MassachusettsEdicts MFM1851 1855
- 1 ADVICE FROM MOORE'S FREEMASONS' MONTHLY MAGAZINE
- 1.1 1851
- 1.2 1852
- 1.2.1 Fellow Craft Lodges
- 1.2.2 Installation of Officers of a Lodge Under Dispensation
- 1.2.3 Cross-Jurisdiction Responsibilities
- 1.2.4 Trial of Entered Apprentices
- 1.2.5 Surrender of Charters (also Right of Private Ballot)
- 1.2.6 Suspension of By-Laws
- 1.2.7 Publication of Rejections
- 1.2.8 Staying Proceedings After Balloting
- 1.2.9 Effect of Expulsion on Appendant Membership
- 1.2.10 Business of Lodges
- 1.2.11 Supremacy of the Grand Master
- 1.2.12 Making Masons At Sight
- 1.3 1853
- 1.3.1 Rejection of Candidates
- 1.3.2 Lodge Membership (Entered Apprentices and Fellowcrafts)
- 1.3.3 Lodges Under Dispensation
- 1.3.4 Reports on Petitions
- 1.3.5 Rejection of Candidates
- 1.3.6 Approval of Lodge Records
- 1.3.7 Disciplinary Powers of Lodges
- 1.3.8 Suspension of Lodge By-Laws
- 1.3.9 Trial of a Brother Under Suspension
- 1.3.10 Surrender of Lodge Charter
- 1.3.11 Rule of Succession to the Chair
- 1.4 1854
- 1.4.1 Objection to Advancement
- 1.4.2 Secrecy of the Ballot
- 1.4.3 Improper Use Of Masonic Influence
- 1.4.4 Physical Qualifications
- 1.4.5 Past Masters
- 1.4.6 Resignation and Demit of Officers
- 1.4.7 Staying Proceedings After Ballot
- 1.4.8 Trials of Demitted Brothers
- 1.4.9 Powers of the Deputy Grand Master
- 1.4.10 Rights of Past Masters
- 1.4.11 Balloting
- 1.4.12 Restoration of Membership
- 1.4.13 Recommendation of Candidates
- 1.4.14 Opening Lodges For Work
- 1.5 1855
ADVICE FROM MOORE'S FREEMASONS' MONTHLY MAGAZINE
Prior to 1875, a considerable amount of Masonic jurisprudence was based on the advice and direction published in The Freemasons' Monthly Magazine, published in Boston and edited by one of the foremost Masonic authorities of the time, Rt. Wor. Charles W. Moore. While not established as edicts or rulings by Grand Masters, they were consequential in the establishment of precedents and contributed to the decisions made in later years.
Comments and views in the publication were often lengthy, but were generally based on sound reasoning that the author provided in response to inquiries from many Grand Jurisdictions.
Discipline and Rights of Accused Members
From Vol. X, No. 3, January 1851, Page 65:
DISCIPLINE OF MEMBERS - SUSPENSION OF BY-LAWS - RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED - APPEALS FROM THE MASTER.
Auburn, Ala., Oct. 27, 1850.
Br. Moore - Your Magazine is esteemed as "high authority" by our Brethren and Companions here L and "doubtful questions," on which your opinion is given, through its pages, are generally amicably disposed of. Your kindness in noticing and giving your views on questions proposed by Brethren at a distance, emboldens me to ask one or two. I will first, however, give you the circumstances under which the questions arose in our Lodge.
A Brother was charged before the Lodge with intoxication. The testimony was regularly taken; but the offending Brother, even before the charge was regularly preferred, voluntarily came before the Lodge, admitted the extent of his offending, asked the clemency of the Lodge, and acknowledged himself willing to receive the penalty prescribed by the By-Laws. Our By-Laws justly recognize intoxication as an offence, and provide for its punishment thus: for the first offence, the Brother is to be privately reprimanded by the W. Master; for the second, to be reprimanded before the Lodge; and for the third, to be suspended for not less than three nor more than twelve months. In the case under consideration, the Brother had previously suffered the first penalty; consequently, he was on trial for the second offence. The Lodge, without even a motion to suspend the By-Laws, suspended the Brother for three months. Did the Lodge go beyond its powers? Perhaps not- but did it not irregularly and inconsistently use a power which is above the By-Laws?
The second question is one of more importance, as it is one affecting Constitutional or Masonic right, A Brother on trial before the Lodge for a minor offence, wishes to remain in the Lodge during the investigation and summing up of the testimony, but expresses his willingness to retire before any resolution is offered or final action had in the case. The W. Master decides that the Brother charged, has the constitutional or Masonic right to remain until the examination of the testimony is concluded. The Lodge appealed from the decision of the W. Master, and his decision was not sustained. Which was right, the Master or the Lodge ? The Brother under charge then asked, as a courtesy, of the Lodge, to be permitted to remain - which was also refused to be granted.
These questions, at this time, are causing some dissatisfaction among Brethren who generally try to see "who best can work and best agree." A word from you will ackt as "oil upon the troubled waters." We hope therefore you will let us hear from you in due season.
J. W. W. Drake.
In the matter first stated by our correspondent, the Lodge travelled out of the record, and entered upon the consideration of a case which was not before it. Or, in other words, it returned a verdict, which was not authorized by the offence it was called on to adjudicate. The By-Laws of the Lodge clearly and distinctively describe the offence, and determine the punishment. It was not within the prerogatives of the Lodge to change either. The Brother could be tried only on the charge preferred against him; and he could be punished only in the manner prescribed by the By-Laws. It is not competent for a Lodge to arraign a member on a specific charge, and then to try him on another, of which he is neither guilty nor accused. Nor is it in the power of the Lodge to award a punishment greater than that which is specifically fixed by its own By-Laws as the penalty for the offence committed. The accused had been guilty of intoxication. It was his second offence. The appropriate punishment provided by the By-Laws is, that he shall be "reprimanded before the Lodge." Beyond this the Lodge could not go. It could not travel out of the record, and award the punishment due only to the third offence,- of which he was not accused, Public opinion would but little respect a judicial tribunal that should break over statute provisions and assume to award for a minor offence, the highest penalty known to the civil law - that should inflict for a breach of the peace, the punishment due only to capital crimes.
Ihe Lodge clearly transcended its powers. But it acted judiciously in not suspending its By-Laws; for that would have been adding to the irregularity of its proceedings: By-Laws may be abrogated or amended, in the manner provided by themselves, or by the Grand Lodge; but they cannot be suspended to meet any particular emergency, or whim of a majority of the members who may happen to be present whenever a real or supposed necessity arises. There would be no permanency to them, nor safety to the Lodge, were such a proceeding allowable. They are made, no less for the protection of the minority, than for the majority of the members of the Lodge, whether present or absent.
The second inquiry proposed by our correspondent may be answered in few words. The Lodge was wrong. There is nothing in Masonic jurisprudence more irrevocably settled, than that the accused shall be afforded an opportunity to confront his accuser - to meet them face to face, and, in person or by counsel, to interrogate them on all matters within the record. Nor do his rights end here. He may introduce rebutting testimony, or such explanatory facts as may tend to lessen the force, by wholly destroy the testimony against him. This is his privilege; but it is one of which he cannot avail himself, if he be not permitted to be present throughout the entire examination of the witnesses. It is also his privilege to examine, analyze, and comment on each and every fact elicited against him; and this he has a right to do, either in person or by counsel, before the Lodge, and in the presence of all the parties, being Masons. It is his right, also, to hear the summing up of the opposite party, and to note exceptions to any statements or inferences which he may conceive to be inconsistent with the testimony, or calculated improperly to prejudice his case. This is his last privilege. He leaves the exceptions so noted, in the hands of his Brethren, and withdraws. The verdict is then made up, and communicated to him, He is not permitted to be present when the verdict is made up; neither are the witnesses and for the same reasons that, in civil cases, exclude from the jury room all the parties immediately interested in the issue submitted ior decision. He, however, has the privilege of an appeal to the Grand Lodge, of which he may avail himself, if dissatisfied with the verdict rendered.
The Lodge was, therefore, in error, in denying to the accused the privilege "to remain in the Lodge during the investigation and summing up of the testimony."
There was another irregularity in the proceedings, which it may not be unprofitable here to notice. We refer to the appeal taken by the Lodge from the decision of the Master. Such appeals are not in conformity with Masonic usage. The decision of the Master is final, except as to the Grand Lodge, to which body he is not only amenable for his own official acts, but for the acts of his Lodge, also. He is under higher and weightier obligations and responsibilities, than those which rest upon the members of his Lodge. A single example will sufficiently illustrate this position. A candidate is proposed for initiation, in a manner contrary to the regulations of the Grand Lodge. The Master so decides. An appeal is taken, and his decision is reversed by the Lodge. How shall the Master act? Shall he submit to the decision of the Lodge, and violate his obligations to the Grand Lodge; or shall he fulfill his obligations to the supreme body, from which he derives all his authority, and by whose permission alone his Lodge exists? This may be an extreme case; but if appeals be allowed at all, they must be allowed as a general rule of action. The line of demarkation can be neither clearly nor safeiy drawn. But, waiving the argument, it is, perhaps, sufficient for our present purpose, that the practice is not sanctioned by the usages of Masonry,
Our correspondent will pardon the frankness with which we have answered his inquiries. This is our custom. We write to be understood. Our object in all cases of this kind is to give the information asked for, in direct and explicit terms. This prevents misunderstanding.
Obligations of Lodges
From Vol. X, No. 3, January 1851, Page 68:
A correspondent at Cayuga, Miss., states the following case:-
A member of a Lodge had violated a fundamental point of duty iu his personal relations to another member, but subsequently acknowledged his error, and the parties became reconciled, On this statement, our correspondent asks, if such reconciliation bars the right, or relieves the Lodge of its duty, to take cognizance of the offence?
It is no part of the duty of the todge to go out into the highways in search of causes for litigation. It is time enough for it to act, in its judicial capaecity, when complaints are regularly and properiy submitted for its adjudication. The object of penal laws is the reformation of the erring and the prevention of crime, not the gratification of malice. If a member, in the heat of passion, offend against his Brother, and in his calmer moments acknowledge his error and is forgiven, the Lodge will best manifest the true spirit of Masonry by saying to him- "If thy Brother condemn thee not, neither will I."
"You shall present no man for envy, hatred, or malice," is no less the language of Masonry, than of the civil law. In a case like that submitted by our correspondent, the Lodge will therefore be slow to entertain the presentment of a third party. We wish not, however, to be understood as intimating that the party making the presentation must necessarily be influenced by motives of envy or malice. He may be actuated by the highest convictions of duty, but at the same time mistaken as to what his true duty is. On this point the Lodge is competent to decide. It will or not entertain the eomplaint, as in its judgment the interests committed to its care may demand. It may, in cases of difference between individuals, where the immediate effect of the wrong is limited to the parties interested, consider the acknowledgment and repentance of the offender, as a sufficient reparation for the offence, and a satisfactory vindication of the integrity of its own laws. Under such circumstances, it will not entertain the complaint, when made by a third party.
There may, however, cases arise, - as where the general interests or reputation of the Lodge, or of the whole Fraternity, are involved,- when it would be the duty of the Lodge to take cognizance of the offence on the complaint of any member. But the case submitted by our correspondent is not, we think, one of this description. Were the complaint to be made by the party injured, the Lodge might be bound to take notice of it, notwithstanding the admission of his wrong by the offender; because the injured party would not be under any obligation to accept the acknowledgment and might, in vindication of his own character, properly request that the cause of the alleged offence should be judicially investigated by the Lodge. In such a position of the case, the Lodge would probably consider the acknowledgment, and the apparent degree of repentance, in mitigation of punishment. It might not, however, be at liberty to decline to enter upon the investigation asked for by the complainant.
Balloting at Special Meetings
From Vol. X, No. 3, January 1851, Page 69:
Jackson, Mich., Dec. 3, 1850.
Dear Sir and Brother: - As your opinion on Masonic questions is considered law in this part of the world, and knowing you are always ready and willing to diffuse light and information to uninformed Brethren, I am induced to ask you the following questions :-
In the first piace I will give you all the law of our Grand Lodge in relation to the matter. Article vi., Sect. 2, reads –
"No candidate for Masonry shall be proposed and balloted for at the same meeting nor balloted for at any other thhn a regular communication, unless every member of the Lodge shall have been notified of such meeting."
Is it necessary for a Master, in calling a special meeting, to state in the notification all the business that he may think is necessary to be transacted at said meeting?
I am well aware that if the Lodge was summoned for a particular purpose, we could do no business except that stated in the surnmons. In the case to whlch I refer, the summons merely stated that there would be a meeting of the Lodge. I am Master of the Lodge and summoned every Brother who could be found, without too much inconvenience. Some of our members are in California, and others live out of all reasonable distance; but there was no question in relation to this matter.
A single Brother, out of fortyfive present, thought, on the ballot being ordered to pass, that it could not be done, as the meeting was illegal, for the reason that the summons did not state that the mecting was called for balloting, although I informed the Brethren that balloting and work would be the principal business transacted. I am not favorable to many such meetings, but it was necessary in this case, for several reasons.
George F. Gardner.
Special meetings are frequently rendered necessary by pressure of business, or by circumstances not within the ordinary control of the Lodge. But they are most usually required for the purposes of initiation, or the completion of unfinished work, as when the caudidate is about to leave the State, or to remove his place of residence to an inconvenient distance from where the Lodge is held. The unnecessary multiplication of them has, however, always been discouraged by the usages and regulations of Masonry. They are liable to abuse, and may be made subservient to unworthy purposes. The Grand Lodges have, therefore, generally deemed it wise to place them under greater restrictions than are usually imposed upon the ordinary stated meetings. One of these restrictions is, that a candidate shall not be proposed at a special meeting; another is, that he shall not be initiated at a special meeting, unless he has been proposed, stood the required time, and been admitted at a previous regular meeting. (That these requirements are sometimes suspended by dispensation from the proper authorities, does not affect the rule, as a regulation.)
The object proposed by these restrictions, is the better security of the Lodges against the admission of improper candidates. The members residing at a distance from the Lodge, generally attend the regular meetings as a matter of duty, and the special meetings as may suit their convenience. It is at the former that the regular business originates. Candidates are proposed, admitted, and initiated,- the officers, are elected, and the important business of the Lodge transacted, at the stated meetings, The members understand and expect this. If therefore they do not attend, and tho business does not go to their liking, the fault, to the extent of their influence, is their own, and not that of their fellows. On the contrary, special meetings are called by the Master, and frequently for purposes which can be known to the members only as communicated by him. Hence the usages of the Fraternity require that the business to be transacted at such meetings shall be stated in the summons or notification, and that none other shall be entered upon. Where this course is strictly pursued, there can be no just cause of complaint on the part of any member. All are fully informed of the business to be done, and if any neglect to give it their personal attention, they do so at their own risk.
The article quoted by our correspondent from the Constitution of his Grand Lodge, is not sufficiently explicit for an organic law; but we are inclined to think that it was intended by its framer, to require that the names of candidates for initiation at special meetings, should be borne on the summons, or notification, for the information of all the members.
We can hardly admit the propriety of the distinction made by our correspondent, between special meetings where the business is stated on the notices, and those where it is not, We prefer the broader and safer ground, that no business can be properly transacted except that named in the notifications. This is the only safe rule, and it is most consistent with established usage.
We entertain no doubt that the meeting was legally notified. The regulation of the Grand Lodge, as cited by our correspondent, does not specify in what manner the meetings of the Lodge shall be called, nor does it provide that the names of the candidates shall be inserted on the notifications. The meeting in guestion was summoned in the usual manner. The only doubt, therefore, is, as to what business could be legally transacted. We have already stated the general rule in such cases, namely, that the members shall be notified of the particular business to come before the Lodge. In the present case, notice of the balloting was verbally given by the Master; and, although we regard this method of giving such notices, as essentially objeetionable, yet, if it were given to all the members who are usually summoned to attend the meetings, we cannot doubt that the intention of the general rule for the government of such proceedings. was answered, and that the balloting was legal, If, however, only a part of the members were so notified, the proceeding was not in conformity with correct Masonic usage, although there is nothing in the terms of the iocal regulation of the Grand Lodge, to render it illegal.
Expulsions and Restorations
From Vol. X, No. 4, February 1851, Page 97:
PROCEEDINGS AND POWERS OF GRAND AND SUBORDINATE LODGES IN CASES OF EXPULSION AND RESTORATION.
A correspondent Proposes the following inquiries, on which he requests our opinion:-
- If a Lodge expels a member by erasing his name from the rolls as such, and the Grand Lodge restores said member to the general privileges of Masonry, the Lodge however still sustaining in force its sentence of expulsion from membership and the priaileges of its body, can that Lodge afterwards and under these circumstances, exercise any further jurisdiction over said expelled member? Or, in other words, can a Lodge, a second time, try or exercise any further jurisdiction over a Mason, who stands already expelled, upon her records, his name erased from her rolls, and he deprived of the privileges of a member of her body, in consequence of said expulsion, although restored to the general privileges of Masonry by the Grand Lodge?
- If a Lodge pass a sentence of definite suspension upon a Brother, is it not bound to fix the time of said suspension?
- Has said Lodge any right to leave to the Grand Lodge the limitation of said suspension?
- Has the Grand Lodge any right to pass sentence or fix the penalty, for any Masonic offence which his not been tried in its body?
- Is it usual to use the secret ballot in taking the vote of the Lofge, or members, upon the sentence of a Brother for Masonic ofence?
1. Our eorrespondent has embarrassed his first inquiry, by assuming positions which are not admissible. If we understand the ground he takes, it is, that although the Grand Lodge may restore an expelled Brother, the action of the subordinate Lodge is not affected thereby, and the delinquent still remains expelled, so far at least as the Lodge itself is concerned. This is not so. When an expelled Brother has been restored by the Grand Lodge, the previous action of the subordinate Lodge is rendered void and of no effect. Its decision is reversed, and the delinquent is reinstated in his standing as a Mason, In other words, the effect of the action of the Grand Lodge is to restore hirn to the position which he occupied as a Mason, before he was expelled by the Subordinate Lodge. It does not, under the usual practice in this country, reinstate him as a member of the Lodge; because, it is generally conceded that the Lodges should be left free to determine for tbemselves whom they will have for members. Any more stringent rule than this would be liable to destroy the harmony and good fellowship which are essential to their prosperity. Under the English practice, however, the act of restoration by the Grand Lodge, both in cases of expulsion and suspension, restores the delinquent to all the privileges which he previously enjoyed, including his membership. But it is, at least, very questionable whether a Grand Lodge is within the line of its duty, when it attempts to force an offensive member into any Lodge under its jurisdiction. This is not, however, the practice in this country; and as there is no probabilitv that it will ever find favor here, we need not discuss it further.
From the foregoing remarks, our correspondent will perceive that our position is, that after an expelled member has been restored by the Grand Lodge, the action of the Subordinate Lodge does not continue in force against him, further than it may deprive him of the privileges of actual membership. In all other respects, he stands upon a level with the rest of his Brethren, and is entitled to all the immunities which non-affiliated Masons may rightfully claim and enjoy. He is also subject to the same liabilities, and may be proceeded against, for delinquencies or breach of regulations, under the general laws of the Fraternity, precisely as though his integrity had never been called in question. The Lodge of which he was formerly a member, has the same control over him that it has over all non-affiliated Brethren residing within its jurisdiction. The record of expulsion has been cancelled by the action of the Grand Lodge. It is a nullity; and should be so doclarerl by a counter-record of his restoiation by the superior authority. The Lodge may, therefore, arraign and try him a second time, if he be guilty of a second offence against the laws of Masonry. It cannot, however, arraign him a second time on the charge of which he has alreadv been declared innocent by rhe appellate power. Masonry does not recognize the principle of vindictiveness; nor may its judicial authority be perverted to the purposes ofoppression, or the gratification of an angry spirit.
2. A sentence of suspension cannot be said to be "definite," which leaves unfixed and indefinite the time for which it is to continue. That cannot be "definite" which is indeterminate, and without fixed limits. If the Lodge, therefore, passed its sentence in the terms given by our correspondent, it acted iaconsistently. And this is all that need be said in answer to this inquiry.
3. If the Lodge left the "limitation" of the suspension to be fixed by the Grand Lodge, its action was indefinite. We think it was also wrong. An indefinite suspension is equivalent to an expulsion. If the accr:sed had been guilty of an aggravated offence, such as properly subjected him to the highest penalty known to Masonic law, that penalty should have been imposed upon him. lf, on the contrary, his delinquency was not of an aggravated character, but such as would justify only a minor penalty, the Lodge was not at liberty, through a technical evasion, to visit him with the higlhest puniAhment in the pwer of Masonic law to impose.
The action of the Lodge was incorrect in another point of view. Its final decision was defective,- the sentence was incomplete. It left the extent of the punishment to be determined by a body that had not as yet any authority in the case. The Grand Lodge has appellate, not original jurisdiction, in the proceedings instituted by its subordinates against delinquent members. It can take cognizance of such cases, only when brought before it by appeal, or submitted for confirmation. It was therefore the dury of the Lodge that tried the case to award the punishment. It was the only body in possession of the testimony, and the only tribunal competent to render a just and equitable verdict. If the case be carried up to the Grand Lodge for the purpose indicated, that body will undoubtedly remand it back to the Subordinate Lodge, with instructions to return a verdict proportioned to the offence and in accordance with the evidence.
4. The Grand Lodge has an inherent as well as a constiturional right to consider and determine all matters and things that may be lawfuliy brought before it. It is the ultimate power, and from its decisions there is no appeal. It will not, however, assume to "fix the penalty for any offence", of the nature and extent of which it has not taken the proper measures to inform itself.
But the terms in which our correspondent proposes this quesrion, do not convey his meaning. This we gather from his privaie note, in which he says - "I have entertained the opinion that tbe powers of the Grand Lodge extend only to confirming or reversing the sentences of its subordinates for Masonic offences, or referring back, and granting a new hearing."
The right of appeal to the Grand Lodge, from the decision of the Subordinate Lodge, in cases of discipline, is guarantied to every Mason, by the ancient usages and laws of the Fraternity; and this right supposes the existence of a power in the Grand Lodge to confirm, modify, or reverse the decision of the subordinate. In this it acts upon the same principle that governs all judicial proceedings, and only exercises a power conceded to all appellate bodies. As the supreme authority within a given jurisdiction, its decisions are final; but, if the view taken of the subject by our correspondent were correct, it would possess a mere negative upon the proceedings of its subordinates, and there would be no ultimate power competent to give a final decision in any case whatever. Suppose, tn a matter of discipline, where the subordinate Lodge had exceeded its authority, tbe Grand Lodge should order the case back; and the Lodge, on the same evidence, should, as it wouid be most iikely to do, come to the same decision as before, - which should recede, the Grand Lodge or its subordinate? If neither saw fit to yield to the other, the case might be held in abeyance to the end of time. There is no such principle in Freemasonry. The Grand Lodge is the supreme and final power, and to its decisions the subordinate Lodges within its jurisdiction must submit, or all government is at an end.
Our correspondent is mistaken in his supposition that the Grand Lodge fixes the penalty in cases that have "not been tried in its body." In all cases of appeal, the record of the trial is introduced; the parties are allowed a rehearing, either in person or by counsel, and, if desired, the witnesses are cited to appear, and are again examined in the presence of the Grand Lodge, or a commission appointed from its own body for the purpose. There can be nothing more equitable and just to the parties than this. A new trial in effect takes place, and the Grand Lodge is put in possession of all the facts and testimony in the case.
It is not unusual, where the proceedings are defective, and there is no appeal pending, to remand the case back to the Lodge, with instructions. But this is never done where the rules of proceeding have been carefully observed, and a proper verdict rendered. To refer the case back, on an appeal, with instructions to reverse a verdict once solemnly rendered, is to require the members of the Lodge to do an act, which a sense of duty to their obligations may not approve. The presumption always is, that the members have acted in view of the solemn obligations resting upon them as men and Masons, and have come to a decision which they believe to be demanded by the testimony. They may have erred, and their decision may be wrong. But it is not advisable, nor is it expedient, for the Grand Lodge, even though it possess the power, to require them to return a verdict against their own convictions of right and duty. It therefore takes the case into its own hands; or, as it properly may do, refers it to another Lodge for re-examination, reserving to itself the right of final revision and confirmation. This power it oughr never to divest itself of, nor delegate to another.
5. The usual method of voting, in cases of discipline, is by calling the names of the members, and recordinq their answers. This is the preferable way. Another method is by requiring the members to rise, and stand until counted. We heve never known the secret ballot to be used in such cases, and do not think favorably of that method of taking the vote. The whole matter, however, is a subject of local regulation.
Proposal of Minors
From Vol. X, No. 7, May 1851, Page 200:
"Br. Moore, - Can a petition be received by a Lodge, before the petitioner arrives at the age of twentyone, provided he arrives at that age before the next regular meeting?"
The candidate cannot be received before he is of the full age of twentyone years. His age is required to be stated in the petition. This is the general rule. If the petition states the age of the applicant to be under twentyone years, the Lodge cannot, in strict propriety, entertain it.
Cases like this stated by our correspondent are not unusual. But the Lodges have a way of getting over the difficulty, without running counter to the spirit, though they do not strictly conform to the letter of the petition. The intention of the regulation is that the candidate shall at the time of his initiation be of "lawful age;" which, in this country, is twentyone years. If this be enforced, the law is fulfilled. The proposing of the candidate at an earlier period does not impair it. The difficulty lies in the phraseology of the petition, alone. How far that may be obligatory on the action of the Lodges, it is not necessary to discuss. It is sufficient that it is the established form, and is generally respected, and required to be signed by the candidate before he is balloted for. The manner of obviating the difficulty is, by a member, acting for him, proposing his name, verbally, to the Lodge, and becoming responsible that the requirements of the By-Laws shall be complied with, in due time. This proposition is received and referred. At the ensuing meeting, and before the report of the Committee is received, or balloting ordered, the petition, signed by thy candidate, is presented and read. He being then of the proper age, the objection is removed.
From Vol. X, No. 7, May 1851, p. 230:
"The Grand Lodge of Vermont, at its late annual communication, adopted the following report and resolution on the right of private ballot We belive the resolution to be based on correct principles, and therefore take pleasure in transferring it to our pages:—
"To the M. W. Grand Lodge of Vermont: — The Committee to whom was referred that part of the Grand Master's Address which relates to the right of private ballot, and which states a case where a Brother stated he should oppose the admission of the petitioner, but refused to give his reasons therefor, and asks, 'Can his Lodge deal with him for this, or in any legitimate way interfere to prevent the carrying out of his avowed intentions?' respectfully report—
"That we fully coincide in the decision of the Grand Master upon this subject, and recommend the adoption of the following resolution :—
"Resolved, That no secular Lodge has the right to interfere with the right of private ballot, when exercised by one of its members; that if a Brother chooses to avow his hostility to a petition, and,does not disclose his reasons therefor, he stands in the same position as if he had cast a black-ball, and his reasons cannot be demanded by his Lodge ; nor can they in any way deal with him for so doing. Should he voluntarily state his reasons, then he makes them the property of the Lodge, who, in that case only, have the right to judge of their Masonic validity. Respectfully submitted.
Philip C. Tucker, Jr.,
Isaac T. Parish, Jr.
"We have heard it suggested that, possessing the right of secret ballot, any member, from revenge or other improper feeling towards the Lodge, or its officers, might prevent the admission of any candidates whatever; and thus cripple, if not ultimately destroy the Lodge. But this is a kind of 'special pleading,' or a 'begging of the question,' which is not entitled to much respect, as a matter of argument. When such a case occurs, it will be time enough to look for the remedy. If the reason urged be worth any thing, in this particular, it will hold equally good."
Varying Rites; Vouching For Visitors
From Vol. X, No. 9, July 1851, p. 257; some preliminary portions of the letter have been excluded:
Chicago, Ill., May 19, 1851.
R. W. Charles W. Moore,
Dear Sir and Brother :-
Situated as we are here, we have frequent applications, from foreign Masons, for admission into our Lodges, more particularly from German and French Masons. They generally bring Diplomas from the "Grand Council of the 33d and last degree of the Scotch rite," if I can fully understand and interpret them. I would therefore wish to know -
- Whether we as Masons of the York rite, can fellowship with those of the Scotch rite - that is, can we admit them into our Lodges?
- Again - can a ballot be reconsidered or cast again at a subsequent meeting, if the Brother who cast the black ball, being convinced of his error, so desires it?
- Finally - what constitutes an avouchment? When a Brother vouches for another out of the Lodge room, is that sufficient evidence to warrant his admission into a Lodge?
We require here, the vouching to be done in open Lodge, by one who has sat in Lodge with the applicant. Are we right?
Please excuse my troubling you with these questions, but there are different opinions in regard to them here, and your decision would be conclusive hereafter.
Fraternally yours, J. H. Bird.
l. The whole series of foreign rites, known under various names, is an excresence on the Masonic Institution; but it is one not easily to be got rid of. On the continent of Europe, it has so thoroughly grafted itself upon the body as to become, if not a homogeneous part of the system, so identified with it that the two are inseparable. In this country, as in England, we are differently situated, and are, in a great measure, free of the corruption and its influences. And our earnest and devout aspiration is that the exemption may long be continued to our Brethren here. We have seen and know enough; if its disturbing influences to wish to avoid it.
There is but one true and legitimate rite known to "ancient Freemasonry" - namely, the York rite. All others are of modern invention, and owe their origin almost exclusively to continental Europe, principally France and Germany. The York rite is so called from the circumstance that the first general assembly of Masons in modern times was held at city of York, in England, in the year A, D. 926. It was composed of Brethren from all parts of Europe. The ancient ritual was there revised - the old Constitutions and Charges collated, and one uniform code of general laws and observances adopted for the future regulation and government of the Fraternity. And as it is for the interest of the whole Institution, so it is the part of wisdom for all its true friends to endeavor to preserve and perpetuate to future times, as far as may be practicable, the system of government and ceremonies there promulgated. If these have heretofore been preserved anywhere, it is reasonable to suppose that it has been done in the English Lodges, which are the immediate descendants of the York Grand Lodge, or Assembly, and the depositaries of their and laws.
From that source has all the substantial Masonry in this country been derived. That it has here been faithfully preserved in a higher degree of purity, is manifest from the general agreement which subsists between the Masonry of the two countries, That the hand of change, perhaps of innovation, has been at work in both countries, is probably true, to some extent; but that the essentials of the ritual, the laws and usages remain, substantially, in both, as they were delivered to us by our Brethren at York, more than nine hundred years ago, is susceptible of the clearest demonstration. Not so on the continent of Europe. There everything appertaining to ancient Masonry has undergone change, which have nearly destroyed its identity. The laws, usages, and ritual, have all been modernized, nationalized, falsified - added to or subtracted from - often rendered ridiculous, if not scandalous. Yet, for all this there is now no remedy. The evil is too strongly fastened upon us - too powerful and too general to be removed, without destroying the universality and unity of the Institution. It may be restricted, - confined to its present limits, - but it must be tolerated. This has long been the judgment of the Masonic world. Hence it is, that so much of the essentials being preserved as to enable them to prove themselves to be Masons, Brethren of all rites, from whatever country they may come, are received and acknowledged by the Lodges of all rites, in all countries.
2. There is no such thing as reconsidering a ballot taken on the admission of a candidate, When once cast it is final, and must stand, unless the Brother casting it becomes convinced of his error before the Lodge is closed; in which case he may, with the consent of the Lodge, change his vote. But the Lodge having been once closed, the only relief is in a new proposition. If a ballot may be reconsidered in one case and for one reason, it may be done in another case and for a different reason. It is too important a measure to be left to any uncertainty. No harm can result to the candidate from a temporary delay; but much injury nay accrue to the Lodge from the influence of a dangerous precedent or precipitate action.
3. The regulation of 1723, on the subject of admitting visitors, is as follows:
"No visitor, however skilled in Masonry, shall be admitted into a Lodge, unless he is personally known to, or well vouched and recommended by, one of that Lodge present."
The provisions of this regulation are - first, that the visitor must be "personally known to some Brother present to be a Mason; or, secondly,that he shall be "well vouched for and recommended by" a member of the Lodge who is present. The Brother who vouches for him must therefore be present, and know him to be a Mason, either from personal examination, (which ought always to be conducted in the appropriate place and manner, that is, in the preparation or some other convenient room connected with the Lodge); or, from having sat in a Lodge with him. It is not sufficient that some Brother in the street has told him that the visitor is a Mason. He must be able to state the fact to the Lodge, from personal knowledge. This knowledge he can acquire only in one of the two ways indicated. We are aware that a loose practice prevails in this respect, to some extent, in all parts of the country; but this cannot change the rule. That must stand just as it is; and all departures from it, are departures from correct Masonic usage.
