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No. 1, Vol. 12.] LONDON, Friday, July 8, 1825. [PRICE 6d.
AN EXPOSURE OF FREE MASONRY!
TO WILLIAM WILLIAMS, ESQ., M. P. PROVINCIAL
Dorchester Gaol, May 8, 1825.
Printed and Published by R. Carlile, 135, Fleet Street.
About a year ago, I wrote a paper on secRECY, which was printed in No. 8, of Tue MORALIST. My argument was, that there was scarcely an exception in which secrecy was not a vice. In that paper, I made the following allusion to Freemasonry : “In sects and among parties, there is a sort of fundamental secrecy, that forms their stamina. There is an object concealed, which does not resemble that which is preached as the cause of associating as a sect or party. There is some advantage to be gained over other sects, as a monopoly of power, profit, or interest, with the few of the leading persons, who associate as a sect. In Freemasonry, for instance these is a great cry of some profound secret among them; but the GRAND SECRET is, that they have NO SECRET. There might be idle forms and ceremonies, as there are with most other sects; and there might be rules and regulations, for giving peculiar aid, in peculiar cases, to each other, as there are in most other sects; but, beyond this, there cannot possibly be a secret worth knowing to the whole of mankind ; for, had there been such, it would certainly have been divulged; no oath, no tie, would have kept it from the general knowledge. There is a supposition of a secret, which occasions an apparent mystery, that it has never been divulged to the public, the whole of which has its foundation in the fact, that there is no secret that can excite enough of interest to occasion its being divulged. The fidelity of a Freemason consists in the absence of all ground to make a breach of faith. It is possible, that the junior members of the society might be led on step by step, under the supposition, that by and by, they are to know some grand secret; but it is a. delusion; the time never comes, and habit becomes the stimulant to perseverance, and the practice of similar delusions upon others.
Masonry originated in a very dark age, when there was, in fact, no knowledge among mankind, whereupon to found an important or valuable secret; and had it been the invention of some scientific accomplishment, the progress of science, at that day, would have left it a matter of insignificance. But, it is evident, that Masonry does not consist in any thing useful to mankind as a whole, or even to the members as a sect, or we should see them possessing superior advantages, which we do not see; we should see them superior to others in knowledge and manners, which we do not see. The writer has seen Masons as ignorant and as base as the most ignorant and base of mankind; but he does not know, that he has ever known any thing pre-eminent in the knowledge or character of a Mason. The truth is--they are neither better nor worse for being Masons, and are on a level with the rest of mankind." It is evident, that Masonry communicates no kind of useful knowledge; or it would be visible. Masons would be distinguished from others, which is not now the case. Signs, forms, and ceremonies, peculiar to themselves, they might have; but this is not worthy of being called a secret; every class of children
are distinguished from every other class by such signs, forms, and ceremonies. It must consist of one of two things-an idle and useless association, or a monopoly of interest among its members. It is said, that Masonry inculcates benevolence, humanity, brotherhood, and all the virtues; but all these virtues ought to be in culcated, in a more enlarged manner, and not under the denomination of Masonry. If Masonry has benefits which are withheld from the mass of mankind, that withholding constitutes inhumanity, malevolence, and vice. If it has no such benefits, it is an idle and mischievous association.
“ As we are considering Masonry, more with reference to its much boasted secret, than in any other sense, it may be observed; in the first place, that Masons are but men; that men are only distinguished in superiority one over another by the amount of their knowledge, by the distance at which their knowledge removes them from other animals ; that any secret of any importance could only exist in a matter of superior knowledge; that Masonry originated in a very ignorant age and that, therefore, there can be no secret worthy of the consideration of mankind at this time. We repeat the apparent contradiction, but the fact, as applying to Masonry, that, the grand secret is, that there is no secret. Nothing but this could have withstood the curiosity, the fickleness, and the characteristic inconstancy of mankind. Cry up any thing as a mystery, and the ignotant, ever delighted or excited with the marvellous, will make this a marvellous matter, whilst it either has no meaning, or is a thing of the most common occurrence, when stripped of the names and strange qualities that have been given to it. Morality requires that there should be none of this deception upon the senses of the less discerning that there should be no secrecy that knowledge is an advantage which should be open and free to all and that no one should deceive any other one upon and any pretences whatever.”
When I wrote this paper, I had not seen any description of Freemasonry, beyond 'Mr. Paine's Essay upon that subject, which I have since learnt to be erroneous in all its inferences as to the secret or origin of masonry. And now, that the whole arcana of Masonry has been unfolded to me, I find, that I was correct in my deductions, and I pronounce the above extract to be a complete epitome of Masonry.
The publication of this paper in “The Moralist” excited an interest among some Materialists who had been Masons, and they began to express a wish that I should, by their assistance, expose the whole abuse. To this end I have been furnished with information from many persons, inhabiting very distant parts of England, and I find that the various information agrees so well, as to justify me in concluding, that I am master of all the Masonic signs, words, tokens, purposes and ceremonies.
