HAD any one written a story of modern civilization last spring, it would have read like a romance. What a picture it would have painted of the triumphs of art and industry, of disease yielding to the skill of science, of the intellectual linking of nations, of the rapid march of ideas, of the annihilation of time and distance by the ingenuities of invention. The bright cities of the earth, with their palaces of art and prayer, lay bathed in sunlight. Air-craft explored the sky, and wireless messages flew every whither, telling of the glory of man.
And then – a high-school boy in remote Bosnia fired a pistol, and a pall of ancient barbaric night fell over the earth, darkening the heavens. Merciful God! the tragedy of it – beyond comparison the greatest war in all the long annals of time in the new century! In an instant, all trace of civilization seemed to vanish, and nation was leaping at the throat of nation, filling the world with measureless misery and woe. Commerce languishes, art is paralyzed, religion is mocked, and civilization seems tumbling to a fall. Four days of the cost of this conflict would dig the Panama Canal and pay for it. One month of it would equip every hospital on earth to fight the great White Plague. Of the loss of life, the most precious of all wealth, who can think without a sob, remembering the cold law of biology by which, if the fittest fall, only the weak remain to father the men of times to be.
What man may ever hope to find words wherewith to tell the shame, the crime, the pity of it all. Prating of Evolution, we were swept along on the crest of an easy optimism, not realizing that we were carrying with us the lower forms of life, "moods of tiger and of ape, red with tooth and claw." Well may we refresh our memories by reading that passage in the "Republic" of Plato, in which a Pagan philosopher laid down the rules of civilized warfare, as follows – non-combatants to be spared, no houses to be burned, no farms to be devastated, the dead to be honorably buried, no trophies of war to be placed in the temples of the gods. What a rebuke to Christian civilization in a day when shrines of art and learning and piety are ruthlessly destroyed, and men act like fiends incarnate! Indeed, a page from the story of this war reads like an excerpt from the chronicles of Hell, as witness these words from a war-lord to his men:
"Cause the greatest possible amount of suffering, leave the non-combatants nothing but their eyes to weep with. The law of Christian charity has no bearing on the relation of one nation to another."
With the immediate causes of this world-shaking war we have not here to do, except to say that no matter what generalization we make about it, there will be found as many facts on one side as on the other. History will debate them for ages to come. Any investigation into the question of who fired the first gun promptly goes back into the question of who made the gun, and why? Who diverted the beautiful, constructive energy of humanity into such wanton waste and unreason? After reading the many-colored books put forth by the nations, each in its own defense, we may admit that all are right in their reasonings, if we accept their basic fallacy that a nation is a thing apart from humanity to be hedged about with walls of iron.
They are nearer the truth who look for the roots of this tragedy in the ideas taught by unphilosophical philosophers within the last decade or two. Ideas rule the race. They run like rumors, they hide in the crooked lines of a printed page, but in the end they force us into the arena to fight for them. Materialism in philosophy led, naturally and inevitably, to a worship of brute Force, bringing scientific efficiency to the service of all the horrible gods of sport and speed and splendor. Offering incense to the diabolical trinity of Mammon, Mars, and the Minotaur, we have become so vain of our material advance and scientific technique that we have forgotten that human wellbeing lies in the pursuit of justice and brotherly love. With Nietzsche preaching atheism in the alluring style of a poet, while Treitschke and Bernhardi expounded a rationale, if not a religion, of war, 'tis no wonder that we have been brought to where we are, to a cataclysm unbelievable, except that it exists.
This is not to cry down modern inventiveness and its astonishing achievements. Far from it. Not one of us but feels the thrill of this amazing effort, albeit often futile and misdirected, to realize life. There can be no question that this is a wonderful age, romantic in its advance. Equally, there can be no question that things still more wonderful are to follow. But what is it all worth – this "will to power," this conquest of Nature – if it lead to a wide weltering chaos of world-war? To be sure, we travel more rapidly and get news more quickly, but, God of dreams, what news of savagery and slaughter! No; our ideals are wrong, and with all the suffering and ruin already wrought, maybe it will get into our brains, and at last into our hearts, that our real progress does in fact depend on the genuine love of God and our fellow man. Only in tragedy, it seems, will man learn the highest truth.
Still, if we would find the real causes of this dreadful war we must go far back and deep down into the nature of man. Human history is saturated with blood and blistered with tears. It has been estimated that in the annals of mankind, there have been only thirteen years when there was no war on earth.
"Men are only boys grown tall,
So reads the record of the ages, and we cannot hope to reverse that order of things in a day. Envy, ignorance, jealousy, greed, hate, revenge, vanity, racial rancor, love of strife, these make war against peace. Nevertheless, we must refuse to accept war as the permanent condition of human society. Slavery was once well-nigh as universal as war, if not as old, but it has been banished from the earth. We cannot look forward very far, but, despite the horror of today – perhaps, indeed, because of it – there is reason to hope for a time when war, and the menace of war, shall be removed from the terrors of human life.
What the issue of this gigantic conflict will be, no mortal can tell. One hundred years ago Europe was swept bare by wars of might against right, yet out of that long-drawn tragedy came a great advance of civilization. So it may be, must be, will be now. Make no mistake; the right will triumph, and as one nation after another is released from the burden of militarism, the arts of peace will prevail, the democratic spirit will be extended, and civilization will, in the end, be promoted. History, always the sure cure for pessimism, holds out this hope even to those, if such there be, who see above its tangled and turbulent scene no vaster, wiser Power correcting the blunders of man, and "from seeming evil still educing good in infinite progression."
Amidst all doubts, one thing is certain: kings may pass, dynasties may vanish, but the peoples of Europe will remain substantially as they are within their historic boundaries. But these battered and impoverished peoples will be preserved for no other purpose than new wars and new disasters if they do not fit themselves with a nobler, truer way of thinking. More important than all else is the question, not as to the map of Europe, but as to what the map of the human mind is going to be after the war. How well men have learned war, reducing it to a fine art of destruction, is shown by those great guns that speak with throats of thunder, and those "airy navies grappling in the central blue," as Tennyson predicted. Now they must learn peace, which means that they must begin with the young, and keep always at it, until mankind masters the sweeter, truer, and diviner language of fraternity.
In point of fact, we have been trying to do an impossible thing – trying to found a humane order upon a basis of brute force. It cannot be done. Long ago Greece built its structure of art and life upon a basis of slavery, and it fell. Just so, our civilization will fail and fall if it is built upon a foundation of Force. After all, it may be that this war was an inevitable result of a transition from the rule of Force to the rule of Numbers, and, ultimately, the rule of Reason and Love. One is tempted to hope that, since it had to come, it will not stop until all despotisms are swept away, and with them all upholding of the privilege of the few against the rights of the many; until men everywhere rise up and say they will not go to war unless they have a vote on war. John, Hans and mystic Ivan will strike or soon or late, and then will come the end of Kings and Kaisers – and if this war hastens that day it worth all it cost!
As the grand divisions of geological history have their beginnings in stupendous revolutions, so, too the great new epochs in the human world. Such a time is even now with us. Manifestly, we stand at the end of an era, and the men who come after us will wonder that, seeing, we saw not, and mistook the red dawn of a new day for a house on fire. As Napoleon would say, we are condemned to something great. Whatever betide, the old order has collapsed. The times are infinitely plastic. There is no reason for letting go of faith in God or human kind. Instead, those who have eyes will see in this tempest a storm that shall clear the air of pestilential vapors and hasten the advent of a nobler world-order, through the corrected sense of the nations – the final flaring up of a blaze from falling brands, to be covered forever with penitential ashes and quenched with bitter tears.
Meantime, what has Masonry to say, what can it do, in this hour of world-crisis when the race is struggling through blood and fire toward something new, shaking off shams, and coming face to face with the eternal necessities? Forming one great society over the whole globe, bringing men together without regard to race or religion, it is incredible that this Ancient Order should be inactive, much less indifferent, in a day of supreme demand. From the first Masonry has been international, knowing no Slavic race, no Teutonic race, but only the Human race, in proof of which hear these words from its Book of Constitutions – words that stand out like stars in the night of world-feud:
"In order to preserve peace and harmony no private piques or quarrels must be brought within the door of the Lodge, far less any quarrel about Religions or National or State-Policy, we being only, as Masons, of the religion in which all men agree; and we are also of all Nations, Tongues, Kindreds and Languages, and are resolved against all Politics as what never yet conduced to the welfare of the Lodge, nor ever will.
Such is the principle on which Masonry rests, and the spirit in which it has toiled through the ages, breaking down barriers of caste and creed, of race and rank, creating reverence, not only for the Divine, but also for the Human – for man as man, regardless of land or language, for the right of every man to be free of body and soul and have a place in the sun – and drawing men together in mutual respect into a profound and far-reaching fellowship. Never was its benign spirit more needed than today, living, as we are, in a world of fratricidal strife, when every energy of the race seems dedicated to destruction. Alas, that the truth of the Brotherhood of Man should be revealed only in tragedy and terror, but if the sword of Mars stabs the world wide awake to this fact, by the very magnitude of the horror of war, it will be worth the price in suffering. Truly, the time has come when Masonry must take up its harp and strike its world-chord with all its might – strike it magnificently and with prophetic stroke.
Human unity is no fanciful dream of a poet, no far off promise of a prophet; it is a fact. Geographical boundaries do not now and never have represented either race or national potencies. Morality, intelligence, efficiency, fraternity refuse racial or political labels. There is no German chemistry, no British astronomy, no Russian mathematics. What is most excellent in Russia – its Tolstoys, its Kropotkins, its musicians, its painters, and its hard-handed millions of toilers – is not Russian, but human. The same is true of Germany, France and England. Goethe and Schiller, Koch and Kant are fellow-countrymen of Shakespeare and Darwin, of Hugo and Pasteur. The Republic of Letters and of Science is universal; it is only our patriotism that has lagged behind and become "the virtue of narrow minds" – when, indeed, it is not actually what Johnson called it, "the last resort of knaves."
How, then, can we justify our love of our own land as over against those who hold that all patriotism is provincial, if not pernicious? Only in this way: Each nation, each race has a genius of its own, and by that fact a contribution to make and a service to render to the total of humanity. Judea was no larger than Iowa, and yet it gave to the race its loftiest and truest religion, and the strongest, whitest, sweetest soul the earth has known. Greece was a tiny land, girt about by violet seas, but it added immeasurable wealth of art, drama and philosophy to the world. So of Rome. And thus we might call the roll of races and nations, asking of each what it had or has to give of beauty and of truth to mankind. Even so, our country has a genius unique, particular, and peculiar, and by that token a service to render to the universal life of humanity. What is that service if it be not to show, not only that "government of the People, by the People, for the People shall not perish from the earth," but that it is the highest ideal of government, and that it makes for the greatest happiness of man, alike in private nobility and public welfare? Of that genius and service our flag is the emblem and prophecy, and loyalty to that emblem implies devotion to that service. Our field is the world, but our solicitude is our own country – that it may the better make its unique and priceless contribution to the universal good. Thus, with due reverence for other nations, by loyalty to our own flag we best serve our race.