Privileges of Chapter Past Masters
From Vol. X, No. 9, July 1851, Page 260:
San Francisco, April 14, 1851.
Charles W. Moore, Esq.
Dear Sir and Brother-I take the liberty of writing to you and asking your opinion, as you fully know how highly your opinion is esteemed and considered as authority, respecting all matters connected with Masonry. I will try to relate the matter just as it happened.
A Brother, having the degree of Past Master, as conferred by a Chapter, was in California Lodge, No. 1, in this place, and in the absence of the Master and Senior Warden elect, called to preside, and open the Lodge; which he accordingly did, in conformity with the usages and landmarks of our Order. At the next meeting, this matter was discussed, and at last it was moved, that the whole proceedings of the preceding meeting be erased from the minutes of the Lodge, that meeting being considered illegal; which motion, however, was not carried.
As this matter is rather of inrportance to Masonry, you will please give me your opinion in regard of the subject, or if you prefer, you may as well answer it through your valuable Magazine, and you may rely that your opinion in this, as well as in all other matters concerning Masonry, will guide me and thousands of others. The questions are :-
- Is a Past Master, made in a Chapter, competent to preside over a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons?
- If not, then I ask why is a Master Mason, being elected Master of a Lodge, obliged, before he is able to preside over a Lodge, to take the Past Master's degree? which seems to indicate that only that degree entitles him to the privilege of presiding over a Lodge.
- If in open Lodge the Master invites Past Masters to approach and take seats in the East, is it understood that only Past Masters elect, are meant, or are Past Masters by Chapter degrees also entitled to the same privilege?
By answering these questions you.will greatly oblige many Masons and especially
Your most obedient servant
The mere fact of having received the Past Master's degree in a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, of itself, confers no privileges on the recipient that can be made available to him in a Blue Lodge. When so conferred, it is as a preparatory degree, and is intended only to qualify the recipient for admission to the higher degrees of the Chapter. The Royal Arch degree was originally conferred under the authority of a Lodge warrant, and was restricted to actual Masters of Lodges. On the establishment of Chapters, as separate and independent organizations; or, in other words, when the G. Lodges surrendered the control which they had originally possessed over the Royal Arch degree to the Chapters, they also, by inference if not in terms, conceded the right to the Chapters to confer the Past Master's degree as preparatory to the Royal Arch rlegree; but they did not concede to the Chapters the right to control, or in any manner to interfere with the organization or the government of the Lodges; nor did they surrender any of their own inherent rights over the degree.
The Past Master's degree is a part of, and is included in, the ceremony of the installation of the presiding offcer of a Lodge of Master Masons, and has no necessary connection with either of the superior degrees conferred in the Chapter. The Royal Arch degree was, from the beginning, and is at the present time, regarded by our English Brethren, as the completion of the Master's degree, and was originaliy restricted to the actual Masters in Masonry or those who had proved themselves by their proficiency and skilfulness in the practical duties of their art or profession, qualified to instruct and govern a Lodge of their Brethren. To continue this restriction after the separate organization of Chapters, was of course impracticable. The Lodges did not furnish material enough to enable the Chapters to sustain themselves. They therefore conceded, or the Chapters assumed, the right to confer the degree, as before stated. But the concession does not carry with it any of the privileges which by inherent usage belong only to the actual Past Masters of Lodges. In England, and in some sections of our own country, Past Masters are enrolled and admitted as members of the Grand Lodge. If the Past Masters who are made in the Chapters acquire, through such making, any part of ttre privileges which inure to actual Past Masters, by virtue of their past official rank, they acquire and may rightfully claim to share in the unrestricted enjoyment of the whole.
No Brother among us will for a moment admit that the Chapters possess the power to create members of the Grand Lodges. But he must necessarily admit this, if he claims for the Past Masters of the Chapters the right to preside, as such, in the Lodges; because, that right is one of the privileges which are derived immediately from the authority of the Grand Lodges, and cannot be *separated from its class. The Grand Lodges can make no such distinction as would be necessary in such a case. By the ancient usages of Masonry, a Past Master is one, who, having been duly elected and installed, has served a constitutional term aF Master of a subordinate Lodge under the jurisdiction of some Grand Lodge. Such, alone, are entitled to the rank and priviieges of Past Masters. The Past Masters made in the Chapters are not such. They have never been elected to preside over a Lodge of Master Masons, in the true and only legitimate meaning of the words. Chapters have no power to establish or open such Lodges. They do not claim to possess or exercise it. They confer the degree for a definite and limited purpose; and the act carries with it nothing beyond what is necessary to the attainment of that purpose.
In the case stated by our correspondent, the Junior Warden, in the absence of his senior offieers, should have taken the chair. If he felt himself incompetent to discharge the duties of the Master, it would not have been contrary to usage had he invited any qualified Brother present to act for him, and under his direction as the presiding officer of the Lodge. If an actual Past Master were present, the privilege of presiding - the Junior Warden waiving his own right, - belonged to him, by the laws and usages of Masonry. The Brother who was called to preside, possessed no rights or qualifications, in virtue of his having received the Past Master's degree in a Chapter, above any other member of the Lodge, or visitor present. Acting, however, at the request of the Lodge, and under the sanction and direction of the Junior Warden, whom we suppose to hare been present, and was, in reality, the presiding officer, the Lodge wae right in not "erasing the proceedings as illegal," though they were not altogether so regular as they should have been, and are not to be reeeived as a precedeot for future proceedings.
We believe the above remarks answer all the inquiries proposed by our correspondent, though we have not considered them with direct reference to the order in which they are stated. The corollary is -
- A Brother having received the Past Master's degree in a Chapter, is not such a Past Master as is contemplated by the regulations of the Grand Lodges, or the ancient usages of Masonry, and does not, therefore, possess the qualifications, and is not entitled to the privileges, of past presiding officers of Lodges.
- The Past Master's degree was originally an element in the ceremony of the installation of the Master of a Lodge. It is so regarded by our English Brethren at the present day. It is not, indeed, considered by them in the light of a degree; but as a part of the installation service, which it undoubtedly is. It therefore follows, that as a Master cannot properly preside over his Lodge before he has been installed into his office, he is necessarily and properly required to receive what is now termed the Past Master's degree.
- Past Masters made in Chapters are not properly included in the invitation usuaily given by the Master, in the manner referred to by our correspondent.
Fellow Craft Lodges
From Vol. XI, No. 4, p. 108:
A correspondent proposes the following inquiries:
What officers compose the Fellow Craft Masons Lodge? Some intelligent Masons contend for the Senior and Junior Deacons, while others contend for the Treasurer and Secretary, being the next officers in rank after the J. Warden. The others contend that the Treasurer and Secretary are modern officers.
The necessary officers of a Lodge of F. C. are the Master, Wardens, and Deacons. The Treasurer and Secretary are officers of convenience, and not of necessity, in opening or working a Lodge. On first introduction of Masonry into this country, the Master was the Treasurer. At a later period the two offices of Secretary and Treasurer were frequently filled by the same Brother.
Installation of Officers of a Lodge Under Dispensation
From Vol. XI, No. 4, p. 108:
A correspondent proposes the following inquiries:
There is also a difference of opinion among Brethren in this State, as to whether it is proper to install the officers of a Lodge or Chapter working under Dispensation?
From Vol. XI, No. 6, p. 161:
A correspondent in Mississippi comrnunicates the foilowing interesting case which came up for consideration before the Grand Lodge of that State, at its recent annual communication :-
"A question came up for action which was new to me, and I presume to most of the members. A Brother, a member of a Lodge in this jurisdiction, removed to Alabama, without demitting from the Lodge here. While there he became involved in a difficulty with a Brother; on account of which, charges were preferred against him, before the Lodge in his then place of residence. A Committee was appointed to investigate the subject, who reported that the charges were frivolous; ad the Brother, considering the matter settled, removed back into this jurisdiction.
After he had been here several months, had attended the Grand Lodge, and had been elected an officer, he received a summons to attend a trial in the Alabama Lodge, Believing the matter to have been once settled, and that he was beyond the jurisdiction of the Lodge in Alabama, he refused to attend, and was suspended by that Lodge for contempt in not obeying the summons. Notwithstanding this suspension, the Lodge in this State continued to recognize him. For so doing the Lodge in Alabama entered a complaint before our Grand Lodge. The subject was referred to a special Committee. A majority of this Committee reported in favor of allowing the jurisdiction of the Alabama Lodge - a minority against it. The latter report was laid on the table, and the majority report adopted.
The whole subject was afterwards reconsidered and a resolution adopted, (as a substitute), memorializing the Grand Lodge of Alabama to reinstate the Brother, and instruct her subordinate Lodge to send the case to the Lodge in this State for trial on its merits. I should like to have your opinion in the Magazine on the question of jurisdiction.
We should be the more happy to gratify our correspondent, and to discuss the interesting questions involved in the foregoing case, had he stated the facts with sufficient care and fulness to enable us to do so understandingly. But there are several important omissions, either one of which might materially change the course of the argument and vary the result. It is said that the Committee to whom the charges were originaily referred for investigation, reported that they were frivolous. But was the case, on that report, dismissed by the Lodge? If so, there was an end to it, and the defendant was free to go where he pleased, untainted by the accusations on which he had been thus arraigned and acquitted. Assuming this to be the case, it was not competent, the defendant having left its jurisdiction, for the Lodge to renew or again to entertain the charges against him; because, if such a proceeding were allowable, there would be no security for an absent Brother, and a wide door rvould be thrown open to malevolence and persecution. It is a wise and humane rule of the civil law, that "no person shall be held to answer on a second indictment, for any offence, of which he had been acquitted by the jury, upon the facts and merits, on a former trial;" and in judicial proceedings he may plead such acquittal in, bar of any subsequent prosecution for the same offence.
Our correspondent does not say, though such is the inference flom his statement, that the summons, for contempt of which the pending complaint is preferred against the Brother, was to answer to the original charges, on which, we have assumed, in the absence of the needful information, he had been once arraigned and discharged. If the facts be as we have stated them, then we are of opinion that the Lodge exceeded its powers; and that the Brother, though bound to respect regular summonses, cannot be held to answer in the present case, because the summons was issued in an irregular and improper manner. But, on the other hand, if the case had not been fully dismissed, but was before the Lodge when the defendant changed his residence, then the summons was correctly and lawfulty issued, and the Lodge was at liberty to proceed with the case ex parte and render a verdict on the facts the evidence before it.
If a contrary rule were admissable, it would be very difrcult indeed, and frequently impossible, ever to call a large class of Masonic delinquents to any account for their misdoings, or to protect the Institution against the reproceh arising from their connection with it. We mean that class of itinerant vagabonds who live by their depredations on society, and from whom, we regret to be obliged to say, the Masonic Fraternity, if it has not its full share, is not entirelv exempt. Having no fixed and permanent residence, one location is as agreeable to them as another. If detected in crime and summoned to appear before the Lodge in one place, (admitting their absence to be a bar to the continuance of the prosecution,) it would only be necessary for them to remove to another place, beyond the proper jurisdiction of the Lodge, to stay all proceedings against them. 'fhus they would be left unrestricted in their privileges, and free to continue their impositions on the Institution - not only to its pecuniary damage, but to its great prejudice in a moral sense. To avoid consequences like these, power has been vested in every Lodge to arraign and adjudge delinquents for offences committed within its jurisdiction; and this right cannot be voided or impaired by the removal of, the accused from beyond its lawful jurisdiction, after proceedings have been commenced.
And here an important distinction is to be observed. If the offence shall not have transpired, nor charges been preferred against the absentee, before his removal, then, and in such a case, if his present residence be known, and be within the jurisdiction of any Lodge qualified to take cognizance of the offence, it is not competent for the Lodge whose jurisdiction he has left, to summon him to answer before its own body, nor to entertain charges against him, further than to institute the necessary inquiries as to their probable truth, and the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain them on trial. Having satisfied itself in both these respects, it will, if the nature of the circumstances demand it, cause the charges and the testimony to be laid before the Lodge at or nearest the present residence of the accused for adjudication. (In this event, the case may, at the desire of the accused, be remanded back to the original Lodge for trial; because the accused may properly claim his privilege to meet and interrogate his accuser.)
The reasons on which this course of proceedings is predicated, are, first, that every Brother, absent as well as present, shall be equally protected against the embittered prejudices or malignant purposes of those who, acting under the influence of real or supposed grievances, may be unjustly prejudiced and evilly inclined towards him, -secondly, that he shall not be required, on the summons of a distant Lodge, to leave his home and his business, perhaps to his great personal detriment, to answer to charges, which, viewed in the aspect in which they are presented, may appear to be grave and serious; but which, in truth, may be wholly fictitious or frivolous: and, finally, that it shall not be in the power of his enemy, causelessly and unnecessarily, lo harrass and embarrass him. While he is thus protected, the interests of the Institution are also protected, and the ends of justice amply secured, The resolution finally adopted by tlre Grand Lodge of Mississippi, in the case under consideration, is in accordance with this view of the subject, though the facts may vary.
But, suppose the residence of the accused is not known? Such cases are of frequent occurrence, as well in Europe as in this country. They are however cases in which a cautious judgment and great care ought to be exercised; for no man, except from strong and urgent necessity, should be condemned without a trial, nor until full opponunity is afforded him to meet his accuser and answer to the allegations against him. And before this just and humane rule can be rightfully set aside, it must be shown that a strict observance of it, in the particular case under consideration, would be hazardous to the paramount interests of the Institution at large. One of the two classes of cases in which it has been considered allowable to set the rule aside, and impose the authorized penalty, on entirely ex parte testimony, is where an aggravated offence has been committed, and the delinquent has escaped to parts unknown. The other is, where a series of gross frauds has been practised by itinerant vagabonds, who, assuming to be Masons, live by their depredations on the charity funds of the Lodges and the sympathies of the benevolent. Without any fixed place of residence, these impostors cannot be reached in the ordinary way. In such cases, it has therefore been the practice of the Lodges, acting on the principle that self.preservation is the first law of nature, to proceed with the case, without reference to the absence of the accused, and to award punishment according to the facts and the evidence before them.
We regret that our eorrespondent has not been more full and precise in his statement of the facts in the foregoing case. It is an interesting one, and our answer might, had the facts been fully stated, have been more satisfactory than it is possible for us now to make it. The reasons which caused the delay on the part of the Alabama Lodge, are not given; but there is nothing more certain than that the accused is in all cases entitled to the earliest possible arraignment and trial. It is not just, nor is competent for the Lodge, to keep him in suspense as to the result, longer than is required by the positive necessities ol the case.
The propriety of this rule is forcibly illustrated in the case before us. Our correspondent informs us that after leaving his residence in Alabama, the Brother renewed his connection with his former Lodge in Mississippi; that he continued his active duties as a member in good standing, for several months; had attended the Grand Lodge of the State, and had been elected to an office in that body. And all this tinre he was probably under charges in the Alabama Lodge; though our correspondent is not sufficiently specific and clear in this respect. Had that Lodge pressed the charges to trial within a reasonable time, this state of things could have arisen, and the Lodge in Mississippi, and the Grand Lodge of the State, would have been relieved from their present embarrassment. But as we have before remarked, our correspondent has not stated the facts in the case with sufficient perspicuity and fulness to enable us to form a satisfactory judgment on its merits. He leaves us to too much conjecture and uncertainty.
Trial of Entered Apprentices
From Vol. XI, No. 7, p. 193:
The following inquiry was received some months since, but has been accidentally overlooked, until the present time. An answer, after so long delay, malube of no importance to our correspondent; but as it is possible that others, under similar circlrmstanced, may experience the embarassment of which he complains, a brief reply may not be wholly unprofitable: -
Hard Money, Georgia, Aug. 7, 1852.
Br. Moore : - I have seen in the MAgazine this question asked and answered: - Can an Entered Apprentice or a Fellow Craft be expelled? We have a case (E. A.) in our Lodge, and we found it a troublesome one on account of diferences of opinion as to the mode. We are a young Lodge, and the most of us young Masons, and we want to do things right, if we know how. This is a troublesome question here. We have consulted with a good many old and experienced Masons, and find amongst them, also, e variety of opinions. Your opinion upon the above question will be received by us as satisfactory and conclusive. By answering the above through the Magazine, (I have not seen in any of its numbers any thing upon it,) you will confer a favor on our Lodge, and I think advance the interest of the Craft generally.
Yours Fraternally, A Young Mason.
Among other equally crude and unauthorized theories which, within the last quarter of a century, have been attempted to be incorporated into the disciplinary code and recognized polity of Freemasonry in this country, is one based on the fallacious assumption that an E. A. is not a Mason, in the full and proper signification of the term, and cannot therefore, like Brethren of the superior degrees, be held amenable for infractions of the moral or civil code of the Order. Absurd and untenable as this assumption may appear, we have in past years seen it maintained with much earnestness, and that in quarters usually entitled to some respect. We believe it has now, however, been generally abandoned as indefensible, and that E. A. are admitted to hold the same relation and to rest under the same accountability to the general laws of the Institution, that are assumed by Brethren of advanced degrees. But be this as it may, our correspondent does not seem to entertain any doubts on this point, which demand a more particular consideration.
It will be seen that our correspondent has fallen into a very common error, of which we have heretofore frequently had occasion to speak; and we refer to it again, that Brethren who may hereafter wish to communication similar inquiries, may be as full, precise and accurate in their statements, as the nature of the case will allow.
Our Brother intimates that the difficulty under which his Lodge labors, arises from "the difference of opinion" which exists among the "many old and experienced Masons" who have been consulted "as to the mode" of proceeding; but he does not inform us whether this difficulty is one growing out of any particularities which are supposed to attach to the particular case under consideration, or whether it arises from a want of proper information as to the general mode of conducting penal cases. It can hardly be from the latter cause; because, it is not supposed that "old and experienced Masons" can be so wholly uninformed in respect to a practice of so long standing, and so universal in its general features, as to occasion them any serious embarrassment in its application. Besides, if we mistake not, the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of the State within which the Lodge referred to is located, prescribes "the mode" of proceeding in all general cases of discipline. The difficulty must, therefore, spring from some real or suposed peculiarities which, in the opinion of our correspondent and his Brethren, attach to the particular case before them. But all this is a matter of inference, into which our correspondent has needlessly forced us, and thus placed us in a dilemma hardly less embarrassing than that in which he finds himself, and from which he seeks to be relieved.
What then are these real or supposed peculiarities, which have given rise to "differences of opinion" among the "old and experienced Masons," whose advice has been sought by their younger Brethren of the Lodge?
Most of the Grand Lodges in this country have adopted as a Constitutional regulation for the government of their Lodges, that no business, other than that of initiation, shall be transacted by the Lodge while open on the first degree; the rule is equally stringent as to the second degree. And there is nothing more certain, than that an E. A. cannot be admitted into a Lodge while open on the third degree. It is the privilege of the accused to confront his accuser, and interrogate the witnesses. How then is an E. A. under charges, to be tried? And here, if our inference be correct, is the source of the embarrassment to which our correspondent refers.
There are two ways of meeting this apparent difficulty, both of which are practised, and to neither of which there can probably be no serious objection, as in either case entire justice is done to the accused, so far at least as the conduct of the trial is involved.
The first of these ways is, to refer the charges to a Committee for examination, with power to summon the parties and their witnesses. In this case, the interrogatories are proposed and answered in writing, signed by the witnesses, and attested by the Committee. The accused has also the privilege of addressing the Committee, and of making any written communication to the Lodge, which he may deem essential to his defence; or he ay claim the privilege of addressing the Lodge in session as hereafter indicated, either personally or by counsel. The testimony, and all accompanying papers, are reported to the Lodge (open in the third degree) by the Committee, and the case is disposed of on its merits.
The second method of proceeding is perhaps attended with less labor and inconvenience. In this case, the Lodge is summoned. The accused and the witnesses are also summoned, but remain in the ante-room, - except those of the latter who are members of the Lodge, - until their attendance is required. The Lodge is then opened in the third degree; none but members being present. (No person should be present during the trial, except the members, the parties, counsel or witnesses.) The preliminary arrangements for the trial having been made, the Masters' Lodge is temporarily suspended, or closed by proclamation, and the Lodge opened in the first degree, without ceremony - much after the manner in which the Lodge is frequently opened in the second degree, while engaged in the work of another degree. The parties and the witnesses are then admitted, and the trial proceeds. The examination having been completed, and the accused heard, either by himself or counsel, all but the members withdraw. The Lodge is then closed in the first degree, and the Masters' Lodge is resumed, or opened, without ceremony. The Lodge then deliberates and renders its verdicts as a jury, except that, besides determining the case, it awards the judgment. Votes are taken only when open in the third degree. The exclusive business before the Lodge when open in the first degree, is to hear the testimony and the arguments. No votes can be taken, or other business transacted, except that necessary for the preservation of order and the government of the proceedings.
We have said that when the examination of the witnesses is had before a Committee, the accuse may claim the privilege of addressing the Lodge in session. In this case, the Lodge is opened as above stated. Having made his address, the accused withdraws, the Lodge is changed to the third degree, and the case decided.
It will be perceived from the foregoing, that the Lodge, when open in the first degree, assumes much of the character of a legislative body in committee of the whole, except that it takes no votes on its proceedings. It merely acquires the information and testimony which are necessary for its action when open in the third degree. It does no final act whatever, All its business is preliminary to subsequent action, and when in a condition to act, that is, when open in rhe proper degree. The course here marked out does not therefore militate against the regulation that caused embarrassnrent to our correspondent and his Lodge.
Surrender of Charters (also Right of Private Ballot)
From Vol. XI, No. 8, p. 225:
Marion, Ala., April 13, 1852.
R. W. Br. Moore, Whilst writing, allow me to state a circumstance that happened at the last regular communication of our Lodge. From the novelty of the occurrence and the questions growing out of it, and for the good of the Craft, I should be pleased that you would express your opinion of the matter in the pages of your Magazine.
At the last regular communication, the petition of a worthy citizen came up and was balloted on. After two trials, the ballot was still foul - one black ball appearing each time.
Such was the worth of the applicant, so generally beloved and esteemed in the community, that there was one general expression of indignation throughout the Lodge - for we felt that if our friend was not worthy of Brotherhood, with us, we ourselves were unworthy of that high privilege.
On the spur of the moment, a Brother rose and moved that we surrender our Charter to the Grand Lodge. This was seconded by numerous voices, and the question was properly before the Lodge for debate. A few Brethren, equally indignant at the rejection of their friend, proposed to lay the rejection of the table, to be taken up at the next regular communication, and that, in the meantime, notice should be given that at said time the question to surrender the Charter would come up for consideration.
It was argued on the other hand, that inasmuch as the Constitution of the Grand Lodge contained no provision to meet an emergency of this kind; that as this was a regular communication, and that as the question affected the good of the Order, the Brethren present were competent to decide it.
Our Lodge numbers 65 members - 22 were present on the occasion - when the question came up, the ballot stood 19 to 3. The W. Master thereon declared that the motion to surrender the Charter had prevailed, at the Lodge was dissolved.
From these circumstances several questions affecting the good of the Craft arise:-
- Could the motion to surrender, no previous notice being given, come properly before the Lodge, as ordinary business?
- Could a majority of the whole Lodge surrender the Charter - so long as there were seven duly qualified Brethren desirous of retaining it?
The only article bearing upon the question is found in the Constitution of the Grand Lodge, Art. 4, Sec 20, as follows: -
"No Lodge shall be removed from the place where it is located, except by the consent of the Grand Lodge, upon a petition of a majority of the members of such Lodge, or by permission of the Grand or Deputy Grand Master, given upon like petition, in case of emergency, during the recess of the Grand Lodge."
Fraternally yours, D. Couch.
The proceedings in the above case were, in our view of the subject, hasty and ill-advised. The Brethren of the Lodge manifestly allowe themselves to be influenced more by the excitement of the occasion, than the convictions of a careful judgment; and hence, as a natural consequence, they hastened to a decision, without giving to the subject before them the consideration which its importance demanded. The circumstances of the case, as seen from the point at which they were viewed by the members of the Lodge, were undoubtedly of an aggravating character; but this fact, though it may, perhaps, furnish an apology, will scarcely afford a sufficient justification, for the precipitate action which ensued. It is a conceded truth, that in moments of excitement all men are liable to error. We think our Brethren erred in the case before us, and in accordance with this natural law. If we rightly comprehend the subject, they erred in several important particulars.
They seem to have overlooked, or not sufficiently to have regarded the fact, that the Brother who deposited the negative ballot, did so in the exercise of a lawful and constitutional right. He was in the discharge of the most important and responsible duty that could devolve upon him as a member of the Lodge. He was acting under the high moral responsibilities of his obligations, and was amenable only to his own conscience and convictions of duty. His Brethren were not at liberty to question his act or impugn his motives. The broad shield of Masonic privilege was over him, and this ought to have been his sufficient protection - not more from direct personal accountability, than from implied censure. It should have stayed further proceedings on the part of the Lodge. All had been done which the friends of the candidate were authorized by the regulations of Masonry to do; and here, in our judgment, the subject should have been allowed to rest. The proceedings had after it was clearly ascertained that a member of the Lodge objected to the admission of the petitioner, for reasons which he was not required, and did not think proper to divulge, were an implied, if not a direct censure upon the conduct of the dissenting Brother. This was not consonant with Masonic propriety or usage; neither was it consistent with a sound conservative policy. It was assuming what it was impossible for the Lodge to know, that the Brother had acted from improper motives and without justifiable cause. If such assumptions were allowable, they would at once destroy the conservatism, and with it the end contemplated by the private ballot. Indeed they would exclude the black balls from the ballot-box altogether; for few members would voluntarily subject themselves to the unjust suspicions or harsh censures of their Brethren, even in the way of duty, - much less would they willingly hazard the existence of their Lodge, by opposing the admission of any candidate, however unworthy. The only safe rule is, to respect the right of private ballot. Let that right be sacred, and leave the proper exercise of it to the conscience of every Brother, - presuming that if he stands alone among his Brethren in a negative position, he is influenced only by pure motives and considerations which delicacy of the ties of friendship forbid him to disclose. It may occasionally be abused, - it may have been abused in the case under consideration, but as a rule, it is sound, conservative, and Masonic. It is the flaming sword at the portal of our Lodges, and though it may sometimes exclude a worthy petitioner, it is the most efficient agent which the wisdom of our forefathers was able to devise "to keep the way of the tree," which they have transmitted to our care and culture.
But to the questions submitted by our correspondent. His first is - "Could the motion to surrender the Charter, no previous notice being given, come properly before the Lodge, as ordinary business?" To this question we give an unequivocal negative answer; and the presiding Master would have been sustained by his Grand Lodge had he declined to entertain it, as we should have esteemed it our duty to do. The motion contemplated the dissolution of the Lodge; and therefore presented one of the most important questions that could have been submitted for consideration. It was a subject in which every member, present and absent, had an equal interest, and on it an equal right to be heard. It is not competent for one-third or any number of members who may chance to be present at an ordinary meeting, to originate and carry through, without previous notice, any measure essentially affecting the rights of the absentees or the highest interests of the Lodge. Even an unimportant provision of the by-laws could not lawfully be changed under such circumstances, - much less could the Lodge be dissolved. If nineteen of sixty-five members possess the power to strike a Lodge out of existence, in a moment of excitement and without previous notice, five or seven members, assembled under like circumstances, may do the same act. The principle is affected by the number present, only so far as the number must be sufficient to open the Lodge. We think the Master should have ruled the motion out of order.
The second inquiry is as follows: - "Could a majority of the whole Lodge surrender the Charter, so long as there were seven duly qualified Brethren desirous of retaining it?"
We are not aware that this question has ever been agitated in this country, though it has been anticipated and is provided for by the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts; nor does any case occur to us where any serious difference of opinion has arisen among the Brethren, touching the expedience of surrendering the Charter of a Lodge. Such surrenders have rarely been voluntarily made, except under circumstances calculated to unite all of the members in the propriety and necessity of the measure. In such cases the Grand Lodges have not declined to accept the Charter. We are clearly of the opinion, however, that it is not competent for a majority of the members to dissolve the Lodge. The Grand Lodge of England holds the following doctrine on this subject, and we believe it to be sound and equitable. We quote from the Constitutions of that body: -
"As every warranted (chartered) Lodge is a constituent part of the Grand Lodge, in which assembly all the power of the Fraternity resides, it is clear that no other authority can destroy the power granted by a warrant. If, therefore, the majority of any Lodge should determine to quit the society, or that Lodge, the constitution, or power of assembling, remains with the rest of the members, who adhere to their allegiance. If all the members of a Lodge withdraw themselves, their warrant ceases and becomes extinct; and all the authority thereby granted or enjoyed, reverts to the Grand Master."
The corresponding regulation before referred to as contained in the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of this Commonwealth, after declaring the same principle, provides, that if the number of members remaining shall be reduced to less than seven, the Charter shall be returned to the Grand Lodge. This provision rests upon the assumption that at least seven members are requisite for the proper organization and working of the Lodge, and that when the number is further reduced, the Lodge cannot with propriety continue to exist.
The principle embodied by the Grand Lodge of England in the above article from its Constitution is, that the members have no power, by direct vote, to dissolve the Lodge; or in other words, to "destroy the power granted by a warrant," emanating from the Grand Lodge. It assumes that the authority which creates is alone competent to destroy. The Grand Lodge thus reserves to itself alone the right to determine when the warrant or Charter of a Lodge shall cease to exist; and this time it has declared by constitutional provision to be, when "all the members withdraw themselves" from it. The warrant then "ceases and becomes extinct." But so long as there shall remain a sufficient number of members to open and work the Lodge, the warrant remains with them. It is not therefore in the power of a majority, or any larger number of members, to dissolve the Lodge. If the majority are dissatisfied with their own proceedings, or with the course of the minority, they are at liberty to withdraw from the Lodge; but the warrant and its appertenances remain with those members "who adhere to their allegiance." And this seems to us to be a sound conservative regulation. While it does no injustice to the majority, it amply protects the minority in the rights and privileges and powers conferred by the warrant. It places it beyond the power of the former to dissolve the Lodge, with a view to its reorganization, with a selection of members - to the exclusion of the latter. And though such a course might be unmasonic, it is well to remember that Masons are but men. As already stated, the principle here set forth, is fully recognized by the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of this Commonwealth, and it is believed to be in accordance with the ancient and settled usage of the Order abroad. In this country there has probably never been occasion for its practical application At least we have no recollection of any case where the difference of opinion among the members of a Lodge, on a question of this kind, has been of so serious a nature as to call for the decision of the supreme authority. It is earnestly to be hoped, therefore, that whenever such a case may come up for action before any Grand Lodge, it will not be hastily decided. A bad precedent is always pregnant with mischief.
Suspension of By-Laws
From Vol. XI, No. 8, p. 229:
A correspondent asks, if it is competent for a Lodge to suspend its By-Laws? The suspension of a By-Law is the abrogation of it for the time being. The object of all By-Laws is to secure order and regularity in the proceedings. But they do not stop here. They are designed to protect the minority against the arbitrary acts of a majority, and to secure the rights of all the members, whether present or absent. If they may be suspended at the pleasure of the majority present, they fail of the purpose for which they are made. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has the following regulation on this subject, and it will probably answer the purpose of our correspondent's inquiry:-
Sec. 16. - No Lodge can suspend the operations of a By-Law, or at a special meeting, alter or expunge any part of the proceedings of a stated one.
Publication of Rejections
From Vol. XI, No. 9, p. 263:
"When a stranger desires to become a member of the Order, and the Order decide not to admit him, 'tis then we are commanded 'to keep the secret', to tell it not, lest we injure our fellow-man."
We find the above in the columns of The Odd-Fellow, a weekly paper published in this city - the character of which is indicated by its title. We infer that the declaration contained in the extract, is a rule of action in the society of whose principles the paper professes to be an exponent. It is no less a Masonic rule; but, unfortunately, like many other wholesome and just regulations, is not always not so generally honored in its observance as the exact rules of fidelity would seem to demand. We have heretofore discussed the propriety of publishing the names of rejected applicants for admission to our Lodges, and do not therefore propose to enlarge upon the subject now. The above paragraph accidentally fell under our eye, and we have thought it worth transfening to our pages, as showing how the subject is regarded by other than Masonic associations.
