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Article # 238
Webb's Freemasons Monitor- Chapters 1 to 4.

Author: Bro.Thomas Smith Webb    Posted on: Monday, April 23, 2007
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[It was Bro.Thomas Smith Webb, who standardized the Masonic Rituals and the First Edition of his Book Freemason's Monitor or Illustrations of Masonry was published in 1797. The book was released at a time, when the variations in the rituals were enormous. The book was therefore of great guidance to the Grand Lodges in America and most of them adhere to his text, which is, of course, of the written or exoteric work. The Installation of the Master of the Lodge in most Lodges was rendered as per the ritual in his Monitor.  The book had rearranged the ritual to suit the conditions in America and had paved the way for easy memorizing and word  perfect delivery of the rituals. In compliance with many requests from brethren, we are posting Webb's Freemason's Monitor to be followed by some other Monitors. We are posting the first four chapters in this Article to be followed by other Chapters in subsequent articles. Please read on . . . . ]

Webb's  Freemason's Monitor

Including the First Three Degrees,

With the
Funeral Service and Other Public Ceremonies,

    Together with many Useful Forms,

The  Whole Squaring with

The National Work of the Baltimore Convention,

As Taught By the Late Bro.John Barney, Grand Lecturer.

 Compiled by Bro.James Fenton (P.M), Grand Secretary,


Publisher- C. Moore.
At The Masonic Review Office

Table Of Contents.

Preface, Introdution.

Chapter- 1. Origin of Masonry and its General Advantages.                              Chapter-2. The Government of the Fraternity Explained.         

Chapter-3. The Importance of the Secrets of Masonry Demonstrated.       

Chapter-4. General Remarks.            

Chapter-5. The Ceremony of Opening and Closing a Lodge.       

Chapter-6. Charges and Regulations for the Conduct and Behaviour of Masons. 

Chapter-7. Prerequisities for a Candidate.       

Chapter-8. Remarks on the First Lecture.         

Chapter-9. Remarks on the Second Degree.          

Chapter-10.Remarks on the Third Degree.        

Chapter-11.Funerals. Ceremony of Constitution and Consecration.             

Chapter-12.Ceremony of Installation. 

Chapter-13.Ceremony of laying the Foundation Stones of Public Structures.          

Chapter-14.Forms most commonly required. Public Grand Honors.       

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by  James Fenton,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Michigan.

To the Memory of

Brother John  Barney,

That Good Man and True Mason
To Whose Instructive Tongue Freemasonry in the West is

so much indebted for the transmission, unimpaired of the
National Work of the Baltimore Convention,

This Little Work is Respectfully Dedicated.

By His Early Pupil.

The Compiler.


The only introduction the Compiler will give this little volume, may be found in the following indorsements by distinguished Craftsmen:

"Having examined the Freemason's Monitor, compiled by Bro. James Fenton, G. S. of the G. L. of Michigan, I take pleasure in recommending it to the Fraternity. The arrangement of the first three degrees, corresponding with the National Work and Lectures, as established in this jurisdiction, makes it an invaluable auxiliary in a working Lodge.

                                                                                     W.M. M. Fenton,
                                                                    P. G. M. of the G. L. of Michigan.

                                                                                Flint, Mice, July, 1865.

It is arranged, seriatim, with our work and lectures in the first three degrees, as we work and lecture in Michigan, and as we understand our Baltimore or National Work and Lectures.


Mt. Clemens, Mich., July, 1865.

"I have presided over a Lodge in Baltimore for a number of years, and am perfectly familiar with the National Work, as adopted by the Baltimore Convention. I have examined the proof-sheets of the Monitor, by Bro. FENTON, and believe it conforms to that work in every essential particular.

                                                                                       Robert Gwynn. P.M.,
                                                                                  Of Arcana Lodge, No. 110.

                                                                                       Cincinnati, July, 1865.


Chapter - 1.

  Origin of Masonry and its General Advantages.

 From the commencement of the world, we may trace the foundation of Masonry.

 [Masonry and Geometry are sometimes used as synonymous terms]

Ever since symmetry began and harmony displayed her charms, our Order has had a being. During many ages and in many different countries, it has flourished. In the dark periods of antiquity, when literature was in a low state and the rude manners of our forefathers withheld from them, that knowledge we now so amply share, Masonry diffused its influence. This science unveiled, arts arose, civilization took place and the progress of knowledge and philosophy gradually dispelled the gloom of ignorance and barbarism. Government being settled, authority was given to laws and the assemblies of the Fraternity acquired the patronage of the great and the good, while the tenets of the profession were attended with unbounded utility.                                


