The Albury MS.
THE AMALGAMATED GUILD
Freemasons and Masons
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Preface By the Editor v
Prefatory Note by the Author vii
Solomon's Policy and Temple
PREFACE BY THE EDITOR
In sorting some MS. Papers which it had become my duty to arrange, I happened upon the following notes. Finding them, on examination, to be purely archaeological and historical nature, and judging they might be not only interesting but instructive, and calculated to rectify many misconceptions and extravagant mythical ideas, with which view they were doubtless prepared, it would appear as the basis of some more extended work, I have printed them, suppressing, for obvious reasons, some few but immaterial expressions, so that it might be indifferent into whose hands they might fall. The references are not often given; but the sources of them will be known to any well-informed person. The object of the author was evidently to trace the origin of the Freemasonic Guild or Society from the trade associations existing previously to Edward III, when many became partially, and subsequently fully, incorporated by charter, and of the more modern societies based on, imitated from, or arising out of, the amalgamated guild of Freemasons and Masons.
Aug. 13, 1875
PREFATORY NOTE OF THE AUTHOR
A respect for antiquity, whether applied to institutions or families, has ever had attractions for the human mind, so much so that it has been tacitly agreed the uninterrupted usage of ages should constitute a valid legal custom having the force of law, since otherwise it would never have become a custom. The remote antiquity of a family is a matter of pride to the descendants of an ancient stock; so to belong to an ancient corporation confers a respectability on its members. A law may be passed and must be obeyed, but unless that law have its foundation on ancient usage, it will never command the respect that its merit deserves: It must be a custom embodied in a law. A custom may receive modifications varying with the changing state of society, still in the main the old custom remains the basis, and a statute not so based never obtains the reverence due to common law.
The origin of the English constitution can no more be traced to a distinct period, than the separation of the Eastern and Western churches, or the formation of the coal measures; its origin is lost in antiquity, and the shadow, which hangs over a pre-historic period, till at last research reaches an epoch, which defies the historian, who, in default of positive data, can only at best deduce from that which is known, the state of things which might have existed previously; and this is as true with respect to Freemasonry as to any other institution.
The great mistake into which writers on this subject have fallen, lies principally in their ignorance of history, but still more in taking vulgar error for fact, and worse still in pandering to that which they know their readers wish to believe. They allege that symbolical Masonry, as we now have it, existed before the historic period, whereas the question really is, at what period Freemasonry ceased to be operative, and became purely symbolical or speculative.
THE ALBURY MS.
AMALGAMATED GUILD OF FREEMASONS
The art of building, in some form or other, was certainly one of the earliest of civilized man. In cold climates he sought to protect himself from the inclemency of the weather, and in the tropical zones form the heat of the sun; in the extreme northern zones, snow-huts accomplishing that purpose in the first, and natural caverns in the second case. These ruder structures fell into desuetude with the invention of tools, and the gradual development of art and science, comprehended under the general term "civilization;" but still the structures raised by man were adapted to the exigencies of the climate, giving rise to the variety of form adopted in different countries.
Verandahs in the open country, and narrow streets in the cities betoken a warm climate as a protection from the sun, while compact buildings and wide streets point to a cold one. Of all the lower animals, the beaver is the most remarkable for its innate power of construction of dwellings; all birds indifferently adopt either crevices in rocks or caverns for their nests, or build them in trees; the swallow tribe being the only race of birds which have adopted mural architecture resembling the mud huts of the human race. All other mechanical arts are, therefore, posterior to the science of construction which must be held to be the most ancient trade, and consequently the most ancient guild, providing for the earliest and most imperative necessity of man; and while all trace of many other arts have vanished, that of building has steadily improved.
Ornamentation followed; the simple house became a palace, and the palace a temple dedicated to the Supreme Being. The nature of the material found in the locality also influenced the mode of construction; thus the Ninevite palaces, now Mossool, as described by Dr. Layard, were build of sun-dried bricks, and the ordinary dwellings of the Egyptian period were constructed of the same material. The Ninevite palaces were faced with alabaster. Herodotus mentions bricks burned by fire as used in the construction of Babylon.
The Romans improved on this architecture, and the Egyptians and Greeks used the stone they found in the vicinity of their cities. Among these latter the art of building was held in the highest repute, and it was said "that while every age produced a builder, few produced an architect." This adage points to the period at which scientific building obtained precedence over mechanical construction. The earliest complete treatise on architecture is the work of Vitruvius, dedicated to Augustus Caesar, and the earliest detailed description of a building that of Solomon's Temple, by which he essayed to localize the religion, and settle in the form of a kingdom a wandering race, which had theretofore used tents; nor have the present dwellers of the desert abandoned these moveable habitations, induced by the necessity of changing their localities at given seasons to obtain pasturage for their animals.
The earlier Jews, commonly called the patriarchs, lived in the same way as the present Arabs, and may be, that this Oriental race, on their westward immigration into the countries in which they are first found historically, adopted the manners and customs of those in whose land they took up their abode. That is was an intrusive race there can be no doubt, for they were ever at war with the natives of the country in which they fixed their abode, extending the area of their conquests and habitation.
SOLOMON'S POLICY AND TEMPLE
Under Solomon the policy changed; [Abram died B.C. 1821. Solomon's Temple was founded 480 years after the flight from Egypt, and dedicated on October 30, 1004 (Haydn's dates), therefore Solomon was living 800 years after Abram; therefore, 1821 + 195 = 2016; but there is a difference of opinion as to this point - viz., that the era dates from Solomon's death, A.M. 1033, or B.C. 975, as the commencement of the era.] but that change would never have taken place, but as sequence of the generally hostile policy of David. By the plunder of his neighbours he accumulated riches and power. The Phoenicians were the greatest traders of the age, and by that trade accumulated wealth and command both by sea and land.
Thus the more, perhaps too highly civilized, people fell under the yoke of the more war-like race.
On his accession Solomon found himself in the possession of territory, physical power, and wealth; and, wisely discerning that rich neighbours were more profitable than poor ones, he employed the power bequeathed to him to cultivate the arts of peace, and set about to imitate the policy of the people his father had subjugated. He, therefore, entered into treaties with the more influential of his neighbours, and notably with the King of Tyre and Sidon, who commanded the seaboard, and, instead of being the first warrior of his region, he became the first merchant of his age; he assumed a monopoly of commerce, and drew to himself the whole import and export trade, reducing all other dealers to the position of retailers.
Whoever wished to buy had to come to the Royal stores; the king was the only wholesale merchant within his realms. The soil of the territory over which Solomon ruled was anything but fertile, and, judging by its present aridity, can never have been otherwise, though it is probable, that before the destruction of the forests, it was less so than at present. The denuded rocks of Judea could never have been fit for timber; the olive and the sycamore were therefore the principal trees; and this is evident from the necessity of sending to Lebanon for cedar and fir. The natural resources of the country being then so limited, commerce was the only mode by which he could accumulate wealth. There are certain points of similarity between the policy of Napoleon the First and that of David, and of Napoleon the Third and that of Solomon.
Having premised so much, it will be interesting to form some idea of the structure of that Temple which has rendered Solomon so famous as an architect.
The account of the building of the Temple was shortly as follows: -Solomon informs Hiram, king of Tyre, who had sent to congratulate him on. his accession to the throne, that he was about to build a Temple, and asked leave to hire woodmen to assist his own in felling fir and cedar trees in Lebanon, and preparing timber for the purpose, because the Sidonians were famous as carpenters; consequently, it was arranged that the Sidonians should hew and transport the timber to the sea, and float it to such place as might be required: Solomon was to indemnify Hiram annually with 20,000 measures of wheat and 20 measures of pure oil. Thereupon Solomon raised a levy of 30,000 men to assist the Sidonians, 10,000 being on duty each month by turns, under the superintendence of Adoniram, with 330 gangs of men under him; in addition to which Solomon sent 70,000 coolies and 80,000 hewers into the forest. These workmen prepared both timber and stone according to plan, so that it was necessary neither to further cut the stone or timber.
