The Masonic Trowel

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The author was Matthew Birkhead and his effort appeared in print, Read's Weekly Journal, December 1, 1722, and has continued to be popular ever since, being frequently sung in British Lodges (see Birkhead, Matthew). The song is also called The Freemasons Health. Brother Birkhead, a singer and actor, Drury Lane Theatre, was Worshipful Master, Lodge V, London. The words and music of the song were printed in the firstt edition of the Book of Constitutions published by the Freemasons in 1723. Under the reference Tune, Freemasons, in this Encyclopedia we give an account of the various appearances of it in print. While the verses are frequently printed with alteration3 according to the taste of their respective editors, their first appearance was as follows:
  • Come let us prepare,
  • We Brothers that are
  • Met together on merry Occasion;
  • Let's drink, laugh and sing,
  • Our Wine has a Spring
  • 'Tis a Health to an accepted Mason.

  • The World is in pain
  • Our secret to gain,
  • But still let them wonder and gaze on;
  • Till they're shown the Light
  • They'l ne'er know the Right
  • Word or Sign of an accepted Mason.

  • 'Tis this, and 'tis that,
  • They cannot tell what
  • Why so many great Men of the Nation,
  • Should Aprons put on,
  • To make themselves one,
  • With a Free or an accepted Mason.

  • Great Kings, Dukes and Lords,
  • Have laid by their swords
  • This our Mistry to put a good Grace on
  • And neter been ashamed
  • To hear themselves named
  • With a Free or an accepted Mason.

  • Antiquity's pride
  • We have on our side
  • It makes each Man just in his station
  • There's nought but what's good
  • To be understood,
  • By a Free or an accepted Mason.

  • Then joyn Hand in Hand,
  • T'each other firm stand
  • Let's be merry, and put a bright Face on;
  • What mortal can boast So noble a Toast
  • As a Free or an accepted Mason?

Another verse was added to the original by Brother Springett Penn, who became Deputy Grand Master of Munster, Ireland, and was also a member of a Lodge at London. This addition to the song was made about 1730 and printed by Dr. James Anderson in his edition of 1738. Brother Penn's version runs thus:

  • We're true and sincere
  • And just to the Fair
  • They'll trust us on any Occasion:
  • No Mortal can more
  • The Ladies adore,
  • Than a Free and an Accepted Mason.
So rousing a song did not fail of attack by the enemy and a parody upon it with the venom of the time appeared in the London Journal of 1725 entitled An Answer to the Freernasons Health, as follows:
  • Good people give ear
  • And the truth shall appear,
  • For we scorn to put any grimace on:
  • We've been bammed long enough
  • With this damn'd silly stuff
  • Of a Free and an Accepted Mason.

  • The dear Brotherhood,
  • As they certainly shou'd,
  • Their follies do put a good face on:
  • But it's only a gin,
  • To draw other fools in,
  • So sly is an Accepted Mason.

  • With their aprons before 'em,
  • For better decorum,
  • Themselves they employ all their praise on:
  • In aprons array'd,
  • Of calves leather made
  • True type of an Accepted Mason.

  • They know this and that,
  • The devil knows what,
  • Of secrets they talk wou'd amaze one
  • But know by the by,
  • That no one can Iye
  • Like a Free and an Accepted Mason.

  • On a house neter so high,
  • If a Brother they spy
  • As his trowel he dext'rousiy lays on:
  • He must leave off his work,
  • And come down with a jerk
  • At the sign of an Accepted Mason.

  • A Brother one time,
  • Being hang'd for some crime
  • His Brethren did stupidly gaze on:
  • They made signs without end,
  • But fast hung their friend
  • Like a Free and an Accepted Mason.

  • They tell us fine things
  • Sow yt lords, dukes, and kings,
  • Their mis'tries have put a good grace on:
  • For their credit be't said
  • Many a skip has been made
  • A Free and an Accepted Mason.

  • From whence I conclude
  • Tho' it seem somewhat rude
  • No credit their tribe we should piace on:
  • Since a cool we may see
  • Of any degree,
  • May commence all Accepted Mason.

