Note:  This material was scanned into text files for the sole purpose of convenient electronic research. This material is NOT intended as a reproduction of the original volumes. However close the material is to becoming a reproduced work, it should ONLY be regarded as a textual reference.  Scanned at Phoenixmasonry by Ralph W. Omholt, PM in June 2007.




With All Good Wishes








Past Junior Grand Deacon

P.M., (Secretary and Editor 1961 - 1973) of the

Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, London

P.M., 2265, 2429, 6226, 7464

Honorary Member of 236, 2429, 2911, 3931, 7998, 8227

Fellow of the American Lodge of Research, N.Y., Honorary Member of

Ohio Lodge of Research, Masonic Research Lodge of Connecticut,

Loge Villard d'Honnecourt, No. 81 Paris (France),

Mizpah Lodge, Cambridge, Mass., Arts and Crafts Lodge, No. 1017, Illinois,

Walter F. Meier Lodge of Research, No. 281, Seattle, Washington,

Research Lodge of Oregon, No. 198, Portland,

Victoria Lodge of Education and Research, Victoria, B.C.

Honorary P.A.G.D.C. Grand Lodge of Iran





© Harry Carr 1976

First Published in Great Britain in 1976

Sixth and revised edition 1981

Reprinted 1983


Published by

A Lewis (Masonic Publishers) Ltd Terminal House, Shepperton, Surrey

who are members of the Ian Allan Group, and printed

by Ian Allan Printing Ltd at their works at

Coomblelands in Runnymede, England


ISBN 0 85318 126 8

Carr, Harry The Freemason at Work  -  6th revised edition

1. Freemasons

I. Title

366'.l HS395



By R.W.Bro. Sir Lionel Brett, P.Dist.G.M., Nigeria


THOSE who hold that good wine needs no bush may feel that a Foreword to this book is superfluous. There is some force in this view for the generation of readers who have known Bro. Harry Carr in person or by reputation, and grown accustomed to a regular flow of articles under his name, but Masonic books have a way of surviving in lodge book‑shelves long after they have gone out of print, and it seems certain that this one will be read, quoted and discussed by generations who have not had those advantages. A Foreword will justify itself if it helps future generations to put Bro. Carr in his proper class as a trustworthy guide, and this Foreword may be regarded as addressed to them.


            The United Grand Lodge of England makes little provision for organized Masonic instruction. Every member receives a copy of the Book of Constitutions, but apart from the annual Prestonian Lectures the rest is left to the efforts of lodges or individuals. The novice with an inquiring mind will not be content for long with a printed ritual and will demand further information, whether on the practice in lodge, or on the form of the after‑proceedings, or on some aspect of the history of operative or speculative Freemasonry. If he consults an individual, he will be fortunate to find a Preceptor or other informant as well equipped all round as Bro. Carr. If he turns to a book, there are a number in print which he can profitably study, but he may not always know where to look for an answer to his particular question. The distinguishing feature of this book is that it deals with questions that were actually exercising brethren over a period of twelve years.


            Bro. Carr describes the genesis of the book in his Introduction. It was largely thanks to him that the material it contains came to be included in the Summonses and Transactions of a lodge formed by and for erudite scholars, and the variety of his Masonic experience made him exceptionally well qualified to provide the material. As Deputy Preceptor and later Preceptor of a Lodge of Instruction for many years he was in close touch with the needs of brethren at the start of their Masonic careers. As a member of the Board of General Purposes of




viii                                                                     FOREWORD


Grand Lodge he had direct experience of the administration of the affairs of the governing body of English Freemasonry. He first showed his interest in Masonic research in 1936, and his election to full member‑ship of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge in 1953 is proof of the standing he already enjoyed as a Masonic scholar.


            Over the years Bro. Carr has made many contributions to Masonic literature, both as author and editor. During the period when he was Secretary of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge and Editor of its Transactions his publications in AQC included full‑scale papers presented to the Lodge and articles of varying length in Miscellanea Latomorum and `Papers and Essays' as well as answers to Queries. They all display the same pattern: facts first; conclusions, if any, later; and no concessions to those who prefer myth to history.


            The queries Bro. Carr was asked to deal with vary greatly in complexity as well as in subject‑matter. Where a pure issue of fact is concerned the answer may be accepted as authoritative. Where someone has put the insoluble question, why a particular expression is used in the ceremonies, Bro. Carr's historical exposition provides as satisfactory an answer as the case admits; he might have cited what Justice Holmes said in an analogous case - 'The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.' Where the question involves expressing a preference between two or more possible solutions, Bro. Carr has not been afraid to follow a statement of the relevant facts with an expression of his own opinion, but he has not done so dogmatically, or claimed to have said the last word. Bro. Carr's opinion on any Masonic question must carry weight, but he would certainly not wish anyone to adopt it merely on the authority of his name, and the most important thing is that he provides material for informed discussion.


            The reader a hundred years hence may confidently take it that on the matters it deals with this book accurately shows the state of Masonic knowledge, and the opinions that an unusually well informed Free‑mason could reasonably hold, at the time of its publication, and it is a great privilege to be associated with the book, if only in the ancillary capacity of writer of the Foreword.


                                                                                                LIONEL BRETT





FOREWORD by R.W.Bro. Sir Lionel Brett, P.Dist.G.M. Nigeria                                        vii

List of Illustrations and Diagrams                                                                                        xv

List of Abbreviations                                                                                                           xvi

INTRODUCTION                                                                                                               xvii

INDEX                                                                                                                               404



1. The Quatuor Coronati                                                                                                       1

2. The Bright Morning Star                                                                                                    2

3. The Compasses and the Grand Master                                                                            3

4. It proves a slip                                                                                                                    6

5. Why two Words for the M.M.?                                                                                           8

6. Apprentice and Entered Apprentice                                                                                  10

7. Titles of the United Grand Lodge of England                                                                   11

8. Every Brother has had his due                                                                                          12

9. Arms of the Grand Lodge. London Masons' Company.

The first Grand Lodge, 1717-1813. Antients' Grand

Lodge, 1751-1813. The United Grand Lodge                                                             14

10. L.F. across the Lodge                                                                                                     19

11. Raising and lowering the Wardens' Columns                                                                  21

12. Orientation of the Bible and of the Square and Compasses                                           23

13. The Points of Fellowship                                                                                                 27

14. The second part of the `Threefold Sign'                                                                          30

15. Divided loyalties? The Sovereign; place of residence;

native land                                                                                                                    33

16. Squaring the lodge                                                                                                           35 

17. The Winding Stairs                                                                                                           36

18. Penalties in the Obligations                                                                                              38

19. Confirming minutes and voting; the manner observed

among Masons                                                                                                                       45

20. The St. John's Card                                                                                                          46



For particular subjects please use the Index






x                                                                        CONTENTS




21. Masonic ritual in England and U.S.A.                                                                             47

22. The Bible in Masonic literature and in the lodge. When

did lodges take on a formal setting?                                                                                     51

23. Duly constituted, regularly assembled and properly dedi-

cated                                                                                                                                      54

24. The Secretary's annual subscription                                                                               56

25. What is the age of the Third Degree?                                                                              58

26. Dues Cards; Grand Lodge Certificates; Clearance Certi-

ficates                                                                                                                                     62

27. Architecture in Masonry                                                                                                    64

28. Questions after raising                                                                                                      66

29. Public Grand Honours                                                                                                       72

30. Breast, hand, and badge                                                                                                   73

31. Gauntlets                                                                                                                           75

32. Lewis; Lewises and the `Tenue-Blanche'                                                                          77

33. Darkness visible                                                                                                                78

34. The points of my entrance                                                                                                 79

35. Cowans; cowans and intruders                                                                                         86

36. Declaring all offices vacant                                                                                                89

37. Replacement of deceased officers                                                                                     90

38. Deacons as `Floor-officers'                                                                                                 91

39. Three steps and the first regular step                                                                                93

40. St. Barbara as a Patron Saint of the Masons                                                                     96

41. Sponsoring a new lodge                                                                                                    97

42. The Beehive                                                                                                                     100

43. Fellowcrafts and the `Middle Chamber'                                                                            103

44. The Master's hat                                                                                                               106

45. On Masonic visiting                                                                                                           108

46. Visiting of lodges by `unattached' Brethren                                                                       110

47. The network over the Pillars                                                                                             111

48. Will you be off or from?                                                                                                      113

49. London Grand Rank                                                                                                           115

50. Rosettes                                                                                                                              116

51. The knob or button on a P.M.'s Collar                                                                                 116

52. The Ladder and its symbols in the first Tracing Board                                                        117

53. Symbolism and removal of gloves                                                                                       120

54. The Risings; their purpose; modern practice                                                                       121

55. Emulation Working                                                                                                              123


For particular subjects please use the Index



  CONTENTS                                                xi



56. Masonic Fire: Craft Fire; silent Fire                                                                                124

57. Holiness to the Lord                                                                                                       127

58. Wearing two Collars                                                                                                       129

59. Improper solicitation                                                                                                        129

60. Bible openings                                                                                                                134

61. The Lion's Paw or Eagle's Claw                                                                                     136

62. A modernized ritual?                                                                                                       137

63. The left-hand Pillar                                                                                                         138

64. The valley of Jehoshaphat                                                                                             139

65. Aprons; flap up, corner up                                                                                              140

66. Signs given seated                                                                                                         143

67. What do we put on the V.S.L?                                                                                        144

68. Three, five and seven years old                                                                                      146

69. Origin of the word `Skirret'. Why is it not depicted the

Grand Lodge Certificate?                                                                                                      147

70. The Queen and the Craft                                                                                                150

71. Calling off; in which Degree?                                                                                           150

72. Sir Winston Spencer Churchill                                                                                         151

73. William Preston and the Prestonian Lectures                                                                  152

74. The Hiramic legend as a drama. Illogicalities in the Third

Degree                                                                                                                                   154

75. Orientation of the letter G                                                                                                 157

76. Passwords                                                                                                                        158

77. With gratitude to our Master ...                                                                                         162

78. The origin of the Collar                                                                                                     163

79. The Working Tools                                                                                                           164

80. Tubal Cain                                                                                                                        169

81. Crossing the feet                                                                                                               171

82. The Master's Light                                                                                                            173

83. Masonic After-proceedings; Table & Toasting practices

in the London area. Seating. Receiving the W.M.

Grace. The Gavel. Taking Wine. The Toast List and

`Fire'                                                                                                                                        174

84. Sepulchre or sepulture?                                                                                                    184

85. The W.M.'s Sign during Obligations                                                                                  186

86. Deacons as messengers                                                                                                   187

87. The exposures. How can we accept such evidence? The French exposures                   189

For particular subjects please use the Index



xii                                                                      CONTENTS



88. Titles during initiation                                                                                                          198

89. Crossing the wands                                                                                                            199

90. Opening and closing in the Name of the GAOTU                                                               202

91. The opening and closing odes                                                                                            204

92. Topping-out ceremonies                                                                                                     205

93. This `Glimmering Ray'                                                                                                         206

94. The Loyal Toast                                                                                                                  207

95. The altar of incense; a double cube                                                                                    207

96. Lettering and halving                                                                                                           208

97. The Light of a Master Mason                                                                                              209

98. Masonic and Biblical dates and chronology                                                                        211

99. Who invented B.C., and A.D.?                                                                                            212

100. Due examination of visitors                                                                                               212

101. The name `Hiram Abif'                                                                                                      213

102. `Time Immemorial' lodges                                                                                                 215

103. The Great Lights and the Lesser Lights                                                                           217

104. The Lesser Lights, Sun, Moon and Master. Which is

which?                                                                                                                                       219

105. Instruction and improvement of Craftsmen; why only

Craftsmen?                                                                                                                                222

106. So mote it be                                                                                                                      224

107. Your respective columns; vouching within the lodge                                                         225

108. The `half-letter' or `split-letter' system                                                                               226

109. Using the V.S.L. at Lodge of Instruction                                                                            227

110. The lodge on Holy Ground                                                                                                228

111. The meaning of the word `Passing'                                                                                   230

112. Unrecognized Grand Lodges                                                                                             232

113. Pillars of brass or bronze?                                                                                                 233

114. The length of my cable-tow; a cable's length from the

shore                                                                                                                                          234

115. Compass or compasses                                                                                                     236

116. York Rite                                                                                                                            237

117. Guttural, Pectoral, Manual, Pedestal                                                                                 238

118. The 24-inch gauge and the decimal system: as a `working

tool'                                                                                                                                            239

119. Correct seating in lodge                                                                                                    241

120. The Charge to the Initiate                                                                                                  241

121. Monarchs themselves have been promoters of the art                                                      244

For particular subjects please use the Index


CONTENTS                                                  xiii



122. The point within a circle                                                                                                   247

123. The `Five Platonic Bodies' and the Royal Arch                                                               248

124. Composition of the Board of General Purposes: Provincial

representation                                                                                                                          251

125. Naming of lodges                                                                                                             253

126. Corn, Wine, Oil and Salt in the Consecration Ceremony                                                 255

127. Progress in placing the Candidates. Turning the Candidate

in the Third Degree                                                                                                                   257

128. Fidelity, Fidelity, Fidelity: the Sn. of Fidelity; the Sn. of

Reverence                                                                                                                                257

129. Correct sequence of the Loyal Toast                                                                               261

130. Wardens' tests in the Second Degree and on the Winding

Stair                                                                                                                                          261

131. Landmarks: tenets and principles                                                                                     263

132. Is symbolism a Landmark?                                                                                               266

133. The consent and co-operation of the other two                                                               267

134. Money and metallic substances                                                                                      268

135. The attendance (signature) book                                                                                    270

136. The Tyler's Toast                                                                                                            271

137. Globes on the Pillars: maps, celestial and terrestrial                                                      272

138. The priest who assisted at the dedication of the Temple                                               275

139. Freemasonry and the Roman Catholic Church                                                               277

140. Why Tylers?                                                                                                                    282

141. When to produce the warrant                                                                                         283

142. The evolution of the Installation ceremony and ritual                                                      284

143. Salutations after Installation                                                                                            308

144. The long Closing                                                                                                             310

145. The Square and Compasses and the Points                                                                   312

146. Masonic Toasts                                                                                                                313

147. Presentation of gloves                                                                                                     319

148. The chequered carpet and indented border                                                                     321

149. Tassels on the carpet                                                                                                      323

150. Hebrew inscriptions on Tracing Boards of the Third Degree                                           324

151. Hele, conceal . . .                                                                                                             326

152. The 47th proposition on the Past Master's Jewel                                                            328

153. Ecclesiastes XII and the Third Degree                                                                             330

154. Opening a lodge: symbolism, if any                                                                                  331

155. Symbolism of the Inner Guard                                                                                          333

For particular subjects please use the Index



xiv                                                                      CONTENTS



156. Symbolism: interpretation and limitations                                                                       334

157. The Grand Pursuivant                                                                                                   336

158. The V.S.L. in our ceremonies                                                                                        338

159. Orators in Freemasonry                                                                                                 339

160. Must all three chairs be occupied throughout the Craft

ceremonies?                                                                                                                          342

161. Questions before Passing and Raising. Who may stay to

hear them?                                                                                                                            342

162. Non-conforming candidates                                                                                          343

163. U.S.A. lodges working in the Third Degree                                                                  345

164. The Wardens' columns; a pair or part of a set of three?                                              347

165. Admission of candidates in the Second Degree                                                           348

166. The assistance of the Square                                                                                      349

167. The Hailing Sign; when did it appear?                                                                         350

168. At, on, with, or in, the centre                                                                                         351

169. Saluting the Grand Officers, and others                                                                       353

170. Position of the rough and smooth ashlars                                                                    353

171. The Immediate Past Master's Chair                                                                             356

172. The star-spangled canopy in Freemasonry                                                                 357

173. Do hereby and hereon . . .                                                                                           359

174. The grave; its dimensions and location                                                                       359

175. Forty and two thousand                                                                                               361

176. The Due Guard                                                                                                           362

177. Tests of merit and ability                                                                                             366

178. Inaccuracies in the ritual                                                                                              368

179. Why leave the East and go to the West?                                                                    370

180. Ravenous or ravening?                                                                                               372

181. The earliest records of conferment of E.A., F.C., and

M.M. Degrees                                                                                                                      373

182. When to turn the Tracing Board                                                                                  375

183. H.R.H., The late Duke of Windsor, 1894–1972                                                           376

184. Tying the Aprons; strings at front or back?                                                                  377

185. The Junior Warden as `ostensible Steward'                                                                378

186. The National Anthem and the Closing Ode                                                                  379

187. Salute in passing                                                                                                          379

188. Formal investiture of officers                                                                                        380

189. The Chisel and its symbolism                                                                                      384

190. Absent Brethren; the nine-o'clock Toast                                                                      386


For particular subjects please use the Index



CONTENTS                                                  xv



191. Solomon and his Temple in the Masonic system                                                          387

192. Presentation to the Board of Installed Masters                                                             388

193. Grand Honours                                                                                                             392

194. Visitors' greetings to the Master                                                                                    393

195. Overloading the ceremonies                                                                                         394

196. The family tree of the Craft, Royal Arch, and Mark                                                      395

197. Knocks when calling the Tyler                                                                                     396

198. The preliminary step to `entrusting' and `communication'                                            397

199. The I.P.M.'s salutes in closing after each Degree                                                       398

200. Masonic statistics. How many lodges, Grand Lodges,

Freemasons?                                                                                                                       399

201. The Origin of the Points of Fellowship                                                                         403



List of Illustrations and Diagrams


Frontispiece: The Author

The Quatuor Coronati (from the Isabella Missal, c. 1500)                                                     1

The Grand Master's Jewel                                                                                                     4

Arms of the London Masons' Company                                                                                15

Arms of the Antients' Grand Lodge                                                                                       17

Arms of the United Grand Lodge                                                                                          19

L.F. across the Lodge                                                                                                           20

Tracing Board of the 2°; winding stairs anti-clockwise                                                        37

„ „ „      „ clockwise                                                                                                                 37

Ladder symbols on 1 ° Tracing Board by Bro. Esmond Jefferies                                       119

„           including the Key                                                                                                      119

Aprons, flap up, corner up                                                                                                    141

William Preston                                                                                                                     153

Seating at Table                                                                                                                    175

Illustration of the M.M. Degree (French) 1745                                                                       190

The circle of swords, 1745                                                                                                    195

Floor-drawing of the Third Degree; Le Macon Demasque, 1751                                          197

Pillars with `bowls', not `globes'                                                                                             273

Tracing Board of the 3°, with Hebrew inscription                                                                325

Jewel of the Grand Pursuivant                                                                                              337



For particular subjects please use the Index





A.: Answer                                                                 L.G.R.: London Grand Rank

A. & A.S.R.: Ancient and Accepted                        Leics.: The Leicester Lodge of Scottish Rite                                                                                Research, No. 2429

Antients: The Grand Lodge of                                 L. of I.: Lodge of Instruction

England according to the Old                      L. of R.: Lodge of Research

Institutions, 1751–1813                                Miller, A.L.: Notes on Hist. . . . of

AQC: Ars Quatuor Coronatorum.                                        the Lodge of Aberdeen. . . (1919)

(Transactions of the Quatuor                       Misc. Lat.: Miscellanea Latomorun:

Coronati Lodge)                                            M.M.: Master Mason

Asst.: Assistant                                                         Moderns: The premier Grand

Bd.: Board                                                                             Lodge, 1717–1813

B.G.P.: Board of General Purposes                       M.W.: Most Worshipful

B. of C.: Book of Constitutions                                Ob.: Obligation

B. of I.M.: Board of Installed                         O.E.D.: The Oxford English

Masters                                                                      Dictionary

Brn.: Brethren                                                            O.T.: The Old Testament

Cand.: Candidate                                                     P.: Past

Catechisme: Le Catechisme des                           Pen. Sn.: Penal Sign

Francs-Masons, 1744                                  p.g.: pass grip

C.C.: Correspondence Circle (of the                      P.M.: Past Master

Q.C. Lodge)                                                   Pres.: President

Claret: The Ceremonies of Initiation,                     Prov.: Provincial

Passing and Raising . . . 1838, etc.            p w: password

D.C.: Director of Ceremonies                                 Q.: Question

Deg.: Degree                                                            Q. and A. Question and Answer

Demasque: Le Macon Demasque,                        Q.C.: Quatuor Coronati (Lodge)

1751                                                               Q.C.A.: Quatuor Coronatorum

Dep.G.: Deputy Grand                                                          Antigrapha (Masonic Reprints)

Dist.G.: District Grand                                              R.A.: Royal Arch

E.C.: English Constitution                                        R.W.: Right Worshipful

E.F.E.: The Early French Exposures,                     S.C.: Scottish Constitution

1971                                                               Sec.: Secretary

E.M.C.: The Early Masonic Cate-                           Secret: Le Secret des Francs-

chisms, by Knoop, Jones and                                 Macons, 1742

Hamer, 2nd edn., 1963                                Sn.: Sign

E.R.H.MS.: The Edinburgh Register                       T.D.K.: Three Distinct Knocks, 1760

House MS., 1696                                          Tn.: Token

F.C.: Fellowcraft                                                        Trahi: L'Ordre des Francs-Macons

F.P.O.F.: Five Points of Fellowship                        Trahi, 1745

G.: Grand U.G.L.:                                                      United Grand Lodge of

G.L.: Grand Lodge                                                                England         

G.M.: Grand Master                                                  Vernon, W.F.: Hist. of Free-

H.A.: Hiram Abif                                                                    masonry in the Province of

IG.: Inner Guard                                                                     Roxburgh . . . (1893)

J. & B.: Jachin and Boaz . . . 1762              V.S.L.: Volume of the Sacred Law

K.S.T.: King Solomon's Temple                             




THE origins of this book are, in fact, a part of the history of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge and it is fitting that I begin by paying a richly deserved tribute to my predecessor in office, the late Bro. John Dashwood. He had been appointed Secretary of the Lodge and Editor of its Trans‑actions in 1952, at a time when the membership of the Correspondence Circle had reached its supposed peak, around 3,000, and the production of the annual volumes had fallen several years in arrears.


            By slimming the volumes severely during the next few years, he managed to catch up on arrears of publication. In 1960, the Lodge Standing Committee was compelled to deal with its most urgent problem, i.e., a substantial increase in income, necessitating a rapid expansion in the membership of the Correspondence Circle, which was practically its only source of revenue.


            As a very junior Past Master of the Lodge, I had been arguing for some time that we were concentrating on scholarly material in the Transactions which could only be appreciated by the select few, and I urged that we should bring into our publications a few simple Lectures, Questions and Answers, etc., that would be suitable for `the boys at Lodge of Instruction'. This suggestion caused some dismay at first, and there were murmurings about `the lowering of standards'. I protested that the new material would be in addition to our main work, so that it would not in any way affect the quality of the Transactions, but would simply make them attractive to a completely new field of readers.


            John Dashwood sympathized with my views and eventually the opposition was won over. For the proposed addition to the volumes, it was resolved to revive Miscellanea Latomorum, a Masonic magazine which had ceased publication in 1950. The copyright belonged to the Quatuor Coronati Lodge. In its new form, as an eight‑page pamphlet, it would be sent annually to all members without extra charge. The first issue contained a short paper by Bro. John Rylands on `The Ancient Landmarks', followed by fifteen questions, including some that were very abstruse. Only eight of them were answered, leaving seven that necessarily remained in limbo until the next year's volume! As to `lowered standards', it is amusing to note that the first issue was






xviii                                                                  INTRODUCTION


loosely inserted in the Transactions as a separate pamphlet, to ensure that its contents would not contaminate the main volume with which it was posted! The results were far better than we dared to hope, and the end of that year showed a satisfying increase in membership and funds. Unfortunately Bro. Dashwood did not live to enjoy the fruits of his labours. He went into hospital in May 1961, and died after a very brief illness. There was no successor ready to replace him, and after a few months' trial period (doing the editorial work at home, at night and week‑ends) I retired from business in September 1961, to become Secretary and Editor, and to start on the happiest and most productive twelve years in a long and busy lifetime.


            Uneasy and diffident, because I had had no preliminary training for the work, it was an incident in the first week of that trial period that determined me to accept the office and to make a success of it. In one day's post there were two letters, one from Alaska asking for guidance on the correct procedure for balloting in lodge and the other was from Australia requesting a ruling on a piece of `floor‑work'. I knew, of course, that there were members of the Correspondence Circle in many parts of the world; but two questions in one day from places almost as far apart as it was possible to be, made me realize suddenly how important our educational programme could become if it was handled properly. From that day onwards the Questions and Answers for the new venture became a major concern. But, in future, the items selected for publication were to be of the highest popular appeal, on subjects that would stimulate discussion and prove both instructive and entertaining, especially to those Brethren who know little or nothing of the background of Freemasonry beyond what they have seen or heard in lodge.


            As part of the same programme, the Lodge Summonses were enlarged from two pages to four, the additional space being used for shorter Questions and Answers. As the Summonses were posted six times a year, it was hoped that they would help to maintain a closer contact with the Brethren for whom they were designed.


            The first version of Misc. Lat., produced under my supervision, was bound in with AQC, Vol. 74, and contained four short Lectures designed for use in lodge, with a block of Questions, Answers and Notes, twenty‑eight pages in all, under a new heading `THE SUPPLEMENT'. It created something of a sensation; clearly we had opened up a Masonic gold‑mine! Soon, we were averaging more than 1,000 new members each



   INTRODUCTION                                      xix


year. In 1973 the membership of the Correspondence Circle was 12,440.


            Eventually letters began to come in, urging us to publish the whole collection of Questions and Answers in book form. As author of nearly all the answers, I was eager to fulfil these requests, but that could not be done at once. Because of our rapid expansion and limited staff, much of the material had been written under pressure, with the printers waiting for every page. The Answers, especially in the Lodge Summonses, had often been skimped because of limited space and, after publication, many of the items had brought comments from readers, raising points of high interest that deserved to be included in a `collected edition'.


            Although the original material was already in print, it was clear that a great deal of editorial work would need to be done to prepare it for the new publication; but that had to wait until my retirement from office. Here are the results, the fruits of twelve years work.




The questions that come to us at Q.C. deal, almost invariably, with matters on which there is no Grand Lodge ruling, or on which the printed rituals and their rubrics afford little or no explanation. They fall mainly into two classes:


Those which ask for the meaning and purpose of a specific item of ritual or procedure, or how and why it arose.


            Those which describe two different versions of ritual or procedure and ask `Which is correct?'


Generally I believe the historical approach is the most rewarding, i.e., tracing the item in question from its earliest appearance, and following its development and changes up to the time when our ritual and procedures were more‑or‑less standardized in the early 1800s. When, as often happens, no definite conclusion is possible, this method sets out the information that may lead to a probable answer and, at the very least, it gives the enquirer a wider knowledge and a better understanding of the problems that are involved.


            Because the printed pieces were intended for a world‑wide circulation, my answers always tried to give a little more than the questioner had asked. I make no apology for that, since we had strong encouragement from our readers, and the regular yearly figures of increasing member‑ship were ample proof of a steadily growing demand for our work.


xx                                                                        INTRODUCTION


Among the questions that are not easily answered, are those that ask for explanations of incidents and details in the Craft legends and allegories, in which the enquirers treat each item as though it is proven fact, supported by Holy Writ! I remember the day, more than forty years ago, when a Grand Officer - looking me straight in the eye - assured me that Moses was a Grand Master! My grounding in Old Testament refuted this utterly, but I was a young Master Mason and one does not shatter a man's illusions lightly. In dealing with questions of this kind, it is imperative to separate legend from fact; the difficulty lies only in framing the answers so that they do no hurt or damage.


            Inevitably, there are questions on esoteric matters of ritual and procedure that cannot be discussed in print and those are often of the highest interest. In such cases, the only practicable course is to go back to the earliest version of the item in question, tracing its development throughout the centuries, but stopping short at the final standardization and changes that were made in the 19th century, when most of the forms in use today were established. This does not answer the question, it only points the way so that the enquirer may be enabled to find the answer for himself. I must, therefore, repeat a warning which has been given on many similar occasions: In dealing with certain ritual and procedural matters, the reader's attention is particularly directed to the fact that the articles in this volume quote from documents of the 14th‑18th centuries, and that the details that are described belong only to the dates that are assigned to them. They take no account of the changes and standardization that took place in the 19th century, and it is emphasized that, except in a few innocuous cases, they do not describe - or attempt to describe - present‑day practices.


            Finally, the articles in this book were never intended to be the last word on those subjects. They are simply a collection of careful answers, at an elementary level (often only my own opinion) on the queries and problems that arise in the lodge room, from Brethren who are eager for a better understanding of the things that they say and do in the course of their Masonic duties. That explains the title, `The Freemason at Work'. It is hoped that the whole collection will furnish an ample choice of subjects for discussion in lodges and Study Groups, and bring new pleasures to Brethren who enjoy their Masonry.



   INTRODUCTION                                      xxi




In every work of this kind, the Index is as important as the book itself. For every reader in pursuit of a particular theme, it will be invaluable. All the Questions are numbered for easy reference, but for the reader in search of a particular theme or subject, the Index will be the most speedy guide.





For copyright reasons, the present volume contains only my own work, supplemented in many instances by quotations from other writers with their permission, and with due acknowledgment.


Recognized lodges, Study Groups and individual Brethren have full permission to make use of the contents, but none of the articles may be reproduced or published without written permission from the author.





I take this opportunity to express my indebtedness to the Librarians of Grand Lodge and their Assistants during the past twenty years, for their generous and unstinted help at all times and, especially, to the present Librarian, Bro. T. O. Haunch. My thanks also to Bro. Roy A. Wells, my successor in office and to Bro. Colin F. W. Dyer who furnished valuable additions to several of the answers, which are gratefully acknowledged here and in the text. I am particularly indebted to Bro. Frederick Smyth for the very comprehensive Index and to R.W.Bro. Sir Lionel Brett for his kindness in writing the Foreword to the book and for his ready help in Latin and other editorial problems during the years. Lastly, my thanks to the Board of General Purposes of the United Grand Lodge of England for their kind permission to quote from the Constitutions and other official documents and from rare manuscripts in the Grand Lodge Library.


LONDON                                                                                                       H.C.

December 1975




Blank page





1.                                                 THE QUATUOR CORONATI


Q. What does the name `Quatuor Coronati' mean?


A. The Latin words mean `the four crowned ones' and allude to the Christian Church's Festival of the Four Crowned Martyrs, which is celebrated on 8 November annually.


            There are numerous versions of the legend of the Sancti Quatuor Coronati, all very much alike, though they differ considerably in important details such as their nationality, their number, and even their names.


            The story, in brief outline, is that in A.D. 302 four stone‑carvers and their apprentice were ordered by the Emperor Diocletian to carve a statue of Aesculapius, which, since they were secretly Christians, they evaded doing. For disobedience to the Emperor's commands they were put to death on 8 November. During the year 304 Diocletian ordered that all Roman soldiers should burn incense before a statue of the same god, when four who were Christians refused to do so, for which they were beaten to death. This was also said to have been on 8 November, though two years later than the stone‑carvers.


            Melchiades, who was Pope from A.D. 310 to 314, ordained that these two sets of four and five martyrs were to be commemorated on




2                                                          THE FREEMASON AT WORK


November 8, under the single name of Quatuor Coronati. The Sacramentary of Pope Gregory, two hundred years later, confirmed that date and Pope Honorius built a church in their honour in the seventh century. They are to be found to this day, depicted in sculpture and painting, in many mediaeval and later churches in Europe.


            The Saints are referred to in the earliest known version of the Old Charges, the Regius MS., which is dated c. 1390 and there is good evidence that they were venerated by English masons, notably in an ordinance of the London masons, dated 1481 and still preserved in the Guildhall archives, which prescribed that ... every freeman of the Craft shall attend at Christ‑Church [Aldgate] on the Feast of the Quatuor Coronati, to hear Mass, under a penalty of 12 pence.


            The founders of our Lodge, nine in number, of whom four were soldiers, chose Quatuor Coronati as the name of the Lodge and November 8 has been the date of the annual Festival and Installation meeting since its foundation.


2.                                             THE BRIGHT MORNING STAR


Q. When we are exhorted, in the Third Degree, to lift our eyes to that bright morning star, whose rising brings peace and salvation . . .' are we referring to a particular star, or is this pure symbolism?


A. The various aspects of this problem may be best envisaged, perhaps, from the following quotations, beginning with some extracts from Miscellanea Latomorum, (Series ii) Vol. 31, pp. 1 - 4:


It is argued that this reference to `that bright Morning Star' is an allusion to the Founder of Christianity, and as such should never have been included in, or retained in, the ritual of an Association professing entire freedom from denominational creed or dogma, outside of the simple basic belief in the existence of a Supreme Being. This attitude has unfortunately been bolstered up by a frequent misquotation of the wording, the phrase `whose rising brings peace and tranquillity' being often rendered as `peace and salvation', which is erroneous and decidedly mischievous. [N.B. Emulation, Stability and Logic use the word `salvation'; Exeter says `tranquillity'.]


As a symbol, the Morning Star is indeed most appropriate to the ceremonial incident just previously enacted; so apt, in fact, that it may be confidently asserted that no other symbol could be found which would so perfectly fit the circumstances of the case. Astronomically the Morning Star is the herald of the dawning of a new day, just as its opposite, the Evening Star, presages the coming of night. The latter foretells the dying of another day; the approach of the time when man can no longer work; when darkness covers the face of the earth. Darkness has ever been associated with



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               3


evil, and in its sombre, unknown possibilities is a fitting emblem of death. On the other hand, the rising Morning Star brings joy and gladness with its promise of yet another day, of light once more, in which man may work and renew his association with his fellow‑man in business or in pleasure. In short, with the new‑born day, man rises to a new life. What more fitting symbol, then, than this of the promise of new life after death - of the immortality of the soul.


            The late Dr. E. H. Cartwright, in his Commentary on the Freemasonic Ritual, (2nd edn., 1973, p. 186), wrote, with customary forthrightness:


`That bright morning star'. It should, of course be `that bright and morning star', the phrase being a quotation from The Revelation, xxii, 16. The reference is definitely to Christ and is a relic of the time when the Craft was purely Christian. The allusion apparently escaped the notice of the revisers at the Union, when Christian references generally were excised. Some hold that, as we are not now exclusively Christian, but admit Jews, Moslems and others who, though monotheists, are not Christians, this reference should be deleted, as others of a like nature have been. If the phrase be objected to, the Revised Ritual provides an appropriate alternative rendering, namely, `and lift our eyes to Him in whose hands are the issues of life and death, and to whose mercy we trust for the fulfilment of His gracious promises of Peace and Salvation to the faithful etc.' My own view is that the reference to the `Bright Morning Star' would be quite inexplicable if we read it in an astronomical sense, to imply that a particular star can bring peace, or tranquillity, or salvation, to man‑kind. As a Christian reference, moreover, this passage must cause embarrassment to Brethren who are not of that Faith and in two of my Lodges (of mainly Jewish Brethren) where this point arose, we now use the following: ... and lift our eyes to Him whose Divine Word brings Peace and Salvation to the faithful, etc.


            This form of wording has two great advantages:


1. It provides a definite meaning to the passage instead of an ambiguous one.


2. It is in full accord with Masonic teaching and respects the religious beliefs of all the participants.



3.                                 THE COMPASSES AND THE GRAND MASTER


Q. Why are the Compasses said to belong to the Grand Master?


A. Early official documents, i.e., the Books of Constitutions and the Grand Lodge Minutes, afford no information on this point. Jewels are



4                                                          THE FREEMASON AT WORK


mentioned in the Constitutions from 1738 onwards and frequently in the Grand Lodge Minutes from 1727 onwards, but the Grand Master's Jewel was not described in detail until the 1815 B. of C. It was to be of `gold or gilt' and made up as follows:


The compasses extended to 45°!, with the segment of a circle at the points and a gold plate included, on which is to be engraven an irradiated eye within a triangle.


The Grand Master's Jewel

By courtesy of the Board of General Purposes


Nowadays, the triangle is also irradiated. It should be noted, however, that from 1815 onwards the Jewel contains several items in addition to the compasses.


            The only hint, in a more‑or‑less official publication, suggesting that the compasses belong to the Grand Master, appears in the frontispiece to the first Book of Constitutions, 1723, which shows the Duke of Montagu handing a pair of compasses and a scroll to his successor, the Duke of Wharton, and there are no other tools in the picture. It would be unsafe to draw any firm conclusions from this item, because there are several documents from this period which show that the compasses belonged to the Master, not to the Grand Master. The earliest of these is the Dumfries No. 4 MS., c. 17101 (i.e. seven years before the election of the first Grand Master):


1 See p. 5, footnote 1.



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               5


Q. would you know your master if you saw him?

A.  yes

Q.   what way would ye know him?

A.  by his habit

Q.  what couller is his habit?

A.  yellow & blew meaning the compass wc is bras & Iron Very crude, but twenty years later the same theme appeared in better detail in a newspaper exposure, now generally known as The Mystery of Free‑Masonry, 17301:

Q.  How was the Master cloathed?

A.  In a Yellow Jacket and Blue Pair of Breeches.*


* N.B. The Master is not otherwise cloathed than common; the Question and Answer are only emblematical, the Yellow Jacket, the Compasses, and the Blue Breeches, the Steel Points.


            Two months later, in October 1730, Prichard, in his Masonry Dissected, repeated this Q. and A., almost word for word, omitting only the first half of the N.B., i.e., he discarded the emblematical suggestion, thereby implying that the compasses were indeed part of the Master's regalia. Elsewhere, however, he had a note that the Master, at the opening of a Lodge, had `the Square about his neck'. The Wilkinson MS., c. 1727, agreed with Prichard on the compasses but omitted the reference to the Square.


