Devil-Worship in France/Chapter X

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To Signor Domenico Margiotta we owe the most explicit account of the great compact between Mazzini and Albert Pike which produced the New and Reformed Palladium. With this institution he does not attempt to connect the anterior order founded in 1730; for him the possession of the Templar Baphomet explains the name which it received, and the passage of that idol from its original custodians he leaves in the same uncertainty as Dr Bataille. This difficulty apart, in Signor Margiotta the question of Lucifer has received a most important witness; he is the most recent, the most illustrious, and masonically the most decorated of all. If I add that he is in one respect to be included among the most virulent, I do not necessarily detract from his value. So far as one can possibly be aware, he is a man of unimpeachable integrity, who gives us every opportunity to identify him, heraldically by his arms and emblazonments, historically by an account of his family, personally by extracts from the Dizionario Biografico, Masonically by a full enumeration of all his dignities, including photographs of his most brilliant diplomas and printed correspondence from Grand Masters and other exalted potentates of the great Fraternity. It would be difficult, however, in the last respect, to discover many more exalted than himself, for before his demission he was Secretary of the Lodge Savonarola of Florence; Venerable of the Lodge Giordano Bruno of Palmi; Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33rd degree, of the Ancient and Accepted Scotch Rite; Sovereign Prince of the Order (33rd .·., 90th .·., 95th .·.,) of the Rite of Memphis and Misraïm; Acting Member of the Sovereign Sanctuary of the Oriental Order of Memphis and Misraïm of Naples; Inspector of the Misraïm Lodges of the Calabrias and of Sicily; Honorary Member of the National Grand Orient of Haiti; Acting Member of the Supreme Federal Council of Naples; Inspector-General of all the Masonic Lodges of the three Calabrias; Grand Master, ad vitam, of the Oriental Masonic Order of Misraïm or Egypt (90th degree) of Paris; Commander of the Order of Knights-Defenders of Universal Masonry; Honorary Member, ad vitam, of the Supreme General Council of the Italian Federation of Palermo; Permanent Inspector and Sovereign Delegate of the Grand Central Directory of Naples for Europe (Universal High-grade Masonry), and, according to his latest portrait, Member of the New Reformed Palladium. That such a luminary could withdraw from the firmament of the Fraternity and not take after him the third part of the stars of heaven, above all that the Italian Grand Master could have the effrontery to affirm that he had never heard of him and had only discovered who he was after some investigation, are matters for astonishment to the simple.

Professor Margiotta returned to the church of his childhood in the autumn of 1894, and the news of his conversion is said to have so overwhelmed the head-quarters of Italian Freemasonry at Rome that the annual rejoicings upon the 20th of September, when Rome became the Capital of United Italy and when Universal Freemasonry was instituted in 1870, were incontinently suspended. My readers will not attach a high degree of accuracy to this statement, for there does not appear in reality to have been any convulsion of the Order; there was indeed more rejoicing in Jerusalem than lamentation in the tents of Kedron. Signor Margiotta was the recipient of flattering congratulations from eminent prelates; the bishop of Grenoble salutes him as "my dear friend"; the patriarch of Jerusalem invites him to take courage, for he is doing high service to humanity, labouring under the scourge of the Masonic plague; the bishop of Montauban expresses his lively sentiment and entire devotion; the archbishop of Aix regards the revelations as of great importance to the Church; the bishop of Limoges praises and blesses the books of M. Margiotta; the bishop of Mende does likewise, his enthusiasm taking shape in superlatives; the Cardinal-Archbishop of Bordeaux applauds the intention and the effort; the bishops of Tarentaise, of Oran, of Pamiers, of Annecy, take up the chant in turn, and his Holiness the Pope himself sends his Apostolic Benediction over the seal of Peter.

