Babel ⬩ Baconian Theory of Masonry ⬩ Abbé Augustin Barruel ⬩ Bearded Brothers ⬩ Beauséant ⬩ Belgium ⬩ Louis Blanc ⬩ Blessed Life in Masonry ⬩ Blumenhagen ⬩ Bonnichon ⬩ Broached Thurnel ⬩ Browne’s Master Key ⬩ Johann Gottlieb Buhle ⬩ Building Guilds
That exact metaphysical science and theosophy which is called among expositors of the Secret Tradition by such titles as Doctrine and the Tree of Life—being derived in their dream through Enoch from that Paradise which was before the world in God—suffered many deprivations, represented in all cases as consequences of transgression in Israel—meaning the elect people as much before as after that people assumed the distinctive name of the Sons of Jacob. The great cloud of all fell upon the Sanctuary of Wisdom as a consequence of an event which is called mystically the Fall of Man. The destruction of the Temple and the years of captivity in Babylon were another cloud, supervening upon another transgression. There was also the episode of Babel, regarded as a sin of pride and ambition, as an attempt to take the sacred Kingdom of the Doctrine by that kind of violence which the Kingdom cannot suffer—violence of corrupted hearts and unclean hands. The penalty incurred is called confusion of tongues, intimating error and division on the root-matter of the doctrine, so that men were no longer of one speech thereon, having ceased to be of one mind. Of such is the Secret Tradition in these pictured events. As regards Masonry, Babel of course represented a Masonic enterprise and early expositors reaped full benefit from the fact. They remembered that the people who were of “one language and one speech” journeyed from the East towards the West, like those who have been tried and proved as Master Masons. When they reached an abiding-place in the land of Shinaar, it is affirmed that they dwelt therein as Noachidae, being the first characteristic name of Masons. It was here that they built their High Tower of Confusion—as it might be a science à rebours. Out of evil comes good, however, and (1) the confusion of tongues gave rise to “the antient practice of Masons conversing without the use of speech,” while for the rest (2) it did not hinder the improvement of Masonry, for “Shem in Asia, Ham in Africa and Japhet in Europe left behind them sufficient vestiges to demonstrate their great skill.” Here is one aspect of architecture in its early history, as conceived by our foolish literati in that long twilight of reverie which followed the epoch-making event of 1717.
Baconian Theory of Masonry
The attempt to explain Freemasonry—Emblematical, Speculative and Figurative—as a new birth in time of the Order of the Rosy Cross has passed into desuetude, and yet there is evident—for it manifests now and again sporadically—a certain unsatisfied feeling, as if the subject were not done with and as if the last word still remained to be said. So also there is a feeling that in some way, occult and unproven, a shaping influence was exercised by Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, on the first beginnings of the Masonic Order. I do not suppose that the last word has been said on this subject either, but it is clear to my own mind that it must be one of negation. The thesis was started by Nicolai, in an appendix on the origin of Freemasonry attached to an Essay on the Knights Templar. The foundation is Bacon’s unfinished romance of The New Atlantis, written late in life and published posthumously. Against all intent and aforethought, it lay a trap for the unwary, because it recounted the story of a certain Solomon’s House, built in the fabulous Island of Bensalem. There could be nothing more unlike the Legend—for example—of the Third Degree; there could be nothing more remote from moralisations on the working tools of the builder’s art; there could be nothing so denuded of the forms and language of symbolism as The New Atlantis. It was the story of a secret house of learning and Christian culture, and as we have only the beginning of what was almost certainly intended to be a long story, the one course open to a critical mind is suspension of judgment as regards Bacon’s purpose, which may have been no more important than recreation and relief for his own mind in the midst of the arduous work which absorbed his days.
Bacon’s Fable.—An address to the reader by Dr. William Rawley, who was—so to speak—Bacon’s literary executor, explains that “the fable” was designed to exhibit a college instituted for the interpretation of Nature. Bacon intended also to compose “a frame of laws” as the machinery of an ideal commonwealth, but he laid it aside in favour of his Natural History, and its ten “centuries,” which “he preferred many degrees before it.” The investigations of Solomon’s House were pursued in deep caverns sunk beneath the hills and in mighty towers set upon high mountains; in lakes and pools and wells: in these they sought “the knowledge of causes and secret motions of things,” to extend the bounds of human empire and the possibilities of Nature. It was also a house of healing, and the deep study of medicine was pursued therein. Experts investigated the mysteries of colours, of sounds, of perfumes, and in all directions made new and great discoveries for the use of man. In fine it was a house placed in a land of religion, a land unknown, “in God’s bosom.” Between this College of the Six Days’ Workes and the College of Emblematic Freemasonry there subsists this sole analogy—that in the latter a craftsman is recommended to study the Mysteries of Nature and Science, while in the former that study was in the state of a going concern.
A German Speculation.—However, in the year 1782 it occurred to the German bookseller and Mason whom I have mentioned—Christoph Friedrich Nicolai—to publish his famous appendix to the work cited, and it affirmed (1) that Bacon had derived from J. V. Andreae and Robert Fludd the idea of a reformation of the world; (2) that in place of accomplishing it by the communication of secret knowledge within the measures of a Secret Society, such as the Rosy Cross, he proposed to proceed in public on evidence drawn from Nature; (3) that the Royal Society was established to carry out Bacon’s plan as put forward in the Instauratio Magna and The New Atlantis; (4) that Elias Ashmole and the astrologer William Lilly were members of this institution; (5) that they and others who were like them procured admission to the Masons’ Company as a field of operation; (6) that they adopted the name of Freemasons; (7) that they combined with their views on natural science and philosophy a political design to restore the House of Stuart, for all this was in the days of the Commonwealth; (8) that the secret association fell into decay after the death of its founders; (9) that it was revived in the year 1717 as a result of the meeting held at the Apple Tree Tavern, which led to the foundation of the Grand Lodge of England.
Pursuits of Ashmole.—Such was the German’s reverie, for which there happens to be no evidence except in the world of dream. Ashmole did not invent or adopt the name of Freemasons to characterise a new society which he had established within the bosom of the Masons’ Company, unknown to that institution: he was in his own words—“made a Freemason” at Warrington in 1646, when the Civil War was indeed raging, but Charles I was on the throne of England, nominally and otherwise, so that there was no dynasty to restore. For the rest, it is true that his sympathies were towards the royalist cause, and he even “carried arms” for the King; but that he plotted afterwards for the Stuart restoration is about as likely as that he took a living and active interest in a Baconian scheme of betterment. Alchemy, astrology, archaeology were his pursuits during the days of Cromwell, as the works which he wrote and edited, and as the great Catalogue of Ashmolean MSS. at Oxford remain to testify.