The publication of expulsions for unworthiness, or gross violations of Masonic duty, may be necessary for the information and protection of the Lodges in different sections of the country; and this, in a measure, is true in its application to suspensions. Expulsions and suspensions imply moral delinquency. But rejections are not necessarily the result of such delinquency, nor do they per se necessarily imply unworthiness on the part of the rejected. A petitioner of irreproachable character may be negatived by a member of a Lodge from motives entirely personal, and which, in no sense, affect his moral character or standing in the community. The rejection of a worthy candidate from such motives rnay be wrong; but it is a wrong for which no remedy exists. The fact is therefore to be taken as it stands. And the presumption is that so long as the opportunity to do the wrong rernains, the wrong will occasionally be done. Our duty is to circumscribe its operation within the narrowest possible limits. This is all we can do. It is all the peculiar nature of the case admits of, unless we break down one of the great conservative prineiples of our Institution, and abolish the secret ballot altogether. This we are not prepared to do, But it does not follow thai because we cannot prevent a wrong, we should magnify it when done. We cannot admit that either the Lodge, or the Grand Lodge, is in the way of irs dury, when it takes up the wrong-doing of an individual member, and, by giving it unnecessary strength and publicity, thereby inflicts a more grievious wrong on the innocent object of it. This is not in accordance rvith Masonic teachings, nor is it consistent with a wise policy.
But it is not our purpose to discuss the question, and we therefore leave it here, with the remark, that the object contemplated by the publication of rejections can be more effectually and equitably attained through private communications of the Lodges, and by a strict and rigid regard for jurisdictional rights. Let each and every Lodge refuse to entertain the petition of an applicant. residing out of its lawful jurisdiction, and apply to new residents the usual test, as in the case of visitors, there will be very liltle danger to be apprehended from imposition.
Staying Proceedings After Balloting
From Vol. XI, No. 10, p. 289:
Stetson, Maine, May 13, 1852.
C. W. Moore, Esq. - Dear Sir and Brother: A few weeks sinee the following case occurred in a subordinate Lodge in this vicinity. An application for the first degree in Masonry was duly made at a regular meeting, - the Committee of investigation appointed, who reported at the next regular raeeting, when, the constitutional time having elapsed, a balloting was had upon the application and declared clear. The candidate being in the vicinity, was immediately notified of his election, and conducted to the ante-room, and was prepared to take the degree; whereupon a Blother, not present at the balloting, appeared within the Lodge, claimed his right to throw a negative ballot, and protested against the degrees being conferred - stating that he had good and sufficient reasons for a rejection of the applicant.
The Master, after some discussion, decided that the ballot having been properly and constitutionally taken and declared elear, it was too late for the objecting Brother to avail himself of his negative, and accordingly conferred the degree of Entered Apprentice upon the candidate.
Upon this statement of facts, about which and the order of proceedings, I think there is no disagreement among the parties, considerable discussion has arisen anong the craft in this vicinity, and I have therefore made the statement and desire your opinion upon it.
It may be that the question has already been settled by you in your Magazine,- if so, you will please refer me to it in a private note; but if not, and you think it would have a tendency to diffuse light among those less learned, will you have the goodness to give us the benefit of your opinion at your earliest convenience.
Very respectfully and fraternally, Lewis Barker.
Oe of the greatest dangers to which voluntary associations are exposed, is that of the admission of uncongenial and unworthy members. To a want of proper care in this respect, more than to any other cause, is to be attributed most of the injury which, equally in a moral and social point of view, the Masonic Institution has sustained, at various periods, in the public opinion of this country, - where, probably more than in any other, the principles, and tendencies of all such societies, are estimated and determined by their visible influences, as manifested in the lives and conduct of their members, To this source may also be traced the origins of those discordant elements which have too frequently disturbed the harmony of our Lodges, marred their prosperity, and distracted the counsels of our supreme authorities.
The danger to be apprehended from this source, was correctly appreciated by the ancient fathers in Masonry, who laid the foundations on which the superstructure in its present form was erected. In their far-reaching wisdom, they were careful to provide and transmit to their successors wise and conservative laws and restrictions, as a protection against it; and as these are observed or disregarded, so will the danger be realized or averted.
Among the earliest written regulations that have been thus transmitted is one which declares, that "no man can be entered a Brother in any particular Lodge, without the unanimous consent of all the members of that Lodge then present, when the candidate is proposed, and when consent is formally asked by the Master." It will not be doubted, therefore, that, under this clear and emphatic rule, the objection of an individual member, offered either "when the candidate is proposed," or when the consent of the Lodge is "formally asked by the Master," - that is, when the ballot is taken,- is a full and conclusive bar to his admission. "Nor is this inherent privilege" says the regulation of, 1730, "subject to a dispensation." Hence it is an irrevocable right or privilege by inheritance, in every member of the Lodge. But the principle is so universally admitted, that any further discussion of it, might justly be regarded as an unnecessary labor.
We assume the proposition therefore as conceded, that any member of a Lodge may, by his individual act, prevent the admission of a candidate, if not when flrst proposed, then when the ballot is taken. Our correspondent asks, if a member possesses and may exercise this power, after the ballot has been declared? We think he does; but in a qualified form. It is most clear to our mind, that he cannot then "claim his right to throw a negative ballot"; because, the balloting having been closed, and the result recorded as the unanimous decision of "all the members then present", it cannot be again opened; without a reconsideration. This is not allowable. (If reconsiderations of this kind were permissible, tne negative of the dissenting members (if known,) would be of force only so long as he remained in the Lodge to protect and reaffirm it. It would open a wide door to mischievous practice and discord.)
It does not, however, follow as a necessity, nor as a consequence, that the work must proceed. This may be deferred by vote of the Lodge, or by the authority of the Master, without the concurrence of the Lodge. Cases might readily be cited where it would be the duty of the Master, under his obligations, to stay the proceedings, and, if need be, close the Lodge, against the unanimous decision of the members to the contrary. He is to protect the interests of his Lodge and the integrity of the Order, under all proper circumstances, to the full extent of his authority. This is an obligatory duty. He is not, therefore, at liberty to initiate an unworthy candidate, nor one whose moral character is credibly impeached at any moment prior to his reception, whatever may have been the previous action of his Lodge. To allow the reputation of the whole Fraternity, or the interests of his Lodge, to suffer, through timidity, favoritism or neglect on his part, would be a dereliction of duty, for which his Grand Lodge would hold him to a severe accountability, and for which any action of the Brethren associated with him, would furnish no sufficient justifieation.
The. dissenting Brother, therefore, in the case before us, had his remedy,- not through his ballot, for of that, and its exemptions, lre had failed to avail himself at the proper time, - but through the prerogatives and authority of the Master. He could not "appear within the Lodge and claim his right to throw a negative ballot," after the ballot had been once taken and the result recorded as the unanimous decision of the members. The question of admission was not then before the Lodge. It had been finally disposed of, and a motion for reconsideration could not properly be entertained by the chair. He nevertheless possessed the undoubted right, - and it was his duty,- "to protest," having "good and sufficient reasons" therefor, "against the degrees being conferred" on the candidate. But having, through his own tardiness or negligence, lost his privileges under the rule which governs the secret ballot, he was no longer the sole judge of the sufficiency of his own reasons.
The secret ballot is designed to secure entire immunity frcm personal responsibility. The member is not required to avow his objection, or give his reasons for his vote. He may not he questioned concerning it. Whenever it fails to afford this protection or whenever the circumstanees of the case are such as to render an avowal of the character of the vote neeessary, it ceases to be a secret ballot. 'l'be individual and his voice are both known. The ballot becomes an open one. And although at the proper time, and while the question is pending, a member may avow his vote without being required to give his reasons; yet when he comes forward, after the ballot has been recorded, and claims the right to negative the decision already had, the Lodge may properly demand that his reasons shall be made known. He cannot seek exemption from this requirement under the secret ballot for his claim does not come under that rule, The rule itself is not then in force. The question which he presents to the Lodge, is not whether the candidate shall be admitted, for that has been decided; but whether the balloting shall be re opened ; id est, will the Lodge reconsider? This question, if allowahle, would not fall within the rule. It presents a matter for debate - to be decided, like all other debatable questions, by the majority of the members.
We understand very well that in parliamentary practice, permission is frequently given to a member to record or change his vote (no objection being made,) after rhe question has been decided; but that vote can never reverse the entire, and otherwise unanimous action by the body. Parliamentary proceedings are not analogous to those of the Lodge, and the rules which govern legislative bodies cannot always apply in Mascnic practice.
The question before the Lodge had assumed a new and widely diferent aspect. It was no longer one of admission, but of initiation - of progress or recession. It was not a question which any one member could settle by an ipse dixit, however well founded it might be. The Brother had been compelled, by the nature of the circumstances, to make a personal and public avowal of his dissent. The protection of the secret ballot was abandoired as a necessity. He had coine before the Lodge on his reasons, and claimed the right to require that the unanimous decision of his Brethren should be set aside. They had a clearer and more equitable right to demand that his reasons for this extraordinary requirement should be given. Their sufficiency could only be determined when they were made known. The Master was not at liberty to nullify the united action of his Lodge, without being first put in possession of reasons therefor, sufficient for his justification before his Brethren and his Grand Lodge. He had, therefore, a clear and undoubted right to require, as a condition of his action in the premises, that the facts on which the dissenting Rrother had predicated his objections, should be communicated, under the proper sanctions, either to himself, as Master, to him and his Wardens, or to the whole Lodge, at the option of the Brother. If they were found to be sufficient to demand such an exercise of his authority, it then became the duty of the Master to stay the proceedings. His refusal to do so wouid warrant his presentment before his Grand Lodge for official delinquency. We are of opinion tha! the Brother could in no other way "avail himself of his negative."
Our personal experience furnishes us with an analogous case, - we believe there are none in the books. It occurred about the year 1822, in one of the oldest Lodges in this city. A person applied for the degrees, and, after the usual time, was balloted for and admitted. Before his introduction into the Lodge, a Brother came in and, by permission of the Master, made a statement, - not of what he knew, but of what had heard in the course of the day,- implicating the moral character of the applicant. The Brother was a reputable member of the Lodge, and his informant was equally entitled to respect. The proceedings were immediately stopped, and the candidate was so informed. The subject was placed in the hands of a Committee - the necessary inquiries were made - the statement ascertained to be true - and the petitioner was told he could not receive the degrees. The sequel is worth relating. The lesson it teaches is significant. The candidate was offended - avowed his determination to have the degrees - went the next day to New York and, under the loose practice of receiving sojourners, was initiated. He returned to Boston, a Mason! - took his family - went to New Orleans - and in less than one year thereafier, ran away - leaving a penniless wife and child on the hands of the Brethren in that city ! They were of course provided for and kindly sent back to their friends in Boston.
This occurred in one of the oldest Lodges in this country, and which probably numbered among its members - some of whom had been initiated in the last century-more old and experienced Brethren, than any other Lodge then in existence. No question whatever was made of the propriety of the proceeding. The case was disposed of is the manner stated; as a matter of course. And at this distant duy, we look back upon the prompt and decided action of this old and respectable Lodge, in a matter so unexpectedly brought before it, with the highest satisfaction, and with some personal pride that among such Brethren we learned our "first lessons" in Masonry. The decision was right. There is no better settled principle in Masonic government and practice, than that an unworthy man is not a proper subject for initiation. That such persons may not gain admission through the fears of the timid or the partialities of friendship, the members of every Lodge, equally in the individual and associate capacities, are vested with extraordinary powers, the free and irresponsible exercise of which is secured by extraordinary guarantees. To the same end also, the Master is clothed with powers more arbitrary than those of an oriental despot. He holds an absolute veto over the unanimous decisions of his Lodge; and this he is bound to exercise on all proper occasions. He may not, through fear or favoritism, withhold it, when it is clearly demanded by the interests of his Lodge, or the general welfare of the Order. It is placed in his hands as a conservative power, and he is amenable to his Grand Lodge alike for the neglect and abuse of it. It is one of the highest prerogatives of his office, and though the exercise of it may sometimes lie atteniled with unpleasant consequences, it is no more to be neglected on that account, than the performance of any other less disagreeable duty. The true Master in his chair can know neither parties, prejudices, nor favoritisms. He recognizes but one rule of action, and that fidelity to the laws of the Craft, and the duties of his place.
The corollary is - 1. That the ballot having been declared, the objecting Brother could not "claim his right to throw a negative ballot." 2. That he had a right to "protest against the degrees being conferred;" but that he was bound to give his reasons, in one of the forms indicated. 3. That if these reasons were found to be "good and sufficient"" it was the duty of the Master to stay the proceedings, until the proper investigations could be made.
Effect of Expulsion on Appendant Membership
From Vol. XI, No. 11, p. 319:
Cayuga, Miss., Jan. 1, 1852.
Comp. C. W. Moore - Dear Sir and Brother: - I am requested by some of the Brethren here, to ask your opinion on the following questions in Masonic jurisprudence, in regard to which we cannot all agree: - (signed) With respect I remain yours fraternally, W. R. Lackey.)
Is a Master Mason expelled by a Blue Lodge from all the rights of benefits of Freemasonry, necessarily expelled from a Chapter or Council, of which he may be a member, without a trial by either of the latter bodies? To my mind this as clear as the noon day sun; for all Masons who have received those degrees, know that it requires good standing in a Blue Lodge, to obtain admission to a Chapter and Council. But some of my Companions, who are older in Masonry than I am, contend that, as a Mason becomes a member by vote of the Council, he should be tried and expelled by the same; that the Blue Lodge is a separate and distinct body, and cannot impair his standing in the Council.
That you may fully understand this case, I will state that some time last year, a Lodge in an adjoining county tried and expelled a Mason for very gross immoral and unmasonic conduct, - he appealed to the Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge sustained the expulsion, and he was reported as an expelled Mason, and has left the State. Now, what would be right and proper for our Council to do to get rid of him?
Answer. Strike his name from the list of members as an expelled Mason; for the reason that Masons in "good standing", cannot continue to hold Masonic intercourse with him, or recognize him in any of their Masonic relations. This is plain enough, if the members of Councils meet together as Masons.
Business of Lodges
From Vol. XI, No. 11, p. 319:
'Cayuga, Miss., Jan. 1, 1852; continued from the above inquiry.
Comp. C. W. Moore - Dear Sir and Brother: - I am requested by some of the Brethren here, to ask your opinion on the following questions in Masonic jurisprudence, in regard to which we cannot all agree: - (signed) With respect I remain yours fraternally, W. R. Lackey.)
Has a Lodge the right to open a Masters' Lodge in their Hall, at a stated meeting, - transact the regular business, - call off for a week, - meet in another county, - call on and attend to the funeral ceremonies of a Brother, and close the Lodge at that place?
Answer. A Lodge can do regular business only in the place where it is located by its Charter. Whether it would be at liberty to go into an adjoining county to perform the funeral services would depend upon a variety of circumstances, - such as whether the deceased was a member of the Lodge, - whether there is not a Lodge nearer his residence, &c. If, however, this be allowable, then it would be proper to ope the Lodge, perform the ceremony, and close it, in the place where it is assembled. It would not, however, be proper to transact any other business; nor would the opening or closing have any effect on the previous condition or business of the Lodge. We confess not to understand the "calling off" of a Lodge "for a week." We should think ourselves culpably remiss in duty, if as Masons, we were to open our Lodge and allowed the Brethren to separate before we had completed' it, according to the established forms and usages of the Order.
Supremacy of the Grand Master
From Vol. XII, No. 1, November 1852, p. 13:
The article makes reference to the recent annual meeting of the Grand Lodge of Indiana, and its comments on proceedings in North Carolina.
"The only part of her proceedings to which we take exception, is the report of her committee of foreign correspondence. . . the principal thing that is objectionable is the extraordinary sentiments contained in it. When treating of the power of the M. W. Grand Master, the Committee say: He is absolutely supreme, being amenable to no man, or any set of men.
"Such sentiments will appear strange to our Brethren of Indiana. At this enlightened age of the world, we had believed that no enlightened body of Masons could be found to endorse and promulgate such sentiments, or maintain such opinions. We deem it entirely superfluous to controvert an opinion so at war with the great principles of Masonry, to any considerable extent. But we may be permitted to ask, from whence do Grand Masters derive their authority? We answer, most assuredly from the Grand Constitution. Grand Constitutions are formed by any number of subordinate Lodges, by their representatives, not less than three: consequently the Grand Master has not nor can he have any but delegated authority ; and we have yet to be informed that any Grand Lodge in the world has by her constitution invested her Grand Master with absolute supremacy. Most, if not all the Grand Constitutions of this continent require their Grand Masters to report their official acts to the Grand Lodge for their approval or disapproval. To argue that the power of the Grand Master is absolutely supreme, would be to argue that the creature is greater than his creator; and would be at war with the eternal principles of truth and justice. As Masons we have been taught to acknowledge none as supreme but the Great Jehovah. We contend most distinctly that Grand Masters are amenable to their Grand Lodges for their official acts, and at the end of their official existence they are amenable to the subordinate Lodges in whose jurisdiction they may reside, for their moral conduct during the time they have been Grand Masters. . .
"Our Brethren entirely overlook the ancient constitutions of the Order, the powers which Grand Masters derive from them, and the inherent usages and regulations of the Fraternity, and predicate their argument on the assumption that the only source of power is the Grand Constitution — that is, that a Grand Master may exercise those powers, only, which are specifically vested in him by the constitution of the body over which he presides. This is not our understanding of the subject. . . There is then a power above the Constitutions of Grand Lodges. Whatever authority therefore, Grand Masters derive from this source, and from established usage, is not strictly delegated, but inherited power. As such, it is above the control of Grand Lodges, except through revolution. But while we differ from the Committee in this respect, we object as strongly as they do, against the doctrine advanced by our North Carolina Brethren. One of the finest poets of England tells us, that the truth lies between two extremes. And though this is not true as a general rule, it may be so in the present case. It was not our intention, however, to discuss this matter at any length ; and we therefore leave it, with the remark that we do not clearly understand the second branch of the concluding sentence in the extract we have given from the report."
Making Masons At Sight
This discussion was subsequent to the removal of the Grand Master of California, who asserted that he could make Masons at sight independent of particular Lodges.
From Vol. XII, No. 2, December 1852, p. 33:
The apparent primary cause of the unfortunate difficulty that has recently arisen among our Brethren in California, may be traced directly to the opinion which seems to be entertained by their Grand Master, that by virtue of his place, he is invested with plenary power to " Masons at sight," without regard to circumstances or conditions. In other and more intelligible words, that as Grand Master, he is privileged to make Masons of anybody, anywhere, and in any manner, that shall suit his convenience, his whims, or his prejudices. This is his theory. Its practical illustration is to be seen in his acts.
If the principle he has thus boldly set up be true, it involves considerations and consequences of momentous importance to the future peace and prosperity of our Institution in this country. In any light in which we can view it, the doctrine is lo our mind startling in its aspects, and portentous in its results. It is either true, and the Grand Master is above the law; make or it is not true, and he is but the executive of the law; to which, in common with all his Brethren, he is amenable. He is either the centre in which all power is lodged, and from which all authority emanates; or he is amenable to a power higher than himself. He is either the embodiment of a despotism ; or he is the representative of a free and intelligent constituency. He is either above the law, or under the law. If above the law, "to himself alone, he is accountable;" and in the eye of the law, "can do no wrong." If under the law, he is amenable to the law, and may do great wrong. Which is true?
It is our misfortune to differ from some intelligent Brethren who have favored the Fraternity with their opinions on this subject. That Grand Masters possess the power to make, or authorize others to " make Masons at sight," under proper circumstances and limitations, we suppose to be a proposition that does not admit of a negation. But that they may so make Masons without regard to conditions or limitations, is more than we are at present prepared to concede. As early as 1663, under the Grand Mastership of the Earl of St. Albans, it was decreed, as a permanent regulation, "that no person, of what degree soever, shall be accepted a Freemason, unless in a regular Lodge (a regular lodge is one formed in accordance with the authorized usage or prescribed regulations of the supreme authority, at the time of its organization), whereof one to be Master or a Warden, in that division (or District) where such Lodge is kept, (regularly held), and another to be a Craftsman in Masonry." Prior to this period, little regard was paid to the manner of holding Lodges or the making of Masons. They were then made "at sight," anywhere and by any competent Master or Warden. The Grand Master could then make Masons, as claimed by our Brother in California, "at will," and without regard to preliminaries or restrictions. It was not a prerogative of his office. It was a right or privilege enjoyed equally by his Brethren of inferior rank. The foregoing regulation was adopted. The right of making Masons at sight remained intact. But "no person, of what degree soever," whether prince or peasant, could be "accepted a Freemason, unless in a regular Lodge" formed and organized in the manner prescribed. This was then the condition and limitation.
At the reorganization of Masonry in year 1717, so much of the regulation of 1663, as defines what constitutes a "regular Lodge," was taken into a new draft, as follows :—
"The privilege of assembling as Masons, which has been hitherto unlimited, ■hall be vested in certain Lodges or assemblies of Masons, convened in certain places; and every Lodge to be hereafter convened, except the four old Lodges at this time existing, shall be legally authorized to act by warrant from the Grand Master for the time being, granted to certain individuals by petition, with the content and approbation of the Grand Lodge in communication; and without such warrant no Lodge shall be hereafter deemed regular or constitutional."
The adoption of this regulation did not repeal or impair that part of the regulation of 1663, which declares that "no person, of what degree soever, shall be accepted a Freemason, except in a regular Lodge." That remained as it originally stood, and as it stands now. It was in the nature of an explanatory regulation, and defined what should thereafter constitute a regular Lodge; and in which alone Masons could be lawfully made.
But there was yet another element wanted in order to afford full protection to the Lodges against the danger to which they were exposed under the practice of making Masons at sight; for there was then no rule on the subjeot. This was supplied by the adoption of the following regulation in 175S :—
"That no Lodge thall ever make a Mason without due inquiry into his character; neither shall any Lodge be permitted to make and raise the same Brother, at one and the same meeting, without a dispensation from the Grand Master, which, on very particular occasions only, may be requested."
As the Lodges could not "make due inquiry into the character" of a candidate until his name had been proposed, this regulation has been interpreted by the Grand Lodge of England to mean, that "no person shall be made a Mason without a regular proposition at one Lodge, and & ballot at the next regular stated Lodge; nor until his name, addition or profession, and place of abode, shall have been sent to all the members, in the summons." And the interpretation has received the sanction and concurrence of all regular Grand Lodges that have since been established.
In the manner here pointed out—and in this way only—can any "person, of what degree soever," be lawfully and regularly " accepted a Freemason." And at this point terminated, we trust forever, the loose and injudicious practice of making Masons at sight,—at least, so far as respects any other than Grand Lodges. Were they authorized to continue it ? This question is not without its difficulties. The reliable Constitutions are silent on the subject. The term, "making Masons at sight," is not known to them. It has its origin in another and less credible source. To find it we must leave the paths of true Masonry, and seek it in a body which was spurious in its organization, and impure in its practices. We speak of the term. The principle may be found in the practice, though the words be absent.
In the "Ahiman Rezon," by Laurence Dermott,—Secretary and, subsequently, Deputy Grand Master of the illegal Grand Lodge at London, in the middle of the last century,—as published by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in 1781, we find the following :—
"It is the prerogative of the Grand Lodge (not of the Grand Master, as has been maintained), and the R. W. Grand Master has full power and authority (when the Grand Lodge is duly attembled), to make or cause to be made in his Worship's presence, free and accepted Masons at sight, and such making is good; but they cannot be made out of his Worship's presence (see Note 1), without his written dispensation for that purpose.) (see Notes 2 and 3)
Note 1: That is, (as we understand the restriction), out of the Grand Lodge.
Note 2: This power is still in force, and we may add, too freely exercised. The Grand Master dispenses with the previous proposition of the name, and the time required before the balloting I bat not with the "due inquiry into character," nor with the notice to members, tn this sense, Lodges, as before 1717, continue to "make Masons at sight,"—that is, the constitutional provision as to time, is dispensed with, and the candidate is made at once.
Note 3: it is worthy of remark, that this paragraph (for Dermott does not seem, to have regarded it as a regulation), does not appear in the first edition of the Abiman Rezon. We are told that it is to be found in the edition of 1772. That we have not before us. It is contained in the constitutions of the Grand Lodge of New York of 1824, verbally as it is here given. It stands there as an old "constitution." Nevertheless, in the regulations of the same body as revised and published in 1832, it is omitted for the following substitute, viz :—"He (the Grand Master) may make Masons at sight, and for this purpose may summon such Brethren as he may deem necessary to assist him." The difference is material; bnt we need not here stop to disease it. We next find it, in still another form, in Cole's compilation, called "the Freemasons' Library and General Ahiman Rezon"—a work of little value, like most of the hundreds of similar compilations which have been pirated and thrust upon the Fraternity as Masonic guides, within the last quarter of a century. It is there given as an explanatory note, and, as such, purports to be copied from Dermott's work of 1772. It there assumes neither the dignity of a constitution, nor yet of a regulation. There is an important difference in it, however, as given by Cole and as it is given in the Pennsylvania. work. As the former gives it, the material, qualifying clause, within the parenthesis, is wholly omitted. The reader will note this.
In our appreciation of it, this regulation embraces the usage which obtained with our Brethren in England, from and after the re-organization of the Fraternity at London in 1717. While it secures to the Lodges their just rights, and protects the Order against abuse from indiscreet or evil-disposed Grand Masters, to our mind it relieves the subject of all embarrassment. Its terms are clear and comprehensive." It is the prerogative of the Grand Lodge" to make " free and accepted Masons, at sight." What is the prerogative of one, cannot be rightfully exercised by another. When a right or privilege is held in common with another, it ceases to be a prerogative. If the right to make Masons at sight be the prerogative of the Grand Lodge, it is not a prerogative of the Grand Master. His authority to make Masons at sight is, therefore, if our reasoning be correct, a limited and qualified power. It is restricted by the terms of the rule, to be exercised only "when the Grand Lodge is duly assembled." The usual preliminaries required of subordinate Lodges, are then, by virtue of an inherent power in the Grand Lodge, dispensed with; and he may lawfully proceed to make, or in case of inability or disinclination personally to perform the work, cause to be made, " free and accepted Masons, at sight."
The regulation of 1717, was adopted as it stands above. It relates wholly to the " privilege of assembling" for the purpose of making Masons. It provides that such assemblies shall not be lawful, unless authorized by " warrant from the Grand Master," granted on petition, with the " consent and approbation of the Grand Lodge." In 1741, the Grand Lodge ordered, " that no new Lodge for the future, should be constituted within the Bills of Mortality, without the consent of the Brethren assembled in quarterly communication, first [obtained. But this order," says Entick, " afterwards appearing to be an infringement on the prerogative of the Grand Master, and to.be attended with many ifteon* venienoes, and with damage to the Craft, was repealed." (This was only a re-enactment of the regulation of 1717,—called for probably on account of some recent disregard of its restrictions, occasioned by the delay of waiting the action of the Grand Lodge. Hence its inconvenience; and hence also, perhaps, the discovery that it was an "infringement on the prerogative of the Grand Master." We do not find the order among the regulations given in the Constitutions, nor any other notice of its reconsideration than the above.)
It might be hypercritical to ask, what was repealed? The first regulation had been in existence a quarter of a century. Had the Grand Lodge been that length of time in discovering that its provisions were an infringement on the prerogative of the Grand Master," in establishing Lodges? Or did the second regulation, or order, deny to him the right to constitute Lodges after the prescribed formula, without the consent of the Grand Lodge? The language is not altogether clear; but the intention undoubtedly was to restore to him, (for he had not possessed it since the re-organization of the Fraternity in 1717—when many things which had before been regarded as prerogatives were brought, under rules,) the privilege of granting warrants for the organization of Lodges, without the previous action of the Grand Lodge. This is conceded. But we cannot so readily concede the argument attempted to be drawn from it, that because the Grand Master may issue his warrant to a competent number of petitioners, authorizing them to assemble as a Lodge and make Masons, he may therefore make them himself, without the aid of any Lodge, constituted in the form and maimer, and for the purpose contemplated by the reguUv- tion. It is asking too much, when we are required to concede that the Grand Lodge of England in 1741, in restoring to the Grand Master a power which, anterior to 1717, was vested in every Master and Warden > within a given district,—namely, to create Lodges,—intended to invest him with a power in direct rivalry and competition with the Lodges then and thereafter to be constituted, and which were to become, constituent parts of its own body. It is enough to ask us to consent that the Grand Lodge in 1741, knew better than the Brethren who formed the original . Grand Lodge in 1717, and enacted laws for its own and the future government of the Lodges, what, under the altered and progressive circumstances of the Fraternity, it was proper to reserve as prerogatives of the Grand Master. We will not contest this. But it is obvious that at the re-organization of the Order in 1717, the Grand Lodge then formed, believed it had the power, and intended to deny to the Grand Master, as it did to everybody else, the right to constitute Lodges, without the " consent and approbation of the Grand Lodge in communication." The Grand Lodge of 1741, thought proper to assume the right to rescind this rule, and reinvest the Grand Master with a power which he had anciently enjoyed, not as a prerogative, but in common with his Brethren of inferior rank. Had it rescinded the entire rule, it would have left the power on its original basis—as an inherent privilege—but it would have abnegated the original purpose of its own organization.
In this country there is a diversity of practice in the manner of instituting Lodges. We here differ from the existing practice of our English Brethren, without a precise conformity to the rule, either as originally adopted, or amended. Where the power of the Grand Master to establish Lodges, is constitutionally recognized by our Grand Ledges, it is, we believe, in all cases limited, in the extent to which it may be exercised, by the terms of its recognition. The Grand Master, by his Dispensation, may authorize the organization of incarnate Lodges, to exist for a fixed and definite period; at the expiration of which time they terminate by their own limitation, unless continued by the authority of the Grand Lodge. Here the power of the Grand Master is clearly a limited power. It is under the control of the Grand Lodge; and therefore of the nature of a delegated power, which the Grand Lodge may revoke or restrict. In some instances, as in the case of the Grand Lodges of Tennessee and Kentucky, this power is not vested in the Grand Master; but is retained by constitutional provision in the Grand Lodge. Thus literally following the rule as given by Dermott, and regarding the power as "the prerogative of the Grand Lodge." In other cases, as in the Grand Lodges of Massachusetts and Missouri, the power is held by the Grand Lodge ; but allowed, under specific limitations, to be exercised by the Grand Master. Again. By the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Indiana, the power to create new Lodges by Dispensation, is vested in both the Grand and Deputy Grand Masters. We might continue these illustrations; but enough have been given to indicate the diversity of the usage that exists, and to'show, also, that the power in this country at least, is held as a " prerogative power of the Grand Lodge," to be exercised under its im- mediate control, and subject to such limitations as it may think proper to impose. This could not be the case if it were an inherent and irrevocable prerogative of the Grand Master. We cannot, therefore, concede the argument, that the power to create Lodges, thus delegated to the Grand Master, carries with it a correlative power to "make Masons at sight." (The question of competency to delegate such power (supposing it not to be an original power), must of course be dependent on the answer to the further question, of how far the present Grand Lodges are bound by the regulation of 1717.) If it were permitted to travel out of the precise record, we might instance the practice of the General Grand Chapter and Encampment of the United States. By the Constitutions of those bodies, the first four officers in each, are authorized to institute new Chapters and Encampments; but we do not presume that anybody ever supposed those officers to be, by virtue of this power, authorized to make Eoyal Arch Masons and Knights Templars " at sight." The cases are analagous.
For several years subsequent to 1717, the Grand Lodge was a working body. We learn from the record, that "on the morning of his election, June 34, 1721, George Payne, Esq., Grand Master, assembled the Grand Lodge at the Queen's Arms, in St Paul's Churchyard, made some new Brothers, particularly Phillip, Lord Stanhope, afterwards the Earl of Chesterfield, and then marched, according to the manner of Masons, to a noble feast." In this instance, and others might be cited, the Grand Master, (the Grand Lodge being duly assembled,) conferred all the degrees. As a general rule, however, the Grand Lodge restricted its duties in this respect to the making of Fellow Crafts and Master Masons. Up to the year 1725, the second and third degrees were exclusively conferred in the Grand Lodge. This was its prerogative. In November of that year, it was decreed that "the Master of a Lodge, with his Wardens, and a competent number of the Lodge assembled in due form, can make Masters and Fellows at discretion." But in restoring this privilege to the Lodges, the Grand Lodge did not surrender any of its own inherent authority to make Masons. This remained unimpaired; though it was rarely afterwards exercised, but upon extraordinary occasions. (The power to make Masons was early recognized, and in one or two instances, within ear recollection, has been exercised by the old Grand Lodges in ibis eouniry—but never, we believe, by a Grand Master, until the present year.)
