High Lights of the Mexican Revolution - J. L. McLeish

Modern Masonry: 1717 And 1917

Sunday, June 24, 1917, St. John Baptist's Day, is the two hundredth anniversary of Speculative or Modern Masonry. Then was established the Mother of all Grand Lodges inchoating an invisible empire which to-day girdles the globe. It was the consummation of an evolution in the greatest of the world's brotherhoods which had had genesis long before. The Speculative or Scholar Masons then relegated to the background the old Operative or Practical Masons, who for generations had transmitted among themselves by word of mouth, under pledge of secrecy, the quaint, complex and curious philosophy and secret doctrine of Freemasonry inherited from the Cathedral Builders of mediaeval days, who themselves had it from the Comacines, the lineal descendants of the old Collegia Romana, and so on back into the dim dead past of Hittite predominance, if we may believe the claims of Masonic Archeologists and Historians—Gould, Hughan, Ravenscroft, Findel, Rylands, Belzoni and others.

Since England gave birth to the Mother of all Grand Lodges, it is there we must turn for the history of a transition which in the passing of the centuries has made Masonry a World Force.

In England, during the last years of the seventeenth century, there was upon the part of the Clergy both Protestant and Roman Catholic, a marked tendency to play politics. Rather reluctantly the dominant hierarchy, which was the Anglican (Episcopalian), had acquiesced in the accession of James II to the throne. Their hesitancy seemed justified, when in 1687 James issued a Religious Edict affording ample opportunities for Catholic activities throughout his kingdom. In consequence, the Anglicans declared against the House of Stuart successfully.

Protestant William of Orange, the successor of James, contributed another shock to the Anglicans. Instead of rewarding them by making their denomination the official Religion of State, he proclaimed universal religious tolerance. Under his new edict, it became possible for a new element to enter—the Dutch Presbyterians,—so forming a hypotenuse for a Clerical Triangle of Dissension—Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Dutch Presbyterians. Each wished the National Supremacy in England. All contributed to a verbal warfare and indulged in intrigues of a most unchurchly character.

Now while these Churchmen quarreled among themselves, the plain people who made up the backbone of the Nation were thinking. Quite disgusted with the unreasonable assumptions of Clergy of all Creeds, reluctantly concluding that their ghostly advisers were all dogma-bound, narrow, selfish and top-heavy with pride, these plain people needed only King William's Edict of 1695 permitting freedom of the press, to loose their tongues and give the Intellectuals free play.

A seed had been sown. The English people began to find themselves. National life assumed a more moral tone. Superficiality and shams gave way to an actual practice of moral and social virtues. The plain people exerted themselves to relegate into fitting oblivion the memory of the licentiousness which had characterized national life under Charles II and James II, the predecessors of their new monarch. An Age of Frivolity was supplanted by an Age of Self-Respect.

The Spirit of the Times found ready expression through the journalists and pamphleteers and those convivial conversationalists who met men of all classes in the London Taverns, "the busy man's recreation, the idle man's business, the melancholy man's sanctuary, and the stranger's welcome; the broachers of more news than hogsheads, more jest than news."

Masonic thought of the day found its outlet through Richard Steele's "Tatler," Jonathan Swift's Satires, and Dr. Desaguilier's Natural Philosophy. Perhaps Joseph Addison crystallized conditions then existent in his famous sentence: "We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another."

It was as though to answer that very need that the "Gentle Philosophie of Masonry," whose animating spirit is brotherly love, took on a sudden impetus and reincarnated as a Living Force in National Life through the Great Revival of 1717. In the Masonic Lodges of 1700 were to be found men of all Creeds and all Religious Sects. Says Findel, a German Masonic historian:

"Originating from the Fraternity of Operative Masons, the Craft has borrowed its emblems and symbols from the Building Corporations to impart to its members moral truths and the rules of the Royal Art. . . . Freemasonry as it is understood at the present day, dawned into existence. Retaining the spirit of the Ancient Brotherhood, their fundamental laws and their traditional customs, yet all were united in relegating Architecture and Operative Masonry to the station to which they belonged, the customary technical expressions which are excellently well-suited to the Symbolic Architecture of the Temple, were retained but figuratively withal, bearing a higher significance."

