CENTENNIAL ADDRESS BEFORE KING SOLOMON'S LODGE, SEPTEMBER 1883
Notes located at the foot of pages in the Proceedings have been inserted, indented, in the text following the footnote markers.
From Proceedings, Page 1883-82, delivered by Deputy Grand Master Edwin Wright:
WORSHIPFUL MASTER AND BRETHREN OF KING SOLOMON'S LODGE,— MOST WORSHIPFUL GRAND MASTER,— ILLUSTRIOUS AND WORSHIPFUL BRETHREN, —
The facts, the lessons, the morals of a hundred years of Masonic life in King Solomon's Lodge I am to picture to you in a single hour. All its wonderful and unique grouping of achievement and purpose is to be set in orderly perspective in this six-by-ten canvas.
Something, therefore, I must request of you, — to free the mind from all the littlenesses of place and person that obscure its present horizon, and rise to be inspired judges of the events we shall consider; for
"No revelation of the 'historic' word
Will render all the spirit saw and heard."
"And if these live again, 'tis you must give
The reflex thrill to them by which they live."
". . . I but tune the instrument;
The glory, or the gladness, or the grace,
Must shine for me reorient in your face;
The seeds that in my humble words take root
In you must bud, and flower, and bring forth fruit."
Pass away in thought and judgment from this place and this time and live again in September, 1783.
Charlestown is a place of but limited population. From the best evidence I can gather, in all its original territory, including Somerville and other outlying districts, it' contains not more than one thousand inhabitants, and two hundred houses, and probably two hundred suffrage-bearing citizens. The "peninsula" has probably not over one hundred houses, and one hundred citizens.
Note: Charlestown, including all the original territory, — Somerville, Stoneham, Woburn (which was Charlestown village), and parts of Cambridge, — had, by the census of 1765, two thousand and thirty-one inhabitants; in 1776, after the fire, three hundred and sixty inhabitants; by the census of 1790, one thousand five hundred and eighty-three inhabitants, viz., two hundred and thirty-eight families, three hundred and ninety-five males over sixteen, three hundred and fifty-four males under sixteen, eight hundred and nine females, and twenty-five other persons. In 1785, according to Dr. Bartlett, the peninsula proper had only one hundred and fifty-one buildings and five hundred and fifty people. "Without the neck" there were one hundred and twenty-eight buildings and four hundred and forty-nine inhabitants; making a total of two hundred and seventy-nine buildings and nine, hundred and ninety-nine people.
Boston, the capital city, has but a little more than twenty thousand inhabitants and four thousand houses.
The memorable struggle of seven years by the American Colonies to gain a civil independence is concluded; the weapons of war are exchanged for the implements of commerce, industrial handicraft, and peaceful husbandry; the anxious and wrinkled face of struggle has given way to the placid countenance of peace; the tense and fiery eye to the glance of serenity and love.
The seal of blood that in 1775 had been set upon the adjacent hills as the covenant of fidelity unto death, and the prophecy of energy unto victory, by the winter frost and the summer dew is transfigured into the cups and crowns of flowers; and the gentle sheep and familiar kine fatten upon the pastures made rich and green by the patriot's sacrifice.
The streets of Charlestown, burned to ashes in the earlier strife, are again builded with the comfortable abodes of domestic peace, the busy shops of the artisan, the marts of nimble trade, the schools of patient study, and the church of reverent worship.
The people circulate again in all the ways of the new town. Victory has flushed them with new hope; peace left them free for greater enterprise; independence inspired them to the construction of new institutions, not only of civil and commercial life, but for social friendship and the culture of the humanities.
The certainty of established peace had come with the preliminary Treaty of Paris, Nov. 30, 1782. Less than nine months have passed, and eight men of Charlestown (on August 20, 1783) are in conference about a new Masonic Lodge, to be called King Solomon's, and observe now the romantic interest of this beginning in the men, the time, the prayer.
1st. The men were the most valorous and potential of the town, leaders of the hundred; they had performed deeds of heroism in the battles of the Revolution; they had suffered loss of home, friends, business; they had contributed to the achievement of the national independence their full share in all sacrifice, in all exposure, in all constructive thought. They were Freemasons, four of them associates of the now venerable Lodge of St. Andrew. They were men of promise and of performance, of courage and of prudence, of faith and of hope, and to-day their fame has gone
"Wide as the wings of sleep by night are spread."
They were good men.
2d. The time. On the 3d of September, 1783, at Versailles, the American Commissioners, Adams, Franklin, Jay, and Laurens, with Oswald on the part of the British, had. signed the definitive treaty of peace, and the thirteen Colonies of America became "Free, Sovereign; and Independent States. There was indeed no wire to telephone the mighty news to the men of Charlestown, but earth through all her rocky bosom felt the throb, and manhood here, as everywhere, began the march of nobler liberty and privilege.
It was a good time.
3d. In their modest prayer they flatter themselves that, though their number be small, the Grand Lodge will not "object to their request from that principle, when they see the rapid population of the town from desolation and ashes." And then thus beautifully do they voice their aspiration: —
"With the blessings of Peace, we wish to enjoy the happiness of Society, — and feeling ourselves more intimately connected than by transient acquaintance, or the common ties of friendship, we are aiming to promote the Institution by which we are united, and by which we hope to erect a Fabrick, planned in Wisdom, supported by Strength, and adorned with Masonic Beauty."
It was a good prayer.
And now we come to that conjunction of events, which is one of the peculiar felicities of this Lodge, —that has no parallel in the long past, and can have no rival in the long future.