Abbé Augustin Barruel
Les Mémoires pour servir a l’Histoire de Jacobinisme, published in 1797 and translated simultaneously into English, was the Roman Catholic case against Masonry at the end of the eighteenth century, as Professor Robison’s Proofs of a Conspiracy was the Protestant case. It has been the subject of allusion on the part of Masonic writers in terms of scurrility which are a witness of uncritical animus, while betraying their own incompetence otherwise. It should not be necessary to say that I hold no brief for the Memoirs, but a sense of sincerity intervenes after consulting observations by worthless makers of paragraphs like Woodford and Kenneth MacKenzie. The work of Barruel is of course a partisan work, but after every allowance has been made on this account it remains a very serviceable history of German Illuminism; and if in respect of Masonry he distorted facts and ascribed bad motives in the absence of adequate evidence, we have to remember that at his period he was dealing with a subject which had been born and bred amidst every kind of mendacity, from the First Book of Constitutions to the last struggles of the Rite of the Strict Observance and its Unknown Superiors, from the pretensions embodied in the earliest Écossais Grades to the latest Adonhiramite fables. I see no special reason for rejecting as a pure fabrication the account of his own entrance into Freemasonry under utterly irregular circumstances, though he may have exaggerated his objection to the proceedings. He affirms that during the twenty years preceding 1798 it was difficult in Paris to meet persons who did not belong to the Order. He himself was received as an Apprentice and immediately after as a Companion—otherwise, Fellow Craft—his refusal notwithstanding. This occurred after dinner in the house of a friend and was probably a rough-and-ready attempt to convince him that there was nothing in Masonry to justify the opinion which he had formed concerning it. In a similar manner he became also a Master, declining throughout to comply with any of the requisitions. It was a sufficiently scandalous business on the part of his sponsors, but not incredible, for we know that at this time there was even a clandestine traffic in Grades on the part of needy Masonic adventurers. Barruel states further that he agreed to attend subsequently at a regular meeting, provided that there was no attempt to impose any oath upon him. In this manner, and at the ostensible initiation of a Candidate, he tells us that he learned the surface secret of Masonry, namely, that all men are equal and free and that all are brethren. It was only later on that he came—in his view—to realise the existence within the Lodges of what he terms a very different equality and liberty than appeared on the manifest side. The ultimate meaning and object remained indeed in concealment from many who rose to higher Grades in the Order. The sense in question was that Masonic emancipation signified war against Christ and His altars, war against Kings and their thrones.
Mission of Barruel.—It will be observed that he made this discovery for himself: it was not communicated by others, and he does not pretend to have taken those High Grades in which—according to his story—the real purposes remained veiled for all who did not succeed in finding them. We shall see later on that Casanova bears identical testimony to the fact of a secret in Masonry which transpires for certain people but is never disclosed. Whether in his understanding it was the putative secret of Barruel we do not of course know: it may have been an adventurer’s camouflage. The part and mission of Barruel can be gauged easily; that which he discovered in the Order was that which he read into it: in a word, there were revolutionaries in Masonry, as there was also a watcher like the Abbé. As he searched and sifted to find out evil therein, so there is little question that they on their own part were about their own business; but Masonry at large is not a system of espionage formalised because Barruel went among Masons on the secret service of the Church, and it is not a revolutionary or antichristian system because its Houses of Initiation held anarchists and infidels of their period. One answer to Barruel is that the Christian Grades of Masonry arose in France and their Rituals remainto testify that they imposed on their members the Pauline duty to “fear God and honour the King.”
Alleged Conspiracy.—The Memoirs deserve and will repay careful reading, not only as a picture of the period in its secret circles but as a psychical study of the author, for as it unfolds the conspiracy which is called Jacobinism, so it exhibits how the notion of that conspiracy grew up in his own mind. We know that there was a conspiracy and that it was against altars and thrones, but as such it dates only from the time and place of Weishaupt and his German Illuminism—a great scheme on paper. Barruel, however, assumes a conspiracy from the beginning, as if Voltaire, Diderot, d’Alembert, the body-general of Encyclopaedists were banded together for specific objects in a secret society, whereas they were merely men of letters and philosophers, connected informally by similar intellectual dispositions. I must not, however, debate too seriously the misuse of a single word, and for the rest the contention of Barruel is only too well founded as regards the whole history of free-thought in France: he is right as to how it began; he is right as to where it led. He is wrong because he failed to see that the misery of the common people was that which armed Encyclopaedists, which armed free-thought and brought about a Revolution that a handful of shallow philosophers of themselves would have never dreamed.
The Conspiracy and Masonry.—As regards the office of Freemasonry in the alleged conspiracy, people who hear of Barruel at second hand, in the references which are found among us, imagine most probably that all his Memoirs are devoted to the exposition of its iniquities, but seven-and-twenty chapters of his large work have opened and closed before he approaches this part of his subject, which occupies only six further chapters, after which he turns to the German Illuminati, and their doings fill two volumes in the English translation. In the course of these we see only how Illuminism sought to turn Masonry in the direction of its own intent. The question of fact is by no means at issue, for it is a matter of history that the attempt was made. It is a matter of history also that the attempt failed; but those—if any, outside the Latin Church—who accept Barruel as a witness hereupon will rather suppose that it succeeded for the time being. On the contrary, there was only one German invasion which looked at any time like taking all Masonry for its province and this was the non-political and definitely Christian Rite of the Strict Observance. I shall recur again to Barruel in considering the work of German Illuminism: once more, it was a great scheme on paper.
It would appear that American Masons attach some importance to certain facts which have been collected by Mr. G. F. Fort, concerning Fratres Barbati—otherwise, Conversi—who filled a higher grade than that of ordinary workmen in the Monastic Orders. They are said to have been (1) Free-born, (2) affiliated to various abbeys, (3) wearers of a semi-monastic garb, (4) lodgers within the conventual gates, (5) able to return at their will to the pursuits of ordinary life, (6) haughty in deportment, sumptuous in clothing, exercising full liberty of movement, and above all (7) having long flowing beards. They seem to have been first heard of as Conversi at the abbey of Corbey—presumably Corbie, near Amiens—in the middle of the ninth century. Mr. Fort seems to describe them as converts, abstaining from secular pursuits, and professing conversion to the ideal of monastic life, without taking the vows. This is the sense of their designation, but is not in accordance with their characteristics, as enumerated above. At the abbey of Premontré, in the fourteenth century, an attempt to enforce shaving was made, but the Fratres Barbati threatened to “fire every cloister and cathedral in the country” if such a rule were made against them. I do not know whether it is on this ground that they are described as “worthy ancestors of our modern Craft.”
