Daniel Gardiner, 32°
Guest Book Review Editor
Berman, Ric, Espionage,
Diplomacy & the Lodge:
Charles Delafaye and The
Secret Department of the
Post Office, The Old Stable
Press, 2017, 316 pages,
softbound, some b&w
price $25.00, available
on the Internet for about
$23.50 and up.
Since Ric Berman’s PhD
thesis was rearranged and
published in 2012 as
Foundations of Modern Freemasonry, he has become Treasurer of the
premier lodge of research in London, Quatuor Coronati Lodge
No. 2076. In a show of confidence, he was tapped as the Presto-nian Lecturer for 2016 to issue a more accessible, popular (and
shorter) version of that book.
2017’s Espionage, Diplomacy & the Lodge opens up the world
of the Moderns Grand Lodge from the 1720s through the ’40s
via the Post Office and its chief figure, Charles Delafaye.
The Post Office sounds as if it should be dull, maybe populated
by clerks passing mail, with a blizzard of under-secretaries performing administrative duties. In fact, there was nothing boring
about the under-secretaries of the “Secret Department” of the
Post Office (one department for the North, one for the South),
because they employed code-breakers and decipherers on intercepted mail relating to English national security interests.
The Post Office and these under-secretaries ran items in
newspapers publicly as an arm of the state, and collected negligible fees that amassed into a slush fund able to finance covert
operations. Masonic lodges become simply one more method
by which the Secret Department (precursor to modern intelligence agencies and cryptanalysts) stay ahead of plots and conspiracies.
One French religious refugee—like the Grand Lodge’s leading figure Grand Master Jean Theophilius Desaguliers—is Freemason Charles Delafaye: chief spy-master for the new government. He is the subject of all of Chapter One, and virtually the
entire remainder of the book relies upon the pay-off from understanding Delafaye’s role in the new government.
This is an exercise in “world-building.” It can be dizzying to
keep track of the names of figures (especially when referred to
by the shortened names of their titles), policies enacted, and
places though, and I strongly recommend that if they’re intimi-
dating, simply pass over them and keep reading. The take-away
is always: the recently installed (1714) English government
needed an intelligence branch in order to navigate a treacherous
new world, and you’re going to be reading about spies.
To counter anti-government (Jacobite) lodges in France,
Berman introduces jewelers to upper society, celebrity chefs to
the elite, and tailors to ambassadors – all Masons – who all quietly form lodges in key European locations or attach themselves
to influential people.
In today’s world of conspiracies, half-baked theories, and fiction, the author footnotes his way into the social elite, and culture of 1720–40s England and makes the case for a real history
of Freemasonry where plots and conspiracies were actually unraveled, some of the half-baked theories proved to be true, and
that truth was stranger than fiction!
McNaughton, John Wm.,
Reclaiming the Soul of
Freemasonry, Volume One,
The Supreme Council, 33°,
Ancient and Accepted
Scottish Rite, Northern
Masonic Jurisdiction, 2017,
73 pages, hardbound, some
charts & graphs, ISBN-
List price $19.95 at the
NMJ shop (+ about $7.95
shipping), Kindle version
available for $9.99.
Ill. Bro. John McNaughton left the office of Sovereign Grand
Commander for the Scottish Rite, NMJ in a way that leaders
often dream of, but don’t always manage to accomplish: with a
clear “Path Forward,” to use the term used in this book with his
name attached to it.
After summarizing survey responses from non-Masons and
Masons alike in Ohio and Massachusetts, a professional marketing and researching company (Cercone Brown Company)
delivered surprising results to our sister jurisdiction. It seems
likely that the course that they now chart with confidence will
make this one of the most talked about Masonic books in 2018.
Throughout this short book (it checks in at less than 75 pages), McNaughton’s mission is clear: deliver an honest, no-kid-