The Builder Magazine
October 1923 - Volume IX - Number
TABLE OF CONTENTS
FRONTISPIECE - EDMUND BURKE
MASONIC RITUAL IN THE UNITED STATES - By Bro. A. L. Kress, Pennsylvania
ABIF, THE MAN - By Bro. David E. Wr. Williamson, Nevada
PILLARS OF BRASS - By Bro. Jerome B. Frisbee, California
FREEMASONRY IN PANAMA By Bros. Oller, Melhado and Jesurun, Panama
MEN WHO WERE MASONS - EDMUND BURKE - By Bro. Geo. W. Baird, P. G. M., District
STUDY CLUB - Chapters of Masonic History - Part VI, Freemasonry and the
Comacine Masters - By Bro. H. L. Haywood
Craft and Its Auxiliaries
Study in Clandestine Masonry
Havelock Ellis' Philosophy of Life
TRAGIC END OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR - By Charlotte M. Yonge
Ritual of a Political Party
Masonry Found Public School System?
Mother Supreme Council Was Organized
the Making of Speeches in Lodge
the Grotto Was Launched
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Corrections Concerning Texas Items
Pa Joined the Lodge"
BUILDER – OCT 1923
Masonic Ritual in the United States:
History vs. Tradition
Bro. A.L. KRESS, Pennsylvania
long time now Bro. Kress has been collecting data concerning the history of
our ritual, especially as it has been used in America. It is pioneer work,
and very difficult, especially because of the lack of dependable printed
writings, so many of which have been published by uninformed authors
altogether too credulous of hearsay and tradition. The present challenging
paper is but the first of several that Bro. Kress will write with a view to
the ultimate publication of a History of the Ritual, based on known facts and
scientific methods. Every reader who may be able to contribute facts,
suggestions or criticisms is urged to communicate with THE BUILDER, or with
Bro. Kress himself, 330 Center street, Williamspert, Pa.
history of Freemasonry has been effectually removed from the realm of
tradition and imagination, due to the noteworthy labours of Gould, Hughan,
Woodford, Lyon and their coworkers. But the development of the Masonic ritual
has never been historically treated. Such articles as have appeared in the
past in our journals can, at best, be characterized as psuedo-history only.
An excellent example of these uncritical accounts, heretofore accepted as
fact, may be found in THE BUILDER, Vol. I, page 291. There are, of course,
difficulties in dealing freely and openly with such an important topic as
would be possible when writing of Jurisprudence, Symbolism or the History of
the Order; but they are not insurmountable. It may even be supposed by
"mouth-to-ear" extremists that the history of the ritual can never be written
because documentary evidence is lacking. But there is an ample supply of
such. In fact, much as we cherish the tradition of a ritual transmitted by the
instructive tongue to the attentive ear, as we review the past some doubt will
arise as to whether it could ever have been maintained for two hundred years
unless some records were kept.
TRADITION OF THE WEBB-PRESTON LECTURES
Perhaps I should give this paper a sub-title, "The So-Called Webb-Preston
Lectures," for it is this specific phase of the ritual I shall discuss. There
is a persistent and generally accepted tradition throughout the United States
that Thomas Smith Webb somehow or other modified, abridged, altered, or
rearranged the Preston Lectures, and that this was the genesis of our present
ritual. I accepted the story myself at first, but it did not require much
research to convince me that somewhere along the line tradition and fact
controvert each other.
shall first of all examine the origin of the tradition itself. It was not
until about 1860 that our Grand Lodges evinced any great interest in the
ritual and its genesis, which interest was largely stimulated by Rob Morris.
As I have pointed out before, the ritual was in a somewhat chaotic condition
from 1840 to 1860. Intelligent Masons everywhere were seeking for "the old
ritual." Rob Morris was the leader in this search. In the course of his
travels in 1857 he visited Philip C. Tucker, of Vergennes, Vermont, who had
been made a Mason about 1824. Morris had made a practice of conferring with
the older Masons - those made prior to 1830 - checking and comparing their
versions in an effort to piece out "the old ritual." Tucker informed him that
Samuel Willson, also of Vergennes, had in his possession an old manuscript
cipher, which Willson had made in November, 1817, of the Webb Lectures as he
had received them from John Barney at that time. Barney in turn had received
them from one of Webb's "direct disciples" in Boston, and claimed to have
rehearsed them before Webb himself. Morris was elated over this good fortune,
examined the cipher and accepted the Barney-Willson Notes - now in the
possession of the Grand Lodge of Vermont - as embodying the most authentic
version of the old ritual then in existence.
result of Tucker's association with Morris and Morris' insistent effort to
revive the old Webb Lectures, Tucker made three addresses before the Grand
Lodge of Vermont in 1859, 1860 and 1861 respectively, which were extensively
quoted by other writers. In his address in 1859 Tucker sought to present a
complete narration of the history of the ritual. He said, in part:
"About the year 1800 - twelve years after the publication of Preston's
Illustrations - an English brother whose name I have been unable to obtain
came to Boston, and taught the English lectures as they had been arranged by
Preston. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts approved them, and they were taught
to Thos. S. Webb, and Henry Fowle, of Boston, and Brother Snow, of Rhode
Island, about the year 1801..... I think, upon these facts, I am justified in
saying, that the lectures we use are the true lectures of Preston. Webb
changed the arrangement of the sections, as fixed by Preston, for one which he
thought more simple and convenient, but as I understand, left the body of the
lectures themselves as Preston had established them." (1)
portions of his address were evidently challenged by a member of the Craft -
whom I believe to have been Mackey, though I have not yet located his article
- which prompted Tucker to again discuss the matter in his address of 1860.
He qualified his previous statements somewhat. I quote this address at
my address of last year I endeavored to condense what little information I had
about the Masonic lectures, and that attempt has been, in general, quite
favorably noticed by the Craft. In one distinguished Masonic quarter,
however, some parts of my address on this subject seem to have met with
disfavor. One particular thing found fault with is, that I thought myself
justified in saying that the lectures in use, recovered through Webb and
Gleason, were the true lectures of Preston. I certainly did not mean to say
that they were identical in length with those of Preston. I had already said
that Webb changed the arrangement of Preston's sections, but that he had left
the body of the lectures as Preston had established them. Perhaps I should
have said the substance instead of the 'body' of those lectures. I now state,
what I supposed was well understood before by every tolerably well-informed
Mason in the United States, that Webb abridged as well as changed the
arrangement of the lectures of Preston. I believed that I knew then, and I
believe I know now that Webb learned and taught the Preston lectures in full
as well as that he prepared and taught his own abridgement of them. I have a
copy in key, both of Webb's abridgement and of Preston in full, which I have
reasons wholly satisfactory to myself for believing are true transcripts of
both those sets of lectures as Gleason taught them........ Again I am
criticized for saying that Gleason visited England and exemplified the Preston
lectures, as he had received them from Webb, before the Grand Lodge of
England, whose authorities pronounced them correct, and I am charged with
taking this from 'hearsay', and my critic places no 'faith in it.' I received
that statement from the highest authority - from one who knew - and I wrote it
down at the time. There are existing reasons why I do not choose to gratify
my critic by naming that authority at this time, and I leave the Craft to
judge whether my statement of the fact upon undoubted authority is not worthy
of as much credit as any Reviewer's doubt about it. I do not possess anything
in writing or published of Gleason's, as to his lecturing before the Grand
Lodge of England, but that Masonry abroad did not ignore the lectures, as
Gleason taught them, we have his own published letter to prove." (2)
Tucker then reproduces a letter from Gleason to C.W. Moore which was published
in the second edition of Moore's Masonic Trestleboard, which as evidence is of
Morris, likewise, was diffusing a similar legend in his writing and
addresses. In October, 1858, at Louisville, Ky., for example, he said: "The
lectures I shall teach you are those which Thomas Smith Webb prepared some
sixty years ago, from the Ritual of William Preston. There are no others in
the United States that have any claim to your respect." (3)
Moore, of Boston, was another to pass along the tradition. In December 1858,
in an address at Boston, he remarked in part as follows:
"Among the Past Masters of this lodge we notice the name of the late Benjamin
Gleason, Esq., who was the associate and co-laborer of the late Thomas Smith
Webb, in introducing into the lodges of New England, and subsequently into
other sections of the country, what is known as the Prestonian system of work
and lectures....... It was the 'work' of Masonry as revised by Preston, and
approved and sanctioned by the Grand Lodge of England, near the close of the
last century......... The verbal ritual as revised by Preston, was brought to
this country about the year 1803 - not by Webb, as we have recently seen it
stated, never went abroad - but by two English brethren, one of we think, had
been a pupil of Preston, and both of whom had been members of one of the
principal Lodges of Instruction in London. It was first communicated to Webb,
and by him parted to Gleason....... The system underwent some modifications
(which were doubtless improvements) in its general arrangement and adaptations
- its mechanism - soon at its introduction into this country; but in all other
respects was received, and has been preserved, especially in the lodge of
older jurisdictions, essentially, as it came from the original source of our
Craft Masonry." (4)
far as I have been able to discover, these earliest narrations we have of this
tradition. If any brother knows of an earlier reference or can point to the
use of the term "Webb-Preston Lectures" anywhere prior to 1858, I hope he will
call it to my attention. The tradition rests upon the unsupported assertions
of Tucker, Morris and Moore. None of them possessed any first hand
information, nor produced any facts to confirm their assertions. Tucker
attempted to, but his proofs are based only on inference. It hardly seems
worth my while to refute any portion of their statements, as I shall show
later on that the Webb Lecture could not possibly be an adaptation of the
AND THE "MODERNS" ARE CONTRASTED
intelligent discussion of the ritual can be without reference to the rival
Grand Lodges named above, which existed in England from 1752 to 1813. While
the researches of Sadler have given us a better idea of the causes which led
to the formation of the Grand Lodge of "Antients", it would seem that, a
comparative study of the rituals of the two bodies would afford still further
light on this little understood episode.
early as 1760 we find the ritual of the "Antients" had assumed the exact form
and arrangement preserved in the United States today. Under this type the
ritual was divided into three degrees and each degree into sections. For
example, there were three sections in the First Degree. The first section, of
about sixty questions and answers, comprised the "Entered Apprentice's
Lecture"; the second, of about fifteen questions and answers, the "Entered
Apprentice's Reasons"; and the third, of some forty questions and answers,
recited certain explanatory matter, some of which is now found in the second
section of the Fellow craft's Lecture. This arrangement was most logical. The
first section rehearsed the ceremony of initiation, the second, the reasons
for the various acts; and the third elaborated on them. Every brother in this
country, except our Pennsylvania brethren, will at once recognize this
the other hand, the ritual of the "Moderns the latter half of the 18th
century, exhibits an entirely different form and arrangement, which in turn
has been preserved in England. Under this type the ritual was divided into
three lectures and these lectures arbitrary sections. The division of their
lectures into sections, as I shall explain more fully in discussing the
Preston Lectures, was for no reason save that of facilitating memorization and
had not the slightest relation the sections of the "Antients."
referring to the ritual of the "Moderns", I intentionally said it was divided
into three lectures, for it was distinctly true of the "Moderns" that the real
"work" of their lodges consisted not in making of Masons, but in the rehearsal
of these lectures to the accompaniment of eating and drinking. It seems that
the initaton of candidates was often something of an intrusion and was at
times entrusted to a few brothers, who took the candidate into an adjoining
room that the real "work" of the lodge might not be interrupted. The French
term "Table Lodges" would fitly describe them. To conform to this practice in
the "Moderns'" ritual, the ceremony of initiation, the reasons and the
explanatory matter were all merged into one lecture, each section (as we know
the term) losing its identity. The whole lecture was then interspersed with
very frequent "Charges" or toasts. In the First Degree, in one "Modern"
version, there are 219 questions and answers, whereas in the "Antients" we
find but about 120. As interesting as this is, I can develop this comparison
no further with the space at my disposal. Let us keep in mind, then, that in
the United States we have preserved essentially the ritual of the "Antients",
while in England the ritual is essentially that of the "Moderns".
PRESTON LECTURES ARE EXAMINED
Preston Lectures have been widely written of, highly praised, and withal never
understood in this country. I am not now prepared to say how much originality
and invention, if any, Preston displayed. Unless it should be eventually
found that he himself was responsible for the arrangement of the ritual of the
"Moderns", we may question if his influence on the ritual has not been
over-exaggerated. Our English brethren maintain a studied indifference to any
attempt to "exhume" the Preston Lectures. I believe the last time a Preston
Lecture was delivered in accordance with the bequest in his will was in 1857.
However, the fund of 300 pounds, bequeathed by Preston for this purpose, is
presumed to have mysteriously "disappeared". Certainly all this is quite
strange if he were, in the words of Mackey, "the founder of a system of
lectures which still retain their influence." No one, in recent times, seems
to know just what the Preston Lectures actually were.
Preston is said to have been made a Mason in 1762 in a Lodge of "Antients",
which later went over to the "Moderns". He seems to have early interested
himself in the ritual and by 1774 had so far perfected his lectures that he
held an institute for their general dissemination in London. In 1772 he
published the first edition of his Illustrations, which went through many
editions. In this work he outlined briefly his system of lectures and
described his division of them into sections. In 1787 he organized the "Grand
Chapter of Harodim", which met "at Freemasons' tavern on the third Monday of
January, February, March, April, October, November and December." This was the
mechanism through which he disseminated his lectures. It is best described in
his own words:
"Different classes are established, and particular lectures restricted to each
class. The lectures are divided into sections, and the sections into
clauses. The sections are annually assigned by the Chief Harod, to a certain
number of skilful companions in each class, who are denominated SECTIONISTS:
and they are empowered to distribute the clauses of their respestive sections,
with the approbation of the Chief Harod, and General Director, among certain
private companions of the chapter, who are denominated CLAUSEHOLDERS. Such
companions as by assiduity become possessed of all sections in the lecture are
called LECTURERS: and out of these the General Director is chosen." (5)
this explanation, Preston's purpose in dividing the lectures into sections and
clauses is at once self-evident. As I said above, it was to facilitate
memorization and these divisions are wholly arbitrary.
Preston Lectures, we must remember, are a version of the "Moderns'" Ritual.
He divided the first lecture into six sections, the second into four, and
third into twelve. Taking the first lecture for comparison (as I have done
throughout) there were:
clauses in the first section.
clauses in the second section.
clauses in the third section.
clauses in the fourth section.
clauses in the fifth section.
clauses in the sixth section.
typical example of a clause, I reproduce here the questions in the fourth
clause of the first section of the first lecture, as nearly as I can
Whence came you principally?
What recommendation do you bring?
What other recommendation?
What is the purpose of your visit?
How do you hope to accomplish that?
What was the first grand natural object you viewed?
Through what medium?
What was the second grand natural object you viewed?
Through what medium?
What was the third grand natural object you viewed?
Through what medium?
hardly necessary for me to say that there is nothing in the Webb Lectures even
remotely resembling this.
1797 Webb published the first edition of his Freemason's Monitor, while he was
at Albany, In his Foreword, he said:
observations upon the first three degrees, are principally taken from
Preston's Illustrations of Masonry, with some necessary alterations, Mr.
Preston's distribution of the first lecture into six, the second into four,
and the third into twelve sections, not being agreeable to the present mode of
working, they are arranged in this work according to general practice."
the 1802 edition he changed the words "present mode of working" to "mode of
working in America."
Webb meant just what he said there. Preston's arrangement by sections was not
"agreeable to the mode of working in America," because Webb referred to the
ritual of the "Antients" while Preston referred to the ritual of the
"Moderns". Webb found three clear-cut logical sections in the First Degree,
for example, so why try to make six out of them? Here lies the difficulty.
Webb copied most of his matter in the three degrees from Preston, but they
each were referring to something entirely different. This even led to
criticism, sixty years ago, that the Webb Monitor did not fit the Webb
Lectures. Personally, I doubt that Webb ever even knew the Preston Lectures.
have sought to establish that:
The Webb Lectures have their exact counterpart in the ritual of the Antients,
evidence of which exists as early as 1760, or before Preston was even made a
Webb never rearranged the Preston Lectures.
The Webb Lectures do not even remotely resemble the Preston Lectures.
The tradition arose about 1858, and has no basis of fact.
The term "Webb-Preston Lectures" is erroneous, misleading, and should be
what Webb's contributions were, together with a citation of all the
documentary evidence, is a subject, which it may be my pleasure to discuss at
some later date.
Proceedings Grand Lodge Vermont - 1859 pp. 35-42.
Proceedings Grand Lodge Vermont - 1860 pp. 23-32.
Proceedings Grand Lodge Vermont - 1859 p. 42.
Proceedings Grand Lodge Vermont - 1860 pp. 23-32.
Preston - Illustrations of Masonry - 1804, American Portsmouth ed., pp.
Abif, The Man
Bro. DAVID E.W. WILLIAMSON, Nevada
is an attempt to write history that is merely a rearrangement of documents,
dry or dead, and there is an attempt, born of fancy, which sails off into the
air in child-like indifference to facts. Most essays on Hiram Abif have
fallen between these two stools but that cannot be said of this beautiful
study, which is an imaginative reconstruction based on the most careful
studies of history. It is a pleasure to publish here this contribution from a
friend and brother who for long has been so loyal a worker in this Society,
and who, so Ye Editor is happy to report, has been a personal inspiration to
those who work at headquarters. If this essay proves to be the first chapter
of a book, as Bro. Williamson plans it to be, we shall be safe in predicting
for it a wide reading.
