Private Societies and Revolution
By Jean-Baptiste Beauregarde
Published by Thomas Nicholson,
St. Louis, 1839
THIS PECULIAR MANUSCRIPT has a most befitting origin. Monsieur Beauregarde came to St. Louis around 1820. Due to his thick accent, he was not well known among the English-speakers and was besides a very private individual, but he became appreciated as an importer of fine goods from France, and recognized for his charity and vast collection of books on rare and curious subjects. In time, he shone as a leading light of our city. And then as mysteriously as he came, he disappeared.
As concerns grew, his lawyer revealed correspondence showing that Monsieur Beauregarde went in one of the early expeditions of the Santa Fe Trail under another name. He apparently ultimately settled in the town of Alvarado, and there the tale should have ended. But word came late last year that the Frenchman had been murdered. Such grim fates are not uncommon on the frontier, but this one was.
Beauregarde was killed in his study, the account said, hung from a beam. His hands were tied behind him, and his left boot and stocking had been removed. The money in his strongbox was left untouched, but his papers were scattered about. A “sign like the Indians make” was carved into the mud-plastered wall.
It was first feared his famous library might have been damaged or lost. This was a vast store of most peculiar learning. Ranging from Masonic histories to unorthodox religious texts to controversial peculiarities of science to recovered works of antiquity, the library had drawn many notable visitors to his home in St. Louis. But it had not accompanied him to Alvarado. The entire collection was found boxed and locked up in a secure warehouse, where it was to stay until a suitable building could be erected.
This book, Betrayers of the Red Cap, was found among the papers that M. Beauregarde left in the care of his attorney, Mr. John Hancock Morrison of this city. Along with it was his will which provided that if he were ever murdered, died in any questionable way, or vanished, the manuscript was to be published.
Moreover, the will also provided that the library, to be called the Studiorum, should be built as the foundation of an institute of higher learning. “As the monks of former times preserved the world’s knowledge in the deserts of the Old World far from the tumults of civilization,” he wrote, “so let this wisdom that the world now spurns be saved in the deserts in the deserts of the New.”
He stipulated that his Studiorum should be open only to all those scholars who, after attaining tenure, had published controversial works significantly in advance of their fields. This assures that only those intellectuals who could most profit from the opportunities presented, the brightest and most disciplined minds, will be admitted. The promise has already attracted many leading thinkers, and with the recent foundation of the College of Alvarado, it is hoped that this noble dream will be realized soon.
M. Beauregarde left an enormous amount of gold, much in ancient coin and jewelry. This alone was enough to excite rumors and speculation to this day, and knowledge of this may have provided motive for his assassination. The amount was more than sufficient to print his book in a fine edition and present it to the few public libraries and universities across the land who would accept it.
Though faith must ever be kept with the departed, this was not just done because he asked. Many of his opinions were extreme to the point of unreason, but his horrible end argues that perhaps he had sufficient cause in what he had seen. His erudition certainly leaves nothing to be desired, and there is enough material here to be of value to students of these matters.
Some material had to be removed for propriety’s sake. Regrettably many lodge members have cause to take issue with certain opinions that remain. It is the firm belief of many of the leading men in these parts – and this publisher as well – that fraternal brotherhoods have great value, especially in these lawless frontier lands. The spiritual descendants of the men who built the Cathedrals of Europe are even now erecting a new civilization in savage continents that their predecessors could not imagine.
Whether M. Beauregarde’s demise was connected with ancient feuds, truly he was correct in one thing: hatreds that should have been left in the ruins of Europe are stirring across this great land. Let us remember that constant vigilance keeps us free and that we should all be as brothers under the Shining Star.
Mr. Thomas Nicholson, publisher
St. Louis, Missouri, April 29, 1839
From the Preface
America is a new land, blessedly free from the age-old jealousies and hates of the Old World. Yet, even here in this latter-day Eden, this vast and savage expanse, those ancient enmities have taken root. Even now, enemies seek to renew their forgotten quarrels on a new stage or to build unassailable fortresses of wealth and power with which to renew the fight begun in their distant but never-forgotten Homelands…
You think you know them, children of the Republic. You smile at the mystic dumb shows of the Free-Masons, nod indulgently at the antics of the Odd Fellows, and hoist a convivial glass together with Improved Red Men. Not even the peculiar Sects of the Frontiers, the notorious Mormons, Shakers, and Spiritists, trouble your rest any more than the creeping sinister specters of the Jesuits of Rome.
