ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FREEMASONRY AND ITS KINDRED SCIENCES
by ALBERT C. MACKEY M. D.
One who has been initiated into the mysteries of the Fraternity of Freemasonry. Freemasons are so called to distinguish them from the Operative or Stone-Masons, who constituted an inferior class of workmen, and out of whom they sprang (see Stonemasons and Traveling Freemasons). The meaning of the epithet free, as applied to Mason, is given under the word Free. In the old lectures of the eighteenth century a Freemason was described as being “a freeman, born of a freewoman, brother to a king, fellow to a prince, or companion to a beggar, if a Mason,” and by this was meant to indicate the universality of the Brotherhood.
The word Freemason was until recently divided into two words, sometimes with and sometimes without a hyphen; and we find in all the old books and manuscripts Free Mason or Free-Mason. But this usage has generally been abandoned by writers, and Freemason is usually spelled as one word. The old Constitutions constantly used the word Mason. E et the word was employed at a very early period in the parish registers of England, and by some writers. Thus, in the register of the parish of Astbury we find these items:
1685. Smallwood, Jos., fils Jos. Henshaw, Freemason bapt 3 die Nov. 1697. Jos. fil Jos. Henshaw, Freemason, buried 7 April.
But the most singular passage is one found in Cawdray’s Treasurie of Similies, published in 1609, and which he copied from Bishop Coverdale’s translation of Werdmuller’s A Spiritual and most Precious Perle, which was published in 1550. It is as follows:
As the freemason heweth-the hard stones . . . even so God the Heavenly Free-Mason buildeth a Christian church.
But, in fact, the word was used at a much earlier period, and occurs, Steinbrenner says in his Origin and Early History of Masonry (page 110), for the first time in a statute passed in 1350, in the twenty-fifth year of Edward I, where the wages of a Master Freemason are fixed at 4 pence, and of other Masons at 3 pence. The original French text of the statute is “Mestre de franche-peer.” “Here,” says Steinbrenner, “the word Freemason evidently signifies a free-stone mason-one who works in free-stone, the French franche-peer, meaning franche-pierre, as distinguished from the rough masons who merely built walls of rough, unhown stone.” This latter sort of workmen was that class called by the Scotch Masons cowans whom the Freemasons were forbidden to work with, whence we get the modern use of that word.
Ten years after, in 1360, we have a statute of Edward III, in which it is ordained that “every Mason shall finish his work, be it of free-stone or of rough-stone,” where the French text of the statute is file franche-pere ou de grosse-pere.” Thus it seems evident that the word free-mason was originally used in contradistinction to rough-rruson. The old Constituitions sometimes call these latter masons rough layers.
Doctor Murray’s New English Dictionary has the following information under Freemason: The precise import with which the adjective was originally used in this designation has been much disputed Three views have been propounded.
- The suggestion that free mason stands for free stone mason would appear unworthy of attention, but for the curious fact that the earliest known instances of any similar appellation are mestre mason de France peer, master mason of free stone. Act 25, Edward III, st. II, e. 3, A.D. 1350, and sculptores lapidum liberorum “carvers of free stones,” alleged to occur in a document of 1217, Finders History of freemasonry (51), citing Wyatt Papworth; the coincidence, however, seems to be merely accidental.
- The view most generally held is that free masons were those who were free of the masons’ gild. Against this explanation many forcible objections have been brought by Mr. G. W. Speth, who suggests:
- That the itinerant masons were called free because they claimed exemption from the control of the local gilds of the towns in which they temporarily settled.
- Perhaps the best hypothesis is that the term refers to the mediaeval practice of emancipating skilled artisans, in order that they might be able to travel and render their services wherever any great building was in process of construction.
And then the following meanings are given:
1. A member of a certain class of skilled workers in stone, in the fourteenth and following centuries often mentioned in contradistinction to rough masons, ligiers, etc. They traveled from place to place, finding employment wherever important buildings were being erected, and had a system of secret signs and passwords by which a craftsman who had been admitted on giving evidence of competent skill could be recognized. In later use, sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, the term seems often to be used merely as a more complimentary synonym of mason, implying that the workman so designated belonged to a superior grade.
The earliest instance quoted of the word in this sense is in a list of the London City Companies of 1376.
2. A member of the Fraternity, called more fully Free and Accepted Masons. Early in the seventeenth century, the Societies of Freemasons, in sense 1, began to admit honorary members, not connected with the building trades, but supposed to be eminent for architectural w or antiquarian learning. These were caned Accepted Masons, though the term Free Masons was often loosely applied to them; and they were admitted to a knowledge of the secret signs, and instructed in the legendary history of the Craft, which had already begun to be developed. The distinction of being an Accepted Mason became a fashionable object of ambition, and before the end of the seventeenth century, the object of the Societies of Freemasons seems to have been chiefly social and convivial. In 1717, under the guidance of the physicist J. T. Desaguliers, four of these Societies or Lodges in London united to form a Grand Lodge, with a new constitution and ritual, and a system of secret signs, the object of the Society as reconstituted being mutual help and the promotion of brotherly feeling among its members.
