LAST on the list of our recent witnesses who have had a hand in creating the Question of Lucifer—not actually last in the order of time but the least in importance to our purpose—is M. A. C. de la Rive, author of "Child and Woman in Universal Freemasonry." He very fairly fulfils the presumption which is warranted by his name; he does not pretend to have come forth from the turbid torrent of Satanism and Masonry which is carrying multitudes into the abyss and effacing temples and thrones in its furious course. He has been content, like a sensible person, to stand on bank or brink and watch the rage and flow. He does not tell us anywhere in his narrative that he is himself a Mason; he has no personal acquaintance with Satan; he has not been guilty of magic, nor has he assisted at a Black Mass. He belongs to a wholly different order of witnesses, and he has produced what is in its way a genuine book, which does not pretend to be more than a careful compilation from rare but published sources, while we can all of us defer to the erudition of a Frenchman who has actually spent on collecting his materials the almost unheard-of space of twelve months. The result is correctly described as "grand in octavo, 746 pages," and is really an inflated piece of Masonic chronology, exceedingly ill-balanced, but, at the same time, undeniably useful. Beginning with the year 1730 it is brought down to 1894, and it is designed to demonstrate the existence at the present day of "adoptive lodges" wherein French gallantry once provided an inexpensive substitute for Masonry in which ladies had the privilege of participating. One of the most learned and illustrious of French Masonic writers, Jean-Marie Ragon, describes such androgyne or female lodges as "amiable institutions" invented by an unknown person some time previously to the year 1730, under the name of "mysterious amusements," which appears to describe them exactly, and one cannot be otherwise than astonished at the extraordinary gravity of nervous and well-intentioned persons who ascribe them such tremendous importance. Whereas they are the fringe of Freemasonry, writers like M. de la Rive persist in regarding them as its heart and centre, while it is also in such institutions that he and others of his calibre expect to discover Satanism. A celibate religion ever suspects the serpent in the neighbourhood of the woman. He discovers Satanism accordingly by reading it into handy passages and bracketing interpretations of his own when the text cannot otherwise be worked. Thus he gets oracles everywhere, and to compel Satan he finds the parenthesis quite as useful as the circle of black magic; it is a juggler's method, but among French anti-Masons it passes with high credit. The question of Female Freemasonry, apart from the Palladian Order, is quite outside our subject; its existence in Spain is a matter of public knowledge, and I have Mr Yarker's authority for stating that in certain countries, one of which is South America, the Rite of Memphis and Misraïm and the Ancient and Accepted Scotch Rite have both initiated women, the latter up to and including the 33rd degree. No adoptive lodges exist or would be tolerated in England within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge, and if it can be shown that the Palladian order initiates English women into Masonic secrets, that is performed surreptitiously and in defiance of our Masonic constitutions. As to the schismatic Grand Orient of France, whatever may be done in secret or devised in public upon this point, is of no importance here, but I should add that little credit, and deservedly, is attached in England to any of the so-called revelations which from time to time come over from Paris.
As regards M. de la Rive, apart from this subject, we are unable to extract from his pages anything that is fresh or informing on the subject of our inquiry. Despite the sensational picture which emblazons the title-page, where a full-length Baphomet is directing a décolletée Templar-Mistress through the pillars Jakin and Bohaz, there is not a single page in the whole vast compilation which shows any connection between Satanism and Masonry until towards the close, when an adroit tax is levied on the still vaster storehouse of Doctor Bataille. The author tells us clearly enough how adoptive Masonry arose, what rites were instituted, what rituals published, what is contained in these, and it is all solid and instructive. His facts, as already indicated, are borrowed facts, but they come from a variety of sources, and original research was scarcely to be expected from a writer against whom the avenues of knowledge are sealed by his lack of initiation. He concludes, however, that Adoptive Masonry is Satanic by intention, and that even the orphanages of the Fraternity are part of a profound and infamous design to ruin the children of humanity and to perfect proselytes for perdition.
The appearance of "Child and Woman in Universal Freemasonry" was hailed with acclamation in the columns of the Revue Mensuelle; it reviewed it by dreary instalments, and when reviewing was no longer possible, had recourse to tremendous citations; as a last effort, it supplied an exhaustive index to the whole work—a charitable and necessary action, for the twelve months’ toil of the author had expired without the accomplishment of this serviceable means of reference. And still, as occasion offers, it gives it bold advertisement.
The quaint methods of previous witnesses are amplified by M. de la Rive. Like Dr Bataille, he tells us that the Order of Oddfellows, though quite distinct from Palladism, is "essentially Luciferian," but he does not say why or how—instance of demonstrative method. He regards the Jews with holy hatred as chief ministers of Anti Christ, and characterises them as that nation of which Judas was "one of the most celebrated personages"—specimen recipe for the production of cheap odium in large quantities; but what about Jesus the Christ, whom men called King of the Jews? Fie, M. de la Rive! He informs us that Miss Alice Booth, daughter of General Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, is one of the foremost Palladists of England—instance of absurd slander which refutes itself.
M. de la Rive must therefore on all counts of his evidence be ruled out of court as a witness. No one denies the existence of Adoptive Lodges in a few countries and under special circumstances, and no sensible person attributes them any importance. Freemasonry as an institution is not suited to women any more than is cricket as a sport, but they have occasionally wished to play at it as they have wished to play at cricket; the opportunity has been offered them, but, except as the vogue of a moment, it has come to nothing. It is, moreover, of no importance to our inquiry if it can be proved that the true head of the Grand Lodge in England is the Princess of Wales and not her royal husband; while concerning the existence of Devil-Worship M. de la Rive has nothing new to tell us, and nothing at first-hand. I therefore ask leave to dismiss him, hoping that he will devote another laborious year to the reissue of Masonic rituals, authentic or not, at the extremely moderate price which he asks for his first volume; originals are scarce and costly, and invention is a pleasant faculty. The interpretation which he chooses to put on them is an interpretation of no consequence, and can never have misled any one who is in any sense worth misleading.
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