The leading Banners of the Knights Templar were Vexillum Belli and Beauséant. The heraldic descriptions are in respect of the first, Argent, a Cross Patée Gules, and of the second, a square parallelogrammic Banner, parted per fess Sable and Argent. It bore the inscription: Non nobis, Domine; non nobis, sed Nomini Tuo da gloriam. The word Beauséant was used also as a war-cry and is of obscure and doubtful origin. The Seal of the Order shewed two Knights riding on a single horse, alluding to the poor, denuded state of the chivalry at its first foundation and also to the first vow of profession. This mode of going into battle is said to have been regarded by the Templars as “a fair seat” and the word Beauséant was simply a variant of bien séant. The authority for all this is wanting, both on the point of fact and the etymology. In old French the word séant seems to have signified bien assis, and was therefore sufficient in itself without the prefix. Moreover, the Templar cry was Baucenc or Beaucent, and seems to have signified pie or tacheté, piebald or spotted. In this case it was an allusion to the device of the Banner itself. It is said that the same battle-cry was used by the Teutonic Knights, and it is to be noted that their clothing included a white mantle, embroidered with a black cross.
A Lodge called La Parfaite Union appears to have been founded at Mons on June 24, 1721, and has been alleged therefore to occupy the important historical position of “the oldest Lodge on the continent of Europe.” There is the rumour of another at Ghent in 1730 and of great Masonic activity until 1736, when the Emperor Charles VI suppressed the Order in the Netherlands. As the last point belongs to history, it must be assumed that there was not only something to suppress but that there was a sufficiently solid force to warrant the procedure. Everything else is doubtful until the period 1765, when there is the record of an English Lodge at Alost in Flanders. Other foundations followed and a Provincial Grand Master was appointed in 1769. The fortunes of the Order rose and fell according to the disposition of successive Austrian emperors, till Belgium became a French province at the Revolution and Masonically an appanage of the Grand Orient. Lodges multiplied then and the High Grades colonised the new ground. Another period was inaugurated in 1814 and a Grand Lodge of Belgium was established in 1817. Political independence was secured in 1830, and thereafter King Leopold I is said to have been concerned warmly in Masonic progress throughout his dominion. In 1854 the prohibition of political and religious discussion in Lodges was repealed, and this was a turning-point in Belgian Masonry. In 1911 statistics shewed 2500 members of the Belgian Grand Orient at Brussels, but it is not the only obedience.
Authorities.—I assume that enough has been said for general purposes, but a valuable source of full and reliable information will be found in Cordier’s Histoire de l’Ordre Maçonnique au Belgique, 1857, more especially concerning the Lodge at Mons. M. le Comte Goblet d’Alviella reviewed, extended and brought up to date the researches of Cordier in his study on a Belgian Daughter of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, for which see Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, vol. xx, 1907, pp. 71 et seq. He says (1) that La Parfaite Union at Mons claims to have been instituted by the Grand Lodge of London; (2) that Lodges at Brussels and Tournai, derived from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, were established prior to 1765; (3) that a second Parfaite Union appeared at Namur in 1770; becoming subsequently La Bonne Amitié; (4) that this Lodge—in the early years of the nineteenth century—adopted the title of Mother Lodge of the Rite Écossais Primitif and retained it till 1847; and (5) this notwithstanding that it passed under the jurisdiction of the Grande Loge Provinciale, which was established at Mons in the eighteenth century and was presumably La Parfaite Union. See also Annales Chronologiques, Littéraires et Historiques des Pays-Bas, and La Franc-Maçonnerie Belge au XVIIIe Siècle, by Paul Duchaine, published in 1911, with a preface by Count Goblet d’Alviella. The writer last mentioned also contributed an important account of the English Provincial Grand Lodge ruling over the Austrian Netherlands, and of its Grand Master, the Marquis de Gages, to Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, vol. xxv, 1912, p. 39 et seq. It specifies three Belgian Lodges as appearing in Engraved Lists of the Grand Lodge of England up to the year 1770—namely, La Discrète Impériale, at Alost, 1765; La Constante Union, at Ghent, 1768; and La Vraie et Parfaite Harmonie, at Mons, 1770.
The Revolution of 1848 has no place in these pages, and I mention it only because Louis Blanc has been called its moving spirit and was certainly one of the leaders. In and about that period he was also an active Mason. When he undertook therefore to give his views on the influence exercised by Freemasonry in the original and greater Revolution of the eighteenth century it is not without importance to ascertain their purport. He was not an enemy expatiating outside the gate, but a witness within the ateliers; he was, moreover, on the side of revolution, had made it a business of life and found his gospel therein. He was therefore doing credit to the Brotherhood from his standpoint. It follows that we are in a different position in glancing at his evidence than if we were taking depositions from the dossier of an anti-Masonic League. Whether we can approve, accept and adopt it in our records is another question. The ensuing summary and extracts represent sufficiently for our purpose the Masonic aspects of Blanc’s Histoire de la Revolution Française.
Masonry and Revolution.—(1) The Masonic Order experienced enormous development on the eve of the Revolution, being spread over the whole of Europe and presenting everywhere an instance of a society in which the pretensions of hereditary rank and the pride of birth counted for nothing. (2) Demanding only a belief in God, its mission was to destroy fanaticism, to extirpate national hatreds, to proclaim the bonds of universal friendship. (3) The fact of its existence, raised upon such foundations, tended to denounce the institutions and ideas of the world without its Lodges. (4) Its revolutionary influences were not annulled by its counsels of submission to the laws and respect to sovereigns. (5) The liberty, equality and fraternity practised within the gates were a living sermon preached against the iniquities and miseries of the social order. (6) The darkness and mystery which encompassed it, the pledges which it exacted, the secrets which could be learned only at the price of sinister ordeals—and were to be guarded subsequently under penalties of death and execration—were not only suggestive of conspiracy but offered a field thereto. (7) When the days drew towards exactly that kind of crisis which was meant to translate into life the aroused aspirations of the Order, it was neither likely nor possible that it should abstain from a share therein. (8) What happened in the first place was that significant enlargement of borders to which reference has been made already. (9) It is to be explained by the fact that the Craft Grades comprehended a very large membership opposed to any social subversion, alike by status and principle. (10) Superposed upon these there were created High Grades innumerable, for another class of minds—the Rite of the Strict Observance, Elect Grades, the Kadosh or Regenerated Man, the Chivalry of the Sun and so forward. (11) Those who adhered to the old régime were left in the Craft Degrees, including royal princes and sovereign protectors of Masonry, like Frederick the Great, the very existence of anything above them being concealed carefully. (12) There was one among them, however, with whom no such reserve was needed, and this was Philippe Égalité, Duc de Chartres, who became Grand Master of French Freemasonry in 1771. (13) The Grand Orient of France was established in 1772, putting an end to anarchic rivalries and constituting the Order on purely democratic bases. (14) From this moment the doors of Masonry opened to most of those men whom we find subsequently in the midst of the revolutionary havoc. (15) The Lodge of the Nine Muses successively ingarnered Garat, Brissot, Bailly, Camille Desmoulins, Condorcet, Chamfort, Danton, Dom Gerle, Rabaut-Saint-Etienne. Fauchet, Goupil de Fréfeln and Bonneville presided over the Loge de la Bouche-de-Fer. The Loge de la Candeur was the meeting-place of those who cast in their lot with the Duc de Chartres. (16) Meanwhile the work of the High Grades went on. A chaos of opinions seethed in the Craft Grades, but above them the diversity of Rites represented activities of organised systems, and as may be inferred from such names as Condorcet and De Brissot, the philosophy of the Encyclopaedists and the bourgeois tendencies had considerable place therein.
