The Arcane, Part 1 By CJ Cooke 2021
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The Arcane, Part 1 by CJ Cooke
Notes: CNN used text-comparison software to find additions and subtractions in the final opinion compared to the leaked first draft. Those differences were then reviewed by CNN staff. Small differences, particularly with punctuation, may not be reflected precisely. Footnotes, appendices and dissenting opinions are not currently included.
The first rational study of masonic history was published in Germany, but Georg Kloss's 1847 work, Geschichte der Freimaurerei in England, Irland und Schottland was never translated. When Findel's History of Freemasonry was translated from German to English in 1866, Woodford in England and Murray-Lyon in Scotland were already active writers on the subject. Woodford was Findel's guide when he visited York to inspect manuscripts, and would shortly collaborate with Hughan in collecting, dating and classifying the old manuscript constitutions. Albert Mackey was no less active in America. The list of his published works start in 1844 with "A Lexicon of Freemasonry", and extend to his monumental Encyclopedia of Freemasonry in 1874. Increasing interest, and participation, in masonic studies led, in 1886, to the formation in London of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, the first lodge dedicated to masonic research.
The historical record shows two levels of organisation in medieval masonry, the lodge and the "guild". The original use of the word lodge indicates a workshop erected on the site of a major work, the first mention being Vale Royal Abbey in 1278. Later, it gained the secondary meaning of the community of masons in a particular place. The earliest surviving records of these are the laws and ordinances of the lodge at York Minster in 1352. These regulations were imposed by the Dean and Chapter of the Minster.
In Scotland, the lodges of masons were brought under the control of two crown appointed officials, the Warden General and the Principal Master of Work to the Crown, the latter being in existence from 1539 at the latest. Towards the end of the century, William Schaw held both these posts. In 1598, in conference with the masters of lodges in south east Scotland, he produced a set of regulations for the governance of masons and their lodges now known as the Schaw Statutes. These state "They shall be true to one another and live charitably together as becometh sworn brethren and companions of the Craft." They mention wardens, deacons, entered prentices and cowans. The second Schaw statutes, a year later, included in their negotiations a representative of the Lodge of Kilwinning (now Lodge Mother Kilwinning No 0) in Ayrshire, which was assigned jurisdiction over the west of Scotland. Edinburgh became the "first and principal" lodge and Kilwinning the "second and head" lodge of Scotland, attempting to appease all parties. Since neither the King nor the master of Kilwinning was present, the document was not regarded as final or binding. It was assumed that the King's warrant for the regulations would be obtained. In 1602, Schaw wrote a Charter granting to Sir William St Clair of Rosslyn the right to purchase patronage over the masons of Scotland. Kilwinning is noticeably absent from the list of lodges appending their endorsement. The charter seems to have lapsed when St Clair fled following a scandal, and a second charter was granted to his son, also William St Clair, in 1628. This patronage was surrendered by their descendant, another William St Clair, on the formation of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736, in spite of the fact that it never won the royal approval that would have made it valid.
Anderson's 1723 constitutions seem to recognise only the grades of Entered Apprentice, and the Fellowcraft/Master. Hence the third degree emerged sometime between 1723 and 1730, and took some time to spread within the craft. The fact that it did spread seems to many scholars to indicate that the tri-gradal system was not so much innovation, as the re-organisation of pre-existing material. The Mason word, once given to the Entered Apprentice, was now conferred in the third degree with the five points of fellowship, and the two linked words formerly bestowed on a fellowcraft were split between the first two degrees. The new Master Mason degree was centred on the myth of Hiram Abiff, which itself consists of three parts. The first is the biblical story of the Tyrian artisan with a Northern Israelite mother who became a master craftsman involved in the construction of King Solomon's Temple. The second is the story of his murder by subordinates, which is similar to one of the legends of the French Compagnonnage. Lastly, the story of the finding of his body, and the derivation therefrom of the five points of fellowship, which appears in the Graham Manuscript of 1725, where the body being sought and exhumed is that of Noah. The origin of this re-organisation is unknown. The earliest reference to the conferment of a third degree is from London, from the minutes of "Philo Musicae et Architecturae Societas Apollini", a short-lived musical society composed entirely of Freemasons. These minutes record the initiation and passing to the degree of Fellowcraft of Charles Cotton. Then, on 12 May 1725, the society took it upon itself to "pass" Brother Cotton and Brother Papillion Ball as Master Masons. This would nowadays be regarded as highly irregular. In March 1726 Gabriel Porterfield received the same degree in lodge Dumbarton Kilwinning in Scotland. That he was not the first is attested by the minutes of the lodge's foundation, only two months earlier, where Apprentices, Fellowcrafts, and Master Masons are recorded as attending. In December 1728, Greenock Kilwinning recorded separate fees for initiation, passing and raising.