When a candidate receives the First Degree of Freemasonry he is said to be entered. It is used in the sense of admitted, or introduced; a common as well as a Masonic employment of the word, as when we say, "the youth entered college"; or, "the soldier entered the service."
See Apprentice, Entered.
An English clergyman, born about 1703, who took much interest in Freemasonry about the middle of the eighteenth century. He revised the third edition of Anderson's Constitutions by order of the Grand Lodge, which was published in 1756. The next issue of the Book of Constitutions, in 1767, also has his name on the title page as successor to Doctor Anderson, and is often attributed to him, but it is described as "A new edition . . . by a Committee appointed by the Grand Lodge," and it does not appear that he had anything to do with its preparation (seeArs QuatuorCoronatorum, 1908, xxi, paps 80).
Entick was also the author of many Masonic sermons, a few of which were published. Oliver speaks of him as a man of grave and sober habits, a good Master of his Lodge, a fair disciplinarian, and popular with the Craft. But Entick did not confine his literary labors to Freemasonry. He was the author of a History of the War which ended in 1763, in five volumes, and a History of London, in four volumes. As an orthoepist he had considerable reputation and published a Latin and English Dictionary, and an Engltsh Spelling Dictionary. He died in 1773.
An impressive ceremony in the degree of Perfect Master of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
See Points of Entrance, Perfect.
See Shock of Entrance.
That portion of the ceremony of initiation which consists in communicating to the candidate the modes of recognition.
This meanest of vices has always been discouraged in Freemasonry. The fifth of the Old Charges says: "None shall discover envy at the prosperity of a brother" (see Constitutions, 1723, page 53).
In the doctrine of Gnosticism, Divine spirits occupying the intermediate state which was supposed to exist between the Supreme Being and the Jehovah of the Jewish theology, whom the Gnostics called only a secondary deity. These spiritual beings were indeed no more than abstractions, such as Wisdom, Faith, Prudence, etc. They derived their name from the Greek azure, meaning an age, in reference to the long duration of their existence. Valentinius said there were but thirty of them; but Basilides reckons them as three hundred and sixty-five, which certainly has an allusion to the days of the solar year.
In some of the philosophical degrees, references are made to the Eons, whose introduction into them is doubtless to be attributed to the connection of Gnosticism with certain of the advanced degrees.
Ragon (Juilleur General, a handbook of the Degrees, page 186) describes this rite as one full of beautiful and learned instruction, but scarcely known, and practised only in Asia, being founded on the religious dogmas of Zoroaster. The existence of it as a genuine rite is doubtful, for Ragon's information is very meager.
Easter, the usual word in French is Pâque, a name given to the day when the resurrection of Christ is celebrated by a festival, in the spring of the year. Sometimes called the Paschal Festival but paschal refers to the Jewish Passover as well as the Christian Easter.
The sacred vestment worn by the high priest of the Jews over the tunic and outer garment. It was without sleeves, and divided below the arm pits into two parts or halves, one falling before and the other behind, and both reaching to the middle of the thighs. They were joined above on the shoulders by buckles and two large precious stones, on which were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes, six on each.
The ephod was a distinctive mark of the priesthood. It was of two kinds, one of plain linen for the priests, and another, richer and embroidered, for the high priest, which was composed of blue, purple, crimson, and fine linen. The robe worn by the High Priest or First Principal in a Royal Arch Chapter is intended to be a representation, but hardly can be called an imitation, of the ephod.
The descendants of Ephraim. They inhabited the center of Judea between the Mediterranean and the river Jordan. The character given to them in a certain degree of being a stiffnecked and rebellious people, coincides with history which describes them as haughty, tenacious to a fault of their rights, and ever ready to resist the pretensions of the other tribes, and more especially that of Judah, of which they were peculiarly jealous. The circumstance in their history which has been appropriated for a symbolic purpose in the ceremonies of the Second Degree of Freemasonry, may be briefly related thus. The Ammonites, who were the descendants of the younger son of Lot, and inhabited a tract of country east of the river Jordan, had been always engaged in hostility against the Israelites. On the occasion referred to, they had commenced a war on the pretext that the Israelites had deprived them of a portion of their territory. Jephthah, having been called by the Israelites to the head of their army, defeated the Ammonites, but had not called upon the Ephraimites to assist in the victory.
