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R.W.Bro.Edward T. Schultz. P.S.G.W and
Masonic Historian of Maryland
[This paper was presented at the
Celebration of the 125 th Anniversary of the Formation of the Grand Lodge
of Maryland (A.F. & A.M). held at the City of Easton on 14-5-1912. The
learned author has admirably summed up the historical data and the research
materials available then. He has also pointed out the motto, "Tradition
does not invent, it may exaggerate.", which he has followed to a
considerable extent in this paper. He had taken considerable pains to
study the numerous ancient manuscripts, forming the bedrock of the History of
Freemasonry. There are extensive quotations from those manuscripts. The learned
author had at the end of the paper summarized his conclusions. Modern authors
seem to hold a slightly different view. A careful study of this article will
expand our understanding of the Origin of Freemasonry. Please read on ]
Whence came Freemasonry?
Masons and non-Masons alike agree, that it is of great antiquity, but where and
when did it originate? Everything mundane has a beginning, when then was
The young student of
Masonry or the credulous brother may say, "why, these questions were fully
answered in a history of our Fraternity written nearly two hundred years
ago." Yes, that is true.
On St. John the
Baptist's Day, June 24, 1717, an assemblage of Masons was held at the
"Goose and Gridiron" tavern in the city of London, in compliance with
a resolution adopted by the four old Lodges of London and some other old
brethren, to revive Masonry, which had fallen into great disorder, to revive the
quarterly communications of the officers of Lodges, to hold an annual assemblage
and feast and to choose a Grand Master among themselves. A number of adjourned
meetings followed, when the ancient charges and regulations were formulated and
adopted and thus was organized the Grand Lodge of England, the premier Grand
Lodge of the world. A learned Brother, Rev. James Anderson, D.D., a Scotch
Presbyterian Minister, was appointed to write a history of the Fraternity from
the earliest times.
This he did in his Book
of Constitutions, which was published in 1723, embodying the proceedings of the
various conventions, ancient charges and regulations.
In this history, Masonry
is made co-eval with the creation of the world and throughout geometry and
Masonry are treated synonymously. Adam and his sons, Cain and Seth, Noah and his
three sons, Japhet, Shem and Ham, as well as Abraham and all the patriarchs,
Moses and other prominent personages
mentioned in the Bible down to the time of Solomon, are all styled Grand
Unfortunately, much of
this history is regarded as entirely too fabulous in character to be accepted as
veritable history. That Anderson did not invent this history or manufacture it
from whole cloth is evidenced by the fact that since his time many ancient
writings have been brought to light from which it is manifest, that the earliest
part, at least of Anderson's history, was compiled from them.
There is in the city of
London, a Lodge known as the Quatuor Coronati No.2076. Although it holds a
regular charter from the Grand Lodge of England, it does not confer any of the
degrees, nor does it perform any of the usual functions of a Lodge. Its labors
are wholly literary in character. The object of its formation was the collection
and preservation of ancient writings and documents, old records, seals,
inscriptions on monuments, etc.. Its active membership is limited to forty
members, all of whom are learned men and zealous students of Freemasonry. There
is attached to the Lodge what is known as the Correspondence Circle, which is
open to students and Master Masons, wheresoever dispersed. Grand Master Shryock,
Thomas Footer of Cumberland, and myself are, and have been since its
organization thirty-five years ago, members of this Circle. Upon the payment of
10 shillings 6 pence we are entitled to all the publications of the Lodge, which
are issued from time to time.
By the efforts of the
active members and others many ancient writings have been collected, among them
between sixty and seventy old manuscripts, known as the old Constitutions of
Members of the Lodge
have been selected to examine these old documents and comment upon the same. In
1884, the first volume of reprints appeared and this was followed by a number of
other volumes in which these commentaries, together with the facsimiles of these
old writings, in the finest style of the photographer and printer's art, are
given, but by many of these brethren they were treated more in the light of
literary curios than as history.