The Temple was 105 ft. long, 35 ft. wide, and 210 ft. high. [The Jewish cubit was 21 English inches. A hand or palm was 3½inches. There is a discrepancy as to height between Chronicles and Kings, the latter making 52½ feet, the former 210, which latter agrees with the account of Josephus, and discrepancy among antiquarians as to the length of the cubit.] The Porch was 35 ft. long and 17½ ft. wide, 21 deep. All round the interior there were lean-to chambers respectively 8¾, 10½, and 12¼ ft. wide, the rafters resting on corbels. A winding staircase conducted to the middle chamber by a door on the right, and through this chamber the third was approached. There were also constructed lean-to chambers, 8¾ ft. high, all round the exterior of the building, which, together with the narrow windows, must have entirely destroyed the symmetry of the elevation. The roof was of cedar planking, and the whole was panelled with cedar, and gilt or plated with gold, and floored with fir.
There appears to have been an independent wooden building, being a cube of 35 ft. of cedar carved with knobs and open flowers, and gilt or gold plated, planked with fir, for the adyt or cell - "The Holiest Place," to contain the box erroneously termed "the ark of the covenant." It also contained a gilt cedar altar. This cubic chamber was one-third of the length of the building, which was a triple cube, parted off from the rest by gold chains, thus leaving 70 free.
The cell or adyt is described as furnished in a peculiar manner. The two doors were of olive, 7 ft. wide, hung on gold hinges, carved with cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, all gilt. The doors of the Temple itself were of fir tree, broken to fold back, hung on olive posts, and 8¾ ft. wide, by gold hinges and carved in like manner.
At the end of the adyt were two cherubim carved in olive wood and gilt, the wings of which were 17½ ft. from tip to tip, and 17½ ft. high, so that they touched each other in the middle of the adyt and the panelling on either side. The floor was also gilt or plated with gold.
The Temple had also an inner court formed of three rows of hewn stone, and a row of cedar beams.
The brasswork was executed by Hiram the Naphthalite, from Tyre, described as a widow's son, meaning probably son of a widowed mother.
The principal metal-work was two pillars or columns erected on either side of the porch, 3 1 2 ft. high, and 1 1 ft. in girth, surmounted by capitals 8 ft. high on the right and left (in the sense of architecture) of one standing with his back to the cell or adyt ; that on the left of one entering he called Jachin, and that on the right Boaz.
The capitals were ornamented with seven nets of chequer work and seven wreaths of chain-work. There were cast Zoo pomegranates in two rows; these occupied 21 in., the residue of 7 ft. being occupied by the same lily work with which the porch was ornamented. These pillars were 4.041 ft. total height, with the capitals, and ,21 ft. in circumference, equalling 7 ft. in diameter. The next brass casting mentioned was the "Molten Sea," placed on the south-east, 171 ft. across, 521- ft. in circumference, 32 in. thick, with a lily flower wrought brim, and standing 8,-11 ft. from the ground on twelve oxen, facing outwards, three to each cardinal point of the compass. The object of the double row of knows underneath it, somewhat more than 2 in. apart (ten in 21 in.), does not appear, nor the meaning of 2000 baths, except these were small depressions; but it must be taken that this "molten sea" was an immense laver with 2000 basins, cotaining about 300 hogsheads. [2 Chron. Iv. 2-5 - 3000 baths.]
There were placed on either side of the Temple five lavers, each containing 40 depressions, called baths, 7 ft. high, and the same in measurement over, all set upon short pedestals the edges of which were ornamented with lions, cherubim, and pal, trees, resting on bases 7 ft. on the square, and 5¼ high, supplied with fixed axletrees and wheels 2 ft. 7½ in. high. It is not clear what was meant by "undersetters," but they were probably solid corner-pieces cast on the base to support it. The mouths, 3 ft. 7½ in., were clearly the holes to let off the water. In addition to these large articles, there were brazen pots, shovels, and basins. [I Kings v.7, 17; vi. 7; I Chron. Xxii,2; Josephus Hist. Vii.14; Chap. II. Xxvii. 2; Neh. Iii. 27.]
The gold ornaments or furniture consisted of an altar of gold, a table of gold for shewbread, ten candlesticks, five on either side before the adyt, ornamented with flowers, lamps, gold boxes, bowls, snuffers, spoons, censers, to which were added the silver and gold articles dedicated by David.
Solomon's Temple does not come up to the views of classical architects; indeed, it appears to have possessed no architectural merit, and to have been in very gaudy, vulgar taste. Nothing is said of the substructure long known but lately explored, and which is far more worthy of the architect than the superstructure. Whether this was also built by Solomon or by some predecessor, does not appear, though the thirteen years [ the church of St. Peter's at Rome occupied 155 years in the building, and 22 architects were employed on it. St. Paul's Cathedral occupied 35 years, Sir Christopher Wren being architect, and Mr. Strong builder. The first Temple of Jerusalem occupied 13 years. The design was probably Solomon's.]. occupied in the construction of the whole would point to this conclusion, and that the crypt was formed for the storing of the great treasures of the greatest merchant of the age. Solomon's subjects were clearly incapable of the work, or he would not have had recourse to the Philistine or Phoenician king of Tyre for workmen for his Temple and navy.
It may be strongly presumed, that it was not Solomon's respect for Jehovah, so much as a desire to protect his treasures derived form a monopoly of the commerce of his state, that he constructed this building. The sacred nature of the superstructure would preserve his treasury from robbery by the force of superstition. The Temple was substituted for the tabernacle, and Religion made the handmaid of policy.
There is no reason to doubt the description of this organization of the workmen under King Solomon, if, indeed, that organization be not of a date far anterior to his building of the Temple. It shows that subdivision of labour, without which a large body of men could not be kept in order - The king, who found the pecuniary means of employing the levies; the contract made with a foreign prince of the most enlightened nation of that period; the appointment of Adoniram as clerk of the works, and of local overseers for the various branches of it, which included not only masons or workers and setters of stone, but also carpenters for the execution of than the woodwork, and smiths for the foundry works.
At a time far anterior to Solomon the system of castes existed in India, and still exists, and trades descend from father to son in the esnafs [The German word zumft, is the Arabic singular of esnaf, cor general corrupted from the Arabic. This word, which imports a trade, probably found its way into Germany from the Oriental traders frequenting the great fairs of Germany, where all commercial business was transacted. Eastern nations are very conservative in manners; there is scarcely any difference since the time of Christ, and perhaps but little since the days of Solomon.] of the Indian population, the country whence the Jewish tribes derived their origin; it is therefore presumable that Solomon did little more than improve the organization he found in existence, by a quasi-military system, and on a large scale. The bodies of men, we call lodges, were presided over by master- workers; the lodges themselves consisted of journeymen, and perhaps, and probably, also of apprentices. These master-workers were subject to overseers, and these again to the chief overseer or clerk of the works, subject him self to the architect, or him who conceived the general plan of the building to be erected, but the name neither of the architect nor of the builder is given, nor are they referred to.
These guilds, or the evident traces of them, still exist in all the older countries of Europe and Asia. In Germany, perhaps, the old organization is still more perfect elsewhere in the west, as it has not been the practice in later times to admit into them non-tradesmen. Their organization in the middle age was generally as follows, for all trades alike:-No tradesman could set up as a master in his craft and take apprentices who was not freeman of the city in which he wrought; not being such freeman, he was called a freemaster, and could carry on his trade as such, without the power to take apprentices, who, having wrought for a certain time, were required to travel for five years as journeymen to perfect themselves in their craft [Kraft means power; handicraft, manual power or ability.
Science-craft was equivalent to "cunning" in old English (cyning, Saxon). A "cunning wheelwright" does not mean cunning or crafty, in the present sense, but only "capable" - skilled in his handiwork] in other cities. The journeyman, on his arrival in any city, applied to the corresponding affiliated guild of his craft in such place, where he obtained information of some master and who required his services. Having wrought under him for a given time, the employer, being satisfied with him, communicated to him the " Kennzeichen," or word of recognition of the place, as a proof of his having wrought there.
This Kennzeichen was usually some unimportant object which would not attract general observation; thus a conceit of the sculptor had induced him to carve a bird's nest behind the statue of Rolland, the Palladium of Bremen, and a small mouse on the sculpture which surrounds the apse of the Cathedral of Lubeck, and on the return the knowledge of these Kennzeichen by the journeyman was considered as evidence of his having wrought faithfully in the place to which they referred; in this consisted his examination for the condition of a freemaster or craftsman to which he was admitted on proper application, in the presence of the assembled guild of his native place; but before this ceremony he had to .pass an examination as to his competency, and deposit his Masterwork in the guildhall (Meisterstuck), which must be deemed satisfactory by the court of the guild. If the master thus received left his native place to settle elsewhere, the Meisterstuck was transferred to such place as a credential.
