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THE BUILDER MAGAZINE
volume 9 - number 9
Wolfgang Goethe, Master Mason
By Bro. W. HARVEY McNAIRN, Canada
Here is an article of so many excellencies that to praise it would be presumptuous. It tells of Goethe, the author of Faust, a world figure in literature along with Homer, Dante and Shakespeare, and one of the greatest teachers of the race that has ever lived. Freemasonry mirrored itself in his mind as a universal brotherhood within the circles of which men may learn to live happily together in forgetfulness of the animosities of religion, race and politics; he saw it as an earnest and prophecy of the good time coming when the brotherhood of man will be something more than an ineffectual dream. How noble is such a conception, and how wise, when compared with the attempts now being made in some quarters to drag back into the lodge the old religious hatreds and sectarian bitternesses thrown aside by our forefathers long ago!
This is a story of the Craft in days long past, and in a world of men and ideas far distant from that in which we live and move. In it we have a picture of Freemasonry as practised in the eighteenth century by the court circle of a little Saxon Duchy. In it we see how the Craft freed itself from the shackles of a dangerous and unmasonic rite, which threatened to destroy its usefulness and its appeal to our common humanity. In it we catch glimpses of that immortal figure who, amid the crowding duties of a busy life, gave of his time, his influence and his abounding talents, to advance the interests of that Order which he recognized as one of the most potent influences for good in his time.
After a hundred years of quiet development, during which the ritual, up till then practically the exclusive possession of the operative trade, was enriched in its symbolism and philosophy, purified in its literary form and rendered more dignified and stately in its ceremonial, Freemasonry revealed itself to the world at the beginning of the eighteenth century as a great spiritual system, with an infinite appeal to just and upright men of all races and creeds. It is not surprising, therefore,, that the fraternity spread with great rapidity over the civilized world, and that each nation selected, amid the kaleidoscopic variety, some plan that appealed to its particular mental attitude and political system. In England, the land of its origin, the ideal of brotherhood seems to have been the most highly prized contribution of Freemasonry. Hence it was that within the tyled temple, peer and artisan sat side by side, forgetful of the artificial barrier of race or caste. Hence also rose those great Masonic charities which are the pride of the Craft and an inspiration to lovers of mankind over all the world.
On the Continent, where the blood-bought privileges of political and spiritual freedom had not yet been purchased, the lodge became the symbol of liberty of conscience. Here alone was it possible for men to give full expression of their ideas without the shadow of the prison or the gibbet darkening their assemblies. And in Germany, in particular, the study of the philosophy and symbolism of Freemasonry, even before the end of the eighteenth century, had already begun to occupy a great deal of attention.
It is then with a Masonic atmosphere of this kind that we have now to deal. The fundamentals are all here: the ritual, the "table lodge," or banquet, the virtue of charity, and added to them an enthusiasm for liberty of thought and an interest in the deeper significance of the usages of the Craft.
GOETHE A UNIVERSAL GENIUS
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is the great outstanding figure in German literature. Poet, dramatist, philosopher, scientist, statesman, he, more than any other modern man, is the type of the universal genius. It is no wonder then that German Freemasons point with pride to his connection with their Order, and that no German history of the Craft is complete without many references to his influence in promoting its interests in the Fatherland.
He was born in Frankfort on the Main, on the 28th of August, 1749, of parents of wealth, culture and social standing, and was intended for the law. He studied at Leipzig, his father's university, and at Strassburg, and on receiving his degree, returned home to practice his profession. But the humdrum of a legal career was ill-suited to his poetical temperament, and a few years later, he joined the court circle of the young Duke of Weimar, where he found his surroundings so congenial that he spent the rest of his life there, giving his services to his Prince, and at the same time producing that series of works in poetry and prose which have made for him a lasting memorial which will remain as long as literature is studied.
GOETHE WAS A MASON
But it is not his life and writings, interesting as such a study is, that must occupy our attention at present. The story of his connection with the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Freemasons has been the theme of very many books and pamphlets and magazine articles, few, if any, of which, are available for English readers.
While still a young man he had learned something about Freemasonry, had become acquainted with distinguished members of its select circle, and had recognized the social and fraternal advantages which it offers. In his Poetry and Truth, he says: "The field of German intellectual and literary culture at the time presented the appearance of newly-broken ground. Among business people there were far-sighted men on the lookout for skilful cultivators and prudent managers to till the unturned soil. Even the respected and well-established Freemason lodge, with whose most distinguished members I had become acquainted through my intimacy with Lili, found a fitting means of bringing me into touch with them; but, from a feeling of independence, which afterwards appeared to me madness, I declined all closer connection with them, not perceiving that these men, though forming a society of their own in a special sense, might yet do much to further my own ends, so nearly related to theirs." (1)
But this attitude of aloofness towards the Society did not long persist. Unlike his great contemporary and friend, the poet Wieland, who did not see Masonic light until he had reached the age of 76, Goethe had the advantages of membership early impressed upon him during a journey which he made with the young Duke of Weimar in the latter part of the year 1779. Many times during the four months of their tour, he realized that the entre of the lodges would have offered him opportunities of close acquaintance with men of weight and personal charm, opportunities which were not otherwise available. Accordingly, only three days after his return he began inquiries preliminary to presenting his petition to the local lodge. (2) But it was not until the 13th, February, that he addressed the following letter to Privy Councillor, J. F. von Fritsch, at that time Worshipful Master of Lodge Amalia:
"I take the liberty of importuning you with a request. For a long time I have had occasion to wish that I might belong to the Society of Freemasons: this desire became very strong during our journey. It is only on this score that I have missed the opportunity of walking in closer union with persons whom I have learned to respect. It is the social feeling alone which leads me to seek for admission. To whom could I better entrust this matter, than to your Excellency? I await the kindly guidance of what you advise in this matter. I await, moreover, your gracious hints, and sign myself respectfully, Your Excellency's
"Obedient servant, Goethe." (3)
The recipient of this letter, Privy Councillor, Baron Jakob Friedrich von Fritsch, was not very favourably disposed towards its acceptance. Six years previously, when the Duke had proposed appointing Goethe to a position in his cabinet, Fritsch had strenuously dissented, and had even presented his resignation from the council in protest, and although the charming manner and generous nature of the younger man soon won over his irascible and gruff colleague, the truce was only temporary. From time to time the eagerness and optimism of youth clashed with the conservatism of the middle aged Junker. No doubt this will account for the fact that four months passed before the desire expressed in his petition was gratified.
It so happened that there was then staying in Weimar probably the best qualified man in all Germany to advise Goethe before his admission and to guide his subsequent researches. Johann Joachim Christoph Bode, musician, teacher of languages, translator of, among other books, The Vicar of Wakefield, and the publisher of several of Goethe's works, was some twenty years older than Goethe. He was a deep student of Masonry and had accumulated a library of some eight hundred volumes covering the whole subject of secret societies, a remarkable achievement in those days. In recognition of his services to the Craft he had been elected, some years before this date, the Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Hamburg, which, then, as now, stood for pure, unadulterated Craft Masonry of three degrees. (4) It was to this man, whose honesty of purpose was so clearly seen, that Goethe applied for guidance, and it is a reasonable conclusion that for the remaining thirteen years of his life, Bode was one of Goethe's best Masonic advisers.
On the 23d of June, 1780, the eve of the Festival of St. John the Baptist, the most important occasion of the German Masonic year, Goethe, then in his thirty-first year, was duly initiated in the Lodge Amalia in Weimar. He had previously made two unusual stipulations, first, that he should not be blindfolded, but that his word of honour to keep his eyes closed should be accepted instead, and secondly, that the ritual of the Grand Lodge of Hamburg should be substituted for that ordinarily in use in his lodge, which then followed the Rite of Strict Observance. (5) In the latter we probably see the influence of Bode, who occupied the chair during the ceremony. Fritsch, whose right it was to preside, was not fully reconciled to the admittance of the poet, and felt it impossible to take any part himself, in the initiation.
If Fritsch had been unfavourably disposed towards the candidate to begin with, the setting aside of the Strict Observance ritual, of which he was a staunch supporter, would not help in smoothing away the difficulties. This no doubt accounts for the fact that nearly a year elapsed without any move being made towards passing Goethe to the Fellowcraft Degree. Accordingly, on the 31st of March, 1781, he again addressed the Worshipful Master in the following letter:
"May I, your Excellency, on the near prospect of a lodge meeting, also urge my own small interest? While I submit myself to all the rules of the Order, though unknown to me, yet, I wish, if it be not contrary to regulations, to take a further step, in order that I might approach closer to the essentials. I desire this, not only on my own account, but also on account of the Brethren, who are frequently in the embarrassing position of having to treat me as a stranger. Should it be possible to advance me to the Master's degree at your convenience, I would learn of it most thankfully. The pains which I have given to the useful knowledge of the Order have, perhaps, rendered me not altogether unworthy of such a degree.
"However, I freely leave all to your Excellency's courteous discernment, and sign myself with unchanging esteem,
"Your Excellency's "Most obedient,
As a result of this petition he was passed to the Fellowcraft Degree on the eve of the festival, 23d June, 1781, the anniversary of his initiation. Lodge meetings were held rather infrequently in those days, and nothing is known of Goethe's activity in Masonry, but it, is safe to conclude that he was present at the convocation held on the 5th of February, 1782, in which his princely friend, Carl August, Duke of Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach, or, as it is usually written, Duke of Weimar, was made a Mason. A month later, on the 3rd of March, they were both raised to the degree of a Master Mason. Shortly after, Goethe, as was the custom among members of Strict Observance lodges, proceeded to the degree of a Knight Templar.
Almost immediately after his entrance into Lodge Amalia, the Duke took his stand strongly in opposition to the rite of Strict Observance, and on the occasion of the next festival of St. John, a bitter discussion arose in open lodge. In this argument, the Worshipful Master Fritsch, an unwavering adherent of the old system, was supported by Bode and opposed by Friedrich Justin Bertuch, the Duke's secretary, and in his day an eminent and capable ruler of the Craft. The Convent of Wilhelmsbad, a Grand Lodge meeting which gave the death blow to the Strict Observance, had not yet been opened, but the feeling of dissatisfaction and unrest was, as we shall see, becoming every day more critical. The Master seems to have delivered an impassioned address in which he expressed his "disgust and weariness and, indignation at the innumerable errors, deceptions and frauds in the Masonic world, and his uncertainty as to which system one should follow." (7) Bertuch then presented a motion that "since in the present unrest, that peace, without which the ideals of the Institution must fail, cannot be preserved" the Lodge should "discontinue its work." (8)
In order to understand all this it is necessary to review, briefly, the rise, development and fall of this fantastic Masonic system which was then undermining the unity of European Freemasonry, and which, had it become dominant, would probably have destroyed the appeal and the usefulness of the Craft.
One of the many extraordinary excrescences which defaced the primitive simplicity of Freemasonry during the latter part of the eighteenth century was the Order of Strict Observance. The fundamental doctrine of this rite was that Freemasonry was derived from the Knights Templars. During the persecution which followed the suppression of the Order in 1307, its leaders, so ran the theory, under the disguise of Masons went over to Scotland where they carried on their ritualistic work and secured the continuance of their knighthood under the protection of the lodges of Operative Freemasons. The lodges of speculative Masons were therefor nothing more than Conclaves of Knights Templars under a different name, and the ceremonies there practised were those which they had jealously guarded. It necessarily followed that, although the higher degrees of knighthood had been separated from the Craft degrees, in which in old time the operative brethren had been permitted to take part, every speculative Mason must be a Knight Templar. In order to emphasize this theory each member was designated as Eques, or knight, and was required to select an additional Latin appellation for himself, which was filed with the registrar. For instance, the leader of the system called himself "Eques ab Ense," knight of the sword. But the crowning glory of the system was the fiction that the supreme government was in the hands of men of high Masonic rank and social and political distinction. Who these leaders were, no one was allowed to know. They were called "the Unknown Superiors," and their commands were to be implicitly obeyed.
The originator of this rite was a German nobleman, Karl Gotthelf, Baron von Hund and Altengrotkau, a man of a childlike simplicity and credulity, and according to some of his biographers, of inordinate vanity. One might also be justified in suspecting that he was also characterized by a judgment somewhat lacking in strength and common sense. He received his higher degrees in the Chapter of Clermont, which was held in Paris in 1754 for the purpose of reorganizing the Craft. Not long after he elaborated his system, which had an extraordinary vogue in Germany for more than half a century. The Fraternity seems to have been torn with dissensions; the more conservative members wished to retain the ancient simplicity of ritual and tradition which had come to them from England, while the Modernists longed for the spectacular innovations and aristocratic doctrines of the new system. It was this struggle which led to the suspension of the work in Lodge Amalia for twenty-six years, and which, on its happy reorganization in 1808, made it impossible for their old Worshipful Master, Fritsch, to weild the gavel once more.
Long before this, however, the founder of the system, von Hund, had met his Waterloo. Charged, at the Congress of 1775 to reveal the names of the "Unknown Superiors," and to produce his documentary evidence of Masonic rank, he was unable to give satisfactory answers. He was consequently discredited, his order divided and he died in the following year. (9)
GOETHE RETAINED HIS INTEREST
During the twenty-six years in which the lodge was dormant, neither Goethe nor the Duke lost their interest in Freemasonry. But the times were not yet propitious for the resumption of the work. It was necessary first that the host of charlatans, alchemists, spiritists and the rest, who had invaded the Order, and reduced it to the low condition in which it then was, must be cleared out, and the eagerness for the higher degrees brought within reasonable bounds.
On the 14th of October, 1806, was fought the battle of Jena, and Napoleon's victorious armies commenced their march into Germany. Under these distressing circumstances, the Freemasons of Jena felt that the ministrations of the brotherhood would be of the greatest comfort and efficacy in "dissipating the dark clouds which surrounded them." In response to their petition to be allowed to found a new lodge, Goethe was appointed by the Duke to his first commission as a Masonic statesman. After due consideration of the case, he gave as his advice that Jena was not the place nor that year the time for renewed Masonic activities.
But a pleasanter task was soon to be his. A few months later conditions had sufficiently improved to warrant a consideration of the possibility of reopening Lodge Amalia. Accordingly, in April, 1808, the Duke appointed Goethe, Bertuch and seven others a commission to undertake the preliminary steps.
It was a fortunate circumstance that a very distinguished ritualist and high-souled Mason, Friedrich Ludwig Schroeder, the author of a famous system of Masonry which bore his name, was at that very time at Weimar with the purpose of laying his plan before Goethe, as the highest arbiter in all literary matters. The poet, who had always been opposed to the claims of the higher degrees, as he knew them, was favourably impressed with the simplicity and directness of the new ritual. He therefore strongly recommended it to the Duke, at whose command he wrote the following letter to the Lodge Gunther of the Standing Lions, at Rudolstadt, which was working under the Grand Lodge of Hamburg:
"Time and circumstances caused us in 1782 to discontinue the work of our Lodge Amalia and to allow it to stand idle till now. Time and circumstances now cause us to open our Lodge Amalia once more, and once more there to renew our labours. In this we, as Masons, have not been idle. We have observed, in the world of nature and of men, the spirit of the time, and the results of its operation in the progress of Masonry towards its perfection, and, though without lodge connection, we have endeavoured, as far as it was possible for us, to fulfil in truth, our Masonic obligation. In the meantime we have accumulated a great deal of experience and valuable enlightenment concerning the aims and character of our Order. These facts have influenced us to decide to discontinue the System of Strict Observance, for a long time in use in the Lodge Amalia, as it is no longer useful, and to accept that of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Lower Saxony at Hamburg, under which you also work. This system is much more purified, more suitable, and corresponds better with the spirit of our time and knowledge. We have also decided to unite ourselves with the aforesaid Provincial Grand Lodge. Not only have the Worshipful Master and brethren of the Lodge Amalia signed with me, but also other brethren who live here, and still others who have united with us in the reopening of the Lodge Amalia according to the above system. All this is done with the highest approbation of our revered and august brother, Carl August, our beloved Duke and governor." (10)
Presumably this letter was intended to be an application for the consent of the lodge at Rudolstadt, and it would seem that such consent was forthcoming, for the work of reorganization was carried through.
It was Goethe's wish that they should re-elect Fritsch, the Worshipful Master of the lodge, before its suspension, but the loyalty of that unbending man to the now thoroughly discredited System of Strict Observance did not waver and he would not consent to submit to a system which sought to trace the origin of the Craft to a society of humble artisans, instead of the aristocratic, medieval Knights Templar. Accordingly, at the reorganization meeting on the 27th of June, 1808, Bertuch was elected Worshipful Master. The election, however, was not, unanimous, for the ballots showed that a substantial minority wished to place Goethe in the Master's chair.
On the 24th of October the lodge was at length successfully started upon its new career, and it remains to this day, using the same ritual, and proud of the illustrious name so closely connected with this critical period of its history. Unfortunately, the poet, who was that year under treatment for the gout, was unable to be present. The seventeen charter members were all officials of the little court of Weimar, and five of them close personal friends of Goethe, a fact which attests their culture and ability and congeniality. Pietsch, in his little book on Goethe's centennial, adds enthusiastically, "and what a lodge!"