On such emergencies, special meetings, or as they are called in the abstract of the proceedings of the Grand Lodge (Not the proceedings of private Lodges. These were not matters of record in the Grand Lodge then, more than now), as given by Anderson, Entick, and others, "occasional Lodges"—such as are referred to in the following "old regulation":—" If at any Grand Lodge, stated or occasional, monthly or annual, the Grand Master and Deputy should both be absent," then the last Past Grand Master shall preside. (Hence the Grand Lodge held not only annual and quarterly, but monthly and "occasional Lodges." (This resolution was afterwards corrected so as to give precedence to the Wardens over Past Grand Masters.) It was under this regulation, that the Rev. Dr. Desaguliers, a Past Grand Master, presided over one of these " occasional Lodges," held in the Palace at Kew, in 1737, for the-initiation of the Prince of Wales. " (It was not unusual to hold such Lodges out of the city of London. In 17S1, Lord Lovell, Grand Master, held one in Houghton Hall, in Norfolk, and raised the Duke of Lorraine, who had previously received the preceding degrees at the Hague.
"Mr. William Gofton, sen., attorney-at-law, and Mr. Erasmus King, jun., mathematician," says the record, officiated as Grand Wardens. Had this been a private Lodge, the officiating Wardens would not have been designated and recorded as Grand Wardens. (It is not singular that neither the Grand Master nor his Deputy was present at this meeting. At the annual communication of the "Grand Lodge, in form," held at London on the 27th of Dec. 1736, the S. W. presided, with the J. W. as his Deputy, and two other Brethren as Wardens pro tempore.) They were not the regular Grand Wardens at the time, but were appointed for the occasion. The Lodge was an "occasional" or special Grand Lodge, convened under the authority of the Grand Master; and its officers are, therefore, properly styled Grand officers. It would seem that this fact sufficiently marks the distinctive character of what, in these Grand Lodge proceedings, are termed "occasional Lodges." (It may be proper to remark here, that, at this time, it was only at the quarterly and annual meetings of the Grand Lodge, that the private Lodges, which were few in number, were represented by their Masters and Wardens. They were not represented at their "occasional Lodges," for prudential, or reasons of state.)
In 1764, the Duke of Gloucester was initiated, the Grand Master presiding; and in 1758, the Duke of Cumberland was also initiated, the Deputy in the chair. Both were made in "occasional Lodges" in London. In the latter case, the Grand Master was absent in Ireland. If these Lodges were not Grand Lodges, then it would seem that the Deputy Grand Master must also be invested with power to make Masons "at sight;" or that the Grand Master was at liberty to transfer his prerogative to another. If they were Grand Lodges, then the Deputy, while presiding, was authorized by the rule, to exercise all the powers which appertain to the Grand Master. Not otherwise. Prerogatives belong to the office, not to the person. He can neither transfer nor alienate them.
In February, 1787, the Prince of Wales was made at an "occasional Lodge;" and in November following, the Duke of York was initiated " t a special Lodge." The Duke of Cumberland, Grand Master, presided in both cases. In 1795, the Duke of Gloucester was initiated, also in an " occasional Lodge." It is not stated who presided, but probably his brother, the Prince of Wales, who was Grand Master at the time. These, we believe, comprise all the " occasional Lodges " named in the books. They were rarely held, and only on extraordinary occasions; when considerations of state made them expedient; as when persons of royal lineage were to be initiated. (This fact is of importance, as showing that they were not of so frequent occurrence as to establish a rule of action; or to be used as precedents, under entirely different circumstances. In this country, where the degrees of blood are little regarded, the necessity for them cannot exist. No such occasions can arise to authorize tbem, as those on which, they were employed by our Brethren in England.
None appear to have been held in the present century. The high respectability of several of the private Lodges in London—as the Prince of Wales' Lodge, of which George IV., while Prince of Wales, was Master—has rendered them unnecessary. Of their character, and the sanctions under which they were assembled, our readers can decide for themselves, from what has been already said. One thing is most certain, they were regularly organized, and were presided over by the proper Grand officer; or, as in the case of Dr. Desaguliers, by some Brother qualified, and who would have been authorized to preside over the Grand Lodge, under corresponding circumstances. Another point is worthy of note. If they were held by virtue of the alleged prerogative of the Grand Master to make Masons at sight, then it is certain that the Grand Master can delegate the exercise of this important an d as recent occurrences have demonstrated) dangerous power, to whomever he may see fit to entrust it. And if he may delegate it to one, he may delegate it to a hundred Brethren ; and there need be no end to the "making of Masons at sight;" there need be no further occasion for Lodges. This is only carrying the principle out to its ultimate results. Our Brother in California has done enough in this way, for illustration. Let us take the example he has set us, and improve it as a lesson of .wisdom, drawn from experience. We would not subtract one iota from any authority which clearly belongs to the Grand Master; neither would we invest him with a doubtful prerogative power. All such powers are better and safer in the hands of the constituent body.
Rejection of Candidates
From Vol. XII, No. 4, February 1853, p. 103:
The rule in the admission of candidates in this Commonwealth, is to take but one ballot for the three degrees. (The whole fee accompanies the application. This is also the English rule.) We believe no other general practice has ever obtained here, though there may have been isolated exceptions to it. A good old rule of other days, required that the candidate for advancement should pass an examination in open Lodge, as to his proficiency in the preceding degree. (This rule has of late years fallen much into disuse, though not entirely abandoned. It would be well if it were fully restored.) Here a question for the Lodge was usually raised, not as to his moral fitness,—unless the candidate had been long absent,—but as to his Masonic qualifications ; and this question was taken by hand vote, and decided by the majority. It being presumed that a full investigation of character is made prior to admission to the first degree, a second ballot on advancement is not deemed necessary, especially when no great length of time intervenes between the conferring of the degrees; and inasmuch as it is always competent for any member, for reasons which shall be satisfactory to the Lodge, to stay the proceedings. But a different practice prevails in other parts of the country, and a ballot is taken on each degree. Under this rule a correspondent states the following case as having occurred :—
"A candidate having been initiated and passed, was rejected on the third degree. He appealed to the Grand Lodge. The appeal was sustained, and the case referred back to the Lodge with instructions. It was committed. The committee could find nothing to rest charges upon. The candidate again applied for the third degree, and was again rejected by one vote. He then applied and received a demit as a worthy fellow-craft. Was he entitled to a demit?"
The point in this case which strikes us as the one of most doubtful propriety, is that the appeal should have been advised by the friends of the initiate, or sustained by the Grand Lodge. The rule requiring a new application and ballot on the third degree, placed the candidate before the Lodge in the relation of an original petitioner,—except perhaps that it did not impose the necessity of committing the application, nor require the delay before acting upon it which follows a first petition. Now, there is nothing more clear than that the Lodges are the sole judges of the fitness of their own candidates. This is an inherent power, inseparable from their organization—a necessity of their existence. As in the case of all their other charter-powers, they are responsible to the Grand Lodge for the abuse of it. But caution in the use of a power, even when carried to excess, does not"constitute an abuse of it. At the present time, when candidates are pressing in from all directions, we should rather account it a virtue. The great fault, and the great danger is, that our Lodges are not sufficiently cautious—that they are too free—that they allow their doors to swing too easily on their hinges. And it is undoubtedly true, that the interests and character of the Institution would be more secure,
if ten applicants were denied admission where one is now rejected. In this view of the matter, it might be well if the whole question of admission were left to the decision of the Grand Lodges; but it would not be Masonic ; neither would it be practicable. Yet the allowing appeals to rejected candidates, and sending them back to the Lodges with instructions to confer the degrees or prefer charges, is coming to about the same result, and through an altogether exceptionable process. It is not only de- stoying the power and purposes of. private ballot, but is depriving the Lodges of their free agency, — degrading them to the condition of thinking through other brains and acting through other wills than their own. It is placing them in a condition where they might be required to do that which, if done of their own motion, would subject them to the loss of their charters. In the most favorable light in which we can view the subject, it would be exacting of them the performance of an act, the direct tendency of which would inevitably be to destroy the harmony which is essential to their prosperity. The only correct and Masonic rule, is to leave the whole question of admission where it belongs,—in the hands of the Lodges. If any of them are found to bo unworthy of the trust, let their charters be revoked.
The ostensible error in the present case is, that the member casting the negative ballot did not manifest his objection at the first balloting; though it is charitable to believe that the cause which now influences him was at that time unknown to him, or did not exist; or he may not hare been present at either of the previous ballotings. If he has been influenced by improper or personal motives, he is unworthy of his membership. But of this he alone is the judge; as he is the keeper of his own secrets and the guardian of his own conscience. Had the ballot for the three degrees been taken at the first balloting, he Would now be required to make his objections known, and the responsibility of proceeding would be thrown upon the Lodge. As it is, he has the same right to his private ballot that he would have had at the original balloting, and he is protected by the same guaranties.
In respect to the inquiry of our correspondent, whether the candidate was entitled to a demit from the Lodge, it is sufficient to say, that a demit is a discharge from membership ; and as he was not a member of the Lodge, he could not properly receive any such discharge. The Lodge might have given him a certificate that he had been regularly passed as a craftsman, and rejected on his application for advancement, for reasons not made known to the Lodge. He certainly is a fellow-craft; and, there being no actionable charges against him, is in regular standing, and may exercise his privileges>as such, until such time as the cause of his rejection is removed, or he is expelled.
Lodge Membership (Entered Apprentices and Fellowcrafts)
From Vol. XII, No. 4, February 1853, p. 107:
We are asked by a correspondent, if apprentices and fellow-crafts are eligible for membership in Lodges? This question has been discussed on previous occasions; and it has been decided in the negative by nearly or quite every Grand Lodge in this country. It is therefore a settled question; and the practice, so far as we are informed, corresponds with the rule so established. This, however, has not always been the practice. Anciently there were apprentice and craft Lodges. Long after the adoption of the modern system of Masonic government, Lodges did not possess the power to make Master Masons. At the time indicated, apprentices and craftsmen were undoubtedly enrolled members of Lodges; and, under certain circumstances, they' were admitted to a voice and a vote in Grand Lodge. But the system has been modified. Lodges are now authorized to make Masters; and their charters are granted to none of an inferior degree. Hence there are apprentice and fellow-craft Lodges, only as existing under the authority of Masters' Lodges, and for specific and limited purposes. Literally speaking, there are no such Lodges. Their distinctive feature has been merged in another. The Lodges now created by Grand Lodges are Masters' Lodges, with power to open in the appropriate degrees, and make apprentices and craftsmen. When thus open, they are Lodges for the reception of initiates or craftsmen. This, under the existing practice, is the only proper business of their creation. They cannot admit members. Hence membership appertains only to Masters' Lodges. Under the present system the rule could not with propriety be otherwise. If apprentices were admitted, to membership, they could be present only when the Lodge was open on the first degree.— They could take no part in the business of the Lodge, for all business, except the actual work if the inferior degrees, is transacted in a Masters' Lodge. Membership with them would therefore be merely nominal. It could not be actual, because they would not be in a condition to enjoy its privileges or fulfil its obligations.
But we need not argue this question further. The practice in this country we believe to be uniform and correct; and whatever itinerant pretenders may urge to the contrary, there is no probability that it will soon undergo any change. It is founded in reason and the necessities of the case, and it will stand. We have been induced to notice it, not from any apprehension of a change, but merely to oblige our correspondent, and to counteract any influence which the bold assertions of empiricism may be supposed to hove had upon the minds of Brethren in his vicinity, who, like himself, do not possess the necessary information on the subject to enable them to correct the misstatements referred to by him. And it may be proper to remark here, that the natural and inevitable consequence of allowing itinerant lecturers and preachers to stroll about the country,
scattering their crude and pernicious opinions among the Lodges, is the unsettling of the minds of young and uninformed Brethren, on questions in relation to which they have not the means of authentic information. The present is a case of this kind ; and the Grand Lodges owe it to themselves—to their dignity and authority, as well as to the harmony and prosperity of their Lodges—to put a stop to a practice so pregnant with evil. If the Master is incapable of instructing his Lodge in all things useful for its interests, it is far better that the Grand Lodge should itself incur the expense of sending a competent and authorized Brother to instruct him, than to allow irresponsible intinerant missionaries to spread the seeds of discord over its jurisdiction.
Lodges Under Dispensation
From Vol. XII, No. 7, May 1853, p. 228:
March 31, 1853.
Br. Moore:—As a lover of Masonic principles, I have also a reverence for Masonic law, and trust that I may never be guilty of knowingly transgressing any of its regulations. Not wishing, where in ignorance, to remain so;—and persuaded that such is the fact with all good Masons,—I.would respectfully submit the follow ing questions and observations, for notice at your discretion.
- Is it competent for a Lodge empowered (either by Dispensation or Charter) to work in the first three Degrees, when the Master and both Wardens are absent, and there is no Past Master of that or any other Lodge present, to call one of their members of the third degree to preside and do work on the degrees?
- Is it competent for a Lodge U. D. (its Master being sick and unable to attend, and its Wardens away,) to choose one of its members, and instruct him to obtain the Past Master's degree in a Chapter, as a qualification to preside over them as their Master pro tempore? though they should be advised to it by their real Master:— And would the person so chosen and so promoted to the Past degree have authority to preside and do work on the degrees? (Should you say yet to this last, let me ask—In virtue of what has he his authority?)
- Is it competent for any number of Masons who have been initiated, crafted and raised in a Lodge U. D., but have not signed the By-Laws, to act and vote on any and all matters—but especially on the admission of candidates—in the Lodge where they were made?
- Have Lodges U. D. any power to increase the number of their members ?
According to my ideas of Masonic regulations and usages all the questions are to be answered in the negative; but there are many others who do not think as I do. It is my wish to be right. I am not able to cite any authority in negation of the first question other than that universal usage (if I am not in error) has ever been its negation. I reason that the second is to be answered in the negative, be cause Lodges U. D. are not Lodges in full, but are rather bodies on trial, to be made Lodges in full, if and whenever (but not otherwise) it shall so please their supreme head, the Grand Lodge. They cannot therefore go beyond their Dispensation, and displace or supercede by others, the officers into whose hands they have been given :—and if they may not do this, they may not choose officers at all, but if in want must ask aid of their Grand Head. Past Masters are known as such to Grand Lodges only from their having been chosen and duly qualified to preside over some regular and duly constituted Lodge. As under the authority of Grand Lodges Past Masters may be made, and these are amenable to them ; and as they have nothing to do with the making of Past Masters in a Chapter, and these as such are not amenable to them, they cannot be supposed to recognize in their constitution and government Chapter made Past-Masters:—and these do not therefore in virtue thereof gain any authority which may be used in a Blue Lodge. I negative the third question, because By-Laws always do or should require of every Brother, as a condition of membership, to sign them. I negative the fourth question, because Dispensations are granted to a certain number of Masons therein named, and specify what they may do. They only are known to, owned by, and held responsible for, their proceedings as a Lodge, to the Grand Lodge:—If therefore they had the power to add to their members, prudent care of their own interests would seem to forbid their using it.
Thus I reason with my present light ; but having been walking in the light of Masonry but little more than a year, I would not be too positive that I see all things clearly.
Now one other question :—Under the circumstance, as named in the second question, of the Master's being sick, should the Grand Master on application before choice, authorize the Lodge to choose one of its members to serve as Master pro tempore and have him duly qualified, would the Brother chosen be duly qualified by taking the Past Matter's degree in A Chapter? Should the Grand Master give his sanction after the thing was done, would his sanction be any thing but an act of grace ? and how would it affect the matter?
Yours Fraternally, J. C P.
Our correspondent has so satisfactorily answered his own inquiries, that there is very little occasion for additional comments. We will, however, more for his personal gratification, than from any necessity in the case, add a few words to what he has so well said. Taking the questions in the order in which he has stated them, we answer :—
1. We are of opinion, that in the absence of the Master and Wardens, whether the Lodge be working under Dispensation or Charter, the best thing the members can do, is to go home, and be more careful in future whom they select for their officers. The Master and both Wardens being absent, and there being no Past Master present, we should hold that no work could be lawfully done; though there is a show of authority to the contrary,—emanating in a quarter to which little credit is due, but which has been a source of much irregularity and mischief in the Masonic polity of this country. The rule of the Grand Lodge of England is, that— "In the Master's absence, the immediate Past Master, or if he be absent, the Senior Past Master of the Lodge present, shall take the chair. If neither the (immediate) Past Master nor any Past Master of the Lodge be present, then the Senior Warden, or in his absence the Junior Warden, shall rule the Lodge." The right of succession to the government of the Lodge here stops with the Junior Warden; who rules the Lodge, but does not take the chair of the Master. The latter privilege is reserved to the Master alone; and even he cannot avail himself of it until after his installation. " No Master shall assume the Master's chair" says the regulation, " until he shall have been regularly installed, though he may, in the interim, rule the Lodge." We are not quite so particular in this country, and allow the presiding officer for the time being to occupy the chair of the Master. With us, also, the Wardens take precedence of the Past Masters in presiding. And these practices are both consonant with the regulation of 1723, which says—"If a Master of a particular Lodge is deposed or demits, the Senior Warden shall forthwith fill the Master's chair, till the next time of choosing." It is very clear that the course indicated by our correspondent's first inquiry, would be wholly un authorized, and, we apprehend, without precedence.
2. We shall not say yes to this inquiry, for we have no authority to offer in justification of such an opinion. We are not acquainted with any rule which requires that the presiding officer of a Lodge under Dispensation shall be a Past Master. We understand a Past Master to be a Brother who has been elected and installed, and who has served for a definite term, as Master of a Lodge under a Charter from some Grand Lodge. We are not aware that any Grand Lodge in this country has ever constitutionally recognized any other description of Past Masters. The officers of Lodges, under Dispensation are neither elected nor installed. To require that the Masters of such Lodges should have previously presided over regularly warranted Lodges, would be a troublesome, if not an im practicable rule in the establishment of new Lodges, beyond the immediate limits of populous cities. No such rule exists. The receiving of what is called the Past Master's degree in a Chapter, confers no privileges that can properly be made available in a Lodge of Master Masons. The secrets of the chair form a part of the ceremonies of installation, and are thus communicated to the officer to qualify him to preside as Master over the Lodge, when duly constituted by the Grand Lodge under which he holds his authority. This we understand to be the ancient rule on the subject. The assumption of the ceremonies in question by the Chapters, cannot be allowed to affect the rights, nor can the fact be taken into consideration in determining the authorized practice of the Lodges. The proper remedy in the case suggested by our correspondent, would be to apply to the Grand Master for relief.
3. Our correspondent has given a sufficient answer to this inquiry. The only members of the Lodge are named in the Dispensation. It is time enough for others to sign By-Laws when they have been approved by the Grand Lodge, and to ask for membership when the Lodge, has acquired an actual existence.
4. The answer to this inquiry is embraced in the answer to the preceding; and the reason is well stated by our correspondent.
The additional inquiry submitted by our correspondent, presents no new point. During the illness of the Master the right to preside devolves on the Wardens according to rank. Should the Master resign, and the Wardens and Brethren of the Lodge request it, the Grand Master would doubtless appoint some competent Brother to take charge of the Lodge. The Lodge would be competent to recommend such a Brother, and it could do this in any form it saw fit; but its action would amount to nothing more than a recommendation, which the Grand Master might regard or not. The Chapter qualification has no bearing on the case.
Reports on Petitions
From Vol. XII, No. 7, May 1853, p. 231:
A correspondent in Alabama proposes the following inquiry :—
"When a petition is presented for initiation and referred to a Committee, whose duty is it to make the report? Is it proper for the report to be made through the Secretary, when it is not convenient for either member of the Committee to be present? The Committee, in the case referred to, had a meeting and agreed to make a favorable report, but not finding it convenient to be present at the ensuing meeting of the Lodge, requested the Secretary to make it for them. Was this a proper course?"
As a general thing reports should be made in writing and entered in the records. They are in this way more likely to be preserved and are more available for reference. Verbal reports, like unwritten votes and resolutions, if of any considerable length, or at all intricate in character, are liable to be misunderstood by the recording officer. It is to be presumed that the writer of a report, or the mover of a resolution, as the case may be, understands himself better than another can understand him, and would, therefore, be less liable to misstate his own intentions. There are cases, of course, frequently arising, so simple and unmistakeable in their character, that a rigid enforcement of a rule like this, in its application to motions, might be not only unnecessary, but onerous and inconvenient. Such cases constitute the exceptions wherever the rule exists. In its application to reports and resolutions, exceptions should not be allowed, Had there been such a regulation in the By-Laws of the Lodge referred to by our correspondent, the Committee would have been at no loss as to the proper manner of making their report.
The subject referred to them was one of the most important which it is in the power of a Lodge to entrust to a Committee. We are fully sensible that it is not usually so regarded, or if so regarded, is not usually so treated. But this does not change its character or lessen its importance. It is safe to assume that, as a general rule, the admission or rejection of the applicant is determined by the report of the Committee of investigation. This being true, it follows that, to the extent to which the question of admission can affect it, the character of the Lodge, and, in a proportionate degree, of the whole Institution, is placed in the hands of the Committee. Taking this view of the subject, the responsibility of the trust and the importance of the report to be made, present themselves in their proper light, and sufficiently indicate "whose duty it is to make the report." How would it be in ordinary cases? Would the Master of the Lodge, in the absence of every member of a Committee, feel himself authorized to receive a verbal report, at second-hand, through the Secretary, or any other member of the Lodge? Would the members of the Lodge be content with such a report? We think not. Most assuredly then such a report should not be received in a matter of so much importance as the admission of a. candidate. The least the Committee could do, or should have been permitted to do, under the circumstances stated by our correspondent, was to make a written report, properly signed, and addressed to the Master of the Lodge. With anything less than this, we should have been unwilling, as Master, to order the ballot to be taken.
The foregoing answers the inquiries of our correspondent. The usual practice, in such cases, is to receive a verbal report from the chairman, or, in his absence, from some other member of the Committee, authorized to make it. Another and more common practice in this part of the country, is for each member of the Committee to report the result of his own inquiries directly to the Lodge. This is frequently done without any previous consultation with his associates on the Committee. And this course operates very well, in ordinary cases; but we should prefer previous consultation and a written report, as more safe and reliable.
Our German Brethren have a practice differing from both of the foregoing, which possesses some advantages over them. It is this:—The name of the candidate is proposed and referred to a Committee of three or five, to be appointed by the Master. The Master then writes the name and such particulars as he may consider necessary, on separate pieces of paper. After the Lodge is closed, or the next day, he hands these strips of paper to such members of his Lodge as he may select for the Committee, enjoining privacy. Of course no member of the Committee knows his associates, neither are the Committee known to the Lodge. At the ensuing meeting, or earlier, each member of the Committee makes a written report to the Master, who at the proper time, reads the reports to the Lodge, suppressing the names of the Committee. On these reports the ballot is taken, unless objections are raised by some member present. If the candidate is rejected, a record is made of it, and the reports are destroyed. If he is admitted, the reports are placed on file. The advantage of this practice is, that it secures entire immunity to the Committee, the reports are made with more freedom, and the'danger of disturbing the harmony of the members of the Lodge is lessened. We have no knowledge of the existence of such a practice in any of our own Lodges, and refer to it only as a matter of interest, or curiosity, as the reader pleases to receive it. Too much care cannot however be observed in the admission of candidates, nor can the right to a free and unrestrained ex ercise of individual opinion, and of the ballot, be too stringently protected.
Rejection of Candidates
From Vol. XII, No. 8, June 1853, p. 261:
Charles W. Moore: — Dear Sir and Br.:—I wish to submit a question to you in Masonic usage, and if you regard it as sufficiently important, I should be obliged to you, to see your opinion in the next number of the Magazine. The question is this : —
A candidate petitions to a Lodge and is regularly and constitutionally rejected,— within a few months after his rejection, the objecting Brother becomes satisfied, and is willing that the petitioner should become a Mason,—wishes to withdraw the objection ; but is unwilling that his name should be given as the objecting party. The By-Laws of the Lodge, we will say, state that when a petitioner has been rejected, no further balloting shall take place, in the case, for twelve months next thereafter; unless the member opposing, shall voluntarily withdraw the objection, in open Lodge.
The objecting Brother executes a written authority, which is attested by two Master Masons, known by the Lodge to be such; andin this mode empowers a Brother to withdraw the objection in open Lodge; but not to disclose his name to the Lodge. Under these circumstances, is it consistent, or inconsistent, with the principles of Masonry, and with the usages of the Order (independently of the provisions in the Lodge By-Laws,) for the objection to be withdrawn, and let another ballot take place?
To me this has seemed to be a question of some general importance, and should you think it worthy of note, I should be much gratified to see a remark from you upon the subject. Fraternally yours, &c.
There is no law of general application, in the books, nor is there any settled usage of the Fraternity, that either limits the time, or prescribes the manner, in which a second application for initiation may be made by a person whose petition has been once rejected. Neither is there any uniformity on the subject, either in the usage or the local regulations of the Grand Lodges in this country. The practice is arbitrary, and therefore divers. In a few States, it is regulated by the constitutions of the supreme body; while in others, it is left to the determination of the Lodges, each acting independently, and according to its own convictions of propriety and duty. Hence we often find different practices prevailing within the same general jurisdiction. This is objectionable. It embarrasses the Lodges and introduces irregularity and diversity of practice where there should be order and uniformity. As like begets like, so looseness of practice in one respect leads to 'corresponding looseness in others. The remedy is in the hands of the Grand Lodges, and should be applied, so far at least as to ensure agreement among the Lodges within the same jurisdiction. Uniformity of practice is as essential to the beauty and harmony and prosperity of the Lodges, as uniformity of ritual is to the unity of the Order. However difficult the latter may be, the former can be readily secured. Written regulations are easily understood, though oral instructions are with difficulty retained. If we cannot have exact uniformity in all respects, the true policy is to secure it where it is attainable. This can at least be done in the rules of government, if not in the ritual of the Lodges.
A practice which has obtained to a very considerable extent in this country, is, to require that a specified time shall intervene between the rejection of a first and the reception of a second petition for the degrees. This is usually determined, where it exists, by the By-Laws of the Lodge, and is fixed in some cases at three, in others at six, and in others again, at twelve months. But, as we have remarked on a former occasion, we are not favorably disposed towards this method of adjusting the difficulty. We do not perceive the propriety, nor, if we understand it, do we concur in the philosophy of it. It is predicated upon the assumption that the applicant is a bad man,—that he is destitute of a fair moral character; and, consequently, unworthy to be admitted to the privileges and associations of the Lodge room. But this is far from being a certain and just conclusion. It is not a rule by which we may safely determine the moral character of any man. Reasons are rarely, or at least not always, given for a negative ballot, and they cannot be demanded.
The law of the ballot-box secures alike the act and the individual. The petitioner is afforded no opportunity for defence or explanation. He knows neither the source nor the nature of the objections against him. As to him, the whole proceeding is shrouded in secrecy. Beyond the result, he can know nothing. This may be just or it may be unjust. But experience leaves no room to doubt, that rejections frequently occur from considerations beyond, and independent of, the question of character. They are often the result of personal dislike, or the supposed absence of the requisite social qualities ; and a variety of other causes, having no necessary or proper relation to the personal integrity or moral qualifications of the rejected. It may be said that such rejections are wrong,—that they are not authorized or warranted by the rules and usages of the Institution. This is granted. But in discussing questions of human action we must take men as they are, and human nature as we find it. If we were permitted to assume that all men are above their passions, and their prejudices, and their dislikes,—that in all their intercourse with their fellow-men, they are influenced only by pure and ennobling motives,—by sentiments of brotherly love and disinterested friendship,—it would be reasonably safe to infer that none but bad men are refused admission to our Lodges. But the postulate being inadmissible, the conclusion fails. There are two classes of rejections. First, where the petitioner is rejected by a single ballot, and frequently against a favorable report from the investigating committee. To such cases, the preceding remarks apply with peculiar force. Secondly, where the rejection is based on the report of the committee. Here, it is conceded, that a prima facie case of bad character is made out. But the fact is not proved. The report rests on ex-parte testimony ; and though it is sufficient to determine the action of the Lodge, we think it not sufficient to establish the general bad character of the petitioner, either in his social or civil relations. The standard by which he is tried in the Lodge is a peculiar one,—more exacting in its demands than the ordinary standard, of social and business life. A man may be honest and honorable in all his ordinary transactions, a kind neighbor and useful member of society, and yet fail to come up to the full measure of the standard of admission to the Lodge. His rejection, therefore, does not, in either case, afford that clear and certain evidence of general moral delinquency, which should exclude him from the amenities and confidence of social and business life. The rule in question assumes the opposite of this, and places him on probation as one whose present moral character excludes him from the associations of moral men. In this respect we think it assumes too much. In the first class of cases, the rejection and consequent application of the rule, are often determined by a single negative ballot, thrown by an unknown hand and for unknown reasons. In the second class, the rejection is determined by a report based upon ex-parte testimony, and that not always from the most reliable sources. It is however the best the committee can obtain, the most satisfaetory of which the peculiarities of the case admit, and should always be sufficient for the present purposes of the Lodge. But it cannot with propriety, be received as final and conclusive of the facts presented. It is a prima facie case; and, as to the Lodge, stands until the contrary is shown. This may be done in twenty four hours, or it may never be done. But it is proper that the Lodge should always, and at,any hour, hold itself at liberty to reverse its decision,, when satisfied of its error. The rule in question does not allow this. But the equitable laws of justice, respect for the natural feelings of the candidate, and the honor of the Lodge, would all seem to, demand it. If an error has been committed,—if a single member, or a dozen members, have been deceived by false impressions or misrepresentations, and thus been led to do a great moral wrong, where their only purpose was to do right, they should be allowed the earliest opportunity to retrace their steps, when convinced of the propriety of doing so. The Lodge owes it to its own honor, that it should hold in its own hands, the privilege and the right to avail itself of the earliest practicable moment to heal the wound it has causelessly, though unintentionally, inflicted on the feelings, and perhaps the character, of an upright and honorable man. Under such circumstances, delay, to a sensitive mind, is cruelty. While the standard of character should in no case be lowered—while all the requirements should be rigidly enforced, and while too great precaution cannot be used against the admission of the unworthy—our Lodges should be left free and untrammelled to right themselves without delay, and to "render unto every man his just due." The rule of limitation does not allow of this. And because it does not, we question the propriety of incorporating it into the By-Laws of our Lodges. In our opinion, the most just to all parties, and the safest course .for all concerned, would be to leave the whole question of a second petition open and unrestricted. The Lodge would then be at liberty to decide on each case, as it occurred. No embarrassing delay, as in the instance presented by our correspondent, could occur. The Lodge would be in a condition to act promptly—to relieve itself and the petitioner at once, of all embarrassment and doubt. It may occur to tho minds of some of our readers, that under such a rule, the Lodge would be exposed to unnecessary vexation, from the frequency with which rejected petitions might be re-presented. Not so. The Lodge is under no obligations to receive any petition. It has therefore only to determine that it will not receive the petition, and it cannot be presented. While, on the other hand, if it see cause to receive it and reinvestigate the case, it is not prohibited by its own regulations from doing so. This right we would have it retain, for the reasons given,—and for the further reason, that it is in unison with the spirit and ancient usages of the Institution. The rule of limitation is an Americanism, and of modern origin. Before leaving this branch of our subject, and as german to it,—though having no necessary connection with the inquiry submitted by our correspondent,—we will take the liberty to repeat a suggestion thrown out by us some few years since, in relation to the policy of Grand Lodges, regulating the initiation of rejected candidates. It has become a frequent and serious cause of complaint, that candidates who have been rejected in one State, have been afterwards received and initiated in a sister State, and sometimes, though not so frequently, in another Lodge under the same jurisdiction. This is a ruinous policy and should be prohibited by stringent regulations. Every Grand Lodge being supreme and independent within its own province, it is not in the power of any one body to effect a full and perfect remedy of the evil. This would require the cooperation of all. But each body can do much towards it. It can regulate its own household. It can prohibit by constitutional enactment, the initiation of a candidate, who has been rejected within its own jurisdiction, in any other Lodge than that to which he originally applied for admission,—except (if it see fit to make such an exception), he obtain the written recommendation of at least six members of the Lodge by which he was rejected ; three of whom to be the Master and Wardens. This is the regulation of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and it leaves the matter where it properly belongs—in the hands of those who best understand it. And what to our mind is of weighty consideration, there being no other restriction, it enables the Lodge to correct immediately, any error into which it may have been inadvertently led, in the original rejection. The exception in favor of the candidate, allowing him the benefit of the recommendation of six members of the Lodge, is intended to protect him, so far as regulations can avail to that end, against individual prejudice or malice ; for it is not to be denied that Masons are not always free from the influence of these vices, though they probably prevail among them to as limited an extent as in any other class of the community. As to rejected candidates coming from other States, all that any Grand Lodge can do, is to require the Lodge within its own jurisdiction, to which such a person applies for initiation, to communicate immediately with the foreign Lodge, in which he was rejected. And this would be sufficient, if the rule were universally adopted by the Grand Lodges in the country. The fact that the applicant has been once rejected, is brought out by the usual test, when he presents himself for initiation, if it has not been previously ascertained. This test, though it may not be necessary in all cases, ought never to be omitted in the case of one who has recently become a resident in the State or town where the Lodge to which he applies for admission, is located. A little more attention to precautions such as are here indicated, would be the means of saving the Fraternity in all sections of the country, from many annoyances, and some reproach.
