A Journal for the Masonic Student
Published Monthly by the National Masonic Research Society
Vol. 10 No. 1 – January 1924
SPURIOUS, IMITATIVE, OR ASSOCIATED FREEMASONRY
Bro. Sir Alfred Robbins, England
THE BUILDER is privileged, through the intermediary kindness of Bro. Dudley Wright, to publish here the Installation Address delivered Nov. 8 last by Sir Alfred Robbins, when installed as Master of the famous Lodge of Research, Quatuor Coronati, No. 2076, London, England. This frank utterance from a Masonic statesman of the first rank will have all the wider hearing in this land in view of his approaching visit to our shores. He is a Past Grand Warden of the United Grand Lodge of England, President of the Board of General Purposes of that body, and a journalist of note. For all his many activities he has found time to take a keen and absorbing interest in Masonic research, more especially of latter day Masonry, as his present paper will testify. A magnificent address of his on "English and American Brotherhood; a league of Masons" was printed in THE BUILDER, July, 1918, page 191.
I CANNOT begin my inaugural address as Master of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge without acknowledging in all cordiality and with all sincerity the pleasure and pride that have been given me by acceptance of the position.
To be chosen as chief officer for the year of a lodge which has contained some of the most eminent students of the immediate past, and has produced fruits of research of the highest importance to Freemasonry, is an honour to which an ordinary Mason hardly dares to aspire, and an honour for which, when conferred on him, he cannot be anything but deeply grateful.
It has been the custom in this lodge for each succeeding Master on the night of his installation to address the brethren upon some subject of Masonic interest which, as a rule, has been one of research. Tonight I will follow that example, but with the idea of searching, not so much into the past as into the present of Freemasonry. Every historian in the Craft, I think, will agree with me in thinking that if our departed brethren had concerned themselves with various phases of its evolution, as that evolution proceeded and developed, we should have been spared today much speculation and error. I, therefore, propose to take as my theme on this occasion the problems presented to the Craft today by spurious, imitative or associated Freemasonry. In this regard, I do not think it necessary to deal specifically or at any length with those bodies that all of us would recognize as covered by the eighth in order of the summarised Antient Charges and Regulations which are promised to be supported by every Master-elect on his coming into the Chair. This clause gives a pledge to respect genuine and true brethren and to discountenance all impostors and all dissenters from the original plan of Freemasonry. All of us have a fairly clear idea of the bodies embraced in that category, but the organizations which are now to be subjected to review are those on the border-line. It was told me in my youth by an elementary science teacher that there was no difficulty, broadly speaking, in saying what was an animal and what was a vegetable; but the question became more difficult when one was asked exactly to place a sponge. It is with, what I may term the sponges of Freemasonry, that I wish now to deal — absorbent bodies, difficult to define, possibly having their uses in certain directions, but apt to become dangerous if allowed to spread with too great ease and rapidity.
IT IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM
This problem is not merely speculative. It may seriously affect the immediate future of the Craft in this country, as it already is doing our brethren in other countries in friendly relationship with ourselves. In our own jurisdiction, specifically according to the first clause in our Book of Constitutions, it is "declared and pronounced that pure Antient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more, namely, those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellowcraft and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch." This extremely limited provision would seem to exclude from strict contemplation, not only Mark Masonry, but all those associated with our body which work what are variously termed, "the allied", "the higher" or the additional degrees. In point of practice we know that the exclusion is not of so rigid a kind. The Mark Degree, for example, along with its subordinate part, the Royal Ark Mariners, are informally acknowledged as kindred organizations by even strict Craftsmen. Many of our most excellent and eminent brethren are Knights Templar, or members of the Rose Croix, the Royal Order of Scotland, the Red Cross of Constantine, the Rosicrucian Society, the Order of the Secret Monitor and the Order of the Scarlet Cord. Some of our most eminent brethren belong to the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters and the Grand Council of the Allied Degrees; while there is the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, with its nominal thirty-three degrees, the Supreme Council of which avoids conflict with our Grand Lodge by not working the first three.
As long as brethren who own allegiance to those respective bodies have done nothing specifically to forfeit their allegiance to the United Grand Lodge of England, no objection is taken, but, by the Book of Constitutions, it is strictly enjoined that "No honorary or other jewel, medal device or emblem shall be worn in Grand Lodge or any subordinate lodge which shall not appertain to or be consistent with those degrees which are recognized and acknowledged by the Grand Lodge as part of pure and antient Masonry." In practice, this regulation prevents the wearing of any insignia in lodges which are not those of the Craft and Royal Arch, and strict action has been taken in the past on more than one occasion against brethren who have infringed this condition. In one instance this regulation was carried to such a length that it is to be found recorded in the Grand Lodge Proceedings for the Quarterly Communication of December, 1853, that the Grand Master (the then Earl of Zetland) stated that he had been under the painful necessity of removing from his position Bro. William Tucker, the Provincial Grand Master for Dorset "in consequence of his having thought proper to appear in his Provincial Grand Lodge in the costume and with jewels appertaining to what were termed 'higher degrees' and not sanctioned or acknowledged by Grand Lodge, and which militated against the universality of Freemasonry." He added that he felt much respect for Bro. Tucker personally, but the act was so completely at variance with the laws of Grand Lodge that it left him no alternative. The regulation was further emphasized by the Board of General Purposes at its meeting on 19th January, 1869, when a letter from a brother was read saying that he had seen Knights Templar's jewels worn in a lodge, and asking what course to pursue. The Grand Secretary — at that time Bro. John Hervey — was instructed to reply that such proceeding was at variance with the regulation of the Book of Constitutions. It will be seen, therefore, that, as far as the bodies under notice are concerned, the position of Grand Lodge is one of toleration, provided the other bodies do not attempt to pass over the border lines thus clearly laid down.
THE MARK DEGREE IS CONSIDERED
In the case of the Mark Degree, the question of its relation to the Craft has been definitely under the consideration of Grand Lodge, and it is important to recall how the question was viewed by some of the most skilled and experienced Masons of seventy years ago, represented on a special committee jointly appointed by the Board of General Purposes and Grand Chapter. That joint committee entered upon an inquiry and an investigation, as far as could be done by a body, some members of which had not been admitted to the Mark Degree, and it came to a unanimous resolution that, while the degree did not form a portion of the Royal Arch Degree and was not essential to Craft Masonry, there was nothing objectionable in it, or anything which militated against the universality of Freemasonry, and "that it might be considered as forming a graceful addition to the Fellowcraft's Degree." The Earl of Zetland, as Grand Master, approved and directed that the report of the committee should be laid before Grand Lodge, which then unanimously resolved, "That the Degree of Mark Mason or Mark Master is not at variance with the Antient Landmarks of the Order, and that the Degree be an addition to and form part of Craft Masonry; and, consequently, may be conferred by all regular warranted lodges, under such regulations as shall be prepared by the Board of General Purposes, approved and sanctioned by the M.W. Grand Master." This resolution seemed to settle the matter for all time, but, at the ensuing Quarterly Communication — that of June, 1856 — when the minutes of 5th March were read, and were proposed to be confirmed, an amendment was moved: "That such portion as relates to the subject of the Mark Masons be not confirmed," and this, after some discussion, was carried. The question has not been raised in active form since.
The relationship of Grand Lodge to these other degrees, to which many of its members belong is, therefore, somewhat confused and, to that extent, unsatisfactory; but, speaking generally, an entente cordiale has been established in this jurisdiction which prevents friction or overlapping. When, however, any attempt has been made, directly or indirectly, to associate women with Freemasonry, Grand Lodge, within these past few years, has taken a strong line. At the Quarterly Communication of 3rd September, 1919, the report of the Board of General Purposes stated: "That the Board's attention is being increasingly drawn to the sedulous endeavors which are being made by certain bodies unrecognized as Masonic by the United Grand Lodge of England to induce Freemasons to join in their assemblies. As all such bodies which admit women to membership are clandestine and irregular, it is necessary to caution brethren against being inadvertently led to violate their obligations by becoming members of them or attending their meetings. Grand Lodge in 1910 approved the action of the Board in suspending two brethren who had contumaciously failed to explain the grave Masonic irregularity to which attention is now again called; and it is earnestly hoped that no occasion will arise for having again to institute disciplinary proceedings of a like kind." The problem came more precisely before Grand Lodge at the Quarterly Communication of 2nd March, 1921, when specifically Grand Lodge adopted a report of the Board, which recommended that there should not be granted the prayer of a petition presented on behalf of an "Honourable Fraternity of Antient Masonry" asking for recognition of that body which "modelled its constitutions and ritual upon those of the United Grand Lodge of England, departing therefrom only in one matter of the admission of women." In another form, the question was again presented to Grand Lodge six months later, when Grand Lodge agreed nemine contradicente to the declaration that "no Freemason is entitled to attend any non-Masonic meeting at which Freemasonry by direct implication is introduced, or to participate in any ceremony which is quasi-Masonic or is held under some pseudo-Masonic and unauthorized auspices."
IMITATIVE MASONRY IS FEARED
In yet a further way the matter came before Grand Lodge in that same year, 1921, and midway between the taking of the two decisions just recorded. In this case the Board of General Purposes emphasized "the necessity for the greatest caution being exercised by brethren in dealing with bodies which, from a Masonic point of view, are clandestine or irregular. Brethren who served their country in a special capacity during the war were being invited to attend an 'Order', the objects of which are stated to be 'good fellowship, harmony and benevolence'. While the body is not called Masonic, it officially states that there is a Grand Council composed of those who have passed the Chair, and that the Council grants charters and dispensations for the founding, opening and consecration of lodges. 'There is a ceremony of initiation, simple and impressive, while in each of such lodges is an altar,' while again, to quote from the authorized statement, 'the lodge is dressed and regalia worn by the officers, and in two lodges already formed are to be found Freemasons who take a great interest in the Society.' The claim made in the last sentence deserves serious consideration, and the greatest caution is enjoined upon brethren when invited to assemblies of the kind indicated."
While other facts can be given from our recent history showing the jealous regard which is being taken by the authorities of Grand Lodge to prevent imitative Freemasonry from spreading to England, and strictly emphasizing the necessity for the closest scrutiny of bodies which demand any kind of Masonic test for entrants, it is not in our own jurisdiction alone that these troubles are to be found. As recently as 1922, the Grand Lodge of Ireland caused an addition to be made to its regulations dealing with any society that requires Freemasonry as qualification for membership, and its decision on this subject is worth quotation in full:
No member of any Lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Ireland shall be a member of or attend any meeting of any body or society which requires Freemasonry as a basis of or qualification for membership, except of such bodies as are included in the calendar published annually by the authority of Grand Lodge.
If any lodge, or member of a lodge, shall give any information as to the standing of a member in reply to an inquiry from any such non-recognized body, it shall be deemed to be unMasonic conduct and may be dealt with accordingly.
Members of lodges under the Grand Lodge of Ireland are forbidden to join or to belong to clubs or other bodies purporting to be or calling themselves Masonic, unless such clubs or bodies have been sanctioned by the Grand Master or the Deputy Grand Master, or if in a Masonic Province, by the Provincial Grand Master or his Deputy, or if abroad in a country under the jurisdiction of a Grand Lodge recognized by the Grand Lodge of Ireland, by such Grand Lodge. Such sanction may at any time be withdrawn without notice.
OUTER-BODIES INCREASE IN AMERICA
But it is when we cross the Atlantic that we find the greatest amount of trouble arises. I have already given a number of outer-bodies as existing in England to which no formal objection is taken, but the spread of such bodies in America is, in these times, so rapid, and their sporadic growth is so remarkable that it is difficult to keep in touch with even the names of these new organizations. We, in this country, know nothing, for example, of the Ancient Egyptian Order of Sciots, an organization popular throughout California, and in those American states west of the Rocky Mountains, and it is already possessed of a large number of members and steadily growing larger. We know as little of the composition of the Shrine, a body which has a large number of members in nearly all parts of the United States, and the Annual Sessions of which, in various of the greater American cities are occasions of much demonstration and rejoicing. There are the Tall Cedars of Lebanon, intended for men who are Masons and claim to have reached a considerable proficiency in the esoteric work, the strength of this body being mostly in the southeastern states. The Order of the Eastern Star, which is for women alone, association with which is forbidden by the United Grand Lodge of England to English Masons, has now an American membership of more than 400,000.
But more striking even than these is the rapid growth in America during the past few years of orders intended only for boys and girls. In the comparatively young Order of De Molay for Boys, which is spreading with great speed in the United States, the candidate has to declare that he is a firm believer in the One Living and True God, and that his father either is or is not a Freemason, and he has to give the names of at least four Masonic relatives, and of four adult persons who have known him for three years; while nomination for membership must be made by either two members of the chapter he wishes to join, or by two Freemasons, and chapters for chapters can be issued only by a recognized Masonic body which promises to carry on the work. Instituted as recently as the spring of 1919, it seems to be outstripping in rapidity of growth the Order of the Builders for Boys, which is of about the same age, and was instituted by members of a Lodge of Perfection of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. The object of this body is declared to organize between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one sons of members of lodges of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, and their immediate or closest boyhood companions in order to aid in advancing their mental, moral, physical and spiritual up-bringing and development, but there can also become members such Master Masons "as are interested in the promotion and welfare of the Order, and as are necessary to exercise supervision and guidance for its conduct and maintenance."
For the other sex has been instituted the Order of the Rainbow for Girls between fourteen and eighteen years of age, which is American in scope, and bears the same relationship to girls as the Order of De Molay does to boys. Claiming to "inculcate the love of God, home and country, putting special stress upon the American public school system, and political and religious liberty as guaranteed by the American Constitution." This order is for girls who are too young for membership in the Order of the Eastern Star, but for those of their elders who wish to proceed beyond the Eastern Star there is the Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem, eligibility for membership of which is good standing in the Eastern Star, though the body does not claim to be in any way connected with that Order. Its whole legend, it may be noted, is essentially Christian.
ALARMED AT INCREASE OF SIDE DEGREES
It is not an unnatural consequence of the jealousies and growth of these various imitative organizations that Craft Masonry in certain of the states is becoming alarmed at their rapid increase. One American Grand Master, who incidentally is strongly in favour of the Eastern Star and the De Molay Order for Boys, roundly denounces as "Masonic parasites" various other bodies which seek to make membership in Masonry a prerequisite to their own membership, and he most seriously has asked the attention of his Grand Lodge to the question of whether it would not be well to legislate against such a practice. Another Grand Master, when recently denouncing the attempts of various "miscellaneous organizations" basing their membership on Craft Masonry, to rush Craft Masons through a maze of higher degrees before, as he picturesquely says, "they are literally dry behind the ears," confesses his weakness when confronted with the present position. "We have not confidence enough in our own intelligence to attempt to furnish a remedy," he says, "but feel sure that someone will suggest one before long that will do good. We have scattered until our force is greatly weakened, and the time is right for the return of a consolidation of our activities. Could we abolish all save lodges and chapters, we would be the gainers, and some sweet day we may find it necessary to do just that."
I could produce a whole volume of evidence from the various records of Masonic work in the United States to show how this sponge-like growth is spreading in American Masonry, and is threatening certain of the best interests of the Craft, but I have given sufficient testimony, I think, to satisfy our brethren that the price of Masonry, as of liberty, is eternal vigilance. While willing to believe that nothing but the highest motives are entertained by those who promote these outer organizations or those who patronize their mysteries and share in their assemblies, I am strongly convinced that the policy of constant and close watchfulness, up to now pursued by the United Grand Lodge of England, when dealing with outside bodies has been fully justified by its results, and is the only one that can truly uphold the dignity and high importance of Freemasonry as we ourselves know it, feel it and hope to transmit it pure and unsullied to our successors as we have received it. It is because of this belief that I have ventured to take this opportunity to lay before so influential a lodge, and so representative a body of its members and associates, certain facts bearing upon a question which I am sure will do something to stimulate research in a direction that, up to now, as far as England is concerned, has been strangely neglected by those who should watch with the closest earnestness the everchanging signs of the times.
* * *
THE LE PLONGEON THEORY OF FREEMASONRY
Prof. Herbert J. Spinden, Massachusetts
With an Introduction by The Editor
Our fathers in Masonry will recall the stir occasioned in 1886 by the publication of Sacred Mysteries Among the Mayas and the Quiches, 11,500 Years Ago: Their Relation to the Sacred Mysteries of Egypt, Greece, Chaldea and India: Freemasonry in Times Anterior to the Temple of Solomon; written by Augustus Le Plongeon. The book was read with avidity at the time, as were all other volumes giving Freemasonry a fabulous origin, and even now the interest is not altogether abated if one may judge by the fact that inquiries concerning it come not infrequently to THE BUILDER.