- Sept. 3d. Peace is signed, .and the sturdy colonies enter the sisterhood of nations.
- Sept. 4th. These eight men of Charlestown resolve to ask for a Masonic Charter.
- Sept. 5th. The request is made by written and oral petition, the Charter granted and sealed,'bearing the immortal names of John Warren, Grand Master, Joseph Webb, Past Grand Master, Paul Revere, Senior Grand Warden.
And thus, on the nones of this September, is enacted the twin birth, —- of the new nation, and the new Lodge. May they keep equal step in their grander and humbler ministries of good, till, in the evolution of the ages, man shall need government and want love no more.
We need not stop to consider the question whether the system of New England and American town-government had, as has been claimed, in Charlestown its first modal example, and that thence citizen governments have been made the rule in every municipality throughout our broad land, — enough for us here and to-day that Josiah Bartlett, Benjamin Frothingham, Eliphalet Newell, Edward Goodwin, David Goodwin, Joseph Cordis, Caleb Swan, and William Calder, were the.eight men who thought out, promoted, constituted the first Lodge, in this town first, in this District first, in this vicinage of Boston first, King Solomon's Lodge, — and. excepting the First Parish Church, the oldest Society in Charlestown; a society whose existence has been continuous and. honorable; whose records are unbroken and full of interest;. whose works of patriotism and benevolence have enlightened the Commonwealth, and blessed full many a sorrowing heart; a society that guarded its charter, the muniment of its power, with greater vigilance as the spies of ignorance and malice hunted for it, and that kept its lofty, equanimity of spirit and duty in finer poise as the storm of persecution beat against it; — that has been the example and mother of other noble Lodges, among whom she is proud to remember Faith, Henry Price, and John Abbot Lodges, grown to be rivals of her virtues and lovers of her fame.
Let us have a few further words about these eight men.
JOSIAH BARTLETT was a man, easily "the first among his equals"; — liberal by culture, affluent in counsel, indefatigable in action, prolific in study, wise in economy, royally endowed with all aristocratic accomplishments, yet ever in search for all democratic usefulnesses.
Physician, surgeon, — in army, navy, and civil life, — patriot, orator, statesman, town-officer, public-spirited citizen ; — Worshipful Master of King Solomon's Lodge by the free and unanimous choice of his associates in 1783, and by election of his Lodge in 1784, 1787, 1793, and 1808; Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1786, 1788, 1791, and 1792; Deputy Grand Master in 1793, and Most Wor. Grand Master in 1797, 1798, and again in 1809.
To-day by liberal hands and loving hearts brought back to dwell forever within these sacred walls, and to look from out the faithful canvas, again your patron, inspirer, friend.
ELIPHALET NEWELL was the first Senior Warden of the Lodge, and served in this office by successive elections in the years 1783, 1784, 1785, and 1786; declined in 1787; was inveigled into service in 1788; refused in 1789, and was unanimously reelected in 1794 and 1795.
That he was a prompt and dutiful officer there can be no doubt, for twice did his Brethren vote him hearty thanks forhis past services for the good of Masonry in general, and this Lodge in particular.
He was the hosteler of the town, at whose Hall for more than twenty years the Masons met; at whose house the town officers assembled for the public business, and for private refreshment; — a man of striking peculiarities, whose like we seldom see, but, having seen^ his memory abides forever green and mirthful as. at the first. He was one of those who made the Revolutionary Tea in Boston Harbor. Methinks you could hardly turn a stone of this old town but some rollicking word of this ancient publican would bubble into laughter. He was a good man, and in his way and manner a great man, though he was not
" Strait-waistcoated in stony pieties."
The first Junior Warden was BENJAMIN FROTHINGHAM, whose zeal, energy, and skilful command in the war of the Revolution had gained the affections of his fellow-soldiers, and won the applause of the great Commander-in-Chief. He was a cabinet-maker, and after the war rebuilt his house and shop, in which for a quarter of a century he lived and wrought, enjoying the full respect and confidence of all who knew him.
His name has been a word of love and honor in this enterprising town and city always, not only by the virtues of private life and the integrities of public trusts, but for the genius that could nobly, tell the story of municipal growth and paint the varied incidents of a siege.
JOSEPH CORDIS, the princely merchant, was the second Master, and Major WILLIAM CALDER, the popular mechanic and military engineer, was the third.
The remaining three of the original eight, EDWARD GOODWIN, DAVID GOODWIN, and CALEB SWAN, served at different times, as Wardens of the Lodge. One was a carriage-maker, one a housewright, and the other a merchant. They were all prominent in the affairs of town, State, and church. David Goodwin was a man whose conscience was as true to righteousness as is the needle to the pole, and whose heart could say, —
"There is no lack of angel-carriers,
When mortals post to God their fervent.prayers."
Such were the times, and such the men, that were the encircling influences at the birth of King Solomon's Lodge,
". . . which are the great live seeds
That will be striving to take shape in deeds."
The successive events that have taken place in the long history of this Lodge have been carefully collated by that studious antiquarian and loving Mason, our Worshipful Brother George P. Kettell, and you have wisely committed them to print in connection with your By-Laws. I know of no Lodge that has so complete, compact, and perfect a digest of the events of its history. Bro. Kettell's work is both scholarly and beautiful.
These Masonic annals you will not expect me to repeat.
They have left manifest, however, certain dominant currents or drifts of your associated life, to which I ask your attention, because they are, in the main, what you have been, and have therefore made, and because they are, at the same time, what is forever making and remaking you, — they reveal the character of this Lodge as differing from other Lodges; they show its personality.
