The Builder Magazine
August 1918 - Volume IV - Number 8
BY BRO. R. PERRY BUSH, PAST
GRAND CHAPLAIN, MASSACHUSETTS
FOR quite a number of years I
have been a student of Freemasonry and it has been my aim to follow into the
distant past the lines of causation by means of which our noble institution
has been developed into its present form and influence. Steadily but surely
the origin of the Craft has been pushed back amid the dim mists of farthest
antiquity. Not that in those far-off times there was anything like the present
organization or ritual, but that our genealogy includes the builders of the
great cathedrals of Europe, those who gave glory to Rome and Athens, and even
those who reared the wonderful temples at Karnac or heaved the pyramids above
the sands of Cairo, is now the accepted belief.
With the advance of
knowledge, the better and more complete understanding of the factors that go
to make up our present civilization, and the constant bringing to light of
facts that fol long ages were lost from human sight, it becomes morally
certain that the roots of our modern Masonry may be traced not only to the
reign of Solomon and the structure erected on Mt. Moriah, but far beyond that
day and generation.
Within the last half century
the archaeologists have pushed their investigations into almost every nook and
corner of the world, and they have brought forth from the storehouses of the
long ago a more complete record of the thoughts and deeds of those of ancient
times than was ever before in the possession of mankind. Throughout the
Peloponnesus and by the waters of the Nile and in the valleys of the Tigris
and the Euphrates they have been digging in the earth and uncovering the story
of man's development in ages long anterior to the Christian era. The discovery
of the Rosetta stone, the laying hold upon the secret of the deciphering of
the cuneiform inscriptions of Assyria; the finding of the laws of Hammurabi,
these, with other helps that have been afforded, have led to a discarding of
the conceptions previously entertained regarding the peoples of antiquity, and
made it plain that we must reconstruct our theories of the far-off past. And
it is abundantly evident that they of old time were wrestling with much the
same problems that confront us at the present moment. And they were
dealing--in their way--both with the practical protection of their welfare as
workmen, and with the philosophy of life--the distinction between the body and
the soul that tenants or is imprisoned in the flesh.
That the great multitudes of
those of operative skill were banded together and that they hedged themselves
about with secret means of identification, there is today no shadow of doubt,
and that these were the progenitors of our modern lodges, and that we are
their lineal descendants, in my judgment it is impossible reasonably to deny.
They who in this day write
the history of Masonry are more and more inclined to look upon the 24th of
June, 1717, as but a date when the transition from its operative to its
speculative form was fully consummated. They are not content to start at that
point and simply tell us what it since has been and done, but almost without
exception they go back from that date to the stone Masons of the Middle Ages
and through these to the Roman Corporations of Builders which had their origin
under Numa Pompilius in the eighth century before Christ and try to connect
these in some more or less definite way with the architects and builders of
Egypt and Assyria and to show that we may justly claim that this is the
attested line of our descent.
To this kind of work I have
applied myself with much interest, but it is only the following of the history
of what was in effect but an old time Knights of Labor. It is worth our while,
in my estimation, for it is no small honor to be allied with an institution
that spans so many centuries, and there is a certain justifiable pride in the
great age of the Craft, but fundamentally I do not personally worship
dust-begrimed antiquity, nor do I go into any temple of the long ago to find
the idols at whose feet I lay my truest sacrifice. It does not necessarily
recommend a thing to me to tell me that it is old. If I love it heartily, it
is because within it is embodied a nobler song, a higher ideal, a more vital
help and inspiration than I can find elsewhere.
So it is that in my study of
Masonry I have not been satisfied simply to trace the fortunes of the workmen
of various lands and ages, the signs and grips and words by which they
communicated with each other, and the testimony that there is a line of
relationship running back from our lodges to the days of the earliest Pharoahs,
but I have found a keener interest in the revelation that is made of what is
really deeper and more vital in those institutions of the past out of which
our fraternity and its teachings have been developed.
Now it requires but a little
investigation to show that one is amply repaid who applies himself to this
more philosophical phase of study, and at every step it will grow upon us that
Masonry is but a form and expression of that innate something in man which
from the dawn of his evolution has led him to reach out toward the
Eternal-not-ourselves and to strive to understand the meaning of what we may
designate as death. And to him who contemplates it in this fashion it appears
as of the same character as that other line of man's development which has
been expressed in the building of temples and churches of worship.
As one delves into the
history of the operative Masons he finds all through the ages, especially in
the long ago, that when the novice was taken in charge to be initiated and
instructed there was a double course which he was made to follow. On the one
hand he was trained in the science of architecture: he was taught the laws of
building and acquired skill in construction. There was another part of his
training, however, which has not been so much emphasized, but which after all
may be found to be most vital in the inheritance which has come down from
those ancient brethren to us of the Masonic fraternity of today. I discover
beyond a peradventure that in Palestine and in Greece and in Egypt, and I
doubt not in other lands as well, to those of the Craft were imparted
teachings concerning the Infinite Architect of the Universe and the destiny of
the human soul. In the lecture of our third degree today we refer to our
ancient brother, the great Pythagoras, and we exhibit the figure by which we
afford the proof that the square described upon the hypothenuse of a right
angle triangle is equal to the sum of the squares described upon the other two
sides--which is purely mathematical. It is, however, far more interesting to
me, and far more significant as regards what is most vital in Masonry, that
Pythagoras saw resemblances to numbers of things, and held it to be true that
one quality of numbers was Justice, another Soul, and Spirit, etc., and that
he taught that it is by mathematical and scientific study that man looks into
nature and finds things obeying the laws he has ascertained for himself in his
own mind and that therefore the meaning of the Universe is revealed in the
soul and not by the senses, and that if, thus rightly guided, we look within,
we shall find the Eternal God. Moreover, he maintained that the soul element
is not limited to bodily substance. It is not our personality, as he reasoned,
but it belongs to infinity and cannot be annihilated. All of which shows
plainly that the Pythagorean education was to lead to intercourse with God and
that it held within it the teaching of immortality. Even here we find the
heart of the system to be the reaching out after the answers to the deepest
questioning of the mind of man and it is pertinent to observe that what
Pythagoras thus taught in regard to these deeper or mystical revelations in
their relation to the science of mathematics, is typical of what we find to
have been a characteristic of Masonry in many lands.
Whether we consider it to be
to our glory or to our shame, the men of all ages have been Mystics--they have
either explicitly or implicitly recognized the essential relation of our
nature to God and striven to adjust their lives accordingly.
Mysticism, so far as we have
acquaintance with it, may be said to have had its birth in the Orient among
the Brahmins, and it attributes to the human mind the ability to rise to an
immediate intuition of God and thereby to a knowledge of all truth. This
consummation is not to be obtained on the lower level of discursive reasoning,
but an ecstatic state of the soul is a necessary condition for the
contemplation of the absolute.
The Brahmin laid aside all
that pertains to the world of sense and allowed God alone to work within him
until in the transport of mind he became identified with the hidden
deity--"the God greater than all gods and men." Transplanted to the West, this
mysticism appears in the Neoplatonists and later in a Tauler and other
Christian mystics, or in such a one as Eckhart, whose teachings called forth
the anathema of the Vatican. To all these there is a realm above that of
sensible things, but there is a faculty in man capable of attaining thereto
and upon being introduced into that magical circle man becomes cognizant of
the absolute and of his own undying nature.
It is true that many of the
schemes evolved by these mystical dreamers are not altogether satisfactory to
us today. The Brahmin, the Buddhist, and even Eckhart held that as all men
have arisen from God so all desire to return to the divine being, and the
final end of their activity is attained when, by the resignation of all
individuality, they get back to the source from whence they came, the union
with deity, the absorption into Nirvana--lost so far as our distinct
personality is concerned by becoming once more a part of that from whence we
came. But in all of this we see man wrestling with the same old problems of
the Infinite Artificer of the universe and the destiny that waits us beyond
It is pertinent at this point
of our study also to affirm that Plato is understood only in the light of the
mysteries. The Neoplatonists credit him with a "secret doctrine," and they
maintain that his teacher Socrates, put his hearers through an "initiation"
whereby they found something within them they were not aware of possessing.
The place where these
philosophers taught was filled with the spirit of the mystics, and Plato's
dialogues mean more or less according to our spiritual condition. Truth or
falsity is decided by something within which opposes the physical body and is
not subject to its laws. Socrates approaches death as he would any other
event. In the Phaedon, in which Plato records the last words of his master,
there is but little argument for immortality, but there is the teaching that
death is a release and it is folly to rebel against it.
Now the particular fact to
which we here call attention as contributory to what we hope to make plain is
that the popular religions of the Ancients did not give satisfaction to the
minds and hearts of hosts of thinkers among them, and so there sprang up great
groups of mystics everywhere who guarded their secrets by a priestly caste and
by most solemn vows. There was a oneness of belief which runs like a golden
thread through all the fabric of these old time organizations and which is not
lost even when the votaries turn to shame and debauchery. To each of the
mysteries there was a different god or hero, but always the same aim and
purpose, the elevation of the initiated to the apprehension of God and
immortality, and I shall endeavor to acquaint you with what one is able to
learn concerning the methods employed by those of old time to enforce their
lessons and to show that there is something more than a casual connection
between these companies of worshippers and our Masonic fraternity.
The task is the more
difficult because those who presented the mysteries hedged themselves about by
such sacred vows of secrecy as most effectually held the initiated from
revealing what was imparted to them and if there were in those days those who
because of pique or with desire of personal gain, exposed the secrets, their
works were somehow suppressed and have disappeared from history. There is
enough, however, that has come down to us, to give us a very definite idea of
what the mysteries were in substance and to show that almost without exception
that most vital in each concerned the deity and the life beyond the grave.
We will therefore consider
first the mysteries of Osiris and Isis, for the Egyptians are the most ancient
people whose story is set before us in the annals of the past. Herodotus, the
father of history, constantly alludes to these mysteries, but he always speaks
with extreme caution, since it is evident that he had himself been initiated
into the rites.
In the "Book of the Dead,"
that ancient collection of prayers and hymns supposed to aid the soul in its
journey to Amenti, there is some aid to us, but in that work the myths are
mostly taken for granted as being well known, and therefore are not enlarged
upon. Most of our knowledge in this domain comes to us from Greece, to which
country, in an altered form, the mysteries were transplanted, but it is
sufficient to enable us to reconstruct the Osiriac myth which was, in a sense,
the model for all the other systems.
Osiris was the greatest of
the Egyptian heroes and he was by his devotees transformed from a mortal king
to be an immortal god. It was he who introduced civilization among the
dwellers of the Nile, and he went everywhere teaching the people agriculture
and the arts. During his wanderings his brother Typhon, who was a rival for
his throne, formed a conspiracy against him. He had a beautiful carved chest
made, inlaid with gold, and he promised to give it to him whom it should fit
when he should lie down in it. When Osiris tried it Typhon closed the lid and
made it secure and had the chest thrown into the river where it floated along
until cast ashore at Byblos, in Phoenicia.
Isis, the sister and also the
wife of Osiris, overcome with grief, searched everywhere for the chest and at
length found it, but Typhon again obtained possession of the body which he cut
into foul teen parts and scattered about. Isis then searched for the fragments
and wherever she found one she buried it, and that was the reason Egypt was so
rich in the graves of Osiris. One part, that of propagation, Isis could not
find, and so she consecrated a model thereof and the Phallus henceforth
becomes associated with the mystic rites. Afterwards, Osiris was resurrected,
returned from the region of shades, and was reunited with his consort.
This is the myth as nearly as
we are able to recover it. It is certain beyond question that the priests of
Osiris were monotheists and it may yet appear that it is to them rather than
to the Hebrews that we owe the first definite teaching of the doctrine of the
one and only God; while every mummy that they embalmed speaks to us of their
belief in immortality. Even if we do not know much concerning the ceremonies
of initiation as they took place in the land of the Pharaohs, there is
abundant light thrown upon our study from the fact that these mysteries were
transplanted to Greece somewhere about the fourteenth century before Christ,
and to other lands a little later on, and here they assumed various forms, but
all of them bearing resemblance to each other. Here, however, as in Egypt,
there could be no greater crime than the betrayal of the secrets, as is
attested by a host of the classic writers such as Pindar and Sophocles and
Isocrates and Aeschylus (the last, because of what he put into one of his
plays, being obliged to flee to the altar of Dionysus, where he escaped death
only by legally proving that he had never been initiated). Nevertheless, from
one source and another has come sufficient help to enable us to follow in
detail the forms and ceremonies and the mystic teaching of those ancient
From earliest times there
were secret cults and Mysteries in Greece. Every clan had its sacred locality
and ceremonies, from which those of every other clan were excluded. Some of
these rites were crude and some were of a lewd character, but all together
they exerted a marvellous influence upon the people. Some of them were even
dedicated to the worship of infernal Pluto and others to Demeter and Cora, but
gradually, almost without exception, they took on the hope of a bright
hereafter beyond the vale of death.
At the time when the Persian
Empire arose on the ruins of other ancient monarchies it subjugated Lydia and
the flourishing Greek colonies of Asia Minor. It was then that Greece issued
out of its Middle Ages and Athens was enlarged by the incoming of new tribes,
became the capital of Attica, and laid the foundation for its future
greatness. One expression of its growing importance was the spread of the
influence of its mysteries until what had been its special and particular
cult, became dominant wherever the Greeks held sway. The mysteries of Eleusis
exhibited the greatest attempt of Hellenic genius to construct a religion
which would keep pace with the growth of thought and civilization in Greece.
That they were related to the mysteries of Osiris and Isis we are well
assured, but the method of their transmission from Egypt and the full process
of their transformation into the elaborate system which prevailed at Eleusis
we do not know.
It was my good fortune a few
years ago to visit the scenes where those elaborate ceremonials took place. I
followed the route of the pageants that went out from Athens and lingered at
the many shrines at which the devotees paused to pay their tribute and
wandered among the ruins of the great temple at Eleusis--which was the largest
sacred edifice of those old Greeks-- begun, it is said, by Eurnolpus, the
first priest of the cult, in 1356 B.C. Naturally, I endeavored to learn as
much as possible concerning the ancient Greeks and to lay hold, if I could,
upon what was really the heart of what they thought and the motive which
prompted them to those spectacular exhibitions. And as it is from the rites of
Eleusis that we derive the larger part of our knowledge of the mysteries in
general, it will be my aim to give you a fairly adequate conception of what
they were like.
In the first place, they were
in honor of the goddess Demeter, the patroness of agriculture, and they dealt
much with the procreative power of nature. Later they turned to the deeper
problems of life and death and the great beyond. From the Homeric hymn to
Demeter we learn that she was the daughter of Kronos and that she gave to Zeus
a daughter, Persephone (or Cora.) One day when Cora was gathering flowers she
was abducted by Pluto, the God of Hades, and with the consent of her father,
Zeus, who was a brother of Pluto, she was carried to the infernal regions.
Demeter arrived too late to
assist her daughter, but after searching for her for nine days and nights with
torch in hand she learned from Helios (the sun) the name of her seducer and
also that of his accomplice (Zeus). Incensed at her husband, she left Olympus
and the gods, and disguised as an old woman she determined to scour the earth
to find her daughter.
Arriving at Eleusis she was
discovered by Keleos (the ruler of the realm) sitting upon a stone, in tears.
He took pity upon her, and she entered his family as a nurse to the queen's
son. Wishing to make the boy immortal, she annointed him by day with ambrosia
and hid him by night in fire, but his mother discovered what was being done
and, not understanding the import of it all, she was terrified and the boy was
rescued by his sisters.
After that the bestowal of
immortality was impossible and Demeter left the house, but she revealed
herself to King Keleos and by her direction he built a temple that she might
initiate the Eleusinians into her mysteries. To that temple Demeter retired,
but her grief for the loss of her daughter was limitless and she vowed
vengeance against gods and men. For a year she spread sterility over the
earth. Zeus sought in vain to appease the wrath of Demeter and finally he sent
Hermes to Pluto ordering him to restore Cora to her mother. This Pluto was
obliged to do but before her departure he gave her secretly a sweet pip of a
pomegranate which compelled her to return periodically to the nether world
forevermore and henceforth she spent a third of the year there and two-thirds
in the world above.
By the return of her
daughter, the wrath of Demeter was appeased, but as she was ordered to return
to Olympus, before doing so she called the princes of the realm together and
initiated them into the rites which assured them of honor after death; and at
Eleusis, the place of her sufferings, she founded the cult which should keep
her faith in remembrance.
Now the meaning of this myth
is quite apparent and it is often set forth in the Greek classics. It is that
the soul originated from the immortal and it is led astray by what is
transitory. It lives alternately above and below. It cannot abide permanently
upon the heights of the divine. It is never-dying, but is doomed to recurring
transformation by birth and death until it is reunited with the source from
whence it sprung, and the temple service instituted by Demeter was to help
establish its votaries as far as possible in the divine life.
This was the beginning of the
mystic system at Eleusis which later developed to such proportions that it
became a wonderful influence in the Grecian life and transcended all other
similar rites in brilliancy of presentation. It was in great part a revival of
the ancient established religion of the realm and this conduced to its
adoption as the state religion, but it was reinforced by foreign elements,
namely, the introduction of gods who did not inhabit Olympus and who had
suffered and had found consolation.
These mysteries were supposed
to enshrine a primitive revelation of divine truth, and it is maintained by
Pindar and Sophocles and Plutarch (and their contemporaries and successors)
that they exercised a healthy and saving effect upon their votaries, and
although in the time of Diogenes they lost their religious character and
became simply a splendid ceremony and under the Romans they degenerated to
mere superstition, yet they endured with power for nearly a thousand years,
coming to an end during the reign of Theodosius II. Let me as briefly as
possible portray to you what took place and the significance of the rites as I
Every device of painting and
sculpture, of architecture and music and dancing, of gorgeous costumes and
alternating darkness and dazzling light was called into being to make an
impression upon the initiate, and he was taught that by what was to be
imparted he was to have an advantage in the future world. The novitiate was
subjected to a special preparation, his mind was wrought up to a breathless
expectation, and he was disqualified if he had committed murder and had not
made reparation therefor.
There were what were called
the Lesser Mysteries, which were celebrated at Athens on the hill of Agra,
near the Stadium, in the month of February, but these were but a preparation
for the rites which were to follow. The novitiate was subjected to a most
sacred vow of secrecy and was only admitted to the vestibule of the sanctuary
of Demeter. He had to wait a year before he could advance to what was
designated as the Greater Mysteries.
These Greater Mysteries
occupied nine days in their presentation, from the fifteenth to the twenty
third of September. Two months previous to that time heralds from the priestly
families went forth to announce the coming of the celebration and a holy
armistice was declared for those who were waging war, so that all might be
free to travel in safety.
As the date set for the
beginning of the ceremonies drew near the novitiate was subjected to a fast
which lasted for nine days and then he was ready for initiation. We are told
by many writers of the terror in the minds of those who were about to pass
through the ordeal and it is often compared to the preparation for death.
On the fourteenth of the
month, at full moon, the priests of Eleusis, headed by the hierophant (who was
dressed to represent the governor of the universe), removed from their
repository the Sacred Objects, and, followed by the populace, carried them in
procession to Athens. All the Athenians went out to meet them, the youths from
eighteen to twenty years of age formed a guard of honor around the sacred
objects, and they were deposited at the foot of the Acropolis, the
announcement of their arrival was solemnly made to the priestess of Pallas
Athena, the tutelary goddess of Athens, and the high festival began.
