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HISTORY OF FREEMASONRY.
The art, trade, craft, or gild of architecture is as old as history, and as wide as the world; nor can the most convinced Utopian envisage a time when men will no longer need buildings. For more than half a century Masonic scholars have almost unanimously agreed that Free and Accepted Freemasonry had its origin in the buildding crafts of the Middle Ages, a fact which is perpetuated in the name of the Fraternity, "mason" being be Medieval term for "builder."
But to say this says almost nothing because it says too much. The Medieval Craft was very broad, very inclusively and it existed in every civilized, or halfcivilized country; evidently it was not the whole of this Craft which transformed itself into Lodges of Freemasons because only a few of the masons ever joined the Lodges; and it was only in England that the Lodges developed into what we now call Speculative Masonry or, what amounts to the same thing developed into that form of Operative masonry out of which Speculative Lodges developed.
Those Lodges were like small islands in an encompassing sea; the larger part of the craft in England, and the whole of it in other countries, ignored their existence, was unaffected by them, and to this day continues to be what it was then, the total number of workmen who design and erect buildings; if that working craft be described as "Operative" Masonry then only a small fraction of Operative Masonry ever found its way into the Speculative Masonry. It is therefore not true to say that "Freemasonry is an outgrowth of Operative Masonry"; it is necessary to say that it grew up within Operative Masonry, and is an outgrowth of only one thing in it.
The Medieval craft was in reality a congeries of separate crafts, or separate types or grades or sorts of workmen: these were freemasons, workmen in free stone, and able to carve free hand and to calculate the shape and dimension of a stone by geometry; rough masons, or setters, who could cut ashlars and place them in walls; there were wailers, quarrymen, marblers, tilers, paviors, carpenters, sculptors, and painters; and in addition there were many who worked as clerks, bookkeepers, servants, and in small specialties. Each of these kinds of masons was organized in a gild, or fraternity, or company of its own; and so distinctive were they that a gild of masons of one kind would have no relations with a gild of another kind, but on the contrary, and like modern labor unions in the same trade, often were at loggerheads with each other. Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons are therefore knot descended from Medieval operative masons in general; they are descended only from that particular branch of the Craft who were called Freemasons.
The Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons is only one association or society which developed within, or grew out of, the practices of operative Freemasons; there were also the German Steinmetzen, a branch of the French Compagnonnage, the modern Worshipful Society of Operative Masons, the City Companies, etc. These last were first begun in the Twelfth Century and a number of them continue in existence until this day; they were permanent and powerful organizations in each of the cities and larger towns, and until well into the Eighteenth Century vrere the paramount organization among the other organizations of builders. Permanent Lodges of Freemasons were therefore only one among a number of organized fraternities or associations of Masons. Gould and lackey in their Histories sought for the solution of the problem of how Operative Freemasonry developed into Speculative Freemasonry; it has since become plain that the true problem of Masonic History how and why one particular form of association of Freemasons (permanent Lodges) came to grow up among a number of other kinds of Masonic associations.
Also, there were Freemasons, and a number of different associations of Freemasons, in Spain, France Italy, the Lowlands, and Germany as well as in England. Why did not these Masonic fraternities on the Continent ever develop into Speculative Freemasonry? If Speculative Freemasonry had developed of itself out of Operative Masonry they would have done so, because Operative Masonry there was the same as in England; yet it was only in England that Speculative Freemasonry arose, and the Lodges and Grand Lodges now at work in Europe are descended from Lodges which were first planted there by the Grand Lodges of England.
The general craft of building throughout the world in the Middle Ages must therefore be narrowed down to the craft in England. This in turn must be narrowed down to the Freemasons, a special class among builders. But there were Freemasons throughout England, thousands of them, who never belonged to Lodges; and while each of those was under the general rules of his trade and the civil laws which controlled his work and wages, many of them were not members of any gild or fraternity. A Freemason might have his own shop, with his own apprentices, where he would turn out stock goods; or be the resident architect (or Master Mason) of some cathedral, church, monastery, castle, palace, or mansion; or there might be resident in a town only two or three Freemasons, too few to form an organization. If a solution for the problem of the origin of Speculative Freemasonry in Medieval Operative Masonry is to be found, the field of Medieval Freemasonry must be narrowed down.
