CONTINUA LA DISCUSSIONE SULLA MASSONERIAÖ


 

   In ordine alla discussione di cui al precedente punto C/4, ricevo i seguenti contributi, che giro subito ai frequentatori di questo sito.

Si tratta:

- della presentazione di due libri di George Tudhope, sul ruolo di Bacone nelle origini della moderna massoneria speculativa, e degli scopi "politici" per cui questa fu istituita;

- di un saggio sulle origini della Banca d'Inghilterra, d'impostazione affine alla precedente;

- di uno studio sulle cosiddette "Old Charges", che tende viceversa ad accreditare la versione dell'esistenza di una massoneria di carattere "tradizionale" (la cosiddetta massoneria operativa), ben diversa nelle sue finalita' da quelle sopra descritte.
 

   In realta', le due tesi a ben vedere non sono affatto contraddittorie tra di loro, ed e' possibile che l'una si innesti sull'altra. Insomma, ci si troverebbe di fronte a due verita' "sommabili", e auspico che del problema della "coerenza" di queste interpretazioni si occupi in un prossimo articolo su "Episteme" lo studioso Bruno d'Ausser Berrau, gia' citato nel detto punto C/4, e che qui si ringrazia vivamente per la competente collaborazione.

   Per quanto riguarda lo scrivente, egli aveva gia' accennato a certe ipotesi nel suo libro sulla scoperta dell'America (vedi punto A della pagina sulla Storia della Scienza), e non puo' che essere lieto nel vederle confermate anche da altri.

   Si aggiunge che una riprova del fatto che: "Much of the history of the last several hundred years can be interpreted as the competition for power between the British Monarchy, or "Perfidious Albion", and its allies, on one hand; and the Vatican and its allies, on the other", e che dietro agli eventi che piu' hanno segnato l'affermazione della "modernita'" si possa scorgere la presenza di precise "forze" organizzate ("Francis Bacon was the father of Freemasonry as we know it today [Ö] Bacon sought the reformation of man, society and the world. Freemasonry is the tool"), la si potrebbe trovare facilmente, secondo taluni commentatori, anche nella comprensione di certi "simboli", che sono sotto gli occhi di tutti senza che se ne comprenda d'ordinario il significato.
 


   Nella ben nota immagine che compare nella "bandiera" dell'O.N.U. (ovviamente U.N.O. per gli anglofoni) si potrebbe vedere un mondo racchiuso tra rami di ACACIA, e non di OLIVO, come si trova invece di solito scritto. Il fatto che le fronde in questione siano stilizzate non aiuta certo a decidere, ma si fa anche notare che il numero delle foglie riportate su entrambi i tralci e' proprio il "simbolico" 13.

Comunque, per decidere da se', si faccia per esempio un raffronto con le illustrazioni riportate nelle Figure.

 

Vedi:

- in Figura 1: la copertina della rivista massonica "L'Acacia", una pubblicazione "non in vendita", che "viene inviata ai Maestri Architetti del Rito Simbolico ed a un ristretto numero di Maestri L.M.".

- nelle Figure 2, 3 e 4 diversi reperti massonici, nei quali compaiono i rami di acacia (2, 3) e la "famosa" stella (3, 4) (le illustrazioni si trovano in: Marcel Valmy, "I Massoni", Contini, Firenze, 1991).

Si tratta, nell'ordine, di:

- un grembiule da Maestro, circa 1820, Museo Massonico, Bayreuth (p. 15);

- un analogo grembiule del XVIII secolo, Rosenau (p. 173); sul significato della lettera "G" all'interno della stella non c'e' unanimita' di pareri (per alcuni autori indica Generatio, per altri God, per altri ancora il riferimento e' alla Geometria, "scienza indispensabile nell'arte del costruire");

- un quadro di Loggia, circa 1800 ("la corda annodata simboleggia la catena fraterna, l'unita' della Massoneria").

   L'Acacia e' la pianta simbolica della massoneria: "dalle foglie perennemente verdi, indica che il pensiero e l'opera dei Massoni debbono aver sempre la stessa vitalita' e lo stesso vigore nella speranza perenne di sempre nuovi e sempre piu' felici successi".
 

Nota botanica: L'acacia e' un genere delle Leguminose Mimosoidee, comprendente circa 600 specie. Secondo alcuni studiosi, la pianta simbolo della massoneria sarebbe invece la CASSIA, una pianta "sacra" di origine orientale, un genere anch'esso appartenente alla famiglia delle Leguminose, ma Cesalpinioidee, e comprendente circa 450 specie. Tra i due generi si sarebbe fatta, nel corso della storia, "confusione"Ö
 

Una qualche analogia la si riscontra nello stemma della Repubblica Italiana:

 

 

in cui compaiono due fronde di piante manifestamente diverse tra loro, e che in questo caso sembrano chiaramente l'OLIVO, a sinistra, e la QUERCIA, a destra.

L'eventuale simbolismo "esoterico" sarebbe qui rappresentato invece dalla gia' discussa "stella pentagona" (vedi punto C/2 in questa stessa pagina). Senza dire di altre "famose" bandiere, questo segno compare anche in quella dell'Unione Europea (sempre una stella per stato):
 
 


 

Breve cenno storico:

Le origini dell'attuale O.N.U. (Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite) vanno ricondotte a quelle dell'analoga Societa' delle Nazioni (1919-1945), "un'associazione politica tendente all'universalita'", istituita alla fine della I guerra mondiale sotto gli auspici del presidente americano (1913-1921) Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924). Questi in un famoso messaggio dell'8 gennaio 1918 "suggeriva la creazione di un'associazione generale delle nazioni perche' fossero reciprocamente garantite l'indipendenza politica e l'integrita' territoriale degli Stati".

