Ritual and Monitor
by Malcolm C. Duncan
page 12.--In some Lodges the Tyler takes the sword from the altar.
page 18.--Some Masters repeat the words, "O Lord my God," three times.
page 19--Masters differ about the proper manner of placing the three lights
around the altar. In most Lodges they are placed as represented in the
engraving, page 19; but many Masters have them placed thus:
The square represents the altar; the figures 1, 2, and 3, the lights; the
letter A, the kneeling candidate, and the letter B, the Master.
page 21.--Some Masters say: "I now declare this Lodge opened in the Third
Degree of Masonry for the dispatch of business."
page 39.--In spelling this word, "Boaz," always begin with the letter "A," and
follow the alphabet down as the letters occur in the word.
page 42.--In some Lodges the reply is: "Try me, and disapprove of me if you
can;" in others, "I am willing to be tried."
page 43.--Some say, "In an anteroom adjacent to a Lodge of Entered Apprentice
page 44.--Some say, "Three times around the Lodge."
page 51.--Some say, "On the highest hills and lowest valleys."
p. 89.--In some Lodges, the Deacon omits the single rap (•), and opens the
door when the three raps (• • •) are given.
page 205.--In most Lodges the candidate does not halt at the Junior Warden's
station, but passes on to the Senior Warden.
page 125.--Master says: "I shall now proceed to give and explain to you the
several signs and tokens belonging to the Degree." Here the Master places his
hands as the candidate's
were when he took the oath of a Master (see Fig
5, page 17), and explains. Makes sign of a Master Mason, and explains. (See
Fig. 6, page 18.) Makes the grand hailing sign, and explains. (See Fig. 7,
page 18.) Gives grip of a Master Mason, and explains. (See Fig. 16, page 97.)
Gives strong grip, and explains. (See Fig. 17, page 120.)
NOTE M, page 235.--The Principal Sojourner
should say: "We are of your own brethren and kin--children of the
captivity--descendants of those noble Giblemites, we were received and
acknowledged Most Excellent Masters at the completion and dedication of the
first temple--were present at the destruction of that temple by Nebuchadnezzar,
by whom we were carried captives to Babylon, where we remained servants to him
and his successors until the reign of Cyrus, King of Persia, by whose order we
have been liberated, and have now come up to help, aid, and assist in
rebuilding the house of the Lord, without the hope of fee or reward." (See
page 236.--Instead of saying: "You surely could not have come thus far unless
you were three Most Excellent Masters," etc., the Master of the First Veil
should say: "Good men and true you must have been, to have come thus far to
promote so noble and good an undertaking, but further you cannot go without my
word, sign, and word of explanation" (See lecture.)
page 235.--In some Chapters they only stamp seven times.
page 140.--In some parts of the country the second section of the lecture is
continued as follows:
Q. What followed?
A. They travelled as before; and as those, who
had pursued a due westerly course from the temple, were returning, one (1) of
them, being more weary than the rest, sat down on the brow of a hill to rest
and refresh himself, and on rising up caught hold of a sprig of acacia, which
easily giving way excited his curiosity; and while they were meditating over
this singular circumstance they heard three frightful exclamations from the
cleft of an adjacent rock. The first was the voice of Jubelo, exclaiming, "Oh!
that my throat had been cut from ear to ear, my tongue torn out by its roots
and buried in the sands of the sea at low water mark, where the tide ebbs and
flows twice in twenty-four hours, ere I had been accessory to the death of so
great and good a man as our Grand Master Hiram Abiff." The second was the
voice of Jubela, exclaiming: "Oh! that my left breast had been torn open, my
heart. plucked from thence and given to the beasts of the field and the birds
of the air as a prey, ere I
had been accessory to the death of so great and
good a man as our Grand Master Hiram Abiff." The third was the voice of
Jubelum, exclaiming more horridly than the rest, "It was I that gave him the
fatal blow! it was I that slew him! oh! that my body had been severed in
twain, my bowels taken from thence and burnt to ashes, the ashes scattered
before the four (4) winds of heavens, that no more resemblance might be had,
among men or masons, of so vile a wretch as I am, ere I had been accessory to
the death of so great and good a man as our Grand Master Hiram Abiff." Upon
which, they rushed in, seized, bound, and brought them before King Solomon,
who ordered them to be taken without the gates of the city and executed
according to their imprecations. They were accordingly put to death.
Q. What followed?
A. King Solomon ordered the twelve fellow
crafts to go in search of the body, and if found, to observe whether the
master's word, or a key to it, was on or about it.
