A Journal for the Masonic Student
Published Monthly by the National Masonic Research Society
Vol. 1 No. 5 – May 1915
EDWIN BOOTH AS A MASON
IN an earlier issue reference was made to a statue of Edwin Booth, the great master of tragedy, recently erected in Gramercy Park, near the Players Club, of which Booth was the founder. Designed by E. T. Quinn — who also wrought the bust of Poe, in Poe Park — it reveals the vanished actor in his favorite role of Hamlet, which temperament, training and personality had made peculiarly his own. Believing that his readers would like to know more about Booth, both as a man and a Mason, ye editor has made some research among his relatives and friends, the results of which he offers herewith, along with certain observations on a man who was as noble in his life as he was great in his art.
Those who wish to know the story of Booth in detail — and a memorable story it is, worthy of being told many times — may find it recorded with exquisite insight and skill in the "Life and Art of Edwin Booth," by William Winter, the Plutarch of our stage. Truly, it is a fascinating book, as much for its descriptions of Booth on the stage as for its account of his habits in private life — for, in the art of interpreting the personality of an artist, there is no one like Winter, no one near him. Such genius is rare, and the more precious for that the art of a great actor dies with him, save as it may live, for a brief time, in the minds of the generation before whom he appears. Happily, an intimate fellowship united with literary power to preserve the image and art of Booth, and to these was added life-long love of the man — as witness these words:
"Farewell; nor mist, nor flying cloud,
Nor night can ever dim
The wreath of honors pure and proud,
Our hearts have twined for him!"
Spiritual personality eludes definition; to be is more than to do, and the soul of Edwin Booth was greater even than his achievement. He was a benefactor to thousands, revealing to them, now in forms of beauty and color, now in shapes of terror and power, the wonder of human nature and its destiny. By birth and heredity he possessed those qualities of beauty grace, charm and expression which others strive in vain to attain. His face, his voice, his gesture, and his brilliant and beautiful spirit gave him conquest — those dark eyes flashing divine fire, not alone of physical vitality, but of imagination, emotion, and exaltation of soul. He had no need of novelties; he was himself a novelty. In Richelieu, Othello, Iago, Lear, Bertuccio, and Brutus, but most of all in Hamlet, his power was made manifest; power of insight, of intense emotion, of richness and color of personality, of thoughtful, brooding habit of a stately mind — all abstracted from passion and suffused with a mysterious melancholy and the pensive, dreamlike soul of a poet. Such qualities made his Hamlet an unforgettable picture of sorrowful grandeur, sad majesty, ineffable mournfulness, and grief-stricken isolation, as of one who walked a troubled way amid the foul crimes of the living and the phantoms of the dead. Whether in the glittering halls of Elsinore, on its midnight battlements, or in its lonely wind-beaten place of graves, the lovely, suffering, awestruck spirit of the Prince seemed to wear once more his robe of flesh.
In private life Booth was the soul of honor, gentle, affable, often playful, and uncommonly apt in telling comic stories, albeit men felt that he dwelt somewhat apart and aloof — sometimes mistaking an excess of modesty for haughtiness, whereas beneath his reserve there was an abundance of kindness and good fellowship. As a son he was tenderly devoted, thoughtful of everything that could solace the declining years of an aged mother, provident of blessings, tireless in service; and his reverence for the memory of his father was akin to religion. A devout Christian in faith, he had, nevertheless, a foreboding nature, and expected every kind of disaster — except the most terrible one of all which befell him when his brother murdered Lincoln. It was pitiful to see him then, bowed low under the shadow of a tragedy greater than he had portrayed on the stage. Youth goes; age comes; and Booth passed into the sear and yellow leaf with dignity and sweetness, and never knew "the set gray life and its apathetic end."
Of his Masonic fellowship, his brother-in-law, J. H. Magonigle, writes: "Yes, Edwin Booth was an ardent Mason, and for twenty-five years before his death, on June 7th, 1893, was a member of New York Lodge, No. 330. He was always proud of the Fraternity, but the exactions of his profession prevented his regular attendance at Lodge. For the same reason, he was kept from being the Master of a Lodge of Masons, which was one of his dearest ambitions. Nevertheless, the Brethren held him in high esteem and were proud of his association." Brother A. A. Auchmoedy gives this interesting reminiscence:
"I was Master of a Masonic Lodge in Omaha a good many years ago. Edwin Booth was playing in the city. I knew that he was a Mason, and sent a committee over to invite him to meet with us after the play. He sent back word that he would do so with pleasure, and we sent a committee to escort him to the Lodge. The examination was brief, but entirely satisfactory, and when he entered the room every member was on his feet, greeting him with hearty applause. He seemed much interested in the closing exercises, and at the banquet which followed he was a happy member of the party. There were songs, in which Booth joined heartily with his wondrously sweet voice, and several brief speeches before the great actor was called upon. He began by saying:
'Mr. Toastmaster and Brothers: I am like a boy out oft school tonight. It is a delight to be with you. If I act like a boy, kindly overlook it.' Then he told many interesting stories of his connection with Masonry and of his career as an actor — how deeply grateful he had been at the forethought and tender consideration of his brethren in times of great distress, hinting at the days when he felt himself under a cloud, when President Lincoln met his death at the hands of his brother. Continuing, he said: 'I shall never forget that wherever I went Masons rallied about me and cheered my drooping spirits. But for their love and forethought I can tell you now, my Brethren, I do not think I should have resumed my life as an actor after that awful event.'
Suddenly he switched to a pleasantry, and had all of us laughing. His readings seemed brighter and better than they ever were on the stage. One Brother asked him what was his favorite poem, and after thinking a moment he answered: 'Please put the question differently, and ask me what my favorite hymn is.' We all wondered what it would be. Then, in a voice low and sweet, he said: 'That hymn which the world knows as Jesus Lover of My Soul' — and without waiting, he recited it as we had never heard it recited before. A member asked for his favorite piece of prose:
'I thank you, my Brother,' he said, 'for asking that question. The most beautiful, impressive, noble, and unforgettable and uplifting words that were ever uttered and preserved to the world I shall do myself the honor of reciting. Please be standing with me.' And with bowed head he recited the Lord's Prayer."
Naturally, it was the dramatic element in Masonry that attracted the attention of a man like Booth, and he never ceased to wonder at the simplicity, power, and firm grip on the bitter, old and dark reality of life displayed in the drama of the Third Degree. Surely he was no mean judge of tragedy, and he left this testimony:
"In all my research and study, in all my close analysis of the masterpieces of Shakespeare, in my earnest determination to make those plays appear real on the mimic stage, I have never, and nowhere, met tragedy so real, so sublime, so magnificent as the legend of Hiram. It is substance without shadow — the manifest destiny of life which requires no picture and scarcely a word to make a lasting impression upon all who can understand. To be a Worshipful Master, and to throw my whole soul into that work, with the candidate for my audience and the Lodge for my stage, would be a greater personal distinction than to receive the plaudits of the people in the theatres of the world."
Toward the end, Booth lived much alone — reading, musing, pondering upon his art, and, especially, thinking of that one other subject which engaged him most deeply — Religion. He had the constant spirit of a believer, the impartiality of a philosopher, and the soul of a poet; and so, whether in youth or age, diffused an influence of strength, grace, and peace. The charm of his nature was blended composure, gentleness, and power. Upon the marge of that vast mystery which encircles our little lives like a sea, he stood in awe, wonder, and confidence — and so drifted away. Around his name is a halo of romance that will never fade. His character and conduct are summed up in the words of Hamlet to Horatio, which he once wished might be his epitaph:
"Thou hast been
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing,
A man that Fortune's buffets and rewards
Hast taken with equal thanks."
HOW TO STUDY MASONRY
THE METHOD OF STUDY
(Continuing the symposium begun in the last issue of The Builder, it need hardly be said that the letters in this series are more suggestive than exhaustive, and are intended to be so. Prof. Pound gave a brief glimpse of the field of Masonic study, Brother Block reminded us of the purpose to be kept always in mind, and Prof. Shepardson suggested the method of University Extension and how it might be worked out. Three other methods are presented in this issue, and in the next issue still another method will be set forth both as to the details of its plan and the results in actual experience. Meanwhile, the invitation remains open to our readers to contribute plans and suggestions, that the whole problem may be thoroughly thought through, once for all, that we may the better work out a program that shall include every valuable finding of the experience of the Craft.)
IOWA TRAVELING LIBRARIES
Newton R. Parvin,
Grand Secretary, Iowa
GIVE instruction unto those who cannot procure it for themselves." Acting under this suggestion, the Librarian of the Iowa Masonic Library has for more than a quarter of a century been loaning Masonic books to our Lodges and members, at times only a single volume, again a number of volumes, generally requiring the request to come through the office of the Secretary of the Lodge. Of late years we have been more free in the loan of books from the Library and no brother whose name appears on our rolls as a member in good standing, has ever been refused the loan of books.
For fifteen years there has been published from the office of the Grand Secretary, a Quarterly Bulletin which has been the means of communication between the Grand and Subordinate lodges and officers. This publication, we believe, has done much to acquaint our Iowa lodges and Masons with the contents of the Library and of its value and importance to the Craft. In our report to Grand Lodge in 1910, we stated that "While the Library is the creation of the Grand Lodge, kept up by that Body, yet it benefits the state at large. The prestige gained by the establishment and maintenance of a library reflects credit upon all connected with the institution and gives us a standing everywhere, not alone among Masonic Bodies, but among learned societies and fraternal associations, many of whose officers are today better posted on our Library than are some of our own members.
An increased interest in Masonic books seems to be taking hold of our members. They are searching for information which will prove of value to them in their Masonic work. The Grand Lodge of Iowa has ever endeavored to supply this want and not only furnished the works needed, but arranged to have them circulated among the rank and file of our members for their mutual good. This has been the aim of your Librarian. He takes great pleasure in stating that the members fully appreciate this act on the part of the Grand Lodge, and from numerous letters received when books are returned, they show their appreciation of the loan of the same."
We stated in our report for 1911 that we had arranged several collections of Masonic works which we would send to lodges desiring the loan of the same, allowing them to keep these collections from three to four months, circulating the books among the Brethren that they might have the advantage of reading such volumes as they desired. In order to make these collections at that time, it became necessary to purchase from three to six copies of many volumes of which we had only one copy on our shelves. Early after the close of the Grand Lodge we issued to the lodges a list of the works in these Travelling Libraries. From the many letters received, we found the Brethren were interested in the plan of the Travelling Libraries and it was but a short time until we found that, we would have to increase the supply to meet the demand. In making up these Libraries we endeavored to include books bearing not only on the History, but also the Traditions, the Philosophy, the Symbolism, the Poetry and Ethics of Freemasonry, the Jurisprudence of the Order, as well as volumes bearing upon Capitular and Templar Masonry, the A. & A. Rite, the Mystic Shrine and the Order of the Eastern star, etc.