            In 1745, a popular French exposure, L'Ordre des Francs‑Masons Trahi, in which the catechism was substantially based on Prichard, dealt more fully with the same question:


Q.  Have you seen the Grand Master? [= the W.M.]

A.  Yes.

Q.  How is he clothed?

A.  In gold & blue. Or rather; In a yellow jacket, with blue stockings.


            This does not mean that the Grand Master is dressed like that: but the yellow jacket signifies the head and the upper‑part of the Compasses, which the Grand Master wears at the bottom of his Cordon, & which are made of gold, or at least gilt; & the blue stockings, the two points of the Compasses, which are of iron or steel. That is what they mean also, when they refer to the gold & blue.


            The title `Grand Master' was used quite loosely, in this text and in French practice at that period, to mean the Worshipful Master and the context of this quotation proves this beyond doubt.


            It was not until the last quarter of the 18th century that the earliest English texts began to say that the compasses belonged to the Grand Master. The first of these was probably William Preston's version, in


1 Reproduced in The Early Masonic Catechisms, 2nd edn. (1963) pub]. by the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, London.



6                                                          THE FREEMASON AT WORK


his `First Lecture of Free Masonry' (which was reproduced by Bro. P. R. James, in AQC 82, pp. 104 - 149):


 Why are the compasses restricted to the Grand Master? The compasses are appropriated to Master Masons [sic] because it is the chief instrument used in the delineation of their plans and from this class all genuine designs originate. . . . As an emblem of dignity and excellence the compasses are pendent to the breast of the Grand Master to mark the superiority of character he bears amongst Masons. (See AQC 82, p. 138)


Preston wrote with his customary verbosity and his reference to Master Masons is rather confusing. The date of this version is uncertain, probably around 1790 - 1800. Later writers were more specific. Browne's Master Key (2nd ed.) appeared, mainly in cipher, in 1802:


Why the Compasses to the Grand Master in particular? The Compasses being the chief instrument made use of in all plans and designs in Geometry, they are appropriated to the Grand Master as a mark of his distinction... .


            Richard Carlile, in the Republican, 15 July 1825, wrote:


The compasses belong to the Grand Master in particular, and the square to the whole craft.


            Claret, 1838, also dealt with this question, and his answer has become standard in most modern versions of the Craft Lectures:


That being the chief instrument made use of in the formation of all Architectural plans and designs, is peculiarly appropriated to the Grand Master, as an emblem of his dignity, he being the chief head and ruler of the craft.


            Nowadays, a reference to the Jewels illustrated in the Book of Constitutions will show that the Compasses form a part of the Jewel of all the following:


1. The Grand Master             2. Past Grand Master

3. Pro Grand Master             4. Past Pro Grand Master

5. Deputy Grand Master                   6. Assistant Grand Master

7. Prov. or Dist. Grand Master         8. Past Prov. or Dist. Grand Master

9. Grand Inspector                            10. Past Grand Inspector


4.                                                         IT PROVES A SLIP


Q. `It proves a slip'. How did those words arise?


A. Those words are the last relic of something that was a distinct feature of all early versions of the third degree. If one were challenged today to describe the lessons of the third degree in three words, most Brethren would say `Death and Resurrection', and they would be right;



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               7


but originally there were three themes, not two, and all our early versions of the third degree confirm three themes, `Death, Decay and Resurrection'. Any Brother who has a compost heap in his garden will see the significance of this `life‑cycle'.


            Eventually, the decay theme was polished out of our English ritual, but `the slip' which is directly related to that theme remains as a re‑minder of the degree in its early days.


            The first appearance of `the slip' in a Masonic context was in Samuel Prichard's Masonry Dissected, of 1730. That was the first exposure claiming to describe a system of three degrees and it contained the earliest known version of a Hiramic legend. Prichard's exposure was framed entirely in the form of Question and Answer and the main body of his legend appears in the replies to only two questions.


            Many other and better versions have appeared since 1730, but Masonry Dissected (though it gives no hint of a long time‑lag which might have caused decay) was the first to mention `the slip' and to indicate that the cause was decay. The words occur in a footnote to the so‑called `Five Points of Fellowship'.


            N.B. When Hiram was taken up, they took him by the Fore‑fingers, and the Skin came off which is called the Slip; .. .


            The next oldest version of the third degree was published in Le Catechisme des Francs‑Masons, in 1744, by a celebrated French journalist, Louis Travenol. It was much more detailed than Prichard's piece, and full of interesting items that had never appeared before. In the course of the story we learn that nine days had passed when Solomon ordered a search, which also occupied a `considerable time'. Then, following the discovery of the corpse,


. . . One of them took hold of it by one finger, & the finger came away in his hand: he took him at once by another [finger], with the same result, & when, taking him by the wrist it came away from his arm . . . he called out Macbenac, which signifies among the Free‑Masons, the flesh falls from the bones.... 1


In 1745, Travenol's version was pirated in L'Ordre des Francs‑Masons Trahi, but there were a few improvements:


 ... the flesh falls from the bones or the corpse is rotten [or decayed] 2


The English exposure Three Distinct Knocks, of 1760, used the words `almost rotten to the bone', but before the end of the 18th century the


1 Early French Exposures, pp. 97‑8.

            2 E.F.E., p. 258.



8                                                          THE FREEMASON AT WORK


decay theme seems to have gone out of use in England, so that `the slip', in word and action, remains as the last hint of the story as it ran in its original form. But the decay theme is not completely lost; several ritual workings, in French, German, and other jurisdictions, still retain it as part of their legend.


            One more document must be quoted here, because it has particularly important implications. The Graham MS., of 1726, is a unique version of catechism plus religious interpretation, followed by a collection of legends relating to various biblical characters, in which each story has a kind of Masonic twist. One of the legends tells how three sobs went to their father's grave


for to try if they could find anything about him ffor to Lead them to the vertuable secret which this famieous preacher had. . . . Now these 3 men had allready agreed that if that if they did not ffind the very thing it self that the first thing that they found was to be to them as a secret . . . so came to the Grave finding nothing save the dead body all most consumed away takeing a greip at a flinger it came away so from Joynt to Joynt so to the wrest so to the Elbow so they R Reared up the dead body and suported it setting ffoot to ffoot knee to knee Breast to breast Cheeck to cheeck and hand to back and cryed out help o ffather . . . so one said here is yet marow in this bone and the second said but a dry bone and the third said it stinketh so they agreed for to give it a name as is known to free masonry to this day. . . . (E.M.C., pp. 92‑3).


            The decay theme again, but the important point about this version is that the `famieous preacher' in the grave was not H.A., but Noah, and the three sons were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The appearance of this legend in 1726, full four years before the earliest H.A. version by Prichard, implies, beyond doubt, that the Hiramic legend did not come down from Heaven all ready‑made as we know it today; it was one of at least two (and possibly three) streams of legend which were adapted and tailored to form the main theme of the third degree of those days.



5.                                             WHY TWO WORDS FOR THE M.M.?


Q. At a certain stage in the M.M. degree two words are uttered by the W.M. Why two?


A. There is ample evidence, from c. 1700 onwards, that only one word was conferred originally, though it appears in vastly different spellings and pronunciations. The earliest known version, in the Sloane MS., of c. 1700, certainly belongs to the period when only two degrees were



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               9


practised and, in the study of the evolution of the ritual, it is extremely interesting to find a feature of the original second degree making its appearance, ultimately, in the third.


            At the end of 1725 there were already four different versions of the word in existence (two in manuscript and two in print) and before 1763 no fewer than eight versions had appeared in England alone. Whatever they were originally, by the time we find them in our early documents it would be fair to describe them as non‑words, because they do not belong to any known language. As examples of debasement, Sloane gives the word(s) as Maha - Byn, half in one ear and half in the other; it was apparently used in those days as a test word, the first half requiring the answer `Byn'. Other early versions were `Matchpin', 1711, and `Magbo and Boe', 1725.


            It is generally agreed that the words were probably of Hebrew origin (in which case each of them would be a combination of two words, i.e., verb and noun); but from the time of their first appearance, either in MS. or print, they were already so debased, through ignorance or carelessness, that it is impossible to say how they were written or pronounced in their original form.


            There are various printed exposures of 1760, 1762 and later, which suggest that the word was pronounced differently by adherents of the rival Grand Lodges, i.e., that the `Moderns' used a form ending in a CH, CK, or K sound, while the `Antients' used a form which finished with an N sound. This would seem to be a generalization that must be discounted, because there were three N versions in c. 1700, 1711 and 1723 respectively, decades before the Antients' Grand Lodge was founded.


            Whether or not the rival Grand Lodges kept strictly to those forms (and we have to take note of the MS. catechisms and the printed exposures simply because there were no official pronouncements), the available evidence suggests that those were the two main forms in use in the English lodges throughout the 18th century.


            Soon after the Lodge of Promulgation was erected (in 1809) to pre‑pare the way for the union of the two Grand Lodges, this point came into question while dealing with the form of `Closing the Lodge in the Third Degree', when the word is to be spoken aloud; but which word? It must have been a difficult problem, even for the distinguished members of that `Moderns' body, partly because none of them could be certain that the form to which they were accustomed was correct, but also because it was necessary to make allowance for the form in use by



10                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            the `Antients'. This predicament gave rise to a Resolution that they made on 16 February 1810, which is a model of wisdom and tolerance:


... but that Masters of Lodges shall be informed that such of them as may be inclined to prefer another known method of communicating the s [sic.? secrets] in the closing ceremony will be at liberty to direct it so if they should think proper to do so. (AQC 23, p. 42.)


The special Lodge of Promulgation was a Moderns' body, but one of its members, Bro. Bonnor, was acknowledged to have an accurate knowledge of the Antients' ritual, and it is possible that this resolution was framed out of respect for the rival body, or because no compromise was possible.


            Many of us must have heard some of the extraordinary pronunciations given to those `Words' in our present‑day Lodges, and I am inclined to believe that the alternate forms were approved simply because nobody could be sure which of them, if any, was correct.



6.                                 APPRENTICE AND ENTERED APPRENTICE


Q. As used in Freemasonry today, are the terms Apprentice and Entered Apprentice interchangeable?


A. Under Art. ii of the Articles of Union, it was `... declared and pronounced that pure Ancient Masonry consists of three degrees, and no more; Vizt. those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft . . .', etc. Strictly speaking, therefore, the only title for the first grade in the Craft nowadays is Entered Apprentice, and the title Apprentice could only stand as an abbreviation.


            It is necessary to go back to early operative practice to explain the real difference between the two terms. Apprentices were usually indentured to their Masters for seven years, and in Scotland there is evidence that the Masters undertook to `enter their apprentices' in the Lodge during that period. 1 In Edinburgh, it was the rule that all apprentices had to be `booked' in the town's Register of Apprentices, at the beginning of their indentures. The Register survives from 1583 and shows that the `bookings' recorded the names of the apprentice and his father, the father's trade and place of residence, the name, trade and residence of the master, the date of the `booking' and (rarely) the actual date of the indentures - if there had been any delay in the `booking'.


            1 See `Apprenticeship in England and Scotland up to 1700', by H. Carr, AQC 69, pp. 57/8, 67/8); also `The Mason and the Burgh', AQC 67.



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               11


These carefully detailed municipal records become valuable indeed when, from 1599 onwards, there are minutes for the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel), in which it is possible to identify more than a hundred apprentices and to check the dates when they were admitted into the Lodge as `entered apprentice'. This usually happened some two to three years after the beginning of their indentures, and that marked the beginning of their career within the Lodge.


            They would normally pass F.C. about seven years after they were made E.A., or roughly ten years from the commencement of their training. If for any reason they failed to pass F.C., they retained their Lodge status as E.A., even after their term of service had finished and they were already working as journeymen.


            The Edinburgh system of introducing the apprentice into the Lodge during his apprenticeship did not exist in 1475, when the Masons and Wrights Incorporation [= Gild] was founded, but it was already fully established in 1598 when the earliest surviving Lodge minutes begin. The two to three‑year time lag between `booking' and E.A. may have been longer in other places. Unfortunately, it is only Edinburgh that still possesses the dual town‑and‑Lodge records, that enable us to verify their practice.


            It is curious that the term `entered apprentice' does not appear in English documents until the 1720s.





Q. What is the official title of the Grand Lodge of England? Here in the U.S.A. our Grand Lodges are F. & A.M., or A.F. & A.M., and this carries on down to the local Lodges. My own Lodge is commonly known as St. John's Lodge, No. 17, A.F. & A.M., yet I can find no reference to the full titles of Lodges operating under English jurisdiction. I find many references to the United Grand Lodge, but the United Grand Lodge of what?


A. The United Grand Lodge was erected in 1813 by a union of the so‑called Antients' and Moderns' Grand Lodges under the Articles of Union, a lengthy document which outlined the conditions agreed for the government of the new body. The Articles were signed on 25 November 1813, and ratified by both Grand Lodges meeting independently six days later. Article vi declared that:


12                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


... the Grand Incorporated Lodge shall ... be opened ... under the stile and title of the United Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of England.


            On 27 December 1813, a Grand Assembly of Freemasons was held to give effect to the union, and the new organization was duly proclaimed under that title.


            The first Book of Constitutions to be published after the union appeared in 1815, and the General Regulations were headed by a brief statement which gave a new title to the Grand Lodge: THE public interests of the fraternity are managed by a general representation of all private lodges on record, together with the present and past grand officers, and the grand master at their head. This collective body is stiled the UNITED GRAND LODGE OF ANTIENT FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS OF ENGLAND .. .


            The earlier title, incorporating the expression `Antient Freemasons of England' (but with the word `Antient' spelt with a `t' instead of a `c'), appeared in the printed record of Grand Lodge proceedings of March, May, June and September 1814, the word Free‑Mason having a hyphen in May, June and September. It reappeared with a hyphen in the record of an Especial Grand Lodge in February 1815.


            In May 1814, the Duke of Sussex was proclaimed as Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of `Antient Free‑Masons of England', and in December 1814, he was proclaimed as G.M. of the United Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of England.


            The reasons for the changes in nomenclature at this period are not apparent, but it must be inferred that the change from the expression `Ancient Freemasons' of 1813 to the `Antient Free and Accepted Masons' of 1815 was deliberate - a change which has been preserved in all subsequent editions of the Book of Constitutions to the present day. (Extracts from Notes compiled by Bro. W. Ivor Grantham.) Strictly speaking, all English Lodges should add the A.F. & A.M. to their titles, but the practice is extremely rare.



8.                                             EVERY BROTHER HAS HAD HIS DUE


Q. What is the real meaning of the Senior Warden's words in closing the lodge, `... to see that every Brother had had his due.'?


A. This is an archaic survival, almost meaningless today. Yet the principle upon which it is based is one of the oldest in the English Craft,



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               13


and its origins are to be found in our earliest operative documents, the Old Charges, or MS. Constitutions, which afford useful information on the management of large‑scale building works in the 14th and 15th centuries.


            To appreciate the full significance of these words, we may forget the lodge for the present, and go to the site where the works were in progress. In those days, the Warden (and there was only one Warden) was a kind of senior charge‑hand, or overseer. Nowadays, we might call him a `progress‑chaser' and it was a part of his duties to ensure that nothing disturbed the smooth progress of the work.


            If a dispute arose between any of the masons in his charge, he had to mediate and try to settle it on the spot and with absolute fairness, so that `every Brother had his due'. If the trouble was too difficult to be settled at once, he had to fix what was called a `loveday', which was a day appointed for the amicable settlement of disputes; but meanwhile, everyone had to get on with his work. The regulations specified that the 'loveday' was to be held on a `holy day', not a working day, so that the works would not suffer to the employer's detriment. (Cooke MS., c. 1400, Point vi.) The same text, at Point viii continues: ... if it befall him for to be warden under his master that he be true mene [= mediator] between his master and his fellows and that he be busy in the absence of his master to the honour of his master and profit of the lord [= employer] that he serves.l The Regius MS., c. 1390, does not mention the warden in this con‑text, but speaks of one who has taken a position of responsibility under his master:


A true mediator thou must need be,

To thy master and thy fellows free,

Do truly all [good?] that thou might,

To both parties, and that is good right. 1


The same theme runs regularly through many of the old Constitutions, requiring the wardens to preserve harmony amongst the men under their care, by mediating fairly in any dispute that might arise, and thereby ensuring `that every Brother had his due'.


            Finally, there are many versions of these words in our modern rituals, including one which runs `... to pay the men their wages and see that every Brother has had . . .'. A careful examination of the texts


1 From The Two Earliest Masonic MSS., pp. 122‑5. By Knoop, Jones and Hamer. Quotations word for word, but in modern spelling.



14                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


that deal with the Warden's duties show that wages have nothing to do with this particular question.



9.                                             ARMS OF THE GRAND LODGE


Q.  What is the origin of the Arms of the United Grand Lodge of England?


A.  The modern Arms are directly descended from three separate bodies, and their story begins in the 14th century, more than 300 years before the first Grand Lodge was founded.





There are records at Guildhall in London which show that the Masons' Company was in existence in 1375. It was the first English Gild of the Mason trade and, in 1376, it elected representatives of the trade to serve on the Common Council, which was the organ of city government, proof of its status as one of the important city Companies.


            The exact date of its foundation is unknown, but the roots of the Fellowship of Masons in England go back much further than that, to the year 1356, when twelve skilled master masons came before the Mayor and Aldermen at Guildhall, in London, to settle a demarcation dispute, and to draw up a code of trade regulations, because their trade had not, until then, `been regulated in due manner, by the government of folks of their trade, in such form as other trades' were.


            This was the true beginning of mason trade organization in England, which gave rise to the `Hole Crafte & Felawship of Masons', later the London Masons' Company.


            In 1472 it was given a Grant of Arms, which marked the highest form of official recognition of the Craft as one of the City Companies. The text of the Grant (with a few Anglo‑Norman words rendered in modern English) runs as follows:


To all Noblemen and gentlemen these present Letters hearing or seeing, William Hawkeslove, otherwise called Clarenceux King‑ of Arms of the South Marches of England, sends humble and due Recommendation as appertaineth.


For so much as the `Hole Crafte and Felawship of Masons' heartily moved to exercise and use gentle and commendable guidance in such laudable manner and form as may best appear unto the gentry, by the Which they shall move with God's grace to attain unto honour and worship, have desired and prayed me, the said King of Arms, that I, by the power and



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               15




Arms of the Masons Company as stamped on the covers of the

MS. Account and Court Books.


authority and by the King's good grace to me in that behalf committed should devise A Cognisance of Arms for the said Craft and fellowship which they and their successors might boldly and dutifully occupy, challenge and enjoy for ever more, without any prejudice or rebuke of any estate or gentlemen of this Realm. At the instance and request of whom, I, the said King of Arms, taking respect and consideration unto the goodly intent and disposition of the said Craft and fellowship, have devised for them and their successors the Arms following, that is to say,


A field of Sable, a Chevron of Silver, 1 grailed, three Castles of the same, garnished with doors and windows of the field,


In the Chevron, a Compass of Black, which Arms, I of my said power and authority, have appointed, given and granted to, and for, the said Craft and fellowship and their successors. And by these my present Letters, appoint, give and grant unto them the same, To have, challenge, occupy and enjoy, without any prejudice, or impeachment, for evermore.


            In witness whereof, I, the said King of Arms, to these presents have set my seal of Arms, with my sign Manual.

            Given at London, the year of the Reign of King Edward the fourth, after the Conquest the xijth.           


Clarenceux Kings of Arms



            1 Note: it is a chevron, not a square.


16                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            This document gives us the earliest description of the design in black and silver, and, since 1472, the Arms reappear regularly - with occasional minor modification - in all sorts of Masonic documents. Many of the earliest versions of the MS. Constitutions, or Old Charges, from the 16th century onwards have the Arms emblazoned at their head. They are depicted in Stow's Survey of London, 1633, and we find them on tombstones, stained glass windows, and in architectural decoration, all over England. They are also depicted in the frieze of Arms of the City Companies which decorate the walls of Guildhall in London.


            The original Grant contained no motto, and the earliest record of a motto attached to the Arms appears on the tomb of William Kerwin, dated 1594, in St. Helen's Church, Bishopsgate. It reads:


`God Is Our Guide'


The Company, indeed, has no authorized motto, but since the early 17th century, it appears to have used the words:


`In The Lord Is All Our Trust'





There is evidence that the premier Grand Lodge, founded in 1717, began to use the Masons' Company's Arms soon after its foundation, though the early minute books are silent on this subject. In 1729‑30, Thomas, 8th Duke of Norfolk, became Grand Master and, during his term of office, he presented to the Grand Lodge the Sword of State which is now borne in procession in Grand Lodge. Its silver‑gilt hilt and mountings and the scabbard were made in 1730 by George Moody, the Royal Armourer, who was the first Sword‑bearer of Grand Lodge, and the scabbard bears, inter alia, a reproduction of the Arms of the Masons' Company.


            Despite the absence of any official record of the Arms being adopted by the Moderns' Grand Lodge, it was certainly using the `Three Castles, Chevron and Compass' as the central theme of its Seal before 1813, and a less ornate version as its `Office Seal'. Both are illustrated in Gould's History, 1951 edn., vol. II, fac. p. 275.





The Most Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons according to the Old Institutions was founded in London in July 1751. At that time it consisted of only six Lodges with a total membership of



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               17


some eighty Brethren. They were mainly artisans, tailors, shoemakers and painters `of an honest Character but in low Circumstances'; many of them were immigrants from Ireland or of Irish extraction.


            In 1752, Laurence Dermott became their Grand Secretary and he held that office until 1771 when he became Deputy Grand Master. He was already Past Master of a Dublin Lodge and a recent immigrant from Ireland, originally a journeyman painter, but later a successful wine merchant. A man of some education and a born leader, he compiled Ahiman Rezon, the first Book of Constitutions of the new Grand Lodge and published it in 1756. Boasting always of their adherence to the `old System free from innovation' they soon became known as the `Antients' and they thrived.


Arms of the Antients' Grand Lodge, 1751‑1813.



             The Arms of the Antients made their first appearance as the frontispiece to the 1764 edition of Ahiman Rezon, in which Dermott explained their origin at length:



18                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


             N.B. The free masons arms in the upper part of the frontis piece of this book, was found in the collection of the famous and learned hebrewist, architect and brother, Rabi Jacob Jehudah Leon. This gentleman . . . built a model of Solomon's temple . . . This model was exhibited to public view ... at Paris and Vienna, and afterwards in London, ... At the same time ... (he) . . . published a description of the tabernacle and the temple,:. . I had the pleasure of perusing and examining both these curiosities. The arms are emblazoned thus, quarterly per squares, counterchanged Vert. In the first quarter Azure a lyon rampant Or, in the second quarter Or, an ox passant sable; in the third quarter Or, a man with hands erect, proper robed, crimson and ermin; in the fourth quarter Azure, an eagle displayed Or. Crest, the holy ark of the covenant, proper, supported by Cherubims. Motto, Kodes la Adonai, i.e., Holiness to the Lord.


            ... Spencer says, the Cherubims had the face of a man, the wings of an eagle, the back and mane of a lion, and the feet of a calf.


            ... Ezekiel says, . . . a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle.


            ... Bochart says, that they represented the nature and ministry of angels, by the lion's form is signified their strength, generosity and majesty; by that of the ox, their constancy and assiduity in executing the commands of God; by their human shape their humanity and kindness; and by that of the eagle, their agility and speed.


            It seems probable that Rabbi Leon had indeed sketched designs more or less related to this one which Dermott had adapted, but Leon cannot have designed the Motto, which was printed in faulty Hebrew.


            The Masonic significance of the design (apart from the working‑tools at its foot) is closely related to the Royal Arch, and this was emphasized by Dermott's closing words on the subject: As these were the arms of the masons that built the tabernacle and the temple, there is not the least doubt of their being the proper arms of the ... fraternity of free and accepted masons, and the continual practice, formalities and tradition, in all regular lodges, from the lowest degree to the most high, i.e., The Holy Royal Arch, confirms the truth hereof.





After 1751, the Antients' and Moderns' Grand Lodges existed side by side, not always without display of intense rivalry. In the late 1700s, however, there were many prominent Masons who held high rank in both bodies and in the early 1800s efforts were being made, behind the scenes, to effect a union. Eventually, and with the help of three Royal Brothers, all sons of George III, the negotiations proved successful and the Union took place in December 1813.


            The Arms of the United Grand Lodge of England were a combination of the Arms of the Antients and Moderns, preserving the best features



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               19


Arms of the United Grand Lodge of England.

By courtesy of the Board of General Purposes.


of each, and the Hebrew inscription was corrected. In 1919, the shield was enhanced by a wide border bearing eight lions, suggesting the Arms of England and marking the long association of King Edward VII and many other members of the Royal Family with the Craft.



10.                                           L.F. ACROSS THE LODGE


Q.  Why do we tell the Candidate in the First Deg. to `Place your left foot across the Lodge and your r . . . f . . ., etc., heel to heel,' with similar but reverse procedure in the second? They seem to be awkward postures for the Cand. while he listens to the W.M.'s exhortation.


A.  This is a survival from the time (probably before 1813) when it was customary to have the rough and smooth ashlars on the floor of the


20                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


Lodge, in the N.E. and S.E. corners, and not on the Wardens' pedestals, where they usually lie nowadays.


            At the proper moment the Cand. was required to place his feet so that they formed a square on two sides of the ashlar, thus:



The N.E. corner                                                                                                  The S.E. corner


The ashlars in the N.E. and S.E. corners, as shown in our sketch, are still to be seen there in many of our old English lodges, but rather rarely in London, where we have succumbed to modern customs. The postures, however, are still in use in most English lodges (not in all of them) even when the ashlars rest on the Wardens' pedestals.


            The reason for the postures is, undoubtedly, purely symbolical and it can best be explained in the words of a writer (Fort Newton, I believe) who said that we enter the Craft in order `to build spiritual Temples within ourselves'. When we stand at the N.E. or S.E. corners to hear the exhortation from the W.M., we are participating in the dedication of our own spiritual Foundation‑stone.


            There appears to be no satisfactory explanation for the awkward posture. It could be avoided, of course, if the Cand. stands facing E., or if the W.M. comes on to the floor for the exhortation.


            It has been suggested that in earlier times, the N.E. and S.E. positions were at the immediate right and left of the W.M., so that the Candidates standing at those positions would have been more comfortably placed than they are today. The fact is that most of these procedures are inherited practices and we tend to preserve them, even when the reasons that gave rise to them are lost in the mists of time.



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               21


11.                               RAISING AND LOWERING THE WARDENS' COLUMNS


Q.  Why do the Wardens in a Craft Lodge raise and lower their Columns? The usual explanations in the Lectures, etc., seem trivial, in view of the importance many Brethren seem to place on the Columns being moved at the right time and placed in the right position.

A.  To find an acceptable answer to this question, we have to go back to early ritual. There was a time in 18th century English practice when both Wardens stood (or sat) in the West; this is confirmed by a passage in Masonry Dissected, 1730:

Q.  Where stands your Wardens?

A.  In the West.


            Incidentally there are several Masonic jurisdictions in Europe which retain this ancient practice; but some time between 1730 and 1760 there is evidence that the J.W. had moved to the South, as shown in Three Distinct Knocks, 1760, and J. & B., 1762, both using identical words: Mas. Who doth the Pillar of Beauty represent? Ans. The Junior Warden in the South.


            The business of raising and lowering the Wardens' Columns made its first appearance in England in Three Distinct Knocks, in which we have the earliest description of the procedure for `Calling Off' from labour to refreshment and `Calling On'. The `Call‑Off' procedure was as follows:


The Master whispers to the senior Deacon at his Right‑hand, and says, 'tis my Will and Pleasure that this Lodge is called off from Work to Refreshment during Pleasure; then the senior Deacon carries it to the senior Warden, and whispers the same Words in his Ear, and he whispers it in the Ear of the junior Deacon at his Right‑hand, and he carries it to the junior Warden and whispers the same to him, who declares it with a loud Voice, and says it is our Master's Will and Pleasure, that this Lodge is called from Work to Refreshment, during Pleasure;


At this point we find the earliest description of the raising and lowering of the columns and the reason for this procedure.


            then he sets up his Column, and the senior lays his down; for the Care of the Lodge is in the Hands of the junior Warden while they are at Refreshment.


            N.B. The senior and junior Warden have each of them a Column in their Hand, about Twenty Inches long, which represents the Two Columns of the Porch at Solomon's Temple, BOAZ and JACHIN.


J. & B. gives almost identical details throughout.




22                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            Unfortunately, apart from the exposures, there are very few Masonic writings that deal with the subject of the Wardens' Columns during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Preston, in several editions of his Illustrations, 1792‑1804, in the section dealing with Installation, allocates the Columns to the Deacons [sic]. It is not until the 1804 edition that he speaks of the raising of the Columns, and then only in a footnote, as follows:


When the work of Masonry in the lodge is carrying on, the Column of the Senior Deacon is raised; when the lodge is at refreshment the Column of the Junior Deacon is raised. [There is no mention of `lowering'.]


Earlier, in the Investiture of the Deacons, Preston had said:


Those columns, the badges of your office, I entrust to your care .. .


            Knowing, as we do, that the Columns had belonged to the Wardens since 1760, at least, and that many of the Craft lodges did not appoint Deacons at all, Preston's remarks in the extracts above, seem to suggest that he was attempting an innovation (in which he was certainly unsuccessful).


            The next evidence on the subject comes from the Minutes of the Lodge of Promulgation, which show that in their work on the Craft ritual in readiness for the union of the two rival Grand Lodges, they considered `the arrangements of the Wardens' Columns' on 26 January 1810, but they did not record their decision. We know, however, that most of our present‑day practices date back to the procedures which that Lodge recommended and which were subsequently adopted' - with occasional amendments - and prescribed by its successor, the Lodge of Reconciliation. It is thus virtually certain that our modern working in relation to the raising and lowering of the Columns was then adopted, following the 1760 pattern, not only for `Calling Off and On' but also for Opening and Closing generally.


            Up to this point we have been dealing with facts; but on the specific questions as to why the Columns are raised and lowered, or why the care of the Lodge is the responsibility of the J.W. while the Brethren refresh themselves, we must resort to speculation.


            In the operative system, c. 1400, when the Lodge was a workshop and before Lodge furniture was standardized, there was only one Warden. His duty was to keep the work going smoothly, to serve as a mediator in disputes and to see that `every brother had his due'. We have documentary evidence of this in the Regius and Cooke MSS of c. 1390 and c. 1410, and this idea apparently persisted into the Speculative system



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               23


where the S.W.'s duty in 1730 now included closing the Lodge and `paying the men their wages'.


            But in the Speculative system there were two Wardens, with the Senior, by ancient tradition, in charge of the Lodge (or the Brn.) while at work. It seems likely that in order to find a corresponding job for the J.W., he was put in charge of the Lodge (or the Brn.) while at refreshment.


            There was no mention of Wardens' Columns, or procedures relating to them, in the exposures of 1730 or earlier. We may assume therefore that they were a more or less recent introduction in the period between 1730 and 1760, that the `raising and lowering' procedures came into practice at about the same time and were subsequently authorized at the Union in 1813.


            The 1760 explanation is still in use today. It may seem inadequate, but that is invariably the case with such problems as `one up and one down', left‑foot, right‑foot', left‑knee, right‑knee', etc., because each interpretation has to give a satisfactory explanation for a particular procedure and for the reverse of that procedure, which is virtually impossible. The only satisfying explanation in this case is the simplest of all, i.e., the procedure was laid down to mark a distinction between the Lodge when open, and when it is closed or `Called Off'.


            During the 18th century, there is ample evidence that much of the Lodge work was conducted at table, punctuated by `Toasts' and drinking, while the Lodge was still Open. If the Lodge was `Called Off', while a meal (as distinct from liquid refreshment) was to be taken, and the Brethren remained in their seats at table, then some signal - recognizable at a glance - would have to be shown, to indicate whether the Lodge was at work, or at refreshment. (I am indebted to Bro. Colin Dyer for this final paragraph, which emphasizes the practical reasons for Columns up, and down.)





Q.  Should the Bible be placed so that it can be read by the W.M., or the Candidate?

A.  This question would not arise in Ireland, Scotland, U.S.A., or in the many jurisdictions which have their Altars at a distance from the W.M., usually in the middle of the lodge. In such cases the V.S.L. is


24                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


always arranged to face the Candidate, i.e., so that it can be read from the West.


            In English Masonic practice, however, the Master's pedestal is, in most cases, the Altar, so that when a Candidate is taking his Obligation, both are near enough to the Holy Book to be able to read it; hence the question.


            In all regular Masonic jurisdictions the V.S.L. is an essential part of the lodge while it is in session; but in English practice there is no official rule as to which way it should be turned. My own view is that it does not matter at all which way the Bible is facing on a night when the Brethren are listening to a lecture, or when the lodge is conducting business without a Candidate. But on a night when a Candidate is to be obligated, the question becomes vastly more important.


            Under English Masonic law, our lodges are required to provide for each Candidate that particular version of Holy Writ which belongs to his faith. The precise words are extremely interesting and will bear repetition:


4. The Bible, referred to by Freemasons as the Volume of the Sacred Law, is always open in the Lodges. Every Candidate is required to take his Obligation on that book or on the Volume which is held by his particular creed to impart sanctity to an oath or promise taken upon it.' (Aims and Relationships of the Craft, 1949)


A similar regulation, adopted in 1929, is still in force, although it omits the alternative:


3. That all Initiates shall take their Obligation on or in full view of the open Volume of the Sacred Law, by which is meant the revelation from above which is binding on the conscience of the particular individual who is being initiated.'

(Basic Principles For Grand Lodge Recognition, 1929.)


This means that for a Jew we must provide an Old Testament; for a Mohammedan, a Koran; for a Hindu, a Bhagvada Gita, etc., etc. It might well happen that a Mohammedan or a Hindu, to avoid embarrassment, would say `Don't worry; a New Testament will do just as well'. If we allowed that, we would be compounding a Masonic felony! We are bound to obligate him on the Holy Book which is sacred to his faith. In the best sense of the words it will be his Book and there can be no doubt that, for the Obligations, at least, the Book should be so arranged that he can easily recognize and read it.


            1 Author's italics.



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               25


For those who would like to have an official example as a check on their own practice, in our own Grand Lodge of England the V.S.L. is always opened facing westwards, with the points of the Compasses towards the foot of the page.


            It may be interesting at this point to observe the procedure in two other jurisdictions:


Bro. G. L. Austin, Local Secretary for Q.C. in New Zealand, writes: In the New Zealand Ritual there is a rubric instructing that the Volume shall be placed `... so as to be read from the E            ', i.e., it faces the W.M. It is the custom of the Lodges in this Constitution to present to each newly raised Candidate a copy of the V.S.L. This copy measures about 6 in. x 4 in. It is placed between the large Volume and the Candidate in all three Degrees, and most Masters place it so that it may be read from the W., i.e., by the Candidate. He uses the same Volume for each Degree and seals his Ob. on the small Book, which is presented to him after Raising.


Bro. R. E. Parkinson writes: In Ireland the V.S.L. rests on the Altar in the middle of the Lodge Room, and it is placed so as to be read by the Candidate. In the Grand Lodge Room in Dublin, and in some old Lodges (including my own, No. 367, in Downpatrick), each of the principal officers also has a copy on his pedestal, and one of these should always be open, i.e., as the J.W. declares the Lodge open he closes his copy: the S.W. and W.M. in turn open theirs. Similarly, at closing, the J.W. opens his copy, and the S.W. and W.M. close theirs in turn.


            There is another aspect of the use of the V.S.L. which may have a bearing on our problem. A number of our old documents contain de‑tails of the manner in which the Obligation was administered. In many of the Old Charges, we find an instruction, often in Latin, which runs:


Then one of the Seniors holds the book and he or they [that are to be admitted] put their hands upon the book while the Charges ought to be read.

                        (Translated from the Thorp MS., c. 1629, AQC, Vol. 11, p. 210.)


The Beaumont MS., c. 1690, precedes this instruction with a heading:


The Mannor of taking an Oath att the Making free Masons.


            But the Old Charges do not say which way the `book' was facing.


            The Edinburgh Register House MS., 1696, and its two sister texts, furnish different details:


Imprimis you are to take the person to take the word [i.e., the Mason Word] upon his knees and after a great many ceremonies to frighten him you make him take up the bible and laying his right hand on it you are to conjure him to sec[r]ecie . . . [followed by the form of the oath].




26                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            It is clear that the Candidate lifted the Bible, holding it in or on his left hand, with his right hand upon it and it would seem safe to assume that he held the Book so that he could read it, not upside‑down.


            Yet another method is described in Prichard's Masonry Dissected, 1730. The catechism indicates that the Candidate was shewn `how to walk up (by three steps) to the Master' and the Candidate's posture for the Obligation is described as follows:


With my bare‑bended Knee and Body within the Square, the Compass extended to my naked Left Breast, my naked Right Hand on the Holy Bible; there I took the Obligation .. .


            The Mason's Confession (published in 1755‑6, but claiming to de‑scribe the ceremony of c. 1727) gives an unusual posture:


... the open compasses pointed to his breast, and his bare elbow on the Bible with his hand lifted up; and he swears .. .


            Later, in the same text, we find:


After the oath, a word in the scriptures was shewed me, which, said one, is the mason‑word. The word is in I Kings vii. 21 .. .


            Since the Candidate was invited to read the passage, we may fairly conclude that the V.S.L. was placed facing him.


            It has been suggested that in the earlier years of Speculative Masonry under the premier Grand Lodge, the Bible on the Master's pedestal would be arranged to face him, as `the source of light and instruction', and that the Antients generally administered the Obligation in the West, with the Bible resting between the Candidate's hands. Both practices were certainly in use, but there are two important and influential exposures which show that there was no such clear‑cut distinction.