Le Plongeon know as well as anybody that Freemasonry in the form it now wears is not 12,000 years old or anything like it, and was more or less familiar with the theories concerning its origin now more or less current; he made the point, a hard one to sustain but not altogether unreasonable, that while the BODY of the Craft is of comparatively modern origin, its SOUL has been a long time in the world, meaning thereby that its principles and symbols, and the general groundwork of its ceremonies, are late reincarnations of practices of the Ancient Mysteries and similar world-old religious cults. The audacious theory in Le Plongeon's book was that the Ancient Mysteries, such as were in use in Greece and Egypt, were originally founded in America, among the Mayas, and migrated from thence over an ancient land bridge that was broken when Atlantis was destroyed. He summed the argument up in a few words, to be found on page 22:
"I will endeavour to show you that the ancient sacred mysteries, the origin of Freemasonry consequently, date back from a period far more remote than the most sanguine students of its history ever imagined. I will try to trace their origin, step by step, to this continent which we inhabit — to America — from where Maya colonists transported their ancient religious rites and ceremonies, not only to the banks of the Nile, but to those of the Euphrates, and the shores of the Indian Ocean, not less than 11,500 years ago."
On page 49 is another paragraph of similar import, interesting to read:
"Seeking for the origin of the institution of the sacred mysteries, of which Masonry seems to be the great-grandchild, following their vestiges from country to country, we have been brought over the vast expanse of the blue sea, to this western continent, to these mysterious 'Lands of the West' where the souls of all good men, the Egyptians believed, dwelt among the blessed. It is, therefore, in that Country, where Osiris was said to reign supreme, that we may expect to find the true signification of the symbols held sacred by the initiates in all countries, in all times, and which have reached us through the long vista of ages, still surrounded by the veil, 'well-nigh impenetrable, of mystery woven round them by their inventors. My long researches among the ruins of the ancient temples and palaces of the Mayas have been rewarded by learning at the fountain-head the esoteric meaning of some at least of the symbols, the interpretation of which has puzzled many a wise head — the origin of the mystification and symbolism of the numbers 3, 5 and 7."
The theory may be summed up in a few words, to — wit: The origin of Freemasonry is to be found in ancient rites and symbolisms, of which the Mystery cults were the best known examples; these cults originated in America; their rites and symbols have been inherited by Freemasonry; therefore Freemasonry began in America 11,500 years ago. The whole weight of this ingenious theory rests on the Le Plongeon account of early Maya civilization, and therefore is one to be properly referred to specialists in that field.
Professor Herbert Joseph Spinden, of Peabody Museum, Harvard University, is such a specialist. He is one of the high authorities of the land on American archaeology, has made explorations among the ruined cities of Central America, and has written two books very interesting to read on the Maya subject — Maya Art, and Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America. When asked by THE BUILDER for a statement concerning Le Plongeon's work from a scientific point of view he sent the paper published herewith. An excellent and very sympathetic account of Le Plongeon's career as an archaeologist, along with a detailed description of his most important finds, will be found in Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, Oct. 21, 1874, under the caption, "Dr. Le Plongeon in Yucatan." Le Plongeon's book may be purchased through the National Masonic Research Society at $3.25 net. Prof. Spinden is not a Mason; all the more therefore are we appreciative of his courtesy in writing the critique herewith.
* * *
I WOULD appreciate the opportunity to correct a misconception which has gained strong hold regarding the origin of ancient American civilization and its possible relations with the Old World. I realize that Le Plongeon's books have been an important factor in the spread of this erroneous idea and at the same time I do not wish to put myself in the position of making an attack upon him in any way unfriendly or unappreciative of his self-sacrificing struggles.
I must say to begin with that I am not a Mason and, therefore, have no inside knowledge of the special symbolisms which are used in its ceremonies. The Masons, as their name implies, and their open history pretty clearly indicates, were builders and as such, they were first of all practical men. By this I do not mean to imply that they were not interested in ideals as well as results. Indeed it is always within the pride and practice of good craftsmanship to look beyond work to the things that work stands for in the emotional life of the social group. But I cannot think that practical builders, if given a chance, would distribute social frills and esoteric ceremonials and not distribute at the same time the machines, processes and constructions that were their solid and real existence.
There were stone-workers in ancient America who erected some very interesting temples, embellished them with geometric designs and with the faces of grotesque gods who were believed to have jurisdiction over the sun and the rain. The evolution of their art is an open book to archaeologists. They invented a kind of corbelled vault but not a keystone vault. For the most part they built their walls with a veneer of cut stone and filling of lime mortar poured over broken limestone. They had the skyscraper instinct and satisfied it by putting their principal temples upon lofty pyramids and then erecting trellis-like walls on the roofs. Doubtless some of their methods and results might be matched somewhere in the Old World, although they clearly received independent development in the New.
But — and here is the important point — they did not have metal tools, only Stone chisels. This is certainly true in Yucatan. In Peru and in western Mexico some copper and bronze chisels have been found, but no evidence that these were used in dressing stone is forthcoming. The First Empire of the Mayas, the highest period of civilization in the New World, passed without the use of metal. And yet here was a tremendous civilization on the artistic and economic side, a civilization that means vastly more to us today in the food that we eat and the clothes that we wear than do the civilizations of Greece or Rome.
There were no draft animals in America, except the dog and llama, and there was not the slightest use of the wheel as a mechanical device. If some Master Mason had reached these shores before Columbus, wouldn't he have left a cart and a windlass? Would he have wasted a precious opportunity to benefit his fellowmen in the practical ways of trade? Would he have taught instead only the details of an esoteric cult, well enough as a ceremonial but shining like the moon with light reflected from a greater purpose? These are questions which I shall let some Mason answer; I would consider myself unfair and antagonistic to the Order — which I am not — if I dared to answer these questions in the way they have been answered by Augustus Le Plongeon and some of his disciples.
Essentially the romanticists who argue that similarities in human culture necessarily mean contact degrade man instead of making his story of progress more wonderful. They picture man as having a retentive memory merely and not a creative mind, but the science of anthropology shows very clearly that men do have creative minds and that all the peoples of the world given certain opportunities and stimuli arrive at pretty much the same results.
Nearly all persons who profess to believe that the rites of Freemasonry existed in ancient America seem to have been inspired by the writings of Augustus Le Plongeon, and especially by his Sacred Mysteries Among the Mayas and Quiches, 11,500 Years Ago. Their Relation, to the Sacred Mysteries of Egypt, Greece, Chaldea and India. Freemasonry in Times Anterior to the Temple of Solomon. This book was published over thirty-five years ago at a time when real knowledge of the ancient ruined cities of Central America was non-existent. Almost anything could be claimed without fear of successful contradiction, but even in those halcyon and vociferous days Le Plongeon was not able to gain converts to his strange and fantastic theories among persons familiar with the subject matter of art and history. Today it is easy enough to controvert his basic doctrine. He believed that the civilizations of Egypt, Assyria, India, etc., began in Central America, thus taking the opposite side from many other romanticists who have attempted to carry civilizations from the Old World to the New.
Le Plongeon was one of the first to explore Chichen Itza, a ruined city in northern Yucatan, and he excavated some interesting altars and ceremonial objects which we now know belong to a period between 1000 and 1300 A.D. He made romantic explanations of these things and also evolved what he called an alphabet, pretending to read passages in inscriptions by means of this alphabet. Now the world is very eager to recover the real message in Mayan inscriptions, and every suggestion has been subjected to searching tests. The course of Mayan history has been sharply outlined. We know that Chichen Itza was founded for the first time about 450 A.D. and abandoned shortly after 600 A.D. for a period of 260 years, after which it was reestablished. It was finally abandoned about eighty years before the coming of the Spaniards after a period during which Mexican overlords controlled the destinies of the city. But Le Plongeon says, "From Chichen this great civilization seems to have extended its influence to the remotest parts of the earth, and to have exercised its controlling power among far-distant and heterogeneous nations." But comparative chronology will not let us derive the origin of Egyptian culture from a city which was founded long after Egypt had passed into ruin.
But lest there should be an attempt among some persons to reform the arguments of Le Plongeon on another base, let us look at some of the controlling facts as regards historical relations in ancient times between the New and Old Worlds. Man came into the New World as a savage with simple implements of the new-stone type, perhaps as much as 15,000 years ago and before any kind of civilization was developed anywhere in the Old World. The American Indian, as a whole, is physically closely allied to the rather primitive tribes of northeastern Asia. Nevertheless, he has natural characters which mark him off from other peoples.
The languages of the ancient Americans are distinct from those of the Old World and are highly diversified. No legitimate proofs of linguistic characters between the eastern and western hemispheres have ever been accepted, if we omit the case of a small body of Eskimos who are recent invaders into Siberia from the American side. The cultures or habits of life of the American Indians are different from those of Europe or Africa. They had simple arts, such as basketry, flint chipping, etc., when they spilled into their new land across the Straits of Bering many thousand years ago. They did not bring in food supplies, for agriculture had not been invented anywhere at this time. Now the higher civilizations of America are all built directly upon food supply, in exactly the same way as the civilizations of the Old World are built upon food supply; but the plants domesticated in America were entirely unknown in Europe and Asia before the discovery of America by Columbus and similarly the domesticated plants of the Old World were unknown in the New. The only apparent exceptions to this statement are cotton, where independent species were domesticated in the two hemispheres and the common gourd which probably drifted by water around the world.
There have been plenty of parallel developments in processes and constructions. Pottery was independently invented as was the loom. Many decorative designs were discovered over and over again, examples being such geometric forms as the swastika and the Greek fret, but all in all the most notable achievements of the East and West have been distinct. The Mayas were much ahead of the Old World nations in mathematics and astronomy. The Peruvians were the world's weavers and the sedentary American Indians in general were more successful as breeders of plants than were the peoples of the Old World. On the other hand, most domestic animals are of Old-World origin and most basic machines, such as the wheel and the screw were invented in the Old World and were entirely unknown in the New.
The follower of the fantastic proofs of contact between America and the Old World before the momentous voyage of Columbus which were presented to explain comparative minor matters, has got to swim a very wide channel against a very strong tide. Speaking as a scientist who has gone deeply into the matter of art and ceremony and kept, I hope, an open mind to real proofs, I must say that nothing has come to light that indicates that Freemasonry was known in ancient America. The only possibility of its introduction would be through the Norsemen who had a slight trading contact with primitive tribes in Greenland and Labrador. There was no lost Atlantis to give a dryland connection and no proofs of lost Phoenician galleys or any of the other romantic devices have survived the white light of scientific research.
* * *
AN UNIQUE MASONIC MEETING ON THE BATTLEFIELD IN FRANCE
The following account of a most unique event in the annals of the Craft has been collected from several sources and deserves to be put on perpetual record. The incident is not yet complete, but the main facts are as here stated. Through the courtesy of Brother Alexander Anderson, U.S.S. Maryland, the main incidents first came to our attention. The others came through correspondence with other craftsmen. So far as known this is the only occasion of its kind during the World War. It emphasizes the virility of the Institution and its adaptability to every circumstance.
— C. F. Irwin. Associate Editor.
DURING the World War the craftsmen on board the U.S.S. New Hampshire organized the "Granite Club", of which Brother Alexander Anderson was president. This club maintained the custom of entertaining all Masons of the army who traveled across the ocean east and west. During the winter of 1918-1919, while transporting troops westward, they had occasion to hold a Masonic meeting in one of their wardrooms. In the company was Worshipful Brother Colonel Morris B. Payne, who related the following story:
"On December 31, 1917, I was installed Master of Union Lodge, No. 31, A.F. & A.M., of New London, Conn. On that date I conferred the first three degrees on Colonel L.R. Burgess, commanding officer of the 56th Coast Artillery Corps. Shortly after my installation it became evident that my regiment would soon be ordered to France, so a number of Masons in the regiment petitioned the Grand Master of Connecticut to grant us a charter to take with us. This he did not care to do, and as it afterwards developed he used very good judgment, as the keeping of records and electing candidates in the field would have been practically impossible. He did, however, grant to me a special dispensation to confer the first three degrees of Masonry on ten members of the regiment who were elected but who had not been worked. Our work in the training area in France was so laid out that an opportunity to gather a lodge together did not occur until the regiment had moved into the zone of the armies. It then became apparent to me that I would have to do the work at once or possibly never do it.
"The regiment detrained at a place called La Ferte on the Marne River, and from there went into temporary billets at Charly-sur-Marne, about six miles south of Chateau-Thierry. On the evening of August 8, 1918, I opened a lodge of Entered Apprentices in the Hotel-de-Ville (City Hall). The building was in a fair state of repair, notwithstanding the destruction in the immediate vicinity. By a liberal use of blankets over the openings we were able to operate with a fair amount of privacy. On this evening I conferred the First Degree on six candidates. The three lesser lights used were three very handsome silver candlesticks borrowed from the Catholic church in the village.
"On August 9, 1918, I conferred the Second Degree on the same six candidates. For the lack of other equipment a good brother very artistically chalked the 3-5-7 steps and emblems on the floor.
"On the evening of August 11, I raised the six candidates and one other who had received his first two degrees in the States. The 26th (Yankee Division) was well represented, that outfit being located close by. The work was done perhaps not so smoothly as one would expect under more pleasant conditions, but I assure you that the candidates were not neglected.
"The first candidate for the Third Degree will perhaps recall his experience as long as he lives. After he had met his third obstruction and had been moved to the west, the bugler outside sounded taps. This feature was a coincidence which made it just the more impressive.
"A few days later I was ordered to put my guns into action. While moving into position we lost one of our most enthusiastic brothers, Brother Robert C. Fletcher, of Norwich, Conn. While our column was passing a crossroad the German artillery opened fire and Brother Fletcher received wounds that caused his death within a few moments. His loss was keenly felt by all who knew him, and it had the effect of raising the morale of my battalion to the point that nothing they could do would be enough to avenge the death of their comrade.
"The officers in the lodge were Brother Major Harry Skinner, of Massachusetts, S.W.; Brother Major J. Eugene Nestor, Connecticut, J.W. (both P.M's); Brother Capt. Camille Mazeau, Connecticut, S.D.; Brother Lieut. J.A. Harvey, Connecticut, J.D.; the other officers changed from night to night as available.
"During the Argonne battle I received dispensation to confer the degrees on several other candidates, but the opportunity never arrived."
For an interesting continuation of this story, see the following letter received through the courtesy of Capt. E.Q. Jackson, New York City. This letter is one of a large number on his files from the Masonic Club of the American Camp at Blois, France.
During May, 1918, this club advertised in the Paris edition of the New York Herald, inviting any Masons in the army to open communication with their club. The following letter was one of the replies:
May 12, 1918.
Battery E, 119 Reg.,
Dear Mr. Oettinger:
In looking through the Herald last night I saw your article concerning the Masons, and decided that you were the man that could perhaps help me.
I consider myself a Mason; consider may sound rather odd, but here's how it is. My application was sent through by Major Morris B. Payne, and I received a receipt O.K. Then we left for "over here" just the day designated to go to New London (Union Lodge, No. 31) to take my degrees, so I was disappointed. However, the Major told me that I would probably be able to take them here, and I was figuring on that being quite a novelty.
But he was temporarily transferred from our battery (56th C.A.C.) and then before he returned I was transferred to this battery. And I would like very much to be able to finish them. Today I received a copy of Craftsman and was surprised to see my name in the honour roll of the lodge, Major Payne being Worshipful Master. His whereabouts are unknown to me an I decided on asking information from you.
If you can suggest something, somehow or somewhere that I could do, or go, I would appreciate it very much. Thanking you very much, I remain, with best regards,
Corp. Leslie V. Manchester.
P.S. My home is in Norwich, Conn., and I was stationed at Fort H. G. Wright, just outside in the sound.
Thus we have on record the opening of a Master Masons lodge in the very front of the battle line during the fierce month of August in 1918, and the conferring of the three degrees upon six of our American soldiers.
* * *
FREEMASONRY AND TOLERATION IN THE COLONIES
Bro. Benjamin Wellington Bryant, California
This paper may with profit be read in conjunction with Bro. Bryant's contribution to THE BUILDER, February, 1923, page 50. THE BUILDER is not much in sympathy with those who seek to stir up religious strife and rancour, least of all with those who would introduce it into Freemasonry, nevertheless it believes that an impartial treatment of some subjects is valuable to the student, and therefore arranged with Bro. Bryant for these two able articles, along with others to follow. Those who may be interested to read an account of Roman Catholicism in Revolutionary America from the Romanist's point of view are advised to consult The Life and Times of John Carroll, published by The Encyclopedia Press, 119 East 57th street, New York City, 1922. John Carroll was Archbishop of Baltimore. Chapters v, vi and vii deal with some points covered by Bro. Bryant, and are entitled thus: "The Catholic Church in the United States on the Eve of the Revolution," "Catholics in the American Revolution," "Carroll's Mission to Canada." Bishop Carroll was largely responsible for publishing a ban against Freemasonry in America. On page 780 of his biography occurs this peculiar statement: "To those who are aware that, two years previous to this ban on the Freemasons, the Ursuline Nuns of Nantes wrought a beautiful Masonic apron of satin, with gold and silver mountings, for George Washington, this regulation will appear curious." On page 781 is a long letter written by Carroll concerning Freemasonry and the Roman Catholic Church.
