BENJAMIN F. ARRINGTON 1856-1927
From Proceedings, Page 1927-293:
Right Worshipful Benjamin F. Arrington, Deputy Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, died at his home on Sunday,, December 4th, 1927, after a short illness, and was buried on Tuesday, December 6th, the Grand Lodge conducting the Masonic Burial Service at the request of the family of our deceased Brother.
Brother Arrington had been with us on several occasions conducted by the Grand Lodge in the period immediately preceding his last illness. He attended at the Dedication of the Masonic Temple at Quincy on Monday, November 21st, and was in excellent spirits and apparently in good health. On Friday, November 25th, he attended at a Fraternal visit to Konohassett Lodge of Cohasset on the occasion of the presentation of Veteran's Medals to two of our elder Brethren. This seemed to be an especially enjoyable event to him. To several, he spoke of his happiness in his Masonic associations and particularly of the delight which he experienced on such occasions as that one was. He suffered an attack of pneumonia the following day and succumbed after an illness of eight days.
Brother Arrington was Entered in Mount Carmel Lodge December 12, 1887, Passed January 9, 1888, and Raised February 18, 1888. He was Worshipful Master of Mount Carmel Lodge in 1896 and 1897. In 1900 he became Secretary of Mount Carmel Lodge and held this office until 1906. He was active in the formation of Damascus Lodge, laying down the Secretaryship of Mount Carmel Lodge that he might devote himself to the new Lodge. He was its Worshipful Master under Dispensation, and its first Master under Charter, serving in 1906 and 1907. October 16, 1907 he took the Secretaryship of Damascus Lodge and held it until his death.
He was a iife-long newspaper man. Beginning in 1878 as a reporter on the Lynn Reporter, he served later on the Lynn Bee and on Boston papers. His rise in the profession was rapid, and he became General Manager of the Salem News in 1880. In 1884 he went to Springfield as General Manager of the Springfield Republican, but very soon returned to the Salem News as Editor-in-Chief. He held this position until his retirement in 1920.
It is difficult to appraise in a brief space the character of our beloved Brother or the contribution which he made to the world and to the lives of others. His seemed to those who knew him best a life of complete success and achievement. Generous in thought as well as in deed, kindly in all his associations, loving and lovable, he was a friend to all and all who knew him were his friends. His was one of those rare spirits which brighten the lives of all those with whom they come in contact. His life was an example which served as an inspiration to many, especially to younger men, to higher purposes and to nobler aims. To many who came into intimate acquaintance with him he seemed to typify the ideals and the tenets of our Fraternity to which he was sincerely devoted and which he served with unswerving fidelity and affection for nearly forty years.
To those of us who were privileged to know him intimately,, mingled with our sorrow for the loss we have suffered at the parting for a while, there is a sense of gratitude for all he meant to us, for the inspiration of his life and his example, for his assistance, his counsel, and his guidance, for his cheerful and loving disposition which often made smooth what seemed difficult and trying situations, for his genuineness and his sincerity.
He was fine in his manliness, lovable in his home, loyal in his friendships, and useful in his citizenship. His strength of character and of conviction was exercised with gentleness and patience. A man of unfailing courtesy and tact, he was quickly responsive in his sympathy and understanding of the views of others. Withal he was a man and a Mason for whose life the world is richer, and whose memory is a cherished possession and a challenge to higher achievement.
From Proceedings, Page 1928-59:
R.W. Benjamin F. Arrington was born in Leominster, Mass., JuIy 6, 1856. When he was three years oid his family removed to Lynn, which was henceforth his home except for a very brief residence in Springfield. After leaving school he learned the printing trade in the office of the Lynn Reporter. In 1878 he became a reporter on that paper and in 1880 was appointed General Manager of the Salem News. In 1884 he went to Springfield as General Manager for the Springfield Republican, but thirteen months later he returned to his home in Lynn and became Editor-in-Chief of the News, there to remain until his retirement from active business in 1920.
Although not a college man, Brother Arrington had the scholar's temperament and a highly cultivated mind, trained by travel and study as well as by his editorial work. He did special writing for publications other than his paper, edited a history of Essex County, and did a considerable amount of translating from the French.
Brother Arrington became a Freemason at the age of thirty-one, when his mind had become matured but not hardened by the experience of his busy years as a newspaper man. IIe quickly appreciated the power and beauty of Masonic teaching and thereafter it had a large and influential place in his life and thought. Although a member of other Masonic bodies his work and interest centered in the Lodge and to it he gave the best that was in him. He was Entered in Mount Carmel Lodge December 12, 1887, Passed January 9, 1888, and Raised February 18, 1888. Passing through the chairs in Mount Carmel Lodge, he served it as Worshipful Master in 1896 and 1897. In 1900 he accepted the office of Secretary and held it until 1906. In that year he became one of the leaders in the founding of Damascus Lodge and resigned his secretaryship that he might devote himself to the new Lodge. He was Worshipful Master under Dispensation and for the first year under Charter, passing in 1907 from the East to the Secretary's desk. Here he served continuously until his death.
