William Blake and the Promiscuous Baboons

A Cagliostroan Séance Gone Awry

Marsha Keith Schuchard, Ph.D.

In his provocative final work on Blake, Witness Against the Beast (1993), the late E. P. Thompson hints at Blake’s role as a ‘mason and illuminist’ who was familiar with the obscure underworld of occultist Freemasonry:

In London in the 1780s — and, indeed, in Western Europe very generally — there was something like an explosion of anti-rationalism, taking the forms of illuminism, masonic rituals, animal magnetism, millenarian speculation, astrology (and even a small revival in alchemy), and of mystic and Swedenborgian circles.1

Unfortunately, Thompson does not explore further this illuminist and Masonic milieu, and he unaccountably elides Blake’s most explicitly Masonic reference to the ‘accepted brethren whom tyrant, he calls free’, when he quotes Blake’s ‘Song of Liberty’.2 Thompson’s unpursued lead points to the difficulty of documenting Blake’s Masonic experience and deciphering his Masonicallusions, for the deliberate obscurity of those allusions is compounded by the strict secrecy of the lodges, whose members were oath-bound to reveal nothing of the discourses and rituals that occurred at meetings. However, an examination of one of Blake’s more bizarre passages in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-93), in the light of contemporary Masonic controversies, reveals that the illuminist context provides valuable keys to unlock some of his more impenetrable symbolism. By referring to the scandal of ‘the promiscuous baboons’ that erupted when the Masonic adventurer Cagliostro introduced his Swedenborgian recruits to the techniques of erotic and visionary Cabalism, Blake suggested his own immersion in the complex web of international illuminism.

Blake’s contact with illuminist Freemasons — initiates of politically liberal lodges who pursued mystical and occult studies — came predominantly through his interest in Swedenborg’s writings. That the majority of Swedenborgians were also Masons, with eclectic theosophic concerns and international fraternal contacts, means that Blake became familiar with the ambitions, controversies, and intrigues that polarized the Swedenborgians into revolutionary and conservative factions.3 Though Blake and his wife Catherine signed the manifesto issued by the New Jerusalem Church at Great Eastcheap on 13 April 1789, he soon became distressed and disgusted by the political, sexual, and theosophical quarrels that increasingly divided the society. When the Blakes moved south of the Thames to Lambeth in autumn 1790, he found a more congenial milieu for his radical, Cabalistic views. Several of his close neighbours were Swedenborgian Masons who shared his frustration with the small group of narrow-minded, doctrinaire, and prudish New Churchmen who attempted to dominate the congregation at Eastcheap.4 Meeting occasionally at the Lambeth Asylum, at local Masonic lodges, and in private residences, these ecumenical neighbours continued to study Swedenborg and other theosophers and to support the agenda of the secret Universal Society that laboured to publish the more revolutionary and erotic manuscripts of Swedenborg.

Soon after his arrival in Lambeth, Blake began working on The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and thus threw his gauntlet into the arena of political and theological battles that divided the Swedenborgians into rival factions.5 One especially thorny issue was the continuing influence of ‘Count’ Cagliostro, the self-proclaimed Grand Cophta of the Egyptian Rite of Masonry, who had visited the London Swedenborgians in 1786-87 and who was currently chained to the wall in an Inquisition prison in Italy. On Plates 19 and 20 of The Marriage, Blake described a visionary journey undertaken by himself and another Swedenborgian, who see ‘a number of monkeys, baboons, & all of that species, chain’d in the middle, grinning and snatching at one another’, who first copulate with, and then dismember and devour, each other.6 Though the description was targeted at the faction of conservative Swedenborgians who were trying to ‘de-illuminize’ the New Church, Blake referred to an incident that had happened four years earlier but was now receiving new attention because of Cagliostro’s trial in Rome. In order to explicate Blake’s vision of the promiscuous baboons, it will be necessary to retrace the relationship of Cagliostro and the Swedenborgians from 1786 until 1791.

For many reform-minded Freemasons, the role of Cagliostro provided a litmus test of the possibilities and limitations of irrational theosophy and rational politics. During earlier visits to London, the Sicilian-born painter Joseph Balsamo transformed himself into ‘Count’ Cagliostro and drew on the visionary theories of the Swedish theosopher Emanuel Swedenborg and the Jewish Cabalist, Dr Samuel Jacob Falk, to develop the magical rituals of the Egyptian Rite.7 While he successfully recruited many prominent aristocrats to his system in France, Cagliostro became entangled in the intrigues of the Diamond Necklace Scandal that undermined the authority of the French monarchy. After suffering in the Bastille, he was acquitted by the Parisian parlement but banished by Louis XVI. Arriving in London in June 1786, he was welcomed as an illuminist hero by the disaffected sons and brothers of George III and their libertine friends.8 Calling himself the Grand Cophta, Cagliostro then launched an aggressive campaign to recruit Whig politicians and mystical Masons to his system. Cagliostro’s entrée to liberal Masonic circles was facilitated by the Duke of Orleans, Grand Master of the Grand Orient and initiate of the Egyptian Rite, who had recently visited London to rally support for the defendants in the Diamond Necklace trial.9 However, when the rabble-rousing Lord George Gordon became Cagliostro’s champion, the courts of France and England determined to suppress both men and to intimidate their supporters. This governmental surveillance would contribute to Blake’s ‘nervous fear’ about the dangers of publishing his own illuminist works.

In August 1786 the French court ordered Theveneau de Morande, its resident spy and blackmailer, to use his London-based newspaper Le Courier de l’Europe to smear the reputations of Cagliostro, Gordon, and their Masonic sympathizers.10 The Courier had a large English and European readership, who were attracted to its international and artistic coverage. Using secret police reports and a network of spies, Morande mounted such an effective slander campaign that the Prince of Wales and many of his Whig allies backed off from public association with Cagliostro.11 However, the reckless Gordon continued to issue incendiary broadsides against George 111’s repressive policies, and he encouraged Cagliostro to mount a new initiative to recruit theosophical Masons who were members of the liberal ‘Ancient’lodges that often opposed the more conservative ‘Modern’ lodges.12

