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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/596

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

desire?" 'Holy Father, to die this moment at thy feet were for me the highest bliss," replied the kneeling penitent. "Not so," was the benignant response of the successor of St. Peter; "thy life is still very useful in combats for the faith." His Holiness then pointed to Taxil's writings on the shelves of his library, declaring that he had read them all through with extreme satisfaction, and encouraged him to continue his exposures of these satellites of Satan and their abominations. Taxil left the Vatican with the papal benediction and with the firm conviction that he could devise no better means of currying favor with the Apostolic See than by inventing tales about the homage paid by the Freemasons to the devil, and determined to work this rich vein to its utmost capacity. He also came to the conclusion that he could imagine nothing so absurd that it would not be received in Catholic circles as authentic and indorsed by infallible authority.

His work had an immense pecuniary success, and thus attained the chief object which he had in view. More than one hundred thousand copies of the original French edition were sold, and it was translated into English, German, Italian, and Spanish. This result is not so surprising, if we remember that nearly all the bishops and other clergy of the Catholic Church acted as voluntary and extremely zealous agents for the diffusion of these Revelations, which they seemed to regard as a new apocalypse designed to unveil the mysteries of Babylon and disclose the present doings of Satan and dominion of anti-christ. Of the utterly apocryphal character of the Revelations they do not appear to have entertained the slightest suspicion, although the hoax was clearly perceptible to every unprejudiced mind. The German translation by the Jesuit Father Gruber, which appeared at Freiburg, in Switzerland, and at Paderborn, in Westphalia, omitted the volume entitled The Masonic Sisters, on account of the indecency of its contents, although accepted as true and deemed especially damaging to the Masonic fraternity. However desirable it might be to tear away the mask of philanthropy from the face of Freemasonry and let the world see its devilish features, it was thought best not to outrage the moral sense of the community by uncovering "the filthiness of the hellish crew."

In 1892 Taxil's coadjutor, Dr. Bataille (a pseudonym of Dr. Karl Hacks, a German from the Rhineland), began to issue a serial publication, entitled The Devil in the Nineteenth Century, purporting to embody the results of his observations as ship's surgeon during his travels in various countries, and especially in the Orient, where he had opportunities of studying Satanism in its diverse manifestations. He begins by referring to the encyclical letter