"Si puo' affermare che la Societa' delle Nazioni sia stato uno degli scopi delle potenze alleate".

Nel corso della II guerra mondiale, il 14 agosto 1941, Roosevelt e Churchill espongono i principi fondamentali della futura politica mondiale negli otto punti della cosiddetta "Carta Atlantica": "Dopo la distruzione finale della tirannia nazista, si spera che si instauri una pace che permetta a tutte le nazioni di essere sicure ciascuna all'interno delle proprie frontiere e garantisca a tutti gli uomini di tutti i paesi un'esistenza libera dalla paura e dal bisogno" (punto 6).

Il 1° gennaio 1942 ventisei nazioni si associano, firmando la Dichiarazione delle Nazioni Unite, e la Carta Atlantica diviene, il 26 giugno 1945, la base per la Carta delle Nazioni Unite, sottoscritta nell'occasione da 50 nazioni - il cui numero e' andato via via aumentando nel tempo.

* * * * *

 

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Books by Tudhope, George V. (2 Books)

Bacon Masonry
 
 

Discovery of Francis Baconís Cipher Signatures in James Andersonís Constitution of the Freemasons
 
 

Title: Bacon Masonry

Author: Tudhope, George V.

Category: Freemasonry

ISBN: 1-56459-108-5

Pages: 142

Price: $17.50

Preview Book: View Pages in PDF

Quantity:
 
 

Description:

Revealing the real meaning of that mystic Word and the true Name of that Lost Word with evidence showing Francis Bacon to be the original designer of Speculative Freemasonry. "The prime purpose of this book is to reveal the name and meaning of that Word. The reader will discover that finding the name of the Word does not indicate that the

Word itself has been found." The Lost Word; Hiram

Abif; Name of the Lost Word; Baconís Fraternities

in Learning; Original Meeting Place of Freemasons,

Acception Masons; Symbols of Freemasonry; Emblems

Regarding Baconís Life; Andersonís Constitution of the Accepted Freemasons; Bacon, Boyle, and Desaguliers. This book must be read by every Freemason!
 

Title: Discovery of Francis Baconís Cipher Signatures

in James Andersonís Constitution of the Freemasons
 
 

Author: Tudhope, George V.

Category: Freemasonry

ISBN: 1-56459-778-4

Pages: 32

Price: $9.95

Preview Book:

View Pages in PDF

Quantity:
 
 

Description:

This book will prove that Francis Bacon was the father of Freemasonry as we know it today and that Speculative Freemasonry had a Higher and More Noble Purpose than what is commonly Practiced Today. Bacon sought the reformation of man, society and the world. Freemasonry is the tool.
 
 

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THE OCCULT ORIGINS OF THE BANK OF ENGLAND
 
 

by The Magician
 
 

Much of the history of the last several hundred years can
be interpreted as the competition for power between the British Monarchy, or "Perfidious Albion", and its allies, on one hand; and the Vatican and its allies, on the other.

Of course, like any overriding theory, this one should not
be pushed to an extreme, and it doesnít explain everything. But it
explains a great deal.

A key role in the course events initally took was played
by John Dee, the Neoplatonic Christian Cabalist and Scientific Advisor to
Queen Elisabeth. He introduced the idea that the inhabitants of Britain were descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. It was all part of the British
propaganda barrage directed against the Vatican and the European Counter Reformation in the Sixteenth Century.
 
 

Henry VIII Wants an Heir
 
 

Letís start with Henry VIII. The king of England had not
been able to conceive a male heir with with his wife Catherine. So he wanted a divorce, which he doubted the Pope would allow. Henry VIII sent his secret agent Richard Croke to Venice in 1529 to consult with the Christian Cabalist theologian Georgi, as well
as Jewish Rabbis, on the right way to biblically justify
divorce and remarriage to the Pope. There was a conflict between Leviticus and Deuteronomy whether a man could marry his brother's widow, the grounds on which

Henry VIII was questioning the legality of his own marriage to Catherine.
 

This represented the beginnings of an alliance between the
British Monarchy and various Jewish groups. The divorce arguments, however, went nowhere. No compromise was ever reached with the Pope. (The British historian, Dame Francis Yates, tells the story in her book, The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age.) So Henry VIII finally solved his dilemma by wresting the Church of England out from under the Pope, and proclaimed himself Head of the Church. Henry was now supreme leader, both politically and spiritually, and did what he wanted with respect to divorce and remarriage. (As for the heir, we now know that the underlying infertility was Henry VIIIís own. But from such
trivialities do the major events of world history proceed.)
 
 

The Vatican was staggered. And it was furious. Not only
had the head of a leading nation defied the Popeís authority in spiritual
matters, but this same king had set himself up as a rival Pope, so to speak. King Henry VIII was an Anti-Pope. Or thatís how the Vatican saw it. The Vatican and the Monarchy were now at war. The war of spiritual ideas and spiritual concepts quickly became part and parcel of the geopolitical war with the chief Catholic power, Spain.
 
 

Henry VIIIís seizure of the Church of England had to be
justified to English-speaking people in a spiritual sense. And so it
was. The British had a spiritual destiny, it was declared.
 
 

Information Warfare and John Dee
 
 

John Dee, the son of one of Henry VIII's court officials,
grew up surrounded by this controversy and the mystical currents concerning the notion of British Empire. The latter involved a spiritual as well as a geopolitical aspect: the British
were to inherit the earth, and in the process foster the
spread of True Christianity. That is, not Catholicism.
 
