• THE ASTROLOGERS ABD THE FREEMASONS

    THE ASTROLOGERS AND THE FREEMASONS

    We have seen, in the preceding chapter, that Nicolai had sought to

    trace the origin of Freemasonry to a society organized in 1646 by

    a sect of philosophers who were contemporary with, but entirely

    distinct from, those who founded the Royal Society.Though he does

    not explicitly state the fact,yet, from the names of the persons

    to whom he refers, there can be no doubt that he alluded to the

    Astrologers, who at that time were very popular in England.

     

    Judicial astrology, or the divination of the future by the stars,

    was, of all the delusions to which the superstition of the Middle

    Ages gave birth, the most popular.It prevailed over all Europe,

    so that it was practiced by the most learned, and the predictions

    of its professors were sought with avidity and believed with

    confidence by the most wealthy and most powerful. Astrologers often

    formed a part of the household of princes, who followed their

    counsels in the most important matters relating to the future,

    while men and women of every rank sought these charlatans that they

    might have their nativities cast and secure the aid of their occult

    art in the recovery of stolen goods or the prognostications of

    happy marriages or of successful journeys.

     

    Astrology was called the Daughter of Astronomy, and the scholars

    who devoted themselves to the study of the heavenly bodies for the

    purposes of pure science were often called upon to use their

    knowledge of the stars for the degrading purpose of astrological

    predictions.Kepler, the greatest astronomer of that age, was

    compelled against his will to pander to the popular superstition,

    that he might thus gain a livelihood and be enabled to pursue his

    nobler studies.In one of his works he complains that the scanty

    reward of an astronomer would not provide him with bread, if men

    did not entertain hopes of reading the future in the heavens. And

    so he tampered with the science that he loved and adorned, and made

    predictions for inquisitive consulters, although, at the same time,

    he declared to his friends that "they were nothing but worthless

    conjecture."

     

    Cornelius Agrippa, though he cultivated alchemy, a delusion but

    little more respectable than that of astrology, when commanded by

    his patroness, the Queen mother of France, to practice the latter,

    expressed his annoyanceat the task.Of the Astrologers he said,

    in his great work on the Vanity of the Arts and Sciences, "these

    fortune tellers do find entertainment among princes and

    magistrates, from whom they receive large salaries; but, indeed,

    there is no class of men who are more pernicious to a commonwealth.

    For, as their skill lies in the adaptation of ambigu ous

    predictions to events after they have happened, so it happens that

    a man who lives by falsehood shall by one accidental truth obtain

    more credit than he will lose by a hundred manifest errors."

     

    The 16th and 17th centuries were the golden age of astrology in

    England. We know all that is needed of this charlatanism and of the

    character of its professors from the autobiography of William

    Lilly, himself an English astrologer of no mean note; perhaps,

    indeed, the best-educated and the most honest of those who

    practiced this delusion in England in the 17th century, and who is

    one of those to whom Nicolai ascribes the formation of that secret

    society, in 1646, which invented Freemasonry.

     

    It will be remembered that Nicolai says that of the society of

    learned men who established Freemasonry, the first members were

    Elias Ashmole, the skillful antiquary, who was also a student of

    astrology, William Lilly, a famous astrologer, George Wharton,

    likewise an astrologer, William Oughtred, a mathematician, and some

    others.He also says that the annual festival of the Astrologers

    gave rise to this association. "It had previously held ," says

    Nicolai, "one meeting at Warrington, in Lancashire, but it was

    first firmly established at London."

     

    Their meetings, the same writer asserts, were held at Masons' Hall,

    in Masons' Alley, Basinghall Street.Many of them were members of

    the Masons' Company, and they all entered it and assumed the title

    of Free and Accepted Masons, adopting, besides, all its external

    marks of distinction.

     

    Such is the theory which makes the Astrologers, incorporating

    themselves with the Operative Masons, who met at their Hall in

    BasinghallStreet, the founders of the Speculative Order of Free

    and Accepted Masonsas they exist at the present day.