Brother E. L. Hawkins observes that the earliest instance quoted of the word in this sense is in Ashmole’s Diary under date of 1646 (see Ashmole).
Gould in his Concise History has this to say upon the subject:
Two curious coincidences have been connected with the above year, 1375.
The first, that the earliest copy of the manuscript constitutions, Remus Manuscript, refers to the customs of that period;
the second, that the formation p of a wonderful society, occasioned by a combination of masons undertaking not to work without an advance of wages, when summoned from several counties by writs of Edward III, to rebuild and enlarge Windsor Castle, under the direction of William of Wykeham, has been plated at the same date. It is said also that these masons agreed on certain signs and tokens by which they might know one another, and render mutual assistance against impressment- and further agreed not to work unless free and on their own terms. Hence they called themselves Free-Masons.
A child’s book, Dives Pragmaticus, printed in the year 1563, and reproduced in 1910 by the owner, the John Rylands Library at Manchester, England, contains a list of occupations and line 97 is Al Free masons, Brike layers and dawbers of walled.
For certain necessary and inescapable purposes men now and then, and of their own free will, form themselves into associations (fraternities, clubs, sodalities, societies), designed for a stated purpose, self-governed, and excluding control by persons not in its membership. Men cannot work, or have culture or civilization, or protect themselves as a people, or wage war when war becomes a duty, or have schools, or sciences, or arts, or any freedom of thought or speech or publication, or any means of information, if they cannot form free associations; to do 60 belongs so essentially to the nature of man and to the world that even such terms as rights and privileges are not sufficiently strong to describe the sheer, absolute need for free associations; which are to be classed with food, clothing, shelter in the order of needs. To strike at free associations is to strike at man himself; to make them impossible is to make it impossible for him to live.
When tyrannies or despotisms arise, when some man or group or class, sets out to subjugate men, to render them impotent, to turn them into helots, serfs, or slaves, it is against the right of free association that they invariably aim their first blow, and it matters not whether the tyranny be in politics, work, war, religion, or society. The struggle of the rank and file of ordinary men to resist, to overthrow those groups or classes or churches or other organizations which have countless times attempted to subjugate them is one of the two or three keys to world history; the many struggles taken together, and considered as one, is what Heinie meant by “the warfare for humanity.” World War I, waged against the ruling class in Germany which was out “to conquer and rule” other peoples, and World War II against an international group which called itself variously Fascists, Nazis, Falangists, etc., who undertook to divide the whole of Europe between a small “master class” and populations of slaves, were only the two most recent of the battles in that warfare. It was profoundly significant that when the Vichy government ordered free associations destroyed and appealed to organized workmen of each and every type to join a “totalitarian” government, the French Underground issued in May, 1941, a manifesto in which it declared that no body of citizens would co-operate with the regime until it acknowledged the principle “of freedom of association.”
In the famous chapters on the Roman Collegia in his History of Freemasonry (Vol. II) Bro. Albert G. Mackey properly describes the collegia as genuine forms of free association, but when he comes to the suspension or repression of them by the late emperors was too willing to take the emperors’ word for it that a number of the collegia were illicita, or unlawful. Much has been learned by archeologists since l)r. Mackey wrote those pages, enough to make it clear that the collegia illicita were not (except for a few) engaged in conspiracies, etc., but only fought for enough wages to live on, and for their rights before the law, etc. The Imperial gangsters at Rome gave the emperors’ crown to a succession of cut-throats of the same type, Mussolini and Hitler who made use of the collegia (associations of workmen) as a means of robbing workmen of almost everything they earned.
After Charlemagne in 800 set up the new and continental, so-called Holy Roman Empire it took up where the old Empire had left off; as soon as Charlemagne himself died his successors began the old war against free associations; and scholae, covines, sodalities, assemblies, etc., were forbidden. (The Mason gilds escaped the worst restrictions because of the nature of their work, especially the Freemasons who worked in Gothic, because they either had to have a large measure of liberty or they could neither move about when needed nor practice their art. They may not have called themselves Free Masons for that reason, but they were always conscious of being freer than other Craftsmen and made much of the fact. Their use or not of the name is not important.)
The Roman Catholic Church issued its first Bull of Excommunication against Freemasonry in 1738, in an absurdly worded and ambiguous document signed by Clement XII, then in his dotage. But the Vatican had always been opposed to the Fraternity, and had been so because it was a free association, a society the priests could not control; it was then, as now, opposed to free association on principle.
