The Builder Magazine
January 1930 - Volume XVI - Number
A History of American Life
BRO. ERICK MCKINLEY ERIKSSON, California
PROBABLY most people, with the exception of the professional historians
themselves, fail to realize the tremendous changes that have taken place in
the field of history in the last fifty or sixty years. During that time there
has evolved what is known as "The New History" in which a place is found for
economic, social, and cultural developments, as well as for the affairs of
polities and religion.
The old style history was concerned chiefly with the activities of governments
or with the questions of religion. Great men received all the attention; no
consideration was given to the doings of the common people. American history,
for instance, started with the chronicle of colonial political developments,
treated the fight for supremacy in America almost entirely as a political
question, and followed with the political treatment of the causes of the
revolution and of the revolution itself. After the adoption of the
Constitution, history became the story of successive presidential
But this treatment has been altered beyond recognition. Any history that
pretends to give the treatment of the development of the United States
includes more or less material of an economic, social, and cultural character.
If it did not, it would not have a chance in the market.
While the content of history has been changing the method of the historian has
also been revolutionized. Scientific method has been applied with the result
that we have more accurate history than previously. The inductive method of
reasoning is employed, a critical attitude toward the sources is displayed
and, when possible, foot-notes and bibliographical notes are used to indicate
the sources of information.
Another outstanding feature in the new history is that it is co- operative and
monographic. By this is meant that one person seldom attempts to cover
single-handed a large period, or phase, of history, but on the contrary,
several co-operate to produce a work covering the whole field of interest. The
product of the pen of each is a monographic study complete in itself and yet
fitting in with the other volumes in the set. This co-ordination is made
possible through the supervision of the editors or editor-in-chief. Two of the
best known co-operative monograpllic works are The American Nation: A History
and The Chronicles of America.
The latest example of a work produced by the modern method is A History of
American Life, now being produced by the Macmillan Company under the joint
editorship of Arthur M. Sehlesinger and Dixon Ryan Fox. Both are well
qualified for their work, the former being Professor of American History in
Harvard University; the latter, a Professor of History in Columbia University.
Each has made for himself an enviable reputation in the field of American
is intended to have twelve volumes in the set, tracing, according to the
publishers, "the evolution of civilization in the United States." So far five
volumes have appeared from the press, and it is with these that the present
article is concerned.
THE FIRST AMERICANS.
Four of these volumes were published in 1927. Of these the first to be
considered is Thomas Jefferson Wertenbaker's The First Americans. This covers
the period from the Jamestown settlement in 1607 until 1690. Professor
Wertenbaker does not concern himself with the traditional viewpoints. He is
not interested in colonial charters and constitutional developments. Such
chapter tities as "Land And Labor In The Tobacco Colonies," "A Transplanted
Church," "The Invisible World," "The Practice Of Physic," "The Beginnings Of
An Intellectual Life," "Planter And Puritan At Play," indicate the content of
Probably the most interesting chapters are those dealing with colonial
religion. If anyone still believes that the first New England settlers came to
establish religious freedom, they will be disillusioned by reading this
volume. Speaking of these settlers, Professor Wertenbaker says [pp. 87, 90]
that "their minds were fired chiefly with the hope of establishing a Bible
commonwealth, sealed against error from without and protected from schism from
within.... Obviously toleration had no part in such a plan. It is a singular
perversion of history which attributes ideals to the prime movers in this
great migration that they themselves would have been the first to repudiate."
read how attempts were made to purge Massachusetts of heretics through exiling
Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams. Even the mild Quakers suffered harsh
penalties in Massachusetts for daring to propagate their doctrines there.
Several Quakers were actually put to death. By their extreme measures the
clergy alienated support so that by the close of the seventeenth century, as
Professor Wertenbaker points out [p. 113]: "The experiment of a Bible
commonwealth had definitely failed."
Virginia the author vividly presents the difficulties confronting the clergy
The scattered settlements, the lack of roads and other physical difficulties
made inevitable the neglect of religious activities. The support of the clergy
was inadequate and their tenure was often insecure. These conditions made it
difficult to secure the best kind of ministers. It was common to find among
the clergy such vices [p. 129] as "cursing, swearing, drunkenness or fight ing,"
yet there were many good and earnest ministers in the colony.
The author goes into considerable detail concerning the beliefs of the
colonists in magic and witchcraft. The chapter on "The Invisible World" gives
an excellent account of the witchcraft craze which resulted in numerous
executions culminating in the Salem episode near the end of the seventeenth
century which was not brought to a close until twenty people had been
executed, eight more had been sentenced to death, fifty additional had
confessed themselves to be witches, one hundred and fifty more were in prison,
and two hundred others were under accusation. If such events seem to reflect
on the intelligence of our colonial ancestors, it should be pointed out, as is
done in this chapter, that conditions in Europe at the same time were far
worse than in America. In the chapter "The Practice Of Physic" we find a very
fascinating account of the practice of medicine during the period under
consideration. "The chief cause of error," according to Prof. Wertenbaker [pp.
164, 165], "was the belief, widely accepted for many centuries, that disease
is caused by diabolic influence." The few doctors were sadly lacking as a rule
in such medical knowledge as it might have been possible to secure. Bleeding
was a favorite treatment. There was a gross ignorance of sanitation and
hygiene which made it very difficult to control the various epidemics. What
was evidently a favorite prescription of the time for the cure of small-pox,
poison, and other maladies is quoted by Professor Wertenbaker as follows [p.
"In the month of March take toads as many as you will alive, putt them in an
earthen pott, so that it may be half full; cover it with a broad tyle or iron
plate; then overwhelme the pott so that the bottom may be uppermost; putt
charcoals round about it.... Sett it on fire and lett it burn and extinguish
of itself; when it is cold take out the toades, and in an Iron mortar pound
them very well.... Moderate the dose according to the strength of the partie."
These extracts indicate the general character of this very fascinating volume.
Professor Wertenbaker has performed his task exceedingly well, and the reader
will find it difficult to put this book aside until it has been completed. A
feature of this book, as well as all volumes in the set, is the illustrations
which have been provided by the editors. Twelve plates have been provided,
some of which contain six separate illustrations. Instead of merely having a
list of these illustrations, elaborate descriptive notes have been included.
SOCIETY IN THE COLONIES.
Another volume dealing with the colonial period is James Truslow Adams'
Provincial Society, which ostensibly takes up the story where Prof.
Wertenbaker leaves off, and carries it on to 1763. The first chapter,
entitled, " The Structure Of Society," deals with the various racial elements
which came to America in the colonial period. The influence of each of these
elements is weighed and conditions of land owning are discussed, as are such
matters as law, relations of church and state, and the political structure of
The author next deals with " The Economic Basis" which he says was
fundamentally agricultural. An excellent description of colonial agriculture
is given, including an account of the implements used and the products
secured. Trade also receives attention, especially the fur trade. The few
ventures in manufacturing are dealt with, as is the ship-building industry.-
Fishing is noted as an important industry, while merchandising also comes in
ARISTOCRACY IN AMERICA
Americans have always prided themselves in the lack in this country of social
classes like those that prevail in Europe. Yet Mr. Adams points out [p. 56]
that "From the very beginning of settlement there had been marked social
distinctions between the colonists. " Mr. Adams gives considerable space to
such things as the mansions, clothing, food and beverages, and amusements of
contrast with the aristocrats was "the common man," which class included [p.
85] "the smaller merchants, shopkeepers, farmers, planters, artisans,
mechanics, pioneers, fishermen, free day- laborers, indented servants and
slaves." A long chapter is devoted to these various groups.
Intellectual life is dealt with at length. That there was some literary
activity in America is made clear, but because of the scattered population it
was very difficult for an author "to find a public." Attempts to promote
education are dealt with, but it is clear that educational facilities were
religion this book also devotes many pages. The growth of denominations is
pointed out. By 1700 there were nine Baptist churches in New England, which
was certainly evidence that the control of the old theocracy there had broken
down. From Mr. Adams' account, it would appear that the moral standards of our
colonial ancestors were not the highest. Perhaps it would be safe to say that
the people of these "good old times" were no better than the people of the
twentieth century who are alleged to be afflicted with great moral laxity.
Immigration is dealt with under the title of " New Blood." Other chapters are
"The Changing South," and " The Commercialization Of The North. " There is an
excellent chapter on "The Growth Of The (:olonial Culture." An interesting
feature described by Mr. Adams was the formation of the numerous social clubs
modeled after those prevalent in Europe. In this connection Mr. Adams has a
paragraph on the introduction of Freemasonry into America. Says the author
[pp. 262, 263], "By the middle of the [eighteenth] century, a Mason traveling
through America instead of being a lonely stranger would have found himself
among an organized band of his brothers in the principal town of every one of
the colonies with the exception of North Carolina."
The improvements in transportation, together with the increasing population
made possible, during the second quarter of the eighteenth century, a
considerable development of the periodical press. One of the most important of
the new journals was Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette, started in
There was manifested a considerable interest in science, all of which is well
told by Mr. Adams. There was some progress in painting but, says Mr. Adams [p.
275], "Music and the drama showed a more noteworthy advance than did painting.
" Music seems to have flourished in the middle and southern colonies more than
in New England.
feature of the period was a great revival of religious enthusiasm which took
form in which was known as "The Great Awakening. " The prime promoter of this
great religious movement was George Whitefield who made several preaching
tours through the colonies, beginning in 1739. Mr. Adams credited Whitefield
with being largely responsible for the beginning of the humanitarian group in
the colonies, for he established an orphanage in 1740 in which there were soon
several hundred children.
Mr. Adams closes his volume with a chapter entitled "The Mid- Century," in
which he sums up the results of the wars with the French, and then deals with
the conditions existing on the eve of the American Revolution. The increased
interest in reading, establishment of new periodicals, scientific experiment,
the activity in music, the theatre and painting, the establishment of new
colleges, including the present Princeton, Dartmouth, and Columbia, are some
of the matters dealt with in this interesting chapter.
This volume contains fifteen plates supplied by the editors, illustrating such
diversified things as "Life on the Soil," "Southern Mansions," "The Great
Awakening," and " Typical Public Buildings, 1690-1763." It is a worthy
companion to that by Professor Wertenbaker and the two together will give the
reader many new viewpoints on the colonial period.
THE BEGINNING OF DEMOCRACY
One of the most interesting periods of American history is covered by Carl
Russell Fish's The Rise of the Common Man.
Under the heading, "New Winds" Professor Fish tells of the new influences
which came to dominate American life with the accession of Andrew Jackson to
the Presidency, and which continued to be the dominating influences for a
score of years. As he points out [p. 2], it was a "period of most assertive
patriotism." An interesting observation is the statement [p. 3] "that it was
at this time that Americans became hustlers. The 'quick lunch' was introduced,
and everywhere people ate in a hurry." Optimism was another characteristic of
the period. To the Americans of the time [p. 6] "the keynote of the
Constitution was opportunity for the individual." It was a period in which the
"passion for equality" was probably stronger than in any other period in our
This was a period in which political organizations were definitely formed, and
closely connected with this development of political organization were [p. 39]
"the attacks upon the aristocracy of office-holding." In this connection the
author cites the development of the anti-Masonic movement. Says Mr. Fish [p.
The larger significance of the movement was that it correctly expressed the
fear and dislike of this generation for secret organization, and that however
its adroit managers may have taken advantage of their supporters, they did
secure for them their main object.
This statement may be well questioned. Certainly the main object of the
movement was to do away with secret societies, and especially the Masonic
Fraternity. In this respect the movement was a dismal failure. It might be
further observed that Mr. Fish might have made some comments on Anti-Masonry
as a religious movement. He treats it, however, merely from the political
is interesting to note that in dealing with the civil service under Jackson,
Mr. Fish did not find it necessary to cite any other authority than himself.
He might have cleared up the false impression that Jackson created havoc among
the Federal office- holders, but he chooses to "stand pat" on the old doctrine
that Jackson introduced the spoils system into national politics. As a matter
of fact, not over one-eleventh of the office-holders were removed in the first
year and a half of Jackson's presidency, and certainly not more than one-fifth
during his eight years in office. Why not say that Jefferson introduced the
spoils system into national politics? His proportion of removals was at least
as great as Jackson's.
dealing with the newspaper organs in Washington, Mr. Fish is very vague and
hazy. He seems to have no better conception of the significance of these party
organs than he had a quarter of a century ago when he produced his Civil
Service and the Patronage.
One may well ask Mr. Fish where he got his information [p. 46] that "Van Buren
was nominated as vice-president contrary to the wish of a majority of the
Democrats in 1832." There are other points in this book which might be
criticized, but continued criticism would tend to create the impression that
Mr. Fish's work was unreliable and of little value. This is not the impression
which this reviewer wishes to convey.
spite of defects, The Rise of the Common Man is a fascinating account of the
score of years which it covers. We read of life on the farm and on the
plantation; we see with the author the development of the transportation
system through the building of roads and canals, and then railroads. We see
the gradual improvements in the railroads, such as better engines and cars and
the introduction of the chair ear and the sleeping ear. It was a period of
experimentation in which the underlying problems of railroads were mastered,
making possible the great developments of the future. Industry, invention and
trade receive attention, as does the subjeet of immigration. Many interesting
observations are made by the author in the chapter "Manners And Morals." The
development of newspapers, especially cheap penny papers, are dealt with, and
the appearance of the newsboys on the city streets receives comment. The
spread of the theatre and the rise of the circus are mentioned.
The politicians receive a chapter, while another chapter is devoted to "The
Religious Scene," in which the growth of various sects is treated. Not only
did the orthodox religions spread rapidly, but such liberal denominations as
the Unitarians enjoyed a new prosperity. Mormonism and other -isms flourished.
This was the period in which the fight for free public tax supported education
was fought and won. Mr. Fish treats this fight under the title "Education For
The People." "Art, Science, And Literature" heads a long chapter, which is
fitting in view of the fact that this was the golden age in American
literature. It was the period in which such writers flourished as Edgar Allan
Poe, William Cullen Bryant, Nathanial Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, James
Russell Powell, James Greenleaf Whittier, and a host of others. The last four
chapters are entitled "Reform And Slavery," "Manifest Destiny," "The End Of An
Era," and "The Balance Sheet."
this volume the editors have inserted eighteen plates, including numerous
Professor Allan Nevins has produced in The Emergence of Modern America one of
the most outstanding volumes in this set. In it, the author has covered the
same period as two other recent writers. D. C. Seitz brought out for popular
consumption recently a volume entitled The Mauve Decade, while a few months
ago there appeared from the facile pen of Claude Bowers a book entitled The
Tragic Era. Mr. Bowers writes, as he has heretofore done, in a strong partisan
vein. His purpose is to point out all the degradation of the Republicans and
to show how the Democrats were misused during the period. In other words, his
viewpoint is primarily political.
should also be observed that E.P. Oberholtzer has covered the period
exhaustively in the first three volumes of his History of the United States
Since the Civil War.
remarkable feature of Prof. Nevins' book is his demonstrated ability to treat
his period without becoming enmeshed in the political squabbles attending
reconstruction. In fact, he has been able to write his book without mentioning
Thaddeus Stevens or Charles Sumner, the chief Radical Republican leaders.
The book opens with a chapter entitled "The Darkest Days In The South." The
economic destruction wrought by the war, the activities of bandits, and the
presence of Federal troops imposed great handicaps on the Southerners. Heavy
taxes, plundering officials, and bad crops made the situation in the South
desperate for a time following the War.
Considerable attention is given to the negro and development of educational
enterprises among them, such as Howard University in Washington, Fisk
Institute at Nashville, and Hampton Institute.
With the passage of time progress was made in working out a "sound economic
basis for labor." It was a real revolution for the South to change from a
slave system to a wage system. By 1869, to quote the author [p. 23]: "the dark
skies above the South showed a roseate gleam of dawn." The evils of carpet-bag
government are also dealt with in this chapter.
The author then has a long chapter on "The Industrial Boom In The North." This
chapter merely deals with the beginnings of the great economic revolution
which began during the Civil War and extended to about the decade of the
nineties and which was destined to affect every phase of American life. Here
we read of a great revolution in manufacturing, typified by the development of
the steel industry, the meat packing business, the oil industry and the
ready-made clothing industry. The improvement in processes are described, and
the westward movement of manufacturing is made apparent.
"Financial institutions," says Prof. Nevins [p. 47], "responded to the buoyant
expansion of the time like vegetation to a tropical sun. " The building of
railroads is dramatically described, the Union Pacific being used as a
classical example. The consolidation of then existing lines into through lines
is described [p. 63] as "Not less important than the new railway construction.
" It was this period that saw the emergence of some of the great presentday
railroad systems, such as the New York Central, the Pennsylvania, the
Baltimore and Ohio, the Chicago and Northwestern, the Rock Island, and the
Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy. The decline of water commerce as the result
of railroad competition is mentioned.
The great industrial boom was accompanied by a rise of organized labor, the
laborers attempting, through organization, to deal with the great problems
which confronted them. Under the title of "Urban Life And Routes of Travel"
Mr. Nevins tells of the remarkable improvements in the cities. He emphasizes
the lack of fire-proof construction, illustrating his point by description of
the Chicago and Boston fires. "The shock produced throughout the country by
these conflagrations, " to quote Mr. Nevins [p. 85], "caused a powerful
movement in favor of fire-resistant materials, and laws were passed which
forced the question of safety upon the attention of architects and builders."
The influence of the telegraph, the free mail carrying system, the typewriter
and the telephone are stressed. A description of society in the cities is not
Under the title of "The Taming Of The West" the author describes the conquest
of the Western Indians and the pushing in of population to take up the free
land offered by the government under the Homestead Act, or to buy up the land
offered by railroads at a cheap price. Agriculture and stock-raising of the
West, with the ranches and cowboys, are interestingly described. Mining is not
neglected. The discontent of the farmer is treated under the title, "The
Revolt Of The Farmer." The corruption of the period, featured by the Tweed
Ring, is excellently described in the chapter entitled "The Moral Collapse In
Government And Business."
Space will not permit a more detailed resume of this very interesting book. It
must suffice to say that every phase of American life is dealt with, sports as
well as culture are given due consideration. "Humanitarian Striving," receives
a long chapter. The book closes with an account of the "Recovery In South And
West" and with a chapter entitled " Embattled Industry " which stresses the
labor disputes of the decade of the seventies. Fifteen plates are included in
this volume, illustrating various things described in the book.
THE EARLIEST IMMIGRANTS
The most recently published volume in this set is Herbert Ingram Priestley's
The Coming of the White Man.
this volume Professor Priestley deals with the Spanish, French, and Dutch
elements in American life, beginning with the discoveries by Columbus, and
carrying through to the time when the United States acquired the Mexican
cession in 1848. The volume begins with a chapter entitled "The Western
Impulse " in which various expeditions of the Spaniards are described. As
Professor Priestley points out [p. 29], " These first Christians brought with
them the cross and the sword, it is true, but they also brought all they had
in practical civilization." In other words, while the Spaniards were
exploiters in the new world, they did confer some benefits on the people they
"The Spanish Advance" is then described, showing how the Spaniards spread out
as they conquered additional territory. The importance of missionaries in
stimulating this advance is stressed. Attention is given to the methods of
governing the Spanish colonies. Next comes the description of the "Pioneers of
New Mexico and Florida," in which we read of the exploitation of the Indians
in New Mexico by the corrupt governor, Mendizabal, who was finally brought to
task and died in a dungeon. In the portion of the chapter dealing with
Florida, there is an excellent description of San Augustin (Saint Augustine).
the chapter entitled "Economic Iife In New Spain" we read of the ruthless
exploitation of the plebeian class. The mining industry is interestingly
described. Agriculture was very important in New Spain and it is also well
described in this chapter. There was considerable cattle raising and some
read in the chapter, "The Wards of The Spaniards," how the Spanish bestowed as
their "most unselfish gift" their religion on the Indians, and we further read
[p. 108] that
. . second among his [the Spaniard's] settled ideals was his officially
Sanctioned program of encouraging the fusion of Spanish and Indian blood. To
create in the Indies an entirely new society by amalgamating the races under a
unified faith was the spiritual vision of the Catholic Monarchs.