On 1st November the Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini (dental surgeon and Masonic mentor to the Prince of Wales) and Peter O’Reilly (proprietor of Freemasons’ Tavern in Great Queen Street and close friend of the Prince) arranged for Cagliostro, Gordon and a party of French Masons to visit the Antiquity lodge, which included several Swedenborgians among its members and visitors.13 Encouraged by his reception, Cagliostro moved quickly the next day and placed an advertisement in the Morning Herald that appealed to ‘all true Masons’ to join with the Swedenborgians in a common effort at ‘regeneration’. Announcing that ‘the time is at hand when the building of the New Temple or New Jerusalem 3,8,20,17,8 [church] must begin’, Cagliostro told them to meet the next day at O’Reilly’s tavern. There they would ‘plan for laying the first stone of the foundation of the true 3,8,20,17,8 [church] in this visible world, being the material representative Temple of the Spiritual 9,5,17,20,18,11,15,12 [Jerusalem]’. Cagliostro signed the advertisement as ‘a Mason and a Member of the New Church’. Though most British historians have assumed that Cagliostro got no response to this advertisement, it was widely reported in Germany (by Charlotte von der Recke and Goethe) that Cagliostro was welcomed by the Swedenborgians in London.14 As Photiades observes, ‘At this period the Grand Cophte was, in fact, on very good terms with the Swedenborgians. He frequented the Theosophical Society, commented on the Apocalypse, and sought for the New Jerusalem.’15

Among the Swedenborgians were the artists Richard Cosway and Phillipe de Loutherbourg, who were fascinated by Cagliostro’s theurgic skills and who may have informed their colleague Blake about the Cophta.16 Another artistic associate of Blake, Francesco Bartolozzi, drew Cagliostro’s portrait from life and then flooded the city with engravings of the persecuted ‘Friend of Humanity’.17 Significantly, Cosway, Loutherbourg and Bartolozzi were all Freemasons and attended lodges affiliated with the illuminist system in France.18 Blake’s friend George Cumberland was also intrigued by Cagliostro’s career in 1786; he acquired four books that defended the Cophta and may even have met him in London.19

Morande, however, was determined to counter this sympathetic reaction to Cagliostro. On 3 November he published an inaccurate account of the Antiquity lodge meeting, in which he claimed that Cagliostro was ridiculed by the inhospitable brothers. Over the next two weeks, as Morande continued to vilify the Egyptian Masons and their English disciples, he received help from the engraver James Gillray, a ‘Modern’ Mason who infiltrated the Antiquity meeting and then published a satirical cartoon of the affair.20 Blake, who followed Gillray’s work, was undoubtedly aware of this print, which was bruited widely by the conservative press and provoked indignant rejoinders from members of the Antiquity lodge.

Probably drawing on the report of another Masonic spy, Morande then spread a scandalous story of a bungled Cagliostroan séance in which a group of Swedenborgians tried to imitate the Master’s theurgic rituals while Cagliostro was away from the lodge. Using the hypnotic techniques of animal magnetism and the Hebrew incantations of Cabalistic magic, the Swedenborgians tried to raise the Seven Celestial Angels:

Suddenly, in place of the seraphim in azure robes and silver that they were hoping for, there appeared a fearful horde of wild orang-outangs whose grimaces, insults, and unworthy promiscuity the chaste idealists had to endure all the evening.21

The strange story, which Blake later used in The Marriage, raises provocative questions about what really went on during illuminist séances. It also places Blake’s own visions and spirit-communications in a contemporary context of charges and counter-charges about occult charlatanism and political chicanery.

It is possible that real orang-outangs (or some kind of monkeys) were used during the rituals, either openly or deceptively, while the hypnotized participants gazed into their magical glass bowl and clouds of incense obscured the animal ‘spirits’ in the darkened lodge. Cosway, an ardent and credulous magnetizer, once owned a baboon that attacked him.22 Moreover, Swedish travellers’ accounts of ‘Baboons, as they call Orang Putans’, who assaulted men and raped women, had recently become popular in Sweden and England.23 Swedenborg may have drawn on these accounts in Conjugial Love, when he described the fate in the spirit world of unregenerated libertines who love to deflower virgins: ‘Among themselves they do indeed appear as men, but as seen by others who are allowed to look in there, they appear like apes, with a fierce face instead of a mild, and a horrible countenance instead of a pleasing.’24

It is also clear from the diaries of various Freemasons that human actors were often employed to imitate good and evil spirits, and they may have donned animal costumes in order to represent the bestial elements of man’s unregenerated nature.25 While performing his theurgic rituals, Cagliostro employed a transparent screen to partially obscure his assistants, who may have impersonated baboons and angels.26 Perhaps he planned to intimidate the more ‘chaste’ Swedenborgians, who tried to prohibit an English translation of the highly erotic Conjugial Love, by arranging a theatrical version of Swedenborg’s lustful ape-men. The more daring illuminists believed that the visionary rituals of sexual magic could regenerate the ape into an angel.

Moreover, the process of Cabalistic meditation taught by Falk, Swedenborg, and Cagliostro was capable, in itself, of creating a state of trance in which visions of natural and supernatural beasts seemed to emerge from the spirit world. Because of the highly erotic nature of the process — in which the adept envisioned the sexual couplings of Hebrew letters and words — the trance state sometimes produced lurid and obscene ‘materializations’. Blake himself drew Hebrew letters in the shape of human bodies — a technique often used in illuminist meditation on the sexual polarities and consummations within the Divine Human. While the more prudish Swedenborgians complained that the masters of animal magnetism made ‘the art instrumental to horrid enormities’, the more ardent defiantly acted out the master’s teaching on eternal ‘virile potency’ and sacramental concubinage.27

The merciless journalist Morande had another explanation for the evoked spirits of the Egyptian Rite — whether human or simian. Having chased Cagliostro out of London in April 1787, Morande kept up his attacks on the Cophta’s disciples who maintained their loyalty to illuminist Freemasonry. On 19 October he charged that members of the Egyptian Rite in London were in league with the radical political illuminati in Germany, who exploited the mystical illuminists in order to promote their own seditious and atheistic schemes. One successful stratagem, repeatedly used to seduce gullible Masons, was the staged production of an ‘apparition’ — ‘un ombre sous forme d’un nuage coloré’ — which then emitted supernatural pronouncements.28 But, Morande warned, ‘cette apparition étoit un effet d’optique’. Then, on 26 October Morande published an extremely rare account of the behind-the-scenes trickery of certain illuminist magi. Claiming that Cagliostro and his London agents copied the techniques of Johann Georg Schroepfer, the infamous German ‘evocateur’, Morande gave a detailed exposition of an illuminist séance.

