Imágenes de página


buildings. The religious had the materials for building in their own hands, and labour they obtained for the mere distribution of that food in charity which they were employed to distribute. It was altogether a corporation concern, and pot done, as now, by rates upon householders. · This will account, too, for the size of some of the churches in parishes, where now, there, is not a tithe of inhabitants enough to fill them. Almost every church had some tutelary saint, some relic and some peculiar festivals, on which as is now the case in Roman Catholic countries, the people fock from surrounding parishes, not only to fill the church, but to form a mass of twenty or thirty deep around it. Here, then, is a reason for the existence of those large churches in small parishes, for which Mr. Cobbett cannot otherwise account, than by supposing that they were once more thickly peopled.

It is very probable, that these associations of Masons are as old as Masonry itself, and that Masonry was the first known sci

We know nothing in human civilation, that can be put upon a level with the advanced state of Masonry that is evinced in the ruins of Palmyra, of Thebes, and of many other places in Asia and Africa. But it is preposterous, in modern Freemasons, in men of all trades, or without trades, to connect themselves, as a perpetuated association, with the artists, who raised those splendid monuments of Masonry, of which we have not even a history, not even a tradition.

Other associations of Masons existed in England, and in Europe generally, as soon as the Christian Religion became powerful and raised stately houses for worship and for religious associations. These were chiefly for the regulation of the trade in general, and of wages in particular. These form the original of what are now called Freemasons. But these were really a trade society, such as those of various trades now existing: and as Masonry then formed the principal trade, the Masons became a formidable body: at one time menaced by acts of parliament, even with death for their combinations; at another, caressed and receiving charters from the Monarch. It is very probable, though we have no confirmation of the fact recorded, that the existence of the Masons, as a secret association, followed the Acts of parliament, which forbad them to refuse to work for stated wages, and which made the refusal, and any combination to raise their wages, a capital offence. Here was a stimulus for secret association. Here was reason sufficient for all that secrecy of proceeding which now forms but a disgraceful mummery with those called Freemasons. It is known, that these secret associations of Masons triumphed over the laws which were enacted against them, and that triumph might have stimulated the perpetuity of the secret association of free and accepted Masons. But, there is nothing to justify the existence of the foolery of modern masonic associations.

Again, the attempt, to connect the Masons of England or of Europe generally with those of Asia, is a gross imposition. There is no historical, there is no traditionary, ground for it. And the association of modern Freemasonry with Rosicrucianism, with the Knights Templars, Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, afterward Knights of Malta, and so forth, is still more preposterous, and a paltry cheat upon the modern dupes of Masonry. To be sure, the Royal orders of Knighthood, and all these religious orders, form but a mummery disgraceful to mankind; and a Chapter of Knights may be viewed as equally contemptible with a Lodge of Masons. Who can read of a King holding a Chapter of Knights, and see a number of men with fantastical dresses, with painted garters and ribbands, and a priest to pray with and to preach to them; who can think of a man kneeling down before another man and receiving a rap on the shoulder with a sword, to be told that he may then rise a Knight! who can think of a Chief Magistrate occupied in decorating warriors, and statesmen, and pimps, and cuckolds, with a ribband, a star or a garter, and not say, that it is disgraceful to see public men, or any men, wasting their time with such nonsense? What, but the most contemptible vanity can make a man respect a ribband, a garter, or a star, as a emblem of any thing? What wise man values emblems? Why do we pity the Indian and the African for his admiration of trinkets, glass beads, and such like trifles, for which the most valuable articles may be obtained in exchange, whilst we see our highest official men amused with such trifles as an order of Knighthood, or a title, and ready to yield for it the most substantial benefits and the most honourable acquisitions. Wherein do our fancied great men differ from the poor ignorant Indian that values a bauble before all things? What honour can there be in a Ribband, a Garter, or a Star? What have these baubles to do with honourable conduct among mankind ? Nothing whatever: and it is well known, that they are now the heralds of some disgraceful conduct, and not of honourable character. I-would not change character and situation, if it were possible, with any Knight in Christendom; yet, I have neither stars, ribbands, nor garters, and would spurn them as an insult, if offered to me by any King in Europe. I had rather be the writer or speaker of one good sentence in favour of good laws, good morals, or good government, than be the holder of every order of Knighthood in Europe. And I feel assured, that I have written many good sentences on each of these three heads, and have assisted to print and promulgate many more. Away then with all your Knight Errantry and knightly Vanity, with all your Masonic Degrees, with all your mummeries and associations, religious, or political, or convivial, and come good laws, good morals, good government-come a well educated people free from all such nonsense, from all such sources of sectarianism and disagreement,