The Report of the Proceedings of the First Grand Lodge of England does not occupy much space. An official account written by Dr. James Anderson says:

"1717—King George I. entered London most magnificently on Sept. 20, 1714, and after the rebellion was over, A. D. 1716, the few Lodges at London, finding themselves neglected by Christopher Wren, thought fit to cement under a Grand Master as the Center of Union and Harmony, viz. the Lodges that met,

  1. "At the Goose and Gridiron Ale-House, in St. Paul's Churchyard.
  2. "At the Crown Ale-House in Parker's Lane, near Drury Lane.
  3. "At the Apple Tree Tavern in Charles St., Convent Garden.
  4. "At the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Channel Row, Westminster.

"They and some old Brothers met at the said Apple-Tree and having put into the Chair the Oldest Master (now the Master of a Lodge) they constituted themselves a Grand Lodge pro tempore.

"On St. John Baptist's Day, in the third year of King George, A. D. 1717, the Assembly and Feast of the Free and Accepted Masons was held at the foresaid Goose and Gridiron Ale-House.

"Before dinner, the Oldest Master Mason (now the Master of a Lodge), in the Chair, proposed a list of proper candidates: and the Brethren by a Majority of Hands elected, Mr. Anthony Sayre, Gentleman, Grand Master of Masons; Mr. Jacob Lamball, Carpenter; Capt. Joseph Elliot, Grand Wardens; who being invested with the Badges of Office, and Power, by the said Oldest Master, and installed, was duly congratulated by the Assembly, who paid him the Homage."

While rather meager in detail, this account is sufficient to give us a mental concept of an event of unusual importance to Masons, inasmuch as it paved the way for changes destined intimately to affect the nature of the most influential of the World's Secret Societies for years to come.

We can conjure up an imaginative picture of the scene, dominated by such forceful personalities as Edward Strong, Anthony Sayer, George Payne, John, Duke of Montagu, Dr. Desaguiliers, Thomas Monice and other prominent men of that period, some destined to become Grand Masters. We can conceive in imagination the solemn procession of those four old Lodges through the streets of London, the rich and elegant attire of the Speculative Masons showing no more resplendently than the plainer, simpler garb of the old Operatives, because of the long, white Aprons then affected by the Craft. Nor must we forget the Feast, some idea of which we may gather from a Masonic Menu recorded by the historian Conder. Doubtless there were:

  • "9 dishes of fowl, three in a dish.
  • "2 roasted and 1 boyled with oyster sauce.
  • "3 Yorkshire Hams.
  • "6 Geese, two in a dish.
  • "3 Turkeys.
  • "3 Chines.
  • "3 Dishes of Tongues and Udders.
  • "6 Dishes of Tarts.
  • "Wine:—12 Gallons of Red Port. 4 Gallons of White Port."

And need we add the self-satisfied testimony of one who attended one of these early Grand Lodge Banquets?

"We had a good dinner, and to their eternal honour, the brotherhood laid about them very valiantly."

It is known that a caucus had previously prepared the several transactions requisite to afford the Speculative element complete control of this and succeeding Grand Lodges. It was realized by the deeper thinkers like Payne, Desaguiliers and Anderson, that many changes must be wrought to modernize the machinery of a very potent force in national life. Through them it was arranged for a complete overhauling of the Old Constitutions which had governed the Operative Lodges of Freemasons for centuries. This was accordingly done at the next session.

Dr. Anderson was ordered to "digest the Old Charges in a new and better manner," a task in which he received valuable assistance from both Payne and Desaguiliers. At the same time, many "scrupulous Old Brothers" burned their ancient mss., and copies of the Gothic Constitutions of old Operative Masonry, through excess of zeal. Their idea was that the Secrets of Freemasonry might not fall into the hands of the Profane, as all were and still are styled who are not Masons.

When Dr. Anderson reported back to Grand Lodge the fruits of his labors, fourteen brethren audited and approved them. His handiwork known as the Constitution of 1723, insofar as it materially widened the horizon of Freemasonry, can be considered as the most important result of the Great Revival of 1717. It was the dividing line between Ancient and Modern Masonry—the Operative and the Speculative. Its most striking feature was to forever-more make Masonry and Religious Tolerance synonymous. In consequence, since 1717 Masonry has had no quarrel with any religion of the world. In the old Operative Charges there was a specific mandate to every Mason "in every country to be of the Religion of that country wherever it was." In this New Constitution, all Masons were admonished "to keep the Religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves."