I read these discussions
as they appeared from time to time with great interest, about which time I found
in the library of a friend of mine, whom I was visiting, a very old history of
the United States, the name of the author and the date of the publication have
slipped my mind. In his introduction the author, after narrating the tradition
that America was visited by the Norsemen many years before the advent of
Columbus, uses a phrase somewhat as follows: "Tradition does not invent, it
may exaggerate." This made a deep impression upon my mind, and since then
in the examination of old writings, I have endeavored to see if I could discover
any motive for the writer's stating anything that was not true and then to see
if there was anything in their statements that was unnatural or impossible to
have occurred, and if it stood these tests I was not disposed to wholly reject
Martin Luther, the
father of Protestantism, was a believer in the dogma of trans-substantiation, or
rather he believed in con-substantiation, that is, the Spiritual presence of our
Lord in the Eucharist, differing from the Romanist who believes in the real
bodily presence; but he was vehemently opposed in this by some of his
associates. It is said that upon one occasion, when about to preach upon this
subject, he wrote on a placard in large letters "This is my body" and
took it with him into the pulpit and placed it prominently before his eyes in
order that he might not waiver from his belief.
Imitating the example of
the Great Reformer, during my investigations of this subject I have placed
prominently before my mind's eye the words I saw in the old history and in the
thoughts that I now deliver I have held in view this motto "Tradition does
not invent, it may exaggerate."
The earliest of these
old manuscripts brought to light is what is known as the Halliwell, or as
Brother Gould, I believe, has christened it, the Regius Poem. Unfortunately, it
is not dated, but experts in the British Museum, as well as others, place the
date of its writing at about A. D. 1390. It is not only the earliest, but the
most voluminous, of these old Constitutions and the brethren of the Coronati
believe that the most of the others were directly or indirectly copied from it,
itself being a copy of a still earlier one.
The old poem commences
in this wise:
"Here Begin The
Constitutions Of The Art Of Geometry According To Euclid.
Whoso will both well read and look, He may find
writ in olden book, etc."
As this old poem is
written in the quaint old English, it is somewhat hard to read and understand. I
have, therefore, made my excerpts from some of the other manuscripts, namely,
the Matthew Cooke, Landsdowne, William Watson and the Leland, which are more
All these old
manuscripts are prefaced by the following, or a similar pious invocation,
"The might of the Father of the Heavens, the Wisdom of the Glorious Son and
the goodness of the Holy Ghost three persons and one God be with us now and ever
Amen." From this I think we have a right to infer that the writers of these
early manuscripts were conscientious and God-fearing persons and therefore,
would not write any thing that they did not know, or at least believe, to be
true. I have therefore incorporated this thought in my sermon.
The manuscripts then
open with a dissertation on the seven liberal sciences; then follows an account
of the discoveries and inventions of the children of Lamech as mentioned in the
Bible, namely, "Gabell found the craft of Geometry; Tuball, Musick;
Tubalican, the Smith Craft; the daughter found the craft of Webbing; as
wherefore they wrought the Scyenees they had found in 2 Pillers of Stone that
they might be found afterwards, and the one Stone was called Marble for that
would not burne in the fire and the other Stone was called Latherne and that
would not be drowned with water."
Mention is then made of
the building of the Tower of Babel when "Nemroth who was a Mason himself
sent sixty Masons to the King of Ninevey at the making of the City of Ninevey."
It then speaks of the
visit of Abraham and his wife Sarah, to Egypt, where they taught the Egyptians
the science of Geometry and "the worthy clerk Euclid was his pupil and
learned of him, and he first gave it the name of Geometry; although it was
practiced before that time it had not acquired the name of Geometry."
"For in his time, the river of Egypt which is called the Nile so overflowed
the land that no man could dwell therein. Then the worthy clerk Euclid taught
them to make great walls and ditches to keep back the water, and by Geometry he
measured the land and parcelled it out into sections and caused every man to
enclose his own portion with walls and ditches;" etc.
distinguished geometrician, was born about B. C. 400, nearly 1600 years after
the time of Abraham. Brother Mackey referring to the anachronism which makes
Euclid contemporary with Abraham says: "Interpreted as all Masonic legends
should be interpreted, as merely intended to convey a Masonic truth in symbolic
language, it loses its absurdity, and becomes invested with an importance that
we should not otherwise attach to it."
