- 1 LEON MARTIN ABBOTT 1867-1932
- 1.1 TERM
- 1.2 BIOGRAPHY
- 1.3 MEMORIAL
- 1.4 SPEECHES
- 1.4.1 "MASONIC DUTIES AND OPPORTUNITIES", DECEMBER 1906
- 1.4.2 AT THE DEDICATION OF MASONIC APARTMENTS IN LOWELL, JANUARY 1913
- 1.4.3 AT THE DEDICATION OF MASONIC APARTMENTS IN PITTSFIELD, MAY 1914
- 1.4.4 INNER TEMPLE ADDRESS, JANUARY 1916
- 1.4.5 AT WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY OBSERVANCE, SOUTH BOSTON, FEBRUARY 1919
- 1.4.6 AT THE CENTENARY OF BETHESDA LODGE, MARCH 1919
- 1.4.7 AT THE DEDICATION OF THE TASKER MONUMENT IN HAVERHILL, NOVEMBER 1919
- 1.4.8 FEAST OF ST. JOHN, DECEMBER 1928
- 1.5 CHARTERS GRANTED
- 1.6 RULINGS
LEON MARTIN ABBOTT 1867-1932
- Shawmut, Charter Member 1912
- Eliot, Honorary 1917
- Beth-Horon, Affiliate 1914, Honorary 1924
- Washington, Affiliate 1918, Honorary 1918
- West Roxbury, Charter Member 1920, Honorary 1924
- Brookline, Charter Member 1921
- Baalis Sanford, Honorary 1924
- Norfolk, Honorary 1924
FROM NEW ENGLAND CRAFTSMAN, 1909
From New England Craftsman, Vol. V, No. 1, October 1909, Page 9:
Leon M. Abbott who has been made an active member of the Supreme Council of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction and designated Deputy for Massachusetts was born in Richmond, N. H. Aug. 28, 1867, the son of Joseph B. and Lydia C. (Martin) Abbott. He was educated at Keene, N. H., high school, Class of 1885, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (one year), Harvard College and Harvard Law School, class of 1890. He has practiced law since 1891 and is a member of the firm of Batson, Nay & Abbott.
He was made a Mason in Columbian Lodge, A. F. and A. M., Boston, June 7, 1894, and is a Past Master and one of the trustees of that lodge; Past High Priest of St. Paul's Royal Arch Chapter, one of the trustees of Boston Commandery, K. T., Past Thrice Potent Master of Boston Lafayette Lodge of Perfection, 14th degree, Grand Master of Ceremonies of Mass. Council of Royal and Select Masters, Giles F. Yates Council, Princes of Jerusalem 16th degree, Mt. Olivet Chapter of Rose Croix 18th degree, and Massachusetts Consistory. He received the 33d degree September 18, 1906, and is a life member of all the foregoing Masonic bodies. He is one of the Boston Bar Association, Boston City Club and other organizations.
He is married and lives at 1 Cumberland Street.
FROM NEW ENGLAND CRAFTSMAN, 1918
From New England Craftsman, Vol. XIII, No. 7, April 1918, Page 192:
Present in this issue of the New England Craftsman a fine steel engraved portrait of the present Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts. The holding of that distinguished office would be regarded by most as a distinction sufficient to crown any man's Masonic career with lasting glory. Brother Abbott, however, adds to it other Masonic distinctions which have long made him a conspicuous national figure in the highest Masonic circles.
It is not necessary here to give those details of dates of advancement which are so unpleasantly reminiscent of obituaries. A few leading facts will suffice. Brother Abbott received the Master Mason degree in Columbian Lodge, June 7, 1894. His great promise as a Mason was early recognized by an appointment in the line of officers and he became Worshipful Master in 1906, serving two years. His conspicuous service here attracted the attention of the Grand Lodge and he was appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the First Masonic District in 1908 by M. W. John Albert Blake. From that time he was almost constantly in the service of the Grand Lodge.
During the early years of the founding of the Masonic Home at Charlton he was a member of the Masonic Home Committee.
In 1913 he served as Senior Grand Warden. During his year of office he was for some time Acting Grand Master in the absence from Massachusetts of both the Grand Master and the Deputy Grand Master.
In 1915 he became one of the Directors of the Grand Lodge corporation, succeeding R. W. John Carr.
On the retirement of M. W. Melvin M. Johnson after three years service as Grand Master, the minds of the brethren everywhere turned to brother Abbott as the one man in the jurisdiction who should be called uPon to take up the great duties and responsibilities of the Grand Mastership and on December 13, 1916, he was unanimously elected Grand Master.
In other Masonic relations Brother Abbott is a past High Priest of St. Paul's R. A. Chapter and a member of Boston Council R. and S. M. and of Boston Commandery K. T. He is a member of the several Scottish Rid bodies meeting in Boston, and past T. P. Master of Boston Lafayette Lodge of Perfection.
Brother Abbott could not fail to attract the same attention in the Scottish Rite as in the York Rite. On September 18, 1906, he received the Thirty-third degree and became an Honorary Member of the Supreme Council. Three years later, on September 23, 1909, he was promoted to Active membership in the Supreme Council and is now Puissant Grand Lieutenant Commander, holding thus the second office in that augusi Masonic body.
As Grand Master M. W. Brother Abbott has had to face trying conditions which demanded great qualities of leadership and imposed heavy administrative duties. To all of these demands he has shown himself more than equal.
Indefatigable in his attention to detail, unsparing of time and strength in personal visitation, unwearied in watchful care of the interests of the Fraternity and of all of its members, he has not only made his influence directly felt throughout the jurisdiction but has endeared himself to all the Brethren, winning golden opinions from all sorts and conditions of men.
Clear in his conception of Masonic ethics, and profound in his knowledge of Masonic law, he has been firm where occasion required but with ; firmness so tempered by the spirit of fraternity and brotherly love that no wounds were ever inflicted.
Always especially sensitive to the call of distress, M. W. Bro. Abbott has given especial attention to the charities of the Grand Lodge, personally interesting himself in the relief of distress and in all the affairs of the Masonic Home. At his instance the Massachusetts Masonic War Reliel Fund is being raised to insure the comfort of such of our Brethren and their dependents as may find themselves reduced to want by reason of injuries or death suffered in the discharge of duty. This service alone would be a lasting monument to his administration and will win the grateful remembrance of many in the years to follow the close of the war.
To all this may be added the grace, charm, and power of unusual oratory. Whenever the Grand Master speaks the dignity of his presence, the charm of his personality, the elevation of his thoughts and sentiment, and the power of his expression combine to make a deep and lasting impression on his hearers.
The Masons of Massachusetts respect and admire their Grand Master, but, more and better than that, they love him.
FROM PROCEEDINGS, 1932
From Proceedings, Page 1932-203:
Brother Abbott was born in Richmond, N. H., August 28, 1867, and died at his home in Brookline, October 10, 1932.
He received his education at the Keene, N. H., High School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard College, and the Harvard Law School. He was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1891 and continued the active practice of his profession until his death, with great success and distinction.
He became a member of Columbian Lodge in 1894 and. was its Master in 1906. He was District Deputy Grand Master for the First Masonic District in 1908 and 1909 by appointment of M. W. J. Albert Blake and M. W. Dana J. Flanders. He was Senior Grand Warden in 1913, and Grand Master in 1917, 1918, and 1919. As Grand Master during the years of our participation in the World War, he was faced by many difficulties and many unusual problems, all of which he met with unfailing energy, tact, and discretion.
He was a Charter member of Shawmut Lodge in 1913, West Roxbury Lodge in 1920, and Brookline Lodge in 1921, and affiliated with Beth-Horon Lodge in 1914. The high esteem in which he was held by the Fraternity is shown by the fact that he was an honorary member of twenty-three Lodges at the time of his death.