But, to the inquiry of our correspondent. The case may be briefly stated as follows :—A candidate has been rejected. By a provision of the By-Laws of the Lodge, this bars him from the privilege of presenting a second petition for the space of one year, unless the opposing member shall sooner voluntarily withdraw his objection in open Lodge. The member wishes to do this, but declines to appear before the Lodge in person, or to have h'w name made known. He asks that the rule of the secret ballot shall be continued until the whole subject has been finally disposed of. He threw the negative under the protection of secrecy, and desires to withdraw it under the same provision. To this end, he certifies in writing to two reputable members of the Lodge, that he was the author of the objection, and in the same instrument authorizes one of them to withdraw it," in open Lodgo," as required by the regulation- stipulating as a condition that his name shall not be exposed. The reason for the condition, is doubtless o.f a personal character, and grows out of the relations of the parties. These may be such as to render it essential. But is the intention of the By-Law answered by the course proposed? If so, then it is a proper one; for the intention, not the letter of the regulation, should govern the action. The terms of the rule, as given by our correspondent, provide that a second proposition shall not be entertained, " unless the member opposing, shall voluntarily withdraw the objection in open Lodge." If we analyze these terms we shall find—First, that the objection must be voluntarily withdrawn by the opposing member,—that is, he shall not be constrained by intimidation, or other improper influences, to do the act involuntarily. There is no pretension that in the present case the member is under any such constraint Secondly, he must " withdraw the objection in open Lodge,"—that is, when the Lodge is open and organized fur business. There is nothing in the terms of the rule that requires his personal presence in the Lodge, or that indicates any particular form or manner in which the objection shall be withdrawn. It designates the place where, the time when, and by whom, this shall be done. Nothing further. The essential object of the secret ballot, is, that the member casting the black ball shall be protected in his negative, and the Lodge in its harmony. But this object would be liable to subversion, if in order to retrace his steps, the objector were required to expose his name. The alternative would be presented to him, of allowing the act to remain, to the great injustice of the innocent, or of incurring the risk of personal annoyance, perhaps of dissevering intimate ties of personal friendship. No interpretation of Masonic rules can be just, that leads to such a result.
As the By-Law under consideration does not prescribe the mode by which the Brother may withdraw his objection, it should seem that kt would be entitled to exercise his own best judgment in the premises. The difficulty of preserving the identity of the objector, in the process of transferring the right to exercise his power, as an individual member, to others is a serious one; and if often permitted, without great care, might, in ordinary cases, lead to great abuses, But when it is considered that the By-Law in question, literally construed, may be easily violated by an untruthful Brother, being present,—in the absence of the objector, or in a variety of ways by deception,—we can perceive no special reason why the method proposed may not be allowed. The identity of the objection, is of more consequence than that of the person. The objection being one of principle,—unless some Brother has erred by carrying personalities into the Lodge room,—it need not necessarily have any connection with individuality. If the objection were of a personal nature, then the author of it stands as a supplicant for favor; and the Brethren are simply asked, by the proposed method, to aid him in preventing the extension of an error. Any risk which may be supposed to attach to the course suggested, is removed by the consideration, that the ngent, equally with his principal, is responsible to the Lodge for his faithfulness ; and that the withdrawal of the objection merely opens the way for a new proposition ; when the name of the candidate will again be inserted in the nutifications and laid before the members of the Lodge. Imposition, if attempted, cannot, therefore, fail of being seasonably detected, if the Lodge is properly notified.
Approval of Lodge Records
From Vol. XII, No. 9, August 1853, p. 293:
Nachitoches, La., June 5, 1853.
Dear Sir and Br.:—Will yoabe kind enough to answer through your Magazine— If at a called meeting, a Lodge can approve the minutes of a previous regular or called meeting? Your time I know is valuable; but the position you hold, and the consideration your opinion on Masonic subjects, has with the Brethren, must be my excuse for trespassing on your attention. At a Lodge, in the jurisdiction where I have the honor and pleasure to act as a District Deputy Grand Master, a called meeting was held—the minutes of a previous regular, and of a called meeting, were read and approved and signed by the Worshipful Master. At the next regular meeting, I being present, the said approval was brought to my attention, and my opinion asked. I decided the approval of proceedings at a called meeting, to he irregular, and contrary to the practice of Masonry, so far as my experience went, and instructed the Master to have the minutes approved at a regular meeting—on the ground that, at a called meeting, nothing could be done but the business for which the meeting was called; and that among the things for which a meeting could not be called, was the approval of the minutes,—that the reasons for not approving minutes at a called meeting, were, that it placed it in the power of a minority of the Lodge to transact business that might be against the will of a majority, and then to hold another called meeting and approve the proceedings—that the Lodge having regular days of meeting, the Brethren who live at a distance, know the time and place of meeting, and if they do not attend, something personal to them- selves must prevent them; whilst at a called meeting, they may not have notice- it frequently being impossible to give them timely warning. The Master of the Lodge differed from me in opinion, and the matter will go before the Grasd Lodge), as a poi'it of practice, to be determined.
Will you give us light on the subject, and by so doing, oblige yours fraternally, S. M. Hyams, Dist. Dep. G. Master 8th Dist. Louisiana.
Our understanding of the matter is, that no business can be transacted at a "called meeting," other than that for which the Lodge is specially convened. The fact being so, it follows, that the record of any preceding meeting, ean be made a subject for consideration, only so far as it may be necessary for information,—unless indeed it be itself the specific purpose for which the meeting has been called, and so notified to the members. Independent of this exception, the record can neither be amended nor changed, confirmed nor revoked, approved nor disapproved, nor in any other manner affected or interfered with, at a special meeting of the Lodge. Nor is it, in our view of the question, material whether the preceding meeting were a "called" or a regular meeting. The effect of the rule is the same. If, therefore, the by-laws of the Lodge require that the record shall be confirmed at the next succeeding meeting, we think a just construction of the law would not authorize its confirmation at a "called meeting;" because, the regulation manifestly contemplates only the stated meetings ; at which, alone, the regular business of the Lodge is transacted. "Called meetings" are frequently authorized by the By- Laws, subject to the discretion of the Master; or they may be summoned without any such special authorization, at the pleasure of the Master. But however held, they are exceptions to the general stated meetings of the Lodge, and are subject to, and restricted in their powers, by special regulations,—either written or growing out of the recognized usages of the Fraternity, and being of equal validity and force,— beyond which the action of the Lodge cannot go. One of these regulations is,—and it is one of vital importance to the security of the Lodge,—that no business of any kind shall be transacted at a special meeting, other than that for which the Lodge is called together, and of which the members have received proper notice. (Our correspondent intimates that special meetings are or may be called by the Master without notifying all the members of the Lodge. This is a practice with which we are unacquainted; and if it exists, it it one too full of danger to be continued. Every member of the Lodge has an equal right to know when his Lodge is called together. There can be no discrimination, nor can the Master rightfully exercise any discretion in this respect. He must do his whole duty—not half of it.)
The power to approve, carries with it the correlative power to disapprove ; or, in other terms, to amend or change any part of the record ; for the only purpose of taking the question on approving the record is, that it may be amended, if incorrect, before it is signed by the Master. If therefore the Lodge, at a "called meeting," (which is usually thinly attended,) may amend and then confirm the record of any previous meeting, the members of the Lodge, present at any regular meeting, can have no assurance that their decisions may not all be reversed, or their doings revoked, before the ink is fairly dry upon the record. We think, therefore, that our correspondent was correct in his instructions to the Lodge. He has however an able Grand Lodge before which to carry his case, and we shall look with interest for its decision.
Disciplinary Powers of Lodges
From Vol. XII, No. 12, October 1853, p. 353:
An intelligent correspondent in a distant State, proposes the following inquiry:—
"Is it competent for a Lodge to discipline a member and punish him by suspension or expulsion, (subject in the latter case to the confirmation of the Grand Lodge,) for any crime or offence, unless it be a wrong done to some individual Mason or body of Masons?"
A Lodge possesses ample and plenary powers not only to enforce obedience to its own regulations and the general laws of Masonry, but to protect its interests and character against the withering influences of immoral and vicious members. It not merely possesses this power, in its full extent, but it is wanting in self-respect and a proper regard for its own safety, as well as in faithfulness to its Grand Lodge, whenever it fails, on any fit occasion, to exercise it promptly and efficiently.
"A Mason is obliged, by his tenure, to obey the moral law." This is the language of one of the earliest regulations of Masonry. It embodies the first principle—the corner-stone of the Institution. It lies at its foundation. Remove it, and the superstructure falls to the ground, a mass of worthless ruins. Remove it, and you convert the Masonic Lodge into a den of thieves,—a receptacle for the vile and vicious,—a resort for the drunkard and the blasphemer. Nay, more than this. You drive Masonry to the necessity of becoming the endorser of the character of the depraved and worthless, who may gain access within its sacred retreats; or you reduce Masonry to the level and companionship of vice. No! Our old grey-headed Institution has enough to sorrow for in the character of its members ; but thank God, it has no such principle as this to answer for. Its precepts are true and holy, whatever the lives of its members may be. Disbelievers in the divine mission of our Saviour would be no more out of place as communicants in a Christian church, than are immoral men in a Masonic Lodge. If a belief in the Son of God be the tenure of Christianity, so obedience to the "moral law" is the condition on which every Mason holds his Masonry. A violation of this condition is as sufficient cause for expulsion from the Lodge, as his avowal of infidelity would be for his exclusion from the Christian communion. His immorality vitiates the tenure by which he holds his Masonry, the condition on which he received it, and on which alone he can rightful ly claim or be permitted to enjoy its benefits or participate in its ceremonies.
Our correspondent, who is a Mason of forty years standing, and one of the most intelligent Past Grand Masters in the country,—a devoted Brother, startled by new doctrines,—says :—"I have always supposed that a Lodge possessed the power to punish by suspension or expulsion, any in corrigible offending member, for any violation of the "moral law," as laid down in that Holy Book which always lies open upon our altar, and which, according to my Masonic teaching, is our moral and spiritual Trestle-Board, given us by the Grand Master of the universe as the rule and guide of our faith and practice."
Our Brother is right in his supposition. The Lodge does possess the power. No intelligent Mason will risk his reputation in assuming the contrary. The teachings and practices of the Institution from remote times, and in all countries, and under all circumstances, confirm and establish the truth of his conviction. Does he need authorities to sustain him—we refer him to the whole history of the Order,—to every printed page on its principles and laws, ever dictated by an honest and intelligent mind,—to its entire code of rules and regulations, constitutions and charges,—to its ritual; and above all, to the teachings of the "great light" which is continually shining within the walls of its Lodges, as the fountain of its principles, and the rule of its practices. If he can find nothing here to justify the profane in his profanity, the drunkard in his intemperance, or the libertine in his licentiousness, then he has a sufficient war rant to denounce such practices as unmasonic, and to hold the Brother addicted to them, amenable to his Lodge for a breach of the obligations imposed " by his tenure, to obey the moral law."
That was a strange hallucination of the mind, which suggested the thought, as indicated by the inquiry of our correspondent, that a Mason can live in open violation of the moral and civil law, and yet continue to hold his Masonic relations, on the plea that no wrong is done to an " individual Mason or a body of Masons." Neither the law nor the principles of Masonry recognize any such distinction. It is a principle adapted only to the necessities and the conditions of pirates and robbers. Our Brother might well be startled when he heard it ringing in his ears. If the thought is seriously entertained by any Mason living, we adjure him to abandon it at once, or to abandon his Masonry forever. Such a principle is not only in derogation of all Masonic teachings, but it is an out rage on his personal character as a Mason, of so gross a nature, that it cannot long escape the official notice of his Lodge. The influence of such a sentiment, whether avowed in the hearing of younger Brethren in the tyled recesses of the Lodge, or in the open streets, is too demoralizing in its tendencies, and too dangerous in its consequences on the character of the whole Institution, to be permitted to pass unnoticed and unrebuked, by any Lodge, Grand or Subordinate, entertaining a proper respect for its own character and rightly appreciating its position and relations to the Fraternity at large.
In view of this and other cases almost as remarkable, which are constantly being presented to our notice, we may be permitted to say, in conclusion, that strange doctrines and practices are rapidly finding access to our Lodges, and obtaining credence among our younger and otherwise intelligent Brethren, to the utter subversion of the true principles and whole some precepts of genuine Masonry. We will not stop now to inquire particularly into the cause of this, though we think it may be easily traced. It is sufficient for our present purpose, to caution our younger Brethren against adopting as true every plausible theory, whether in practice or discipline, that may chance to fall under their eyes. "All is not gold that glistens", and we are told that since the days of the Apostles the land has been full of " false teachers." Above all things, let them avoid itinerant lecturers and pedlars of flashy Masonic literature of every description, if they desire to become intelligent and useful members of the Fraternity, or if they would understand its principles and realize its benefits. There are reliable teachers and books enough at their command, without resort ing to vagrants or works of doubtful authority, for instruction. Most young Masons are ambitious to learn and should be encouraged. Some are ambitious to teach before they have learned. Such will never become safe or reliable guides, though they may attain to high position and some distinction among their Brethren. Like all other branches of learning and science, Masonry, to be understood and appreciated, must be studied. This requires time, as well as facilities. A knowledge of the subject can not be acquired in a day or a year. The technicalities of the ritual may be learned, but the ritual is only the alphabet; and, unfortunately, that is too often but imperfectly taught. Even in this important respect, many intelligent Brethren are too ready to. adopt the vagaries of ignorance, and to follow the lead of inexperienced and incompetent guides.
Suspension of Lodge By-Laws
From Vol. XII, No. 12, October 1853, p. 356:
A correspondent at Fairhaven, Conn., writes us, that in June, his Lodge was closed until its regular meeting in September, making no provision for special meetings. He thinks this was not lawfully done, and asks our opinion on the following statement of the facts:
At the meeting in June, there were present seven members only, out of about ninety belonging to the Lodge. A motion was made to suspend the July and August meetings. After discussion the W. M. put the question, when four members voted in the affirmative, one in the negative, and two did not vote at all. He gives the following sections from the By-Laws :—
- "The stated communications of the Lodge shall be on the first and third Tuesdays of every month.
- "When any alteration of these By-Laws is proposed, the proposition shall not be acted on until the next regular communication; when such proposed alteration may be made, by a vote of two-thirds of the members present.
- "No article of these By-Laws shall be dispensed with, except by a vote of two-thirds of the members present."
On the foregoing statement and extracts from the By-Laws of the Lodge, he predicates the following interrogatories :—
- Is not the vote, dispensing with the July and August meetings, an alteration or amendment of the By-Laws, requiring a previous proposition?
- Was the vote passed in conformity with the third section of the By-Laws?
- Is said third section in agreement with Masonic usage? If so, what security have we against members whose friendly attachments, or ardent desire to carry a cherished measure, may lead them to take advantage of a thinly attended meeting?
- Can the doings of the special meetings, held since the adjournment in June, be properly entered in the minutes, and if so, how will they read in connection with the sections, as given above, from the By-Laws?
- Can a vote adopted at a regular meeting be reconsidered at a special meeting?
- Is it proper for a Lodge to suspend its regular meetings, and hold special meetings in the interim?
1. The vote dispensing with the July and August meetings was a temporary suspension of the By-Laws, as provided for by the third section, and not such a permanent alteration or amendment as is contemplated by the second section. The distinction is sufficiently marked in the By-Laws, and if the rule was complied with the proceeding was regular. The difficulty lies in giving to two-thirds of the members who may happen to be present at a thinly attended meeting, the power to effect, by a temporary suspension of a regulation, what they might not be able to accomplish were a permanent alteration of the By-Laws rendered necessary for the purpose. We shall have occasion to refer to this point again.
2. A vote of two-thirds of the members present was required to suspend the By-Law fixing the stated meetings of the Lodge. The records give seven as the whole number of members present, and four as the number voting in the affirmative. As four are not two-thirds of seven, the vote was lost, and the July and August meetings should have been held as required by the By-Laws. That but five of the seven members voted, does not affect the result. "He who is not for me is against me." The third section declares, that "no article of the By-Laws shall be dispensed with, except by a vote of two-thirds of the members present"—not by two-thirds of the votes cast. Seven members were present; and as no one of them could conveniently be cut up into fractions, it required five whole votes to decide the question affirmatively. These were not given.
3. Our opinion on this point is, that the power to suspend a By-Law of a Lodge, resides in the Grand Master, and, in certain cases, in his Deputy ; but nowhere else, unless otherwise determined by the Grand Lodge. It is a high power, and in irresponsible and injudicious hands, may be used to disastrous effect. We know very well that the exercise of it is some times assumed by. the Lodges; but this neither confirms the propriety nor the legality of the proceeding. Lodges, from the want of proper information, or careful consideration, not infrequently assume the exercise of powers which are not strictly within the range of their authority and duties. Such assumptions are to be regretted, though no immediate evil may result from them. They establish bad precedents, and lead to diversity of practice. They do more than this. They not only afford a reason in which the designing may attempt to seek justification for his wrong-doing, but they mislead others, whose only desire it is to do right. A Lodge possesses general and specific powers. The latter, at least, should be clearly defined in its by-laws, subject to the approval of the Grand Lodge, by whose authority alone it exists. When so approved, the by-laws should not be changed but with the approbation and consent of the approving body. This is the practice in many of the States, and as a conservative rule, is worthy of general adoption. It gives permanency to the regulations of the Lodge, and security and regularity to its proceedings. Under such a restriction, the danger of hasty amendments and changes is of course avoided, as no alterations can become effective until they receive the sanction of the approving power. The inquiry of our correspondent is pertinent. If the By-Laws may be suspended at the pleasure of a majority or two-thirds of the members present, the absent members have no security whatever that the Lodge may not be disbanded, and its property disposed of at any moment, or that its affairs may not be so mismanaged, by a small number, as to involve all the members in unpleasant or discreditable con sequences. The practice is not consonant with Masonic usage, nor is it a safe one. We think our Brethren in Connecticut would find it more to their security as a Lodge, and to their individual satisfaction, to abandon it.
4. The Secretary would certainly be guilty of a culpable neglect of duty, if he were to omit to record the doings of any meeting of the Lodge, called by authority of the Master. With the question of the legality of the meeting he has nothing to do, in his official capacity. His business is to keep a faithful record of all that is done in the Lodge, proper to be recorded. The Grand Lodge will look after the rest, if invited to do so. But our correspondent has misconceived the powers of the Master. We have already said that a Lodge possesses general as well as particular powers. This is also true of the Master ; and one of his general powers is, to call special meetings of his Lodge, whenever in the exercise of his own judgment, he may think the interests of his Lodge require them. With the exercise of this power no special regulation of the Lodge can interfere. If the Master abuse it the remedy is to be sought for else where. With this explanation, we think our correspondent will find no particular difficulty in reconciling the course of the Master with the By-Laws of his Lodge.
5. No other business can be transacted at a special meeting, than that for which the Lodge is particularly called together. A vote, therefore, adopted at a regular meeting, cannot be reconsidered at a special meeting. We have so recently considered this subject in our pages, that we need not pursue it further.
6. Nothing is more common than for Lodges to suspend their regular meetings during two or three of the warm summer months, leaving the Master in the interim to exercise his privilege of calling special meetings, should occasion render them necessary. But for this purpose provision is usually made in the By-Laws,— the absence of which in those of the Lodge with which our correspondent is affiliated, has led to the difficulty of which he complains. We have little doubt that if he would propose such a provision as a substitute for the third section as it now stands, his Brethren would readily adopt it; and we entertain as little doubt that the By-Laws would be greatly improved by the change.
Trial of a Brother Under Suspension
From Vol. XII, No. 12, October 1853, p. 384:
"In answer to the inquiry of our correspondent at Lisbon, Ark., we beg to say, that a Lodge has an undoubted right to try a Brother under suspension, on any new charge of unmasonic conduct, and expel him, if the offence warrant, without wailing for the expiration of the previous sentence."
Surrender of Lodge Charter
From Vol. XIII, No. 1, November 1853, p. 21:
Muscatine, Iowa, September 13, 1853.
Br. C. W. Moore:—Will you be kind enough to publish in your Freemasons' Magazine, at your earliest convenience, the answers to the following interrogatories? And very much oblige your subscriber, L. D. P.
- Can a subordinate Lodge by a two-thirds vote, surrender her Charter, and by that act demiie? or is it necessary that the Charter should be received by the G. L. (or the G. M. during recess)? or, in other words, if a Lodge of say 24 members, should decide by resolution unanimously (with three exceptions) to surrender their Charter, and the R. W. Grand Secretary receives the same, with the effects—is it necessary that the Grand Lodge (or Grand Master) approve their action before the Lodge can cease to exist?
- What is the smallest number that can hold a Charter? or if there be three dissenting votes to a surrender, have those three the power to retain the Charter, the Grand Master granting permission?
- Where a surrender of Charter is not deemed advisable, can the members of a Lodge demit down to a lesser number.than seven; and if so to what number?
Answer. The whole matter is subject to local regulation. There being no provision in the Constitution of the Grand Lodge, to the contrary, under the general practice in this country, a majority of the members may vote to surrender the Charter. An acceptance of the Charter, either by the Grand Master or the Grand Lodge, we judge to be necessary to complete tlie surrender ; because a condition of things might exist, when it would be inexpedient, or even prejudicial to the interests of the Grand Lodge, or other parties, to dissolve the Lodge, without first providing for such contingencies as might arise from the measure.
As it requires seven petitioners to obtain a Charter, it would seem that a less number cannot continue to hold it. The regulation of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts on this subject, covers the whole ground of the inquiry of our correspondent, and as we held it to be a sound and conservative rule, based on correct Masonic principles, we quote it for his information; remarking, en passant, that it can hardly be urged as obligatory where the principle it embodies has not been recognized, or where a different practice has obtained :—
"As every warranted Lodge is a constituent part of the Grand Lodge, in which assembly all the power of the Fraternity resides, it is clear that no other authority can destroy the power granted by a warrant. If, therefore, the majority of any Lodge should determine to leave the Institution, or that Lodge, the constitution, or power of assembling, remains with the rest of the members, who adhere to their allegiance. If the number remaining shall, however, be reduced to less than seven, the charter shall be returned, agreeably to the regulation in such cases provided."
The Grand Lodge of England has a similar provision in its Constitution; but, as before observed, the whole matter is subject to Grand Lodge regulation. Where no such rule exists, under the practice in this country, a majority of the members are competent to vote to surrender the Charter; and under the same practice, we think no Lodge can exist with a less number of members than seven.
Rule of Succession to the Chair
From Vol. XIII, No. 2, December 1853, p. 39:
A correspondent asks, who, in the absence of the Master and both Wardens, is privileged to preside over the Lodge? His own opinion is given in the following words :—"I think it is lawful, in such cases, for the last Past Master, who has passed the Chair in that Lodge, to open the Lodge and do the work; and if the immediate Past Master is not present, then the next immediate Past Master may take the Chair."
Our opinion is, that in the temporary absence of the Master and both Wardens, who are in truth the only actual and responsible officers of the Lodge (all others being officers of convenience), the Lodge should not assume to transact business of any kind. If the three officers named are absent by reason of death, indisposition, or other cause, making their return to place and duty impracticable, we think the proper course for the Brothers of the Lodge, would be to petition the Grand Master for authority to fill the vacancies by means of an election. For this purpose the G. Master would himself attend; or commission some Past Master of the Lodge, or other qualified Brother, to preside in his absence. The reason that chiefly influences us to this opinion is, that the Master and Wardens are, alone, immediately responsible to the Grand Lodge for the manner in which the powers conferred by the Charter, are executed. If these powers are abused, or the regulations of the Grand Lodge broken down or disregarded by the Lodge, the Master, or in his absence, his Wardens, as the only responsible officers known to the parent body, must answer for the abuse; and it would hardly square with the strict rules of justice, to hold them accountable for the errors or misconduct of another, over whose proceedings, by reason of unavoidable absence, they could exercise no controlling influence. This objection is of course obviated, where there is a special provision in the Constitution of the Grand Lodge, authorizing a Past Master to preside in the absence of the actual Master and Wardens; because, in that case, the Grand Lodge assumes the entire responsibility. But such a provision is rarely to be found in the Constitutions of the Grand Lodges in this country. We must therefore look to the old regulations of the Order, to guide us in our inquiries as to what is the proper course in such emergencies, where no special regulation on the subject exists.
We are aware that a practice, like that indicated by our correspondent, formerly obtained, to some extent, in this country, though we believe it is now seldom resorted to; for the reason, perhaps, that in the present state of Masonry, and the general ability and faithfulness of its administrative officers, there is seldom occasion for it. But however this may be, it is not clear to our mind that the practice was ever authorized by any general rule or usage of Masonry. On the contrary, we think it arose in a misapprehension of the terms and intention of the original regulation governing the right of succession to the Chair. The rule referred to, and which authorized the immediate Past Master of the Lodge to preside, in the absence of the actual Master, did not contemplate the absence of both Wardens, also. Its language is as follows:— "In case of the death or sickness, or necessary absence of the Master, the Senior Warden shall act as Master pro tempore, if no Brother is present, who has been Master of the Lodge before; for the absent Master's authority reverts to the last Master present, though he cannot act until the Senior Warden has congregated the Lodge." It would seem, therefore, from the terms of this regulation, that the P. Master possessed no inherent right to preside in the absence of the Master of the Lodge, nor any other powers than those which were delegated to him by the Grand Lodge; and which he could exercise, only after the Senior Warden had congregated or assembled the Lodge together. We suppose a fair interpretation of the rule to be, that he presided under the authority of the Senior Warden; who was, in all other respects, the actual head of the Lodge. And this interpretation would, seem to be sustained by the circumstance, that at a subsequent period, the rule was changed, and the power to preside, in the absence of the Master, vested absolutely in the Wardens according to rank, even though a Past Master of the Lodge were present. The rule goes no further. It does not contemplate the absence of the three principal officers of the Lodge. It appears to regard that as an occurrence not to be anticipated. Hence it makes no provision for it; nor for the maintenance and continued existence of the Lodge, should it occur. It seems to assume that such an event cannot happen, and the Lodge continue to exist, without the intervention of the proper authority. And we shall search in vain among the old regulations of the Order for a different rule; or for any provision which authorizes a Past Master to assume the management and control of a Lodge, that has neither Master nor Wardens to give it vitality, or organization. Such a power, therefore, can exist only by virtue of a special provision in the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of the State, under whose authority the Lodge is acting. There is no law or usage of general application, on the subject.
The Grand Lodge of England, in view of the fact just mentioned, subsequently provided for the difficulty, by incorporating into its Constitution, a regulation in the following words:—"If the Master should die, be removed, or be incapable of discharging the duties of his office, the Senior Warden, and in the absence of the Senior Warden, the Junior Warden, and in the absence of both Wardens, then the immediate P. Master, or in his absence, the Senior Past Master, shall act as Master, in summoning the Lodge, until the next election of officers." And though the rule does not so declare, we presume that the Past Masters, in the order specified, are to preside. Our correspondent will perceive that this regulation is nearly in exact agreement with his own view of the matter. It is possible that he may have derived his impressions on the subject from it; though, as we have before remarked, the practice was not unknown in this country as far back as the close of the last century. We first find it authorized in Dermott's Ahimon Rezon of 1783, though it is not contained in the original work. The provision, as given in the Pennsylvania edition of that year, is, that "If none of the officers be present, nor any former Master, to take the Chair, the members, according to seniority and merit, shall fill the places of the absent officers." (We doubt if Dermott should he held responsible for this absurdity. It is probably an Americanism, foisted into his work, without his knowledge or consent.) It might, with equal propriety, have gone one step further, and provided, that, in case of the absence of all the members, the Tyler should be authorized to call upon the visiting Brethren present, to "fill their places" and work the Lodge?
Our correspondent, we think, must come to a conclusion, that the power is not inherent in the Past Masters, and that to deny them the right to exercise it, in the absence of any special provision in the Constitution of their Grand Lodge to the contrary, is doing them no injustice.
Objection to Advancement
From Vol. XIII, No. 3, January 1853, p. 96:
"E. H. C. — Columbia, Texas.— It is competent for a Brother, not present at the first balloting and initiation, to object to the advancement of the candidate, for good and sufficient reasons, but not from mere personal motives, aside from the true principles of Masonry. A stranger should certainly be required to furnish such evidence as will satisfy the examining committee that he is a true Mason, before he is admitted into the Lodge as a visitor. Of the sufficiency of this evidence the committee are the only proper judges."
Secrecy of the Ballot
From Vol. XIII, No. 4, February 1854, p 111; From the address by the Grand Master:
I deem it important to call the attention of the Lodges to the matter of balloting for the admission of candidates. First, as to the mode. This ballot is, and is to be, strictly secret. It is the Mason's great prerogative. It is a right which every member enjoys, and which he is bound to exercise faithfully, impartially, and conscientiously. With him alone, rests the responsibility of its use. This prerogative is of a twofold character: — a Mason has a right to cast a ballot, which shall reject the application of a candidate, but, moreover, he is entitled to do this, in a manner that shall be a profound secret to all his Brethren. This is another and an important part of his privilege.
The ballot is taken in some, and probably in most Lodges, in such a manner, that really, it is no secret at all. I would recommend such a construction of the ballot boxes, as will make the ballot what it was intended to be, — profoundly secret to all persons, whatever. In this connection, allow me to say further, that every member should feel, that the welfare of the Institution, is in a great degree, committed to his keeping, so far at least, as the admission of candidates involves its welfare. The humblest member holds the key of the door, in the form of a black ball, which is more effectual than bolts and bars, or armed sentinels can be. On the other hand, they should be watchful over themselves, that this great power, be never exercised by them, under the impulse of unjustifiable motives. Personal prejudices and private differences should not be suffered to intrude themselves into the affairs of this fraternal relationship.
Improper Use Of Masonic Influence
From Vol. XIII, No. 4, February 1854, Page 111; From the address by the Grand Master:
I feel called upon to speak an earnest word of caution against what I fear, has not, unfrequently, been practised, by some, who have not fully understood or appreciated the principles of our Institution. Is'o member should take advantage of a new Masonic acquaintance, to further ends and interests, which are strictly personal. A newly initiated Brother may be led to feel that he is under some kind of obligation to do business or political favors, which, under other circumstances, he would positively decline doing, when really no such obligation whatever exists. By such an abuse of our privileges, new members may have sometimes suffered no little inconvenience. Such unmasonic conduct is reprehensible, in itself, while it serves to bring reproach upon our Fraternity.
From Vol. XIII, No. 4, February 1854, p. 118:
[The following able report on this subject, was adopted by the Gen. Grand Chapter of the United States, at its late triennial session; and, so far at least as R. A. Masonry is interested, settles the question of the admissibility of persons who are maimed or imperfectly formed in body]:—
"At the triennial communication of your Honorable Grand Body, holden at Boston, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on the 10th day of September, A. D. 1850, the following resolution was introduced by Companion Tallman, of the Grand Chapter of the State of Maine, and referred to the undersigned, as a committee, to report thereon at the present meeting of your Honorable Body.
Resolved, That a committee be appointed, to report at the next triennial meeting, whether any of the Chapter degrees may be conferred on persons maimed or otherwise imperfect in body.