In any

from all such disgraceful distinctions and associations, that do nothing but impede improvement and perpetuate ignorance.

Pythagoras has been called a Mason, and modern Masons have the ignorant vanity to call themselves, or their institutions a rem nant of that branch of philosophy which he taught! They are also wild enough to associate themselves with the exoteric doctrines of the Egyptian Priests ! It is on record, that both Pythagoras and Plato submitted to be initiated into the mysteries of these Egyptian Priests; but the most reasonable conjecture is, that these Priests held, as their exoteric or private doctrine, some true accounts of the history of the earth and of physics generally, which they did not divulge to the mass of the people. In Frecmasonry, I find nothing philosophical; nothing that has more pretensions to philosophy, than these royal, tailor and milliner masons have, with their masonic tools, to practical masonry, matter of instruction, modern Freemasonry is contemptible indeed: as I shall by and bye explain.

Unnatural intercourse has been attributed to Masons, as they now exist in association, and though I do not believe any thing of the kind, I really think, that they, and all men who form secret associations, merit the imputation. There exist those who will insist, that all religious mysteries have originated in conjunction with the practice of this unnatural intercourse among men. I cannot clearly see this; though I am disposed to think, that it has been occasionally the case. One very learned man promises to adduce authorities upon the subject. That the practice has been imported from the same soil, whence our European religions have been imported, is certain: and that the practice has existed most, where the greatest religious pretensions have been made, is also certain. Nothing really good passes where women are necessarily or systematically excluded. They form the better half of mankind and should partake of all

Out of the original Society of Freemasons has grown the ridiculous practice of getting some public man and even women and children to lay the foundation stone of public buildings, with a procession and other ceremonies. Thus we occasionally see a Prince, a Duke, or a Bishop, handling a trowel and a mallet, under the pretence of laying the first stone of a building! Really, it is time, that these fooleries were abolished, and that these Princes, Dukes, and Bishops, should not only play at Masonry; but take a turn up and down the ladder with the hod. The conquered and oppressed Irish have served long enough in England as Bricklayers or Masons' labourers. I am for a turn about. I would educate the Irish to better labour and make the Priests and a useless aristocracy take their places. What say you, Irish Roman Catholics?

Having given a general outline of modern masonry, leaving the particulars to follow in a regular and distinct order, I infer, that

that passes.

modern Freemasonry has no connection nor identity with that which existed as a trade society among masons: that it has no antique character that it is, in reality, in England, but a thing of the last century: that all its pretensions to traditions, which connect it with early associations of the kind are, false and cannot be proved: that it has no resemblance to what was originally called Freemasonry, and is no likeness of any thing that was in practice in the time of Pythagoras, or of the Egyptian Priests, or of the later religious associations of Christendom. It is very probable, that it has been the parent of similar nonsense called Druids Societies, Orange Societies, Odd-fellows Societies, and a variety of filthy spawn of that kind, generally the work of those who keep publichouses, to draw company and to sell their pernicious liquors to an intatuated and immoral crowd; but I shall now proceed to the minutive of the institution, and show, that it cannot possibly produce any general good, and that it cannot fail to produce a general evil, as a source of sectarianism, of waste of time, of expences, of alehouse or tavern resort, and by teaching a multitude that none but those of their sect are entitled to their morality and benevolence.