He was a Past High Priest of Saint Paul's Royal Arch Chapter, and Past Grand King of the Grand Chapter, and a member of Boston Council of Royal and Select Masters and of Boston Commandery of Knights Templar.
Brother Abbott took the Scottish Rite degrees in Boston in 1896 and was Thrice Potent Master of Boston-Lafayette Lodge of Perfection in 1904, 1905, and 1906. He became an Honorary Member of the Supreme Council, Thirty-third Degree, in 1906, and an Active Member in 1909. In 1911 he was elected Lieutenant Grand Commander and in 7921 was elected Sovereign Grand Commander, holding that office for the remainder of his life. As the head of the Northern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite he became a great international figure in Scottish Rite Masonry and acquired a tremendous influence in the Rite, an influence which was always exercised for the furtherance of sound and wise Masonry.
A great leader, a wise counsellor, a good friend has gone from our midst, and the whole Masonic world is the poorer for his going.
From Proceedings, Page 1932-290:
Born at Richmond, N. H., August 28, 1867 Died at Brookline, Mass., October 10, 1932
On the morning of the day of his death, Brother Abbott rose as usual but within a short time became sufficiently indisposed to induce him to defer his usual trip to his office; the physician who was called discovered no alarming symptoms and it was expected that his discomfort would disappear in a short time. A few hours later, without warning, "in the twinkling of an eye," Brother Abbott passed out of this life into the great unseen beyond. What a blow, what a shock this news was to his thousands of friends and associates, is testified by the number of messages received from all over the world, expressing the profound grief of all.
Funeral services were held at the Chapel of Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, which proved all too limited to accommodate the friends who wished to pay their tribute to his memory. Floral tributes were in the greatest profusion. The service was conducted by Rt. Wor. Frederick W. Hamilton, long time friend and associate; the ceremonies were beautiful in their simplicity and the touchingly adequate words spoken by Brother Hamilton gave such comfort as was possible to those overwhelmed by sorrow. Burial was at Keene, New Hampshire, in the family lot, where as the late afternoon sun was sinking into the West, Brother Abbott was laid at rest beside his ancestors. Commitment prayers were offered by Rev. Brother John Matteson, Chaplain of Columbian Lodge, Brother Abbott's Mother Lodge. Distinguished men and Masons, from distant parts of the country were present in great numbers to express their love and respect for him who had passed on.
Brother Abbott was born in Richmond, N. H., August 28, 1867. He attended the public schools at Keene, N. H., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard College and Harvard Law School and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1B91. His advance to eminence in his chosen profession was rapid and his success led to many offers of appointments to official position, all of which were declined. He was a member of the American, Massachusetts, and Boston Bar Associations; also a member of the following Clubs; Square and Compass, Algonquin, University, and Charles River Country Club. He was a Trustee of the Massachusetts Savings Bank and of many estates. He is survived by his widow, to whom he was married on April 19, 1894.
His Masonic record is long, varied and useful in every group with which he associated himself.
- Raised in Columbian Lodge, of Boston, June 7th, 1894.
- Worshipful Master in 1905-07.
- Trustee, Life and Honorary Member at the time of his death. District Deputy Grand Master for the First District, 1908-09.
- Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge in 1913.
- Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts in 1917-18-19.
- Director of the Grand Lodge from 1920 to 1923.
- Trustee of the Masonic Education and Charity Trust since 1925.
His service as Grand Master was of an outstanding character; coming as it did during the years that our country was engaged in the Great War, it gave opportunity for the expression of his great and sympathetic heart. Due to his efforts, a recreation building was erected at Camp Devens for the use of all the soldiers encamped there.
Resisting the demands for Army Lodges abroad, he conceived the better service of appointing Special Deputies among the troops abroad and in the various camps in this country and by this means kept close contact with our members who were in service. By his suggestion and leadership, our Lodges kept intimate touch with those of the Brethren who were in service and particularly the wounded and prisoners. His sympathetic thought of those who might be bereft by the war and those who might suffer permanent injury, inspired his successful effort to establish the Relief Fund, which before it was closed contained the contributions of every Lodge in our jurisdiction to the total amount of about $170,000.00. His wisdom in this effort has been proved many times since then by the desperate needs which have been solaced by the proceeds of this Fund. He retired at the end of the traditional term of three years, with a reputation for Masonic service which has constantly grown with the passing years and with a love and esteem of the Craft which has seldom been equalled and never exceeded. His reputation is safe as one of the Great Ones among our long list of Past Grand Masters.
- He was made a Royal Arch Mason in St. Paul's Chapter in 1894 and was its High Priest in 1907.
- He was elected Grand King of the Grand Royal Chapter in 1921.
- Received the Cryptic Degrees in Boston Council in 1896.
- Knighted in Boston Commandery in 1895 and served as a Trustee for many years.
- Received the Degrees of the A.A.S.R. in Boston Lafayette Lodge of Perfection, Giles F. Yates Council, Mt. Olivet Chapter, and Massachusetts Consistory, in 1896, presiding over the Lodge of Perfection in 1904-06.
- He was crowned as Honorary Member of the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree in 1906; was elected as Active Member in 1909. Was Deputy for Massachusetts from 1909 until he was elected Lieutenant Grand Commander in 1911. He was elected Grand Commander in 1921.
- He served as Chairman of the delegation to the International Conference of Supreme Councils at Lausanne in 1922 and also at Paris in 1929, on both of these occasions he was instrusted with important duties which he accomplished to the admiration of all.
- He was Honorary Member of innumerable Supreme Councils and subordinate bodies of the Rite.
Among his many accomplishments as Grand Commander, perhaps the outstanding ones were the erection of the Sojourners Club at the Government Hospital at Fort Bayard, N. M.; the establishment of the Supreme Council Educational Foundation and above all the splendid harmonious success of the Supreme Council under his leadership.
As Freemasons of every degree, we are grateful that such a man found in our Order the outlet for the expression of his kindly and sympathetic nature.
"Some must be great; Great offices will have
Great talents. And God gives to every man
The virtue, temper, understanding, taste
That lifts him into life, and lets him fall
Just in the niche he was ordained to fill."
Our Fraternity has been dealt a shocking blow in the passing of this great leader who found in Freemasonry his great opportunity for the practical expression pf his heart's desire; to be of service to his fellow creatures.
Seemingly in the enjoyment of vigorous health, he was struck down in an instant, justifying in an impressive way the common saying that "Death loves a shining mark" for that he was, standing in the public eye as one of the great leaders of a national group of earnest men and occupying in our hearts a position rarely attained by any man.
Entering the Fraternity in 1894, he at once found in it the avenue for the best practice of his lofty ideals. His devotion to Masonic principles led to his rapid advancement to positions of responsibility and leadership in all of the Masonic Branches and as each task was accomplished another and greater one fell to his lot. His stature grew to meet each succeeding burden and the measure of his efforts increased with each added responsibility until it seemed as if no more laurels could be added to his crown of exalted service.
It was said by a great Dutch painter that "the end of the day is the proof of the picture." One might exhaust language in testimony of his character, but is it not better for us to feel in our hearts what he has meant to us. His victories are on record but to each one who enjoyed his friendship there is something that belongs only to us. Let us keep and cherish that which is most dear in our memories of him, secure in the knowledge that the sum total of those memories gives a complete picture of a noble character and a useful life.
"Nothing can cover his high fame but Heaven,
No pyramids set of his memories
But the eternal substance of his greatness,
To which I leave him."
FROM NEW ENGLAND CRAFTSMAN, 1932
From New England Craftsman, Vol. XXVIII, No. 2, October 1932, Page 32:
Leon Martin Abbott, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts in 1917, 1918, and 1919, died suddenly at his home, in Brookline, Massachusetts, on Monday, October 10, 1932.