It is more than probable that the Speculative membership upon securing control of the Order, wished to disarm once and forever all opposition from any Church or Hierarchy. They aimed to promote that Harmony, which is the strength and support of all institutions, especially Masonry.

From recent bitter experience in England, they had witnessed the destructive influence upon a Nation of a Quarrel of Creeds. They had seen Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Presbyterian at swords' points, to the great peril of Civil Government, the toppling of a Dynasty and the unstable seat of its successor. They hoped that by playing up to no particular Creed, that they might perpetually disarm the antagonism of all. Another incentive impelling the founders of Modern Masonry to substitute Monotheism for Christianity as a requirement for admission behind the exclusive doors of the Order, was to make eligible as brothers men of all nations, a Universal Belief in the Supreme Being, the sine qua non of Modern Masonry, per se eliminating Atheists and Irreligious.

Unfortunately, if the Old Landmarks or essence of Masonry were to be retained, it was not then, and is not now possible to make sufficient eliminations, to make our Institution persona grata to one of the most powerful of the World Religions. That great cardinal landmark of Masonry—SECRECY—sets up an insurmountable barrier to a cardinal landmark of the Catholic Church—the CONFESSIONAL.. No true Mason can kneel at the Altar of Masonry, and take the most solemn and binding obligations evolved by man, and even pretend to answer the possible questions of the priest at the Confessional.

Bro. Count Goblet D'Alviella adds three other reasons why Masonry is unavoidably condemned by the Catholic Church, viz: "(1) in its origin the discarding of the obedience to the Church; (2) in its purpose: the promotion of benevolence and morality independent of religious differences; (3) in its pantheism and naturalism." This probably best explains the early formal excommunications of Masonry by the Bulls of Clement XVI in 1738, and Benoit XIV in 1751.

Of course, all well-informed Catholics know and admit that Masonry in the United States, Great Britain and Germany at least, is made up of tolerant, representative, law-abiding citizens, "picked men," quarreling with no religion, nor discussing Catholicism in their lodges, much less seeking its overthrow. As is but natural, Masons are staunch supporters of one particular institution essential to that patriotism—which is part of their philosophy—the Public School. Aside from this little hobby, all their energies are given to foster a spirit of brotherhood among men, peace among the nations, and, greatest of all, Sweet Charity. The doors of Masonry are as open to a worthy Catholic, as to a good Mohammedan, nor is it the fault of Masonry that the priests say "Nay!"

Our Latin brethren of various countries, like France, Italy, South America and Mexico, are often held up to us as fomenters of revolution, and active participants in politics. There is a reason. Let D'Alviella explain it.

"It must not be forgotten that wherever the Roman Church predominates, Freemasonry has to fight for its very life, and Masons as such, have to protect themselves against persecutions, which threaten their private no less than their public life. This ought to be kept in sight, when one sits in judgment upon the anti-clerical dealings of Masons in Roman Catholic countries."

Reverting to the New Constitution of 1723. The Old Brothers did not take at all kindly to the elimination of Christianity as a requirement for admission into masonry. Nor did they like to see their time-honored old Gothic Constitutions set aside for Dr. Anderson's more modern creation. As Rylands says: "To them it would be a severance from one, perhaps the most treasured of their ancient usages, in the use of the Roll of the Old Charges at the making of a Mason."

There was ground for their dissatisfaction, for as Hughan says: "The Charges are our title deeds and prove the continuity of the Society through a very long period." However, the Speculatives had their way: the Grand Lodge grew rapidly in authority and numbers. The quality of the Masons of those early days was of the highest.

Just one attempt was made to manipulate the potential influence of the Masonic Order for political purposes in England. The adherents of the House of Stuart had never abandoned all hope of ultimate restoration. They scorned no means to undermine established government in the country where they had once been dominant. Their agents were at every Court of Europe. Liberal support was accorded them by Catholic France and the Papal See, for upon the Stuart success depended the future of English Catholicism as the religion of the nation.

