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Ragon, J. M.

One of the most distinguished Masonic writers of France. His contemporaries did not hesitate to call him "the most learned Freemason of the nineteenth century." He was born in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, most probably at Bruges, in Belgium, where in 1803 he was initiated in the Lodge Runion des Amis du Nord, and subsequently assisted in the foundation of the Lodge and Chapter of Vrais Amis in the same city. On his removal to Paris he continued his devotion to Freemasonry and was the founder in 1805 of the celebrated Lodge of Les Trinosophes. In that Lodge he delivered, in 1818, a course of lectures on ancient and modern initiations, which twenty years afterward were repeated at the request of the Lodge, and published in 1841, under the title of Cours Philosophique et Interpratif ales Initiations Anciennes et Moderns.

This work was printed with the express permission of the Grand Orient of France, but three years after that body denounced its second edition for containing some additional matter Rebold charges this act to the petty passions of the day, and twenty-five years after the Grand Orient made ample reparation in the honor that it paid to the memory of Ragon. In 1818 and 1819, he was editor-in-chief of the periodical published during those years under the title of Hermes, on Archives Maonniques. In 1853, he published Orthodoxie Maonnique, a work abounding in historical information, although some of his statements are inaccurate. In 1861, he published the Tuileur Gnral de la Franc-Maonnerie, ou Manuel de l'Initi: a book not merely confined to the details of Degrees, but which is enriched with many valuable and interesting notes. Ragon died at Paris about the year 1866.

In the preface to his Orthodoxie, he had announced his intention to crown his Masonic labors by writing a work to be entitled Les Fastes Initiatiques, in which he proposed to give an exhaustive view of the Ancient Mysteries, of the Roman Colleges of Architects and their successors, the building corporations of the Middle Ages, and of the institution of Modern or Philosophic Freemasonry at the beginning of the eighteenth century. This was to constitute the first volume.

The three following volumes were to embrace a history of the Order and of all its Rites in every country. The fifth Volume was to be appropriated to the investigation of other secret associations, more or less connected with Freemasonry; and the sixth and last volume was to contain 3 General Tiler or Manual of all the known rites and Degrees. Such a work would have been an inestimable boon to the Masonic student, but Ragon unfortunately began it too late in life. He did not live to complete it, and in 1868 the unfinished manuscript was purchased, by the Grand Orient of Franee, from his heirs for a thousand francs.

It was destined to be quietly deposited in the archives of that Body, because, as it was confessed, no Freemason could be found in France who had ability enough to supply its lacunae or missing material and prepare it for the press. Ragon's theory of the origin of Freemasonry was that its primitive idea is to be found in the initiations of the Ancient Mysteries, but that for its present form it is indebted to Elias Ashrnole, who fabricated it in the seventeenth century.

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