Brother Rob. Morris
inclined to the opinion that Euclid is but a substituted name for some great
architect of far earlier date.
The writers then
continue: "During the time that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt they
learned the craft of Masonry. And after they were driven out of Egypt they came
into the promised land, which is
now called Jerusalem, and they occupied that land and the charges were observed
They tell of the making
of the Temple by Solomon, which will be referred to later.
We readily admit that it
is hard to imagine or conceive that our Fraternity is descended from the
personages so early mentioned in the world's history or that they can in any way
be regarded as the founders of our Fraternity. But these old writers say they
were and as they are believed to have been truthful and honest, they are at
least entitled to a respectful hearing.
To understand the full
force and import of ancient writings one must take into consideration the time,
place and circumstances under which they were written and not judge them by the
environment under which we are living. It must be borne in mind that this was
many, many centuries before the discovery of the art of printing and even
centuries before art of writing was invented. This was not known in Abraham's
day and perhaps but little known much before the time of Moses.
It is believed that the
first five books of Moses ascribed to his authorship, were written from oral
tradition aided by the inspiration of God and therefore, that the only knowledge
that the people had of the past was by tradition, handed down from generation to
All nations of antiquity
of whom we have any knowledge, whether barbarian or civilized, had their
mysteries which were intimately associated with their religious worship. The
Hebrews were no exception. They had their mysteries, or at least, they had
secrets known to the few, excluded from the many.
Now it is reasonable to
suppose that the discoveries and inventions by Lamech's family were not
communicated to the people generally, but were only communicated to the faithful
few, orally and esoterically.
There are certain
personages prominently mentioned throughout the Bible, who seem to be more
favored of God than others and to whom He more particularly revealed His nature
and attributes, and it is not unreasonable to suppose that this knowledge was
withheld from the mass of the people, especially from the idolaters, of whom
there were many at that time.
Even Terah, Abraham's
father, as well as other members of his household were idolaters. Thus,
knowledge and information was communicated from generation to generation down to
the time of Solomon.
The legend regarding
Solomon is as follows:
after the decease of King David, then Reigned Solomon that was King David's
Sonne and he performed out The Temple that his father had begun and he sent
after masons into Diverse Countreys and into Diverse Lands and he gathered them
together so that he had 24000 Workers of Stone and were all named Masons and he
Chosed out of them 3000 and were all ordained to be Master Rulers and Governors
of his Worke, and then was there a King of another Region which men called Iram
and he loved well King Solloman and gave him Timber to his Work and he had a
Sonne that was called a Man that was Master of Geometry, and was chiefe Master
of all his Masonrie and of all his Graving Carving and all other Masonry that
belonged to the Temple, this is Witnessed in the holy Bible (in Libra Regium
quarto et Tertio) and this same Solloman Confirmed both the Charges and the
Manners which his father had given."
And here I pause to say
that I am a firm believer in the Solomonic origin of Masonry, or at least, I
believe that the discoveries and inventions of these earlier people mentioned,
especially of the art of building, were in the time of Solomon reduced to a
In the year of the world
3000 was begun that magnificient structure known as Solomon's Temple at
Jerusalem, nearly seven years were consumed in its construction and when
finished it was dedicated with imposing ceremonies in the presence of the whole
In the eloquent
dedication prayer of Solomon he says: "Now it was in the heart of David my
father to build a house for the name of the Lord God of Israel. But the Lord
said to David my father, Forasmuch as it was in thine heart to build a house for
my name, thou didst well in that it was in thine heart: Notwithstanding thou
shalt not build the house; but thy son which shall come forth out of thy loins,
he shall build the house for my name."
The plans and
specifications to the most minute
detail as well as those for the making of the holy vessels to be used in worship
were delivered by God to Solomon.
Hiram, King of Tyre,
took great interest in this noble work and rendered Solomon great assistance. He
sent him men to hew cedar, fir and algum trees out of Lebanon, he also sent him
a man named Huram "The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his
father was a man of Tyre, skillful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in
iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue and in fine linen, and in
crimson; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every device which
shall be put to him, with thy cunning man, and with the cunning men of my lord
David thy father."
