Saturday, May 21, 2022

‘Imitate the glorious example’

The Colonial Room on the tenth floor of Masonic Hall is not our usual meeting space, but we were able to make do despite the frumpy looks of the place.

On this date in 1772, Freemasons in London gathered in the Strand at a tavern named the Crown and Anchor for “A Grand Gala in Honour of Free Masonry.” It was a famous place; all kinds of groups met there. In attendance were Lord Petre, the new Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England; and William Preston, Worshipful Master of the lodge that met there.

We know this because of the book that was inspired by the affair: Illustrations of Masonry, published later that year. I believe there are half a dozen books that have given shape (rituals, language, customs, jurisprudence, etc.) to the Freemasonry that we have inherited, and all six date to the 1700s. What has come to be known as “Preston’s Illustrations” might be the most consequential of them.

Online Etymology Dictionary

Something else occurred on this date. I mean today. 2022. My lodge raised four Fellow Craft Masons to the Sublime Degree.

The ritualists were great despite being nervous and self-conscious. I think the Master mentioned there could have been more rehearsal time, but I followed along in my ritual cipher (as Tiler, I’m outside the lodge room), and I’d say any error or omission was unnoticeable. Nothing obfuscated the candidates’ comprehension—and that’s what matters to me.

I’ll close this edition of The Magpie Mason with an excerpt from Illustrations concerning the Master Mason Degree. You’ll recognize these phrases and ideas in different constructions of contemporary rituals:

Your zeal for virtue, your honor as a gentleman, your reputation as a mason, are all equally concerned in supporting, with becoming dignity, the character in which you now appear; let no motive therefore make you swerve from your duty, violate your vows, or betray your trust; but be true and faithful, and imitate the glorious example of that celebrated artist, whom you have this evening represented. Thus you will prove yourself worthy of the confidence which we have reposed in you, and deserving of every honor which we can confer.

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