Q. Where was the body of our Grand Master Hiram
A. A due westerly course from the temple, on
the brow of the hill, where our weary brother sat down to rest and refresh
Q. Was the master's word, or a key to it, on or
A. It was not.
Q. What followed?
A. King Solomon then ordered them to go with
him to endeavor to raise the body, and ordered that as the master's word was
then lost, that the first sign given at the grave, and the first word spoken
after the body should be raised, should be adopted for the regulation of all
Master Masons' Lodges until future ages should find out the right.
Q. What followed?
A. They returned to the grave, when King
Solomon ordered them to take the body by the entered-apprentice grip and see
if it could be raised; but on taking the body so it was putrid, it having been
dead fifteen days, the skin slipped from the flesh. and it could not be
Q. What followed?
A. King Solomon then ordered them to take it by
the fellow-craft grip and see if it could be so raised; but on taking the body
by that grip the flesh cleft from the bone, and it could not be so raised.
Q. What followed?
A. King Solomon then took it by the strong grip
of a Master Mason, or lion's paw, and raised it on the five (5) points of
fellowship, which are foot to foot, knee to
knee, breast to breast, hand to back, cheek to cheek, or mouth to ear. Foot to
foot, that we will never hesitate to go on foot, and out of our way, to assist
a suffering and needy brother; knee to knee, that we will ever remember a
brother's welfare in all our adorations to Deity; breast to breast, that we
will ever keep in our own breasts a brother's secrets, when communicated to us
as such, murder and treason excepted;. hand to back, that we will ever be
ready to stretch forth our hand to aid and support a fallen brother; cheek to
cheek, or mouth to ear, that we will ever whisper good counsel in the ear of a
brother, and in the most tender manner remind him of his faults, and endeavor
to aid his reformation, and will give him due and timely notice that he may
ward off all approaching danger.
Q. What did they do with the body?
A. They carried it to the temple and buried it
in due form. And masonic tradition informs us that there was a marble column
erected to his memory, upon which was delineated a beautiful virgin weeping;
before her lay a book open, in her right hand a sprig of acacia, in her left
an urn, and behind her stood Time with his fingers unfolding the ringlets of
Q. What do these hieroglyphical figures denote?
A. The broken column denotes the untimely death
of our Grand Master Hiram Abiff; the beautiful virgin weeping, the temple
unfinished; the book open before her, that his virtues lie on perpetual
record; the sprig of acacia in her right hand, the timely discovery of his
body; the urn in her left, that his ashes were then safely deposited to
perpetuate the remembrance of so distinguished a character; Time unfolding the
ringlets of her hair, that time, patience, and perseverance accomplish all
Q. Have you a sign belonging to this Degree?
A. I have several.
Q. Give me a sign? (Penalty.)
Q. What is that called?
A. The duegard of a Master Mason.
Q. Has that an allusion?
A. It has, to the penalty of my obligation, and
when our ancient brethren returned to the grave of our Grand Master Hiram
Abiff, they found their hands placed in this position to guard their nostrils
from the disagreeable effluvia that arose there from the grave.
Q. Give me a token. (Pass grip.)
Q. What is that called?
A. The pass grip from a fellow craft to a
Q. What is its name?
A. Tubal Cain.
Q. Who was Tubal Cain?
A. The first known artificer or cunning worker
Q. Pass that? (Strong grip.)
Q. What is that?
A. The strong grip of a Master Mason, or lion's
Q. Has it a name?
A. It has.
Q. Give it me?
A. I cannot, nor can it be given except on the
five (5) points of fellowship, and heard then in a low breath.
Q. Advance and give it.
A. The word is right.
Q. How many grand masonic pillars are there?
Q. What are they called?
A. Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.
Q. Why are they so called?
A. Because it is necessary there should be
wisdom to contrive, strength to support, and beauty to adorn, all great and
Q. By whom are they represented?
A. By Solomon, King of Israel, Hiram, King of
Tyre, and Hiram Abiff, who were our first three Most Excellent Grand Masters.
Q. Why are they said to represent them?
A. Solomon, King of Israel, represents the
pillars of wisdom, because by his wisdom he contrived the superb model of
excellence that immortalized his name; Hiram, King of Tyre, represents the
pillar of strength, because he supported King Solomon in this great and
important undertaking; Hiram Abiff represents the pillar of beauty, because by
his cunning workmanship, the temple was beautified and adorned.
Q. What supported the temple?
A. It was supported by 1453 columns and 2906
pilasters, all hewn from the finest Parian marble.
