[EDITORIAL.—We are gratified to be able to present to the readers of The Register this week, the following highly-characteristic letter, prepared expressly for our paper by Madame Helen P. Blavatsky, the authoress of Isis Unveiled. In this letter the lady defends the validity of her diploma as a Mason, reference to which was had in our issue of January 18th. The immediate cause of the letter from Madame B. was the multiplication of attacks upon her claim to that distinguished honour both before and since the publication mentioned.
The field is open for a rejoinder; and we trust that a champion will appear, to defend that which she so vigorously and bravely assails.
That the subject-matter in controversy may be seen at a glance by those who may not be regular readers of our paper, we again print the text of her diploma.
To the Glory of the Sublime Architect of the Universe.
Ancient and Primitive Rite of Masonry, derived through the Charter of the Sovereign Sanctuary of America, from the Grand Council of the Grand Lodge of France.
Salutation on all points of the Triangle.
Respect to the Order.
Peace, Tolerance, Truth.
To all Illustrious and Enlightened Masons throughout the world—union, prosperity, friendship, fraternity.
We, the Thrice-Illustrious Sovereign Grand Master General, and we, the Sovereign Grand Conservators, thirty-third and last degree of the Sovereign Sanctuary for England, Wales, etc., decorated with the Grand Star of Sirius, etc., Grand Commanders of the Three Legions of the Knights of Masonry, by virtue of the high authority with which we are invested, have declared and proclaimed, and by these presents do declare and proclaim our illustrious and enlightened Brother, H. P. Blavatsky, to be an Apprentice, Companion, Perfect Mistress, Sublime Elect Scotch Lady, Grand Elect, Chevalière de Rose Croix, Adonaite Mistress, Perfect Venerable Mistress, and a crowned Princess of Rite of Adoption.
Given under our hands and the seals of the Sovereign Sanctuary for England and Wales, sitting in the Valley of London, this 24th day of November, 1877, year of true light 000,000,000
JOHN YARKER, thirty-third degree, Sovereign Grand Master.
M. CASPARI, thirty-third degree, Grand Chancellor.
A. D. LOEWENSTARK, thirty-third degree, Grand Secretary.]
To the Editor of "The Franklin Register."
I am obliged to correct certain errors in your highly complimentary editorial in The Register of January 18th. You say that I have taken "the regular degrees in Masonic Lodges" and attained high dignity in the order, and further add:
Upon Madame B. has recently been conferred the diploma of the thirty-third Masonic Degree, from the oldest Masonic body in the world.
If you will kindly refer to my Isis Unveiled (vol. ii. p. 394), you will find me saying:
We are neither under promise, obligation, nor oath, and therefore violate no confidence,
—reference being made to Western Masonry, to the criticism of which the chapter is devoted; and full assurance is given that I have never taken "the regular degrees" in any Western Masonic Lodge. Of course, therefore, having taken no such degrees, I am not a thirty-third degree Mason. In a private note, also in your most recent editorial, you state that you find yourself taken to task by various Masons, among them one who has taken thirty-three degrees—which include the "Ineffable"—for what you said about me. My Masonic experience—if you will so term membership in several Eastern Masonic Fraternities and Esoteric Brotherhoods—is confined to the Orient. But, nevertheless, this neither prevents my knowing, in common with all Eastern "Masons," everything connected with Western Masonry (including the numberless humbugs that have been imposed upon the Craft during the last half century) nor, since the receipt of the diploma from the "Sovereign Grand Master," of which you publish the text, my being entitled to call myself a Mason. Claiming nothing, therefore, in Western Masonry but what is expressed in the above diploma, you will perceive that your Masonic mentors must transfer their quarrel to John Yarker, jun., P.M., P.Mk., M.Pz., P.G.C., and M.W.S.K.T. and R.C., K.T., P.K.H., and K.A.R.S., P.M.W., P.S.G.C. and P.S., Dai A.D., A. and P. Rite, to the man, in short, who is recognized in England and Wales and the whole world, as a member of the Masonic Archæological Institute; as Honorary Fellow of the London Literary Union; of Lodge No. 227, Dublin; of the Bristol College of Rosicrucians; who is Past Grand Mareschal of the Temple; member of the Royal Grand Council of the Ancient Rites time immemorial; keeper of the Ancient Royal Secrets, Grand Commander of Mizraim, Ark Mariners, Red Cross Constantine, Babylon and Palestine, R. Grand Superintendent for Lancashire, Sovereign Grand Conservator of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Masonry, thirty-third and last degree, etc., from whom the Patent issued.
