Museum of Freemasonry - Masonic Library

Johann Wolfgang Goethe was born in Frankfurt-on-Maine on August 29, 1749. He joined Amalia Lodge in March of 1780, ten years after Lessing. Goethe had a great respect for Lessing and this could be the reason he became a Mason. Goethe is considered to be the greatest of German poets, and is often compared to Shakespeare.

So much of Goeth's writings are inspired by Masonic teachings. His novel The Society of the Tower "is evidently based on the many Freemasons' lodge which grew up in eighteenth-century Germany, and which played a not unimportant part in its social and cultural life." - Goethe also wrote several Masonic poems. His most popular is Mason Lodge:

The Mason's ways are

A type of Existance
And his persistance

Is as the days are
Of men in this world.

The future hides in it

Gladness and sorrow,
We press still thorow,

Naught that abides in it
Daunting us-onward.

And solemn before us

Veiled, the dark Portal,
Goal of all mortal;

Stars silent o'er us,
Graves under us silent.

While earnest thou gazest
Comes boding of terror,
Comes phantasm and error

Perplexes the bravest
With doubt and misgiving.

But heard are the Voices-
Heard are the Sages,
The Worlds and the Ages;

"Choose well; your choice is
"Brief and yet endless;

"Here eyes do regard you
"In Eternity's stillness;
"Here is all fullness,

"Ye have, to reward you.
"Work, and dispair not."

This is a beautiful poem about the Masons immortality, journey through life, and his freedom to choose a good life.

His most important Masonic work is his drama Faust. "It is a magnificent work that is probably the finest of the romantic plays." -14- Faust is about Goethe's life, and is written at different periods of his life. Throughout the tragedy there is a struggle between good and evil just as there is in the Masonic initia- tory drama. "It is here that the keen student of Freemasonry and the lover of Goethe find so many contacts between mind of the poet and teachings of the Fraternity. As in the Legend of Hiram Abif, Faust at last finds that evil may not forever strive successfully with good; his final and greatest satisfaction is not in selfish pleasure, which means death for the soul, but in work for humanity. -15- Faust and Lessing's son's in the "Parable of the three Rings" learn that true satisfaction comes from helping humanity, and not from selfish pleasure. Faust and Hiram are not unlike either. Both overcome evil and learn that the "divine is always within humanity do we but seek far enough." -16- Faust also learns that good will triumph over evil in the end.

Soon after Mozart's (also a Freemason) operatic stage success of the Magic Flute Goethe also brings Masonic effects to his play Gross-Kaphta by combining "the subject of the `Grand-Master' of an `Egyptian' society on the lines of the freemasons." -17- Goethe died on March 22, 1832. His lasts words are perhaps most telling about Goethe as a Freemason and as a writer. His last words were "More light!" - 18-

Friedrich von Schiller 1759-1805 was one of the greatest German writers, and has been said to be second only to Goethe. Thus far I have found very little about Schiller's Masonic career or any research into how Freemasonry contributed to his drama. Masons always wonder how it is that biographers can mention so little about Freemasonry. Just as Goethe may have been prompted to become a Freemason because of Lessing's love of the craft, Schiller may have joined a Lodge because of his friendship with Goethe. One poem that I found by Schiller is clearly Freemasonic. Three Words Of Strength:

There are three lessons I would write, Three words, as with a burning pen, In tracings of eternal light, Upon the hearts of men. Have hope. Though clouds environ round And gladness hides her face in scorn, Put off the shadow from thy brow; No night but hath its morn. Have faith. Where'er they bark is driven- The calm's disport, the tempest's mirth- Know this: God rules the hosts of heaven, The inhabitants of earth. Have love. Not love alone for one, But man, as man, thy brother call; And scatter, like a circling sun, Thy charities on all.

