MassachusettsEdicts MFM1861 1870

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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.


Grand Master

From Vol. XX, No. 4, p. 119, February 1861, in an address by the Grand Master of Maryland:

"A distinction is necessary to be made between the office and the officer. The rights of the Grand Master are inherent in the office. The officer becomes invested with those by the suffrage of his Brethren. There is nothing in the powers of the Grand Master that is hereditary in the person of any Brother. They are inherent in the office, and not in any manner constitutional. It is by the choice and election of his Brethren that the Grand Master is elevated to Lis seat. He occupies the Grand East at the call of the workmen, and at their will he becomes the exponent of the principles, and the presiding officer of the Grand Communications of their Grand Body. It is thus that he becomes invested with the powers and prerogatives that belong to the office.

"It is not claimed that the Brethren are to think as the Grand Master may think, and adopt implicitly his sentiments as their own; but, having elevated him to the high position, they are obliged to submit to his authority, and to respect him in the office as well as in his official character. Being elective, the office is in the bestowment of the body of the Craftsmen.

"The Brethren can choose whomsoever they may please to preside and rule over them ; but they should remember that they are to select a Ruler, a Master, whom they are implicitly to obey, respect and honor, and to whose acts and decisions they are to submit without complaint or murmur.

"The Brethren should invariably elect to this high place none but the Master Mason of long standing, of whose ability, and position, integrity and faithfulness to the Craft they are well assured. He should be well known to the community in which be lives ;—bis high and honorable character should reflect honor upon his position of Grand Master. He should be a man in whom the whole fraternity have entire confidence, and who would preside over them in an amiable, courteous and conciliatory manner. However despotic the prerogatives of the Grand Matter may be, they ought to be practised in mildness, and not in harshness nor severity. The position of a Master Mason has ever been held as one of the highest eminence. It was esteemed in ancient times as the highest honor to which the men of any community could aspire. Then it was that the entrance to our mystic temple was well guarded, and none but the worthy and the well qualified were permitted to pan it. A Masonic diploma was then regarded as a necessary appendage to the gentleman, whether at borne or abroad The despotic character of the Grand Master originated in his being the head of an honorable fraternity, the members of which were all Masters, and possessed of rights, immunities and privileges of the most exalted character; a Master of Masters is the Grand Master, and he should therefore be respected in his office, and allowed the exercise of his own free will, and the enforcement of the decrees of justice in accordance with his own enlightened judgment. His will, however, should be always tempered with mercy."

Character of Candidates

From Vol. XX, No. 6, Page 185, April, 1861:

In a former report we adverted to an evil to be avoided, as manifesting itself in some of the Lodges, viz.: an undue anxiety to increase in numbers, without a proper regard to like character of the applicants. At a time like this, when, among all our Lodges, the notes of gratulation are heard upon the progress of the Fraternity — its increase in numbers, its advancement in science, its overflowing coffers, its appreciated and extended usefulness — is it surprising that the watchful eye of the zealous Mason, which ought ever to guard the threshold, should slumber and sleep at its post!

We fear, that in some instances, such is the case. Then how important it is to remember, that numbers alone never yet gave strength — that real, sterling moral worth only will elevate Masonry, and give it that high stand among the "good and true" to which it is entitled. Masonry was made only for the man — one who discharges every duty of life faithfully and diligently, one who has a heart to love, a heart to feel for, soothe, comfort, relieve, and support the suffering and afflicted, a head and a mind to work — a man that has and will maintain his good name, and sustain the character of a worthy Craftsman — one that will bring credit, and not reproach to the name he bears. This is the man that Masonry needs, and can justly admit to her privileges.

Installation By Proxy

From Vol. XX, No. 7, Page 219, May, 1861:

An installation by proxy is one of the anomalies that in some way or other has found its way into the Masonic Institution. We conceive it to be a bad perversion of the purpose on account of which the ceremony was provided. That purpose is to impress the officer with a proper idea of the character of the position to which he has been appointed, and to receive from him his pledges upon every essential point of duty. The effort is lost upon a proxy, who is not expected to have any personal interest in the proceedings.

Suppose we extend the view of this anomaly a little, by asking if it would answer for a Lodge to initiate, pass, and raise a candidate by proxy? What sort of a Master Mason would such process make? The thing is so supremely ridiculous that the smile of contempt is excited by the mere propounding of the inquiry. How much better is it, then, we would ask, to admit a proxy in the installation of an officer of a Lodge? And let the proxy system once become universal in Masonry, and it will not be long before the admission to the degrees will be done in the same way. This is a very good way to open a leak through which the entire Masonic character will speedily run out of the Institution. But there is a question that starts up in this connection that deserves some consideration. Can a Masonic officer — Master of Lodge or Warden, for instance — be installed by proxy? Is the Master or Warden installed at all by such process? We think not. We look upon the thing as a farce — a farce in relation to a ceremony which is too essential, too important, and too serious to be trifled with. Masonic character does not admit of such innovation; and wherever it is used, it ought to be at once abandoned.

Withdrawing Petitions

From Vol. XXI, No. 2, Page 262, November, 1861:

It is well settled doctrine that a petition when once received and referred to a committee, becomes the property of the Lodge. And, though generally assented to, it is exactly at this point the difficulty, whenever made, arises. For those who are in favor of a withdrawal say, if the petition is the property of the Lodge, then it is in the power of the Lodge to do what it wills with its property, and thus may content to its withdrawal. This reasoning, though specious and plausible, will not bear examination. Masonry differs from every other organization in many particulars, and in this, too, that in many things, while the Lodge has a properly, it is only a qualified properly. For it, at any lime, the Lodge cease from labor, neglect the business of Masonry and forfeit its Warrant, it cannot dispose of its jewels, furniture, funds, etc., to its own use; but they, with all the records, become the properly of the Grand Lodge, in whom the residuary right resides.

Co the making of Masons is entrusted by Warrant of the Grand Lodge to its subordinates, but not solely for 'heir benefit, but for the interests of the whole Fraternity, whose rights and interests are represented and guarded by the Grand Lodge. The good of Masonry is the true ultimate object of every making, and the good of Masonry is what must be looked to and protected at every avenue. The question of the withdrawal ol a petition, then, does not concern only the benefit of the particular Lodge where the question arises, nor yet the interests only of the candidate proposed, but the interests of the whole Fraternity ; and it is the bounden duty of the particular Lodge to see that those interests are fully looked after and protected. To suffer a petition to he withdrawn opens the door for the admission of unworthy candidates. For, if this were done, the Fraternity in other portions of the globe have no means of knowing that the same candidate was rejected where, perhaps, he was best known, and, upon application renewed in another locality, he may be foisted upon the Society, an unworthy member.

The fact even of a favorable report, by a Committee or Inquiry, makes no difference in the question. They may be mistaken, as is often known to be the case. We know it appears hard to deny a candidate the privilege of withdrawing his petition, and admit it might some times operate as a wrong upon him. But the protection of the Society is of more consequence than the feelings of any profane.

A petition, once received and referred, cannot be withdrawn.



From Vol. XXII, No. 4, Page 110, February 1863:

One of the besetting sins among the Craft which has worked and is working most disastrous and unmasonic results, in the opinion of your correspondent, is that of slandering a Brother. There is, I regret to say, too great a fondness for catching at any implication against a Brother and re-echoing it, without a moment's inquiry as to the authority or truthfulness of the implication; and often when that implication has been disproved, there are those who seem to delight in giving currency to the denunciatory implication rather than to the fact of its having been disproved.

Does not this propensity prove the lack of a proper qualification for membership in the fraternity, and to those who are in, and the propensity manifests itself, shall we not administer a gentle rebuke in love, not in anger, reminding them of their duty and obligations as Brethren of the fraternity, bound by reciprocal ties and privileges. The Mason who indulges in this propensity should be led to reflect upon the principles which animate the institution, giving it vitality and efficiency.

If we look into the past, we find the most bitter state of feeling engendered by it; and although time has smoothed the rugged front," and reason subdued the virulence of the denunciator, yet is the fair page of history marred by it, and feelings which were engendered at the time are transmitted to posterity; and although they are held in subjection, they are not the less ready to be revived on the least provocation.

Nor is the effect less objectionable when confined within a more limited sphere. The estrangement of Brethren from one another, through the agency of the sin alluded to, is destructive of that mutual confidence among the Craft, which all good Masons must deplore, and which all good men must deplore, and which every good Mason ought to frown upon and check as far as the power so to do within him lieth.

Estrangement between individuals, when once engendered through the agency of the slanderer's tongue, soon extends to the friends and associates of the parties, and thus results are attained calculated to wound the sensibilities of every well meaning and calm reflecting Brother of the Fraternity.


Appointing Elected Officers

From Vol. XXIII, No. 5, p. 160, March 1864:

If the office of Senior Warden be vacant, can the Grand Master appoint one to serve out the unexpired term?

Neither the Grand Master or Master can do it. The Master can fill the vacancy only from meeting to meeting, but the Grand Master can grant a dispensation to the Lodge to elect a Warden.

In case the offices of Master and Wardens be all vacant, can the Grand Master appoint a Master and Wardens?

He cannot appoint a Warden, but he can appoint a Master pro tem., until the Lodge can elect; or he may preside in person or by proxy, and hold an election to fill all vacancies.

Military Lodge Membership

From Vol. XXIII, No. 5, p. 160, March 1864:

Does membership in a Military Lodge discharge a Brother from his own Lodge?

It does not. Membership in a Military Lodge is only temporary, and for a temporary purpose. The members named in a military dispensation, retain all their privileges in their own Lodges, and are subject to trial and discipline as before.

Masonic Charges

From Vol. XXIII, No. 6, p. 192, April 1864:

  • An appeal may be taken, and the action of a Lodge set aside, on the ground that the punishment inflicted by the Lodge was not sufficiently severe for the offence.
  • A Lodge can try a Master Mason under suspension, without having restored him.
  • A Lodge cannot try a Mason who has removed to another jurisdiction, for offences committed before his removal, but must prefer the charges before the Lodge within whose jurisdiction the offender lives.
  • It is the right and duty of any and every Brother to prefer charges himself, if he have any to make.

Public Parades

From Vol. XXIII, No. 7, p. 213, May 1864:

The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Oregon, in his Annual Address before that body in September last, has the following just remarks on the propriety, or rather impropriety, of Masons parading in public on other than strictly Masonic occasions:—

It is a practice with some of our Lodges which I must say, Brethren, I deem "a custom more honored in the breach than in the observance," to participate in the celebration of national and other holidays. Masonry has her own peculiar festivals, and besides these may properly aid in the celebration of any work of art, because it is consistent with its original operative character, but with anything foreign to this we have nothing to do; and although it id highly becoming as citizens to celebrate the natal day of our beloved country, a Masonic body is departing from the ancient customs and usages of the Order when it assists by its presence upon any such occasion.


From Vol. XXIII, No. 7, p. 216, May 1864:


A Brother presents the following case :—

"Mr. __ applies lo Lodge for initiation. He is balloted for and elected at the next regular communication; presents himself for initiation; a Brother who had voted favorably at the last meeting protests against his admission, for reasons which should have caused him to vote unfavorably if known.

"Is it right for the W. M. to admit the party?

"The Brother protesting stated that he could not conscientiously 'be at the making' of that man a Mason. The Brother retired; the party was introduced and initiated."

We have nothing lo do with special cases in our columns, only with general principles. We can never make our paper the advocate of any particular party, or lend its influence to the maintenance of faction, or the abuse of individuals. But general inquiries like the foregoing are legitimate, whete names and places are concealed, ami we cannot be expected to have any partiality in the case.

According to strictly legal, external, and and logical interpretation, a ballot once made with a unanimously favorable issue, makes the person a member, and entitled to all the privileges of the same, one of which is the degrees. It is tUe election, the vote received by the person in the outer world, that constitutes him eligible to receive the oath and immunities of office. This vote cannot be changed, unless before the proper tribunal it may be proved to be a fraudulent vote, It no vote at all. Any mistakes in the motives, or imposition in representation, in securing the vote, cannot vitiate the effect of the ballot. It is not competent to go beyond the mere ballot. This is in accordance with external usage and decision. If Masonic usage and decision were similar, the W. M. did right in initiating the Brother, as there is no claim of fraud or imperfection in the ballot, and no claim of any irregularity even. If there had been irregularity, which is not essential to Ibe validity of the ballot, such irregularity could not be plead in bar.

Our Brother changed his mind, if capriciously or for insufficient cause, he deserves censure. If he were remiss in examining into the propriety of the application, he deserves censure also for remissness of duty. If the facts could not have been known, under the circumstances he is excusable. In any case it is his duty to protest against the admission of an unworthy member. We must increase our scrutiny into the qualifications of applicants. What next? Inasmuch as the applicant has not been obligated even as an Entered Apprentice, and inasmuch as the Brother did but a few evenings before declare the applicant worthy of his ballot, it is due to himself, to the Lodge, and the applicant, not merely capriciously to protest, but to state his reasons, and submit those to the action of the Lodge, and abide its decision. He forfeited his technical and legal Masonic right to use the ball a second time after the unanimous action. He makes known that he does object, and thus renders secrecy impossible. For the sake of harmony and the great principles of the Order, the protest should be regarded; for the same reason the objections should be stated and the decision of the Lodge regarded. We do not believe that there is a Lodge in the United States which would proceed against reasonable objections. If a Brother has taken the E. A. degree, we are clear in our views that charges should be presented against him and he be treated as a Brother, as he is.

Let the two great principles be regarded of harmony and" its preservation among Brethren, and the reception of the worthy only, and there can be no great error. If each Brother is sincerely anxious to preserve the harmony of the Lodge, and equally anxious not for many applicants, but for the good and true only, strife cannot enter our portals. Let not the letter so much as the great spirit of our institution be followed. "Let Brotherly love cement us."— Freemason.


From Vol. XXIII, No. 8, p. 285, June, 1864:

The following communication on this subject has been handed to us, and, as it is a matter of great importance, and one upon which Masons, both young and old, seem to be divided in opinion, we cheerfully give our views with regard to it:—

"Masonic Editor Sunday Mercury:—Will you please answer the following questions, and oblige several young Masons?

  1. When a candidate is proposed in the Lodge, and his application received and referred to a committee, is it not the duty of any Brother who may know aught against the character of the applicant to communicate to the committee the facts which may have come to his knowledge?
  2. When a candidate has been favorably reported upon by the committee, and bears a good reputation in the community, and, upon the ballot being taken but one black-ball appears, is it not the duty of the Brother casting the negative ballot to explain his reasons for so doing?

To the first question, we answer: as a general rule, Yes; but circumstances may arise which would render a different course both justifiable and proper; and such cases will suggest themselves to the mind of any intelligent Brother.

To the second question, we answer, emphatically, No! No one has a right to know who casts the black-ball; and if by chance it should become known, no one has a right to question the Brother who casts it concerning his reasons for so doing.

There is no one act on which so much care, deliberation and justice are required as in balloting on the application of a candidate for the mysteries of Masonry. We have in former articles expressed our views in connection with recommendations, duties of committees, &c., and the subject of balloting for candidates for Masonic honors is one of equal, if not of more vital importance to the prosperity and harmony of the Order. To young Masons, in particular, we wish now to address ourselves, and in all candor say to them, weigh well the duty that devolves upon you, and be careful you do not permit the impulses of passion or prejudice to influence your vote. The position in which you, as well as every individual Brother is placed when called upon to vote for an applicant, should be maturely considered; and if you feel inclined to reject him, ask of your conscience this question: Have I good and sufficient reasons for so doing? or, is it simply a "private pique" or personal prejudice which influences me in this matter? Conscience will answer truly, and by its dictates you may safely be guided ; then, when yon are satisfied as to the proper course to be pursued, do your duty without fear or favor. Honesty of purpose should be the guiding star to the rule of your action—Charity at all times the director of your mind—and the harmony of the Lodge the basis by which all should be governed.

Much ill-feeling must necessarily be engendered in a Lodge if a good man is rejected, and his friends most assuredly must and will become chagrined if it be found that no proper cause exists for the exercise of the highest prerogative vested in an individual. Apart from this, the sensibilities of the applicant himself must be sorely wounded, if he be conscious that his life has been one of moral rectitude and propriety; and as men are apt to reason by analogy and comparison, it too often occurs, when an undue exercise of the black-ball is used, that the question presents itself to the rejected whether there be not some one or more members in the body much more unfit to be borne upon its roll than he would be if received : and the result, instead of producing the effect desired, raises up a secret enemy against us. It is, therefore, very easy to prevent and obviate the cause of annoyance by proper and due reflection, and acting under the chaste and mild influences of the noblest attribute of our Order—Charity—which should be the guide of all our acts, and thereby we should be governed. A Mason sitting as member of a Lodge, and beholding the emblems before him, ought at all times to remember the sublime lessons which they teach, and so act as to win the approval of the Almighty Master of the Universe, in whose presence he seeks to be approved now and hereafter. He should be careful that he perpetrates no invidious act!), but rather "dounto his neighbor as he would that he should do unto him." Let every Brother remember that the white apron is emblematical of purity and innocence, both of conscience and heart, and teaches us to walk uprightly before Heaven and before man, without permitting us to deviate from the square of propriety, or to use it as a medium of persecution, malice or revenge ; but, as the operative workman raises his column by the plumb, so should the speculative Mason carry himself in all his acts, more especially when within the " Sanctum "—ever bear in mind that no contention should arise, "save that noble contention, or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree," thus inspiring a feeling pure and holy as that which pervades the sphere to which all, by proper conduct, hope to arrive when the trial of their probationary state is over. Mercury, San Francisco.

Masonic Trials

From Vol. XXIII, No. 7, p. 216, May, 1864:

Mr. Editor,—Are any classes of persons declared to be incompetent to give evi. dence on Masonic trials ? Please answer and oblige. Delta.

The law of the land, which, in this instance is the same as the law of Masonry, has declared the following classes as incompetent to give evidence :—

  1. Persons who have not the use of reason, are from the infirmity of their nature considered to be utterly incapable of giving evidence. This class includes idiots, madmen, and children loo young to be sensible of the obligations of an oath, and to distinguish between good and evil.
  2. Persons who are entirely devoid of any such religious principle or belief as would bind their consciences to speak the truth, are incompetent as witnesses. Hence the evidence of an Atheist must be rejected, because as it has been well said, such a person cannot be subject to that sanction which is deemed an indis pensable test of truth. But as Masonry does not demand of its candidates any other religious declaration than that of a belief in God, it cannot require of the witnesses in its trials any profession of a more explicit faith. But even here it seems to concur with the law of the land.
  3. Persons who have been rendered infamous by their conviction of great crimes, are deemed incompetent to give evidence.
  4. Persons interested in the result of the trial are considered incompetent to give evidence. From the nature of human actions and passions, and from the fact that all persons, even the most virtuous, are unconciously swayed by motives of interest, the evidence of such persons is rather to be distrusted than believed. This rule will, perhaps, be generally difficult of application in Masonic trials, although in a civil suit at law, it is easy to define what is the interest of a party sufficient to render his evidence incompetent.

But whenever it is clearly apparent that the interests of a witness would be greatly benefitted by either the acquital or conviction of the accused, his testimony must be entirely rejected, or, if admitted, its value must be weighed with the most scrupulous caution.

The peculiar isolated character of the Masonic institution here suggests as an important question, whether it is admissible to take the testimony of a profane person, who is not a Freemason, in the trial of a Mason before his Lodge. Such testimony, we think, is generally admissible, but as there are special cases in which it is not, it is proper we should state the grounds and reasons for this admissibility, and the mode and manner in which such testimony is to be taken.

The great object of every trial in Masonry, as elsewhere, is to elicit truth ; and in the spirit of truth to administer justice.

From whatever source, therefore, this truth can be obtained, it is not only competent to seek it, but it is obligatory on us to do so. This is a principle of law as well as common sense. Now, if A, who is a Freemason, shall have committed an offence, of which B and C alone wen; cognizant as witnesses, shall it be said that A must be acquitted for want of proof, because B and C are not members of the society. If such were the case the ends of justice will be defeated rather than subserved.

If the veracity of B and C are unimpeached, their testimony as to the fact, cannot be lawfully rejected on any ground, except that they may be interested in the result of the trial, and might be benefitted by the conviction or the acquittal of the defendant.

Any other rule would be often attended with injurious consequences to our institution. We will suppose a case :—A, who is a member of a Lodge, is accused of habitual intemperance, a vice eminently unmasonic in its character, and one which will always reflect a great portion of the de-jredation of the offender upon the society which shall sustain and defend him in its perpetration. If then a dozen or more men, all ot reputation and veracity, should come, or be brought before the Lodge, ready and willing to testify to this fact, by what process of reason or justice, or under what maxim of Masonic jurisprudence, could their testimony be rejected, simply because they were not Masons 1 The world would not, and could not, appreciate the causes which led to the rejection of such clear and unimpeachable testimony, and would visit with its just reprobation, the institution which could thus extend its fraternal affection to the support of undoubted guilt.

It must, however, be noted, that the testimony of persons who are not Masons, is not to be given as that of Masons is, within the precincts of the Lodge. They are not to be present at the trial, and whatever testimony they have to adduce must be taken by a Committee, to be afterwards accurately reported to the Lodge. But in all cases, the accused has a right to be present, and interrogate the witnesses.

The testimony of Masons is to be taken either in Lodge or in Committee, and under the sanction of their obligation.

The testimony of profanes is always to be taken by a Committee, and on oath, legally administered.— N. Y. Sat. Cour.

Restoration of Membership

From Vol. XXIII, No. 8, p. 262, June, 1864:

An expelled or suspended Mason can only be restored to the rights and privileges of Masonry, or to membership, by petition, its reference to a Committee, a favorable report thereon, and his unanimous acceptance by the Lodge.

Exclusion of a Brother by the Master

From Vol. XXIII, No. 8, p. 262, June, 1864:

The Master of a Lodge has the power to direct the withdrawal of a visiting Brother, if, in his opinion, the presence of such visiting Brother will disturb its harmony, or cause the withdrawal of any member on account of his presence.

Officers of Lodges Under Dispensation

From Vol. XXIII, No. 8, p. 272, June, 1864:

A Brother claims that the officers of a Lodge U. D., can and ought to be installed into their respective offices when the Lodge commences to work under its Dispensation. I think they neither can nor ought to be. What is your opinion?

The seventh paragraph of the Constitution of the Grand Lodge, among other things, has the following words: " The duties of the Grand Master shall be, to govern Lodges under Dispensation; to constitute, consecrate, and dedicate new Lodges chartered by the Grand Lodge, and install their officers."

