The Builder Magazine
March 1915 - Volume 1 - Number 3
MASTER'S WORD AND THE ROYAL ARCH
BY BRO. S. W. WILLIAMS, GRAND
HIGH PRIEST OF TENNESSEE
"The MASTER'S WORD * * * is
the reward of study and devotion, and has never been obtained on any other
terms. It has never been conferred in the ritualistic degrees of the Lodge,
and never will or can be. It is the establishment of understanding in the Soul
of man between that higher self in him, and the MORE and Beyond Self from
which he draws his life, and from which his intuitions spring. This is the
Real Initiation: At-One-Ment." ("Mystic Masonry." by J. Buck.)
Let us see. The Blue Lodge
symbolizes this Life, from the Cradle to the Grave. From our entrance upon the
Stage of Life's great Drama, 'till its close, when "Exeunt Omnes" is the order
of the Greatest of Stage Managers, and the "Curtain of Life" is run down. The
Chapter comes next in the Masonic System--capped with the Royal
Arch--formerly, and we might say correctly, termed the HOLY ROYAL ARCH, for
such it surely is.
The Past Master's degree has
no place in the Masonic System--being merely a complimentary degree-- a sort
of enabling Act to qualify the Candidate for the Royal Arch degree. The Mark
and Most Excellent Master's degrees are amplifications of the Work of the Blue
Lodge and have no part in the consecutive work leading up to the Royal Arch in
the position they now occupy.
Mackey and other teachers
tell us that the Royal Arch degree is the symbolic representation of the state
after death. Life's vanities and follies have passed away; even the first
Temple, erected with such care through Life, has succumbed, and decay and
desolation only appear in its stead.
Masonry is a search for
Light--More and MORE LIGHT as we ascend the rounds of the Ladder--and Masonic
Light is TRUTH ETERNAL. In his "Search" the Seeker will discover profound
secrets of which he was previously ignorant. They had never been explained in
the Lodge and NEVER WILL BE. However, they are there for all who will not only
"Ask," but earnestly "Seek" for them. It must be personal, self sacrificing,
painstaking and consecrated service, otherwise we shall fail in our search for
these Treasures of Masonry that are never more than hinted at in the Lodge and
This is one of the things
that each man "must do for himself" and if not undertaken in the proper
spirit, he will find the Door securely barred against him--and he will "knock"
in vain. Thus, if we do not attain the FULLNESS of Light, it will be our own
fault-- we have not properly used all of the "Working Tools" that were given
us in the Lodge and were there so carefully explained.
The Symbolism of the Royal
The City of Jerusalem and
its first Temple in the Royal Arch symbolize our Spiritual Natures--Pure and
Innocent--fresh from the hand of our Father in Heaven.
By contact with the World it
becomes corrupted by Sin--crumbles under the assaults of the enemy, and we
become prisoners--slaves-- just as our ancient brethren did to the Chaldeans.
After a period of repentance
we determine to lead a new life, and with this end in view, leave our Babylon
--where we have been enchained by the Powers of Sin --to start life afresh.
Our journey across the
Desert, with its trials and tribulations, represents our first efforts to
rebuild our Lost Character, and once more become good and true, and pure
before God and Man, i.e.-- to rebuild the Temple which we have once destroyed.
We struggle on--each day is
fraught with cherished memories of by-gone years--and each night, as we lie
down to rest beneath the Starry decked Canopy of Heaven, finds us nearer our
Finally, we reach the spot
where we have dreamed that we shall reap our reward. There, standing on the
Mount of Olives, we see --NOT the prosperous, well regulated City that we
remember, with its impregnable fortifications, soaring Towers, marble Palaces
and magnificent Temple erected to the Most High God, but a mass of
At first, we are
disheartened, shocked, discouraged --but, remembering our good resolutions, we
turn to the God of our Fathers for strength--and then take up in real earnest
our Work in Life-- willing to make any sacrifice to win, and offer unto Him
our services in "Any part of the Work-- even the most difficult."
Under His guidance, we are
directed where to begin our labors. It is a hard task, this digging among the
ruins--this removing the rubbish which Sin and Vice have fastened upon our
Souls--but we bravely press on and are finally rewarded by finding the
Keystone of an Arch. It is the Keystone of Faith in the Arch of God's Promises
attained by Loyal and Devoted Service. We take it up and offer it to the
Master, who encourages us, but tells us there is still more work for us to do
if we would win the coveted prize-- this time more trying and more dangerous.
We return to the scene of our
labors--this time to penetrate this Arch--and, searching amid the accumulated
damp and slime of years, find three squares which we take up to Him who is
directing the Work. They prove to be the Squares of Virtue, Morality and
We are put to a further test
of our sincerity purpose and asked if we would be willing to again penetrate
this Arch in search of further treasures. Our answer you well remember--and we
are told "Go -- and rest assured that your valuable services will not be
Gaining strength and courage
with each successful effort, we once more return to the scene of our labors.
This time we are more favored--the Sun is now in a position to shine into the
Arch and we discover, in a remote corner, a strange Box, all covered with Pure
Gold, upon whose top and sides are certain mysterious characters which we do
We take this up and lay it
before the Master -- and then is brought to Light the Treasure of the Ages --
the Long Lost M. M. Word -- the symbol of that Divine Love and Truth which
passeth all human understanding.
Then it is that we hear those
blessed words calling us to our reward:
"Well done, good and faithful
servant, enter thou into that higher and holier Life, where the wicked cease
from troubling and the weary findeth rest."
Then we are permitted to
enter "That Temple not made with hands eternal in the Heavens."
We have expiated our Sin and
have been forgiven -- and God has fulfilled his promise and called us Home.
The Story of the Royal Arch Degree is of the Reclamation of a Lost Soul --
Redeemed by Trust in God's Love, attested by a Life of Faithful and devoted
Light From the East.
We learn from Students of the
Great School of India where many of the most ancient Mysteries are still
preserved in their original purity, that, surrounding this Earth is a Circle
of Darkness, and beyond that, seven Spheres of Light, corresponding to the
Colors of the Spectrum--beginning with the RED and ending with the VIOLET.
Beyond this, the Violet gradually fades away and merges with and into a Realm
of Light of ineffable Purity and Whiteness--millions of times whiter than
anything that Mortals can imagine.
All of these Spheres are
inhabited by the Spiritual bodies of Men. Some never get through the Realm of
Blackness; others struggle onward and upward--gradually getting higher and
higher in the Spheres of Color --all struggling to attain the Light which is
hidden from the eyes of mortals until their Spiritual sight is prepared to
behold it in all its glory.
TO REVIEW--Thus, we find the
Blue Lodge furnishes Rules and Precepts to be followed in this life; and
concludes with the sublime lesson of Death and a Resurrection to a Glorious
Immortality--a life beyond the Grave. Here the Royal Arch follows and carries
the symbolism into that after life--going back far enough to connect the one
with the other.
St. Paul tells us "There is a
Natural Body and there is a Spiritual Body."--I.Cor. XV-44.
The Spiritual Body, with the
Soul (its Guide) left the Physical Body at the close of the Master Mason's
degree, and then passes into the "Valley of the Shadow" --the Realm of
Darkness-- representing the Bondage of Sin in Babylon. Aided by the Wings of
Faith in God's Promises and guided by the Star of Hope, it finally enters the
first of the seven Veils of Light--the Red. Here, freed from the Bonds of Sin
for the first time since childhood, it begins its journey through the Spheres
with that "fervency and zeal which should actuate all Royal Arch Masons."
As the journey proceeds, the
Red begins to fade and merges into an Orange which betokens the first
realization of hardship and weariness--and a weakening of the first flush of
enthusiasm which was present at the start.
We come to the "Bend of the
River" and face the perils and hardships of the Desert. This is symbolized by
the Yellow in the list of Colors. (A yellow flag at the Masthead of a ship at
sea is a sign of sickness--of distress and suffering on board) And, were it
not that the Spirit becomes stronger and Purer with each obstacle that is
overcome, many would (and indeed, very many do) fall by the wayside.
Fortitude, in the shape of a kindly guide, comes to our assistance and the end
of the Desert journey is reached.
"We shall now turn our faces
to the South--passing through Syria and toward Damascus.
Once more are we to feast our
eyes upon GREEN Hills and fertile valleys--unforgotten through the years of
Grand old Lebanon comes into
view, rearing its lofty peak into the azure BLUE of a tropical sky and here we
find a host of Helpers-- TRUTH, CONSTANCY, FIDELITY, FRIENDSHIP and HOPE--to
welcome and cheer us on our way.
Passing down the Valley of
the Jordan many familiar scenes greet the eye and the Spirit is filled with
thankfulness at being once more permitted to view our native land. We kneel
and pour forth a prayer of thanksgiving to the God of our Fathers.
Presently a single ray of RED
(the Color of ZEAL and enthusiasm) comes down the spheres to us with the
thoughts of our years of bondage--and the RED, mingling with the Blue in its
deepest shade, makes the Heartsease (Indigo Purple) with all its blessed
promises of Glories yet to come.
Still pressing on, we climb
the Mount of Olives; and there stand in the VIOLET! All about us are the
Angels of Purity and Meekness. There are blessed recollections passing to and
fro like the rustle of Angels' Wings--and the Guide says "Let us press on."
I kneel not now to pray that
Make white one single sin,
I only kneel to thank Thee,
For what I have not been--
For deeds which sprouted in
But ne'er to bloom were
For monstrous vices which I
In the shambles of my
So for the man I might have
My heart must cease to
'Twere best to praise the
For monsters never born,
To bend the spiritual knee
(Knowing myself within)
And thank the kind benignant
For what I have not been."
O Psalmist of the weak, the
O Troubadour of love and
Co-Litanist of right and
Sole Hymner of the whole of
I know not how, I care not
Thy music brings this broil
And melts my passion's mortal
Into satisfying symphonies.
Yea, it forgives me all my
Fits life to love like rhyme
And tunes the task each day
By the last trumpet-note of
"So many gods, so many
So many paths that wind and
While just the art of being
Is all this sad world needs."
PHILOSOPHY OF MASONRY
Five Lectures Delivered under
the Auspices of the Grand Master of Massachusetts Masonic Temple, Boston
BY BROTHER ROSCOE POUND,
PROFESSOR OF JURISPRUDENCE IN HARVARD UNIVERSITY
KRAUSE'S philosophy is
concerned chiefly with the relation of Masonry to the philosophy of law and
government. Oliver's philosophy of Masonry deals rather with Masonry in its
relation to the philosophy of religion. In order to understand this we need
only note that Krause was by profession a philosopher and that the main work
of his life was done in the philosophy of law and of government while, on the
other hand, Oliver was a clergyman. As in Preston's case, Oliver's general
philosophical ideas came to him ready-made. He flowed with the philosophical
current of his time. He did not turn it into new channels or affect its course
as did Krause. Hence here, as with Preston, we may conveniently consider
Oliver's philosophy of Masonry under three heads: 1. The man; 2. The time; 3.
His Masonic philosophy as a product of the two.
