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COMBINATION OF FREEMASONS.
The combination of the Freemasons in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries to demand a higher rate of wages, which eventually gave rise to the enactment of the Statutes of Laborers, is thus described by a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine (January, 1740, page 17) : "King Edward III took so great an aflection to Windsor, the place of his birth, that he instituted the Order of the Garter there, and rebuilt and enlarged the castle, with the church and chapel of Saint George. This was a great work and required a great many hands ; and for the carrying of it on writs were directed to the sherifls of several counties to send thither, under the penalty of L 100 each, such a number of Masons by a day appointed. London sent forty, so did Devon, Somerset, and several other counties; but several dying of the plague, and others deserting the service, new writs were issued to send up supplies. Yorkshire sent sixty, and other counties proportionably, and orders were given that no one should entertain any of these runaway Masons, under pain of forfeiture of all their goods. Hereupon, the Masons entered into a combination not to work, unless at higher wages. They agreed upon tokens, etc., to know one anotber by, and to assist one another against being impressed, and not to work unless free and on their own terms. Hence they called themselves Freemasons; and this combination continued during the carrying on of these buildings for several years. The wars between the two Houses coming on in the next reign, the discontented herded together in the same manner, and the gentry also underhand supporting the malcontents, occasioned several Acts of Parliament against the combination of Masons and other persons under that denomination
the titles of which Acts are still to be seen in the printed statutes of those reigns.''
Ashmole, in his History of the Order of the Garter (page 80), confirms the fact of the impressment of workmen by King Edward ; and the combination that followed seems but a natural consequence of this oppressive act; but the assertion that the origin of Freemasonry as an organized instituticn of builders is to be traced to such a combination, is not supported by the facts of history, and, indeed, the writer himself admits that the Freemasons denied its truth.
l. The presiding officer in a Commandery of Knights Templar. His style is Eminent, and the jewel of his office is a cross, from which issue rays of light. In England and Canada he is now styled Preceptor.
2. The Superintendent of a Commandery, as a house or residence of the Ancient Knights of Malta, was so called.
See Grand Commander.
COMMANDER- IN- CHIEF.
The presiding oflicer in a Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. His style is Illustrious. In a Grand Consistory the presiding officer is a Grand Commander-in-Chief, and he is styled Very Illustrious.
Seventh and last grade of the Philosophic Rite. Thory says this was arranged by the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree to make up Degree Thirty-one though previously used, the Metropolitan Chapter possessing one of the same name, No. 71, eighth series.
l. In the United States all regular assemblies of Knights Templar are called Commanderies, and must consist of the following officers: Eminent Commander, Generalissimo, Captain-General, Prelate, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer, Recorder, Warder, Standard-Bearer, Sword Bearer, and Sentinel. v These Commanderies derive their warrants of Constitution from a Grand Commandery, or, if there is no such body in the State in which they are organized, from the Grand Encampment of the United States. They confer the Degrees of Companion of the Red Cross, Knight of Malta, and Knight Templar.
Under the present law of the Grand Encampment, Knight Templar of the United States, the Order of the Red Cross is conferred in the Council Chamber, the Order of Malta in a Priory and the Order of the Temple in the Asylum of the Commandery.
In a Commandery of Knights Templar, as familiar to Doctor Mackey, the throne is situated in the East.
Above it are suspended three banners : the center one bearing a cross, surmounted by a glory; the left one having inscribed on it the emblems of the Order, and the right one, a paschal lamb. The Eminent Commander is seated on the throne ; the Generalissimo, Prelate, and Past Commanders on his right; the Captain-General on his left; the Treasurer and Recorder, as in a Symbolic Lodge; the Senior Warden at the southwest angle of the triangle, and upon the right of the first division; the Junior Warden at the northwest angle of the triangle, and on the left of the third division; the Standard-Bearer in the West, between the Sword-Bearer on his right, and the Warder on his left ; and in front of hhn is a stall for the initiate. The Knights are arranged in equal numbers on each side, and in front of the throne. In England and Canada a body of Knights Templar is called a Preceptory.