"A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the art, he will never be a stupid atheist nor an irreligious libertine. But though in ancient times Masons were charged in every country to be of the religion of that country or nation, whatever it was, yet it is now thought more expedient only to obligate them to that religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves; that is, to be good men and true, or men of honour and honesty, by whatever denominations or persuasions they may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the center of union, and the means of conciliating true friendship among persons that must else have remained at a perpetual distance."
Charge "Concerning God and Religion" in the first (Anderson's) Book of Constitutions.
IN the year 1717, and during the reign of the first George of England, occurred the great event of modern Masonic history — the Revival of the Fraternity. This was far from being the least of the causes that contributed, during the subsequent half century, to the propagation of the ideals of human liberty and religious toleration, and to the undermining of despotism, both in the political and ecclesiastical sense.
The charge "Concerning God and Religion," which was first published in Anderson's Constitutions of 1723, is one of the landmarks of human as well as Masonic progress; it is doubtful if the language contains a half dozen passages of equal length that have exerted more influence upon human thought. Sectarianism and bigotry cannot live in the midst of a group of men united in the bonds of "that religion in which all men agree," for such is the very foundation of universal brotherhood. A group of men in any community united on that basis must inevitably carry the ideal with them when they leave the tiled precincts of the lodge, and must exert a powerful influence upon the thought and action of all with whom they come in contact. Such a group must be an influential factor, through their own efforts and through the force of example, in the building of a fairer, nobler and more fraternal social and political structure.
The only forces which have desired or dared to attempt the extinguishing of the light of Masonry have always been, and still are, those that work in behalf of political and religious despotism. Of these, the contest waged by the latter has been the more bitter even as its effects have been more baneful in cramping and distorting the minds of men. It is with the latter, far more than with the former, that our contest here in America has been waged from the beginning. Only too frequently history exaggerates the lesser struggles, waged on the battlefield and within legislative halls, and ignores or belittles the far more bitter and relentless, though less spectacular, struggle for the control of the minds and consciences of men.
It is more than significant that the Masonic Fraternity stepped out of the shadows into the full glare of historical light just at the time when those forces of darkness had received a most important, if not a final check in England. Of Freemasonry prior to 1717 we can catch only occasional unsatisfactory glimpses. How much of it existed and what was its influence must be left to conjecture. It is difficult to believe, however, that the religious clause in the Charges approved in 1722 represented a novel innovation or a sudden reversal of established customs.
Much has been written of those men who stood in the front rank of English Masonry at this period. Doubtless much more could be said of their high character and broad vision. However, the present purpose is to endeavour to show the intimate connection of the Craft with the dissemination of the ideas of human liberty, religious toleration and popular education which have since become the foundation stones of our American institutions.
The first Freemason on this continent of whom we have reliable historical record is a character fully in keeping with the high standards of worth which the Craft has ever sought to maintain, for it was no less a personage than Jonathan Belcher, Governor of Massachusetts Colony from 1730 to 1741. Bro. Belcher was made a Mason in England, whither he had gone to complete his education, in 1704. He returned to Massachusetts the following year.
Mr. Samuel Oppenheim devotes several pages of history of his essay on The Jews and Masonry in the United States before 1810 to consideration of a tradition of a Masonic lodge held at Newport, Rhode Island, as early as 1656 or 1658. The evidence is meager, however, and there are some points in which it does not square with well substantiated Masonic history. On the other hand, reliable evidence has been found that a lodge met for a time in King's Chapel, Boston, in the year 1720. Melvin M. Johnson, Past Grand Master of Massachusetts, in an article published in THE BUILDER for May, 1915, states on the authority of Bro. Sachse, Librarian of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, that confirmation of this fact may be found in the Library of the American Philosophical Society.
The recorded history of the Fraternity of this continent began about the year 1730, both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania claiming the honour of priority. It is sufficient for us here that the Craft was established in both these colonies about that year. Thence it spread throughout the thirteen English-speaking colonies and attracted to its altars the best of many communities, men who were or soon came to be recognized as leaders in every field of public endeavour. It is an indisputable fact that prior to the Revolution a surprisingly large number of lodges had been chartered in the colonies.
That our brethren of that early day were actively promoting the cause of public education is indicated by a fragment of correspondence quoted by Hayden in Washington and his Masonic Compeers. It is a portion of a letter from a German printer, Christopher Sowrs, of Germantown, to Conrad Weiser. In it bitter complaint is made of the activities of Benjamin Franklin and the Freemasons generally on behalf of the movement for free schools. Sowrs exclaimed: "The people who are the promoters of the free schools are Grand Masters and Wardens among the Freemasons, their very pillars."
MASONS AS PIONEERS IN EDUCATION
Another interesting sidelight on the subject of early Masonic interest in education is a resolution adopted by St. John's Lodge of Philadelphia under date of June 5, 1732, and believed by good authorities to be in the handwriting of Benjamin Franklin. It provides:
"1. That since the excellent Science of Geometry and Architecture is so much recommended in our ancient Constitutions, Masonry being first instituted with this Design, among others, to distinguish the true and skillful Architect from unskillful Pretenders; total ignorance of this art is very unbecoming a Man who bears the worthy Name and Character of a Mason.
"We therefore conclude, that it is the Duty of every Member to make himself, in some measure, acquainted therewith, as he would honour the Society he belongs to, and conform to the Constitutions.
"2. That every member may have an Opportunity of so doing, the present Cash to be laid out in the best Books of Architecture, suitable Mathematical instruments, etc."
The foregoing resolution with an account of its discovery may be found in the American edition of Gould's History of Freemasonry. (Vol. IV, p. 235.)
Here we have indisputable evidence that the Masons of Philadelphia, both as individuals and as a Fraternity, were actively interested in free education. It was scarcely two score years later that the Massachusetts brethren at least gave equal proof of their devotion to the cause of human liberty by active participation in the stirring events which led to the outbreak of the Revolution. We cannot but be certain that much of the inspiration of the innumerable other workers in the field of human progress throughout the colonies was gained from Freemasonry. The Masonic names that appear among the Colonial and Revolutionary leaders leave no doubt on this score. Washington, Randolph, Pinckney, Patrick Henry, from Virginia; Adams, Hancock, Warren, Otis, Revere, from Massachusetts; Thornton, Bartlett, Sullivan, from New Hampshire; Livingston, Jay, Gouverneur Morris, from New York; Greene, from Rhode Island; Ethan Allen, from Vermont; Franklin, Rush, Robert Morris, "Mad Anthony" Wayne, from Pennsylvania — the list is too long for more extended notice. The reader's attention is directed to Hayden's Washington and his Masonic Compeers and to Madison Peters' Masons as Makers of America.
Attention should also be drawn to the fact that the earliest Masonic centers, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia, were the colonies where the most vigorous organized resistance to royal tyranny appeared; and these colonies furnished the most able and active of the Revolutionary leaders. Some significance may be attached to this circumstance. The value of a Masonic lodge to a community, not only as a disseminator of high ideals of citizenship, but also as a training school of popular government, cannot be questioned. Too little attention has been given to this phase of Revolutionary and early Constitutional history. The part played by the Fraternity in the establishment of American independence and in the building of a stable government in these United States is as yet scarcely realized.
THE SOUL OF ULSTER
Another factor that has received little attention, and which is closely allied to Masonry, is the great Scotch-Irish immigration during the half century preceding the Revolution. These people were of the only faction in that unhappy island who could possibly have lent their cordial support to Irish Masonry, and they came from the districts where it had made its first recorded appearance in Ireland. They must have brought with them much of the Masonic ideal, together with a stern realization of the age-long, bitter and relentless struggle of ecclesiasticism against all that makes for liberty, toleration, education and fraternity. I have seen no work that gives a more clear and concise account of the conditions under which they had lived than Mr. Ernest Hamilton's The Soul of Ulster. While not a Masonic book, it is worth the time of every Mason to read it.
Only too well those sturdy Scotch-Irish pioneers knew the lengths to which religious intolerance could be carried, and their influence counted for much in shaping a government here in America under which every sect and every citizen should be equal before the law, and in creating a Constitution that is a standing rebuke to any organization or individual seeking special privileges. It is estimated that upwards of half a million of these immigrants arrived prior to the Revolution.
In 1775 there were approximately three million people in the thirteen colonies. Of these, not to exceed 25,000 were of the Roman faith. By far the greater majority of the Roman Catholic population resided in Maryland, the original "Catholic colony," and in Pennsylvania, where the Quakers extended to them a sort of negative toleration. There were some score or so of Roman Catholic priests.
There seems to have been a strong disposition on the part of our fathers of '76 to extend to this small and apparently harmless minority, a greater measure of toleration than they had enjoyed at any time previously under the colonial governments. It is significant, however, that one of the complaints raised against the Mother Country just prior to the outbreak of hostilities was occasioned by the passage by Parliament of the Quebec Act. The Declaration of Rights of 1774 mentioned this act as one of the "infringements and violations of the rights of the colonists," and declared its repeal as "essentially necessary in order to restore harmony between Great Britain and the American colonies."
"Also the act passed at the same session for establishing the Roman Catholic religion in the province of Quebec, abolishing the equitable system of English laws, and erecting a tyranny there, to the great danger (from so total a dissimilarity of religion, law and government) of the neighbouring British Colonies, by the assistance of whose blood and treasure the said country was conquered from France."
The government of Canada was thus placed practically in the hands of the priesthood. It was most bitterly resented by the English speaking colonists, and was again referred to in the Declaration of Independence two years later.
"For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies."
Article XVI, of the Virginia "Declaration of Rights," adopted May 6, 1776, expresses a sentiment that is reminiscent of the clause "Concerning God and Religion" of Anderson's Constitutions:
"That religion, or the duty we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the duty of all to practice Christian forebearance, love and charity towards each other."
These passages are important in illustrating the trend of thought in the colonies. The adoption of the Quebec Act by the English Parliament would seem to indicate that the party in power in Protestant Britain, realizing that the spirit of revolt was spreading through the English-speaking colonies, was seeking to placate the Catholic priesthood of Canada in order to enlist their aid in preventing the infection of rebellion from reaching the newly acquired French provinces. The Act served its purpose in Canada, but it only added fuel to the conflagration in the thirteen Protestant Colonies.
The purpose of the act and its certain effect upon the Roman Catholics of Quebec must certainly have been understood in the colonies, as the resentment of the colonies must have been known at least to the priesthood of that province, yet, curiously enough, the Continental Congress, only a few months prior to the adoption of the clause quoted from the Declaration of Independence, sent a commission to Quebec in an effort to enlist the aid of that province in the struggle against the mother country. The members of the commission were Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Chase and Charles Carroll; the latter's cousin, John Carroll, a Jesuit priest and later the first Catholic Archbishop in the United States, went along as a priestly appendage to the party. Needless to say, their efforts came to naught.
THE CONWAY CABAL
During the progress of the Revolution the loyalty of a large percentage of the Romanist population to the American cause was far from being above question. The infamous "Conway Cabal" against Washington took its name from Major General Thomas Conway, a member of that church and one of the few non-Masons holding high commissions in Washington's army. Again, when the British, finding themselves hard pressed for soldiers to carry on the war, sought enlistments among the colonists, their principal, if not practically their only success, was among the Roman Catholic population. These were still under the domination of the Jesuits who not only distrusted the Masonic influences that were playing so large a part in the leadership of the patriot cause, but also hated our French allies for the stand taken by France in the suppression of the Society of Jesus. Hence they were only too ready to make common cause with England against their Protestant and Masonic neighbours.
According to Bancroft's History of the United States Howe was able to form a regiment of Catholics in Philadelphia. Clinton also, by playing on their racial weaknesses and by flattery, allured many in New York to the support of the British cause. He raised a regiment for Lord Rawdon in which both officers and men were exclusively Irish Roman Catholics. Among them were nearly five hundred deserters from the Continental Army. Two regiments certainly represented no small percentage of the able bodied males among the 25,000 adherents of that faith in the colonies at the time. So much for the "Irish of the Revolution."
By way of contrast the almost interminable list of Masons who were active supporters of the cause of independence speaks for itself. Much could be written of the work of the military lodges in the Continental Army, as well as of the numerous civil and military leaders who were members of the Fraternity. When Warren fell at Bunker Hill the Massachusetts brethren lost their Provincial Grand Master. The Sons of Liberty were largely officered by Masons, and their Boston headquarters, the Green Dragon Tavern, was also the home of St. Andrew's Lodge. It is a matter of record that on the night of the famous "Tea Party" the lodge was unable to work owing to lack of attendance. Paul Revere, who had been credited with the leadership of the band that boarded the tea ships, was at the time Junior Warden of St. Andrew's Lodge. Many of the other Revolutionary leaders who were Masons have already been mentioned.
The number of Masons among the signers of the Declaration of Independence and among the members of the Constitutional Convention is too much in dispute for discussion in the limited space of this article, but enough is known with certainty to prove that the leading spirits of both conventions were members of the Craft. The immortal documents framed at those two conventions were made possible by, as they represented the spirit of Freemasonry in America.
* * *
THE COMACINE MASTERS: A REPLY
Bro. W. Ravenscroft, England
Historians know a great deal about the builder gilds of the Roman Empire and much about the gilds of the Middle Ages; but what about the extended period between the two? For a long time it appeared to be impossible to bridge this gap. It remained for a woman, Mrs. Lucy Baxter, writing over the pen name of "Leader Scott" in a volume entitled "The Cathedral Builders," to offer a theory with sufficient merit in it to attract general attention. Mrs. Baxter was followed by Bro. W. R. Ravenscroft, whose little book, "The Comacines, Their Predecessors and Their Successors," was published serially in THE BUILDER. An elementary sketch of the Comacine Theory was published in the Study Club department of THE BUILDER, October, 1923, page 305. The contribution printed below was written by way of reply to the Study Club article, and should be read in conjunction therewith. Bro. Ravenscroft is one of the most delightful friends in the world who understands how to disagree without being disagreeable.
IN the October 1923 number of THE BUILDER under the section set apart for the Study Club the editor has dealt with the question of Freemasonry and the Comacine Masters, and if one may be permitted to say so he has done this with frankness, fairness and friendly spirit and by not attempting to settle differences but by restricting himself to a statement of known facts and a brief sketch of theories regarding the Comacines and their relation to Freemasonry. He has opened the door for some further consideration of the subject. He concludes his article, however, by an expression of his opinion for which I am sure we are grateful because of the value we set upon anything he gives us in that, as in other directions. This permits one to venture on a similar expression. May I therefore, in a short effort, be allowed to carry on the study and divide what I have to say into four parts:
- As to the facts about the Comacines.
- As to opinions about them.
- As to the connection between them and Speculative Masonry.
- As to Bro. Haywood's closing remarks.
First then as to facts:
It is amazing to read that Wyatt Papworth should say "I believe they never existed," or that George Edmund Street should consider the "theory" of the Comacines altogether erroneous when we have such a mass of actual historic evidence before us, and when we can give documentary evidence and the names and dates of individual Comacine Masters and point to the scores of buildings they erected, still standing. Moreover, we have statements (not opinions) of Italian writers who have studied the subject; and last of all the numerous traditions which, although not direct evidence, are of some value. Neither Wyatt Papworth nor Street, however, are men to whom we should look for any reliable help in this direction, simply because the one was concerned chiefly in architectural history in general and could not have given the time or thought required to qualify for a statement on the Comacines and Freemasonry on which any reliance could be placed, while the other (Street) was distinctly a student of Gothic development and not an authority for the work of those days which preceded the birth of Gothic in Europe. I very much doubt if either seriously studied and investigated the subject on the spot or indeed sufficiently to make their evidence of any value. One might write a great deal more on this first point, for it seems to me it would be just as reasonable to doubt whether William the First ever conquered England as to question the existence or work of the Comacines. But I will only add that it is known as fact (the editor says "believed") that Comacine Masters and Craftsmen did work in the district of Como and that the reason for their continuing in that neighbourhood was, as the editor says, the twofold one of available quarries, and the rapid development of the Lombards from a semi-savage to a civilized people.
Next as to opinions about the Comacines. Here I need only refer to those hostile, the chief of such being held, I suppose, R. F. Gould. This writer has, according to some, demonstrated conclusively a good many things, and amongst them the mythical character of the Comacines. Bro. E. Ellison of San Francisco last year contributed an article to THE BUILDER entitled "Traveling Craftsmen" (April 1922, page 102) in which he relies on the opinion of Gould; but in the November number of THE BUILDER of the same year Bro. Cyrus Field Willard, of California, effectually disposes of the position taken by Gould, and one cannot do better than refer to that article in order to show the weakness of Gould's opinion. Unfortunately I do not know what Dr. Milman has to say, but I am well aware that in England there are critics who, in their desire to trace everything that one would denominate "Comacine" to Byzantine origin, simply ignore the existence of the former or at least call it by another name. Not so Rivoira who places between these two influences that of Ravenna, and in a most consistent way shows their relation to each other.