            Three Distinct Knocks, 1760, which claimed to describe the practice of the Antients, contained a diagram showing that the Candidate took his Obligation facing the Master, but standing just one pace in front of the S.W. in the West, and the posture is described in excellent detail, as follows:


... my left Knee bare bent, my Body upright, my right Foot forming a Square, my naked right Hand upon the Holy Bible, with the Square and Compass thereon, my Left‑Hand supporting the same; .. .


            It is virtually certain that in this posture, in the West and away from the Master's pedestal, the V.S.L. was held by the Candidate so that he could read it.


            J. & B. was first published in 1762, claiming to represent Moderns' practice, but on this point the rival procedures are word‑for‑word identical.




                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               27


These two documents were exposures, not official publications, and despite their apparent uniformity there can be no doubt that other forms were in use. The best evidence for this is in Wm. Preston's First Lecture of Free Masonry, which describes the body and knee positions as in Three Distinct Knocks, but then continues:


right hand voluntarily laid on the Holy Law, left hand either supporting the Law [i.e., the V.S.L.] or holding the compasses in the form of a square and one point extended at the n . . . . 1 . . . b . . .


(AQC, Vol. 82, p. 125.)


Preston's First Lecture is the only version I have been able to trace which gives full sanction to both forms and shows that both were in general use.


            Browne's Master Key, 1802, had the left hand supporting the Compasses, and that posture seems to have been adopted at the union of the Grand Lodges; but no regulation was made as to the orientation of the V.S.L., and there is not a single document that affords instruction on that point.


            These notes are not intended to conflict with established practice, or with any particular working that contains a ruling on the subject. Unfortunately, most of our modern workings fail to provide any such directions.


            One final note; whichever way the Bible faces, the Compass points must always be towards the foot of the page. Otherwise, something is noticeably upside‑down.



13.                                           THE POINTS OF FELLOWSHIP


Q.  Are the Points of Fellowship of operative or speculative origin? Did they have any kind of symbolic explanation when they first appeared?


A.  The Points of Fellowship make their first appearance in Masonic documents in 1696, some twenty years before the creation of the first Grand Lodge and long before there is any real evidence of Speculative Freemasonry. They appear during the next thirty‑five years in a number of documents from different parts of Britain, suggesting that they were widely known among masons long before the date of the first version, 1696.


            There is a particular attraction in trying to trace the old practices of the Craft, not merely for their antiquity, but because it is so interesting


28                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            to see how far they differed from modern procedures and to notice, occasionally, their close resemblance.


            The `Points' are described for the first time in the Edinburgh Register House MS., in a section which relates to the ceremony for the `master mason or fellow craft', which was the second degree in the two‑degree system, at a time when only two degrees were known to the Craft. The text at one stage speaks of `... the posture [in which] he is to receive the word . . .' Elsewhere, there are two questions:


Q.  1. Are you a fellow craft?

A.         yes


Q.  2. How many points of the fellowship are ther?

A.  fyve viz. foot to foot Knee to Kn[ee] Heart to Heart, Hand to Hand and ear to ear .. .


            There are six texts in all, from 1696 to c. 1727, which have the five Points in exactly the same detail as those described above, but the last of them, `A Mason's Confession', which claims to record the practice in a Scottish operative lodge in 1727, begins `Hand to Hand . . .' and two of them speak of `proper Points' without any mention of Points of Fellowship.


            There are, moreover, two texts in which the procedure consists of six Points, instead of five, i.e., The `Mason's Examination', which was the first printed exposure, published in a London newspaper in 1723:


Q.  How many Points be there in Fellowship?

A.  Six; Foot to Foot, Knee to Knee, Hand to Hand, Ear to Ear, Tongue to Tongue, Heart to Heart.


The Grand Mystery Laid Open, a folio broadsheet, printed in 1726, speaks of six `Spiritual Signs':


What are these Signs, The first is Foot to Foot, the second is Knee to Knee, the third is Breast to Breast, the fourth is Hand to Back, the fifth is Cheek to Cheek, the sixth is Face to Face.


            The Graham MS., 1726, does not mention Points of Fellowship, but in its description of the raising of Noah (the earliest raising in a Masonic context) it lists five items, including the `hand to back' theme:


... and suported it [the corpse] setting ffoot to ffoot knee to knee Breast to breast Cheeck to cheeck and hand to back . . .


            In addition to all these versions, there are three early descriptions of postures which seem to be related to the Points of Fellowship, though it is obvious that the writers were ignorant of precise details:




THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               29


Standing close With their Breasts to each other the inside of each others right Ancle Joynts the masters grip by their right hands and the top of their Left hand fingers thurst [thrust?] close on ye small of each others Backbone ... till they whisper , .

                                                                                                (Sloane MS. 3329, c. 1700.)


The Trinity College, Dublin, MS. dated 1711, contains the shortest and most amusing version, described as `The Masters sign':


Squeese the Master by ye back bone, put your knee between his, & say ..


            The third of these postures is a much more complex affair. It appears in the `Mason's Examination', of 1723, which, as noted above, also contains a `six Points' version:


To know a Mason privately, you place your Right Heel to his Right Instep, put your Right Arm over his Left, and your Left under his Right, and then make a Square with your middle Finger, from his Left Shoulder to the middle of his Back, and so down to his Breeches.


            One further version of the Points must be included here, from Samuel Prichard's Masonry Dissected, 1730, because it was then, for the first time, embodied in the third degree and directly linked with a Hiramic legend: Hand to Hand, Foot to Foot, Cheek to Cheek, Knee to Knee, and Hand in Back.


            As to the question of explanation of the Points, the late Bro. Douglas Knoop, in his Prestonian Lecture on `The Mason Word', discussed possible sources and cited three Biblical examples `of miraculous restoration to life . . . by . . . complete coincidence between the living and dead'; [Elijah, in 1 Kings, xvii, 17 - 23; Elisha, in 2 Kings, iv, 34 - 35; St. Paul, Acts, xx, 9 - 12]. He concluded:


It is thus not impossible that the original stories of Noah and Hiram may have been those of attempts to restore these men to life, because their secrets had died with them. (See Collected Prestonian Lectures, pp. 255/6. Pub]. by the Q.C. Lodge, 1965.)


It is strange that none of the early texts up to 1730 contains a single word of explanation of the Points and this applies equally to the Graham MS., 1726, and Masonry Dissected, 1730, in both of which the Points were linked to legends. It was not until the 1760s, when a whole new stream of English exposures began to appear, that we find explanations attached to each of the Points. They are reproduced here as the earliest known version, from Three Distinct Knocks, which appeared in 1760:


Mas[ter] ... Pray will you explain them.


            Ans. 1st. Hand in Hand is, that I always will put forth my Hand to serve a Brother as far as lies in my power.



30                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            2d. Foot to Foot is, that I will never be afraid to go a Foot out of my way to serve a Brother.


            3d. Knee to Knee is, that when I kneel down to Prayers, I ought never to forget to pray for my Brother as well as myself.


            4th. Breast to Breast, is to show I will keep my Brother's secrets as my own.


5th. The Left‑hand supporting the Back, is that I will always be willing to support a Brother as far as lies in my power.


            We are fortunate in being able to compare these ancient practices of nearly 300 years ago with our modern procedures. They were certainly of operative origin, but their speculative symbolism arose in the 18th century.



14.                               THE SECOND PART OF THE THREEFOLD SIGN


Q.  Is it the Sn. of Prayer or Perseverance? I believe that the vast majority of modern rituals use the term `perseverance', though it is difficult to see why that word was adopted.


A.  In Exodus xvii, v. 8 - 13, we have the source to which the sign is most frequently attributed. The story tells of the Israelites in battle with the Amalekites, on the road to the Promised Land. Moses climbed to the top of the hill looking down on the battle, and `when Moses held up his hand . . . Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed'. Later, both his hands were supported until victory was won and, although the word `prayer' is not mentioned during this incident, there is little doubt that the posture, one hand or two, was a posture of prayer.


            In the description of the origins of this particular sign, there are several English rituals which refer to the sun standing still and continuing the `light of day' etc. The rubrics in these rituals usually refer this incident, correctly, to Joshua, x, v. 6 - 14; but it is difficult to see in what way it is related to the sign. A careful reading of the text shows that Joshua spoke, or prayed, to God, and he [Joshua] commanded the sun `to stand still', i.e., to continue the light of day etc. There is positively no mention of a sign, and no hint that he made any kind of sign.


            A third famous case of hands lifted in prayer is in I Kings viii, v. 22, when Solomon `spread forth his hands toward heaven' at the dedication of his Temple, and again in v. 54, when he arose `from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven'. There is no clue to the idea of `perseverance' in any of these cases.



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               31


Many of the Provincial workings do not use the word `perseverance' as the distinctive name of the sign in question, but call it the Sn. of Prayer, and the emergence of the sign is a problem in itself. There is an unusual note in `A Mason's Confession' (published in 1755 - 6, but claiming to describe the practices of c. 1727) which describes the Candidate's posture for the E.A. Obligation thus:


... the open compasses pointed to his breast, and his bare elbow on the Bible with his hand lifted up;


This seems to be a confusion of two separate procedures, and it must be emphasized that a rather curious sign which appears at a later stage in the text is not the sign in question, nor is it named. (See E.M.C., pp. 100, 102.) The second part of the Threefold Sign seems to have been quite late in coming into general practice, and the earliest details I can find in our ritual documents are in Three Distinct Knocks, 1760, and J. & B., 1762. Both texts indicate that it formed part of the F.C. Candidate's posture while taking his Obligation, and later in the ceremony he was entrusted with that part of the sign, though it did not yet have its distinctive name.


            Preston, in his Second Lecture of Free Masonry, was almost certainly describing pre‑union practice when he used that sign as part of the Candidate's posture, and in the subsequent catechism, he used the word `perseverance', a title which probably came into use in the last two decades of the 18th century. The Shadbolt MS. has `perseverance' as the name of the sign. That text is now accepted as an early record of post‑union practice, representing the ritual and procedures after the Lodge of Reconciliation had made its final revisions.


            Cartwright dealt with the title `Perseverance' at length (in his Commentary on the Freemasonic Ritual, pp. 170 - 1); he believed that the Emulation school introduced it in order to distinguish that sign from what they call the Sn. of Prayer (i.e. the S. of F. with the thumb closed). We know now that this was incorrect, because that name was already in use long before the Emulation Lodge of Improvement came into existence, in 1823.


            The customary definitions of `perseverance', i.e. `steadfast pursuit of an aim' and `tenacious assiduity or endeavour' are very appropriate, and they are supported by extracts from Preston's Second Lecture, First Section, Clauses I and III. In the preliminaries to the Candidate's admission for the F.C. Degree, (Cl. I) he is announced in a very long speech, as:


32                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            A Bro. Mason who has been initiated into the First Degree of the Order, has behaved well, served faithfully and is desirous of becoming more expert ...; that he, being regularly proposed and approved by the Master . . . as a candidate for preferment, honoured by them with the Test of Merit, properly prepared by Craftsmen and comes of his own free will humbly to solicit, not to demand. the secrets and privileges of the Second Degree as a reward for his past industry.


            (Several phrases have been shown here in italics, only to draw attention to Preston's emphasis on assiduity).


Later, in Cl. III, relating to the entrusting, the text runs:


What is the first secret?

It is the three‑fold sign.

            Give the first part. Gives it [i.e. the Pen. Sn.]

To what does it allude?

To the penalty of the Obligation.

            Give the second part. Gives it [i.e. the S. of F.]

To what does it refer?

To the fidelity of a Craftsman.

            Give me the third part. Gives it.

            To what does it refer?

To the perseverance of a Craftsman.


                                                                                    (See AQC, Vol. 83, pp. 202, 205.)


These two passages from Preston's Lecture, when taken together, show that the word `perseverance', which later became one of the names of that sign, was directly related to the Candidate's behaviour, service, zeal and industry, so that the conferment of the F.C. Degree was in fact a reward for `Perseverance'.


            It seems a pity that these passages have disappeared from our modern versions of the Lecture, and nowadays we describe the supposed Biblical source of the sign, without adequate explanation of its name and meaning.


            Finally, the $64,000 question, which was not posed in this instance. Should the hand, when seen from the front, be seen flat, or edgewise? This question arises constantly, especially from Brethren who have witnessed both forms. Once again, there is no official ruling, and the innumerable printed versions of the ritual afford no information on this point. It is not possible, therefore, to determine that either version is correct, or incorrect.


            Dr. Cartwright held that `without doubt' the flat position was the original, and he supported it with a quotation from the Bristol working, in which the Master directs that the hand should be held p . . m to the f . . . t. The Bristol working has never been published by any authorizing



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               33


body, and the instruction is an oral one; but the Bristol ritual is certainly one of the oldest versions in continuous use in England, and on that ground alone it must command attention. Many, if not most of the Provincial lodges follow Bristol fashion; the London lodges generally show the hand edgewise, which Dr. Cartwright described as an innovation.


            As a Preceptor, I have taught the `edgewise' position for many years, because my Mother Lodge inherited that practice, but I firmly believe that the Bristol usage is much older, and probably more `correct'.



15.                                                       DIVIDED LOYALTIES?



Q.  The Charge in the First Degree under New South Wales Constitution has two (possibly conflicting) principles expressed in one sentence:


... You are to pay obedience to the laws of any country or state which may, even for a time, become your place of residence, or afford you its protection; and, above all, let me especially charge you never to forget the allegiance due to the ruler of your native land, remembering that nature has implanted in your breast a sacred and indissoluble attachment to the country whence you derived your birth and infant nurture.


            Thus, on the one hand the Candidate is required to be a lawful citizen of his place of residence and on the other to remember the allegiance due to his native land and its ruler. Could you give me some guidance on the emergence of the `lawful citizen' principle and the `infant nurture - native land' idea?


A. The Mason's duty to be a law‑abiding citizen is drawn directly from Anderson's Charge II of the `Charges of a Free‑Mason' under the heading Of the Civil, MAGISTRATE supreme and subordinate, and with only minor modifications it appears under the same headings in the English Book of Constitutions to this day:


A Mason is a peaceable Subject to the Civil Powers, wherever he resides or works, and is never to be concern'd in Plots and Conspiracies against the Peace and Welfare of the Nation nor behave himself undutifully to inferior Magistrates . .

                                                                                    (Anderson's B. of C., 1723.


            In the State, a Mason is to behave as a peaceable and dutiful Subject, conforming cheerfully to the Government under which he lives . . .

                                    (Smith's Pocket Companion, 1735 `Charge to . . . new Brethren'.)


34                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            ... He is cheerfully to conform to every lawful authority .. .

                                                                        (B. of C., U.G.L. of England, p. 4, 1970.)


As to the question on loyalty and duty to your native land, loyalty to the King is one of the oldest injunctions in the Craft. The earliest surviving version of the Old Charges, the Regius MS. of c. 1390, prescribed (word for word in modern spelling):


And to his liege lord the King

To be true to him over all thing


The Cooke MS. of c. 1410:

... and they shall be true to the King of England and the realm .. .


            and loyalty to the King, without treason or treachery, is prescribed in every version of the Old Charges - often as part of the candidate's composite obligation of loyalty to the King, his Masters and Fellows.


            I suggest it was the Cooke MS., c. 1410, which first drew attention to the mason's duty to his native land with its reference to the `King of England and the realm . . .' and Anderson implied much the same in his reference to the `Welfare of the Nation . . .' quoted above.


            It was Preston in his 1796 Illustrations who added to the `loyalty to sovereign and country' the new idea:


... yielding obedience to the laws which afford you protection, and never forgetting the attachment you owe to the spot where you first drew breath .. .


            In his 1801 edition, Preston rearranged his words without improving them:


... never forgetting the attachment you owe to the place of your nativity, or the allegiance due to the sovereign and protectors of that spot.


            The 1804 English edition and the 1st American edition published in that year had the same wording as in 1801. Likewise the 1821 edition, which was published three years after Preston's death, and Dr. Oliver's editions of 1829 and 1840 retained those words unchanged.


            The change to our present wording seems to have made its first appearance in print in Richard Carlile's exposure, The Republican, dated Friday, 8 July 1825:


... and, above all, by never losing sight of the allegiance due to the Sovereign of your native land: ever remembering that nature has implanted in your breast a sacred and indissoluble attachment to that country, from which you derived your infant birth and nurture . . .


            When this question was first posed to me in 1962, it dealt specifically with possible conflict of loyalties and the examples then quoted included Englishmen resident in America during the War of Independence, or



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               35


Masons residing in any country that might be at war with their native land. I found that difficult to answer, since the early versions of our Charges and later Masonic Regulations etc., apparently did not envisage emigration.


            If I dare to answer now with a little more confidence than before, it is only because I am quite sure that in such a conflict of loyalties the Mason's duty must be first of all to the land in which he resides and which `affords him protection'.



16.                                                       SQUARING THE LODGE


Q.  In our working, we square the lodge; but I have visited lodges in which that is not done. Why do we square the lodge?


A.  It is almost certain that the practice arose unintentionally. In the early 1730s, the `lodge', i.e. the Tracing Board, was drawn on the floor, usually within a border, or else the `floor‑cloth' (then just coming into use) was rolled out in the middle of the floor. In the small tavern rooms which were the principal places of meeting there cannot have been much space left for traversing the lodge and, if the `drawing' or `floor‑cloth' was to be protected, a certain amount of squaring was inevitable. Of course, it was not the `heel‑clicking' type of precise squaring, but simply a natural caution to avoid disturbing or spoiling the design.


            There is a minute, dated 1734, of the Old King's Arms Lodge, now No. 28, which mentions `the Foot Cloth made use of at the Initiation of new members', but the earliest pictures of `floor‑cloths' in use, are dated 1744, and they show fairly large designs laid out to cover most of the floor of a small lodge room, with all the Brethren grouped around. Looking at those engravings, one can see that squaring was almost obligatory. (See illustration on p. ii.) The earliest record I can find describing perambulations round the `floor‑cloth' is in Reception d'un Frey‑Macon, 1737, which says that the Candidate was


... made to take three tours in the Chamber, around a space marked on the Floor, where . . . at the two sides of this space they have also drawn in crayon a great J. & a great B. . . .

                                                                                                                        (E.F.E., p. 6.)


Most workings nowadays square the Lodge, clockwise, during the ceremonies, but the exaggerated squaring, which requires all movements to be made clockwise round the floor of the Lodge and forbids crossing


36                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


diagonally even during ordinary business, probably arose in the mid‑1800s. The word exaggerated is used deliberately here, because the practice is often carried to extremes, which are a waste of valuable time.


            I cite only one example; there are many more:


In English Lodges the Secretary sits on the N. side of the Lodge, facing the J.W. in the S. The S.D. sits in the N.E. corner and, after the minutes have been read and confirmed, it is his duty to collect the Minute‑book from the Secretary's desk, some ten feet away (anti‑clockwise), and take it to the W.M. for signature. Then, to take the book back to the Secretary and return to his own place. All perfectly neat and simple; but in lodges that worship the clockwise procedure, this would not be permitted. The S.D. must cross the lodge from N.E. to S.E., then down to the J.W. in the South, then cross again, South to North, to take the book from the Secretary's table and lastly, with the book, to the W.M. After the W.M. has signed the Minutes, the S.D. is still only ten or twelve feet away from the Secretary's table, but he is not allowed to walk there anti‑clockwise; he must do the whole tour again!The S.D. may look like a demi‑god and march like a guardsman, but the whole business is still tedious and a waste of time.


            The practice of squaring is wholly admirable, because it adds much to the dignity of the ceremonies, so long as it is not carried to extremes.



17.                                                       THE WINDING STAIRS


Q.  In Craft Masonry all movements are made clockwise, `with the sun', but in the Second Degree, the five steps up the Winding Stairs are made anti‑clockwise. Why?


A.  There is an exaggeration in this question, which demands comment. The clockwise procedure is custom, not law, even in those Lodges where clockwise movements have become a fetish.


            In English Lodges, the Altar is in the East, forming a pedestal in front of the W.M. When the Candidate in the Second Degree is led up to it to take his Obligation, he is supposedly copying our ancient Brethren who went into the Temple by an entrance on the south side and made their way, by a Winding Stair, to the `middle chamber', whose precise location is not specified. But the majority of English workings relating to those steps start the Candidate at the N.E., and lead him to the Altar in the East. In plain fact, we are not even trying to copy the supposed ancient practice, and the two procedures cannot be reconciled.


            I have never seen an interpretation of the `Winding Stairs' in K.S.T. which proves that they rose clockwise or anti‑clockwise, and although



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               37






38                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


Lodge customs in such matters should not be changed lightly, the objection to the anti‑clockwise approach would be removed if the Cand. were to begin his journey from a point in the middle of the floor, travelling clockwise towards the Altar. This procedure is practised in many over‑seas jurisdictions, especially in those which have their Altar in the centre of the lodge.


            This question is closely connected with the illustrations of the Wind‑ ing Stair on the Tracing Boards. A glance at the illustrations in Dring's famous paper on Tracing Boards (AQC 29) shows the vast majority of the Winding Stairs spring from left to right, i.e., anti‑clockwise. But Figures 25, 34, 36 and 56 all show the stairs springing clockwise, from right to left. This is a problem that must have troubled many of the artists who designed the Boards, as well as the students who followed them, and the relevant verses in I Kings, vi, 5‑10, do not throw any light on this point.


            Reverting to the clockwise fetish; it probably had its origins in two quite separate sources:


1. An interest in the movements of the sun (its rising, its meridian, and its setting) to be found in many of our earliest versions of the ritual. These themes continue in our ritual to this day and they certainly gave rise to our modern clockwise procedure.


            2. The custom of `Drawing the Lodge' which led to the practice of `squaring', as described in the preceding answer.


            In the course of time, these two practices merged quite naturally, and our modern ceremonies are all the better for this degree of uniformity which is so much admired by our visitors from overseas.



18.                                           PENALTIES IN THE OBLIGATIONS


Q.  What is the background to the penalties in the Obligations? Everyone knows that they were never inflicted, but they must terrify the Candidates. Can anything be done about them?


A.  The question, as framed above, is a composite of questions and comments received, following the publication in AQC Vol. 74, (1961), pp. 129‑133, of a paper by the present writer, `The Obligation and its place in the ritual', which traced the evolution of the mason's Obligation, from the earliest hint of its existence, in c. 1390, down to 1730. A footnote to that paper made reference to some well‑founded criticism of the Craft in relation to the penalties, and applauding some useful



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               39


modifications, then recently introduced in Scotland with permission of their Grand Lodge. A number of comments came in, as usual, but the paper - which was not intended to be more than a historical account of the Obligation - did not arouse any unusual notice.


            I shall try to deal, first, with the background to the penalties and then with the steps that have been taken by the United Grand Lodge of England in this matter.


            It is not possible to discuss the penalties here in detail. They were apparently borrowed from treason penalties that were current in England in the 14th and 15th centuries and they seem to have been of rather late introduction into the Craft ritual. The earliest ritual documents, for example, 1696 - c.1710, indicate that there was a penalty (or penal sn.,) for the E.A., but no others are mentioned. The Dumfries No. 4 MS., c. 1710, adds several others, but it is not until 1730 that we find three lots of penalties all embodied in the E.A. Obligation.


            Thirty years later, in 1760, we have the earliest examples of exposures containing separate Obligations for each degree, each of them with the penalties of their time.


            There is no shred of evidence that the penalties were ever inflicted, though the Craft has often been attacked on the wholly unfounded assumption that they were.


            As to what can be done about them, a great deal has been done in recent years, and that story - so far as English practice is concerned - forms an interesting stage in the history of our ritual.


            The most interesting comment on the `Obligation' paper noted above, was in a letter dated 1 September 1962, from the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Quebec, M.W. Bro. B. V. Atkinson, and it was reproduced in the Q.C. Lodge Summons for October 1962: Apropos of your comments on the Obligation and its place in the Ritual [AQC 74, p. 133], I thought you might be interested in a development in respect of the penalties, as adopted by our Grand Lodge at its meeting in June last. [See extract below.] You will note that we have placed the physical and real penalties in proper relation to each other, without eliminating the former from the obligation. Herein we are following what I believe is the practice under the Irish Constitution.


            I am extremely pleased that we have adopted this change in wording, for I have felt for a long time that calling on the name of God, and binding a solemn obligation in the terms of the physical penalty on the pages of the Holy Bible, was nothing less than sacrilege.


            I note that Scotland, too, has dealt with this matter, and basically on the same premises, though in a somewhat different manner.




40                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


[Extract relating to the E.A.]

These several points I solemnly swear to observe, without evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation of any kind, and, while bearing in mind the ancient symbolic penalty of etc., etc. (here the I.G. impresses the symbolic penalty in the usual way), binding myself under the real penalty on the violation of any of them, of being branded a wilfully perjured individual, void of all moral worth, and totally unfit . . . etc.


[Note, the F.C. and the M.M. are instructed in similar fashion.]


Many years later, I heard that in 1955, in response to an invitation from R.W. Bro. Sir Ernest Cooper, then President of the Board of General Purposes, the Committee of the Emulation Lodge of Improvement had submitted drafts of several different forms in which the Obligations might be revised, but the Board did not recommend any action and there was no mention of the matter in the Grand Lodge Proceedings. It seemed as though the subject had died a natural death.


            About a year after the publication of my own paper on `The Obligation . . .' we had a visit at Q.C. headquarters from one of our much respected and senior Past Masters, Bro. J. R. Rylands, of Wakefield, Yorks. He came into my office, threw a paper on my desk, and smiling, said, `There you are, Harry, and I dare you to print it'. I glanced at the title, `The Masonic Penalties' and skimmed a few paragraphs and said, `I'll not only print it; I am going to get you the biggest audience any Q.C. paper ever had'. A date was fixed for the delivery of the paper in the Q.C. Lodge, 3 January 1964, and a letter was sent to the Grand Secretary asking permission for advance proofs to be sent to every member of the Board of General Purposes and to all the Provincial Grand Masters.


            Permission was granted and, in due course, copies were posted to all those distinguished Brethren, with a special invitation to each of them to attend the January meeting but, in case they were unable to be present, to send their comments on the paper, which would be printed in full, with all the comments, in the 1964 volume of AQC.


            The synopsis of the paper could not fail to attract the attention of every Freemason and it gives a very good idea of the author's approach to a difficult and delicate subject:


Synopsis to `The Masonic Penalties' by Bro. J. R. Rylands: Open to criticism; The legal position; Their unreality; Penalties on the V.S.L.; Their `antiquity'; Their raison d'etre; Their present place in the ritual; Symbolic significance; Practices elsewhere; Possible action.


            The Q.C. meeting on 3 January 1964 was one of the best‑attended and most exciting within living memory. It was, as always, a distinguished



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               41


gathering, honoured on this occasion by the presence of three Provincial Grand Masters and three members of the Board of General Purposes. Despite ill‑health, Bro. John Rylands attended and read the paper him‑self; his fine resonant voice and expert delivery were additional high‑lights to that memorable evening. The verbal comments that followed the paper were sufficient to show a deep gulf in opinions, which ranged from the traditional die‑hard view that the penalties must not be touched, to the opposite extreme, urging their total abolition.


            Written comments began to pour in. The original paper was quite a short piece of only 4000 words. The comments, which included valuable contributions from twelve Provincial Grand Masters, totalled 36,000 words! The paper had become a best‑seller and it was actually reprinted three times before it appeared in its final form, in AQC Vol. 77. Several attempts had been made during the preceding decade to promote official action on the penalties, but, for one reason or another, they had all come to nothing. Bro. Rylands had designed his paper to side‑track former difficulties, and to lay the points at issue before a world‑wide Masonic audience.


            Precise details of the events of the next few months are not available, but there was a major development in Grand Lodge, at the Quarterly Communication on 10 June 1964, when the M.W. Grand Master announced, before the close of business, that R.W. Bro. Bishop Herbert, Provincial Grand Master for Norfolk, wished to address Grand Lodge `on a matter which has for some time been exercising both his mind and the minds of other experienced Masons'. The subject was the Masonic Penalties.


            Bishop Herbert began his address with a generous tribute to the manner in which the Quatuor Coronati Lodge had very well illustrated the many aspects of the subject in its proceedings, and he gave notice that he was going to move a Resolution at a future Communication of the Grand Lodge. He then outlined the religious and ethical problems that were involved in the penalties, especially from the point of view of a Candidate for Initiation being called upon, `suddenly, without warning, . . . to repeat certain statements about penalties which give him a moral shock . . .'. Underlining his theme that the prime objection to the penalties was `a moral one, and, therefore deserving of our sympathy' he continued:


I think that almost all of us would welcome a removal of this cause of stumbling which is, incidentally, as we know well, also a potent weapon in the hands of the adversary.




42                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            He then explained, briefly, his own objections to any drastic changes, which might cause controversy in the Craft, and suggested that a small alteration of only a few words would have the desired effect, to which change he would (in his Resolution) ask the Grand Lodge to give its approval as a permissive variation. He read the details of the proposed change, to be used in each of the three degrees, as follows:


In place of the words `under no less a penalty on the violation of any of them than that of having' the words `ever bearing in mind the ancient penalty on the violation of them, that of having'.


            The attendance that day was an average one, 1136 in all, because the subject of the Bishop's address was not on the Paper of Business and his speech, being simply advance notice of a future Resolution, could not be discussed that day. But the effect on the Brethren was electrifying, because this was no longer an academic question, but would be of immediate importance to all the 7000 lodges under English Constitution.


            It proved impracticable for the Resolution to be put and discussed at the Quarterly Communication in September, because the majority of the English lodges having been in recess during the summer months, there had been no time for proper discussion, and at the Bishop's re‑quest it was deferred till 9 December 1964.


            There was a `packed house' attendance in Grand Lodge on that day, over 2100 in all (against an average of 1300). Every seat was occupied; Brethren were sitting on the stairs and standing in the gangways. Some 200 or more Brethren were left standing in the ante‑room outside the Grand Temple, because there was no more room inside, and the main doors were left open so that they could hear the debate.


            The M.W. Grand Master, the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Scarbrough, K.G., was in the Chair and, after preliminary business had been completed, he opened the Penalties Debate by outlining the order of procedure that he proposed to follow, indicating that after the leaders on the Resolution and on several Amendments had spoken, there were several members of Grand Lodge who had notified the Grand Secretary of their desire to speak, and they would be called in turn. After this, every Brother who wished to speak, would be given an opportunity to do so.


            R.W. Bro. Bishop Herbert, in opening the discussion, said it was not necessary for him to repeat his former arguments, and he described, very briefly, the scope and limitations of his Resolution. He noted wide differences of views on the subject, ranging from those who found the penalties wholly repugnant, to those who insisted that not one word should be moved or altered. For the latter, he said that the Resolution



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               43


was not intended for them and they need pay no attention to it. For all others who found serious objections to it, for whatever reason, he emphasized that the proposed changes of only a few words would re‑move a serious moral problem, leaving the penalties in the Obligation simply by way of allusion to them, but effectively excluding them from `what the candidate so solemnly swears to'. He added that there would be some necessary consequential amendments, which could be settled easily, since they would not involve any questions of principle. Finally, for those who might feel that the Resolution did not go far enough, he said `It's the first bite that counts'.


            In the capacity of Secretary - Editor of the Q.C. Lodge, the present writer had been invited, some days before, to second the Resolution and his approach was from a different angle. Speaking of the fortunate situation of the Craft in England, where it is virtually immune from the scourge of anti‑Masonry which has plagued the Freemasons in so many countries in Europe and the Americas, he urged that `we dare not withhold from the Grand Lodge the ability to move in defence of the Craft, at a time when we all have to be on our guard'. He also asked that the adjective `ancient' in the Bishop's Resolution, which might imply that the penalties had actually been used in the Craft in olden times, should be altered to `traditional'; Bishop Herbert had already agreed to this change.


            The first Amendment, relating to a legal question of authority, was proposed by the Grand Registrar, seconded by his Deputy, and carried; it did not affect the objects of the Resolution.


            An Amendment was then put by Bro. Lt.‑Col. J. W. Chitty, M.B.E., P.S.G.D., who proposed that if the accepted wording was to be altered, the alternative should be:


under a penalty no less than that of death, ever bearing in mind the ancient symbolic penalty of .. .


            This was seconded; but among all the points that were discussed that day, this was the only instance of a desire to strengthen the standard wording; when a vote was taken, it was defeated by a large majority.


            The debate continued for over two hours, covering literally every aspect of the subject. One noteworthy point was made in the suggestion that the whole matter should be referred to a committee, to be appointed by the Board of General Purposes `to consider to what extent it is possible to delete from the Ritual the various references to physical penal‑ties in the three Degrees, and to make appropriate recommendations to


44                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


Grand Lodge . . .'. The proposal found a seconder, but the President of the Board of General Purposes rose to say that


never in the long course of its history has the Board of General Purposes touched Ritual in any shape or form . . . [and that he could find] . . . no authority in the Book of Constitutions whereby the Board of General Purposes can be compelled to accept responsibility for Ritual.


            The proposal was defeated and the debate continued. There were six‑teen speakers in all and when it became obvious that everyone who wished to speak had spoken and that all points had been covered, the M.W.G.M., before putting the Resolution, added a few words himself on the understanding that the whole question was a matter of conscience and that he did not want to influence anyone. He then described how often, in his travels in England and abroad, Brethren had approached him of their own accord to say that `they wished something could be done about the penalties'. Then, with a few closing words, he put the Resolution and it was carried by an overwhelming majority.


            Within the space of a few weeks the representatives of Emulation, Logic and Stability workings had examined the consequential amendments and agreed on the forms which were to be recommended for adoption (thereby avoiding the probability of hundreds of different `home‑made' versions). They were published in leaflet form and some 100,000 copies were distributed to lodges and individual Brethren by the Q.C. Lodge alone.


            Another by‑product of the `Permissive Changes' was the establishment, almost immediately, of governing bodies for three extremely popular versions of the Ritual, namely, Taylor's, Universal, and West End, which had never previously enjoyed the advantage of having a controlling authority. All three of them subsequently published `Authorized Versions' of their workings.


            Writing now, some ten years after those events, it would have been pleasant to record that the `Permissive Changes' have been widely adopted, but the truth is that we do not know. A large number of lodges, out of the 1700 in the London area, have certainly adopted the changes, but it seems likely that they represent only a fraction of the whole.


            In the Provinces, it is impossible to gauge the extent of their adoption. One finds them being worked in all sorts of Lodges, large and small, in cities and in villages. Generally, one might expect that they would follow the views of their Provincial Grand Masters and there are one or two Provinces in which every lodge has adopted the changes, but there seems to be no overall pattern.





THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               45


If they have not found a wider acceptance, it is almost certainly be‑cause of official reluctance to prescribe the changes and there must be many Brethren today who wish that the Grand Lodge had ordered the changes instead of making them purely optional. [This report of the Penalties Debate is largely based on the Grand Lodge Proceedings for 9 December 1964, in which all the speeches were reported in full.]



19.                               CONFIRMING MINUTES AND VOTING THE



Q.  What is the significance of the right hand stretched out at length, palm downwards, when voting for the confirmation of minutes, as being `the manner observed among Masons'?


A.  After discussion with several learned Brethren, I am still not sure of the answer. It is probably an act of ratification and, as such, it may bear some relationship to the position of the R.H. during the Ob. In that case I suggest that the outstretched hand alone is not enough, but that the thumb should be forming a square. We are taught that `... all squares, levels, etc.... are true and proper signs . . . etc.', and the early eighteenth century catechisms indicate that `squares' and similar moreor‑less unobtrusive modes of recognition were quite common practice (even to the point of writing the superscription of a letter in the form of a square).


            So far as I know, the outstretched hand is customary all over England and in the Commonwealth.


            But the problem has a different aspect if we distinguish between con‑firming the minutes and voting in general. A regulation of the Grand Lodge on 6 April 1736 prescribed that the mode of voting should be by `holding up one hand', and those same words appear in Rule 59 of our present‑day Book of Constitutions. Clearly the regulation requires that the hand should be held up, not outstretched, and if we assume, as we must, that the Grand Lodge adheres to its own regulations, then `holding up one hand' has been, for more than two centuries, `the manner observed among Masons'. Yet, it must be admitted that even in Grand Lodge, when confirming the minutes and for ordinary voting, the vast majority of Brethren use the outstretched hand.




46                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


20.                                                          THE ST. JOHN'S CARD


Q.  The St. John's Card - what does it mean and how did it arise?


A.  It was introduced in Q.C. Lodge originally as a kind of annual greeting‑card from the W.M. and Officers to all the members of the Lodge and Correspondence Circle. It was always dated 27 December, i.e., St. John's Day in Winter, and bound in the annual volume of Transactions (Ars Quatuor Coronatorum).


            At its first appearance, in 1887, it consisted of an octavo card, printed in shades of rust, beige and blue, showing a well‑known picture of the four Crowned Martyrs, with some other Masonic symbols. The `Card' also contained a letter of greetings from the W.M. surveying the achievements of the Lodge during its first year. This was followed by a list of names and addresses of all members of the Lodge and the C.C., covering some nine pages, and a separate letter from the Secretary explaining the list and giving a four‑page list of Abbreviations used for the ranks and titles of the members.


            With the passing years, the artistic quality of the coloured `Cards' (never of a high standard) grew steadily worse, and in 1896 they were mercifully abandoned, a quiet monochrome design being adopted in their place. This ran for several years until 1901, when the Card was set up without ornaments.


