TRACY PATCH CHEEVER 1824-1881
Junior Grand Warden, 1872
Grand Secretary, 1878-1881 (Died in office)
FROM PROCEEDINGS, 1881
From Proceedings, Page 1881-136, presented by Grand Master Samuel Crocker Lawrence:
"It is only three weeks since our Masonic family met with another severe blow, in the death of our Recording Grand Secretary, Tracy Patch Cheever. The summons which called him hence fell upon our ears with an awful suddenness. He visited North Easton with the officers of the Grand Lodge, on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 22, to assist in the dedication of the new Masonic hall of Paul Dean Lodge. At the close of the ceremony while sitting in an anteroom, he was stricken with apoplexy; an hour after he became unconscious, and continued in that condition until his death, at three o'clock the next afternoon. On closing his minutes of the evening's proceedings he said to me these words, which have an extraordinary significance in connection with what happened so shortly after: 'My record is finished; it will read right a hundred years hence.' These were the last words I heard from his lips. Immediately after his seizure I despatched a messenger to his wife, and she arrived early the next morning. I remained at his bedside till the close, in the discharge of such offices as I could render. No kindness or attention was lacking on the part of the family of Dr. George B. Cogswell, to whose house Brother Cheever had been promptly conveyed.
"The funeral of Bro. Cheever was held at Chelsea, on the 26th of November. The Grand Lodge was present to pay the last sad tribute to his memory, and he was buried with Masonic rites.
"A brief sketch of the career of our lamented Brother will be interesting to you. He was born in Marblehead, Mass., March 28, 1824. He received his education at the Salem Latin School and Brown University, where he was graduated in 1843. After the usual course of preparatory study, he entered upon the practice of the law in Chelsea and Boston, and won a creditable place in his profession. He was for a number of years city solicitor of Chelsea, and discharged the duties of that office with ability and success. He also rendered terms of service in both branches of the Legislature, and as Alderman of Chelsea. In August, 1862, impelled by a strong spirit of patriotism, he enlisted as a private, and was soon commissioned, by Gov. Andrew, Captain of Company C, of the 35th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers. He did gallant service in the war, notably at the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, and in the last battle he received a severe wound, the effects of which proved so serious as to compel his retirement from the army, and inflicted permanent injury upon his health, causing him daily suffering, and unquestionably hastening his death.
"Few men in the State have been more ardently attached to Masonry than our departed Brother, and few have rendered it more useful service. He was raised a Master Mason in Star of Bethlehem Lodge, of Chelsea, and subsequently became a charter member of Robert Lash Lodge. His capitular associations were with the Chapter of the Shekinah, of which he wrote an interesting history. He was a member of Naphtali Council, and.received knightly orders in Palestine Commandery, of Chelsea. In all these organizations he was a working member, and was frequently called upon to fill positions of responsibility and trust. He was Junior Grand Warden of this Grand Lodge, in 1871. In the Grand Bodies his services and learning were brought into frequent requisition, and, as a member of committees, his studies and reports upon questions of vital interest to our Order have greatly contributed to the establishment of sound principles in the interpretation and administration of Masonic law. Such labors are invaluable, and we may well say that the writings of Brother Cheever will be referred to as authority upon many questions which had previously failed to receive a satisfactory solution.
"In recognition of his eminent services he was made honorary member of several Masonic Bodies, and he took especial pleasure in the honor conferred upon him by the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island in electing him to honorary membership therein, it having been conferred upon him as a mark of their appreciation of his Masonic learning. He was elected Recording Grand Secretary, in 1878, to succeed the late Rev. Charles H. Titus; and I need not say to you that he has discharged the duties of that office with uncommon fidelity and judgment.
"In your presence, Brethren, who have been brought into close personal and official relations with Brother Cheever during his years of service as our Recording Grand Secretary, I need not enlarge upon the many admirable qualities of character which have endeared him to us as a Mason and a man. He practised no arts to gain the regard of his fellow-men, but, pursuing the straight line of duty, their esteem came to him as a voluntary tribute to his moral excellence. He brought to the performance of the duties of his important office systematic habits of work, superior literary culture, and a mind thoroughly imbued with all knowledge touching the traditions, history, and especially the jurisprudence, of our Order. His death creates a vacancy which it will be very difficult to fill. We may well draw closely together at this time to express our sense of a real bereavement; for he is gone from us, — the useful servant, the devoted Mason, the high-minded citizen, the pure-hearted and good man.
