The Masonic Trowel

... to spread the cement of brotherly love and affection, that cement which unites us into one sacred band or society of brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble emulation of who can best work or best agree ...

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

 Masonic quotes by Brothers

Search Website For

Add To Favorites

Help Me Maintain OUR Website!!!!!!

List of Contributors

PDF This File

Print This Page

Email This Site To ...

Writing in 1837 William Herbert said of this company "They were incorporated by letters patent of the 26th of Henry Vl Anno 1447, by the style of the Fraternity of St. Catherine of the Virgin, of the Haberdashers of the city of London; but at present are denominated the Master and four Wardens of the Fraternity of the Art or Mystery of Haberdashers in the City of London. This corporation is governed by a master, four wardens, and ninetythree assistants, with a livery of 342 members, who, upon their admission, pay in cash a fine [fee] of twentyfive pounds, and to whom belongs a great estate, out of which, according to the generous benefactions of the several donors, they annually pay to charitable uses about the sum of 3,500.... They may take each too apprentices.... There have been twenty-two lord mayors free of this company. Their principal tenets are Serve and Obey. Their Patroness is St. Catherine. They have had altogether ten charters."
Originally, in the Fourteenth Centurvr, the Haberdashers were a branch of the gild of Mercers, dealers in merceries, or small wares (the phrase "small mercies" may have thus originated), but in course of time the cappers, or hat makers, separated from them. The Haberdashers of small wares also were called Milaners, for selling merchandise from Milan, corrupted into milliner. (In Queen Elizabeth's time the English paid out 60,000 per year for pins alone.) The company, though its first charter w as received in 1447, had been organized a century before that, and had a set of regulations, or by-laws, as early as 1372. Having lost its old documents in the London fire of 1666 the come pony drew up a new code, and among the judges giving it legal sanction was the great jurisconsult Sir Matthew Hale. The officers were named as Master, four Wardens, and 50 Assistants. By "livery" was meant the ceremonial or symbolic clothing which a privileged number of members was entitled to wear: such livery did not signify servitude. The Hurrers, or hatters, and Mercers were combined. The list of the Companyss charities is a long one: it supported five schools; four almshouses; six benefices; two lectures; three exhibitions; and paid many pensions. Many other benefactions it administered as a trustee.

The similarities between the Haberdashers' Company and the Masonic Fraternity are very striking; the more so since the Company was here chosen at Mdom as a specimen of the Twelve Great City CompaDies of London and the long list of lesser Companies, the Mason Company being among the latter. They were ancient; had apprentices; had ceremonies; administered an oath; the membership was divided into ranks; they were governed by Master and Wardens (in a Masonic Lodge that still is the case, for the appointive officers are to assist the Master and Warden, and the Secretary and Treasurer do not govern); they had tenets; arms; were devoted to charity; had quarterly communications and feasts and from a very early time admitted "non-operatives" who "were made free" of the company, so that there were "free Haberdashers" just as there were "free Masons." This entering of non-Operatives into Masonry, of which they were then "free," may be one of the many original meanings of "free Mason." The antiquity, form of organization, oaths, non-operatives, etc., cannot therefore explain why the Free Masons alone continued over into a worldwide fraternity, for the other gilds or fraternities, identical in general customs, would have done the same. It is the extraordinary similarity of the old Free Masonry with the old gilds and companies coupled with the fact that it alone developed into a worldwide Fraternity which is of itself the best proof that the Freemasons also possessed a secret of their own which none of the others ever had.

See London Companies, by William Herbert; London; 1837. It is not as exhaustive as the large histories written since by Hazlitt, etc., but has the advantage of having been written by a man who got his information at first hand, and before the new industrialism had changed the face of London commerce and business.
History has more than one device for creating its romantic effects, but none more surprising than inversion w hich is to have something occur where its opposite would be expected. The universal American custom of the Master's Hat is such an inversion (see page 445); for it is not the custom in contemporary England, where ancient usages are to be expected, yet is required in America, where custom has least weight. American Masons can be glad that this inversion has occurred because there is in craft practice in general and in Masonic practice in particular no custom more honored or more ancient.
The Greeks crowned their poets, their victorious generals, and the winners of the games with wreaths; at Delphi with one of apple boughs, at Olympia with laurel, at Corinth with pine. Even the gods in time came to be represented with a wreath of light or sun rays, the corona, origin of the saints' halo. At a Roman general's Triumph he was crowned with a laurel wreath, called corona triumphalts; in later times a wreath of gold A citizen who had won a peace-time triumph received an ovatton, and a crown for his head. Anglo-Saxons had similar customs; so also the French, who crowned graduates of their Universities with caps; and the Italians who set a cap of fur on a man's head when he was made Duke (not the same as duce!). In England a Duke, Marquis, Earl, Viscount, and Baron received a cap. So also did the alderman or master of a gild or a City Company. Such a cap came to be called "a cap of maintenance," and the coat of arms of the City of London is topped with such a cap. The helmet in military arms is an adaptation of the same custom; the King's "cap" is a six-barred helmet. While Henry VIII was still loyal to the Vatican he was presented with a consecrated cap of maintenance by Pope Leo X. The wearing of such a cap, with its ceremonial significance, was so closely connected with the ceremonial wearing of a sword that the two became enshrines together in the phrase "cap and sword."