Picture, he exhorted his readers, an interior room surrounded by benches, where about thirty spectators are seated.29 The room is lit by a single lamp, placed on a table at the extreme end and enclosed in a type of magic lantern, which collects all the rays and shoots them through a convex glass three inches in diameter. In the middle of the room, the Evocateur stands, dressed in white with an enormous hat and an apron decorated with bones of the dead. All the initiates are dressed similarly, except for the hat. ‘Voila ce-qui s’appèlle une grande loge d’Illuminés.’ Schroepfer begins to make a thousand grimaces and monkey-like tricks (‘mille singeries’). He circles the room with his wand and draws a triple circle around himself. He falls on his knees before the lamp and is bathed in light, making a resplendent impression. In the middle of his ritualistic movements, he adroitly pulls a string attached to the inner peak of his hat which focuses a light on a transparent design pasted into the hat. A hidden light shines through a magnifying lens on to the transparency, which emits through a hole a projected vision of the late Duke of Courland (reflected from his full-length portrait on the transparency). The spirit appears like an eerily tinted cloud. By manipulating the lens and light, Schroepfer makes it grow from a small figure on the floor to a gigantic vision that reaches to the roof. Using ventriloquism, he makes the apparition speak in a muffled, rumbling voice. After reducing the apparition and making it melt into the abyss, his assistant lights drops of liquid phosphorous that fill the room with luminous clouds and then suddenly plunge it in darkness. This gives Schroepfer time to change his hat and remove the evidence of his trickery.

That Schroepfer behaved in a monkey-like fashion was perhaps relevant to the orang-outangs who appeared at the bungled Cagliostroan séance in London. Morande concluded his exposé by warning ‘les Illumines de bonne foi’ who are ‘honnetes gens’ to guard against the continuing impostures of Cagliostro and the Egyptian Lodges in London. Though Morande focused mainly on Cagliostro and the German illuminists, he must have alarmed the Swedenborgian Masons in London, who called themselves illuminés théosophes. Moreover, the deceased Duke of Courland was widely recognized as a member of the Swedish Rite, which combined the Cabalistic arcana of Falk and Swedenborg. In 1779 Cagliostro had travelled from London to Courland to recruit the Swedenborgian Masons to his new Egyptian Rite, and he quickly awed them when he revealed that he had accurately predicted the death of Schroepfer.30 According to Morande, Schroepfer shot himself when he learned that his charlatanry would soon be exposed. Morande also pointed out that Monsieur Le Dru, known as Comus, performed similar astounding feats while performing magnetic cures. Comus had been publicly linked with the Swedenborgians by the Marquis de Thomé, a radical illuminist who helped organize the Swedenborg society in London.31

Morande’s revelation of the tricks of optical illusion also raises questions about the role of the artist Loutherbourg, who collaborated in Masonic rituals with the Swedenborgians and Cagliostro.32 The Inquisition would later publish a Cagliostroan ritual in which Loutherbourg and the seven celestial angels appeared in a vision.33 Loutherbourg was a master of illusionistic effects achieved through theatrical lighting, coloured transparencies, and chemical reactions. A learned Cabalist and practising magnetizer, he also understood many of the techniques of trance-induction and group hypnosis. Working with Cagliostro and the Swedenborgians, Loutherbourg made a series of symbolic watercolour drawings to be used during initiation into the Egyptian Rite. Cosway, a mutual friend of Loutherbourg and Blake, was also fascinated by Cagliostro, and he described his meeting with ‘the Wandering Jew’ (the epithet applied to Cagliostro by London newspapers) and ‘the wonders beyond conception’ that he had seen but was ‘forbidden to communicate’.34

At this time (c. 1787), Blake not only evoked the spirit of his dead brother Robert but he also sketched spiritualistic subjects taken from Swedenborg’s writings. In one drawing, he showed ‘an Incantation’, in which a magus-figure raises his arms before an altar; in another, he showed a woman wearing an ‘Egyptian head-dress’.35 Even more relevant to Cagliostro’s rituals was Blake’s drawing of three naked children ‘crouched round a bowl-like source of light’.36 Blake was evidently aware that the Grand Cophta frequently used children as mediums, who kneeled around a specially lit crystal bowl of water and gazed into it until they went into a state of visionary trance. The children then ‘pretended to hold a communication with the seven angels, who ascended and descended behind the screen’.37

However, after Cagliostro and then Loutherbourg fled to Switzerland (in April and June) and Gordon entered Newgate Prison (in December), many of the Swedenborgians became worried about the dangerous political consequences of continued association with the Egyptian lodges. The conservative press (especially the government-subsidized World) continued to threaten further exposure of the gullible dupes of Cagliostro who clung to their Master’s revolutionary theosophy.38 In May 1788 the founder of the Illuminés théosophes, Dr Benedict Chastanier, called on his fellow Swedenborgians to return to their Swedish master’s ‘pure’ teachings and to reject the Cabalistic rituals of the ‘pretended Egyptian Lodges’.39

Chastanier’s arguments did not convince all his readers, and some continued to follow the flamboyant career of the Grand Cophta, as he shifted roles from Cabalistic therapist for wealthy bankers in Switzerland (1788-89) to revolutionary agitator arrested in Rome (1790).40 The Inquisition trial of Cagliostro created a sensation in Europe, and London newspapers recorded its progress. In May 1790, the Rambler’s Magazine (a popular tabloid) serialized ‘The Memoirs of Count Cagliostro’, noting that ‘the present hazardous situation of the Count — a close prisoner in Rome, charged with designs against the State, contributes to the importance of these Memoirs’.41 George Cumberland visited Cagliostro in his Roman cell, and may have informed Blake about the Inquisition’s investigation of the Cophta’s activities among the Swedenborgians in London.42

Despite his imprisonment, Cagliostro’s shadow continued to hover over the troubled Swedenborg society. He was greatly admired by a group of Swedish Masons, who visited the society in 1789-91 and who tried to push the members towards a revolutionary political, sexual and occult agenda. The radical chemist Augustus Nordenskjöld, who was privy to Cagliostro’s alchemical secrets, issued private invitations for the Swedenborgians to join his interior Hermetic order and to practise Cabalistic rituals that would produce orgasmic states of visionary trance.43 The revolutionary poet Thomas Thorild, who called himself ‘a Cagliostroan in religion, finance, and politics’, chastized those timid and puritanical Swedenborgians who were afraid to venture beyond conventional notions of government and religion.44

The fiery Thorild, who spent sixteen months with the Swedenborgians in London, must have impressed Blake, whose works bear striking resemblances to those of his Swedish colleague. Like Blake, Thorild criticized the increasing priestcraft of the New Church congregation at Eastcheap, who sermonized and theologized and were afraid of ‘A grand and amazing View of the Universe of Gold!’:

