PLANS AND DESIGNS.
PLAYS, LONDON CLUBS AND,
PLEDGE OF FIDELITY.
PLOT, ROBERT, M.D.
PLURALITY OF VOTES
On August 13, 1814, Pope Pius VII issued an Edict forbidding the meetings of all secret societies, and especially the Freemasons and Carbonari, under heavy corporal penalties, to which were to be added, according to the malignity of the cases, partial or entire confiscation of goods, or a pecuniary fine. The Edict also renewed the Bull of Clement XII, by which the punishment of death was incurred by those who obstinately persisted in attending the meetings of Freemasons (see Persecutions).
In strict Masonic ritualism the positions occupied by the Master and Wardens are called stations; those of the other officers, places. This distinction is not observed in the higher Degrees (see Stations).
The name by which the Minutes are designated in French Lodges. Literally, planche is a board, and traced means delineated. The planche traces is therefore the board on which the plans of the Lodge have been delineated.
PLANS AND DESIGNS.
The plans and designs on the Trestle-Board of the Master, by which the building is erected, are, in Speculative Freemasonry, symbolically referred to the moral plans and designs of life by which we are to construct our spiritual temple, and in the direction of which we are to be instructed by some recognized Divine authority (see Trestle Board).
See Academy, Platonic
PLAYS, LONDON CLUBS AND,
In 1220 King Henry III issued a charter to "The Society of Parish Clerks," often called "London Clubs." The particular clerks (clerics) referred to were those trained men in each parish upon whom a priest depended for music; and a set of notes was drawn in their crest when their charter was written. In very old times priests and monks themselves acted out "holy plays" under such titles as "Noah's Flood," "Story of Samson," etc., and it may be that it was out of this tradition that the "London Clubs" developed from a society of singers into one for writing, costuming, and acting plays for the City Companies. Herbert, one of the historians of the Companies, describes them as "being the first t actors of the middle ages."
That these clerks (Stow refers to them as "The Clerks Company") acted plays at the feasts of the London City Companies is proved by the Company books in which amounts of money paid by them for plays are frequently entered. Their subjects were nearly all taken from the Bible; and it would appear that the clerks could prepare a play for any given Company which would be appropriate to its work, especially since almost every Company had a set of legendary stories of its own origins indirectly based on Seripture stories; the Company of Carpenters, for examples based theirs on the stories of Jesus in the carpenter shop; the Shipwrights, on the story of the Ark; the Ironmongers, on the story of Tubal Cain; the Masons, on the story of Solomon and the Temple; ete. Arundell, in his Reminiscences of the City of Lone don and its Livery Companies (page 226), gives a specimen list as: "The Fall of Lucifer,1' "The Shepherds feeding their flocks by night," "The Killing of the Innocents," etc.
Toulmin Smith, who was the first scholar to make researches in the Mystery and Miracle Plays, espeeially of Chester where they were performed in public by the gilds and very elaborately, was nowhere able to find any play with any similarity to the ceremony of HA.-., nor has any other specialist since found any evidence; but it could easily be that The Clerks Company of Players had produced such a play for Masons Companies, not for use in a street pageant but for giving at a feast in the Masons Hall. Lodges of Freemasons existed separately from these permanent Masons Companies in the towns and cities, but it often happened that a Craftsman was a member of a Lodge and a Company at the same time—as is still true—so that a play originally created for a Company might be used by a Lodge.
Some students of Craft history (as is true in the ease of the present writer, do not believe that the Rite of Raising is or ever has been of theatrieal origins; others do, and it may be that these latter are more likely to find some form of a Hiram Abif story among the London Clerks' plays than among plays for street pageants.
PLEDGE OF FIDELITY.
See Right Hand, and Oath, Corporeal
The ear of corn, or sheaf of wheat, is, in the Masonic system, the symbol of plenty. In ancient iconography, the godless Plenty was reprb sented by a young nymph crowned with flowers, and holding in the right hand the horn of Amalthea, the goat that suckled Jupiter, and ln her left a bundle of sheaves of wheat, from which the ripe grain is falling profusely to the ground. There have been some differencesS in the representation of the goddess on various medals; but, as Montfauçon shows, the ears of corn are an indispensable part of the symbolism (see Shibboleth).