1. The man. George Oliver was
born at Pepplewick in the county of Nottingham, November 5, 1782. His father
was a clergyman of the established church and his mother was the daughter of a
country gentleman. Hence he had the advantage of a bringing up under
conditions of culture and refinement. He was educated at Nottingham and made
such progress that at twenty-one he was made second master of the grammar
school at Caistor in Lincolnshire. Six years later he was made head master of
King Edward's grammar school at Great Grimsby. In 1813 he took orders but
continued to teach. In 1815 he was given a living by his bishop as the result
of an examination and at the same time, as the phrase was, was put on the
boards of Trinity College, Cambridge, as a so-called ten-year man. That is he
was given ten years in which to earn his degree. Thus in 1836 he was able to
take his degree of doctor of divinity. In the meantime he was successively
promoted to parishes of more and more importance till he became rector of
Wolverhampton and prebendary of the collegiate church. In 1846 the lord
chancellor gave him an easier and more lucrative living. He died in 1866 at
the age of eighty four.
Beginning in 1811 Oliver was
a diligent student of and a prolific writer upon antiquities, particularly
ecclesiastical antiquities and his writings soon brought him a high reputation
as an antiquary. It is worth while to give a list of the more important of
these books since taken in connection with the long list of his Masonic
writings it will afford some idea of his diligence and activity. I give only
those which have been considered the more important.
1. History and Antiquities of
the Collegiate Church of Beverley. 2. History and Antiquities of the
Collegiate Church of Wolverhampton. 3. History of the Conventual Church of
Grimsby. 4. Monumental Antiquities of Grimsby. 5. History of the Guild of the
Holy Trinity, Sleaford. 6. Druidical Remains near Lincoln. 7. Guide to the
Druidical Temple at Nottingham 8. Remains of the Ancient Britons between
Lincoln and Sleaford.
To these must be added a
great mass of papers and notes on antiquarian matters published between 1811
and 1866. And be it remembered the author was, while most of these were
writing, a teacher studying during his leisure hours in preparation for orders
and later for his degree and when the remainder were written was rector of an
important parish, a magistrate, a surrogate for the bishopric of Lincoln and a
steward of the clerical fund for his diocese. This sounds like one man's work
and a good measure at that. To it, however, we have to add a Masonic literary
career even more fruitful and more enduring in its results.
Oliver was made a Mason at
the age of nineteen. This statement, startling to the modern Masonic ear,
requires explanation. As Masonic usage then stood a "lewis," that is the son
of a Mason, might be initiated by dispensation before he came of age. The
privileges of a lewis have never been defined clearly. He was supposed to have
a right of initiation in precedence over all other candidates. Also in England
and France he was supposed to have the right to be initiated at an earlier
age, namely eighteen. The constitutions are silent on this point but the
traditional custom was to grant a dispensation in the case of a lewis after
that age. It is hard to say how far this usage has ever obtained in America.
At present it is not recognized. But there is evidence that it obtained in the
eighteenth century as, for example, in the case of George Washington who was
initiated at the age of twenty. At any rate Oliver became a Mason in this way
at the age of nineteen being initiated by his father in St. Peters Lodge at
Peterborough in 1801.
Oliver's father was a zealous
and well-informed Mason and a ritualist of the literal school, that is of the
type who regard literal expertness in ritual as the unum necessarium in
Masonry. Accordingly Oliver was thoroughly trained on this side--which indeed
is indispensable not only to Masonic advancement but, I suspect, to Masonic
scholarship--and as a result of his thorough knowledge of the work and his
tireless activity his rise in the Craft was rapid.
In 1809 Oliver established a
lodge at Grimsby where he was the master of the grammar school and chiefly by
his exertions the lodge became strong and prosperous. He was master of that
lodge fourteen years. Thence successively he became Provincial Grand Steward
(1813); Grand Chaplain (1816); and Deputy Grand Master of Lincolnshire (1832).
The latter office he held for eight years. It should be remembered that the
post of Provincial Grand Master was reserved in England for the nobility. It
is interesting to know in passing that the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts gave
him the honorary title of Past Deputy Grand Master.
The list of Oliver's Masonic
writings is very long. He is the most prolific of Masonic authors and on the
whole has had the widest influence. He began by publishing a number of Masonic
sermons but presently as one may suspect by way of revolt from the mechanical
ritualistic Masonry to which, as it were, he had been bred he turned his
attention to the history and subsequently to the philosophy of the Craft.
His first historical work is
the well-known "Antiquities of Free Masonry: comprising illustrations of the
five grand periods of Masonry from the creation of the world to the dedication
of King Solomon's temple." This was published in 1823.
Then followed in order:
2. The Star in the East, his
first philosophical work, designed to show the relation of Masonry to
3. Signs and Symbols, an
exposition of the history and significance of all the Masonic symbols then
4. History of Initiation,
twelve lectures on the ancient mysteries in which Oliver sought to trace
Masonic initiation and ancient systems of initiation to a common origin; a
matter with respect to which recent anthropological and sociological studies
of primitive secret societies indicate that he may have hit the truth much
more nearly than we had been supposing of late.
5. The Theocratic Philosophy
of Masonry, a further development of his ideas as to the relation of Masonry
6. A History of Free Masonry
from 1829 to 1840, intended as an appendix to Preston's Illustrations of
Masonry which he had edited in 1829.
7. Historical Landmarks and
Other Evidences of Masonry Explained, by far his greatest work, a monument of
wide reading and laborous research.
8. Revelations of a Square, a
bit of Masonic fiction.
9. The Golden Remains of the
Early Masonic Writers, an elaborate compilation in five volumes.
10. The Symbol of Glory, his
best discussion of the object and purpose of Masonry.
11. A Mirror for the
Johannite Masons, in which he discusses the dedication of lodges and the two
12. The Origin and Insignia
of the Royal Arch Degree.
13. A Dictionary of Symbolic
Masonry, the first of a long line of such dictionaries.
14. Institutes of Masonic
He also published a "Book of
the Lodge," a sort of ritualistic manual similar to the monitors or manuals so
well known today. Likewise he was a constant contributor to English and even
to American Masonic periodicals.
Probably no one not by
profession a writer can show such a list, bearing in mind how many of the
foregoing are books of the first order in their class.
Unhappily Oliver's views of
Masonic law were not in accord with those which prevailed in England in 1840.
In consequence when in that year Dr. Crucefix, one of the most distinguished
of nineteenth-century English Masons, was suspended by the Grand Lodge and
retired from Masonic activity Oliver also incurred the displeasure of the
authorities by claiming the right, though a Provincial Deputy Grand Master, to
take part in a public demonstration in honor of Crucefix in which a large
number of prominent Masons joined. This led to his losing his office by the
action of the Provincial Grand Master and to his withdrawing from active
connection with the Craft. But English Masons soon came to see the soundness
of Oliver's views as to the independence which Masonry must allow to the
individual in his belief and opinion as to what is Masonic law. Accordingly
four years later nearly all the Masons in the kingdom joined in subscribing
for a presentation of plate to Oliver in recognition of his great services to
the Craft. But justice was not done to Oliver as it was to Preston possibly
because Oliver was not the type of man to urge it for himself as Preston would
have done. In consequence Oliver was out of touch with active Masonic work for
the last twenty two years of his life. That this was in no way due to improper
obstinacy on his part is, I think, manifest from merely looking at his
portrait--which radiates benevolence and amiability. Moreover all accounts of
his personality agree with the impression one gets from the portrait. All
accounts bear witness to his lovableness, his geniality, his charitableness
and his readiness to oblige. All who have written of him testify that he was
in the highest degree unassuming, unaffected and easy of approach. That such
men as Krause and Oliver should suffer from the jealousies which greater
knowledge seems to engender in those who regard ability to recite the ritual
with microscopic fidelity as the sum of Masonry is not wholly to be wondered
at. The breadth which such knowledge inevitably brings about threatens the
very foundations of the literalism which the strongest men in our lodges have
been taught or have taught themselves is the essence of the institution. But
it is strange and is an unhappy commentary upon human nature that the
arrogant, ambitious Preston could at length obtain justice which was denied to
Krause and to Oliver.
Summing up Oliver's
personality, everything confirms the impression which one derives from the
portrait. He was a warm-hearted man, of zealous antiquarian enthusiasm, of
deep faith and of thoroughgoing religious convictions. We must remember each
of these traits when we come to consider his philosophy of Masonry. So much
for the man.
Now for the time.
The dominant philosophy
everywhere when Oliver wrote was what is known as romanticism. In England,
which at this period was still primarily taken up with religious rather than
with philosophical or scientific questions, romanticism was especially strong.
Thinkers of the generation after Kant objected to his critical philosophy on
the ground that it lacked vitality. They asserted that the living unity of the
spirit was violated by his analyzings and distinguishings. They pointed to
religious faith on the one hand and to artistic conception and creation on the
other hand as methods which unlike the critical philosophy did full justice to
life. In other words the age of reason in which Preston wrought and wrote was
over and for a season at least men ceased to expect all things of reason,
intellect and knowledge and began to expect all things of what they called
spirit. The younger thinkers especially were filled with enthusiasm at this
idea of deducing all things from spirit and did not see that they were simply
seeking for a new philosopher's stone. They expected through the idea of the
spirit to establish a complete unity of all things, to break down the existing
separation between science, religion and art and to reconcile all discords.
Such an idea of knowledge rightly may be called romantic. It stands before us
sublime and distant. It rouses our enthusiasm or our zeal to achieve it, and
influences us by its exaltation rather than by any prospect which it affords
us of clear and sober realization. That a whole generation should have been
content to put its ideal of knowledge in this form seems difficult to explain
even by reaction from the over-rationalism of the preceding century. Probably
the general upheaval brought about by the French Revolution must be taken into
account and the golden age of poetry which accompanied this philosophical
movement must not be overlooked. Indeed the connection between the romantic
philosophers, the romantic poets and the romantic musicians is very close. It
is not an accident that what I may fairly call romantic Masonry appears at the
same time. This will be manifest especially when I come to speak of Oliver's
views as to the relation of Masonry to religion.
One of the most
representative of the German romantic philosophers argued that all separation
between poetry, philosophy and religion was superficial and arbitrary. He
argued that while the poet regards philosophy as an expounding of the poetry
of life which is to be found in all things, the philosopher regards poetry as
a pictorial form, perceived intuitively, of the thought which moves in all
things. But, he said, religion is a phase of the same quest for unity. Let me
quote his words since they bear strongly upon Oliver's views: "If it is
allowed that the task of thought is to show us the unity of all things, can
philosophical endeavor differ in its essence from the religious yearning which
likewise seeks to transcend the oppositions and unrest of life ?"
This romantic philosophy came
into England chiefly through the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) who
wrote while Oliver's chief literary activities were in progress and died about
six years before the most important and significant of Oliver's writings. The
relation of the one to the other is so clear that a moment's digression as to
Coleridge is necessary.
