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THE BUILDER MAGAZINE
volume 1 - number 1
THE NATIONAL MASONIC RESEARCH SOCIETY
BY JOSEPH FORT NEWTON
UNDER the sign of the Square and Compasses--emblems as eloquent as they are ancient --"The Builder" takes up its labors for the advancement of Freemasonry, with malice toward no man, no party, no church, but with a sincere and hearty good will toward all its fellow-workers in the search for truth and the service of humanity. Obviously it is fitting, in this initial issue, that a statement be made as to the Society of which this journal is a spokesman, its purpose, its spirit, its ideals, and the designs on its Trestle-Board.
So enthusiastic, so remarkable indeed has been the response from all over the country to the suggested organization of a National Masonic Research Society, that there is no longer any doubt that such a movement is needed and that it has a fruitful and far-reaching service to render to the Order. Surely he is a poor prophet, and no poet at all, who does not see that this Society, as now organized and working, can easily be made a factor of moment in the life and progress of Masonry in all its rites and activities, and if we give ourselves to it with earnestness, the day of its founding will be looked back upon as one of the significant dates in the recent history of the Craft.
Some things need to be set down plainly, by way of preface, in behalf of a frank and full understanding. Let it be said once for all that this movement has back of it no motive of personal aggrandizement, much less of pecuniary profit. Instead of trying to make money out of Masonry, the founders of this Society are putting time, money and energy into it, thinking little and caring less of any returns other than to find the truth and tell it. They have no axe to grind, no vanity to vent, no fad to air. Were it possible, they would prefer to remain unnamed, and be known only by their work--like the old cathedral builders, whose labors live but whose names are lost. Their solitary aim is to diffuse Masonic light and understanding, and thus to extend the influence and power of this the greatest order of men upon earth.
That is to say, they refuse to think of Masonry as a mere collection of social and faintly beneficent clubs, and they regard such a view of it as a pitiful apostasy from the faith of our fathers. They believe that Masonry is a form of the Divine life upon earth, an order of men initiated, sworn and trained to make righteousness, sweet reasonableness and the will of God prevail. They see in it latent powers and possibilities as yet unguessed, still less realized--a great liberalizing and humanizing fraternity, whose mission it is to soften prejudice, to refine thought and sympathy and service, and so help to prepare the race for a nobler manhood and a juster and more merciful social order. Hence their honorable ambition for its service, not only by interpreting it to the world at large, but by broadening and deepening the interest of Masons themselves in the faith, philosophy, history and practical aims of the fraternity. Surely such a labor may well appeal to men who would fain serve their fellows, and do a little good before they die.
Instead of being a private enterprise, this movement has the official sanction and blessing of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, and is in fact an outgrowth of the labors of that Grand body in training its young men to be intelligent and capable Masons. What the endorsement of such a plan by the Grand Lodge of Iowa means in the Masonic world, is at once evident, as witness these words by Sir Chetwode Crawley, of whose distinguished services to Masonic scholarship in England no student needs to be told:
"Let me begin by expressing my deep satisfaction that the Grand Lodge of Iowa has extended its sanction to Masonic Research by the appointment of so influential and capable a committee as that indicated in your letter. The adoption of such a plan by any Grand Lodge would have secured warm approval from all Brethren concerned for the welfare of the Craft, but there is a peculiar fitness in its adoption by the Grand Lodge of Iowa. For more than a generation, we have been accustomed to see the Grand Lodge of Iowa leading the van in the cultivation of the literature of Freemasonry."
Those words speak a high and sincere tribute, but it is richly deserved and abundantly justified by the record. Seventy-five years ago the Library of the Grand Lodge of Iowa--perhaps the greatest of its kind in the world--was founded by the late Theodore Sutton Parvin, whose long and busy life was devoted, with an industry only equalled by his great ability, to the cause of Masonic light and learning. Today that noble library stands as his monument and memorial, its doors open and its fabulous treasures accessible to all who seek further light in Masonry. Having so splendid a tradition and so inspiring an example, it is only natural that Iowa Masons should make their library the center of enthusiasm and activity for the education of the Craft, whereof detailed report may be read in the proceedings of their Grand Lodge. More recently, by force of necessity, new emphasis has been added to the study side of Masonry, and the reason is not far to seek.
Time was, and not so long ago, when it required courage for a man to be a Mason. Feeling against the Order was intense, often fanatical, and its innocent secrets were imagined by the ignorant or malicious to hide some dark design. How different it is now, when the Order is everywhere held in honor, and justly so, for the benignity of its spirit and the nobility of its principles. No wonder its temple gates are thronged with elect young men, eager to enter its ancient fellowship. But those young men must know what Masonry is, whence it came, what it cost in the sacrifice of brave men, and what it is trying to do in the world. Otherwise they cannot realize in what a benign tradition they stand, much less be able to give a reason for their faith. Every argument in favor of any kind of education has equal force in behalf of the education of young Masons in the truths of Masonry. So and only so can they ever hope to know what the ritual really means, and what high and haunting beauties lie hidden in the of all emblems.
Finding in this necessity an open door of opportunity, the Grand Lodge of Iowa set about, through its Committee on Masonic Research, to work out a well-planned practical program of method, testing it by facts and results. By natural logic, the fruits of that labor suggested a National movement toward the same end, which has now taken form in this Society. While it thus had its origin in Iowa, as the result of actual experience, it is no longer confined to Iowa, but invites the interest and aid of every Grand Lodge in the country, and of Masonic students of every rank and rite, offering them in this journal a medium for closer fellowship and a forum of frank, free and fraternal discussion of every possible aspect of Masonry.
There is no need that any one make argument to prove that such a movement as this is Masonic; it is in accord with the oldest traditions of the Order we turn to the "Old Charges"--the title deeds of Masonry, and a part of its earliest ritual--we learn that the Craft-lodges of the olden time were in fact schools, in which young men studied not only the technical laws of building, but the Seven Sciences and the history and symbolism of the Order as well. Apprentices were selected as much for their mental capacity as for bodily agility, and such as betrayed no aptitude for the intellectual aims of the Craft were allowed to go back to the Guilds and work as "rough masons." No young man, during his term as an Apprentice, was permitted to keep late hours, unless he did so in study, "which shall be deemed a sufficient excuse," as an old Charge relates.
Truth to tell, we have much yet to learn from the old Craft-masonry, and especially in the matter of training young Masons. For one thing, they recited a brief history of the Craft to the candidate at the time of his initiation as an Entered Apprentice, not leaving him bewildered, as we too often do, knowing nothing of a truly great and heroic history. No doubt the history so recited--as we have it in the "Old Charges" was sometimes fantastic and far from the fact. None the less, the principle was right, and had that wise custom been continued there would have been less occasion for Gould to say, what is only too true, that Masons know less about the history of their own order than the men of any other fraternity. Harking back to that old and wise custom, the Grand Lodge of Iowa has had a brief story and interpretation of Masonry written, a copy of which is to be given to each of its initiates on the night of his raising.
Masonic research, as we now use the phrase, may almost be said to have begun with Findel, albeit good work had been done before his day. Still, his "History of Masonry" was one of the very first books of the right kind, and it did much to put the Craft in the path of authentic learning. Others followed, both abroad and in this country--Pike, Fort, Mackey, Drummond, Parvin, to name but a few among us--and their work, which met with little response, was nobly prophetic. An example in point was the brief but brilliant career of the "American Review of Freemasonry," edited by Mackey. It began in 1858, ran two years, and died for lack of adequate support. In his valedictory, Dr. Mackey said:
"It was an experiment, commenced with a view of ascertaining how far a Masonic magazine of a very elevated character would be sustained by the craft in this country. For two years this experiment has been made, and it is plain that the "Quarterly" was in advance of the Masonic age. Doubtless it was supported better than such a work would have been twenty years ago, but not so well as a similar one will be ten years hence, for the literary character of the order is improving. The editor feels some satisfaction in believing that that work, during its brief existence, has done no little in hastening that improvement."
