ANTIENTS AND MODERNS.
The article which begins at page 75 was written before the publication of some 200 or so Histories and Minute Books of old British and American Lodges, and before the special researches inspired by Henry Sadler's Masonic Facts and Fictions bad uncovered the detailed history of tbe Antient Grand Lodge.
In London, 1717, the first Grand Lodge of Speculative Freemasonry was formed by four old Lodges, and possibly with the support or consent of a number of unrepresented Lodges. It was tentative, experimental, had no precedent to guide it ; at the beginning it consisted of little more than a Grand Master with two Wardens to assist him, and claimed jurisdiction only over such Lodges as might unite with it in an area covering a radius of ten miles from the center of London.
As it prospered it warranted (officialy approved) Lodges outside of that area and in other countries, and in about twenty years set up a system of Provincial Grand Lodges throughout England·
There was at the time no doctrine of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction. A small Grand Lodge at York was not challenged. A Grand Lodge was formed by Lodges in Ireland in 1725; and in Scotland in 1736. If self-constituted Lodges of regular Masons did not unite with the Grand Lodge at London, it did not outlaw them (they were called St. John's Lodges) but permitted visitation between them and its own Lodges.
Freemasonry had been very popular in Ireland, even before its Grand Lodge of 1725; after 1725 Lodges sprang up in almost every Irish village. Many Englishmen lived in Dublin ("Dublin was almost an English city") and many families of English origin lived here and there in the Island, especially in North Ireland. It was commonplace for Irish, and for Anglo-Irish, to move to England, to enter business and the professions there, to attend school, etc. ; during the food famines this number was greatly increased.
Among these (and the Irish were not "foreigners" but British!) were a large number of Masons ; among these latter a majority were in retail business, or were carpenters, plumbers, painters, brick-layers, machinists, and in otber so-called "trades." But when these Irisb residents or citizens of London who were members in regular Irish Lodges canie to visit Lodges in London or to dimit to them, they were turned away, were snubbed, were looked down on because by that time (in the 1730's) the Grand Lodge had become a fief of the Nobility, and its Lodges had become exclusive and snobbish. A carpenter or a mason or a housepainter might be a member in good standing in a regular Irish Lodge, but he was not deemed worthy to sit among English "gentlemen." the Irish Masons held meetings among themselves, consulted the Grand Lodge of Ireland, set up a Grand Committee in the 1740's, and in 1751 turned this Committee into a regular Grand Lodge. This action was strictly in accordance with the Ancient Landmarks.
In the meantime many exposés had been published in London, and clandestine "Masons" pestered regular Lodges; and a certain amount of Anti-Masonry became active. To circumvent these clandestines the Grand Lodge shifted the Modes of Recognition from one Degree to another, and made other changes about which little is known in detail. It also discontinued the Ceremony of Installation of the Master, thereby reducing him to the status of a mere presiding officer with no inherent powers. These alterations in things that ought not to be altered aroused resentment arnong a large number of Lodges. As time progressed, and as Lodge Histories make clear, an increasing number of Lodges ceased to be Lodges and became convivial clubs-some of them very expensive clubs. By 1750 the Grand Lodge had thus departed a long way from the original design. In the cant language of the time it had "modernized" itself ; and it came to be for that reason dubbed "the Modern Grand Lodge." the members of the new Grand Lodge of 1751 on the other band insisted on retaining the work and customs of the beginning, and because they did so declared themselves a Grand Lodge according to "the Antient Institutions," and hence were called "Antient Masons."
Because of this, a number of Modern Lodges took out Antient Charters, a number of St. John Lodges took out Charters for the first time, and many new Lodges were warranted by it. Also, the new Grand Lodge conferred the Royal Arch, issued Ambulatory warrants to army Lodges, and it had the good fortune to have Laurence Dermott for Grand Secretary, of whom Gould was to say that "without erring on the side of panegyric" "he was the most remarkable Mason of that time." There was in reality no need for this new Grand Lodge; had the Modern Grand Lodge been a genuinely representative Body instead of a governing club of aristocrats, had , its Grand Master been accessible to the Lodges, and had both "parties" sat down in friendly discussion as they were to do after 1800, the whole Craft could have been made as strong and as united in 1750 as it was to become in 1850; but since it was not thus done, any Masonic historian must admit that the Antient Grand Lodge was the salvation of the Craft, and (comparatively speaking) a great blessing to Freemasonry everywhere.
