Enciclopédia Mackey – FELLOW ~ FESTIVALS

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The word “fellow” derived from early northern languages; the central meaning which persisted from one language or dialect to another was that of associate, one in full and equal membership. There are indications that the word first entered our nomenclature in Scotland, but the status or grade thus named was as old as Freemasonry.

In Medieval Freemasonry an Apprentice served a long period of years as a learner or student. He was under oath to the Lodge to obey its rules and regulations; and he was indentured or bonded to a Master. Data belonging to the Transition period suggest that formal papers of indenture were drawn under seal and signed by the youth’s father or guardian-one Scottish Lodge admitted a lawyer for that express purpose. During the years of apprenticeship the youth acted as a servant to his master, lived in a dormitory or in his master’s home (whence the old “oaths of chastity,” etc.), received food and clothing; but worked without pay, and if an Apprentice’s work was sold his master received the money.

At the end of his term, usually of seven years, he was “released from his indentures” and was made a fellow, or full member, of the Craft. As regards his art he was a master mason; as regards his status or grade he was a fellow. He could have an apprentice of his own; was paid wages; had a voice and a vote and could hold office; he could go to other communities or to other countries to work. He was “free of the gild.” Such a man was called “journeyman” very frequently.

This word itself may have carried two meanings at once, as words often do: in its French usage it meant “worker by the day” it also probably meant “jour neying Masons,” fellows who could travel; and in some periods newly-made fellows made it a rule to travel, working in one place after another in order to perfect their knowledge, during the first two years. The highest positions in the Craft, the best-paid and the most honored, were the officers, the Master of Masons in particular, supervisors, administrators, overseers, etc. Also, one experienced Mason might employ a number of Masons with their apprentices; he was the Master and they were journeymen. The word “master” therefore could mean a workman who had mastered the art, the chief officer of a Lodge, an employer, a supervisor, etc. As regards the art he was on a level with fellows; as regards official standing he was in a grade above them. There was in Medieval Freemasonry a wealth of ritualism, ceremony, symbolism-this could be said with safety even if there were no records, because in the Middle Ages, when almost every special form of work was separately organized, the gilds and fraternities were saturated with ritualism and symbolism even the gilds of yeomen, often consisting of farm laborers, and at the bottom of social classes, had their rites; but in the sense of the word as now used there were no Degrees in Medieval Freemasonry. There were, however, the germs or beginnings of what became Degrees in Speculative Freemasonry; the apprentice was examined, sworn, charged, etc. and it is almost certain that he was again sworn, charged, etc., before his raising to the status of fellow. In the Medieval period there were in the Lodges practices and customs both operative and speculative, with the major emphasis on the former; during the Transition Period the movement was away from the operative to the speculative; after 1717-1735 only the speculative remained. The work of the Lodge was no longer organized primarily for sake of the daily work of the members; it became organized around the teachings, rites, ceremonies, symbols, fellowship. In consequence there came into existence three separate Degrees-in reality they are Lodges, because each meets separately, has its own officers, and conducts its own business, and in the By-laws and Minutes is described as a Lodge.

The first Speculative Lodges went to extreme lengths to conceal their esoteric work; the Grand Lodge kept no Minutes for a number of years, and the Minutes of a local Lodge consisted of only one or two bare entries. Few facts are known about the Ritual of that period. There were, however, at least two parts, or sets of ceremonies, one fot Apprentices, one for Fellows; a Lodge sat first as a Lodge of Appren tices, and then as a Lodge of Fellows.

There could have been no proficiency tests because in thousands of known cases a Candidate received the two ceremonies in one evening. After some fifteen years or so, separate Master’s Lodges were set up; apparently these were for Worshipful Masters, Past Masters, and “virtual” Past Masters who had received a ceremony called ”passing the Chair.” There was no official, uniform Work. As time passed the “amount of Ritual material” increased, and this must have been especially true f the Ritual of the Masters’ Lodges. In the next stage, so the meagre records suggest, this Masters’ Ritual was divided in two; one part becoming a separate Master Mason Degree, the other the Royal Arch Degree. The Master Mason Degree, connected faith the first two, came under the jurisdiction of the Lodge; the Royal Arch was made over to the Chapter. It may be that this outline of events was not true of some particular Lodge (a number of them did not have the use of separate Masters’ Lodges) but it is a reasonable summarization of the few data and hints which are available.

