The parliamentary law provides that a deliberative Body shall not proceed to business until a quorum of its members is present. This law is applicable to Freemasonry, except that, in constituting a quorum for opening and working a Lodge, it is not necessary that the quorum shall be made up of actual members of the Lodge; for the proper officers of the Lodge being present, the quorum may be completed by any Brethren of the Craft. As to the number of Brethren necessary to make a quorum for the transaction of business, the Old Constitutions and Regulations are silent, and the authorities consequently differ. In reply to an inquirv directed to him in 1857, the editor of the London Freemasons Magazine affirmed that Jive Freemasons are sufficient to open a Lodge and carry on business other than initiation; for which latter purpose seven are necessary. This opinion appears to be the general English one, and is acquiesced in by Doctor Oliver; but there is no authority of law for it.
When, in the year 1818, the suggestion was made that some regulation was necessary relative to the number of Brethren requisite to constitute a legal Lodge, with competent powers to perform the rite of initiation, and transact all other business, the Board of General Purposes of the Grand Lodge of England, to whom the suggestion had been referred, replied, with something like Dogberrian astuteness, "that it is a matter of so much delicacy and difficulty, that it is thought advisable not to depart from the silence on the subject which had been observed in all the Books of Constitutions."
In the absence, then, of all written laws upon the subject, and without any constitutional provision to guide us, we are compelled to recur to the ritual for authority. There the answer to the question in each Degree,"How many compose a Lodge? that will supply us with the rule by which we are to establish the quorum in that Degree. Forwhatever number composes a Lodge, that is the number which will authorize the Lodge to proceed to business. The ritual has thus established the number which constitutes a "perfect Lodge," and without which number a Lodge could not be legally opened, and therefore, necessarily, could not proceed to work or business; for there is no distinction, in respect to a quorum, between a Lodge when at work or when engaged in business.
According to the ritualistic rule referred to, seven constitute a quorum, for work or business, in an Entered Apprentice's Lodge, five in a Fellow Craft's, and three in a Master Mason's. Without this requisite number no Lodge can be opened in either of these Degrees. In a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons nine Companions constitute a quorum, and in a Commandery of Knights Templar eleven Knights; but. under certain circumstances, three Knights are competent to transact business.