And the first of these currents is the passion of the Lodge for literary culture and enjoyment.
The magnitude of this is a novel thing, in Masonic history, — most excellent, most beneficent, always freighting a double blessing, to him who provides and gives, and to him who listens and receives.
The source of this peculiar feature of your history is plain.
Josiah Bartlett, your first Master, and for nearly forty years an influential counsellor in your Lodge, was a man of remarkable gifts in this direction; not, as I judge, by any means a philosopher, or even a man of sharp and critical science, but with a gift to popularize the current thought of his day, and set in pleasant, practical phrase, the living principles of every activity with which he was associated. This he loved to do by written and by spoken addresses, that were always welcome, and always commendable for their dignity, their wisdom, and their usefulness.
While he was yet active in Masonic labors there entered your Lodge another Brother, kindred in these same tastes, and in the love of their public manifestation. I allude to Worshipful Brother Thomas Hooper, whose influence continued in the Lodge for more than sixty years, during the first twenty of which he was co-laborer with Bartlett.
His loving and discriminating biographies of your eight charter members are gems of memorial history, and you have honored them with a permanent place in your printed archives. Specimens of his thoughtful, wise, and ornate addresses also form part of your valuable records, thence to tell to members of this Lodge, yet unborn, and to all Masons, what in Lodge you did, and what you proposed to do, how broad your thought, how liberal your love.
Another Worshipful Master, whose sympathies and labors swelled the same great current, was OLIVER HOLDEN, — not only an orator of the Lodge, hut its musician, composing the songs and conducting the singers; in every place the artist. His eloquent and instructive words transported the Brethren with joy, and stimulated them to Brotherly Love and Friendship. The rhythm of his sacred harmonies has voiced for the Christian heart its. loftiest faiths and its grandest triumphs.
As long as Lodge, or Church, or Conventicle, bondman or freeman, laborer or college scientist, shall sing the hymn,—
"All hail the power of Jesus' name,
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the.royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all,"—
Oliver Holden's "Coronation" shall be the victor song.
But we must resist the temptation to study further the personal sources of this peculiar life, and turn at once to recorded fact.
- 1783. The Lodge was established,— it was with literary addresses.
- 1784. John Warren, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge,, delivered before them "a concise history of Masonry from the creation to the present period."
- 1785. An oration was pronounced by Rev. Samuel Stillman suitable to the memory of St. John the Baptist.
- 1786. An oration was given by Brother Bartlett on the dedication of a new hall, with after-dinner; speeches by the Grand Master, Joseph Webb, and by other luminaries,
- 1788. A learned and eloquent sermon was preached before the Lodge, and the Grand Lodge as its guests, by the Rev. Samuel Parker; and at the dinner which followed, Moses Michael Hays, Grand Master, Benjamin Lincoln, Lieutenant Governor, Rev. John Eliot, the Rev. Messrs. Montague and Rowland, and Mr. Thomas Harris, Representative, entered the lists for the tournament of oratory, and made the after-day brilliant with wit and wisdom.
- 1793. A grand address was given on the "Origin, Progress, and Design of Masonry."
- 1794. An eloquent address was delivered by the Grand Master upon the installation of the new Master of a Lodge in the distant province of Maine.
In the same year a most beautiful and touching letter was received from the Rev. Dr. Thaddeus M. Harris, resigning his membership and the chaplaincy of the Lodge.
I cannot," says he, "quit this sacred retreat of social virtue, the happy asylum of friendship, love, and peace, without the most sensible regret." He then proceeds to take leave of each of the officers of the Lodge, from the Wor. Master in order, with that felicitous blending of reminiscence and appeal, of advice and affection, which could be addressed only to refined and cultured souls.
Of the meetings with his Brethren, and the instructions of the Master, he declares, "they have blessed me with the light of wisdom, supported me with the strength of reason, .and may they adorn me with the beauty of virtue"; and in closing says, "My attachment to the cause of Masonry is well known; it is daily strengthening; everything I can do to serve the Lodge, or to increase its respectability and prosperity, or to advance the common cause, I cheerfully offer and shall readily perform."
Celebrations of the Feast of St. John the Baptist were frequent, and always in the society of distinguished guests, and with elaborate literary, philosophic,-and poetical viands.
Dist. Dep. Grand Masters, at their annual visitations to this Lodge, were accustomed, as the records assure us to make "eloquent, affectionate, and instructive" addresses upon "the moral principles of this ancient and benevolent Institution," or "portraying and forcibly recommending the practice of its virtuous and moral principles."
These were no light and vapid efforts, such as in later days too often pall upon the Masonic ear, but serious, studied, splendid productions.
The Deputy for 1854, well known to many of us here to-day, discoursed elaborately upon the first Grand Lodge at Jerusalem; the Governor's House; the platform prepared by Hiram, now desecrated by a Mussulman mosque; described a visit to Judea, where John the Baptist was beheaded, and to the Isle of Patmos, once the residence of St. John the Evangelist; and closed with a eulogium upon Freemasonry, as an institution of good-manners, beloved by men of order; as a school of discipline and progress, full of facts and knowledge older than written history; as the first university wherein were taught the liberal arts and sciences; and as a liberal seminary reaching out for grand and sublimest truths.
In 1801 a committee was appointed to consider the propriety of having a moral lecture delivered before the Lodge by a member thereof, either monthly or quarterly, and Brethren were selected from time to time for this duty.