This opposition was announced in no uncertain terms as early as 1326 when the Council of Avignon issued a statute of excommunication “Concerning the Societies, Unions and Confederacies called Confraternities, which are to be utterly extirpated or wiped out.” The Freemasons were included under this ban, and the same ban was readapted and reinforced in the 1860’s, and again by the Arch Anti-Mason, Pope Leo XIII, in the 1880’s. According to the Council of Avignon nobody was to meet “under the name of a fraternity,” nor wear “a similar dress with certain curious signs or marks,” etc.
England in that same period was in reality a trifle more free than France, a little more humane, but was not so in theory. In 1305 Henry IV forbade workmen if to hold combinations (assemblies, general organizations) outside gild limits; Masons living in the same town could meet, but they could not meet with Masons from other towns. In 1361 Edward III declared “null and void all alliances and covines of Masons and carpenters.” In 1425 Henry VI forbade Masons to hold any longer “yearly congregations and confederacies made in their general chapiters (sic) assembled.”
In his History Gould argues against the supposition that Masons ever held assemblies, but it may be supposed that Henry VI, living at the time, must have been better informed. In 1467 the Crown issued an edict that the tilers (a branch of men in the building trade; roofers) of Worcester were to “sett no parliament among them.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE- As early as 1917 the writer took the world that Freemasonry belongs under that general head of social organization which for some 1200 years has been called “free associations” and he has ever since held that this fact is the corner-stone of Masonic sociology, and that it is the starting-point for any history of the Fraternity. In Freemasonry and Roman Catholicism, written in 1943 and published in 1944, intended to be a fair, non-controversial essay on a difficult theme, he took the same ground, and stated that because the Roman papal system has always been a totalitarian dictatorship it would be compelled by the logic of its own organization to seek to destroy free associations, and that this would have to include Freemasonry.
Between those two dates he had opportunity to study Professor Gierke’s work on Medieval law along with Professor Maitland’s notes and commentaries on it, and in addition a number of other works in the same field of Medieval law and custom which belong to the Gierke constellation including one history of Medieval agricultural law. Professor Gierke had no thesis to prove, nor was he a crusader for any cause, his sole purpose was to bring under review the forms of Medieval Law in one century and country after another. He found that Medieval law was essentially corporative law, and that where modern law is aimed at the individual man Medieval law was aimed at an incorporated body of men hence the importance of charters, warrants, articles of incorporation in the Medieval period. Among the species of corporative bodies were the free associations.
Since writing the brief article to which this note is a pendant, the writer has belatedly secured once again after having been without it for years a copy of the 1908 edition of The Gilds and Companies of London, by George Unwin; Methuen & Co.; London. It is apropos in the present connection because on page 11 Mr. Unwin unequivocally states that in free associations is the principle of progress which most distinguishes western civilization and under the head of free associations he brings the craft and trade gilds, including the gilds, fraternities and societies of Masons. “The greatest body of essential truth yet attained in this field is to be found in the great work of Professor Gierke, of Berlin, on the development of free association, with the ideas of which Professor Maitland has done so much to make us familiar . . . free fellowship has been the most vitally essential element in social and political progress since the fall of the Roman Empire.”
This fact explains many things: it explains why the Roman Church has since 1738 conducted an active crusade, at an expense of millions of dollars and the work of thousands of its employees and partisans, to destroy Freemasonry; why Mussolini and Hitler both sought to destroy Freemasonry and for the same reason as the Popes namely, that it is the witness to, and bearer of the principle of free association; nearer home, it explains why our own Masonic historians, such of them as have failed w to begin with the fact that Freemasonry is in essence a free association, have been led off into so many bogs or morasses of confusion; and why the earliest Lodges set so much store on their first charters or warrants. H.L.H.
FREEMASON, THE WORD
The word “free mason” first came into use in the Fourteenth Century; from then until the Eighteenth Century it appears in many forms, and oftentimes as a synonym for other names and in more than one form: mason, builder, architect, free mason, freemason, free stone mason, etc. In the first period of Masonic scholarship it was assumed that Operative Masons had used the word in one form, with one meaning; many investigators at tempted to discover that original meaning. It was also assumed that the origin of the word would throw light on the origin of the Fraternity. At the present time scholars have abandoned the first assumption, and they rely very little on the origin of the word to explain the origin of Freemasonry. The data collected from many periods and places indicate that the word must have had a number of origins, and that a Crafts man who might be called a Freemason in one place would not be called one in another. The following are only a partial list of the origins, or possible origins, of the word:
- A worker in free-stone. Much quarry stone used in walls, foundations, and single buildings was unequal in hardness, coarse grained, and had either a crooked grain or a grain which ran one way, like the grain in a pine board. The stone used for carving had no grain, or a very fine grain, and could be cut in any direction without splitting or chipping, and would take a flat surface and a polish. It was called free-stone.