In the same report we stated that during the past year the Travelling Libraries had been inaugurated; while they were intended more for the smaller towns where the members of the lodges did not have the advantage of public libraries, we found that even the lodges in the larger cities were fully as interested and as desirous of securing one of the Traveling Libraries as were the smaller lodges. We immediately issued a pamphlet stating how, and under what conditions, these libraries might be secured, sending out a large poster calling attention to the subject, asking that it be hung up in some conspicuous place in the Tyler's room. Accompanying this poster was a little folder giving a suggestive list of books for Masons-to read and stating that, "While all reading of a Masonic nature will be beneficial to the average Mason, who merely seeks relaxation with Masonic knowledge as an incidental feature, yet to the students who aim after Masonic light and knowledge, and who have time to give to the subject, we would advise against indiscriminate reading, and would suggest the following of some method of reading that will result in much good. Lay out some definite plan and commence a course of reading and follow it closely. Let the line be what it may — history, symbolism, ceremony or jurisprudence, a clean cut course is essential. Brethren desiring to do this may place themselves in correspondence with the Librarian who will be glad to give such assistance as lies in his power. He would suggest to all such persons the careful reading of some such pamphlet as 'A Masonic Curriculum,' a guide to a course of study in Freemasonry, by G. W. Speth, and then following out the suggestions found in that little pamphlet." This year we had to increase the number of the Traveling Libraries by purchasing additional books. We also began to receive special requests from individual Brethren asking for the loan of books on special subjects in which they were particularly interested.
Having thus inaugurated the system, we felt that we must give the Brethren what they most desired, and in a short time, instead of having a half dozen books of a certain title, we found it necessary to have two dozen or more volumes of each.
The year following, 1912, in presenting our report, we stated that nothing ever inaugurated by the Grand Lodge had met with greater favor by the rank and file of our members than the Traveling Masonic Libraries. Lodge after lodge has availed itself of the privilege of the loan of one or more of these Libraries. In returning the Library, they frequently asked that an additional collection be sent to them. We found it therefore necessary to increase the number of our collections of which we now have quite a goodly number. It was at this time we issued a little folder outlining a three years' course of study, recommended by the Officers of the International Association of Masonic Students of America.
The cases are made of hard wood and contain two shelves capable of holding from thirty to forty volumes of regular sized books, with a neat door locked with a Yale lock. The whole is put up in a good heavy box with iron handles so as to be easily transported. The only expense in connection with the loan of these Libraries is that the lodges shall pay the freight charges which amount to about forty to sixty-five cents each way. A comparison of the number of books loaned our members outside of the Traveling Libraries during the pas years will give a better idea of the interest shown in the Library by the Masons of Iowa.
|1911-12||177 Volumes were loaned|
|1912-13||229 Volumes were loaned|
|1913-14||413 Volumes were loaned|
This year, 1914-15, the number will be greatly increased. This does not include the volumes consulted at the Library.
No volume up to this had been lost, all being accounted for when checked up at the Library on the return of the case.
Brother Block as Chairman of our Research Committee, in speaking of this subject in his report in 1914, has the following to say regarding the Traveling Libraries:
"One of the noteworthy results, due to a large extent to the great interest and enthusiasm stirred up by the splendid work of our Masonic lecturers, has been the striking increase in the use of our traveling Masonic libraries.
"During the past year the number of libraries sent out has been increased over 64 per cent and the number of books thus loaned has grown by over 55 percent, and the number of readers of these has increased 53 per cent. In addition to this the demand for these traveling libraries has grown to such an extent that during the past year there has remained on file in the Grand Librarian's office an average of three applications for libraries unfilled, which means that the demand for these libraries has exceeded the supply by three to one.
"All of this Masonic reading cannot be going on in the state without its resulting in the making of Masons in truth and fact and more than in name only.
"We should be quick to satisfy a demand for such a library as soon as it is made. We should strike the iron while it is hot and not allow disappointment and delay to blight this newly awakened desire for Masonic study. We should foster and encourage this new interest in Masonic research by every means in our power. We should give the young Mason a chance to educate himself. He is the one who will follow us and carry on the great work after we have passed on to the great beyond. * * * The best part of American manhood is its Masonic manhood. History proves that this has always been so. Let us do all in our power to cause it to thrive, to prosper, and to grow, to blossom into an ideal citizenship that shall be worthy of the great teachings of our good and glorious order!"
It is not necessary to follow this work from year to year, but I simply state that the success of the Masonic Travelling Libraries is no longer being questioned. The Brethren of Iowa are beginning to realize fully the value and importance of them and of their great Library, and year after year are making better use of the same. Individuals are constantly making requests of the Library for special works along the line in which they are most interested, and these are being loaned to them for a period of thirty days. Where the book is a rare or expensive one, it is sent by express at the expense of the borrower, but where the book is one easily duplicated, it is sent by parcel post and returned in like manner.
To show that this subject is attracting attention elsewhere, we have only to state that we have had quite a number of requests for loan of libraries from other states which we felt compelled to refuse, though we frequently sent volumes from the Library to lodges and individuals in other states
The Librarian of the Grand Lodge of North Dakota has recently followed our plan and now has several traveling libraries circulating among the lodges of that Jurisdiction.
In a later article we may give information relative to Clippings, Papers and Addresses on Masonic topics which we have arranged in scrap book form or put up in envelopes for mailing to our members, and also information relative to topics covered and how they may be secured and made use of by members of the Craft at large.
SCHOOLS OF INSTRUCTION
Prof. John Pickard, University of Missouri
THE field occupied by this society is so exceedingly broad that a mere catalogue of the work to be accomplished would occupy a considerable space. In this letter I would touch upon only two or three points. In spite of the great work which has been done by Masonic historians in the past I am fully persuaded that the search for original documents with reference to the early history of Masonry may yet be continued with the hope of discovering evidence of much interest and value, and I trust that the Masonic Research Society may in the near future secure such financial backing as will enable it to support able and earnest Masonic workers in such a manner that they, freed from the necessity of working for daily bread, may devote themselves entirely to the cause of furthering our knowledge with reference to the origin, development, and growth of our great institution. The work of such men might well be devoted to research in the great libraries of the world, securing such information as may have escaped the research of earlier historians.
Apart from the study of manuscripts, inscriptions, and writings of the men of by-gone days, I believe much good could be accomplished by investigations of the great buildings of the world to show how from the beginning of time the secrets, traditions, and practices of the Craft have been handed down from race to race, from civilization to civilization, and from nation to nation. In other words to show the unbroken continuity of Masonic tradition in the architecture of the world. This, as the field of work, has been less thoroughly cultivated by the Masonic historians of the past. These two suggestions have reference to the broadening and deepening of our Masonic knowledge, but there is another field which may well be cultivated by the Masonic Research Society.
It would be well to have active Masons understand that a thorough knowledge of the ritual is only the beginning and not the end of Masonic work. Too often earnest and sincere Masons feel that they have accomplished something which is very much worth while, when they have simply succeeded in learning with more or less accuracy the ritual. Now an accurate knowledge of the ritual is a very essential thing, and we cannot lay too much stress upon it, but if that is all there is in Free Masonry, then Free Masonry is not a very important matter.
If, on the other hand, we regard such ritualistic knowledge as a mere beginning and go on to build upon this as a foundation and endeavor to erect a perfect moral and Masonic structure above this foundation, then we are really moving out on the right path.
I do not think, however, that we can lay down a curriculum of Masonic study extensive and varied, with the hope of persuading the great mass of Free Masons to go through with this or to enter upon the study with the idea of going through with an extensive curriculum. Free Masons are ordinarily men who have passed the School and College age, and are busy with the affairs of life, and any proposition which involves extensive and long continued labor in order to arrive at the expected goal will tend to repel rather than to attract. On the other hand, it seems to me that it would be pedagogically sound to prepare a series of interesting topics which might be pursued with great pleasure by Free Masons, and then present these to our lodges in such an attractive form that the one or the other topic would be sure to appeal to members in our subordinate lodges. The appeal once made and study once begun, the field of vision would broaden so rapidly and pleasantly that men would be led on and on and yet on to the study of this or that phase of the work and would find their interest growing and increasing as the years go by. Leadership of this kind would be effective in accomplishing great good.
To bring this matter effectively before our subordinate bodies it would be necessary to hold schools of instruction of a little different type than those we are accustomed to hold, schools of instruction in which the best workers and strongest men in the subordinate lodges could be brought together and inspired with a love for and desire for increased Masonic knowledge. These men then can be depended upon to direct the lodges to which they belong.
THE CORRESPONDENCE SCHOOL METHOD IN MASONRY
R. J. Lemert, Helena, Montana
No matter how much of value there may be in the Masonic institution, no matter what the richness of its philosophy, or the suggestiveness of its symbolism, it can never fulfill its mission until its votaries become better versed in its fundamental tenets, more keenly aware of its ultimate purpose and its possibilities. In the ordinary affairs of the world at large it is axiomatic that education is an absolute essential to good citizenship; and this is no less true in the affairs of Masonry. No one can comprehend the true object of this great fraternity of ours until he has delved deeply into the history, the philosophy and the traditions of Masonry, and has discovered for himself the True Word — the true mission, the true working tools — of a Master Mason.
The Masonic education of the members of our institution can be accomplished only by one of two methods — by the study of books, or by oral lectures. The National Masonic Research Society, under whose auspices this magazine is published, has devoted itself to the task of stimulating study by the former method, while the Masonic Lecture Bureau believes that it has evolved a plan which will be of incalculable benefit to American Masonry.
Brother C. C. Hunt, editor of the "Masonic Standard," that excellent New York journal of the Craft, has aptly designated the plan of this Bureau "the correspondence school method, applied to Masonry," an expression which tells the story perfectly. For as the correspondence school carries the means of education to men and women who are remote from schools and colleges, so does the Masonic Lecture Bureau place at the disposal of lodges and study clubs in every part of the country entertaining, instructive and reliable lectures upon every phase of Freemasonry.
The plan of the Bureau is unique. Distinguished students of the institution are associated with the Bureau in the capacity of contributing lecturers, furnishing manuscripts upon many topics, some of which have been delivered to small gatherings of the brethren in the past, but most of which have been especially prepared for the present purpose. When these are received at the home office of the Bureau, in Helena Montana, they are carefully copied upon the typewriter, scores of copies of each being made, and are then ready to be rented to such lodges as may desire the service.
The scope and arrangement of the lecture course has been the subject of most careful consideration, but upon the theory that the history of Masonry — or rather of those things which have become Masonry — is history of civilization, the first course of eight lectures has been arranged as follows:
No. 1 — The Origin of Freemasonry. — This is an introductory lecture, preparatory for the succeeding numbers. It outlines briefly the principal theories, some fifteen in number, which been advanced during the past 200 years to account for our institution, and lays the foundation for fuller discussion.
No. 2 — The Beginnings of the Human Race. — A discussion of the scientific theories regarding the creation of man and the rise of civilization, showing the probable source from which all religions and philosophies have sprung.
No. 3 — The First Initiations. — A wonderful lecture, showing the rise of the white race and the civilizing of ancient India, the land of mystery, which many writers agree was the home of initiation.
No. 4 — The Mysteries in Egypt. — A fascinating account of the transplanting of the philosophy of India into the ancient land of the Pharaohs, with a discussion of the amazing civilization which flourished there for thousands of years.
No. 5 — The Mysteries of Isis and Osiris. — A continuation of No. 4, carrying the subject still further, and telling all that is known of the ceremonies of initiation which many writers believe to have given birth to our own.
No. 6 — Persia and the Wise Men of the East. — This lecture treats of the great teacher, Zoroaster, and the marvelous system of religious philosophy which he founded, a system which was in part adopted by those early Christians who were opposed to the papal idea.
No. 7 — The Mysteries in Other Lands. — Showing the growth of the Mystery idea among the Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians and other peoples, and their methods of imparting philosophical and religious instruction
No. 8 — Moses and the Rise of the Jewish People. — A discussion of the founder of the Hebrew nation in the course of which new light is thrown upon the sources of his knowledge and inspiration.
