A Journal for the Masonic Student
Published Monthly by the National Masonic Research Society
Vol. 9 No. 10 – October 1923
THE MASONIC RITUAL IN THE UNITED STATES:
HISTORY VS. TRADITION
By Bro. A. L. Kress, Pennsylvania
For a long time now Bro. Kress has been collecting data concerning the history of our ritual, especially as it has been used in America. It is pioneer work, and very difficult, especially because of the lack of dependable printed writings, so many of which have been published by uninformed authors altogether too credulous of hearsay and tradition. The present challenging paper is but the first of several that Bro. Kress will write with a view to the ultimate publication of a History of the Ritual, based on known facts and scientific methods. Every reader who may be able to contribute facts, suggestions or criticisms is urged to communicate with THE BUILDER, or with Bro. Kress himself, 330 Center street, Williamspert, Pa.
THE history of Freemasonry has been effectually removed from the realm of tradition and imagination, due to the noteworthy labours of Gould, Hughan, Woodford, Lyon and their coworkers. But the development of the Masonic ritual has never been historically treated. Such articles as have appeared in the past in our journals can, at best, be characterized as psuedo-history only. An excellent example of these uncritical accounts, heretofore accepted as fact, may be found in THE BUILDER, Vol. I, page 291. There are, of course, difficulties in dealing freely and openly with such an important topic as would be possible when writing of Jurisprudence, Symbolism or the History of the Order; but they are not insurmountable. It may even be supposed by "mouth-to-ear" extremists that the history of the ritual can never be written because documentary evidence is lacking. But there is an ample supply of such. In fact, much as we cherish the tradition of a ritual transmitted by the instructive tongue to the attentive ear, as we review the past some doubt will arise as to whether it could ever have been maintained for two hundred years unless some records were kept.
TRADITION OF THE WEBB-PRESTON LECTURES
Perhaps I should give this paper a sub-title, "The So-Called Webb-Preston Lectures," for it is this specific phase of the ritual I shall discuss. There is a persistent and generally accepted tradition throughout the United States that Thomas Smith Webb somehow or other modified, abridged, altered, or rearranged the Preston Lectures, and that this was the genesis of our present ritual. I accepted the story myself at first, but it did not require much research to convince me that somewhere along the line tradition and fact controvert each other.
I shall first of all examine the origin of the tradition itself. It was not until about 1860 that our Grand Lodges evinced any great interest in the ritual and its genesis, which interest was largely stimulated by Rob Morris. As I have pointed out before, the ritual was in a somewhat chaotic condition from 1840 to 1860. Intelligent Masons everywhere were seeking for "the old ritual." Rob Morris was the leader in this search. In the course of his travels in 1857 he visited Philip C. Tucker, of Vergennes, Vermont, who had been made a Mason about 1824. Morris had made a practice of conferring with the older Masons — those made prior to 1830 — checking and comparing their versions in an effort to piece out "the old ritual." Tucker informed him that Samuel Willson, also of Vergennes, had in his possession an old manuscript cipher, which Willson had made in November, 1817, of the Webb Lectures as he had received them from John Barney at that time. Barney in turn had received them from one of Webb's "direct disciples" in Boston, and claimed to have rehearsed them before Webb himself. Morris was elated over this good fortune, examined the cipher and accepted the Barney-Willson Notes — now in the possession of the Grand Lodge of Vermont — as embodying the most authentic version of the old ritual then in existence.
As a result of Tucker's association with Morris and Morris' insistent effort to revive the old Webb Lectures, Tucker made three addresses before the Grand Lodge of Vermont in 1859, 1860 and 1861 respectively, which were extensively quoted by other writers. In his address in 1859 Tucker sought to present a complete narration of the history of the ritual. He said, in part:
"About the year 1800 — twelve years after the publication of Preston's Illustrations — an English brother whose name I have been unable to obtain came to Boston, and taught the English lectures as they had been arranged by Preston. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts approved them, and they were taught to Thos. S. Webb, and Henry Fowle, of Boston, and Brother Snow, of Rhode Island, about the year 1801... I think, upon these facts, I am justified in saying, that the lectures we use are the true lectures of Preston. Webb changed the arrangement of the sections, as fixed by Preston, for one which he thought more simple and convenient, but as I understand, left the body of the lectures themselves as Preston had established them." 
These portions of his address were evidently challenged by a member of the Craft — whom I believe to have been Mackey, though I have not yet located his article — which prompted Tucker to again discuss the matter in his address of 1860. He qualified his previous statements somewhat. I quote this address at greater length:
"In my address of last year I endeavored to condense what little information I had about the Masonic lectures, and that attempt has been, in general, quite favorably noticed by the Craft. In one distinguished Masonic quarter, however, some parts of my address on this subject seem to have met with disfavor. One particular thing found fault with is, that I thought myself justified in saying that the lectures in use, recovered through Webb and Gleason, were the true lectures of Preston. I certainly did not mean to say that they were identical in length with those of Preston. I had already said that Webb changed the arrangement of Preston's sections, but that he had left the body of the lectures as Preston had established them. Perhaps I should have said the substance instead of the 'body' of those lectures. I now state, what I supposed was well understood before by every tolerably well-informed Mason in the United States, that Webb abridged as well as changed the arrangement of the lectures of Preston. I believed that I knew then, and I believe I know now, that Webb learned and taught the Preston lectures in full as well as that he prepared and taught his own abridgement of them. I have a copy in key, both of Webb's abridgement and of Preston in full, which I have reasons wholly satisfactory to myself for believing are true transcripts of both those sets of lectures as Gleason taught them.... Again I am criticized for saying that Gleason visited England and exemplified the Preston lectures, as he had received them from Webb, before the Grand Lodge of England, whose authorities pronounced them correct, and I am charged with taking this from 'hearsay', and my critic places no 'faith in it.' I received that statement from the highest authority — from one who knew — and I wrote it down at the time. There are existing reasons why I do not choose to gratify my critic by naming that authority at this time, and I leave the Craft to judge whether my statement of the fact upon undoubted authority is not worthy of as much credit as any Reviewer's doubt about it. I do not possess anything in writing or published of Gleason's, as to his lecturing before the Grand Lodge of England, but that Masonry abroad did not ignore the lectures, as Gleason taught them, we have his own published letter to prove." 
Tucker then reproduces a letter from Gleason to C. W. Moore which was published in the second edition of Moore's Masonic Trestleboard, which as evidence is of no value.
Morris, likewise, was diffusing a similar legend in his writing and addresses. In October, 1858, at Louisville, Ky., for example, he said: "The lectures I shall teach you are those which Thomas Smith Webb prepared some sixty years ago, from the Ritual of William Preston. There are no others in the United States that have any claim to your respect." 
C. W. Moore, of Boston, was another to pass along the tradition. In December 1858, in an address at Boston, he remarked in part as follows:
"Among the Past Masters of this lodge we notice the name of the late Benjamin Gleason, Esq., who was the associate and co-laborer of the late Thomas Smith Webb, in introducing into the lodges of New England, and subsequently into other sections of the country, what is known as the Prestonian system of work and lectures.... It was the 'work' of Masonry as revised by Preston, and approved and sanctioned by the Grand Lodge of England, near the close of the last century.... The verbal ritual as revised by Preston was brought to this country about the year 1803 — not by Webb, as we have recently seen it stated, he never went abroad — but by two English brethren, one of whom we think had been a pupil of Preston, and both of whom had been members of one of the principal Lodges of Instruction in London. It was first communicated to Webb, and by him parted to Gleason.... The system underwent some modifications (which were doubtless improvements) in its general arrangement and adaptations — its mechanism — soon at its introduction into this country; but in all other respects was received, and has been preserved, especially in the lodge of older jurisdictions, essentially, as it came from the original source of our Craft Masonry." 
So far as I have been able to discover, these are the earliest narrations we have of this tradition. If any brother knows of an earlier reference or can point to the use of the term "Webb-Preston Lectures" anywhere prior to 1858, I hope he will call it to my attention. The tradition rests upon the unsupported assertions of Tucker, Morris and Moore. None of them possessed any first hand information, nor produced any facts to confirm their assertions. Tucker attempted to, but his proofs are based only on inference. It hardly seems worth my while to refute any portion of their statements, as I shall show later on that the Webb Lecture could not possibly be an adaptation of the Preston Lectures.
THE "ANTIENTS" AND THE "MODERNS" ARE CONTRASTED
No intelligent discussion of the ritual can be without reference to the rival Grand Lodges named above, which existed in England from 1752 to 1813. While the researches of Sadler have given us a better idea of the causes which led to the formation of the Grand Lodge of "Antients", it would seem that a comparative study of the rituals of the two bodies would afford still further light on this little understood episode.
As early as 1760 we find the ritual of the "Antients" had assumed the exact form and arrangement preserved in the United States today. Under this type the ritual was divided into three degrees and each degree into sections. For example, there were three sections in the First Degree. The first section, of about sixty questions and answers, comprised the "Entered Apprentice's Lecture"; the second, of about fifteen questions and answers, the "Entered Apprentice's Reasons"; and the third, of some forty questions and answers, recited certain explanatory matter, some of which is now found in the second section of the Fellow Craft's Lecture. This arrangement was most logical. The first section rehearsed the ceremony of initiation, the second, the reasons for the various acts; and the third elaborated on them. Every brother in this country, except our Pennsylvania brethren, will at once recognize this arrangement.
On the other hand, the ritual of the "Moderns", in the latter half of the 18th century, exhibits an entirely different form and arrangement, which in turn has been preserved in England. Under this type the ritual was divided into three lectures and these lectures into arbitrary sections. The division of their lectures into sections, as I shall explain more fully in discussing the Preston Lectures, was for no reason save that of facilitating memorization and had not the slightest relation the sections of the "Antients."
In referring to the ritual of the "Moderns", I intentionally said it was divided into three lectures, for it was distinctly true of the "Moderns" that the real "work" of their lodges consisted not in making of Masons, but in the rehearsal of these lectures to the accompaniment of eating and drinking. It seems that the initation of candidates was often something of an intrusion and was at times entrusted to a few brothers, who took the candidate into an adjoining room that the real "work" of the lodge might not be interrupted. The French term "Table Lodges" would fitly describe them. To conform to this practice in the "Moderns'" ritual, the ceremony of initiation, the reasons and the explanatory matter were all merged into one lecture, each section (as we know the term) losing its identity. The whole lecture was then interspersed with very frequent "Charges" or toasts. In the First Degree, in one "Modern" version, there are 219 questions and answers, whereas in the "Antients" we find but about 120. As interesting as this is, I can develop this comparison no further with the space at my disposal. Let us keep in mind, then, that in the United States we have preserved essentially the ritual of the "Antients", while in England the ritual is essentially that of the "Moderns".
THE PRESTON LECTURES ARE EXAMINED
The Preston Lectures have been widely written of, highly praised, and withal never understood in this country. I am not now prepared to say how much originality and invention, if any, Preston displayed. Unless it should be eventually found that he himself was responsible for the arrangement of the ritual of the "Moderns", we may question if his influence on the ritual has not been over-exaggerated. Our English brethren maintain a studied indifference to any attempt to "exhume" the Preston Lectures. I believe the last time a Preston Lecture was delivered in accordance with the bequest in his will was in 1857. However, the fund of 300 pounds, bequeathed by Preston for this purpose, is presumed to have mysteriously "disappeared". Certainly all this is quite strange if he were, in the words of Mackey, "the founder of a system of lectures which still retain their influence." No one, in recent times, seems to know just what the Preston Lectures actually were.
Preston is said to have been made a Mason in 1762 in a Lodge of "Antients", which later went over to the "Moderns". He seems to have early interested himself in the ritual and by 1774 had so far perfected his lectures that he held an institute for their general dissemination in London. In 1772 he published the first edition of his Illustrations, which went through many editions. In this work he outlined briefly his system of lectures and described his division of them into sections. In 1787 he organized the "Grand Chapter of Harodim", which met "at Freemasons' tavern on the third Monday of January, February, March, April, October, November and December." This was the mechanism through which he disseminated his lectures. It is best described in his own words:
"Different classes are established, and particular lectures restricted to each class. The lectures are divided into sections, and the sections into clauses. The sections are annually assigned by the Chief Harod, to a certain number of skilful companions in each class, who are denominated SECTIONISTS: and they are empowered to distribute the clauses of their respective sections, with the approbation of the Chief Harod, and General Director, among certain private companions of the chapter, who are denominated CLAUSEHOLDERS. Such companions as by assiduity become possessed of all sections in the lecture are called LECTURERS: and out of these the General Director is chosen." 
From this explanation, Preston's purpose in dividing the lectures into sections and clauses is at once self-evident. As I said above, it was to facilitate memorization and these divisions are wholly arbitrary.
The Preston Lectures, we must remember, are a version of the "Moderns'" Ritual. He divided the first lecture into six sections, the second into four, and third into twelve. Taking the first lecture for comparison (as I have done throughout) there were:
- 5 clauses in the first section.
- 5 clauses in the second section.
- 5 clauses in the third section.
- 5 clauses in the fourth section.
- 5 clauses in the fifth section.
- 5 clauses in the sixth section.
As a typical example of a clause, I reproduce here the questions in the fourth clause of the first section of the first lecture, as nearly as I can reconstruct them:
- Whence came you principally?
- What recommendation do you bring?
- What other recommendation?
- What is the purpose of your visit?
- How do you hope to accomplish that?
- What was the first grand natural object you viewed?
- Through what medium?
- What was the second grand natural object you viewed?
- Through what medium?
- What was the third grand natural object you viewed?
- Through what medium?
It is hardly necessary for me to say that there is nothing in the Webb Lectures even remotely resembling this.
In 1797 Webb published the first edition of his Freemason's Monitor, while he was at Albany, In his Foreword, he said:
"The observations upon the first three degrees, are principally taken from Preston's Illustrations of Masonry, with some necessary alterations, Mr. Preston's distribution of the first lecture into six, the second into four, and the third into twelve sections, not being agreeable to the present mode of working, they are arranged in this work according to general practice."
In the 1802 edition he changed the words "present mode of working" to "mode of working in America."
Now Webb meant just what he said there. Preston's arrangement by sections was not "agreeable to the mode of working in America," because Webb referred to the ritual of the "Antients" while Preston referred to the ritual of the "Moderns". Webb found three clear-cut logical sections in the First Degree, for example, so why try to make six out of them? Here lies the difficulty. Webb copied most of his matter in the three degrees from Preston, but they each were referring to something entirely different. This even led to criticism, sixty years ago, that the Webb Monitor did not fit the Webb Lectures. Personally, I doubt that Webb ever even knew the Preston Lectures.
I have sought to establish that:
- The Webb Lectures have their exact counterpart in the ritual of the Antients, evidence of which exists as early as 1760, or before Preston was even made a Mason.
- Webb never rearranged the Preston Lectures.
- The Webb Lectures do not even remotely resemble the Preston Lectures.
- The tradition arose about 1858, and has no basis of fact.
- The term "Webb-Preston Lectures" is erroneous, misleading, and should be abandoned.
Just what Webb's contributions were, together with a citation of all the documentary evidence, is a subject, which it may be my pleasure to discuss at some later date.
- Proceedings Grand Lodge Vermont. 1859 pp. 35-42. ↩
- Proceedings Grand Lodge Vermont. 1860 pp. 23-32. ↩
- Proceedings Grand Lodge Vermont. 1859 p. 42. ↩
- Proceedings Grand Lodge Vermont. 1860 pp. 23-32. ↩
- Preston. Illustrations of Masonry. 1804, American Portsmouth ed., pp. 234-35. ↩
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HIRAM ABIF, THE MAN
Bro. David E. W. Williamson, Nevada
There is an attempt to write history that is merely a rearrangement of documents, dry or dead, and there is an attempt, born of fancy, which sails off into the air in child-like indifference to facts. Most essays on Hiram Abif have fallen between these two stools but that cannot be said of this beautiful study, which is an imaginative reconstruction based on the most careful studies of history. It is a pleasure to publish here this contribution from a friend and brother who for long has been so loyal a worker in this Society, and who, so Ye Editor is happy to report, has been a personal inspiration to those who work at headquarters. If this essay proves to be the first chapter of a book, as Bro. Williamson plans it to be, we shall be safe in predicting for it a wide reading.
WHEN King Solomon stepped over from his palace every day to watch the building of the great Temple in Jerusalem, he was met by a broad-shouldered, swarthy man, standing about five feet six inches in height, wearing his black hair in curls to his shoulders and bearing himself with the dignity that was natural in a man who, while still young, had won such fame as to be called to undertake the greatest work of construction that the Israelites had ever attempted.
