SHORT TALK BULLETIN
Vol. XXXV No. 3 — March 1957
"The supreme court of learning and authority in Masonic scholarship throughout the world."
Thus the noted Masonic historian, H. L. Haywood, denominates Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, of London, the premier research lodge of the Ancient Craft.
The Warrant for this lodge, November 28, 1884, was signed by Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (afterward Edward VII), then Grand Master in England.
The lodge is a literary, historical, archaeological society, meeting four times yearly as a Masonic lodge. While the Warrant empowers the lodge to receive and act upon petitions and to make Masons, its primary purpose is, and has always been, research, study, investigation and the publication of its papers and addresses in its proceedings — Ars Quatuor Coronatorum — familiarly abbreviated and known to every Masonic student as "A.Q.C.".
While warranted in 1884, the lodge had to wait until January 12, 1886, for consecration, because the Master-elect was absent on a diplomatic and military command for his government.
The name of the lodge comes from the legend in the Regius Poem; briefly, it is as follows: "In A.D. 287, when the Emperor Diocletian built his famous baths and the Temple of Aesculapius, the God of Health, four sculptors (Claudius, Castorius, Semphorianus and Nicostratus ) together with an apprentice named Simplicius, were found to be Christians when they refused to carve a statue of Aesculapius. They were executed on November 8th and their bodies placed in leaden coffins and cast into the Tiber. Later Diocletian discovered four Christian soldiers who refused to offer incense with sacrifice at the statue of Aesculapius. They were scourged to death and their bodies cast upon the street. Their names were Severus, Severianus, Carpophorus and Victorinus. They died on November 8th, two years after the other five. The names of the first group were lost and they were consecrated as the Crowned Martyrs. November 8th has been set aside by the Roman Catholic Church in commemoration of the Four Crowned Martyrs, because of their steadfast faith; the only known instance that this Church placed so signal an honor on operative Masons. The premier research lodge, Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, London, England, is named after these martyrs."
By-laws of the lodge limit the membership to forty (the United States Philalethes Society limits its "fellows" to forty. The French Academy has "forty immortals" as members). Forty is almost within the category of a "magic number" since it is so important in the Scriptures. Moses was forty days on the mount; Elijah was fed forty days by ravens; the rain, which made the flood, fell for forty days; Christ fasted forty days; he was seen forty days after resurrection, etc. Mosaic law provided "forty stripes less one" as a maximum punishment and the thirty-nine articles of the Anglican Church seem to have some relation to this, as do the thirty-nine General Regulations of Anderson's Constitutions of 1723 have a similar relation to those of the Church.
In 1887, the lodge authorized a Correspondence Circle, to which thousands of Masons all over the world now subscribe.
Proceedings — "A.Q.C." — have been continuously published from the beginning, and now number sixty-seven volumes. Bound, these are more than twice the size of the twenty-four volumes of the Britannica. In addition to the Proceedings, the lodge has published ten volumes of Antigrapha — reproductions of old manuscripts and other documents with commentaries thereon.
A.Q.C. ranges all over the world. It covers every Rite which is remotely connected with Freemasonry. It delves into records from the most ancient times to those of today. It comprises history, biography, archaeology, symbolism, jurisprudence, romance, religion, ritual, etc., etc. and again etc.
In this country, the Ancient Craft is important. Our Masonic history, though less than two hundred and fifty years in extent, is romantic, interesting, vital to American Freemasons. It is, therefore, perhaps justified that American Masons are both sorry and somewhat critical that Quatuor Coronati Lodge has paid so little attention to Masonic happenings on our side of the Atlantic. Of course, since American Lodge of Research ( New York) pointed the way, and some other States also warranted research lodges — (North Carolina, Connecticut, Washington, etc) we have benefitted by some scholarly research and many excellent studies and papers, but the Proceedings of all American Research Lodges, if put together, would not equal in size, content, coverage, variety or interest the pages of A.Q.C.
The greatest and most learned of Masonic students have contributed research and papers to A.Q.C.; Calvert, Cockburn, Conder, Covey-Crump, Crawley, Crowe, Gould, Hawkins, Hughan, Jones, Knoop, Poole, Robbins, Rylands, Sadler, Songhurst, Speth — our own Jacob Hugo Tatsch — are all names to conjure with in the Masonic fields and great is the harvest these and many others have reaped for all who read.