The real degrees in Freemasonry are three, called the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master: or, in the modern trade phrase, the apprentice, the journeyman and the master. It is quite ridiculous to suppose, that the Egyptian Priests, that Pythagoras, or that any of the religious associations of Knights, or Jesuits, or Monks of any kind, had any such degrees. It is evidently wholly a matter of mechanical origin. Modern Freemasonry has, to increase the amount of fraud, instituted nearly fifiy degrees; for moving through every one of which there is something to pay, and nothing new to be learned but pass-words and signs.

A Lodge of Masons consists of the following officers: a Master who is styled Worshipful, and may be considered the chairman of the assembly. There may be also Past Masters, who have been Masters, and who are distinguished as to situation and conduct in the Lodge; but do not act authoritatively. The next to the Master, is the Senior Warden, then the Junior Warden, a Senior Deacon and a Junior Deacon, and, lastly, an Inner Guard and a Tiler, or Door Keepers, the one inside, the other outside, of the door, armed with swords. Their several duties can be best explained by a íormal description of the opening of a dodge of Entered Apprentices. There are some slight variances in the proceedings of the several lodges and from time to time in the same lodge; but the following description is nearly that of the Giand Lodge, and will, with subsequent explanations, enable any man to enter any lodge-not that I recommend any thing of the kind. To witness the idle mummery is not a matter of sufficient interest to excuse the falsehood of assuming to be a Mason when a man is not.

The company assembled to form a lodge, the Master knocks for order, which is repeated by the Wardens, and the following dialogue begins.

-Worshipful Master. Brethren assist me to open the Lodge. What is the first care in the Lodge ?

Junior Warden. To see the Lodge properly tiled.
W. M. Direct that duty to be done.
J. W. Brother, Inner Guard, ascertain that the Lodge is properly tiled.

The Inner Guard knocks three times on the door, which is answered by three knocks by the Tiler, or outer guard, and is indicative that all is right, that there are no cowans or listeners about the Lodge. The Inner Guard reports to the Junior Warden, and the latter, with three knocks, and with signs to the Worshipful Master, reports that the Lodge is properly tiled. The W. M. tben asks, What is the next care? which is answered by the Senior Warden--To see the Brethren appear to order as Masons.

W. M. See that duty done.

The Senior Warden examines the persons present by the signs of an entered Apprentice, and evith signs, reports to the W. M. that none but Masons are present.

W. M. To order, Brethren, as Masons in the first degree. Brother, Junior Warden, How many principal officers are there in a Lodge?

J. W. Three, namely, the Worshipful Master and his two Wardens.
W. M. Brother, Senior Warden, Ilow many assistants are there?

S. W. Three, besides the outer guard or Tiler, namely, the Senior and Junior Deacons and the Inner Guard.

W. M. Brother, Junior Warden, where is the outer guard or Tiler placed ?

J. W. Without the door of the Lodge.
W. M. His duty ?

J. W. Being armed with a drawn sword, to keep all cowans and listners from masons, and to see that the candidate for admission comes properly prepared.

W. M. Brother, Senior Warden, where is the Inner Guard placed ?
S. W. Within the entrance of the Lodge.
W. M. His duty ?

S. W. To admit Masons upon proof, to receive the candidate in due form, and to obey the commands of the Junior Warden.

W. M. Brother, Junior Warden, where is the Junior Deacon placed ?
J. W. At the right of the Senior Warden.
W. M. His dury:

J. W: To carry the messages and commands of the Worshipful Master from the Senior to the Junior Warden, that the same may be punctually obeyed.

W. M. Brother, Senior Warden, where is the Senior Deacon placed ?
S. W. At the right of the Worshipful Master.
W. M. His duty ?
S. W. To carry communications and commands from the Worshipful
Master to the Senior Warden and wait the return of the Junior Deacon,

W. M. Brother, Junior Warden, your constant place in the Lodge ?
J. W. In the south.
W. M. Why are you placeri there?
J. W. To mark the sun at its meredian, to call the Brethren from labour

« AnteriorContinuar »