Truly that was a brave optimism, as befitted a pioneer, and its vision has been fulfilled by the facts. By the same token, we who live in a day made better by the labors of such men dare not be less courageous, lest we be found unworthy of our fathers. The men who wrote for the "Review" have now passed to where, beyond these voices, there is peace, but their work remains. One has only to open its yellow pages to read the articles of Pike on the Mysteries, and the essays of Mackey on Symbolism--which afterwards formed the chapters of his book in exposition of the "Symbolism of Freemasonry"--written in style which may well be a model of lucidity. Those men did not fail; they were sowers who did their work and trusted the far off harvest of years. Remembering their faith, their sacrifice, their high devotion, we would build on their foundations, linking the past with a greater tomorrow.
We inherit the past; we create the future. Since the days of the "Review" much has been done, especially by the great Research Lodges of England, and most of all by the Quatuor Coronati Lodge of London, to whose labors we owe an incalculable debt. As in religious scholarship, so in Masonry, the Higher Criticism has come and done its much needed work, testing documents, sifting evidence, unearthing buried treasure, and applying to Masonry the approved methods of historical study. Of necessity, the voluminous processes of this long investigation are known only to the diligent student who has had the time and taste to follow its revealing labors--just as in the field of Biblical Criticism the real results achieved are locked up, for the most part, in huge volumes read by only a few.
Here the National Research Society may render a vital service to the Order, not only by encouraging further original investigation, but also, and not one whit less important, by interpreting to the Craft at large the net results of Masonic scholarship. What Renan called "the grand curiosity" must never be allowed to sleep, and this Society will do all within its power to extend the area of knowledge, bringing new facts to light wherever they are to be found. The field is rich. The labor is fascinating. What has been done only reveals how much remains to be done, while it shows us how to go about it. At the same time, the humblest member of the craft, toiling in office and shop, at the forge and on the farm, is entitled to know the best that has been thought and the latest fact discovered by the greatest Masonic scholar. Therefore, this Society seeks to unite the work of the investigator with that of the interpreter, and to that end it proposes:
First, the publication of a journal devoted to the study and interpretation of the history, philosophy, symbolism and purposes of the various rites, orders and degrees of Freemasonry.
Second, the publication, from time to time, of books, pamphlets and lectures on Masonic subjects, and the collection, preservation and indexing of all material of value to Masonic students.
Third, the arrangement and publication of courses of Masonic study for lodges, or groups of students; the promotion and supervision, when it is desired, of meetings of Masons for Masonic study and discussion; and, ultimately, the foundation and maintenance of a bureau of Masonic lectures.
Fourth, the compilation of lists of names of Masonic students interested in different lines of Masonic study or activity, for the stimulation and guidance of Masonic intercourse--and, it may be added, for the aid of Masonic journals when special articles are desired.
Fifth, the collection and circulation of data bearing upon distinct Masonic activities, such as plans and specifications for different kinds of Masonic buildings; systems for financing of Masonic projects; the results of practical experience upon various phases of Masonic charity, and the like.
Sixth, the foundation and management of funds for the financial aid of Masonic students in special fields of Masonic research; in the form of a Fellowship, it may be, whereby a young man - say, of the Acacia Fraternity--trained for such studies in a university, may be set at work on some period or problem in Masonic history, and thus render a permanent service to the Craft. By endowing a Fellowship in the Society, a man of wealth, who has long had it in mind to do something for Masonry, can leave a living legacy which will go on doing good after he has passed away.
Having thus indicated in what ways the Society seeks to serve Freemasonry, it may not be amiss to point out how the Order can make the Society effective for the high end for which it was founded. First of all, every Mason who becomes a member of the Society adds, by so much, to its usefulness and power. The time has come when every Grand Lodge should have a Committee on Masonic Research--or Masonic Education, if they choose so to name it--and such committees. by co-operating with this Society, may have access to every resource at its command. Also, the various groups of Masonic students, of which there are many in different parts of the country, ought by all means to work with the Society, making use of its journal not only for mutual instruction and inspiration, but the better to share the results of their researches with all the Craft.
Such is the spirit and ideal of this Society, and if to realize it all at once is denied us, surely it means much to set it before us, working the while to make it come true. Manifestly, here is a practical program which, if worked out, will mean a new era in the history of Freemasonry, opening avenues of opportunity and enterprise to which no one can set a limit. It differs from other undertakings of a like kind chiefly in that, instead of being confined to a few, it seeks to enlist the whole fraternity, uniting scattered efforts in behalf of Masonic education into a magnificent movement for the advance of the Order which has no other purpose than the present and future upbuilding of humanity.
Finally, it only remains for ye editor to state, from his point of view, what the spirit and policy of "The Builder" should be. As its name indicates, this journal for the Masonic student--like the Society which it represents--is by its very genius constructive, and in no sense iconoclastic, its sole object being to build up, never to tear down. Anybody can destroy. Even a cow can trample a lily which the warm earth, the fertilizing sun, and the soft witchery of summer air have united to grow. Speaking for himself, the editor holds it to be self-evident that the only way to overthrow error and unreason is to tell the simple truth--tell it simply, vividly, without fear and without resting, in love of God and love of man. Other way to victory there is none, and there never will be.
Masonry is Friendship, and if its benign influence is to prevail upon earth, it must labor in a spirit of will toward all men, seeking not to destroy its enemies, but to win them to the light and dignity of the truth. Nothing is gained by denunciation. Everything is ruined by hate. Love is the one mighty Builder, and they toil in vain who build upon any other foundation. Our task is to let in the light, let in all the light, let the light all the way in, assured that when the light of Truth shines darkness will disappear--and with it, all the vile and slimy things that hide within its shadows. There is no might like the might of Truth, and once the temple of Masonry is made to stand in the sunlight where all men can see its beauty, it will command the homage of all who love their race.
Therefore, "The Builder" will be positive, but not dogmatic; open minded, but never indifferent; considerate of all, but absolutely uncompromising in respect of the principles of Freemasonry--seeking the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Critical it must be, since criticism, as Arnold defined it, is appreciation, estimate, "co-operation in the search for truth." Those who write for these pages may expect to have their theories put to the test of reason and fact in the open forum of debate, which is what the seeker after truth most desires. Let the discussion be frank, free and thorough; all that the editor asks is that it be fraternal in spirit, each one keeping an open mind and a kind heart toward all his comrades in the great quest.
For the rest, the editor asks pardon for having taken so much time and space, but it seemed appropriate to exhibit in some detail the designs of the Society, the faith in which it is founded, and the spirit in which it works. Hereafter, his duty will be much like that of a toastmaster--presiding over the feast, introducing the speakers, with occasional interludes of comment- his one desire being to encourage a spirit of fraternal fellowship and intellectual hospitality, of genial, joyous good will which, since the far off days of the old "Regius Poem," has been the reigning genius wherever Masons meet.
St. John the Divine and Notre Dame de Rheims.
BY MAY PRESTON SLOSSON.
I watch the patient masons in the sun Building a House to God upon the hill That overhangs the city; just begun The toil of years--the care--the loving skill.
Another minster lifted arch and spire By patient builders wrought in futile trust. The Iron Eagle dropt a plume of fire-- And all its beauty is a heap of dust ! -The Independent.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF MASONRY
Five Lectures Delivered under the Auspices of the Grand Master of Massachusetts, Masonic Temple, Boston
By Brother Roscoe Pound, Professor of Jurisprudence in Harvard University
PHILOSOPHERS are by no means agreed with respect to the scope and subject matter of philosophy. Nor are Masonic scholars at one with respect to the scope and purpose of Freemasonry. Hence one may not expect to define and delimit Masonic philosophy according to the easy method of Dickens' editor who wrote upon Chinese metaphysics by reading in the Encyclopedia upon China and upon metaphysics and combining his information. It is enough to say at the outset that in the sense in which philosophers of Masonry have used the term, philosophy is the science of fundamentals. Possibly it would be more correct to think of the philosophy of Masonry as organized Masonic knowledge--as a system of Masonic knowledge. But there has come to be a well-defined branch of Masonic learning which has to do with certain fundamental questions; and these fundamental questions may be called the problems of Masonic philosophy, since that branch of Masonic learning which treats of them has been called commonly the philosophy of Masonry. These fundamental questions are three:
1. What is the nature and purpose of Masonry as an institution? For what does it exist? What does it seek to do? Of course for the philosopher this involves also and chiefly the questions, what ought Masonry to be? For what ought it to exist? What ought it to seek as its end?