Why did Signor Margiotta abandon Palladism and Masonry? It was not because these institutions were devoted to the cultus of Lucifer, for I do not gather that he was scandalised by that fact at the time when it appears to have become known to him. It was not because sacrilege and public indecency characterised the rituals of initiation in the case of the Palladian Order, for he does not zealously press this charge. It was not, so far as can be traced, because he trembled for the safety of his soul; he does not provide us with a sickly and suspicious narrative of the sentiments which led to his conversion or the interior raptures which followed it; he does not mention that he was the recipient of a special grace or a sudden illustration; he ceased to believe in Lucifer as the good God because that being had permitted his favoured Freemasonry to pass under the "supreme direction of a despised personage who is the last of rogues." In other words, Signor Domenico Margiotta has a strong loathing for Signor Adriano Lemmi; he has long and earnestly desired that Freemasonry should "vomit him" from her breast, but as this has not come to pass, Signor Margiotta decided to vomit himself. Now, when a man embraces religion, he is supposed to forgive his enemies, to do good to them that hate him, to avoid the propagation of scandals, and when he cannot speak well to say nothing; but this is not the special quality of grace which attaches to the second trente-troisième, who has come out of Freemasonry to expose and revile the order.

The two narratives which comprise the exposure in question are respectively entitled, "Adriano Lemmi: Supreme Chief of Freemasonry," and "Palladism, the Cultus of Satan-Lucifer." Both these books contain a violent impeachment of the Italian Grand Master, which, if it concerned us, would not convince us. Its main points go to show that in the days of his boyhood, Lemmi was guilty of an embezzlement at Marseilles, for which he is said to have suffered at the hands of justice; that he led the life of a Guzman d'Alfarache, in itself sufficiently romantic to condone an offence which should have been effaced with its penalty, supposing the allegation to be true; that he subsequently found himself at Constantinople, where he was thrown among Jews, and is there charged by his accuser with the commission of a still more terrible crime; he, in fact, became a proselyte of the gate, and suffered the rite of circumcision. Later on he is depicted as a political conspirator, an agent and friend of Mazzini, Kossuth, and the patriots of the Revolution, in connection with whom he is made responsible for innumerable villainies which connect him with the apostleship of dynamite. We may pass lightly over these matters, nor need we delay to inquire after what manner Adriano Lemmi may have amassed the wealth which he possesses, nor what questions on the subject of a monopoly in tobacco may have been raised or dropped in the Italian Parliament. All these points, including Signor Lemmi himself, are as little known as they are of little moment in England, and they are wholly outside our subject, except in so far as they exhibit the methods of his accuser, which, indeed, are so objectionable in their nature as to go far towards exonerating their object. Signor Margiotta, at any rate, puts himself so clearly in the wrong, and is altogether so virulent, as to place the inference of personal animosity almost in the region of certitude; one is therefore tempted to accept the explanation offered by the victim, that the Marseilles scandal turns upon a mistaken identity, and his explicit denial that he ever underwent the rite of Jewish initiation. Furthermore, I believe that I shall represent the opinion of tolerant Englishmen when I say that to insult and abuse a man for adopting another faith, however opposed to our own, and even ridiculous in itself, is an odious method in controversy, and for myself I see little to choose between a proselyte of the gate, a renegade Mason, and a demitted Roman Catholic.

The true secret of the Margiotta-cum-Lemmi embroilment does not, I think, transpire in the narratives with which we are concerned; I mean to say that there is an eluding element which must, however, be assumed, if we are to account reasonably for the display of such extreme rancour. An honourable man may object to the jurisdiction of a person whom he regards as a convicted thief, but he does not usually pursue him with the violence of personal hatred. Now, in 1888 Signor Margiotta became a candidate for the Italian Parliament, and he attributes his failure to the hostility of Lemmi, who, prompted by Gallophobe tendencies, brought his influence to bear against a person who was friendly to the French nation. I submit that this assists us to understand the animus of the converted Mason and the lengths to which it has taken him. In all other respects Signor Margiotta displays the most perfect frankness, and does his best upon every occasion to substantiate his statements by formidable documentary evidence. I repeat therefore, that, much as we may regret his acrimony, he remains a most important witness to the existence of Universal Masonry, the existence of the Reformed Palladium, the transfer of the Masonic Supremacy at the death of Albert Pike to the Italian Grand Master, and the split in the camp which followed. He claims also that he is personally acquainted with Miss Diana Vaughan; he extols her innumerable virtues in pages of eloquent writing; he even goes so far as to photograph the envelope of a registered letter which he posted at Palmi, in Calabria, addressed to that lady in London. He indirectly substantiates the narrative of Carbuccia by a long account of his personal dealings with Giambattista Pessina, descending into the most curious particulars; he publishes the secret alphabet of the Palladium, specimens of litanies addressed to the good god Lucifer, and hymns of equivocal tendency attributed to Albert Pike. Finally, he fully admits the Satanic character of perfect Masonic initiation, and contributes a long chapter to swell our recent knowledge upon the subject of "Apparitions of Satan."