Q. How many were employed in building the
A. Three Grand Masters, three thousand three
hundred masters, or overseers of the work, eighty thousand fellow crafts in
the mountains and in the quarries, and seventy (70) thousand entered
apprentices, or bearers of burdens. All these were classed and arranged in
such a manner by the wisdom of King Solomon, that neither envy, discord, nor
confusion was suffered to interrupt that universal peace and tranquillity
which pervaded the world at this important period.
Q. What is meant by the three steps usually
delineated on the Master's carpet?
A. They are emblematical of the three principal
stages of human life, viz.: youth, manhood, and age, etc., etc. (Monitorial.)
Q. How many classes of Master's emblems are
Q. What is the ninth (9th)?
A. The setting maul, spade, coffin, and sprig
of acacia. The setting maul was that by which our Grand Master Hiram Abiff was
slain; the spade was that which dug his grave; the coffin was that which
received his remains, and the sprig of acacia was that which bloomed at the
head of his grave. These are all striking emblems of morality, and afford
serious reflections to a thinking mind; but they would be still mere repining
were it not for the sprig of acacia that bloomed at the head of the grave,
which serves to remind us of that imperishable part of man which survives the
grave and bears the nearest affinity to the Supreme Intelligence which
pervades all nature, and which can never, never, never die. Then, finally, my
brethren, let us imitate our Grand Master Hiram Abiff in his virtuous conduct,
his unfeigned piety to his God, and his inflexible fidelity to his trust, that
like him we may welcome the grim tyrant Death, and receive him as a kind
messenger, sent by our Supreme Grand Master to translate us from this
imperfect to that all perfect, glorious, and celestial lodge above, where the
Supreme Architect of the universe presides.
page 148.--(Extract from the Annual Address of M. W. P. Al. Tucker, G. M.
In my address of last year I endeavored to
condense what little information I had about the Masonic lectures, and that
attempt has been, in general, quite favorably noticed by the Craft. In one
distinguished Masonic quarter, however, some parts of my address on this
subject seem to have met with marked disfavor. One particular thing found
fault with is, that I thought myself justified in saying that the lectures in
use, received through Webb and Gleason, were the true lectures of
Preston. I certainly did not mean to say that they were identical in length
with those of Preston. I had already said that Webb changed the arrangement of
Preston's sections, but that he had left the body of the lectures as Preston
had established them. Perhaps I should have said, the substance instead
of the "body" of those lectures. I now state, what I supposed was well
understood before by every tolerably well-informed Mason in the United States,
that Webb abridged as well as changed the arrangement
of the lectures of Preston. I believed that I
knew then, and I believe I know now, that Webb learned and
taught the Preston lectures in full, as well as that he prepared and
taught his own abridgment of them. I have a copy in key, both of Webb's
abridgment and of Preston in full, which I have reasons, wholly satisfactory
to myself, for believing are true manuscripts of both those sets of lectures,
as Gleason taught them. But my reviewer has got the "very rare" book of a
certain J. Browne, published in London in 1802, called the "Master Key,"
containing the whole course of lectures in an "abstruse cypher," and
presumes them to be the Prestonian lectures. Reviewers, it seems, tolerate
"presumption" in themselves, while nothing short of demonstration is allowable
with them as to others, who are required to speak from "their own knowledge."
I am ready to compare my copy of the Preston lectures in full with J.
Browne's "Master Key," if my reviewer understands Browne's "abstruse
cypher,"--a fact about which he has not yet informed us. Again, I am
criticized for saying that Gleason visited England and exemplified the Preston
lectures, as he had received them from Webb, before the Grand Lodge of
England, whose authorities pronounced them correct, and I am charged with
taking this from "hearsay," and my critic places "no faith in it." I received
that statement from the highest authority--from one who knew--and
I wrote it down at the time. There are existing reasons why I do not choose to
gratify my critic by naming that authority at this time, and I leave the Craft
to judge whether my statement of that fact, upon undoubted authority,
is not worthy of as much credit as any reviewer's doubt about
it. I do not possess anything in writing or published of Gleason's, as to his
lecturing before the Grand Lodge of England, but that Masonry abroad
did not ignore the lectures, as Gleason taught them, we have his own published
letter to prove. In the 2d edition of the Masonic Trestleboard, under the date
of Nov. 26th, 1843, in a letter from him to Brother Charles W. Moore, I find
the following language:
"It was my privilege, while at Brown
University, Providence, R. I., (1801-2), to acquire a complete knowledge of
the lectures in the three first degrees of Masonry, directly
from our much esteemed Brother T. S. Webb. author of the Free Mason's Monitor;
and, in consequence, was appointed and commissioned by the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts and Maine, Grand Lecturer, devoting the whole time to the