The following morning the
novitiates were taught that they could not participate unless their lives were
clean and they could speak with intelligible voice. Next day, the sixteenth,
was the feast of Purification when they bathed in the sea that their minds
might be pure and undefiled. On the seventeenth was the sacrifice of Soteria,
which was for the salvation of the Senate, the citizens of Athens, and their
wives and children.
On the eighteenth there was a
sacrifice in honor of Aesculapius, and the next morning the multitude started
on the procession back to Eleusis. There were altars and shrines all along the
way and a pause was made and offerings bestowed at each of these. It was night
before the pilgrimage was completed, so that torches were lit. Everyone from
Eleusis came out to meet the worshippers and they finished their journey with
chanting and a wandering in the dark along the shores and plains in search of
the lost daughter of Demeter.
The next twenty-four hours
were spent in rest and in preparation for the great initiation which took
place on the twenty-first and twenty-second of the month, and was
representative of the lives of the deities by whom the mysteries were
instituted and developed. All that could be accomplished by dazzling lights
and gorgeous costumes and strange apparitions and wonderful voices and every
possible spectacular device was called into operation to produce an impression
upon the novitiates.
After their credentials were
examined, they were crowned with myrtle and admitted to the mystical enclosure
where a priest proposed certain questions to which the answers were to be
returned in a set and particular form. Then they underwent further
purification and were specially prepared by partaking of a sacred draught,
after which they were allowed to kiss the holy treasures of the temple, and
then they approached the supreme moment of their exaltation. From the profound
darkness of the night they were suddenly ushered into the midst of
transcendent and overpowering light. On every hand issued loud cries for help
and laments of agony. Frightful noises came as from earth and heaven. Flames
burst from the surrounding walls and were extinguished by invisible hands. The
lightning flashed with blinding brilliance and peal after peal of thunder rent
the air. The place shook and vibrated and whirled and strange and amazing
objects appeared everywhere around. As they advanced there were flambeau
bearers representing the Sun and near an altar was the Adorer symbolizing the
Moon, and there was Mercury, the messenger of the gods, and a multitude of
similar characters most gorgeously attired.
As the candidate approached,
he saw a spacious habitation replete with glittering gems. Above him, the roof
was resplendent with stars, and he was raised up into a place burning with
fire. When they pleased those around him assumed the likeness of men, and when
they desired they gleamed as gods and appeared or vanished at will. All around
him the lightning hissed and flashed, terrestrial demons with every device to
excite the human passions waited all along his path, and if he yielded he was
plunged into an abyss of darkness and suffering.
All this was continued until
the eighth day of the festival, when the ceremonies were completed and the
candidates fully initiated, when they either remained to participate in the
sports which followed or returned to Athens in somewhat the same spectacular
way in which they had come, excepting that they no longer preserved a serious
and solemn mien, but engaged in all sorts of chaffing and buffoonery.
Such were the famous
Mysteries of Eleusis, in which, as is clearly to be seen, the legend of Osiris
is transformed into that of Demeter, but with the same fundamental teaching of
immortality and a reaching after a being behind and transcending the gods whom
the people ignorantly worshipped and as Athens came in course of time to
dominate Greece, her ceremonies served in a large measure as a pattern for
others wherever the Greeks extended their influence.
Mackey tells us that the
Dionysian mysteries were very old and that previous to the building of
Solomon's temple the inhabitants of Attica had conquered Asia Minor and there
they introduced these mysteries before they were corrupted by the Athenians,
and in them was presented the death of the demigod Dionysus, the search for
his body and his restoration to life. The same historian informs us that Hiram
Abiff was initiated into these rites and that later his own death and
resurrection were substituted in place of that of Dionysus.
There were also Mysteries of
Mithras embellished by the wonderful teachings of Zoroaster and the contest
between the hosts of Ahriman and those of Ormuzd. There were again the
Samothracian and Orphic Mysteries which had their special characteristics, but
all with the same underlying principles and teaching. There was something also
of the same manifestation in our older scriptures where the Jews pictured
Jehovah as dwelling in the thick darkness, and in the fact that they never
voiced the sacred name of deity, and again in the New Testament in our book of
In all ages, therefore, we
find man instinctively erecting-altars, reaching out after God if haply he
might and him and looking on beyond the grave to a life that is endless. And
it were folly to think that Masonry has had its place through the long
centuries and among such varied peoples without appropriating to itself
something of what was so vital to mankind. Indeed the more I study its
history, the more I am persuaded that what we have found to be the heart of
the ancient mysteries was also the heart and soul of Masonry in days gone by,
as it is, in my thought, in this day and generation.
Not that we in our fraternity
are banded together as religious sect. Thank God we have no creed, but we meet
strictly upon the level, and we ask of no man what church he attends or
whether he remains outside them all. But on the threshold of our lodge rooms
we do demand that those who would unite with us shall declare their faith in
God, and except such is his conviction, none may pass through our ceremonies
and sit with us in our circle of fraternity, and furthermore, he who does not
learn from our third degree the lesson of immortality has not yet apprehended
its true significance.
We are not only one with
those who carved the sphinx and erected the statue of Memnon and with those
who embellished the Acropolis with that series of temples that even in their
ruin are the wonder and delight of all who look upon them, but we are also one
with those who by what seem to us crude and often barbarous rites and
ceremonies sought to impart to man an apprehension of deity and a surety that
death is but an incident in an endless career.
We might, as Masons, cherish
a just pride in an institution which reaches back through so many centuries of
the long ago, even if we conceive of it as embodying only good fellowship and
affording its members the means for travelling in foreign countries with the
assurance of receiving a Master's pay. But this would place it in the same
category with a thousand other gilds or trade unions which men have devised
for their personal emolument, and to see no more than this in the work and
teachings of the Craft would be to overlook what to me is our transcendent
glory. To minister to our bodily comforts and our social enjoyment is
assuredly a worthy mission, yet it needs but little apprehension of that which
constitutes the real man--the deeper needs, the higher joys, the supreme
longings of our race--to perceive that those who contribute to this nobler
part of our nature are our truest benefactors.
And of such have been those
who through the ages have gathered within the sacred circle of Freemasonry and
radiated from its altar the inspiration that comes from the recognition of a
Supreme Being and the certainty of immortality.
How far the Craft have been
allied with those who in so many lands and ages rose above the popular
religions there and then in vogue and laid hold upon the one God and the
unending tomorrow we may not be arbitrary in affirming, but that our operative
forebears, while imparting the knowledge of the science of architecture, held
also among their secrets these same priceless convictions it is not difficult
And in my judgment it was not
because of the working of blind chance that we find such to have been the
case, but rather we may believe that Masonry is one of the ordained
instruments by which the Infinite Artificer of the Universe is to transform
the rough ashlar of barbarism into smooth and polished and completed manhood,
it is one of the means by which we are to advance by regular and upright steps
to the attainment of our individual perfection and that of our human race.
Mark ye, brethren, the
destiny of nations and the secret of their downfall! It is written on every
page of history ! They grew in wealth and power but they forgot the demands of
righteousness and they forsook the altars of the Most High.
Today, as never before in the
annals of time, the world is being devastated by war and cursed by a
philosophy which is materialistic. The very foundations of society are
threatened with overthrow. Our only hope is in God and in the dissemination of
the spirit of brotherhood--the recognition of our obligations as members
together of one great family.
Amid the turmoil and doubt
and strife stands the fraternity of which we are a part, and within our lodges
we are taught to live together in unity and to put our trust in one who is
unconquerable, and by the light which gleams upon us when we are raised to the
sublime degree of a Master Mason we recognize the indestructibility of the
human soul. Surely it is a privilege and an honor which is ours, but I would
call it to your minds that it also imposes vital obligations. It may yet be
proved that as Masons we are standing between mankind and its reversion to
barbarism and it is possible that a greater and more glorious future than that
of which we have ever dreamed awaits the Craft.
Everything depends upon the
shaping of our organization and our discharge of the duty that devolves upon
us. If the word I have voiced in this hour shall have waked in any of you who
have listened so patiently a higher conception of the significance and mission
of Masonry and a firmer fidelity to its demands I shall have been abundantly
repaid for the effort that I have put forth in your behalf.
SPECULATIVE MASONRY IN THE
BY BRO. OSSIAN LANG, GRAND
HISTORIAN, GRAND LODGE OF NEW YORK
The birthyear of the present
Grand Lodge period of Freemasonry is securely fixed. Of the time of
establishment, between 1717 and 1723, we have only a few more or less
unimportant data and next to nothing as regards reliable information
explaining the momentous developments which must have taken place before "The
Constitutions," the Magna Charta of modern Freemasonry, could be formulated
and issued in printed form.
The reasons for the lack of
reliable historical material concerning the status and activity of the
Fraternity, before 1723, are simple enough. History recording is an
after-thought. It arises when some degree of greatness, or at least the
promise of greatness, is achieved. That is why Israelitic History began with
David and Solomon. (1) That is why English history began with Alfred the
Great. That is why Masonic history began with the Grand Mastership of John,
Duke of Montagu, whose connection with the Fraternity aroused widespread
interest in Freemasonry.
The publication of the
Constitutions, in 1723, became a direct challenge to historians, and now began
the questioning as to antecedents which has been going on ever since. Before
the Grand Mastership of Montagu, there was nothing in the existence of the
Fraternity in any way suggesting that this was destined to attain importance,
let alone greatness. Of the lodges who united to form the premier Grand Lodge,
only one evidenced real vitality. One soon became extinct. Another had to be
reconstituted in 1723. A third retained only thirteen members between 1721 and
1723. There appeared to be no inducement to record history.
A suggestive side-light is
thrown on existing conditions by a note in the autobiography of Dr. William
Stukeley, F. R. S. (1687-1765), reading as follows:
"His curiosity led him to be
initiated into the mysterys of Masonry, suspecting it to be the remains of the
mysterys of the antients; when, with difficulty, a number sufficient were to
be found in all London. After this, it became a public fashion, not only to
spread over Brittain and Ireland, but all Europe."
Those of us who have
experienced what it means to initiate candidates with barely enough brethren
present to form a lodge, can sympathize with Brother Stukeley. The point of
historical significance in his recital is that on January 6th, 1721, the date
when he was "made a Freemason," it was only "with difficulty" that "a number
sufficient was to be found in all London" to welcome him and two other
distinguished Londoners into the Fraternity.
Another interesting item is
the entry in Dr. Stukeley's diary, under date of December 27th, 1721, as
"We met at the Fountain
Tavern, Strand, and by the consent of the Grand Master present, Dr. Beal (D.
G. M.) constituted a lodge there, where I was chose Master."
That throws light on many
things. Taken together with other available stray bits of information, the
entry suggests that "the verbal consent of the Grand Master, or his Deputy,
was sufficient to authorize the formation of a lodge." We find, further, that
the now required qualifications for elevation to the chair, were not known in
1721. Brother Stukeley had been a Mason for less than a year when he was
The presence of the Grand
Master, John, Duke of Montagu, is worth noting. Dr. Stukeley and the Duke had
both been elected Fellows of the Royal Society in 1717. Both belonged also to
the "Gentlemen's Society" of Spaulding, a literary club, which counted among
its members a number of men who won distinction in Freemasonry: Desaguliers,
the Earl of Dalkeith, and Lord Coleraine, Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of
England, 1719, 1723, 1727; Joseph Ames, David Casley, Francis Drake (the
latter serving as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of All England, 1761-2);
Martin Folkes, Sir Richard Manningham and Dr. Thomas Manningham; Sir Andrew
Michael Ramsey, Knight of St. Lazarus, reputed founder of the Scottish Rite,
became a member of this Society, in March, 1729.
The astonishing progress of
Freemasonry, after the accession to the Grand Mastership of John, Duke of
Montagu, may be readily understood when we take into account his zeal for the
Fraternity and the eminent men who were glad to co-operate with him. The rapid
rise to importance among the social organizations of the British metropolis
may be regarded as the first real impetus to the study of the antecedents of
the Fraternity. Each new edition of the Constitutions revealed evidences of
serious efforts to arrive at a satisfactory explanation of origins.
There was no doubt then, as
there is no doubt now, that the Fraternity had at one time been connected in
some way with the craft gild of Masons. It was equally clear that the lodges
which formed the premier Grand Lodge had been made up of "Accepted" Freemasons
enjoying at one time membership in the Masons' Company of London, but forming
a distinct division within that Company and having no direct interest in
operative Masonry. The "Laws, Forms and usages" which the Fraternity had in
common with the "Craft and Fellowship of Masons," were plausibly accounted for
as having been derived from former gild connections. The differences were not
explained so easily. It is here where the difficulty arose. The problem was
how to account for the "curious secret brotherhood" of Accepted Freemasons,
which was regarded as the true parent of the Fraternity. It has remained an
open problem to this day. The task I have set myself for the present
discussion is to suggest a solution as far as arguments in support of it may
be presented in public print.
HINTS POINTING TO ROSICRUCIAN
Gould to whose faithful
labors we shall ever be indebted for the gathering together of a vast amount
of valuable material relating to the development of our Fraternity, found that
there is practical unanimity among serious historians to the effect that
"Freemasonry, as it emerged from the crucible in 1723, was the product of many
evolutionary changes, consummated for the most part in the six years during
which the craft had been ruled by a central authority." We shall agree to
this, with one rather important reservation: The changes that were wrought,
between 1717 and 1723, did not spring from a desire to create something
altogether new, but rather to restore what was believed to have been the true
character of the Fraternity in the past; hence an earlier order was assumed
and served as a model for the "many evolutionary changes." The attitude of the
restorers may be gathered from the "Defence of Masonry" appended to the
printed Constitutions of 1734, from which I quote for our present purpose this
"The system as taught in the
regular lodges, may have some redundancies or defects, occasion'd by the
ignorance or indolence of the old members. And indeed, considering through
what obscurity and darkness the Mystery has been deliver'd down; the many
centuries it has survived; the many countries and languages, and sects and
parties, it has run through, we are rather to wonder it ever arriv'd to the
present age without more imperfection. In short, I am apt to think that
Masonry (as it is now explain'd) has in some circumstances declined from its
original purity! It has run along in muddy streams, and, as it were,
underground. But notwithstanding the great rust it may have contracted * * *
there is (if I judge right) much of the old fabrick still remaining; the
essential Pillars of the Building may be discover'd through the rubbish, tho'
the superstructure be over-run with moss and ivy, and the stones by length of
time be disjointed."
The scholarly brother who
wrote this, had in mind a very definite idea of the derivation of Freemasonry.
His very language, the italicized words, and the reference to "the essential
Pillars of the Building," suggest to those familiar with these things, a
fairly clear explanation he had elaborated for himself, as we shall see
In connection with the cited
extract from the "Defence of Masonry," I desire to invite your attention to
the consideration of a newspaper item appearing in the London Daily Journal of
September 5th, 1730: (2)
"It must be confessed that
there is a Society abroad from whom the English Free-Masons (asham'd of their
true Origin) have copied a few Ceremonies, and take great Pains to persuade
the World that they are derived from them and are the same with them. These
are called Rosicrucians * * *.
"On this Society have our
Moderns endeavor'd to ingraft themselves, tho' they know nothing of their
material Constitutions, and are acquainted only with some of their Signs of
Probation and Entrance, inasmuch that 'tis but of late years (being better
informed by some kind Rosicrucian) that they knew John the Evangelist to be
their right Patron, having before kept for his Day that dedicated to John the
Here we have in convenient
form a summary of comments given currency by a number of contemporaneous
critics of the Fraternity, chiefly dissatisfied old brethren wedded to the
belief that Freemasonry was wholly derived from operative Masonry. By
intimating that "our Moderns" were trying to "ingraft themselves" on the
Society of Rosicrucians, they reveal a significant fact which is verified,
though in veiled terms, by our quotation from the "Defence of Masonry."
Bearing in mind that this "Defence" was published with the implied official
sanction of the Grand Lodge, we must assume that the learned brethren who
directed the inner affairs of the Fraternity, were convinced that the
substance of Freemasonry was in nowise derived from operative Masonry, but
that the "Mystery" had come down through the ages by way of quite a different
channel. Since the suggestion is offered that the "Rosicrucians" were regarded
as the true forebears, it will be worth our while to examine this question
more closely. (3)
We shall have to take for
granted certain matters discussed in my paper on "Medieval Craft Gilds and
Freemasonry," published in THE BUILDER (November and December, 1917):
(1) The Constitutions,
including "Laws, Forms and Usages," reveal former external connections of the
forebears of the Fraternity with gilds of operative Masons.
(2) The "drooping" lodges
which united, in 1717, to form the Grand Lodge of England were of an
essentially convivial character, possessing certain "antient" ceremonies and
modes of recognition and guarding "mysteries" of the origin and meaning of
which the remnant of the earlier "secret brotherhood" were ignorant.
(3) The earlier London lodge
or lodges of "Accepted" (Speculative) Masons had no continuous history,
revealing its existence rather by sporadic revivals of "an old order."
(4) Degrees, symbolism and
ritualistic peculiarities known as "Arts and Sciences," consisted of
borrowings from several sources, the selection and elaboration being governed,
in the first two decades of the Grand Lodge, by deliberate efforts of the
organizers of the work to restore the "Original purity of the old fabrick."
(5) The spirit of Freemasonry
is a growth from beginnings which may he traced with some degree of certainty
to societies quite different from those which contributed Constitutions and
suggestions for initiatory ceremonies.
ROSICRUCIANS OR ROSY CROSS
Our present inquiry will deal
largely with explanations of presumptions three, four and five, and more
particularly with the so-called Rosicrucian origins of Freemasonry.
regarding Alchemists and their reputed successors in Rosicrucianism, covering
a vast and largely unprofitable literature on the subject, have led me to
formulate a few conclusions which I shall present more or less categorically.
A fuller discussion would be too cruel a trial of the fraternal patience of
the readers of THE BUILDER.
We shall probably never know
for a certainty whether there ever was an organized Fraternity of the Rosy
Cross. We do know there were reputed and professed Rosicrucians, particularly
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and there were also distinguished
leaders of thought who stoutly defended the doctrines ascribed to the
Fraternity and many reputable men who adopted the Rosicrucian symbolism, in an
extensive array of books. There is furthermore abundant testimony to warrant
the inference that there were in existence "invisible" or secret societies and
lodges composed of men seeking honestly to give realization to the practice of
the art or arts described in these books as characteristic of the mystic
Brethren of the Rosy Cross. The absence of a recognized authoritative central
body was in the course of events taken advantage of by impostors parading
under the name of Rosicrucians who played upon the credulity of the public
till the name sank into general disrepute.
The English and Scottish
Rosicrucians who are the only ones to be taken into account for our purpose,
were Christian Theosophists. Like their brethren on the European continent,
they made much of Cabala, following chiefly the Alexandrinian Philo.
Neo-Platonism or Neo-Pythagorism, the Old Testament and Christian theology
also engaged their attention. They devoted themselves with fervor to the study
of chemistry, physics, music, astronomy and mathematics (particularly
geometry). Mystic, allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures was a
characteristic trait. Their supreme object, however, to which all studies were
subordinated, was the promotion of the welfare of humanity.
These Rosicrucians were the
lineal descendants of the theosophic portion of the Alchemists who are
sometimes called Hermetic Philosophers.