Above all nations, greater than all races, more important than all royalties is Humanity, and no one nation can live to itself, much less be truly great, without regard for the usefulness and happiness of other nations. What we need is a transvaluation of patriotism from a tribal loyalty into a universal allegiance – a world-patriotism, growing out of the deepening sense of human solidarity, large of outlook, far-reaching and benign of spirit. As it is now, patriotism consists too much in loving our own land and hating every other – a feeling unworthy of a Republic where Teuton, Saxon, Slav, Gaul, Celt live amicably together, stand shoulder to shoulder in the industrial army, eat out of the same dinner pails, and, to a surprising degree, worship at the same altar.
Exactly; and that is the very genius of Freemasonry, its mission to mankind, and the spirit which it seeks to make prevail. By its very nature cosmopolitan, it thinks in terms of Humanity, rather than of race or creed or party, being as the old German Handbook defined it, the activity of closely united men who, employing symbolical forms borrowed from architecture work for the welfare of humanity, striving morally to ennoble themselves and others, and thereby to bring about "a universal league of mankind, which they aspire to exhibit, even now, on a small scale." As Goethe said, in his poem on "The Lodge,"
"The Mason's ways are
Every Lodge is an emblem and prophecy of the world, and there will be no abiding peace on earth until what Masonry exhibits on a small scale is made worldwide, and its spirit of goodwill among men of all ranks, races and religions becomes the reigning genius of humanity. Other way out of war there is none. If, instead of meeting behind closed doors for intrigue, the men who plotted this war had met in a Masonic Lodge, not one of them would have drawn a sword! Alas, Lilliputian militarists have kindled a fire which not even Gulliver can put out, spreading death and desolation every whither – fanning old feuds, marshalling hordes of hates, until the very existence of civilization is threatened.
What of the future? One thing is evident: if this tragedy drags its bloody way to the bitter end, as now seems likely, every tie by which man is bound to man the world over will be needed to hold the race together; and Masonry is one of those ties. To that end, Masonry itself must recapture its old accent and emphasis upon universal principles, and take part in recruiting and mobilizing a great army of men of goodwill, if so we may dehorn the nations now goring each other to death, and bring to this passion-clouded earth the light of reason. War is waste. It is unreason. It settles nothing. It is devolution, not evolution. It is not the survival of the fittest, but the sacrifice of the best. The canker of long peace, as Shakespeare called it, is the canker not of peace, but of materialism. No;
"The crest and crowning of all
What this sad world needs is a League of its "Large Eternal Fellows," tall enough of soul to look over barriers of race, walls of creed, and mountains of misunderstanding, and recognize their kinsmen in every land and language. These are the men who see that we are in more danger from the grasping greed and blind ambition of the few who rule than we ever were, ever will or ever can be from the great, toiling masses of our fellows in other lands. They see that the great generalship displayed in the war, and its good comradeship – the sagacity of its leaders, and the singing, jesting courage with which the youth of Europe is marching to the grave – are the very qualities which, if dedicated to the organization of the world upon a basis of peace, will swing the earth into a new orbit! Therefore,
"Come, clear the way, then,
clear the way:
Mason's ways are
Five Lectures Delivered Under the Auspices of the Grand Master of Massachusetts Masonic Temple, Boston
EXCEPT as he builds upon the old charges and so uses older materials, Preston speaks so completely from the eighteenth century that one needs but understand the thinking of eighteenth-century England to appreciate him fully. In the case of our next Masonic philosopher, there is another story. He was in the main current of the philosophical thought of his day. But that current, along with the current of Masonic thought, had been flowing without break from the seventeenth century. Hence to appraise his philosophy of Masonry it is not enough to consider the man and the time. We must begin farther back.
The beginning of the seventeenth century was a period of great mental activity. The awakening of the Reformation had brought in an era of fresh and vigorous religious thought. Political ideas foreshadowing those of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were taking form. The downfall of scholasticism had set philosophy free from Aristotle. Grotius was about to emancipate Jurisprudence from Theology. Conring was about to deliver Law from Justinian. In consequence a new theory of law and government arose. Men went back to the classical Roman jurists and their law of nature founded on reason – applicable to men, not as citizens, nor as members of civilized society, but simply and solely as men – and the philosophical school which resulted and maintained itself during the two succeeding centuries, produced the great succession of publicists, who built up the system of international law, launched the ever-growing movement for humanity in war and ultimate peace, and stimulated that interest in legal and political philosophy, of which the democratic ideas of our own time, and the humanizing and rationalizing of law in the nineteenth century, were to be the fruit. The renascence of Masonry, complete in the next century, had its roots in this period. "There was always," says Sir Henry Maine, "a close association between Natural Law and humanity." In such a time, with the very air full of ideas of human brotherhood and of the rational claims of humanity, the notion of an organization of all men, for the general welfare of mankind, was to be looked for. It may be seen, indeed, in the opening years of the century; and we need not doubt that the writings of Andreae and the well-known Rosicrucian controversy were a symptom rather than a cause. But the idea was slow in attaining its maturity. In the seventeenth century, it struggled beneath a load of alchemy and mysticism, bequeathed to it by an obsolete era of ignorance and superstition. In the eighteenth century, it was retarded by the absorbing interest in political philosophy. Hence it was not till the first decade of the nineteenth century that the possibilities of this phase of the new thought were perceived entirely. Then, for the first time, the idea of general organization of mankind was treated in scientific method, referred to a definite end, and made part of a philosophical system of human activities. Perhaps no better theme could be chosen as an introduction to Masonic philosophy, than the life and work of that learned and eminent man and Mason, in his time at once the first of Masonic philosophers and the foremost of philosophers of law, who rendered this service to humanity and to the Craft.
Karl Christian Friedrich Krause, one of the founders of a new Masonic literature, and the founder of a school of legal thought, was born at Eisenberg, not far from Leipzig, in 1781. He was educated at Jena, where he taught for some time, till, in 1805, he removed to Dresden. In this same year, he became a Mason; and at once, with characteristic energy and enthusiasm, he entered upon a critical and philosophical study of the institution, reading every Masonic work accessible. As a result of his studies, he delivered twelve lectures before his lodge in Diesden, which were published in 1809, under the title: "Höhere Vergeistung der echtüberlieferten Grundsymbole der Freimaurerei," [Lib 1820 German] or "Higher Spiritualization of the True Symbols of Masonry." A year later, he published the first volume of his great work, "Die drei ältesten Kunsturkunden der Freimaurerbruderschaft," [Lib 1810 German] or "The Three Oldest Professional Records of the Masonic Fraternity." This book, in the words of Dr. Mackey, "one of the most learned that ever issued from the Masonic press," unhappily fell upon evil days. The limits of permissible public discussion of Masonic symbols were then uncertain, and the liberty of the individual Mason to interpret them for himself, since expounded so eloquently by Albert Pike, was not wholly conceded by the German Masons of that day. In consequence he met the fate which has befallen so many of the great scholars of the Craft. His name, even more than those of Preston and Dalcho and Crucefix and Oliver, warns us that honest ignorance, zealous bigotry, and well-meaning intolerance are to be found even among sincere and fraternal seekers for the light. The very rumor of Krause's book produced great agitation. Extraordinary efforts were made to prevent its publication, and, when these failed, the mistaken zeal of his contemporaries was exerted toward expelling him from the order. Not only was he excommunicated by his lodge, but the persecution to which his Masonic publications gave rise clung to him all his life, and prevented him from receiving public recognition of the position he occupied among the thinkers of his day. It has been said, indeed, that he was too far in advance of the time to be understood fully beyond a small circle of friends and disciples. Yet there seems no doubt that the bitterness engendered by the Masonic controversies over his book was chiefly instrumental in preventing him from attaining a professorship. Happily, he was not a man to yield to persecution or misfortune. Like the poet, he might have said:
"I seek not good-fortune, I myself am good fortune."
Undaunted by miscomprehension of his teachings, unembittered by the seeming success of his energies, he labored steadily, as a lecturer at the University of Göttingen, in the development and dissemination of the system of legal and political philosophy from which his fame is derived. Roeder has recorded the deep impression which his lectures left upon the hearers, and the common opinion which placed him far above the respectable mediocrities who held professorships in the institution, where he was a simple docent. As we read the accounts of his work as a lecturer, and turn over the earnest, devout, and tolerant pages of his books, full of faith in the perfectibility of man, and of zeal discovering and furthering the conditions of human progress, we must needs feel that here was one prepared in his heart and made by nature, from whom no judgment of a lodge could permanently divide us. He died in 1832 at the relatively early age of 51.
Krause did not leave us a complete or systematic exposition of his general philosophical system. Nor can it be said that he achieved much of moment in the field of philosophy at large, though some historians of philosophy accord him a notable place. It is rather in the special fields of the philosophy of Masonry, to which he devoted the enthusiasm of youth, and of the philosophy of law, to which he turned his maturer energies, that he will be remembered. In the latter field, indeed, he is still a force. Two able and zealous disciples, Ahrens and Roeder, labored for more than a generation in expounding and spreading his doctrines. The great work of Ahrens, published five years after his master's death, has gone through twenty-four editions, in seven languages. Thus Krause became recognized as the founder of a school of legal and political philosophers, and his followers, not merely by writings, but by meetings and congresses, developed and disseminated his ideas. Until the rise of the military spirit in Germany and the shifting of the growing point of German law to legislation, produced a new order of ideas, the influence of his doctrines was almost dominant. Outside of Germany, especially in lands where the philosophy of law is yet a virgin field, they still have a useful and fruitful future before them, and he has been pronounced the "leader of the latest and largest thought" in the sphere of legal philosophy. In view of the social-philosophical and sociological movements in the last generation, this characterization is no longer accurate. But it is true that until the rise of the great names of the social- philosophical school of legal thought in the past decade, Krause's was the greatest name in modern legal philosophy. His great Masonic work is disfigured by the uncritical voracity, characteristic of Masonic writers until a very recent period, which led him to give an unhesitating credence to tradition, and to accept, as genuine, documents of doubtful authenticity, or even down-right fabrications. Hence his historical and philological investigations, in which he minutely examines the so-called Leland MS., the Entered Apprentice Lecture, and the so-called York Constitutions, as well as his dissertation on the form of government and administration in the Masonic order, must be read with caution, and with many allowances for over-credulity. But in spite of these blemishes – and they unhappily disfigure too large a portion of the historical and critical literature of the Craft – his Masonic writings are invaluable.