A Lodge under Dispensation is governed by the Grand Master. It is not a Lodge in any permanent sense, but its members are simply authorized to make Masons, and to do such things as are necessary for its convenience or to prepare it for a permanent organization: all this by permission, and as agents of the Grand Master.

Before the officers of a Lodge can be installed, the Lodge must be chartered, constituted and consecrated. The members of a Lodge U. D. are not divested of any rights or privileges in the Chartered Lodges to which they belong, but are liable for dues, and amenable to discipline. The Charter is the demit of the Brethren named therein ; all others remain in their old homes as before. When a chartered Lodge is constituted, its members are absolved from allegiance to all other Lodges, and thenceforth go with the new Lodge.

A Lodge under Dispensation is temporary; a Chartered Lodge is permanent.

Black Ball in the Ballot Box

From Vol. XXIII, No. 10, p. 314, August, 1864:

The "black ball" found in the ballot box after a vote has been taken on the application of a candidate for the degrees or for membership, indicates, in the opinion of the Brother who may have deposited it, that the prayer of the petition should not be favorably answered, and it therefore operates as a rejection of such application. When this discovery is made, and when by his silence, the Brother who has placed the black ball there, evinces that his vote of rejection was intentional, and not cast through mistake, no Brother has a right to question the propriety of the act, but is bound by all the teachings of Masonry to acquiesce in the result. Each and every Brother is responsible to himself, and to no other authority in the Order, for the character of his vote on all occasions. The privilege which belongs to each Master Mason of deciding in his Lodge on the propriety of admitting or rejecting candidates for degrees or membership, is the highest and most important privilege he enjoys. But as every privilege has its relative duly( so with the privilege here alluded to, a most solemn and imperative duty rests upon each member, to vote, on such occasions, in full view of his obligations, guided by a determination that the interests of the Order shall not suffer, but rather be served by his action.

The ballot box in the Lodge room is no mere toy — it is the sacred instrument whereby we decide whether we shall permit the Order to deteriorate, and fall into base or unworthy hands, or whether we shall maintain its high standard of character, and deliver over unimpaired to the generation which shall succeed us, the Ark of our holy Covenant. It is therefore not an instrument to be trifled with, but always to be employed understanding and seriously.

The ballot box locks the door of the Lodge against the world, and each mem
ber possesses a key, and can turn it to open or to close it against all who may
seek to enter. In using this key each Brother should be actuated by a sense of
the most rigid impartiality and justice. If his nearest friend should apply for
entrance, and he be aware of reason why the key should not be turned to admit
 him — that there exists in him any incompatibility with the spirit of genuine 
Masonry, he violates his solemn obligations if he fails to deposit the rejecting 

The black ball thrown does not necessarily denote any condemnation of the moral character of the applicant for degree or membership. It may be all that; but it must not be so understood as of course. It may, and most frequently does mean, that there is in the candidate an unfitness for use as a stone in the rearing of our mystic temple; it may signify the impression that he has sought admission without due consideration of the nature of the undertaking on which he would enter; it may denote the belief or knowledge of the Brother depositing the black ball that the candidate entertains wrong ideas of the nature of Freemasonry, and therefore blindly, and perhaps from mere idle curiosity, desires to cross our threshold. It is of infinitely more consequence to our institution whether it accept or reject a candidate for admission, than it can be to the candidate whether his application be successful or otherwise.

Each Brother for himself, and his own mind and conscience must decide as to the particular fitness or unfitness of applicants. No person outside of the fraternity has any right to admission, or as concerns the Order, any rights at all which we are bound to respect, except the right to have his application, which has been submitted in good faith, considered and acted upon in like manner - He cannot have any ground for complaint is to the result, if unfavorable. He has submitted his name to the Lodge for its action, and such submission carries with it an implication of his willingness to accept the consequences, whatever they may be. If therefore the candidate can have no legitimate base of complaint, neither can the Brother who may have introduced his petition, nor his other friends in the Lodge, should there be any, be justified in expressing themselves as dissatisfied with the result of the ballot. True, the rejection may be the act of one Brother only, but the voice of the Order in all ages has conceded such privilege and power, and, we think, wisely, to one, and when such a one exercises his privilege, it should be construed as being through him, the Voice of the Order. It is unmasonic to question the propriety of a ballot, or to seek its overthrow. The least attempt to interfere with the secrecy of the ballot should be frowned down, and instantly condemned. If permitted in one instance, it will give birth to others, and will ultimately destroy the peace of a Lodge.

Every Brother on consideration, will readily admit the soundness of our position — and if he should be so situated at any lime as to feel aggrieved at the result of a vote upon the application of any candidate whose name he may have introduced, or whom he would have been pleased to see admitted, a second thought should convince him that such was one of the chances to which he himself was liable, and that in the case in question, the Brother casting the black ball, only exercised a privilege, which he might on some future occasion, feel it his own painful duty to claim and to exercise.

The ballot box is not an instrument to be treated with levity. If a Brother concludes that duty requires he should throw a black ball, let him do so unflinchingly, and without fear. Should he omit to reject, and by such omission have opened the door of the Lodge to an unworthy individual, he will have worked positive injury to our institution. Far better would it be for him to reject a hundred worthy men than to permit, by omission, the entrance of one improper person. But while there should be no hesitation to blackball when needful — let no Brother allow any petty feelings to influence him in his decisions. This fault is as unmasonic as the other, and should be always carefully avoided.


From Vol. XXIII, No. 11, p. 347, September, 1864:

"What is Ihe proper course for a Lodge to pursue in relation to a Mason who is under suspension for unmasonic conduct, and who, since his suspension, has been guilty of unmasonic conduct of the grossest nature?"

With regard to the case in question, the proper course to be pursued is simply to prefer charges of gross unmasonic conduct, making the specifications as in other cases, and proceed according to the rules prescribed by the Constitution of the Grand Lodge relative to Masonic trials. The idea that a suspended Mason is no longer amenable to the laws of the Order is a fallacious one: it is true he has no claim upon the Fraternity—he has forfeited all his rights and privileges as a Mason for the time being; but as suspension is only a temporary privation of the rights and privileges of the Order, it does not place him entirely without the pale of Masonry, but leaves him still amenable to the general laws and regulations; and, if during his period of suspension, he should commit a Masonic crime which merits a severer punishment, it is the duty of the Lodge to try him for the greater offence, and if guilty to inflict upon him the extreme penalty of the law.

Those who have an idea that a suspended Mason cannot be reached because he is already undergoing Masonic punishment, might with the same propriety, argue that a man who has been imprisoned for larceny, and who while in prison assaults and murders his jailor, or fellow-prisoner, cannot be tried and punished for murder, because he is already suffering the penalty of the minor offence. In this Jurisdiction there are but three grades of Masonic punishment: First, reprimand; second, suspension; third, expulsion. Immoral or unmasonic conduct, according to its magnitude, will subject a Brother to either of the first two, but nothing short of gross unmasonic conduct should subject him to the last; it is the severest punishment known to Masonry, and very few expelled Masons are ever restored, however earnestly they may pray for forgiveness. Gross unmasonic conduct may be defined to be an offence, or crime, so wickedly and deliberately perpetrated that but little hope can be entertained that the offender will soon repent and honestly endeavor to-make atonement. A Mason should not be expelled so long as there is a reasonable hope that the offender is not corrupt at heart; but if circumstances demand it, every Lodge owes it to itself and to the Fraternity at large to inflict the punishment; and the reprimanded or suspended Mason is just as liable to this higher grade of punishment as any other Mason. —N. Y. Mercury.

From Vol. XXIII, No. 11, p. 350, September, 1864:

"If a Brother be guilty of acts unwarranted either by Masonic or the moral law, can a Lodge retain him as a member, when the effects outside are damaging to the great principles and objects of Masonry? Will not the Lodge be compelled to expel or get rid of the obnoxious Brother?"

Sometimes it is right and proper for a Lodge to be patient with an erring Brother; sometimes they are afraid to do their duty, but we hope none are so dishonest as to be really in sympathy with a Brother greatly in error.

If, however, a Lodge should retain a turbulent, vicious Brother, or one guilty of any crime, the Grand Lodge, or Grand Master, will institute an inquiry, and the Lodge may lose its charter. There is no wrong without a remedy. Let Brethren bear in mind that it is best to let the tares remain sometimes, at least as long as there is considerably more wheat than tares.

We may as well lake this occasion to say, that abroad distinction should always be made between crimes and wrong committed in the heat of passion, under strong provocation, or without premeditation, and those committed deliberately, in cool blood, and in the exercise of reasoning faculties. To the former, act in mercy, considering lest thou also may be tempted in like manner.

Let reason and conscience rule, but temper justice as God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.—Trowel.

Secret Ballot

From Vol. XXIII, No. 12, p. 353, October, 1864:

The Secret Ballot - Its Use and Abuse. It is known to all, that in the election of Candidates, Lodges employ a secret ballot of while and black balls. Unanimity of choice is, in a case of this kind, very justly and wisely desired and demanded: one black ball only being generally required for the rejection of a candidate, without the assignment of any reason. This is an inherent privilege, not subject to dispensation or interference of the Grand Lodge, because, as we find it in the Ancient Constitutions, "The members of a particular Lodge are the best judges of it; and because, if a turbulent member should be imposed upon them, it might spoil the harmony, and hinder the freedom of their communications, or even break and disperse the Lodge, which ought to be avoided by all true and faithful." Every member is expected to vote in the ballot for a candidate, nor can any be excused from sharing the responsibility of admission or rejection, except by the unanimous consent of the Lodge. When a member has himself no personal or acquired knowledge of the qualifications of the candidate, he is bound to give implicit faith to the recommendation of his Brethren of the reporting Committee, who, he is also bound to believe, would not make a favorable report on the petition of an unworthy candidate.

The Secret Ballot, thus adopted and applied, is designed to secure to the members of tho Lodge entire independence and freedom in the admission of candidates, and, when properly used, it affords the highest, and indeed the only, security to the Lodge. The privilege which every Master Mason enjoys by means of it, of deciding in his Lodge on the propriety of admitting or rejecting candidates for degrees, or for membership, is the highest and most important privilege enjoyed by him. But, as every privilege has its relative and correspondent duty, so in regard to this privilege, a most solemn and weighty duty rests upon each member to vote, on such occasions, with a full and conscientious sense of his obligations, and with. a strong determination that the interest of the Order shall be served and promoted, not undermined or injured by his course of action.

As we have said on former occasions, the Ballot-box in the Lodge Room is no mere toy — it is the sacred instrument whereby we decide whether we shall permit the Order to deteriorate, and fall into base or unworthy hands, or whether we shall maintain its high standard of character, and deliver over, unimpaired, to the generation which shall succeed us, the Ark of our Holy Covenant. It is, therefore, not an instrument to be trifled with, but is always to be employed seriously and understandingly. The Ballot-box locks the door of the Lodge against the world, and each member possesses a key, which he can turn to open or close it against all who may seek to enter. In using this key, each Brother should be actuated by a sense of the most rigid impartiality and justice. If his nearest friend should apply for entrance and he be aware of any reason why the key should not be turned to admit him — of there existing in that friend any incompatibility with the spirit of genuine Masonry — he violates his most solemn obligations, if he fails to deposit the rejecting ballot.

As it is very desirable that the true and rightful use of the ballot should be correctly and clearly understood, we shall, before proceeding to consider the evils and dangers of its abuse, briefly repeat the substance of one or two suggestions which have already appeared in our pages. Immorality does not constitute the only ground for the rejection of a candidate; he may be unfitted for the participation in Masonic Brotherhood, by other causes, which do not involve any condemnation of his character. Again, each Brother must determine for himself, freely and independently, on the fitness or unfitness of the candidate, and having so determined, he is bound, fearlessly and unflinchingly, to cast his vote, and that vote, though only one, is to be regarded as the voice of the Lodge, so long as there it no reason for suspecting that abuse of privilege to which we shall now allude.

It is not, however, to be concealed or denied, that instances of direct and palpable abuse of the privilege, and neglect or violation of its solemn responsibilities, do not infrequently occur, and, as a necessary result, cause very serious embarrassment and difficulty in the working of a Lodge. Instances are by no means unfamiliar to us, in which a Brother, offended and aggrieved in his own opinion, by the rejection of a friend whom he has proposed as a candidate, or by some other action of the Lodge adverse to his views and wishes, has resolved to obstruct the business, and prevent the election of all other candidates, however eligible, until or unless his desires shall have been complied with. It must be plain to all that any Brother who should be led by ill-temper, or wounded feeling, into such a course of this, is not only guilty of unmasonic behavior and disloyalty to his own Lodge and its interests, in particular, but also to the cause of Masonry and of justice in general.

The Secret Ballot, when properly and conscientiously used, affords the highest and most effectual security to the Lodge ; but when improperly used, or rather .abused, it becomes a dangerous and destructive power of evil—an instrument of personal revenge and malicious gratification. As it is only too well known to us all, that the abuse of this valuable privilege dose occur, and that too with sufficient frequency to produce very serious difficulty, and to call urgently for a remedy, the question is forced upon us — How is a remedy to be applied, without encroaching on that sacred independence of the Ballot, of which no one has been a more constant and resolute upholder than ourselves ? The question is a difficult one, and one requiring to be very cautiously considered ; but yet, that it admits of a satisfactory solution we entertain no doubt whatever. To every privilege a correlative obligation and duty is always attached. This rule we find to pervade the whole natural and moral world, and to enter intimately into all codes of law, and social regulations of civilized communities.

To take some illustrations of these last. Among people of Anglo-Saxon origin more especially, no rule or proverb is more universally accepted than that "a man's house is his castle," into which no other has any right to enter against his will; but, on the contrary, that should he attempt to do so against the owner's will, he does it at the risk of his life. Such is the "privilege" in this case; but to preserve his title to that privilege, the owner must himself abide by and obey the general laws of the community. Let him fail to do this — let him commit some serious breach of the law, as, for instance, murder, or some other heinous crime — his house is no longer "his castle." The officers of justice will unhesitatingly burst into it and, bring him forth for trial. In other words, his "privilege" is forfeited by the neglect or violation of the correlative duty or obligation, and the higher and more general law overrides and supersedes the lower and more special law. Under the old feudal system the vassals held their lands of their lords, and these again held theirs of their suzerain, or Lord Paramount, not alone on the condition of military service for a limited period and1 with a stipulated force, but also almost always under a covenant that at certain appointed times, they should perform some service, or act of homage; and the omission to fulfill either of these conditions involved the forfeiture of the grant. And so in the realms of nature and of mind. The Creator bestows upon man a body "fearfully and wonderfully made," endowed with great powers of toil, and vast capabilities of enjoyment, but with the condition annexed, that he shall obey those laws which physiology bears stamped in unmistakable characters upon her everlasting tablets.

Neglecting, or violating those laws, he forfeits all title to the enjoyment of his beneficent Creator's bounty, and sinks down into a. state of weak decrepitude, and of wretched suffering. The human mind, in a like manner, has been endowed by the Great Fountainhead of all mind and reason, with the power and the desire of seeking and attaining knowledge — of ascending higher and higher in the realms of thought, until the mortal would seem to approach the immortal — the human, the divine. But here, again, the correlative duty and condition stand unalterably fixed. The man that seeks to attain this lofty standard of knowledge and intellectual and spiritual refinement, must subdue and keep under all earthly, sensual appetites and passions.

To return, however — like all other privileges, this of the Ballot has its correlative condition and duty, by the violation of which it is justly forfeited. The privilege was especially designed to protect both the individual Brother in his vote, and the Lodge in its interest, and its condition is that it should be used for those purposes, in a conscientious and strictly Masonic way. If used in any other way — if perverted and changed into an instrument of destruction, or a machine of malice—the condition is plainly broken, and no less plainly is the right or privilege forfeited. However high the law or right of the Ballot may be, that of self-preservation of the Lodge is far higher, and if, by the abuse of the ballot-privilege on the part of any member, the welfare and safety of the Lodge be endangered, this higher law steps in, and supersedes the lover law, or right, that pertains to the individual only. Like the law of existence itself, this is above all rule or law of conventional enactment, leaping over or breaking down all barriers and obstacles in its own defence.

It is indeed very difficult to draw the line of distinction sometimes between a stern and a strict use of the Ballot, and the perversion and abuse of it: and when this distinction is made, and evidence of the abuse is patent and clear to all, there is still almost always a great difficulty in discovering the offender, and in determining the motive that prompted the offence. The sacredness of the Ballot itself, no less than the standard principles of equity, enjoins that the benefit of any doubt should be allowed to the suspected member: but when once the proof of an abuse of the privilege is convincingly clear, no consideration whatever should prevent the Lodge, through its officers, from asserting its own rights, and defending its own welfare and safety. The readiest and most unerring evidence of the perverted use of the Ballot is afforded by the generality and extensiveness of the offence. When, for instance, in the balloting of a Lodge, we find a black ball cast against all parties and upon every occasion, indiscriminately, for a continuous period, it becomes plain that it is not the result of a conscientious objection to some one candidate or measure, but of a determination, from whatever motive arising, to obstruct the business of the Lodge.

This once being evident, it unquestionably becomes the duty of the Lodge through its representative and chief officer, to take such measures as shall seem best and most effective, both for the detection of the offender and the punishment of the offence. It is not necessary to discuss what those means should be: it is sufficient to say that, when the safety of the Lodge is endangered, the Master is not only warranted in adopting whatever course seems best for its protection, but he would culpably fail in his duty, were he to omit to do so. Nor, while we are, and ever have been, firm supporters of the rights and privileges of the Ballot, so long as it is justly and Masonically used, do we hesitate a moment to maintain, that any member, who shall have been proved to have perverted and prostituted it to the purposes and passions of an irritated temper,"or wicked heart, deserves to be visited with the most prompt and severe punishment. He has proved by his conduct that he is no true Mason, and therefore has no rightful place in any position of the Great Masonic Temple.


Jurisdiction of Lodges

From Vol. XXIV, No. 7, p. 193, May, 1865:


The universal rule of Masonry in this country is, that the jurisdiction of a Lodge (and the same is true of all other Masonic Bodies,) extends half-way, in all directions, between itself and the next nearest Lodge, except that it does not extend beyond the limits of the State in which it is located, nor to within the boundaries of any town where a Lodge is already established. This is a plain and simple rule, and it should seem that there need not be any misapprehension about it, or difficulty in its practical application. The Lodges, in their work, are restricted by it, and it is the duty of the Master of every Lodge to see that it is carefully and literally enforced. The usual penalty for a violation of it, is a forfeiture of the fees to the Lodge nearest the residence of the candidate; within whose jurisdiction he has his abode, and to which his petition should have been presented. This is the mildest form of discipline, and is in force where no special regulation exists imposing a higher penalty, such as reprimand, suspension of the Master, or revocation of the Charter; according to the aggravated character of the offence, and its frequency by the same Lodge. The power of a Grand Lodge to impose either of these penalties is unquestionable, and its duty to do so, where the lesser penalty fails of its purpose, is equally clear. The rule, at whatever consequences, should be rigidly enforced. If this cannot be done by lenient measures, then more stringent ones should be employed. It is the only equal and just rule that can be framed to meet all the contingencies of the case, and to secure to each individual Lodge the full enjoyment of its jurisdictional rights. Without this security there can never be that perfect harmony and confidence among the Lodges which are so essentially necessary to their peace and prosperity; nor that protection against the admission of unfit and improper persons, which the reputation and welfare of the Institution at large so imperatively demand.

The regulation on this subject in the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of this State, until within the last few years, was in exact conformity with the ancient rule as above cited, and in the following words :—" All applications for initiation shall be made to the Lodge in the town where the petitioner resides, if there be a Lodge in such town; but if there be none, then he shall apply to the Lodge nearest his residence." And this rule worked to the satisfaction of all parties, and its perfect equity and fairness were nowhere questioned, until the multiplication of railroad facilities changed the natural line of distances, and Lodges, which, under the old mode of travel, were geographically ten or even twenty miles distant from a given place, were brought, in point of lime, nearer the residence of a candidate living within five or six miles of a Lodge located in the adjoining town.

This led, on the part of some of the Lodges, to a construction of the rule never contemplated by its framers, and clearly antagonistical to its spirit and purpose. It was assumed, on the one hand, that that Lodge was " nearest the residence" of the candidate which could be reached in the shortest time and at the least inconvenience; while, on the other hand, it was contended, and with logical force and correctness, that the rule, in its terms and intention, limited and restricted the privileges of a candidate to the Lodge geographically " nearest his residence," without regard either to convenience or time; that the introduction of a new and more rapid mode of travelling did not change or affect the established and lawful jurisdiction of a Lodge, nor relieve the candidate of the necessity of applying for initiation where he is best known. The conclusiveness of this reasoning ought to have placed the question beyond doubt or controversy. But it did not. And with a view to relieve the subject of its present embarrassment, the Grand Lodge, (as we thought at the time, and as the result has shown,) unfortunately amended the rule, to the effect, that the petitioner shall " apply to the Lodge most convenient to his residence." By this amendment a clear and well defined rule, about which there ought never to have been any difference of opinion, was stricken out of the Constitutions, and another substituted, as indefinite and unsatisfactory as it was possibb for language to make it. If it be admitted that the terms of the original rule were liable to misconstruction, those of the new rule are equally so. If the former decided that a Lodge twenty miles distant was nearer the residence of the candidate than one of five miles, the latter leaves it optional with him to say whether one fifty miles off, is not more "convenient" for him than one in a neighboring town, four or five miles from his residence 1 for there is nothing in the new regulation to determine the question of "convenience." It must therefore be decided either by the candidate or the Lodge to which he applies. And who should know better than the candidate himself what suits his own convenience! We know of one instance, at least, where the candidate claimed this right, and it was conceded to him; and he was initiated in a Lodge more than twenty miles from his residence, when there was a good Lodge nearer by fifteen miles. The difficulty in this case was that the nearest Lodge would not have entertained his petition. The objection may have been a personal one, (and we are inclined to think it was,) or it may have been one of character. If the latter, then an unworthy member gained admission to the Institution by finding it more "convenient" to apply to a distant and strange Lodge, than to one composed of his neighbors! We cite this case merely as an illustration of the principle we are discussing, and not with any view to censure or find fault with the parties to it.