 

According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, the kings of Britain
were descended from Brut, of Trojan origin. King Arthur, one of Brut's
descendants, was considered the chief exemplar of sacred British Imperial
Christianity. John Dee identified with this Arthurian notion of Empire, as he believed himself to be descended from the ancient kings of Britain, and was thus himself a
distant cousin of the Tudor Queen Elisabeth I.

The Tudor monarchy of Dee's time was glorified as the
culmination of the Arthurian tradition, because Henry VIII's break with the
Vatican had eliminated the Pope and made the British Monarch supreme in both church and state.

Another line of thought led to the doctrine of British-Israelism, which held that the British were the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. The doctrine of British-Israelism and the Lost Ten Tribes was intended to forge a political alliance between the British monarchy and the Jews of Amsterdam, through a merger of the Arthurian Imperial tradition with Cabalistic interpretations of the Hebrew scriptures.

What had happened was that after the expulsion of the Jews
from Spain in 1492, some of them went East to the Ottoman Empire - the Islamic world being at the time more religiously tolerant than Christendom. Within Europe itself many of the
Jews moved to Italy, particularly Venice, while other Jews
and marranos migrated from Spain and Portugal to Amsterdam.

The Jewish merchants and bankers of Amsterdam were seen by
the British Monarchy as desirable allies in the financial and
political war with Spain, as well as in the spiritual war with the Vatican. Amsterdam thus became the springboard for the return of the Jews to England, from which they had been expelled in 1290.

To forge ties between Jewish merchants and British
Imperialists, John Dee created the concept of British-Israel, which gave the
British and the Jews a common racial identity, and invoked biblical prophecy to show the inevitable triumph of British Imperialism: the British, as Abraham's seed, were to inherit the earth. Dee also introduced the Jewish Cabala to the British ruling class and its
interlocking network of European royal dynasties. All this
set the stage for the later absorption of European Jewish merchants and bankers into British society.

In essence, the dissemination of the British-Israel
doctrine was an intelligence coup carried out by the British Monarchy.
 
 

It wasn't the only such propaganda effort, of course. Dee
also introduced Rosicrucianism to Germany, and afterward the British
Monarchy continued to use secret societies for intelligence gathering and for the spread of propaganda under the guise of Cabalism and occultism.
 
 

The Literary War Continues
 
 

By the next century, the British Crown had supplanted the
Vatican as the world's pre-eminent manipulator of power, having established British naval supremacy through the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. But the spiritual struggle continued, and British cultural history is strewn with its remnants.
 
 

Edmund Spenser, for example, wrote The Faerie Queene, with
the express purpose of making a Neoplatonic heroine out of Queen
Elisabeth I. This happened at the same time the Jesuits on the European
continent were spearheading an attempt to stamp out Neoplatonic
influences, which were seen as undermining the authority of the Church.
 
 

The Catholics quickly counterattacked. The Catholic Marlowe wrote Faust in order to defame John Dee as a Satanic magician. Marlowe
similarly penned The Jew of Malta as a propaganda work intended to generate public rage over the growing encroachment of Jewish merchants. And Marlowe's Tamburlaine was an attempt to discredit British ideals of Empire.
 
 

Francis Bacon, by contrast, carried on the traditions of
John Dee. On the secular front, Bacon emphasized inductive science and proposed the Royal Society. On the religious side, Bacon espoused Masonry and discussed the British-Jewish alliance in his book New Atlantis.
 
 

Even the Monarchy had a divided loyalty. Queen Elisabeth's
successor James I leaned again toward the Catholics. But his translation and publication of the King James Bible made possible the anti-Catholic practice of individual Bible reading and interpretation.
 
 

By and large, the British Oligarchy became simultaneously
humanist and occultist, pro-Jewish and anti-Catholic. Finally, Mennaseh
ben Israel, the Dutch Cabalist Rabbi, petitioned Cromwell for the return of Jews to England. Mennaseh ben Israel argued that the Messiah and the Millennium could not come until the Jews had spread to every corner of the globe, which included England. To be sure, Menasseh ben Israel was not himself a British Israelite. Instead, he discovered the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel among American Indians, an idea that would later be revived by the Mormons. But Cromwell's Puritan advisors said he should let Jews settle in England (which Cromwell agreed to do), believing they
would convert to pure biblical Christianity (which they didn't). The Jews were actually admitted in 1664, a few years after the deaths of
both Cromwell and Menasseh ben Israel.
 
 

Following that event, the Catholic strain in the Monarchy
was gradually weeded out. When William of Orange took over from the Catholic Stuart King James II in 1688, the domination of the Empire by the
Protestant/Anglican branch of the Royal Family became permanent. The Monarchy, along with its allies the Noble and Jewish banking families, then immediately proceeded to consolidate its political control through the establishment of the Bank of England and the National Debt six years later in 1694. These instruments provided the financial muscle needed to exercise worldwide power: to make loans and to finance enterprises, including the raising of armies and the fostering of revolutions.
 
 

Manifest Destiny Yields to Balance of Power
 
 

The manifest destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race continued to
be important in Crown-supported propaganda. But the Monarchy's actual
policy evolved into one based on the balance of power.
 