In his youth Coleridge tells
us he had been a disciple of the eighteenth-century rationalists. But he was
repelled by the attempt, so characteristic of the eighteenth century, to
reduce mental phenomena to elementary functions by means of analysis and to
discover mechanical laws for all consciousness. If this could be done, he
said, it would destroy the unity and activity of the mind. At this time he
came in contact with the German romantic philosophy and turned in the new
direction. Indeed he was a romanticist by nature. He revelled, it has been
said, in ideas of the absolute in which the differences and oppositions of the
finite world blended and disappeared. He was a poet and a preacher rather than
a thinker and rarely got beyond intuition and prophecy. Hence there is more
than a little truth in the saying of one of his critics that he led his
generation through moonshine to orthodoxy and to a more pronounced orthodoxy
than had formerly obtained. It is said that the Anglo-Catholic or Puseyite
movement of the nineteenth century, which carried Newman and so many other
English scholars into the church of Rome, was a result of Coleridge's ideas.
What, then, were the
characteristics of the philosophy of the time and place in which Oliver wrote
1. Speculation and
imagination were the chief organs of thought. The poetic passed for the only
real. Enthusiasm passed for scholarship.
2. Reason abdicated for a
season. Conviction, intuition and faith were regarded as justifying
3. In the same way tradition
became something which justified itself. This is seen particularly in the
so-called Oxford movement and the Catholic reaction in England. It is seen
also in the position of the time as to the English constitution which Dickens
has satirized in the person of Mr. Podsnap.
4. Reconciliation of
Christianity with philosophy became a recognized problem. For example,
Coleridge took this for his chief work.
All of these features may be
seen in Oliver's Masonic writings. The defects of his historical writing, for
example, which have utterly debased popular Masonic history are the defects of
a romanticist. A warm imagination and speculative enthusiasm carried him away.
In common with his philosophical teachers he had thrown off the critical
method and had lost the faculty of discriminating accurately between what had
been and what he would like to believe had been. On the other hand, in Masonic
philosophy, where pure speculation was allowable, these qualities had a
certain value. Mill says of Coleridge that his was one of the great seminal
minds of his time. In the same way Oliver more than anyone else set men to
thinking upon the problems of Masonic philosophy. His style is agreeable. He
is always easy to read and often entertaining. A multitude of readers, who
would be repelled by Krause's learned but difficult pages, have rejoiced in
Oliver. Hence he has given a form and direction to Masonic speculation which
Turning to Oliver's
philosophy of Masonry three important points may be noted: 1. His theory of
the relation of Masonry to religion; 2. His theory of Masonry as a tradition
coming down to us from a pure state prior to the flood; 3. His theory of the
essentially Christian nature of our institution.
Let me take these up in
1. It has been said that
reconciliation of knowledge with religion and unifying of religion with all
other human activities was a favorite undertaking of the romantic philosophy.
It was natural, therefore that a clergyman should be attracted to this type of
thought and that a zealous churchman and enthusiastic Mason who had learned
from Preston, whose book he edited, that Masonry was knowledge, should convert
the problem into one of relating Masonry to religion and of reconciling them.
Oliver's mode of doing this was highly ingenious. Religion and Masonry, he
would say, are identical in their end and they are identical in their end with
knowledge. Each is a manifestation of the spirit, the absolute, that is of
God. God, he would say, is manifest to us, first, by revelation and thus
manifest we know Him and know ourselves and know the universe through
religion. Second, He is manifest to us by tradition, and in this way we know
Him and know ourselves and know the universe through Masonry. Third, He is
manifest to us through reason, and in this way we know Him and know ourselves
and know the universe through knowledge or, as we have come to call it,
science. In common with the romanticists he sought to throw the entire content
of life into one interconnected whole; and this he found in God or in the
absolute. Accordingly to him Masonry was one mode of approach to God, the
other two being religion and science. If Krause's triad was law, religion,
morals, given effect by state, church, Masonry, Oliver's is revelation,
tradition, reason, expounded, handed down, developed and interpreted by
religion, Masonry and science.
2. Oliver's theory of Masonry
as a system of tradition seems to have been derived from Hutchinson. The
latter deserves a moment's digression.
(1732-1814), an English lawyer, is perhaps the earliest Masonic philosopher.
In 1774 by permission of the Grand Lodge, which then insisted upon a right to
censor all Masonic writing, Hutchinson published his chief Masonic work
entitled "The Spirit of Masonry." Oliver himself has said that this book was
"the first efficient attempt to explain in a rational and scientific manner
the true philosophy of the order." Hutchinson's doctrine was that the lost
word was symbolical of lost religious purity due to corruptions of the Jewish
faith. He held that the master's degree symbolized the new law of Christ
taking the place of the old law of Judaism which had become dead and corrupt.
By a bit of fanciful etymologsr he derived Hiram (Huram) from the Greek
heuramen (we have found it) and Acacia from the Greek alpha privative and
Kakia (evil)--Akakia, freedom from evil, or freedom from sin. Thus, he says,
the Master Mason "represents a man under the Christian doctrine saved from the
grave of iniquity and raised to the faith of salvation." Hutchinson influenced
Hemming, who wrote the lectures of the Ancients and a trace of this influence
may be seen in America in the interpretation of the blazing star in our
Clearly enough Oliver got his
cue from Hutchinson. But Hutchinson had identified religion and Masonry. This
Oliver, as a clergyman of the established church, could not allow. Instead
Oliver sought to unify them, that is while keeping them distinct to make them
phases of a higher unity, to make them expressions of what is ultimately,
though not immediately, one. This he did as has been seen by regarding each as
a mode of approach to God. That conception led to his theory of Masonry as a
body of tradition.
Briefly stated Oliver's
theory is this. He held that Masonry was to be found as a body of tradition in
the earliest periods of history as recorded in Scripture. This tradition
according to his enthusiastic speculations was taught by Seth to his
descendants and was practiced by them as a pure or primitive Masonry before
the flood. Thus it passed over to Noah and his descendants and at the
dispersion of mankind was divided into pure Masonry and spurious Masonry. The
pure Masonry passed through the patriarchs to Solomon and thence to the
present institution. On the other hand, the pure tradition was corrupted among
the pagans and took the form of the mysteries and initiatory rites of
antiquity. Accordingly, he held, we have in Masonry a traditional science of
morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.
3. Again taking his cue from
Hutchinson, though the old charges to be true to holy church gave him some
warrant--Oliver insisted that Masonry was strictly a Christian institution. He
believed of course that Christianity was foretold and in a way revealed in the
Old Testament and that the doctrine of the Trinity, for example, was clearly
expounded therein. In the same way he held that the earliest of Masonic
symbols also taught the doctrine of the Trinity and that the Masonic
references to the Grand Architect of the Universe were references to Christ.
Indeed in his system this was necessary. For if religion, which to him could
mean only the Christian religion, and Masonry were to be unified it must be as
setting before us different manifestations of the same God. There could be but
one God and that triune God, the God of his religion, he held was made known
to us by revelation, by tradition and by reason. Thus Oliver's interpretation
of revelation determined his interpretation of the other two. If we bear this
in mind we may accept his general philosophy without accepting this particular
doctrine. For it needs only to postulate a more universal and more general
religion than he professed, a religion above sects, creeds and dogmas to hold
that such a religion along with Masonry and along with reason leads to God.
Moreover Hindu and Mahommedan may each put his own interpretation on
revelation and join in believing in these three modes of knowing the absolute.
Mackey reproaches Oliver for narrowness and sectarianism. But the
possibilities of his Masonic philosophy are as broad as could be desired. It
was too soon in 1840 to ask a clergyman to go further in its application than
What then are Oliver's
answers to the three fundamental questions of Masonic philosophy?
1. What is the end of
Masonry, for what does the institution exist? Oliver would answer, it is one
in its end with religion and with science. Each of these are means through
which we are brought into relation with the absolute. They are the means
through which we know God and his works.
2. How does Masonry seek to
achieve its end? Oliver would answer by preserving, handing down and
interpreting a tradition of immemorial antiquity, a pure tradition from the
childhood of the race.
3. What are the fundamental
principles by which Masonry is governed in achieving its task? Oliver would
say, the fundamental principles of Masonry are essentially the principles of
religion as the basic principles of the moral world. But in Masonry they
appear in a traditional form. Thus, for example, toleration in Masonry is a
form of what in religion we call charity; universality in Masonry is a
traditional form of what in religion we call love of one's neighbor.
As has been said, Krause's
was a philosophy of Masonry in its relation to law and government. Preston's
was a philosophy of Masonry in its relation to knowledge. Oliver's is a
philosophy of Masonry in its relation to religion. Neither of the others has
had a tithe of the influence which Oliver's philosophy has exerted upon
Masonic thought. And on the whole his influence has been valuable and
stimulating. A critic has said that "all he had to give was transcendental
moonshine which shed a new light on old things for many a young doubter and
seeker, but which contained no new life." In a sense this is so. Oliver's
Masonic philosophy is an obvious product of a clergyman in the age of the
romantic philosophy who had read and reflected upon Hutchinson. And yet it is
not true that there is no new life in Oliver. Except for Krause nothing so
well worth while has been pointed out for Masonry as the end which Oliver
found for us. I cannot but feel that it is a great misfortune that his
philosophy is being peddled out to a new generation in grandiloquent fragments
through Grand Lodge orations and articles in the Masonic press instead of
being apprehended as a whole.
Here was an experiment, under
the most favourable circumstances. of the powers of the intellect without
conscience. He did all that in him lay, to live and thrive without moral
principle. It was the nature of things, the eternal law of man and the world,
which balked and ruined him; and the result in a million experiments would be
"The Holy Supper is kept,
In whatso we share with
Not what we give, but what we
For the gift without the
giver is bare;
Who bestows himself with his
alms feeds three--
Himself, his hungering
brother, and Me."
--J. R. Lowell. The Vision of
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN OF
G.E. LESSING (1778) BY LOUIS BLOCK,
PAST GRAND MASTER OF MASONS
[Truly, Lessing was a
prophet. Almost it would seem that this second dialogue was written yesterday,
or this morning, so pertinent is it to the present situation among nations,
and so eloquent of the mission of Masonry. With what crystal clear insight
that noble German saw what Masonry means to humanity, how it offers the only
basis upon which men of all races and faiths may meet and live amicably
together; and how by its very genius it becomes, as the Old Charge in the Book
of Constitutions said, "the Centre of Union and the Means of conciliating true
Friendship among persons"- -and, equally, among nations-- "that must have
remained at a perpetual distance." Also, straight as a line of light, his
vision goes to the truth that the basis of human society and the state is
spiritual, and that, at bottom, all issues are religious issues. Hence the
wisdom of the Old Charges--and most of all the great Charge of the Grand Lodge
of England--concerning "God and Religion," and their emphasis upon "that
Religion in which All Men Agree." Hear now the simple wisdom of a great Mason
who, over a century ago, lived and wrote so unselfishly, not for the glory or
profit of one race, but for the good of human beings wheresoever dispersed
throughout the earth.--The Editor.]
Ernst--Well, where have you
been? And still you have not the butterfly ?
Falk--It lured me from bough
to bough as far as the stream--all at once it was on the other side.