GOETHE IS ASKED TO BECOME MASTER
The remainder of Goethe's Masonic career is simply told. He attended the meetings but rarely, and as time passed his visits were at longer intervals. He never held office, and yet his influence among the brethren was great for two years later. When the little lodge had increased in numbers to fifty, Bertuch felt constrained to lay down the gavel and Goethe was elected to the chair, but the pressure of public business had become so very great that it would have been impossible for him to have undertaken the responsibility, and he was unable to accept the position. IN fact, so little time had he for the lodge business that he felt constrained to apply for a demit, which he did in the following letter, dated 5th, October, 1812, addressed to Bertuch's successor Ridel:
"Your honour would do me an especial favour if you would took upon my absence as being regular, and not unMasonic, and could release me from my obligations to the society. I would unwillingly relinquish entirely this honourable and interesting connection, but it is impossible for me to attend lodge regularly, and I do not wish to set a bad example by my absence. Perhaps I may learn the particulars by word of mouth, until which time I shall reserve my apology." (11)
This, however, did not sever his connection with the lodge, and probably the resignation was not accepted nor the demit granted.
The last occasion on which Goethe was present at the regular work of the lodge was on the 5th of December, 1815, when he had the satisfaction of seeing his only son, Julius August Walther, made a Mason. The young man was then twenty-six and his father sixty-five and although the subsequent career of August Goethe was a source of anxiety and sorrow to the poet, his membership was a great advantage to Lodge Amalia. He became an enthusiastic Mason, was elected Junior Steward, which office he held until his death in 1830, and constantly acted as an intermediary between the lodge and his father. Possibly a good deal of Goethe's assistance in the interests of the lodge was due to his desire to further the advancement of his son.
One cannot help feeling at times that, in their desire to exalt the dignified standing of the Order, the German historians have rather over-emphasized Goethe's interest in the Craft. A biographer who could speak of him as "the greatest poet of all time" (12), or as one who had lived "perhaps the richest and most beautiful life that has ever been vouchsafed to any mortal" (13), might easily be so misled by his enthusiasm for Freemasonry and for his hero as to exaggerate the position the one held in the heart of the other. Indeed, some of their own historians apparently take this view. Kneisner, in his History of German Freemasonry, says: "Goethe had not often visited the lodge, and took no part in its meetings when it wag reopened." (14)
And yet we have the testimony, not only of the historians, but also of his Masonic contemporaries, that his interest was deep and lasting. "Although he never held office he was, and continued to be until his advanced age, the spiritual centre of the Lodge Amalia." (14) Or as Pietsch expresses it, "he was the centre of crystallization of his beloved lodge." We are also told by Pietsch that, whenever possible, he attended the meetings of the "Historical Select Union." This was an inner circle, restricted to Master Masons and devoted to a study of the history, symbolism and philosophy of the Order. The originator of the rite had designed the Union in the hope, which was abundantly justified, that with the opportunity of gaining accurate Masonic knowledge, the desire for higher degrees would be less imperative. Shortly after the reopening of the lodge a Select Union had been attached to the Lodge Amalia. This was in 1810. That these opportunities for gaining an understanding of the fundamentals of Freemasonry were not lost by Goethe is claimed by Caspari, who says, "Goethe, like Lessing, comprehended the potential depth of the Masonic life. He had a presentiment that here a great evangel would be preached, that must become world-wide, if only it could be separated from the dross." (15)
The most definite statement of his Masonic activities was made at a service held in the lodge in commemoration of his death, at which the Worshipful Master, K. W. von Fritsch, the son of the previous Master of the name, stated that "at every important event, at every great celebration of the lodge, he had taken so active a part that all the more important addresses, songs and general arrangements had the advantage of his previous examination and approval." (16)
It is important, in our study of Goethe's Masonic life, to refer to some of these undertakings. In 1813, his friend and fellow poet, and brother in the Craft, Wieland, passed on to "the Eternal East," and Goethe undertook to prepare the funeral oration, "To the Fraternal Memory of Wieland." That this was considered a Masonic duty is shown by the fact that before he delivered it standing beside the sarcophagus of his departed friend, it had been sent for examination and approval to the Worshipful Master of the Lodge, Ridel.
In 1821 the then Worshipful Master of the Lodge, Ridel, died, and his memory, and that of four other brethren who had passed home before him, was the object of a Lodge of Sorrow, which was held on the 15th of June. The oration delivered upon this occasion seemed of sufficient value to be printed, and Goethe undertook the responsibility of writing an introduction. In it he says that the distinguishing characteristics of the Order "lead us to renounce our particular ambitions and to consider higher and universal aims," and that the Lodge of Sorrow is the place "where this distinguished life as well as the undistinguished appears in its individuality; where we see examples for ourselves in the departed."
On the 23rd of June, 1830, the lodge celebrated the jubilee of his admittance into Masonry. The previous day a delegation had called upon him with a diploma of honourary membership and invited him to attend the meeting, but his advanced age, he was then approaching his 81st birthday, made it impossible to be present in person. However, he composed a short poem for the occasion, and this is naturally very highly prized by the Lodge Amalia. Its literary merits are, it must be admitted, not very high, but it stands with Burns' famous "Farewell to Torbolton," as among the few poems which have been dedicated to Masonic lodges by poets of the first rank. It may be translated rather freely as follows:
"Fifty years have passed forever,
Like a few days they have flown,
Fifty years, returning never,
From the earnest, dim unknown.
"Yet a living, high endeavour
Shows itself forever new.
Love of friends that nought can sever,
Human worth, forever true.
"And our bond of union, surer
As the years pass, widely spread,
Gently shine with light e'er purer,
Like the faint stars overhead.
"Let us then in happy union,
Firmly stand in true communion,
As of old it used to be."
His pleasure at the honour done him by his mother lodge was expressed in a letter which he wrote about three weeks after to his friend and Brother Zelter, a well-known musician of the time. He writes: "It is quite pleasing that you have celebrated your Masonic jubilee at the same time as mine. On the eve of St. John's festival I was a member of the Order for fifty years. The gentlemen have managed these epochs with the greatest courtesy, and on the next day I replied in a friendly manner to their sentiments." (17)
MASONRY IN GOETHE'S WRITINGS
Goethe's Masonic studies are mirrored in his writings. The varied and fascinating by-paths of forgotten lore along which one is led when studying the history and symbolism of the Craft, could not fail to attract the mind of the poet. Indeed, it has been suggested by one of his biographers that his interest in studies of this kind was one of the main reasons why he was first attracted to Masonry. "It is in line with Goethe's inclination towards the symbolical as it is revealed in the Mysteries, though also with sociable considerations, that he became a Freemason." (18) While this may be true, it is clear that the evidences of his Masonic membership are numerous and distinct. "After he became a member of the Society, he accomplished no great work which did not ring in Masonic accord, he completed nothing which did not lead back to a Masonic origin." Although this statement of Pietsch's may be exaggerated, it is a well-known fact that all through his works, both prose and poetry, there are numerous references to Freemasonry. These have been carefully brought together and collated. Indeed, a study of them would require a volume of respectable size for any adequate presentation.
Many of Goethe's songs are made use of by the lodges, and practically everyone of their song-books contains a beautiful lyric, the first verse of which runs:
"In all such pleasant weather,
When flushed by love and wine,
This song we'll sing together,
And hand to hand entwine.
May God keep us united,
Who us hath higher led,
The love-flames he had lighted,
Be by our friendship fed." (19)
But this was written several years before he entered the Society, and consequently has no distinctively Masonic reference.
The song which is best known to English-speaking readers as being most definitely a Craft poem is called "The Masons' Lodge," and has been translated by Carlyle. It has been already published in THE BUILDER, and so only the first stanza need be quoted:
"The Mason's ways are
A type of existence,
And his persistence,
Is as the days are
Of men in this world." (20)
MASONIC GREATNESS LIES IN MASONIC SERVICE
Wherein does Masonic eminence consist? It is not in the accumulation of degrees, interesting as these may be. It is not in the receipt of honours, nor the holding of exalted rank, though to serve the Craft with distinction is a privilege to be coveted by all good men. It is not even the attainment of scholarship, though a knowledge of Masonic philosophy cannot fail to have its effect in upbuilding character. It is not any of these that can place a man in the proud position of being a Mason in the fullest and completest sense. It is to exemplify in one's dealings with mankind those virtues of charity, of kindness, of tolerance which the Ritual so forcefully inculcates by precept and by symbol. It is to be a brother, not only to the household of the faithful, but to every man, irrespective of colour or creed or race, whom economic conditions, or ignorance, or unfavourable heredity and environment have reduced to those depths from whence he can be rescued only by the fraternal assistance of those more favourably situated. Judged by these criteria, Goethe seems to have shown himself a real Freemason in his dealings with his fellow men. To quote Pietsch again: "Not only in the lodge did Goethe reveal himself as a perfect Freemason, but also he knew, as no other man did, how to sustain the Masonic ideal in the outer world, and to reveal it in all departments of spiritual culture and practical life." He was always ready to help those in distress, and that his benefactions flowed from the goodness of his heart is shown by the unostentatious way in which he bestowed them. "To his prince and the country, to a share in whose government he had been called, he was the truest and most energetic servant; to his friends, the most devoted friend; to his parents, the best and most lovable child, and to his son the fondest father." (21)
It is clear, then, that the great heart of the poet ever beat true to the guiding principles of the Craft; that his interest though not evidenced by regular attendance, was still profound and lasting, and that it is with no unjustifiable pride that German Masonic historians refer to his name as the most illustrious on their register. A society that numbers among its membership such famous men as Lessing, Wieland, Mozart, Haydn and Fichte can justly claim the respect of all thinking men, but brighter than all these shines the unquenchable light of Goethe.
1. Goethe - Dichtung und Wahrheit (Poetry and Truth), trans. M.S. Smith, 1908, 2:238.
2. H. Dunizer - Life of Goethe, trans. T.W. Lister, N.Y. 1884, P. 306.
3. J.Pietsch - Johann Wolfgang v. Goethe als Freimaurer (J.W. Goethe as a Freemason), Leipzig, 1880, p. 8.
4. Allgemeines Handbuch der Freimaurerei (General Handbook of Freemasonry, an Encyclopedia), 3rd Ed. Leipzig, 1900, 1:114.
5. Pabst - Geschichte der Loge zum Goldnen Apfel in Dresden (History of the Lodge of the Golden Apple in Dresden), quoted by Handbuch.
6. Pietsch p. 12
7. Pietsch p. 15
8. Handbuch, 1:103
9. Handbuch, 1:468-471
10. Pietsch, p. 17.
11. Handbuch, 1:373
12. Pietsch, p. 4.
13. Pietsch, p. 62.
14. F. Kneisner - Geschichte der Deutschen Freimaurerei (History of German Freemasonry), Berlin, 1912, p. 114.
15. Otto Caspari - Die Bedeutung des Freimaurertums (The Signification of Freemasonry), Berlin, 196, p. 97.
17. J.G. Findel - Geschichte der Freimaurerei von der Zeit ihres Entstehens bis auf die Gegenwart (History of Freemasonry From the Time of its Origin Down to the Present), 2nd ed. Leipzig, 1866, p. 601.
18. R.M. Meyer-Goethe, Berlin, 1905:253.
19. Sammlung mauerrischer Gesange, herausgegeben von der Grosz National Mutterloge zu den drei Weltkugeln (Collection of Masonic Songs, issued by the Grand National Mother Lodge of the Three Globes), Berlin, 1865, p. 71
20. THE BUILDER, V:260 Sept., 1919
21. A.W. v. Simmerman, quoted by Handbuch.
The Great Journey
By Bro. WILLIAM FIELDING, California
ONE of the most impressive moments of the initiatory ceremony is a certain rite known as Circumambulation. The candidate himself is at a loss to understand the meaning or purpose of this, and it is probable that after the ceremonies are completed he seldom recalls it, or ever gives it a thought.
The interpretation of this rite is usually given as a symbolical representation of the great journey of life. We men come into this world in ignorance and helplessness: dependent on others we must permit ourselves to be led about: and on the way we encounter many obstacles, many dangers, and many fears. Of this experience, so we are often told, Circumambulation is a picture. There is nothing in this interpretation in itself that flies against fact or offends the reason, but we may be sure that there is far more to it than this.
Circumambulation is very old and well nigh universal. The Egyptians, in many of their cult practices, used it much, as when images of Isis or Osiris would be carried about the temples or around the altars. The Jews had solemn ceremonies of a like nature, as when the priests would march in a circle about the sacrifices: and so did the Arabs, who shared with the Jews so many of their customs. To this day it is used by many branches of the Brahmans. The priest must drive about a sacred tree or pool during his initiation. On arising in the early morning he faces the sun, then walks about in a circle, keeping the center to his right. The Laws of Manu prescribe that in the marriage ceremony, the bride is to circumambulate the domestic hearth. Ancient Buddhists considered such a ceremony so important that they built stone galleries about shrines to accommodate the pilgrims and worshippers who came to pay homage to the image of Buddha by walking around it.
Homer tells us that Achilles led his squadrons three times about the body of Patroclus, in this fashion, so we may suppose, paying the dead hero divine honours. In Greek sacred dances Circumambulation was often reversed: the movement from right to left was called the "strophe," that from left to right, the "antistrophe." The Romans laid great stress on the necessity of making the movements only from right to left because they deemed the leftwise movement a piece of black magic that would bring ill upon them: our own word "sinister" was born from that idea and still reminds us that the use of the left hand is not as fortunate as the right. Roman marriage customs, many of them, like the Laws of Manu, demanded circumambulation.
Celtic scholars tell us that among Celts of all nationalities the rite has been practically universal. Doctors would make circuits around the sick in order to invoke the powers of healing; mourners followed the dead in going about the graveyard before interment was made: and often in religious ceremonies priests and people began by making a procession about the church, as is still the case in Roman Catholic ceremonies when a bishop is enthroned. J.G. Frazer, in his Balder, describes a Scotch custom of Circumambulation practised in the highlands as late as 1850.
It is probable that in Freemasonry the rite has been used from the beginning. In one of the very old York rituals we find that the Apprentice when he came to demonstrate his fitness to be made a fellow, passed from station to station where the Master and the Wardens each one put his master's piece to a different test. These are but a few examples drawn at random from countless numbers. We might have run up a list of illustrations from the habits of American Indians, as in the Pawnee ceremony of "Hako", about which Miss Fletcher has written so entertainingly in the Bulletins of the U.S. Bureau of Ethnology: and we might have drawn many examples from the customs of Central American natives and South American. The cases already given are sufficiently representative.
What gave rise to this rite in the first place? The clue is furnished us in a saying attributed to the priests of Apollo at Dellos, as preserved in one of the hymns of Callimaches: "we imitate the example of the sun." In our northern hemisphere the sun rises in the east, and then appears to move to the west by way of the south. Almost all ancient peoples, and almost all peoples now living in a state of primitive culture (there are exceptions, as in the case of the Eskimos) look upon the sun as one of the principal sources of life and power, and accordingly worship him. Circumambulation is a product of sun worship.
But there is an origin anterior to this. Why, did ancient peoples believe that imitating the sun's pathway through the skies was an act of worship! It is because they believed in what anthropologists have come to call "sympathetic magic." Nearly all early peoples believed that they could gain control of, and power over, natural forces and gods and demons by imitating them. The modern Red man will beat his drum and scatter dust in the air in order to compel the rain to come; the drum rattle is the thunder; the dust falling is the rain; this imitation, according to the logic of magical ideas (which logic is now almost completely lost to us) is itself a method of compelling the gods of the rain to pay heed. The man who prays for rain, according to magic, makes it rain. In the Ancient Mysteries, many of them, the central ceremony was a drama in imitation of the experiences, perhaps the tragical life and death, of the god.
The magician who practised his ceremonies in harmony with the orderly forces of nature, who always, as it were, kept to the right hand, was a practicer of "white magic": while that one who reversed the normal processes, who made the thunder go back into the sky, and the rain go back into the cloud, was a practicer of the "black magic".
As I have said above, the whole logic of these magical doctrines is lost to us: it is doubtful if, by the greatest stretch of the imagination, we can bring ourselves to think or feel as ancient peoples did. But there is one idea enshrined here in the midst of this ancient ceremony that we can understand. It is the idea of Harmony with Nature.
Democritus was fond of the saying, "Nature conquers Nature." It kept him in mind of the fact that man is powerless to conquer her, though he talk much about it: it is only when he sets a greater natural force against a lesser that he can persuade Nature to do his bidding, as when the sailor adjusts his sail to the winds in order to overcome the inertia of the water, or a woodman cuts away the root of a tree in order that gravity May bring down the great trunk. The farmer conquers by learning how to keep step with the seasons, by harmonizing his sowing and cultivating with the rain, the frosts, and the dew, by rotating his crops, by learning how to fit his own small powers in with the great powers of sun, soil, and the rain: and so is it, in one form or other, with us all.
Thus, to some extent or other, and under one disguise or other, the Rite of Circumambulation is the ceremony of the harmonious adjustment of one to one's world. The candidate must pay homage to the Master, he must salute the Wardens, he must learn to keep step with his guide, and how to approach the East; and he must be made to understand that he will never know the power and privileges of Masonry unless he learns how to harmonize his life with the laws and forces of Masonry.
NOTE:-The literature on Circumambulation is coextensive with the literature on folk-lore, magic, mythology, and primitive culture in general. This would include such well-known works as Frazer's Golden Bough, Tyler's Primitive Culture, Brinton's The Myths of the New World, etc., etc. One of the best short treatises extant is that contributed to Hasting's Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics by our illustrious Masonic scholar, Count Goblet d'Alviela. The little article in Mackey's Encyclopedia is also very good, though it has little to say about modern practices of the Rite. See also Plutarch's Isis and Osiris. In THE BUILDER see Volumes III, IV and V, consulting the indexes. Note especially Volume III, page 245.