- Local masons were by gild custom and civil law confined to their own parishes-at least, under usual and normal circumstances. The cathedral and church building Masons were not thus restricted, but were free to move about. (An ordinary workman coming into a parish from outside, even from the next parish, was a “foreigner” and in the towns more than one street riot broke out over these outsiders.)
- An apprentice was bonded to his master for a period of years. This was called his indenture, at the end of hie term he was examined, and then set free. Any master Mason was in this sense a free Mason.
- Once a town received a Charter of its own it virtually became an independent government; and in the course of time each resident of such a town became a citizen Outside the walls was serfdom, inside was freedom from serfdom. This freedom belonged to the “liberties” of the town. The member of a Mason Company in such a town would be a citizen and therefore free, whereas a mason outside the walls would not be free. (In many cities strangers coming in to reside in a town might receive this freedom at the end of one year and a day.)
- It was once supposed that the Popes had granted the Mason Fraternity a charter to travel about at will unrestricted by local parish rules. Since no record of any such charter has ever been found the theory is abandoned yet from the Fabric Rolls (or day-by-day book-keeping records) of a number of cathedrals and abbeys it is evident that the Freemasons working on the building kept themselves separate from the local workmen who worked with them, and did so under an ecclesiastical authority of some sort.
- There is no proof for the existence of a separate fraternity of traveling, or (in one sense of the word) journeymen Masons (unless the Compagnonage was one) but it is certain that Masons, singly or in groups, often went about from one country to another. They were free to travel in search of work.
- Civil and ecclesiastical authorities both, and for centuries, used the method of impressment (“the press gang”) not only to recruit sailors and soldiers but also to recruit workmen. There are a few instances of the impressment of Masons, but not many; the over-all impression of the data is that the Freemasons were considered a special class of craftsmen, and free from many of the restrictions and indignities which often drove other working men to desperation and revolt.
- There is a psychological and ethical (or the two combined) type of free man-one who is free from ignorance, free from superstition, free from servility, and therefore a free man, meeting others as equals, even when belonging technically to one of the so-called lower orders It is likely that it was this freedom which the Freemasons felt and prized more deeply than any other.
It may be that it was some one of these meanings of the word “Freemason” which found its way into those Old Constitutions, called the Old Charges, which possessed warranting authority for the Lodges which set up the present Fraternity of Speculative Freemasonry; it may be that a confluence of a number of different meanings found their way into usage; in any event the word had then, as it continues to have, a multiordinal, or many-sided, meaning.
It is possible that future research will be able to define the original meaning of “Freemason” with rigorous correctness; if it does, Masons can then know who were Freemasons among Medieval builders and who were not. But even if that discovery were made, it would not solve the problem of the origin of Speculative Freemasonry. The Speculative Fraternity did not grow up everywhere as an inevitable outcome of the “evolution” of Medieval architecture; had that been true there would have come into existence a general Speculative Fraternity in Britain and in every European country as well, whereas it is of record that the Speculative Fraternity came into existence in England only, and very probably in one place, and very likely in the Fourteenth Century; not from Freemasons at large, but from one group of Freemasons in particular. The founders of the Fraternity were Freemasons; but not all Freemasons were founders of the Fraternity. (See page 378.)
FREEMASONRY, DEFINITION OF
A Masonic Lodge represents a body of workmen in which each member has a station or place corresponding to his task or function. Its chief officer is a Master Workman charged with responsibility to see that the members work peaceably and harmoniously as a unit at the task for which he lays the design upon his Tracing Board; his principal assisting officer is responsible for seeing that each man begins and ends on time and is at work in the place where he belongs.
The body of potential workmen from whom new members may be drawn is called the quarries; a man who comes from them is called a Petitioner, and he must be qualified to take his place among the body of workmen or he is not admitted. Immediately he is accepted he becomes an Apprentice, which means he is to be trained, is to become a learner of a craft, or form of work; and he is said to be seeking light, which means intelligence and knowledge for the work he is to do.
At the beginning he is given a learner’s tools; later he will receive tools for more advanced skill; and at the end will receive the use of all of them; they are working tools. He is clothed in a workman’s apron; it is his livery, or badge, and he is warned against ever feeling shame while wearing it. These craftsmen are to act as one man, as men do when working together in the same place. They have traditions which concern men who worked on buildings, represented by a Temple, and of a Master of Workmen, who superintended the building of that Temple; but it is made clear that the work of builders is only a specimen of each and every form of work-it is symbolic. Their rules and regulations concern their hours, wages, their duty to their officers or overseers, and their discipline.