2. The houses or residences of the Knights of Malta were called Commanderies, and the aggregation of them in a nation was called a Priory or Grand Priory.
When three or more Commanderies are instituted in a State, they may unite and form a Grand Commandery. under the regulations prescribed by the Grand Encampment of the United States. They bave the superintendence of all Commanderies of Knight.s Templar that are holden in their respective Jurisdictions,
A Grand Commanoery meets at least annually, and its officers consist of a Grand Commander, Deputy Grand Commander, Grand Generalissimo, Grand Captain-General, Grand Prelate, Grand Senior and Junior Warden, Grand Treasurer, Grand Recorder, Grand Warder, Grand Standard-Bearer, and Grand Sword-Bearer.
To facilitate the transaction of business, a Lodge or Grand Lodge often refers a subject to a particular committee for investigation and report. By the usages of Freemasonry, committees of this character are always appointed by the presiding officer; and the Master of a Lodge, when present at the meeting of a commitiee, may act, if he thinks proper, as its chairman ; for the Master presides over any assemblage of the Craft in his Jurisdiction.
By the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of England, all matters of busines to be brought under the consideration of the Grand Lodge must previously be presented to a General Committee, consisting of the President of the Board of Benevolence, the Present and Past Grand Officers, and the Master of every regular Lodge, who meet on the fourteenth day immediately preceding each quarterly communication.
No such regulation prevails among the Grand Lodge of America.
COMMITTEE OF CHARITY.
In most Lodges there is a standing Committee of Charity, appointed at the beginning of the jear, to which, in general, applications for relief are referred by the Lodge. In cases where the Lodge does not itself take immediate action, the committee is also invested with the power to grant relief to a limited amount during the recess of the Lodge.
COMMITTEE OF FINANCE.
In many Lodges the Master, Wardens, Treasurer, and Secretary constitute a Committee of Finance, to which is referred the general supervision of the finances of the Lodge.
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN CORRESPONDENCE.
In none of the Grand Lodges of this ccuntry up to early in the eighteenth century, wall such a committee as that on foreign correspondence ever appointed. A few of them had corresponding secretaries, to whom were entrusted the duty of attending to the correspondence of the Body; a duty which was very generally neglected. A report on the proceedings of other Bodies was altogether unknown.
Grand Lodges met and transacted the local busines of their own Jurisdictions without any reference to what was passing abroad.
But improvements in this respect began to show themselves. Intelligent Freemasons saw that it would no longer do to isolate themselves from the Fraternity in other countries, and that, if any moral or intellectual advancement was to be expected, it must be derived from the intercommunication and collision of ideas ; and the first step toward this advancement was the appointment in every Grand Lodge of a committee whose duty it should be to collate the proceedings of other Jurisdictions, and to eliminate from them the most important items. These committees were, however, very slow in assuming the functions which devolved upon them, and in coming up to the full measure of their duties.
At first their reports were little more than "reports of progress." No light was derived from their collation, and the Bodies which had appointed them were no wiser after their reports had been read than they were before.
As a specimen of the first condition and subsequent improvement of these committees on foreign correspondence, let us take at random the transactions of any Grand Lodge old enough to have a history and intelligent enough to have made any progress; and, for this purpose, the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, two volumes of which lie conveniently at hand, will do as well Many other.
The Grand Lodge of Ohio was organized in January, 1808. From that time to 1829, its proceedings contain no reference to a committee on correspondence; and except a single allusion to the Washington Convention, made in the report of a special committee, the Freemasons of Ohio seem to have had no cognizance, or at least to have shown no recognition, of any Freemasonry which might be outside of their own Jurisdiction.
But in the year 1830, for the first time, a committee was appointed to report on the foreign correspondence of The Grand Lodge. This committee bore the title of the Commitiee on Communications from Foreign Grand Lodges, etc., and made during the session a report of eight lines in length, which contained just the amount of information that could be condensed in that brief space, and no more.