In the seven or eight centuries of Masonic history the phrase “Fellow of the Craft” has thus had a number of separate meanings: a craftsman free from his indentures of apprenticeship; a full member of the Lodge; a Master of the Mason art; a journeyman Mason (in both senses); in the first period of Speeulative Masonry, a full-fledged Freemason (he had been ‘made a Mason”); in the later period, a Mason with a half-way status between Apprentice and Master; and the name of the Second Degree (or, rather, Lodge).

NOTE. The Constitutions of 1723 provided that Apprentices could be made Fellows-and-Masters only in Grand Lodge except by dispensation; this attempt to rob Lodges of their ancient right to make Masons was so vigorously protested that in 1725 Grand Lodge ordained that “particular Lodges” could “make Masters at discretion”; the Grand Lodge itself was then using “fellows” and masters” interchangeably. Scottish Lodges were a full generation behind England in adoptingatri-gradalsystem.

One of the possibilities is that what became the Masters’ Degree had been a portion of the Felloweraft Work but that the latter had given it only as a lecture in interpretation of symbols on the Tracing Board, whereas in the Masters’ Lodges it was enacted in full, and in costume. In 1764 Old Dundee Lodge Minutes have “made a Mason” and “raised a Master.” They unquestionably distinguished between “Mason” and “Master.”


President Millard Fillmore (1800-1874), a native of Cayuga County, N.Y., was bonded as an apprentice to a cloth-maker, and remained one for a number of years. (Historians of the old apprenticeship system overlook the use of it in America; it was continued here to a time within the memory of men still living.) He was almost wholly self-educated. A lawyer friend, Judge Walter Wood, tought his indentures, and took the young man into his offiee. In 1821 he moved to Aurora, N.Y. (a name to be made familiar in after years by Elbert Hubbard), and in 1823 was admitted to the bar in nearby Buffalo. He vwas married in Aurora, practiced law, and lived there until 1830. It was in that period that he became an Anti-Mason (Morgan disappeared, or was kid1laped, or murdered in 1826) in the political party of which he was to become one of the three national leaders, along with Thurlow Weed and William H. Seward. In 1828 he became a member (thanks to Weed) of the State Assembly, where he belonged to the Anti-Masonie minority. While in the Assembly Fillmore proved himself no mere bigot, and he was one of the men who helped abolish the 18th Century British system of imprisonment for debt (the United States was a long time ridding itself of such anachronisms) and of religious tests for witnesses. In 1833 he was elected to the U. S. Congress; since with Weed and Seward he had by that time helped to vote the Anti-Masonic Party (“the hollow party”) out of existence, he went to Washington as a man without a party, but in 1834 joined the Whigs. He sat in the house a total of eight years; as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee he helped to appropriate $30,000 to assist Morse in developing the telegraph.

In 1848 he was elected Vice-President; upon the death of Zachary Taylor he took the oath of office as President, July 10, 1850. He signed the notorious Fugitive Slave Law and the Compromise, both in 1850. Also, he experienced a change of heart about Freemasonry (he had broken with Seward and Weed) for he invited it to lay the corner-stone of the new wing of the Capitol, so that the nation was given the bizarre spectacle of a President originally sent to Washington as an Anti-Mason leading a procession of Masons. In 1852 he lost the Whig nomination, and, to the nation’s astonishment, accepted the nomination by the American (or Know-nothing) Party; it was a surprise to see a man who had begun his career as an avowed enemy of secret societies now head the American Party, which was a political secret society. Defeated, he retired from politics, lived in Buffalo (the city which was to become the residence of another President, Grover Cleveland!, was Chancellor of its University, founded the Historical Society there, and died there in 1874.