 

For example, in the 1890s, as Britain began to fear a
militarist Germany, Cecil Rhodes and William Stead founded a secret society to revive support for British Imperialism. Members included Alfred (later Lord) Milner and Arthur (Lord) Balfour. As governor-general of South Africa, Milner recruited a youthful group of administrators from Oxford and elsewhere. These were known as Milner's Kindergarten. To promote their geopolitical ideals, they established Round Table Groups in the British dependencies and the U.S., as well
as think tanks like the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Council on Foreign Relations. The stated intention of the society was to spread British upper class ideals to the world's masses. In practice, however, the Round Table Groups were principally used as an outlet for anti-German propaganda. In this case - to counter the
growing power of Germany - appeal was made to Britain's
former colony in the New World: namely, to America.
 
 

It was the Round Table connections of "Colonel" E. M.
House, the principal advisor to President Wilson, that lead in 1913 to the
establishment of the Federal Reserve and the graduated Income Tax in the U.S. You needed both of these, of course, to provide the financial basis to create an American war machine. World War I broke out the following year. But prior to the outbreak, House wrote to
Wilson: "Whenever England consents, France and Russia will
close in on Germany and Austria."
 
 

As another example of the balance of power policy, the
Balfour Declaration in 1917 - of British support for a Jewish homeland in
Palestine - served the immediate purpose of increasing Jewish support for the British war effort. But it also followed Crown policy in eventually creating a balance of power in the Middle East.
 
 

It is easy to see what was going on if you look at the
history of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. The first edition was published in Russian in 1901.

Afterward it was translated into English by George Shanks
and issued through the Eyre and Spottiswoode Publishing House, the printer of all official releases by the British Royal Family.
 
 

Coming from such a prestigious printer, the book quickly
sold 30,000 copies before being withdrawn under pressure from the
Rothschilds. But a few years later Henry H. Beamish founded "The Britons," a "Society to protect the Birthright of Britons, and to eradicate Alien influence from our politics and industries." The Britons proceeded to distribute The Protocols worldwide.
 
 

In short - the battle with the Vatican long since won - the
Monarchy kept the Jews on a short leash, through a carrot and stick policy.
Assimilation into society and support for a homeland was the carrot, while The Protocols was the stick.
 

* * * * *

 

THE OLD CHARGES OF FREEMASONRY
 
 

By Bro. H.L. HAYWOOD, Editor THE BUILDER
 
 

THE BUILDER SEPTEMBER 1923
 
 

WHAT THE OLD CHARGES ARE
 
 

I have just come from reading an article in one of the more obscure Masonic periodicals in which an unknown brother lets go with this very familiar remark: "As for me, I am not interested in the musty old documents of the past. I want to know what is going on today." The context makes it clear that he had in mind the Old Charges. A sufficient reply to this ignoramus is that the Old Charges are among the things that are "going on today." Eliminate them from Freemasonry as it now functions and not a subordinate lodge, or a Grand Lodge, or any other regular Masonic body could operate at all; they are to what the Constitution of this nation is to the United States Government, and what its statutes are to every state in the Union. All our constitutions, statutes, laws, rules, by-laws and regulations to someextent or other hark back to the Old Charges, and without them Masonic jurisprudence, or the methods for governing andregulating the legal affairs of the Craft, would be left hanging suspended in the air. In proportion as Masonic leaders, GrandMasters, Worshipful Masters and Jurisprudence Committees ignore, or forget, or misunderstand these Masonic charters they runamuck, and lead the Craft into all manner of wild and unmasonic undertakings. If some magician could devise a method wherebya clear conception of the Old Charges and what they stand for could be installed into the head of every active Mason in the land,it would save us all from embarrassment times without number and it would relieve Grand Lodges and other Grand bodies fromthe needless expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. If there is any practical necessity, any harddown-next-to-the-ground necessity anywhere in Freemasonry today, it is for a general clear-headed understanding of the AncientConstitutions and landmarks of our Order.
 
 

By the OLD CHARGES is meant those ancient documents that have come down to us from the fourteenth century and afterwards in which are incorporated the traditional history, the legends and the rules and regulations of Freemasonry. They are called variously "Ancient Manuscripts", "Ancient Constitutions", "Legend of the Craft", "Gothic Manuscripts", "Old Records", etc, etc. In their physical makeup these documents are sometimes found in the form of handwritten paper or parchment rolls, the units of which are either sewn or pasted together; of hand-written sheets stitched together in book form, and in the familiar printed form of a modern book. Sometimes they are found incorporated in the minute book of a lodge. They range in estimated date from 1390 until the first quarter of the eighteenth century, and a few of them are specimens of beautiful Gothic script. The largest number of them are in the keeping of the British Museum; the Masonic library of West Yorkshire, England, has in custody the second largest number.
 
 

As already said these Old Charges (such is their most familiar

appellation) form the basis of modern Masonic constitutions, and

therefore jurisprudence. They establish the continuity of the

Masonic institution through a period of more than five centuries,

and by fair implication much longer; and at the same time, and by

token of the same significance, prove the great antiquity of

Masonry by written documents, which is a thing no other craft in

existence is able to do. These manuscripts are traditional and

legendary in form and are therefore not to be read as histories

are, nevertheless a careful and critical study of them based on

internal evidence sheds more light on the earliest times of

Freemasonry than any other one source whatever. It is believed that

the Old Charges were used in making a Mason in the old Operative

days; that they served as constitutions of lodges in many cases,

and sometimes functioned as what we today call a warrant.
 
 

The systematic study of these manuscripts began in the middle of

the past century, at which time only a few were known to be in

existence. In 1872 William James Hughan listed 32. Owing largely

to his efforts many others were discovered, so that in 1889 Gould

was able to list 62, and Hughan himself in 1895 tabulated 66

manuscript copies, 9 printed versions and 11 missing versions.

