The Progress of Masonry

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Ahiman Rezon de Dermott donne sous le n° 35 (ici dans l'édition 1764 et ici dans l'édition 1805), sans mention d'air, cette chanson sous le titre The Progress of Masonry.

Mais nous disposons d'un document rare : une version plus ancienne - et avec partition - reproduite ci-dessous. Le titre, qui ici mentionne son caractère humoristique, donne à penser qu'il conviendrait peut-être de la prendre ... au second degré. 

The Progress of Masonry, 
A New Song,
And very HUMOUROUS
Pray lend me your Ear my dear Brethren a while, 
Full  Sober my Sense. Tho Joking my Style, 
I’ll sing you such Wonders, all unknown to those, 
That e’er flutere’d in Verse, or Hobbled in Prose, 
Derry down, hey derry down
(2)
As all in Confusion the CHAOS yet lay,
E’re Evening and Morning made the first Day.
The unform’d Materials lay Tumbling together,
Like so many Dutchmen in thick Foggy Weather,
Derry down, &c.
(3)
When to this Confusion no end there appear’d
The Sovereign Mason’s Word Sudden was heard,
Them Teem’d Mother Chaos with material Throes,
By which this Beaut’eous Lodge of th’world then arose,
Derry down, &c.
(4)
then Earth and all Heaven with Jubile rung
And all the Creation of Masonry Sung,
When lo ! to Compleat and dorn the Gay Ball,
Old ADAM was made the Grand Master of All,
Derry down, &c.
(5)
But SATAN met EVE, as she was a Gadding,
And set her (as Since all her Daughters) a madding,
To find out the Secrets of Free Masonry
She pluct of the Fruit, and she eat of the Tree,
Derry down, &c.
(6)
Then as she was filled with high flowing Fancies,
As ever was fond Girl who deals in Romances,
She thought her with Knowledge Sufficiently Cramm’d
And said to the Spouse, my Dear eat and be D – n’d,
Derry down, &c.
(7)
But ADAM astonish’d like one struck with Thunder,
Beheld her from Head to Foot, over with Wonder
And since you have done this Thing, Madam said he,
For your sake no Women Free Masons shall be,
Derry down, &c.
(8)
Now as she bewaild her in Sorrowful Ditty,
The Good Man beheld her, and on her took pity,
Free Masons are tender, so for the Sad Dame,
He made her an apron, to cover her shame,
Derry down, &c.
(9)
Thus then did they Solace in Mutual Joy,
Till in Process of time they had Two Chopping Boys,
The Priest of the Parish, as Gossip Devised
By Name CAIN, and ABEL the Youth circumcized,
Derry down, &c.
(10)
Now old father SETH, next mounts on the Stage
In Manners Severe, but in Masonry Sage,
He Built him two Pillars, full large and full thick,
The one was of Stone and the other of Brick,
Derry down, &c.
(11)
But soon did Mankind behave past enduring,
Twas Drinking, t’was Swearing, t’was fighting & Whoring
Until Jove arose, and fierce in his Anger
Said that he wou’d suffer such Miscreants no longer
Derry down, &c.
(12)
Then from their high Windows the Heaven did pour
For Days and for Nights, one Continual Shower,
Till nought cou’d be seen but the Waters around,
And in this great Deluge, all Mortals were Drown’d
Derry down, &c.
(13)
Sure ne’er was beheld so Dreadful Sight
To see the old World in such very odd Plight,
For there was to be seen all Animals Swimming,
Men, Monkeys, Priests, Lawyers, Cats, Lapdogs and Women
Derry down, &c.
(14)
There Floated a Debter away from his Dunns
There swam Father Gray-Beard & Stark Naked amidst Nuns,
And here a Poor Husband, not heeding his Life,
Contented in Drowning, to shake off his Wife,
Derry down, &c.
(15)
A King and a Cobler, here Mingl’ed to View,
With spendthrift young Heirs, as there were not a few,
A Whale and a Dutchman came down with the Tide,
And a Rev’rend old Bishop, by a young Wenches side,
Derry down, &c.
(16)
But NOAH was Wisest, for NOAH Judg’d right,
And Built him an Ark, so stout and so Tight,
Tho Heaven and Earth were coming together,
He kept safe in his Lodge, and stood Buff to the Weather,
Derry down, &c.
(17)
Then after the Flood like a Brother so True,
Who still had the Good of the Craft in his View,
He Delved the Ground and he Planted the Vine,
He Founded his Lodge, Ay, and gave his Lodge Wine,
Derry down, &c.
(18)
Let Statesmen Toss, Tumble, and Jumble the Ball,
We sit safe in our Lodge, and Laught at them all,
Let Bishops Wear Lawn Sleeves & Kings have their Dinner
Free Masonry, sure, is by Heaven’s Appointment,
Derry down, &c.