It would thus appear that the wreath, cap, or hat began as a badge of honor; perhaps it became afterwards identified with the idea of authority, and then with the idea of a presiding officer, because in so many cases it was the head or chief or leader who was honored. The Master's Hat has both ideas combined in it; it represents his authority to preside; it represents also the fact that he has received the highest honors of his Lodge and it is because it thus is a symbol of that honor that he will not, if he rightly understands his art, take it off and put it aside, as if the honor meant nothing to him; certainly he will not lay it on the floorl
"Ahiman Rezon," the name given by Laurence Dermott to his edition of the Book of Constitutions for the Antient Grand Lodge, was intended to be Hebrew but to date Hebraists are not certain of its meaning; it is believed to mean "Worthy Brother Secretary," or "Help to a Scribe," but the earliest editions carried on the title page the sub-title "Help to a Brother," and that may have been Grand Secretary Dermott's own translation. But why use a Hebrew title? No answer to this question has ever been found. Dermott himself had some Hebrew. There must have been a special interest in Hebrew by members of the Grand Lodge of Ireland at about the time of the writing of the Constitution of the Antient Grand Lodge, which was Irish Masonry transplanted to England, because Irish Grand Lodge medals of the period occasionally carried Hebrew words. A Side Order or High Degree (it is impossible to tell which) was practiced in Ireland, England, and Scotland under the Hebrew name of Herodim (or Harodim, or Highrodim, or Highrodian); Preston called a little society for the study of Masonry which he organized, "Order of Herodim." This word was lifted bodily from I Kings, Ch. 5, of the Hebrew Old Testament, where it meant provosts, or "officers which were over the work." Giblim, another word in Masonic usage, was taken from the same chapter. It is possible that a certain word in the Third Degree which cannot be spoken or written is an altered form of a third Hebrew word from that same chapter.

The whole subject of a Hebrew influence at work in the Seventeenth and early Eighteenth Century Freemasonry is a still-virgin field for Masonic research. There were professors and specialists in Hebrew at Oxford, Cambridge, and the University of Dublin; the making of the Authorized Version under King James in 1611 was much discussed everywhere among edu cated men, and inspired many amateurs to study the language of the Old Testament. Public exhibition at two different times in English cities of models of Solomon's Temple aroused a popular interest in the Book of Kings. The Allegory of the Temple in the Second Degree may have been added to the Ritual in that period; at least an amplification of it. The Raising, which bears the Hebrew name of HA.-. may have originated in the same period (the oldest known Lodge of Master Masons is dated at 1725); this is doubtful because the rite bears internal evidence of having originated much earlier, but it is possible that its general popularity may have been owing to the current of Hebrew interests. The Holy Royal Arch, which in some forms was probably known in Ireland in Time Immemorial Lodges, is Old Testament in spirit and reference; also, if "Arch" meant "chief" or "overseer" the Rite may at one time have been called Herodim.