Mackey in his seven-volume history, and writing before Sadler and Crawley, was inclined to believe that the Antients grew out of discontent, and a mood of rebellion. Gould, Hughan, Lane, etc., went farther : they condemned it in toto. In his History and in his concise History Gould blasted the whole of Antient Masonry, and throughout his life insisted on calling them "Schismatics" ; as also did a line of Masonic writers who followed him.
1. If a number of the Officers and members of the Grand Lodge of 1717 had quarrelled with the rest, had seceded, and then had set up a rival Grand Body claiming to possess the original authority, such a Grand Body would have been schismatic. (Preston's second Lodge of Antiquity, three or four Grand Lodges in the State of New York a century later, and the Wigan Grand Lodge, etc., these were in a true sense schismatic.) This did not occur; what did occur was not only unlike a schism but in principle was the opposite of one ; the regular Masons, Irish and English, who erected their 1751 Grand Lodge were seeking to have a Masonic home, and were doing so because the 1717 Grand Lodge had , violated the first great Landmark when it refused them a home.
2. Since the Doctrine of Grand Lodge Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction was not yet adopted, the new Grand Lodge did not violate the law. the 1717 Grand Lodge itself had made no claim t.o exclusive jurisdiction, but had fraternized with the Grand Lodge of All England at York.
3. The new Grand Lodge of 1751 was guilty of no innovations of the ancient secrets, or of Ritual, or of practice ; on the contrary it was the 1717 Grand Lodge that was guilty (and self-confessedly so) of innovations.
4. The 1717 Grand Lodge was distressed to have a rival in the field, and a vigorous one, but even it, except sporadically, did not condemn Antient Lodges as clandestine. Members under both Grand Lodges visited and shifted back and forth, often with no more ceremony than to take a second OB ; no court action was taken ; nobody accused the Antients of using a spurious Ritual ; in Canada and America both Lodges worked side by side.
5. The Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland, who were in a position to know the Antients at first hand, and could speak with more authority than could. Gould, Hughan, or Mackey a century later, both recognized the Antients, and for some years neither recognized the Moderns; in their eyes it was the Modern, not the Antient Body, that was "schismatic." Of Ireland Crawley wrote (in A.Q.C.; VIII; p. 81) : "Indeed, the Grand Lodge of Ireland, all modern assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, seems never to have been in fraternal intercours with the Grand Lodge of the Moderns, after the rival organization of the Antients had been established."
Even before Sadler and Crawley had discovered and published the documents in the case the action taken by these two Grand Lodges was of itself sufficient to prove that the Antients had never been "schismatic"--or irregular, or clandestine, or spurious.
6. For at least five centuries Freemasonry consisted wholly of working men. When they began to accept "gentlemen" into membership, the latter met upon the level to masons, smiths, carpenters, farmers. To meet upon To meet upon the level, to leave aristocratic privilege, prerogatives, titels, and snobbishness outside, was of the essence of Masonry, and ever was unanimously accepted as being such - the name "freemasonry" was almost aynonymous with meeting upon the level. The 1717 Grand Lodge destroyed that ancient design Its Lodges could if they wished, shut the door on "the lower orders."The Earls of Moira. Grand Masters of the Antients, were twitted by Modern Grand Officers because his Grand Secretary had been a house-painter.
This un-Masonic snobbishness, this denial of brotherliness, was the one great sin of the Moderns, and the one great justification of the Antients; in comparison with that innovation, irregularities in ceremony were of secondary importance, for where there is no meeting on the Ievel there is no Freemasonry. This social cleavage inside of the Fratemity came to the surface and stood out in bold relief on this side of the Atlantic during the American Revolutionary period, and explains why so many Modern Lodges failed or shifted allegiance, and why the Antients (especially in New York and Pennsylvania) swept the field ; Modern Lodges here were on the whole Tory, Royalist, Loyalist, aristocratic, pro-British ;Antient Lodges were democratic, pro-Patriotic, as open to blacksmiths as to Royal Governors.