"The actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust."
"The following letter, from the Grand Master of Masons in Missouri, indicates the high estimate which is set upon the character and services of Brother Cheever by Masons in other jurisdictions. I take pleasure in giving a place in my report to this feeling tribute to his memory : —"
GRAND LODGE ANCIENT FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS, -STATE OF MISSOURI.
OFFICE OF GRAND MASTER,
GALLATIN, Mo., December 5, 1881.
M.W. SAMUEL C. LAWRENCE, Grand Master of Masons, Masonic Temple, Boston: —
MY DEAR BRO., — Dr. J. D. Vincil, Grand Secretary, has just communicated to me the sad intelligence of the death of R.W. Tracy P. Cheever, Grand Secretary of your Grand Body. In this sudden and afflictive bereavement, which has brought profound sorrow to your Grand Jurisdiction, I offer the sincere condolence of the Grand Lodge of Missouri.
We, too, have stood in the shadows, and with gratitude we remember the many kind messages of sympathy received, when our own Gouley was taken from us amid the fire and smoke of an appalling conflagration. The record of Bro. Cheever's life-work marks him as having been an exceptionally able, useful, and distinguished Mason, and we join with you in lamentation by reason of his sudden demise.
Very truly and fraternally,
[SEAL.] ALEX. M. DOCKERY,
Grand Master Mo. Masons.
FROM LIBERAL FREEMASON, 1881
From Liberal Freemason, Vol. V, No. 9, December 1881, Page 268:
Read at the Grand Chapter ot Massachusetts at its Annual Convocation.
For twenty-five years the figure of Tracy Patch Cheever remained a central one among Freemasons of all grades in Chelsea, and for a large proportion of that time, was quite as conspicuous in Masonic circles throughout the Commonwealth. Coming from an old family, he was well born, of manly character, and cultivated intellect, so that it may be said of him truthfully, he was "first among his equals without in any whit detracting from the graces of those with whom he was peer."
His father was Ira, son of Fzekiel Cheever, author of a Latin grammar, and who lived at a period exfehding from about 1660 to 1724. His mother was Martha Safford, of Hamilton, widow of Capt. Henry Patch, of Salem, a granddaughter of Capt. John Whipple, an officer in the Revolution, and at one time an aid of Washington, and to this latter town his parents removed when Tracy was about six weeks old, he being born in Marblehead, the home of the Cheevers, on March 28th, 1824.
Tracy graduated from the Salem High and Latin Schools in Salem, and from Brown University, in Providence, R. I., in 1843; he soon after commenced the study of the law, was admitted to the bar, and to practice in the county and town where his parents resided. His family removed to Chelsea in 1846, thither Tracy followed them, where his subsequent life became as familiar to his neighbors as an open book.
In his earlier and later manhood, his political relations were with the Whig and the Republican parties, but these were never soured by intolerance, nor clouded by the shiftings of a mere partizan. In 1852-3, he was the private Secretary of the Hon. F. B. Fay, representative in Congress, from Massachusetts. In 1862, and again in 1865 he was a member of the Legislature, of the Commonwealth, and of the Senate in 1868. His interest in the social and civil affairs of Chelsea was active and enduring. For a number of years I he was chairman of the School Committee, and in 1865 was elected City Solicitor; he was also at one period a member of the Board of Aldermen. In each of these places he was scholarly and systematic and had his will coincided, his fellow citizens would gladly have bestowed on him their highest local gifts.
During the summer of 1862, he recruited Company C of the Thirty-fiflh Regiment, and was mustered into service in Chelsea, Aug. 13th of that year with the rank of Captain. He served with his regiment at South Mountain, and at Antietam in September, following, and at the latter place was so seriously injured by concussion from the explosion of a shell near him, that he was discharged for disability on the 23d day of June, 1863. From the effects of this shock he never fully recovered, nor can there be any doubt that it was a contributing agency to his final sudden dissolution.