That man was Hiram, called Abif. Biblical history says little about him and profane history nothing, but amid the crowd of courtiers and figures in Israel that are mentioned in the biblical descriptions of Solomon's reign, where the king, himself, his chief queen, the daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt, the Queen of Sheba, King Hiram of Tyre, Adoniram the tax collector and the officers he placed over the various districts, including his son-in-law Ahimaaz, fill so large a place in the public eye, this Hiram Abif stands out as a personage. In the feasts and entertainments with which Solomon must have made his people merry in the same way as his neighbouring princes made theirs, Hiram Abif was undoubtedly a prominent guest, for in Egypt men who built and decorated temples were honoured and, in a city where a princess of Egypt was queen, accustomed from her earliest days to rule, she would quite naturally set the fashion. Hiram, too, accustomed to the atmosphere of courts, for he was the friend of King Hiram of Tyre, and as an artist designer was a man of rank and standing in Phoenician cities, as judging from the remains visible of the architecture of those regions, an architect was also an artist in all the cities around the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. In short, Hiram must have appeared to the people to be a prince. In addressing him they would call him "lord" and regard him as of only a little lower rank than the sovereign.
What raised him even higher in the eyes of the Hebrews of Jerusalem was the fact that he was an artist. In a Temple to the great Jehovah there could be no figure of man or of beast, such as was common in Phoenicia at both Tyre and Sidon, and such as the Egyptian princess knew in the land of her birth. There could, however, be images of beautiful flowers, of lilies and of palm leaves, of strange creatures with faces of men, wings of birds and feet of animals, and there could be intricate and graceful arabesques and geometrical designs. Hiram Abif's was the ability that could produce such works and a people who but a few generations previously had lived in tents must have looked at him with awe. In Phoenicia he had probably had many men working under him to whom he was absolute master, and this while he was what today would be described as scarcely more than a youth. He was the son, too, of a man evidently famous in his time.
To understand what position he held at the court of his master, Hiram, and that of King Solomon as well, it must be realized that Hiram Abif was not a brass-worker in the same sense that the word is used now, but was a master artist in the working of metals; a man who, thanks to the gifts of his royal sovereign, was among the wealthy subjects of the Tyrian monarch. Nor would he be regarded as altogether a foreigner in Jerusalem, for it was undoubtedly known to everyone at Solomon's capital that this master craftsman, this artist lord and prince, was the son of a Jewish mother. His language was the same as that of the Jewish people, except perhaps for a different sound to this or that letter, and it is even possible, owing to the fact that his mother was a Jewess, that he spoke pure Jewish without a trace of accent. To the poor of the nation and to the lower ranks he would seem to be an Israelite as much as themselves, and it may be that, by contrast with Adoniram, who, as collector of the tribute, would be hated, he was actually popular, although the people were groaning beneath the taxes and forced labour drawn from them to erect the very building of which he was the constructor.
Prince though he was and rich lord in the eyes of the people, when he was called before Solomon he fell upon his face before the great king and so remained. That was the universal custom in the courts of despotic Eastern rulers and Solomon was not different, as the biblical descriptions reveal, from other monarchs of the time. The King of Israel possessed absolute authority and was accountable to no human power. Nor did Hiram rise until he was ordered to do so. So it was with the highest subjects in Egypt and in Chaldea before their royal masters and so it was at the court of King Solomon. But there must have existed a kind of intimacy between the king and his chief artist, and it is likely that in the social life of the court Hiram Abif was one of the circle of friends with whom Solomon surrounded himself. Hence the abject signs of obedience demanded of a subject in all Oriental courts would only be required of the half-Tyrian in public, while in private he would be admitted to the close confidence of the great king. No such a principle as democracy was ever known in an Oriental country and all honours and advancement could come from but one source, the throne. It is easy to understand, therefore, that every person around Solomon must have won his employment by a certain subserviency to the master's will. However free and upstanding he might be in the building of the Temple, Hiram was a courtier when in the presence of the Israelite monarch and behaved as all the other courtiers conducted themselves. It was the manner of the times and he could never have won his way to eminence by any other course. And Solomon was no easy ruler to deal with, for he was subject to the whims of the women in his palace and the whip, judging from the comment of his son, Rehoboam, was freely used upon his people.
HIS FAMILY LIFE
When the sun went down Hiram Abif would be found at his own home in the midst of the women of his household, as it is not probable that a young Tyrian lord, brought up in strict accordance with the customs of the Phoenicians and their neighbours, would remain unmarried long after reaching the age of sixteen, for child marriages were the rule in the ancient Orient from the earliest times of which there is anything known, just as they are today. The men employed upon the Temple, both those from abroad and the subjects of Solomon, were housed in a temporary village built especially for them, because there would be no place in the city of Jerusalem. Their quarters would certainly be far from luxurious, but they were probably kept clean and the wives of the workers, who, of course, accompanied them in compliance with the customs of all Eastern peoples, lived there, too, preparing the meals, looking after small wants and raising their families. But Hiram Abif was not one of these people. Either through his father's efforts and talents, or because of his own early genius, he would long since have been placed in a higher class and these people would regard themselves as his servants. They recognized that they were apart from him. In dress, bearing and in all his surroundings he was very different from them in every respect.
It is almost possible to reconstruct the daily life of Hiram the artificer by taking what is known of the, history of Phoenicia, its people and its industries; utilizing what modern learning has revealed to us about the Israelite monarchy and its place among the states of the times, and judging from the available facts just what position he would have held in an Eastern despotism if he were alive today. Yet the actual references to him in all ancient literature are few — six in the Bible, two or three in Menander and Dius, as quoted by Josephus, and two or three more independent references by Josephus, himself. His fame, the greatness of which in his day must have been such that his connection with the Temple at Jerusalem was deemed a notable event, was almost completely over shadowed in the course of a few centuries by the development of the legend of King Solomon's greatness. Stories formerly attributed to tribal heroes of the whole Semitic race gradually clustered around Solomon, until the king of the Bible narrative had become a superhuman being, a demigod like the Hercules of the Greeks, and the important parts played by those associated with him in the building of the Temple had been forgotten or belittled. Hiram Abif was not alone in thus losing what may be termed the center of the stage. Adoniram, the master of the tribute, under whose direction the always mutinous and turbulent Israelites were compelled to perform the, to them, new labour of cutting trees in the forests of Lebanon and hauling the logs down to the sea, deserves a greater place in the history of the work than has been given him, and it was he, too, who had to devise the means of collecting what must have been huge taxes from a people that prior to the previous reign had probably been called on to contribute little toward the support of the king. The rulers in the different districts, enumerated in the account in Kings, all had their share in the work and all had their troubles to overcome.
But, as time passed, Solomon became more and more the hero of the story and the others dropped out of it or into subordinate positions. Thus Hiram, a leader among the artists in metal work of Phoenicia, the industry for which that country had been famous for centuries in all the lands around the Mediterranean Sea and even as far as Assyria toward the east, occupies in the story as it has come down to us a position much lower than that which he actually held, as shown by the accounts preserved of the building of Egyptian temples and the rank of the men who held similar positions there to that of Hiram.
The oldest notice of Hiram Abif is in First Kings, VII:13, 14: "And King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and cunning to work all kinds of brass. And he came to King Solomon and wrought all his work." The account in Chronicles is in the Second Book, II:13, 14, where King Hiram of Tyre is represented as saying: "And now I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding, Huram my father's, the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre, skilful to work in gold and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone and in timber, in purple and blue and fine linen, and in crimson, and to find out every device which shall be put to him, with thy cunning men and with the cunning men of David, thy father."
KINGS AND CHRONICLES VARY IN THEIR ACCOUNT
King Hiram, of Tyre, reigned from 969 to 936 B.C., and the building of the Temple at Jerusalem was begun by Solomon in the eleventh year of his Tyrian contemporary's rule, or in 958. The two books of which Kings is composed were not all written at the same time and the authors, or editors, themselves refer to two of their sources of information as "The Acts of Solomon" and "The Book of Jashar," but it is the general belief of biblical scholars that, according to the method of Hebrew writers, the actual text of the older narratives has been preserved, though the book itself did not assume the form in which we have it before 535 B.C. It is not thought that the description of the building of the Temple is of contemporary date, for instance, but was probably written long afterwards, yet the late William Robertson Smith and Prof. E. Kautsch, of Halle, have written that it is probable the original author had access to exact particulars as to dates, the "artist Hiram and so forth, which may have been contained in the Temple records." At any rate, of several accounts of Solomon's reign and the building of the Temple, the only one we possess is Kings that is at all near the date of the event cords. The account in Chronicles is now generally assumed by scholars to be founded upon the earlier canonical books of the Bible with the exception of a lost volume called "The Book of the Kings of Israel," referred to in Chronicles itself. The editor of Chronicles has introduced material peculiar to himself, the value of which is not accepted without question, and the book was compiled some time after 300 B.C., nearly seven centuries after the time of Solomon and the building of the Temple.
Among the alterations made by the Chronicler, unfortunately, are those which cause the account of Hiram Abif to differ in Chronicles from that in Kings. Indeed, it is in Chronicles that the addition of "abif" to the name of Hiram occurs, or rather, as it is in the Hebrew, "abi" in one place, meaning "my father," and "abiw" in the other place, meaning "his father." The "w" in the latter word is an attempt to transliterate the Hebrew letter that was formerly called "vav" into, English. It is still pronounced "v" among the Jewish-speaking people of Southern Russia and Rumania and at the time Luther translated the Bible into German, it was so sounded by the scholars of Western Europe, whence in translating the Hebrew into English, Miles Coverdale, who followed Luther's views, made the word "Abif" or "Abiv." It is from this source that we obtain the name Hiram Abif.
It is to the Chronicler, too, that we owe the statement that Hiram Abif, besides being a worker in brass, was "skillful to work in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple and fine linen" and all the rest of that description, which, as Tyre was not different from other lands of the age, is very unlikely. As the metal workers of the lands of antiquity were called upon to devise art work of the greatest technical ingenuity and artistist taste, it is not improbable that Hiram Abif was able to work gold and silver and copper as well as brass, and he may even have known how to treat iron, as the Chronicler says. That he would have been a worker in stone and timber, however, is contrary to all tradition in the Orient, and it is out of the question to imagine him turning his hand to "purple and blue a linen," which, although it was one of the most important industries of Tyre, was entirely foreign to metal working.
And neither the Chronicler nor the author of Kings gives us any inkling of what finally became of Hiram Abif. "So Huram made an end of doing the work that he wrought for King Solomon in the house of God," says the Chronicler, just as the author of the description in Kings had written at least three centuries before him: "So Hiram made an end of doing all the work that he wrought for King Solomon in the house of Jehovah."
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The only distinction recognized among Masons is that of an excellence in virtue and intelligence. In all respects they stand upon a level.
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THE PILLARS OF BRASS
Bro. Jerome B. Frisbee, California
This clear forthright article on a subject of much interest to Masons is a splendid example of how interesting research may be made. The reader should search out of his old files of THE BUILDER other articles on the same theme, of which the following are typical: "Pillars of the Porch," by Bro. John W. Barry, June, 1917, p. 177; July, 1917, p. 200; Aug., 1917, p. 236. "Accession of Solomon: Building of the Temple at Jerusalem," by H. H. Milman, Sept., 1919, p. 235. "The Two Pillars," by Bro. H. L. Haywood, C.C.B., Oct., 1919. "The Pillars of the Porch," by Bro. W. B. Bragdon, March, 1922, p. 74. "The Egyptian Influence on Our Masonic Ceremonial and Ritual," by Bro. Thomas Ross, Sept, 1922, p. 265.
Bro. Frisbee is the author of a book, magnificently illustrated, on King Solomon's Temple, price $2.00. It may be secured through the National Masonic Research Society, or from The Temple Publishing Company, Lindsay, Cal. The essay printed herewith, written especially for THE BUILDER, is representative of the style and nature of the volume, the author of which is a member of the American Institute of Archaeology.
THE two great pillars of brass, set up before the entrance of King Solomon's Temple, were at once the most striking objects that met the eye and the most puzzling symbols that ever challenged the intellect of man. They are the prototypes of the significant pillars that stand today at the door of every Masonic lodge; mute reminders of a glorious past, exhaling the very essence of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, radiating a vague, superhuman air of eternity with the impressive imperturbability of the silent Sphinx, which, in majestic repose, maintains its eternal vigil before that other mysterious monument of the ages — the Great Pyramid of Egypt.
Masonry cherishes these spectacular pillars with a reverence that excites our wonder, but its explanation of their symbolism is superficial for the simple reason that it has lost their esoteric meaning. These pillars are the keys of the Temple without which its treasure rooms remain unopened and the hidden mysteries forever concealed. The necessity of interpreting their symbolism, before proceeding to explore the Temple, is declared in the most emphatic terms. "Son of man, behold with thine eyes and hear with thine ears and set thine heart upon all that I shall show thee." (Ezekiel XL; 4) "Then he brought me to the porch of the House, even by ten steps whereby they went up to it, and there were pillars by the posts, one on this side and one on that." (Ezekiel XL; 48) "And Jehovah said unto me, Son of man, MARK WELL, and behold with thine eyes and hear with thine ears, and MARK WELL the entrance to the house." (Ezekiel XLIV; 5) Multitudes have gazed with silent awe upon that mysterious entrance, unable to comprehend its meaning even with those eloquent pillars speaking their symbolic language. Today the task is doubly hard, for we must first reconstruct the pillars before we can interpret their symbolism. Many have essayed the task of reproducing these mysterious pillars in pictorial form but the difficulty encountered in endeavouring to interpret the involved descriptions found in the Bible, without a full appreciation of the possibilities revealed by archaeological research, or a clear perception of the principles of artistic design, have produced results that are far from satisfactory. Stade's crude design, reproduced herewith, is typical of them all and embodies the common error of supposing that the pillars supported a portion of the porch. This error is apparent to every Freemason, and should be evident to all students of archaeology, for it was a common practice in ancient times to set up two detached pillars before the temple entrance. One of the best examples extant is the Egyptian temple at Medinet Abu. An excellent illustration of this temple, showing the two pillars may be seen in DeClifford's work: Egypt, the Cradle of Ancient Masonry.
The capitals of the pillars, ornamented with an intricacy of lily work, rows of pomegranate blossoms, nets of checkerwork and wreaths of chainwork, have proved to be most puzzling and most difficult to understand and visualize. The capital here illustrated is a reproduction of the most beautiful capital in the world; the delicate tracery of the tapering spirals and expanding parabolas of this marvellous carving has never been equalled. The original — carved in white stone — stands on the sacred Isle of Philae, far up the Nile, where it was erected during the age of Solomon's Temple. This capital is not only in the form of a lily, but it is conspicuously ornamented with lily work. Its display of lily work, its surpassing beauty, its Egyptian origin and its existence coeval with Solomon's Temple, are the reasons for its selection by the author as the model for the reconstructed pillars.
EGYPT WAS THE SOURCE
Egypt is unquestionably the source from which the builders of King Solomon's Temple derived that peculiar entrancing and almost incomprehensible symbolic architecture which was the expression of their extraordinary intellectual attainments in art, science, philosophy and religion. The hypothesis of a Babylonian origin, assumed by Chipiez and accepted by Caldecott and others, is disproved by the well-known fact that the Babylonians worked in crumbling brick, while the Egyptians wrought in imperishable stone; and by the further fact that the Gebalites and men of Tyre, employed by Solomon, were craftsmen of the Egyptian school.
The relationship existing between the Hebrews and the Egyptians was very intimate. "Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See I have set thee over all the land of Egypt, and he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and he gave him to wife the daughter of Potiphera, Priest of On." (Genesis XLI) Pharaoh's Daughter took Moses and he became her son, he was taught all the learning of the Egyptians and married the daughter of Yethru, a priest of On. In later years Moses decreed: "Thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou was a sojourner in his land. The children of the third generation that are born unto them shall enter into the assembly of Jehovah." (Deuteronomy XXIII; 7) "Solomon built a palace for Pharaoh's daughter whom he had taken to wife." (I Kings VII ; 8)
The commercial intercourse between Tyre and Egypt was also very extensive, and the builders of Tyre could not have been unfamiliar with the wonderful temples standing in majestic splendour along the banks of the Nile. About a hundred miles up the Leontes River, which flows into the sea at Tyre, are the ruins of the temple of Jupiter at Baalbek. Among these ruins lie two hundred granite columns, twenty-five feet length by three feet in length by three feet in diameter, each cut from single block of the peculiar rose-colored granite found only at Aswan in Egypt, seven hundred miles up the Nile.
The builders of Baalbek were Master Masons: they handled the largest blocks of stone ever quarried and polished them with the perfection of a gem. There lies to this day, at the entrance to the quarry, three quarters of a mile from the temple, a rough ashlar of pure white marble, sixteen feet square and sixty-nine feet in length, estimated to weigh 3,000,000 pounds. The uncompleted wall, extending around three sides of the temple and twelve cubits from it, is three courses high and contains stones fifteen feet square and sixty-five feet in length. These stones were laid up wall without mortar and the joints between the stones are so fine that they are almost invisible. "It is no exaggeration to say that they are like the joints in a polished mahogany table top."
King Solomon's Temple was undoubtedly a most beautiful building. It has been famous for ages as the most wonderful structure ever erected by the hand of man, in fact, we are told that it was so perfect that it appeared more like the handiwork of the Supreme Architect of the Universe; while David told Solomon that he received the plans from the hand of Jehovah. In perfection of design and nicety of execution, it doubtless equalled the exquisite work at Baalbek.
