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Antoine, Orllie

Ever since the invention of writing the race of authors has had a share of individualities, eccentrics, wild men and madmen as much as any other art or calling; the tribe of Masonic authors, one must fear, has had more than its share but it is doubtful if among them there ever has been a more incredible man than the Frenchman, Orllie Antoine. This impossible man was born on May 12, 1825, in the Department of Prigeux, not many miles from Bordeaux. He grew up a tall young man with a French beard and a wild light in his eyes, and studied law. But instead of practicing that respectable profession he devoured travel books by the hundred, and therein was his undoing because he decided to become an adventurer. In 1858 he took to himself the title of Prince de Tounens, crossed over to Southampton, and from there took ship for South America. The southern third of Argentina and Chile was at that time occupied by some fifteen or twenty Indian peoples, untouched by the White man, among whom the most powerful were the Araucanians, a warrior folk somewhat like our own Apaches, and famous for the fierceness of their battles; Charles Darwin accused them of being cannibals (but erroneously).

This people, along with a number of their neighbor peoples, long had a legend that some day a white man would come, and would be their leader and paramount king, and would sweep the Spanish invaders out of the land. Orllie had read about this in a book, and he set out to be that white man; indeed, while still on the boat he crowned himself King of the Araucanians with the title of Antoine l e, and drew up a very detailed code of laws by which he intended to govern the tribes whom he had never seen, in a country of whose location he was ignorant. He succeeded in his amazing coup ! By 1860 he was sending from the central fortress of his chiefs heavily ribboned documents to "neighboring chiefs of state" in Chile and Argentina. His official title was "King of Araucania and Patagonia." For a narrative of the adventures and excitements of his reign a reader must consult the history books of South America, because there were too many of them to be crowded into a paragraph.

During one period he was captured by the Chileans, thrown into a prison at Santiago, was rescued by a French consul, and returned to France. For six years he made his living as a journalist in Paris, but in spare time continued in the campaign for a "French empire" in Patagonia which resulted finally in his being returned to Patagonia in a French warship. It was in that period, probably, that Orllie became a Mason.

In 1865 the Pope excommunicated Freemasons in France. As soon as Orllie discovered his own name in the blacklist he appealed to the Vatican, but without success. To prove that he was not an atheist, as the Pope had alleged that every Mason was, he composed a book of Masonic prayers and published it. The title (translated) was Masonic Prayers, by the Prince O. A. De Tounens, King of Araucania and Patagonia; it contained thirty-two prayers, and sold for twenty-five centimes.

He died in 1878. His rightful and legitimate title (far more legitimate than half the crowns in Europe) he bequeathed to his heirs. It never became operative again because the Christian soldiers of Chile and Argentina massacred the Indian peoples and left nobody to govern.

NOTE, Orllie Antoine was in no sense a crank or a fanatic but a cultivated, intelligent man who made friends and supporters among the first men of France. His memoirs possess the genuine sparkle of literature, and would make somebody's fortune if they were turned into a biography in English. For a brief epitome, written on the spot where Orllie once reigned, see chapter in This Way South-ward, by A. F. Tschiffely; W. W. Norton & Co. ; 1940. The same writer was author of Tschiflely'a Ride, an account of a famous journey on horse-back from Patagonia to Washington, D. C.

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