Masonry is a science confined to no particular country, but diffused over the whole terrestrial globe. Wherever arts flourish, there it flourishes too. Add to this, that, by secret and inviolable signs, carefully preserved among the Fraternity throughout the world, Masonry becomes an universal language. Hence, many advantages are gained. The distant Chinese, the wild Arab, and the American savage will embrace a brother Briton, Frank, or German and will know, that, besides the common ties of humanity, there is still a stronger obligation to induce him to kind and friendly offices. The spirit of the fulminating priest will be tamed and a moral brother, though of a different persuasion, engage his esteem. Thus, through the influence of Masonry, which is reconcilable to the best policy, all those disputes, which embitter life and sour the tempers of men, are avoided, while the common good, the general design of the Craft, is zealously pursued.

From this view of the system, its utility must be sufficiently obvious. The universal principles of the art unite men of the most opposite tenets, of the most distant countries and of the most contradictory opinions in one indissoluble bond of affection, so that in every nation a Mason finds a friend and in every climate a home.                              

Chapter --2.

The Government of the Fraternity Explained.

The mode of government observed by the Fraternity will best explain the importance and give the truest idea of the nature and design of the Masonic system.

There are several classes of Masons, under different appellations. The privileges of these classes are distinct and particular means are adopted to preserve those privileges to the just and meritorious of each class.

Honor and probity are recommendations to the first, class, in which the practice of virtue is enforced  and the duties of morality inculcated, while the mind is prepared for regular and social converse in the principles of knowledge and philosophy.

Diligence, assiduity, and application are qualifications for the second class, in which an accurate elucidation of science, both in theory and practice, is given. Here human reason is cultivated by a due exertion of the rational and intellectual powers and faculties, nice and difficult theories are explained, new discoveries produced and those already known beautifully embellished.

The third class is composed of those whom truth and fidelity have distinguished who, when assaulted by threats and violence, after solicitation and persuasion have failed, have evinced their firmness and integrity in preserving inviolate the mysteries of the Order.   

The fourth class consists of those who have perseveringly studied the scientific branches of the art and exhibited proofs of their skill and acquirements and who have, consequently, obtained the honor of this degree as a reward of merit.

The fifth class consists of those who, having acquired a proficiency of knowledge to become teachers, have been elected to preside over regularly constituted bodies of Masons.

The sixth class consists of those who, having discharged the duties of the Chair with honor and reputation, are acknowledged and recorded as Excellent Masters.

The seventh class consists of a select few, whom years and experience have improved, and whom merit and abilities have entitled to preferment. With this class the ancient landmarks of the Order are preserved; and from them we learn and practice the necessary and instructive lessons, which at once dignify the art  and qualify its professors to illustrate its excellence and utility.

This is the established mode of the Masonic government when the rules of the system are observed. By this judicious arrangement, true friendship is cultivated among different ranks and degrees of men, hospitality promoted, industry rewarded and ingenuity encouraged.                                                                                                              

Chapter - 3.

The Importance of the Secrets of Masonry Demonstrated.

If the secrets of Masonry are replete with such advantages to mankind, it may be asked, why are they not divulged for the general good of society? To which it may be answered, were the privileges of Masonry to be indiscriminately bestowed, the design of the institution would be subverted and, being familiar, like many other important matters, would soon lose their value and sink into disregard.

It is a weakness in human nature, that men are generally more charmed with novelty than the real worth or intrinsic value of things. Novelty influences all our actions and determinations. What is new, or difficult in the acquisition, however trifling or insignificant, readily captivates the imagination and insures a temporary admiration; while what is familiar, or easily obtained, however noble and eminent for its utility, is sure to be disregarded by the giddy and unthinking.

Did the particular secrets or peculiar forms prevalent among Masons constitute the essence of the art, it might be alleged that our amusements were trifling and our ceremonies superficial. But this is not the case. Having their use, they are preserved and, from the recollection of the lessons, they inculcate, the well informed Mason derives instruction. Drawing them to a near inspection, he views them through a proper medium; adverts to the circumstances which gave them rise, dwells upon the tenets they convey  and, finding them replete with useful information, adopts them as keys to the privileges of his art and prizes them as sacred. Thus convinced of their propriety, he estimates the value from their utility.

Many persons are deluded by their vague supposition, that our mysteries are merely nominal, that the practices established among us are frivolous and that our ceremonies might be adopted or waived at pleasure. On this false foundation, we have found them hurrying through all the degrees, without adverting to the propriety of one step they pursue, or possessing a single qualification requisite for advancement. Passing through the usual formalities, they have accepted offices, and assumed the government of Lodges, equally unacquainted with the rules of the institution they pretended to support, or the nature of the trust reposed in them. The consequence is obvious; wherever such practices have been allowed, anarchy and confusion have ensued, and the substance has been lost in the shadow.

Were the brethren, who preside over Lodges properly instructed previous to their appointment, and regularly apprised of the importance of their respective offices, a general reformation would speedily take place. This would evince the propriety of our mode of government and lead men to acknowledge that our honors were deservedly conferred. The ancient consequence of the Order would be restored, and the  reputation of the Society preserved. Such conduct alone can support our character.