E.--Yes, yes. There are such
F.--Have you thought it over
E.--Thought what over? Your
puzzle? Nor shall I catch it, that pretty butterfly! And it shall give me no
further concern. Once to talk about Free Masonry with you, but never again!
For I see well you are like them all.
F.--How like them all ? They
do not all say this.
E.--Don't they? Then there
must surely be heretics among the Free Masons ? And you are one of these?
Still all heretics have something in common with the Orthodox. And that is
what I was talking about.
F.--About what were you
E.--Orthodox or heretical
Free Masons--they all play with words, let themselves be questioned and answer
F.--Think so? Now then, let
us talk about something else! For once you have torn me out of a cozy
condition of dumb astonishment--
E.--Nothing is easier than to
put you back into that condition. Just let yourself down here by me and look !
E.--The life and the moving
to and fro and round about these ant-hills. What industry and yet what order!
Every one carries and pulls and shoves and no one hinders another. Just see!
They even help one another.
F.--The ants live in society
like the bees.
E.--And in a still more
wonderful society than that of the bees. For they have no one among them who
holds them together and rules them.
F.--Therefore it must be true
that order can exist without government.
E.--When each one knows how
to rule himself, why not ?
F.--Will it ever come to that
among men ?
E.--Very hardly !
F.--Too bad !
F.--Get up and let us be
going ! For they will be crawling all over you, these ants, and just now there
occurred to me what I must ask you at this time. I have no idea at all what
you think about it.
F.--About the civil society
of men. How do you look at it ?
E.--As something very good.
F.--Incontestably. But do you
take it as an end or as a means?
E.--But I don't understand
F.--Do you believe that men
were created for the state, or that the state was created for men ?
E.--Some appear inclined to
assert the former. The latter, however, may be nearer the truth.
F.--That is what I think,
too. The state unites men, so that through this union, and in this union, each
single man may enjoy all the better and more surely his share of happiness.
The sum total of the joy of each member is the happiness of the state. Aside
from this there is no happiness. Any other good fortune of the state for which
even a few members suffer and must suffer is merely the cloak of tyranny.
Nothing else !
E.--I wouldn't want to say
that out so loud.
F.--Why not ?
E.--A truth that each one
decides according to his own condition can easily be misused.
F.--Do you know, Friend, that
you are already half a Free Mason?
F.--You. For you declare
truths that one had better keep to himself.
E.--But what he still might
F.--The wise man cannot tell
that which he had better keep back.
E.--Well, as you will Let us
not get upon the Free Masons. I don't want to know anything more about them.
F.--Forgive me! You see at
least my readiness to tell you more about them.
E.--You are joking--Good! The
civil life of man and all state constitutions are nothing but means for human
happiness. What then?
F.--Nothing but means! and
means discovered by man; although I will not deny that nature has everything
so arranged that man must very soon stumble upon these discoveries.
E.--This then brought it
about that some considered human society to be nature's end. For all our
desires and all of our deeds, even to the last one, lead along the road that
nature travels. So they decided. As if nature would not bring forth the proper
means! As if nature had more in view happiness as an abstract conception--such
as the state, the fatherland, and the like--than the real happiness of each
F.--Very good! You are coming
to meet me along the right road. Now then, tell me if the state constitutions
are expedients of human origin, shall they alone escape the fate of all other
E.--What do you mean by the
fate of human expedients?
F.--That which is inseparably
bound up with all human expedients, and which distinguishes these from divine
and infallible instruments.
E.--And what is that?
F.--That they are not
infallible. That they not alone often do not accomplish their purpose but even
bring to pass the very contrary result.
E.--An example! if one occurs
F.--Ships and sea-voyages are
means for reaching far lying lands, and at the same time become the reasons
why many men never arrive there.
E.--For instance, those who
suffer ship-wreck and are drowned. Now I think I understand you. But we know
very well why so many single men fail to achieve their happiness through a
state constitution. State constitutions are many; one is therefore better than
the others; another is very faulty, contending openly with its own objects and
the best is perhaps yet to be discovered.
F.--Undoubtedly! Suppose the
best constitution that can be conceived of to have been established; suppose
all the men in the whole world to have adopted this constitution; do you not
think that even then that out of this very best constitution itself there must
still arise things highly hurtful to human happiness and of which man in his
natural state unfortunately knew nothing?
E.--I should think that if
such things could arise out of the best constitution that then it would be the
F.--And that a better one
would still be possible? Well, then, I will take this better one for the best
and repeat my former question.
E.--You seem to have been
striving from the very outset to make clear the accepted conclusion that every
human expedient such as you declare a state constitution to be, can be nothing
else than faulty.
E.--And it would be hard for
you to name one of those hurtful things that--
F.--That must of necessity
arise from the best state constitution? Oh, ten instead of one!
E.--Just one, first!
F.--Well then, we will
suppose the best constitution to have been discovered; we will suppose all men
in the world to be living under this constitution would all of the men in the
world for this reason constitute but one state?
E.--Hardly. Such an enormous
state would be incapable of administration. It would therefore have to be
divided into several smaller states which would all be governed by the same
F.--That is, men would even
then continue to be called Germans and Frenchmen, Hollanders and Spaniards,
Russians and Swedes.
E.--Most surely !
F.--Now there you have it
already, for then it would be true, would it not, that each of the smaller
states would have its own peculiar interests and that each citizen would have
at heart the interests of his own particular state?
E.--How could it be otherwise
F.--These different interests
would often come into collision, just as they do now, and two me two members
of different states would be just as little able to approach each other with
unprejudiced minds, as is today a German a Frenchman, or a Frenchman an
F.--So that, now when a
German meets a Frenchman, a Frenchman an Englishman, or the reverse, it is no
longer simply a case of the meeting of two men who on account of their like
natures are drawn to one another, but it is a case of the meeting of two
particular kinds of men, who are conscious of one another's differing
tendencies, which in turn makes them cold, reserved, and suspicious toward
each other, even before they have had the slightest thing to do, or to share,
with one another.
E.--That is unfortunately
F.--Now it is also true that
the very thing which unites men in order to insure their happiness by means of
such a union, at the same time divides them.
E.--Yes, if you understand it
F.--Take a step further! Many
of the smaller states would have widely varying climates, consequently widely
differing needs and desires, widely varying habits and customs, greatly
differing moral standards and consequently very dissimilar religions. Don't
you think so?
E.--That is a tremendous step
F.--Men would none the less
still be Jews, Christians and Turks, and the like.
E.--That is something I dare
F.--If they were that, then
they would also conduct themselves toward one another in a way no different
from that in which our Jews and Christians and Turks have always treated one
another. Not as mere men toward mere men, but as one class of men toward
another class, who are contending for certain spiritual preferences, and
founding principles upon these that would never have occurred to the natural
E.--That is very
unfortunately very probable also.
E.--For I thought, as you
have assumed, that as all states could have one constitution, so they could
also all have the same religion. Yet now I cannot see how it can be possible
for them to have the same constitution without having the same religion.
F.--Neither can I. I simply
assumed that, in order to cut you off in your flight. One is as absolutely
impossible as the other. One state, several states; several states, several
constitutions; several constitutions, several religions.
E.--Yes, yes, so it seems.
F.--So it is. Now note the
second evil which civil society, wholly contrary to its intention, brings
forth. It cannot unite men without dividing them, cannot divide them without
establishing chasms between them and running dividing walls through them.
E.--And how terrible these
chasms are! How insurmountable are often these barrier-walls !
F.--Let me add still a third.
It is not enough that civil society should divide and separate men into
different peoples and religions--a division into a few great parts, each one
of which would be an entity in itself, would always be better than no entity
at all--but, no! civil society must continue its separating process even in
each one of these parts and so on to infinity.
E.--How is that?
F.--Or, do you think that a
state can be conceived of without differences in rank or station ? Be it good
or bad, nearer or farther from perfection, it would still be impossible that
each member of it should bear the same relation to the others. Even if they
all had a share in the making of the laws, still each could not have the same
share, at least not the same direct share. There would therefore be superior
and inferior members. If at the outset all of the possessions of the state
could be equally divided between them such an equal division would not survive
two generations; one would know better than another how to use his property,
and at the same time he might be compelled to divide his more poorly managed
possessions among a larger number of descendants than would the other. There
would therefore be richer and poorer members.
E.--That is clear.
F.--Now consider how much
suffering there is in the world that arises out of this very difference in
rank and station!
E.--How I wish I could still
dispute that! But what reason would I have for contradicting you? Well, now,
men are only to be united through separation, only to be held in union by
never ceasing division. Now that is even so. It can not be otherwise.
F.--That is just what I have
E.--Well then, what are you
trying to do, to disgust me with civilized life, make me wish that the thought
of uniting themselves into nations had never occurred to men?
F.--Do you understand me so
badly? If civilized society had but the one good that in it alone human reason
could be developed, it would still bless us in spite of far greater evils.
E.--He who would enjoy the
fire, says the proverb, must endure the smoke.
F.--By all means! But because
with fire smoke is unavoidable, dare we for that reason, invent no chimneys ?
And he who invented the chimney, was he for that reason an enemy of the fire ?
See, that is what I am after.
E.--After what? I don't
F.--The comparison was still
very fitting. If man can be united in nations only through such divisions, are
they for that reason good, these divisions ?
F.--Are they then
sacred--these things that divide ?
E.--How sacred ?
F.--So that it is forbidden
to lay hand upon them ?
E.--For the purpose of--?
F.--For the purpose of not
letting them become any greater than necessity demands. For the purpose of
rendering their results as harmless as possible.
E.--How could that be
F.--But it also cannot be
commanded, commanded by civil laws--for civil laws never reach beyond the
confines of a state. And this is the very thing that lies beyond all
boundaries and all states. Consequently it can only be an opus supererogatum
and it is only to be desired that the wisest and best in each state would
voluntarily undertake these operi supererogato.
E.--Not only to be desired,
but very greatly to be desired.
F.--I thought so ! Very
greatly is it to be desired that in every state there should be men superior
to the judgment of the populace who know exactly just when patriotism ceases
to be a virtue.
E.--Very greatly to be
F.--Very greatly is it to be
desired that there should be men who do not submit to the dictates of the
religion in which they were born, and who do not believe that everything which
they look upon as good and true must therefore be good and true.
E.--Very greatly to be
F.--Very greatly is it to be
desired that in every state there should be men whom civic pomp does not blind
and civic paltriness does not disgust, and in whose society the lofty gladly
unbend and the lowly boldly lift their heads.
E.--Very greatly to be
F.--And if it should be
fulfilled, this desire ?
E.--Fulfilled ? Of course
here and there now and then you will find such a man.
F.--Not only here and there,
not only now and then.
E.--At certain times, in
certain lands perhaps a few more.
F.--What if there were even
now such men everywhere, and must at all times be such men ?
E.--God willing !
F.--And what if these men did
not live in a state of barren distraction, nor always in an unseen church ?
E.--Beautiful dream !
F.--To make it short--and
these men should be the Freemasons ?
E.--What's that you say ?
F.--What if it should be the
Freemasons, who as a part of their work were endeavoring to close up, as far
as possible, these gulfs by which men were kept strangers to one another?