"Every Year," An Explanation
By ALBERT PIKE
Mrs. R. M. Packard, West Newton, Mass., is a grand daughter of Albert Pike who has in her possession a number of mementoes of the great Mason, notable among which are a number of original manuscripts and letters. When these invaluable relics, the sight of which would make the blood ran faster in the veins of any member of the Craft, were laid on the table before Ye Editor, he immediately asked permission to publish in these pages Albert Pike's explanation of his famous poem, "Every Year," about which there has been at times some controversy. Brother R.M. Packard, a member of this Society, very generously offered to make this possible through the use of a photostat, and to him we are much indebted for that kindness. It may also be added here, and by way of indicating to what further extent we Masons are under obligation to Brother and Mrs. Packard, that they secured from the other members of the family consent that Brother Dr. Joseph Fort Newton should prepare an authentic biography of Albert Pike. He is now at work on that task.
Pike was more than once accused of plagiarism in composing "Every Year." The value of the following "Explanation" is that it disposes of this question once and forever.
This poem, as first published, without my consent or knowledge, in a San Francisco paper, was made up for Elias C. Boudinot, to be sung by him out of five verses of six written by Colonel Halpine C. Miles O'Reilly, under the following circumstances:
I heard Dr. Duncan, of the U.S. Volunteer Service, sing the five verses at Vicksburg after the Civil War, and afterwards at Washington, without knowing by whom they were written. I do not think that he knew - if he did, I never heard him mention the author.
Mr. Boudinot learned these verses from him and was in the habit of singing them, and to oblige him, I changed them in part, correcting defective rhymes and what seemed to me crude and in bad form, making a single verse out of the second and third, added four verses, and afterwards had what was so produced printed, as in part new and in part old, there being eight verses in all, without name of any author. I never heard Col. Halpine's name mentioned in connection with it until years afterwards.
The poem, as he wrote it, or as it has been since published as his, is as follows:
The Old Bachelor's New Year
Oh! the spring has less of brightness
And the snow a ghastlier whiteness
Nor do summer blossoms quicken,
Nor does autumn fruitage thicken
As it did - the seasons sicken
It is growing cold and colder
And I feel that I am older
And my limbs are less elastic,
And my fancy not so plastic-
Yea, my habits grow monastic
'Tis becoming bleak and bleaker
And my hopes are waxing weaker
Care I now for merry dancing,
Or for eyes with passion glancing?
Love is less and less entrancing
Oh, the days that I have squandered
And the friendships rudely sundered,
Of the ties that might have twined me,
Until time to death resigned me
My infirmities remind me
Sad and sad to look before us
With a heavier shadow o'er me
To behold each blossom faded,
And to know we might have made it
An immortal garland, braided
Round the year.
Many a spectral, beckoning finger,
Year by year,
Chides me that so long I linger,
Year by year;
Every early comrade sleeping
In the churchyard, whither, weeping,
I - alone unwept - am creeping
Year by year.
The last verse Dr. Duncan and Boudinot did not sing.
The four verses made out of the first five, for Mr. Boudinot, were printed on
note paper, thus:
(A song Old and New - the New in Italic)
The Spring has less of brightness
And the Snow a ghostlier whiteness
Nor do Summer howers quicken,
Nor Autumn fruitage thicken,
As they once did, for we sicken
It is growing darker, colder,
As the heart and soul grow older
I care not now for dancing,
Or for eyes with passion glancing,
Love is less and less entrancing
Oof the loves and sorrows blended
Of the charms of friendship ended
Of the ties that still might bind me
Until Time to Death resigned me,
My infirmities remind me
Ah! how sad to look before us
While the cloud grows darker o'er us
When we see the blossoms faded
That to bloom we might have aided,
And immortal garlands braided
These verses were followed by the last four of the poem which I afterwards published as my own.
A copy of the poem, "Old and New," on note-paper, was given to a lady from California, who was expressly informed that it was not to be published; but when she returned to San Francisco she lent it to someone who had it published, all in Roman letter, i.e., without the distinction between the old and new portions made by the italic type. A copy of the journal in which it was so printed came to me, and I immediately sent to its editor a copy as printed on note-paper, asking its publication, to relieve me of the imputation of having published part of an old poem by an unknown author as my own.
This request was complied with, but it was too late. The mischief was done, for the poem as printed first in that journal was widely copied and the error could not be adequately corrected.
Then I wrote three verses, in lieu of those of Col. Halpine, and printed the poem as my own.
[E.C. Boudinot, whom Pike mentions above, wrote a letter to the Editor of the Arkansas Sentinel, which is incorporated here by way of corroboration.] To the Editor of Arkansas Sentinel:
A short poem, with the above refrain, has been going the round of the newspapers of the country and credited to Gen. Albert Pike. It has appeared in different shapes, but all purport to be composed by the General. I know personally that General Pike has made no claim to the authorship of several of the different versions of the poem which have appeared in the papers, and ascribed to him; and as I have been unintentionally responsible in some measure for placing him in a position unpleasant, I consider a short explanation in order from me. "The Old Bachelor's New Year" was written by Charles G. Halpine, well known to the reading public as "Miles O'Reilly." Twelve years ago I sang some of the verses to General Pike, who was pleased with them; but he suggested and made several changes in the verses. Afterwards he revised them in other particulars, until the verses of "Every Year," printed below, numbered 2 and 3, found their way into print without my knowledge or consent with the name of Albert Pike as the author. The last poem - number 4 - was written by Albert Pike, and is the only one to which he claims authorship.
[The earlier versions mentioned by Mr. Boudinot are printed above in Pike's account. The only complete version claimed by (Boudinot's number 4), and therefore to be taken as authentic and on his authority, is that which follows.]
Life is a count of losses
For the weak are heavier crosses,
Lost with sobs replying,
Unto weary Autumn's sighing
While those we love are dying,
The days have less of gladness,
The nights more weight of sadness,
Fair Springs no longer charm us,
The wind and weather harm us,
The threats of Death alarm us,
There comes new cares and sorrows,
Dark days and darker morrows,
The ghosts of dead loves haunt us,
The ghosts of changed friends taunt us,
And disappointments daunt us,
To the past go more dead faces,
And the loved leave vacant places,
Everywhere the sad eyes meet us,
In the evening's dusk they greet us,
And to come to them entreat us,
"You are growing old," they tell us,
"You are more alone," they tell us,
"You can win no new affection,
You have only recollection,
Deeper sorrow and dejection,"
The shores of life are shifting,
And we are seaward drifting,
Old places, changing, fret us,
The living more forget us,
There are fewer to regret us,
But the truer life draws nigher,
And its Morning-star climbs higher,
Earth's hold on us grows slighter,
And the heavy burden lighter,
And the Dawn Immortal brighter,
The AngIo-Irish Grand Lodge
By Bro. JOE L. CARSON, Virginia
The following brief sketch - too brief - was written by a brother who owes it to the Craft to write more than he does. He was personally acquainted with Hughan, Speth, Gould, Lane, Crossle, Crawley and others among the giants across the sea; also it is worthy of note, and of being here placed on record, that Brother Carson assisted Henry Sadler in his search for the materials for his epoch-making work, Masonic Facts and Fictions. It is usually supposed that all modern Speculative Freemasonry has descended from the Grand Ledge organized in London. in 1717, but this is not quite true to the facts, for that Grand Lodge had a competitor to deal with from 1750 or thereabouts until 1813, when the "United Grand Lodge of England" was formed by an amalgamation of the two. Lodges in this land were formed by" both these Grand Bodies, so that almost as many must trace their origin) to the Anglo-Irish, or Antient, Grand Lodge as to the other, and this helps to explain the variations in ritual which continue to puzzle so many. Until the end Gould, who did more than any other to fasten on the Antients the stigma of "schismatics", refused to capitulate to the wealth of proof advanced by Sadler, not even though his colleague and adviser, Hughan, strongly urged him to change front. This wan one of the principal reasons that led Brother Fred J. W. Crowe to revise Gould's Concise History, which revision was critically renewed in The Builder January, 1922, p. 23. The reader should also consult a communication from Brother Crowe, published on p. 183 of the June issue, same year.
THE "Anglo-Irish" Grand Lodge, known as the "Antients," in their Warrant No. 11, dated 18th June, 1755, called "The Antient Grand Lodge" - in Warrant No. 63, dated 14th April, 1757, called "The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons" - in Warrant No. 65, dated 27th December, 1757, called "The Most Antient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons" - in Warrant No. 15, dated 17th May, 1758, called "Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted York Masons" - in Warrant No. 44, later No. 47, called "The Grand Lodge &c according to old constitutions granted by His Royal Highness, Prince Edwin of York. Anno Domini - Nine Hundred Twenty & Six."
This Grand Lodge was also known as "The Atholl" Grand Lodge because the third and fourth Dukes of Atholl so long occupied the Grand Masters' chairs, and its members were known as "Antients," "Schismatics," "Seceders," Irish-Masons," etc., just as the members of the Mother Grand Lodge of 1717 variously called "The Modern Grand Lodge," "The Regular Grand Lodge," "The Constitutional Grand Lodge," were known as "Moderns" and "Prince of Wales Masons." As a matter of fact brethren of these rival Grand Lodges were frequently distinguished from each other by the names of their Grand Masters.
In the following short article, I will use the term "Antient" and "Modern" in referring to these respective Grand Lodges.
About the year 1740 the silk weaving business, which had for a century flourished in and around Dublin, Ireland, began to decline as the competition of the industry established in Spitalfields, London, attracted the operatives by the prospect of better wages and more settled conditions. Gradually the migration continued until finally whole "convoys" of these weavers crossed the Irish Channel and, with their families, settled in London. Amongst these settlers were numbers of Irish Freemasons. As a matter of fact, the first Antient Grand Lodge roll contained the names of many of these brethren; indeed, they formed a very large majority of the first adherents to this body. Following their names in the occupation column, hundreds of them are described as "Weavers from Dublin."
Amongst the members of Lodge No. 26, Dublin, was Laurence Dermott, who "had faithfully served all offices" and "had been regularly installed Master and Secretary upon the 25th day of June, 1746." Dermott was a painter by profession, clever and well educated; who, with many other members of this old lodge followed the stream of migration to London.
In the Modern Grand Lodge minutes of 11th December, 1735, we find the following recorded:
"Notice being given to the Grand Lodge that the Master and Wardens of a Lodge from Ireland, desiring to be admitted, by virtue of a deputation from the Lord Kingston, present Grand Master of Ireland. But it appearing there was no particular recommendation from his Lordship in this affair, their request could not be complied with unless they would accept a new; Constitution here."
What would be more natural than these Irishmen saying to each other, "Our Grand Master's Authority is as good and better than any New Constitution they can give us," therefore, in consequence of the Grand Lodge doors being closed in their faces, they naturally joined the "St. John's," or irregular lodges, nearest their place of residence in London, or by virtue of their "dispensation from Lord Kingston" assembled themselves in lodges of their own formation, free from the trammels of any higher authority. These lodges became the rallying ground for Irish Freemasons. In them they found a Masonic home in lodges, working their own beloved ritual and speaking the "Language of the Tribes." That such was the case is proved by the fact that in less than a score of years, after the refusal of the Moderns to recognize or admit the "Irish Deputation" as visitors into their aristocratic assembly, these very brethren and their lodges were strong enough to organize themselves into a Grand Lodge in 1753, a Grand Lodge that for sixty years was powerful enough to shake the very foundations of the Moderns, and in 1813, at the "Glorious Union," they practically dictated their own terms, which were akin to unconditional surrender by the Modern Grand Lodge. Many Masonic historians would have us believe they had been seceders, who, while far from believing their Grand Lodge more "Antient" than that of the Moderns, believed, and were undoubtedly correct in their belief, that their ceremonies, customs, ritual and procedure were more ancient.
In those early days, indeed, they were not looked upon as seceders, for Brother Heseltine, Grand Secretary
ON FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 1803.
A GRAND PROCESSION OF HIBERNIAN
ARE EXPECTED TO PARADE. CONTRARY TO THE LAWS,
BETWEEN THE HOURS OF TEN AND FOUR FROM
CORNHILL. TO A NEW BUILDING, PELL'S GARDENS.
RATCLIFF-HIGHWAY NEAR SALT-PETRE BANK.
FROM THENCE TO CANNONBURY HOUSE.
THIS SOCIETY IS CALLED THE
UNITED IRISHMANS WAKE OR ROYAL MARINERS LODGE.
The meeting will be conducted and headed by
TOMMY PEDLER, DEPUTY GRAND.
BOBBY SCOUT, GRAND SCRIBE.
AND PADDY O'BLARNEY, * MASTER OF THE CEREMONIES
(SUBORNER OF FALSE WITNESSES AGAINST AMERICAN
With other gentlemen of equal respectability, from that
Illustrious family at VINEGAR-HIDL near WEXFORD.
WE ADMIT MEN OF COLOUR, If unwilling to engage in
DESTROYING the ROYAL NAVAL and the REGULAR ANTIENT
CONSTITUTION which unfortunately for us has stood sev
eral thousand years and still appears like a rock &,
smiles at our attack. We have therefore come to this
resolution, that all persons who will REVOLT frolic THE
REGULAR ANTIENT ESTABLISHMENT, and VIOLATE the
MOST SACRED TIES, AS WE HAVE DONE, and who will exert
themselves in OVERTHROWING the REGULAR ORDER of
GOVERNMENT (will be admitted gratis)
SOME CHARITY CHILDREN will be procured and march,
from BILLY PAUNCH’S COAT SHED, GREEN BANK, of
DUNG WHARF, to sanction our proceedings, all under
the garb of Morality.
Doors to be opened every Wednesday evening
at 7 o'clock, at the VIRGINIA on Pells Street,
By Order of the Society,
PAT O'BLARNEY, * W. M.
MUNGO, TYLER AND LECTURE MASTER.
N. B. 15 Chimney Sweeps will attend the
Procession dressed in Masonic Paraphanalia.
REPAIR MY JEWELS, QUICK! To THE HIBERNIAN
RENEGADE LODGE, PELL'S STREET
*Read the PUBLIC LEDGER AND OTHER PAPERS OF FEB.
Another rod in pickle, PAT.
THOMPSON. PRINTER. 21 EAST SMITHFIELD. LONDON.
COPY OF "MODERN GRAND LODGE’S POSTER REVILING THE
"ANTIENTS” SIZE 22 X 17 1/2 INCH - 1803.
EXPLANATION OF THE POSTER
Tommy Pedler - Thomas Harper - D.G M. of the Antients. A goldsmith and jeweller in Fleet St.
Bobby Scout - Robert Leslie - Gd. Sec. Antients.
Billy Paunch - William Burwood - G.S.W. Antients. Coal merchant and tavern keeper at Green Bank, Wapping.
Royal Mariners' Lodge - Held in Virginia Coffee House, Corn Hill, and afterwards in their hall Pell St., Ratcliff.
This poster was written by one Doctor Francis Columbine Daniel, a Modern Mason initiated in Lodge No. 344. His intention was to bring ridicule upon the Antients, particularly on Thomas Harper, Robert Leslie and Miriam Burwood.
of the Moderns, in his famous letter of 8th August, 1767, says, "They are a set of men who first made their appearance about the year 1746." This does not look like schismaticism, and Heseltine would not have spared them if he could.
Laurence Dermott, in his appearance in the Antient Grand Lodge, was at once elected Grand Secretary by the powerful majority of Irish votes, and the "Ahiman Rezon," which he immediately proceeded to publish, bears a remarkable resemblance to "Spratts' Irish Constitutions." The title "Ahiman Rezon" was first used by and originated with Dermott.
About this period the "Moderns" so altered their ceremonies and ritual in many of their vital parts that the members of the Antient Grand Lodge, or the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland, were unable to work an entrance to the Modern Lodges or recognize each other in ancient Masonic manner.
On his election as Grand Secretary, Dermott had to undergo a "long and minute examination relative to Initiation, Passing, Installations, and general regulations, &c, &c, &c, and Brother John Morgan declared that Brother Laurence Dermott was duly <qualified for the office of Grand Secretary." Brother John Morgan was the late Grand Secretary of the Antients. If, therefore, Dermott was so well qualified on all points and had just arrived from Ireland, the Irish and Antient working must have been very close kin to each other if not exactly alike.
That the Moderns themselves acknowledged their formidable rival to be Irish we have ample proof. In 1766 an Antient Mason is described in their books as an "Irish York Mason." In 1776 the Antients are called the "Irish Faction." In 1786 Antient Warrants were referred to as "Irish Warrants," and Antient lodges were, in 1793, dubbed "Irish Lodges."
Nearly all the members of the first lodge in the Antient roll were Irishmen, many of them belonging to Lodge 26, Dublin, the lodge, as I said before, to which Dermott belonged - Dermott, now their Grand Secretary, and afterwards their Deputy Grand Master.
The Antients and the Grand Lodge of Ireland had the same method of affixing Grand Lodge seals. The seals were affixed on the same colored ribbons and in the same manner. The Moderns never used ribbons for seals or warrants at any time. The Irish warrants covered all degrees up to the Royal Arch, and often higher, as also did the warrants of the Antients.
The Irish and Antients had their certificates in Latin and English, the Moderns in English only.
The systems of registration in the books of the Irish Grand Lodge and those of the Antients, their Book of Constitutions, their By-Laws of private lodges, Grand Lodge seals, etc., etc., were very similar if not exactly alike, and both entirely different from those of the Moderns.
Naturally the Grand Lodge of Ireland extended a speedy and hearty recognition to this Irish-born Grand Lodge. From the minutes of the Grand Lodge of the Antients, March 1,1758, we learn from a letter under the hand of Brother John Calder, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, that "The Grand Lodge of Ireland did mutually concur in a strict union with the Antient Grand Lodge in London, and promised to keep up a constant correspondence with them." "Ordered that the Grand Secretary shall draw up and answer in the most respectful and Brotherly terms, wherein the general thanks of this Grand Lodge shall be conveyed, and assure them that we will, to the utmost of our powers, promote the welfare of the Craft in General." From the date of that recognition, in 1758, to the date of the International Compact, in 1814, the fraternal communications with the Grand Lodge of the Moderns ceased, so much so that wherever the Grand Lodge of England is mentioned it was the Grand Lodge of the Antients that was meant.