7. Until a recent period Masons found their knowledge of Masonic history in the general histories, the majority of which were chiefly histories of Grand Lodges, and therefore were long generalizations of nation-wide or world-wide events as seen from a Grand Lodge point of view ; with the publication of some 200 or so Minutes and Histories of the oldest British, American, Canadian, and West Indian Lodges it has become possible to know what Freemasonry was in actual practice, locafity by locality, month by month, from 1751 to 1813.
NOTE. Since "Antient" was at the time, and by both Grand Lodges, adopted as technically correct that spelling is here used. Bro. Clegg used "Ancient" on page 75; but see paragraph at top of the left-hand column on page 83. - The Earl who was Grand Master of the Antients in 1760-5 is spelled Blessington on page 77 ; Blesinton on page 140. The family itself spelled the name in a dozen forms but in a document still extant, and signed by him in a bold hand, the Earl himself spelled it Blesinton. Gould's History of Freemasonry spells it Blesington.
In addition to being called "Antient" the Grand Lodge of I751 was often called "Atholl"-Gould's book on the Antient Lodges is entitled Atholl Lodges.
This name came into use because a Duke of Atholl was Grand Master over so many years: John, third Duke of Atholl, from 1771 to 1775 ; John fourth Duke of Atholl from 1775 to 1782 and again from 179I to 1813. In Canada, and, later, often in the American Colonies, the Antient Body was called York Masonry.
In the 1903 edition of his A Consise Histor y of Freemasonry [Gale & Polden; London], Robert Freke Gould heads his Chapter VII "The Great Schism in English Masonry" ; on page 343 he describes Antient Masons as "the seceders"; the whole burden of the chapter is that the 1751 Grand Body was born of a rebellion against the lawful authority of the Grand Lodge of 1717, and was therefore irregular and schismatic. After Gould had written his long History of Freemasonry Satdler and Crawley made their discoveries of written records, etc., which showed for the first time what the facts had been, and which proved that the Antients had been neither Seceders nor Schismatics ; Gould had access to these facts but when be came to write his Concise History he ignored them, and did so against the urgent protestations of his friends and colleagues. In the 1920's Fred J. M. Crowe issued a new and revised Edition of the Concise History, and in it deleted Gould's chapter on the Antients and replaced it by one written by himself.
In a private letter he wrote that he had performed this labor of love not so much because a new edition of tbe book was demanded, as that English Masonic scholars felt themselves misrepresented by the position taken by their "premier historian."
It was tberefore naturally expected that when he came to revise Gould's History of Freemasonr y(in six volumes ; Scribners'; 1936) Bro. Dudley Wright would, like Crowe, make sure to revise completely Gould's chapter on the Antients; for some reason which has not been explained he did not do so. Chapter IV, Vol. II, page 145, begins : "The Minutes of that Schismatic body," etc. This failure in revision is regrettable to American readers because the Refised History elsewhere makes it clear that more than half of early American Masonry (before 1781) was derived from Antient sources.
Of the 225 or so Anti-Masonic books on the shelves in any one of our Masonic Libraries more than nine-tenths of them are about the particular Anti-Masonic Crusade which ensued upon the so-called Morgan Aflair at Batavia, N. Y., in 1826. "Anti-Masonry" and "Morgan Affair" are become synonymous ; Grand Lodges (like their Lodges and members) are so wearied of hearing about this century-old subject that in consequence the whole question of Anti-Masonry has gone by default, with the result that in the present period when Anti-Masonry is the overwhelming and all-important question before the Fraternity, the Fraternity ignores it.
Even d Anti-Masonry were nothing more than open attacks made upon Freemasonry by groups who believe they have reason to hate it, Anti-Masonry would comprise more than the Morgan Affair. The Craft in New England was rocked by an Anti-Masonic crusade immediately after the Revolution; New England and the Bavarian Illuminati, by Vernon Stauffer (New York ; 1918 ; 374 pages), is a detailed history of it. The Society of Friends (Quakers) either as a whole or in part has for more than a century sought to wam its own members against Freemasonry, and to persuade the public to abolish it ; since the Quaker literature on the subject is unimaginably dull a student need not persecute his mind by reading the whole of it, but can find a representative specimen in the outpourings (not always of the Spirit) of the Tract Association of Friends. It is a shock to find the apostles of reasonableness and gentleness resorting to the ancient propaganda tricks of misdirection, false statements, and violent language.
