Some of these references are positive, some are negative, some are amusing; most are merely fictional and therefore marginalize Freemasonry and detract from the good work it does. The following list of references is not definitive, nor are all entries confirmed. Please forward additional references, with details, to our editor.
Masonic references in 18th century prose
The appearances of Freemasonry in fiction range from the unremarked use of Freemasonry as a metaphor, to the actual inclusion of masonic ritual. The following list of references is not definitive, nor are all entries confirmed. Please forward additional references, with details, to our editor.
N O V E L S
Catherine II of Russia (1729-1796), The Deceiver
In 1786 three anti-masonic plays penned by Catherine II were staged at the Winter Palace's Hermitage Theater: The Deceiver premiered 4 January 1786, The Deceived premiered 2 February 1786 and The Siberian Shaman premiered 24 September 1786. The Deceiver and The Deceived were first published in St. Petersburg in 1785; The Siberian Shaman followed in 1786. German editions were published in 1786. The plays were less anti-masonic than they were parodies of Cagliostro.
William Godwin (1756-1836), St. Leon. A Tale of the Sixteenth Century...
London : Printed for G.G. and J. Robinson, 1799. 4v. ; 18 cm
The story of a 'Rosicrucian.' [AQC xxxii 87]
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Wilhelm Meisters Apprenticeship. (1795-96)
The Turmgesellschaft or Society of the Tower in this novel, as well as its sequel, Wilhelm Meisters Journeyman Years, plays a shadowy role that has been referred to by literary critics as being masonic although there are too few allusions to the society to assign it much of any character, much less a masonic one.
Rev. Richard Graves (1715-1804), The Spiritual Quixote, or the Summer Ramble of Mr. Geoffry Wildgoose.
"As soon as they met, like true free-masons, they discovered each others occupations, and in the apostolic phrase, Wildgoose gave Howel the right hand of fellowship." [AQC xxxii 85] 1772.
Charles Johnston (d. 1800), Chrysal or the Adventures of a Guinea....
Includes an account of the 'Monks of Medmenham' in chaps. xvii to xix of vol. iii. [AQC xxxii 87]
by An Adept. London, 1761.
Sade, Marquis de (1740-1814), Juliette, or Vice amply rewarded
In which Clairwils brother gives an account of a conspiracy in Sweden: "Sade shows himself attracted by the secret society' theory of history. The Swedish plotters belong to an anti-Catholic, anti-royalist Lodge supposed to have been founded by the fugitive Templars when their Order was suppressed in the fourteenth century. The Masons are linked with it as its agents and dupes." [Cited in Geoffrey Ashe, The Hell-Fire Clubs. Phoenix Mill : Sutton Publishing, 2000. p. 218-19.] New York : Stewart Gordon Publications, [c. 1967]. 320 p. 18 cm. First published 1797.
Abbé Jean Terrasson(1670-1750), The Life of Sethos.
Sethos, histoire ou vie tiré des monumens anecdotes de l'ancienne Egypt, Traduite d'un Manuscrit Grec. A Paris. Chez Jacques Guerin, Libraire-Imprimeur, Quey des Augustins. M.D.CC.XXXI. 3 vols. 12°. [The Life of Sethos, taken from private Memoirs of the ancient Egyptians; translated from a Greek MS. into French, and now, done into English, by M. Lediard, London, 1732.] In this romance he has given an account of the initiation of his hero, Sethos, an Egyptian prince, into the Egyptian mysteries. Mackey [p. 1030.] notes that the book recounts "...the outlines of an initiation into the Egyptian mysteries such as the learned Abbé could derive from the documents and monuments to which he was able to apply, with many lacunae which he has filled up from his own inventive and poetic genius." Long regarded as a standard authority on the subject of ancient initiation ceremonies, it is a work of fiction. [AQC xxxii 87]
Von Mayern, Dye Na Sore.
