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Mr. Locke has made several judicious observations on the answer which is given to the question here proposed. His being in the dark concerning the meaning of the faculty of Abrac, I am not surprised at, nor can I conceive how he could otherwise be. ABRAC is an abreviation of the word ABRACADABRA. In the days of ignorance and superstition, that word had a magical signification; but the explanation of it is now lost.*
His mother hearing this, and he seeming unwilling to reveal it, she took it for an infallible truth. Her blood was quickly fired, and rage ensued. Without enquiring any farther into the merits of the case, she immediately dispatched messengers to all the other ladies and matrons of Rome, to acquaint them with the weighty affair under deliberation in the senate, which so nearly concerned the peace and wolfare of their whole lives. The melancholy news scon spread a general alarm, and many conjectures were formed. The ladies, resolved to give their assistance in the decision of this weighty point, immediately assembled. Headed by young, Papyrus's mother, next morning they proceeded to the senate-house; and though is remarked, that a parliament of women is seldom governed by one speaker, yet the affair being urgent, the haste pertinent, and the case (on their behalf) of the utmost consequence, the revealing woman must speak for all the rest. It was agreed, that she should insist on the necessity of the concurrence of the senators' wives to the determination of a law in which they were so particularly interested. When they came to the door of the senate-house, such a noise was made for admission to sit with their husbands in this grand consultation, that all Rome seemed to be in an up
Their business, however, must be known, before they could gain an audience. This being complied with, and their admission granted, such an elaborate oration was made by the female speaker on the occasion in behalf of her sex, as astonished the whole senators. She requested, that the matter might not be hastily determined, but be seriously canvassed according to justice and equity; and expressed the determined resolutions of herself and her sisters, to oppose a measure so unconstitutional as that of permitting one husband to have two wives, who could scarcely please one. She proposed, in the name of her sisters, as the most effectual way of peopling the state that if any alteration were to be made in the established custom of Rome, women might be permitted to have two husbands. The senators being informed of Papyrus's scheme to preserve his reputation, and the riddle being publicly solved, the ladies were greatly confounded, and departed with blushing cheeks; while the noble youth, who had proved himself worthy of his trust, was highly commended for his fidelity. To avoid a like tumult in future, it was resolved, that the custom of introducing the sons of senators should be abolished. Papyrus, however, on account of his attachment to his word, and his discreet policy, was excepted from this restriction, and ever afterwards freely admitted into the senate house, where many honours were conferred upon him.
The virtue and fidelity of young Papyrus are indeed worthy of imitation : but the masons have still a more glorious example, in their own body, of a brother, accomplished in every art, who, rather than forfeit his honour, or betray his trust, fell a sacrifice to the cruel hand of a barbarous assassin.
* Mr. Hutchinson, in his ingenious treatise, intitled The Spirit of Masonry, gives the following explanation of the word ABRAC; which, as it is curious, I shall here insert in that gentleman's own words:
Our celebreted annotator has taken no notice of the Masons having the art of working miracles, and foresaying things to come. But this was certainly not the least imporant of their doctrines; hence astrology was admitted as one of the arts which they taught, and the study of it was warmly recommended in former times.
The ancient philosophers applied with unwearied diligence to discover the aspects, magnitude, distances, motions, and revolutions of the heavenly bodies ; and, according to the discoveries they made, pretended to foretell future events, and to determine concerning the secrets of Providence. This study afterwards became a regular science.
Astrology, however vain and delusive in itself, has certainly proved extremely useful to mankind, by promoting the excellent science of astronomy. The vain hope of reading the fates of
“ ABRAC, or ABRACAR, was a name which Basilides, a religious of the second century, gave to God; who, he said, was the author of three hundred and sixty-five.
The author of this superstition is said to have lived in the time of Adrian, and that it had its name after A BRASAN or A BRAXAS, the denomination which Basilides gave to the Deity. He called him the Supreme God, and ascribed to him seven subordinate powers of angels, who presided over the heavens : and also, according to the number of the days in the year, beld, that three hundred and sixty-five virtues, powers, or intelligences, existed as the emanations of God; the value, or numerical distinction of the letters in the word, according to the ancient Greek numerals, made 365.
Among antiquaries, Abraxas is an antique gem, or stone, with the word ABRAXAS engraved on it. There are a great many kinds of them, of various figures and sizes, mostly as old as the third century. Persons professing the religious principles of Basilides wore this gem with great veneration as an amulet, froin whose virtues, and the protection of the Deity, to whom it was consecrated, and with whose name it was inscribed, the wearer derived health, prosperity, and safety.
There is deposited in the British Museum such a gem, which is a besil stone of the form of an egg. The head is in cameo, the reverse in intaglio.
In church history, Abrax is noted as a mystical term, expressing the Supreme God; under whom the Basilidians supposed three hundred and sixty-five dependent deities : it was the principle of the Gnostic hierarchy, whence sprang their multitudes of Thæons. From ABRAXAS proceeded their PRIMOGENIAL MIND; from the primogenial mind, the Logos, or Word; from the Logos, the PuroNÆSIS, or Prudence; from the Phronæsis, SOPHJA and DYNAMIS, or Wisdom and Strength ; from these two proceeded PRINCIPALITIES, POWERs, and ANGELS; and from these, other angels, to the number of three hundred and sixty-five, who were supposed to have the government of so many celestial orbs committed to their care."
men, and the success of their designs, has been one of the strongest motives to induce them, in all countries, to an attentive, observation of the celestial bodies; whence they have been taught to measure time, mark the duration of seasons, and regulate the operations of agriculture.