In travelling from place to place during the wander-years, it was customary for these journeymen, termed Handwerksburschen, to beg their way; nor was this accounted an act of vagrancy, and none even now refuse these men a dole. This they call fechten (fighting), not betteln (begging) ; hence our term "to fight your way." Their worldly goods and tools of their trade they carried on their backs. The innovation of railways has taken most of these travelling journeymen off the roads, though up to that epoch they were to be seen trudging in knots over every road in Germany.
This excellent system was best conducive to the artizan education of the workmen, tending to make them acquainted with their own country, and collect much valuable technical and general information, and teach them self-reliance and thrift. Although they were not obliged to travel beyond the confines of the empire, they often did so, and many would be found acquainted with the surrounding languages, and conversant with the customs of foreign countries.
The local affiliated guilds relieved these journeymen in case of sickness or want, so that they had a certainty of aid in case of need; and an authority to which they could apply on arrival in a strange place, to obtain employment for them, by referring them to some master who would give them work.
The same system is still continued, except that the "wander-book," which every journeyman carries in conformity with the police regulation, is now signed by the master whom the journeyman has served, and certified by the local police authority, notwithstanding which the old form is still maintained in some cities, and the journeyman is formally asked, for instance, "Where hast thou been?" "I have been in Bremen city" "What didst thou learn there." "I saw the bird's-nest behind the statue of Rolland in the market-place. Pass, Bremen." A better test could not have been devised in an age when writing was confined to a literate class.
In our London guilds there are two modes of attaining membership, by service - that is to say, apprenticeship and by redemption or purchase; and this is the same abroad, except that non-craftsmen are inadmissible. A doctor of laws, for instance, is sworn a member of the Guild or College of Advocates in Hamburg,[ The English Guilds of Advocates never sought nor accepted a charter, preferring to remain voluntary societies untrammelled by State influence.] either by inheritance, if son of a citizen, on production of his diploma, or by redemption, if son of a non-citizen, but would not be eligible did he not belong to some profession or handicraft. A doctor of law, however, takes precedence as a member of a profession as distinguished from a handicraft over those sworn in with him.
The great employers of labour in the middle ages were the territorial nobility, who by their tenure belonged exclusively to the profession of arms ; the ecclesiastics, who held large territorial possessions ; and, in the cities, the mercantile class. To the former two categories belonged the two chivalric orders of the Temple and Hospital, who, noble by birth or profession, and as lay monks, quasi ecclesiastical, partook of the characteristics of both, and, rapidly increasing in territorial wealth, necessarily employed large numbers of skilled workmen and artisans for the construction and repair of the various farm and other buildings on their estates, and the erection of chapels and conventual buildings, termed preceptory houses, in which were placed veterans or persons possessed of commercial knowledge, for the management of the estates and collection of the revenues as implied by the term preceptor.[ Praeceptor, receiver percevoir les revenus.]
In order to perform these duties, the guild of the building trade travelled from place to place as necessity required, working for the territorial nobility, whether lay or ecclesiastic, accounting in a great measure for the similarity which may be found in the style of especially churches, in certain districts of England, leading to the evident conclusion that they were constructed by the same gang of workmen; but it by no means follows that those by whom they were employed belonged to the guild; indeed, the presumption is clearly opposed to such a view, since the profession of arms was a noble calling, and that of an artizan a base occupation; but, on the other hand, it is not improbable that, on the dissolution of the monasteries and religious orders by Henry VIII., many, who had formerly been employers, received assistance from the guilds whose masters they had been in the days of their prosperity, found an asylum and refuge in the guilds which they had so largely employed, and were relieved in their distress and old age. These must, however, have died out in a generation, and cannot be regarded in any other light than that of pensioners of the guild.
In the Imperial Municipalities of Germany these guilds in the middle ages were apt to give a good deal of trouble, and became sufficiently numerous and influential to interfere with the local administration. The patricians (Geschlecter), to counteract this inconvenience, sought admission into these guilds, in order to obtain influence in the individual communities; but from time to time the majority or plebeian class rebelled, got rid of the intrusive patricians, and created riots, sometimes seizing the reins of the municipal Government: thereupon the emperor would despatch a Sendgraf to examine into the causes of the disturbance, hear complaints, and remedy any evil or redress any grievance, and the same appears to have occurred occasionally in England.
In the trading guilds of the Italian republics of the middle ages, the same disturbances arose from the members attempting an undue influence in the corporate government of the municipality, for the guilds were in corporate, or mere voluntary societies. The building trade being the most important, and necessarily working in combination, led to their historical prominence; in fact, these societies resembled in their conduct the trades' unions of the present age, striking for wages, and combining to keep up prices, which led to the laws against was the illegal combinations of workmen, to the detriment of the employers and the public; so that, in fact, the same state of things is occurring now which occurred 400 years ago, although in a slightly different form, in accordance with the usages of the country at that time. Subsequently to Edward III., the English guilds-previously to that epoch mere voluntary societies without definite legal status, under the Saxon name of " Gilden"- became treasures of the State in virtue of their chartered rights, with considerable power of internal government, whereas the trades' unions are still voluntary assemblies not recognized by the law; but that king, perceiving the advantage which would accrue to the State by the regulation of the trading communities, resolved to raise them into importance.
To which end he confirmed by Royal Charter the privileges they had till then enjoyed on sufferance only, and, to give them greater weight, he even became himself a member of the Linen Armourers, now the Merchant Tailors' Company. Their denomination was crafts and mysteries [This word is not derived from the Greek, meaning a religious rite, but from the French for a handicraft.] (mestiere, in modern French metier). The nobility and gentry, lay and clerical, followed his example. Nevertheless the incorporation was not plenary, they had no common seal, could neither sue nor be sued, nor hold lands in mortmain. Their chief officer was no longer termed alderman, but master or warden, as head of a ward. They also adopted distinctive dresses, whence they obtained the appellation of "liveries."
In the 49th year of Edward, the franchise, or right to elect City dignitaries and Members of Parliament, transferred from the ward aldermen to the masters of the city companies, which in the next year were raised to 48, returning 148 members, being an average of about three each ; the first class sending six, the second class four, and the third class two. Subsequently, the elective franchise was extended to all liverymen ; and some of the companies were merged in others; for instance, the Freemasons in the Masons.
The members of all the companies were sworn to keep secret the art of their "craft or mystery," and were authorized by law to punish minor offences of the brethren. Under Richard II., a refoundation took place. Their minutes were kept partly in Norman-French and partly in old English, and the inspeximus charters show them to have claimed from a time "whereof the memory of man is not to the contrary." Their feasts were usually held twice in the year, at Christmastide and at Midsummer; that is, on the festivals of St. John, who in this way came to be considered the protecting saint or patron of all guilds, and furnishes a key to a present custom which is significant. The expense of these festivals was paid by common subscription.
Their bye-laws were made by common consent, and anciently called "Poyntz," which they were required to swear to observe regarding the qualification of members, keeping trade secrets, regulating apprenticeships, the company's particular concerns, and domestic management, including its funds. They were to observe brotherly love, and their rites and religious ceremonies, for which purpose they had chaplains, and there was to be no difference between the rich and poor brethren, and they were not to go to law with each other without leave. At this time the officers were styled "wardens of the craft or mystery, master wardens or purveyors, guardians or wardens, bailiffs, custodes or keepers." They had a bedel to summon them, a chaplain to pray for them, a clerk to keep their minutes, draw up their resolutions, and assist them in judicial business ; and a cook to purvey for them, who was an important corporate officer in most companies, and is still the moving spirit of many a lodge!
The court of assistants, or councillors, is first mentioned in 1379. These were the elders ("scheffen" of the Teutonic tribes), a council to assist the wardens in the performance of their duties, and were finable for non-attendance; their number would seem to have been more generally twelve during this epoch.
Sir Richard Whityngtone, citizen mercer, was Lord Mayor in 1398, 1407, and in 1420 for the third time.