F.--I said, as a part of
F.--Oh, forgive me! I had
again forgotten that you didn't want to hear anything more about the
Freemasons. They, are just now beckoning us to breakfast. Come along.
E.--Not yet! Just a moment!
The Freemasons, you say--
F.--The conversation brought
me back to them against my will. Forgive me! Come on! There in the larger
circle we will no doubt find matter for a more profitable conversation. Come
STRIKES THE FUNERAL CHIME”
- BY THE EDITOR
HOW many tender memories these old familiar words
evoke in the mind of a Mason. Often in the open lodge - alas, all too often
beside the open grave - he has heard them march with slow, majestic step to
the measure of the Pleyel Hymn. Never were words and melody more fitly
blended, and they induce a mood pensive indeed, but not plaintive, rich in
pathos without being poignant - a mood of sweet sadness caught at that point
where it stops short of bitter, piercing grief. Yet few know when it was
written and by whom, though many must have paused to muse over the faith of
which it sings.
The hymn was written by David Vinton, a lecturer
on Masonry and teacher of the ritual in the first quarter of the last century,
whose field of labor was in the South, chiefly in North Carolina.
Unfortunately, his path through life was dogged by the demon of drink, which
left stains upon his character for which he was expelled by a Lodge in North
Carolina. He died, so Mackey records, in Shakertown, Kentucky, in July, 1833,
but Morris dates his death six years earlier and says that it occurred near
Russellville, Ky. Morris adds this pathetic fact: "Nor were his own most
beautiful words sung over his grave, on account of lapse from a life of
In 1816 Vinton issued a volume entitled "The
Masonic Minstrel, a Selection of Masonic, Sentimental, and Amorous Songs.
Duets, Glees, Canons, Rounds and Canzonets, Respectfully Dedicated to the Most
Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons," with an
appendix containing a short historical sketch of Masonry and a list of all the
Lodges in the United States. It was printed for the author by H. Mann and
Company, Dedham, Mass., and more than twelve thousand copies were sold to the
Craft. This volume contained his funeral dirge set to the melody of the Pleyel
hymn. As Mackey remarks, "This contribution should preserve the name of Vinton
among the Craft, and in some measure atone for his faults, whatever they may
From the preface of the Minstrel we learn that
Vinton was appointed by Mount Vernon Lodge, in Providence, to procure a book
of songs for use in the Lodge, and this suggested the book to his mind, the
more so when he was unable to find any book to meet the need. This quaint
volume, yellow with age, and alternating quickly from grave to gay, from
lively to severe, tempts comment, did time permit; but our concern here is
only with his dirge. Originally it had eight stanzas, only four of which are
used in our ritual and burial service, and Vinton little thought that his
lines would be sung for a decade, then laid aside, then taken up again and
sung wherever a Brother Mason is laid to rest, "in the land called America."
Whether we hear this hymn in the tyled recesses of
the Lodge, or on a green sward out under the sky, our hearts answer to its
appeal. Albeit in less stately strain and more tender tone, it strikes the
same note that sounds through the 90th Psalm - that mighty funeral hymn of the
human race - with its chant of the swift death of mourning flowers, of the
vanishing of man, and the hush of profound sleep to which all things mortal
decline. How helpless man is, pursued by Time and overtaken by Death - his
life a vapor that melts, his span of years a tale that is soon told. There is
here that nameless sorrow, that unutterable sadness which lingers in all
mortal music whatsoever, and will linger in it while yet we walk in the dim
country of this world where Death seems to divide divinity with God. Evermore,
in hours however trivial or tragic, in moods pensive or gay-
"Solemn strikes the funeral chime,
Notes of our departing time;
As we journey here below,
Through a pilgrimage of woe."
Touched by the twilights of time, the singer
meditates and prays. He sees that the vast machinery of Nature carries forward
the entire human race, and, without fail, drops them into one final sleep. Yet
each departs alone - the father without the child, the wife without the
husband, the judge without the court, the statesman unattended, the babe with
no arm around it, aye, and king and peasant alike; and all walk one dark,
inevitable path. In what silence and dignity they go, their faces all turned
in one direction, following the footprints of a many-millioned multitude into
the infinite. We who are compelled to watch their moving figures are powerless
to detain them, and can only say farewell and then weep.
"Mortals now indulge a tear,
For mortality is here;
See how wide her trophies wave,
O'er the slumbers of the grave."
With all our philosophy and wit, death remains a
bitter, old, and haggard fact which no man may either evade or avert. There is
something appalling in the masterful negation and collapse of the body. It is
profound. It is pathetic. Words are futile, and there is in that last silence
what makes them seem foolish. What avails it what any man may have to say
about death ? The real question is, what are we to say to it, whether or not
we shall let it have the last word.
"Not all the preaching since
Has made Death other than
Heart and flesh fail; and the generations come and
go, following the forlorn march of dust. Truly, as for man, his days are as
grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth; for the wind passeth over
it, and it is gone.
Suddenly the shadow lifts, light shineth in
darkness, and we see how true it is that the soul of man is the one
unconquerable thing upon this earth. How wonderful is this ancient, high,
heroic faith which refuses to admit that the grave is the gigantic coffin lid
of a dull and mindless universe descending upon it at last. Life tries it,
sorrow beshadows it, sin stains it, and yet it is victorious. When doubt
deepens this faith becomes more profound, and out of the blackest tragedy it
rises with a song of triumph. So it has been from the far time when the oldest
book in the world was written, and so it will be until whatever is to be the
end of things.
"Here, another guest we
Seraphs of celestial wing,
To our funeral altar come;
Waft a friend and brother
Such faith is not a mere surrender; it is a force
prophetic of its own fulfillment. At its touch the graveyard becomes a
cemetery - that is, a sleeping chamber - and dark Death an All Man's Inn where
a fellow pilgrim takes lodging for a night. Those whom we call the dead are
the guests of God, whose love is the keeper of unknown revelations. Also, our
singer sees that the social life of man, its warmth of sympathy, its sanctity
of friendship, its dear love of man for his comrade, has enduring value.
Because this is so; because life is brief at its longest, and broken at its
best, it must be filled with Truth and Love; that so we may bring to the Gate
in the Mist something too noble to die. Hence the wise prayer:
"Lord of all below, above,
Fill our souls with Truth and
As dissolves our Earthly Tie,
Take us to Thy Lodge on
O Death, where is thy victory? Our trust is in God, that He who
made us what we are will lead us to what we ought
to be. Higher faith there is none. Even so, Masonry rests its hope upon the
ultimate Reality, the first truth and the last, and it is therefore that its
singer sees, amidst the fluctuating shadows of this twilight world, an august,
incomprehensible destiny for man. As a song of triumph the four stanzas
omitted from this historic hymn are worthy of remembrance:
"For beyond the grave there
Brighter mansions in the sky!
Where, enthroned, the Diety
Gives man immortality.
There, enlarged, his soul
What was veiled in mystery;
Heavenly glories fill the
Show his Maker face to face.
God of life's eternal day!
Guide us, lest from Thee we
By a false, delusive light,
To the shades of endless
Calm, the good man meets his
Guards celestial round him
See! he bursts these mortal
And o'er death the victory
MASONRY AT WORK
[Beautiful is the Spirit of Masonry, and tireless
in its labors. It never sleeps and it takes no vacations. If by some celestial
art one could trace its influence, and make record of its gracious ministries,
what a testimony it would be. But that Spirit is as modest and shy as it is
unwearying in its served, using grips and signs the better to hide its
charities. Nevertheless, in times of trial and crisis it is dramatically
revealed, and men see, for a brief time, what it means. Therefore ye editor
proposes to have a regular department in this journal wherein to make record
of notable instances of Masonry at work, and he invites his readers to assist
by furnishing examples, such as the one given below - instances of relief, of
rescue, of brotherly service and sacrifice in peace and in war - if so the
"human touch" may be felt in the midst of our studies of philosophy, history,
Here follows a brief digest of facts of which
elaborate record may be read in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of
Michigan. While out hunting in Nov., 1909, Brother Harry Brownell disappeared,
and as it was feared that some fatal accident had befallen him, strict search
was made, but to no avail. Whereupon the Craft of Michigan raised a fund of
$1672 for relief and search, but no trace of the missing man was found.
Finally, one Sunday morning in November, 1913, while walking in the woods near
Newberry, Brother Irving Weber was attracted by a shoe lying close to the
road. The singular circumstance excited his curiosity, and upon closer
examination he found the skeleton of the long lost brother. Opening the vest,
he discovered a soft-nosed bullet mushroomed against some pencils in the
pocket, showing that the ball had passed through the body and lodged in the
vest pocket. Evidently, a hunter, mistaking him for an animal, had shot him in
the back and ran away and left him. The remains were taken to St. Charles and
buried by his home Lodge, No. 313.
Of the relief fund, $376 remained on hand unused.
Upon inquiry it was found that the family of Brother Brownell were left in
need, and this sum was presented to his wife on Christmas morning. It was a
complete surprise to the young wife, whose tears told of her gratitude. During
the long search for the body of Brother Brownell, his father-in-law, Brother
Jay Doty, had mortgaged his little home for $950 to aid in the search. No
sooner had this sum been expended than he was smitten with almost total
blindness, incapacitating him for doing any kind of work. In due course the
mortgage was foreclosed, and Brother Doty was without a home. Once again the
Masons took the matter in hand, St. Charles Lodge subscribing a fund with
which it purchased a little home, and with the aid of other Lodges paid for
it, giving Brother Doty a clear title. Such is the spirit of Masonry in
Michigan; and the only reason given for this ministry in the report is as
"We should, as God prospers us as an institution and as
individuals, be ready and anxious to aid those who are not fortunate or who
have fallen by the wayside. We are our brother's keeper, and we cannot pass by
on the other side when we see him in sore distress. If we do, we are not
possessed of the Masonic Spirit,
nor does the
love of God dwell in us."
Knowledge is the solace of the intellect as
religion is the comfort of the soul, and its acquisition is not a toil but an
- G. W. Speth.
There is a hall in every
Behind whose wainscot gnaws a
Along whose sides are empty
Peopled with dreams and
When down this hall you take
And face, alone, the hollow
Be like the child who goes to
Though faltering and half
Of something crouching
In every corner he can see
Ready to snatch him into
Yet goes on bravely to his
Knowing, above him, watching
His Father waits upon the
- Madison Cawein.
By Bro. R.I. Clegg of Ohio
MASONRY is a prolific subject
for discussion. Mention any angle of it and at once there is scope for
abundant speculation, for cautious investigation, and for rigidly intensive
and extensive study. Highways and byways there be through most delightful
dales of dallice where the easy-going student may rest and refresh himself.
Hills, too, there are whose loftiest crags defy scent save only to the
hardiest of ambitious climbers. To each according to his taste, to every one
according the test, all having their reward in proportion to the capacity and
capability of him who seeks.