He received Masonic light in Star of Bethlehem Lodge in Chelsea, first, on Nov. 22d, 1854; second, Dec. 27th, 1854; third, Jan. 24th, 1855. Of this Lodge he was Master in 1860, dimited therefrom. December 18th, 1867, to become a charter member of Robert Lash Lodge, and was complimented by his mother Lodge which elected him an Honorary Member, January 15th, 1868. The Grand Lodge elected him Junior Grand Warden in 1871.
He was made a Royal Arch Mason in the Royal Arch Chapter of the Shekinah, on February 15th, 1856, while that body was working U. D.; was its first High Priest under the Charter, served for 1837-8-9, and'was elected an Honorary Member, March 28th, i860. [is ability was promptly recognized in the Grand R. A. Chapter of the Commonwealth, which elected him Deputy Grand High friest in 1857.
The degrees in Cryptic Masonry were conferred upon him in East Boston Council of R. and S. Masters, and he became a petitioner and charter member of Naphtali Council, in Chelsea, May 1st, 1869, and was its first Thrice Illustrious Master. Of this body he was made an Honorary Member, May 26th, 1871.
The orders of Knighthood were conferred upon him in De Molay Commandery, of Boston, but he at once engaged, with others, to organize Palestine Commandery of Knights Templars, in Chelsea, was its Eminent Commander in 1865-6, and was made an Honorary Member, April 7th, 1869.
In 1878, the death of the then Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts caused a vacancy in that office, which Brother Cheever was admirably qualified to fill; this the sagacity of M. W. Grand Master Welch at once perceived, and from then to the time of his death, he more fully demonstrated how well he was equipped to be what he really was, a courteous, intelligent and able Grand Secretary.
The last Masonic act of his life was in the discharge of his duty in office. He had accompanied the M. W. Grand Master and other officers of the Grand Lodge, to North Easton, on Tuesday, the 22d day of November, last, to assist in dedicating new Masonic apartments erected for the use of Paul Dean Lodge. The assemblage of ladies and brethren was a brilliant one; the elegance of the apartments, the display of flowers, the banquet, and the speeches which followed, all contributed to make the occasion one long to be remembered in the society annals of the town. The Grand Secretary had completed his record of the official ceremonies, and retired to one of the anterooms, when it soon became apparent that he was really ill. The attack was preceded by some premonition, its severity was manifest at about ten o'clock, and soon he lay without any faculty or power to help himself, until on the next day, at ten minutes past three o'clock, the gate of death was opened, and an immortal passed beyond. Medical skill, brotherly and affectionate care, faith, hope, love, these and more were alike in vain, his hour of dissolution had come.
A messenger was dispatched for Mrs. Cheever, and she was conveyed by special train on Wednesday morning to her stricken husband; by his side, and under the shadow of death, the scene was a sad one, but if consciousness of anything to him remained, it must have touched his parting thoughts with a strain of sweetness, to have her see how faithfully his brethren cared for him, how much they loved him, and that their wishes' and their prayers followed him on the wings of love to the Lodge Celestial.
The body was conveyed to his home in Chelsea on the day of his death, and on Saturday following, after a touching eulogy by his former associate, as Chaplain in the Star of Bethlehem Lodge, the Rev. Dr. Leonard, Professor in Tufts College, the Burial Service was performed in the Church of the Redeemer by the Grand Lodge, Grand Master Lawrence, and Brother Leonard leading as Master and Chaplain.
The loss of Brother Cheever is a positive one to Freemasonry in Massachusetts; to its aid he brought sound learning, a clear intellect, and an honest purpose. As a student and scholar he was always painstaking, diligent in research, and elaborate in presenting his subject; as a writer he was copious, versatile and pleasant; as a speaker he was fluent, and when occasion prompted, impressive; whatever subject he discussed, he also adorned, and the products of his mind bore the imprint of the master. In his intercourse with the world and with his brethren, he was kind beyond the average, truthful beyond question, guided by knowledge, controlled by good judgment, and possessed of the courage of his convictions. And now that his tongue is mute, and his pen lies motionless, we gaze after our brother in contemplation of his virtues; loving him for what he was, we turn toward his vacant chair, and see that it will be long before those who knew him can look upon it without a sigh of regret.
NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND, MAY 1874
From New England Freemason, Vol. I, No, 8, August 1874, Page 345:
The Evolution of the Principle of Freemasonry.
AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BEFORE THE GRAND LODGE OF RHODE ISLAND, AT NEWPORT, ON SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST'S DAY, 1874.
By the silver waves which wash the shore of this romantic portion of your historic State, you have assembled to keep this day, the feast of that patron saint of Freemasonry, the observance of which was specially enjoined upon you, more than a century ago by the then highest Masonic authority upon this continent. When R. W. Thomas Oxnard, Provincial Grand Master of North America, in his warrant of May 14th, 1753, in confirmation of his prior deputation of December 27th, 1749, constituted the Lodge of St. John, at Newport, he therein directed the Brethren annually to keep the feast of St. John the Evangelist, as a perpetual memorial of the intimate relation of the beloved disciple of our Lord, to this Institution. It is perhaps, a singular felicity of Masonry in Rhode Island, (auspicious, may it not be, of prosperity and fidelity in all coming time?) that its birth or inception as an Institution in the organized forms of its two most renowned Lodges, should have been under the fostering and peculiar charge, as Godfathers, of the two Sts. John, whose lives and memories are the shrines of the whole Fraternity's worship.
When the successor of Thomas Oxnard, R. W. Jeremy Gridley, in January, 1757, ordained and constituted St. John's Lodge at Providence, appointing his well-beloved Brother, Capt. John Burgess, as its first Master, in the same spirit of loyalty to our other great Patron, which his predecessor had observed toward the Evangelist, he solemnly directed the new Lodge annually to observe the feast of St. John the Baptist. Thus auspiciously begun, and bearing names of both inspiration and hope, the two Lodges of St. John assumed the charge of Masonry in this State, and from a feeble commencement, carried it along, amid colonial wars and perturbations, and through the fires of the Revolution, though sometimes under discouragements, "without numbers, without funds, without accommodations, " yet- always with dignity, integrity and honor, to the attainment of an assured position and a commanding influence. By a most natural as well as logical expectation, these two Lodges of St. John might early have forecast the time, which came so surely in November, 1790, when with an almost sublime independence of Masonic precedent, and without other aid or intervention, they should establish the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island, itself to become, indeed, the cherishing mother of the daughters who gave it birth.
To enlarge upon the history and labors of these two Lodges of St. John, and of the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island, thus constituted and established, and upon its close and fostering connection with its two creative subordinates and its numerous and prosperous younger Lodges, is no part of my duty, however fascinating the theme. It may suffice simply to say that St. John's of Newport and St. John's of Providence, like their prototypes in the Christian patronage of Freemasonry, accomplishing, the one by its Masonic learning and skill, and the other, by its zeal and constancy, the best results of the work of our Craft, have drawn lines parallel, of faith, hope and charity, which have enfolded the Masonry of the entire State, and I shall be pardoned in adding that while a Rhode Island Mason "keeps himself circumscribed within their precepts, it is impossible that he should materially err."
The antiquity, not less than the universality of the Fraternity of Freemasonry, has been a favorite and prolific theme for the historian and student. In general, however, they have chosen to consider the Institution in reference to its concrete forms, its organization, its jurisprudence, its symbols and its ritualism. They have delighted to revert to the days of the earliest civilization, and, from the diverse structures disclosed in the progress of the various races of man, have sought to educe, with greater or less force either of logical sequence, or of probability, the early existence of our Fraternity in the sub stantial and organic forms which appear in its modern history. The society of the workmen upon the Temple of King Solomon, the Essenic bands of Palestine, the Collegia Fabrorum of the Roman Empire and the association of architects in the middle ages, were, however, simply the external demonstrations or outgrowths, the objective manifestations, varying with the peculiarities of their respective ages, with the constitutions and tendencies of the races and even with the conditions of climate, of an underlying principle, which is inherent in the simple humanity of our nature, and which, as it belongs to a common manhood, is, to a great degree, independent of merely external conditions. If this be not true, I need take no time to dem onstrate that our boasted antiquity is but a delusive retrospection; that it can give no assurance against the ravages of the future, and make no title to the regard of mankind which may not be easily defeated by more showy and pretentious organizations.