     

    It is surprising that in a question of history a man of letters of

    the reputation of Nicolai should have indulged in such bold

    assumptions and in statements so wholly bare of authority.But

    unfortunately it is thus that Masonic history has always been

    written.

     

    I shall strive to eliminate the truth from the fiction in this

    narrative.The task will be a laborious one, for, as Goethe has

    well said in one of his maxims " It is much easier to perceive

    error than to find truth.The former lies on the surface, so that

    it is easily reached ; the latter lies in the depth, which it is

    not every man's business to search for."

     

    The Astrologers, to whose meeting in the Masons' Hall is ascribed

    the origin of the Freemasons, were not a class of persons who would

    have been likely to have united in such an attempt, which showed at

    least a desire for some intellectual progress.Lilly, perhaps the

    best-educated and the most honest of these charlatans, has in the

    narrative of his life, written by himself, given us some notion of

    the character of many of them who lived in London when he practiced

    the art in that city. (1)

     

    Of Evans, who was his first teacher, he tells us that he was a

    clergyman - of Staffordshire, whence he " had been in a manner

    enforced to fly for some offences very scandalous committed by him

    " ; of another astrologer, Alexander Hart, he says " he was but a

    cheat." Jeffry Neve he calls, a smatterer; William Poole was a

    frequenter of taverns withlewd people and fled on one occasion

    from London under the suspicion of complicity intheft; John

    Booker, though honest was ignorant of his profession ; William

    Hodges dealt with angels, but " his life answered not in holiness

    and sanctity to what it should," for he was addicted to profanity;

    and John A Windsor was given to debauchery.

     

    Men of such habits of life were not likely to interest themselves

    in the advancement of science or in the establishment of a society

    of speculativephilosophers.It is true that these charlatans

    lived at an earlier period thanthat ascribed by Nicolai to the

    organization

     

    (1) "The Life of William Lilly, Student in Astology, wrote by

    himself in the 66th year of his Age, at Hersham, in the Parish of

    Walton upon Thames, in the County of Surrey, Propria Manu."

     

    of the society in Masons' Hall, but in the few years that elapsed

    it is not probable that the disciples of astrology had much

    improved in their moral or intellectual condition.

     

    Of certain of the men named by Nicolai as having organized the

    Society of Freemasons in 1646, we have some knowledge.Elias

    Ashmole, the celebrated antiquary, and founder of the Ashmolean

    Museum in the University of Oxford, is an historical character.He

    wrote his own life, in the form of a most minute diary, extending

    from July 2, 1633, to October 9, 1687. In this diary, in which he

    registers the most trivial as well as the most important events of

    his life-recording even the cutting of his wisdom teeth, or the

    taking of a sudorific-he does not make the slightest allusion to

    the transaction referred to by Nicolai.The silence of so babbling

    a chronicler as to such an important event is itself sufficient

    proof that it did not occur. What Ashmole has said about

    Freemasonry will be presently seen.

     

    Lilly, another supposed actor in this scene, also wrote his life

    with great minuteness.His complete silence on the subject is

    equally suggestive. Nicolai says that the persons he cites were

    either already members of the Company of Masons or at once became

    so.Now, Lilly was a member of the Salter's Company, one of the

    twelve great livery companies, and would not have left it to join

    a minor company, which the Masons was.

     

    Oughtred could not have been united with Ashmole in organizing a

    society in 1646, for the latter, in a note to Lilly's life, traces

    his acquaintance with him to the residence of both as neighbors in

    Surrey.Now, Ashmole did not remove to Surrey until the year 1675,

    twenty nine years after his supposed meeting with Oughtred at the

    Masons Hall.

     

    Between Wharton and Lilly, who were rival almanac-makers, there

    was, in 1646, a bitter feud, which was not reconciled until years

    afterward.In an almanac which Wharton published in 1645 he had

    called Lilly " an impudent, senseless fellow, and by name William

    Lilly." It is not likely that they would have been engaged in the

    fraternal task of organizing a great society at that very time.