This Huram or Hiram, was
the chief architect and general superintendent of the building. The important
parts of the work were performed by him, namely the two famous pillars that were
in the porch in the front of the Temple, and the pots and the shovels and the
basins and other holy vessels, other parts of the work being performed by others
instructed by him, as detailed in our ceremonial. Our legends as to the number
of the people engaged in the construction of this building correspond with that
given in the Scriptures namely: 70,000 to be bearers of burdens, 80,000 to be
hewers in the mountains, and 3600 to be overseers. Now is it not reasonable to
suppose that in so vast a number of operatives some system was introduced to
prevent confusion and that the classes might be distinguished one from the
other, and tokens adopted by which members of each class might be known to each
I am, at least I used to
be, pretty familiar with the legends and traditions as well as the ritual and
ceremonies of all the degrees known as ancient Masonry and I cannot recall any
legend on which any one of the degrees is founded that could not have been an
If I were permitted I
could make this perfectly clear, but if any brother will do as I have done,
rehearse in his mind one by one our legends and then ask himself what is there
in this that is unnatural or unreal, or that could not have transpired, he will
find as I have done, that there is not a legend mentioned that could not have
actually occurred. He will find that many of the details are perhaps
exaggerated, introduced to round out and to make pointed the moral, which they
were intended to inculcate.
The Royal Arch degree is
founded upon incidents and events transpiring immediately preceding the building
of the second or Zerubbabel's Temple, 470 years after the destruction of
Solomon's Temple. If the Royal Arch Mason will recall the incidents occurring to
the Sojourners on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem and what occurred upon their
arrival there he will see that there is nothing in them that could not have
actually taken place.
Some of the other
degrees of the Chapter as well as the beautiful degrees known as Cryptic Masonry
are founded upon incidents occurring at the building of the first Temple. These
are confirmed by passages that we find recorded in the Scriptures many centuries
after the building of the Temple, as for instance: "The Stone which the
builders refused is become the Head Stone of the Corner" and "To him
that overcometh I will give to eat of the hidden manna and I will give him a
white stone and in the stone a name written which no man knoweth saving he that
receiveth it," and other degrees have confirmation in the fact of
"Masons Marks" being found on foundation stones in many different
parts of the world, facsimiles of many hundreds of which have been published in
the Quatuor Coronati transactions.
The Leland manuscript
thus refers to Pythagoras: "How comede ytt (Freemasonry) yn Englonde?
Peter Gower, a Grecian,
journeyed for kunnynge yn Egypte and in Syria, and yn everyche londe whereat the
Venetians hadde plauntedde Maconryne, and wynnynge entraunce yn al Lodges of
Maconnes, he lerned muche, and retournendde and worked yn Grecia Magna wachsynge
and becommynge a myghtye wysacre and gratelyche renounde, and here he framed a
grate Lodge at Groton and maked many Maconnes, some whereoffedyd journeye yn
Fraunce, and maked manye Maconnes wherefromme, yn process of tyme, the arte
passed yn Engelonde."
Brother Mackey says that
"Locke, the celebrated Antiquary, was puzzled with those strange names,
Peter Gower, Groton, and the Venetians, but a little thinking taught him that
the were only corruptions of Pythagoras, Crotona and the Phoenicians."