Thus passes another Grand Master of this jurisdiction within a month of his successor in that office, and whose demise was recorded last month in these pages.
The exalted brother, whose death has just occurred, had an experience unique in Masonic life.
Honors came to him thick and fast. From the time of his initiation in Columbian Lodge, Boston, in 1891, he had held Masonic office continuously, rising steadily through successive steps not only to the Grand Mastership of this jurisdiction, but to the head of the Scottish Rite as well. He was Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, A. A. S. R.
Probably no man in the fraternity was better known either in this country or abroad. His activities took him to many places.
Few among his fellows at the recent great meeting of that Rite at Indianapolis but will be shocked to learn of his passing.
Gifted with singular charm and an attractive personality, he guided well the organizations of which he had been the head. His record stands as his memorial.
The writer acknowledges here many kindly acts at his hands. He had always shown a keen interest in the Craftsman and a concern for its welfare. He it was who first helped this writer to receive Light in Masonry. The remembrance of his exquisite rendition of the ritual will long remain.
"MASONIC DUTIES AND OPPORTUNITIES", DECEMBER 1906
From New England Craftsman, Vol. II, No. 1, October 1906, Page 21:
With an Order which knows no limits of city, or state, or nation, and which has as its basic principle the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, what an opportunity is ours to uplift, benefit, and bless mankind!
The influence of Masonry is not confined to the lives of our own members, but reaches out and includes the whole world. Who can estimate the good that would come, if every Mason did his whole duty and earnestly and honestly tried his level best to live in accordance with Masonic principles ? Who can measure the incentive for good or evil of one example,— of a single life? How all important it is, then, that every member should guard his own thought and conduct, that he may help and not hinder his fellow-men in their every honest effort and ambition! Every member of our fraternity is under a grave responsibility to see that the Principles of the Order are faithfully and truthfully emphasized in his own individual life and character. There is no fairer test in the eyes of the world, of the real merit, of the real worth, of an institution like ours than the lives and the character of the man who represent it. We must not, then, be caught napping, but be fully awake and prove to the world that Masonry is but the highway leading to splendid manhood, and that our enlistment is on the side of every God-given virtue.
How much of the misery and unhappiness on earth today is admittedly caused by selfishness, self-seeking, self-centered thought, sensual appetite and passion. Eliminate these evils from human thought and practice and supplant them by the Masonic virtues of selflessness, charity, kindness, the practice of the Golden Rule, the seeking of one's own in another's good, and what would happen? Think you that this world would be a pleasanter place to live in? Yes, a thousand times yes! No more of war, class hatred, labor quarrels, domestic infelicity, drunkenness, or debauchery. And all this within easy reach of accomplishment if even only a comparatively few men will every moment of their lives be loyal and true to their own highest ideals.
"Men take the pure ideals of their lives
And lock them fast away,
And never dream that things so beautiful
Are fit for every day."
What sadder spectacle is there than to see a man put away, for some more convenient season, the practice of what in his heart he knows to be right, simply because he thinks that his neighbor may not like it, or thinks that he may not be understood, or that Irs popularity may be endangered.
When a man, possessed of christian charity, is willing to risk his neighbor's displeasure, willing to be misunderstood, maligned and scoffed at, is ready to forsake popularity,— yes, all, in his devotion to principle, then may we be assured that he is beginning to measure up to the true stature of a man.
It is so much easier for men to move or drift along in the line of least resistance and to adopt the world's standard of morality, than to battle against the current of selfish thinking and living. Every reader knows of men in professional, business, political, or social life who are accounted successful, men of scholarly ability, men who have perhaps accumulated large fortunes, and who possess great influence through their wealth, official or social position. How often it is that we find that these men are anything but successful in the true sense of the word, but are not infrequently moral bankrupts; men without a particle of charity in their makeup, who have no love for their fellow-men in their hearts, but are simply governed and controlled by selfish and sinful motives and purposes. Notwithstanding their accumulated wealth and exalted station, the haven of happiness is not theirs, and the poverty of such lives soon becomes apparent.
What a miserable sort of a existence, for one to go through the world, elbowing right and left thinking only of material possessions, and to reap some personal advantage through his neighbor's loss.
Sooner or later, mankind will begin to realize and understand that the only substantial good that can come to one, the only true happiness that can permanently be made one's own possession is of moral and spiritual attainment.
Recognizing, as all observing persons cannot fail to do, the world's unrest, the envy, graft, and greed on every side, the constant seeking for happiness and success in almost every direction but the right one, what then, we ask, is the remedy, and to what, and to whom can we look for deliverance?
Has Masonry no part to play in this deliverance, in leading man kind to healthier and better conditions, out of the mire of selfishness into freedom from all that would debase, degrade, corrupt and enslave in human life?
With our splendid organization, our equipment of principles and of men, what a privilege is ours! By simple loyalty to our professions, to our duty as Masons, can the whole human race be made to feel the regenerating impulse and beneficent influence . of our example With every incentive that thl benefiting of mankind can give, with every exaction of conscience of duty, of honor, crying out and demanding that we should be faithful to our professions, is it no strange indeed that we can ever be content with less than absolute consecration of effort, which unitedly given would transform the world?
That man whose membership does not prompt a better and nobler manhood is little less than a serious menace to our institution. It takes moral courage to be a true Mason and to stand as the exemplar of that which is pure, and true, and God-like, to break away from the temptations of sordid self-interest, away from the vices and weaknesses of men. The comradeship of Masonry does not get its inspiration in the wine-cup nor in the indulgence of physical appetite.
Is is not fair to ask if we are really more charitable than other men? Do we love our fellow-men more than other men love their fellow-men? Do we use our institution as an instrument to exalt principle rather than personality? Do we practice outside the Lodge room what we preach within it?
If the time should ever come when we are not able to honestly answer all of these questions in the affirmative, then there will assuredly come a day of reckoning, the mask of false pretension will be torn from our faces, and we shall have to stand forth in the lime-light with our guilt and our shame exposed, and the finger of condemnation ever pointing at us with unutterable scorn and with unerring justice! The future depends in large measure upon the worthiness of the standard bearers of today.
When men of sturdy manhood and noble character hold the banner of Masonry aloft, then, indeed, are we assured of its perpetuity and of its continued influence on the side of virtue and the right.
With a history of glorious achivement, spurred on by the needs and opportunities of the present, Masonry will find her place in the forefront of the battle for the vindication and perpetuation of every manly virtue. More and more shall the impress be left on the mind and heart of every Mason that our affiliations are but the bugle call to action and that the conformity of life and conduct to the principles of our institution will bring within closer reach the goal of every legitimate and honest endeavor.
Let us, then, continue to strive to establish in the human heart a love for all that is beautiful and pure and good — let brotherly love in its truest, broadest and grandest sense reach out and include the whole world, and sweeten, ennoble, and inspire the thought and lives of men.
"Something each day, a deed
Of kindness and of good,
To link in closer bonds
All human brotherhood."
AT THE DEDICATION OF MASONIC APARTMENTS IN LOWELL, JANUARY 1913
From Proceedings, Page 1913-14:
Brethren of Lowell, the Grand Lodge congratulates you most heartily upon these apartments — this new and attractive home — the providing of which marks a most important event in the history of the Fraternity in this city. We share with you the joy of this reward of labor and of sacrifice.
It is a matter of sincere regret that the absence from the country of the Most Worshipful Grand Master and the Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master prevents their being here to conduct the ceremonies of dedication and to add to the pleasure of the occasion by their presence. That they are performing official Masonic duties in a distant clime and country but illustrates the universality of Freemasonry and gives us a better appreciation of the broad and beneficent influence of our own Grand Lodge, with its subordinate Lodges in Panama, in Chili, and in far distant China. The great principles of Masonry are the same in whatever tongue they are conveyed or by whatever race or life they are portrayed.