Die Wanderer aus dem Sanskrit Ubersetzt. Contains a complete account of masonic festivities.
Vienna : 1789.
P O E T R Y
An Early Printed Reference to Freemasonry. A hitherto unreported reference to Freemasonry has been discovered by Bro. Lewis Edwards. It occurs in the second of two poems: The Pig, and The Mastiff, printed by J. Stephens for J. Brotherton, at the Bible in Cornhill, in 1725, with a second edition in 1727, in an octavo pamphlet of 28 pages. There is no author's name, but the poem reappears, in 1736, in the published works of Samuel Wesley, Junr., who was a younger brother of John Wesley. The Title-page is: The Pig and the Mastiff. Two Tales. | De te fabula narratur. | An ornamental device above the imprint The Pig is a story of a group of husbands who wished to test the dutifulness of their wives, and directed them to boil a pig for dinner. Apparently this was considered so ludicrous a request that it was unanimously declined. The Mastiff is a silly story of a jealous husband. It is in this that the Masonic reference occurs. The wife is unable to understand a message supposed to have been sent her by her husband.
She might as easily have sought
to sound the bottom of a plot;
Or, though a woman, ta'en occasion
T'enquire the secret of Free Mason,
And how, as Mystic Lodge supposes,
Duke Wharton can succeed to Moses.
Wharton left England, never to return, in 1725. Moses as Grand Master the author will have found in Anderson.
Miscellanea Latomorum or Masonic Notes and Queries. A Serial intended to facilitate Intercommunications between Masonic Students on matters of interest in connection with Freemasonry. April, 1938. Margate : Printed for Private Circulation by W. J. Parret, Ltd., 25, Cecil Square. New Series Vol. XXII, No. 8. Editor : Lionel Vibert, 27, Great Queen St., W.C.2, London, England. p. 121-22.
An Early Printed Reference to Freemasonry.(XXII., 123).Included in "Poems on Several Occasions" by Samuel Wesley, 1736, is "The Bonds-man ; A Satyr", and on page 258 occur the following lines:
Have they e'er wasted idle Sums of Gold,
The Craft of sage FREEMASONS to uphold?
No matter whether Arts and Letters live,
If Gloves they buy and Aprons they can give.
No printed Volume they desire to see,
But the Grand History of Masonry.
The volume includes also "The Mastiff", referred to, in Misc. Lat., XXII., 123.
The author was the elder, not the younger, brother of John Wesley.
I have not found that "The Bonds-man " was ever published separately, and I believe that these six lines have never previously been quoted for their Masonic interest.
Miscellanea Latomorum or Masonic Notes and Queries. A Serial intended to facilitate Intercommunications between Masonic Students on matters of interest in connection with Freemasonry. 1939. Margate : Printed for Private Circulation by W. J. Parret, Ltd., 25, Cecil Square. New Series Vol. XXIII., No. 1. Editor : Lionel Vibert, 27, Great Queen St., W.C.2, London, England. p. 14.
A U T H O R S
Eighteenth century Russian authors who were freemasons and incorporated masonic themes in their work:
Cited in : Russian Freemasonry by Wor. Bro. Dennis Stocks, Barron Barnett Lodge. 1998 ripper.wildnet.co.uk/russianfm.html
Further notes can be found in: Frederick H. Smyth, "Freemasonry in Fiction". Ars Quatuor Coronatorum xciii (1980), pp. 1-16. Also see Henry Lovegrove, "Three Masonic Novels." AQC xxxii (1919); W. B. Hextall, "A Masonic Pantomime and some other Plays", AQC xxi (1908) pp. 138-160. Also see "A Tentative List of English References to, and Works on Freemasonry, published before 1751" Edmund Hunt Dring, Ars Quatuor Coronatorum. vol xxv. (1912) pp. 353-384. "The Man Who Would be King." Illustration reproduced from the frontispiece to Rudyard Kiplings Complete Works of Prose and Verse 1907. No artist credited.