Further Professor Priestley says [p. 109], "A corollary of these two ideas was
that of the physical preservation of the red man for the double purpose of
evangelizing and exploiting him." The Spanish mission is praised by Professor
Priestley [p. 123] as "the most effective and widespread of the social
"Spanish Colonial Life And Letters" is next taken up. Here we note the efforts
of the Spanish rulers to preserve orthodoxy by censuring "books of false
doctrines, " in good Catholic fashion. Yet there was considerable reading on
the part of the Spanish colonists as is shown by the statement [p. 146] that
"Some fifty persons were engaged in the business of book-selling during the
first century in Mexico City alone." There was some scientific study carried
on, while a few made reputations as producers of literature. Schools were
established and the University of Mexico was started in 1551, but, as the
author observes [p; 159], most of the schools "were conducted for Spanish
boys." It is certainly apparent that the Spaniards were never much concerned
with the education of the people whom they had conquered.
"In summing up the merits and demerits of Spanish occupation in America," says
Professor Priestley [p. 208] "it may be said, given the defects of the society
and the handicaps of the field of operation, the result was better than might
have been expected."
Three chapters are devoted to the French, one entitles "The Builders of The
French Empire," another "French Homes In The Wilderness," and the third "The
Men Of The Middle Border." Professor Priestley attributes [pp. 214, 215] the
French acquisition of the American empires largely "to the religious impulse
of the adventuresome Jesuits and to the race-amalgamation ideal exemplified i
the quickly risen class of coureurs de bois, men who sough the untrammeled and
exhilarating life of the forest fur trade."
The book closes with two chapters entitled "Life Among the Dutch and Swedes"
and "Our Dutch Heritage." There are eighteen plates in this volume, including
some very interesting illustrations.
The authors of these five volumes have done their work well. They have
succeeded in presenting an interesting account of American life during the
periods to which the; have been assigned. If the remaining seven volumes in
the set are as good as those already published, it requires no prophet to
predict that this History of American Life will become one of the most widely
read sets of history yet produced. The books are suitable alike to the scholar
and to the person who reads for recreation and pleasure. No better suggestion
could be made for spending a few of the winter's evenings than to secure and
read these volume that have been here reviewed.
Some New Facts About the Baal's Bridge Square
BRO J. HUGO TATSCH, Associate Editor
THE interesting story communicated by Bro. Crossle, of Dublin, Ireland, in the
December, 1929, issue of THE BUILDER is one holding much fascination for the
antiquarians of the Craft. It appealed especially to me because I have in my
possession some interesting material relating thereto, this having come into
my possession during the winter of 1923-24 when I purchased an old Masonic
volume which had been advertised in England as a scrapbook containing letters
from prominent Masons of the last century, among them several from William
James Hughan, the eminent English Masonic historian. The book turned out to be
the By-Laws of the Provincial Grand Lodge of the North & East Ridtngs of
Yorkshire, printed at Kingstonupon-Hull, 1868, and formerly the property of
Bro. John Pearson Bell, M. D., Deputy Provincial Grand Master. In fact, it was
his working copy, for it also contains numerous annotations in his
handwriting, and addenda to his Short History of the Provincial Grand Lodge
which forms part of the work. I shall not dwell upon the other valuable
letters I found in the volume; let it suffice to say that Bro. Bell was
interested in the Old Brass Square of Limerick, and had in the book not only a
photograph of Bro. James Pain, the discoverer of the Square in 1830, but also
several letters from him, as well as a number from Bro. Fred W. Flurnell. A
reproduction of the photographs accompany this article; and extracts from the
letters as they illustrate the story.
The first item in the series of notes is a cutting from the Limerick Southern
Chronicle, Clare and Tipperary Advertiser, issue of Saturday, September 25,
1869. On the margin is a memorandum in Bro. Bell's handwriting, "Sent a sketch
of this Square and letter to Editor a few days before this article [appeared].
have received from a worthy Brother, a fac-simile sketch, of a very antique
brass square, discovered under the foundation stone of the Old Baal's Bridge,
in this city, with the words inscribed thereon:
will strive to live with love and care,
"Upon the level, by the square."
Brother James Pain, architect and engineer, of this city, contracted in the
year 1830, to re-build Baal's Bridge on taking down the old one, the period of
erection of which is unknown though noticed in the records in 1558 at the
proclamation of Queen Elizabeth. Bro Pain discovered under the foundation
stone at the Englishtown side, this old brass plate much eaten away. The
shape, size, and formation of the engraving on both sides were easily traced.
There are two holes in each square for the purpose of suspension to the
collar, and a representation of a heart in both angles. The year 1317 is
engraved on one of the squares, the most illegible character is the figure 3,
which might be 5, but history proves it must have been before 1558.
[The worthy Brother who has favoured us with the above interesting sketch, has
had it in his possession for the last 20 years.]
Further clues to the Square are given in other notes added to the cutting,
Memo. Dec. 3rd, 1870. Up to this time no information of the above Square has
been obtained. Wrote this day & enclosed sketch of Square to the W. Master,
Limerick Lodge of Freemasons, Limerick.
Bro. Bell's letter to Limerick brought a reply dated December 10, 1870, from
George W. Bassett, P. M., Worshipful Master of Lodge 73, Limerick, and P. K.,
Royal Arch Chapter, in which he conveys the information that Bro. James Pain
was alive and "comparatively well, for he is an old & worthy Brother, now
nearly 80 yrs of age." A letter of Bro. Pain's was enclosed, and the
information was given that "I made it my business to see Mr. Furnell alluded
to in Mr. Pain's letter and he promises to look through his late uncle's
relics to find the Brass Square, but said he never saw it and I expect it will
be difficult to search it up."
The letter from Bro. Pain forwarded by Bro. Bassett reads:
Limerick, Dec. 6, 1870.
Dear Sir and Bro. Bassett:
reply to your favor of yesterday's date with the sketch of the Old Brass
Square enclosed, I beg to say I have a perfect recollection of the Square
being found and given to me by the workmen - and I think I gave the Square to
the late Brother Michael Furnell who I recollect thought much of it. It may
possibly be found among his effects. I think it would be well if you inquired
of the late Bro. Michael Furnell's nephew if the Square has been since met
with. I regret the matter has never until now, been brought to my recollection
and am sorry I cannot speak more about it.
Yours, Dr. Sir and Bro.,
W. Bassett. Esq
This was the beginning of a correspondence which lasted for several years.
Bro. Bell wrote to Bro. Pain at once, and received this reply:
Limerick, Dec. 17, 1870.
Dear Sir and Brot'r:
beg to return you thanks for your kind letter of the 13th inst and its
accomponents for which I am obliged. With respect to the brass square, it was
found as observed on my removing old Baal's Bridge at Limerick previous to my
erecting the present Bridge. I have no perfect recollection of the distich on
it, but perfectly recollect talking with the late Br. M. Furnell (who was the
Provincial Master for North Munster) on the difficulty of making out the date,
he * * * much value for it, and 2nd, it was he thought the oldest document of
the Craft he had ever seen. Mr. Bassett has not received any additional
information from M. Furnell's nephew. When I next meet him I will have some
talk with him on the subject and will let you know if I hear anything of it -
since I gave it to his uncle. I am thank God in perfect health at 88, but a
little weak in the frame from an illness I suffered three years ago when from
weakness I lost my speech and could not even write my name. Please let this be
an excuse for the improper formation of my note.
beg to subscribe myself, Dear Sir and Brother,
P. Bell, Esq.
letter dated January 4, 1871, written by Bro. Pain speaks interestingly of his
membership in Lodge No. 13, "to whom the late Bro. Furnell and myself were and
are old companions. I have not seen his nephew since * * * but will do so and
endeavor to get some additional intelligence of the Brass Square. We have
belonging to 13 an Old Chest crammed with Papers and other stuff, I have * * *
to be carefully searched to see if I can find aught related to it; as the late
Brother Michael Furnell was for many years Grand Master of the Province of
The next letter brings good news. It was written January 15 or 18, 1871, and
states that Bro. Pain had visited lodge the day before, and there met Bro.
Michael Furnell, apparently a son of the late Provincial Grand Master to whom
the Square had been given by Bro. Pain in 1830. While he remembered the
article perfectly, he did not know what had become of it, but referred Bro.
Pain to his cousin, Frederiek Furnell, of Castle Connell in the County of
Limerick. The letter goes on to say:
But on yesterday evening, the two cousins, together, called on me. Mr.
Frederick Furnell said he has the Square and he had it from his uncle, the
late Michael Furnell. He also said that he would, in a day or so, write to you
fully about it.
Some of the correspondence is apparently missing; but in a letter of February
8, 1871, Bro. Fred W. Furnell acknowledges one of January 19th from Bro. Bell,
and says in part:
enclose a rough uncorrected sketch of Ball's Bridge, compiled from Lenihan's
History of Limerick. The date of the Square is undoubtedly 1517. How it got
imbedded in the masonry of this old bridge no one can tell. I can only account
for it by supposing that at some period after 1517 or about that time that
that portion of the Bridge was being repaired or rebuilt and some worthy Mason
put it in the place where it was found. I shall send you a copy of a sketch of
Ball's Bridge taken just before Messrs. Paine commenced taking it down as soon
as I can.
The same letter and subsequent correspondence indicate that Bro. Bell supplied
Bro. Furnell with information about Freemasonry in earlier centuries.
Reference is made to some tracing boards of Knight Templar interest, and also
to a search for Mason's marks on the stones of a nearby cathedral founded in
1194; but none had been found up to that time. Apparently the copies of the
tracing boards were made for Bro. William James Hughan, as they were sent for
The correspondence with Bro. Furnell ceased; at any rate, there are no more
letters from him about the Square. However, there are some more from Bro.
Pain, which become increasingly difficult to read, because of the good old
brother's advancing years - ninety-one, far beyond the allotted three score
and ten. One such letter gives us a hint why there are no more letters from
the Furnells - there is a reference in 1873 to "the unfortunate death of Bro
Doctor Furnell." Through it the Square came into possession of Captain Michael
Furnell, also a member of Lodge No. 13. He brought it to the Lodge, "by whom
it has been glazed and placed in the Lodge as an ancient memento of the Order,
for which we have certainly to thank you," concluded Bro. Pain.
The last letter from Bro. Pain is dated August 1, 1875. Bro. Bell was still
persistent in his search for information, having written again to Bro. George
W. Bassett. He sent his son to see Bro. Pain, who apparently had the subject
of the Old Square close to his heart. He gives further details:
now write to you to account in the best way I can how the Furnells became
acquainted with the Old Square. I was standing on the foundations of the Old
Bridge, overseeing some labourers I had on the work. One of the labourers came
to me: "See, Sir, what we have found among the stones of the Bridge we are
taking up." I took it from him and kept it for some days I then showed it to
the late M. Furnell. He was then P. Gr. Master of the Freemasons of North
Munster. He was much pleased with it, and spoke of it as a very extraordinary
thing He asked me for it and I gave it to him. At his death it was left to his
nephew, Doctor Furnell, with whom you have a correspondence respecting it. The
Doctor was shortly after unfortunately drowned. The Square then fell into the
hands of his cousin, Capt. Furnell, a member of the Lodge. * * * His wife
presented the Old Square to Lodge 13, of which the Rev. Anderson Ware was Wor.
Master. I have this morning in company with the Lodge Tyler seen the Old
Square, neatly framed and glazed with a compliment of Mr. Furnell. * * * The
date of it is J5J7 or 5557. The third figure of it is so disfigured that we
cannot tell what it is.
Readers of the article published last month will recall that there is question
as to the date, being either 1507 or 1517. The newspaper cutting quoted has
1317, attributing the greatest illegibility to the figure " 3, " rather than
to the third figure as has been done by others. No doubt the date is 1517, for
both the first and third figures look alike, that is to say, like the letter
"J." having a loop at the bottom. None of the brethren mentioned in this
correspondence ever wrote of the third figure as "0" - all were agreed that it
is a figure "1."
Bro. William James Hughan took more than a passing interest in the Old Square,
as is witnessed by his action in sending a brief item about it to the
"Freemason" of London, in which it appeared January 3, 1874. There is a
memorandum to that effect in Bro. Bell's scrapbook, with the additional
statement that "Not long before that date I had shown the sketch and
correspondence to Bro. Hughan, when I saw him in London."
Reference is made in Bro. Crossle's article to the sketch of the Bridge. He is
right in his surmise that it was made by some member of the Pain family, as
Bro. James Pain, in his last letter, says: "This engraving [referring to the
one in Limerick Lodge, accompanying the Square] is from a sketch of my
Brother's, the late G. R. Pain, made by him a few days before I removed them
[the stones] to build the present Bridge of a single arch. "
There is a confliet in the two statements by Brother Pain as to who presented
the Square to the Lodge, but this is a detail of no great importance. The main
thing is that the Square has been preserved. His statement in 1875 that he
gave the Square to Bro. Michael Furnell at the time it was found is at
variance with the latter's own letter to the "Freemason's Quarterly Magazine"
in 1842, where he submits a sketch of "a very antique brass square presented
to me this day by Brother Pain, Provincial Grand Architect."
word about Brothers Furnell and Pain. The former is well known to collectors
of Masonic bookplates because he had four variants of an attractive design,
altered as the years went on through his advancement in Freemasonry. The whole
story is told in Masonic Bookplates, page 130, a work produced by the
collaboration of Bro. Winward Prescott and the present writer in 1928.
Briefly, Bro. Furnell was born in 1794, and served as Deputy Lieutenant High
Sheriff and Magistrate of the County of Clare. He was Provincial Grand Master
of North Munster, 1842, and Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33d, A. A. S.
Bro. Pain's history is told by Bro. Henry F. Berry in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum,
1905, page 19:
James Pain, a distinguished architect, was born at Isleworth in 1779. He and
his brother, George R. Pain, entered into partnership, subsequently settling
in Ireland, where James resided in Limerick and George in Cork. They designed
and built a number of churches and glebe houses. Mitehelstown Castle, the
magnificent seat of the Earls of Kingston, was the largest and best of their
designs. They were also architects of Cork Courthouse and the County Gaol,
both very striking erections, and of Dromoland Castle, the seat of Lord
Inehiquin. James Pain died in Limerick 13th December, 1877, in his 98th year,
and was buried in the cathedral church of St. Mary in that city.
this can be added that Bro. Pain was evidently made a Mason September 7, 1813,
according to a notation on the back of the photograph in my possession, which
was sent to Bro. Bell during the exchange of correspondence quoted herein.
George W. Baird: Sailor, Man and Mason
BRO. PAUL. B. ELCAN, Washington, D. C.
reprint this article by permission of the New Age and the author, Bro. Elcan;
and we asked this for a special reason. The subject of the article is a
brother who for many years was a regular contributor to THE BUILDER; one whose
articles were a valuable contribution to one aspect of the history of Masonry
in America. It must not be supposed that such a faithful helper has gone
entirely without acknowledgment, for Bro. H. L. Haywood, as long ago as 1922,
wrote a biographical sketch and tribute to Bro Baird. But eight years is quite
a while, and there is a new generation of BUILDER readers, hence this new
article will not be out of place.
SAILOR, Man and Mason, these three titles are used in their fullest meaning
when applied to George W. Baird, who has ever borne the attributes expected of
one so called.
Washington, the capital of the United States, was little more than a village
on April 22, 1843, when he was born, and education was a luxury that was not
to be had by everyone. Young Baird soon exhausted the possibilities of the
public and private institutions and at the age of thirteen was apprenticed to
a printer. The life of a printer's "devil" was not appealing, and shortly
afterward he turned from the pursuit of the art of Gutenberg to become a
disciple of Fulton, and apprenticed himself to a machinist. Here the real
ability and desires of the boy found full sway. He was soon an excellent
draughtsman and a freehand sketcher of unusual skill. His fame was more than
local, and his extraordinary faculty as a detailer of intricate designs made
his work much sought after.
CIVlL WAR SERVICE
While still in his 'teens the call of the Civil War was heard, and he was
appointed a third assistant engineer in the volunteer navy then being
assembled to blockade the Southern Coasts. This was on September 19, 1862, and
acting in this capacity he served on the Mississippi, the Calhoun, and
Pensacola in the West Gulf Blockading Squadron and saw action on twenty-three
occasions. As soon as age permitted, he entered the regular navy, where his
knowledge of mechanics brought him promotions so rapidly that, in 1866, he was
second assistant engineer of the U.S.S. Shamrock. The duties of this vessel
took her to Europe, and it is worthy of note that this young man was on a
vessel of typical Irish name and in a country where Masonry is almost outlawed
when the degrees of the Craft were conferred upon him. This was in Tolerancia
Lodge, No. 4, of Lisbon, Portugal. Brother Baird was initiated July 23, 1867;
passed July 30, and raised July 30.
Half the distance round the world found him at Mare Island, Calif., in 1869,
and he affiliated with Naval Lodge, No. 87, of Vallejo, Calif., in 1870. Naval
service does not permit active participation in fraternal orders, and Brother
Baird secured his Masonry at odd times, but the lessons inculcated in Portugal
were not forgotten and the actions of this brother have exemplified the best
traditions of the Order.
Few of us living today realize what a great change came over the entire Navy
during the last half of the nineteenth century, when the wooden sailing war
vessels were changed into floating fortresses of steel that now protect our
interests. Brother Baird took a very prominent part in this transition, one of
his feats being the installation of incandescent lighting in the U.S.S.
Albatross, the first vessel in the world to be so equipped. The Albatross was
built under the supervision of Brother Baird and was intended solely for use
in deep-sea exploring, and many were the devices that he perfected to expedite
and simplify these researches. With the advent of the breech-loading cannon it
was necessary to revise the methods of manufacture in the Naval Gun Factory in
Washington and, as a member of the board, Brother Baird assisted in making
this the model of modern shops in every manner.
an authority on scientific subjects he has attained first rank. The following
are a few of his writings: Absorption of Gases by Water and the Organic Matter
Contained Therein; An Improved Distilling Apparatus for Steamships; Pneumatic
Steering Gear; The Flagship Trenton; Ventilation of Ships, and Flight of the
Flying Fish, of which latter the French Academy, said: "It remained for an
American naval officer to prove by mathematics the weight of this fish."
Brother Baird is also a recognized authority on some of the earlier heroes of
the American Navy and his book, The Father of the Arrlerican Navy, is
especially enlightening and interesting.
Duty brought Brother Baird to Washington, and he transferred his Masonic
affiliations to Hope Lodge No. 20, in 1875, where his attention and diligence
in Masonic work were recognized and he was soon placed in line, being elected
Worshipful Master in 1883. Washington Royal Arch Chapter, No. 2, received him
as a Companion in 1882, and he once more showed ability and served as High
Priest in 1890. A staunch Christian, the precepts of Templarism appealed to
him and, in 1891, he was made a Knight Templar in Washington Commandery No. 1.
His unusually thorough knowledge of mechanical equipment caused him to be
appointed superintendent of the State, War, and Navy Building, one of the
largest structures in the country at that time. It was while holding this
assignment that he was honored by a post which he graced in such a manner as
to be an example to his successors, being elected Grand Master of the District
of Columbia Grand Lodge in 1896.
was promoted to the rank of Chief Engineer in 1892 and was transferred into
the line of the Navy with the rank of Commander in 1899, where he served as
Commander and later as Captain. In 1905 he was retired with the rank of Rear
Admiral. In January of 1922 he was appointed a member of Perry's Victory
Memorial Commission as a further mark of distinction.
Brother Baird's Masonic journey in the Scottish Rite started in Portugal in
1867, where he received the first fourteen degrees, and was continued via the
Rose Croix in Evangelist Chapter; he became a Knight of Kadosh in Robert de
Bruce Council, a member of Albert Pike Consistory, and reached his highest
elevation in 1906, when the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern
Jurisdiction of the United States, gave him the Thirty-third Degree.
his rise in Masonry was the well-deserved reward of a faithful worker, so it
was in the service of his country when, after more than forty years, the
government said to him, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," and
retired him with the rank of Rear Admiral, although he continued on active
duty until January, 1906. Not content to remain inactive when he still had the
vigor of a sailor, he turned his efforts to civil betterment and was president
of the Board of Education of the District of Columbia for several years.