These two temples resembled each other in more ways than one, for "Solomon built the inner court with three courses of hewn stone and one of cedar beams." (I Kings VI; 36) "The foundation was of polished stones, even great stones, stones of ten cubits and stones of eight cubits, cut according to measure." (I Kings VII; 10-11) These great stones of ten cubits were twenty feet and ten inches in length by twelve and a half feet square and weighed 500,000 pounds apiece. The foundation under the two pillars of brass, as shown in the illustration, was thirty-two cubits in width (66⅔ feet), and therefore required four great stones of eight cubits. In comparison with this, one of the great blocks of marble at Baalbek is long enough to fill the entire space.
THE BUILDERS OF BAALBEK
Who built Baalbek? We do not know. Those sublime artists were content to please the Grand Architect of the Universe and made no attempt to perpetuate their own names. Their work indicates that they were in possession of the lost word and were masters of the royal secret; if so, they must have looked down upon the idolatrous worshippers with mild disdain. Perhaps the men of Tyre, who lived at the mouth of the river and monopolized the sea trade of the world, could have told who built Baalbek; perhaps they built it themselves. It is a gratuitous assumption that the bricklayers of Babylon built it, and it is just as certain they had nothing to do with the building of King Solomon's Temple. Solomon required men who could polish and juggle huge blocks of marble weighing hundreds of tons, and he found the master workmen of the world at his very door; and finally, we are told that he employed Gebalites, which means stone squarers, and men of Tyre.
"King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He fashioned the two pillars of brass, each eighteen cubits high, and a line of twelve cubits compassed either of them about. And he made two capitals of molten brass to set upon the tops of the pillars: the height of the one capital was five cubits, and the height of the other capital was five cubits." (I Kings VII; 13-16) "As for the pillars, the height of one pillar was eighteen cubits; a line of twelve cubits did compass it; it was hollow and the thickness thereof was four fingers." (Jeremiah XLII; 21, 22) "He made in front of the house two pillars thirty-five cubits high." (II Chronicles III; 15) "Then he brought me to the porch of the house, and he measured each post of the porch; and there were pillars by the posts one on this side and one on that." (Ezekiel XL; 48, 49)
These descriptions differ: two give the height of the pillars at eighteen cubits, one at thirty-five. This discrepancy is more apparent than real, and is explained by the assumption that the eighteen cubits is merely the length of the shaft, while the thirty-five cubits is the total height from the pavement to the top of the sphere and includes the following: foundation, six cubits; base, one cubit; shaft, eighteen cubits; abacus, one cubit; and sphere four cubits; all of which is clearly depicted in the detailed illustration of the pillar.
The design of the pillar herein described and illustrated is based upon the Biblical descriptions, interpreted by a study of numerous Egyptian pillars with capitals of lily work. It was not designed with intent to make it thirty-five cubits in height: in fact, a sketch of this pillar hung on the walls of the author's study for years before he discovered that it measured exactly thirty-five cubits. The shaft was made eighteen cubits in accordance with the description given in both Jeremiah and Kings: the base and abacus were each made one cubit in height for the sake of artistic proportion, and the diameter of the sphere was made four cubits for the same reason — to have made them a cubit either more or less would have destroyed the harmony. "The foundations were a full reed of six great cubits." (Ezekiel XLI; 8) "And by ten steps they went up to it." (Ezekiel XL; 49, Septuagint) The foundation extended five cubits beyond the walls of the building, as shown, for "The breadth of the place that was left was five cubits round about." (Ezekiel XLI; 11)
In the illustration here submitted the foundation extends fifteen cubits to the front of the porch, thus leaving a space of five cubits round about the bases of the pillars. This was done primarily for artistic reasons in order to properly balance the design and give the pillars an appearance of stability; it was also necessary in order to insure a firm foundation for the pillars. This arrangement leads to an important discovery: that the inner court was an oblong square, 250 cubits in length by 100 cubits in width — a use of the numbers 10 and 25 that becomes increasingly significant the further we explore.
PILLARS DID NOT HAVE TWO CAPITALS
As for the capitals, the prevalent notion that each pillar had two capitals, one of four cubits and on top of that another capital of five cubits, is absurd; it is derived from a misinterpretation of the following: "19. And the capitals were of lily work four cubits. 20. And there were capitals above also upon the two pillars." (I Kings VII) Reversing these sentences and transposing a word solves the puzzle thus: "There were also capitals above upon the two pillars, and the capitals were of lily work four cubits." There are, however, real discrepancies, for example: "David bought the threshing floor of Araunath, the Jebusite, for fifty shekels of silver." (II Samuel XXIV; 24) "David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold." (I Chronicles XXI; 25) "The molten sea held two thousand baths" (I Kings VII; 26); while later, "It held three thousand baths." (II Chronicles IV; 5)
Much of this irregularity was doubtless intentional, being necessary, in order to preserve the cabalistic meaning. The Bible teaches its great lessons by means of allegory; it abounds in "parables and dark sayings of old" which contain a double meaning — inviting endless research by the most inquisitive minds, yet rewarding the most humble inquirer, disclosing mysteries to everyone in proportion to his training and powers of comprehension. The pillars of brass exhibit this peculiarity in the superlative degree: their size and beauty making them most impressive spectacles whose perfect balance symbolizes the universal equipoise of Nature, while inherent in their structure are concealed the means by which the earth is measured and weighed.
In order to understand the pillars it is necessary, first, to unscramble the descriptions, then to separate the wheat from the chaff and finally to sort and rearrange the sentences in logical order. This having been accomplished we obtain the following result:
"16. He made two capitals of molten brass, to set upon the tops of the pillars: the height of the one capital was five cubits and the height of the other capital was five cubits. 19. And the capitals were of lily work four cubits. 26. Close to the belly, which was beside the network. 17. There were nets of checker-work and wreaths of chainwork for the capitals. 18. And there were two rows of pomegranates round about upon the one network. 20. And there were two hundred pomegranates, in rows, round about upon the other capital." (I Kings VII)
"The height of the one capital was five cubits with network and pomegranates upon the capital round about, all of brass, and there were ninety-six pomegranates on the four sides; in all there were a hundred pomegranates [in each row] upon the network round about." (Jeremiah LXII; 22, 23)
The full descriptions in the Bible are somewhat lengthy and repetitious in order to make all perfectly clear, but it is evident that each capital was five cubits in height and that four cubits of this were of lily work above the belly. The belly or bowl was covered with nets of checkerwork and carried two rows of pomegranate blossoms round about, one hundred in each row. There were also seven wreaths of chainwork for each capital, draped around the bowl of the capital. The illustration shows the beautiful capital of Philae altered so as to conform to the above interpretation of the descriptions.
"WHAT IS A CUBIT?"
The measurements of the pillars being expressed in cubits, the next question to arise is, "What is a cubit?" There are many answers: the dictionary defines the cubit as eighteen inches, and practically every writer accepts this dictum as final; Frederick, however, makes it twenty-two inches, while Caldecott writes at great length for the purpose of proving that it is but 14.4 inches; the Masonic cubit is the twenty-four-inch gauge; while the Sacred Cubit is twenty-five inches. The writer has proved to his complete satisfaction that King Solomon's Temple was built by the twenty-five-inch cubit. This proposition is demonstrated by a study of the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant, the Court of the Altar, and the Molten Sea. The Pillars of Brass illustrate its use in a most clever manner for they abound in hidden and suggestive references to the sacred number twenty-five. The Sacred Cubit when used to explain the temple measurements, reveals many of the parts and points of the hidden mysteries which have hitherto been concealed; it interprets the system of just weights and measures ordained by Moses, and most extraordinary as it may at first appear, it proves that King Solomon had not only determined the true diameter of the earth but had determined its weight as well.
Caldecott claims, however, that the Temple was measured by the Babylonian cubit of 14.4 inches. This little cubit was found among some ruins in Babylonia in 1881, and, being the latest novelty in cubits, it has attracted considerable attention. There is no evidence, however, that it was employed in the construction of King Solomon's Temple, in fact, it would dwarf the magnificent structure to the point of insignificance; for instance: it would make the famous Middle Chamber only six feet in height, for "He built chambers against all the house, each five cubits high." (I Kings V; 10) The taller Fellowcrafts could not have stood erect in such a tiny room. Built by the Sacred Cubit the ceiling would be ten feet five inches from the floor, a good, sensible height.
These perplexing pillars, variously described as eighteen cubits in height and thirty-five cubits in height, become more intricate as we examine them, for while revealing these two extreme measures, they concealed their true and most significant height, which was twenty-five cubits — including base, shaft, capital and abacus, as shown in the detailed illustration of the pillar. The ingenuity of the designer is further revealed by the fact that the pillars were twenty-five feet in circumference — for, "A line of twelve cubits compassed either of them about." (I Kings VII; 15)
The solution is as follows:
12 cubits multiplied by 25 equals 300 inches
300 inches divided by 12 equals 25 feet
A third and most extraordinary use of the number twenty-five is found in the fact that the spheres upon the tops of the pillars were twenty-five hundred feet above sea level. This statement is easily proved as follows: the topographical map of Jerusalem reveals the fact that the present elevation of the pavement on Mount Moriah is 2435 feet above sea level, with some parts a trifle higher and some a trifle lower; the pillars were twenty-five cubits in height and stood upon a platform six cubits high — a total of thirty-one cubits, or 64 feet 7 inches. Now from a point on the horizontal pavement, measuring 2435 feet, 5 inches above sea level, let us erect a perpendicular 64 feet, 7 inches by the plumb: the elevation of this point will be 2500 feet above sea level.
GREATER THAN THE PYRAMID
In order to secure this peculiar and significant elevation of 2500 feet, Solomon built up both slopes of Mount Moriah with stone work, making a level platform in the form of a perfect square, covering twenty-five square acres. The amount of masonry in this huge platform exceeds by far the volume of the Great Pyramid of Egypt, which covers thirteen acres of ground and once rose 486 feet toward the sky. Much of the temple platform still remains and one can stand on the wall today, with a plumb line in his hand, 150 feet above the lowest foundation stone.
There are other subtle employments of the number twenty-five: the distance from the center of one sphere to the center of the other was twenty-five cubits, while the combined width of the platform and steps in front of the porch was also twenty-five cubits.
These peculiar, involved and fascinating numerical relationships subsist only when we measure the pillars with the twenty-five-inch cubit; reconstructed by any other measure, the pillars are not only incomprehensible but meaningless as well. The whole temple, with its two courts, its vessels and furnishings, respond in like manner to the touch of this magic rod — the Sacred Cubit. Like the Sphinx, then, these two cabalistic pillars, standing at the entrance of the temple, challenge all comers for an interpretation; and unless their esoteric meaning is deciphered the temple remains a mystery. A cowan might enter the Holy of Holies and not learn that it represents the diameter of the earth; he might gaze upon the Holy Ark of the Covenant and fail to perceive that it reveals the weight of the earth; he might even open the sacred Ark and examine the golden cup holding an omer and Aaron's rod that was laid up in the Ark for a token, and fail to recognize the standards of perfect weight and measure. All this and more stands revealed to him who "Marks Well" the entrance to the Temple and solves the riddle of the Sphinx.
We are repeatedly admonished, "Look to the East," and if we gaze with a discerning eye we shall perceive, at the dawn of history, not only men of moral and intellectual development unsurpassed today, but artists and engineers whose work surpasses anything of the kind that the modern world has produced.
It is the province of Freemasonry to perpetuate and inculcate the divine spirit that actuated these marvellous men of the East, and the task of each individual Mason is to build, in Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, the spiritual temple, that house not made with hands.
For the structure that we raise
Time is with materials filled
Our Todays and Yesterdays
Are the blocks with which we build.
Truly shape and fashion these
Leave no yawning gaps between
Think not because no man sees
Such things will remain unseen.
* * *
FREEMASONRY IN PANAMA
Bros. Jose Oller, G.M.; A.D.H. Melhado, P.G.M., and Victor Jesurun, G.S., Panama
This article, written especially for THE BUILDER, is the first published brief history of Masonry in Panama thus far written, so far as we are aware, by officials of the Grand Lodge of Panama, and it therefore possesses more than usual weight and interest. The National Masonic Research Society expresses its thanks to the three distinguished authors who are animated by so genuine a zeal for the great cause in a land where Masonry labors at many disadvantages. Such brethren as may care to discuss the pages following, or to make further inquiries, may address Bro. Oller in our care. All readers are urged to peruse in connection with this contribution, "On the Recognition of the Grand Lodge of Panama," by Bros. M. M. Johnson and W. H. L. Odell, THE BUILDER, March, 1918, p. 86.
IT is reported that evidence of the existence of Freemasonry was found in the early part of the 18th Century in the ruins of the old city of Portobelo, which was founded by the Spaniards in 1597, and if one were to accept that as a fact it would appear that Freemasonry existed on the Isthmus since the time of the conquest by the Spaniards, who, by the way, gave it the suggestive name of Castilla de Oro (Golden Castle).
But an authentic record existed in 1822, that is to say, about a century ago, when it is stated that a few citizens of North America then residing on the Isthmus requested from the Grand Lodge of New York a charter under dispensation with a view of organizing a lodge in the city of Panama to be named, "La Mejor Union." It would appear that this attempt did not materialize and the above named lodge was not established. Another attempt was made to raise the pillars of Freemasonry in Panama, and it is reported that in December 1850 a lodge under dispensation, named "Union," held its first communication under a charter from the Grand Lodge of Texas.
In March 1866, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts granted a charter of dispensation to the "Isthmus Lodge", which, however, did not convene and the charter was surrendered, and as Panama was then a state under the constitution of the United States of Colombia, with Masonic jurisdiction duly organized under the auspices of the Supreme Council of the A.S.R., embracing the three fundamental degrees since 1833, and therefore competent to grant charters to lodges, this lodge (Isthmus Lodge) received a charter from the Supreme Council of Colombia, and we are informed that it continued to work until 1880, when it surrendered its charter. When the French undertook the construction of the Inter-Oceanic Canal the following lodges were established: Fidelity, Le Travail, La Estrella del Pacifico.
These, however, became defunct with the closing of the work of the canal, and as most of their members were foreigners — the natives taking very little part — no efforts were made to maintain them. In February 1898 the Grand Lodge of Scotland granted a charter for the establishment of Sojourners' Lodge, No. 874, in the city of Colon, which was formed for the most part by English-speaking members. This lodge, after a long period of good Masonic work, surrendered its charter in 1913 and secured a charter from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, retaining, however, the name of Sojourners, and, as the construction of the Panama Canal by the United States of America was at its height, this lodge was mostly composed of American citizens. It is worthy of note that when the charter was granted by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts the Sojourners' Lodge was located at Cristobal, in the Canal Zone, Panama being a republic since the 3rd of November, 1903.
As stated above, Panama, which formed part of the United States of Colombia, severed its political relations with that Government, declaring its independence on the 3rd of November, 1903, thus establishing the Republic of Panama, which under the Constitution of Feb. 15, 1904, became a free and independent nation. Her independence was recognized by the United States of America, and by a treaty the United States of America was granted a strip of land for the construction of the Panama Canal. This treaty was approved by both governments — Panama and the United States of America — and was signed at Washington, D. C., on the 18th day of November, 1903.
The Republic of Panama was then regarded as open Masonic ground, as the Supreme Council of Colombia (seat at Cartagena) did not have any lodge in the Republic of Panama, Sojourners' Lodge, No. 874, under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, being the only Masonic body alive.
THE FIRST LODGE WAS ESTABLISHED
The first lodge established under the flag of the Republic of Panama was "Rosa de America Lodge, No. 65", with a charter from the Grand Lodge of Venezuela, Caracas being the seat of that Grand Lodge. This lodge was established on the 27th of February, 1907, and there began a new and brilliant era for Freemasonry in the Isthmus of Panama, as very many of the Panamaians, many of whom were of the best social standing and holding good positions in the Government and other branches of public life, were received into the Order. Later on in 1910 the Supreme Council of Colombia (seat at Cartagena) issued a charter to "Acacia Lodge, No. 50." Both these lodges worked for the good and welfare of the Order, although there was at that time some rivalry between them as to the right of jurisdiction for the Republic of Panama, this rivalry, however, being more between the two Grand bodies than between the lodges themselves. "Acacia Lodge" was afterwards closed down by mutual consent of its members and another charter was issued by the Supreme Council of Colombia (seat of Cartagena) for the establishment of the "Cosmopolita Lodge, No. 55."
Ten years after the secession of Panama from Colombia, Masonry had developed considerably, as by that time other lodges were established besides the two already mentioned. The Order having attained the standard of stability so long desired by the Panamaians, and as the membership of the "Rosa de America Lodge" was so large, they were able to establish others directly from among their own members. The lodges so established were Pro Mundi Benefico, Restauracion, Orion, Jos. B. Alvizna, and Aurora do Istmo.