King Solomon stepped over from his palace every day to watch the building of
the great Temple in Jerusalem, he was met by a broad-shouldered, swarthy man,
standing about five feet six inches in height, wearing his black hair in curls
to his shoulders and bearing himself with the dignity that was natural in a
man who, while still young, had won such fame as to be called to undertake the
greatest work of construction that the Israelites had ever attempted.
man was Hiram, called Abif. Biblical history says little about him and
profane history nothing, but amid the crowd of courtiers and figures in Israel
that are mentioned in the biblical descriptions of Solomon's reign, where the
king, himself, his chief queen, the daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt, the
Queen of Sheba, King Hiram of Tyre, Adoniram the tax collector and the
officers he placed over the various districts, including his son-in-law
Ahimaaz, fill so large a place in the public eye, this Hiram Abif stands out
as a personage. In the feasts and entertainments with which Solomon must have
made his people merry in the same way as his neighbouring princes made theirs,
Hiram Abif was undoubtedly a prominent guest, for in Egypt men who built and
decorated temples were honoured and, in a city where a princess of Egypt was
queen, accustomed from her earliest days to rule, she would quite naturally
set the fashion. Hiram, too, accustomed to the atmosphere of courts, for he
the friend of King Hiram of Tyre, and as an artist designer was a man of rank
and standing in Phoenician cities, as judging from the remains visible of the
architecture of those regions, an architect was also an artist in all the
cities around the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. In short, Hiram must have
appeared to the people to be a prince. In addressing him they would call him
"lord" and regard him as of only a little lower rank than the sovereign.
raised him even higher in the eyes of the Hebrews of Jerusalem was the fact
that he was an artist. In a Temple to the great Jehovah there could be no
figure of man or of beast, such as was common in Phoenicia at both Tyre and
Sidon, and such as the Egyptian princess knew in the land of her birth. There
could, however, be images of beautiful flowers, of lilies and of palm leaves,
of strange creatures with faces of men, wings of birds and feet of animals,
and there could be intricate and graceful arabesques and geometrical designs.
Hiram Abif's was the ability that could produce such works and a people who
but a few generations previously had lived in tents must have looked at him
with awe. In Phoenicia he had probably had many men working under him to whom
he was absolute master, and this while he was what today would be described as
scarcely more than a youth. He was the son, too, of a man evidently famous in
understand what position he held at the court of his master, Hiram, and that
of King Solomon as well, it must be realized that Hiram Abif was not a
brass-worker in the same sense that the word is used now, but was a master
artist in the working of metals; a man who, thanks to the gifts of his royal
sovereign, was among the wealthy subjects of the Tyrian monarch. Nor would he
be regarded as altogether a foreigner in Jerusalem, for it was undoubtedly
known to everyone at Solomon's capital that this master craftsman, this artist
lord and prince, was the son of a Jewish mother. His language was the same as
that of the Jewish people, except perhaps for a different sound to this or
that letter, and it is even possible, owing to the fact that his mother was a
Jewess, that he spoke pure Jewish without a trace of accent. To the poor of
the nation and to the lower ranks he would seem to be an Israelite as much as
themselves, and it may be that, by contrast with Adoniram, who, as collector
of the tribute, would be hated, he was actually popular, although the people
were groaning beneath the taxes and forced labour drawn from them to erect the
very building of which he was the constructor.
Prince though he was and rich lord in the eyes of the people, when he was
called before Solomon he fell upon his face before the great king and so
remained. That was the universal custom in the courts of despotic Eastern
rulers and Solomon was not different, as the biblical descriptions reveal,
from other monarchs of the time. The King of Israel possessed absolute
authority and was accountable to no human power. Nor did Hiram rise until he
was ordered to do so. So it was with the highest subjects in Egypt and in
Chaldea before their royal masters and so it was at the court of King
Solomon. But there must have existed a kind of intimacy between the king and
his chief artist, and it is likely that in the social life of the court Hiram
Abif was one of the circle of friends with whom Solomon surrounded himself.
Hence the abject signs of obedience demanded of a subject in all Oriental
courts would only be required of the half-Tyrian in public, while in private
he would be admitted to the close confidence of the great king. No such a
principle as democracy was ever known in an Oriental country and all honours
and advancement could come from but one source, the throne. It is easy to
understand, therefore, that every person around Solomon must have won his
employment by a certain subserviency to the master's will. However free and
upstanding he might be in the building of the Temple, Hiram was a courtier
when in the presence of the Israelite monarch and behaved as all the other
courtiers conducted themselves. It was the manner of the times and he could
never have won his way to eminence by any other course. And Solomon was no
easy ruler to deal with, for he was subject to the whims of the women in his
palace and the whip, judging from the comment of his son, Rehoboam, was freely
used upon his people.
the sun went down Hiram Abif would be found at his own home in the midst of
the women of his household, as it is not probable that a young Tyrian lord,
brought up in strict accordance with the customs of the Phoenicians and their
neighbours, would remain unmarried long after reaching the age of sixteen, for
child marriages were the rule in the ancient Orient from the earliest times of
which there is anything known, just as they are today. The men employed upon
the Temple, both those from abroad and the subjects of Solomon, were housed in
a temporary village built especially for them, because there would be no,
place in the city of Jerusalem. Their quarters would certainly be far from
luxurious, but they were probably kept clean and the wives of the workers,
who, of course, accompanied them in compliance with the customs of all Eastern
peoples, lived there, too, preparing the meals, looking after small wants and
raising their families. But Hiram Abif was not one of these people. Either
through his father's efforts and talents, or because of his own early genius,
he would long since have been placed in a higher class and these people would
regard themselves as his servants. They recognized that they were apart from
him. In dress, bearing and in all his surroundings he was very different from
them in every respect.
almost possible to reconstruct the daily life of Hiram the artificer by taking
what is known of the, history of Phoenicia, its people and its industries,;
utilizing what modern learning has revealed to us about the Israelite monarchy
and its place among the states of the times, and judging from the available
facts just what position he would have held in an Eastern despotism if he were
alive today. Yet the actual references to him in all ancient literature are
few - six in the Bible, two or three in Menander and Dius, as quoted by
Josephus, and two or three more independent references by Josephus, himself.
His fame; the greatness of which in his day must have been such that his
connection with the Temple at Jerusalem was deemed a notable event, was almost
completely over shadowed in the course of a few centuries by the development
of the legend of King Solomon's greatness. Stories formerly attributed to
tribal heroes of the whole Semitic race gradually clustered around Solomon,
until the king of the Bible narrative had become a superhuman being, a demigod
like the Hercules of the Greeks, and the important parts played by those
associated with him in the building of the Temple had been forgotten or
belittled. Hiram Abif was not alone in thus losing what may be termed the
center of the stage. Adoniram, the master of the tribute, under whose
direction the always mutinous and turbulent Israelites were compelled to
perform the, to them, new labour of cutting trees in the forests of Lebanon
and hauling the logs down to the sea, deserves a greater place in the history
of the work than has been given him, and it was he, too, who had to devise the
means of collecting what must have been huge taxes from a people that prior to
the previous reign had probably been called on to contribute little toward the
support of the king. The rulers in the different districts, enumerated in the
account in Kings, all had their share in the work and all had their troubles
as time passed, Solomon became more and more the hero of the story and the
others dropped out of it or into subordinate positions. Thus Hiram, a leader
among the artists in metal work of Phoenicia, the industry for which that
country had been famous for centuries in all the lands around the
Mediterranean Sea and even as far as Assyria toward the east, occupies in the
story as it has come down to us a position much lower than that which he
actually held, as shown by the accounts preserved of the building of Egyptian
temples and the rank of the men who held similar positions there to that of
oldest notice of Hiram Abif is in First Kings, VII:13, 14: "And King Solomon
sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was a widow's son of the tribe of
Naphtali and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass; and he was
filled with wisdom and understanding and cunning to work all kinds of brass.
And he came to King Solomon and wrought all his work." The account in
Chronicles is in the Second Book, II:13, 14, where King Hiram of Tyre is
represented as saying: "And now I have sent a cunning man, endued with
understanding, Huram my father's, the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan,
and his father was a man of Tyre, skilful to work in gold and in silver, in
brass, in iron, in stone and in timber, in purple and blue and fine linen, and
in crimson, and to find out every device which shall be put to him, with thy
cunning men and with the cunning men of David, thy father."
AND CHRONICLES VARY IN THEIR ACCOUNT
Hiram, of Tyre, reigned from 969 to 936 B.C., and the building of the Temple
at Jerusalem was begun by Solomon in the eleventh year of his Tyrian
contemporary's rule, or in 958. The two books of which Kings is composed were
not all written at the same time and the authors, or editors, themselves refer
to two of their sources of information as "The Acts of Solomon" and "The Book
of Jashar," but it is the general belief of biblical scholars that, according
to the method of Hebrew writers, the actual text of the older narratives has
been preserved, though the book itself did not assume the form in which we
have it before 535 B.C. It is not thought that the description of the building
of the Temple is of contemporary date, for instance, but was probably written
long afterwards, yet the late William Robertson Smith and Prof. E. Kautsch, of
Halle, have written that it is probable the original author had access to
exact particulars as to dates, the "artist Hiram and so forth, which may have
been contained in the Temple records." At any rate, of several accounts of
Solomon's reign and the building of the Temple, the only one we possess is
Kings that is at all near the date of the event cords. The account in
Chronicles is now generally assumed by scholars to be founded upon the earlier
canonical books of the Bible with the exception of a lost volume called "The
Book of the Kings of Israel," referred to in Chronicles itself. The editor of
Chronicles has introduced material peculiar to himself, the value of which is
not accepted without question, and the book was compiled some time after 300
B.C., nearly seven centuries after the time of Solomon and the building of the
the alterations made by the Chronicler, unfortunately, are those which cause
the account of Hiram Abif to differ in Chronicles from that in Kings. Indeed,
it is in Chronicles that the addition of "abif" to the name of Hiram occurs,
or rather, as it is in the Hebrew, "abi" in one place, meaning "my father,"
and abiw" in the other place, meaning "his father." The "w" in the latter word
is an attempt to transliterate the Hebrew letter that was formerly called "vav"
into, English. It is still pronounced "v" among the Jewish-speaking people of
Southern Russia and Rumania and at the time Luther translated the Bible into
German, it was so sounded by the scholars of Western Europe, whence in
translating the Hebrew into English, Miles Coverdale, who followed Luther's
views, made the word "Abif" or "Abiv." It is from this source that we obtain
the name Hiram Abif.
to the Chronicler, too, that we owe the statement that Hiram Abif, besides
being a worker in brass, was "skillful to work in iron, in stone, and in
timber, in purple and fine linen" and all the rest of that description, which,
as Tyre was not different from other lands of the age, is very unlikely. As
the metal workers of the lands of antiquity were called upon to devise art
work of the greatest technical ingenuity and artistist taste, it is not
improbable that Hiram Abif was able to work gold and silver and copper as well
as brass, and he may even have known how to treat iron, as the Chronicler
says. That he would have been a worker in stone and timber, however, is
contrary to all tradition in the Orient, and it is out of the question to
imagine him turning his hand to "purple and blue a linen," which, although it
was one of the most important industries of Tyre, was entirely foreign to
neither the Chronicler nor the author of Kings gives us any inkling of what
finally became of Hiram Abif. "So Huram made an end of doing the work that he
wrought for King Solomon in the house of God," says the Chronicler, just as
the author of the description in Kings had written at least three centuries
before him: "So Hiram made an end of doing all the work that he wrought for
King Solomon in the house of Jehovah."
only distinction recognized among Masons is that of an excellence in virtue
and intelligence. In all respects they stand upon a level. – Anon.
Pillars of Brass
Bro. JEROME B. FRISBEE, California
clear forthright article on a subject of much interest to Masons is a splendid
example of how interesting research may be made. The reader should search out
of his old files of THE BUILDER other articles on the same theme, of which the
following are typical: "Pillars of the Porch," by Bro. John W. Barry, June,
1917, p. 177; July, 1917, p. 200; Aug., 1917, p. 236. "Accession of Solomon:
Building of the Temple at Jerusalem," by H. H. Milman, Sept., 1919, p. 235.
"The Two Pillars," by Bro. H.L,. Haywood, C.C.B., Oct., 1919. "The Pillars of
the Porch," by Bro. W. B. Bragdon, March, 1922, p. 74. "The Egyptian
Influence on Our Masonic Ceremonial and Ritual," by Bro. Thomas Ross, Sept,
1922, p. 265.
Frisbee is the author of a book, magnificently illustrated, on King Solomon's
Temple, price $2.00. It may be secured through the National Masonic Research
Society, or from The Temple Publishing Company, Lindsay, Cal. The essay
printed herewith, written especially for THE BUILDER, is representative of the
style and nature of the volume, the author of which is a member of the
American Institute of Archaeology.
two great pillars of brass, set up before the entrance of King Solomon's
Temple, were at once the most striking objects that met the eye and the most
puzzling symbols that ever challenged the intellect of man. They are the
prototypes of the significant pillars that stand today at the door of every
Masonic lodge; mute reminders of a glorious past, exhaling the very essence of
Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, radiating a vague, superhuman air of eternity
with the impressive imperturbability of the silent Sphinx, which, in majestic
repose, maintains its eternal vigil before that other mysterious monument of
the ages - the Great Pyramid of Egypt.
Masonry cherishes these spectacular pillars with a reverence that excites our
wonder, but its explanation of their symbolism is superficial for the simple
reason that it has lost their esoteric meaning. These pillars are the keys of
the Temple without which its treasure rooms remain unopened and the hidden
mysteries forever concealed. The necessity of interpreting their symbolism,
before proceeding to explore the Temple, is declared in the most emphatic
terms. "Son of man, behold with thine eyes and hear with thine ears and set
thine heart upon all that I shall show thee." (Ezekiel XL; 4) "Then he brought
me to the porch of the House, even by ten steps whereby they went up to it,
and there were pillars by the posts, one on this side and one on that."
(Ezekiel XL; 48) "And Jehovah said unto me, Son of man, MARK WELL, and behold
with thine eyes and hear with thine ears, and MARK WELL the entrance to the
house." (Ezekiel XLIV; 5) Multitudes have gazed with silent awe upon that
mysterious entrance, unable to comprehend its meaning even with those eloquent
pillars speaking their symbolic language. Today the task is doubly hard, for
we must first reconstruct the pillars before we can interpret their symbolism.
Many have essayed the task of reproducing these mysterious pillars in
pictorial form but the difficulty encountered in endeavouring to interpret the
involved descriptions found in the Bible, without a full appreciation of the
possibilities revealed by archaeological research, or a clear perception of
the principles of artistic design, have produced results that are far from
satisfactory. Stade's crude design, reproduced herewith, is typical of them
all and embodies the common error of supposing that the pillars supported a
portion of the porch. This error is apparent to every Freemason, and should be
evident to all students of archaeology, for it was a common practice in
ancient times to set up two detached pillars before the temple entrance. One
of the best examples extant is the Egyptian temple at Medinet Abu. An
excellent illustration of this temple, showing the two pillars may be seen in
DeClifford's work: Egypt, the Cradle of Ancient Masonry.
capitals of the pillars, ornamented with an intricacy of lily work, rows of
pomegranate blossoms, nets of checkerwork and wreaths of chainwork, have
proved to be most puzzling and most difficult to understand and visualize.
The capital here illustrated is a reproduction of the most beautiful capital
in the world; the delicate tracery of the tapering spirals and expanding
parabolas of this marvellous carving has never been equalled. The original -
carved in white stone - stands on the sacred Isle of Philae, far up the Nile,
where it was erected during the age of Solomon's Temple. This capital is not
only in the form of a lily, but it is conspicuously ornamented with lily
work. Its display of lily work, its surpassing beauty, its Egyptian origin
and its existence coeval with Solomon's Temple, are the reasons for its
selection by the author as the model for the reconstructed pillars.
WAS THE SOURCE
is unquestionably the source from which the builders of King Solomon's Temple
derived that peculiar entrancing and almost incomprehensible symbolic
architecture which was the expression of their extraordinary intellectual
attainments in art, science, philosophy and religion. The hypothesis of a
Babylonian origin, assumed by Chipiez and accepted by Caldecott and others, is
disproved by the well-known fact that the Babylonians worked in crumbling
brick, while the Egyptians wrought in imperishable stone; and by the further
fact that the Gebalites and men of Tyre, employed by Solomon, were craftsmen
of the Egyptian school.
relationship existing between the Hebrews and the Egyptians was very
intimate. "Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See I have set thee over all the land of
Egypt, and he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and he gave
him to wife the daughter of Potiphera, Priest of On." (Genesis XLI) Pharaoh's
Daughter took Moses and he became her son, he was taught all the learning of
the Egyptians and married the daughter of Yethru, a priest of On. In later
years Moses decreed: "Thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou was a
sojourner in his land. The children of the third generation that are born
unto them shall enter into the assembly of Jehovah." (Deuteronomy XXIII; 7)
"Solomon built a palace for Pharaoh's daughter whom he had taken to wife." (I
Kings VII ; 8)
commercial intercourse between Tyre and Egypt was also very extensive, and the
builders of Tyre could not have been unfamiliar with the wonderful temples
standing in majestic splendour along the banks of the Nile. About a hundred
miles up the Leontes River, which flows into the sea at Tyre, are the ruins of
the temple of Jupiter at Baalbek. Among these ruins lie two hundred granite
columns, twenty-five feet length by three feet in length by three feet in
diameter, each cut from single block of the peculiar rose-colored granite
found only at Aswan in Egypt, seven hundred miles up the Nile.
builders of Baalbek were Master Masons: they handled the largest blocks of
stone ever quarried and polished them with the perfection of a gem. There
lies to this day, at the entrance to the quarry, three quarters of a mile from
the temple, a rough ashler of pure white marble, sixteen feet square and
sixty-nine feet in length, estimated to weigh 3,000,000 pounds. The
uncompleted wall, extending around three sides of the temple and twelve cubits
from it, is three courses high and contains stones fifteen feet square and
sixty-five feet in length. These stones were laid up wall without mortar and
the joints between the stones are so fine that they are almost invisible. "It
is no exaggeration to say that they are like the joints in a polished mahogany
Solomon's Temple was undoubtedly a most beautiful building. It has been
famous for ages as the most wonderful structure ever erected by the hand of
man, in fact, we are told that it was so perfect that it appeared more like
the handiwork of the Supreme Architect of the Universe; while David told
Solomon that he received the plans from the hand of Jehovah. In perfection of
design and nicety of execution, it doubtless equalled the exquisite work at
two temples resembled each other in more ways than one, for "Solomon built the
inner court with three courses of hewn stone and one of cedar beams." (I Kings
VI; 36) "The foundation was of polished stones, even great stones, stones of
ten cubits and stones of eight cubits, cut according to measure." (I Kings
VII; 10-11) These great stones of ten cubits were twenty feet and ten inches
in length by twelve and a half feet square and weighed 500,000 pounds apiece.