Brother Baird is what may be called a "born Mason," as it was traditional in
his family that the males be entitled to wear the lambskin. His father,
grandfather, and three uncles on the paternal side and every man for eleven
generations back on the maternal side were members of the Craft. Age has not
caused him to relinquish any of the duties of Masonry, and his position as
Chairman (since 1900) of the Committee on Correspondence of the Grand Lodge is
held with pleasure to himself and genuine honor to the Fraternity. There is
none to gainsay that he has earned a place in the first rank and his comments
in Grand Lodge proceedings merit and receive general approval.
Historical Notes on Masonry in the Civil War
BRO. FRANK P. STRICKLAND, Kansas
This account of the differences of opinion among the Grand Lodges of the
United States in regard to Army Lodges and military Masonry in general at the
time of the Civil War will be very interesting as showing that very much the
same problems appeared then and were met in much the same haphazard way as
Bro. Irwin has depicted as occurring in the last war.
MASONRY is an Institution which, although it thrives in times of peace, yet
has always held an appeal for military men; and many of those who have served
it best have been warriors. Along with their battle-flags, soldiers have
carried the Square and Compass into many distant lands and diffused the
teachings of the Institution to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Many soldiers were members of the lodges which united to form the Grand Lodge
of England at the organization of Speculative Masonry in 1717; and the names
of soldiers have graced the rosters of countless lodges since that time.
Shortly after this organization purely military lodges came into existence.
The first of these, of which there is any definite record, was organized at
Gibraltar in 1728, by the Duke of Wharton - the first foreign lodge chartered
by the Grand Lodge of England. The formation of many other such lodges soon
During the period of the later American colonial wars many of the regiments
sent over from Great Britain contained these military lodges. Known variously
as "military," "army," "movable, " or " traveling, " lodges, they were
destined to play an important part in the development of American Masonry.
The Royal Art had been introduced into the American colonies sometime after
the organization in 1717, but its growth had not been rapid. The population of
the colonies was scanty and widely scattered, means of communication were
difficult, and the distances to be overcome were great; as a result the
Institution could do barely more than exist. Consequently, there was little
intercourse among the brethren and their ideas of cohesion were vague. But in
the campaigns in which the colonists were associated with the British
regulars, the colonial brethren had an opportunity of improving their Masonic
education through contact with the regimental lodges freshly arrived from the
cradle land of Masonry. The knowledge which they thus received they passed on
to their brethren and so generated a new spirit in them. Furthermore, there
were many colonists who received their first lessons in the Craft, and learned
to practice its mystic rites in these army lodges; and they also became torch
bearers of Masonry. Thus the colonial Masons, quickly appreciating the value
of the teachings of brotherhood and unity as exemplified by soldier Masons far
from home, became connecting links in a chain of education and encouragement
stretching from these army lodges to the outlying brethren, and even to
places where the light of Masonry did not, as yet, shine. Through their
activities their brethren were inspired to seek contacts with their
neighbors, to draw together toward a common end.
These early Masonic apostles not only taught their brethren and fellows the
necessity of pulling together, which was so signally exemplified later at
Bunker Hill and Yorktown, but they also originated and organized that spirit
of cohesion, that unity of purpose, which is so strong a characteristic of
American Masonry today. The story of the extraordinary services rendered the
American Institution by the military lodges of the Revolutionary War is too
well known to be inserted here. Masonry in America owes a great debt to the
obscure colonial Craftsmen, who, upon their knowledge gained in army lodges,
laid well the foundation stones not only of the Republic, but of the Order as
America advanced and expanded in the period of nationality, Masonry kept pace
with it; at the beginning of the Civil War the Institution had become a
mighty organization, with set forms of procedure and long established
customs. One of its outstanding and long held beliefs was the doctrine that
but one Grand Lodge could hold supreme authority in a state or territory;
that it could not assume jurisdiction of lodges in another political unit.
This doctrine, virtually unknown in Europe, had assumed almost the status of
an American landmark, and was jealously guarded. Consequently, when Grand
Bodies, upon the outbreak of the Civil War, became swamped with petitions for
authority to form army lodges at the front, many Grand Lodges, fearing an
infringement of the doctrine of Grand Lodge sovereignty, unhesitatingly
refused such authority; others, influenced, no doubt, by patriotism and
memories of the services rendered in the past by army lodges, as
unhesitatingly issued authority for such bodies.
There was a similar conflict of ideas in the matter of removing the time
limits between degrees in the ease of soldier applicants. As a result, there
developed a division of policy which caused considerable confusion in the
American Masonic Institution. The line of division between the two ideas was
not always a fixed one, as may be seen from a study of conditions year by
year, for, in several cases, Grand Lodges changed their belief and went over
to the other side.
THE BEGINNING OF THE CIVIL WAR
The first year of the war found the Grand Bodies struggling with the problem
which was suddenly thrust at them, and attempting to discover means of
solving it. It was a time of confusion, uncertainty and tangling of cross
currents of opinion; but among the first Grand Bodies to come to a decision
was that of Indiana, which, at its Annual Communication, May 27, 1861,
authorized the formation of army lodges in the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and
Twelfth Regiments of Indiana Volunteers.
The year 1862 began with the blunt announcement of Deputy Grand Master
Francis Darrow, at the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Michigan,
January 8, that he had refused to grant dispensations for military lodges "
for jurisdictional, constitutional and other reasons (1).'' Similar refusals
came from Texas and New Jersey. Speaking upon the subject of petitioners who
desired to take the degrees out of time, Grand Master Alvin B. Alden, of
Wisconsin, said (2):
The fact that such applicants had neglected to make their application until
they were about to be placed in positions of unusual danger did not furnish
conclusive evidence to my mind that they were wholly uninfluenced by unworthy
motives in offering themselves as candidates for masonry. The applicants,
having neglected to take the proper steps to become Masons prior to their
enlistment, are alone chargeable with such neglect, and have no right to
complain because the necessary safeguards which we have deemed proper to
throw around our Institution were not set aside for their benefit.
His further argument against these dispensations touched upon the fact that
when a man applies for admission into Masonry he justly expects, if admitted,
to receive all the rights, benefits and instruction appertaining thereto, and
the lodge, in consideration of the fee, is bound to confer these privileges;
but if there is not time enough granted, the lodge cannot properly confer
such privileges and the candidate, though granted the degrees, cannot prove
himself a Mason, and, consequently, cannot secure that which he sought.
During the year Grand Master Jacob Saqui, of Kansas, had refused to authorize
army lodges or to grant dispensations for conferring the degrees out of time
upon soldiers, as he did not believe a sufficient emergency existed. The
Grand Lodge of Arkansas likewise refused authority for such lodges, although,
during the recess following the Annual Communication, five military lodges
Although Grand Master James R. Bagley, of Oregon, had granted several
dispensations for conferring degrees out of time, he regretted his action, as
he found that, in most eases, these favors were either for men who, after
being initiated, had neglected to learn the work and desired such
dispensations to save time and trouble, or were for men who had lived a long
time in the jurisdiction of a lodge without caring enough about Masonry to
apply for the degrees until they were about to be placed in positions of
danger and thought that Masonry might help them.
the conflict continued during its second year, Indiana added twenty more army
lodges to its roster. Its example was followed by other Grand Bodies. The
Grand Master of Virginia even went out of his lawful jurisdiction to authorize
an army lodge in the Fifth Louisiana Volunteers, an act which aroused the ire
of Grand Master J.Q.A. Fellows, at the Annual Communication of Louisiana,
February 10, 1862 (3).
Grand Master Charles F. Stansbury, of the Grand Lodge of the District of
Columbia, also, apparently, invaded another jurisdiction, for he reported, at
a semi-annual Communication, May 6,1862, that he had authorized a military
lodge in the Fifty-ninth New York Regiment. He had also granted authority to
confer certain degrees out of time, a practice to which he we; opposed (4).
Some of the objections to army lodges may be summed up in the words of the
Committee on Correspondence of the Grand Lodge of Kansas. Commenting upon the
action of the Grand Lodge of New York in authorizing military lodges in three
regiments from that state, the Committee stated:
would regard the organization of the Masons of a regiment into a lodge for
social or Masonic improvement as proper enough; this would be a pleasing
relief from the tiresome duties of camp life; but we are opposed to granting
them full powers to confer the degrees of Masonry.
Military lodges may have been very proper at the time of the Revolution. But
in our humble opinion Masonry is too popular now; too many are seeking and
obtaining admission through unworthy motives. If permanent lodges, who have
ail the facilities for obtaining a correct knowledge of the applicant, fail
many times in their endeavors to select none but the really good and worthy,
what could we expect of a lodge in the midst of a community where each is a
stranger to the other, except for the few weeks they may have been together
as a regiment? We do not mean to infer that there are not plenty of persons
in the various regiments now in the field who would make the very best of
Masons, but we cannot see the propriety of sending lodges to hunt them out
The closing hours of 1862 saw the senior Grand Lodge of America throwing the
weight of its prestige into the scales on the side of the soldier Mason. In
the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for the year ending
December 30, 1862, Grand Master William D. Coolidge reported:
For this state of war there is no precedent, nor is there precedent for such
an influx into the Institution from the army; of those, who from the
circumstances of the case, must be made at sight, the prerogative alone of
the Grand Master - as I am taught by a strict examination of the ancient
landmarks, and the best counsel of the wise and prudent whom we all revere. I
have met this pressure readily and earnestly, for it has been made by those
whose patriotic impulses have led them forth to battle for their country; to
stand for you and me and bare their breasts to the bullet aimed at the
nation's heart, and I could not flnd it in my own, to refuse any aid, comfort
or protection which I might be instrumental in throwing around them (6).
had, accordingly, authorized a subordinate lodge to waive the time limit
between degrees to the extent that, in five consecutive hours, the petitions
of one hundred and thirteen soldier candidates were received, balloted upon,
and all the degrees conferred. This wholesale dealing in the Mysteries
aroused a storm of disapproval, not only in Massachusetts, but also in other
Grand Jurisdictions. Grand Secretary O'Sullivan, of Missouri, expressed his
objection in strong language:
And so, without more ado, the Grand Master issues his dispensation, setting
aside all the requirements of the Constitution of his Grand Lodge, which he
covenanted to support, by which one hundred and thirteen men were proposed,
balloted for, initiated, passed and raised - "all within five consecutive
hours", we deny, utterly deny, the existence of any landmark authorizing this
wholesale manufacture of Masons. It does not exist. Not the most complaisant
Grand Master England has produced, even when royalty was to be made, ever
exercised such authority. It has remained for the oldest Grand Lodge in
America, occupying a front rank for her Masonic talent and respectability, to
set an example which others will not be slow to imitate; setting aside the
Constitution, requirements, usage - everything which appeared like a barrier
is swept away, and the mandate goes forth that one hundred and thirteen men
may be entered, passed and raised within five consecutive hours, in spite of
law, covenants, usage or common sense. We imagine the Grand Master quoting
the words of the great cardinal, "The pen is mightier than the sword." But we
are told with the utmost complacency that they were nearly all officers. We
care not if they were all brigadiers. It does not alter the case a whit (7).
curious illustration of the confusion into which Masonry was thrown by the
eruption of the Civil War occurred on February 12, 1862, when the Grand Lodge
of the District of Columbia authorized the formation of a lodge in the city
of Alexandria, in the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Virginia. It was set
forth that there were no lodges working in that city at that time, that no
charters or other property of lodges formerly working there could be found,
that the Masons there had been cut off from all Masonic privileges, and that,
finally, the Grand Lodge of Virginia had forbidden those working in its
jurisdiction to recognize, or hold Masonic intercourse with Masons who
adhered to the Union. The Masons of the District of Columbia felt that
Virginia, in withdrawing recognition of loyal brethren, had waived its rights
to them; that they were to be considered as living in Masonically vacant
territory, the property of the first jurisdiction securing them. The District
of Columbia therefore felt no compunction in taking them. To show that no
attempt was being made to encroach upon the jurisdiction of Virginia, it was
. . should these unhappy National differences be composed, and Virginia
assume her former place in this great and glorious union, her Grand Lodge
will be restored to her authority over all lodges within her geographical
limits. The temporary warrant will be resigned to her, and her right of
jurisdiction acknowledged by the fraternity here and everywhere (8).
Incidentally, there was some abuse of this dispensation, for Grand Master
Ijovell Moore, of Michigan, complained, January 11, 1865, that this lodge
was conferring degrees upon men from all parts of the country (9). Upon the
return of Virginia to the Union, this lodge was returned to her Grand Lodge.
The year of Vicksburg and Gettysburg found many Grand Bodies still standing
firmly opposed to the idea of military Masonry. Among the Grand Lodges which
believed that there was no place in the Order for the army lodge, and that,
in war, as in peace, petitions should take their regular course, were those
of Vermont, Maine, California, Kentucky, Minnesota and Washington Territory.
At the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, October 20, 1863,
there was some opposition, among the members, to the practice of the Grand
Master in authorizing the conferring of the degrees out of time; doubt was
even expressed as to his right to do so. Chairman Thrall, of the Committee
on Correspondence, set forth the belief that
Laws and landmarks operate with equal force, as well upon the Grand Master
himself, clothed in all the plentitude of authority, as upon the youngest
Entered Apprentice of the lodge. It is the business of the Grand Master to
look to the enforcement of the laws, and not to dispense with their
observance, or grant indulgences for their infraction (10)
The report of Grand Master Jacob Saqui, at the Annual Communication, October
21, 1863, summed up the sentiments of Kansas:
have had a number of applications from subordinate lodges for authority to
elect a candidate and confer the degrees at the same meeting, and I have
invariably refused to grant any dispensations for such a purpose, because I
do not believe that the established usages of the fraternity ought to be set
aside except on very particular occasions and I hold that a Grand Master is
never justified in granting such a dispensation unless on satisfactory proof
that the Order will be benefitted thereby, and not merely an applicant
accommodated. The laws of Masonry should be suspended for the convenience of
no human being. There are lodges in every town and village of every State in
the Union, and no man can say that he had not an opportunity to seek
admission into the Order. Whoever, then, neglected to avail himself of the
privilege until he discovered that Masonry would be useful should not be
guided to the sanctum sanctorum by a dispensation; besides, work performed in
such a hurried manner as the application for a dispensation necessarily
implies, is a discredit to the lodge and an injustice to the initiate (11).
the other hand, Indiana and New York continued to increase their collections
of army lodges; Illinois authorized the formation of six, and New Hampshire
of three such lodges. In Iowa a large number of dispensations to confer
degrees out of time upon soldiers had been granted, as was also the ease in
Rhode Island; but Grand Master Ariel Ballou, of the latter Grand Lodge, did
not approve of the matter as he thought that the motives of the applicants
The Grand Lodge of Michigan, which, in the previous year, had been flatly
opposed to military Masonry, now executed an "about face," and authorized the
removal of the time limit between degrees in the ease of soldier applicants
about to leave for the front - an act which drew the fire of the Committee
on Correspondence of Kansas:
Now this may seem all right and proper to some, but we must confess we can't
see the propriety under the circumstances, now, more than at any previous
time. We are quite willing at all times to confer all possible favors upon
those who are fighting our country's battles; but to hurriedly confer the
degrees of Masonry upon a person, because he is about to leave for "the seat
of war," we consider an injury to the person as well as to the Institution.
Many of the persons, too, receiving the degrees in this manner are persons
who have lived for years within the sound of the gavel, and have never once
thought of joining a lodge, until suddenly, as they are about to leave for
the seat of war, they remember that they have long entertained a favorable
opinion of the ancient and honorable Order, and almost demand an immediate
admission. Ostensibly, they are actuated by a sincere desire to be
serviceable to their fellow man, but we fear personal benefit is too often
their real incentive to action; and fortunate will it be for us, if there are
not many now receiving the degrees, whom we shall soon wish had not been
the end of the year Massachusetts had eleven army lodges under charter, and
was being flooded with petitions for admission. Grand Master William Parkman
had continued the practice, established by his predecessors, of dispensing
with the time limit between degrees, in the ease of soldiers, but he did so
with misgiving, and thought the practice ought to be stopped.
we can see that, even in those Grand Bodies which freely favored the military
applicant, a doubt was beginning to develop as to the wisdom of the
GRAND LODGES CHANGE THEIR ATTITUDE
the war progressed and its fourth year opened and the evils of military
Masonry began to appear, those Grand Lodges which had held aloof from the
soldier Mason saw their course justified. Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota and
other Grand Bodies, which had not been swayed by the importunities of the
army applicants, pursued the even tenor of their way, unruffled as yet by
the complications which were shortly to follow. On the other hand, however,
among those Grand Bodies which had conferred favors upon the military Mason,
that element of doubt concerning the wisdom of their course, which, in 1863,
had crept into their deliberations, now assumed, in 1864, large proportions
and influenced many of them to take steps to curtail the flow of favors.
Masonry in New York completely abandoned its place in the ranks of the
"liberals," so to speak, and took its place in the column of the
"conservatives." At its Annual Communication, in 1864, Grand Master Clinton
F. Paige announced that he did not regard army lodges with favor, and,
considering the manner in which those already authorized had functioned, he
had decided that the objections far exceeded the advantages; as a result of
which he had refused authority for any more such lodges, and had also
declined to grant any dispensations for conferring degrees out of time. He
believed, with regard to army lodges, that
Aside from the question of expediency, there is an unsurmountable objection
in my mind, in the fact, that when the military organization to which such
lodge is attached removes beyond the limits of our own State, an infringement
of the jurisdictional rights of other Grand Lodges is inevitable and
Grand Master Alvin P. Hyde, of Connecticut, refused to grant any
dispensations unless the act received the unanimous consent of the local
lodge requesting the dispensation, and even then he thought it bad practice.
The Grand Lodge of Maine sought to curtail the flow of privileges by setting
a price of three dollars for each dispensation to hurry candidates through
the degrees. Even in Kansas, where the privilege of the dispensation had
never been abused, Grand Master Saqui thought a fee of twenty-five dollars
ought to be charged for such authority; the Grand Lodge, however, feeling
that the privilege had never been overworked, tabled the suggestion.
Grand Master Alvin B. Alden, attributing the rapid increase of the Order in
Wisconsin to carelessness upon the part of the subordinate lodges, suggested,
as a remedy for the "rushing through act," an increase in fees, and an edict
prohibiting the conferring of degrees in less than the statutory time. He was
opposed to army lodges, and still further opposed to their making Masons of
men from jurisdictions other than the one granting them authority. He called
attention to complaints of subordinate lodges regarding citizens of Wisconsin
who had returned from the army claiming to have received the degrees in
military lodges, some of these complaints referring to persons who had
previously petitioned and been rejected before leaving home, and others to
those whose moral and social standing were such that it would have been
useless to have applied at home. His Grand Lodge ruled that a candidate could
not be advanced within twenty days after receiving a preceding degree, and
then only upon passing a creditable examination. It also demanded that Grand
Lodges authorizing military lodges should limit the authority of the latter
to persons outside the jurisdiction of Wisconsin.
Grand Master Parkman, of Massachusetts, still viewing with alarm the
continued influx of new material, made an effort to slow up the flow of
candidates by insisting that each petition be received at a stated
communication of a lodge; but even with this restriction, he had granted one
hundred and fifty-six dispensations during the year. He did not think the
material thus gathered into the fold was of any considerable value, as few
such persons became contributing members, while most of them took what little
Masonry they had thus acquired into the army, where it was quickly forgotten.
Grand Master Leverett B. Englesby, of Vermont, thought that the practice of
subordinate lodges in encouraging the speedy advancement of candidates ought
to be stopped.
Grand Master Thomas Sparrow, of Ohio, now rose to inquire:
Has this rapid increase of members strengthened the tie of brotherhood, which
is the foundation and cap stone, cement and glory of this ancient fraternity?
Has it made us more industrious in furnishing the corn of nourishment to the
hungry, the wine of refreshment to the sick, or the oil of joy to the
afflicted? Has it sharpened the glorious strife of excelling each other in
all the qualifications which should characterize our profession as Masons?
Has this vast enlargement of the edifice added to its strength or symmetry?