The letters of the old members withdrawing from the Lodge, by dimit or otherwise, were full of earnest thoughts about Masonic duty and Masonic privilege.
Worshipful Masters, upon leaving the chair, spake to the Brethren in studied orations, full of profound thoughts, and bright with rhetorical beauties. That of Wor. Bro. Ezra Stone, in 1823, covers fourteen folio pages of your records, and is a glowing argument upon the unities which underlie all government, and Masonic life as well.
The eloquent close of his address is as pertinent to us of '83 as to the Brethren of '23.
"Every stage we advance in civilization, each step of departure . . . from a state of barbarism, ignorance, and subjugation, imposes upon us and our contemporaries increased obligations . . . to preserve, multiply, and perpetuate, by the exercise and exertion of all our talents, the arts, principles, and virtues essential to the happiness of present and future generations."
Sedulously thus has King Solomon's Lodge developed and cultivated one of the very primal institutes of our ancient Craft.
In the early days of Masonry its absorbing duties were instructions in the mysteries of all handicraft, and in the graces of all spirit life, by the facts of art and science, and by the laws and principles of morals. And the results were, on the one hand, a Body of reliable, manly men, whose deep insights and profound abilities have helped to reconstruct the culture of the world; and, on the other, a Body of Craftsmen whose genius in architecture, engineering, and decoration has crowned them as the great original builders of the world.
In this old Lodge, too, as we have seen, every kind of culture has been essayed,.—by sermons from the Reverend Doctors of moral ethics; by essays from the students of human history; by lectures from the disciples of technical science; by addresses on practical virtues and practical mechanics by those reputed for piety of life and skill in industries; and thus, in the hearts.of these later Brethren, did the old "Love, Relief, and Truth" find a new resting-place.
Primitive Masonry was thus born again, and has kept her century of good works, still
"Making all futures fruits of all the past."
Why, my friends, we are told that even the licentious and dissolute poems of the reign of Henry IV had a beneficial influence upon the authors of that higher literature which succeeded; was even its possibility, if not success.
"The dramatist or poet;" says the writer, "could more freely give the rein to imagination, and infuse more real spirit and verve into his subject when thus untrammelled"; and out of this freedom "the talent and genius so fully developed under the regency of Anne of Austria, and in the first years of the reign of Louis XIV, the 'Grand Monarque,' gradually budded and expanded."
How much more, how much more happily and potently, must such culture and counsel.as have been promoted in this Lodge affect, and guide, and mould, and command the character and influence of its members, then, now, hereafter!
Never, with reasonable care, can the thrill of eminent life which began with Bartlett and his Compeers, cease to pulse in the Masonic hearts of King Solomon's
"In hidden ways they.aid this life of ours,
As sunshine lends a linger to the flowers."
A second feature in the history of this Lodge has been its large and catholic hospitality.
Scarcely in the olden days did the Brethren of the Lodge assemble for sacred labor except the closing hour was crowned with welcome cheer around the social board.
Masons from other Lodges brought congratulations and covenants of promise, and returned with hearts content and happy, or, in the words of the Secretary, with "unfeigned satisfaction" for the "innocent festivity"
The selectmen and officers of the town honored the banquets with their municipal dignity and consequence.
Evidently the Grand Masters and officers of the Grand Lodge had a live affection for the things of King Solomon's. They came often; they came in numbers; they came early, — at eleven in the morning; they came loaded with wit and wisdom, mirth and moral, song and sense. They stayed late, till the resplendent bars of golden light were flung across the evening sky; and then, with mirth and wit all expended, and wisdom all told, they were escorted in procession to the "ferry." Alone they crossed, the quiet waters of the Charles, with the "blue above and the blue below." On its thither shore they spake farewells, and, with only God and the stars as witnesses, separated to their several homes and to the varied duties of thoughtful citizenship; "unfeignedly satisfied at the innocent festivity."
With broad hospitality and munificent friendship did this old Lodge through many years celebrate also the Masonic feast-days, the birthday of Washington, the installation of Masters, and the anniversaries of eminent and deceased Brothers.
Beautiful was the cheer of these festive occasions, in the brave strength of present life, in the prophecy of a richly expanding State and Lodge, in the sweet memories of-fraternal friendships, in the remembrance of noble men, risen after victory triumphant to the Lodge above; and what wonder if now and then, when the enthusiasm of *the hour was full, the Master should call to fill again to the brothers dead and gone; and, standing amid the living Brethren as he held the brimming glass aloft, should cry in apostrophe: "To you, the dead and dear!"
"And ere the shouts cease ringing in our ears.
We drink a health, all standing, drink to you;
While in our eyes the tears are standing too, —
Old tears, that wanted to be wept for years."
At length the fraternal compulsions of their former guests, in token of gratitude and in requital of their generosity, called them year after year to celebrate the feasts in foreign Lodges,.
- With the Masons of Portsmouth, in 1846
- With Morning Star Lodge, of Worcester, in 1847
- With Star in the East Lodge, of New Bedford, in 1848
- With St. Mark's Lodge, of Newburyport, in 1849
- With Middlesex Lodge, of Framingham, in 1850
- With the Masons of Salem, in 1851
- With the Masons of Framingham, in 1854
- With the Lodges of Portsmouth, in 1855
- With the Lodges of Springfield, in 1856
- With the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, in 1857
Akin to this hospitality, I ask your attention to a third great feature in the history of this Lodge, — the disposition to do good, by the ministries of sympathetic love, fraternal counsel, and pecuniary relief.