A most remarkable personality of this early eighteenth century period was Philip, the young Duke of Wharton. Possessing a superior education, a fascinating and debonair manner, and unusual originality coupled with recklessness, with utter contempt for public opinion and conventionality, this wealthy young rake and profligate made friends wherever he went. He was guilty of many a mad prank which would have been severely frowned upon if perpetrated by one of lesser degree and influence. Having set Dublin agog with his rakish performances, the Duke came to London, at once taking Society by storm. Indeed for a time he was the most talked-of Lordling of His Majesty's domain. Being an astute politician, he regarded with interest the growing power and popularity of Freemasonry. At heart a sympathizer with the Pretender, he was doubtless planning the future treachery which wrecked an otherwise promising career.

An English authority, Rylands, advances what seems the most probable explanation of the Duke's erratic conduct. "It appears to me likely that Wharton imagined at a slightly later time, that it would be possible to gain over the strong body of Freemasons, for the Stuart cause, by his extraordinary power of fascinating all he knew. For this purpose he became a Freemason and was ultimately elected Grand Master in 1722."

It was on a St. John's Day when this youngest of Grand Masters presided as toastmaster at a banquet, that he determined to sound the brethren out by ordering the musicians to play that Stuart slogan, "Let the King enjoy his own again!" only to hear the orchestra abruptly silenced by the vociferous shouts of disapproving Masons who were horrified at so flagrant an attempt to inject politics into one of their assemblies.

Another Masonic Faux Pas of the madcap Master was the spirited defense he made of a Stuart adherent, Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, on trial for high treason. Wharton spoke long and brilliantly in the House of Lords. At the next meeting of the Grand Lodge he was roundly denounced. Philip, Duke of Wharton, never again appeared before the august assembly of his Masonic brethren.

Filled with bitter resentment, the young Duke surreptitiously inaugurated a new Jacobite movement intended to weaken and if possible destroy Freemasonry by the greatest of all weapons, ridicule. His fertile brain it was which conceived and founded the "Ancient Order of Gormogans" claiming Chinese antecedents and a pedigree far antedating the Building of King Solomon's Temple. Nor did he blush to borrow boldly many of the Masonic Symbols and Emblems. Dominated by his peculiar personality this society started in jest, waxed strong and was the forerunner of an even more determined attempt by the Jacobites and Jesuits, in the nature of another widely exploited society which flourished in 1741-2—the "Scald Miserable Masons." Considerable money was expended by both societies for magnificent pageants the tour de force of which was burlesquing the solemn processionals of the Freemasons. This red to a custom which has never been abandoned. Masons, except under dispensation of the Grand Master, parade publicly only at funerals. The Gormogans perished simultaneously with their creator, Wharton, in 1731. Two great artists, Benoit and Hogarth, have immortalized these anti-masonic organizations in their engravings.

The subsequent career of Philip, Duke of Wharton, was what one might anticipate from so eccentric an individual. He vanished from London. Trace of him was lost until Lord Mahon wrote from the continent: "Lord North and the Duke of Wharton had lately gone abroad and openly attached themselves to the Pretender's Party, and now each separately renounced the Protestant and embraced the Roman Catholic Faith."

The good-natured Stuart exile put up with Wharton's wildness until patience ceased longer to be a virtue, when he sent him "upon a mission to Spain." This was a polite and convenient way of exiling him.

In his new environment, the Duke found a second wife. For a time peace and quietude was his. Eventually his wanderlust again asserted itself. He asked for and received from the Pretender a liberal allowance, alleging that his open espousal of the Stuart Cause had cost him wealth and standing in England. As this was true, he received a liberal douceur of many thousand pounds. Upon this he lived like a wastrel Prince in Belgium until so reduced that he had to practice an unworthy subterfuge upon a Portuguese friend to secure decent raiment. Broken in spirit and means, the Duke hastened back to Spain to accept a commission in the Spanish line. At the siege of Gibraltar he sought to throw away his life by exposing himself recklessly before the English defenses. Doubtless the gallant gentleman behind those ramparts recognized a former Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England; doubtless they remembered their most solemn oath; not a shot was fired.