2. What is- and this involves what should be-the relation of Masonry to other human institutions, especially to those directed toward similar ends? What is its place in a rational scheme of human activities?
3. What are the fundamental principles by which Masonry is governed in attaining the end it seeks? This again, to the philosopher, involves the question what those principles ought to be.
Four eminent Masonic scholars have essayed to answer these questions and in so doing have given us four systems of Masonic philosophy, namely, William Preston, Karl Christian Friedrich Krause, George Oliver and Albert Pike. Of these four systems of Masonic philosophy, two, if I may put it so, are intellectual systems. They appeal to and are based upon reason only. These two are the system of Preston and that of Krause. The other two are, if I may put it that way, spiritual systems. They do not flow from the rationalism of the eighteenth century but spring instead from a reaction toward the mystic ideas of the hermetic philosophers in the seventeenth century. As I shall try to show here-after, this is characteristic of each, though much more marked in one.
Summarily, then, we have four systems of Masonic philosophy. Two are intellectual systems: First that of Preston, whose key word is Knowledge; second, that of Krause, whose key word is Morals. Two are spiritual systems: First that of Oliver, whose key word is Tradition; and second, that of Pike, whose key word is Symbolism.
Comparing the two intellectual systems of Masonic philosophy, the intrinsic importance of Preston's is much less than that of Krause's. Krause's philosophy of Masonry has a very high value in and of itself. On the other hand the chief interest in Preston's philosophy of Masonry, apart from his historical position among Masonic philosophers, is to be found in the circumstance that his philosophy is the philosophy of our American lectures and hence is the only one with which the average American Mason acquires any familiarity.
Preston was not, like Krause, a man in advance of his time who taught his own time and the future. He was thoroughly a child of his time. Hence to understand his writings we must know the man and the time. Accordingly I shall divide this discourse into three parts: (1) The man, (2) the time, (3) Preston's philosophy of Masonry as a product of the two.
1. First, then, the man. William Preston was born at Edinburgh on August 7,1742. His father was a writer to the signet or solicitor-- the lower branch of the legal profession--and seems to have been a man of some education and ability. At any rate he sent William to the high school at Edinburgh, the caliber of which in those days may be judged from the circumstance that the boy entered it at six- -though he was thought very precocious. At school he made some progress in Latin and even began Greek. But all this was at an early age. His father died while William was a mere boy and he was taken out of school, apparently before he was twelve years old. His father had left him to the care of Thomas Ruddiman, a well-known linguist and he became the latter's clerk. Later Ruddiman apprenticed William to his brother who was a printer, so that Preston learned the printer's trade as a boy of fourteen or fifteen. On the death of his patron (apparently having nothing by inheritance from his father) Preston went into the printing shop as an apprentice and worked there as a journeyman until 1762. In that year, with the consent of the master to whom he had been apprenticed, he went to London. He was only eighteen years old, but carried a letter to the king's printer, and so found employment at once. He remained in the employ of the latter during substantially the whole remaining period of his life.
Preston's abilities showed themselves in the printing shop from the beginning. He not merely set up the matter at which he worked but he contrived in some way to read it and to think about it. From setting up the great variety of matter which came to the king's printer he acquired a notable literary style and became known to the authors whose books and writings he helped to set up as a judge of style and as a critic. Accordingly he was made proof reader and corrector for the press and worked as such during the greater part of his career. He did work of this sort on the writings of Gibbon, Hume, Robertson and authors of that rank, and presentation copies of the works of these authors, which were found among Preston's effects at his death, attest the value which they put upon the labors of the printer.
Preston had no more than come of age when he was made a Mason in a lodge of Scotchmen in London. This lodge had attempted to get a warrant from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, but that body very properly refused to invade London, and the Scotch petitioners turned to the Grand Lodge of Ancients, by whom they were chartered. Thus Preston was made in the system of his great rival, Dermott, just as the latter was at first affiliated with a regular or modern lodge. According to the English usage, which permits simultaneous membership in several lodges, Preston presently became a member of a lodge subordinate to the older Grand Lodge. Something here converted him, and he persuaded the lodge in which he had been raised to secede from the Ancients and to be reconstituted by the so-called Moderns. Thus he cast his lot definitely with the latter and soon became their most redoubtal champion. Be it remembered that the Preston who did all this was a young man of twenty-three and a journeyman printer.
At the age of twenty-five he became master of the newly constituted lodge, and as such conceived it his duty to make a thorough study of the Masonic institution. His own words are worth quoting:
"When I first had the honor to be elected master of a lodge, I thought it proper to inform myself fully of the general rules of the society, that I might be able to fulfill my own duty and officially enforce obedience in others. The methods which I adopted with this view excited in some of superficial knowledge an absolute dislike of what they considered as innovations, and in others, who were better informed, a jealousy of preeminence which the principles of Masonry ought have checked. Notwithstanding these discouragements, however, I persevered in my intention."
Indeed one cannot wonder that the pretenses of this journeyman printer of twenty-five were scouted by older Masons. But for the present Preston had to contend with nothing more than shakings of the head. Unlike the scholarly, philosophical, imperturbable, academic Krause, Preston was a fighter. Probably his confident dogmatism, which shows itself throughout his lectures, his aggressiveness and his ambition made more enemies than the supposed innovations involved in his Masonic research. Moreover we must not forget that he had to overcome three very serious obstacles namely, dependence for his daily bread upon a trade at which he worked twelve hours a day, youth, and recent connection with the fraternity. That Preston was not persecuted at this stage of his career and that he succeeded in taking the lead as he did is a complete testimony to his abilities.
Preston had three great qualifications for the work he undertook: (1) Indefatigable diligence, whereby he found time and means to read everything that bore on Masonry after twelve hours of work at his trade daily, six days in the week; (2) a marvelous memory, which no detail of his reading ever escaped; and (3) a great power of making friends and of enlisting their enthusiastic co-operation. He utilized this last resource abundantly, corresponding diligently all with well-informed Masons abroad and taking advantage of every opportunity to interview Masons at home. The results of this communication with all the prominent Masons of his time are to be seen in his lectures.
It was a bold but most timely step when this youthful master of a new lodge determined to rewrite or rather to write the lectures of Craft Masonry. The old charges had been read to the initiate originally, and from this there had grown up a practice of orally expounding their contents and commenting upon the important points. To turn this into a system of fixed lectures and give them a definite place in the ritual was a much-needed step in the development of the work. But it was so distinctly a step that the ease with which it was achieved is quite as striking as the result itself.
When Preston began the composition of his lectures, he organized a sort of club, composed of his friends, for the purpose of listening to him and criticising him. This club was wont to meet twice a week in order to pass on, criticise and learn the lecture as Preston conceived it. Finally in 1772, after seven years, he interested the grand lodge officers in his work and delivered an oration, which appears in the first edition of his Illustrations of Masonry, before a meeting of eminent Masons including the principal grand officers. After delivery of the oration, he expounded his system to the meeting. His hearers approved the lectures, and, though official sanction was not given immediately, the result was to give them a standing which insured their ultimate success. His disciples began now to go about from lodge to lodge delivering his lectures and to come back to the weekly meetings with criticisms and suggestions. Thus by 1774 his system was complete. He then instituted a regular school of instruction, which obtained the sanction of the Grand Lodge and thus diffused his lectures throughout England. This made him the most prominent Mason of the time, so that he was elected to the famous Lodge of Antiquity, one of the four old lodges of 1717, and the one which claimed Sir Christopher Wren for a past master. He was soon elected master of this lodge and continued such for many years, giving the lodge a pre-eminent place in English Masonry which it has kept ever since.