     

    Dr. Pearson, another one of the supposed founders, is celebrated in

    literary and theological history as the author of an Exposition of

    the Creed.Ofamansoprominentastohavebeenthe

    MasterofJesus College, Cambridge, and afterward Bishop of

    Chester, Ashmole makes no mention in his diary.If he had ever met

    him or been engaged with him in so important an affair, this

    silence in so minute a journal of the transactions of his every-day

    life would be inexplicable.

     

    But enough has been said to show the improbability of any such

    meeting as Nicolai records. Even Ashmole and Lilly, the two

    leaders, were unknown to each other until the close of the year

    1646.Ashmole says in his diary of that year: Mr. Jonas Moore

    brought and acquainted me with Mr. William Lilly: it was on a

    Friday night, and I think on the 20th Nov. (1646)."

     

    That there was an association, or a club or society, of Astrologers

    about that time in London is very probable.Pepys, in his memoirs,

    says that in October, 166o, he went to Mr. Lilly's, "there being a

    club that night among his friends." There he met Esquire Ashmole

    and went home accompanied by Mr. Booker, who, he says, " did tell

    me a great many fooleries, which may be done by nativities, and

    blaming Mr. Lilly for writing to please his friends, and not

    according to the rules of art, by which he could not well eue as he

    had done" The club, we may well suppose, was that of the

    Astrologers, held at the house of the chief member of the

    profession.That it was not a secret society we conclude from the

    fact that Pepys, who was no astrologer, was permitted to be

    present.We know also from Ashmole's diary that the Astrologers

    held an annual feast, generally in August, sometimes in March,

    July, or November, but never on a Masonic festival.Ashmole

    regularly attended it from 1649 to 1658, when it was suspended, but

    afterward revived, in 1682.In 1650 he was elected a steward for

    the following year he mentions the place of meeting only three

    times, twice at Painters' Hall, which was probably the usual place,

    and once at the Three Cranes, in Chancery Lane. Had the Astrologers

    and the Masons been connected, Masons' Hall, inBasinghall Street,

    would certainly have been the place for holding their feast.

     

    Again, it is said by Nicolai that the object of this secret society

    which organized the Freemasons was to advance the restoration of

    the King.But Lilly had made, in 1645, the year before the

    meeting, this declaration: "Before that time, I was more Cavalier

    than Roundbead, but after that I engaged body and soul the cause of

    Parliament." He still expressed, it istrue, his attachment to

    monarchy; but his life during the Commonwealth showed his devotion

    to Cromwell, of whom he was a particular favorite.After the

    Restoration he had to sue out a pardon, which was obtained by the

    influence of his friends, but which would hardly have been

    necessary if he had been engaged in a secret society the object of

    which was to restore Charles II to the throne.

     

    But Charles I was not beheaded until 1649, so that a society could

    not have been organized in 1646 for the restoration of his son.

    But it may be said that the Restoration alluded to was of the

    monarchy, which at that time was virtually at an end.So this

    objection may pass without further comment.

     

    But the fact is that the whole of this fiction of the organization,

    1646, of a secret society by a set of philosophers or astrologers,

    or both, which resulted in the establishment of Freemasonry, arose

    out of a misconception or a misrepresentation-whether willful or

    not, I will not say-of two passages in the diary of Elias Ashmole.

    Of these two passages, and they are the only ones in his minute

    diary of fifty-four years in which there is any mention of

    Freemasonry, the first is as follows :

     

    "1646, Octob. 16- 4 Hor. 30 minutes post merid.I was made a Free-

    Mason at Warrington in Lancashire, with Colonel Henry Mainwarring

    of Karticham in Cheshire; the names of those that were then at the

    lodge, Mr. Richard Penket Warden, Mr. James Collier, Mr. Richard

    Sankey, Henry Littler, John Ellam, and Hugh Brewer."

     

    And then, after an interval of thirty-five years, during which

    there is no further allusion to Masonry, we find the following

    memoranda: " 1682, Mar. 10.About 5 Hor. Post merid.I received

    a summons to appear at a lodge to be held the next day at Masons

    Hall, London.

     

    II. Accordingly I went, and about noon was admitted into the

    fellowship of Freemasons, by Sir William Wilson Knight, Captain

    Richard Borthwick, Mr. William Wodman, Mr. William Grey, Mr. Samuel

    Taylour, and Mr. William Wise.