As regards Universal Masonry, when announcing his demission and conversion to an officer of the Lodge, Giordano Bruno, at Palmi, Signor Margiotta reveals to him that he and his brethren are ruled, without knowing it, by a supreme rite, and that he, Margiotta himself, Venerable of the Lodge referred to, being a true elect and perfect initiate, constituted the link of connection between the ordinary Masonry of Palmi and this central and unsuspected power. On the same occasion he addressed a long communication to Miss Vaughan, in which he claims that he has ever acted as an honest Mason, faithful to the orthodoxy thereof, and having the cause of Charleston at heart. Now, the circumstances which occasioned these statements, and the good faith which seems to characterise them, are presumptive testimony to their truth; in the absence of any evidence, and merely on à priori considerations, it would be intolerable to suggest that their author, while advertising his changed views upon a solemn subject, was guilty of wilful deception.

The centralisation of Universal Masonry in an order known as the New and Reformed Palladium, with Albert Pike at its head, is supported by the citation of a document dated the 12th of September 1874, and being an authority from Charleston for the constitution of a secret federation of Jewish Freemasons, with a centre at Hamburg, under the title of Sovereign Patriarchal Council. It is not the only document emanating from the "Dogmatic Directory" which is printed by Signor Margiotta, but the others are not entirely new, having some of them previously appeared in the memoirs of Dr Bataille. The Luciferian opinions of Albert Pike are exhibited plainly in a letter addressed by him to Signor Rapisardi, famous in all Italy for his poem of "Lucifer," which Signor Margiotta affirms to have been written at the suggestion of the American Grand Master.