In a time and among a people in which the nineteenth-century indifference to philosophy is exceptionally strong, and threatens to deprive Law and Government, Jurisprudence and Politics of all basis, other than popular caprice, a teaching which sets them on a surer and more enduring ground, which seeks to direct them to a definite place and to give them definite work in a general scheme of human progress, cannot fail to be tonic. For the Mason, however, Krause's system of legal philosophy has a further and higher value. It is not merely that his works on the philosophy of law, written, for the most part, after his period of Masonic research and Masonic authorship was at an end, afford us, at many points, memorable examples of the practical possibilities of Masonic studies. Nor is it merely that he enforces so strenuously the social, political, and legal applications of the principles of our lectures. His great achievement, his chiefest title to our enduring gratitude, is the organic theory of law and the state, in which he develops the seventeenth-century notion of a general organization of mankind into a practical doctrine, seeks to unite the state with all other groups and organizations – high or low, whatever their immediate scope or purpose – in a harmonious system of men's activities, and points out the station and the objective of our world-wide brotherhood in the line of battle of human progress. Let me indicate to you some of the leading points of his Masonic and of his legal philosophy, and the relation of the one to the other.
Law is but "the skeleton of social order, clothed upon by the flesh and blood of morality." Among primitive peoples, it is no more than a device to keep the peace, and to regulate, so far as may be, the archaic remedy of private war. In time it is taken over by the state, and is able to put down violence, where originally it could go no farther than to limit it. This done, it may aspire to a better end, and seek not only to preserve order but to do justice. Thus far it has come at present. But beyond all this, says Krause, there is a higher and nobler goal, which is, he says, "The perfection of man and of society." The law, singly, is by no means adequate to this task. Rightly understood, it is one of many agencies, which are to operate harmoniously, each in its own sphere, toward that great end. The state organizes and wields but one of these agencies. Morals, religion, science, the arts, industry and commerce – all these, in his view, are co-workers, and must be organized also. But the state, or the political organization, being charged with the duty of maintaining the development of justice, has the special function of assuring to the other forms of organized human activity the means of perfecting themselves. It must "mediate between the individual and the social destiny." Thus it is but an organ in the whole social organism. He looks upon human society as an organic whole, made up of many diverse institutions, each related to an important phase of human life, and all destined, at an epoch of maturity, to compose a superior unity. Relatively, they are independent. In a wider view and looked at with an eye to the ultimate result, they are parts of a single mechanism. All operate in one direction and to one end – the achievement of the destiny of humanity, which is perfection. Nor is this idle speculation. Krause seeks to animate these several phases of human activity, these varied institutions evolved as organs of the social body, with a new spirit. He impresses upon us that we are not on the decline, but are rather in a period of youth. Humanity, he insists, is but beginning to acquire the consciousness of its social aim. Knowing its aim, conscious of the high perfection that awaits it, he calls upon mankind, by harmonious development of its institutions, to reach the ideal through conscious development of the real.
This insistence upon perfection as a social aim and upon conscious striving to that end is of capital importance in contrast with the ideas which prevailed so generally in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Under the influence of the positivists and of the mechanical sociologists for a time there was a condition of social, political and juristic pessimism. Men thought of society as governed by the inflexible operation of fixed social laws, whose workings we might observe, as we may observe the workings of the law of gravitation in the motions of the heavenly bodies, but might no more influence in the one case than in the other. Krause's social philosophy, on the other hand, to use a recent phrase, gives us faith in the efficacy of effort and thus accords with the best tendencies of social and political thought in the present.
Krause's philosophy of Masonry and his philosophy of law require us to distinguish the natural order, the social order and the moral order. The distinction may be developed as follows.
Scientists tell us that nature exhibits a ceaseless and relentless strife – a struggle for existence, though this way of putting it had not been invented in Krause's day – in which all individuals, races, and species are inevitably involved. The very weeds by the roadside are not only at war with one another for room to grow, but must contend for their existence against the ravages of insects, the voracity of grazing animals, and the implements of men. Thus, the staple of life, under purely natural conditions, is conflict. If we turn to the artificial conditions of a garden, the contrast is extreme. Exotics, which-could not maintain themselves a moment, in an alien soil and an unwonted climate, against the competition of hardy native weeds, thrive luxuriantly. Planted carefully, so as not to interfere with each other, carefully tended, so as to eliminate the competition of native vegetation, supplied with the best of soil, watered whenever the natural supply is deficient, the individual plants, freed from the natural necessity of caring for themselves in the struggle for existence, turn their whole energies to more perfect development, and produce forms and varieties of which their rude, uncultivated originals scarcely convey a hint. All struggle for existence is not eliminated, indeed, in the garden. But the burden of it is shifted. Instead of each plant struggling with every other for a precarious existence the gardener contends with nature for the existence of his garden. He covers his plants to protect from frosts, he waters them to mitigate drought, he sprays them to prevent injury by insects, and he hoes to keep down the competition of weeds. Instead of leaving each plant to propagate itself as it may, he gathers and selects the seed, prepares the ground, and sows so as to insure the best results. The whole proceeding is at variance with nature; and it is maintained only by continual strife with nature, and at the price of vigilance and diligence. If these are relaxed, insects, drought, and weeds soon gain the day, and the artificial order of the garden is at an end.
Society and civilization are, in like manner, an artificial order, maintained at the price of vigilance and diligence in opposition to natural forces. As in the garden, so in society, the characteristic feature is elimination of the struggle for existence, by removal or amelioration of the conditions which give rise to it. On the other hand, in savage or primitive society, as in the natural plant society of the wayside, the characteristic feature is the intense and unending competition of the struggle for existence. In the wayside weed patch, nature exerts herself to adjust the forms of life to the conditions of existence. In the garden, the gardener strives to adjust the conditions of existence to the forms of life he intends to cultivate. Similarly, among savage and uncivilized races, men adjust themselves as they may to a harsh environment. With the advent and development of society and civilization, men-create an artificial environment, adjusted to their needs and furthering their continued progress. Thus, the social and moral ordeal are, in a sense, artificial; they have been set up in opposition to the natural order, and they are maintained and maintainable only by strife with nature, and the repression of natural instincts and primitive desires. It has been said that nature is morally indifferent. Morality is a conception which belongs to the social, not to the natural existence. The course of conduct which the member of civilized society pursues would be fatal to the savage; and the course followed by the savage would be fatal to society. The savage, like any wild animal, fights out the struggle fol existence relentlessly. The civilized man joins his best energies to those of his fellows, in the endeavor to limit and eliminate that struggle.
The social ordeal, then, is, as it were, an artificial order, set up and maintained by the co-operation of numbers of individuals through successive generations. Just as the garden demands vigilance and diligence on the part of the gardener, to prevent the encroachment and re-establishment of the natural order, so the social order requires continual struggle with natural surroundings, as well as with other societies and with individuals, wherewith its interests or necessities come in conflict. Consequently, in addition to the instincts of self and species preservation, there is required an instinct or intuition of preserving and maintaining the social order. Whether we regard this as acquired in an orderly process of evolution, or as implanted in man at creation, it stands as the basis of right and justice, bringing about as a moral habit, "that tendency of the will and mode of conduct which refrains from disturbing the lives and interests of others, and, as far as possible, hinders such interference on the part of others." The mere knowledge by individuals, however, that the welfare, and even the continuance, of society require each to limit his activities somewhat with reference to the activities of others, does not suffice to keep within the bounds required by-right and justice. The more primitive and powerful selfish instincts tend to prevail in action. Hence private war was an ordinary process of archaic society. The competing activities of individuals could not be brought into harmony and were left to adjust themselves. But peace, order, and security are essential to civilization. Every individual must be relieved from the necessity of guarding his interests against encroachment, and set free to pursue some special end with his whole energies. As civilization advances, this is done by substituting the force of society for that of the individual, and thus putting an end to private war. Historically, law grew up to this demand.
The maintenance of society and the promotion of its welfare, however, as has been seen, depend upon much besides the law. Even in its original and more humble role of preserving the peace, the law was by no means the first in importance. The germs of legal institutions are to be seen in ancient religions, and religion and morals held men in check while law was yet in embryo. Beginning as one, religion, morals and law have slowly differentiated into the three regulating and controlling agencies by which right and justice are upheld and society is made possible. In many respects their aim is common, in many respects they cover the same field, among some peoples they are still confused, in whole or in part. But today, among enlightened peoples, they stand as three great systems; with their own aims, their own fields, their own organization, and their own methods; each keeping down the atavistic tendencies toward wrong-doing and private war, and each bearing its share in the support of the artificial social order, by maintaining right and justice. Religion governs men, so far as it is a regulating agency, supernatural sanctions; morality by the sanction of private conscience, fortified by public opinion; law by the sanction of the force of organized society. Each, therefore, to be able to employ its sanctions systematically and effectively in maintaining society, must be directed or wielded by an organization. Accordingly we find the church giving regulative and coercive force to religion and the state taking over and putting itself behind the law. But what is behind the third of these great agencies? What and where is the organization that gives system and effectiveness to the regulative force of morality?
Here, Krause tells us, is the post of the Masonic order. World-wide; respecting every honest creed, requiring adherence to none; teaching obedience to states, but confining itself to no one of them; it looks to religion on the one side and to law upon the other, and, standing upon the solid middle-ground of the universal moral sentiments of mankind, puts behind them the force of tradition and precept, and organizes the mighty sanction of human disapproval. Thus, he conceives that Masonry is working hand in hand with church and state, in organizing the conditions of social progress; and that all societies and organizations, local or cosmopolitan, which seek to unify men's energies in any sphere – whether science, or art, or labor, or commerce – have their part also; since each and all, held up by the three pillars of the social order – Religion, Law, and Morals; Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty – are making for human perfection.
But, in the attainment of human perfection, we must go beyond the strict limits of the social order. Morality, as we have seen, is an institution of social man. Nevertheless it has possibilities of its own, surpassing the essential requirements of a society. There is a moral order, above and developed out of the social t order, as the social order is above the natural. The natural order is maintained by the instincts of self and species preservation. These instincts, unrestrained, take no account of other existences, and make struggle for existence the rule. In the social order, men have learned to adjust act to end in maintaining their own lives without hindering others from doing the like. In the moral order, men have learned not merely to live without hindering the lives of others, but to live so as to aid others in attaining a more complete and perfect life. When the life of every individual is full and complete, not merely without hindering other lives from like completeness, but while helping them to attain it, perfection will have been reached. Then will the individual, "In hand and foot and soul four-square, fashioned without fault," fit closely into the moral order, as the perfect ashlar. Instinct maintains the natural order. Law must stand chiefly behind the social order. Masonry will find its sphere, for the most part, in maintaining and developing the moral order. So that, while it reminds us of our natural duties to ourselves, and of the duties we owe our country, as the embodiment of the social order, it insists, above and beyond them all, upon our duties to our neighbor and to God, through which alone the perfection of the moral order may be attained.