(19)
Now Charge my Dear Brethren, to BYRON’S great Name,
Our Noble GRAND-MASTER, whose Vertues & Fame,
Shall through the Wide Globe, Eternally Ring,
Whilst we in full CHORUS, will Joyfully Sing
Derry down, &c.
Le Progrès de la Maçonnerie,
Une nouvelle chanson, 
très humoristique
Veuillez prêter l’oreille un instant, mes chers Frères
Je suis sobre d’esprit, mais taquin en style
Je vous chanterai des merveilles, inconnues de ceux
Qui voltigent en vers, ou clopinent en prose
Derry down, hey derry down
(2)
Tout était encore confusion et CHAOS,
Avant le soir et le matin du premier jour.
La matière informe gisait encore amassée
Comme des Hollandais dans un brouillard épais,
Derry down, &c.
(3)
Alors que cette confusion semblait sans fin 
On entendit soudain le Souverain Mot du Maçon 
et du Chaos primordial la Matière émergea,
créant ainsi cette magnifique Loge mondiale,
Derry down, &c
(4)
Alors Ciel et la Terre jubilèrent ensemble et
Toute la création se mit à chanter la Maçonnerie,
Et voyez, pour compléter et orner le Globe joyeux
Le vieil ADAM fut fait Grand Maître de tous,
Derry down, &c 
(5)
Mais SATAN tomba sur EVE qui flânait,
Et la rendit folle (tout comme toutes ses filles depuis lors) ,
Pour découvir les secrets de la Franc-Maçonnerie
Elle cueillit le Fruit de l’Arbre et le mangea,
Derry down, &c
(6)
Et elle, remplie de caprices dévorants
Comme toute fille qui aime les romances,
Et se croyant de Savoir la tête bien bourrée
Elle dit à son Epoux, Mon Cher mange et sois D[amn]é
Derry down, &c
(7)
Mais ADAM foudroyé comme par le Tonnerre,
la contempla étonné des pieds à la tête, 
et dit puisque que vous avez commis cet acte, Madame,
Pour votre bien, aucune femme ne sera Franc-Maçon
 Derry down, &c
(8)
Tandis qu’elle était plongée dans un chagrin douloureux,
Le Brave Homme, la vit et eut pitié d’elle,
Les Francs-Maçons sont tendres, et donc à la Dame attristée 
il offrit un tablier pour couvrir sa honte
Derry down, &c.
(9)
Ainsi se réconfortèrent-ils dans une joie mutuelle,
Et avec le temps ils eurent deux solides garçons
Par le curé de la paroisse, selon les potins,
les gamins CAIN et ABEL furent circoncis
Derry down, &c.
(10)
Puis le vieux Père SETH entra en scène
De caractère austère, mais sage en Maçonnerie,
Il lui construisit deux grandes et larges colonnes
L’une de pierre et l’autre de brique,
Derry down, &c.
(11)
Mais bientôt l’Humanité dépassa les bornes,
Elle buvait, jurait, se disputait, & se prostituait,
Jusqu’à provoquer le courroux de Jupiter qui se leva
Et jura qu’il ne tolérerait plus de tels Mécréants.
Derry down, &c.
(12)
Alors de la voûte des Cieux les écluses s’ouvrirent
Pendant des jours et des nuits, d’un Flot continu, 
Et partout les Eaux submergèrent tout,
Dans ce grand Déluge, tous les Mortels furent noyés
Derry down, &c.
(13)
Jamais on n’avait vu un spectacle aussi effrayant
Le vieux monde souffrait en si étrange condition,
Tous les animaux nageaient : Hommes, Singes, Prêtres, 
Avocats, petits Chiens et Femmes
Derry down, &c
(14)
Ici un Débiteur flottant s’éloigne de ses créanciers
Là un père à la barbe grise, nu comme un ver, 
nage parmi des Nonnes, et ici un pauvre mari, 
se résoud à la noyade, pour se libérer de sa femme
Derry down, &c.
(15)
Un Roi et un Cordonnier furent réunis ici, 
Ensemble à maint jeunes héritiers dépensiers, 
Une baleine et un Hollandais sont arrivés par la marée, 
avec un vénérable vieil évêque tout près d'une jouvencelle
Derry down, &c.
(16)
Mais NOé était le plus sage, car il était bon juge,
Il construisit une Arche, si solide et si étanche, 
Et malgré que le Ciel et la Terre se soient mélangés,
Il fut sauvé dans sa Loge, à l’abri du mauvais temps
Derry down, &c.
(17)
Après le déluge, et en tant que véritable Frère
Qui avait le Bien de l’Ordre en vue.
Il creusa le Sol et planta une Vigne
Il fonda sa Loge, Oui, et lui donna du Vin,
Derry down, &c.
(18)
Les politiciens peuvent jongler, faire des tours et des acrobaties. 
Nous sommes dans notre Loge, et rions d'eux tous.  
Tandis qu’évêques portent rochet et que dinent les Rois,  
La Franc-Maçonnerie existe par faveur du Ciel
Derry down, &c.
(19)
Buvons mes Chers Frères, au grand BYRON,
Notre Noble GRAND-MAITRE, dont les vertus et la renommée, 
retentiront a tout jamais sur le vaste Globe, 
et qu’en CHOEUR nous chantons joyeusement
Derry down, &c.