It would seem immodest and unbecoming of me, serving as I am temporarily, and almost accidentally, as Acting Grand Master, to make extended address, or to try in personal word to do full justice to that spirit of Masonic loyalty and devotion to which these apartments, with their beautiful furnishings and decorations, give silent yet most eloquent expression. Such witnesses bear testimony far more conclusive and enduring than that of human lips. Here is an outward and convincing revelation of active and consecrated interest.
We judge a man not by what he says but by what he does. A mere profession of interest in Masonry, with manifest indifference to the rugged virtues for which it stands and which it seeks to advance and perpetuate, would never have resulted in such fruition as we see about us. "By their fruits ye shall know them" is the square, the level, and the plumb by which our professions as Masons shall be tried. The Brethren of this city long ago earned and secured an enviable position among the leaders in Masonic interest and energy in our entire jurisdiction. The history of Masonry in Lowell has been so closely associated with every movement for the general welfare of all in the community, that there can be no doubt that within your Lodge rooms there have been born and nurtured many of the noblest impulses and resolves of good citizenship.
I venture to say that a large part of the Protestant, God-loving, God-serving people of this city, who are not members of our Institution, recognize in it to-day a sturdy bulwark of civic righteousness, a champion of human liberty, and a pioneer of advancing civilization.
In an address entitled "The Duties of Freemasonry," by Bro. Wilkes Allen, given at the consecration of Pentucket Lodge in 1809 — one hundred four years ago — there is to be found a remarkably beautiful exposition of Masonic teaching, especially interesting in its recital of the relation of our Fraternity to civil society. Let me take just one paragraph from that discourse to show you how futile and powerless have been the attacks of time upon those eternal truths which are the centre and the circumference of our fellowship.
"The honor and glory of our institution depend more on our conduct than profession. If we would preserve its honor and advance its interest, we must by our life and conversation put the ignorant and malicious to shame, who speak evil of what they know not. . .
"From what has been said may be inferred the safety of our association to civil society, as its great object is to cultivate the graces, which adorn, and the virtues, which exalt human nature. The perfect order and subordination existing among Masonic bodies, admirably fit them for peaceable subjects in the State. Besides genuine patriotism is the native growth of the virtue and piety taught and inculcated by Masonry. So far from being dangerous, as has been slanderously reported, our Lodges are fertile nurseries, where are reared up 'plants of renown and trees of righteousness, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations."
These words, uttered more than a hundred years ago, find a ready echo in every truly Masonic heart of the present day. With an interruption of eleven years, from 1834 to 1845, during the anti-Masonic period, when your Charters were surrendered, the banner of organized Masonry has been borne aloft in this city since 1807 by men of character and of virtuous manhood.
With an institution which knows no distinction among men save that of righteousness alone, who is there who can estimate or measure the tremendous power for practical good in the thought and the lives of men, and in the very life of any community of a hundred years of active devotion to the brotherly love of Freemasonry, that moral excellence which is the very basis of all right relation with our fellowmen. "Masonry breathes into the everyday, the common life of men the glory of the ideal." Human standards have been raised, human hearts have been soothed, and comforted, and strengthened, and in word and in deed God has been glorified.
Your membership rolls bear the names of many distinguished men who have been prominent in almost every avenue of honest human effort; clergymen, physicians, lawyers, judges, manufacturers, merchants, tradesmen, employers and employees, all meeting upon the level and parting on the square.
Your past has indeed been rich in the membership of those who no longer answer when their names are called (some of their faces look down from the walls of adjoining rooms), and whose lives have been faithful and beautiful expressions of the teachings and tenets of our Fraternity. But never in the history of the Order in this section have there been greater riches in membership than at this very hour, with this splendid body of representative men united in purpose and in sympathy of ultimate and noblest aim. Among those here to-night I notice with supreme pleasure the faces of some who were recorded as being present at the dedication of the adjoining Masonic apartments by our late Most Worshipful Brother Nickerson, in 1872 — a little over forty years ago. The names of Stevens, Hutchinson, Livingston, and many others will brighten and illumine the pages of the history of Masonic achievement in Massachusetts.
And what shall I say of him whose attachment for Masonry, whose tireless energy, whose great love for his fellow-men, whose liberality, has in a large measure made these luxurious apartments a present-day possibility? Lowell is richer, Masonry is richer, the world is richer, because of the radiance of such a splendid life and service as that of Right Worshipful Brother Pollard. May he long live to receive the benedictions of his fellowmen, and to inspire them by his example.
May these ceremonies of to-night but symbolize the dedication anew of your life and mine to the highest and truest ideals we know, to the indulgence of every sentiment which ennobles human nature.
The honor, integrity, and the reputation of Freemasonry is in our keeping — a sacred trust to be administered for the benefit of humanity — and, looking beyond our own lives, we shall, by our faithfulness and worthiness, prefigure the destinies of our Institution; and verily there shall be established on earth and in the hearts and lives of all men the world over the glorious Sovereignty of brotherly love.
- Description of event, from New England Craftsman.
AT THE DEDICATION OF MASONIC APARTMENTS IN PITTSFIELD, MAY 1914
From Proceedings, Page 1914-116:
I am afraid that it was in an ill-advised moment that I accepted the generous and kindly invitation of the Most Worshipful Grand Master to address you upon this occasion. I was not as conscious then as I am now of the inferiority of my qualifications to give such an address as is most fitting and worthy of this notable and important event — perhaps the most momentous in the history of Masonry in this section of the State. And I confess to more of diffidence and self-distrust because of the presence of the Grand Master and of so many other distinguished Brethren worthier and more competent than I am to entertain, instruct and inspire you.
The Brethren of this city have earned, secured and maintained an enviable position among the leaders in Masonic interest and service in our entire jurisdiction. To me and to many of the Craft from the eastern part of the State it has always been a source of joy and inspiration to come here to attend any Masonic function, so generous your hospitality, so genuine and sincere your comradeship.
PITTSFIELD MASONS PRAISED. The history of Masonry in Pittsfield during the past, approximately one hundred years, has been so closely associated with every movement for the general welfare of all in the community, that there can be no doubt that within your Lodge-rooms there have been born and nurtured many of the noblest impulses and resolves of good citizenship. I venture to say that a large part of the God-loving, God-serving people of the city and section, who are not members of our institution, recognize in it to-day a sturdy bulwark of civic righteousness, a champion of human liberty, and a leader of advancing civilization.
How futile and how powerless have been the attacks of time and enemies upon those eternal truths which we seek to emphasize and which are the centre and the circumference of our fellowship. How steady indeed has been the march of progress during the.past century; how many barriers separating men have been removed; how many old antagonisms have been mitigated; what differences have fallen into oblivion, and how little the separation of religious belief. One can read the Sunday sermons in this morning's papers without knowing from the sermon the denomination to which the preacher belongs. This would hardly have been possible even fifty years ago.
Along many lines of human effort and need the spirit of universal brotherhood has been manifest and the Divine is being revealed in the hearts of men. Someone has truly said that somewhere in the secret of every soul there lies the hidden gleam of a perfect life. It has been one of the glad and sacred missions of our Fraternity to nourish and fan that little gleam until it becomes as a beacon, lighting and pointing the way to the grandeur of ideal manhood.
The world has a right to ask of what worth and benefit is Masonry; how has it helped you and me, and others, on our journey of life toward success, and happiness and God. If there are those whose eyes are so blind that they cannot see, or whose prejudices are so strong that they will not see, then we must reflect and radiate more of the spirit of brotherly love until the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and evil and hatred shall be melted away. To those of us who have "touched the hem of the garment" of Masonic principles, and teaching and association, there is an ever-present sense of happiness and hope, attesting and vindicating the value and advantage of Masonic membership.