Hence, that high-spirited people were incensed, and more especially as they had had no share in the rich spoils obtained by Jephthah from the Ammonites
They accordingly gave him battle, but were defeated with great slaughter by the Gileadites, or countrymen of Jephthah, with whom alone he resisted their attack. As the land of Gilead, the residence of Jephthah, was on the west side of the Jordan, and as the Ephraimites lived on the east side, in making their invasion it was necessary that they should cross the river, and after their defeat, in attempting to effect a retreat to their own country, they were compelled to recross the river. But Jephthah, aware of this, had placed forces at the different fords of the river, who intercepted the Ephraimites, and detected their nationality by a peculiar defect in their pronunciation. For although the Ephraimites did not speak a dialect different from that of the other tribes, they had a different pronunciation of some words and an inability to pronounce the letter r or sh, which they pronounced as if it were D or s. Thus, when called upon to say Shibboleth, they pronounced it Sibboleth, "which trifling defect," as we are told, "proved them to be enemies." The test to a Hebrew was a palpable one, for the two words have an entirely different signification; shibboleth meaning an ear of corn, and sibboleth, a burden. The biblical relation will be found in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Judges (see Shibboleth).
In chronology, a certain point of time marked by some memorable event at which the calculation of years begins. The various peoples have different epochs or epocha. Thus, the epoch of Christians is the birth of Christ; that of Jews, the creation of the world; and that of Mohammedans, the flight of their prophet from Mecca (see Calendar).
This was the name given to one who had passed through the Great Mysteries, and been permitted to behold what was concealed from the mystoe, wno had only been initiated into the Lesser. It signifies an eye-untness, and is derived from the Greek, esoofax, to look over, to behold.
The epopts repeated the oath of secrecy which had been administered to them on their initiation into the Lesser Mysteries, and were then conducted into the lighted interior of the sanctuary and permitted to behold what the Greeks emphatically termed the sight, abrofta. The epopts alone were admitted to the sanctuary, for the mystae were confined to the vestibule of the temple. The epopts were, in fact, the Master Masons of the Mysteries, while the mystae were the Apprentices and Fellow Crafts; these words being used, of course, only in a comparative sense.
Surname sometimes spelled Esprémesnil, also Eprémesnil. French magistrate. Born at Pondicherry, India, December 5, 1745; educated at Paris; member of French Parliament, he vigorously defended its rights against royalty and was imprisoned on the Island of Saint Marguerite for four months. Brother Amiable says he was there a year. He returned to Paris a popular hero but on being chosen first deputy by the nobility he defended monarchy and the rising tide of revolution engulfed him.
Publicly attacked by a mob, wounded seriously, rescued by the National Guard, he escaped to his property near Havre. He was arrested there, condemned to death by the revolutionary tribunal at Paris, and was guillotined on April 22, 1794. He was a member of the Lodge of the Nine Sisters at Paris, his name being on the calendar for 1788 where he ranked as the Deputy of the Lodge (see Une Loge Magonnique d' AvanX 1789, Louis Amiable, Paris, 1897, page 268).
Among the ancient iconologists, students of likenesses, equality was symbolized by a female figure holding in one hand a pair of scales equipoised and in the other a nest of swallows. The moderns have substituted a level for the scales. And this is the Masonic idea. In Freemasonry, the level is the symbol of that equality which, as Godfrey Higgins (.Anacalypsis i, 790) says, is the very essence of Freemasonry. "All, let their rank in life be what it may, when in the Lodge are brothers—brethren with the Father at their head. No person can read the Evangelists and not see that this is correctly Gospel Christianity."
An officer in various royal courts who has the charge of horses. For some now unknown reason the title has been introduced into certain of the advanced degrees.
