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  • MM 1797, Franklin #6, Hanover, NH
  • Member of Harmony Lodge from 1797
  • WM 1802 Harris Lodge
  • Member of Social Lodge from 1822
  • DDGM, District No. 6, in 1806-1808, 1814-1816
  • Grand Chaplain, 1805-07, 1809, 1817, 1825


From Proceedings, Page 1873-210:

REV. EZEKIEL LYSANDER BASCOM, GERRY. (CHANGED TO PHILLIPSTON IN 1814.) Congregationdlist. 1805, 1806, 1807, 1809, 1817, 1825.

EZEKIEL LYSANDER BASCOM, A.M., the son of Moses and Eunice (Corse) Bascom, was born at Gill, Ms., Aug. 20, 1779, and died at Ashby, Ma., April 2, 1841, aged 61. He studied divinity with the Rev. Judah Nash, of Montague, Ma., and the Rev. Joel Foster, D.C., 1777, at New Salem, Ma.; was ordained pastor of the Cong. Church at Phillipston, Ms., Sept. 24, 1800; dismissed Dec. 31, 1820; installed pastor of the Cong. Church at Ashby, Jan. 3, 1821; dismissed in Sept., 1834; after this preached as an Unitarian at Savannah, Geo. He married, 1, the daughter of the Rev. Joel Foster, his divinity teacher; 2, Ruth (Henshaw) Miles, daughter of Col. William Henshaw, and relict of Dr. Asa Miles, D.C., 1787, at Leicester, Ms., in April, 1806.
— Alumni of Dartmouth College.

Besides serving as Chaplain he was District D.G. Master of District No. 6, in 1806, 1807, 1808, 1814, 1815 and 1816.

The subjoined letter from him to Grand Master Thomas has not been published until now : —

GERRY, 29 May, A.L. 5809.


At a meeting of committees from Social, Aurora, and Harris Lodges on Wednesday last, it was unanimously agreed to celebrate the approaching Festival at Westminster, on the 26th of June. It is expected that five Lodges will unite in the celebration. As we are anxious to do honor to the Craft, and calculate to exceed anything ever yet exhibited in the County of Worcester, we are earnestly desirous of having the Honor of the Grand Master with us. The committees present saw fit to show me so much respect as to appoint me to communicate with you on the subject. Knowing your devotion to the good of Masonry, we presume that, unless your engagements to the Grand Lodge, or some other insurmountable objections intervene to prevent, you will be good enough to honor us by your attendance.

In addition to this request, which we make with due respect, we have one more, and we beg your pardon while we make it, that you will still farther gratify us by coming prepared to make a short address to us, your children, on the occasion. This would add dignity and interest to the day. We apply to Rev. Bro. Thompson for a sermon on that day. And if the Grand Master and so respectable a Deputy will honor us by their attendance, and gratify us by their public voice, we feel assured of the applause of the world, and of that zest of pleasure which every rational Mason seeks at such a time.

I beg, Sir, you will be obliging enough tp make me an immediate answer, as some important arrangements must be left undone till I hear from you. I know you will excuse the freedom with which I write, while I subscribe,




JUNE 24, A. L. 5817.

At a Meeting of King Solomon's R. A. Chapter, at Leicester, June 24, A. L. 5817.

Voted, to return the thanks of the Chapter to Rev. Companion E. L. Bascom, for his Address, this day delivered before them, and request a copy for the press.

The following Companions were chosen a Committee for this purpose, viz.

  • M. E. JOHN WILDER, and

And presented the vote Sec. of the Chapter to the Rev. Companion Bascom.

Leicester, June 24, A. L. 5817.


With diffidence I submit to your disposal the Address this day delivered. It was prepared in great haste, and rather collated than composed. The friends of Masonry will require no apology: Its enemies will admit none.

I am, with great respect your friend and Companion.