Preston's Masonic career, however, was not one of unbroken triumph. In 1779 his views as to Masonic history and Masonic jurisprudence brought him into conflict with the Grand Lodge. It is hard to get at the exact facts in the mass of controversial writing which this dispute brought forth. Fairly stated, they seem to have been about as follows:
The Grand Lodge had a rule against lodges going in public processions. The Lodge of Antiquity determined on St. John's Day, 1777, to go in a body to St. Dunstan's church, a few steps only from the lodge room. Some of the members protested against this as being in conflict with the rule of the Grand Lodge, and in consequence only ten attended. These ten clothed themselves in the vestry of the church, sat in the same pew during the service and sermon, and then walked across the street to the lodge room in their gloves and aprons. This action gave rise to a debate in the lodge at its next meeting, and in the debate Preston expressed the opinion that the Lodge of Antiquity, which was older than the Grand Lodge and had participated in its formation, had certain inherent privileges, and that it had never lost its right to go in procession as it had done in 1694 before there was any Grand Lodge. Thus far the controversy may remind us of the recent differences between Bro. Pitts and the Grand Lodge authorities in Michigan. But the authority of Grand Lodges was too recent at that time to make it expedient to overlook such doctrine when announced by the first Masonic scholar of the day. Hence, for maintaining this opinion, Preston was expelled by the Grand Lodge, and in consequence the Lodge of Antiquity severed its connection with the Grand Lodge of Moderns and entered into relations with the revived Grand Lodge at York. The breach was not healed till 1787.
Upon settlement of the controversy with the Grand Lodge of Moderns, Preston, restored to all his honors and dignities, at once resumed his Masonic activities. Among other things, he organized a society of Masonic scholars, the first of its kind. It was known as the Order of the Harodim and included the most distinguished Masons of the time. Preston taught his lectures in this society, and through it they came to America, where they are the foundation of our Craft lectures. Unhappily at the Union in England in 1813 his lectures were displaced by those of Hemming, which critics concur in pronouncing much inferior. But Preston was ill at the time and seems to have taken no part whatever in the negotiations that led to the Union nor in the Union itself. He died in 1818, at the age of 76, after a lingering illness. A diligent and frugal life had enabled him to lay by some money and he was able to leave 800 pounds for Masonic uses, 500 pounds to the Freemason's charity for orphans--for which, left an orphan himself before the age of twelve, he had a natural sympathy-- and 300 pounds to endow the so-called Prestonian lecture--an annual lecture in Preston's words verbatim by a lecturer appointed by the Grand Lodge. This lecture is still kept up and serves to remind us that Preston was the first to insist on the minute verbal accuracy which is now a feature of our lectures. It should be noted also that in addition to his lectures, Preston's book, Illustrations of Masonry, has had great influence. It went through some twenty editions in England, four or five in America, and two in Germany.
So much for the man.
Now as to the time.
Three striking characteristics of the first three quarters of the eighteenth century in England are of importance for an understanding of Preston's philosophy of Masonry: (1) It was a period of mental quiescence; (2) both in England and elsewhere it was a period of formal over-refinement; (3) it was the so-called age of reason, when the intellect was taken to be self-sufficient and men were sure that knowledge was a panacea.
1. In contrast with the seventeenth century, the eighteenth century was a period of quiescence. Society had ceased to be in a state of furious ebullition, nor was there a conflict of manifestly irreconcilable ideas as in the time just gone by. On the surface there was harmony. True, as the events of the end of the century showed, it was a harmony of compromise rather than of reconciliation--a truce, not a peace. But men ceased for a time to quarrel over fundamentals and turned their attention to details and to form. A common theological philosophy was accepted by men who denounced each other heartily for comparatively trivial differences of opinion. In politics, Whig and Tory had become little more than names, and both parties agreed to accept, with little modification, the body of doctrine afterwards known as the principles of the English Revolution. Political ideas were fixed. Men conceived of a social compact from which every detail of social and political rights and duties might be deduced by abstract reasoning and believed that it was possible in this way to work out a model code for the legislator, a touchstone of sound law for the judge and an infallible guide to private conduct for the individual. In literature and in art there was a like acquiescence in accepted canons. A certain supposed classical style was assumed to be the final and the only permissible mode of expression. In other words acquiescence was the dominant tendency and finality was the dominant idea. For example, Blackstone, a true representative of the century, thought complacently of the legal system of his time, with its heavy load of archaisms, almost ripe for the legislative reform movement of the next generation, as substantially perfect. Nothing, so he thought, was left for the completion of five hundred years of legal development but to patch up a few trivial details. In the same spirit of finality the framers of our bills of rights undertook to lay out legal and political charts for all time. Indeed the absolute legal philosophy of our text books which has made so much trouble for the social reformers of yesterday and of today, speaks from the eighteenth century. In this spirit of finality, with this same confidence that his time had the key to reason and could pronounce once for all for every time, for every place and for every people, Preston framed the dogmatic discourses which we are content to take as the lectures of Freemasonry.
2. For the modern world, the eighteenth century was par excellence the period of formalism. It was the period of formal over-refinement in every department of human activity. It was the age of formal verse and heroic diction, of a classical school in art which lost sight of the spirit in reproducing the forms of antiquity, of elaborate and involved court etiquette, of formal diplomacy, of the Red Tape and Circumlocution Office in every portion of administration, of formal military tactics in which efficiency in the field yielded to the exigencies of parade and soldiers went into the field dressed for the ball room. Our insistence upon letter perfect, phonographic reproduction of the ritual comes from this period, and Preston fastened that idea upon our lectures, perhaps for all time.
3. The third circumstance, that the eighteenth century was the era of purely intellectualist philosophy naturally determined Preston's philosophy of Masonry. At that time reason was the central idea of all philosophical thought. Knowledge was regarded as the universal solvent. Hence when Preston found in his old lectures that among other things Masonry was a body of knowledge and discovered in the old charges a history of knowledge and of its transmission from antiquity, it was inevitable that he make knowledge the central point of his system. How thoroughly he did this is apparent today in our American Fellowcraft lecture, which, with all the abridgments to which it has been subjected, is still essentially Prestonian. Time does not suffice to read Preston in his original rhetorical prolixity. But a few examples from Webb's version, which at these points is only an abridgment, will serve to make the point. The quotations are from a Webb monitor, but have been compared in each case with an authentic version of Preston.
"The Globes are two artificial spherical bodies, on the convex surface of which are represented the countries, seas, and various parts of the earth, the face of the heavens, the planetary revolutions, and other particulars.
"The sphere, with the parts of the earth delineated on its surface, is called the Terrestrial Globe; and that with the constellations, and other heavenly bodies, the Celestial Globe.
"The principal use of the Globes, besides serving as maps to distinguish the outward parts of the earth, and the situation of the fixed stars, is to illustrate and explain the phenomena arising from the annual revolution and the diurnal rotation of the earth around its own axis. They are the noblest instruments for improving the mind, and giving it the most distinct idea of any problem or proposition, as well as enabling it to solve the same."
It has often been pointed out that these globe on the pillars are pure anachronisms. They are due to Preston's desire to make the Masonic lectures teach astronomy, which just then was the dominant science.
Note particularly the purpose, as the lecture sets it forth expressly: "for improving the mind and for giving it the most distinct idea of any problem or proposition as well as enabling it to solve the same."
In other words, these globes are not symbolic, they are not designed for moral improvement. They rest upon the pillars, grotesquely out of place, simply and solely to teach the lodge the elements of geography and astronomy.
We must remember that Preston, who worked twelve hours a day setting type or reading proof, would look on this very differently from the Mason of today. What are commonplaces of science now were by no means general property then. To him the teaching of the globes was a perfectly serious matter.
Turn to the solemn disquisition on architecture in our Fellowcraft lecture. As we give it, it is unadulterated Preston, but happily it is often much abridged. You know how it runs, how it describes each order in detail, gives the proportions, tells what was the model, appends an artistic critique, and sets forth the legend of the invention of the Corinthian order by Callimachus. The foundation for all this is in the old charges. But in Preston's hands it has become simply a treatise on architecture. The Mason who listened to it repeatedly would become a learned man. He would know what an educated man ought to know about the orders of architecture.