A view that restores to us the sublime Doctrine so sacred among the Ancients — of universal Influence, of celestial and ideal Powers, of true Theosophy and Magic; at the same Time this View opens to us the glorious Field for higher active and transcendant Religion, which through Theurgy, or the Union with good and divine powers, subdues the lower, evil, and hellish, and works Miracles of Heaven.45

Like Blake, Thorild lambasted the systematic reasoners, whose religion had become ‘modern and deistical’. Through their failure of imagination, the sermonizers had turned ‘A Universe of Spirits! A Universe of Angels and Devils!’ into a ‘common and vulgar Religion [. . .] A System of Absurdity, from whose horrid Gloom have sprung all Sects’. In scenes that suggestively parallel Blake’s in The Marriage, the Cagliostroan Thorild determined to expose ‘the grand splendid Play of the Devil, the all-charming Opera of Hell’.46 And, most provocatively, Thorild called upon the Swedenborgians to go beyond Swedenborg, who should ‘be considered as a Prophet of a third rising Covenant’, and to reach out to all the Mystics who ‘see and feel but God in all’.47 Thorild believed that Cagliostro represented a ‘grand wisdom’ (storre vishet) that assimilated the visions of all the great magi.48

Thus, when Blake also placed Swedenborg in a broader mystical tradition, he reinforced Thorild’s call for a broader illuminist agenda. In Plate 3 of The Marriage, Blake wrote:

As a new heaven is begun, and it is now thirty-three years since its advent, the Eternal Hell revives. And lo! Swedenborg is the Angel sitting at the tomb; his writings are the linen clothes folded up. Now is the dominion of Edom, & the return of Adam into Paradise.49

To illustrate the thirty-third year of the new heaven (first revealed by Swedenborg in 1757), Blake engraved a nude woman with flames bursting through her genitals — perhaps in response to Thorild’s call for a ‘vivid flaming stile in art’ and Nordenskjöld’s call for liberated sexuality.50

In his odd allusion to ‘the dominion of Edom’, Blake probably referred to an ambitious, international illuminist project that aimed at developing a new religion of Christian Cabalism — one that included Cabalistic Christians and Sabbatian Jews but transcended both faiths. Among its ‘hidden superiors’ were the late Dr Falk and Cagliostro, and it currently included several Swedenborgian Freemasons in its leadership ranks. Known as the ‘Asiatic Brethren’, these Cabalistic adepts proclaimed the dominion of Edom and the reintegration of man into his paradisal state of sexual and spiritual bliss.51 Provocatively, the Asiatics also claimed that 1757 was ‘the true date of the founding of the order’.52 In 1790, while Blake proclaimed the Edomite millennium, other authors in Germany accused Cagliostro and the Swedenborgian Masons in London, Stockholm, and Hamburg of colluding with the ‘Melchizedek’ lodges, which were Jewish adjuncts of the Asiatic Brethren.53

Blake agreed with Thorild’s rejection of Swedenborg’s ‘conceited’ claim to unique inspiration, and he noted accurately that Swedenborg’s theosophical tenets could also be found in Paracelsus and Boehme. Neither Swedenborg nor any illuminist should claim to ‘know better than his master’, for all theosophers drew on the primordial occult tradition. To illustrate this caveat, Blake drew a man who vainly tries to grab the tail of a fleeing serpent. He possibly alluded to the flight of Cagliostro from his intimidated English friends, for Cagliostro’s Masonic emblem of a revolutionary serpent was widely publicized after his arrest in Rome.54 When Blake characterized Milton’s repressive Messiah as ‘the Governor or Reason’, he illustrated the passage with a man holding compasses while he attempts to instruct a student; at the Governor’s back is a serpent fleeing away from him. Among the ‘Modern’ Freemasons who attempted to suppress Cagliostro’s Egyptian Rite, the compasses symbolized ‘the great imperative duty of circumscribing our passions and keeping our desires within due bounds’.55

Given the context of polarization among the Swedenborgians in 1790-91, Blake’s ‘Memorable Fancy’ of the promiscuous baboons seems targeted at the prudish sectarians who were currently reducing Swedenborg to an authoritarian, intolerant, narrow-minded theologian — versus the eclectic, daring, revolutionary prophet who so inspired the illuminists. When Blake escorted a smug and puritanical ‘Angel’ on a visionary journey, he parodied the Masonic journey of initiation through world, caves, mountain, and temple. The Swedenborgian illuminist was made to pass through a series of degrees, which represented ‘tous les allégories du grade noir, par toutes les monstruosités de la terre’.56 Echoing these catechistical rituals of examination, vastation, and regeneration, Blake showed the Angel ‘By degrees’ how to achieve greater illumination. Due to the Angel’s rationalistic and puritanical perspective, he saw a monstrous serpent that appeared at Paris — a possible allusion to Cagliostro’s Masonic serpent that, according to the Inquisition, was currently fuelling the Revolution in France.57 Even worse, the prophetic serpent was seen ‘advancing toward us with all the fury of a spiritual existence’. For the conservative Angel, these revolutionary visions were monstrous and bestial, but for the radical Blake they were natural and beautiful.

Then, to further contrast their points of view, Blake clothed himself in white — a ceremonial change of clothing used by the initiates of Schroepfer, Cagliostro, and the Swedenborgian Freemasons in London. He then gathered up Swedenborg’s volumes and journeyed through the heavens. He showed the Angel ‘seven houses of brick’, which perhaps drew on Swedenborg’s architectural-Masonic symbolism for the historical stages of the Judaeo-Christian church.58 Then,

one we enter’d; in it were a number of monkeys, baboons, & all of that species, chain’d by the middle, grinning and snatching at one another, but withheld by the shortness of their chains: however, I saw that they sometimes grew numerous, and then the weak were caught by the strong, and with a grinning aspect, first coupled with, & then devour’d, by plucking off first one limb and then another, till the body was left a helpless trunk; this after grinning & kissing it with seeming fondness, they devour’d too; and here & there I saw one savourily picking the flesh off his own tail; as the stench terribly annoy’d us both, we went into the mill, & I in my hand brought the skeleton of a body, which in the mill was Aristotle’s Analytics.

So the Angel said: ‘thy phantasy has imposed upon me, & thou oughtest to be ashamed’.