Has its interior been made to correspond in harmony and beauty with the
magnitude and splendor of its external appearance?
has been well said: "They mistake the nature of the Masonic Institution, who
estimate its strength by its numbers, or measure its prosperity by the length
of the roll of its initiates. These are not the standards by which either the
one or the other is to be determined. Its strength is in its principle, and
its prosperity in the character of its members (14).
also went on to say:
should be understood by the officers and members of subordinate lodges - once
and for all - that lodges are created for the benefit of Masons, and not for
the accommodation of candidates; that there are no eases of emergency in this
jurisdiction, and that no lodge has the power to make them, that every
petition must take its regular course (15).
was strenuously opposed to military lodges because of their total disregard
for the regulations prescribed for their government. His Grand Lodge
supported him to the extent of repealing the regulations, adopted in 1861,
authorizing military lodges among Ohio troops, and instructing subordinate
lodges to repeal any sections of their by-laws authorizing eases of
Michigan continued to shower its favors upon army candidates, Grand Master J.
Eastman Johnson having granted authority to waive the time limit in one
hundred and thirty-three cases. At the Annual Communication, January 13,
1864, his Grand Lodge, however, was considerably wrought up by the action of
Grand Master Thomas Saddler, of Kentucky, who had authorized the conferring
of degrees out of time upon a number of soldiers of the Eleventh Michigan
Regiment - properly the material of the Grand Lodge of Michigan. Brother
Saddler, it appeared, had granted this authority upon the recommendation of
Colonel S. B. Brown, regimental commander, who was also Deputy Grand Master
of Michigan; in addition, the Master, both Wardens and eleven members of
Evergreen Lodge, No. 9, of St. Clair, Michigan, had recommended the petition.
And so, as the evils of military Masonry became plainly manifest and evident,
Grand Bodies began to look with dismay and chagrin upon the havoc that had
been, and was being wrought, and to cast about for means of checking it and
of repairing the damage that was resulting. The future looked black and
foreboding. In the words of Grand Master Thomas Hayward, of Florida, to his
When this war is ended, and the blessings of peace are again our happy lot,
you will have much to do in your different lodges to correct the vices and
improprieties which generally follow a year or more in camp (16).
THE AFTERMATH OF THE WAR
the fires of the great Civil War burned out, the confusion of Masonry
continued, but sentiment among Grand Bodies definitely turned against the
army Mason. Instead of the warm brotherly greeting formerly extended him in
many Grand Lodges he now met coldness, mistrust and suspicion. In Michigan,
stronghold of army Masonry since 1862, there now developed outspoken
opposition to the institution, and Grand Master Lovell Moore refused a large
number of dispensations requested for soldiers. He even went so far as to
regard as clandestine Masons a number of Michigan soldiers, home on furlough,
who claimed to have been made in an army lodge in Mississippi working under
the jurisdiction of Indiana, for the reason that Indiana could not authorize a
lodge to work in the jurisdiction of another Grand Lodge, nor to make Masons
of persons belonging to the jurisdiction of Michigan.
Even Indiana, a strong supporter of military Masonry from the beginning of
the war, now began to doubt the expediency of the army lodge, especially as
other Grand Bodies were making complaints similar to that of Michigan in
regard to the activities of Indiana's military offspring; while in Maine,
requests for dispensations favoring the soldier ceased, the subordinate
lodges having no desire to pay the fee of three dollars, fixed the previous
year, for such favors. Grand Master William S. Whitehead, of New Jersey,
insisted that all petitions take their regular course, without favors to
anyone. But although the pendulum was now swinging away from the army-made
Masons, yet that fact did not dispose of them. They existed, and in large
numbers. Something, apparently, had to be done with them. But what? Were they
to be recognized as regular Masons and taken into the fold ? Or were they to
be permanently classed as clandestines ?
Review, Proc. Mich., 1862, in Proc. Kans., 1862, p. 319.
Review, Proc. Wis., 1862, in Proc. Kans., 1863, p. 406.
Review, Proc. La., 1862, in Proc. Kans., 1862, p. 317.
Review, Proc. D. of C., 1862, in Proc. Kans., 1863, p. 388.
Review, Proc. N. Y., 1862, in Proc. Kans., 1862, pp. 322-3.
Review, Proc. Mass., 1862, in Proc Kans., 1863, p. 398.
Review, Proc. Mass., 1862, in Proc. Kans., 1863, p. 399.
Review, Proc. D. of C., 1862, in Proc. Kans, 1863, p. 388.
Review, Proc. Mich., 1865, in Proc. Kans., 1865, p. 549.
Review, Proc. Ohio, 1863, in Proc. Kans., 1864, p. 477.
Address, G. M. Jacob Saqui, in Proc. Kans., 1863, p. 333.
Review, Proc. Mich., 1863, in Proc. Kans., 1863, p. 400.
Review, Proc. N. Y., 1864, in Proc. Kans., 1864, p. 475.
Review, Proc. Ohio, 1864, in Proc. Kans., 1865, p. 555.
Review, Proc. Fla., 1864, in Proc. Kans., 1866, p. 87.
Sir Christopher Wren: Architect and Mason
By BRO. G. C. KIRBY
This paper was read before the Toronto Society for Masonic Study and Research,
and is now presented to the wider circle of members of the National Masonic
Research Society through the good offices of Bro. N. W. J. Haydon, Associate
Editor of THE BUILDER and also Secretary of the Toronto body.
1924 Bro. William B. Bragdon contributed a short article on the same subject,
which will be found in the November number of THE BUILDER for that year. Bro.
Bragdon, though inclined to believe that Wren was very probably connected with
the Fraternity did not discuss the late R. F. Gould's arguments against this.
These will be found in the twelfth chapter of his history. Gould's authority
naturally carries very great weight, but while we may agree that he has quite
demolished the supposition that Wren was a Grand Master of the Craft, he is
not so convincing in denying that Wren could have been a speculative or
honorary member. At least the possibility remains to intrigue us.
STUDY of the lives of prominent men in the 17th century may afford clues to
the unknown history of Freemasonry in a very interesting period. The subject
of the present article is Sir Christopher Wren, the great English architect.
was born at East Knoyle, near Tisbury in Wiltshire, on October 20, 1632. His
father was also named Christopher. He was a clergyman of the Established
Church, and at the time of his son's birth was the Incumbent of the parish of
East Knoyle. A brother, Matthew Wren, was at the time Dean of Windsor. Later,
when he was preferred to the see of Ely, Christopher Wren, senior, was made
Dean of Windsor in his stead, and was also appointed as Chaplain to Charles I.
His wife was Mary Cox of Fonthill Abbey. She died when her son was only two
years old. The elder Christopher lived until his son was twenty-six years old.
Both he and his brother, the Bishop of Ely, suffered much under the
Parliamentary regime on account of their loyalty to the king.
When Wren was eleven years old he was instructed in mathematics by the famous
mathematician, William Holder, who had married his father's sister, Susan
Wren. At the age of nine he was sent to Westminster School, where he remained
until he was fourteen. Here he was under the tuition of the famous Dr. Busby.
Between leaving school and going to college he became assistant to Dr.
Scarborough, and studied anatomy.
1649 he went to Oxford, entering Wadham College as a Gentleman- Commoner. Here
he was under John Wilkins, afterwards Bishop of Chester, graduating as B.A. on
March 18, 1650, and as M.A. on December 11, 1653. He was elected a Fellow of
All Souls College and stayed there until 1657, when he was appointed to the
Chair of Astronomy at Gresham College, London. On February 5, 1660, he was
elected Professor of Astronomy at Oxford, and in 1661 he graduated D.C.L. at
Oxford, and L.L.D. at Cambridge. From this it will be seen that he was an
extremely clever young man. He seemed capable of everything; at one time he
prepared drawings of insects, microscopically enlarged, for Charles II. He
also invented a horse- drawn seeding machine to plant seeds after ploughing
and harrowing. Another of his efforts was an illustration showing the
graphical construction of solar and lunar eclipses, and most remarkable of
all, he experimented with the transfusion of blood from one animal to another.
Wren took a prominent part in the formation of the Royal Society, and after
the King gave his approval on December 5, 1660, the drafting of the preamble
of the Charter was entrusted to him. He was a constant attendant at the Royal
Society meetings for more than twenty years, and it was only the pressure of
his architectural business that prevented him attending in later years.
1666 he invented an exceedingly simple form of Level, "for taking the horizon
every way in a circle, " the main principle of which was a bowl having the lip
accurately turned and provided with a ball and socket joint, so that when a
drop of quicksilver was adjusted to the center, the lip should lie level in
every direction. He had found the necessity of some such instrument in his
surveying and building work. A report on the labors of the Royal Society in
1667 by Bishop Spratt specially commends Wren 's labors. It speaks of his work
on the "doctrines of motion," caused by globous bodies meeting each other,
such as billiard balls, etc. This report mentions also his having devised a
clock to be annexed to a weather cock, so that the observer, by the traces of
a pencil on paper might certainly conclude what winds had blown in his
absence. Dr. Spratt further adds: "Wren has invented many ways to make
astronomical observations more accurate and easy."
Although as a natural philosopher Wren was overshadowed by the genius of
Newton, as an English architect he stands above his competitors. In some
particulars, Inigo Jones may have surpassed him, but if a comprehensive view
is taken, the first place must be adjudged to Wren. The relative merits of Sir
Christopher Wren and Inigo Jones might well be the subject of further
discussion our Research Society. The first definite information receive of his
applying himself professionally to architecture is his accepting in his
twenty-ninth year, the invitation from Charles II to act practically as
Surveyor-General to His Majesty's works, though nominally as Assistant Sir
John Denham. The two earliest original works we hear of are the chapel of
Pembroke College, Cambridge, built at the expense of his uncle, Matthew Wren,
and the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford. The interior of Pembroke Chapel was very
simple, but of good general proportions. It exhibits a lack of familiarity
with architectural detail, not surprising for a young man's first attempt.
When in 1665, ordinary business in London and other parts of England were
interrupted by the Great Plague, Wren went to Paris for six months, and
studied Sieur de Cambray's "Parallel, " and other French works of an
architectural nature. Up to the time of the fire of London, his architectural
work had not taken his entire time, and he was able to attend to his
philosophical pursuits to a considerable extent.
The great fire of London raged from September 2nd to September 8th, 1666, and
the best account of this fire can be found in Pepys' Diary. This account is
given in an appendix at the end of this paper.
Before the embers of the great fire had cooled, Wren as virtual
Surveyor-General, felt that it was his duty to prepare a scheme for the
rebuilding of the City. On September 12th, he laid before the King a sketch
plan of his design for the restoration of London. A copy of this plan, after
he made some additions, can be seen today at All Souls College, Oxford.
Unfortunately, the plan was too magnificent for the money available, and was
never carried out. Doing the next best thing, he found employment enough in
rebuilding a Cathedral, more than fifty Parish Churches, thirty-six of the
Companies' Halls, the Customs House, and several private houses and provincial
works. For his architectural work on St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Parish
Churches, the stipend he asked for was 300 pounds per year. After Denham's
death in November, 1669, he was appointed Surveyor-General of the Royal Works.
Regarding St. Paul's Cathedral, the old building damaged by the fire was in a
very insecure condition, and Wren had previously made several reports on the
same. After the fire, in July, 1668, some partial repair work on the Cathedral
collapsed when Wren was at Oxford, and it was then decided to build a new
Cathedral. In 1670, Parliament assigned a portion of the coal tax, namely, 4
1/2d. per chaldron annually for the rebuilding of the famous edifice.
Being satisfied that money would be forthcoming, Wren devoted himself to
forming a design worthy of the occasion. In 1672 he was knighted, and in 1673
he submitted his first design to the King, who greatly approved it. However,
it was not easy sailing and much clerical opposition was brought to bear
against the plan, on account of its being different from the usual Cathedral
shape. The Duke of York sided with the clergy, and insisted on many side
chapels. The idea being to make the building specially suited for Roman
Catholic services. Finally both parties were satisfied and a number of chapels
were included, most of which are now in use.
Twenty-two years after the commencement of the work, it was so far advanced
that the choir area could be opened for services. Nineteen years later Wren
was dismissed from its superintendence, and the Cathedral was reported as
finished, as no doubt it was in the main essentials. Meanwhile, about 1680, he
had been much engaged in the restoration in and around Temple Bar which had
also been damaged by the fire. Another of Wren's best works, the Ashmolean
Museum at Oxford, was completed in 1683, and in 1684 he was appointed
Comptroller of Works at Windsor Castle. He then went into polities and was
returned as Member for Plympton on April 20, 1685, in James II's first
Parliament. He was also chosen as Member for Windsor in March, 1689, in
William and Mary's first Parliament, but the return was declared void and he
never took his seat in the House.
the fifty-two churches in and around London that he designed, two of the best
still remain, as far as I am aware, namely, Saint Mary- at-Hill and Saint
Clement Danes. His church work showed very great skill in adapting buildings
to irregular sites. In 1698 he was appointed Surveyor to Westminster Abbey and
carried out very important repairs to that great fabric. He held this
appointment until his death.
Having been appointed by the Stuarts to the office of Surveyor- General, Wren
retained the Royal Favor unclouded through the reigns of William and Mary, and
Queen Anne, but after the accession of the Hanoverian family in 1714, the
jealousies which his high position had created were able to prevail against
him. He was superseded as Surveyor-General in 1718, by William Benson. He
possibly felt the blow coming, as he had gone into almost complete retirement
since 1708, a date which I would like you to please remember. He had married
twice, first in December, 1669, Faith, the daughter of Sir John Coghill, and
secondly, Jane, the daughter of Lord FitzWilliam, in 1676.
February, 1723, he contracted a severe chill, and he died on February 25,
1723, in his ninety-first year. He was buried on March 5th, in St. Paul's
Cathedral, under the South Aisle of the Choir, near the East end.
Having thus dealt with the life of this illustrious man from a biographical
standpoint, we will now consider whether or not he belonged to the ancient and
honorable Fraternity of Freemasons.
The Book of Constitutions, published in 1738, says that Wren was a freemason
and a Grand Master of the Fraternity. As the title of "Grand Master" is
popularly supposed to have started with the Grand Lodge of 1717, and as we
know that Wren was in almost complete retirement in 1717, grave doubts have
been cast as to whether Wren was ever a freemason, much less a Grand Master.
The late R. F. Gould, in his history of Freemasonry, disputes the statement
made in the Book of Constitutions of 1738, that Wren was a Freemason and a
Grand Master. Nobody doubted the facts until 1887, when Gould devoted many
pages to the subject.
may seem bold to take issue with such an eminent authority as our late brother
Gould, but great writers have been known to make mistakes before, and we hope
to show that he was mistaken in this matter. The term "We" in the foregoing
paragraph is somewhat extravagant, and like that famous Trans-Atlantic flier,
Lindbergh and his aeroplane, by "We" I refer to myself and the authorities
from whom I quote.
Anderson was responsible for the Book of Constitutions of 1738, which credited
Sir Christopher Wren as being a Freemason and a Grand Master, we should
remember the following seven facts:
Anderson was the official writer for the Grand Lodge of 1717.
Whilst there are some obvious errors in Anderson's works, his eminent position
entitles him to some respect.
Anderson was in close touch with the prominent brethren who brought the Grand
Lodge into being.
He had before him, when he prepared his Book of Constitutions, nearly all the
papers available dealing with Masonic history.
He had the assistance of Geo. Payne, Dr. Desaguliers, and other famous men
familiar with history of the previous thirty years.
Notwithstanding the fact that some documents used by Anderson in compiling his
history, have become lost, there remains auxiliary evidence for the main point
The editions of the Books of Constitutions of 1723 and 1738, were approved of
and adopted by the Grand Lodge.
Gould's main argument against Sir Christopher Wren being a Freemason, is that
the assertion only appears in the second Book of Constitutions, dated 1738,
while the first edition of 1723 makes no mention of it. one answer to this is
that the omission of facts which it is being assumed that everyone knows, is a
common occurrence in histories of all kinds. But another, and weightier one,
is that in the earlier work Anderson seems to be chiefly concerned with the
progress of architecture, while nothing that he says of Wren is inconsistent
with his having known that he was a Mason.
Perhaps the reason why Wren was not definitely said to be a Mason in the first
Book of Constitutions of 1723, was that for many years prior to that he had
suffered the criticism of many young and even middle-aged fellow architects,
who were jealous of his long monopoly of the principal architectural
commissions. As previously mentioned, at the age of eighty-six years he was
dismissed from the Surveyor-General's position, not for inability, but simply
because he was an appointee of the Stuarts and the Hanoverians were in power.
One can readily imagine the stories that would circulate among the Operative
Masons and the artisans who had labored with him so long in and about Old St.
Paul's Churchyard, when it became known that he had lost the royal favor.
The rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral was completed in 1710, and a slump in
the building trade followed, which gradually became worse and worse. Wren
could do nothing to help his old workmen, as no money was forthcoming for
building work. Even the money taken out of the tax on coal had ceased. The
slackness in the building trade probably had a good deal to do with the demand
for a supreme body, afterwards known as a Grand Lodge; for in my opinion, the
thought lying back in the minds of the agitators for a supreme body, was work
and food, rather than mere speculative Masonry. We know that what we are
pleased to call Speculative Masonry, did exist at this time, as I shall
hereafter prove, but it was not the main thing in the minds of the members of
the lodges at the time. Thus arose the movement whereby four out of the then
lodges existing took it upon themselves to organize the supreme body
afterwards known as Grand Lodge. The first Book of Constitutions was already
printed on January 17, 1723, and it was on sale when Sir Christopher Wren died
thirty-eight days later.
Anderson described the organization of a Grand Lodge as a "revival of the
drooping lodges of London," and elsewhere states that King Charles II was a
"great-encourager of the craftsmen because he founded the present St. Paul's
Cathedral conducted by that ingenious Architect, Sir Christopher Wren." There
is a strong inference here that Wren was one of the Craft.
Regarding the statement that Wren was a Grand Master, we find that Anderson
mentioned it in 1738. On February 24, 1738, the Grand Lodge chose a Committee
to revise the Book of Constitutions of 1723, and on March 31st, 1738, Anderson
was requested to "print the names of all the Grand Masters that could be
Being somewhat of a diplomat, Anderson did not elaborate on the events which
led up to the revolt of the four lodges and the formation of Grand Lodge, but
he has this brief statement in his Book of Constitutions of 1738: "Sir
Christopher Wren, continued as Grand Master until 1708, when his neglect of
the office caused the Lodges to be more and more disused." Please remember
that this statement appeared in the list of Grand Masters, and was approved of
by Grand Lodge before being printed.
will now give Anderson a rest, and examine evidence from other sources showing
that Sir Christopher Wren was a freemason.
old London newspaper, the Postboy, in its second issue after Wren's death,
announced that he was to be interred on March 5th, and described him as "that
worthy Freemason. " The Postboy was evidently a newspaper largely read by
Freemasons because at that time it carried an advertisement that the newly
published Book of Constitions was on sale. It is very improbable that a
newspaper read in Masonic circles would make a mistake by calling Wren a
freemason, if he were not one.
The next evidence of Wren being a Freemason is found in a note made by a well
known author and antiquary, John Aubrey, in 1690, in his work on the Natural
History of Wiltshire. The original MS. is now in the Bodleian Library at
Oxford, and there is another copy, made by Aubrey himself, at Burlington
House. This copy was made at the request of the Royal Society. The statement
referred to is as follows:
Mdm, this day [May the 18th being Monday] [after Rogation Sunday] is a great
convention at St. Paul's Church of the Fraternity of the Free [Accepted]
Masons: Where Sir Christopher Wren is to be adopted a Brother: and Sir Henry
Goodrie of ye Tower, and divers others. There have been Kings, that were of
Sr. William Dugdale told me many years since, that about Henry the third's
Pope gave a Bull or diploma [Patents] to a Company of Italian Architects
[Freemasons] to travels up and downe all over Europe to build Churches. From
those are derived the Fraternity of Free- Masons [Adopted-Masons].
They are known to one another by certayn Signes & [Marks] and Watch-words, it
continues to this day. They have severall Lodges in severall Counties for
their reception: and when any of them fall into decay, the brotherhood is to
relieve him &c.