I pass on to the connection between the Comacines and Speculative Freemasonry, and here it seems necessary to make it clear that no claim based on proof has, so far as one knows, been made that in an unbroken line Speculative Masonry is clearly the direct outcome of the Comacine Gilds.
What are the facts?
That Comacine lodges did exist. There are records of them; buildings are still standing which are pointed out as their headquarters, e.g. one at Assisi referred to in my little book. They had a system of symbolism in many respects similar to that of Speculative Masonry. They were called to England over and over again and engaged in the erection of churches there.
The architecture of those churches corresponded with that of their work in Lombardy in many striking details. And the symbolism expressed in stone in those churches also corresponded in many ways with that they had at home. So far as I know these are undisputed facts, and then, although of course of less weight, there are their traditions of King Solomon's Temple. Leaving that out, however, as nebulous, if some brethren would have us so regard it, I submit we have facts enough to show that in England there did exist "Masonic lodges" by whatever name they may be called. If it be challenged that this is all true except that the men who formed these lodges in England were not Comacines, one asks the question, Who then were they? Not men from Byzantium, not from Rome, not from Germany, but either from France or Italy; so the records read, so the architecture conforms, and I think I am right in saying history gives no other gilds who would be at all likely to fill the place claimed for these men.
Metzario professes to trace their existence through the later medieval times and claims for them the glory of Gothic architecture. Here I venture to think he is wrong and that the real fact was that the Comacine gilds merged into those of the Gothic Masters which were more wide spread in Europe than ever the Comacines had been. In a word these latter were lost in the larger movement which characterized the great Gothic building period. That their ritual and symbolism, probably with many modifications, passed on to the later gilds one claims as a fair inference and equally that our Speculative Masonry is largely based upon the practices of the later medieval gilds, thus forming a chain of several links, connecting the Comacine Masters with our Masonry of to-day, but beyond that one would not venture to dogmatize.
Now as to Bro. Haywood's closing remarks. Here may I say that the delightful and courteous way in which he disagrees, is so attractive that one is fain to be thankful even for the disagreement. In the same spirit I would reply as follows:
Bro. Haywood says my opinion that the Comacines held traditions of King Solomon's temple is open to two facts which tell heavily against me. One that most of these traditions are in the Scriptures and therefore available to anyone. To this I reply that the Scriptures were not available to anyone, only to the learned and chiefly to ecclesiastics. Hence the value of a body outside the church holding such traditions. Moreover, supposing they had been available to anyone that does not militate against their adoption or symbolic usage by any guild. They are open to anyone today yet we Masons appropriate them in a peculiar sense.
The other argument against me, Bro. Haywood says, is that there is no known connection between the Comacine and Gothic gilds which latter developed in Europe, but found little development in Italy. I think the answer to this is given under my last heading in which I considered the decline of the Comacine gilds thus showing that there were not two schools running on contemporaneously and to this I might add that in England at least the growth of Gothic work out of Norman architecture through the transitional period and the previous growth of Norman work in England out of the so-called Saxon, evidences a connection and sequence which cannot be ignored. This being the case it is not to be expected that there should be any connection between these gilds except that of sequence.
I have only now to thank the editor for the kind words in which he has referred to my researches and writings, and for the courteous spirit and unbiased manner in which he has set forth his conclusions. May I hope that, for further elucidation of whatever may remain obscure regarding the Comacines, any brother who can contribute information will do so seeing it is better (whether my theories hold good or are shaken) that the truth shall prevail.
I hold no brief against stronger evidence.
* * *
"A TOAST TO OUR NATIVE LAND"
Huge and alert, irascible yet strong,
We make our fitful way 'mid right and wrong.
One time we pour out millions to be free,
Then rashly sweep an Empire from the sea!
One time we strike the shackles from the slaves.
And then, quiescent, we are ruled by knaves.
Often we rudely break restraining bars,
And confidently reach out toward the stars.
Yet under all there flows a hidden stream
Sprung from the Rock of Freedom, the great dream
Of Washington and Franklin, men of old
Who knew that freedom is not bought with gold.
This is the land we love, our heritage,
Strange mixture of the gross and fine, yet sage
And full of promise, — destined to be great.
Drink to Our Native Land! God Bless the State.
— Robert Bridges, in Atlantic Monthly, January, 1902.
* * *
ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE WITH ITS GROUPS OF THREE
Bro. Charles E. Boyden, Grand Lecturer, A.F.&A.M., North Dakota
Now let our minds be clear and free
To dwell a while on Masonry,
Its basic principles forsooth,
That we may grasp the Precious Truth
Concealed in "Mystic Groups of Three"
As visioned in the First Degree.
THE left was said by ancient Masonic writers to be the weaker part of man and by analogy the Entered Apprentice Degree was pronounced the "weakest" part of Masonry; but the consensus of opinion among modern Masonic investigators lays more stress on the Entered Apprentice Degree as being basic and fundamental; the cornerstone of a moral and Masonic edifice. Upon this cubical stone of "Faith in God' the candidate for Masonic Light, at his entrance, places his trust and commences to build the temple of character.
Let us consider in detail these "Groups of Three" which in this degree are quite marked. Masonry is defined by many Masonic writers as being a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols, and the symbolism of the Entered Apprentice Degree is mainly calculated to impress upon the mind a high regard for the moral lessons to be derived from a study of the "groups of three" as presented in the lectures.
The "Three Knocks," alluding to a certain text in scripture, "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you," was applied as follows: the candidate asked the recommendation of a friend to be made a Mason, through his recommendation sought initiation, knocked at the door of the lodge and it was opened unto him. How true this allusion is to life. What we ask for and seek for in truth and set our affections upon, we naturally obtain. It is the law of the natural and spiritual world.
The Three Great Lights are the Holy Bible, Square, and Compasses. The Holy Bible is to rule and guide our faith, the Square to square our actions, and the Compasses to circumscribe and keep us in due bounds with all mankind. The Holy Bible is dedicated to God, it being the inestimable gift of God to man; the Square to the Master, for it is the proper Masonic emblem of his office; and the Compasses to the Craft, for by a due attention to its uses they are taught to circumscribe their desires and keep their passions in due bounds.
The Three Lesser Lights are the Sun, Moon and Master of the Lodge symbolical of the Divine Mastery over Nature, and the Mastery of Man over himself and the Animal Kingdom.
In the Three Divisions of the twenty-four inch gauge we find eight hours for the service of God and the relief of a distressed worthy brother, eight for our usual avocation and eight for refreshment and sleep. In this material age we are apt to emphasize the latter two divisions of our time and neglect the former, "service to God and our fellow men." If Masons could only be impressed with this fair division of time, what happiness would follow!
The Three Symbolic Supports of a lodge are Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty. The universe is the Temple of the Deity whom we serve; wisdom, strength and beauty are about His throne as pillars of His work, for His wisdom is infinite, His strength omnipotent, and his beauty shines forth through all His creations in symmetry and order. These pillars represent the three principal officers of the lodge. The Worshipful Master is supposed to have wisdom to open and govern his lodge; the Senior Warden to assist him in his arduous duties, and the Junior Warden, who in ancient times observed the sun at meridian height, which is the beauty and glory of the day, presides at the refreshment hour and sees that none convert the means of refreshment into intemperance or excess.
Faith, Hope and Charity are the principal rounds of the mysterious ladder which Jacob in his vision saw extending from earth to heaven; the greatest of these is Charity, for our Faith may be lost in sight, Hope ends in fruition, but Charity or Love extends beyond the grave throughout the boundless realms of eternity.
The Three ornaments of the lodge are the Mosaic Pavement, the Indented Tessel, and the Blazing Star. The Mosaic Pavement is a representation of the ground floor of King Solomon's Temple; the Indented Tessel, of that beautiful tessellated border or skirting which surrounded it. The Mosaic Pavement is emblematic of human life, checkered with good and evil; the Beautiful Border which surrounds it of those blessings and comforts which surround us, and which we hope to obtain by a faithful reliance upon Divine Providence, which is hieroglyphically represented by the Blazing Star.
The Three Symbolic lights are to be found in the East, West, and South, while Darkness (the absence of light) is to be found in the North. Let us always be seekers after more light and avoid the abysmal Darkness, which is the state of a Soul on its journey through life without light to guide.
The Three Immovable Jewels are the Square, Level and Plumb. The Square teaches morality, the Level equality, and the Plumb rectitude of life.
The Three Movable Jewels are the Rough Ashlar, the Perfect Ashlar, and the Trestle Board. These jewels mark the line of culture and progress. The Rough Ashlar is a stone taken from the quarry in its rude and natural state. The Perfect Ashlar is a stone made ready by the hands of the workman to be adjusted by the working tools of the Fellowcraft. The Trestle Board is for the master workman to draw his designs upon. The rude stones have by work and discipline been transformed into beautiful and polished ones; so it is with our lives in Masonry; from rudeness to culture, from darkness to light, from slavery of bodily appetites to the mastery of our own minds and spirits, the very discipline necessary for progress.
The Three Tenets of our profession are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. By the exercise of brotherly love we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family — the high and low, the rich and poor. On this principle Masonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion. To relieve the distressed is a duty incumbent on all men but more particularly on Masons who are linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection. Truth is a Divine attribute and the foundation of every virtue. To be good and true is the first lesson we are taught in Masonry. On this theme we contemplate, and by its dictates endeavour to regulate our conduct.
Freedom, Fervency and Zeal were the characteristics of the Entered Apprentices in ancient times represented in the lodge by Chalk, Charcoal and Clay. There is nothing freer than Chalk, the slightest touch of which leaves a trace behind; there is nothing more fervent than Charcoal, to which, when well ignited, the most obdurate metals will yield; nothing more zealous than Clay, or our Mother Earth, which is Continually imparting for man's necessities, and constantly reminding us that as, from it we came so to it we must all sooner or later return.
The Groups of Three set forth in the beautiful lectures and ceremonies of the Entered Apprentice Degree must become a part of the spiritual temple we are endeavouring to erect in our lives if we are to build characters that shall resist the temptations of our animal nature and permit us to continue our Masonic career unto the end of our material existence, that end which we hope will usher in the perfect day.
In this article we have not attempted to consider the beautiful lessons to be derived in the presentation of the "Lambskin," or the request for a "Memento," nor have we alluded to the "Situation and Dedication" of Masonic Lodges, or even the "Four Cardinal Virtues." Each of these would demand separate articles, but we confined ourselves to the Groups of Three as set forth in this degree. The reader will find some Iteration of Phrases found in the Monitor, but we cannot too often be reminded of the valuable character of the lessons sought to be inculcated in these Groupings of Three.
* * *
How differently in Masonry! The hand that grasps a brother is the hand of charity, relief and truth. The arms that are stretched forth to minister consolation and comfort, are the strong arms of sympathy and brotherly love. The eye that sees the Masonic brother's signal of distress, and the ear that catches the words that accompany it when daylight has departed, are the willing eyes and ears that will hasten to a brother's relief and whisper words of cheer and hope and comfort, and like the good Samaritan, bind up his wounds and minister to his wants.
— The Beeches Lodge, Toronto, Canada.
* * *
SIGNOR MUSSOLINI RECEIVES MASONS
(By Courtesy of The Christian Science Monitor)
THERE is a brief announcement in the papers that the President of the Council, Benito Mussolini, received at Palazzo Chigi a delegation representing the Order of the Scottish Rite. The Masons forming this delegation were: Grand Master Raoul V. Palermi, Comm. Cesare Mombello, Prof. Ernesto Villa, Comm. Dott. Tito Gualdi, Grand Uffieiale Dott. Pietro Villetti, Comm. Giovanni Nicolini, Comm. Vittorio Falorsi, Cav. Giovanni Giaealone, Capt. Marehese Navarra Viagiani.
In the receipt of the journals it is said that Grand Master Palermi, speaking for the Scottish Rite Masons in Italy, expressed to Signor Mussolini the admiration of his Masonic brethren for the work which the Fascist Government had accomplished, pledging anew their unfaltering support of those ideals which inspire the Duce in his service to the patria and the people. Grand Master Palermi also registered his commendation of the new school reform, especially because of its emphasis on moral and religious values. Signor Mussolini in reply thanked the members of the delegation heartily for their words, expressing likewise his sympathy for their national order. The notice of this meeting is brief, but its significance should not be overlooked.
EITHER MASONRY OR FASCISMO
First of all, this is a complete right-about-face by Signor Mussolini in his attitude toward Masonry. Only a few months back he was saying clearly to all Italian Masons that they must choose between Masonry and Fascismo. If they were Masons, they could not be Fascisti; if they were Fascisti, they could not be Masons. Last July, speaking in Parliament in favor of his new electoral law, he referred to the Masons of Palazzo Giustiniani in most uncomplimentary terms. Four mouths later he receives officially this delegation of the Italian Scottish Rite and expresses his kindly feeling for the Order.
One cannot read the inside of Signor Mussolini's mind, but one may infer what is transpiring in the thought of the Fascist Dictator. There are those who hold that this is simply another pass to gather in his support parties outside of Fascismo. He is experiencing considerable difficulty in his efforts to hold his own special Fascist forces united. While on the surface his ranks are intact, it is well known that very serious divisions exist. Because of bitter internal dissensions, not long since he was forced to decapitate his entire Fascist executive council. Subsequently he declared that Fascismo had been created to aid him in saving the patria. If by small polities it showed itself unworthy of this high calling, he would look elsewhere for the support necessary to rehabilitate the country.
Some maintain that in receiving this delegation from the Scottish Rite he is giving tardy recognition to that branch of Italian Masonry which assisted him to secure control of the Government, and which since his assumption of power has thrown the weight of its organization solidly and consistently in support of his program. On his arrival in Rome, at the head of his troops, Grand Master Palermi was one of the first to shake his hand. As a matter of fact, Signor Palermi has been criticized severely in certain quarters for his so-called surrender to Fascismo.
When Signor Mussolini arrived in Rome with his Fascist troops he found another special, well equipped army of Blue Shirts, calling themselves the Nationalists. Their chief was Luigi Federzoni. There were in the city at that time 20,000 to 30,000 of these young Nationalists, thoroughly organized and prepared for armed action. Signor Mussolini felt it the part of wisdom to unite, if possible, these Blue Shirts with his own Black Shirts. The Blue Shirts, being intensely Roman Catholic and therefore uncompromisingly hostile to Masonry, it was necessary for the Dictator, in order to secure his desired union of forces, to assume an attitude strongly antagonistic to the Masonic fraternity. This is the explanation given for his outburst against Masonry. It is current report that he now feels himself sufficiently strong to express his real sentiment for the Craft, which is one of genuine friendliness. The word is also being passed in well-informed circles that the Duce himself is a Mason, though officially this is denied.
It is more or less evident that two principal considerations have induced the Fascist condottiero to modify his policy. First, he has no intention of allowing himself to he sewed up in a Vatican suck. For his own political reasons he supports strongly the rehabilitation of the Vatican power in Italy. Don Sturzo has gone quietly into his retreat. No word comes from him, but Don Sturzo still lives. At the opportune moment the hierarchy that ordered him to retire may easily summon him to assume again the leadership of the Roman Catholic forces on the field of battle. Signor Mussolini has begun the creation of the new units that will serve him in that day.
In the second place, and this is perhaps the main reason for his change of policy toward Masonry, he is deeply concerned for his foreign policy. Fascismo has never been popular in France, England and America. And on the good will of one or more of these countries he must depend for any success he may achieve abroad.
NATIONS LOOK ASKANCE AT FASCISMO
In England and in America, Fascismo is unpopular because it is anti-democratic, to say nothing of its anti-constitutional actions. In France, its military threat is recognized. The highhanded occupation of Flume and the seizure of Corfu have intensified this hostility, and aroused a great fear in all the Balkan states, as well as in the smaller countries of other parts of Europe.
Signor Mussolini begins to realize the enormous influence of world-wide Masonry. At the same time, his eyes are opening to the feet that the Craft throughout the world is almost solidly against him.
Lately there was convened in Paris an international congress of the Grand Orient. The dominant thought of this conference is summed up by Mr. Vandervelde in the following words:
"Some recent happenings — the occupation of the Ruhr and the triumph of Fascismo — demonstrate the urgent necessity of an international union of all those who wish to defend democracy against nationalistic tendencies. This union can and must be established outside of all parties."
A high official of the Scottish Rite organization in Italy was asked how he reconciled his unqualified support of Signor Mussolini with the Masonic fundamentals of liberty and brotherhood. His reply was: "Fascismo is the constitutional Government of Italy. We are loyal to that constitutional Government. Under this Government Italians are free to follow the legitimate pursuits of life, liberty and happiness!"
The second question put to him was this: "How can you, a Mason, declare yourself in perfect accord with Signor Mussolini in his school reform, which places the schools of the country in the hands of the priests?" He insisted that the schools of the country have not been handed over to the control of the Roman Catholic Church. "Private schools," he continued, "may now be organized on an equal footing with those of the State. Religious instruction is obligatory, but parents are free to accept or reject the priests as religious instructors of their children. Protestants and Jews and Liberals should see that this, their right, is exercised, and at the same time they should put forth the utmost effort to provide schools in which they may determine the character of the religious instruction."