     

    " I was the senior fellow among them (it being thirty-five years

    since I was admitted) there was present besides myself, the fellows

    after mentioned. Mr. Thomas Wise, Master of the Masons Company,

    this present year; Mr. Thomas Shorthose, Mr. Thomas Shadbolt,

    Wardsford, Esq; Mr. Nicholas Young, Mr. John Shorthose, Mr. William

    Hamon, Mr. John Thompson, and Mr. William Stanton. We all dined at

    the Half-Moon-Tavern, in Cheapside, at a noble dinner prepared at

    the charge of the new accepted Masons."

     

    Without the slightest show of reason or semblance of authority,

    Nicolai transmutes the Lodge at Warrington, in which Ashmole was

    made a Freemason, into an annual feast of the Astrologers.The

    Society of Astrologers, he says, "had previously held one meeting

    at Warrington, in Lancashire, but it was first firmly established

    at London." And he cites as His authority for this statement the

    very passage from Ashinole's diary in which that antiquary records

    his reception in a Masonic Lodge.

     

    These events in the life of Ashmole, which connect him with the

    Masonic fraternity, have given considerable embarrassment to

    Masonic scholars who have been unable to comprehend the two

    apparently conflicting statements that he was made a Freemason at

    Warrington in 1646 and afterward received into the fellowship of

    the Freemasons, in 1682, at London.The embarrassment and

    misapprehension arose from the fact that we have unfortunately no

    records of the meetings of the Operative Lodges of England in the

    17th century, and nothing but traditional and generally mythical

    accounts of their usages during that period.

     

    The sister kingdom of Scotland has been more fortunate in this

    respect, and the valuable work of Brother Lyon, on the History of

    the Lodge of Edinborough, has supplied us with authentic records of

    the Scottish Lodges at a much earlier date.These records will

    furnish us with some information in respect to the contemporaneous

    English Lodges which was have every reason to suppose were governed

    by usages not very different from those of the Lodges in the

    adjacent kingdom. Mr. Lyon has on this subject the following

    remarks, which may be opportunely quoted on the present occasion.

     

    " The earliest date at which non-professionals are known to have

    been received into an English Lodge is 1646.The evidence of this

    is derived from the diary of one of the persons so admitted ; but

    the preceding minutes (1) afford authentic instances of Speculative

    Masons having been admitted to the fellowship of the Lodge of

     

    (1) Minutes of the Lodge of Cannongate, Kilwinning, for 1635,

    quoted by him in a precedding page.

     

    Edinburgh twelve years prior to the reception of Colonel Main

    warring and Elias Ashmole in the Lodge of Warrington and thirty-

    eight years before the date at which the presence of Gentleman

    Masons is first discernible in the Lodge of Kilwinning by the

    election of Lord Cassillis to the deaconship.It is worthy of

    remark that, with singularly few exceptions, the non-operatives who

    were admitted to Masonic fellowship in the Lodges of Edinburgh and

    Kilwinning, during the 17th century, were persons of quality, the

    most distinguished of whom, as the natural result of its

    metropolitan position, being made in the former Lodge.Their

    admission to fellowship in an institution composed of Operative

    Masons associated together for purposes of their Craft would in all

    probability originate in a desire to elevate its position and

    increase its influence, and once adopted, the system would further

    recommend itself to the Fraternity by the opportunities which it

    presented for cultivating the friendship and enjoying the society

    of gentlemen to whom in ordinary circumstances there was little

    chance of their ever being personally known.On the other hand,

    non-professionals connecting themselves with the Lodge by the ties

    of membership would, we believe, be actuated partly by a

    disposition to reciprocate the feelings that had prompted the

    bestowal of the fellowship partly by curiosity to penetrate the

    arcana of the Craft, and partly by the novelty of the situation as

    members of a secret society and participants in its ceremonies and

    festivities.But whatever may have been the rnotives which

    animated the parties on either side, the tie which united them was

    a purely honorary one." (1)

     

    What is here said by Lyon of the Scottish Lodges may, I think, be

    with equal propriety applied to those of England at the same

    period.There was in 1646 a Lodge of Operative Masons at

    Warrington, just as there was a similar one at Edinburgh.Into

    this Lodge Colonel Mainwarring and Elias Ashmole, both non-

    professional gentlemen, were admitted as honorary members, or, to

    use the language of the latter, were " made Freemasons," a

    technical term that has been preserved to the present day.