In the same period, Freemasonry as practiced by the English, Irish and Scottish lodges began to spread to Europe. The establishment of the first Grand Lodge in France is particularly problematic. Freemasonry itself appears to have been established in France by exiled Jacobites. The Grand Lodge of France dates its foundation to 1728, when it claims the Grand Master was the Duke of Wharton. Some Grand Orient seals date the first Grand Lodge to 1736 (the split between the Grand Lodge and the Grand Orient occurred in 1773). French histories date the first Grand Lodge to 24 June 1738. The situation seems confused, as other histories state that the first legitimate Grand Lodge was formed on 11 December 1743 as "The English Grand Lodge of France" with the Count of Clermont as grand master. Although the government of the craft was in the hands of a series of deputies, the protection of the count until his death in 1771 afforded French masonry a period of stability and growth. As masonry was persecuted in other catholic states, the moral and egalitarian nature of the French lodges accorded with the spirit of the age.
Many lodges were attached British Army regiments. The Moderns may have been wary of warranting lodges without a permanent address, so there was only one Grand Lodge of England warrant in the continental army from 1775 to 1777. The Antients and the Grand Lodge of Scotland were slightly better represented, but the overwhelming majority of regimental lodges held warrants from the Grand Lodge of Ireland. Thus it was that a group of African Americans, having been rejected by the lodges in Boston, were initiated into Lodge No 441 on the register of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, which was attached to the 38th Foot (later the 1st Staffordshire). These 15 men formed African Lodge No 1, as the British departed, leaving them a permit to do almost everything but admit new masons. Two of the members were seafarers, and obtained entrance to a lodge in London, being recognised as regularly initiated Masons. This enabled their master, Prince Hall, to apply to the Moderns for a charter, which was duly granted on 29 September 1784, now as African Lodge No. 459. Such was the success of the lodge that it became a Provincial Grand Lodge, and Prince Hall the Provincial Grand Master. After his death, the provincial lodges reconstituted themselves as a grand lodge (African Grand Lodge), becoming Prince Hall Grand Lodge in 1847. Around the same time, the history of Freemasonry in Mexico can be traced to at least 1806 when the first Masonic lodge was formally established in the nation.
Although some masonic writers have attempted to see Royal Arch symbolism in material from the 1720s, the earliest definite reference is to a Royal Arch in a procession in Dublin preceding the master and held aloft by two "Excellent Masons". In 1744 it is mentioned as a degree in Dr Dassigny's "Serious and Impartial Inquiry".
Under the leadership of Thurlow Weed, an anti-Masonic and anti-Andrew Jackson (Jackson was a Mason) movement grew to become the Anti-Masonic Party and made the ballot for the presidency in 1828 while gaining the support of such notable politicians as William H. Seward. Its influence was such that other Jackson rivals, including John Quincy Adams, denounced the Masons. In 1847, Adams wrote a widely distributed book titled Letters on the Masonic Institution that was highly critical of the Masons. In 1832, the party fielded William Wirt as its presidential candidate. This was rather ironic because he was, in fact, a Freemason, and even gave a speech at the Anti-Masonic convention defending the organization. The party only received seven electoral votes. Three years later, the party had disbanded in every state save Pennsylvania, as other issues such as slavery had become the focus of national attention. 041b061a72