Who is there of our Fraternity but has felt something of added strength and joy by reason of his affiliations,- or through some touch of Masonic comradeship. The aim, the end, the goal, the all-inclusive of Masonic teaching is "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good-will toward men."
Can the advance of such principles and tenets fail to make the world happier and better; can they fail to help the man who is too prone "to sink to what is below rather than to rise to what is above him?" Are we not constantly furnishing an ideal of faith, hope and service to which men may consecrate themselves in the sweet assurance of bettered lives? Emerson says "Hitch your wagon to a star," and Masonry replies that a membership of a million and a half in this country alone have pledged themselves to be loyal to the loftiest and noblest ideals they know.
Men unconsciously grow to become like that which they continually contemplate — and herein lies the secret of success, "the pearl of great price," in the ministry of Masonry. We have constantly before us, through precept, symbol and example, the most exalted ideals of Christian manhood. It is as impossible for a man to do evil whose consciousness is filled with good, as it would be for an artist to paint a portrait of Jesus when before him there was the form and features of Judas.
THE MAN WORTH WHILE. The man worth while is he who seeks goodness because of its own inherent worth and practical value. He never ceases to seek the ultimate, yes, heaven itself, for its own glory of idealism. The man who refrains from doing wrong through fear of punishment can never be a Mason except in name, nor can he be safely trusted in any relation of human society.
I hope, Brethren, that I am but taking you back to old familiar scenes and happy memories. Hannah More has rightly said that "the world does not need so much to be informed as to be reminded." This is especially true with reference to our fraternal duties and responsibilities.
No thinking person can look about him to-day, either in this country or abroad, and fail to recognize that we are rapidly approaching a grave crisis in social, industrial and political life. Bring to mind the extraordinary situation in Mexico, the recent strife and bloodshed in Colorado, the demand for Home Rule and for equal suffrage in England, the violent unrest manifest in almost every part of the civilized world, and then inquire of yourselves if our Fraternity has a mission in the world to-day, or if its work is ended. Why, it has but just begun. Brethren of Pittsfield, ask yourselves if the dedication of this beautiful structure to the purposes of Masonry doesn't take on a deeper significance and importance because of the impending crisis in the affairs of men.
The secrets of Masonry are but the merest incidents in our work and in our engagements. The great principles of truth and Fraternity for which we stand, and which we seek to advance have in them no element of secrecy.
I honestly believe that it is to our institution (co-extensive with civilization itself) more than to any other single human agency in the world to-day that mankind has a right to look for deliverance from many of the unhappy conditions that force themselves upon our attention from every side.
There is a large measure of truth in the statement that "this historic fellowship of ours, with its plea for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity is worth more for the safety and the sanctity of our Republic than both its army and its navy combined."
I have in my office letters from the late President of Mexico, Madero, letters from present-day senators and officials there, and also letters from Masonic Brethren from almost every part of the world, breathing a spirit of brotherly love, and devotion to the principles of our Fraternity.
With every Masonic Lodge, the world over, a nursery of love, kindness, patriotism and good citizenship, standing for education and enlightenment, we have become guardians of liberty and pioneers of advancing civilization.
With an Institution that sees good in every faith that helps man to grasp the higher things of life, that knows no distinction among men save that of righteousness alone, who is there who can estimate or measure the tremendous power for practical good in the thought and lives of men, and in the very life of any community, of a hundred years of active devotion to the brotherly love of Freemasonry, that moral excellence which is the very basis of all right relation with our fellow-men? Masonry breathes into the everyday, the common life of men, the glory of the ideal. Human standards have been raised, human hearts have been soothed, comforted and strengthened, and in word and in deed God has been glorified. Your membership rolls bear the names of many men prominent in almost every avenue of honest human effort: clergymen, physicians, lawyers, judges, manufacturers, merchants, tradesmen, employers and employes, all meeting upon the level and parting on the square. Your past has indeed been rich in the membership of those who no longer answer when their names are called, but whose lives have been faithful and beautiful expressions of the teachings and tenets of our Fraternity. Never have there been greater riches than at this very hour, in this splendid body of representative men united in purpose and in sympathy of ultimate and noblest aim. The devoted interest and service of the Brethren of Pittsfield have brightened and illumined the pages of the history of Masonic achievement in Massachusetts.
May this grand old fellowship of ours, under the auspices of which we are gathered here to-day, ever continue to enlarge the boundary of human thought and action, ever be found in the forefront of the battle for the vindication and perpetuation of every manly, not prudish, virtue, in the enlightenment of men, so that finally the very facts shall outrun our faith, and all strife, all misery, all evil shall fade away and be blotted out from human experience.
May these ceremonies of this afternoon but symbolize the dedication anew of your life and mine to the truest and highest ideals, to the indulgence of every sentiment which ennobles human nature and brings it into harmony with the divine.
The honor, the integrity and the reputation of Masonry are in our keeping — a sacred trust to be administered for the benefit of humanity. And, looking beyond our own lives, we shall, by our loyalty and worthiness, prefigure the destinies of our organization, and verily there shall be established on earth and in the hearts and lives of all men, the world over, the glorious sovereignty of brotherly love.
INNER TEMPLE ADDRESS, JANUARY 1916
From New England Craftsman, Vol. XI, No. 5, February 1916, Page 162:
Before the "Order of the Inner Temple," January 31, 1916
This organization, the first of its kind in this jurisdiction at least, ought, and I have no doubt will, be fruitful of much good not only to its members but to the fraternity at large. It will help to break down and destroy any barriers that creeds or doctrines may have erected against an all-inclusive and pervasive spirit of true fraternity. It has been truly said that "God's best gift to us is not things, but opportunities." This has a deeper meaning to members of our institution, and perhaps is of even greater significance to our chaplains because of their training and experience, and their constant effort to avail themselves of any opportunity to advance human good and happiness.
The gulf that too often separates a minister from close touch with members of his congregation or those whom he would serve and help does not exist between him and the members of his Masonic lodge. In his Masonic relations, every brother stands upon the level with every other. The very democracy of Masonry gives to the chaplain a rare opportunity for unselfed service. There is in this fraternity of ours no 'holier than thou' to prejudice or prevent a full and true expression and reflection of the spirit of Christ and its transforming influence upon the lives of men.
The despairing and often silent appeal for help goes out not to the Master as Master, not to the Chaplain as Chaplain, but to a brother enlisted under the same banner, sharing the same hope, united in the same purpose, and sympathy of ultimate and noblest aim.
It has been a matter of intense interest to me to note the development of Masonic character in the lives of those who are admitted to our membership. We little realize how great the influence of Masonic ceremonies and early associations upon the lives and future of our candidates.
In the early ritual exercises and in the initial stages of Masonic fellowship, the chaplain has a most important part to play in stamping upon the mind and the heart the true impress of brotherly love. It is in these early stages of Masonic life that the most lasting impressions of our institution are gained by the initiates. Here are born the first impulses and resolves of Masonic life. "Within the secret of every soul there lies the hidden gleam of a perfect life." What a sacred privilege and a glorious gift to be afforded the opportunity through our associations of fanning that little gleam until it becomes as the light of noon-tide glory, lighting and pointing the way to many a weary wanderer.
There are some evil tendencies within our ranks which manifest themselves from time to time to the weakening of our organization and to the eradication of which our chaplains should most assiduously apply themselves. There must be noted now and then a lack of sincerity on the part of some of our officers and members, the nauseating vanity of some official representatives, the too frequent use of the fraternity to exalt personality and to gratify selfish ambitions. Too many men seem to think Masonry consists only in the reciting of ritual, the wearing of jewels and the bearing of high sounding titles. It, too, may be truthfully said of us, as it can be said of most organizations for human betterment, that we preach too much and practice what we preach too little.