On this auspicious day, therefore, let us, in partial forgetfulness of whatever is imposing and commanding in the merely physical or external force and beauty of Masonry as an organized society and even in its authority and dignity as a philosophic system, pass, with a wise and thoughtful regard, during the necessarily few moments for which I may claim your attention, to the theme which may be properly designated as the
EVOLUTION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF MASONRY.
By the limits of this occasion, I am restricted in the unfolding of the subject, to the few simple hints and suggestions, which can, at best, only stimulate your own thoughts in the direction of its fuller development.
The principle then, of Masonry, has been evolved. It was not, like Minerva, springing from the head of Jove, brought at once into perfect being. It was not a creation,—nor was it a work,—it was never made. It had no construction, but growth. The germ was found in the first form of manhood, springing from, and taking root in its nature, as soon as there was another similar nature toward which its outgrowth could proceed. It might be apparently crushed by some outward obstruction—the heat and cold of climates might alternately wither and blast it. Under the processes of time, the forms of the social life might sometimes choke and hinder its growth; the tyrannies of government and the greater tyrannies of creed might repress its exoteric manifestations. Its bloom might be darkened under the lurid and sulphurous clouds of war, but the mighty germ was still there, beyond the possibility of decay, waiting only for the passing centuries to bring soil and climate to unfold and expand its growth and demonstrate its immortality.
However we may be disposed to treat the Darwinian doctrine of the development of man, as a physical being, from the ruder structural forms of animal life into a more perfect organism, it is surely not a mere fancy, but is entirely consistent with the facts and dem onstrations of science, to regard his whole intellectual and moral life, as a progress and growth from crude and imperfect beginnings. There was a time, when looking toward others existing in his own similitude, he found them possessed of his own nature, his tendencies, hopes and aspirations. The suggestions of a common paternity arose in his breast. He and his fellows, not responsible for their own existence, not self-created, must own a common Creator and Father. Thus co-equal and co-ordinate in human contemplation were the germs of the great idea of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. A nobler product than that of the lower animal forms by which he was surrounded while it led man's thoughts upward, to the creative source, led them outward also toward the companions and fellows of a just and equal creation. If his reverence and filial love should rightfully ascend to the Author of his being, so should his sympathies and yearnings, with equal right, be drawn out to those who were the obvious co-partners and sharers in the same existence. Even in the formative periods of the race, while men were segregated and unwelded into even primitive shapes of the social life, it was the idea of the common Father which drew them toward each other and which constrained them to meet as Brethren rather than as enemies.
And however the principle of brotherhood was then subverted or suppressed as it has always been, even under the highest expansion of modern civilization, by the potent principle of selfishness, which was from the beginning and will be to the end, the great and often dominant Anti-Masonic principle, that self-interest, in which as Rochefocauld observes, "the virtues are lost, as rivers in the sea," the suppression could not last, nor could the subversion be complete. In spite of selfishness, man found himself drawn and bound to his Brother, by the ties of an equal creation, by a common hope and destiny, and under the processes of time and progress, by common interests in life. To associate with his brother in the holy but narrow connections of the family and thence in the larger, though still weak association of others remoter in blood, was to assimilate in the pursuit of mutual interests and the prosecution of mutual purposes. Naturally each individual would find others toward whom some peculiar regards and affections would flow, by means of which, as between them, fraternity and friendship would become correlative. Thence came mutual protection and action for each other's welfare in war and peace. Thence came the sign of recognition, which unknown to all outside the sacred circle, carried its mystery of fellowship, alike in the brightness of noon-day and in the darkest shades of night. Associated thus through the triumph of the higher sense of brotherhood over the lower sense of selfishness, men, by a logical progression, as well as through the necessities of practical life, were induced to regard, not simply their lower interests, but their education, culture, all mental and moral growths and expansions, the uplifting of individual life as objects and ends to be fostered by such association. As to the members of the brother hood so formed, there must be union, a depreciation of self, aid and protection for others.