I answer’d: ‘we impose on one another, & it is but lost time to converse with you whose works are only Analytic’. Opposition is true Friendship.59

By conjuring up a painful memory of the bungled Cagliostroan séance, when the ‘chaste idealism’ of certain Swedenborgians made them see brutally promiscuous monkeys (whereas the sexually liberated illuminists would see happily copulating angels), Blake perhaps wanted to remind the Angel that his earlier conservatism and prudishness had prevented him from making a visionary breakthrough to conjugal love and spiritual bliss. Provocatively, in spring 1791, when Blake was still working on The Marriage, the Inquisition published its version of the 1786 séance in London:

At his [Cagliostro’s] arrival in London, he was invited to assist at the principal lodge in that city, and was received with uncommon honour and distinction [. . .] he received several persons of rank into the [Egyptian] association, and made use of four pupils, of distinguished birth. On this occasion a singular accident occurred to him, the cause of which he pretends to be entirely ignorant of. Some ladies and gentlemen having petitioned for authority to make use of the crystal vase, etc. in the same manner as himself, he granted his permission accordingly; but their labours proved so unfortunate, that they beheld the apparitions of monkeys and devils, instead of angels, as they expected.60

Cagliostro had not revealed (even though undergoing torture) that the London theurgists were Swedenborgians, because he tried to convince the Inquisition that he rejected the illuminist system of Masonry. Thus, he told the Inquisitors that while in Courland,

He perceived here, as elsewhere, that their [Masons’] ceremonies were disfigured and disgraced by magic and superstition; the principles of Swedenborg, a Swedish preacher; and those of M. Falc, a Jew rabbi, who are regarded as chiefs by the illuminated. He wished to undeceive them, and to initiate them in the rites of his Egyptian masonry.61

However, Cagliostro had actually boasted to his initiates that Swedenborg and Falk were great men who were instructed in the deepest mysteries of conjugal love (sexual magic) and illuminist Masonry.62

Like the Cagliostroans Nordenskjöld and Thorild, who won over the more ardent Swedenborgians while frightening away the more timid, Blake eventually won over the reluctant Angel to his antinomian vision. In Plate 24 of The Marriage, Blake remarked happily:

Note: This Angel, who is now become a Devil, is my particular friend: we often read the Bible together in its infernal or diabolical sense, which the world shall have if they behave well.

I also have the Bible of Hell, which the world shall have whether they will or no.63

Thompson suggests that the ‘Angel’ was Benedict Chastanier, who struggled against the puritans and reactionaries in the society.64 When Cagliostro was in London, Chastanier collaborated in Masonic efforts to use the rituals of animal magnetism to recruit new illuminés. After Morande’s attacks and Gordon’s imprisonment, he warned the Swedenborgians away from the Egyptian lodges, but he later became an advocate of liberated sexuality and revolutionary politics. On 1 January 1790 Chastanier wrote Emanuel Swedenborg’s New-Year’s Gift to His Readers, which featured a Blakean epigraph: ‘Sons of Liberty, Children of the Free-born Woman!’ Like Blake, he chastized the predestinators who distorted the meaning of Swedenborg’s Conjugial Love, and he affirmed the possible transformation of even a villain (devil?) into ‘an Angel of Light, agreeable to the system of Jacob Behmen, Georg Welling, and most of the Hermetic Philosophers’.65 Then, taking aim at the sectarians at Eastcheap, Chastanier proclaimed that anyone who lives a good and religious life — whether Catholic, Lutheran, Jew or Moslem — can become ‘a part of the Great Man, called the True Church of God’, because it is ‘an interior and celestial Church’.

Another candidate for the ‘Angel’ is John Augustus Tulk, a neighbour of Blake in Lambeth and a collector of his works, who was persuaded by Chastanier and the Swedes to support the sexual and theosophical agenda of the illuminists. After reading Chastanier’s Latin original of Conjugial Love, Tulk wrote to a Swedenborgian journal to affirm ‘That true Conjugial Love is naked’ and that ‘the angels of the third heaven go naked when at home’.66 Moreover,

In bed they lie copulated as they were created, and thus they sleep; they say that it cannot be otherwise, because essential conjugial love, which is perpetual copulates. [. . .] I was conveyed by a change of state by the Lord towards the left to a certain mountain, where they all were, both husbands and wives, naked. [. . .] When any new-comers from the world of such a nature arrive, they examine them, which is done by stripping off their clothes.67

According to Swedenborg and Cagliostro, angels are actually men who are regenerated to a higher state by illuminist training. Thus, it is not surprising that some of their disciples expected to achieve angelic copulation as they gradually achieved spiritual illumination. The continuing controversies over sex and concubinage that appear in rival Swedenborgian journals shed light on anecdotes about Blake’s own desire to go naked and live in a community of women. Though he mocked the prudes at Eastcheap — and, by extension, their prudish version of Swedenborg — he found sympathetic friends among the illuminists. In The Marriage Blake illustrates his winning argument that Jesus ‘acted from impulse’ and broke all the repressive Mosaic commandments by drawing a sperm-like figure whose triangular head encloses the Hebrew letter yod, which represents the male genital power in the Cabala.68 He further identified visionary sexuality with Cagliostroan imagery when he showed a nude male with genitals proudly exposed, gazing upwards for inspiration, in front of ‘a shadowy single pyramid’ (or, in another version, two overlapping pyramids). In the initiation ritual of the Egyptian Rite, a triangle appeared above the head of the Master (inscribed with Hebrew letters for the sacred name of Jehovah), and the candidate contemplated a picture of a great pyramid.69 According to the Inquisition, Cagliostro advocated free love as well as sexual magic to ‘inveigle the free masons, whose minds were already debauched’.70

From summer 179I onwards, as many London newspapers and journals ran excerpts from the Inquisition biography, the ‘regular’ Masons were put on the defensive. Even the liberal-minded editor of the European Magazine felt compelled to warn his fellow Masons against any further association with the Egyptian Rite. From October to December 1791, he warned Loutherbourg and his artistic associates to keep their Cagliostroan beliefs (‘religious absurdities’) to themselves, and he complained that there were too many of Cagliostro’s disciples ‘dispersed in England and other parts of Europe’.71 He hinted further that he knew the identities of Cagliostro’s ‘weak and wicked disciples [. . .] whose names we dare not mention, but of whose tenets and practices we shall give such broad hints, that many of their acquaintances will know them by the outline we shall draw of their finished characters’. He then placed an uncomfortable public spotlight on the Swedenborgians:

In the first place then, the foundation of all the nonsensical pretensions to curing of diseases by animal magnetism; all the mystic dogmas of a deceased German Baron [Swedenborg], a voluminous polemical writer, and the founder of a new religion, if it deserves that title; all the absurd system of sympathies and aversions at first sight; and the more ridiculous presumption of medical conjurers by the inspection of urine — are more or less related to the mysteries professed and practised by Joseph Balsamo, alias Count Cagliostro.72

