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Sharp Instrument 2

The Minutes of the Lodge of Antiquity (one of "the Four Old Lodges") record that on March 26, 1834 "a poignard for the I. G. was given by Bro. R. W. Jennings . . . " Prior to the Union there had been in general no protection of the door except by the Tiler, who stood outside, armed with a weapon, which, in Speculative Freemasonry, had symbolic purposes only yet was for those purposes inexorably wielded. The story of the sword in early Speculative Freemasonry is an interesting one--it is recommended to Masonic essayists. In the Eighteenth Century young blades wore a sword almost everywhere; sometimes even in Church (if they mere armigerous " or entitled to bear arms, Which ''commoners" were not permitted to do). Should Lodges permit swords to be worn in the Lodge Room?

A weapon was out of place there. The young men insisted that they would; the Lodges insisted that they should not; Grand Lodge weakened once and gave permission, but at the end of a year recanted and withdrew permission; swords were left in the Anteroom. But it is probable that as a kind of compromise the Tiler, who was not only a "commoner" but of a lower order still, namely, a "servant," had to give over his ancient practice of carrying about the gentlemen's weapon, and took to wearing a poignard which was really a foreign weapon. When an Inner Guard was added to the Lodge officers after the Union of 1813 he also was armed, and also with what one Secretary wrote down as a "p - - - d. " In the course of time (at least in America) the Inner Guard (or Junior Deacon) went without even that weapon, and the now unlawful sword was returned to the Outer Guard, or Tiler.

What a visitor, or stranger, or a Candidate encountered at the Outer Door of the Lodge was not a door, but a sword! To outsiders the "sword" is a challenge and a warning; to members it is a guard and a protection. (The "border"--or boundary, or tees sellated edge of a Lodge room--is thus an actuality) There is no data to show when or why the symbolism of the Sharp Instrument was introduced, but it is a reasonable theory that it is a symbolical modification of the old custom in which the Tiler (or Outer Guard) guarded the Inner Door with his blade-- certainly he never guarded it with a pair of compasses.

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