Past Master, Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076,
THE BUILDER AUGUST 1923
Bro. Lionel Vibert, of Marline, Lansdowne,
THE GRAND LODGE THAT WAS brought into existence in 1717 did not find it necessary to possess a Constitution of its own for some years. Exactly what went on between 1717 and 1721 we do not know; almost our only authority being the account given by
Dr James Anderson
Dr. Anderson was born in
Nor can it be stated with confidence when he joined the Craft in
HOW HE CAME TO WRITE THE WORK
His own account of the work, as given in 1738, is that he was ordered to digest the Old Gothic Constitutions in a new and better method by Montagu on 29th September, 1721, that on 27th December, Montagu appointed fourteen learned brothers to examine the MS., and that after they had approved it was ordered to be printed on 25th March, 1722. He goes on to say that it was produced in print for the approval of Grand Lodge on 17th January, 1722-3, when Grand Master Wharton's manner of constituting a lodge was added. In the book itself are printed a formal Approbation by Grand Lodge and the Masters and Wardens of twenty lodges (with the exception of two Masters), which is undated, and also a copy of a resolution of the Quarterly Communication of 17th January, 1722-3, directing the publication and recommending it to the Craft.
With regard to the committee of fourteen learned brethren and the three occasions on which the book is alleged to have been considered in Grand Lodge, the Approbation itself states that the author first submitted his text for the perusal of the late and present Deputy Grand Master's and of other learned brethren and also the Masters of lodges, and then delivered it to Grand Master Montagu, who by the advice of several brethren ordered the same to be handsomely printed. This is not quite the same thing. And it is to be noted that in 1735
The true state of the case appears to be that Anderson undertook to write the work as a private venture of his own and that this was sanctioned, since it was desirable that the Regulations at least published, without any very careful examination of his text, or of so much of it as was ready, and that when it was published it was discovered, but too late, that he had taken what were felt by many to be unwarrantable liberties not only with the traditional Charges but also with Payne's Regulations.
THE BOOK IS ANALYZED
In using the term Constitutions he was following the phraseology of several of the versions of the Old Charges, and in fact the word occurs (in Latin) in the Regius, though Anderson never saw that. It was apparently traditional in the Craft. The contents of the work itself indicate that the various portions were put together at different dates and
Taking the Approbation first, this is signed by officers of twenty lodges; the Master and both Wardens have all signed in all but two. In those, numbers eight and ten, the place for the Master's signature is blank. Mr. Mathew Birkhead is shown as Master of number five; and he died on the 30th December, 1722. Accordingly the Approbation must be of an earlier date and of the twenty lodges we know that number nineteen was constituted on 25th November, 1722, and number twenty if, as is probable, it is of later date, will have been constituted possibly on the same day but more probably a few days later. Thus we can date the Approbation within narrow limits. In his 1738 edition Anderson gives a series of the numbers of lodges on the roll of Grand Lodge at different dates which cannot be checked from any independent source, and he suggests that on 25th March, 1722, there were already at least twenty-four lodges in existence because he asserts that representatives of twenty-four paid their homage to the Grand Master on that date; and that those of twenty-five did so on 17th January, 1722-3. Because of
Philip Duke of Wharton
The Approbation is signed by Wharton as Grand Master, Desaguliers as Deputy, and Timson and Hawkins as Grand Wardens. According to the story as told by
But we have not yet done with this Approbation for the further question arises, At what meeting of Grand Lodge was it drawn up? The license to publish refers to a meeting of 17th January, 1722-23, and that there was such a meeting is implied by the reference to this document in the official minutes of June, when the accuracy of this part of it is not impugned. But this Approbation was as we have seen drawn up between the end of November and the end of December, 1722, and between these limits an earlier date, is more probable than a later. No such meeting is mentioned by Anderson himself in 1738. But the explanation of this no doubt is that he now has his tale of the proclamation of Wharton at that meeting on 17th January, and any references to a meeting of a month or so earlier presided over by that nobleman would stultify the narrative. It is probable that a meeting was in fact held, and that its occurrence was suppressed by Anderson when he came to publish his narrative of the doings of Grand Lodge fifteen years later. The alternative would be that the whole document was unauthorized, but so impudent an imposture could never have escaped contemporary criticism. Truly the ways of the deceiver are hard.