Unless prudent actions shall distinguish our title to the honors of Masonry, and regular deportment display the influence and utility of our rules, the world in general will not easily be led to reconcile our proceedings with the tenets of our profession.       

Chapter – 4.

General Remarks.

Masonry is an art equally useful and extensive. In every art there is a mystery, which requires a gradual progression of knowledge to arrive at any degree of perfection in it. Without much instruction and more exercise, no man can be skillful in any art. In like manner, without an assiduous application to the various subjects treated of in the different lectures of Masonry, no person can be sufficiently acquainted with its true value.

It must not, however, be inferred from this remark, that persons who labor under the disadvantages of a confined education, or whose sphere of life requires a more intense application to business or study, are to be discouraged in their endeavors to gain a knowledge of Masonry.                                                                                             

To qualify an individual to enjoy the benefits of the Society at large, or to partake of its privileges, it is not absolutely necessary, that he should be acquainted with all the intricate parts of the science. These are only intended for the diligent and assiduous Mason, who may have leisure and opportunity to indulge such pursuits.

Though some are more able than others, some more eminent, some more useful, yet all, in their different spheres, may prove advantageous to the community. As the nature of every man's profession will not admit of that leisure, which is necessary to qualify him to become an expert Mason, it is highly proper that the official duties of a Lodge should be executed by persons, whose education and situation in life enable them to become adepts, as it must be allowed that all who accept offices and exercise authority should be properly qualified to discharge the task assigned them, with honor to themselves and credit to their sundry stations.                                                                                         















Freemasonry in America owes a deep debt of gratitude to Bro. Thomas Smith Webb, for his standardizing the ritual of the "American Rite" (often referred to as the "York Rite"). His ritual is being used almost in all jurisdictions. Thomas Smith Webb was born in Boston, of English parents, emigrated to Massachusetts. He had his schooling in Boston and was very proficient in French and Latin as well as English. He was a rare combination of a poet, a dreamer, a visionary and a practical man of action, having much of the mental equipment and character development, which has been the foundation of inspired leadership. He was a printer and bookbinder. He went to Keene, New Hampshire, for the purpose of his business. He was initiated on 17 th December 1790. in Rising Sun Lodge, Keene. After his marriage with Martha Hopkins, he shifted to Albany, New York, where he ran a book store. He was a keen Freemason and he established a Chapter of Royal Arch Masonry and an Encampment of Knights Templar. He devoted much time and thought to Symbolic Masonry and published the first edition of his "Freemason's Monitor, or Illustrations of Masonry." in 1797. He did not mention his name as the author , but described himself as a Royal Arch Mason, etc., But it was marked "Printed at Albany for Spencer and Webb, Market-street, 1797. The subsequent edition of 1802, printed in New York City, bears his name as by Thomas S. Webb, Past Master of Temple Lodge, Albany, and H. P. of the Providence Royal Arch Chapter. He later shifted to Providence and joined St.John’s Lodge. Later he was elected Junior Grand Warden in 1802, Senior Grand Warden in 1803, Deputy Grand Master in 1811 and Grand Master in 1813 and 1814 of the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island. He was also the pioneer in American ritual, in the spread of Capitular and Commandery Masonry. His influence was largely felt in the establishment of Chapters of the Royal Arch (instead of conferring the Capitular degrees in Symbolic Lodges) and the General Grand Chapter of the United States. He was successively Grand Scribe, General Grand King and finally Deputy General Grand High Priest. He traveled much in the Middle West, establishing Chapters and Encampments but never forgetting his love for Symbolic Freemasonry. He had also taught the rituals and inspired the fellow masons to the proper adherence to the same. Subsequently it was Bro.John Barney, the Grand Lecturer, who extensively traveled and taught and popularized Webb’s Monitor in America. In general it may be said that few if any brethren have had a greater influence upon the Craft in U.S.A. His labors have stood the acid test of time, a fact attested to by the well nigh universal use of exoteric work first to be brought to American Freemasonic eyes through the justly famous Webb Monitor. On his retiring from the office, his Grand Lodge, by a unanimous vote, expressed its grateful acknowledgment "for the great and signal services he had rendered to Freemasonry in general, and particularly in this State." Webb died suddenly, at Cleveland, Ohio, in July, 1819. Acting with other Masonic organizations in Rhode Island, the Grand Lodge brought his body back to Providence, and gave to it an honored Masonic burial at an Emergent Communication held Nov. 8, 1819. The remains of this brilliant Freemason are interred in the North Burial Ground, Providence, where an unpretentious memorial erected by the Grand Lodge bears witness to the fame and usefulness of this indefatigable laborer in the quarries.

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