This number has been so much increased of late years that in "Ars

Quatuor Coronatorum", Volume XXXI, page 40 (1918), Brother Roderick

H. Baxter, now Worshipful Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, listed

98, which number included the versions known to be missing. Brother

Baxter's list is peculiarly valuable in that he gives data as to

when and where these manuscripts have been reproduced.
 
 

For the sake of being better able to compare one copy with another,

Dr. W. Begemann classified all the versions into four general

"families", The Grand Lodge Family, The Sloane Family, The Roberts

Family, and The Spencer Family. These family groups he divided

further into branches, and he believed that The Spencer Family was

an offshoot of The Grand Lodge Family, and The Roberts Family an

offshoot of The Sloane Family. In this general manner of grouping,

the erudite doctor was followed by Hughan, Gould and their

colleagues, and his classification still holds in general; attempts

have been made in recent years to upset it, but without much

success. One of the best charts, based on Begemann, is that made

by Brother Lionel Vibert, a copy of which will be published in a

future issue of THE BUILDER.
 
 

The first known printed reference to these Old Charges was made by

Dr. Robert Plot in his Natural History of Staffordshire, published

in 1868. Dr. A.F.A. Woodford and William James Hughan were the

first to undertake a scientific study. Hughan's Old Charges is to

this day the standard work in English. Gould's chapter in his

History of Masonry would probably be ranked second in value,

whereas the voluminous writings of Dr. Begemann, contributed by him

to Zirkelcorrespondez, official organ of the National Grand Lodge

of Germany, would, if only they were translated into English, give

us the most exhaustive treatment of the subject ever yet written.
 
 

The Old Charges are peculiarly English. No such documents have

ever been found in Ireland. Scotch manuscripts are known to be of

English origin. It was once held by Findel and other German

writers that the English versions ultimately derived from German

sources, but this has been disproved. The only known point of

similarity between the Old Charges and such German documents as the

Torgau Ordinances and the Cologne Constitutions is the Legend of

the Four Crowned Martyrs, and this legend is found among English

versions only in the Regius Manuscript. As Gould well says, the

British MSS. have "neither predecessors nor rivals"; they are the

richest and rarest things in the whole field of Masonic writings.
 
 

When the Old Charges are placed side by side it is immediately seen

that in their account of the traditional history of the Craft they

vary in a great many particulars, nevertheless they appear to have

derived from some common origin, and in the main they tell the same

tale, which is as interesting as a fairy story out of Grimm. Did

the original of this traditional account come from some individual

or was it born out of a floating tradition, like the folk tales of

ancient people? Authorities differ much on this point. Begemann

not only declared that the first version of the story originated

with an individual, but even set out what he deemed to be the

literary sources used by that Great Unknown. The doctor's

arguments are powerful. On the other hand, others contend that the

story began as a general vague oral tradition, and that this was in

the course of time reduced to writing. In either event, why was the

story ever written? In all probability an answer to that question

will never be forth-coming, but W. Harry Rylands and others have

been of the opinion that the first written versions were made in

response to a general Writ for Return issued in 1388. Rylands'

words may be quoted: "It appears to me not at all improbable that

much, if not all, of the legendary history was composed in answer

to the Writ for Returns issued to the guilds all over the country,

in the twelfth year of Richard the Second, A.D. 1388."
 
 

(A.Q.C. XVL page 1)
 
 

II. THE TWO OLDEST MANUSCRIPTS
 
 

In 1757 King George II presented to the British Museum a collection

of some 12,000 volumes, the nucleus of which had been laid by King

Henry VII and which came to be known as the Royal Library. Among

these books was a rarely beautiful manuscript written by hand on 64

pages of vellum, about four by five inches in size, which a

cataloger, David Casley, entered as No. 17 A-1 under the title, "A

Poem of Moral Duties: here entitled Constitutiones Artis Gemetrie

Secundem." It was not until Mr. J.O. Halliwell, F.R.S. (afterwards

Halliwell-Phillipps), a non-Mason, chanced to make the discovery

that the manuscript was known to be a Masonic document. Mr.

Phillipps read a paper on the manuscript before the Society of

Antiquaries in 1839, and in the following year published a volume

entitled Early History of Freemasonry in England (enlarged and

revised in 1844), in which he incorporated a transcript of the

document along with a few pages in facsimile. This important work

will be found incorporated in the familiar Universal Masonic

Library, the rusty sheepskin bindings of which strike the eyes on

almost every Masonic book shelf. This manuscript was known as "The

Halliwell", or as "The Halliwell-Phillipps" until some fifty years

atfterwards Gould rechristened it, in honour of the Royal Library

in which it is found, the "Regius", and since then this has become

the more familiar cognomen.
 
 

David Casley, a learned specialist in old manuscripts, dated the

"Regius" as of the fourteenth century. E.A. Bond, another expert,

dated it as of the middle of the fifteenth century. Dr. Kloss, the

German specialist, placed it between 1427 and 1445. But the

majority have agreed on 1390 as the most probable date. "It is

impossible to arrive at absolute certainty on this point," says

Hughan, whose Old Charges should be consulted, "save that it is not

likely to be older than 1390, but may be some twenty years or so

later." Dr.W. Begemann made a study of the document that has never

been equalled for thoroughness, and arrived at a conclusion that

may be given in his own words: it was written "towards the end of

the 14th or at least quite at the beginning of the 15th century

(not in Gloucester itself, as being too southerly, but) in the

north of Gloucestershire or in the neighbouring north of

Herefordshire, or even possibly in the south of Worcestershire."