Liveries are first mentioned in 1329, and were adopted as badges of the respective fraternities, tempore Edward I.; but, becoming party badges, were suppressed by the 26 Rich. II., as tending to riot and disorder. This Act, however, appears to have been disregarded.
From the wearing of these distinctive dresses the members of companies came to be termed the "livery," and the expression "to take up your livery " became equivalent to "taking up your freedom."
An Act was passed in the reign of Henry IV., forbidding the masons' guild to meet (3 Hen. IV., c. 1) "The masons shall not assemble in chapters and confederations." Thus, in 1425, the masonic guild had shown itself troublesome to the State and civil order. By Freemasons was meant those free of the guild of masons, and who, as such, were freemen of the City of London, in contradistinction to non-corporate workmen, and applicable to other crafts and handiworks, as well as to this particular chartered company, and though the term has in modern times and parlance been used solely with reference to speculative masons, it still properly belongs as a prefix to all free of any City company, who, as such, are in a position to take up their livery.
Henry VI. confirmed most of the older charters, also granting new charters to other guilds, and among them to the Masons.
The companies appear to have been conducted all on a similar plan, whether incorporated or non-corporate societies, and each to have taken the great Corporation of London for its model. The Master, or Master Warden or Prime Warden, represented the Lord Mayor; the Court of Assistants, the Common Council; the Liverymen, the free citizens. The other officers were also analogous. And at all times, certainly during and after the reign of Edward III., non craftsmen were admitted to these brotherhoods honoris causa, and for the purpose of obtaining Court (Government) influence for the company and the protection of their franchises. When these useful institutions degenerated into tyrannous monopolies they began to decline, but so long as they merely regulated trade they flourished.
After the incorporation of the companies, it became the practice of the majority of them to present their charters in each successive reign for confirmation, and on these occasions some new privilege was usually sought. These are termed inspeximus charters, they set out or recited the original and all subsequent grants.
The next epoch in companies were the reigns of Henry VII. and VIII. Henry VII. became Master of the Merchant Tailors, and presided in their livery. At the same time an Act (19 Hen. VIL, c. 7) was passed, in restraint of bye-laws tending to monopoly.
Among others, Stowe says of the Freemasons that the Masons, otherwise termed "Freemasons," were "a society of ancient standing and good reckoning, by means of affable and kind meetings divers times, and as a loving brotherhood should use to do, did frequent their mutual assemblies in the time of Henry IV., in the twelfth year of whose most gracious reign they were incorporated."
By the new charters of James I. the constitution of the companies was altered, the courts being made self-elective instead of by the commonalty, no one being eligible who had not served as Master or Warden; they were constituted ad vitam aut culpam, with perpetual succession, with power to make ordinances, and summon the council; in fact, this court consisted of the Past Masters or Wardens of the company.
The oath was altered and the liverymen made "full brothers;" the term of apprenticeship was fixed at seven years, and fines imposed for refusing to serve as Master or Warden.
"Foreigners" were those without the pale, which extended to two miles; their encroachments were restrained. Sisters are no longer mentioned, and seem to have been discontinued.
JAMES I., who was Grand Master of Masons and patron of Inigo Jones between 1603 and 1625, encouraged architecture. Jones, born in 1572, was son of a citizen tailor of London, but his talent for drawing exciting attention, he was sent to Cambridge by his parents, and subsequently to Italy at the expense of Mr. Herbert, afterwards Earl of Pembroke. Later, Jones became Superintendent of Buildings to the King of Denmark; but resigning after a few years, he returned to Italy, where he remained until called by James I. to London in 1603, and made General Superintendent of the Royal Palaces on the death of the Earl of Huntingdon in 1603.
Under Charles I., the king established, on Jones's suggestion, the Society of Architects in London, which, however, did not prosper long. Jones died in his 80th year (1652).
Under Cromwell architecture was at a standstill, but under Charles II. the builders again obtained employment in 1660, and new rules were drawn up regulating admission into the company at a general meeting held under the presidency of Lord St Albans. to the effect that no one, whatever his rank might be, should be made or accepted a Freemason, except in a regular lodge in the presence of the master or a warden of the district where the lodge was held, and also in the presence of a craftsman of the trade of Freemasons.
That none could be accepted a Freemason except he were of able body, honest parentage, good reputation, and an observer of the laws of the land.
That no Freemason could be admitted into any lodge or assembly without production of his certificate, stating the time, place, and lodge that had accepted him, signed by the master of the limit or division where such lodge was kept. The master was enjoined to register the names of all accepted on a parchment roll.
That all existing Masons should produce a slip to the master, showing the time of his acceptation, for the purpose of ascertaining his precedence, and rendering him more generally known.
That in future the fraternity should be regulated and governed by a Grand Master and as many wardens as the yearly convocation should determine.
That no one should be accepted under 21 years of age.
In 1666 the Great Fire of London afforded employment for Masons.
In 1673 the foundation stone of St. Paul's Cathedral was laid by the King, Lord Rivers, the Grand Master, his architect and journeymen, the nobility of all ranks, the bishops and clergy, and the Lord Mayor and Aldermen. The plan had been supplied by Christopher Wren, the Deputy Grand Master, and its execution entrusted to him and his wardens, Edward Strong and his son, by Act of Parliament.
On Dec. 2, 1697, service was held in the Cathedral, on the occasion of the peace of Riswick. Christopher Wren the younger placed the last stone on the tower in 1710.
Sir Christopher Wren restored most of the churches, after the Fire of London, in more or less questionable taste; but probably these were not his designs, but made in his office by other members of the company of Masons.
The political troubles under James II., 1685-1689, and William III., 1689-1702, threw the building trade out of employment.
Under Anne, 1702-1714, many churches were built, and the masons again found work.
George I. made his solemn entry into London on Sept. 20, 1714. Wren, born in 1631, was then in his 84th year, and opportunity was seized to render the Grand Master the centre of combination and harmony.
This may be, therefore, taken as the first dawn of the transition from operative to purely symbolic masonry. Four lodges united on this occasion, those respectively held at the " Goose and Gridiron," in St. Paul's Church, yard which in 1776 assumed the name ".Antiquity;" at the " Crown," Park Street, Drury Lane; at the " Apple Tree," Charles Street, Covent Garden; at the " Romans and Grapes," in Channel Street West.
They chose the eldest Master temporarily as Grand Master, whose authority neither extended beyond the limit of the district nor enured beyond the sitting.
The annual meeting was held in the lodge of the "Goose and Gridiron," when the Grand Master for the ensuing year was chosen, Anthony Sayer being the first elected.
A stringent resolution was also passed, to the effect that no lodge should in future be considered regular save it held a warrant of the Grand Master for the time being, excepting always the four above-named lodges.
Anthony Sayers was succeeded by George Payne in 1718; by Theophilus Desaguliers in 1719, who visited Scotland; by the Duke of Montagu in 1721 ; by the Earl of Wharton in 1722 ; by the Earl of Dalkeith in 1723, in which year the old charges were published; by the Duke of Richmond in 1724, under whom the Grand Treasurer's office was established; and by Lord Paisley in 1725.
Up to 1725 the Grand Lodge alone could make Masons, the power was now confided to the discretion of private lodges regularly assembled under a master and wardens, and an adequate number of fellow-crafts, and for want of master Masons many lodges were still presided over by fellow-crafts. The roll then contained 49 lodges. The Lord Paisley was followed by the Earl of Inchquin in 1726, in which year provincial Grand Masters were introduced, Lord Colerane was Grand Master in 1727, and Viscount Kingston, under whom the twelve Grand Stewards were introduced in 1728, and in 1729 the Fund of Benevolence was instituted. Lord Kingston having introduced Freemasonry into the East Indies, resigned in favour of the Duke of Norfolk, who brought from Venice the sword of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, now used in Grand Lodge, and in 1731 became first Grand Master of Ireland.