His official service was of the very highest type. As a Master he was wise, able, and far-seeing, exemplifying in his character and in his work the qualities which fill and adorn the Oriental Chair. He was indeed a pillar of Wisdom in his Lodge. As a Secretary he was a model of all that a competent Secretary should be careful and extraordinarily accurate in the clerical part of his duties, he was a strong support and a wise counsellor to every Master with whom he served. Fortunate indeed is the Master who has a man like him at the Secretary's desk.
Brother Arrington's Masonic attainments and great service to the Craft received deserved recognition in his appointment as Deputy Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts in December 1926. He discharged the duties of his high office with credit to himself and honor to the Fraternity. On occasion he presided in the East of the Grand Lodge with ease and dignity. He rendered the Craft great service by preparing the first draft of the greater part of the Manual for Instructors on which the work of our Lodges of Instruction is based. It was source of inexpressible grief to his associates in the official family that he did not live quite to complete his year of office. He took great pleasure in accompanying the Grand Master and his officers not only at formal Grand Lodge functions but also the more informal visits, such as Veteran's Medal presentations and the like. On these occasions he gave more pleasure than he received. Always genial, always kindly, always appreciative, he possessed that rare and admirable combination, keenness of insight into the deepest and finest things and a rich, quiet sense of humor. Only the night before the onset of his fatal illness he accompanied the Grand Master on a visit to present Veteran's Medals and showed and expressed his great enjoyment of the occasion and its happy fellowship. This was on November 25th. The next day came an attack of pneumonia, and on December 4th he passed. to the celestial Lodge.
At the request of his widow he was buried with Masonic rites which were conducted by the Grand Lodge. The funeral was held in the Second Congregational (Unitarian) Church, of Lynn, of which he had been for many years a member and member of the Board of Trustees. The church service was conducted by his friend and recent pastor, Most Worshipful and Reverend Dudley H. Ferrell.
Mrs. Arrington survives him; there were no children. So closed a very useful and beautiful life. It was a life full of good deeds, enriched by many friendships. It was a privilege to know him. He was one of those who shed life and light and joy along the paths they tread. To his associates he was a tower of strength. To young men, often without his own knowledge of the fact, he was an inspiration and a guide. Bishop Brooks once said that the best service a man could render the world was to be his own best self. This was Bro. Arrington's service. He did not do great things, as the world judges one's doings, things which are voiced abroad by the trump of fame. He just lived a great life, and who can estimate the service of it? As one of his associates on the staff of the newspaper said of him the day after his death, "He was a real man, with real ability, and a real friend to all who knew him.
AT A CORNER STONE LAYING FOR PLYMOUTH LODGE, OCTOBER 1927
From Proceedings, Page 1927-255:
Brethren of Plymouth Lodge: We account it a happy coincidence that on this particular occasion the invitation to lay a corner-stone with time-honored rites came from the Lodge in the oldest settlement in New England to the oldest Grand Jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere, The beginning of your laudable undertaking - the erection of a Temple and a Lodge home—has been signalized with ancient forms. In due course of time it will be your privilege - the Temple completed — to join in the glad rites of dedication.
You are to be felicitated, both in your relation as an honorable Institution and individually in that of Speculative Craftsmen, upon so agreeable and so stimulating a prospect: agreeable, because of greater promise of Masonic achievement along lines which are distinguishing the Fraternity with whose benificient purposes we are all cordially allied. Stimulating, in the opportunities to continue, as heretofore, the exposition of the moralities to which Ancient Craft Masonry is committed and in seeking to convince mankind of its inherent goodness. These will spell reaffirmation of principles which form its passport to general esteem and the justification of Its labors.
The question is again being asked, by those outside the fold, not so much through cynicism as from honest desire to acquire light, "What are those principles and what are the requirements to which they point as the rule and guide to action?" The offhand answer, you will readily bear me out, is at one and the same time easy or difficult. It will be easy if we address ourselves concretely to out standing fundamentals. Difficult, or perhaps involved, if the attempt be made to treat its interrelations with no restraint in respect of details. The former plan may therefore suffice if we project into view the more important fundamentals, elementary as these may appear to the generality of the Craft.
Let us then declare anew to thorn interested that Freemasonry, as the preamble to our Grand Constitutions sets forth, is a benevolent, charitable, educational and religious society, the attendant secrecy confining itself, by the way. only to minor factors. While it teaches monotheism, worship of God ever being a part of its ceremonial, it is by no means theological. Relief of the poor and distressed Brethren, and caring for their widows and orphans, are among the duties exemplified in its organized activities, in precisely the same manner that the maintenance of Masonic Homes and schools in conjunction with care of the unfortunate and their dependents, attest to the measure of its sympathies. Its charity is the more embracing in that no portion of its financial receipts is diverted to the monetary advantage of any individual removed beyond material want. Its educational role is in keeping with its worship and advocacies as these are inculcated in a comprehensive system of morality not extravagantly classed as perfect; while in its social and civic illations it seeks as well the happiness of mankind as the mental and moral development of its neophytes.