Your "Ineffable" friend must have cultivated his spiritual perceptions to small purpose in the investigation and contemplation of the "Ineffable Name," from the fourth to the fourteenth degrees of that gilded humbug, the A. and A. Rite, if he could say that there is,
No authority for a derivation through the charter of the Sovereign Sanctuary of America, to issue this patent.
He lives in a veritable Crystal Palace of Masonic glass, and must look out for falling stones. Brother Yarker says, in his Notes on the . . . Modern Rosicrucianism and the various Rites and Degrees (p. 149), that the
Grand Orient, derived from the Craft Grand Lodge of England, in 1725, works and recognizes the following Rites, appointing representatives with chapters in America and elsewhere: 1. French Rite; 2. Rite of Heredom; 3. A. and A. Rite; 4. Rite of Kilwinning; 5. Philosophical Rite; 6. Rite du Régime rectif; 7. Rite of Memphis; 8. Rite of Mizraim. All under a grand college of Rites.
The A. and P. Rite was originally chartered in America, November 9th, 1856, with David McChellan as G. M. [see Kenneth Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopædia, p. 43], and in 1862 submitted entirely to the Grand Orient of France. In 1862, the Grand Orient vised and sealed the American Patent of Seymour as G. M., and mutual representatives were appointed, down to 1866, when the relations of the G. O. with America were ruptured, and the American Sovereign Sanctuary took up its position, "in the bosom" of the Ancient Cernear Council, of the "Scottish Rite" of thirty-three degrees, as John Yarker says, in the above quoted work. In 1872 a Sovereign Sanctuary of the Rite was established in England, by the American Grand Body, with John Yarker as Grand Master. Down to the present time the legality of Seymour's Sanctuary has never been disputed by the Grand Orient of France, and reference to it is found in Marconis de Nègre's books.
It sounds very grand, no doubt, to be a thirty-second degreeist, and an "Ineffable" one into the bargain; but read what Robert B. Folger, M.D., Past Master thirty-third, says himself in his Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rife in Thirty-three Degrees:
With reference to the other degrees, . . . (with the exception of the thirty-third, which was manufactured in Charleston) they were all in the possession of the G. O. before, but were termed . . . obsolete.
And further: he asks:
Who were the persons that formed this Supreme Council of the thirty-third degree? And where did they get that degree, or the power to confer it? . . . Their patents have never been produced, nor has any evidence ever yet been given that they came in possession of the thirty-third degree in a regular and lawful manner (pp. 92, 95, 96).
That an American Rite, thus spuriously organized, declines to acknowledge the Patent of an English Sovereign Sanctuary, duly recognized by the Grand Orient of France, does not at all invalidate my claim to Masonic honours. As well might Protestants refuse to call the Dominicans Christians, because they—the Protestants—broke away from the Catholic Church and set up for themselves, as for A. and A. Masons of America to deny the validity of a Patent from an English A. and P. Rite body. Though I have nothing to do with American modern Masonry, and do not expect to have, yet, feeling highly honoured by the distinction conferred upon me by Brother Yarker, I mean to stand for my chartered rights, and to recognize no other authority than that of the high Masons of England, who have been pleased to send me this unsolicited and unexpected testimonial of their approval of my humble labours.
Of a piece with the above is the ignorant rudeness of certain critics who pronounce Cagliostro an "impostor" and his desire of engrafting Eastern Philosophy upon Western Masonry "charlatanism." Without such a union Western Masonry is a corpse without a soul. As Yarker observes, in his Notes on the Mysteries of Antiquity:
As the Masonic fraternity is now governed, the Craft is becoming a storehouse of paltry Masonic emperors and other charlatans, who swindle their brothers, and feather their nests out of the aristocratic pretensions which they have tacked on to our institutions—ad captandum vulgus.
H. P. BLAVATSKY.