            Meanwhile, the actual lists of members had grown steadily larger; in 1912 (Vol. 25) the St. John's Card occupied 107 full‑size pages of the Transactions. The cost of printing the lists must have been an intolerable burden by this time, but it was not until December 1919 that the Lodge was forced to economize, and in Vol. 32, for the first time, the St. John's Card listed only those who had joined the Lodge during the preceding year. It was abandoned after Vol. 86 (1973) as an economy measure.


            One word of warning about the St. John's Cards. The early volumes of the Transactions are exceedingly rare, and as collector's pieces they are fairly expensive. It is therefore worth noting that although the St. John's Cards are of no particular value to the Masonic student, the volumes, from the booksellers' and collectors' point of view, are considered faulty and incomplete if they lack the Cards.



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               47



21.                                           MASONIC RITUAL IN ENGLAND AND U.S.A.


Q.  What is the custom in England in regard to the distribution and maintenance of the standard forms of Masonic ritual? There are many variations of practice in the U.S.A. and we would like to know how you compare.


A.  The United Grand Lodge of England does not publish, nor does it give its authorization to any specific form of ritual, either written, printed or spoken. For several years prior to the Union of the two rival Grand Lodges, in 1813, efforts were being made behind the scenes to bring them together. In 1809, the premier Grand Lodge (Moderns) took a major step in that direction by the formation of the Lodge of Promulgation, 1809 - 1811; its membership consisted of seven senior Grand Officers of the year, with a number of elected Brethren who were all deemed expert in ritual matters. Their task was to study the landmarks and esoteric practices, and to recommend the changes that were to be made in bringing the ritual to a form that would be acceptable to both sides.


            On 7 December 1813, twenty days before the Union, the Lodge of Reconciliation was warranted by the Moderns, and a similar body was erected on the same day (by Dispensation) for the Antients. At the Union on 27 December 1813, the two bodies combined, their main duty being to teach and demonstrate the ceremonies which had been officially adopted. Apart from the Grand Master and other senior officers of the two Grand Lodges, the main membership now consisted of eighteen experts in the ritual and procedures, i.e., nine appointed by each side.


            Surviving post‑union documents indicate that the Reconciliation ritual was not identical with the Promulgation recommendations; some changes had been made, but no official copy of the newly‑approved forms was issued. The Lodge of Reconciliation gave a series of demonstrations in London to large audiences representing London and Provincial Lodges, and it closed down in 1816.


            Several of its expert members then undertook to demonstrate the new forms to Lodges in the London area, and in visits to the Provinces. This was, of course, a very slow process, and, considering that no official version had been issued as a basis for instruction, the numerous `workings' in use all over England today have achieved a truly remark‑able degree of standardization. There are, indeed, a few differences in


48                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


phrasing, in the manner of communicating the signs, and some marked variations in the `words' of the third degree.


            In the north and west of England there are occasionally wider variations, largely due to the retention of ancient practices, e.g., `The Bristol Working', but, with these exceptions, it may be said that the standard of uniformity is very high, especially so when we remember that the Grand Lodge does not interfere in these matters and exercises no official control.


            The first post‑Union ritual to appear in print was `An Exposure of Freemasonry', by Richard Carlile, who was the printer and publisher of a weekly magazine, The Republican. He was a colourful character, a Freethinker and a great fighter for the freedom of the press. He had, above all, no respect for persons, and he served several terms of imprisonment for printing `scandalous, impious, blasphemous and profane libels'. His ritual of the Craft degrees, with Lectures and his own commentaries, appeared in consecutive weekly parts of The Republican, beginning on 8 July 1825, at a time when he was still in prison. The text of his exposure was extremely interesting, but the series as a whole was a scurrilous attack on Freemasonry. His ritual, shorn of its anti‑Masonic material, was published as The Manual of Freemasonry in 1831, 1836 and 1843, and it had a ready sale.


            The first `respectable' post‑Union ritual was published by George Claret in 1838, without official approval, of course. He had attended at least six meetings of the Lodge of Reconciliation and had served as Candidate for the third degree at one of those demonstrations. Claret's Ritual (121 pages, 12mo.) was printed in clear language, with dashes and dots to indicate words and letters that were necessarily omitted. His book achieved numerous editions and it was undoubtedly the ancestor of most of the `little blue books' in use in Britain today.


            The two formularies which claim pride of place as being nearest to the forms adopted in 1813 are known as Emulation and Stability, and these, with many more modern versions, have appeared in print, all readily obtainable by Masons (and often by non‑Masons) at the Craft outfitters. The Emulation Ritual, approved by its governing body, the Emulation Lodge of Improvement, was not published until 1969, though there were many unauthorized versions during the preceding century which claimed to be in accordance with strict Emulation working.


            In the late 19th century and in more recent times the opinion was widely held that Emulation working was favoured by the Grand Lodge. This impression may have arisen because it is certainly one of the



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               49


earliest forms that had its own governing body since 1823, but neither this nor any other working has any kind of official authorization. All are printed in plain language, with omissions at the appropriate points, and they usually exhibit only minor differences phrasing and rubrication. Maintenance of the `standard forms' is achieved largely by means of Lodges of Instruction which meet, usually once a week, for rehearsal purposes.


            The Grand Lodge view in regard to ritual practices is not expressed precisely in the Book of Constitutions; indeed, the word `ritual' does not appear there. Rule 155, however, runs:


The members present at any Lodge duly summoned have an undoubted right to regulate their own proceedings, provided they are consistent with the general laws and regulations of the Craft;


The Regulation, as it stands, is somewhat obscure in regard to ritual practice, but its relevance was clarified in the Year Book, under Decisions of the Board of General Purposes on Points of Procedure:


Q.  Is a Master entitled to decide what ritual shall be practised during his year of office?

A.  Rule 155, B. of C., lays it down that the majority of a Lodge shall regulate the proceedings.


            The question was altered in the Year Book for 1966, so that it now reads:


Q.  Is the Master entitled to decide what procedure shall be practised during his year of office? [My italics.]


But the answer remains the same. In effect, ritual in the English lodges is treated, to all intents and purposes,, as a purely domestic matter, although the Grand Lodge would undoubtedly intervene in the event of any undesirable innovations.


            For the benefit of Brethren who are unacquainted with comparable practices in the U.S.A., the following notes are added.


            The various Grand Lodges differ widely in their approach to the methods of instruction and dissemination. In Pennsylvania and California, all printed or MS. rituals are forbidden and instruction is purely from `mouth to ear'. The would‑be officer of a Lodge must attend at rehearsal until he attains proficiency by ear. In most jurisdictions, however, printed rituals (and so‑called monitors) are permitted, being published by authority of the Grand Lodges and, of course, officially recognized. These productions vary considerably. A few, like our English rituals, are in plain language, with gaps. Others are in a two‑letter code, i.e., the first two letters of every word. There


50                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


are some in a one‑letter code, i.e., the first letter of each word, and, needless to say, these codes present great difficulties to the untrained eye and ear. Another code, rather easier to read, usually gives the two or three main consonants of each word, e.g., wt for what. Several jurisdictions use this together with a kind of geometrical cipher, terrifying at first glance, though not nearly so difficult as it appears to be.


            The Grand Lodge of Kansas prints a ritual containing most of the material in code and, in addition, distributes a monitor which contains verbatim much of the lectures and Scriptures, and this seems to be the practice of several of the Grand Lodges.


            Uniformity of practice is ensured by the appointment of `Grand Lecturers', each in charge of a `manageable' group of Lodges. In England we might, perhaps, describe them as `Grand Preceptors', be‑cause their main duty is not to give lectures, but to supervise the Lodges under their care and ensure that they do not deviate from the official working. This they do by means of `Exemplifications', i.e., full‑scale dress rehearsals in which all the officers of the Lodges participate. Occasionally the officers of a whole `District' (varying from five to fifteen Lodges) will take part in an Exemplification, the first team doing a portion of the ceremony, and, after comments and corrections from the Grand Lecturer, the next team continues where the others left off.


            Section 355 of the Regulations under the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts may be quoted as an example of normal procedure:


It shall be the duty of each District Deputy Grand Master to convene the Lodges of his District at least once in two years for the purpose of holding a District Exemplification of the work and lectures under the supervision of one of the Grand Lecturers, unless excused, for cause, by the Grand Master.


            It is noteworthy that in many jurisdictions the Grand Lecturers are `compensated' for their services from funds provided by their Grand Lodges and by the Lodges under their supervision.


            If uniformity of ritual practice is to be deemed a desirable end in itself, the methods adopted by the Masonic authorities in the U.S.A. to preserve their own particular forms are extremely effective. If uniformity is considered as a safeguard against the individual Lodges indulging in a riot of modified `workings' that might easily lead to the introduction of all sorts of undesirable practices, then the zeal for uniformity would also seem to be fully justified.


            In England, however, despite the generally high degree of standardization, the studious visitor to Lodges will often find stress laid on a



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               51


particular word, or phrase or action; or he will see some little piece of time‑honoured procedure conducted in a manner entirely different from that in his own Lodge. It is these variations which give a kind of local colour and character to the work that is always interesting and often admirable, and there can be little doubt that these are the best arguments against standardization.





Q.  When did the word `Bible' first appear in Masonic literature? When did the Bible first appear in a Masonic lodge; the name and location of the said lodge? When did Masonic lodges first take on a formal setting, as distinct from informal gatherings or assemblies of masons?


A.  If you insist on the word `Bible', its first appearance in a Masonic context seems to be in the later 1600s.


            No part of the Bible was printed in English until 1525, and the first complete Bible in English was not printed until 1535. At this date, therefore, one would hardly expect to find the Bible in general use any‑where outside a Church or Monastery, or in a really wealthy household, and this may well explain the absence of early references to the Bible in our oldest Masonic documents.


            Many versions of the MS. Constitutions or Old Charges contain instructions, usually in Latin, prescribing the form of administering the oath. The earliest of these instructions appears in the Grand Lodge No. 1 MS., dated 1583. It begins:


Tunc unus ex Seniorbus tenerit librum ..., and the passage may be translated: Then one of the elders holds out a book and he or they (that are to be sworn) shall place their hands upon it and the following precepts shall be read.


            Here the book might mean the `Book of Charges' (i.e., the copy of the Constitutions), but the word `book' is ambiguous, and a doubt remains.


            In many of the later cases the reference to the book may safely be assumed to refer to the V.S.L., e.g., the Harleian MS. No. 1942, which is another version of the Old Charges belonging to the second half of


52                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            the seventeenth century. It contains a form of the masons' oath of secrecy, in which the final words show clearly that the Holy Book was used for this purpose: `... soe helpe me god and the holy contents of this booke'.


            Possibly the first clear reference to the Bible in this connection appears in the Colne No. 1 MS., dated c. 1685:


Heare followeth the worthy and godly Oath of Masons. One of the eldest taking the Bible shall hould it forth that he or the(y) which are to bee maid Masones, may Impoase and lay thear Right hand upon it and then the Charge shall bee read.

                                                            (Hughan, Old Charges, 1895, p. 72.)


The oldest Lodge Minutes in Scotland begin in 1598; they belonged to the now‑dormant Lodge of Aitchison's Haven. Those of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel), No. 1, begin in 1599; Lodge Mother Kilwinning, No. 0, in 1642, etc. All these ancient Lodge records, and many others, have been published, but a careful check of the earlier minutes reveals no hint of a Bible as part of the Lodge equipment. The same applies to the oldest English Lodge records (Alnwick, 1701, and Swalwell, 1725).


            Yet, having regard to the deeply religious character of those days, it is probable that from the time when printed copies became readily available, the Bible was amongst the most constant items of Lodge equipment. At Lodge Mother Kilwinning, the minutes in 1646 record that Fellows were `sworne to ye standart of ye said lodge ad vitam', and the Deacon swore his oath `de fidelij administratione'.


            It is almost certain that a Bible would have been used, yet the earliest record of the purchase of a Bible was in 1766, when the Lodge ordered `two song books' as well! (Carr, Lodge Mother Kilwinning No. 0, pp. 35, 257.)


An inventory of equipment of the Lodge of Peebles in 1726 shows: `One Bible, the Constitutions of the Laws of the Haill Lodges in London', etc. (Lyon, Hist. L. of Edinburgh, p. 83.)


A schedule of property of the Old Dundee Lodge, Wapping, London, in December, 1744, records: `A Bible . . . [valued at] 15.0'. Another was presented to the Lodge in 1749. (Heiron, The Old Dundee Lodge, p. 23.)


The Minutes of the Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2, for November, 1759, report that one of the members `could not provide a proper Bible for ye Use of this Lodge . . . for less than 40/‑, and ye Lodge ordered him to provide one and not to exceed that sum'. (W. H. Rylands, Records of the Lodge of Antiquity, vol. i, p. 203.)



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               53


But, of course, these random notes only appear in those cases where the lodge Clerks or Secretaries thought fit to record them, and very little early evidence has survived.


            For the most interesting descriptions of the use of the Bible amongst Masons we have to go outside the normal lodge records, examining instead the early aides‑memoire and exposures which claim to describe the admission‑procedures of their times, and in these sources there is ample material:


Edinburgh Register House MS., 1696.


            The Forme of Giveing the Mason Word

Imprimis you are to take the person to take the word upon his knees, and after a great many ceremonies to frighten him you make him take up the bible and laying his right hand on it you are to conjure him to sec(r)ecie .. .

            (Knoop, Jones & Hamer, The Early Masonic Catechisms, p. 33.)


The Chetwode Crawley MS., c. 1700.


            Impr. you are to put the person, who is to get the word, upon his knees; And, after a great many Ceremonies, to frighten him, yow make him take up the Bible; and, laying his right hand upon it . . .                                              (Ibid., p. 35.)


A Mason's Confession, 1755‑6, describing Scots procedure in c. 1727.

[From the candidate's preparation for the Obligation.] ... and his bare elbow on the Bible with his hand lifted up ...                           (Ibid., p. 94.)


The Mystery of Freemasonry, 1730.


Q.  What was you doing while the Oath was tendering?

A.  I was kneeling bare‑knee'd betwixt the Bible and the Square, taking the solemn Oath of a Mason.

                                                                                                            (Ibid., p. 106.)


Masonry Dissected, 1730, by Samuel Prichard.


[From the preparation for the Obligation.] ... my naked Right Hand on the Holy Bible; there I took the Obligation (or Oath) of a Mason.  

(Ibid., p. 111.)


Most difficult of all the questions is that relating to the Lodges adopting a `formal setting', because, in the early days especially, so much of our knowledge is based upon inference. For example, among the earliest lodge minutes still in existence is a brief note, dated 27 November 1599, in the minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh, ordaining that all Wardens (equivalent to the Masters of Lodges) were to be chosen on St. John's Day. This implies a high degree of formality, because it not merely prescribed the chief meeting‑day for the Scottish Lodges, but also the principal item of business that was to be transacted.


            The records of admission of members of the `London Masons' Company', and others, into the Acception (which was a Mason Lodge that had evolved as a kind of off‑shoot or branch of a masonic trade


54                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


organization) may be cited here. The early notes relating to the Acception in 1621, 1631, 1650, etc., are void of any evidence of `formal setting'. Yet, when we consider the parentage of the Acception, i.e., an ancient Livery Company that had existed since 1375, it is fairly certain that some real degree of formality was already embodied in their procedure.


            The early Clerks, or Lodge Secretaries, in writing up their minutes, tended to give only the bare facts of the work done, without descriptive detail or elaboration, and that is our main difficulty. Yet, even in the bare records that survive, we can discern the beginnings of `formality'. Perhaps the best early example, for our purpose, is in the Minutes of Lodge Mother Kilwinning, which reveal the pattern of the meetings:


(1) `Court lawfully affirmed' (i.e., the Lodge constituted and opened).


            (2) Roll‑call. Absentees fined.


            (3) Admission of Entered Apprentices or Fellows of Craft.


            (4) Election of Officers (at the Annual Meetings).


            (5) Collection of fees, fines.


            (6) The Lodge in judgment (as a Court) against offenders.


            (7) Money‑lending to members (upon security).


            This pattern of procedure repeats itself fairly regularly from the 1640s onwards. The routine, furnishings and equipment may have been very rough‑and‑ready, but it was from ancient Lodges like this one that the old traditions stemmed, and when they began to acquire their special character, with richer symbolism and furnishings, these were the Lodges that laid the pattern of `work' which later spread all over the world.


            [For descriptions of Lodge furnishings and equipment, and for details of the actual procedure of the ceremonies, all of which may well be regarded as evidence of formality, useful information can be drawn from two essays in AQC Vol. 75, `Pillars & Globes, etc.' and `Initiation Two Hundred Years Ago'. The former is based largely upon Lodge records and inventories; the latter is based on the eighteenth century exposures.]



23.                                           DULY CONSTITUTED, REGULARLY



Q.  `Duly constituted, regularly assembled and properly dedicated.' What do those words mean, precisely?


A.  These words are from the first sentence of the M.M. Obligation and it is rather strange to see that the words `duly constituted' do not appear in the corresponding sentence for the E.A. and F.C.




                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               55


E.A. . . . regularly assembled and properly dedicated .. .


            F.C. . . . regularly held, assembled and properly dedicated .. .


            It is difficult to find a logical explanation for the omission of the `duly constituted' from those two degrees, because it is obvious that no lodge would have the power to confer the degrees unless it had been duly constituted. One is driven to the conclusion that in this instance - as in so many other cases - the variations were introduced simply to draw distinctions between the degrees. Now, to the questions:





The Book of Constitutions (Rule 97) requires that `Every new lodge shall be solemnly constituted, according to antient usage, by the Grand Master or by some other Grand Officer or Master or Past Master of a Lodge appointed to act for him'. The act of constitution is pronounced by the Consecrating Officer at the end of the ceremony, when he says: In the name of the United Grand Lodge of England and by command of the M.W. The Grand Master, I constitute and form you, my good Brethren, into a Lodge of Antient, Free and Accepted Masons under the name or style of the . . . Lodge, No... .





A lodge is made `regular' by the Seal of the Grand Lodge on its Warrant. The word `assembled' involves several other points, some of which are governed by the Book of Constitutions.


            A lodge is `regularly assembled' when it meets at the place and on the dates specified in its By‑laws, and with a proper quorum, of course. These are the main requirements, but, surprisingly, the quorum is not defined in the Book of Constitutions. Many of us are familiar with the passage in our (English) Lecture on the Second Tracing Board, which runs `Three rule a Lodge, five hold a Lodge, seven or more make it perfect . . .', but neither those words, nor any similar directive is to be found in the B. of C. The official ruling on this subject is in the `Points of Procedure' (i.e., rulings of the Board of General Purposes) issued in Information For The Guidance Of Members Of The Craft:





1. How many Brethren must be present before a Lodge can be opened or a degree worked?

Five (excluding the Tyler and the candidate for the degree in question): two must be members of the Lodge and one an Installed Master (see Rule 119 B. of C.)


56                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


2. How many Installed Masters must be present before a Board can be opened? Three (excluding the Master Elect and the Tyler).





In the Consecration Ceremony our Lodges (under English Constitution) are dedicated `To God and His service . . . also to the memory of the Royal Solomon ..


24.                               THE SECRETARY'S ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION


Q.  Rule 104 of the Book of Constitutions permits a Lodge, by its By‑laws, to exempt its Secretary from paying the Annual Subscription while he serves in that office, his services being deemed equivalent to the appropriate sum. Is this a very ancient practice?


A.  In its present form, the regulation quoted above is comparatively new It was introduced in 1940 as part of the rule prescribing the Officers of a Lodge. Before this date there was no mention of the subject under that heading, but in 1827 one of the regulations, under the heading `Fund of Benevolence', shows, by implication, that secretarial exemption from payment of subscription was then quite customary:


Secretaries who are by their lodges exempted from the payment of sub‑ scription shall not thereby be disqualified from obtaining assistance from the fund .. .


            and this regulation reappeared regularly in the Constitutions from 1827 to 1873. In the 1884 edition of the B. of Const., Rule 235 (under the heading of `Board of Benevolence') said nothing about non‑paying Secretaries being eligible for benefits, but categorically defined their status in regard to this exemption:


235. Secretaries who, by the by‑laws of their lodges, are exempted from the payment of subscription, shall be considered in all respects as regular subscribing members of their lodges, their services being equivalent to subscription, provided their dues to the Grand Lodge have been paid.


            The oldest Craft regulation governing the appointment of lodge secretaries is contained in the Schaw Statutes, dated 28 December 1599, addressed primarily to the Lodge of Kilwinning, although most of its provisions applied equally to all the Lodges in Scotland. The statute required the senior officers of the lodge to `elect, choose and constitute ane famous notar' (i.e., a reputable notary or lawyer) to act as `clerk and



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               57


scribe', and he was to be responsible for drawing up all indentures and other documents relating to apprenticeship, as well as all other records belonging to the Lodge, so that no document was recognized as valid unless it had been `made by the said clerk and subscribed with his hand'. The Clerk in those days had a modest income from his services; a Kilwinning regulation of December 1643, provided that every apprentice at his `booking' in the Lodge, was to pay 40 pence (Scots money) to the Clerk. A regulation at Dunblane in December 1703, also enacted that prentices' indentures were to be written by the Clerk, and that they were to `pay him therefor'.


            The Lodge of Aberdeen regulations dated 27 December 1670, did not specify any such fees, but they afford useful indication as to the status of the Clerk: A Clerk is to be chosen everie yeire because wee allow no sallarie to him, it is only a piece of preferment.


            It is evident that there was no uniformity of practice, but there can be little doubt that the fine collection of early Scottish Lodge minutes that have survived to this day would have been lost to us but for the old regulations relating to the appointment of Clerks.


            Early English Lodge minutes are very scarce, and of those that survive there are few that afford evidence on the Secretary's Dues. The oldest minutes of the Lodge at the Queen's Arms, St. Paul's Church Yard (now Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2), go back to 1736, but the first mention of the election of a Secretary is in July 1737, when John Howes was `chose'. The minutes for that day show that he paid his dues, and he paid them again a year later.


            The records of the Lodge of Probity (now No. 61), Halifax, show that the Secretary paid his dues in 1762 and 1776, and the By‑laws of the Lodge dated 1767 make no mention of exemption.


            The By‑laws of the Lodge of the Nine Muses, now No. 235, in 1807, and those of the Lodge of Antiquity in 1819, use precisely the same words on this subject:


The annual Subscription of each Member of the Lodge (Secretary excepted) shall be . . ., etc.


            This identity of expression is the more remarkable because the former was an Antients' Lodge, and its By‑laws ante‑date the Union of the rival Grand Lodges; the latter was a Moderns' Lodge, `time immemorial', and the particular regulation quoted here was dated six years after the Union.



58                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


25.                               WHAT IS THE AGE OF THE THIRD DEGREE?


Q.  What is the earliest reference to the division of Freemasonry into three degrees?


A.  The precise answer to this question depends on the significance of the word `degrees'. It may well mean the grades, i.e. the different levels of status within the framework or organization of operative masonry. In this sense, it is certain that there were three `grades', apprentice, fellow, and master, very well established in the mason trade in c. 1390, and perhaps a hundred years earlier.


            In modern Masonic usage, the word `degrees' relates to the actual ceremonies of admission into the Craft. In this sense, which is presumably the point of the question, the full set of three degrees did not make its appearance in Masonic practice until the third decade of the 18th century, full 300 years later than the earlier `grades' usage.


            Unfortunately, it is impossible to say exactly when the three‑degree system came into practice. To answer that question with reasonable clarity, we have to go back to the beginnings. If we could find actual documents by which we might prove the nature of the earliest ceremony of admission into the Craft, it seems certain that we should find there was only one degree in the 1400s and it must have been for the fellow‑craft, i.e., for the fully trained mason. There is a great deal of legal and other documentary evidence showing that, at that period, apprentices were the chattels of their masters and in those circumstances it is impossible that they can have had any status within the lodge. It was probably in the early 1500s that the two‑degree system came into practice with the evolution of a ceremony for the apprentice which made him an `entered apprentice' on his entry into the lodge. In 1599, we have lodge minutes (in Scotland) confirming this and showing the existence of a two‑degree system, the first for the entered apprentice and the second for the fellow craft.


            In 1696, we have the first of a set of three texts describing the ritual, all indicating that the second and highest degree then being worked in Scottish lodges was for the `master or fellow craft'. Within the lodge, both were of equal status, i.e., fully trained masons. Outside the lodge the master could be an employer, but the F.C. was an employee. Although this was Scottish practice, there is useful evidence that a somewhat similar situation applied in England at the time when the first Grand Lodge was founded in 1717, i.e., only two degrees; and




THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               59


Reg. xiii in the 1723 Book of Constitutions confirms that the second or senior degree of those days was `Master and Fellow‑Craft'.


            Several of the earliest ritual texts, 1696 - c.1714, confirm that the basic elements of that second degree consisted of an Oath or Obligation, an undescribed sign, and `fyve points of fellowship' accompanied by an unspecified word. Thus, it can be proved that certain elements of what subsequently became the third degree were originally embodied in the second degree of the two‑degree system. It can also be shown, from the same documents in conjunction with some later texts, that the three‑degree system was achieved by splitting the first degree into first and second, thereby promoting the original second degree into third place.

            Having outlined the manner of its development, the search for `the age' of the third degree involves certain difficulties, because, while we know the dates of the earliest surviving records of its conferment, there are at least two texts which suggest that it may have been known, or practised, before those dates.


            The first of these is the Trinity College Dublin MS., dated 1711. It consists of a brief catechism, followed by a paragraph that might be described as a catalogue of the Masons' words and signs, allocating specific words and signs to the `Masters', the `fellow craftsman', and the `Enterprentice'. The so‑called `Masters sign' is recognizable as a very debased version of the F.P.O.F., accompanied by a word - also much debased. Of course, this cannot be accepted as proof of three degrees in practice, but it certainly furnishes the supposedly esoteric material of three grades in 1711, full fourteen or fifteen years before the earliest actual records of the conferment of the third degree.


            Another hint of a three‑degree system appears in `A Mason's Examination', the first printed exposure, which was published in a London newspaper in 1723. It contains a much enlarged catechism and a piece of doggerel rhyme which certainly seems to imply a threefold division of the Masons' secrets, though the details are not particularly impressive:


An enter'd Mason I have been,

Boaz and Jachin I have seen;

A Fellow I was sworn most rare,

And know the Astler, Diamond, and Square;

I know the Master's Part full well,

As honest Maughbin will you tell.

                                                                                                            (E.M.C., pp. 72‑3.)


This text, like that of 1711, cannot be accepted as proof of three degrees in practice, but when we attempt to date the advent of the third degree, both texts have to be taken into account.




60                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            The earliest record of a third degree actually being conferred comes, rather surprisingly, not from a lodge, but from the minutes of a London society of gentlemen who were lovers of music and architecture, the Philo‑Musicae et Architecturae Societas Apollini. Their story is an entertaining piece of English Masonic history.


            The Musical Society was founded in February 1725 by eight Free‑masons whose quality may be judged from the fact that each of them had his coat of arms emblazoned on one of the opening pages of the minute book. Seven of them were members of a lodge that met at the Queen's Head Tavern, `near Temple Barr', only a few hundred yards from the present Freemasons' Hall. These men loved their Masonry and, in the course of an elaborate code of regulations, one of their rules was `That no Person be admitted as a Visitor unless he be a Free Mason'. Their regulations did not prescribe Freemasonry as a qualification for membership, but it was their custom, if an elected Candidate was not already a Brother, to initiate him as a Mason before receiving him into their Society.


            A complete analysis of the Musical Society's minutes would be unnecessary in this brief essay and it will suffice for our purpose if we follow the career of only one of the founders, Charles Cotton Esq. The preliminary pages of the minute book furnish the Masonic details for several of the founders and we read that on 22 December 1724 `Charles Cotton Esqr was made a Mason by the said Grand Master', His Grace the Duke of Richmond, who had `constituted', i.e., opened the Lodge on that day, presumably acting as W.M. About two months later, on 18 February 1725, the same record continues: And before We Founded This Society A Lodge was held Consisting of Masters Sufficient for that purpose In Order to pass Charles Cotton Esqr [and two others] Fellow Crafts In the Performance of which Mr. William Gulston acted As Senior Warden Immediately after which Vizt the 18th Day of February A.D. 1724 [old style, i.e., 1725] He the said Mr Willm Gulston was Chosen President of the Said Society .. .


            It must be emphasized that these records of the Lodge meetings on 22 December 1724 and 18 February 1725 belong to the period `before We Founded This Society', i.e., they are notes about two perfectly regular Lodge meetings at which Charles Cotton was `made a Mason' and `passed' F.C. The next record that concerns us is an actual minute of the Musical Society: The 12th day of May 1725 - Our Beloved Brothers & Directors of this Right Worshipfull Societye whose Names are here Underwritten (Viz.)


Brother Charles Cotton Esqe.

Brothr Papillon Ball

Were regularly passed Masters



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               61


There, in a nutshell, is the earliest record of the conferment of the third degree, but it had taken place in a Musical Society, not in a lodge, and Masonically it was obviously irregular! The proceedings attracted the attention of Grand Lodge and on 16 December 1725 the Society's minutes record the receipt of a letter from Bro. George Payne, Junior Grand Warden, enclosing a letter from the Duke of Richmond, Grand Master


... in which he Erroneously insists on and Assumes to himself a Pretended Authority to call Our Rt Worpfull and Highly Esteem'd Society to an account for making Masons irregularly .. .


            The Duke's letter was deemed impolite, because it had not been addressed directly to the Society and it was ordered `That the Said Letters do lye on the Table', i.e., they were ignored. The last minute of the Society is dated 23 March 1727 and apparently it disappeared soon afterwards.


            Gould, in a fine study of the records of this society (AQC, Vol. 16), while conceding that at face‑value they certainly indicate the practice of the third degree, showed that they were open to wide interpretation, and he came to the conclusion that they do not necessarily prove that the third degree was being conferred. For a variety of reasons, unsuitable for inclusion in this short note, I cannot agree with this conclusion, and I believe that, in regard to this point at least, the records may be construed quite safely at their face‑value. This is supported by the fact that incontestable records of the third degree in practice make their appearance within the next few years, starting in 1726.


            The earliest Lodge record of a third degree belongs to Scotland. Lodge Dumbarton Kilwinning (No. 18, S.C.) was founded in 1726 and the minutes for 29 January 1726 state that there were present the Grand Master (i.e., the W.M.), with seven M.M.s, six F.C.s and three E.A.s. At the next meeting, on 25 March 1726,


 ... Gabrael Porterfield who appeared in the January meeting as a Fellow Craft, was unanimously admitted and received a Master of the Fraternity and renewed his oath and gave in his entry money .. .


            On 27 December 1728, Lodge Greenock Kilwinning (now No. 12, S.C.) prescribed separate fees for entering, passing, and raising.


            In England it is noticeable that Masons were quite satisfied to be merely `made masons', taking only the first grade, or the first and second together. This custom, combined with the scarcity of Lodge minutes, makes it difficult to trace early records of the third degree being conferred in an English Lodge. As an example, in the Lodge of Antiquity


62                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


(founded before 1717) the earliest mention of the third degree is in April 1737, in a minute which states that `Richard Reddall paid 5/‑ ... for passing Master . . .'. In the same Lodge, in October 1739, it was .. Voted that the following Brethren be Raised Masters, vizt . . .' [six names], and at the Old Dundee Lodge, London, which was in existence in 1722, the earliest record of the third degree is in 1748.


            To sum up; it would be safe to say that the age of the third degree goes back, in Scotland, to a time in the middle or late 1600s, when some of its essential elements formed a part of the senior degree in the two‑degree system, the degree for `Master and Fellow Craft'. The same would apply to England in c. 1700, as confirmed by the Sloane MS. There is a possibility that the three degree system was already known (in Ireland?) in 1711 and in England in 1723. It was certainly worked in London in May 1725 by the members of the Musical Society, who had doubtless acquired it from their `mother' Lodge at the Queen's Head, in 1724. The three degree system was certainly in practice in Scotland from 1726 onwards and by the end of 1730, after the publication of Prichard's Masonry Dissected, it must have been widely known in England, though its adoption was rather slow.


            So much for the documentary evidence and dates of the various stages in the evolution of the three‑degree system. But it is important to emphasize that the Hiramic Legend did not come into the ritual all ready‑made as we know it today. The modern Legend contains elements of at least two (and perhaps three) separate streams of legend, as is shown in the earliest record of a `raising' in the Graham MS., 1726.1





Q.  What are Dues Cards and why are they forbidden to be used in Lodges under the Grand Lodge of England?


A.  A Dues Card is a Lodge Certificate of membership, issued annually and much used in the United States and other Masonic jurisdictions overseas. It certifies that the holder is a member of his particular Lodge and has paid his Dues for the year ending . . . The cards are usually about the size of a railway season‑ticket (approx. 3 x 22 inches), often


1 See Q. 4, p. 8, above; also Carr, `The Relationship Between the Craft and the Royal Arch', AQC 86.



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               63


printed on special cheque‑paper that is not easily copied. The card must always bear the owner's signature and in many jurisdictions it will also bear his photograph. They are indeed a handy means of identification, but open to abuses. In England, except for the various Certificates under Rule 175, outlined below, no Private Lodge is allowed to grant a Certificate of any kind to a Brother; that is why Dues Cards are banned.




For the benefit of readers overseas, I must explain that the nearest equivalent, in England, to the Dues Card, is the Grand Lodge Certificate, an official document which certifies that the Brother named therein was regularly Initiated in the . . . Lodge No. . . . on . . . [date], duly Passed and Raised, and Registered in the books of the Grand Lodge. The modern design, first issued in 1819, is headed by the Arms of the M.W. Grand Master and the text is set out in the spaces between Three Pillars standing on a chequered floor, on which Masonic Tools and Emblems are displayed. The Certificate, when completed, will bear the owner's specimen signature, and this, together with a receipt for the annual Dues, would be accepted to establish `regularity' and `good standing'.


            Some of our modern rituals, e.g., Universal, Benefactum, New London, etc., include a formal `Address on the Presentation of the G.L. Certificate'. There are many versions and as they are easily obtainable it is not necessary to print it here.




The issue of Lodge `Clearance' Certificates is governed by Rule 175, B. of C. They are of two kinds:


(a) A Certificate issued to a member of a Lodge, stating that he is a member and (if such be the case) that he is not indebted to the Lodge.


(b) A Certificate issued to a former member of a Lodge, giving the date and circumstances of his resignation or exclusion. It must also state whether he was at that time indebted to the Lodge, and if so, whether and at what time such indebtedness was discharged by him.


            The opening lines of the regulation make it perfectly clear that the Lodge shall grant such a Certificate to a Brother whenever required by him in each of the above cases, and that is the answer to the question.


            It is easy to imagine circumstances which might compel a Brother to ask for more than one certificate under these headings, e.g. he might be joining several lodges, and a Certificate issued on a given date might


64                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


be out of date and therefore useless shortly after issue. So the Rule is quite clear; Certificates must be granted when required.


            There is, however, the possibility that a Certificate might be put to some improper use. If there is any such fear, the Lodge Secretary, whose duty it is to issue the Certificate, should delay long enough to obtain guidance from the Grand Secretary (or the Prov. or Dist. Grand Secretary).



27.                                           ARCHITECTURE IN MASONRY


Q.  Could you let me have some information of general interest on the subject of `Architecture of Masonry'?


A.  If we take the accepted definition of architecture as the study of the science, or art, of building, then the Architecture of Masonry would comprehend every development of the building craft since mankind ceased to live in caves. In the period of `operative masonry', say, up to the late 1600s, the masons earned their livelihood in that craft, and their interest in architecture is no more surprising than the tailors' interest in clothes.


            After a period of transition, which started apparently in the early 1600s, the character of the craft began to change very rapidly, and in the early years of the 1700s (say, from c. 1700 to c. 1740) the changes had so far accelerated that the lodges had lost all interest in the trade and trade‑control, and had become social and benevolent societies, still practising the old ceremonies, but with a substantial membership of gentlemen and tradesmen who did not belong to the Craft and had no interest in it. These were the non‑operative lodges which later acquired the speculative teachings and principles which are the basis of modern Freemasonry.


            This period, c. 1700 to c. 1740, coincides very closely with the beginnings of what soon became generally known as the `Grand Tour'. In those days it was part of the basic education for young men of culture to travel the principal cities of Europe, thereby promoting their appreciation of the arts in general and architecture in particular. There is useful evidence, in this same period, that Freemasons were also taking a lively interest in architecture. The following are a few items that spring readily to mind:


1. The first Book of Constitutions, by Dr. James Anderson, published in 1723, contained a so‑called historical introduction of some forty‑eight pages, designed to show how the great men of all time were interested in architecture.






THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               65


A large part of this introduction would have been wasted if Anderson had not been sure of his readers' interest in the subject, and, incidentally, he showed his own preferences for the `Augustan Stile', for Palladio and Inigo Jones.


2. In 1725, a Masonic musical and architectural society was founded in London and its minutes have already been discussed briefly (on pp. 60 - 1, above). The opening pages of the minute book contain a dissertation on the Seven Liberal Arts, and especially Geometry, Music and Architecture. The following is a short extract, which is apt to our present enquiry:


Musick and Architecture, the Happy produce of Geometry, have such Affinity, they Justly may be Stil'd TWIN SISTERS, and Inseperable; Constituting a perfect Harmony by Just Rules, Due Proportion, & Exact Symmetry, without which neither can arrive to any Degree of Perfection.


            A Structure form'd according to the Nice Rules of Architecture, having all its parts dispos'd in a perfect & pleasing Harmony, Surprizes the Eye at every different View, Elates our Fancy's to Sublime Thoughts, & Imprints on our Imaginations Vast Ideas.


3. On 4 October 1723, the famous antiquary, Dr. William Stukeley, read a `Discourse on the Roman Amphitheater at Dorchester' to the Lodge at the Fountain Tavern, in the Strand, London. This is the earliest record of its kind that has survived, but there must have been many more.


