[Square & Compasses]

Selected aphorisms

from The Book of the Lodge

by George Oliver (1782-1867)

XXV: Never enter into a dispute with a cowan. Like the deaf adder he will stop his ears, and refuse to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. No matter how clear are your facts, or how convincing your arguments, still he will turn an incredulous ear to your reasoning. Though you anxiously cry out, Oh, Baal, hear us, and even cut yourself with knives and lancets to bespeak his attention, there will be neither voice nor any answer, nor any that regardeth. You may as well endavour to extinguish the sun by pelting it with snowballs, or to cut rocks in pieces with a razor, as to make any genial impression on the mind of a professed cowan.

LVII: How many disputes arise out of trifles! And how greatly would they be diminished if every one would deliberatly ask himself this question -- whether is it better to sacrifice a point which is of no value, or to lose a friend more precious than rubies?

LIX: Before you pronounce a man to be a good Mason, let him pass the Chair. That is the test which will infallibly display both virtues and failing, mental imbecility and moral strength. If he pass through his year of apparent honour, but real trial, creditably, he will have nobly earned the character of a worthy and intelligent Mason.

LXII: When a cowan critises the science, answer him not, but listen attentively to his words. They may perchance recall some point, part, or secret to your recollection, which has escaped your notice, for the castigations of the cowan are not without their use and benefit;

"Like the toad -- ugly and venemous,
Which wears a precious jewel in its head."

LXV: Esteem the Brother who takes a pleasure in acts of charity, and never babbles about it; take him to your bosom, and cherish him as a credit to Masonry and an honour to mankind.

LXIX: Be very cautious whom you recommend as a candidate for initiation; one false step on this point may be fatal. If you introduce a disputatious person, confusion will be produced, which may end in the dissoulution of the Lodge. If you have a good Lodge, keep it select. Great numbers are not always beneficial.

LXXI: He is a wise Brother who knows how to conclude a speech when he has said all that is pertinent to the subject.

XCIII: The great secret for improving the memory, may be found in exercise, practice, and labour. Nothing is so much improved by care, or injured by neglect, as the memory.

XCVII: As the Lodge is opened with the rising sun, in the name of T.G.A.O.T.U., and closed at its setting in peace, harmony, and brotherly love, so, if you have any animosity against a Brother Mason, let not the sun sink in the West without being witness to your reconciliation. Early explanations prevent long-continued enmities.


Oliver, George (1782-1867); The Book of the Lodge; reprint of third edition by Aquarian Press (Masonic Classics Series), of Thorsons Publishing Group, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England; ISBN 0-85030-535-7

A larger selection of these aphorisms is now available.


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