In the same way he gives us an abridgment of Euclid:
"Geometry treats of the powers and properties of magnitudes in general, where length, breadth and thickness are considered, from a point to a line, from a line to a superficies, and from a superficies to a solid. A point is a dimensionless figure, or an indivisible part of space. A line is a point continued, and a figure of one capacity, namely, length. A superficies is a figure of two dimensions, namely, length and breadth. A solid is a figure of three dimensions, namely, length, breadth and thickness."
But enough of this. You see the design. By making the lectures epitomes of all the great branches of learning, the Masonic Lodge may be made a school in which all men, before the days of public schools and wide-open universities, might acquire knowledge, by which alone they could achieve all things. If all men had knowledge, so Preston thought, all human, all social problems would be solved. With knowledge on which to proceed deductively, human reason would obviate the need of government and of force and an era of perfection would be at hand. But those were the days of endowed schools which were not for the many. The priceless solvent, knowledge, was out of reach of the common run of men who most needed it. Hence to Preston, first and above all else the Masonic order existed to propagate and diffuse knowledge. To this end, therefore, he seized upon the opportunity afforded by the lectures and sought by means of them to develop in an intelligent whole all the knowledge of his day.
Now that knowledge has become too vast to be comprised in any one scheme and too protean to be formulated as to any of its details even for the brief life of a modern text, the defects of such a scheme are obvious enough. That this was Preston's conception, may be shown abundantly from his lectures. For instance:
"Smelling is that sense by which we distinguish odors, the various kinds of which convey different opinions to the mind. Animal and vegetable bodies, and, indeed, most other bodies, while exposed to the air, continually send forth effluvia of vast subtilty, as well in the state of life and growth, as in the state of fermentation and putrefaction. These effluvia, being drawn into the nostrils along with the air, are the means by which all bodies are smelled."
This bit of eighteenth-century physics, which makes us smile today, is still gravely recited in many of our lodges as if it had some real or some symbolic importance. It means simply that Preston was endeavoring to write a primer of physiology and of physics.
He states his theory expressly in these words:
"On the mind all our knowledge must depend; what, therefore, can be a more proper subject for the investigation of Masons ? By anatomical dissection and observation we become acquainted with the body; but it is by the anatomy of the mind alone we discover its powers and principles."
That is: All knowledge depends upon the mind. Hence the Mason should study the mind as the instrument of acquiring knowledge, the one thing needful.
Today this seems a narrow and inadequate conception. But the basis of such a philosophy of Masonry is perfectly clear if we remember the man and the time. We must think of these lectures as the work of a printer, the son of an educated father, but taken from school before he was twelve and condemned to pick up what he could from the manuscripts he set up in the shop or by tireless labor at night after a full day's work. We must think of them as the work of a laborer, chiefly self-educated, associated with the great literati of the time whom he came to know through preparing their manuscripts for the press and reading their proofs, and so filled with their enthusiasm for enlightenment in what men thought the age of reason. We must think of them as the work of one imbued with the cardinal notions of the time--intellectualism, the all-sufficiency of reason, the absolute need of knowledge as the basis on which reason proceeds, and finality.
How, then, does Preston answer the three problems of Masonic philosophy ?
1. For what does Masonry exist? What is the end and purpose of the order ? Preston would answer: To diffuse light, that is, to spread knowledge among men. This, he might say, is the proximate end. He might agree with Krause that the ultimate purpose is to perfect men--to make them better, wiser and consequently happier. But the means of achieving this perfection, he would say, is general diffusion of knowledge. Hence, he would say, above all things Masonry exists to promote knowledge; the Mason ought first of all to cultivate his mind, he ought to study the liberal arts and sciences; he ought to become a learned man.
2. What is the relation of Masonry to other human activities ? Preston does not answer this question directly anywhere in his writings. But we may gather that he would have said something like this: The state seeks to make men better and happier by preserving order. The church seeks this end by cultivating the moral person and by holding in the background supernatural sanctions. Masonry endeavors to make men better and happier by teaching them and by diffusing knowledge among them. This, bear in mind, was before education of the masses had become a function of the state.
3. How does Masonry seek to achieve its purposes? What are the principles by which it is governed in attaining its end ?
Preston answers that both by symbols and by lectures the Mason is (first) admonished to study and to acquire learning and (second) actually taught a complete system of organized knowledge. We have his own words for both of these ideas. As to the first, in his system both lectures and charges reiterate it. For example: "The study of the liberal arts, that valuable branch of education which tends so effectually to polish and adorn the mind is earnestly recommended to your consideration." Again, notice how he dwells upon the advantages of each art as he expounds it:
"Grammar teaches the proper arrangement of words according to the idiom or dialect of any particular people, and that excellency of pronunciation which enables us to speak or write a language with accuracy, agreeably to reason and correct usage. Rhetoric teaches us to speak copiously and fluently on any subject, not merely with propriety alone, but with all the advantages of force and elegance, wisely contriving to captivate the hearer by strength of argument and beauty of expression, whether it be to entreat and exhort, to admonish or applaud."
As to the second proposition, one example will suffice:
"Tools and implements of architecture are selected by the fraternity to imprint on the memory wise and serious truths."
In other words the purpose even of the symbols is to teach wise and serious truths. The word serious here is significant. It is palpably a hit at those of his brethren who were inclined to be mystics and to dabble in what Preston regarded as the empty jargon of the hermetic philosophers.
Finally, to show his estimate of what he was doing and hence what, in his view, Masonic lectures should be, he says himself of his Fellowcraft lecture: "This lecture contains a regular system of science [note that science then meant knowledge] demonstrated on the clearest principles and established on the firmest foundation."
One need not say that we cannot accept the Prestonian philosophy of Masonry as sufficient for the Masons of today. Much less can we accept the details or even the general framework of his ambitious scheme to expound all knowledge and set forth a complete outline of a liberal education in three lectures. We need not wonder that Masonic philosophy has made so little headway in Anglo-American Masonry when we reflect that this is what we have been brought up on and that it is all that most Masons ever hear of. It comes with an official sanction that seems to preclude inquiry, and we forget the purpose of it in its obsolete details. But I suspect we do Preston a great injustice in thus preserving the literal terms of the lectures at the expense of their fundamental idea. In his day they did teach-- today they do not. Suppose today a man of Preston's tireless diligence attempted a new set of lectures which should unify knowledge and present its essentials so that the ordinary man could comprehend them. To use Preston's words, suppose lectures were written, as a result of seven years of labor, and the co-operation of a society of critics, which set forth a regular system of modern knowledge demonstrated on the clearest principles and established on the firmest foundation. Suppose, if you will, that this were confined simply to knowledge of Masonry. Would not Preston's real idea (in an age of public schools) be more truly carried than by our present lip service, and would not his central notion of the lodge as a center of light vindicate itself by its results?
Let me give two examples. In Preston's day, there was a general need, from which Preston had suffered, of popular education--of providing the means whereby the common man could acquire knowledge in general. Today there is no less general need of a special kind of knowledge. Society is divided sharply into classes that understand each other none too well and hence are getting wholly out of sympathy. What nobler Masonic lecture could there be than one which took up the fundamenta of social science and undertook to spread a sound knowledge of it among all Masons ? Suppose such a lecture was composed, as Preston's lectures were, was tried on by delivery in lodge after lodge, as his were, and after criticism and recasting as a result of years of labor, was taught to all our masters. Would not our lodges diffuse a real light in the community and take a great step forward in their work of making for human perfection?
Again, in spite of what is happening for the moment upon the Continent, this is an era of universality and internationality. The thinking world is tending strongly to insist upon breaking over narrow local boundaries and upon looking at things from a world-wide point of view. Art, science, economics, labor and fraternal organizations, and even sport are tending to become international. The growing frequency of international congresses and conferences upon all manner of subjects emphasizes this breaking of local political bonds. The sociological movement, the world over, is causing men to take a broader and more humane view, is causing them to think more of society and hence more of the world-society, is causing them to focus their vision less upon the individual, and hence less upon the individual locality.