DERIVATION OF MASONIC SYMBOLS
Bearing in mind that
Hermetics and the Rosy Cross fraternity are fundamentally the same, though
they differ in name and somewhat in allegorical interpretation, let me now
quote for you a letter by Albert Pike, addressed to the historian Gould, which
contains this interesting reference to Hermetic symbols to be found in
"I have been for some time
collecting the old Hermetic and Alchemical works in order to find out what
Masonry came into possession of from them. I have ascertained with certainty
that the square and compasses, the triangle, the oblong square, the three
Grand Masters, the idea embodied in the substitute word, the Sun, Moon and
Master of the Lodge, and others were included in the number.
"The symbols that I have
spoken of as Hermetic may have been borrowed by Hermeticism, but all the same
it had them, and I do not know where they were used, outside of Hermeticism,
until they appeared in Masonry.
"I think that the
Philosophers, becoming Free Masons, introduced into Masonry its symbolism."
My own investigations have
verified Albert Pike's conclusions. In fact, I would greatly extend the list
of symbols, adding to them symbols which are to be found among the true
Brethren of the Rosy Cross, with this result:
Purely Rosy Cross Symbols:
(4) Jacob's ladder; rough and perfect Ashlar; Sun, Moon, and Master of the
Lodge; flaming star; three Grand Masters; three columns; two pillars; circle
between parallel lines; point within a circle; sacred delta (triangle);
oblong; three, five and seven steps.
Symbols which the Operative
Gild and Brethren of the Rosy Cross had in common: Square; compasses; level;
plumb; trowel; bee-hive; horn of plenty; hour glass; cassia.
Purely Masonic: Three
windows; twenty-four-inch gauge; gavel; trestle board; tesselated border.
The first and second lists
might have been extended. We hope to have given enough, however, to suggest
the indebtedness of Freemasonry to the Rosy Cross.
The choice of two
explanations is offered. One is that implied in the quotation we have given
from the London Daily Journal in 1730, which would have us conclude that "the
English Free-Masons (asham'd of their true origin)" imported Rosy Cross
symbols and ceremonials into the system of the Fraternity. The other is
founded on the quoted passage from the "Defence," which tells in so many words
that Freemasonry had come down the ages through the Fraternity of the Rosy
Cross, that much had been lost on the way which the Grand Lodge of England
sought to restore in its proper place. In other words, following the former
allegation, the Grand Lodge adopted the Brethren of the Rosy Cross as
forefathers; following the latter declaration, the Brethren of the Rosy Cross
were the true forebears.
There is no reason for
assuming that the Alchemists were the originators of the symbols referred to
in the foregoing list. In fact, I am sure these symbols were borrowed from an
FLUDD AND FRISIUS
We agreed to confine our
attention chiefly to the theosophic Alchemists of England and Scotland. Let us
limit the range still further by disregarding the older Alchemists and taking
note only of the representative leaders of the later (if not the last) of the
"True Brethren of the Rosy Cross." (5) Here we have an abundance of first hand
information in the several treatises in defense of the mystic Fraternity by
that renowned English physician and philosopher, Robert Fludd, and in the "Summum
Bonum" (The Supreme Good), a Latin dissertation by a Scottish friend of
Fludd's, who wrote under the pseudonym of Joachimus Frisius (or Frizius).
The Century Dictionary gives
this brief biographical notice of Robert Fludd, or Flud: "Born at Bearsted,
Kent, 1574, died at London, Sept. 8th, 1637. An English physician and mystical
philosopher. He wrote several treatises in defense of the fraternity of the
'Rosy Cross." Waite, who presents a more extensive biography in "The Real
History of the Rosicrucians," adds this word of appreciation: "The central
figure of Rosicrucian literature * * * is Robertus de Fluctibus, the great
English mystical philosopher of the seventeenth century, a man of immense
erudition, of exalted mind, and, to judge by his writings, of extreme personal
sanctity." Fludd was one of the last, if not the last, of the giants of
universal scholarship of whom there were many, before the days of
specialization set in. He was a devout Christian and a staunch Protestant,
basing his philosophy of the universe frankly on the Bible.
Of Joachimus Frisius, Frizius
or Frize, whom we shall call Frisius, we know nothing, except that Fludd tells
us he was a Scotchman and wrote his book partly in Scottish and partly in
Latin. Fludd translated the Scottish portions into Latin, made a few slight
changes in the text, and had the whole put into print, under the title of "Summum
(To be continued)
(1) See "Early Hebrew
History" by that distinguished authority on Old Testament literature, our R.'.
W.'. Brother, the Rev. John Punnett Peters, Rector of St. Michael's Church,
(2) As quoted by Gould who
had access to the original.
(3) In Scotland, too, we find
allusions to a connection between the Brethren of the Rosy Cross and Masonry;
as for instance in a poem forming part of Adamson's "Muses Threnodie,"
published at Edinburgh, in 1638. There in singing the praises of the beauties
of Perthshire, the poet says:
"For we be brethren of the
"We have the Mason word and
(4) Or Rosy Cross and
Hermetic combined,-or Alchemist symbols.
(5) We exclude, of course,
altogether the spurious Rosicrucianism which brought the name of the,
Fraternity into disrepute by its grandiloquence and diletantism and the
charlatanry and deliberate fraud carried on under its banner.
THE DAY OF PEACE
When will peace come ?
When the lips of "patriots"
Throughout the world;
When the pure white flag of
Shall be unfurled.
When will war die ?
When from every land beneath
"Laws" shall have passed,
And the higher, truer Law of
Shall bind men fast.
- T.C. Clark.
THE MYSTIC ART
What is the mystic Art ?
Just a blending, that is all
And so moulded to a test
That it is the Truth at call
To the heart who craves the
Just a passport to the realm
Of the blest discovery,
Just a system at the helm
O'er life's trackless
What is the mystic Art ?
Just a measure made to meet
Soulfulness upon the way,
Just a something thrumming
Heartstrings tuned to
Just a something that invites
To the social cheer the best,
Just a welcome that unites
In a higher moral quest.
What is the mystic Art ?
Just a home where there is
But a benediction heard,
Where no ear has ever caught
Aught that's not a restful
Just the needful for the
Just ideals for the mind,
Just a blend of soul-made Art
That they both so love to
What is the mystic Art ?
Something that to mem'ry
More and more as years roll
Something that to manhood
Treasures gold can never buy,
Something that with cobwebs
Cables that for aye unite,
Something that in trials
Friendships glowing yet more
What is the mystic Art?
There's no answer satisfies,
Not e'en what we all can say
That 'tis something that
Something needed on the way.
Wonder tis, this alchemy
Of the Art that writes so
Does not interline the way
To the secret we would gain!
- Bro. L. B. Mitchell,
Fling open thy window as
Unfolds from the darkness of
And mark how the vine, in its
Is seeking the kiss of the
Fling open thy heart to the
Of love rising out of the
The world by the warmth of
Will burst like a garden in
Fling open thy vision to
That bursts like a sun from
And mark how, in growing to
Is life like a rose to the
Unfetter thy spirit exulting
When darkness and storms
Its pinions, at evening
Some garland most surely will
Though home be a roof that is
Thy slumber on pallets of
All nature will greet thee at
And children will smile as ye
- James T. Duncan.
FURTHER NOTES ON THE COMACINE
BY BRO. W. RAVENSCROFT,
IN order to trace a few of
the leading features in which the architecture of the East as well as other
allied arts affected the work of the Comacines, it will be desirable to give a
very short description of the larger type of church these Masters would build.
It would consist of a basilican ground plan (Fig. 3b) * having nave and side
aisles, the nave being divided from the aisles by rows of columns or piers,
the latter sometimes with, sometimes without, capitals, and semi-circular
arches generally without mouldings and springing directly from the capitals
where such occur. Some of these capitals would be elaborately carved, others
of the cushion shape we find in our own Norman work. Clerestory windows would
occur above these arches, and the covering of the nave would consist of a flat
pitched roof of timber construction. Beyond the nave, generally eastward,
would come the presbytery having aisles in continuation of those on either
side of the nave, and each, as well as the presbytery, ending in a
semi-circular apse. The presbytery would in many cases have the space for the
choir enclosed with a low screen and would frequently be raised several steps,
having beneath it, approached by steps, a crypt. With the exception of the
nave, the various parts of the edifice would be sometimes vaulted with simple
The High Altar would be a
little away from the central apse and placed under a baldachino.
One, sometimes two, campanili
would rise either from a presbytery aisle or from the west end of one of the
nave aisles or in other instances detached or nearly so.
The baptistery in most
instances would be a separate building near by and generally octagonal in
plan, with or without a small apse on one side. . * Shown on page 199, THE
Architectural details, other
than those already mentioned, would consist chiefly in the small roundarched
windows deeply recessed from the outside; small, and in some instances large
circular windows; little openings in gables in the form of a Greek Cross;
doorways semi-circular headed, generally having a lintol and tympanum, some
very plain, others more or less enriched with columns and mouldings on arches;
corbel tables under eaves and running up gables; pilaster strips at angles,
some having semi-circular columns on their faces. these being also found on
external walls independently of pilaster strips, a kind of dentil ornament,
used sometimes as a string course with corbel tabling beneath and sometimes
under eaves and then, as ornament, the interlaced endless knot, nearly always
in Italy composed of three strands.
Decoration internally would
consist of sculpture in capitals and other details, and of fresco painting and
decorated stucco, sometimes in low relief. The Comacine lion is a later
product, but this description above outlined would fairly well apply to a
church of the eleventh or twelfth century.
Better illustration there
cannot be than is to be found in the Church of S. Abbondio at Como, and the
Baptistery at Lenno (Figs. 6 and 7). The Duomo at Modena also, originally
designed as we have already seen, by Master Lanfrancus, contains practically
all the chief characteristics of Comacine work. In the earlier work of the
Comacines ornament is sparingly used and the striking feature of such work is
its dignified solemnity.
Sig. Monneret de Villard, in
a booklet entitled "I. Monumenti del Lago di Como," (Milan), claims for the
Comacine Masters peculiarities in their work other than those already
indicated in these notes, and, differing from Merzario, holds that it is not a
matter of indifference as to whether the term "Lombard" or "Comacine" be used
in describing their work seeing there are features of both schools so
distinctive as to render any such indifference misleading. Doubtless both were
offshoots or descendants of the Roman Collegia, but all the same he considers
they were separate offshoots.
Of course there were many
features common to both, and on the other hand it must not be supposed that
even essential differences were in every case rigidly maintained. Indeed,
indications are not wanting that the Comacine was the parent of the Lombard
The two outstanding features
of difference according to Sig. Monneret between the Comacine school and that
which he designates as the Lombard or Milanese school, arose out of material
Not having stone or marble
the latter used tera cotta, (in which one supposes may be included brick,)
while the other used stone and marble.
This doubtless was a
difference which would be broken down in many instances; probably, however,
rather in the more frequent use of stone and marble than of terra cotta and
the use of the vault appears to have been a feature in the Milanese work of
which the Comacine Masters were somewhat shy.
The vault in its larger
development involved its consideration even in the laying in of foundations
and the planning of the building seeing it necessitated buttresses, piers and
their contrivances to meet its thrust.
So the Comacines, except
perhaps in apses, crypts and sometimes isles, preferred the flat roof
treatment with the beams and a direct downward thrust, and having no
projections in the form of buttresses beyond the very flat pilasters already
described in these pages.
They are also supposed to
have preferred elaborately carved capitals to the plain cushion capitals
resembling our Norman ones, but that they did also use these there is plenty
of evidence. The interlaced patterns of the Comacines Sig. Monneret considers
to be the more elaborate type, and he attributes to them the curious figures
of animals, birds, etc.
Whether he is on sure ground
here is certainly doubtful, but the Eastern influence on Comacine work might,
in part, account for this, if his opinion is correct.
One other point of difference
between the two schools appears to be that while the Lombard or Milanese
covered the ends of their nave and the aisles with a facade, unbroken and as a
single front, the Comacines, when they planned naves and aisles, marked in
some way in the facade, either by pilaster strips or more generally by raising
the central portion, the fact that behind it such existed, which in general
the Milanese did not.
Let us now see how in some
respects the architecture of the Comacines was affected by the East, and the
first point must necessarily be the influence of the Greek plan and of the
dome, so characteristically Byzantine. The Greek plan which in its simplest
form would consist of nave, presbytery and transepts, of approximately equal
lengths, and having a dome over the crossing, was sometimes used by the
Comacines, but not very often, and it must not be forgotten that the
suggestion of the dome would come from Rome quite as well as from Byzantium,
seeing that when Constantine attracted skilled Craftsmen to his new capital,
the Pantheon at Rome had been for centuries in their view, and thus the dome
was not a new thing to them first seen in the East.
That this particular
influence over the Comacines was but partial is clear from the small number of
their churches built on Greek plan with domes and the great preponderance of
those built on basilican lines with or without campanili.
Professor Baldwin Brown says
(From Schola to Cathedral, p. 135):
"In the West the tower
originating in early Christian times becomes, under the hand of the medieval
builders, the feature wherein resides especially that romantic aspiring
character of Christian architecture which finds its most perfect outcome in
Gothic while the dome is the favourite form of the builders of the Eastern
Of the influence of the
Byzantine dome, however, a singularly interesting example is found in the
Duomo at Ancona.
As described by one of the
clergy on the spot, the original church was Byzantine, but basilican in form,
the altar being at the west end (the present west transept) and the entrance
being from the east end (the present east transept.) That church dated from
A.D. 500. In 1150 A.D. the church was turned into a Greek Cross and the altar
placed in the new choir, which was in the north. Then it was that the dome was
formed with the shafts supporting the same and also the nave running south.
The extension of the choir
which was "renovated" in 1733 unduly lengthens the head of the Cross, and
while this is evidently eighteenth century work as regards the interior,
externally it appears to be that of the twelfth century.
The priest who gave this
information described the two styles of work as Byzantine and Lombardic. Now,
if the dome were pure Byzantine, one would look for the pedentives (small
angle arches springing from the cardinal faces of a building square on plain
and bringing thus the square to an octagon, as better suited for a circular or
octagonal dome) by means of which circular domes were imposed on square
spaces, characteristic of that work. But instead of this we have angle shafts
and arcading filling out the space left between a square and a circle at each
corner until the shape of the dome is perfectly circular (see frontispiece),
all in Comacine work. It would be interesting to trace in other instances how
far the Comacines got over this difficulty thus rather than in the correct
The influence of Byzantine
art on Comacine carving needs to be seen and felt and varies so much as to
elude description, but careful examination will not fail to detect that
influence when it exists.
And in this connection a good
example of a real Byzantine capital, side by side with Comacine work, is to be
found in the Duomo at Ancona where one or two of the capitals in the older
part of the church still stand and look as fresh and strong as they did many
centuries since (Fig. 8), and which are unmistakably Byzantine.
The omission of the
entablature between columns and arches may not be peculiar to Comacine work,
but in Byzantine construction there frequently appears a sort of second abacus
imposed on the real one and acting as a kind of remembrance of the entablature
which, in pure Comacine work, is absent. S. Vitale, S. Apollinare Nuovo and S.
Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna, afford good examples of this super abacus.
Of the interlaced knot-work
used as sculptured decoration it is unnecessary to add to what has already
been written with regard to it, but while in its full development it is
claimed as a distinguishing feature of Comacine work, it may be pointed out
that in its simpler form it may have a Greek as well as a Roman origin. Its
development was widespread throughout Italy, chiefly of three-stranded work,
and in Rome in the Forum, the Castle of S. Angelo and many a church,
especially that of S. Sabina, the fragments remaining are numerous.
But there is one form of this
work which is so peculiar as to call for remark. It consists in the
unsatisfactory practice of carving a knot in the shafts of columns. This
treatment as carried out at Wurzburg has already been noticed, but its
appearance in various parts of Italy suggests that at least the same motive
operated in each case. What that motive was it is impossible to say--it may
have been a sort of Gild mark, or it may have had a symbolic signification,
which is more probable. At any rate it is to be found in the Broletto at Como,
at S. Michaele Lucca, where four columns are thus treated, on the west front
of Sta. Maria della Pieve at Arezzo,* at Valcamonica, and doubtless many other
places in Italy and elsewhere.
In Didrons Christian
Iconography, vol. I, pp. 387 and 389, will be found two illustrations of Greek
crosses, each in a frame, having supported columns twisted in this manner and
dated respectively "first ages" and "eleventh century"; this suggests
certainly a Greek origin for this distinctly Comacine detail.
It is very unconstructional
in design, making the column to appear as if it were composed of two parts
with a kind of slip-knot in the center. It can only be done in the case of
clustered columns of two or more shafts and does not appear where great weight
has to be carried.
The use of the small Greek
Cross in gables and other parts has already been shown to be of Byzantine
(To be continued)
* See Fig. 9, September
There are no points of the
compass on the chart of true patriotism. --Robert C. Winthrop.
SYMBOLISM OF THE THREE
PART I--THE SYMBOLISM OF THE
ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE
IT is first necessary that we
should understand the scope of my subject. First, be it understood, I attempt
to exhaust no topic upon which I touch, but only to stimulate the interest and
curiosity of my readers to pursue the subject further for themselves. Under
the term "symbolism" I include also the legends and allegories of Masonry,
though properly speaking they are not symbols. Yet they are all so closely
interwoven and so employed for the same or like purposes they can scarcely be
General Albert Pike, that
great Freemason and philosopher, says that "to translate the symbols (of
Freemasonry) into the trivial and commonplace is the blundering of
That there has been some
blundering of this kind on the part of our Monitor makers must be apparent to
any serious and intelligent student of Masonry.
Difficult as it is to assign
adequate meaning to some of our Masonic symbols, it is equally difficult, when
once started, to know where to stop. Says a distinguished British Freemason,
Brother W. H. Rylands:
"Symbolism is always a
difficult affair as everyone knows or at least ought to know. When once fairly
launched on the subject, it often becomes an avalanche or torrent which may
carry one away into the open sea or more than empty space. On few questions
has more rubbish been written than that of symbols and symbolism, it is a
happy hunting ground for those, who guided by no sort of system or rule, ruled
only by their own sweet will, love to allow their fancies and imaginations to
run wild. Interpretations are given which have no other foundation than the
disordered brain of the writer, and, when proof or anything approaching a
definite statement is required, symbols are confused with metaphors and we are
involved in a further maze of follies and wilder fancies."
Thus I am to steer our bark
between the Scylla of Brother Pike and the Charybdis of Brother Rylands;
without, therefore, descending to the common-place on the one hand or soaring
away from the plane of common sense on the other, I hope to be able to say
something of interest concerning the symbolism of the First degree.
A symbol is a visible
representation of some object or thing, real or imagined, employed to convey a
certain idea. Some times there is an apparent connection between the symbol
and the thought represented, but more often the association seems to be
entirely arbitrary. The earliest forms of symbolism of which we know were the
ancient hieroglyphical systems of writing. We may indeed say that symbolism is
but a form of writing; in fact, the earliest and for hundreds, and perhaps
even thousands of years, the only form of writing known to the human race. It
prevailed among every ancient people of whom we have any definite knowledge.
The learned Dr. William
Stukeley, of England, the author of many antiquarian works, said truly that
the "wisdom of all the ancients that is come down to our hands is symbolic."
This ancient form of writing,
now generally fallen into disuse, Masonry has to some extent at least
perpetuated and employs in recording her precepts and impressing them upon her
Another ancient and favorite
method of teaching still employed by Masons is that of the allegory. The
allegory is a figure of speech, that is to say, a departure from the direct
and simple mode of speaking, and the employment, for the sake of illustration
or emphasis, of a fancied resemblance between one object or thing and another.