The science of astrology, which is nothing more than the study of nature, and the knowledge of the secret virtues of the heavens, is founded on scripture, and confirmed by reason and experience. Moses tells us, that the sun, moon, and stars, were placed in the firmament, to be for signs as well as for seasons. We find the Deity thus addressing Job, “ Canst thou bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades, or loose the bonds of Orion?” We are instructed in the book of Judges, that “ they fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.” The ancient philosophers were unanimous in the same opinion; and
among the moderns, we may cite Lord Bacon, and several others, as giving it a sanction: Milton thus expresses himself on the subject :
Of planetary motions and aspects
Their influence malignant when to shower &c. It is well known, that inferior animals, and even birds and reptiles, have a foreknowledge of futurity; and surely Nature never intended to withhold from man those favours which she has so liberally bestowed on the raven, the cat, and the sow? No, the aches in our limbs, and the shootings of our corns, before a tempest or a shower, evince the contrary. Man, who is a microcosm, or world in minature, unites in himself all the powers and qualities which are scattered throughout nature, and discerns from certain signs the future contingencies of his being; finding his way through the palpable obscure to the visible diurnal and nocternal sphere, he marks the presages and predictions of his happiness or misery. The mysterious and recondite doctrine of sympathies in Nature, is admirably illustrated from the sympathy between the moon and the sea : by which the waters of the ocean are, in a certain, though inconceivable manner, drawn after that luminary. In these celestial and terrestrial sympathies, there is no doubt that the vegetative soul of the world transfers a specific virtue from the heavens to the elements, to animals, and to man. If the moon alone rules the world of waters, what effects must the combination of the solar, stellar, and lunar influences have upon the land? In short, it is universally confessed, that astrology is the mother of astronomy; and though the daughter may have rebelled against the mother, it has
long been predicted and expected that the venerable authority of the parent would prevail in the end.
Page 111. Wylle he teche me thay same artes ?] By the answer to this question, we learn the necessary qualifications which are required in a candidate for Masonry—a good character, and an able capacity.
Page 1il. Dothe all Maçonnes kunne more then odher menne?] The answer only implies, that Masons have a better opportunity than the rest of mankind to improve in useful knowledge; though a want of capacity in some, and of application in others, obstructs the progress of many.
Page 111. Are Maçonnes gudder menne then odhers ?] Masons are not understood to be, collectively. more virtuous in their lives and actions than other men; but it is an undoubted fact, that a strict conformity to the rules of the profession may. make them better men than they otherwise would be.
Page 111. Dothe Maçonnes love eider odher myghtylye as beeth sayde ?] The answer to this question is truly great, and is judiciously remarked upon by the learned annotator..
By the answers to the three last questions, the objection of cavillers against Masonry are amply refuted: the excellency of the institution is displayed ; and every censure against it, on account of the transgressions of its professors, entirely removed. A bad man, if his character be known, can never be inrolled in our records; and should we be unwarily led to receive an improper object, then our endeavours are exerted to reform him: so that, by being a Mason, it is probable he may become a better subject to his sovereign, and a more valuable member of society, than he would have done had he not been in the way of those advanta- / ges.
To conclude, Mr. Locke's observations on the whole of this curious manuscript deserve a serious and careful examination : and though he was not at the time one of the Brotherhood, he seems pretty clearly to have comprehended the value and inportance of the system which he endeavoured to illustrate. We may, therefore, fairly conjecture, that the favourable opinion which he conceived of the Society of Masons before his admission, was sufficiently confirmed after his initiation.
This document would make it appear, that Masonry was originally something more than a meddling with stones and mortar, and that it was speculative or metaphorical, as well as operative. The document is certainly a curious one, for it makes Masonry to be a philosophical institution, teaching and practising the whole of human knowledge real and pretended, that they existed, or that could be discovered. If it ever did possess such a character, it has the
discredit to have lost it; for it has exhibited nothing of the kind within the last century: and if Mr. Locke did enter the association, he must have met a wretched disappointment. But the document is evidently glossed, for it assumes too much. The lodge of Masons exhibits no emblems of agriculture, of music of chemistry, or of poetry; for the ear of corp and fall of water, or the sprig of cassia, cannot be fairly considered, nor are they represented as emblematic of agriculture.
The document itself exhibits great ignorance of history and supports masonry upon one point, that masons vainly meddle with various matters wbich they do not understand, and of which they make no useful application. Mr. Locke excuses the errors of the document, by attributiog them to an ignorant clerk ; but there is no evidence of a clerk in the matter. The document is professedly, in its original, the hand writing of Henry the sixth, who, if not learned in himself, could command all the learning of the country for its explanation and correction. And John Leland, who was a learned man for his day, does not seem to have detected or corrected its errors. I cannot see a single reason why Venetians should be accounted an error for Phenicians; for, if the Phenicians brought the mystery of masonry to England, as some masons assume, this writer would have had no need to have sought the aid of Peter Gower or Pythagoras for that purpose. The document is a mixture of conceit and ignorance, such as always detects itself.
The word kymistrye, in a description of the arts taught by Masons, arrests my attention, for 1 do not understand, that such a word was in use before the seventeenth century. Alchymistry, we know, was practised in this country, by Roger Bacon, in the thirteenth century. But Chemistry cannot be said to have begun as a science until the eighteenth century, though a smattering of it was known in the seventeenth. This is a point which I will leare to the more learned in ancient lore. A knowledge of this kind forms no part of my ambition.
In the eighth answer, we are told, that Masons had an art to discover other arts that they had secrets to prevent any secrets from being kept from them; that they could work miracles and foretel things to come; that they had the art of changes, by wbich I understand the art of legerdemain, that they had the way of winning the faculty of