Thus far no historian has discovered any connection between the origin of Speculative Freemasonry and the Jews. Such Hebraic elements as are found in the Craft Degrees and the High Grades are derived from Hebrew sources at second or at third hand, from the English Bible, from Old Testament traditions and stories, and also, perhaps, and over a roundabout route, from the Kabbala (or Cabala, or Kabbalah). There was much interest in the Kabbala during the early period of the Reformation; Reuchlin, one of Luther's forerunners, was familiar with it; Luther and Melanchton both studied it; there was even a Christian Kabbala. If Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Masons took a lively interest in Hebrew matters it is not to be wondered at; the Hebrew Old Testament comprises two-thirds of the English Bible; and British and European culture, as Matthew Arnold was to remind everybody in the Nineteenth Century, was in origin a blend of Hellenism (Greek, and to some extent, Roman) and of Hebraism.
The curious word in the OB which is pronounced to rhyme with fail and which appears to be contradictive of the pledge of which it is a part has been in continuous use in England since the early Middle Ages. In his comments on "Notes on Some Trade Guilds at Ludlow," in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, Vol. XXXII., 1919, page 149 (page 14 in reprint) Canon Horsley writes:
" The old Saxon word Helyer is still in use. I asked my church warden who thatched his ricks. 'A helyer from Bearsted ' (the next village), he said. The helyer heles or covers the rick. A gardener heles the potato plants he earths up, and so Hell in the Apostles' Creed is the covered place, the unseen world, the ancient conception of the world being that of a flat place with the river of ocean running round it, while above there was a hemisphere heaved up and hence called heaven, and correspondingly beneath there was the heled or covered place. Men could look up and understand something of the star-spangled arch of blue, but the reversed arch or crypt beneath was to the eyes of flesh 'heled, concealed, and never revealed,' or, as some would I suppose say, 'hailed, concailed, and never revailed '."
Heraldry in Britain was an art or science, professed by learned specialists and officials, with its foundation in civil law. A coat of arms was in essence a patent in the firm of pictures and devices, it was an official and attestation about a family's origin and past; and since special privileged often of large value, might go with such an origin, a coat of arms was more than a badge or a decoration; just as a deed was a legal Charter confirming ownership of a property, a coat of arms was a deed confirming ownership in certain honors, privileges, and titles. Since the Constitution of the United States recognized the existence of no classes or titles, heraldry in America has been either a hobby or a minor branch of the arts.
The Grand Lodge of England (1717) adopted as its seal the old seal of the Masons Company of London; Laurence Dermott adopted for the Antient Grand Lodge (1751) a seal which he found in a work by Jehudah ben Leon, a Hebrew scholar for whom he felt a great reverence; perhaps the device thus chosen also recommended itself because it contained a plain hint of the Royal Arch Degree. Each of the Grand Lodges in the United States has an official seal; some are designed according to the strict rules of heraldry; others are intended to be so, but without any strictness in the rules; still others are rather wide departures from that art. one of the seals that have been used by California, and the seal of New York are similar to the Antient Grand Lodge seal.
Landscapes are used in Montana, Vermont, Kansas, North Dakota the Montana picture suggesting High Hills and Low Dales, the North Dakota suggesting Fords of the Jordan. Great Pillars are conspicuous in the designs used by Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, and some nine or ten others. In some designs the Pillars are surmounted by Globes, in others are not. Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, and Utah have two Pillars joined at the top by a round arch; Wisconsin has the Five Orders of Architecture. These lists are suggestive, not exhaustive, and the designs are subject to change. Two blunders are repeated in some ten or twelve designs: inch marks on the square, which make it a carpenter's square; and dividers used where compasses were intended.

See illustrated essay on "The Heraldry of Masonry," by Walter F. Meier, P. G. M., page 3; Masonic Papers; Research Lodge, No. 281; Seattle, Washington; 1943. John Ross Robertson has a characteristically scholarly chapter on Masonic heraldry in his History of Freetnasonry in Canada. For general works see: Heraldry, Historical and PopulaXr, by Charles Boutell; 3rd Ed.; illustrated; Richard Bentley, London, Eng.; 1864. A Complete Guide to Heraldry, by Arthur C. Fox Davis; Dodge Pub. Co.; New York. Heraldry in America, by Eugene Ziebler; Bailey, Banks & Biddle Co.; 1895. For an account of the seals of Canadian Grand Lodges see The Builder; August, 1929; page
Under the head of "Hermes," reference is made to Hermes (or Mercury), a mythologic character, and to Hermes Trismegistus, a legendary wise man of ancient Egypt. At the time those paragraphs were written it was still generally believed that Medieval occultism consisting of alchemy, astrology, and the Kabbala, was collectively called Hermetism because it claimed a mythologic descent from the god Hermes, or else from the ancient Egyptian sage; it is now al most certain that the reference was to neither but to a book or collection of writings entitled Hermes Trismegtstus, a fact which explains why a majority of the Medieval occultists (there never were any large number of them) gave as their authority fragments of old texts. They could not have read Egyptian hieroglyphics; a god would have written no book; but they could read fragments or chapters of a book that had been written in Greek and translated into Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew.

When the early bishops of Christian Churches in Italy and Greece began their systematic destruction of Greek and Latin schools and colleges, arts, sciences, and books, believing it their mission to destroy the "old world" in order to build a new one in its place, mathematicians, scientists, artists, architects, scholars, and philosophers became greatly alarmed lest the whole of civilization be obliterated. This alarm reached such a height at Alexandria, Egypt, the Greek-speaking city which was the center of civilization at the time, that a group of scholars there began a counter-propaganda; and one of them, or possibly a group of them, collected or wrote and published the Hermes Trismegistus as a defense of civilization and as a plea to men-everywhere not to destroy the ageold culture of the Mediterranean world.