That this choice of topics was a wise one is evidenced by the number of appreciative and commendatory letters which have been received at the offices of the Bureau from lodges which have already availed themselves of the service. No better evidence of the wisdom of the plan could be asked than the fact that out of several hundred lodges which have commenced the use of the lectures, not a single one has discontinued the service.
The eight lectures mentioned above do not, of course, represent all that the Bureau has to offer. Many other papers of the historical series are now under preparation, covering the time from the close of the eighth lecture to the present, including discussions of the Roman Collegia, the Dionysian Architects, the Gnosis, Early Christianity, the Johannites, Pythagoras, the Manicheans, the Comacines, the Steinmetzen, the Crusades, the Knights Templars, King Athelstan, the Rosicrucians, and numerous other topics set forth in the literature of the Bureau.
A series of so-called "optional" lectures is also in preparation. These do not form parts of a connected series, as do the eight listed above, but each is complete in itself. Two papers of especial merit, in this series are now offered: "Masonry and the Church," from the pen of Brother the Rt. Rev. Frederick W. Keator, Bishop of Olympia, Wash., a scholarly and non-sectarian discussion of the interrelation between the Craft universal and the Church universal; and "A Brief Resume of the History of the Royal Arch Degree," by Brother E. H. Van Patten, P. G. M., of Dayton, Wash.
None of the lectures offered by the Bureau are sold, being rented only to such regular lodges or study clubs as may desire them. (*) A small fee is required, not for the purpose of making of the Bureau a moneymaking institution, but because there are a multitude of items of expense connected with the administration of the plan, and it is desired to make the Bureau self supporting.
Such is, in brief, an outline of the plan of the latest entrant into the field of Masonic education. The Bureau will be glad to send any of the lectures listed above to properly qualified applicants, upon request, and it invites correspondence regarding its work. It will especially welcome additional contributors to the lecture course.
(*) Lodges or study clubs wishing to use any of the lectures offered by the Bureau may secure the rent of them at the rate of $1.50 each. Correspondence should be addressed to the Secretary, Helena, Montana.
* * *
THE CENTER OF THE LODGE
The East, the West, the South, the North
In our Temple's oblong square
Are ofttimes mentioned for their worth,
In their symbolism rare.
Not so the center. When 'tis passed
By the initiate on his way
It seems so soon to be outclassed
In the grand old mystic play.
As I recall impressions rare
While I saw not the light,
While sweet surprises met me where
I least surmised they might,
While mental thrills came thick and fast
As my conductor led,
The sweetest things of all the past
Seemed in the center said.
And O the prayer that there was given,
In pleadings all for me!
Was this appeal to highest heaven
The prayer of Masonry?
And the meaning of that soulful plea
Is all the mind can span;
For it contained all that can be
For the best there is in man.
And I was asked in whom I placed
My soul's eternal trust.
My answer any doubt effaced
That I'd be true and just.
And friendship's token to me there
Was given, and words of cheer;
For I knew not the way, nor where
New dangers might appear.
And so, as I recall the past —
The place, the prayer, the cheer —
There will remain while life shall last
The memories so dear,
Of that sweet center which I know
Makes all that comes more bright,
As ever on and on I go
To realms of further light.
- L. B. Mitchell, Michigan.
Now the wailing wind of Winter
Sighing o'er the Summer's dead,
Comes a sweeping thru the branches
Creaking, croaking overhead.
This is Nature's funeral service
As it moans the dying year,
And we seek the chimney corners
Feeling shivery, creepy, queer.
Yet we know that Spring is coming
When this requiem is done
And we may rejoice in gladness
At the turning of the sun.
So it is with life's long battle
As we reach its closing stage
And our hair in frosty whiteness
Chimes the winter of old age.
We have lived as Spring and Summer,
Tho perhaps we knew it not
And we reaped the fruits of Autumn
Just as Nature judged we ought.
Now while in the midst of Winter
Looking forward to the Spring,
Let us feel as ever youthful
Tho the frost hides everything.
If we then recall the winters
With their cold and frosty breath,
How the Spring did surely follow;
Then we know there is no death.
— Arthur B. Rugg, Minneapolis, Minn.
All service ranks the same with God:
If now, as formerly He trod
Paradise, His presence fills
Our earth, each only as God wills
Can work — God's puppets, best and worst,
Are we; there is no last nor first.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF MASONRY
Bro. Roscoe Pound
Professor of Jurisprudence in Harvard University
FIVE LECTURES DELIVERED UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE GRAND MASTER OF MASSACHUSETTS, MASONIC TEMPLE, BOSTON
5. A TWENTIETH-CENTURY MASONIC PHILOSOPHY
WE have long outgrown the notion that Masonry is to be held to one purpose or one object or is to be hemmed in by the confines of one philosophy. If we are taught truly that the roof of the Mason's workshop is nothing less than the "clouded canopy or starry-decked heavens," nothing that goes on beneath that capacious covering can be wholly alien to us. Our Fraternity is to be of all men and for all men; it is to be of all time and for all time. The needs of no one time and of no one people can circumscribe its objects. The philosophy of no one time, of no one people, and much more of no one man, can be admitted as its final authority. Hence it is no reproach to Masonry to have, along with lessons and tenets for all times, a special lesson and a special tenet for each time, which is not to be insisted on at other times. Truth, after all, is relative. Vital truths to one time cannot be put into pellets or boluses to be administered to all times to come. If the Craft is to be perpetual, it must appeal to each time as well as to all times; it must have in its traditions something that today can use, although yesterday could not use it and tomorrow need not. We are a Craft of workmen. It is our glory to be engaged in useful service. Our rites and usages are not merely a proud possession to be treasured for their beauty and antiquity. They are instruments imparted to us to be used. Hence we may properly inquire, what can we make of this wonderful tradition of which we are the custodians that will serve the world of today?
One is indeed rash who essays a philosophy of Masonry after such masters as Krause and Oliver and Pike. But I have tried to show heretofore how largely their philosophies of Masonry grew out of the time and the philosophical situation at the time when they severally thought and wrote. Thus Preston wrote in the so-called "age of reason," when Knowledge was supposed to be the one thing needful. Krause wrote moral philosophy, so-called, was a chief concern in Germany, and he was primarily a leader in the philosophy of law. Oliver wrote under the influence of Romanticism in England, at a time when German idealism was coming into English thought. Pike wrote under the influence of the reaction from the materialism of last half of the nineteenth century and under the influence of the nineteenth century metaphysical method of unifying all things by reference to some basic absolute principle.
In the same way a present-day philosophy of Masonry will necessarily relate itself to present-day modes of thought and to the present situation in philosophy. Consequently we may predict that it will have four characteristics.
- Its metaphysical creed will be either idealistic-monistic — or else pragmatist-pluralistic. Although my personal sympathies are with the latter view, so that in a sense I should range myself with Preston and Krause rather than with Oliver and Pike, I suspect that our twentieth-century Masonic philosopher will adhere to the former. He will probably hold, to quote Paulsen, that "reality, which is represented to our senses by the corporeal world as a uniform system of movements, is the manifestation of a universal spiritual life that is to be conceived as an idea, as the development of a unitary reason, a reason which infinitely transcends our notions." Hence he will probably range himself with Oliver and Pike. But he will despair of comprehending this reason through knowledge or through tradition or of completely expressing it in a single word. And so, if by chance he should be a pragmatist, the result will not be very different, since the philosophy of Masonry is a part of applied philosophy and the results count for more than the exact method of attaining them. Moreover in the three following characteristics, idealist and pragmatist will agree, merely coming to the same results by different routes.
- Its psychology will be voluntaristic rather than intellectualistic; that is, under the influence of modern biology it will insist upon giving a chief place to the will. It will have faith in the efficacy of conscious human effort.
- What is more important for our purpose, its standpoint will be teleological. To quote Paulsen once more: "Ethics and sociology, jurisprudence and politics are about to give up the old formalistic treatment and to employ instead the teleological method: purpose governs life, hence the science of life, of individual as well as of collective life, must employ this principle." In other words, as it would have been put formerly, the philosophy of Masonry will be treated as a part of practical rather than of pure philosophy.
- It will have its roots in history. This is the distinguishing mark of modern philosophical thought. The older philosophies conceived of reality along the lines of mathematics and of the physical sciences. Today we endeavor to interpret nature historically. As Paulsen says, we essay to interpret it "according to a logical genetical scheme."
Such are the lines which modern philosophy is following, and such, we may be confident, are the lines which the philosophy of Masonry will follow, unless, indeed, some philosopher of the stamp of Krause, capable of striking out new paths in philosophy at large, should busy himself with this special field. Can we construct a philosophy of Masonry that will conform to these lines? In attempting to answer this question, I should lay down three fundamental principles at the outset: (1) We must not be dogmatic. We must remember that our ideal is the ideal of an epoch, to serve the needs of time and place. (2) Nevertheless we must seek an end. We must have before us the idea of purpose, since we are in the realm of practical philosophy. (3) We must base our conception of the ideal of our Masonic epoch and our idea of purpose upon the history of institutions. Thus we get three modes of approach to our immediate subject.
1. Let us first turn to the current philosophies and inquire what they may do for us. How far may we build on some one or on all of them? What does Masonry call for which they can or cannot give?
The oldest and perhaps the most authoritative system of philosophy current today is absolute idealism, in many forms, indeed, but with a recognizable essential unity. This philosophy puts life in a world of thought. It thinks of the world of experience which we perceive through our senses as appearance. Reality is in the world of thought. But these are not two distinct worlds. Rather they are related as cause and effect, as that which animates and that which is animated. It regards God, not as a power outside of the world and transcending it, but as that which permeates it and connects it and gives it unity. It regards reality as a connected, a unified whole and conceives that life is real in so far as it is a part of this whole. Hence it conceives we must turn steadfastly and courageously from the superficial realm of appearance in which our senses put us, and set ourselves "in the depth of reality"; we are to bring ourselves into relation with the whole and to develop ourselves from within so as to reach the whole. To use Eucken's phrases, each life is to "evolve a morality in the sense of taking up the whole into one's own volition" and subjecting "caprice to the necessity of things," that is, to their necessary inner interconnection. In this theory of life, the central point is spiritual creative activity. Everything else is but the environment, the means or the logical presupposition. Man is to be raised above himself and is to be saved by spiritual creation.
This philosophy of scholars and for scholars is not a philosophy for Masons. Indeed Pike said of his idealistic system of Masonic philosophy that it was not the Masonry of the multitude. And for this very reason that it is essentially aristocratic, the old idealistic philosophy is fighting a sure though obstinate retreat in our democratic age. There are periods of creative energy in the world and there are periods in which what has been created is organized and assimilated. In the periods of creation, those to whom spiritual creative power is given are relatively few. In a period of assimilation they are few indeed. In such a time, to quote Eucken, the life pictured by the idealist "tends to become mere imagination." "The man imbued with [its] spirit . . . easily seems to himself more than he is; with a false self-consciousness talks and feels as if he were at a supreme height; lives less his own life than an alien one. Sooner or later opposition must necessarily arise against such a half life, such a life of pretence, and this opposition will become especially strong if it is animated by the desire that all who bear human features should participate in the chief goods of our existence and freely co-operate in the highest tasks. . . And so the aristocratic character of Immanent Idealism produces a type of life rigidly exclusive, harsh and intolerable."