If we say of a man, as we
often uncharitably do, "He is an ass," this is a metaphor. If we say of him as
Carlisle did of Wordsworth, "He looks like a horse," this is a simile. An
extended simile with the comparative form and words left out, in which the
real subject is never directly mentioned but left to be inferred, is called an
allegory. The most famous example of the allegory in literature is Bunyan's
One desirous of entering into
the real spirit of these ancient methods of imparting instruction should read
Bacon's "Wisdom of the Ancients," and particularly the preface to that
remarkable book. He shows that nearly all the complex and to us absurd tales
of Grecian mythology were but parts of a great system for inculcating natural,
moral and religious truths by means of the allegory. What more grotesque and
revolting, we may ask, than the myth of Pan ?
"He is portrayed by the
ancients," to quote Bacon, "in this guise: on his head a pair of horns that
reach to heaven; his body rough and hairy, his beard long and shabby; his
shape biformed, above like a man, and below like a beast, his feet like goats
hoofs; and he bore these ensigns of his jurisdiction, to-wit, in his left hand
a pipe of seven reeds, and in his right a sheephook, or a staff crooked at the
upper end, and his mantle made of a leopard's skin."
Yet under the master touch of
Lord Bacon this incongruous creature, half man and half goat, is shown to be a
beautiful and apt symbol of all nature.
Approaching that branch of
symbolism which at present concerns us, Masonic Symbolism, it may be asserted
in the broadest terms that the Mason who knows nothing of our symbolism knows
little of Freemasonry. He may be able to repeat every line of the ritual
without an error, and yet, if he does not understand the meaning of the
ceremonies, the signs, the words, the emblems and the figures, he is an
ignoramus Masonically. It is distressing to witness how much time and labor is
spent in memorizing "the work"; and how little in ascertaining what it all
Far be it from me to
under-rate the importance of letter perfection in rendering our ritual. In no
other way can the symbolism of our emblems, ceremonies, traditions, and
allegories be accurately preserved, but I do maintain that, if we are never to
understand their meanings, it is useless to preserve them. The two go hand in
hand; without either the beauty and symmetry of the Masonic temple is
It is in its symbols and
allegories that Freemasonry surpasses all other societies. If any of them now
teach by these methods it is because they have slavishly imitated Freemasonry.
The great Mason and scholar,
Brother Albert Pike, said:
"The symbolism of Masonry is
the soul of Masonry. Every symbol of a lodge is a religious teacher, the mute
teacher also of morals and philosophy. It is in its ancient symbols and in the
knowledge of their true meanings that the preeminence of Freemasonry over all
other orders consists. In other respects. some of them may compete with it,
rival it, perhaps even except it; but by its symbols it will reign without a
peer when it learns again what its symbols mean, and that each is the
embodiment of some great, old, rare truth."
In our Masonic studies the
moment we forget that the whole and every part of Freemasonry is symbolic or
allegoric, the same instant we begin to grope in the dark. Its ceremonies,
signs, tokens, words and lectures at once become meaningless or trivial. The
study of no other aspect of Freemasonry is more important, yet I believe the
study of no aspect of it has been so much neglected. Brother Robert F. Gould,
of England, our foremost Masonic historian, declares it is the "one great and
pressing duty of Freemasons." Brother Albert Pike, no doubt the greatest
philosopher produced by our fraternity, declared as we have seen that
symbolism is the soul of Masonry.
We are told in our Monitors
that "every emblem, character and figure depicted in the lodge has a moral and
useful meaning and forcibly inculcates the practice of virtue." The same may
with equal truth be said of our every ceremony, sign, token, legend, and
allegory. If this be true, it must follow that to be ignorant of Masonic
symbolism is to be ignorant of Masonry.
In the ceremonies of making a
Mason, however, we do not attempt to do more than to indicate the pathway to
Masonic knowledge, to lay the foundation for the Masonic edifice; the brother
must pursue the journey or complete the structure for himself by reading and
There must be somewhere in
Freemasonry a consistent plan running entirely through it by which all that is
genuine in it may be rationally explained. It can not be that a miscellaneous
collection of rules, customs, symbols and moral precepts, however valuable in
and of themselves, thrown together without order or design, could have
attracted the attention among intelligent men that Freemasonry has done in all
ages in which it is known. Surely unity must somewhere exist in the great
variety which we find in the Masonic system.
A little study will reveal to
us that the great, vital, underlying idea, sought to be inculcated by the
several degrees considered collectively and which runs entirely through the
system, is to give an allegorical or symbolical representation of human
existence, not only here but hereafter, and to point the way which leads to
the greatest good both in this life and in the life to come. Our ceremonies
and symbols, while beautiful and impressive in and of themselves incidentally
teaching valuable lessons of religion, morality and industry, all cluster
around and contribute to this central idea. But it is only when we reflect
upon them in relation to this sublime allegory of human life that we are
enabled to comprehend them in the fullness of their beauty and grandeur. The
Masonic student, therefore, who has never caught this conception of his
subject has failed to grasp Freemasonry in its most instructive and important
Endeavor, therefore, to get
clearly in your minds the point I emphasize and which I shall attempt to
demonstrate, namely, that every sign, every symbol and every ceremony in the
First degree, in addition to any primary signification it may have, is also
designed to illustrate allegorically some moral phase of human existence. I
have dwelt at length on this thought because I believe that it is not
otherwise possible adequately to explain any part of the Masonic system.
Initiation is now as it has
been for countless ages, employed as a symbol of the birth and endless
development of the human mind and soul. The Entered Apprentice degree
represents birth and the preparatory stage of life, or in other words, youth;
the Fellow Craft represents the constructive stage, or manhood; the Master
Mason represents the reflecting stage, or old age, death, the resurrection,
and the everlasting life. This explanation of the three degrees is briefly
given in our lecture on the Three Steps delineated on the Master's Carpet.
Is it true that the lodge
symbolically represents the world? I might say to begin that some have thought
the word "lodge" derived from the Sanskrit word "loga," meaning the world.
However this may be, our monitors tell us that the form of a lodge is an
"oblong square" from East to West and between North and South, from earth to
heaven and from surface to center. This of course, if it means anything, can
mean nothing less than the entire known habitable earth and Masonic scholars
universally so interpret it. This meaning was more manifest at the period when
Freemasonry is supposed to have had its origin, for the then known world
living around the shores of the Mediterranean sea was literally of the form of
an "oblong square." One doubting this may consult any map of the ancient
Dudley, in his Naology, says
that the idea that the earth was a level surface and of a square form may be
justly supposed to have prevailed generally in the early ages of the world. It
is certain that down to a comparatively recent date it was believed that
beyond a certain limit northward life was impossible because of the darkness
and cold, and likewise that beyond a certain limit southward it was impossible
because of the blinding glare and intense heat of the sun. It was even
supposed that in the farthest South the earth was yet molten. The biblical
idea was that the earth was square. Isaiah (xi, 12) speaks of gathering "the
dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth," and in the Apocalypse
(xx, 9) in the vision of "four angels standing on the four corners of the
So thoroughly grounded were
these beliefs that in ancient times the "square," now the recognized symbol of
the lodge, was the recognized symbol of the earth, as the circle was of the
sun. In this antiquated expression "oblong square," we therefore have not only
an apt description of the ancient world and evidence that the lodge is
symbolical thereof, (1) but also a remarkable evidence of the great age of
Freemasonry. It tends strongly to date our institution back to the time when
the human mind conceived the earth to be a plane surface and was ignorant of
its spherical character.
Likewise the lodge, which is
sometimes defined as "the place where Masons work," symbolizes the world or
the place where all men work. Again, its covering is said to be a cloudy
canopy or starry decked heaven, a description that could have not the
slightest application to anything else but the world.
If the lodge symbolizes the
world and the Mason symbolizes man, it follows that initiation must symbolize
the introduction of the individual into the world, or the birth of the child.
It was so regarded in the ancient systems of initiation and is now so
understood by Masonic scholars everywhere. It is the least important view to
consider it merely as the method of admitting one to membership in a Society.
The preparation of the
candidate and the plight in which he is admitted an Entered Apprentice
strikingly typifies the helpless, destitute, blind and ignorant condition of
the newly born babe. But initiation means more than this; by all the
authorities it is agreed to be a symbolical representation of the process by
which not only the child had been brought into existence and educated into a
scholarly and refined man but that by which the race has been brought out of
savagery and barbarism into civilization. D....., neither n..... nor c .....,
b...... nor s......, w..... c...... t....., fittingly typifies the barbaric,
not to say savage, state in which man originally moved when he knew not the
use of metals and out of which he has been brought to his present condition.
It is precisely this that has led to the application of the term "barbarians"
to the uninitiated. On this point I quote Brother Albert Pike, again; he says:
"In that preparation of the
candidate which symbolizes the condition of the Aryan race especially in its
infancy, he is deprived of all m ...... and m......, because their use was not
known to the earliest men; that he is n ....... nor c ...... represents the
condition of the race when there were no manufacturers and the fabrics of the
loom were unknown, when men dressed in the skins of animals, and, when the
heat made these a burden, were hardly clothed at all. That he is b.......
represents their blindness of ignorance, even of the most useful arts, and
although of divine truths; and that in which the number 3 appears, the c.....
t......... three times around the ..... the bonds in which they were held of
their sensual appetites, their passions that were their masters, anger,
revenge, hatred, and all the evil kindred of these; and their superstitious
A little study and reflection
will show that every Masonic symbol has an apt application not only to the
moral and intellectual life history of the individual but also to that of the
race considered collectively. Biologists tell us that this parallel between
the individual and the race holds good in the material realm and that in the
physical growth and development of every child from the moment of its
conception till it is a fully grown man, there is epitomized the history of
the evolutionary development of the race through all the ages that have
passed. However this may be, it is certain that an exact parallel does exist
between the moral and intellectual growth of the child and the process which
history indicates the race as a whole has passed through.
One of the things first
noticed in the Entered Apprentice degree and continued throughout all the
degrees is the employment of the tools of the operative Mason, as emblems of
moralalities. This peculiarity of Freemasonry is well known even outsiders.
Brother George Fleming Moore,
editor of the New Age and Sovereign Grand Commander, A. and A. S. Rite,
Southern Jurisdiction, declares that it is clear that the ancient Chinese
philosophers used our present Masonic symbols "in almost precisely same sense
in which they are used by us in modern Freemasonry." (2)
The tools with which men
labor are not inappropriate for use as moral symbols, they are neither humble
nor trivial. They are worthy emblems of the highest and noblest virtues. Tools
have performed an astonishing part in civilizing and enlightening mankind.
They are one of the few things that distinctly mark man as immeasurably
superior to the other animals. Some scientists have even contended that it is
alone man's ability to fashion and use tools that has raised him above the
level of the brute creation. But radical as this view must be, it can not be
denied by any thoughtful man that the use of tools has been one of the chief
instrumentalities in all human progress, not only material but mental and
spiritual. Without tools we could not till the soil, or work the mines, or
reduce the metal; we could enjoy only the rudest shelters; and all the
creations of art which appeal to our spiritual natures would be impossible.
The very stages of human advancement are named from the character of the tools
that were employed during them; thus, the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron
Scientists suppose the first
great achievement of man in his progress from savagery to civilization to have
been the development of articulate speech; the second, the discovery of the
uses of fire; the third, they believe to have been the invention of a tool,
namely, the bow and arrow. Pottery, another class of utensils, they hold to
have been the fourth; the domestication of animals, the fifth; and the
discovery of the manufacture and use of iron, the sixth. The seventh was the
art of writing which also involved the use of a tool. Thus we see that four of
the epoch making strides of savage and barbaric man had to do with the use of
With civilized man, the case
has been even more striking. His first four great discoveries or inventions
were gun-powder, the mariner's compass, the manufacture of paper, and the
printing press. The fifth was the demonstration by Copernicus (1530) that the
earth revolved on an axis and that the sun did not daily make a circuit around
her. The next in order was the steam engine and machines for weaving and
spinning. Lastly, we may name machines for generating and utilizing the
boundless possibilities of electricity. We might also mention in this
connection the gasoline engine. We will not count the flying machine whose
value as a civilizing agent is yet to be demonstrated. Thus we see of
civilized man, according to the highest authories, seven of his eight great
and distinctive achievements have been the invention and use of new tools. And
it must be remembered that the eighth, the discovery of Copernicus, was
rendered possible only through the use of another tool. To the Palmist the
heavens declared the glory of God's handiwork, but a thousand times more
solemnly and impressively do they now disclose it through the medium of the
telescope. It was nothing less than an inspiration that prompted our ancient
brethren to symbolize the tools with which they produced those creations of
art and architecture whose sight causes our breasts to heave with the highest
emotions of which we are capable.
Professor Henry Smith
Williams, (3) after pointing out the many material advantages involved in the
use of tools, says that we must not "overlook the aesthetic influence of edged
And then what must be said of
the tools that make our music? If there is a glimpse of heaven obtainable on
earth, it is in the wonderful art made possible through our marvelous musical
How our various working tools
acquired the particular symbolical meanings we now attach to them we know not.
In some instances we know that they have borne them for ages.
At any rate, it is with
peculiar fitness that the material tools, which contribute so essentially to
the building and the beautifying of the material structure, should be made to
symbolize those virtues which are so essential to the building and beautifying
of human character, that moral and spiritual building not reared with hands.
MODESTY OF TRUE CHARACTER
We are told that in the
building of Solomon's Temple there was not heard the sound of any tool of
iron. It is a well authenticated historical fact that the Jews, not to mention
other ancient peoples, believed that an iron tool was polluting to an altar to
Deity. Hence, in the days of Moses, the laws prescribed that in erecting an
altar of stone to Jehovah no iron tool should be employed upon it. The work of
erecting the Temple, therefore, went on noiselessly but with speed and
This tradition, besides being
borne out by the known facts of Hebrew history, has a beautiful symbolism. It
is this: the erection and adornment of the moral and spiritual temple in which
we are engaged, that of human character, and of which Solomon's was typical,
is not characterized by the clang of noisy tools. About true character
building there is nothing of bluster and show; it is a silent, noiseless
process. It is the emptiest tub that makes the greatest noise. Whenever you
see the front pages of the newspapers constantly filled with the interviews of
some man or when you see him constantly struggling to get into the lime-light,
you may rest assured that back of it all is not the highest type of character.
It is certain that there is present vanity; it is probable that there is back
of it selfishness and a sinister purpose. Beware of the self-advertiser and
"head-liner." The greatest characters in the world's history have been men of
modesty; their deeds, not their words, have silently spoken for them.
The candidate is early
introduced to the Cable-Tow. We have seen that his introduction into the E.A.
lodge is symbolical of birth. Among the Hindus, the Brahmans wear a sacred
cord symbolizing the second birth which they profess. The Cable-Tow thus has
in Masonry what we might term its primary allusion. It has, however, a deeper
symbolism. The word is not found in most of our dictionaries; it is
characteristically Masonic. Its obvious literal meaning is the cable or cord
by which something is towed or drawn. Hence with the greatest aptness it
represents those forces and influences which have conducted not only the
individual, but the human race out of a condition of ignorance and darkness
into one of light and knowledge. With symbolical meanings of this kind the
cord seems to have been employed in many, if not all, of the ancient systems
of initiation. The explanation of this paraphernalia given in our lecture is
its least important meaning.
It is very true that the
plucking off of one's shoes is an ancient Israelitish custom adopted among
Masons. It was employed among the Jews as a pledge of fidelity of one man to
another. Such is the symbolism of it in the Entered Apprentice degree. It has
another meaning with which we are not concerned here, but which is brought out
in the Master's degree.
A certain ceremony, the
candidate is told, was intended to signify to him that "at a time when he
could neither foresee nor prevent danger he was in the hands of a true and
trusty friend in whose fidelity he could with safety confide." This has a
literal meaning very applicable to the candidate's then condition, but if we
regard the candidate as we should, as man pursuing the journey of life, the
symbolical signification of this ceremony becomes truly profound. We all grope
in the dark from the moment we are born till we are laid upon the bier. The
candidate is no more oblivious to his way than is every man in this life to
what is before him. In our moments of apparently greatest security we often to
our astonishment find that we are in the very presence of death. The sinking
of the Titanic or the Lusitania was but one of thousands of proofs of this
truth. The winds, the lightnings, the floods and the fires destroy us without
warning. With all our boasted wisdom and foresight we can not see an inch into
the future. But every man is in the hands of a true and trusty friend in whose
fidelity he can with safety confide. He needs but do his part to the best he
knows and may then rest confident that our All-Father will take care of the
results in a manner befitting an all wise and all loving Creator.
In eastern countries (and
formerly in western countries) the inferior approaches the superior, the
servant the Master, the subject the sovereign, in an abased or groveling
manner, oftentimes with the face averted as though it were insolence to look
directly upon the august presence. Not so in Masonry; the candidate is taught
to approach the East, with his face to the front, walking erect as a man
should walk. This attitude is one of the characteristics that distinguish man
from the other animals. A few can feebly imitate it, but only on occasion and
then haltingly. Nothing adds more to a man's self-respect and strength of
character than to walk erect, holding the head well up and looking the world
and every man squarely in the face., You may experience a feeling of sorrow or
sympathy for the man who appears before you with a cringing or abject bearing,
but with this feeling there is mingled contempt. This idea we have turned into
a terse though vulgar apothegm, "Hold your head up if you die hard." We
promptly suspect the integrity of the man who can not look us squarely in the
Freemasonry teaches that all
men are and of right ought to be free; that, therefore, no man should abase or
humiliate himself before another. But this manly, erect attitude which the
candidate is taught to assume has the same symbolism as the plumb. It teaches
that we should always walk upright in our several stations before God and man.
The Bible is one of the Great
Lights, one of the Furniture, and rests upon the top of the Two Parallel
Lines. No lodge should be opened without its presence. Still it is but a
symbol; it represents divine truth in every form, whether in the form of the
written word, or in that referred to by the psalmist when he says:
"The Heavens declare the
glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth
speech, And night unto night showeth knowledge." --Ps. 19, 1.
But the shadow must not be
mistaken for the substance. There is nothing sacred or holy in the mere book.
It is only ordinary paper, leather, and ink. Its workmanship may be much
inferior to that of other books. It is what it typifies that renders it sacred
to us. Any other book having the same signification would do just as well. For
this reason the Hebrew Mason may with perfect propriety use the Old Testament
alone, or the Mohammedan may, as has been done, employ the Koran in his lodge.
In fact that book should be used which to the individual in question most
fully represents divine truth.
We are told that the lambskin
or white leather apron, the badge of a Mason, is "more ancient than the Golden
Fleece or Roman Eagle, more honorable than the Star and Garter." This sounds a
little bombastic, we must admit, yet it is literally true. The order of the
Golden Fleece, which is here referred to, had its origin in A.D. 1429; the
Roman Eagle, which was Rome's ensign of imperial power, became distinctively
such, according to Pliny, no earlier than the second consulship of Gaius
Marius or about 105 years B.C. On the other hand, it is certain that the apron
was worn as a badge of honor or sanctity more than a thousand years before
Christ. The Garter is confessedly the most illustrious order of Knighthood in
England, and is historically identified with the chivalry of the Middle Ages.