The Antigrapha in ten volumes contains priceless contributions to the world's Masonic knowledge. In no other way and in no other form could Masons generally have been enabled to see and study the old, old manuscripts in England on which so much of our history and our knowledge is based.
The Masonic Poem — Regius Manuscript — Halliwell Document, by what ever name known, is reproduced in facsimile in Vol. I of Antigrapha, with Urbanitatis and Instructions for a Parish Priest. Many pages of critical examination of these documents follow. In Vol. II are facsimiles of the Cooke, the Lansdowne and the Harleian Mss. Vol. III has five facsimiles; the second Harelian, Sloane ( two mss. ) Watson Manuscript Roll, and Cama. Vol. IV gives facsimiles of Grand Lodge Manuscript Rolls No. 1 and No. 2; the Buchanan, the 1739 "Beginning and First Foundation of the Most Worthy Craft of Masonry, with the Charges, thereunto belonging, printed for Mr. Dodd", and the Harris No. 2 ms.; the Freemasons' Calendar for 1781, and "Laws to be rehearsed at Opening of Lodge" and "The Ceremony observed at Funerals" (which many if not all our own funeral regulations follow). Vol. V is devoted to facsimiles of the Scarborough Ms. Roll and the extremely beautiful Phillips Mss. Numbers 1, 2, and 3, of course with commentary and transcripts; Vol. VI contains a facsimile of the Inigo Jones Ms. with its quaint and curious picture; the Wood Ms. and the Dechemere. Vol. VII is devoted entirely to a reprint and commentary on Anderson's Constitutions of 1723 — important to the Craft, but less needed in this country than the other facsimiles, since there are a number of copies (The Association has one) of the book itself as well as the complete facsimile in the Little Masonic Library. Vol. VIII is concerned with Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter certificates; Vol. IX with Philo Musicae et Architecurae Societas, 1725-27 and Vol. X with the facsimiles of the Minutes of the Grand Lodge of England from 1723 to 1739 inclusive.
How invent a scale by which the value of such a collection of reprints and commentaries may be determined? To all intents and purposes it would be an impossibility, even for a man with unlimited time on his hands, just to see these ancient documents, still less have time and opportunity to study, compare and learn from them. Over a period of years, by these publications, Quatuor Coronati Lodge has put the world of Masonic study and research so heavily into its debt that it (like the national debt, alas! ) in all probability can never be paid!
Indeed, it is difficult to write of these reproductions without emotion, and to confine emotion to reasonable words. That Freemason is dead of soul and sodden of mind, indeed, who can in Antigrapha look at all he will ever see of the Regius and the Cooke mss. and not feel a thrill, have stirred within him wonder, and perhaps a wish to offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the devoted English brethren who made such sights possible.
If a critical statement may be as kindly written as it is meant, let charity extend to the statement here made that our English brethren have not provided as yet an adequate index. All inclusive and cross-indexing would be a great help to many in making available the works of those really eminent and scholarly Masons who have so superb an accomplishment as the A.Q.C. An American Lodge of Research ( State of Washington ) indexed A.Q.C. Volumes I to L inclusive. in 1941; but it is only of subjects and authors, by titles and names, and is not crossed. The index published by Quatuor Coronati is long out of date and actually only an enlarged table of contents.
Hence, there is buried in this magnificent collection of information a great mass of facts, discussion and learning which is not always easy to find. The Association paid gladly for the lengthy process of producing a card system of some eighty thousand entries which are an open sesame to many of otherwise closed Masonic vault. But how many brethren or institutions can afford the time or money to produce such an index? A printed cross-index of the sixty-seven volumes would fill a large book, be invaluable. Had A.Q.C. been indexed as were the fifteen volumes of The Builder (the great Masonic magazine of the years 1915 to 1929), A.Q.C. would be far more readily consultable than is now possible,
A.Q.C. is well illustrated, and the pictures deserve a whole volume of praise for themselves alone. For herein are cuts showing jewels, documents, certificates, old minutes, Masonic craftsmanship, glasses, china, portraits, jewelry, seals, carvings — practically everything that has any Masonic significance has been not only told in article and story but in picture form. With these, the Masonic world has a much greater perspective on the roots of Freemasonry in the mother country than would otherwise be possible; without such illustrations we would be poor indeed.