4. Calvert, in his History of the Old King's Arms Lodge, (pp. 13 and 75) re‑corded that on 1 August 1737 the Lodge passed a Resolution amending By‑law viii so as to give Masters the right to order that `a portion of Andrea Palladio's Architecture' be read at each meeting, instead of the By‑laws or Constitutions. Palladio's `First Book' had been recently presented to the Lodge, but the Lodge purchased the three remaining Books in 1739.


            The King's Arms Lectures ranged very widely, over such subjects as Optics, Fermentation, Muscles, Magnetism, Watch‑making, Welding, Truth, Friend‑ship, etc., etc. Bro. W. K. Firminger's survey of their Lectures from 1732 to 1743 (AQC, Vol. 45, pp. 254 - 9) shows five evenings devoted to Architecture:


The Requirements of an Architect (1732)

Military Architecture (1733)

Civil Architecture (1733)

Rise and Progress of Architecture in Britain (1735)

Architecture and Masonry (1741)


Presumably these were all in addition to the readings from Palladio.


5. Bro. T. O. Haunch (in AQC, Vol. 77, p. 135) speaks of Batty Langley, a celebrated 18th century author of numerous works on Architecture, and he notes among the subscribers to The Builder's Compleat Chest‑Book, 1737, the `Sun Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, in St. Paul's Church‑Yard', and the `Talbot Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, at Stourbridge'.


6. Bro. C. D. Rotch, in his History of the Lodge of Friendship, No. 6, furnished a list of the twenty‑eight Lectures given in the Lodge at the Shakespear's Head from 1738 to 1743. No fewer than eleven of these were on branches of building and architecture, including eight readings from Palladio, on Chimneys, on Roads and Streets, on Staircases, on Temples, on Decorum of Buildings, and on the Management of Foundations, etc.



66                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            Here we have ample evidence of a genuine interest in architecture, and it is noticeable, too, that within a few years after the formation of the first Grand Lodge, our ancient brethren were already putting into practice the idea of `a daily advancement'. In the circumstances, it is not surprising that the `Five Noble Orders of Architecture' have found a permanent place in the `Explanation of the [Second Degree] Tracing Board', and in the Lectures.


28.                                           QUESTIONS AFTER RAISING


Q.  The `Questions after Raising' are printed in some Rituals (though not in Emulation). When should these questions be put?


A.  For reasons which will soon be apparent, it is difficult to say when the `Questions after Raising' should be put. They are a collection of some seventeen Questions and Answers, drawn mainly from sections of the `Third Lecture of Freemasonry', and there are several versions, all very much alike, but not identical. Because of their general origin in the Third Lecture, they may be said to date back to the late 18th or early 19th century; but, as a block of selected questions to be used specifically as Questions after Raising, I believe that their earliest provable use was soon after the Union of the Grand Lodges.


            The Lodge of Reconciliation was warranted in 1813, mainly to establish and demonstrate the ritual of the Craft Degrees, which they did, and their work on the degrees was finally demonstrated in Grand Lodge on 16 May 1816, and approved, after minor alterations in the third degree, on 5 June 1816.


            The minutes of 4 August 1814 contain the first note relating to a Candidate who `was after proper examination passed in due form to the second degree'. Several of the following minutes record that Brethren were passed or raised after `due examination', or words to that effect.


            On 6 September 1814, the W.M., Dr. Hemming, wrote to the Grand Master reporting the work that had been done on the Openings and Closings in all three degrees, `and the ceremonies of making passing and raising, together with a brief test or examination in each degree ...'. This may have included an examination after raising, but we cannot be certain of that at this stage.


            During 1814 several second and third degrees were conferred without any mention of examinations, but at the meeting on 22 September 1814 the minutes record them again. There is no hint of an intermediate




THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               67


ceremony. The examinations were apparently part of the degree which was being conferred.


            The earliest minute relating to the examination of a Candidate after raising occurs on 8 December 1814:


Bror. John Milward was passed in due form to the third degree or that of a M.M.


The necessary examination was then gone thro' as to the qualification of being admitted to office.


            There are two similar minutes in the later records of procedure following the raising ceremonies:


[On 10 December 1814.] The Examination necessary previous to receiving Office was then gone through.


            [On 12 December 1814.] The further examination for Office was then made.


After this there were a number of meetings at which the third degree was performed without any examination after raising, and it is not clear whether the practice had been abandoned or if the Secretary had merely failed to record it. (AQC 23, pp. 267‑269. Author's italics.)


Thus, the examinations after raising were designed to determine the Master Mason's qualifications for office, but the particular office is not stated, and we cannot be sure whether this examination of the M.M. as a preliminary for office was invented by the Lodge of Reconciliation, or was based on an earlier tradition.


            If we go back in search of possible sources for this examination, there are several documents that appear to be helpful. In the earliest description of the Installation ceremony (in Anderson's Constitutions of 1723), at a time when the three‑degree system was not yet established, the first item of procedure runs:


... the Grand Master shall ask his Deputy if he has examin'd them [i.e., the Master‑designate and the Wardens] and finds the Candidate Master well skill'd in the noble Science .. .


            More than fifty years later, long after the trigradal system was firmly established, Preston, in his Illustrations of Masonry, 1775, and in his later editions, opened the Installation ceremony with almost identical words, except that the Wardens were not mentioned in this context. There is no evidence of a standard set of questions for this 'examination' until 1814 and I have not been able to find any Lodge minutes before or after 1814 that confirm this kind of examination of prospective Masters and Wardens. It seems likely, therefore, that the practice had not been adopted widely, and that the Lodge of Reconciliation was


68                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


trying to bring it back. Certainly, the wording of the 1814 minutes seems to imply the existence of a well‑known set of questions, and we may fairly deduce that they were the earliest form of the `Questions after Raising'.


            Although the `Questions after Raising' had made their first appearance in 1814 in an official body, the Lodge of Reconciliation, when we study the documents relating to the Installation ceremony and its stabilization in 1827, there is no evidence (in Grand Lodge or Private Lodge records) of the `Questions' having been retained for that purpose. It is a pity that we have no similar form of examination for prospective Officers nowadays.




The first appearance, in print, of a set of Questions after Raising, seems to have been in the Perfect Ceremonies, 1874, where they had an entirely different purpose. They are headed:


Test Questions of the M.M. Degree


with a sub‑heading:


Put to a M.M. who goes as a Visitor.


            A catechism of this kind would make an excellent test for visitors, though rather severe for a stranger unaware of what was in store for him. That may have been the reason for the removal of the sub‑heading in the later editions, which continued to appear regularly, without any explanation of their purpose. This was one of the most popular rituals from 1870 to 1970 and it claimed, without authority, to represent Emulation practice. The same set of Q. & A. appeared under the same heading in various editions of The Lectures of the Three Degrees, also claiming to be `in strict accordance with Emulation Working', but still without any hint of when the test was to be applied.


            The Test Questions do not appear in the four best known workings in the London area, Taylor's, Universal, West End, and the 1969 authorized edition of Emulation. This may suggest that they are virtually unused, or unknown, in the rest of England, but that is not so. The following note from Bro. Colin F. W. Dyer, Secretary of the Emulation Lodge of Improvement, is an interesting comment on the situation:


During negotiations in about 1970 concerning the withdrawal from publication in England of The Perfect Ceremonies, on the issue of the present Emulation Ritual book, a number of objections were received to the fact that the new Emulation book did not include these Test Questions, as



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               69


they were used. The objections came mostly from the N.W. of England and from one or two places overseas.


            Clearly, the Test Questions are still in use in some places and we return to the main questions, when and why?




Apart from the abandoned test for visiting Master Masons, the earliest ritual I have found that explains the purpose of the Test Questions and the manner in which they are used, is the Sheffield Ritual, as practised by the Britannia Lodge, No. 139, which was constituted in 1761. (The date of the ritual would be rather later than that.) At the end of the explanation of the Working Tools of the Third Degree, which is the end of the ceremony in most Craft workings, the W.M. in the Sheffield working continues without a break:


Bro.  - , a month must elapse before you can be exalted to the degree of Royal Arch Mason, a Chapter of which is attached to this Lodge. In the meantime it will be necessary for you to make yourself acquainted with the answers to certain questions, which for your instruction I will put to my S.D., who will give the proper answers.


            There follows a set of eleven Q. & A., which are, in effect, a condensed version of the sets of Test Questions, but with an explanation of the F.P.O.F.


            Another Provincial ritual, printed for the Lodge of Friendship, No. 202, Plymouth (warranted in 1771) has a lengthy `Charge in the Third Degree', followed immediately by the introductory passage almost word‑for‑word as at Sheffield, above, with a set of ten

Q. & A., in which the F.P.O.F. are moralized at somewhat greater length than in the Sheffield version.


            It is hardly necessary to emphasize that both texts link these questions directly with the qualification for the Royal Arch Degree, and they are `demonstrated' by the W.M. and S.D., in both cases as part of the Raising ceremony, the Candidate playing no part in them, except as a listener: moreover, there is no such heading as `Test Questions after Raising', because they are actually at the end of the Raising.


            I am reliably informed that there are several Royal Arch Chapters which require the Test Questions after Raising to be answered before Exaltation, and it seems possible that the use of the Q. & A. in this manner may be a relic from the time when the R.A. was regarded as a fourth Degree. The Sheffield and Plymouth rituals described here certainly lend support to this view.




70                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK




There are two comparatively modern rituals that use the `Test Questions of the M.M. Degree' for an entirely different purpose, in no way connected with the Royal Arch. The Logic Ritual, in its edition of 1899, and again in its revised Coronation edition, 1937, included the Test Questions, without any explanation of their purpose, but the Logic Ritual, Revised Edition, 1972, added a sub‑title to that heading:


Prior to Presentation of Certificate.


(For the benefit of our readers overseas, this refers to the Grand Lodge Certificate, which is presented to every Master Mason shortly after he has been raised. It is an ornamental parchment, headed by the Arms of the Grand Master, and it certifies that the holder has been regularly Initiated, Passed and Raised in the . . . Lodge, No      all duly recorded in the Grand Lodge Register. It requires the holder's signature, for purposes of identification, and for that reason the signature must never vary. The presentation of the Certificate is prefaced by a brief address explaining its origin, purpose and symbolism, the ceremony usually being performed by a senior P.M. of the Lodge, or a visiting Grand Officer.)


Another working, The Benefactum Ritual, which was specially compiled for the Benefactum Lodge, No. 5231, London, in the 1930s, by the late Bro. R. H. B. Cawdron, also prints the `Test Questions of a Master Freemason' as a preliminary to its `Address on the Presentation of a Master Freemason's Grand Lodge Certificate'. The Test Questions are answered by the Candidate while the Lodge is Open in the Third Degree and the Certificate is presented later, in the First Degree, during the `First Rising', after the Report on the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge has been read.


            This practice, providing as it does, a useful additional lesson for the Candidate on the essentials of the Third Degree, is obviously praise‑worthy, but it is all‑too‑rarely witnessed in the English Lodges. Generally, we are content to pass our Candidates to the Second Degree after answering only eleven questions; to the Third, after only nine questions, and although the test for Master Masons may be in use for various purposes in some parts of England, the Grand Lodge does not prescribe it and its existence is virtually unknown.


            To sum up, there appear to be four distinct uses for the `Questions after Raising':



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               71 


1. As a preliminary for Office in the Lodge. (No longer practised.)

2. As a test for Visitors.

3. As a preliminary to the Royal Arch.

4. As a preliminary to the presentation of the Grand Lodge Certificate.





            It is interesting to compare our procedure with that which is followed in most of the U.S.A. jurisdictions, where the Candidate must pass his `Proficiency Test' in the M.M. Degree before he actually becomes a member of the Lodge.


            There, the examinations between degrees constitute a complete resume of the preceding ceremony, in Question and Answer, and they require a memorized repetition of the Obligation, too. This would be a sufficiently difficult test even if the texts were supplied to the Candidates in clear language. But the whole procedure is made infinitely more difficult in the numerous cases where these inordinately long Question Cards are printed in the ciphers which are customary in the U.S.A.


            The following extracts from a recent letter from the Grand Secretary for Rhode Island, R.W.Bro.


A. R. Cole, will serve to explain the procedure:


In Rhode Island the Senior or Junior Deacon acts as Teacher or Instructor for the whole of the year that he holds the office. Candidates are examined in open Lodge on their proficiency after each degree.


            The Instructors hold enough rehearsals until they are satisfied. This generally occurs between the Stated Communication dates [i.e., Regular Meetings]. The questions propounded, and the answers, are both given from memory.


            Generally speaking, there are more than one candidate to be examined, and they take turns answering the questions - but all give the obligation together. The candidates being found satisfactorily proficient, after being examined in the Master Mason Degree in open Lodge, then are eligible to sign the register and become members of the Lodge, in this Jurisdiction. [My italics. H.C.]


The General Laws of the Grand Lodge of Iowa also reflect the importance attached to the proficiency test following the Third Degree:


Section 168. (Amended in 1932.)

... A Master Mason must become proficient in the Third Degree before he can vote, hold office or demit from his lodge, or before he can be permitted to petition for degrees for membership in such Masonic bodies as are recognized . . . by this Grand Lodge.


            A brother who has not passed his examination in the third degree is not eligible to sit on a committee whether it be of investigation or otherwise.


            Until a Master Mason has been examined, and his proficiency entered of record, he has no right to object to a person being made a mason.



72                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            A final example from the Book of Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts:


... no candidate shall be in good standing in the Lodge to which he is elected until he has signed the By‑Laws, and he shall not be permitted to sign the By‑Laws until he shall have attained suitable proficiency, and shall have received the required instruction, in all three degrees.


            This jurisdiction has seventy Q. and A. for the E.A., thirty‑nine for the F.C., forty‑nine for the M.M. Rhode Island has nearly as many!


Undoubtedly the system has great advantages, for it ensures that the brethren acquire a useful knowledge of the nature and contents of the ceremonies, and a better understanding of their symbolism and principles, before they may enjoy all the privileges of membership.



29.                                           PUBLIC GRAND HONOURS


Q.  One frequently reads in old minutes that `the Grand Honours were given', when ladies and non‑Masons are known to have been present. Is anything known of the nature of these Grand Honours?


A.  The following is extracted from the Constitutions & Ceremonies of the Grand Lodge of California, 10th Edn. (1923), a copy of which was recently presented to the Q.C. Library by Bro. O. E. Wightman, of Vallejo, California, U.S.A.


            The public Grand Honors of Masonry are given thus: Cross the arms upon the breast, the left arm outermost, the hands being open and palms inward; then raise them above the head, the palms of the hands striking each other; and then let them fall sharply upon the thighs, the head being bowed. This will be thrice done at funerals and the action will be accompanied with the following ejaculation: `The will of God is accomplished - So mote it be - Amen'. The private Grand Honors are the signs of the several degrees given in a manner and upon occasions known only to Master Masons.


            Mackey, in his Encyclopedia, edition of 1921, describes the public Grand Honours exactly as given above, but the procedure has been changed since that time, and Bro. Wightman writes:


I, personally, have never seen the public Gr. Honors as described above. They are given nowadays as follows: Extend the left hand in front of the body at about chest height, palm up, and on the call `The brothers will join with me in giving the public grand honors of Masonry by three times three', strike (in unison with the leader) the left hand with the right, at the third stroke reverse the position of the hands so that the right is now the lower one, strike the right with the left three times, reverse again so that the hands



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               73 


are in the original position, strike the left with the right three times, making nine times in all. The honors are always given standing.


            I haven't been too successful in tracing when they were changed, but the consensus of several Past Masters is that the change came about in 1936. I do know that they were given as they are now in the jurisdiction of the State of Illinois, because I saw them given at the laying of a school corner‑stone long before I ever thought of becoming a Master Mason .. .


            The `Public Grand Honors' are just that - given in public where honors are to be bestowed, at public installations, cornerstone layings, and all occasions where anybody can be present.


            We add a note, below, from Bro. T. O. Haunch. His final paragraph indicates that the American practices described above were certainly known in England during the nineteenth century.


            `Grand Honours'. This expression occurs also in the ceremony to be observed at a Masonic Funeral given in Preston's Illustrations of Masonry.


            Preston seems to draw a distinction between `Grand Honours' to be given in that part of the ceremony taking place in the lodge opened in the Third Degree at the deceased's house, and the `usual honours' given in public at the graveside.


            With regard to other public use of `Grand Honours' as referred to in the original Query, could not this have been the equivalent of `firing'? In lengthy nineteenth century newspaper accounts of masonic banquets at which non‑masons and ladies were often present (the latter as spectators!), one finds references to `masonic honours', `masonic firing', etc., after toasts. It is possible also that `firing' was to be observed by non‑masons at functions other than banquets.


            It is only necessary to add that although `Public Grand Honours' may have been common in England in Preston's day, no such practices would be permitted in public nowadays.



30.                                                       BREAST, HAND, BADGE


Q.  What is the origin and symbolism of the F.C.'s `Breast, Hand, Badge', and why was it discarded in favour of the present sign, except during the Installation Ceremony?


A.  The B.H.B. procedure in the Installation is a salutation; it is not a sign and there is no evidence that it was ever used as a substitute for the F.C. sign. That sign was described in two of our oldest ritual documents, dated c. 1700 and 1711. In those days it only partially resembled our modern F.C. sign, which is a much expanded version.


            The salutation to which you refer made its first appearance in print in the 1760s, when it was described as The Fellow‑Craft's `Clap'. It


74                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            was probably used as part of the `Toasting' routine, though it may also have been used as a `salutation' at the `Instalment of a Master'. It seems that the procedure was never standardized and there are several different versions in use in England to this day. It may therefore be interesting to compare the usage of the 1760s with the practice in your own Lodge. I quote from Three Distinct Knocks, 1760; J. & B., 1762, is almost identical:


... holding your Left‑hand up, keeping it square; then clap with your Right‑hand and Left together, and from thence strike your Left‑Breast with your Right‑hand; then strike your Apron, and your Right‑foot going at the same Time. This is done altogether as one Clap .. .


            Why in the Installation and not elsewhere? I suggest that it is because the F.C. was, from time immemorial, the essential degree during Installation. Masters were chosen `from the Fellow Craft' in the days when only two degrees were known, and long before the Installation Ceremony had come into general practice, and to this day the M.Elect takes his M.Elect's Obligation in the F.C. Degree.


            As to symbolism, I suggest that the Craftsmen are pledging their Hearts (i.e., their thoughts) and their Hands (i.e., their actions) for the welfare of the Craft (i.e., the Badge = Apron). This is my own view; I have never seen an expert interpretation.





Q.  What is the correct sequence of the 'B - H - B' as given for the salutation of the newly installed W.M.? In my Lodge, where we work Emulation with some alterations, the practice has arisen of describing the salute as H . . . t, A . . . n, and Glove. This is different to the normal sequence and it seems as though the original working has been changed at some time. Will you please comment.


A.  In response to enquiries made on this matter, I find that the sequence `Heart, Apron and Glove' (virtually unknown in London) is the general practice throughout the West Riding of Yorkshire. This serves to strengthen my long‑held theory that the further one goes away from London the more likelihood there is of finding old practices that have somehow survived and continue to make our procedures far more interesting than they would be under strict standardization.


            The vast majority of the Lodges I have visited use the 'B - H - B' sequence, finishing up with the hand on the Apron. In one provincial Lodge I distinctly remember seeing an unusual sequence which ran H - B -  and B - , i.e., starting at the top and working downwards, still




THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               75


finishing with the hand on the Apron; this is the practice in the Province of Bristol.


            We have already found three different sequences in the course of this and the preceding note and a moment's thought will show that there are six possible variations. Over the length and breadth of England there is little doubt that one might find every possible version in use, but no‑body can say that any particular procedure is `correct' and that others are wrong.


            The sequence which you have described finishes in mid‑air and I suggest that this seems to be rather an unattractive and uncomfortable procedure. For that reason alone I dislike it. Incidentally your Lodge is supposed to be working `Emulation, with some alterations', but you do not follow their ruling in this case, which is `b., h. bdge'. One likes to see old `local' practices preserved and this human failing of introducing `alterations' is perhaps a very natural one; it certainly happens in many other workings too. But it can become dangerous, because it feeds on itself and, once started, there seems to be no limit.


            Finally, on the question of `correct sequence', in 1827, the M.W. Grand Master, H.R.H. The Duke of Sussex, set up a special `Lodge or Board of Installed Masters', to revise and standardize the Installation ceremony, which had not been stabilized at the time of the Union of the Grand Lodges in 1813. There is a single‑page minute in the Grand Lodge Library, dated 24 February 1827, which gives a much‑abbreviated summary of their work. The portion relevant to our present question reads:


Sal: 5 Br: ha: Ba;


This should be the final word on the subject, but there are so many variations still in use today as to raise a doubt whether this ruling was ever promulgated outside London.



31.                                                                   GAUNTLETS


Q.  When did gauntlets come into use in the Craft, and have they any symbolical significance? (I do not refer to the gloves worn by operative masons in the course of their work.)


A.  The word `gauntlet' has undergone several stages of meaning. The O.E.D., for its earliest definition, c. 1420, says:


76                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            A glove worn as part of mediaeval armour, usually made of leather, covered with plates of steel.


            Later: In recent use, a stout glove covering part of the arm as well as the hand, used in driving or riding, fencing .. .


            In modern usage, it becomes `The part of a glove, intended to cover the wrist', but it is still a part of the glove, not a separate piece of apparel.


            In our modern Masonic usage we may safely regard gauntlets as a legacy from early operative times, because the operative masons all wore sturdy gauntlets as a necessary part of their protective clothing.


            The frontispiece to Anderson's Constitutions, 1723, shows a Tyler (?) carrying aprons and a pair of gauntlet gloves, and a hundred years later gauntlets were still a part of the gloves. There is a portrait of William Williams, Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, 1812‑1839, which shows him wearing a gauntlet attached to the glove, the glove being white, and the gauntlet of much the same colour as in use today.


            Rural Philanthropic Lodge, No. 291, owns a set of gauntlets, all of white linen (now much discoloured), bearing emblems of the various offices, and made to tie round the wrist with tapes.


            In an old Lodge at Blandford, the members all wore white leather gloves with gauntlet extensions, like modern motoring gloves. The gauntlets, originally, had no special significance, i.e., in the eighteenth century days, when almost all gloves for dress occasions were made with gauntlets, any member of a Lodge would have worn such gloves as a matter of course.


            The Lodge of Unanimity and Sincerity, No. 261, on 24 September 1817, required the Treasurer `to provide Gloves and Gauntlets for each member of the Lodge conformable to the pattern pair approved of by the Provincial Grand Master . . .' Note: They were to be provided for each member; this was a voluntary adoption of a fashion proposed by the Prov. G.M., and it had no Grand Lodge authorization.


            Gauntlets did not become prescribed Regalia until 1884, when the Book of Constitutions added a new paragraph to the list of Regalia, under the heading `Gauntlets'. It prescribed garter‑blue for Grand, Past Grand, Provincial and District Grand Officers, as obligatory, but for Private Lodges, `... gauntlets of light blue silk with silver embroidery may be worn by the Officers . . .'. In June 1971, the Grand Lodge resolved that gauntlets are no longer obligatory for Grand Officers wearing full dress regalia; they are also optional for Officers of Private Lodges.



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               77


Finally, gloves as such have a range of symbolical meanings, but the loose gauntlets are regalia, and they have no special symbolical significance.


32.                                                                   LEWIS


Q.  What is the definition and origin of the Masonic term `Lewis', and what are his privileges, if any?


A.  Lewis: `An iron contrivance for raising heavy blocks of stone' (O.E.D.). Three metal parts (i.e., two wedge‑shaped side pieces and a straight central piece), which are set into a prepared hole in a stone. When bolted into position the metal parts form a dovetail grip inside the stone, and a metal eye or shackle, attached at the exposed end, enables the block to be easily hoisted.


            The origin of the term `lewis' is obscure. It appears in mediaeval architectural usage as lowes and lowys, but several notable authorities have examined the possibility that our form is derived from the French word louve [= she‑wolf] and louveteau [= wolf‑cub], both of which can be traced in French usage in 1611 and 1676, where they have the same architectural meaning as the English word `lewis'.


            It is perhaps more than a mere coincidence that the word louveteau appears in French Masonic usage, in the 1740s, to describe the son of a Mason, at about the same time as the English word `Lewis' acquires a similar significance.


            The above is a very brief summary of the points in question. For a more detailed study, see The Wilkinson MS. (pp. 40‑45), by Knoop, Jones and Hamer, and The Freemasons' Guide and Compendium (pp. 414‑419), by Bernard E. Jones.


            In Speculative Masonic usage, `A Lewis is the uninitiated son of a Mason' (Bd. of Gen. Purposes; Points of Procedure), and the word has had this meaning in the Craft since 1738, if not earlier.


            There is a fuller definition in an official directive, issued by the Grand Lodge (Enquiry Office) and it is also very explicit on the privileges of a Lewis:


A Lewis is the uninitiated son of a Mason, irrespective of the date of his birth, i.e., it matters not whether he was born before or after his father became a Mason.


            A Lewis has no special privileges other than should there be more than one candidate on the day of his initiation he can claim to be the senior for the purpose of the ceremony. He cannot claim precedence over candidates


78                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


proposed previously to himself and must take his place in the usual rotation on any waiting list of applicants that there may be.




(A note from Bro. Walter F. Knight, New York, U.S.A.)

The notes on the word Lewis in the Mar. 1963 Summons were of particular interest as I am a member of La Sincerite Lodge No. 373 (N.Y., U.S.A.), a French Lodge formed in 1805. We recognize the son of a Brother officially (when requested by the Brother) by receiving the son in Lodge during a very impressive ceremony we like to call a Baptism. The reception may be during a regular meeting but generally it is done in a tenue blanche (i.e., an untiled assembly, which non‑Masons and ladies may attend) to which the mother and other guests are invited. The louveton has no other rights in our lodge than those mentioned in your Lodge communication. We do open a savings account for him, to be paid out to him at age 21, again at a tenue blanche, unless he has become a brother himself, when it would be presented to him during his official reception. At present there are three louvetons listed in our roster; the newest addition was in 1962 when I was Master of the Lodge. The louveton was nine months of age and took the whole thing in with great gusto.


33.                                                       DARKNESS VISIBLE


Q.  What is the origin of the phrase `darkness visible'?


A.  It appears in Milton's Paradise Lost (Bk. 1, 1. 63):


A dungeon horrible on all sides round

As one great furnace flam'd, yet from those flames

No light, but rather darkness visible

Serv'd only to discover sights of woe .. .


            This great work was begun in 1658, when Milton was already blind, and the sombre gloom of these lines may well be contrasted with the many beautiful passages in which the poet was able to conjure up his visions of light, in words which seem to acquire a greater strength and majesty because of the perpetual darkness in which he lived.


            The same phrase, `darkness visible', was used, far less effectively, by Alexander Pope, in the Dunciad (Bk. iv, 1, 3), and by Gilbert White, in his Natural History of Selborne (Letter xxvi).




THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               79


34.                                                 THE POINTS OF MY ENTRANCE


Q.  What is the origin and meaning of `the points of my entrance'? Why do those words appear in the course of the examination of the E.A., before he is passed to the Second Degree? The `points of entrance' are mentioned in answer to one of the `Questions Leading to the Second Degree', but the answer seems to be vague, or incomplete; if this is a survival of early ritual, have we lost something en route?


A.  These are three questions that underline a defect in our `proficiency test' for the E.A. The `points of entrance' arise in the vast majority of English workings, but for the benefit of Brethren (mainly overseas) to whom they may be unknown, I quote the relevant Question and Answer. The W.M. asks the Candidate:


Q.  How do you demonstrate the proof of your being a Freemason to others?

A.  By Sns., Tns., and the perfect points of my entrance.


            None of the modern rituals offers any definition of the `points of entrance' and that part of the answer remains unexplained; hence the regular flow of questions on this subject. The modern explanation does appear in the course of five Q. and A. in the `First Lecture, First Section' which is only rarely heard nowadays and it would be fair to say that, even there, the explanation is far from clear or complete.





The `points of entrance' are a part of the earliest known ritual belonging to the Craft and they made their first appearance in the Edinburgh Register House MS., 1696, which contains the oldest description of the E.A. ceremony, with the catechism that followed it, under the heading:



and the questions were probably rehearsed after the E.A. admission ceremony. The first questions in the E.R.H. MS. run:


Q.  Are you a mason.

A.  yes.


Q.  How shall I know it?

A.  you shall know it in time and place convenient.


            A note follows this answer and it contains a kind of warning:


Remark the forsd answer is only to be made when there is company present who are not masons. But if there be no such company by, you should answer by signes tokens and other points of my entrie


80                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            It is clear, therefore, that these test Questions were designed for use both inside and outside the lodge. The `points of entry' were to be discussed only among Masons and (as we shall see when we deal with the next question) they could provide a very adequate test of whether a stranger was, or was not, a Mason.


            There is, moreover, a mass of evidence to show that the questions involving the `points of entry' were widely used in England and Scotland at that period. They appear in almost identical terms in the Chetwode Crawley MS., c. 1700, and in the Kevan MS., c. 1714, both sister texts to the E.R.H. MS.. quoted above, and all of Scottish origin. The earliest version that shows English influence is the Sloane MS., c. 1700, a vastly different text, but on the `points of entrance', its answers are very similar to the Scottish texts:


(Questn!) are you a mason

(Answer) yes I am a freemason

(Q) how shall I know that

(A) by perfect signes and tokens and the first poynts of my Enterance


As regards origins, the test questions relating to the `points of entrance' can be traced back in Craft usage to late operative times; they were widely known in England and Scotland in c. 1700, and probably a hundred years before that.





In the course of the century that followed the appearance of the `points' in our early ritual documents their meaning was altered considerably, as a result of natural expansion and interpretation of the ritual. Here, our main concern is what they meant at their first appearance and for that purpose we must examine the third question in the set of three relating to the test. The E.R.H. MS. and its sister‑texts continue with the questions, as follows:


Q.  3. What is the first point?

A.  Tell me the first point ile tell you the second,


The remainder of this sentence seems to be an instruction on the procedure that is to be followed:


. . ., The first is to heill and conceall, second, under no less pain [= penalty], which is then cutting of your throat, For you most make that sign when you say that


The Sloane MS. uses much the same materials at this stage, but there are some changes:



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               81


(Q) which is the first signe or token shew me the first and I will shew you the second

(A) the first is heal and Conceal or Conceal and keep secrett by no less paine than cutting my tongue from my throat


The `points of entrance' appear again (in a debased version) in the Dumfries No. 4 MS., c. 1710, in the Trinity College, Dublin MS., 1711, and in the `Mason's Examination', the first newspaper exposure, dated 1723, but in these three texts, as in Sloane above, there is no reference to making any particular sign.


            It is noteworthy that in all seven of the earliest ritual texts, quoted above, the `points' always appear at the very beginning of the catechisms, and this may well be taken as evidence of the importance attaching to them. They reappear regularly in all nine subsequent exposures up to c. 1740, in somewhat abbreviated form and without reference to an accompanying sign.


            The instructional answers to Q. 2 and Q. 3 in the three Scottish texts confirm that the `points of entry' consisted of the cautionary catch‑phrase, `heal and conceal', together with an examination on the modes of recognition of those days, plus `other points' which were not specified. The object of this little group of Q. and A., was to give Candidates a ready means of identifying themselves as Masons; also, to teach them how to interrogate anyone, outside the lodge, who might claim to be a Mason. If a man, under examination, was able to produce the requisite sign or token, that might normally have been sufficient to satisfy the questioner. If any doubts remained, the examiner would presumably ask about the `other points' o f entrance. Yet, apart from the catch‑phrase `heal and conceal' our texts are completely silent on the `other points'. It seems likely that there could have been several optional questions, relevant to the initiation, that might have been added, but there is no evidence, at this stage, of a standard form of further questions, or of any further explanation of what the `points of entrance' really were.


            The precise nature of those `other points' remains a matter of pure speculation. Almost certainly they embodied items of procedure in the admission ceremony which could not have been known to anyone out‑side the Craft. This view is confirmed in one of the best of the early French exposures, 1745, where the `perfect Points of my Entrance' are rendered as `the circumstances of my Reception'. (E.F.E., p. 259.)


In c. 1727, the Wilkinson MS., contained a new Q. and A. following immediately after its answer to Q. 2:


82                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


A.  by Signs, tokens, & perfect Poynts of Entrance

Q.[3] What are Signs

A.  All Square, Levells & perpendiculars


Masonry Dissected, 1730, in answer to the same question, says:


A.  All Squares, Angles and Perpendiculars.1


As a definition of `Signs', it seems likely that these answers are directly related to the `points of entrance', in which case they represent the earliest attempt to explain them. Several of the earlier texts had indicated that `squares', in one form or another, may have been used as modes of recognition, but the two full answers given here are the earliest known versions of the words which form a preliminary to our modern method of entrusting the E.A.


            There were no new revelations of English ritual between 1730 and 1760; when the English exposures begin to appear again in a steady stream from 1760 onwards, the questions on the `points of entrance' seem to have gone out of use and there is no longer any trace of them in the documents of that time.




The `points', after what may have been a long period of neglect, came back into use in the last quarter of the 18th century. That was the time when the great interpreters of the ritual, Wellins Calcott, William Hutchinson and, notably, William Preston, had begun their work and it is in Preston's `Lecture of the First Degree' that we find what appears to be the first real attempt to enumerate and explain the `points of entrance':


First Degree, Section I, Clause II


Are you a Mason?

I am so taken and received by Brn. and Fellows.

            How do you know yourself to be a Mason?

By the regularity of my initiation, by repeated trials and approbations and by my readiness to undergo the same when duly called on.

How do you make yourself known as a Mason to others?

By signs, by tokens and by perfect points of entrance.

            What are signs? .. .

            What are tokens? .. .

            Give the perfect points of entrance.

                        These are secrets I am bound to conceal.

            What is their number?

They are innumerable but three are generally known.



            1 All the English texts mentioned hitherto are reproduced in Early Masonic Catechisms, 2nd edition, 1963, publ. by the Q.C. Lodge.



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               83

Name those three.

            With you reciprocally I have no objection.


            Off - at - on [sic].

Why are they called perfect points?

Because they include the whole ceremony of initiation.

What does the first include?

The ceremony of preparation.

What does the second include?

The ceremony of admission.

What does the third include?

The ceremony of the obligation. 1


The opening questions confirm that the `points of entrance' were intended to serve a Mason as a ready means of identification. The catchword answer `Off ‑ at ‑ on' would present problems to anyone who was unable to enlarge on them, or explain them; but the three answers that follow those words state that they relate to three parts of the ceremony, `preparation, admission and obligation'. This suggests that there might have been further questions on those three themes.


            There is an extended version of the same Lecture, by William Preston, which has three different answers following the `Off ‑ at ‑ on', as follows2:


Off what?

In respect to apparel.

At what?

The door of the Lodge

On what?

The 1*** k*** b***


These three answers supplement the somewhat obscure references to `preparation, admission and obligation' in a most useful manner, especially when we combine them, thus:


The ceremony of preparation - In respect to apparel

The . . . ceremony of admission - [At] The door of the Lodge

The ceremony of the obligation - [On] The 1*** k*** b***


The answers presented in this form leave no doubt as to Preston's views on `the points of entrance'. They may also throw light on another question that has arisen frequently on the word `entrance' in relation to


1 Quoted from AQC, Vol. 82, pp. 117 - 18, in which the late Bro. P. R. James produced an invaluable synthesis of Preston's `First Lecture of Free Masonry' from manuscripts and prints in the Grand Lodge Library.

2 Bro. James listed it as the `F' version. (ibid p. 118)


84                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            the `points'. Does it mean the precise moment of entrance into the Lodge, or does it relate to the whole ceremony of admission? The latter is clearly implied in Preston's threefold answer. If all his questions and answers (in the extracts quoted above) had survived into our present‑ day ritual, the question would not arise, but there have been several changes in the interpretation of the `Off  -  at  -  on' since Preston's day.


            John Browne, in his Master Key, 1798, was completely different:


A.  Of, At, and On.

Q.  Of, At, and On what?

A. Of my own free will and accord, At the door of the L***e, and On the point of a sharp I********* extended to my n**** I*** b*****.


            Finch, A Masonic Treatise, 1802 gives:


A. Of my free will, At the door of the L, and ON the point of a s[****] or some sharp i*********.


            Carlile, in the Republican, 15 July 1825, gave the same answers as in Preston's extended version, i.e., `In respect to apparel' etc.


            Claret's answers (in 1838) were like those in Browne's Master Key, 1798, with the word `presented' in place of `extended'.


            The Perfect Ceremonies, 1872, followed Claret precisely and, although the questions leading up to the final answer vary slightly, the answer is as given in most of the `workings' which use the Q. and A. `Lectures' today. It is evident that at some stage between Preston in c. 1780 - 90 and Browne in 1798, there was a substantial change in the interpretation of the `points of entrance'. Preston's definitions indicated that he equated `entrance' with the whole ceremony of admission into the Craft, i.e., preparation, the moment of entrance, and the moment of taking the obligation. Browne's interpretation - in use today - finishes at the moment when the Candidate is about to pass through the door of the Lodge.


            I am inclined to believe that when Preston produced (or perhaps reproduced) the three‑point interpretation of the `points of entrance', the intention was to give the Candidate, within the span of a single catchword phrase, a reference to three incidents that would prove - quite apart from word and sign - that he had undergone a `perfect' and proper initiation. It may appear that we have neglected the word `perfect' in the `perfect points of my entrance' and it seems possible that the word `perfect' belongs directly to the three points outlined by Preston. It might also refer to three in the sense of `the perfect number', though one hesitates to engage in this kind of symbolism.