Krause does not believe, however, that law and the state should limit their scope and purpose to keeping up the social order. They maintain right and justice in order to uphold society. But they uphold society in order to liberate men's energies so that they may make for the moral order. Hence the ultimate aim is human perfection. If by any act intended to maintain the social order, they retard the moral order, they are going counter to their ends. Law and morals are distinct; but their aim is one, and the distinction is in the fields in which they may act effectively and in the means of action, rather than in the ideas themselves. The lawgiver must never forget the ultimate purpose, and must seek to advance rather than to hinder the organization and harmonious development of all human activities. "Law," he tells us, "is the sum of the external conditions of life measured by reason." So far as perfection may be reached by limitation of the external acts of men, whereby each may live a complete life, unhindered by his fellows, the law is effective. More than this, the external conditions of the life measured by reason are, indirectly, conditions of the fuller and completer life of the moral order; for men must be free to exercise their best energies without hindrance, before they can employ them to much purpose in aiding others to a larger life. Here, however, law exhausts its possibilities. It upholds the social order, whereon the moral order rests. The development and maintenance of the moral order depend on internal conditions. And these are without the domain of law. Nevertheless, as law prepares the way for the moral order, morals make more easy the task of law. The more thoroughly each individual, of his own motion, measures his life by reason, the more completely does law cease to be merely regulative and restraining, and attains its higher role of an organized human freedom. Here is one of the prime functions of the symbols of the Craft. As one reflects upon these symbols, the idea of life measured by reason is everywhere borne in upon him. The twenty-four inch gauge, the plumb, the level, the square and compass, and the trestle board are eloquent of measurement and restraint.
There is nothing measured in the life of the savage. He may kill sufficient for his needs, or, from mere caprice or wanton love of slaughter, may kill beyond his needs at the risk of future want. His acts have little or no relation to one another. He does not sow at one season that he may reap at another, much less does he plant or build in one generation that another generation may be nourished or sheltered. The exigencies or the desires of the moment control his actions. On the other hand, the acts of civilized man are connected, related to one another, and, to a great extent, parts of a harmonious and intelligent scheme of activity. Even more is this true of conduct which is called moral. Its prime characteristic is certainty. We know today what it will be tomorrow. The unprincipled may or may not keep promises, may or may not pay debts, may or may not be constant in political or family relations. The man whose conduct is moral, we call trustworthy. We repose entire confidence in his steadfast adherence to a regular and orderly course of life. Hence we speak of rectitude of conduct, under the figure of adjustment to a straight line; and our whole nomenclature of ethics is based upon such figures of speech. Excess, which is indefinite and unmeasured, is immoral; moderation, which implies adherence to a definite and ascertainable medium, we feel to be moral. The social man, as distinguished from the savage, and even more the moral man, as distinguished from him who merely takes care not to infringe the law, measures and lays out his life, and the symbols of the Craft serve as continual monitors to the weak or thoughtless of what must distinguish them from the savage and the unprincipled.
The allegory of the house not built with hands, into which we are to be fitted as living stones, suggests reflections still more inspiring. Here we see symbolized the organic conception of society and of human activities, upon which Krause insists so strongly. Social and individual progress, he says, are inseparable. Nothing is to be kept back or hindered in the march toward human perfection. The social order conserves the end of self and race maintenance more perfectly than the natural order, which aims at nothing higher; and the moral order accomplishes the end of maintaining society more fully than a system that attempts no more. The complete life is a complete life of the units, as well as of the whole, and the progress of humanity is a harmonizing of the interests of each with each other and with all. Nature is wasteful. Myriads of seeds are produced that a few plants may struggle to maturity. Multitudes of lives are lost in the struggle for existence, that a few may survive. As men advance in social and moral development, this sacrifice of individuals becomes continually less. The most perfect state, in consequence, is that in which the welfare of each citizen and that of all citizens have become identical, where the interests of state and subject are one, where the feelings of each accord with those of all. In this era of universal organization, when Krause's chapters seem almost prophetic, there is much to console us in his belief that the organic must prove harmonious, and that organizations which now conflict will in the end work consciously and unerringly, as they now work unconsciously and imperfectly, toward a common end. If, as his illustrious pupil tells us, "human society is but a solid bundle of organic institutions, a federation of particular organizations, through which the fundamental aims of humanity are realized," we may confidently hope for unity where now is discord. And we may hope for most of all, in this work of unification, from that world-wide Brotherhood, which has for its mission to organize morals and to bring them home as realities to every man.
To sum up, how does Krause answer the three problems of Masonic philosophy?
Such, in brief and meager outline, is the relation of Masonry to the philosophy of law and government, as conceived by one who has left his mark on the history of each. Think what we may of some of his doctrines, differ with him as we may at many points, hold, as we may, that our Order has other ends, we must needs be stirred by the noble aim he has set before us; we must needs be animated by a higher spirit and more strenuous purpose, as one of the chiefest of the organic societies composing the "solid bundle" that makes for human perfection.
in Thy pierced hands,
depth and dream of my desire,
MASONRY, the Church – in fact all religions – teach that each one of us has the choice of two Paths in life. One is long, tedious, tortuous and beset with all manner of dangers and temptations – but finally leads to Peace and Rest – an eternity of Happiness. The other – a broad highway, easy to travel – with delightful groves and a plentitude of sunshine, music and flowers – everything to delight the eye and charm the senses – gently, almost imperceptibly, but none the less surely, leads downward to despair and death.
All men that have lived have chosen – yea, traveled – one or the other of these Roads. There is no avoidance of it. Either we must struggle as long as life lasts, to keep on that Path which leads to Light and Life Eternal – or give up the fight – yield to the many temptations that beset us – branch off upon a pleasanter Path leading to the Downward Road – exchanging our God-promised reward for a few short hours of indulgence in whatever debasing Passion or Desire may appeal most strongly to our brutal instincts.
In the Dhammapada, [Lib 2003] the authorship of what is ascribed to Buddha himself, and pronounced to be one of the most practical ethical hand-books of Buddhism, we read
"The virtuous man is happy in this World, and he is happy in the next; he is happy in both. He is happy when he thinks of the good he has done; he is still happier when going on the GOOD PATH."
"Earnestness is the Path of Immortality. (Nirvana.) Thoughtlessness is the Path of Death. Those who are in earnest do not die, those who are thoughtless are as if dead already."
"Fools follow after Vanity. The Wise man keeps Earnestness as his best Jewel."
"The Disciple will find out the plainly shown Path of Virtue as a clever man finds the right flower."
These verses are about 2600 years old, and yet the truths therein contained have never been more completely or more concisely stated. Analyze them as you will, and the more thought you expend upon them, the more thoroughly will you understand and appreciate their breadth and scope.
No thinking man can gainsay that True Earnestness leads to the Upward Path. "The Path of Immortality." It is beset with numerous dangers. Innumerable temptations and obstacles obstruct our passage.
Our Lodge lessons have taught us we have need of the three Theological Virtues – Faith, Hope and Charity – together with the four Cardinal ones – Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance and Justice; but without the foundation of Earnestness how could Success crown our efforts?
Truly Earnestness is man's "Best Jewel."
And, just as this is true of Earnestness, so is it also true that Thoughtlessness, if not eliminated from our character, will ultimately lead us on the Downward Course – even unto the Shades of Death.
How shall we find this Path of Virtue?
Reflect upon the teachings of the Lodge from the First degree to the last one you have taken, and you will find the answer.
But neither Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance nor Justice will avail unless they are backed up with Sincerity – with Determination – call it what you will – Earnestness is the word that best suits all phases of the case – and this message of Buddha, which has come down to us through 26 centuries, cannot be controverted.
About six hundred years after this message was given to the World, there was born in Bethlehem of Judea, the CHRIST. He said to the sinful Woman: "Go thy way – thy sins are forgiven thee" – her faith had made her whole.
But think you that Earnestness had no part in the healing? This poor woman had thrown every particle of Earnestness of which she was capable into her appeal – and the Christ saw – and approved.
It was the Earnestness of her Faith which wrought the cure.
Volumes might be written upon this subject, but more cannot be said than that which Buddha has so tersely expressed:
"Earnestness is the Path of Immortality. Thoughtlessness is the Path of Death.
Dear Brother, ponder over this seriously. Choose the RIGHT PATH. BE EARNEST and PEACE and REST will attend thy efforts.
"Freemasonry is the subjugation of the Human that is in Man, by the Divine; the conquest of the Appetites and Passions by the Moral Sense and the Reason; a continual effort, struggle and warfare of the Spiritual against the Material and Sensual. That victory – when it has been achieved and secured, and the conqueror may rest upon his shield and wear the well-earned laurels – is the true Holy Empire."
Founder of the Library of the Grand Lodge of Iowa
(Among many MSS left by Mr. Parvin – some of which we shall publish as occasion may offer – was the following paper, written in the forthright and pungent style characteristic of a man who had positive convictions, and knew how to express them. Recent students are not so sure, as Brother Parvin seems to have been, that there was only one degree in Craft-masonry. But no matter, the paper speaks for itself – and the editor ventures to add a brief discussion as showing its importance in view of the present situation in world-Masonry.)
"Every annual Grand Lodge has the inherent Power and Authority to make new Regulations, or to alter those for the real Benefit of this ancient Fraternity; provided always that the Old Landmarks be carefully preserved." – Art. XXXIX, General Regulations of the Grand Lodge of England, 1723.
The term "Landmarks" does not occur in the Charges of a Freemason which are universally regarded as of binding authority upon all Grand Lodges. The quotation above made is from the "General Regulations," binding only upon those Grand Lodges which by enactment have made them so. These By-laws of the Grand Lodge of England – for such they are – are no more binding upon the Grand Lodge of Iowa than are our By-laws upon any other Grand Lodge of the land.
Save the one subject of the History of Freemasonry, there has been more nonsense written upon the subject of Ancient Landmarks than upon any other Masonic subject. Neither the Charges of a Freemason nor the General Regulations, together usually styled Ancient Constitutions; anywhere define what a Landmark is, nor do the historians of Freemasonry, or anyone else endowed with authority, enumerate them. Dr. Mackey, a learned Mason – though not so learned as Findel, Lyon, Hughan, or Gould – in his Lexicon of Freemasonry, as also in his Encyclopedia, gives a list of Landmarks which he made and promulgated as "the" Landmarks of the Order. His judgment, when based upon historic or legal truth, is entitled to weight, but he followed his prejudices or speculations, as he did, he commands no more respect than others. One Mason in ten gives adhesion to his published Landmarks.
A writer of equal ability, if not so learned, a few years ago tried his hand at enumerating the Landmarks, and almost doubled Mackey's last list; I say list, because Mackey two and his second contained some not in the first. Thus every writer has his ipse dixit. For many I have invited, urge and begged Grand Master and Grand Reports to furnish me with a list of Landmarks. None have ever essayed to do so – further than to refer me Dr. Mackey, as if a man who was born, lived and died in this century could make an "ancient" Landmark.