Doctor R. Plot, in his Vatural History of Staffordshire, published in 1686, speaks of "a scrole or parchment volume," in the possession of the Freemasons of the seventeenth century, in which it is stated that the "charges and manners Severe after perused and approved by King Henry VI." Doctor Oliver (Golden Remains iii page 35) thinks that Plot here referred to what is linowll as the Leland Manuscript, which, if true, would be a proof of the authenticity of that document. But Brother Oliver gives no evidence o the correctness of his assumption. It is more probable that the manuscript which Doctor Plot loosely quotes has not yet been recovered.
PLOT, ROBERT, M.D.
Born in 1651, and died in 1696. He was a Professor of Chemistry at Oxford, and Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, to which position he had been appointed by Elias Ashmole, to whom, however, he showed but little gratitude. Doctor Plot published, in 1686, the Natural History of Staffordshire, a work in which he went out of his way to attack the Masonic institution. An able defense against this attack will be found in the third volume of Oliver's Golden Remairl.s of the Early Masonic Writers.
The work of Doctor Plot is both interesting and valuable to the Masonic student, as it exhibits the condition of Freemasonry in the latter part of the seventeenth century, certainly, if not at a somewhat earlier period, and is an anticipated answer to the assertions of the iconoclasts who would give Freemasonry its birth in 1717. For this purpose, we insert so much of his account (from the Natural History of Staffordshire, chapter viii, page 316) ans refers to the customs of the Society in 1686.
85. To these add the Customs relating to the County, whereof they have one, of admitting Men into the Society of Freemasons, that in the Moorelands of this County seems to be of greater request than any where else, though I find the Custom spread more or less all over the Nation; for here I found persons of the most eminent quality, that did not disdain to he of this Fellowship. Nor indeed need they were it of that Antiquity and honor, that it pretended in a large parchment rolume thev have amongst them, containing the History and Rules of the craft of masonry.
Which is there deduced not only for sacred writ, but profane story, particularly that it was brought into England by Saint Amphibal, and first communicated to Saint Alban, who set down the Charges of masonry, and was made paymaster and Governor of the Kings works, and gave them charges and manners as Saint Amphibal had taught him. Which were after confirmed by King Athelstan, whose youngest son Edwyn loved well masonry, took upon him the charges and learned the manners, and obtained for them of his Father a free-Charter. Whereupon he caused them to assemble at York, and to bring all the old Books of their craft and our of them ordained such chargers and manners, as they then thought fit: which charges in the said Schrole or parchment volum, are in part declared: and thus was the craft of masonry grounded and confirmed in England.
It is also there declared that these charges and manners were after perused and approved by King Hen. 6. and his council, both as to Masters and FeUotvs of this right Worshipfull craft.
86. Into which Society when any are admitted, they call a meeting or Lodg as they term it in some places which must consist at lest of 5 or 6 of the ancients of the Order, whom the candidats present with gloves, and so likewise to their wives, and entertain with a collation according to the Custom of the place:
This ended they proceed to the admission of them which chiefly consists in the communication of certain Secret Signes, whereby they are known to one another all over the Nation, by which means they have maintenance whither ever they travel; for if any man appear though altogether unknown that can shew any of these scenes to a Fellow of the Society, whom they otherwise call an accepted mason, he is obliged presently to come to him from what company or place soever he be in, nav tho' from the top of a Steeple, what hazard or inconvenience soever he run to know his pleasure and assist him; viz., if he want work he is bound to find him some, or if he cannot doe that, to give him rnony, or otherwise support him till work can be had; which is one of their articles; and it is another, that they advise the Masters they work for. according to the best.of their skill, acquainting them with the goodness or badness of their materials; and if they be any way out in the contrivance of their buildings modestly to rectify them in it; that masonry be not dishonored: and many such like that are commonly known: but some others they have (to which they are sworn after their fashion) that none know but themselves. which I have reason to suspect are much worse than these, perhaps as bad as this History of the craft itself; than which there is nothing I ever met with, more false or incoherent.