This list is not to be considered as inclusive, but rather suggestive. Add to it. however, the practice of the cardinal virtues, the inculcation of respect for law, order, and duly-constituted authority, a broadly tolerant attitude towards the opinions of others, purity of life and rectitude of conduct, promotion of the general good of society, as well us continual dedication to that tenet is natural religion familiarly expressed as the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood Of Man, and the outside world is free to pass upon some of the outstanding principles that are inseparably associated with Masonic practice and teaching.
The Temple duly to be reared upon this site will hold that double relation which characterizes every edifice throughout the country that today stands dedicated to Masonic objects and professions. On the one hand, its material aspects will enlist the attention, in varying degrees, of those elements in the population numbered among the uninitiated. To the true Mason, mindful of virtue which have crystallized in dispensations for good of country and of humanity, the symbolism of the structure will assuredly yield its rich store. While the completed Temple will vivify those verities which enrich our professions, may it also provide a stimulus whereby symbolism and allegory shall bring into clearer perspective the important truths they are designed to teach. The fact will then appear that movements however unobtrusive, however marked by Silence in their operation, are yet conducing to benign influences quite beyond the circle of their immediate exercise. That influences of this import flow inevitably from the domain of Freemasonry, to contribute to community welfare, and promote many a desirable cause, is a hope safely to be indulged in estimating spiritual and moral values.
Meanwhile hearty good wishes will go forth to Plymouth Lodge and its membership in the work that lies before it— a work of which the prospective Temple will stand forth as the befitting embodiment. You have on honorable part to play, my Brethren. The fame of your community is indeed world wide. It was not only here that the torch of civil and religious liberty was lighted, but it was also here that the beginnings were laid for the most impressive demonstration of a free Democracy which the world has ever witnessed. In such a setting, and amid such an environment, Plymouth Lodge cannot but respond to the full measure of its opportunities,
My Friends and Visitors: In the public ceremony of which you have been witnesses, the hope is expressed that to the uninformed among you a pardonable interest has in some degree been gratified. The personal concern or the individual curiosity thus manifested by onlookers is always in evidence on an occasion like the present one. May I therefore be granted a few words bearing upon a point which comes well within the scope of an explanation such as today's ceremonials might from your viewpoint make acceptable.
It is not infrequently the case that back of public curi osity may be found a questioning which takes substantially this form: "Why is it that Masons alone are privileged to lay corner-stones with their own rites? Why should not other fraternal or secret societies enjoy equal entrance into this field?" In the answer to be made briefly and hurriedly two things call for special emphasis. First, there is nothing in mind either to disparage these other societies or in any way to reflect upon their respective activities. Indeed, many of these fraternal bodies number Masons among their members. Second, no attempt will be made to magnify the province of our Fraternity In the rites specifically mentioned above, Plain regard for plain presentation of facts will alone be the animating purpose. As a matter, therefore, of fact, there is nothing to prevent any particular Organisation or body of men from officiating at ceremonies connected with the layiiitr of corner-stones (There their personal and private concerns, let the point be borne in mind, are paramount. Forms may be devised and such features introduced as to their authors may appear expedient. The fact, however, that ceremonies answering to this type arc but little known, or so infrequently that exceptions only go to prove the general rule of nonperformance, is not without its significant commentary.
I pass on to the explanation of a seeming anomaly. Masonry us an operative institution existed for centuries. In body, though not in precise forms, and yet in spirit, it made no slight contributions to the history of its time. Its impress, through various gradations, was left upon now-departed civilizations. It ennobled architecture and enriched countries and peoples with cathedrals, monuments, and temples, some of which yet survive, to arouse the admiration of beholders.
In the evolution of the centuries the operative character of the ancient guilds of organized bodies of Old Worldartificers began to decline. At last disintegration set in and they began to disappear. The slice ling stage was MSOC&ted "itli what is known today as Speculative Ma- I y, now diffused thrnuirhout tin- civilized world. The institution luis i n beautifully defined by one of tie most eminent of Masonic authorities as "A system of Morality veiled in Allegory end illustrated by Symbols." You will thus perceive, my friends, that in the rites just exemplified the Association known as "Ancient Free and Accepted Masons" stands wholly apart as the one distinctive body which thus strikingly links the present with the past. These ancient forms and usages, with their attendant allegories, have an undoubted historical as well as a traditional background. So far as the symbolical features are concerned, they are to be accepted no less for what they illustrate than for what they confirm.
A ceremonial thus established upon grounds which would negative any charges of affectation or presumption is abundantly justified, and by unprejudiced minds is freely accorded its priority as of right and privilege. It is for these reasons, again to observe, that the Masonic Fraternity obviously functions as an inheritor, so to speak, in filling roles which if undertaken by others would be wholly devoid of the significant identifications thus brought to your notice.
In concluding, my friends, with an expression of appreciation for your attention, I trust that a situation sought to be set forth in all modesty and fairness may have been the means of contributing to a clearer understanding on your part of comparisons and relationships in the domain here illustrated.
To the officers and members of Plymouth Lodge we renew every fraternal salutation, with the added hope that proverbial peace, harmony, and brotherly affection may continue to crown their devoted labors.
Biography from 25th Anniversary History of Benjamin F. Arrington Lodge