Among Medieval Operative Freemasons in general there began to develop in the Twelfth Century a class of specialists. These were men trained and educated to design and construct buildings in the Gothic style. Until that century the majority of public buildings cathedrals, halls, churches, etc. were designed in the Romanesque style. Who it was that discovered the set of architectural principles called Gothic is not known, but it must have been a discovery instead of a gradual modification, because the Romanesque style came to an end suddenly; and because the new style differed so radically from the old that Freemasons of a new kind were called for. The first important building in Gothic was the abbey church of St. Denis, near Paris, erected by the famous Abbot Suger, dated at about 1140 A.D. Within a few years Gothic builders were in England, and in the next two centuries they erected there the great cathedrals, and hundreds of Gothic abbeys, chapels, priories, palaces, mansions, castles, bridges, and halls. These workmen were highly educated because their work required it of them (they are often described as "the Cathedral Builders"); they understood geometry, engineering, the art of stained glass, carving and sculpture, and were able to make plans and models for vast and intricate structures, the like of which had never been attempted before in any part of the world. They were the geniuses, the first men, the best minds in Europe for a long period of some two hundred years. Internal evidence everywhere indicates that it was these Freemasons, organized in Lodges, to whom we owe the beginnings of what became Speculative, or Free and Accepted Masonry. Not all members of the first permanent Lodges were Gothic Freemasons; not all Gothic Freemasons were in those Lodges; but it appears indisputable that the "art or science" of Speculative Freemasonry was their creation and that if it had not been for the Gothic builders the ordinary, local Freemasons would never have made such a Fraternity possible.
What secret did those Freemasons in their Lodges discover? Why did they have a separate building in which to meet, designed expressly for themselves? Why did they lock the door, cover the windows, and set an armed guard outside? They kept their secret with extraordinary care, and for that same reason did not write it down, so that we at this late date are forced to fall back on internal evidence; but that internal evidence, if we stop to consider it, is really very impressive and weighty, because it consists of nothing less than Speculative Freemasonry as we now possess it. There have been changes in Speculative Freemasonry during the past two centuries; there were other changes in it between 1350 A.D. and 1717 A.D., but it is clear that through these centuries an original core, or body, has persisted throughout, and has never lost its original identity.
Speculative Freemasonry, its Ritual and Symbols, its fellowship, and its form of organization is obviously an organization of, and projection into the world of, a unique, unprecedented (before the Middle Ages) philosophy of work. A Lodge is by definition a body of tnen organized for the purpose of work, and has nothing in common with church, club, or school. The Ritual is called The Work. A Candidate is an Apprentiee workman, and is given Tools to work with. The badge of membership is a workman's Apron. What is called its charity is not in reality charity, help given to the poor, but is a form of relief, or aid given to the casualties of labor, or to their widows and orphans. Its fraternalism is not fellowship in general, but only that fraternity which is known among men who work together. Petitioners are said to be from the Quarries. A man is an Ashlar. The Symbols are meaningless except as they express some truth or fact about work. The officers are Masters and Wardens of Workmen. (See FREEMASONRY, DEFINITION OF elsewhere in this Supplement.)
When a large number of Gothic builders came together to construct a building that would require years of time they organized themselves as a Lodge, and erected a building for it; when the work was completed the Lodge was dissolved, and the Lodge building moved or demolished. At some period which can be roughly dated as about 1350 A.D., and most probably at some one of the three centers of York, London, or Gloucestershire, and for the first time, one of these Lodges was not dissolved, but was kept on, and became permanent. It was the first of what was to be a long succession of such Lodges over a period of nearly three centuries.