Others might have been selected, but this best answers our purpose, as presenting the subject in its strongest light. Here, not only the objection to the candidate was disregarded, or not allowed to manifest itself in an effective form, but the rightful jurisdiction of the nearest Lodge was stultified. And perhaps the most remarkable feature in the case is, that this singular result was brought about by the candidate himself!" It is more convenient" said he, "for me to go twenty miles east, than to go five miles west!" The eastern Lodge believed him, and the matter was settled —lawfully, perhaps, but neither masonically nor wisely. The western, or nearest Lodge, was, by a fiction, wrongfully deprived of its privilege to initiate the candidate, who resided within its lawful jurisdiction,—as much so as though he had lived in the town where the Lodge was situated. That this wrong was the result of a fiction, will hardly be questioned, for it is idle to say that it was more convenient for the candidate to travel twenty miles and remain out over night, when, if worthy, he could have accomplished the same purpose by traveling four or five miles, and returned home on the same evening. The pretence was an absurdity; but it was allowed, because there was no authorized power to determine its validity. The regulations of the Grand Lodge are silent on the subject, and the rule itself is vague and undefined. That this is not only a wrong, but a dangerous condition of things, no intelligent Brother can doubt. Whatever may be its advantages, if it have any, they are moie than counter-balanced by its liability to great abuses. It is a door thrown wide open, through which unworthy men, who could not gain admission to a Lodge where they are known, may effect their purpose in a Lodge where they are but imperfectly known, or perhaps not personally known at all. It cannot therefore be too soon closed. And this can be most effectually and properly done by restoring the rule to its normal condition, and requiring all candidates to be initiated in the Lodge nearest their residence. This is the ancient, as it is the only truly Masonic and safe rule, on the subject. But if this may not be, then let the question of " convenience," in all cases, be referred to the "nearest Lodge" for its decision.. Having all the facts in its possession, with a perfect knowledge of the means of travel, and of the fitness of the candidate, it is the only competent and qualified Body to decide it. The distant Lodge can know, comparatively, but little about it, and the petitioner should not be allowed to have anything to do with it.


From Vol. XXIV, No. 9, p. 296, August, 1865:

A demit is simply the severence of Lodge membership, and is complete when the Brother has paid his indebtedness to the Lodge and the Lodge has by Resolution consented to such severence. The act of the Lodge severs the membership—not the issuing of the certificate by the Secretary. The certificate of dismission is merely evidence of the joint action of the Lodge and the member, by which such membership was terminated, and does not necessarily include a recommendation of the Brother.

Jurisdiction Over Rejected Candidates

From Vol. XXIV, No. 10, p. 325, September, 1865:

Where a candidate has been rejected and a new Lodge is afterwards established having jurisdiction over his place of residence, he may present his petition to the new Lodge; but he cannot be initiated without the consent and recommendation of the Lodge that rejected him.

Trials in Lodges Under Dispensation

From Vol. XXIV, No. 10, p. 325, September, 1865:

Lodges under Dispensation have no jurisdiction to try charges against the members composing it. Such charges must be presented to the Lodge from which the petitioners hailed at the time of issuing Dispensation, or to the Grand Master.

Physical and Age Requirements of Candidates

From Vol. XXIV, No. 11, p. 350, September, 1865:


"The first written law we have on the subject, is contained in the 5th article of the Gothic Constitutions, adopted at York, in 926, and is in these words :—
A candidate must be without blemish, and have the full and proper use of his limbs; for a maimed man can do the Craft no good.

The next enactment is to be found in the Regulations of 1663, under the Grand Mastership of the Earl of St. Albans, and is as follows:—
That he that be made, be able in all degrees, that is, free-born, of a good kindred, true, and no bondman: and that he have his right limbs as a man ought to have.

In the Charges approved in 1772, we have the following:—
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 in his body that may render him incapable of learning the art of serving his master's lord, and of being made a brother, &c.

In the second edition of Anderson's Constitutions, which was examined and approved by such Masons as Desaguliers, Cowper and Payne, we find the following :—
The men made Masons must be free-men, (or no bondmen,) of mature age, and good report, hale and sound, not deformed or dismembered at the time of making.

The Ahiman Rezon of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, published in 1788, and of South Carolina, published in 1807, adopt the rule as laid down in the second edition of Anderson's Constitutions.

In 1823, the Grand Lodge of Missouri unanimously adopted a Resolution, requiring that candidates for initiation should be sound in mind and all their members, and at the same time declared that the Grand Lodge cannot grant a letter of dispensation to initiate any person maimed, disabled, or wanting the qualifications established by ancient usages.

In 1848, the Grand Lodge of Maryland adopted a Resolution requiring their subordinates in the initiation of candidates, to adhere to the ancient law, which says, He shall be of entire limbs.

In 1849, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, in his address, enforces the same rule. And the Grand Lodges of New York, Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, District of Columbia, and all other of our sister Grand Lodges, so far as the Committee have any knowledge of their action on the subject, have in substance, the same rule as the 79th and 80th Rules of our Grand Lodge.

And we have no knowledge of any differently expressed opinion, except by a Committee of the Grand Lodge of Mississippi. They adopted as the basis of their opinion, That the world has changed, and Masonry has changed. That the world has changed is doubtless true, but that Masonry has changed is doubtless false. The supposed change of our Institution from an entirely operative to entirely speculative character, is a supposition that has no foundation either in history or tradition. Let the world change; let other institutions, with their peculiar usages and objects, grow up and live their brief hour and die, but lay not violent hands on our venerable Order. It may seem hard that one so unfortunate as to be without an arm or leg, or not to have the proper use of them, should be excluded. But there is no greater hardship in his case than in that of his mother, wife, sister, or daughter; they are excluded by the same unvarying rule, but without a murmur they submit. A man without a leg or an arm, or the proper use of them, may be otherwise worthy, but cannot be well qualified.

That universal language by which Masons make themselves known to each other, by evidences as invaluable as life itself, and by which the savage, the Arab, the Dane, the Chinese, German, Irishman, Frenchman, Spaniard, Italian, and Englishman, can all meet upon the same common plain of Masonic friendship, and feel, and know, that besides the common tie of humanity, there are obligations of a stronger nature, that induce them to stand by, relieve, and befriend each other, can only be spoken in that language that is known to every creed, clime, and country under heaven, but to Masons only.

On the subject of age, the Ancient Regulations are less definite, expressing no uniform number of years at the expiration of which a candidate may apply for admission. The language used at an early date was, that he must be of mature and discreet age. The usages of the Craft have varied in different countries as to the construction of the time as to when this maturity or discretion is supposed to arrive.' The 6th of the Regulations adopted in 1663, prescribes that No person shall be accepted unless he be twenty-one years old or more. At Frankfort-on-the-Main, the age required is twenty. The Grand Lodge of Switzerland fixes the age at twenty-one. The Grand Lodge of Hanover prescribes the age of twentyfive, but permits the son of a Mason to be admitted at eighteen. The Grand Lodge of Hamburg deems that the lawful age for initiation shall be that in which the laws of the country fixes to be the age of majority. The Grand Orient of France requires the candidate to be twenty-one, except he be the son of a Mason who has performed an important service to the Order. In Prussia, the required age is twenty-five. In England it is twenty-one, except in cases where the Provincial Grand Master has granted a dispensation for an earlier age. In Ireland, the candidate must be twenty-one years old, unless a dispensation has been granted by the Grand Master or Grand Lodge. In the United States, the rule adopted by the Grand Lodge of Hamburg has been universally adopted, and the civil law fixing the age of majority at twenty-one years, there is no Grand Lodge that permits a candidate to be initiated under that age; and so universal and uniform has that rule been, that it would seem to be a matter of astonishment that any Lodge should violate it.

From Vol. XXIV, No. 11, p. 352, September, 1865:

A correspondent in Canada East Inquires—

1. "What is the Masonic meaning ol 'free birth,' or 'free born'?)"

We answer, just whut the words imply. If a man is bora of a bond woman, be is not "free by birth," i. e. he is not "free born." The child takes the condition of the mother, When the Grand Lodge of England a lew years since changed the words " free born," to "free man," it enacted an unauthorized innovation on the ancient laws and usages of Masonry.

2. "Can a person be made a Mason whose parents were not legally married?"

The old Consiitutions answer this in these words—"No Master should take a Prentice that is not the son of honest parents." The practice has not, however, always followed the law: and we are not aware that any injury has accrued to the Institution from the neglect. There were doubtless good reasons for the law when it was first enacted, but the spirit of Masonry, as now interpreted, does not require that the sin of the parent shall be visited upon the child. The law has long since become obsolete, and it is not worth while now to revive it. Jephthah, though of illegitimate birth, was made a head Judge in Israel, notwithstanding the Levitical law proscribed such children, even to the tenth generation.


Objection to Advancement

From Vol. XXV, No. 6, p. 161, April, 1866:

I. A candidate is proposed and accepted. Before initiation, objection is raised. What is the course?
II. A candidate is accepted and initiated. Objection is raised to advancement. What is the course?

I. It is a well-settled rule of Masonic law in this country, that no man can be admitted into Freemasonry without the unanimous consent of the members of the Lodge present at the time when his application for admission is lawfully before, it. So important did the founders of the present system of Masonic government regard this ancient rule, that they embodied it in the regulations of 2721, in the following terms: "No man can be entered a brother in any particular Lodge, or admitted to be a member thereof, without the unanimous consent of all the members of that Lodge then present when the candidate is proposed." And though this law was so far modified by the "new regulations" adopted by the Grand Lodge of England in 1754 as to authorize the Grand Master to allow "the Lodges to admit a member if not above three black balls are against him," its original restriction in the admission of candidates for the degrees was left, by the terms of the amendment, intact and in full force, notwithstanding that the present Masonic Constitutions of England give it a different construction. It is enough, however, for our purpose, that the practice of the fraternity in this country is in strict agreement with the original regulation, and that in the admission of candidates for Masonry, the unanimous consent of all the members present is an indispensable requirement.

This consent having been obtained, the candidate is entitled to initiation under the rule; and any objection that may subsequently be raised, is to be considered independently of the original ballot, and determined by a different proceeding. As a conservative regulation, and that every member of the Lodge may be protected in the exercise of this important privilege of his membership, and left free and unembarrassed by personal or other impertinent influences, the law of the secret ballot was adopted. But while this sound and wise provision affords the most ample protection to every member, it imposes upon him the reciprocal duty of exercising it in an impartial and conscientious manner, whenever and as often as occasion for it may arise. However loose a practice may have obtained, or whatever qualifications of the rule may have occasionally been introduced into the regulations of particular Lodges, there is no law in Masonry which excuses or exempts any member from the faithful performance of it. It is the highest prerogative with which he is invested, and the highest duty with which he is charged; and he is not at liberty to waive the one or neglect the other. Both are to be performed, and at the proper time, and in tho way and manner prescribed by the usages of the Lodge. If however a member, being present, neglects or is excused by his Lodge from the performance of this duty, he thereby voluntarily places himself beyond the protection and guarantees of the law of the ballot. The candidate has been accepted constructively, with the unanimous consent of all the brethren present, though one or more votes may have been withheld, and the record must be made in accordance with the fact, as indicated by the ballot-box.

The candidate is therefore lawfully admitted; he has passed the required ordeal, and stands before the Lodge with an unexceptionable character; awaiting only its pleasure for initiation. At this stage of the proceedings, the member who had declined to cast his ballot at the proper time, or one who was absent when the ballot was taken, rises in his place and objects to the initiation. What is to be done? The ballot cannot be reconsidered; and even if this were allowable, the Lodge would be no less derelict in its duty to the candidate than to itself, if it were to consent to the reversion of its own unanimous action by the unsustaincd objection of an individual member. The time when such member might have urged his objection in a way that would at once have been effective and final, has gone by; the condition of the case is changed, and another and different rule of proceeding is required to meet it.

What is this rule? We decided this question some years since, in the following words, and subsequent experience furnishes no sufiicient reason for a change of the opinion then given, namely, "Where a member came in, after a candidate had been accepted, and claimed a right to ballot, we hold that the ballot could not be reconsidered; and that of his objections to the candidate, the Lodge was then the sole judge. . . . After the ballot is recorded, a member claims the right to negative the decision already had: we hold that the Lodge may demand his reasons, and judge of their sufficiency." (We find this principle recognized in the by-laws of a subordinate Lodge in this country as early as 1739. The article referred to provides, that in balloting for candidates, if there be but one negative, the member casting it shall give to the committee, to be chosen by the Lodge, his reasons, "which, if satisfactory to said committee, his vote shall be confirmed, and the party stand negatived; but if unsatisfactory, or if he (the objector) refuses to give his reasons, or discover himself, his negative shall be of no effect." We do not of course subscribe to the propriety of tliis rule, and cite it merely to show that the principle we have stated was recognized and acted upon by our brethren of more than a century ago.)

To the same effect is the following rule in the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts: "Any member of a subordinate Lodge may object to the initiation, passing, or raising of a candidate, at any time before the degree is conferred; and it shall be the duty of the Lodge to investigate such objections before proceeding further with the candidate." If the Lodge may investigate, then it must determine the validity of the objection; and there being no special rule to the contrary, this determination must be arrived at in the usual way in which all - questions, not otherwise specially provided for, are decided; that is, by a majority of the votes of the members present. The Grand Lodge of Michigan in 1857, and the Grand Lodge of Texas in 1858, (After a candidate is elected, if objections be made, it is the duty of the Master to withhold the degree and investigate. A member present when the ballot is taken, and afterwards objects, should state his reasons. — G. M. Texas, 1857) – it resolved, "that at any time before the initiation of a candidate, upon the objection of any member of the Lodge, upon the statement of his reasons for said objection, the Lodge may determine as to whether he shall be initiated or not." The Grand Master of Illinois in 1855 held that, "where objections are made after clear ballot, I think a vote of two-thirds should be required to withhold what the unanimous ballot entitled to;" and this opinion was confirmed by his Grand Lodge at the same session. It asserts the right of the Lodge to investigate the objections and to determine their sufficiency, and differs from the opinion already advanced only in that it requires a vote of two-thirds of the members present to stay the proceedings. On the other hand, the General Grand Chapter in 1857 laid it down as a rule for the government of its own bodies, that " where a candidate was elected, and a member, not present, afterward, and before the degrees were conferred, came in and objected, held, proper to commit, to hear and investigate the objections, and, on report, to require a further and unanimous ballot." This is simply a reconsideration of the ballot (which is not allowable), and the placing of the whole matter at the disposal of a single individual member of the body, however frivolous and unsubstantial his objections may be considered by the committee appointed' to investigate them, or by the Chapter itself. It is difficult therefore to perceive why any such committee should be appointed, or investigation made, since the report of the committee may be set aside by the negative ballot of the objecting member. It seems to ns that there is little judicial wisdom, and almost an entire want of self-respect, in a proceeding of this kind. It was proper that the objection should have been referred to a committee ; but their report was the only subject before the body for action. The objecting member, by his absence, had forfeited, in this particular case, the privilege and protection of the law of the secret ballot, and he stood before the body as a protestant, not as a dictator, — not as one authorized to say whether the body should turn its back upon itself, or proceed with the work, as his individual will or prejudices may induce him to decide. Our opinion on the whole question therefore is, that all such objections should be committed, and that the action of the body should be on the report of the committee. If the report sustains the objection, it necessarily stays the proceedings, and should be entered upon the record. If it fail to do this, the initiation should proceed. There being no regulation of the Grand Lodge on the subject, it is competent for a Lodge to determine by a provision in its by-laws whether a majority or a larger number of votes shall be required in cases of this description. In the absence of such a rule, a majority governs.

II. The discussion of this question is somewhat embarrassed by the circumstance that under the jurisdiction of some of the Grand Lodges in this country a separate ballot is taken on each degree, and that where this practice obtains, a candidate may be stopped in his advancement by an individual vote. We think the practice an injudicious one, because it is unnecessary for the protection of the Lodge, and is liable to be improperly used to the prejudice of the candidate. We think also that it is founded in a misapprehension of an old and commendable practice that was formerly in use in our best Lodges, and which might be revived at the present time to great advantage. Our predecessors were more particular in the technical fitness of candidates for advancement from one degree to another than we at the present day are accustomed to regard as necessary. It was an established rule with them that a candidate, after he had been initiated, should not only remain on probation the required time, but that he should attain to a certain measure of proficiency in the degree he had already taken, before he should be allowed to advance to a higher one ; and this proficiency he was required to exhibit in open Lodge. He then withdrew from the Lodge, and a vote was taken, usually by show of hands, on the question of proficiency alone. The question of moral fitness was decided on his first admission, and the second vote was taken irrespectively of that consideration. Some of our modern legislators, and writers on Masonic law, misapprehending the original purpose of this second vote, have construed it into a question of character, and thus introduced the practice of passing the ballot-box on each degree. We shall, however, in what we have to say in answer to the inquiry under discussion, assume that the candidate was originally balloted for to receive the three degrees ; and that, unless reasonable cause is shown to the contrary, he is by that vote entitled to them. We assume further, that his initiation made him a Mason, and amenable to the laws of Masonry; that he is entitled to their protection, and is answerable to his Lodge for any breach of them, as fully as though he had attained to the highest degree in the power of the Lodge to confer.

Now, if the foregoing premises be admitted, — and we presume they will not be controverted, — if it be true that by initiation a candidate becomes a Mason, and, as such, entitled according to his degree to the privileges of Masonry and the protection of its laws, then the clear logical deduction from it is, that he cannot lawfully be denied the benefit of any privilege or right so vested in him, except for good and sufficient cause, shown and established according to the forms and usages of Masonic jurisprudence. This is unquestionably the right of every Mason, whatever his rank or degree. In the case we are considering, the candidate may doubtless waive it, the Lodge not objecting; but it cannot lawfully be denied to him if he demand it. The question is not merely whether the candidate shall be advanced to a higher degree, to which he has been duly elected ; — if it were, it would be of much less importance ;—but it is whether he shall be forced to remain, perhaps for tho residue of his life, under the imputation which the refusal attaches to his moral character. And in this connection it is important to a just decision of the case that the proper distinction should be made between a refusal to advance and the rejection of a candidate on his first application. The latter may result from a variety of reasons, neither one of which might necessarily affect the moral character of the petitioner; while, on the other hand, the refusal to advance him to a higher degree, to which he has been elected, is hardly less severe in its consequences than an expulsion They both involve the question of character. It is therefore a matter of vastly more importance to him and his friends than was the question of his original admission into the Lodge. The Grand Lodge of Arkansas in 1852 took the right view of this matter, when it decided that " if the objections to the advancement of the candidate are of that serious nature that would justify suspension or expulsion (It is not easy to understand how a less objection would authorize a refusal to advance a candidate;) it is the duty of the Lodge to prefer charges and try him"; and again, in 1856, the Grand Master decided that "the advancement of the candidate may be arrested at any stage, for good cause." The Grand Lodge of Illinois to the same effect in 1857, "Advancement in the degrees may be stayed at any time, for good reasons, by the Lodge or the Master." But it must first be shown that these "good reasons" exist, and the truth of them must be established, before the candidate can be stayed in his advancement. Any other course would be monstrous injustice; such as would not be shown to the meanest felon at the bar of a criminal tribunal. That the candidate may waive an investigation, or the Lodge insist upon it, there can be no more doubt than there is that the latter must order it if the former demand it. The whole may be subordinate to existing circumstances, and governed by them. If the objections be such that if left unnoticed they would affect the character or discipline of the Lodge, charges should undoubtedly be preferred; but if not of this serious character, it might be judicious and charitable to leave the matter in abeyance and the candidate on probation.

Objection to Visitors

From Vol. XXV, No. 6, p. 169, April, 1866:

If a Mason applies to a Lodge to be admitted as a visitor, and a member of the Lodge objects to his admission, should the W. M. admit the visitor?

He should not.

Should a brother objecting to the admission of a visiting brother state his objection?

Not necessarily, and generally so. It is now good Masonic law that a brother's objection is to be respected without being stated . . . if a man is worthy to be a Mason, he is worthy to be believed, and to have his feelings respected, even though they involve prejudices, bias or small things. And if a Lodge has admitted an unworthy, small, feeble-minded or prejudiced man, it must abide the consequences. A brother's feelings and objections must be respected by his own Lodge, against all outsiders.

Physical Qualifications of Candidates

From Vol. XXV, No. 8, p. 225, June, 1866:

We find the following remarks on this important subject in the annual address of the late Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Alabama: — "Can one who has lost a leg be made a Mason? Can one thus situated, whose loss has been supplied by artificial means, be made a Mason ?" n answer to the first question, I quoted the language of the Constitution as the law, 'that the candidate must be free from such corporeal deformity as would render him incapable of teaching and practising the ritual of the fraternity' ; and that every subordinate Lodge was a jury, whose duty it was to pass upon the fact, whether the candidate could come up to the requisition, litre I rested my decision, declining to interfere in what I conceived to be the proper duty of the subordinate Lodge. At the same time, however, I expressed an opinion adverse to the reception of such candidates, even though the loss of a limb was supplied by artificial means. . . .

"In this, as in almost every other question, it is well to recur to the elementary principles as the starting-point from which we must not depart, and by which we must be guided, if we wish to avoid error. It may be well also to remember, that though we live in a 'progressive age,' yet there is nothing progressive in the character of Masonry. It is the same to-day it was yesterday,— the same it was centuries ago. . . .

"By the loss of a limb, one certainly ceases to be of able body, and capable of practising the ritual of the fraternity. It is possible, nay probable, that one thus situated might be able to comprehend, and perhaps even teach, the ritual; but he could not practise it: and, without ability to do so, such persons remain embraced within the category of those who shall not be accepted as Freemasons.

"The standard, then, of physical qualifications, as I understand it from the ancient landmarks and our own Constitution, is the ability of the candidate to teach and practise the ritual of the Order, in every particular and in its most minute details. It matters not how the candidate may be deprived of that ability. His misfortunes may command our sympathy, but sympathy does not remedy the difficulty."

The late rebellion has given an importance to this subject which it never before possessed. Thousands of our most enterprising and reputable young men have come back from the battle-fields, and are knocking at the doors of our Lodges, — young men whose physical condition would perhaps, under a rigid and exact interpretation of the ancient and original regulation on the subject, disqualify them for admission. But it is not impertinent to inquire whether such a strict construction of the law is demanded by the present condition or the interests of the Institution.

The first regulation on the subject of which we have any knowledge was probably adopted in the early part of the tenth century; and it requires that every candidate for the mysteries of Masonry shall be "freeborn, of mature and discreet age, of good report, of sufficient natural endowments, and the senses of a man, with an estate, office, trade, occupation, or some visible way of acquiring an honest livelihood, and of working in his craft." It further declares, that he "must also be upright in body, not deformed nor dismembered, at the time of making, but of hale and entire limbs."

A similar regulation was adopted at a general assembly of Masons, held at London in 1663, at which time the Earl of St. Albans was elected Grand Master; and Sir Christopher Wren, the architect, Junior Grand Warden. It was in the following words : —

"That no person hereafter shall be accepted a Freemason but such as are of able body, honest parentage, good reputation, and an observer of the laws of the land."