Pythagoras, an eminent
geometrician, was born 586 B. C., at Samos. "He traveled through Egypt,
Chaldea and Asia Minor and is said to have submitted to the initiations in those
countries for the purpose of acquiring knowledge. On his return to Europe he
established his celebrated school at Crotona, much resembling that subsequently
adopted by the Freemasons. His scholars numbered 300 and were divided into
Exoterics and Esoterics. The Exoteric scholars were those who attended public
assemblies where general ethical instructions were delivered by the sage, but
only the esoterics constituted the true school and these alone, Pythagoras
called his companions and friends. Before admission to the privileges of this
school, the previous life and character of the candidate were rigidly
scrutinized, and in the preparatory initiation secrecy was enjoined by an oath
and he was made to submit to the severest trials of his fortitude and
"There were three
degrees: the First, or Mathematici, being engaged in the study of the exact
sciences and the second or
Theoretici, in the knowledge of God and the future state of man. The third or
highest degree, was communicated only to the few, whose intellects were capable
of grasping the full fruition of the Pythagorean philosophy." This school
after existing for 30 years was finally dissolved by the machinations of Kylo, a
wealthy inhabitant of Crotona, who, having been refused admission, in revenge
excited the citizens against it, when a lawless mob attacked the scholars, set
fire to the building and dispersed the disciples, forty of them being burned to
death. The school was never resumed; but after the death of the philosopher
summaries of his doctrines were made by some of his disciples; still many of his
symbols and his esoteric teachings have to this day remained uninterpreted and
Pythagoras is regarded
as having been the inventor of several problems, the most important of which is
that now known as the 47th problem of Euclid; and it is not singular that the
old Masons should have called Pythagoras their "ancient friend and
brother," and should have dedicated to him one of their geometrical
symbols, the 47th problem of Euclid; an epithet and a custom that have, by the
force of habit, been retained in all the modern rituals.
There was at Rome during
the life time of Pythagoras as well as of Euclid, what was known as the Roman
Colleges of Artificers, founded by Numa
Pompilius, the second king of Rome, in B.C. 700, the form and regulations
of which bear a most striking analogy to that of our Fraternity of today.
regulation, which was an indispensable one, was that no College could consist of
less than three members." The Mason will readily see "the identity of
this regulation of the Colleges and that of Freemasonry, which with equal rigor
requires three Masons to constitute a Lodge."
These Colleges had
officers corresponding to those of our Masonic Lodges. Each College was presided
over by a chief, called a Magister, which is exactly translated by the English
word Master. "The next officers were the Decuriones. They were analogous to
the Masonic Wardens, for each Decurio presided over a section or division of the
College, just as in the most ancient English and in the present Continental
Ritual we find the Lodge divided into two sections or columns over each of which
one of the Wardens presides."
There were also officers
corresponding to the secretary, treasurer and chaplain of our Masonic Lodges.
Another analogy is found
in the distribution of classes. As the Masons have their Master Masons, Fellow
Crafts and their Apprentices, so these Colleges had their Seniores or chief men
of the trade and their journeymen and apprentices.
held secret meetings, in which the business transacted consisted of the
initiation of the neophytes into their Fraternity; and of mystical and esoteric
instructions to their apprentices and journeymen. They were, in this respect,
secret societies like the Masonic Lodges."
There were many other
striking analogies between these Roman Colleges and our Fraternity which time
will, not permit me to enlarge upon.
They were invested by
the government with extraordinary powers in reference to the control of
These Colleges of
Builders accompanied the Roman legions in their conquests of other nations and
it was thus in the early part of the Christian era, that they invaded and
subjugated Britain. They established Roman civilization on the fields of Roman
conquest. They ceased to build Pagan Temples. They began to rear Christian
churches. They immediately set about the construction of bridges and the
founding of towns and cities, the most notable of which was the ancient city of
York and it was thus that Freemasonry was introduced into the British Isles.