But for this very reason, it like all the other orders of chivalric
knighthood, was, as has been said by high authority, George Gordon Coulton,
(4) "hampered by the limitations of medieval society." Edward A. Freeman, the
great English historian, who has perhaps most nearly defined the spirit and
influence of knighthood, says:
"The chivalrous spirit is
above all things a class spirit. The good knight is bound to endless fantastic
courtesies towards men and still more towards women of a certain rank; he may
treat all below that rank with any degree of scorn and cruelty. The spirit of
chivalry implies the arbitrary choice of one or two virtues to be practised in
such an exaggerated degree as to become vices, while the ordinary laws of
right and wrong are forgotten. The false code of honor supplants the laws of
the commonwealth the law of God and the eternal principles. Chivalry again in
its military aspect not only encourages the love of war for its own sake
without regard to the cause for which war is waged, it encourages also an
extravagant regard for a fantastic show of personal daring which can not in
any way advance the siege or campaign which is going on. Chivalry in short is
in morals very much what feudalism is in law. Each substitutes purely personal
obligations devised in the interests of an exclusive class, for the more
homely duties of an honest man and a good citizen." (5)
This view presents knighthood
as the very antithesis of Freemasonry.
F. W. Cornish presents a
somewhat brighter picture of knighthood but says, "Against these (virtues) may
be set the vices of pride, ostentation, love of bloodshed, contempt of
inferiors, and loose manners."
But whether we take the one
or the other view, Freeman or Cornish, chivalry will not bear comparison with
Freemasonry in the nobility of its principles. Let us set against the pictures
of Freeman and Cornish the things which Freemasonry stands for. It is in
theory at least a vast school urging the study of the liberal arts and
sciences which tend to broaden, strengthen and enlighten the mind. But it is
much more than this; it is a great society of friends and brothers teaching by
precept, and let us hope by example, all those mental and moral virtues which
make and adorn character and prepare us to enjoy the blessings not only of
this life but of that which is to come. Let me enumerate some of the things
that are taught and by ceremonies peculiar to Freemasonry, are impressed upon
the minds and hearts of its initiates. A belief in Deity; the service of God;
gratitude for his blessings; reverence and adoration for his holy name;
veneration for his word; the duty and efficacy of prayer; the invocation of
his aid in every laudable undertaking; faith in Him; hope in immortality;
charity to all mankind; the relief of the distressed, particularly the
brethren and their families; the cultivation of brotherly love and the
protection of the good name of a brother and that of his family and the
sanctity of his female relatives; the adornment of the mind and heart; purity
of life and rectitude of conduct; the curbing of our desires and passions;
living in conformity to the "Great Books" of Nature and Revelation; the
practice of temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice; the cultivation of
habits of patience and perseverance; the eschewing of profanity; love for and
loyalty to country; devotion and fidelity to trust; the beauty of holiness;
the maintenance of secrecy; the observance of caution; the recognization of
real merit; the contemplation of wisdom; admiration for strength of body and
character; the love of the beautiful in nature and art; the observance of the
Sabbath; the promotion of peace and unity of the brethren; the preservation of
liberty of thought, conscience, speech and action; equality before God and the
law; the cultivation of habits of industry; the certainty of retributive
justice; the brevity and uncertainty of this life; the contemplation of death;
the resurrection of the body and life everlasting after death to those who
love God and his creatures and observe his laws. All of these and others I am
not privileged to mention here are taught every candidate and are impressed
upon his mind by peculiar ceremonies which constitute a part of the secret
arcana of the lodge.
Do you say that all these
things may be learned elsewhere with equal thoroughness and equal ease, and
that Masonry is therefore, a useless institution?
I maintain not. The fact that
the institution has lived and flourished for so long a period and that it is
today more powerful in its influence and more general in its dissemination
than ever before proves not. It approaches the mind and heart from a direction
that enables it to reach and grapple many men whom no other influence can
reach, while at the same time it doubles and multiplies many times the power
for good of those whom other influences do reach.
Is it, therefore, any
exaggeration to say that Freemasonry is more ancient than the Golden Fleece
and more honorable than the Star and Garter, or any other order that can be
conferred upon its initiate by king, prince, or potentate ?
DEFINITION OF LODGE
We are told that a lodge is a
certain number of Masons duly assembled with the Holy Bible, square and
compasses. These three properties should indeed always be present but to the
existence of a lodge in its highest sense it is more necessary that there
should be present what they symbolize, namely: Truth, Virtue and
Self-restraint. Without these there may be the semblance of but no real lodge.
Bible, square and compasses should be displayed in every opened lodge, not
chiefly for their own sake but for what they represent.
HIGH HILLS AND LOW VALES
We are told that our ancient
brethren usually held their lodges on high hills or in low vales. This
allusion to this antiquated custom is another hoary lock upon the brow of our
symbolism. The explanation given is a very simple and practical one, namely:
because they better lent themselves to purposes of secrecy. But there is
another and deeper reason. Whatever may be the explanation, it is clear that
from the remotest times hills and valleys have been peculiarly venerated by
mankind. On the "High Places" the Jews and their neighbors worshipped God; the
glens and dales our imagination has populated with the charming "Little
People," the sprites and fairies of mythology and our nursery tales. The
beauty spots of earth are where mountains and valleys succeed each other in
greatest profusion. These are they that in all ages have testified to the
majesty and glory of God and stirred our imaginations and inspired our poets.
WISDOM, STRENGTH AND BEAUTY
We are told in our Monitors
that our institution is supported by three great pillars, Wisdom, Strength and
Beauty, because there should be wisdom to contrive, strength to support, and
beauty to adorn all great and important undertakings. The lodge whose members
are characterized by wisdom to plan with judgment, strength to resist evil
tendencies and influences, and by the beauty of brotherly love and charity is
sure to prosper. Nothing more is needed to give it success. Truly may it be
said that these three attributes support our institution and with equal truth
may it be said that they support all other institutions and creations.
Infinite wisdom planned and
formed this universe, omnipotent strength hurls the sun, the earth, the moon,
the stars through space at speeds we can not conceive, and yet holds each in
its accustomed orbit with such inerrancy that astronomers can now calculate
the position of each thousands of years hence, while a beauty which poets have
for ages in vain attempted to express completes the work. In short, wisdom,
strength and beauty sum up the universe in three words.
Wisdom, strength and beauty
make a perfect building. There must be wisdom to plan and execute; this gives
to the structure convenience and utility. There must be strength to support;
this gives to the building firmness and durability. There must be beauty to
adorn; this gives that which pleases and appeals to man's moral and aesthetic
taste. There may be wisdom and strength but without beauty the result is, as
has been truly observed, mere construction or at most a piece of engineering.
It may be admirable, even wonderful, but without beauty it is not
architecture. There may be beauty, but if there is not wisdom of plan and
execution and strength to resist the processes of decay the result is a
disappointment. Who, that visited the Chicago Exposition in 1893 and viewed
that dream of beauty, was not saddened by the thought that there was no
strength there? These three essential elements of architecture, Vitruvius, the
noted architect who flourished shortly before Christ, enumerates as Firmitas,
Utilitas, Venustas, which is to say stability, utility and beauty. (7)
So of man. Wisdom, Strength
and Beauty make a perfect man. How often have we said with a sigh "that is a
beautiful woman," or "that man is a beautiful character, but there is neither
wisdom nor strength." This beauty may be so great as to be lovely or be even
admirable but there is not perfection.
On the other hand, how sad,
how inexpressibly sad, when we behold a man with a great mind and a great body
and yet no beauty of character; a soul in which there is selfishness instead
of sympathy, cruelty instead of kindness, hate and bitterness instead of love
and charity. When to beauty of heart and person and character you add wisdom
to plan and strength to execute, weighing down all evil opposition, we have
what may truly be called "the noblest work of God." Nothing can be added to
wisdom, strength and beauty in either a building or in a man, unless it be
more wisdom, more strength and greater beauty.
Wisdom and Beauty early
become subjects of philosophical study and disquisition. Among the Greeks,
"Wisdom" was regarded as the knowledge of the cause and origin of things;
among the Jews, it was regarded as knowing how to live in order to get the
greatest possible good out of this life. Neither Greek nor Hebrew philosophy
seems to have concerned itself greatly about a future life. This subject was
productive among the Jews of the "Book of Wisdom," which has been pronounced
by Dr. Crawford H. Toy, as "the most brilliant production of preChristian
Hebrew philosophical thought." The Greeks boasted a vast body of "Wisdom
literature," as it is called. So, Beauty gave rise to a body of philosophical
thought called Aesthetics. The earliest writers on this subject, as on so many
others, were Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Socrates thought it resolvable
into the useful and as not existing independently of a percipient mind. Plato
took the contrary view on each point. Aristotle made great advance on both and
defined certain essential elements of beauty which have since been generally
accepted. All agree that the purest of our pleasures arise from the
contemplation of the beautiful and that the effect is chastening and
elevating. Freemasonry combines this philosophy with both the Greek and the
Hebrew ideas of Wisdom, as a topic worthy of philosophical study. With us, as
we shall see in the third degree, the conception of Wisdom is extended beyond
what either the Greek or Hebrews understood it and embraces the search for
knowledge of the future.
Strength was greatly prized
by the Jews, as well as the Greeks and Romans, and among them was regarded as
one of the attributes of Deity. Both Samuel and Joel acclaim Jehovah as the
Strength of Israel. Job (xii, 13) declares "With him is wisdom and strength,"
while David (Ps. xcvi, 6) sings "Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary."
But the Preacher (Ec. ix, 16) with a truer appreciation declares that "wisdom
is better than strength." Examples could be multiplied indefinitely from the
old Bible of the high esteem in which the Jews held these three Masonic
THE COVERING OF THE LODGE
The covering of the lodge is
said to be a clouded canopy or starry-decked heaven. The appropriateness of
this symbol is striking when we regard the lodge as emblematic of the world,
for such is literally at all times the covering of the earth. Equally true, in
the literal sense, was this description when lodges were held in the open air,
as we are assured and as seems probable they were. In the earliest temples
erected by man for the worship of God there was no loof, the only covering
being the sky. As to them also this description holds good. This fact may give
additional point and meaning to the statement that our lodges extend from
earth to heaven. Later when temples were covered and our lodges began to be
held in closed rooms it was customary to decorate the ceiling with a blue
canopy spangled with stars. This starry-decked heaven, when now exhibited in
our lodge rooms, either on the ceiling or on our charts, or master's carpets,
is obviously reminiscent of the real canopy of heaven with which anciently our
lodges were in fact covered, and is symbolical of that abode of the blessed
which is universally regarded as located in the sky. (8)
THE ORNAMENTS OF THE LODGE
The ornaments of the lodge
are the Mosaic pavement, the indented tessel and the blazing star; that is to
say its floor, the margin thereof, and the stars with which its ceiling are or
should be decorated. Does this symbolism hold good when applied to the earth?
It does most perfectly. To the beholder the visible part of the earth appears
as surface, horizon and sky. The surface of the earth, if viewed from above
chequered with fields and forests, mountains and plains, hills and valleys,
land and waters, would be found to look very much like a pavement of Mosaic
work. A few miles up it would seem almost as delicate. The horizon, that
mysterious region that separates land and sky, earth and heaven, where the
heavenly bodies appear and disappear, with its inexpressible charms and
numberless beauties, has in all ages been a source of mystery and inspiration
to the poets. It is fitly typified by the splendid borders which surround the
floors of some of our most magnificent buildings and which is fabled to have
surrounded the floor of Solomon's Temple, while the firmament above studded
with stars by night and the blazing sun by day complete the ornamental scheme
of the earth. The surface, the horizon, the firmament embrace all of visible
beauty of Nature there is, and they have never yet been exhausted by poet,
painter or singer.
THE THREE GREAT LIGHTS
If we read discerningly the
explanation given of these in our lectures and ceremonies we must perceive
that they symbolize, respectively: (1) The Bible, the word of God, not merely
that disclosed in his revealed word, but including, also the knowledge which
we acquire from the great book of Nature; (2) the square typifies the rule of
right conduct, and (3) the compasses is an emblem of that self-restraint which
enables us on all occasions to act according to this rule of right. Beyond a
perfect knowledge of God's word and therefore of the rule of right living
nothing is needed to make the perfect man except a perfect self-restraint.
THE THREE LESSER LIGHTS
Equally appropriate is the
symbolism of the Three Lesser Lights. It was literally true to our ancient
operative brethren that from the Sun and Moon they obtained all that natural
light which rendered possible those great architectural creations, some of
which still remain as perpetual sources of wonder and delight. But all this
skill must have quickly perished from the earth had not the Master
communicated to the Apprentice from generation to generation the mental
illumination which kept alive the knowledge of architecture. Thus literally
were the Sun, Moon and Worshipful Master lights to our ancient operative
brethren. But as a knowledge of architecture is less than knowledge of God; as
the correct rule of building is less than the correct rule of living; as the
restraints imposed upon the structure is less important than the restraint
imposed upon one's self, so are the Sun, Moon and Worshipful Master less
important lights than are the Bible, square and compasses, when rightly
To the untutored mind the sun
was the most striking object in nature. His daily march across the heavens
must to those, who did not know that his motion was only apparent, have been
far more impressive than to us. Add to these his enlightening and fructifying
influences, which must have been apparent to man even in his rudest stages of
development, and we are not surprised that the orb of day became in all
countries an object of worship. The point of his daily appearance, the East;
his station at the mid-day hour, the South; the quarter of his disappearance
at night, the West, could not fail to become objects of special significances.
He seemed to shun the North, whence it became in popular opinion a place of
darkness. It is obvious that conceptions like these belong to the past age and
yet they contribute to the completion of that allegory of the world and human
life which we know as Freemasonry.
Of scarcely less interest to
man in all ages have been the Moon and the stars; little less striking and
even more beautiful are they. The glorious orbs of day and night have not yet
lost their power to stir thoughts of divinity in the human mind, as witness
Joseph Addison's beautiful words:
"The spacious firmament on
With all the blue ethereal
And spangled heavens, a
Their Great Original
The unwearied sun from day to
Does his Creator's power
And publishes to every land,
The work of an almighty hand.
Soon as the evening shades
The moon takes up the
And nightly, to the listening
Repeats the story of her
While all the stars that
round her burn
And all the planets in their
Confirm the tidings as they
And spread the truth from
pole to pole.
What though in solemn silence
Move round the dark
terrestrial ball ?
What though no real voice nor
Amid the radiant orbs be
In reason's ear they all
And utter forth a glorious
Forever singing as they
The hand that made us is
There are said to be three
lights in the lodge, one in the South, one in the West, and one in the East.
There is said to be none in the North and that hence it is called a place of
darkness. Applied to our ordinary lodge rooms this is meaningless, but applied
to the world, as the ancients knew it, and of which as we have seen, the lodge
is emblematic, it has a charming symbolism. It alludes to the fact that to
persons living in the northern hemisphere, (where all the civilized people of
antiquity dwelt,) the Sun each day appears in the East, ascends to the zenith
in the South where he seems to become stationary for a short space, and thence
descends and disappears in the West. The East, South and West seem, therefore,
to be his stations; he never attains the North. The ancients supposed the
South to be a region of intense heat and blinding light and the extreme North
to be a region of perpetual darkness. We have in this symbol, therefore, a
reflection of these primeval conceptions of mankind concerning the world.
SITUATION OF THE LODGE
The situation of lodges due
east and west is not at all peculiar to Freemasonry. In ancient times the
custom was well nigh universal to locate sacred edifices east and west. This
is why the Tabernacle and Solomon's Temple were so situated. This old idea of
orientation, as it is called, is practically lost except among Masons. We
preserve it in theory even though necessity often compels us to depart from it
in practice. The parallel between the lodge and the world holds good here as
elsewhere. As the lodge is or should be situated east and west, so in ancient
times was the world. The "oblong square" which made up the ancient world had
its greatest length east and west.
The ladder is, of course, a
familiar implement to the builder. It was in constant use by our ancient
operative brethren. In a system where working tools are made to symbolize
moral properties, it could scarcely happen otherwise than that the ladder
would be made to typify the power or means by which man is lifted or attains
to a higher state of existence. It was employed always with the same meaning
in the Ancient Mysteries and was a familiar symbol of salvation long before
Jacob in his vision saw it extending from earth to heaven. We, as did the
ancients, ascribe to it seven rungs, symbolical with us of the four cardinal
and the three theological virtues by which it was supposed a man was prepared
for and elevated to the higher state.
The cardinal virtues mean
simply the pre-eminent or principal virtues. They were declared by Socrates
and Plato 400 years before Christ, as they are by us today, to be Temperance,
Fortitude, Prudence and Justice. This list has been criticized as being
arbitrary, as not covering the entire field, and as overlapping each other. In
the light of the broadening influence of modern ethical and religious ideas
the justice of these criticisms must be conceded. But reflection will disclose
to us that these four virtues cover a surprisingly large part of the moral
realm of human life.
Temperance means moderation
not only in drink but in diet, not only in diet but in action, not only in
action but in speech, not only in speech but in thought, not only in thought
but in feeling.
Fortitude implies, it is
true, a physical bravery that leads one to resist insult or attack with force,
but more especially that moral courage that enables one at the risk of
incurring the sneers of others, to refrain from a resort to violence except
where the necessity is imperative. When, however, this necessity arises it is
not deterred by pain or circumstance be it ever so appalling or threatening.
Prudence as the critics have
pointed out, enters to some extent into the last named virtue. It signifies
also to meet every situation, however dangerous or difficult, with common
sense and reason. It is a virtue which is lacking in a surprising large
proportion of the human race.
Little need be added to what
is said of the virtue of Justice in our monitors. It is truly the "very cement
and support of civil society." This conception of justice evidences a distinct
advance by mankind. To be able and willing to mete out exact justice to every
one, even one's self, in every relation of life, in thought, word and action,
very nearly sums up the total of all possible human virtue. In a system of
moral philosophy, such as Plato's (as distinguished from a religious
philosophy such as we now have,) justice very nearly covers the whole field.
What a multitude of evils and
mistakes the full possession and practice of these virtues would enable us to
But with the birth and
development of theology the Platonic scheme seemed and doubtless was
incomplete. It took little or no account of those higher speculative virtues
which we class as religious. There was absent from it the conception of that
charity or love which has entered so largely into modern sociological thoughts
and movements. The later philosophical and religious teachers, therefore,
added to the cardinal virtues what they termed the theological virtues,
namely, Faith, Hope and Charity. These three were believed to include anything
omitted from the other four, and together were supposed to cover the entire
field of the moral thought and conduct of man.
CHALK, CHARCOAL, AND CLAY
We are told that Entered
Apprentices should serve their Masters with Freedom, Fervency and Zeal; with
freedom, in that it should be done freely and without constraint as becomes a
free man, not grudgingly and hesitatingly as characterizes the slave; with
fervency and zeal, these terms are synonymous, one is from the Latin ferveo,
to boil, while the other is from the -- Greek zeo, meaning the same. I have
been unable to find that chalk, charcoal or clay, anciently bore any symbolic
significations. It must, however, be admitted that chalk is a fitting symbol
of freedom, charcoal of fervency, and earth of zeal.