While the relations with the Moderns were thus severed, year by year official compliments were regularly passed between the Grand Lodge of Ireland and the Antients.
The Grand Lodge of Scotland was almost as uncompromising in holding aloof from the Grand Lodge of the Moderns. It was not until the International Compact restored homogeneity to the Freemasonry of the British Isles that she dropped her hostility. As a matter of fact, the Grand Lodges of both Ireland and Scotland, as well as the Antients, seem to have been ignored by the Grand Lodge of the Moderns, nor did this Grand body seem to have greatly cared to extend its fraternal relations to any of them; perhaps its aristocratic learnings inclined it to view with supreme indifference, the claims of brethren who had their being in less favored social circles.
The right of visitation was refused and the Grand Lodge of Ireland felt constrained to place in their minutes a resolution, "That they do not feel it possible to make any order for the admission of 'Modern' Masons into Antient Lodges."
In 1759 the Moderns refused assistance to the Irish Brother, William Carroll. The Irish Committee of Charity followed the ill-omened example by turning down every application for relief from adherents of the Moderns. The Grand Master of Ireland, William, Duke of Leinster, assisted by the Grand Master of Scotland, installed the Duke of Atholl as Grand Master of the Antients in 1775; conversely, in 1786, the Earl of Antrim, Grand Master of the Antients, presided in the Grand Lodge of Ireland on St. John's Day, signing the minutes as "Grand Master of England."
After several years fencing and compromise, in which there had to be a great deal of "give and take," the spirit of brotherhood overcame all other feelings and interests; the "Glorious Union of December, 1813," happily united these warring factions, and the Antients and Moderns joined hands to form "The United Grand Lodge of England.” This was followed, in 1814, by the International Compact, the most important official document ever promulgated among English-speaking Freemasons, which settled forever all points of communion, intercourse and fraternization between the Grand Lodge of Ireland, the Grand Lodge of Scotland and the United Grand Lodge of England.
Can anyone, in the face of such evidence, believe that these Antient brethren were "Seceders," "Rebels" or "Schismatics"? The stigma has been on the fair name of the Antient Grand Lodge so long it appears only fair to let Ireland again "come into her own," give Irish Freemasons credit for the salvation of Craft Masonry at a period when Modern rubbish was beginning to bury the ancient foundations under a landslide of quasi-Masonic ceremonies, and call the Antient Grand Lodge by its proper name, the "Anglo-Irish Grand Lodge."
It is on record that the Fourth Duke of Atholl, about nine months before he attained his majority, on March 1, 1775, was initiated, passed, raised, installed as Master and elected as Grand Master all in one day. - The Masonic Record.
Masonic Knowledge a Necessity
By THE EDITOR
One of the chief obstacles in the path of the great enterprise of Masonic education is the feeling that a knowledge of the Craft is a luxury in which a few may indulge themselves, but has no other function or need. As a matter of fact, nothing is more necessary to us all. To carry on our work as Masons without a clear understanding of what we are about and how to do it, is as impossible as to run a business, with no understanding of trade or commerce.
If one of us untravelled persons were to be unexpectedly abandoned in the heart of Paris he would find himself in a predicament; he could not make his wants known to the nauves with their so different tongue; he could not find himself about the streets with unintelligible names; he would not even know how to protect himself against possible dangers in a place with the ways of which he had no familiarity at all. In such a pass a man might unwittingly do something exceedingly rash, or he might stand miserably still and do nothing, or, what would be even more unpleasant, might, by his untaught actions, make himself ridiculous. To become the butt of ridicule is not by any means the least of misfortune.
This is a picture, over-coloured perhaps, yet not greatly exaggerated, of the plight in which an initiate finds himself after he has been raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason and given the freedom of the lodge. In the new world into which he has been born he hears a language with which he is only a little familiar; he is set to do unwonted tasks; he is at great difficulty to find his way about among rules, rites and customs that are as unlike the habits of the outside world as anything could be. It is perfectly obvious that this man must do one of two things; he must quietly retreat and not run the risks of activity where he knows so little, or else he must learn something about the great organization with which he has united.
In the old days when Masons were engaged in the actual tasks of erecting buildings, the initiate was not thus left to his own devices, but was indentured to a Master Mason obligated to teach him the rudiments of the trade; he was instructed carefully in the rules of a lodge; and he was not permitted to engage in the occupations of a builder until he had learned something of the art. Above all, he was not allowed to sit idly by, or to have no further connection with the lodge except to pay his dues. The officers saw to it that he was given his place, set his task, and instructed in his new calling.
Lodges and Grand Lodges of Speculative Masonry - which is engaged in building men rather than cathedral, a more delicate and difficult task - are beginning to learn anew the necessity for some such instruction of the initiate. They believe it is unfair to expect a man to learn all about so complicated a thing by himself; they are seeing that it is expecting too much of him to become active in such a Craft out of his own initiative. Consequently, they are beginning to encourage the organization of Study Clubs, to create an adequate and intelligible literature, and to stimulate interest in Masonry among Masons. Also it is coming more generally to be understood that petitioning for membership in a lodge is in itself a tacit agreement to assist in carrying on the lodge's activities, and that a member, by virtue of his membership, is honour bound to learn something about Masonry in order that he may take his place and fulfil his duties, so that the individual himself is more and more feeling the need for some sort of education in the arts, parts and mysteries of Freemasonry. One thing is certain: a man cannot hope to pass through the chairs with credit to himself, or engage in any other activity of his lodge, or enjoy his own rights and privileges in Masonry, or ever have a true and intelligent understanding of Masonry, without a little study of it. Such study is not a luxury for the few, but a necessity for the many; it is a duty, a practical need.
There is much to learn about Masonry, because it is so very great. There are, more than two and three-quarters of millions of men under the obedience of Grand Lodges in this land alone; and there are nearly three-quarters of a million brethren living in foreign lands, if it is allowable to call any land foreign to a Mason who believes that
"God hath made mankind one vast brotherhood, Himself the Master, and the world His Lodge."
There are in the United States more than 700,000 Royal Arch Masons; about 275,000 members of the Council and about 375,000 Knights Templars; in the Scottish Rite bodies are some 500,000, and the Shrine, which is so closely allied to the Masonic bodies strictly so called, has passed the 500,000 mark.
THE CRAFT IS A COMPLICATED STRUCTURE
The life of this vast fraternity is almost as rich and multifarious as that of a nation of people, so that the organizations necessary to carry forward such an amount of activity are numerous and, to the novice, bewilderingly complicated. The first three degrees, Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason, are administered under the jurisdiction of lodges and Grand Lodges, and together comprise what is familiarly known as the Blue Lodge - more accurately called Symbolical, or Ancient Craft Masonry.
The four degrees called Capitular (meaning done in a chapter) are conferred in a Royal Arch Chapter, and these chapters, in most cases, are under the supervision of the General Grand Chapter Royal Arch Masons. The three Cryptic degrees (having reference to a vault or underground passage) are conferred in a Council, and councils are under the jurisdiction of the General Grand Council, Royal and Select Masters. The three Templar degrees (so called from connection through tradition with the Temple at Jerusalem) are conferred in a Commandery, and commanderies are governed by a Grand Encampment of Knights Templars.
The thirty Scottish Rite degrees are conferred in the Southern Jurisdiction by four separate bodies; four to fourteen, inclusive, in a Lodge of Perfection; fifteen to eighteen, inclusive, in a Chapter of Rose-Croix; nineteen to thirty, inclusive, in a Council of Kadosh; and thirty-one and thirty-two, inclusive, in a Consistory. The thirty-third degree is conferred in Supreme Council. In the Northern Jurisdiction these degrees are differently distributed, as follows: four to fourteen, inclusive, in Lodge of Perfection; fifteen and sixteen, inclusive, in Council, Princes of Jerusalem; seventeen and eighteen, inclusive, in Chapter Rose Croix; nineteen to thirty-two, inclusive, in Consistory; and thirty-third in Supreme Council. There are two Supreme Councils, one the Northern, having jurisdiction over all Consistories north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi, and the Southern, which rules over all other states.
In addition to all these bodies, which comprise what may literally and accurately be described as Freemasonry in this land, there are scores of auxiliary, or non-Masonic bodies, closely allied and requiring Masonic membership, or blood relatives in Masonic membership: the Shrine; Eastern Star; Grotto; Sciots; Tall Cedars; Red Cross of Constantine; Rainbow; Job's Daughters; Daughters of Nile; National League of Masonic Clubs; Masonic Service Association, etc.
The majority of Masons never go farther (as we say) than the Blue Lodge, but it would be a mistake to assume that Blue Lodge Masonry is elementary or simple; on the contrary, it is something very profound and world-wide so that a man may devote himself to the study of it for a lifetime and never come to the end. The winning of Masonic knowledge properly begins with the first three degrees, and with the magnificent organizations built up about them, and the equally magnificent and very humane activities through which they express themselves in the life of men.
In this land all Blue Lodges operate under the authority of Grand Lodges, of which we have forty-nine, one for each state, including the District of Columbia. Each Grand Lodge is sovereign and supreme in its own jurisdiction and will permit no other Masonic authority whatever to organize lodges inside its boundaries, a principle known as "the doctrine of exclusive jurisdiction." Attempts have been ever since the eighteenth century to organize a National Grand Lodge, and even now an occasional individual raises a plea for such a body, but it is pretty certain that such a thing will never be, for it would require every Grand Lodge to depart from its own constitutions and landmarks, and that is impossible to contemplate.
But while these Grand Lodges are thus separate and apart, like independent political states, there is another sense in which they are all one, because they employ the same ritual (except for various modifications to be studied in these pages in the future) and adhere to a set of landmarks, customs and practices which render it possible for them to cooperate in many ways. When a Grand Lodge believes that some other Grand Lodge has wandered from the true Masonic path it withdraws Fraternal Recognition, as we say, and forbids its members visiting in any of the subordinate bodies of the offending Grand Lodge. (Kansas and New Hampshire have recently suffered such a split.) Each Grand Lodge maintains its own institutions, charities, set of officers, has its own traditions, landmarks and history. Nothing is more fascinating than to study how all these Grand Bodies maintain a real and deeply rooted unity in spite of all their differences, and nothing is more necessary to a Mason than such a study, unless he is content to remain in utter ignorance of Freemasonry.
"IT IS THE DEAD WHO GOVERN"
When a Mason comes to learn about this world-encircling organization which has conferred on him the honours of membership, he will discover that these lodges, chapters, councils, and commanderies and consistories, are one and all governed by the past in a way true of no other institution except the Roman Catholic Church. The great saying so beloved of Albert Pike is almost literally true among us, that it is the dead who govern, the living who obey. Freemasonry cannot initiate a candidate, or pass a law, or strike out on any new path whatever without first consulting its own history; nor can any man capture the most elementary understanding of the work of any or all of the degrees except he first learn something of that story.
Freemasonry is a structure in which there are a few things new and many things old; in which there are stones, statues, pictures, pedestals, capitals and carvings from every nation under the sun, and inscribed with all the languages of the world, living or dead, so that if one is to trace out the origin and meaning of each thing in it he will have to travel far through many records and make acquaintance with all mankind. Every scribe who has ever tried to write a history of Masonry has encountered this difficulty, that he does not know where or when to begin, and is embarrassed to discover how to crowd into one book a story that touches upon all the ages and borrows something from almost every civilization and culture that has ever existed. The evolutions and affiliations of our ritual, philosophy, symbology, jurisprudence and history go out in all directions and in some way link onto tribes and people whom most of us have utterly forgotten, and in many cases of whom few of us have ever heard. The rank and file cannot, of course, ever have the wish or opportunity to acquaint themselves with so rich and inexhaustible a history as this, but everyone, unless he is content to remain in utter ignorance, must learn something of it all in broad outline and in principle. If we are going to abide by the ancient landmarks we must understand what the landmarks are, and what they mean.
This great Society is a vast and complicated organism, and to govern and manage it is in itself almost a profession. There are many offices to be filled; many tasks to be performed; many committees to serve; laws to pass, interpret and enforce; and there are millions of dollars invested in building and charity funds which must be protected and wisely administered. The rules and regulations for carrying on such activities make up Masonic jurisprudence, and that also is a subject rich in interest, about which each Mason must learn something.
Meanwhile this Society is at work in the world today, as it should be, influencing the lives of men and helping to shape the policy of nations. Things are going on somewhere all the time, and Masons, in the name of their obedience, are helping carry forward the work of the world. Unless one is content to live blindly in his lodge, and continue untouched by the breath of the rife that quickens everywhere, he will need to know something about Masonic history as it is now making itself. The past that we inherit is not a dead thing that lies inertly in our possession; it is alive and moving, creating today and shaping the unborn tomorrows.
MASONRY IS FULL OF RICHES
Outside of and apart from all this - perhaps I should have said, over and above all this - there remains the discovery of what a privilege it is to be a Mason. In our mysteries there are unsearchable riches for the individual mind. Some of these days a fine and beautiful literature will grow out of the Masonic life; dramas will be written, poems created, music composed and pictures painted to express the secret gifts which the Craft is able to confer on the heart and imagination of the private member. We shall discover ourselves in ownership of a treasure, the value of which we have until now largely overlooked, and we shall want to appropriate for our own uses all these unsearchable riches.
Thus it comes about that the study of Masonry is not a thing for students merely, for the few, carried on in bookish corners to satisfy a craving for erudition, but is the breath and moving power and active wisdom of all, without which it is impossible for lodges and Grand Lodges to get forward with their business, or for individuals ever to enter into the fullness of the inheritance which is theirs. Its purpose is to put Masons into possession of their Masonry, and to make Masonry prevail in the world.
By Bro. HENRY TAYLOR, Missouri
In the candidate's experiences of initiation the hoodwink plays a larger part than we are wont to think. To him it is one of the most impressive of the things that are done to him. Being darkened, his other senses are all the more alert; what he touches, hears or smells takes on an added significance. His imagination is aroused, everything becomes magnified, so that some of the simplest things done about him, steps taken or words said, assume almost terrifying magnitudes. His fears and apprehensions are abnormally active. In this state he is, so far as his emotions and mind are concerned, in a state of such impressibility that every stage of his experience leaves behind it an indelible memory. The reader may verify this for himself by recalling his own impressions, especially of his First Degree, though there were times afterwards when his being in darkness possessed an even greater power to move him to fear and awe. It is, no doubt, because darkness heightens all the sensibilities, and thereby increases the effect of the ceremonies, that the Hoodwink is used. It is an instrument of psychological effect.
This was early discovered by those in charge of initiations, for it is a matter of record that in the most ancient ceremonies the candidate was made to walk in darkness, either by shutting all light from the room or by the use of the Hoodwink. It was so in the ceremonies of Eleusis, of Isris and of Mithras; it was doubtless so in a hundred other secret fraternities of which no records remain to us.
As regards our own rites, it should be carefully noted that the purpose of the Hoodwink is not to hide things from the candidate. There is nothing to hide. Moreover, all that there is is later on revealed, for the Hoodwink is removed in the early part of the ceremonies. The Hoodwink is a thing to be used to bring about a certain state of mind, and to suggest certain ideas, and may, therefore, be classified as a symbol.
Like the manner in which the candidate finds himself clothed, and the way whereby he finds himself rendered helpless and utterly dependent on his guides, the Hoodwink may be considered as a symbol of the weakness and destitution of the uninitiated. Initiation is a process of birth into a new world, or into a new relation, or into a new order of experience: relative to that new world into which he is about to enter, the candidate is like the babe unborn, a helpless creature lying bound in its mother's womb. Accordingly he is in darkness: not yet born he has no use of his eyes, and no light whereby to see if he could use them.
The effect and meaning of the Hoodwink, as the candidate himself knows and feels it, may be thus interpreted, but there is a larger meaning to the Hoodwink, considered as a thing apart, as one of the many symbols of the lodge, which, if we will consider it aright, will lead us into an order of ideas from which much light flows. Indeed, I have come to believe, after some study of the matter, that the Hoodwink, and the rites and experiences attendant upon it, deserves a place among the outstanding landmarks (if I may thus use a word usually reserved for other connections) of our system of symbolism.
In searching for its meaning as one of the major symbols it is significant to note that the Hoodwink is removed (symbolically, that is) by the declaration that there must be light, and that there is light. When the light comes the darkness flees away. The lodge does not cause anything to come into existence that was not already there; it creates nothing; it furnishes the candidate with no new faculties or senses; it furnishes nothing but light.
All this is true in a great way of human experience everywhere. The "profane" is one to whom a thing has not yet been revealed; he cannot see. But it is not because anyone has deliberately and arbitrarily forbidden him to see; his blindness is in himself, and is his own fault. There at his side is the object of his search, or, it may be, the great truth of which he has dreamed, but he sees nothing of either because his eyes are holden. When he has learned how to open his eyes, light comes and he can make his own that for which he has searched. The real initiation is an internal awakening whereby he who before was blind to that which lay before him can now behold it, who now can make his own that which he needs.
In another order of speech this is fitly called "revelation," which word carries within itself its own truest definition. Revelation does not create that which did not before exist; it lifts the veil and makes apparent. One stands before a window which opens out upon a range of the Alps, but the blind is drawn and the mountains are as if they were not; then the blind is lifted and the mountains stand forth to the eye. That is a picture of what takes place in revelation.
