Golden Fleece > Tyler
craftsman's art and music's measure
to prevent the approach of every unworthy thought
An engraving by William Hogarth shows a Tyler and Master of a lodge walking along a lane in Charing Cross near what is now Trafalgar Square. A tavern sign alludes to the Rummer and Grapes tavern, where one of the original four lodges met in 1717. When lodges met in taverns, it was necessary for someone to prevent people who were not freemasons from entering the room during a lodge meeting. These doorkeepers were not necessarily freemasons and were often the landlord of the tavern where the meeting was held.
The office of Tyler rapidly evolved during the eighteenth century to include a range of duties, which included not only guarding the entrance to a lodge but also drawing designs with chalk and charcoal on the floor and delivering the summons for the meeting. For these duties a Tyler was paid a shilling at each meeting and was required to be a fellow craft. The offices of Secretary, Treasurer and Almoner were created to assume some of these duties.
The Tyler is shown with both a sword and a key. While the sword guards the entrance to the lodge, the key unlocks the secrets of freemasonry. These symbols teach freemasons to keep a tongue of good report, and to abstain from the debasing vices of slander and defamation. In the ceremonies of the First Degree, in the eighteenth century the secrets of Freemasonry are to be obtained with the help of a key. This key "is said to hang and not to lie, because it is always to hang in a brother's defense and not to lie to his prejudge." It was also said to hang "by the thread of life at the entrance," and was closely connected with the heart, because the tongue "ought to utter nothing but what the heart dictates." And, finally, this key is described as being "composed of no metal, but a tongue of good report."
A Tyler's toast concludes the refreshments after a lodge meeting. Like many aspects of freemasonry there is range of variations and explanations around the world. Athough not part of any ceremony, this toast makes reference to aspects of freemasonry. The Tyler's toast often concludes with words such as these:
"To all charitable and distressed freemasons, wherever dispersed over Earth's broad surface, A speedy relief to their suffering and a safe return to their native land, if they so desire."
These words remind freemasons of charity, which is the distinguishing badge of a freemasons heart. The Tyler's toast also reminds freemasons of when they were admitted to freemasonry and encouraged to relieve the suffering of distressed freemasons wherever dispersed over the surface of the earth.
The Tyler then directs the members to; "point, left, right". As a newly admitted freemason is placed on the North side of a lodge facing South, a freemason in the nothern hemisphere would be pointing towards the sun. Left is to the East where the sun rises and right to the West and the setting sun. The sun is in the South in the middle of the day when the masons are called from labour to refreshment and refredshment and labour.
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