Taking these regulations as they stand, and interpreting them literally, there can be no doubt as to what should be the physical qualifications of a candidate for the honors of Masonry. But they were adopted at a time when the fraternity was almost exclusively an operative association. The admission of the deformed and maimed, who were disqualified for manual labor, was therefore to be guarded against as a practice calculated unnecessarily to burthen the brotherhood, and, as a conscquencerto lessen their ability to afford pecuniary relief to those of their fellows who from sickness, or the occurrence of accidents peculiar to their occupation, might require it. The regulation under such circumstances was wise and salutary. But does the same necessity for it now exist? The Institution has ceased to be operative, and has become a purely speculative or moral and benevolent fraternity ; and it is certainly very clear that it is not at the present day so essential that the candidate should be of " hale and entire limbs," if he be of " good report, of sufficient natural endowments," has "some visible way of acquiring an honest livelihood," and is capable "of working in his craft." We would preserve our ancient laws as a sacred legacy; but does it necessarily follow, that, in order to do this, we must be governed by the letter, without any regard to the spirit of them, or the changes wrought by time in the character and purposes of the Institution? A regulation adopted during the reign of James II. provides, "That no fellowe goe into the town by night, except he have a fellowe with him, who may bear him record that he was in an honest place." All will admit that it would be more than inexpedient to attempt to enforce the letter of this regulation at the present time. It was undoubtedly originally wise and salutary, and demanded by the then condition of the brotherhood. The spirit of it is, that a Mason should walk uprightly in his vocation, avoiding all evil company and licentious habits. A more literal construction would now be an absurdity. Do we not, therefore, perform our whole duty when we regard the spirit of regulations, the letter of which has by necessary and unavoidable circumstances become obsolete, and is not demanded for any. useful purpose?

Let us apply this reasoning to the oldest of the regulations above cited. We have seen that one of the objects proposed by it was to protect the Institution against the embarrassment and injurious effects which must necessarily follow the admission of persons having no visible means of acquiring an honest livelihood, or ability to work in their craft. And here it may be asked, whether the spirit of this regulation is impaired by the admission of a candidate possessing such " visible means," and in all respects capable of "working in his craft," but who is laboring under a physical deformity? We answer, that if the deformity be not such as to disqualify him for receiving the necessary

instructions, and imparting the same to others when required, the true intent of the regulation in our opinion remains unimpaired; and we believe this construction to he sustained and sanctioned by the usages of the fraternity for at least a century past. In the book of "Ancient Constitutions," published in England in 1754, we find a corresponding regulation in the following terms: —

"No Master should take an.apprenticc unless he has sufficient employment for him, and unless he be a perfect youth, having no maim or defect in his body that may render him incapable of learning the art, or of serving his Master's Lord, and of being made a brother, and then a fellow-craft in due time."

This clearly sustains the construction, that where the deformity does not amount to inability to obtain an "honest livelihood," nor render the candidate incapable of receiving the necessary instructions, it does not operate as a bar against his admission to the privileges of the Institution.

The present regulation of the Grand Lodge of England is, "that every candidate must be a free man and his own master, and, at the time of his initiation, be known to be in reputable circumstances. He should be a lover of the liberal arts and sciences, and have made some progress in one or the other of them." Possessing these qualifications, with a good character, and acknowledging the existence of a superintending Providence, nothing more is required of him. But the best rule on the subject that we have met with, and that which most nearly covers the whole ground, is the following from the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of Maine : —

"Sect. 78. By the ancient regulations, the physical deformity of an individual operates as a bar to his admission into the fraternity. But as this regulation was adopted for the government of the craft at a period when they united the character of operative with that of speculative Masons, this Grand Lodge authorizes such a construction of the regulation as that, when the deformity of the candidate is not such as to prevent him from being instructed in the arts or mysteries of Freemasonry, and does not amount to an inability honestly to acquire the means of subsistence, the admission will not be an infringement upon the ancient landmarks, but will be perfectly consistent with the spirit of our Institution."

By a strict attention to the requirements of this rule, our Lodges will find very little difficulty in determining, physically at least, the eligibility of any candidate who presents himself for admission. It is clear that one who is deaf, or blind, or who has lost his right arm, is incnpable of receiving or imparting instruction in the " arts or mysteries " of Freemasonry. But it does not follow that because he has lost a finger, or an eye, or an ear, or that his body is not as straight and well-formed as other men's, that he is incapable of doing so, and shonld therefore be rejected. We have known many good Masons who wero cripples. Walter Scott had a club-foot, yet his brethren were proud of his masonic connection. We have known a Grand Master with an artificial left hand, and many a good and expert brother with an artificial foot; and since these physical defects clearly do not amount to a positive inability to impart or receive instruction, it may well he questioned whether any violence is done to the spirit and intent of the law by the admission of candidates so deformed.

Rejected Candidates

From Vol. XXV, No. 9, p. 257, July, 1866:

Pittsfield, May 15, 1866
C. W. MOORE, Esq.

Dear Sir and Brother, — Allow me to propound a simple question in masonic jurisprudence.

L - petitions B - Lodge, in thetown of A - , in due receive the degrees of F. & A. M's.

His petition is rejected. L- afterwards removes to P-, and a year or two after his residence in P - , makes application to M - Lodge, to receive degrees there. M - Lodge is located in P - . The petition is duly referred; favorable report; M—— Lodge unanimously elect L - to receive the degrees.

Can they legally proceed without the consent of the Master, one Warden, and three members of B - Lodge? {Vide "Pocket Trestle-Board," page 61.) In other words, Is there any masonic statute of limitation? Or does a man forever go under the ban of having been rejected, in this State, so as to be under the necessity of applying, semper et ubique, to the Master, &c., of the Lodge where he was once rejected?

I inquire for the purpose of getting a practical interpretation, especially of the 10th clause on page 61 of "Pocket Trestle-Board." Your views will greatly oblige yours ever, L. H. G.

The section in the " Pocket Trestle-Board " referred to by our correspondent is as follows: —

"A rejected candidate cannot, in Massachusetts, be initiated in any other Lodge, without the recommendation of the Master, one Warden, and three members of the Lodge in which he was rejected. A more general rule is, that he cannot be initiated until after the expiration of six months or a year from the date of rejection. Our own opinion is, that he should be initiated whenever the Lodge which had rejected him can properly receive him; that is, when the cause of the rejection is removed, be the time longer or shorter; and this can be ascertained only by a new proposition, to be received at the discretion of the Master. There is no justice in keeping him a year under the imputation of the rejection, if it can be sooner removed."

It is a rule of universal application in Masonry, that a candidate, having been once rejected, cannot subsequently apply to any other Lodge for admission, the original Lodge having and retaining exclusive masonic jurisdiction over him until it voluntarily relinquishes it, or until it is terminated by some constitutional provision of the Grand Lodge to .which it is subordinate. The object of the rule is to. reader it difficult, if not impossible, for an unworthy applicant, who has been rejected by the Lodge where he is known, to gain admission to the Institution through a Lodge located where he is unknown ; and, being of universal application, it is equally operative and binding on all Lodges throughout the country. There is not, however, we regret to say, that uniformity in the conditions with which a majority of our Grand *Lodges have thought proper to incumber it that is desirable, and which is necessary to render its practical operation complete and effective.

The law, as it exists under the authority of the Grand Lodge of this Commonwealth, is correctly stated in the opening sentence of the paragraph given above from the "Pocket Trestle-Board"; and our correspondent will perceive that it admits of no qualification or limitation. It is clear and positive in its terms; and the only admissible exception to it would be in a case where the rejecting Lodge had ceased to exist. In the happening of such an event, a compliance with its requirements being impossible, the candidate would doubtless be at liberty to apply to any other Lodge within whose jurisdiction he might reside; and such Lodge, with a knowledge of the previous rejection (to be ascer¬ tained in the ordinary way), would also be at liberty to dispose of the application in such manner as its own judgment, with a proper regard for the interests of the Institution, should determine.

The rule may, in exceptional cases, operate with some severity; but, as a general regulation, it is undoubtedly a wise and conservative one. Any law on the subject less stringent in its provisions could scarcely fail to introduce causes of complaint among the Lodges in different parts of the country, and to expose them and the Institution generally to an additional risk of admitting unworthy members. The rule cannot, therefore, be too carefully preserved or rigidly enforced. As we have already said, it is of universal application, and is so regarded by nearly (very Grand Lodge in the country, though in some jurisdictions it exists in a modified form. The Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, for example, forbids the initiation of a rejected candidate in another Lodge until the expiration of one year after his rejection, and then only upon the recommendation of seven members of the original Lodge, if it be in existence, of whom three must be the Master and Wardens. Virginia modifies this rule, and allows the candidate to be initiated in any Lodge after one year from the date of his rejection, without the recommendation. Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana make no exceptions, but require the recommendation of the rejecting Lodge. Illinois demands the unanimous consent, and Michigan the written recommendation, of the Master and Wardens of the rejecting Lodge. Iowa goes one step further, and requires that the rejected candidate shall not only apply to the same Lodge, but that the Lodge shall not act upon the second peti¬ tion, " except all the members be present who acted in the instance of the rejection, unless by special dispensation of the Grand Master." And Ohio requires that its Lodges shall "satisfy themselves, by a test or otherwise," that the candidate has not previously been rejected in some other Lodge. We need not multiply these authorities. Enough have been cited to show the general prevalence of the rule, and the importance that is everywhere attached to it.

The fact that, as in the case presented by our correspondent, the candidate does not now reside in the State where the Lodge which rejected him is located, does not change the force of the rule, or impair its universality, though it may justify a constructive modification of its terms. For example, by the law as it exists in Massachusetts, a candidate who has been rejected by one Lodge cannot be received by another in this jurisdiction, without the consent and recommendation of the Master, one Warden, and three members of the first Lodge; but this rule has been so construed in practice, as that, when the rejected candidate comes from a foreign jurisdiction, and has acquired a legal residence in this State, the consent alone of the foreign Lodge has been deemed to be sufficient. This construction rests on the presumption that such consent would not be given in a case where substantial and positive objections are known to exist. The propriety of it is further justified by the circumstance that cases frequently arise where the candidate,, having removed from his former residence, allows a period of one, two, or more years to elapse before he renews his application to the Lodge in his present place of abode. In such cases, the presumption is, that the responsible officers of the rejecting Lodge may have been changed, and that their successors know little more of the candidate than what appears of record; and are not, therefore, qualified to recommend him to a sister Lodge as worthy of its confidence and acceptance. All that can reasonably be asked under such circumstances, is, that the original Lodge will relinquish its jurisdiction in the case. And this will seldom be withheld, unless for such substantial reasons as should forever exclude the petitioner from the privileges of the Order. This course throws the responsibility of his admission upon the second Lodge, within whose jurisdiction he resides, and where it properly belongs.

As a final answer to the inquiries of our correspondent, we beg to say: 1. That the rule, as it exists in Massachusetts (the rejecting Lodge, and that to which the second application is made, being both located in the jurisdiction), admits of no change or limitation. 2. That the candidate having been rejected by a Lodge under a foreign jurisdiction, the content alone of that Lodge is sufficient to authorize the second Lodge to entertain his petition.

And we may be allowed to suggest, in conclusion, that if this last rule were adopted as the uniform rule throughout the country, it would afford all the protection of which the case admits, and secure greater efficiency and unity in practice.

From Vol. XXV, No. 11, p. 321, September, 1866:

Pittsfield, May 15, 1866
C. W. MOORE, Esq.

Dear Sir and Brother,— Your article in the July number of the "Freemasons' Magazine," on "Rejected Candidates," I hare perused with much interest and satisfaction. I was interested, especially, because until quite recently the question, as presented in that article, had never occurred in our Lodge jurisdiction, and therefore I had never had occasion to make a practical application of this universal rule of Masonry. It was a matter of uterest that this rule is so generally adopted, and is so uniform in its application, th'oughout the United States. It was a source of satisfaction that all the points were so fully and completely answered, and that according to universally conceded authority.

Checks and hindrances to the advancement of objectionable and unworthy applicants for the degrees of Masonry deserve, and will receive, the hearty support of every intelligent lover of the institution. Long experience may have demonstrated the wisdom of the rule adopted; it may be wise so far as residents of a State are concerned. But if a rule were to be established, should we not reach the object aimed at as well and with much less friction, by leaving the whole question to be settled by the Lodge where the applicant for the time resides, if there is but one, as by the present mode?

In civil society the reputation and character of a man depends chiefly upon his standing in the community with which he lives, mingles, and constantly holds intercourse. A good reputation in any community for a aeries of years, outweighs and almost obliterates any former bad reputation acquired in another community. This is right. It is the price which society offers as the reward for virtue and reform. (1)

There is reason in the rule, if an application made to a Lodge in a place where there is more than one, that the Lodge to which the application is made should have exclusive jurisdiction of the applicant so long as he continues to reside in that community, to the exclusion of any other Lodge. But if the applicant remove to and makes his residence in another town where there is a Lodge, and becomes known and establishes a character there, what reason Is there to say that the Lodge which first received and rejected his petition shall continue to have exclusive jurisdiction in the case 1 As a rule to be established, would it not be better for the Institution every way, that each Lodge should have exclusive jurisdiction, when but one, of all persons residing within its territorial limits ; or, in other words, is not the better rule to be adopted substantially the Virginia rule? (2)

Suppose a case. A man under one jurisdiction makes application to a Lodge for the degrees; he is rejected for good cause; he continues to reside for several years in the same place, and to grow worse and worse, till he becomes notorious in the community as a reckless and abandoned character. He moves to a distant State, changing his whole course of life; lives there for a long time, and establishes there a character for integrity, virtue, Honor, and Christian manhood. He applies, at the place of his new residence, to a Lodge for the degrees, and states that he has before applied. The Lodge then must, by the general rule, apply to our Lodge to release its jurisdiction. If our Lodge acts intelligently and faithfully, it must rely either upon the blackened character the applicant sustained while a resident here, or upon information obtained from the place of his new residence. If upon the former, must it not refuse, and is it not bound in good faith and masonic honesty to refuse to yield jurisdiction, that he may be made a Mason in the place of his adoption? If upon the latter, is it not clear that the Lodge at the place of his new residence is, and can be, altogether better informed as to his present character and standing than the Lodge where he first made application? If our reasoning thus far is correct, what possible advantage can it be to the institution of Masonry, or what safeguard or security against the unworthy, to go through with the farce of sending from a distant State the needed information which would warrant or justify the Lodge under our jurisdiction in yielding its control over the applicant? (3)

For in all proper cases I understand that it is regarded as a matter of masonic courtesy to consent to the applicant's receiving the degree in the Lodge located in the vicinity of his new residence; in other words, as a matter of course to yield jurisdiction.

The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has masonic jurisdiction, exclusive and complete, over all applicants for the degrees within its territorial limits; but if the rejected applicant removes beyond the boundaries of the State, it no longer retains any jurisdiction or control over him. If he does not violate any rule of the Grand Body where he resides, he may, without the consent of our Grand Lodge, lawfully become a Mason there, and by comity claim recognition here as such. (4)

Would it not be wise to fix a limitation beyond which a rejected applicant could lawfully apply to any Lodge where he resides for the degrees? Would it not be more practical, easier of application, attended with less friction, and less liable to fraud than the present rule?

I write not in a spirit of controversy, or for the purpose of suggesting a doubt as to the true interpretation of the rule given in the article alluded to, as generally held by the masonic fraternity, but to call attention to a subject of constant occurrence in our Lodges, and one attended with more or less of practical difficulty. The object aimed at by all true Masons is the same, — not to exclude the meritorious and the worthy from a participation in our privileges, but to render it difficult for the ignoble and the unworthy to gain admission within the sacred precincts of our Lodges. I have thus hinted at some of the reasons which, as it seems to me, require a modification of the rule adopted in this State as to " rejected candidates." If you deem the foregoing suggestions worthy of the consideration of the fraternity, you are at liberty to make such use of them as you please.

Yours truly, L. H. G.

1. This is true as a general rule; but like all general rules it has its exceptions; and it is against these that we are to provide, so far at least as we can do it consistently with justice and Christian charity. We would not doom a fellow-man to everlasting ignominy, and cast him forever out of the pale of humanity, becanse he may have at some period of his life committed a great wrong; but it by no means, therefore, follows that we must take him into the bosom of our family, and share with him the intimacy and confidence of our domestic relations. We are bound, in Christian charity, to treat him kindly and respectfully, and to do whatever is in our power to encourage him in his endeavors to re-establish his lost reputation among his fellow-men ; and this as a "reward for virtue and reform." But when we go beyond this, and extend to the offender that entire love and confidence which belong only to the good and virtuous, and which is the legitimate and priceless fruit of a whole life of truth and fidelity, do we not rob crime of its greatest terror, and lower the standard and reward of consistent virtue?

To illustrate. Suppose an individual had been convicted of manslaughter, burglary, highway robbery, or any other great crime, the penalty for which he had paid by service in the State, penitentiary; been discharged and established himself in business; applied for admission to the Lodge in the place of his residence; been rejected, and removed to a distant part of the State, where he had acquired the reputation of a respectable, industrious, and honest man ; — would our correspondent, with this information before him, esteem such a person an eligible or desirable candidate for Masonry? Could he so far overcome the natural distrust, or, if you please, the prejudices of the heart, as to be able to take him cordially by the hand as a brother, and extend to him freely and without reserve the fraternal love and confidence which are taught and inculcated by the lessons of Masonry, and which are due from one Mason to another? If he could not do this freely and cordially, then could he conscientiously recommend and vote for the admission of such a candidate, who by the civil laws of this Commonwealth is denied the rights and equality of citizenship?

Take another case. In this age of strange fancies and new inventions, the marital laws are not always so strictly observed as they ought to be: some men are miscellaneous in their tastes, and, we regret to add, they meet with little difficulty in finding "affinities" who are but too willing to gratify them. Men of this description are to be found in many, if not most of our large communities: and so quietly is this iniquity carried on, that it rarely affects the reputation of the party in the business walks of life. Nor do the parties themselves seem to entertain any suspicion that there is any moral wrong in it: they are but following their destiny under the lead of spiritual guides! A man of this description is rejected by the Lodge to which the facts are known; removes to a distant town or State; acquires by his regular habits a reputable position as a citizen ; renews his application, and is received. The admission of an unworthy member is the consequence, — a result that would have been avoided had the second Lodge been under the necessity of obtaining the consent and recommendation of the first Lodge. It is true that the candidate might have gained admission to the Lodge in his new place of residence had he not previously applied and been rejected, and the result would have been the same; but the rejection having taken place afforded a protection to the Lodge, and so increased the difficulties to be overcome by the applicant that his admission would have been rendered nearly impossible.

To meet this latter difficulty, several of our own Grand Lodges have incorporated into their Constitutions a provision that a person coming from a distant State shall not be received until he has resided an entire year in his new place of abode; and our German brethren have improved upon and strengthened the efficiency of this rule, by requiring that no candidate from a foreign State shall be received until inquiry has been made of some well-known and responsible brother in the place of his former residence. The rule, thus amended, might perhaps answer all the purposes required, and would, we think, meet the views of our correspondent. Our own preference, however, where a rejection has taken place, is in favor of the rule requiring the content of the rejecting Lodge. We think favorably of the German rule as applied to the first application of new residents, except in cases where the candidate has lived in his new home long enough to acquire, or, more correctly speaking, to develop the reputation he has previously formed and established. A man's character is the Result of long training, not the work of a year.

2. The Virginia rule here referred to allows the candidate to be initiated in any Lodge in the place of his residence, after the expiration of one year from the date of his rejection. Our objection to this role is its injustice. It hangs the candidate up on the tenter-hooks for one full year, without the possibility of relief, though he may be entirely innocent of any just cause for so severe a punishment. In its application to other than the rejecting Lodge it may not be particularly objectionable ; but the Lodge rejecting him should be left at liberty to correct its own error, if it should subsequently appear that it has committed one, and in the shortest possible time. Candidates are frequently rejected through a misapprehension of the facts, or for insufficient cause. In such cases, the parties casting the negative ballot having become satisfied with the candidate, the Lodge should be allowed to entertain a new application at its earliest convenience. We have discussed this point so often in our pages that we need not enlarge upon it. 3. Our correspondent here logically and forcibly demonstrates the impolicy if not absurdity of requiring of the foreign Lodge anything more than a consent to the initiation of the candidate by the second Lodge. This conforms to the usual practice in this jurisdiction. The asking the consent is simply another form of inquiry as to the character of the, candidate while a resident of his former place of abode, and throws the whole responsibility of his admission on the second Lodge, where it properly belongs. But we think he overstrains the argument in assuming that the Lodge which rejected him must rely either on his " blackened character " while a resident in its jurisdiction, or on information to be obtained from his present place of abode. The former wears the aspect of an assumption, and the latter would be unnecessary, if not positively farcical. All that could reasonably be expected or required of the distant Lodge would be a distinct statement of the fact, if such it were, that while the candidate was a resident within its jurisdiction, he was "notorious in the community as a reckless and abandoned character "; or, if known, that he was rejected for some more specific and perhaps higher moral offence, such, for instance, as those referred to in the first of these notes. With this information it could safely leave the whole matter to the discretion and decision of the second Lodge. If, on the contrary, the cause of the rejection was not known, and the petitioner maintained a fair reputation in the community, which is as often the case as otherwise, the latter Lodge would have the benefit of that fact, and the candidate would stand stronger and firmer in its confidence.

4. Our correspondent, we think, here misconceives the practical force of the rule governing the admission of candidates who have previously been rejected. It is a general reciprocal regulation, voluntarily adopted by the Grand Lodges for their mutual protection. The operation of it is to prevent the initiation by a Lodge in another State, of a candidate who has been rejected by a Lodge in Massachusetts, without first obtaining the consent of the latter Lodge, as explained in our previous (July) article on this subject. The Grand Lodge, therefore (acting through its subordinate), does, by virtue of the reciprocity above referred to, retain its jurisdiction over the candidate after he " removes beyond the boundaries of the State." The Grand Lodge does not, of course, by legal enactment or otherwise, assume to control the action of the Grand Lodge of any other State, for this would be presumptuous ; but it does govern and limit its own action with reference to candidates coming from other jurisdictions; and this is met, on their part, by mutual agreement and corresponding action. The principle is embodied in a constitutional provision of our own Grand Lodge in the following terms: " Nor shall any candidate be received from any other State (he being a resident thereof) where a regular Lodge is established, without the written permission of the Grand Master of such State." In this case the lawful jurisdiction of the foreign Grand Lodge, ex necessitate rei, follows the candidate, and restrains the action of the Grand Lodge within whose boundaries he may chance to be. There is no ancient law of Masonry, of universal application, which demands or authorizes this restriction; but it is a reciprocal regulation or agreement of the Grand Lodges of this country, entered into for their mutual safety. The principle is that which governs the admission of rejected candidates.