When the first man drew breath in this life it was true that objects acted toward each other in that invariable manner which we describe as gravity, but this gravity was as though it were not until at last, in this far end of history, Sir Isaac Newton found his Hoodwink lifted and his eyes opened. That same first man walked about upon a spherical earth which turned upon its own axis and revolved about the sun, but it was not until Copernicus and his followers learned to see this which had so long existed that for us it became a fact. In both cases nothing was created, a blind was lifted.
When in our own lodges the candidate is brought to light it is in order that he may have unimpeded vision of the Great Lights of Masonry, which same lie before him as symbolized by the Holy Book, the Square and the Compasses. Now there is no need here that we undertake an interpretation of these symbols; it will be understood what are the realities represented by them. The point is to note that the things for the sake of which Masonry exists are things that Masonry did not bring into existence and which are in no sense its private property. Always and forever God is, and God is the Father of us all; always and forever man is the brother of man, whatever man himself may believe about it; always and forever the human being is immortal, and all the laws of righteousness are as universal and immutable as gravity itself. But just as the law of gravitation was hidden from human minds for millennia of time until there came minds capable of seeing it, so with these matters, the purpose of the Masonic initiation is to "open the young man's eyes" in order that he may be brought into possession of those truths. Masonry does not create, it reveals, and the removal of the Hoodwink symbolizes that fact.
In the case of the scientists above mentioned the act of vision came after a long intellectual preparation. That intellectual preparation was to them their own proper internal initiation. In making one's own those moral and spiritual realities of which Masonry is composed, and which is its function to put into the possession of its initiates, something more than intellectual preparation is required, though it must ever be remembered that Masonry is a patron of education and the sciences, as well as of the moral and religious life. A preparation of the whole man is needed, of the hands, the ears, the emotions, the memories, as well as the intellect.
For it is true that, as the old saying attributed to St Francis has it, "We know as much as we are." In proportion as a man grows impure all that is meant by purity ceases to exist or grows remote and apparently unreal. "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." In proportion as a man develops the habit of lying and of being a lie, the truth will fly from him and seem to vanish. The pathway to moral reality lives through character.
This, I believe, holds true of that which is the search of searches, the one Grand Object of all Initiation - the knowledge of God. Why is it that to so many men God is as though He were not? It is not because God Himself sets out to conceal Himself from His own children; it is not because, for some profound reasons of providence or creation, it is necessary that God veil Himself. It is because these men have never made that internal preparation whereby alone God can be known. The path to Him is the most secret of all paths, not because He has arbitrarily chosen to make it so, but because it leads through the hidden motives of the heart and the innermost chambers of the soul. One of our poets has written of this with penetration:
"I made a pilgrimage to find the God;
I listened for His voice at holy tombs,
Searched for the prints of His immortal feet
In the dust of broken altars; yet turned back
With empty heart. But on the homeward road
A great light came upon me and I heard
The God's voice ringing in a nesting lark;
Felt His sweet wonder in a growing rose;
Received His blessing from a wayside well;
Looked on His beauty in a lover's face;
Saw His bright hand send signal from the sun."
We can afford to ignore the note of unreal sentimentality in these lines in order that they may furnish us with a concrete picture of that which is the ultimate secret in all initiations whatsoever. As you read, as I write, God is about us each; He is here as surely as He is in any other world whatsoever; we are as well able to find Him here and to know Him here as we shall ever be. There is no veil between us and some other world in which He dwells; this world in which we live is as much His world as any, and He is here if only we can learn to know Him. And we can learn to know Him if we rightly practice the profound saying that the pure in heart shall see him. The gentle Linnaeus inscribed over his doorway the sentence, "Live innocently, God is present." We might, without irreverence to that wise teacher, reverse the saying to read, "If you live innocently God will be here." For all knowledge comes to us through the soul, and if the soul itself is veiled and clouded by passion and untruth, how shall we know? How shall we know anything that is worth knowing? "If thy heart were right," says Thomas a' Kempis, "all creatures would be to thee a book of holy doctrine."
These reflections have conducted us to the true meaning, I venture to believe, of esotericism, or of Occultism. There is and can be no esotericism in the sense that God has whispered into the ears of a few favourites the ultimate truths and left the rest to us, the uncounted millions of the rest of us, outside the closed circle of those knowing ones. There is no esotericism in the sense that in order to discover any truth we must join some secret society. No secret society in existence, one may venture to say with a touch of dogmatism, possesses any truth that the wise men of the earth have not long ago discovered. The truths taught by all the occult fraternities are truths that men tell each other on the street corners. But there is a true esotericism, one may say that it is almost an eternal esotericism, for it is inconceivable that it will ever cease to be, and it consists in this, that truth is possessed only by those who are inwardly prepared to possess it. A man who possesses the light may help another to see it; may teach him many things that help him to open his eyes, but after all is done the major part remains to the seeker himself. He must open out the paths through his own mind and heart; he must inwardly prepare himself. Until he does the light cannot be his, and to him those who do possess it are living in an esoteric privilege.
Of the inward and constitutional lack of faculty, the Hoodwink is the fitting symbol. It stands for that darkness which is due, not to accident, or to tyranny, but to a lack in the soul itself, which the darkened one alone has the means to remove.
GREAT MEN WHO WERE NOT MASONS
I am greatly indebted to you for recent assistance, and also for opportunity to see Masons as Makers of America, by Dr. Madison Peters. I note that Dr. Peters claims Sam Adams for the fraternity, but you write that he was not a Mason. The Grand Secretary of Massachusetts has also written that he was not.
I also read in some Masonic literature, issued I believe by the Grand Lodge of New York, that James Madison was a Mason, but you say that he was not. Dr. Peters says he was. I wish we could prove Peters right because Madison had a chief hand in writing the Constitution of the United States.
Accuracy is needed in these matters and I hope you are bent on accuracy and nothing less than accuracy. Once we learn who were and who were not Masons we can proceed more intelligently in our account of the part Masonry has played in American life.
I hope you will find out positively about General Winfield Scott, General Meade, Admiral Farragut and Admiral Dewey.
Lincoln was not a Mason. I once wrote John Hay, who was one of Lincoln's two secretaries, to ask that question, and he replied in the negative. Neither can we claim former President Charles W. Eliot of Harvard for our membership. He has written me himself to that effect.
Henry R. Rose, New Jersey.
You are right, Brother Rose, in demanding accuracy in these matters; to claim every great man right and left, regardless of proof, is a piece of vulgarity from which we shall profit nothing. Meanwhile, let us have for THE BUILDER your own findings in regard to these important matters, yours and any other brother's who may be similarly at work. As for accuracy we may reply in the words of the girl in The Lady of the Decoration, that "we do our darnedest."
Great Men Who Were Masons
Commodore Edward Preble
By Bro.GEO. W. BAIRD, P.G.M., District of Columbia
THOUGH it is not familiar to the average , citizen, Edward Preble's is one of the best known names in the history of the Naval Service, and one of the most interesting. He was born in 1761 on what was then called Falmouth Neck, Maine, the site of the now populous city of Portland. He died there in 1807, and was buried in the old Eastern Cemetery, the grave being marked by "a simple stone, with the inscription, 'In memory of Edward Preble of the United States Navy. Died August 25, 1807, aged 46 years. Commodore of the U. S. S. Constitution.'" "Commodore" was a title of courtesy and was, and still is, bestowed upon an officer commanding more than one ship. The first commission our government ever issued to a commodore was to D. G. Farragut in 1862.
Except for the very modest stone above mentioned no memorial to Commodore Preble is in existence; but there is a very superior portrait in oils at the Naval Academy, a reproduction of which accompanies this article. I am indebted to Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, present Superintendent of the Academy, for this courtesy.
Edward Preble began his career as a sailor on board a privateer in 1777 and continued two years in that service. All ships depended on sails in those times, so that life was strenuous from the time anchor was weighed until it was let go again and the sails clewed up and furled. It was an imperative thing that a youth know how to knot and splice, as well as to reef and furl; such education left little time for leisure, but it built into his nature the habits of industry and discipline.
In 1779 our hero entered the provincial marine of Massachusetts as a midshipman, the duties of which were not so strenuous so that he found some time for study. It is remarkable to discover how much he, and other men under similar circumstances, managed to learn from books. He was in the action between the Protector and the British privateer General Duff during the Revolution. Afterwards he was captured and confined on the prison ship Jersey in the harbor of New York. When released he joined the Massachusetts war vessel Winthrop and remained with that ship until 1782, during which period he once distinguished himself by boarding, with fourteen men, an armed brig lying off Castine and carrying her off under fire of the enemy's shore batteries. After peace was declared Preble returned to the merchant service, in which he remained fifteen years. The nation was too poor at that time to afford a navy in peace times.
In 1799 he was commissioned a lieutenant in the Navy and was given command of the Pickering, a small ship stationed in the Windward Islands; but later, in the same year, was promoted to a captaincy and given command of the Essex. While on this command he once convoyed home from Batavia a fleet of fourteen merchant vessels to prevent their being pillaged by the French, who were then preying on our commerce.
In 1803 he was placed in command of the fleet sent by our Government against Tripoli, his flag ship being the old Constitution. He came to anchor with a part of his squadron at Tangier and there carried on the negotiations that prevented a war with Morocco. A month later he declared a blockade of Tripoli. The Philadelphia, under command of Captain Bainbridge, had been run upon the rock by the Tripoli seamen and thus captured, but was afterwards destroyed at anchor by Lieutenant Decatur, also a Mason, in February, 1804.
On July 25 of the same year Captain Preble appeared before Tripoli with fifteen vessels, including eight small ships borrowed from the Neapolitan government, and began an attack, which he concentrated on the Tripolitan squadron, protected by shore batteries. Of these he captured three and sunk three more. On the 7th he made another attack, but with less success, as the Tripolitans remained nearer shore. In this attack he lost one of his own vessels. He renewed the attack on the 28th, upon which one of the enemy vessels was sunk, two were driven ashore and the others retreated; during this engagement the Constitution itself lay nearly an hour within pistol shot of the mole to deliver a destructive fire on the town batteries. A week later Preble once again returned to the attack, but this time was so hotly repelled that he was obliged to haul off his whole fleet. The Intrepid was then converted into a fire ship, with one hundred barrels of powder and one hundred and fifty shells above the powder, which Captain Somers and Lieutenant Wadsworth, with thirteen men, volunteered to take into the harbor to explode; but the shore batteries opened successful fire upon her and exploded her prematurely, and not one of the volunteers escaped. Soon afterwards Captain Samuel Barron arrived aboard the frigate President and relieved Preble of command. Upon his return to the United States Preble was given the thanks of Congress and a gold medal.
The Grand Secretary of Massachusetts writes me that Edward Preble was initiated in St. Andrews Lodge, Boston, May 8, 1783, and took the Fellowcraft Degree February 9, 1786.
THE STRUGGLE FOR MENTAL LIBERTY
HISTORY OF FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, J. B. Bury, No. 69 of Home University Library. Published by Henry Holt & Company. Cloth, 252 pp., bibliography, index. May be purchased through book department of the National Masonic Research Society.
AFTER the collapse of the civilization of the Roman Empire there gradually grew up in its place another civilization which may be described as Medievalism, and which found its perfect and adequate literary expression in Dante's Divine Comedy and in Thomas Aquinas's Summa, and which reached its most perfect political and moral expression in the Holy Inquisition. The root of this entire system was supernaturalism. Men devoutly believed that over and outside of this known human world there stands another, a non-human world, in which alone is truth, and life, and God; between these two worlds was a wall great and high through which no mortal could make his way. But it was further believed that this wall had been broken through from the other side, and that there had been built up in the human world a great supernatural organization by means of which men could be governed out of heaven, and this organization was known as the Roman Catholic Church, which was not a church at all, in the present day sense, but a world order having final authority over everything, so that in its keeping were the keys of heaven and hell, and all other things beside. Under such a system it was deemed a crime for men to think or act for themselves, because in their own nature there was nothing but corruption and error. This system lay on Europe like an incubus until at last it had destroyed science, mutilated art, and left the mind of man atrophied and afraid.
Such a state of affairs could not be indefinitely tolerated, for man has in himself a craving for life and more life that cannot forever be brooked; therefore, under the leadership of brave and mighty souls a war was made upon Medievalism until at last it was broken and shattered, and left like a mossy ruin on a hill apart. The history of this struggle between light and darkness, between life and death, between freedom and slavery is one of the most thrilling and enthralling in all the annals of our race, and in that history there is no chapter so illuminating as that which tells of how we men wrested from authoritativeness the right to think for ourselves, and to shape our lives to happiness in the world as it actually is.
This history is on record in a number of works of great scholarship, among which are these: History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, by W. E. H. Lecky; History of the Warfare of Science With Theology in Christendom, by A. D. White; A Short History of Free-thought, Ancient and Modern, by J. M. Robertson; The History of English Rationalism in the Nineteenth Century, by A. W. Benn; A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, by H. Lea; History of Freedom and Other Essays, by Lord Acton; the Cambridge Medieval History, to which many specialists contributed; and The Conflict Between Science and Religion, by J. W. Draper.
The difficulty with all these works, so far as the average busy man is concerned, is that they require an amount of erudition and of time which he does not always have at his disposal, so that he is like one who cannot travel in a country for lack of means to enter it. It is this fact that helps us to appreciate the value of the little book, A History of Freedom of Thought, by J. B. Bury. Professor Bury is one of the very chief of living scholars and historians, as the reader will know who has seen his History of Greece, History of the Eastern Roman Empire, History of the Later Roman Empire, and his piquant book on St. Patrick. In the History of the Freedom of Thought, to which it is the purpose of the present essay to call attention, he writes with as much scholarship as in his larger works, but he has designed it in matter and manner so as to make it easy to read by those who have not a large background of historical knowledge. It is published as No. 69 of The Home University Library, produced by the Henry Holt & Company. It contains only 250 pages, in clear and pungent language, along with an index and a bibliography.
There are seven chapters in addition to an Introduction, the titles of which will more quickly convey a sense of the scope and sweep of the book than any amount of description: Reason Free ( Greece and Rome); Reason in Prison (The Middle Ages); Prosspect of Deliverance (The Renaissance and The Reformation); Religious Toleration; The Growth of Rationalism (Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries); The Progress of Rationalism (Nineteenth Century); and The Justification of Liberty of Thought.
There are faults here and there, as goes without saying, and there are some over-statements born out of a burning zeal for his subject, but such shortcomings are of little consequence; the principal thing is that Professor Bury infects his reader with his own enthusiasm for the cause of Freedom of Thought, and at the same time furnishes him with a clear outline of the story of how men have striven to wrest themselves free from superstition without and within. This is sufficient to recommend the work to us Masons, for if there is anything true of Freemasonry it is that it exists to break a lance in the warfare for humanity, and teaches to all men the goodness and graces of toleration, freedom, enlightenment, and the utmost liberty of the mind. "Let there be light," such is the Masonic word; we have need of every possible aid in making that word prevail, because there yet remains in the world, for all the upheavals that have taken place in it, a vast amount of bigotry, ignorance and fanaticism.
A GREAT WORK ON SYMBOLISM
The Symbolism of Churches and Church Ornaments, a Translation of the First Book of the Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, written by William Durandus, with an Introductory Essay and Notes by J. M. Neale and Benj. Webb. Third Edition. Published by Gibbings & Company, London. May be purchased through the National Masonic Research Society.
WILLIAM DURANDUS was born in Provonce in or near the year 1220. He first attracted general attention by a learned work on canon law; afterwards he became, in turn, Chaplain to Pope Clement IV; Auditor of the Sacred Palace; a captain of Papal Forces, in which office he proved himself a soldier fearless and valiant, and lastly Bishop of Mende, a high office of which he became incumbent in 1286. It was during this bishopric that he composed the work here under review, described by the learned editors as being "the most valuable work on Symbolism which the Middle Ages can furnish."
The Rationale was the first book, except for works of the Biblical writers, ever to pass through the printing press. It first appeared from the press of Fust in 1459, which was eight years after the reputed natal date of Christopher Columbus. Thirteen editions appeared during the fifteenth century and thirteen during the sixteenth. The edition here noted was translated from the editions of 1473 and 1599.
Nothing but praise can be said of this translation. the editors contribute, out of their own wisdom, a wonderfully beautiful Introductory Essay on symbolism that one will find it hard to equal for quiet insight and gentle, almost delicate, expression. As for the text itself, that is more perfect still, as chaste in manner as a classic and always instinct with beauty. William Durandus has been well dealt with by his friends after these four hundred years.
To our brethren of those old times a church was not the same thing as among us, but far more; it was a place in which to worship; a shrine of the actual presence of God; a community center; a public exhibition of art, and a great writing in stone and wood which the common folk loved to ponder over in a time before the printed page was dreamed of. Into the facades of the greater buildings the Masons somehow managed to incorporate, by sculpture, picture and inscription, almost all of the then known knowledge, so that a cathedral was not only a Bible, as Ruskin once described it with happy inspiration, embowering the mysteries of redemption, but also an encyclopaedia crowded with the equally sacred mysteries of the arts and sciences. Properly considered, those old structures remain until now as an index rerum of the best that was thought and known in the Middle Ages, so that one gains a new insight into the length, and breadth, and height of the genius of the operative builders who wrought their lives and souls into their work.
A church, then, was far more than a building. Every part and detail of it had many meanings and uses. A post had to serve as the suggestion of the pillars of wisdom as well as to uphold a roof; a door was the hint of an entrance into divine things as well as the means of admittance to a room; the roof, and the tiles upon it, the lintel, the door posts, the capitals, the aisles, the altar, and each and every other detail served the many purposes of thought and imagination and fancy as well as of utility. The people went to read and to think as well as to worship, for their churches were structures of theology and of the arts more than buildings.