Ah, the bigger fools you for sleeping so soundly! For I tell you, you do not know them at all. You think them harmless with your faith in the vigorous Soul and Sinews of this young Nation. Or even more astonishing, actually beneficial for the taming of this impatient land.
For was not the great Washington a trowel-waving Mason? Did not the enlightened Franklin, who freed the world from the dread of God’s own Lightning, also wear an apron of curious design?
Yes, these great men, these sage Founders of your nation, were members of secret fraternities; but their greatness came not from their clandestine Allegiances but despite them. For I lived many years in a realm haunted by such factions, and have seen how such private associations may twist resolute men of Character when given full liberty and necessity. No true Government by the people can exist in such a situation where it is constantly betrayed by special interests. Such things lead to blood and death, revolution and dictatorship. This was the sad fate of my Motherland, and the reason I fled her.
Perhaps here, in my new home, I am far enough away to finally tell the truth safely. But safe or not, America must be warned. This young Nation well knows its foes among the savage Indians and the jealous Powers of Europe. It has yet to recognize that the People here enslaved for no fault but their negritude must be given Liberty, or else this Republic will be torn apart.
But I tell you that even those awful Trials to come are nothing compared to far more sinister designs already being laid for you. The real peril is already here among you, in the private alignments and secret compromises of your greatest men…
The fair land of France yet patiently bears the wounds of civil War, and she may never recover fully. Yet the poison that sickens her is much older than the Revolution of 1789 or those who directed it. But their cause did not originate in the Temples of ancient Egypt or the Academies of Hellas, as they would have you believe, though they are correct that the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon were their predecessors.
The troubles that would eventually ravage France actually began on that fateful night in the year of 1307 when the Sacred Basin of Christ disappeared. This was the one Our Lord used to bathe the disciples’ feet, the Pelluvium Sanctissimum, what we call the “le belle graal” and you English-speakers call the “Maundy Grail.” No relic ever known is or was as sacred or powerful. When it vanished, so did its priceless reliquary and much treasure. Men hunt in the deep and dark places for the sacred treasures still; the hills of Old Poictesme conceal a warren of tunnels, all filled with eyes and knives.
The Templars who guarded this most holy relic were arrested, suffered, and burnt like their northern brethren. Their heirs and survivors hid also among the builders of the cathedrals, but unlike the men of the North, did not eventually turn into Free-Masons.
The factions formed in southern lands were much more devious and depraved than those of the upright makers of churches, though the guilds of Paris too were twisted in time to evil. The secret societies that rose over Bellegarde squabbling over the remains of the Holy Tub have created a miasma that suffocated France. God help the world if they should ever truly unite.
Tales of Bellegarde and Paris
From the first, these groups touched my life as I grew up, a minor member of a minor noble house. Of course, it wasn’t until I had attained my maturity that I began to understand even a little of what anything really meant. But with my mother’s milk there in the Chateau of Storisende, I imbibed the wonderful folktales of the great wizard Geomy and his dwarven servants.
Among the fairy-stories of giants and ogres, of Wandering Jacques the Clever, these stood out even more than the grim stories of the Witches of Acaire and unspeakable things they did in the Cave of Lorcha that disturbed so many a young night. For the whispers of the old people went, these were true and not like the fancies of Perrault or the peasants’ tales collected by the Grimm brothers.
There are many popular stories that have come down about Jacques, Geomy the Wizard, and the demonic imps Roggio and Robbio. Passed from troubadours and wanderers to innkeepers and peasants, reworked to frighten children, many have been tangled together, while others are but fragments. A German scholar collected a sample during the Revolution, but there were many variants, and he missed some of the best, like that of “Jacques the Killer of the Giant.” Someone should do them justice by gathering all the Clever Jacques tales together at the very least, but that would be an epic task that I am unable to undertake.
For I am an old man now, embittered by many losses. I have not the strength left for such efforts or the necessary patience of a scholar. But I have witnessed many great and terrible events in my life, and slowly I came to an understanding that much of what we see around us, the grand shows of Politics, are just that, public entertainments. The real decisions of History are made in the smoke and shadows of small locked rooms.