A Latin word signifying knight. Every member of the Rite of Strict Observance, on attaining to the seventh or highest degree, received what has been termed a characteristic name, which was formed in Latin by the addition of a noun in the ablative case, governed by the preposition a or ab, to the word Eques, as Eques à Serpente, or Knight of the Serpent, Eques ab Aquila, or Knight of the Eagle, etc., and by this name he was ever afterward known in the Order.
Thus Bode, one of the founders of the Rite, was recognized as Eques à Lilio Convallium, or Knight of the icily of the Valleys, and the Baron Hund, another founder, as Eques ab Ense, or Knight of the Sword. A similar custom prevailed among the Illuminati and in the Royal Order of Scotland. Eques signified among the Romans a knight, but in the Middle Ages the knight was called miles; although the Latin word mites denoted only a soldier, yet, by the usage of chivalry, it received the nobler signification. Indeed, NIuratori says, on the authority of an old inscription, that Eques was inferior in dignity to Miles (see Miles).
A Latin expression for Professed Rnight. The seventh and last degree of the Rite of Strict Observance. This ceremony was added, it is said, to the original series by Von Hund.
See Triangle.
The equipoised balance, an instrument for weighing, is an ancient symbol of equity. On the medals, this virtue is represented by a female holding in the right hand a balance, and in the left a measuring wand, to indicate that she gives to each one his just measure. In the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, the thirty-first Degree, or Grand Inspector Inquisitor Commander, is illustrative of the virtue of equity; and hence the balance is a prominent symbol of that degree, as it is also of the Sixteenth Degree, or Princes of Jerusalem, because according to the old books, the members were Chiefs in Freemasonry, and administered justice to the inferior degrees.
Derived from two Latin words meaning equal and voice, and indicating doubtful interpretation, something most questionable. To equivocate is to say something with the intention to deceive. The words of the covenant of Freemasonry require that it should be made without evasion, equivocation or mental reservation. This is exactly in accordance with the law of ethics in relation to promises made.
And it properly applies in this case, because the covenant, as it is called, is simply a promise, or series of promises, made by the candidate to the Fraternity to the Brotherhood into whose association he is about to be admitted. In making a promise, an evasion is the eluding or avoiding the terms of the promise; and this is done, or attempted to be done, by equivocation, which is by giving to the words used a secret signification, different from that which they were intended to convey by him who imposed the promise, so as to mislead, or by a mental reservation, which is a concealment or withholding in the mind of the promiser of certain conditions under which he makes it, which conditions are not known to the one to whom the promise is made.
All of this is in direct violation of the law of veracity. The doctrine of the Jesuits is very different. Suarez, one of their most distinguished casuists, lays it down as good law, that if any one makes a promise or contract, he may secretly understand that he does not sincerely promise, or that he promises without any intention of fulfilling the promise. This is not the rule of Freemasonry, which requires that the words of the covenant be taken in the patent sense which they were intended by the ordinary use of language to convey. It adheres to the true rule of ethics, which is, as Paley says, that a promise is binding in the sense in which the promiser supposed the promisee to receive it (see Mental Reservation).
Among the ancient Greeks there were friendly societies, whose object was, like the modern Masonic Lodges, to relieve the distresses of their necessitous members. They were permanently organized, and had a common fund by the voluntary contributions of the members. If a member was reduced to poverty, or was in temporary distress for money, he applied to the eranos, and, if worthy, received the necessary assistance, which was, however, advanced rather as a loan than a gift, and the amount was to be returned when the recipient was in better circumstances.