Men meet together in the scale of nature, in the field of utility, and in the scheme of redemption. But in the school of education, and in the circle of converse, they are far from meeting. The distance between the rich and the poor, which the customs and habits of civil society have made, the pride of the higher class has endeavored to render extensive as possible. It has employed every method in its power to widen the space between them. It has attempted to repel every step of approach, on the part of the poor, by the haughtiness of superiority, and the brow of contumely. Between the high and the low, in the order and intercourse of human life, there may indeed be said to be "a great gulf fixed," so that the latter can scarcely pass to the former, for a few moments of respectful conference. Even the favor of a transient and momentary meeting with those, who stand in exalted situations, is with difficulty obtained by him, whose station is humble. The summits of human society, like the tops of steep and lofty rocks, not only refuse a residence, but even a visit, to the humble inhabitants of the vale below. "A man's gift shall make room for him, and bring him before the great." Their presence is considered as something sacred, which it is almost profanation for poverty to enter. It is rendered inaccessible to the foot that would ascend it from the humble walks of life, and, like the golden apples of fable, guarded by the drag; pns of insolence and pride.

Since this is but too true a picture of the modern state of the world, it is happy for man, happy for society, that communities exist, in which benevolence, charity, and brotherly affection, are professedly distinguishing features. Such is the Church of Christ, whose pure and heavenly principles reduce to one common level, before the Throne of God, the rich and the poor, the bond and the free. Such the Masonic institution, whose sublime and exalted privileges; are attainable by all good men and true; no more the prince from his royal palace, than the peasant from his thatched cottage.

1 hope to give no offence, when I say, that both these institutions, the one spiritual, the other temporal, have for their object the happiness of man, considered as a social, immortal being. Do you ask for a comparison between the two? I make none. That which is heavenly and divine, must not be brought in competition with the highest wisdom of man. — And such is the Gospel of the Blessed Jesus. — But do you ask me, how the life of the real Christian and the genuine Mason agree? Without hesitation I answer — that none can be a Mason at heart, without being a Christian in practice; that none can be a Christian at heart, without being a Mason in practice, As a system of practice, Masonry is pure, I had almost said perfect. But as a system of faith, us a Christian, I shew you a more excellent wav. And. with the divine poet, l would say of this,

"Should all the forma, that men devine,
Assault my faith with treacherous art,
I'd call them vanity and lies,
And bind the Gospel to my heart."

Wc confess, with sorrow, that our good name has been traduced, and the excellent maxims of the Masonic institution abused by some, who have been initiated into the misteries of the order. — While to the jaundiced eye of prejudice, this may tarnish the lustre of oar jewels, the man of a candid and liberal wind will examine, before he passes sentence, whether these irregularities proceed from the nature of our principles, or the depravity of the human heart. He will see that no human society is pure ; that the win at and the tares grow together till the harvest, and will then form his judgment, not from the character of the impious and vile, who have dishonored our Fraternity, but from the life of the great and the good. who in every age, have been proud to enrol their names on the list of the members of our ancient fraternity.

Let not the enemy of Masonry start, when he hears me advance from this holy place, where he is accustomed to hear truth and righteousness alone proclaimed, that, piety to God, and love to man, are the two grand and immoveable pillars, which support our fabric.

When we contemplate mankind, as the offspring of one common Parent, as originating from that perfect fountain of being, whose, wisdom shines with superior radiance through all his works, when we view man, formed for great intellectual improvements, and for the highest advancements in virtue and happiness, we wonder not at the universal thirst for knowledge, winch appears in the human mind, nor at the many systems, that arc established, and schemes, that are devised to enlarge the sum of human felicity. We rather wonder, that any should remain content in a state of ignorance, without that food of the mind, on which it has its most liberal feasts, its most innocent pastimes.

But the introduction of moral evil has not only shut up the avenues of immediate intercourse, between the great Father of his family, and his degenerate children, but, by its continual influence, it has wrought various disorders on the human frame. It has clouded the mind with the glooms of darkness, and disturbed the natural order of the passions.

Were it not for reasons like these, we might very naturally imagine, that the active mind would rove with ever fresh delight, through the, wide expanded fields of knowledge, and, in unremitted progress, he able to explore the vast and complicated works of JEHOVAH.

Observing the beauty, the order, and the uniform design, visible in the constitution and government of all systems, we should infer consummate wisdom and perfection in the great Architect. We should argue the equity and benevolence of that government, which He might exercise over us ; learn our obligations to reverence and love Him, and be animated in the pursuit of all those personal and social virtues, which adorn the human character.