An attempt was made in 1913 to form a Grand Lodge, and on Oct. 14 of that year all the lodges (with the exception of "Cosmopolita," which insisted in paying obedience to the Supreme Council of Colombia (seat at Cartagena), decided to establish a Grand Lodge in the Republic of Panama. This Grand Lodge, however, was only recognized by a few Grand bodies of South America, viz.: Venezuela, Guatemala and Dominican Republic. It was also accepted as a member of the International Masonic Association, with seat at Neuchatel, Switzerland. During its existence this Grand Lodge issued a charter to a new lodge composed of English-speaking Masons in the city of Panama, named "Unity, No. 7," as the lodges under its jurisdiction were numbered anew, the old ones losing their old numbers.
It was not until April 19, 1916, that Panama realized the importance of Freemasonry, when the leading Masons of the republic had acquired the necessary knowledge to organize a Grand Lodge in accordance with Masonic Jurisprudence. All the Masons and lodges officially got together (at this time "Cosmopolita Lodge" united with the move) and the representative; of each and every lodge in the city of Panama (there being no lodges at any other point) met with the consent of the Grand Lodge of Venezuela and the Supreme Council of Colombia, which gave these lodges full powers and founded the Grand Lodge of Panama and began to prepare a constitution. This task was placed in the hands of a committee which, after a short time, presented a constitution to the members of the Grand Lodge which was considered by that body and passed in its first and second readings, and was signed on the 16th of August, 1916. Election of Grand officers then followed.
A special communication of the Grand Lodge was called for the 12th of October for the installation of the new Grand officers, which was done amidst the greatest enthusiasm among the Masons, and they immediately proceeded with the work of preparing the by-laws.
The first temporary Grand Master of the Grand Lodge was M. W. Enrique Vallarino, from April to October, 1916. This is for the reason that the Grand Master elected to serve for the term ending March 8, 1917, was M. W. Guillermo Andreve, who was installed as stated above in October 1916. The Grand Lodge of Panama, thus organized, was welcomed by Masonry in general, and particularly by the M. W. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. This Grand Lodge had granted a charter to Sojourners' Lodge.
BROTHER MELVIN M. JOHNSON AN ENVOY
M.W. Melvin Maynard Johnson, Past Grand Master and Special Envoy to Isthmian Masonry, during a visit to the Isthmus, signed a treaty of Recognition and Jurisdiction — ad referendum — with Grand Master Andreve, whereby the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts recognized the Grand Lodge of Panama as a sovereign regular and true Grand Lodge, and the Grand Lodge of Panama in its turn waived jurisdiction over the Canal Zone in favor of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. This treaty was ratified and signed in the city of Panama June 24, 1917. M.W. Rafael Neira, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Panama, and R.W. Herbert C. White, District Grand Master of the Canal Zone, officiated at this ceremony. M.W. Melvin Maynard Johnson had installed a District Grand Lodge during his previous visit.
A great internal reorganization took place. Some lodges became defunct and their members affiliated themselves with others, and in some instances charters were granted to new lodges.
At present there are the following lodges established in the city of Panama (Pacific side of the canal):
- Rosa de America, No. 1.
- Cosmopolita, No. 2.
- Pro Mundi Beneficio, No. 3.
- Pacific, No. 5.
In the city of Colon (Atlantic side of the canal):
- Atlantida, No. 6.
- Union, No. 7.
According to official data there were about 500 Masons on the rolls, but, unfortunately, some who neglected their duties fell into irregularity and were dropped therefrom. Quite a large proportion of the remainder have attained to a high standard of efficiency and have continued to work for the good and welfare of the Order. There are now about 300 brothers who toil for the welfare of the Craft.
The Grand Lodge of Panama is now a well-organized institution, demanding strict obedience to the ancient landmarks and utilizing its utmost endeavor to lay up for itself a bright future, in spite of its struggles against prejudice, fanaticism, jealousy and ignorance.
Since the organization of the Grand Lodge of Panama it has been the ideal of every Mason to build a Masonic Temple in the city of Panama — a home for the Grand Lodge of Panama and a place where brethren from all parts of the world may feel sure of a truly fraternal reception. Last year the Grand Lodge acquired a plot of land with an area of 1392 square metros located in a conspicuous spot facing the Pacific Ocean, where all incoming and outgoing vessels through the canal will be able to see the Square and Compasses.
Shortly after the formation of the Grand Lodge the subordinate lodges worked their degrees with different authorized rituals; those that had originally taken their charter from Venezuela used the so-called Scottish Rite Ritual taken from Cassard; whilst the lodge that had its charter from Colombia worked under the same ritual taken from Almeida.
A UNIFORM RITUAL IS ADOPTED
The Grand Lodge of Panama recognized that this was not a desirable situation, and in 1920 — M.W. Jose Maria Fernandez being then Grand Master — the Grand Lodge of Panama passed a law whereby it adopted the ritual authorized by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and this was translated into Spanish and is now being used by the lodges in which Spanish is spoken on the Isthmus.
There are two lodges composed of English-speaking members — Pacific, No. 5, and Union, No. 7 — which, on receipt of their charter, were granted dispensation to work in the Ancient York Ritual authorized by the Grand Lodge of England.
The first Grand Secretary was Brother Jose Oller, who served for three years consecutively, carrying out his arduous task with great success. He was succeeded by Brother Jesurun, who has been reselected for four years consecutively. The Masonic period 1923 to 1924 will complete his fifth year of efficient service for the welfare of the Craft.
The following Grand Masters have been elected since the organization of the Grand Lodge:
- 1916-17 M.W. Guillermo Andreve.
- 1917-18 M.W. Guillermo Andreve.
- 1918-19 M.W. Rafael Neira
- 1919-20 M.W. Jose Maria Fernandez.
- 1920-21 M.W. Guillermo Andreve.
- 1921-22 M.W. A. D. H. Melhado.
- 1922-23 M.W. A. D. H. Melhado.
- 1923-24 M.W. Jose Oller.
It is pleasing to the Grand Lodge of Panama to report that its relations with other Grand Lodges have been most cordial, and up to the present it has been recognized by the following Grand Lodges:
Alabama, Arkansas, Colombia (Barranquilla), Colombia (Cartagena), Colorado, Connecticut, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, Philippine, Francia, Guatemala, Indiana, Iowa, Ireland, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Peru, Puerto Rico, Salvador, South Dakota, Venezuela, Vermont, Ecuador.
In conclusion, the above account gives, although very briefly, a history of Freemasonry in Panama — a strip of land which has united and will continue to unite the Americans with a fraternal tie, and which, kissed by the two oceans by means of the canal, has contributed most generously that humanity may benefit from the fruits of a more intense commercial intercourse than hitherto.
May these lines based as they are on facts serve as an appropriate means whereby our Masonic brethren in other lands be well informed of our organization, our labors, our ideals and our objects; and that those jurisdictions which, for any reason whatever, have been reticent in extending us the fraternal hand of Masonic recognition, be disposed so to do to our mutual benefit and the glory of our most ancient Order.
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MEMORIALS TO GREAT MEN WHO WERE MASONS
Bro. Geo. W. Baird. P.G.M., District of Columbia
ON Oct. 12, 1922, only a year ago, a bronze statue of Edmund Burke, erected at the expense of the Sulgrave Institute, an English organization with a branch in this country, was set up in Washington, D.C. We know Burke as one of the mightiest of British statesmen, as one of the world's master orators, and as the best friend our Colonial forefathers had in the British Parliament when they fought for independence, but we do not know as well as we should that Burke was also a Freemason, as were also many of his celebrated friends or contemporaries, among them being Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Richard Savage, James Boswell, David Garrick, Sir William Forbes, etc. (See THE BUILDER, July, 1923, p. 207.) Burke was a member of Jerusalem Lodge, No. 44, Clerkenwell, London.
He was born in Dublin 1729 and died in England July 8, 1797, being buried in the little church at Beaconsfield at his own request, though there was a general demand that he be entombed in Westminster. His father was a Protestant attorney, his mother a Roman Catholic, Edmund and his two brothers following the father in matters of faith. Burke entered a school at Ballitore, then went up to Trinity College, Dublin, where Oliver Goldsmith was a classmate, and where, without winning any great glory in scholarship, he took his degree in 1748. In 1750 he went over to London to enter the Temple as a law student, but soon, like so many other youths of similar temperament, conceived so violent a distaste for that profession that he abandoned it, whereupon his father withdrew his allowance, for he refused to support his son in the vagrant pursuit of literature which then became the young man's ambition.
The young Burke fell upon a season of difficulties. "I was not swaddled and rocked and candled into a legislator," he wrote in later life, for once breaking his custom of silence concerning those early years; "Nitor in adversum is the motto for a man like me. At every step of my progress in life (for in every step I was traversed and opposed) and at every turnpike I met I was obliged to show my passport. Otherwise no rank, no toleration even, for me."
But he had a passport to show. In 1756 he made his mark by a brilliant satire on Bolingbroke in A Vindication of Natural Society, and then immediately repeated his success by publishing what is now considered an English classic, Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas on the Sublime and Beautiful.
We are here more interested in him as the friend of the American Colonists. We admire a man with the courage of his convictions, who dares to do right in spite of his peers and not because of them. A decade ago we should have been censured for saying that it was George III and his royal court and not the British people who made war on the Colonists, or for reminding a reader how English we were in the days when the first census taken (1790) showed 72 per cent of the population of English birth or extraction, as against 5.8 per cent Scotch, and only .35 per cent Irish. The Revolutionary War was so unpopular in England that George III was obliged to go to Hesse Dermstadt for soldiers. Frederick the Great, a Mason, and supposed to have been one of the founders of the Scottish Rite, stopped those enlistments, and later sent a sword to General George Washington, a fellow Mason, along with a beautiful message.
HE BECOMES AGENT FOR NEW YORK
Burke was for a short time agent for New York at a salary of 700 pounds. In 1774 he boldly and publicly sided with the cause of the American Colonies. His great speech on American taxation, delivered April 9, 1774, was a brilliant feat, still read and admired. His support of the rebelling Colonists made him unpopular with his constituents, but he proved himself invincible.
One of the great events in Burke's career was the publication of his Reflections on the Revolution in France, which so electrified London, November, 1790. "Its vogue was instant and enormous," writes John Morley. "Eleven editions were exhausted in little more than a year, and there is probably not much exaggeration in the estimate that 30,000 copies were sold before Burke's death seven years afterwards. George III was extravagantly delighted; Stanislaus of Poland sent Burke words of thanks and high glorification and a gold medal. Catharine of Russia, the friend of Voltaire and the benefactress of Diderot, sent her congratulations to the man who denounced French philosophers as miscreants and wretches."
It is remarkable that so many active spirits in the French Revolution and in our own were Masons — Burke, Frederick the Great, Heli Dumont, Voltaire, Franklin, Lafayette, Washington, John Paul Jones, Napoleon. The beautiful memorial depicted in the frontispiece is in a triangular lot between Massachusetts Avenue, L street and 11th street, and faces the east, as is proper that it should.
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CHAPTERS OF MASONIC HISTORY
By Bro. H. L. Haywood
Editor The Builder
PART VI. FREEMASONRY AND THE COMACINE MASTERS
In a chapter on the Roman Collegia published last June I referred briefly to the Comacine builder guilds as forming a bridge between the ancient classical culture of Rome and the medieval civilization which grew up after the barbarian invasions had ceased, leaving Europe in a state of more or less quiet. It is now in order to proceed farther into that subject, for it is one that will pay careful examination, especially since so much is being written about it these days pro and con. One friend and brother, who has a name among Masonic scholars, exclaimed in a recent letter, "I have grown weary of hearing about those blessed Comacines, and how Freemasonry sprang out of their loins, and how they kept the light burning in the Middle Ages. The truth is we know nothing about them." I could not agree with this colleague because he is undoubtedly wrong in saying that we know nothing about the Comacine masters — we know a great deal — but I could understand why he should be so impatient of those enthusiasts who have been claiming far more for the Comacines than the facts warrant. It will not be our purpose here to attempt to settle the problem one way or another; a setting forth of such facts as are known, with a brief sketch of the theory concerning their bearing on the history of Freemasonry, will satisfy our present needs.
The Comacine theory was first brought to the attention of the English-speaking Masonic world by a woman, Mrs. Lucy Baxter, who, writing over the penname of "Leader Scott", published in 1899 a remarkable volume entitled The Cathedral Builders; The Story of a Great Masonic Guild, with eighty-three illustrations, issued by Simpson Low, Marston and Company, London. The book is now unfortunately out of print, and growing more scarce all the while, with a rapidly mounting price. This work of 435 pages was followed in 1910 by a kind of codicil, in the shape of a small volume of eighty pages, by our faithful and beloved friend, Brother W. Ravenscroft, called The Comacines, Their Predecessors and Their Successors, afterwards published as a serial in THE BUILDER, along with many illustrations, and then reissued in book form. Except for scattered references in histories and encyclopedias these two books comprise the sole literary sources for English-speaking Masons, but there is quite an abundant literature on the subject in Italian, some of which should be translated and published in America.
I. HISTORY OF THE COMACINES
As we have already seen, the arts and crafts of the Roman Empire were rigidly organized into guilds, or collegia, each of which had in monopolistic control some one business, profession or handicraft. These were destroyed by the barbarians along with the towns and communities in which they were located, but a few of them, at Constantinople and in Rome particularly, survived the holocaust. It is believed that a collegium, or a few collegia, of architects and their workmen continued in the diocese of Como, situated in the Lombard kingdom of Northern Italy, on and about the lovely Lake Como, which included the districts of Mendrisio, Lugano, Bellinzona and Magadino. Why they remained there is a mystery, but it is believed that the presence of large stone quarries in that region was one reason, and that the strength and relatively high development of the Lombardic state was another. This region, many suppose, remained their seat and center for centuries; hence, their name, "Comacini."
"The expression 'magistri Comacine'," writes Rivoira in his magnificent Lombardic Architecture (Vol. 1, p. 108), "appears for the first time in the code of the Lombard king, Rotharis (636-652), where, in the laws numbered CXLIII and CXLV, they figure as Master Masons with full and unlimited powers to make contracts and subcontracts for building works; to have their collegantes or 'colleagues' partners, members of the guild or fraternity, call them what you will — and lastly, their serfs (servi) or workmen and labourers." Rivoira says that in the region of Como guilds, or collegia, had never come to an end, and that many stone, marble and timber yards existed there to attract such workmen.
In his History of Italian Architecture Ricci states that the Comacine guilds were made free and independent of medieval restraints and set at liberty to travel about at will, but that statement has received no confirmation in Papal Bulls, the Acts of the Carolingian Kings, or in any of the authentic annalists, though search has often been made, and was made at Rome long before there existed any prejudice against Freemasonry in that quarter. The Comacines extended their influence and activities in the same way as other guilds, by invitation and contract, and by organization of lodges in new towns.
When St. Boniface went to Germany as a missionary, Pope Gregory II gave "him credentials, instructions, etc., and sent with him a large following of monks, versed in the art of building, and of lay brethren who were also architects, to assist them." Italian chroniclers say that when the monk Augustine was sent in A.D. 598 as a missionary to convert the British, Pope Gregory sent along several Masons with him, and that Augustine later on sent back for more men capable of building churches, oratories and monasteries. Leader Scott believes that in both these instances the workmen sent were Comacine masters and bases her contention on the evidence of building methods and styles employed. Similarly, she traces the Comacines into Sicily, Normandy, and into all the large centers of Southern, Italy, in this way explaining how, by a gradual circling outward, the Comacine fraternity of builders came at last to work in nearly all parts of Europe and Britain.
On page 159 of her book Leader Scott gives a valuable summary of the history of the Comacines, basing it largely, one may suppose, on Merzario's I Maestri Comacini, Vol I, a treatise that should by all means be translated and published in this country.
"Let us restate the argument briefly —
"1. When Italy was overrun by the barbarians, Roman Collegia were everywhere suppressed.
"2. The architectural college of Rome is said to have removed from that city to the republic of Comum.
"3. In early medieval times, one of the most important Masonic guilds in Europe was the Society of Comacine masters, which in its constitution, methods and work was essentially Roman, and seems to have been the survival of this Roman college.
"4. Italian chroniclists assert that architects and masons accompanied Augustine to England, and later Italian continental writers of repute adopted that view.
"5. Whether this is proved or not, it was customary for missionaries to take in their train persons experienced in building, and if Augustine did not do go, his practice was an exception to what seems to have been a general rule. Besides, a band of forty monks would have been useless to him unless some of them could follow a secular calling useful to the mission, for they were unacquainted with the British language and could not act independently.
"6. Masonic monks were not uncommon, and there were such monks associated with the Comacine body; so that qualified architects were easily found in the ranks of the religious orders.
"7. From Bede's account of the settlement of Augustine's mission in Britain, it seems clear that he must have brought Masonic architects with him.
"8. Gregory would be likely to choose architects for the mission from the Comacine Order, which held the old Roman traditions of building, rather than those of a Byzantine guild, and the record of their work in Britain proves that he did.
"9. In Saxon as in the earlier Comacine carvings there are frequent representations of fabulous monsters, symbolical birds and beasts, the subjects of some of these carvings being suggested, apparently, by the Physiologists, which had a Latin origin.