     

    But thirty-five years afterward, being then a resident of London,

    he was summoned to attend a meeting of the Company of Masons, to be

    held at their hall in Masons' Alley, Basinghall Street,

     

    (1) Lyon, "History of the Lodge of Edinburgh," p. 81

     

    and there, according to His own account, he was " admitted into the

    fellowship of Freemasons." How are we to explain this apparent

    double or renewed admission ? But mark the difference of language.

    In 1646 he was "made a Freemason."In 1682 he was admitted into

    the fellowship of Freemasons." The distinction is an important one.

     

    The Masons' Company in 1682 constituted in London one of those many

    city companies which embraced the various trades and handicrafts of

    the metropolis.Stowe, in his Survey of London, says that " the

    Masons, otherwise termed Freemasons, were a society of ancient

    standing andgood reckoning, by means of affable and kind meetings

    divers time, and as a loving brotherhood should use to do, did

    frequent their mutual assemblies in the time of King Henry IV, in

    the 12th year of whose most gracious reign they were incorporated."

     

    In Cheswell's New View of London, printed in 1708, it is said that

    the Masons' Company "were incorporated about the year 1410, having

    been called the Free Masons, a Fraternity of great account, ,who

    have been honored by several Kings, and very many of the Nobility

    and Gentry being of their Society.They are governed by a Master,

    2 Wardens, 25 Assistants, and there are 65 on the Livery."

     

    Maitland, in his London and its Environs, says, speaking of the

    Masons: "This company had their arms granted by Clarencieux, King-

    at-Arms, in the year 1477, though the members were not incorporated

    by letters patent till they obtained them from King Charles II. in

    1677.They have a small convenient hall in Masons' Alley,

    Basinghall Street."

     

    There were then, in the time of Ashmole, two distinct bodies of men

    practicing the Craft of Operative Masonry, namely, the Lodges which

    were to be found in various parts of the country, and the Company

    of Masons, whose seat was at London.

     

    Into one of the Lodges, which was situated at Warrington, in

    Lancashire, Ashmole had in 1646 received honorary membership,

    which, in compliance with the technical language of that and of the

    present day, he called being "made a Freemason." But this did not

    constitute him a member of the Masons' Company of London, for this

    was a distinct incorporated society, with its exclusive rules and

    regulations, and admission into which could only be obtained by the

    consent of the members.There were many Masons who were not

    members of the Company.

     

    Ashmole, who had for thirty-five years been a Freemason, by virtue

    of hismaking at Warrington, was in 1682 elected a member of this

    Masons' Company, and this he styles being "admitted into the

    fellowship of Freemasons "-that is, he was admitted to the

    fellowship or membership of the Company and made " free " of it.

     

    From all of which we may draw the following conclusions: First,

    that in 1646, at the very date assigned by Nicolai for the

    organization of the Freemasons as a secret political society, under

    the leadership of Ashmole and Lilly, the former, being as yet

    unacquainted with the latter, was at Warrington, in Lancashire,

    where he found a Lodge of Masons already organized and with its

    proper officers and its members, by whom he was admitted as an

    honorary non-professional member of the Craft.And secondly, that

    while in London be was admitted, being already a Freemason, to the

    fellowship of the Masons' Company.And thirdly, that he was also

    amember of the fraternity of Astrologers, having been admitted

    probably in 1649, and regularly attended their annual feast from

    that year to 1658, when the festival, and perhaps the fraternity,

    was suspended until 1682, when it was again revived.But during

    all this time it is evident from the memoranda of Ashmole that the

    Freemasons and the Astrologers were two entirely distinct bodies.