This attempt to save civilization did not succeed; even the thousand-year-old University at Athens was destroyed; Alexandria itself was burned; illiteracy became universal in Europe; the Dark Ages came on, and lasted between two and three hundred years. But the Hermes did not disappear. It was a favorite book among some of the Post-Nicene Fathers of the Church, who had not approved the destruction of civilization, and in after times a homily modeled on one chapter of it, called Postor Hermes, became one of those pseudepigraphical books which are still ranked second only to the Bible; and it was read by Arabic scholars, from whom portions of it made their way into Europe through Spain.

Hermes was a name given to the mind, and in its larger and more usual sense denoted intelligence, skill, culture. Trismegistus, which etymologically meant "thrice-greatest," was a eulogistic adjective meaning fine, or very fine; the title Hermes Trismegistus carried the general meaning of fine arts, of culture, of civilization. Men of many parties and religions "believed in Hermes"; that is, they fought to save civilization against fanatics in the Church, who were followed by the barbarians from the north. Perhaps the best nontechnical account of Hermes Trismegistus is the essay in Literary Remains of the Late Emanuel Deutsch, published by Henry Holt; New York; 1874. Deutsch, on the staff of the British Museum for some sixteen years, was one of the most brilliant scholars of Nineteenth Century England. Two chapters in his book on the Talmud and four papers on the Vatican Council of 1870 which declared the infallibility of the Pope also are of exceptional value to Masons. It may be taken as a practical certainty that the source of the reference to Hermes in the Masonic Old Charges was Hermes Trismegistus the book, and not faint rumors of an ancient Greek god. At the period when the Old Manuscripts were written very few Freemasons had ever heard of Greek mythology, and least of all of a god named Hermes.
Ranulf (or Ralph) Higden between 1320 and 1360 (the year of his death) wrote and published in eight books a history of the world, or "universal chronicle," entitled Polychronicon, one of the most famous of the Medieval attempts at an encyclopedic narrative of world events, and used as an authority until some three centuries ago. It was twice translated out of Latin into English; once in the Fifteenth Century; once, in 1387, by John Trevisa.
In 1857 the Archivist of the British Parliament, called Master of the Rolls, proposed the publishing of a series of Medieval chronicles; the most accurate text was to be found by an expert collation of the MSS., and each book was to have a historical and biographical introduction. In the following pear, publication began under the general head of Rerum Brita7z1ticorum Alvi Scriptores, popularly called the Roll Series. By 1915 some 250 volumes had been published. After World War I the series was renewed but came to a temporary halt with World War II. Among the titles was John Capgrave's chronicles of England to 1417, a source book for Medieval Masonic history. Higden's Polychronicon was one of the earliest works thus published, in nine volumes, and contained the abovementioned two English translations in addition to the Latin original.

The Cooke MS., the second oldest existing version of the Old Charges, which was dated at 1450 until 3 few years ago but is now believed to have been written as early as 1410 or 1420, quotes from a Polychronicon some seven times (along u ith four other sources) and manuscript authorities have taken this to have been Higden's work; but Knoop, Jones & Hamer in their The Two Earliest Masonic MSS. (Manchester University Press; 1938) raise some doubt about this and think the scribe may possibly have used some other polychronicon, a title used regularly for general chronicles. In his treatise on The 'Naimus Grecus' Legend (A.Q.C.; XVIII; 1905; p. 178) Bro. E. H. Dring in speaking of one of the Coolte MS. polychronicon quotations which he could not find in the Rolls Series version of Higden suggests that the seribe may have had another "one of the numerous MSS. of Higden which are scattered all over England ...."
Wynkyn de Worde began as an apprentice under Caxton, England's first printer, and became his foreman. After Caxton's death he tool; over the business, and printed about 100 titles in Caxton's old shop, then moved to London where before his death in 1534 he printed 500 more. In 1435, only three years after Columbus landed in the West Indies, he published an edition of Higden's Polychronicon. It is famous for having in it the first musical notes ever printed in England.