"10. In the writings of the Venerable Bede and Richard, Prior of Hagustald, we meet with phrases and words which are in the Edict of King Rotharis of 643, and in the Memoratorio of 713 of King Luitprand, which show that these writers were familiar with certain terms of art used by the Comacine masters."
If this account be true it is of inestimable importance to us as giving an explanation of how the arts of civilization, long supposed to have become extinct during the Dark Ages, were never extinct at all but were continued in preservation by the workmen and artists in the Comacine guilds. Those men were more than builders, for they were skilled in many other crafts beside, and understood sculpture, painting, Cosmati work or mosaic, wood work and carving, and also, it may well be, literature and music, along with many other accomplishments belonging to the civil arts. Like one ship crossing a stormy sea into which all its sister vessels had sunk, the organization of the Comacine masters preserved the ark of civilization until such time as the hurricane cleared from Europe and the seething barbarian tribes themselves became ready for peace and communal life. If there is any unbroken continuity in the history of architecture, if builder guilds of a more modern period can trace any of their arts, traditions and customs back to ancient times, it is through the Comacines that the chain was kept unbroken in the Dark Ages.
It must not be supposed that all this has as yet been solidly established; the Comacine Theory continues to be a theory. Rivoira, who is always so careful, is cautious against accepting too much. He says that we know little about their manner of organization, or about the terms connected with them, schola, loggia, etc. But even so he attributes to them great histories importance, not only as serving as a link with the ancient collegia, but also as paving the way for the magnificent renaissance of art and civilization which as seen in our first chapter in this series, burst into flower in Gothic architecture. His following words bear witness to that.
"Whatever may have been the organization of the Comacine or Lombard guilds, and however these may have been affected by outward events, they did not cease to exist in consequence of the fall of the Lombard kingdom. With the first breath of municipal freedom, and with the rise of the new brotherhoods of artisans, they, too, perhaps, may have reformed themselves like the latter who were nothing but the continuation of the 'collegium' of Roman times preserving its existence through the barbarian ages, and transformed little by little into the medieval corporation. The members may have found themselves constrained to enter into a more perfect unity of thought and sentiment, to bind themselves into a more compact body, and thus put themselves in a condition to maintain their ancient supremacy in carrying out the most important building works in Italy. But we cannot say anything more. And even putting aside all tradition, the monuments themselves are there to confirm what we have said."
Merzario, not quite as cautious as Rivoira, bears witness in the same manner:
"In this darkness which extended over all Italy, only one small lamp remained alight, making a bright spark in the vast Italian necropolis. It was from the Magistri Comacini. Their respective names are unknown, their individual works unspecialized, but the breath of their spirit might be felt all through those centuries, and their name collectively is legion. We may safely say that of all the works of art between A.D. 800 and 1000, the greater and better part are due to that brotherhood — always faithful and often secret — of the Magistri Comacini. The authority and judgment of learned men justify the assertion."
Signor Agostino Segredio is similarly convinced, and so expresses himself in a passage quoted on page 56 of Ravenscroft's The Comacines:
"While we are speaking of the Masonic Companies and their jealous secrecy we must not forget the most grand and potent guild of the Middle Ages, that of the Freemasons; originating most probably from the builders of Como (Magistri Comacini). it spread beyond the Alps. Popes gave them their benediction, monarchs protected them, and the most powerful thought it an honour to be inscribed in their ranks. They with the utmost jealousy practised all the arts connected with building, and by severe laws and penalties (perhaps also with bloodshed) prohibited others from the practice of building important edifices. Long and hard were the initiations to aspirants, and mysterious were the meetings and the teaching, and to enable themselves they dated their origin from Solomon's Temple."
And so also Leader Scott, who Sums up the matter in a sentence:
"Thus, though there is no certain proof that the Comacines were the veritable stock from which the pseudo-Freemasonry of the present day sprang, we may at least admit that they were a link between the classic Collegia and all other art and trade guilds of the Middle Ages."
Brother Joseph Fort Newton accepts this interpretation in The Builders, where, on page 86, he writes:
"With the breaking up of the College of Architects and their expulsion from Rome, we come upon a period in which it is hard to follow their path. Happily the task has been made less baffling by recent research, and if we are unable to trace them all the way much light has been let into the darkness. Hitherto there has been a hiatus also in the history of architecture between the classic art of Rome, which is said to have died when the empire fell to pieces, and the rise of Gothic art. Just so, in the story the builders one finds a gap of like length, between the Collegia of Rome and the cathedral artists. While the gap cannot, as yet be perfectly bridged, much has been done to that end by Leader Scott in The Cathedral Builders: The Story of a Great Masonic Guild — a book itself a work of art as well as of fine scholarship. Her thesis is that the missing link is to be found in the Magistri Comacini, a guild of architects who, on the break-up of the Roman Empire, fled to Comacina, a fortified island in Lake Como, and there kept alive the traditions of classic art during the Dark Ages; that from them were developed in direct descent the various styles of Italian architecture; and that, finally, they carried the knowledge and practice of architecture and sculpture into France, Spain, Germany and England. Such a thesis is difficult, and from its nature not susceptible of absolute proof, but the writer makes it as certain as anything can well be."
On the other side are authorities who deny the existence of any such fraternity as the Comacines, or else give them a minor place in the history of medieval architecture. R. F. Gould, in the original edition of his Concise History, page 105, speaks his mind clearly:
"At the present day the idea of there having been, in the early part of the thirteenth century, Colleges of Masons in every country of Europe, which received the blessing of the Holy See, under an injunction of dedicating their skill to the erection of ecclesiastical buildings, may be dismissed chimerical. Though I must not forget that, according to the well-known and highly imaginative Historical Essay on Architecture (1835) of Mr. Hope — who greatly expands the meaning of two passages in the works of Muratori — a body of traveling architects, who wandered over Europe during the Middle Ages, received the appellation of Magistri Comacini, or Masters of Como, a title which became generic to all those of the profession. The idea has been revived by a recent writer, who believes that these Magistri Comacini were a survival of the Roman Collegia, that they settled in Como and were afterwards employed by the Lombard kings, under whose patronage they developed a powerful and highly organized guild, with a dominant influence on the whole architecture of the Middle Ages (The Cathedral Builders). But, even if such a theory had any probability, it would be far from clearing up certain obscurities in the history of medieval architecture, as the author suggests would be the case. Interchanges of influence were not uncommon, but the works of local schools present far too marked an individuality to render it possible that they could owe much (if anything) to the influence of any central guild."
On page 175 of the same work Gould refers to George Edmund Street as saying that such a theory as that of the Comacines "seems to me to be altogether erroneous"; Wyatt Papworth as saying that "I believe they never existed"; and on the preceding pages prints a long excerpt from Dr. Milman to the same effect.
It appears to me that this opposition is a reaction to an exaggeration of the Comacine argument. Leader Scott does not claim for them that they themselves laid out European civilization, or founded Gothic architecture (as Dr. Newton appears to do, and which is most certainly an error), or that the founding of all the medieval architectural styles was their work; she holds merely that in and around Lake Como there long existed a guild of architects, and to this guild traced many influences; their influence in various lands she suggests by way of cautious tentative theories, and never wearies of warning her reader that she is feeling her way through the dark; and she believes that the history of this Comacine guild may be traced back to very ancient days, and may be very probably linked on to the history of the Roman collegia.
II. THE COMACINES AND FREEMASONRY
We Masons have long ceased to be moved by the vulgar desire to claim for our Fraternity an impossible antiquity, as if it had been organized by Adam in the Garden of Eden, or was, as one old worthy expressed it, diffused through space before God created the world. Freemasonry is old enough as it is, and honourable enough, not to require that we embellish it by a fabulous lineage. We know that it came into existence gradually, like everything else in our human world, here a little and there a little, and that it was no more miraculous in the past than it is now. At the same time we are interested to observe the rise and prosperity of organizations similar to it, or prophetic of it, wherever or whenever they may have come into existence. The use of cooperation and of fraternity, the employment of the device of secrecy and loyalty to aims above the present moment, the contemplation of such endeavors by our striving fellow men, toiling in the dim twilights of life, is always an inspiration, and helps to set aglow the ideals of our own Masonry hidden away in the recesses of our souls. It is from such a point of view, I believe, that we should look upon the story of the Comacines; I have not been able to persuade myself that they were in any accurate use of the word Freemasons, or that our own Fraternity has had any but the most tenuous and general historic connections with the lodges of those old masters. The story of our Craft is intertwined with the history of architecture, so that any new light on the latter helps us the better to understand the evolution of the former; in this sense, and in the sense defined just above, the story of the Comacines is of value to us, but not as comprising a chapter in the known veridical history of Masonry. The Comacine guild was in many respects similar to the Masonic guilds that came after, and which served as the roots from which Symbolical Masonry ultimately developed, but to see in the Comacine guild the immediate parent of the Masonic guild is not possible, it seems to me, unless we are to trust too much to imagination or are willing to stretch the word "Freemasonry" to mean more than it should. My own theory, which will be elaborated step by step as these chapters proceed, is that Freemasonry strictly so-called originated in England, and in England only that it had its gradual rise among the guilds that grew up with Gothic architecture; that a germ of moralism, religion and ceremonialism in those guilds, chancing to find itself in a favouring environment, out-grew the operative element until in the seventeenth century lodges began to become wholly speculative; that in this time of transition new elements were introduced from certain occult sources; and that this evolution culminated at last in 1717 with the founding of the Mother Grand Lodge at London, from which all modern Freemasonry has been subsequently derived. I have not been able to satisfy myself, though I have had the will to try, that our Masonry was given to us by the Comacine masters.
Leader Scott herself, whose knowledge of Freemasonry was even less than her opinion of it, was very careful not to confuse the Freemasonry of today with what she rather loosely (too loosely, one may think) calls the "Freemasonry" of the Comacine guild. The passage in which she expresses herself is almost always quoted only in part; I shall give it in full, not only as showing her own theory of the historical connections between the two, but also as revealing her unfortunate lack of knowledge of Masonry as it exists today. The passage quoted begins on page 16 of her book:
"Since I began writing this chapter a curious chance has brought into my hands an old Italian book on the institutions, rites and ceremonies of the Order of Freemasons. Of course the anonymous writer begins with Adoniram, the architect of Solomon's Temple, who had so very many workmen to pay that, not being able to distinguish them by name, he divided them into three different classes, novices, operatori and magistri, and to each class gave a secret set of signs and passwords, so that from these their fees could be easily fixed and imposture avoided. It is interesting to know that precisely the same divisions and classes existed in the Roman Collegium and the Comacine Guild — and that, as in Solomon's time, the great symbols of the order were the endless knot or Solomon's knot, and the 'Lion of Judah.'
"Our author goes on to tell of the second revival of Freemasonry, in its present entirely spiritual significance, and he gives Oliver Cromwell, of all people, the credit of this revival! The rites and ceremonies he describes are the greatest tissue of medieval superstition, child's play, blood-curdling oaths and mysterious secrecy with nothing to conceal that can be imagined. All the signs of Masonry without a figment of reality; every moral thing masquerades under an architectural aspect, and that 'Temple made without hands' which is figured by a Freemason's lodge in these days. But the significant point is that all these names and Masonic emblems point to something real which existed at some long-past time, and, as far as regards the organization and nomenclature, we find the whole thing in its vital and actual working form in the Comacine guild. Our nameless Italian who reveals all the Masonic secrets, tells us that every lodge has three divisions, one for the novices, one for the operatori or working brethren, and one for the masters. Now wherever we find the Comacines at work we find the threefold organization of Schola or school for the novices, Laborerium for the operatori, and the Opera or Fabbrica for the Masters of Administration.
"The anonymous one tells us that there is a Gran Maestro or Arch-magister at the head of the whole order, a Capo Maestro or chief master at the head of each lodge. Every lodge must besides be provided with two or four Soprastanti, a treasurer and a secretary-general, besides accountants. This is precisely what we find in the organization of the Comacine lodges. As we follow them through the centuries we shall see it appearing in city after city, at first fully revealed by the books of the treasurers and Soprastanti themselves, in Siena, Florence and Milan.
"Thus, though there is no certain proof that the Comacines were the veritable stock from which the pseudo-Masonry of the present day sprang, we may at least admit that they were a link between the classic Collegia and all other art and trade Guilds of the Middle Ages."
The analogies between the two briefly referred to in this quoted passage, might be expanded. The Comacines had lodges, Grand Masters, secrets (they kept a secret book called L'Arcano Magistero), wore aprons, kept a chest, dispensed charity, possessed means of identification, and employed much symbolism of which some items are familiar to us, as King Solomon's knot, the Lion of Judah, the two Great Pillars "J" and "B"; square, compasses, mosaic pavement, etc. Also there was a certain gradation among them, similar to our degrees, though I have failed to discover any evidence of an initiation.
Brother Ravenscroft, with whom one is loathe ever to disagree and who continues his researches in this field, may be right in thinking that some ancient Masonic traditions, particularly such as had to do with Solomon's Temple, were preserved and transmitted to us out of antiquity by the Comacines. It is a fascinating theory to which future discoveries may bring more convincing proof; it would seem to me, if I may again express a private opinion, that two facts tell heavily against such a theory; one is that these traditions, most of them at least, have always been preserved in the Scriptures and therefore available at any time; and, what is more important, there was no known connection between the Comacine guild, which did its own work in Italy where Gothic never became established, and the guilds among which Gothic grew up.
The whole Comacine question, so far as speculative Freemasonry is concerned, it thus appears, remains in the air, or, if one prefers the figure, on the knees of the gods. This means that there is much work remaining to be done by students of today, who will find themselves, if they will turn their attention to medieval architecture and its history, in an enchanted realm.
Cathedral Builders, Leader Scott (Mrs. Lucy Baxter). The Comacines, W. Ravenscroft. A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Vol. I, A. E. Waite. A Concise History of Freemasonry, R. F. Gould. A Critical Inquiry Into the Condition of the Conventual Builders and Their Relation to Secular Guilds, George F. Fort. From Schola to Cathedral, G. Baldwin Brown. Lombardic Architecture: Its Origin, Development and Derivatives, G.T. Rivoira. History of Italian Architecture, Ricci. I Maestri Comacine, Prof. Merzario. Handbook of Architecture, James Fergusson. Historical Essay on Architecture, Thomas Hope. Sacred and Legendary Art, Mrs. Jameson. Renaissance of Art: Fine Arts, John Addington Symonds. A History of Latin Christianity, Milman, A.Q.C. V. p. 229, A.Q.C. XII, p. 124, Mackey's Revised History of Freemasonry, Clegg, ch. 60. Guilds of Florence, Staley. Memorials of German Gothic Architecture, Moller. Medieval Architecture, Porter. Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern, J. L. Mosheim. Dictionary of Architecture, C. L. Stieglitz. Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Mackey, Vol. I, p.161. A History of Architecture in Italy, C. A. Cummings.
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THE CRAFT AND ITS AUXILIARIES
Unless all signs fail and our shrewdest prophets are astray in their vaticinations, the auxiliary bodies that prerequire of their membership some connection with Freemasonry are in for a day of reckoning, and that before long. The subject is coming up in one Grand Lodge after another, and in many cases action of some sort has already been taken, while in other quarters official warnings have been published. To judge by an increasing number of items in the Masonic press the rank and file of brethren stand pretty solidly behind their rulers though almost all of them belong to some one or more of the organizations whose policies are being brought into question. The burden of complaint appears to be that some of these social and semi-Masonic societies are tending away from Masonic principles and in a few cases almost openly flout Masonic landmarks.
It is not the purpose here to examine the pros and cons of these allegations, or to examine into any particular case, nor should it be inferred that there is any inclination to question the right of these bodies to exist. There is as yet plenty of time in which these cousins in the Masonic family, if they heed the warnings, and respond to the admonitions of their friends, may make the required readjustments or reforms, Meanwhile we can all get more clearly in mind a few governing principles which, in their scope and permanence, are axiomatic and underlie all action and discussion. Consider a few of them.
The Grand Lodge of Symbolical, or Blue, Masonry, is the cornerstone of the whole edifice, and is clearly recognized as such in the constitution of all regular bodies. (We are speaking here of the Masonic system in the United States.) The Grand Lodge is the mother power holding in final custody all Masonic authority; it defines landmarks and lays down the conditions of membership in any recognized Masonic organization. If Grand Lodge declares a man expelled, clandestine, or irregular, he can have no standing in any other Masonic communion, be it Royal Arch, Council, Knight Templar or Scottish Rite. This is the point of departure in all Masonic jurisprudence, and from it follows the fact that any Grand Lodge has an unchallenged right to say whether a Mason may or may not belong to any given auxiliary body, for such relations can be made a part of membership conditions in a Blue Lodge. It is undoubtedly true that a Grand Lodge may err in forbidding its members to have such connection in some particular case, for Grand Lodges are human and not infallible, but its right to adopt such regulations lies beyond all cavil.
