Cagliostro in Antiquity
Beginning on page 170 is down in more than needed volume the wretched story of Cagliostro, and now that this glossy charlatan, the gold frogs on his clothes and the self-invented title on his visiting card , has become a ghost in which no living interest remains there would be no warrant to add further facts to a surfeit of facts were it not that the article on page 170 does not contain one fact which was not available before Bros. Rylands and Firebrace published their great two-volume history of the Lodge of Antiquity.
This fact is important, and is here emphasized as such, because it sets the records straight as regards what regular Freemasonry felt about Cagliostro When Cagliastro was bodily present.
Because he had been made a Mason in a French speaking Lodge in London (see page170) Cagliostro felt he had the right to visit Antiquity, and did so on the night of Nov. 1, 1786. This year fell in that (for Antiquity ) unhappy period when there were two Antiquity Lodges; one under the leadership of William Preston and comprising the larger and most solid portion of the membership and which was acting as head of the Grand Lodge of all England South of the River Trent; the other "the Northouck Lodge," so-called from the leader who had occasioned the division. Cagliostro was accompanied by a train of his friends, some of them, had only the Brethren known it at the time, not regular Masons but members of Cagliostro's Clandestine Egyptian Rite, which he had invented as a scheme for exploiting Masons, and made, up, as were his other claims and titles, out of his own head. A newspaper reported the meeting, in substance, thus: A few at least among "Northouck's members" resented the charlatan's presence, and one of them, Bro. Marsh, found ingenious means of saving his Lodge from a compromising and embarrassing contretemps.
Bro. Marsh, called upon for a song, with a devilishly witty ingenuity substituted an act, which portrayed a "traveling physician" (a quack) and played it out at Cagliostro's elbow. The effect was devastating; the audience (except for the visitors) was in an uproar of laughter. Cagliostro withdrew.
This was a cartoon in prose, and the Lodge passed a formal Resolution to condemn it as a misrepresentation. What actually occurred in the Meeting the Minums do not tell, but whatever it was the "Count's" prestige, gold frogs and all, was ruined Masonically.
(The Trowbridge book referred to on page171 continues to be among the best-read, but to it may be added other titles: Romantic Rascals, by Charles J. Finger; MacBride; New York. Count Cagliostro, by Constantin Photiades; Rider & Co. ; 1932. Le Matre Inconnu Cagliostro, by Dr. Marc Haven; Dorbon-Aire; Paris; a very elaborate bibliography. See Vol. II, by Firebrace, in Reccrds of the Lodge of Anliquily.) Aside from manufacturing his spurious Egyplian Rite, Cagliostro had no part in regular Freemasonry except to join a French-speaking London Lodge. What the Inquisition found out about him nobody knows, but the trial itself shocked France by exposing the sinister methods still in use by the Roman hierarchy, and in its total effects, and as precipitating a nation-wide social crisis, ranks with the Dreyfus, Rasputin (Russian), and Taxil cases. Dumas wrote a novel about Cagliostro in The Diamond Necklace; and Frank King collects a number of illuminating facts in The Last of the Sorcerers. To a Masonic community as far from Paris as is American Masonry there is not much of either profit or comfort in the case, unless it be that at this distance it lays a red underline beneath the danger confronting any Masonic Jurisdictions which permit degree making and degree mongering, disguised as Masonry, to go unchecked or unchallenged. Bro. Marsh's performance was a commentary not altogether malapropos.
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