From this broad sweep of the
field Masonic it is easy to see how our society may by the flood of incoming
suggestions be overwhelmed to a degree where performance must lag behind all
promises. Editorial willingness to supply all desired information will wait
perforce upon limited space. A plan by which inquiries can be assigned to
competent and co-operative brethren to answer by correspondence is one method
of dealing with that branch of the situation where for any reason the printed
page is too tardy or otherwise insufficient. If queries or suggestions do not
get early attention some of our members will perhaps naturally assume that
their particular choice receives not the consideration worthy of it. Moreover,
on the other hand, it is easy to reach a rut and stay there notwithstanding
the high standard set at the start. Many essays are too often imitative and
not initiative in either matter or manner. To avoid the whirlpool or the rock
will call for all the Masonic enthusiasm, energy, and equipment of our
Suppose we set down a few
items toward which the taste of at least one Mason is inclined. The number of
them is not comprehensive but merely illustrative. Neither is the order in
which they are mentioned any indication of their relative importance. The
appended queries are readily increased.
What is the present status of
the Morgan question? Have the various references to his appearance in other
lands--such as the one at Smyrna mentioned in the biography of Ren Perley
Poore--been conclusively cleared up? That the Anti-Masonic situation may have
had a great dependence upon purely political matters is probable but how far
has this been established? What foundation is there for the account by Father
Eisenberg of a connection of the Jesuite with the Morgan mystery? Is there on
record anywhere and what is the report of that early Committee of the Grand
Lodge of New York appointed to collect and submit all the obtainable
information on this subject? Did Col. King, John Whitney, Samuel Chubbuck, or
Eli Bruce commit to anyone additional information not already ventilated by
Rob Morris, W.L. Stone, Josiah Drummond, Thurlow Weed, John Ross Robertson, or
other of the better known writers?
What about Leo Taxil? Has any
Roman Catholic study of him appeared since he recanted from that faith? If so,
would it be worth reproduction in synopsis or in extenso? Perhaps Benno Loewy
or some other equally well-informed brother--if any there be-- could be
induced to give us an up-to-the-times character study and biographical account
of this curious individual.
The monitorial work of the
Scottish Rite bears strong impress of the philosophy of Eliphaz Levi. An
American investigation at first hand of the work of this mystic should not be
lacking in attraction if sympathetically and skillfully performed.
What a fascinating subject
would be the study of Masonic plays, operas, songs, and stories ! Mozart's "Zauberflote,"
Gounod's "Queen of Sheba," Dumas' "Balsamo" drama, and many others could
probably to great advantage be reproduced. Especially would the words and
music composed by Mozart for the ceremonies of his lodge be well deserving of
Much has been written upon
the Old Charges and the Regius Manuscript but a complete modern rendering,
particularly of the latter, is badly wanted. Put into twentieth century
English these old treasures would have added value and a greatly enlarged
circle of students. Hughan's "Old Charges" will in due course be reprinted by
the Lodge of Research at Leicester, England.
How many and many a time does
the story appear about a Pope being a member of the Masonic fraternity. Few
Masonic magazines have failed to give it space at some time during lo these
long years. Well, what are the facts ? Of late an effort has been made to
filter the fiction out of this ancient tale. For sundry items of much interest
about this hardy perennial blossom of the field Masonic thanks are due my good
brethren Messrs. Shaver of Topeka, and Evans of Denver. Some of these days the
data will be jotted down in shape for publication. Meantime any new or old
contribution on this topic will be most thankfully received and in due course
passed along to "The Builder."
What is the historic relation
of the Church of Rome to the Craft and to its predecessors ? That there is a
singular and suggestive connection between them running back into a remote
past is very probable, and that their earlier relations may have been most
amicable and cooperative is equally plausible. No one can consider similar
symbolism, also the quaint reminders of the one set of ceremonies by the
other, without an abiding impression that in the one body the other has found
Has the theory of Craft
origins not paid too little respect to the probable deposition within the
operative body of cathedral builders of the teachings and practices of the
persecuted and disappearing Knights of the Temple? From whence naturally comes
the Commandery if not by some such route ? Do the early accusations against
the Templars not indicate certain rigorous tests of obedience and courage
employed in their initiatory ceremonies ?
Is it not both desirable and
feasible to briefly digest the several authoritative Masonic Codes? One State
will not admit a candidate if lacking a finger. In another he would not be
rejected if he lacked a finger but could not be admitted if he was without a
hand. One State permits the officer's jewels to be suspended by pin, cord or
ribbon and their aprons are blue. Another State calls for the white lambskin
apron and the ribbon-hung jewel for officers. A stereopticon is forbidden in
one State and permitted in another. One Grand Chapter requires its Royal Arch
Masons to wear scarlet bordered aprons while another approves aprons entirely
red. One Grand Chapter has legislated upon the dimensions of certain of its
furniture and properties. Others leave the whole matter to the individual
tastes of the subordinate Chapters. Some Grand Lodges approve of rituals,
others don't. Several require certificates of membership from visiting
brethren. These and many others are instances showing a diversity of practice
that maybe would in time become simplified and systematized were there any
synopsis made and regularly remade of these differences.
What are the conditions of
Masonry in other countries? Can we somehow get an insight of their ceremonies?
For instance, there is no Scottish Rite in Germany but there is an Inneren
Orient. What does this last most nearly compare to in our American series of
degrees? How far does the German civil law interfere with the fraternity? The
Rectified Rite is not unfamiliar to me but cannot discuss it in print. Could
we not get that admirable and scholarly Mason, Edouard La-Tente, to give us a
comparative paper on the Rites of Continental Europe? Maybe that facile
linguist, Jose Castellot, at present head of the Scottish Rite of Mexico,
might be induced to tell us of Masonry as practiced between the Straits of
Magellan and the Rio Grande. Of the three governing bodies of the Craft in
France and their relative purposes few American Freemasons are fully informed.
Much misinformation is among us on this subject. A first step toward mutual
respect is to be better informed. And our knowledge ought to include an
acquaintance with the propaganda waged vigorously in France and Belgium
against Freemasonry by the Abbe Tremontin and his Anti-Masonic followers. Our
admiration for Latin Freemasonry will not be lessened when we understand the
activity and force of the foes it faces.
What of Cerneau? Little is
known. Dr. Reid, in his history of Washington Lodge, in the City of New York,
has about a couple of pages devoted to Cerneau. Bro. Albert Pike has in the
first ten volumes of the proceedings of the Southern Masonic Jurisdiction, and
in his several pamphlets, dealt freely with Cerneauism but of its founder we
find little beyond the accounts of the clash between De la Motta and Cerneau.
In the earlier reports of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvannia there is to be
found mention of Cerneau because the lodge in the West Indies to which he is
accredited was acting under authority of the officials at Philadelphia. But
there is much data to be unearthed. What was Cerneau's trouble with the Grand
Lodge of Havana before he left Cuba for the United States? What was the report
of the Committee appointed by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania to look into
that dispute? A committee was appointed but I have not discovered its
conclusions. Of course I have read the report of a Committee on Cerneau
appointed by the Grand Orient of France. The two reports would, combined,
clear up a foggy episode in the progress of American Freemasonry.
Through what changes have our
ritualistic ceremonies passed? There is immense difficulty in treating such a
topic by the medium of the printed page. That it can adequately be done is
very doubtful. There is more promise in classifying the work by Grand
Jurisdictions so that a resident in any state or county might have a guide as
to what ceremonies were most akin or least alike to those already familiar to
him. Even at this stage, and certainly beyond it, the propriety of discussion
without the tyled door is debatable.
Has anything of a
comprehensive character been published on the progress of the monitorial work?
The story of the Conservators and of like enterprises would be most
instructive to many.
Down in the vault of the
great library at Cedar Rapids is hidden much ritualistic material including
the Bowers-Hughan manuscript, the Gilles Fellowcraft lecture, and hundreds of
others. A catalogue of this abundance would be an interesting contribution and
might exhibit at least the date when each item was in use and where it had its
vogue and its survivals.
Let me not overlook a keen
survey of topics treatable, topics upon which much more could be desired than
is commonly found in print, that was published in the Palestine Bulletin by A.
G. Pitts. A long life work stretches far away ahead of anyone doing full
justice to but a tithe of the items mentioned by Bro. Pitts. Much the same can
be said of these raised in my present contribution and the number of them
could be easily increased, a selection only being attempted. As opportunity
may serve the writer will do his best as on other occasions to add to one or
another of these subjects such facts as he can unearth. In this case he very
gladly lends such help as he has at command and will ever be most appreciative
of the labor of others in similar fields of endeavor.
A careful reading of all the
foregoing leads the writer to consider two additional points. As in the case
of the esoteric work there is much that cannot well be ventilated in the
printed page. Would it not be well each year or bi-annually to call a
convention of the members of the Society? If such meetings were held at Cedar
Rapids, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Cincinnati, New York, or other
cities possessing large Masonic libraries, the attendants at these conventions
would not only have the benefit of these splendid collections but would enjoy
companionship with kindred souls under most favorable conditions for the
examination and discussion of the various questions such a body would handle.
As to the time of year, and whether these gatherings should be coincident with
the assemblies of other national or state Masonic meetings, need not be
further dwelt upon now. Out of this idea of a national convention naturally
evolves the thought of lesser sessions to be held wherever a few members of
the Society can be assembled. Some one member in each section should be given
a list of the local members and asked to get them together occasionally. How
often and how regularly these meetings should be we will not now determine. A
start is the main thing.
The second point is one
approached with considerable diffidence. To my mind it is of the utmost
importance. Yet few may agree with me. But here is the point: Too little
emphasis is put upon the value of definitions. Let us take the classic
instance attributed to Mackay. It is often quoted as "Freemasonry is a system
of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols." It is
captivating rhetoric but marks no essential difference between Christianity,
or almost any other of the world's great religions, and Freemasonry. We may
say that Freemasons reverence God, honor the Craft, and love their neighbors;
Freemasonry being the institution inculcating these duties. This is too
diffuse for a definition. Nevertheless there is one more extended that may be
acceptable to some of the brethren. Take the thirteenth chapter of
Corinthians, that well known discussion of charity, and substitute Freemasonry
for that oft misapplied word. This also may easily be criticized as a
definition though worthy of consideration as an expression of Masonic faith.
The brethren will surely
admit that the word "Freemasonry" is too loosely applied. If a Chinese
literateur employs the square as a figure of speech it is too readily assumed
that there is in China a Masonry like unto ours. Because fundamental truths
are taught in Freemasonry there are those who look upon it as being from a
remote age the preserver of all the verities of religion. We need not here and
now decide how far we can fairly go in this direction. But to keep us in the
path we require the light of consistent definitions, something more than the
usual output of the dictionaries, and a trifle less aspiring than that very
partial conviction which seeks to credit it with everything in sight.
Humble, gentle, merciful,
just and devout souls are everywhere of one religion, and when death hath
taken off the mask, they will know one another. --William Penn.
Masonry is Friendship, Love,
and Integrity-- friendship which rises superior to the fictitious distinctions
and arrangements of society, the prejudices of religion, and the pecuniary
conditions of life; love which knows no limit, no inequality, no decay;
integrity which binds a man to the eternal law of duty. --A. C. L. Arnold.