I know that all Masons are bound to be good and to do good; but relief here is beyond the obligation, both in the fact and in the law of its doing.
Wor. Bro. Kettell, who has compiled with greatest care the history and statistics of the Lodge, testifies what you can easily verify, that "at nearly every meeting of the Lodge during the first eighty years of its existence one or more petitions for relief have been received." A large number of these calls have been answered, he says, from the funds of the Lodge; many of them b,y the voluntary subscriptions of members.
"Worthy petitioners have ever found the hand of charity open and extended to relieve the sick and distressed. The calls for assistance from our own members have been comparatively few."
During the last twenty years each Sabbath morning, as it has poured its light upon these quiet streets, has seen the Charity Committee of this Lodge dispensing physical and spiritual comforts, bread and sympathy, to the bereaved, the destitute, the lonely. And on every annual Thanksgiving the incense of Masonic love has gone up from as many tables as there have been fatherless households upon the catalogue of this old Lodge. This Lodge merits from the Fraternity great honor for the abundant fruitage of this goodly disposition, that has forestalled the gloom of misery in so many directions, and over so wide an area of country. Her charities have not stopped with the poor Mason, his widow and orphans, but have lifted the stranger from the entanglements of unexpected misfortune.
John Konkapot, one of the chief men of the Six Nations, went back to his warriors rejoicing by the gifts of the Lodge. And Mons. Étinore Stanislaus Auber, of the French frigate "Marsellaise," captured by the English, carried with him to his native France, and to his silent grave, a heart full of deepest gratitude for his timely relief.
In this hand-to-hand ministry of love she has therefore not only given cheer to the hearts and homes of Charlestown, but has lighted up. the thick shades of our primeval forests, and added a lustre to the gay life of French salons.
Solicitations for charitable help for educational, patriotic, eleemosynary, and special relief organizations have been received from Kentucky, North Carolina, California, Virginia, Louisiana, Kansas, and other States, and munificently responded to.
"Not the waste drops of the cup overflowing,
Not the faint sparks of the hearth ever glowing,
Not a pale bud from the June roses blowing,"
"Given as the morning that flows out of heaven,
Given as the waves when the channel is risen,
Given as the free air and sunshine are given,—
Lavishly, utterly, joyfully given." </blockquote>
But the crowning honor of the Lodge in this regard lies in the enactment of a rule to elect, at each annual election of officers, a committee of three, "to aid, counsel, encourage, and protect the widow and fatherless children of Masons, and more especially on their first becoming such; . . . and, as far as may be in the power of said committee, to recommend suitable administrators to intestate, estates, humane and faithful guardians to minors, and procure suitable and fit places for such minors as have no guardians; that they may all be brought up to "some useful and respectable business, and likewise be instructed and educated in the best manner their circumstances will admit, and have inculcated upon them the principles and practice of humanity, virtue and religion."
I know not how it may seem to others, but to me whose profession has made me somewhat acquainted with the bitter experiences and trials of these people, this resolution is worthy to be written in letters of gold, and hung in every Lodge-room in the Commonwealth as a Scripture of Masonic duty; — not to be done by the distant agency of a committee alone, but by every true and loving Mason, at first hand, wherever and whoever the widow or the child may be.
And be assured, Brethren, that the work thus suggested is the most important and hopeful that falls to human hands to execute, or human hearts to conceive.
It protects the aged and the young from ravishment and plunder; it surrounds them with tender care, wise guidance, illuminated friendship. More than all, it stays up the heart, inspires courage, and fills the bosom with the saving influence of Hope, telling them in the charming words of the poet who had felt as bitter a woe as man may feel, to
"Hope on! Hope ever! though to-day be dark,
The sweet sun-burst will smile on thee to-morrow;
Though thou art lonely, there's an eye will mark
Thy loneliness, and guerdon all thy sorrow;
Though thou must toil 'mong cold and sordid men,
With none to echo back thy thoughts, or love thee,
Cheer up, poor heart, thou dost not beat in vain,
For God is over all,, and Heaven above thee.
Hope on! Hope ever!"
Another peculiar feature of this history is the remembering regard of its friends towards it, evinced in the memorial gifts of love which have beautified its whole career, — gifts of working usefulness, gifts of simple beauty, gifts of sacred reminiscence, gifts of thankful regard.
A stranger may not know or find all of them, but a long and splendid catalogue I have gathered of fifty-seven donors, and covering all the years of the century.
The jewels worn by the Master and Wardens were presents from the first officers — are a hundred years old, and, by their hallowed associations of service and memory, are a priceless treasure.
- In 1783,
- Josiah Bartlett, a Wor. Master's Jewel.
- Eliphalet Newell, a Senior Warden's Jewel.
- Benj. Frothingham, a Junior Warden's Jewel.
- In 1784,
- William Greene, an elegant Bible.
- John Rand and John Cade, a ballot-box.
- Wm. Drommett, an elegant Silver Square and Compasses.
- Abner Ramsdell, a silver punch-ladle.
- In 1786,
- Lemuel Cox, beautiful work on the arch and pillars. .
- Joseph Cordis and Wm. Calder, lumber and painting for arch and pillars.
- In 1787
- John Soley, Jr., an elegant set of brass candlesticks.
- Benj. Hurd, Jr., a very ancient chair, used at all the installations of Wor. Masters.
Samuel Swan, Jr., a cushion for the chair.
- In 1798,
- Thos. O. Larkin, a costly Bible.
- Wm. Lewis, a pair of elegant decanters.
- In 1800, Bro. Raymond, an "Urn" and Statue, the "Genius of Masonry."