    Lilly, who was the head of the Astrologers, was, we may say almost

    with certainty, not a Freemason, else the spirit of minuteness with

    which he has written his autobiography would not have permitted him

    to omit what to his peculiar frame of maid would have been so

    important a circumstance as connecting him still more closely with

    his admired friend, Elias Ashmole, nor would the latter have

    neglected to record it in his diary, written with even still

    greater minuteness than Lilly's memoirs.

     

    Notwithstanding the clear historical testimony which shows that

    Lodges of Freemasons had been organized long before the time of

    Ashmok, and that he had actually been made a Freemason in one of

    them, many writers, both Masonic and profane, have maintained the

    erroneous doctrine that Ashmole was the founder of the Masonic

    Society.

     

    'Thus Chambers, in their Encyclopedia say that " Masonry was

    founded by Ashmole some of his literary friends," and De Quincey

    expressed the same opinion.

     

    Mr. John Yarker, in his very readable Notes on the Scientific and

    Religious Mysteries of Antiquity, offers a modified view and a

    compromise of the subject.He refers to the meeting of the

    chemical adepts at Masons' Hall (a fact of which we have no

    evidence), and then to the " Feast of the Astrologers " which

    Ashmole attended.He follows Nicolai in asserting that their

    allegories were founded on Bacon's House of Solomon, and says that

    they used as emblems the sun, moon, square, triangle, etc.And he

    concludes, " it is possible that Ashmole may have consolidated the

    customsof the two associations, but there is no evidence that any

    Lodge of this, his speculative rite, came under the Masonic

    Constitution."' (1)

     

    We may also say that it is possible that Ashmole may have invented

    a speculative rite of some kind, but there is no evidence that he

    did so.Many things are possible that are not probable, and many

    probable that are not actual.History is made up of facts, and not

    of possibilities or probabilities.

     

    Ashmole himself entertained a very different and much more correct

    notion of the origin of Masonry than any of those who have striven

    to claim him as its founder.

     

    Dr. Knipe, of Christ Church, Oxford, in a letter to the publisher

    of Ashmole's Life, says: " What from Mr. E. Ashmole's collections

    I could gather was, that the report of our society's taking rise

    from a bull granted by the Pope in the reign of Henry III, to some

    Italian architects to travel over all Europe, to erect chapels, was

    illfounded.Such a bull there was, and these architects were

    Masons; but this bull, in the opinion of the learned Mr. Ashmole,

    was confirmative only, and did not, by any means, create our

    Fraternity, or even establish them in this kingdom."

     

    This settles the question.Ashmole could not have been the founder

    of Freemasonry in London in 1646, since he himself expressed the

    belief that the Institution had existed in England before the 13th

    century.

     

    There is no doubt, as I have already said, that he was very

    intimately connected with the Astrologers.Dr. Krause, in his

    Three Oldest Documents of the Masonic Brotherhood, quotes the

    following passage from Lilly's History of my Life and Titles. (I

    can not

     

    (1) "Notes on the Scientific and Religious Mysteries of Antiquity,"

    p. 106

    (2) "Die drei altesten Kunsturkunden der Freimaurerbruderschaft,"

    IV., 286

     

    find it in my own copy of that work, but the statements are

    corroborated by Ashmole's diary.) "

     

    "The King's affairs being now grown desperate, Mr. Ashmole withdrew

    himself, after the surrender of the Garrison of Worcester, into

    Cheshire, where he continued till the end of October, and then came

    up to London, where he became acquainted with Master, afterwords

    Sir Jonas Moore, Mr.William Lilly, and Mr. John Booker, esteemed

    the greatest astrologers iii the world, by whom he was caressed,

    instructed and received into their fraternity, which then made a

    very considerable figure, as appeared by the great resort of

    persons of distinction to their annual feast, of which Mr. Ashmole

    was afterwards elected Steward."

     

    Ashmole left Worcester for Cheshire July 24, 1646, and moved from

    Cheshireto London October 25, of the same year.In that interval

    of three months he was made a Freemason, at Warrington.At that

    time he was not acquainted with Lilly, Moore, or Booker, and knew

    nothing of astrology or of the great astrologers.