But such is not the present state of man; and to recover him from the darkness of a depraved condition, and from the wretchedness of a vitiated taste, means are appointed for the exercise of the faculties, and the improvement of the virtues of men, that they may make gradual advancements, in the most useful knowledge, and the most sublime science.

Hence the formation of society; hence the origin of civilization; hence our progress through the various degrees of knowledge, from babes to perfect men.

The passion for association is deeply rooted m man. It seems to be the instinctive impulse of his nature. Its principles are traced in glowing characters on his heart, by the finger of God Himself.

Of all associations of human establishment, Masonry, the earliest offspring of society, has been the most powerful in ameliorating the condition of man. by softening his heart, smoothing his passions, and wearing down the rough points in his character.

Fidelity, compassion, and charity, and the virtues, which endear us to each other, add to the sum of rational felicity, and throw some sunny tints on the sombre picture of human life.

Masons, well versed in the history and science of their order, will not expect me to throw new light upon the subject. Argument has long since arisen to demonstration in proving its usefulness — eloquence has been exhausted in portraying its beauties.

We date the birth of Masonic principles from the hour when time began ; when the morning stars sang together, and ail the sons of God shouted for joy. If tradition tell true, the secrets of our institution were partially discovered before the deluge. But not until the building of the Temple of the Jews, did Masonry assume its twofold character of speculative and operative.

By this change, so important to the society and to the world, its principles became more diffusive, its charities wider spread. Nobles and Kings became members and patrons of the institution. Not that Lodges could derive any additional respectability from the admission of Nobles and Kings. It is known to Masons, and others have been told, that the Lodge is the temple of equality. All meet there on a level. All are there respected according to their intrinsic merit. There humble poverty never cowers before wealth. The splendid "Star and Garter" of the nobleman, are deposited at the door of the Lodge. The "lambskin" covers the robe of Royalty. The gems of the crown vie not there with the lustre of the Masonic Jewel. The sceptre of the King is laid aside at the sound of the Master's gavel.

I am not insensible that almost every kind of evil has been said to take its rise from our secret chambers. The charge is made, in the first instance, by weak and prejudiced minds ; and then, no doubt, believed by many honest and timid hearts. We shall not deny that infidelity, and almost every evil work, has been propagated far and wide under the garb of Masonry. How many wolves have crept into the fold of Christ in sheep's clothing? How many hypocrites now wear the snowy mantle of religion? As the excellency of religion makes the vile, hypocrites, that they may appear good; so the sublime principles of the craft have been prostituted to the basest of purposes, for the same end.

One who is justly and lawfully entitled to the name of Free and accepted Mason, honors his God, and is governed by the laws cf kindness and charity. He can never be an Atheist, or an irreligious libertine. He can never act against the light of conscience. He will also shun the errors of bigotry and superstition; making a due use of his reason, according to that liberty wherewith a Mason is made free. Though in ancient times, Masons were charged to comply with the religious opinions and usages of the country or nation where they sojourned or worked; yet it is now thought most expedient that, the brethren in general should only be charged to adhere to the essentials or first principles of religion, in which all men agree ; leaving each brother to his own judgment, as to particular forms. Whence being good men and true, of unsullied honor and unfailing honesty, the order becomes the centre of union, the earthly source, of comfort, and the means of conciliating true friendship.

Many are the virtues, which belong to the system of Masonry, without which, men cannot be Masons, though they may bear the name. Of these, fidelity and charity are of the highest estimation. Our secrets have descended from age to age, from generation to generation, and have forever remained undiscovered. All nations, and tongues, and religions, have been possessed of them, and yet among this vast body, none have been found so destitute of principle, and void of virtue, as to betray their sacred trust. In our own days, the horrid inquisition of Spain have used every means, and tried every torture, which their infernal scrutiny could invent, to extort the secrets of the craft from their unfortunate victims, but without success. Mean and dastardly have been the means employed by bigotry on superstitious minds, in our own vicinity ; but the base intriguer, whose heart must have been darker than the garb he wore, has received little in return, but the contempt of those who have been made acquainted with his foul deceit. Weak and frail brethren, in the hours of intoxication, when they had lost their sense of decency as men, and dignity as Masons, and while they would readily communicate any other secrets, with little reserve, have stoped short when inquiries were made on this interesting subject, and, as though the very thought roused them again to a sense of what they once professed to ha, the only answer they would give, to ail solicitations, has been "that is a sacred deposit; God forbid I should ever expose it."