If a Grand Lodge has the right to entrust the good name of Freemasonry into the keeping of any body of men, however remote it may lie from the lodge, that Grand Lodge, by the same token, has right to withdraw such privileges. If the Sublime Order of Ancient Architects, let us say, an order of men and women imagined to exist for social purposes, and prerequiring that the men be Masons and the women blood relatives of Masons, is permitted to meet in Masonic buildings, and the general public looks upon it as belonging to the Masonic family, it is the Grand Lodge which permits these privileges and it is the Grand Lodge that can withdraw them. And if in the eyes of that Grand Lodge membership in the Sublime Order of Ancient Architects becomes un-Masonic, every regular Mason can be forbidden to join or to belong, and that without the undue exercise of authority on the part of Grand Lodge, which has in its keeping the name and reputation of Masonry.
Every auxiliary body exists by grace of Grand Lodge, and by that grace alone, though Grand Lodge may not have any right at all to a voice in the official councils of such a body; therefore that body, its members and officers, will be well advised to pay deferential heed to Grand Lodge. Since its very existence is by sufferance, every auxiliary body should consider it a point of honor not to hang back with a forced and grudging obedience, but should anticipate Grand Lodge's pleasure and show itself more than willing to conform. In the nature of the case such behavior alone is right and seemly, so that an auxiliary which protests and opposes is already suspect and deserving of discipline.
Most of the complaints made against auxiliary bodies fall under one or the other of two heads: that the auxiliary permits its members conduct unbecoming a Mason, or that it interferes with the regular and necessary work of the lodges. There is no room for argument about the first count. Any Blue Lodge can discipline a member for un-Masonic conduct, wherever it occurs, inside another organization or outside. Neither can there be any argument on the second count. A Worshipful Master who permits the regular functions of a lodge to be interfered with by some semi-Masonic organization is culpable, remiss in his duties and accountable to the law of the Craft.
Wherever an individual Mason finds himself a member in a body condemned by Grand Lodge, or even held suspect, he must not waver a minute as between his two loyalties. His first and always binding obligation is to his lodge; his duties in all organizations subordinate to the lodge are secondary.
The brethren who have in hand the management of auxiliary bodies will be well advised if they do not wait until a storm is on them before reefing their sails. The name and reputation of Masonry is too precious a thing, and carries within itself too much power for weal or woe in this Republic to be juggled about by men who first care is merely to have a good time at any cost, and whose last thought is for the good of the Craft. Such men are as dangerous to the welfare of the auxiliary body as they are inimical to the lodge, and the sooner they are bridled the better for them and all concerned.
* * *
Dante began the great journey of his The Divine Comedy at the mid-point of his life. It is good to recall the opening sentence of "his mystic unfathomable song":
"In the midway at this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray
Gone from the path direct; and e'en to tell,
It were no easy task, how savage wild
That forest, how robust and rough its growth,
Which to remember only, my dismay
Renews, in bitterness not far from death."
It was while thus pushing his way through this wilderness that he was confronted by the panther, which was sensualism, the lion, hunger-mad, which was ambition and pride, and the lean she-wolf of avarice.
It is the midway point in life that is the hardest. The rosy-fingered dawn has vanished, the starlit evening lies far ahead, one walks under the prosy gray sky of day. The generous forces and sanguine expectations of youth are cooled, and many of its finest ideals have gone, lost in the ruck in the workaday world, so that the objects along one's path seem harsh and hard, as if life itself were made of iron. It is then that a man sweats under his burdens and asks himself bitter questions. It is the period when family cares and family demands are at their maximum, when there is the greatest danger of business or professional failure. "Last year I lost my mother," wrote a friend a few weeks back, "and then in January my older son followed her. Now my wife is afflicted so that I have grave fears for her. As if all this were not enough I am nearly worried gray trying to pull my business out of the hole it fell into as a result of the war." It is midway at this our mortal life that one enters the Inferno: Paradiso lies far beyond, if at all.
It is because one's nature is then under its maximum strain that character sometimes suffers. In one of his letters Huxley refers to "senile morality," as if he found his own principles in danger from wear and tear. Under Seneca's tutelage Nero was not a bad youth; it was in after years that he fell a prey to the lion, the panther and the she-wolf. The young Alexander was the pride of the land; it was in the middle years that he murdered Parmenio and Clitus. "Both by what they gain and by what they lose, men in later life find themselves far more dangerously placed than in earlier years. They are, for one thing, freer from restraint. They are no longer subordinates, but lords of themselves. Their old guides and teachers have disappeared. In many instances, and notoriously today, beliefs which once exercised a restraining influence have lost their power. Idols have been shattered. Ideals which shone once as with light from heaven are gone. The 'vision splendid' has faded 'into the light of common day.' They have been behind the scenes to discover that effects which imposed on their youth as something angelic and celestial are an affair of stage carpentry and the big brush. Age is thus with multitudes the time of disillusionment, in itself the most perilous of mental states."
The midway is the Fellowcraft period of life, when the soul passes through the ordeal of its Second Degree. In an old tradition of Solomon's building of the Temple it says, "he set three-score and ten thousand of them to be bearers of burden, and four-score thousand to be hewers in the mountains, and three thousand and six hundred overseers to set the people at work." When one finds himself among eighty thousand Fellowcrafts, a bearer of burdens or a hewer in the mountains, it is little wonder if he despairs of his old hopes, his old ideals.
Nevertheless, it is then if ever that a man becomes a man, worthy in the eyes of God to be entrusted with responsibilities, for, as the beautiful lesson of our Fellowcraft Degree has it, there is a Middle Chamber to be entered after one has climbed the wearisome winding stairs. The wages are not what one expected in youth, but they are better, if one has been a faithful workman; courage, endurance, fidelity, patience, these are the rewards in which, after they are once gained, a man finds more happiness than in wreaths or garlands. It is when the dust is in one's nostrils, when the flinty rock cuts through one's shoes and the sun is hot on the sweating back, that life is most worthy living. It is then "that the high gods come to the making of man."
* * *
A STUDY IN CLANDESTINE MASONRY
An Accurate History of the Thomson Masonic Fraud
THE THOMSON MASONIC FRAUD, A STUDY IN CLANDESTINE MASONRY, by Isaac Blair Evans. Cloth, 268 pp. Privately printed in Salt Lake City, Utah. May be purchased from Sam H. Goodwin, Grand Secretary, Salt Lake City, Utah, or through National Masonic Research Society. Price, $2.50.
THIS book reflects great credit upon its author not only by furnishing a complete and authentic account of the famous Thomson Masonic fraud, but by being, what so many Masonic books are not, well printed and bound, carefully organized, and written with scholarly restraint and accuracy. When the Masonic student ten years hence makes up his five-foot shelf of Masonic writings he will find this volume standard, which is another way of saying that it is a contribution to the permanent literature of the Craft, and is not a merely ephemeral essay or flyer into the thin air of private theory. Its substance is solid and composed of such information as will be of value to active Masons for decades to come, whether they be students or have their time engaged in carrying on the work of the lodge, and especially if they have any part in Masonic jurisprudence.
Brother Evans worked from first-hand experience. "The reader is entitled to know," he wrote in his preface, "my own connection with Thomson's case. It chanced that I was United States Attorney for Utah in 1921, and I not only prepared the case (with the assistance of Mr. Price) for presentation to the grand jury, but also drew the indictment upon which Thomson, Perrot and Bergera were convicted." (Brother Monte G. Price, here referred to, was Post Office Inspector. It was he who took the first step toward bringing Thomson to trial. His services were inestimable.) Another page of the preface is an explanation of the method used in preparing the book. "To prepare this book I have carefully read the transcript of testimony in Thomson's case, and have studied all the exhibits introduced in evidence, as well as a mass of important correspondence, magazines, pamphlets and diplomas not produced at the trial, and much material is hereinafter presented of which the court and jury had no knowledge. Great pains have been taken to set down only those facts which are supported by competent proof, and it is believed that the number of errors has been reduced to a minimum. No attempt has been made to edit the many extracts taken from Thomson's letters, magazines and books, and from the transcript of testimony, but they are printed without emendation so that all readers may draw their own conclusions."
Equally specific is his statement as to his purpose. "The purpose of this monograph is made sufficiently clear by the title page and first chapter. It is hoped that besides telling the story of an unusual mail fraud, it will, by contrast, make more distinct for the general reader, some of the common aspects of regular Masonry."
An account of the Thomson fraud and case was written for THE BUILDER by Bro. C. C. Hunt, Deputy Grand Secretary of Iowa, in three installments beginning with October, 1922, page 299, which was so complete that there is no need here to summarize the story embodied in Brother Evans' book, except to say that Thomson and his fellow conspirators set themselves up as supreme "Masonic" authorities claiming for their American Masonic Federation, with headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, that it alone, in all the land, was the one real Masonic organization. On the strength of these claims so unblushingly made the Thomson gang sold broadcast all manner of "degrees," high and low, to such men as would buy, for any price that could be got. They had their largest success in the South, the West and the Northwest, but their market was limited only by the gullibility of the public and men were victimized on a national scale. Thomson claimed authority for himself in all the branches of Masonry, including the Shrine, Eastern Star and other auxiliaries, and was therefore able to supply any kind of "degrees" that might be called for, be the purchasers black or white. He once had the effrontery to pose as a spokesman for so-called Co-Masonry, and offered to THE BUILDER a preachment on that subject. The limitlessness of his audacity indicated that he had no fear of being called to time.
But he reckoned without his host. "In the meantime, quite unknown to Thomson, a Grand Jury had met at Salt Lake City and had returned an indictment against him, Bergera, Perrot and Jamieson for conspiring to violate the United States mail fraud statute. Shortly before Thanksgiving Day, 1921, Thomson and Perrot were arrested at Salt Lake City upon warrants held by the United States Marshal." (Page 149.) At the culmination of the trial, after every imaginable evidence had been taken on both sides, Judge Martin J. Wade gave sentence, after the jury found a verdict of guilty, as follows:
"Stand up, gentlemen.
"The judgment of this Court is that each one of you serve a period of two years in Fort Leavenworth prison and each one of you pay a fine of five thousand dollars and costs."
In the eyes of the Federal Government the one point at issue in this trial was Thomson's fraudulent use of the mails, but to the Masonic fraternity the case had a far broader significance. What constitutes a lodge regular? How are we to trace Masonic lineage? When and where did Speculative Masonry originate? How is clandestinism to be defined? Where do Grand Lodges and other Grand bodies get their authority? What is the relationship between Symbolical lodges and Scottish Rite lodges? What standing has so-called Negro Masonry? How can clandestinism be extinguished? In preparing his case, Bro. Evans, who expected the questions of legality to be raised, thoroughly canvassed all these problems so that he has been able to build into his book a mass of materials valuable to a reader whose interest in the Thomson trial itself may be slight. It is this that lifts the volume above histories of merely local or unimportant episodes.
H. L. Haywood
* * *
HAVELOCK ELLIS' PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE
THE DANCE OF LIFE, by Havelock Ellis. Published by Houghton Miflin Company, Boston, Mass. Price, $4.00.
THOSE whose familiarity with Havelock Ellis stops short with his great scientific treatise on sex do not know the man at his best; do not know him at all, in fact, because his Psychology of Sex is as impersonal as a machine; they should go on to read The Soul of Spain, The World of Dreams, The New Spirit (Ah! that rare book!), Affirmations, Impressions and Comments, Essays in War-Time, Philosophy of Conflict, Love and Virtue (I quote these titles from memory), The Task of Social Hygiene, and the volumes on woman. Above all they should read the newest of them all, The Dance of Life, in which the master distils a life-time of thought into four hundred pages of golden wisdom, quiet and serene. It is a book of utter detachment, breathed out of a great peace of mind, in which one of the most civilized men of our time speaks from a height above the times and free from controversy and all party spirit. "I have never written," he says, "but with the thought that the reader, even though he may not know it, is already on my side."
The idea which lies at the core of the book, and binds all its meditations into a unity, is that human life is necessarily an art. Human experience can successfully organize itself in a thousand ways. There is no fixed and rigid system to which the universe compels us to conform, but always a free play of forces amid a constantly changing set of circumstances which demands of us constant readjustment, renewed endeavors and an effort to gain results and ideals that are always growing and reshaping themselves. This devotion of the personality to purposes of its own through a free and creative use of its powers in connection with a world that is also alive, this is art, and life consequently is an art, for this is what life is.
"Dancing and building are the two primary and essential arts. The art of dancing stands at the source of all the arts that express themselves first in the human person. The art of building, or architecture, is the beginning of all the arts that lie outside the person.... The significance of dancing in the wide sense lies in the fact that it is simply an intimate concrete appeal of a general rhythm, that general rhythm which marks, not life only, but the universe, if one may be still allowed so to name the sum of the cosmic influences that reach us." All our efforts are of this nature, therefore the author develops his philosophy of life in the terms of the dance, and divides his book into chapters on The Art of Dancing, The Art of Thinking, The Art of Writing, The Art of Religion, and The Art of Morals.
The present writer does not know if Mr. Ellis is a Mason or not; if not, it is to be regretted. He would find in our mysteries an application of his own idea already to hand. We interpret life in the terms of ritual, which is the dance in one of the most formal and sublime forms, and in the terms of building, which is art devoted to the world outside us. Also he would find us dedicated to the same ideal of all-inclusive tolerance which bestows on his volume its rare charm and its beauty.
Here is what he has to say about the "Ancient Mysteries", with which so many of our Masonic writers have been a long time preoccupied:
"It is by looking back into the past that we see the facts in an essential simplicity less easy to reach in more sophisticated ages. We need not again go so far back as the medicine-men of Africa and Siberia. Mysticism in pagan antiquity, however less intimate to us and less seductive than that of later times, is perhaps better fitted to reveal to us its true nature. The Greeks believed in the spiritual value of 'conversion' as devoutly as our Christian sects, and they went beyond most such sects in their elaborately systematic methods for obtaining it, no doubt for the most part as superficially as has been common among Christians. It is supposed that almost the whole population of Athens must have experienced the Eleusinian initiation. These methods, as we know, were embodied in the Mysteries associated with Dionysus and Demeter and Orpheus and the rest, the most famous and typical being those of Attic Eleusis. We too often see those ancient Greek Mysteries through a concealing mist, partly because it was rightly felt that matters of spiritual experience were not things to talk about, so that precise information is lacking, partly because the early Christians, having their own very similar Mysteries to uphold, were careful to speak evil of Pagan Mysteries, and partly because the Pagan Mysteries no doubt really tended to degenerate with the general decay of classic culture. But in their large simple essential outlines they seem to be fairly clear. For just as there was nothing 'orgiastic' in our sense in the Greek 'orgies,' which were simply ritual acts, so there was nothing, in our sense, 'mysterious' in the Mysteries. We are not to suppose, as is sometimes supposed, that their essence was a secret doctrine, or even that the exhibition of a secret rite was the sole object, although it came in as part of the method. A mystery meant a spiritual process of initiation, which was, indeed, necessarily a secret to those who had not yet experienced it, but had nothing in itself 'mysterious' beyond what inheres today to the process in any Christian 'revival', which is the nearest analogue to the Greek Mystery. It is only 'mysterious' in the sense that it cannot be expressed, any more than the sexual embrace can be expressed, in words, but can only be known by experience. A preliminary process of purification, the influence of suggestion, a certain religious faith, a solemn and dramatic ritual carried out under the most impressive circumstances have a real analogy to the Catholic's mass, which also is a function at once dramatic and sacred, which culminates in a spiritual communion with the Divine all this may contribute to the end which was, as it always must be in religion, simply a change of inner attitude, a sudden exalting realization of a new relationship to eternal things. The philosophers understood this; Aristotle was careful to point out, in an extant fragment, that what was gained in the Mysteries was not instruction but impressions and emotions, and Plato had not hesitated to regard the illumination which came to the initiate in philosophy as of the nature of. that acquired in the Mysteries. So it was natural that when Christianity took the place of Paganism the same process went on with only a change in external circumstances. Baptism in the early church — before it sank to the mere magical sort of rite it later became — was of the nature of initiation into a Mystery, preceded by careful preparation, and the baptized initiate was sometimes crowned with a garland as the initiated were at Eleusis.
"When we go out of Athens along the beautiful road that leads to the wretched village of Eleusis and linger among the vast and complicated ruins of the chief shrine of mysticism in our western world, rich in associations that seem to stretch back to the Neolithic Age and suggest the time of the mystery of the upspringing of the corn, it may be that our thoughts by no unnatural transition pass from the myth of Demeter and Kore to the remembrance of what we may have heard or know of the manifestations of the spirit among barbarian northerners of other faiths or of no faith in far Britain and America, and even of their meetings of so-called 'revival.' For it is always the same thing that man is doing, however various and fantastic the disguises he adopts. And sometimes the revelation of the new life, springing up from within, comes amid the crowd in the feverish atmosphere of artificial shrines, maybe soon to shrivel up, and sometimes the blossoming forth takes place, perhaps more favorably, in the open air and under the light of the sun and amid the flowers, as it were to a happy faun among the hills. But when all disguises have been stripped away, it is always and everywhere the same simple process, a spiritual function which is almost a physiological function, an art which Nature makes. That is all."