The foundation under the two pillars of brass, as shown in the illustration,
was thirty-two cubits in width (66 2/3 feet), and therefore required four
great stones of eight cubits. In comparison with this, one of the great
blocks of marble at Baalbek is long enough to fill the entire space.
BUILDERS OF BAALBEK
built Baalbek? We do not know. Those sublime artists were content to please
the Grand Architect of the Universe and made no attempt to perpetuate their
own names. Their work indicates that they were in possession of the lost word
and were masters of the royal secret; if so, they must have looked down upon
the idolatrous worshippers with mild disdain. Perhaps the men of Tyre, who
lived at the mouth of the river and monopolized the sea trade of the world,
could have told who built Baalbek; perhaps they built it themselves. It is a
gratuitous assumption that the bricklayers of Babylon built it, and it is just
as certain they had nothing to do with the building of King Solomon's Temple.
Solomon required men who could polish and juggle huge blocks of marble
weighing hundreds of tons, and he found the master workmen of the world at his
very door; and finally, we are told that he employed Gebalites, which means
stone squarers, and men of Tyre.
Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He fashioned the two pillars of
brass, each eighteen cubits high, and a line of twelve cubits compassed either
of them about. And he made two capitals of molten brass to set upon the tops
of the pillars: the height of the one capital was five cubits, and the height
of the other capital was five cubits." (I Kings VII; 13-16) "As for the
pillars, the height of one pillar was eighteen cubits; a line of twelve cubits
did compass it; it was hollow and the thickness thereof was four fingers."
(Jeremiah XLII; 21, 22) "He made in front of the house two pillars thirty-five
cubits high." (II Chronicles III; 15) "Then he brought me to the porch of the
house, and he measured each post of the porch; and there were pillars by the
posts one on this side and one on that." (Ezekiel XL; 48, 49)
descriptions differ: two give the height of the pillars at eighteen cubits,
one at thirty-five. This discrepancy is more apparent than real, and is
explained by the assumption that the eighteen cubits is merely the length of
the shaft, while the thirty-five cubits is the total height from the pavement
to the top of the sphere and includes the following: foundation, six cubits;
base, one cubit; shaft, eighteen cubits; abacus, one cubit; and sphere four
cubits; all of which is clearly depicted in the detailed illustration of the
design of the pillar herein described and illustrated is based upon the
Biblical descriptions, interpreted by a study of numerous Egyptian pillars
with capitals of lily work. It was not designed with intent to make it
thirty-five cubits in height: in fact, a sketch of this pillar hung on the
walls of the author's study for years before he discovered that it measured
exactly thirty-five cubits. The shaft was made eighteen cubits in accordance
with the description given in both Jeremiah and Kings: the base and abacus
were each made one cubit in height for the sake of artistic proportion, and
the diameter of the sphere was made four cubits for the same reason - to have
made them a cubit either more or less would have destroyed the harmony. "The
foundations were a full reed of six great cubits." (Ezekiel XLI; 8) "And by
ten steps they went up to it." (Ezekiel XL; 49, Septuagint) The foundation
extended five cubits beyond the walls of the building, as shown, for "The
breadth of the place that was left was five cubits round about." (Ezekiel XLI;
the illustration here submitted the foundation extends fifteen cubits to the
front of the porch, thus leaving a space of five cubits round about the bases
of the pillars. This was done primarily for artistic reasons in order to
properly balance the design and give the pillars an appearance of stability;
it was also necessary in order to insure a firm foundation for the pillars.
This arrangement leads to an important discovery: that the inner court was an
oblong square, 250 cubits in length by 100 cubits in width - a use of the
numbers 10 and 25 that becomes increasingly significant the further we
PILLARS DID NOT HAVE TWO CAPITALS
for the capitals, the prevalent notion that each pillar had two capitals, one
of four cubits and on top, of that another capital of five cubits, is absurd;
it is derived from a misinterpretation of the following: "19. And the
capitals were of lily work four cubits. 20. And there were capitals above also
upon the two pillars." (I Kings VII) Reversing these sentences and transposing
a word solves the puzzle thus: "There were also capitals above upon the two
pillars, and the capitals were of lily work four cubits." There are, however,
real discrepancies, for example: "David bought the threshing floor of
Araunath, the Jebusite, for fifty shekels of silver." (II Samuel XXIV; 24)
"David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold." (I Chronicles
XXI; 25) "The molten sea held two thousand baths" (I Kings VII; 26); while
later, "It held three thousand baths." (II Chronicles IV; 5)
of this irregularity was doubtless intentional, being necessary, in order to
preserve the cabalistic meaning. The Bible teaches its great lessons by means
of allegory; it abounds in "parables and dark sayings of old" which contain a
double meaning-inviting endless research by the most inquisitive minds, yet
rewarding the most humble inquirer, disclosing mysteries to everyone in
proportion to his training and powers of comprehension. The pillars of brass
exhibit this peculiarity in the superlative degree: their size and beauty
making them most impressive spectacles whose perfect balance symbolizes the
universal equipoise of Nature, while inherent in their structure are concealed
the means by which the earth is measured and weighed.
order to understand the pillars it is necessary, first, to unscramble the
descriptions, then to separate the wheat from the chaff and finally to sort
and rearrange the sentences in logical order. This having been accomplished
we obtain the following result:
He made two capitals of molten brass, to set upon the tops of the pillars: the
height of the one capital was five cubits and the height of the other capital
was five cubits. 19. And the capitals were of lily work four cubits. 26.
Close to the belly, which was beside the network. 17. There were nets of
checker-work and wreaths of chainwork for the capitals. 18. And there were
two rows of pomegranates round about upon the one network. 20. And there were
two hundred pomegranates, in rows, round about upon the other capital." (I
height of the one capital was five cubits with network and pomegranates upon
the capital round about, all of brass, and there were ninety-six pomegranates
on the four sides; in all there were a hundred pomegranates [in each row] upon
the network round about." (Jeremiah LXII; 22, 23)
full descriptions in the Bible are somewhat lengthy and repetitious in order
to make all perfectly clear, but it is evident that each capital was five
cubits in height and that four cubits of this were of lily work above the
belly. The belly or bowl was covered with nets of checkerwork and carried two
rows of pomegranate blossoms round about, one hundred in each row. There were
also seven wreaths of chainwork for each capital, draped around the bowl of
the capital. The illustration shows the beautiful capital of Philae altered
so as to conform to the above interpretation of the descriptions.
IS A CUBIT?"
measurements of the pillars being expressed in cubits, the next question to
arise is, "What is a cubit?" There are many answers: the dictionary defines
the cubit as eighteen inches, and practically every writer accepts this dictum
as final; Frederick, however, makes it twenty-two inches, while Caldecott
writes at great length for the purpose of proving that it is but 14.4 inches;
the Masonic cubit is the twenty-four-inch gauge; while the Sacred Cubit is
twenty-five inches. The writer has proved to his complete satisfaction that
King Solomon's Temple was built by the twenty-five-inch cubit. This
proposition is demonstrated by a study of the dimensions of the Ark of the
Covenant, the Court of the Altar, and the Molten Sea. The Pillars of Brass
illustrate its use in a most clever manner for they abound in hidden and
suggestive references to the sacred number twenty-five. The Sacred Cubit when
used to explain the temple measurements, reveals many of the parts and points
of the hidden mysteries which have hitherto been concealed; it interprets the
system of just weights and measures ordained by Moses, and most extraordinary
as it may at first appear, it proves that King Solomon had not only determined
the true diameter of the earth but had determined its weight as well.
Caldecott claims, however, that the Temple was measured by the Babylonian
cubit of 14.4 inches. This little cubit was found among some ruins in
Babylonia in 1881, and, being the latest novelty in cubits, it has attracted
considerable attention. There is no evidence, however, that it was employed
in the construction of King Solomon's Temple, in fact, it would dwarf the
magnificent structure to the point of insignificance; for instance: it would
make the famous Middle Chamber only six feet in height, for "He built chambers
against all the house, each five cubits high." (I Kings V; 10) The taller
Fellowcrafts could not have stood erect in such a tiny room. Built by the
Sacred Cubit the ceiling would be ten feet five inches from the floor, a good,
perplexing pillars, variously described as eighteen cubits in height and
thirty-five cubits in height, become more intricate as we examine them, for
while revealing these two extreme measures, they concealed their true and most
significant height, which was twenty-five cubits - including base, shaft,
capital and abacus, as shown in the detailed illustration of the pillar. The
ingenuity of the designer is further revealed by the fact that the pillars
were twenty-five feet in circumference - for, "A line of twelve cubits
compassed either of them about." (I Kings VII; 15)
solution is as follows:
cubits multiplied by 25 equals 300 inches 300 inches divided by 12 equals 25
third and most extraordinary use of the number twenty-five is found in the
fact that the spheres upon the tops of the pillars were twenty-five hundred
feet above sea level. This statement is easily proved as follows: the
topographical map of Jerusalem reveals the fact that the present elevation of
the pavement on Mount Moriah is 2435 feet above sea level, with some parts a
trifle higher and some a trifle lower; the pillars were twenty-five cubits in
height and stood upon a platform six cubits high - a total of thirty-one
cubits, or 64 feet 7 inches. Now from a point on the horizontal pavement,
measuring 2435 feet, 5 inches above sea level, let us erect a perpendicular 64
feet, 7 inches by the plumb: the elevation of this point will be 2500 feet
above sea level.
GREATER THAN THE PYRAMID
order to secure this peculiar and significant elevation of 2500 feet, Solomon
built up both slopes of Mount Moriah with stone work, making a level platform
in the form of a perfect square, covering twenty-five square acres. The
amount of masonry in this huge platform exceeds by far the volume of the Great
Pyramid of Egypt, which covers thirteen acres of ground and once rose 486 feet
toward the sky. Much of the temple platform still remains and one can stand
on the wall today, with a plumb line in his hand, 150 feet above the lowest
are other subtle employments of the number twenty-five: the distance from the
center of one sphere to the center of the other was twenty-five cubits, while
the combined width of the platform and steps in front of the porch was also
peculiar, involved and fascinating numerical relationships subsist only when
we measure the pillars with the twenty-five-inch cubit; reconstructed by any
other measure, the pillars are not only incomprehensible but meaningless as
well. The whole temple, with its two courts, its vessels and furnishings,
respond in like manner to the touch of this magic rod - the Sacred Cubit.
Like the Sphinx, then, these two cabalistic pillars, standing at the entrance
of the temple, challenge all comers for an interpretation; and unless their
esoteric meaning is deciphered the temple remains a mystery. A cowan might
enter the Holy of Holies and not learn that it represents the diameter of the
earth; he might gaze upon the Holy Ark of the Covenant and fail to perceive
that it reveals the weight of the earth; he might even open the sacred Ark and
examine the golden cup holding an omer and Aaron's rod that was laid up in the
Ark for a token, and fail to recognize the standards of perfect weight and
measure. All this and more stands revealed to him who "Marks Well" the
entrance to the Temple and solves the riddle of the Sphinx.
are repeatedly admonished, "Look to the East," and if we gaze with a
discerning eye we shall perceive, at the dawn of history, not only men of
moral and intellectual development unsurpassed today, but artists and
engineers whose work surpasses anything of the kind that the modern world has
the province of Freemasonry to perpetuate and inculcate the divine spirit that
actuated these marvellous men of the East, and the task of each individual
Mason is to build, in Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, the spiritual temple, that
house not made with hands.
the structure that we raise
is with materials filled
Todays and Yesterdays
the blocks with which we build.
shape and fashion these
no yawning gaps between
not because no man sees
things will remain unseen.
Freemasonry in Panama
Bros. JOSE OLLER, G.M.; A.D.H. MELHADO, P.G.M., and VICTOR JESURUN, G. S.,
article, written especially for THE BUILDER, is the first published brief
history of Masonry in Panama thus far written, so far as we are aware, by
officials of the Grand Lodge of Panama, and it therefore possesses more than
usual weight and interest. The National Masonic Research Society expresses its
thanks to the three distinguished authors who are animated by so genuine a
zeal for the great cause in a land where Masonry labors at many disadvantages.
Such brethren as may care to discuss the pages following, or to make further
inquiries, may address Bro. Oller in our care. All readers are urged to peruse
in connection with this contribution, "On the Recognition of the Grand Lodge
of Panama," by Bros. M. M. Johnson and W. H. L. Odell, THE BUILDER, March,
1918, p. 86.
reported that evidence of the existence of Freemasonry was found in the early
part of the 18th Century in the ruins of the old city of Portobelo, which was
founded by the Spaniards in 1597, and if one were to accept that as a fact it
would appear that Freemasonry existed on the Isthmus since the time of the
conquest by the Spaniards, who, by the way, gave it the suggestive name of
Castilla de Oro (Golden Castle).
an authentic record existed in 1822, that is to say, about a century ago, when
it is stated that a few citizens of North America then residing on the Isthmus
requested from the Grand Lodge of New York a charter under dispensation with a
view of organizing a lodge in the city of Panama to be named, "La Mejor
Union." It would appear that this attempt did not materialize and the above
named lodge was not established. Another attempt was made to raise the pillars
of Freemasonry in Panama, and it is reported that in December 1850 a lodge
under dispensation, named “Union,” held its first communication under a
charter from the Grand Lodge of Texas.
March 1866, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts granted a charter of dispensation
to the "Isthmus Lodge", which, however, did not convene and the charter was
surrendered, and as Panama was then a state under the constitution of the
United States of Colombia, with Masonic jurisdiction duly organized under the
auspices of the Supreme Council of the A. S. R., embracing the three
fundamental degrees since 1833, and therefore competent to grant charters to
lodges, this lodge (Isthmus Lodge) received a charter from the Supreme Council
of Colombia, and we are informed that it continued to work until 1880, when it
surrendered its charter. When the French undertook the construction of the
Inter-Oceanic Canal the following lodges were established: Fidelity, Le
Travail, La Estrella del Pacifico.
These, however, became defunct with the closing of the work of the canal, and
as most of their members were foreigners - the natives taking very little part
- no efforts were made to maintain them. In February 1898 the Grand Lodge of
Scotland granted a charter for the establishment of Sojourners' Lodge, No.
874, in the city of Colon, which was formed for the most part by
English-speaking members. This lodge, after a long period of good Masonic
work, surrendered its charter in 1913 and secured a charter from the Grand
Lodge of Massachusetts, retaining, however, the name of Sojourners, and, as
the construction of the Panama Canal by the United States of America was at
its height, this lodge was mostly composed of American citizens. It is worthy
of note that when the charter was granted by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts
the Sojourners' Lodge was located at Cristobal, in the Canal Zone, Panama
being a republic since the 3rd of November, 1903.
stated above, Panama, which formed part of the United States of Colombia,
severed its political relations with that Government, declaring its
independence on the 3rd of November, 1903, thus establishing the Republic of
Panama, which under the Constitution of Feb. 15, 1904, became a free and
independent nation. Her independence was recognized by the United States of
America, and by a treaty the United States of America was granted a strip of
land for the construction of the Panama Canal. This treaty was approved by
both governments - Panama and the United States of America - and was signed at
Washington, D. C., on the 18th day of November, 1903.
Republic of Panama was then regarded as open Masonic ground, as the Supreme
Council of Colombia (seat at Cartagena) did not have any lodge in the Republic
of Panama, Sojourners' Lodge, No. 874, under the jurisdiction of the Grand
Lodge of Scotland, being the only Masonic body alive.
FIRST LODGE WAS ESTABLISHED
first lodge established under the flag of the Republic of Panama was "Rosa de
America Lodge, No. 65", with a charter from the Grand Lodge of Venezuela,
Caracas being the seat of that Grand Lodge. This lodge was established on the
27th of February, 1907, and there began a new and brilliant era for
Freemasonry in the Isthmus of Panama, as very many of the Panamaians, many of
whom were of the best social standing and holding good positions in the
Government and other branches of public life, were received into the Order.