Quite recently a Masonic editor has told us that "every Mason ought to understand exactly what the Old Landmarks are." How can everybody be expected to know what nobody knows, ever has known, or ever will know; because there is no supreme authority to declare what they are. Scarcely any two jurisdictions, or any two men in the same jurisdiction, agree on the question.
Again hear a learned brother: "The Old Landmarks are those customs of the fraternity which became fixed rules at a time so remote that even their origin is lost, but which have been handed down as the fundamental laws of Freemasonry." Then he gives a list of twenty-five rules which he calls Landmarks. His second rule is "the division of symbolic Masonry into three degrees." Every schoolboy in Masonry knows that until the eighteenth century – this is only the nineteenth – there was only one degree. His third is, "the legend of the Temple Builder in the Third Degree." As a fact, neither the Temple Builder nor the legend was ever known or heard of two centuries ago in connection with Freemasonry. And so I might go on.
Such Landmarks are like ten-pins; knock one over and many others fall with it. Talk about rules established in 1700-1799 as having been "fixed at a time so remote that even their origin is lost!" It is too ridiculous to merit sober refutation. Yet the good brother says that "these twenty-five unalterable rules are now accepted as Landmarks." Accepted by whom? Not by the Grand Lodge of Iowa. In the number of her Lodges, in the intelligence of her membership, in enterprise and true devotion to the genuine principles of Freemasonry, the Grand Lodge of Iowa is the peer of the oldest, the largest and the best Grand Lodge, but she does not accept this list, nor the half of it. She refuses to bow at the altar of this modern Baal.
So far Parvin. As showing the wide divergence of opinion both as regards the nature and number of the Old Landmarks – the latter varying from six to sixty, and usually fixed at twenty-five – the article is interesting. Its criticisms of the lists of Landmarks proposed are as sound as they are keen. Nevertheless, the essayist leaves us still up in the air with little hope of getting down to the land, much less of finding our landmarks. Nor does it take due account of the injury done to the order, and the impediments put in the way of a wider fellowship and a mutual understanding by this uncertainty and confusion.
Hence we have the spectacle of Masons in one part of the world refusing to recognize their brethren in another part, because, forsooth, they do not use exactly the same words, when the differences in the most important Masonic principles, or their form, is so slight that they could never stand in the way of a greater and closer fellowship. Such bigotry – for it is nothing else – reminds one of the exclusiveness of the ecclesiastic who holds that the sacrament is only valid when administered in a certain way, when certain words are accurately recited, and when a certain person set apart and properly ordained by recognized authorities, is there to administer it.
Moreover, we accuse our brethren abroad – in France, for instance – of having departed from the ancient Landmarks of Masonry, but we have not yet defined what a Landmark is. Instead, we take some Tradition, Custom or Usage, of comparatively recent date, and erect it into a barrier with which to exclude our brethren – forgetting that a Landmark is one thing and a high board fence is another. Not only so, but we actually take some detail of organization, of whose antiquity no one dare make claim, and use it in the same way. What a queer outcome of the gracious and free spirit of Masonry whose genius it is, or should be, to make men friends and fellow-workers.
For example, in 1858 Mackey made his list of "ancient" Landmarks, twenty-five in number – that seems to be the sacred number in respect of Landmarks – one of which was as follows: "The Bible, being an indispensable symbol, must be present in every Lodge." If that be so, then a Mohammedan or a Buddhist, who reveres other sacred books than our own, cannot be a Mason. Even a Hebrew is in part disqualified, for he does not accept all of the Bible. Confronted with this glaring absurdity, MacKenzie modified the Mackey article on this wise: "The Bible is indispensable in Lodge, but it need not be the Bible in all cases. It can be replaced by the Koran, by the Zend-Avesta, or by the Vedas, according to the religious faith of the Lodge." That is to say, the Bible is indispensable but it may be dispensed with!
Now ye editor is a firm believer in Christianity and the Bible, of which he is an humble teacher, but he does not make his Christianity a test of his Masonic fellowship. To do so would be to make Masonry sectarian – that is, something utterly alien to itself, only one more atom in a world of factional feud and ferment. Instead, he welcomes to his Masonic fellowship his brother Masons of every faith, Catholic or Protestant, Hebrew or Hindu, thanking God the while for one altar where men of all faiths may meet without reproach and without regret.
Obviously, any other attitude is un-Masonic, and a violation of the fundamental, far-shining principle of Freemasonry set forth by the Grand Lodge of England in 1723, and reaffirmed in 1815; the cornerstone from which we must begin our survey if we are ever to find the Landmarks of the Order; the forever memorable words:
"But though in ancient times, Masons were charged in every country or nation to be of the religion of that country, whatever it was, yet it is now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves; that is, to be good men and true, or men of honor and honesty by whatever denominations or persuasions they may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the centre of union and the means of conciliating true friendship among persons that must have remained at a perpetual distance."
What, then, are the Landmarks of Masonry? Manifestly, by a Landmark we must mean, if it is to have any meaning at all, a limit set beyond which Masonry cannot go, some boundary within which it must labor; a line drawn as against any innovation subversive of the spirit and purpose of the Order. So, and naturally so, the Landmarks of Masonry are its great fundamental principles, not any usage or custom, much less mere details of organization, save in so far as these are identical with the spread of its spirit and the fulfillment of its purpose and mission in the world. Since this is so, there has never been a better attempt to state the Landmarks of the Order than that made by Findel in his "Spirit and Form of Freemasonry," [Lib 1874 Geist und Form der Freimaurerei, German] the sum and substance of which is as follows:
First, and chiefly, its universality, and the obligation of every Mason to believe and practice that universal religion in which all men agree and understand each other, and the avoidance of such debates as mar its fellowship.
Second, the organization of a secret society, a center of fraternity, an alliance of men of good repute, without regard to the distinctions made by the outside world, such as rank, position, religion, nationality, race, or political party; and the right of every initiated Mason to be admitted on a footing of friendship in all regular Lodges – Masonry being universal, and all Masons forming a single Lodge in which all are equal in the sight of each other.
Third, the requirement of certain qualifications for the reception of neophytes, such as moral independence, a sufficient degree of general education, a certain age, and good repute; and the injunction that no external circumstances, but only moral value and service to the Order, entitles any one to distinction or honor. Fourth, the immutable necessity for the Lodges to teach their members to exercise brotherly love, relief, and truth, to work for their moral advancement and the betterment of mankind, and to keep strict discretion towards all outsiders regarding Masonic usages, and especially the signs and symbols of the Order.
Upon such a broad basis as this the Masons of all the world may unite in mutual recognition and goodwill for the advancement of the Order, and that is what our European brethren ask us to do. How can we refuse to listen to their appeal, the more so when all that they ask is that we return to the original platform as laid by the Grand Lodge of England from which we derive. No one has stated their plea with more point and force, or in a better spirit, than William Conrad, in his paper setting forth the aims of the International Bureau for Masonic Relations:
"We do not ask our American brethren to relinquish their opinions or their Landmarks; all that we wish them to do is to recognize us as good Freemasons, faithful to the traditions laid down by the Grand Lodge of London in the year 1717. We desire them to enter into fraternal relations with us, to inquire, in a benevolent spirit, into our History, our leading principles, our activity and our deeds, and to convince themselves that we have the same right to be acknowledged as good and true Freemasons, as they claim for themselves."
GRAND LODGE OF NEW ZEALAND
[This brief Quarterly Address deals so admirably with a matter so important that it is here reproduced, lest in our zeal for numbers we forget what should always be kept in mind; and thereby bring injury to the Order. A better statement of it could hardly be made. – The Editor]
WORSHIPFUL BRETHREN AND BRETHREN – The subject which I have chosen for the brief address this evening is that important question of "Soliciting." I am well aware that brethren of high rank are of the opinion that a distinction should be drawn between soliciting and suggestion. This I have no doubt is drawn from reading a small work written by Brother J.S. Lawrence, and distributed by the Provincial Grand Master to the Secretaries of Lodges in the Provincial District of Canterbury, in which the writer states as follows:
"A candidate states at the outset that he has not been subject to the improper solicitation of his friends. Now, it is a well-worn dictum, frequently quoted even by those who are not of us, that no man must be asked to become a Mason. This is a counsel of perfection. The reference to improper solicitation certainly infers a solicitation that is not improper. A solicitation that puts pressure on an unwilling man; that suggested the extension of a business connection; that represented the Order as a benefit society, or as a convivial club, would obviously be improper and need not be referred to.
"But, is it wrong for some experienced brother to suggest to a friend, who is in every way eligible, that his admission to the Order might open up for him an increased or even a new sphere of usefulness; that the avenues of knowledge would be increased; that the friendship he already enjoyed with many Masons would be infinitely more enjoyable, strengthened by the Masonic tie? The applicant has talked of the Order with his Masonic friends, and with whom originated the conversation that has led to the application it is not worth while enquiring. Moreover, might not a distinction be drawn between a solicitation and a suggestion?"
Personally, I consider it dangerous to suggest, because a brother is experienced, that he should be allowed to suggest or solicit his friends to become members of the Order.
Some time ago a well-known and expert brother wrote a leaflet which was printed and distributed by the United Board of Enquiry, and in some cases read in Lodges in this district, in which he states: "The desire for membership should in every case emanate from the candidate and never by suggestion from a Mason. The candidate is called upon to declare that he has not been influenced by solicitation. It therefore behooves us to be extremely careful that no man shall ever be placed in the position of having to give a false answer to the first question put to him in a Masonic Lodge." Another well-known writer says: "Freemasonry requires that every applicant should seek the Craft voluntarily, entirely of his own will and accord." Therefore, if there is one tenet of Freemasonry that is known alike by the initiated and the profane, it is that of opposition to soliciting for members. No one should be solicited to become a Freemason. This is a part of the great unwritten law that must not be. Free will and voluntary action on the part of the applicant for the degrees is absolutely necessary. Were this not so the very application itself would bear on its face a falsehood, and the signature thereto would attest a lie. This is as it should be. The object is so pre-eminently a factor in Freemasonry; so much is Freemasonry concerned with the personality; its responsibilities are so individualized, that, although as a whole it is an organization in which the parts are bound together by the most solemn and impressive ties, the work it does is accomplished more through the personal factors of energy and character than combined effort. The unsolicited applicant is taught through signs and symbols, and voluntarily obligates himself to do or not to do certain things.
All this concerns him personally. As he profits by the teachings he becomes a character builder. If he becomes really a Freemason, and not merely a member of the fraternity (for, mark you, there is a vast difference between the two), it is his individuality that works for good. As he lets his light shine, so does he reflect credit upon the institution.
The one absorbs what the other teaches. Then the taught in turn becomes the teacher. Advancement in Freemasonry should be along the same lines as those which led to the acceptance of the applicant.