In this world-wide movement toward universality Masons ought to take the lead. But how much does the busy Mason know, much less think, of the movement for internationality or even the pacificist movement which has been going forward all about him ? Yet every Mason ought to know these things and ought to take them to heart. Every lodge ought to be a center of light from which men go forth filled with new ideas of social justice, cosmopolitan justice and internationality.
Preston of course was wrong--knowledge is not the sole end of Masonry. But in another way Preston was right. Knowledge is one end--at least one proximate end--and it is not the least of those by which human perfection shall be attained. Preston's mistakes were the mistakes of his century--the mistake of faith in the finality of what was known to that era, and the mistake of regarding correct formal presentation as the one sound method of instruction. But what shall be said of the greater mistake we make today, when we go on reciting his lectures--shorn and abridged till they mean nothing to the hearer--and gravely presenting them as a system of Masonic knowledge ? Bear in mind, he thought of them as presenting a general scheme of knowledge, not as a system of purely Masonic information. If we were governed by his spirit, understood the root idea of his philosophy and had but half his zeal and diligence, surely we could make our lectures and through them our lodges a real force in society. Here indeed, we should encounter the precisians and formalists of whom lodges have always been full, and should be charged with innovation. But Preston was called an innovator. And he was one in the sense that he put new lectures in the place of the old reading of the Gothic constitutions. Preston encountered the same precisians and the same formalists and wrote our lectures in their despite. I hate to think that all initiative is gone from our order and that no new Preston will arise to take up his conception of Knowledge as an end of the fraternity and present to the Masons of today the knowledge which they ought to possess.
By the author of "Poems of The Temple."
When I was a king and a mason--
A mason proved and skilled,
I cleared me ground for a palace
Such as a king should build.
I decreed and dug down to my levels;
Presently, under the silt,
I came on the wreck of a palace
Such as a king had built. -Kipling.
A part of a builder's profession
Is digging in ruins of old,
And his findings, in rapid succession,
Equip him with merits untold,
For the builder who never uncovers
The work of the centuries past
Is the builder who never discovers
Construction most certain to last.
Far back before history's pages
Did ever their stories relate
Or the sayings of eminent sages
Their quota of learning donate,
We find over lands without number
Where human achievements were felt,
Their ruins profusely encumber
The sites where the race had long dwelt.
And the study of long hidden symbols
Induces the mind to concede
That their mystical system resembles
Our own very closely indeed.
And the builders of old, laid foundations
Of ethical value so rare
That their teaching of mystic creations
With Masonry closely compare.
And we find them in cities long buried
When civilization's decay
O'er the work of the builder fast hurried
With ruthless demolishing sway.
In the temples of Indian ages
And far on the banks of the Nile
Where the work and the study of sages
Their wonderful stories compile.
And remote from all eastern persuasions
Of all known connection devoid,
In old Mexico's ancient creations
They find the same symbols employed.
'Tis the soul of the Master revolving
All lands in the universe through,
With His children of nature evolving
From light of the old to the new.
--Lewis A. McConnell.
THE ACACIA FRATERNITY AND MASONIC RESEARCH
BY FRANCIS W. SHEPARDSON, FORMER GRAND PRESIDENT.
THE Acacia Fraternity is a society of college men who are Master Masons. It is not a Masonic body in the ordinary acceptation of that expression. It is not a side degree. It claims no antiquity. It seeks no recognition to which its inherent worth does not entitle it. It is exactly like any one of the thirty odd Greek letter fraternities which flourish in American colleges, except for the fundamental requirement for membership that one who is considered must be a member in good standing in some regularly authorized lodge of Master Masons. Membership comes from within by invitation. Candidates do not petition. Those students who have the good fortune to be offered membership pride themselves on the triple selection thus indicated, the selection from the great mass of high school students for the privilege of college education, the selection from the citizenship of their home communities for the rights and benefits of Masonry, and the selection for the social and intellectual joys of Acacia fraternity life.
The fraternity was founded at the University of Michigan, being incorporated on May 12, 1904. It was the outgrowth of a Masonic club at the University which had existed since 1894. It now has twenty-four Chapters, well distributed over the country. They are necessarily in the larger institutions where the number of Master Masons in attendance furnishes sufficient material for energetic existence. Most of these Chapters maintain Chapter houses in which the members make their home, several of these houses being owned by the local organization, but the majority being rented. The fraternity has an excellent standing among similar college societies. It is a recognized member of the national Inter-Fraternity Conference. It shares generally the privileges of local conferences of representatives of like organizations. During its ten years of life it has won much approval from college authorities because of its high average ranking in scholarship. As a member must be at least twenty-one years of age, and as, in many places, those who wear its badge are advanced students, there is a realization of the value of scholarship and right conduct which the younger members of other societies sometimes lack. The result has been that Acacia is highly regarded by the college administration wherever it has a Chapter.
From the beginning much stress has been laid upon the social life in the Chapter home. Much has been done to cement college friendships, stronger than the ordinary, perhaps, because of the Masonic tie. The Chapter houses breathe the atmosphere of sentimental affection. Group pictures of the members are found on the walls. Pennants tell of the other institutions where the fraternity has its branches. Individual portraits proclaim some one of exceptional interest or influence. Through Acacia, then, many a college Mason has had his years of study made happier because of close fraternal ties. After ten years of life Acacia is marked by many of the sentimental characteristics which have made college fraternity Chapters powerful organizations.
But there has never been a time when through the Acacia fraternity membership there was not a strong desire to be of some service to the mother institution out of which it sprung. A substantial periodical, the Journal of Acacia, has been a helpful influence. It has published many articles on Masonic history and philosophy for the enlightenment and instruction of members. It has printed bibliographies and suggestions for Masonic study. It has urged members constantly to maintain their lively interest in the lodges, notwithstanding the immediate and pressing demands of the class-room and tine allurements of library and laboratory. Two or three definite results of such a sustained campaign of Masonic education are apparent.
There have been developed some splendid degree teams. The Acacia members comprising these have sought always to be letter perfect in the rendition of the ritual. In a good many lodges their aid in degree work has been received with enthusiastic praise. They have encouraged mass visitation of neighboring lodges and so the college boys have been brought into closer relationship with local craftsmen and have had their circle of acquaintanceship much enlarged Naturally they have been careful watchers of the ritualistic work and have profited by the errors made by less eager officers. If Acacia has done nothing more, it has greatly stimulated the Masonic interest of its own membership.
A natural sequence of this feature of the fraternity's activity has been that Acacians generally have ranged themselves on the side of those reformers who desire to remove from the accepted work those errors in grammar and faulty constructions in English which always grate upon the ears of one who has had the benefit of a training of the schools. They have attempted nothing iconoclastic, but in quiet ways have given their influence in favor of revisions certain to bring improvement to a time-honored ritual. And in seeking for the reasons for familiar shortcomings in the accepted work, they have been led into the attractive field of Masonic research.
A powerful influence in this direction has been exerted by Professor Roscoe Pound of Harvard Law School. He became a member of Acacia at the University of Nebraska. For a time he was a member of the faculty of law in the University of Chicago. He was one of the first to recognize the possibilities for Masonrv in this organization of eager and enthusiastic college men. He has devoted much time and attention to a series of lectures on Masonic history and philosophy which he has given freely, with great sacrifice of valuable hours, before Acacia Chapters and college Masonic clubs. His marvelous capacity for research and his exceptional ability in instruction has made of each of these lectures a wonderful stimulus to his hearers. He has planted the desire for Masonic research in many a student. He has guided the first readings of those who sought from him the way to the truth. His earnest pupils are found in more than one Acacia Chapter.
In a narrower field similar work has been done by professors Chester N. Gould and Charles Chandler of the University of Chicago. Teachers in an institution which maintains a large summer session they have exerted a stimulating influence upon college Masons from many parts of the country. Each is a keen student and lover of deep research and they have given to the fraternity the full benefit of their rich resources of mind obtained by thorough investigation of the hidden things of Masonry.
