Chapter 30

The Grand Mystery (1724)


The most surprising fact about the document which is presented here is that it comes in two versions, one printed and one handwritten, with however two different titles. 

The printed document is a booklet of small format, including a dozen pages.

Released in 1724, in London, under the price of six pence, it had the title: The Grand Mystery of Free-Masons Discover’d, wherein are the several questions put to them at their meetings and installations (1). 

The manuscript, which appeared a year later, was called simply: The Institution of Freemasons.

Both documents are similar in all respects, except for the presence in the printed one of a preface. 

Both contain a Catechism of Questions and Answers - with a content a little different from those presented in previous old texts - the oath and health of the Freemason, as well as a presentation of signs and gestures intended to permit them to recognize each.

Editor’s note - Presented below in its original writing the Grand Mystery of Free-Masons Discover’d is fully understandable by any reader; so we have decided not to adapt it nor correct its spelling.

The Original Text


Wherein are the several Questions put to them at their Meetings and Installations: 

As also, their Oath, Health, Signs, and Points to know each other by, 

as they were found in the Custody of a Free-Mason who died suddenly. 

And now publish’d for the information of the Publick.

London: Printed for T. Payne near Stationer’s-Hall. 1724. 

(Price six Pence.)


This Piece having been found in the Custody of a Free-Mason, who died suddenly, it was thought proper to publish it in the very Words of the Copy, that the Publick may, at last, have something Genuine concerning the Grand Mystery of Free-Masons.

There was a Man at Lovain, who publish’d that he had, with great Toil and Difficulty, found out, overcome, and tamed, and was now ready at his Booth, to shew, at the Bate of Six Stivers a-piece, the most hideous and voracious Monster, the Common Disturber of Mankind, especially in their Adversity.

Peopled flock’d from all Parts to see this Monster: They went in at the Fore-Door; and after they had seen the Creature, went out at the Back-Door, where they were ask’d whether the Monster was worth seeing. 

And as they had, at their Admittance into the Booth, promised to keep the Secret, they answer’d, it was a very wonderful Creature; which the Man found his Account in. 

But by some Accident it was divulged, that this wonderful Creature prov’d to be a Louse.

The Free-Mason’s Signs.

A Gutteral            A Pedestal            A Manual            A Pectoral


– PEACE be here.

Answer. - I hope there is.

Q. - What a-Clock is it?

A. - It’s going to Six, or going to Twelve.

Q. - Are you very busy?

A. - No.

Q. - Will you give, or take?

A. - Both; or which you please.

Q. - How go Squares?

A. - Straight.

Q. - Are you Rich, or Poor?

A. - Neither.

Q. - Change me that.

A. - I will.

Q. - In the Name of, &c. Are you a Mason? What is a Mason?

A. - A Man begot of a Man, born of a Woman, Brother to a King.

Q. - What is a Fellow?

A. - A Companion of a Prince.

Q. - How shall I know you are a Free Mason?

A. - By Signs, Tokens, and Points of my Entry.

Q. - Which is the Point of your Entry?

A. - I Hear and Conceal, under the Penalty of having my Throat cut, or my Tongue pull’d out of my Head.

Q. - Where was you made a Free-Mason?

A. - In a just and perfect Lodge.

Q. - How many make a Lodge?

A. - God and the Square, with five or seven right and perfect Masons, on the highest Mountains, or the lowest Valleys in the World.

