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Masonic Encyclopedia

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The Legend of the Craft

Before Noyes floode there was a man called Lameche as it is written in the Byble, in the iiijth chapter of Genesis; and this Lameehe had two wives, and the one height Ada and the other height Sella; by his first wife Ada he got two sons and that one Jahell, and the other Tuball, And by that other wife Sella he got a son and a daughter. And these four children founden the beginning of all the sciences in the world. And this elder son Jahell found the science of Geometric, and he departed flocks of sheep and lambs in the field, and first wrought house of stone and tree as is noted in the chapter above said. And his brother Tuball found the science of .NIusieke, song of tonge, harpe, and orgain. And the third brother Tuball Cain found smith craft of gold silver, copper, iron and steely and the daughter found the craft of Weaving. And these children knew well that God would take vengeance for synn, either by fire or by water; wherefore they writt their science that they had found in two pillars of stone that they might be found after Noyes flood. And that one stone was marble, for that would not bren with fire; and that other stone was clepped laterns, and would not drown in no water.

Our intent is to tell you truly how and in what manner these stones were found, that this sciences were written in. The great Hermarynes that was Cubys son the which Cub was Sem's son that was Noys son. This Hermarynes afterwards was called Harmes the father of wise men: he found one of the two pillars of stone, and found the science written there, and he taught it to other men. And at the making of the Tower of Babylon there was Masonry first made much of. And the Kinge of Babylon that height Nemroth, was a mason himself, and loved well the science, as it is said with masters of histories. And when the City of Nyneve, and other cities of the East should be made, Nemroth, the King of Babilon, sent thither threescore Masons at the rogation of the King of Nyneve his cosen. And when he sent them forth, he gave them a charge on this manner: That they should be true each of them to other, and that they should love truly together, and that they should serve their lord truly for their pay so that the master may have worship, and all that long to him. And other mo charges he gave them. And this was the first time that ever Masons had any charge of his science.

Moreover, when Abraham and Sara his wife went into Egypt, there he taught the Seaven Scyences to the Egyptians; and he had a worthy Seoller that height Ewelyde and he learned right well, and was a master of all the vij Sciences liberal. And in his days it befell that the lord and the estates of the realm had so many sons that they had gotten some by their wives and some by other ladies of the realm; for that land is a hot land and a plenteous of generation. And they had not competent leveled to find with their children, wherefore they made much care. And then the King of the land made a great Counsel and a parliament, to with how they might find their children honestly as gentlemen. And they could find non manner of good way. And then they did cry through all the realm, it their were any man that could inform them, that he should come to them, and he should be so rewarded for his travail, that he should hold him pleased.

After that this cry was made, then come this worthy clarke Ewelyde, and said to the king and to all his great lords: "If yee will take me your children to govern, and to teach them one of the Seven Science, wherewith they may live honestly as gentlemen should, under a condition that yee will grant me and them a commission that I may have power to rule them after the manner that the science ought to be ruled," And that the King and all his Counsel granted to him anyone, and sealed their commission. And then this worthy Doctor took to him these lords' songs, and taught them the science of Geometry in practice, for to work in stones all manner of worthy work that belongeth to buildings churches temples, castles, towers, and manors, and all other manner of buildings: and he gave them a charge on this manner:

The first was, that they should be true to the King, and to the lord that they owe. And that they should love well together, and be true each one to other. And that they should call each other his fellow, or else brother and not by servant, nor his nave, nor none other foul name. And that they should deserve their paid of the lord, or of the master that they serve. And that they should ordain the wisest of them to be master of the work; and neither for love nor great lineage, ne Aitches ne for no favor to let another that hath little conning for to be master of the lord's work, where through the lord should be evil served and they ashamed. And also that they should call their governors of the work, Master, in the time that they work with him. And other many more charges that long to tell. And to all these charges he made them to swear a great oath that men used in that time- and ordained them for reasonable wages, that they might live honestly by. And also that they should come and semble together every year once, how they might work best to serve the lord for his profit, and to their own worship; and to correct within themselves him that had trespassed against the alliance. And thus was the science grounded there; and that worthy Mr. Ewelide gave it the name of Geometric. And now it is called through all this land Masonry.

Sythen long after, when the Children of Israel were coming into the Land of Beheast, that is now called amongst us the Country of Jhrlm, King David began the Temple that they caned Templum D'ni and it is named with us the Temple of Jerusalem. And the same King David loved Masons well and cherished them much, and gave them good paid. And he gave the charges and the manners as he had learned of Egypt given by Ewelyde, and other charges more that ye shall hear afterwards.

And after the decease of Kinge David, Salamon, that was David's sonn, performed out the Temple that his father begonne, and sent after Masons into divers countries and of divers lands; and gathered them together, 80 that he had fourscore thousand workers of stone, and were all named Masons. And he chose out of them three thousand that were ordayned to be maisters and governors of his worke. And furthermore, there was a Kinge of another region that men called Iram, and he loved well Binge Solomon, and he gave him tymber to his worke. And he had a son that height Aynon, and he was a Master of Geometrie, and was ehiefe Maister of all his Masons, and was Master of all his gravings and carvinge, and of all other manner of Masonrye that longed to the Templeand this is witnessed by the Bible in libro Requm the third chapter. And this Solomon confirmed both charges and the manners that his father had given to Masons. And thus was that worthy science of Masonry confirmed in the country of Jerusalem, and in many other kingdoms

Curious craftsmen walked about full wide into divers countryes, some because of learninge more craft and cunninge, and some to teach them that had but little conynge. And soe it befell that there was one curious Mason that height Maymus Grecus, that had been at the making of Solomon's Temple, and he came into France, and there he taught the science of Masonrye to men of France. And there was one of the Regal lyne of France, that height Charles Martell: and he was a man that loved well such a science, and drew to this Maymus Grecus that is above said, and learned of him the ecience, and tooke upon him the charges and manners; and afterwards, by the grace of God, he was elect to be Binge of France. And when he was in his estate he tooke Masons, and did helpe to make men Masons that were none; and set them to worke, and gave them both the charge and the manners and good paie as he had learned of other Masons; and confirmed them a Chartor from yeare to yeare, to hold their semble wher they would; and cherished them right much; And thus came the science into France.