Higden, after long neglect, is becoming studied by historical scholars in the United States, and by Masonic specialists also, as ought to have been done long ago, seeing that in the Polgchronicon is a better exhibit of what men of Britain and Europe knew, thought, and believed in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries than the popular Medieval romances which have received so much attention. (As this is written Mr. Dawson, rare book dealer of Los Angeles, announces for sale a copy of Higden, "Imprinted in Southwerke by my Peter Treveris at the essences of John Reynes bookeseller, 1527," priced at $300.00.)
In the oldest North Ireland records of Freemasonry are references to "Priests Pillar Lodges" and to "Hedge Masons"; these are taken by the historians of the Irish Craft, Crawley, Lepper, and Crossle, to denote "Lodges" or "makings' out of doors. The Work Book of 1670 of the Lodge Aberdeen 1e of Scotland has a passage connecting the Irish custom with a Scottish one: "We ordain likewise that all entering Prentices be entered in our ancient outfield lodge in the Mearns in the parish of Nigg at the scounces at the point of the Ness."
The Weekly Journal or British Gazeteer, April 11, 1730, published this item: "A few days since, their Graces the Dukes of Richmond and Montague, accompanied by several gentlemen who were all Free and Accepted Masons, according to ancient custom, formed a lodge upon the top of a hill near the Duke of Richmond's seat, at Goodwood in Sussex, and made the Right. Hon. the Lord Baltimore a Free and Accepted Mason." The Duke of Montague (not to be confused with the Duke of Montagtle who was Grand Master in 1721) was Grand Master in 1732 A Duke of Richmond was Grand Master in 1724.

Bro. R. J. Meekren, a former editor of The Builder, contlilJuteel to the interpretation of the history of the Ritual the valuable suggestion that there is a distinct element in the Ritual which is clearly distinguished in t`i7i from the rest; that does not appear to be of architectural origin but is more like certain anthropologic ceremonies, of the sort so abundantly illustrated in Frazer's Golden Bough; that the elite of HA.-. is one of them; that it sounds like an old "cultural survival"; and that it may have been the rite enacted outdoors "on the highest hills or in the lowest vales."
When Freemasonry was carried into India early in the Nineteenth Century the bearers of it in the majority of instances were military Lodges; and as they gave way to permanent, local Lodges the latter were composed almost w holly of English, Scottish, and Irish Brethren for in that period the so-called "color line" was strictly drawn; but after many years one Indian after another was admitted, some of them of the Hindu religion, some of them Mohammedans, with a sprinkling from any one of the other numerous Indian faiths. Masons from America, Britain, and Europe watched this experiment with an abiding interest; when the Fraternity of Anglo-Saxondom, which long had kept the Holy Bible on the altar, became admixed with Hindus, Brahmins, Mohammedans, Jains, Parsees, with believers in the Vedas, the Gita, the Tripitaka, etc., what would be the amalgam thus formed? Would Oriental Freemasonry become transformed out of recognition? Would it preserve its forms but lose its original substance? Not all the returns are in as yet, but aftel a half-century of the experiment there are a sufficient number of them to make clear at least one verdict: that Freemasonry is capable of becoming universal in the most literal sense without being altered in Landmarks or purposes. An ever-growing Masonic literature out of India attests that fact.

A representative of that literature which already is out-dated in India but would be new if it could be widely read in America is an extraordinary book: The K. 1V. Cama Masonic Jubilee Volume, Containing Papers on Masonic Subjects Written by Varuxus Freemasons in Honour of Bro. Kharshedji Rustaniji Cama on his completing 50 years of Masonic Life in the year 1904, edited by Jivanji Jamshedji Modi (Fellow of the University of Bombay); 1907; Bombay.
Bro. Cama was Made a Mason in Rising Star of Western India, No. 342, S. C., August 24, 1856, and to honor his many years of service in Craft work and to recognize his fame as an authority on Indian literature and also in Iranian literature, the Lodge proposed a banquet, but he demurred, and in lieu of it his Brethren prepared this volume in his honor. The volume consists of eighteen contributions, along with two or three poems. Among the authors are such names as Mills, Harley, Dover, co-mingled with such names as Wadia, Ghose, Dass; the concluding contribution is a paper on "Zoroaster and Euclid," by Bro. Jivanji Jamshedji Modi. American readers will be pleased to discover one of our own Brothers in this symposium, R.-. W. . William C. Prime, of the Grand Lodge of New York. (The translator has him a resident of the city of Tonkers instead of Yonkers. Yonkers is a large industrial city and Masonic center which would be known the world over were it not smothered by New York City.)

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

This site is not an official site of any recognized Masonic body in the United States or elsewhere.
It is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion
of Freemasonry, nor webmaster nor those of any other regular Masonic body other than those stated.

DEAD LINKS & Reproduction | Legal Disclaimer | Regarding Copyrights

Last modified: March 22, 2014