A.Q.C. is finely printed upon good and enduring paper. The pages of Volume I are as fresh and sturdy as when published seventy years ago — a matter of real importance, since the publications of today become the priceless records of tomorrow.
The Correspondence Circle is the means by which Quatuor Coronati Lodge makes its labors known to the Masonic world. Members of that Circle receive — and doubtless preserve — the Proceedings. The expense is small, considering the value received; the most recent remittance by the Association was $3.59 which included airmail!
Prices of paper and printing have sky-rocketed in England just as in the United States. A.Q.C. has had to respond with shorter papers and less expense. The more Correspondence Circle members this lodge has, the more it can publish. Few financial contributions to the good of Masonic study and information can go further or do a greater good than this individually modest contribution.
The most recent volume of A.Q.C. lists J. R. Rylands as Master and J. R. Dashwood as Secretary of the Lodge; the address of the Lodge is Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, London, W.C. 2, England.
The Masonic Service Association regards as its premier source of Masonic information, a complete set of A.Q.C. from the beginning; sixty-seven bound volumes, besides the ten bound volumes of Antigrapha. Such sets are, to all intents and purposes, priceless; but let no one refrain from subscriptions to the Correspondence Circle on that account. There is no continuity from volume to volume which can be broken by a missing set of pages; stories and articles are not continued from one issue to the next. Each issue is complete in itself.
What article, or what class of articles, in A.Q.C. are the most valuable? Such a question, though natural, is unanswerable, because values, in such an inquiry, are so different for different brethren. In general, the painstaking, meticulous, detailed histories are probably as great a contribution as any, although the numerous discussions upon Masonic riddles, the resolving of Masonic tales into facts on one side and myths on the other, have an importance which cannot be minimized.
Our English brethren have set a pattern of scholarship and scientific evaluation of Masonic evidence which has been a model for all the Masonic world.
With such studies as these, Freemasonry can face its just critics of its, at times, too broad claims, with confidence. If Masonry can say "here are the facts", it is because a dedicated and devoted band of men and brethren in the Mother Grand Lodge and nation have self-sacrificingly devoted themselves for so many years to the labors incident to clearing away the mists of legend, story, myth and wishful thinking, offering instead the romantic, while completely factual story of Freemasonry, as it really is.
this column will attempt to answer questions about Freemasonry
Why is an Apprentice "Entered "?
The word goes back to operative days. The Freemasons of the middle ages were a select group; they were the highest class artisans of their time. It required sound health, moral character high intelligence, to be a good operative Freemason, permitted to work on the great Houses of God which were the Freemasons' work. They were proud of their abilities and of their reputation and strict in their rules.
To become a Freemason a young lad was required to serve a seven-year apprenticeship, before he might ask to be permitted to make and submit to his superiors his "Master's Piece," and be admitted as a "Fellow of the Craft." Before he could serve his time he had to prove himself; therefore he served a period of time as an Apprentice. If at the end of that period he had shown himself possessed of the necessary qualifications of industry, character, decency and probity, he was "entered" on the books of the Craft and became an "Entered Apprentice." Originally an Apprentice was not a member of the Masonic Craft, even after being entered on the books of the lodge; not until he had passed his apprenticeship and been accepted as a Fellow was he a Craftsman. This practice gradually gave way to the modern idea and after 1717, Apprentices initiated in lodge formed the bulk of the Craft.
Ritual teaches that the Apprentice is a symbol of youth, the Fellowcraft of manhood, and the Master of old age; probably this conception is derived from the fact that learners, beginners, are young, experts are men, and the wise and learned the elder group.
Explain the letters GAOTU.
Grand Architect, Great Architect, Grand or Great Artificer of the Universe are titles under which Freemasonry refers to Deity. A fundamental of Freemasonry is its nonsectarian character any man of any religion may offer his devotions to the Deity he reveres, no matter what name he may use in his mind, under the Masonic title. Great Architect of the Universe (or any of its variations ) is a symbol of Deity as named and worshipped in all religions.