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Des Etangs, Nicholas Charles

A Masonic reformer, who was born at Allichamps, in France, on the 7th of September, 1766, and died at Paris on the 6th of May, 1847. He was initiated, in 1797, into Freemasonry in the Lodge l'Heureuse Rencontre, meaning in French of the Happy Meeting. He subsequently removed to Paris, where, in 1822, he became the Master of the Lodge of Trinosophs, which position he held for nine years. Thinking that the ceremonies of the Masonic system in France did not respond to the dignity of the Institution, but were gradually being diverted from its original design, he determined to commence a reform in the recognized dogmas, legends, and symbols, which he proposed to present in new forms more in accord with the manners of the present age.

There was, therefore, very little of conservation in the system of Des Etangs. It was, however, adopted for a time by many of the Parisian Lodges, and Des Etangs was loaded with honors. His Rite embraced five Degrees, viz., 1, 2, 3, the Symbolic Degrees; 4, the Rose Croix Rectified; 5, the Grand Elect Knight Kadosh. He gave to his system the title of Freemasonry Restored to Its True Principles, and fully developed it in his work entitled veritable Lien; des Peuples, meaning True Bond of the Peoples, which was first published in 1823. Des Etangs also published in 1825 a very able reply to the calumnies of the Abb Barruel, under the title of La Franc-Maonnerie justifie de toutes les calomnies rpandues contre elle, meaning Freemasonry justified against all the falsehoods spread against her. In the system of Des Etangs, the Builder of the Temple is supposed to symbolize the Good Genius of Humanity destroyed by Ignorance, Falsehood, and Ambition; and hence the Third Degree is supposed to typify the battle between Liberty and Despotism in the same spirit, the justness of destroying impious kings is considered the true dogma of the Rose Croix. In fact, the tumults of the French Revolution, in which Des Etangs took no inconsiderable share, had infected his spirit with a political temperament, which unfortunately appears too prominently in many portions of his Masonic system. Notwithstanding that he incorporated two of the high Degrees into his Rite, Des Etangs considered the three Symbolic Degrees as the only legitimate Freemasonry, and says that all other Degrees have been instituted by various associations and among different peoples on occasions when it was desired to revenge a death, to re- establish a prince, or to give success to a sect.

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