Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
At the court of Louis XV of France, Armand de Richelieu plots with Madame Jeanne du Barry, the king’s favorite, to replace Monsieur de Choiseul as the king’s minister. They consult Count de Fenix, who turns out to be the reputed sorcerer Joseph Balsamo; ten years earlier the necromancer had predicted that Madame du Barry would one day be queen of France.
Balsamo uses his wife, Lorenza Feliciani, as an unwilling medium for his sorcery. Through her he gives Richelieu and Madame du Barry compromising information contained in a letter sent by the duchess of Grammont to her brother, de Choiseul, showing that the minister is encouraging the revolt of parliament against the king and attempting to bring about war with England. Fortified with this information, Richelieu forces the king to dismiss his minister.
The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, standing in the crowd gathered outside the palace after the king at a “bed of justice” had defied parliament, is urged to attend a secret meeting at which he will be initiated into the mystic order of Freemasonry. Rousseau declares he could do more for the world by not joining the order. The chief of the council, who is Balsamo, reads a communication from Swedenborg that warns them of a traitor among them.
To demonstrate to the surgeon Marat, a member of the secret fraternity, that body and soul can be separated and then reunited and that the soul has a greater knowledge than the body,...
(The entire section is 1701 words.)
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