The Frontispiece to the Constitutions of 1723, which was used over again without alteration in 1738, represents a classical arcade in the foreground of which stand two noble personages, each attended by three others of whom one of those on the spectator's left carries cloaks and pairs of gloves. The principal personages can hardly be intended for any others than Montagu and Wharton; and Montagu is wearing the robes of the Garter, and is handing his successor a roll of the Constitutions, not a book. This may be intended for
We can date the historical portion of the work from the circumstance that it ends with the words: "our present worthy Grand Master, the most noble Prince John, Duke of Montagu." We can be fairly certain that
Accordingly we may now date the several portions of the work with some degree of certainty. The times are as follows:
The plate; at any time after June 25th, 1722.
The dedication, id., but probably written immediately before publication.
The historical portion; prior to 25th June, 1722.
The charges printed with the preceding section, but drafted conjointly with the Regulations.
The postscript; the same.
The General Regulations, after Wharton's installation
The method of constituting a new Lodge; printed with the preceding section.
The Approbation; between 25th November and end of December, 1722.
The songs and sanction to publish; after January 17th, 1722-3, and probably at the last moment.
Of these sections the plate and Approbation have already been dealt with. The dedication calls for no special notice; it is an extravagant eulogy of the accuracy and diligence of the author. The songs are of little interest except the familiar Apprentice's Song, and this is now described as by our late Brother Matthew Birkhead.
THE HISTORICAL PORTION
This requires a somewhat extended notice. The legendary history, as it is perhaps not necessary to remind my readers, brought Masonry or Geometry from the children of Lamech to Solomon; then jumped to France and Charles Martel; and then by St. Alban, Athelstan and Edwin, this worthy Craft was established in
"The three first men in the world were a gardener, a ploughman and a grazier; and if any man object that the second of these was a murderer, I desire he would consider that as soon as he was so he quitted our profession, and turned builder." It is difficult to imagine that
From this point he develops the history in his own fashion, but he incorporates freely and with an entire disregard for textual accuracy any passages in the Old Charges that suit him and he has actually used the Cooke Text, as also some text closely allied to the William Watson. We know the Cooke was available to him; we learn from Stukeley that it had been produced in Grand Lodge on 24 June, 1721. Anderson, in 1738, omits all reference to this incident, but asserts that in 1718 Payne desired the brethren to bring to Grand Lodge any old writings and records, and that several copies of the Gothic Constitutions (as he calls them) were produced and collated. He also alleges that in 1720 several valuable manuscripts concerning the Craft were too hastily burnt by some scrupulous brethren.
The former of these statements we should receive with caution; for the very reason that the 1723 Constitutions show no traces of such texts; the latter may be true and the manuscripts may have been rituals, or they may have been versions of the Old Charges, but there was nothing secret about those. The antiquary Plot had already printed long extracts from them.
Returning to the narrative we are told that Noah and his sons were Masons, which is a statement for which
There is an elaborate account of Zerubbabel's temple which may have some such significance, and the Tabernacle of Moses, Aholiab and Bezaleel is also mentioned at some length, Moses indeed being a Grand Master. He also inserts for no apparent reason a long note on the words Hiram Abiff, and in this case the suggestion that there is a motive for his doing so connected with ritual is of more cogency. It is an obvious suggestion that the name was of importance to the Craft at this date, that is to say early in 1722, and that the correctness of treating Abiff as a surname instead of as equivalent to his "father" was a matter the Craft were taking an interest in.
The Charges, of which there are six, are alleged to be extracted from ancient records of lodges beyond Sea, and of those in
Of the six Charges themselves the first caused trouble immediately on its appearance. It replaced the old invocation of the Trinity and whatever else there may have been of statements of religious and Christian belief in the practice of the lodges by a vague statement that we are only to be obliged to that religion in which all men agree. Complete religious tolerance has in fact become the rule of our Craft, but the Grand Lodge of 1723 was not ready for so sudden a change and it caused much ill feeling and possibly many secessions. It was the basis of a series of attacks on the new Grand Lodge.