(A.Q.C. VII, page 35.)
 
 

In 1889 an exact facsimile of this famous manuscript was published

in Volume I of the Antigrapha produced by the Quatuor Coronati

Lodge of Research, and was edited by the then secretary of that

lodge, George William Speth, himself a brilliant authority, who

supplied a glossary that is indispensable to the amateur student.

Along with it was published a commentary by R.F. Gould, one of the

greatest of all his Masonic papers, though it is exasperating in

its rambling arrangement and general lack of conclusiveness.
 
 

The Regius Manuscript is the only one of all the versions to be

written in meter, and may have been composed by a priest, if one

may judge by certain internal evidences, though the point is

disputed. There are some 800 lines in the poem, the strictly

Masonic portion coming to an end at line 576, after which begins

what Hughan calls a "sermonette" on moral duties, in which there is

quite a Roman Catholic vein with references to "the sins seven",

"the sweet lady" (referring to the Virgin) and to holy water.

There is no such specific Mariolatry in any other version of the

Old Charges, though the great majority of them express loyalty to

"Holy Church" and all of them, until Anderson's familiar version,

are specifically Christian, so far as religion is concerned.
 
 

The author furnishes a list of fifteen "points" and fifteen

"articles", all of which are quite specific instructions concerning

the behaviour of a Craftsman: this portion is believed by many to

have been the charges to an initiate as used in the author's

period, and is therefore deemed the most important feature of the

book as furnishing us a picture of the regulations of the Craft at

that remote date. The Craft is described as having come into

existence as an organized fraternity in "King Adelstoune's day",

but in this the author contradicts himself, because he refers to

things "written in old books" (I modernize spelling of quotations)

and takes for granted a certain antiquity for the Masonry, which,

as in all the Old Charges, is made synonymous with Geometry, a

thing very different in those days from the abstract science over

which we laboured during our school days.
 
 

The Regius Poem is evidently a book about Masonry, rather than a

document of Masonry, and may very well have been written by a

non-Mason, though there is no way in which we can verify such

theories, especially seeing that we know nothing about the document

save what it has to tell us about itself, which is little.
 
 

In his Commentary on the Regius MS, R.F. Gould produced a paragraph

that has ever since served as the pivot of a great debate. It

reads as follows and refers to the "sermonette" portion which deals

with "moral duties": "These rules of decorum read very curiously in

the present age, but their inapplicability to the circumstances of

the working Masons of the fourteen or fifteenth century will be at

once apparent. They were intended for the gentlemen of those days,

and the instruction for behaviour in the presence of a lord - at

table and in the society of ladies - would have all been equally

out of place in a code of manners drawn up for the use of a Guild

or Craft of Artisans."
 
 

The point of this is that there must have been present among the

Craftsmen of that time a number of men not engaged at all in

labour, and therefore were, as we would now describe them,

"speculatives." This would be of immense importance if Gould had

made good his point, but that he was not able to do. The greatest

minds of the period in question were devoted to architecture, and

there is no reason not to believe that among the Craftsmen were

members of good families. Also the Craft was in contact with the

clergy all the while, and therefore many of its members may well

have stood in need of rules for preserving proper decorum in great

houses and among the members of the upper classes. From Woodford

until the present time the great majority of Masonic scholars have

believed the Old Charges to have been used by a strictly operative

craft and it is evident that they will continue to do so until more

conclusive evidence to the contrary is forthcoming than Gould's

surmise.
 
 

Next to the Regius the oldest manuscript is that known as the

Cooke. It was published by R. Spencer, London, 1861 and was edited

by Mr. Matthew Cooke, hence his name. In the British Museum's

catalogue it is listed as "Additional M.S. 23,198", and has been

dated by Hughan at 1450 or thereabouts, an estimate in which most

of the specialists have concurred. Dr. Begemann believed the

document to have been "compiled and written in the southeastern

portion of the western Midlands, say, in Gloucestershire or

Oxfordshire, possibly also in southeast Worcestershire or southwest

Warwickshire. The 'Book of Charges' which forms the second part of

the document is certainly of the 14th century, the historical or

first part, of quite the beginning of the 15th." (A.Q.C. IX, page

18)
 
 

The Cooke MS. was most certainly in the hands of Mr. George Payne,

when in his second term as Grand Master in 1720 he compiled the

"General Regulations", and which Anderson included in his own

version of the "Constitutions" published in 1723. Anderson himself

evidently made use of lines 901-960 of the MS.
 
 

The Lodge Quatuor Coronati reprinted the Cooke in facsimile in Vol.

II of its Antigrapha in 1890, and included therewith a Commentary

by George William Speth which is, in my own amateur opinion, an

even more brilliant piece of work than Gould's Commentary on the

Regius. Some of Speth's conclusions are of permanent value. I

paraphrase his findings in my own words:
 
 

The M.S. is a transcript of a yet older document and was written by

a Mason. There were several versions of the Charges to a Mason in

circulation at the time. The MS. is in two parts, the former of

which is an attempt at a history of the Craft, the latter of which

is a version of the Charges. Of this portion Speth writes that it

is "far and away the earliest, best and purest version of the 'Old

Charges' which we possess." The MS. mentions nine "articles", and

these evidently were legal enforcements at the time; the nine

"points" given were probably not legally binding but were morally

so. "Congregations" of Masons were held here and there but no

"General Assembly" (or "Grand Lodge"); Grand Masters existed in

fact but not in name and presided at one meeting of a congregation

only. "Many of our present usages may be traced in their original

form to this manuscript."
 