In the days of the Roman Empire these friendly societies were frequent among the Greek cities, and were looked on with suspicion by the emperors, as tending to political combinations. Smith says (Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities) that the Anglo-Saxon gilds, or fraternities for mutual aid, resembled the eranoi of the Greeks. In their spirit, these Grecian confraternities partook more of the Masonic character, as charitable associations, than of the modern friendly societies, where relief is based on a system of mutual insurance; for the assistance was given only to cases of actual need, and did not depend on any calculation of natural contingencies.
To erect a Lodge is the authorized and time-honored formula to denote the foundation of a new Lodge of Freemasons. It is so employed in the earliest Lodge Charters, or Warrants, as they are styled nowadays, ever issued by any Grand Lodge. The very first of them opens as follows: whereas our Trusted and Well-Beloved Brothers have besought us that we would be pleased to Erect a Lodge off tree Masons, etc., etc
This is in the Warrant of Lodge No. 1, Grand Lodge of Ireland, February 1, 1731-2. Thus sanctioned by authority, and approved by usage, the phrase held the field among English-speaking Freemasons at home and abroad during the half century that preceded the Union of 1813, and still remains a constitutional formula among Grand Lodges that derive their powers from the Grand Lodge of Ireland, or from its step-daughter, the Grand Lodge of the Antients. In view of such unfamiliarity with the documents that embody the history of our organization, it is well to bear in mind that in 1748 there were no Lodge Charters in existence, save those issued under the seal of the Grand Lodge of Ireland. Several years had to elapse before the Irish practise, now so universal, was followed by the Grand Lodge of England.
These comments were made by Brother W. J. Chetwode Crawley, 1901 (Transactions, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, volume xiv, page 15).
The legendary founder in 1695 B.C. of this organization comprising Freemasons only, was Eremon, King of Ulster, Ireland, and the Order is reputed to have ceased its military activities sometime about 1649 to 1659 A.D.
An ancient book Annals of the Four Masters of Ireland, tells of the Knights of the Collar of Eri as instituted by King Eamhuin and his eight princes, the chiefs of the armies of the four provinces of Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connaught. Headquarters were at the city of Armagh, where a palace and royal court existed until destroved by fire in 332 A.D. The palace of the early kings of Ireland and the Great Hall of the Knights were then located at Tara in the County Meath, with a military hospital, named Bronbheagor or House of the Sorrowful Soldier, and a famous college, a noted seat of Celtic learning.
This ancient Order comprised knights and teachers, the Ollamhs, Brehons or judges, Crimtears or priest-astronomers, and Bards, poets and musicians. The modern ceremonies include the grades in order of Man-at-Arms, Esquire, and Knight, Knights Commanders, who are chosen by the Knights Grand Cross, and the latter selected by the Senior Grand Cross who represents the Sovereign, for whom an empty chair is placed at every Assembly. The latter is called the Faslairt, or Camp, and represents a green field. The General Assembly is termed the Foleith.
The Egyptians selected the erica as a sacred plant
The origin of the consecration of this plant will be peculiarly interesting to the Masonic student
There was a legend in the mysteries of Osiris, which related that Isis, when in search of the body of her murdered husband, discovered it interred at the brow of a hill near which an erica grew; and hence, after the recovery of the body and the resurrection of the god, when she established the mysteries to commemorate her loss and her recovery, she adopted the erica as a sacred plant, in memory of its having pointed out the spot where the mangled remains of Osiris were concealed
Ragon (Cours des Initiations, page 151) thus alludes to this mystical event:
Isis found the body of Osiris in the neighborhood of Biblos, and near a tall plant called the Erica
Oppressed with grief, she seated herself on the margin of a fountain whose waters issued from a roek
This rock is the small hit! familiar to Freemasons; the Ertca has been replaced by the Acacza. and the grief of Isis has been changed for that of the Fellow Craits.
The lexicographers define ApeA77 as the heath or heather; but it is really, as Plutarch asserts, the tamarisk tree; and Schwenk tDie Mythologie der Semiten, The Semitic Mythology, relating to the Assyrians, Arameans, Hebraeo-Phenicians, Arabs and Abyssinians, page 248) says that Phyloe, so renowned among the ancients as one of the burialplaces of Osiris, and among the moderns for its wealth of architectural remains, contains monuments in which the grave of Osiris is overshadowed by the tamarisk.

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