* * *
MEMORIALS TO GREAT MEN WHO WERE MASONS
Bro. Geo. W. Baird. P.G.M., District of Columbia
ADLAI EWING STEVENSON
BROTHER STEVENSON was born in Christian County, Kentucky, in 1835, and received his early education in the schools of that county, and, later, attended Center College, where he was graduated with honor. He moved to Bloomington, Ill., with his father's family, where he studied law, and was there admitted to the Bar. In 1859 he had a good practice in Metamora, Ill. and was also later in chancery in the circuit court for a number of years. His methods were agreeable, fair and straight, and he won the confidence of the people. In 1864 he was nominated by the Democratic party as a presidential elector. In the interest of General McClellen, the nominee of his party, he canvassed the state, speaking in about every county, town, and hamlet. He returned to Bloomington in 1869, and formed a law partnership with J. S. Ewing, which continued until the day of his death. The firm had a good practice with the state and federal courts.
He was first nominated for Congress in 1874 and as the district had been "safely" Republican for so many years his chances were not regarded as good, and, besides that his opponent was Gen. McNulta, a soldier, lawyer and citizen above reproach. Though the campaign was a vigorous one it resulted in the election of Bro. Stevenson. He was in Congress during the Tilden-Hayes contest in 1876, a trying time, in which the people accepted the decision with loyalty and love of harmony. Stevenson was renominated for Congress a second time but was defeated. In 1878, however, he was again elected, and by an increased majority. He was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in 1884, in Chicago, and, after the election of Mr. Cleveland, he was appointed first assistant post master general, the duties of which are probably more exacting than any in the Post Office Department. During this incumbency he afforded important assistance to the President in formulating the civil service, for, under the post office, there are more appointments than all the rest, and Bro. Stevenson was glad to make wise and fair rules, rules which would enable the department to retain men in office for their service more than for their politics.
Mr. Cleveland soon learned to love Bro. Stevenson, as so many others did. He was elected Vice-President of the United States in 1893 and served during the second term of Mr. Cleveland, during which time his intimacy with the President continued. For some reason, never explained, the Vice-President has not been much in evidence, and Mr. Harding was the first President to invite his Vice-President to be one of the Cabinet. But there was evidently a bond of friendship between Mr. Cleveland and Mr. Stevenson which continued to the end.
After the expiration of his term of office as Vice-President, Mr. Stevenson was sent to Europe to try to secure concurrent legislation on the bi-metal coinage. It was a delicate mission: touch a man's pocket or a nation's pocket and you are near his heart: a selfish interest is manifested that shows plainly the selfishness of the animal. Stevenson had such a nice way of smoothing people the right way that he met much favor. He was defeated for Vice-President in 1900, which terminated his political career.
From the Grand Secretary in Illinois we learn that Bro. Stevenson was Master of the Lodge in Metamora, the lodge in which he received his degrees. He was, afterwards, Master of Lodge No. 43, in Illinois. He was never spoiled by prosperity: he was ever easy to approach, and he was ever ready to hear what a brother had to say to him.
He married the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Lewis W. Green, president of Center College, at Danville, Ky., and had a son and three daughters. He was always regarded as an ideal citizen: temperate in every way, but convivial withal. His influence was gentle, persuasive rather than forceful, but felt all the same. He was a man of untiring energy, and was always ready in his law cases as in his politics. He was the same kind of a Democrat that Jefferson was: though he had more appointments under his office in the post office than any other Cabinet officer, he sought to reduce rather than add to the number of office bearers.
Bro. Stevenson died in the Presbyterian Hospital, Chicago, Ill., in June, 1914, and was buried in the lot with his wife in Evergreen Cemetery, at Bloomington, Ill. The only memorial ever erected to his memory is the one in the gallery of the United States Senate, shown in the cut. This honor has been done to a few of the Vice-Presidents.
"God hath made mankind one vast Brotherhood, Himself the Master, and the World His Lodge."
* * *
THE STUDY CLUB
Chapters of Masonic History
Bro. H. L. Haywood, Editor
PART IX. THE OPERATIVE MASONS
IT is now generally accepted by Masonic authorities that the modern fraternity of Freemasons had its origin among the builder guilds of England in the Middle Ages. A rapid survey of the gild system in general was published in this department in November; it is now in order to examine with more care the Masonic gilds themselves, with a view to gaining a picture (necessarily somewhat in the rough, and in outline) of the customs and manners of our Masonic forbears, a subject that is saved from being academic and dry by the fact that most of the rules, regulations and customs now in operation among us are traced to the early Operative Masons (as it is the habit to describe them), so that it is impossible for us to understand the Masonry of today apart from the Masonry of many centuries ago.
The subject is admittedly difficult. "We possess no series of documents, nor even an approach to a series, sufficiently extensive to enable us to form any connected history of the ancient institutions of Masons and Freemasons. We have, in fact, no materials by which we can form any definite idea of the precise nature of those early societes." These words by Halliwell-Phillips, discoverer of the Regius Poem, the oldest and most precious of all Masonic MSS., were uttered in 1839; much has been added to our knowledge of Masonic history since then, indeed Masonic history strictly so-called did not come into existence for nearly a half century afterwards, but even so the statement remains substantially correct. Our sources are scattered as well as meager and often it requires great ingenuity to find any sources at all. Moreover, it should be borne in mind that the Freemasonry of England prior to 1717 was a developing and changing institution so that it varied much from place to place and time to time; it is an error to generalize too widely on the basis of some one fact.
Also it is necessary that we challenge every writer on the subject to furnish us with his authorities and sources, and that he prove himself free from partisanship; a vast deal of the so-called "Masonic literature" which floats about the world is derived at second or third hand from uncritical writers who took their own theories from hearsay, or from an ignorant misinterpretation of known facts. The existence of a statement in some old book, even if it be a volume of "Constitutions" more or less officially sanctioned by Grand Lodge, is not by any means a token of its authenticity. The theories of the older writers — so long known and so often loved among us — the Anderson's, Preston's, Oliver's, Hutchinson's, and the rest, are after all theories only, and no more to be protected from the scrutiny of historical criticism than theories promulgated in our own day.
The general sources from which authentic historians gather information concerning Operative Masonry may be roughly divided into seven or eight groups, tabulated for convenience's sake as follows:
- The general history of medieval architecture. A study of the building art throughout the Middle Ages, as it developed in Italy, Germany, Netherlands, France and England reveals much concerning the builders, so that one may often learn more about Masonry from a non-Masonic historian than elsewhere. Porter's Medieval History, in two volumes, is a case in point.
- The general history of the people of England. The gild life of the Middle Ages played as conspicuous a part in the life of the people as churches and schools do among on the history of the people helps us the better to understand the institutions in their midst.
- Statutes passed by various kings and parliaments to govern labourers. The Ordinance of Labourers, 1349, and the Statute of Labourers, 1350, are typical cases.
- Under the same general head might be included the gild returns, consisting of reports made by gilds to the government upon official demand. It is believed by some writers that the Regius MS., or Poem, was written in response to some such demand in order to furnish official information concerning the history and practice of the Freemasons, late in the fourteenth century.
- The Old Manuscripts of the Craft, the earliest of which was the "Poem" just mentioned, usually dated as of 1390. These documents were written by credulous and miracle-loving men in an age when it was easier to believe marvels than not, so that as sources of history they are to be read with great care; but the application to them of the historical methods popularly known as the "higher" and the "lower" criticism yields results of rare value.
- Diaries, letters, lodge minutes, fabric rolls, etc. The records of the City Company of London, presented to the Craft by Edward Conder, and the old lodge minutes of Scotland are cases in point.
- General literature of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century. Sir Richard Steele mentions Freemasonry, so also Plot, Dugdale, etc.
- The relics from the past embedded in the present institution, like fossilized remains in a rock stratum, reminding one of the familiar lines of Bro. Rudyard Kipling, who, in writing them, may very well have had this point in mind:
"I cleared me ground for a Palace such as a King should build.
I decreed and cut down to my levels, presently, under the silt,
I came on the wreck of a Palace such as a King had built."
A careful analysis of the ritual, for instance, against the background of general Masonic history yields, in the right hands, safe and valuable findings.
MANY PROBLEMS REMAIN OBSCURE
It has been a huge task to develop these sources of possible information concerning our ancient history; the end is far from yet, so that a wise student will, as dear Horace Bushnell was wont to put it, "hang many subjects on pegs, as not disposed of yet." Many of the most important of our historical problems, such as the question as to the number of degrees before 1717, are still on the pegs, and will probably long manuscripts yet undiscovered, and numberless others not examined by Masonic scholars.
The craft of the Operative Mason was not easy to learn, especially since there were no books, manuals and schools such as are now in use; a workman had to apprentice himself when a mere boy in order to learn the art at first hand in the dame school of experience. A compact organization was necessary (as it was in most other crafts) not only to protect trade secrets but also as a means of schooling.
Oftentimes a Mason worked alone, moving on from place to place as work might require, and in accordance with the rules and regulations obtaining in the various communities, each of which had its own laws and "customs" — the latter usually recognized by the courts as having the weight of law. In such an instance Masonry could be practiced in a village in which was no lodge or guild.
In many towns the Masons had their own gilds, like other crafts; in that event they conducted their work in the manner described in these pages in November. It is a fact worthy of remark that the gild Masons did not cut much of a figure in town life, being usually relatively of lesser importance as compared with gilds of the other crafts; and in some instances they were forbidden to have gilds at all, why it is not always easy to determine, though it is probable that much of the building of the average town was monopolized by the carpenters, for brick and stone structures did not come generally into use until a comparatively late period. "For instance, at Norwich, that town of churches, the Masons appear to have had no gild of their own in 1375, but to have been attached to the carpenters. In the Exeter plays the Masons share a play with the Goldsmiths; and at York they are joined with the Hatmakers, In 1604 we find a corporation at Oxford given a charter which includes Freemasons. Carpenters, Joiners and Slaters." (Vibert)
It appears that the "lodge" was peculiar to the Masons, though it is probable that other crafts would sometimes have buildings or rooms of their own near a place of work, the carpenters, for example; but the lodge as an organization, a controlling body as well as the building, hut, or lean-to in which it met, belonged only to the builders. It was usually attached to the building under construction, but sometimes was a permanent structure, as at Aberdeen. In some instances, as at York and Westminster, permanent gangs of workmen were in constant attendance and probably used permanent rooms or buildings. The existence of a lodge wherein to assemble, admit apprentices and for it is mentioned in the Regius Poem among regulations governing apprentices who were forbidden to divulge what happened in the "logge". The Cooke MS. ordains that a Mason must "hele [conceal] the counsel of his fellows in lodge and in chamber", a wise rule that might at this late day be hung on lodge walls.
WAS THERE "ONE BIG FRATERNITY"?
Were all these various lodges and individual workmen governed by "one big fraternity" having jurisdiction over the entire Craft? It used to be a common opinion that such was the case, but all the facts subsequently unearthed point in the opposite direction, a conclusion well stated by Mr. Wyatt Papworth, in Transactions of Royal Institute of Architects: "All the documents have led me to believe that there was not any supreme gild in England, however probable the existence of such a body may appear. Thus the 'orders', supplied to the Masons in York Cathedral in 1352, give but a poor notion of there being then in that city anything like a gild or fellowship claiming authority in virtue of a charter, supposed to have been given to it by Atheistan in 926, not only over that city but over all England." R. F. Gould, who cites the above, concurs, and says, as regards the theory of one supreme gild, that it all the evidence we possess points in quite an opposite direction." The unity of the Mason trade was sustained like that of any other craft, by general laws, rules, regulations and customs adhered to throughout the land, and also, as explained in the first chapter of this series, by the nature of the work itself which, like technical occupations of the present day did not admit of wide variations in practice. Uniform control of all lodges from a central authority did not come until very late; it was not attempted until after the formation of Grand Lodge in London, 1717, and was not perfected until the organization of the United Grand Lodge of England, in the first quarter of the nineteenth century.
A more difficult matter to make plain, but absolutely vital to an understanding of the subject, is the difference between gild Masons and Freemasons. Such data as we possess is both fragmentary and confusing, so that the best specialists have been unable to clear up all the problems involved. However, it seems pretty certain that there was always a rather wide division between the members of the local stationary gilds having a monopoly of building in each town, and the Freemasons employed to build cathedrals and other ecclesiastical structures. The gild Mason was bound down by local ordinances and was not permitted to work outside his own community, which fact will carry all the more force when it is remembered that in the Middle Ages towns were vastly more independent and self-centered than they are now, and more jealous of local laws and customs. But there was of course no steady work in any one town for men trained to work on cathedrals, a specialized form of architecture so difficult and requiring so much special knowledge that even at a loss to understand how the cathedral builders managed some of their problems. It is almost certain that these Masons were a class apart from the gild Masons, and that, unlike the gild Masons, they had rules and regulations of their own, and were permitted to adhere to the same wherever they might be at work, and whatever might be the ordinances binding on local Masons. It is also almost certain that Freemasonry, as it later on evolved into what we have come to call Speculative Masonry, originated among the cathedral building lodges and not among the gild Masons, though of course there must have been a certain amount of interaction and over-lapping as between the two; our Old Charges, our traditions, legends and our symbolism came down to us from the migratory lodges connected with ecclesiastical structures. It might not be possible to prove this theory to the satisfaction of a court of law, but all the available evidence, direct and indirect indicates as much. The point is of the utmost importance, not alone as regards history, but whenever we undertake to govern our present day Craft activities by the past.
It was a difficult thing properly to govern a lodge of cathedral building Masons, not alone because of its essentially temporary character, but also from its having in hand the most stupendous work possible in the Middle Ages, involving the expenditure of large sums, the importing of workmen from abroad and the handling of masses of costly material. In such an undertaking all manner and types of men were employed, from the general overseer who would be an illustrious artist, down to the rough workmen and errand boys, a cosmopolitan group in which all classes would be represented, priests, bishops, gentlemen, freemen, bondsmen, serfs, necessitating a complex and highly developed system of government. The general control of such an enterprise would sometimes lie entirely in the hands of churchmen, sometimes wholly in lay hands, and often in a mixed group.
LODGE OFFICERS WERE GOVERNING HEADS
In charge of the work would be a general head, variously styled superintendent, overseer, architect, clerk of the works, keeper of the works, keeper of the fabric, director, ingeniator, etc. The presiding officer was called master, warden, deacon, president, as local customs might dictate; the keeper of funds was a box master or treasurer; in addition were other functionaries, such as book keepers, who naturally dropped entirely out of the form of organization when the Craft became speculative, for the officers of the operative lodges were chosen in view of the work to be done, and not as representing degrees or grades of a speculative science. It does not appear that a tiler was employed, though it is certain that some means was used to guard the door of the lodge.
Members of the Craft were governed in accordance with a set of rules and regulations which each Mason was sworn to observe, versions of which are incorporated in the various Old Charges, the oldest, so it is believed, being that in the Cooke MS., dated as middle fifteenth century, and preserved with certain alterations in the constitutions still used by Grand Lodges; these rules were adjusted to the requirements of time and place, it may be supposed, but in general outline were faithfully preserved through many centuries. The "Orders for the Masons and Workmen," found in the Fabric Rolls of York Cathedral, furnish one a fair idea of the hours of work, working conditions, and general rules:
"The first and second Masons, who are called masters of the same, and the carpenters, shall take oath that they cause the ancient customs underwritten to be faithfully observed. In summer they are to begin to work immediately after sunrise until the ringing of the bell of the Virgin Mary; then to breakfast in the fabric lodge (logium fabricae), then one of the masters shall knock upon the door of the lodge, and forthwith all are to return to work until noon. Between April and August, after dinner, they shall sleep in the lodge, then work until the first bell for vespers; then sit to drink till the end of the third bell, and return to work so long as they can see by daylight. In winter they are to begin work at daybreak, and continue as before till noon, dine, and return to work till daylight is over. On Vigils and on Saturdays they are to work until noon."