"Schiller's great dramas are alike in being tragedies or epics with historical and political back- grounds; they exemplify his idealism, high ethical principles, and insistence on freedom and nobility of spirit." -19- Beethoven (also a Freemason) said to his biographer " I have it! I have it! Let us sing the song of the immortal Schiller!" -20- An unfinished novel, Die Geisterseher, and the "Ode to Joy" by Schiller was used for Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. "The poem's philosophy of love and brotherhood was relevant enough to the composer as a young man in revolutionary Europe that he became a Freemason, a lodge dedi- cated to the ideals, and he remained a member until the organization was banned in Austria in 1795." -21- It has been said that men such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Schiller are "famous men in which they likewise see the Masonic hand at work." -22-

Schiller has been called the "poet of freedom" "His drama Don Carlos (1787) attempted to encourage the development of freedom throughout the world.. He "gave the highest literary expression, in any language, to the ideals of the American Revolution". -23- Schiller believed that "an actual composition does not embrace morality by lecturing it's audience on what is right, and what is wrong. Instead, Drama must develop the inner workings of the human soul, and thus empower man to act morally." - 24- I believe that this is precisely what the Masonic Ritual does for the Freemason. "Schiller wrote for the great ideas of Rev- olution, he destroyed the spiritual Bastille, he raised the temple of freedom, and indeed that very great tem- ple, that should encompass all nations, just like a single community of brethren." -25-

I have certainly found that the writings of Goethe, Lessing, and Schiller were influenced by Free- masonry. More and more I see why these Romantic playwrights would have a profound interest in Freemasonry. Like the Freemason today, they looked in Masonic ritual and history for inspiration and for heroes. The romantic writings about morality were not always practiced in Europe or the new world. The same can be said about the ideals of Freemasonry. Lessing heard of equality, fraternity, and brotherhood in the Lodge, so he could not just sit by and watch Jews being denied membership in Masonry. The middle class in Europe also began to see that all the talk about equality was not a reality in their lives. When they real- ized this the rise of realistic theatre began to take place. Lessing did not live to see the German Freemasonry correct the error of its ways. I believe these German Dramatists would be pleased to see the success of The United States of America. She is a country founded on a romantic document that has afforded its people more freedom than any other country in the world. A freedom the Goethe, Lessing, and Schiller loved so dearly.

A+ "A truly excellent paper! I shall be prepared to understand the great Lessing and Goethe much better now. As you know, I have directed the Magic Flute" - Dr. Stump -

References / Bibliography

1. Ruff, Loren K. and Stump, Dr. Walter R. Imitation: The Art of the Theatre (Hunter Textbooks, 1981) p. 103

2. Baigent, Michael and Leigh, Richard The Temple and The Lodge (Arcade Publishing . New York, 1989) p. 260

3. Ruff/Stump p. 103

4. Lessings Masonic Dialogues (The Masonic Book Club, Bloomington, Illinois 1991) p. ix.

5. The Short Talk Bulletin - G. E. Lessing: The Conscience of German Freemasonry (The Masonic Service Association of The United States, Vol. LV August, 1977 No. 8 p. 4

6. Ibid., p 6

7. Ibid., p6

8. Allison, Henry E. Lessing and The Enlightenment (Ann Arbor The University of Michigan Press, 1966) p. 136

9. The Conscience of German Freemasonry p. 8

10. Allison p. 145

11. Lessings Masonic Dialogues p. xi.

12. Ibid., p vii.

13. Reiss, Hans Goethe's Novels (University of Miami Press Coral Gables, Florida, 1969 p. 90

14. Ruff/Stump p. 105

15. The Short Talk Bulletin - Goethe, Freemason (The Masonic Service Association of The United States, Vol. X September, 1932 No. 9 p. 10

16. Ibid., p. 10

17. Friedenthal, Richard GOETHE - His Life and Times (The World Publishing Company Cleveland and New York, 1963) p. 300

18. Goethe, Freemason p. 12

19. Internet Encyclopedia

20. Internet - New Mexico Symphony Orchestra P. 1 of 3

21. Ibid., p 1 of 3

22. Internet - Classical Music Articles p. 9 of 16

23. Internet - The Battle Mozart Won In America's War With Britain p 3 of 17

24. Ibid., p 15 of 17

25. Internet - Schiller versus Goethe From "The Romantic School, 1835 p. 1