Revolutionary Leaders.—Out of this thesis issue certain points which cannot be contravened and for which there is evidence otherwise. One is the popular character assumed by French Freemasonry within the jurisdiction of the Grand Orient, but the explanation is surely in the growth of the spirit of the age, while a particular charge against the old regimen of the Grande Loge Anglaise was the abuse of Immovable Masters, who had somehow their fingers on the purses of Lodges and initiated any one with a view to fees. Another was the active presence of revolutionary leaders, and it is past contradiction that where Camille Desmoulins, Condorcet and Danton were received and dwelt, there Revolution was hatching. At the same time the recital of Blanc is liable to create an exceedingly false impression, as if such personalities represented the reigning spirit of such Lodges, in the absence of modifying elements. It should be mentioned therefore that Helvetius and Benjamin Franklin belonged to the Lodge of the Nine Muses. A third point—to be taken of course at its value is that the militant watchwords of French Freemasonry were Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, which became the watchwords of Revolution.
Many Inventions.—The rest of Louis Blanc’s thesis may be characterised as romance in the vesture of history. It is not the history of things leading up to the French Revolution, and still less of Masonry in France. (1) As will appear everywhere in the course of the present work, the High Grade movement is to be explained on far other grounds and represented far other interests than those of political fashions. Far-spreading and widely manifesting under forms of manifold kind, the chivalric element derives from a period when the spirit of revolution had not entered into conscious being. The records of that Rite of the Strict Observance, to which Blanc makes specific allusion, are proof positive that it had as little hand in producing the Reign of Terror as it had in Jacobite Rebellions here in England. Other systems represented occult sciences, particular interests and often personal ambitions. (2) Within the body-general of the High Grades it is ridiculous to suggest that the revolutionary spirit predominated. If it was manifested substantially anywhere it is more likely to have been in the Craft Degrees. I appeal to the history of the various Rites and all that is known of their workings. (3) There is no evidence of concealment and mystery as to the fact of the High Grades; the suggestion that brethren of Blue Lodges had no idea of their existence is in flagrant opposition to the history of the various Rites; the suggestion that royal princes and monarchs were at the head of Masonic bodies and were still in a state of ignorance as to their developments is the opinion of a person who is worthless as a witness on any Masonic subject. When monarchs and royal princes were really concerned with the Order and were not mere titles of adornment it is with the High Grades that their names were more especially joined—as, for example, Frederick the Great and the Duke of Brunswick. (4) As regards Philippe Égalité, in passages which I have been unable to quote, Louis Blanc represents him as offered by the Grand Mastership a throne of greater power than he would have possessed as King of France and as one to whom all the inner secrets of Masonic life and purpose were unveiled. He pictures him as attracted and dazzled, as committed and pledged to lead the Brotherhood and himself thereby to universal domination. But what are the facts? He was indeed installed as Grand Master, a considerable time after his election, but according to the records he was present but once subsequently in that or any other capacity. Such was the commentary of his action on the brilliant career which awaited him. (5) Finally, the Grand Orient by no means came, putting an end to anarchic rivalries: it arose and continued for years amidst internecine feuds.
Masons and Anti-Masons.—Here is only a brief and partial reflection from the light of historical facts on the gross fictions of Louis Blanc. In themselves they are of course unworthy of attention, but they demand the space which I have given on grounds apart from merit, being (1) that they are the views of a French Freemason of his period on the hand of Freemasonry in Revolution, so far as France is concerned; and (2) an example of the titles of excellence which can be discovered by a French revolutionary in a body which he held to have been on the side of free-thought, irreligion and the equality which is belied by Nature before he had come personally on the scene. Did I say that he was a liar from the beginning—which indeed goes without saying—I should be specifying only in a variant form of words the fact that he was a Masonic littérateur, like others who had preceded him in France and like many who came after. It would not mean that always and invariably either he or they wrested the truth wilfully; they would seem to have been congenitally incapable of expressing it if they tried, and I do not find that they tried seriously. In older days than these it was the same with the anti-Masons—people of the tribe of Barruel; but if I may speak somewhat broadly there has been a change on the side of hostility. One knows much better where one is with the open enemies of Masonry on the so-called Catholic side in France. They have too much at stake to play ducks and drakes with their chances by conspicuous inaccuracy over matters of bare fact; their proper office is to place fantastic or lying constructions on the significance of points which must not be themselves in dispute. Otherwise the buffoonery would end, rather sadly for the interests at stake—which are several and significant in their way—for proportionately speaking the vested interests and the consequent axes to grind are not less numerous among the anti-Masonic Leagues, Councils, Associations and Propagandas than they are in the opposite camp.
Blessed Life in Masonry
Some of the Conclaves and Chapters are opened—symbolically speaking—at dawn of day, some at the set of sun, but other some in the dark of the middle night. In the better understanding there is, however, one time for all: the hour of “a perfect Mason” is the hour of love. The Lodges and their correspondences should open when the hearts of the Brethren have unsealed the gates and ways, so that the Lord of the heart can enter and assume that throne which is His in the kingdom of good-will. This Lord is love. And the true Lodge—which is only closed in symbolism—should adjourn in love, leaving its Lord regnant, abiding in the heart. So is true peace on earth declared to men of good-will, and hereof is the Blessed Life in Masonry. The golden counsel from of old is “Love the Brethren, fear God, honour the King;” it being understood that the idea of kinghood is sacramental of law and order everywhere, under all denominations of just and holy rule; it being understood further that the fear of God is the beginning of that wisdom “by which there is entrance to the King of Heaven”—as the Secret Doctrine tells us. The first Mystery of Divine Union is a Mystery of Fear, but the last is a great Mystery of Union. It is understood also that the love of Brethren is imposed in the Grade of Entered Apprentice at the beginning of that life which ends in the Grade of Master, when the soul is united to God by the love of God and man. When I say that it ends the meaning is that it attains a fulfilment in being. Thereafter the soul travels in the Mystery of God—an eternal progress in knowledge, realisation, love. The attainment grows from more to more, as if passing from Grade to Grade: through the Holy Royal Arch, and the Golden Veil is removed from the Divine Secrets, till the Altar of Incense shines with fire and light; through an Order of the Temple which has never been formed on earth, and the light of the Reconciled Countenance falls on the face of the seeker; through the royalty and couronne princière of the Rose-Croix, wherein the soul is borne on eagle-wings and brought at last to perfection—heart unto Heart Divine in the Sovereign Reason of the Centre. What is the ne plus ultra, if not indeed herein? But “it has not entered into the heart of man to conceive what God has prepared for those who love Him,” when in another but most true form of our Masonic symbolism the soul is built up as a living stone into the Spiritual Temple.”