England in all this season stood voyd as for any charge of Masonrye unto Saint Albones tyme. And in his days the King of England that was a Pagan, he did wall the to me about that is called Sainet Albones. And Sainet Albones was a worthy Knight, and steward with tbe Binge of his Household, and had governance of the realme, and also of the makinge of the town walls, and loved well Masons and cherished them much. And he made their paie right good, standinge as the realm did, for he gave them ijs. vjd. a weeke, and iijd. to their nonesynehes. And before that time, through all this land, a Mason took but a penny a day and his meate, till Sainet Albone amended it, and gave them a chartour of the Binge and his Counsell for to hold a general councell, and gave it the name of Assemble; and thereat he was himselfe, and helpe to make Masons, and gave them charges as yee shad heare afterward. Right soone after the decease of Sainct Albone, there came divers warrs into the realme of England of divers Nations, soe that the good rule of Masonrye was de stroyed unto the tyme of Singe Athelstone days that was a worthy Kinge of England and brought this land into good rest and peace- and builded many great works of Abbyes and Towres and other many divers building,and loved well Masons. And he had a son that height Edwinne, and he loved Masons much more than his father did. And he was a great practiser in Geometric and he drew him much to talke and to commune with Masons and to learne of them seienee; and afterward, for love that he had to Masons, and to the science, he was made a Mason, and he gatt of the Kinge his father a Chartour and Commission to hold every yeare once an Assemble wher that ever they would within the realme of Englandand to eorreet within themselves defaults and trespasses that were done within the science. And he held himself an Assemble at Yorke, and there he made Masons, and gave them charges, and taught them the manners, and commanded that rule to be kept ever after, and tooke then the Chartour and Commission to keepe, and made ordinance that it should be renewed from Kinge to Kinge.

And when the assemble was gathered he made a cry that all old Masons and young that had any writeinge or understanding of the charges and the manners that were made before in this land or in any other, that they should show them forth. And when it was proved, there were founden some in Frenche, and some in Greek, and some in English, and some in other languages: and the intent of them all was founden all one. And he did make a booke thereof, and how the science was founded. And he himselfe bad and commanded that it should be readd or tould, when that any Mason should be made, for to give him his Charge. And fro that day unto this tyme manmers of Masons have beene kept in that forme as well as men might governe it. And furthermore divers Assembles have beene put and ordayned eertaine charges by the best advice of Masters and fellowes.

If anyone carefully examines this legend, he anll find that it is really a history of the rise and progress of architecture, with which is mixed allusions to the ancient Gilds of the Operative Masons. Geometry also, as a science essentially necessary to the proper cultivation of architecture, receives a due share of attention. In thus confounding architecture, geometry, and Freemasonry, the workmen of the Middle Ages were but obeying a natural instinct which leads every man to seek to elevate the character of his profession, and to give to it an authentic claim to antiquity. It is this instinct which has given rise to so much of the mythical element in the modern history of Freemasonry. Anderson hag thug written his records in the very spirit of the Legend of the Craft, and Preston and Oliver have followed his example. Hence this legend derives its great importance from the fact that it has given a complexion to all subsequent Masonic history. In dissecting it with critical handy we shall be enabled to dissever its historical from its mythical portions and assign to it its true value as an exponent of the Masonic sentiment of the Middle Ages.

Brother W. SI. Rylands offers some suggestive comments on the legendary history that may well be inserted at this stage of the di8cussion bib Doctor Mackey (see Some Notes on the Legends of Masonry Transacts s of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, volume xvi, page 9, 1903).

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 their Returns, issued to the Gilds all over the country, in the twelfth year of Richard II, 1388 A-DSome of the points and articles would, no doubt, be in use from an earlier period in pretty much the same form everywhere. One great difficulty appears to present itsself. If the legendary history was composed for these purposes, the Old Charges, as we now have them must either represent the Return made by one Gild of Masons or all the Gilds must have possessed almost exactly the same legend- unless it was agreed to be a collected body from the various Gilds.

Of course, the easiest way to decide the question is to accept the statement that the history was collected by Edwin: but this solution of the difficulty does not satisfy me. There is still another. If the Old Charges do really represent the Return made in 1388 by one of most important Gild of Mssons in England, it is not very difficult to understand how during the long period of years when copies are entirely wanting, the legendary history was spread by the Priesthood, and the Masons themselves, so that it was at least generally adopted in almost its present form. It must be understood that in making these suggestions I do not overlook the possibility or probability of the Gild of Masons having possessed so short legendary history at any earlier date: but if such were the case, it would stand alone among all other trades. The various legends pertaining to the Craft are discussed at length in Doctor Mackey's revised History of Freemasonry.

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