The Duke of Lothringen, afterwards Francis I., was received in the Hague as apprentice and fellow-craft in May, 1731, by a deputation from the Grand Lodge, and subsequently raised to the degree of a Master Mason in London, and Brother du Thom was made Provincial Grand Master of Nether Saxony, district of Hamburg. The succeeding Grand Masters were-Viscount Montecute in 1732 ; the Earl of Strathmore in 1733, under whom the Hamburg Lodge and the North American Lodges were founded; the Earl of Cranford in 1734; Viscount Weymouth in 1735 ; the Earl of Loudoun in 1736; Earl Darnley in 1737 ; the Marquis of Caernarvon in 1738, under whom a deputation from the Absolon Lodge at Hamburg received the Prince Frederick, afterwards Frederick the Great, into English Masonry, and laid the foundation of it in Prussia. Lord Raymond was Grand Master in 1739, and the Earl of Kintore in 1740.
In 1741 the Grand Lodge established a Provincial Lodge in the West Indies, and in 1743 the Union Lodge in Frankfort-on-the-Maine. Lord Ward was Grand Master in 1742. The absence of the Grand Master and so many brethren from England during the wars of this period in Germany and Flanders precluded the holding of many meetings of Grand Lodge for despatch of business, nor did Grand Lodge revive till 1754, when the Marquis of Caernarvon took personal interest in the matter. In 1755 the Lodge "Frederick," heretofore known as the provincial Lodge of the circle of Nether Saxony, was constituted a Provincial Grand Lodge for His Majesty's dominions in Germany, with its seat at Hanover.
In 1799, however, speculative Masons obtained an exception from the "Act for the more effectual suppression of societies established for seditious and treasonable purposes, and for better preventing treasonable and seditious practices." Thus the Act 39 Geo Ill., cap. 79, s. 5, provides "that whereas certain societies have been long accustomed to be holden in this kingdom under the denomination of Lodges of Freemasons, the meetings of which have been in a great measure directed to charitable purposes, nothing in this Act shall extend to the meetings of any such society or lodge which shall, before the passing of this Act, have been usually holden under the said denomination, and in conformity with the rules prevailing among the said Societies of Freemasons." Then follows the proviso in the following section (6) : "That two members shall certify on oath, before a Justice of the Peace, that such society or lodge has, before the passing of this Act, been usually held under the denomination of a Lodge of Freemasons and in conformity with the rules prevailing among the Societies or Lodges of Freemasons in the Kingdom."
And then goes on to say that the certificate shall be subscribed and deposited with the clerk of the peace of the locality where the lodge is held; but that the exemption shall not apply unless the name of the lodge, its place, and times of meeting, with the names and descriptions of every member, be registered within two months after the passing of the Act, and before the 25th of March in every succeeding year.
The Quarter Sessions has power to suspend such certificate on reasonable cause shown on oath, whereupon the meetings are to be illegal, and, on conviction before a magistrate, the offender may be imprisoned for three calendar months or fined £20, to be levied by distress, in default of which the imprisonment for three months shall apply; but, if proceeded against by indictment, the offender may be transported for seven years, or imprisoned for two years.
It is, however, clear that this exemption does not apply to any lodges not then in existence, so that the members of a lodge, the warrant for which dates subsequently to the 12th of July, 1799, are subject to the penal provisions of this Act, whether registered or not, although this may not possibly have been the intention of the enactment.
It is therefore evident that in 1799 the Government of the day was assured that there was nothing dangerous to the State in this institution; but it is also abundantly clear to whom it was indebted for the exception, though the restricted form in which it is granted equally proves that powerful influence must have been exerted to obtain even this limited licence of existence. Nearly the whole of the Royal Family then belonged to the craft, and it was impossible to suppose, under such circumstances, treason or seditious practices.
Thus, in 1782, the Duke of Cumberland was installed Grand Master on the 1st of May. In 1787 the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV., and his brothers the Dukes of York and Clarence, afterwards William IV., were initiated; and in 1790 the Duke of Kent was received at Geneva. In 1795 the Duke of Gloucester became a Mason; and in 1796 the Duke of Cumberland, afterwards King of Hanover. The Duke of Sussex, afterwards Grand Master, was initiated in the Royal Lodge at Berlin in 1798; and the Prince of Wales (George IV.) was Grand Master in 1799, the year in which the Act of that year was passed. With such an array of Royal personages, it is not surprising that the fraternity was favourably considered by the Government of the day. It cannot at the same time be denied that treasonable combinations had been attributed to Freemasons, who, on their part, indignantly denied the imputation, asserting that their name had been abused by persons unconnected with their body, to cover conspiracies against the State.
An explanation of the rumour may, however, be found in the occurrences which had shortly before taken place in France, where there was a deadly raid against Freemasons generally, as attached to the old order of things, and where the Grand Master, Philippe Joseph of Orleans, commonly known as Egalite, despite his treason to his family and class, lost his head on the scaffold on the 6th of November, 1793.
In France there has ever been a tendency to mix up political and religious subjects with masonry, and such is certainly the case at the present time, and it is for this reason that their lodges have always been under Government surveillance, and cannot, in fact, be called secret societies at all. The emigration of French refugees to this country may have contributed a colour to the accusation, but there can be no doubt that Masons in England, whatever may have been their individual views out of lodge, never discussed them when assembled as Masons.
About the year 1740, discontent arose in the bosom of Grand Lodge, on account of certain innovations alleged to have been made without due authority in Freemasonry, and especially in the regulations and constitutions. This increasing, a schism took place, and the schismatics split off, and formed a Grand Lodge of their own, under the denomination of "Ancient Masons," but afterwards called the "York Masons," while their opponents termed them "Modern Masons." Consequently on the 24th of June, 1742, an order was made by Grand Lodge forbidding the printing of proceedings or the names of persons present at Grand Lodge, without order of the Grand Master (Lord Ward, of Birmingham, holding that office), under pain of excommunication and incapacity for office, and three lodges were erased for not sending representatives.
On the 20th of March, 1755, at a Grand Lodge held under the presidency of Manningham, the question between the two branches of Masons was discussed by an assembly of sixty lodges, when it was resolved that the so-called "Ancient Masons" should be discouraged, and on the 24th of July following, it was resolved that the lodge 94, meeting at the Ben Jonson's Head, in Pelham Street, Spitalfields, should be erased and the brethren excommunicated. The war thus declared, raged with intensity. In 1777 these excommunicate Masons appear to have again attracted attention, and a still stronger minute passed with reference to these Masons described as under the protection. The feud continued until 1790, when, by arrangement, the Duke of Kent became Grand Master of the excommunicate Masons, and the Duke of Sussex of the legitimate branch. Articles of union were drawn up, the two Royal Grand Masters sitting on either side of the throne. The articles were then signed by either on behalf of the bodies they respectively represented; and being received by acclamation, the Duke of Kent resigned the Grand Mastership of the Ancient Masons, and the Duke of Sussex was installed Grand Master of the united body. This was termed the Lodge of Reconciliation.
After declaring that pure and ancient masonry consisted of three degrees and no more, including the Royal Arch, the following proviso is appended:-"But this article is not intended to prevent any lodge or chapter from holding a meeting in any of the degrees of the orders of chivalry according to the constitution of the said orders." This article, therefore, is antagonistic to the assumption of the title or prefix masonic, which is confined to the three above-mentioned degrees; at the same time it implies that a masonic qualification is required for such orders.
The quotation above given does not appear in the printed book of the constitutions of Grand Lodge, and is said to have been omitted by the influence of the Grand Master, who being a Unitarian was anxious to ignore the Trinitarian element of the Temple and of the Rose Croix degrees, and having become the head of all the degrees, used his position to suppress all but the craft degrees, which were purely deistic.
The Royal Arch degree, dating only from 1790, was composed and put together out of several of these so-called higher degrees, the Knights of the Sword, the Knights of the East and West, the Red Cross of Babylon, and others, eliminating the Christian element, so as to bring it within the building allegory and deistic principle. It is, however, not the old Royal Arch, but a new invention of very recent date, founded on ignorance and an error of the meaning of the French word ach, or triple crux ansata-a symbol of life and Trinitarianism. The cross had two significations diametrically opposed to each other, and may be verified by the monuments of Egypt. The inundations of that country produced either plenty or famine in proportion to their extent. The water was measured by a graduated pile, on which a horizontal beam traversed, rising or falling with the inundation; thus when the beam floated to the top of the pile, forming the crux ansata, it showed that the inundation was plenary; and indicated plenty, or in other words life.