Another type of philosophy, which has become more and more current with the advance of science, has been called Naturalism. This philosophy rejects the spiritual life entirely, denying its independence and holding it nothing but a phase or an incident of the existence revealed by the senses. There is no spiritual sphere. Of itself, the spiritual can create nothing. Nor is life anything in itself. All things are valued in terms of biology and of economics. Nothing is intrinsically valuable. Truth means only correct adjustment to the environment; the good is that which best preserves life; the moral is that which makes for social life; the beautiful is a form of the useful. Self preservation is the real inspiration of conduct. I need not argue that this is not a philosophy for Masons, who have faith in God for one of their landmarks. Whatever else we may be consistently with a naturalistic philosophy, we cannot be Masons. For if there is any one test of a Mason it is a test wholly incompatible with this rejection of the spiritual.
Closely connected with naturalism are a variety of social philosophies which have come to have much vogue and in one form, socialism, have given rise to an active propaganda involving almost religious fervor. These philosophies reject the individual life, and hence the individual spiritual life. So far as the individual will is regarded it is because of a social interest in the individual social life. As political or social philosophies some of these systems have very great value. But when they are expanded into universal systems and make material welfare in society — a very proper end in political philosophy — the sole end of the individual life, when they reject the spiritual independence of the individual by making "the judgment of society the test of truth" and expect him to submit his views of good and evil to the arbitrament of a show of hands, when they ignore individual creation and think only of distributing, they run counter to Masonic landmarks, so that we cannot accept them and continue to be Masons. For we hold as Masons that there is a spiritual part of man. We hold that the individual is to construct a moral and spiritual edifice within himself by earnest labor, not to receive one ready-made by a referendum to the judgment of society. Understand me. I do not assert that modern social philosophies are to be cast out utterly. In law, in politics, in social science some of them are achieving great things. But we must think of them as applications, not as universal systems. The problem of the individual life, the demands of the individual spiritual life, which they ignore, are matters of vital concern to the Mason, and he calls for a philosophy which takes account of them. To quote Eucken once more, we cannot assent that the "world of sense is the sole world of man" nor can we "find life entirely in the relation to the environment, be it nature or society."
By way of revolt from naturalistic and social philosophies a modern movement has arisen which has been called aesthetic individualism. It is distinctly a literary and artistic movement and for that very reason ignores the mass of humanity and falls short of our basic Masonic requirement of universality. But it demands a moment's consideration as one of the significant modes of modern thought. In aesthetic individualism, we are told, "the center of life is transferred into the inner tissue of self-consciousness. With the development of this self-consciousness, life appears to be placed entirely on its own resources and directed towards itself. Through all change of circumstances and conditions it remains undisturbed; in all the infinity of that which happens to it, it feels that it is supreme. All external manifestation is valuable to it as an unfolding of its own being; it never experiences things, but only itself." Hence to the aesthetic individualist the end is to "make all the relations and all the externals of life as individual as possible." He is not to sacrifice the present to the future; he is to reject everything that subjects the development of life to universal standards; he is to ignore all those conventions that fit men into the social order and instead is to cultivate a free relation of individual to individual. To those who accept this doctrine "what is usually called morality is considered to be only a statute of the community, a means by which it seeks to rob the individualist the end is to "make all the relations and all the itself." This philosophy of artists and for artists is too palpably impossible for the Masonic philosopher to require further discussion.
If we turn from these disappointing modern theories of the end of life to systems of applied philosophy, we may do better. Here the idealists have a more fruitful program. Where Hegel regarded all things as the unfolding of an idea either logically or in experience, the recent followers of Hegel, who are the most active force in recent social philosophy, say rather that all social and political and legal institutions are manifestations of civilization. To them the idea which is unfolding in all things human is not some single metaphysical principle; it is the complex idea of human civilization. Our institutions are resultants of the civilization of the past and of attempts to adapt them as we received them, to the civilization of the present. Our task as members of society is to advance civilization by exerting ourselves consciously and intelligently to that end. Every man may do this in some measure in his time and place. So every man may, if he will, retard or obstruct civilization in some degree in his time and place. But from the fact that he is a man and as such a factor in society actually or potentially, he is charged with a duty of exerting himself to maintain and advance civilization, of which as the ultimate idea, society is a mere agent. So far as we may, we must each of us discover the principles which are presupposed by the civilization of today and we must exert ourselves consciously to mold institutions thereto and to regulate conduct thereby. The universal thing, the reality is civilization among men. To paraphrase a well-known formula, God is the eternal, not ourselves, that makes for civilization. Here, then, we have a modern system that comports with the fundamenta of Masonry and with our philosophical demands. It recognizes the spiritual side of man as something which civilization both presupposes and develops. It has a God. It is not for a scholarly or artistic aristocracy. It is of and for all men as partakers in and, if they will be, agents of a universal human culture. Moreover it meets our first requirement. It is not dogmatic. It recognizes that civilization is something that is constantly advancing and hence is changing. It realizes that civilization, for that very reason, is a matter of time and place and hence that the principles it presupposes at any time and place, which we take for our ideals, are ideals of an epoch and principles to serve the needs of time and place. And yet all these stages transient forms of human culture merge in a general and a constantly growing human civilization which is the reality both in ourselves and outside of ourselves.
2. Again the new idealism of practical philosophy meets our second requirement. Even though its adherents recognize that they have no absolute formula for all times, for all places, for all peoples, they have an end, they put before us a purpose. Each of us and all of us are to make for human civilization. Each of us by developing himself as a civilized, in the real sense, as a cultured man according to his lights and his circumstances can find reality in himself and can bring others and the whole nearer to the reality for which we are consciously or unconsciously striving — the civilization of mankind. The knowledge which Preston sought to advance, the perfection of man at which Krause aimed, the relation to God which Oliver sought to attain and the harmony and through it control of the universe which Pike took for the goal, may well be regarded as phases of and as summed up in the one idea of human civilization.
3. How far does this new idealism, or as its adherents call it, this neo-Hegelianism, meet our third requirement? Has it a sound basis in the history of human institutions generally and the history of our institution in particular? Here at least the Masonic neo- idealist is upon sure ground.
Anthropologists and sociologists have shown us that next to the family, which indeed antedates society, the most primitive and most universal of social institutions is the association of grown men in a secret society. The simplest and earliest of the institutions of social man is the "men's house" — a separate house for the men of the tribe which has some analogies among civilized peoples of antiquity, e.g. the common meal of the citizens at Sparta, the assembly of the men in the agora in an ancient Greek community and the meeting of the Roman citizens in assembly in the ancient polity of the Roman city. In this men's house of a primitive tribe is the center of social life. Here the most precious belongings of the community, its religious emblems and its trophies taken in war, are preserved. Here the young men of the tribe gather as a visible token of their separation from their families and their entrance upon the duties and responsibilities of tribal life. Here the elders and leaders have seats according to their dignity and importance. Women and children may not enter; it is the house of the grown men. This wide-spread primitive institution develops in different ways. Sometimes it results in what are practically barracks for the fighting men of the community, as at Sparta and among some primitive peoples today. Sometimes it becomes a religious center and ultimately in substance a temple. Usually it becomes the center of another stage of social development, that is, of what anthropologists call "the puberty initiation ceremonies" and thence of still another stage, the primitive secret society. And as these societies develop, replacing the earlier tribal puberty initiations, the men's house, as the seat of these organizations, becomes the secret lodge. Hence in this oldest of social institutions, rather than on the highest hills and in the lowest dales of our lectures, we may find the first Masonry.
It is a natural instinct, so sociologists tell us, that leads men of the same age, who have the same interests and the same duties, to group themselves accordingly and to separate to some extent from other groups. In obedience to this instinct, we are told that four classes of the male members of a tribe set themselves off: (1) The boys who have not yet arrived at puberty; (2) unmarried youths; (3) mature men on whom the duties and responsibilities of tribesmen rest, and (4) old men, the repositories of tribal wisdom and the directors of the community. On the attainment of puberty, the boy is taken into the men's house and as it were initiated into manhood. In due time he becomes tribesman and warrior. In process of time his eldest son has himself reached manhood and the father becomes an elder, retired from active service. Thus the men of the tribe become in substance a secret association divided into two or three grades or classes out of which, we are told, as a later development, grow the degrees of primitive secret societies. For the passage from one of these classes to another almost universally among primitive peoples is accompanied by secret initiatory ceremonies, and among almost all primitive peoples, the initiatory ceremonies at puberty are the most solemn and important event in a man's life. Usually they are more or less dramatic. They begin with some sort of ordeal. Often there is a symbolic raising from death to life to show that the child is dead and that a man has risen in his place. Often a great deal of symbolism is employed and there follows something very like a lecture, explaining the ceremony. Always they involve an impressive instruction in the science and the morality of the tribe and an impressive inculcation of obedience.
In time these initiatory ceremonies degenerate or develop, as the case may be, into tribal secret societies pure and simple, and with the progress of civilization and the rise of political and religious systems these societies also decay or lose their character. Thus eventually, out of this primitive institution of the men's house, which on one side has grown into political organization, on another side, through the initiatory ceremonies, no less than six institutions are developed among different peoples. First there are political, magical and more or less fraudulent secret societies, which are extremely common in Africa today. Second, there are clan ceremonies, becoming in time state ceremonies and state religions. Antiquity abounds in examples of the importance which men attached to these ceremonies. For example, the dictator Fabius, at a critical moment in the campaign against Hannibal, left the army in order to repair to the proper place and perform the clan sacrifices as head of the Fabian gens. Third, there are religious societies, with elaborate ceremonies for the reception of the novice. Such societies exist in Thibet and among the Hindus in striking forms. Fourth, there are the mysteries of antiquity, for example, the Egyptian and the Eleusinian, or sometimes a mixture of the third and fourth, as in the case of the Essenes. Fifth, there are trade societies on the fraternal model, such as the Roman collegia and the trade and operative guilds. Finally there are purely charitable associations, such as the Roman burial societies. Each of these, it will be noted, develops or preserves some side of the primitive tribal secret society. The political and magical societies develop or preserve their political and medical traditions; the clan ceremonies, their function of promoting solidarity by ancestor worship; the religious societies, their moral and religious functions; the mysteries, their symbolical instruction; the trade societies, their function of instruction in useful knowledge; the charitable societies, their function of binding men to duties of relief and of mutual assistance. All preserve the memory of their origin in a tribe of kinsmen by the fiction of brotherhood which they strive to make real by teaching and practice.
The relation of Masonry to this development of societies out of the primitive men's house, as described by non-Masonic scholars with no thought of Masonry, is so obvious, that we may no longer laugh at Oliver's ambitious attempts to find Masonry in the very beginning of things. But apart from its bearing upon Masonic history, this discovery of the anthropologists is significant for Masonic philosophy. For in this same men's house are the germs of civilization; the development of the men's house is a development of civilization, and its end and purpose and the end and purpose of all the legitimate institutions that have grown out of it have been from the beginning to preserve, further and hand down the civilization of the tribe or people. In our universal society, therefore, the end is, and as we study our old charges and our lectures we see it has always been, to preserve, further and hand down a universal, human civilization.
Thus we are enabled to answer the three problems of Masonic philosophy.
- What is the end of Masonry; for what do we exist as an organization? The answer of the Masonic neo-idealist would be that our end in common with all social institutions is to preserve, to develop and to transmit to posterity the civilization wrought by our fathers and passed on to us.