87. For not to mention that Saint Amphibalus by judicious persons, is thought rather to be the cloak than master of Saint Alban, or how unlikely it is that Saint Alban himself in such a barbarous Age, and in times of persecution should be supervisor of any works- it is plain that King Athelstan was never marryed, or ever had so much as any natural issue; (unless we give way to the fabulous History or Guy Earl of Warwick, whose eldest son Reynburn is said indeed to have been marryed to Leoneat the supposed daughter of Athelstan, which will not serve the turn neither) much less ever had he a lawfull son Edwyn, of whom I find not the least umbrage in History. He had indeed a Brother of that name, of w horn he was so jealouse though very young when he eame to the crown, that he sent him to Sea in a pinnace Without tackle or oar, only in company vvith a page, that lsis death might be imputed to the teases and not to him whence the Young Prince (not able to master his passions) east himself headlong into the Sea and there dyed. Who how unlikely to learn their manners; to get them a Charter; or call them together at York; let the Reader judge
88. Yet more improbable is it still. that Hen. the G. and his Council, should ever peruse or approve their charges and manners, and so confirm these right Worshipfull Masters and Fellows as they are call'd in the Scrole: for in the third of his reigne when he could not be 4 years old I find an act of Parliament quite abolishing this Society.
It being therein ordained, that no Congregations and Confederacies should be made by masons, in their general Chapters and Assemblies, wherebv the good course and effect of the Statutes of Labourers; were violated and broken in subversion of Law: and that those who caused Such Chapters or Congregations to be holden, should be adjudged Felons; and those masons that came to them should be punish't by imprisonment, and make fine and ransom at the Kinas will. So very much out was the Compiler of this History of the craft of masonry, and so little skill had he in our Chronicles and Laws. Which Statute though repealed by a subsequent act in the 5 of Elize. whereby Servants and Labourers are compellable to serve, and their wages limited; and all masters made punishable for giving more wages than what is taxed by the Justices, and the servants if they take it &c. Yet this act too being but little observed, 'tis still to be feared these Chapters of Free-masons do as much mischief as before, which if one may estimate by the penalty was anciently so great, that perhaps it might be usefull to examin them now.
An instrument used by Operative Masons to erect perpendicular lines, and adopted in Speculative Freemasonry as one of the Workingtools of a Fellow Craft. sIt is a symbol of rectitude of conduct, and inculcates that integrity of life and undeviating course of moral uprightness which can alone distinguish the good and just man. As the operative workman erects his temporal building with strict observance of that plumb-line, which will not permit him to deviate a hair's breadth to the right or to the left, so the Speculative Freemason, guided by the unerring principles of right and truth inculcated in the symbolic teachings of the same implement, is steadfast in the pursuit of truth, neither bending beneath the frowns of adversity nor yielding to the seductions of prosperity.
To the man thus just and upright, the Scriptures attribute, as necessary parts of his character, kindness and liberality, temperance and moderation, truth and wisdom; and the pagan poet Horace (Book III, Ode 3) pays, in one of his most admired odes, an eloquent tribute to the stern immutability of the man who is upright and tenacious of purpose.
It is worthy of notice that, in most languages, the word which is used in a direct sense to indicate straightness of course or perpendicularity of position, is also employed in a figurative sense to express uprightness of conduct. Such are the Latm rectum, which signifies at the same time a right line and honesty or integrety; the Greek, Ap§6s, which means straight, standing upright, and also equitable, just, true; and the Hebrew tsedek, which in a physical sense denotes rightness, straightness, and in a moral, what is right and just. Our own word Right partakes of this peculiarity, right being not wrong, as well as not crooked.
- Iustum et tenacem propositi virum
- non civium ardor prava iubentium,
- non voltus instantis tyranni
- mente quatit solida neque Auster
- dux inquieti turbidus Hadriae
- nec fulminantis magna manus Iovis;
- si fractus inlabatur orbis,
- inpavidum Serient ruinae.
- The man of firm and righteous will,
- No rabble, clamorous for the wrong,
- No tyrant's brow, whose frown may kill,
- Can shake the strength that makes him strong:
- Not winds that chafe the sea they sway,
- Nor Jovews right hand with lightning red:
- Should Nature's pillar'd frame give way,
- That wreck would strike one fearless head.
- —Professor John Conington.
As to the name, it may be remarked that plumb is the word used in Speculative Freemasonry. Webster says that as a noun the word is seldom used except in composition. Its constant use, therefore, in Freemasonry, is a peculiarity.
A line to which a piece of lead is attached so as to make it hang perpendicularly. The plumb-line, sometimes called simply the line, is one of the working-tools of the Past Master. According to Preston, it was one of the instruments of Freemasonry which was presented to the Master of a Lodge at his installation, and he defines its symbolism as follows: "The line teaches the criterion of rectitude, to avoid dissimulation in conversation and action, and to direct our steps in the path which leads to immortality." This idea of the immortal life was always connected in symbology with that of the perpendicular—something that rose directly upward. Thus in the primitive church, the worshiping Christians stood up at prayer on Sunday, as a reference to the Lord's resurrection on that day. This symbolism is not, however, preserved in the verse of the prophet Amos (vii, 7) which is read in the United States as the Scripture passage of the Second Degree, where it seems rather to refer to the strict justice which God will apply to the people of Israel. It there coincides with the first Masonic definition that the line teaches the criterion of moral rectitude.