It appears that from time to time assemblies were held, called also congregations, and in one MS. (the Papworth) associations, in order that all lodges in a given district be kept in due order and under the control of the king's officers. The Old Charges make much of these, though only three assemblies are distinctly mentioned; the Regius refers to one called by King Athelstan and attended by great lords and burgesses; another version tells of an assembly held at Windsor when Edwin was made a Mason; and nearly all of them refer to assemblies at York. "Every master that is a Mason," says the Regius, "must be at the general congregation." It is probable that some of these meetings were called by craft officers, and others by the king's sheriff or other officers, in the latter case to see that the craft was strictly obeying the laws of the realm. The Cooke MS. makes it plain that attendance was obligatory on masters: "That every Master should be notified to come to his congregation, that he may come in due time unless excused for some reason. But those who have been disobedient at such congregations, or been false to their employers, or had acted so as to deserve reproof by the Craft, should be excused only by extreme sickness, of which notice was to be given to the Master that is principal of the assembly." There is no record of any nation-wide assembly, neither is it possible to be sure concerning when and where such meetings were held, or how long the custom continued; the records are so scant, and often so confusing, we cannot make sure of any point except that some manner of assembly was occasionally held. Some idea of the extent of territory covered by the authority of such a general assembly is suggested by the Old Charges, as in the Cooke, Grand Lodge, York, Sloane and others which make it fifty miles; the Harleian, ten miles; and still others, all of later date, five miles. As time went on and the towns and population of England increased, assemblies went altogether out of fashion; it may very well be that the idea of forming a "Grand Lodge" in London, 1717, was suggested to "some old brother" by a reading of the Old Charges; we can at least be certain that the brethren at that time felt justified in taking their radical step by the fact that general assemblies "had been holden in old times."
HOW MANY DEGREES WERE THERE?
The Operative Masonic lodges did not employ degrees at all in our modern sense of the term but recognized grades of workmen and had regulations and, probably, ceremonies in accordance. A youth was made an apprentice when only twelve or fourteen years of age, therefore it is not probable that his admittance to the craft was attended with any very heavy ceremony, but it is certain that he was made to hear the Legend of the Craft, its rules and regulations, and was given an oath. After seven years he was passed to the other grade, and became a Master Mason or Fellow, the two being two terms for the same grade. Authorities are about evenly divided as to whether or not this advancement was attended by any kind of secret ceremony; the fact that apprentices are known to have been present at "the making of a master" would indicate that no such thing occurred; but the other fact of there being such a cleavage between the two grades would suggest that a master received some secrets never imparted to an apprentice. On the continent a workman journeyed about for two years or so after being made a Fellow of the Craft, but this was not the custom in England where, in the fourteenth century, it was expressly prohibited by law. All masters stood on the same level as regards rights, and privileges, but a few masters enjoyed the further honour of being selected to superintend the work, and they therefore stood on a still higher grade as regards position; but even so they possessed no secrets of the trade not held by the fellows. Wages varied from time to time, often being fixed by statute; usually the workmen received gloves, tunics, aprons, and sometimes board or food supplies, apprentices receiving nothing at all or else mere pittances in addition to room and board.
At every fabric many workmen not members of the lodge were necessarily employed, of which we have abundant records; they were known as rough masons, cowans, rough setters, "masons without the word", wallers, plasterers, etc. It was strictly prohibited for any master mason to lay out plans or otherwise employ his trade secrets in the presence of these men, who were looked upon as "profane", or outsiders. Also — this is a fact of importance — it was necessary to give the "freedom of the lodge" to certain men connected with the works who were not trained Masons, a bishop it may be, having the whole work in charge, or a man especially skilled in geometry or other important items of "speculative" Masonry. In Scotland these brethren thus received into the lodge, but not as actual workmen, were known as "geomatic" or "gentlemen" Masons. Some of them were doubtless very learned men, and it is not a wild guess to suppose that a certain amount of the symbolism and esoteric "work" which at last evolved into the magnificent Ritual now employed may in the beginning have been due to the presence of these educated gentry.
When the Craft was transformed into a speculative institution in the eighteenth century the ancient and probably very simple ceremonies employed by the Operative Masons were greatly changed and expanded, in some cases by the addition, one may believe, of materials from sources other than Operative Masonry; the one or two degrees were reorganized and a third was added, sometime after 1720. After this tri-gradal system became permanently established — a thing it was a long time doing, and after encountering opposition — it was adopted in Scotland, Ireland, and on the Continent, thus giving rise to the present world-wide Fraternity. It should be noted just here, and as a fact never to be forgotten by the student, that whereas many countries other than England had a system of Operative Masonry it was in England alone that Speculative Freemasonry developed; all the Speculative Freemasonry now in existence came originally from that one source. Attempts to explain our present day practices by reference to Operative Masonry in Germany, Italy, Spain and France are usually misleading.
Secrecy was as vital to Masonry in these early times as it is now, and for similar reasons except in the matter of trade formulae, the possession of which had the same kind of money value to an Operative Mason that the possession of a patent carries with it now. Without a careful guarding of all that went on in lodge the whole system would have gone to pieces, architecture would have become a lost art, and the world have been vastly the poorer, a thing one could say with equal emphasis of Speculative Freemasonry, which keeps the doors shut to outsiders not because it has aught to be ashamed of, as it is the fashion in some quarters idly to assume, but because without its arcana it would soon cease to be anything more than a mere social club, of which, heaven knows, we already have an abundance. But whereas our secrets are moral and speculative, those held so carefully by our ancestors were of the trade variety, and had to do with methods of building and designing. I have already quoted a passage from the Regius Poem commanding the apprentice to "hele" (conceal) the "counsel of his fellows"; regulations of a similar import occur in all the other Old Charges, as witness this passage from the Harleian: "You shall not disclose your Master or Dame [the Master's wife] theire Counsell or secrets, which they have imputed to you, or what is to be concealed, spoken, or done, within the precincts of their house." This passage shows that Operative Masonic secrecy had its moral as well as its professional side. So is it amongst us; Speculative Freemasonry teaches that secrecy is a virtue to be practiced everywhere and always, and not merely a device for keeping outsiders in the dark as to lodge affairs, a wise admonition in a world so filled with people where the confidence that one reposes in his fellow needs to be kept in sacred trust.
FREEMASONS DIFFERED FROM OTHERS
The craft of the Freemasons differed in one all-important regard from that of almost every other gild, namely, that the work of their predecessors remained visibly in their midst. A tailor, a carpenter, a tinner could care little about the history of his craft, its traditions, or its ideals; why should he, for his work quickly perished and could leave behind it no enduring remains. With the cathedral builders it was otherwise. They were familiar with the work their fathers had done, loved and revered it, and found in it an open book of lessons, a well of inspiration, a house of doctrine. Accordingly, it was a matter of great moment to them to preserve the traditions of the past, its light and its lore, because they were themselves engaged upon fabrics that would last from generation to generation, and transmitters of an art as enduring as the stones wrought into buttress and wall. This one fact alone, it seems to me, ignoring all others, would almost make inevitable the development of a system of symbolism. Men who built churches had to think and practice religion, had to familiarize themselves with philosophy and know something of art, and all of these interests in that day of no printing presses and general illiteracy could be expressed in no other way than symbolical. Symbolism was the popular language, so that the sculptures on the facade of a cathedral were a book for the folk, a history of the world, a Bible to the eye. In such an age it would have been strange indeed if the artists who spoke to the people through symbols had not employed the same means of teaching their own apprentices and of preserving their own secrets. One needs only look at the photograph of the front of a cathedral to see that the men who made it were symbolically minded not to conceal their ideas but to express them; and that the mightiest thinkers of the period left behind them in symbols some of the richest and rarest ideas ever known, and often not to be otherwhere found. To interpret their symbols is not an antiquarian's game, like the piecing together of an old puzzle, but a legitimate work of the mind, endeavouring to translate into our own language and thought forms the truths learned by the Freemasons and taught by them in the one manner they knew; it is like the translating of a wise and ancient book from a dead language into a living.
It was the Reformation that gave to Operative Masonry its death blow. Henry VIII, after dissolving the abbeys and monasteries, was seconded by Edward VI, who swept away the last vestiges of brotherhoods, fraternities and religious associations other than the church, both kings pocketing the money in the name of the privy purse. The monasteries had been the principal employers of the Operative Freemasons, and with the coming of an age of puritanism in thought, morals and art the cathedral building period came to a sad but not inglorious end. The rank and file of Operative Masons dropped out and completely lost interest in the Craft; only the more intelligent among the lighter grades of workmen continued to cherish the ancient traditions, to read the Old MSS., and to pore over the time-hallowed symbols. By the seventeenth century lodges began to become definitely speculative, or at least non-operative; and by the first quarter of the following century the whole system was reorganized from top to bottom, Operative Masonry passed away, except in isolated instances, and Speculative Masonry came in. But after all, and in the sequel, the world has been the gainer. Many of us are Masons who never held a trowel, continuing the hoary customs and keeping alive the ancient fire, not because we are superstitiously reverent of the past, but because in our inheritance from the Operative Masons we have a treasure of unsearchable riches by which one is enabled to become in his secret soul an unprofaned temple wherein a light dwells brought bona out the past by which we are helped to guide our feet along the twisted paths of life toward the high calling of a man, which is uprightness, honour and brotherliness.
BOOKS CONSULTED IN PREPARING THIS ARTICLE
A.Q.C., Antigrapha; Brewster, History of Freemasonry; Robert I. Clegg, Mackey's Revised History of Freemasonry; Edw. Conder, Records of the Hole Crafte and Fellowship of Masons; Dallaway, Master and Freemason; Findel, History of Freemasonry; Fort, Early History and Antiquities of Freemasonry; Fr. Funck-Brentano, The Middle Ages; R. F. Gould, Collected Essays on Freemasonry; R. F. Gould, Concise History of Freemasonry; R. F. Gould, The Four Old Lodges; R.F. Gould, History of Freemasonry; William Herbert, History of the Twelve Great Livery Companies; W. J. Hughan, Old Charges of the British Freemasons; W. J. Hughan, Origin of the English Rite of Freemasonry; Lethaby, Medieval Art; Lethaby, Westminster Abbey and the King's Craftsmen; Murray D. Lyon, History of the Lodge of Edinburgh; Meredith, Economic History of England; J. F. Newton, The Builders; Frederick A. Paley, Manual of Gothic Architecture; Pierson, Traditions, Origin, and Early History of Freemasonry; Robert Plot, The Natural History of Staffordshire; A. K. Porter, Medieval Architecture; Wm. Preston, Illustrations of Masonry; Toulmin Smith, English Guilds; F. J. Snell, The Customs of Old England; Lionel Vibert, Freemasonry Before the Existence of Grand Lodges; Lionel Vibert, Story of the Craft; Paul Vinogradoff, English Society in the Eleventh Century; A. E. Waite, New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry; J. S. M. Ward, Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods; E. M. Wilmot-Buxton, A Social History of England: Robert Wylie, History of the Mother Lodge Kilwinning.
THE OPERATIVE MASONS
Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (Revised Edition). Anderson. 57-58; Apprentice, 70-71; Architect, 75; Architecture, 75; Athelstan, 85; Builder, 123; Church, 151; Comacine Masters, 161-167; Company of Masons, 472; Congregations, 174; Corporations of Builders, 123; Cowan, 183-184; Craft, 184; Craftsman, 184; Deacon, 197-198; Fellow, 261; Fellow Craft, 261-262; Gentleman Mason, 294; Geomatic, 295; Gloves, 299-300; Grand Lodges, 306-307; Hale, 313; Halliwell Manuscript, 616; Harleian, 317; Hutchinson, 342-343; Lodge, 449-451; Master, 473-476; Master of the Work, 476; Master Mason, 474-475; Middle Ages, 483; Oliver, 527-529; Old Masonic Manuscripts, 464-467; Operative Art, 532; Operative Masonry, 532; Overseer, 540; Preston, 579-582; Regius Manuscript, 616; Revival, 622-623; Ritual, 627; Sloane, 694-695; Stone-Masons of the Middle Ages, 718-722; Symbol, 751-755; Tiler. 786: Tyler, 811; Wages, 834; Warden, 835-836; York, 867-871.
* * *
HOW TO ORGANIZE A STUDY CLUB
A pamphlet on "How to Organize and Maintain a Study Club" will be furnished free to those asking for it in any quantities up to fifty or one hundred. For further information address the National Masonic Research Society, 1950 Railway Exchange, St. Louis, Mo. The Society answers questions, lends books, clippings, etc., free of charge to clubs. Text books recommended are "Symbolical Masonry" and "Great Teachings of Masonry," both by H. L. Haywood, the former of which should be used in beginning.
* * *
"If we work upon marble, it will perish; if we work upon brass, time will efface it; if we rear temples, they will crumble into dust; but if we work upon immortal minds, if we imbue them with principles, with the just fear of God and love of our fellow — men, we engrave on those tablets something which will brighten to all eternity."
— Daniel Webster
* * *
FREEMASONRY'S WORK IN THE WORLD AS SEEN FROM THE THRESHOLD OF 1923
The year 1923 came and went through a disorganized world in which millions needed bread while other millions spent days plotting how to kill their fellow men in the greatest possible numbers; but for all that, and in spite of many other things well nigh as bad the Masonic Fraternity moved forward, with peace as its mission and brotherhood as its method, to convince the world what folly it is for the human race to make war upon itself. Has the fact come home to you with sufficient force'' While the heathen raged and nations whispered new plots among themselves, Freemasonry wavered not once. It has changed neither its course nor its aim, and does not intend to, let come what may. Its purpose is as benign as the will of God, and almost as certain, for it is God's purpose surely that we all us in this mighty world should learn richly to enjoy life and to live in amity one with another. The stars in their courses are fighting to that end, and men will sooner or later learn to keep step with the stars. The issue is inevitable and he is afflicted with a strange unwisdom who supposes otherwise.
Governments perished in the Great War, and others, nearly all of them, have been obliged, or will be obliged, to readjust themselves to new conditions; so with churches, and so with nearly all institutions, but not so with our Craft. It was an English post — bellum statesman that declared Freemasonry to be "the despair of ecclesiastics and the wonder of politicians," who can't fathom the mystery of its hold upon men, or the genius of an organization that could pass through such a furnace with so little loss and so few things to regret.
These sentences are not glittering generalities or idle dithyrambs but reports of fact easily patent to any one who will study the Proceedings for 1923 of all Grand Bodies, here or abroad. Our purposes, ideals or principles have nowhere been called in question; nobody has sounded retreat; nor has there been enough pessimism expressed to warrant notice. The Craft has moved ahead on its own path, breaking down the dead branches, making way for brotherhood.
Masonic education stood at the focus of all American activities during 1923; it is become the most living thing inside the whole institution. Masonic education is not a luxury for a few learned pundits interested in Masonic archeology but a statesmanlike effort to make every brother more clearly aware of the meaning and mission of Masonry, and to enable every official in lodges, chapters, commanderies and consistories to become capable of carrying on his duties intelligently. Such an effort is practical in the strictest sense of the word, and destined sooner or later to multiply the power of Freemasonry many times over.
Along with this there has been evident an unwonted concern for the future of the boys who, some of these days, will be petitioning for membership. The De Molay and the Order of Builders for Boys have both had Grand Lodge sanction in many parts of the land, or otherwise received serious attention. It appears that sooner or later the Masonic lewis, the son of a Mason, will have his own recognized status and place in the machinery of organization.
The growing influence of Masonry entices many movements outside the pale to seek to make use of it for their own ends. Some of these non — Masonic organizations have been pretty widely discussed, and almost everywhere it has been made plain by official utterance that Freemasonry does not intend to repeat the errors of 1826 by getting itself snarled up with religious, political, or race propaganda that have no place in Masonry's program.
ANCIENT CRAFT MASONRY HOLDS PRIORITY
One of the knottiest problems before Grand Lodges has been the relationship of Higher Degrees and Side Orders to the structure of Symbolic Masonry. The priority of Ancient Craft Masonry has been everywhere pretty definitely upheld, but with a significant lack of bitterness. In only a few instances has there been shown an unbrotherly and impatient spirit in dealing with this situation. Sooner or later a way will be found to satisfy the social instincts without infringing upon the proper work of the lodge. As for the Higher Grades they make the claim for themselves that they exist to expand, exemplify, and enforce more fully the teachings of the Blue Lodge, and that in the work of the first three degrees is laid down the grand trestle board of Freemasonry, to depart from which would be an innovation too disastrous to be thought of. If this position is adhered to questions of detail and of harmonious adjustment of the mechanisms of organization will be taken care of as time goes on.
Masonic jurisprudence continues to remain in an unsatisfactory state of affairs, not in principle alone but in practice. We need badly a few authentic manuals of practical jurisprudence brought down to date by the best jurisconsults in the Craft, a fact that need cause nobody to suppose that the older texts already generally in use are to be any the less valued. The rules of procedure satisfactory to the conditions of 1900 are not adequate to meet the new complexities of 1923. There are some of us who pray that Bro. Melvin Johnson will be inspired to finish the work he already has under way in this field; he is capable of giving us a manual of authoritative and practicable value. May T.S.G.A.O.T.U. continue to strengthen his hands to that end!
An example of the need of such a manual is shown in the debate over physical qualifications which occupied so much time in Grand Lodge sessions during 1923. That question is not yet settled and can't be until there is a more general agreement on first principles. One distinguished brother held that the Craft is still bound to the constitutions of 1390, another that we need pay no attention to the ancient rules; both were wrong but it would take a Nestor of wisdom to show what is right. All such attempts to smooth our relations with our own past bring clearly to the front how necessary it is that we thoroughly understand that past and what there is in it binding upon today. The history of Masonry is a live issue whenever the question of physical qualifications comes up for debate.
