Friday, December 26, 2008

The Glass Club

William Guy Carr, Pawns in the Game (1958), pp. 82-4.

The way international intrigue was used to depose the Right Honourable H.H. Asquith when he was Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1916 was explained to me by a man who was extremely well informed. I met him while serving as King’s Messenger in 1917. We were in my room, in a hotel when, during the course of conversation, I mentioned that I strongly suspected that a comparatively small group of extremely wealthy men used the power their wealth could buy to influence national and international affairs, to further their own secret plans and ambitions.

My companion replied: “If you talk about such things it is unlikely that you will live long enough to realize how right you are.” He then told me how Mr. Asquith had been deposed in December 1916, and Mr. David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, and The Rt. Hon. Arthur James Balfour were placed in power in England.

The story he told me had a remarkable similarity to the plot used by the Secret Powers who directed the campaign of L’Infamie immediately prior to the outbreak of the French revolution in 1789. It will be recalled a letter was used to lure Cardinal Prince de Rohan to the Palais Royal where he was involved with a prostitute disguised as Marie Antoinette. The alleged modern method is as follows:

Shortly after the outbreak of the war in August 1914 a small group of wealthy men authorized an agent to turn an old, but very spacious mansion, into a fabulous private club. Those who made it possible to finance such a costly undertaking insisted that their identity remain secret. They explained that they simply wished to show their deep appreciation to officers in the Armed Forces who were risking their lives for King and Country.

The club provided every kind of luxury, entertainment, and facilities for pleasure. The use of the club was usually restricted to commissioned officers on leave in London from active service. A new member had to be introduced by a brother officer. My companion referred to it as the “Glass Club”.[1]

Upon arrival, officer guests were interviewed by an official. If he was satisfied with their credentials they were told how the club functioned. The officer applying for admission was asked to give his word of honour that he would not mention the names of any persons he met during his stay at the club, or reveal their identity after he left the club. Having given this solemn promise, it was explained to the guest that he would meet a number of women well known in the best of London’s society. They all wore masks. The officer was asked not to try to identify any of the ladies. He was sworn to keep their secret should he happen to identify any of them accidentally.

With the preliminaries over, the officer was shown to his private room. It was furnished in a most luxuriant manner. The furnishings included a huge double bed, dressing table, wardrobe, cabinet with wines and liqueurs, a smoking humidor, and private toilet and bath. The new guest was invited to make himself at home. He was informed that he would receive a lady visitor. She would wear a brooch of costume jewelry with the number of his room. If, after getting acquainted, he wished to take her down to dinner that was his privilege.

The reception room, where guests and their hostesses mingled over cocktails before dinner, was like that of a King’s palace. The dining room was large enough to accommodate fifty couples. The ballroom was such that many people dream about but few seldom see. Costly decorations were set off by luxurious drapes, subdued lighting, beautiful women gorgeously dressed, soft dreamy music, the smell of rare perfumes, made the place an Arab’s dream of heaven. The whole atmosphere of the club was such that the officers home on leave relaxed at first and then set out to have a real Roman Holiday. There was nothing gross or vulgar about the “Glass Club”. Everything about the place was beautiful, delicate, soft, and pliant ... the exact opposite of the horrors, the violence, the brutality, of a modern war. Between dance numbers entertainers gave performances which brought out the feelings of joy, fun and laughter. As the evening progressed, a long buffet was literally loaded with luscious dishes of fish and game. A bar provided every kind of drink from champagne to straight whisky. Between midnight and one a.m. five beautiful girls performed the Dance of the Seven Veils. The dance depicted a scene in a Sultan’s Harem. The girls started the dance fully clothed, (even to the veil they wore to conceal the facial features) but, when the dance ended the girls were entirely naked. They danced the final act in their lithe-nakedness, waving the flimsy veil around and about them in a manner which extenuated, rather than concealed, their physical charms. Couples, when tired of entertainment, dancing, and other people’s company, retired to their private rooms.

Next day they could enjoy indoor swimming, tennis, badminton, billiards, or, there was the card room which was a miniature Monte Carlo. About November 1916 a very high personage was lured into visiting the Club when he received a note saying that he would obtain information of the greatest importance to the British Government. He drove to the Club in his private car. He instructed his chauffeur to wait for him. After being admitted, he was taken to one of the luxuriously furnished bed-sitting rooms. A lady joined him. When she saw him she nearly fainted. It was his own wife. She was much younger than her husband. She had been acting as hostess to lonely officers on leave for a considerable time. It was a most embarrassing situation.

The wife knew nothing of the plot. She had no secret information to give. She was convinced that both she and her husband were philandering. She thought it was only this unfortunate chance meeting which had brought them face to face. There was a scene. The husband was informed regarding the part hostesses played at the Club. But his lips were sealed as if in death. He was a member of the Government. He couldn’t afford to figure in a scandal.

1. An exact duplicate of this club was organized just outside Montreal during World War Two.