We may next turn to his pages about our "Ancient Brother Pythagoras."
"That remark, with its reference to the laws and rhythm in the universe, calls to mind the great initiator, so far as our knowledge extends back, of scientific research in our European world. Pythagoras is a dim figure, and there is no need here to insist unduly on his significance. But there is not the slightest doubt about the nature of that significance in its bearing on the point before us. Dim and legendary as he now appears to us, Pythagoras was no doubt a real person, born in the sixth century before Christ, at Samos, and by his association with that great shipping center doubtless enabled to voyage afar and glean the wisdom of the ancient world. In antiquity he was regarded, Cicero remarks, as the inventor of philosophy, and still today he is estimated to be one of the most original figures, not only of Greece, but of the world. He is a figure full of interest from many points of view, however veiled in mist, but he only concerns us here because he represents the beginning of what we call 'science' — that is to say, measurable knowledge at its growing point — and because he definitely represents it as arising out of what we all conventionally recognize as 'art', and as, indeed, associated with the spirit of art, even its most fantastic forms, all the way. Pythagoras was a passionate lover of music, and it was thus that he came to make the enormously fruitful discovery that pitch of sound depends upon the length of the vibrating chord. Therein it became clear that law and spatial quantity ruled even in fields which had seemed most independent of quantitative order. The beginning of the great science of mechanics was firmly set up. The discovery was no accident. Even his rather hostile contemporary Heraclitus said of Pythagoras that he had 'practiced research and inquiry beyond all other men.' He was certainly a brilliant mathematician; he was, also, not only an astronomer, but the first, so far as we know, to recognize that the earth is a sphere — so setting up the ladder which was to reach at last to the Copernican conception — while his followers took the further step of affirming that the earth was not the center of our cosmic system, but concentrically related. So that Pythagoras may not only be called the Father of Philosophy, but, with better right the Father of Science in the modern exact sense. Yet he remained fundamentally an artist even in the conventional sense. His free play of imagination and emotion, his delight in the ravishing charm of beauty and harmony, however it may sometimes have led him astray — and introduced the reverence for number which so long entwined fancy too closely with science yet, as Gomperz puts it, gave soaring wings to the power of his severe reason."
* * *
THE TRAGIC END OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR
Charlotte M. Yonge
Few narratives of the dark end of the Order of the Templars can equal this in intensity, in vividness, in thrilling interest. It was penned by a brilliant woman of the last century and published long ago in a little volume called Cameos of English History.
THE CRUSADES were over. The dream of Edward I had been but a dream, and self-interest and ambition directed the swords of Christian princes against each other rather than against the common foe. The Western Church was lapsing into a state of decay and corruption, from which she was only partially to recover at the cost of disruption and disunion, and the power which the mighty popes of the twelfth century had gathered into a head became, for that very cause, the tool of an unscrupulous monarch.
The colony of Latins left in Palestine had proved a most unsuccessful experiment; the climate enervated their constitutions; the "poulains", as those were called who were born in the East, had all the bad qualities of degenerate races and were the scorn and derision of Arabs and Europeans alike; nor could the defence have been kept up at all had it not been for the constant recruits from cooler climates. Adventurous young men tried their swords in the East, banished men sought to recover their fame, the excommunicate strove to win pardon by his sword, or the forgiven to expiate his past crime; and, besides these irregular aids, the two military and monastic orders of Templars and Hospitallers were constantly fed by supplies of young nobles trained to arms and discipline in the numerous commanderies and preceptories scattered throughout the West.
Admirable as warriors, desperate in battle, offering no ransom but their scarf, these knightly monks were the bulwark of Christendom, and would have been doubly effective save for the bitter jealousies of the two orders against each other, and of both against all other Crusaders. Not a disaster happened in the Holy Land but the treachery of one order or the other was said to have occasioned it; and, on the whole, the later degree of obloquy seems usually, whether justly not, to have lighted on the Knights of the Temple. They were the richer and the prouder of the two orders, and as the duties of the hospital were not included in their vows, they neither had the same claims to gratitude nor the softening influence of the exercise of charity, and were simply stern, hated, dreaded soldiers.
LAST REMNANT IN EAST LOST
After a desperate siege, Acre fell, in 1292, and the last remnant of the Latin possessions in the East were lost. The Templars and Hospitallers fought with the utmost valour, forgot their feuds in the common danger and made such a defence that the Mussulmans fancied that when one Christian died, another came out of his mouth and renewed the conflict; but at last they were overpowered by force of numbers and were finally buried under the ruins of the Castle of the Templars. The remains of the two orders met in the Island of Cyprus, which belonged to Henry de Lusignan, claimant of the crown of Jerusalem. There they mustered their forces in the hope of a fresh Crusade; but as time dragged on, and their welcome wore out, they found themselves obliged to seek new quarters. The Knights of the Hospital, true to their vows, won sword in hand the Isle of Rhodes from the infidel, and prolonged their existence for five centuries longer as a great maritime power, the guardians of the Mediterranean and the terror of the African corsairs. The Knights Templar, in an evil hour for themselves, resolved to spend their time of expectation in their numerous rich commanderies in Europe, where they had no employment but to collect their revenues and keep their swords bright; and it cannot but be supposed that they would thus be tempted into vicious and overbearing habits, while the sight of so formidable a band of warriors, owning no obedience but to their Grand Master and the Pope, must have been alarming to the sovereign of the country. Still there are no tokens of their having disturbed the peace during the twenty-two years that their exile lasted, and it was the violence of a king and the truckling of a pope that effected their ruin.
Phillippe IV, the pest of France, had used his power over the French clergy to misuse and persecute the fierce old pontiff, Boniface VIII, and it was no fault of Phillippe that the murder of Becket was not parodied at Anagni. Fortunately for the malevolent designs of the king, his messengers quailed and contented themselves with terrifying the old man into a frenzied suicide instead of themselves slaying him. The next pope lived so few days after his election that it was believed that poison had removed him, and the cardinals remained shut up for nine months at Perugia trying in vain to come to a fresh choice. Finally, Phillippe fixed their choice on a wretched Gascon, who took the name of Clement V, first, however, making him swear to fulfil six conditions, the last and most dreadful of which was to remain a secret until the time when the fulfilment should be required of him.
Lest his unfortunate tool should escape from his grasp, or gain the protection of any other sovereign, Phillippe transplanted the whole papal court to Avignon, which, though it used to belong to the Roman empire, had in the break-up after the fall of the Swabian house become in effect part of the French dominions.
There the miserable Clement learned the sixth condition, and not daring to oppose it gave the whole Order of the Templars up into his cruel hands, promising to authorize his measures and pronounce their abolition. Phillippe's first measure was to get them all into his hands, and for this purpose he proclaimed a Crusade and actually himself took the Cross, with his son-in-law Edward II, at the wedding of Isabel.
Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master, hastened from Cyprus and convoked all his chief knights to take counsel with the French king on this laudable undertaking. He was treated with great distinction and even stood godfather to a son of the king. The greater number of the Templars were at their own Tower of the Temple at Paris, with others dispersed in numbers through the rest of France, living at ease and securely, respected and feared, if not beloved, and busily preparing for an onslaught upon the common foe.
Meanwhile, two of their number, vile men thrown into prison for former crimes — one French, the other Italian — had been suborned by Phillippe's emissaries to make deadly accusations against their brethren, such as might horrify the imagination of an age unused to consider evidence. These tales, whispered into the ear of Edward II by his wily father-in-law, together with promise of wealth and lands to be wrested from them, gained from him a promise that he would not withstand the measures of the French king and pope and, though he was too much shocked by the result not to remonstrate, his feebleness and inconsistency unfitted him either to be a foe or a champion.
THE FURIES ARE LET LOOSE
On the 14th of September, 1307, Phillippe sent out secret orders to his seneschals. On the 13th of October, at dawn of day, each house of the Templars was surrounded with armed men and ere the knights could rise from their beds they were singly mastered and thrown into prison.
Two days after, on Sunday after mass, the arrest was made known and the crimes of which the unfortunate men were accused. They were to be tried before the Grand Inquisitor, Guillaume Humbert, a Dominican friar; but in the meantime, to obtain witness against them, they were starved, threatened and tortured in their dungeons, to gain from them some confession that could be turned against them. Out of six hundred knights, besides a much greater number of mere attendants, there could not fail to be some few whose minds could not withstand the misery of their condition, and between these and the two original calumnies a mass of horrible stories was worked up in evidence.
It was said that, while outwardly wearing the white cross on their robe, bearing the vows of chivalry, exercising the holy offices of priests and bound by the monastic rules, there was in reality an inner society, bound to be the enemies of all that was holy, into which they were admitted upon their reviling and denying their faith and committing outrages on the cross and the images of the saints. It was further said that they worshipped the devil in the shape of a black cat and wore his image on a cord round their waists; that they anointed a great silver head with the fat of murdered children; that they practised every kind of sorcery, performed mass improperly, never went to confession and had betrayed Palestine to the infidels.
For the last count of the indictment the blood that had watered Canaan for two hundred years was answer enough. As to the confessional, the accusation emanated from the Dominicans, who were jealous of the Templars confessing to priests of their own order. With respect to the mass it appears that the habits of the Templars were similar to those of the Cistercain monks, who, till the Lateran Council, had not elevated the Host to receive adoration from the people.
The accusation of magic naturally adhered to able men conversant with the East. The head was found in the Temple at Paris. It was made of silver, resembled a beautiful woman and was, in fact, a reliquary containing the bones of one of the 11,000 virgins of Cologne. But truth was not wanted, and under the influence of solitary imprisonment, hunger, damp and loathsome dungeons, and two years of terror and misery, enough of confessions had been extorted for Phillippe's purpose by the year 1309.
Many had died under their sufferings and some had at first confessed in their agonies and, when no longer tortured, had retracted all their declarations with horror. These became dangerous and were therefore declared to be relapsed heretics, and fifty-six were burnt by slow degrees in a great enclosure surrounded by stakes, all crying out and praying devoutly and like good Christians till the last.
Having thus horribly intimidated recusant witnesses, the king caused the pope to convoke a synod at Paris, before which the Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, was cited. He was a brave old soldier, but no scholar, and darkness, hunger, torture and distress had so affected him that when brought into the light of day he stood before the prelates and barons, among whom he had once been foremost, so utterly bewildered and confused that the judges were forced to remand him for two days to recover his faculties.
When brought before them again he was formally asked whether he would defend his order or plead for himself. He made answer that he should be contemptible in his own eyes and those of all the world did he not defend an order which had done so much for him, but that he was in such poverty that he had not four-pence left in the world, and that he must beg for an advocate, to whom he would mention the great kings, princes, barons, bishops and knights whose witness would at once clear his knights from the monstrous charges brought against them.
Thereupon he was told that advocates were allowed to men accused of heresy, and that he had better take care how he contradicted his own deposition he would be condemned as relapsed. His own deposition, as three cardinals avouched that he had made it before them, was then translated to him from the Latin, which he did not understand.
In horror-struck amazement at hearing such word ascribed to himself, the old knight twice made the sign of the cross and exclaimed, "If the cardinals were other sort of men he should know how to deal with them!"
He was told that the cardinals were not there to receive a challenge to battle. "No," he said, "that was not what he meant; he only wished that might befall them which was done by the Saracens and Tartars to infamous liars — whose heads they cut off."
THE ORDER IS ABOLISHED
He was sent back to prison and brought back again, less vehement against his accusers, but still declaring himself a faithful Christian and begging to be admitted to the rites of religion; but he was left to languish in his dungeon for two years longer, while two hundred and thirty-one witnesses were examined before the commissaries. In May, 1311, five hundred and forty-four persons belonging to the order were led before the judges from the different prisons, while eight of the most distinguished knights, and their agent at Rome, undertook their defence. Their strongest plea was, that not a Templar had criminated himself, except in France, where alone torture had been employed; but they could obtain no hearing and a report was drawn up by the commissaries to the so-called Council of Vienne. This was held by Clement V in the early part of 1312, and on the 6th of March it passed a decree abolishing the Order of the Temple and transmitting its possessions to the Knights of St. John.
There were other councils held to try the Templars in the other lands where they had also been seized. In England the confessions of the knights tortured in France were employed as evidence, together with the witness of begging friars, minstrels, women and discreditable persons; and on the decision of the Council of Vienne the poor knights confessed, as well they might, that their order had fallen under evil report, and were therefore pardoned and released, with the forfeiture of all their property to the hospital. Their principal house in England was the Temple in Fleet Street where they had built a curious round church in the twelfth century, when it was consecrated by the Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem. The shape was supposed to be like the Holy Sepulchre, to whose service they were devoted; but want of space obliged them to add a square building of three aisles beyond. This, with the rest of their property, devolved on the Order of St. John, who, in the next reign, let the Temple buildings for 10 pounds per annum to the law students of London, and in their possession it has ever since continued. The ancient seal of the knights, representing two men mounted upon one horse, was assumed by the benchers of one side of the Temple, though in the classical taste of later times the riders were turned into wings and the steed into Pegasus, while their brethren bear the lamb and banner, like-wise a remembrance of the Crusaders who founded the found church, eight of whom still lie in effigy upon the floor.
In Spain the bishops would hardly proceed at all against the Templars, and secured pensions for them out of the confiscated property. In Portugal they were converted into a new order for the defence of the realm. In Germany they were allowed to die out unmolested, at in Italy Phillippe's influence was more felt, and they were taken in the same net with those in France. There the king's coffers were replenished with their spoil, very little of which ever found its way to the Knights of St. John. The knights who half confessed and then recanted were put to death; those who never confessed at all were left in prison; those who admitted the guilt of the order were rewarded by a miserable existence at large. The great dignitaries — Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master, and Guy, the son of the Dauphin of Auvergne, the Commander of Normandy, and two others — languished in captivity till the early part of 1314, when they were led out before Notre Dame to hear their sentence read, condemning them to perpetual imprisonment, rehearsing their own confession once more against them.
The Grand Master and Guy of Auvergne, both old men, wasted with imprisonment and torture, no sooner saw the face of day, the grand old cathedral and the assembly of the people, than they loudly protested that these false and shameful confessions were none of theirs; that their dead brethren were noble knights and true Christians, and that these foul slanders had never been uttered by them but invented by wicked men, who asked them questions in a language they did not understand, while they, noble barons, belted knights, sworn Crusaders, were stretched on the rack.
The bishops present were shocked at the exposure of their treatment and placed them in the hands of the Provost of Paris, saying that they would consider their case the next morning. But Phillippe, dreading a reaction in their favour, declared them relapsed and condemned them to the flames that very night, the 18th of March. A picture is extant in Germany, said to have been of the time, showing the meek face of the white-haired, white-bearded Molay, his features drawn with wasting misery, his eyes one mute appeal, his hands bound over the large cross on his breast. He died proclaiming aloud the innocence of his order and listened to with pity and indignation by the people. His last cry, ere the flames stifled his voice, was an awful summons to Pope Clement to meet him before the tribunal of Heaven within forty days; to King Phillippe to appear there in a year and a day.
WHAT CAME AFTERWARDS
Clement V actually died on the 20th of April, and while his nephews and servants were plundering his treasures his corpse was consumed by fire caught from the wax-lights around his bier. His tyrant, Phillippe le Bel was but forty-six years of age, still young-looking and handsome; but the decree had gone forth against him and he fell into a bad state of health. He was thrown from his horse while pursuing a wild boar, and the accident brought on a low fever, which on the 29th of November, 1314, brought him likewise to the grave. He left three sons, all perishing after unhappy marriages, in the flower of their age, and one daughter, the disgrace and misery of France and England alike.
So perished the Templars; so their persecutors! It is one of the darkest tragedies of that age of tragedies, and in many a subsequent page shall we trace the visitation for their blood upon guilty France and on the line of Valois. They were not perfect men. They have left an evil name, for they were hard, proud, often licentious men, and the "Red Monk" figures in many a tradition of horror; but there can be no doubt that the brotherhood had its due proportion of gallant, devoted warriors, who fought well for the cross they bore. Their fate has been well sung by Lord Houghton:
The warriors of the sacred grave,
Who looked to Christ for laws,
And perished for the faith they gave
Their comrades and the cause;
They perished, in one fate alike,
The veteran and the boy,
Where'er the regal arm could strike,
To torture and destroy;
While darkly down the stream of time
Devised by evil fame
Float murmurs of mysterious crime,
And tales of secret shame.
How oft, when avarice, hate, or pride,
Assault some noble band,
The outer world, that scorn the side
It does not understand,
Yet by these lessons men awake
To know they cannot bind
Discordant wills in one, and make
An aggregate of mind.
For ever in our best essays
At close fraternal ties
An evil narrowness waylays
Our present sympathies;
Echoes each foul derisive word,
Gilds o'er each hideous sight,
And consecrates the wicked sword
With names of holy right.
And love, however bright it burns
For what it holds most fond,
Is tainted by its unconcern
For all that lies beyond.
And still the earth has many a knight
By high vocation bound
To conquer in enduring fight
The Spirit's holy ground.