The crux ansata, vulgarly termed the Nile Key, may be seen in the hand of the hawk-headed God in any museum of Egyptian antiquities This was a sign of human life, and allegorically of eternal life; whereas the so-called passion cross in all its variations below the crux ansata was necessarily a sign of death, alluding to an inundation short of that which would produce general fertility in the Nile Valley. The cross is of an origin far anterior to Christianity, nor does it necessarily refer to the event of the crucifixion, except when used in reference to Christianity.
It will be observed that the "Highest order of the Holy Royal Arch " is added parenthetically at the end of the declaration contained in the 2nd article of union, which states that pure and ancient masonry consists of three degrees and no more-viz., the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason; substantially this is a fourth degree, though it is described as the completion of the Master Mason's degree, which is obviously absurd as well as untrue. Not only has it a different and independent legend, administration, and clothing, but it is also quite unconnected with the former degrees, which are complete in themselves, even without reference to the origin of Freemasonry in the operative masonic guild. It is inserted in an ambiguous and permissive clause, and allowed to pass in this form on the demand of the York Masons (Ancient Mason) to facilitate the union of the two contending parties.
Its old form was changed, consolidated, and abbreviated, and a ritual composed in this sense by Adam Brown, chaplain to the Duke of Sussex, on the same deistic principles as the three legitimate degrees; it is unknown in its present form out of the British Isles, and was nonexistent in its present form before Dec. 1, 1813. This is sufficiently evident from no trace of it being found as such in either Sweden, Germany, or France, who derived their systems from England, previously to this invention, nor has it been adopted elsewhere, and cannot but be considered as a blemish on the system of the three degrees. On the other hand the Mark Degrees are legitimate portions of the second and third degrees, and still exist in a practical form among operative Masons, whose marks are termed Bank Marks, the object the identification of the work with the workman.
In 1725 Lord Derwentwater, who was executed as attached to the cause of the Stuarts) introduced, in conjunction with two English noblemen, masonry into France. In 1836 the four French lodges were constituted a province under the Grand Lodge of England, and in 1838 declared their independence; but the craft was excommunicated by a bulle of Clement XII., and an edict of Louis XV. forbade the courtiers to join the society, to propagate it, or practise it in their houses; it nevertheless continued to extend itself till Lord Ramsay, in 1740, introduced the so-called Scottish rite of seven degrees, a system unknown in either Scotland, England, or elsewhere, but framed with political objects.[ "Histoire des Trois Grandes Loges en France," de Rebold. Paris, 2864, P. 45]
Since then masonry has played a sorry role in France, as it has also latterly in Italy. The exuberant imagination of the French nation led it into all sorts of quasi-masonic combinations, which had really no affinity nor resemblance to masonry, but were purely secret societies, without any cohesion or sequence. They even invented degrees for women.
Prince Philippe Joseph of Orleans (Egalite) became Master on the 24th of June, 1771, and accepted the office on the 6th of April in the following year. On the 5th of March, 1773, the style " Grand National Lodge" was decreed in lieu of the Grand Orient of France. The anarchy continued. On the 7th of February, 1778, Voltaire was initiated in the Nine Sisters, in his 85th year.
The French Book of Constitutions was drawn up in 1743, bearing the date of December 11, where it is intituled "Grande Loge Anglaise de France," Louis Duke of Bourbon and Count of Clermont being then Grand Master; but on July 4, 1755, new constitutions were approved, and the denominations changed, omitting the word " Anglaise," to Grande Loge de France.
In the meantime certain Scottish noblemen and other partizans of the Stuarts had begun, after the revolt of 1745, to misuse masonry for political purposes.
The first of these was St. Jean, a Metropolitan Chapter founded by the Pretender, and the Loge St. Jean d'Ecosse, founded by his friends in Marseilles in 1750. Subsequently, in 1754, the Clermont High Grade Chapter of France was constituted by Chevalier de Bonneville. Percet, President of the Paris Lodge, thereupon founded a new High Grade, the "Knights of the East," in 1756, antagonistically to the foregoing; whereupon the Jesuits of Lyons established the Council of the Emperors of the East and West Sovereign Prince Masons in 25 degrees, which subsequently obtained the style of "Perfection of Heridom in Twenty-five Degrees," whereupon the Grand Lodge of France, by decree of the 24th of June, 1766, "forbade all lodges and chapters to recognize this usurped authority," which led to a schism between the two bodies, and the establishment of a second Grand Lodge. .These two bodies abused each other in libellous pamphlets, until the Government intervened, and closed the Grand Lodge in 1767. The Grand Master, the Count of Clermont, died on the 15th of July, 1770, without having succeeded in putting a stop to this contention.
In 1788 the Grand Orient of France worked out a reformed system under the style of French Reformed Rite, Modern Rite, in four Orders or divisions - Elected, Scottish, Knight of the East, and Rose Croix, notwithstanding the circular of the 3rd of October, 1777, ordering private lodges to recognize the first three degrees only. According to the Ordinance of 1865 (June 8), it is now settled that the apprentice must be 21 years and 5 months old before being advanced to the fellow-craft's degree, and 21 and 7 months before he is eligible for M. M.; 25 for Rose Croix and Kadosch, [El Khodis is the Arabic term for the city of Jerusalem] meaning "most holy;" 30 for the 32 ; and 33 for the 33, the regular intervals being from apprentice to fellow-craft two, and thence to M. M. seven months. In the higher degrees, from one category to the other, three months.
These degrees are unknown in Sweden and Germany, but have been introduced into England through the United States, but not direct from France where they originated.
During the Reign of Terror, the lodges ceased to meet, and in 1798 the chief police authority, by a circular, authorized the meetings, provided they were previously announced to the police, which was to have free right of entry.
On the 22nd of June, 1799, a union was effected, and ultimately ratified on the 5th of December, 1804. Napoleon is said to have visited incognito a lodge in St. Morceau, to ascertain the feelings of the body of Masons, and to have gone away satisfied; but it is a doubtful piece of history that he was initiated in Malta between the 12th of June and 9th of July, 1798, on his way to Egypt.
In 1814 political events led to the suspension of the work for many months. The working was then resumed, the police constantly intervening, but in an unsatisfactory footing till 1851, when the work was again suspended, and since that time has continued in a more or less unsatisfactory state, showing it to be an institution not adapted to the genius of the French nation.
Nothing in the history of modern Freemasonry has tended more to render a useful and harmless institution ridiculous than its adoption in France. Not only have this people invented a number of degrees at once senseless and pernicious, but have brought it into discredit by censurable conduct, absurd rites, and puerile practices, some imitated from the supposed initiatory ceremonies of the Egyptian priesthood, of which, in truth, next to nothing is known, but also, by introducing a system of terrorism and masquerade borrowed from the Assassins, the Illuminati, and other like societies.
[Simon, the chief of the Syrian Hast eesheen (assassins), had a hole in the ground near his divan, covered with a plate sufficiently large to admit a man's neck ; in this he placed one of his followers, sprinkling his head with blood. He then caused the man's comrades to be introduced, and in their presence questioned the man, saying, "Tell thy comrades what thou hast seen and what has been communicated to thee." The man replied as instructed, and was thereupon asked, "Wouldst thou prefer to return to the world and thy companions or to dwell for ever in paradise ?" "Wherefore," said the man, "should I wish to return, having seen my tent in paradise, the hoories, and all that God has prepared for me? Companions, greet my relations, and have a care to obey this prophet, who is the lord of prophets in eternity as God hath told me. Peace be with you." Simon then drew the man out and struck his head off to ensure secrecy. This pantomime was, and perhaps is, still practised, except the murder, in some foreign lodges in a certain degree.]
It is nevertheless quite clear that the reception into these guilds was accompanied by a ritual or ceremony, very simple in its nature, and that certain charges were given to those who were accepted as members, inculcating obedience and loyalty to the body of which they became members; and persons whose mode of life was disreputable, thieves and helers of such, were excluded; but anything so detailed or peculiar as our present ritual, with its allegories, certainly did not exist in the old operative guilds. The expressions "free and accepted" are, however, of undoubted antiquity, indicating that they were free of the guild and city, and accepted as such; the distinction between operative and free and accepted is therefore modern, for at present the body of speculative Masons is not a corporation, but a mere guild in the old sense, society, or club, to which the term is improperly applied, as membership does not imply that legal status which belongs to a chartered company, nor the political rights which attach to the members of a City company, who enjoy a personal franchise independently of property.