Later on in 1910 the Supreme Council of Colombia (seat at Cartagena) issued a
charter to "Acacia Lodge, No. 50." Both these lodges worked for the good and
welfare of the Order, although there was at that time some rivalry between
them as to the right of jurisdiction for the Republic of Panama, this rivalry,
however, being more between the two Grand bodies than between the lodges
themselves. "Acacia Lodge" was afterwards closed down by mutual consent of its
members and another charter was issued by the Supreme Council of Colombia
(seat of Cartagena) for the establishment of the "Cosmopolita Lodge, No. 55."
years after the secession of Panama from Colombia, Masonry had developed
considerably, as by that time other lodges were established besides the two
already mentioned. The Order having attained the standard of stability so long
desired by the Panamaians, and as the membership of the “Rosa de America
Lodge" was so large, they were able to establish others directly from among
their own members. The lodges so established were "Pro Mundi Benefico,
Restauracion, Orion, Jos. B. Alvizna, and Aurora do Istmo.
attempt was made in 1913 to form a Gram! Lodge, and on Oct. 14 of that year
all the lodges (with the exception of "Cosmopolita," which insisted in paying
obedience to the Supreme Council of Colombia (seat at Cartagena), decided to
establish a Grant Lodge in the Republic of Panama. This Grand Lodge, however,
was only recognized by a few Grand bodies of South America, viz.: Venezuela,
Guatemala and Dominican Republic. It was also accepted as a member of the
International Masonic Association, with seat at Neuchatel, Switzerland. During
its existence this Grand Lodge issued a charter to a new lodge composed of
English-speaking Masons in the city of Panama, named "Unity, No. 7," as the
lodges under its jurisdiction were numbered anew, the old ones losing their
was not until April 19, 1916, that Panama realized the importance of
Freemasonry, when the leading Masons of the republic had acquired the
necessary knowledge to organize a Grand Lodge in accordance with Masonic
Jurisprudence. All the Masons and lodges officially got together (at this time
"Cosmopolita Lodge" united with the move) and the representative; of each and
every lodge in the city of Panama (there being no lodges at any other point)
met with the consent of the Grand Lodge of Venezuela and the Supreme Council
of Colombia, which gave these lodges full powers and founded the Grand Lodge
of Panama and began to prepare a constitution. This task was placed in the
hands of a committee which, after a short time, presented a constitution to
the members of the Grand Lodge which was considered by that body and passed in
its first and second readings, and was signed on the 16th of August, 1916.
Election of Grand officers then followed.
special communication of the Grand Lodge was called for the 12th of October
for the installation of the new Grand officers, which was done amidst the
greatest enthusiasm among the Masons, and they immediately proceeded with the
work of preparing the by-laws.
first temporary Grand Master of the Grand Lodge was M. W. Enrique Vallarino,
from April to October, 1916. This is for the reason that the Grand Master
elected to serve for the term ending March 8, 1917, was M. W. Guillermo
Andreve, who was installed as stated above in October 1916. The Grand Lodge of
Panama, thus organized, was welcomed by Masonry in general, and particularly
by the M. W. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. This Grand Lodge had granted a
charter to Sojourners' Lodge.
BROTHER MELVIN M. JOIINSON AN ENVOY
Melvin Maynard Johnson, Past Grand Master and Special Envoy to Isthmian
Masonry, during a visit to the Isthmus, signed a treaty of Recognition and
Jurisdiction - ad referendum - with Grand Master Andreve, whereby the Grand
Lodge of Massachusetts recognized the Grand Lodge of Panama as a sovereign
regular and true Grand Lodge, and the Grand Lodge of Panama in its turn waived
jurisdiction over the Canal Zone in favor of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
This treaty was ratified and signed in the city of Panama June 24, 1917. M. W.
Rafael Neira, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Panama, and R. W. Herbert C.
White, District Grand Master of the Canal Zone, officiated at this ceremony.
M. W. Melvin Maynard Johnson had installed a District Grand Lodge during his
great internal reorganization took place. Some lodges became defunct and their
members affiliated themselves with others, and in some instances charters were
granted to new lodges.
present there are the following lodges established in the city of Panama
(Pacific side of the canal):
de America, No. 1."
Mundi Beneficio, No. 3."
"Pacific, No. 5."
the city of Colon (Atlantic side of the canal):
"Union, No. 7."
According to official data there were about 500 Masons on the rolls, but,
unfortunately, some who neglected their duties fell into irregularity and were
dropped therefrom. Quite a large proportion of the remainder have attained to
a high standard of efficiency and have continued to work for the good and
welfare of the Order. There are now about 300 brothers who toil for the
welfare of the Craft.
Grand Lodge of Panama is now a well-organized institution, demanding strict
obedience to the ancient landmarks and utilizing its utmost endeavor to lay up
for itself a bright future, in spite of its struggles against prejudice,
fanaticism, jealousy and ignorance.
the organization of the Grand Lodge of Panama it has been the ideal of every
Mason to build a Masonic Temple in the city of Panama - a home for the Grand
Lodge of Panama and a place where brethren from all parts of the world may
feel sure of a truly fraternal reception. Last year the Grand Lodge acquired a
plot of land with an area of 1392 square metros located in a conspicuous spot
facing the Pacific Ocean, where all incoming and outgoing vessels through the
canal will be able to see the Square and Compasses.
Shortly after the formation of the Grand Lodge the subordinate lodges worked
their degrees with different authorized rituals; those that had originally
taken their charter from Venezuela used the so-called Scottish Rite Ritual
taken from Cassard; whilst the lodge that had its charter from Colombia worked
under the same ritual taken from Almeida.
UNIFORM RITUAL IS ADOPTED
Grand Lodge of Panama recognized that this was not a desirable situation, and
in 1920 – M.W. Jose Maria Fernandez being then Grand Master - the Grand Lodge
of Panama passed a law whereby it adopted the ritual authorized by the Grand
Lodge of Massachusetts, and this was translated into Spanish and is now being
used by the lodges in which Spanish is spoken on the Isthmus.
are two lodges composed of English-speaking members - Pacific, No. 5, and
Union, No. 7 - which, on receipt of their charter, were granted dispensation
to work in the Ancient York Ritual authorized by the Grand Lodge of England.
first Grand Secretary was Brother Jose Oller, who served for three years
consecutively, carrying out his arduous task with great success. He was
succeeded by Brother Jesurun, who has been reselected for four years
consecutively. The Masonic period 1923 to 1924 will complete his fifth year of
efficient service for the welfare of the Craft.
following Grand Masters have been elected since the organization of the Grand
1916-17 - M. W. Guillermo Andreve.
1917-18 - M. W. Guillermo Andreve.
1918-19 - M. W. Rafael Neira
1919-20 - M. W. Jose Maria Fernandez.
1920-21 - M. W. Guillermo Andreve.
1921-22 - M. W. A. D. H. Melhado.
1922-23 - M. W. A. D. H. Melhado.
1923-24 - M. W. Jose Oller.
pleasing to the Grand Lodge of Panama to report that its relations with other
Grand Lodges have been most cordial, and up to the present it has been
recognized by the following Grand Lodges:
Alabama, Arkansas, Colombia (Barranquilla), Colombia (Cartagena), Colorado,
Connecticut, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, Philippine, Francia, Guatemala, Indiana,
Iowa, Ireland, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Peru, Puerto Rico, Salvador, South Dakota, Venezuela, Vermont,
conclusion, the above account gives, although very briefly, a history of
Freemasonry in Panama - a strip of land which has united and will continue to
unite the Americans with a fraternal tie, and which, kissed by the two oceans
by means of the canal, has contributed most generously that humanity may
benefit from the fruits of a more intense commercial intercourse than
these lines based as they are on facts serve as an appropriate means whereby
our Masonic brethren in other lands be well informed of our organization, our
labors, our ideals and our objects; and that those jurisdictions which, for
any reason whatever, have been reticent in extending us the fraternal hand of
Masonic recognition, be disposed so to do to our mutual benefit and the glory
of our most ancient Order.
Men Who Were Masons
Bro. GEO. W. BAIRD, P.G.M., District of Columbia
Oct. 12, 1922, only a year ago, a bronze statue of Edmund Burke, erected at
the expense of the Sulgrave Institute, an English organization with a branch
in this country, was set up in Washington, D.C. We know Burke as one of the
mightiest of British statesmen, as one of the world's master orators, and as
the best friend our Colonial forefathers had in the British Parliament when
they fought for independence, but we do not know as well as we should that
Burke was also a Freemason, as were also many of his celebrated friends or
contemporaries, among them being Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Richard
Savage, James Boswell, David Garrick, Sir William Forbes, etc. (See THE
BUILDER, July, 1923, p. 207.) Burke was a member of Jerusalem Lodge, No. 44,
was born in Dublin 1729 and died in England July 8, 1797, being buried in the
little church at Beaconsfield at his own request, though there was a general
demand that he be entombed in Westminster. His father was a Protestant
attorney, his mother a Roman Catholic, Edmund and his two brothers following
the father in matters of faith. Burke entered a school at Ballitore, then went
up to Trinity College, Dublin, where Oliver Goldsmith was a classmate, and
where, without winning any great glory in scholarship, he took his degree in
1748. In 1750 he went over to London to enter the Temple as a law student, but
soon, like so many other youths of similar temperament, conceived so violent a
distaste for that profession that he abandoned it, whereupon his father
withdrew his allowance, for he refused to support his son in the vagrant
pursuit of literature which then became the young man's ambition.
young Burke fell upon a season of difficulties. "I was not swaddled and rocked
and candled into a legislator," he wrote in later life, for once breaking his
custom of silence concerning those early years; "Nitor in adversum is the
motto for a man like me. At every step of my progress in life (for in every
step I was traversed and opposed) and at every turnpike I met I was obliged to
show my passport. Otherwise no rank, no toleration even, for me."
he had a passport to show. In 1756 he made his mark by a brilliant satire on
Bolingbroke in A Vindication of Natural Society, and then immediately repeated
his success by publishing what is now considered an English classic,
Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas on the Sublime and
are here more interested in him as the friend of the American Colonists. We
admire a man with the courage of his convictions, who dares to do right in
spite of his peers and not because of them. A decade ago we should have been
censured for saying that it was George III and his royal court and not the
British people who made war on the Colonists, or for reminding a reader how
English we were in the days when the first census taken (1790) showed 72 per
cent of the population of English birth or extraction, as against 5.8 per cent
Scotch, and only .35 per cent Irish. The Revolutionary War was so unpopular in
England that George! III was obliged to go to Hesse Dermstadt for soldiers.
Frederick the Great, a Mason, and supposed to have been one of the founders of
the Scottish Rite, stopped those enlistments, and later sent a sword to
General George Washington, a fellow Mason, along with a beautiful message.
BECOMES AGENT FOR NEW YORK
was for a short time agent for New York at a salary of 700 pounds. In 1774 he
boldly and publicly sided with the cause of the American Colonies. His great
speech on American taxation, delivered April 9, 1774, was a brilliant feat,
still read and admired. His support of the rebelling Colonists made him
unpopular with his constituents, but he proved himself invincible.
of the great events in Burke's career was the publication of his Reflections
on the Revolution in France, which so electrified London, November, 1790. "Its
vogue was instant and enormous," writes John Morley. "Eleven editions were
exhausted in little more than a year, and there is probably not much
exaggeration in the estimate that 30,000 copies were sold before Burke's death
seven years afterwards. George III was extravagantly delighted; Stanislaus of
Poland sent Burke words of thanks and high glorification and a gold medal.
Catharine of Russia, the friend of Voltaire and the benefactress of Diderot,
sent her congratulations to the man who denounced French philosophers as
miscreants and wretches."
remarkable that so many active spirits in the French Revolution and in our own
were Masons - Burke, Frederick the Great, Heli Dumont, Voltaire, Franklin,
Lafayette, Washington, John Paul Jones, Napoleon. The beautiful memorial
depicted in the frontispiece is in a triangular lot between Massachusetts
avenue, L street and 11th street, and faces the east, as is proper that it
Chapters of Masonic History
Bro. H.L. HAYWOOD, Editor THE BUILDER
VI. FREEMASONRY AND THE COMACINE MASTERS
chapter on the Roman Collegia published last June I referred briefly to the
Comacine builder guilds as forming a bridge between the ancient classical
culture of Rome and the medieval civilization which grew up after the
barbarian invasions had ceased, leaving Europe in a state of more or less
quiet. It is now in order to proceed farther into that subject, for it is one
that will pay careful examination, especially since so much is being written
about it these days pro and con. One friend and brother, who has a name among
Masonic scholars, exclaimed in a recent letter, "I have grown weary of hearing
about those blessed Comacines, and how Freemasonry sprang out of their loins,
and how they kept the light burning in the Middle Ages. The truth is we know
nothing about them." I could not agree with this colleague because he is
undoubtedly wrong in saying that we know nothing about the Comacine masters -
we know a great deal - but I could understand why he should be so impatient of
those enthusiasts who have been claiming far more for the Comacines than the
facts warrant. It will not be our purpose here to attempt to settle the
problem one way or another; a setting forth of such facts as are known, with a
brief sketch of the theory concerning their bearing on the history of
Freemasonry, will satisfy our present needs.
Comacine theory was first brought to the attention of the English-speaking
Masonic world by a woman, Mrs. Lucy Baxter, who, writing over the penname of
"Leader Scott", published in 1899 a remarkable volume entitled The Cathedral
Builders; The Story of a Great Masonic Guild, with eighty-three illustrations,
issued by Simpson Low, Marston and Company, London. The book is now
unfortunately out of print, and growing more scarce all the while, with a
rapidly mounting price. This work of 435 pages was followed in 1910 by a kind
of codicil, in the shape of a small volume of eighty pages, by our faithful
and beloved friend, Brother W. Ravenscroft, called The Comacines, Their
Predecessors and Their Successors, afterwards published as a serial in THE
BUILDER, along with many illustrations, and then reissued in book form.
Except for scattered references in histories and encyclopedias these two books
comprise the sole literary sources for English-speaking Masons, but there is
quite an abundant literature on the subject in Italian, some of which should
be translated and published in America.
HISTORY OF THE COMACINES
have already seen, the arts and crafts of the Roman Empire were rigidly
organized into guilds, or collegia, each of which had in monopolistic control
some one business, profession or handicraft. These were destroyed by the
barbarians along with the towns and communities in which they were located,
but a few of them, at Constantinople and in Rome particularly, survived the
holocaust. It is believed that a collegium, or a few collegia, of architects
and their workmen continued in the diocese of Como, situated in the Lombard
kingdom of Northern Italy, on and about the lovely Lake Como, which included
the districts of Mendrisio, Lugano, Bellinzona and Magadino. Why they remained
there is a mystery, but it is believed that the presence of large stone
quarries in that region was one reason, and that the strength and relatively
high development of the Lombardic state was another. This region, many
suppose, remained their seat and center for centuries; hence, their name, "Comacini."
expression 'magistri Comacine'," writes Rivoira in his magnificent Lombardic
Architecture (Vol. 1, p. 108), "appears for the first time in the code of the
Lombard king, Rotharis (636-652), where, in the laws numbered CXLIII and CXLV,
they figure as Master Masons with full and unlimited powers to make contracts
and subcontracts for building works; to have their collegantes or 'colleagues'
partners, members of the guild or fraternity, call them what you will - and
lastly, their serfs (servi) or workmen and labourers." Rivoira says that in
the region of Como guilds, or collegia, had never come to an end, and that
many stone, marble and timber yards existed there to attract such workmen.
his History of Italian Architecture Ricci states that the Comacine guilds were
made free and independent of medieval restraints and set at liberty to travel
about at will, but that statement has received no confirmation in Papal Bulls,
the Acts of the Carolingian Kings, or in any of the authentic annalists,
though search has often been made, and was made at Rome long before there
existed any prejudice against Freemasonry in that quarter. The Comacines
extended their influence and activities in the same way as other guilds, by
invitation and contract, and by organization of lodges in new towns.
St. Boniface went to Germany as a missionary, Pope Gregory II gave "him
credentials, instructions, etc., and sent with him a large following of monks,
versed in the art of building, and of lay brethren who were also architects,
to assist them." Italian chroniclers say that when the monk Augustine was sent
in A.D. 598 as a missionary to convert the British, Pope Gregory sent along
several Masons with him, and that Augustine later on sent back for more men
capable of building churches, oratories and monasteries. Leader Scott
believes that in both these instances the workmen sent were Comacine masters
and bases her contention on the evidence of building methods and styles
employed. Similarly, she traces the Comacines into Sicily, Normandy, and into
all the large centers of Southern, Italy, in this way explaining how, by a
gradual circling outward, the Comacine fraternity of builders came at last to
work in nearly all parts of Europe and Britain.
page 159 of her book Leader Scott gives a valuable summary of the history of
the Comacines, basing it largely, one may suppose, on Merzario's I Maestri
Comacini, Vol I, a treatise that should by all means be translated and
published in this country.
us restate the argument briefly-
When Italy was overrun by the barbarians, Roman Collegia were everywhere
The architectural college of Rome is said to have removed from that city to
the republic of Comum.
In early medieval times, one of the most important Masonic guilds in Europe
was the Society of Comacine masters, which in its constitution, methods and
work was essentially Roman, and seems to have been the survival of this Roman
Italian chroniclists assert that architects and masons accompanied Augustine
to land, and later Italian continental writers of repute adopted that view.
Whether this is proved or not, it was customary for missionaries to take in
their train persons experienced in building, and if Augustine did not do go,
his practice was an exception to what seems to have been a general rule.
Besides, a band of forty monks would have been useless to him unless some of
them could follow a secular calling useful to the mission, for they were
unacquainted with the British language and could not act independently.
Masonic monks were not uncommon, and there were such monks associated with the
Comacine body; so that qualified architects were easily found in the ranks of
the religious orders.