"Your committee having attended to the business thus assigned them, now respectfully report:—
"That they have investigated the subject with such Masonic light and information as they have been able to command, and now present to this General Grand Body the reasoning which has proved satisfactory to themselves, and the results to which it has led them.
"It appeared to your committee necessary to settle in their own minds at the outset, whether in relation to the subject they were considering, the degrees which are arranged in the United States, under the control of the Royal Arch Branch of the Order, and those which remain subject to the government of the Blue or Master Lodges, are to be understood as standing upon the same ground. They arrived at the conclusion that there was no good reason for making any distinction between them, in the application of any general rule which might be found, either by authority or policy, legitimately applicable to the subject. . .
"Your committee have naturally been led to the inquiry, whether the subject submitted to their consideration, is one which rests Masonically on constitutional law, or is one of those general matters which is open to the ordinary regulations of Masonic policy. If, upon investigation, it is found to fall under the former, then it is beyond the exercise of a general discretion, stands paramount to all questions of policy, and absolutely supercedes any consideration of it, in that view. If, however, it is found to fall under the latter description, it stands open for regulation on any state of existing circumstances, upon the judgment of those, who, in such a state of things, have the right to control it, for the best interests of the Order.
"We have all been taught, and it is the teaching which comes to us from ancient days, that it is not in the power of any man or body of men, to make innovations in the body of Masonry. We have been taught also, that we are only to submit to the awards and resolutions of our Brethren, when conveyed, when they are consistent with the Constitutions of the Order; and further, that we are not even bound to conform to the edicts of the Grand Lodge itself, if they are subversive of the principles and ground work of Masonry.
"Your committee then feel the full force of the appropriate inquiries, in pursuing this question. What is the body of Masonry, the Constitutions of the Order, the principles and ground-work of Masonry; and do they, or either of them contain any authority upon the subject now under investigation?
"To approach the subject intelligently, it seems necessary to advert to a portion of our history.
"The Masonic Order, after one of those eclipses in her prosperity to which all human institutions are subject, was revived in England, at the meeting of four Lodges in London, in February, A. D. 1717. These were the only Lodges then existing in the south part of that Kingdom, and they then formed themselves into a Grand Lodge, for which they elected a Grand Master at the following festival of the anniversary of Saint John the Baptist. When the Grand Lodge was formed, 'the original constitutions were established as the basis of all future Masonic jurisdiction in the south of England, and the ancient landmarks, or the boundaries set up as the checks to innovation, were carefully secured against the attacks of future invaders." It was then established also, 'as an unerring rule, at every installation, public and private, for many years afterwards, to make the Grand Master, and Master and Wardens of every Lodge, engage to support the ancient constitutions, to the observance of which, also, every Mason was bound at his initiation.'
"The next year George Payne was chosen Grand Master of this Grand Lodge. During his official term, he 'earnestly desired that the Brethren would bring to the Grand Lodge any old writings or records, concerning the Fraternity, to show the usages of ancient times. In consequence of this invitation, several old copies of the Gothic constitutions were produced, arranged, and digested.
"Your committee deem it important to remark, as to this Grand Lodge, that it did not assume to do more than to preserve intact, the Masonic institution as it found it, as to all its peculiar practices, and the principles which had governed it from early times. It recognized the ancient Grand Lodge at the city of York, and considered itself bound by the ancient Masonic charges acknowledged as authority in that Grand Body. The old Grand Lodge at York, as is well known to all familiar with Masonic history, was established in June, A. D. 926, under the patronage of Edwin, Brother to Athelstan, the then reigning monarch in England. These Masonic charges did not originate at York, but were simply put into form there, the materials being derived from records of an older date. The historical account is in these words: Prince Edwin summoned all the Masons in the realm to meet him in a congregation at York, in June, Anno Domini, 936, who came and composed a General or Grand Lodge, of which he was the Grand Master. And having brought with them all the old writings and re-cords of the Craft extant, some in Greek, some in Latin, some in French, and other languages, from the contents thereof, that assembly framed the constitutions and charges of an English Lodge, made a law to preserve and observe the same, in all time coming, and ordained good pay for the working Masons.
"In the new English Grand Lodge formed by the four Lodges at London, in 1717, we find the same course taken to collect the ancient charges and constitutions of the Order, as had been previously taken at York, in the year 926.
"In 1721, the Duke of Montague was chosen Grand Master of this English Grand Lodge. Soon after his election, he directed Doctor Desaguliers and James Anderson, A.M., to 'revise, arrange, and digest the Gothic constitutions) old charges, and general regulations.' At the communication of this Grand Lodge, on the festival of Saint John the Evangelist, in that year, those Brethren had performed the duty assigned them, and presented their labors for approval. A committee of fourteen Teamed Brethren was then appointed to examine their manuscript and report. At a communication holden on the 25th of March, A. D. 1722, this committee reported, that they had 'perused the manuscript, containing the history, charges, regulations, &c, of Masonry, and after some amendment, had approved thereof.'The Grand Lodge ordered the whole to be prepared for the press and printed ; and within two years (A. D. 1723,) the book of constitutions appeared in print.
"Here, then, we have our first printed book of constitutions, compiled with care by learned Masons, sanctioned by the authority of a Grand Lodge, from which it is our pride to have descended, and professing to place us in possession of the "history, charges, and regulations" of our Ancient Masonic Brotherhood. Your committee are not aware of the existence of any book of general Masonic authority, or of any other authority, or other sources, carrying with it an equally clear and well defined Masonic sanction. . .
"It seems very clear to your committee, that what is meant to be expressed peculiarly by the Ancient Constitutions of Masonry, is not the mere regulations of any Lodge or Grand Lodge, ancient or modern, whether contained in what have been sometimes called constitutions, or in general regulations or By-Laws. . . Your committee cannot better define what they understand by the term " ancient constitutions," than by adopting the definition given by Companion J. W. Mitchell, of Montgomery, Alabama. That Companion defines them to be t Those immemorial laws which have been handed down from age to age, and from generation to generation, no one knowing whence they originated, and no one having the right to alter or change them, but all being equally bound by a fair and liberal interpretation of them." These, he considers, as our ancient landmarks, which are not only fundamental but unalterable, and he understands them to be collected in that portion of Anderson's book which gives the old charges or the Free and Accepted Masons. 'These old charges', he informs us, 'have never been altered or changed. They stand, in the Grand Lodge of England, at this day, clothed in the same language, without a word being stricken out or added to. No Grand Lodge in the world has attempted to alter or change the wording of this old code of laws; and although they have been violated again and again, generally through ignorance, no Masonic body has ever republished a mangled copy of them, or in any way altered their meaning, except the illegal G. Lodge of London, calling itself the G. Lodge of Ancient Masons, generally known as the Athol G. Lodge.' Of this so-called Athol G.Lodge, Lawrence Dermott was G. Secretary, and subsequently Deputy G. Master, and published his Aliiman Rezon, (which professed to contain the ancient constitutions of the Order,) by its order or permission, in 1772. This book has met with better fortune in the United States than the constitutions of Anderson, having been several times reprinted, and adopted as a text book, by several State G. Lodges. It is, however, in the opinion of your committee, never to be regarded as Masonic authority when it is found conflicting with the constitutions of Anderson.
"Your committee having thus attempted to ascertain what is the true source of Masonic authority, which embraces what is emphatically distinguished as our ancient landmarks, have proceeded to inquire whether, among those ancient landmarks, the particular subject submitted to them has a place, and if so, what are the provisions relating to it? In examining the authority which they deem paramount to all others, they find the following provision:—
No Master should take an apprentice unless he has sufficient employment for him, and unless he be a perfect youth having no maim or defect about hit body Hat may render him incapable of learning the art, of serving his Master's Lord, and of being made a Brother, and then a Fellow Craft, in due time.
"Your committee have not been able to obtain an original copy of Anderson. They feel confident, however, that the clause above cited is literally correct. It ia precisely as it stands in the reprint in Companion Mitchell's Masonic Signet, confirmed by a copy from the original copy of Anderson, in possession of Companion Moore, of Boston, and agrees verbatim with a copy of the charges in possession of your committee, published at Edinburgh, in 1701, during the G. Mastership of David, Earl of Leven, over the Grand Lodge of Scotland. - The provision does not describe a man wholly and entirely perfect as to physical qualities. It is plainly limited in its character. It supposes, upon its face, that a man may have imperfections of body which do not amount to disqualification. If they are not such as to render him " incapable of learning the Art," then, beyond all question, he is eligible to be made a Brother.
"Your committee, then, having treated the question as one resting upon consti tutional paramount authority, and not upon mere regulation ; having investigated the authority which, in their opinion, should govern the decision upon it, and hav ing satisfied themselves that the subject matter is not a question of mere policy, but one which involves an " ancient landmark" of the Order, have reached the un avoidable conclusion, that it is competent and Masonically lawful for Bowl Arch Chapters, as well as Blue Lodges, to confer the respective degrees of Masonry, properly conferrable by each, upon all candidates whose defects of bodily qualifica tions are not such, as to prevent them from conforming literally to what the several degrees respectively require of them. If their physical capacities enable them to do this they are admissible, and can comply with every requisition of the Order. Your committee are perfectly aware that the Ahiman Rezon contains a differ ent rule, and requires a candidate to be perfect in every bodily qualification; but they have already said that they do not acknowledge that work as authority when it conflicts with the constitutions of Anderson.
All which is respectfully submitted.
"Philip C. Tucker,
Scott J. Tallman,
Wm. T. Gould,
Lexington, Ky., Sept. 13, 1853.
From Vol. XIII, No. 5, March 1854, p. 129:
Who are Past Masters, in the true and legitimate acceptation of the term? We have answered this inquiry, we do not know how often, and still it is made; and it will probably continua to be made, if not of us, of others, until the Grand Lodges in the country shall settle it, once and for all time, so far as it is applicable to them and the Lodges under their, control, by incorporating its true answer into their Constitutions. It will con tinue to come up; because, young, intelligent, and inquiring minds, who feel an interest in the answer, are continually pressing forward into our Institution, and taking their appropriate places with the active members of our Lodges.
Among this class of our Brethren, a spirit of inquiry has been awakened, which, if it were possible, it would be neither generous nor wise to discourage or repress, even though we should thereby sometimes avoid the necessity of repeating our own word*, or answering questions which, to more experienced minds (Masonically speaking), are in themselves so plain and simple, as seemingly to be unworthy of serious attention. It by no means follows, however, that apparently simple questions are the most easily answered, or the best understood, even by old and experienced Brethren. The inquiry at the head of this article furnishes a good illustration of this. Clear in its terms and simple in its inception, it has become, from a variety of causes, complex in its nature. It is now presented to us, embarrassed with extraneous conditions, and in a twofold character. Before any complete and sufficient answer can, therefore, be given, it becomes necessary to analyze it, and define its parts, and to show the relation which exists between them, as well as the appropriate sphere and purposes of each. This would be an easy matter, but for two considerations, namely—first, that intelligent Brethren differ in their opinions respecting the true relations of these parts, or whether in reality such a two-fold character exists; and, secondly, that the practice in re spect to the privileges which the degree, as a whole, confers on the recipient, is as much at variance as the opinions. It is this condition of the question which has perplexed our correspondent, and led him to propose the following interrogatories:—
- What constitutes a Past Master?
- Does the receiving the degree of Past Master as conferred in the Chapter, do this?
- If this be so, then, is a Past Master, so made, thereby qualified, all other things being equal, to fill the Chair in a subordinate Lodge, or an office in the Grand Lodge, one of the prerequisites of which is, that the officer shall be a Past Master?
1. As has already been, intimated, we can arrive at an intelligible answer to the first and second of these inquiries, only by considering the Past Master's degree with reference to its two-fold character, namely, as an intercalary and preparatory degree in the Chapter, and as a qualification for the presiding Master of a Craft Lodge. Looking at the question from this stand-point, we answer, that a Brother who has taken the degree as conferred in the Chapters, is a Past Master, in a qualified sense, and with reference to his connection with Royal Arch Masonry. Under that organization, he is entitled to all the privileges which its possession confers. The rule of the Chapters, in this country, requires that the candidate for the Royal Arch degree shall, previously to his exaltation, possess the Past Master's degree. To carry this rule out in its ancient strictness, would reduce the Chapters and their members to a very limited number; for, in that case, none but actual Past Masters of Craft Lodges, would be eligible as candidates. To meet this difficulty, the Chapters,—whether wisely or not, is now immaterial,—have resorted to an ingenious fiction, by which they are enabled to evade this rule of their Order, and confer the Royal Arch degree without restriction as to numbers. For this pur pose only, is the Past Master's degree tolerated in the Chapters. But when so given, it confers no privileges that can, as of right, he asserted, or made available, in 'a Lodge or Grand Lodge of ancient Craft Masonry. To admit the opposite principle, would be to admit the right of the Chap ters to impose conditions on the Grand Lodges, in the exercise of their powers and the distribution of their privileges. This then is the answer which Royal Arch Masonry gives to the first and second inquiries of our correspondent.
2. Ancient Craft Masonry gives another and more satisfactory answer, in the following words,:—-
"A Brother who, having been duly elected and installed, has served one term, as Master of a Lodge, working under the jurisdiction and authority of some Grand Lodge, is alone entitled to the rank and privileges of a Past Master."
This answer says nothing of the Past Master's degree; for, ancient Craft Masonry knows nothing of any such degree. The credit of that invention rightfully belongs to the Chapters. The essentials and the cere monies, which they have appropriated and dignified with the name of a degree, Craft Masonry claims as its own. They are the legitimate prop erty of its installation service, and the rightful inheritance of the presiding Masters pf its Lodges. They have been wrongfully wrested from it; but it yields to the necessity which that wrong imposes, with a commendable gracefulness and forbearance. Tempora mutantur et mutatur in ill is. Nevertheless, the only answer which, as ancient Craft Masonry, it can give to the inquiry of our correspondent, is, that a Past Master is a Brother who, having been duly elected and installed, has presided as Master over one of its Lodges. It knows no other Past Masters than those who have served in the capacity of presiding Masters of Lodges which it has itself constituted and authorized. This is the answer of ancient Masonry ; and it is the only answer which a Grand Lodge, adhering, strictly and literally, to the ancient rule and usage, can properly recognize. It is the only answer known to the Grand Lodge of England, and, so far as we are informed, the only one known to any Grand Lodge, out of the United States, organized on the basis of ancient York Masonry, as understood and practised in this country and in England. Other rites are governed by laws peculiar to themselves, and they may entertain a different principle. But with them we have nothing to do, in the discussion of questions predicated on the laws and usages of the rite we, as ancient Craft Masons, recognize and practice.
3. We proceed to the consideration of the third interrogatory submitted by our correspondent. As in the case of the two preceding inquiries, this is not without its difficulties. A practice has obtained in this country, which is at variance with both the letter and spirit of the ancient usage. This necessarily embarrasses the answer. It may, however, be safely repeated, in reference to the first branch of the inquiry, that the mere act of receiving what is called the Past Master's degree in a Chapter, per se, confers no qualifications or privileges on the recipient, that can be made available to his advantage in a Craft Lodge. This proposition does not we think admit-of controversy. It follows, therefore, that in case the by laws of the Lodge require, in the absence of the Master, that any specific duty,—as the installation of the officers, the presiding on public occasions, or the conferring of the degrees,—shall be performed by a Past Master, a Brother who has received the degree in a Chapter, is no better qualified, simply from that circumstance, nor has he different or stronger claims to the privilege, than any other private member of the Lodge. He is not a Past Master of that or any other Lodge, within the true and proper meaning of the term. Any other construction of the rule would be to travel out of the record of ancient Craft Masonry, and concede to a foreign body, the right to confer privileges on young and inexperienced members, which can be acquired in the Lodge, by old and experienced members, only by virtue of election, and as rewards for patient industry, acknowledged qualifications, and acceptable services. Such a construction of the rule cannot be admitted, without compromising the independence - of the Lodge, and the equity which should govern all its proceedings. Before leaving this branch of the inquiry, it may be proper to notice a practice which has obtained in many of our Lodges, and which, to a limited extent, would seem to be a recognition of the validity of the ceremo nies given in the Chapters as the Past Master's degree.
We have before intimated that the essentials of the degree, as given in the Chapter, legitimately and of right belong to the installation service of of the Lodge, from which they have been taken. They constitute a part of the ceremony of inducting the Master elect into his office, and are referred to by Brother Preston, in the following words :—"The new Master is then conducted to an adjacent room, where he is regularly installed, and bound to his trust in ancient form, in the presence of at least three installed Masters." The intelligent Past Master will comprehend the true intent of this language, though the terms employed in the quotation, would seem to imply that the whole ceremony of installing the Master, was anciently per formed in an "adjacent room"; but what follows in the installation service, negatives any such supposition. No other ceremonies were there performed than those which are now practised, when necessity requires, in apartments adjacent to our own Lodge rooms, and which are also sub stantially given in the Chapters, as the Past Master's degree. Hence it is that in the installation of a Master elect, the quasi Past Masters of the Chapters, are not always excluded from witnessing, and indeed are not unfrequently invited to aid, in this part of the ceremony. Hence, also, the practice to which we particularly refer, of omitting the ceremony alto gether, when the Brother to be installed has received the Past Master's degree as given in the Chapters. To this extent therefore, it would seem, that the Lodges, where the practice prevails, recognize the valid ity of the action of the Chapters. Whether this omission of the ceremony, in view of the ancient custom of the Craft, be justifiable and proper, may be regarded as an open question. It is not practised in England, nor is it permissible in all parts of our own country. Were a member, as one of three actual Past Masters of his Lodge, (neither being Royal Arch Masons), to be called on to install a successor to the Chair, he would, doubtless, be justifiable in denying the presence of a Chapter Past Master during the performance of this part of the ceremony ; for, though he might go into an examination of the Brother, with reference to his qualifi cations in this particular, he could have no sufficient assurance that his knowledge had been acquired in a manner to authorize his recognition of it as valid for the purpose claimed. Now, if he could not, under these cir cumstances, recognize such a Brother as a legitimate Past Master, could he do so under any circumstances ; knowing, that if he possessed the secrets of the Chair, he had not acquired his knowledge of them in the only lawful way known to him as a Master in ancient Craft Masonry? The modern practice would probably sustain him in accepting the fiction. for the reality; but the rule of ancient Craft Masonry does not deal in fictions. It therefore knows those only as Cast Masters who have presided over its own regularly constituted and authorized Lodges.
This brings us to the second branch of the inquiry, namely, whether the receiving the Past Master's degree in a Chapter, qualifies the recipient (in the restricted sense in which the term is used) to fill an office in the Grand Lodge, one of the prerequisites of which is that the incumbent shall be a Past Master?
Here, again, the practice is at variance with the rule, and the fiction is accepted for the reality. The distinction between the constitutional Past Master of the Lodge, and the quasi Past Master of the Chapter, is lost sight of. And so general .has this practice become, in this country, that any attempt to return to the strictness of the ancient rule, would probably be attended with much difficulty, if not found to be wholly impracticable. But with this we have nothing to do. Our present business is with rule, and not with any erroneous practice that has grown up under it. The latter we leave to the correction of those who possess the power to correct it. Taking the rule, then, in its ancient strictness and true interpretation, as our stand-point, we answer to this branch of the inquiry of our correspondent, as we have intimated in another place, that the receiving the Past Master's degree in the Chapter, does not invest the recipient with .the official qualification contemplated by the ancient regulations of Craft Masonry, in requiring that certain offices in the Grand Lodge, shall be filled only by Past Masters of Lodges. To this point we quote from those old Charges, generally known as the "Ancient Constitutions" of Masonry, as follows:—
" No Brother can be a Warden of a Lodge until he has passed the part of a Fellow Craft (Master Mason) ; nor a Master until he has acted as a Warden,(see note below), nor Grand Warden until he has been Master of a Lodge, nor Grand Master, unless he has been a Fellow Craft (Master Mason), before his election, who is also to be nobly botn, or a gentleman of the best fashion, or some eminent scholar, or some curious architect, or other artizan, descended of honest parents, and who is of singular great merit in the opinion of the Lodge."
(Note: The present practice is equally at variance with this rule, to the great detriment of our Lodges, and prejudice of the Institution.)
We presume there can no doubt arise in the mind of any intelligent Mason, as to the true meaning of the word Lodge, as here employed. When these old charges were written, Royal Arch Chapters, and Past Master's Lodges, at least as at present existing, were unknown. Masonry was then in its ancient purity, and consisted of three degrees, only. Nothing further is therefore required to show that the term did not, as it could not, apply to the quasi Lodges of the Chapters. It follows, then, beyond controversy, that the requirement of these regulations (and they are the irrevocable-laws of ancient Masonry), is, first, that a Brother shall be a Master Mason, and, secondly, that he shall have presided over a Lodge of Craft Masons, in the legitimate sense of the term, before he can be eligible to election as a Warden of the Grand Lodge.
In the case of the Grand Master, another rule obtains, and for reasons of policy, which are sufficiently indicated by the terms of the rule itself. It was, and still is, as a general thing, regarded as a wise provision, that the Grand Lodge should be left at liberty to avail itself of the best talent and highest character which it can command, in its chief officer. But, with the far-reaching.wisdom that characterizes all these old regulations, the rule provides, as an offset for any technical deficiencies in the Grand Master, that his Wardens shall be experienced and practical Masons,—that they shall have been working Masters of Craft Lodges. In the case of the Deputy Grand Master, the rule is equally clear, as follows.:—"For the better, and easier, and more honorable discharge of his office, the Grand Master has a power to choose his own Deputy Grand Master, who must be then, or must have been formerly, the Master of a particular Lodge"—not a Lodge of Chapter Past Masters, for the experience so acquired could be of no service to the Grand Master in the discharge of his duties, but of a working Lodge of Craft Masons; such, only, as were known and recognized by the Grand Lodge.
But this article is growing under our hands to an inconvenient length, and we must bring it to a close. What has been said, will be found, we trust, sufficient to show who are Past Masters,.under the regulations of an cient Craft Masonry, and according to the letter and spirit of the Masonic Constitutions. If We have been successful in this respect, then we think our correspondent will have no difficulty in arriving at the conclusion, that the receiving of the Past Master's degree in a Chapter, confers no privileges on the recipient that can properly be made available, under the old regulations, in a subordinate or Grand Lodge of ancient Freemasonry. The corollary of the matter is as follows: The receiving of the Past Master's degree in the Chapter, confers upon the recipient, all other things being satisfactory, the privilege of receiving the R. Arch degree, and qualifies him for admission, as a candidate, into some other branches of the Order. Here the purposes of the degree terminate, and its privileges cease. A Past Master, in Craft Masonry, is qualified and privileged, by virtue of his position, to preside over and perform all the functions and duties which properly belong to the Master of a symbolic or-Craft Lodge of Master Masons, and to fill any office in the Grand Lodge to which, his Brethren may see fit to elect him. As we have before said, a different practice has obtained to a wide extent in this country. Whether that practice be wise or not, is a question we are not now called upon to con sider. Our individual opinion favors a return to the old rule, being con vinced that if it were strictly adhered to, our Grand Lodges would be far bet ter and more efficiently officered than they are at present. But the rule should not stop in its application to the Grand Lodges. We would carry it out in its entirety, and bring the subordinate Lodges back to a< policy founded in wisdom—a strict adherence to which is due to their own best interests.
Resignation and Demit of Officers
From Vol. XIII, No. 6, April 1854, p. 161:
A correspondent proposes the following inquiry:— In the "Constitutional Rules," it is laid down as authority, that "no officer can resign his office after he is elected."
Query—Can any officer of a Lodge demit during his term of office? If so, which officers can, and which cannot?
Our correspondent has failed to inform us where the "Constitutional Rules" to which he refers may be found. His language would seem to imply that they are the general rules of Masonry, and should therefore be found in the "ancient Constitutions" or among the "old regulations" of the Craft. But we do not find the prohibition on which his inquiry is predicated in either of these sources. We infer, therefore, that it must be to the "Constitutional rules" of his particular Grand Lodge, to which he refers, and not to the general regulations of Masonry. This being so, the question becomes a local one, growing out of a local By-Law of his own Grand Lodge, to which we might, with great propriety, refer him for the information he desires; for it is not to be supposed that any Grand Lodge would incorporate a rule into its Constitution, the practical operation of which it has not properly considered and amply provided for. But, not to be thought discourteous, we will venture to answer for his Grand Lodge, (should the rule be found among its regulations,) so far as to suggest, that if an officer cannot resign his office after his election, we do not see how he can resign his membership during his term of office ; for, the resignation in the latter case, would necessarily carry with it a resignation in the former. A Brother may be a member of a Lodge without being an officer, but he cannot be an officer without being a member. If a member accepts office in the Lodge, he accepts it with all its condi tions. If one of these conditions be, that he shall not resign his office dur ing the term for which he is elected, another, and a consequent condition, is, that he shall not resign his membership during his official year. The two conditions are inseparable. The latter is obligatory and indispensable, as a means by which alone he can fulfil the former. It might have been better, because it would have removed all uncertainty as to the true intent of the rule, as cited by our correspondent, had his Grand Lodge gone one step further, and provided among its regulations, that a Brother in office shall not demit during the time for which he is elected. There can however be no doubt as to the nature and extent of the obligation imposed by the rule as it stands.
Such appears to be the force and authority of the rule, considered as a local regulation. But there is a more general view to be taken of it. We have seen it cited elsewhere, if not in terms, as a "constitutional rule," at least as a regulation based on ancient Masonic usage. We have not however been favored with any authority for so regarding it; and if such authority anywhere exists, it has not fallen under our observation. We are not acquainted with any ancient rule or usage, of general application, that denies the right of a member to demit from the Lodge, or to resign his place as an officer. (The old regulation that "no set or number of Brethren shall withdraw or separate themselves from the Lodge," we understand to apply, not to individual resignations, but to combinations, formed with a view to destroy the Lodge, or impair its working efficiency. And this construction of the regulation is sanctioned by the practice of England and this country.)
The rule in the Grand Lodge of England is, that "if any member shall withdraw himself from the Lodge, without having complied with its By-Laws, or with the general regulations of the Craft, he shall not be eligible to any other Lodge, until that Lodge shall have been made acquainted with his former neglect." And again—"Whenever a member of any Lodge shall resign," if he require it, "he shall be furnished with a certificate, stating the circumstances under which he left the Lodge." This, it will be perceiv ed, varies in some respects, from the practice recognized in this country; the difference being, that in England the right of the member to demit, or resign his membership, is held to be an absolute right, which he may exercise independently of any action on the part of his Lodge; while, in this country, he would be subjected to the condition hereafter noticed. (If under charges for misdemeanor, a member would not be allowed to demit until the complaint against him had been disposed of. His withdrawing his membership would not, however, relieve him of his accountability to the Lodge, or impair its authority over him.)
Neither would the Master, nor the Secretary, with us, as in England, be at liberty to furnish him with a certificate of dismissal, should he require it, until he had "complied with the By-Laws" of the Lodge, as well as the "general regulations of the Craft," and received a discharge, even though such certificate should "state the circumstances under which he left the Lodge.' The difference being, as before said, that with us the right is a conditional one, while in England it is absolute. But this difference is rather apparent than real; for though in England he may withdraw his membership at his pleasure, and without the consent of his Lodge, his honorable discharge is made to depend upon the condition, that he has fulfilled all his obligations to his Lodge. So, in this country, a member may withdraw — his obligations to his Lodge being fulfilled. The form or manner of doing so may, and does to a certain extent, differ from the English practice; but the principle is the same, namely, that of voluntary association, — the organic principle of the Institution.
But, asks our correspondent, may a member demit while in office? Or, in other words, may an officer resign his office before the expiration of the time for which he was elected? The "old regulations" of Masonry in form us, that "on the 25th Nov. 1723, it was agreed that if a Master of a particular Lodge is deposed, or demits, the Senior Warden shall forthwith fill the Master's Chair, till the next time of choosing." And in 1738, we find it recorded, that "Nathaniel Blakerby, Esq., the Treasurer (of the Grand Lodge of England), having justly cleared his accounts, demitted, or laid down his office." We have here a distinct recognition of the principle that an officer, either in a Subordinate or Grand Lodge, may, under the ancient customs of the Craft, "demit, or lay down his office." And this principle still holds, if there be no particular regulation of the Grand Lodge under whose authoiity he acts, to the contrary. Where such a regulation exists the principle becomes inoperative; for, as every Grand Lodge possesses an inherent and inalienable right to make regulations for the government of its Lodges, not inconsistent with the ancient Constitutions and landmarks of the Craft, it may unquestionably attach such conditions to the offices of its subordinates, as it shall, under the limitation just mentioned, determine to be necessary, or most advantageous to its own or their interests. It is manifest, therefore, that where such conditions exist, the member accepting office accepts the conditions, also; and these he is Masonically and morally bound to fulfil. The lex bci supersedes the ancient custom. If one of the conditions be, that he shall not demit, or "lay down his office," before the expiration of the term for which he was elected, then it follows, ex necessitate, that he cannot resign, or withdraw his membership, until that condition is fully complied with; for, he has neither a moral nor legal right to voluntarily place himself in a false position, with a view to evade the performance of an existing obligation. But where no such condition is attached to his election, we think he may, as for any general "constitutional rule" to the contrary, resign either his office or his membership, subject to the usual requirements of the "By-Laws of the Lodge," and the "general regulations" of Masonry. We cannot come to any other conclusion, viewing the subject as a question of right, and with reference to the old regulations and customs of the Order. A practice has, however, extensively obtained in this country—so extensively indeed that its claims cannot be disregarded—which materially qualifies and softens the absoluteness of the ancient usage, on which the agreement of 1723 is predicated, inasmuch as that it requires the consent of the Lodge, declared through the formality of the vote of the members, before the resignation of either member ship or office is held to be complete and final. Under this practice, an officer may tender his resignation, but until it has been accepted by vote of the Lodge, no vacancy exists. The principle on which the practice rests is, that a member accepts office under a specific agreement with the Brethren of the Lodge,—that he enters into a contract with them, the con ditions of which neither party is at liberty to break without the consent, or to the damage of the other. The rule,—for as such it may be regarded, in view of its extensive application,—is conservative in its ope ration, and we should regret to see it discontinued in practice. It enables the Lodge to maintain its integrity, by protecting its organization against any factious out-break among its officers.
The conclusions to which we come, then, in answer to the inquiry of our correspondent, are—1. That where, by a rule of the Grand Lodge, or of the By-Laws of the Lodge, an officer is denied the right to resign his place before the expiration of his official term, he cannot evade the obli gation of the rule by a resignation of his membership. 2. That where no such rule exists, he may, under the practice we have described, resign his office, or his membership, or both, the Lodge acquiescing therein; that is, accepting the resiguation ; and to such acceptance the Lodge is bound) its regulations and the general requirements of the Order having been complied with by the demitting member ; for it cannot, and ought not, to desire to hold any member by constraint or against his free-will. The principle of the association is voluntary ; and this is strong enough for all practical or useful purposes,—stronger far, and more powerful for good, than would be any coercive or more stringent rule.
Staying Proceedings After Ballot
From Vol. XIII, No. 6, April 1854, p. 169:
Baltimore, February, A. L. 5854.
C. W. Moore—Dear Sir and Br. : I address you on a subject the proper management of which I conceive to be of vital importance. The information I seek is not for personal benefit alone, but for the good of the Craft. Perhaps an exact case kas never occurred, though a similar may be known to yon. I will endeavor to be very particular in reporting the ease, as its importance demands due consideration, ud its settlement must stand a* a precedent. Do us therefore the kindness to answer in extenso.
R. petitioned our Lodge in the usual form for the mysteries of the Order. A committee was appointed, and to the best of their ability performed the duty assigned them. At our next regular meeting their report was favorable. The Lodge endorsed the report by their ballot, and R. was accordingly declared duly elected to receive the first degree in Masonry. R. was afterward informed of his election and promised attendance at the next meeting. Bnt before our next meeting an interview with the committee was requested by a worthy Brother M. M., a member of a sister Lodge, which being had, Br. ___ informed the committee that R. was unworthy admission into our Order, and entered so fully into particulars as to clearly satisfy the committee that R. was entirely unworthy the relation he sought of us. At __'s request, the committee called on other parties, who gave similar statements, proving R's unworthiness.