In or about the year 1820, this French Mason—who was probably of Alsatian origin and whom I have been able to identify by a single work only—gave expression to his views on the conquest of the world by Masonry in terms which are both eloquent and significant respecting Latin aspirations within the Sanctuaries of the Brotherhood.
“The infancy and adolescence of the Order have passed at length away, and it has attained the age of virility. Before it has completed a third century of its existence, the world shall know it as it is. Watch therefore over the spirit of the association, foreseeing the time to come and the judgment of the world. Let our holy houses be raised in every corner of the earth: be the Order established solidly in the heart of every land. When the Masonic Temple shall shine over the whole universe, when its roof shall be the blue heaven, the poles its walls, the Throne and the Church its pillars, then will the powers of the earth themselves bow down before it, will deliver into our hands the domination of the world and bequeathe that freedom to the people which we have laid up in store for them. May the Master of the world give us yet another hundred years, and then shall we attain that end so ardently desired.”
The Roman Church affirms that the prayer was heard, because it testifies far and near that the Secret Societies do actually possess the earth.
A person of this name made the acquaintance of Martines de Pasqually about 1766, and—being apparently a Mason—was admitted into the Rite of the Elect Priesthood. He is said also to have received the High Grade of Rose-Croix therein and to have become a member of its Sovereign Tribunal at Paris. He took advantage of this position to traffic in Grades and to discredit Pasqually as Grand Sovereign of the Rite. As the consequence of many complaints on the part of influential Brethren—including Bacon de la Chevalerie, Willermoz and De Lusignan—he was driven out of the Order, whereupon he sought reprisals in conjunction with a kindred spirit named Blanchet. They preferred a charge against Pasqually before the magistrates of Bordeaux, on the ground that the Grand Sovereign was teaching doctrines opposed to the Christian religion under the pretext of Masonry. Pasqually is said to have produced proofs on his own part of Bonnichon’s roguery under Masonic pretences, but declined to prosecute. The story adds that the magistrates ordered both Bonnichon and Blanchet to quit Bordeaux, and this seems to have closed their career in Masonry. There is no need to say that the Grand Sovereign, as he was called, or more properly the High Priest of the most remarkable Order of Priesthood which has arisen under the aegis of Masonry, was no less a convinced Christian than Saint-Martin or Jacob Böhme.
Masonic archaeology is divided on the significance of this now exploded term. One question is whether it means the Rough or Perfect Ashlar. Lexicography has intervened, however, and pointed out that in Scotland the Broaching Thurmal or Thurmel is a chisel used for the execution of broached work. To broach is to rough-hew, and broached work is the stone in its rough-hewn state. In the early part of the eighteenth century the Immovable Jewels of a Lodge are said to be (1) the Tarsel or Trasel Board, (2) the Rough Ashlar and (3) the Broached Thurnel. It is said further that “the Rough Ashlar is for the Fellow Crafts to try their jewels on”—presumably the square, level and plumb; “and the Broached Thurnel for the Entered Apprentices to learn to work upon.” In this case, it was neither the Rough nor Perfect Ashlar, while as it was something on which work was to be done, it was not the chisel, which is a working tool. It would appear therefore—by a process of exhaustion—that it was the stone as brought from the quarries, absolutely untouched, and delivered as such to the Entered Apprentices, who went to work thereon and produced the Rough Ashlar. This was passed to the Fellow Crafts, by whom it was measured and tried. If these tentative inferences are correct, it follows (1) that the early Lectures were confused as to the proper meaning of the term Broached Thurnel and (2) that no Perfect Ashlar figured among their jewels. In 1853 Dr. George Oliver got into a confusion which was very natural under such circumstances and identified the Broached Thurnel with the Rough Ashlar, the early Lectures notwithstanding. In 1871 Dr. A. G. Mackey followed in America and remembering the Lectures maintained that the Broached Thurnel was the Perfect Ashlar; but—as we have seen—the Lectures were against him. On our part we are left to take a choice between the stone unhewn and the chisel, accordingly as we prefer to abide by the Lectures or lexicographers. I observe, however, that Clement E. Stretton, the exponent of modern Operative Masonry, once affirmed as follows: (1) That any Mason of the Operative Society knows what the Broached Thurnel is; (2) That it was a familiar term in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; (3) That it is in fact the double square or octagon, or alternatively—for the statement is confused—it is a square superposed on an octagon; (4) That broaching is cutting the facets. It is obvious that this corresponds to nothing understood by the early Lectures and to nothing signified by the Scottish use of the term. It stands therefore at its value, having no evidence to support it and—as it seems to me—no inherent probability. An American author, Mr. Frank C. Higgins, writing in The New Age—the official organ of the Scottish Rite in its Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A.—points out (1) that Broche signified a skewer and a knitting-needle; (2) that skewer in Greek is Obeliskoi, a name given to Egyptian monoliths, of which Cleopatra’s Needle is an example; (3) that Thurnel comes from the old French Tournelle, meaning a turret or little tower. On this basis he proceeds to affirm (1) that the Broached Thurnel belongs to the Obelisk family; (2) that the base is a perfect cube; (3) that it has no direct relationship with Ashlars; (4) that with its pyramidon top it is in correspondence with the Masonic Apron, with the flap turned up. With all this may be compared the finding many years since of Parker’s Glossary of Terms in Architecture, which cites the same etymology in respect of Thurnel but says that Broach is an old English term for Spire, whence the author concludes that the Broached Thurnel was a “Spired Turret.” It is certain that apprentices neither would nor could be set to work upon a Spired Turret or a perfect cube on which a pyramidon was superposed, so I shall continue to think that the Broached Thurnel was a virgin stone from the quarries, until there is better evidence to the contrary. My speculation is at least in harmony with those early Lectures, from which is derived our main knowledge of the term in Emblematic Masonry.