How natural it was for the builders and architects of these wonderful old edifices to transform their own work into a ritual, their tools into emblems and their guilds into mysteries of thought and religion! In this we have a plain hint, so it appears to the writer, of the origin of our own ritual, for the men who created Freemasonry were the same men that built the churches of which William Durandus wrote with such enduring genius.
Students of our Masonic symbolism are advised to possess themselves of this work. They will find in it many a hint as to the original meanings of much that we witness on our lodge floors and in our emblems. Here and there are explanations of the meaning of the altar, circumambulation, orientation, colors, sacred numbers, the cross, degrees, allegory, the Agnus Dei, cement, crypts, the door, entrance, Maundy Thursday, sanctuary, stones, tiles, veils, walls, and countless other such subjects as we Masons have become familiar with.
AS YOU MAKE IT
To the preacher, life's a sermon,
To the joker, it's a jest;
To the miser, life is money
To the loafer, life is rest.
To the lawyer, life's a trial
To the poet, life's a song;
To the doctor, life's a patient
Who needs treatment right along.
To the soldier, life's a battle
To the teacher, life's a school,
Life's a good thing to the grafter
It's a failure to the fool.
To the man upon the engine
Life's a long and heavy grade;
It's a gamble to the gambler,
To the merchant, life is trade.
Life is but a long vacation
To the man who loves to work;
Life's an everlasting effort
To shun duty, to the shirk.
Life is what we try to make it -
Brother, what is life to you ?
- E. S. Kiser, in The Craftsman.
* * *
THE LOT OF US
"There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it best becomes the best of us
To praise the best in the worst of us,
And ill becomes the worst of us
To mock at the faults in the best of us.
Then let the best and the worst of us
Extol the good in the both of us
And hide the fault in the lot of us."
- Joaquin Miller.
URGENT NECESSITY FOR MORE RESEARCH
One of our contemporaries, who writes pungently, and out of a rich knowledge of Masonry, has recently argued the point that Masonic research has exhausted its usefulness for lack of anything more to do. It is probable that this brother had his mind fixed on England when he wrote these surprising words, because it is the only country of which they may be said at all; but even of England they are not true, because in spite of the herculean efforts of many distinguished English students a very great deal remains to be done by our cousins across the water. It was only the other day, and in a private letter, that one of the most brilliant of these brethren was bewailing the fact that so little had as yet been accomplished in clearing up the history of Freemasonry in England, and in making known to the rank and file of the Craft what Masonry is now doing in the world. He said that much remains uncertain about the Grand Lodge era, and especially about Anderson, upon whose labors the whole edifice of Masonic jurisprudence has been pretty largely built.
As for our own land, and there is no need to labor the argument by other references though there are many countries that would better serve as horrible examples, Masonic research has not made a good start, let alone exhausted the field. It is true that hundreds of books have been written, but of what value are they, most of them ? Very little, and often they are so utterly lacking in scholarship that they are so misleading as to be absolutely pernicious.
We know almost nothing at all about Masonry prior to the Revolutionary War, and what little we do know is hidden away in scraps and pieces in old magazine files and forgotten books. Of the Revolutionary period itself, and of the period between it and the Civil War the same thing can be said, except for the Anti-Masonic craze; and so also with the Civil War period, the Masonic records of which have never yet been mined out. Of the post-bellum period, and of Masonry's activities in the recent World War we know as little; at least, we have not much done into reliable books.
This is said of Symbolical Masonry. The same thing could be said, and with even greater emphasis, of the other bodies. We have no thorough and up-to-date history of the Scottish Rite; we do not even have biographies of Albert Pike, or of Dr. Mackey; we have no histories of the Royal Arch, of Cryptic Masonry, or of Knight Templarism, at least nothing of any value.
If this is not a condition crying loudly out for more research and study and writing, one would be hard put to imagine one that would.
This research would not be a means to satisfy a mere antiquarian or academic interest; it is a necessity if we are ever to get through with our Masonic tasks, as necessary as hospitals or boards of charity, or new temples, or even, one might add in sarcastic vein, as circuses and balls. The Masonry of today, which is so powerful and so militant, is by its very nature dependent on the Masonry of yesterday; our landmarks, our jurisprudence, and our ideals all hark back to the past, and without an accurate and available knowledge of that past our rulers are certain to go astray and to embroil us in many difficulties, and the great numbers of brethren whom they rule in the life of the lodge will go on to the end without an adequate conception or appreciation of all that Masonry means. The present is not safe in our keeping until we have the past wholly in our possession.
Of course, Masonic research is not confined entirely to the past. One of its great tasks is to educate Masons now living, and to enlighten them as to the activities of the Order in this present day. If that isn't a practical kind of necessity nothing is. If anyone supposes that these tasks are now complete he should look abroad a bit; for he will discover that there is just now no more urgent need than that Masonic research be carried forward.
* * *
Herbert Spencer, from his early thirties on, was addicted to ill-health; he had dyspepsia, insomnia, chronic headaches, and similar maladies due to his lack of exercise, his over-use of his brain, and his proud and petulant refusal to have his teeth attended to. As a consequence he was usually unable to work more than two or three hours a day lest his brain become congested. Therefore, to avoid having his brain worked more than was absolutely necessary, Spencer contrived just the sort of thing one would expect from a superior but rather crusty bachelor - he devised a pair of automatic ear-pads which he would flip over his ears the moment an argument hove in sight. If a friend were talking to him - he never had many friends - and the friend would dispute some point made by him, down would come his ear-pads! When Spencer had called in Sir Ray Lankester to give him some data on a problem concerning biology Spencer began by offering some theories of his own at the very outset; Sir Ray controverted these theories, or at least started to, when down came the ear-pads! It makes one think of Elisha Mulford and his ear trumpet which he would quietly withdraw from his ear when a conversationalist became uninteresting!
What a handy thing were those ear-pads of Spencer's ! How convenient ! You have a theory, a friend advances facts to oppose your theory, and presto, you save your theory by pulling down the ever-handy earpads! Could one imagine a more admirable device for keeping one's opinions intact? No need to stick your head in the sand like the stupid ostrich, just pull on the ear-pads!
But it won't do to poke too much fun at poor Spencer for wearing his ear-pads, because we all wear them, in one form or another, though we don't like to admit it. For instance, there were the theologians in Spencer's own day. These brethren had worked out a set of theories to which they clung like grim death; indeed, they held that a man couldn't be saved unless he accepted them. Then along came Charles Darwin, and Huxley, and Wallace, and Spencer himself, with a wagon load of facts which played havoc with the theologians' theories. Did the theologians pay heed ? Not they: they didn't want to hear about those upsetting facts, so they all pulled down their mental ear-pads, and there you were! Some of them haven't yet removed them.
But there are others. In a certain New England town - there is no need to mention names - a group of active citizens had a survey made of their city. Experts in all lines of municipal activities were employed to ferret out all the facts concerning the way in which that city was carrying on its business: after the data was collated charts were made and set up on display in a downtown show window. The charts were put on exhibition on Saturday morning; before Saturday night all the charts were taken out of that window. The good citizens didn't want to hear the facts about themselves. "It will spoil the reputation of our fair city," "It will ruin municipal patriotism," etc. So they pulled down the ear-pads. How happy that made the local political crooks and town bosses! They always enjoy seeing the citizens wear nice, effective ear-pads.
Ear-pads are the life-savers of partisan politics. A boy's father is a - well, in order to avoid hurting any feelings, let us say - Populist. Because his father is a Populist the boy becomes a Populist, he roots for Populist candidates, he votes for them, when there are any; he is always a loyal Populist. In his daily paper, in conversations with friends, in contact with daily life in all its forms, that person sees and hears a great many things that run counter to his Populist prepossessions: does that change his theories? Not at all: when a word comes along that doesn't jibe with Populism he simply pulls down the ear-pads, and presto change, his Populism remains unhurt.
One of our more recent presidents - there is no need to give his name - was so averse to hearing criticisms of his administration that he would always go off in a fit of ill temper whenever such a thing was brought to his attention. At last his secretary fell into the habit of standing as a screen between his chief and the public: letters were carefully sorted out in order that nothing unpleasant would grate on the poor man's sensitive ears. What a fine pair of ear-pads!
There are a good many wearers of ear-pads in the Masonic Fraternity, are there not ? More perhaps than elsewhere, because there is in Freemasonry more opportunity for opinionativeness. Much in our history and in our teachings remains uncertain, and where there is uncertainty your bigot finds it all the easier to stick to his own theories, however fanciful they may be, or unsupported by facts. But where Freemasonry has done its perfect work in a man it has opened his ears as well as his eyes, taught him that it is one's duty to listen as well as to see, and that it is no more possible for a man to be a real Mason who keeps earpads on his ears than it is for the man who keeps a hood-wink on his eyes.
Palmers were so-called from a bough of palm they usually carried, especially after having visited the holy places of Jerusalem. A Pilgrim had some dwelling place, a Palmer had none. A Pilgrim visited some particular place, a Palmer all sacred places. A Pilgrim went at his own charge, a Palmer professed willful poverty. A Pilgrim might leave his pursuit, a Palmer must be constant to his profession. - Charles W. Moore.
The Old Charges and What They Mean to Us
By Bro. H.L. HAYWOOD THE BUILDER SEPTEMBER 1923
I. WHAT THE OLD CHARGES ARE
I have just come from reading an article in one of the more obscure Masonic periodicals in which an unknown brother lets go with this very familiar remark: "As for me, I am not interested in the musty old documents of the past. I want to know what is going on today." The context makes it clear that he had in mind the Old Charges. A sufficient reply to this ignoramus is that the Old Charges are among the things that are "going on today." Eliminate them from Freemasonry as it now functions and not a subordinate lodge, or a Grand Lodge, or any other regular Masonic body could operate at all; they are to what the Constitution of this nation is to the United States Government, and what its statutes are to every state in the Union. All our constitutions, statutes, laws, rules, by-laws and regulations to some extent or other hark back to the Old Charges, and without them Masonic jurisprudence, or the methods for governing and regulating the legal affairs of the Craft, would be left hanging suspended in the air. In proportion as Masonic leaders, Grand Masters, Worshipful Masters and Jurisprudence Committees ignore, or forget, or misunderstand these Masonic charters they run amuck, and lead the Craft into all manner of wild and unmasonic undertakings. If some magician could devise a method whereby a clear conception of the Old Charges and what they stand for could be installed into the head of every active Mason in the land, it would save us all from embarrassment times without number and it would relieve Grand Lodges and other Grand bodies from the needless expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. If there is any practical necessity, any hard down-next-to-the-ground necessity anywhere in Freemasonry today, it is for a general clear-headed understanding of the Ancient Constitutions and landmarks of our Order.
By the Old Charges is meant those ancient documents that have come down to us from the fourteenth century and afterwards in which are incorporated the traditional history, the legends and the rules and regulations of Freemasonry. They are called variously "Ancient Manuscripts", "Ancient Constitutions", "Legend of the Craft", "Gothic Manuscripts", "Old Records", etc, etc. In their physical makeup these documents are sometimes found in the form of handwritten paper or parchment rolls, the units of which are either sewn or pasted together; of hand-written sheets stitched together in book form, and in the familiar printed form of a modern book. Sometimes they are found incorporated in the minute book of a lodge. They range in estimated date from 1390 until the first quarter of the eighteenth century, and a few of them are specimens of beautiful Gothic script. The largest number of them are in the keeping of the British Museum; the Masonic library of West Yorkshire, England, has in custody the second largest number.
As already said these Old Charges (such is their most familiar appellation) form the basis of modern Masonic constitutions, and therefore jurisprudence. They establish the continuity of the Masonic institution through a period of more than five centuries, and by fair implication much longer; and at the same time, and by token of the same significance, prove the great antiquity of Masonry by written documents, which is a thing no other craft in existence is able to do. These manuscripts are traditional and legendary in form and are therefore not to be read as histories are, nevertheless a careful and critical study of them based on internal evidence sheds more light on the earliest times of Freemasonry than any other one source whatever. It is believed that the Old Charges were used in making a Mason in the old Operative days; that they served as constitutions of lodges in many cases, and sometimes functioned as what we today call a warrant.
The systematic study of these manuscripts began in the middle of the past century, at which time only a few were known to be in existence. In 1872 William James Hughan listed 32. Owing largely to his efforts many others were discovered, so that in 1889 Gould was able to list 62, and Hughan himself in 1895 tabulated 66 manuscript copies, 9 printed versions and 11 missing versions. This number has been so much increased of late years that in "Ars Quatuor Coronatorum", Volume XXXI, page 40 (1918), Brother Roderick H. Baxter, now Worshipful Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, listed 98, which number included the versions known to be missing. Brother Baxter's list is peculiarly valuable in that he gives data as to when and where these manuscripts have been reproduced.
For the sake of being better able to compare one copy with another, Dr. W. Begemann classified all the versions into four general "families", The Grand Lodge Family, The Sloane Family, The Roberts Family, and The Spencer Family. These family groups he divided further into branches, and he believed that The Spencer Family was an offshoot of The Grand Lodge Family, and The Roberts Family an offshoot of The Sloane Family. In this general manner of grouping, the erudite doctor was followed by Hughan, Gould and their colleagues, and his classification still holds in general; attempts have been made in recent years to upset it, but without much success. One of the best charts, based on Begemann, is that made by Brother Lionel Vibert, a copy of which will be published in a future issue of THE BUILDER.
The first known printed reference to these Old Charges was made by Dr. Robert Plot in his Natural History of Staffordshire, published in 1868. Dr. A.F.A. Woodford and William James Hughan were the first to undertake a scientific study. Hughan's Old Charges is to this day the standard work in English. Gould's chapter in his History of Masonry would probably be ranked second in value, whereas the voluminous writings of Dr. Begemann, contributed by him to Zirkelcorrespondez, official organ of the National Grand Lodge of Germany, would, if only they were translated into English, give us the most exhaustive treatment of the subject ever yet written.
The Old Charges are peculiarly English. No such documents have ever been found in Ireland. Scotch manuscripts are known to be of English origin. It was once held by Findel and other German writers that the English versions ultimately derived from German sources, but this has been disproved. The only known point of similarity between the Old Charges and such German documents as the Torgau Ordinances and the Cologne Constitutions is the Legend of the Four Crowned Martyrs, and this legend is found among English versions only in the Regius Manuscript. As Gould well says, the British MSS. have "neither predecessors nor rivals"; they are the richest and rarest things in the whole field of Masonic writings.
When the Old Charges are placed side by side it is immediately seen that in their account of the traditional history of the Craft they vary in a great many particulars, nevertheless they appear to have derived from some common origin, and in the main they tell the same tale, which is as interesting as a fairy story out of Grimm. Did the original of this traditional account come from some individual or was it born out of a floating tradition, like the folk tales of ancient people? Authorities differ much on this point. Begemann not only declared that the first version of the story originated with an individual, but even set out what he deemed to be the literary sources used by that Great Unknown. The doctor's arguments are powerful. On the other hand, others contend that the story began as a general vague oral tradition, and that this was in the course of time reduced to writing. In either event, why was the story ever written? In all probability an answer to that question will never be forth-coming, but W. Harry Rylands and others have been of the opinion that the first written versions were made in response to a general Writ for Return issued in 1388. Rylands' words may be quoted: "It appears to me not at all improbable that much, if not all, of the legendary history was composed in answer to the Writ for Returns issued to the guilds all over the country, in the twelfth year of Richard the Second, A.D. 1388."
(A.Q.C. XVL page 1)
II. THE TWO OLDEST MANUSCRIPTS
In 1757 King George II presented to the British Museum a collection of some 12,000 volumes, the nucleus of which had been laid by King Henry VII and which came to be known as the Royal Library. Among these books was a rarely beautiful manuscript written by hand on 64 pages of vellum, about four by five inches in size, which a cataloger, David Casley, entered as No. 17 A-1 under the title, "A Poem of Moral Duties: here entitled Constitutiones Artis Gemetrie Secundem." It was not until Mr. J.O. Halliwell, F.R.S. (afterwards Halliwell-Phillipps), a non-Mason, chanced to make the discovery that the manuscript was known to be a Masonic document. Mr. Phillipps read a paper on the manuscript before the Society of Antiquaries in 1839, and in the following year published a volume entitled Early History of Freemasonry in England (enlarged and revised in 1844), in which he incorporated a transcript of the document along with a few pages in facsimile. This important work will be found incorporated in the familiar Universal Masonic Library, the rusty sheepskin bindings of which strike the eyes on almost every Masonic book shelf. This manuscript was known as "The Halliwell", or as "The Halliwell-Phillipps" until some fifty years atfterwards Gould rechristened it, in honour of the Royal Library in which it is found, the "Regius", and since then this has become the more familiar cognomen.
David Casley, a learned specialist in old manuscripts, dated the "Regius" as of the fourteenth century. E.A. Bond, another expert, dated it as of the middle of the fifteenth century. Dr. Kloss, the German specialist, placed it between 1427 and 1445. But the majority have agreed on 1390 as the most probable date. "It is impossible to arrive at absolute certainty on this point," says Hughan, whose Old Charges should be consulted, "save that it is not likely to be older than 1390, but may be some twenty years or so later." Dr.W. Begemann made a study of the document that has never been equalled for thoroughness, and arrived at a conclusion that may be given in his own words: it was written "towards the end of the 14th or at least quite at the beginning of the 15th century (not in Gloucester itself, as being too southerly, but) in the north of Gloucestershire or in the neighbouring north of Herefordshire, or even possibly in the south of Worcestershire." (A.Q.C. VII, page 35.)
In 1889 an exact facsimile of this famous manuscript was published in Volume I of the Antigrapha produced by the Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Research, and was edited by the then secretary of that lodge, George William Speth, himself a brilliant authority, who supplied a glossary that is indispensable to the amateur student. Along with it was published a commentary by R.F. Gould, one of the greatest of all his Masonic papers, though it is exasperating in its rambling arrangement and general lack of conclusiveness.