From Bede's account of the settlement of Augustine's mission in Britain, it
seems clear that he must have brought Masonic architects with him.
Gregory would be likely to choose architects for the mission from the Comacine
Order, which held the old Roman traditions of building, rather than those of a
Byzantine guild, and the record of their work in Britain proves that he did.
In Saxon as in the earlier Comacine carvings there are frequent
representations of fabulous monsters, symbolical birds and beasts, the
subjects of some of these carvings being suggested, apparently, by the
Physiologists, which had a Latin origin.
In the writings of the Venerable Bede and Richard, Prior of Hagustald, we meet
with phrases and words which are in the Edict of King Rotharis of 643, and in
the Memoratorio of 713 of King Luitprand, which show that these writers were
familiar with certain terms of art used by the Comacine masters."
this account be true it is of inestimable importance to us as giving an
explanation of how the arts of civilization, long supposed to have become
extinct during the Dark Ages, were never extinct at all but were continued in
preservation by the workmen and artists in the Comacine guilds. Those men
were more than builders, for they were skilled in many other crafts beside,
and understood sculpture, painting, Cosmati work or mosaic, wood work and
carving, and also, it may well be, literature and music, along with many other
accomplishments belonging; to the civil arts. Like one ship crossing a stormy
sea into which all its sister vessels had sunk, the organization of the
Comacine masters preserved the ark of civilization until such time as the
hurricane cleared from Europe and the seething barbarian tribes themselves
became ready for peace and communal life. If there is any unbroken continuity
in the history of architecture, if builder guilds of a more modern period can
trace any of their arts, traditions and customs back to ancient times, it is
through the Comacines that the chain was kept unbroken in the Dark Ages.
must not be supposed that all this has as yet been solidly established; the
Comacine Theory continues to be a theory. Rivoira, who is always so careful,
is cautious against accepting too much. He says that we know little about
their manner of organization, or about the terms connected with them, schola,
loggia, etc. But even so he attributes to them great histories importance, not
only as serving as a link with the ancient collegia, but also as paving the
way for the magnificent renaissance of art and civilization which as seen in
our first chapter in this series, burst into flower in Gothic architecture.
His following words bear witness to that.
"Whatever may have been the organization of the Comacine or Lombard guilds,
and however these may have been affected by outward events, they did not cease
to exist in consequence by of the fall of the Lombard kingdom. With the first
breath of municipal freedom, and with the rise of the new brotherhoods of
artisans, they, too, perhaps, may have reformed themselves like the latter who
were nothing but the continuation of the 'collegium' of Roman times preserving
its existence through the barbarian ages, and transformed little by little
into the medieval corporation. The members may have found themselves
constrained to enter into a more perfect unity of thought and sentiment, to
bind themselves into a more compact body, and thus put themselves in a
condition to maintain their ancient supremacy in carrying out the most
important building works in Italy. But we cannot say anything more. And even
putting aside all tradition, the monuments themselves are there to confirm
what we have said."
Merzario, not quite as cautious as Rivoira, bears witness in the same manner:
this darkness which extended over all Italy, only one small lamp remained
alight, making a bright spark in the vast Italian necropolis. It was from the
Magistri Comacini. Their respective names are unknown, their individual works
breath of their spirit might be felt all through those centuries, and their
name collectively is legion. We may safely say that of all the works of art
between A.D. 800 and 1000, the greater and better part are due to that
brotherhood - always faithful and often secret - of the Magistri Comacini. The
authority and judgment of learned men justify the assertion."
Signor Agostino Segredio is similarly convinced, and so expresses himself in a
passage quoted on page 56 of Ravenscroft's The Comacines:
"While we are speaking of the Masonic Companies and their jealous secrecy we
must not forget the most grand and potent guild of the Middle Ages, that of
the Freemasons; originating most probably from the builders of Como (Magistri
Comacini). it spread beyond the Alps. Popes gave them their benediction,
monarchs protected them, and the most powerful thought it an honour to be
inscribed in their ranks. They with the utmost jealousy practised all the arts
connected with building, and by severe laws and penalties (perhaps also with
bloodshed) prohibited others from the practice of building important edifices.
Long and hard were the initiations to aspirants, and mysterious were the
meetings and the teaching, and to enable themselves they dated their origin
from Solomon's Temple."
so also Leader Scott, who Sums up the matter in a sentence:
"Thus, though there is no certain proof that the Comacines were the veritable
stock from which the pseudo-Freemasonry of the present day sprang, we may at
least admit that they were a link between the classis Collegia and all other
art and trade guilds of the Middle Ages."
Brother Joseph Fort Newton accepts this interpretation in The Builder's,
where, on page 86, he writes:
the breaking up of the College of Architects and their expulsion from Rome, we
come upon a period in which it is hard to follow their path. Happily the task
has been made less baffling by recent research, and if we are unable to trace
them all the way much light has been let into the darkness. Hitherto there
has been a hiatus also in the history of architecture between the classic art
of Rome, which is said to have died when the empire fell to pieces, and the
rise of Gothic art. Just so, in the story the builders one finds a gap of
like length, between the Collegia of Rome and the cathedral artists. While
the gap cannot, as yet be perfectly bridged, much has been done to that end by
Leader Scott in The Cathedral Builders; The Story of a Great Masonic Guild - a
book itself a work of art as well as of fine scholarship. Her thesis is that
the missing link is to be found in the Magistri Comacini, a guild of
architects who, on the break-up of the Roman Empire, fled to Comacina, a
fortified island in Lake Como, and there kept alive the traditions of classic
art during the Dark Ages; that from them were developed in direct descent the
various styles of Italian architecture; and that, finally, they carried the
knowledge and practice of architecture and sculpture into France, Spain,
Germany and England. Such a thesis is difficult, and from its nature not
susceptible of absolute proof, but the writer makes it as certain as anything
can well be."
the other side are authorities who deny the existence of any such fraternity
as the Comacines, or else give them a minor place in the history of medieval
architecture. R.F. Gould, in the original edition of his Conche History, page
105, speaks his mind clearly:
the present day the idea of there having been, in the early part of the
thirteenth century, Colleges of Masons in every country of Europe, which
received the blessing of the Holy See, under an injunction of dedicating their
skill to the erection of ecclesiastical buildings, may be dismissed
must not forget that, according to the well-known and highly imaginative
Historical Essay on Architecture (1835) of Mr. Hope - who greatly expands the
meaning of two passages in the works of Muratori - a body of traveling
architects, who wandered over Europe during the Middle Ages, received the
appellation of Magistri Comacini, or Masters of Como, a title which became
generic to all those of the profession. The idea has been revived by a recent
writer, who believes that these Magistri Comacini were a survival of the Roman
Collegia, that they settled in Como and were afterwards employed by the
Lombard kings, under whose patronage they developed a powerful and highly
organized guild, with a dominant influence on the whole architecture of the
Middle Ages (The Cathedral Builders). But, even if such a theory had any
probability, it would be far from clearing up certain obscurities in the
history of medieval architecture, as the author suggests would be the case.
Interchanges of influence were not uncommon, but the works of local schools
present far too marked an individuality to render it possible that they could
owe much (if anything) to the influence of any central guild."
page 175 of the same work Gould refers to George Edmund Street as saying that
such a theory as that of the Comacines "seems to me to be altogether
erroneous"; Wyatt Papworth as saying that "I believe they never existed"; and
on the preceding pages prints a long excerpt from Dr. Milman to the same
appears to me that this opposition is a reaction to an exaggeration of the
Comacine argument. Leader Scott does not claim for them that they themselves
laid out European civilization, or founded Gothic architecture (as Dr. Newton
appears to do, and which is most certainly an error), or that the founding of
all the medieval architectural styles was their work; she holds merely that in
and around Lake Como there long existed a guild of architects, and to this
guild traced many influences; their influence in various lands she suggests by
way of cautious tentative theories, and never wearies of warning her reader
that she is feeling her way through the dark; and she believes that the
history of this Comacine guild may be traced back to very ancient days, and
may be very probably linked on to the history of the Roman collegia.
THE COMACINES AND FREEMASONRY
Masons have long ceased to be moved by the vulgar desire to claim for our
Fraternity an impossible antiquity, as if it had been organized by Adam in the
Garden of Eden, or was, as one old worthy expressed it, diffused through space
before God created the world. Freemasonry is old enough as it is, and
honourable enough, not to require that we embellish it by a fabulous lineage.
We know that it came into existence gradually, like everything else in our
human world, here a little and there a little, and that it was no more
miraculous in the past than it is now. At the same time we are interested to
observe the rise and prosperity of organizations similar to it, or prophetic
of it, wherever or whenever they may have come into existence. The use of
cooperation and of fraternity, the employment of the device of secrecy and
loyalty to aims above the present moment, the contemplation of such endeavors
by our striving fellow men, toiling in the dim twilights of life, is always an
inspiration, and helps to set aglow the ideals of our own Masonry hidden away
in the recesses of our souls. It is from such a point of view, I believe,
that we should look upon the story of the Comacines; I have not been able to
persuade myself that they were in any accurate use of the word Freemasons, or
that our own Fraternity has had any but the most tenuous and general historic
connections with the lodges of those old masters. The story of our Craft is
intertwined with the history of architecture, so that any new light on the
latter helps us the better to understand the evolution of the former; in this
sense, and in the sense defined just above, the story of the Comacines is of
value to us, but not as comprising a chapter in the known veridical history of
Masonry. The Comacine guild was in many respects similar to the Masonic
guilds that came after, and which served as the roots from which Symbolical
Masonry ultimately developed, but to see in the Comacine guild the immediate
parent of the Masonic guild is not possible, it seems to me, unless we are to
trust too much to imagination or are willing to stretch the word "Freemasonry"
to mean more than it should. My own theory, which will be elaborated step by
step as these chapters proceed, is that Freemasonry strictly so-called
originated in England and in England only that it had its gradual rise among
the guilds that grew up with Gothic architecture; that a germ of moralism,
religion and ceremonialism in those guilds, chancing to find itself in a
favouring environment, out-grew the operative element until in the seventeenth
century lodges began to become wholly speculative; that in this time of
transition new elements were introduced from certain occult sources; and that
this evolution culminated at last in 1717 with the founding of the Mother
Grand Lodge at London, from which all modern Freemasonry has been subsequently
derived. I have not been able to satisfy myself, though I have had the will to
try, that our Masonry was given to us by the Comacine masters.
Leader Scott herself, whose knowledge of Freemasonry was even less than her
opinion of it, was very careful not to confuse the Freemasonry of today with
what she rather loosely (too loosely, one may think) calls the "Freemasonry"
of the Comacine guild. The passage in which she expresses herself is almost
always quoted only in part; I shall give it in full, not only as showing her
own theory of the historical connections between the two, but also as
revealing her unfortunate lack of knowledge of Masonry as it exists today.
The passage quoted begins on page 16 of her book:
"Since I began writing this chapter a curious chance has brought into my hands
an old Italian book on the institutions, rites and ceremonies of the Order of
Freemasons. Of course the anonymous writer begins with Adoniram, the
architect of Solomon's Temple, who had so very many workmen to pay that, not
being able to distinguish them by name, he divided them into three different
classes, novices, operatori and magistri, and to; each class gave a secret set
of signs and passwords, so that from these their fees could be easily fixed
and imposture avoided. It is interesting to know that precisely the same
divisions and classes existed in the Roman Collegium and the Comacine Guild -
and that, as in Solomon's time, the great symbols of the order were the
endless knot or Solomon's knot, and the 'Lion of Judah.'
author goes on to tell of the second revival of Freemasonry, in its present
entirely spiritual significance, and he gives Oliver Cromwell, of all people,
the credit of this revival! The rites and ceremonies he describes are the
greatest tissue of medieval superstition, child's play, blood-curdling oaths
and mysterious secrecy with nothing to conceal that can be imagined. All the
signs of Masonry without a figment of reality; every moral thing masquerades
under an architectural aspect, and that 'Temple made without hands' which is
figured by a Freemason's lodge in these days. But the significant point is
that all these names and Masonic emblems point to something real which existed
at some long-past time, and, as far as regards the organization and
nomenclature, we find the whole thing in its vital and actual working form in
the Comacine guild. Our nameless Italian who reveals all the Masonic secrets,
tells us that every lodge has three divisions, one for the novices, one for
the operatori or working brethren, and one for the masters. Now wherever we
find the Comacines at work we find the threefold organization of schola or
school for the novices, laborerium for the operatori, and the Opera or
Fabbrica for the Masters of Administration.
anonymous one tells us that there is a Gran Maestro or Arch-magister at the
head of the whole order, a Capo Maestro or chief master at the head of each
lodge. Every lodge must besides be provided with two or four Soprastanti, a
treasurer and a secretary-general, besides accountants. This is precisely
what we find in the organization of the Comacine lodges. As we follow them
through the centuries we shall see it appearing in city after city, at first
fully revealed by the books of the treasurers and Soprastanti themselves, in
Siena, Florence and Milan.
"Thus, though there is no certain proof that the Comacines were the veritable
stock from which the pseudo-Masonry of the present day sprang, we may at least
admit that they were a link between the classic Collegia and all other art and
trade Guilds of the Middle Ages."
analogies between the two briefly referred to in this quoted passage, might be
expanded. The Comacines had lodges, Grand Masters, secrets (they kept a
secret book called L'Arcano Magistero), wore aprons, kept a chest, dispensed
charity, possessed means of identification, and employed much symbolism of
which some items are familiar to us, as King Solomon's knot the Lion of Judah,
the two Great Pillars "J" and "B"; square, compasses, mosaic pavement, etc.
Also there was a certain gradation among them, similar to our degrees, though
I have failed to discover any evidence of an initiation.
Brother Ravenscroft, with whom one is loathe ever to disagree and who
continues his researches in this field, may be right in thinking that some
ancient Masonic traditions, particularly such as had to do with Solomon's
Temple, were preserved and transmitted to us out of antiquity by the Comacines.
It is a fascinating theory to which future discoveries may bring more
convincing proof; it would seem to me, if I may again express a private
opinion, that two facts tell heavily against such a theory; one is that these
traditions, most of them at least, have always been preserved in the
Scriptures and therefore available at any time; and, what is more important,
there was no known connection between the Comacine guild, which did its own
work in Italy where Gothic never became established, and the guilds among
which Gothic grew up.
whole Comacine question, so far as speculative Freemasonry is concerned, it
thus appears, remains in the air, or, if one prefers the figure, on the knees
of the gods. This means that there is much work remaining to be done by
students of today, who will find themselves, if they will turn their attention
to medieval architecture and its history, in an enchanted realm.
Cathedral Builders, Leader Scott (Mrs. Lucy Baxter). The Comacines, W.
Ravenscroft. A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Vol. I, A. E. Waite. A
Concise History of Freemasonry, R.F.Gould. A Critical Inquiry Into the
Condition of the Conventual Builders and Their Relation to Secular Guilds,
George F. Fort. From Schola to Cathedral, G. Baldwin Brown. Lombardic
Architecture: Its Origin, Development and Derivatives, G.T. Rivoira. History
of Italian Architecture, Ricci. I Maestri Comacine, Prof. Merzario. Handbook
of Architecture, James Fergusson. Historical Essay on Architecture, Thomas
Hope. Sacred and Legendary Art, Mrs. Jameson. Renaissance of Art: Fine Arts,
John Addington Symonds, A History of Latin Christianity, Milman, A.Q.C. V. p.
229, A.Q.C. XII, p. 124, Mackey's Revised History of Freemasonry, Clegg, ch.
60. Guilds of Florence, Staley. Memorials of German Gothic Architecture,
Moller. Medieval Architecture, Porter. Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and
Modern, J.L. Mosheim. Dictionary of Architecture, C.L. Stieglitz.
Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Mackey, Vol. I, p.161. A History of Architecture
in Italy, C. A. Cummings.
CRAFT AND ITS AUXILIARIES
Unless all signs fail and our shrewdest prophets are astray in their
vaticinations, the auxiliary bodies that prerequire of their membership some
connection with Freemasonry are in for a day of reckoning, and that before
long. The subject is coming up in one Grand Lodge after another, and in many
cases action of some sort has already been taken, while in other quarters
official warnings have been published. To judge by an increasing number of
items in the Masonic press the rank and file of brethren stand pretty solidly
behind their rulers though almost all of them belong to some one or more of
the organizations whose policies are being brought into question. The burden
of complaint appears to be that some of these social and semiMasonic societies
are tending away from Masonic principles and in a few cases almost openly
flout Masonic landmarks.
not the purpose here to examine the pros and cons of these allegations, or to
examine into any particular case, nor should it be inferred that there is any
inclination to question the right of these bodies to exist. There is as yet
plenty of time in which these cousins in the Masonic family, if they heed the
warnings, and respond to the admonitions of their friends, may make the
required readjustments or reforms, Meanwhile we can all get more clearly in
mind a few governing principles which, in their scope and permanence, are
axiomatic and underlie all action and discussion. Consider a few of them.
Grand Lodge of Symbolical, or Blue, Masonry, is the cornerstone of the whole
edifice, and is clearly recognized as such in the constitution of all regular
bodies. (We are speaking here of the Masonic system in the United States.) The
Grand Lodge is the mother power holding in final custody all Masonic
authority; it defines landmarks and lays down the conditions of membership in
any recognized Masonic organization. If Grand Lodge declares a man expelled,
clandestine, or irregular, he can have no standing in any other Masonic
communion, be it Royal Arch, Council, Knight Templar or Scottish Rite. This is
the point of departure in all Masonic jurisprudence, and from it follows the
fact that any Grand Lodge has an unchallenged right to say whether a Mason may
or may not belong to any given auxiliary body, for such relations can be made
a part of membership conditions in a Blue Lodge. It is undoubtedly true that a
Grand Lodge may err in forbidding its members to have such connection in some
particular case, for Grand Lodges are human and not infallible, but its right
to adopt such regulations lies beyond all cavil.