 

III. ANDERSON'S CONSTITUTIONS AND OTHER

PRINTED VERSIONS
 
 

One of the most important of all the versions of the Old Charges is

not an ancient original at all, but a printed edition issued in

1722, and known as the Roberts, though it is believed to be a copy

of an ancient document. Of this W.J. Hughan writes: "The only copy

known was purchased by me at Brother Spencer's sale of Masonic

works, etc. (London, 1875), for 8 pounds 10s., on behalf of the

late Brother R.F. Bower, and is now in the magnificent library of

the Grand Lodge of Iowa, U.S.A." This tiny volume is easily the

most priceless Masonic literary possession in America, and was

published in exact facsimile by the National Masonic Research

Society, with an eloquent Introduction by Dr. Joseph Fort Newton in

1916. The Reverend Edmund Coxe edited a famous reprint in 1871. It

is a version meriting the most careful study on the part of the

Masonic student because it had a decided influence on the

literature and jurisprudence of the Craft after its initial

appearance. It appeared in one of the most interesting and

momentous periods of modern Speculative Masonry, namely, in the

years between the organization of the first Grand Lodge in 1717 and

the appearance of Anderson's Constitution in 1723. It is the

earliest printed version of the Old Charges known to exist.
 
 

Another well-known printed version is that published in 1724 and

known as the Briscoe. This was the second publication of its kind.

The third printed version was issued in 1728-9 by Benjamin Cole,

and known as the Cole Edition in consequence. This version is

considered a literary gem in that the main body of the text is

engraved throughout in most beautiful style. A special edition of

this book was made in Leeds, 1897, the value of which was enhanced

by one of W.J. Hughan's famous introductions. For our own modern

and practical purposes the most important of all the versions ever

made was that compiled by Dr. James Anderson in 1723 and everywhere

known familiarly as "Anderson's Constitution." A second edition

appeared, much changed and enlarged, in 1738; a third, by John

Entick, in 1756; and so on every few years until by 1888 twenty-two

editions in all had been issued. The Rev.A.F.A. Woodford, Hughan's

collaborator, edited an edition of The Constitution Book of 1723

as Volume I of Kenning's Masonic Archeological Library, under date

of 1878. This is a correct and detailed reproduction of the book

exactly as Anderson first published it, and is valuable

accordingly.
 
 

Anderson's title page is interesting to read: "The CONSTITUTION,

History, Laws, Charges, Orders, Regulations, and Usages, of the

Right Worshipful FRATERNITY of ACCEPTED FREE MASONS; collected from their general RECORDS, and their faithful TRADITIONS of many Ages. To be read At the Admission of a NEW BROTHER, when the Master or Warden shall begin, or order some other Brother to read as follows, etc." After the word "follows" Anderson's own version of Masonic

history begins with this astonishing statement:
 
 

"Adam, our first Parent, created after the Image of God, the great

Architect of the Universe, must have had the Liberal Sciences,

particularly Geometry, written on his Heart, etc."
 
 

Thus did Dr. Anderson launch his now thrice familiar account of the

history of Freemasonry, an account which, save in the hands of the

most expert Masonic antiquarian, yields very little dependable

historical fact whatsoever, but which, owing to the prestige of its

author, came to be accepted for generations as a bona fide history

of the Craft. It will be many a long year yet before the rank and

file of brethren shall have learned that Dr. Anderson's "history"

belongs in the realm of fable for the most part, and has never been

accepted as anything else by knowing ones.
 
 

The established facts concerning Dr. Anderson's own private history

comprise a record almost as brief as the short and simple annals of

the poor. Brother J.T. Thorp, one of the most distinguished of the

veterans among living English Masonic scholars, has given it in an

excellent brief form. (A.Q.C. XVIII, page 9.)
 
 

"Of this distinguished Brother we know very little. He is believed

to have been born, educated and made a Mason in Scotland,

subsequently settling in London as a Presbyterian Minister. He is

mentioned for the first time in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge

of England on September 29th, 1721, when he was appointed to revise

the old Gothic Constitutions - this revision was approved by the

Grand Lodge of England on September 29th in 1723, in which year

Anderson was Junior Grand Warden under the Duke of Wharton - he

published a second edition of the Book of Constitutions in 1738,

and died in 1739. This is about all that is known of him."
 
 

In his 1738 edition Anderson so garbled up his account of the

founding of Grand Lodge, and contradicted his own earlier story in

such fashion, that R.F. Gould was inclined to believe either that

he had become disgruntled and full of spleen, or else that he was

in his dotage. Be that as it may, Anderson's historical pages are

to be read with extreme caution. His Constitution itself, or that

part dealing with the principles and regulations of the Craft, is

most certainly a compilation made of extracts of other versions of

the Old Charges pretty much mixed with the Doctor's own ideas in

the premises, and so much at variance with previous customs that

the official adoption thereof caused much dissension among the

lodges, and may have had something to do with the disaffection

which at last led to the formation of the "Antient" Grand Lodge of

1751 or thereabouts. The "Anderson" of this latter body, which in

time waxed very powerful, was Laurence Dermott, a brilliant

Irishman, who as Grand Secretary was leader of the "Antient" forces

for many years, and who wrote for the body its own Constitution,

called Ahiman Rezon, which cryptic title is believed by some to

mean "Worthy Brother Secretary." The first edition of this

important version was made in 1756, a second in 1764, and so on

until by 1813 an eighth had been published. A very complete

collection of all editions is in the Masonic Library at

Philadelphia. A few of our Grand Lodges, Pennsylvania among them,

continue to call their Book of Constitutions, The Ahiman Rezon.
 