There is no member or officer of lodge who has a better opportunity than the chaplain to help rid our organization of these evils. The chaplain's opportunities, brethren, why the very pathway of every lodge chaplain, as well as every officer, who has touched even the hem of the garment of Masonic teachings and principles is strewn with opportunities and sacred duties.
In these days of war, trouble and unrest, when the true spirit of fraternity seems to have lost possession of the hearts and lives of so many men the world over, it becomes every Mason to recognize that our organization, and we as individual members of it, have a greater responsibility than the average man to re-establish and advance in human consciousness and experience a love for God and man, and so help to usher in the kingdom which Christ came to establish, "On earth Peace, good will towards Men."
AT WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY OBSERVANCE, SOUTH BOSTON, FEBRUARY 1919
From Proceedings, Page 1919-3; at Phillips Congregational Church, South Boston, MA, 02/16/1919:
The opportunity and privilege of coming here at this time, to this house of God and in this presence, to share in tribute to the memory of one who has affectionately been known and called the "Father of his Country," is an honor and a pleasure that is deeply appreciated. As the representative of the Grand Lodge and of the eighty thousand members of the Masonic Fraternity in Massachusetts, I bear and bring grateful acknowledgment for the courtesy and kindness of the Brethren of the Masonic Lodges meeting in this locality as well as for that of the Pastor of this church, himself an honored and much beloved member of our Order.
It is my purpose to detain you for only a few brief moments and perhaps to leave with you just a few random thoughts. Far be it from me to trespass upon the time or the domain of the Grand Chaplain of our Grand Lodge who comes here tonight to give the address of the evening — whose words are always an inspiration and whose very presence is a benediction.
I believe that all thinking men and women account it as fortunate indeed that in this Country we are following up the custom of regularly honoring upon the anniversaries of their birth the lives and memories of many of our great men. It is coming to be more and more generally recognized that constant contemplation of the lives and the achievements of those who have done much to make our Country great and prosperous and happy helps to bring our own thoughts up to a higher and better level, and enables us to contribute more generously to that end for others, not only for our day and generation, but for those that shall come after. "Whatever helps to bring out the best there is in us helps us to bring out the best there is in other men." And it has also been truly said that "but for great men we common folk could scarcely keep our souls alive."
Within the week the whole Country, on a day deservedly set apart by presidential proclamation, has been offering its tribute of gratitude and love for the life and service of a great American patriot, in the minds of many the greatest American patriot of our day, Theodore Roosevelt. It is a matter of pride to you and to me, Brethren, that in the very heyday of his prominence and public influence he should of his own will and initiative seek and secure admission to our historic and time-honored fellowship.
In the present calendar month, and through the anniversaries of their birth, the curtain of years is drawn aside and we live again with three of the greatest characters in American history, James Russell Lowell, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington* Is there a man so fugitive to a love of God and country and righteousness that he does not breathe a silent prayer of gratitude that — albeit through the vista of years — he comes today within the hallowed influence of the consecrated lives of such men 1 If it is with you as it is with me that many important events in the history of our famous men have in the lapse of time faded somewhat from memory, perhaps you will permit me to recall just a few incidents in Washington's career of particular interest to us as Masons and which at some time have undoubtedly been familiar to you all.
So closely is the biography of Washington interwoven and related to the early history of our Country that it almost defies a separation. It was he more than any other man who established the nation and created a government — the first to rise above the provincial or colonial spirit and to reach a broad concept of national life and character.
He was born one hundred and eighty-seven years ago and died one hundred and twenty years ago. He was elected to receive the degrees in Freemasonry when he was but twenty years of age, as was permitted under Masonic authority at that time. He, therefore, had the benefit of Masonic teaching and inspiration during all of his mature years. The influence of his sturdy and constant devotion to high standards and Masonic ideals was not confined to the limits of his earthly presence, but has spanned and shed its fragrance over nearly a century and a quarter since he passed away and is today a vitalizing and uplifting force in the hearts and souls of men. His concept of our Institution was given in a letter in which he wrote as follows:
"Being persuaded that a just application of the principles on which the Masonic Fraternity is founded must be promotive of virtue and public prosperity, I shall always be happy to advance the interests of the Society, and be considered by them a deserving Brother."
It affords me supreme delight to he able to claim Washington as really a Massachusetts Mason because of the fact that the Lodge in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in which he received the degrees, was then acting and existing under a Dispensation granted by Thomas Oxnard, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. This seems not to be generally known even by our own Brethren.
Those with whom Washington was associated and surrounded in the formation and foundation of our Government were very generally Masons. A majority of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and nearly all of the staff officers of General Washington were members of our Institution. All through the Constitution of the United States can be seen the reassertion of Masonic principles as long laid down and established by eminent and accepted Masonic authority.
During the time that Washington was in command of the army, and in the years following, he was made an honorary member of several Masonic Lodges and was a constant attendant at the Lodge meetings held by the army or traveling Lodges as they were called at that time. His presence at these meetings has been amply authenticated. Washington was the first Worshipful Master of Alexandria Lodge, No. 22, of Alexandria, Virginia (in 1788). At the next annual meeting he was reelected Master.
It was in April, 1789, that he was inaugurated the first President of the United States, and it is to us a very interesting fact that at that time he was still Worshipful Master of his Lodge, and also that he took his oath of office as President upon the Bible of Saint John's Lodge, of New York, and that the oath was administered by Grand Master Livingstone of New York.
During Washington's second term of office as President the corner-stone of the Capitol at Washington was laid by him in full Masonic regalia and ceremonial.
Soon after he retired from the Presidential chair the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts sent him a fraternal address.
News of Washington's death in December, 1799, did not reach Boston until two weeks after it occurred. This seems almost unbelievable in the light of present day accomplishment in the transmission of uncensored news. Dr. Dick who was his family and attending physician during his last illness was the Master of Alexandria Lodge at the time.
One of the most precious possessions of our Grand Lodge — so precious that each Grand Master is held responsible for its safe keeping — is a lock of Washington's hair sent to our Grand Lodge by his widow soon after his death. This memento is preserved in a little urn made for the purpose by Paul Revere, with his own hands, himself a Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts. Commemorative funeral services were held by our Grand Lodge in February after his death, and sixteen hundred Masons were in the line of the procession through the streets of Boston, each wearing a medal bearing the legend, "He is in glory, the world in tears."
Washington was possessed of extraordinary personal courage, self-control, and self-reliance, and he brought into every relation in life a mind of rich and rare endowment, a heart full of compassion, a nature as modest, tender, and gentle as that of a child.
He was the embodiment of National and Masonic ideals and his name has become the enshrinement of the principles and rugged virtues he upheld. In these present days at the close of a great war when the safety and sanctity of our Nation and of its free institutions are still being threatened from within and without by sinister and destructive influences, we sorely need the benevolent heart, the tolerant and kindly spirit, the broad and clear vision, the firm courage, and the unselfish purpose of a Washington to point and to lead the way to that El Dorado of human hope where all shall join in the glad refrain "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
But the dreamer, the socialist, the Bolshevist, the anarchist, and too often the intellectualist, tell us that the times have changed and the world has progressed since the days of Washington; that new diseases in national, civil, political, industrial, and individual life have appeared and that new remedies and nostrums must be employed and applied. We hear the specious cry of liberty, freedom, and democracy from the masked faces of ignorance, vice, and selfishness. License, not liberty, is their motive, purpose, aim, and desire, a license that would destroy the very foundations of civil government, that would substitute the rule of the mob for that of law and order, already recently attempted; a license that would paralyze the very energies of right and plunge the world into the darkness and chaos of crime, confusion, and unparalleled tyranny and despotism.