In 1731 Philip, Duke of Wharton, died of hasty consumption, alone, abandoned by friends and foes alike. On him the poet, Pope has written:

"Wharton, the scorn and wonder of our days,

Whose ruling Passion was the Lust of Praise:

Born with whate'er could win it from the Wise,

Women and fools must like him or he dies.


A rebel to the very King he loves,

He dies, sad outcast of each Church and State,

And harder still, flagitious yet not great:

Ask you why Wharton broke through every rule?

'Twas all for fear the knaves should call him fool."

Gould attributes to Walpole this epithet: "It is difficult to give an account of the works of so mercurial a man, whose library was a tavern, and women of pleasure his muses."

The Great Revival

It is to the Great Revival of 1717 that Modern Masonry owes its unprecedented growth to almost unbelievable proportions. Today behold the Invisible Empire. In the United States are nearly two million Masons Under forty-nine sovereign Grand Lodges. The Grand Lodge of England controls 2578 subordinate Lodges. In Canada eight Grand Lodges control 100,000 Masons. In Germany are eight sovereign Grand Lodges; in South America are six; in Australia six; in India five; in the West Indies three; in Mexico five; in Liberia, Egypt, Central America, Hungary, Servile and Italy, one each. The Craft is potentially influential in Switzerland, Holland, Spain, Portugal and Belgium. Out of the little movement of 1717 sprang the Grand Lodge system which developed a universal force of vast possibilities, once the sleeping giant awakens, once the Masonic Fellowship of the Sons of Men is more firmly welded as an aftermath of the World War.

"More ancient than any of the world's living religions," Masonry today retains jealously many of its ancient landmarks which have been handed down by word of mouth from time immemorial. As one of our Masonic Philosophers has written, and as Masters still instruct those who knock at the portals of the Lodge:

"Our ancient landmarks you are carefully to preserve, and never to suffer any infringement of them or on any pretense to countenance deviations from the established usage and customs of the Order. . . . If our secrets and peculiar forms constituted the essence of the Art, it might with some degree of propriety be alleged that our amusements were trifling and our ceremonies absurd. But this, the skillful, well-informed Mason knows to be false."

Today Masonry is awaiting the ultimate call of Humanity, eager to minister to the widows and orphans of those overseas brethren who so bravely responded to the call of country; Masonry has already wrought wonders in an eleemosynary way. Much Masonry can and will achieve.

The brethren of the Invisible Empire are awakening to a fuller realization that in a measure they are indeed responsible for their fellow man's well-or-ill being.

Legions of true men, square men, men worthy and well qualified, men duly and truly prepared, men humanitarian in their ideals, moral in their code of life, tolerant of All Religions, are carrying into actual daily performance that Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth which makes Masonry a Very Vital Force, cemented by unfailing belief in that religion in which all men do agree—The Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man.

When the inevitable moment comes, and may it come soon, that the Warring Nations cast aside their weapons, broken, spiritless, crushed, yet not wholly despairing, the millions of the Invisible Empire of Freemasonry will be found laboring side by side with Other Great World Forces, to again promote Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men, to help build up instead of to destroy, since Masonry is a Constructive and not a Destructive Potentiality.

So Mote It Be.

The Fellowship of Masonry

Masonry is an earnest fellowship of tried and true men, cognizant of human failures in the past, conscious of human limitations in the present, and animated by the loftiest human aspirations for the future. That Mason who best understands the real, the esoteric meaning of our gentle philosophy, is best equipped to further the highest ideals of brotherly love, relief and truth, for which Masonry stands.

The sleeping giant of Masonry is awakening at last. The Spirit of Masonry is permeating the Mighty Fellowship, arousing them to the call of humanity in a time of trial, the like of which this generation of the Sons of Men had never thought to face.

Amidst stress and storm, in the olden days, when men harbored suspicion and hate, and Nations knew not peace, nor Brotherly Love, nor Divine Truth, sprang the Spirit of Masonry to evolve a philosophy of Moral and Social Virtues which should cement the Sons of Men of diverse Nations by unbreakable bonds of Fellowship.