 

Anderson himself is still on the rack of criticism. Learned

brethren are checking his statements (see Brother Vibert's article

in THE BUILDER for August), sifting his pages and leaving no stone

unturned in order to appraise correctly his contributions to

Masonic history. But there is not so much disagreement on the

Constitution. In that document, which did not give satisfaction to

many upon its appearance, Anderson, as Brother Lionel Vibert has

well said, "builded better than he knew," because he produced a

document which until now serves as the groundwork of nearly all

Grand Lodge Constitutions having jurisdiction over Symbolic

Masonry, and which once and for all established Speculative

Freemasonry on a basis apart, and with no sectarian character,

either as to religion or politics. For all his faults as a

historian (and these faults were as much of his age as of his own

shortcomings), Anderson is a great figure in our annals and

deserves at the hand of every student a careful and, reverent

study.
 
 

IV. CONCLUSION
 
 

In concluding this very brief and inconclusive sketch of a great

subject, I return to my first statement. In the whole circle of

Masonic studies there is not, for us Americans at any rate, any

subject of such importance as this of the Old Charges, especially

insofar as they have to do with our own Constitutions and

Regulations, and that is very much indeed. Many false conceptions

of Freemasonry may be directly traced to an unlearned, or wilful

misinterpretation of the Old Charges, what they are, what they mean

to us, and what their authority may be. In this land jurisprudence

is a problem of supreme importance, and in a way not very well

comprehended by our brethren in other parts, who often wonder why

we should be so obsessed by it. We have forty-nine Grand Lodges,

each of which is sovereign in its own state, and all of which must

maintain fraternal relations with scores of Grand bodies abroad as

well as with each other. These Grand Lodges assemble each year to

legislate for the Craft, and therefore, in the very nature of

things, the organization and government of the Order is for us

Americans a much more complicated and important thing than it can

be in other lands. To know what the Old Charges are, and to

understand Masonic constitutional law and practice, is for our

leaders and law-givers a prime necessity.
 
 

(Note: - A study of the Comacine question should have been

published in the Study Club this month, but I was prevented from

writing it by a rather extended illness, and therefore substituted

the present article, already prepared. I shall hope to include the

Comacine paper next month or the month thereafter. I ask my

readers to let me hear of any errors detected in order that the

same may be corrected before this article goes into book form.

Also I regret the fact that we were unable to incorporate in the

present number Brother Lionel Vibert's Chart of the Old Charges;

this will appear in a future issue in the form of a two-page

spread, valuable for reference uses and for framing. I have to

thank Brothers Vibert and R.I. Clegg for a critical appraisal of

this present chapter. H. L. H.)
 
 

WORKS CONSULTED IN PREPARING THIS ARTICLE
 
 

Gould's History of Freemasonry, Vol. 1, beginning on page 56;

A.Q.C., I, 127; A.Q.C., I, 147; A.Q.C., I, 152; A.Q.C., IV, 73;

A.Q.C., IV, 83; A.Q.C., IV, 171; A.Q.C., V, 37; A.Q.C., IV, 201;

A.Q.C, IV, 36,198; A.Q.C., VII, 119; A.Q.C., VIII, 224; Hughan, Old

Charges; A.Q.C., IX, 18; A.Q.C., IX, 85; A.Q.C., XI, 205; A.Q.C.,

XIV, 153; A.Q.C., XVI, 4; A.Q.C., XVIII, 16; A.Q.C., XX, 249;

A.Q.C., XXI, 161, 211; A.Q.C., XXVIII, 189; Gould's Concise

History, chapter V; Gould, Collected Essays, 3; Stillson, History

of Freemasonry and Concordant Orders, 157; A.Q.C., XXXIII, 5; The

Masonic Review, Vol. XIII, 297; Edward Conder, Records of the Hole

Craft and Fellowship of Masons; Vibert, Story of the Craft; Vibert,

Freemasonry Before the Era of Grand Lodge; Findel, History of

Freemasonry; Hughan, Cole's Constitutions; Fort, Early History and

Antiquities of Freemasonry; Pierson, Traditions, Origin and Early

History of Freemasonry; Hughan, Ancient Masonic Rolls: Waite, New

Encyclopedia of Freemasonry; Clegg, Mackey's Revised History; Ward,

Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods: A.Q.C., Antigapha, all volumes.
 
 

THE OLD CHARGES AND WHAT THEY MEAN TO US Supplementary References

Mackey's Encyclopedia (Revised Edition)
 
 

Ahiman Rezon, 37; Antients, 55; Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, 80; Arts,

80; Benjamin Cole, 157; Charges of 1722, 143; Congregations, 174;

Cooke's Manuscript, 178; Dr. James Anderson, 57; Dr. Robert Plot,

570; Four Crowned Martyrs, 272; George B.F. Kloss, 383; Gothic

Constitutions, 304; Halliwell Manuscript, 316; John Entick, 246;

Laurence Dermott, 206; Legend, 433; Legend of the Craft, 434; Old

Charges, 143; Old Manuscripts, 464; Old Records, 612; Old

Regulations, 527; Operative Masonry, 532; Parts, 544; Plot

Manuscript, 569; Points, 572; Regius Manuscript, 616; Roberts'

Manuscript, 627; Speculative Masonry, 704.