In a word, it may be said that the simple principles of modern Freemasonry have been so prostituted by the French, that it is by no means advisable for British Masons to enter their Lodges ; and although the necessity of belonging in the first instance to a craft lodge in the dominions of Great Britain is imperative, and acts as a wholesome check, yet the continual spasmodic attempts to introduce these degrees into this country tends to degrade an institution beneficial to society and the interests of general morality. In no case can the craft tolerate the arrogation by these degrees of the designation "masonic," which is its exclusive right, and which neither historically nor logically applies to any other society.
The records of the St. Mary's Masonic Guild in Edinburgh mark the period up to which, at least, the guild of Masons was strictly operative, electing non-operative members occasionally only for the purpose of obtaining the protection of influential persons, and the maintenance of their privileges which began to be infringed by workmen who, not having been regularly apprenticed to the trade, were not admissible into the guild. The following, founded on extracts from the minutes of the Builders' Guild of Edinburgh, is highly significant:
The oldest entry in the minute-book of the No. 1, or St. Mary's Lodge, in Edinburgh, orginally held in St. Mary;s Chapel, Holyrood, bears date Dec 28, 1598, but it was not until 1728 that it appears to have been the practice to admit non-operative members in the guild ab initio. Thus in 1600 Mr. Boswell, of Auchenlich, was elected a member; and in 1641 the Hon. Robert Moray, quartermaster-general of the army in Scotland, and one or two other non-operatives of a like social rank, were thereafter and thereabout admitted to membership, amongst whom Dr. Maxwell, the king's physician; Mr. Strachan, of Thornton ; Sir Robert Harper, of Cambuskenneth, and others. In August, 1721, the celebrated Dr. Theophilus Desaguliers, the author of the "Book of Constitutions of England," and who in 1719 was the Grand Master, visited the lodge; the meeting was called at his instance, and through his influence certain non-operatives, chiefly members of the Town Council, were admitted. It is inferred that the Master's degree, which was not introduced in Scotland till 1728, owes its origin to this visit.
The first election of a non-operative brother as Master occurred on Dec. 28, 1753 ; but, in the January following, the Grand Master visited the lodge, and remonstrated with the brethren on their choice.
The lodge of journeymen was formed in 1708. The secession arose from the dissatisfaction felt at the mode in which the society's affairs were administered.
On the late Prince Consort being invited to lay the foundation stone of a building in Edinburgh, the then Grand Master, the Duke of Athol protested that it was, and ever had been, the right and privilege of the Grand Master of Masons in Scotland to lay the foundation stones of public buildings, thus asserting the right of the operative guild.
Thus it is clear that, up to 1753 at least, the lodges in Scotland were purely guilds of operative workmen, with a very small admixture of non-operatives elected honoris causa, and it may be fairly presumed that the introduction of symbolical masonry in Scotland, allowing only 22 years for the complete transition from purely operative to purely symbolical masonry, its antiquity is reduced to a century; and any origin a lodge may lay claim to anterior to that period must be derived from some operative lodge, which had gradually become inoperative and lapsed into pure symbolism.
It is historically certain that the Swedish lodges derived their origin from England. In 1731, Count Sparre, Master of the Horse, was initiated in Paris, and in 1735, founded a lodge in Stockholm, but three years afterwards the practice of masonry was forbidden under pain of death. This prohibition was, however, of short duration, and Frederick the Great, of Prussia, received a deputation from the Swedish Lodges. Between 1740-5 masonry extended so considerably that in 1746 a memorial coin was struck. In 1753 King Adolph Frederick recognized and became Grand Master of masons in Sweden. In 1765 the Grand Master, Lord Blaney, granted a warrant to Charles Fullman, secretary of the British Legation, dated the 10th of April, and in 1770 the Grand Lodge of Sweden was recognized by the English Grand Lodge.
The Order of the Temple was introduced by Gustavus III., under the denomination of "Eques a corona vindicata". He succeeded Baron Hoepken in the Grand Mastership in 1771, which he transferred to his younger brother, Duke of Sundermannsland, afterwards Charles XIII., and the royal princes declared by a rescript of Gustavus IV. to be for ever born Masons.
In 1803 an edict against secret societies was promulgated, from the operation of which, however, Masons were excepted.
Charles XIV. succeeded to the Grand Mastership as Duke of Sundermannsland, and John Bernadotte, on the change of the royal line, nevertheless assumed the Grand Mastership as a prerogative of the Crown.
The Swedish Minister in London, Count Lagardge, attended the Lodge of Reconciliation in 1813.
Charles XIV. resigned the Grand Mastership to Prince Oscar on ascending the throne in 1818.
In 1844 King Oscar I. assumed the title of Vicar of Solomon, which his father had reserved to himself out of the grant. Charles XV. assumed the Vicariat of Solomon, appointing his brother Grand Master.
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was initiated and installed in the Temple by Charles XV. on his visit to Stockholm in 1869.
IN 1733 a lodge was established in Hamburg, but seems to have died out. On the 6th of December, 1737, a new lodge was opened in Hamburg On the 23rd of October, 1740, its constitution was reformed under the style of the Absalom Lodge, and recognized by the Provincial Grand Master, who was elected soon after.
Delegates were sent from the lodge in 1738, to initiate Frederick, afterwards Frederick the Great of Prussia, Lord Caernarvon being then Grand Master.
The Hereditary Marshal of Thuringen was appointed Provincial Grand Master of the circle of Lower Saxony in 1741, under Grand Master Field-Marshal Count Rutowski. This lodge worked for six years only.
On June 20, 1740, Frederick came to the throne, and forthwith established the Lodge "du Roi notre Grand Maitre, at Charlottenburg," which he opened in person. On the 13th of September the king consented to the foundation of the "Three Spheres." At the consecration of this lodge on the 10th of March, 1741, the Grand Master, the Earl of Morton; Count Trucksess Waldburg, Prussian Minister Plenipotentiary, who had attended the quarterly communication of the 24th of February; Mr. de Andre, the king's minister; Mr. de Bidefeld, secretary of legation, are mentioned in the minutes; also in those of the Three Spheres of the 21st of July, 1841, the arrival of Mr. de Bidefeld from London on the 20th of September, 1743; Lord Hindfort, the British minister and a member of Grand Lodge, was mentioned as having been made an honorary member of the Three Spheres.
On the 8th of February, 1743, the English Grand Lodge granted a warrant to the "Union" of Frankfort-on-the-Maine.
In 1755 the lodge "Frederick" was warranted by the Grand Lodge of England as a Provincial Lodge for "Her Majesty's dominions in Germany," despite the protest of the lodge of Hamburg against this infringement of its jurisdiction. In 1828 this lodge became independent, and worked as such to 1867, when it was dissolved.
In 1773 a warrant was executed by Brother Charles Dillon, Deputy Grand Master, whereby the Zinnendorf associated lodges were recognized as the Grand Lodge of Germany, in consideration of an annual tribute. The Three Spheres protested in vain against this infringement of jurisdiction in 1776; but, in 1778, this convention with the Grand Lodge of Germany was declared cancelled.
Neither Kloss's "Annals of the Union Lodge of Frankfort," nor Kugler's "Handbook of the History of Art," nor Liibkes's "History of Architecture," nor William Kellern, or any other common author on this subject, makes any mention of, or allusion to, the so-called higher degrees attributed to Frederick the Great. Neither is there any trace in the last historical manuscript of 1871 issued under the authority of the Grand Mother Lodge of Prussia, of their ever having existed in Prussia. These degrees were, as has been seen just above, invented in France, and thence passed to the United States. Up to a comparatively recent period the higher degrees up to No. 30 were under the jurisdiction of the Temple, and conferred in its encampments, when certain Past Masters of the Lodge of Harmony conspired with the then principal executive officer of the Temple to deprive that body of its right, and institute a Supreme Council of the 33rd degree independently of it.
To this end they communicated with a certain Dr. Gourgas, of Charlestown, U.S.A., who pretended to hold a charter from Frederick the Great of Prussia, and thence they obtained a warrant; and some working with the co-operation of a baptized Jew called Crucifix, a medical practitioner of the lowest speciality, and who had a difference with the Grand Lodge.