"What!" do you exclaim. "Should the Freemason become a solicitor for honors?" Not at all. He came to Freemasonry unsolicited, and Freemasonry received him; he solicited, Freemasonry investigated and, accepting, taught him to become a Freemason. As Freemasonry does not solicit, neither should he as a Freemason solicit, for Freemasonry is but the aggregation of Freemasons. But does Freemasonry never solicit? Yes; Freemasonry solicits of her votaries that they shall be good men and true, and conform their lives upon the moral principles symbolized by the plumb, the level, and the square. She asks that they apportion their time as she has taught them, by the gauge. She solicits that they shall spread the cement of brotherly love, and, with the Great Light in Freemasonry as their guide, build such a spiritual temple as shall make them worthy of all honor.
Once a Freemason, soliciting should forever cease, as no Freemason should solicit a profane, neither should he solicit preferment and honors. By living such a life as would make him worthy of these he will be solicited.
Freemasonry delights to honor her worthy ones. She solicits their services and honors worthy performers.
if your Christ be the Atoning
Past is the Fate of the Present;
For your own information, read carefully the inside back cover of this issue. It contains data which will clear up some misunderstandings which appear to be general, in spite of our efforts to the contrary
"Believe after observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason and conducive to the gain and good of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. When pure rules of conduct are observed, then there is true religion."
– The Imitation of Buddha
WASHINGTON, the Mason, renouncing a crown to be the Father of a great Republic, is one of the sublime figures of human history. Thackeray was not wrong in saying that it was one of the supreme feats of mortal greatness, as heroic as it was prophetic. The revolution which gave birth to this nation was the work of the people, but their leader so incarnated its spirit, its struggle, its purpose that it almost seems to have been the work of one man. Had Washington fallen in battle, or been captured by his foes, so far as human insight can see the fight of our fathers would have failed.
Alas! that a man so noble, so heroic, so humanly lovable should have faded, as he seems well-nigh to have done, into a mere statue in the Hall of History. Yet so it is. Today we look at his picture and see a great face indeed, but it is more like the Sphinx than a man, from which almost every flush of life has vanished. Parson Weems with his little hatchet did his pious part to turn a hero into a prig, and the Stuart portrait ironed every human wrinkle out of his face. As a result, we see a man of giant strength who carried the burden of a nation, Atlas-like, upon the shoulders, half hidden from those who owe him the homage belonging to the mighty spirits of the race.
There are those who say that Washington was not a genius. It is true that no separate faculty, or federation of faculties, stood out in him in such splendor as amazes us in Alexander or dazzles us in Napoleon. The quality of his genius, like that of Alfred, was moral, and his greatness lay in the symmetry of useful, reliable, unpyrotechnic powers. There was in him a moral magnificence more rare and precious than the radiant gifts of other men. Frederick the Great said that the Trenton campaign was the most brilliant of the century, and it was the century of himself and Marlborough. If Washington was not a genius, he was something better – a brave, true, strong man who picked his way amid the intrigues of friends and the treachery of foes, and led a people to victory, peace, and honor; bringing forth "on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
The people did not trust Jefferson, much as they admired him; Hamilton did not trust the people. Had it not been for Washington, who towered above all parties, our republic would have fallen between two partisan stools. He alone out-topped Hamilton and Jefferson, having a greatness unlike either, and which commanded the homage of all. Such a man the times demanded, and such a man in the providence of God was given to his country and his race. It behooves us to keep the image and spirit of Washington alive in our hearts, and tell his story, with all its vivid human color, to our children, and to those who knock at our gates. True patriotism may sometimes despair of republican institutions, but fear is folly so long as our soil can grow men who, like Washington, are proof to place and gold and show a manhood neither bought nor sold.
Washington came up from Virginia, Lincoln came down from Illinois. They came with one faith, one spotless honor, one high, disinterested patriotism, each to do the work set for him to do. They were maligned, vilified, and defamed, but they revealed the same dignity, patience, and courage. As we see them now on the distant slopes of fame, they seem akin, and we make a high profession of ideals when we pay them tribute. Neither could have done the work of the other. Each was a man sent from God in an hour of great need. Divided at time, as in temperament, they stand together in the grateful and venerate memory of a Republic which they founded and defended. They were providential personalities, and this nation, united and free, is at once their monument and their memorial.
* * *
Alas, it seems that Mexico, so long a cock-pit of anarchy, may yet inject an ugly element into our political life. Stories of indignities visited upon clergy and religious of the Latin Church by the followers of Villa and Zapata multiply. They are driving out the priests and monks and nuns, and even killing them, it is said. Naturally the men of that faith among us are deeply stirred, and rightly so, as every civilized mortal must be.
Unfortunately, in their indignation not a few Church papers have laid it all at the door of Masonry in Washington and Mexico. Nonsense! The fact is that the Church has been in politics in Mexico on the side of Huerta and the landlords and the exploiters of the peons, and is punished for its politics, not for its religion. Even Father Phelan, in the "Western Watchman," admits as much in discussing the subject. If the Church has been with the landlords, the scientificos, and against the people, as Villa says it has, it must expect to have short shrift from the revolutionists.
For the root of all the trouble in that unhappy country is not religion, but the land – taking the land away from the people and giving it to a few – and there will be no peace until the disinherited masses come into their own again. The revolution for the right to live upon the land will not end till the land is won. No doubt there is some exaggeration in the reports of iniquities and atrocities. For all that, the actual facts are horrible enough, and no one likes to read of dealings with monks and nuns after the manner of Carrier and les Noyades in the French Revolution. It is infernal.
Object lessons could not be plainer, and if we are wise, instead of fanning a feud among ourselves, we shall have regard to the real facts and causes of anarchy in Mexico, and avoid importing into our public life the sinister spirit which has wrought so much ill at our doors. Living as we are in a world of strife, when the whole world seems to have gone mad, it becomes us to keep our heads clear, our hearts kind, and our hands ready to help. The injection of a religious issue into our politics is un-American. It is un-Masonic. It will evoke passions profoundly unreligious. Let us have done with it.
* * *
"Say now Shibboleth; and he said, Sibboleth; for he could not frame to pronounce it aright," (Judges 12:6); and for his failure he paid with his life. Another instance in which a word-test was proposed occurred in the great massacre of the French on Easter Monday, 1282, known as the Sicilian Vespers. Then the words were "ceci" and "ciceri," and again he whose tongue slipped was put to death.
After all, life is largely a matter of the right accent. In the last resort a man is judged, not by his deeds or words, but by his emphasis upon the right syllable, and an imitated accent always betrays itself in a crisis. The note of reality is the finest music that breaks upon the human ear. There is a melody in it which all the trills of Tetrazzini cannot accomplish. The real Mason does far more than keep the commandments and nourish "a fugitive and cloistered virtue." His daily life speaks with the accent of reality and the authority of righteousness, and men know him by the tone of his character.
* * *
Remarkable beyond all expectations, both at home and abroad, has been the response of the Craft to the spirit, purposes, and aims of the National Masonic Research Society. At the present rate, the Society promises to have twenty thousand members, if not more, at the close of the first year of its history. Even before the first issue of the journal appeared it had well-nigh one-fourth of that number, making it the largest body of organized Masonic students in the world. These facts tell us two things, at least: first, that there was a deep need and desire for such a movement; and second, that the spirit and plan of the Society appeal to the Craft as not only worthy, but wise and workable. Such a response makes one proud of the Order, and it opens a field of opportunity, alike for good-fellowship and mutual instruction, to which no one may set a limit.
From all over the Union have come letters bearing assurances of the most hearty and enthusiastic cooperation, and they are still coming from men of every rite and jurisdiction. While from abroad, men like Gould, Thorp, Crawley, Ravenscroft, Waite and others have sent words of congratulation and goodwill – and, it may be added, they have been most gracious in accepting the invitation of ye editor to contribute to these pages, as subsequent issues will reveal. Once more we invite free and frank discussion of issues raised, or policies proposed, as well as suggestions for the strengthening of the Society and the improvement of its journal. If ye editor goes awry in his facts or conclusions, he begs to be set right, and will listen with an open mind to what his brethren have to say.
If in this issue of The Builder we strike the patriotic note, making plea for a world-outlook and aspiration, it is because events now transpiring must have deepened the gratitude of every American for this Republic as established by the wisdom of our fathers, every year making us more aware of its mission of leadership in the direction of world-liberty and worldpeace, and its high service to humanity. Also, it may serve to show that this Society is concerned, not only with the history of Masonry in the past, but also with its present influence and future development – most of all, and always, for the application of the spirit of Masonry to the life of man, individual, social, and national.
not by guilt the onward sweep
if God saved me alone of the seven,
of mirth and sadness, smiles and
Peasant-prince – a masterpiece of God."
The Royal Arch stands as the rainbow of promise in the Ritual; it stands as the promise of the resurrection; of that which was lost and that it shall be recovered. The question arises as to whether the Master's Word was originally communicated in the Third Degree? On this point there is some diversity of opinion. In our present Ritual of the Third Degree the Master's Word is lost. Dr. Oliver, a noted Masonic historian, says: "The True Word was never lost but transferred to the Royal Arch," and in corroboration of this statement further says: "I have before me an old French engraving of the Ground Work of the Master's Lodge, dated in 1740, containing the usual emblems and on the coffin is the 'True Word' in Roman capitals." This would tend to prove that before the legend of Hiram Abiff was introduced into the Master's Degree, the True Word was communicated in the Master's Degree and not a Substitute Word. It necessarily followed that when the legend of Hiram became a part of the Ritual of this degree, the "loss" of the "Word" followed, as the "loss" is a part of the Hiramic legend. But the "loss" without a "recovery" would be an absurdity; to complete the symbolism of Freemasonry, the "Word" must be recovered, hence the necessity for a Fourth Degree, the Royal Arch.
In 1738, or earlier, the story of the loss of the Word and the new legend, the Royal Arch, were gradually introduced into the lodges, and when the division occurred, (1751) dividing the Freemasonry of England into the "Moderns" and "Ancients," the latter organized a Grand Lodge and adopted a Ritual of Four Degrees, the fourth being the Royal Arch.
The Grand Lodge of "Moderns" evidently continued to use the old Ritual, without the legend of Hiram Abiff, while the Grand Lodge of "Ancients" used the new Ritual containing the Hiramic legend and the Fourth Degree, until the year 1813, when the two Grand Lodges united and formed the present Grand Lodge of England, known as the United Grand Lodge of England. It is therefore to the Grand Lodge of Ancients that we owe the Master's degree as found in our Ritual and also the preservation of the Royal Arch Degree. One of the Articles of union of the two Grand Lodges of England in 1813 was the retention of the degrees as formulated by the Grand Lodge of "Ancients;" hence, among the articles of agreement of this union, we find the only declaration made anywhere or at any time as to what constitutes "Ancient Craft Masonry." This article declares that "Ancient Craft Masonry shall consist of the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason, together with the Holy Royal Arch."