A narrow straight board, having a plumb-line suspended from its top and a perpendicular mark through its middle. It is one of the Working-tools of a Fellow Craft, but in Masonic language is called the Plumb, which see.
PLURALITY OF VOTES.
A Pocket Companion For Freemasons, by W. Smith; published at London in 1735 by E. Rider in Blackmore Street. A oollection of songs which forms one part of this book is dated 1734. The price is not given but from other sourees it is known that, unlike Anderson's Book of Constitutions, it was inexpensive, probably one shilling and six pence. The book was small (12 mo) and the author (about whom little is known) states that his design has been to produce "a small Volume easily portable, which will render what was before difficult to come at, and troublesome to carry about, of more extensive use." In it is a brief "History of SIasonry"; charges; General Regulations; Manner of Constituting a New Lodge; A Short Charge; a collection of 19 songs and a prologue; concluding with a List of Lodges in which the last entry is the Lodge at Duke of Marlborough's Head in Whitechapel, constituted November 5, 1734.
A Dublin edition was issued the same year. It differed little from the London edition except that it carried an approbation by the Grand Master (Lord Kingsland) which the London Edition had not done, doubtless because it was considered to encroach upon the rights of the Anderson Book of Constitutions of 1723; and that it gave "lawful age" as twenty-one instead of twenty-five as in England. In this edition is the oft-discussed entry of an American Lodge dated at 1735: "The Hoop in Wator Street, in Philadelphia, 1st Monday." (A copy of the Dublin Edition is in the vaults of the Iowa Grand Lodge Library, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.)
In 1736 another issue of the London edition was published by John Torbuck.
In 1738 Smith himself brought out a new and somewhat enlarged edition which included the "Defense of Masonry," believed to have been written by Martin Clare.
A North of England Edition, entitled The Book M, was published at Newcastle, in 1736.
A German edition was brought out in Frankfort, 1738. Other German editions followed, and other books of a similar kind were published soon after in Belgium and France.
An edition was published in Edinburgh in 1752, and again in 1754.
A Dublin Edition; 1764. Other London editions in 1754; 1759; 1761; 1764.
At this time "pocket companion" became a generic term, and for decades one work after another of a similar kind was produced until the end of the century; they were entitled Vademecum, Principles, Institutes, Repository, Practice, Musical Mason, etc.
Regardless of titles these books went by the general name of pocket companions—"pocket" because they were small, "companions" because they were reference (and song) books; and they satisfied a want felt by Masons everywhere because the Anderson Book of Constitutions was too large and too costly. (To judge by Lodge Minutes the larger number of the Anderson books must have been purchased by Lodges out of their general funds.) Until Hutchinson published his Spirit of Masonry and Preston his Illustrations they were, except for official or semi-official manuals, the only generally available Masonic reading matter, and the fact explains why it was that on both sides of the Atlantic Masons had but a meager understanding of Freemasonry and often were puzzled by its practices; yet the Pocket Books (like Old Catechisms and Engraved Lists), and for all their dryness, are invaluable because they contain essential data not found elsewhere.
NOTE. The attitude of the Grand Lodge toward the two Books of Constitutions to which the name of James Anderson was attached remained ambiguous for decades: The Grand Lodge itself ordered the book to be prepared, George Payne prepared almost half of it, yet the Grand Lodge not only put Anderson's name on the Title Page but left it to him to have the book published- and npparently the Grand Lodge never gave an all-out official endorsement to either the 1723 or the 1738 editions. If it was an official publication by the Grand Lodge why did it permit a private writer to publish it? Why did it leave it to the option of Lodges to purchase it or not? Why did it not give copies to the Lodges without charge as Grand Lodges now give Proeeedings? If it was official why did the Grand Lodge permit divergent forms of ceremony to be used? And why did it suffer other, and private, publieations to be used in lieu of it? If it was not Official, why did Grand Lodge sponsor it? The data as a whole gives the impression that this ambiguity was a settled policy- and in that formative period of the Grand Lodge system doubtless was a wise one.