Has this great Order of ours, formed and established to combat the very evils that menace and are so manifest on every side today, no leading part to play in the deliverance from these unhappy conditions 1 With every sacred tradition of Masonry, with every exaction of conscience, of duty, and of honor, with every demand of loyalty and fidelity to such service and sacrifice as we memorialize tonight, there comes to every member of the Craft a clarion call to duty. Two millions strong of liberty-loving, God-acknowledging men enlisted in this country under the banner of Freemasonry are beginning to awake from the lethargy of ease, inaction, and of simple profession ready to give a larger, a vitalizing, pulsing, palpitating, and living expression to the fundamental teachings and tenets of our Institution. Today is one of supreme test. The advance of civilization, the progress of the world, the happiness of mankind are in a large measure in our keeping.
Rich is our heritage, glorious our opportunity, sacred our trust.
If this memorial observance and these exercises of tonight but symbolize the rededication of our lives to the service of God and humanity, if the ties of love that bind us together find some larger place in the hearts of men, then indeed have we paid fitting and true Masonic tribute to him who lives again in thoughts that pierce the night like stars, and by their mild persistence lead men's minds to vaster issues.
AT THE CENTENARY OF BETHESDA LODGE, MARCH 1919
From Proceedings, Page 1919-30:
I am glad and proud indeed of the privilege of coming here today and of bringing a brief word of cordial greeting and congratulation from the Grand Lodge of Masons to Bethesda Lodge, one of its most beloved children. I say one of its children advisedly, for Bethesda Lodge is not one hundred years old but one hundred years young today and in the full vigor, strength, and enthusiasm of youth. Eighty thousand Masons in Massachusetts rejoice with the members of this Lodge upon their having reached the milepost of one hundred years of organized existence—a century devoted to the search and service of the ideal in our time-honored fellowship.
With the exception of twelve or thirteen years, from 1833 to 1845, during the anti-Masonic period, this effort and service have been constant and active—zealous, wise, and fruitful.
It would seem almost precocious and presumptuous of me to try to add anything to what has already been so well said here this afternoon. Our Grand Chaplain — true to form — has so well represented the Grand Lodge and has so completely mobilized the English language and appropriated every superlative expression — manual, facial, and verbal — that I am bereft and forlorn of newness of thought or pleasing presentation. This particular Grand Chaplain is much sought after for occasions of this kind because his message never fails to be inspiring and his presence a veritable benediction.
It is a matter of interest to recall that Francis J. Oliver was the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts at the time Bethesda Lodge was chartered. M.W. Brother Oliver was a very talented and able man. He was graduated from Harvard at the age of eighteen and became one of the leading and most respected citizens of the city and state. He was at one time the President of the Boston Common Council and occupied many other positions of trust and responsibility. He served for many years in offices of the Grand Lodge before he became Grand Master. He was Grand Master during the years 1817, 1818, and 1819, and it was during his term of office that the cornerstone of the Massachusetts General Hospital was laid by the Grand Lodge. It is also a matter of interest to recall that it was in 1819 that the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Districts of our Masonic jurisdiction were set off to the Province of Maine in anticipation of Maine becoming a state, which it did in 1820. Besides the name of M. W. Brother Oliver upon the Charter of Bethesda Lodge there appear the names of Joseph Jenkins, Caleb Butler, and John Soley. Each of these Brethren later became Grand Master of the Grand Lodge.
I am glad that we are asked to come here to this house of God to observe in part the Centennial Anniversary of Bethesda Lodge. It seems most fitting and appropriate, considering the character of our institution and its relation to the church. It has sometimes carelessly been said that Masonry is neither a religious nor charitable nor benevolent organization. If it is not all of these, then there is little or no excuse for its continued existence. It never could have withstood the corrupting hand of time if its anchor had not been secure in the worship of God, albeit the form of that worship is left to the dictates of individual conscience. Recognizing as it does the good in every religious sect or faith that helps men to grasp the higher things of life, Masonry has been the pioneer and the most active human agency in the breaking down of the barriers of religious prejudice and in encouraging a broad spirit of toleration and brotherly love even among those beyond the confines of its own membership.
I am glad indeed that it was while I occupied the chair of Grand Master that the Grand Lodge by unanimous vote incorporated into our written law the recognition of certain Masonic landmarks, the first three of which are:
- a. Monotheism, the sole dogma of Freemasonry;
- b. Belief in immortality, the ultimate lesson of Masonic philosophy;
- c. The Volume of the Sacred Law, an indispensable part of the furniture of a Lodge.
It is earnestly to be hoped that this oldest Masonic jurisdiction in America will always continue to refuse to recognize as Masonic any organization that does not acknowledge its acceptance and adherence to these Landmarks. I have no confidence in any so-called system of code of morals that is not predicated upon an affirmative belief and trust in a Supreme Being — in an all-wise Creator.
It cannot be successfully gainsaid that the permanency, and in these days remarkable growth, of our Order is due in very large part to our acknowledgment and worship of God and efforts to be obedient to His revealed word and laws of life. It is of the centre and circumference of our fellowship and the true inspiration of our comradeship. I was interested in looking over our Grand Lodge records of March, 1819—just one hundred years ago — to find that a report was read and accepted dealing with the wider distribution of the Bible through a Bible Society that had requested assistance to that end. Let me read you just a few lines from the report as it appears on our records:
"We realize, that we are all directed to take that blessed volume, as our best, our only sure and safe guide through the obscurity of this mortal sojourn, to the regions of light ineffable, and' bliss eternal. We realize, that the truths contained in this word of life, are all important to the knowledge, the virtue, and the happiness of mankind. We most earnestly desire its universal diffusion, and that it may be read in all languages; communicating its most needed and salutary information to every human understanding, and its sanctifying influence to every heart."
This same faith and fervent religious spirit has found Masonic expression in some form during all the years since the day of this historic record, and I verily believe finds today as large a place in the hearts and souls of our Craftsmen as in the days of our forefathers.
How futile and powerless have been the attacks of time and enemies—how steady has been the march of Masonic progress.' But how great are the changes that have taken place in the material world during the last century. It was just a hundred years ago that the first steamship crossed the ocean. Think of the then lack of transportation facilities, of the delays in news transmission. It is only a little over a hundred years since Washington passed away, and yet it took two weeks for the news of his death to reach Boston. Look about us on every side and we see unnumbered things that we regard as absolute necessities of life today that simply were not known or even dreamed of a century ago. But may we not well ask ourselves upon this anniversary occasion if in moral and spiritual attainment the world at large has kept pace with the advance in so-called material knowledge and power? Is there relatively more real and abiding happiness on earth today then when this Lodge came into being? It is becoming more and more apparent to thinking men and women that the craving and intense striving for material wealth and gain and worldly power has only resulted in shattered hopes and fleeting joys — that the world's feverish and never-ceasing pursuit of happiness has been in ways that are devious, vain, and profitless. The terrible tragedy of war, with its trail of anguish and sorrow and its shocking toll of human lives, has brought home to us all a quickened sense of how utterly futile and worse than worthless are such means for securing peace or the righteous determination of differences between men or nations.
The poor sinner tries in vain to break his shackles in a world where evil seems an eternal reality and good to have no transcendent power. Encompassing doubts and fears attest a lack of faith and trust in God, sometimes even on the part of those who profess to be His servants and followers. In social, political, and industrial life there is a constant struggle and unrest—a lack of confidence and cooperation. These are some of the confronting conditions of the present day. Out of the ashes of the conflagration of war, of disappointed hopes, of defeated ambition, there comes a despairing cry for help.
Masonry faces the sublimest opportunity to prove and justify itself that it has ever known. The destiny not only of our Order, but of a world, and the happiness of mankind are in large measure within our keeping. Age ceases to be venerable and virtuous if in these most perilous and crucial hours it fails to inspire infinitely larger, higher, nobler, and grander resolve and a more consecrated and selfless service.
