C I R C U L A R
THROUGHOUT THE TWO HEMISPHERES.
UNIVERSI TERRARUM ORBIS ARCHITECTONIS
PER GLORIAM INGENTIS
D E U S M E U M Q U E J U S.
ORDO AB CHAO
FROM THE East of the Grand and Supreme Council of the most Puissant Sovereigns, Grand Inspectors General, under the Celestial Canopy of the Zenith, which answers to the 32d deg. 45. Min. N. L.
To our illustrious, most valiant and Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret, Knights of K. H. Illustrious Princes and Knights, Grand Ineffable and Sublime, Free and Accepted Masons of all degrees, Ancient and Modern, over the surface of the two Hemispheres.
To all those to whom these Letters shall come,HEALTH, STABILITY, AND POWER.
At a meeting of Sovereign Grand Inspectors General in Supreme Council, of the 33d degree, duly and lawfully established and congregated, held at the Grand Council Chamber, on the 14th day of the 7th Month, called Tisri 5563, Anno Lucis. 5806, and of the Christian Æra, the 10th day of October, 1802;
UNION, CONTENTMENT, AND WISDON.
The Grand Commander informed the Inspectors, that they were convened for the purpose of taking into consideration, the propriety of addressing circular Letters to the different Symbolic Grand Lodges, and Sublime Grand Lodges and Councils throughout the two Hemispheres, explanatory of the origin and nature of the Sublime degrees of Masonry, and their establishment in South Carolina:
When a resolution to that effect was immediately adopted, and a committee, consisting of the illustrious Brethren, Doctor Frederick Dalcho, Doctor Isaac Auld, Emmanuel De La Motta, Esquire, Grand Inspectors General, was appointed to draft and submit such a letter to the Council at their next meeting.
At a meeting of the Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, in Supreme Council of the 33d. &c. &c. &c. on the 10th day of the 8th Month called Chisleu, 5563, A. L. 5806, and of the Christian Æra, this 4th day of December, 1802.
The Committee to whom was referred the foregoing resolve, respectfully submitted to the Council the following,
R E P O R T
To trace the progress of Masonry from its earliest period, and to fix, precisely, the dates of the establishment of each of the degrees are attended with considerable difficulty. As Symbolic Masons, we date our origin from the creation of the world, when the Almighty Builder, the Grand Architect of the Universe, established those immutable laws, which gave rise to the Sciences. Mutual wants and necessities impelled our primordial brethren to seek mutual assistance. Diversity of talents, genius, and pursuits, rendered them, in some measure, dependent on each other, and thus, society was formed, and as a natural consequence, men of the same habits and dispositions associated more intimately together, which gave rise to institutions connected with their designs, and suited to their genius; these led to the exclusion of those whose talents, habits or circumstances, either disqualified them from participating in the knowledge of the others, or rendered them dangerous or unprofitable to the welfare of their general interests.
As civilization began to extend through the world, and the minds of men became enlarged from the contemplation of the works of nature, the arts and sciences were cultivated by the most ingenious of the people. The contemplation of the Planetary system, as the work of an Almighty Artist, and the attributes of their God, gave rise to Religion and the Science of Astronomy. The measurement of land and the division and marking of their property, gave rise to Geometry, and these, collectively, to the Mystic order, and watch Words, Signs, and Tokens were established to designate the initiated or admitted.
It is, perhaps impossible to fix precisely the time, when the first degrees were established in the form in which they are now given, as most of the ancient records of the Craft were lost or destroyed, in England, in the wars of the Danes and Saxons. Much of the History of Masonry, in the early ages, is so mixed with fable and enveloped with the rust of time, that little satisfaction can be obtained; but as we approach nearer to our own times, we have authentic records for our government.
The peculiar manner in which the three first or Blue Degrees are given, as well as the matter of them, clearly evince them to be merely symbols of the Superior or Sublime Degrees. They were formed as the test of the character and capacity of the initiated, before they should be admitted to the knowledge of the more important mysteries.