The time must come when those not yet united by the bond, should know that a band of their fellow men had been formed, peculiar and exclusive, that it was held together by certain ties of connection not explicable to the common intelligence —that it was governed by law and inspired by high and holy pur poses. In the earlier days of the race, while men led a nomadic or pastoral life, and all association assumed the simple forms and characteristics of the patriarchal system, a system of autocracy, under which the governing head ruled with a nearly absolute sway, the principle found little encouragement. Then followed the long periods of barbaric night and darkness, in which the jealousies of neighboring races and tribes evoked and maintained a constant or chronic condition of war, under which human energies were bent only to waste and destruction. Emerging from the simplicities of the merely pastoral or patriarchal life and satiated with the bitter draughts of war, the dormant sense of brotherhood awoke to some realization of human needs. The bud began to unfold and to expand its long hidden charms into blossom and perfume. See now, how the great sentiment or idea of fraternity, was from the beginning, knit to that of the paternity, and how co-ordinate these ideas were in their earliest external manifestations. The imaginative Hebrew race, basking in the light of the Divine favor, recognized the paternity of the great Jehovah, the special Father of a chosen people, in imposing forms of worship and reverence, and these were insepara bly connected with the rites and ceremonies which were the mere outward signs of their inward society, or association as brethren. To the Jew, the thunders of Sinai, the awful voice of God speaking to his peculiar servants, the utterance of the sacred prophets, the glories of Lebanon, the excellency of Carmel and the wonders of Jerusalem, blending in concordant melodies the human and the divine, were voices which proclaimed with equal emphasis, the yearning of the Hebrew soul alike toward its brother and its Father. The subtle and philosophic Greek, turning perhaps with quicker impulse from the merely destructive barbarities of the early epochs, to the consideration of the problems of human life and to all meta physical investigations, exhibited the same blending of the spirit of brotherhood with the spirit of reverence for the tutelary gods of his mythological system and the one higher God which alone could satisfy the demands of his philosophy; and the imposing rites of Eleusis, guarded with the most jealous care from the sight of the profane, disclosed to their devotees probably the grandest and most awe-inspiring ceremonial upon which the eye of antiquity ever rested. But neither the poetic Hebrew, nor the philosophic Greek could long be content with those exoteric forms of the manifestation of brotherhood, which were confined to mere worship or contemplation.
Under the expansions of the human mind and of the social life, men began active pursuits. It was not enough simply to revere, to think, to be. There was something to be done. The arts of con struction arose from the necessities of social progress, no less than from the wants of the individual soul. Men must build temples for their Gods, statues for their heroes and houses for themselves The brotherhood must find its most emphatic forms of manifestation and organization among the doers and the knowers, who alone could construct the lofty temple as a symbol of worship and beauty, and the humble dwelling for its daily comfort and convenience. So far as mere organization was concerned, it might wisely enough for a time, be restricted to the skilled classes of workmen. The disposition by King Solomon, of the artists and builders employed in the erection of the first temple at Jerusalem, into a harmonious band of Brethren, moved alike by religious and fraternal impulses, toward the pros ecution of their lofty design, with peculiar signs of recognition and under the control of equal laws and regulations, would be an arrange ment in itBelf so wise, philosophic and practical, as to need no special evidence for its demonstration. Though no cabalistic scrolls have descended to later days, though no charters or constitutions of organization have been deciphered from musty plates in the excavations of the modern Jerusalem, and the historian may not place his finger upon a scrap of accredited evidence of an organic union of the Brethren of the Temple, it is yet far more difficult to doubt, than to believe in it. That' the chosen men of him whom we hail as our first tutelary Grand Master and Patron, could, for the long period of their mutual plans and labors in the erection of the most stupendous edifice upon which the eye of man had looked, have prosecuted the work, with all its undeveloped hopes and possibilities of beauty and grandeur, and amid all its trials and anxieties, could have isolated themselves, working alone, pursuing only the ends of selfishness, with individual purposes and aims, even in the absence of docu mentary proof, is a far stronger test of credulity, than the assump tion for these workmen, of the most complete forms of organization. How nearly such organization corresponded with the Masonic out growths of a later time, is, of course, a fair speculative question for the philosophic student and inquirer.