The purpose of Freemasonry is as direct as sunlight and as easy to see. It is to help build the whole race of man into one world-wide brotherhood through the instrumentality of a fraternity of picked men placed under such favorable conditions as will best teach and inspire them concerning that grand aim. By the simple devices of ritual and of symbolism, of private dedication and collective enterprise, these men are prepared to be apostles abroad of the lessons learned in lodge, and they are shown that if each one will be a sincere and well trained workman in building his own manhood he will thereby become fitted to co-operate with all his fellows who together labor at the temple of the universal brotherhood.
BROTHERHOOD IS AS RICH AS LIFE IS
The gospel of brotherhood is as complex as the life of the world, as rich as the experiences of the race, but for all that there are in it a few shining principles which to know and to practice make plain all the rest. It is upon these that Freemasonry places its emphasis. There must first of all be truth in the whole man, inward and outward; lying, deception and hypocrisy are disastrous to brotherhood because in their very nature they disrupt the bonds that bind man to man. "Let there be light!" If there is not, darkness will lie in the heart, and on the streets, as well as upon the mind. Next after that comes toleration, which is a recognition of the fact that until now no man has captured the whole of truth, and that the search for truth is a task requiring the co-operation of all good men; therefore each must be left unfettered to work out his own contribution, so that toleration is a free collective action in the pursuit of truth, rather than the mush of concession, the fog of indifference that it is usually falsely supposed to be.
For this it is necessary that liberty be secured. No man can contribute his thoughts if he be not permitted to think; or his deeds if he be not permitted to act; or his worship if he be not given liberty of religion; the slave has nothing to give, not even himself. To make knowledge, truth, and good will prevail it is necessary that they be developed into the uses of fraternity, which is a consciously organized group of men devoted to a common purpose, and which issues in the practices of charity, mutual aid, and sociability. The solid ground under all this is the religion in which all good men agree, a free faith in the God of All, a firm belief that life is worth the living, and that the issues of existence run toward heights beyond our knowing. If we men are clods merely, or accidental off-scourings of a blind physical process, or trained animals, or ghosts walking in dreams, then nothing is worth while, brotherhood or anything else. It is this essential faith that holds the world together and furnishes their vitality to all the creeds and churches; it is this that underlies Freemasonry with all its works and hopes.
All this is Freemasonry's work in the world, which, though it is as wide as the life of man and as deep as his most desperate needs, does not lose sight of the individual in the fog of vast general purposes. The fear expressed with some frequency that the attempt to awaken in the Craft a consciousness of its world mission will transform it into a kind of wholesale movement and break its ancient contacts with the private craftsman is groundless if only our leaders work with wisdom in organizing our activities; the best kind of social effort is that which comes quickest home to the individual.
There is something in Freemasonry that quickens in a man like an ancient enthusiasm; something that draws him away from the hearth of a winter night to attend his lodge, something that sets him to dreaming dreams, that sends him forth to new crusades. What it is no man can tell. It is the secret that is holden from Masons themselves, a Divine Word hidden away in their hearts. But it is there and it is ever at work. To become its servant, to yield one's life to it, to let it rule in one's soul, that it is to be a Mason. Never in all the long reach of time has the world been more sadly in need of such a life. The very heartbreak and misery of these bloody days is a call to every Mason to stand true to the faith that is in him.
THE MASONIC SERVICE ASSOCIATION
The Masonic Service Association of the United States issues this month the first number of its new journal "The Master Mason," to be edited by Bro. Joseph Fort Newton, which fact in itself means that "The Master Mason" will at once take its place among the best Masonic periodicals in the world. THE BUILDER extends a hearty New Year's greeting to its new colleague, and wishes for it God speed and all manner of prosperity.
The Association was organized as the result of a Conference of Grand Masters held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Nov. 26, 1918, to serve as a general clearing house for inter-Grand Lodge activities so that in event of such another calamity as the World War the forty-nine Grand Lodges of the country would not find themselves rendered ineffective by a tangle of cross purposes or have their efforts wasted by over-lapping or duplication. At the same time it is carrying on a general Masonic educational program that is a statesmanlike enterprise so organized as to bring home to each lodge and individual the meaning and mission of Masonry.
According to one of its recent bulletins there are now some thirty-three Grand Lodges in its membership, named as follows: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Philippine Islands, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.
The advent of "The Master Mason" is one more harbinger of a new springtime in American Masonic literature. Time was when Masonic periodicals had to struggle for the mere right to exist, so paralyzing was the general apathy, so wide-spread the feeling that in some mysterious way a public discussion of Masonry might expose its secrets, as if secrets that could be exposed would be worth having! But times have changed. So many Masonic journals have come into existence during the past few years, and these have exhibited such a variety of excellences, that by now the Craft is being magnificently served by its magazines. May the good work never cease! There cannot be too many light-houses in our midst, not as long as there is so much darkness in the world.
* * *
THE CORNERSTONE OF THE NATIONAL CAPITOL
The cornerstone of the National Capitol was laid by George Washington and a great company of Masons Sept. 18, 1793. Washington wore the apron and the regalia of a Past Master; the apron had been made for him by Marquise de Lafayette, the wife of Bro. General Lafayette, as was also the sash he wore. A silver plate was laid on the stone, bearing the following inscription:
"This Southeast cornerstone of the Capitol of the United States of America, in the city of Washington, was laid on the 18th day of September, 1793, in the thirteenth year of the American Independence, in the first year of the second term of the presidency of George Washington, whose virtues in the civil administration of his country have been as conspicuous and beneficial, as his military valor and prudence have been useful in establishing her liberties; in the year of Masonry 5793, by the President of the United States, in concert with the Grand Lodge of Maryland, several lodges under its jurisdiction, and Lodge No. 22 from Alexandria, Virginia.
"Thomas Johnson, David Stuart and Daniel Carroll, Commissioners; Joseph Clarke, R.W.G.M. Pro. Tem.; James Hoban and Stephen Hallate, Architects, and Collin Williamson, Master Mason."
* * *
JAMES ANDERSON AND HIS BOOK OF CONSTITUTIONS
THE CONSTITUTIONS OF THE FREEMASONS CONTAINING THE HISTORY, CHARGES, REGULATIONS &. OF THAT MOST ANCIENT AND RIGHT WORSHIPFUL FRATERNITY, 1723, AN ABSOLUTE FACSIMILE REPRINT OF THE RARE FIRST EDITION, with a historical and analytical Introduction by Lionel Vibert, P.M., Quatuor Coronati Lodge, author of "Freemasonry Before the Existence of Grand Lodges," "Story of the Craft," etc. Published by Bernard Quaritch, Ltd., 11 Grafton street, New Bond St., London, W.1., England. May be purchased through the Book Department of the National Masonic Research Society. Price 1 pound, 1s, net. Limited edition.
THE basis of jurisprudence as practiced by every American Grand Lodge is the Book of Constitutions, and that book is based, in the last analysis, on the original Book of Constitutions prepared by Dr. James Anderson and published by him in 1723. Accordingly Anderson and his book together comprise a subject on which it is necessary that every intelligent active Mason be correctly informed, all the more so in that there is abroad, even among Grand Lodge officials oftentimes, a woeful amount of misunderstanding on that theme. It is therefore a matter of general importance to everyone that at last we have assembled into one volume all that is thus far known about Anderson himself along with a photographic facsimile of his book, all produced with an apparatus of critical notes so complete as to render previous editions more or less obsolete.
The book itself is a work of art, as are so many of the titles printed by Quaritch. It is nine by eleven and three quarter inches in size, and runs to about 150 pages all told. As a volume to signalize the bicentenary of the famous Anderson book it could not be improved upon. Its editor, Bro. Lionel Vibert, a P. M. of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Research, London, England, needs no word of introduction to readers of this journal all of whom will recall his essay on Anderson's Constitutions published in the August issue of 1923, and most of whom will have seen his two books, Freemasonry Before the Existence of Grand Lodges, and the Story of the Craft. He is editor of Miscellanea Latomornm, and author of a number of important treatises, one of the most notable being a study of the French Compagnonage which will be published, so it is hoped, in a future number of THE BUILDER. The Foreword is signed by E. H. D. — Bro. E. H. Dring, one may suppose. Of efforts at reproducing Anderson E. H. D. says:
"Since Benjamin Franklin reprinted the book at Philadelphia in 1734 it has been reprinted many times, some of the modern editions purporting to be facsimile reprints. Inasmuch as these editions were all printed from type and no attempt made to reproduce the text 'line by line', even the most aspiring of these facsimiles only succeeded in printing a good readable text. The last attempt that was made was the edition issued at Wiesbaden in 1900, and this illustrates well the errors to which all typographical reprints are liable. On page 74, line 9, in the original there occurs the name 'Timson' which has been misread and printed in the reprint as 'Limson'. The basis of the present facsimile is photography and it is as perfect as present methods are capable of executing. It is extremely fortunate that Lionel Vibert, a Past Master of the Lodge of the Quatuor Coronati has been induced to write the Introduction. He has made a special study of Dr. James Anderson and his works and whether he has been successful in throwing new light on the subject must be left to the reader."
Bro. Vibert's Introduction is a volume in itself. The first of its two portions is a sketch of Dr. Anderson's life insofar as the meagreness of knowledge makes that possible, along with an account of his Masonic career. The second portion is an elaborate analysis of the Constitutions based immediately upon the facsimile itself, and covers, for all its pithiness, a very large amount of ground. In the earlier part of that analysis is some explanation about Old Charges in general and a valuable explanation of uses of the word "constitutions" in Freemasonry. The analysis proper covers every feature of Anderson's book, frontispiece coat of arms, meaning of words, the various Charges, the Regulations, the Approbation, the songs, the list of Grand Masters (one of the most astonishing things ever produced by a Mason), the tri-gradal system of degrees, etc., and in addition thereto a contrast between the editions of 1723 and of 1738, notes on the publishers Senex and Hooke, etc.
Anderson's Constitutions of the Freemasons was originally a private venture which gained Grand Lodge sanction by a kind of accident, and it came into general use by a slow evolution. In its own time it almost escaped notice, at least by the general Masonic public. Yet, after a time it came to be to the Craft in general what the Old Charges were to lodges in the Operative period, and continues so to be in spite of the fact that since R. F. Gould, Anderson's work and Masonic record have been scrutinized with merciless severity, one of the results being that his attempt at writing a Masonic history has been discounted almost to the vanishing point.
"Yet it would be difficult," writes Bro. Vibert, "to estimate its influence on the history of the Craft. Notwithstanding the way in which Grand Lodge received the work after its publication, it took its place as the official manual, so that the feet that it was not official but essentially a private affair was entirely lost sight of. It was taken by the Grand Lodge of Ireland as the model for their Book of Constitutions in 1730. It was reprinted verbatim for use in America by Franklin in 1734. It was pirated in London and later in Dublin by Smith in 1735. And its author's reputation was great enough to carry off the History he wrote for his second edition of 1738, and led the Craft for a century and a half to accept it and reprint it as a serious contribution to the subject. Today we value the Doctor's labours less highly, but the Constitutions of 1723 is nevertheless one of the most important records of the Craft.
"Dr. Begemann undertook a detailed analysis of the text in the second volume of his Freimaurerei in England, being, I believe, the first to essay the task. My own paper on similar lines will be found in the Transactions of the Lodge of the Quatuor Coronati for 1923, vii. xxxvi, and it is mainly from the material there collected that this present introduction has been put together." (Page lii.)
* * *
AMMUNITION FOR SPEECH-MAKERS
TOASTS AND ANECDOTES, by Paul W. Kearney. Published by Edward J. Clode, New York; may be purchased through National Masonic Research Book Department. Blue cloth; 299 pages; $1.00 net.
THERE is no earthly excuse for a man boggling a speech in lodge, not when there are so many helps available for budding orators. Here for instance is this Toasts and Anecdotes. It was not designed for the man who knows how, but for the fellow that doesn't, and it fills the bill for its purpose. Like Caesar's Gaul it is divided into three parts, the first of which is filled up with toasts for various occasions, most of which run somewhat after this manner: "To our ancestors. We forgive them and trust that they forgive us." Or this: "A health to our widows. If they ever marry again may they do as well."
The second part is made up of a miscellany of verse and prose quotations from famous authors for use on appropriate occasions. Here is one chosen at random that might serve to give point to a Masonic talk: "Many men build as cathedrals were built, the part nearest the ground finished; but that part which soars toward heaven, the turrets and the spires, for ever incomplete." This is credited to Henry Ward Beecher. There are scores more of such character, each chosen for its fitness in speech-making.
An excellent collection of historical anecdotes fills up section three, the best in the book. Two specimens will suffice:
"John Marshall, pleading a case before the bar, was once fined thirty dollars for contempt of court because of a slighting remark made about the presiding judge.
"With a profuse apology and a low bow Marshall said: 'Your Honor, I have the greatest respect for this court and the judge who presides over it. I intend to carry out every wish of this court, sir, and I will therefore pay this fine immediately.
"'As it happens, however, I have not the full amount of thirty dollars with me at the moment, and since no one in this court room knows me better than yourself, Your Honor, I must ask you to lend me that amount so that I may pay off this assessment at once.'
"The judge cleared his throat and then recovered his wit. Turning to the clerk he said in his sternest voice: 'Clerk, remit that fine. The United States Government can better afford to lose thirty dollars than I!'"
* * *
"One day President Lincoln was driving in a carriage with a typical Southern gentleman when they passed an old colored man who bowed low and doffed his ragged hat. Lincoln smiled in acknowledgment of the greeting and tipped his own hat in return. 'Why,' asked his companion, 'should you tip your hat to a nigger?' 'Because,' answered Lincoln quietly, 'I prefer not to be outdone in courtesy by anyone.'"
* * *
THE BOUND VOLUME OF THE BUILDER FOR 1923
ACCORDING to its usual custom the National Masonic Research Society has issued a bound volume of THE BUILDER for the past year. For the benefit of newcomers in our family it may be said that in this volume are included all twelve issues of the year without covers and bound up, with a complete descriptive index, in substantial manner. Brethren who make a point of securing each volume as it appears in order to keep their set complete are urged to order at once that they may not be disappointed by finding the supply exhausted. The supply of bound volumes for 1918 is so nearly gone that copies are now sold with complete sets only; owing to an unprecedented demand for it the volume for 1923 will soon be as scarce. Each bound volume retails for $3.75. The binding is goldenrod buckram.
* * *
THE ENGLISH RITUAL
THE MASONIC RITUAL, Described, Compared and Explained, by J. Walter Hobbs, London — The Masonic Record, Ltd. 80 pages. Cloth.
THIS little book, though written by one of our English brothers and dealing entirely with the English ritual, may well be read with pleasure and profit by American Masons. Its author expressly disclaims any attempt to present an exhaustive narration of the history and development of the ritual, yet he is convinced from long experience as Preceptor of several Lodges of Instruction that "there is a great need for enlightenment on the subject of the ritual," a sentiment to which we surely subscribe.
In an interesting manner, Brother Hobbs takes up the purpose of the ritual, its growth and development in England, comparisons of current "workings," methods of instruction and uniformity. The limit of space he imposes on himself renders his account of the growth and development of the English ritual too sketchy to be of much value. Unlike the majority of American Grand Lodges, the Grand Lodge of England has never adopted or recognized any standard ritual. The author tells us the chief "workings" are Emulation, Stability, Westend, Oxford, Logic, West London, North London and Metropolitan. No doubt there are others, especially outside of London. He then devotes three chapters to a comparison of verbal differences among the first five of these. He makes no attempt to trace them back to show when or why these differences arose. In many instances he would find they had their genesis prior to the Union of 1813.
Brother Hobbs is at his best in writing on the "Object and Function" of the ritual. This chapter alone would commend the book. One paragraph especially is worth quoting here, for it sets forth what is, in our humble opinion, the true intent and purpose of Freemasonry:
"I am aware that the foregoing to some extent limits the purpose of Masonry to a right attitude of Man to Man, that is, to recover a lost Brotherhood. Such I believe it to be, but there are those who take the purpose to be a quest or search for that which was lost, and remains to be found, the knowledge of and union with the Deity. It may be so, I know not, but this I believe, that the task of every true man is to love his neighbor as himself, and the teaching of this by ritual, and the constant practice of that principle of Brotherhood will, of necessity, bring us nearer to the source of all Life and Light."
We need an adequate literature which will bring us to know and understand our ritual and which will enable us to see something more in it than an elaborated Robert's "Rules of Order." Towards that end this little book is a most acceptable contribution.
— A. L. Kress
* * *
THE QUESTION BOX
THE PRENTICE PILLAR
Please tell me what was the legend of "the Prentice pillar."