The Freemasons of the Middle Ages who formed the first of these Lodges lived in a society in which not only institutions and rulers but the great majority of men and women were opposed to the teachings of Masonic Lodges, and were ready to destroy them by force and violence. The fundamental doctrine of the Church was that work as a curse which had been pronounced on Adam’s descendants as a supernatural and never-ceasing penalty for his disobedience. The great reward of a good life was to be released by death from toil, and entrance into “an everlasting rest”where men have ceased from their labors and go about in a never-ending worklessness. The two Patron Saints of a man in work are his wife and family, but the head of the Church had no wife, children or home.
The only truly holy man was a celibate priest who did no cork, or monks and nuns who kept long vigils of idleness, or friars who went about the roads begging for food and lodging. The King and his nobles and the aristocracy by which they were surrounded looked down upon work as something beneath them; and next below them came the rich merchants. From that level downward men and women belonged to the lower classes because they were working men and women in a descending series, skilled workmen, mechanics laborers, peasants, villains, serfs, cotters, slaves. These men and women of the lower classes were paid a few cents per day; had no voice or vote in Church or State; could hold no high office in army or government received no education could not even read and write, could not marry above their class; could own almost no property; were compelled by law to dress according to their station; could be impressed with force by the sheriffs to labor on public works or to fight in the army or navy. When the new colonies were opened up they were herded into small ships like cattle and sent without tools, implements, weapons, doctors, or teachers to live in the wilderness among savages.
To prevent their rebellion some 200 small felonies were made punishable by death-one man was hanged, burned, and quartered because he had dared to translate the Bible into the language used by the common people These disgraces, indignities, injustices, and atrocities were heaped upon them with a terrible inhumanity s century after century not because they were criminals, traitors, or recusants but because they were neither lords nor landlords but w ere working men. There were better times and worse; there were occasions when a man was honored for work that he had done; once in a thousand times a man might marry above or below his class; but these were nothing but sporadic exceptions, and did not avail to overthrow the barbaric feudalism, the cardinal principle of which was that a lord on and not only the land but the men who worked on it, and since he owned the men he owned the products of their work. The Medieval Freemasons found out the truth about work; they found it out for themselves, and from the work they themselves were doing, which was unlike the work being done by any other craftsmen. They did not write that truth down in books or cast it in the form of a creed, and Masons have never done so since, nevertheless it is possible to set it down in a series of statements in the language of today:
- To work is to produce, grow, or make something without which men and women cannot continue to live; to have such things a man must make use of himself as the means to produce them. Since this is true he is neither an animal nor a machine; to take away from him by force. fraud or chicane, directly or indirectly, the products of his work, is to do violence not to things but to the man himself, and hence is absolute injustice.
- The need men and women have for countless products, services, and commodities is not a temporary one, nor is it accidental, but continues to be true for ever. For this reason work is neither a curse nor an inconveniences but is a fact about the nature of man and the world, and is so eternally.
- Since this is true, work is one of the attributes of God. It is for this reason that He is named Sovereign Grand Architect of the Universe.
- Man is by nature a worker. It is only in his work that a man finds himself, his fulfillment and satisfaction; idlers and parasites become less than men, are ex-men. This truth is plain to any observer; when a man ceases or refuses to work an inner deterioration begins, first in his character, later in his mind, and in the end his body undergoes a process of degeneration; and while this process of disintegration goes forward he knows himself to be under contempt.
- To be able to carry on his work a man must have Knowledge and intelligence which means education; he must be free to think because work calls for reasoning and understanding; he must one free to speak, because the larger part of the world’s work is done by numbers of men working together and therefore they must have information from each other; they must one free to enter or to leave any form of work because always some things are completed and new things must be done, to work in continuous association with each other establishes them in a fraternalism a fact so clearly seen by Freemasonry that often it is said of men in the same trade or art that “they have a freemasonry among themselves,” and it is this which is meant by morale or es t de corps.
There can be no chasms of class distinction among workers because they must meet upon the level in order to co-operate with each other. If a man be not honorable, upright, and truthful it is not he alone who suffers from his failure; his fellows suffer also, they and the work together. If work fails the world fails, and workers and non-workers go down in catastrophe together. no church or government is more stupid than one which denies men the liberty to work, or interferes with the liberties required by work.
The best thought of men about the matters which belong to religion are embodied in the great organized Sligions such as Christianity, Judaism, hiohammedanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, etc., and by them is stated in their creeds which in turn are amplified and expounded and taught by their theologies. It is an astounding fact that thus far no theology has ether embodied in its creed any doctrines about work.