instruction of the Lodges under the jurisdiction.--and, for many years
subsequently (as Professor of Astronomy and Geography), visiting all the
different States in the Union, and (1829-30) many parts of
Europe--successfully communicating, to numerous Lodges and Associations of
Brethren, the same 'valuable lectures of the Craft,' according to the ancient
Here, then, we have the assertion of Gleason
himself, that the
lectures he received from Webb were, "in many
parts of Europe," as well as in the States at home, communicated by him to
"numerous Lodges and Associations of Brethren, according to the ancient
landmarks," without the slightest hint or intimation of any objection being
made to them abroad, as not being the true lectures of the Order. This is, at
least, prima facie evidence of their having been substantially what I
claimed them to be. But if I am still told that it carries no conclusive
evidence that Brother Gleason knew anything of the true Preston lectures, I
call that brother upon the stand again. On the 24th day of June, 1812,
"Brother Benjamin Gleason, A. M.," delivered an "Oration" at "Montreal, Lower
Canada," before St. Paul's Lodge No. 12, and Union Lodge No. 8, by "special
request" of the former Lodge. It was published at Montreal, and a second
edition of it was soon after published at Boston. I copy from this second
edition the following remarks of Brother Gleason:
"On the subject of our Lectures, we notice with
pleasure, this day, the venerable Preston of England, whose 'Illustrations of
Masonry' redound to the honor of the Craft, and whose estimable system of
improvements, while with precision and certainty they define, with purity
and eloquence, aggrandize, the immovable landmarks of our ancient
Brother Gleason then, did, upon his own
statement, understand Preston's "estimable system of improvements," their
"precision and certainty," their "purity and elegance," and their relation to
our "immovable landmarks." And with these and Webb's teachings fully in his
mind, was probably as good a judge as any modern critic, of the relations they
bore to each other. Can any reasonable man, in this state of things, believe
that if they had conflicted with each other he did not know it, or
that, if conflicting, he would have taught both; or that he could have
taught either "in Europe" without objection, had they not been substantially
the same teachings, differing only in their length?
But my critic says:--"It is wrong to talk in
this careless strain of the Prestonian lectures as existing in the United
States, while in all probability they never did, and most certainly never
will. It is time to quit writing Masonic history in this loose and random
It is no part of my purpose to convince
my reviewer that the "Prestonian lectures" exist in the United States, or to
persuade him, that (though confessedly a strong Masonic writer), he
does not quite embody in his learning all the Masonry of this Western
continent. His liberality might perhaps concede that, among all who
have made Masonry a study, or with their united investigations, enough
of Masonic learning might have been preserved to
make itself respected at least as against
simple negation. But I do not write to convince or satisfy him.
I do so that the Craft may have an opportunity to understand something of
their own affairs, as they exist; to examine and investigate them as matters
of fact and principle; and that they may have no apology for "pinning their
faith" upon the mere negations of any writer, whatever may be the strength of
his masonic reputation. In an account of the Installation of Mount Lebanon
Lodge at Boston, on the 29th of December, 1858, Brother Charles W. Moore,
Editor of the Freemasons' Monthly Magazine, has the following remarks:
"Among the Past Masters of this Lodge we notice the name of the late Benjamin
Gleason, Esq., who was the associate and co-laborer of the late Thomas Smith
Webb, in introducing into the Lodges of New England, and subsequently into
other sections of the country, what is known as the Prestonian system of work
and lectures. The labor of promulgating the work mainly devolved on Brother
Gleason, and it is not too much to say, that as an accurate, consistent, and
intelligent teacher, he had no superior, if an equal, in this country. He was
a thoroughly educated man, and he understood the literary as well as the
mental requirements necessary to a faithful and creditable discharge of the
important duty he had assumed. In 1804, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts
adopted the Preston ritual as its standard of work, and employed Brother
Gleason to communicate it to the Lodges under its jurisdiction, then including
what is now the State of Maine. In the performance of this duty, he was
exclusively employed during the whole of the year named, on account of the
Grand Lodge; and we think a large part of the following two or three years, on
his own private account. Indeed he never ceased his labors, as a lecturer,
until his death in 1847, and there are many brethren now living--among them
myself--who will ever take pride in remembering and acknowledging him as their
master and teacher, in the purest and most perfect Masonic ritual of ancient
Craft Masonry ever practised in this country. It was the 'work' of Masonry, as
revived by Preston, and approved and sanctioned by the Grand Lodge of England,
near the close of the last century, and practised by authority of that body,
until the 'union' in 1813, when, for the purpose of reconciliation, it was