The Regius Manuscript is the only one of all the versions to be written in meter, and may have been composed by a priest, if one may judge by certain internal evidences, though the point is disputed. There are some 800 lines in the poem, the strictly Masonic portion coming to an end at line 576, after which begins what Hughan calls a "sermonette" on moral duties, in which there is quite a Roman Catholic vein with references to "the sins seven", "the sweet lady" (referring to the Virgin) and to holy water. There is no such specific Mariolatry in any other version of the Old Charges, though the great majority of them express loyalty to "Holy Church" and all of them, until Anderson's familiar version, are specifically Christian, so far as religion is concerned.
The author furnishes a list of fifteen "points" and fifteen "articles", all of which are quite specific instructions concerning the behaviour of a Craftsman: this portion is believed by many to have been the charges to an initiate as used in the author's period, and is therefore deemed the most important feature of the book as furnishing us a picture of the regulations of the Craft at that remote date. The Craft is described as having come into existence as an organized fraternity in "King Adelstoune's day", but in this the author contradicts himself, because he refers to things "written in old books" (I modernize spelling of quotations) and takes for granted a certain antiquity for the Masonry, which, as in all the Old Charges, is made synonymous with Geometry, a thing very different in those days from the abstract science over which we laboured during our school days.
The Regius Poem is evidently a book about Masonry, rather than a document of Masonry, and may very well have been written by a non-Mason, though there is no way in which we can verify such theories, especially seeing that we know nothing about the document save what it has to tell us about itself, which is little.
In his Commentary on the Regius MS, R.F. Gould produced a paragraph that has ever since served as the pivot of a great debate. It reads as follows and refers to the "sermonette" portion which deals with "moral duties": "These rules of decorum read very curiously in the present age, but their inapplicability to the circumstances of the working Masons of the fourteen or fifteenth century will be at once apparent. They were intended for the gentlemen of those days, and the instruction for behaviour in the presence of a lord - at table and in the society of ladies - would have all been equally out of place in a code of manners drawn up for the use of a Guild or Craft of Artisans."
The point of this is that there must have been present among the Craftsmen of that time a number of men not engaged at all in labour, and therefore were, as we would now describe them, "speculatives." This would be of immense importance if Gould had made good his point, but that he was not able to do. The greatest minds of the period in question were devoted to architecture, and there is no reason not to believe that among the Craftsmen were members of good families. Also the Craft was in contact with the clergy all the while, and therefore many of its members may well have stood in need of rules for preserving proper decorum in great houses and among the members of the upper classes. From Woodford until the present time the great majority of Masonic scholars have believed the Old Charges to have been used by a strictly operative craft and it is evident that they will continue to do so until more conclusive evidence to the contrary is forthcoming than Gould's surmise.
Next to the Regius the oldest manuscript is that known as the Cooke. It was published by R. Spencer, London, 1861 and was edited by Mr. Matthew Cooke, hence his name. In the British Museum's catalogue it is listed as "Additional M.S. 23,198", and has been dated by Hughan at 1450 or thereabouts, an estimate in which most of the specialists have concurred. Dr. Begemann believed the document to have been "compiled and written in the southeastern portion of the western Midlands, say, in Gloucestershire or Oxfordshire, possibly also in southeast Worcestershire or southwest Warwickshire. The 'Book of Charges' which forms the second part of the document is certainly of the 14th century, the historical or first part, of quite the beginning of the 15th." (A.Q.C. IX, page 18)
The Cooke MS. was most certainly in the hands of Mr. George Payne, when in his second term as Grand Master in 1720 he compiled the "General Regulations", and which Anderson included in his own version of the "Constitutions" published in 1723. Anderson himself evidently made use of lines 901-960 of the MS.
The Lodge Quatuor Coronati reprinted the Cooke in facsimile in Vol. II of its Antigrapha in 1890, and included therewith a Commentary by George William Speth which is, in my own amateur opinion, an even more brilliant piece of work than Gould's Commentary on the Regius. Some of Speth's conclusions are of permanent value. I paraphrase his findings in my own words:
The M.S. is a transcript of a yet older document and was written by a Mason. There were several versions of the Charges to a Mason in circulation at the time. The MS. is in two parts, the former of which is an attempt at a history of the Craft, the latter of which is a version of the Charges. Of this portion Speth writes that it is "far and away the earliest, best and purest version of the 'Old Charges' which we possess." The MS. mentions nine "articles", and these evidently were legal enforcements at the time; the nine "points" given were probably not legally binding but were morally so. "Congregations" of Masons were held here and there but no "General Assembly" (or "Grand Lodge"); Grand Masters existed in fact but not in name and presided at one meeting of a congregation only. "Many of our present usages may be traced in their original form to this manuscript." III. ANDERSON'S CONSTITUTIONS AND OTHER PRINTED VERSIONS
One of the most important of all the versions of the Old Charges is not an ancient original at all, but a printed edition issued in 1722, and known as the Roberts, though it is believed to be a copy of an ancient document. Of this W.J. Hughan writes: "The only copy known was purchased by me at Brother Spencer's sale of Masonic works, etc. (London, 1875), for 8 pounds 10s., on behalf of the late Brother R.F. Bower, and is now in the magnificent library of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, U.S.A." This tiny volume is easily the most priceless Masonic literary possession in America, and was published in exact facsimile by the National Masonic Research Society, with an eloquent Introduction by Dr. Joseph Fort Newton in 1916. The Reverend Edmund Coxe edited a famous reprint in 1871. It is a version meriting the most careful study on the part of the Masonic student because it had a decided influence on the literature and jurisprudence of the Craft after its initial appearance. It appeared in one of the most interesting and momentous periods of modern Speculative Masonry, namely, in the years between the organization of the first Grand Lodge in 1717 and the appearance of Anderson's Constitution in 1723. It is the earliest printed version of the Old Charges known to exist.
Another well-known printed version is that published in 1724 and known as the Briscoe. This was the second publication of its kind. The third printed version was issued in 1728-9 by Benjamin Cole, and known as the Cole Edition in consequence. This version is considered a literary gem in that the main body of the text is engraved throughout in most beautiful style. A special edition of this book was made in Leeds, 1897, the value of which was enhanced by one of W.J. Hughan's famous introductions. For our own modern and practical purposes the most important of all the versions ever made was that compiled by Dr. James Anderson in 1723 and everywhere known familiarly as "Anderson's Constitution." A second edition appeared, much changed and enlarged, in 1738; a third, by John Entick, in 1756; and so on every few years until by 1888 twenty-two editions in all had been issued. The Rev.A.F.A. Woodford, Hughan's collaborator, edited an edition of The Constitution Book of 1723 as Volume I of Kenning's Masonic Archeological Library, under date of 1878. This is a correct and detailed reproduction of the book exactly as Anderson first published it, and is valuable accordingly.
Anderson's title page is interesting to read: "The CONSTITUTION, History, Laws, Charges, Orders, Regulations, and Usages, of the Right Worshipful FRATERNITY of ACCEPTED FREE MASONS; collected from their general RECORDS, and their faithful TRADITIONS of many Ages. To be read At the Admission of a NEW BROTHER, when the Master or Warden shall begin, or order some other Brother to read as follows, etc." After the word "follows" Anderson's own version of Masonic history begins with this astonishing statement:
"Adam, our first Parent, created after the Image of God, the great Architect of the Universe, must have had the Liberal Sciences, particularly Geometry, written on his Heart, etc."
Thus did Dr. Anderson launch his now thrice familiar account of the history of Freemasonry, an account which, save in the hands of the most expert Masonic antiquarian, yields very little dependable historical fact whatsoever, but which, owing to the prestige of its author, came to be accepted for generations as a bona fide history of the Craft. It will be many a long year yet before the rank and file of brethren shall have learned that Dr. Anderson's "history" belongs in the realm of fable for the most part, and has never been accepted as anything else by knowing ones.
The established facts concerning Dr. Anderson's own private history comprise a record almost as brief as the short and simple annals of the poor. Brother J.T. Thorp, one of the most distinguished of the veterans among living English Masonic scholars, has given it in an excellent brief form. (A.Q.C. XVIII, page 9.) "Of this distinguished Brother we know very little. He is believed to have been born, educated and made a Mason in Scotland, subsequently settling in London as a Presbyterian Minister. He is mentioned for the first time in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of England on September 29th, 1721, when he was appointed to revise the old Gothic Constitutions - this revision was approved by the Grand Lodge of England on September 29th in 1723, in which year Anderson was Junior Grand Warden under the Duke of Wharton - he published a second edition of the Book of Constitutions in 1738, and died in 1739. This is about all that is known of him." In his 1738 edition Anderson so garbled up his account of the founding of Grand Lodge, and contradicted his own earlier story in such fashion, that R.F. Gould was inclined to believe either that he had become disgruntled and full of spleen, or else that he was in his dotage. Be that as it may, Anderson's historical pages are to be read with extreme caution. His Constitution itself, or that part dealing with the principles and regulations of the Craft, is most certainly a compilation made of extracts of other versions of the Old Charges pretty much mixed with the Doctor's own ideas in the premises, and so much at variance with previous customs that the official adoption thereof caused much dissension among the lodges, and may have had something to do with the disaffection which at last led to the formation of the "Antient" Grand Lodge of 1751 or thereabouts. The "Anderson" of this latter body, which in time waxed very powerful, was Laurence Dermott, a brilliant Irishman, who as Grand Secretary was leader of the "Antient" forces for many years, and who wrote for the body its own Constitution, called Ahiman Rezon, which cryptic title is believed by some to mean "Worthy Brother Secretary." The first edition of this important version was made in 1756, a second in 1764, and so on until by 1813 an eighth had been published. A very complete collection of all editions is in the Masonic Library at Philadelphia. A few of our Grand Lodges, Pennsylvania among them, continue to call their Book of Constitutions, The Ahiman Rezon.
Anderson himself is still on the rack of criticism. Learned brethren are checking his statements (see Brother Vibert's article in THE BUILDER for August), sifting his pages and leaving no stone unturned in order to appraise correctly his contributions to Masonic history. But there is not so much disagreement on the Constitution. In that document, which did not give satisfaction to many upon its appearance, Anderson, as Brother Lionel Vibert has well said, "builded better than he knew," because he produced a document which until now serves as the groundwork of nearly all Grand Lodge Constitutions having jurisdiction over Symbolic Masonry, and which once and for all established Speculative Freemasonry on a basis apart, and with no sectarian character, either as to religion or politics. For all his faults as a historian (and these faults were as much of his age as of his own shortcomings), Anderson is a great figure in our annals and deserves at the hand of every student a careful and, reverent study.
In concluding this very brief and inconclusive sketch of a great subject, I return to my first statement. In the whole circle of Masonic studies there is not, for us Americans at any rate, any subject of such importance as this of the Old Charges, especially insofar as they have to do with our own Constitutions and Regulations, and that is very much indeed. Many false conceptions of Freemasonry may be directly traced to an unlearned, or wilful misinterpretation of the Old Charges, what they are, what they mean to us, and what their authority may be. In this land jurisprudence is a problem of supreme importance, and in a way not very well comprehended by our brethren in other parts, who often wonder why we should be so obsessed by it. We have forty-nine Grand Lodges, each of which is sovereign in its own state, and all of which must maintain fraternal relations with scores of Grand bodies abroad as well as with each other. These Grand Lodges assemble each year to legislate for the Craft, and therefore, in the very nature of things, the organization and government of the Order is for us Americans a much more complicated and important thing than it can be in other lands. To know what the Old Charges are, and to understand Masonic constitutional law and practice, is for our leaders and law-givers a prime necessity.
(Note: - A study of the Comacine question should have been published in the Study Club this month, but I was prevented from writing it by a rather extended illness, and therefore substituted the present article, already prepared. I shall hope to include the Comacine paper next month or the month thereafter. I ask my readers to let me hear of any errors detected in order that the same may be corrected before this article goes into book form. Also I regret the fact that we were unable to incorporate in the present number Brother Lionel Vibert's Chart of the Old Charges; this will appear in a future issue in the form of a two-page spread, valuable for reference uses and for framing. I have to thank Brothers Vibert and R.I. Clegg for a critical appraisal of this present chapter. H. L. H.)
WORKS CONSULTED IN PREPARING THIS ARTICLE
Gould's History of Freemasonry, Vol. 1, beginning on page 56; A.Q.C., I, 127; A.Q.C., I, 147; A.Q.C., I, 152; A.Q.C., IV, 73; A.Q.C., IV, 83; A.Q.C., IV, 171; A.Q.C., V, 37; A.Q.C., IV, 201; A.Q.C, IV, 36,198; A.Q.C., VII, 119; A.Q.C., VIII, 224; Hughan, Old Charges; A.Q.C., IX, 18; A.Q.C., IX, 85; A.Q.C., XI, 205; A.Q.C., XIV, 153; A.Q.C., XVI, 4; A.Q.C., XVIII, 16; A.Q.C., XX, 249; A.Q.C., XXI, 161, 211; A.Q.C., XXVIII, 189; Gould's Concise History, chapter V; Gould, Collected Essays, 3; Stillson, History of Freemasonry and Concordant Orders, 157; A.Q.C., XXXIII, 5; The Masonic Review, Vol. XIII, 297; Edward Conder, Records of the Hole Craft and Fellowship of Masons; Vibert, Story of the Craft; Vibert, Freemasonry Before the Era of Grand Lodge; Findel, History of Freemasonry; Hughan, Cole's Constitutions; Fort, Early History and Antiquities of Freemasonry; Pierson, Traditions, Origin and Early History of Freemasonry; Hughan, Ancient Masonic Rolls: Waite, New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry; Clegg, Mackey's Revised History; Ward, Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods: A.Q.C., Antigapha, all volumes.
THE OLD CHARGES AND WHAT THEY MEAN TO US Supplementary References Mackey's Encyclopedia (Revised Edition)
Ahiman Rezon, 37; Antients, 55; Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, 80; Arts, 80; Benjamin Cole, 157; Charges of 1722, 143; Congregations, 174; Cooke's Manuscript, 178; Dr. James Anderson, 57; Dr. Robert Plot, 570; Four Crowned Martyrs, 272; George B.F. Kloss, 383; Gothic Constitutions, 304; Halliwell Manuscript, 316; John Entick, 246; Laurence Dermott, 206; Legend, 433; Legend of the Craft, 434; Old Charges, 143; Old Manuscripts, 464; Old Records, 612; Old Regulations, 527; Operative Masonry, 532; Parts, 544; Plot Manuscript, 569; Points, 572; Regius Manuscript, 616; Roberts' Manuscript, 627; Speculative Masonry, 704.
SHALL WE LIVE AGAIN ?
Victor Hugo's great soul found utterance in his later years for these thoughts, which will find an echo in many hearts:
"I feel in myself the future life. I am like a forest once cut down; the new shoots are stronger and livelier than ever. I am rising, I know, toward the sky. The sunshine is on my head The earth gives me its generous sap, but heaven lights me with the reflection of unknown worlds.
"You say the soul is nothing but the resultant of the bodily powers. Why, then, is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail ? Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. I breathe at this hour the fragrance of the lilacs, the violets and the roses, as at twenty years. The nearer I approach the end the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous yet simple. It is a fairy tale, and it is history.
"For half a century I have been writing my thoughts in prose. and in verse; history, philosophy, drama, romance, tradition, satire, ode and song; I have tried all. But I feel I have not said the thousandth part of what is in me. When I go down to the grave I can say like many others, 'I have finished my day's work.' But I cannot say, 'I have finished my life.' My day's work will begin again the next morning. The tomb is not a blind alley; it is a thoroughfare. It closes on the twilight, it opens on the dawn."
"A brother who could so far forget himself as to solicit, influence, or urge anyone to become a member of our Orders is recreant to the trust reposed in him. Friendship, high position or wealth can form no excuse for solicitation to our mysteries." - Anon.
THE QUESTION BOX
WHAT MEANS "ANCIENT FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS" ?
Can you give us an explanation of the words, "Ancient Free and Accepted Masons," which appears to be the official name of our Grand Lodge? The Secretary of our local lodge tells me that about one-half of the Grand Lodges in the country have the same title, but that the others have it shortened to "Free and Accepted Masons". I know that there have been many explanations of these words taken separately in back numbers of THE BUILDER, but I should like to see them treated together.
D. L. H., Iowa.
The word "Mason" has been defined in many fanciful ways, as when one writer derives it from a Greek word meaning "in the midst of heaven," and another finds in it an ancient Egyptian expression meaning "children of the sun"; but it is almost certain that the term came into existence during the Middle Ages to signify a man engaged in the occupation of building. Originally it had merely this trade significance; it was only after Masonry became a secret society that it took on a wider significance. Of course there were builders long before the Middle Ages, but they went by other names, just as today we often speak of them as "architects," a term that came into use in the time of Queen Elizabeth.
Builders of the Middle Ages, like all other workmen, were organized into societies, somewhat similar to, but by no means to be identified with, our trade unions, which were known as guilds. These guilds were permitted to make their own rules, and they were given a monopoly of the work done inside their own territory. The builder guilds were usually more important than others, because their work was more difficult and required a high degree of skill and intelligence; such of them as had in hand the erection of the great cathedrals possessed among their membership the outstanding geniuses of the times, and wrought such works as to this day remain our wonder and despair.