- What is the place of Masonry in a rational scheme of human activity? What is its relation to other kindred activities? The answer would be, that it is an organization of human effort along the universal lines on which all may agree in order to realize our faith in the efficacy of conscious effort in preserving and promoting civilization. What other human organizations do along lines of caste or creed or within political or territorial limits hampered by the limits of political feeling or local prejudice, we seek to achieve by universality — by organizing the universal elements in man that make for culture and civilization.
- How does Masonry achieve its end? Our answer would be that it makes for civilization by its insistence on the solidarity of humanity, by its insistence on universality and by the preservation and transmission of an immemorial tradition of human solidarity and of universality. So conceived, this tradition becomes a force of the first moment in maintaining and advancing civilization. And in this way we connect on the one hand with the practical systems of Preston and of Krause. The ideal of the eighteenth century was knowledge. The ideal of the nineteenth century was the individual moral life. The ideal of the twentieth century, I take it, is the universal human life. But what are these but means toward the advance of human culture? And on the other hand we connect also with Oliver and with Pike. For they were idealists and so are we. Only they sought a simple, static idea of which the universe was a manifestation or an unfolding. We turn rather to a complex and growing idea and claim to do no more than interpret it in terms of the ideals of the time and place.
My brethren, we of all men, owe it to ourselves and to the world, to be universal in spirit. Universality is a lesson the whole world is learning and must learn. But we ought to know it well already. We ought to be upon the front bench of the world's school, setting an example to our more backward school-fellows. Wherever in the world there is a lodge of Masons, there should be a focus of civilization, a center of the idea of universality, radiating reason to put down prejudice and advance justice in the disputes of peoples, and in the disputes of classes, and making for the peace and harmony and civilization that should prevail in this great lodge of the world.
Moreover, the idea of universality has a special message to the Mason for the good of Masonry. Every world-organization hitherto has been wrecked ultimately upon its own dogmatism. It has taken the dogmas, the interpretations, the philosophy of its youth for a fixed order of nature. It has assumed that universality consisted in forcing these dogmas, these interpretations, this philosophy upon all times to come. While it has rested serene in the ruts made by its own prosperity, the world has marched by it unseen. We have a glorious body of tradition handed down to us from the past, which we owe it to transmit unimpaired to the future. But let us understand what in it is fundamental and eternal, and what is mere interpretation to make it of service to the past. Let us while we have it use it well to make it of service to the present. Yet let us fasten upon it nothing hard and fast that serves well enough to make it useful today, but may make it useless tomorrow. As the apprentice stands in the corner of the lodge, the working tools are put in his hands and he is taught their uses. But they are not his. They are the tools of the lodge. He is to use them that the Worshipful Master may have pleasure and the Craft profit. The Grand Master of the Universe has entrusted to us the principles of Masonry as working tools. They, too, are not ours, they belong to the lodge of the world. We are to use them that He may have pleasure and the Craft of humanity that labors in this wide lodge of the world may profit thereby.
THE ESTABLISHMENT AND EARLY DAYS OF MASONRY IN AMERICA
Brother Melvin M. Johnson
Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts
NO study of Modern Masonry is intelligible without an understanding of the events of the year 1717. This has been generally known as the year of the "Revival of Masonry." More properly, it should be called the year of Masonry's Transmutation or Reincarnation, for then occurred a remarkable change in the structure of the institution. And an equally remarkable change in its substance and character focuses upon that year. Prior thereto, Masonry was an operative institution with speculative features. In 1717, it became a speculative institution and promptly dropped all operative features except the use of tools and implements of operative Masons as symbols. Prior to that year there never had been a Grand Lodge, although there were occasional Assemblies of Masons of vicinities. Since that time Grand Lodges have been the controlling authority of the Institution. Prior to that time, "a sufficient number of Masons met together within a certain district with the consent of the Chief Magistrate of the place, were empowered to make Masons, and practice the Rite of Masonry without a Warrant or Constitution." On the 24th of June, 1717, at the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in Saint Paul's Churchyard, London, the Grand Lodge of England was organized, and among a variety of regulations which were proposed and agreed to at this meeting was the following:
"That the privilege of assembling as Masons, which had hitherto been unlimited, should be vested in certain lodges or assemblies of Masons convened in certain places; and that every lodge to be hereafter convened, except the four old lodges at this time existing, should be legally authorized to act by a warrant from the Grand Master for the time being, granted to certain individuals by petition, with the consent and approbation of the Grand Lodge in communication; and that without such warrant no lodge should be hereafter deemed regular or constitutional."
This regulation in a more elaborate and accurate form was among those compiled by George Payne in 1720 when he was Grand Master, and adopted by the Grand Lodge of England on Saint John the Baptist's Day in 1721, as follows:
"No set or number of Brethren shall withdraw or separate themselves from the lodge in which they were made Brethren, or were afterwards admitted members, unless the Lodge becomes too numerous; nor even then, without a Dispensation from the Grand Master or his Deputy; and when they are thus separated, they must either immediately join themselves to such other Lodge as they shall like best, with the unanimous consent of that other Lodge to which they go (as above regulated) or else they must obtain the Grand Master's Warrant to join in forming a new Lodge."
"If any set or number of Masons shall take upon themselves to form a Lodge without the Grand Master's Warrant the regular Lodges are not to countenance them, nor own them as fair Brethren and duly formed, nor approve of their acts and deeds; but must treat them as rebels, until they humble themselves, as the Grand Master shall in his prudence direct, and until he approve of them by his Warrant, which must be signified to the other Lodges as the custom is when a new Lodge is to be registered in the list of Lodges." (Anderson's Constitutions )
These Regulations were adopted for the government of all lodges thereafter, at least so far as the Grand Lodge of England extended its jurisdiction. That jurisdiction was almost immediately extended by deputation and otherwise throughout England and over all British possessions. An edition of the printed Regulations was first printed for the use of the lodges in and about London in 1723. The first edition printed in America was that published by Franklin in Philadelphia in 1734, though copies of the English edition, both in print and in manuscript, are known to have been previously in the possession of the brethren of Boston, Mass., and Portsmouth, N. H., and regarded by them, as by Franklin, as the constitutional and fundamental law of the Masonic Fraternity.
In considering the history of Masonry as well in America as elsewhere, it is necessary to remember, therefore, that before the adoption of these regulations, Lodges were regular though meeting without Charter, Warrant, Deputation, or other specific authority than that which was inherent in the Masons themselves. Such meetings may properly be called "Lodges according to the ancient custom," but subsequent to the adoption of these regulations no Lodge in the world has been regular, unless organized prior to 1717, or unless meeting by authority of a Gland Lodge or its Grand Master. Always bearing this sharp line of demarkation in mind, we may turn to a study of the early days of Masonry in America.
"The Masonic emblems, Square and Compass, with the date 1606, large and deeply cut on a flat slab of trap rock and much worn by time and weather, but still quite distinct, were discovered in 1827 upon the shore of Goat Island in Annapolis Basin, Nova Scotia. Historians have concluded that this was a stone upon which the French had engraved the date of their first cultivation of the soil in memorial of their formal possession of the country."
This is the earliest footprint of Masonry in America, but about it we probably shall never know more, though we may well infer that Masons enthusiastic enough to have left this monument would have met and worked "according to the ancient custom."
1656 or 1658.
There is a legend of modern fabrication that certain Hebrews were given the "Degrees of Maconrie" in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1656 or 1658. The authority for this legend is claimed to be a document, dilapidated and indistinct "found among the effects of a distant relative of Brother N. H. Gould." Persistent inquiry has failed to gain a view of this precious document or a clue to its whereabouts. No credit is given to it by the Masonic students of Rhode Island and it is doubtless a figment of someone's vivid imagination. I challenge its production for inspection. If the stories told about it are true, then its falsity is self-evident for in those days there were no such things known as "degrees" in Masonry. There were ranks among the workmen but "degrees" were unknown until after 1717. The "Degree" system of Blue Lodge Masonry was fabricated in part from the earlier ceremonial of making, by Desaguliers, Payne, Anderson and their collaborators during the decade following the organization of the Grand Lodge of England, in 1717.
No presence of Masons or Masonry in the Western Hemisphere is historically established until 1705. The senior Mason of America of whose membership there is historical proof is Brother Jonathan Belcher, Colonial Governor of Massachusetts from 1730 to 1741, who was born at Cambridge, Mass., January 8, 1681. After graduating at Harvard in 1699, he visited England remaining for six years, and in 1704 was there made a Mason. He returned to Boston in 1705, remaining there as Governor until 1741. Governor Belcher was an enthusiastic Mason. On Saint John the Baptist's Day in 1737 occurred the first public procession of the Fraternity in America, Governor Belcher being in the line as it passed from his official residence to the Royal Exchange Tavern in King St., Boston, where the Feast of Saint John was celebrated. He was entertained by the Fraternity of Boston on February 9, 1743-4, and soon after sailed for England where he visited the Grand Lodge, bearing testimonials from the First Lodge in Boston. To his son, Andrew, reference will be made later.
If the foundation of Masonry in America is to date from the first presence here of members of the Craft, then precedence must be given to Boston as its first home in the New World.
A legend, which unfortunately has been given undue credence by some Masonic historians, relates that one John Moore, collector of the Port of Philadelphia as early as 1703, wrote a letter in 1715 in which he speaks of having "spent a few evenings in festivity with my Masonic Brethren." I do not doubt the presence of Masons in various parts of the American Colonies in 1715 including both Philadelphia and Boston but regard statements about the "John Moore letter" as pure fabrication. If Horace W. Smith ever had it, as alleged, it ought to be produced or its absence accounted for. Careful inquiry among his acquaintances discloses repeated but unsuccessful attempts to see it. I am unable to find any one among his contemporaries or among those having had the best opportunities to talk with Mr. Smith and to see the document, if it existed, who believes there ever was such a letter. I should not have given it any notice in this article had it not been for the fact that Bro. Newton has referred to it in "The Builders," accepting this and some other erroneous statements of Brothers Hughan and Stillson at their face value. These Brothers were learned historians of the highest standing, but they were not infallible. Even Homer nods.
Rev. Mr. Montague, who many years ago was settled at Dedham, Mass., was on a committee to investigate the title of King's Chapel in Boston to certain property rights. While investigating this subject abroad he discovered that a Lodge of Masons had met in King's Chapel, Boston, in 1720, though the meetings were shortly discontinued. Bro. Sachse, the learned historian and librarian of Philadelphia, has kindly informed me that confirmation of the assertion that Masonic meetings were held in Boston in these early days is to be found in the library of the American Philosophical Society.
The official records of the port of Boston show that on September 18, 1721, the vessel "Freemason" owned in Boston, cleared from there for the West Indies. Her Boston owner or owners must have been of the Fraternity to choose this name. It seems fair to assume though here my reasoning is solely upon probabilities — that Belcher and the ship-owner were not the only Masons in Boston in those days. Boston was then quite a populous town containing many immigrates from England. The type of her citizens favors this conclusion. Is it not likely that they met together?
The above historical facts, coupled with Masonic tradition and sound reasoning, lead irresistibly to the conclusion that Lodges "according to the ancient custom" met in Boston and doubtless in other of the British Colonies of America prior to the adoption and promulgation of the above Regulations of 1721. They were perfectly regular "according to the ancient custom." It was not usual in those days to make, much less to preserve, records of these evanescent Lodges, and therefore we are without historical evidence of most of the Masonic occurrences of these early days.
If, then, Masonry in America is to date from the first meetings of Masons upon her newly settled shores, it must date from the Lodge held in King's Chapel in 1720 and precedence be given to Boston.