NORTH EAST CORNER
From the most ancient times
it has been the custom of builders to lay with ceremonies the corner-stone of
important edifices. As it was a custom of the ancients to orient their
temples, that is to make them face the east, so for some similar reason it was
their custom to lay the corner-stone in the northeast corner. Why this
particular part of the structure was chosen has been the subject of much
speculation. Some have attributed it to the fact that the rising sun sheds its
beams more-directly upon this corner of a building situated due east and west
than upon either of the other corners. But many have supposed (and no doubt
truly) that a symbolical reason existed for this custom. This also has given
rise to further speculation and as a specimen I introduce this interesting
conjecture by General Albert Pike:
"The apprentice represents
the Aryan race in its original home on the highlands of Pamir, in the north of
that Asia termed Orient, at the angle whence, upon two great lines of
emigration south and west, they flowed forth in successive waves to conquer
and colonize the world."
As speculative Masonry
gradually developed from operative Masonry, it preserved this ceremony of
laying the corner-stone, because of the moral and religious symbolism which
seems always to have pertained to it. With the operative it was a serious part
of the actual process of building; with us its chief value lies in its
As placing the newly made
Entered Apprentice in the northeast corner of the lodge marks the completion
of his initiation, so it symbolizes the completion of the preparatory period
of life and his readiness to enter upon its serious labors and business. The
admonition there given him is, that having made proper moral preparation for
life, his future activities should be kept in accord with the teaching and
training he had received in his youth.
This, my brethren, briefly
reviews the symbolical teachings of the ceremonies of initiation. As said at
the outset I have barely touched upon them. Any one of them would be
sufficient of itself to occupy a whole evening. I could easily consume another
hour talking to you about the symbolical teachings of the Entered Apprentice
lesson without exhausting it. Let me illustrate with a single question and
answer and I am done.
"WHENCE CAME YOU ?"
Daily this question is asked
by Masons without the slightest thought as to its real meaning. It is fitting
that the answer we make to it in the lodge is well nigh unintelligible, for it
is about as intelligible as any ever given it or as probably will be given it.
Who can answer the question "Whence came you?" Who has ever answered it? Who
will ever answer it? Equally baffling and profound is that companion question,
familiar in some jurisdictions, "Whither are you bound?" Equally an enigma is
the answer we give it. Simple as these questions appear, they search every
nook and cranny and sound every depth of every philosophy, every mythology,
every theology, and every religion that has ever been propounded anywhere by
anybody at any time to explain human life. They allude to the problems of the
origin and destiny of mankind; they lie at the foundation of all the thinking
and of all the activities of man except such as are concerned with the purely
utilitarian question "What shall we eat and wherewithal shall we be clothed?"
All our better impulses, all our loftier aspirations, all our faiths, all our
longing for and striving after a nobler state of existence, either in this or
a future life, are but attempts to answer these two questions. They are the
supreme questions which men have been asking themselves and each other ever
since men were able to think and to talk, and they are the questions which men
will continue to ask oftenest and most anxiously until the time when we are
promised that we shall know even as we are known. It is thus that study and
reflection bring out the beauty and the profound significance of the simplest
of Masonic formulas.
(1) Univ. Cyc. Rome, vol. X.
(2) New Age, vol. XVII, p.
(3) Enc. Brit., vol. VI, p.
(4) Enc. Brit., vol. XV, p.
(5) Norman Conquest, vol. V,
(6) A.Q.C., vol. III, p. 21-
U. M. L., Part II, p. 66; Orientation Temples, p. 6.
(7) Enc. Brit., vol. II, p.
(8) Morals and Dogma, pp.
235, 365; Mackey's Symbolism, pp. 102, 117; Hamlin's His. of Arch., p. 26;
Steinbrenner, p. 150.
(9) Enc. Brit., vol. V, p.
324; Ibid, vol. 9, p. 813.
Let me do my work from day to
In field or forest, at the
desk or loom,
In roaring market-place or
Let me but find it in my
heart to say,
When vagrant wishes beckon me
"This is my work--my
blessing, not my doom;
"Of all who live, I am the
one by whom
"This work can best be done
in the right way."
Then shall I see it not too
great, nor small,
To suit my spirit and to
prove my powers;
Then shall I cheerful greet
the laboring hours,
And cheerful turn when the
long shadows fall
At eventide, to play and love
Because I know for me my work
--Henry Van Dyke.
Knowledge is proud that he
has learn'd so much;
Wisdom is humble that he
knows no more.
LOUISIANA RELIEF LODGE NO. 1
ITS HISTORY AND PURPOSE
NY BRO. JOHN A. DAVILLA,
GRAND SECRETARY, LOUISIANA
THE Fraternity of Louisiana
pride themselves on the possession not only of the oldest Masonic Relief Board
in the United states, but also on the fact that it is the only Relief Body in
the world operated and known as a lodge.
During the year 1851, in
answer to the call of the Master of one of the lodges of the city of New
Orleans, representatives from six others met and organized a Board of Relief,
the call stating that the purpose was "to do away with the present defective
system" which we presume to mean, the handling of Masonic Relief by the
Masters without consultation with each other, which no doubt was objectionable
as it exposed them to imposition.
The Relief Board operated
until the year 1854, when it applied to the Grand Lodge of Louisiana for a
Charter, which was granted on the first of July of that year.
The general character of the
organization is best shown from the following extracts from Article II,
Chapter III of the General Regulations, together with edicts in explanation:
"The Charter granted to
Louisiana Relief Lodge, and issued on the 1st of July, 1854, is hereby
perpetuated and is to continue so long as two constituent lodges located in
New Orleans shall desire to retain it. The members of said lodge shall consist
of its officers who may be selected from its constituents at large, Past
Masters and the Masters and Wardens in office (or their proxies) of such
lodges as shall hold membership in the same.
"The officers of this lodge
and their duties shall correspond, so far as may be, with the regulations for
the government of the constituent lodges. The lodge may more particularly
prescribe the duties of its officers and members and make such other
regulations as it may deem necessary to better accomplish the ends of its
"It shall remain invested
with all the property, rights, credits, effects and revenues, of whatsoever
nature, which it now possesses, and have the power to receive donations, and
to raise means for its support and maintenance, and to invest or expend the
same in any manner it may deem best and most conducive to the accomplishment
of the ends of its creation, and under such regulations as itself shall
"Said lodge shall have no
right to confer degrees, nor to representatives in the Grand Lodge, nor shall
it be required to pay any dues, fees or charges to this Grand Lodge. It shall
annually make return of its officers and members and the lodges they
represent, and report to the Grand Lodge, at each Annual Grand Communication,
a synopsis of all its transactions during the year, and such other matters as
it shall deem of interest to the Grand Lodge and to Freemasonry generally."
The Louisiana Relief Lodge
No. 1, is to all intents and purposes, a regular lodge; that is, its Master,
when installed, is the legal Master of a legal lodge, and has all the rights
and privileges as such, and all the powers which the warrant of constitution
Resolved, that the W. Master
of Louisiana Relief Lodge No. 1, has, and possesses, all the rights and
privileges of the Master of any regular lodge, except that of voting in the
Grand Lodge, and the restriction expressly stated in the charter of that
lodge, and in Article II, Chapter III of the General Regulations; and he and
the Past Master of that lodge are entitled to all the courtesies of Masters
and Past Masters of other lodges.
Resolved, that the R. W.
Grand Lecturers, in their travels through the state in the discharge of their
duties, are hereby directed to call the attention of the constituent lodges
throughout the state to the grand and good work being done by Louisiana Relief
Lodge No. 1, to the end that voluntary contributions may be made to the said
lodge by the different lodges and brethren so disposed.
Resolved, that the W. M. of
Louisiana Relief Lodge No. 1, be and is hereby authorized to solicit
contributions by circular or otherwise from any and all constituent lodges of
this jurisdiction, and that the charter of said Louisiana Relief Lodge be
perpetuated in any event.
The only natural presumption
for the adoption of lodge formation instead of the Board system is that for
years the south had been subject to annual visitation of Yellow Fever and
Asiatic Cholera and the necessity for centralizing authority in order to
secure action speedily was obligatory in order to secure best results. During
these periods of amiction, vast sums of money in the shape of contributions
came from other cities for the care of epidemic victims and in order to handle
these to better advantage, a Charter for Louisiana Relief Lodge was secured
from the State legislature so that the lodge is not only a creature of the
Grand Lodge of Louisiana but is also a corporate body under the State Laws.
The Masonic brethren of
Louisiana, from their experience, are now wedded to the lodge idea, but not
only for the initial reason that it centralizes responsibility and authority,
but also because the lodge in itself has all the inherent rights of a regular
lodge, except the power to confer degrees and the right to representatives in
the Grand Lodge. The Master of the lodge manages all of its affairs in the
interim between its quarterly meetings and with the assistance of the
Secretary, handles all cases of relief without consultation with anyone. No
restrictions whatever are placed upon his acts, he only making a report to
these meetings held at quarterly intervals. We find that we are in this way
able to accomplish more and in less time than would be possible under Board
In case of the death of a
sojourning Mason we are not placed to the necessity of calling upon one of the
city lodges to perform the ceremony but conduct it ourselves, and it is a
matter of pride for us to say that services of this nature held under our
auspices are as largely attended as those of the regular lodges.
Several years ago we added an
employment bureau to our work. This has since been in successful operation and
has accomplished a great amount of good.
The lodge is supported by
subscriptions from the Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter of Louisiana and from the
individual lodges and other Masonic bodies of the city and state. Its
membership plan being the same as that of the Grand Lodge, we always have a
majority with experience in the work. Our official staff is very seldom
changed, the lodge chosing to rather retain in office those who have shown
proficiency in the handling of its affairs. As we have no Masonic Home in the
state of Louisiana, we are the administrators of the Relief Fund of the Grand
Master. In explanation, we can state that in view of the fact that we have
only about thirty beneficiaries, this Grand Lodge has deemed it the wisest
policy to administer assistance to them at their own homes or those of friends
who might be willing to care for them. Our Relief Lodge acts as the
intermediary for the Grand Master, conducts the investigations when
application is made and sees that the remittance checks are placed promptly
The lodge has for years been
a member of the Masonic Relief Association of the United states and Canada,
surrendering its active participation only when the Grand Lodge assumed its
position in that regard several years ago.
We are glad to place the
above brief historical resume before the members of the National Masonic
Research Society as we are eager that the world should know something about
this peculiar Masonic Institution regarding whose existence and work Louisiana
Masonry feels so justly proud.
BIRTH, MARRIAGE AND DEATH
To the Greeks and to many
primitive peoples the rites of birth, marriage and death were for the most
part family rites needing little or no social emphasis. But the rite which
concerned the whole tribe, the essence of which was entrance into the tribe,
was the rite of initiation at puberty. This all-important fact is oddly and
significantly enshrined in the Greek language. The general Greek word for rite
was telete. It was applied to all mysteries, and sometimes to marriages and
funerals. But it has nothing to do with death. It comes from a root meaning
"to grow up." The word telete means rite of growing up, becoming complete. It
meant at first maturity, then rite of maturity, then by a natural extension
any rite of initiation that was mysterious. The rites of puberty were in their
essence mysterious, because they consisted in initiation into the sanctities
of the tribe, the things 'which society sanctioned and protected, excluding
the uninitiated, whether they were young boys, women, or members of other
tribes. Then, by contagion, the mystery notion spread to other rites. --Jane
Ellen Harlison, in "Ancient Art and Ritual."
The heart is wiser than the
intellect. --J. Holland.
(Suggested by the Sphynx
before the House of the Temple at Washington, D. C.)
BY BRO. H.L. HAYWOOD, IOWA
Thou living shape within the
Thou warden of the eldest
What knowledge hides within
thy level eyes,
What hidden wisdom do thy
What are the ancient Words
that thou hast known?
Afar, afar thy mother Egypt
Yet seems the shadow of her
To fall on thee where thou
dost stand alone.
A woman's face above a lion's
Is this thy answer to our
Is this that Word that we
have lost the while?
Is this the clue whereby our
hearts escape ?
Or is it Nature's snarl to
"I keep a claw beneath my
* * *
There is a claw beneath that
Yet still above the talons
thou dost look,
Gazing, perchance, on ways we
Ere thou didst learn to dream
beside the Nile,
And ere we entered on this
Ah, Keeper of the Lore in
Reveal in Nature what our
For craft of hate. for
cunning craft of guile!
"The old Lost Word is hid
within the stone,
Is written in the midnight's
Is tangled round the roots
within the sod.
I gaze afar into the dim
Gaze thou into thy spirit's
And thou shalt find the Word
that speaks of God!"
When Springtime awakens the
And crowns them with pearls
The loveliest rose in her
Is calling, beloved, for you,
Is calling, -
E'er calling, -
And calling, -
The voices are calling for
When Summer is sweeping the
And bells, at eve, herald the
The harvest moon, beaming in
Is calling for you, in the
Is calling, -
E'er calling, -
And calling, -
The voices are calling for
When Autumn is painting the
And twilight is hovering
The voice of the stream, to
Is calling for you, my dear,
Is calling, -
E'er calling, -
And calling, -
The voices are calling for
When Winter is frosting the
And stars fall, in
A face, in the glow of the
Is calling for you, in its
Is calling, -
E'er calling, -
And calling, -
The voices are calling for
- James T. Duncan.
MASONRY IN PUBLlC BUT NOT ON
I AM writing these words at the very beginning of
the vacation season; they will appear in print about the time when many will
be coming home from their rest period of the summer. During this occasion of
lull the lodges have few if any meetings. Degrees are no longer conferred and
the ceremonial machinery halts. But Masonry moves on.
Everywhere one sees the badge of the Craft.
"Brother" is often on the lip. "Companion," "Sir Knight," "Noble," and the
others,how pleasant they sound to the ear.
What care I if some do hold that "Sir Knight" is
an anachronism or worse. That the two terms are illogical when united, that
either is correct but both when put together are improper - all of which we
may admit is goodly reasoning. But these long-established phrases have the
rich permanence of age, the sage flavor of antiquity, and well you all know,
my brethren, how that does charm a Mason's ear.
Only the other day in fine old Philadelphia a
school girl sat next to me just when I was trying to puzzle out on the
"Subway" just what stop I should choose to connect with Broad Street Station.
On the girl's coat was pinned a "Shrine" button and to the inquiry I made of
her I got the prompt reply: "No, I'm not a member, but Dad belongs to Lu Lu
"Some Temple," said I, and forthwith we were
acquainted I had found a guide. My only regret was that the journey was so
Thus over the land there is the fellowship of
Masonry alive among men. How many a sorrow it sweetens, and shortens the
miles, comforts the weary, sustains the failing, uplifts the fallen. If only
for its introductions what a worthwhile help it has been manyfold. What
precious friendships have been mine by its gentle ministry!
Let me not in the gratitude for intimate
friendships overlook these delightful acquaintances that have now and then
emerged from out the hosts of mankind. There comes easily to mind the
conductor who sat with me late one night when mine eyes were sleep-proof. He
quietly and unobtrusively made up his report beside me. His watch charm
started my conversation and he soon proved to be a competent Craftsman, a Past
Master of his Lodge and a Past High Priest of his Chapter. He long had made a
study of the "Apron" and was strong on its symbolism and was equipped with
more than one lecture. One, in rhyme, particularly touched my fancy. It was
different from any other that ever came my way. Ever since I have regretted
that I did not ask for a copy.
I really think that some of these fugitive efforts
in "Apron Lectures" deserve to be gathered and I hope that a good brother
willing to do this for the general benefit will undertake the task awaiting
A word of warning is not out of place here. Every
person wearing a Masonic emblem is not thereby a Mason nor entitled to
recognition by the fraternity. I am surprised at the readiness to assume and
accept as an unquestioned truth that wearing a badge is conclusive evidence
that the wearer is everything that is superficially indicated by the button,
pin or charm. At best, all that can off-hand be assumed is that such proof(?)
is only presumptive and further inquiry is wise. To make a complete
examination is also out of the question in a public place even if one had the
best of excuses for making it at all. For me there is but one place, the
lodge, and but one authority, the Master, for going into the matter in detail
of examining the right of a person to claim membership. Caution is ever and
always advisable with all strangers, and it is never unwise to be circumspect
even with those accepted as Masons by others whom you know to be in good
You may think this excessively prudent but I have
known cases where men long believed to be Masons have been incapable of
establishing the assertion as a fact.
Neither is every Mason in good standing capable of
proving the truth of another person's claims to bonafide membership. This is
very unfortunate but unquestionable. Maybe the initiation didn't leave a
complete impression for keeps. Maybe the ceremony didn't take the first time
and, like vaccination, a second operation is necessary. Maybe a second
initiation wouldn't do harm to any of us. R. I. Clegg.
THE MORALITY OF THE LOST WORD
With a measure of light and a
measure of shade,
The world of old by the Word
By the shade and light was
the Word conceal'd,
And the Word in flesh to the
Is by outward sense and its
The spirit within is the long
Besought by the world of the
soul in pain
Through a world of words
which are void and vain.
O never while shadow and
light are blended
Shall the world's Word-Quest
or its woe be ended,
And never the world of its
wounds made whole
Till the Word made flesh be
the Word made soul!
- By Bro. Arthur Edward
WHAT YOU LOVE
The things that are natural
are the only things you love,
Just think it over a bit and it will the saying
There is nothing about yourself that is not of
And nature CANNOT LOVE what is not by it, made
- Bro T. R Mitchell Michigan.
EDITED BY BRO. H. L. HAYWOOD
The object of this Department is to acquaint our
readers with time-tried Masonic books not always familiar; with the best
Masonic literature now being published; and with such non-Masonic books as may
especially appeal to Masons. The Library Editor will be very glad to render
any possible assistance to studious individuals or to Study Clubs and Lodges,
either through this Department or by personal correspondence; if you wish to
learn something concerning any book,what is its nature, what is its value, or
how it may be obtained - be free to ask him. If you have read a book which you
think is worth a renew write us about it; if you desire to purchase a book -
any book - we will help you get it, with no charge for the service. Make this
your Department of Literary Consultation.
FREEMASONRY IN "LEAVES OF
THE body of Masonry is
to be found in our visible organization, but the spirit of it is to be found
everywhere. Thousands of poets, prophets, and seers are never so eloquent
or convincing as when they are giving voice to that which is the spirit and
genius of our Fraternity, albeit they may be unaware of the identity of that
which they say. Among the poet-prophets of our land none has proclaimed
brotherhood, democracy and liberty, the ancient Masonic teachings, with more
power than has Walt Whitman; his volume, "The Leaves of Grass," in which his
poetic work is embodied, is a veritable Masonic chant from beginning to end,
and it is surprising that he has not found a place of equal favor with Robert
Burns. The latter was a member of the craft; he was a singer of brief and
simple songs; Whitman was never a member, and his poems are usually long and
somewhat difficult to read; if this be the reason, it is unfortunate that we
have permitted it to cause us to lose sight of the godlike utterances of
brotherhood which are to be found in "Leaves of Grass." That book is badly in
need of a Masonic appraisal and appreciation for it is doubtful if any other
American has ever written a volume which is more alive with Freemasonry.
