Faculty Of Abrac
( Originally Published 1884 )
I was extremely entertained and delighted with the copy of that antient and venerable manuscript concerning Free-Masonry with which you first obliged the publick in your September magazine, and which is since unartfully printed in various shapes.
The brotherhood were so well pleased with it that there was not a Magazine to be got in Norwich, and orders were given for a fresh supply. You must have found this by the demand. Mr. Locke's notes and explanatory remarks do the paper great honour, and his declaration and the lady's have contributed to increase the number of Masons in several lodges.
There are, however, some passages so obscure that Mr. Locke him-self knows not what to make of them : " The Wey of Wynninge the Facultye of Abrac " is one, which I shall endeavour to elucidate.
I apprehend that by the " Facultye of Abrac " is meant the chimerical virtues ascribed to the magical term ABRACADABRA, written or repeated in a particular manner. This fanciful charm is supposed to have been invented by the elder Serenus Samoniacus, in the time of the Emperors Severus and Caracalla, and was thought to be efficacious in curing agues and preventing other diseases. The way of writing it was thus :
A B R A C A D A B R A
A B R A C A D A B R
A B R ACA D A B
A B R A C A D A
A B R A C A D
A B R A C A
A B R A C
A B R A
A B R
A paper so inscribed was tied about the neck of the patient.
It is the more probable that this may be the true explanation of the facultye of Abrac, because we see that several of the mysteries of Masonry enumerated in this old piece are obscurely, imperfectly, or corruptly expressed. For instance, Peter Gower. Who would imagine that Peter Gower was Pythagoras in disguise ? Yet how naturally and satisfactorily is the corruption accounted for, by the medium which Mr. Locke has so happily discovered. Pythagoras seems to have been fated to transmigrations. The transmigration of Euphorbus into Pythagoras seems scarce more incredible, than (at first sight) the transformation of Pythagoras into Peter Gower.