We fully appreciate the force of the objections stated by oar correspondent, and the embarrassments to which they may occasionally give rise; but the great difficulty lies in framing a general rule that shall meet the precise conditions of every particular case. Such rules are almost certain to fail in practical operation from their own inherent weakness.

Forfeiture of Membership

From Vol. XXV, No. 9, p. 279, July, 1866:

"The right of a lodge, by a provision in its by-laws, to prevent a member from voting for officers, who is a certain number of months in arrears for dues, admits of no dispute. One of the undoubted rites of a subordinate Lodge is to exact the payment of dues from its members, and to fix a penalty, other than censure, suspension, or expulsion, for non-compliance. Every member of a Lodge, at the time of his admission to membership, enters into a voluntary written contract with the Lodge, that he will observe and support the by-laws. The nature of this contract is, that the member is to enjoy all the rights and privileges of the Lodge on condition that, among other things, he will pay a certain amount of dues, annually, in instalments due at certain specified times; and the penalty is, that if he neglect or refuse the required payments, he shall be deprived of certain named privileges. The contract is equally binding on both parties, and neither can violate it without incurring the penalty. If a Lodge should refuse the rights and privileges to a brother who has promptly fulfilled his duties, the Grand Master would compel it to stand up to its bargain, and by a parity of reasoning, the Lodge compels the member to stick to his. If he will not pay he cannot vote, that's all. Much stress is laid by the opponents of this doctrine on the constitutional provision that every member in good standing is entitled to one vote, but it is respectfully submitted that a member who tails to comply with the conditions of good standing is not entitled to its immunities." —Simons.

The general principle of membership as stated in the above is correct, but the argument is calculated to mislead and induce erroneous action. There is no question that if a member fails to fulfil his contract under the by-laws he incurs the stipulated penalty; but the fact of failure must be proved and established before it can be lawfully exacted; and this must also be done in accordance with masonic usage, that is, by previous notice and investigation. It will not do, while an election is pending, for one member of the Lodge to object to another's voting because he may chance to be a few months in arrears for his dues. Such a practice if allowed would lead to great abuses and oppression. It must first be shown that the secretary has officially demanded the dues, and that the delinquent has wilfully neglected or refused to discharge them. The Lodge can then inflict the proper penalty, not before.

Criminal Jurisprudence

From Vol. XXV, No. 10, p. 289, August, 1866:


  1. Would it be legal to receive the testimony of a Mason's wife against her husband?
  2. Has a Lodge power to compel a Mason to appear as a witness for or against a brother?
  3. Should witnesses (not Masons) be examined by committee or by the Lodge present?
  4. Would it be legal for a woman to testify against her former husband — divorce having been granted ?
  5. Would it be illegal for the officers of a Lodge to vote last?
  6. Should the plaintiff be allowed counsel as well as defendant?
  7. Does it require a two-thirds vote to expel a brother from Masonry?


1. This would depend much upon the nature of the complaint and by whom preferred. If brought by a third party for an offence recognizable at common law, the wife should not be admitted as a witness against her hus band. Marital secrets are confidential and privileged communications, and can be used neither lawfully nor rightfully by the wife against her husband, nor by the husband against the wife, with some few exceptions provided for by special statutes, or where the personal rights of the parties alone are involved. Were the opposite rule to obtain, confidence between husband and wife would be materially impaired, if not wholly destroyed; the former would be placed in a condition where he could be compelled, by process of law, at the sacrifice of his own happiness, to criminate his wife and ruin his family. Such a rule would make marriage a dangerous rather than a happy and desira ble relation. It would not, therefore, be either legal or masonically proper for the Lodge to admit the testimony of the wife against her husband in any case recognizable by the civil law, or where the evidence would involve a violation of marital confidence, nor where a third party is interested in the conviction of the accused. Cases, however, may and do frequently arise in masonic as well as in civil matters, where the admission of the testimony of the wife against the husband is not only lawful but eminently right and proper. As for instance, where the wife is the aggrieved party, and the object of the complaint is the restraining or the reformation of the husband. In such a case, in masonic proceedings, the testimony, or, more correctly speaking, the statements of the wife are clearly admissible. Family difficulties, however, should be kept out of the Lodge, except in very extreme cases; and then they should not be entertained until the proper officers have failed to effect a reconciliation, or reformation, as the fact may be. In all domestic disputes there is usually more or less that is reprehensible on both sides.

There is no power in the Lodge to compel a wife to testify against her husband; and, in most cases when she volunteers to do so, the offence is found to be of so aggravated a character, and the parties so much under the influence of passion, that masonic discipline usually proves ineffectual. Such cases may be more successfully treated by friendly counsel and fraternal admonition. Where these fail, and the delinquent persists in his evil way, the duty of the Lodge is to cut him off; not more as a just punishment of an unworthy mem ber than for its own protection. In doing this it will rarely be under the necessity of subjecting the wife to the mortification of testifying against her husband. Other evidence will usually be available.

2. A Lodge certainly does possess "the power to compel a Mason to appear as a witness against a brother" in any case of masonic trial and discipline, whether had before his own Lodge or another. Masonic trials cannot lawfully proceed unless all the members of the Lodge have been duly sum moned to appear; and every member or brother on whom such a summons is served is under the highest obligations to obey it; the penalty for refusing or wilfully neglecting to do so is expulsion. Being present he is bound to answer such questions as may properly be put to him. The obligation to obey the summons carries with it the correlative obligation to fulfil the purpose of it.

3. Witnesses who are not Masons should be examined by a committee of the Lodge, the plaintiff and defendant being present, either in person or by counsel, or both. The examination usually takes place in the ante-room. The questions and answers should be in writing, signed by the witnesses, and submitted to the Lodge in that form.

4. A divorced wife would be a competent witness against her former husband in the common-law courts, in all transactions subsequent to the divorce; and, with this limitation, we can see no reason why her testimony should be rejected in a masonic trial. We can, however, understand why her evidence should be received with much caution, and carefully weighed with the collateral testimony and the probabilities of the case.

5. The constitutional rule in Massachusetts requires that the members shall vote according to seniority; that is, according to the date of membership, beginning with the youngest. No distinction is made or allowable be tween the officers and private members. All stand upon an equality in this respect. The object of the rule is as far as possible to secure an impartial and unbiassed judgment, and that the younger brethren may not be influenced by the votes of their seniors.

6. Both parties may employ counsel if they think proper.

7. There being no regulation in the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge, nor in the by-laws of the private Lodge to the contrary, a majority vote deter mines all questions that can arise in the proceedings of the latter. A two-thirds vote is not, therefore, in this jurisdiction, necessary for expulsion.


From Vol. XXV, No. 11, p. 328, September, 1866:

A correspondent makes the following inquiries: —

  1. Can a physician, or any one else of the same profession or business of the candidate, lawfully and masonically cast a black ball against him, for no other reason than that he pursues his profession or conducts his business on a different principle or theory from that which the objecting member holds and believes to be most consistent with the laws of science and the legitimate rules of practice?
  2. If the objector publicly and voluntarily avows the grounds of his objection to be as above indicated, and that in all other respects the candidate is acceptable to him, can the Lodge interfere?

The right of ballot is the highest prerogative of membership. It is the great autocratic power of Masonry; and the exercise of' it is wisely restricted to the actual members of the Lodges ; to those to whom is especially intrusted the management, the interests, and the welfare of the institution. Without the unanimous consent of its members, no candidate for Masonry can enter the Lodge-room. Each individual member is personally the arbiter on every petition presented for the consideration of the Lodge. And though he cannot so far control the votes of his brethren as to say who shall be admitted, he is invested with plenary power to determine who shall not be allowed that privilege. With the free and untrammelled exercise of this power there can be no interference, so long as the member keeps within the limits of the laws by which it is governed. Within this restriction he is responsible for his vote to his own conscience and sense of duty alone. The arbitrariness of the power and the unlimited confidence it reposes should be the best safeguards against the abuse of it. Experience, however, shows that these are not always sufficient for the purpose, and that occasions do too frequently arise where the reins are given to the passions, where duties and obligations are forgotten, and where this great conservative right is perverted into an instrument for the gratification of prejudice or revenge. And there is nothing strange or remarkable in this fact. Human nature has its dark as well as its bright side, and both will manifest themselves according to the training and discipline of the individual or the inherent qualities of the heart. The province of Masonry is to encourage the good; and this implies the correlative power and duty to discourage and reform the bad. Every brother is entitled to the fullest protection in the lawful and proper exercise of all his rights and privileges as a Mason ; but he is in turn under the highest obligations to use his privileges in accordance with the laws, and for the benefit of Masonry. If be maliciously or wilfully abuses them, and employs them for selfish and improper purposes, he renders himself amenable to his Lodge, and may be dealt with as an offender.

The case above presented by our correspondent does not ostensibly fall within the limits of this rule. There does not appear to have been any malice or vicious intention on the part of the dissenting member. That he mistook the line of his duty, there can probably be no doubt. It is conceded that the moral character of the petitioner is unimpeachable, and that the only objection urged against him was, that his professional practice is not in accordance with the general laws of medical science. Nor is it charged that he practises his profession in a disreputable manner, or uses it for unlawful purposes; but the offence, if it be one, seems to lie wholly in the fact that he does not think it his duty to prescribe for his patients after the set formulas of an older and more popular school. We do not favor empiricism in any of its forms; but there can be no question that the objection here urged, if it be not a frivolous one, is, masonically speaking, wholly insufficient to authorize the rejection of the candidate; as much so as would be a difference of opinion in politics or religion.

We can readily understand that the profession or business of an applicant may be of such a disreputable character as to render hia admission to the Lodge not only highly improper but dangerous to its best interests. Such would be true of one following any unlawful business, the nature of which was calculated to degrade his standing in the community, and to render him unfit to become a member of a moral association. But where the profession or business of the petitioner is held by a respectable class of the community to be a reputable one, such as an honest man may follow without prejudice to his own character or that of the community in which he lives, the mere fact whether he adopts an old or a new theory in his practice most certaiqjy does not authorize any member of a Lodge to vote against his petition. In the case presented, the objector having made the grounds of his objection known, the validity of it became a proper subject for the decision of the Lodge; and to this decision the dissenting member could assent, without any compromise of his lawful rights. He invited it by voluntarily disclosing his reason for casting the black ball: or, in other words, by voluntarily waiving the protection of the law of the secret ballot, he threw the whole question of the propriety of his vote before the Lodge; and he was bound, in good faith, to accept its decision. The objection to the candidate being one wholly of opinion and not of character, a refusal to do so might not unreasonably be construed to evince a turbulent and prejudiced spirit, not consistent with his duties and obligations as a member, and which if persisted in would endanger the harmony and prosperity of the Lodge. Against the consequences of such a spirit, every Lodge has ample power to protect itself. No such spirit, however, was manifested or entertained in the present case. It was simply a matter of opinion, and, we understand, has been adjusted by the admission of the candidate, he having since his rejection been regularly matriculated in his profession.

Masonic Burials

From Vol. XXVI, No. 2, p. 49, December, 1866:

A Master Mason's Lodge has the superior right to bury its deceased members, — a right which should never be relinquished, unless by request of the deceased, to any other masonic organization. Any interference with that right, by any Chapter or Commandery, is a departure from ancient usage, an infringement of the landmarks, and an unjustifiable usurpation. The Master Mason's degree is the governing degree in Masonry, and every Mason should guard it ceaselessly, as he would the honor of his family.

Members in Arrears

From Vol. XXVI, No. 2, p. 49, December, 1866:

A. is several years in arrears for dues; the usual steps are taken, and summons issued requiring him to show cause why he should not be expelled for disobeying summons, which is also returned served, and which is not obeyed.

The proper course is to prefer charges for disobeying summons and for contempt. The greater includes the less. If conviction and expulsion follow, of course the Lodge will never recommend the brother for restoration until he is penitent, nor until he has paid his dues. So, if indefinite suspension should follow, the Lodge would require penitence and payment before restoring.

Responsibility For Lodge Records

From Vol. XXVI, No. 2, p. 50, December, 1866:

The Master controls and is responsible for the record. If the Secretary fails or neglects to attend to his duty in a proper manner, the Master may remove him for reasons to be stated of record, and appoint another. The remedy for any injustice or illegal proceeding in such cases is by appeal to the Grand Lodge. Private consideration must yield to public necessity.

Factious Balloting

From Vol. XXVI, No. 2, p. 50, December, 1866:

If a brother says that no more persons shall be initiated in the Lodge of which he is a member, he is guilty of a grave masonic offence, and if circumstances subsequently warrant the belief that he said so with a settled purpose of enforcing his remarks, he should be unanimously expelled.

Lodge Jurisdiction Over Offenses

From Vol. XXVI, No. 2, p. 50, December, 1866:

Master Masons' Lodges have original jurisdiction over all offences of an immoral or unmasonic character, committed within their respective jurisdictions, subject to appeal; and an expulsion or suspension by a Master Mason's Lodge is an expulsion or suspension from a Chapter, Council, or Commandery. We desire most urgently to impress upon our readers this fact, that the third degree is the governing degree in Masonry. The only exception to the above is that of Master or Grand Master.


Voting and Blank Ballots

From Vol. XXVI, No. 5, Page 129, March 1867:

Nevada City, Colorado, Jan. 13, 1867.
C. W. MOORE, Esq., Gr. Sec. Grand Lodge A. F. and A. M., Massachusetts.

Dear Sir and Brother, — Knowing you to be an eminent masonic jurist, I hereby take this method and liberty of asking your opinion on the following question : —

In the election of officers, does a blank vote count? For instance, A has ten votes, B has five, C has four, and Blank has one, is there an election? Please answer, and you will confer a great favor.

Fraternally yours,
A. M. JONES, W.M. Nevada Lodge, No. 4.

As the right of voting in the election of the officers and in the transaction of the ordinary business of the Lodge is perhaps of more importance to the members individually, and hardly less so to the interests and welfare of the institution generally, than the right of ballot on the admission of candidates, it becomes a matter of the highest consequence that the nature and extent of the privilege, and the laws which govern it, should be correctly understood by all parties interested.

There are five methods of voting most commonly practised in this country, to wit: the ballot or ball, the ticket, show of hands, viva voce, and the yeas and nays, the two latter differing only in form. The first three are used in Masonic proceedings, and are alone sanctioned by ancient masonic custom. The last two are common to legislative and other political bodies, but are rarely, if ever, practised in our Lodges.

The word ballot (from the French ballotte, a little ball,) is a general expression for private voting, either by a ball or ticket, though m masonic proceedings a distinction is made, as in balloting for members, least in the election of Grand Master, is still continued in the Grand Lodge of England, as it is in the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Re-elections of Grand Masters in some of the Grand Lodges in this country are occasionally conducted in the same manner. Such cases are, however, exceptions to the general rule.

The third and last method is by written ballot or ticket, used in the election of officers. And this brings us more immediately to the inquiry of our correspondent, namely, Is a blank vote to be counted.

A vote, whether in masonic or civil matters, is the expression of the will or preference of the voter; which expression must be given in some intelligible, form, either by words, figures, or signs, agreed upon and understood by all the parties interested in the subject of the vote. A blank piece of paper, thrown into the ballot-box, contains no such expression of the will, desire, or preference of the voter; and is, therefore, wanting in the element necessary to change its normal condition, and impart to it the force and expression which belong to a vote. It is neither positive nor negative in its character; it expresses nothing; it indicates nothing; it is nothing, except a voiceless piece of paper. It holds the relation to the other tickets or votes in the box that a member who declines or is excused by the body from voting holds to his associate members. Both, as respects the matter in hand, are passive, and presumed to be absent. It is especially provided by the Statute Laws of this Commonwealth, that "blank pieces of paper shall not be counted as ballots."

There is another point in this connection which it may be profitable to notice. By the general Parliamentary Law, a vote given for an ineligible candidate is void, and, therefore, rejected in the count. There are, however, exceptions to this rule; but it is undoubtedly correct, and has been frequently so decided by the Legislature of this Commonwealth. The policy of the law requires that such a construction should be put upon all proceedings at elections as to make them valid, rather than nugatory. " If votes cast by mistake, for persons not eligible, are to be counted, then the intention and will of the voter is defeated ; if, on the other hand, such votes are willfully put into the ballot-box, the person who thus votes indicates so clearly his disregard of the value of the elective franchise that it is only a deserved punishment for his delinquency to deprive his vote of all weight and influence at such election." And this, we think, may be accepted as the best Parliamentary practice, and as in best accordance with common sense. A member is not bound by any nomination made for him by other parties; he may select a candidate to suit himself; but the person so selected must be eligible to the office for which he is thus put in nomination, and his name must be borne upon the ticket, or the committee will be required to reject it in the count, as wanting in the requisite element of a vote. The office for which the person is offered as a candidate should also be stated on the ballot; and this is done in all civil elections ; but iu masonic practice, where but one officer is to be voted for at the same time, it is frequently omitted. It is, however, neither a safe nor correct practice ; the name and office should both be borne upon the ballot. Where, as is frequently the case, more than one officer is voted for at the same time, and for which separate boxes are provided, a vote is accidentally put in the wrong box (if distinctly marked with the name and office as here indicated), it should, in our judgment, be counted for the candidate whose name it bears, because the intention of the voter is manifest, and the depositing of the ballot in the wrong box an evident mistake.

Our answer to the particular inquiry of our correspondent is, that the blank vote should have been rejected, and that A was elected Master of the Lodge, he having received a majority of the whole number of votes cast.

Suspensions and Expulsions

From Vol. XXVI, No. 5, Page 148, March 1867:

An expulsion or suspension by a Commandery does not affect the standing of the party in a Council, Chapter or Lodge; the same by a Council does not affect standing in a Chapter or Lodge, and the same by a Chapter does not affect standing in a Lodge. An expulsion or suspension by a Lodge is an expulsion or suspension in all other orders in Masonry; the same is true in Orders above a Chapter or Council.


From Vol. XXVI, No. 7, Page 191, May 1867:

Castilian Lodge, No. 130,
Durant, Holmes County, Miss., Feb. 20, 1867.

Dear Brother Moore, — The object of this communication is to have your opinion as to the relation a suspended brother Mason holds towards the Lodge from which he was suspended; or, in other words, Are we, as Masons, under the same obligation to him and to his family as we were prior to his suspension? An immediate reply to this through your journal, or by letter, to my address will be thankfully received.

Very respectfully yours, &c, J. Jeff Cooper.

There are three forms of suspension, as a rule of Masonic discipline, which, to some extent, are practised in this country. Two of them may, perhaps, with propriety, be said to be peculiar to it. The first is suspension for non-payment of dues, and may be imposed by vote of the Lodge, without any formal trial of the delinquent, — he having been previously notified of his indebtedness by the Secretary or other proper officer of the Lodge, and of the time when his delinquency will be submitted for final action, and when he can appear and show cause why the penalty in such cases should not be inflicted. The effect of such a suspension is to deprive the delinquent of all his privileges as a member of the Lodge. During its continuance, he cannot attend its meetings, either as a member or visitor, and his claims upon its charities are held in abeyance. He is a quasi member, without any of the privileges or benefits of membership. The suspension does not, however, debar him from visiting other Lodges, or seeking masonic relief through other channels. All his masonic privileges outside of and beyond his own Lodge remain intact.

Suspensions of this kind usually, and if there be no special reason to the contrary, should terminate with the payment of the indebtedness; not as a matter of course, however, nor without any further action of the Lodge, as some of our writers on masonic law maintain. We do not admit that a member may stultify the by-laws of his Lodge, and renew his privileges under them, at bis pleasure. Such a trifling with the rules of the Lodge, and his obligations as a member, cannot be allowed consistently with the dignity and authority of the Lodge. If inability was the primary cause of the delinquency, the member was afforded an opportunity to enter that plea as his justification, and it would have been readily allowed; but failing to offer it, the legal presumption is that it arose from some other cause. On this presumption the Lodge, by vote, suspended him; and that suspension can be removed only by the power that enacted it. We do not, therefore, agree with those writers on masonic jurisprudence who think that the payment of the indebtedness alone removes the suspension. It is only preliminary to the subsequent action of the Lodge ; which action should be either a full restoration or an absolute discharge, honorable or otherwise, according to the facts in the case. The terms of the dimit, if the delinquent be not restored, should indicate the reason, for the information of any other Lodge to which he may apply for membership. It may be answered, that, in case the member is not worthy to receive an honorable discharge, he should be tried on charges; but this does not necessarily follow. A brother may be a very factious and troublesome member of a Lodge, or he may possess so negative a character as to unfit him for the more intimate and confidential relations of membership, without being so positively objectionable as to call for his expulsion from the Order. An honorable discharge from membership is to be received as a testimonial of the worthiness of the brother to whom it is given; and, while it should not be withheld where it is properly due, it should never be unworthily granted.

The second form in the order of our arrangement is definite suspension, and this, we believe, is nowhere known in Masonic practice beyond the limits of our own country. It is one of those modern innovations which inexperience, and ambition to improve on the wisdom of its founders, have succeeded, to some extent, in fastening upon the legislation and practices of our institution. We are happy to know, however, that, although it is at the present time recognized in some of our Grand Lodge jurisdictions, it is neither so favorably regarded nor extensively used as in years past. Many of our most conservative Grand Lodges have discarded it altogether — the opinions of certain writers on masonic law to the contrary notwithstanding. We have no sympathy with the rule or its advocates.