Men’s best thought about their way of life in the world is embodied in the great philosophies, of which the first were founded by Greek thinkers of about 600 B.C. Although a philosopher may endeavor to incorporate the whole world in his system it is always found in the end that his philosophy consists of the elaboration or exposition or exploration of some one idea or truth or fact. The philosophy of Plato concerns itself with ideas. Aristotle w as the philosopher of logic. Roman Stoicism was an elaboration of the theory that there are laws of nature, and that these are the laws of man. Descartes declared that everything is a dualism of matter and mind; Spinoza declared that there is no dualism and only one Reality, but that this Reality manifests itself in the two modes of matter and mind. Kant was an epistemologist, concerned with the nature of knowledge. Haeckel was a materialist. Bergson examined and elaborated the fact of change, or flux, or motion. There is scarcely an idea or truth capable of being thought which has not been seized upon, expanded and expounded, and made into a system of philosophy by some thinker. And yet, and again it is an astounding fact, no Scnoum system of philosophy has eater been devoted to tile subject of work! William James and John Dewey have come closest to it but neither of them took work itself as his subject matter but only used it as if it were a means to an end. Thomas Carlyle saw the need for a philosophy of work, and cried out for some man to do it, but did not produce it himself.
When the first Freemasons found out for them8elves the truth about work and though they did not embody it in creeds or books but left it, as it w ere, to speak for itself, and only among themselves, it w as a far greater achievement than the discovery and perfection of Gothic cathedrals. They won a place for themselves among history’s great way-showers, thinkers, philosophers, prophets. Nor is it any wonder that in those days of feudalism they kept it among themselves, in their tiled rooms, behind locked doors, and pledged every candidate to hold inviolate the privacy of his Lodge. What they thought and taught and knew was not a heresy, theological or philosophical, but it differed so radically from the whole mass and drive of the beliefs and practices of the feudalism around them that they saw no need to disturb outsiders by what those outsiders could not have understood; and not being fanatics, and having intelligence as well as character, they saw no need to expose themselves to the fury of the priests or the barbaric brutalities of the lords.
It is not all-important to Freemasons that the founders of their Fraternity were builders, or even great builders; the all-important fact is that they were great thinkers, and found out for themselves a set of truths which no men had found or seen before, and which, even now, only a few are beginning to see; there would be neither point nor purpose for adult men to carry on, month after month, a mere routine repetition of builder customs. The soul of Freemasonry as well as its purpose in the world. is the set of truths which they found. The fact that those truths are not codified, or printed, or tabulated but are embodied in rites and symbols and Lodge practices does not matter; they are there, and while a man is being made a Mason they stamp themselves upon his mind. It is because they are there that after a man has worn off the first strangeness of being a member of a Lodge and begins to learn for himself what Freemasonry is and what its history has been, there begins to grow in him a zeal and an enthusiasm for it. H. L. H.
FRENCH PRISONERS’ LODGES
The short paragraph on page 382 was based on French Prisoners’ Lodges, by J. T. Thorp; Leicester, England; 1900. Bro. Thorp was one of those great and good men who would have been a Mason in mind and spirit had he never united with the Fraternity; and in addition belonged to that rare brotherhood of good and great men whose hearts are as large and as active as their intellects-such a one as, in the Middle Ages, men had described as “humane scholars.” Once he discovered that the French Prisoners’ Lodges had existed, with infinite toil he hunted out meager details about twenty-six of them, and published a book about them. But it n as not in him to stop short; he made the subject his own, kept it before him until he died; and, assisted by Bros. Crowe, Sitwell, and Wonnacott, he accumulated so much material that at the time of his death in 1932 he had a new and much larger book prepared and ready to print. In 1935 it was brought out by the Lodge of Research, Leicester, No. 2429; Freemasons’ Hall; Leicester; cloth; illustrated; 304 pages; with Introduction by Lionel Vibert.
Bro. Thorp was made a Mason in John of Gaunt Lodge, No. 523, in 1870; was its Master in 1875, and in 1882. He was made a full member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Research, No. 2076, in 1900; was Master in 1909. He had already founded Leieester Lodge of Research in 1892, and was its first Master. “This Lodge,” writes Bro. Vibert, “commenced the issue of Transactions at once, and up to his [Thorp’s] death he was the Editor of them …. He was closely associated with that great student, the late Bro. Hughan, who made him his literary executor…. Besides several histories of Lodges which he published as independent works, he issued, in connection with the Lodge of Researeh, an important series of reprints of scarce Masonic works …. In 1898 he became the possessor of the version of the Old Charges that bears his name: a full account and transcript will be found at A.Q.C.; XI, 205.”