NOTE. That section of New York in which Fillmore was born must lie not under a star but under a poltergeist, for it has been the cradle of new religions and strange heresies and a number of weird personalities: The Anti-Masonic Movement, the Millerites, Mormonism Spiritualism, hypnotism as a religion, etc.; possibly because for generations it was the cross-roads of the nation for the great movements north and south and east and west and the focus of many conflicting streams of immigration.

John Quincy Adams also was an Anti-Masonic leader but after he left the Presidency, John Adams almost became one in 1801. As it turned out in the end the whole country found that it had formed a wholly erroneous opinion of the Craft, taking it to be something it never was; for this the Craft itself was partly responsible because it published nothing by which the nation could know it character and purposes. Masons who still (a few of them take the grounds that Masonry should maintain a complete silence forget that both a people and a government have a right to know what they are harboring in the form of a powerful society of three million men.


In Masonic principle and in the Landmarks there is nothing to forbid a Lodge from working in any language of its choice Lodges under England, Ireland, Scotland, and almost every American Grand Lodge have done so; but there are circumstances, as in time of war, when the question of the language used is raised because it i8 the language of an enemy people and when it is thus raised it may be carried to court because it may involve a Charter, and a Charter involves property. The classical case in America was that of Schiller Lodge, No. 66, of Newark, N. J. During World War I the Grand Lodge of New Jersey ordered discontinuance of German; Schiller Lodge conformed for a period, then in 19191 and on its own authority, resumed the use of German, whereupon the Grand Lodge revoked its Charter and took possession of its assets valued at $8,000. The Lodge sued; the case was carried to the New Jersey Court of Appeals and Errors, and the Grand Lodge was there sustained. A number of fundamentals in both Masonic and Civil law were recognized, or defined, or employed in the case, among them being:

  1. There was a provision in Sehiller’s Charter to permit its use of German. A Charter is an official recognition of a Lodge’s sovereignty, but that sovereignty is limited; a Grand Lodge can for cause suspend or revoke a Charter; therefore no Charter of itself stands in absolute perpetuity, nor is inalterable, nor releases a Lodge from the superior authority of Grand Lodge.
  2. When a Grand Lodge takes due and regular action in governance of Lodges the mandate is one that every Lodge is to obey. Schiller Lodge disobeyed, and for that reason its Charter was revoked, and on that ground the Grand Lodge defended itself in Court; the Lodge raised the general question of language, prejudice, etc., but this was declared irrelevant by the Court.
  3. Since the question of language is not covered by any Landmark (except negatively) a Grand Lodge is free to permit, to refuse, and to reverse itself at will if circumstances ordain, or if circumstances change.
  4. The Landmark of Peace and Harmony can be invoked on the question of language. If a single Lodge holds out against each and every sister Lodge it, not they, has destroyed Peace and Harmony. The question of the language to be used in Schiller Lodge was decided at the moment of Grand Lodge action; it was not in the power of the Lodge to rescind an action by Grand Lodge, as it itself knew; when therefore it became recalcitrant it disturbed Peace and Harmony.
  5. Peace and Harmony is maintained in Freemasonry not by compromise, evasion, indifference, or appeasement but by the even and uncompromising enforcement of the laws, regulations, and rules; when a Grand Lodge revokes the Charter of a recalcitrant Lodge it is not itself destroying Peace and Harmony but is acting to preserve it.
  6. In a dissenting opinion Justice F. Minturn took the ground that Schiller’s members were Germans, therefore a minority, and he appealed to the right of minorities. The Court held that its members were American citizens, not a minority, and that there can be no “minorities” in Masonry.
  7. The dissenting Justice also argued that the property of Schiller belonged to its members; the Court ruled that the members own and use it conditionally; and by the terms on which a Lodge exists its property reverts to Grand Lodge if its Charter is revoked.
  8. Students of Masonic jurisprudence find in the Schiller Lodge case a profoundly interesting set of subjects and questions. The most interesting subject is the coincidence at many points of Masonic law and civil law, and the fact that any Masonic law or mill may be a law or a datum in a civil Court; the most interesting question lies in the fact that in this as in almost every other case both the Court and the attorneys were troubled because the Craft has never adopted an official definition of Freemasonry.