But possibly the strongest evidence is less of a documentary kind; the minute account of the warfare waged by Signor Margiotta and other Italian Masons, in which they were helped by Miss Vaughan, to prevent the accession of Lemmi to the sovereign pontificate upon the death of Albert Pike and the transfer of the centre to Rome, seems to bear upon its surface every reasonable sign that it cannot be an invented narrative. Indeed, the first impulse upon reading the testimony of this witness leaps irresistibly to conclude that the denial of the main allegations is no longer possible. A searching analysis does, however, reveal sufficient grounds to warrant a different judgment. In the first place, whereas Signor Margiotta proclaims the supreme power of the Reformed Palladium, the documents which he cites in his support are, for the most part, documents of the Ancient and Accepted Scotch Rite, about the immense jurisdiction of which there is no question. In the second place, the authority of Albert Pike, as it is seen in most of the documents, is in virtue, not of the Palladium, but of his position as Supreme Chief of the Supreme Mother-Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scotch Rite. What Signor Margiotta terms Universal Freemasonry is not the Palladium at all, but simply the Scotch Rite; one of his own diplomas, reproduced at page 120 of "Adriano Lemmi," is proof positive of this; and in view of the universal diffusion of this rite, no one would deny it the name. In the third place, the documents of Signor Margiotta as regards the Palladium are not to be trusted, because in one instance a gross imposition has been practised provably upon him, and he may have been deceived in others. Hence, although he may be a member of a society termed the New and Reformed Palladium, it may not possess the jurisdiction or the history to which it pretends. In the fourth place I deny that the Grand Central Directories of which I have given particulars, derived from Signor Margiotta, in my second chapter, are in any sense Palladian directories. That of Naples for Europe is said to have twenty-seven triangular provinces, one of which is Manchester, and Mr John Yarker is said to be Provincial Grand Master. Now, I have Mr Yarker's own written testimony that he never heard of the Palladium until the report of it came over from France. Mr Yarker is a member of the 33rd degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scotch Rite, and he is also the Grand Master of the only legitimate body of the Supreme Oriental Rite of Memphis and Misraïm in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Moreover, in most Masonic countries of the world he is either Honorary Grand Master, or Honorary Member in the 95° of Memphis, 90° of Misraïm, and 33° Scottish Rite, the last honorary membership including bodies under the Pike régime as well as its opponents. He is perfectly well acquainted with the claim of the Charleston Supreme Council to supreme power in Masonry, and that it is a usurpation founded on a forgery. In a letter which he had occasion to address some time since to a Catholic priest on this very subject, he remarks:—"The late Albert Pike of Charleston, as an able Mason, was undoubtedly a Masonic Pope, who kept in leading strings all the Supreme Grand Councils of the world, including the Supreme Grand Councils of England, Ireland, and Scotland, the first of which includes the Prince of Wales, Lord Lathom, and other peers, who were in alliance with him, and in actual submission. Its introduction into America arose from a temporary schism in France in 1762, when Lacorne, a disreputable panderer to the Prince of Clermont, issued a patent to a Jew named Stephen Morin. Some time after 1802, a pretended Constitution was forged and attributed to Frederick the Great of Prussia. This constitution gives power to members of the 33rd degree to elect themselves to rule all Masonry, and this custom is followed … The good feeling of Masonry has been perpetually destroyed in every country where the Ancient and Accepted Rite exists, and it must be so in the very nature of its claims and its laws.” Mr Yarker has no connection with a supreme dogmatic directorate in any other form than this disputed but perfectly well-known assumption of the Charleston Supreme Council. The term “Supreme Dogmatic Directorate” was not used by Pike, and the confidence enjoyed by the American was never extended to Lemmi, though he may have desired it. Instead, therefore, of all Masonry being ruled by a central authority unknown to the majority of Masons, we have simply a bogus claim which has no effect outside the Scottish Rite, and of which all Masons may know if they will be at the pains to ascertain. When Signor Margiotta informed the officer of the Giordano Bruno Lodge that he secretly represented a central and unknown authority, it is in this sense that we must understand him—that is to say, he represented the interests of the Charleston Supreme Council. Hence the revelations concerning "Universal Masonry" are an exaggeration founded upon a fact, and the Palladian Order, of which Signor Margiotta tells us that he is a member, is at any rate not what it pretends. It has doubtless imposed on him by means of forged documents, as also upon Leo Taxil, and M. Adolphe Ricoux. The writings which it fathers upon Albert Pike, and quoted by Signor Margiotta, as in other cases, are stolen from Éliphas Lévi, the so-called alphabet of the Palladium included. The documentary pièce de résistance upon which our author relies as evidence for the existence of an international Masonic organisation is a certain voûte de Protestation, on the part of a so-called Mother-Lodge Lotus of England, secret Temple of Oxford Street, against the transfer of the Dogmatic Directory from Charleston to Rome, the "Standing Committee of Protestation" being Alexander Graveson, Provincial Delegate of Philadelphia, U.S.A., V. F. Palacios, Provincial Delegate of Mexico, and Diana Vaughan, Provincial Delegate of New York and Brooklyn. Signor Domenico Margiotta has been grossly deceived over this document. What he prints as the English original in guarantee of good faith, side by side with a French translation, is a clumsy and ridiculous specimen of "English as she is wrote," and the French is really the original. I append some choice specimens:—"To the Most Illustrious, Most Puissant, Most Lightened Brothers … composing, by right of Ancient and Members for life, the Most Serene Grand College of Emerited Masons." Here the underlined passages are a Frenchman's method of interpreting into English Très Eclairés Frères, à titre d'Anciens et de membres à vie, and Maçons Emérites. Again: "The protesters numbered six-and-twenty, including twenty-five sovereing delegates present at the deed, and one sovereign delegate, who could not stand by (ne peut être présent), but the substitute of which wisely and prudently abstained from the vote at the first turn (au premier scrutin) and threw a blank ticket at the second, expound (verb governed by protesters) the acts and situation thence disastrously resulting for our holy cause."