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               85




Originally, as shown above, they formed part of the catechism within the E.A. ceremony and they were clearly designed for test purposes. When the Passwords came into use in the first half of the 18th century, there is ample evidence that they were conferred during the E.A. and F.C. ceremonies, to furnish candidates with an additional safeguard, either in proving themselves or in testing strangers. In effect, the Candidate, in those early days, received during each degree what later became a separate intermediate ceremony of Test Questions and Entrusting, as a preliminary to the next degree.


            The questions leading to the next degree, i.e. the `proficiency tests' were not standardized, and were apparently not in general use until after the union of the rival Grand Lodges. The earliest official record I have been able to trace of our modern procedure of the separate inter‑mediate ceremony before the next degree, is in the minutes of the Lodge of Promulgation, which was created in 1809 to prepare the ground for the Union. On 9 February 1810, Bro. Robson, acting as candidate for the second degree


... having answered the questions put to him satisfactorily, was invited by the R.W.M. to repair to the extremity of the East, where, unobserved by the rest of the Lodge, he at the Master's command was entrusted by the W. Past Master with .. .


after which the appropriate ceremony was performed. (AQC, Vol. 23, pp. 41/2.) One week later, the Lodge of Promulgation resolved that this procedure should be followed in future (but on this occasion they were dealing with the third degree).


            So the answer to this question is that the practice of examining the E.A. on the `points of Entrance' immediately before the second degree became official at the Union, though it may have been in use, in some cases, before that time.





As to whether we have lost something en route, that is rather difficult to answer. If we are justified in assuming that the `other points of entrie' in 1696 implied items that might have led to further (unspecified) test questions, then apparently we have lost something since 1696. Indeed, it may well be that Preston's `Off  -  At  -  On' was an attempt to fill the


86                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


gap, and even in his day there seems to have been some real doubt as to how the `catchword' answer should be interpreted, i.e., with two distinct `Preston' versions and an entirely different one from Browne in 1798.


            Nowadays, Browne's version seems to be widely favoured in those `Workings' which use the 'Lectures'; but the `Off  -  At  -  On' has disappeared from the Questions, etc., leading to the Second Degree, which contain a mention of `the perfect points of my entrance' without the least attempt to explain them; and that is a great pity.


35.                                                                   COWANS


Q.  What are `cowans' and why were they excluded from the Craft?


A.  The O.E.D. definition is: `One who builds dry stone walls (i.e., with‑out mortar); a dry‑stone‑diker; applied derogatorily to one who does the work of a mason, but who has not been regularly apprenticed or bred to the trade'.


            Cowan is an essentially Scottish trade term, and it belongs to the time when lodges, as trade‑controlling bodies, put restrictions against the employment of cowans, in order to protect the fully‑trained men of the Craft from competition by unskilled labour. The earliest official ban against cowans appeared in the Schaw Statutes in 1598:


Item, that no master or fellow of craft receive any cowans to work in his society or company nor send any of his servants to work with cowans, under the penalty of twenty pounds so often any person offends hereunder.


            The first record of a breach of this rule is the oldest surviving minute of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) dated 31 July 1599; [word for word, in modern spelling]:


George Patoun, mason, granted and confessed that he had offended against the Deacon and Masters for placing of a cowan to work at a chimney‑head for two days and a half .. .


            He made `humble submission' offering to pay whatever fine might be imposed. Having regard to `his estait' the offence was pardoned, but with a strict warning to all future offenders. The minutes suggest that the Edinburgh masons were very well behaved in this respect, perhaps because of the limited and clearly‑defined area under the control of the Lodge. At Kilwinning, where the Lodge had jurisdiction over a very wide territory, with consequent difficulties of proper supervision, a large number of breaches were recorded and substantial fines were paid




THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               87


in each case. Cowans also appear regularly in the minutes of several other old Scottish Lodges.


            Nevertheless, there are several records for Edinburgh Castle, in 1616 and 1626, where cowans were permitted to work, apparently on certain special duties and when no masons were employed in the same weeks. Some of these unspecified jobs must have been exceptional, because `One cowan received 16s. 8d. a day, one 13s., one 12s., one 10s., and two 6s., as compared with a mason's normal rate of 12s. a day on the same building operations. (Knoop and Jones, The Scottish Mason and the Mason Word, pp. 28‑9. Manchester Univ. Press, 1939.)


In the Burgh of the Canongate, adjoining Edinburgh, cowans were able to attain to a higher status and the minutes of the Incorporation of Wrights, Coopers and Masons &c. show how readily the ban against cowans could be lifted when trade conditions (or local circumstances) permitted. On 27 May 1636, John McCoull was admitted to the Freedom `during his lyftyme to work as a cowan any work with stone and clay only and without lime'. For this privilege, he was to pay ú4 a year to the Craft or the boxmaster (i.e. treasurer) in four instalments, with a doubled fine if he failed to pay. On 30 May 1649 Williame Reull was admitted


... during his lifetime to work as a cowan any work with stone and clay only without lime except only to cast with lime timber doors cheeks and timber windows and clay chimney heads . . . within the Canongate and whole Regality of Broughton .. .


            Reull was to pay £6 a year, again in four instalments and with doubled penalties for any failure. There are altogether some fifteen records of `cowaners' admitted to work in the Canongate, including several men from neighbouring areas, and several records of penalties levied for infringement of the rules when they dared to undertake work that was not permitted to them. (A. A. A. Murray, `Freeman and Cowan with Special Reference to the Records of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning'. AQC, Vol. 21, pp. 198‑9.) In 1705, the minutes of Lodge Mother Kilwinning indicate that although there were still some restrictions, the employment of cowans was occasionally to be permitted in the territory under its jurisdiction, but always depending on the availability of labour. The Lodge resolved:


... that no man shall employ a cowan, which is to say without the word [i.e., the Mason word] to work; if there be one mason to be found within fifteen miles he is not to employ a cowan under the penalty of forty shillings, Scots.


            (Author's italics; all quotations word‑for‑word but in modern spelling.)


88                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK




Q.  `Cowans and Intruders' or `Cowans and Eavesdroppers'. When was the wording changed and which is correct?


A.  There is no evidence that the words were ever changed and the question of which is correct does not really arise, because the words are used synonymously, despite their widely different meanings. The O.E.D. traces the use of the word `eavesdropper' in the Borough Records of Nottingham as early as 1487, and it means `One who listens secretly to conversation'. The same authority quotes the word `entrewder' (= intruder) in an Act of Henry VIII, in 1534. So far as the Craft is concerned, to intrude means `to thrust oneself in without warrant or leave; to enter or come where one is uninvited or unwelcome'.


            In our modern practice, both words are used. In the `Opening' ceremony, most workings speak of `intruders', but in the Investiture of the Tyler, Stability, Logic, Universal, West End, and most of the other widely used versions prefer `eavesdroppers'. Emulation, however, speaks of `intruders' in both places.


            Instead of asking `which is correct?' it seems that we may arrive at a better solution if we try to ascertain which word is more appropriate to the circumstances of the Craft. For example, a cowan, in operative times, was certainly an intruder - from the trade point of view; he could not have learned very much of the trade if he merely listened under the eaves. In Speculative Masonry, it is likely that the eaves‑dropper, the secret listener, would be the greater source of danger. So it is not surprising, perhaps, that when the relevant words begin to appear in our ritual documents, c. 1710‑1730, the eavesdropper forms come first.


            The first hint of that word in the ritual is in the Dumfries No. 4 MS. of c. 1710, where there is a question:


`is ye house cleen' [i.e., is the room tiled?], and if the answer is `it is dropie or ill‑thatched . . . you are to be sillent'. The word `dropie', here, is part of the word `eavesdroppers'.


            In `A Mason's Confession' of c. 1727, there is a note to one of the questions:


... the secrets of the Lodge are hid from the drop; that is, from the unentered prentice, or any others not of their society, whom they call drops.


            The earliest appearance of our `cowans and eavesdroppers' is in Prichard's Masonry Dissected, 1730:




THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               89


Q.  Where stands the Junior Enter'd 'Prentice?

A.  In the North.


Q.  What is his Business?

A.  To keep off all Cowans and Evesdroppers.


            Another question followed, implying that our Brethren in those days were very willing to let the punishment fit the crime:


Q.  If a Cowan (or Listner) is catch'd, how is he to be punished?

A. To be plac'd under the Eves of the Houses (in rainy Weather) till the Water runs in at his Shoulders and out at his Shoos.


            Incidentally, the phrase `cowans and intruders' does not appear in our ritual until the late 1700s.



36.                                           DECLARING ALL OFFICES VACANT


Q.  One often hears the outgoing Master, at the beginning of the Installation ceremony, `... declare all offices vacant'. Is this correct?


A.  One would hesitate to describe a purely local Masonic procedure that is not governed by the Book of Constitutions as being correct or incorrect, but it seems that the W.M. has no such powers. It is his right and his duty to appoint the Officers, but he has no right to remove them, or to declare the offices vacant (except in the special conditions governed by Rule 120 of the B. of C., when he must lay `... a complaint before the Lodge ...').


            As a matter of convenience, the Wardens and other Officers at an Installation meeting may vacate their seats or hand over their Collars a few minutes before the new Officers are appointed, but the Officers, like the W.M., are appointed for the ensuing year, and their tenure of office terminates at the moment when their successors are appointed. For these reasons, the W.M. should not `declare all offices vacant'.


            Another point arises in this connection. During the Investiture one often hears the new Master announce: `Bro. A.B. . . . appointing you my Senior Warden' (or any other office). The officers are officers of the Lodge, not of the Master, and it always seems to me, simply out of politeness, or a proper respect for my colleagues, that the word `my' is out of place in this context.


            Against this view, it could be argued that Rule 104 of the current Book of Constitutions speaks of `the Master and his two Wardens' and the first B. of C., in 1723, also referred to `the Master and his Wardens' and several modern English rituals use the same words. Of course one S L


90                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


cannot quarrel with these authorities, but I can never suppress a feeling of embarrassment when I hear the expression `my Senior Warden' etc., because of the somehow patronizing sense of ownership which it conveys. These are purely personal views, but I believe that the only Brethren who really have the right to use the word `my' in this connexion are those eminent Grand Officers, e.g., Grand Masters, Princes of the Blood Royal, etc. who are empowered, by the B. of C., to appoint a Deputy; needless to say, they invariably speak of `The Deputy ...'.


37.                               REPLACEMENT OF DECEASED OFFICERS


Q.  When an Officer dies, should the W.M. appoint an acting‑officer to finish the year? I have been told that the deceased Officer's name should remain on the Lodge Summons as the holder of the office, while the acting officer discharges the duties until the next Installation.


A.  Dealing, first of all, with the list of Officers printed on Lodge Summonses, it is not generally known, perhaps, that such lists are purely optional and there are hundreds of Lodges that never print a complete list. Many give only the name of the W.M., with the names and addresses of the Treasurer and Secretary.


            As to the main question; under English Constitution the Officers of the Lodge are divided into two classes, i.e., Regular Officers who must be appointed or elected; they form the minimum team and the list of Officers would be legally incomplete without them. Three of these, the W.M., Treasurer and Tyler are elected. The Master, at his discretion, may also appoint a number of Additional Officers, but these are not obligatory. Rule 104 (a) of the B. of C., runs:


The regular Officers of a Lodge shall be the Master and his two Wardens, a Treasurer, a Secretary, two Deacons, an Inner Guard and a Tyler. The Master may also appoint as additional officers a Chaplain, a Director of Ceremonies, an Assistant Director of Ceremonies, a Charity Steward, an Almoner, an Organist, an Assistant Secretary and a Steward or Stewards but no others. No Brother can hold more than one regular office in the Lodge at one and the same time, but the Master may appoint a Brother who is holding a regular office to one additional office also.


            When a Regular officer dies, it is the W.M.'s duty to replace him as soon as possible. In the case of the Treasurer, it is essential for the signing of the documents, etc. In the case of Secretary, it is essential , not merely for the business of the Lodge, but also to maintain proper contact with




THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               91


the Grand Lodge. Of course, an `acting secretary' might complete the year's work equally well, but the Office carries heavy responsibilities; it must be filled and the new holder automatically becomes a regular Officer. All this is plain common‑sense, but Rule 121 of the B. of C. covers the question and leaves no room for doubt:


If a vacancy shall occur in a regular office other than that of Master, such office shall be filled for the remainder of the year by the election or appointment (according to the normal method of filling the office) of a member not serving a regular office in the Lodge at the time the vacancy occurred. If an election be required, due notice thereof shall appear on the summons.


            As regards Additional officers, the W.M. might invite a Brother to `act', but an acting officer is neither a Regular officer nor an Additional officer, so that he would have no real status. Indeed, the B. of C. makes no provision for acting officers. In effect, an acting officer is simply a deputy, discharging a duty temporarily, in the absence of the Brother for whom he serves.


            Finally, the idea that two men cannot be appointed to the same Office in one year, and that the first (deceased) officer remains the `official' holder until the next election, is plain nonsense.



38.                                           DEACONS AS `FLOOR OFFICERS'


Q.  When did Deacons become `Floor‑Officers' in the Lodge, discharging their present‑day duties?


A.  The principal duty associated with the office of Deacon nowadays, i.e., the conducting of Candidates during the ceremonies, was originally discharged by the Wardens of the Lodge. In the first well‑detailed description of the ceremonies, Prichard's Masonry Dissected, 1730, it is evident that the J.W. received the Candidate (as the I.G. does today) and, after some kind of perambulation, the Cand. was handed over to the S.W., who `presented' him and showed him how to advance towards the Master by three steps.


            This work was an exposure and there is no proof that the procedure described in it was correct, but it finds support in later documents of the same class.


            Le Secret des Francs‑Masons, of 1742, gives a useful description of the `floor‑work' in the admission ceremony of that period, and in this text, after the report, the W.M. orders the Cand. to be admitted


92                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            `... and the Wardens [Surveillants] place themselves on either side of him to conduct him'.


            Another French exposure, L'Ordre des Francs‑Masons Trahi, 1745, gives interesting details of the Wardens' duties in the M.M. degree. `One man alone keeps guard inside the door of the Lodge, with a drawn sword in each hand'. After the report, etc., the Second Warden (i.e., the J.W.) goes to the Guard, takes one sword from him and admits the Cand., with the sword pointing to his L.B. After three perambulations at sword‑point, the Cand. is placed facing the W.M. and flanked by the Wardens. The J.W. strikes `... three times three on the shoulder of the First Warden [the S.W.], passing his hand behind the Candidate ...', and the ceremony proceeds.


            Several of the later English exposures of the 1760s show that the Wardens were discharging the duties which we associate nowadays with the Deacons, and under the first Grand Lodge, the Moderns, the office of Deacon was extremely rare, though not altogether unknown. The 1743 minutes of the Royal Oak Lodge, Chester, record the election of a Master's Deacon and a Warden's Deacon, and they were regularly appointed until 1758, when they were superseded by Senior and Junior Stewards. (Misc. Lat., vol. 23, p. 114.) Deacons were known in Bristol in 1758 and were appointed for the first time in the Lodge of Probity, Halifax, now No. 61, on 24 June 1763. Deacons were recorded at Darlington, No. 263, and at Barnard Castle, No. 406, in 1772, both Moderns' Lodges. (Ibid.) Two Deacons were also mentioned in the minutes of the Lodge of Antiquity in December, 1778.


            Bro. Waples, of Sunderland, has sent a note quoting the By‑Laws of the Marquis of Granby Lodge, No. 124, in 1775, where it was ordered that two E.A.s be appointed annually. The senior, seated in the N.E., was to carry `messuages' from the Master to the S.W. The junior was to stand inside the door, to welcome strange Brethren and `to carry messuages from the Right Worshipful to the Tyler'. There is no mention of their performing any Deacon's duties in the course of the ceremonies, but probably, in 1775, they did.


            The appointment of Stewards was fairly common, and there is reason to believe that it was customary for them to discharge the duties of the modern Deacons. A further note from Bro. Waples mentions that, at the Swalwell Lodge, Durham, in 1734, the Officers included S.W., J.W., and also `Senior Deacon (or Steward), Junior Deacon (or Steward)', and two Deacons were appointed in 1732, but, he says, there was no further mention of Deacons in their records until 1818.




THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               93


There appears to be no trace of any early eighteenth century appointments of Deacons as floor officers in Scotland. There, it was customary to appoint Stewards, usually two or more, and occasional references to Stewards' wands suggest that their duties were not confined to refreshment.


            The early references to the appointment of Deacons in the modern sense seem to come most consistently from Ireland. They are named in the famous St. John's Day procession at Youghal in January, 1743‑4. They appear in the 1744 minutes of the Lodge of Lurgan, and in Dassigny's funeral processional in the following year.


            Dermott, the Grand Secretary of the Antients, stated that he had served the offices of J.D. and S.D. (as well as the Wardens' offices) prior to his Installation as Master of No. 26 in Ireland in 1746, and it was probably from Ireland that the Antients' Grand Lodge adopted the practice of appointing Deacons. They are mentioned in the Antients' minutes in July, 1753, and in the records of Lodge No. 37, Antients, in 1754, and their appointment was a regular feature of Antient practice.


            On 13 December 1809, the Lodge of Promulgation, in preparation for the Union of the rival Grand Lodges, resolved `... that Deacons (being proved on due investigation to be not only Ancient but useful and necessary Officers) be recommended'. This was only one of several measures for standardization that were taken at that time, and a nice example of the effect of this new regulation on the Moderns' lodges appears in the minutes of the Old Dundee Lodge, No. 18, dated 8 February 1810: `The Master reported that 2 New Officers are necessary to carry the new alterations into effect, and they are to be named "Deacons" and the R.W. Master then appointed . . .' a S.D. and a J.D., and he then ordered jewels for them in the old design, i.e., Mercury, the messenger of the gods, not the modern `Dove and olive branch'.


39.                                                       THREE STEPS AND

                                                     THE FIRST REGULAR STEP


Q.  What is the origin and significance of the Three Steps and the First Regular Step?


A.  The use of three steps in the course of the ceremonies, or for advancing to the W.M. or to the Altar, is very old practice, but the manner in which the steps were taken is not described in the early texts. In the


94                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


Grand Mystery of Free‑Masons Discover'd, of 1724, and in its twin, the Institution of Free Masons, of c. 1725, there is a question:


Q.  How many Steps belong to a right Mason?

A. Three.


But these two documents have nothing more on the subject.


            A Mason's Confession, which is supposed to represent lodge practice of c. 1727 (but was published in 1755‑6), speaks of three chalk lines drawn on the lodge floor, and reproduces a rough diagram showing the lines with a set of three right‑angles, indicating that the `advance' was by three steps, the feet being placed in the form of a right‑angle at each step, and, if the diagram is to be trusted, it seems that the Candidate advanced sideways, i.e., with his left shoulder towards the W.M., but, although the steps are described very clearly, they are not explained in any way.


            The Wilkinson MS., c. 1727, and Prichard's Masonry Dissected, 1730, both mention that the Candidates of their day took three steps towards the Master, as a preliminary to the Obligation.


            Thus it seems fairly certain that the three steps were in use before 1730, and although we do not know how many there were for each degree, or how they were taken, it would appear that only three steps were known.


            By this time a certain amount of symbolism was already making its appearance in the ritual and it seems rather strange that the significance of the steps was never explained.


            In 1745 the European exposures, French and German, give good evidence that the steps in the third degree had been expanded into something approaching modern practice and they are shown in diagram as three zig‑zag steps. Note, there were then only three steps, but they still remained without verbal or written explanation or symbolism.


            An English exposure of 1760, Three Distinct Knocks, which is sup‑posed to represent the practice of the Antients, indicates that their Cands. took only one step in the 1!, two in the 2! and three in the 3!, and this may indeed have been Antient practice, but we cannot be certain. Laurence Dermott, their Grand Secretary, in the 1778 edition of Ahiman Rezon (their Book of Constitutions), derided the various steps used by the Moderns, and, if we read between the lines of his criticism, it looks as though Moderns' practice in this respect was by this time approaching our present‑day custom.


            After many years' observations on those ingenious methods of walking up to a brother &c., I conclude, that the first was invented by a Man



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               95


grievously afflicted with the Sciatica. The Second by a Sailor, much accus‑ tomed to the rolling of a Ship. And the third by a man, who for recreation or through excess of strong liquors, was wont to dance the drunken Peasant.

                                                            (Ahiman Rezon, 1778 Edn., Footnote to p. xxxviii.)


Dermott, of course, was being malicious, but two noteworthy points emerge from all this. First, that the Moderns' Grand Lodge, the older foundation, had adopted substantial changes in practice. Secondly, that practices were by no means uniform in regard to the steps.


            The extraordinary thing is that even at this late date there seems to have been no explanation or symbolism attaching to the various methods of `advancing', and this leads to the conclusion that any interpretation offered on this point nowadays is a comparatively modern introduction.


            John Coustos, in his confession to the Inquisition at Lisbon in 1742, spoke of three steps (and seven steps), the first of them always `heel to heel', and apparently they were all `heel to heel'. The modern practice of a particular place for the R.H. seems to have been unknown in the eighteenth century.


            The Pilgrim Lodge, No. 238, London, take only three steps in all degrees, and this serves to emphasize that the variations in practice that existed in the eighteenth century still exist to this day.





The step (feet forming a square) goes back to c. 1700. In the Sloane MS. of that date, we find:


Another signe is placing their right heell to the inside of their left in forme of a square so walk a few steps backward and forward and at every third step make a Little Stand placeing their feet Squre as aforesd.


            Are we safe in drawing a distinction between `heel to heel' and `inside of their left [heel]'? Undoubtedly, the step, however it was made, was already a means of recognition, and in the next thirty years or so we begin to find evidence of three steps. In 1730 there were still three steps prior to the Obligation and entrusting. In the 1760s the E.A. was `taught' to take only one step as a preliminary to the Obligation and the entrusting that followed it. The F.C. took two steps, and the M.M. took first the one E.A. step, then the two F.C. steps, and finally three M.M. steps. Note: all these steps were before the Obligation. There is no record, so far as I know, of additional steps before the entrusting.


            In Browne's Master Key, of 1802 (one of the last major works on ritual to appear before the Union in 1813), the E.A. advanced `by three regular steps' to the Master for the Obligation, and no step is mentioned


96                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


for the `entrusting'. The three steps are symbolically explained as follows:


What do they morally teach us?

Upright lives and well squared intentions.


            Later, in the N.E., the Candidate stood with his feet forming a square, symbol of `a just and upright man and Mason'.


            I quote these only to show how practices were developing during the eighteenth century. They were standardized at the Union. On the symbology, I have little to offer, because none of the early records explains the symbolism of the steps. We work that out for ourselves (the simpler the better), and Browne's explanation, above, is certainly adequate.



40.                               ST. BARBARA AS A PATRON SAINT OF MASONS


Q.  What is the supposed connection between St. Barbara and the Masons?


A.  Reference was made in AQC, Vol. 75, p. 77, to Santa Barbara as a Patroness of the Masons' Guild at Rotterdam, c. 1491, and some doubt was evinced as to the reason why the Masons should have consecrated a chapel to her.


            Saint Barbara was a virgin martyr who died c. 235. She was a Saint of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Eastern Churches, and the place of her death is uncertain, being variously given as Heliopolis, a town in Tuscany, and Nicomedia, Bithynia. Her father, a heathen, on discovering that she professed Christianity, had her tortured and beheaded by order of the prefect of the province, and the father himself carried out the final act of the sentence.


            Retribution was swift, and he was struck by lightning on his way home. This seems to be the reason why she was adopted as a patron Saint in thunderstorms, and as protectress of artillerymen and miners. Her immediate connection with masons and the mason craft would have seemed to be rather vague, but we are indebted to Bro. Gault MacGowan, of Heidelberg, who points out that St. Barbara was invoked for protection against lightning. In the days before the invention of lightning‑conductors, many fine buildings were destroyed by lightning, and this explains why the operative masons sued for her protection.


                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               97


            When lightning‑conductors came into general use her assistance was no longer required, and she gradually disappeared from the list of Saints associated with the mason craft.


41.                                           SPONSORING A NEW LODGE


Q.  Why is it necessary for those wishing to form a new lodge to obtain the recommendation of an existing one?


A.  The first and obvious answer to this question is, of course, that the Book of Constitutions so requires it. Rule 94, which lays down the procedure for petitioning for a warrant to hold a new lodge, states:


... To every such petition must be added a recommendation, signed in open Lodge, by the Master and Wardens of a regular Lodge under the Grand Lodge .. .


            In seeking, however, the reason behind this regulation, one might meet question with question. Why is it necessary for a candidate for Freemasonry to have sponsors? The analogy is not perfect: the candidate is a stranger to the Craft, whereas a new lodge is formed of brethren already within it; but the uncontrolled formation of new lodges would be just as undesirable as a too free and unguarded recommendation of candidates for initiation. We charge the candidate, after his initiation, to exemplify his fidelity by, among other things, `refraining from recommending . . . unless . . . he will ultimately reflect honour on your choice'. Is it not just as important that we should guard against a new lodge being brought into being unless we are assured that there is a need for it, and we have strong grounds for believing that the brethren who seek to form it do so from the highest Masonic motives and are worthy of our support? Otherwise we are indirectly surrendering our trust and, perhaps, even sowing the seeds of decay from within.


            It is possible that without any control over the formation of new lodges, and without a procedure for scrutinizing the initial make‑up of a lodge, and for sponsoring it if found worthy - without this guarantee we might open the door to undesirable elements and disunity might arise. New lodges might be formed, for instance, by groups of brethren disgruntled at some grievance, real or imaginary, against their own lodges. Taking the argument a step further, if the grievance was against higher authority, the position might conceivably be reached where rival grand lodges might come into being, just as they did in the past for this very reason (e.g., the `Wigan Grand Lodge').



98                                                        THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            It is only prudent, therefore, that the petition for a warrant must be accompanied by this recommendation from an existing regular lodge (and also by the observations of the Provincial or District Grand Master in the regions outside the London area).


            Perhaps an instance of what happened in Halifax, Yorkshire, two centuries ago, will give point to what has been said above. The Bacchus Lodge, meeting there, `had a doubtful reputation . . .' It had been warranted by the Moderns in 1769, on the recommendation of `two very respectable Lodges in London'. The Brethren of the existing Halifax Lodge had grave doubts about the founders of the new Lodge, and went so far as to describe them in a letter to Grand Lodge as `a number of loose fellows'. It appears from what eventually came to light that certain frequenters of the Bacchus Inn, some of whom were Masons, had determined to form a Lodge as the basis of a secret society of coiners and counterfeiters, and no doubt plied their criminal but profitable activities behind tyled doors and under the obligations of Masonry.


            ... They kept up appearances remarkably well; they sent up regular Charity subscriptions to London - as they could well afford to do - and no doubt attended such masonic functions of a semi‑public character as could be made to serve their purpose.


            ... The counterfeiters were ultimately caught and justice dealt out to them; a number of the Brethren were sentenced to transportation for life.

                                                                                    (AQC, Vol. 56, pp. 251‑2.)


The Lodge itself was erased from the List in 1783.


            Whilst agreeing that such an affair could not happen today - or so we trust! - the lesson remains.


            One last point which might be made is that Freemasonry is not alone in requiring the backing of an existing group for the formation of a new one. Other organizations and societies, religious and secular, require the new offshoot to be sponsored by a parent body, and this is, after all, a very natural process of propagation and regeneration.


            We are indebted to Bro. T. O. Haunch for the answer, above, to this question. It may be useful, however, to add that the rule requiring that the petition for a new Lodge should be recommended by the Master and Wardens of a sponsoring Lodge is of comparatively modern introduction. It is certain that no such requirement existed in the operative Lodges in Britain, because there was no governing body to exercise that kind of control.


            In 1598, William Schaw, Master of Works to the Crown of Scotland and Warden General of the Mason Craft, issued a code of regulations,
                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               99


`The Schaw Statutes', which may be taken as the first official attempt at some kind of nation‑wide control of the Craft in Scotland. (No comparable regulations are known for England.) They were `to be observed by all master masons within this realm' and, although they contained some twenty‑two regulations relating to Lodge and trade practices, and the word `lodge' is mentioned in five of them, the only rule relating to the Lodge itself was one requiring the Masters, i.e., Master Masons, to vote and choose a Warden (i.e., presiding officer or master) each year, whose name was to be notified to the Warden General. The Lodges in those days were self‑governing bodies, formed by inherent right, and there was no hint as yet of Petition, or Recommendation, or Warrant, as necessary preliminaries to their formation.


            In England, Dr. Anderson's Book of Constitutions, 1723, provided the first code of regulations for the then recently established Grand Lodge. It contained a section describing the `Manner of constituting a New Lodge', but that dealt only with the ceremony, and with the Officers who were empowered to conduct it. In Rule viii, however, there was a requirement that if any Brothers separated themselves from their Lodge they must immediately join another,


or else they must obtain the Grand‑Master's Warrant to join in forming a new Lodge.


            This was the first English rule requiring the Warrant as a prerequisite to the formation of a new Lodge.


            New Lodges were now coming into existence quite frequently, but there were still no rules relating to formal Petition or Recommendation. The first indication of the necessity for some kind of approval or recommendation for the establishment of a new Lodge is implicit in the Grand Lodge minutes of June 1741, when it was resolved


That no new Lodge should for the future be Constituted within the Bills of Mortality [i.e., the parishes in a given area in and around London] with‑out the Consent of the Brethren assembled in Quarterly Communication first obtained for that purpose.


            Six months later, on 12 January 1742, an objection was raised to the new rule, on the grounds that it was `derogatory to the Prerogative of the Rt Worshipful the G:M.', but upon the Grand Master


Expressing his satisfaction of the Expediency of that Law The same was on the Question put Agreed to.


            The rival Grand Lodge, the Antients', was founded in 1751 and a very comprehensive code of `Rules and Orders' was `agreed and settled' on 17 July 1751. Their 8th Regulation was the first Masonic law in


100                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            England that embodied the three requirements, Petition, Attestation (or Recommendation) and Warrant:


NO Admission or Warrant shall be granted to any Brothers to hold a Lodge until such time they have first form'd a Lodge of Ancient Masons and sitt Regularly in a Credible House and then to Apply by Petition and such Petition to be Attested by the Masters of three Regular Lodges who shall make a Proper Report of them.


            There seems to be no record of a similar regulation in the practice of the premier Grand Lodge. In the first edition of his Illustrations of Masonry, 1772, William Preston devoted a chapter to `The Manner of Constituting a Lodge . . .', in which he printed a form of Petition, and continued:


This petition, being properly signed, and recommended by three Masters of regular Lodges, must be delivered to the Grand Secretary .. .


            It may be assumed that `recommendation by three Masters of Lodges' was being practised in Moderns' Lodges by this time.


            Following the union of the rival Grand Lodges in 1813, the new Book of Constitutions of the United Grand Lodge was published in 1815. The section headed `Of Constituting a New Lodge' began:


EVERY application for a warrant to hold a new lodge must be by petition to the grand master . . . The petition must be recommended by the officers of some regular lodge and be transmitted to the grand secretary .. .


            The `three Lodge' or `three Masters' requirement had disappeared; the officers of one regular lodge were now sufficient for the recommendation; but the rule in its present form prescribing that the recommendation must be signed in open Lodge by the Master and Wardens did not come into existence until 3 December 1913.



42.                                                       THE BEEHIVE


Q.  What is the significance of the beehive in Freemasonry?


A.  The date of its introduction into Masonic symbolism is obscure. In a Masonic skit, `A Letter from the Grand Mistress . . .' dated 1724, and attributed erroneously to Jonathan Swift, we find:


A Bee hath in all Ages and Nations been the Grand Hieroglyphick of Masonry, because it excels all other living Creatures in the Contrivance and Commodiousness of its Habitation . . . (E.M.C., p. 233).


            The text rambles and the remaining references to the beehive have neither literary merit nor Masonic interest.



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               101


The beehive was always an emblem of industry, and it appears often in the second half of the eighteenth century on Tracing Boards, Lodge certificates, jewels, glass and pottery.


            The Lodge of Emulation, No. 21 (founded in 1723), has had the beehive as its emblem for nearly 200 years at least, and it is depicted on drinking vessels presented to the Lodge in 1776, and on their firing‑glasses of the same period.


            Dring, in his great study of the evolution of the Tracing Boards (AQC 29), reproduced a large number of pictures of early Lodge `Cloths' and Boards, and the beehive appears regularly in almost every set. By the time it had achieved such a degree of prominence in Lodge symbolism, there can be no doubt that it was also being featured in the explanatory work, or Lectures, and the eighteenth century ritual of the Royal Cumberland Lodge, No. 41, Bath, contains the following in its Third Degree Lecture:


The Beehive teaches us that we are born into the world rational and intelligent beings, so ought we also to be industrious ones, and not stand idly by or gaze with listless indifference on even the meanest of our fellow creatures in a state of distress if it is in our power to help them without detriment to ourselves or connections; the constant practice of this virtue is enjoined on all created beings, from the highest seraph in heaven to the meanest reptile that crawls in the dust.

            (From G. W. Bullamore, `The Beehive and Freemasonry', AQC, Vol. 36, p. 222.)


At the Union of the rival Grand Lodges in 1813, many of the old symbols that had formerly adorned the Tracing Boards were abandoned; among them were the Hour‑glass, the Scythe, the Ark and the Beehive. The explanation of these symbols disappeared from English practice. But many modern American rituals, which owe their origins to English pre‑Union sources, have preserved the explanations that we discarded. To cite only one example, the Royal Cumberland quotation, above, appears almost word‑for‑word in the third degree Trestle‑Board published by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1928.


            The symbols listed here, including the beehive, owe their survival in the American `monitorial' workings to Thomas Smith Webb, a prominent Masonic ritualist and lecturer (b. 1771; d. 1819), who may well be described as the William Preston of American Masonry. He was still a young man in his early twenties when he became acquainted with John Hanmer, an Englishman, well versed in English ritual and especially in Preston's system. With Hanmer's help, Webb published the first edition of The Freemason's Monitor: or Illustrations of Masonry,  


102                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK


in 1797. Its main section was a substantial reproduction of Preston's Illustrations, although Webb forgot to mention that. There were at least six further editions in Webb's lifetime, all `enlarged and improved', and the work became very popular. The edition of 1802 contained his interpretation of the symbolism of the beehive and it is probably the most widely known explanation in use today. It is reproduced here, in full:




Is an emblem of industry, and recommends the practice of that virtue to all created beings, from the highest seraph in heaven, to the lowest reptile of the dust. It teaches us, that as we came into the world rational and intelligent beings, so we should ever be industrious ones; never sitting down con‑tented while our fellow‑creatures around us are in want, when it is in our power to relieve them, without inconvenience to ourselves.


            When we take a survey of nature, we view man, in his infancy, more helpless and indigent than the brutal creation: he lies languishing for days, months, and years, totally incapable of providing sustenance for himself, of guarding against the attack of the wild beasts of the field, or sheltering himself from the inclemencies of the weather. It might have pleased the Great Creator of heaven and earth, to have made man independent of all other beings; but, as dependence is one of the strongest bands [sic] of society, mankind were made dependent on each other for protection and security, as they thereby enjoy better opportunities of fulfilling the duties of reciprocal love and friendship. Thus was man formed for social and active life, the noblest part of the work of God; and he that will so demean himself, as not to be endeavouring to add to the common stock of know‑ledge and understanding, may be deemed a drone in the hive of nature, a useless member of society, and unworthy our protection as masons.


            There is something of a mystery here. In England, despite the numerous appearances of the beehive in 18th century Masonic Jewels, Certificates, Tracing Boards, and furnishings, it has proved impossible to trace any relics of 18th century ritual or commentary relating to the bee, or the beehive as Masonic symbols, except the extract quoted above from the Third Degree Lecture used in the Royal Cumberland Lodge, No. 41. That Lodge was in existence in 1733 and it would not be surprising to find isolated items of early ritual practices surviving there; but Bro. P. R. James, who was a member of that Lodge for many years (and whose scholarly work on Preston's Lectures commands the highest respect), held that the `beehive note' in the English Lecture was 19th century material. It is quite clearly related to Webb's `Bee Hive' and the problem is whether Royal Cumberland borrowed from Webb, or was it originally English material - adopted and elaborated by Webb?


Another point of interest is the question of which degree contained the beehive? In the early English T.B.s it invariably appears in the first,



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               103


but sometimes in a `combined' first and second. In the Royal Cumber‑land working it appeared in the third Lecture, and the Massachusetts working states that all the symbols listed above, including the beehive, belong to the third degree.


43.                               FELLOWCRAFTS AND THE MIDDLE CHAMBER


Q. The Lecture on the Second Tracing Board states that `... the F.C.s received their wages in the Middle Chamber of King Solomon's Temple'. Later, we are told that it contained `certain Hebrew characters', from which we may assume that the Chamber must have been completed.


            If the men to be paid were actually engaged on the building of the Temple, where were they paid while the room was being built, or before the work had begun on that portion of the building?


A.  I appreciate the questioner's difficulty, but it is impossible to provide a satisfactory factual answer to a question that arises from the statements made in a legend. The description of the Middle Chamber in 1 Kings VI, verse 8, is not at all clear and, wherever F.C.s were paid when that room was built, they were paid elsewhere before that time, but the Old Testament affords no information on this point.