At our next meetig (being the one following R.'s election), the committee stated that, having at our last meeting, upon the best information they could obtain, reported favorably upon R.'s petition, they now begged to say, that that since that report, they had been informed by a Br. M. M. in good standing with the Order, and corroborated by testimony the most respectable, that R. is unworthy admission into our Order. As they (the committee) felt solemnly bound to give this information, they claimed the right to change their report from favorable to unfavorable.
There are several points which present themselves, growing out of this case.
- First. Was the committee discharged when they made their first report, or were they, as a committee, bound to report, after knowledge?
- Second. Could the W. M. stay the proceedings of the meeting, when the petition had been acted upon, he having the information as furnished the Lodge by the committee?
- Third. A ballot having been begun, must be finished same meeting,
- Fourth. A reconsideration of a ballot is striclty unmasonic.
- Fifth. The third and fourth points being beyond dispute, how are we to undo what we have done?
- J. S. B.
The proper course of proceeding in the above case is, to our mind, sufficiently plain and free from embarrassment. The candidate had petitioned in the usual manner, and his petition had been referred to a committee, who, after due inquiry, had reported in his favor, and he was balloted for and admitted. This discharged the committee. They had fulfilled the purpose of their appointment, namely, to inquire into the moral character and fitness of the petitioner to be made a Mason. With the acceptance of their report, and certainly with the subsequent ballot, their duties terminated. The parliamentary rule, — and there being neither rule nor usage to the contrary, it holds good in Masonic legislation, — is, that" when a sub* ject or paper has been committed, and a report made upon it, it may be recommitted, either to the same or a different committee ;" but, " the re port having been made and received, the committee is dissolved, and can act no more without a new power." In the case before us, the report was received and adopted; and by that act, the committee was dissolved.
(We have a private note from our correspondent reminding us, that in the lodges in Maryland, the ballot is taken on each degree. But,—Is a new application, and a new report from the committee, required on each degree? Do the committee report on the petition, primarily, in full, or do they make a partial report? If the latter, and they have permission, by vote of the Lodge, to continue their inquiries, then they are not discharged. Rut we think the Lodge cannot proceed on such a report. The candidate is qualified to receive the three degrees, or he is not qualified to receive either. The question, and the only question, for the committee to consider, is the moral character and fitness of the candidate. Having reported on this, they have discharged the whole duty of their appointment, and the acceptance of their report discharges them. If a new application becomes necessary, it is a new subject, and may be committed to the old or a new committee. If no such application is necessary, then there is nothing requiring a committee. If in the interim between the conferring of the first and the second degrees, any member, whether on the original committee or not, knows or learns any sufficient cause why the candidate should not be advanced, it is his doty to communicate the same to the Master or to the Lodge, and if the cause be not removed, to cast his negative on the ballot for the second degree,—where such a ballot is taken. Our correspondent seems to attach too much importance to this point in the case. It is wholly immaterial to the subject matter in question, whether the committee were discharged or not.)
After the committee was so dissolved, and before the initiation, certain alleged facts came to the knowledge of the members who had served on the committee, deeply implicating the moral character of the candidate, and which, if true, would render him unworthy of admission. These al leged facts, these Brethren, in view of their late report, and in justification of themselves, felt called upon to lay before the Lodge. This was right and proper. They did their duty, and nothing more; and having done this, they stood acquitted of all blame in the premises. But this exposure necessarily brought up the question—What, under the existing circumstances, is the duty of the Lodge ?
We understand the rule of Masonry to be, that "any member of a Lodge may object to the initiation, crafting, or raising of a candidate, at any time before the degree is conferred." The purpose of this rule is, manifestly, to place it in the power, and, by inference, to make it the duty, of each and every member to protect the Lodge, and, mediately, the whole Fraternity, against the admission of unworthy members. Now, the sec ond report, or, more properly, the subsequent information furnished by the Brethren who, as a committee, made the original report, was clearly such an objection as is contemplated by the rule; and until that objection is removed, the Master, however much inclined to do so, cannot proceed with the initiation without exposing himself to impeachment before his Grand Lodge. What then, is his duty ? The answer is plain :—To appoint a
committee to investigate the complaint, and report to the Lodge at its next, •or a special communication. If the report of the committee, so appointed, sustain the complaint, and it is accepted by the vote of a majority of the mem bers of the Lodge, the petitioner is rejected, and must be so recorded. The complaint suspended and placed the former action of the Lodge in abeyance. The second report reverses and abrogates it A second bal lot, at a future meeting, is not allowable, without a new proposition. If the rule were otherwise, under the circumstances stated, a second ballot could result only in rejection. Nothing would, therefore, be gained either by the candidate or the Lodge.
Suppose the report fails to sustain the complaint, but is adopted by a small majority only, of the members of the Lodge—how does the candidate then stand? We answer, eligible for initiation. Exonerated of the charges against him, he stands in the attitude of a member who has been tried and acquitted by his Lodge. The complainants had been afford ed every opportunity to prove, even on ex-parte testimony, the truth of the allegations against him, and had failed to do so, to the satisfaction of a majority of the members of the Lodge. The candidate must there fore be presumed to be guiltless. The civil law, as an iron-rule of equity, would not presume less than this. The Masonic law, as a rule of equity, is based on humanity, and cannot presume guilt where the severest scru tiny has failed to discover it. The friends of the candidate may claim, therefore, as a simple act of justice and humanity, in case the report is fa vorable, that he be reinstated in his original position, and restored to all the privileges to which he was rightfully entitled, before the complaint was preferred against him. The rule of the ballot is not applicable to the case in its present condition. That has already done its office, and cannot be renewed. The action of the committee was on the complaint, not on the original petition.
Trials of Demitted Brothers
From Vol. XIII, No. 7, May 1854, p. 193:
From a set of questions in jurisprudence sent from a correspondent (M.W. Phillips) in Edwards, Mississippi, dated March 4, 1854.
See vol. 8, of your work, page 58. I ask, can A. B. be tried by a Lodge after he has demitted from the Lodge, moved out of the jurisdiction and become a member of another Lodge and also an officer of his then Grand Lodge? A case of this kind has occurred — save that A. B. had not been a member in any other jurisdiction than the last,—only residing for a time under the first Grand Lodge. I do not think it correct, even if the question stands as above. Our laws are not parallel with laws of States, for Masonic law should be the same everywhere. (Our correspondent will find a parallel case discussed on Page 161, Vol. XI. of this magazine. We refer him to that discussion.)
In your Magazine, vol. 6, page 303, a Brother cannot be tried by Lodge A., when he has demitted and resides under jurisdiction of Lodge B., though under Grand Lodge of both,—how then could he be taken from another Grand Lodge and another Subordinate Lodge?
Our correspondent has not stated his cases with sufficient care and distinctness. We are therefore unable to say whether there are any differences of opinion between us or not. The case to which he refers as contained in the eighth volume of this Magazine, is a decision given by the Grand Master of the G. Lodge of Mississippi in 1848. The question was—"Has a Lodge the right to try a non-affiliated Mason for unmasonic conduct, committed while residing within the limits of said Lodge, after he has removed out of its jurisdiction, as well as out of the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge under which such Lodge is working?" The Grand Master answered this inquiry affirmatively. And this decision was substantially correct, though, perhaps, it needed some explanation. We understand the rule to be, that a Brother is amenable for any offence committed against the laws of Masonry, and in derogation of his obligations as a Mason, to the particular Lodge within whose jurisdiction he resides, and within which the offence istsommitted. And we understand, further, that it is not competent for him to set the authority of the Lodge at defiance, and escape the just consequences of his delinquency, by absconding beyond its jurisdiction. Such we believe to be the law and the practice applicable to this class of cases.
We cite a single case in illustration. In 1840, a Col. Correa Da Costa was made a Mason in Abram's Lodge, in the city of New York, arid subsequently left for parts unknown. In December of that year, communications were received by the Grand Lodge of New York, from South Carolina and Florida, implicating the moral character of Da Costa. These communications were referred to St. John's Lodge, No. 1, with instructions to investigate the conduct of the accused from the date of his initiation, and with power to adjudge the case. In March following, the Lodge made its report, "That the said Correa da Costa be, and he is hereby expelled from all the rights and privileges of Masonry." The report was adopted by the G. Lodge, and the G. Secretary officially requested, in the next printed proceedings of the body, that, if the Grand Lodge Certifi cate, then in the possession of the expelled, should be offered to any Lodge in the country, it might be " detained and returned to him," the delinquent being " no longer entitled to retain it." This was a case in point. Da Costa was a non-affiliated Mason. He had offended against the laws of Masonry, before and subsequently to his leaving the city of New York. He was imposing upon the Lodges, through his Masonry, and bringing disgrace upon the Fraternity by his conduct The Grand Lodge of New York, therefore, though the delinquent had gone beyond its territorial jurisdiction, very properly took the necessary measures to effect his expulsion, and to cause him to be exposed, for the protection of the Craft throughout the world. There are other cases on record, but this will probably be sufficient to remove the doubts of our correspondent, if we rightly understand him to entertain any doubts in this respect. The rule, as given in the Constitutions of several of the Grand Lodges in this country is, that if the residence of the accused be within the State and known, he shall be served with a copy of the charges and regularly summoned to appear and answer; but " if his residence be out of the State, and unknown, the Lodge may proceed to examine the charges, ex-parte." A Lodge would not, it is to be presumed, proceed in this way, but in extreme cases, like that above cited, where the interests and character of the Institution alike demand that the offender shall be promptly cut off.
The other case referred to by our correspondent, (as contained in this Magazine, vol. 6, page 303) is of an entirely different character, and was determined by an express provision of the Constitution of the Grand Lodge under whose jurisdiction it occurred. The Brother having been discharged from bis membership in one Lodge, had removed into the jurisdiction of another. The Constitution of the Grand Lodge of the State vested the power exclusively in, and made it the duty of the latter Lodge to take cognizance of the charges against him. It was a peculiar case. The offence charged was against the Lodge. The Lodge was the accuser, and could not, with propriety, be allowed to try the issue. Our opinion, therefore, was, that the charges should be brought before the Lodge nearest his residence, or submitted directly to the Grand Lodge, to be disposed of as that body should determine.
Powers of the Deputy Grand Master
From Vol. XIII, No. 7, May 1854, p. 193:
From a set of questions in jurisprudence sent from a correspondent (M.W. Phillips) in Edwards, Mississippi, dated March 4, 1854.
Can a Deputy Grand Master suspend By-Laws when the Grand Master is within his own jurisdiction, no resolutions of Grand Lodge existing to give him license, except in absence, &c. of Grand Master? I will state, say an imaginary case. Mr. A., petitions Lodge B. for Initiation. Brother C, having become soured by a rejection of a friend, declares he will reject any applicant in his Lodge. B., and a worthy man, such as A. is well known to be, is rejected, and C. declares he did it. Br. D., a Deputy Grand Master, feeling the injustice, suspends the By-Laws of Lodge Z., in same town, so that the petition of A. ran be received, balloted on and A. initiated, the same night. This is a very strong case, and one that would call forth the sympathy of any Brother; yet, can he, the Deputy Grand Master, suspend the By-Laws of a Lodge? No one can find fault with the heart that would desire to repair an injury, perpetrated by a wilful, headstrong Brother; but the question is to be determined according to Masonic law and usage.
I would even ask, if it is not doubtful authority to vest such power in even a Grand Master? The Grand Lodge makes valid the By-Laws of a Lodge, and yet the Grand Master is vested with rights to suspend. I would not regard it as an evil to suspend, so that two degrees may be conferred, on a ballot taken at a called meeting, for the purpose of exemplifying the work by a Grand officer; but the evil is in bringing into the Craft, a man, whom I might, for valid reasons, be the cause of rejecting.
We hold that the dispensing power is the inherent prerogative of the Grand Master, and that it can be lawfully exercised only by him, or, in his absence, by his Deputy, or whoever may constitutionally represent him as Grand Master. In the words of the old regulation, the Deputy "has the privilege of acting whatever the Grand Master, his principal, should act, unless the said principal be present, or interpose his authority by a particular command." The Deputy, therefore, clearly possesses the power to grant dispensations in the absence of the Grand Master. But it may be asked, what legally constitutes the absence of the Grand Master?
To this we answer—1st. He is absent whenever his Deputy may lawfully preside in Grand Lodge, that is, when his principal is not present—2d. He is absent when not within the proper limits of his jurisdiction.—3d. He is absent, technically and within the spirit of the rule, when by sickness or other cause, he is rendered incapable of discharging his official duties. In either of these cases the Deputy succeeds to his office and his powers. We are aware that in some sections of this country the Deputy is clothed with more extensive powers,—in some respects, coordinate with those enjoyed by the Grand Master. But as these powers are all dependent on local regulations, alone, it is obvious that where no such regulations exist, they cannot be lawfully exercised. Now, apply this rule to the case given by our correspondent, and it is manifest that the Deputy Grand Master assumed the exercise of a power that did not belong to him. The proper course would have been to prefer charges against C. for an abuse of his privileges as a member of the Lodge, and for unmasonic conduct in maliciously attempting to destroy the harmony and interrupt the proper business of the Lodge. Having openly confessed the act, and declared the motive and purpose of it, he had voluntarily placed himself beyond the protection of the law of the secret ballot, and rendered himself amenable to the Lodge for improper conduct as a member. We have before discussed this question.
Our correspondent seems to entertain doubts whether the power to dispense with the By-Laws of a Lodge, regulating the conferring of the degrees is wisely vested even in the Grand Master. (We infer from this that he does not hold to the doctrine that the Grand Master may make Masons in the "corner of a fence," " at sight.") In this he is not singular. We quote from the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of England, as follows:—
"Great discredit and injury having been brought upon our antient and honorable Fraternity from admitting members and receiving candidates, without due notice being given, or inquiry made into their characters and qualifications; and also, from the passing and raising of Masons without due instructions in the respective degrees, it is determined that, in future, a violation or neglect of any of the following laws shall subject the Lodge offending to erasure, because no emergency can be allowed as a justification."
"No person shall be made a Mason without a regular proposition at one Lodge, and a ballot at the next regular stated Lodge; nor until his name, addition or pro fession, and place of abode, shall have been sent to all the members in the summons.
"In cases of emergency, the following alteration, as to the mode of proposing a candidate, is allowed. Any two members of a Lodge may transmit in writing to the Master the name, &c., of any candidate whom they may wish to propose, and the circumstances which cause the emergency; and the Master, if the emergency be proper, shall notify the said recommendation to every member of his Lodge, stating the name, age, addition or profession, and place of abode, of the candidate; and may, at the same time, summon a Lodge to meet at a period of not less than seven days from the issuing of the summons, for the purpose of balloting for the candidate; and, if the candidate be then approved, he may be initiated into the first degree of Masonry. The Master shall, previous to the ballot being taken, cause the said proposition, and the emergency stated, to be recorded in the minute book of the Lodge."
To the above the following note is appended, viz :—"A dispensation cannot in any case be granted!"
Again. We quote from the same Constitutions as follows:—
"No Lodge shall, on any pretence, make more than five new Brothers in one day, unless by dispensation; nor shall a Lodge be permitted to give more than one degree to a Brother on the same day; nor shall a higher degree in Masonry be conferred on any Brother at« less interval than one month from his receiving a previous degree, nor antil he has passed an examination in open Lodge in that degree."
To this article the following note is appended, viz :—"No dispensation can be granted to suspend the operation of this law."
But, notwithstanding the above, we entertain no doubt that the power resides in the Grand Master; though we do doubt, exceedingly, the propriety and the policy of the free and indiscriminate use that is made of it The rule of the Grand Lodge of England, as cited above, is the result of a long and enlarged experience, and commends itself to our judgment by its conservativeness.
Rights of Past Masters
From Vol. XIII, No. 7, May 1854, p. 194:
From a set of questions in jurisprudence sent from a correspondent (M.W. Phillips) in Edwards, Mississippi, dated March 4, 1854.
3. Have Past Masters or Past Grand Officers, any inherent right to membership in a-Grand Lodge? If not, is it not prudent to have the Rules and Regulations so altered as to exclude them from membership?
Country Lodges cannot send up Past Masters and they do not relish the accumulation of power in cities, where Grand Lodges are held, through these Past Masters. Allow me to state :—In Natchez, or Vicksburg, or Jackson, there may be 40 to 60 Past Masters or Past Grand Officers,—say only 30,—these would render nugatory an opposing vote of 10 Lodges and perhaps 3 or 500 Brethren. If they have the right, so let it be; if not, let us amend.
Past Masters have no inherent right to membership in Grand Lodges. Wherever they are recognized as such, it is only by virtue of a local regulation. They were not known as members of Grand Lodges, until after the organization of the spurious Grand Lodge in London, of which the Duke of Athol was elected Grand Master in 1772. This practice, like some others still in use in this country, originated in that prolific source of innovation and mischief, and the sooner it is abandoned and the Grand Lodges return to the ancient and legitimate usage, the better it will be for their own happiness and the prosperity and honor of the whole Fraternity.
In respect to Past Grand Officers, the case stands differently. (Anciently, the only persons recognized as Grand Officers, were the Grand Master, his Deputy and Wardens.) The Past Grand Masters, Deputies and Wardens have for more than a century and a quarter been recognized as members of the Grand Lodge, and this we hold to be a wise regulation. Independent of the circumstance that in certain contingencies their presence and services are in a measure in dispensable in the organization and government of the body, they consti tute a most important and invaluable board of counsellors. Having enjoyed the highest honors of the Institution, they are presumed to be above the petty influences which too often sway the judgment of their younger and more aspiring Brethren. They are emphatically the "pillar of strength" to the Grand Lodge; and though their removal might not over throw or otherwise endanger the fabric, it would materially lessen its sup ports and mar its beauty. We could not regard a change in this respect, in any other light than as a great misfortune to the Grand Lodge in which it should take place, as well as a loss to the whole Fraternity. The General Grand Chapter made a faux pas at its recent triennial session, in depriving its own past officers of their hard-earned and well deserved privileges; but it made a blunder in turning out of doors its ablest counsellors. We should deeply regret to see any Grand Lodge follow that example.
From Vol. XIII, No. 9, July 1854, Page 257:
Burlington, Vt., April 14, 1854.
Charles W. Moore, Esq.—
Dear Sir and Br.:—At the suggestion of Brother N. B. H., of this place, I take the liberty of asking your attention to a few queries in regard to Masonic Law, which have been suggested by some circumstances which hare occurred recently in our Lodge.
- Is it competent for the Master of a Lodge to suspend the declaration of a ballot, which has been returned to him not clear, when he is informed at the time by Brother Masons, or is himself of the opinion, that the objections to the candidate can be removed by explanation and conciliation?
- Admitting this power to exist, what is the effect of such a course on the part of the Master upon the petition of the applicant? Does it have the effect of continuing the petition until it has been ascertained whether the objections can or cannot be removed in the manner above mentioned; or does it have the effect of immedately nullifying the ballot, so that no record should be made and no notice taken of the proceedings so far as they have gone; and so that the petition might again come before the Lodge, and be treated as if it was before them entirely de novo?
- Is it in the power of the Lodge, while the declaration of the ballot is thus suspended by the Master, to dismiss the petition or permit it to he withdrawn by the petitioner or his voucher?
- Is it not the duty of the Master, as soon as he finds that the objections to the petitioner cannot be removed, to declart that the ballot was not clear, and that the petition was rejected?
These inquiries are suggested by the following case :—An application for admission to our Lodge was presented and the boxes passed. They were returned to the Master not clear, when, as is customary with us, they were passed a second time to correct any mistakes which might possibly have occurred the first time; but on the second passing they were still returned not clear. At this juncture, before the vote was declared, several Brothers repaired to the pedestal before the Master, and informed him that they had no doubt the objections to the petitioner arose from a mistake, and could be corrected by an explanation. The Master thereupon suspended the declaration of the ballot, until he could ascertain by inquiry and conversation with the parties, whether the objections were of the character represented, and the petition was entered upon the record as continued till the next regular communication. The Master was not able to satisfy himself in regard to the matter for three or four months, and the petition was accordingly continued from month to month as before, when he at last ascertained that the objections were not of the character represented, and could not be removed. He then proposed to declare to the Lodge the result of the ballot, and to announce that the petition was rejected; when a motion was made that the petitioner have leave to withdraw his petition.
The Master was of the opinion that such a motion could not be entertained, that it was contrary to Masonic Law, and that the only proper course was to declare the ballot, and announce that the petition was rejected; that the contrary rule would (in case the petition was withdrawn,) allow the petitioner, against whom there were valid Masonic objections entertained by two members of the Lodge, to apply to some other Lodge for admission, if he felt disposed, and if elected, to return and sit in our Lodge, in company with those Brethren who but shortly before had said by their votes, that they could not entertain Brotherly and harmonious feelings towards him. Still, though the Master was of this opinion, it being a new and delicate question, it was thought best by him that the question should lay over one month, and in the mean time that Masonic authority should be consulted.
Br. H. and myself, as well as many others, were aware of no higher authority than yourself, and I have consequently presumed to trespass on your time and i attention with this lengthy epistle. The matter however is one of importance, | and if you can conveniently write me shortly in reply to my inquiries, you will confer a favor both upon our Lodge and
Your humble servant and Brother, W. G. S.
The above presents no points about which there can be any material differences of opinion among Brethren whose attention has ever been particularly called to a consideration of the laws which govern the admission of candidates. The case, however, is not only one of considerable interest, but is in some respects so peculiar in its details, that, though probably not designed by our correspondent for publication, we have taken the liberty to lay it before our readers. We do this with the more freedom, because it is clear to our mind, that the whole proceedings in the Lodge were conducted with entire propriety of feeling and in a commendable spirit. Doubtless the friends of the candidate were anxious to save nun from the consequences of a formal rejection, if that could be done consistently with the rules applicable to such cases. In this desire the Master seems to have been disposed to gratify them; but in his endeavor do so, he evidently mistook his duty and exceeded the bounds of his authority. He however, appears to have moved with proper caution, and has, by the correctness of his final decision, redeemed, so far as he was able, the error of the beginning. And this we regard as not the least interesting feature in the case. Where a desire to do right and a willingness to weigh opposing suggestions exist, an occasional error may be easily overlooked.
To the first interrogatory of our correspondent we give a negative answer. And this covers the entire ground of the inquiry. The subsequent proceedings all turned upon this point. Had the Master taken a right view of his duty in this respect, the case would have been disposed of without further trouble. But he failed in a just estimate of his official powers and prerogatives. He assumed a power over the ballot-box which he did not possess. He mistook his authority, in supposing that it was competent for him to withhold the result of the ballot which had just been taken. He should have declared it. This was his duty; and here his authority in the case terminated. Concede to the Master the right to suspend the ballot, after it has been ordered by the Lodge, or to refuse to declare the result when ascertained, and you invest him with a power such as no presiding officer, however arbitrary, ever yet assumed to exercise. You give him an absolute control over the highest, and what should be regarded as one of the most sacred, privileges of the members of the Lodge. You destroy the efficacy and conservative purposes of the ballot-box, and render it wholly impracticable, without the permission of the Master, to cause a rejection to be entered on the records, or certified up to the Grand Lodge, for the protection of the Order against the admission of unworthy applicants. The Master is clothed with no such power. It is his duty to declare the ballot when it is taken. If it be not clear on the first vote, under the usage in this country, he may order a second ballot, as a test of the correctness of the first. The ballot having been taken, the result must be declared and entered on the record. This result is the judgment of the Lodge acting in its highest capacity. The Master, having no more control over it, is bound, in common with every other member of the Lodge, to respect and submit to it, whatever may be his individual wishes or opinions.
It is a sufficient answer to our correspondent's second inquiry to say, that the power to suspend the ballot does not exist. If it did, then the effect of it would doubtless be to continue the case until the cause of suspension was removed, as suggested. We should, however, hold that, even in such a case, the record must show the precise character of the proceeding.
In respect to the third inquiry, our own opinion is, as we have often declared, that it is not a correct or safe practice at any stage of the proceedings, after it has been referred to a committee, to permit the friends of the candidate to withdraw his petition. Most certainly it is not competent for the Lodge to allow them to do so, after an unfavorable report or a negative ballot. An unfavorable report having been made, further time may be allowed to the committee, if the friends of the candidate ask for it, in the expectation of being able to remove the objections ; but the petition cannot, under such circumstances, properly be withdrawn, or dismissed by the Lodge. It can be correctly disposed of only through the ballot-box. The opposite course is pregnant with too many evils, and too hazardous in its consequences to the Fraternity at large, to receive the sanction of any intelligent Mason, or to be allowed in any well governed Lodge. The Master of the Lodge, in the case under consideration, took the right view of his duty in this respect, and our correspondent has stated his objections with force and clearness. The question, however, as it stood before the Lodge, and on which he gave his opinion, was of an uncommonly broad and extraordinary character. It was not simply whether a petition might be withdrawn under an unfavorable report, but whether it could be dismissed from before the Lodge under a negative ballot. A corresponding case is not in our recollection. But it is one in respect to a proper disposition of which neither the Master nor the Lodge ought to have entertained any doubts. The ballot had been taken, and it was adverse to the candidate. The Lodge had declared by its vote that it could not entertain the petition. Over this decision the Master had no control, neither had the Lodge. It was final. The subject was no longer in the possession of the Lodge ; neither could it be brought before it again, except by a new petition.
We are aware that the practice prevails to some extent in this country, of allowing petitions to be withdrawn before the report of the committee is received, when it is ascertained by the friends of the petitioner that the report will be unfavorable. But it is a loose and incorrect practice. It is an evasion of a sound and conservative law. It is doing indirectly that which it would be unlawful to do directly. Masonry has no sympathies in common with such proceedings, and they should not be tolerated in our Lodges. They may answer a convenient purpose in political circles, where the end is too often held to justify the means; but they are not adapted to the Lodge room.
It may sometimes happen that a worthy candidate is causelessly rejected. When this occurs it is to be regretted, and the Lodge should avail itself of the earliest opportunity to redress the wrong it has innocently done him. That it may always have this power, with a freedom to exercise it promptly, it should never tie itself up by any rule of limitation, as to the time within which a candidate may present a second petition. We cannot understand the propriety of holding an unexceptionable petitioner under the ban of prohibition, after the cause of rejection has been removed. Under the liberal and equitable rule, here suggested, the desire to withdraw petitions would probably be materially lessened; because, a rejection, in the case of a worthy applicant, would be relieved of much of its severity, and could be speedily redressed. It has been suggested, that such a rule would expose the Lodge to frequent and troublesome repetitions of applications. The answer to this objection is, that the Lodge has it in its power to say whether it will receive a second petition or not, and it may say this by a silent vote, on the question from the chair, in one minute,—a rule to this effect having been previously incorporated into its regulations. But such an objection cannot weigh against the duty of the Lodge to repair its own wrong, though innocently committed. Such a practice prevails in Massachusetts, and it causes no inconvenience.
Restoration of Membership
From Vol. XIII, No. 10, August 1854, Page 289:
Edwards, Miss., June 6, 1854.
Comp. Moore—I again submit to you questions upon which there is a difference of opinion, and nothing can be found which is, conclusive enough to settle them. Your known devotion to our great cause gives you advantages, and we yield to your decision, believing it is made after due examination and without fear, favor or affection.
- Is it necessary for a Lodge to act upon the reinstating of a Brother, who has been suspended and the time expired? Some contend that the penalty being paid, he again enters the Lodge room, with all his privileges, unless a new charge be made. Whilst others think a vote of the Lodge is called for, before he can take his seat.
- Mr. C. D. has been, as far as the act of a Lodge can go, expelled from all the privileges of Masonry. He appeals to the G. Lodge, which, upon due examination, sets aside the judgment. Is C. D. by this action returned to the bottom of the Lodge, whence he had been ejected, or only returned to the privileges of Masonry,—visiting said Lodge included? There are those who hold, the Grand Lodge cannot force a member upon a Lodge unwilling to receive him, yet each member thereof ia compelled to yield to him all Masonic credit.
- Mr. E. F. was expelled as above, and the Grand Lodge, upon hearing appeal, reverses judgment, and fixes it to suspension for twelve months.
In this instance it is held, that the Lodge should vote on reinstatement, because it had given judgment that E. F. was not fit to enter their body; and though the Grand Lodge had mitigated the punishment, it did not intend thereby to force him upon the Subordinate Lodge, willing or not.
Give us the information needed in these cases that we may act aright, and oblige one of your old subscribers. M. W. Philips.
1. To the first of the foregoing interrogatories, we answer: that, in our opinion, it is "necessary for a Lodge to act upon the reinstating of a Brother, who has been suspended and the time expired." Not only is this necessary in order that the records of the Lodge may exhibit a full and exact transcript of the whole case, from the beginning to its final termination ; but that entire justice may be done to the erring Brother. The Lodge is under a high moral obligation, so to leave the case upon its record, as that, at any future time, there can be no misinterpretation, no misconstruction of any of its parts, to its own prejudice or that of the delinquent. The record should show the whole case from beginning to end— the offence, the suspension, and restoration.
A suspension for a fixed and determinate time, ceases by its own limitation, so far only as to authorize the delinquent to present his petition to the Lodge for a release from the disability under which he labors. It places him in a position where he may rightfully and lawfully request his restoration; and this request the Lodge is not at liberty to disregard; except, indeed, it shall be made to appear to the satisfaction of a majority of its members, that the original cause of the suspension continues, and that the delinquent is so derelict in his moral duties and debased in his conduct, as would render his restoration a cause of public reproach. In such a case the Lodge would not restore him. (A refusal of the Lodge to restore him, would be a continuance of the suspension. If this refusal be unreas noble, the delinquent has his remedy in a petition to the Grand Lodge. But such a case is not likely to arise.)
It is not a liberty to jeopardize its own reputation, or to impair the moral power and influence of the Fraternity, by receiving into its bosom and confidence, persons who, from their evil conduct, are rejected by the moral sentiment of the community in which they live. The Lodge not only possesses the right, but is under a high obligation to its Grand Lodge and the Fraternity at large, to protect its own character. We cannot, therefore, admit that the expiration of the term of suspension, per se, restores the delinquent to his privileges ; nor that it discharges the Lodge of all its obligations and duties in the case. The suspension was the act of the Lodge. The restoration must be the act of a power equal to that of the Lodge.
Let us examine for a moment the opposite practice suggested by the inquiry. Suspensions and expulsions are the judgments of the Lodge, acting in its highest judicial capacity. And the Grand Lodge has wisely provided in its regulations, that all such judgments shall be officially communicated to itself, that in due time they may be sent out to the Fraternity at large, for their protection and security, as also to give force and efficiency to the acts of its subordinates. They are so sent out; and the delinquent is cut off from his Masonic fellowship and privileges,—not for a limited time, but until the Grand Lodge shall, by a subsequent act, announce the revocation of the suspension and the restoration of the Brother. (The published proceedings of Grand Lodges give the naked fact of the suspension- nothing, as to time.)
The suspension places the delinquent before the Fraternity as excluded from Masonry, and there it leaves him. Time rolls on, and he has paid the legal penalty of his offence. He has redeemed his forfeited position, and thus prepared himself to resume his relations with his Brethren. He "enters the Lodge room with all his privileges." No objections are raised, no inquiries made, no action of the Lodge had. He goes and comes as other members. But what is his actual position ? We will suppose him to be a repentant and good Mason,—entitled to the sympathies, the encouragement, and protection of his Brethren. His character is dear to him and to his family. He has learned to value it. He prizes his Masonic privileges, and would leave to his Brethren the legacy of a good name. If possible he would throw the pall of eternal darkness over the past, relying only on the present and the future. But how has the inaction of his Lodge left him? What are his true relations to his Brethren, at home and abroad, as shown by the record? The record of the Lodge shows his suspension, but it does not show his restoration. The sentence remains uncancelled by any act of his Lodge. He goes abroad and seeks admission among his Brethren. They show him by the published record of his Grand Lodge, that he is a suspended Mason. This is conclusive with them. It is binding on them as a rule of action, and will override any naked statement he may be able to offer in explanation of his case. He will appeal in vain for the evidence of his restoration to any subsequent record of his Grand Lodge. It is not there. His own Lodge, assuming that the suspension expired by its own limitation, and that the restoration followed as a consequence, has not deemed it necessary to take any action in relation to it. Its Secretary, having no official act of his Lodge to record, could make no communication to the Grand Lodge on the subject. For the Secretary of a Lodge is not authorized, in his official capacity, to communicate to the Grand Lodge the restoration of a Brother, who has never been restored by act of his Lodge. His authority is his record. He cannot travel out of that, and speak for his Lodge. The Grand Lodge, not having the necessary evidence before it, has not been authorized to revoke its original edict of suspension. The Brother therefore continues, except as to his own Lodge, under the ban of exclusion from his Masonic privileges. Beyond this, the taint remains as a legacy to his sons, who may chance to succeed him in his Masonic connexions! Such seems to us to be the natural working and the inevitable result of the practice referred to by our correspondent, namely, that "the penalty being paid," the restoration follows without further action of the Lodge. The practice does not commend itself to our judgment. It is due to the delinquent that the record which shows the suspension and its cause, should also show the restoration. It is due to him that the same degree of publicity that was given to the former, should be given to the latter. This can be accomplished only through the Grand Lodge, acting on official information from its subordinate. It is due also to the reputation of the Lodge itself, that it should retain in its hands the power to protect itself against the necessity of receiving into its fellowship the obdurately vicious and debased.