Grand Lodge has the right to entrust the good name of Freemasonry into the
keeping of any body of men, however remote it may lie from the lodge, that
Grand Lodge, by the same token, has right to withdraw such privileges. If the
Sublime Order of Ancient Architects, let us say, an order of men and women
imagined to exist for social purposes, and prerequiring that the men be Masons
and the women blood relatives of Masons, is permitted to meet in Masonic
buildings, and the general public looks upon it as belonging to the Masonic
family, it is the Grand Lodge which permits these privileges and it is the
Grand Lodge that can withdraw them. And if in the eyes of that Grand Lodge
membership in the Sublime Order of Ancient Architects becomes un-Masonic,
every regular Mason can be forbidden to join or to belong, and that without
the undue exercise of authority on the part of Grand Lodge, which has in its
keeping the name and reputation of Masonry.
auxiliary body exists by grace of Grand Lodge, and by that grace alone, though
Grand Lodge may not have any right at all to a voice in the official councils
of such a body; therefore that body, its members and officers, will be well
advised to pay deferential heed to Grand Lodge. Since its very existence is by
sufferance, every auxiliary body should consider it a point of honor not to
hang back with a forced and grudging obedience, but should anticipate Grand
Lodge's pleasure and show itself more than willing to conform. In the nature
of the case such behavior alone is right and seemly, so that an auxiliary
which protests and opposes is already suspect and deserving of discipline.
of the complaints made against auxiliary bodies fall under one or the other of
two heads: that the auxiliary permits its members conduct unbecoming a Mason,
or that it interferes with the regular and necessary work of the lodges. There
is no room for argument about the first count. Any Blue Lodge can discipline a
member for un-Masonic conduct, wherever it occurs, inside another organization
or outside. Neither can there be any argument on the second count. A
Worshipful Master who permits the regular functions of a lodge to be
interfered with by some semi-Masonic organization is culpable, remiss in his
duties and accountable to the law of the Craft.
Wherever an individual Mason finds himself a member in a body condemned by
Grand Lodge, or even held suspect, he must not waver a minute as between his
two loyalties. His first and always binding obligation is to his lodge; his
duties in all organizations subordinate to the lodge are secondary.
brethren who have in hand the management of auxiliary bodies will be well
advised if they do not wait until a storm is on them before reefing their
sails. The name and reputation of Masonry is too precious a thing, and carries
within itself too much power for weal or woe in this Republic to be juggled
about by men who first care is merely to have a good time at any cost, and
whose last thought is for the good of the Craft. Such men are as dangerous to
the welfare of the auxiliary body as they are inimical to the lodge, and the
sooner they are bridled the better for them and all concerned.
* * *
began the great journey of his The Divine Comedy at the mid-point of his life.
It is good to recall the opening sentence of "his mystic unfathomable song":
the midway at this our mortal life,
found me in a gloomy wood, astray
from the path direct; and e'en to tell,
were no easy task, how savage wild
forest, how robust and rough its growth,
to remember only, my dismay
Renews, in bitterness not far from death."
was while thus pushing his way through this wilderness that he was confronted
by the panther, which was sensualism, the lion, hunger-mad, which was ambition
and pride, and the lean she-wolf of avarice.
the midway point in life that is the hardest. The rosy-fingered dawn has
vanished, the starlit evening lies far ahead, one walks under the prosy gray
sky of day. The generous forces and sanguine expectations of youth are cooled,
and many of its finest ideals have gone, lost in the ruck in the workaday
world, so that the objects along one's path seem harsh and hard, as if life
itself were made of iron. It is then that a man sweats under his burdens and
asks himself bitter questions. It is the period when family cares and family
demands are at their maximum, when there is the greatest danger of business or
professional failure. "Last year I lost my mother," wrote a friend a few weeks
back, "and then in January my older son followed her. Now my wife is afflicted
so that I have grave fears for her. As if all this were not enough I am nearly
worried gray trying to pull my business out of the hole it fell into as a
result of the war." It is midway at this our mortal life that one enters the
Inferno: Paradiso lies far beyond, if at all.
because one's nature is then under its maximum strain that character sometimes
suffers. In one of his letters Huxley refers to "senile morality," as if he
found his own principles in danger from wear and tear. Under Seneca's tutelage
Nero was not a bad youth; it was in after years that he fell a prey to the
lion, the panther and the she-wolf. The young Alexander was the pride of the
land; it was in the middle years that he murdered Parmenio and Clitus. "Both
by what they gain and by what they lose, men in later life find themselves far
more dangerously placed than in earlier years. They are, for one thing, freer
from restraint. They are no longer subordinates, but lords of themselves.
Their old guides and teachers have disappeared. In many instances, and
notoriously today, beliefs which once exercised a restraining influence have
lost their power. Idols have been shattered. Ideals which shone once as with
light from heaven are gone. The 'vision splendid' has faded 'into the light of
common day.’ They have been behind the scenes to discover that effects which
imposed on their youth as something angelic and celestial are an affair of
stage carpentry and the big brush. Age is thus with multitudes the time of
disillusionment, in itself the most perilous of mental states."
midway is the Fellowcraft period of life, when the soul passes through the
ordeal of its Second Degree. In an old tradition of Solomon's building of the
Temple it says, "he set three-score and ten thousand of them to be bearers of
burden, and four-score thousand to be hewers in the mountains, and three
thousand and six hundred overseers to set the people at work." When one finds
himself among eighty thousand Fellowcrafts, a bearer of burdens or a hewer in
the mountains, it is little wonder if he despairs of his old hopes, his old
Nevertheless, it is then if ever that a man becomes a man, worthy in the eyes
of God to be entrusted with responsibilities, for, as the beautiful lesson of
our Fellowcraft Degree has it, there is a Middle Chamber to be entered after
one has climbed the wearisome winding stairs. The wages are not what one
expected in youth, but they are better, if one has been a faithful workman;
courage, endurance, fidelity, patience, these are the rewards in which, after
they are once gained, a man finds more happiness than in wreaths or garlands.
It is when the dust is in one's nostrils, when the flinty rock cuts through
one's shoes and the sun is hot on the sweating back, that life is most worthy
living. It is then "that the high gods come to the making of man."
Study in Clandestine Masonry
Accurate History of the Thomson Masonic Fraud
THOMSON MASONIC FRAUD, A STUDY IN CLANDESTINE MASONRY, by Isaac Blair Evans.
Cloth, 268 pp. Privately printed in Salt Lake City, Utah. May be purchased
from Sam H. Goodwin, Grand Secretary, Salt Lake City, Utah, or through
National Masonic Research Society. Price, $2.50.
book reflects great credit upon its author not only by furnishing a complete
and authentic account of the famous Thomson Masonic fraud, but by being, what
so many Masonic books are not, well printed and bound, carefully organized,
and written with scholarly restraint and accuracy. When the Masonic student
ten years hence makes up his five-foot shelf of Masonic writings he will find
this volume standard, which is another way of saying that it is a contribution
to the permanent literature of the Craft, and is not a merely ephemeral essay
or flyer into the thin air of private theory. Its substance is solid and
composed of such information as will be of value to active Masons for decades
to come, whether they be students or have their time engaged in carrying on
the work of the lodge, and especially if they have any part in Masonic
Brother Evans worked from first-hand experience. "The reader is entitled to
know," he wrote in his preface, "my own connection with Thomson's case. It
chanced that I was United States Attorney for Utah in 1921, and I not only
prepared the case (with the assistance of Mr. Price) for presentation to the
grand jury, but also drew the indictment upon which Thomson, Perrot and
Bergera were convicted." (Brother Monte G. Price, here referred to, was Post
Office Inspector. It was he who took the first step toward bringing Thomson to
trial. His services were inestimable.) Another page of the preface is an
explanation of the method used in preparing the book. "To prepare this book I
have carefully read the transcript of testimony in Thomson's case, and have
studied all the exhibits introduced in evidence, as well as a mass of
important correspondence, magazines, pamphlets and diplomas not produced at
the trial, and much material is hereinafter presented of which the court and
jury had no knowledge. Great pains have been taken to set down only those
facts which are supported by competent proof, and it is believed that the
number of errors has been reduced to a minimum. No attempt has been made to
edit the many extracts taken from Thomson's letters, magazines and books, and
from the transcript of testimony, but they are printed without emendation so
that all readers may draw their own conclusions."
Equally specific is his statement as to his purpose. "The purpose of this
monograph is made sufficiently clear by the title page and first chapter. It
is hoped that besides telling the story of an unusual mail fraud, it will, by
contrast, make more distinct for the general reader, some of the common
aspects of regular Masonry."
account of the Thomson fraud and case was written for THE BUILDER by Bro. C.C.
Hunt, Deputy Grand Secretary of Iowa, in three installments beginning with
October, 1922, page 299, which was so complete that there is no need here to
summarize the story embodied in Brother Evans' book, except to say that
Thomson and his fellow conspirators set themselves up as supreme "Masonic"
authorities claiming for their American Masonic Federation, with headquarters
in Salt Lake City, Utah, that it alone, in all the land, was the one real
Masonic organization. On the strength of these claims so unblushingly made the
Thomson gang sold broadcast all manner of "degrees," high and low, to such men
as would buy, for any price that could be got. They had their largest success
in the South, the West and the Northwest, but their market was limited only by
the gullibility of the public and men were victimized on a national scale.
Thomson claimed authority for himself in all the branches of Masonry,
including the Shrine, Eastern Star and other auxiliaries, and was therefore
able to supply any kind of "degrees" that might be called for, be the
purchasers black or white. He once had the effrontery to pose as a spokesman
for so-called Co-Masonry, and offered to THE BUILDER a preachment on that
subject. The limitlessness of his audacity indicated that he had no fear of
being called to time.
he reckoned without his host. "In the meantime, quite unknown to Thomson, a
Grand Jury had met at Salt Lake City and had returned an indictment against
him, Bergera, Perrot and Jamieson for conspiring to violate the United States
mail fraud statute. Shortly before Thanksgiving Day, 1921, Thomson and Perrot
were arrested at Salt Lake City upon warrants held by the United States
Marshal.'.' (Page 149.) At the culmination of the trial, after every
imaginable evidence had been taken on both sides, Judge Martin J. Wade gave
sentence, after the jury found a verdict of guilty, as follows:
"Stand up, gentlemen.
judgment of this Court is that each one of you serve a period of two years in
Fort Leavenworth prison and each one of you pay a fine of five thousand
dollars and costs."
the eyes of the Federal Government the one point at issue in this trial was
Thomson's fraudulent use of the mails, but to the Masonic fraternity the case
had a far broader significance. What constitutes a lodge regular ? How are we
to trace Masonic lineage ? When and where did Speculative Masonry originate?
How is clandestinism to be defined ? Where do Grand Lodges and other Grand
bodies get their authority? What is the relationship between Symbolical lodges
and Scottish Rite lodges ? What standing has so-called Negro Masonry ? How can
clandestinism be extinguished? In preparing his case, Bro. Evans, who expected
the questions of legality to be raised, thoroughly canvassed all these
problems so that he has been able to build into his book a mass of materials
valuable to a reader whose interest in the Thomson trial itself may be slight.
It is this that lifts the volume above histories of merely local or
unimportant episodes. H.L. Haywood
HAVELOCK ELLIS' PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE
DANCE OF LIFE, by Havelock Ellis. Published by Houghton Miflin Company,
Boston, Mass. Price, $4.00.
whose familiarity with Havelock Ellis stops short with his great scientific
treatise on sex do not know the man at his best; do not know him at all, in
fact, because his Psychology of Sex is as impersonal as a machine; they should
go on to read The Soul of Spain, The World of Dreams, The New Spirit (Ah! that
rare book!), Affirmations, Impressions and Comments, Essays in War-Time,
Philosophy of Conflict, Love and Virtue (I quote these titles from memory),
The Task of Social Hygiene, and the volumes on woman. Above all they should
read the newest of them all, The Dance of Life, in which the master distils a
life-time of thought into four hundred pages of golden wisdom, quiet and
serene. It is a book of utter detachment, breathed out of a great peace of
mind, in which one of the most civilized men of our time speaks from a height
above the times and free from controversy and all party spirit. "I have never
written," he says, "but with the thought that the reader, even though he may
not know it, is already on my side."
idea which lies at the core of the book, and binds all its meditations into a
unity, is that human life is necessarily an art. Human experience can
successfully organize itself in a thousand ways. There is no fixed and rigid
system to which the universe compels us to conform, but always a free play of
forces amid a constantly changing set of circumstances which demands of us
constant readjustment, renewed endeavors and an effort to gain results and
ideals that are always growing and reshaping themselves. This devotion of the
personality to purposes of its own through a free and creative use of its
powers in connection with a world that is also alive, this is art, and life
consequently is an art, for this is what life is.
"Dancing and building are the two primary and essential arts. The art of
dancing stands at the source of all the arts that express themselves first in
the human person. The art of building, or architecture, is the beginning of
all the arts that lie outside the person. . . . The significance of dancing in
the wide sense lies in the fact that it is simply an intimate concrete appeal
of a general rhythm, that general rhythm which marks, not life only, but the
universe, if one may be still allowed so to name the sum of the cosmic
influences that reach us." All our efforts are of this nature, therefore the
author develops his philosophy of life in the terms of the dance, and divides
his book into chapters on The Art of Dancing, The Art of Thinking, The Art of
Writing, The Art of Religion, and The Art of Morals.
present writer does not know if Mr. Ellis is a Mason or not; if not, it is to
be regretted. He would find in our mysteries an application of his own idea
already to hand. We interpret life in the terms of ritual, which is the dance
in one of the most formal and sublime forms, and in the terms of building,
which is art devoted to the world outside us. Also he would find us dedicated
to the same ideal of all-inclusive tolerance which bestows on his volume its
rare charm and its beauty.
is what he has to say about the "Ancient Mysteries", with which so many of our
Masonic writers have been a long time preoccupied:
is by looking back into the past that we see the facts in an essential
simplicity less easy to reach in more sophisticated ages. We need not again go
so far back as the medicine-men of Africa and Siberia. Mysticism in pagan
antiquity, however less intimate to us and less seductive than that of later
times, is perhaps better fitted to reveal to us its true nature. The Greeks
believed in the spiritual value of 'conversion' as devoutly as our Christian
sects, and they went beyond most such sects in their elaborately systematic
methods for obtaining it, no doubt for the most part as superficially as has
been common among Christians. It is supposed that almost the whole population
of Athens must have experienced the Eleusinian initiation. These methods, as
we know, were embodied in the Mysteries associated with Dionysus and Demeter
and Orpheus and the rest, the most famous and typical being those of Attic
Eleusis. We too often see those ancient Greek Mysteries through a concealing
mist, partly because it was rightly felt that matters of spiritual experience
were not things to talk about, so that precise information is lacking, partly
because the early Christians, having their own very similar Mysteries to
uphold, were careful to speak evil of Pagan Mysteries, and partly because the
Pagan Mysteries no doubt really tended to degenerate with the general decay of
classic culture. But in their large simple essential outlines they seem to be
fairly clear. For just as there was nothing 'orgiastic' in our sense in the
Greek 'orgies,' which were simply ritual acts, so there was nothing, in our
sense, 'mysterious' in the Mysteries. We are not to suppose, as is sometimes
supposed, that their essence was a secret doctrine, or even that the
exhibition of a secret rite was the sole object, although it came in as part
of the method. A mystery meant a spiritual process of initiation, which was,
indeed, necessarily a secret to those who had not yet experienced it, but had
nothing in itself 'mysterious' beyond what inheres today to the process in any
Christian 'revival', which is the nearest analogue to the Greek Mystery. It is
only 'mysterious' in the sense that it cannot be expressed, any more than the
sexual embrace can be expressed, in words, but can only be known by
experience. A preliminary process of purification, the influence of
suggestion, a certain religious faith, a solemn and dramatic ritual carried
out under the most impressive circumstances have a real analogy to the
Catholic's mass, which also is a function at once dramatic and sacred, which
culminates in a spiritual communion with the Divine all this may contribute to
the end which was, as it always must be in religion, simply a change of inner
attitude, a sudden exalting realization of a new relationship to eternal
things. The philosophers understood this; Aristotle was careful to point out,
in an extant fragment, that what was gained in the Mysteries was not
instruction but impressions and emotions, and Plato had not hesitated to
regard the illumination which came to the initiate in philosophy as of the
nature of. that acquired in the Mysteries. So it was natural that when
Christianity took the place of Paganism the same process went on with only a
change in external circumstances. Baptism in the early church - before it sank
to the mere magical sort of rite it later became - was of the nature of
initiation into a Mystery, preceded by careful preparation, and the baptized
initiate was sometimes crowned with a garland as the initiated were at
we go out of Athens along the beautiful road that leads to the wretched
village of Eleusis and linger among the vast and complicated ruins of the
chief shrine of mysticism in our western world, rich in associations that seem
to stretch back to the Neolithic Age and suggest the time of the mystery of
the upspringing of the corn, it may be that our thoughts by no unnatural
transition pass from the myth of Demeter and Kore to the remembrance of what
we may have heard or know of the manifestations of the spirit among barbarian
northerners of other faiths or of no faith in far Britain and America, and
even of their meetings of so-called 'revival.' For it is always the same thing
that man is doing, however various and fantastic the disguises he adopts. And
sometimes the revelation of the new life, springing up from within, comes amid
the crowd in the feverish atmosphere of artificial shrines, maybe soon to
shrivel up, and sometimes the blossoming forth takes place, perhaps more
favorably, in the open air and under the light of the sun and amid the
flowers, as it were to a happy faun among the hills. But when all disguises
have been stripped away, it is always and everywhere the same simple process,
a spiritual function which is almost a physiological function, an art which
Nature makes. That is all."
may next turn to his pages about our "Ancient Brother Pythagoras."
remark, with its reference to the laws and rhythm in the universe, calls to
mind the great initiator, so far as our knowledge extends back, of scientific
research in our European world. Pythagoras is a dim figure, and there is no
need here to insist unduly on his significance. But there is not the slightest
doubt about the nature of that significance in its bearing on the point before
us. Dim and legendary as he now appears to us, Pythagoras was no doubt a real
person, born in the sixth century before Christ, at Samos, and by his
association with that great shipping center doubtless enabled to voyage afar
and glean the wisdom of the ancient world. In antiquity he was regarded,
Cicero remarks, as the inventor of philosophy, and still today he is estimated
to be one of the most original figures, not only of Greece, but of the world.
