appeal of the kit-kat style

Its popular entertainment to attribute the unknown throughout history to secret societies, the esoteric forces and hints of sacred sexuality gone awry. From Umberto Eco’s Prague Cemetery, Dan Brown or even Schmuley Boteach and his blending of implied messianism with  “kosher sex” the sort of kit-kat populist styles of amusement has about as much depth as say Madonna writing a book on the Kaballah. But, it does capture the public’s attention. The question still hangs overhead as to whether what is termed as hell-fire clubs, Bohemian groves, are really secret societies or a gaggle of bored and wealthy people who want to generate gossip more than taking over the planet. One of those speculated  secret societies was the Hell Fire Club in England, and its alleged attachment to Freemasonry.

This seems dubious at best. Freemasonry is a study of controlled moderation, a normalizing of intrinsic intensity and potentially intellectually demanding at higher levels. Hell-fire clubs promote excess in the extreme, where ostensibly Freemasonry engages its members to respect the law and obey a moral set of precepts, “to make a good man better.” Hell-Fire groupings in contrast, promote drinking, drugs, debauchery, perversion and flaunting of social convention. The legendary tales of witchcraft and devil worship appear to be just that; unsubstantiated and folkloric sprinkled with some anti-clericism.

( see link at end )…Francis Dashwood was born in 1708 into an illustrious line of Turkey merchants  who had raised themselves into the ranks of the aristocracy by a combination of hard work, political prowess, and strategic marriage. Dashwood’s mother died when he was two years of age and he was soon packed off to Eton for his education. Upon hearing of his father’s death in 1724, he locked himself in a cellar for a week to get drunk.

Sir Francis Dashwood. Painting attributed to William Hogarth, but he quality is not representative of Hogarth's work. ---In 1757, Dashwood commissioned William Hogarth to mimic Knapton’s painting in yet another portrait as a member of the Roman Catholic clergy. Sir Francis Dashwood at His Devotions, modelled on Agostino Carracci’s St. Francis Adoring the Cross portrays him leering at a naked, prostrate woman. An open book, referring to the poems of Ovid, and a masquerade mask lie nearby as a tray of fruits and wine tumbles to the floor, referring the viewer to the excess of Carnival and the attendant rites of Bacchus and Venus. The nimbus over his head is the profile of his friend and fellow Medemenham Monk John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.---Read More:

In 1726, the fledging rake left England for his grand tour of the Continent. To Dashwood’s credit, it must be said that this trip did inspire him with admiration for more than fine wine and courtesans. While in Florence, he made the acquaintance of the Catholic Jacobite Freemason Abbe Nicolini and was entered in the English Lodge there.

Tradition asserts that Dashwood’s Hell-Fire Club originally met in London at the George and Vulture Inn.  It is possible that Dashwood and his friends gathered in a public house to revel in the freedom now implicitly granted to witches, resurrecting Wharton’s Hell-Fire Club in a spirit of mockery. On the other hand, in the early eighteenth century taverns were frequently the meeting places for Masonic lodges, so it is also quite possible that the nascent Hell-Fire Club was a cabal of Jacobite Freemason s. Indeed it might very well have been both. Read More:

---Literati: A gathering of The Hellfire Club, a literary establishment frequented by Jonathan Swift Read more:


…Dashwood married Sarah Gould in 1745, but in an era when prostitution was the surest means for a woman to advance in society and the fate of nations might be determined by syphilis-spawned madness, it would have been unnatural for the Medmenham Monks not to have had some sexual aura about them. Legend portrays the Monks as indulging in sadomasochistic orgies, but given the rumours about Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Divan Club, one might well wonder if there is not a hint of Oriental sex magic in all this.

Certainly the monks engaged in ribald jesting. One of their members, probably the satirist George Selwyn, praised the Earl of Sandwich’s sexual prowess in an Anglo-Saxon-laced lampoon of Popes Essay on Man. Read More:

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