Once more: "The present protesting vault aims at the two ballots (vise les deux scrutins), and requests to be proceeded urgently to their annulment." Again: "The Charleston's Brothers … have not acted in such a manner as to forfeit the whole Masonry's esteem … The direction … has not discontinued to prove foresight … It was injust to transfer," &c., and so on for sixteen printed pages which certainly deserve to rank among the curiosities of literature. This is the precious document which appears over the signatures of Alexander Graveson and Diana Vaughan, after which I submit to my readers that Signor Domenico Margiotta may be dismissed with all his file of papers, not as himself deceiving, but as singularly liable to deception, of which he has otherwise given us several signal instances. For example he believes himself to have enjoyed the high privilege of beholding the Prince of Darkness upon two separate occasions. The first was in 1885 at Castelnuovo-Garfagnana in a beautiful old walled garden, belonging to a high-grade Mason named Orestes Cecchi, a fast friend of Margiotta. The time was the forenoon, and the two Masons were smoking under the shade of green trees surrounded by floral delights. Margiotta was a spiritualist and a follower of Allan Kardec; Cecchi had a turn for the Vedas and the occultism of the Eastern world; they were chatting upon the possibility of transmigration; the one doubted, the other affirmed; Cecchi, to convince his companion, informed him that he possessed a familiar who invariably appeared to him under the form of a goat, but he had a look in his eye which proved positively that he was the Grand Architect of the Universe! That there might be no doubt about the matter Cecchi called his familiar, who appeared suddenly, and joyfully caressed his master, at whose command he subsequently licked the hand of the overwhelmed Signor Margiotta, and it became red and painful. Cecchi playfully chided the apparition for not assuming human form, and hinted at the propriety of doing so, but the animal knowingly nodded and incontinently scurried away. Now, I put it to my readers, that Cecchi was exploiting his friend, that a domesticated animal appeared at the summons of his owner in a wooded garden, and that Signor Margiotta is fooling when he pretends to believe that it was the devil.

The second experience was at Naples under the roof of Pessina, about half-past ten in the evening, after a Lodge meeting of the Misraïm rite. Then and there, as a matter of cordial good fellowship, the accommodating Imperial Grand Master evoked a devil to give evidence of his actuality to Margiotta, who, in spite of the episode of the goat, still posed as a doubting Thomas. It was managed by means of a whisky-bottle, out of which, after certain invocations and magical ceremonies, a vapour rose mysteriously, and resolved itself into a human figure, wearing a golden crown, with a brilliant star in the middle. According to the picture which accompanies this delicious narrative, the apparition had the wings of a bat and a tail of the bovine class. It was Beffabuc, the familiar of the magician, who begged him to enlighten the sceptic, but the latter, according to the apparition, was protected by a higher power and would never be persuaded to believe in him. Signor Margiotta gives the names of all who were present at the evocation—twelve members of the 33rd degree, to say nothing of Misraïm dignities. I submit, however, that the episode of the bottle would split the rock of Peter, that the absence of Signor Pessina for twenty minutes previous to the performance, eked out with a little ventriloquism, and some Pepper accessories would explain much, and that there is also another hypothesis which I will leave to the discernment of my readers, and to which I lean personally.

Our witness, in any case, would not be a persona grata to the Society for Psychical Research. As he is violent in his enmities, so is he gullible in marvels. His impeachment of Adriano Lemmi must be ruled completely out of court; his thaumaturgic experiences are paltry trickeries; his account of Albert Pike is largely borrowed matter; the magical practices which he attributes to Pessina are derived from the Little Albert and other well known grimoires; the most that follows from his narrative is that certain Italian Masons, probably atheists at heart, pose as partisans of Satan simply to accentuate their derisions of all religious ideas, much after the manner of Voltaire in some of his cynical correspondence. It is a continental form of pleasantry, and an artistic experiment in blasphemy which is taken seriously by the unwise.

I need hardly add that the story of Aut Diabolus aut Nihil, which is accepted literally by Doctor Bataille, is also the subject of reverential belief on the part of Signor Margiotta, and as an illustration of his classifying talent, he terms Adriano Lemmi a Mormon because, having obtained a divorce, he, in the course of time, contracted another marriage. Furthermore, the very strong testimony which Signor Margiotta gives to Dr Bataille, directly by eulogium and indirectly by citation, as also the intimate relations which he maintained with Diana Vaughan, make his value as a witness of Lucifer dependent, to a large extent, upon the credibility of these persons, with consequences which will shortly appear. Lastly, his own personal credibility seems seriously at stake when he talks of "triangular provinces." He, and those connected with him, can alone explain what that means; they have never existed in Masonry. Mr Yarker, who, he says, is Grand Master of such a province, has never heard the expression. Mr R. S. Brown, Grand Secretary of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland, also denies all knowledge of the one which, according to Signor Margiotta, is located at Edinburgh.