earliest mention of Masonry
in England in these old manuscripts
was in the time of St. Alban in
the third century, the legend of which is as follows:
came out of France into England and he brought St. Albane into Christendone and
made him a Christian man and he brought with him the charges of Masons as they
were in France and other Lands, and in that time the King of the Land was a
Panem dwelled there as St. Albans is now and he had many Masons working on the
Towne walls, and at that time St. Allane was the Kings Steward pay master and
Governor of the Kings worke and loved well Masons and cherished them well and
made them good pay for a Mason took but a penny a day and meat and drink, and
St. Albone got of the King that every Mason should have XXXd a week and iiid for
their non finding and he got them charges and manners as St. Amphabell had
taught him, and they do but a little differ from the charges that be used now at
this time and soe these charges and manners were used many years, and afterwards
they were almost near hand lost bargarie ware until the time of King Ethelstone
which said King Ethelstone and the same Edwine loved well Geometry and applied
himselfe busily in learning that science and also he desired to have the
practice thereof wherefore he called unto him of the best Masons that were in
the Realme for he knew well that they had the practice of Geometry best of any
craft in the Realme and he learned of them Masonry and cherished and loved them
well and he took upon him the charges and learned the manners, and afterwards
for the love that he had unto the craft, and for the good grounding that it was
found in he purchased a free charter of the King his father that they should
have such freedom to have correction within themselves and that they might have
communication together to correct such things as were amiss within themselves,
and they made a great Congregation of Masons to assemble together at Yorke (926)
where he was himselfe, and let call the old Masons of the Realme to that
congregation, and commanded them to bring to him all the writings of the old
books of the craft that they had, out of which books they contrived the charges
by the divise of the wisest Masons that there were, and commanded that these
charges might be kept and holden and he ordained that such congregation might be
called assembly, and he ordained for them good pay that they might live honestly
the which charges I will hereafter declare, and this was the craft of Masonry
there grounded and considered, In England right worshipful masters and fellows
that been of divers Semblies and congregations with the consent of the Lords of
this Realme hath ordained and made charges by their best advise that all manner
of men that shall be made and allowed Masons, must be sworne upon a booke to
keep the same in all that they may to the uttermost of their power, and also,
they have ordained that when any fellow shall be received and allowed that these
charges might be read unto him, and he to take his charges, and these charges
have been seen and perused by our late Soveraigne Lord King Henry the sixth and
the Lords of the Honorable Councell, and they have allowed them well and said
they were right good and reasonable to be holden and these charges have been
drawne and gathered out of divers ancient books both of the old Law and new Law
as they were confirmed and made in Egypt by the King and by the great clerk
Euclid and at the making of Solomons Temple "by King David and by Salom his
son and in France by Charles King of France and in England by St. Albon that was
the steward to the King that was at that time, and afterward by King Ethelstone
that was king of England, and by his son Edwin that was King after his father as
it is rehearsed in many and divers histories and stories and Chapters and
ensueth as the charges following particularly and severally."
The account of the
convocation and assembly at York in 926 was regarded as authentic history by
Anderson, Preston and Oliver and by almost all succeeding writers in England as
well as in other countries until about fifty years ago, but in these latter days
the iconoclasts have rejected them all as myths, because, forsooth, no mention
is made of such an assembly in any contemporary publications.
Should not these persons
remember the story of Pliny and the buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum?
I believe as firmly,
that about the time mentioned, 926, such a general assembly of Masons was held
at York, as I do that there was an assembly of Masons held at the "Goose
and Gridiron" in London in1717, that organized the Grand Lodge of England.
The motive for both was the same, namely the revival of Masonry and the
collection of the old regulations of the Fraternity.
Can anyone conceive of a
motive that could have induced these old writers to have invented such a story?
The history in all these
early manuscripts ends with an account of the general assembly held at York in
926, with the charges, numbering 23, upon which the ancient charges adopted by
the Grand Lodge in 1717 are formulated. That the history ends with this
assemblage held at York would lead to the supposition that the original
manuscript was compiled about that time and it is possible therefore, that the
compiler may have seen the original record of the proceedings of the assembly.
The history is continued by Anderson and brought down to the year 1738 in which
he published his second Book of Constitutions, and this presumably is compiled
from authentic records and writings.
As stated all the
important personages mentioned by Anderson in his history are styled Grand
Masters, which is an interpolation of the old MSS. Undoubtedly, the personages
mentioned were chiefs, leaders and instructors of the people among whom they
dwelt and therefore, the term Grand Masters, as applied to them by Anderson is
not after all so absurd as one might think at first blush.
In the opening of this
paper it was stated that in 1723, a very learned and distinguished brother, Rev.