In 1831, the report was fifteen lines long ; in 1832, ten lines; in 1833, twelve lines; and so on for several years, The reports being sometimes a little longer and sometimes a little shorter; but the length being always measured by lines, and not by pages, until, in 1837, there was a marked falling off the report consisting only of one line and a half. Of this report, which certainly cannot be accused of verbosity, the following is an exact copy: "Nothing has been presented for the consideration of your committee requiring the action of the Grand Lodge. "
In 1842 the labors of the committee began to increase, and their report fills a page of the proceedings.
Things now rapidly improved. In 1843, the report was three pages long ; in 1845, four pages; in 1846, seven, in 1848, nearly thirteen; and 1853, fourteen.; in 1856, thirty; and in 1857, forty-six. Thenceforward there is no more fault to be found.
The reports of the future committees were of full growth, and we do not again find such an unmeaning phrase as ''nothing requiring the action of the Grand Lodge."
The history of these reports in other Grand Lodges is the same as that in Ohio.
Beginning with a few lines which announced the absence of all matters worthy of consideration, they have grown up to the full stature of elaborate essays in which the most important and interesting subjects of Masonic history, philosophy, and jurisprudence are discussed, generally with much ability.
At this day the reports of the committees on foreign correspondence in all the Grand Lodges of this country constitute an important portion of the literature of the Institution. The chairmen of these committees for the other members fill, for the most part, only the post of "sleeping partners"-are generally men of education and talent, who, by the very occupation in which they are employed, of reading the published proceedings of all the Grand Lodges in correspondence with their own, have become thoroughly conversant with the contemporary history of the Order, while a great many of them have extended their studies in its previous history. The Reporiorial Corps, as these hard-laboring Brethren are beginning to call themselves, exercise, of course, a not trifling influence in the Order. These committees annually submit to their respective Grand Lodges a mass of interesting information, which is read with great avidity by their Brethren. Gradually -for at first it was not their custom-they have added to the bare narration of facts their comments on Masonic law and their criticisms on the decisions made in otber Jurisdictions. These comments and criticisms have very naturally their weight, sometimes beyond their actual worth; and it will therefore be proper to take a glance at what ougbt to be the character of a report on foreign correspondence.
In the first place, then, a reporter of foreign correspondence should be, in the most literal sense of Shakespeare's words, a brief chronicler of the times. His report should contain a succinct account of everything of importance that is passing in the Masonic world, so far as his materials supply him with the information.
But, remembering that he is writing for the instruction of hundreds, perhaps thousands, many of whom cannot spare much time, and many others who have no inclination to spare it, he should eschew the sin of tediousness, never forgetting that ''brevity is the soul of wit." He should omit all details that have no special interest; should husband his space for important items, and be exceedingly parsimonious in the use of unnecessary expletives, whose only use is to add to the length of a line. In a word, he should remember that he is not an orator but a historian. A rigid adherence to these principles would save the expense of many printed pages to his Grand Lodge, and the waste of much time to his readers.
These reports will form the germ of future Masonic history. The collected mass will be an immense one, and it should not be unnecessarily enlarged by the admiration of trivial items. In the next place, although we admit that these "Brethren of the reportorial corps" have peculiar advantages in reading the opinions of their contemporaries on subjects of Masonic jurisprudence, they would be mistaken in supposing that these advantages must necessarily make them Masonic lawyers. Ex quovis ligno non fit Mercurius, meaning in Latin, a Mercury (the Roman god of commerce) is not to be made out of any chance piece of wood. It is not every man that will make a lawyer. A peculiar turn of mind and a habit of close reasoning, as well as a thorough acquaintance with the law itself, are required to fit one for the investigation of questions of jurisprudence.
Reporters, therefore, should assume the task of adjudicating points of law with much diffidence. They should not pretend to make a decision ex cathedra (officially or with authority, from the Latin, meaning literally from the bishop's throne or the professor's chair), but only to express an opinion ; and that opinion they should attempt to substain by arguments that may convince their readers.