George Franklin Fort was born in Atlantic County, New Jersey, in a Methodist parsonage, November 20, 1843. When he was eight years of age his uncle, also named Geo. F. Fort, was Governor of New Jersey (from 1851 to 1854); and John Franklin Fort, of the same family, was Governor from 190S1911. Fort had a range of learning such as no other American scholar then possessed.

There had been learned men before him in Ameriea but they had been specialists; Kiropp Lake, Henry Charles Lea, George Park Baker, Roseoe Pound and other scholars of the same encyclopedic sweep came afterwards. His family reported that he had seventeen languages in addition to his own; learned Europe by traveling over it and by studying its history in the places where the history had occurred; he attended Heidelberg University, studied law, returned home and was admitted to the bar in 1866, and began to practice.

But it was for history, archeology, and antiquarianism, not law, that he had a passion, especially the history of the Middle Ages, which at that time was not the well-explored familiar period of history it is now. He wrote and published treatise after treatise on Medieval subjects; this outpouring by one of the most brilliant and learned men went unnoticed in America because Americans knew almost nothing about the Middle Ages, and felt no need to take an interest in them. The one exception to this national apathy was the Masonic Fraternity, which had spent some four or five centuries of its existence in Medieval times, and in origin, form, and tradition was more Medieval than modern. Had not publishers permitted Fort’s books to go out of print he would by this time be a name almost as well known as Mackey, and far better known than Findel whom he surpassed at every point.

Fort was made a Mason in Camden Lodge, No. 15, Camden, New Jersey. Charles S. Peiree, the father of Pragmatism, the philosophy which William James was to make the American philosophy, lived only a short distance away; it would be interesting to know if Peirce was a Mason, because he also was one of the band of men of encyclopedic scholarship whom America has so wholly neglected. In 1870 Fort demitted to help form a new Lodge, Trimble No. 117, at Camden, and was Master the following year. Also he was member of Cyrene Commandery, No. 7; Van Hook Council, No. 8; Excelsior Consistory, Camden; Honorary Member of York No. 236, York, England, and Representative of the United Grand Lodge of England near the Grand Lodge of New Jersey. He published many Masonic treatises, brochures, and books on Operative Architects, Builders Marks, Etc.

But it was into his great Early History and Antiquities of Freemasonry that he poured his knowledge of the earlier periods of the Craft. As against Oliver, who had an uncritical mind, and was a reader of books but not a trained scholar, and who could not tell the difference between a fable and a fact, and whose books preceded his, Fort insisted on exact learning and upon not going farther than records and proofs and sound reasons could carry him. As against Gould, Hughan, Lane, etc., who were to follow him, he refused to cut the history of the Craft down to written documents, and saw, as neither Gould nor Hughan ever was able to see, that any history of Freemasonry must be a history of the whole of it, including its philosophy, ritual, symbols, along with Lodge records and Lodge officers; must take in Freemasonry now as well as Freemasonry in the Eighteenth Century, must not omit the two centuries of Freemasonry in America from the scope of it, as Hughan did, and must not set the High Grades to one side as if they had no place in Masonic history.

The only easily available source of information about the biography of Fort is in two articles published in The Builder: “George Franklin Fort, Masonic Historians by his brother, John Henry Fort; June, 1918, page 171. “The Masonic Writings of George Franklin Fort, ” by Oliver Day Street, author of 5ymbolis7n of the Three Degrees; July, 1918; page 210.

The Early History and Antiquities of Freemasonry, by Geo. F. Fort; Fortescue & Co.;
Philadelphia; 1878. This edition contains a weighty treatise by J. F. Garrison on “A Contribution to the History of the Lost Word.”


