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Philip, Duke of Wharton

Born in England, 1698, of an illustrious family; received a splendid education and on June 25, 1722, was elected to succeed the Duke of Montague as Grand Master of Freemasons, Doctor Desaguliers acting as Deputy Grand Master. The Constitutions, 1723, has a frontispiece showing two figures understood to be the respective dukes, Montague presenting the Roll of Constitutions and the Compasses to Wharton. A year later he waived the custom of naming his successor and left it to the Grand Lodge to make its own choice, the Earl of Dalkeith. The Earl named Doctor Desaguliers for his Deputy. On the question "that the Deputy nominated by the Earl of Dalkeith be approved," the motion was declared carried by a vote of forty-three to forty-two. Later in the proceedings, the Grand Master said he had some doubt upon this decision but was overruled. As a result the Duke of Wharton departed from the Hall without ceremony.

His interest in Freemasonry did not cease with the above experience. According to Lane's Masonic Records the Duke of Wharton in "his own Apartments in Madrid" founded the first "Warranted or constituted Lodge in Foreign Parts by the Grand Lodge of England." He pursued an inconsistent political career, in 1798 he joined the Roman Catholic Church, although he once wrote a poem with the lines "And give us grace for to defy the Devil and the Pope," made several attempts to assume active work for the Pretender, tried to reinstate himself with his Government, and, failing that, he again directed his pen against the English Parliament, which retaliated by outlawing him. Eventually reduced to poverty, having spent his large fortune recklessly, he died in the garb of a Franciscan monk in 1731, when but thirty- three years of age. Perhaps the most notable peculiarities of this able yet unstable exemplar of flickering brilliance are best cataloged in the following suggestive lines from Alexander Pope's Moral Essays, Epistle 1:

Wharton, the scorn and wonder of our days, Whose ruling passion was the lust of praise; Born with whatever could win it from the wise, Women and fools must like him, or he dies Though wondering senates hung on all he spoke The club must hail him master of the joke.... His passion still, to covet general praise, His life, to forfeit it a thousand ways; A constant bounty which no friend has made; An angel tongue, which no man can persuade A fool, with more of wit than half mankind, Too rash for thought, for action too refined; A tyrant to the wife his heart approves: A rebel to the king he loves He dies, sad outcast of each church and state, And, harder still! flagitious, yet not great, Ask you why Wharton broke through every rule? 'Twas all for fear the knaves should call him fool.

(See Lewis Melville's Philip, Duke of Wharton, 1913, John Lane; also R. F. Gould's Masonic Celebwrities, and an article by R I. Clegg, American Freemason, 1914, page 282.)

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