Dogmatism is entirely out of place in a Masonic report on foreign correspondence. But if tediousness and dogmatism are displeasing, how much more offensive must be rudeness and personality. Courtesy is a Masonic as well as a knightly virtue, and the reporter who takes advantage of his official position to speak rudely of his Brethren, or makes his report the vehicle of scurrility and abuse most strangely forgets the duty and respect which he owes to the Grand Lodge which be represents and the Fraternity to which be addresses himself.
And, lastly, a few words as to style. These reports we have already said, constitute an important feature of Masonic literature. It should be, then, the object and aim of everyone to give to them a tone and character which shall reflect honor on the society whence they emanate, and enhance the reputation of their authors. The style cannot always be scholarly, but it should always be chaste ; it may sometimes want eloquence, but it should never be marked by vulgarity. Coarseness of language and slang phrases are manifestly out of place in a paper which treats of subjects such as naturally belong to a Masonic document.
Wit and humor we would not, of course, exclude. The Horatian maxim bids us sometimes to unbend and old Menander thought it would not do always to appear wise. Even the solemn Johnson could sometimes perpetrate a joke, and Sidney Smith has enlivened his lectures on moral philosophy with numerous witticisms.
There are those who delight in the stateliness of Coleridge; but for ourselves we do not object to the levity of Lamb, though we would not care to descend to the vulgarity of Rabelais. To sum up the whole matter in a few words these reports on foreign correspondence should be succinct, and, if you please, elaborate chronicles of all passing events in the Masonic world; they should express the opinions of their authors on points of Masonic law, not as judicial dicta (Latin, verdicts), but simply as opinions, not to be dogmatically enforced, but to be sustained and supported by the best arguments that the writers can produce; they should not be made the vehicles of personal abuse or vituperation ; and, lastly, they should be clothed in language worthy of the literature of the Order:
The well-known regulation which forbids private committees in the Lodge, that is, select conversations between two or more members, in which the other members are not permitted to join, is derived from the Old Charges: "You are not to hold private committees or separate conversation, without leave from the Master nor to talk of anything impertinent or unseemly, nor to interrupt the Master or Wardens, or any brother speaking to the Master" (see Constitutions, 1723, page 53).
COMMITTEE, REPORT OF.
See Report of a ĝommittee.
Found in some early mitings .Freemasonry and probably meant for common
The meeting of a Lodge is so called. There is a peculiar significance in this term. To communicate, which, in the Old English form, was to common, originally meant to share in common with others. The great sacrament of the Christian Church, which denotes a participation in the mysteries of the religion and a fellowship in the church, is called a communion, which is fundamentally the same as a communication, for be who partakes of the communion is said to communicate. Hence the meetings of Masonic Lodges are called communications, to signify that it is not simply the ordinary meeting of a society for the transaction of business, but that such meeting is the fellowship of men engaged in a common pursuit, and governed by a common principle, and that there is therein a communication or participation of those feelings and sentiments that constitute a true brotherhood.
The communications of Lodges are regular or stated and special or emergent. Regular communications are held under the provision of the by-laws, but special communications are called by order of the Master. It is a regulation that no special communication can alter, amend, or rescind the proceedings of a regular communication.
The meeting of a Grand Lodge.
COMMUNICATION OF DEGREES.
When the peculiar mysteries of a Degree are bestowed upon a candidate by mere verbal description of the bestower, without his being made to pass through the constituted ceremonies, the Degree is technically said to be communicated. This mode is, however, entirely confined in America to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
The Degrees may in that Rite be thus conferred in any place where secrecy is secured; but the prerogative of communicating is restricted to the presiding officers of Bodies of the Rite, who may communicate certain of the Degrees upon candidates who have been previously duly elected, and to Inspectors and Deputy Inspectors-General of the Thirty-third Degree, who may communicate all the Degrees of the Rite, except the last, to any persons whom they may deem qualified to receive them.
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