We see, therefore, that the Royal Arch is merely the evolution of a truth contained in the early Third Degree. It is not a "Higher Degree," but the last volume of the series in a sublime story revealed through symbolism. The Master's Degree without the Royal Arch is a story half told, a song unsung and a promise unfulfilled. The candidate is promised that he should receive, but is put off with a "Substitute." He is left in darkness, in doubt, and to the thoughtful one in a condition of disappointment. Yet, there is a purpose behind this seeming deception. Light and revealed Truth come only through toil and willing service. This lesson must be learned before any Mason is qualified to know and appreciate the Truth, The Master's Word. It is, possibly, unfortunate that the Royal Arch Degree was separated from the "Blue Degrees;" but whether fortunate or unfortunate, the Royal Arch stands as the last of the degrees in Ancient Craft Masonry. It is the summit and no Master Mason is in possession of all that Freemasonry teaches without the Royal Arch. The series of four degrees continued to be conferred under a lodge charter until about 1750, in America at least. The earliest history that we have of the Royal Arch in this country was in 1758, when it was conferred under a lodge charter in Philadelphia. It was introduced into New York about the same time by an English military lodge, in Massachusetts in 1869, where it was conferred by St. Andrew's Lodge.
Since that time the Royal Arch Degree has remained secure in its superior place. "The term Royal Arch Lodge was succeeded by Chapter and Royal Arch Chapter. The word Chapter was used in Connecticut as early as Sept. 5, 1783; in Pennsylvania, Sept. 5, 1789, in New York, April 29, 1791; in Massachusetts, December 19, 1794. The word Chapter took the place of Lodge in England, for the first time, April 29, 1768. The word Companion, used in the Chapter in place of Brother, was first used in England in 1778. These terms, Chapter and Companion, were soon carried to America where they flourish as elements in the Capitular system of degrees."
Such, in brief, is the history of the Royal Arch Degree; its parentage is as legitimate as any of the degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry; it sprang from the introduction of Speculative Freemasonry into Operative Masonry – the fruit of symbolism and allegory. To be a Master Mason is the highest and most honorable degree that any man can attain; it entitles him to all the rights and privileges of the Craft; all the accumulated so-called higher degrees do not add anything to his Masonic stature. The Royal Arch is a part of the Master's degree – the summit of its excellency. It is the privilege and should be the duty of Master Mason to complete the Masonic story, told in allegory and revealed in symbolism by receiving the Royal Arch.
Would you be enrolled as one living in that future generation that shall discover IT? Act now.
The degrees of the Chapter are: Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master and Royal Arch. The origin of the Mark Degree is veiled in obscurity, like all Masonic degrees, but, like the others, it sprang into existence in the earlier period of Speculative Freemasonry.
It was customary for the operative Masons to select for themselves a Mark, to be placed upon every piece of work wrought by them. This was done in order to keep a check on each operative's work by the Overseers, and to facilitate the payment of wages. Each Mark was distinctive and the same Mark frequently descended from father to son through several generations.
These Marks may be seen today on the stones in the old cathedrals of Europe. Fac-simile copies are reproduced in all Masonic histories. In Scotland, the operative Mason was required to register his Mark by the Shaw's Statutes issued in 1598. From this requirement of registration of the Mark, the Degree was evidently evolved.
The earliest record of the Mark Degree being conferred in Scotland bears the date of January 7, 1778. Yet this does not prove that the degree was not conferred at a much earlier date. These records also contain the information that the Mark Degree could not be conferred upon any one not having received the degree of Fellowcraft and Master. A report made to the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England states: "There is probably no degree in Freemasonry that can lay claim to greater antiquity than those of Mark Man or Mark Mason and Mark Master Mason."
The degree was conferred in Nova Scotia in 1784; in Connecticut in 1791; in New York in 1791 and in Boston in 1793. Like the Royal Arch, the Mark Degree was originally conferred in the Lodge. In the United States, the General Grand Chapter, R.A.M., issued Mark Lodge Charters up to 1853, when it was prohibited and the degree passed under Chapter control. In England the degree is under the control of the Grand Lodge of Mark Masons; in Canada and in Scotland the control is vested as in the United States.
The lessons of the degree are intensely practical, emphasizing the great requirement in life, viz.: Qualification and service.
The general use of the term, Past Master, by the Craft, means one who has been elected, installed and served for twelve months over a regular Lodge. The general use of the term does not imply a separate degree, although in many lodges and formerly in Missouri, the honorary grade of Past Master is conferred upon Masters elect as a part of the ceremony of installation. This grade or degree was or is conferred only in the presence of Past Masters. The degree is the second in the series of the Chapter; hence arose the terms, Actual Past Master and Virtual Past Master, the latter meaning one who had received the degree in a Chapter but who had not been elected or served as Master over a Lodge. A Virtual Past Master is not entitled to recognition by the Grand Lodge as a Past Master.
The degree is an old one. We find the expression of Past Master used in 1771 and implied as one who "having passed the Chair through some ceremony." The Constitution of the Grand Lodge of England, 1723, speaks of the installed Master passing through certain "significant ceremonies." There can be no doubt as to the antiquity of the degree. It dates from the birth of speculative Freemasonry. The introduction of the degree into Capitular Masonry rests on the fact that, originally, the Royal Arch was conferred only on those who had been elected and presided over a Lodge as Master, but it was manifestly unjust to a large portion of the brethren to have such a restriction placed upon them and the Royal Arch; the following law of 1789 illustrates this fact: "No brother can be exalted until he has been at least three years a Master Mason and has presided six months as Master of some regular warranted Lodge or has passed the Chair of Dispensation." This law shows the old restriction and the modification that was assuming shape, permitting others than actual Past Masters to receive the Royal Arch. An old law found in Harmony Lodge, No. 52, Philadelphia, 1799, states: "That every brother who has not passed the Chair shall pay fourteen dollars, out of which the Dispensation shall be paid for; if he has passed the Chair for being exalted, eight dollars."
That is, an actual Past Master could receive the Royal Arch Degree for eight dollars, but one who has not received the Past Master's Degree must obtain a Dispensation from the Grand Master to receive it before he could be made a Royal Arch Mason and it cost fourteen dollars.
When the Royal Arch Degree passed from under the control of the Lodge and became a separate system, known as the Chapter, the prerequisite to the Royal Arch remained, viz.: The Past Master's Degree. The Virtual Past Master Degree became a part of the Chapter series. The reason for this prerequisite becomes apparent when the Lessons of this much abused, but beautiful, degree are studied and understood. The lesson of obedience to authority is proof against anarchy, and he who would teach must first learn to obey.
A lie well told and repeated constantly becomes a truth to credulous people. This applies to the oft repeated statement that Thomas Smith Webb fabricated the American system of Capitular Degrees and the Orders of the Commandery of Knights Templar. Any man having an ounce of brains, and will use that ounce, will find that the degrees of the Chapter and the orders of the Commandery were in existence and conferred nearly fifty years before Webb was born. The Most Excellent is frequently credited to his fertile brain, and so stated by some Masonic writers, but fortunately there is on record in Massachusetts and New York the date of Webb's birth and the dates on which he received all the Masonic Degrees. The dates go to show that the Most Excellent was known and conferred before Webb became a Royal Arch Mason.
The latter half of the eighteenth century was prolific in Masonic Degrees in France and England. The degrees of all Rites can date their birth from 1723 to 1760, and in the maze of names and titles of degrees we find a veritable jungle. In this period we find the Irish System embraced The Chair, The Excellent, The Super Excellent, The Royal Arch, The Knight Templar and the Prince Rose Croix. The Scottish System embraced: The Mark Master, The Past Master, The Excellent Master and the Royal Arch. St. Andrew's Chapter, Boston, worked the Irish System, except The Chair, from 1769 to 1797. After 1799 the Mark, Past, Most Excellent and Royal Arch were conferred. A prominent Masonic writer says of the change: "This transition indicates and suggests that the Super Excellent Degree contained the marrow and something of the bone of the Most Excellent Degree."
From 1791 the Most Excellent was a well-known degree and a part of the Capitular system. The Super Excellent of this period must not be taken for the Super Excellent appendant to the Council of Royal and Select Masters of today. The Most Excellent Degree is a fitting prelude to the Royal Arch, one of the most impressive degrees in its ceremonies and sublimely spiritual in its symbolism.
What of the hour in Freemasonry? Brighter, stronger, clearer. We often become discouraged and are inclined to be pessimistic; but amid all the errors and stumbling, a better day is dawning, when we shall see the beneficent labors of Freemasonry shinning in effulgent splendor. Freemasonry is growing in power and beneficence. As its immortal principles take root in the fallow soil of the human heart and mind, it buds and blossoms into the foliage of kindness and the Hesperidean* fruit of charity toward all mankind. While the Masonic tramp may be seen on the beautiful highway of Freemasonry, there are many more today than ever, who are toiling in mind and heart in the treasure strewn mines of Freemasonry's realm.
(*) Greek Mythology: A garden, situated at the western end of the earth, in which golden apples grow. – rhm
Freemasonry today means more than negative plaudits and negative principles; but she stand preeminently as a living, growing, resistless power, whose end and aim is the exaltation of man and the glory of "The I Am That I Am." Our ancient brethren journeyed from Babylon to Jerusalem – out of bondage into freedom – with one strong purpose in view. What was the desire so pre-eminent in their hearts? What was the foundation of the zeal that actuated them to undergo the trials and hardships of that weary journey? Let them speak: "To aid in the noble and glorious work of rebuilding our City and Temple of the Lord." It was Work, Work, Work. Not idleness and ease.
"In A Nook with a Book"
HERE is a big little book – thin in form but fat with thought – worth its weight in gold; of a beautiful clarity of style, not unlike Henri Bergson himself, of incandescent brilliancy; such a book as one seldom finds amidst the ruck of print these days, "Science and Religion," [Lib 1914] by C. J. Keyser. (Yale University Press) There are places in it where the writer reminds you of the "forlorn splendor" of Plato, as he soars out into that circumscribing Circle which bounds all the infinitude of squares and triangles that science – or Masonry – can construct within that Circle. And it is there, in the realm where the Square fails forever to equal in content the Circle this thinker places Religion. That is to say, science pursues the finite until it is lost in the infinite, and reason goes so far and then senses the ungraspable of which it cannot hold the thread.
Keyser asserts, nay, he demonstrates, the Overworld. No doubt it is all pure Plato, but its restatement is modern, and the charm of it lies in the way of approach from the known to the unknown, but immanent – and, if we had eyes, the imminent. Truly, it is a golden chain he weaves, and he threads jewels of prose at frequent intervals, the while he shows us how much poetry lies hidden in mathematics. There plays over and through the words of this little book just the subtlety of large suggestion which makes the argument of the author so convincing, and his conclusion so triumphant, that "aspiration is not mocked."