And manhood's pride and hopes of youth
Still meet the Templars doom,
Crusaders of the ascended truth,
Not of the empty tomb.
* * *
THE QUESTION BOX
THE RITUAL OF A POLITICAL PARTY
Can you kindly instruct me where to locate the ritual used by the National Council of the United States of North America? I have searched through several American histories but can find nothing.
The National Council was better known as the Know-Nothing party, though it also was called the American party. As a result of the Kansas-Nebraska controversy in 1854, the Whig party, in the North, split, and such as were not sufficiently opposed to slavery to enter the newly formed Republican party threw in their lot with the Know-Nothings, the National Council of which, in session at Philadelphia Feb. 21, 1856, formulated a platform consisting of twelve declarations the general tenor of which was opposition to aliens and to Roman Catholicism, a constitution, by-laws and a ritual. The objects were formally set forth in Article 2nd of the Constitution, which reads: "The object of this organization shall be to protect every American citizen in the legal and proper exercise of all his civil and religious rights and privileges; to resist the insidious policy of the Church of Rome, and all other foreign influence against our republican institutions in all lawful ways; to place in all offices of honor, trust or profit, in the gift of the people, or by appointment, none but native-born Protestant citizens, and to protect, preserve and uphold the union of these states and the constitution of the same."
The ritual consisted of three degrees, with obligations and charges. A careful reading leaves one in little doubt as to what already existing ritual served these men as their pattern. This ritual is given in full in American Polities, by Cooper and Fenton, Chicago, 1882, long out of print but still obtainable in old libraries and second-hand book stores.
* * *
DID MASONRY FOUND THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM? DID IT SAVE THE REVOLUTION?
At a round-table discussion among the Masters and Wardens of the lodges of our city recently, a statement was made by an emphatic brother that Masonry founded the public school system of America, and I was challenged for refuting it. I know that Masons have fostered the public schools, as all good citizens should, but I never found mention in history that they were founded by the Craft. Also it was likewise contended that had it not been for the Masonic fraternity the colonists would have lost the Revolution. Granting the valuable and noble assistance rendered by Freemasons are not both contentions too broad?
Schools of one kind or another, often under church control and parochial in nature, were brought with the first colonists from England or Europe, so that it is impossible to say when a school system began here or by whom it was established. Virginia, started in 1607, left it very much to individuals to secure education in what way they could (the laissez faire principle), but the New Netherlands, as the country was called which lay between the Delaware and Connecticut Rivers, and which was under Dutch control in the years 1621-1674, had a carefully organized polity and saw to it that a school was organized with each and every church. The first real attempt to institute a public system, properly so called, was made in Virginia in the 1770's under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson, of whose Masonic membership no proof has ever been forthcoming. Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia and other colonies followed suit, but it was in New York, and more especially in New York City, that the evolution of the school system became most rapid. In 1805 the "Free School Society" was founded in New York City under the presidency of DeWitt Clinton, afterward governor, a Grand Master and Grand High Priest. This was changed to the "Public School Society" in 1826, and this organization, in spite of vigorous opposition from Roman Catholics, flourished and paved the way at last for a system supported and controlled by public officials. The most prominent founders of our present system were James G. Carter, Horace Mann and Henry Barnard, the last named of whom was appointed the first United States Commissioner of Education in 1867. In almost every part of the country Masons were active in working for the cause of public education (as far back as Benjamin Franklin), but it cannot be said that Masonry founded the system. Consult The History of Education, three volumes, by Frank P. Graves.
It would be an easier matter to prove that the fraternity played a decisive part in the Revolution, because many lodges, and lodge members (more particularly among those working under "Antient" charters) were among the most prominent patriots and patriot forces of the time. A number of brethren are now at work sifting the old records and piecing the story together. When their labors are completed your second question can be given a categorical reply, but not before. Until then we must be content to say that many lodges and many Masons played a great, and in some cases a decisive, part in the memorable struggle. On both your questions consult History of Freemasonry in the State of New York, by Bro. Ossian Lang, New York, 1922.
* * *
WHEN THE MOTHER SUPREME COUNCIL WAS ORGANIZED
Please inform me when the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite was organized and by whom.
The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite is an assemblage of degrees fashioned during the eighteenth century as an addition to the three degrees comprising Ancient Craft Masonry, now generally called the Blue Lodge. The Mother Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, as we know it, was organized at Charleston, S.C., May 31, 1801, by John Mitchell and Frederic Dalcho.
The Grand Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret in Paris had given to Stephen Morin a patent to carry the Rite of Perfection, as the assemblage of degrees was then called, to America, which he did, and afterwards granted authority to others to carry on the work. The line of descent is as follows: Morin, Henry Francken, Moses M. Hayes, Barend M. Spitzler and John Mitchell, the last named receiving his patent April 2, 1795. Mitchell granted a commission to Dr. Frederic Dolcho May 24, 1801, and these two took the lead in forming the first, or Mother, Supreme Council. Your own state lies in the territory governed by the Northern Supreme Council, organized in 1813; your first Lodge of Perfection was organized in Indianapolis May 19, 1865, and your first Consistory at same place and time. You may be referred to Albert Pike's Historical Inquiry in Regard to the Grand Constitution of 1786, published by the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction, at Washington, D.C., in 1872 and again in 1883.
* * *
ON THE MAKING OF SPEECHES IN LODGE
While you are at it I wish you would give me a steer about speech-making. On the night I got my Third I made a short speech at the request of our excellent W.M. Since then the brethren have pestered me to do some more talking. But I am green, as a Mason, and double green as an orator. Please give me a hint or two about this business.
If you express your thoughts as forcibly as you make known your wants, you should have no trouble in an art that is well within reach of any man of average ability. The main thing is to have a purpose, for in a speech it is the object that counts more than the subject; aimlessness, and a mere display of one's efforts at eloquence, is a prime offense, especially among busy men who are not much interested in watching a speaker pile up useless adjectives; but if a man goes after a verdict, shows that he means business, and doesn't rest until he gets some good accomplished, he can safely let oratory take care of itself. Have something definite to say and say it as sincerely as you can, that is the recipe. All the tricks and embellishments can be learned afterwards. A speech is properly a piece of human engineering the purpose of which is to effect certain changes or make needed adjustments. Being a form of work it is never an idle display, and he is the best speaker who gets the most done. For that reason a lodge speaker should, by preference, deal with problems in his own lodge. If his brethren lack in charity he should make them ashamed; if they are unsociable he can warm their spirits; if they act un-Masonically he should rebuke them; ever and always his aim is to make Masonry prevail. Whatever material is found to be effectual for such a purpose is good for a speech-maker, be it drawn from the ritual, Masonic history, philosophy, jurisprudence, present day Masonic activities, what not. Don't be afraid to speak right out. "One burning heart sets another on fire." If you are allotted fifteen minutes use only twelve. Speak distinctly, deliberately, head up and mouth open, and talk to your brethren as if there were but one man present. Above all things don't drag in a lot of so-called "funny stories" by the nap of the neck; if you feel obliged to use humor let it come instinctively and as a happy surprise. The right kind of speech-making is a thing a wise Worshipful Master will develop in his lodge; it means life and power for the brotherhood. In the old days the Master gathered his workmen about him and all conferred together, so should it be among us who work in a great Craft confronted by tasks "greater than the Twelve Labors of Hercules."
* * *
WHEN THE GROTTO WAS LAUNCHED
Can I get a history of the Grotto? When and by whom was it organized?
You will find an excellent account of the Grotto in Mackey's Revised History of Freemasonry, edited by Robert I. Clegg, chapter 108, beginning on page 1984. The organization began in Hamilton Lodge, No. 120, Hamilton, N. Y., in a local committee formed for fun and frolic, named Fairchild Deviltry Committee, after its moving spirit, Brother LeRoy Fairchild. The presiding officer was called the "King Devil." The first formal organization was made on the evening of Sept. 10, 1889. So successful was this fun society that a ritual was worked out by two very brilliant men, Prophets R. R. Riddell and George Beal, and this was continued, with some revisions and additions, when the Supreme Council of the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm was founded, June 13, 1890, with Bro. Thomas L. James, New York City, as Grand Monarch. The charter for the first Grotto was granted to the brethren at Hamilton, who first chose the name Druid Grotto, No. 1, but afterwards changed it to Mohanna Grotto. From that time until now this Order has grown rapidly and is now often called by the sobriquet, "the Blue Lodge Shrine."
* * *
INDEPENDENT ORDER OF ODD FELLOWS
When was the Independent Order of Odd Fellows organized, and where? Was it started by Masons?
There is a good deal of uncertainty as to the pedigree of this noble organization, for it began in very humble fashion and long ago, so that nobody among its pioneers anticipated its great growth or long and honorable career. Early records were lost and traditions became confused, but it is usually supposed that the first lodge of Odd Fellows was Loyal Aristarcus, No. 9, meeting in London, organized in 1745, which was twenty-eight years after the organizing of the First Grand Lodge of Freemasons. There is an old story to the effect that Odd Fellowship was launched by a number of disgruntled London Masons in 1730 or 1740, largely for convivial purposes, but of this we cannot be certain, though we can be reasonably sure that the same ground swell of interest in secret fraternities which brought about the revival of Masonry and caused its so rapid spread over Great Britain and Europe, was also responsible for the birth of Odd Fellowship. The founder of Odd Fellowship in America, where it has reached its largest proportions, was Thomas Wildey, who came to Baltimore in 1817, bringing with him a zeal for the Order developed in his native city of London, where he founded a lodge and presided over it for three years. He, together with John Welsh, a brother member, issued a call for a meeting. They, with those who responded, organized a new lodge at Baltimore, April 26, 1819, with Wildey in the chair. It was thus that he began his labors, for which he never lost his enthusiasm until at last he saw founded the "Grand Lodge of Maryland and the United States, Independent Order of Odd Fellows," with himself as the first Grand Master. You will find a brief account of Odd Fellowship in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, Vol. XIX, p. 996; and also a very readable survey in the Cyclopaedia of Fraternities, by Albert C. Stevens. For a detailed account see "The Complete Manual of Odd Fellowship, its History, Principles, Ceremonies and Symbolism," privately printed, 1879. If you go into the subject at length why not contribute an article? It would be welcome.
* * *
I have a friend who has voluntarily, and while in good standing, withdrawn from the Order. He says he now no longer feels under any obligation to keep our secrets. I tell him he is as much under obligation as ever. Am I right?
A.W.S., South Carolina.
You are most surely right. Certain obligations voluntarily accepted by your friend had nothing whatsoever to do with his continuing in formal membership, but rested on his honor as a man as long as he may live. It is just as immoral for him to violate his solemn word now as it was before. In this sense the old saying, "Once a Mason, always a Mason," is literally true, a fact long ago recognized and imbedded in the phrase "Masonic Indelibility." During the anti-Masonic craze of the past century a few men gained notoriety by becoming "Renouncing Masons"; the general contempt with which these traitors came to be regarded by the public shows that the profane as well as initiate accept the doctrine of Masonic Indelibility as sound and right.
* * *
TWO CORRECTIONS CONCERNING TEXAS ITEMS
In your issue of May, 1923, you have two articles in which Texas is spoken of, and in each there is a slight mistake, possibly of not much importance. In the article by P. G. Tyler, the date of the first meeting of Holland Lodge, in Houston, is given as "October, 1837." This error is a natural one, on part of anyone getting their information from "Ruthven's Reprint of the proceedings of Grand Lodge of Texas, 1837-1858."
When Brother Ruthven — then Grand Secretary — printed his books in 1860, he gave as a preface a sketch of the organization of Holland, No. 36, and in it the record reads October. As the sketch was written by Brother Anson Jones, some twenty or more years after the meeting, and was largely from memory, he may have written October. However, the correct date was Nov. 8, 1837. This I give from the minutes themselves, which are in our possession. The three bodies in Houston, lodge, chapter and commandery, are fortunate in that each has its original minutes complete from the first meeting. Although they have lost by fire their first charters, paraphernalia, etc., the minutes were saved by reason of the secretaries having them at their homes at dates of the fires.
The second item is on page 156 under heading "Twenty-six Jurisdictions Use the District Deputy System." The question asked was regarding the use "of the District Deputy Lecturer system." Texas is included in the list. This is somewhat in error. We have District Deputy Grand Masters, but they are not by reason of said appointment, "Lecturers." Brother Tyler on page 153 practically tells how the work is disseminated. We have a Committee on Work of five members, one elected each year for five years. No member can immediately succeed himself.
This committee at their annual meeting — which is immediately after the Grand Lodge closes, issues certificates for proficiency to such as have successfully stood examination. These certificates are for one, two, or three years. The holder is authorized to teach in a specified district, but the lodges can invite any certificate member in the district to lecture. Every district has a number of certificate holders. In some lodges it is the unwritten law that its officers must hold certificates, so that in our cities we have twenty-five or more. Houston at present has forty-two. Last December the committee at Waco issued 833 certificates of which 251 were for the first time.
Many certificates are held and renewed from time to time by brethren simply as a matter of personal gratification, although many of these are "stand-by workers" in all degrees and orders. Our chapter and council has the same system for teaching the work. Their committees meet immediately preceding the Grand Bodies.
J. C. Kidd, Texas.
* * *
"WHEN PA JOINED THE LODGE"
The request of H.F.M., in the August BUILDER, for the poem, "When Pa Joined the Lodge," has been responded to by a number of brethren, whose exhibits, though they are very much in the spirit of the subject, do not bear that title. Brother George Hopper Smith, Cleveland, Ohio, sent in the following, which is copyrighted:
WHEN FATHER RODE THE GOAT
The house is full of arnica,
The mystery profound
We do not dare to run about
Or make the slightest sound;
We leave the big piano shut
And do not strike a note
The doctor's been here seven times
Since father rode the goat.
He joined the lodge a week ago —
Got in at four a. m.
And sixteen brethren brought him home
Though he says he brought them.
His wrist was sprained and one big rip
Had rent his Sunday coat —
There must have been a lively time
When father rode the goat.
He's resting on the couch today
And practicing his signs —
The hailing sign, working grip,
And other monkey-shines;
He mutters pass-words 'neath his breath
And other things he'll quote
They surely had an evening's work
When father rode the goat.
He has a gorgeous uniform,
All gold and red and blue
A hat with plumes and yellow braid,
And golden badges, too.
A sword of finest tempered steel;
Hilt set with precious stones.
He says this par'phernalia
All come from Pettibones.
This goat he leads what "Teddy" calls
A very strenuous life,
Makes trouble for such candidates
As tackle him in strife.
But somehow, when we mention it
Pa wears a look so grim
We wonder if he rode the goat
Or if the goat rode him.
Brother William B. Sayer, New York City, has given us the use of a fetching poem written by his wife, Caroline B. Sayer, published in the Grand Lodge Year Book of New York State in 1922:
WHEN WILLIE'S DAD JOINED THE MASONS
When dad was dressin' to join the Masons,
It was one night last week,
I know all the things he done,
'Cause I stood by the keyhole to peek.
He washed an' shaved hisself up slick,
An' put on a new pair of socks
He felt his muscle an' kept mutterin' some words
I wonder if they give 'em hard knocks.
I sneak down stairs to the pantry,
An' put two lumps of sugar in my coat,
An' I slid 'em in dad's pocket
So he'd have 'em to feed the goat.
I hope that goat don't hurt my dad
I hope they don't make him walk on live coals,
'Cause ma'll be mad as the dickens,
If he burns them silk socks full of holes.
Next mornin' I asked dad if they treated him rough
And he just shook me by the han'
An' said, "My son, you must be a Mason
When you become a man."
It is probable that neither of these is the poem asked for. Can you help us out?
* * *
YE EDITOR'S CORNER
A man is never dead until he is buried.
* * *
Brother McNairn's article on Goethe published last month has been very highly spoken of.
Here is a puzzle picture. See if you can discover the man's religion. It happened in the Hotel Clark, in Los Angeles, (you know the place). A stammerous excitable guest rushed to the desk: "Here please send this suit out in a hurry and have it creamed and blessed!"
* * *
A friend wrote of THE BUILDER that "it is neither radical nor conservative but sane and it is intelligent without being highbrow." We may possibly not deserve these fine words but they nevertheless express our ideals.
* * *
How do you examine visitors? Customs differ so much in various parts of the country that it would be worth while to publish a report of typical methods. Won't you speak up for your lodge?
* * *
A brother has submitted this question: "What is the greatest danger now facing Freemasonry?" What would be your reply?
* * *
The bricklayer glanced wearily at his platinum wrist watch. "An hour has gone by," he muttered to himself, "it's time to lay another brick." Oh, hum! Thus says The Country Gentleman.
* * *
"And I would urge upon every young man, as the beginning of his due and wise provision for his household, to obtain as soon as he can, by the severest economy, a restricted, serviceable and steadily — however slowly — increasing series of book s for use through life; making his little library, all of the furniture in his room, the most studied and decorative piece; every volume having its assigned place, like a little statue in its niche, and one of the earliest lessons the children of the house being how to turn the pages of their own literary possessions lightly and deliberately, with no chance of tearing or dog's ears."
— John Ruskin.