In the storm of battle, when lighting hand to hand, and breast to breast, when angry rage has seized upon the soul, and the lire of warlike honor has consumed the liner feelings of the heart, the spirit of Masonry has stopped the uplifted arm, and spared the foe. Many examples might he adduced in confirmation, that a Mason will never draw the blood of his brother, nor suffer him to be injured, if in his power to defend him. The banks of Lake George have seen a Putman rescued from the rising flames of savage fury, by the potent arm of Masonic fidelity. What neither law, religion, nor humanity could produce, is effected by the influence of Masonry. Vice is transformed to virtue. Malice is charmed with a look. Murder is disarmed with a sign!

"Her spirit potent walks the battle field,
And smooths grim Visaged war's insangum'd front!"

The great Apostle to the Gentiles, when speaking of the same charity, which Masonry inculcates, has soared the loftiest bight of holy eloquence! Without charity, vain is every human effort, vain the practice of every other virtue. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, though I have all faith even to remove mountains and have not charity, l am nothing! Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." Charity is not merely giving to the poor, clothing the naked, and feeding the hungry. These indeed are duties, in the performance of which the Mason delights. Hut charity is something more. Though when confined to its literal meaning, as now used, it may extend only to acts of beneficence and compassion; yet according to its true original signification, it is a pure unfeigned love, exercised towards God and man. It is a tree in the spiritual garden, bearing beautiful and extensive branches, and yielding the delightful fruits of immortality. Thus the same Apostle exorts the Ephesians "to be followers of God as dear children, and to walk in love or charity, for on this hang all the law and the Prophets." Charity is not the result of cold and sober, and prudent calculation of what is right and fit. Like electricity it flashes to the heart, imparting in its course the glow of feeling and the warmth of sympathy. Its basis is pity and benevolence. It gives to human frailties human compassion. It gives to injuries forgiveness. It gives to affliction consolation. It gives to misfortune the sympathetic tear. It gives to the broken hearted comfort. It teaches us to raise the lowly minded; to cheer the wounded spirit, and extend the relieving voice to the repenting sinner! It is the brightest ornament of the Christian crown, the most brilliant virtue of the Masonic Jewel. It divests us of our angry feelings; rids us of our illiberal prejudices; purifies our tongues from the language of discord ; drives from our bosom the spirit of religious intolerance, teaches the lesson of love to the Christian, the Jew, the Mahomedan and the Pagan. It brings the whole human race within one grand circle. All sit together under the wide spreading shade of Masonic benevolence and christian charity.

The influence of this heavenly principle is like the holy anointing oil by 'which the places and rites of ancient worship were consecrated. "Like the dew of Harmon, like the dew that descended upon the Mountains of Zdon, where the Lord commanded his blessing."

The Lodge is the only place, I know, in which party animosity, whether religious or political, never appears. There and there alone, all are Citizens of the same country; all are engaged in the same cause. There and there alone, all, under the same instructions, with undisputing perseverance, travel on, though sometimes through hard and rugged paths, in pursuit of that which they hope to find. There and there alone, all unite in one common pursuit, and all, that persevere to the end, receive one common prize. A blessing indeed, rare and sublime! That we may enter one place, where we can divest ourselves of unhallowed zeal and party contentions, and bail each other under the endearing appellation of Companion and Brother.

In the excellent language of an amiable brother, "it is not by mere initiation into the secrets of the order that we become Masons. We may put on the apron; we may figure in processions we may wear the jewels, and bear about all the trappings of the order, and still be no Masons." No, none can be Masons indeed, unless they have hearts open as day to melting charity, and a hand that was never withheld from a brother in distress. On the foundation of a corrupt heart, a Masonic fabric can never be erected ; and the illiberal hand can never be imployed in such sublime labor.

A respect for those who are honestly prejudiced against our order, requires me to obviate some of the principle objections which have been made to the Institution. It is said, that Masonry contracts the circle of philanthropy, and confines to one description of men that benevolence, which ought to be extended equally to all. But, methinks this extended philanthropy would be found injurious, impracticable, and its attempt distinctive of patriotism and social harmony. This universal and equally distributed philanthropy would obligate us to commiserate the misfortunes of Nootku Sound, as much as the miseries of our own country; to shed as many tears for the fate of New Spain, as for the destruction of New England.