According to the Ordinances of Religion and civil law both, such a body of men, thus become a corporate entity, had to have a charter, or to be warranted by authority of prescription, or be an authorized branch of a body possessing a charter. This first permanent and independent Lodge of Freemasons laid claim to the possession of such legal rights by declaring itself to be acting under a Charter granted in the time of King Athelstan, at York; and it set forth that claim in a document since called The Old Charges (or Old Manuscripts, or Old Constitutions) Other Lodges secured a like claim (never disputed_ and the fact throws light on the "York Legend") by obtaining copies of the original of the Old Charges. Since some 150 to 200 of these copies or versions are still in existence (one was found in Philadelphia) the total number of them over a period of 250 years must have been very large, 500 to 600 it may have been.
Possibly at the very beginning, certainly before many years, these Lodges working under the Old Charges began to admit, or accept, into their member ship non-Operatives, men who did not practice Masonry as a trade but sought for membership in a Lodge because of what it could teach them. These were called Accepted, or Speculative, or Gentlemen, or Geomatic Masons. By the Seventeenth Century there must have been a large number of these Accepted Masons; some Lodges were composed solely of them (as at Warrington), others were mixed (as at Aberdeen), and others were wholly Operative (as the Journeymen's Lodge).
In 1716 four of these Lodges which were at work in London, and possibly more, held a conference on the question of establishing a central body by which the many separate, independent Lodges could be brought together. In the following year they formed a Grand Lodge "Grand" meaning "a Lodge composed of Lodges." Ireland set up a Grand Lodge in 1725; Scotland in 1736; and a second one was erected in London in 1751.
This new Grand Lodge system worked a revolution in the old Free and Accepted Masonry, not by deliberate intent, for its feelings were very conservative, but in consequence of a number of steps taken by it. It published a new and much altered version of the Old Charges in a Book of Constitutions in 1723. It made it possible for a small number of Freemasons to institute a new Lodge anywhere, merely by obtaining official consent ("warrant") from the Grand Master. It opened the doors of each Lodge to any qualified man, of any trade or calling. It severed all connection with the craft of Operative Masonry, and became a Fraternity of Speculative Masons, so that any Operative Mason in membership (as he once had had) possessed no priority or especial voice. The work of building was replaced by the Work of the Ritual, which grew to such proportions that where it had once been conferred in one evening (at least, it often was) it now took three evenings. As time passed Lodges and Grand Lodges w ere set up in other countries. In America Lodges appeared late in the 1720's and Provincial Grand Masters and Grand Lodges began to appear in 1730.
At the time of writing there are some three and onehalf million Masons and nearly 15,000 Lodges in the United States alone; and the time is approaching when every country in the world will have its own Lodgesand Grand Lodges deeply rooted in it. This gives Freemasonry the appearance of having grown with extraordinary luxuriance; that appearance is supported by the contrast between the number of Lodges now and "the four old Lodges" in 1717, and historians are astounded by it, since the Fraternity sends out no missionaries and solicits no members; it is the largest, as well as the oldest, Fraternity in existence. 'But there is another sense, and a truer sense, in which Freemasonry has not grown; its number of members has grown but it itself has not grown, because it is now, except in detail and in accidentals, what it was in 1350- Any given Lodge possessed then as much FreemaSonly as any Lodge possesses now.
The truths, insights, and profound inspirations which Freemasons discovered then remain unaltered now; it is those truths that have persisted through changes of each and every kind, and had the vitality and power to project themselves through decades and generations and countries, adapting circumstances to themgelves, and never changing except when they could only maintain their own identity unaltered by means of change.
For centuries before Pythagoras (600 B.C.), the Egyptians had learned an empirical, rule-of-thumb geometry for laying out fields, computing areas, fixing landmarks; and they reduced the rules for carrying on each particular operation to tables or formulas which a boy in school would learn by heart. It was geometrical, not geometry; a practitioner of it was like a cook who can learn a recipe by heart and can cook by it but understands no chemistry. It was an "operative" geometry. Pythagoras, Hero, Euclid, and Archimedes saw that geometry need not be tied to the ground; they divorced it from engineering, made an abstract system of it, and produced geometry properly so called, a work of the mind which could be used anywhere, by anybody, for countless purposes. Geometry thus became a "speculative science."