Browne’s Master Key
In the year 1798 a certain John Browne issued The Master Key, through all the Degrees of a Freemason’s Lodge. It was described as “a Key by way of polyglot” and was claimed to be “the first book of the kind ever presented to the public.” The author described himself as P.M. and H.Z.I. It was printed in what to all appearance is a very complicated cipher. In reality it is quite simple, the letters of the name B, R, O, W, N, E being used throughout for the vowels A, E, I, O, U, Y. In addition to this device the words of the text are divided or combined in a haphazard manner, producing a seeming chaos in the whole text. The decoding is, however, a question of patience. The opening of a Lodge is given in the first place, so far as the Master’s part is concerned; but the part of his Officers is missing. There are similar gaps in the chain of ceremonial procedure throughout the work. These deficiencies were filled in a second edition, which appeared in 1802. Other cipher signs are a hand pointing, which answers to Brother, Brothers, Brethren, and a note of exclamation for the term Mason, the same sign being duplicated for the plural form. Browne’s work has been described as “a fairly complete representation of the Lectures according to Preston; but this is manifestly incorrect. The Master Key is to be distinguished from catchpenny publications of the “secret out” order, and it has not been challenged, I believe, that it was the production of a genuine Mason, who may have held the Offices represented by the letters which follow his name. It is useful for the state of ceremonial procedure at the end of the eighteenth century.
Johann Gottlieb Buhle
The first definite attempt to connect the Rosicrucian Brotherhood with Freemasonry, as the root of the latter—alike in history and symbolism was made in the year 1803, in a Latin excursus read by J. G. Buhle, a professor of philosophy, before a Philosophical Society at Göttingen. A year later it was issued in a much extended form and in the German language. It is known here in England solely by De Quincey’s somewhat derisive presentation of its marrow or substance as a Historico-Critical Inquiry into the Origin of the Rosicrucians and Freemasons. As an additamentum to his thesis, Professor Buhle made a long critical study of an argument advanced by the literary bookseller J. F. Nicolai, namely, that the true Key of Emblematic Masonry is to be sought in a Commonwealth Conspiracy for the restoration of Charles II. Nicolai replied in 1806 by a general attack on the thesis of Buhle. In the course of the present work I shall consider as the occasion arises various connections and analogies between the two Orders. The relation between them was not that of mother and daughter: it was rather a spiritual affinity. The hypothesis of Buhle is like that of Ragon, with which I shall deal later on: it is a manufactured article. The lay-figure used by the Frenchman to explain the Genesis of Masonry is the alleged Rosicrucian Elias Ashmole; and the lay-figure of Buhle is the alleged Rosicrucian Robert Fludd, thus putting back the genesis to the days of James I in place of Charles Stuart and the early years of Cromwell. Buhle, however, had this advantage over Ragon, that he was a man of some ability and learning.
Emblematic Freemasonry connects by its name with the corresponding Trade Guilds of the past, but such kinship becomes highly artificial in development, and this is nowhere exhibited more strongly in its Rituals than by the forced and unconvincing analogies which are instituted between the proper usages of operative tools and the moralisations made upon them—at once stilted and ineffective. Never in the expatiations of parable has Solomon’s Temple been spiritualised in a fashion so denuded of all resource in images. No commentary of a bagman on the golden verses of Pythagoras could scatter fatuities and ineptitudes with broader hand. The door is opened to complete scepticism on the very point which such unfortunate applications intend to enforce, and this is the descent of our Symbolical Science and Art from the Architectural Brotherhoods of antiquity. Apart from such awkward aids, the suggestion that our art of building Temples in the heart arose by direct and historical derivation from the art of their material building is ready to the hand and taking. It has proved irresistible for many and is the most generally accepted view of modern Masonic expositors.
Spiritual Descent of Masonry.—These excellent people are not psychologists or it might have occurred to them that the spiritualisation of craftsmanship is more likely to be planned from without the given craft rather than from within it. Those who are about a job are naturally the last to see the bearings which it may have outside the practical issues. The great soldier is not generally if ever the great historian of his own battles, and the makers of history are not those who write it. The spiritual descent of Emblematic Freemasonry is of course from Operative Masonry; but the great omen of erecting temples and palaces on the plane of space and time did not become the grand morality of building living stones into a spiritual house in the hands of wallers, paviours, stone-squarers and plasterers, of those whose particular duty is to prove Masonry perpendicular in the material sense, or even of those whose literal working plans may have ever and continually been deposited in a place of safety within them, among the other secrets of their art. It has been said that “he who hath watch’d, not shared, the strife knows how the day hath gone,” and it is rather to those who of old were protectors and patrons, employers in the broadest sense; to the great bishops and the great abbots, the princes of the Church, the princes even of states; that I should suppose the moralities of building would occur most probably, if to any in those days. It was they rather than the paid artists and craftsmen who built to the Glory of God; it was they who conceived in the heart what the architect erected on sites before ever the architect projected his material plans. Could we find real evidence of an early speculative order, we should refer it more reasonably to ecclesiastical sources and not to Operative Masons.
Masonic Moralisations.—But our moralisations are much later; they are too gross and concrete for those, e.g., to whom England was our Lady’s Dower, for St. Bernard who raised a spiritual standard on behalf of the Militia Templi, for all—in a word—who tended to work at everything sub specie aeternitatis. On ine other hand, they are much too crass and commonising for the Renaissance period, for literati—shall I say?—who caught and reproduced a thousand gracious reflections from “the roll of Ciceronian periods.” What sort of mouths would men like these and the rest of them have made at our laboured explanations of working tools? Part to be spent in this, part to be spent in that and the part which remains in a dubious tertium quid which must be always “without detriment”! Not thus would schoolmen of old, men of the middle age, the Scots and the Victorines, have parcelled the measure of things. They would have remembered with Raymond Lully that Dominus non pars est, sed totum; they would have said that the measure is God’s and its parts for man in His service. The Renaissance, which knew the humanities and took out its licence therein, would have said that the measure is man’s, which is measured by God for man’s service; to its own liking therefore it would have parcelled, I think, assuredly—for example, to art and to letters, to life and the joy therein, the whole without detriment truly to Leo X, to Lorenzo the Magnificent and all for which they stood. Between these things—including their forms of expression—and our particular tongue of moralities there stand the Protestant Reformation, Puritanism, the English Commonwealth and the untransmutable lead of the early Georgian epoch. I hold no brief for maintaining that prior to the last of these there were no moralities of building. I have found them after another manner of thinking and speaking in strange places. There may be something to be said tentatively for their presence in such traces as we can meet with of a non-operative Confraternity within the Fraternity of working Masons; it would have originated most likely as my own speculation suggests; but it passed in any case through a Georgian alembic, which if it could not turn lead into gold had a fatal facility in reducing gold to lead.