We learn from the Pennsylvania Gazetteof December, 1730, printed by Benjamin Franklin, and from an account book kept by him which begins June 24, 1731, that Lodges were then meeting in Philadelphia. All Masonic historians agree that these were Lodges "according to the ancient custom," that it to say without Warrant or other extraneous authority. Such lodges, however, since the promulgation of the above Regulations of 1721 were irregular and clandestine.
If this be not granted as an axiom, it certainly must be conceded that they were such from the moment that England asserted her authority over the colonies here, for there does not exist in the United States or Canada a single regular Lodge today which is not held by authority derived directly or mediately from what is today the Grand Lodge of England — the body organized in 1717.
In making this assertion, I am not unmindful of those charters or warrants emanating from the schismatic Grand Lodge of "Ancients" which played prodigal for half a century but which more than a century ago returned home and was welcomed with open arms by His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, Grand Master of the legitimate Grand Lodge, who thereafter for many years presided over the re-united family.
Authority over the colonies was definitely asserted at least as early as June 5, 1730, when the Grand Master of England issued a Deputation to Brother Daniel Coxe, as Provincial Grand Master for the Provinces of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania for the period of two years. There is no evidence whatever that Daniel Coxe ever exercised this deputation, or even that he was on this side of the ocean during the two years therein named. Indeed historians are agreed that during that period he remained in England, endeavoring to perfect his title to nearly half the Continent of North America which he claimed to own by virtue of a grant to his father, who was physician to Charles I. and Charles II. Had Coxe ever exercised this deputation, he would have been the founder of duly constituted Masonry in America, but the non-exercise of his deputation renders his name a negligible one in the history of Freemasonry in this country. It is certain that Coxe was in England as late as Jan. 29, 1731, for on that day he was present at a meeting of the Grand Lodge of England. During that year he was registered as a member of Lodge No. 8 at the Devil Tavern within Temple Bar. This was the year after the issuance of his deputation. I can find no indication of his presence in America between 1728 and 1734, before which latter date his commission had long since expired.
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston Jan. 17, 1706. He left Boston in October, 1723, although he was again in Boston the following year. On October 11, 1726, he arrived in Philadelphia after a trip to London. In 1730 Franklin was not a Mason. He was then twenty-four years old and was publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette. In its issue of December 8, 1730, he republished what had been circulating for some time in England as an exposure of Masonry. This may have aroused his interest in the Institution, for in February, 1731, he was made a Mason in Philadelphia in a Lodge which, though without a Warrant or Charter, apparently made Masons as did the various irregular assemblies or Lodges referred to above. On June 26, 1732, the Pennsylvania Gazettespeaks of Franklin as Junior Grand Warden. That Franklin himself recognized the irregular character of whatever Masonry there then was in Pennsylvania will subsequently appear.
We now come to the time of the appearance of Henry Price as Provincial Grand Master in America. Henry Price was born in London, 1697, as appears by his original gravestone now in the Masonic Temple, Boston. It is recorded upon this gravestone that he removed to Boston in 1723. If so, he returned to England, for it is recorded in the minutes of the Grand Lodge of England that in 1730 Price was a member of Lodge No. 75, meeting at Rainbow Coffee House in York Buildings. This Lodge is now The Britannic, No. 33.
Under date of April 2, 1733, the Right Honorable and Right Worshipful Anthony Lord Viscount Montague, Grand Master of the Free and Accepted Masons of England, issued his deputation, saying, "We have Nominated, Ordained Constituted and appointed and do by these Presents Nominate, Ordain, Constitute and appoint Our said Worshipful and well Beloved Brother Mr. Henry Price, Provincial Grand Master of New England aforesaid and Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging." It authorized him to appoint his Deputy Grand Master and Grand Wardens, and "To constitute the Brethren (Free and Accepted Masons) now Residing or who shall hereafter reside in those parts, into One or more Regular Lodge or Lodges, as he shall think fit, and as often as Occasion shall require." This deputation very carefully distinguished between regular and irregular Masons. Price came promptly to Boston and on July 30 of the same year formed his Provincial Grand Lodge. On the same evening he received a petition for the organization of the first Lodge in Boston. The original petition is still in the archives of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
I am inclined to believe — though I cannot assert it as being a proven fact — that among those who applied to Henry Price on July 30, 1733, for the Charter of the First Lodge in Boston, were a number of Brethren who had been made Masons in America in some of those earlier irregular Lodges referred to. This applies (as shown by the Pelham list written in 1751, still in the Massachusetts archives) to Bros. James Gordon, William Gordon, Andrew Haliburton, Samuel Pemberton, Thomas Moloney, Robert Peasley, John Gordon, and John Baker, all of whom signed the petition.
Price granted the prayer of this petition and on Aug. 31, 1733, constituted the First Lodge in Boston. On October 24 this First Lodge in Boston adopted its By-Laws.
Price immediately became a prominent man in the affairs of the Colony. His close associations with Governor Belcher are shown by the fact that the Governor appointed him Cornet with the rank of Major and Governor Belcher's son Andrew, then Register of Probate for Suffolk County, was the first appointee of Price as Deputy Grand Master.
In 1734 Henry Price's Commission was extended over all North America. This appears not only from the Proceedings of the Provincial Grand Lodge, but also over the signature of our Brother Benjamin Franklin who was closely in touch with Masonic affairs in Boston. He was in Boston in the spring of 1731, and probably present at the celebration of the Feast of St. John the Baptist on June 24. In August of this year there was an advertisement in the Boston newspapers of the Constitutions as published by him. As the head of the Fraternity in Philadelphia, on November 28, 1734, he wrote two letters to Price, one official and one personal, as follows:
The Official Letter.
Right Worshipful Grand Master and Most Worthy and Dear Brethren:
We acknowledge your favor of the 23d of October past, and rejoice that the Grand Master (whom God Bless) hath so happily recovered from his late indisposition: and we now, glass in hand, drink to the establishment of his health, and the prosperity of your whole Lodge.
We have seen in the Boston prints an article of news from London, importing that at a Grand Lodge held there in August last, Mr. Price's deputation and power was extended over all America, which advice we hope is true, and we heartily congratulate him thereupon, and though this has not been as yet regularly signified to us by you, yet, giving credit thereto, we think it our duty to lay before your Lodge what we apprehend needful to be done for us, in order to promote and strengthen the interest of Masonry in this Province. (which seems to want the sanction of some authority derived from home, to give the proceedings and determination of our Lodge their due weight) to-wit, a Deputation or Charter granted by the Right Worshipful Mr. Price, by virtue of his Commission from Britain, confirming the Brethren of Pennsylvania in the privileges they at present enjoy of holding annually their Grand Lodge, choosing their Grand Master, Wardens and other officers, who may manage all affairs relating to the Brethren here with full power and authority, according to the customs and usages of Masons, the said Grand Master of Pennsylvania only yielding his chair, when the Grand Master of all America shall be in place. This, if it seems good and reasonable to you to grant, will not only be extremely agreeable to us, but will also, we are confident, conduce much to the welfare, establishment, and reputation of Masonry in these parts. We therefore submit it for your consideration, and, as we hope our request will be complied with, we desire that it may be done as soon as possible, and also accompanied with a copy of the R. W. Grand Master's first Deputation, and of the instrument by which it appears to be enlarged as above mentioned, witnessed by your Wardens, and signed by the Secretary; for which favors this Lodge doubt not of being able to behave as not to be thought ungrateful.
We are, Right Worshipful Grand Master and Most Worthy Brethren,
Your Affectionate Brethren and obliged humble Servants,
Signed at the request of the Lodge, Philadelphia, Nov. 28, 1734. B. Franklin, G. M.
The Personal Letter.
Dear Brother Price — I am glad to hear of your recovery. I hoped to have seen you here this Fall, agreeable to the expectation you were so good as to give me; but since sickness has prevented your coming while the weather was moderate. I have no room to flatter myself with a visit from you before the Spring, when a deputation of the Brethren here will have an opportunity of showing how much they esteem you. I beg leave to recommend their request to you, and to inform you, that some false and rebel Brethren, who are foreigners being about to set up a distinct Lodge in opposition to the old and true Brethren here, pretending to make Masons for a bowl of punch, and the Craft is like to come into disesteem among us unless the true Brethren are countenanced and distinguished by some special authority as herein desired. I entreat therefore, that whatever you shall think proper to do therein may be sent by the next post, if possible, or the next following.
I am, Your Affectionate Brother and humble servant,
B. Franklin, G. M Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Nov. 28, 1734.
P.S. — If more of the Constitutions are wanted among you, please hint it to me. (Address upon said letters:) "To Mr. Henry Price "At the Brazen Head "Boston, "N. E."
These letters were destroyed at the burning of Masonic Temple in Boston on April 6, 1864, prior to which time they hung in frames in the Temple observed by all men. In the official letter, Franklin, acting as he himself says at the request of his Lodge, acknowledges its want of lawful authority and prays that Henry Price by virtue of his Commission from Britain which had been extended over the whole of North America, would confirm the Brethren of Pennsylvania in the privileges they then enjoyed of holding their Lodge, etc., admitting that the Grand Master of Pennsylvania would thereafter yield his chair whenever the Grand Master of North America, to-wit, Henry Price, should be present. The prayer of Franklin was granted and thereafter he always kept closely in touch with the Provincial Grand Lodge in Boston as will subsequently appear.
Reference has now been made to all that is known of Masonry in the Western Hemisphere down to and including the founding of duly constituted Masonry in America. Laborious and thorough research of many learned and studious historians has been for many years devoted to the subject. In the early eighteenth century it was often proclaimed by those familiar with all the facts — including Henry Price himself — that Masonry in America originated in Boston. No one has yet successfully contradicted that claim. No one has ever presented any evidence whatever of the exercise here of any authority from the Mother Grand Lodge of the World, the Grand Lodge of England, prior to organization of the Provincial Grand Lodge in Boston on June 30, 1733. It is now settled beyond any attempted contradiction that Henry Price did act by lawful authority and under the first commission of any kind exercised on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. It is thus that Henry Price is the Founder of Duly Constituted Masonry in America, and his Provincial Grand Lodge the Mother Grand Lodge of the Western Hemisphere. That Grand Lodge has persisted without a break from his day to ours and is now the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
If the foundation of Masonry here is to date from the first exercise of lawful deputed authority, then precedence must be given to Boston and to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
* * *
Certainly it is heaven upon earth to have a man's mind move in Charity, rest in Providence, and turn upon the poles of Truth.
— Bacon.Essay on Truth.
* * *
AT THE WORLD'S HEART
I leant my ear to the world's heart,
(Beat, beat, beat!)
I leant my ear to the world's heat,
Where all its voices meet.
I heard them sound together
I heard them surge alone,
The far, the near, the nether,
The known — and the unknown.
From desert they rose and mountain,
From city and sea and plain,
And the voices, all, to one voice
Blent, in the bitter pain:
We are the people of Sorrow,
Haled from the silent earth,
Happy it is,
Happy is love —
Happier should be birth!
We come to the land of the living,
We go to the realm of death,
We bide a day,
And then — away!
O, why are we given breath?
I leant my ear to the world's heart,
(Long, long, long!)
A closer ear to the world's heart,
And lo — it beats more strong!
And the building of human beauty,
The crushing of human crime,
The music of human duty
Outclarioned fate and time.