Q. - Why do Odds make a Lodge?

A. - Because all Odds are Mens Advantage.

Q. - What Lodge are you of?

A. - The Lodge of St. John. 

Q. - How does it stand?

A. - Perfect East and West, as all Temples do.

Q. - Where is the Mason’s Point?

A. - At the East-Window, waiting at the Rising of the Sun. to set his Men at Work.

Q. - Where is the Warden’s Point?

A. - At the West-Window, waiting the Setting of the Sun, to dismiss the Entred Apprentices.

Q. - Who rules and governs the Lodge, and is Master of it?

A. - Irah, Iachin, or the Right Pillar.

Q. - How is it govern’d?

A. - Of Square and Eule.

Q. - Have you the Key of the Lodge?

A. - Yes, I have.

Q. - What is its Virtue?

A. - To open and shut, and shut and open.

Q. - Where do you keep it?

A. - In an Ivory Box, between my Tongue and my Teeth, or within my Heart, where all my Secrets are kept.

Q. - Have you the Chain to the Key?

A. - Yes, I have.

Q. - How long is it?

A. - As long as from my Tongue to my Heart,

Q. - How many precious Jewels?

A. - Three; a square Asher, a Diamond, and a Square.

Q. - How many Lights?

A. - Three; a Right East, South, and West.

Q. - What do they represent?

A. - The Three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Q. - How many Pillars?

A. - Two; Iachin and Boaz.

Q. - What do they represent?

A. - A Strength and Stability of the Church in all Ages.

Q. - How many Angles in St. John’s Lodge?

A. - Four, bordering on Squares. 

Q. - How is the Meridian found out?

A. - When the Sun leaves the South, and breaks in at the West-End of the Lodge.

Q. - In what Part of the Temple was the Lodge kept?

A. - In Solomon’s Porch, at the West-End of the Temple, where the two Pillars were set up.

Q. - How many Steps belong to a right Mason?

A. - Three.

Q. - Give me the Solution?

A. - I will…... The Right Worshipful, Worshipful Masters, and Worshipful Fellows, of the Right Worshipful Lodge from whence I came, greet you well.

A. - That Great God to us greeting, be at this our Meeting, and with the Right Worshipful Lodge from whence you came, and you are.

Q. - Give me the Jerusalem Word?

A. - Giblin.

Q. - Give me the Universal Word?

A. - Boaz.

Q. - Right Brother of ours, your Name?

A. - N. or M.

A. - Welcome, Brother M. or N. to our Society.

Q. - How many particular Points pertain to a Free-Mason?

A. - Three; Fraternity, Fidelity, and Tacity.

Q. - What do they represent? 

A. - Brotherly Love, Belief, and Truth, among all Right Masons; for which all Masons were ordain’d at the Building of the Tower of Babel, and at the Temple of Jerusalem.

Q. - How many proper Points?

A. - Five; Foot to Foot, Knee to Knee, Hand to Hand, Heart to Heart, and Ear to Ear.

Q. - Whence is an Arch derived?

A. - From Architecture.

Q. - How many Orders in Architecture?

A. - Five; the Tuscan, Dorick, Ionick, Corinthian, and Composit.

Q. - What do they answer?

A. - They answer to the Base, Perpendicular, Diameter, Circumference, and Square.

Q. - What is the right Word, or right Point of a Mason?

A. - Adieu.

The Free-Mason’s Oath.

You must serve God according to the best of your Knowledge and Institution, and be a true Leige Man to the King, and help and assist any Brother as far as your Ability will allow: By the Contents of the Sacred Writ you will perform this Oath. So help you God.

A Free-Mason’s Health.

HERE’s a Health to our Society, and to every faithful Brother that keeps his Oath of Secrecy. As we are sworn to love each other. The World no Order knows like this our Noble and Antient Fraternity: Let them wonder at the Mystery.

Here, Brother, I drink to thee.

Signs to know a True Mason.

1. - To put off the Hat with two Fingers and a Thumb.

2. - To strike with the Right-Hand, on the Inside of the Little-Finger of the Left three Times, as if hewing.

3. - By making a Square, viz. by setting your Heels together, and the Toes of both Feet straight, at a Distance, or by any other Way of Triangle.

4. - To take Hand in Hand, with Left and Right Thumbs close, and touch each Wrist three Times with the Fore-Finger each Pulse.

5. - You must Whisper, saying thus, The Masters and Fellows of the worshipful Company from whence I came, greet you all well. 

The Other will answer, God greet well the Masters and Fellows of the worshipful Company from whence you came.

6. - Stroke two of your Fore-Fingers over your Eye-Lids three Times.

7. - Turn a Glass, or any other Thing that is hollow, downwards, after you have drank out of it.

8. - Ask how you do; and your Brothers drink to each other.

9. - Ask what Lodge they were made Free-Masons at.

N.B. In the Third of King Henry the Sixth. an Act of Parliament was pass’d, whereby it is made Felony, to cause MASONS to confederate themselves in Chapiters and Assemblies. The Punishment is Imprisonment of Body, and make Fine and Ransom at the King’s Will (2).



1. - According to its title page, the document was printed for a certain T. Payne, of whom we know nothing, close to Stationer’s Hall, seat of the Grand Lodge of London.

2. - Henry VI (1421-1471), son of Catherine de Valois, grand-son of Charles VI of France, reigned in England from the age of nine months until his death, although overthrown twice because of insanity. He died imprisoned in the Tower of London.

© Guy Chassagnard 2016