Emblematic Masonry.—The direct evolution of Emblematic Masonry from architectural Brotherhoods of antiquity, though it may seem irresistible—as I have said—to a certain class of minds, raises difficulties for others which to them are irresistible also. There comes a point in the Craft Degrees when it seems necessary to assume the intervention of some extraneous influence—e.g., Masonic literati of the early eighteenth century—which took over any rough Mystery of reception in use by Building Guilds, shaping it to another purpose, and out of the material Art developing a symbolical pageant, but in adaptation to its own ends preserving something of old Craft wordings, with some old Craft emblems, and imparting to them a new direction and significance. That point is the Third Degree, though those which preceded it have been also worked over. An influence of this kind must be assumed because the Third Degree reflects a very high point in the procedure of universal initiation; and although this statement may not carry any living meaning even for many persons well acquainted otherwise with historical issues of the subject, there are some who after various manners have recognised the possibility of interference from without and have endeavoured to localise it—intentionally or unintentionally, but always along the lines of the present contention. Indeed R. F. Gould—antecedently the last person to bring imagination to bear upon Masonry—has expressed himself prepared for evidence from unlikely quarters for all who are not mystics—namely, the Hermetic Schools of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
The Craft Mystery.—In one or another form the necessity with which I am dealing has been recognised—so to speak—ab origine. There has been a tacit understanding, that an appeal to the Building Guilds per se would be incompetent as an explanation of Emblematic Masonry. When the Craft Mystery began to be studied—let us say historically—by the Brethren, it was in the pupilage of archaeological knowledge. Comparative mythology and history were as yet unborn, and a wilderness of speculation was withdrawn into a wondrous depth of nescience. Yet amidst all extravagances incidental to such a period, amidst its romances and legends, there was manifested an instinctive zeal to refer Masonry in its original form to some source in the Ancient Mysteries, or—this failing—to a later mode or hypothetical derivation from these. When the claims or possibilities of the Building Guilds were recognised, they were raised out of any common category of trade association by an ascription of secret knowledge and strange connections with the past. In a word, they were changed themselves into channels of transmission for the Mysteries. It came about in this manner that Freemasonry was credited with immeasurable antiquity and was affiliated in imagination with all institutions which ever claimed to dispense initiation—to all of which it bears a resemblance undoubtedly, as some of us have better reason for knowing at the present day. It would be unwarrantable to conclude that among those who devised such views there was any real understanding of the issues which they held in their hands. It was the least mystical of all periods and most of the persons would be described adequately as Protestants in the best or any other sense of the Church of England, and its substitutes. Amidst particular divergences they were unanimous in their course of action, but we must not for this reason suppose a concerted effort on the part of those who knew for the instruction of the collective Brotherhood as to the real genesis of the Order. They were for the most part makers of idle hypotheses, inventors of fabulous traditions and retailers of reveries in the form of literal history. They are important only to establish a point of view, being the unconcerted and indeed unconscious comment of the early literati on the proposition that an untinctured Building Guild was the mother of Symbolical Masonry.
Operative and Figurative.—As Emblematic Freemasonry is the Craft of Building moralised, it follows that—intellectually at least—our figurative and speculative art has arisen out of the Operative. Here is a first link in any chain of connection with the building world of the past. But it is certain also that the Accepted or Speculative Masons had Operative Documents, such as the so-called Gothic Constitutions and Old Charges for part of their heritage. The proof is that soon after the Revival of 1717 these documents were put into the hands of Dr. James Anderson, “to digest . . . in a new and better method.” They were things in evidence and he was not commissioned to search them out. These are clear issues at their value, but beyond these omnia exeunt in mysterium. Almost from year to year, our documentary knowledge of Constitutions, Charges and so forth extends slowly. There is also new light cast from time to time on the general history of architecture in Christian centuries. But there is no corresponding light shed on the antiquities of our art of building moralised. The existence of such an art prior to 1717 remains almost as much a matter of speculation as the art itself is speculative. Many are disposed to affirm that it anteceded this date, and that its beginnings may have been old even in the year 1646, when Ashmole was made a Mason at Warrington: but there is no evidence to raise, any persuasion into the region of certitude. Of those beginnings and where or how they arose we have invoked the records of the past so far in vain. There are again zealous and capable writers by whom our knowledge is expanded from time to time—however slightly—on particular phases and aspects of the archaeology of architectural history, on Roman Collegia, Dionysian Artificers and Comacines. They furnish at the same time many plausible and taking speculations. But they do not help us in respect of Freemasonry, as we now understand the term, because no evidence of building association is of service to our own purpose unless such association embodies our “peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.”
Ancient Colleges.—The Hittites of Syria and Asia Minor may have been of “Hametic descent” and may have built the Temple at Jerusalem, as one speculation states; the Etruscans—from whom architecture was learned by Romans—may have been Hittites, as another story tells; at the downfall of Rome, the Roman Collegia may have settled in that island on Lake Como which is familiar at the present day as Isola Comacina, and they may have become Comacines; the Comacines may in turn have “merged into the great Masonic Guilds.” But if so, all this is part and parcel of the history of architecture and not of Emblematic Building, unless and until we can shew that—practical Masons as they were—their system of secret association included what is called in the Craft Degrees a side of Speculative Masonry and in the High Grades an art of building spiritualised. But it is just this which is wanting, for otherwise we should have taken the closing long since in the Lodge of our Debate on the origin of Freemasonry. There are not unnaturally sporadic vestiges, few and far between, of figurative moralities. It is said that the Comacines had a motto affirming that their Temple “was one made without hands” and this reminds us assuredly of the Mark Degree; but it is not to be called evidence for a developed speculative element prevailing among these old masters. Nor can I think with Mr. George Ravenscroft, in his memorable series of papers contributed to The Builder in 1918, that the two pillars of Wurzburg Cathedral, once situated on either side of the porch and bearing respectively on their capitals the letters J and B, can be termed “a good illustration of the way in which symbols were transmitted even from the Temple of Solomon to the Mediaeval Craftsmen and thence to our Speculative Masonry.” It seems to me simply that the Cathedral Builders were acquainted with Holy Scripture.