Whitman was born on Long Island in 1819, ten years
after the birth of Lincoln, with whom he has so much in common. When five
years of age he moved with his family to Brooklyn, then a suburban village,
where the lad attended public school for a time, after which he found a
position in a law office. It was while here that he became initiated into the
world of books. He was a healthy, outdoor boy, much given to long solitary
walks, and characterized by a certain placidity and calmness of spirit which
he had probably inherited from his Dutch and Quaker ancestry. Oftentimes he
would slip away for a day or two to the Long Island beach where he would walk
along the shore reading Homer or Shakespeare aloud to himself, the oceanic
surges keeping time with the chant of the mighty songs. Commonplace in
appearance, and not at all precocious, he was all the while nourishing a youth
After a time he undertook school teaching and then
journalism; the latter occupation took him as far as New Orleans. When he
returned to Brooklyn he assisted his father in building cheap frame dwellings
for laboring men. All this time he was storing up impressions and memories and
quietly growing to the full stature of his mind. Then came that which it is
impossible to describe or explain - his spiritual transformation, his new
birth, his growth into the cosmic consciousness. He himself has described this
in his poem, "The Prayer of Columbus,” a poem that is as great as the
experience of which it tells. From then on Whitman determined that he would
undertake to write a new kind of book, a book in which the average American
like himself could be completely expressed, body as well as mind. "I
undertook," he afterwards wrote, "to articulate and faithfully express in
literary or poetic form and uncompromisingly, my own physical emotion, moral,
intellectual, and esthetical Personality."
The writing of "Leaves of Grass" went on slowly
for Whitman was by nature leisurely and cautious, but it went on steadily
elren while he was engaged with his carpentering work. During those years he
would pause now and then to draw out of his pocket an old envelope or scrap of
paper, and write a few lines; other thoughts would come to him during his
solitary walks, or while riding on an omnibus in New York City, or while
sitting in a crowded theatre. After these writings had accumulated to book
size he set the type with his own hand and thus issued the first edition of
"Leaves of Grass" in a thin, unostentatious volume. It attracted no attention
until Ralph Waldo Emerson chanced upon it and discovered that here was a new
prophet speaking: "Tell our Americans abroad to come home," wrote Emerson in
an enthusiastic letter, "unto us a Man is born."
While writing "Leaves of Grass" Whitman determined
to put his whole self in, body, sex, nature and all; this was such a new thing
in that day that many who read the book which the gentle and puritan Emerson
had so highly praised were terribly scandalized. A storm of criticism broke
over the book which would have absolutely destroyed any volume less filled
with vitality. As for Whitman himself, when the hurricane broke over his head,
he went off quietly for a few days on Petonic Sound, thought it all over from
first to last, and returned more determined than ever to go on with his poetic
But it happened that his enterprise was
interrupted, or at least deflected, by the Civil War. At first he was
undecided what should be his own course with regard to the war but before long
he received word that his brother had been wounded so he set off to take care
of him; in this wise he came to enter into that career of nursing which was so
noble, so Christ-like. He had no official appointment; he drew no salary; but
he spent all his time among the sick and wounded, reading to them, writing
letters for them, taking them little articles of food, or soldier's comforts,
and helping them die. He combined, in a marvelous fashion, all the strength of
a man with the gentleness of a woman. But he himself was not to escape the
ravages of war: he suffered a case of blood infection and of fever which
afterwards paralyzed him and almost made him an invalid for life.
Meanwhile he persevered with his poetical work,
and not many years elapsed before he came to be recognized for his true worth
as a great and original literary genius. Many famous men found him out in the
little house in Camden, New Jersey, where he went to live, and his name was
carried across to Europe, where his book was warmly welcomed by Tennyson,
Swinburne, Dowden, and other literati. He died in Camden in 1892.
But even after he had gone it did not seem that he
was dead; he had so entirely succeeded in putting himself into his book that
he continued to live on. He himself had said of "Leaves of Grass":
"Comerado, this is no book;
Who touches this, touches a
"Leaves of Grass" is somewhat difficult to read at
first, especially to those who have read only the measured and rhymed verse of
such poets as Tennyson and Lowell; almost none of it is in rhyme; neither is
it in measured blank verse; indeed it is difficult, if not impossible, to
describe it at all, so far as its form is concerned. Perhaps one could say
that it is more like the Psalms, in style, than any other familiar writing.
Its sentences ebb and flow like the waves of the sea, they ale irregular,
spontaneous, instinctive, yet underneath them all is a vast rhythm, like that
which one hears when waves break over the shore.
Some readers, especially at first, before they
have discovered the author's purpose, are offended by his apparent egotism; he
starts his longest poem by saying, "I celebrate myself," and he gives it his
own name. But he goes on to say, "What I assume, you shall assume.
"In all people I see myself - none more and not
one a barleycorn less:
And the good or bad I say of myself I say of
It is not of Walt Whitman as a private individual
that he speaks, but Walt Whitman as a representative, average American. In
reading it one should do as he did while taking the obligations; he should put
his own name in the place of the Master's; when so read the apparent egotism
vanishes, and he finds that "Leaves of Grass" is the most democratic book in
The Democracy of it is its heart, and herein lies
its appeal to Masons. Ask yourself if the following is not almost a complete
statement of the aims and ideals of our Fraternity:
"I speak the pass-word
primeval, I give the sign of Democracy:
By God, I will accept nothing which all cannot
have their counterpart of on the same terms."
"I dreamed in a dream I saw a city invincible to
the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth:
"I dreamed that was the new City of Friends;
nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love - it led the rest."
In his great prose work, "Democratic Vistas," he
puts his Gospel into different form:
"This is what you shall do; love the earth and
sun, and animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up
for the stupid and crazy, devote your labor and income to others, hate
tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the
people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number
of men; go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and
mothers of families, read these leaves (his own poems) in the open air, every
season of every year of your life; re-examine all you have been told at school
or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your oven soul."
Whitman appeared at the time when the ache of
modernity was first troubling our souls, when it seemed that the individual
was dwindling and the world was becoming more and more. Industrialism had come
to reduce thousands to the status of a cog in a machine; democracy, with its
leveling tendencies, seemed to make each of us into a mere drop in a
measureless ocean; science, by pushing time back to inconceivable distances,
and by unveiling the awful, the incredible size of creation had shriveled the
individual up to nothingness. In the presence of such a universe we seemed to
become mere infants crying in the night, in the awful cosmic night, with no
language but a cry.
At this juncture Whitman came to us to say, though
not in these precise words: Does the infinitude of the universe crush you?
Learn that your own soul is just as infinite; stand up and confront it, you
are just as eternal as it is. You have a vastness within which balances with
it. Indeed, all of its suns and systems, all of the slow gradual upheavings of
its long geologic ages, all the vast and gradual evolution of its forces, what
has all this been for if not to produce you? You are its child; fear not, you
yourself are a universe. Or, better still, hear him in his own words in that
magnificent psalmodic chant which is one of the greatest utterances in his or
any other book:
"I am an acme of things accomplished, and I am an
encloser of things to be.
My feet strike an apex of the
apices of the stairs;
On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches
between the steps;
All below duly travelled, and still I mount and
Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me;
Afar down I see the first huge Nothing - I know I
was even there;
I waited unseen and always, and slept through the
And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid
Long I was hugged close, long
Intense have been the
preparations for me,
Faithful and friendly the
arms that have helped me.
Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like
For room to me stars kept
aside in their own rings;
They sent influences to look
after what was to hold me.
Before I was born out of my mother, generations
My embryo has never been torpid - nothing could
For it the nebula cohered to
The long slow strata piled to
rest it on,
Vast vegetables gave it
transported it in their mouths, and deposited it with care.
All forces have been steadily
employed to complete and delight me.
Now on this spot I stand with
my robust Soul."
* * *
A MINE OF MASONIC MATERIAL
Freemasonry is perennially fascinating because one
never comes to the end of it; through its history, its ritualism, its
symbolisms, etc., it opens out into one field after another until one is fain
to believe that he who would know all there is to be known about Freemasonry
would have to know all there is to be known about the whole world. But this
which is the fascination of the subject is also the despair of the student; in
the nature of things so vast a subject will not be adequately covered by its
own literature. As many books as there are on Freemasonry they treat but a
small fraction of Masonic themes; for this reason the student is driven to
other departments of literature in order to gather materials that bear upon
the countless aspects of our Fraternity, its history, evolution, and genius.
Of all literature outside specifically Masonic
literature the most valuable, at least to the student, is perhaps to be found
in the various encyclopedias and in such encyclopedic works on folk lore,
ancient customs, old social conditions, and so on, as he will find in the
works of Frazer, Westermarck, Tyler, and Sir John Lubbock, to name but a few.
The Encyclopedia Britannica contains many articles of special interest to
Masons; so also does the Dictionary of Biography.
But among all these reference works it is doubtful
if the Masonic reader will find any that contain so many treatises of worth as
in Hasting's Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. Dr. Hastings is a great
editor and this is his greatest work. It covers all religions, superstitions,
all moral codes and ideas, and nearly everything else that has any
relationship to religion or ethics at all. Thus far only nine volumes have
been completed; when the whole is finished the bulk of the work will be almost
equal to that of the Brittanica.
Most of the articles are signed and everyone of
any importance at all is followed by a bibliography, itself an almost
invaluable feature. Where a subject is large it is divided among several
specialists, thus insuring authoritativeness; and nearly all the articles
stick to facts and leave the reader to fashion his own theories.
The Masonic student will find scores of articles
which throw light on his own subjects; among these, three or four are worthy
of special mention:
The essay on "Circumambulation" is contributed by
our veteran Masonic scholar, Count Goblet D'AIviella: into four columns of
fine print he has crowded about everything that there is to be known on this
subject, so that those who would know whence we have derived our own custom of
circumambulation ("walking around") and what it means, will find all they
desire in ten minute's reading.
The article on "Foundation,” covering more than
six pages and written by Sidney Hartland, contains a wealth of information
concerning old builder's customs: Brother Speth's little book on "Builder's
Rites" does not contain so much information. This study is of special value
because it offers us the clue to the probable origin of the Hiram Abif legend.
The article on "Freemasonry" is by the Masonic
encyclopaedist, E.L. Hawkins; it condenses into three pages the complete story
of our Order. Study Club members, who haven't time for long histories, would
find this a god-send.
The treatise on "Initiation" is a marvel of
completeness; it is divided into eight parts, each of which is contributed by
a specialist in that particular field; Count D'Alviella, again, is one of
these authors.. The sub-heads are as follows: "Introductory and Primitive";
"Buddhist"; "Greek"; "Hindu"; "Jewish"; "Roman"; "Tibetan." A reader's only
regret will be that a section has not been devoted to Egyptian initiation.
Hasting's Encyclopcedia of Religion and Ethics is
published by Scribner's at $7.00 per volume; it may be purchased on the
installment plan at $3.00 per month. Masonic Lodges would find it a valuable
adjunct to their library.
ST. PAUL'S PSALM OF LOVE
(I Cor. XIII)
BY WILLIAM VINCENT BYARS
Had I not love, although my voice bade men and
angels all rejoice, with harmonies of heaven above, it were in vain, alas but
cymbal's sound of tinkling brass, and naught my gain - and naught my gain -
had I not love.
Though I were fain of mysteries and prophecies,
and though I knew all secrecies of earth below and heaven above; and even
although my faith should prove mighty to move yon mountain's mass, it were in
vain, had I not love.
And even although, with glad desire, my goods I
give that starving men may take and live; though at the stake in flame of
fire, I die for the Redeemer's name, and have not love, it were but shame.
He in whose mind the Heavenly Love its home doth
make, will suffer long and still be kind, for Lovers dear sake.
Love vaunteth not, for in its heart no vanity of
pride hath part.
It moveth all to courtesy; it doth not seek its own; it
not angered easily; it loveth not iniquity; it loves the truth alone.
All things it bears; it has all faith; all hopes
it shares, nor doth it fail when railing tongues assail it.
Love does not fail, but prophecies and all the
lore of tongues shall cease; and knowledge, too, shall be no more.
In this brief day, we know in part, but when we
perfect grow in heart, our partial knowledge will not last, but pass away.
In infant's swaddling bands confined, I had the
infant's tongue and mind, but now no more am I beguiled by fancies that could
please the child.
Though still we see all things that pass, darkly
as in a wizard's glass, yet when we gain heaven's perfect grace, we shall see
all things, face to face.
For here below, small is the part I e'er can know
of God's great All; but there on high, before God's throne, there I, - even I
also, - shall know as I am known.
And now remain Faith, Hope and Love, - these
three, the greatest of God's train. And greatest of the three is love.
THE QUESTION BOX
THE BUILDER is an open forum for free and
fraternal discussion. Each of its contributors writes under his own name, and
is responsible for his own opinions. Believing that a unity of spirit is
better than a uniformity of opinion, the Research Society, as such, does not
champion any one school of Masonic thought as over against another; but offers
to all alike a medium for fellowship and instruction, leaving each to stand or
fall by its own merits.
The Question Box and Correspondence Column are
open to all members of the Society at all times. Questions of any nature on
Masonic subjects are earnestly invited from our members, particularly those
connected with Lodges or Study Clubs which are following our "Bulletin Course
of Masonic Study." When requested, questions will be answered promptly by mail
before publication in this department.
THE SAINTS JOHN
I find in Mackey's Encyclopedia under the subject
of "Lodge of St. John," this explanation:
"The Masonic tradition is that the primitive or
mother lodge was held at Jerusalem, and dedicated to St. John - first the
Baptist, then the Evangelist, and finally to both."
I would like to inquire if there is not a little
inconsistency in this statement. If it means the traditional lodge, which King
Solomon installed, then the above assertion would not be true for the building
of the Temple antedated the birth of the Saints by approximately a thousand
years. If it means a lodge formed after the life time of the Saints, it would
be at a period of more than five hundred years after the total destruction of
the Temple, and at a time when a Masonic lodge could not be held at Jerusalem,
whether traditional or actual.
These statements are made with a knowledge that
the wording of Mackey's Encyclopedia does not correspond verbatim with our
ritual. A little enlightenment on this difference would be greatly
appreciated. N.D.Y., New York.
Mackey very frequently calls his account of Lodge
of St. John, "traditional"; in other words, he does not offer it as verified
history but as so much rumor. As you say, the story is most inconsistent and
there is not a Masonic scholar now living who accepts such an account of the
origin of the custom of speaking of our lodges as having been dedicated to St.
John. Where, and when, and by whom that custom came to be nobody knows, albeit
many have put forward guesses. It is a mystery that the early Freemasons did
not dedicate their lodges to St. Thomas who was the patron saint of
architecture. In medieval times it seems that many Freemason lodges were
really dedicated to "The Four Crowned Martyrs," or "Quatuor Coronati," and a
recital of the legend of these four old Masons is given in a few of the Old
Charges. Hughan, than whom there is no better authority in such matters, says
that prior to 1717 there was no connection with the two Saints John; after
that date the Freemasons fell into the habit of holding their Grand Lodge
meetings on either or both of the St. John festivals, John the Baptist on June
24th, John the Evangelist on December 27th, and that it was in this way that
our Fraternity came to be connected with these two names. This, as was said
above, is more or less of a guess and we must live in hope that some future
scholar will turn up a bit of evidence to explain the matter to our
* * *
JEWEL OF THE THIRTY-SECOND
On page 63 of the February issue of THE BUILDER
you describe the jewel of the thirty-second degree as being a Teutonic cross
of gold, with a green wreath encircling the numerals XXXII in gold. To the
term Teutonic I take issue. My contention is that this cross, (as well as all
crosses), is a symbol used in heraldry, and the cross you quote as Teutonic
should be termed "cross potent," as in John Grand, Manual of Heraldry. Am I
correct? G.H.R., Minn.
The jewel of the degree of The Sublime Prince of
the Royal Secret, commonly called the thirty-second degree, is a Teutonic
cross. It is thus described because, from the twelfth century on, it was used
by the secret society known as the Teutonic Order. (On this Order see Ency.
Brit.) "Cross potent" is nothing but an heraldic term to describe any device
in which two crosses intersect each other, and there are a number of crosses
which might be so described. The crux ansata and the swastika, not to mention
the Christian cross, were long in vogue before heraldry was heard of. H.L.H.
* * *
THE TEMPLAR DEGREES AND THE
Will you kindly enlighten us as to the following:
1. Can a Knight Templar become a thirty-third
degree Mason without having taken the preceding degrees of the Scottish Rite?
2. What is the difference between the Templar
degrees and the Scottish Rite?
3. Can a Scottish Rite Mason become a Shriner
without taking the Templar degrees, or vice versa?
1. No. The thirty-third degree is a Scottish Rite
degree and has nothing to do with a Commandery degree of the York Rite.
2. They are entirely different and a full
explanation cannot be given without going into the ritual which, of course,
cannot be done here. We can simply say that they are as different as though
conferred by two different orders and practically they are, except that each
one is a branch of Masonry. The Temple degree is Christian in character and
requires allegiance to the Christian religion, and by many is claimed not to
be a Masonic degree at all. Some claim that none of the Templar degrees are
Masonic and that the organization is one whose applicants, according to its
own regulations, must have received the Royal Arch degree in the York Rite. We
might say that one important difference between the two Rites is that in the
so-called York Rite the three symbolic degrees are supreme and are not subject
to authority of any higher degree, and in fact the various bodies of Symbolic
Masonry, Capitular Masonry, Cryptic Masonry and the Commandery are each
self-governing and entirely independent bodies, although each of the so-called
higher bodies are higher only in the sense that they require their applicants
to belong to one or more of the other bodies.
In Scottish Rite Masonry all the degrees, from the
Entered Apprentice to the thirty-second, inclusive, are governed by the active
members of the thirty-third degree. However, where York Rite Masonry is
established in North America, the Scottish Rite relinquishes any claim to
authority over the first three degrees in favor of the Grand Lodges of the
3. Yes. The Shrine is not a Masonic degree at all,
but according to its laws its members must be either Knights Templar or
thirty-second degree Masons. C.C.H.
THE USE AND ABUSE OF THE
This is a subject that undoubtedly has been
discussed in your valuable paper many times but being one of your recent
subscribers I have seen nothing relative to the question. However it is one
that is of interest to every conscientious Mason, and one that he is
constantly being called upon to consider, and I believe the more light that is
thrown upon it, the more qualified we will all be to deal with it in a just
and intelligent manner.
I dare say that every Mason has had the experience
of going away from a lodge meeting feeling that perhaps an injustice had been
done to some unfortunate petitioner, and then again we have been made to feel
ashamed because of the fact that someone totally unworthy has abused the
confidence we have reposed in him. Either of these conditions is deplorable
and in many cases could be avoided if at the time of balloting, calm, cool and
unbiased judgment had been employed.
Masonry is religious but not a religion, and is
peculiar inasmuch as its followers do not go out into the highways and byways
in search of men, their souls to save.
The material used in the building of King
Solomon's temple was prepared and made ready before it was brought to the
temple, and so it is with our candidates, we receive none knowingly into our
order who are not moral and upright before God and of good reputation before
Therefore it seems to me the point to be
considered when balloting on the name of a petitioner is whether or not the
material presented at our altar for the first time, the rough ashlar, so to
speak, is of such a quality and texture that when the finished product is
passed on to the Chief Architect for final inspection, we shall have something
of which we may justly feel proud; or will our efforts prove in vain and we
find ourselves in possession of a piece of work for which vie will constantly
be making excuses. Perfection on earth has never yet been attained; allowances
must be made and have been made or many of us would not be wearing the
lambskin today; it therefore behooves every Mason in making a decision to
judge with candor, admonish with friendship and reprehend with justice.
A recent case will show how a stone rejected by
the builders can become one of the principal supports. The ballot was found
dark and the sentiment of the lodge was that an injustice had been done. The
matter was taken to the Grand Lodge and permission granted for a new ballot
which was found clear, the brother being now a true, faithful worker.