"All else for which the old
builders sacrificed has passed away-- all their living interests, and aims,
and achievements. We know not for what they labored, and we see no evidence of
their reward. Victory, wealth, authority, happiness--all have departed, though
bought by many a bitter sacrifice. But of them and their life and their toil
upon earth, one reward, one evidence, is left to us in those gray heaps of
deep wrought stone. They have taken with them to their graves their powers,
their honors, and their errors; but they have left us their adoration." --John
Ruskin. The Lamp of Sacrifice.
I stood in the heart of God;
It seemed a place that I had
(I was blood-sister to the
Blood-brother to the stone.)
I found my love and labor
My house, my raiment, meat
My ancient rage, my old
Yea, all things that were
I saw the spring and summer
The trees grow bare, the
All was the same as once it
Upon my hills at home."
--William Vaughn Moody.
Then suddenly in my own heart
I felt God walk and gaze
He spoke; His words seemed
With gladness and with doubt.
Here is my meat and wine, he
My love, my toil, my ancient
Here is my cloak, my book, my
And here my old despair.
Here are my seasons: winter,
Summer the same, and autumn
The fruits I look for;
As on my heavenly hills.
--William Vaughn Moody.
LETTER OF GREETING
I hasten to tender my best wishes for the success
of the new Society which has been founded by the Masonic scholars of the State
of Iowa. The efforts of the late Theodore Sutton Parvin in the cause of
Masonic Research have been ably continued by his son, your present Grand
Secretary, and among the elder Brethren in your Grand Jurisdiction a spirit of
inquiry with respect to the past of our Masonic Inheritance has taken firm
root. Of this there is an example in point which is afforded by the formation
of the Society whose literary organ it will be your privilege to conduct.
I do not think the editorial chair could be better
filled. Your record as a writer of the Craft is a bright one; you are a ripe
Masonic scholar, and have the power of expressing yourself with vigor and
lucidity in the mother tongue of Freemasonry. All omens, therefore, point in
the direction of the new Society being admirably served by the journal whose
province it will be to record the progress of the Association, the labors of
which are having their beginning with the current year.
As an Honorary Member of the Grand Lodge of Iowa for more than
a quarter of a century, I am, have been, and shall ever remain deeply
interested in all its proceedings, and that the important step it has recently
taken with regard to the further development of Masonic Science may constitute
another and lasting claim on the gratitude of all who are anxiously looking
for "more Light," is my earnest
ROBERT FREKE GOULD
SURELY no first issue of a journal ever received
more bouquets, and fewer brickbats, than the initial number of The Builder;
and this is obviously due to the kindness of the Craft, and also to the deeply
felt need for such a journal and the Society which it represents. Ye editor
and secretary have been literally overwhelmed by innumerable letters of
congratulation and goodwill, expressing appreciation, and offering the most
hearty co-operation, and they take this opportunity of replying, since it
would be impossible to do so otherwise, and of thanking the brethren for their
words of good cheer.
Every feature of The Builder has met with praise,
including its size, its design, its paper, type and cover, and almost every
article it contained. Hardly a letter but has expressed gratitude for the
lecture of Brother Pound, and eager anticipation of the other four lectures in
the series - which moves us to announce that we have secured his series of
lectures of the. Symbolism of Masonry, to appear later. Ye editor is sincerely
grateful for all the good words about his little Foreward, which ran a neck
and neck race with "Ernst and Falk" in the minds of our readers. Many
suggestions have been offered, all of them timely and valuable, but hardly a
single criticism - except from Brethren who are impatient and want everything
done at once; an impatience due to their deep interest. Typical of hundreds of
others is this most gracious letter from Past Grand Master Hepner, of Montana:
"I have carefully read the initial number of The
Builder, and allow me to assure you that if the succeeding numbers are as good
as the first, you will have the finest Fraternal Magazine ever published;
every line of it is worthy of study by every member of the Craft, and its
readers should reach into many thousands in numbers."
Instead of keeping these letters to ourselves, the
editor and secretary feel that it is but fair that the Society should know
what impression The Builder has made; and hence this brief catena of extracts
telling from many points of view how and why the Society and its journal are
appreciated. Often The Builder is praised as much for what it does not contain
as for what it publishes, and we have deliberately selected the most
conservative letters, lest our readers think us extravagant.
"As to the aim and object of the Society, I am in
full accord. Co-operation upon the lines indicated in the Foreword must bring
good results, and will fill a want lonfir felt in the United States. There are
several Societies of the kind in England, and all are doing good work." -
Julius F. Sachse, Philadelphia.
"I fully appreciate the vast field that you are
pioneering. You will have to furnish 'Mellen's Food' for the infants, and
strong meat for the adults, and until you get the 'range' you will as often
fire in the air over the heads of your constituents as you will shoot their
boots off. But time, patience and perseverence will finally accomplish all
things, and in the future you and your fellow-workers of the Grand
Jurisdiction of Iowa will go down in history as the foster-fathers of true
Masonic advancement." - H. F. Evans, Denver.
"The Builder starts off with the right spirit for
constructive work in Masonry. The Foreword is splendid. After many years' work
along educational lines in Masonry, I at last feel the encouragement which
comes from a closer relation thus established with Brethren, widely scattered
though they may be." - Thomas M. Stewart, Cincinnati.
"The absence of personal mention of bodies and
individuals, which takes up ninety per cent of the average Masonic journal, is
pleasing indeed. But more satisfactory to me is the policy inaugurated and
embodied in the line, 'We drew a circle that took him in.' May this policy
always be continued in The Builder." - J. Otis Ball, Evanston, Ill.
"I think the first issue of The Builder alone
worth the price. Indeed I am afraid the price is too low, and unless the
membership grows apace it will be necessary to mark it up. I believe and
confidently hope that this movement will be a boon in Masonic circles, which
we have needed for years." - Thomas A. Hines, Montgomery, Ala.
Indeed, it would be easy to fill one whole issue
of The Builder with letters of like kind and spirit, but these are enough to
show that this Society has struck a responsive chord in the heart of the
Craft, and that it has a great work to do in advancing Masonry. Many thanks,
Brethren, one and all; and we are sure that every member will do his part in
spreading news of the Society and its journal, thereby making it more
effective in behalf of an Order whose spirit of Freedom, Friendship and
Fraternity is the hope of humanity. Both for himself, and for our hard-working
and enthusiastic secretary, without whose investment of time, energy and money
this Society would never have been founded, ye editor extends fraternal
greetings and goodwill.
PEDAGOGY OF MASONRY-
More and more it becomes clear that the problem
before this Society - and before the Order generally, for the matter of that -
is the problem of the pedagogy of Masonry. So far no one has solved that
problem satisfactorily, albeit much has been done in that direction by means
of books, pamphlets, oral and written lectures, study clubs, and various other
methods. Still, we have not yet formulated a definite, systematic, practical
course of Masonic study for the use of young Masons who ask, as perhaps a half
thousand have asked ye editor of late: How should we begin the study of
Masonry, and where ? Moreover, as a chief reason for the existence of this
Society is the working out of this very problem, for some time to come that
task will be its primary undertaking, the more so because so many young
Masons, new to the Order and its wonderful history and philosophy, are
numbered among its members.
Therefore ye editor has planned a symposium on the
subject of How to Study Masonry, and has asked a number of eminent Masons -
some of them university men who have had long experience in teaching - to
contribute to it, with the intent of bringing the best thought, experience and
method of the Order to bear on the problem. When completed and published in
full, as it will be in the Builder - beginning with the next issue - it is
believed that this symposium will be one of the most suggestive and valuable
documents in the literature of the Order. Meanwhile, that we may have the
benefit of the widest experience and the most fruitful suggestion, we throw
the door open to the whole Society, inviting contributions to this symposium
from every quarter; and no one should hesitate because he has not been asked
by letter to contribute.
What we want is the net result of the experience
and counsel of the Craft. and with this in hand the Society will formulate and
publish a detailed program by which a young Mason of average ability and
training may begin the study of Masonry, and pursue it step by step
intelligently, on a basis as sound pedagogically as it is Masonically, and
thus come to know the story of this great Order, its development, its
symbolism and philosophy. Time will be needed to work out this plan in all its
details, but it not only must be done but can be done, and this Society can
render no more important and far-reaching service to the Order.
Here is good news. At last there is to be a
biography of Albert Pike, written by his daughter, Mrs. Lilian Pike Roome,
whose service to the memory of her distinguished father will evoke the
gratitude of Masons of every rite and rank who hold him in veneration, alike
for his character and his genius. They will welcome every detail of the life
of a man who devoted his extraordinary powers to the Order which he loved, and
who wrought in its Temple as a Michel Angelo of Masonic architecture - the
master genius of American Masonry. Many years have come and gone since he
disappeared from mortal vision, and other men and other scenes have come upon
the stage; but Pike still lives, as he wished to live when he said: "I wish my
monument to be builded only in the hearts and memories of my brethren of the
Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite."
There will be no conflict between the labors of
Mrs. Roome and the little book which ye editor has long had in mind, and to
which reference was made in the first issue of the Builder. His work, should
he find time to complete it, would be more a study than a biography, an
estimate, at once sympathetic and critical, of Pike as a Masonic thinker and
artist. No purer, nobler man has stood at our altar or left his story in our
traditions. He was the most eminent Mason in the world, not only by virtue of
his high rank, but by the richness of his culture, and the enduring quality of
his achievement. Nor will the Order ever permit to grow dim that stately,
grave, and gentle soul.
By the kindness of Sir W. J. Chetwode Crawley,
Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, we have the advanced proofs of
an essay from his pen, discussing "The Legend of the SS Quatuor Coronati." It
embodies the first attempt at connecting mediaeval Freemasonry with the
followers of Wycliff, the progenitors of the English Reformation, and also the
earliest authentic and authorized association of Solomon with the Guild
Legend. It is one of the most brilliant and important papers in recent Masonic
Research, but as it would not be proper to anticipate its publication in the
Transactions of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, we reserve more extended notice of
it until a later date.
It is good to know that we are to have a biography
of Robert Collyer, one of the noblest preachers of his day and an ardent
Freemason. It will be written by John Haynes Holmes, at the request of the
family of Dr. Collyer. There was about Collyer, as Carlyle would say,
something of the eternal. All who heard him carried a lingering, haunting
suggestion that somehow, through this man, there came an echo of a voice
divinely clear. He was a man of winning words and melting moods, as rich in
pathos as in humor, and ye editor is one of the many thousands who can never
forget him nor lose the impress of his rare and beautiful genius.
By all means let us have a question box, as so
many have suggested, in which such questions as may properly be asked and
answered in print may be taken up and discussed. Meantime, not a few may be
glad to know of a little journal devoted to that very thing, "Miscellanea
Latomorum or Masonic Notes and Queries," printed for private circulation by L.
Upcott Gill & Son, Drury Lane, London, W. C., annual subscription five
shillings. This little paper will be found very useful in many ways.