Then follows an objection of a nature entirely different, that Masonry, by multiplying the objects, must of necessity diminish the ardor of friendship. The greatest solace of man is to pour into the bosom of a sympathizing friend his hopes and his fears, his griefs and his joys. Our blessed Savior, who was the soul of benevolence, who did good to all men, who died for all men, loved one of his disciples more than the others. The virtues are social; they are imitative: they are increased by practice and cultivation. Man is the slave of habit. Let his habits be vicious, and it would be almost impossible, even for the energy of a virtuous nature to overcome them. So on the other hand, the virtues which Masonry almost compels us to cultivate, will become naturalized by habit — Man will be more disposed to yield to those virtues, which produce friendship, and by habit alone, I had almost said, he may become a sincere friend.

It is queried how it is consistent with those principles of goodwill we profess, to conceal our secrets from the world. We answer, that the principles and privileges of the institution are open to all such as are qualified to receive them. To the wise and the virtuous, the arcana of the craft, under proper sanctions, are freely communicated. To divulge them in common would annihilate the Society, without doing any good to the world.

To the objections which have already been noticed, relative to the intemperate, profligate and vicious, we answer. Nothing can be more unfair or unjust, than to depreciate or condemn any institution, good in itself, on account of the faults of those who pretend to adhere to it.

The abuse of a thing is no valid objection to its inherent good. Worthless characters, as before hinted, are to be found occasionally in the very best institutions upon earth. If the unworthiness of a professor casts a slur upon the profession, it may be inferred by parity of reason, that the misconduct of a Christian is an argument against Christianity. But this is a conclusion which I presume no man will allow; and yet it is no more than what he must subscribe, who is so unreasonable as to insist upon the other! The fact is, the best gifts may be abused. Even the bread of Heaven in the wilderness grew corrupt, when used indiscretely. The common blessings of life are turned into curses, if misapplied. When you see base and unworthy men among Free-Masons, depend upon it, the fault is not in the institution, but In themselves. They have deviated from the principles of the craft. They have counteracted their profession, and are as bad Masons as men.

But if bad Masons abuse the institution, grieve their brethren, and give the adversary occasion to speak reproachfully, why may we not turn the other side of the picture, and show the multitudes of the most illustrious names that adorn our annals.

Not to mention the thousands of the most excellent of the craft, who from Solomon of Judea to Alexander of Russia, have ornamented the eastern calendar, been patrons of Masonry and lovers of the craft, let us come home to our own country and name a few among the constellations of its worthies.

The martyr of liberty — the child of glory — whose life-blood flowed to secure the freedom of his country — the heroic Warren was a Mason. The sage, who called down the slumbering artillery of Heaven from the brilliant caverns of the clouds, who paralized the electric beam itself, who rendered harmless the lightning of the thunder — Franklin was a Mason.

The orator, who by the all powerful force of his eloquence could persuade the unwilling, and press conviction on the obstinate, whose mind was an assemblage of virtues — Hamilton was a Mason. The man in whose praises all unite, whose worth was so various and excellent, so exalted, that even to attempt its description would be thought presumption — Washington was a Mason. The minister of Christ, whose humble life well comports with the doctrines he preaches, whose much exampled piety is patterned from his unassuming Master — Harris is a Mason.

The exclusion of females from Lodges, has been often urged as an objection against Masonry. To the indiscrete advocates of female Masonry I have little to say. Nor would I insult female delicacy by making many remarks to them on the subject. The duties of Masonry, like the affairs of state, are unsuitable to their tenderer sex. They do not esteem the masculine female and the Amazonian belle as ornaments of their society. The delicacy of their sex would shudder at the idea of joining in those secret assemblies, which are indispensably necessary to the honor and advancement of our institution. That our private meetings are not prejudicial to them, the long experience of the world has taught.

It is no flattery, nor violation of truth, to say, that if. is a Mason's pride to honor, to protect, and be approved by them. While they walk in that sphere, which heavenly wisdom has directed, they secure esteem. But when they imprudently step beyond, and assume the man, they cease to charm — no longer respected by their own sex, nor beloved by ours.