The art of building was, according to the customs of the time, held as a trade secret, therefore the young men entering a guild of builders were solemnly obligated to divulge no secrets of the craft. Inasmuch as the work was difficult these young men were given a long course of education under the direction of a Master Mason, in which, so it is believed. the tools and processes of building were used symbolically and in order to impress certain truths on the mind of the member. In this way, and because the builders were in close touch with the church which employed systems of symbolism as today we use books (the people could not read, but they could understand pictures), the builder guilds came in time to accumulate a great wealth of symbolic teaching and an elaborate ritual. In the eighteenth century this symbolical element completely displaced the original craft of actual building, and Masonry became "speculative," as we know it now, so that we are Masons only in a symbolical sense.
We are called Masons therefore because we are members of an organization that harks back to the time when builders and architects were bound together in closely guarded guilds. But why are we called "Free" Masons ? This is a more difficult question to answer, as all our Masonic scholars have discovered, for in spite of a great amount of careful research, they have never vet agreed among themselves as to how the question should be answered. We have records of the word as having been used six hundred years ago, but it is evident that even then "freemason" was a term of long standing, so that its origin fades away into the dimness of a very remote past.
One of the commonest theories is that the freemason was originally the mason who worked in "free stone," that is, stone ready to be hewn and shaped for the building in contrast to the stone lying unmined. Such a mason was superior in skill to the quarrymen who dug the stone from the quarry, and this is in harmony with the fact that in early days freemasons were deemed a superior kind of workmen and received higher wages than "the rough masons"; but it does not explain why carpenters, tailors and other workmen were also called "free".
Another common theory has it that the early Masons came to be called "free" because they were exempted from many of the tiresome duties that hemmed in the laborer of the Middle Ages, and enjoyed liberties such as the right to travel about (forbidden to most workmen of that period) and exemption from military service, etc. It is held by some writers that the early Popes granted bulls to Masons that freed them from church restrictions, but no amount of search in all the libraries of Europe, or in the records of the Roman Church (that church did not issue bulls against Freemasonry until 1738 and afterwards). has ever succeeded in unearthing a single such bull or any record thereof.
There are other theories. One has it that a Mason was free when out of the bonds of apprenticeship and ready to enjoy the full privileges of membership in his guild. Another, that there were grades of workmen inside building guilds and only the highest type were permitted all such privileges, and that these were called "free" in contrast to their less advanced brethren.
One of the most acceptable of all these theories is that so brilliantly advanced by G. W. Speth in the past century, in which that learned brother held that in the Middle Ages there were two types of builders' guilds, those that were stationary in each town and those that were employed in the cathedrals and were therefore permitted to move about from place to place, or wherever cathedrals might be in course of construction. Inasmuch as cathedrals represented the highwater mark of skill and learning in that day such workmen were very superior to those that were employed on the humbler structures in the community, such as dwellings, warehouses, docks, roads, etc., so that Freemasonry descended from the aristocracy of medieval labor.
I have myself never been able to make up my mind as between these various theories, except that it appears to me that Speth's is the most plausible. It may be that several of them are true at one and the same time; such a thing would not be impossible, because Freemasonry developed over a large stretch of territory and through a long period of time.
There is no doubt that in some cases this word has its face meaning and serves to remind us that our Craft is very old. The first Grand Lodge of Speculative Masons was established in London in 1717, but Masonry, even of the Speculative variety was very old by that date. Boswell was accepted into the Craft in 1600, Moray in 1641 and Ashmole in 1646. Our oldest manuscript, usually dated at about 1390, looks backward to times long anterior to itself. There is no telling how old Masonry is; perhaps they are not so far wrong after all who date it in antiquity. In any event it is "ancient," and has every right to the use of that word.
But in the majority of cases this word doubtless refers to the Grand Lodge that came to be organized in England shortly after 1750. When the first Grand Lodge (that of 1717) was formed it was planned that it should have jurisdiction only over a few lodges in London, but as these lodges increased in number it extended its territory to include the county, and later on to include the whole country. A large number of lodges remained independent - they were often called St. John's lodges - many in the north of England, and others in Scotland and Ireland. As time went on there grew up a feeling among the brethren of several of these independent lodges that the new Grand Lodge was becoming guilty of making innovations in the body of Masonry, therefore, after a deal of agitation had been made, a rival Grand Lodge was formed, and because its older sister Grand Lodge had made changes they dubbed it "Modern," and because they themselves claimed to preserve the work according to its original form, they called themselves "Ancient." This Ancient Grand Lodge was fortunate in securing as its Grand Secretary Laurence Dermott, who had such a genius for organizing that in the course of time this newer lodge began to overshadow the older. The rivalry, often bitter enough to be described as a feud, lasted until 1813, when the first step toward a union was effected; out of this effort at reconciliation there came at last "The United Grand Lodge of England." Meanwhile the Ancients had chartered a great many lodges in the colonies of America, and these, a large number of them,. carried on the name long after American lodges had severed all relations with the Grand Lodges across the sea. In this wise the word "Ancient" came into general use, and remains today imbedded in the official titles of about half the Grand Lodges in this land.
Much mystery still hangs about the word "Accepted," but in a general way we may feel pretty safe in thinking that it refers to the fact that after the ancient builders' guilds began to break up and to lose their monopoly of the trade, they began to "accept" into their membership men who had no intention of engaging in actual building, but who sought membership for social purposes, or in order to have the advantage of the rich symbolism, the ritual and the philosophy of the Order. The first man thus admitted of whom we have a record is Boswell, who was made a Mason in 1600, as already noted, but it is fairly certain that others had been similarly accepted long before. Indeed, there is good reason to believe that non-operatives had been taken into membership from the very earliest times, and it is possible that the word was also applied to those members that devoted themselves to superintending and planning, but not to physical work. Throughout the seventeenth century the number of accepted increased until by the beginning of the eighteenth century many lodges were almost wholly made up of such members, and in 1717 the whole Craft was transformed into. a speculative science, though it is true that many operative lodges remained in existence, and some are still functioning and claiming for themselves the ancient lineage.
We shall have to wait with patience until all problems concerning these various words are cleared up, but meanwhile we can use them with a satisfactory degree of certainty as connecting us historically with a process of growth and development that began far back in the Middle Ages, or earlier, and has continued until now. Verily it has been a history filled with wonders, and even now there are few who have a full appreciation of the height and depth and length and breadth and exceeding riches of Freemasonry.
* * *
WHEN WAS THE POPE DECLARED INFALLIBLE?
Can you please tell me when the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church was declared infallible? Also, please advise as to something to read on the subject.
The process whereby the authority and rights originally vested in the lay members of the church became pyramided in a hierarchy and at last transferred to one man is a long, long story, for the telling of which there is no room here. The infallibility of the Pope was believed in for many generations, especially by the church in European countries, but it was not officially made a dogma until so proclaimed by the famous Vatican Council, held in Rome in 1870. The decree was passed over eighty-eight dissentient votes and was formally promulgated in solemn session on the 18th of that month. The best brief account of the Council is the essay by Lord Acton, himself a Roman Catholic and the greatest scholar in the Roman communion during the past century, which you will find in The History of Freedom and Other Essays, published by Macmillan and Co., and beginning on page 492. It is a treatise of repressed - fire and moral indignation that deserves a place among the enduring human documents of modern times.
* * *
Have you any information concerning the operation of Triangles ? I understand that several foreign Grand Lodges grant warrants for Triangles which, as I understand it, consist of three men who confer degrees up to such time as enough Masons are made to start a lodge. Does this conflict with any of the landmarks ?
George C. Phillips,
P.O. Box 583, Altoona, Pa.
WE ARE IN RECEIPT OF A FEW BOUQUETS
If we have not published letters of commendation in these pages it has not been for lack of appreciation of the kindly things said of THE BUILDER by its readers but because space is always at such a premium for other purposes. For once we shall hide our blushes long enough to acknowledge a handful of bouquets which have come unbought and unsolicited. They helped to sweeten the July mail, and our thanks go to the brethren who sent them in:
"One of the leading and best Masonic monthlies in the world, for the reason that it is full of advanced thought and solid Masonic food."
- South Australian Freemason.
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- Harry A. Drachman
Deputy Supreme Council, A.A.S.R., Arizona.
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A BROADSIDE AGAINST CHAIN LETTERS
The subject indicated by the above title, although frequently mentioned and always condemned whenever referred to in fraternal correspondence in our Grand Lodge proceedings, seems to be an evil of greater magnitude than a number of the brethren are aware of, or else they are wilfully guilty of continuing this ridiculous practice in spite of the large amount of remonstrance it has provoked.
The Grand Master of Ohio, not long ago, took the pains to issue a special edict condemning the practice, a copy of which was sent to every lodge in his jurisdiction, and in the same year the Grand Master of Connecticut declared the practice to be not only improper, but un-Masonic, while many other high Masonic authorities have spoken in the same tenor of what they have been pleased to term "the chain letter nuisance," and an apt and appropriate term it is.
Doubtless the waste baskets of many of our brethren contain many of them, but for the benefit of those who have escaped the pest, I present herewith a copy of one only a few days old at this writing, as follows:
"Copy this and send it to nine people whom you wish good luck.
"This chain started with an American Naval officer and should go three times around the world.
"Do not break this chain, for whoever does will have bad luck. Do it within twenty-four hours and count nine days and you will have some great fortune.
"'Remember, if you believe it, it's so."'
Then follows a list of names of thirty persons through whose hands this foolish scrap of superstitious cant has passed.
Evidently not one brother in a large number believes in this silly prediction and doubly silly threat of bad luck, for if one-fourth the number addressed were to comply with its request, the number who would receive it in thirty days would exceed the number of Masons in the United States.
Thirty names were on the one I received, but if there had been only TEN and each had complied with its direction, beginning with the first up to and including the TENTH, then 435,848,060 persons have received it, and if all up to the thirtieth have been as energetic in compliance with the request, the number of its recipients would exceed the total population of the earth from the earliest dawn of civilization down to the present time. The paper mills of the United States do not produce enough paper for such a gigantic "drive," which, considering the high price of paper, would impoverish the entire Masonic fraternity to finance.
In passing, I notice that two years ago the Grand Master of Louisiana ordered the Craft to discontinue the nuisance which, he said, "is as hard to kid as the proverbial eat," and I am writing this in order to supply some more ammunition for the beast's destruction which I thought had been killed nine or ten times already.
Masons are taught to believe themselves to be under the care of an all-wise Father who directs all of the incidents of their lives and to put their trust in His wise administration, and the thoughtful Mason will not be cajoled or frightened by any necromancy or charlatanic bluff by lending himself to the furtherance of such stupendous folly.
L. A. McConnell, Michigan
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WHEN PEARY WAS MADE A MASON
The writer looked through Bro. Baird's article on Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary in THE BUILDER for April last, but was unable to discover there the dates when Peary was made a Mason. As a result I was led to write to Kane Lodge, of New York City, and from those brethren learned the following facts, which I believe you may care to publish: Peary was proposed Jan. 7, 1896, elected Jan. 21, 1896, initiated Feb. 4, 1890, passed Feb. 18, 1896, and raised March 3, 1896. Kane Lodge presented a medal to Mrs. Peary March 30, 1920. That lodge holds among its treasures a Masonic flag presented to Peary prior to his departure for the North, and flown by him at various points in the Arctic. The Rag was formally returned to Kane Lodge after his last expedition.
Lieut. R. E. Bassler, District of Columbia.
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A SPURIOUS PICTURE OF ROOSEVELT
A certain photographer of Spokane, Wash., is offering for sale a photograph of the late President Bro. Theodore Roosevelt, showing' him with the regalia and jewel of a Worshipful Master of a lodge. Inasmuch as Bro. Roosevelt never held such an office, the picture conveys a false impression that Roosevelt himself would not have sanctioned. Some lodges may, without knowing better, purchase the picture for display in their apartments.
George W. Southworth, Massachusetts.
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THE DR. JOHNSON ARTICLES
I cannot begin to tell you how interesting to me were Bro. Heiron's Dr. Johnson articles. I used to live in London and have traveled nearly every street mentioned. Dr. Johnson frequented Lower Thames street and Radcliff highway, also Old Dundee wharf where the rum and spices from Jamaica were unloaded. I should like to know which is the older, Old Dundee Lodge or the wharf. I should like to know the address of the "Cockney Mason," who contributed an item to Ye Editor's Corner in the July issue. His brogue was great.
Thos. Wright, Montana.
Brother Ernest E. Murray, Lewistown, Mont., can tell you who the Cockney Mason is, Brother Wright. As for your question concerning Old Dundee Lodge, we shall refer that to Brother Heiron, who can speak per curiam on that subject.
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CONCERNING THE GRAVE, NUMBER SIX, ETC..
In perusing the March number of THE BUILDER, which I read as always from cover to back, I was struck by the concluding portion of a letter by A. L. Kress, of Pennsylvania, regarding the Grave. This is very specific in the English, which is laid down in the following words: "There is a grave from the center three feet east, three feet west, three feet between north and south and five feet or more perpendicular," etc. The reason for the depth of five feet or more feet is that according to the various burial acts in the country a body must be buried at least two feet below the surface, hence the space occupied by the body is a parallelogram, or as it is more often called, a double cube six feet long, three wide, three deep. This therefore corresponds with the altar of incense found in the Royal Arch when it states, "In the centre of the vault stood a block of White Marble, wrought in the form of the Altar of incense. a double Cube" as regards the position of these two forms, viz.. horizontal and vertical. The symbolism is apparent to all With reference to six not being a Masonic number, that is true. but the English method avoids the six difficulty by continually using three, which is most appropriate to that degree, especially when one recognizes that the Third Degree is only a part of a degree which is only completed when the Royal Arch is taken as after the inscription on the latter occurs the following sentence, "You may perhaps imagine you have this day taken a fourth degree in Freemasonry, such however is not the case. It is the Master Mason Degree complete," etc. Hoping that these remarks from an English brother may be acceptable.
J. G. Sturton, England.
Henry Fielding published his Tom Jones in 1748, only thirty-one years after the founding of the first Grand Lodge. This gives some point to a remark found in Book II, chapter 4, which reads thus: "For the reasons mentioned in the preceding chapter, and from some other matrimonial concessions, well known to most husbands, and which, like the secrets of Freemasonry, should be divulged to none who are not members of that honorable fraternity," etc. Is it possible that the great Fielding was a member of the Craft ? Brother Heiron, the question is referred to you.
THE NATIONAL MASONIC RESEARCH SOCIETY
The National Masonic Research Society was founded in 1914 under authority of the Grand Lodge of Iowa to serve as a national association for the dissemination of Masonic knowledge and for kindred activities. It is strictly non-commercial in its nature and aims only at the largest possible usefulness to Freemasonry. Its record thus far fulfills the prophecies of its founders, and justifies an ever larger hope for its future.
The encouragement of every form of Masonic reading, study, research and authorship.
The collection and preservation of materials of value for Masonic study.
The publication of a journal devoted to the interpretation of the history, nature and present day activities of all the Rites, Orders and Degrees of Freemasonry.
The promotion and supervision of meetings for Masonic discussion and study.
The organization of Masonic Study Clubs and the publication of courses of study.
The encouragement of individuals and groups devoted to private Masonic research.
Cooperation with all possible agencies in the creation of an adequate Masonic literature, and in the development of a competent Masonic leadership.
Service to Grand Lodges and other sovereign Masonic bodies and responsible agencies in special surveys, reports and investigations.
Assistance to lodges and other bodies in the formation of Masonic libraries, reading rooms, book clubs, etc.
For eight years and more the Society has been successfully carrying on the activities described in the above list, which is typical and not exhaustive. In so doing it has been assisted by Masonic officials, leaders, scholars, authors and students in every state in the Union and in every country of the world, all of whom by this activity have been drawn closer to that which is the dream of every intelligent Mason - the Republic of Masonic thought and letters.
THE BUILDER is the official monthly journal of the Society which goes to each member as one of the privileges of his membership, and is not offered for sale to the general public, nor is it in the competitive commercial field. It is edited in the interests of sound, constructive policies and aims at creating among Masons a more heartfelt appreciation of Freemasonry, and at making the spirit and principles of Freemasonry prevail in the world. Every member of the Society is requested to cooperate with the board of editors by contributions and by constructive criticism.
Any Master Mason in good standing in any part of the world becomes eligible for membership upon signing the Society's application form, a copy of which will be furnished upon request. Each member is entitled to THE BUILDER, and to all other privileges of membership, among which are the following:
Questions about Freemasonry are answered, and any kind of Masonic information is furnished.
Study Clubs or other groups for Masonic study, or Masonic book clubs, or groups for special research, are organized and encouraged.
Addresses or materials for addresses are furnished.
New or second-hand Masonic books are secured, sold, loaned or purchased.
Architectural advice on the erection of Masonic edifices, or on the remodeling, decorating or furnishing of lodge rooms is given.
Any Mason can be put in touch with any other Mason or group of Masons anywhere in the world.
Selected lists of Masonic books are recommended to individuals or to lodges.
FORMS OF MEMBERSHIP
There is no joining fee, and all members receive THE BUILDER free.
1. Membership dues are $2.50 per year. Membership may begin at any time.
2. Life members may commute dues for life by paying $50.00 at one time.
3. Fellows (engaged in actual research), $10.00 on notice of election.
4. Patrons, being Masons who shall have contributed $1,000 or more to the objects of the Society, shall be entitled to all its privileges for life.
For members in the United States, Canada, Cuba, Newfoundland, Mexico, Philippine Islands and Porto Rico, the dues are $2.50 per year; elsewhere, $3.00 per year.
BOARD OF EDITORS
Editor-in-Chief - H. L. Haywood
Louis Block, Iowa
Robert I. Clegg, Ohio
Charles F. Irwin, Ohio
Alanson B. Skinner, Wisconsin
Dudley Wright, England
Address all communications to the
NATIONAL MASONIC RESEARCH SOCIETY
1950 Railway Exchange, St. Louis, Mo.
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