The manner of their Adoption is very formall, and with an Oath of Secrecy.
the earlier MS. this is an interpolated note on the backs of two of the
sheets; in the later copy it has been incorporated into the text. In its
earlier form the note had itself been revised. Mdm., is an abbreviation for
Meridiem, "at mid-day." The words in italics placed between square brackets
have been written in above those which preceded them. The word "Free" was
crossed out, "Accepted" taking its place. The word Marks was also crossed out.
The other emendations stand apparently as alternatives. All this correcting
was done unmistakably in Aubrey's own hand.
Nothing is known of how Aubrey came to be told of the coming "Convention," but
the Sir William Dugdale whom he mentions had a daughter who was the wife of
Elias Ashmole, of whom we know for a certainty that he was a member of the
Craft, from the well-known entries in his diary. Now if Wren was known to have
taken part in the Masonic gathering of 1690, the notion of his being a
Freemason could not have been imagined by the editor or reporters of the
Postboy in 1723, nor by Anderson in 1738. The worth of Aubrey's memoranda
surely lies in the fact that it was written without ulterior motives.
From 1690 to 1844, this information lay undisturbed in a forgotten manuscript
describing the County of Wiltshire - we may recall that Wren had been born in
Wiltshire - and it was by an accident that the late Mr. Halliwell made its
discovery. It is evident that the Royal Society members were not enthused
about the History of Wiltshire or the information would not have lain
neglected so long.
The next source of information showing that Wren was a Freemason comes from
Preston's Illustrations of Masonry. The chief objection brought against
Preston was that in each edition of his History he generally gave some
additional details. Whilst this, of course, looks like romancing, it was
really due to his keenness to show in his history every scrap of information
that he picked up as time went on.
Preston's 1775 edition of the Illustrations of Masonry, he says: "Wren
presided over the old lodge of St. Paul's during the building of the
Cathedral." In his 1792 edition he says that the mallet used in laying the
foundation stone of St. Paul 's was a gift of Sir Christopher Wren himself,
and that "during his presidency he presented to the lodge three mahogany
The oldest of the lodges which joined together in organizing the Grand Lodge
of 1717 was Lodge No. 1, the lodge of Antiquity, formerly called Old St.
Paul's. The mallet preserved there was an interesting relic and very highly
prized. The candlesticks given by Sir Christopher Wren were of great value as
proving that there certainly was some speculative Masonry prior to 1717.
Preston also says that "according to the records of the lodge of Antiquity" in
1663 and after, Wren "attended the meetings of the lodge," and also that Wren
patronized the said lodge "for eighteen years," by which he may have meant
that he was Worshipful Master, or some equivalent officer.
Let us consider for a moment what Aubrey meant when he said in 1690 that Wren
was to be "Adopted a Brother." Preston and Anderson said, Wren was a principal
officer of the Fraternity since 1663. These two authorities unite in making
Wren Grand Master in 1685 when he was fifty-three years old. Therefore what
could Aubrey have meant when he said Wren was to be "adopted" in 1690? This
word "Adopted" could not have meant "Initiated." As Aubrey was not a Mason, he
would scarcely know the difference between "initiating" and "installing." It
is clear that some Masonic function took place in 1690 and Wren took a
conspicuous part in it.
Gould himself points out that in 1690 the old St. Paul's Lodge became a Stated
lodge instead of an Occasional lodge, and in my opinion the event mentioned by
Aubrey was the big day when the change took effect.
Samuel Prichard, one of the Fraternity's greatest enemies, in his book Masonry
Dissected, published in 1730, makes this remark: "No constituted Lodges or
Quarterly Communications were heard of till 1690, when lords, dukes, lawyers
and shopkeepers and other inferior tradesmen, porters not excepted, were
admitted into this mystery or no mystery."
have to apologize for quoting Samuel Prichard, but the date he mentions is
confirmatory evidence that Aubrey's mention of the convention in 1690 is
correct. It would seem, therefore, that the "adoption" of Wren at that
convention was nothing more or less than his re-election as grand Master,
whilst "Sir Henry Goodric of ye Tower, and divers others," were probably the
officers appointed and invested on that occasion.
precedent for the reselection of a Grand Master can be found in the ease of
Inigo Jones, Worshipful Master, so to speak, of the Old St. Paul's Lodge,
which met at the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in St. Paul 's Churchyard.
According to the Nicholas Stone MS., Inigo Jones had once combined the two
offices of Surveyor-General and President of the Masonic Fraternity, ceasing
to hold the latter title in 1618, but subsequently being "re-elected."
1764, there was published The Compleat Freemason, or Multa Paucis for Lovers
of Secrets. The following is an extract from that work:
1710, in the eighth year of the reign of Queen Anne, our Worthy Grand Master
Wren, who had drawn the design of St. Paul's, had the honour to see it
finished in a magnificent taste, and to celebrate, with the Fraternity, the
Capestone of so noble and large a Temple.
Wren's son, Christopher Wren, in his book Parentalta, wrote as follows:
The highest or last stone on the top of the lantern, was laid by the hand of
the Surveyor's son, Christopher Wren, deputed by his Father, in the presence
of that excellent artificer, Mr. Strong, his Son, and other Free and Accepted
Masons, chiefly employed in the execution of the work.
Sir Christopher was then seventy-eight years of age, he was unable to ascend
to the dizzy heights at the top of the lantern above the cupola of St. Paul's.
The Rev. F. deP. Castells, to whom I am indebted for much information, informs
us that in 1917 or thereabouts he had seen, among the records of the Lodge of
Antiquity, minutes of a meeting held on June 3, 1723, which read as follows:
The set of mahogany candlesticks presented to this Lodge by its Worthy Old
Master, Sir Christopher Wren, ordered to be carefully deposited in a wooden
case lin'd with cloth to be Immediately purchased for the purpose.
The reason for this particular minute was that Wren had died about three
months previously, and they were anxious to carefully keep these symbolic
gifts from so eminent a man.
This last piece of evidence is the crowning proof that Wren was a Freemason,
and I understand that the Lodge Minutes which I have just read can be examined
by anyone today. We are further assured that these Minutes were never examined
by the late Brother Gould, and had he examined them his famous statement, made
in 1887, that Sir Christopher Wren was not a Freemason, would probably have
never been issued.
APPENDIX (Account of the Fire of London from Pepys' Diary)
Some of our maids sitting up last night, to get things ready against our feast
today, Jane caned us up about three in the morning to tell us of a great fire
that was in the city. So I rose and slipped on my night gown and went to her
window and thought it to be on the back side of Market Lane, but being unused
to such fires as followed, I thought it far enough, and so went to bed again
and to sleep. About seven rose again to dress myself and there looked out at
the window, and saw the fire not so much as it was, and further off. So to my
closet to set things to rights, after yesterday's cleaning. By and by Jane
comes and tells me that she hears that about 300 houses have been burned down
tonight by the fire we saw, and that it is now burning down all Fish Street,
by London Bridge.
I made myself ready presently, and walked to the Tower; and there got up upon
one of the high places, Sir J. Robinson's little son going up to me; and there
I did see the houses at that end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite
great fire on this and the other side the end of the bridge; which, among
other people, did trouble me for poor little Mitchell and our Sarah on the
bridge. So down, with my heart full of trouble, to the Lieutenant of the
Tower, who tells me that it begun this morning in the king's baker's house in
Pudding-Lane, and that it hath burned down St. Magnus's Church and most part
of Fish Street already.
I went down to the water side and there got a boat, and through the bridge,
and there saw a lamentable fire. Poor Mitchell's house, as far as the Old
Swan, already burned that way, and the fire running further, that in a very
little time, it got as far as the Steele-yard, while I was there. Everybody
endeavoring to remove their goods, and flinging into the river, or bringing
them into lighters that lay off, poor people staying in their houses as long
as till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats, or clambering
from one pair of stairs, by the waterside, to another. And then among other
things, the poor pigeons, I perceive, were loth to leave their houses, but
hovered about the windows and balconys, till they burnt their wings and fell
Having staid, and in an hour's time seen the fire rage every way; and nobody,
to my sight, endeavoring to quench it, but to remove their goods, and leave
all to the fire, and having seen it get as far as the Steele-yard, and the
wind, mighty high, and driving it into the city; and everything, after so long
a drought, proving combustible, even the very stones of the churches; and
among other things, the poor steeple by which pretty Mrs. ____ lives, and
whereof my old schoolfellow Elborough is parson, takes fire in the very top,
and there burned till it fell down; I to Whitehall, with a gentleman with me,
who desired to go off from the Tower, to see the fire, in my boat; and there
up to the King's closet in the Chapel, where people came about me, and I did
give them an account dismayed them all, and word was carried into the King.
I was called for, and did ten the King and Duke of York what I saw; and that
unless his Majesty did command houses to be pulled down, nothing could stop
the fire. They seemed much troubled and the King commanded me to go to my Lord
Mayor from him, and command him to spare no houses, but to pull down before
the fire in every way.
The Duke of York bid me tell him, that if he would have any more soldiers, he
shall; and so did my Lord Arlington afterwards, as a great Secret. Here
meeting with Captain Cocke, I in his coach, which he lent me, and Creed with
me to Paul's; and there walked along Watling Street, as well as I could, every
creature coming away loaded with goods to save, and, here and there, Sick
people carried away in beds.
Extraordinary good goods carried in carts and on backs. At last met my Lord
Mayor in Canning Street, like a man spent, with a handkerchief about his neck.
To the King's message, he cried, like a fainting woman, "Lord, What can I do?
I am spent; people will not obey me. I have been pulling down houses; but the
fire overtakes us faster than we can do it." That he needed no more soldiers;
and that, for himself, he must go and refresh himself, having been up all
he left me, and I him, and walked home; seeing people all almost distracted
and no manner of means used to quench the fire.
the year 1851, the Most Excellent Grand High Priest, George Giddings, in his
address to the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Connecticut, made the following
pronouncement, which, if it were apposite eighty years ago, seems equally so
"But, Companions, in our prosperity, in our rejoicings, it may be well for us
to remember that the hour of prosperity is frequently the hour of danger. The
fairest flower frequently produces the deadliest poison. Elated by success, we
too often become careless and neglectful of the means by which success was
acquired, and by which alone its continuance can be secured. To this Source
may be mainly attributed most of the adverse circumstances to which our
institution has from time to time been subjected. The doors of our Lodges and
Chapters have sometimes swung too easily upon their hinges. The Tyler has been
too often found sleeping at his post. We are apt to forget, Companions, that
the strength of every society, more especially this of ours, lies in the
character and intelligence, not in the number of its members. Let this truth
be inscribed in indelible characters over the High Priest's Sanctuary in every
Chapter in our land, and all will be well.
MEEKREN, Editor in Charge
OF ASSOCIATE EDITORS
ROBERT I. CLEGG, Illinois
GILBERT W. DAYNES, England
V. DENSLOW, Missouri
GEORGE H. DERN, Utah
N.W.J. HAYDON, Canada
CHARLES F. IRWIN, Pennsylvania
JOSEPH E. MORCOMBE, California
ARTHUR C. PARKER, New York
HUGO TATSCH, Iowa
M. WHTED, California
E.W. WILLIAMSON, Nevada
this number we begin a new Masonic year and a new volume. It is not easy to
forecast the course of either. We wish our members all good fortune and
happiness in the months to come, and we hope to be able to keep THE BUILDER up
to its standard. It is, as may be said once again, the chief link between the
members of the Society, as well as taking the place of the Proceedings
published by other Masonic Research bodies. It has been a constant source of
regret to the 'editor ever since he first had charge of the work, that some
way of establishing more intimate relations between our members, or some of
them, could not be found. The possibility of forming local branches has been
suggested in a number of cases where it seemed that it might be practicable to
do this. One or two tentative attempts have been made to organize such
branches, but so far without definite results. We believe, however, that such
a plan would establish our work in a way otherwise impossible. There is no
doubt that the personal contact is of enormous value; indeed, without it that
elusive but essential thing, esprit de corps, is practically unattainable. So
far as we can see there is no reason why in every large centre of population
there should not be a local branch of the Society. If any member feels stirred
to try and form one we are prepared to help him with draft plans,
constitutions, and so on, for the project has been so far worked out. Perhaps
the realization of this hope may be one of the events of the coming year.
THE Builder itself we can promise some interesting and useful articles. Bro
Irwin will finish his work on Masonry in the War by a new series on the
various Masonic Clubs; thus putting on record, before it is too late, a
practically exhaustive account of all Masonic activities in the American
Expeditionary Forces both at home and abroad.
R. V. Harris has promised another article on Masonic Heraldry, an interesting
subject which has never been very fully treated hitherto. Bro. D. E. W.
Williamson expects to have an article on the name or title Hiram Abiff, and
the possible or probable channel by which it came into the legend of the third
degree. There are few scholars better fitted than Bro. Williamson to elucidate
this particular sub-problem, to which he has devoted much time and labor.
has been under consideration for a number of years the republication of the
Autobiography of Rob Morris, but it was one of those things that might be done
at any time and so has always been crowded out. Perhaps this year it will be
done as it will fit in with a new series of articles by Pros. Kress and
Meekren on the History of the Masonic Ritual in America. Rob Morris wrote an
apologia for the Conservators under the guise of an autobiography, and the
Conservator movement is one of the least known yet most momentous influences
on the American type of ritual as it exists today.
other articles that may be expected, though we hardly care to promise that
they will appear, is one on the underground existence of Masonry in Russia
after its abolition by the Government more than a hundred years ago.
will also be some articles on the Scottish Rite. First there will be a
historical sketch of the Albany Sovereign Consistory, Sublime Princess' of the
Royal Secret, which contains much little known information about some of the
outstanding Scottish Rite Masons of New York State a hundred years ago. This
is the work of Bro Isaac H. Vrooman. In addition Bro. Kenderdine is preparing
a series of articles on the early history of the Rite in this country, which
will not be approached from any orthodox point of view. Bro. Kenderdine
proposes to treat the subject objectively, and as impartially as may be
possible to a trained and judicial mind.
have other articles under consideration, but as yet insufficiently developed
to make it worth while to say anything about them.
* * *
MASONIC EDUCATION MOVEMENT.
look back over the course of events in the American Masonic world for the last
fifteen years, or even the last ten years, one of the most outstanding
features will appear to be the emergence of Masonic Education as an object of
official concern and policy. Scarcely a volume of Grand Lodge Proceedings now
comes out but has something to report on the subject. The individual Mason as
a rule does not know much of what is being done outside his own jurisdiction,
if indeed he knows anything very much of what is being done within it. On the
other hand those who are actively interested, whether officially or otherwise,
are apt to miss the forest because they are so intent upon the trees in their
has been a great variety in the methods adopted, and still greater differences
in regard to estimate of results. It has been remarked, by several different
observers, that there is a curious relation between the character of the
reports and the nature of the machinery adopted. Where there are paid
officials charged with educational work in the various lodges, there one is
apt to find most glowing reports of the efficacy of the work and the value of
the results. Where it is undertaken by unpaid voluntary workers the reports
are often pessimistic in the extreme.
is really not curious at all, it is most natural and human, aside from the
fact that there may be objective reasons for the difference. The paid worker
is able to travel, and to come in contact with the brethren he is working for.
And because it is his avocation his methods receive some kind of
standardization and the key is pitched fairly low. Besides, he sees the lodges
at their best, as a rule - there is generally an extra large crowd to receive
the official visitor - he is listened to with attention, sees only the
enthusiasm he may have aroused, and goes on to repeat the process elsewhere.
voluntary worker is in quite a different position and so sees things
differently. As a rule, even if he has Grand Lodge recognition and official
standing, he is unable to travel and has to do most of his work by
correspondence. He has the far harder task of trying to get people to help
themselves. The efforts generally flicker fitfully for awhile and then die
suddenly like a burnt out candle. Then too, the voluntary worker is usually
something of a student himself, and he must be an enthusiast or he would never
undertake the task, and as a result he is inclined to forget how much
elementary, kindergarten work has to be done before any advanced study can be
Taking everything into consideration there is a tendency now observable, here
and there, to stop and take stock, to ask what it is really all about, and why
and how? In short, the official Masonic Education Programmes have run up
against human nature - or rather just plain nature. They have put in some kind
of water supply, they have caught the horse and haltered him and have led him
to the trough - and he won't drink. The danger is that in reaction the whole
effort may be abandoned. After all, if your horse won't drink today you can
fairly safely count on his drinking tomorrow, so that there is no sense in
destroying the watering trough.
is why an attempt to survey the whole subject and get it in some kind of
perspective is necessary. The causes for the recent interest in "Education"
are by no means clear. That Masonry was instructive has always been taken for
granted, but it was also taken for granted that all that was necessary was
embodied in the rituals, and that attendance at the regular work of the lodge
was sufficient for a complete Masonic education. American Grand Lodges have,
since 1850 or thereabouts, taken great interest in ritual minutiae, much of it
of trifling importance, and have expended more ingenuity and effort in aiming
at a rigid and somewhat monotonous uniformity than has been devoted to
maintaining its spirit, and in seeing that it was either understandable or
understood. And there are still many jurisdictions where "Education" merely
means teaching the ritual so efficiently that the pupils may recite it with
the faultless accuracy of a gramophone.
we do not wish to be understood as saying this care is misplaced, though those
who know anything of the evolution of the ritual know that it has been
materially changed in every jurisdiction from what it was seventy-five years
ago, and that the rituals of two hundred years ago would be hardly
recognizable to the average American Mason. And for every one who knows this
there are a dozen who know that the rituals of different jurisdictions, and
still more of different countries, vary almost as widely at the present day.
And to all who are aware of these facts the pains taken to preserve the
ipsissima verba of one particular recension must appear in a different light
to that in which the matter is seen generally by Grand Lecturers and Ritual
Committees. Nevertheless at the worst, this preoccupation with the
preservation of the exact formula is only an exaggeration of a necessary
requirement, a one-sided development, in which the letter has become
everything and the spirit left in the background. For the word is nothing
without its meaning, and though the ritual is the text, the starting point of
true Masonic education, it is its significance that is the essential thing -
the form is not an end in itself, a magical incantation working ex opere
operato, but ultimately only a means to an end that is other than itself.
friend who served in the old Russian army as a surgeon (and being a Pole he
was keenly critical of everything Russian) once told the present writer how
after the Russo-Japanese war the army authorities decided, among other things,
that the Russian soldier needed education. Doubtless he did, but the method
adopted was rather crude. Apparently something like this happened: Orders were
sent to Commanding Officers to establish regimental schools. The (commanding
Officers "passed the buck" to their company officers. These again told their
non-commissioned officers to get the men together and teach them. The writer's
informant attended one of the classes out of curiosity. The instructor had
been assigned as his subject, "The Telegraph." The gist of his lecture was
this. "I am to teach you all about the telegraph. Do you know what the
telegraph is ? No ? Well I will tell you, the telegraph is the telegraph. This
is what you have to learn." And he made them recite in unison, "The telegraph
is - the telegraph." And that was that. It may sound incredible, but it is
probably perfectly true, for the Russian soldier was armed and equipped and
munitioned in very much the same way.
far be it from us to suggest that anything like this has ever occurred in
official attempts to educate the American Mason, and yet, one has a sneaking
idea that there has been a remote resemblance in the methods adopted, to this
extent at least, that the idea that education was needed outran knowledge of
what to teach and how to teach it. In other words, the thing went off at half
cock, and no definite aim having been taken, nothing in particular was hit.
Needless to say there are some shining exceptions, still the indictment holds
good, we fear, in too many cases.
primary necessity in an educational movement is the selection and training of
teachers. In theory the Master is the instructor of his lodge; in practice he
is, as a rule, utterly untrained in everything but the bare letter of the
ritual; nor has he any chance to improve himself by experience, because by the
time he has begun to learn something (if he has it in him) his term ends, and
another untrained man is put in his place. After all, this is not so very
different from the Russian method!
the lodge is the traditional organ by which Masonry functions, and Masons
should be educated in the lodge. We have the machinery, but it has so long
been disused, and is so rusty, that instead of putting it in operation again
we have been trying all kinds of makeshift substitutes, which if they work
would probably lead to embarrassing conflicts and overlappings of function and
authority. Where to start is a most complex and difficult problem, far more so
than has generally been realized.
contribution to its solution we will make a few suggestions. The first
question is to decide quite definitely what is the proper scope of Masonic
education, instruction, teaching. The second how to ensure trained teachers.