            There are, however, several other interesting problems that arise out of the Lecture on the Second T.B. We all accept that Solomon built the Temple and, as already indicated, the Biblical accounts in Kings and Chronicles are so complicated that they furnish endless difficulties in themselves. To make matters worse, the compilers of the ritual overlaid and embroidered the original story with masses of invented detail. No doubt they meant well; they were simply trying to arrange various items of ritual and procedure against a Biblical background, creating a kind of Masonic allegory: but allegory, in this case, is a very polite euphemism.


            To understand how much embroidery was added, one needs to compare the relevant details in the Lecture on the Second Tracing Board with the story as given in 1 Kings, chapters V to VII, and II Chronicles, chapters II to IV. In fairness to the later expounders and embellishers who were certainly responsible for some of the subsequent 'improvements', the prime culprit in this case was Samuel Prichard, who


104                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            published in his Masonry Dissected, 1730, the first exposure of a three‑degree system, which contained the earliest known version of the Fellow Craft's Degree in that system. (E.M.C., pp. 165‑7.) The F.C. `ceremony' is presented in the course of some thirty‑three Questions and Answers, which probably represent the essentials of the ritual of their day, but without any details of `floorwork' or procedure. The brief synopsis that follows will suffice to show that, despite numerous changes in the intervening years, it is the direct source of much of the Middle Chamber material in use today.


            In the course of his answers the Candidate (in 1730) said that he was made F.C. `For the sake of the Letter G' which means `Geometry, or the fifth Science'. He travelled `East and West' and worked `in the Building of the Temple'. There, `he received his Wages . . .' in the middle Chamber. He came there `By a winding Pair of Stairs, Seven or more'. When he `came to the Door of the middle Chamber . . . he saw a Warden' who demanded `Three Things' . . . i.e., `Sign, Token and a Word'. [Described in detail.] When he `came into the middle' [of the middle Chamber?] he saw the `Resemblance of the Letter G' which denotes `The Grand Architect and Contriver of the Universe, or He that was taken up to the top of the Pinnacle of the Holy Temple' [i.e., Jesus Christ].


            It is noteworthy that in this version the letter G had at least two meanings, i.e., Geometry and the Grand Architect . . . of the Universe. We cannot but wonder at the mentality of the ritual compiler who believed that the Middle Chamber in Solomon's Temple could have contained a symbolic reference to Christ, several hundred years B.C. Unfortunately there are no means of ascertaining where Prichard obtained his material, or whether he wrote some of it himself.


            The study of Prichard's catechism also reveals some confusion arising from a series of questions which embody two completely separate themes:


(a) The making or passing of a F.C., with the symbolism of the G for Geometry, which was its earliest meaning.


(b) The legendary place of the F.C. in the construction of the Temple, i.e., work, wages, and admission to the Middle Chamber.


            The following Q. and A. are all from Prichard's second degree, but they are tabulated to show the line of argument as to the two themes:



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               105 


The `PASSING' theme                                 The `WORK‑WAGES' symbolical theme


Q. Why was you made a Fellow‑                 Q. Did you ever work?

Craft?                                                             A.  Yes, in the building of the

A.  For the sake of the Letter G.                        Temple.

Q.  What does that G denote?                     Q. Where did you receive your

A. Geometry, or the fifth Science.                    Wages?   

[Note: I would take this to be part                A. In the middle Chamber.

of the `early‑type' catechism,                [Several other questions relating

relating to the actual cere‑                      to the Porch, Pillars, their

mony. But see how it links                     ornamentation, etc.]        

up, later, with the Q. and A.  Q. When you came into the middle

in the next column.]                                 [Chamber], what did you see?

A.  The Resemblance of the Letter G.

[Several Q. and A. have been omitted, but

note that the G now has a new significance,   i.e.]

Q.  Who doth that G denote? .. .

A. . . . The Grand Architect and Contriver of the    Universe, or He that was taken up to the ..

. Pinnacle .. .


            The Q. and A. in the right‑hand column may be taken as the beginnings of Speculative expansion on the beauty and meaning of the Temple; here are the various `strands' of the material which ultimately became the Lecture on the Second T.B. None of our early documents made any attempt to separate the two themes. The `G' for Geometry disappeared from modern workings. Within the Middle Chamber (in English practice) it became the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, J.H.V.H., or their Hebrew equivalents and nowadays we have two Wardens on guard at the Winding Stairs, with two tests, instead of only one Warden and one test, as in Prichard's day.


            One further example of the zeal with which our ritual compilers embellished their materials may be taken from William Preston's `Second Lecture of Free Masonry':


Where did our Brn. go to receive their wages?

The E.A. in the Outer Chamber, the F.C. in the Middle Chamber, the Master in the Inner Chamber of the Temple. (AQC, Vol. 83, p. 203.)


The outer and inner chambers were mercifully abandoned toward the end of the 18th century; Browne, in his Master Key, 1802, retained only the middle one. So, we are able to see how the ritual grows.




106                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK


44.                                                            THE MASTER'S HAT


Q.        1. In ancient practice, where the Master wore a hat, did he enter the lodge hatted, or did he ceremonially don the hat when the lodge was declared open and remove it when the lodge was closed, or `untiled'?


2. Is there any ground for associating `hat practices' with operative masonry, or were they introduced in the speculative period?


3. Is there any evidence to support the suggestion that hat practices are linked with the slang word `tile' = hat; i.e., that the Master symbolized the lodge, and that, when he was hatted, this meant that the lodge was tiled? 4. Are there any other explanations of hat practices?


A.  The answers to your questions must be made with reservations, because there is no authoritative evidence for any of the procedures under discussion, i.e., there is no mention in Grand Lodge minutes, or Regulations, of any `hat customs', so that practically our only information is from unofficial (and sometimes unreliable) documents.


            The following is a brief survey of some of the `hat' evidence bearing on your questions:


(a) In the Bristol and Bath area, records of a Foundation Stone ceremony, Dedication of a Masonic Hall, and at a funeral, at all of which the Brethren were required to wear cocked hats. To this day the W.M.s under the Prov. G. Lodge of Bristol all wear a kind of cocked hat on entering and retiring from the Lodge, but not during the Lodge session. (See AQC, Vol. 74, pp. 154‑5.)


(b) Calliope, an English eighteenth century song‑book, has an illustration to a Masonic song, dated 1738. It depicts a group of seven Masons in the costume of that day, three of them being the W.M. and Wardens, wearing their aprons and jewels. They stand round a table with three lighted candles on it, and the Letter G is displayed above, i.e., it is a lodge‑room. All seven have wine‑glasses in their hands. None of them wears a hat, and no hats are visible.


            (c) The frontispiece of Hiram, an English exposure of 1765, illustrates an Initiation ceremony. The plate exists in two states - one with the Candidate, the other without. In both plates, only the W.M. wears a tricorn hat.


            (d) In the well‑known series of English `Palser Prints', 1809‑1812, illustrating the ceremonies, the W.M. wears a hat in some pictures and is hatless in others. Palser's work was based on some of the French Assemblee prints of c. 1745 (noted below), but presumably he was depicting English practices, for the English market.



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               107 


(e) The Ordre des Francs‑Masons Trahi, a famous French exposure of 1745, contains two well‑known pictures of the first and third degrees in progress. In each case, all the Brn., excepting the Candidate, are wearing hats. (See illustrations, pp. 190, 195.)


(f) In the Assembles des Francs Masons, a very interesting series of prints dated c. 1745, there is one which depicts the Ob. in an Initiation ceremony. Only the W.M. wears a tricorn. All others are hatless. (See illustration on p. ii.)


(g) In the same Assemblee series relating to the third degree, one print shows the W.M. with hat, and another without. All other Brn. are hatless.


            From the evidence adduced above, it may be stated firmly that even in those places where hats were worn there was no uniformity of practice, and that is why it is impossible `to lay down the law' or even to answer all questions on the subject with any degree of certainty. Nevertheless, the following may be helpful:


Q.1 Where the W.M. alone or all the Brn. wore hats, it is probable that they were worn throughout the meetings. It is not good argument to cite modern practices in an attempt to deduce ancient customs, but the present‑day practice in U.S.A. may be relevant. Only the W.M. wears a hat throughout the meeting, and he removes it only during Prayers, Obligations and when welcoming visitors. In the Pilgrim Lodge, No. 238 (a German‑speaking Lodge in London), all present wear hats throughout the meeting, except the Candidates, and hats are only removed at the moments when the Name of God is mentioned. (See also the Bristol custom in (a) above, which dates back to the late eighteenth century.)


Q.2 There is no evidence for the wearing of hats in operative practice.


Q.3 There cannot be any association between the slang word `tile' and the Tyling of the Lodge. The O.E.D. date, 1823, for the slang word, would preclude any link with practices which were common in 1738, 1745, etc., as shown above.


Q.4 The Pilgrim Lodge practice, based on the Schroeder (German) ritual of c. 1790, makes the hat a symbol of freedom or equality, and the Cand. is hatless until the end of his ceremony, when his hat is formally returned to him. The Lodge adopted this ritual in c. 1850.


            In all those cases where the W.M. alone wears the hat, the symbolism is clearly reversed, because the hat, in those cases, is a symbol of leader‑ship, rule or power.




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45.                                                           ON MASONIC VISITING


Q.  Could you give us any information on the origin of Masonic visiting?


A.  The practice of visiting is one of the oldest customs in the Craft, dating back to the earliest days of operative Masonry. Practically every version of our Old Charges, from 1583 onwards, contains a rule on the subject. The following is from the Beaumont MS., of 1690 (I quote this version because the English is easy to read, but all the texts are very much alike on this point):


And also yt every Mason receive and cherish every strang[e] Mason when they come to their country and sett them to Worke as the mannor is ... if he have mould stones in ye place, he shall sett him a fortnight at least to worke & give him his pay, & if he have no stones he shall refresh him wth mony to ye next Lodg.


            In effect, every lodge attached to a large building job became a visiting centre for masons in search of employment, in the sure knowledge that they would find work, if available, or else get hospitality and help towards their next call.


            Later, when operative trade‑controls began to break down, the lodges gradually acquired the character of social and benevolent clubs, and now the visiting took on a more convivial aspect.


            It is interesting to see that the newly‑erected Grand Lodge, in the first Book of Constitutions, 1723, made a regulation strongly advocating the practice of inter‑lodge visiting:


[Reg.] XI. All particular Lodges are to observe the same Usages as much as possible; in order to which, and for cultivating a good Understanding among Free‑Masons, some Members out of every Lodge shall be deputed to visit the other Lodges as often as shall be thought convenient.


            As late as 1919, the Constitutions still contained Rule 149, almost in the same terms as the above, but the modern rule `enjoined' only the Master and Wardens to visit.


            In the early eighteenth century we begin to find lodge minutes and occasional by‑laws and regulations governing the custom of visiting, and it is from these old records that we trace how most of our modern practices have developed.


            The proper precautions regarding visitors to lodges must have been rather slack in the early years of the Grand Lodge, and with the publication, in 1730, of Prichard's famous exposure, Masonry Dissected, Grand Lodge was compelled to take action. The minute of 15 December




THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               109


1730 was the first official step towards a proper control of visiting, and it was also the first official regulation relating to the present‑day Signature Book:


Proposed till otherwise Ordered by the Grand Lodge, that no Person whatsoever should be admitted into Lodges unless some Member of the Lodge then present would vouch for such visiting Brothers being a regular Mason, and the Member's name to be entred against the Visitor's Name in the Lodge Book, which Proposal was unanimously agreed to.


            A nice example of the manner in which this regulation was observed appears in the By‑Laws of the Lodge held at the `Shakespear's head in little Marlborough Street St. James' (now the Lodge of Friendship, No. 6):


Ordain'd Augt. 7, 1736.. .


            To prevent at all Times ye Admission of Persons not Masons, into ye Lodge, no Visitor shall be admitted, unless some one of ye Brethren present is able to avouch yt . . . he is a worthy Brother, or unless such ample Satisfaction be by him giv'n to those Deputed to receive him, as shall put that Matter beyond all Dispute. The so recommending Bror, shall withdraw and see if he do personally know any Visitor thus offering before he can be admitted into ye Lodge. He must certifie it to the Brethren present and then, with Leave from ye Chair, he may be introduced.


            In the Lodge of Antiquity (now No. 2), in 1736, a minute records that there were five visitors, who paid one shilling each for their evening's entertainment. Three of them were from `named lodges', and two are recorded as `St. Johns', i.e., they were unattached Masons.


            At the Lodge at the Swan and Rummer, in Finch Lane, London, there was a By‑Law in 1726 requiring all visitors to pay one shilling, and the names of their lodges were to be entered in the Lodge Book, `... the Better to give us an opportunity of Returning their visits'. This is probably one of the earliest records of the practice of a regular exchange of visits, a custom which became extremely popular later on.


            In the same code of By‑Laws there is record of the W.M. having the right to invite two guests (gratis?) on Initiation nights, and the Wardens were allowed one guest apiece. (Records of the L. of Antiquity, No. 2, vol. i, p. 41.) At the Old King's Arms Lodge, No. 28, the W.M. read a letter on 17 November 1735, announcing a general `Invitation from the Stewards Lodge', which gave the dates of their four meetings annually, `... where the Visit of the Master Masons belonging to this Society [i.e., to Lodge No. 28] would be always acceptable'. At the same Lodge, in 1743, the Dining Fee was fixed at 2s. 6d. and members were allowed to introduce


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any other Brother belonging to a regular Lodge on paying 2s. 6d.... Apparently, this was only the price of the dinner, because the subscription for a visitor was raised (at the same time) from 1s. to 2s., which doubtless paid for more potent refreshment.


            The minutes of the Lodge of Emulation, No. 21, show that the practice of `Public Visits' (i.e., exchange visiting) had developed quite strongly in the last quarter of the eighteenth century:


March 9th, 1778.

... proposed that a Public Visit be return'd in form to the Tuscan Lodge, which was agreed to unanimously.


            The record of a return visit six weeks later shows that the visitors comprised a full team, `Masters, Wardens, and Officers of the Tuscan Lodge'. Emulation had some wealthy men amongst its members, and the visitor's fee was fixed, in 1809, at 10s. 6d., which was a lot of money in those days. A more realistic minute appears in the records of the Union Lodge, No. 52, Norwich, in May 1810, when it was resolved that . . visiting Brethren be charged the price of a Bottle of Wine'. This was more akin to the old Scottish lodge custom of `paying the club', which involved each man present contributing a fixed amount at the beginning of the evening's entertainment or sharing the cost equally at the end.




Q.  There seems to be some ambiguity in Rule 127 (ii) in the Book of Constitutions as to the rights of visiting pertaining to an unattached Brother. Does it mean that a Brother who resigns from his Lodge may visit only one Lodge once, or any Lodge once?


A.  The rule is actually quite clear but, perhaps because it seems to be over‑generous, there is a tendency to misinterpret it. Rule 127 (i) deals with Brethren excluded under rules 148 or 181. A Brother so excluded is barred from attending any Lodge or Lodge of Instruction until he again becomes a subscribing member of a Lodge.


            B. of C. Rule 127 (ii) says:


(ii) In any other case [i.e. if he simply resigns from his Lodge or Lodges] he shall not be permitted to attend any one Lodge more than once until he a g a i n becomes a subscribing member of a Lodge .. .




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This means he may visit any or every Lodge under English Constitution once, and once only; but he must sign the Attendance‑book appending the word `unattached', and giving the name and number of the Lodge of which he was last a subscribing member.



47.                                           THE NETWORK OVER THE PILLARS


Q.  The explanations of the Second Tracing Board in many different workings describe the Pillars enriched with network, lily‑work, etc. Later they say:


They [i.e. the Pillars] were considered finished when the network or canopy was thrown over them.


            Two questions arise out of this passage:


(1) What does the final word `them' refer to?

(a) The two pillars complete, in toto, or

(b) The globes with which the pillars were adorned?


(2) Do the two references to network relate to the same thing or to different things? In replying to this, will you consider the Biblical references, and also the suggestion (in the Trans. of the Leics. L. of Research, 1956 - 7, p. 39) that they were simply designed as protection against birds?


A.  Your questions are more difficult than you imagine. But, first, let it be clear that the ritual quotation is not Biblical; it is a piece of ritual embroidery expressing only the ideas of the author of that part of the ritual. It follows that we are not bound to explain the Biblical text to suit the quotation, but only according to the words of Holy Writ.


            Unfortunately, the latter are somewhat obscure and the renderings into English are not always precise. The relevant passages are in I Kings, VII, verses 17 - 20, 41, 42, and in Jeremiah LII, verses 22, 23. I have already indicated (in the article on `Pillars and Globes', etc., AQC 75, pp. 206 - 7) that we cannot be entirely sure, from the text, whether the pillars were surmounted only with bowl‑shaped chapiters, or whether they had additional bowls or globes above the chapiters. Generally, I believe that the accepted view is that the pillars were surmounted by two `features', (a) chapiters, and (b) `globes or bowls'. (The reasons for reopening this part of the problem will appear below.)


Now let us turn to your Q.2. There was only one kind of `Network' (which should not be confused with the seven festoons of `chains' on


112                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK


each pillar). What the `Networks' were intended for is a puzzle, but Hebrew scholars, ancient and modern, are agreed that their purpose was decorative; there is no suggestion of a utilitarian purpose. (I have seen them drawn as rigid metal `grilles', such as might be used to protect a jeweller's window!) The Hebrew word has several meanings, all suggestive of `interlacing', i.e., network, lattice‑work, grille or grating, chequer‑work or mesh. Rashi and Kimchi, two famous medieval commentators, agreed that the chequer‑work was formed `like palm‑branches', implying a kind of angular mesh or trellis‑work; and the Geneva Bible speaks of `grates', suggesting flat, rigid grilles. Rashi adds that they were `shaped like a ball', which also implies a rigid grille designed to enclose the globe completely.


            Dr. Herz, the late Chief Rabbi, who was a great scholar, stated in his commentary that `the capitals were decorated with tracery', and he identifies the `Networks' with tracery. The Geneva Bible (I Kings, vii, 17) says `Hee made grates like networke, . . .' and shows an illustration of one of the pillars surmounted by a globe, which is covered with inter‑laced metal strap‑work or chequer‑work, so as to appear almost as though the patterns had been carved in low relief. This would seem to agree with Rashi's idea of a net or grille fitting closely over the `globe'.


            Now you may see why I reopened the `bowls or globes' question at the beginning of this long and complex problem. The nature of the `Networks' would depend very much on the objects they were intended to cover. If the crown of the pillar was a bowl, it could be covered with a rigid grate, or a pliable `Network'. If it was a globe, any kind of rigid grille would have had to be attached, either to the pillar or to the globe itself; but a pliable mesh might have been used without any such fixing.1


I do not believe anyone can be sure of the answer to these questions. My own view is that the `Networks' were of some sort of pliable mesh, and this is largely based on the details of the rows of pomegranate decorations which were attached to them. I think we are all agreed that the `Networks' or `grilles', whatever they were, were designed only as a decoration for the upper part of the pillars, and that they did not cover the pillars down to the ground. The Leicester suggestion, that the `Networks' were simply a protection from birds, may be a valid one, but I am inclined to doubt it.


            1 See `Nets' hanging from `Bowls' in illustration on p. 273.


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48.                                           ‘WILL YOU BE OFF OR FROM?’


Q.  `Will you be off or from?' Is this a test‑question or a `catch‑question'? Please explain.


A.  This is not a catch‑question. It is a question in what is known, in Scottish working, as the `short method' of passing or raising the Lodge from one degree to another. Let us assume that the Lodge is in the first degree and the next item of business is `to pass Brother N. to the Second Degree'.


            The Master orders the Lodge to be proved tyled in the usual manner, and the Brethren all stand to order `while the Lodge is being passed'. The Master then asks the Senior Warden: `Will you be off or from?' The S.W. replies: `From' (if the Lodge is going up to the degree). The Master then says: `From what to what?' The S.W. says: `From the Degree of E.A. to that of Fellowcraft'. The Master then says: `By virtue of the Authority vested in me as Master of this Lodge, I declare it closed in the E.A. Degree' (gives knocks of E.A. Degree) `and opened in the Degree of Fellowcraft' (gives knocks of F.C. Degree). And that is that! Very simple and very quick - as opposed to all the usual questions about squares, etc. NoTE: If the Lodge is coming down, the S.W. will answer 'Off 'instead of `From' - to be followed, of course, by the Master asking: `Off what to what?


This method of getting the Lodge up and down from one degree to another is quite popular and is much used by the Scottish country Lodges. It is also used in all Lodges when coming down from M.M. at the end of a raising - unless there is no more Business, when the Lodge is closed finally on the third (by the Wardens giving the substituted secrets, etc.). The Scottish working also allows the Lodge being finally closed on the second.


            When this question came in, in 1963, I was under the impression that the `Off or From' was purely Scottish practice. I therefore sent it to Bro. G. S. Draffen, M.B.E., then S.G.W. of the Grand Lodge of Scot‑land. He, very kindly, furnished the answer printed above, which, I hasten to add, is perfectly correct. Scottish influence in Craft customs has always been so strong that one would expect to find similar practices in use overseas and soon after the Summons was issued, a number of letters came in, from Brethren in England and overseas, pointing out that the answer was incomplete. In particular, a note that the `Short Method' is used in Derbyshire started me on a search for early English usage. I found that it was in print, in the two most important English exposures of the 1760s, when it was used in the course of testing Candidates and Visitors, but not as a `Short Method' of raising or lowering


114                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK


the Lodge from one degree to another. The following is from the Master's Part Catechism, in Three Distinct Knocks, 1760:


Mas. Will you be of [sic] or from?

Ans. From.

            Mas. From what, Brother?

Ans. From an enter'd Apprentice to a Fellow‑Craft.

            Mas. Pass, Brother.


            This was followed by the (then customary) P.G. and P.W. leading to the 2! and further questions embodying the Tn. and Wd. of the F.C. The same text also contained a chapter describing the examination of a visitor `at the Door of a Free‑Mason's Lodge', in which the `Of or From' appears twice, once with the word `Of and once as `Off'.


            In Ireland, Scotland, certain Canadian jurisdictions, California, Texas, and doubtless in many other places too, the question `Will you be off or from?' is still used as part of the `Entrusting' and subsequent testing of candidates, i.e., for passing from the grip of one degree to the one immediately above, and also from the pass‑grips to the second and third to the proper grips of these degrees. The interrogator poses the question, `Will you be off or from?' and the interrogated always answers, `From'. The former then says, `From what to what?' and the latter replies, for example, `FROM the grip of an E.A. Mason to the pass‑grip of a F.C. Mason', or `From the pass‑grip of a F.C. Mason to the grip of the same', or `From the grip of a F.C. Mason to the pass‑grip of a M.M.', etc., etc., as the case may be. The answer to the original question is never `Off'.


            Bro. J. Pendrill, Prov. G. Secretary, Warwicks., writes to say that the `Off or From' questions are also used in Scotland for testing visitors to Lodges.


            Bro. B. Kelham, Secretary of Lodge No. 278, Gibraltar, says that the questions are also used in Derbyshire, and possibly in other English Provinces, as the `Short Method of Raising (or Reducing) the Lodge'.


            Bro. C. R. J. Donnithorne, Dist. G. Secretary of the District Grand Lodge of the Far East, writes from Hong Kong:


In Scottish Lodges here it is the Junior Warden who gives the answers when the Lodge is `going up' from first to second degree and `coming down' again. The Senior Warden replies to the questions when moving to the third degree and coming down again. Lodges here also close finally in the third degree in the manner mentioned in your notice, and this means that `any other business' after the conferment of a degree is always dealt with before the degree working.




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49.                                                          LONDON GRAND RANK


Q.  I have to propose a Toast to the `Holders of London Grand Rank'. Could you please give me some factual information on the subject?


A.  It began on 4 December 1907, when, as reported in the Grand Lodge Proceedings, the Grand Master, H.R.H. Prince Arthur, Duke of Con‑naught, feeling


. . that special merit on the part of London Brethren is not and can‑not at present be adequately recognized in the Metropolis as it is in the respective Provinces and Districts, is desirous that power should be given to confer upon a certain number of Past Masters of London Lodges a distinction for long and meritorious service, equivalent to what is known as Provincial or District Grand Rank.'


At first, there was to be a limit of 150 awards annually; nowadays there are approximately 600 per annum. At its inception the distinction was known as London Rank, and the first awards were made in 1908.


            It was not until June, 1939, that the title was altered so as to bring it into line with Provincial honours, and the new title became `London Grank Rank', but without any actual change in its status.


            The distinction is awarded `for long and meritorious services' to a London Lodge. Recommendations can come only from London Lodges, and all Past Masters, of and in the Lodge, must be invited to the nominating meeting, or Selection Committee, which is specially convened for that purpose. A Brother must be a P.M. of five years standing before he is eligible for recommendation.


            There are some 1700 Lodges in the London area, and, on average, one Lodge in every three is invited to nominate a P.M. Thus, every London Lodge has the opportunity to nominate a Brother at roughly three‑year intervals.


            It is a reward to the recipient for services rendered, and, indirectly, to the recommending Lodge. Those modest Brethren who say they do not know what it is, or why they received it, ought to know better, or they should be quietly ashamed of their ignorance.


            L.G.R. is rank without Office; the recipient has no duties to perform in connection with his new rank, but he has responsibilities, because he was selected by his Lodge for that honour - responsibilities to serve, to guide, to help and advise.


            The London Grand Rank Association is the organization through which the holders of L.G.R. exercise their corporate functions as a society of responsible members of the Craft. The L.G.R.A. is not an


116                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK


official body, though its usefulness is recognized and esteemed by the authorities of the Grand Lodge. But the holders of L.G.R. join it voluntarily; they are not obliged to join.


            In the London area, L.G.R. has precedence over Provincial or District Grand Rank, but L.G.R. has no special status in the Provinces, where the holder rates simply as a P.M.


            Provincial Grand Rank (or Office) takes its proper seniority only in its own Province, i.e., a Prov. G. Officer of Essex is, strictly speaking, only a P.M. when visiting a Lodge in Kent, though he would, of course, receive the usual courtesies.



50.                                                                   ROSETTES


Q.  What is the `symbolism' or purpose of the three rosettes on the M.M. apron?


A.  The rosettes originally must have been pure decoration, and there are numerous early 18th century illustrations, etc., which show rosettes used purely in that form. With the standardization of the regalia at the Union, the two rosettes were adopted for the F.C. apron, and three rosettes for the M.M. It is, of course, possible to draw a symbolism from all this, but my own opinion is that the rosettes are used exactly in the same way as two or three `stripes' are used in the Army.



51.                               THE KNOB, OR BUTTON, ON A P.M.'S COLLAR


Q.  The projecting knob or button on a P.M.'s Collar; does it represent the `Beehive'?


A.  For those readers who are unfamiliar with our regalia, it should be explained that under English Constitution the Master and Officers of the Lodge wear collars of light blue ribbon, four inches wide. They are shaped to fit snugly on the shoulders and they come down to a V at the front. There is a vertical seam at the join, where the ribbon forms the V, and that is usually covered by a strip of silver braid with a dome‑shaped braid button at the centre. The Past Master's collar is the same, but it has a central band of silver braid a quarter of an inch wide all round the collar, finishing at the centre front, under the button.


            The Beehive, depicted on many of the early Tracing Boards, had virtually disappeared from English usage at the time of the Union in



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1813. The domed button was never intended to represent the Beehive, but was probably designed as a convenient means of hiding the raw ends of the braid that meet on the seam of the collar.


            There is useful evidence that the dome button was not introduced until some time after the standardization of regalia in the Book of Constitutions of 1815. Before that date, there are numerous portraits of prominent 18th century Masons wearing collars of ribbon or cloth, with a metal or braid ring encircling the front of the collar, or stitched to it, thereby providing a loop or hook, from which the jewels were suspended. In these portraits there is no trace of a button, either flat or domed.



52.                                           THE LADDER AND ITS SYMBOLS IN THE



Q.  Can you give me any information concerning the symbols on the Ladder in the First Tracing Board. Should there be only three, or seven symbols, and how many rungs in the Ladder?


A.  The emblems on the `Jacob's Ladder' in the First T.B. are by no means uniform, and it is fairly certain they are mid or late eighteenth century introductions, because there is no trace of them in the earlier rituals. An examination of the early T.B.s on which the emblems appear shows several points of interest: (1) On Craft T.Bs., the Ladders are sometimes drawn with only three rungs, but they are usually longer, and some have three extra thick rungs, representing the three religious virtues. Most of the well known designs show the Ladders with their heads disappearing in the clouds. The Ladder, however, is not purely a Craft symbol; it is to be found in several of the additional degrees.


            The story of Jacob's dream and `the Ladder, the top of which reached to the Heavens' appears in the Lecture on the First Tracing Board and in the Fourth Section of the First Lecture, where the Ladder is said to have `many staves or rounds, which point out as many moral virtues; but three principal ones, which are, Faith, Hope and Charity'.


            Those three virtues are described and interpreted at length, and we are told that the Ladder rests on the V.S.L. (as it does in most illustrations of the First T.B.) because


... by the doctrines contained in that Holy Book, we are taught to believe in the dispensation of Divine Providence; which belief strengthens our Faith, and enables us to ascend the first step . . .




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(2) The early designs indicated the three virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity, by the initial letters, F., H., and C., between the rungs. Bro. T. O. Haunch (in AQC, Vol. 75, pp. 190, 194) believes that the initial letters came first and that Josiah Bowring, a famous designer of Tracing Boards, c. 1785‑1830, introduced three female figures to re‑place them. They appear in many Tracing Boards nowadays, the first holding a Bible, the second with an Anchor, and the third with children nestling at her skirts.


            Several drawings of the 1870s and later omit the figures, but show a Cross, an Anchor, and a Chalice with a pointing Hand. Presumably the Chalice and Hand are meant to represent Charity, but they are probably illustrations of a piece of religious mythology, depicting the Holy Grail which was snatched up to Heaven by God's Hand.


            There are many different versions of the symbols and their arrangement, but most of the Boards that contain the three figures also depict the angels of Jacob's dream, ascending and descending the Ladder.


(3) If seven virtues were to be symbolized, I assume that the additional four would be the Cardinal Virtues, and although I have examined a great number of early T.B.s I cannot recall any in which the four Cardinal Virtues are symbolized in addition to the other three.


(4) Apart from the three virtues, there is one more symbol which appears regularly on or near the Ladder, and that is the `Key'. Bowring, for very good reason, showed it hanging from one of the rungs. It is one of the old symbols of Masonry, and it is mentioned in our earliest ritual documents, i.e., the Edinburgh Register House MS., 1696, and its sister texts:


Q.  Which is the key of your lodge

A.  a weel hung tongue


Many of the early texts expanded the `Key - Tongue' symbolism, saying that it was lodged in `the bone box' (i.e., the mouth) and that it is the key to the Mason's secrets. But one of the best answers on this point is in the Sloane MS., c. 1700, which was the earliest ritual document that contained the words `the tongue of good report', which have survived in our ritual to this day:


Q.  wt is the Keys of your Lodge Doore made of?

A.  it is not made of Wood Stone Iron or steel or any sort of mettle but the tongue of a good report behind a brothers back as well as before his face.


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120                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK


53.                                           SYMBOLISM AND REMOVAL OF GLOVES


Q.  Does the wearing of White Gloves have a symbolic meaning? Opinions seem to vary as to whether they should be removed, by W.M., Wardens and Candidates for communicating the `tokens' and when taking the Obligations. Is this a matter in which opinions may rightly differ, or is one way or the other irregular?


A.  It would not be difficult to find a whole series of reasons for the removal of one or both gloves at particular stages in the ceremonies, but the Grand Lodge regulation is quite specific on this point: As laid down by the Grand Lodge in June 1950, it is left to the discretion of the Master of each Lodge to decide, after considering the interests of the members generally, whether to request that they be worn.


            (a) The Board considers that when such a request is made it should cover all present, and not, as sometimes occurs, the Officers only.


            (b) The Board recommends the Grand Lodge to rule that if gloves are worn they should be worn at all times except


(i) By candidates for the three degrees.

            (ii) By the Master Elect when actually taking his Obligations on the V.S.L.


            Gloves would thus not be removed by the Master (or Wardens or temporary occupant of their Chairs or by any Brother assisting them) in the course of entrusting or examining candidates, or when investing Officers.


            (c) The Board sees no objection to Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts wearing gloves when not actually being passed or raised. (Extract from Report of Board of General Purposes adopted 10 June 1964.) White gloves are worn in most of the Lodges under English Constitution, but it is the W.M. who decides this, and the note `White Gloves' is usually printed on the Lodge Summons. As to the removal of gloves, the rulings under paragraph (b) above, give a clear answer: gloves are not to be worn by candidates for all three degrees, and must be removed by the Master Elect when taking his Obligations. There is evidence for the antiquity of the candidate's ungloved hand in one of the earliest descriptions of the `posture' during the Obligation, in Prichard's Masonry Dissected, 1730, where the Candidates speaks of `... my naked Right Hand on the Holy Bible ...'.


            As to symbolism, I am inclined to believe that gloves came into Speculative usage, like the aprons, as a direct heritage from operative practice, both aprons and gloves being essential items in a mason's working apparel. This would suggest that the prime symbolism of gloves




THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               121


(and aprons) is to emphasize the operative origins of Speculative Masonry.


            Gloves have had a wide ranging symbolism since the middle ages, in legal, military, and liturgical use. Our custom of wearing white gloves, as with our aprons of white lambskin, is probably associated with the idea of purity. (See also Q. 147, p. 319.)



54.                                                                   THE RISINGS


Q.  What is the derivation and purpose of the words spoken by the W.M. on the Risings, when he asks if `... any brother has aught to propose for the good of Freemasonry in general . . .', etc.?


A.  Essentially, the Risings are a part of the formalities of Closing the lodge, and it is in that portion of lodge‑work that we should look for early evidence of the procedure. Formal `Opening' and `Closing' of the lodge was established in the Continental lodges c. 1742‑1760, and did not make its appearance (in print) in English practice until the 1760s.


            Le Macon Demasque, a French exposure of 1751, in its description of the preliminaries before closing the lodge, states that the Master, addressing the Warden, asked:


has no one . . . any representations to make upon the matters in which we have worked? Speak brothers.


            These words were incorporated in the first English translation of that work, Solomon in all his Glory, 1766, and this is the earliest evidence I have been able to trace of anything approaching the purpose of the Risings. But, apart from this, there seems to be no evidence in early eighteenth century practice of anything resembling the Risings. Nor can I trace any hint of such procedure in the important later works of Preston, Browne, etc. Preston, for example, has a brief chapter on the `Ceremony of opening and closing a Lodge', which must have been established procedure at that time (1775), but there is no trace of any‑thing resembling the Risings. Nor is there anything on the subject in Browne's Master Key, 1798, where the full ritual and procedural detail would lead us to expect some indications of Rising practices.


            I am, therefore, of the opinion that Risings were probably introduced at the Union of the Grand Lodges, 1813, or soon afterwards, as a result of the work of the Lodge of Reconciliation.




122                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK




I believe they were linked, in some way, with the Senior Warden's duty `to see that every Brother has had his due' - itself a link with the Old Charges. (See AQC, Vol. 74, p. 151.) The Risings were designed, primarily, to ensure that every Brother in the lodge would have a proper opportunity of making proposals, or initiating discussion, on matters of interest to the lodge and the craft.


            Why three Risings? The threefold Risings are to be compared, in origin, to the threefold proclamation of the new W.M., or to public proclamations which were thrice repeated in order to ensure that they were heard by all.


            This necessarily leads to the conclusion that the threefold Risings were not at first intended as three separate opportunities for three different types of communication, which is the present‑day practice.




The wording of the formula in which the W.M. asks `... if any Brother has aught to propose . . .' seems to imply that every Brother has the right to answer, i.e., the First Rising was not originally reserved to the lodge Secretary for reading communications from the Grand Lodge, as it is nowadays.


            Clearly, a standardization of practice in regard to the Risings must be a great advantage and, although they are not mentioned in the Book of Constitutions, or in the Points of Procedure in the Masonic Year Book, the Grand Lodge does, in fact, recommend the following procedure:


In London:


1. First Rising - Communications from the Grand Lodge.


            2. Second Rising - Propositions for new and joining members; notices of motion.


3. Third Rising - General communications; apologies for absence, and other matters properly raised by members of the lodge.


In Provincial lodges:


First Rising - As No. 1 above.


            Second Rising - Communications from the Prov. Grand Lodge.


Third Rising - A combination of Nos. 2 and 3 above.


            Emergency meetings. The Risings are omitted at emergency meetings because lodges are not empowered to deal with any business other than that printed on the lodge summons.




THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               123


55.                                                            EMULATION WORKING


Q.  `Emulation' working. Is it the original or the oldest form now worked in England? Is it the form now practised by the majority of Lodges in England? Are figures available on this point?


A.  Emulation is one of the oldest post‑Union workings. It may well be the oldest, but in view of rival claims and in the absence of complete proof, this question cannot be answered with certainty.


            There are two points about Emulation that seem to put it into a class of its own:


(a) As a Lodge of Instruction, it goes back to 1823, with continuous existence since then.


(b) It is today the best organized of all the `named' rituals, having had a governing body to `protect' it throughout its history, and in that respect, I believe, it far outstrips all other `named' forms.


            Bro. C. F. W. Dyer, in his Emulation - A Ritual To Remember, which is the standard history of the Emulation Lodge of Improvement, published in connection with its sesqui‑centennial in 1973, shows that the founders experienced difficulties in its formation, because Lodges of Instruction at that time had to be sponsored by a Lodge. The Emulation founders had decided that their Lodge of Instruction was to be for Master Masons only (as it is today), and the Lodges which were invited to act as sponsor were not ready to accept that restriction. Eventually, the Emulation Lodge of Instruction was sponsored, on 27 November 1823, by the Lodge of Hope, then No. 7, whose Master, Joseph Dennis, was one of Emulation's original members.