Yea, over the cry of sorrow
And doubt that is ever brief
There rose the lay of the New Day,
The high voice of Belief:
We are the people of Patience,
Who wait — and look before,
Silent is birth,
Silent the tomb,
But silent life no more!
Our gods are becoming One God,
And tho' there is ever death,
We yet shall learn,
At some day's turn,
Why — why we are given breath!
— Calvin Rice.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree who hungry mouth is prest
Against the Earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray.
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
— Joyce Kilmer.
'Tis weary watching wave on wave,
And yet the tide heaves onward;
We climb, like carols, grave on grave,
That pave a pathway sunward;
We are driven back, for our next fray
A new strength to borrow,
And where the Vanguard camps today
The Rear will rest tomorrow!
— Gerald Massey.
"Ez fer war, I call it murder,
There you have it plain and flat;
I don't want to go no furder
Than my New Testament for that;
God hez sed so plump and fairly,
It's ez long ez it is broad,
And you've gut to git up airly
If you want to take in God."
— Bigelow Papers.
In men whom men declare divine
I find so much of sin and blot,
In men whom others class as ill
I find so much of goodness still,
I hesitate to draw the line
Where God has not.
— Arthur Clough.
Who little is doth little seek,
Him trifles satisfy;
The brave ascend the mountain-peak,
The highest need the high.
Who little seeks doth little gain,
Nor climbs above the clod;
The earthly on the earth remain;
The nobler soul seeks God.
— Emily Tolman.
WHAT is to be the future of Freemasonry? With increasing frequency this question is being asked in Masonic gatherings, and in one form or another it comes to ye editor almost every day in the letters that pour into his office. Save in a few instances, due to impatience, the spirit in which it is asked is not radical, much less revolutionary. Nevertheless, it is earnest, insistent, and profoundly significant. It does not mean that men are losing or have lost faith in Masonry, but that they are beginning to realize its latent power and its hitherto unguessed possibilities as an instrument for social service and the betterment of humanity.
There are those who regret, if they do not actually resent, the spirit of restlessness which more and more prevails in the Fraternity in respect to its future. Surely that is shortsightedness. What we should rather deplore is an attitude of settled self-satisfaction and smug complacency with things as they are. Everything advances, improves, broadens, and Masonry must keep step with the march of mankind, or step aside. An institution that does not, will not, or cannot adapt itself to the conditions and demands of the new and changed time in which we live, is doomed. Today thousands of men, especially young men, are asking of Masonry the very same question which she asked of them when they knocked at her door: Whence came you and what came you here to do? They are not irreverent. They are not radical iconoclasts. But they know that the demand of this age is for efficiency, and they are eager to have a part in making Masonry effective in the fulfillment of the great purpose for which it exists.
Between those who will let nothing alone and those who will allow nothing to be improved, there is a middle path of cautious progress and development. John Bright held it to be the study of a wise statesman to "make the past glide easily and safely into the future, without loss"; with which agrees the wisdom of Burke that the useful man is he who has "the disposition to conserve and the ability to improve." For, if we do not conserve what we have we cannot improve it, or apply it. Nor can we really conserve it without constantly improving and applying it. But we must have not only the wish but also the knowledge and ability to improve, else we shall lose what we have in blunderingly trying to get what we want. Therefore, if our young men are to serve Masonry and make it effective for its high end, they must be taught what Masonry is, whence it came, what it brought to us from the past, and what it is trying to do in this tangled and turbulent world. So and only so can they wisely conserve its holy and historic tradition and apply its spirit and teachings to the aroblems of the present.
Everywhere the signs of an awakening of the Masonic Spirit multiply, and for no gift of the Almighty, whose inspiration has given man understanding, ought we to be more grateful. Just because this is so; because the Craft hears the call of great opportunity, and feels the pressure of far-reaching demands, we must keep our minds clear and our hearts responsive, lest we be swept too far in one direction or turn aside into another. As for ye humble editor, he must confess that in regard to the fundamental principle and purpose of Masonry he is a standpatter who cannot be moved. For that very reason, in regard to the improvement and application of Masonry, the effort to make its ritual more radiant, its symbolism more luminous, its philosophy more understandable, its spirit more active and its labors more practical and efficient, he is a progressive who cannot be stopped. What is more, he is sure that this is the attitude of the great majority of the Craft, and that we are on the eve of a new day in Masonry.
This at least is manifestly true, as one of the ablest of our Masonic students puts it in a thoughtful letter: "Masonry ought to be more than a social club, or a dramatic society, or a charity institute, or a building association. Maybe it ought to be all these things, but it must be something more." Exactly; and he might have added that it is that Something More which has made Masonry what it is, preserved it through the ages, winning to it the homage and loyalty of brave and true men; and that Something More — by which we mean its sweet spirit of Brotherly Love, the wise Faith which it inspires, the simple Truths which it teaches, the passion for Liberty and Equality which it evokes, and the noble Spirituality which it cultivates — will yet make it what it ought to be, conserving its heroic tradition and giving shape to its future. More than an institution, more than a tradition, more than a society Masonry is one of the forms of the Divine Life upon earth; and a spirit so benign and beautiful, an influence so quiet and unresting, was never more needed than today.
Three paths would seem to be open to our Order, two of which are full of promise of fruitful achievement, and one, alas, dark with danger. First of all, Masonry can go on as it is, working quietly in behalf of unity, amity and friendship among men, bringing men of differing faiths and types of mind and effort together at its altar of light and prayer, the while it teaches them in parable, symbol and drama the truths that make it worth our time to live and let live, think and let think. Forming one great society over the whole round earth — a fraternity of free men, founded upon moral truth and spiritual faith — its mission is to make men friends, to refine and exalt their lives, to turn them from bigotry and falsehood to charity and love of truth. While not a religion, it religiously holds the right and duty of every man to worship in the way his heart loves best, granting to every other man the like precious privilege. Holding aloof from separate sects and parties, it lays emphasis upon the things that underlie all creeds and overarch all sects, seeking to bring about that great fellowship of humanity in which God is most truly found and known. Truly, no more worthy purpose can inspire any order than the earnest, active endeavor to bring men into closer fellowship with one another and with spiritual reality. This is as much needed today as ever before, and if Masonry did nothing else it would be entitled to the gratitude of humanity.
"What might be done? This might be done,
And more than this, my suffering Brother,
More than the tongue
E'er said or sung,
If men were wise and loved each other!"
Unfortunately, another path lies very near our feet just now, and many Masons are sorely tempted to take it, owing to the aggressive activity of influences which threaten, as they think, all that they hold dear. No doubt the provocation is great, and even a blind man a tree can see the facts which fill them with alarm, aIbeit he may also see how easily those facts may be undignified or distorted by anger and alarm. Admit that the facts are as dark as they are depicted, still there remains the question as to how we can best meet them, what should be our spirit and method. Fighting evil with evil is the ultimate folly. Not only does it fail, but the fighters become infected by the virus of the enemy whom they would overthrow, and so in the end are themselves overthrown. Every man and Mason will act when he is needed in the cause of liberty and righteousness, afraid of no one, quarrelling with no one, alert, wary, and without compromise. But to turn Masonry aside from its high tradition, and make of it a militant order to meddle in politics, is to invite disaster, alienating thousands of thoughtful men from its altar, and defeating the very end for which it exists. Let us never forget the wise words of Emerson, that "the largest is always the truest sentiment," and that we can only overcome evil with good.
Instead, let us renew our vows of loyalty to the great and far-shining principles of Freemasonry, and invoke its spirit to descend upon us anew, trusting the lower of Truth, the worth of Character, and the wisdom of Love. Any other course means ruin — which God forfend — making of Masonry only one more factor in the world of factional feud, an indistinguishable atom in a mass of sectarian and partisan agglomeration. The future of our Fraternity lies in a return to the faith of its fathers, in so far as we have departed from it; bringing the wisdom of the past to the service of the present; teaching the truth that makes men free, "with malice toward none, with charity for all"; showing in the quality of our private lives and public service what Masonry means and the kind of citizens it produces; in short, to make of Masonry today, on a large scale, what in former times it was on a small scale — an order of men initiated, sworn, and trained to make liberty, justice, sweet reasonableness and brotherly love prevail. There may be those who will think this a lame and impotent ending of an argument, to say nothing of a prophecy; but a longer pondering will show them, if they be wise, that the things which made Masonry great in days agone are the things which will make it greater in the future.
Stronger than steel
Is the sword of the Spirit;
Swifter than arrows
The light of the truth is,
Greater than anger
Is love, and subdueth.
Nor is the night starless;
Love is eternal!
God is still God, and
His faith shall not fail us,
Truth is eternal!
For the rest, ye editor does not believe in the infallibility of any man — not even in his own — and he may be in part or altogether wrong in what he has here set down. If so, he begs to be put to rights by his Brethren, and will listen to all they may have it in their hearts to say. Indeed, he invites a thorough discussion of the question, What is to be the future of Freemasonry? It must be much in the minds of thoughtful Masons today, living as we are in a time of upheaval, of questionings many and uncertainties not a few; the more so because, as a fact, we are answering the question whether we know it or not — making today the Masonry of tomorrow! Since the future will have nothing in it save what we bring to it and put into it, surely it behooves us to bethink ourselves betimes, never forgetting the words of the wise poet:
"Keep the young generations in hail,
Bequeath to them no tumbled house!"
* * *
It is with deep regret that we must record the sudden death of Brother Clement E. Stretton, of England, whose letter on "Operative Masons" appeared in the correspondence column of the last issue of The Builder. Details of his death have not reached us at this writing, but he will be missed in a large circle of Masonic friends and fellow-workers. His enthusiasm and industry in behalf of a better understanding and appreciation of old Operative Freemasonry seemed to have no limit, and his great desire, as he more than once confided in his letters, was to live to join in the celebration of the one thousandth anniversary of the old York Charter. Alas, my Brother!
* * *
Perhaps a half a hundred Brethren have asked who wrote the last lines quoted in the first issue of The Builder, "We drew a circle that took him in," which we adopted as the spirit and policy of this journal. They were written by Edwin Markham, and may be found on the first page of his new book of poems, "The Shoes of Happiness." Markham is well known for his lines to the Millet painting of The Man With the Hoe, and still better known for his unforgetable poem on Lincoln, each of which give title to his earlier books of songs. And he it was who wrote the noble lines beginning,
"The crest and crowning of all good,
Life's final star is Brotherhood."
* * *
In this issue Prof. Pound concludes his series of lectures on the Philosophy of Masonry, presenting what seems to him to be the working philosophy of Masonry for today. These lectures have been widely read, and justly so, for they deserve close study not only for their merit, but also for their method — a biographical glimpse of four great Masons of former times into whose labors we have entered, showing the spirit, purpose and teaching of each man against the background of the time in which he toiled; and then stating briefly the most significant and central feature of the point of view from which each looked upon Masonry and labored in its behalf. As announced in the last issue, the Society will publish these lectures in a little book, neatly bound, with pictures of the author and the men whom he has studied, Prof. Pound adding a preface and also a bibliography of each lecture to serve as a guide for those who may wish to study more in detail.
* * *
Several Lodges in different parts of the country have appointed a standing committee on the National Masonic Research Society, the better to co-operate with the Society, to increase its membership, and to bring the local Lodge into closer touch with its spirit and purpose. We are grateful for such evidences of good-will and partnership, and we believe that they will increase as the Brethren more and more realize that this is not a private scheme but a truly Masonic enterprise; that the Society is their Society; and that we are sincerely trying to work out the program as outlined, for the good of Masonry. If we have not shown that this is our solitary ambition and purpose, then it is because we are hopelessly stupid and do not know how to make ourselves understood.