* * *
There is a class of books – many of them today, owing to the revival of mysticism now going on – which vex the soul of ye scribe almost beyond words. Not that he is an enemy of mysticism, far from it; nor yet because he is a materialist, but because, since he must live here amid these "short days of sun and frost," he would fain keep his feet upon the earth., So far from being a mere rationalist, he holds by the wise lines of dear old Cullen Bryant:
"I would not always reason; the
Exactly; and because there is that in life which inspires awe, we should not seek to invade it with our analysis, lest we be found dancing where angels dare not tread. In short, if we go in quest of the white presences on the hills, we ought to leave our Kodak at home.
"Does God think?" asked a Persian pupil, greatly daring, of the wise Master at whose feet he sat.
"Man thinks because he does not know; God knows, and so he does not think," was the reply.
Being only human – very human, alas – ye scribe must needs put on his thinking cap betimes, and he believes that the Greeks were wise when they advised us to "think as mortals." What he finds amiss in such a book as "The True Mystic," [Lib 1914] by H. E. Sampson, (Rider and Son, London) which is only one of many of its kind, is that it knows so many things that, so far as evidence is concerned, are not so.
Reading the first chapter, one feels that, after all, the mysticism advocated by the author lies at least tolerably near to our common life; but in the very next chapter it careers right away to lost continents, buried temples, and the seventh heaven. We read of Asceticism, Akstasis, Initiation, Intuition, and the like – every other word in such books begins with a capital letter – as the various stages along the Mystic Way, which in this instance had better been called the Milky Way.
At first there seems to be a kind of appreciable understandable nucleus, and then a fringe which fades away into remoteness, impalpability, and what to an ordinary mortal appears to be but fine filigree of word-spinning. For we are made to witness an initiation in the "Seven Planetary Temples of Initiation," where we see the earth as it was in the beginning, "beautiful with a beauty in contrast with which the present beauty of nature is as a bad dream;" and we are also shown ether-radiant substance, and self-luminous globes, and opal-hued essences, transcendent glory of immortal vegetation, deo-morphic men, Adamic Mediators of Divine Magneticism, and so on.
Well, all this may be true enough – ye scribe does not gainsay its much less ridicule it, though it does read like news from nowhere – but he thinks that it is not so much Mysticism as mystification; and that the author ought to give heed to certain danger signals hung out for our behoof, lest we lose all touch with the actual. But what we find it hard to endure – and this is the way of such books – is the habit the author has of calling attention to the importance of the revelation he is about to make, exciting our curiosity to the last pitch, and then proceeding to utter something perfectly clear and obvious – so commonplace, in fact, that Noah must have known it in the Ark. Even that would not be so bad, if he did not thereupon go on to lament that he has probably been talking over our heads!
Howbeit, if we have noticed this book less for itself than as a specimen of a species, it is but fair to add that there is much more in it than that which is bound to sound to ordinary ears wildly fantastic. If the reader will discriminate, keep his wits, and not be put oif by strange forms of speech, he will find much to interest and instruct. Happily, the secret of life is much nearer and simpler than this volume would lead us to imagine; much more human and therefore more divine.
* * *
How refreshing to come down from those misty mid-regions to the chapter on The Mystics in so lucid and well-written a book as "Freemasonry Before the Grand Lodges," [Lib 2010] by Brother Lionel Vibert, (Spencer & Co., London.) Here we are on the earth where it is good to be, while the author sifts out the facts from huge tomes of Masonic lore – chiefly the Transactions of the Lodge Quatuor Coronati – and gives us the net result in compact and readable form. We think he is in error in not regarding the altar emblem unearthed at Pompeii as Masonic; but no matter, he gives the gist of what is known about the Collegia and the Gilds, the legendary history of the Order and its oldest documents, the operative Masons and allied associations, and the growth of our symbols and ritual prior to the Grand Lodge of England.
Still, the total impression of this book is to the effect that Masonry came into being by spontaneous combustion, so to speak; for the author has almost more to say-about where it did not come from than where it had its origin and how. Too little is made of the Comacine Masters, and we hardly think the thesis of Brother Ravenscroft is fairly dealt with – whereof he will soon speak for himself in these pages. However, the chapter on the Mystics is excellent, albeit not always correct, as we see the facts. The book is most timely and instructive, simply and clearly written, and it will be of great aid to those who are beginning the study of Masonry.
* * *
From a different point of view, and in quite a different manner, "Symbolic Teaching, or Masonry and its Message," [Lib 1917] by Dr. T. M. Stewart, (Stewart & Kidd Co., Cincinnati) is very well worthwhile. Made up, as it is, of essays and articles published at various times in Masonic journals, the volume has the advantages and defects of collections of the kind. Some repetition was inevitable in a number of papers dealing with the same general theme, and brought together from different times and occasions. One of the best essays in the book is that entitled, "A Portion of the Field of Masonic Study," offering, as it does, a practical plan for one evening a month devoted to research and discussion by each lodge. Most interesting, too, is the account given of the Cincinnati Masonic Study School, founded in 1910, its by-laws being identical with those of the Fargo, South Dakota, Masonic Study School, organized two years earlier. Indeed, the enthusiasm of this book in behalf of Masonic Research is so infectious, so eager and insistent withal, that it will be a wholesome rebuke to such as have imagined that there is little to know about Masonry, and that little hardly worth studying.
Dr. Stewart holds, and rightly so, that Masonry has a great history – far greater than Masons realize – and a profound philosophy, and that the ritual is largely a riddle unless we know how it came to be, what lies hidden within it, and what depths it reveals to those who have eyes to see. Of the opportunities open to Masonic research, not only for instruction, but for strengthening the Order and deepening its influence, the author writes with the ardor of one who believes that Masonry has a message for mankind and a work to do in the world – never more needed than today.
* * *
For the rest, if any Brother wishes to read the greatest modern novel – incomparably the greatest novel written in the twentieth century – let him make haste to read "Jean Christophe," [Lib 1910-13 Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3] by Romain Rolland. Here is a book not for a day, or an hour, but for all time. It is not concerned with the trivial and transitory; it is made up of the immortal stuff of human souls. It is steeped in life from the first page to the last; life in all its phases, its glory, its infamy, its grandeur, its tragedy, and its farce. Not only is it the best and most wonderful psychological study of genius ever written, but it is a mirror held up to our age, reflecting all the tendencies of thought, all the problems of art and ethics that torment us. Hear these words from the preface:
"I have written the tragedy of a generation which is about to pass away. I have in no wise tried to conceal its vices or its virtues, its heavy sadness or its chaotic pride, its heroic efforts and its deep dejection under the crushing burden of a superhuman task. The whole world, the reconstruction of the world's morality, its esthetic principles, its faith, the forging of a new humanity – that was our work.
Men of today, young men, it is your turn now. March over us, trample us under your feet, and press forward. Be greater, be happier than we. As for myself, I say good-bye to my past soul. I throw it behind me like an empty shell. Life is a series of deaths and resurrections. Let us die, Christophe, to be born again."
Genius is a rare wonder, and happy the age that can count one, or at most, two of them. And Rolland is a great genius. He sees life in the large. He has no grievance against the universe. He wears the star of no cult on his breast; no clique or party owns him. He has no ism to air, no fad to flaunt, no plaster wherewith to cure the world. He stands for humanity; the whole of it, not a faction – the little as well as the great, sorrow as well as joy, sin as well as virtue, laughter and tears, light and shadow, ever struggling, falling, rising, unconquered to the end. Sell your bed and buy this book, and you will make a bargain.
* * *
THE BUILDERS: A Story and Study of Masonry
By Joseph Fort Newton.
[Lib 1914] Published by The Torch Press, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Price $1.25 delivered. Lodges in Iowa receive presentation copies at 76 cents each. Lodges outside the Grand Jurisdiction of Iowa may receive it at $1.00 each, in lots of more than twenty-five.
(This little book, written at the request of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, was approved and adopted by that Grand Body, June 10th, 1914, the intention being that a copy of it should be presented to each candidate upon whom the degree of Master Mason is conferred in the Grand Jurisdiction of Iowa. Several Lodges in other jurisdictions have already adopted it for a like purpose, and are so using it. Instead of being an innovation, this is in fact a return to the oldest custom and practice of the Order – the Old Charges being a brief history of the Craft read or recited to the candidate in the days of Craft-masonry.)
Review, By George E. Frazer
Grand President, The Acacia Fraternity.
"The Builders" is the book that I sought for shortly after my initiation into Freemasonry, and was unable to find it. It is the book that I shall give to my friends at the time of their initiation.
"The Builders" is a carefully prepared history of symbolic lodges from the earliest times, with special reference to the history of modern Freemasonry since the organization of the grand lodges in England. The chapters covering the history of the craft are followed by chapters on the philosophy of Masonry, and the book is ended with a chapter on the Spirit of Masonry that is, in itself, an essay of very high literary standards.
The author has undertaken a very great service in the preparation of his chapters on the development of symbolic and ritualistic organizations among the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. These chapters give abundant evidence of the careful work of the scholar, but the historical presentation is unusually free from technical references. The fundamental doctrines of the ancient philosophies are presented in a graceful essay style, easily readable and understandable by men who have not given their time or attention to the study of philosophic works.
The story of Freemasonry throughout the mediaeval period, and especially the treatment of the orders of operative Masons, constitutes a real contribution to Masonic thought. The author is also to be congratulated on his candor in discussing the formal organization of Masonry under grand lodges in England, and the extension of Masonry. He has dared to tell the truth, but he has told it in a manner that adds rather than detracts from the dignity of our beloved organization.
Here is a book on Masonry that is in itself a contribution to Freemasonry. I know of no book that is comparable to it. It has been written at the invitation of the Grand Lodge of Iowa for the information of young Masons. There are few Masons in the world who cannot read the book with great profit, and who will not find in it information that they have long desired to know.
The author states that it has been his intention to stimulate thought and to invite further research. This his book will unquestionably do. The reader finds himself reluctantly finishing each chapter. It is to be hoped that the author may find time and opportunity to prepare a similar work covering Capitular Masonry and Knights Templar.
Die drei ältesten Kunsturkunden
Freemasonry Before the
Existence of Grand Lodges
Geist und Form der Freimaurerei
Geschichte der Freimaurerei
Geschichte der Freimaurerei Vol 1
Geschichte der Freimaurerei Vol 2
History of Freemasonry
Höhere Vergeistung der
echtüberlieferten Grundsymbole der Freimaurerei
Jean-Christophe Vol 1
Jean-Christophe Vol 2 In Paris
Jean-Christophe Vol 3 Journey's
Science and Religion
Symbolic Teaching of Masonry
and its Message
The True Mystic
last updated: 13/01/2015