In the ______ Degree, we are informed that, in consequence of the death of * *, the Master’s word was lost, and that a new one, which was not known before the building of the Temple, was substituted in its place. IF Masonry, as is generally believed, and as many of our ancient records import, took its rise from the creation, and flourished in the first ages of man, they were in possession of a secret Word, of which, the Masons under Solomon had no knowledge. Here then was an innovation of one of the fundamental principles of the Craft, and a removal of one of the ancient Landmarks; this, however, we are unwilling to allow. It is well known to the Blue Master, that King Solomon and his Royal visitor were in possession of the real and pristine word, but of which, he must remain ignorant, unless into the Sublime Degrees. The authenticity of this Mystic Word, as known to us, and for which our much respected Master died, is proven to the most sceptic mind, from the sacred pages of the Holy Writ, and the Jewish history from the earliest period of time. Doctor Priestley, in his letters to the Jews, has the following remarkable passage, when speaking of the miracles of Christ. And it has since been said, by your writers, that he performed his miracles by means of some ineffable name of God which he stole out of the Temple. Notwithstanding the Symbolic Masons profess their societies to have originated in the first ages of the world, and date from the creation, yet in their degrees, nothing is taught them but occurrences which took place at the building of the first Temple, (an inconsiderable period of about seven years,) 2992 years after the creation. The history of their order previous to that period, and the extensive and important improvements in the art, both before and since, they are unacquainted with.
Many of the Lectures of the Sublime degrees contain an epitome of the arts and sciences, and in their history many valuable and important facts are recorded, obtained from authentic archives in the possession of our society, and which from the manner of their communication can never be mutilated or corrupted. This is an object of the first magnitude in a society whose principles and practices should be invariable. Much variety and irregularity has unfortunately crept into the Blue degrees, in consequence of the want of Masonic knowledge in many of those who preside over their meetings, and it is particularly so with those, who are unacquainted with the Hebrew language, in which all the Words and Pass-Words are given. So essentially necessary is it for a man of science to preside over a Lodge, that much injury may arise from the smallest deviation in the ceremony of initiation, or in the Lectures of instruction. We read in the book of Judges, that the transposition of a single point over the Sheen, in consequence of a national defect among the Ephraimites, designated the Cowans, and led to slaughter of forty-two thousand. The Sublime figure of the Divinity formed in the Fellow Crafts degree can be elegantly illustrated, only by those who possess some knowledge of the Talmud. Most of the Words in the sublime degrees are derived from the Chaldean, Hebrew, and Latin languages.
The various translations which the Symbolic degrees have undergone since their first establishment, from one language to another, and that, oftentimes, by men illiterate even in their mother tongue, is another cause of the variety which we lament. Not so the superior degrees, they appear in that Sublime dress which their founders gave them; originating in science and embellished by genius. Many of the Sublime degrees are founded on the polite arts, and unfold a mass of information of the first importance to Masons.
Although many of the Sublime degrees are, in fact, a contribution of the Blue degrees, yet there is no interference between the two bodies. Throughout the continent of Europe, and the West Indies, where they are very generally known, they are acknowledged and encouraged. The Sublime Masons never initiate any into the Blue degrees, without a legal warrant, obtained for that purpose, from a Symbolic Grand Lodge; but they communicate the secrets of their Chair to such applicants, who have not already received it, previous to their initiation into the Sublime Lodge, but they are, at the same time, informed, that it does not give them rank as Past Masters in the Grand Lodge.*
*Although the Sublime Masons, have not, in this country, initiated any into the Blue degrees, yet their Councils possess the indefeasible right, of granting Warrants for that purpose. It is common on the Continent of Europe, and may be the case here, should circumstances render the exercise of this power necessary. The legality of this right is derived from the highest Masonic authority in the world, and can be demonstrated to the perfect satisfaction of every Masonic, Judicial, or Legislative Body. Throughout the Continent of Europe, England, Ireland and the West Indies, every Sublime Mason is recognized as a lawful Past Master. In England and in many of the States of America, the Grand Officers must be Royal Arch Masons. The Inspectors, have not, as yet, insisted on it in this State, merely because they wished to have no interference with the Symbolic degrees; but hey are, at the same time, fully convinced that the Sublime Masons are as lawfully made Past Masters, under as regular and authentic Warrant and Constituted as his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, who is the Grand Master of England.
The Sublime Grand Lodge, sometimes called the Ineffable Lodge or the Lodge of Perfection, extends from the 4th to the 14th degrees inclusive, which last, is the degree of Perfection. The 16th degree is the Grand Council of Princes of Jerusalem, who hold jurisdiction over the 15th degree, called Knights of the East, and also over the Sublime Grand Lodge, and is to them, what a Symbolic Grand Lodge is to the subordinate Lodges. Without a Warrant and Constitution regularly issued by them, or by an higher Council or Inspector, they are deemed irregular and are punished accordingly. All the degrees above the 16th, are under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Council of Grand Inspectors General, who are Sovereigns of Masonry. When it is necessary to establish the Sublime degrees, in a country where they are unknown, a Brother of the 29th degree, which is called K-H. is appointed Deputy Inspector General over the District. He selects from among the Craft such Brethren as he believes will do honor to the society, and communicates the sublime degrees to as many as is necessary for the first organization of the Lodge, when they elect their own officers, and govern themselves by the Constitution and Warrant which is furnished them. The jurisdiction of a Lodge of Perfection, is twenty-five Leagues.