            Is Emulation `the original or oldest form now worked in England?' It is certainly one of the oldest, but it would be impossible to say whether it is the `original'. As Bro. Dyer explains:


No official record has ever been found of the Lodge of Reconciliation Ritual that was approved by the Grand Lodge. (op. cit. p. 22.)


Emulation is probably as near to the forms then prescribed as any of the workings surviving from that period. Its principal virtue is that it has enjoyed a proper continuity of control of its forms ever since its foundation.


            Are figures available? Outside the London area, our Grand Lodge does not keep records of the particular forms of ritual worked by all the Lodges on its Roll; hence no figures for each working are available.



124                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            We tend to think in terms of the older and best known versions, Emulation, Stability, Bristol, Oxford, Humber, Taylor's, Logic, Universal, West End, etc., etc., but there are countless other forms. Emulation has achieved a widespread popularity and has played a great part as the basis for many workings that have stemmed from it. Perhaps the best answer to this question is from the dust jacket of Bro. Dyer's book:


The work of well over half the lodges under the English Constitution and the standard work of several overseas Constitutions is based on the Emulation method.


            During the past century there have been printed rituals which claimed (or were believed) to represent the Emulation working, `but none of these has had any authorization from the Emulation Lodge of Improvement', which has firmly resisted the temptation to compile, sponsor, or authorize a printed ritual.


            However, times change, and it now seems to the Committee that reasons once cogent have progressively become less so. They feel that the time has arrived when a change of policy may be of advantage to those Lodges which prefer to work the Emulation system of ritual. This book is the result.


            These words are from Bro. Oskar Klagge's Introduction to the Emulation Ritual, published in 1969, the first officially authorized edition `Compiled by and published with the approval of the Committee of the Emulation Lodge of Improvement' and, despite the many publications that appeared in the second half of the 19th century claiming to give the Lectures `As taught in . . . the Emulation Lodge of Improvement' (e.g. The Perfect Ceremonies, The Lectures of the Three Degrees, etc.), the first version of the Lectures authorized by the governing body of Emulation did not appear in print until 1975. (See Dyer, Emulation, A Ritual to Remember, 1973, pp. 76‑7, 108‑9, 212‑5.)



56.                                                       MASONIC `FIRE'


Q.  What is the origin and the correct method of Masonic `Fire' after toasts?


A.  The `Fire' seems to have been adapted from the military custom of firing guns or muskets after toasts. The records of the Preston Gild Merchant describe an annual procession by the Mayor, with an escort of soldiers and representatives of the Trade Companies, to each of the



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               125 


city gates, at which toasts were drunk, each health being followed by a `volley of shott from the musketiers attending'. One of the earliest descriptions of Masonic `Fire' appears in Le Secret des Francs‑Masons, a French exposure of 1742, from which the following extracts are drawn: 1


All the terms they use in drinking are borrowed from the Artillery .. . The Bottle is called Barrel . . . Wine is called red Powder, & [Water] white Powder . . . The Routine which they observe in drinking does not permit the use of glasses, for there would not be a whole glass left after they had finished: they use only goblets, which they call Cannon. When they drink in ceremony, the order is given: Take your Powder; everybody rises, & the Worshipful says: Charge. Then each of them fills his goblet. The commands follow: Present Arms: Take Aim. Fire. Grand Fire. . . . On the first they stretch their hands to the goblet; on the second, they raise them as though presenting arms, & on the last, they drink . . . they all watch the Worshipful so that they keep perfect time throughout. When taking up their goblets they carry them forwards a little at first, then to the left breast & across to the right: then, in three movements, they replace their goblets on the Table clap their hands three times & every member cries out three times Vivat . there is no Military Academy where the drill is performed with greater exactitude, precision, pomp, & majesty . . . you will see no Stragglers... . The noise as they place their goblets on the table is quite considerable .. . a clear & uniform stroke, hard enough to shatter any but the strongest vessels .. .


            Many different versions of the `Fire' appeared in print in the following centuries and there is still enormous variety in present‑day English procedure. Moreover, there is no authority that would justify the description of any particular procedure as `correct'. In the London area, where there are some 1700 lodges, the `Fire' forms a series of seven triads, their rhythm being set by the W.M. (or the Brother giving the toast) as he calls the orders:


P...,L.. ,R..;P.. ,L.. ,R...;P...,L.. ,R..;

One, Two, [Gavel = Three].2 1 - 2 - 3; 1 - 2 - 3; 1 - 2 - 3.


            Finally, in answer to many correspondents who have asked `Why must the dining‑room be tyled during the Firing‑routine?', it is perhaps necessary to explain that the modern P.L.R. is only a kind of airy triangle drawn with the finger‑tip, but it was not always thus. Despite the numerous variations that have appeared since those days, the careful reader may find the answer in the quotation from 1742, above.


            1 The Early French Exposures, pp. 62‑3. Publ. by the Q.C. Lodge; it contains a collection of twelve of the earliest texts, all in English translation.

            2 Up to this point, the W.M. has been speaking; now the assembled Brethren take over, by clapping `three times three'.



126                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK




Q.  What is the significance of the twenty‑one knocks in Craft Fire and why are they usually given in the time (or rhythm) of the F.C. knocks?


A.  They are not twenty‑one `knocks'. The first three sets of P.L.R. were ab origine signs, or a substitute for signs. The next three `moves' (usually given as `One, Two, Bang!') are merely rhythm‑makers, rather like a starter's gun. Whatever the preliminaries were and are, the actual knocks, in firing, are the `three times three' at the end, whether they are made by hand‑claps or with firing glasses.


            But it is almost impossible to explain all the different versions of the `Fire' in this way. Outside London, many curious variations are practised. In one of our Midlands' Provinces they start with `P.L.R. Bang!' thrice repeated, and then continue with the `One, Two', etc., as above.


            One Australian visitor to Q.C. Lodge demonstrated five different versions practised in his country, each with its own peculiar name and purpose, and several of them requiring a good deal of physical agility. But the `Three times three' appears to be the standard practice, generally used wherever the Craft `Fire' is given.


            I can find no trace of the F.C. rhythm being used; so far as I am aware, only the E.A. knocks are used, at great or lesser speed, according to taste, or to local custom.


            I have indeed noticed that the `caller' sometimes announces the P.L.R. with a pause at the wrong moment, which would seem to suggest the F.C. rhythm, but I believe this is simply a quirk of the `caller'. It would surely be improper to give the `Fire' in the F.C. rhythm, when E.A.s are likely to be present at Table.





A.  This is usually given in the normal rhythm, but, instead of `clapping', the right hand taps lightly on the left forearm. Our Grand Lodge has no `official' view or ruling on the practice, which appears to be largely a matter of local custom.


            In some places it is used at the end of a toast to `Absent Brethren'; elsewhere, as a salute to `Departed Brethren'. I discussed the question with Bro. E. Newton, formerly Assistant Librarian of the Grand Lodge, and we have both seen the `Silent Fire' used for both purposes.


            His view is that the Fire, when given properly, is intended as a hearty, enthusiastic (and noisy) salute, and should be given with the proper



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               127


zest. `Silent Fire' is a contradiction in terms, an anomaly, and it is perhaps just as well that the practice is gradually dying out.


            With all due deference to old established customs, I agree readily with this view.





Q.  Is it correct to omit the `Fire' when there is no responder to a toast?


A.  I know that this omission is usual in certain Provinces and in some Lodges, but the question `correct or not' does not really apply. Apart from the general prohibition, when non‑Masons or ladies are present, the `Fire' is a matter of custom, not law, and local customs should be respected. The following notes are therefore no more than my personal views, based mainly on London practices.


            Regardless of whether there is a responder to the toast, or not, with the one exception noted under `Silent Fire', above, I can find no reason for omitting the `Fire'. The `Fire' is the completion of the toast and, by long‑standing custom, it is actually a part of the honours accorded to whoever is the subject of the toast. There are numerous long lists of Masonic toasts (going back more than 200 years) including many to the ladies, all of which were drunk, with `Fire', thus transforming them into Masonic toasts.



57.                                                       HOLINESS TO THE LORD


Q.  What is the translation and significance of the words inscribed around the `Porchway' of the Third Degree Tracing Board?


A.  For the sake of many thousands of Brethren who have never seen the words you refer to, and are wondering what all this means, I must point out that they do not appear in the majority of Third Degree Tracing Boards. There is, however, one design which does usually incorporate `the words' nowadays, though they did not appear in the artist's original sketches.


            The Grand Lodge Library possesses two very similar Third Degree T.B. designs in colour, both by John Harris, one dated 1820 and the other 1825. Each of them displays, in the centre of the `coffin' outline, a black‑and‑white chequered pavement leading to an arched porch with its curtains slightly parted to reveal the Sanctum Sanctorum. The semi‑circular arch in both sketches is purely ornamental, i.e., there are no words on it. (One of these designs is illustrated in AQC 75, p. 196.)


128                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            Harris was a famous facsimilist in his day, a painter of miniatures and an architectural draughtsman. Soon after his initiation in 1818, he began to draw, engrave and publish designs for Tracing Boards. His work became deservedly popular and a set of three, submitted in a competition in 1845, were officially adopted by the Emulation Lodge of Improvement, and are in use to this day.


            In the 1870s, when printed rituals began to make their appearance with some regularity, they usually contained pictures of the Tracing Boards, in engraved line drawings, and it is in the Text Book of Free‑masonry, 1870, and in editions of the Perfect Ceremonies from c. 1870 onwards, that we find the Third Degree T.B., based directly on a composite of Harris's two boards of 1820 and 1825, but now drawn with `the words' in very defective Hebrew characters, but fortunately recognizable. Whether Harris was responsible for their introduction is uncertain.


            The words, when you find them, are in Hebrew (i.e., reading from right to left), Kodesh la‑Adonai, and are translated `Holiness to the Lord'. They are the same two words which form the Hebrew motto above the Ark of the Covenant in the coat‑of‑arms of the United Grand Lodge. (See illustration on p. 19 above.) The words would be invisible in any normal vest‑pocket ritual, and, in fact, there are very few of the large printed rituals that show them. I have been unable to trace a single version of the ritual in which the words are mentioned or explained in such a manner as to demand their being included in the Illustration of the 3rd T.B.


            The modern T.B.s in use in our Grand Lodge Temples do not show the words, and I examined many really old Boards in the store‑rooms of the Grand Lodge Museum, without success. It is obvious that `the words' are not an essential part of the Third T.B., and we may accept their inclusion in the Harris design as a simple piece of artistic exuberance, either by Harris himself, or by some later `improver'.


            As to the question of symbolism, I would suggest you read Exodus, Chap. xxviii, vv. 36‑38, which describe how Moses was commanded to prepare a plate of gold, with those two words engraved upon it, to be worn `... upon the forefront of the mitre . . .' of the High Priest. This is one of the instances in which the symbolism is explained in clear and unmistakable language: `... it shall be always upon his forehead, that they [the children of Israel] may be accepted before the Lord'. In this sense every Mason symbolically wears the badge of `Holiness to the Lord'.




THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               129


58.                                                        WEARING TWO COLLARS


Q.  In Lodge, a Brother should wear the regalia of the highest Craft rank that he holds. If appointed to carry out an office in the Lodge, should he wear the collar of that office over the other collar?


A.  The general answer is Yes, especially for an `appointed or elected' office where the Brother will serve in that office for a whole year. For example, a Grand Officer serving his Lodge as Treasurer or Secretary, would wear the light‑blue collar above his dark‑blue. Even in the case of a Grand Officer deputizing temporarily for an absent Officer, e.g., acting as Deacon, he should wear the Deacon's collar over his own dark‑blue. This is the procedure recommended by our Grand Lodge and it applies equally to Provincial and District Grand Officers and to holders of London Grand Rank.


            An exception arises when the W.M. vacates the Chair to enable a Past Master, or a Brother of higher rank, to conduct a ceremony. The rule is that the W.M. retains his collar and `the P.M. must be clothed according to his rank'. (See, `Points of Procedure - Board of General Purposes' in the 1974 Year Book, p. 833.) In the English Installation ceremony, it is customary to invite three senior Brethren to act as S.W., J.W., and I.G., during a portion of the work. I believe that there is no need for those three Brn. to wear the collars of their temporary offices, and in my experience, that is the general practice, probably because the collars are required so soon afterwards, for the Investiture of Officers. But I would not press this view against established Lodge custom, or where it conflicts with the rubric of a particular working.


            In recent years, there seems to be a growing practice, where two collars would be called for, of wearing only the senior collar, but with two jewels; or wearing one collar with the jewel which should be worn with a different collar, e.g., a Provincial Grand Chaplain's jewel on the collar of a Past Asst. Grand Chaplain. My own view is that these practices are to be deprecated.



59.                                                       IMPROPER SOLICITATION


Q.  Why are we forbidden to solicit Candidates? How did the rule arise? Is there a distinction to be drawn between `solicitation' and improper solicitation?


130                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK


A.  Let us first be clear about the rule. There is no rule on the subject of soliciting, either in the Book of Constitutions or in the Points of Procedure listed in the Grand Lodge Year Book. The prohibition against the soliciting of Candidates is implicit in two documents which the Candidate must sign before his Initiation. The first is in the Candidate's portion of the Proposal Form, in which he declares: My application is entirely voluntary.


            The second appears in Rule 162 of the Book of Constitutions, which prescribes the form of Declaration that must be signed by every Candidate before his Initiation:


I . . ., being a free man, and of the full age of twenty‑one years, do declare that, unbiassed by the improper. solicitation of friends, 1 and uninfluenced by mercenary or other unworthy motive, I do freely and voluntarily offer myself a candidate .. .


            There is no `rule' and, therefore, no specific penalty. The ban against soliciting arises out of this requirement that the Candidate shall declare that he comes voluntarily and without improper solicitation. The words in italics above are the crux of the answer to the first question.


            How did the `rule' arise? It cannot have been old operative practice. When a lad was bound apprentice, probably by (or to) his father, it may be assumed that there was no improper solicitation. When he ultimately took his freedom, that was certainly voluntary, and all the information we have relating to oaths, in the Old Charges and in craft Gild practice, show that they were simple oaths of fidelity to the appropriate authorities, i.e., the King, the Master, the Craft, the Gild, or the municipality. But for operative masons, so long as a lad was apprenticed, he would automatically join the lodge to become E.A., and then F.C. or Master, because these were essential stages in his trade career. The questions of voluntary application or improper solicitation simply did not enter into the operative system.


            Early non‑operative and speculative records are curiously silent on these matters; there is no evidence on them in the early exposures, or in any of our oldest lodge minutes. There is, however, some possibility that the `rule' had its roots in the clandestine and improper admissions of Masons, which became a serious problem in England in the 1730s. Even so, there is no textual evidence of a ban against improper solicitation, either in the 1723 or the 1738 Constitutions, or in any of the English exposures of that era.


            1 Author's italics throughout this piece.



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               131


In trying to trace the source of our present regulation on voluntary application and improper solicitation it is essential to view the two ideas as one, which indeed they are, the latter being a natural though strict corollary to the insistence on `voluntary application'; and our earliest evidence on the subject is concerned with this voluntary approach. It appears first in a Q. and A. in the Wilkinson MS., c. 1727:


Q.  How Came you to be Made a Mason

A.  By my own Desire & ye Recomendatn of a friend


A better example appeared in a French exposure, known as the Herault Letter, of 1737, which was reprinted in several English translations at that period. I quote from the opening lines, with my own free translation:


Reception d'un Frey‑Macon [The Herault Letter], 1737


Le Recipiendaire est conduit par                            The Candidate is conducted by

le Proposeur (qui devient son                                  the Proposer (who becomes his

Parrain) dans une Chambre (de la             Sponsor) into one of the Rooms of

Loge) ou it n'y a pas de Lumiere;                            the Lodge where there is no Light;

La on lui demande s'il a la Voca‑                            There he is asked if he has a Voca‑

tion pour etre Recu.                                                  tion [i.e., a calling] to be Received.


            The crux of the matter lies in the word vocation, or calling, i.e., a personal and almost spiritual inner desire to join the Craft. The question was considered so important in 1737 - 8 that it was actually repeated twice more, inside the Lodge, before the Candidate took his Obligation, and always with this same word, Vocation.


            In the period 1738 to 1745 there was a spate of exposures printed in France and Germany, exhibiting the rapid expansion of the ceremonies at that time. To avoid overloading these notes with too much repetition I will merely summarize by saying that, apart from a few trivial publications which were mere catchpennies, every one of the Continental exposures that described the Initiation reproduced this same question (or one in similar terms), and there is no doubt at all that this was the origin of our own well‑known phrase `of my own free will and accord'.


            No useful new exposures were published in England between 1730 and 1760; only a long series of re‑issues of Prichard's work of 1730, and this gap in our English documents makes the foreign productions doubly interesting. But, starting in 1760 we have the first of a whole new series of English exposures, all containing a great deal of Prichard's and earlier material, but all exhibiting some of the expansions that had come into practice in the intervening years.




132                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            The first, and one of the best of the series, was Three Distinct Knocks, published in 1760. The preliminaries to Initiation are not described very well in this text, and the first item that has a bearing on our study appears in the opening words of the Obligation, where we read (for the first time, in print):


I ... Of my own free Will and Accord .. .


J. & B., one of the most popular works in the whole series (it was reprinted many times), was first published in 1762. It contains much more detail, and after the opening ceremony the Candidate


... proposed last Lodge‑Night . . . is in another Room, which is totally dark;


The Wardens come to prepare him and he is


`then asked whether he is conscious of having the Vocation necessary to be received?'


The admission procedure is described in detail, and after three perambulations the Master asks the Candidate again


`Whether you have a desire to become a Mason? And if it is of your own free Will and Choice?'


and the Obligation begins, `I - A.B., of my own Free Will and Accord ..


            Mahhabone and Hiram, both of 1766, are almost word‑for‑word identical with the above. Shibboleth, of 1765, shows a new variation:


Having obtained from him [the Candidate] a frank declaration of his desire of being a Mason .. .


            This is the earliest use of the word `declaration' in this connection; the Obligation begins, `I, C.D., of my own voluntary choice ..


            From 1772 until the early years of the nineteenth century the out‑standing figure in the study and literature of Masonic philosophy and ritual was William Preston, and the next evidence on the development of these themes of `voluntary application' and `improper solicitation' comes from Preston's Illustrations of Masonry, first published in 1772, a work which was greatly enlarged and frequently reprinted in many editions from 1775 onwards.


            In the 1772 edition we find (so far as I am aware) the first version of the Declaration which is required to be made by every Candidate nowadays, and which is prescribed in our Rule 162 of the B. of C. I quote only the first few lines of Preston's version:



To be subscribed, or assented to, by every Candidate for Masonry previous to his Initiation.




THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               133


'I. A.B. do seriously declare, upon my honor, that unbiassed by friends and 'uninfluenced by mercenary motives, I freely and voluntarily offer myself a 'candidate for the mysteries of masonry; ' (1772 edn., pp. 210‑211.)


Preston's 1775 edition did not mention a signed declaration:


A Declaration to be assented to by every Candidate, previous to his being proposed.


            Do you seriously declare, upon your honour, before these gentlemen The Stewards of the Lodge, that unbiassed by friends and uninfluenced by mercenary motives, you freely and voluntarily offer yourself .. .

                                                                                                            (1775 edn., p. 59.)


It is possible that the signed declaration was already in use by this time, but it was not prescribed in the contemporary Constitutions. The first B. of C. of the United Grand Lodge was published in 1815, and there we have the earliest version of the Declaration, as an Official requirement; this is the earliest version which contains the words `improper solicitation':


I, . . . being free by birth, 1 and of the full age of twenty‑one years, do declare that, unbiassed by the improper solicitation of friends, and uninfluenced by mercenary or other unworthy motive, I freely and voluntary 2 offer myself a candidate for the mysteries of masonry.

                                                                                                (B. of C., 1815, pp. 90‑91.)


And so we come to the last of our questions: Is there a distinction to be drawn between solicitation and "improper solicitation"?' This is a most difficult question, largely because the answers will usually depend entirely upon the particular circumstances of each case.


            Assuming that some close friend, or a relative, were to open the subject and express some interest it would be quite proper to tell him all that may be told and to give him a leaflet 3 describing the Craft and its objects. In the case of a really suitable person, the next conversation might easily contain an element of `solicitation', especially if he were to say, `Do you think I ought to join?' Broadly, I am convinced that unless a man has expressed a proper interest in the Craft, asking the kind of questions fully indicative of his interest, any suggestion that he ought to join would be improper solicitation.


            1 The present version says `... being a free man ...'.


            2 The word appears thus in one of our copies in the Q.C. library. Misspellings in the Constitutions are rare; this word should be, of course, `voluntarily'.


            3 e.g., The G.L. of Scotland pamphlet, `The Candidate', in AQC, Vol. 76, p. 121 or Bro. John Dashwood's paper, `What shall we tell the Candidate?'


134                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK


            As a piece of general guidance, I suggest three rules to be followed:


1. The prospective Candidate must have opened the discussion himself.


2. Do not make it easy for him. After he has read and heard all the information that you may properly give him, do not offer to propose him until you have full evidence of his interest and intention.


3. If you have the slightest grounds to suspect his reasons for wanting to join the Craft, any kind of help would be `improper solicitation'.


            These rules, used as guiding principles, should be a sufficient safe‑guard, and I trust that the foregoing may indicate my views on the distinction between proper and `improper' solicitation. I believe that such a distinction can and may be drawn, and this view is confirmed by Bro. the Rev. J. T. Lawrence in his Masonic Jurisprudence (1912 edn., p. 148).


            One final note, which may serve to show how far Masonic ideas can differ. I am informed, by a well‑known Masonic writer and student, that in the American State of Vermont it is customary for groups of Brethren to hold `Invitation Evenings', when selected local business‑men and professional‑men, all non‑Masons, are invited to attend Lectures on Freemasonry and its objects, followed by dinner or refreshment, at which the guests can meet and talk to some of the Masons in their locality.


            The motives may be wholly praiseworthy, the proceedings and their environment may be completely dignified and respectable, yet, to our English way of thinking, this must surely be the most flagrant kind of `improper solicitation'.



60.                                                       BIBLE OPENINGS


Q.  Can you tell me what are the proper page‑openings for the V.S.L. in the three degrees, and are there any official rules on the subject?


A.  Customs vary considerably in different parts of the country, and the following notes are designed to show some of the best‑known procedures. I have added a brief note, in each case, indicating the essential Masonic significance of the passages quoted.


            The earliest French exposure of the ceremonies, Reception d'un Frey‑Macon, states that the E.A. took his Obligation with his right hand on the Gospel of St. John, and this is confirmed by the next‑oldest French version, Le Secret des Francs‑Mapons, of 1742. Several later documents



                                                            THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               135


of this period indicate that the V.S.L. was usually opened at St. John, i, v. 1, `In the beginning was the Word ..


            Three Distinct Knocks, an English exposure of 1760, gave different pages for all three degrees:


1° The Second Epistle of Peter (with its references to brotherly kindness and charity).

            2° The story from Judges, xii, of the test of the Ephraimites.

            3° I Kings, chap. vii. The final details of Solomon's Pillars.


            Cartwright, in his Commentary on the Freemasonic Ritual, cites the procedure in old Yorkshire Lodges where the following is customary:


1° Psalm 133. `Behold how good . . . it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.'


2° Amos, vii, v. 7. `... the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.'


3° Ecclesiastes, xii. `Then the dust shall return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.'


The Bristol working is unusual in that the Master actually quotes - during the three Opening Cermonies - the texts from the pages on which the V.S.L. has to be opened, i.e.:


1° Ruth, ii, v. 19. The story of Ruth and Boaz.


            2!° Judges, xii, vv. 5, 6. The test of the Ephraimites.


3° Gen., iv, v. 22. The birth of Jabal and Jubal, who are mentioned in the Old Charges, from c. 1400 onwards.


            Of course, there is no official Grand Lodge ruling on this question, and few of the `named' rituals prescribe any particular page‑openings for the three degrees.


            Cartwright states that the Perfect Ceremonies, in their editions from 1918 onwards, specify II Chron., chap vi, as a standard `opening' for all degrees; it deals with Solomon's prayer at the consecration of the Temple. Generally, Cartwright agrees with the widespread practice in English Lodges, where a haphazard opening of the V.S.L. suffices, but if a particular page is to stay open through all degrees, he favours II Chron., ii, which is prescribed in the English Ritual. That passage deals with the preliminaries to the building of the Temple, and of Solomon's first embassage to Hiram, King of Tyre, asking for timber, etc., and a `man cunning to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass . . .', etc.


            A German correspondent writes to say that many Lodges in his country use the following:


For the 1°:John, i, 1. `In the beginning was the Word …’


For the 2°: Matt. xxii, 39. `Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself'


For the 3°: II Chron. vi. Solomon's dedication of the Temple.



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            My own favourite passage is in I Kings, vii, vv. 13‑21, which deals with the design, casting, erection and naming of the pillars.



61.                                           THE LION'S PAW OR EAGLE'S CLAW


Q.  What is the origin and the symbolism of the `Lion's Paw' or the `Eagle's Claw'?


A.  Whenever this kind of question crops up, I always like to look at the earliest‑known rituals to see how the words appeared there. We have, in fact, several early descriptions of the F.P.O.F. from 1696 on‑wards, also the `story' of a raising, dated 1726, and the first description of the Third Degree in 1730. The procedure you mention does not appear in any of the earliest texts, but a form of it does appear in the 1730 version, though without any reference to lions or eagles:


... spreading the Right Hand and placing the middle Finger to the Wrist, clasping the Fore‑finger and the Fourth to the Sides of the Wrist .. .


            (E.M.C., p. 169.) This is from Prichard's Masonry Dissected, dated 1730, the earliest description of the actual procedure of a `Raising Ceremony'.


            It is not necessary for me to emphasize that our procedure is different nowadays, and even in modern practice there are numerous variations, so that one would hesitate to assert that a particular manner of executing the movement is `correct'! I do not believe, moreover, that there is any symbolism attached to the G . . .; it was made different from the others to suit a special purpose, and it is, of course, particularly suitable for the `lifting' job.


            The earliest use of the word `Claw' that I am able to trace in describing this particular grip comes from Le Catechisme des Francs‑Masons, a French exposure of 1744, which gives a particularly good account of the 3! as it was in those days. In the description of the actual raising it says (my translation):


Then he takes him by the wrist, applying his four fingers separated & bent claw‑fashion at the joint of the wrist, above the palm of the other's hand, his thumb between the thumb and index [finger] of the Candidate ... & holding him by this claw‑grip, he orders him ... (E.F.E., p. 103.)


Note that, even here, there is no mention of Lion's‑Paw or Eagle's Claw, and although some modern rituals describe the grip in those terms, I have never been able to trace either of those titles in the earlier eighteenth century rituals.




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In London Lodges, the Lion's Paw and Eagle's Claw are virtually unknown; these curiosities of nomenclature seem to belong to particular localities, and flourish there, often far from London headquarters. After a search I found the Lion's Paw in at least one version of Scottish ritual, and both terms in use in an English Lodge, i.e., the Lodge of Friendship No. 202, Plymouth. There, at the proper moment, the W.M. says:


... there yet remains a third method, known as the Lion's Paw or Eagle's Claw, which is by taking a .. .


Apparently this refers to one particular G . . . that has two titles.



62.                                                       A MODERNIZED RITUAL?


Q.  In order to facilitate understanding of meaning, it has been thought well to translate the Bible into English that is `as clear and natural to the modern reader as the subject matter will allow'. Would not similar benefits arise from the re‑writing of our ritual in twentieth century English?


A.  There is no true analogy here between the Bible and the Masonic ritual. The former, in its original Hebrew, is full of complex passages which had to be interpreted even for those to whom Hebrew was their native tongue. And the interpretations, in many instances, show quite extraordinary variations. (As an example, the architectural drawings of Solomon's Temple, all based on the same `technical' descriptions in the Old Testament.) When, after a while, the Bible became the Holy Book for a large part of the civilized world, it had to be translated, and with some truly excellent results, but the various interpretations still remain.


            With the ritual we do not have the same problems. More than 99 per cent of it is in simple and beautiful English, and practically all of it is readily comprehensible even to simple folk. I agree that there are perhaps two or three passages which would lend themselves to further interpretation (a notable example is the speech at `the grave', but even this lovely piece can be readily understood, and a little thought will reveal most of its inner meaning).


            The standard rituals have, of course, been translated into many anguages, but I doubt if a modernized version is really needed, and, personally, I would oppose its adoption. We would lose far too much and gain little or nothing.





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            Reluctantly, it must be admitted that there are several passages (especially in the Lectures) that I would like to see removed entirely. They are mainly items of miscellaneous detail that have no symbolical or allegorical value, i.e., mere verbal padding that add nothing to our teachings and simply cause doubt or confusion. (See `Inaccuracies in the Ritual', Q. 178, p. 368.)



63.                                                       THE LEFT‑HAND PILLAR


Q.  The October, 1944, issue of the Masonic Record contains an illustration of King Solomon's Temple, showing the J. Pillar at left of the Porch, when viewed looking towards the building. This appears to contradict the customary ritual explanation which places B. on the left. Which is correct?


A.  It would be difficult to answer this question without numerous quotations from Old Testament which, taken together, indicate that the left‑hand' and `right‑hand' pillars are to be understood as though they are being described by someone standing inside the Temple, looking out towards the entrance in the East. Perhaps the simplest explanation is Whiston's note, in his edition of Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VIII, Chap. iii, Section 4. I quote first the passage from Josephus, followed by Whiston's note:


the one of these pillars he set at the entrance of the porch on the right hand, and called it Jachin, and the other at the left hand, and called it Booz (sic]


Whiston's footnote:


Here Josephus gives us a key to his own language, of right and left hand in the tabernacle and temple, that by the right hand he means what is against our left, when we suppose ourselves going up from the east gates of the courts towards the . . . temple, and so vice versa; whence it follows that the pillar Jachin, on the right hand of the temple, was on the south against our left hand, and Booz on the north against our right hand.


            Thus the Masonic Record is correct; our ritual is at fault, only because it lacks the very necessary explanation.



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64.                                                       THE VALLEY OF JEHOSHAPHAT


Q.  In answer to one of the questions in the Fifth Section, First Lecture, a reference is made to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. This place is mentioned twice in the Bible (Joel, iii, vv. 2 and 12), but the context gives no indication as to why this particular site may have been selected for mention in the Masonic ritual. Can you explain?


A.  The strong emphasis on isolation and solitude as a necessary feature in the situation of the Lodge, is reflected in the `Laws and Statutes' of the Lodge of Aberdeen, 1670:


... Wee ordaine lykwayes that no lodge be holden within a dwelling house wher ther is people living in it but in the open fieldes except it be ill weather, and then Let ther be a house chosen that no person shall heir nor seews...


            The idea of Masons meeting in the open air, but yet in some quiet secret place, is to be found in our earliest Masonic catechisms e.g., the Edinburgh Register House MS., 1696, Chetwode Crawley MS., c. 1700, and Kevan MS., c. 1714, all speak of:


A dayes Journey from a burroughs town without bark of dog or crow of cock.


            Sloane MS., c. 1700, and Dumfries No. 4 MS., c. 1710, use similar phrases, but none of these earliest texts mentions the valley of Jehoshaphat. The first Masonic reference to that specific place is in `A Mason's Examination', of 1723, and by coincidence that was the very first printed exposure, i.e., it was published in a newspaper, for entertainment, profit, or spite. I quote the relevant question and answer:


Q.  Where was you made? A.  In the Valley of Jehoshaphat, behind a Rush‑bush, where a Dog was never heard to bark, or Cock to crow, or elsewhere.


            The answer (to which you refer) in our modern Lecture, is almost a paraphrase of the corresponding passage in Masonry Dissected, 1730:


... the highest Hill or lowest Vale, or in the Vale of Jehosaphat, or any other secret Place. [E.M.C., p. 162.]


From this time onwards the place‑name appears quite regularly in the eighteenth century exposures, and it is certain that these words formed a part of the ritual before the Union of the Grand Lodges in 1813.


            All this confirms ancient practice and the desire for solitude, but it does not explain the `valley of Jehoshaphat', which still remains a problem. The name Jehoshaphat means `whom Jehovah judges' (i.e., whose


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            cause He pleads) and the valley of that name, according to the Book of Joel, is where the Almighty `will gather all the nations' and especially the `heathen', who have scattered His people, Israel, and driven them from their land.


            Hastings's Dictionary of the Bible says that in Moslem and Jewish tradition it was the valley east of Jerusalem, the scene of the Last Judgement. `It was a place of burial in pre‑exilic times', and, by implication, a quiet, deserted place.



65.                                           APRONS: FLAP UP, CORNER UP, ETC.


Q.  In many jurisdictions the E.A. Apron is worn with the flap up. Some Lodges have a practice of turning up the corner of the apron. Is there any symbolic significance in these matters, and why did the practices arise?


A.  In non‑operative or speculative Masonry these practices owe their origin to the time when all Freemasons wore a plain white apron, so that the `flap up', or `corner up', was used to indicate the Masonic grade of the wearer. Two of the early exposures, A Mason's Examination, of 1723, and Prichard's Masonry Dissected, of 1730, both mention the apron given to the Candidate, but make no reference to distinctive ways of wearing it - for the different grades of Masons.


            The earliest documents that offer information on the subject are the French exposures. Le Catechisme dcs Francs‑Masons, of 1744, says: `Fellow‑crafts wear the apron "point up", while Masters allow the flap to fall.' The English exposure, Solomon in all his Glory, published in 1768, is a translation of Le Macon Demasque, 1751, and it says that the Apprentice ties his apron with `the flap on the inside'. The F.C. is entitled to wear the flap outside `and fixed to one of my waistcoat buttons' (i.e., flap up) . . . the Master is `at liberty to let it fall down'. Here, within a space of seven years, we find new details of the E.A. method of wearing the apron. Both texts are agreed that F.C.s wear the `flap up' and M.M.s wear `flap down'.


            We may assume that in England variations persisted throughout the eighteenth century, until aprons were standardized after the Union, and many examples of early aprons are to be found (e.g., in the Grand Lodge Museum) with a button‑hole in the flap. With the introduction of two rosettes for the F.C. and three for the M.M., there was no longer the
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142                                                     THE FREEMASON AT WORK


need for any other means of distinguishing the grade of the wearer, but the `point up' for the E.A. has persisted in many cases to this day.


            In some jurisdictions, however, it is still customary for all Brethren and visitors to a Lodge to wear a plain white apron. Only the Officers wear decorated aprons in those countries, and there the need remains for some means of distinguishing the grade of the wearer. I quote first from a letter from Bro. Conrad Hahn, Secretary of the Masonic Service Association of the U.S.A.:


In answer to your questions about aprons and apron‑wearing in the States: every initiate receives his personal white lambskin apron (without any decoration or distinguishing mark) when he is initiated. He carries it home, puts it away carefully, and leaves it there until his death. It is then brought out and put on his body and interred with him. At lodge he wears a cloth apron (usually all white, but sometimes embordered in blue, and sometimes bearing the lodge name and number on the flap) taken from a supply of such aprons furnished by the lodge and kept in a pile near the Tiler's station.


            In Connecticut, where I hold Masonic membership, we are taught to wear the apron as follows:


E.A. `with the bib (flap) turned up'.


            F.C. `with the bib turned down, and the left‑hand corner of the apron brought up and tucked in'.


            M.M. `with the bib turned down, and the apron spread'.


            Bro. Dwight W. Robb confirms similar practice in Massachusetts for the E.A. and M.M., but there the F.C. wears the 'flap up' and the right‑hand corner of the apron tucked into the string at the waist.


            Lodges under the Grand Lodge of Scotland also use the plain white apron, and their practices are described in the following note from Bro. George Draffen of Newington, M.B.E., R.W. Depute Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland:


It is impossible to say what percentage of the Scottish Lodges use what, for want of a better term, I shall refer to as the `English System', and what number use the old Scottish custom. At a guess, I'd say that the bulk of the country Lodges use the old system and most, but not all, of the City Lodges use the English system. (The regulations allow for the English system by laying down sealed patterns of aprons for Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and M.M.) In those Lodges where the old custom is still in use, the practice is to wear the apron in the E.A. Degree with the flap UP, covering the chest. The apron is plain white and, when worn with the flap UP, presents the appearance of a square with a semi‑circle on one side. (Note: The flap on all Scottish aprons is semi‑circular in shape and NOT triangular as in England.) In the F.C. Degree the flap is still up, but the lower left‑hand corner (left‑hand as viewed from the wearer's point of view) is tucked up and held in position by the



THE FREEMASON AT WORK                               143


apron‑string. The shape now is a triangle with a semi‑circular shape on one side.


            In the M.M. Degree, both corners are tucked up, but so that the bottom of the apron has a little short flat bit between the turn‑ups. The shape now is meant to be reminiscent of a coffin!


Bro. I. H. Peters, of Loge Rosa Alba, Eindhoven, Holland, furnishes details of present‑day practice under the Grand East of the Nether‑lands. The Candidate gets his own apron for all three Degrees, and it is the normal Lodge apron, i.e., edged with the Lodge `colours'. (Each of the Dutch Lodges, as in Scotland, has its own distinctive colours.) The E.A. wears his apron with the flap tucked inside, i.e., invisible. The F.C. wears his apron with the flap `point up'; the M.M. wears it with the flap down.


            From our correspondents listed above, I have quoted only four current variations; of course, there must be many more.


            The Scottish practice of the 3! apron resembling a coffin is perhaps the only instance in which some sort of symbolism is involved. In all other cases the practices are simply to distinguish the grade of the wearer and nothing more.