- In 1802, Oliver Holden, a beautiful ivory mallet.
- In 1805, Melzar Holmes, Preston's Illustrations of Masonry.
- In 1806, A. R. Tufts, one dozen aprons.
- In 1818; St. Andrew's Lodge, an altar.
- In 1820, Jos. W. Newell, a Jewel for the Marshal.
- In 1825, Ezra Stone, two lamps.
- In 1841, Hugh H. Tuttle, a rich and beautiful copy of a colored representation of King Solomon's Lodge.
- In 1842,
- John D. Hammett, decorations of altar.
- J. A. D. Worcester, ornamentation of the Lodge fixtures.
- In 1843, J. A. D. Worcester, Mallet made from a piece of the shaft of the original Monument, — Handle from Frigate Constitution.
- In 1844, Thomas O'Brien, a ballot-box, and an imitation book of By-Laws and Constitution for the Master's pedestal.
- In 1845, Benj. Gleason, the Master's Carpet, in frame.
- In 1850, Noah Butts and Francis Stowell, Gavel from the old rail fence in part, and in part from the Frigate Constitution, (with a bullet in one end, and a button in the other.
- In 1855,
- Richard Follens, a Masonic chart.
- Caleb S. Crowninshield, an elaborately carved and gilded "G."
- In 1857,
- Abram E. Cutter, a beautifully framed engraving of the new Masonic Hall in Philadelphia.
- Wm. W. Wheildon and F. W. Moore, valuable relics of Masonic interest.
- In 1858, H. G. Waldron and N. Shattuck, decoration of altar.
- In 1859, G. Wash. Warren, a model of the original monument.
- In 1860, Wm. Darton, a set of rosewood working-tools.'
- In 1862, W m . H. Pierce and Daniel W. Shaw, a set of working-tools from the cedar wood of the original monument.
- In 1864, Henry Moore, a Jewel for the Organist.
- In 1866,
- Geo. W. Abbott, a very ingenious and convenient ballot-box.
- E. P. Tourtellott and James Smith, Deacons' rods.
- John E. Marden and Wm. Dennis, Stewards' rods.
- Thomas Hooper, an elegant 24-in gauge.
- E. S. Coombs, an elegantly bound Grand Lodge Constitution.
- In 1868, Gideon Haynes and Henry Price Lodge, a beautiful altar and pedestal.
- In 1870, John K. Hall, Hall's Masonic Prayers.
- In 1873, Lodge of St. Andrew, of Boston, a copy of Chas. W. Moore's Half-Century Membership in St. Andrew's Lodge.
- In 1877, G. Washington Warren, a History of the Bunker Hill Monument Association.
- In 1882, Edw. P . Tourtellott, an elegant trestle-board.
- In 1883, Chas. E. Stephenson, a low-twelve bell.
An ancient chair was presented to the Lodge in 1787, by Benj. Hurd, Jr., and the Masters of King Solomon's Lodge can no more be installed without being seated in this chair, than the kings of England can be crowned without sitting on or over the old scone stone, sacredly preserved in Westminster Abbey.
King Solomon's Lodge, teaches us another lesson in the wise Masonic economy with which she has administered all her affairs; in her exact financial methods; her fees for degrees, membership, and visitation, discreetly graduated to her necessities; her delinquents promptly and fraternally admonished; her accounts settled for many years at the close of each Communication, and therefore no dangerous entails of debt, and the esprit of her members preserved; her moneys at interest; in the comfort and elegance of her apartments and furnishings, till, instead of Trumbull's parlors and Newell's tavern, these spacious, beautiful, and commodious rooms, above and around us, are her home, where every convenience and luxury have been provided, and where to pass a meditative hour is itself a joy and blessed culture.
Generous and liberal considerations have governed all her intercourse with Sister Lodges, with Grand Lodge, with each humblest Mason, and with the world profane without her borders.
She has created and commanded respect from all who were neighbors to her, because her officers have been able, wise, good men, interested and efficient in the affairs of common life.
She has gained the love and confidence of the poor and needy, as in all her public celebrations they have been remembered by collections and donations for their comfort.
Her domestic habits have been eminently conservative and prudent. As early as 1786 it was voted, "to admit no visitor to a seat at the table until he shall take the Entered Apprentice's obligation in open Lodge." There was no room for spurious Masons.
In 1785 they voted unanimously that there should be three months' delay between the conferring of the consecutive degrees, and that there should be no advancement except after satisfactory examination; and this rule they observed in all cases, unless for special reasons dispensed with "by a vote of two-thirds of the members present, — thus making it evident that their absorbing desire was men and Masons, more than money or many.
Again, a peculiar glory of this Lodge has been its wisdom in the enunciation of Masonic law and policy. I select three examples, giving their views respecting Masonic celebrations, the formation of new lodges, and the authority of the Grand Lodge. They are interesting, first, as the expressions of a subordinate Lodge, and, second, in the radical strength of the law they announce, in the light of modern experience and statutes.
In 1804 they say: "Masonic celebrations in public have a tendency to diminish the dignity and importance of the Institution in the minds of society, unless they are performed with expressive ceremonies, and attended by officers of the highest grade, and Brethren of the first respectability of the Masonic Order."
On several occasions King Solomon's Lodge refused its assent to the establishment of new Lodges, and this is the law that governed the decision : "Lodges ought not to be granted with a view to the gratification of a few individuals, however respectable, unless the necessity of the case should require, and the usefulness of the Institution be extended by the measure, because the dignity and importance of the Institution in the eyes of the world is lessened in proportion as it becomes common."
