Tome Life as a God

White leather over wood, crown quarto, 7½” x 5”, unnumbered but about 160 pages; a holographic (i.e., handwritten by the author) account by one Montgomery Crompton bearing the title “Life as a God” within a poorly rendered frontispiece of faux-Egyptian styling. The text is sloppy and erratic in brown, and sometimes fading, black ink . The book was amateurishly bound and the spine is separating in places.

Skimmed by Dr. Kelly:

This work purports to be the diary (though it functions more as an autobiography) of Montgomery Crompton, a British soldier and artist. Its first few pages recount his life as member of the landed gentry in Northern England up until he is dispatched in 1801 to Egypt under General Sir Ralph Abercrombie. Seriously wounded in battle, he recovered after several weeks of a high fever and a series of what he claims were occult visions. Remaining in Egypt to recuperate, he was inducted into a secretive cult. Claiming to have survived from ancient times, the cult worshiped a mythical figure known as the “Black Pharaoh”, a forgotten ruler of ancient Egypt said to have possessed magical, possibly divine, powers. As a cult member, Crompton witnessed and participated in acts of torture, murder, and rape, as well as weird magical ceremonies all in praise of this Black Pharaoh (sometimes called “Nivrin Ka”). In 1805 he returned to Great Britain where, settling near Liverpool, he and a group of other British converts attempted to replicate the cult and its depraved rites before being thwarted by unnamed, but mockingly condemned, local authorities. Crompton apparently composed this work whilst incarcerated in an asylum. Even from a quick skim, it is obvious that the author was a murderously sadistic lunatic prone to megalomaniacal delusions, foremost of which is that he would achieve god-hood through his occult practices.

Read by Dr. Kelly

This work records the insane words of Montgomery Crompton, an English soldier, artist, and devoted member of the so-called Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh. Crompton briefly details his life before he went to Egypt as part of General Abercrombie’s army. The youngest son of a minor member of the nobility and part of an extended, but well regarded Lancashire family, Crompton was a poor student, sent down from the University of Edinburgh for his habitual drinking and gambling, as well as violent outbursts in public. Against his family’s wishes Crompton elected to pursue a career as a painter but instead squandered his small allowance on liquor and gambling.

Rather than disown him, Crompton’s mother persuaded his father to purchase a commission in the army for their son in the hope that he would see it as an opportunity to make something of himself. Crompton took up the commission begrudgingly and, except for the fact that it eventually brought him into contact with his new master, the author heaps boundless scorn upon his time in the army. Sent to Egypt along with his regiment, the 28th Gloucestershire, Crompton was struck in the head by a French cavalry saber at the battle of Alexandria. For several weeks Crompton languished near death, a time during which he claims he first had visions of the being he would come to know as the Black Pharaoh. It spoke to him and told Crompton that he was the only true God and that all other gods were false gods or reflections of his glory.

Upon his recuperation, Crompton journeyed to Cairo where he indulged in copious amounts of opium in an attempt to reconnect with this new god. Instead, he somehow (Crompton credits dream visions) came into contact with a group of like-minded British and European expatriates (and some Egyptians) who initiated him into the Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh via a series of orgies and murderous rituals. Crompton expounds at great length about the wonder, beauty, and truth of his new faith — though mostly what he recounts are rites and rituals that shock and turn the stomach of even the most hardened reader.

Specific details of the group’s rituals are recounted (such as the sacral nature of the new moon, which Crompton likens to, “the face of the Pharaoh of Darkness watching over the world”), as well as regular orgiastic rites and monthly rites of human sacrifice. Fearful beasts (including sulfurous bat-horse things, sinuous winged serpents, and even more loathsome amorphous and indescribable flautists) are also discussed as bearing witness to and, shockingly, taking part in both types of rite. The symbols of the cult, including the inverted ankh and the spiked club are also described. No record is made of the group’s specific prayers or invocation, but the text is littered with rhapsodic paeans giving praise to the greatness of the Black Pharaoh, including many honorific titles as well as apparently his Egyptian name Nevrin Ka (alternately Nefrin or Nephrin Ka, Crompton’s spelling is irregular). While Crompton acknowledges that he and a number of his fellow members of the Brotherhood returned to England some time in 1805 for the purpose of expanding the worship of their dark god, he refuses to give much detail on this topic, stating cryptically,

“the night air knows best those rites and praises that were voiced by our lips, and the ever waxing crimson flow knows our offerings, but no cunning art will compel me to betray my Brothers still free to reap harvest of Britain’s uncleared fields.”

On several occasions Crompton is granted visions of the time of the Dark Pharaoh’s reign, including a personal audience with the god himself in his throne-room. Crompton proclaims passionately and often that he is both sane and yet destined for immortal godhood, for example in a short space a paragraph stating that he is “more right of mind than any man” and “will walk with his Lord as a god over the ashes of the Empires of Men when even the Sky is brought to heel and the Moon made void.” Crompton is unquestionably mad.

Excerpt:

Its angles were magnificent, and most strange; by their hideous beauty I was enraptured and enthralled, and I thought myself of the daylight fools who adjudged the housing of this room as mistaken. I laughed for the glory they missed. When the six lights lit and the great words said, then He came, in all the grace and splendour of the Higher Planes, and I longed to sever my veins so that my life might flow into his being, and make part of me a god!

Base reading time: 2 weeks

Tome Life as a God

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