In all probability your question refers to the legend that has grown up about the pillar that stands in the south end of Roslyn Castle, Scotland. It is a fluted shaft, base and capital richly ornamented, with a garland twined about it. According to one version of the legend the plans, which had been sent from Rome, did not make clear the details of its construction; another version has it that a portion of the plans had become lost; in either event the Master Builder had to go to Rome. During his absence a skilful young apprentice carved out the pillar and had it in readiness for its place upon the return of the Master, who, seeing before him such a masterpiece, was so filled with jealousy that he killed the youth with a blow on the forehead from a setting maul. The boy was the son of a widow. The relevancy of this to a study of the legend of Hiram Abif is immediately apparent. This is but one of a large number of legends of human martyrdom or sacrifice in connection with great buildings, a subject dealt with in masterly style by George William Speth in his Builders' Rites, a book somewhat hard to obtain but well worth the trouble.
* * *
MISSOURI "BLUE LODGES" AND SLAVERY
In reading James Ford Rhodes' History of the United States From the Compromise to 1850 I came across this statement, which has aroused my curiosity: "In October 1854 Blue Lodges were formed in Missouri. These were secret societies, with the methods and paraphernalia of an organization, whose members were bound together by secret oaths. Their purpose was to extend slavery into Kansas. Popular sovereignty meant to them the right of Missourians to vote at the territorial elections in furtherance of the design which had given rise to the Blue Lodges." I would appreciate very much if you could tell me if these Blue Lodges had their origin, or derived their name, from the Masonic Fraternity.
W.B.B., New York.
Your inquiry, Bro. Bragdon, was referred to Mr. Rhodes himself, and to Bro. Albert K. Wilson, Grand Secretary, Kansas. The former replied in this wise:
I fear that I cannot answer your question. It is over thirty years ago when I penned the words which you cite and when I had all the material of the subject before me. It is impossible for me to recover the same even if I were in my own library and knew where to make a search for it. But away from my library the task is hopeless. On a general proposition however I should say that the Blue Lodges of Missouri were in no way connected with the Masonic Fraternity. You know in 1854 there were abolitionists at the North who were Masons and a distinctly pro-slavery organization would have aroused objections on their part.
James Ford Rhodes.
Bro. Wilson's letter may also be given in full:
I note your quotation from James F. Rhodes' History of the United States From the Compromise to 1850 and in reply will say that there is either a glaring error in the statement that in October 1854 Blue Lodges were formed in Missouri, or you have made a mistake in copying the excerpt.
The facts are that the Grand Lodge of Missouri issued letters of dispensation and subsequently charters in 1854 for the establishment of our first three lodges in Kansas, and in 1855 two others. If, however, your quotation is correct, then I can give you no light on the subject as it deals exclusively with Missouri. If such a society was ever organized in that state I do not believe it entered into the early history of eastern Kansas, or at least there is no record of that kind concerning our state. So far as Kansas is concerned, I can say there were no spurious lodges organized in our territory and if any were created it was in some other jurisdiction.
Albert K. Wilson, G.S., Kansas.
The question therefore remains on the table. Can any reader throw further light on it? If so, let us have a word from you.
* * *
AUTHENTIC BOOKS ON FOLKLORE, ANTHROPOLOGY, ETC.
I want a list of books to read on savage customs, religions, and ceremonies. I think we can learn much about Freemasonry's symbols and ritual in that field.
W.J.H., New Jersey.
Bro. Arthur C. Parker, Associate Editor, is an expert in that field; he recommends the following: Frazer, J. G., The Golden Bough, a Study in Myth, Magic and Religion (10 vols). Tylor, Edward B., Primitive Culture (2 vols.), John Murray, London. Gray, L. H., Editor, Mythology of All Races (13 vols.), Marshall Jones, 1916. Murray, Alex S., Manual of Mythology, Scribner. Encyclopaedia of Superstitions and Occult Sciences, J. H. Yewdall & Sons, Chicago and Milwaukee, 1903. Lang, Andrew, Myth, Ritual and Religion, Longmans, Green; Customs and Myth; Secret of the Totem. Muller, F. Max, Collected Works of F. Max Muller, about 30 vols., Longmans, Green. Sumner, Folkways. Osborn, H. F., Men of the Old Stone Age, Scribner, 1918. Beddoe, John, Anthropological History of Europe, Paisley: Alex Gardner, 1912. E. W. Hopkins, Origin and Evolution of Religion, Yale University Press, 1923. Duckworth, W. L. H., Morphology and Anthropology, Cambridge University Press.
Magazines: Journal of American Folklore, F. Boas, Editor, American Museum of Natural History, New York. The American Anthropologist, care American Museum of Natural History, New York. Folklore, British Folklore Society, London.
* * *
WAS DANIEL HUNT THE FIRST KNIGHT TEMPLAR?
One of our brethren here is descended from Captain Daniel Hunt, who commanded the ship Louisa in the U. S. Navy about 1814-1816. The ship was registered at Portland, Maine. Now it is alleged that Daniel Hunt was one of the very first, and perchance the first, Knight Templar in America. I have only the family tradition at present for this, but the elderly brother who asked me to look into the matter claims that it is true, and I wonder if you can assist me in digging up the facts. The above is all the definite information I have to work on, as I do not know to what Blue Lodge Daniel Hunt belonged. Probably it was an English lodge, or it may have been a colonial lodge. If you can help me in any manner I shall appreciate it very highly.
J. Edwin Walker,
Editor, Georgia Lodge Tidings,
P. O. Box 410, Atlanta, Ga.
* * *
LODGES NOT INVOLVED IN OKLAHOMA TROUBLES
In order to reply to a number of inquirers a letter was addressed to Bro. Wm. M. Anderson, Grand Secretary, Oklahoma, to ask if the Masonic lodges in that state had been in any way involved in the troubles that circled about former Governor Walton. His response is here given in full:
"Responding to your request of some days ago I am very glad to be able to state that the Masonic lodges in the state of Oklahoma have not been connected with the various troubles that have circled about Governor Walton."
Wm. M. Anderson, Grand Secretary, Guthrie, Okla.
* * *
INFORMATION WANTED CONCERNING CHART
Herewith I enclose you a photo taken from a print of an ancient chart which came into my possession some time ago. I should be pleased if any of our eminent research brethren can supply me with a descriptive reading of the same or any other information. The footnote reads as follows:
"The original was brought from Jerusalem; now in the possession of Bro. Colonel Wilkins, Philadelphia. Entered under act Congress for the proprietor by Bro. W.H. Holbrook, New York."
I would be extremely obliged if you could supply the following particulars, viz.:
- A descriptive reading of the chart.
- If I could possibly ascertain the address of Bro. Col. Wilkins.
- If it is possible to ascertain the year these prints were made in New York and the number of copies made by Bro. W. H. Holbrook and also his address.
Thanking you in anticipation for any information that you can give me in this matter.
John Edward Milligan,
60 Lime street,
* * *
LINCOLN, FARRAGUT, GRANT, BURR
In the September number Brother Rose of New Jersey comments on "Great Men Who Were Not Masons." He is correct in stating that Lincoln was not a Mason; the Grand Master of Illinois at the time of the Lincoln funeral so stated, although the Grand Treasurer's report shows that the Grand Lodge had incurred expense on account of the funeral, supposedly for floral offerings. The Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Illinois for 1865 will serve as reference.
As to Admiral Farragut. Grand Master Holbrook of New Hampshire, May 17, 1871, announced the death of this naval hero. The particulars as to which lodge held his membership is not stated. (Reference: Page LXII, Correspondence, Grand Lodge, Illinois, 1872.)
Brother Rose might be interested to know that in 1859 Captain U.S. Grant petitioned Occidental Lodge, No. 163, of St. Louis, Missouri; he was elected, but never presented himself for initiation. (Page 152, Appendix Part I, Proceedings Grand Lodge, Illinois, 1909.)
It would appear that Aaron Burr was also a Mason. The records show that he visited the Western Star Lodge, No. 107, on the register of Pennsylvania, and located at Kaskaskia, Illinois, the date of the visit being April 4, 1812. (Page 32, John C. Reynolds' "History of the M. W. Grand Lodge of Illinois.")
G. A. Crayton, Illinois.
* * *
THE AMERICAN LODGE IN LONDON
In 1909 the following foreign lodges were working in London: The Pilger Lodge, No. 238, employing the German language, came under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of England in 1779; La France Lodge, No. 2060, working in the French language, was consecrated in 1884; Loggia Italia, No. 2687, using Italian, was consecrated in 1897; L'Entente Cordiale Lodge, No. 2796, also working in the French language, was consecrated in 1899; the Deutschland Lodge, No. 3315, was consecrated in 1908.
Inasmuch as these foreign lodges were all prospering and doing good work it occurred to a few of us here that there were a sufficient number of American Masons in London to warrant our founding an American lodge. As a result America Lodge, No. 3368, with twenty-one founders, all of them belonging to English lodges meeting in London, was consecrated on June 3, 1909. We did not expect a large membership, but felt that even so there was room for us and that we should be able to draw the American brethren together and probably find many good initiates. The World War, of course, prevented us from growing very rapidly during those awful years, nevertheless we met regularly, did our work, and initiated a few new members. Since 1918 we have had many additions to our roll, one of the most notable among whom being one of our American Vice-Consuls in London. Today we have an active membership of fifty-seven. The Rt. Hon. Lord Ampthill officiated as W. M. of our consecrating officers. Our consecrating officers are honorary members as well, and the list of which also includes the names of former President W. H. Taft; Hon. William B. Relish, P.G.M. of Ohio; Hon. John W. Davis, late Ambassador to the Court of St. James; Hon. Leonidas P. Newby, Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templars, and also the names of the late Presidents Roosevelt and Harding.
During the war we received a large number of American brethren as visitors from almost every jurisdiction in the United States, and we now have the privilege of welcoming to every one of our meetings American brethren of prominence. This enables us to keep in close touch with our brethren at home and we hope that all American brethren will visit us when in London. As far as our funds have permitted we have contributed to the English Masonic charities. During the war we sent out committees to visit the hospitals in England where there might be wounded Masonic brethren and we have in other ways done everything possible to give Masonic help and assistance to American brethren.
F. C. Van Duzer, Secretary,
114 Southampton Row, London, W.C.1,
* * *
COMMENDS BLOCK'S ARTICLE
In your November number of THE BUILDER, you issued a very interesting article, named "The Present Day Tendencies and Dangers in Freemasonry" by Bro. Louis Block. The article is not alone very interesting and instructive, but true in every sense of the word. Not alone have these thoughts occurred to me, but I have time and again voiced my sentiments regarding the deleteriousness of auxiliary branches to our Blue Lodges. I was made a Mason in May 1895, was Senior Deacon in '96, Junior Warden '97, Master in 1898-99, and District Deputy Grand Master of the 2nd Masonic District in 1900. During that period we had no Past Master Association, no Senior Deacons' or Fellowcraft Clubs, no Wardens' Associations, Square Clubs, Masonic Associations, etc., etc., as at the present day. In those days we did not initiate and raise by special dispensation ten and fifteen candidates in one night. During that period a candidate had to be proficient before being advanced. All instruction was given from mouth to ear. I well remember wandering the streets night after night receiving my lessons in that manner. Now everything is changed; abnormally so; now, some of our Masonic supply houses sell pamphlets at ten cents each, and cypher books with which candidates educate themselves in direct opposition to the vows that all such printed forms and matter would be ignored. I wish that every Master of the Brooklyn and New York lodges as well as lodges wherever found could be placed in possession of a copy of Bro. Block's article, and that it be read in lodge for the guidance and instruction of the brothers. I know of several instances of men becoming identified with the fraternity in order to become members of some social auxiliary ignoring all the beautiful teachings and doctrines of Blue Lodge Masonry, in fact hardly ever attending their lodges. Present conditions are much to be deplored and are becoming worse by the hour. The crucial question is not alone what should be done, but what must be done.
Realizing the necessity that something must be done I would deem it an honor and pleasure to co-operate with Bro. Block in his endeavor to call the attention of the Craft to the feet that they are rapidly drifting onto the rocks of calamity through their foolish as well as insane hankering after "Jazz in Masonry", instead of adhering strictly, consistently and conscientiously to its tenets and doctrines.
Philip Hertschaft, New York.
Bro. Block's article has stirred up a great excitement, if one may judge from the many letters written to commend it. The above is typical of a score or more. Demands for extra copies of the November issue were so great as almost to exhaust the supply.
* * *
"HOW DO YOU EXAMINE VISITORS?"
I see in your Ye Editor's Corner for October you ask for information as to "How do you examine visitors?" I will answer for our own lodge and I believe it is customary through this jurisdiction. First, we demand to see his receipt and we see that the seal of the lodge he claims to be a member is on same; he is then given the tiler's, or test oath. We then have to use quite a bit of judgment in regard to a ritualistic examination as we find quite a number who are what is termed rusty. But we are rather particular in demanding that in all three degrees that they shall know certain grips, words, signs, especially a certain one in the last, and how it is given. This is about all I can describe to you here. Visitors should always have their receipts when coming to Florida. I will also state that we have a list of all "Regular Lodges". I feel satisfied that the above will be found pretty general throughout this jurisdiction. I have served on the examining committee for the past twenty years and examined brothers from almost every state in the Union and have had some queer experiences.
Lew C. Stewart, Florida.
* * *
"THE GREATEST DANGER"
I have just been scanning the pages of the October 1923 number and have come upon your "Corner" with the query "What is the greatest danger now facing Freemasonry?" While not very old either in years of natural life or in membership I have ever been a keen observer both in and out of the Craft and, since my discovery of your Society, somewhat of a student of the Fraternity. I therefore feel both the inclination and qualification to submit an answer.
It is the membership itself which is the ONLY "great" danger. Doubtless, I think, a very different reply was either sought or anticipated, some reference to other antipathetic organizations or unwholesome "friendly" bodies which have come in for much notoriety. I had such things fully in mind when framing my reply and I submit that, after a careful analysis of their activities, I believe their influences are harmful to Freemasonry only in so far as our beautiful and wonderful Institution is cheapened and caused to deteriorate by a careless selection of our membership and by such poor membership engaging in antagonistic, controversial or animous activities.
The old axiom "two wrongs never made one right" seems to apply. In all my readings regarding the early periods of both national and world-wide Masonic history I have failed to find precedent for the mental, moral and political atmosphere which seems to permeate to permeate the rank and file of the Craft today. We appear to have descended to the level of the too numerous "lodges" when we should have maintained the lofty position as a Profession in Social Science, admitting to practice only those worthy and well qualified, duly and truly prepared.
Wm. Paul Babcock, New York.
* * *
Vol. I, Ars Quatuor Coronatorum.
Vol. XXXII, Ars Quatuor Coronatorum; both must be complete, and with St. John's Cards.
"Records of the Hole Crafte and Fellowship of Masons," by Edward Conder.
"Restorations of Masonic Geometry and Symbolry," by H. P. H. Bromwell.
"History of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite," by Robert Folger.
Send description and prices to Book Department, National Masonic Research Society, 1950 Railway Exchange, St. Louis, Mo.
* * *
YE EDITORS CORNER
Through a stupid typographical error the honored name of John Ross Robertson appeared in this Corner, November last, as "John Robertson Ross". Such things can happen, even in dry times. A Canadian brother has written to question the title "Sir" also used in the same item. My note was copied from a Canadian Grand Lodge Proceedings, but it may be in error. Will some Toronto brother speak up?
* * *
The hoary problem, "How old is Ann?" (or is it Anne) must now take a seat in the rear. A new one is going the rounds of the devotee of "ye ancien scions of geometric" as witness my hand as follows:
How many apples did Adam and Eve eat?
Some say Eve 8 and Adam 2 — a total of 10 orally.
Now, we figure the thing out far differently: Eve 8 and Adam 8, also — total 16.
On second thought we think the above figures are entirely wrong.
If Eve 8 and Adam 82, certainly the total would be 90.
Scientific men, however, on the strength of the theory that the antediluvians were a race of giants, reason something like this: Eve 81 and Adam 82 — total, 163.
Wrong again. What could be clearer than if Eve 81 and Adam 812 the total was 893.
We believe the following to be the true solution: Eve 814 Adam and Adam 8124 Eve — total, 8,938.
Still another calculation is as follows: If Eve 814 Adam, Adam 81,242 oblige Eve — total, 82,056.
Submit answers to our Adam and Eve editor. The League of Nations will decide the winner. Entrants must be of mature age and unsound mind.
* * *
Word comes that Bro. Reynold E. Blight is now editor of The New Age. Congratulations, Bro. Blight, and power to your arm.
* * *
We need an article on The Order of the Cincinnati; would you care to make a study of the subject to that end? Let us have a word from you if you would.
* * *
Bro. Ossian Lang writes: "THE BUILDER is respected universally in Europe where Masonic journalism as you know has been moving on a considerably higher plane than has been the case in America. I heard words of commendation from our journal wherever it has become known." Thanks. Such words are encouraging.
* * *
Over an entrance to the post office building that stands near the union station in Washington, D.C., are these words: "Messenger of Sympathy and Love — Servant of Parted Friends — Consoler of the Lonely — Bond of the Scattered Family — Enlarger of the Common Life." How true they are of the mail service. Would they not also be true in a certain sense of the Masonic Fraternity?