In 1788, the summer before the Revolution, I arrived in Bellegarde filled with the lustiness and high hopes of youth. There I met the legendary relic hunter, Don Yago Ionas himself. But even more fantastic than the tales he spun, what I found there was mystifying, and what I later endured during the violent toppling of the Monarchy, the bloody birth of the Republic and its betrayal by the mad Corsican, Napoleon, makes little sense on the surface. Only by tracing the links between one group and another, the signs, words and other significations, did I finally come to comprehend it all…
[A large section detailing revolutionary excesses in near-pornographic and gory detail was omitted.]
Even greater and incomprehensible, nay, diabolic madness that led to such infamies as the defenestration of the Abbot de Beaumont from the Duke’s catamite’s bedchamber on the eve of the Revolution later took place not on the fringes, but at the very center of the Revolution. Raving insanity wound the mainspring of the Terror. And diabolic it most certainly was.
I personally knew some who boasted – before their own appointment under the blade arrived – that they attended the black-draped “salons of Satan” on certain nights where the brightest lights of society debauched themselves. Lusts natural and unnatural alike were sated during these infernal Masques, many of them mockeries of the holy Rites of Christ. And all these ancient abominations were done in the name of “Light” and “Reason.”
Few outside those fevered greenhouses of depravity knew or would believe of such excesses. Writers such as the Reverend Robinson and Miss Webster have laid out certain clandestine aspects to how the Revolution happened. But even they little suspect the truth. And they obviously were not aware that the Jacobins, the Free-Masons, and even the dreaded Illuminists behind it all were just the flowering offshoots of Sects that began in old Bellegarde.
[At this point, there is an extra section in the original manuscript in French, kept at the the Studiorum, that does not appear in the printed text. Recovered by Gus MacLantis in 2004, this section has been circulating privately, but has never been openly published before. However, as he obtained it from the Studiorum without authorization, we may not reveal it here.]
Many odd stories were formed in the shape of fairy tales, few of which are suitable fare for children. The most telling story relates the efforts of Wandering Jacques to discover where a powerful wizard called Geomy had hid the Pelluvium Sanctissimum. According to the folktale, the Blessed Mother of God did not take the Maundy Grail to Heaven, for the sorcerer had used his magical arts to deceive the Templars and the people with a false vision, so he could keep it for himself. Jacques tried many tricks to get it back, but nothing worked.
Geomy, the fairy tale said, a student of the region’s Merlin, Miramon Lluagor, could not be easily beaten. He had fooled the people with a simple milkmaid dressed up like the Madonna and used his Arts alchemical to get them to despair of their Salvation.
There in his tower, he used his magic mirror to absorb and distill their despair, sinfulness and greed. He also caught their devotion and love of God. These through his wizardry, he made into potions.
Geomy filled a pair of special alembics – alchemical flasks – in his dreadful lair, putting into them the very essence of Evil into one and of Love into the other. These became the concentrated spirits of Death itself and a rare cordial with the powers of the Philosopher’s Stone to restore life. Soon, the Vial of wickedness could contain no more depravity even though the container of compassion held but little. Yet his familiars, evil twins named Roggio and Robbio, one terrible night tried to seduce, and when that failed, rape the maid whom the wizard had compelled by his magic to play the Virgin. She spurned them both as a terrible storm raged, throwing herself from his Tower to her doom.
Swearing vengeance against the whole World, they fatefully unstopped the alembic and poured Death upon the Human race. When Geomy discovered this, he was outraged and cursed his assistants who turned into demonic Imps. The little Devils disappeared with the Wizard’s great book of Spells, weakening him fatally.
Geomy plugged the bottle, and released the antidote but it was too little, too late. A third of all Mankind had perished, and corpses filled the streets. Grieving and heartsick, the Wizard then put the twin bottles with the remaining concentrate of Life and Death within the Sacred Basin nestled in a satin pillow, knowing of no more secure place. The Master buried the Maundy Grail in a deep cavern guarded by a Dragon, concealing the entrance by his magic Arts. Repenting of his many evils, he made his peace with Jacques, confessing only to him the location of the Basin, and died. Despite his great wickedness, he had no need of the final Sacraments for he had looked on the Holy Tub with true regret and repentance.