Great Britain and France were almost continuously at war from 1740 to 1815. During the period called the Seven Years War the average number of French prisoners of war in England averaged 18,800; in 1763 it was about 40,000. Between 1803 and 1814 some 122,000 army and navy prisoners were interned, most of them at eight centers. Since Napoleon grabbed conscripts wherever he could lay hands on them between 1810 and 1815, sometimes emptying them out of prisons, there were among the prisoners interned in England men of a dozen nationalities; and since Napoleon remitted no money for their care (Great Britain remitted fifty cents a day for feeding its own men in France), the suffering of the men, more than 200,000 of them between 1740 and 1814, was beyond description. In some centers they were paroled; they even went into trades and secured permanent positions; in other places they were locked up in verminous barracks; the worst fate was for the thousands who were crowded into old prison hulks. There were 34 of these ships. Thorp says: “The mortality on these hulks was abnormally high.”
“During the period with which these records deal- 1756 to 1814 Freemasonry was as popular in the French as it was in the British army . . . The members of the British Craft seem to have done their utmost to alleviate the distress of these French Brethren.” (Note. If any Mason has the impression that the Mystic Tie is only a pious sentiment, good in intention, but of no great reality, or that the G.H.S.D. can be made in vain, he can disabuse himself of the illusion by reading Thorp’s book; wherein, amid a somber blackness of misery almost too horrible to contemplate, the Craft moved with its Great Lights; and on more than one prison hulk it was the only star in a black night; the same Mason can be further disillusioned if he will read the history of a hundred or so army Lodges of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century. There are hundreds of instances on record; many as they are, they are a minute fraction of the unrecorded instances which occurred. The harder the Tie was stretched, and certainly it never was so tightly stretched as on those prison hulks, the stronger it became-perhaps it is for that very reason that it is called a Mystic Tie!)
“That the Freemasons amongst the prisoners on parole were received as visitors at Masonic meetings in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, the minutes of Lodges at Leicester, Winchester, Bandon, Selkirk, Kelso, Hawick, Melrose, Redruth and other towns amply testify, and in some cases there is no doubt they were initiated in, or became joining members of these Local Lodges. In four cases in England, viz., at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Chesterfield, Leek, and Northampton, the French Brethren obtained a permit to hold their Lodges from the Earl of Moira, the Acting Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England ….” (Page 29.)
FRENCH REVOLUTION, MASONRY AND
When French Fascists began the concerted movement to overthrow the French Republic they organized a bureau, a set of bureaus in reality, to make war on Freemasonry because they believed the Lodges, centers of Protestantism and supporters of free public schools, to be one of the Republic’s strongest supports. In doing so they employed in the 1920’s one Bernard Fa to write and publish a number of books which would undermine Freemasonry not by a direct attack but under the disguise of a fair and good-humored series of historical and biographical studies. Mr. Fay came to the United States to write a biography of Benjamin Franklin. In his capacity as a friendly visiting French scholar he visited the Grand Lodge Library of New York, in New York City, where he asked the courtesy of making use of it in order, he said, to incorporate some pages on Franklin as a Mason, for, he said, he believed that Franklin’s Masonry had been a prime influence in his career, etc.
The courtesy was granted and the facilities of the Library staff were put at his disposal. But when the biography appeared (it sold widely) it transpired that Mr. Fay had not sought out the data on Franklin’s Masonry to incorporate them truthfully in his book but in order to twist and subtly distort them. There is scarcely a true statement in his pages; he even states that Franklin set out to “build up a Masonic press” in the Colonies in order to undermine the government and to throw dictation into the hands of the Masons! Had this been true the fifty or sixty Masons in Philadelphia would have been more than busy l The thing is a piece of mendacity, and it was unfortunate that the Fraternity had no means to make known that fact to the publishers and to the book reviewers.
Mr. Fay brought his contemptible purpose into the light with another book, also published by an American firm, in 1935, under the title of Revolution and Freemasonry. The Fraternity cannot have the right nor could it have the desire to dictate to American publishers what they may or may not publish, but again it was unfortunate that no responsible Masonic agency did not make clear to the general public what a set of lies were incorporated in that book, and did not protest to the American publisher for sponsoring a volume in which the facts about Freemasonry were distorted, and with statements fabricated out of nothing. Other books against the Fraternity had met with no resentment because they had been written at least with sincerity, and were untrue only because of ignorance; the Fa books were of another species, because he was too well-informed not to know how false to facts his statements were.