Of the four old Lodges of London known to have met in 1716 to discuss the formation of a Grand Lodge and in 1717 met and elected a Grand Master, two are still active: Lodge of Antiquity (see history of it by Rylands and Firebrace) and the Lodge about which Rev. and Bro. Arnold Whitaker Oxford wrote: No. 4: An Introduction to the History of the Royal So7nerset House and Inverness Lodge (Bernard Quaritch; London; 1928). Other old Lodges still at work were, as Old Dundee Lodge very probably was, of Time Immemorial origin but did not participate (as far as any records show) in the formation of the Grand Lodge. Those which did participate must have agreed among themselves that each Time Immemorial Lodge would ever remain independent in some very real sense; Preston insisted upon this independence for Antiquity when he led a secession of a majority of its members; Bro. Oxford still insists upon it for No. 4. The fact, at least as it is generally believed to have been the fact, that many more old Lodges were at work in London and in England before 1717 than was once believed, makes the place of Antiquity and No. 4 the more distinguished among Lodges; they are the oldest existing Lodges of Speculative Free masonry not only in England but in the whole world where by “Speculative” is meant the Grand Lodge system.


On October 17, 1861, Grand Master Coolidge, Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, chartered Fraternal Army Lodge, No. 4. Worshipful Joseph B. Knox, Master of Morning Star Lodge of Boston at the time, was named its Worshipful Master. It was one of many military Lodges in both armies of the Civil War, including local Lodges in the zone of conflict, which faithfully carried into practice the claims of the Mystic Tie; as then, at New Bern, N. C., No. 4 recovered the possessions of St. John’s Lodge, No. 3, sent them back to Boston for safe-keeping, and returned them after the war. Innumerable instances of a like kind, carried on through fours years, completely proved the reality of the Masonic spirit; hundreds of civil and military leaders (Wm. McKinley among them) were drawn into the Craft because of it; and it led to such an increase in Masonic growth and influence that the Civil War Period was a turning-point in the history of American freemasonry. Also it drove completely out of the nations memory the stupid allegations made during the craze of Anti-Masonry from 1826 to 1850. (For a detailed history of No. 4 see A Centennial History of Morning Star Lodge, No. 4, by Edward S. Nason; Worcester, Mass.; 1894.)


A. In the Middle Ages and until about 1500 the Operative Masons were not organized as Speculative Freemasons are. The builders as a whole, including the numbers of special types of them such as Freemasons, wallers, setters, tilers, quarrymen, etc., were everywhere subject to the general laws of the gild system. In some periods and in some places they had a local gild of their own. If a cathedral (or abbey, or priory of large size) was to be built they formed their organization on the spot; a Master of Masons (called by different titles) would be secured by the foundation or administration behind the building enterprise, and he would sign an agreement; this done he would send out a call for workmen, so many of one sort, so many of another; if houses for them and their families were not available they would build them; they would build a dodge room or building for their own use, and also, in most instances, a second room or building in which plans were drawn, models were made, etc.

The Freemasons among the total number of workmen would have meetings in the Lodge room or building, when the need for one arose, or possibly at fixed times, their officers presiding. From then until the building was completed, in ten, twenty-five, or even fifty years, the Freemasons thus had their own local organization. There is no evidence of any national or general organization with a single center, but there is evidence in Masonic traditions and in the text of labor laws that a local organization would send delegates to assemblies, which appear to have been called only at need.

Yet there was such a thing as Masonry in general. Apprentices received everywhere the same training, same at least in general outline though it is known that in detail it differed an experienced Craftsman could tell a workman’s origin by his use of a stone axe. The modes of recognition were such that any regular Freemason could prove himself to be one not only at any place in his own country but also in foreign countries.

If a workman came seeking work, a certain form of ceremony was used to greet him, to examine him, and to employ him; if no employment was to be had he was given hospitality for a night and received advises as to where work could be found. On the whole, and allowing for a certain flexibility in the word, Operative Freemasonry was a fraternity without a single, over-all organization and center. This held true even where local Freemasons became units in a local City Company and where two or three other trades or crafts might be in the same Company; for in such organizations each member craft had its own customs, members, officers, meetings inside the Company. In the period between the dissolution of the gilds and the first Grand Lodge of Speculative Masons in 1717, permanent Lodges became established, each one a center for Freemasons who might work privately, not in organized groups, for shorter or longer period, over a surrounding area. Apprenticeship, the old rules and regulations and customs, modes of recognition, and ceremonies were the same in these separate Lodges, though they had no Grand Lodge. Operative Masons had in use a number of names for themselves, and might call themselves a brotherhood, “the lodge,” a society, a company, an assembly, a fraternity, a modality, a corps, etc.; any one of these terms might refer to workmen of every type in architecture as a whole, or it might refer to the Freemasons only.