For centuries, the propagation of a Secret Doctrine, "older than the oldest Church, more enduring than the most ancient Religion," slowly spread, girdling the globe, gathering into its Great Brotherhood the very best of every civilization until today, when it stands a Mighty Force, well equipped to properly fight the battles of Humanity, fearless in its sublime principles, and assured of ultimate achievement of its highest ideals, because of its practical application of that Great Masonic Dogma, the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. Its very vitality is dependent absolutely upon unfaltering Faith in the Grand Architect of the Universe, cemented by those ties of true Masonic Fellowship quite unbreakable even in death.

It is fortunate that this is so. New problems to-day confront the Sons of Men. Mighty issues must be faced by the Nations of the World including our own. Ours the task to minister to the peoples of Europe, emerging supine from the dread cataclysm of War. We must meet their pressing need and extend the hand of true Masonic Fellowship the underlying principle of which is Masonic Charity. We are one of the World's Great Forces ever struggling along a common highway of Human Utilitarianism. There are others less constructive.

Let the Father of Masonic Philosophy, Albert Pike, impart to you his conception of Freemasonry:

"It began to shape itself in my intellectual vision into something more imposing and majestic, solemnly mysterious and grand. It seemed to me like the Pyramids in their loneliness, in whose yet undiscovered chambers may be hidden for the enlightenment of coming generations, the Sacred Books of the Egyptians, so long lost to the world: like the Sphynx half buried in the desert. . . . In its Symbolism which, and its Spirit of Brotherhood are, its essence, Freemasonry is more ancient than any of the world's living religions. It has the symbols and doctrines which, older than himself, Zarathrustra inculcated, and it seemed to me a spectacle sublime, yet pitiful . . . the Ancient Faith of our Ancestors, holding out to the world its symbols once so eloquent, and mutely and in vain, asking for an interpreter. . . . And so I came at last to see that the true greatness and majesty of Freemasonry consist in its proprietorship of these and its other symbols: and that its symbolism is its soul."

History shows clearly close connection between the Faiths and Philosophies of widely separated peoples. This is due to the fact that human nature never changes. It is the same now as it was in the pre-pyramidal days of ancient Egypt. Now, even as then, Man is groping blindly yet none the less determinedly in his endless Quest for Truth.

In the long ago, before the age of books, Man expressed himself in Architecture through the use of various symbols, as the Swastika of the Chaldees, the Triangle of the Egyptians, the Triple Tau of the Hebrews, the Cross of the Christians, the Square, Compasses, Plumb, Level and Circle of the Architects, blood brothers of the Accepted Masons.

In 1818 an archeologist, Giovanni Belzoni undertook the excavation of the Tombs of the Kings at Biban-el-Maluk, on the outskirts of what was once the thriving and populous City of Thebes. The result of his efforts was to establish the existence of Masonry among the ancient Egyptians; a Masonry working upon the same basic principles as our Modern Masonic Philosophy.

Some of Belzoni's most convincing "finds" were in the Hall of Beauties, a stone chamber 20 feet by 14 feet in the tomb of Pharaoh Osiris. The walls were profusely adorned with painted pictures in relief, the old hieroglyphic symbol-writing of ancient Egypt which has thrown much light upon the customs and manners of antiquity.

We come now to the border land between Ancient and Modern Masonry.

In its various ramifications, the Secret Doctrine was carried by the Tyrians from Mount Moriah where they had participated in the building of King Solomon's Temple, back to their homeland. They who had had a hand in the most stupendous architectural undertaking of ancient times, now formed themselves into a Society known as the Dionysian Architects.

Presently the sway of Rome began to extend itself over the ancient world. The Roman legions came to Tyre. With them they took back to the City of the Seven Hills, many of those skilled workmen who had developed Architecture to a high degree until then not dreamed of in Rome. In the home of the Caesars they imparted their wondrous skill to others and in time an Order akin to their own, The Collegia, sprang into being. These too were fraternities of skilled artificers closely correlated, and protected by the same Secret System as their instructors. A somewhat significant characteristic of each of these Roman Collegia was the fact that each had its Master, its Wardens, a Secretary and a Treasurer, and a Quorum of three, as a requirement to meeting. The Square, the Plumb, the Level, the Cube, the Compasses and the Circle were symbolic emblems of the Roman Builders. Secrecy was a keynote of their organization.