The Acacians in other parts of the country nave had the advantage of like encouragement from Masons of eminence who have been elected to honorary membership, or who, as faculty members, have been impressed with the opportunity of lecturing to such exceptional audiences as are furnished by college men, to whom the habit of research becomes almost a second nature. Without attempting to discriminate among members of this type, mention may be made especially perhaps of the late Lewis Cass Goodrich of Michigan, Joseph R. Wilson of Pennsylvania, William Homan of New York, and A. K. Wilson of Kansas. These mature men, well known Masonic workers, gave Acacia an impetus in the direction of Masonic research whose full effect cannot be realized for years to come. Perhaps it is enough to say that their helpful influence has been a powerful force in the first decade of the history of this college fraternity.
I look to Acacia for some splendid Masonic workers in the higher ranks of the great mother order. I expect to see the history and philosophy of Masonry made far more familiar in the lodges because of the inspiration given by those who have shared the privileges of Acacia Chapter life. The fraternity is young as yet. It is now in its eleventh year. It has just elected as its Grand President an enthusiastic Mason, Mr. George E. Frazer, of the administrative staff of the University Illinois. He is deeply interested in Masonic research. He has done much to stimulate support of the movement represented by this journal. I firmly believe that the Masonic order is to be greatly helped by this fraternity, not only in the quickening of the life of local lodges throughout the United States, but, notably, in the years to come, through the development of men of fine educational training who will find delight in delving into the storied past that they may interpret to others the beauties and the strength of the Masonic institution.
BY FRANK HIGGINS, F.R.N.S., PRESIDENT OF THE MAGIAN SOCIETY, ETC.
WITH reference to all those things which come within the various provinces of the seven liberal arts and sciences, Masonry occupies an extremely anomalous position. The theory of the Craft we all know. From one degree to another, we have paraded before us, assumptions of all knowledge, human and Divine. We are supposed to be the custodians of a mysterious arcana descended to us from remote ages, which must be hedged about with safeguards and pledges, which could not be more exacting, if they constituted a system of defense for the fabled treasures of Golconda, actually materialized.
Yet there is not a Masonic student, among those hold enough to proclaim that there is at least a substratum of truth at the bottom of these pretensions, who does not find himself continually in the minority, among a vast army of brethren, who refuse to contemplate anything in the ritual of Masonry, transcending an agreeable series of moral platitudes, collated within a comparatively modern period for the unmixed purpose of "making Masons."
The degrees of the Craft are, in this respect, very much like those honorary titles conferred by Universities upon benefactors, who, had they actually elected to shine in the domains of Law, Arts, Letters or Sciences, suggested by their alphabetical dignities, instead of Coal, Iron or Commerce would never have figured in the history of pedagogics as patrons of learning.
In consideration of the hugely preponderating part played by at least the presumption of Science in its construction, one might imagine that Masonry would have long since specially attracted to itself an unusual quota of scientific men, men of the schools, competent through plediliction and training to give extension to the manifold hints of our ritual. But with notable exceptions, this has not proven the case.
The chief among Masonic students, whose reputations for more or less scientific research into the latent meanings of Masonic allusions, have become classic in the Craft, have been gifted amateurs, who have no reputation outside of our exclusive ranks. Such science as has been brought to the support of Masonry has been purely accidental. Owing to the nature of our institution, we are unable to turn for guidance to the very men who could most and best enlighten us. We may take no, however learned, scientist into Masonic confidence and invite him to diagnose a landmark, having a pointed scientific application, for the benefit of the craft, unless he is a member thereof and the conflict between Science and Religion has, since the organization of the modern speculative craft, given rise to a special reason which has closed its doors to many of the very men who could have been most depended on to enlighten it.
For these and other reasons Masonic symbolism has remained for several centuries in the hands of brethren who, however lovable and amiable their personal characters, or however they have adorned the Craft by their personal virtues, have been the last men in the world to perceive either its origin or its tendencies on the purely intellectual plane. The progress of true Masonic enlightenment has therefore been slower than that of any branch of human contemplation open to examination, dissection and suggestion from unbiased scholars.
Brilliant as have been the many scholarly Protestant Divines who have given lustre to Masonry by their high qualities as men and Masons, the majority of these have been content to regard the numerous scriptural allusions and parallels introduced to attention, from the literal and unquestioning attitude of sectarian orthodoxy. Thus it has remained for a future age to reveal many things, which might have been discovered and brought to light years ago, if there had been systematic search. The true story of humanity's struggle toward the light during the past twenty centuries of the Christian era has yet to be written. It involves elements which numerous historians have approached closely enough, but which they have never been able to grasp, because of fundamental error in view point.
For nigh upon two thousand years, the true nature and meanings of the ancient mysteries upon which modern Masonry has erected her symbolic Temple, have remained in the grasp and custody of an institution, equally founded upon them, which has employed every artifice of sophistry to conceal and every instrument of physical repression to guard from the assaults of the curious. The history of this conflict is the history of "Heresy," concerning which we will sum the whole in one all embracing statement.
The entire totality of the various historical heresies which are recorded as having been subdued at one and another age of the Church, have been simply outcroppings of one and the same original gnosis, under different names, until the translations of the Bible into vulgar tongues, produced a new variety of schism, shifting the controversial premises from the original ground, which dealt with the Mysteries alone, to questions of historicity and literal interpretations of an inassailable Scripture, all sense of the cabalistic character of which had been hopelessly lost.
The battle of the last two centuries has raged altogether around questions affecting the total or partial authenticity of the Biblical narrative taken as a record of human history rendered infallible by Divine interference. Its uncompromising literal interpretations, the strict Puritan sense, have given rise to a long line of splendidly intellectual, but less misguided than unguided materialists, whose violent attitudes, in opposition to so called "revealed" religion, were provoked by the stubborn and uncompromising defense of sticklers for the historical veracity of a thousand physically impossible and completely unnatural narratives. That these narratives might have a concealed sense and convey the spiritual lessons of the "ancient mysteries" of their derivation, no more flashed across the minds of men like Voltaire, Thomas Paine, or to come down to our own day, Robert G. Ingersoll, than over those of Martin Luther or John Calvin.
To recapitulate the influences which have resulted in the gradual readjustment of the situation, rescuing us from the danger of a sullen and uncompromising conflict between the grossest and most blasphemous negation of Divinity and a blind Credence, in the exercise of which man must stand ready to surrender every prompting of reason or God-given common sense, would be to largely recapitulate the work which has been slowly and painfully accomplished within the ranks of the Masonic craft since the emergency of speculative Masonry from its underground crypt, under the liberal institutions of Protestant England, Germany, and later, of Republican France.
Scholarly Masons, who are duly qualified, did fail to recognize likenesses between Masonic terminologies and traditions of the Ancient Mysteries preserved in the Greek classics and in the allusions of early alchemistic and "magical" writings. This led to an examination of innumerable hints contained in the homilies of the early fathers, concerning the mysteries, both Pagan and Christian, of the early days of the Church. Like putting together, bit by bit, the pieces of an enormous "cut out" puzzle, fragment after fragment has been brought together and joined to the main body
The labors of the Abbe Constant, known best by his pen name of Eliphaz Levi, did more than anything else to acquaint the western mind with the precise nature of spiritual mysteries and ancient methods of concealment, in his exposition of the long, jealously guarded Jewish Kabbalah. Upon this imperfect beginning have been based the Masonic writings of the venerable Albert Pike and from the same inspiration and greatly amplified by independent research, the published works of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, with whose theosophical conclusions we shall not, however, concern ourselves. They have, however, had great influence over subsequent Masonic writers-like Dr. Buck and the Rev. Charles H. Vail.