See The Cathedral Builders in England, by Edward S. Prior; Seeley and Co.; New York; 1905. This is one of the few non-Masonic books in which a historian of Masonry attempts to discover or to describe the general form of organization of the Craftsmen. He accounts for the extraordinary unity of Freemasonry in Britain and Europe together, by their training, modes of recognition, traveling, and believes that much working for the Benedictine Monastic Order also played a part. The unity of monasticism (he could have included the Orders of the Temple and of Malta) may have had a share, but it could not have been a large one because the dissolution of the monastic orders did not affect the unity of the Masonic fraternity.



This King of the two Sicilies, on the 12th of September, 1775, issued an edict forbidding the meeting of Freemasons in Lodges in his dominions, under penalty of death. In 1777, at the solicitation of his queen, Caroline, this edict was repealed, and Freemasonry was once more tolerated; but in 1781 the decree was renewed.


In 1751, Ferdinand VI, King of Spain, at the solicitation of Joseph Torrubia, Visitor of the Holy Inquisition, enforced in his dominions the Bull of excommunication of Pope Benedict XIV, and forbade the congregation of Freemasons under the highest penalties of law. In the Journal of Freemasonry, Vienna, 1784 (pages 176-224), will be found a translation from Spanish into German of Torrubia’s Act of Accusation, which gave rise to this persecution.


The King of Spain who bore this title was one of the greatest bigots of his time. He had no sooner ascended the throne in 1814, than he reestablished the Inquisition, which had been abolished by his predecessor, prescribed the exercise of Freemasonry, and ordered the Closing of all the Lodges, under the heaviest penalties. In September following, twenty-five persons, among whom were several distinguished noblemen, were arrested as “suspected of Freemasonry.” On March 30, 1818, a still more rigorous edict was issued, by which those convicted of being Freemasons were subjected to the most severe punishments, such as banishment to India and confiscation of goods, or sometimes death by a cruel form of execution. But the subsequent Revolution of 1820 and the abolition of the Inquisition removed these blots from the Spanish records.


Painter and author on ancient art, was born on November 19, 1763, at Pomerania, Germany; was at Rome from 1795 and lectured there on archaeology; returning to Germany, 1802, he became a professor of Italian literature at Sena; then in 1804 was librarian for the Duchess Amalia at Weimar. Fernow was a member of the Lodge Arrmlia, which honored his memory by a special assembly in 1809, he having died on December 4, 1808.


A French statesman, born at Saint Dié, April 5, 1832, studied law, entered politics at Paris, protested against war of 1870 but administered that city during the siege by the German army. Twice Premier, he had been Minister of Education and Minister of Foreign Affairs; in the latter positions he organized public education on a non-clerical basis and provided for colonial growth. He made elementary education free, obligatory, and non-clerical, and urged the destruction of church control in the University and the removal from religious orders of a right to teach. Violent attacks made upon him ended in his death on March 17, 1893, from a pistol shot. He was an associate of Emile Littré and Leon Gambetta and in company with them affiliated with the Masonic Lodge La Clemente Amitie at Paris on July 8, 1875.


From the middle eighteenth century, ardent devotion to duty, fervor or fervency, was taught as a Masonic virtue in the lectures of the First Degree, and symbolized by charcoal, because, as later instructions say, all metals were dissolved by the fervor of ignited charcoal. Subsequently, in further Degrees, fervency and zeal were symbolized by the color scarlet, which is the appropriate tincture of Royal Arch Masonry.