Speaking in defence of rational, deistic Masonry, the editor lamented that ‘it was by means of masonry [. . .] that this adventurer was enabled to procure a celebrity, of which a parallel has not occurred in the history of imposters’. Reluctantly deserting his Whig principles, he even argued that the Inquisition was ‘not dishonourable’ for condemning Cagliostro ‘on the subject of mystical Egyptian Masonry’, for his teachings tended to subversion of religion and government.73

As Blake continued to express his support for revolutionary illuminism, he may have been moved to respond to the torrent of conservative abuse of Cagliostro by ‘regular’ Masons and conservative Swedenborgians. In ‘A Song of Liberty’ (a ‘pseudo-musical’ coda probably added to The Marriage in late 1792), Blake reinforced his rejection of rational, deistic Freemasonry and his support of irrational, theistic illuminism:


Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn, no longer in deadly black, with hoarse note curse the sons of joy. Nor his accepted brethren whom tyrant he calls free: lay the bound or build the roof. Nor pale religious lechery call that virginity that wishes but acts not!

For every thing that lives is Holy.74

In his unusually explicit allusions to Freemasonry (the ‘free and accepted brethren’ who build the Temple of Wisdom), Blake perhaps expressed the hope that the new Grand Master — the once radical Prince of Wales — would ‘illuminize’the English lodges and live up to the promise of his earlier ‘Egyptian’ vision.75 Certainly, the Prince’s collaboration with the Cagliostroan Duke of Orleans, who revisited London from October 1789 to July 1790, gave new hope to British illuminists.76

That Blake was aware of Orleans’s Cagliostroan sympathies was revealed in his unpublished poem, The French Revolution (1791), in which he portrayed the Duke as a magnetizing Grand Master, who used the Egyptian ritual of breathing on the face of the initiate.77 Blake’s Masonic friends would also have viewed his description of a prisoner in the Bastille as a portrait of Cagliostro, which conflated the magician’s earlier imprisonment in Paris with his present one in Italy:

[. . .] the den nam’d Horror held a man
Chain’d hand and foot, round his neck an iron band, bound to the impregnable wall.
In his soul was the serpent coil’d round in his heart, hid from the light, as in a cleft rock;
And the man was confin’d for a writing prophetic [. . .]78

George Cumberland, who had returned from Rome to London, noted that Cagliostro ‘was condemned to the Castle S. Leo for Life’, and he may have informed Blake that the Cophta was currently chained to the wall in the stone fortress of San Leo, which was perched upon a jagged peak (a ‘cleft rock’) in the Appenine mountains.79 Moreover, Cagliostro’s arrest had been triggered by his prophetic utterance on the fall of the Bastille and a mob attack on Versailles — an attack to be led by the Duke of Orleans.80

What is most provocative about Blake’s ‘Song of Liberty’, however, is its startling resemblance to Mozart’s Masonic opera, first performed in Vienna in September 1791. As Robbins Landon observes, Mozart feared that the new Emperor Leopold II would close the lodges, especially those affiliated with the ‘Asiatic Brethren’, and thus he ‘risked a long shot — to save the Craft by an allegorical opera, ‘The Magic Flute’. 81 Many Freemasons assumed that Mozart modelled the Egyptian priest Sarastro on Cagliostro and that the composer paid a daring tribute to the imprisoned magician.82 Provocatively, on the frontispiece to the libretto, Mozart included two large monkeys bound by chains, among the Masonic emblems of pyramid, compasses, and broken columns.83 Moreover, before Mozart’s hero Tamino is led by Sarastro into the Egyptian Temple of Wisdom, he plays his magic flute and attracts a horde of wild beasts — who are portrayed by actors costumed as orang-outangs or baboons.84 As the great Masonic musician praised the joys of conjugal love on earth and in heaven, perhaps he — like Blake, Cagliostro, and the Lambeth illuminists — believed that the promiscuous baboons could become regenerated angels.85

Marsha Keith Schuchard
Atlanta, Georgia

  1. E. P. Thompson, Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law (New York, 1993), pp. xii, xiv.↩︎

  2. Ibid., p. 209, n. 24. The phrase ‘Free and Accepted Brethren’ was the well-known, traditional title for initiated Freemasons; see A. E. Waite, A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry 2 vols (New York, 1970), I, xiii, 84; also, Stuart Peterfreund, ‘Blake, Freemasonry, and the Builder’s Task’, Mosaic, 17 (1984), 37-38.↩︎

  3. For the background, see my article, ‘The Secret Masonic History of Blake’s Swedenborg Society’, Blake: an Illustrated Quarterly, 26 (1992), 40-51.↩︎

  4. The universalist Swedenborgians Francis Barthelemon and J. A. Tulk both lived near Blake and welcomed foreign Freemasons (such as Benedict Chastanier, Count Grabianka, Augustus and Carl Nordenskjöld, Carl Wadström, Thomas Thorild, Phillipe de Loutherbourg, Jacob Duché, and Edward Maubach) and English occultists (such as General Charles Rainsford, Peter Woulfe, William Bryan and Richard Cosway) to their homes in Lambeth.↩︎

  5. On the Swedenborgian contents and controversies about the dates of the plates, see Joseph Viscomi, Blake and the Idea of the Book (Princeton, 1993), pp.235-37; and William Blake: The Early Illuminated Books, ed. by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi (William Blake Trust, 1993), pp. 78-85, 116-39, 208-19.↩︎

  6. David Erdman, The Illuminated Blake (London, 1975), pp. 116-17.↩︎

  7. See my ‘Yeats and the Unknown Superiors: Swedenborg, Falk, and Cagliostro’, in Secret Texts, ed. by Marie Roberts and Hugh Ormsby-Lennon (New York, 1995).↩︎

  8. Sophie in London, 1786, Being the Diary of Sophie von la Roche, ed. by Claire Williams (London, 1933), pp. 139, 148-49.↩︎

  9. Gentleman’s Magazine, 56 (19 April 1786). See Hubert Le Marle, Philippe Egalité: ‘Grand Maître’ de la Rèvolution (Paris, 1989), pp. 19-26, 62-69.↩︎

  10. Morande’s attacks on Cagliostro ran steadily from September 1786 through July 1788 in the Courier de l’Europe. The newspaper had a large international audience, and it had been used by the Swedenborgians on 1 April 1783 to recruit members for their Masonic Universal Society. However, by 25 May 1783, the Courier ridiculed Swedenborg and his disciples, who ‘renouvella les folies mistiques des Bourignon, & des Guion’.↩︎