In the days when Christianity was forbidden Heresy in still-pagan Rome, many of The Collegia became afflicted with the strange new Cult. For a time, the Emperor Diocletian purposely permitted himself to be blind to their departure from the ancient Faith to that of the Nazarene. When four of their most influential members refused to erect a statue to the God Aesculapius, Diocletian inaugurated a vigorous campaign for their undoing. Four of the Masters and one Apprentice suffered a horrible death. It is these Four who today are gratefully remembered by the Craftsmen of Europe, as our First Masonic Martyrs. After them is named the greatest Lodge of Research in the world, the Quatuor Coronati of London.

Such of the brethren of the Collegia as escaped fled to an impregnable refuge on Lake Como. Here they kept their secret organization alive perpetuating it as the Comacine Gild which flourished during the Dark Ages.

After Charlemagne, when the spread of Christianity led to an immense revival in building as a fine art, expressing itself in the erection of great Cathedrals, the Comacines followed in the wake of the Clergy, availing themselves of their ancient privileges as Free Men to go whither they might desire.

Out of their wanderings resulted the Cathedral Builders or Free Masons—the old Operatives—who traveled from city to city, from nation to nation, welcomed by all and recognized as the only Gilds quite competent to express the Spirit of the Times in speaking stone. Their organization was that of Lodges, with a Master, Fellowcrafts and Apprentices.

Apprentices were required to serve seven years before they might become Fellowcrafts. Then there was due examination and only such as were found duly and truly prepared, worthy and well-qualified were passed. Another characteristic was that each Mason had his own individual mark. Many of these you may see today in some of the great Cathedrals of Europe.

Perhaps I can best explain the great dependence of Freemasons upon Symbolic Expression by following the example of Ossian Lang and quoting from that masterly Chapter in Victor Hugo's "Notre Dame." It takes its title, "THIS WILL KILL THAT", from the gloom of one of its leading characters, the Archdeacon, as he contrasts a crudely printed book, one of the first of its kind, with the towers and gargoyle-decorated walls of the Church, supreme consummation of Masons' handiwork, to gloomily exclaim as he points to the printed page, "This will kill that." Says Victor Hugo:

"The human race has had two books, two registers, two testaments—Architecture and Printing—the Bible of Stone, and the Bible of Paper. Up to the time of Gutenberg, Architecture was the chief and universal mode of writing. In those days if a man was born a poet, he turned architect. Genius, scattered among the masses,—kept down on all sides by feudality,—escaped by way of Architecture, and its Iliads took the form of Cathedrals. From the moment that printing was discovered, architecture gradually lost its virility, declined and became denuded. Being no longer looked upon as the one all-embracing, sovereignty and enslaving art, architecture lost its power of retaining others in its service. Carving became Sculpture,—Imagery, Painting,—the Canon, Music. It was like the dismemberment of an Empire on the death of its Alexander,—each province making itself a kingdom."

While Masonry expressed itself in the handiwork of the Compagnons as our craftsmen were called in France, of the Comacines in Italy, and the Vehmgerichte in Germany, Gothic Architecture springing up in England after the Norman Conquest in 1066, gave an equal degree of prosperity to the Freemasons there. And as early as 1600 it was quite common in England for Operative Lodges to admit Speculative members.

Although engaged in the service of the Church the Freemasons did not even in mediaeval days wholly approve of the Church. Upon some of the highest cornices of their handiwork they have indelibly cartooned this contempt. For example Findel says: "In the St. Sebaldus Church of Nurembourg, is a carving showing a nun in the embrace of a monk. In Strassburg an Ass is reading Mass at an altar. In Mecklenburg may be seen priests grinding dogmas out of a gristmill, and the Apostles in well-known Masonic attitudes. At Brandenburg you may see a fox in priestly robes preaching to a flock of geese."

With the Reformation came a distinct break between Church and Freemasonry.

A direct off-shoot of the traveling Freemasons were City Gilds which embodied much of the Philosophy, and some of the brotherhood features, of our Order. Still they were quite distinct. They sometimes worked for the Freemasons. To enter the older and more artistic fraternity they must prove possessed of unusual skill.