2. This is now a subject of Grand Lodge regulation. The rule formerly was, that, when the Grand Lodge refused to confirm the action of the Lodge below, the case fell to the ground, and the relation of the parties remained undisturbed. But this rule was found to operate prejudicially on the Lodge, a party to the case, and frequently to destroy its harmony and usefulness. To obviate this difficulty, the following regulation was adopted, and is in force in several of the Grand Lodges in this country. It is predicated on the admitted right of every Lodge to choose its own members, and to free itself of such as are turbulent and disorganizing— the natural right of self-preservation :—
"Whenever this Grand Lodge shall reverse or abrogate the decision of a subordinate Lodge, suspending or expelling a Brother, and shall restore him to the benefits and privileges of Masonry, he shall not thereby be restored to membership within the body from which he was suspended or expelled, without its unanimous consent." —Constitution G. Lodge Mass.
3. The action of the Grand Lodge is to be received and recorded as the judgment in the case. It stands for and supersedes the judgment of the Lodge; and it can affect its proceedings in no other manner. Whatever the Lodge would have been authorized to do, had the original judgment been suspension instead of expulsion, it may do under the action of the Grand Lodge, and nothing more.
The other points embraced in this inquiry, are included in the two preceding.
It is proper to say, in conclusion, that the general practice of the Grand Lodges in this country, is to publish with their proceedings, lists of suspensions, expulsions, and restorations, as they are furnished by the proper officers of their subordinate Lodges. These officers are the Secretaries, who have no authority in the premises, other than that with which they are clothed by vote of their respective Lodges. They cannot be expected, nor would it be proper for them, acting in their official capacity, to assume to send up for the information and government of the Grand Lodge, any matter of so much importance to the welfare of the whole Fraternity, as the restoration of a suspended or expelled Brother, unless the fact of the restoration appear upon their record. We most sincerely hope, that if there has been any misunderstanding in this respect, in any quarter, it may be speedily corrected.
Recommendation of Candidates
From Vol. XIII, No. 10, August 1854, Page 293:
A correspondent in Illinois asks our opinion on the following statement of facts :—
Knoxville, May 25, 1854.
C. W. Moore—Dear Sir and Br.:—A citizen of our town leaves it and settles elsewhere. In his new home he applies for admission into a Masonic Lodge (A). Our Lodge (B.) is informed of the fact, and that there will probably be no objection to his admission; but as an act of courtesy, the concurrence of our Lodge is requested. There is objection in our Lodge to his admission among the Craft, and that from more than one Brother. Under this state of affairs, will the consent of a majority of this Lodge be sufficient warrant for the Lodge abroad to proceed; or would the objection of one Brother here be sufficient to exclude him? S. A. W.
The removal of the "citizen" placed him beyond the jurisdiction of Lodge B. It has, therefore, no necessary connection with, or lawful con¬ trol over his petition, in Lodge A. He stands in a relation as wholly independent of that Lodge, as though it were not in existence. The request of Lodge B., comes before it in the nature of an inquiry. It can neither be received nor regarded in any other light. The form or manner in which this inquiry may be answered, is left to the determination of the Lodge. This is a point of some delicacy, and should be well considered. If the Lodge entertain the inquiry, the question before it will be— Will the Lodge recommend the petitioner for initiation? In order that such a recommendation may be of any force, the same proceedings must be had as in the case of an original petition. A Lodge cannot recommend as worthy of admission, a person whom it would not itself be willing to receive. The vote, therefore, cannot with propriety be taken until after all the usual preliminary conditions have been fulfilled, except those of a pecuniary, nature. The vote must then be unanimous, or the recommendation is not a "sufficient warrant for the Lodge abroad to proceed" with the initiation; because, without such unanimity, the Lodge recommending the petitioner could not itself receive him.
Such we believe to be the only course which Lodge B. can, with propriety, pursue, and the only result to which it can come, if it shall determine to entertain the inquiry at all, as a Lodge. If the members, as such, think proper to take an informal vote on the question, wo can see no objection to their doing so, provided the actual result of their voting—its pros and cons—be communicated to Lodge A. And this may be done viva voce, or through the ballot-box. It cannot however be regarded by Lodge A. in any other or more favorable light than as an individual expression of the opinions of the members voting. It can in no sense be taken as an official act of the Lodge.
There is no such thing "as concurrent" action of two Lodges on a petition for initiation. The unanimous rejection of the recommendation by Lodge B., would not bar the admission of the petitioner into Lodge A., if a unanimous vote could there be obtained in his favor; though such admission would doubtless furnish good cause of complaint before the Grand Lodge. On the other hand, the unanimons recommendation of Lodge B., would impose no obligation on Lodge A. to receive him. Each indi¬ vidual Lodge is so far independent of every other Lodge, as to be judicially responsible only to the Grand Lodge for the propriety of its acts. But, the most Masonic and usual course in all such cases is, to leave the whole subject in the hands of a judicious committee. If they desire information of the members of a neighboring Lodge, it can best be had through the proper officers, or individual members, of that Lodge.
Opening Lodges For Work
From Vol. XIII, No. 10, August 1854, Page 294:
A correspondent in North Carolina, asks—if it is "regular for the Master to open his Lodge on the first degree, when he has work on that degree; or, should he not open a Masters' Lodge, dispense with it, and then open on the first degree?"
Both practices are followed in different parts of the country, and there may be no very essential objection to either, though we do not well understand how a Lodge can be open on two degrees at the same time. To "dispense" with the Masters' Lodge is to close it. Then why not open on the first degree at once, there being no other business before the Lodge than work on that degree? But our correspondent attaches a technical and different meaning to the phrase he uses,—a meaning well understood where the latter practice prevails, though it may not be generally comprehended by Brethren in those sections of the country where it does not. In the sense in which he understands it, and the sense in which it is commonly used, the Masters' Lodge is first opened, and then, the forms appropriate to such a Lodge being "dispensed with," a Lodge on the first degree is opened, within it. Thus creating an imperium in imperio,—the Lodge being, in fact, open on two degrees at the same time, though performing work appropriate to one only. This is the theory of the practice to which he refers, and which prevails to some extent in this country. It seems to us, however, that apprentices so made are, in reality, made in a Lodge open on the third degree, though with other ceremonies. We know nothing of the origin of the practice, and though there may be no serious objection to it, it does not commend itself to our favor.
Business of Balloting
From Vol. XV, No. 2, December 1855, p. 43:
"A correspondent writing from a distant part of the State, proposes the following inquiries :—
Suppose a candidate ia proposed, and a majority of the Brethren are in favor of accepting him, but a respectable minority oppose by black balls, how many times can that majority order a ballot?
Does it take the usual rule, that to move a reconsideration the mover must be one who voted with the majority?
Can a Brother in any way be required to state his reasons for a vote?
- The majority cannot order a new ballot at all. If there is a " espectable minority" (by which we understand several ballots) against the candidate, the balloting is at an end, and the candidate is rejected. If there be but a single ballot against him the Master may order a second, with a view to ascertain that no mistake has been committed in casting the balls.
- The reconsidering of ballots is altogether irregular. If a candidate is rejected there is the end of the matter, and a new petition must be presented before his name can again properly come before the Lodge for a ballot.
- A Brother cannot be "required to state his reasons for a vote." This would destroy the secrecy of the ballot, or make it a mere farce. The way in which a member votes is his own secret, and ho cannot be required to divulge it. The Lodge has no control over the ballot of a member, nor is it at liberty to pry into the question, for the purpose of ascertaining how any member has voted.
Our correspondent will find these questions fully discussed in previous volumes of this Magazine.
Neglect of Discipline
From Vol. XIV, No. 6, April 1855, Page 193:
Mount Pleasant, Tenn., March 13, 1855.
C. W. Moore, Esq., — Dear Sir and Brother: Will Bro. Moore oblige us by answering the following in his most invaluable Magazine?
A certain Brother on or about the 27th of Oct. 1851, received a demit and diplo ma from B-- Lodge, of which he is a member, with the intention of removing to another State, but afterwards changed his plans, and has resided in this county ever since. About nine or ten months before he removed to this place, he resided in the immediate vicinity of B-- Lodge, and visited it occasionally. In Decem ber, 1853, or January, 1854, which was soon after his arrival in our midst, he applied to our Lodge for membership — the usual committee was appointed on his petition; said committee having ascertained there was some difficulty existing be tween him and one of the members of B-- Lodge, the petition was laid over until the next regular meeting of our Lodge for investigation, — said committee at the stated time, reported favorably on the case of the petitioner.
The Brother, who recommended the petition, then withdrew it, as he believed some of the B-- Brethren had prejudiced one or two of our members against the petitioner. The W. Master of this Lodge, then had the Brother of B-- Lodge notified that if he had any charge against this Brother for unmasonic conduct, that he would furnish this Lodge with a copy of the same, with specifications, and he would have him tried in due form. A short time after this, a charge of unmasonic conduct, with specifications, was sent to the W. Master of Mount Pleasant Lodge, without date or signature.
The W. M. sent them back, and requested a responsible name and date to said charge and specifications. In a short time alter that, he received a copy of the charge and specifications in due form ; whereupon the W. M. called a meeting of the Lodge as soon as practicable, and notified both parties in the case, with all of their witnesses, of the time when said case would be taken up and investigated by M-- Lodge. The parties and witnesses all met at the time appointed — a copy of the charge and specification was read to the accused, and he was asked if he plead guilty or not guilty to the specifications. He replied, not guilty. The principal witness of the plaintiff was examined, and as all of his evidence went to prove the Brother guilty of the charge and specifications previous to the granting of the demit and diploma by IS. Lodge ; and the plaintiff and some six or seven members of B-- Lodge were proved to have had knowledge of this difficulty before the granting of this demit and diploma, and not raising any objection, a question arose among the Brethren of M. P. Lodge, that they had no law or authority for trying a Brother for conduct of which he was accused by the very Brethren who had endorsed his Masonic character, after he had been guilty of unmasonic conduct, and they acknowledging that they were aware of it, at the time they endorsed his character and recommended him to the fraternity throughout the world.
A motion was made, and carried, that we dismiss said case, as we believe that we have no authority for trying the same. On the next night, it being the regular meeting of the B-- Lodge, said Lodge passed a resolution revoking said demit and diploma, and demanded the same to be returned; which the Brother has refused to do.
The Brethren of M. P. Lodge disposed of the above case as they did, for the following reasons:
- 1st. That a number of members (at least seven) of B-- Lodge, were, aware of these charges at the time of granting said demit and diploma to the Brother.
- 2d. That the Brother who preferred the charges, voted for granting said demit and diploma.
- 3d. That the Brother lived about three years in this county, after the date of said demit and diploma, the last nine months of which (before coming to this place) he lived in the immediate neighborhood of B-- Lodge, and visited it, by request of some of its members; and no charges preferred against him, until he had moved here and petitioned to M-- Lodge for membership.
- 4th. That we considered his conduct and character as a Mason, endorsed by B-- Lodge up to the time of granting said demit and diploma, and as their charges were all anterior to the date of these documents, we thought it just and right to dismiss the case, and did so. I would be highly pleased to have your opinion on the above case at the earliest time you can make it possible to do so.
I remain yours fraternally,
W. G. J. Hunter.
We do not perceive that any exceptions need be taken to the action of Mount Pleasant Lodge in the above case, though we are not quite so well satisfied of the propriety of the course pursued by Lodge B--. Taking the statement of our correspondent as correct, the case stands thus: The Brother (whom, for convenience, we will call A.) was a member in good standing in Lodge B--. in 1851. How long he had then been a member does not appear; but in October of that year, in view of a contemplated removal to another State, he applied for and received from bis Lodge a regular demit, and Diplomas recommending him to the favor of his Brethren wherever he might sojourn, — for such is the character and purpose of a Diploma. He, however, subsequently changed his intentions and continued to reside in the State, and a part of the time before his removal to Mount Pleasant, in the neighborhood of his former Lodge ; of which he was an occasional visitor as late as 1853, or to within about two years from the date of his demit. Up to this time, in the opinion of the members of Lodge B--, he was a worthy Brother, and in all respects fit to be admitted as a visitor among them.
In December or January of that year, he removed to Mount Pleasant and petitioned the Lodge there for membership. His petition took the usual course. Probably Lodge B-- was applied to. But however this may be, it came to the knowledge of the Committee, that there had been a misunderstanding between the petitioner and a member of Lodge B--; in consequence of which the petition was laid over for one month, for further investigation. At the ensuing meeting of the Lodge, the committee, who, it is to be presumed, had made the necessary investigations, reported in favor of the applicant.
But his friend, having ascertained that a prejudice had been raised in the minds of one or two members of the Lodge against his admission, withdrew the petition. The Master of Mount Pleasant Lodge then notified the aggrieved member of Lodge B--. if he had any charges to prefer against A., and would put them in proper form, he would prosecute them. To this notice an informal and anonymous answer was returned. A second notice met with better success. A charge of unmasonic conduct was preferred, the day of trial was assigned, and the examination of witnesses was commenced; when it turned out that the offence charged was of long standing, - that it had been committed before A. had taken up his connection with Lodge B--, and that it was known to the Plaintiff .and six or seven other members of that Lodge, at the time the demit and Diploma were granted.
Such are the facts in the case. And on them Mount Pleasant Lodge dismissed the complaint. We think it stands justified in so doing. It nowhere appears that A.'s conduct, since he received an honorable dismissal and recommendation fro Lodge B--, has been in any respect exceptionable. On the contrary, the Committee of Mount Pleasant Lodge certify to his present good reputation, and recommend him for membership.
Before the civil tribunals he might successfully plead the "statute of limitations." And though in Masonry we have no such statute, neither have we any rule that calls for the exclusion of a Brother from our Lodges, whose error has been tolerated by his Brethren, and whose repentance has been manifested in his daily walk and conversion, for a period of two full years, - his present reputation in the community being fair and of good report. Masonry is not vindictive in its spirit or discipline. Nor must it, under any circumstances, be suffered to be used as an instrument of oppression or perverted to the gratification of personal resentment. A. may have been guilty of improper conduct, as he doubtless was, while a member of Lodge B--. But then, it was the duty of that Lodge to have dealt with him at the proper time, and before it had granted the demit and Diploma, or, in other words, honorably discharged him from membership and recommended him to the Fraternity of the whole world as a worthy and upright Brother, It cannot plead ignorance of the offence, for the evidence shows that it was known to at least seven of its members, among whom was the present complainant.
The Lodge clearly acted in its own wrong. and cannot now right itself without doing injustice to the accused; unless indeed it can show that there has been no repentance on his part,that the offence with which he is charged is an habitual and continuous offence, - and that he is now unworthy of the fellowship and confidence of his Brethren. In this case he may and ought to be dealt with,
Still the Lodge was criminally negligent of its duty in discharging him, and at the same time placing its certificate of good character in his hand, knowing, as it is fair to infer from the evidence it did know, that he had been guilty of conduct derogatory to his Masonic relations and duties.
Pay of Grand Lodge Members' Expenses
From Vol. XIV, No. 6, April 1855, Page 198:
Buena Vista, Ark., March 27, 1855.
Chas. W. Moore, Esq,—
Dear Bro. — As you are justly esteemed high Masonic authority among us, I wish you to give me a little "light" on the following subject, viz. :—
Would it not be right and proper for the Grand Lodges of any and all the States, to pay the expenses of its Grand Officers? It is the custom in Arkansas for all the Subordinate Lodges to bear the expenses of their Representatives in the Grand Lodge. This is right and proper — there is no per diem allowance, or expenses paid by the Grand Lodge to its members. All of this I approve.
But is it right to make it the duty of the Officers elected by the Grand Lodge, from the Grand Master to the Tyler, to attend the annual communications of the Grand Lodge, without having, at least, their actual travelling expenses paid by that body? If so, would it not be burdensome to a poor, but accomplished and learned Brother, to fill an office in the Grand Lodge? and the Fraternity thereby would be deprived of his talents and services.
One of our first lessons on initiation is "Justice." It seems to me, then, that it would be right for us to have the fortitude and prudence to do justice to all.
A diversity of practice has obtained in this country, on the subject embraced in the inquiry of our correspondent. In several of the States, the representatives of the Lodges are paid both mileage and per diem from the treasury of the Grand Lodge; in others, the actual expenses are paid by the Grand Lodge; in others, as in Arkansas, the expenses are paid by the Lodges; while in others, the representatives bear their own expenses.
The practice in respect to the Grand Officers does not differ materially from the foregoing; except, perhaps, that it is not so general nor equal. In Arkansas, for instance, the expenses of the representatives are paid by their respective Lodges, while the Grand Officers are required to pay their own. Our correspondent regards this as unequal, and so it is. If there is any propriety in the Lodges paying the expenses of their representatives, then there is an equal degree of impropriety in the Grand Lodge requiring its officers, who reside at a distance from the place of meeting, to pay their own. The suggestion of our correspondent, that to require "a poor but accomplished and learned Brother," residing fifty or a hundred miles distant, to leave his business and pay his own expenses, is to him a virtual exclusion from all official rank in the Grand Lodge, is entitled to great weight. In Ohio, the representatives and Grand Officers are all paid mileage and per diem by the Grand Lodge, and the same is true of some other Grand Lodges. Our own opinion is, that the actual expenses of going to, remaining at, and returning from, the Grand Lodge, should be paid, — the representatives by their respective Lodges, and the Grand Officers from the Grand Treasury. This would be equal, proper and just.
Abuse of the Ballot
From Vol. XIV, No. 8, June 1855, p. 225:
The abuse of the privileges of the ballot, in the admission of candidates, is becoming a too common complaint in our Lodges for their welfare, or for the security of that unanimity and fraternal sympathy which ought to characterize all Masonic meetings. It is very natural that Brethren should sometimes feel unpleasantly, that candidates proposed by them and whom they conscientiously believe to be in all respects worthy of admission, are rejected. But it should be bourne in mind that objections may exist which are unknown to the more intimate acquaintance of the applicant, or that the partial eye of friendship may too lightly regard. Such cases are doubtless familiar to the older and more experienced members of every Lodge; and many of our younger Brethren, who now feel aggrieved at their occurrence, will probably in due time learn to respect the motives of those who may have caused them a temporary disappointment.
The right to ballot is one of the highest and most responsible privileges of membership; and it may not be too much to say that a proper, impartial and unprejudiced exercise of it is one of the most sacred duties with which a member of a Lodge can be entrusted. It makes him, to the extent of the jurisdiction of his Lodge, the guardian and protector of the highest interests of the whole Fraternity; not simply within his own town, but to an extent limited only by the influence which a bad man, by the boldness and badness of his acts, may be enabled to exert on society.
A striking and mortifying illustration of the power of such a man is to be found in the character and conduct of these base men - we cannot call them Brethren - whose slanderous representations and pretended expositions have, too often, both in this country and in Europe, brought reproach and dishonor on the whole Institution, and for a season destroyed its usefulness. A single black-ball, thrown by an individual member of the Lodge in which he received his degrees, would have kept out of the Institution, probably forever, the author of the unrighteous persecution which has recently swept over this country, spreading moral desolation in its path, destroying the peace of families, breaking up Churches, and distracting communities. This was the work of one bad, bold man, whose character, at the date of his first admission into the Lodge, was known to be such as ought to have debarred him the privilege; and would probably have done so, had not the fear of giving offence, or an undue desire for an increase of numbers, been permitted so to gain the mastery over duty as to prevent a free and conscientious exercise of the ballot by the members of the Lodge. A single black-ball would have saved the Institution and society from all the disgrace and misery which followed as a consequence of his admission.
We say, therefore, that the right of the ballot is the highest privilege, and a free and conscientious exercise of it, the highest and most sacred duty that can devolve upon an individual member in the government and operations of his Lodge. And that he may so exercise it, without the fear of incurring personal displeasure, the laws of the Institution have thrown around him the protection of secrecy, behind the veil of which no inquisitive eye is permitted to penetrate. The responsibility of his vote rests alone with him and his conscience, until by his own voluntary act, he shall see fit to remove the veil. This done, the secrecy is no longer such, and the protection it afforded him no longer exists. With the open avowal of his vote, he assumes the responsibility of it, and rests on the facts for his justification before his Brethren. In such a case the objections become the property of the Lodge, to be disposed of according to the evidence. But the disclosure must be the voluntary act of the member. No system of espionage, — no concerted method of inquiry as to how such and such a member voted, and no violation of confidence indiscreetly reposed, can lawfully be made available before the Lodge to the prejudice or amenability of the Brother casting the negative ballot. His privilege cannot be thus invaded, without gross injustice to him, nor without trampling this great conservative principle in the dust. His secret is his own, and his Lodge is solemnly bound by a sacred regard for its own best interests, by its obligations to its parent body, and by its duty to the great family of which it is a member, to protect him in the full and perfect enjoyment of it, by all the power at its command.
But while a member of a Lodge is thus amply protected in the freedom of his ballot, he is not at liberty to use his privilege for the gratification of his prejudices, or in a revengeful spirit. He is bound by his Masonic duty, by honor, and by the high confidence reposed in him by his Brethren in receiving him a member among them, to judge impartially, and to act conscientiously, on all petitions for initiation, as in all other matters, that may come before his Lodge. He has neither a moral nor legal right to avail himself of his position to prejudice the character of any man, nor to gratify his personal animosity, whether the object of his dislike be the petitioner or the Lodge. Justice is to be the rule of his conduct, and "to render to every man his just due," the line of his duty. When he departs from this rule, he grossly abuses his privileges, becomes a dangerous member of the Lodge, lays himself open to discipline, and, the fact being proved, to expulsion. Every Lodge possesses ample power to protect itself, as well against an unruly and troublesome member, as against the violation of any of its laws. It matters not that there is no special provision in its By-Laws to meet a particular case, the common law of Masonry is ample for the purpose. The law of self-preservation is above either.
With these general views we lay before our readers two communications. They are from reliable Brethren residing in distant and different States. We omit the names and localities. The first is as follows :—
April 15, 1855.
Dear Br. and Comp. —You will pardon me for troubling you in regard to some advice and light in a few cases that have recently transpired in our Lodge. Several gentlemen petitioned our Lodge a few months ago to receive the degrees. The regular course was taken, and they were balloted for and elected. They were then admitted and took the first degree. They then set to work, learned the lecture and other matters necessary to their advancement; were examined in open Lodge; the examination declared satisfactory by a unanimous vote, when one of them was balloted for and rejected — the others were permitted to take the second degree — then proceeded as before — the ballot was taken for the third degree, when they were stopped by one vote.
A debate sprung up. Some Brethren contended that it was nothing more than just that the objections should be stated. The Brother refused to do so, and still refuses to give his objections. All these men are looked upon, by every person acquainted with them, as honest, upright men, nor has anything ever been alleged against either of them in any way. They are regarded as the first young men in our county, both as respects morals and intelligence. We think it is hard for a Brother — a young Brother — that has trusted his character, his all, in our hands — looking to us as older Masons for example — expecting us to teach him how to walk Masonically—to be thus crushed in his hopes and injured in his character, without letting him, or some of the members of the Lodge, know what his crime is. They desire to know what to do — willing, more than willing, to make any acknowledgment a gentleman would make, if they have wronged any living man.
Under these circumstances, my dear Brother, what are we to do ? The Brother who is supposed to have committed the uncharitable deed, has been at the head of all the disturbance that has existed in our Lodge from its organization; and before joining our Lodge, was the cause of breaking up Lodge No. —, in ---; a man who once declared in open Lodge, he never would as long as he lived, forgive a Brother who happened to speak unguardedly about him — notwithstanding the Brother made every apology a gentleman could make, and which was satisfactory to every member of the Lodge save himself.
Two other points and I am done. This same supposed Brother voted against and kept a Brother Master Mason from becoming a member of our Lodge, who is looked upon, by all who know him, as a perfect gentleman. He (the Brother) bringing a regular demit from a sister Lodge, declaring his high and honorable standing in that Lodge, and would not, nor will not now, tell either the Brother or the Lodge his objections.
Lastly. At least one-fourth of the candidates who have presented themselves to our Lodge, have been black-balled.- They were all, without an exception, among the most prominent young men of our county—men who stand high with all the members of the Lodge save this one man.
Please give me your opinion in regard to these cases and oblige your Brother and Companion.
Fraternally yours, J. T. M.
Taking the above as a correct and impartial statement of facts, it presents an extraordinary and aggravated case. The recusant member is a perfect Ishmaelite. His hand is apparently against every man, and we presume, as a natural consequence, every man's hand is against him,— at least within the hall of the Lodge. We are inclined to think, however, that the secret of his conduct lies, not in any objection to. the candidates, but in some real or imaginary slight or indignity he has received in the Lodge. But whatever the cause may be, he is evidently acting in a spirit of revenge and under the influence of motives unworthy of the character of a Mason, ruinous to the prosperity of the Lodge, and injurious to the reputation of the Order. He is prostituting the privilege of the ballot, to the gratification of a malevolent spirit. If a moiety of what our correspondent alleges against him, can be proved, it is the duty of the Lodge to expel him, at once. There is no obligation or rule in Masonry which requires it to retain such a viper within its bosom. Expulsion is the remedy, and the sooner it is applied, the better it will be for the honor of the Craft and the peace of the Lodge. (lf there be any legal objection to this course, growing out of the official position of the offender, the case should be laid before the Grand Master of the State.) Similar cases, though less aggravated in their character, have come to our knowledge from other sections of the country. They are one of the signs of the times, and indicate approaching danger. Bad men are working their way into our Lodges. We are making Masons too rapidly. We did the same thing in 1825, and the consequences of that impudence should be a warning to us.
The second case is from another State, and is as follows : —
---, April 15, 1855.
Br. Moore — Can a Brother stop the advancement of an Entered Apprentice to the second and third degrees, for reasons purely personal, and for matters which transpired prior to initiation, and when the Brother knew the candidate would be balloted for and receive the first degree?
The Brother has rarely met with the Lodge since he received his degrees, and we think it unmasonic for him to object, by the black-ball, to a worthy E. A. for whom the Lodge entertain the highest respect.
Please answer in the Magazine, or by letter, as may best suit your convenience, and you will greatly oblige St. Mark's Lodge, and Your friend and Brother, H. T. R.
If the objection which influences the vote of the dissenting member, is such as to affect prejudicially the moral character of the applicant, the mere circumstance that it existed before the initiation, would not, per se, be a sufficient reason why he should not be denied the privilege of advancement; because, the Brother now objecting, and to whom alone, it may be, the facts were known, may not have been informed of the intention of the Lodge to ballot for the candidate at the particular time it did ballot, or he may have been prevented from attending the meeting by illness or unexpected engagements. In such a case it might be his duty to object to the advancement. So, on the contrary, if he were present at the balloting, but from timidity, reluctance, or other reason, declined to ballot, it might still be his duty to object on the second degree, though in so doing he should subject himself to the charge of inconsistency, and perhaps incur the displeasure and censorious remarks of his Brethren. If in the first instance he omitted a duty which, on subsequent reflection, he had become convinced amounted to a great moral wrong, he certainly should not be denied the privilege of making the only atonement left to him ; nor should he be compelled against his conscience and convictions of duty, to look on in silence and see his own wrong amplified and extended to the greater prejudice of his Lodge.
This is but one view, and that a partial one, of the case stated by our correspondent. He not only assumes that the objecting Brother knew when the candidate was to be balloted for, and offers no reason for his neglect to perform his duty on that occasion ; but also, that he is influenced in his present opposition to him, by reasons "purely personal." How this important fact in the case has been ascertained, our correspondent does not state. But the " reasons" are probably known to him and to the Lodge, or neither could determine their character with sufficient distinctness to pronounce them " purely personal." Admit, then, that they are personal, — that the Brother urging them has at some former period received a great personal wrong at the hands of the candidate,— such as he may be willing to allow to pass unnoticed in the usual walks of life ; but at the same lime, such as to render more intimate and fraternal relations wholly incompatible with his feelings and sense of self-respect — what is his duty in such a case ? The question presented to his mind is, whether he shall allow the candidate, for whom he entertains a strong personal dislike, to drive him from the Lodge, or whether by the exercise of his privilege, he shall prevent his admission, and thereby retain his seat as a member ? How would our correspondent act in such a case?
But the candidate has been permitted to receive the first degree, with at least the tacit consent of the dissenting member. This objection has been sufficiently answered by what has already been said. The member doubtless committed a great error, or he is now guilty of a great wrong. If his objections are honest, he should have made them known to the Master, or some confidential member, before the initiation took place, and had the balloting deferred to such time as he could be present. This would have been his proper course. It is however evident from the tone of our correspondent that he, and probably the Lodge, feel that there is, in truth, no sufficient cause for the conduct of the recusant member, and that he is wholly influenced by improper motives. It is always hazardous to judge of motives, though there may often be circumstances to authorize it. It is probable such circumstances exist in the present case ; and if so, they certainly derive strength from the consideration, in the first place, that the objecting member seldom attends the Lodge, and consequently takes but little interest in its affairs ; and in the second place, that the candidate is of high respectability in the community, and in the estimation of the other members of the Lodge. If the conduct of the dissenting member be the result of such motives, — if his act is dictated by pique or resentment, or a churlish desire to mortify, harass, or dishonor the candidate, or to embarrass the Lodge, he is guilty of a great dereliction of duty and disregard of his obligations as a Mason, bound to deal justly by all men.
Balloting For Candidates
From Vol. XIV, No. 9, July 1855, p. 267:
Kalamazoo, Mich., June 25, 1855.
Charles W. Moore, Esq., Dear Sir and Br.: — I occasionally notice articles in your Magazine discussing the rights of members of blue Lodges to cast black balls under certain and peculiar circumstances. There are and will be, so long as the human disposition preserves its present character, some members in every Lodge, who so far forget the first principles of our Order, as to permit personal piques and difficulties to influence their actions when casting a ball. Deplorable as this may be, yet I see no remedy for the evil ; nor do I yet understand how a Brother persisting in this course, can be disciplined for such action, provided he does it silently, always keeping his own counsel.
It is my opinion, and I think that yourself and Brothers more experienced than I am, will support me in the position, that the efficacy of the ballot would be much strengthened if one ballot was final for all the degrees. Nothing is more fruitful of discord and difficulty with us, than the custom which I am sorry to say prevails to a considerable extent, of black balling candidates, for the second and third degrees, and that by Brethren who were present at the regular meeting when they were elected. This certainly is unjust to the candidate and productive of hard feeling among his friends in the Lodge. In our Chapter, one ballot suffices for all the Degrees, and it is rarely that ever any difficulty grows out of the election of members : would not the adoption of this course in the Blue Lodges be very beneficial in its results? Then, if any person elected to the Degrees, proved unworthy, or unmindful of his obligations, deal with him as with a Master Mason, under similar circumstances. This course would make members more attentive to the regular meetings, and while it would not affect the power of the Lodge to deal with unworthy E. A. or F. C, it would prevent much trouble growing out of after ballots: One question and I close.
A Ballot having been declared not clear, by the W. M., has he the power to declare it clear upon the person casting the black ball withdrawing it in open Lodge at the same communication?
Very truly yours,
W. C. Ransom.
Remarks. — The course suggested by our correspondent in balloting for all the degrees given in the Lodge, at one and the same time, is the practice in this Commonwealth. We think it the proper practice, as it certainly is the oldest we have in this country. But having frequently given our views on the subject through the pages of this Magazine, we need not enlarge upon the matter here, further than to say, that whenever we depart from the old practices, we are very certain, sooner or later, to find ourselves in difficulty.
The question of our correspondent we answer affirmatively. We should regard it as we should any other error. We might perhaps adopt the ordinary legislative practice, and ask the vote of the Lodge on granting leave to the member to change his vote.