  11. In the issue for 3 November 1786, Morande pretended not to believe Cagliostro’s claim that he was visited by ‘personnes de la cour’. This was a veiled threat to reveal the names of Cagliostro’s high-ranking ‘partisans’.↩︎

  12. This political polarization within British Freemasonry was rooted in older Jacobite-Hanoverian rivalries, in which the ‘ancient’ Jacobite lodges were called ‘irregular’ and the ‘modern’ Hanoverian lodges ‘regular’. The split was exacerbated by the American War of Independence, when the Ancients supported the rebels and the Moderns the government.↩︎

  13. Courier de l’Europe (3 November 1786). 290-91; W. Harry Rylands, Records of the Lodge Original, No. 1, now the Lodge Antiquity, No. 2, 2 vols (London, 1928), II, 29-32; Thomas Fenn, Prince of Wales’s Lodge, No. 259: List of Members from the Time of Its Constitution (London, 1890).↩︎

  14. Charlotta von der Recke, Nachricht von des Berüchtigten Cagliostro (Berlin and Stettin, 1787), p. xvii; J. W. Goethe, Italian Journey (1786-1788), trans. by W. H. Auden and E. Mayer (London, 1962), p. 245.↩︎

  15. Constantin Photiades, Count Cagliostro, trans. by K. S. Selvankar (London, 1932), p. 222. The original French edition of 1932 provides more thorough documentation.↩︎

  16. See my ‘Blake’s Mr. Femality: Freemasonry, Espionage, and the Double-Sexed’, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, 22 (1992), 59-60.↩︎

  17. Photiades, Cagliostro, 19.↩︎

  18. See Allen Foxley, An Account of the Lodge of the Nine Muses (London, 1940); J. P. Dawson, ‘The Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini, 1728-1813)’ Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, 86 (1973), 87-99.↩︎

  19. G. E. Bentley, ‘Mainaduc, Magic, and Madness: George Cumberland and the Blake Connection,’ Notes and Queries, 236 (September 1991), 294-96. Cumberland called Cosway ‘an illuminati’ — a term with precise Masonic significance at the time.↩︎

  20. Courier de l’Europe (21 November 1786); The Works of James Gillray, ed. by Thomas Wright (reprinted London, 1968), plate 37.↩︎

  21. Photiades, Cagliostro, 222.↩︎

  22. Information on Cosway’s baboon communicated by Stephen Lloyd, who is completing a biography of the artist.↩︎

  23. One of the more lurid tales of rapacious baboons was transmitted by Linnaeus, a cousin of Swedenborg, to Lord Monboddo; see Margaret McKay, ‘Peacock, Monboddo, and the Swedish Connection’, Notes and Queries, 235 (December 1990), 422-24.↩︎

  24. Emanuel Swedenborg, The Delights of Wisdom Concerning Conjugial Love, trans. by Alfred Acton (London, 1970), p. 422.↩︎

  25. See the account of the Rosicrucian regeneration of Madame d’Urfé in Giacomo Casanova, History of My Life, trans. by Willard Trask (New York, 1968).Swedenborg also collaborated with actors in developing theatrical scenes for Illuminist ceremonies.↩︎

  26. [Monsignor Barberi], The Life of Joseph Balsamo, Commonly called the Count Cagliostro (Dublin, 1792), pp. 153, 159. The Italian original was published by the Inquisition in late spring 1791, and it was quickly translated into English and other languages. I will quote from the Dublin edition, which was owned by Blake’s friend Cosway.↩︎

  27. ‘Epistolary Correspondence of the Earlier Members of the Church’, Monthly Observer and New Church Record, I (1857), 420; Paley, ‘New Heaven’, 22-24; Thompson, Witness, 137-38.↩︎

  28. Courier de l‘Europe (19 October 1786), 255-56.↩︎

  29. Condensed paraphrase of Morande’s long description in ‘Miracle des Illuminés’, Courier de l’Europe (26 November 1787), 270-72.↩︎

  30. [Barberi], Life of Joseph Balsamo, pp. 151-52.↩︎

  31. See Thomé’s article on animal magnetism in Journal Encyclopedique, VI (1 September 1785); reprinted in Tableau Analytique et Raisonné by Benedict Chastanier (London, 1786).↩︎

  32. Rüdiger Joppien, Phillipe Jacques de Loutherbourg, R.A., 1740-1812 (London, 1973); Morton Paley, The Apocalyptic Sublime (New Haven, 1986),pp. 51-70.↩︎

  33. [Barberi], Life of Joseph Balsamo, pp. 196-97.↩︎

  34. Cyrus Redding, Fifty Years’ Recollections (London, 1858), III, 114-15, Between 1787 and 1800, Cosway acquired five books on Cagliostro.↩︎

  35. Martin Butlin, The Paintings and Drawings of William Blake (New Haven, 1981), pp. 113, 127-28, 251.↩︎

  36. Martin Butlin, ‘Six New Early Drawings by William Blake and a Reattribution’, Blake. An Illustrated Quarterly, 23 (1989), 108-109.↩︎

  37. [Barberi], Life of Joseph Balsamo, pp. 153-54, 165.↩︎

  38. World (28 January; 21 February; 12 March; 9 and 31 July, 1789).↩︎

  39. Journal Novi-Jerusulemite (1788), 159.↩︎

  40. According to the World (6 February, 1790), letters from Cagliostro were read ‘at the late Whig meeting’ in London, and he proclaimed ‘the Whig cause as his own’.↩︎

  41. Rambler’s Magazine, VIII, 163-65. The serialized memoirs ran for months and contributed to reviving popular interest in Cagliostro.↩︎

  42. Bentley, ‘Mainaduc’, Notes and Queries, 236 (September 1991), 295-96.↩︎

  43. Schuchard, ‘Secret Masonic History’, Blake: an Illustrated Quarterly, 26 (1992) 45, 48-51.↩︎

  44. Stellan Arvidson, Thorild och den Franska Revolutionen (Stockholm, 1938), pp. 140, 150.↩︎

  45. [Thomas Thorild], True Heavenly Religion Restored . . . by a Philosopher of the North (London, 1790), pp. 65-66.↩︎

  46. [Thomas Thorild], The Sermon of Sermons: Or the Impiety of Priests, and the Fall of Religion (London, 1789), p. 329. This work was sold by Blake’s friend Joseph Johnson and reviewed in Johnson’s Analytical Review, VI (January 1790), 108.↩︎