That done, it is probable that the only difficulties left will prove to be
really matters of detail only.
first step is to distinguish clearly between teaching and research. This has
not always been done, obvious as it may appear. Every Grand Lodge ought to
foster research as much as possible, but it should not undertake it.
Committees on Education should not be Research Committees, even if composed of
Masonic students. The research worker is often a very poor teacher. His
function is to provide the teacher with such information as he needs. Every
Grand Lodge should have an adequate working library, with a trained librarian
in charge. There are few Grand Lodges which could not afford this. There is no
need for the librarian to be a man and a Mason. A trained woman could do the
work quite competently; for the purpose of such a library is to make it
possible for such brethren who are interested to get access to the books they
need. But we doubt if the establishment of a library is the first step. There
are much more elementary things to be done first.
Having set research aside as a thing by itself, a matter for the individual
mainly, but in which the individual may be profitably assisted; let us turn to
our first problem. What is it that should be taught, not to some, but to every
Mason? What is it that corresponds to a common school training, that is
elementary, well established, and that should be universally known. The ritual
here gives us a plain answer. It is light, illumination. But perhaps this is
only another case of "the telegraph is the telegraph," somewhat disguised. Yet
there is a recognized metaphorical meaning assigned to light and illumination,
even a common everyday one, quite aside from any special Masonic symbolism.
And while it is true that many have looked for (and some have found) a
mystical illumination in the initiation, yet it is obvious that this is only
for a select few There is a plain meaning, within the reach of every initiate.
It is simple and obvious and necessary, and like so many simple and obvious
things is frequently overlooked, and like many necessary ones is often
forgotten or not realized.
happens is this: The candidate is introduced into a new circle, a fraternity,
as an integral part of it, and to him is shown in form and symbol his social
relationships and obligations in the light (it is difficult to avoid the term)
of this fact. The elements of the new situation are not new, but the situation
as a whole is new. His duties are merely new applications of moral precepts
already known, but they are new applications to him. He may have imagined what
they would be, but now he is to realize, to actualize them. To put it more
generally, the first thing is to make him think - to think out his new
relationships, and that is the fundamental purpose of the Masonic symbols
presented and explained to him, trite and obvious as all this may seem.
Whatever else they may mean they mean this first.
the second thing is to put all this into practice - which is a matter of
living and is outside the lodge. This is, or should be, Masonic work,
spiritual building. In short, the Masonic primary education which should be
universal is summed up in the familiar phrase, "good and wholesome instruction
for their labor." But all this is in the ritual - Of course it is; only it is
too often not extracted from the ritual. Suppose a teacher recited the
alphabet to a child on its first day in school, and then said, "Now go and
read what you like," it would seem somewhat more insane than even the
education of the Russian soldier; yet this is the modern lodge practice in
effect. The teachers have learned to say the alphabet and little more. Not
being able to read themselves they cannot well teach others.
then are the teachers to be taught? Inlet us keep close to the actual
situation. Ideally many excellent plans would be possible, but any general
movement towards improvement must be commenced, in the average lodge, with the
average officers. There is the dead weight of insufficient knowledge, and
there are a host of totally erroneous conceptions to be overcome. The
difficulties are so great that any suggestion must be only tentative, but we
are going to offer one that may seem rather radical, although it is quite in
line with modern developments. The lodges have been in recent years more and
more shorn of their original rights, liberties and responsibilities, by Grand
Lodges, so that a new interference, one which might turn the American Craft
back in the direction of the old ways, could not be objected to in principle.
While there is already in many jurisdictions analogous legislation respecting
the newly raised Master Masons. The suggestion is, that to qualify for office,
a Mason should be obliged to pass an elementary examination in certain
present the suggestion in more detail and to make it more tangible, let us
suppose that no one could be appointed a Deacon in the lodge who did not have
certificates from some competent authority. This would practically ensure that
every Master would have this minimum qualification. And these are the subjects
we would suggest. First, a written paper on a number of questions that would
require knowledge of the Constitution and Code of the jurisdiction and,
perhaps, the more recent decisions of Grand Masters. It is to be elementary,
it is not to train Masonic lawyers. It is to make the potential Masters of
lodges realize where to look for this information, and how to find it and
second examination would be on the ritual. Not repeating it, the present
machinery will serve for that, but understanding it. Again it must be
elementary. Questions as to the meaning of unusual or obsolete words, of
obscure phrases, with the suggestion that a good dictionary would clear up
most of the difficulties. This is not memory work, but elementary research if
one likes. The questions to be answered with the aid of any reference books
needed, but honestly by the individual himself.
third examination would be more advanced, and would necessitate some real
practical thinking. The questions could be taken from almost any series of
reports on grievances, or appeals. Present a number of hypothetical cases, of
offenses against Masonic law, quarrels and disputes, and ask what the parties
ought to have done had they acted as Masons should.
seems nothing to prevent such requirements being made of those who have
ambitions to "go through the chairs." It would be no hardship on the potential
officers. It is in their power to instruct themselves, it needs no new
machinery to do this. A man who cannot extract the information he needs from a
code or a dictionary, or think out the practical application of Masonic
obligations to daily life, is not fit to be Master of a lodge. All that would
be needed is the establishment of the examining and certifying authority. The
examining could all be done by correspondence, from the central board, or it
might be a feature of district meetings. But this is hardly worth while to try
and work out now. The main thing is to grasp the strategic points of the
clear that were all Masters of lodges made to realize that there was much more
to their office than merely repeating the formulas of the ritual, some advance
would almost automatically follow. The questions asked by newly admitted
brethren would be answered instead of being evaded; questioning indeed would
be encouraged. It would not be "highbrow stuff," it would be as well within
the powers of the farmer and mechanic as of the lawyer and clergyman. True,
many of our members might be bored by it, and think much of it sermonizing.
But probably they either need it themselves, or else they should not be in the
lodge at all. If it led to the latter element getting out, the Craft would be
then, as we see it, is the proper scope of Masonic education. In this, Grand
Lodges have a plain right and duty to act. It is nothing new, it is only
trying to recover what we have to great extent lost. Beyond this it is
probable that a Grand Lodge should not go, at least, not as now constituted.
"Higher education," as we may call it, is for the individual and for
unofficial organizations of individuals, quite free from special and local
orthodoxies. The search for truth, for new facts, must be free if it is to be
successful. Among such agencies stands the Research Society. But as we have
said, Grand Lodges should help the individual worker by means of libraries,
and wherever dual membership is permitted, Research Lodges might well be
encouraged. All this, however, is relatively non-essential; it is the primary
education, implied by Masonic ritual and symbolism, that should be made a
reality; and once the problem is seen in its true bearings Masonic authorities
will doubtless seek some way to recover the effectiveness of the lodge in its
teaching and instructional functions.
* * *
LOVING CUP ON PILGRIMAGE
have had "Traveling Bibles" and "Traveling Triangles," which aroused interest
in the day of their wanderings, but the brethren of Evans Lodge, No. 624 of
Evanston, Illinois, have initiated a project, that is perhaps more significant
symbolically as it is more ambitious in conception. It was given by a Past
Master of Evans Lodge, who modestly uses the lodge as a veil to screen his
identity, upon the occasion of the raising of his son as a Master Mason. The
cup is to be carried by traveling Masons from one lodge to another, toward the
East. Thus it is expected to be carried around the world, and it is suggested
(perhaps the symbolism is father to the estimate) that it will take seven
years to complete its journey before it returns, from the West, to Evanston.
attractively bound booklet was privately printed and distributed to the
members of the lodge as a souvenir on the "Fathers and Sons" night, held on
September 7, 1929. This too, is anonymous, and we suspect that it may have
been compiled by the brother who gave the cup. It is entitled "The Glorious
Mystery" and contains an account of the Legend of the Holy Grail, which aside
from everything else is a very interesting resume of the subject.
which comes the following description of the cup itself:
"Cup of Brotherly Love" presented to Evans Lodge No. 524, Evanston, Illinois,
on September 7th, 1929, A, L. 5929, is a marvelous example of artistic
Fashioned of sterling silver, it is heavily over-laid with yellow gold.
Interested members of the Craft carefully designed and executed the
engravings, which are extremely elaborate and intricate, and which include
many interesting features.
the base of the goblet are found the lily-work, net-work and pomegranates so
familiar to all Freemasons.
Around the outer lip are inscribed the twelve zodiacal signs, each within its
own triple circle, and which together make up the great Celestial Circle.
added circle of All-seeing Eyes above, and a ring of emblems, including the
Square and Compass, below, complete a Grand Circle of three.
Underneath this Grand Ring are a trinity of rings, or circles, forming an
upper border for the space above the lily-work, in which may be found many
familiar Masonic symbols together with other figures of ancient use and
meaning, handed down to us from time immemorial.
Within the lip of the cup and completely encircling it, is engraved in old
Anglo-Saxon script, the command, "Drink you from this cup of brotherly love."
With this inscription included as a "ring," the piece becomes a "7-ringed cup"
such as those of the Legends were encircled.
Conceived in deepest appreciation of the spiritual values in Freemasonry, made
of precious metals in which have been wrought the most beautiful designs by
highly skilled craftsmen, presented to the brethren as an earthly symbol of
lofty ideals impossible of expression in mere words, dedicated to the mothers
of all men, and consecrated to the continuance forever of brotherly love and
affection between all men, but more especially our brethren in Freemasonry,
may this cup ever remind us of our duties to God, our country, our families,
our neighbors and ourselves.
the cup will be carried a book in which a record will be made in each lodge
which receives it, the date and details of its coming, and of its being sent
on, with any remarks or reflections that the members of the Lodge may wish to
make. There is also a letter, addressed to the Craft, which has been
translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Swedish, Dutch and
Italian. The letter is as follows:
THE GL0RY OF THE GRAND ARCHITECT OF THE UNIVERSE:
All and Every our Most Worshipful, Right Worshipful, Worshipful and Loving
Brethren of the Most Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons
throughout the World to whom this message may come
you that upon the Raising of his son to The Sublime Degree, a Brother has
given to the Lodge this marvelously wrought token of Gold and Silver;
Receive from us this Cup, befittingly Dedicated to the Mothers of all Men and
Consecrated forever to Brotherly Love and Affection between all Mankind, but
more especially our Brethren in Freemasonry;
you, all our Brethren, from this Cup in acceptance of the Fraternal Wishes for
your Health, Prosperity and Continuance, of all whose lips have touched its
Inscribe upon its golden surface as you choose, your Name, Time and Place in
the endless Circle of Travel, and write upon a Page in the Book such Message
as you consider appropriate, Posting to us by mail directly, news of your
on to our Brethren toward the East, Where and Whom as you may Desire, this
Symbol of the Glorious and Mystic Tie, giving it Safe Conduct by the Hand of a
true and trusted Brother, that it may Completely Encircle the Whole World and
Return to us within Seven years, bearing Witness to the Universality of our
Blessed be all you who shall Welcome this Cup of Brotherly Love and Expedite
its Travels in Foreign Countries, and may your Names he forever Honored among
our Brotherly Love and Affection,
Brethren of Evans Lodge No. 524,
Ancient Free and Accepted Masons,
Evanston, Illinois, U. S. A.
THE YEAR OF LIGHT FIVE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED AND TWENTY NINE.
Review of Masonry the World Over
Peace Movement in the Shrine
Whatever we may otherwise think of the "playground" of, Masonry, it has won
credit and respect for American Masonry by its hospitals for crippled children
- one of the most truly Masonic charities, in the proper sense of that abused
word, that has ever been undertaken. Now it is giving Masonry in North America
a new lead. The meeting of the Imperial Council to be held in Toronto in June
of this year is to undertake a "drive for World Peace." The Shrine has its own
methods, which evidently suit its votaries, and we sincerely hope they "put it
over," and get the peace problem in the minds of the rank and file of American
State of Masonry
the larger and wealthier jurisdictions everything appears prosperous, though
even there post-war reaction is beginning to tell. In other places the
situation is already serious, if we may judge from various indications. For
example, R. W. Bro. John J. Phoenix of North Carolina does not mince matters
at all. He describes lodges that have not met for twelve months, lodge rooms
in disorder, books scattered or lost and dues unpaid. He lays this in part to
negligence on the part of Grand Officers, but doubtless this is not the whole
cause; and this negligence may itself be part of the disease.
other quarters we hear of suggestions for mergers of lodges Which again
indicates that all is not well. The advocates of consolidation say, that a
country member can drive thirty or forty miles to a neighboring city more
easily and quickly than his grandfather could five miles to the village. Which
is true But is the standardizing of the large lodge the right line to take? It
is undoubtedly along the line of least resistance, and wholly in conformity
with the tendencies of' modern American Masonry; yet most thinking brethren
are inclined to believe that the large lodge, materially successful as it may
be, is a curse and a blight spiritually. What is a lodge for? If it is only a
degree mill, plus a club, then the large lodge is obviously the answer. If it
is, or should be, something else, then such mergers may merely make it still
more difficult to return to a better way,
Curiously enough, a brother writing in the Master Mason under the pseudonym of
"Zabud" very forcibly presents the evils of the average large city lodge, and
concludes with a half serious description of a lodge he would like to found
with a few like minded brethren. One that would reduce its expenses to a
minimum, that would not work more than one degree at a time, nor permit its
membership to increase above a certain limit. Lodges of less than a hundred
members could flourish if the brethren only knew more of what Masonry really
Learning the Third Degree Lecture
Masonic authorities of Oregon have also had before them that vexed question of
how to get the average Master Mason to qualify himself "to travel and work as
such." That this should be a problem is most likely a symptom only and not
itself the disease. It is probable that if an instructor was appointed and
everyone took it for granted that the newly raised brother was going to learn
what he should know, that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred he would.
However in Oregon, as elsewhere, legislation has been proposed. The Committee
on Jurisprudence had before it a proposed amendment to the Code, which
required that the brother receiving the degree of Master Mason must pass an
"examination on the lecture thereon" in open lodge within six months, and that
on failure to do so “the brother shall become automatically suspended until
such time as he shall have proved his proficiency.”
Committee (in our opinion very wisely) refused to recommend this proposal, the
principal objection lying in the automatic suspension. No one should be denied
Masonic rights except by the regular and deliberate act of the lodge, on cause
very probable that this general remissness in regard to instruction in the
third degree has been due to the fact that there is no definite occasion
(except where artificially created by law) for the Master Mason to prove his
knowledge. The Entered Apprentice and the Fellowcraft are examined as
preliminary to advancement. There is no such natural and obvious occasion for
examination in the third degree. It is true that in theory a Master Mason must
be examined when entering the Royal Arch Chapter, or the Scottish Rite, but in
these bodies this has long since been the merest matter of form, and besides
such examination is irrelevant to the lodge We make a suggestion for what it
is worth. It would be a return in part to ancient usage, in conjunction with
an American innovation. The latter is the rule that only a Master Mason can be
a member of a chartered lodge, the former is the old rule that conferring the
degrees did not ipso facto confer membership in the lodge. Let the newly
raised Master remain an unattached Mason till he has passed his examination,
and make that the occasion of his formal reception as a member of the lodge.
But the best remedy, we expect, is more direct personal interest in the newly
admitted brethren on the part of the officers and members of the lodge.
Annual Meeting of the Masonic Service Association
The Master Mason for December is a report of the annual meeting of the
Association held in Chicago on November 19 and 20, 1929. Upon this the Masonic
Chronicler makes the following comment:
Masonic Service Association has never sought publicity, and in fact it has
been exceedingly difficult to get information from its officials as to what
was being done. The account in the Master Mason is tantalizingly incomplete.
"Mississippi and Rhode Island answered the roll call a year ago, but
apparently had no representatives present this year. To balance the number,
Delaware and New Mexico, not mentioned in 1928, are listed this year. This
indicates representation from thirteen Grand Lodges in each year, which may be
the total membership of the Association, and may not. Nothing is said about
resignations or the acquisition of new members.
"Reference is made to a resume of the year's activities, submitted by the
executive commission, but this was apparently not deemed of sufficient
importance to be included in the Master Mason's account. The fiscal or
financial report is entirely missing. The committee on audit and finance found
no fault with the reports which were examined, but not a word is mentioned
auto the amount of money received or disbursed during the year, the source
from which it was received or for what purpose it was expended.
reduction was made in the membership fees required of member Grand Lodges.
They will hereafter all pay a flat assessment of $250 a year, plus two cents
per capita, with the proviso that in no case shall a Grand Lodge be called
upon to pay more than three cents per member.
"Andrew Foulds, Jr., Past Grand Master of New Jersey, who had served as
chairman of the executive commission for the last five years, was unable to
act longer and was succeeded by George R. Sturges, Grand Master of
Connecticut. No successor to Andrew L. Randell, executive secretary during
almost the entire life of the Association, was announced.
had understood last year that Bro. Frank L. Simpson was to have taken the
position as Executive Secretary of the Association, but for some reason this
does not seem to have become effective. Bro. Andrew L. Randell tendered his
resignation at the meeting in 1928, which was accepted. All that the present
report tells us that the matter "was discussed."
Oregon Considers Dual Membership
the seventy-ninth Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Oregon held last
June, the Grand Master, M. W. Bro. R. W. Davis, devoted a part of his address
to this subject. Having observed that the Oregon code specifically forbade
dual membership, he suggested that though the wisdom of this prohibition was a
matter of opinion, yet it was his belief that it militated against the good of
the Craft. It is estimated that there are living in Oregon five thousand
Masons holding membership elsewhere who do not wish to sever their
relationship with their mother lodge, and that to permit dual membership would
enable them to actively participate in Masonic work. He added that "the matter
of registration is a minor point and can be worked out." This is refreshing,
for from what has been said about this one might think that it was an
essentially insoluble problem to avoid confusion of records.
special committee was appointed to consider this part of the address and
considered it very fully. Bro. L W. Matthews, the Chairman, advancing an
ingenious theory to account for the rise of this peculiarly American
restriction on the freedom of The individual Mason. The committee reported
itself as against plural membership but in favor of dual membership, and
amendments to the Code were proposed to effect this. These do not make any
specific distinction between dual membership in and out of the state, but
presumably imply that an Oregon Mason can belong to two Oregon lodges. While
if a Mason whose original membership is in another state, the Grand Secretary
has to be informed, and pass on the question whether the. other state permits
are very glad to see Oregon joining the more liberal minded of American
jurisdictions in the doing away with needless restrictions on Masonic liberty.
Fascist League in the U. S. Disbanded
the daily press we learn that the Fascist League, which has sought to bind
Italians in this country to the Fascist regime in Italy, regardless of their
American citizenship, or even of their American birth, has been disbanded.
Count Ignazio di Revel, in a statement prepared for the public, claims that
the League existed only to enlighten the American public regarding the ideals
of Fascism, which task having been accomplished the machinery was of no
further use and could be scrapped. This is a little difficult to swallow, even
by those who have no other information than has been afforded by the
newspapers. The League undertook propaganda naturally, but its main object was
to maintain a hold on Italians in this country in the interests of the Fascist
Government. And it is most probable that it is rather the growing uneasiness
at the existence of such an organization that has been manifested lately that
is the real reason for abandoning the organization, which undoubtedly has been
subsidized and directed from Italy. We may fully expect, though, that other
and less obtrusive means will be sought to prosecute the end in view.
Threat of Terrorism
readers will undoubtedly have seen the recent newspaper reports of the
anonymous threats directed against Mr. Putnam of the well known publishing
house. Putnams is producing the book Bro. Nitti has written, describing life
"in exile" as a political prisoner under the Fascist regime. Of course these
threats, whether seriously intended or not, can only be the work of ignorant
and half baked adherents of the Fascist cause, but even so, they may perhaps
be taken as illustrating its tendencies as affecting ignorant and violent men.
All the same we hardly think the Fascist government would fell any regret if
by any means the book were suppressed.
