The Freemasons' Guide and Compendium
First published in Great Britain 1950 By George. G. Harrap & Co.
Ltd182 High Holborn, London, W.C.1
The Jacobite Tradition
The possibility of English freemasonry having been subjected to Jacobite influence during the few decades immediately following 1717 has often been advanced. Many theories have been ventilated, with much conjecture, little fact; with much controversy, little agreement. There have been authors who have been downright in their statements that the freemasonry of the 'Antients'-the body that set up its own Grand Lodge in opposition to the Premier Grand Lodge-was the freemasonry of the Roman Catholics and the Stuarts-that is, of the Irish and Scottish followers of the Stuart cause who fled to France about 1688, whereas the founders of the first Grand Lodge were Protestant and Hanoverian. Others have pointed out that Jacobite influence was dying down at the time when the 'Antients' rose to strength, but they still appear to entertain the idea that the Jacobite party came into freemasonry, with or without the help of the Roman Catholics, with a view to using it as a mask for their efforts in the Stuart cause.
A peculiar twist is given by relating the Jacobite tradition to the so-called 'Scots Masonry,' the theory being that, while freemasonry recommended itself to the Jacobite movement as providing convenient, safe, and secret meeting-places for its adherents, it was obvious that freemasonry was open to Jacobites and Hanoverians alike. It was therefore decided to create a freemasonry apart, "to be made subservient to the cause they had so much at heart, with ceremonies and secrets peculiar to itself and jealously guarded from even the Masters of Craft masonry." So, it is alleged, the Jacobites brought into existence the degrees known in England as 'Scots masonry' and in France as 'Maçon Écossois,' 'Maitre Écossois,' 'Maçonnerie Écossois.
It is true that there are references to Scots lodges and Scots masonry in the early speculative days , and no one has yet been able to tell us exactly what they mean. In various Continental cities, too, these Scots lodges were founded. But there does not appear to be any ground for believing that the degree came from Scotland. Whatever 'Scots masonry' was, it was fairly certainly French, and mention of it continued to occur and recur in lodge minutes and other records through the eighteenth century. For example, when in 1777 the famous Cagliostro was initiated in the Esperance Lodge at the King's Head, in Gerrard Street, Soho, London, he is said to have passed through the four degrees of "apprentice, companion [fellow?], Master and Scotch Master." While we may conjecture that the degree was a mixture of Royal Arch and Mark, what it really was we simply do not know.
One author has spoken of "definite documentary evidence of the existence of a Jacobite Grand Lodge of London," but it is doubtful whether masonic writers in general are aware of any such evidence.
A plausible (perhaps for that reason, doubtful) suggestion is that Gaelic words meaning, or apparently meaning, 'widow's son' were brought into masonry by the Jacobites, it being especially noteworthy that both the Old and the Young Pretenders were widows' sons, but Gaelic scholars do not accept it, based, as it is, on the likeness between the sounds of quite different words. But it has been quite seriously put forward that "the untimely death of Hiram, Abif" is an allusion to the execution of Charles I, and that the attempt to raise the Master's body is an allusion to an attempt to raise the young Prince Charles from the grave of exile to the throne of England. To add a 'convincing' touch it is pointed out that cas is Gaelic for 'a branch of a tree,' and also for 'a young man, a lad ,'and that until about 1745, when the Pretender's hopes were finally brought to naught, it was the cassia plant that was supposed to mark the Master's grave.
Thus in Prichard's Masonry Dissected (1730) we have:
Q. What is a mason nam'd?
Cassia is my name, and from a just and perfect lodge I came.
And here are some coincidences. The sprig of cassia at the head of a grave became the sprig of acacia about 1745, the year of the Jacobite rising. 'Acacia' is a Greek word meaning 'innocence' or
'blamelessness.' Among the score or so of names given to the assassins of the Master is that of Romvel, which is supposed to be a palpable hit at Cromwell, whom the Jacobites regarded as the murderer of Charles I. A warning: the more interesting and plausible the stories relating to the Jacobite legend are made, the more they must be treated with suspicion!
The fact that Jacobite allusions to the Pretenders occasionally reflected the idea of the 'widow's son' has been overstressed by masonic writers. The parallel of the 'widow's son' may have occurred
as the purest accident. How, for example, does the informed reader regard the allusion in the following instance? Queen Anne had a cook, Joseph Centlivre, whose wife Susannah, a playwright, produced between the years1700 and 1722 a score of comedies. One of them, A Gotham Election, contains this dialogue between a Jacobite mayor and a messenger coming from the Old Pretender:
THE MAYOR: Well, and how does all our friends on t'other side the water, ha? Well, I Hope?
MESSENGER: Oh fort bien, Monsieur Mayor, and Monsieur le Chevalier he
varey much your humble serviteur, Begar.
THE MAYOR: 1 am very much his, 1 am sure-come Monsieur, to the
Fatherless and Widow. (Drink.)