It is well known that about 27,000 Masons accompanied the Christian Princes in the Crusades, to recover the Holy Land from the Infidels. While in Palestine, they discovered several important Masonic manuscripts, among the descendents of the ancient Jews, which enriched our Archives with authentic written records, and on which, some of our degrees are founded.
In the years 5308,* and 5315,† some very extraordinary discoveries were made, and occurrences took place, which renders the Masonic History of that period, of the highest importance: a period dear to the Masons’ heart, who is zealous in the cause of his Order, his Country and his God.
* A. D. 1304. † A. D. 1311
Another very important discovery was made in the year 5557, ‡ of a record in Syriac Characters, relating to the most remote antiquity, and from which it would appear, that the world is many thousand years older than given by the Mosaic account; an opinion entertained by many of the learned. Few of these characters were translated until the reign of our Illustrious and most Enlightened Brother, Frederic II. King of Prussia, whose well-known zeal for the Craft, was the cause of much improvement in the Society, over which he condescended to preside.
‡ A. D. 1553.
As society improved, and as discoveries of old records were made, the number of our Degrees were increased, until, in process of time, the system became complete.
From such of our records as are authentic, we are informed of the establishment of the Sublime and Ineffable Degrees of Masonry in Scotland, France, and Prussia, immediately after the first Croisade. But from some circumstances, which to us are unknown, after the year 5662,* they fell into neglect until the year 5748,† when a Nobleman from Scotland, visited France, and reestablished the Lodge of Perfection in Bourdeaux.
*A. D. 1658. † A. D. 1744.
In 5765‡ the Lodges and Councils of the Supreme Degrees being extended throughout the continent of Europe, His Majesty the King of Prussia, as Grand Commander of the Order of Prince of the Royal Secret, was acknowledged by all the Craft as the head of the Sublime and Ineffable Degrees of Masonry, throughout the two Hemispheres. His Royal Highness Charles, Hereditary Prince of the Swedes, Goths, and Vandals, Duke of Subermania, Heir of Norway, &c. &c. &c. was, and still continues, the Grand Commander and Protector of the Sublime Masons in Sweden, and his Royal Highness Louis of Bourbon, Prince of the Blood, Duc de Chartres, &c. &c. &c. and the Cardinal, Prince de Rohan, Bishop of Strasburg, were at the head of those degrees, in France.
‡ A. D. 1761
On the 25th of October 5766,* the Grand Masonic Constitutions were finally ratified in Berlin, and proclaimed for the government of all the Lodges of the Sublime and Perfect Masons, Chapters, Councils, Colleges, and Consistories of the Royal and Military Art of Free-Masonry, over the surface of the two Hemispheres. There are secret Constitutions, which have existed from the time immemorial, and are alluded to, in these instruments.
* A. D. 1762
In the same year, the Constitutions were transmitted to our Illustrious Brother Stephen Morin, who had been appointed, on the 27th of August 5765,† Inspector General over all Lodges, &c. &c. &c. in the New World, by the Grand Consistory of Princes of the Royal Secret, convened in Paris, at which presided the King of Prussia’s deputy, Chaillon de Jonville, Substitute General of the Order, Right Worshipful Master of the first Lodge in France, called St. Anthony’s, Chief of the Eminent Degrees, Commander and Sublime Prince of the Royal Secrets, &c. &c. &c.
† A. D. 1761
The following Illustrious Brethren were also present:
The Brother Prince de Rohan, Master of the Grand Intelligence Lodge, and Sovereign Prince of Masonry, &c.
La Corne, substitute of the Grand Master, Right Worshipful Master of the Trinity Lodge, Grand, Elect, Perfect, Knight and Prince of Masons, &c.
Maximilian de St. Simon, Senior Grand Warden, Grand, Elect, Perfect, Knight and Prince of Masons, &c.
Savalette de Buchelay, Grand keeper of the Seals, Grand, Elect, Perfect, Knight and Prince Masons, &c.
Duc de Choiseuil, Right Worshipful Master of the Lodge of the Children of Glory, Grand, Elect, Perfect, Master, Knight and Prince of Masons, &c.
Topin, Grand Ambassador from his Serene Highness, Grand, Elect, Perfect, Master, Knight and Prince of Masons, &c.
Boucher de Lenoncour, Right Worshipful Master of the Lodge of Virtue, Grand, Elect, Perfect, Master, Knight and Prince of Masons, &c.
