A Legend of the Craft

Good Brethren and Fellows,
our purpose is to tell you how and in what manner
this worthy Craft of Masonry was first begun,
and afterwards how it was mentioned and cherished
by Kings and Princes
and many other worshipful men;
and to those that are here
we shall declare the charges that every Freemason should keep.
For the science of Masonry is a virtuous Craft,
and well worthy to be kept,
being one of the seven liberal arts and sciences which are as follow.

The first is Grammar, which teaches man to speak and write correctly.
The second is Rhetoric,
which teaches man to speak in subtle terms.
The third is Logic,
which teaches man to discern truth from falsehood.
The fourth is Arithmetic,
which teaches man to reckon and count all numbers.
The fifth is Geometry,
which teaches man to mete and measure the earth and all manner of things and Masonry is of this science.
The sixth is Music,
which teaches man the craft of song and sweet sounds,
and the seventh is Astronomy,
which teaches man to know the course of the sun, moon and stars.

Thus it may be proved that all the sciences of the world
are grounded on the science of Geometry,
for there is no trade or craft which does not work by mete or measure,
nor does man buy or sell anything except by weight or measure,
and especially do ploughmen and tillers of the soil
work by the science of Geometry.
None of the other sciences can enable man
to carry on his trade or craft in such a way,
wherefore we argue that Geometry is the worthiest of all sciences.

We shall now tell you how this science was begun.
According to the fourth chapter of Genesis,
before Noah's flood,
there was a man called Lamech who had two wives,
one called Ada and the other Zillah.
The first wife Ada bore him two sons,
Jabal and Jubal,
and the second wife Zillah bore him a son and a daughter,
tubal-Cain and Naamah.
These four children found the beginning of all the crafts in the world.
Jabel, the eldest son, found the craft of Geometry,
and he was the first person to divide lands and flocks of sheep and lambs,
and he was also the first to build a house of wood and stone.
Jubal found the craft of Music,
Tubal-Cain the craft of the Smith
and Naamah the craft of Weaving.
Now these children knew that God would take vengeance upon the earth,
either by fire or water,
and in order that their discoveries might be preserved to future generations
they wrote them upon two pillars of stone;
one of marble, which would not burn in fire,
and the other of lattress,
which would not drown in water.

After the destruction of the world by flood,
Hermes, who has been called the Father of Wise Men,
found one of the pillars and taught the sciences written thereon to other men.
At the building of the Tower of Babel, masonry was in great repute,
and Nimrod, the King of Babylon, was himself a Mason and a lover of the craft,
so that when Nineveh and other cities of the East were about to be built,
he sent thither three score masons at the request of his cousin,
the King of Nineveh,
and when they went forth he gave them a Charge in this manner:--
That they should love each other truly,
in order that no discredit should fall on him for sending them,
and he also gave them a charge concerning their science.
These were the first Masons who ever received any charge.
At a later date when Abraham, with his wife Sarah, went into Egypt
he taught the seven sciences to the Egyptians,
and he had a worthy scholar called Euclid,
who made profitable use of his instructions.
In these times it happened that many Lords and other great men of the realm
had so many sons, some by their wives and some by other ladies,
for that is a hot country and plenteous of generation,
that they had not sufficient means to maintain them.

So the King of the Country called a Council together
and caused a parliament to be held
to ascertain if any scheme could be devised
to remove the difficulty.
After full consideration they issued a proclamation
that if anyone could inform them of any cunning art or science
which would be of any avail he should be richly rewarded.
Euclid, therefore, came before the King and his Council and offered,
on condition of being appointed by commission to rule over them,
to teach their sons the seven liberal sciences.
The commission having been granted,
Euclid took these Nobles' sons and instructed them in the science of Geometry and how to apply the knowledge to all manner of worthy works,
such as the building of castles, churches, manors, towns and houses,
and he gave them Charges similar to those which Nimrod had given in Babylon, with the addition of others which would take us too long to describe;
and he made them swear a great oath, which men used at that time
and gave them reasonable wages that they might live honestly.
And he also arranged that they should assemble annually
in order that they might take counsel together and settle any points in dispute, and how best generally to advance the interest of the craft.

Long afterwards,
when the Children of Israel were come into the Land of Behest,
which we now call Canaan,
King David began to build the Temple of the Lord,
and he loved Masons well and gave them Charges
as Euclid had done in Egypt.

And after the death of David,
his son Solomon completed the temple which his father had begun,
and he sent for masons into divers towns and countries,
and gathered together twenty-four thousand men,
of whom one thousand were ordained to be governors of work.
And there was a King of another country whose name was Hiram,
and he loved King David well and gave him timber for his work,
and he had a son name Aymon,
who was a master of Geometry and chief of all Masons
and of all graven and carved work belonging to the Temple,
as related in the First Book of Kings.

Skilful craftsmen walked abroad in different countries,
some to learn more science
and others to spread the knowledge they had already gained,
and it happened that there was a curious craftsman named Naymus Graecus
who had been at the building of King Solomon's Temple,
and he went int France and there taught the craft to Charles Martel,
who afterwards became King of that country.
Charles took upon himself the charges of a mason,
and for the love he bore to masons he set many of them to work
and gave them good wages and ordained for them an annual assembly
as previously related for masons in Egypt.

England at that time stood void of any charge of Masonry, but
when St. Amphibal came out of France
he converted St. Alban to Christianity.
The King of England at that time was a pagan,
and he walled the town of Veralum, which is now called St. Albans, round about, and St. Alban, who was a worthy Knight, was chief steward to the King,
and had the government of the realm
and also the making of all walls, towers and other works,
and he loved masons well and cherished them much
and made their pay right good, considering the times,
for he gave them thirty pence a week
with three-pence a day for their noon-findings,
for at that time a mason took but a penny a day and his meat,
and he gave them charges which St. Amphibal had taught him
and they differ but little from the charges in use at this day.
Soon after the death of St. Alban
grievous wars disturbed the realm
and the good order of Masonry was destroyed,
until the time of King Athelstane,
who brought the land to rest and peace
and erected many abbeys, castles, and other buildings,
and he had a son called Edwin,
who loved Masons even more than his father did,
and was a great practiser of Geometry and communed much with Masons,
and he was afterwards made a Mason himself,
and he obtained from the King, his father,
a charter that they might hold every year an assembly
wheresoever they wished within the realm,
that they might correct any faults, errors, or trespasses concerning their craft. Edwin himself presided over a great assembly of Masons at York,
and he there made Masons,
and he ordered all who had any writing concerning masonry to produce them, when some were found to be in Latin,
some in Greek,
some in French
and some in other languages;
but the meanings were all one,
and he caused a book to be made thereof
telling how the craft was found,
and he commanded that it should be read
whenever any Mason should be made and that he should be given his charge.

Right worshipful masters and fellows who have been at divers assemblies
from time to time since then
have ordained and made other charges
according to the necessities of the times,
and these charges have been seen and perused
by our late Sovereign Lord Henry VI
and the Lords of the honourable Council who have approved them
and agreed that they were good and reasonable.
And the good rule of masonry obtains to this day,
the charges being descended through the various channels
described in the foregoing narrative.

The manner of taking the oath at the making of Masons:

Tunc unus ex senioribus teneat librum et ille vel illi ponant manus supra librum tunc praecepta deberunt legi.
[then one of the elders shall hold out a book and he or they (who are to be made masons) shall place his or their hands upon it and the following precepts shall be read].

"Every man that is a Mason take heed right wisely to these Charges, if you find yourselves guilty of any trespasses, amend your errors against God, for it is a great peril to forswear yourselves upon a book."


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Last updated Monday September 24, 2001