Masonic Studies

There are plenty of people in this world who consider they have satisfied all the requirements of cleanliness when they have washed their hands and faces, or so much of their bodies as is ordinarily exposed to view.

Not a few there are who think they are far from indifferent French scholars when they can guess the meaning of a few sentences, or, because they have once or twice visited Paris, and contrived to expound their wants to the garp on in Anglo-French.

The Freemason’s Chronicle – 27 November 1875

There are even those who set themselves down as sound English scholars, nor hesitate to interpret the meaning of some obscure passage in Shakespeare or Milton, on the strength of having mastered Lindley Murray and a spelling-book or two. Similarly, there is a consider-able number of what may be called Holiday masons, who fancy, when having passed with more or less—generally more than less—prompting the earlier stages of their career, they at length obtain the dignity of a full-blown M.M., that it only remains for them to rise to the position of a W.M., and the cycle of their Masonic knowledge is complete.

How many M.M.’s are there who can explain a Tracing-Board? How many who can work even the first section? much less go through, unfalteringly, the first lecture?

There are regular Lodges of Instruction, yet comparatively how few there are who think of attending them, and how few of those who attend who are not almost wholly dependent on the preceptor or their next door neighbour for the answers they give to the simplest question.

Are there many W.M.’s who can open and close a Lodge in the three degrees without the friendly aid of a more than usually learned P.M?

We are sure it is in the experience of most of our readers that the working of our ritual is too often the reverse of perfect, and this is due principally to the fact that so many brethren are content to believe that Masonry is simply a few signs and tokens, or rather that familiar acquaintance with certain signs and words is a perfect knowledge of Masonry.

Considering we have only the good of Masonry in view, we feel sure that our readers will forgive us for drawing attention to the too prevailing carelessness in the pursuit of Masonic knowledge.

What we say, we say in sorrow rather than in anger. From one point of view, the idea that brethren who have reached the sublime degree and eat so many Lodges per annum, as the Law students are said to eat their terms, are even fairly versed in the mysteries of the Craft, is very laughable; but, from a Masonic point of view, it is very much to be deplored.

Yet, a remedy is at hand, if only brethren will avail themselves of it. We have said there are regular Lodges of Instruction, where the whole of our beautiful ritual maybe learnt, where there are skilful professors, able, and only too willing to explain the beauties of that ritual.

Many Lodges, particularly in the country, fix one day in the week, and then resolve themselves pro temp into Lodges of Instruction, just as the House of Commons is said to resolve itself into Committee of Supply: or, to put the matter in a simple form, Lodge Excelsior, No. 20,415, held in the good old town of Rurapingford, has a Lodge of Instruction every Wednesday evening, at 7.30 P.M.,

– when the members are invited to be present, and will learn, in a conversational kind of way, just a few scraps of knowledge, enough, perhaps, to enable them to recognise a brother, by day or by night, to salute the W.M. in due form, or, at all events, take part audibly and faultlessly in the ceremony of closing. But, if members do not attend—and there is no law to compel them—of what avail are these Lodges?

As we began with a few illustrations from everyday life, let us return thither once again.

Is there a single brother who, in his own private domicile, would accept a he-person or a she-person as cook, merely because the said he or she had once or twice boiled a potato inartistically, or toasted a few muffins, and burned them in the toasting? We shall be told, You are taking an absurdly extreme case.

Not so: are there not brethren, unfortunately innumerable, who have never, m the whole course of their career, done more than exchange signs, salute, stand to order in this or that degree, and possibly mumble out a few words just before the Lodge adjourns to refreshment.

We have attended Lodges of Instruction not unfrequently, though not as frequently as we desired. We have seldom come away without duly appreciating the learning and ability of the preceptor, or letter-perfect and heart-perfect exposition of some learned brother.

Equally true is it, however, that we have never quitted a Lodge of Instruction without feeling that many, far too many, of those present were in a lamentable state of ignorance.

Masonry has made wonderful strides of late years. It numbers in its ranks the great, the good, the mighty in the land. It is universally popular—at least in the United Kingdom and the United States, where men enjoy perfect freedom of thought as of action—not only by reason of the good it does to indigent brethren, or their widows and their orphan children, but also because it is ever ready and willing to take part in works of beneficence.

But Masonry is something beyond a charity organisation. Masonry is a religion, and just as the sacred truths of Christianity are not learned merely by attending periodically at Church, making the responses formally, and dozing languidly through the Sermon; so the great truths of Masonry cannot be learned by simply attending Lodge a given number of times, observing a few outward forms and ceremonies, and eating a certain number of dinners. Masonic study is necessary, if we wish to become real Masons.

The Freemasons Chronicle, a weekly record of masonic intelligence, was first published 2nd January 1875 London, England as an independent weekly journal of masonic interest and continued for 27 years.


It should be the business of a journal devoted to the interests of the Order to attempt the removal of prejudices such as these, which, though they may have little perceptible influence upon the prosperity of the Fraternity, yet have the effect of preventing timid or ill-informed persons from enlisting under its banner.

It will not only attempt to keep pace with the growing literary requirements of the day, but it will seek to exhibit the Order to the non-Masonic world divested of its technical details, and clothed in the garb of Charity and Brotherly Love.

The questions of the hour, which exercise the minds of thoughtful men, will be handled freely and broadly, without any tinge of political or sectarian bias.

The memoranda of Masonic gatherings which will appear from week to week, will be full and accurate; and as free interchange of opinion is one of the best signs of life and vigour in any society, ample scope will be given for Correspondence on topics of interest to the Order.

If we may venture upon a new rendering of words which recent events have made memorable, we will say here, once and for all, that we will be keen men of business, and will spare no effort, consistent with honour, to achieve commercial success; but first, and before all things, we will prove to our brethren and the world that we are FREEMASONS.

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