I reasoned the matter with myself, upon the known relations of man to the things about him, and being free from superstition, I could aot fail to come to a correct conclusion. Mr. Paine erred, in
giving the Masons a religious origin, and in inferring, that they were a sect which worshipped the sun or practised a secret religion. I saw, instinctively, that they could have no secret of any value to themselves or to others; and, as to a religion, I was sure, that nothing on that head, in this age of sects and superstitions, could require private association.
The truth is that Masonry, as it now exists is a modern association. It is not that sort of Freemasonry which existed prior to the change fromthe Roman Catholic to the Protestant Religion. Something of the new association was visible on the coming of the Stuarts to power in this country; but the civil war of the seventeenth century nearly annihilated it, by splitting it into royal, republican, and religious associations, and it can scarcely be said to have had a real existence, or a continuous existence, until the expulsion of the Stuarts, and the introduction of the present Guelph Family from hanover. No printed documents appeared concerning the association, until the year 1722 or 3, and prior to the seventeenth century, none but practical Masons belonged to the association, with the exception of a complimeut paid to a few distinguished individuals, a king or his minister, or persons of that class. No Mason of this day can give the least particular account of Masonry, as it existed prior to the eighteenth century. No authentic printed or manuscript documents, save one*, exist upon the subject. It is now a corrupted association, as it is well known, that . money is the end and aim of proselytizing. Any ruffian, the trade is now out of the question, that can raise a few pounds, can be made a Mason; and if he can pay for it, he may go through all the degrees in one night. It may not be the case with every lodge, some may be more strict and respectable than others; but it is generally the case. It is now conducted upon ciple, that one fool makes many, and as you pay
you know what for, each fool has no benefit in retracing his steps, he sees, that he may as well continue in the association to eat and drink at the expence of other fools to come.
The name of the association, undoubtedly originated with the associations of real Masons before the Refoimation. Prior to that time, Masonry, or Architecture, may be considered to have been the only science that was studied or encouraged; as all men in power were interested in encouraging it. King's were fond of splendid palaces: the aristocracy of strong and splendid castles : and the Priests of splendid'churches and religious houses. The Roman Catholics of this day renounce the epithet of dark age, as applied to the times of the predominance of their sect, and point to the splendid buildings which marked that era. The answer to this is, that the science of masonry was encouraged, and that science only, from whence we may infer, that every
* This is a manuscript obtained by Mr. Locke from the Bodleian Library and shall be subsequently copied and commented upon.
thing of genius that existed was thrown into the furtherance of that science, as it dared not to shew itself in any other. Whenthe Alchymists began to make their experiments, they were prosecuted as sorcerers; and to evade that persecution, they formed themselves into the secret association of the Rosicrucians. An association, which now seems to have been so changed or corrupted, as to be identified with modern Masonry, with a useless association, that encourages no one science, teaches no one useful thing, that communicates no one useful idea, but what may be gleaned from every book of morals. Real Masons have no connection with those now called Free Masons; the association is an idle mockery of their craft: and the Chemists of this day, the real descendents, in respect of science, of the Alchymists of old, have no identification with the association of Rosicrusians. It shews, clearly, how habits of sector association attach themselves to successive generations of mankind after the original object for associating is gone out of date. And this sectarianism is perpetuated; because a few can profit by it. They feel a vested right in it, as you and fellow legislators so often talk about, and rather than relinquish it, they will inflict, or continue, any amount of injury upon the community at large, or on that portion which is affected by their conduct.
The splendid ruins, the masonic remnants, of Asia, of Africa and of Europe are enough to assure us, that Masonry has long been a distinguished craft. With its filial craft, sculpture, it seems to have predominated over all others. But what connection has this distinguished craft with the royal and raggamuffin mummery now called Freemasonry? None whatever. No more connection than exists between a childs' toy boat of paper or wood and the highest state of ship-building. T'he one is a mere child's play imitation of the other; and as Masons are children of the largest growth, their ceremonies deserve no better denomination than that of fools' play, or, with reference to the trick of getting money from the uninitiated, rogues' play. The present legislature, in its war upon all other associations, that might have been in some degree useful, is morally bound to put down this association of Freemasons, which has even been improperly, though specially, exempted in different acts of parliament. A more mischeivous association never existed in this nor in any
other country, as I shall prove, as I proceed in this exposure.
When the Roman Catholic Religion, became predominant in Europe, it is known, that there existed associations of Masons. These associations were of different kinds. Some consisted of religious associations, and were a sort of moveable monastic sect, which went about in companies to build churches, chapels or other religious houses, without any other eharge than that of maiotenance for their labour. This will, in a great measure account for the extent. solidity and splendour of some of these