Tract No. 178, published in 1896, camouflaged an attack on Freemasonry under the title of "Secret Societies" ; in it Masons were accused of murdering each other, of being a secret "society" i.e., a conspiratorial society, like the Black Hand) ; of "covering up crime" ; of giving "a license to immorality," etc. (Yet Springett Penn, of the Penn family, was very active in the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and wrote one of the verses in the 'Prentice Song') ! The Lutheran Church has been as a whole unsympathetic with the Craft, and at one time or another certain of its Synods have been anti-Masonic ; their Pastor Wagner's writings (of Dayton, Ohio) belong to the demented, or lunatic fringe, of Anti-Masonic "literature."
The Mormons also---and in the "Mormon Empire" where in six States their influence is very strong their action is not to be lightly disregarded-have carried on an organized Anti-Masonic movement ever since their original members were expelled by the Grand Lodge of Illinois, when the town of Nauvoo was designed to be what Salt Lake City afterwards became.
During this whole time the Roman Catholic Church has carried on a continuous barrage against the Craft, and with an increasing tempo ever since Pope Leo XIII designated agencies for the purpose. (See Freemasonry and Roman Catholicism, by H. L. Haywood; Masonic History Company; Chicago; 1944.)
In these Anti-Masonic attacks enemies of Freemasonry believed themselves to have a particular quarrel of their own against it, and for private reasons.
But the larger number of Anti-Masonic movements have had another basis, one not motivated by any quarrel but rather as a form of an inevitable conflict of teachings, principles, doctrines. Before he had become the inventor of Fascism the ex-Socialist, ex-pacifist Benito Mussolini wrote in 1920:
"Humanity is still and always an abstraction of time and space ; men are still not brothers, do not want to be, and evidently cannot be. Peace is hence absurd, or rather it is a pause in war. There is something that binds man to his destiny of struggling, against either his fellows or himself. The motives for the struggle may change indefinitely, they may be econornic, religious, political, sentimental ; but the legend of Cain and Abel seems to be the inescapable reality, while 'brotherhood' is a fable which men listen to during the bivouac and the truce. . ."
It is obvious that when he later found himself the head of a new govemment of which the above doctrine was the comer-stone Mussolini came into irreconcilable conflict with Freemasonry which not only taught brotherhood but was a Brotherhood. Other creeds came into power, became embodied in governments, were backed by money and armies, the Nazi creed, the Phalangist, the French army and church hierarchies, Communism, and what not ; and each of these, of itself, came into conflict with Freemasonry ; and these conflicts were not quarrels or vendettas, or accidental explosions like the Morgan Affair, but were just such conflicts as are waged by two opposed religions, or opposed philosophies, or opposed political programs.
Wherever a creed which possesses power or is seeking it is contradicted by the teach ings and principles of Freemasonry, it will become Anti-Masonic. It is Anti-Masonry of this latter type, not of the Morgan Affair type, that now confronts the Fratemity in every European country, and is destined to confront it more and more in both Britain and America.
Prince Metternich was the most powerful Anti-Mason whom the Craft has ever faced ; he was also the most successful, for within one generation after the Congress of Vienna he had destroyed it, or crippled it, or driven it underground in every country between Russia and the English Channel ; but he did not attack Masons personally, did not accuse them of crimes or conspiracies, as did the less enlightened architects of American Anti-Masonry, but laid it down as a principle that the anti-democratic, despotic societies being set up by the Holy Alliance could not consistently tolerate in their midst a philosophy so contradictory of it as the democracy, fraternalism, and tolerance of the Fraternity, and which refused to admit that God had made the few to own and to rule and the many to labor and be subservient.
NOTE. Apropos of Mussolini's reading of "the legend of Cain and Abel''-which in the main is the orthodox one -it is one more proof of the great "peculiarity'' of Freemasonry that it has a ''legend'' of Cain of a different kind ;it sees in him the builder of the first city, and therefore a man who knew the art of building. See index of Tite Two Earliest Masonic MSS., by Knoop, Jones, Hamer ; Manchester; 1938.