We have no sympathy with any law in Masonry that enables an unworthy member to walk straight out of the penitentiary into the Lodge-room. Definite suspension," as defined by its advocates, does this. The brother so suspended has but to wait the expiration of the specified time of his suspension, when, whatever his conduct may have been during the interval, he may return to his Lodge, and claim as a rigid, which may not be denied him, his seat and privileges as a member in good and regular standing. Such a principle is pregnant with too many evils to be recognized in masonic practice. Suspension, however modified in expression, is exclusion from the. Lodge; toad reformation, not time, must govern the restoration. Nothing can be more absurd than for the Lodge, by deliberate vote, to undertake to determine the precise time when this reformation shall take place. That is a question over which it has no control. It has been said that definite suspension is predicated on the expectation that reformation will immediately follow the act of exclusion, and be fully accomplished by the time specified. But this is assuming too much. The expectation is a charitable one, but suppose it should not be realized? The brother returns to the Lodge, — though the cause of his suspension may have been greatly aggravated by his subsequent conduct, — and, under the limitation of the rule, claims and assumes all his rights and privileges as a member in full standing. There is no power in the Lodge to prevent this, because the law under which the suspension was originally decreed allows and authorizes it. A new process and another suspension, or expulsion, will then follow, or the Lodge must continue to fellowship an unworthy member. But we need not pursue the argument further. The-law is an unsafe one, and wholly worthless as a rule of discipline. The third and last phase of the question in the series is indefinite suspension, or more Masonically speaking, suspension without any qualifying adjective ; the latter being the only form in which the word was originally used in masonic proceedings. As a punishment, it differs from expulsion in the important particular that while the latter divests the offender of all his rights as a Mason and removes him from beyond the pale and jurisdiction of the Order, the former places his privileges in abeyance without relinquishing the control of the Lodge over him. The one severs his connection with the institution absolutely and entirely, while the other contemplates a possible reformation and final restoration. In the one case he is beyond the reach of the disciplinary power of the Lodge, while in the other he is subject to future arraignment and expulsion. We cite authorities on this point as follows: —

  • "A brother indefinitely suspended from all the rights and privileges of Masonry is, for the time being, as completely deprived of them as an expelled Mason. He has no claims upon the fraternity as such, nor has his family. He is, however, still subject to the disciplinary power of Masonry, and may be charged, tried, and expelled for gross unmasonic conduct."

"Suspension is a deprivation, for the time being, of all Masonic privileges."Washington National Masonic Convention, 1842.

  • "By indefinite suspension, the person is deprived from all his rights and privileges as a Mason, until the Lodge shall see fit, by a special action, to restore him." — Mackey.
  • "A suspended member is amenable to the laws of the Order, and may be dealt with by the Lodge, under whose jurisdiction he resides, for offences against our rules, as though no decree of suspension had been pronounced against him." — Hubbard.
  • "When a Mason is suspended, for any cause whatever, he is, for the time of such suspension, debarred from all the rights and privileges of the Order." — Grand Lodge of Iowa.
  • "All suspended or expelled Masons are strictly forbidden the privilege of visiting any Lodge, of joining in any Masonic procession, of receiving assistance or relief, or masonic burial." —Constitution of the Grand Lodge of New York.
  • "The wife and children of an expelled Mason (and by parity of reasoning, of one suspended,) sustain the same relationship to the organized masonic fraternity that the wife and children of any other man do who never was a Mason."— Grand Lodge of Arkansas.

A brother suspended from the rights and privileges of Masonry, or expelled by a Lodge, is, without further action, suspended from Chapter, Council, and Encampment. On the other hand, suspension or expulsion from a higher Body docs not, per se, affect the standing of a brother in a lower one.

Our correspondent is not sufficiently definite in his statement to enable us to answer his inquiry in precise and exact terms. lie does not inform us whether the suspension was from membership or from Masonry. We take it, for granted, however, that whichever it may have been, it was unlimited suspension, for the Grand Lodge of Mississippi does not recognize any such practice as definite suspension. If the brother was suspended from the Lodge, simply, then all his rights and claims as a member, whether personal or otherwise, were also suspended, and will remain in abeyance until he is restored, though his more general privileges as a Mason still remain unimpaired. He ceases, for the time being, to be a member. If, on the contrary, he was suspended from Masonry, then he is no longer entitled to the recognition or privileges of the Order, and must remain in this condition until the suspension is removed by the Lodge.


From Vol. XXVI, No. 9, Page 257, July 1867:

We have so frequently discussed this question in these pages, that it would seem to be an almost unnecessary labor to refer to it again ; nor should we do so now, when our pages are pressed beyond their capacity with matters of more immediate, if not of more important interest, were it not that some of our more recent decisions have been misunderstood, or willfully misinterpreted.

Under the present and modem system of masonic government, especially as it exists in this country, a member of a Lodge holds a double relation to the fraternity. A candidate for the degrees is not, by the mere ceremony of his initiation, admitted to membership in the Lodge initiating him. The initiation admits him into the Order, and there stops. The admission to membership in the Lodge is a subsequent transaction, — another and independent compact with a certain number of his brethren, who have voluntarily associated themselves together, under new and particular regulations, for certain specified purposes. The two transactions have no other necessary connection than that admission into the former is an essential qualification for admission into the latter. (The usual practice is, to require a separate proposition and ballot for membership. Where this is not the case, the candidate signs the by-laws as an antecedent condition of membership.) The first is governed by the general laws of the craft, — the latter, by conventional regulations. The rights acquired through the first, therefore, cannot be impaired by any mere non-fulfillment of the conditions of the second. A foreigner is made a citizen of the United States by the laws of naturalization; but he is not thereby invested with the privileges of municipal citizenship. These are acquired in another way, and are subject to other conditions. He may forfeit his privileges as a citizen of a municipality, and yet exercise his rights, and claim protection, as a citizen of the United States. But the converse of this proposition does not hold. If he forfeit his rights as a citizen of the United States, his municipal privileges are also forfeited, because the condition on which he acquired and held them no longer exists. And this is the distinction to be made between the members of the masonic community as a whole, and the members of a private Lodge.

A Lodge, in introducing an individual into Masonry, acts by authority of the Grand Lodge, to which it is subordinate, and for the fraternity at large. The regulations which govern its proceedings in this respect are those general regulations of the craft usually denominated the " Ancient Constitutions." They are the original and fundamental laws of the fraternity, and may not properly be changed by either Grand or subordinate Lodges ; and, if there be any power in them which, in the absence of evidence of intentional fraud, authorizes or can be construed to justify the expulsion of a brother for the non-fulfillment of a private contract, Masonic or otherwise, it is unknown to us. To wrong or cheat a brother or a Lodge, maliciously and wickedly, would undoubtedly, if proved on trial, constitute cause for suspension or expulsion from the privileges of Masonry. But the failure to fulfill the conditions of a contract, or the mere refusal to do so, would not at civil law, and ought not Masonically, to imply intentional fraud ; for the non-performance of this duty may proceed from causes which, explained, would exonerate the delinquent from injurious imputation. The failure to perform any of its conditions would legally be a violation of a civil contract, so far as to release the opposite party from his obligations, and generally entitle him to bring an action for damages, if any were sustained; but it would not entitle him to maintain criminal proceedings against the delinquent. If a member fails to pay his assessments, he breaks his contract; and the Lodge may bring an action against him, which may result in his discharge from membership, and a consequent release of the Lodge from its special obligations to him. But, before a criminal action can be sustained, there must be evidence of manifest and intentional fraud. This evidence is not furnished by, nor is it to be inferred from, a mere neglect or implied refusal to fulfill the contract. Were an opposite rule to obtain, every man in the community who should fail to fulfill his pecuniary obligations would be liable to indictment as a criminal. We cannot, therefore, admit that the charge of non-payment of dues imports of itself anything more than the non-fulfillment of a pecuniary contract; which fault the delinquent may, with the best and purest intentions, be compelled by pecuniary embarrassment to commit. There may be cases where occurrences growing out of the non-payment of dues might render expulsion right and justifiable. Contumacy in the discharge of any Masonic duty, if attended by bad passions and base and unmasonic actions, would probably be a proper subject for masonic discipline. But in all such cases charges, arraignment, and trial must precede conviction. Criminal intention is not to be inferred, but proved.

One word as to the By-Laws of a Lodge. These are both general and particular. The engagement to abide by them is, in the first instance, a general one. So far as the By-Laws conform to the regulations of the Grand Lodge and the general regulations of Masonry, this engagement is obligatory ; but, when they militate against either, it is not; because a prior and superior obligation to the contrary exists. If a Lodge incorporate into its By-Laws a provision inconsistent with the general regulations of the craft, or the particular regulations of the Grand Lodge, it transcends its powers; and any action had under such provision would be nugatory. So, if a Lodge suspend or expel from Masonry for a cause not recognized as an offence by the general regulations of the Order, or the particular regulations of the Grand Lodge, the expulsion cannot stand, because the offence does not involve any violation of the original conditions on which admission into the fraternity was obtained. We will illustrate: A Lodge may require by its By-Laws that its members shall not only abstain from the use of intoxicating drinks, but that they shall not traffic in them, nor fellowship with those who do traffic in them. If the Grand Lodge should sanction such regulation, then the violation of it would, on conviction, exclude a member from the Lodge, or subject him to such other punishment as it should see fit to impose; because it was one of the conditions by which he was admitted to membership. But it would not justify the expulsion of a member from Masonry, because it would not be an offence against his original obligations and duties as a Mason ; for the general laws of Masonry recognize no such rule of moral discipline. A Lodge may be either general or particular," say the old Constitutions. It is general, when acting as an agent of the whole fraternity, as represented by the Grand Lodge, and in the discharge of the general duties prescribed by its charter. It is particular, in the admission and government of its own members, and in the regulation of its local concerns.

Its By-Laws necessarily partake of this mixed character. The original engagement to abide by them is general in its application, because the initiate does not by his obligation assume any of the private liabilities, nor is he invested with any of the personal privileges, of membership. On the contrary, the signing of the By-Laws is a special or particular contract, and constitutes the condition of membership. Expulsion or suspension from the Order proceeds from the neglect of primary or general duties. Forfeiture of membership proceeds from the neglect of secondary or particular duties. The payment of Lodge dues is a particular duty imposed by a particular regulation of the Lodge. It is not required by the general laws of the fraternity. We desire to be distinctly understood here as referring to dues assessed upon the members for the support of the Lodge, and nothing else. What the Grand Lodge may have power to do is another and a different question.

We have room only to add, that the corollary from the above is, that suspension from Masonry assumes the character, and is governed by the same laws that control the higher punishment of expulsion, and can therefore only be properly imposed by the authority of the Grand Lodge, and for violations of the higher and more general obligations of the Order; while, on the other hand, suspension from membership "deprives the suspended brother of all his rights and privileges as a member of the Lodge suspending him, but does not affect his general standing otherwise."

We give the following authorities bearing upon the subject: —

  • "A Lodge has the right of suspending or excluding a member from his membership in the Lodge; but it has no power to expel him from the rights and privileges of Masonry, except with the consent of the Grand Lodge." — Mackey.
  • "Striking the name from the roll of members does not affect standing, nor debar from any privilege, except membership in the particular Lodge." — G. M., La.
  • "A Mason cannot be suspended from the privileges of Masonry, except in conviction after trial."—Ibid.
  • "A suspension from membership by a subordinate Lodge does not require any action from the Grand Lodge to make it final."— G. L., Iowa.
  • "The practice of suspending from the privileges of Masonry, for nonpayment of dues, without the formalities of a fair and open trial, I believe to be wrong."— G. M., La. and Iowa.
  • "That no member can be suspended or expelled, or otherwise deprived of his rights, without due trial on charges preferred, is too well settled to be now discussed."— G. L., Mo. (It is not usual to try members on charges for non-payment of dues.)
  • "Suspension from the Lodge does not abrogate the connection between the member and his Lodge, but places his rights in abeyance only." — Mackey. (One of his rights as a member is to visit or attend the meetings of the Lodge, and this, with all his other rights, is placed in abeyance,— and we think justly ; for, having broken his engagements with the Lodge, his continued presence would, at least, be an indecency to which the members are not required to submit.)
  • "From this date, no Lodge shall suspend any brother for a definite time; but all suspensions shall be for indefinite periods." — Miss., and Texas.
  • "Hereafter, no subordinate Lodge under this jurisdiction shall suspend a member for a definite period."— Cal.
  • "We have come to the conclusion, that definite suspensions should be expelled from our statute-book."— G. M., Miss.
  • "We are disposed to indefinite suspensions, always, in preference to definite suspension." — Lawrence Sig. and Jour.
  • "In the opinion of this Grand Lodge, every suspension should be for an indefinite period."— Va.

We have, on other occasions, fully discussed in these pages the question of indefinite suspension; to which discussions reference may be had by any party feeling a more particular interest in the subject.


From Vol. XXVI, No. 12, Page 353, October 1867:


The oldest Masonic Constitutions that have come down to us from the early days of Masonry in England, answer this question in the following words: " A Lodge is a place where Masons assemble and work: hence that assembly, or duly organized society of Masons, is called a Lodge." This should seem to be plain and definite enough for any useful purpose. Some of our contemporaries, however, assume to think otherwise, and are trying, with great success, to mystify themselves in a metaphysical disputation as to what are the elements of which a Lodge of Masons is or ought to be composed. It is contended by one party that inasmuch as Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts are excluded by the modern rule of Masonry from membership in our Lodges, — a rule not known abroad, and inconsistent with the old usages of the institution, — they are not Masons at all ; but are, by their initiation, simply placed in a condition to become such, — occupying a kind of chrysalis state ! This is nothing more nor less than a whimsical absurdity. The moment a candidate is taken by the hand and ordered to salute the Wardens as a "brother," he becomes a Mason. The whole matter is settled by the ritualistic answer to the question, What makes you a Mason? The subject does not admit of argument. Now, if an Apprentice be a Mason,— a "new Brother who at his making is decently to clothe the Lodge, that is, all the brethren present," (Ancient Constitutions. 45) — then he is one of the constituent elements of a Lodge, though, by the American rule referred to, he is denied the privileges of membership; that is, he is not by virtue of his initiation, allowed to enjoy the special benefits of membership in a particular Lodge. His general privileges as a Mason, however, are not impaired or affected by this denial. His initiation introduces him into Masonry as a member of the universal brotherhood, and invests him with rights and privileges of which no local division, or particular organization of grades, can deprive him. His subsequent advancement may enlarge and strengthen these privileges, but no power short of his own dereliction of duty can deprive him of them. He stands, except in degree, as the Master Mason stands, in his relations to the Fraternity at large. Lodge membership has no necessary connection with his initiation. That is a subsequent condition, into which he may enter or not. It is one which, as a good Mason, he should assume, and if he consults his "own interest, he will assume it at his earliest convenience ; that is, as soon as he has attained to the masonic rank required by the regulations of the Grand Lodge, as a prerequisite for membership in a particular Lodge.

It is also denied that there is any such body known to Masonry as an Entered Apprentice Lodge. The Grand Master of Missouri, entertains this opinion, and has issued the following remarkable edict to the Lodges in that State : —

  • 1st. That all Lodges must meet as Master Masons and members of the Lodge under the charter or dispensation granted them; and that no Lodge shall be considered as having legally met and opened, either at stated or special meetings, unless it opens in the Masters' degree, and when through with the labors of the meeting, it must close on the same degree.
  • 2d. That opening and closing the M.M. degree opens and closes the Lodge, thereby controlling all subordinate degrees; and when the Lodge is once opened, it may dispense or suspend labor from one degree to enter upon another, as the work ma)' demand, until the Lodge, as such, is finally closed. By work we include also lecturing and examination of candidates.

We have in our experience met with many new theories in masonic government, new principles in masonic, law, and strange perversions of the philosophy and ritual of Masonry, as it was understood and practised by those to whose transmitted-wisdom we, as Masons, have been taught to look for counsel and direction in all matters of doubt and uncertainty affecting its laws, its usages, or its ceremonies ; but we have rarely, if ever before, met with any construction or interpretation of the ritual, which so radically changes the universally recognized forms and ceremonies of the Lodge, as the foregoing. We think that our brother, overlooking the fact that Lodges, less than a century and a half ago, were mainly composed of Apprentices and Fellow Crafts, has been misled by the modern practice of granting Charters for Lodges to Master Masons only, and the still more modern practice of excluding Apprentices from membership in them. But these changes, or innovations on the ancient laws and usages of the craft, though they may have been both expedient and wise at the time of their adoption, do not authorize the ignoring of any of the rights acquired by candidates at their initiation. But this is virtually done by the first article of the edict, which requires that all Lodges shall open and close on the Masters' degree, or their proceedings shall not be recognized as legal. Apprentices cannot be received in a Masters' Lodge, and are therefore excluded from the Lodge altogether. How they were ever lawfully made Masons, under such a rule, is to us not very clear; nor does the second article, though doubtless designed as a commentary to the first, remove the difficulty. It assumes that the opening of the Lodge on the Masters' degree opens it on "all subordinate degrees:" thus doing away entirely with the opening and closing on the first and second degrees, and inaugurating the before unheard of and unmasonic practice of making Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts in a Masters' Lodge! Admit this, and it is only necessary for the Master to suspend business, or work, on the Third Degree, to authorize him to proceed at once, without any change of his Lodge, to initiate and pass his candidates. All idea of Lodges of the first and second degrees is repudiated; the ceremonies of opening and closing them, found in the rituals of all rites, and in all countries, are stricken out of existence — erased from the "body of Masonry! " Our brother is greatly at fault. He has mistaken his duty and his power, and inaugurated a practice which, if successful, would revolutionize the entire organization of the Lodge, and weaken, if not ultimately destroy, the unity and completeness of one of the most beautiful and philosophical illustrations of the great moral truths Masonry professes to teach. One step in the wrong direction opens an easy path for the next to follow.

Apprentice and Fellow Craft Lodges are, by the laws of Masonry in this country, very properly made appendant to, and associated with, Masters' Lodges; by virtue of whose charters they are held; as the intercalary degrees, or Lodges, in capitular Masonry, are held under the authority of the charters of Chapters. In other respects, they are distinct, and for all practical purposes might exist, as they once did, as independent organizations. Our old writers tell us that at the building of the Temple at Jerusalem, the workmen were divided into so many Lodges of Entered Apprentices, so many of Fellow Crafts, and so many of Master Masons; and though this may be to some extent apocryphal, it shows very clearly that the existence of such Lodges, as separate and distinct organizations, was a fact familiar to them, as it is to every well informed Mason. We do not suppose that our brother of Missouri really intends to deny their existence now, though such is the purport, and must be the effect of the practical working of his edict.

We understand that it has been said in support of this edict, that the Convention at Baltimore, in 1843, decided that Entered Apprentices are not Masons, and that Lodges of such could be held only in Masters' Lodges. Neither of these statements is true. The first was never before that body in any form, and would have been scouted out of it if it had been brought there. In regard to the second, it is a sufficient answer to say, that the Convention adopted and sent out to the country a full and complete ritual for the opening and closing of Lodges of each of the three degrees, declaring how each was to be organized, of whom it consists, and the work that may lawfully be performed by it: thus treating them as separate bodies, independent of each other under the limitation above stated. At the Convention held at Washington in 1842, a report was adopted recommending that thereafter the Grand Lodges should instruct their Lodges to transact all their business in a Masters' Lodge, the practice up to that time having been to transact it indiscriminately in any degree on which the Lodge might chance to be open. Nothing was more common at that day — and the practice was then more than a century old, even in this country — than for a Lodge to meet, open on the first degree, do its business and close: and where there is no other business to be done than that which legitimately appertains to the work, the practice still exists, and probably will continue as long as Lodges continue to exist.



From Vol. XXVII, No. 12, Page 362, October 1868:

A contemporary answers the question— "When does a Mason become a member of a Lodge?" as follows : —

When he signs the By-Laws. Before he can be permitted to sign the By-Laws, he must have passed the ordeal of the ballot. Electing a brother to membership, does not make him a member any more than electing to the degrees makes him a Mason. The By-Laws of most Lodges provide that any Mason may, if he choose to do so, sign their By-Laws within a certain specified time after he has been raised, without further ballot. It does not necessarily follow that because a brother has taken the degrees, he must sign the By-Laws. Membership like everything else in Masonry is voluntary. Every Mason ought to belong to a Lodge, and the Master should inform every newly made brother of his duty, and of his privilege to become a member, and a copy of the By-Laws should be presented to him for his perusal and signature.

Notice of Candidate Rejection

From Vol. XXVII, No. 12, Page 362, October 1868:

"Is it proper for any one, except the Secretary, to communicate to a candidate notice of his rejection?"

"No. The Secretary is the official medium of communication between a Lodge and all having any business with it. There are so many objections to the communication of the transactions of a Lodge to a profane, that every Lodge should provide by its By-Laws, that no notice of its action on a petition should be communicated to any who are not members, except by the Secretary. We cannot agree with the opinion of Br. Mitchell, [page 369, vol. 2]: "Any member has the right to tell the candidate that he has been rejected."

Status of Arrested Candidates

From Vol. XXVII, No. 12, Page 362, October 1868:

If a candidate has been arrested at any period of his advancement, is he in "good and regular standing," or has he any masonic privileges?

Every E.A., F.C., or Master Mason is in "good and regular standing," until charges are preferred against him. If then the E.A. or F.C. has been arrested during his advancement, without any specific charge, his masonic standing is not thereby affected, and he is entitled to the privilege of a seat in the E.A. or F.C. Lodge.

The above opinion is given by a contemporary; and examined from his point of view, we see nothing in it to object to. It grows out of the practice of taking the ballot on advancement to each degree, a practice that does not commend itself to our judgment, nor is it, in our opinion, consistent with that justice and equity which should ever characterize masonic proceedings. The person "arrested" is already a Mason, and his rights and privileges are to be respected as such by his brethren. His rejection implicates his character, and implies a moral unfitness for the additional favor he seeks; it casts a blot upon his integrity, the nature of which is unknown to him, and the removal of which is placed beyond his power. He goes out into the world a dishonored brother. This is neither just nor masonic. Having been received as a Mason, he is entitled to the respect and protection which the laws of Masonry guarantee to him. If he is unworthy by reason of immorality or other cause, he has a right to demand a trial by his Lodge, and an opportunity to meet his accuser and justify himself, if innocent. If guilty, let him be legally punished.

Restoration of Membership by Grand Lodge

From Vol. XXVII, No. 12, Page 363, October 1868:

Has the Grand Lodge the right and authority to restore to membership in a subordinate Lodge?

No. While a Grand Lodge can reverse the decision of its subordinate Lodge, expelling a Mason from all the privileges of Masonry, "each Lodge is to be the sole judge as to who shall, and who shall not be associated with them as members of the Lodge."