CONSTITUTING A NEW LODGE
The manner of constituting a New Lodge is noteworthy for its reference to the "Charges of a Master," and the question, familiar to us today: Do you submit to these charges as Masters have done in all ages? It does not appear that these are the six ancient Charges of a previous section; they were something quite distinct. But not until 1777 are any Charges of the Master known to have been printed. It is also worthy of notice that the officers to be appointed Wardens of the new lodge are Fellow Crafts. There is also a reference to the Charges to the Wardens which are to be given by a Grand Warden. This section appeared in the Constitutions of the United Grand Lodge as late as 1873.
The Regulations, as I have already mentioned, have come down to us only as rewritten by
The Order of the 17th January 1722-3 printed at the end of the Constitutions page 91 for the publishing the said Constitutions as read purporting, that they had been before approved in Manuscript by the Grand Lodge and were then (viz) 17th January aforesaid produced in print and approved by the Society.
Then the Question was moved, that the said General Regulations be confirmed, so far as they are consistent with the Ancient Rules of Masonry. The previous question was moved and put, whether the words "so far as they are consistent with the Ancient Rules of Masonry" be part of the Question. Resolved in the affirmative, But the main Question was not put. And the Question was moved that it is not in the Power of any person, or Body of men, to make any alteration, or Innovation in the Body of Masonry without the consent first obtained of the Annual Grand Lodge. And the Question being put accordingly Resolved in the Affirmative. We would record these proceedings today in somewhat different form, perhaps as follows:
It was proposed (and seconded) that the said General Regulations be confirmed so far as they are consistent with the Ancient Rules of Masonry. An amendment to omit the words "so far ... Masonry" was negatived. But in place of the original proposition the following resolution was adopted by a majority: That it is not, etc.
The effect of this is that it indicates pretty clearly that there was a strong feeling in Grand Lodge that Anderson's version of the Regulations had never been confirmed; that there was a difference of opinion as to now confirming them, even partially; and that in fact this was not done, but a resolution was adopted instead condemning alterations made without the consent of Grand Lodge at its annual meeting first obtained. I should perhaps say that the word "purporting" does not here have the meaning we would today attach to it; it has no sense of misrepresentation.
Regulation XIII, or one sentence in it rather, "Apprentices must be admitted Masters and Fellow Craft only here, (i.e. in Grand Lodge) unless by a Dispensation," was at one time the battle ground of the Two Degree versus Three Degree schools; but it is generally admitted now, I believe, that only two degrees are referred to, namely the admission and the Master's Part.
The order of the words is significant. In the Regulation they read "Masters and Fellow Craft." In the resolution of 27 November, 1725 by which the rule was annulled, the wording is "Master" in the official minutes, which is a strong indication that the original Regulation only referred to one degree. In 1738 Anderson deliberately alters what is set out as the original wording and makes it read "Fellow Crafts and Masters," while in the new Regulation printed alongside of it the alteration of 27 November, 1725, is quoted as "Masters and Fellows" both being inaccurate; and he even gives the date wrongly.
The second Regulation enacts that the Master of a particular lodge has the right of congregating the members of his lodge into a chapter upon any emergency as well as to appoint the time and place of their usual forming. But it would be quite unsafe to assume that this is another reference to the Royal Arch; it appears to deal with what we would now call an emergent meeting.
Payne's, or rather Anderson's, Regulations were the foundation on which the law of the Craft was based, it being developed by a continual process of emendation and addition, and their phraseology can still be traced in our English Constitutions today.
In the next edition of the Constitutions, 1754, the Regulations were rewritten by Entick, but the history was preserved. Entick also reverted to the Charges as drawn up in 1723 into which, especially the first, Anderson had introduced various modifications in 1738, and those Charges are the basis of the Ancient Charges to be found today in the Constitutions of the United Grand Lodge of England, the only differences, except as regards the first Charge, not amounting to more than verbal modifications.
OUR DEBT TO
While as students we are bound to receive any statement that
NOTE: The Grand Lodge of All England is governed by the authority of the Old York Constitutions of A.D. 1600 (referred to in the article above as "Old Manuscript Constitutions" and "Old Gothic Constitutions") and rejects the innovations contained in the Moderns version of the Craft brought about by the activities detailed in the article written by Vibert. The Grand Lodge at York has published this article as an aid to understanding at this time when the vital issues of authenticity of origin and regularity are being re-visited and evaluated by serious students of genuine Anglo-Saxon Freemasonry.