Another instance where a certain faction ruled and
practically owned a lodge. By careful manipulation this condition was finally
broken up and a new set of officers elected. For one year thereafter that
lodge did not confer a single degree, and it was the boast of some that it
never would. But in due time the narrow-minded either died off or were
convinced of the error of their ways and today the lodge is a flourishing one.
In determining the qualifications of a candidate
no particular set of rules can be adopted, but I believe he should have a
clear conception of the duties he owes to God, his country, his neighbor and
In his duties to God will he measure up to the
ancient usages and customs and landmarks of the craft? In his duties to his
country is he a law abiding citizen, true to the government in which he lives?
In his duties to his neighbor will he live up to the fraternal ties that bind
us together; especially does his past deportment warrant us in believing that
he will obey the 9th tie of the M.M. oath? In his duties to himself, is he
honest with himself, is he moderate in all things; if not he can't be expected
to be with others.
Consideration of these points will eliminate much
poor timber and a great deal of mere drift-wood.
Albert M. Cope, Wisconsin.
* * *
NEW YORK MASONIC PUBLICATIONS WANTED
I am trying to complete for the Library of the
Yonkers Masonic Temple the set of publications relating to Freemasonry in New
York State and would appreciate any assistance you can give me toward
obtaining missing publications. I have obtained quite a number of publications
by purchasing personally from the Library of the Supreme Council of the 33rd
Degree in Washington and a number by donation, as the Yonkers Masonic Temple
unfortunately, has no funds available for this purpose.
We lack the following, which we are very anxious
1. All Proceedings of the Regular Grand Lodge,
from June 5, 1816, to June 24, 1821, and other publications.
2. Proceedings from June, 1824, to June, 1839.
3. Proceedings December 6, 1843, to June 8, 1844.
4. Constitutions, edition of 1837 (83 pp.), St.
John's Grand Lodge of New York.
5. Constitutions, (regular) Grand Lodge of New
York 1845, editions of 1852 and 1854.
6. Constitutions of 1854, edition of 1866.
7. Constitutions of 1873, editions of 1875 and
1877. (The above Constitutions are all 8vo.)
8. Constitutions, (regular) Grand Lodge of New
York 1854, editions of 1860, 1861, 1864, 1867, (12mo.).
9. Constitutions of 1873, editions of 1873, 1877,
10. Constitutions of 1885, 1899, 1907, January,
11. Statement of receipts and expenditures of the
Grand Lodge of New York, 1806 to 1819, (77 pp.).
12. Circular letter Grand Lodge addressed to the
several lodges of New York, 1823, printed by Bellamy, (66 pp.).
13. List of expulsions and suspensions
communicated by foreign Grand Lodges, 1823, printed by Bellamy, (50 pp.).
14. Plan for raising $50,000 for a Freemason's
Hall, 1824, printed by Grattan, (7 pp.).
Any other available New York publications would be
D. D. Berolzheimer, 17
New York, N. Y.
(If any of the members of the Society are in a
position to help Brother Berolzheimer secure any of the above listed
publications they will please communicate direct with him at the address
* * *
PROCEEDINGS OF NORTH CAROLINA WANTED
I am endeavoring to secure as complete a set as
possible of the Proceedings of the Masonic Grand Bodies of North Carolina for
our local Masonic Library and it occurred to me that you might have duplicate
copies of some of the old Proceedings that we might be able to get at a
nominal cost. We can obtain some of them from our Grand Bodies but in many
instances their supply has become exhausted.
Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina
for 1898 and the years prior to 1896.
Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of North Carolina
prior to 1903.
Proceedings of the Grand Council of North Carolina
prior to 1915.
Proceedings of the Grand Commandery of North
Carolina prior to 1906.
Proceedings of the Grand Encampment for 1874.
Early history of North Carolina and Tennessee
R.L. Chandler, Secretary and Recorder,
Southern Pines, N. C.
(If any of our members can be of assistance in
locating any of the above publications for Brother Chandler it is suggested
that they communicate with him direct.)
* * *
Brother Sachse has made a valuable contribution to
the June number of THE BUILDER concerning Lafayette. One might gain the
impression, however, from his article that practically all of Lafayette's
Masonic affiliations were with Pennsylvania. Such, however, is not the case.
Lafayette visited Masonic bodies in many places. A few of them to which I have
been able to make instant reference follow:
On March 16, 1825, he visited South Carolina
Encampment, No. 1, Knights Templar. - V Mackey's History 1374.
On October 30, 1824, he and his son visited
Richmond-Randolph Lodge, No. 19, at Richmond, Virginia. They were elected
Honorary Members and signed the register.
- Callahan's Washington 262.
On October 16, 1824, he received and responded to
an address from the Lodges in Alexandria, Virginia, and on February 21, 1826,
visited them by appointment.
- Callahan's Washington
Alexandria-Washington Lodge possesses a life-size
painting of him in Masonic regalia painted by Hurdle of Alexandria in
- Callahan's Washington 316.
On June 8, 1824, the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire
made Lafayette an Honorary Past Grand Master and made preparations for his
reception. I have not at hand information as to the actual date of the
One of the most magnificent affairs in his honor
during his visit to this country was the Masonic dinner given by the Grand
Lodge of New York at Washington Hall. The full account of this gala event was
reprinted in I Nickerson's N.E. Freemason 476-480, including the addresses and
toasts and General Lafayette's reply.
On December 8, 1824, the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts appointed a committee of seven, five of whom were then past or
future Grand Masters of Massachusetts, "to make arrangements for expression of
gratitude and affection to our III. Bro. Lafayette."
On June 17,1825, the officers of the Grand Lodge
of Massachusetts assembled for the purpose of laying the corner stone of
Bunker Hill Monument, M. W. John Abbott, Grand Master. At 8:15 a.m. the
Committee of the Grand Lodge presented Bro. Lafayette in Grand Lodge, at which
there were present delegations from the Grand Lodges of Connecticut, New
Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Jersey, the Grand Encampment of Rhode
Island and Massachusetts and the Grand Royal Arch Chapters of Massachusetts
and Maine. After addresses and introductions, Bro. Lafayette retired to join
the civil procession.
The events of this day have an interest not only
because of the visit of Bro. Lafayette but because of the magnificent
ceremonies of laying the corner stone of Bunker Hill Monument. The Grand Lodge
record of this event is as follows:
At 9 o'clock the M. W. Grand Master made known the
request of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, that he would lay the Corner
stone of the contemplated Monument in Ancient Masonic form. That in
consequence thereof he had caused the Officers of the Grand Lodge to be called
together, to assist him in performing that duty; and that he had invited the
presiding Officers of the Grand Institutions in New England, to be present
with their Officers. The Grand Master directed the Grand Marshal to form a
procession to repair to the Common, there to join the civil procession, and
proceed to Bunker Hill in Charlestown.
The Master Masons having assembled at Faneuil Hall, the Royal
Arch Masons at Concert Hall, and the Knights Templars at the Armory and
refreshment Hall, the Grand Marshal assisted by R.
Bro. William Ingalls, and Samuel L. Knapp, on horseback with twelve other
Deputy Marshals on foot, formed a grand Masonic procession, in the following
Two Grand Pursuivants
Junior and Senior Wardens
(Past Masters Banner)
Grand Royal Arch Chapters of Maine, Vermont, New
Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island
Grand Encampment of Vermont, Rhode Island &
Massachusetts Presiding Masters
(Presiding Masters Banner)
Revd. Clergy of Fraternity
Grand Lodges of Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, New
Hampshire and Connecticut
Two Grand Stewards with White
Banner of the order of
Architecture/Silver Vessel with Wine/ Globe
Grand Lodge Banner/ Golden
Vessel with Corn/Principal Architect with Square Levil & Plumb
Banner of the Implements of
the Craft/Silver Vessel with Oil/ Globe
Square Levil & Plumb
District Deputy Grand Masters
Grand Rec. Secretary, Grand
Treasurer, Grand Cor. Secretary
Grand Chaplain, Bible, Square and Compasses, Grand
Chaplain Past Grand Wardens
Past Grand Masters
Three Burning Tapers
Sen. G. Warden Deputy G.
Master Jun. G. Warden
Sen. G. Deacon Grand Master
Jun. G. Deacon
Grand Sword Bearer
Two Grand Stewards
A number of Master Mason Lodges having provided
themselves with appropriate banners, the Master Masons were arranged in
Divisions corresponding with the number of banners which were placed in the
intervals. A large proportion of Master Masons were clothed with plain white
aprons, white gloves, and blue sashes.
The Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Maine appeared in
full costume with Elegant banners. The Grand Royal Arch Chapter of
Massachusetts was organized in ample form, and appeared with their elegant
banner and flanking banners. A number of Chapters under the Grand Chapter of
Massachusetts several of which were provided with appropriate banners were
arranged under the Grand Chapter. All of the Royal Arch Masons were arranged
in procession under R. W. Bro. Roulstone their Marshal. The Knights Templars
appeared under the command of R. W. Bro. Henry Fowle, Dep. Grand Master of
Knights Templars. They were in full dress and displayed the banners of Knights
Templars, and Knights of the Red Cross.
Sir Knights with lances preceded being on the
points of their lances white pennants, on which were painted the names of the
six New England States. A front and rear guard, and also guards to the banners
were armed with lances. All the Knights Templars were arranged in procession
under R. W. Bro. William J. Whipple their Marshal. The Masonic procession
being formed in the foregoing order proceded to the Common, where a general
procession was formed as follows:
The Grand Lodge of
Survivors of Bunker Hill
Battle in Open Carriages
The President of Bunker Hill Monument Association
Directors and Officers of the Bunker Hill Monument
The President of the United States in a Carriage
General LaFayette in a
Officers of the Revolutionary
His Excellency the Governor
Lieutenant Governor and
The Hon. the Senate, and the
House of Representatives
Secretary and Treasurer
Governors of Other States in
Heads of Departments of the
Senators and Representatives
of the United States
Judges of Supreme Court of U.
S. and State Courts
Presidents of Colleges and
Officers of U. S. Army
Officers of U. S. Navy
Officers of Militia
Members of the Association
The procession then moved to Charlestown, and
having arrived at the Square, on which it was intended to erect the Monument
the whole was enclosed by the troops. Near the place intended for the Corner
Stone was erected by the Fraternity a lofty triumphal arch on which was
inscribed the following, "The Arts pay homage to Valor." Through this Arch the
whole body of Masons passed and took up a position on the right of the Square,
the Grand Lodge in front. The President of the Bunker Hill Association then
requested the Grand Master to proceed and lay the corner stone. The Grand
Master accompanied by the Deputy Grand Master, Grand Wardens, Grand Treasurer,
and Secretaries, Grand Chaplain, and Past Grand Masters, and attended by the
Grand Marshal, advanced to the place intended where the President of the
Association, and R. W. Bro. LaFayette met them.
The Grand Marshal by direction of the Grand
Master, commanded silence to be observed during the ceremonies. The working
tools were presented to the Grand Master who applied them to the stone, and
passed them to R. W. Bro. LaFayette, and the President of the Association who
severally applied them, and then the Grand Master declared it to be "well
formed true & trusty." The Stone was then raised, and the Grand Chaplain
repeated the following: "May the Grand Architect of the Universe grant a
blessing on this foundation stone which we have laid, and by his providence
enable us to finish this and all our works with skill and success. Glory be to
God in the highest."
(Response by the Brethren.)
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall
The Grand Treasurer then placed under the Stone a
silver plate on which was engraved the name of the Grand Master, the names of
the Officers of the Association, the time and occasion of laying stone, &c.
The three vessels containing Corn, Wine, and Oil, were presented to the Grand
Master who poured their contents in succession on the stone and said "May the
all bounteous Author of nature bless the inhabitants of this place with all
the necessaries, conveniences, and comforts of life, assist in the erection
and completing of this building, protect the workmen against every accident,
and long preserve this structure from decay. And grant to us all in needful
supply the Corn of nourishment, the Wine of refreshment, and the Oil of joy."
He then struck the Stone thrice with his mallet
and the Honors of Masonry were given. The Grand Master delivered the working
tools to Bro. Alexander Parris the Master Workman, instructing him with the
superintendence and direction of the work.
The fraternity then moved to seats prepared on the
North side of the Hill in front of which was erected an Extensive semicircular
building open in front, in the centre of which the Grand Master, the President
of the Association, and its Officers were accommodated. An Oration was
pronounced by the President of the Association. A procession was then formed
which proceeded to an Extensive range of tables, where refreshments were
The Grand Lodge was closed without form.
On June 9, 1875, Bro. Francis C. Whiston of Boston
presented to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts the Masonic Apron worn by Bro.
Lafayette on the above occasion June 17, 1825, accompanied by the autograph
remarks made by Daniel Webster and Lafayette at the banquet which followed
when Bro. Whiston acted as toastmaster.
Bro. Whiston's remarks upon this occasion were as
Most Worshipful Grand
By your kind indulgence I am here to-day to
perform a most grateful duty. Fifty years ago it was my privilege and very
great pleasure to be numbered with that countless throng assembled on Bunker
Hill, to witness the laying of the cornerstone of that noble monument erected
to commemorate the brave deeds of that invincible band of heroes and patriots,
who, upon that very hill fifty years before, made the first formidable armed
resistance to British oppression, and by their valor and indomitable courage
taught an arrogant and insolent foe a lesson more lasting than the granite
column which transmits to posterity the remembrance of a day never to be
forgotten in the history of our beloved country; and always certainly to be
remembered by all good Masons, for there our most worthy Grand Master, the
illustrious statesman patriot, and soldier, Joseph Warren, offered his
precious young fife, a sacrifice upon the altar of his country's liberties.
Assembled there upon that occasion were the surviving heroes of our
Revolution, conspicuous among whom, stood the dignified form of the Marquis de
Lafayette, the early and devoted friend of Washington. At the close of the
ceremony and after the delivery of the magnificent oration by Daniel Webster,
the Masonic portion of the assembly unclothed, preparatory to proceeding to
what was more properly known as Bunker Hill, where a sumptuous dinner was
partaken of by several thousand persons. As my position, as one of the
marshals of the day, gave me the opportunity of being near the person of
General Lafayette, I received from him, in that graceful, bland, and affable
manner so peculiar to himself, the Masonic apron he had worn during the
ceremonies of the day, and which I have faithfully preserved as a valuable
memento of that great man, and the interesting and important event it serves
to call to remembrance. But, as I shall, in all human probability, soon reach
the end of my mortal journey, and be compelled to leave the care of this
precious relic in other hands, it occurred to me that I could find no safer,
or more appropriate place of deposit than the archives of the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts, and will, therefore, Most Worshipful Grand Master, with your
permission, commit it to your custody, that it may be placed with your other
valuable mementos and records. And I have thought it appropriate, and that it
might be acceptable to the Grand Lodge, were I to associate with the apron
worn by Lafayette, and commit to the same sacred depository, the toasts and
the remarks connected therewith, offered at the dinner table, by the President
and orator of the day, Daniel Webster, and by General Lafayette, the most
distinguished guest of the occasion, each in the handwriting of their
respective authors, and which were handed me, as toastmaster, on that
occasion, at the time of their delivery, by these distinguished gentlemen.
The following are copies of the toasts referred to
by Brother Whiston:-
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE
The President said he rose to propose a toast in
behalf of the Directors of the Association. Probably he was already
anticipated in the name which he should mention. It was well known that the
distinguished personage near him, from the time when he first became
acquainted with the object of the Association, had taken much interest in it,
and had expressed an intention to be present at the ceremony of laying the
cornerstone. This purpose he had kindly remembered through the long course of
his visits to the several States. It was not at all necessary to say - indeed
it could not be said - how much his presence had added to the interest and
pleasure of the occasion. He should proceed at once to the grateful duty which
the Directors had enjoined on him, and propose to the company "Health and long
life to General Lafayette."
General Lafayette rose and expressed himself in
the following words:-
Gentlemen: - I will not longer trespass on your
time than to thank you, in the name of my revolutionary companions in arms and
myself, for the testimonies of esteem and affection, I may say, of filial
affection, which have been bestowed upon us on the memorable celebration of
this anniversary day; and to offer our fervent prayers for the preservation of
that republican freedom equality, and self-government, that blessed union
between the States of the Confederacy for which we have fought and bled and on
which rest the hopes of mankind. Permit me to propose the following
"Bunker Hill, and the holy resistance to
oppression which has already enfranchised the American hemisphere, the next
half century jubilee's toast shall be: to enfranchised Europe."
R.W. Past Grand Master, John T. Heard, moved the acceptance
of the apron and papers, with the thanks of the Grand Lodge to Brother Whiston,
in the words following:,
REMARKS OF R. W. JOHN T.
HEARD, ON THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE LAFAYETTE APRON
I claim the pleasure of moving that this priceless
gift be heartily received by us, and our warmest thanks be presented to the
donor of it.
Though a school-boy, I remember vividly the two
visits of Lafayette to Boston, one in 1824, the other in 1825. The first
occurred on a beautiful morning in August. The enthusiasm of the people on his
reception on Boston Neck knew no bounds. The entire avenue from Boston to
Roxbury was lined with an excited multitude. The roar of cannon from Boston
Common from "Dorchester Heights" and from other points, added to the
excitement of the occasion. His person, as I recollect it, is faithfully
represented by the portrait in the south-west corner of this hall. On the line
of procession from Roxbury to the State House in Boston were displayed, as
decorations, flags of every country, and triumphal arches were erected from
point to point bearing appropriate mottoes. One of them I remember well; it
"We bow not the neck, we bend
not the knee
But our hearts, Lafayette, we
surrender to thee."
During the succeeding ten months, the "Nation's
Guest ' as Lafayette was warmly characterized, visited nearly every important
city in what was then the United States. His reception everywhere was a
spontaneous outbreak of gratitude for one who had been a nation's helper in
the time of a nation's need. It must be remembered that in those days the
facilities we enjoy of traveling by railroad did not exist; hence it will
appear that his extended journey required much time, and must have been
toilsome, to one of his age, in no small degree.
In June, 1825, he returned to Boston for the
purpose of assisting at the laying of the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill
Monument. On the morning of the 17th June he visited the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts, and was received by that Body in a manner becoming his
distinguished character as a Mason and public man.
Of course, I shall never forget the occasion of
laying the cornerstone of that memorial. The day was warm and pleasant
enabling thousands upon thousands to witness the ceremonies. To me, the
Masonic portion of the pageant won my admiration though, perhaps, I felt a
little of awe as I beheld it.
The toast of Lafayette, which has been read, I
remember distinctly. It made at the time an impression upon my mind which has
never been effaced. At one time, in 1848, I thought that the prediction in it
was to be fully realized. Politics in Europe then seemed to point to
"enfranchised Europe"; but the half century has passed without its
realization. Doubtless there has been a preparation within the last fifty
years among the masses for republican forms of government, but the form is,
with one exception, still wanting.
Again, Most Worshipful, I move the thanks of this
Grand Lodge, as I have proposed.
The motion was seconded by R.W. William S.
Gardner, and passed by unanimous vote.
At the same meeting there was presented the Apron of
our Ill. Past
Grand Master, Major General Joseph Warren, which was worn by our late Bro.
Captain Josiah Sturgis at the laying of the cornerstone of the Washington
Monument at the National Capital. This is another story, but both Aprons may
be seen by any Brother who desires, on exhibition in the Library of the Grand
Lodge of Massachusetts in Boston.
On October 9, 1834, the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts paid elaborate funeral honors to the memory of Bro. Lafayette.
Melvin M. Johnson, P.G.M.,