They saw that what was true of a stone was true of any other material object having mass and possessed of the same properties. The farmers in the Greek Valley of Eleusis, not far from Athens, raised grain for century after century, and always with the same implements, and according to the same rules of culture; while carrying on this work they learned one truth after another (and learned it from their work) about the earth, about themselves, and about the world, until their farming customs became weighted and enriched with so much religion and philosophy that in the end their whole system became detached from grain farming and was carried on for its own sake in the Eleusinian Mysteries. This is the course of history followed by each of the arts and sciences. An art or science began with a set of rule-of-thumb methods learned by heart for working with clay, glass, copper, iron, sulphur, salt, soil, etc., and for shaping objects for particular purposes; and then after a long time was detached from those particular materials, was generalized, and made independent; what began as pottery-making, farming, blacksmithing, glass working, paint-making, building, designing structures, etc., became chemistry, physics, mechanics, astronomy, music, art, literature, religion, philosophy.
So did Speculative Freemasonry arise within Operative Freemasonry. In the Middle Ages almost everything was made or produced by a handicraft. This meant that a man stood in the same place, doing the same simple thing, over and over, year after year; and each sort of production was divided up as much as possible so that one gild made bows, another made bow-strings, a third made arrows. A man who stood every day at the same vat making the same dye, or sat at the same loom weaving the same cloth, or plowed the same three fields with the same plow for the same crops generation after generation, could neither learn much nor think much, and the fact explains why Medieval peoples did not discover the arts and sciences for themselves. But the designers and builders of the cathedrals stood apart from such workmen, and in a true sense stood above them, and comprised a unique body of workmen. They were architects, artists, sculptors, geometricians, engineers all at a stroke, and in order to do their work even for one day required not only a broad training but a broad education; and they were compelled to be thinkers, because no two Gothic buildings ever were alike; furthermore they were erecting public buildings, which were to be houses of religion and social centers, and were crowded with sculptures and pictures filled with history, theology, and philosophy.
The cathedral builder had no machinery, factoryprocessed materials, blue-prints, hand-books, steam, electricity, telephones to use as does the modern builder, but depended solely upon his own skill. What is work? What are its forms? How many skills can a man have? In how many ways can workmen work together? It is little wonder that the cathedral builder began to think about work itself, not his own in particular, but work per se, its nature and meaning and place in things, and what it means to the men who do the world's work.
The question as to what is meant by "Symbolic Masonry" is the pons asinorum, the true Pythagorean Theorem, for each student of Freemasonry. In many instances, as is proved by some hundreds of Masonic books, it has been taken to mean that building itself is turned into a symbol; and from that fallacy have come thousands of moralizings and allegorizings about "edification," "building one's self," "making a house for the soul," "a spiritual temple," and what not. But the Medieval workmen who fathered Freemasonry never dreamed of turning themselves or their buildings into a set of metaphors and allegories; such a procedure would have been distasteful to them, and moreover they had too much intelligence. They left the buildings as they were, in their full actuality; the stone continued to be real stone; their day's work was no allegory, but a sweaty, bodily experience. By Symbolic Masonry they meant that while building continued to be a material, everyday, laborious craft, and they worked at it to earn wages, they nevertheless had learned from it, and in it, a number of truths about work which are true for each and every other kind of work. Masonry was a symbol in the sense of being a specimen. They had Speculative Masonry in the same sense that we have it now; the difference between them and ourselves is that they were in the building craft as a means of livelihood whereas we can be in any form of livelihood we wish.
In the light of these facts it is no longer difficult to see the full meaning of that transition from (in general) Operative Masonry to Speculative Freemasonry which occurred in a period roughly marked by 1717. It is the same thing that occurred when the rule-ofthumb land surveying of the Egyptians was dissociated from land by the Greek thinkers and turned into a universal abstract science. Before 1717, and speaking of it as a whole and in generalities, Masons had as much Speculative Freemasonry as we have non, but they kept it tied to the single craft of building. The setting up of the Grand Lodge system in 1717 was the means by which this tie was cut; Speculative Freemasonry became universal; the truths • on and learned by the builders became every man's truths.