The flourishing state of Masonry in our country has greatly contributed to enlarge the boundaries of social happiness. And a general knowledge of its principles and ceremonies, through this jurisdiction, has, with the enjoyment of civil and religious freedom, extended the blessings of philanthropy among every class of our fellow citizens.

You know, what the world does not, that your Chapters, and Lodges are solemnly constituted for the promotion of morality, piety, and virtue. You know that our institution is most excellent, its worth intrinsic, its system pure. By a careful observance of its precepts, you may eradicate the prejudices of the candid, and disarm the malice of the obstinate. You may convince, the world, that although you possess secrets for your immediate benefit, you possess the heart of the good Samaritan! and your charities, like the rising light, embrace new objects, and increase in warmth! So shall you put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. And while the tender sex are not admitted to the secrets of your institution, let your constant respect, and your faithful honor and defence, render them happy — remove every suspicion, and increase their confidence. By your pure and dignified treatment, convince them that their importance, in your mind, is not diminished, by that universal custom, which prevents their connexion with this, and many other societies, whose laws and regulations are not adapted to their finer dispositions, and more delicate habits.

As respects the festivities of this day, sacred to the memory of John the Baptist, permit me to hope that you will not forget for a moment his character or your duty. He too wore a leathern girdle about his loins, and his food was locust and wild honey ; emblems of innocence and simplicity. As his name adds a lustre to our ancient calendar, tarnish not his memory by forgetting his example, while you are professing to call it to mind ; or neglecting to copy into your own life the shining virtues of his. As he was the distinguished forerunner of Him, who came to bring peace on earth and good will to men, to the glory of God in the highest; so let all your exertions tend to peace — all the energies of your mind be employed to prepare society for that happy stale, which is alike the termination of the Mason's labors, and the consummation of the Christian's hopes. Like him, cultivate the loral virtues, and improve in all that is amiable and good. Let the genius of Masonry preside over your conduct; let your recreation be innocent, and your festivity pure, that you may preserve unsullied the reputation of the fraternity. By practicing here in public the virtues you have been taught in secret — by discrete, and prudent, and dignified conduct, prove to beholders, not only the goodness of the institution, but its influence on your hearts.

Finally. Companions and Brethren, when you go forth to mingle with the world, convince them I have not said half that might be said in honor of this Ancient Order. And may Heavenly Wisdom illuminate, your minds — and Heavenly Power give strength to your exertions — and Heavenly Goodness fill and enlarge your breasts with the Beauty of Charity. Let your hearts be ever open to the. plaints of sorrow, and your hands, extended to the relief of suffering virtue. Listen to the admonitions of temperance, and to the modest voice of humility. Let your life demonstrate your love to God and man. Though the historian may record the virtues, the orator portray the excellence and the poet paint the beauty of your beneficent Institution, yet it is your example alone that must convince the world of the propriety of the poet, the Correctness of the orator, and the truth of the historian.

I should not only be guilty of incivility to this numerous and respected Audience, but should be, conscious of not having performed my duty to my own mind, nor to that Ancient Fraternity, by whose partiality I have been placed here, as their organ, did I not express the grateful sense we feel of the honor the assembly have this day done us, by attending the pub lie rites of our festival.

We congratulate you, as well as ourselves, on the lapse of that superstition, which, not long since, prohibited you and your fathers from beholding us, but with the jaundiced eye of horror ! The days are with in my recollection, when frightful stories of leagues with devils, were always associated with the name of Free-Mason! We are now: permitted to have secrets without reposing them hi the bosom of the prince of darkness, and in the stranger's face, to mark the brother's eye, without instructions from the lower regions! We are fellow citizens with you. We claim a share of your confidence as men, and we hope not to abuse it as Masons. And if you would form a judgment, of our Institution, we respectfully request you to draw your opinion from the principles advanced, or from the characters of the good, whom you all revere.

A solemn crisis, as I cast my eye, for the last time, an this mixed assembly! We are all passing to the world of spirits! We now shall part, to meet no more, until that day "for which all other days were made!" May we then be admitted to that blest abode, to that "Holy of Holies," where the faithful dwell, and the "weary rest from all their labors!"


Article on Bascom and his Mark Medal

Distinguished Brothers