What is the reply to the Jacobite theory or tradition? Although the Roman Catholic Church was not always opposed to freemasonry, the Papal Bull Of 1738 had as one of its effects the suppression of a lodge containing purely Jacobite members. There is no actual certainty, although considerable likelihood, that the so-called 'Scots lodges' were the écossois degrees in English dress. It is not known that Jacobites had any hand in bringing those degrees into existence, although, of course, if the degree were largely the work of British people living in France, it is likely that such people would have been Jacobites; but it does not in the least follow that they invented the degrees as an instrument of their policies. Surely a lodge or degree designed to further the Jacobite cause would not deliberately label itself 'Scots.' Perhaps the nearest we shall get to the truth is the suggestion that any added degree formed in France at that time gave opportunity for men of similar interests and opinions to come together. And we may note, also, a point made by F. L. Pick, that early in the eighteenth century there existed Jacobite societies, having the appearance of jolly, convivial affairs, but at the same time inspired by a serious political purpose, and that some of them took a leaf from the freemason's book by wearing regalia and adopting a peculiar formality in their meetings. He wonders whether the Jacobite tradition is not really an echo of such mock-masonic societies
Charles Nodier is cited as the 23rd Grand Master of the Priory of Sion from 1801 to 1844
immediately preceding Victor Hugo
|He was born at Besançon in France, near the
border with Switzerland. His father, on the outbreak of the
French Revolution, was appointed mayor of Besançon and consequently
chief police magistrate, and seems to have become an instrument of the
tyranny of the
Jacobins without sharing their principles. But his son was for a
time an ardent citizen, and is said to have been a
Jacobin Club member at the age of twelve. In 1793 Charles saved the
life of a lady guilty of sending money to an émigré, declaring to
his father that if she were condemned he would take his own life. He was
sent to Strasbourg, where he lived in the house of
Eulogius Schneider, the notorious Jacobin governor of
Alsace, but a good Greek scholar.
During the Reign of Terror his father put him under the care of Justin Girod-Chantrans, with whom he studied English and German. His love of books began very early, and he combined with it a strong interest in nature, which Girod-Chantrans was able to foster. He became librarian in his native town, but his exertions in the cause of suspected persons brought him under suspicion. An inspection of his papers by the police, however, revealed nothing more dangerous than a dissertation on the antennae of insects. Entomology continued to be a favourite study with him, but he varied it with philology and pure literature and even political writing. For a skit on Napoleon, in 1803, he was imprisoned for some months.
He then left Paris, where he had gone after losing his position at Besançon, and for some years lived a very unsettled life at Besançon, Dole, and in other places in the Jura. During these wanderings he wrote his novel, Le peintre de Salzbourg, journal des émotions d'un coeur souffrant, suivi des Meditations du cloître. (1803). The hero, Charles, who is a variation of the Werther type, desires the restoration of the monasteries, to afford a refuge from the woes of the world. At Dole in 1808, on August 31, he married Désirée Charve. Nodier was working as a secretary to the elderly Sir Herbert Croft, 5th Baronet and his platonic friend Lady Mary Hamilton. During this time he translated Hamilton's book Munster Village and helped her write La famille du duc de Popoli or The Duc de Popoli which was published in 1810.
In December 1812 Nodier moved to Ljubljana, then the capital of the newly established French Illyrian Provinces, and was in 1813 the last editor of a multilingual newspaper, the Official Telegraph of the Illyrian Provinces (Télégraphe officiel des Provinces Illyriennes) published in French, German and Italian. It was there that Nodier composed, in 1812, the first draft of his novel Jean Sbogar. The story about a love between a brigand and a daughter of a rich merchant was finally published in 1818. After the evacuation of French forces from the Illyrian provinces in 1813 he returned to Paris, and the Restauration found him a royalist, though he retained something of republican sentiment. In 1824 he was appointed librarian of the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, a position that he kept for the rest of his life. He was elected a member of the Académie française in 1833, also of the Société Entomologique de France when this was formed in 1832, and he was made a member of the Legion of Honour. He died, aged, 63, in Paris.
The twenty years at the Arsenal were the most important and fruitful of Nodier's career. He had the advantage of a settled home in which to collect and study rare and unusual books; and he was able to establish a celebrated literary salon, known as Le Cénacle, rallying a knot of young literary men to romanticism (the so-called Romanticists of 1830), some of whom would achieve great renown themselves. Victor Hugo, Alfred de Musset and Sainte-Beuve all acknowledged their obligations to him, and Alexander Dumas incorporated his recollections of Nodier into his novelette La Dame au Collier de Velours. The group included Alphonse de Lamartine and Gérard de Nerval. Nodier was a passionate admirer of Goethe, Laurence Sterne and Shakespeare, and himself contributed to the literature that was one of the leading traits of the Romantic school.