Arch Masonry in Dora Scotia
the proceedings of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Nova Scotia we
learn that at the Sixtieth Annual Grand Convocation, held at Sydney, N. S.,
last June, M. E. Comp. R. V. Harris, who is Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge
of Nova Scotia and an associate editor of THE BUILDER offered the following
In addition to the fees payable to Grand Chapter under Section 1 hereof each
Subordinate Chapter shall pay to Grand Chapter the sum Or fifty cents per
annum for every Companion registered as a member of said Chapter on the 31st
day of March in each year, such sum to be applied annually by the Board of
General Purposes for the purpose of assisting in the education of blind
children, under such regulations as the Board may approve.
Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) hereof any Chapter may apply
a sum from the amount assessed on such Chapter under the provisions of
subsection (a) and not exceeding twenty-five cents per annum, for community or
social, welfare, service or benefit, educational scholarships or bursaries, or
other purpose as may be approved by the Board of General Purposes.
motion, we judge, was sympathetically received, but naturally there would be
fears and hesitations among some of the Companions, if not opposition, at the
presentation of such a proposal. An amendment was moved as follows:
any action in regard to motion be postponed for twelve months, and in meantime
the Grand High Priest and Grand Superintendents be requested, during their
visitations, to present matter fully to different Chapters.
amendment carried, with the effect, we presume, that the motion will reappear
on the agenda of the next Grand Convocation in 1930.
sincerely hope that this noble and truly Masonic project will be endorsed by
the Royal Arch Masons of Nova Scotia, and that the motion will be carried next
year, and Nova Scotia may set an example to the whole continent. But in any
case, whether passed or not, the proposal and its reception, is a cutting
comment on the recently evolved theory that is rapidly spreading in the United
States, that Masonic Funds are to be spent only for "Masonic Purposes,"
understood in the most limited sense, and that lodges must be restrained from
aiding or assisting with contributions any charitable undertaking or social
cause outside the narrow definition of what is Masonic.
Lodges Without Charters.
brief article on Mother Kilwinning is going the rounds of the American Masonic
press, the heading to which will undoubtedly give the impression to many
readers that this ancient lodge is unique in the fact that it has no charter
Neither in this respect, nor in that of having held the position of a
"mother-lodge," nor in her immemorial antiquity, is she unique, though this
epithet is due her as having all three of these distinctions in conjunction
with being also the traditional originating center of various orders and "high
grades" - an impeachment, by the way, that she has always most vigorously
are two existing lodges on the roll of the United Grand Lodge Or England,
survivors of the four which formed the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717, or
1716, which have no warrants, but work by virtue of' time immemorial
constitution. These are Antiquity No. 2, and Royal Somerset House and
Inverness No. 4.
were more than a hundred lodges in Scotland when the Grand Lodge of that
country was organized in 1736, the great majority of which were either of
"time immemorial" constitution, self constituted by "inherent right," or
chartered by some "mother lodge" - most of such charters being granted by
Kilwinning. Of all these thirty-three were represented at the assembly or
convention at which the Grand Lodge was instituted, and William St. Clair (or
Sinclair) of Rosslyn elected Grand Master.
Without definite information, but by inference from the works of Murray Lyon
and Gould, one gathers that the lodges that were in existence before the Grand
Lodge was formed were given "charters of confirmation," documents
acknowledging their ancient rights and statutes. Whether Mary’s Chapel and
Kilwinning did or did not receive, or accept such charters there is nothing in
the standard works to show. It would be a fraternal act if some informed
brother in Scotland would enlighten us upon the real state of affairs in
regard to this.
"Recruitment" of Lodges In England.
another example of the case with which misunderstandings can arise, we may
cite a curious misapprehension that several of our European contemporaries
have fallen into. Some time ago it was officially stated in England that an
application for membership could not be acted upon at the communication at
which it was received. Of course it was merely a restatement of the
regulations regarding this matter, but our brethren on the continent seem to
have understood it as a new rule, and have (under this impression) very
naturally expressed themselves as surprised at the laxity of investigation, or
lack of it, in English Masonry. We can assure our European readers that
applicants are thoroughly investigated in England, and the official
pronouncement from which the misunderstanding arose was undoubtedly in reality
a reprimand and a warning which in the guise of a general admonition was
directed to the action of some lodge which was showing a disposition towards
laxity in regard to the law in this matter.
However, in practice, the severity and thoroughness with which the character
of candidates in every respect is investigated in European countries makes
American practice seem rather lax in comparison, even though our machinery and
intentions are good.
books reviewed in these pages can be procured through the Book Department of
the N.M.R.S. at the prices given, which include postage, except when otherwise
stated. These prices are subject (as a matter of precaution) to change without
notice; though occasion for this will very seldom arise. It may happen, where
books are privately printed, that there is no supply available, but some
indication of this will be given in the review. The Book Department is
equipped to procure any books in print on any subject, and will make inquiries
for second-hand works and books out of print.
HISTORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. Edited by Arthur M. Schlesinger and Dixon Ryan Fox.
Published by the Macmillan Co.; Vol. I, THE COMING OF THE WHITE MAN:
1492-1848, By Herbert Ingram Priestly, xx and 411 pages, Vol. II, THE FIRST
AMERICANS: 1607-1690; By Thomas Jefferson Wertenbaker; xx and 358 pages, Vol.
III, PROVINCIAL SOCIETY: 1690-1763; By James Truslow Adams, Evil and 374
pages, Vol. VI, THE RISE OF THE COMMON MAN: 1830-1850; By Carl Russel Fish;
xix and 391 pages; Vol. VIII, THE EMERGENCE OF MODERN AMERICA: 1865-1878; By
Allan Nevins, xvi and 446 pages Cloth, price each volume, $4.00 net.
are the parts so far issued of this ambitious joint attempt to cover the
history of America. Each volume is the work of a specialist in the particular
aspect of American History treated. Being done by scientific historians, the
work may well be expected to supersede all previous American Histories, and is
undoubtedly one that no American library worthy of the name, whether public or
private, can afford to be without. A detailed review of the volumes that have
thus appeared will be found on an earlier page.
* * *
FREEMASONRY IN THE THIRTEEN COLONIES. By J. Hugo Tatsch. Published by the
Macoy Publishing Company. Red cloth. Introduction, illustrated index. 245
pages Price $3.15.
brethren who have been following the writings of Bro. Tatsch in the many
Masonic journals to which he contributes, will greet this book, which has been
published after much delay, with open arms. I consider it his best volume,
because he has done much original research, as is indicated by the
announcement of five new discoveries in the Introduction. Though he modestly
disclaims any pioneer effort, those familiar with the scarcity of literature
treating of American Masonic origins will gladly give him credit for what he
designates a compilation only. He has been generous in the acknowledgment of
assistance in getting facts; the roll of names listed in the Introduction is a
formidable array of giants in the Masonic field. Not content with calling upon
American writers, European authorities have been consulted too to bring out
facts, which further testifies to his thoroughness. Prior to Bro. Tatsch's
departure for army duty last March, I visited him at the Iowa Masonic Library
in Cedar Rapids, and saw the voluminous files of correspondence, notes and
material which he had gathered over a three-year period for the preparation of
the valuable contributions is the record of a German lodge which worked in the
British Army. Not only has he obtained the list of names of the Hessian
officers who were lodge officers and members, but also a copy of the actual
ritual used. Obviously, the ritual is not given in the book; but it has been
located and a copy made available to those interested. Tantalizing rumors of a
German lodge in America prompted Bro. Tatsch to institute inquiries in
Germany, with the happy results as given in his work.
book opens with a review of the unauthenticated accounts of Freemasonry in
America which so confuse the novice. These improbabilities are grouped or
classified by years so that easy reference can be made to the individual
cases. He treats the Le Plongeon claims for Maya origins with more courtesy
and consideration than they deserve. Though, in mentioning the books in which
such claims can be found, he also cites scientific publications which are far
more convincing leaving it to the student to form his own conclusions by
consulting the original works. Still it is evident from his own treatment of
the subject that he has little faith in the preposterous claims that have been
made by the self-styled "archaeologists" of Freemasonry.
the apocryphal accounts dismissed, the story of the Craft is set against a
chapter in which the social and economic life of the Colonies is sketched. It
prepares the reader for the strictly historical accounts which follow under
the headings for each of the Thirteen Colonies - in which Vermont is given a
place in the chapter on Massachusetts.
Tatsch objects to the thoughtless orators who would read Freemasonry into
everything that was said and done in the Revolutionary period. It is such
passages which lift his book above the commonplace treatment, for he does not
hesitate to inject some original thought into his work:
Judging by what we used to read, it would seem that our colonial forefathers
were conscious of the great future before the American nation, and never did
anything which would cause us to think that they were anything less than
supermen. This thought has been carried to a ridiculous extreme by Masonic
orators, who would have one believe that every act was prefaced by the
question, Is this in accordance with Masonic principles and precepts? They
profess to see Masonry, as such, written into all state documents; they
maintain that practically all of our colonial and revolutionary leaders were
members of the Craft. Such of our patriots who were Masons may have been
influenced unconsciously by Craft ideals; but to intimate that they were
deliberately moved by the actual thought is to accuse them of an uncalled for
provincialism. It is such intimations that have kept capable historians from
considering the Masonic Fraternity at all when studying the movements which
were a part and parcel of colonial life.
the author does not deny that Freemasonry exerted a moral force, for he says:
excellent reputation which Freemasons of all ages have enjoyed is proof of the
worth of the institution, for the prestige of the Craft is only the sum total
of that possessed by its individual members. Friendship, morality and
brotherly love have always been fostered where Freemasons foregathered. The
story of the Craft in America furnishes no exceptions.
Judgment is passed on books of history by those engaged in similar works. A
reading of the chapters is at once convincing that the material has been ably
selected. Though necessarily much condensed, in order to hold the volume down
to a reasonable size, the essential facts are presented, so that anyone
wishing to pursue the subject in minute detail can get the story from the
books cited in the copious bibliographies at the end of each chapter. These
notes are of particular value because they bring together, under one heading,
the worthwhile books from which the larger story can be made. They form in
themselves a bibliography of Colonial Masonic history.
review each chapter in detail is impractical. The Pennsylvania and New Jersey
chapters contain much information about Daniel Cone that has not hitherto
appeared in book form, although published in magazine articles, fully credited
in the bibliographies. Massachusetts had two Grand Lodges for a time; the
story is carried down to the period when the two united and contributed to the
literature of Freemasonry by the publication of the 1792 and 1798
CONSTITUTIONS, about the printing of which Bro. Tatsch had a separate article
in the Iowa Grand Lodge Bulletin [March, 1929] under "Isaiah Thomas: Printer,
Patriot and Freemason."
story of Freemasonry in Vermont is especially interesting because of Canadian
influences which prevailed at one time. Bro. Tatsch cites the History of
Freemasonry in Quebec in which many of the details are found. Under New York
is reported a hitherto unknown French Lodge, the charter of which Ossian Lang,
Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of New York, located in Nova Scotia.
Freemasonry in the Carolinas involves points which fascinate the student and
indicate that there is yet much to be ascertained about the early lodges.
Roman Catholic persecution of Masons in Florida, working under English
warrants, is also related.
Virginia has so much to present that the author gives two chapters to that
Jurisdiction, one of which concerns itself entirely with the history of
Norfolk Lodge No. 1. It is evident from the treatment given, and the
supplemental matter included, that one Virginia brother, at least, did not
agree with the conclusions of Bro. Tatsch; but the latter has left the door
open for the inclusion of anything new which may be adduced, and which may
serve to upset the concepts as based upon the facts so far ascertained. This
critical but fair treatment is typical of Bro. Tatsch's work as a whole, as he
takes nothing for granted and sifts the evidence carefully. If anything, he
leans rather heavily to the writers of the Gould and Hughan school, and does
not give too serious consideration to fables and fancies, but clearly labels
them as such.
is not surprised to find a long chapter devoted to military lodges of the
Revolution. This chapter, as well as the others, indicates that restraint was
necessary in order to keep them from becoming books in themselves.
Considerable space is given to American Union Lodge, whose records,
fortunately, are extant.
interesting separate facts are brought out in the book. For instance, General
John Sullivan was elected Grand Master of New Hampshire without having served
as Master of a Lodge; but he was not installed until he had in the meantime
been elected and installed as Master of St. John's Lodge. It is shown that the
Grand Lodge of New Jersey was formed by a group of individuals, and not by a
group of lodges. The reviewer, as a New Jersey Mason, can attest the excellent
presentation of the facts concerning his own Grand Jurisdiction, with which he
is naturally very familiar. The Grand Lodge of Tennessee is mentioned as
having come into existence by a warrant or charter from the Grand Lodge of
North Carolina - a situation unique in the annals of American Freemasonry. The
book presents accounts of Masters Lodges, which met in early days for the
purpose of conferring the Master Mason degree only, for it was not until about
the middle of the eighteenth century that the three degrees were universally
Tatsch, in spite of the excellent work he has produced, is apparently not
entirely satisfied with the volume, for in an Epilogue he speaks of his
"meagre" treatment of the story as a whole. No matter what he thinks, it is
evident that he has prepared a readable and instructive volume, and has
succeeded in reaching the "average Mason," in spite of his reference in
Chapter IV to Bro. Robert Freke Gould as "the Thucydides of Masonic history"
which we feel sure is just a bit "beyond the pale" for the "average Mason,"
seeing Thucydides ceased to exist 401 B. C.! Bro. Tatsch thus describes his
I have brought together is prepared for the 'Average Mason,' whose number is
legion, and whose support of the Craft, combined with that of three million
and more of his brethren in the United States, enables the Craft to function
as effectively as it does. He is not concerned with the technical details of
origins, jurisprudence and practices which delight the specialist; what he
seeks is a presentation which will give him a graphic picture of the
Fraternity as a whole. This is what I have attempted to do with colonial
Masonry in this volume, and it is with sincere regret that phases were omitted
which really belong to the full treatment of the American Craft in colonial
this is precisely what he has done.
* * *
BELIEVE IN MAN. By Judge Leon McCord. Published by Harper Brothers. Cloth, 137
pp. Price, $1.50 net.
YORK CITY is a crossroads for good folk of all kinds – through its gates pass
men and women from every corner of our country, and also from the lands across
the seas. The fratres calami – brothers of the pen – are especially to be
found, for sooner or later they come to this city of literary agents and
publishers, and the better writers have no difficulty in making their way to
the exclusive editorial sanctums. Some, in fact, are invited; among such is
the author of I Believe in Man - Brother Leon McCord of Alabama. Through a
happy courtesy on the part of Harper's, I was not only told of Brother
McCord's visit but was also privileged to enjoy an hour's visit with him in my
own office. Hence my brief comment on his book is not only based upon a
perusal of it, but also upon a knowledge of his work as told in many an
incident, tragic and comic, that he related during his never-to-be-forgotten
Brother McCord is a judge of the Circuit Court at Montgomery, Alabama. For
many years have passed before him in review the offenders against the laws of
his state. Not content to merely pass judgment and to sentence, reprieve or
dismiss those appearing at the bar of justice, he has delved into the lives of
criminals in an effort to find underlying causes for crime. What he has
learned is reflected in his book; the chapters are short but striking. They
make one think. Each one is a jewel that needs no setting other than the
sympathetic spirit which the reader inevitably brings to the book after
reading but a single page.
it be said that the book is not a recital of morbid stories or tales of
criminals. Rather, it holds the reflections which come upon a thoughtful man
as he ponders upon the experiences of the long line of offenders who have
passed in review through the years of public service. Brother McCord has
transmuted the sordid details into gems of practical wisdom; he has presented
them in the form of short talks which carry conviction, and inspire his
listeners and readers to better effort.
Brother McCord believes not only in man, but also in the youth of our country.
It is refreshing, after reading so much of a condemnatory nature in current
publications, to have a man in a position of authority write thus:
young generation of America is a challenge to you. They are yet sweet and
clean, and have aspirations and hopes that soar as high as the morning star.
They possess little road information; hot blood calls for speed, and they are
soon on the road.
know the road. The sharp curves, the pitfalls, and the unbridged streams are
printed on your road map in red. You can make of that road a better and safer
way for these children. If you hold in your heart the love of mankind; if the
world sees in you an example of the Golden Rule; if the children have come to
love and trust you; if they have come face to face with the Master because of
you, then you are building bridges across the chasms of avarice, greed, and
hate, and the children of the nation will find the roadway open to a nobler
and better life.
this Masonic spirit of restoration and new construction that permeates the
pages of I Believe in Man. I know of no better book of present times which one
can read with enjoyment and profit; brethren who wish to find suggestions and
inspiration for short talks before luncheon clubs, church gatherings and
lodges, will do well to purchase this volume.
* * *
DECLINE OF THE WEST. By Oswald Spengler. Authorized translation, with notes by
C. F. Atkinson. Cloth, prefaces, table of contents xviii and 440 pages, price
books are to be tasted," says Bacon, "others to be swallowed, and some few to
be chewed and digested.
is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not
curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention."
It is in the last category, as a book to be chewed and digested, that the
great Lord Chancellor would without a doubt, have placed Oswald Spengler's
Decline of the West. And to a competent
with a good knowledge of the German language to boot, for Spengler's ideas are
formulated in German speech, and even in translation are redolent of the
original tongue, the thorough mastication of the Decline of the West will be a
most fascinating and profitable occupation. Few, however, are so
encyclopaedically equipped, and for most the book will be one to be tasted; to
be skimmed where the technical aspect of the argument requires a specialized
knowledge, and read with attention when the general ideas are being enunciated
or the particular technique is at the individual command. Such a skimming or
tasting is, perhaps, the best line of as revealing most clearly the general
ideas which the separate arguments are intended to establish, and which are
well worth attention.
time has come, according to Spengler, when the old historical philosophies and
the old methods of historical study should be abandoned, and replaced by new.
Our histories are written from a West-European point of view, and regard the
past as something leading up to our present condition, thus falsifying the
real character of Egyptian or Babylonian history by regarding it as a mere
prelude to classical, omitting such histories as those of India and China
which are not related to western development, and falling into the ancient,
mediaeval, and modern division, which Spengler finds meaningless and barren:
opposition to all these arbitrary and narrow schemes, derived from tradition
or personal choice, into which history is forced, I put forward the natural,
the "Copernican," form of the historical process which lies deep in the
essence of that process and reveals itself only to an eye perfectly free from
Repossessions. - In other aspects mankind is habitually, and rightly, reckoned
as One of the organisms of the earth's surface - Only bring analogy to bear on
this (the historical) aspect as on the rest, letting the world of human
cultures intimately and unreservedly work upon the imagination instead of
forcing it into-a ready-made scheme. Let the words youth, growth, maturity,
decay - be taken at last as objective descriptions of organic states. Set
forth the classical culture as a self-contained phenomenon embodying and
expressing the classical soul, put it beside the Egyptian, the Indian, the
Babylonian, the Chinese, and the Western, and determine for each of these
higher individuals what is typical in their surgings and what is necessary in
the riot of incidents. And then at last will unfold itself the picture of
world-history that is natural to us, men of the West, and to us alone.
picture Spengler proceeds to describe:
boundless mass of human Being, flowing in a stream without banks, up-stream a
dark past wherein our time-sense loses all powers of definition - ;
down-stream, a future even so dark and timeless - such is the ground-work of
the Faustian [Western] picture of human history. Over the expanse of the water
passes the endless uniform wave-train of the generations, - But over this
surface, too, the great Cultures accomplish their majestic wave-cycles. They
appear suddenly, swell in splendid lines, flatten again and vanish, and the
face of the waters is once more a sleeping waste.
true historical method for the Western or Faustian soul is, therefore, to
regard and examine the various cultures as separate organisms, to study them,
as Goethe studied Nature physiognomically. Such a physiognomic view will
reveal the fact that each culture is the product of a definite and special
soul, of a special way of looking at life and the world. Classical culture,
for example, was the product of the "Apollinian'" an a-historic, soul, living
in the present, whose prime-symbol was the sensuously-present individual body,
and whose vision was bounded by the visible horizon; Western culture the
outward manifestation of the "Faustian" soul, whose prime-symbol is cure and
limitless space. Every aspect of a culture, its mathematic, its architecture,
its plastic and musical art, will be determined by the character of this
underlying soul - or "possible." The spatially limited Apollinian will produce
Euclidean geometry, the classic temple, and sculpture in the round; the
unbounded Western will give birth to the modern form of mathematic, the Gothic
cathedral with its striving upward to the infinite, and a particular type of
oil-painting and music. The cultural manifestation of each underlying soul
will, accordingly, have a limit. When the possible expression of that
particular soul in science and art has been accomplished, the culture must
inevitably harden, decline, and die.
the idea of Destiny replaces that of Casuality as the great historical
principle. By some deep inward compulsion the culture must rise along
pre-determined general lines. Although particular events and movements
[incidents] might have happened otherwise than actually occurred, the main
course of development and the necessity of final decline are irrevocably
decided. More, it appears from a comparative investigation that all cultures
pass through similar phases, that the stages of their development are parallel
and four in number. Spring, the period of "rural-initiative." Great creations
of the newly-awakened dream-heavy soul. Super-personal unity and fullness.