Theories on the Old Colleges.—The conclusion which is forced upon me is that only by the use of liberal supposition can the Comacines and those who preceded them be made to connect with our subject. We may take H. J. Da Costa as the prime—I mean, first—authority for the descent of Masonry from the Dionysian Artificers, and his successor Krause for the links between Masons of the Middle Ages and the Roman Collegia. The views of both have been summarised ably by Dr. Joseph Fort Newton, but that which is valid therein belongs to the history of architecture. It was, I think, Krause who said that each Roman College was presided over by a Master and two Decuriones or “Wardens,” each of whom bore the Master’s commands to the brethren of his respective column. The word Decurio is here translated Warden, to institute an analogy by force. According to Suetonius, the Latin office in question was that of a captain over ten men, whether horse or foot, and was therefore military in character. The best authority on the Comacines and Mediaeval Masonry is Miss Leader Scott in The Cathedral Builders, a most fascinating romance of architecture, which contains also some valuable historical lights. Dr. Fort Newton describes it in The Builders as an attempt to bridge the gap “between the classical Roman style and the rise of Gothic art.” Again therefore it is a question of architectural evolution, and I must say personally that—taken as such—it is to be questioned whether the gulf is really spanned. I can understand on this hypothesis the development of Italian architecture, more or less degenerated from classical types, but not the genesis of the great schools of Gothic building. It is to be understood, however, that such a question exceeds the warrants of my subject. For the rest, Miss Leader Scott offers nothing evidential to connect any Ritual Mystery which obtained ex hypothesi in the old Collegia, or among Comacine Lodges, with the Living Mystery of Speculative Masonry. As a student of the Secret Tradition in Christian Times, I could wish that it were otherwise with the great story of all those ancient Guilds. I could wish that their pageants of secret initiation were—as the speculations say—Dionysian representations of mystical death and resurrection, and that they are reflected, at however far a distance, in our Sublime Degree by reason of lineal descent. But if these things are dreams—or as yet awaiting demonstration—we have to face the fact, and the question remaining over is whether we can look elsewhere for our lineage.
The Sense of Literature.—To sum up on these considerations, it is certain that the moralities of Freemasonry belong to the eighteenth century, more especially in their application to working tools and so forth. They are too crass for the mid-seventeenth century in England: you could not put them into the mouth of Thomas Vaughan or his contemporary Elias Ashmole. The people who have said that Ashmole composed the Craft Degrees have committed an enormity of nonsense, against which the irrepealable succession of ideas and language in English literature stands forth in protest. The Charge after Initiation might as well and profitably be allocated to the makers of the Authorised Version of Holy Scripture, or the metrical lucubrations of Bishop Sprat might be referred as reasonably to the poet of the Faerie Queene. This is on the one side. But on the other the root-matter of the Third Degree is the root-matter of the Greater Mysteries, wheresoever established and communicated in place and time; but its intimations are clearer, more catholic and—so far as we are able to judge by classical memorials and remanents—they are very much more direct. Whence they came and by whom they were imported within the speculative circle; whether late or early in the emblematic scheme; I suppose that we may never know. They are of yesterday, to-day and for ever in the life of quest and its legend, though they are clothed about with raiment of language as a queen might be clothed in tatters.
The Masons’ Company.—If there was ever a time when non-Operative Masonry—any first beginnings or any shadow thereof—was loosely bound up with the Masons’ Company, and it would seem that a time there was, it occupied a place apart, and we shall see that it was not emblematic as we understand the term. Of conventional moralities and figurations the Masons’ Company knows nothing whatever, so far as records remain to testify. For example, it knows as much and as little of Elias Ashmole, with others his peers and co-heirs in alleged accepted bonds, meeting in its own Hall in 1682, as Mother Kilwinning of all that long and royal line of daughter Grades and Rites which claimed descent therefrom. May I say therefore that neither in logic nor in fact are we concerned with the history of architecture, nor with the claims of the Building Guilds? We are concerned only in tracing to their source the earliest vestiges of association for the study or practice of figurative or spiritual building. As to this it has been advanced (1) that there existed in various parts of England, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, certain bodies of men who were formed into Lodges and carried on some kind of Masonry which was not for operative objects; (2) that for purposes of distinction they were called Accepted Masons and subsequently Free and Accepted; (3) that the period of their incorporation—however casual or informal—is without doubt earlier than the period of their first extant traces; (4) that whatever ceremonies they used, they were somehow connected with Masonry, for they might otherwise have grown out of a different trade or been joined thereto—e.g., carpenters or fishmongers; (5) that the Old Charges belonged to the Accepted Masons, although they were operative documents; (6) that they must have descended naturally to them, there being no reason why they should have been suddenly acquired. Part of the evidence for these claims rests on an early Account Book of the Masons’ Company of London, and the last edition of Mackey’s American Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry has used this document to shew (1) that in addition to its freemen and livery-men the Company included a body of Accepted Masons, and (2) that this body was “an Inner Fraternity of Speculative Masons.” There is presumption in favour of the first point, but the second is quite arbitrary.
Masonic Realities.—The part that is real in Emblematic Freemasonry belongs to another subject, and to this subject in its various developments I have given all space possible in the present undertaking: it is that of the more important Instituted Mysteries. They have not passed away utterly: indeed there are things among us in the hidden places which are greater than Eleusis, greater than the sacraments of Dionysius, and greater than anything that we can infer tentatively of Thebes and Egypt generally: they are of Christ and the Christ-Life. It behoves those therefore who would be busy in research to be about this subject rather than pursue so feverishly the quest after operative records, which have had a long share of attention, and it is time now to try a new path. However we may extend our knowledge in this department it is questionable whether we shall gain further light on our own Brotherhood. It has been said appositely that “as Christianity is a direct descendant from Judaism . . ., so Speculative Masonry is the direct descendant from the Operative Building Associations of the past.” The comparison obtains much further than he who devised it knew. There is precisely such an analogy, for as it would be entirely useless to question Judaism on the depths and heights of that spiritual mystery which is connoted by the word Christianity, so is it probably idle to demand from Building Guilds a light on Speculative Masonry. And as part of the burdens of Christendom is that which it has brought over from Israel, so also is there a yoke of Masonry brought over from bricklayers, wallers, paviours in the dull tools on which it has produced so many dull disquisitions to blunt the edge of our perceptions.
Masonic Genealogy.—I hold in conclusion that ours is another origin, notwithstanding the cloud upon our sanctuary; but the operative connection exists: amidst it our art grew up. A vine is not descended from the tree about which it entwines; and although this is not on the surface an especially apt illustration, yet it has a side of truth, for the old Operative Lodges died out while the new institution spread and took root everywhere. If we have a concern anywhere in the past, it is in the Ancient Mysteries, as I have just sought to indicate. There is a work which remains to be done in this direction by one who is qualified in two essential ways, as a classical scholar and as a Mason who is alive to the higher issues of the Order and its real concern in symbolism. We have had Oliver in the early days confusing all the issues by frantic hypotheses reflecting from preceding speculation, and we have had American writers in our own who carry no titles whatever on either side. But a comparative study of the Mysteries and Masonry, validly conceived and properly executed, will do more to elucidate our subject than the most earnest of further researches on Comacines or Roman Collegia. And if he who wrote it should include therein some part at least of that which remains to be said on the Light of the Mysteries and the Light of Christ, we might reach a term of quest on the Masonic subject. But in such case he must be more than a classical scholar and more than an instructed Mason.