In the early Lodges much in the rites, symbols, and ceremonies (Medieval Freemasons are likely to have had more of them than we have) was fixed or determined by the demands or conditions of the member's daily, operative work, or else w as naturally expressed in the nomenclature of that work. The member had, as it were, a divided mind, at least he had two foci on which to fix his attentions: the truth, teachings, symbols of Speculative Masonry on the one hand, his daily practice of Operative Masonry on the other. After the Fraternity had become wholly Speculative, being completely disconnected from Operative Masonry and divorced from control by its rules and regulations, Masons gave their whole thought and attention to that in the Lodge which always had been Speculative, and which had always been presented not in the forms of books, lectures, or a school room but in the form of rites, symbols, and emblems; and these latter became a beautiful, well-rounded, artistically complete Ritual, the like of which is nowhere else to be found, and n hich is one of man's supreme cultural masterpieces, comparable to any cathedral, or to the translation of the Bible, or Shakespeare's Plays, or Homer's Iliads.
The first consequence of the freeing of the Fraternity from its shackles to a single trade was an enlargement and revision and betterment of the Ritual. There was no intention of altering what had been received from the first Lodges, least of all of replacing it with something new; rather the purpose w as to give the old a new luster, a more adequate setting, a better language; and if the Three Degrees of 1740 A.D. and afterwards differed much from the rites and ceremonies of a Lodge in 1350 A.D., a member of the latter, could he have been a visitor in 1740, would have first been struck by the change, and then he would have been struck by the fact that the modern Work was presenting and expressing and teaching the same teachings he had known in 1350.
The second consequence was that the more Masons studied and examined and reflected upon the philosophy (to give it that name for lack of a better) which they had inherited, the more they found in it, the more it grew under the eyes, the larger the place which it came to fill in their minds. One teaching opened into another; one truth led to another truth. There was a principle of growth in it. That growth resulted in the formation of some forty new Degrees, divided into fraternities of their own, the Royal Areh, Cryptic Masonry, Knight Templarism, and the Scottish Rite. Unlike new inventions, or new systems set up independently, these High Grades, as they were first called, are new developments of old themes, and each and every Degree in them has its roots in the old teachings. H. L. H.
To the article on Hogarth, page 460, may be added the fact that a second of his pictures is as much a document of contemporary Freemasonry as his better-known "Night." This is the print, almost cruel in its satire, which he entitled "Sleeping Congregation." Among these sleepers, and placed there by an artist who had come to know them well at the Quarterly Sessions of Grand Lodge and in a dozen London Lodges, are portraits of a number of Grand Lodge Officers and other Masonic notables.
Hogarth's prints, at least the three principal series of them, are not Masonic documents but they are the next thing to being such, because in the light of them it becomes easy to understand a number of customs carried on by early Speculative Lodges which it would be difficult for a Twentieth Century Mason, two centuries removed, to understand or, it may even be to sympathize with. They give us the milieu in which the Lodges worked. "Hudibras Consulting Sidrophel" and "Roast Beef of Old England" are especially illuminating the second title itself is half ironic be cause old England had very little roast beef, and in the winters until refrigeration was discovered, the populace, rich and poor, lived on salted meat, fish, eels, ete., for which reason the Worshipful Company of Salters was for generations a rich and honorable fraternity.
See Hoyarth's London Constable & Co.; London 1909; in especial see iliustrations and notes under Tavern Life, Garriek and the Theater, Gormogons etc.
There were a number of Masonic families in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Masonry, in which the men generation after generation kept up a family interest in the Craft the Royal Family of England itself, the Rosslyns of Scotland, the Mylnes, the Stanhopes, etc.; among these was the Holme family in Chester. This family, more than any other, is interesting to readers of Masonic history; first, because they were Masons in the Seventeenth Century decades before the Grand Lodge era; second, because they left behind in their writings so much about Masonry. Rylands is the principal authority on the family, and a series of papers contributed by him to the Masonic Magazine in 1882 was incorporated almost bodily in Gould's History, Vol. I.