Merci à Jacques Huyghebaert qui nous a aidé par son précieux travail de traduction.

On voit que le récit biblique est ici parodié avec un zeste d'impertinence, ce qui semble trancher avec les habitudes de la maçonnerie britannique. 

On peut d'ailleurs voir ici et ici que le caractère éventuellement blasphématoire de ce texte faisait encore l'objet de discussions en 1820.

Dermott a fait des modifications à ce texte original. La plupart de ces modifications sont seulement de forme et n'altèrent pas le sens. Mais deux sont plus importantes :

a) il intercale, entre les couplets 10 et 11, un couplet supplémentaire, portant ainsi à 20 leur nombre total ; ce couplet explicite la raison d'être des deux piliers d'Enoch (ici, de manière inhabituelle, attribués plutôt à Seth) mentionnés au couplet 10 :

On them he engrav'd with wonderful skill, 
Each lib'ral science with adamant quill, 
Proportion and rule he form'd by the square, 
And directed the use of all masonry there. 
Derry down, &c. 

Sur eux il grava avec une merveilleuse habileté, 
Chaque science libérale d'une plume assurée 
Il établit par l'équerre la proportion et la règle, 
Et indiqua le bon usage de toute la maçonnerie.

b) il donne pour le dernier couplet (voué aux Santés) le texte ci-dessous. Notre version originale pour sa part invitait à porter la santé du Grand Maître Byron ; celui-ci fut le Grand Maître de la Grande Loge d'Angleterre (celle dite des Modernes, contre laquelle s'étaient dressés les Antients de Dermott) de 1747 à 1752. On peut donc logiquement supposer que notre document devrait dater de cette époque.

Now charge, my dear brethren, and chorus with me, 
A health to all masons both honest and free; 
Nor less be our duty unto our good king, 
So God bless great George let each brother sing. 
Derry down, &c.

To the King and the craft (as the master song.) 

Allons mes chers frères, chargeons et buvons en choeur
A la santé de tous les maçons probes et libres ;
Sans oublier notre devoir envers notre bon roi,
Que Dieu bénisse le grand George, que chaque frère chante.

 Au Roi et à l'Art royal (comme au chant du maître)

On trouve une amusante allusion à cette chanson (avec la citation des couplets 5 à 7, en grasses ci-dessous) dans le chapitre 10 de l'ouvrage satirique de Daniel P. Thomson, The Adventures Of Timothy Peacock, Esquire or, Freemasonry Practically Illustrated (USA, 1835) :

... "What do you suppose is the reason, Brother Jenks," said Timothy ... "what do you suppose is the reason that women have never been allowed to incorporate into our privileges of masonry?"