A distinguished German writer and Masonic reformer, who was born at Czurendorf, in Hungary, in 1756. He was the son of very poor parents. His mother, who was a bigoted Catholic, had devoted him to a monastic life, and having been educated at the Jesuit School of Raab, he took holy orders in 1772, and was removed to the Capuchin monastery in Vienna. In consequence, however, of his exposure to the Emperor Joseph II of monastic abuses, he incurred the persecutions of his superiors. But the emperor, having taken him under his protection, nominated him, in 1783, as ex-professor of the Oriental languages in the University of Lemberg. But the monks having threatened him with legal proceedings, he fled to Breslau in 1788, where he subsequently was appointed the tutor of the son of the Prince of Corolath. Here he established a secret order, called by him the Evergreen, which bore a resemblance to Freemasonry in its organization, and was intended to effect moral reforms, which at the time he thought Freemasonry incapable of producing. The Order, however, never really had an active existence, and the attempt of Fessler failed by the dissolution, in 1793, of the society. In 1791 he adopted the Lutheran faith, and, having married, settled in Berlin, where until 1806, he was employed as a superintendent of schools. He wrote during this period several historical works, which gave him a high reputation as an author.

But the victorious progress of the French army in Prussia caused him to lose his official position. having been divorced from his wife in 1802, he again married, and retiring in 1803 from Berlin, betook himself to the quietude of a country life. Becoming now greatly embarrassed in pecuniary matters, he received adequate relief from several of the German Lodges, for which he expressed the most lively gratitude. In 1808 he accepted the position of a professor in the University of St. Petersburg, which, however, he was soon compelled to relinquish in consequence of the intrigues of the clergy, who were displeased with his liberal views.

Subsequently he was appointed superintendent of the evangelical community, over nine Russian departments, and Ecclesiastical President of the Consistory at Saratow, with a large salary. In l827, on the invitation of the Emperor Alexander, he removed permanently to St. Petersburg, where, in 1833, he received the appointment of Ecclesiastical Counselor, and died there December 15, 1839, at the advanced age of eighty-three years.

Fessler was initiated in Freemasonry at Lemberg, in 1783, and immediately devoted himself to the study of its science and history. In June, 1796, he affiliated with the Lodge Royal York, zur Freundschaft, in Berlin, and having been made one of its Sublime Council, was invested with the charge of revising and remodeling the entire ritual of the Lodge, which was based on the advanced Degrees of the French system. To the accomplishment of this laborious task, Fessler at once, and for a long time afterward, devoted his great intellect and his indefatigable energies. In a very short period he succeeded in a reformation of the symbolic Degrees, and finding the Brethren unwilling to reject the high Degrees, which were four in number, then practiced by the Lodge, he remodeled them, retaining a considerable part of the French ritual, but incorporated with it a portion of the Swedish system. The work thus accomplished met with general approbation. In his next task of forming a new Constitution he was not so successful, although at length he induced the Royal York Lodge to assume the character and rank of a Grand Lodge, which it did in 1798, with seven subordinate Lodges under its obedience. Again Fessler commenced the work of a revision of the ritual.

He had always been opposed to the high Degree system. He proposed, therefore, the abolition of everything above the Degree of Master. In this, however, he was warmly opposed, and was compelled to abandon his project of reducing German Free masonry to the simplicity of the English system. Yet he was enabled to accomplish something, and had the satisfaction, in 1800, of metamorphosing the Elu, the Ecossais, and the Rose Croix, of the old ritual of the Royal York Lodge into the “degrees of knowledge, ” which constitute the System known as the Rite of Fessler. In 1798, Fessler had been elected Deputy Grand Master when there were but three Lodges under the Grand Lodge. In 1801, by his persevering activity the number had been increased to sixteen. Still, notwithstanding his meritorious exertions in behalf of Freemasonry, he met with that ingratitude, from those whom he sought to serve, which appears to be the fate or almost all Masonic reformers. In 1802, wearied with the opposition of his antagonists, he renounced all the offices that he had filled, and resigned from the Grand Lodge. Thenceforth he devoted himself in a more retired way to the pursuits of Freemasonry.

Before Fessler resigned, he had conceived and carried out the scheme of establishing a great union of scientific Freemasons, who should devote themselves to the investigation of the history of Freemasonry. Of this society Mossdorf, Fischer; and many other distinguished Freemasons, were members (see Scientific Masonic Association).