Summer, the time of "ripening consciousness. Earliest urban and critical
stirrings." Autumn, the age of "Intelligence of the city. Zenith of strict
intellectual creativeness." And Winter, the final phase, marked by the "Dawn
of megalopolitan civilization. Extinction of spiritual creative force Life
itself becomes problematical. Ethical-practical tendencies of an irreligious
and unmetaphysical cosmopolitanism." These four phases would appear to be of
approximately equal time-duration in the various cultures. We may therefore
discard the old form of chronology which regarded a great figure or movement
of classical culture as "earlier" than a corresponding personality or
development of Western, and adopt a cultural scheme which would regard them as
these views are accepted, history need no longer restrict itself to the role
of narrator and interpreter of the past, but may confidently assume that of
prophet. Since it is the destiny Or each culture that rises from the
world-waters of humanity to pass through these various phases of identical
character, and of approximately equal duration, we may ascertain from the
conditions of the day the place of our own age in the life-story of Western
culture, and shall then be able to anticipate the course it has still to run
before it reverts again into the proto-soul from which it sprang. It is
Spengler's belief that the Faustian culture has entered the final phase in the
cultural life-history, the winter-season of megalopolitan civilization; the
period of the extinction of the spiritual creative force and of a hard,
practical, efficient, material existence. Some two centuries of slackening
energy remain to be spent before the decline of the West is finally
accomplished and the culture of the Faustian soul joins those of the Egyptian,
Apollinian, and Magian, as something that has been.
to the layman, would appear to be the main ideas which Spengler develops
philosophically and elucidates by exceedingly interesting analyses of
Apollinian, Magian [Arabian] and Western mathematics, philosophy, and art. The
view of world-history which he presents is that of a mass of humanity, a
proto-soul, out of which form themselves a succession of cultural souls, each
of a definite character, expressing itself ["actualizing its possible"] in an
individual political, scientific, and artistic development; with the certainty
that when the cultural soul has achieved the total expression of its innate
possibilities, the culture must harden into "mere civilization" and die away.
comment in any fair and adequate fashion on Spengler's ideas would require a
treatise, or series of treatises - to which end a Spengler library seems in
process of creation. A mere review must limit itself to one or two
considerations. And first, as any student of the past would expect, in spite
of the constant stressing of the novelty of his views, much of Spengler's
philosophy is reminiscent of earlier thought, of the views of his cultural
contemporaries. The remark of Bury in the "Idea of Progress" that the general
view of the Greek philosophers was that they were living in an age Of
inevitable degeneration and decay - inevitable because it was prescribed by
the nature of the universe," has a familiar ring for one fresh from the
perusal of the Decline of the West Jean Bodin's division of human history into
three great periods, not ancient, mediaeval and modern, but those of the
South-Eastern, the Mediterranean, and the Northern races, the note of the
first being that of religion, of the second practical sagacity, of the third
warfare and inventive skill, and each having a duration of approximately two
thousand years, would seem to foreshadow in the 16th century, at least dimly,
much of Spengler's 20th century conception Or world-history as the study of a
series of specific cultures. And the lists might be indefinitely extended.
Perhaps the chief weakness of Spengler's method is that it is too rigid and
absolute. While rightly condemning the attempts of former writers to crush
history into a ready-made framework, he is himself liable to fall into the
same error. As an example of this tendency his view of the Greek historians
may be cited. Having determined that the prime-symbol of the Apollinian soul
is the visibly-present, spatially-limited body, he decides that the Greek soul
must have been a-historic, able to grasp the present and depict contemporary
events in a masterly fashion, but falling into hopeless error in the attempt
to deal with even the near past As a generalization this is true enough; but
when Spengler makes his statement absolute, and reduces Thucydides from the
rank of a great historian to that of a brilliant annalist of his own age; it
is permissible to doubt, more especially when it is discovered that he has
misrepresented his author to prove the point. On page 10, Spengler states
for Thucydides, his lack of historical feeling - in our sense of the phrase -
is conclusively demonstrated on the very first page of his book by the
astounding statement that before his time (about 400 B. C.) no events of
importance had occurred in the world.
Thucydides actually says is:
character of the events which preceded [the Peloponnesian War], whether
immediately or in more remote antiquity, owing to the lapse of time cannot be
made out with certainty. But judging from the evidence which I am able to
trust after most careful enquiry, I should imagine that former ages were not
greater either in their wars or in anything else.
then proceeds to discuss earlier times in a manner which shows that he was
very far from restricted in vision to his own day, and anything but
Behind every book, as Taine pointed out, there is something more than a single
personality; there is the whole view of life land state of society from which
it Proceeded. It may therefore not be amiss, in conclusion, to relate
Spengler's ideas to conditions in Germany during the 19th and 20th centuries.
In a lecture delivered at Cambridge some twenty-five years ago a prominent
German historian pointed out that there were two Germanies, the dreamy,
artistic, philosophical Germany of the South, and the hard, efficient,
practical Germany represented. by the Prussian state. The union of the country
was accomplished by the triumph of the latter, which then proceeded to effect
a transformation of the German world after its own pattern, to restrict such
former centres of culture as Weimar to the role of provincial towns, and
develop the megalopolitan life of Berlin. It is impossible to read Spengler
without feeling the close relation of this development with his thought. It is
to Goethe that he looks for inspiration and illustration, as a glance at the
number of references under that name in the index will show. The Decline of
the West is a lament for the overshadowing of the philosophical, musical,
literary, and artistic life by the practical, efficient, megalopolitan
civilization, and may not inadequately be described as an "Elegy on Weimar."
* * *
TASCHENBUCH DES VEREINS DEUTSCHER FREIMAURER MIT KALENDAR. Published by the
Vereins Deutscher Freimaurer. Leather, 272 pages. Price, 2 marks.
is the sixth edition of this pocket-book diary and calendar. It is on the same
lines as the previous editions. A diary calendar, followed by complete
information regarding German Grand Lodges and lodges, names and addresses of
officers and so on; information about the V. D. F. itself and a list of lodges
working in the German language throughout the world, and a list of Masonic
periodicals published in German.
edition has in addition an interesting essay on some prominent German Mason,
which is given the place of honor in the book. Last year the subject was
Christoph Martin Wieland, in the present volume it is "Herder, as a
Freemason," which subject is dealt with by Dr. Rudolph Mense of Bonn.
* * *
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF THE CARNEGIE HERO FUND. By W. J. Holland, President of
the Commission. Paper, 15 pages.
GENERATION has passed since Andrew Carnegie founded this fund. It was
important news at the time, the papers everywhere were full of it, and all the
men-in-the-street knew about it. Today it Is comparatively an ancient
institution, and though most people have a vague feeling of familiarity with
the name, few really know what it is.
genesis was the idea that those who performed actions of conspicuous bravery
in the accidents of everyday life were fully as deserving of public honor as
those who distinguish themselves on the field of battle. Mr. Holland relates
the circumstances in which the idea took form, and gives a compressed account
of what has been done since.
ELIMINATION OF THE CHAPTER.
Referring to your "Chronicle and Comment" in the November, 1929, issue of your
publication, page 343, "The Elimination of the Chapter," certainly deserves a
few words of appreciation from all seriously minded Royal Arch Masons wherever
is really led to wonder what degree of "Masonic" intelligence is possessed by
the reviewer of the proceedings of the Grand Commandery, K T. of Illinois.
However, the biggest surprise is that he could find an entire "committee" to
sign such a report. The reviewer's reference to the "Royal Arch Chapter being
a mill stone about the neck of the Order of Knights Templar" and "if the Royal
Arch Chapter cannot stand upon its own merits, then the sooner it goes out of
business the better" are ample evidence of his ignorance of basic Masonic Law
and Landmarks, particularly Landmark Second. Whatever may have been the good
intentions of those who deemed it essential to inject the "bond" of
denominational belief into the structure of "Free" Masonry, the fallacy of
such idea is proven beyond doubt by the undisguised attitude of Illinois
Templarism at the present
your own comment on this matter, I can find but one fault, and that is your
suggestion that it might be better to make the "fuss and feather" degrees open
to Entered Apprentices. Maybe playgrounds and parades are more suitable for
the novices and Masonic "youths" before they ever enter the door of a symbolic
lodge. But once a profane declares his desire to become "free," it is really
an insult to his intelligence to expect him to return to the "bonds" of
denominational organizations, from which he has just "escaped."
the same, I want to repeat that your comment upon, and frank exposure of the
designs on the trestleboard of Knight Templarism deserves the thanks of
organized Royal Arch Masonry. They are words of caution whispered into the
ears of Royal Arch Masons exposed to grave danger. The wide circulation of THE
BUII.DEB will do the rest.
WALTER H. BRAUN, Wisconsin.
* * *
have been a subscriber of your magazine for some time, and enjoy it very much.
your November issue, page 343, the article entitled "The Elimination of the
Chapter," in reply would quote C. C. Hunt, a P.G.H.P.
thoughts inevitably suggest themselves. One is the germinating and
self-developing power of Masonry. While its three Great Lights, its Ancient
Landmarks remain the same from age to age, while it is not in the power of any
man or any body of men to make innovations in the body of Masonry, yet in the
application of its principle and diffusion of its light what a wonderful
instance of organic development it presents Here indeed is genuine evolution.
Not like the spurious development of the faith held by some religious
teachers, which consists in the denial of truths which have been believed and
revered from the first, but a development by actual growth and increment.
Knowledge from previous knowledge, truth from truth, light from light, this is
the law of Masonic evolution, and how impressive and striking an illustration
of this is the whole system of Royal Arch Masonry. If, as has been asserted,
there was a mutilation of the Third Degree when the Royal Arch was formed,
who, looking at the wealth and beauty of teaching which has therefrom accrued
to the Masonic Body as a whole can regret it? It is indeed a striking
illustration of the law of sacrifice that the greatest good to the greatest
number may be obtained; and the law of sacrifice is the law, not of death but
of greater and fuller life, the supreme instance of which in all the world,
and in all ages, is the sacrifice of Him who said: "I came that they might
have life and have it more abundantly.” In an infinitely humbler but very real
sense, this is true of the sacrifice by the Third Degree of its greatest
treasure, and thereby, the Royal Arch might be formed. For we look on our
time-honored Institution today, we see no stunted or unequal growth, no bare
and blasted trunk on which the tempests and the lightning have wrought their
will, but we behold, as it were, a magnificent and beautifully proportioned
tree, full of vigorous life coursing from its downmost fibre to its topmost
bud, whose branches reach the remotest confines of the civilized world, in
whose grateful shade we may find rest from the burden and heat of the day,
whose blossoms delight the eye, whose fruit gives food and sustenance to our
moral and intellectual nature. And of the several branches which go to make up
this imperial growth, none surely is fairer or more fruitful than the Royal
Arch with its four collateral boughs. Oh, who could wish this branch lopped
from the parent tree of Masonry, its history unwritten, its ultimate secret
relegated back to the Third Degree. Surely not one of the Royal Craft, not one
who has ever partaken of its fruit, who has ever beheld its beautiful
ceremonies and absorbed its sublime lessons. The contribution of Royal Arch
Masonry to the entire Masonic system is beyond all laudation, and of course
Perhaps some of our readers may have misapprehended what was proposed by the
Fraternal Correspondent of the Grand Commandery of Illinois. He did not
propose the abolition of the Chapter (which indeed would be ultra vires, not
to say absurd) but the elimination, not the best word perhaps, of the
requirement that a Mason must have received the Royal Arch before entering the
Templar Order, and this is presumably a private matter for the Knight Templars
to decide for themselves. While we may hazard a guess that such action would
probably reduce the number of applicants for exaltation, we are sure it would
very greatly raise the average level of their quality, for the Chapter would
at once cease to be regarded as a mere stepping stone to the Commandery and
Shrine, which is all it is in the minds of hundreds of Companions - in name.
* * *
PLURAL MEMBERSHIP AND RESEARCH LODGES.
have stated your opinion more than once that "dual" or "plural" membership
would permit the formation of real "Research Lodges." But these lodges would
not be concerned with initiating men into Masonry, their work not touching
anyone who is not a Master Mason. N. W. J. H., Canada.
have been several instances within the last ten years in which an attempt was
made to found a Research Lodge in America. Those cases known to us have been
in widely separated states, but the outcome in each was the same. There was
apparently no adequate provision for financial obligations and there was no by
law or general understanding among the members to prohibit, or even limit,
initiations into the lodge. The result of these two causes in conjunction was
that the lodge accepted applications in the usual way in order to obtain the
initiation fees, which it needed to meet its expenses. This had two obvious
consequences. Owing to the pressure of ritualistic work there was no time left
for reading and discussing papers; and owing to the difficulty of divining
beforehand whether a profane is going to be interested in Masonic research or
not and the strong probability is that he will not be interested), the
original founders of the lodge were soon swamped by "average" Masons, "good
fellows," but bored stiff by anything "highbrow."
order to meet this necessity for a carefully selected membership of those who
have proved their interest in the intellectual side of Masonry, all successful
Research Lodges (wherever they exist) either have by-laws against receiving
applications for initiation, or a general understanding, rigidly lived up to,
that none will be received. But this implies that unless a Mason can belong to
more than one lodge, he must sacrifice the ordinary lodge life and interests,
which very few zealous Masons are willing to do. Thus dual or plural
membership does open up the possibility of founding a Research lodge in any
jurisdiction permitting it. And we may say once more, to remove a persistent
misapprehension, that there is no need for any special charter to start one;
and in reality, no need for any special by-laws to maintain one. The warrant
of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, for example, is in precisely the same form as that
of any other English lodge. It is empowered to initiate, pass and raise
candidates like any other lodge, even though it never does. Naturally those
proposing to start such a lodge would explain their object to the Masonic
authorities, and would have to receive their passive approbation at least. But
considering the general interest in Masonic education now aroused in the
United States, this should not be difficult. We rather wonder which of the
Grand Lodges that have adopted the principle of plural membership, or are
thinking of doing so, will have the honor of being the pioneer in such a
* * *
have received the following communication from Dr. Joseph Fort Newton, which
he has sent out generally to the Masonic Press. Bro. Newton is one of the most
widely known, perhaps the most widely known Mason living today, and his
decision to retire from his Masonic labors will be received with regret not
only in this country but the world over. Bro. Newton was the first editor of
THE Builder, although he only held the post for two years and a half, as he
necessarily felt obliged to resign after he had gone to England However,
length of time is not always a measure of service. It is quite possible that
THE BUILDER might never have existed had Bro. Newton not been on hand to
direct it in its earliest days.
twenty years, or thereabouts - to be exact, since 1912 - I have had three
great interests outside my home: the Church, the University, and the Lodge. To
these fields of labor my energies have been given, in about equal measure; and
in all three I have been trying to do one thing - that is, to interpret the
spiritual worth and meaning of life.
Masonry my aim has been twofold: to induce Masons to know more about Masonry,
and to inspire them to do more with Masonry. In my little book The Builders -
now to be read in many tongues, Dutch, Swedish, Spanish, Syrian - as editor of
THE BUILDER, the journal of the National Masonic Research Society - and,
later, of The Master Mason, the journal of the Masonic Service Association; in
many books, and on a thousand Lodge platforms, I have tried to do somewhat in
behalf of the gentle Craft of Freemasonry.
Others may have done better work, but no one ever worked harder, trying to do
good work, true work, square work, in the effort to expound the principle and
to promote the practice of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth; by which I mean
the Truth that makes all other truth true. My work speaks for itself and is
worth what it is worth; it is not for me to estimate its value, if it has any,
still less to appraise its significance for the Craft. All a man can do is to
do his work, as best he can, or well or ill, and pass on; leaving the results
with the Master of all Good Work to forgive or approve.
Anyway, I have reached a time of life when I cannot go on doing so many
things, and must conserve and concentrate my energies to do some things of
which I have long dreamed, before the night falls and no one can work. To that
end I am withdrawing as editor of The Master Mason - with which I have had
only a nominal association since the first of last March - and from all active
labors in Freemasonry; and I shall not again attempt such work as I have been
trying to do in the years gone by. My decision has not been reached without
reluctance and profound regret, and I shall be lonely for a time; but it must
be so, and one must face facts.
the Grand Master will grant me grace, I hope sometime to write a little book
on the Symbolism of Masonry, and a Manual for Young Masons and Masters of
Lodges, as well as the Masonic History of Texas, my native State; but these
things are only dreams, and may not come true - if only because our fleeting
life is of such stuff as dreams are made on, rounded with a Sleep. Yet, if all
dreams came true, life would lose its lustre, and there would be nothing to
look forward to Beyond - out yonder in the City on the hill.
all my Brethren, all over America, in England, in Africa, Australia and the
far ends of the earth, good men and true, brothers and builders, the very
thought of whom has been an inspiration in the midst of the years, whose
fellowship has added a whole dimension to my life - men to know whom is a kind
of religion, and whose love on earth has made a God of Love real and radiant
in the heavens - I send greetings, blessings, thanksgiving, and goodwill. To
each one I would fain whisper a tiny word trust God, hope much, fear not at
all, and love with all your heart.
JOSEPH FORT NEWTON
* * *
read your articles with much pleasure and especially agree with the sentiments
expressed in your question, What is the Matter with Masonry? They fit in
precisely with the judgment of a good many Masons here in the West. Only not
too much stress has been placed on the almighty dollar which very often opens
the doors of our temples for men who don't care for obligations, misusing the
name of Mason for gain only. Hope to see some more of this style.
me to congratulate you on the excellence of the magazine both in contents and
chairman of our Library and Reading Room Committee and place it on file there
when I have read it.
may interest you to know that I have complete files of it from first number to
Wishing you all manner of good things for the future.
STONER, South Dakota.
* * *
SYLVANUS COBB'S MASONIC NOVELS.
THE BUILDER'S list of books, I notice the Caliph of Bagdad, by Sylvanus Cobb,
Jr This novel pertains to the Council Degrees. The author wrote two other
Masonic novels. One entitled Alaric or the Tyrant's Vault, which was based
upon the Blue Lodge Degrees. The other was entitled The Keystone, and of
course was founded upon the Royal Arch Degree. These three novels were first
printed in the "New York Ledger," (Robert Bonner's famous story paper ), many
years ago. A laric was printed about seventy years ago; (caliph about sixty
years ago, and The Keystone later The first two mentioned were afterwards
reprinted in book form, but naturally those editions are out of print. I don't
know that The Keystone was ever printed in book form. If desired for
reprinting, I presume copies of the first and third stories mentioned might be
Cobb lived and died at Hyde Park, Massachusetts, and was a member of the Blue
Lodge at that place. He was also a Knight Templar, and was a thirty-second
degree member of the Scottish Rite. Bro. Cobb was an extensive and versatile
writer and his many novels and stories over different names were printed in a
number of story papers and were very popular.
* * *
DEGREES OF MASONRY
are engaged in revising the series of articles published in THE BUILDER in
1928 and 1929 with a view to republishing them. Our request for comment,
corrections and criticism in the final article was quite serious. The articles
were, many of them, written under circumstances not conducive to the complete
accuracy that such a work demands, to be of any real value. We have discovered
some errors, and in a few places the argument will have to be modified, but it
is often very difficult to see mistakes from the inside. If such of our
readers who are interested in the subject and have taken time to read the
articles, would give us the benefit of any observations they have to make, we
should be really very grateful.
* * *
GENERAL GEORGE G. MEADE
any reader of THE Builder any information in regard to whether General George
G. Meade was a Freemason or no? Or can suggest any place where the information
might be found?