Of course, we cannot promise to deal with
questions not Masonic, though a number of such inquiries have already reached
this office; as for example, one brothel asks for a little brief of what
English literature has to say about the evil of gambling. Well, there is
Scott's "St. Ronan's Well," and especially George Eliot's story of Fred Vincy
in "Middlemarch," not to mention Dickens' "Old Curiosity Shop," which are
among the most impressive exposures of the imbecility and disaster of
A certain minister who wishes to remain nameless -
and we do not blame him - confides to ye editor that Masonry is an invention
of Satan, and that Masons are on their way to perdition. His letter recalls
the saying of Father Taylor, who was a good Methodist and a great humorist,
when he said that it would not do to send Emerson to hell. Why, said he, the
tide of immigration would set in that way.
Let a man learn to look for the permanent in the
mutable and fleeting; let him learn to bear the disappearance of things he was
wont to reverence, without losing his reverence; let him learn that he is
here, not to work, but to be worked upon; and that, though abyss open under
abyss, and opinion displace opinion, all are at last contained in the Eternal
"If my bark sink, 'tis to
WHEN THE GAVEL SOUNDS TO CLOSE.
How many of us Masons
Live according to our creed;
How many lend a helping hand
To a brother when in need ?
How many of us Masons
Have the lodge alone in mind
With the work so letter
The great TRUTH we'll never
How many of us Masons,
Both of high and low degree,
Are just button-wearing
Even as you and me?
How many of us Masons
Have the true idea at heart,
And each is striving daily
To do his humble part ?
How many of us Masons,
When the gavel sounds to
Carries with him from the
Better thoughts as home he
- James T. Wray, Worshipful
Master, Evanston, Ill.
When the victors and the vanquished are weeping
for their dead,
When are hushed the vindications, the last wild
prayers are said,
When from heaps of desolation, so late a fair
To the wondering stars arises the incense of the
O Thou of everlasting love, whose name we vainly
In Thy long-suffering tenderness have mercy on us
Do Thou dispel the primal fear, drive out the
horde of hates,
And wake the Joy of Brotherhood for which this sad
Is it Masonry
To dare to take God's name in
Or be careful of our speech;
From evil thoughts and words
And practice what we preach ?
Is it Masonry
To boast of your fine jewels,
Or purify your heart;
To be a man and Mason
And act a Mason's part?
Is it Masonry
To fail to help your
Or your obligations fill?
To leave it for the others,
Or mean and say 'I will?'
- F.G. Oliver, Georgia.
"IN A NOOK WITH A BOOK"
UTTERLY cast down by
the gigantic tragedy of world-war, equally
by the magnitude of its horror and by his own inability to grasp it as a whole
- so vast are its issues and so
stage on which it is enacted - ye editor took down the epical drama of Thomas
Hardy, "The Dynasts." (Macmillan Co.) He wished to re-read it, having just
read an account of how it was acted on the stage in London recently - a feat
he did not believe possible - and he is grateful for having done so, albeit he
rejects more firmly than ever the Lucretian philosophy that runs through it.
Here is a drama of the ten years of the Napoleonic
wars, in three parts, nineteen acts, one hundred and thirty-five scenes, and
more than five hundred characters. The action ranges over all Europe where the
great battles were fought, through camps, in courts, in parliament, and not a
great figure in any of the lands involved at the time is missing from the
cast; hardly a high-lighted incident in the struggle is omitted. Truly, a
wonderful achievement of genius, almost as if the historical tragedies of
Shakespeare were rolled into one stupendous drama. By a miraculously swift
panorama the scene unfolds, and we are now in Trafalgar, now at Leipsig, now
at the burning of Moscow, now at Waterloo; now hearing Wellington swear, now
watching Pitt die - the while those long dead men talk in a speech but
slightly changed from the records of State papers, memoirs, and letters of
Not only so - and this is what held ye editor as
by a spell - we are shown the whole picture from above and without the world,
as it is discussed by disembodied intelligences who sit aloft and aloof,
watching the drama and offering interpretation in stately comment. The Spirit
of the Years, the chorus of the Pities, the Ironic Spirit, the Shade of the
Earth, and the Spirit of Rumor hold high conclave, describing the acts of the
drama with vividness of crisp detail, and debating their meaning. Always the
Pities are wondering why such things can be as the Dynasts do, how the people
can be so sacrificed to the rulers and have no profit of it all; while the
Ironic Spirit mocks. The Spirit of the Years has no explanation save that it
is so. And ever recurs the insistence that the Power which moves the show,
Dynasts as well as their tools, works unknowingly, purposelessly, blindly,
even as the Dynasts do in the end.
With this fatalistic atheism ye editor has no
affinity - holding, rather, with Whitman, that we may know the universe as
"roads for traveling souls," and also "that they go toward the best, toward
something great" - none the less he rose from a retreading of "The Dynasts"
and turned to the contemplation of the present war with a more cosmic view of
it, seeing history r epeating itself in the large and in detail, catching
hints of recurrences of events and similitudes, and forefeeling the good
working itself out through war, the Dynasts working their own undoing, and the
people awakening to be no longer duped into mutual murder. So mote it be.
* * *
By chance, as we say, the next book opened was a
noble volume on "Greek Philosophy," by John Burnet, (Macmillan Co.) and as
luck would have it, ye editor, turning through the many pages, fell upon the
analysis and discussion of "Phaedrus" - that grand argument for the
immortality of the soul, to which hardly a single reason has been added since
that far off time - and he heard Socrates saying that such an argument ought
to close with prayer. Whereupon he uttered that brief and wise prayer, putting
into a few words all his desire:
"O beloved Pan, and all ye other gods of this
place, grant me to become beautiful in the inner man, and that whatever
outward things I have may be at peace with those within. May I deem the wise
man rich, and may I have such a portion of gold as none but a just man can
either bear or employ. Do we need anything else, Phaedrus ? For myself I have
"Make the same prayer for me, too," said Phaedrus,"
for the possession of friends should be share and share alike."
How beautiful, how wise, reminding one of the
prayer of two boys whereof we read in the old "Katha Upanishad" of India: "May
He protect us both. May He enjoy us both. May our wisdom grow bright
together." One may search the collects of the Church in vain for a parallel to
this - the dear love of man for his comrade joined with a sense of care for
the joy of God.
Rich in learning, this volume is so original in
its interpretations that it will provoke debate, especially its efforts to
disentangle Socrates from Plato in the dialogues. There is a noteworthy
chapter of Pythagoras, "the man who first united science with religion," and
he is given a higher place in the pantheon of philosophy than ever before -
above even Socrates himself. Ye editor will return to this volume at another
time, taking up the analysis of "Philebus," the dialogue in which Plato
expounds his philosophy of numbers, if so he may clear the air in respect of
the use of numbers as spiritual symbols, about which there has been so much
fog in Masonic thought.
* * *
What is poetry ? It is music associated with
pleasurable ideas, said Edgar Poe, who had more music and fewer pleasurable
ideas than almost any man - his song having chiefly to do with the beauty of
death, or else the death of beauty. Macaulay, who was sane to a fault -
hopelessly sane - held that poetry is a form of insanity. Whereas Charles
Lamb, who knew more about both poetry and insanity, made it a point to refute
Macaulay. Perhaps we cannot do better than accept the definition of
Wordsworth, that poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; and
if we say life instead of knowledge it is perfect.
Now ye editor is a lover of poetry - though he
would not go as far as Lanier and say that poets are the only truth-tellers -
and he has no patience with those who say that we have no great poetry today.
Why, only the other day he opened a slender volume called "The Lonely Dancer,"
by Richard Le Gallienne, and read lines as perfect as ever were moulded by
human lips. There is the song "To a Bird at Dawn," to which no one may fear to
apply the term great - lines addressed to the "little creature of soft wings"
in whose small feathered throat "sings the long epic of the world." They are
worthy of Shelley or Keats, yet they came to birth in our time, and will be
singing a hundred years hence:
"And there is something, the song saith,
That makes me unafraid of death."
* * *
Speaking of poetry, here are the "Collected Poems"
of Arthur Edward Waite, so well known and highly honored among Masons - a man
to whom this world is an infinite parable, a place of sacraments and symbols;
to whom the beauties of a beautiful creation are always the vesture and the
vesture only, of a world Unseen. The processes of Nature and the ritual of the
seasons appeal to him as a great rite forever in the performing, and this
sense of the wonder and bloom of the world gives glow and color to his song,
and withal a richness of suggestion and finish of form. For example:
"Why hint so deeply, O mind within,
Of the going forth and the coming in
Of doves through an arch
Do I not know that the whence
Of the life of man may be
symboled there ?
But in light so bright and on
sward so fair
O let what is hidden be
* * *
Of a truth, Algernon Blackwood - he who wrote that
divinely beautiful story of "The Prisoner of Fairyland," wherein, if a man
read with a mind "unwumbled," he will find his child-heart again - is a
past-grand master of weird and ghostly stories. His new book, "Incredible
Adventures" - and well-named it surely is - contains five "long-short"
stories, each of which deals with the occult. The most remarkable is entitled
"A Descent into Egypt," and tells how the remotest past lays hold of an
excavator who penetrates the tombs of ancient dynasties, until the present
world becomes indifferent to him. George Islay leaves his true soul at Thebes,
and only a shell walks the streets of London. Egypt has a dangerous spell, we
are told, for her worshippers. Behind the stillness of hot, windless days,
behind the peace of calm, gigantic nights, it lurks unrealized, monstrous and
irresistible. The stream of life runs backward and the heart lives backwards.
The pilfering of her ancient dead Egypt suffers still; she, in revenge, preys
at her leisure on the living. Ay, it gives one the creeps to read about it.
* * *
If only one could remember all the striking
phrases the startling and quick flashing of insight, which he meets in books,
what a rich mind would be his reward. Here is a story, reflecting much of
nobility and love and a restrained and quiet humor - "Faces in the Dawn,' by
Hagedorn - in which ye editor found these words which set him musing a whole
evening, and the more he mused the more they meant:
"There are not two worlds, one outside the house
and one inside; there are not two struggles. There is only one struggle, the
struggle for spiritual growth and none of us can fight it for others, and none
of us can fight it alone."
* * *
Practical Mysticism, by
Evelyn Underhill. Dent and Sons, London.
The King of the Dark Chamber,
by Tagore. Macmillan Co., New York.
The Rise of the American
People, by R. G. Usher Century Co., New York.
Vitruvius: Ten Books on
Architecture, translated by M. K. Morgan. Harvard University Press.
Jacques de Molay, by Charles
Fraternity, by J. R.
Hutchins, Ardmore. Okla.
A faint light shining for a
A breath of wind upon the
A stirring in the mist; a
A sense of distance, height
A little wave of melody !
O but how beautiful to see
The light leaf dance upon the
The bloom upon the hedgerow
By the transport of a singing
And - after darkness and
The sun upon the sails of
All up and down the dancing
O but how beautiful to hear
A little whisper in the ear,
A smaller voice than note of
A still small voice, a mighty
A whisper in the heart to say
That God is not so far away !
- A. E. Waite.
"The verdict which
From lengthening scroll of
Voice of earth to earth
Prayers of Saints that inly
Saying, What is excellent,
As God lives, is permanent;
Hearts are dust, heart's
Heart's love will meet thee