He is a figure full of interest from many points of view, however veiled in
mist, but he only concerns us here because he represents the beginning of what
we call 'science' - that is to say, measurable knowledge at its growing point
- and because he definitely represents it as arising out of what we all
conventionally recognize as 'art', and as, indeed, associated with the spirit
of art, even its most fantastic forms, all the way. Pythagoras was a
passionate lover of music, and it was thus that he came to make the enormously
fruitful discovery that pitch of sound depends upon the length of the
vibrating chord. Therein it became clear that law and spatial quantity ruled
even in fields which had seemed most independent of quantitative order. The
beginning of the great science of mechanics was firmly set up. The discovery
was no accident. Even his rather hostile contemporary Heraclitus said of
Pythagoras that he had 'practiced research and inquiry beyond all other men.'
He was certainly a brilliant mathematician; he was, also, not only an
astronomer, but the first, so far as we know, to recognize that the earth is a
sphere - so setting up the ladder which was to reach at last to the Copernican
conception - while his followers took the further step of affirming that the
earth was not the center of our cosmic system, but concentrically related. So
that Pythagoras may not only be called the Father of Philosophy, but, with
better right the Father of Science in the modern exact sense. Yet he remained
fundamentally an artist even in the conventional sense. His free play of
imagination and emotion, his delight in the ravishing charm of beauty and
harmony, however it may sometimes have led him astray - and introduced the
reverence for number which so long entwined fancy too closely with science
yet, as Gomperz puts it, gave soaring wings to the power of his severe
Tragic End of the Knights Templar
CHARLOTTE M. YONGE
narratives of the dark end of the Order of the Templars can equal this in
intensity, in vividness, in thrilling interest. It was penned by a brilliant
woman of the last century and published long ago in a little volume called
Cameos of English History.
CRUSADES were over. The dream of Edward I had been but a dream, and
self-interest and ambition directed the swords of Christian princes against
each other rather than against the common foe. The Western Church was lapsing
into a state of decay and corruption, from which she was only partially to
recover at the cost of disruption and disunion, and the power which the mighty
popes of the twelfth century had gathered into a head became, for that very
cause, the tool of an unscrupulous monarch.
colony of Latins left in Palestine had proved a most unsuccessful experiment;
the climate enervated their constitutions; the "poulains", as those were
called who were born in the East, had all the bad qualities of degenerate
races and were the scorn and derision of Arabs and Europeans alike; nor could
the defence have been kept up at all had it not been for the constant recruits
from cooler climates. Adventurous young men tried their swords in the East,
banished men sought to recover their fame, the excommunicate strove to win
pardon by his sword, or the forgiven to expiate his past crime; and, besides
these irregular aids, the two military and monastic orders of Templars and
Hospitallers were constantly fed by supplies of young nobles trained to arms
and discipline in the numerous commanderies and preceptories scattered
throughout the West.
Admirable as warriors, desperate in battle, offering no ransom but their
scarf, these knightly monks were the bulwark of Christendom, and would have
been doubly effective save for the bitter jealousies of the two orders against
each other, and of both against all other Crusaders. Not a disaster happened
in the Holy Land but the treachery of one order or the other was said to have
occasioned it; and, on the whole, the later degree of obloquy seems usually,
whether justly not, to have lighted on the Knights of the Temple. They were
the richer and the prouder of the two orders, and as the duties of the
hospital were not included in their vows, they neither had the same claims to
gratitude nor the softening influence of the exercise of charity, and were
simply stern, hated, dreaded soldiers.
REMNANT IN EAST LOST
a desperate siege, Acre fell, in 1292, and the last remnant of the Latin
possessions in the East were lost. The Templars and Hospitallers fought with
the utmost valour, forgot their feuds in the common danger and made such a
defence that the Mussulmans fancied that when one Christian died, another came
out of his mouth and renewed the conflict; but at last they were overpowered
by force of numbers and were finally buried under the ruins of the Castle of
the Templars. The remains of the two orders met in the Island of Cyprus,
which belonged to Henry de Lusignan, claimant of the crown of Jerusalem.
There they mustered their forces in the hope of a fresh Crusade; but as time
dragged on, and their welcome wore out, they found themselves obliged to seek
new quarters. The Knights of the Hospital, true to their vows, won sword in
hand the Isle of Rhodes from the infidel, and prolonged their existence for
five centuries longer as a great maritime power, the guardians of the
Mediterranean and the terror of the African corsairs. The Knights Templar, in
an evil hour for themselves, resolved to spend their time of expectation in
their numerous rich commanderies in Europe, where they had no employment but
to collect their revenues and keep their swords bright; and it cannot but be
supposed that they would thus be tempted into vicious and overbearing habits,
while the sight of so formidable a band of warriors, owning no obedience but
to their Grand Master and the Pope, must have been alarming to the sovereign
of the country. Still there are no tokens of their having disturbed the peace
during the twenty-two years that their exile lasted, and it was the violence
of a king and the truckling of a pope that effected their ruin.
Phillippe IV, the pest of France, had used his power over the French clergy to
misuse and persecute the fierce old pontiff, Boniface VIII, and it was no
fault of Phillippe that the murder of Becket was not parodied at Anagni.
Fortunately for the malevolent designs of the king, his messengers quailed and
contented themselves with terrifying the old man into a frenzied suicide
instead of themselves slaying him. The next pope lived so few days after his
election that it was believed that poison had removed him, and the cardinals
remained shut up for nine months at Perugia trying in vain to come to a fresh
choice. Finally, Phillippe fixed their choice on a wretched Gascon, who took
the name of Clement V, first, however, making him swear to fulfil six
conditions, the last and most dreadful of which was to remain a secret until
the time when the fulfilment should be required of him.
his unfortunate tool should escape from his grasp, or gain the protection of
any other sovereign, Phillippe transplanted the whole papal court to Avignon,
which, though it used to belong to the Roman empire, had in the break-up after
the fall of the Swabian house become in effect part of the French dominions.
the miserable Clement learned the sixth condition, and not daring to oppose it
gave the whole Order of the Templars up into his cruel hands, promising to
authorize his measures and pronounce their abolition. Phillippe's first
measure was to get them all into his hands, and for this purpose he proclaimed
a Crusade and actually himself took the Cross, with his son-in-law Edward II,
at the wedding of Isabel.
Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master, hastened from Cyprus and convoked all his
chief knights to take counsel with the French king on this laudable
undertaking. He was treated with great distinction and even stood godfather
to a son of the king. The greater number of the Templars were at their own
Tower of the Temple at Paris, with others dispersed in numbers through the
rest of France, living at ease and securely, respected and feared, if not
beloved, and busily preparing for an onslaught upon the common foe.
Meanwhile, two of their number, vile men thrown into prison for former crimes
- one French, the other Italian - had been suborned by Phillippe's emissaries
to make deadly accusations against their brethren, such as might horrify the
imagination of an age unused to consider evidence. These tales, whispered
into the ear of Edward II by his wily father-in-law, together with promise of
wealth and lands to be wrested from them, gained from him a promise that he
would not withstand the measures of the French king and pope and, though he
was too much shocked by the result not to remonstrate, his feebleness and
inconsistency unfitted him either to be a foe or a champion.
FURIES ARE LET LOOSE
the 14th of September, 1307, Phillippe sent out secret orders to his
seneschals. On the 13th of October, at dawn of day, each house of the
Templars was surrounded with armed men and ere the knights could rise from
their beds they were singly mastered and thrown into prison.
days after, on Sunday after mass, the arrest was made known and the crimes of
which the unfortunate men were accused. They were to be tried before the
Grand Inquisitor, Guillaume Humbert, a Dominican friar; but in the meantime,
to obtain witness against them, they were starved, threatened and tortured in
their dungeons, to gain from them some confession that could be turned against
them. Out of six hundred knights, besides a much greater number of mere
attendants, there could not fail to be some few whose minds could not
withstand the misery of their condition, and between these and the two
original calumnies a mass of horrible stories was worked up in evidence.
was said that, while outwardly wearing the white cross on their robe, bearing
the vows of chivalry, exercising the holy offices of priests and bound by the
monastic rules, there was in reality an inner society, bound to be the enemies
of all that was holy, into which they were admitted upon their reviling and
denying their faith and committing outrages on the cross and the images of the
saints. It was further said that they worshipped the devil in the shape of a
black cat and wore his image on a cord round their waists; that they anointed
a great silver head with the fat of murdered children; that they practised
every kind of sorcery, performed mass improperly, never went to confession and
had betrayed Palestine to the infidels.
the last count of the indictment the blood that had watered Canaan for two
hundred years was answer enough. As to the confessional, the accusation
emanated from the Dominicans, who were jealous of the Templars confessing to
priests of their own order. With respect to the mass it appears that the
habits of the Templars were similar to those of the Cistercain monks, who,
till the Lateran Council, had not elevated the Host to receive adoration from
accusation of magic naturally adhered to able men conversant with the East.
The head was found in the Temple at Paris. It was made of silver, resembled a
beautiful woman and was, in fact, a reliquary containing the bones of one of
the 11,000 virgins of Cologne. But truth was not wanted, and under the
influence of solitary, imprisonment, hunger, damp and loathsome dungeons, and
two years of terror and misery, enough of confessions had been extorted for
Phillippe's purpose by the year 1309.
had died under their sufferings and some had at first confessed in their
agonies and, when no longer tortured, had retracted all their declarations
with horror. These became dangerous and were therefore declared to be
relapsed heretics, and fifty-six were burnt by slow degrees in a great
enclosure surrounded by stakes, all crying out and praying devoutly and like
good Christians till the last.
Having thus horribly intimidated recusant witnesses, the king caused the pope
to convoke a synod at Paris, before which the Grand Master, Jacques de Molay,
was cited. He was a brave old soldier, but no scholar, and darkness, hunger,
torture and distress had so affected him that when brought into the light of
day he stood before the prelates and barons, among whom he had once been
foremost, so utterly bewildered and confused that the judges were forced to
remand him for two days to recover his faculties.
brought before them again he was formally asked whether he would defend his
order or plead for himself. He made answer that he should be contemptible in
his own eyes and those of all the world did he not defend an order which had
done so much for him, but that he was in such poverty that he had not
four-pence left in the world, and that he must beg for an advocate, to whom he
would mention the great kings, princes, barons, bishops and knights whose
witness would at once clear his knights from the monstrous charges brought
Thereupon he was told that advocates were allowed to men accused of heresy,
and that he had better take care how he contradicted his own deposition he
would be condemned as relapsed. His own deposition, as three cardinals
avouched that he had made it before them, was then translated to him from the
Latin, which he did not understand.
horror-struck amazement at hearing such word ascribed to himself, the old
knight twice made the sign of the cross and exclaimed, "If the cardinals were
other sort of men he should know how to deal with them!"
was told that the cardinals were not there to receive a challenge to battle.
"No," he said, "that not what he meant; he only wished that might befall them
which was done by the Saracens and Tartars to infamous liars - whose heads
they cut off."
ORDER IS ABOLISHED
was sent back to prison and brought back again, less vehement against his
accusers, but still declaring himself a faithful Christian and begging to be
admitted to the rites of religion; but he was left to languish in his dungeon
for two years longer, while two hundred and thirty-one witnesses were examined
before the commissaries. In May, 1311, five hundred and forty-four persons
belonging to the order were led before the judges from the different prisons,
while eight of the most distinguished knights, and their agent at Rome,
undertook their defence. Their strongest plea was, that not a Templar had
criminated himself, except in France, where alone torture had been employed;
but they could obtain no hearing and a report was drawn up by the commissaries
to the so-called Council of Vienne. This was held by Clement V in the early
part of 1312, and on the 6th of March it passed a decree abolishing the Order
of the Temple and transmitting its possessions to the Knights of St. John.
were other councils held to try the Templars in the other lands where they had
also been seized. In England the confessions of the knights tortured in France
were employed as evidence, together with the witness of begging friars,
minstrels, women and discreditable persons; and on the decision of the Council
of Vienne the poor knights confessed, as well they might, that their order had
fallen under evil report, and were therefore pardoned and released, with the
forfeiture of all their property to the hospital. Their principal house in
England was the Temple in Fleet sheet where they had built a curious round
church in the twelfth century, when it was consecrated by the Patriarch
Heraclius of Jerusalem. The shape was supposed to be like the Holy Sepulchre,
to whose service they were devoted; but want of space obliged them to add a
square building of three aisles beyond. This, with the rest of their
property, devolved on the Order of St. John, who, in the next reign, let the
Temple buildings for 10 pounds per annum to the law students of London, and in
their possession it has ever since continued. The ancient seal of the
knights, representing two men mounted upon one horse, was assumed by the
benchers of one side of the Temple, though in the classical taste of later
times the riders were turned into wings and the steed into Pegasus, while
their brethren bear the lamb and banner, like-wise a remembrance of the
Crusaders who founded the found church, eight of whom still lie in effigy upon
Spain the bishops would hardly proceed at all against the Templars, and
secured pensions for them out of the confiscated property. In Portugal they
were converted into a new order for the defence of the realm. In Germany they
were allowed to die out unmolested, at in Italy Phillippe's influence was more
felt, and they were taken in the same net with those in France. There the
king's coffers were replenished with their spoil, very little of which ever
found its way to the Knights of St. John. The knights who half confessed and
then recanted were put to death; those who never confessed at all were left in
prison; those who admitted the guilt of the order were rewarded by a miserable
existence at large. The great dignitaries - Jacques de Molay, the Grand
Master, and Guy, the son of the Dauphin of Auvergne, the Commander of
Normandy, and two others - languished in captivity till the early part of
1314, when they were led out before Notre Dame to hear their sentence read,
condemning them to perpetual imprisonment, rehearsing their own confession
once more against them.
Grand Master and Guy of Auvergne, both old men, wasted with imprisonment and
torture, no sooner saw the face of day, the grand old cathedral and the
assembly of the people, than they loudly protested that these false and
shameful confessions were none of theirs; that their dead brethren were noble
knights and true Christians, and that these foul slanders had never been
uttered by them but invented by wicked men, who asked them questions in a
language they did not understand, while they, noble barons, belted knights,
sworn Crusaders, were stretched on the rack.
bishops present were shocked at the exposure of their treatment and placed
them in the hands of the Provost of Paris, saying that they would consider
their case the next morning. But Phillippe, dreading a reaction in their
favour, declared them relapsed and condemned them to the flames that very
night, the 18th of March. A picture is extant in Germany, said to have been
of the time, showing the meek face of the white-haired, white-bearded Molay,
his features drawn with wasting misery, his eyes one mute appeal, his hands
bound over the large cross on his breast. He died proclaiming aloud the
innocence of his order and listened to with pity and indignation by the
people. His last cry, ere the flames stifled his voice, was an awful summons
to Pope Clement to meet him before the tribunal of Heaven within forty days;
to King Phillippe to appear there in a year and a day.
Clement V actually died on the 20th of April, and while his nephews and
servants were plundering his treasures his corpse was consumed by fire caught
from the wax-lights around his bier. His tyrant, Phillippe le Bel was but
forty-six years of age, still young-looking and handsome; but the decree had
gone forth against him and he fell into a bad state of health. He was thrown
from his horse while pursuing a wild boar, and the accident brought on a low
fever, which on the 29th of November, 1314, brought him likewise to the
grave. He left three sons, all perishing after unhappy marriages, in the
flower of their age, and one daughter, the disgrace and misery of France and
perished the Templars; so their persecutors! It is one of the darkest
tragedies of that age of tragedies, and in many a subsequent page shall we
trace the visitation for their blood upon guilty France and on the line of
Valois. They were not perfect men. They have left an evil name, for they
were hard, proud, often licentious men, and the "Red Monk" figures in many a
tradition of horror; but there can be no doubt that the brotherhood had its
due proportion of gallant, devoted warriors, who fought well for the cross
they bore. Their fate has been well sung by Lord Houghton:
warriors of the sacred grave,
looked to Christ for laws,
perished for the faith they gave
comrades and the cause;
perished, in one fate alike,
veteran and the boy,
Where'er the regal arm could strike,
torture and destroy;
darkly down the stream of time
Devised by evil fame
murmurs of mysterious crime,
tales of secret shame.
oft, when avarice, hate, or pride,
Assault some noble band,
outer world, that scorn the side
does not understand,
by these lessons men awake
know they cannot bind
Discordant wills in one, and make
aggregate of mind.
ever in our best essays
close fraternal ties
evil narrowness waylays
Echoes each foul derisive word,
o'er each hideous sight,
consecrates the wicked sword
names of holy right.
love, however bright it burns
what it holds most fond,
tainted by its unconcern
all that lies beyond.
still the earth has many a knight
high vocation bound
conquer in enduring fight
Spirit's holy ground.
manhood's pride and hopes of youth
meet the Templars doom,
Crusaders of the ascended truth,
of the empty tomb.