James Anderson, published his Book of Constitutions containing what purported to
be a full and complete history of the Fraternity from the earliest times, much
of which is regarded as too fabulous to be considered as veritable history. It
will be observed by the brethren who have done me the honor to follow me in my
meditations that my object has been to show that perhaps, there might be some
germs of truth, or foundation in fact, for at least some of his statements, and
for that purpose I have analysed and quoted from the facsimiles of the original
manuscripts and the writings from which evidently the learned brother compiled
much of his history, and have given my deductions and conclusions.
It will be noticed that
I expressed my belief in the Solomonic origin of Freemasonry and then gave the
reason for the faith that is within me. I also dwelt at some length upon the
reference made in these old writings to the connection of the distinguished
philosophers, Pythagoras and Euclid, with our Fraternity, regarding whom I will
add a few reflections.
The second or what is
known as Zerubbabel's Temple was begun B. C. 735, at which time Pythagoras was
about thirty five years old, and he, as the encyclopedias inform us, was a great
traveler as well as a great seeker after knowledge. Now is it a very great
stretch of credulity to believe that Pythagoras may have visited Jerusalem
during the construction of that Temple and acquired the esoterics known to the
builders at that time as he did those of Egypt and other countries? This will
give reasonable ground for the ancient writers of the manuscripts to connect his
name with our Fraternity.
It must be borne in mind
that these ancient writers had access to MSS. and writings which are not
accessible to us. During the fifteenth century it is said the accumulation of
old writings and MSS. was so great that they were used by the bakers in heating
their ovens, the possession of which would make clear to us much that is now
It is quite certain that
the Egyptians were familiar with some of our legends. I have seen an old
engraving taken from the Egyptian hieroglyphics upon which is delineated three
figures. The first represents a man standing on a platform of three steps, on
his head is an antique covering, before him lies the body of a man, beside whom
is a lion crouching on his haunches, in his left paw he holds a ball or sphere
surmounted by a cross, the emblem of supreme authority, his right paw being
extended towards the prostrate man.
We referred to the
Colleges of Builders established at Rome, B. C. 715, and it is reasonable to
suppose that Pythagoras as well as Euclid, who was also a great seeker after
knowledge, was perfectly familiar with the organization, rules and regulations,
as well as the esoterics practiced by that organization. Men of their calibre
would leave no stone unturned to acquaint themselves with the progress and
inventions of the age in which they lived.
Reference is then made
to the great similarity between the Roman Colleges of Artificers and our
Fraternity and here I think, we have reached safe ground upon which all may
Krause, whom Mackey
terms one of the most learned and laborious Masons of Germany, in his great
history published in 1811, advances the doctrine "that the Fraternity as it
now exists is indebted for all its characteristics religious and social,
political and professional, its interior organization, its modes of thought and
action, and its very design and object, to the Roman Colleges of Artificers,
passing with but little characteristic changes through the `Architectural Gilds'
of the Middle Ages up to the English organization of the year 1717;" so
that he claims an almost absolute identity between the Roman Colleges of Numa,
seven hundred years before Christ, and the Lodges of the nineteenth century. We
need not, according to his view, go any further back in history nor look to any
other series of events, nor trouble ourselves with any other influences for the
origin and character of Freemasonry.
This view would make our
Fraternity 2500 years old; but not to go back any farther than the time of St.
Alban or even to Athelstan, our Fraternity would be a thousand years old, which
would make it the oldest existing of human institutions. and therefore, worthy
of our utmost respect and veneration.
It is greatly to be
regretted that there are in this busy, moneymaking age, so few students of
Masonry; there surely ought to be among the 15,000 Masons of Maryland some who
have the time as well as the means to become students. I can assure them that
they will find the subject an inexhaustible one and that its history, its
jurisprudence, its laws, regulations, usages and customs are worthy the studious
attention of anyone. Although debarred by reason of age and infirmity from being
present with my brethren and personally participating in this interesting
celebration of the 129th anniversary of our Grand Lodge, I shall be gratified if
I have in any way contributed to the interest of this occasion. And if I have
succeeded in inducing anyone to give more time and consideration to our ancient
and time honored Fraternity, it will be to me one of the proudest memories of my
life-long devotion to the interests of the craft.