  47. Thomas Thorild, Samlade Skriften (Stockholm, 1934). II, p. 409.↩︎

  48. Arvidson, Thorild, p. 150.↩︎

  49. Erdman, Illuminated, p. 100.↩︎

  50. Thorild, Samlade Skriften, p. 324.↩︎

  51. See my ‘Yeats’; also, Jacob Katz, Jews and Freemasons in Europe (Cambridge, 1970) pp. 26-53; Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah (New York, 1974), pp. 304-308. and Du frankisme au jacobinisme (Paris, 1981), pp. 27-42.↩︎

  52. Christopher McIntosh, The Rose Cross (Leiden, 1992), p. 50. The society was initially called the Gold-und Rosenkreutzer.↩︎

  53. See Ludwig Ernst Borowski, Cagliostro (Koenigsberg, 1790), pp. vi, 125, 166, 170; and Anon., Ist Cagliostro Chef der Illuminaten? (Gotha, 1790), pp. 33. 183-84, 222-25. General Rainsford, Lambert de Lintot, Ebenezer Sibly and other Swedenborgian Masons collected many of the German tracts on the Asiatic Brethren.↩︎

  54. [Barberi], Life of Joseph Balsamo, p. 64. The Inquisition biography caused a sensation, and it was widely reviewed. Joseph Johnson published a review in his Analytical Review, XI (September 1791).↩︎

  55. Albert Mackey, An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, rev. edn by W. J. Hughan and E. L. Hawkins (New York, 1921), p. 174. On the Masonic symbolism of Blake’s compasses, see Anthony Blunt, ‘Blake’s “Ancient of Days”: the Symbolism of the Compasses’, Journal ofthe Warburg and Courtauld Institute, 2 (1938), 53-63.↩︎

  56. Auguste Viatte, Les Sources occultes de romantisme, 2 vols (Paris, 1928), I, 100.↩︎

  57. The serpent appears ‘at the east, distant about three degrees’, which is the approximate distance from London to Paris; see David Erdman, Blake: Prophet Against Empire, 3rd edn (Princeton, 1977), p. 181.↩︎

  58. M. Eaves, R. Essick and J. Viscomi, William Blake: The Early Illuminated Books, p. 217, n. 10, 18-21; p. 218, n. 32.↩︎

  59. Erdman, Illuminated, pp. 116-17.↩︎

  60. [Barberi], Life of Joseph Balsamo, pp. 166-67.↩︎

  61. Ibid., pp. 152-53.↩︎

  62. C. G. Salzmann to P. J. Willermoz (Strasburg: 31 December 1780). Transcript in Lalande Mss. 1047, Wellcome Institute of History of Medicine.↩︎

  63. Erdman, Illuminated, p. 24.↩︎

  64. Thompson, Witness, p. 145, n. 47.↩︎

  65. [Benedict Chastanier], Emanuel Swedenborg’s New-Year’s Gift to his Readers for MDCCXCI (London, 1791), pp. 5, 27. 30-33. He notes that he wrote the work in January 1790 but was prevented from publishing it — probably by Robert Hindmarsh, the increasingly conservative printer — until January 1791. The anonymity of author and printer reflects the illuminists’ vulnerability to spies and prosecution.↩︎

  66. The New Magazine of Knowledge Concerning Heaven and Hell (London, 1790-91). pp. 193-94. Tulk’s letter was published in May 1791.↩︎

  67. Ibid., pp. 194-96.↩︎

  68. See A. E. Waite, The Holy Kabbalah (New Hyde Park, 1965), pp. 202-207, 300-35.↩︎

  69. Waite, Encyclopedia, I, 94.↩︎

  70. [Barberi], Life of Joseph Balsamo, pp. 182-83.↩︎

  71. See the European Magazine, 20 (October-December 1791), 275, 366, 437-39.↩︎

  72. Ibid., 20 (November 1791). 366. Swedenborg was often mistakenly identified as German in the press.↩︎

  73. Ibid., 20 (October 1791). 275.↩︎

  74. Erdman, Illuminated, p. 124↩︎

  75. The odd placement of the colon (‘he calls free: lay the bound’) may be a defensive measure that renders his statement ambiguous.↩︎

  76. Gentleman’s Magazine, 59 (1789), 951; Le Marle, Philipe Egalité, pp: 401-37.↩︎

  77. William Blake, The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, rev. edn by David Erdman and Harold Bloom (New York, 1988), pp. 294, 801. For the Cagliostroan breathing ritual, see [Barberi], Life of Joseph Balsamo, p. 139.↩︎

  78. Blake, Complete Poetry, p. 287.↩︎

  79. Bentley, ‘Mainaduc’, Notes and Queries, 295.↩︎

  80. Denyse Dalbian, Le Comte de Cagliostro (Paris, 1983), p. 254.↩︎

  81. H. C. Robbins Landon, 1791: Mozart’s Last Year (London, 1988), p. 60.↩︎

  82. M. J. Bopp, ‘Cagliostro, fondateur de la Maçonnerie egyptienne’, Revue d’Alsace, 96 (1957). 102-103; Dalbian, Le Comte de Cagliostro, p. 269; J. A. Ecklemeyer, The Cultural Context of Mozart’s ‘MagicFlute’, 2 vols (Lewiston, 1991), I, 175-79. Petrus Vigil Thun, an old family friend of Mozart and an ‘Asiatic’, had recently protected Cagliostro in Trent, just before the Cophta’s fatal journey to Rome.↩︎

  83. W. A. Mozart, The Magic Flute, trans. by R. and T. Martin (New York, 1952), frontispiece, pp. 52, 110, 113, 134. Also, see Jacques Chailley, The Magic Flute, Masonic Opera (London, 1972).↩︎

  84. See Schickaneder’s drawing and the lyrics in The Magic Flute, ed. by Nicholas John (London, 1980), pp. 16, 86.↩︎

  85. That Blake may have been influenced by The Magic Flute is suggested by the activities of Joseph Haydn in Lambeth in 1791-92, when the musician worked with various Swedenborgians and Freemasons to convince the Prince of Wales and the reluctant English public of Mozart’s musical and Masonic greatness. Chailley argues that Haydn had learned from Mozart about his plan for the opera before leaving for London in January 1791. See Jacques Chailley, ‘Joseph Haydn and the Freemasons’, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Music, ed. by H. C. Robbins Landon and R. E. Chapman (New York, 1970), p. 122; Robbins Landon, 1791, pp. 55-57, 73, 127-35; and Haydn: Chronicle and Works, 5 vols (Bloomington, 1976), III, 63-67, 112, 121, 168-71; John Webb, ‘Joseph Haydn — Freemason and Musician’, Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, 94 (1981), 61-82.↩︎