`Why, Brother Peacock,' replied the other, `you know that the faculty of keeping secrets is one of the greatest and most essential virtues of masonry: and don't you recollect a passage on this subject in one of the songs in the Book of Constitutions ´[NDLR : comme la suivante, cette citation-ci est tirée (n° 65) d'une des chansons d'Ahiman Rezon, qui tenait effectivement lieu de Livre des Constitutions pour les Antients, symétriquement au rôle d'Anderson pour les Moderns], which runs in these words 

"The ladies claim right to come into our light, 
Since the apron they say is their bearing
Can they subject their will—can they keep their tongues still, 
And let talking be chang'd into hearing?" 

Here you see how naturally their claims are urged, and at the same time how strong are the reasons against their ever being admitted.'

"True," observed Timothy, "but still I have some instigations for wishing that there was some method to extinguish their wilful functions towards us, and, if they cannot be admitted to infest their minds with a proper understanding of the rights and privileges which belong to us Masons, and which you know it is their duty to extend and yield to us in every case that requires the least emergency."

`I have sometimes wished the same,' observed Jenks, `my wife, besides forever teasing me to tell her the secret, always makes a great fuss because I am out one night in a month or so, which all, no doubt, comes from her not being able to understand the true nature and value of masonry. But I don't suppose there is any help for this grievance, for, as to their ever being worthy of being admitted into the lodge, and this is the only way any thing could be done for them, that business, I take it, was settled at the beginning of the world; for there is another place in the Book of Constitutions which fully explains this matter. It is in a piece called the Progress of Masonry, and goes on in this way— 

"But Satan met Eve when she was a gadding,
And set her, as since all her daughters, a madding
— To find out the secrets of Freemasonry, 
She ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree. 

Then as she was fill'd with high flowing fancies, 
As e'er was fond girl who deals in romances, 
She thought with her knowledge sufficiently cramm'd, 
And said to her spouse, My dear, eat and be damn'd

But Adam, astonish'd like one struck with thunder, Beheld her from head to foot over with wonder— 
Now you have done this thing, madam, said he, 
For your sake no women Freemasons shall be.

Now in this history of the matter given by this book, which you know is the Mason's Bible, and no more to be doubted than the other Bible, you see why women in the first place were cut off from the privileges of masonry; and although the reasons mentioned in the first verse I repeated are enough to prevent their being admitted, yet you see if those reasons did not exist, they could never come to this honor, because it was forbidden almost as soon as the world was made; and this I take to be one of the heaviest curses that was bestowed upon Eve for eating the forbidden fruit, (which was pretty much the same, I suppose, as unlawfully trying to get into the secrets of masonry) that her whole sex should forever be denied the honors and privileges of our blessed institution.'

"These verses," said Timothy, "are indeed sublimely transcendant; but there is one incomprehension about them which I should like to hear you diffuse upon. They say that Satan meeting Eve, set her mad to find out the secrets of masonry, and so she eat of the forbidden fruit to get these secrets. Now is it not consequential that Satan was a Mason himself wrongfully trying to initiate her in this way?"

`I don't exactly see how it was myself,' replied the other, `but these things are no doubt explained in the high degrees which I have not taken. I suppose however that Satan might once have been an accepted Mason, but you know he was expelled from heaven, which is no doubt the Great Grand Lodge of the Universe, and made up wholly of Masons.'

"Then you do not suppose," said Timothy, "that any of the feminine extraction ever go to heaven?"

`Why, as to that,' replied Jenks, `we cannot certainly tell, but I think it a very doubtful case. If they have no souls, as our brethren in Turkey and some other parts of the old world believe, then of course they cannot go to heaven. But if they have souls, as all in this country, except Masons, believe, then it seems rather a hard case that they should be shut out. Still there are so many reasons against their ever being admitted, allowing they have souls, that I scarcely know how to do them away as I could wish, out of the pity I feel for this unfortunate part of the human race. You know we take a most solemn oath in the Master's degree never to initiate women, idiots, and the like; now if women cannot be initiated on earth, and it seems to be a divine command that they shall not, for masonry is divine, how can they ever enter heaven, which, I am persuaded is, as I said before, all masonry, and the very perfection of masonry?  ...

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