subjugated to a revision, which, in some respects, proved to be an unfortunate
one, inasmuch as the revised system, though exceedingly beautiful, has so many
incongruities and departures from the original, and is so elaborate withal,
that it has never met with that cordial approval, even among our English
brethren, which is necessary to its recognition and acceptance as a universal
system. The verbal
ritual, as revised by Preston, was brought to
this country about the year 1803--not by Webb, as we have seen it stated, for
he never went abroad--but by two English brethren, one of whom, we think, had
been a pupil of Preston, and both of whom had been members of one of the
principal Lodges of Instruction in London. It was first communicated to Webb,
and by him imparted to Gleason, who was at the time a student in Brown
University, at Providence, and being an intelligent and zealous brother,
became a favorite of Webb, who was his senior both in years and in Masonry. On
being submitted to the Grand Lodge of this Commonwealth it was approved and
adopted, and Brother Gleason was employed to impart it to the Lodges, as
before stated. From that time to the present it has been the only recognized
Masonic work of Massachusetts, and though we are not unmindful that many
unwarrantable liberties have been taken with it, and that innovations have
crept in, which would have been better out--yet, as a whole, we are happy to
know that it has been preserved in the Lodges of this city--and in view of the
recent instructions, by authority of the Grand Lodge, we may add, the Lodges
of this Commonwealth--in a remarkable degree of purity; and that it is still
taught in the Lodge of which, in 1809, Brother Gleason was Master, with so
close a resemblance to the original, that if it were possible for him to be
present at the conferring of the degrees to-day, he would find very little to
object to in the work of his successors. The system underwent some
modifications (which were doubtless improvements) in its general arrangement
and adaptation--its mechanism--soon after its introduction into this country;
but in all other respects it was received, and has been preserved, especially
in the Lodges of the older jurisdictions, essentially, as it came from the
original source of all our Craft Masonry. In many parts of the country it has
hitherto had to contend against the corrupting influences of ignorant
itinerant lecturers and spurious publications; but it is believed that an
effectual check has been put to this class of dangerous evils, and that they
will hereafter be treated as they deserve. If so. we may reasonably hope to be
able to pre-serve the ritual, and transmit it to our successors, in something
like its original purity, but not otherwise." We have, then, added to
Gleason's own assertion as to his knowledge of Preston's "estimable system of
improvements," the statement of one of the most intelligent and reliable
Masons in this country, that Webb had "the Prestonian system of work and
lectures," and that the labor of promulgating them "mainly devolved on Brother
Gleason." And I wholly content to let that evidence stand as my authority and
justification against the remarks of
a reviewer who accuses me of "talking in a
careless strain" when I maintain that these lectures exist in the United
Our Grand Lecturer has compared, with critical
care, my copy of the Preston with that of the Gleason Lectures. I have not had
sufficient leisure since the former has been in my possession, to compare
them, as fully as I design to do hereafter. The Preston Lectures are very
lengthy, and if written out in full the Grand Lecturer thinks they would cover
nearly one hundred pages of foolscap paper. He thinks them wholly too long for
ordinary use, and that if all Masons were required to commit them in
extenso, it would be a task which very few would successfully accomplish;
and so far as my own examination has gone, I entertain the same opinion. The
Grand Lecturer also entertains the opinion that Webb has preserved, in the
abridgment and new arrangement of them, all that was substantially of
practical value, and that the language used by him is preferable to much that
was used by Preston.
I regret to say that in the criticism of which
I have spoken, there appears a most palpable intention to undervalue all
the lectures of Masonry. The believers in the importance of preserving the
lectures intact are sneered at; called "parrot Masons," who, taken off the
"beaten path," know "nothing at all of Masonry, of its history, its
philosophy, or its symbolism." And we are dismissed with the cool remark--"Let
us talk more, therefore, of the philosophy of Masonry, and something less of
the Lectures of Webb," and as opposed to the idea of the importance of the
Lectures, we are called on, "in Heaven's name, to inaugurate a new era."
This is, at least, sufficiently cool for a
teacher of Freemasonry.
"Inaugurate a new era." That is the idea
precisely. Some of us ignorant Masons had supposed that, at least, some
portion of our Masonic "history, philosophy, and symbolism," was suggested
in our Lectures. Our "history"--written and unwritten--the "philosophy" of our
system, and something of our "symbolism," were imagined to be secure in the
past. But a "new era." About what? Can our "history" be changed; can
our "philosophy" be changed? Not a million of critics, however
distinguished, can brush the first particle of consecrated dust from either.
"There they stand, and there they will stand forever--unshaken by the tests of
human scrutiny, of talents and of time."