In the lapse of time, under the development of the Roman Empire, and looking to the peculiar tendencies of the race which governed it, which were, first, the mastery of mankind and the spread of the imperial domination by war and conquest, and second, the practi cal and constructive tendencies which pointed to architecture and its kindred arts, we find that the great sentiment of fraternity among the Romans, less religious indeed than the Jews or Greeks and other races which they were destined to supplant, was exhibited in those forms of organization which were allied to the constructive arts. The Colleges of Workmen, for whose existence History affords us the special sanction of her unquestioned evidence, and who had adopted for their own ritualistic observance, the profound Egyptian myste ries and ceremonies first brought by Moses to the Jews, then passing to Rome through the Greeks, were bound and associated by the strongest ties of mutual love and regard, and together sympatheti cally worked in the production of those ample and beautiful triumphs of architectnre, which even in their ruin and decay have challenged the admiration of all modern beholders.
Passing rapidly down to the mediaeval period, after the power of Rome had compassed the conquest and re-organization of its Western Empire, and its arts and laws had entered into the civilization of Europe, we find the sentiment of fraternity seeking its external ex pression in the bands of builders, in whom the sentiment of the paternity, or religion, was more closely intertwined with the former, than in their Roman predecessors. Yet with them, the idea of building, or of doing—the arts of construction, the theory of working for the general prosperity, the advancement of society in its material interests was still inseparably connected with, as it was outwardly manifested in, the worship of the Divinity and the yearnings of brotherhood. They laid their skilful hands upon the lofty turret and spacious dome, fit shrines for God's glory and worship, but they withheld not the hand of melting charity in a Brother's need.
We may not pause to consider at length, how the Brotherhood of English mediaeval builders organized itself at York, into that special society from which the distinctive system of modern Masonry has been resolved, or how from the morning twilight of the race, that which was at first an instinct, then a sentiment, ascended at last, in the expansion of human nature, to the unimagined heights of an Institution limited only by the necessities of mankind. Yet at every point of history and under every sky and climate, we shall discover that the work has been a progressive one.
The first and simplest notions of mutual recognition and protection answered the needs of the rude forms of society and the primitive habits of life. They were soon extended to meet the larger needs of men gradually enlightened by education and experience. As the light of science began to dawn and the arts of life to be unfolded into shapes of beauty and symmetry, the builders of the world would add to their pre-existing bonds of association, the revelations of scientific truth, the speculations of philosophy and the cultivation of the spirit as well as the forms of art. Upon the reverential and protective foundation of Masonry, would be raised a structnre of art, of philosophy, of history, literature and poetry, which would vindicate its claim to be ever linked with the progress of its kind and with every advance in human condition. It would thus draw to itself the richest symbolism of the world around it, and incorporate into its ceremonies and instructions the exuberant stores of nature and the choicest wealth of the spheres of intellect and of art. As men looked into the arcana of the earth, or into the closets of the human soul, they found mystery written alike upon the processes of matter and of mind. The clearest perceptions of science were not sufficient to unravel the subtle threads by which even the atoms of matter are held together. The stupendous evolutions and combinations by which the different geological periods reveal the forces of nature were seen, as they are now seen, only as results, for no man could fathom or comprehend the processes. The subtle operation of chemistry, under which there seems to be no limitation to those transmu tations and capabilities of matter which are bent to human uses, could be detected and followed by no alembic or instrumentality of comprehension. The laws and workings of the mind itself could only be faintly and imperfectly traced. Silence and secresy were thus written, as by an inexorable decree, upon the highest works of nature and upon the human soul. The whirlwind, the thunder and the tempest were but the noisy demonstrations of a temporary dis arrangement of forces, visible and sometimes perhaps sufficiently understood; but who could look into that silent but mighty chemistry, whose processes transmute the common dust into the glittering diamond — who could comprehend the still and subtle forces by which from the rudest earth, is evolved even the simplest flower ? " The secret things belong to God." It was thus in accor dance with their constant experience and the analogies of nature, that those who had bound themselves in the underlying and original bauds of brotherhood, should for the perfection of their existence as a scientific or philosophic society, invest or surround themselves with secresy, as at once, a necessity and a charm. The circle of their association was to be a mystic circle within which only those worthy of the Brotherhood could find that instruction in its arts and sciences, by which alone its true ends could be pursued. The knowledge of it should be hid from the common gaze, until mankind at large should make a title to whatever of good it possessed. The secret the eternal, uncreated Father is most certainly manifested in love and devotion to the created Son and Brother.
