, why reserve the Eucharist? Surely the negligence which makes such profanations possible is the offer of opportunity to Deicide, and great carelessness is cousin to condonation. However this may be, Mgr. Meurin seems to have been quite the authority to whom one would naturally refer for specific information upon devil-worship as it obtains within his own diocese, even if apart from Masonry. But he is too erudite to concern himself with individual facts, and he so far transcends diocesan limitations as to forget Mauritius completely. Another witness, who perhaps never visited Port Louis, affirms that the Central Directory of the Palladium for Africa is established in that place, but the prelate of Port Louis, from whom the information would have been precious, seems acquainted with nothing of the kind. The weapon of the mitred warrior is, at the same time, a sufficiently portentous thesis, as follows:—that Freemasonry is connected with Satanism, by the fact that it has the Jews for its true authors, and the Jewish Kabbalah for the key of its mysteries; that the Kabbalah is magical, idolatrous, and essentially diabolical; that Freemasonry, considered as a religion, is therefore a judaized devil-worship, and considered as a political institution, it is an engine designed for the attainment of universal empire, which has been the dream of the Jews for centuries.
My readers will be inclined to consider that such a hypothesis, though it may square with the Satanism of Adriano Lemmi, who, as we shall see, is accused of circumcision, can hardly be brought into harmony with the universal Masonry of Albert Pike, as the latter was neither Jew nor Judaiser. But common hatred of the Catholic Church is, in the opinion of Mgr. Meurin, a sufficient bond to identify the interests of both parties. Let us start, therefore, with the archbishop's own hypothesis, which he compresses into a single sentence: "To encircle the brow of the Jew with the royal diadem, and to place the kingdom of the world at his feet—such is the true end of Freemasonry." And again: "The Jewish Kabbalah is the philosophical basis and Key of Freemasonry." Once more: "The end of Freemasonry is universal dominion, and Freemasonry is a Jewish institution."
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. This fact is the key to his entire work, and the sole credit that is due to him is the skilful appearance of erudition which he has given to a shallow performance, and the natural mental elegance which has prevented him from being noisy and violent.
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 Anti-Masonic 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.
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