Jacques therefore became the new protector of the Maundy Grail. But the imps returned, seeking vengeance, and slew the wizard. Geomy’s former assistants quarreled over his book of Magic, ripping it apart, and the Secret Sages with it. The camps swore eternal enmity, each claiming the Holy Tub and its contents as rightfully theirs.
Jacques and his successors, the Invisible Guardians, were to protect the Sacred Basin chiefly from them. At the End of Days, it will be found again, the Dragon defeated, and the Apocalypse will unfold on cue as the Good Lord wills.
No cunning Jesuit is needed to interpret the basic story. The figure of Geomy was doubtless based on Heronimo as his diminutive assistants, Roger and Robert, had to have inspired the twin imps, Roggio and Robbio. Also, the wizard famously lived in a tower overlooking the gates, with a huge mirror outside the window that was undoubtedly the talk of the town.
It is a tale woven to frighten children. But despite distortions of folk memory and imagination, there are kernels of real truth embedded in it. As a skilled alchemist, perhaps somehow the Magus had extracted the very essence of Death from the Plague, as well as developed some kind of cure or antidote. He was said, after all, to be a Healer, and it is believed he later worked with a woman that had been brought before the Inquisition because she claimed to cure infections with moldy bread. How such knowledge could revolutionize Medicine!
With such wisdom, we might be able to find the true Causes of disease and learn how to relieve suffering. This is reason enough to search ceaselessly for the Holy Tub, but evil ones seek it too for the power of Death therein.
In any case, wholesome dread of the Plague may help keep the Holy Footbath secret from all but the most fanatic of Adventurers. Seekers needs must be sincere and brave enough to risk a horrible death. But perhaps the tale is an example of the lengths some would go to dissuade others.
[At this point, there is another extra section in the manuscript missing from the printed book.]
The followers of the dwarves were not the only such clandestine Associations who also sought the Pelluvium Sanctissimum. They too are only mentioned in whispers. One that all believed was stamped out time and time again is descended from the Flagellants who worshipped pain. In fair Old Poictesme they soon merged with heretics who worshiped the Sacred Basin, the sect of the Foot-washers. Together they formed an order derisively called by scoffers the “Little Brothers and Sisters of Misery,” more commonly known simply as the “Endurists.”
Both Foot-washers and Back-beaters craved forgiveness more than life. A hundred years ago, the Endurist gospel flourished as never before under the tutelage of their strange master, a former shepherd boy turned visionary, the heresiarch Tobias, called “The Shoeless.” Their peculiar rites, it is reported, combine brutal and orgiastic acts that would make the Marquis de Sade of late infamy blush, in connection with the tender bathing of feet. Otherwise, the Endurists behave as the most devout and faithful Catholics. It is said that the cruel shoes they wear are the surest way to identify them.
As the Seers lust after the Sacred Basin for power and wealth, and the Sages yearn for its occult secrets, so too the Endurists pursue it for Freedom from sin. But more, for the Vials it may contain.
Unlike the Flagellants who wanted to prevent the Black Death, it is their avowed ambition to bring down the Wrath of God on this sinful World.
The Endurists would, I believe, use the Vial of Death to destroy the Earth, saving only their own selves with the Vial of Life. Their hands gladly stained with the Death of millions yet they sleep with hearts untroubled, for their consciences are clean. Not even the dark forests of Germany could breed such awful Monsters.
[Again, there is a lengthy extra section missing from the published version, that appears instead of the conclusion below. Interestingly, the final part does not appear in the manuscript.]
As my eyes dim to this age of hard Iron and puffing Steam here in the Wilderness, I see again in memory the pleasant golden lands of my youth, as if in a glowing dream. Yet I know now that most of my life seeking the Sacred Basin has been within a dream, trapped in a spell woven in antique days by Ieronimus Magus.
The dreamer believes the dream is real. Dreams may die, but illusions never bleed: dreamers do. Too many have bled out their life’s blood for this alluring vision of forgiveness, blessing, Life and Death. And yet, a terrible fear haunts me that if it ever were found, the dream of the Sacred Basin would end in nightmare for all living – for such dread Powers do not rightly belong to any Man or Sect.
Peoples of the New World, be warned! False-faced believers in inhuman doctrines are already abroad here in your land to deceive your fragile Democracy with honeyed words and lying promises. May the gracious Mother of God protect her naïve and precious children here in America.