Contemporary accout of of Count Alessandro di Cagliostro
[Giovanni Barberi]. Leben und Thaten des Joseph Balsamo, sogenannten Grafen Cagliostro. Nebst einige Nachrichten über die Beschaffenheit und den Zustand der Freymaurersekten. Aus den Akten des 1790. in Rom wider ihn geführten Prozesses gehoben.
Zürich, Orell, Gessner u. Füszli u,. Comp., 1791. 8vo (18,2 x 10,5 cm). XII, 171, [1 blank] pp. Contemporary boards, red edges, green ribbon marker. With. owner's stamp ("Emil G. Schimdl") and label ("Carl G. Schmidl") on title-page. Marginal waterstain throughout, browned, corners bumped.
A scarce German translation of the most important contemporary account of Count Alessandro di Cagliostro, easily the greatest occult figure of the 18th century.
Born in Palermo, Sicily, Cagliostro (1743-1795) travelled through Europe, selling ‘magical’ paraphernalia and performing alchemical rituals. He seems to have been a skilled letter forger: Casanova was greatly impressed by his talent, as he relates in his memoirs.
In London Cagliostro was admitted as a freemason, and he went on to establish several masonic lodges throughout Europe, including the so-called Egyptian Rite. He possibly even participated in the infamous Affair of the Diamond Necklace, but, after being held in the Bastille for nine months, he was acquitted.
After a life of adventure and controversy, he was finally arrested in Rome in 1789, apparently after his wife had denounced him to the Inquisition as a heretic. Sentenced to life imprisonment, he died in prison in 1795.
The author of this monograph, Giovanni Barberi (1748-1821), led the investigation against Cagliostro and had access to important documents in the possession of the Inquisition, which makes this monograph particularly valuable.
The first chapter focuses on Cagliostro's biography, while the remaining three chapters are devoted to his masonic activities, including the Egyptian Rite. Unjustly, Barberi believed the Cagliostro led a masonic conspiracy aimed at overthrowing European monarchies.
Hayn, Cagliostro 88; Wolfstieg 14376-e; cf. Melton, Encyclopedia Of Occultism And Parapsychology, vol. 1, pp. 236-240.