The instincts of the poets here teach us the lesson which the Scrip tures so fully confirm. In the rigors of a winter night, the'lyre of Robert Burns sings out clearly:
"The heart, benevolent and kind,
The most resembles God.
"He prayeth best who loveth best All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all."
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my Brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Freemasonry will never consent to the abrogation of the religious principle, which from the earliest days, has proceeded in the march of mankind, on parallel lines with its other sentiment of brotherhood, even though the special guardians of the former may assume its con trol and guidance in the beliefs and affairs of men. More than tolerant of all creeds, though wedded to none, Masonry will sustain what is good in all, for the life of the State, not less than of the Church, in spite of the open attack or the secret intrigue of sectary or zealot.
In this necessarily hasty and imperfeet sketch, which is in no sense an exposition of the beginnings and growth of the principle of Freemasonry, I shall have failed in my purpose, if I have not satisfied you, that the real claim of our now ancient Institution to the clear recognition of mankind, rests not indeed upon the considera tion, that all essentially good Masons are to be found within its ranks; or that many essentially bad men are not often in its fold— nor because the sentiment of universal brotherhood has not been asserted and fostered by other men, and in other social organiza tions—but because with us, it has been most truly maintained and conserved—because here, as the great underlying principle of our foundation, its base has been broader and deeper—because its out growth has stretched to the embrace of all mankind—because its reach of all human interests has been wider and more comprehensive—because the breath of its life has been drawn from an ampler atmosphere and from "the heart's diviner regions."
The growth and progress of the Masonic principle and its domina tion in the affairs of men, may thus perhaps lead the philosophic mind to the anticipation of that day's dawning, when in the fulness of time, and in the ripeness of man's perfection through a complete education and development, it shall enfold within its arms of love, the whole family of the Father's household—a universal Lodge— one fold and one Shepherd."
It may thus be seen to what extent Masonry is independent of its mere surroundings, and how, at various periods of its history, it may have assumed different modes of expression or organization, without detriment to its essential idea. Instituted for the sustenance of the soul in its immortal longings, not less than for lower human needs, and "vital in every part," it will adapt itself from time to time, to any forms which may best demonstrate its ever living principle. Most Worshipful Grand Master, our Temple, built upon the old and imperishable foundations and rich with the garnered treasures of all generations, stands proudly to-day, alike in the strength of its base and the beauty of its superstructure.
Nowhere more than in your own favored community, have the principles or the policies of our Fraternity, received a brighter or truer illustration. It is for you to guard with vigilance what the past has secured; to administer wisely and well the solemn trust which has descended to you from your Masonic predecessors. The State which holds the sacred dust of Webb, Carlisle and Salsbury, of the Wilkinsons, the Atwells, and their compeers of an earlier day, and before whose eyes have passed and are now passing the enlight ened and unwearied labors of Brethren like Doyle, your presiding Grand Master and his official associates, surely cannot fail in its most constant endeavors to guard, preserve and transmit to the future, what Brethren like these have so nobly won. And thus through you, and your trusty allies of all jurisdictions, may this grand Fraternity continue its beneficent work for mankind, with a purer Faith, a loftier Hope and a sweeter Charity, till the last flash of the expiring sun!