The progress of the speculation was not, however, felicitous for the general body of those who joined in this institution.
Funds to a very large amount were not forthcoming, and remained unaccounted for; some of those liable were dead, and others declined to account, and the newly constituted body fell into discredit and attracted little or no attention till revived by other parties, and finally established as a company limited under the Liability Acts of 1862 and 1867. The Prussian Masons repudiate the so-called charter of Frederick the Great, in so far as it is alleged to have emanated from him, as a barefaced forgery.
Though the supremacy of Catholicism had been destroyed in England by Henry VIII., and the reformed religion recognized under Edward V1., it received a violent check under Mary; which, however, probably contributed to its later success. Even Elizabeth showed an ill-concealed leaning to the more attractive forms of the old faith, so that the Reformed Church could hardly be said to have struck deep root among the people till some considerable time after its state recognition; but it was still longer before even the more educated classes began to exercise the right of free examination and of private judgment, which the principles of Protestantism professed to admit; nor was it until the 18th century, some 150 years after the Reformation had caused to be forgotten the iron rule of Catholicism, which admits of neither, that the diestic principle fairly asserted itself. As is usual with the emancipated to misuse a newly-acquired freedom, and confound liberty with licence, many rushed into the opposite extreme and sects professing extraordinary and often irrational theories arose.
Rationalism began to dawn, and its secretaries craved after an association that should set them free from dogmas, which they repudiated. The time was, however, not as yet ripe for the open profession of Deistic doctrines, and they clutched at the opportunity offered by the guilds and companies under a reformed church, to associate for these purposes. The deliberations of the guilds had been always involved in secrecy, heightened by the obligation of an oath which prohibited the divulging of the trade mysteries. None of these could have been more fitting for their purpose, or affording more suitable allegories and symbols than the united guilds of Freemasons and Masons; the more so as the secrecy incident to the meeting relieved the members from the odium attaching to a dissenting body. The unity of the Supreme Being could be asserted without the antiquated Oriental incumbrances and inconvenient rites of Judaism.
The guilds, though Christian, imposed no religious test; and on the Company of Freemasons and Masons they engrafted a symbolical or speculative system by an enlargement and elaboration of existing elements and practices.
The Masonic Guilds, however, offered other advantages for the foundation of such societies; they inculcated charity, relief of their poorer brethren, obedience to superiors, and a love of order. Thus to the present day, so far as the brotherhood is concerned, every member professes Deism in its most general sense, but without binding himself not to profess outside of the fraternity whatever he may choose over and above that great fundamental principle.
The framework was moreover ready to hand, the principal seat of the guild was in the capital, with its branches in the principal towns. By equally insensible degrees symbolical lodges, imitated from the operative guilds, arose, unconnected with these latter, not, however, as corporate, but as voluntary societies. This origin in Deism also accounts for the inveteracy with which symbolical Masons were persecuted by the Catholic party, and for the papal belles by which they were, and still are, denounced. Thus modern Freemasonry gradually grew out of operative Masonry, so insensibly, indeed, that no exact epoch can be assigned to its introduction; nay, it is presumable that the two coexisted, till at length the symbolical overshadowed and took the place of the operative system. The Order of Freemasons was introduced from England, and flourished in Protestant Germany and Sweden, while it made little or no progress in Catholic Germany and Italy, where it was under the ban. France was never so absolutely under the papal domination, and the papal bulles were disregarded.
The Jesuits, however, with that admirable tact which is the foundation of their power, itself a secret society, with secret means of recognition, discovered more politic means of neutralizing an antagonistic institution by superimposing Christian degrees which should attract the better class of society, and place their rivals in a small minority. Their attempt was successful, and Freemasonry, as a mere Deistic society, ceased to exist. But, independently of this religious opposition on the one hand and rivalry on the other, the abuse of the institution for political purposes in Southern Europe rendered it highly distasteful to the Governments of those countries.
The Jesuits having, then, introduced the 25 degrees ending in the Rose Croix, in allusion to the cryptic worship of the early Christians in the age of Nero and Domitian,[ It is historically clear that the Romans did not persecute Christians as such, but as a new sect of Judaism.
They troubled themselves little or not at all about the doctrines-in fact, knew nothing about them, for the Christians are described as worshippers of Serapis ; "Qui Serapen colunt Cbristiani sunt."] deduced the regular historical descent from the unity of the Supreme Being as professed by the Jews, under Solomon, to the development of Trinitarian Christianity under Nero and his successors, and that system was so far logical and sequential in the assertion, that they " came not to destroy but to fulfil." Up to the period of the reformed French rite this degree was termed the ne plus ultra; but, beyond this, other degrees, as has been seen, were afterwards added by the French Commission, to make up somehow or other 33, with an obvious allusion.
This was, however, not sufficient for the insatiable appetite of the French people, and the Rite of Mirzaim - i.e., of the two, or Upper and Lower, Egypts - was invented in 99 degrees, professing, in so far as it exceeded the Scotch rite, to be based on the initiations of the Egyptian Hierophants, of which scarcely anything is known now, and at that time absolutely nothing, and which, therefore, rest, like many of the degrees of the Reformed French Rite, on no firmer basis than pure speculation and invention, or springing out of the fervid imagination of enthusiasts more wild than discreet.
By these means the simple and beautiful allegories, drawn from the ancient operative guilds were overlaid by a mass of inconsequent incongruous and fanciful forms and absurd and incomprehensible legends, and meaningless rites answering no purpose but that of injuring an ancient and respectable institution.
The Order of the Temple in like manner had its origin in France. A Portuguese, named Numez, introduced it at Paris under the denomination "Ordre du Christ." According to his account the Knights of the Temple at the time of their disestablishment had obtained a bulle from Pope Clement, not only exempting them from the operation of the resolution of the Consistory of March 22, 1313, by which the Order was suppressed, but incorporating them anew as the Order of Christ, and that consequently they were not under the ban of their brethren in France and everywhere else, but at liberty to continue their succession under that denomination. This order became on the 19th of July, 1806, an adjunct to the lodge, intituled the "Imperial Bee" (Abeille Imperiale) at Paris, and Marshall Lefevre, Duke of Danzic, the Grand Master. Its high degrees consisted in the 30 to 33 of the Scottish Rite, after which came the Order of Christ, with a Sovereign Grand Commander of the Temple as its highest degree; and therefore, in point of date, the most recent, except the Primitive Rite, which dates from the 8th of March, 1 8o8, the Order of Knights of Benevolence of the Holy City, June, 1808, and the Alchemic Degrees, 1809.
It would be superfluous to show that the assertion of Numez was entirely false, nay even destitute of all foundation, and that a bulle to that effect never existed, and that the very supposition is absurd.
A Royal Order of Christ exists in Portugal, purporting to be imitated from the Order of the Temple, where it ranks very high, but there is no pretence for identifying it with the Old Knights of the Temple, nor even for asserting that any of the dispossessed and disfranchised knights were received into this State Order of Knighthood.[It was founded by Dionysius, King of Portugal, in 1318, to encourage his nobles to act vigorously against the Moors, whence it received the appellation of Christiana Militia, and was endowed with the confiscated estates of the Templars.]
Thus none of these Orders or degrees are entitled to be regarded in any other light than as excrescences, which have grown out of the Masonic system of the three blue degrees, but as none can be admitted to them without having passed. through the three blue degrees, all who aspire to membership must have at least that qualification, and are, therefore, properly described as " Masons who belong to other secret societies professing similar principles."
Hence the following propositions become clear:
1. That Freemasonry had its origin in the operative Guild of Freemasons and Masons.
2. That symbolical masonry, as such, took its rise in England.
3. That all foreign lodges of speculative masons emanated from England at about the same epoch-viz.,
o England in 1717.
o France in 1725.
o Scotland in 1728.
o Sweden in 1731.
o Germany in 1733.
4. That anterior to 1717 speculative Masonry was unknown, except in so far as it was mixed up and formed a part of operative Masonry.
5. That an antiquity of 158 years is the greatest that can possibly be attributed to speculative or purely symbolical Masonry.
CLAYTON & Co., Temple Printing Works, Bouverie Street, Whitefriars, E.C.
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© Masonic High Council the Mother High Council 2005