Fessler’s contributions to the literature of Freemasonry were numerous and valuable. His chief work was An Atternpt to Furnish a Critical History of Freemasonry and the Masonic Fraternity from the earliest times to the year 1802. This work was never printed, but only loaned in four folio manuscript volumes at the price of £30, say about $135, in present-day ratios, to persons who pledged themselves eventually to return it. It was a mistake to circumscribe the results of his researches within so narrow a field. But he published many other works. His productions were mostly historical and judicial, and made a great impression on the German Masonic mind. His collected works were published in Berlin, from 1801 to 1807, but unfortunately, they have never been translated into English. The object of all he wrote was to elevate Freemasonry to the highest sphere of intellectual character.


This Rite, which was prepared by Fessler at the request of the Grand Lodge Royal York of Berlin, consisted of nine Degrees, as follows:

  1. Entered Apprentice
  2. Fellow Craft.
  3. Master Mason. These three differ but slightly from the same Degrees in all the Rites, and are followed by six other Degrees, which he called the higher knowledge, namely:
  4. The Holy of Holies. This Degree is occupied in a critical exposition of the various hypotheses which have been proposed as to the origin of Freemasonry; as, whether it sprang from the Templars, from the Cathedral of Strasburg, from the Rose Croix of the seventeenth century, from Oliver Cromwell, from the Cathedral of Saint Paul’s at London, from that of the Palace of Kensington, or from the Jesuits.
  5. Justification. Critical examination of the origin of certain of the advanced Degrees, such as the Ecossais and the Chapter of Clermont.
  6. Celebration. Critical examination of the four following systems: Rose Croix, Strict Observance, African Architects, and Initiated Brothers of Asia.
  7. True Light. Critical examination of the Swedish System, the System of Zinnendorf, the Royal Arch of England, of the succession of the Mysteries, and of all systems and their ramifications.
  8. The Country. Examination of the origin of the Mysteries of the Divine Kingdom, introduced by Jesus of Nazareth; of the exoteric doctrines communicated by him immediately to his disciples, and of those which sprang up after his death, up to the time of the Gnosties.
  9. Perfection. A complete critical history of all Mysteries comprehended in actual Freemasonry.

Both Clavel and Ragon say that the rituals of these Degrees svere drawn up from the work of the Golden Rose Croix, of the Rite of Strct Observance, of the Illuminated Chapter of Sweden, and the Ancient Chapter of Clerrnont. Fessler’s Rite was, perhaps, the most abstrusely learned and philosophical of all the Masonic systems; but it did not have a long existence, as it was abandoned by the Grand Lodge, which had at first accepted it, for the purpose of adopting the Ancient York Rite under the Constitutions of England.


All religions have had certain days consecrated to festive enjoyrnent, hence called festivals. Sir Isaac Newton (on Daniel, page 204) says:

The heathen were delighted with the festivals of their gods, and unwilling to part with these delights, and therefore, Gregory Thaumaturgus, who died in 265, and was Bishop of Neocaesarea, to facilitate their conversion instituted annual festivals to the saints and martyrs. Hence it came to pass that, for exploding the festivals of the heathens, the principal festivals of the Christians succeeded in their room: as the keeping of Christmas with joy, and feasting, and playing, and sports, in the room of the Bacchinatia and Satumlia; the celebrating of May day with flowers, in the room of the floral and the keeping of festivals to the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist and divers of the apostles, in the room of the solemnities at the entrance of the sun into the signs of the Zodiac in the old Julian Calendar.

The Freemasons, borrowing from and imitating the usage of the Church, have also always had their festivals or days of festivity and celebration. The chief festivals of the Operatives or Stonemasons of the Middle Ages were those of Saint John the Baptist on June 24, and the Four Crowned Martyrs on the 8th of November. The latter was, however, discarded by the Speculative Freemasons; and the festivals now most generally celebrated by the Fraternity are those of Saint John the Baptist, June 24, and Saint John the Evangelist, December 27. These are the days kept in the United States. Such, too, was formerly the case in England; but the annual festival of the Grand Lodge of England now falls on the Wednesday following Saint George’s day, April 23, that Saint being the patron of England. For a similar reason, Saint Andrew’s day, November 30, is kept by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. In Ireland the festival kept is that of Saint John on December 27.

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