Brest de la Chausee, Right Worshipful Master, of the Exactitude Lodge, Grand, Elect, Perfect, Master, Knight and Prince of Masons, &c. The Seals of the Order were affixed and the Patent countersigned by;
Daubertain, Grand, Elect, Perfect, Master, Knight and Prince of Masons, Right Worshipful Master of the Lodge of St. Alphonso, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge and Sublime Council of Princes of Masons, &c.
When brother Morin arrived in St. Domingo, he, agreeably to his patent, appointed a Deputy Inspector General for North America. This high honor was conferred on Brother M. M. Hayes, with the power of appointing others, where necessary. Brother Morin also appointed Brother Frankin, Deputy Inspector General for Jamaica and the British Leeward Islands, and Brother Colonel Provost, for the Windward Islands and the British Army.
Brother Hayes appointed Brother Isaac Da Costa, Deputy Inspector General, for the State of South Carolina, who in the year 5737*, established the Sublime Grand Lodge of Perfection in Charleston. After Brother Da Costa’s death, Brother Joseph Myers was appointed Deputy Inspector General for this State, by Brother Hayes, who also, had previously appointed Brother Colonel Solomon Bush, Deputy Inspector general for the State of Pennsylvania, and Brother Barend M. Spitzer, to the same rank for Georgia, which was confirmed by a convention of Inspectors when convened in Philadelphia, on the 15th of June, 5785.†
* A. D. 1783 † A. D. 1781
On the 1st of May, 5790, ‡ the Grand Constitution of the 33d degree, called the Supreme Council of Sovereign Grand Inspectors General was finally ratified by his Majesty the King of Prussia, who, as Grand Commander of the Order of Prince of the Royal Secret, possessed the Sovereign Masonic power over all the Craft. In the new Constitution this High Power was conferred on a Supreme Council of nine Brethren in each Nation, who possess all the Masonic prerogatives, in their own district, that his Majesty individually possessed; and each Sovereigns of Masonry. §
On the 20th of February, 5792, the Grand Council of Princes of Jerusalem was opened in this City, at which were present Brother J. Myers, D. I. G. for South Carolina, Brother B. M. Spitzer, D. I. G. for Georgia, and Brother A. Forst, D. I. G. for Virginia. Soon after the opening of the Council, a letter was addressed to His Royal Highness the Duke of Orleans, on the subject, requesting certain records from the Archives of the Society in France, which in his answer through Colonel Shee, his Secretary, he very politely promised to transmit; but which, the commencement of the French Revolution, most unfortunately prevented. *
*Brother Myers now acts in Virginia, Brother Hayes in Massachusetts, and in Pennsylvania, Brothers Jonathan Bayard Smith, P. Le Barbier Du Plessis and J. P. Puglia. In New York, the highest degree, which is held there, at present, is the 18th.
§ As the knowledge of the following Articles of the Grand Constitution of the 33d degree, or Supreme Council of Grand Inspectors General, may be useful to the Sublime Masons, I have transcribed them.
Article 9th. No Deputy Inspector can use his patent, in any country, where a Supreme Council of Inspectors General, is established, unless it shall be signed by the said Council.
Art. 10th. No Deputy Inspector heretofore appointed, or, who may be appointed, by virtue of this Constitution, shall have power o grant patents, or to give the degree of K-H. or the higher degrees.
Art.11th. The degree of K-H. and the degrees of Prince of the Royal Secret, are never to be given, but in the presence of three Sovereign Grand Inspectors General.
Art. 12th. The Supreme Council shall exercise all the Sovereign Masonic power, of which his August Majesty, Frederick II. King of Prussia is now possessed, in recalling the patents of Deputy Inspectors for improper, unmasonic conduct. &c. &c.
The Patents of the Grand Inspectors General, contain the following Paragraph: "And we hereby authorize and empower our said Illustrious Brother_______ , to establish, congregate, superintend and inspect, all Lodges, Chapters, Councils, Colleges, and Consistories of the Royal and Military Order of Ancient and Modern Free-Masonry, over the surface of the two Hemispheres agreeably to the Grand Constitutions." &c.
In this part of the report, the Inspectors omitted to insert, that on the 20th of February 5792 (A. D. 1788) the Royal Arch Chapter, in this city, working under a Warrant from Dublin, formed a junction with the Sublime Grand Lodge, and their members were received into our degrees, free of expense, and were acknowledged as high as the 13thinclusive.
F. D.On the 2d of August, 5799,† Brother Colonel John Mitchell, late Deputy Quarter Master General in the Armies of the United States, was made a Deputy Inspector General for this State, by Brother Spitzer, who acted in consequence of Brother Myers’ removal out of the country. Brother Mitchell was restricted from acting until after Brother Spitzers’ death, which took place in the succeeding year.