The labor of Oriental Students has thrown open to the world the treasure houses of ancient Zend, Sanscrit and Arabic literature, which have supplied the connecting links in the great story of the inception of an age old scientific gnosis, materially set forth to the western world in the philosophies of the ancient students of Eastern lore, Aristotle, Plato and Pythagoras. The work of the Assyrologists and Egyptologists has furnished other links to the chain, extending our vision and broadening its range, until we are brought face to face with a wonderful, new and magnificently supported conclusion--that the significant symbolism of this great institution of ours, was indeed selected at some remote period of human history and handed down for the express purpose of discovering to us the origin of man's highest spiritual contemplations, and to enable us like the fathers of our race to climb otherwise inaccessable heights and view our Creator "face to face."
The consensus of all that has been discovered in this respect develops the fact that, way back in the dawn of history, probably long before it, there originated at some point on earth's surface, (indications which point to Northern India are not lacking) a curiously interlocking geometrical, mathematical and astronomical gnosis. From purely natural experiments was derived a conception of the three hundred and sixty degrees of the circle, triangle and quadrangular equations, by means of squares (the Mosaic pavement) and the equilateral triangle, the Alphabet and the Decimal system. Adding the factors of the perceptible phenomena of the Universe, the mutual relations of divers geometrical figures of equal quantities and the elements of organic generation, mainly as phallicism, a great system, intended to account for the wonders of Nature, was devised, credited to the One; Absolute Mind ruling the Universe and placed under the government of the College of primitive scientists, to which later ages gave the name of the Magi.
The only difference between elementary Masonry and Theosophy, is the assumption by the latter that the most spiritual of those men achieved successive reincarnations on increasing scales of Divine inspiration and possession, which led them, in the course of time, to become the founders of the world's greatest religions, and has perpetuated their conscious personalities, even to our own day, under the generic title of "the Masters." Both are children of the legendary "Secret Doctrine."
As a point of departure for the assumption of a special science of Masonic Archaeology, we are, while prepared to allow the most complete liberty of thought with regard to historic cities and anthropomorphic conceptions, compelled to assume that wherever the knowledge and attributes of God have been demonstrated by means of the Square and Compasses, for the purpose of awakening the spiritual sense latent in all mankind, there existed Masonry. With this single proposition in view, there is not an acre of earth's surface, at one time or another trodden by the foot of intelligent man, which does not furnish its countless mute testimonies to the existence and cultivation of the primordial gnosis, of which we speak, passed from race to race and land to land.
It does not consist in structural architectural remains alone, but in geometrical symbolisms and decorative ornaments, in which the proportions of edifices, the shape and dimensions of stones, the decorative features of Temples and supposed Idols, especially the Pyramidal forms of Egypt and America, are made, by the translations of their geometrical angles and proportions into mathematical quantities, to give the precise length of the Solar year, the period of the precession of the Equinoxes, the period of human gestation, important planetary cycles and other great natural facts. The expression of these same quantities and formulae in the letters of the ancient alphabets, represented by their numbers, compose the various sacred names of diverse scriptures of humanity, so that we rest stupefied before the astounding fact, that the greatest message of our own Great light has yet to be read through Masonic eyes, by the light of the Ages past.
Masonic Archaeology is no chimera, nor product of an exalted imagination. It can be read, character by character, on countless objects in the Museums of every country in the world, possessing such, on the facades of and in the proportions of ancient Temples, from Delphi to Delhi, from Athens to Ang-Kor. The ancient monuments of Mexico are supercharged with it and the evidences that this gnosis was the faith and practice of the ancient, aboriginal inhabitants of these United States are incontrovertible.
It stares the craft in the face from every corner of lodge and Chapter, and every word, letter, syllable and character thereof is stamped with God's own signature, the ineffable Tetragrammaton.
The London times, in its issue of October 30th, has a most interesting sketch and appreciation of Genral Joffre, the Commander-in-Chief of the French armies - a simple man, quiet, efficient, who does his duty and does not talk about it. Incidentally, the writer tells us that General Joffree is an enthusiastic Freemason - a fact which will give an added interest to his achievements as a soldier of the republic
BY G. W. BAIRD, P.G.M., DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
It was the good fortune of the writer to see the great obelisk called Cleopatra's needle, as it stood at Alexandria and also to witness the "opening of a house" in Pompeii. The two Monoliths known as Cleopatra's needles had been brought to Alexandria in the time of the Caesars. They were originally in front of the University at Heliopolis, that great school where Moses, the law giver, was once a student. How long they were in Heliopolis no one knows, nor it is known when they were carved or erected.
One of these magnificent monuments was given to England, and the other to the United States. The latter was brought to this country by Brother Lieutenant Commander H. H. Gorringe, U. S. N., the entire expense of which was borne by the late Mr. William H. Vanderbilt, of New York.
When Gorringe lifted the monument, for the purpose of shipping it, he was surprised to find, under its base, so many symbols which seemed clearly Masonic. The Grand Lodge of Masons in Egypt, among whom there was a number of Egyptologists and Archaeologists, sent a committee of its best men, at the request of Gorringe, to examine these emblems and give an opinion. They were unanimous in the opinion that the emblems were Masonic, and gave the following definitions. Gorringe had a drawing made, not only to show the emblems and their relative positions, but for use in replacing them when the shaft should be erected at New York.
A. A polished cube, of syenite. B. Polished square, of syenite. C. Rough and irregular block of syenite. D. Hard lime stone with trowel cemented to its surface. E. Soft lime stone, very white and entirely from spots. F. Axis stone, with figures. G. A marked stone. H. Corner stone, found under east angle of lower steps.
The block C was believed to be the rough ashler; A the perfect ashler; the square B is very distinct, and has been so identified with Masonry, in all ages, that its presence added great weight.
The Committee thought the stone, with figures, resembling snakes, was emblematic of Wisdom. They thought the "axis stone" represented the trestle-board and the marked stone bore the mark of a Mark Master. The two implements, the trowel and the lead plummet, are emblematic of Freemasonry; the white stone is the symbol of purity, as we have always understood it.
A French Archaeologist, in New York, was the only person to question the opinion of the Egyptologists, but as he was not a Mason, Gorringe thought he was not competent to be a judge.
The Obelisk was brought to New York and erected in Central Park, where it now stands. The corner stone was laid with Masonic ceremonies on the 2d of October, 1880, and the emblems were replaced exactly as they had been found at Alexandria.
In the National Museum, at Naples, there is an equally remarkable evidence, which was discovered in the ruins of Pompeii, in 1896. The writer is indebted to the late Brother S. G. Hilborn, then a member of Congress from California, for a picture of this "find" which is here reproduced in a photograph.
It is a mosaic table top, or altar top, which was situated in the center of a rectangular room, exactly as Masonic Altars have ever been erected in lodge rooms. The workmanship is excellent, and the coloring, when the discovery was made, was bright and fresh, but has probably faded some, as all the Pompeii colors have done. Mural paintings, so many of which have been found in those ruins, have all suffered the same fate.
This beautiful mosaic, which is believed to be the top of the altar, shows a large square, above deaths head, with a plumb line from the angle of the square to the middle point of the crown of the head. From each arm of the square there is suspended a robe; one was scarlet, the other purple, which are distinctive colors used in the Royal Arch degree. Below the chin of the head is a butterfly, beautifully colored, and under the butterfly is a circle, that Masonic emblem of Diety, without beginning or end.
In addition to this there were found, in the same room, several articles inherent in Blue and in Royal Arch Masonry, a little urn, which is believed to be the pot of manna, a setting maul, a trowel, a spade, a small chest, thought to be an imitation of the ark of the covenant, and small staff, thought to be phallus. These evidences, potent as they are, are confirmed by the inscription over the door of the house, which is DIOGENE SEN, which means Diogenes the Mason.
The writer gives these facts as to the Pompeii find, as he received them from Brother Hilborn. We have not been in Pompeii since 1878, when with General Grant, but the existence of the altar top may be verified by a visit to the museum at Naples.
The evidence, to an enthusiast, is convincing; to the writer they seem every bit as good, maybe better, than the evidence which Rome has accepted and propagated as to the Apostolic succession.
NOTE --(See Vibert's "Freemasonry before the existence of Grand Lodges" for a different viewpoint regarding the Pompeii Mosaic.)
ERNST AND FALK
Translated from the German of
G.E. Lessing (1778) by Louis Block,
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