Status of Non-Affiliated Masons

From Vol. XXVII, No. 12, Page 363, October 1868:

In 1862 the Grand Lodge of North Carolina, adopted a resolution on this subject, which, says the Masonic Sun of that State, was undoubtedly intended to apply to that class who refuse to affiliate with any Lodge. There is a wide difference between wilful disobedience of a law, and the utter inability to comply with a law. "Non-affiliation is a violation of positive masonic law" (Mackey, page 274), but it does not follow that every non-affiliate is unworthy. A Mason is in good and regular standing before the Masonic world, until charges are preferred against him, whether he be affiliated or not. After a man becomes a Mason, it is his duty to affiliate, but still it is optional with him to do so or not. If he does not affiliate he does not necessarily commit a masonic crime, for there may be good reasons why he does not affiliate. The By-Laws of a Lodge may require each member to pay a larger amount of dues than he is able to pay; or he may wish to move to some other Jurisdiction, or there may be some feature in the By-Laws which he does not like, and for that reason he may decline to sign them. Still he is a Mason in good and regular standing, and may be willing to contribute according to his ability for charitable purposes. He is not entitled to the peculiar privileges of Lodge organization, for the reason that he refuses to become amenable to the By-Laws of any Lodge. —

We are unable to find any law other than that quoted above, which makes distinction between the wilful non-affiliate, and the non-affiliate who is refused admission without any assigned cause. A Lodge refusing to receive as a member, a brother who is in good and regular standing must have a reason for such action, although it cannot be compelled to assign that reason. The brother refused is unquestionably a nonaffiliated Mason, and it is impossible to make a legal distinction between him and the wilful non-affiliate. He is yet a brother Mason and entitled to our sympathy, on account of the unfortunate situation in which he is involuntarily placed.



From Vol. XXVIII, No. 3, Page 93, January 1869:

The question is often asked, "Why are Masons so particular about their keeping secret the fact of a petition for the degrees in Masonry being sometimes rejected?"

Masonry does not propose to leave any man any worse off than it finds him. It is a generally conceived opinion by all outsiders or profanes, that every man who petitions a lodge for admission is subjected to a rigid examination for investigation into his character, by a committee appointed for that purpose; and when the action of the Lodge (where applicant has been rejected) has been divulged by unthoughtful members, it has injured to a greater or less extent the social standing of the applicant, and that, too, among those who are opposed to our institution, from the fact of the investigation into the moral standing of the applicant. The anti-Masons, as well as profanes, generally say: "There is something wrong in that man; the Masons black-balled him," and they look upon him with suspicion, even though they profess to have no confidence in the order. Therefore brethren should be very careful in not exposing the rejection. In-justice to all those who may not be able to gain admission into our institution, let us do them no evil, if no good.

But it does not necessarily follow from rejection that the applicant is unfit or of bad character. Occasionally unworthy motives in the breast of one member of the Lodge, or some mistaken idea, may induce the deposit of a black ball. Any member divulging the acts of the Lodge is liable to discipline and suspension, if found guilty.

Objection to Advancement

From Vol. XXVIII, No. 12, Page 328, September 1869:

R. W. Sir and Bro. — At the last Communication of our Lodge a candidate for advancement was objected to by a brother, who was not present, in writing — was such objection, so made, valid?

Answer: — Most undoubtedly it was. In this enlightened age we can scarcely conceive of a Master being so utterly devoid of common sense, and so entirely lost to all those finer sensibilities which enter into the composition of a Masonic gentleman, as to suppose for a moment that a written order can be less binding upon him than a verbal one, or that he can with impunity ignore rights which ought to be religiously respected in the brother's absence if at no other time.

Requirement to Vote

From Vol. XXVIII, No. 12, Page 328, September 1869:

R. W. Sir and Bro. — It was recently stated in my Lodge that by order of the Grand Lodge every member present when a ballot was opened was required to vote one way or the other. It appears to me that this regulation is a most absurd one. Candidates are constantly proposed in our Lodge of whom I know nothing beyond what the Examining Committee report concerning them, and I am aware that sometimes Examining Committees perform their duties very imperfectly. Am I then to be required to vote for or against the admission of a candidate when I have no personal knowledge upon which to act? I should like to be posted upon this matter, and so would other brethren who feel as I do.

Answer: — It is your duty, and the duty of every member of your Lodge to become satisfied by thorough, personal investigation, that each and every applicant for membership is worthy or unworthy. When you have performed this Masonic duty you will be qualified to carry out the requirements of the Grand Lodge understanding, and in accordance with the testimony of a pure conscience. And then, too, it will be a good time to complain of your investigating committees. — Landmark.

Object of a Charter

From Vol. XXIX, No. 1, Page 16, November 1869:

Dear Bro. Moore. —

I feel somewhat a delicacy in submitting an opinion adversely to that which is currently entertained by the Craft in regard to the object and qualities of a warrant, but viewing this matter as a prevailing error without utility, I feel free to open the subject and direct attention to it. As it involves no danger nor prejudice to the fundamental principles of the institution and contemplates no innovation to the old land marks, an argument on the subject of the true character of a warrant may be indulged in with impunity. This article was induced by perceiving the following decision recently made by a Grand Master, on the subject of requiring, in effect, the warrant to be present before the lodge can be opened or proceed to business. He says: "When a Master, through negligence or design, does not attend with the warrant and open his lodge at its regular communication for four weeks, and the ensuing week is the one at which the annual election should be held, and fears are entertained that he will not allow the lodge then to be opened, the D.D.G. Master will be ordered to attend officially and open the lodge and hold the election."

Although this decision is in harmony with the universal idea held by the fraternity in regard to the functions of a warrant, it is erroneous in principle as it virtually changes the relative position the warrant holds to the body. It is an instrument intended to protect a Lodge of Masons in certain rights and privileges, and is the portable evidence of their lawful existence as a lodge. It is in this latter feature of its character its principal virtue and importance consists. Instead of viewing it as conveying authority to participate in and enjoy the privileges accorded to a lodge, it is made by such ruling and practice an indispensable component of the lodge it authorized the body to open, thus perverting its true and legitimate character.

It is not at all likely that the Grand Master, whose decision on this subject is here introduced, deemed it necessary to penetrate the subject in this direction beyond the prevailing opinion, but has taken the custom as an established fact, and decided in accordance therewith. The ancient charges are entirely silent on the subject. Neither do the constitutions or rituals attribute to it the peculiar virtues which are ascribed to it by this decision, as in making its presence a sine qui non to the formal opening of lodges under its authority. Without carefully scrutinizing the language defining a lodge, as given in the lecture of the first degree, this error, which is so prevalent, may easily have been adopted as the correct rule, viz.: "A Lodge is a certain number of Masons duly assembled, with the Holy Bible, Square and Compasses, havinga charter or warrant empowering them to work." It will readily be perceived here that the Holy Bible, square and compasses are made essential elements in opening a lodge assembled for lodge purposes, and that the warrant is merely the instrument which they must lawfully hold empowering them to do so.

It u true that a distinguished writer on Masonic Jurisprudence, whose intellectual abstractions — with all respect — have done much to unsettle the common sense practical operations of the institution, as well as to enlighten the brotherhood, — is very emphatic in laying it down as law that "no lodge can be opened or proceed to business unless it (the warrant) be present." . . . "And if it should be taken out of the room during the session of the lodge the authority of the Master ceases." As there is no direct law appearing from which such an opinion is derived, the idea must have originated with himself, growing out of some governing principle which is not apparent or deducible from any of the ancient or modern regulations which have come to the general knowledge of the Craft.

Should such a rule be rigidly applied, a lodge would, in innumerable instances, be thrown into inextricable confusion. This theory is as much an abstraction as the inherent right of Masons to congregate and open a lodge indiscriminately, which has long since been waived or surrendered. All will concede the fact, that a lodge cannot hold a lawful existence without a charter or warrant from some competent authority. "It is called a warrant of constitution because it is the instrument which authorizes or warrants the persons therein named to open and constitute a lodge." And it must be conceded that this constituted Lodge of Masons can do no Masonic work nor transact Masonic business, unless a certain number of its members, including an authorized officer, be present. The ritual proscribes a certain form of ceremonies, both in opening and closing a lodge, and the ancient rules, and Master's covenant require a strict conformity thereto. These regulations cannot be departed from with impunity, and never are disregarded, except it is done by violence. It is also required that there shall be stated and may be special or emergent communications of the lodge. Whenever the latter occur the members are to be duly notified thereof. Now what would be. the effect, should the theory of this writer be put into practical operation ? If the functions of a Master cease on the withdrawal of the warrant from the room, the lodge itself necessarily loses its vitality and becomes defunct from the same cause. If a lodge cannot be opened except the warrant be present, it certainly cannot remain open, in form, a moment during its absence. There is scarcely a meeting at which the warrant is not taken from the room by a Committee sent out to examine visitors. Indeed, it is not infrequently the case that the Master, having the warrant in his pocket, will pass in and out of the room several times during the evening. When this is done, in either case, what is the situation of the lodge in the meantime? If the lodge loses its functions by such an act it can scarcely regain its lost life by simply a return of the warrant. It can hardly be possible it was intended to convey the idea that a lodge may be alternately opened and closed by passing the warrant in and out of the room as you would in turn snuff out and re-light a taper.

In endeavoring to trace this theory to a practical result we are lost in a labyrinth of metaphysics. There is such a variance between this principle and the internal arrangements of the Masonic system of government and management that they cannot be made to work harmoniously into each other. If such a ruling could be made practicable it would really be a matter of but little importance whether the doctrine is correct or not. But as this cannot be done, while maintaining the present usages of a lodge, and the regulation is not universally complied with, it should be abandoned as hurtful to a lodge and demoralizing to the brotherhood, A non-compliance to any Masonic law or mandate, or any relaxation from a scrupulous adherence to the obligations or covenants assumed by the craft weaken the solemn ties which give strength and beauty to the Masonic Edifice.

With due deference it is therefore submitted that although the possession of a warrant is imperative on a Lodge of Masons, still it is not necessarily vital that its presence be required to give legality to the opening; that its virtue and force lie in the legislative act of the Grand Lodge creating the lodge, as expressed in the warrant, and that the lodge receives vitality through the ceremonials of constitution and the installation of its officers, and that it is a matter of no moment whether the warrant be in the lodge-room or anywhere else so long as it is in the custody of the lodge and remains unrevoked.

To strengthen this position it will only be necessary to recur to the fact that
the mere possession of the warrant does not cover a wrong. It docs not make
a spurious or clandestine lodge a lawful one. Although the custody of the
pari hment is prima facie evidence of regularity, it is not conclusive that the
lodge is in good standing. The warrant may have been revoked or annulled,
but withheld, as has frequently been the case in the experience of some Grand-
Jurisdictions. Although we know that the possession of a warrant, under
such circumstances, affords no lawful shelter to the recusants, that they are
depi'ived entirely of its privileges, and the lodge virtually dissolved, yet it can
readily be perceived how parties, placed under such disabilities, may take ad
vantage of the color of protection so amply afforded them by the theory which
such a decision sets forth.

Yours in fraternal love, D.

Powers of the Master

From Vol. XXIX, No. 2, Page 43, December 1869:

Dear Bro. Moore. —

With your permission I will again recur to the decisions on Lodge Government which are published in the July number of your magazine, particularly as they emanate from an intelligent source (the Grand Master of New York), and are calculated to make an erroneous impression on the minds of the brethren under whose observation they may come. One of those to which I take exception asserts that "He (the Master) can order the consideration of a question to lay over for three months or a longer or shorter time, but must be careful that if called upon by the Grand Master lie can justify the exercise of this extreme power."

This decision establishes four very questionable principles. The first is the right given to a Master to defer to any stated time a lawful question while it is under deliberation in the Lodge; secondly, that a Grand Master possesses the right to confer such a power on the Master; thirdly, that it makes a Master amenable to a Grand Master instead of the laws; and, fourthly, it leaves it optional with a Grand Master, whether an offender be called to answer any such charge or not. The ruling in this case endows the Master with powers not hitherto ascribed to his office. There is no question but that a Master has the power, and it is his duty "to open and govern his Lodge, set the Craft to work, giving them proper instructions for their labor." The office is properly invested with adequate authority to prevent innovations, abuses, unlawful acts, and unbecoming behavior, and to insure a fulfillment of the requirements of the Ancient Landmarks, usages, edicts, and all constitutional regulations emanating from a proper source. These give a very comprehensive scope to the prerogatives of the office, and would seem to cover every conceivable point necessary for the effective and harmonious management of a Lodge; but these safeguards, which really centre in the Master, do not embrace nor extend the privileges of the office to the degree attributed to it by this remarkable decision.

If it should be the design of a Master to thwart the purposes of the Lodge in its action on any legitimate proposition, he may exercise his unquestionable right of abruptly closing the Lodge at any stage of its proceedings. Although such a course would be perversive of the actual privileges of the office, still such a measure might be resorted to and sheltered, under a masonic plea of some sort, and this he might do continually until prevented by some authoritative interference; but, at his mere ipse dixit, to postpone the deliberation of any allowable subject to a definite or indefinite period, does not in the remotest degree attach to the Master's office, nor can this authority be originated and imparted to it, without a radical change in the fundamental principles of the Institution, or in violation of the inherent rights of the brotherhood.

In presiding over a Lodge, the Master is required to avoid arbitrary rulings and an imperious deportment. At his induction in office, he is placed under a solemn covenant " to put to the Lodge all proper and constitutional questions." (This is not a usual, or at least not a very general, provision.) This duty is imperative, and it can scarcely be possible, even by the most, sophistical mode of argument, to get away from this important trust. I wish particularly to emphasize the words "proper and constitutional," because the decision under review can apply to no other. Those questions which are Cot constitutional in their character cannot be received by the Master nor entertained by the Lodge. Postponement means subsequent action, and as no improper subject can be deferred, this decision must refer to legitimate matter. Hence we say that the doctrine enunciated by this decision, that a Master may at his option discriminate between lawful subjects, and determine which may or may not be considered by the Lodge, or to postpone action thereon from time to time at his will and pleasure, is monstrous, and certainly inconsistent with the spirit of masonic government.

It is not intended in this criticism to attack any constitutional provision or Landmark which invests the Master with powers necessary for the full and perfect protection of the Institution from abuses and irregularities, but to disabuse the minds of those of our esteemed brethren who honestly believe that a Master possesses, by a right in the office, absolute, unqualified, unrestrained, imperial power. This is a very common error, and seems deeply imbedded in the minds of the Craft, and is particularly cherished by the ignorant, who, possessing brief authority, have the opportunity of exercising it. Were the wise and good alone called to the head of a Lodge, no occasion would ever arise calling in question the authenticity of such a doctrine as this. But it is a fallacious error. We have already shown that the powers of a Master are to some extent restricted, viz., "he is not allowed to govern the Lodge in a dictatorial or imperious manner," and he is compelled "to submit to the Lodge constitutional questions." This being the case, it is obviously preposterous to attribute absolute supremacy to an office which is in this manner modified by restrictive regulations. On receiving the gavel at his installation, the Master does so with the express stipulation that he will not transcend the authority . which that emblem typifies.

By a gentlemanly deportment in the chair, and a courteous consideration for the opinions and feelings of the members, a Master may at all times command their respect, esteem, and reciprocal sympathy. The brotherhood concede to the office every conceivable element essential in carrying out fully the customs and usages of the Institution. That feature of its demands requiring obeisance is most cheerfully and submissively accorded to it and practised. Indeed, there is no society, probably, in the world in which this peculiar mark of deference is more conspicuously presented in its ceremonies or more tenaciously observed. Should the Grand Master present himself and enter the Lodge, he is to defer to the Master until he himself assumes the gavel.

A Masonic Lodge is a body with inherent and chartered rights, and is entitled to, and justly demands, the same courtesy and respect which may be due to a Grand Lodge. The Grand Master, seeking admission into a Lodge, passes through a tyled door, the significance of which every Mason is familiar with; and although received with the honors due his high rank, he is required by the fundamental regulations and usages of Freemasonry to acknowledge the inherent rights of a Lodge by a formal recognition of its officers, as every Mason should do on approaching the altar. This form being one of the peculiarities of an opened Lodge, cannot be disregarded by any Mason, however distinguished a personage he may be. It is a very strange idea entertained by some of the over-zealous Grand Officers of the present day, that they may enter and leave a Lodge in any manner they please, even without giving the masonic salutations; and that they may, when present, take charge of the entire local and private business of the Lodge, managing it as they please. In this they certainly misapprehend their duties and privileges. The prerogatives of the Grand Master's office give the occupant a general jurisdictional supervision over the Craft. He may inquire into the transactions of a Lodge, examine its records, give instruction, counsel, and advice and he may admonish or reprove if need be; but he has no authority, by any right in the office, to order up and control the routine business of the Lodge. For instance, it would be a strange state of things if a Grand Master could, at any time upon assuming the chair, determine whether a Lodge should or should not consider a case of charity. Of course, in thus commenting upon the privileges of a Grand Master, the D. D. Gr. Masters are entirely out of the question. They have no inherent prerogatives. Their duties and privileges are constitutionally defined with such special instructions from the Grand Master as the urgency of the case may require. It is not admissible for them to transcend these well-guarded limits.

I shall have to omit noticing the other points raised by this decision. It will be sufficient, however, simply to recur to them when their object tional features readily present themselves. If the Constitutions confer no such power upon a Master, where does a Grand Master find it inherent in his office to originate and impart such an overstretch of authority to any officer? Again, where can he find the authority for making a Master amenable to him ? Thirdly, where does he find the authority making it optional with him whether an offender be held accountable for any dereliction of duty?

Yours in fraternal love, D.


Masonic Offenses and Trials

From Vol. XXIX, No. 3, Page 75, January 1870:

The question, What constitutes a masonic offence? has, perhaps, never been determined with accuracy; and, certainly, not with completeness. It is perhaps impossible, by any verbal definition, to determine perfectly, in all cases, a crime or an offence in Masonry. The compass cannot describe a circle inside of which the crime always exists, and outside of which it can never be found. There are no lines in moral geometry within which the misdemeanor may always be traced. Accordingly there is no strict masonic code or classification of offences. Yet such is the nature of our Fraternity, that the absence of a written criminal law can hardly be regarded as a defect. So much depends upon the facts and circumstances of the particular case, upon the relation which the accused sustains to others, upon the intent of which the Municipal law does not always take cognizance, nay even upon the tempers and manners, that we at once realize the difficulty of declaring in advance what shall be deemed an act against Masonry. It would be manifestly absurd to hold that every act that contravenes the civil law is a crime against this Fraternity, although obedience to law and the constituted authorities of the State is one of our fundamental doctrines. Nevertheless, no Lodge would expel, or even try one of its members for keeping a dog without a license, or for neglecting to shovel the snow from his sidewalk. Some acts, also, which in contemplation of the law are fraudulent, being made so, perhaps, by the express words of the statute, such as the preference by a bankrupt of a particular creditor, and other acts known as legal frauds, are not therefore and necessarily offences against Masonry. On the contrary, it is not difficult to find cases when the fraud in law is clear, and the act itself is entirely innocent, and perhaps commendable, when tried by the rule of Masonic right.

On the other hand there is a large class of statute crimes, such as felonies and other offences involving moral obliquity and turpitude: — offences as to which all right-minded men, as well as Masons, are in harmony with the law, and of which it is the imperative duty of Lodges to take cognizance, even should they anticipate the Grand Jury or the Police Court. As such crimes are directed against the law, against society as a whole, and against the right of the peace of the individual, they are necessarily crimes against an institution sacredly devoted to the protection of all these interests.

Another class of offences which may be deemed Masonic offences, consists of acts clearly and directly opposed to our constitutions and established regulations, to those cardinal principles known as the general tenets of the Fraternity, and to the special obligations involved in the ritual, and voluntarily-assumed by every initiate. Thus, acts against the cardinal virtue of justice, persistent intemperance, willful or habitual violation of the regulations of the the Grand Lodge, or the By-Laws of a subordinate Lodge, the disclosure to the uninitiated of the secrets or the private business of the Lodge, the failure to comply with those ties of obligation which should be most sacredly observed, though perhaps involving other elements of wrong and wickedness, are to be considered as strictly masonic offences. This enumeration is not intended to exclude many cases, which, as has been before observed, do not admit of classification or definition. Whenever it shall be found that, the acts of a brother are so clearly adverse to the principles or regulations of the Craft, or the rights or happiness of any of its members, it will be the duty of his Lodge to try him for those acts, although the offence involved was never described or known before on sea or land.

The attempt, thus briefly and imperfectly made, to discover the nature and character of that which should be known as a Masonic offence, leads us next to consider the manner and methods under which the trial for such offence should be conducted. The absence of a settled code or classification of offences, furnishes in itself a strong reason for the observance of the highest care, caution, and accuracy, in the conduct of all masonic trials. Certain regulations, of the most obvious necessity, for such trials, have been adopted by Grand Lodges, but they are mostly external in their character, and only intended to meet the plainest and simplest rights of the parties. The true spirit of the trial cannot come from mere forms or regulations of the proceeding. There is another unwritten law higher than the regulations of a Grand Body, but with which they are in harmony. When the accused appears before the lodge to answer the charges against him, and the trial proceeds, he should be met by that spirit of justice, charity, and fairness, which, while it be large enough to comprehend the Lodge and the whole Fraternity, is not too large to overlook him, while the specified regulations are to be strictly observed in the absence of formulas of language. He is not to be oppressed or to be shielded by any merely technical vote. The charges of the written accusation should be made in clear and precise terms, when the charge is general in its nature; as for conduct unbecoming a Mason, there should,be clear and accurate specifications, so that there may be a distinct issue to be tried and that the accused may know exactly what he is to meet. The evidence should be strictly confined to the issues on trial, excluding all hearsay. The examinations of the witnesses on either side should be conducted by managers or counsel appointed for that purpose, the members of the Lodge maintaining the dignified demeanor and bearing of judges in the case. The course of the testimony should never be interrupted by commentary upon the case, which always should be reserved for the summing up of each party.

The best and most candid judgment should be expressed in the vote, which is the verdict of the Lodge. The general burden of proof is on the accusers, although that burden may by the acts or admissions of the accused be shifted and fall upon his shoulders. Inasmuch as the result of the trial may be the . expulsion of the accused from the rights and privileges of Masonry, a disgrace to him, equivalent to a sentence by the civil judge of an ignominious punishment, — a disgrace in which his family must share, and which his innocent children must bear as a reproach in after life, — he is entitled ordinarily to the vote of every member. In case a member is not fully satisfied with the proof offered by the prosecution and upon all the evidence, has doubts of the
guilt of the accused, the accused should have the benefit of the doubts. If,
on the other hand, the evidence offered be clear and satisfactory, every mem
ber is bound to reject all considerations of fear, favor, or affection, and vote
for conviction. C.