The modern history of some branches of Masonry is an illuminated commentary upon the truth and wisdom of this rule.
The times and stirring, events amid which we are to-day living give piquancy to the other law adopted by these judicious men, — their ancient reply to those who would question the right or authority of the Grand Lodge in any conservative legislation : -—
"Voted, That, in the opinion of this Lodge, the Grand Lodge have a constitutional right to adopt such regulations as in their wisdom may be thought essential for the advancement of the dignity of the Institution and the good of the Craft, without a particular reference to the Lodges under its jurisdiction."
It is enough. Our Brethren here may pride themselves upon the intelligent and wisely conservative principles which have been the light and guide of their associated life, and which, by maintaining, above remonstrance or veto, the right and prerogative of the grand executive power of the Craft, have perpetuated the peace and enhanced the strength of ancient Freemasonry.
There are many things for which tO-day King Solomon's Lodge is entitled to receive our congratulations and our thanks. They have been a hundred years in growth and action; in the hundred years to come they will "lengthen their cords and strengthen their stakes"; new men, new institutions, new laws, new faiths, new aspirations, shall be their allies to a more magnificent and pervasive greatness; but time is short, and I can only commend them to your private study.
On the crown of yonder neighboring hill, once James Russell's pasture, stands a lofty granite obelisk, hallowed by the eloquence of Webster and the presence of Lafayette; memorable in later years by the reunited loves of South Carolina and Massachusetts; sunk below the ramparts which Putnam raised and Warren defended, and whose sunny summit overlooks the wide territory desecrated by British aggression in the initial hours of the Revolution.
It stands there, for the nation a memorial monument of her great victorious defeat, that inspired the courage, inflamed the hope, and settled the resolve of thirteen independent colonies for Freedom and Independence, — for the State, of its heroic citizens who fell, patriots and martyrs, for her glory and her success,— for the town of Charlestown, of fire-swept streets, of ruined households, of citizen-blood mingled with the soil of that memorial area, now grown to honor mid the homes of Liberty, — a monument also, forever, of the noble patriotism of King Solomon's Lodge, to whom is due the first monumental offering of the war, and the first column of love and honor to Masonic heroes.
Need I stay to recall to my Brethren here the exact dimensions and style of that first monument, erected in 1794, and dedicated to the memory of Gen. Joseph Warren and his brave compatriots, slain there on June 17, 1775; or to repeat the now immortal words of Warren carved upon its golden urn? Need I stay to tell the vigilant care and protection given it by this old Lodge for thirty years? Shall I dare to suggest its wicked destruction by undiscovered vandal hands, remembering that when the statues of Hermes were mutilated in the night at Athens, the city was struck with horror?
Need I stay to recall the correspondence by which all rights of monument and of land were made over to the Bunker Hill Monument Association; or the covenants that it should be replaced by a grander shaft, commending a larger love, and insuring a more durable existence?
For twenty long years the promise of the Monument Association delayed fulfilment, and not until the 24th of June, 1845, did there come to this old Lodge the day of her recompense. Then was her labor turned to rest, her care to peace, her fears to joys.
On this her festal day there assembled the Grand Lodges of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, the Past Grand Master of Pennsylvania, the Grand Chapters and the Grand Encampments of various States, the Lodges of the Commonwealth, and a great concourse of citizens.
A hundred banners floated their gay symbols upon the sunny breeze; bands of instrumental music poured out the march of glory and the hymn of praise; eloquent orators eulogized her worthy deeds; reverend clergy invoked upon her members the blessings of Almighty God.
At high twelve, amid the shouts of human voices and the peal of orchestra, the great granite column opened its capacious and enduring heart and received into sacred and perpetual keeping, from this same King Solomon's Lodge, an exact model of the original monument and its inscriptions. There it stands, and forever shall stand, in the eternal safety of that stony shrine, in its most secret chamber, gem of the sanctum sanctorum, fronting the door of entrance, at the post of honor, the post of observation, the post of history.
The pyramids of Egypt may hold the embalmed remains of kings and queens; Westminster show the chapels of English kings and the tombs of poets and orators;- the crypt of the Pantheon the coffins of Voltaire and Mirabeau; the Church of the Invalides the ashes of Napoleon the Great. But our simple Bunker Hill shaft holds the treasure of a triple memory: the immortal Warren, patriot, scholar, Mason, — the American man; the loyal heroes of 1775, Liberty's martyrs, — the American soldier; the noble deeds and nobler men of King Solomon's Lodge, both the dead and the living,—the American Mason; and as long as its granite finger shall point to heaven shall it declare the early thought, the devoted love, the pure patriotism, the liberal sacrifice, the unblemished honor, and the untiring fidelity, of the Masons of re-arisen Charlestown.
And now, my Brothers of King Solomon's Lodge, these swiftly passing moments are the closing up of a hundred years of your associated life as Free and Accepted Masons; they bring to you most varied and wonderful legacies, of touching sympathies, of sorrowful bereavements, of healing loves, of generous hopes, of high resolve, of heroic effort; lessons of illuminated wisdom, pleadings to greater fidelities, incentives to broader humanities.
