George Oliver: Aphorisms on Freemasonry
Selected aphorisms from The Book of the Lodge by George Oliver
I: Freemasonry is a beautiful system of morality veiled in allegory
and illustrated by symbols.
II: If you remain silent when Freemasonry is attacked, you condemn by
your actions what your conscience approves.
III: As you are a Christian Mason, you must on all occasions study to
perform the duties of Christian morality, which are comprehended under
the triple category of God, your neighbour and yourself.
IV: The benefits to be derived from Masonry are well described by
Ovid and Horace, when they say, -"Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes
emollit mores. Asperitatis et invidiae corrector et irae; " which may
be translated thus: "To have learnt the liberal arts faithfully, softens
the manners and operates as a fine corrector of ill-nature, envy, and
V: To subdue the passions has been the universal aim of all mankind.
All have placed their hopes upon it; and hence sprang the first idea of
Σηαυτον, which was inscribed
on the portal of heathen temples, that it might prove a stimulus to
virtue, of which it was the first lesson, and lead to the desirable
consummation, in which all excellence was blended, of subduing the
VI: If you intend to pursue the study of Masonry to any beneficial
result, it is indispensable that you attend the Lodge regularly. This
is your apprenticeship, and without it you will never become a bright
Mason. There is no royal road to science.
VII: A Lodge is not to be understood simply as a place where Masons
assemble for the dispatch of business, but of the aggregate body of its
members. The latter is, strictly speaking, the Lodge; the former is
only the Lodge-room.
VIII: An incompetent person in the chair of the Lodge, is like a hawk
on the wing, from which all the inferior birds hasten to escape, and
leave him the sole tenant of the sky. In the same manner, such a Master
will cause the Lodge to be deserted by its best Members, and be left
alone in his glory.
IX: If you mean to attend your Lodge, be there at the hour mentioned
in the summons. Whoever is late, disturbs the Brethren, and interrupts
the business of the Lodge.
X: When seated, recollect your situation. If you are an Officer, do
your duty, and nothing more. If you are simply a Brother, your business
is to hear, and not to speak. An officious interference is unbecoming
in a Mason: it may do harm, and cannot, by any possibility, be
productive of good.
XI: Be always obedient to the Chair. Obedience is a virtue of the
greatest importance to your own character as a Mason, and to the general
welfare of the Lodge. Without obedience Wisdom would be inoperative,
Strength would lose its power, and Beauty its grace; and confusion and
discord would soon banish the occupants of the holy ground.
XII: Never by any chance or persuasion suffer yourself to be
inveigled into a party hostile to the Officers in charge of the Lodge.
If you do, you will be a marked man, and your progress in Masonry will
be rendered doubtful, if not altogether prevented.
XIII: During the period when serious business occupies the attention
of the Brethren, you must not leave your seat, or engage in conversation
with your neighbours, not even in whispers; neither should you move the
chair or bench on which you are seated, or make any other noise to
disturb the Master or his Officers in the orderly execution of their
respective duties. Silence is the leading characteristic of a
well-regulated Lodge. I have known many good Lodges spoiled for want of
a due attention to these trifling particulars.
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 endeavour 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.
XXVI: What is the reason Bro. ____ makes so little progress in
Masonry? -Indolence. Why did Bro. ____ fail to establish a good
character as the Master of his Lodge? -Because he was not an industrious
person. Do you inquire why Bro. ____ never passed to the Second
Degree? -I answer, because he was constitutionally idle. Indolence is
the prolific parent of numerous other vices. Bad habits may be subdued,
selfishness may be reformed, and passion held in check, but indolence is
rarely, if ever, conquered.
XXX. Silence, secrecy, and calmness of temper, are the unmistakable
marks of a genuine Mason. If you hear any one make an incessant boast
of his knowledge, you may set him down as an empty chatterer. Noise is
not wisdom. Those who ostentatiously proclaim their own merits may for
a time enjoy the satisfaction of deceit, yet in the end their
pretensions are sure to be unmasked.
XXXII. Do you hear a man boast of his abilities, his attainments,
his dignity, or his position in life? Intrust him not with your
XXXIV. When in the Lodge, beware of contentions brethren. Truth is
as little an object with them as brotherly love. They will wrangle
against truth as freely as against error, whether defeated or
victorious, they will still argue and quarrel, question and dispute,
until they have banished every right-minded Brother from the Lodge.
LVII: How many disputes arise out of trifles! And how greatly would
they be diminished if every one would deliberately 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 venomous, Which wears a precious jewel in its
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
dissolution 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;
My thanks to Bro. Michael Munro <Michael.Munro@online.rednet.co.uk>
for his kind efforts of diligently transcribing and forwarding this
selection of Oliver's aphorisms.
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