There was a Time Immemorial Lodge at work in Chester before 1650. The nearby Warrington Lodge in which Ashmole was initiated in 1646 was doubtless one of its daughter Lodges, it having only seven members at the time to Chester's twenty-six. After having been warranted by the Grand Lodge in 1739, as Royal Chester, it combined in 1834 with two other Lodges to become Cestrian Lodge, No. 615. The most famous of the Holmes, Randle III, mas a member of this Lodge. He was a learned antiquarian, author of a famous work on Armorial Devices; and u as the copyist of the important Harleian MS. No. 2054 version of the Old Charges. In the Academie of Armorie he wrote: "I cannot but honour the fellowship of the Masons, because of its antiquity, the more as being a member of that Society called Freemasons." These last words suggest that there was in the mid-Seventeenth Century a distinction between the Masons as an old craft, and as a Society. (See Antiquity of Chester Masonry, by John Armstrong; Chester; England; 1900.)
An ever-increasing mass of evidence indicates that the pre-historic peoples who were ancestors of modern European peoples had everywhere an idea which anthropologists call mana - and the word was not chosen arbitrarily but was carried over into historical times from ancient usage. By mana was meant that each particular thing had something in it which was the cause of any changes or activities taking place within it. sir John Lubbock, father of the study of primitive culture, christened this animism, because, as he viewed it, this "something in each thing," was believed to be the thing's soul, or spirit, etc. But his successors do not believe that mana was always taken to be a soul, and hence have discarded "animism." In many instances, the mana was believed to have great potency; it could be dangerous to men; hence some things were fenced off by taboos, and other things were sacra (sacred), that is, were fenced in, and were contemplated with awe.
Christianity arose among peoples who still believed in mana, and revered sacra, and practiced taboos; these beliefs were the earliest meaning of the word "holy," a term destined to undergo a total transformation- By "holy" was meant that certain things had in them a mana which possessed supernatural, or miracle-working powers. Out of this arose the belief that "relics" possessed supernatural potencies. This belief was carried over into the Roman Church; every church had its reliquary, and a man w ho made a profession of finding and selling relics was a "relic-er," or relic seller.
It was at this point, more than at any other, that Protestantism broke with the Roman Church; and to a large extent Protestant theology could be defined as the denial of mana, sacra, relics, the supernatural or miracle-working power of the bones, clothing, hair, etc., of saints; or of sacred images, or holy wells, eta The word "holy" came in Protestantism to mean "moral perfection." It is from this Protestant source that Freemasonry has its own uses and meanings of "holy"; there is the Holy Bible, the Volume of the Sacred Law, the difference between the initiated and the profane, the dedication of temples, the consecration of Lodges, the installation of officers, the "sacred ground," and the Rite of Discalceation. Nothing primitive remains in any one of these; they bare, rather, wholly Masonic in their use, and are comparatively modern; and there is no evidence to be found in any of the cathedrals or other buildings (the Operative Masons' "autobiography") that even the earliest Operative Masons cherished any of the ancient superstitions. (See The Golden Bough, by Sir J. G. Frazer, and the great special literature of which that work is typical. For a special study of the "holy" in the beginning of the Christian era see The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism, by Franz Cumont; Open Court Co.; Chicago; 1911.)
HONOLULU, FIRST LODGE AT.
M. LeTellier, a Frenchman, a 33° Mason in a French Lodge, was captain of the Whaler Ajax. Honolulu was a rendezvous for whalers from the world over. Bro. LeTellier found so many Masons among them that he applied door and received a French deputation, dated 1842, and with it organized Loge Le Progress. Hawaiian kings and princes were made Masons in it. The oldest Minutes are dated January 17, 1846. It transferred to the Grand Lodge of California, August 81, 1905. ,See Le Tellier's Lodge at Honolulu, by Ed. Towse; Honolulu; II. I.)
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