This Lodge, founded by your fathers in days of. poverty, trouble, and inexperience, has achieved honor, permanence, power. It comes to your guidance in days Of ease, peace, and glittering seductions. Solemn obligations rest upon you! Serious determinations await you! The future of this good old Lodge is in your hands, — what shall it be? Masonry, your Masonry, what shall it be? It is the same question. Will you follow the severe, safe, and wisely restrained example of the fathers, or will you launch out upon the wild and tossing current that has caught the age? For remember, excellency of organization and beauty of heritage do not insure living graces, do not establish successes, do not prophesy the victories of wisdom. These are the fruitages of a continuous loyal and true discipleship.
From the myths of ancient times Masonry has descended to us through a path fragrant with goodness and radiant with beauty, doing, on this hand and on that, useful works with strength, and building the interests of men, and States, and pure religion, by her stern and single-eyed wisdom.
The opportunities of influence and culture under her banner, the capacity to satisfy the great and dominant yearnings of human nature,— the needs of loving and of suffering, of believing and of doing,— surpass those of any other human cult.
No society that does not contain something to satisfy these needs has ever been, or can ever be, universal in the area of its influence, or in the time of its continuance.
To our Masonry are conceded these historical conditions: all times, all peoples.
Here, also, are the social and philosophical elements: Amenities, Morals, Truths; natural, simple, fundamental.
If her accredited members be but allegiant to her law and to her organization; if they make these great elements of her catholicity to be felt in the soul, lived in the life, to be the law of friendship, of commerce, and of government; then no society shall be more potent than Masonry to develop manhood, to ameliorate human misfortune, to promote social progress, or to edify souls for the world that is to come.
The great past into which we are entered commands us not to look with encouragement, or even complacency, upon man, sect, Lodge, or organism, of whatever kind, that does not stand loyal and obedient to the magnificent legacies which have been intrusted to us by the fathers.
Be not. deceived. Rebellion and treason clothe themselves, indeed, in the garments of innocence and truth, and make the prayers of virtue at the altar of God. But the real blood that stains their garments shall be purified only with fire that burns to ashes. Christ forevermore drives out of the Temple, with a whip of cords, all the money-changers, and the sellers of cloves and lambs.
We are Masons, fragments of the universal Craft; what we are, it is; what we shall be, it will be.
Let me, therefore, urge upon you this personal truth, that the life that Masonry is to you is painted in your daily conduct, woven iii your business methods, sculptured in your social amenities, transfigured in your fraternal honor; is black, if your word is false and your faith fickle; is golden, if your word is true and your engagements sacred.
Masonry is ancillary to the great business of manhood. The Lodge is the armory where each one can prepare himself to do better all the duties which society, friendship, the State, the church, man, and life, press upon him; the salon where we gain those juster measures of character which enable us to unite more confidently in the greater enterprises of the common weal; where the holiness of social converse is secured; where the guerdon of an honest protection is the shield of private and family character.
Brethren, I do not presume to feel that we are alone to-day. It is not all, methinks, that from that canvas look the dull eyes of Bartlett, but all these rustling airs are living with the spirits of the sainted dead; — members of the Celestial Lodge for many years or but few days, they thrill with the memories and the interests of this hour. They bring a richer, judgment than ours. Will you hear the concord of their heavenly voices?
Will you take to your sacred life the counsel that they give? They bid us, let the word of a Mason be as sure and reliable as the judgment of a court; let his purity be as unsullied as the light; his faith steadfast as the mighty hills; his love pure as the incense of the flowers.
Follow the fathers in the courage and enterprise to enter upon and propagate all good works; avoid servility; practise loyalty; be generous in charity; and, by meeting together, fill out more roundly the great duties of humanity.
. . . " till all the sum of ended life,
. . . all that total of a soul,
Which is the things it did, the thoughts it had,
The self it wove,
Grow pure and sinless."
One hundred years are ended; 1,001 communications have been held for Masonic purposes; 44 Brethren have presided as Worshipful Masters; 825 have been initiated into the sacred art; 182 are at present members. Most of the others have "ceased to act, or even think; their vital energies are extinct, and all their powers of life have ceased their operation."
In this vast company of the departed there is none of us but had a friend or acquaintance. We have felt for them all the tenderness of love; we have had deep respect for their ability, or their faith, or their friendly excellences; and when the pulse was still, and the eye lacked lustre, we have wept like men, and the heart still nurses the rejoicing sorrow.
But our Masonic faith fills the falling tear with the radiant hues of heaven, and mantles the dead with immortality; the newly gone, as those of long ago, — the young and ruddy ROWE, full of an ambitious future; the reverend WORCESTER, ripe in years and rich in virtue; the enterprising WARREN, himself at last to judgment gone; KETTELL, whose studies interlace with everything we do or say to-day; CUNNINGHAM, the successful machinist; SMITH, the commander; NORTON, the young and enthusiastic politician, and CROWNINGSHIELD, whose nine decades were full too short.
"Why should they fear the grave? It is the way
The Conqueror went, and made the very dust
Grow starry with the sparkle of his splendor.
"Let us uplift the eyelids of the mind,
And see the living Love who dwelt awhile
In that frail body, now a spirit of light,
All jubilant upon the hills of God.
This gloom we feel, this mourning that we wear,
Is but the shadow of his lordlier height.
"Why should they weep who have another friend
In death; another thread to guide them through
Life's maze; another tie to draw them home;
A firmer foothold in the infinite;
Another kinsman on the spiritual side;
Another voice to greet them through the void;
Another face to kindle with its life
The pale impersonality of God?
"Let us put on the robe of readiness;
The golden trumpet will be sounded soon
That bids us to the gathering in the heavens.
Let us pass on to their great height of life
Who have ceased to pant for breath, and won their rest,
And there is no more panting, no more pain."
King Solomon's Lodge