The two books taken together were American Masonry’s first experience of an anti-Masonic technique which had been a employed in Europe since the 1890’s-a bold, open t assertion of lies and false accusations. The French Revolution was an explosion of resentment by a whole people against an inhuman regime did not begin anywhere in particular; was not conspired or engineered. Except for a few, the French people had then never even heard of Freemasonry because the Lodges were small and there were few of them. Moreover there were as many Masons among the Royalist parties as among the Revolutionary leaders. The general popularity of the Craft which burst out so suddenly about 1800 was one of the 6SUltsS not one of the causes, of the Revolution. (Revolution and Freemasonry, by Bernard Fay; Boston; Little, Brown & Co.; 1935. After the fall of France in 1940 a Bernard Fay was assigned to turn into the Petain headquarters at Vichy and the German offices in Paris a list of the names and addresses of Masons throughout France, in order that they should be ‘purged”; at present writing it is not certain that this was the same Bernard Fay who came to America to traduce a Fraternity to which the President belonged, but both the circumstances and reports from abroad indicate that it was. In a list of enemies published by the French underground who were nuned for assassination published in Life Magazine his name stood third in a list of ten. See also The t Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, by Nesta Webster.)
Volume VIII of the Cambridge Modern History consists of a history of the French Revolution. The sifted and tested findings of thousands of historians and specialists who for a century and a half had been at work accumulating data were either represented or incorporated which means that the volume was supported by the whole body of European, British, and American scholarship and at the same time was sponsored by a University which ranks above others in the field of historical research. Against a history of that comprehensive authority a man like Mr. Fay or a woman like Mrs. Webster have no weight.
The Cambridge volume contains more words than ten large books of ordinary size and is a solid mass of facts; yet in it are only three references to Masonry and the Revolution; of these, two are items without significance; the third is on page 772, in Chapter XXV: “The Masonic movement had challenged traditional ideas.” Had the whole body of historical scholarship found that the Revolution had been a Masonic conspiracy and had been engineered and led by the Fraternity, Freemasonry would have been the subject-in-chief of the whole volume.
When Pope Leo in 1894 set up his Church’s Anti Masonic Bureau, and when Fascists of Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Belgium, and Spain made the obliteration of Freemasonry one of the first undertakings on their agenda, they adopted the technique of, first, attacking the personal reputation of individual Masonic leaders; second, of publishing defamatory accusations which were to be made of lies as large as possible and stated as brazenly as possible on the presupposition that the majority of readers would be too little informed about the Fraternity to resist an cut-in-the-open mendacity.
That technique proved in its results to be so effectual in Europe that it is almost certain to be adopted by Anti-Masons in America. As regards any action taken for or against the French Revolution by Regular and Duly-constituted Lodges of English-speaking Freemasonry there is no room for guesswork or surmise (as was explained to Mr. Fay in person when he was in New York) because a detailed, complete record of evidence is available to any historian. The present writer read for the period 1775-1815 the histories and Minute books of some 200 British and American Lodges with this subject in view and found that British Lodges almost never so much as mentioned the Revolution except in some two or three instances where something was done “with reference to the troubles in France.”
The British government was at war with France from 1801 to the Battle of Waterloo; Lodges without exception continued loyal to their Government, and offices in Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodges were occupied by members of the Royal Family.
The only action of any kind taken by any British Lodges was to vote relief to French prisoners kept in England, a Red Cross type of relief action and without political significance. In American Lodges the Revolution was even more completely ignored. The only exception of importance is page 37 of One Hundred and Seventy-five Years of Masonic History of Lodge No. 2 (1758-1933) by Percival H. Granger; Philadelphia; 1933; “We are told that the year 1793 was a portentous one.” The French emigres arrived in Philadelphia in large numbers about this time and exerted a baneful influence upon our whole social and political economy, for a time even threatening the stability of our government and attempting to impeach and overthrow President Washington. The first arrivals were fugitive royalists, and then later were fugitives from San Domingo, and still later, Genet, the representative of the new French Republic, and his followers. The latter were opposed to religious services, and during the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 succeeded in closing all but twelve churches in Philadelphia. Their agitation, however, had little effect upon the Lodges. Our Revolutionary War had won us independence from Great Britain but had up to then left undisturbed the social institutions which had been imported from Great Britain; the War had not revolutionized American soaety and was not to do so in effect until the Presidency of Andrew Jackson; the French Revolutionists through Genet came to start a revolution here like the revolution in France. The French counterrevolutionists, led by the Royalists and the Roman hierarchy, wealthy and powerful, worked from centers outside of France to destroy the new Republic in America in order to discredit the Revolution in France. Between the two, Frenchmen in general aroused so much resentment and hatred of both parties that the friendliness Americans had felt for France in 1781 gave way to hatred for everything French, and by 1825 had led to that complete ignoring of France and indifference to everything “Frenchified” that was to continue until after 1900.
German for Freemason. Mauer means a way, and mauern, to build a way. Hence, literally, freimaurer is a builder of ways, who is free of his gild, from the fact that the building of walls was the first occupation of masons.