For a hundred years Bethesda Lodge has proudly and worthily born aloft the banner of Freemasonry. Today, rich in the heritage of a splendid past, surrounded by and clothed with unparalleled opportunities and responsibilities, it goes forward to greater and more glorious achievements, making brighter the pages of its history. Righteousness shall be given added impulse, brotherly love a larger possession and a finer, truer, and better expression in the hearts and lives of men, and in word and deed God shall be glorified.
AT THE DEDICATION OF THE TASKER MONUMENT IN HAVERHILL, NOVEMBER 1919
From Proceedings, Page 1919-312:
We have come here today to dedicate according to ancient Masonic form and usage, so far as the chill of season will permit, a beautiful monument prompted in love and erected in grateful and sacred memory of one who was an earnest, devoted, and loyal member of our Institution. This lasting memorial has been erected for the benefit of the Freemasons of Haverhill and vicinity, who, passing through the veil, shall have the sweet fragrance of their Masonic lives perpetuated and made the more enduring.
How grandly impressive such a noble gift from one not privileged to be a member of our Order, but who nevertheless shared with her life companion the joy of his membership and contributed in no small way to the inspiration of his Masonic service.
Brother W. Orin Tasker
William Orin Tasker was born in Strafford, New Hampshire, March 18, 1843, and died at Haverhill on March 12, 1919. He was educated in the public schools of Northwood, New Hampshire, and later in the Grammar School in Lowell. He learned both the shoemaker's and carpenter's trade in his early life. He had the advantage of all the intellectual, moral, and spiritual stimulus so characteristic of a New England home three-quarters of a century ago. Passionately fond of music, he became a talented musician himself and took up the teaching of music as a profession. Later he acquired and carried on in this city a music store which enjoyed a large patronage. This store was carried on by him until 1890, when he retired from active business. He was a member and active worker in the Baptist Church, and always took great interest in City affairs, serving on the Board of Aldermen of Haverhill in 1892 and 1893 and on the School Board in 1908.
He did not become a member of the Masonic Fraternity until he was sixty-nine years of age, when he was Initiated in Merrimack Lodge on April 3, 1912, Passed May 1, 1912, and Raised May 29,1912. Soon after he became a member of Pentucket Royal Arch Chapter, Haverhill Council of Royal and Select Masters, Haverhill Commandery, Knights Templars, and took the degrees in all the Scottish Rite bodies up to and including the 32d degree.
"Whate'er in life was given him to do,
Was done with all his might;
And looking back, we see no evil way,
But always firm support of truth and right."
On January 30, 1873, he married Augusta Edgerly, daughter of Daniel S. and Abigail Edgerly of Northwood, New Hampshire, who survives him, and who has presented to the Masons of this city the magnificent monument which we have just dedicated.
How could a more eloquent tribute be paid to the Masonic fraternity than has been paid today through this gift of this quiet, unassuming, gentle Christian woman who for forty-six years shared with our Brother life's joys and sorrows; who knew the very desires of his heart, and knowing made them her own? May she feel the tender touch of that world of sympathetic interest, that tender solicitude, that wealth of gratitude that goes out to her from the eighty thousand Masons in Massachusetts, and may it bring some added ray of consolation, of comfort, and of joy.
The compelling personality, the rugged honesty, the sweet and simple nature of Brother Tasker endeared him to his Masonic Brethren and gave living expression to the teachings of our Order. The value of such a life cannot be weighed in words.
The longer on this earth we live
and weigh the various qualities of men,
The more we feel the high stem-featured beauty
of plain devotedness to duty;
Steadfast still, nor paid with mortal praise,
but finding ample recompense
In work done squarely, and unwasted days."
At such a time as this the teachings of our Fraternity come back to us with renewed force. God, immortality, comradeship ; these we strive to keep before the eyes and in the minds of the Brethren, comforting and uplifting, and bringing to us a clearer realization that in God we live and move and have our being.
May these simple ceremonies of today strengthen us in pure and noble resolve, and the better qualify us to give added emphasis to those eternal truths which are the centre and circumference of our historic fellowship.
I know not what the future hath
Of marvel or surprise,
Assured alone that life and death
His mercy underlies.
"And so beside the Silent Sea
I wait the muffled oar;
No harm from Him can come to me
On ocean or on shore.
"I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.
FEAST OF ST. JOHN, DECEMBER 1928
From Proceedings, Page 1928-483:
Most Worshipful Grand Master and Brethren:
I stand before you at this time as Exhibit C of the Grand Master's wax works, model 1916-1919. It was very cleverly conceived, on the part of the Grand Master, in view of his donning the royal robes today, in view of his basking here in the glad acclaim of his Brethren, in the presence of his official family, and in the presence of those who hope to feed at the official crib, to make more prominent if you please his own glory and high estate by dragging out from the dusty archives those who have been relegated to oblivion, or at least to a state of innocuous desuetude.
Possessed of a certain amount of modesty, I did not feel that I could speak of any "high lights" in my own administration, and so I went to Most Worshipful Brother Johnson and I said to him, "Tell me what in your judgment was the one outstanding event during the three years of my administration of the affairs of the Grand Lodge," and he very promptly replied, "Your appointment of me as your representative to go on a trip to Panama and the Canal Zone at the expense of the Grand Lodge." (Laughter.)
I then turned to Most Worshipful Brother Prince, and I said, "What in my administration, in your judgment, was the high light, the most prominent and the outstanding and most important event of all?" He promptly replied, "Your appointment of me as Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts." (Laughter.)
You can see, under such circumstances, what a painful possession is my own modesty.
I am not going to take my allotted time, because Brother Prince has asked me to give him some of it because he says, speaking of "high lights," that there were many events during his term of office that were "lit up." (Laughter.)
You remember that he went in as Grand Master as the "friend of the farmer," posing himself as a farmer, pretending that be was going to secure for them higher prices for their vegetables and farm products. He does not know the difference between a pumpkin and a squash. Finally President Coolidge heard of his claims as a farmer. Knowing somewhat of earlier Past Grand Masters of Massachusetts and their remarkable ability, he asked him to write a farm relief bill which he might present to Congress. This called for immediate show-down. Most Worshipful Brother Prince found a very ready excuse to hie himself to China. You have noted the sad condition of that country ever since he visited there.
But it would be immodest, and it seems to me almost inappropriate to attempt to tell you of any of the results, or to try to portray in words any of the experiences of those years from 1916 to 1919, which covered, as the Grand Master has said, the period of the Great War, when 80,000 members of the craft in Massachusetts, (5,000 of them in the naval and military service of their country), were called upon to translate into living expression the tenets and the principles and the teachings of our institution. "By their fruits ye shall know them."
Those were days when the Brethren of Massachusetts did not spend in words that which should be spent in action. "Men came closer to their true selves under the chastening shadows of sorrow and loss." Out of the service, the sacrifice, the sorrows, and the losses of those days, I am sure i here has come a finer, truer expression, and a greater emphasis has been given to the true principles of our Institution. Out of the treasured memories of those crucial days, rejoicing in the prosperity of today, happy in the comradeship and companionship of this hour, may I express, Most Worshipful Grand Master, the earnest and sincere hope that your administration may be happier and more fruitful than any of those that have gone before.
- 12/12/1917 Isthmian, Paraiso, Canal Zone
- 03/13/1918 Baalis Sanford, Brockton
- 03/13/1918 Darien, Balboa, Canal Zone
- 06/12/1918 Universal, Orleans
- 09/11/1918 Seaview, Revere
- 09/10/1919 Fidelity, Melrose
- 09/10/1919 Sibert, Gatun, Canal Zone