* * *
News comes by letter from Mrs. Gould that her husband, Brother R. F. Gould, is seriously ill, and that grave fears are felt as to the outcome. Owing to the great age and infirmity of our distinguished and beloved brother, any kind of illness is dangerous; and by the time these words are read he may have "passed into the Eternal East," as the old time Masons used to say when one of their number fell asleep. He is one of the greatest Masons of recent times, and the debt which the Fraternity owes to his genius, his industry, and his tireless search for truth, is beyond all calculation. In personal life he is a most lovable man, gracious of spirit, loyal and courteous, encouraging to his younger brethren, thoughtful in his remembrance of his friends of many years — in all ways a true Master Mason, a well as a master of Masonry. News of his illness will cast a shadow over Masons of every land, by whom he is held in highest esteem alike for the nobility of his character and the fruitfulness of his service to our ancient and honorable Craft.
"IN A NOOK WITH A BOOK"
THE PROOF OF FAITH
BRETHREN, ye scribe is not conducting a Theological Seminary, though one might easily think so, judging from the number of questions of a religious sort which reach him in the quiet of the Library. Nevertheless, he knows that the Masonic spirit of freedom and friendship is the air most congenial to a frank discussion of the problems of faith, which are in fact the problems of life; and he is very glad to talk of these high matters with his Brethren, so long as sectarian issues are not involved. For example, here is an ardent Mason from the far west who puts his question thus:
"Of course you have read the greatest Masonic book in the world. I mean The Great Work, by TK. Tell us your estimate of the book, especially the chapter entitled The Lineal Key. And more especially his demonstration of immortality. A lot of fellows out here would like to know your opinion."
Here is a large order, and one not to be filled in a few brief notes, for the questions raised are as important as they are interesting. Therefore we propose to separate the questions asked, taking the last one first — following the Bible saying that the last shall be first — leaving for the next issue of The Buildera more detailed estimate of the book as a whole, and of the chapter named in particular. Yes, ye humble scribe has read The Great Workmore than once, but it never occurred to him to regard it as a great book, much less the greatest Masonic book in the world. Surely that is seeing things out of all proportion, and if we are to see the book for its real value we must keep our wits about us and discriminate.
As to demonstrating immortality, it all depends, of course, on what we mean by the word demonstration. Humpty Dumpty said to Alice, as they wandered in Wonderland: "When I use a word it means just what I choose to make it mean, neither more nor less." But Humpty was a humane spirit, and every Saturday night was wont to call his words up and reward them for their service, giving double pay to those whom he had overworked — which showed that he knew them one from the other and appreciated their labors. Happily, TK is of like spirit, and if he seems to overwork the word Demonstration — among others who do double duty — he at least tells us plainly what he means by it. What is more, he follows his use of the word consistently through to the end.
Repeatedly and emphatically he lets us know that by the scientific demonstration of a future life he does not mean physical science, but a process of moral and spiritual culture the laws of which may be known, placed, and classified, and so reduced to scientific accuracy. Perhaps it is the use of the word Scientific which provokes dissent, as suggesting that we have attained to the same exactness and impartiality in the study of the soul which marked our investigation of physical facts. There are those who think, with Stevenson, that man may be impartial so long as he deals with salts and acids, but that such an attitude is impossible in the field of the inner life. Unconsciously, they hold, the fact that the fate of the soul is concerned tends to bias, if not to blur, our judgment.
Howbeit, for the sake of argument let us admit that one may attain to such detachment as shall enable him to look at the problem impartially, and that the laws of the higher life may be seen and stated with scientific exactness. What then? Very earnestly TK insists — and this is, perhaps, the most valuable part of his book — that the actual practice of a high, austere moral life, not the mere theory of it, must be the basis of whatever assurance we are to win. That is to say, the matter of demonstrating the immortality of the soul is not a question to be argued about, but to be put to the test. The evidence is given only in experience. It must be tried out by each man in his life. And to this high test the author invites us, offering to make available for our guidance and use the ripe results of ages of experience held in the keeping of a Great School of the East.
Whether there be any such Great School or not — ye scribe does not know, and no evidence is forthcoming — it is certain that the truths of faith, if they are to be anything more than pieces of mental furniture, must be verified in experience. We know as much as we do, said St. Francis long ago. Here the author is on solid ground, and he is in accord with all the great teachers of the race since ever time began. So far — barring the question as to the existence of the Great School, to say nothing of its alleged immemorial antiquity; so far, we say, there need be no dispute; and this, instead of being a secret to be kept up the sleeve, has been the burden of the leaders of faith in every age, who by the use of sermon, symbol, parable and art have tried to make it vivid.
Perhaps it may be stated after this manner. When a man lives for eternal things, doing justly for the sheer love of justice, loving mercy because it is lovely, and walking humbly with God in whose Presence he lives — life so lived discloses its own eternal quality, and begets in the soul of him who dares to make the trial of it a quiet and profound assurance of immortality. And naturally so, because he is living the eternal life in the midst of time, and death can be nothing more than a cloud-shadow wandering across the human valley. Whether TK would endorse this statement of the case, we know not; but we fancy that he would agree that it is true, in so far, but that it does not go far enough. At any rate, we cannot follow him further, being quite content to rest our faith on the fact of the kinship of the soul with God, which all the achievements of thought, not less than the promptings of conscience and the prophecies of love, abundantly confirm.
Unfortunately, as we see it, TK goes further than it is either necessary or wise to go. Writing as representative of a Great School of Eastern Sages, he may have knowledge such as is denied to ye humble scribe; but we decline to follow him when he recommends that, by certain ascetic practices — particularly in the matter of diet, and a like — a man may induce a state of consciousness, or unconsciousness, wherein the mind leaves the body and travels in foreign countries to work and receive the wages of a Master. It may be so; ye scribe does not deny it, much less ridicule it — neither does he need it, or seek it, to attest his faith in a future life, concerning which every passing year makes him at once more confident and less curious. Moreover, he holds that this kind of search for certainty is not only useless but dangerous, in that it is seeking for something which manifestly is not ordained for humanity.
There are those who think, and not without reason, that if we were sure of a future life — sure of it as we are sure that fire burns — it would destroy moral initiative, if not actually alter the nature of the soul. That were a seeing of God no flesh can bear, and live. Robert Browning was right when he wrote:
"What, but the uncertainty in faith supplies
The incentive to humanity?"
Or as William James put it, saying what it was hign time somebody had said, that "there is that within us which is prepared to take the risk"; and it is the element of risk which gives to life its zest, its verve, its thrill of adventure and challenge. No, the just shall live by faith; and it was not of some great-hearted hero only, but of the whole great heart of humanity, that Emerson wrote:
"The sun set, but set not his hope;
Stars rose; his faith was earlier up."
* * *
Can you tell me who wrote the poem beginning, "Be not afraid to pray — to pray is right," often used in the work of the Scottish Rite?
— J. T. D.
It was written by Hartley Coleridge, son of S. T. Coleridge, born in 1796 and died 1849; his poems were edited by his brother in 1851.
* * *
Honestly, do you not think that it is something very like a sin to send out a book like Morals and Dogma without an index? Has an index to it ever been published?
— R. T. F.
Exactly; and if ye scribe is ever elected President, or constable, his first act will be to have a law passed making such an offence punishable by heavy penalty. Happily there is an index of Morals and Dogma, prepared by Dr. Thomas Stewart, which may be had for fifty cents from Brother J. H. Cowles, Secretary General, 433 Third St. N. W., Washington, D. C.
* * *
Please refer me to some book that will throw some light on the influence of Freemasonry in the formation of the Latin American republics.
— L. T. S.
You will find a chapter on the subject in L.J. Fosdick's "French Blood in America." (Baker-Taylor Co., New York.) It is an interesting field of research. Look into it and give us the results of your findings in an article for The Builder.
* * *
I have often heard sayings of Jesus quoted which are not found in the New Testament. Is there any book in which these are collected?
— J. J. T.
Yes, a most delightful book, entitled "Unwritten Sayings of Jesus," by David Smith (Doran and Co., New York) which not only collects the sayings, but tells where, when, and how they were found, with brief expositions of them. It is worth your while.
* * *
How many of the four original Lodges which constituted the Grand Lodge of England are still in existence? Your answer will settle a bet.
— F. J. R.
Apparently the Goose and Gridiron Lodge, No. 1, is the only one of the four now in existence. After various changes of name it is now the Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2. See History of the Four Lodges, by R. F. Gould. We hope that both of you win the bet
* * *
I have it in mind to prepare a paper, or talk, on the place of prayer in Masonry for our Lodge. Can you cite me to something to read?
— W. B. P.
What a fruitful subject, and among other things you might read Chapter 19 of Fort's Antiquities of Masonry, as showing the upe of prayer among ancient Masons; also a beautiful lecture on Prayer as a Masonic Obligation by Lawrence, "Practical Masonic Lectures" (Lec. X); and there are noble passages in Morals and Dogma, pp 6, 389, 684.
* * *
Why does the Master of a Lodge wear a hat? What is the significance and symbolism of it?
— H. H. D.
Always the hat is a sign of authority and power, of superiority granted to the Master by the confidence of his Brethren. Since the time of the Middle Ages, however, much of its meaning has been lost; for in those days all members wore hats in Lodge when it was convened. The candidate entered bare-headed, but was given a hat as a part of the initiation — it being a symbol of Liberty and Equality. It was so regarded by George Fox, the Quaker, who refused to take off his hat to any man, even a judge of the court — for which he spent much time in jail. You will find an interesting account of the hat in ancient Lodges in the "Antiquities of Freemasonry," by G.F. Fort, Chapter 28.
* * *
Where can I find reports of instances of Masonic fidelity and assistance in time of stress and danger, as illustrating the strength of our mystic tie?
— R. P. H.
There are many such scattered through our literature. "Low Twelve," by E.S. Ellis, (Macoy Co., Nevs York) is perhaps the collection of instances you are looking for, which you will find very interesting and often thrilling.
* * *
There are several questions which I should like to ask, but hesitate to do so, because I suppose I ought to be familiar with such things. As it is, I have had verb little time or opportunity to look into such matters.
— F. J. L.
Now, look here. You are a lawyer, and if ye scribe lived in your community and wanted to know anything about the law of Michigan, he would ask you — without apology. Just so, as you have made a special study of the law, so we have made a little study of Masonry What is more astonishing, ye scribe has had the lm mitigated nerve to set himself up as a target for folks to fire questions at. Therefore, do not hesitate; fire away. If you ask what we do not happen to know — a very easy thing to do — it will be our delight to look it up in the greatest Masonic library in the world. By all means send your questions.
* * *
Memorial Address, by Norris S. Barratt.
Poems of the Temple, by L. A. McConnell. (Published by Author, Michigan City.)
Lincoln the Christian, by W. J. Johnson. (Eaton & Mains Co., New York.)
Wesley and Woolman, by the Editor. (Abington Press, New York.)
Ancient Art and Ritual, by J. E. Harrison. (Henry Holt Co., New York.)
The Veils of Isis, by Frank Harris. (Doran Co., New York.)
Nietzche, by Paul Carus. (Open Court Co., Chicago.)
* * *
The year's at the spring,
The day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled:
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his heaven —
All's right with the world!
— Pippa Passes.