     

    This destroys the accuracy of Nicolai's assertion that the meeting

    held at Masons' Hall, in 1682, by Ashmole, Lilly, and other

    astrologers, when they founded the Society of Freemasons, was

    preceded by a similar and initiatory one, in 1646, at Warrington.

     

    A few words must now be said upon the subject of Bacon's House of

    Solomon, which Nicolai and others supposed to have first given rise

    to the Masonic allegory which was afterward changed to that of the

    Temple of Solomon.

     

    Bacon, in his fragmentary and unfinished romance of the New

    Atlantis, had devised the fable of an island of Bensalem, in which

    was an institution or college called the House of Solomon, the

    fellows of which were to be students of philosophy and

    investigators of science.He thus described their occupations :

     

    "We have twelve that sail into foreign countries, who bring in the

    books and patterns of experiments of all other parts ; these we

    call merchants of light.We have three that collect the

    experiments that are in all books; these are called depredators.

    We have three that collect experiments of all mechanical arts, and

    also of liberal sciences, and also of practices which are not

    brought into the arts; these we call mystery men.We have three

    that try new experiments such as themselves think good; these we

    call pioneers or miners. We have three that draw the experiments of

    the former four into titles andtablets to give the better light

    for the drawing of observations and axioms out of them; these we

    call compilers.We have three that bind themselves looking into

    the experiments of their fellows and cast about how to draw out of

    them things of use and practice for man's life and knowledge as

    well for iworks as for plain demonstrations and the easy and clear

    discovering of the virtues and parts of bodies ; these we call

    doing men and benefactors. Then after divers meetings and consults

    of our whole number to consider of the former labors and

    collections, we have three to take care out of them to direct new

    experiments of higher light, more penetrating into nature than the

    former; these we call lamps.We have three others that do execute

    the experiments so directed and report them ; these we call

    inoculators.Lastly we have three that raise the former

    discoveries by experiments into greater observations, axioms and

    aphorisms; these we call interpreters of nature." (1)

     

    It is evident from this schedule of the occupations of the inmates

    of the House of Solomon that it could not in the remotest degree

    have been made the foundatiort of a Masonic allegory.In fact, the

    suggestion of a Masonic connection could have been derived only

    from a confused idea of the relation of the House to the Temple of

    Solomon, a misapprehension which a reading of the New Atlantis

    would readily remove.

     

    As Plato had written his Republic and Sir Thomas More his Utopia to

    give their ideas of a model commonwealth, so Lord Bacon commenced

    his New Atlantis to furnish his idea of a model college to be

    instituted for the study and interpretation of nature by

    experimental methods. These views were first introduced in his

    Advancement of Human Learning, and would have been perfected in his

    New Atlantis had he ever completed it.

     

    The new philosophy of Bacon had produced a great revolution in the

    minds of thinking men, and that group of philosophers who in the

    17th century, as Dr. Whewell says, "began to knock at the door

    where truth was to be found " would very wisely seek the key in the

    inductive and experimental method taught by Bacon.

     

    To the learned men, therefore, who first met at the house of Dr.

    Goddard and the other members, and whose meetings finally ended in

    the formation of the Royal Society, the allegory of the House of

     

    (1) "New Atlantis," Works, vol. ii., p. 376

     

    Solomon very probably furnished valuable hintsfor the pursuit of

    their experimental studies.

     

    To Freemasons in any age the allegory would have been useless and

    unprofitable, and could by no ingenious method have been twisted

    into a foundation for their symbolic science The hypothesis that it

    was adopted in 1646 by the founders of Freemasonry as a fitting

    allegory for their esoteric system of instruction is evidently too

    absurd to need further refutation.

     

    In conclusion, we may unhesitatingly concur with Bro.W. J.

    Elughan in his opinion that the theory which assigns the foundation

    of Freemasonry to Elias Ashmole and his friends the Astrologers "

    is opposed to existing documents dating before and since his

    initiation." It is equally opposed to the whole current of

    authentic history, and is unsupported by the character of the

    Institution and true nature of its symbolism.


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