† A. D. 1795
On the 31th of May, 5805,‡ the Supreme Council of the 33d Degree for the United States of America, was opened with the high honors of Masonry, by Brothers John Mitchell and Frederick Dalcho, Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, and in the course of the present year, the whole number of Grand Inspectors General was completed, agreeably to the Grand Constitutions.
‡ A. D. 1801.
On the 21st of January, 5806,* a warrant of Constitution passed the seal of the Grand council of Princes of Jerusalem, for the establishment of a Mark-Master Masons Lodge in this city.
* A. D. 1802.
On the 21st of February, 5806,* our Illustrious Brother, Count Alexandre Francois Auguste DeGrasse, Deputy Inspector General, was appointed, by the Supreme Council, a Grand Inspector General, and Grand Commander in the French West Indies; and our Illustrious Brother, Jean Baptiste Marie De La Houge, Deputy Inspector General, was also received as an Inspector General, and appointed Lieutenant Grand Commander in the same Islands.
On the 4th of December, 5806, † a Warrant of Constitution passed the seal of the Grand Council of Princes of Jerusalem, for the establishment of a Sublime Grand Lodge in Savannah, Georgia.
† A. D. 1802.
The Names of the Masonic Degrees are as follow,
1st Degree called Entered Apprentice.
30, 31,32 Prince of the Royal Secret, Prince of Masons.
* His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, &c. is, at present, the presiding Officer of the Degree of K-H. in England.
† The 1st, 2d, and 3d degrees are given in the Symbolic Lodge. From the 4th to the 14th inclusive, in the Sublime Grand Lodge, and the Officers of both, are elected annually. The 15th and 16th are given by the Council of Princes of Jerusalem, the Officers of which are also elected annually. From the 17th to the 33d inclusive, are given by the Inspectors who are Sovereigns of Masonry. The Officers of the Supreme Council are appointed for life.
Besides those degrees which are in regular succession, most of the Inspectors are in possession of a number of detached degrees, given in different parts of the world, and which, they generally communicate, free of expense, to those Brethren who are high enough to understand them. Such as Select Masons of 27 and the Royal Arch, as given under the Constitution of Dublin. Six Degrees of Maconnerie d’Adoption, Companon Ecossais; le Maitre Ecossais, et le Grand Maitre Ecossais, &c. &c. making in the aggregate, 33 Degrees.
The committee respectfully submit to the consideration of the Council, the above report on the Principles and establishment of the Sublime Degrees of the Society. They cannot, however, conclude, without expressing their ardent wishes for the prosperity and dignity of the Institutions over which this Supreme Council presides; and they flatter themselves that if any unfavorable impressions have existed among their Brethren of the Blue degrees, from the want of a knowledge of the principles and practices, of Sublime Masonry, it will be done away, and that harmony and affection, will be the happy cements of the universal society of Free and Accepted Masons. That as all aim at the improvement of the general condition of mankind by the practice of virtue, and the exercise of benevolence, so they sincerely wish, that any little differences which may have arisen, in unimportant ceremonies of Ancient and Modern, may be reconciled, and given way to the original principles of the order, those great bulwarks of society, universal benevolence and brotherly love, and that the extensive fraternity of Free Masons, throughout the two Hemispheres, may form but one band of Brotherhood. "Behold how good, and how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity."
They Respectfully Salute your Supreme Council, by the Sacred Numbers.
Charleston, South Carolina, the 10th day of the 8th Month called Chisleu, 5563, A. L. 5806, and of the Christian Ǽra, this day of December, 1802.
K-H: P. R. S. Sovereign
Grand Inspector General of
The 33d, and Lieutenant
Grand Commander in the
United States of America.
K-H: P. R. S. Sovereign
Grand Inspector General of
E. DE LA MOTTA,
K-H: P. R. S. Sovereign
Grand Inspector General of
the 33d, and Illustrious
Treasurer General of the
The above report was taken into consideration, and the Council was pleased to express the highest approbation of the same.
Whereupon Resolved, that the forgoing Report be printed and transmitted to all the Sublime and Symbolic Grand Lodges, throughout the two Hemispheres.
K-H: P. R. S. Sovereign
Grand Inspector General of
33d, and Grand Com-
mander in the United States
True Extract from the deliberations of the Council:
Abraham Alexander,K-H: P. R. S. Sovereign
Grand Inspector General of
the 33d, and Illustrious Se-
cretary General of the H.
DEUS MEUMQUE JUS.
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