Symbolical Masonry, by H.L. Haywood, , at sacred-texts.com
In the foregoing section I interpreted the group of five steps as alluding to the five senses, as the Monitorial lectures suggest; but these same lectures also make the five steps to allude to the Five Orders of Architecture, and it is to this that we must now devote our attention. In so doing we must remember that Preston's great idea in the formation of the lectures just here was to give to the candidate certain useful information which the average man of his day was unable to get elsewhere; in our times such matters are taught in the public schools and a man does not go to lodge for instruction. Some have criticised this lecture because the division of Architecture into Five Orders is no longer countenanced by Architects themselves; be that as it may, we need not quarrel over details, for it was a wise insight that led Preston to devote so much space to the builder's art, seeing that it is the one art that has given most to Masonry, even as it is still the art that furnishes Masonry with most of its symbols and illustrations. So while we may ignore a discussion of the Five Orders (though such a discussion would not be fruitless by any means and might be carried out by a Masonic Study Club with great profit) we cannot afford to omit from our study some reflections on architecture as a whole and its meanings for the Masonic life.
Perhaps the one man of modern times who, next to
[paragraph continues] Ruskin, has written most beautifully of architecture, is William Morris, a great prophet who, though not a member of the Fraternity, blazed and throbbed with the spirit which is the soul of Masonry. One of his biographers (Clutton-Brook) says that "for him the great art was always architecture; for in that he saw use made beautiful and the needs of man ennobled by their manner of satisfying them." When we ask Morris to give us a definition of this "great art" we have the following as his reply:
"A true architectural work is a building duly provided with all necessary furniture, decorated with all due ornament, according to the use, quality and dignity of the building, from mere mouldings or abstract lines, to the great epical works of sculpture and painting, which, except as decorations of the nobler forms of such buildings, cannot be produced at all."
In this definition Morris contends that a building deserving of the name of architecture must satisfy physical needs and that it must also satisfy the need for beauty. Only a structure satisfying both needs can be called architecture; therefore a mere pergola which is ornamental only, or a pigsty, which is practical only, cannot be described as architecture.
When we turn to a study of the art of building we find that Morris’ definition is borne out by facts, for always, from the first rude hut down to the last erected dwelling house or public building, men have made their buildings to house both the mind and the body. The stately structures of the ancient world were houses, books, monuments, statues, creeds, and dreams all in one; "the solemn colonades at Thebes, and the graceful dignity of the Parthenon," tell us what men hoped and believed as well as how they lived. In the Middle Ages it was the same, for throughout that long period architecture was the very
mother of all the arts; "it stood above all other arts, and made all others subservient to it. It commanded the services of the most brilliant intellects, and the greatest artists." Always a great building is more than a building; it is a human document; and a man might recover the history of the life of man upon the earth from the records left us in the ruins and remains of his architecture, so completely has man embodied his soul in the work of his hands.
"For, whatever else man may have been—cruel, tyrannous, vindictive—his buildings always have reference to religion. They bespeak a vivid sense of the Unseen and his awareness of his relation to it. As you travel through Europe, what arrests you most are the glorious cathedrals which tell of the faith of the past. One can read the history of Christianity, of its bewildering varieties, of its contradictions and oppositions, of the secrets of its life, in its buildings. The story of the Tower of Babel is not a fable. Man has ever been trying to build to heaven, embodying his prayer and dream in brick and stone. And as he wrought his faith and vision into stone, it was but natural that the tools of the builder should become the emblems of the thoughts of the thinker. Not only his tools, but his temples themselves are symbols of that House of Doctrine, that Home of the Soul, which, though unseen, he is building in the midst of the years."
"That Home of the Soul." In these words we have the secret of Masonry's use of architecture. No longer are we, as Masons, interested in the building of material structures, but we are using the builder's tools and methods, hallowed by long use, enriched by ancient associations, and found appropriate through centuries of experience,
as symbols and types of a building work of a different kind, even a great structure of truth and love wherein brethren may dwell in unity and joy. Not arbitrarily have we chosen these symbols, for men have so used them from the earliest times, as may be learned from very ancient books, the Holy Bible especially, which is full of allusions, references and metaphors, drawn from the builder's art. And this emblematic use of tools which was so instructive to early man is equally instructive now as one may learn from a study of our daily language. How often do expressions, words, and phrases, borrowed from architecture, spring to our lips! "Edification," "constructive," "solid foundation," "well founded," "roof of the world," "floor of the seas," "the walls of creation," "the windows of heaven," "erect," "construct," "raise," "edify": one could extend such a list indefinitely, for we use the ideas of building up or tearing down almost every day of our lives, and almost always, be it noted, we use the builder in a good sense, and the tearer-down in a bad sense. There is something appropriate, in the nature of things, in the intimate relation between the message of Masonry and the language of architecture. This is not to forget, of course, that there is also a historical connection between the two, for one grew out of the other; but even had there been no such actual relationships the two arts, that of the Builder and that of the Mason, respectively, have so much in common as to ideals and methods that the latter has a native right to employ the terms and symbols of the former.
What is a Mason, if not an architect of the mystical order? Insofar as he is true to his Royal Art he is one engaged in building up within himself a real, but viewless, Temple; its foundations laid deep in character, its walls formed of the solid stuff of genuine manhood, its roof the stately dome of truth, its spires the upreaching of that
aspiration toward a Higher which was the original inspiration of every great cathedral. This is no fanciful picture or collection of high sounding words; you and I have both known of brethren, have we not, formed by their Masonic fellowships and inspired by their Masonic ideals to be with whom was itself an act of worship? Truly such men are Temples, Temples not made with hands!
What is Masonry itself if not a world-builder, a social architecture on the grand style? With its fellowships established in every nation under heaven, its activities never ceasing night or day, its message uttered in nearly all the languages of the race but always the same message, it is one of the mightiest, one of the most benign, one of the most constructive of all forces in the world. When its work is finished, which will not be until the end is ended, it will have proved itself a builder of an unseen cathedral more noble, more enduring, than any ever made of stone.