RITUAL OF A POLITICAL PARTY
you kindly instruct me where to locate the ritual used by the National Council
of the United States of North America? I have searched through several
American histories but can find nothing.
National Council was better known as the Know-Nothing party, though it also
was called the American party. As a result of the Kansas-Nebraska controversy
in 1854, the Whig party, in the North, split, and such as were not
sufficiently opposed to slavery to enter the newly formed Republican party
threw in their lot with the Know-Nothings, the National Council of which, in
session at Philadelphia Feb. 21, 1856, formulated a platform consisting of
twelve declarations the general tenor of which was opposition to aliens and to
Roman Catholicism, a constitution, by-laws and a ritual. The objects were
formally set forth in Article 2nd of the Constitution, which reads: "The
object of this organization shall be to protect every American citizen in the
legal and proper exercise of all his civil and religious rights and
privileges; to resist the insidious policy of the Church of Rome, and all
other foreign influence against our republican institutions in all lawful
ways; to place in all offices of honor, trust or profit, in the gift of the
people, or by appointment, none but native-born Protestant citizens, and to
protect, preserve and uphold the union of these states and the constitution of
ritual consisted of three degrees, with obligations and charges. A careful
reading leaves one in little doubt as to what already existing ritual served
these men as their pattern. This ritual is given in full in American Polities,
by Cooper and Fenton, Chicago, 1882, long out of print but still obtainable in
old libraries and second-hand book stores.
* * *
MASONRY FOUND THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM?
IT SAVE THE REVOLUTION?
round-table discussion among the Masters and Wardens of the lodges of our city
recently, a statement was made by an emphatic brother that Masonry founded the
public school system of America, and I was challenged for refuting it. I know
that Masons have fostered the public schools, as all good citizens should, but
I never found mention in history that they were founded by the Craft. Also it
was likewise contended that had it not been for the Masonic fraternity the
colonists would have lost the Revolution. Granting the valuable and noble
assistance rendered by Freemasons are not both contentions too broad?
Schools of one kind or another, often under church control and parochial in
nature, were brought with the first colonists from England or Europe, so that
it is impossible to say when a school system began here or by whom it was
established. Virginia, started in 1607, left it very much to individuals to
secure education in what way they could (the laissez faire principle), but the
New Netherlands, as the country was called which lay between the Delaware and
Connecticut Rivers, and which was under Dutch control in the years 1621-1674,
had a carefully organized polity and saw to it that a school was organized
with each and every church. The first real attempt to institute a public
system, properly so called, was made in Virginia in the 1770's under the
leadership of Thomas Jefferson, of whose Masonic membership no proof has ever
been forthcoming. Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia and other colonies
followed suit, but it was in New York, and more especially in New York City,
that the evolution of the school system became most rapid. In 1805 the "Free
School Society" was founded in New York City under the presidency of DeWitt
Clinton, afterward governor, a Grand Master and Grand High Priest. This was
changed to the "Public School Society" in 1826, and this organization, in
spite of vigorous opposition from Roman Catholics, flourished and paved the
way at last for a system supported and controlled by public officials. The
most prominent founders of our present system were James G. Carter, Horace
Mann and Henry Barnard, the last named of whom was appointed the first United
States Commissioner of Education in 1867. In almost every part of the country
Masons were active in working for the cause of public education (as far back
as Benjamin Franklin), but it cannot be said that Masonry founded the system.
Consult The History of Education, three volumes, by Frank P. Graves.
would be an easier matter to prove that the fraternity played a decisive part
in the Revolution, because many lodges, and lodge members (more particularly
among those working under "Antient" charters) were among the most prominent
patriots and patriot forces of the time. A number of brethren are now at work
sifting the old records and piecing the story together. When their labors are
completed your second question can be given a categorical reply, but not
before. Until then we must be content to say that many lodges and many Masons
played a great, and in some cases a decisive, part in the memorable struggle.
On both your questions consult History of Freemasonry in the State of New
York, by Bro. Ossian Lang, New York, 1922.
* * *
THE MOTHER SUPREME COUNCIL WAS ORGANIZED
Please inform me when the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite was organized
and by whom.
Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite is an assemblage of degrees fashioned
during the eighteenth century as an addition to the three degrees comprising
Ancient Craft Masonry, now generally called the Blue Lodge. The Mother Supreme
Council of the Scottish Rite, as we know it, was organized at Charleston, S.
C., May 31, 1801, by John Mitchell and Frederic Dalcho.
Grand Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret in Paris had given to
Stephen Morin a patent to carry the Rite of Perfection, as the assemblage of
degrees was then called, to America, which he did, and afterwards granted
authority to others to carry on the work. The line of descent is as follows:
Morin, Henry Francken, Moses M. Hayes, Barend M. Spitzler and John Mitchell,
the last named receiving his patent April 2, 1795. Mitchell granted a
commission to Dr. Frederic Dolcho May 24, 1801, and these two took the lead in
forming the first, or Mother, Supreme Council. Your own state lines in the
territory governed by the Northern Supreme Council, organized in 1813; your
first Lodge of Perfection was organized in Indianapolis May 19, 1865, and your
first Consistory at same place and time. You may be referred to Albert Pike's
Historical Inquiry in Regard to the Grand Constitution of 1786, published by
the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction, at Washington, D. C., in 1872 and
again in 1883.
* * *
THE MAKING OF SPEECHES IN LODGE
you are at it I wish you would give me a steer about speech-making. On the
night I got my Third I made a short speech at the request of our excellent W.
M. Since then the brethren have pestered me to do some more talking. But I am
green, as a Mason, and double green as an orator. Please give me a hint or two
about this business.
you express your thoughts as forcibly as you make known your wants, you should
have no trouble in an art that is well within reach of any man of average
ability. The main thing is to have a purpose, for in a speech it is the object
that counts more than the subject; aimlessness, and a mere display of one's
efforts at eloquence, is a prime offense, especially among busy men who are
not much interested in watching a speaker pile up useless adjectives; but if a
man goes after a verdict, shows that he means business, and doesn't rest until
he gets some good accomplished, he can safely let oratory take care of itself.
Have something definite to say and say it as sincerely as you can, that is the
recipe. All the tricks and embellishments can be learned afterwards. A speech
is properly a piece of human engineering the purpose of which is to effect
certain changes or make needed adjustments. Being a form of work it is never
an idle display, and he is the best speaker who gets the most done. For that
reason a lodge speaker should, by preference, deal with problems in his own
lodge. If his brethren lack in charity he should make them ashamed; if they
are unsociable he can warm their spirits; if they act un-Masonically he should
rebuke them; ever and always his aim is to make Masonry prevail. Whatever
material is found to be effectual for such a purpose is good for a
speech-maker, be it drawn from the ritual, Masonic history, philosophy,
jurisprudence, present day Masonic activities, what not. Don't be afraid to
speak right out. "One burning heart sets another on fire." If you are allotted
fifteen minutes use only twelve. Speak distinctly, deliberately, head up and
mouth open, and talk to your brethren as if there were but one man present.
Above all things don't drag in a lot of so-called "funny stories" by the nap
of the neck; if you feel obliged to use humor let it come instinctively and as
a happy surprise. The right kind of speech-making is a thing a wise Worshipful
Master will develop in his lodge; it means life and power for the brotherhood.
In the old days the Master gathered his workmen about him and all conferred
together, so should it be among us who work in a great Craft confronted by
tasks "greater than the Twelve Labors of Hercules."
* * *
THE GROTTO WAS LAUNCHED
get a history of the Grotto ? When and by whom was it organized?
will find an excellent account of the Grotto in Mackey's Revised History of
Freemasonry, edited by Robert I. Clegg, chapter 108, beginning on page 1984.
The organization began in Hamilton Lodge, No. 120, Hamilton, N. Y., in a local
committee formed for fun and frolic, named Fairchield Deviltry Committee,
after its moving spirit, Brother LeRoy Fairchild. The presiding officer was
called the "King Devil." The first formal organization was made on the evening
of Sept. 10, 1889. So successful was this fun society that a ritual was worked
out by two very brilliant men, Prophets R. R. Riddell and George Beal, and
this was continued, with some revisions and additions, when the Supreme
Council of the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm was
founded, June 13, 1890, with Bro. Thomas L. James, New York City, as Grand
Monarch. The charter for the first Grotto was granted to the brethren at
Hamilton, who first chose the name Druid Grotto, No. 1, but afterwards changed
it to Mohanna Grotto. From that time until now this Order has grown rapidly
and is now often called by the sobriquet, "the Blue Lodge Shrine."
* * *
INDEPENDENT ORDER OF ODD FELLOWS
was the Independent Order of Odd Fellows organized, and where ? Was it started
by Masons ?
is a good deal of uncertainty as to the pedigree of this noble organization,
for it began in very humble fashion and long ago, so that nobody among its
pioneers anticipated its great growth or long and honorable career. Early
records were lost and traditions became confused, but it is usually supposed
that the first lodge of Odd Fellows was Loyal Aristarcus, No. 9, meeting in
London, organized in 1745, which was twenty-eight years after the organizing
of the First Grand Lodge of Freemasons. There is an old story to the effect
that Odd Fellowship was launched by a number of disgruntled London Masons in
1730 or 1740, largely for convivial purposes, but of this we cannot be
certain, though we can be reasonably sure that the same ground swell of
interest in secret fraternities which brought about the revival of Masonry and
caused its so rapid spread over Great Britain and Europe, was also responsible
for the birth of Odd Fellowship. The founder of Odd Fellowship in America,
where it has reached its largest proportions, was Thomas Wildey, who came to
Baltimore in 1817, bringing with him a zeal for the Order developed in his
native city of London, where he founded a lodge and presided over it for three
years. He, together with John Welsh, a brother member, issued a call for a
meeting. They, with those who responded, organized a new lodge at Baltimore,
April 26, 1819, with Wildey in the chair. It was thus that he began his
labors, for which he never lost his enthusiasm until at last he saw founded
the "Grand Lodge of Maryland and the United States, Independent Order of Odd
Fellows," with himself as the first Grand Master. You will find a brief
account of Odd Fellowship in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition,
Vol. XIX, p. 996; and also a very readable survey in the Cyclopaedia of
Fraternities, by Albert C. Stevens. For a detailed account see "The Complete
Manual of Odd Fellowship, its History, Principles, Ceremonies and Symbolism,"
privately printed, 1879. If you go into the subject at length why not
contribute an article ? It would be welcome.
* * *
have a friend who has voluntarily, and while in good standing, withdrawn from
the Order. He says he now no longer feels under any obligation to keep our
secrets. I tell him he is as much under obligation as ever. Am I right?
A.W.S., South Carolina.
are most surely right. Certain obligations voluntarily accepted by your friend
had nothing whatsoever to do with his continuing in formal membership, but
rested on his honor as a man as long as he may live. It is just as immoral for
him to violate his solemn word now as it was before. In this sense the old
saying, "Once a Mason, always a Mason," is literally true, a fact long ago
recognized and imbedded in the phrase "Masonic Indelibility." During the
anti-Masonic craze of the past century a few men gained notoriety by becoming
"Renouncing Masons"; the general contempt with which these traitors came to be
regarded by the public shows that the profane as well as initiate accept the
doctrine of Masonic Indelibility as sound and right.
CORRECTIONS CONCERNING TEXAS ITEMS
your issue of May, 1923, you have two articles in which Texas is spoken of,
and in each there is a slight mistake, possibly of not much importance. In the
article by P. G. Tyler, the date of the first meeting of Holland Lodge, in
Houston, is given as "October, 1837." This error is a natural one, on part of
anyone getting their information from "Ruthven's Reprint of the proceedings of
Grand Lodge of Texas, 1837-1858."
Brother Ruthven - then Grand Secretary - printed his books in 1860, he gave as
a preface a sketch of the organization of Holland, No. 36, and in it the
record reads October. As the sketch was written by Brother Anson Jones, some
twenty or more years after the meeting, and was largely from memory, he may
have written October. However, the correct date was Nov. 8, 1837. This I give
from the minutes themselves, which are in our possession. The three bodies in
Houston, lodge, chapter and commandery, are fortunate in that each has its
original minutes complete from the first meeting. Although they have lost by
fire their first charters, paraphernalia, etc., the minutes were saved by
reason of the secretaries having them at their homes at dates of the fires.
second item is on page 156 under heading “Twenty-six Jurisdictions Use the
District Deputy System." The question asked was regarding the use "of the
District Deputy Lecturer system." Texas is included in the list. This is
somewhat in error. We have District Deputy Grand Masters, but they are not by
reason of said appointment, "Lecturers." Brother Tyler on page 153 practically
tells how the work is disseminated. We have a Committee on Work of five
members, one elected each year for five years. No member can immediately
committee at their annual meeting - which is immediately after the Grand Lodge
closes, issues certificates for proficiency to such as have successfully stood
examination. These certificates are for one, two, or three years. The holder
is authorized to teach in a specified district, but the lodges can invite any
certificate member in the district to lecture. Every district has a number of
certificate holders. In some lodges it is the unwritten law that its officers
must hold certificates, so that in our cities we have twenty-five or more.
Houston at present has forty-two. Last December the committee at Waco issued
833 certificates of which 251 were for the first time.
certificates are held and renewed from time to time by brethren simply as a
matter of personal gratification, although many of these are "stand-by
workers" in all degrees and orders. Our chapter and council has the same
system for teaching the work. Their committees meet immediately preceding the
* * *
PA JOINED THE LODGE"
request of H. F. M., in the August BUILDER, for the poem, "When Pa Joined the
Lodge," has been responded to by a number of brethren, whose exhibits, though
they are very much in the spirit of the subject, do not bear that title.
Brother George Hopper Smith, Cleveland, Ohio, sent in the following, which is
FATHER RODE THE GOAT
house is full of arnica,
not dare to run about
make the slightest sound;
leave the big piano shut
do not strike a note
doctor's been here seven times
father rode the goat.
joined the lodge a week ago -
in at four a. m.
sixteen brethren brought him home
Though he says he brought them.
wrist was sprained and one big rip
rent his Sunday coat -
must have been a lively time
father rode the goat.
resting on the couch today
practicing his signs -
hailing sign, working grip,
mutters pass-words 'neath his breath
other things he'll quote
surely had an evening's work
father rode the goat.
has a gorgeous uniform,
gold and red and blue
with plumes and yellow braid,
golden badges, too.
sword of finest tempered steel;
set with precious stones.
says this par'phernalia
come from Pettibones.
goat he leads what "Teddy" calls
very strenuous life,
trouble for such candidates
tackle him in strife.
somehow, when we mention it
wears a look so grim
wonder if he rode the goat
the goat rode him.
Brother William B. Sayer, New York City, has given us the use of a fetching
poem written by his wife, Caroline B. Sayer, published in the Grand Lodge Year
Book of New York State in 1922:
WILLIE'S DAD JOINED THE MASONS
dad was dressin' to join the Masons,
was one night last week,
know all the things he done,
'Cause I stood by the keyhole to peek.
washed an' shaved hisself up slick,
put on a new pair of socks
felt his muscle an' kept mutterin' some words
wonder if they give 'em hard knocks.
sneak down stairs to the pantry,
put two lumps of sugar in my coat,
slid 'em in dad's pocket
he'd have 'em to feed the goat.
hope that goat don't hurt my dad
hope they don't make him walk on live coals,
'Cause ma'll be mad as the dickens,
burns them silk socks full of holes.
mornin' I asked dad if they treated him rough
he just shook me by the han'
said, "My son, you must be a Mason
you become a man."
probable that neither of these is the poem asked for. Can you help us out?
is never dead until he is buried.
* * *
Brother McNairn's article on Goethe published last month has been very highly
is a puzzle picture. See if you can discover the man's religion. It happened
in the Hotel Clark, in Los Angeles, (you know the place). A stammerous
excitable guest rushed to the desk: "Here please send this suit out in a hurry
and have it creamed and blessed!"
* * *
friend wrote of THE BUILDER that "it is neither radical nor conservative but
sane and it is intelligent without being highbrow." We may possibly not
deserve these fine words but they nevertheless express our ideals.
* * *
do you examine visitors ? Customs differ so much in various parts of the
country that it would be worth while to publish a report of typical methods.
Won't you speak up for your lodge ?
* * *
brother has submitted this question: "What is the greatest danger now facing
Freemasonry?" What would be your reply?
* * *
bricklayer glanced wearily at his platinum wrist watch. "An hour has gone by,"
he muttered to himself, "it's time to lay another brick." Oh, hum! Thus says
The Country Gentleman.
* * *
I would urge upon every young man, as the beginning of his due and wise
provision for his household, to obtain as soon as he can, by the severest
economy, a restricted, serviceable and steadily - however slowly - increasing
series of books for use through life; making his little library, all of the
furniture in his room, the most studied and decorative piece; every volume
having its assigned place, like a little statue in its niche, and one of the
earliest lessons the children of the house being how to turn the pages of
their own literary possessions lightly and deliberately, with no chance of
tearing or dog’s ears.”