There can be no doubt of our direct descent from the mediaeval craftsmen of whose splendid symbolism I have tried to give a glimpse. Says Joseph Fort Newton in his classic of the Blue Lodge:

"Masonry was then at the zenith of its power: in its full splendor: the Lion of the tribe of Judah its symbol, strength, wisdom and beauty its ideals. Its motto "to be faithful to God and the Government." Its mission to lend itself to the public good and fraternal Charity. Keeper of an ancient and high tradition, it was a refuge for the oppressed, and a teacher of art and morality to mankind."

It was when the Freemasons took Liberty for a slogan that the Church looked askance. In the more Catholic countries Freemasonry was frowned upon.

They through united action drove the hated Spanish Inquisition from the shores of the New World. In Mexico, Masons since 1833 have had their own particular platform, later formulated as the Laws of Reform into the Constitution of 1857, that same Constitution for which Madero gave his life, for which Carranza is fighting now.

Social Service is another latter day call upon the craft. In some cities, Masonic Social Service has been developed to the highest degree of efficiency.

He who would best serve Masonry must be tireless in his efforts. Maintain close connection with your Lodge; Make the visiting stranger feel at home; Aid the Master in devising ways and means to vary the monotony of the ceaseless grinding of our Degree Mills, endless repetition, an unavoidable consequence nowadays because of the Wave of Masonic Enthusiasm overspreading the country. If you would better fit yourself for the Fellowship of Freemasonry as an Active Worker, inform yourself of its splendid traditions, its history, aims, and present-day activities.

All this is possible through our readable Masonic Magazines, and periodicals for those of you pressed for time, and the weightier tomes of Masonic Lore for the Booklover. You will soon learn there is much that we must do. We Masons are just finding ourselves.

I might consume hours telling of the problems to be met. Perhaps most of you know better than I many of them now staring us in the face. Signs of Unrest are all about us. How to meet new issues, new conditions, Masons may find by keeping in close contact with their Lodges, their Chapters, their Masonic Clubs and subsidiary organizations where the best of the brethren meet to take council together, and plan for the future, while showing an unrelaxing interest in the present.

There is much more to Masonry than the continuous repetition of Ritualism. While that has its function, in reminding us of the Great Philosophy which has successfully weathered the storms of centuries, and contributed its quota to the making of Better Men, Squarer Men, Truer Men, yet it has failed utterly and its beauty and rhythmic charm has had no meaning to him who came merely to be raised from a dead level to a living perpendicular, if he passes out again to the Profane, to flaunt his emblem proudly, while altogether out of touch with the Brotherhood, with the lodge, with himself—a Button Mason indeed, who comes no more to lodge unless it be to dine.

There is no more splendid Fellowship than that of Masonry—the glorious interlacing Fellowship of Man with the Great Architect of the Universe, the invisible, incorporeal ONE GOD—and next the Fellowship of Man with Men, mutual recognition of brotherhood. Such a fellowship expresses both human ideals and spiritual aspirations.

All through the long centuries Masonry has borne the Secret Doctrine of Fellowship teaching Man to live in harmony with Man.

I have spoken of the Great Quest all Masons have made, all Masons are making, that steady secret search which some have found, and some have not, the goal.

To each man is the Secret Doctrine unraveled insofar as he senses his proximity to his God, his brotherly responsibility for his kind.


Find the answer in that Blue Lodge Classic, The Builders, by Bro. Joseph Fort Newton:

"When he can look out over the rivers, the hills, and the far horizon with a sense of his own littleness in the vast scheme of things, and yet have faith, hope and courage . . . which is the root of every virtue. When he knows that down in his heart, every man is as noble, as vile, as divine, as diabolic, and as lonely as himself, and seeks to know, to forgive and to love his fellow-man. When he knows how to sympathize with men in their sorrow, yea, even in their sins, knowing that each man fights a hard fight against many odds. When he has learned how to make friends and to keep them, and above all, to keep friends with himself. . . . When he can be happy and high-minded amid the meaner drudgeries of life. . . . When no voice of distress reaches his ears in vain, and no hand seeks his aid without response. . . . When he knows how to pray, how to love, how to hope. . . . When he has kept faith with himself, with his fellowman, with his God: in his hand a sword for evil, in his heart a bit of song, . . . glad to live, but not afraid to die. Such a man has found the ONLY REAL SECRET OF MASONRY, and THE ONE which it is trying to give all the world."