Right and Effect of Appeals

From Vol. XXIX, No. 6, Page 164, April 1870:

The right of appeal in masonic criminal jurisprudence, from the decisions of the subordinate Lodges to the Grand Lodge under whose authority the trial has taken place and the judgment been rendered, is one of the most important in the code of masonic judicature, whether regarded as a means of securing a just and lawful administration of the disciplinary powers of the Institution, or of affording the highest protection to the accused against illegal proceedings, misapprehension of the law under which the trial takes place, individual prejudices, or insufficiency of the evidence. So sacred, indeed, has this right ever been held among Masons, that it is doubtful whether an opposing case can be found in the records of the Order, ancient or modern. One of the old masonic charges, which have come down to us from an early period, provides that " every Brother found guilty of a fault shall stand to the award of the Lodge, unless he appeals to the Grand Lodge;" and the wisdom of this regulation does not admit of criticism ; but the precise legal effect of the appeal so taken has recently been made a subject of controversial discussion in the pages of some of our cotempo-raries in this country, and some very singular views have been advanced on the subject. Our own have been frequently given in the pages of this magazine, and need not, therefore, be repeated here, nor is it hardly necessary to add that they are in accordance with the following legal opinion given in the Grand Lodge of England some years since, by Sir Frederick Pollock, in the case of Wood, Crucefix, and Stevens, then on trial before that Body : —

"I am of opinion that parties under sentence of suspension may, pending the appeal, exercise their masonic rights and privileges until the final decision on their respective appeals has pronounced them either innocent or guilty. By the constitutions an appeal is given, and it is the essence of an appeal that it should stay execution of the judgment appealed against, and this may be supported by analogy from every existing code of laws. In most cases a contrary doctrine would lead to the greatest injustice and the grossest absurdity, as if a judgment affected life and limb. The case of Mr. Stevens, in an inferior degree, is a specimen of the same sort; the punishment will have been suffered before the justice of it can be inquired into, unless it be held that the appeal suspended all proceedings under the judgment' which, in my opinion, it does."

Admissions of Members and Visitors

From Vol. XXIX, No. 6, Page 165, April 1870:

We find the following paragraph in one of our exchanges:

"When a man becomes a Mason, he not only acquires membership in the particular Lodge that admits him, but in a general sense he becomes one of the whole masonic family; and hence he has a right to visit, Masonically, every regular Lodge, except when such visit is likely to disturb the harmony or interrupt the working of the Lodge he proposes to visit."

There are one or two points in this paragraph which admit of qualification. The first is in the admission of members. The original regulation on this subject, enacted, we think, in 1723, or soon after the organization of the Grand Lodge of England, is as follows:

"No man can be entered a Brother (i.e. initiated) in any particular Lodge, or admitted a member thereof, without the unanimous consent of all the members of that Lodge then present when the candidate is proposed, and when their consent is formally asked by the Master."

There can be no doubt, we think, in the mind of the reader, that the initiation, or the "entering a Brother," and the admission to membership, are here clearly and distinctly recognized as separate and independent proceedings — each requiring a unanimous ballot. We know that in many of the Lodges of this country the two are included in one vote; but this is a local regulation of the Lodge, or, it may be, of the Grand Lodge under which it is held; and it does not change the more ancient law, nor establish a rule for the government of the Lodges in other jurisdictions. That a candidate, when initiated, becomes.a member of the great Masonic family in the concrete, is a self-evident proposition. His initiation either makes him that, or nothing; and it also confers upon him the privilege of visiting Lodges wherever ho may find one open and in a condition to receive visitors. But this privilege is hardly to be considered as a right; for if it were, he might demand it irrespective of all conditions, he himself being Masonically in "good standing." This the writer of the above paragraph admits that he cannot do, because his presence might disturb the harmony or interrupt the working of the Lodge. The right, therefore, if it be a right, is a conditional one, and these conditions resolve it into a privilege, subject to the favor of the Lodge. Visitors are frequently excluded for other reasons than the one stated, and not unjustly; as, for instance, private business, the election of officers, etc. No Lodge will refuse to receive a visitor, there being no special reason to the contrary, for this would be an act of Masonic discourtesy.

Secret Ballot

From Vol. XXIX, No. 10, Page 299, August 1870:

Dear Brother Moore, — It is a custom generally conceded as proper by the Fraternity, and practiced in almost every Lodge, that a committee, appointed to ascertain the moral and physical qualifications of a petitioner for the degrees, with a view to membership in the Lodge, shall, in making their report to the Body, give their individual opinions as to the fitness of the applicant for the fraternal and social affinities he is seeking. It matters not how elaborate they may report in other respects, they are expected to express the result of their investigations by a single word, "favorable," or "unfavorable." This principle is promulgated in a work on the "Principles of Masonic Law," and is carried far beyond our conceptions as to the primary object of the custom itself. Its tendency can lead to no other termination than is arrived at by the author himself, and which disposes of the matter of secret ballot in a most extraordinary manner, viz., that "if the report of the committee is unfavorable, the candidate should be considered rejected without reference to a ballot." Although in regard to this mode of reporting there is no general law controlling the Lodge in it, yet the custom has so strongly settled into a rule, that to question its orthodoxy may seem to evince a degree of temerity incompatible with that deferential spirit partially interwoven in our nature by the teachings and admonitions of an Institution whose antiquity and peculiarities impress its votaries with a sublime and submissive awe. Were it not for the fact that the enlightened brotherhood of the present day shrink not from the investigation of any truth, it matters not how strange it may at first appear, I should hesitate in presenting a proposition so radically opposed to their preconceived opinions. To point out errors, however, as we may conceive them to be, is no evidence of a disposition to run counter to any wholesome regulation in consonance wi,h the fundamental principles of Freemasonry. On the contrary, it affects only to make more apparent a rational solicitude for a strict observance of the old landmarks of the Order.

We presume it is simply necessary to draw attention to this practice in general terms, when its pernicious consequences and inconsistencies will at once become apparent. The custom really contravenes every principle affecting the secret ballot, virtually removing the sheltering panoply afforded the Craft by the lawful exercise of its privileges. It absurdly forces the Lodge to the alternative of dispensing with this form of balloting entirely, or exercising it only in cases where the report of a committee is favorable. It certainly would be an act of supererogation to appeal to a secret ballot upon an adverse report. It is scarcely presumable that a member of the committee, announcing an unfavorable opinion of an applicant in his report, would so far stultify himself as to put in the box a ball opposite in color to that which had already been exposed. Hence, to extort au opinion from the committee unbosoms the private sentiments of its members, and indelicately places them in the breach between an offended applicant and his friends and the Lodge, while, in fact, the latter should bear whatever denunciatory reproaches may be induced by his rejection. Inasmuch as the committee forms its judgment entirely from the facts elicited from its investigations, it is not probable that its members are any better qualified thereby to determine the fitness of a candidate for masonic honors than are the other members of the Lodge who are placed by the report in possession of those facts and circumstances. To insist, therefore, upon this brief form of report, removes the only safeguard afforded the brethren in shielding themselves from invectives and vituperative reflections. Even in those cases where hostility and personal enmity are not carried to this extent, a knowledge of who the objectors are excites a spirit of hatred and revenge on the part of the candidate, and an alienation of friendship and fraternal love on the part of his friends, who, in almost every instance, make his cause a personal matter of their own. The personal friends of a candidate are not always the most reliable discerners of his moral or social qualities; they are blind to his foibles and indifferent to his position in the community, while both are obviously apparent to others, and to the Lodge a matter of some moment. Then what are the consequences of an adverse report? Either a severance of ties hitherto uniting the members of the Lodge in love, or a submission to the demoralizing effects of dissimulation, prevarication, and insincerity — the latter by far the most hurtful of the two. Another consequence is that it transfers the responsibility of a rejection from the Lodge, where it most properly belongs, to the members of a committee who, not of their own seeking or desire, have had this duty imposed upon them.

In a Lodge where the social status of an applicant forms a strong element to be analyzed in testing his qualities for Lodge association, and where this scrutiny is to penetrate as well his disposition as his mental characteristics, it is difficult to secure the services of gentlemen on committees, sensitive to personal reflections, whose acts are laid open to the censure and obloquy with which an adverse report is freighted under the present system. Although the Institution does not prescribe any particular qualifications,-except that an applicant for the degrees must be a man, freeborn and of good report, honest and honorable, nor limit the Craft to any particular sphere of social life to which he must attain before he is eligibly worthy, yet a Lodge possesses an unquestionable right to elect and determine the standard of character for its own membership-qualifications, placing such restrictions upon the admission of candidates as may best maintain the moral and social elevation it erects to insure harmony and fraternal enjoyment. And although it may have no special regulations governing it in that matter, still the members may act under such an understanding as to carry out individually these social objects.

In seeking the origin of this modern innovation, it is difficult to trace it to any particular time or place. It seems to have shifted itself from the old-time custom at a comparatively recent date, and may have settled into a permanent system through the precepts of the work on the "Principles of Masonic Law" already alluded to. At any rate, it possesses no rational or legitimate foundation, let it come from whatever source it may. One of the old rules, which may be found incorporated in the Regulations of the Grand Lodge of England, gives the following modest manner of ascertaining the sentiments of the brethren upon the application of a petitioner, and which is in remarkable contrast with this modern idea of Lodge action : "The consent of the members is to be formally asked by the Master, and they are to signify their assent in their own prudent way, either virtually or in form, but with unanimity."

It is remarkable that Masons — old Masons—many of whom have for years "sat under the droppings of the sanctuary," should not have perceived in this custom its obvious antagonism to one of the most important and assiduously-cherished privileges in Freemasonry, or, having seen it, have not resisted its practice before it had assumed its present formidable dimensions. It is doubtless through inadvertence entirely, that this excrescence has fastened itself upon the vitals of the Institution, and it is through such laxitude of vigilance that many of the strange doctrines with which Masonry has to contend succeed in passing the threshold. They find their way into the usages of the Craft through motives proper and laudable, it may be, and never carry with them any alexiteric alternative, should injury follow their introduction. They are generally hurtful, and are oftentimes introduced into the Order in seasons of its most healthy and vigorous existence, and are often permitted to remain With their evil effects unperceived, until the beauties which give fascination and charm to its noble structure gradually fade away before the admiring gaze of its votaries. This modern principle which has been introduced into our Lodges, and which induces this stricture, is effecting this very condition of things at the present moment. Lodges once strong and powerful have become sickly and puny. Where beauty, enjoyment, and happiness were their characteristics, deformity, heart-burnings, and strife now exist. The goddess Ate still holds sway, governing many a Lodge by her inexorable Rod, unperceived by her victims.

There is no feature in the organic structure of Freemasonry more vigorously and tenaciously guarded by the brotherhood than are the privileges and benefits of the secret ballot, nor is there any subject in Masonry more discussed and probably better understood than this, and yet it has, by this systematized modern regulation, been vitally assailed, and its principles unwittingly attacked by a shock formidable in its momentum, and destructive in its effects. In opposition, then, to the custom in vogue, it is submitted that the members of an investigating committee are not required to submit their personal opinion as to the fitness of a candidate for Masonry and Lodge-association, under any circumstances, but particularly if they should discover anything objectionable in his disposition or deportment; that, independent of their own opinion — as a witness before a jury in a court of justice — they are merely to give the facts, words, and circumstances as they find them to be, pro and con. Aud further, to protect more fully the principle of the secret ballot, that although the friends of the candidate possess the right, and should exercise,it, of speaking in his behalf, still, any debate on the report of the committee itself, is inadmissible. It is under the government of such a regulation that the true spirit of a mason's privilege in the secret ballot is secured to him, and the peace and harmony of a Lodge perpetuated.

Yours in fraternal love, - D.

Obligations of Visitors and Right to Demand Charter

From Vol. XXIX, No. 10, Page 303, August 1870:

Newport, R.I., 11th July, 1870.

Dear Brother Moore, — What are the requisites required of a visitor?

The above question has been asked me lately, and, at the same time, the following facts were related : —

A short time ago, a brother from New York, well posted and bright in his part, called at a prominent Lodge in jour State, and asked to be examined. Before the examination was begun; he asked to see the Charter: whereupon the Senior Warden, who was conducting the examination, demanded the visitor's Grand Lodge certificate, when, as he did not have it with him, he was denied an examination.

Was this right? I ask this for the information of a number of brethren in Rhode Island. We should like to visit Lodges in your State, but wish to know whether we shall have to produce our Grand Lodge certificate. For my own part, I always thought that the noble old principles of Masonry were to be carried in the brain and the heart, and not in the pocket. Still, if such be the rule in Massachusetts, we would like to know it, that we may be prepared.

Again, in the course of a correspondence with a member of the Lodge above referred to, the rule was also stated: "If a brother of the Lodge objects to a brother's visiting, the W. Master must demand an explanation of the brother so objecting, after which the W. Master shall decide whether the brother wishing to visit be admitted or not."

The above decision I have always been taught as wrong in tot : as a brother's right to object is like his right to cast a black ball, — sacred and inviolable.

I ask these questions simply for information, as, if there is such a rule in Massachusetts that a visiting brother shall produce his Grand Lodge certificate, the Craft outside of the State should know it. With the greatest respect, I am fraternally yours,

Stephen Gould.

Answer.— Our correspondent, will find a sufficient answer to the second branch of his inquiry in preceding pages of the present number of the Magazine.

To the first branch we reply, that although the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of this State, and a very general usage of the Fraternity, recognize the right of a visitor to ask to see the Charter of the Lodge before he submits to an examination, yet. no ingenuous brother will make such a request, unless he has some valid reason to suspect that the Lodge is a clandestine and irregular one ; and the demand made of an old and well-established Lodge, without such reason, might well provoke the counter-demand, equally sanctioned by usage, to see the visitor's Grand Lodge certificate. The obligation is mutual, though neither is rarely insisted upon, except, as has been intimated, for special reasons, as where there are good grounds for suspicion : and in such a case it is best to keep away from the Lodge altogether. It is but. a few years since, that the rule was imperative in this Commonwealth, as against visitors from the Grand Lodge of a neighboring State, in which there were two Grand Lodges, one of which was irregular ; and there are jurisdictions even now, having irregular Lodges within their limits, of visitors from which such a demand could be considered neither unjust nor oppressive.

Were our correspondent travelling abroad, his Masonic intercourse.would be extremely limited without the aid of such a certificate; not that such a document is to be received as plenary evidence of the bearer's lawful claims to recognition, but it is of the highest importance as collateral testimony that his Masonry is from a lawful source. But we need not discuss the subject further. The right of a Grand Lodge to instruct its Lodges to demand such evidence of strangers presenting themselves as visitors at the door of its Lodges, will hardly be denied; and if it does not insist upon it by special enactment, it fails to do so as an act of courtesy, not of obligation.

Shielding A Brother Who Has Committed A Crime

From Vol. XXIX, No. 11, Page 339, September 1870:

Dear Brother Moore, — There is some diversity of opinion as to the duties and responsibilities assumed by gentlemen on becoming members of the Masonic Fraternity. It is true that there are very many branches emanating from the main stem of Masonry, important in themselves as leading to a knowledge of its principles and theories, and of special interest to the brethren in denning the true character of their relationship to the Institution and to their fellow-members, yet there are really but few of the principal attributes of Freemasonry necessary to be understood in giving direction to a Mason's course of action in the absence of any applicable regulation. Very many persons associating themselves with the Institution, pass its threshold without comprehending fully its privileges, and do not see how safely they are guarded from any act of over-strained or misapplied philanthropy. Indeed many, partially indifferent to the study of its science, pass from the theatre of life ignorant of its characteristics, and without having acquired any practical knowledge of its countless virtues. The Constitutions of Freemasonry have their source in principles resting in the bosom of Deity himself; an existence without origin, incapable of modification or restraint. Love, virtue, and beneficence find there an abiding home; an incentive to every motive, and vitality to every moral suggestion of the heart. Love is Masonry; virtue is Masonry; that which is right, proper, and noble, is Masonry. Follow any path in benevolence and honor, and you are within the circle which circumscribes the Mason's sentiments and governs his course of action.

Persons stimulated in their conduct by impulses from a source so pure and potent, knitted together by the strongest ties of brotherhood, and feeling that by the mystic tie there is a common interest of identification in pain, suffering, and pleasure, imagine a difficulty in answering the question heading this article, viz.: "Ought a Mason to shield a brother who has committed a crime?" But this is no intricate interrogatory. Taking the above-mentioned characteristics of the Order as a guide, the response of virtue, honor, and justice, will be promptly and emphatically given in the negative. Treason, murder, robbery, theft, and arson, are offences against the criminal laws, punishable by imprisonment or death. Should a Mason offend in either of these, or in any other of like character, he, by the act, severs the tie which imposes the duty upon his fellows to succor him in cases requiring personal intervention. So far from its being the duty of a Mason to divert the ends of justice by screening a brother from the consequences of his guilt, and thus become a particeps criminis to the act, subject to the same punishment under the law, and exclusion from the privileges and sympathies of the Institution, it is his duty to suffer the law to take its course, untrammelled by his interference, be the consequences what they may.

As treason is enumerated among the penal offences, and possesses elements of various modifications, we may properly pause here a moment to dwell upon its different phases in this connection. Treason may be fostered in a conspiracy against the life of a monarch, simply to transfer the ruling power from, one individual to another, without intending thereby to effect any change in the principles of the government itself, or by betraying the State into the hands of a foreign power. In either case, should such a conspiracy be participated in lo favor a party or friend, with no political end in view, it may properly be classed as criminal treason, and as such, subjects the perpetrators to capital punishment. On the contrary, should such a design be executed to rid the people of a despotic oppression, and to effect a modification in the principles of government, it may be safely placed under the political head, and as such, afford a brother the right of extending to another the benefits of the Institution. Indeed, the latter phase of the subject bears so close an identity to rebellion that it is scarcely possible to distinguish between them. This being the case, the subject is rendered still more difficult of solution. Political revolutions are held as justifiable by the enlightened portion of the world, and rebellion held as admissible by the fraternity of Masons. They seem to be one and the same thing in kingly and imperial governments, and differ only in terms, in popular government, where the sovereign power rests in the people. Strictly speaking, the term rebellion can scarcely be appropriately used when applied to a revolution in a federal or confederate government. If there is a difference between revolution and rebellion, an athetical student may possibly discover the line separating the two political positions ; but a benevolent heart would scarcely pause to thread the labyrinth of such an investigation, were a hunted brother, accused of either offence, to approach him, seeking protection. He would at once, with open arms, take him to his bosom, and shelter him from heartless pursuers. In this act a Mason would be perfectly justifiable under the following old regulation: "That if a brother should be a rebel against the state, he is not to be countenanced in his rebellion, however he may be pitied as an unhappy man; and if convicted of no other crime, though the loyal brotherhood must and ought to disown his rebellion, and give no umbrage or ground of political jealousy to the government for the time being, "they can not expel him from the Lodge, and his relations to it remain indefeasible." So, likewise, should a Mason shield a brother fleeing to him for refuge from the fanatical persecutions of any religious sect or society,' whether such persecutions be sustained by a popular cry or state laws, or not.

The above paragraph is introduced to show that Freemasonry guards so very carefully the principles of its universality, ignoring entirely every feature of political partisanship, and religious sectarianism, that it is willing to al w the most liberal construction of its general regulations, in securing to its adherents a full exercise of their individual opinions, predilections, and natural inherent rights, while in Lodge fellowship. Freemasonry, therefore, stands committed to freedom of political sentiment and action, and to religious tolerance, without regard to country or sect. At the same time it emphatically discountenances the violation of any law, and reprobates criminal offences of every hue and character. In abhorring personal crime, it can justify no act by which the law may be deprived of its power to administer its just award. To construe the fraternal relationship which the brotherhood hold to each other as warranting a member to intervene between an offender of the law and its operation, would be to prostitute its most sacred principles of virtue and justice. The evil effects need not be reverted to here, but are allowable to show the criminal enormity of such a course. Its tendency would be to reduce the Institution to a band of outlaws, — criminal confederates, ready, under certain circumstances, either by stratagem or intimidation, if needs be, to defend their fellows from a punishment deserved, and which the safety and common weal of a community demand. If any principle or landmark in Freemasonry could be so distorted as to give credence to a doctrine so repugnant to the instincts of our nature and our conceptions of morality and virtue, the good repute now adorning its honored frontal, and revered by the pure, the noble, and intellectual of the land, would soon become a "by-word and a reproach."

There is scarcely a Mason who may or not habitually attend the meetings of the Lodge, but is aware of the tenacity with which any principle of honor and morality is guarded by the brotherhood. The sensitiveness of the brethren in protecting these delicate points, and in giving their advantages to their fellow-craftsmen, and the fastidious care with which they adhere to the spirit of those virtues, is well calculated to mislead them while seeking their duty to an erring brother. There are not a few of the brethren who believe that in fulfilling their obligations to the Institution, they are expected to shield a brother, guilty of any crime, if called upon by him, under the signals of distress, to do so. This is evidently an error, a fallacy, an infatuation, growing out of a morbid idea of masonic duty. A Mason who by his own willful act places himself beyond the pale of the Institution, can claim none of its privileges, nor flee to the horns of its altars . for protection. This fact, however, is not to be construed as extending beyond this masonic limit: A gentleman becoming a member of the Order is not thereby shorn of his attributes as a man. He may, in the premises, exercise his own pleasure in that direction, as an individual, but he is not required to do so by any obligation under the mystic tie. On the contrary, such a course would be viewed with disfavor.

It is proper to assist a brother in distress ; to remember him in prayer ; to admonish him of his errors; to aid a reformation; to give him good counsel, and to warn him of approaching danger. But these duties are only expected of a Mason towards a brother in good standing. The Institution exacts no duty from its votaries towards a brother, which is not morally right and lawful. There are instances on record in which the brethren refused to give a brother a masonic burial who had been killed in a duel, simply on the ground that in fighting a duel he violated the law. These are strong cases, illustrating very clearly the position which Masonry occupies on this question.

While a Mason deports himself with circumspection, and keeps himself within the bonds of fraternal propriety, he justly claims the respect and love of his fellow-craftsmen. All that is lawful and right may and will be done which can contribute to his happiness and prosperity. No slanderous report can be indulged or propagated to his prejudice or injury, particularly if the effect is to deprive hiin of a situation or impair his business. On the contrary, the brethren are to cherish his good name and guard his reputation, and, all things being equal, are to give him the preference over a profane, in appointments to office of honor and emolument. On this latter point there may be some difficulty in the minds of brethren who are members of a church which inculcates the principle " of preferring one another" in secular pursuits. Many hold their membership to the church as more binding upon them in this regard, than they do the duties imposed upon them by the fraternal admonitions of Freemasonry. Every one, more or less, concedes the superiority of the church of God, in all matters connected with the eternal interests of t i human race, over all other institutions, it matters not how pure and elevated the moral precepts of such societies may be. The spiritual ties which knit together the hearts of its members, where true religion exists, can never be severed by time, nor weakened in the countless ages of eternity. The love of God, which cements the soul to beatified bliss, can not be circumscribed in its eternal comprehensiveness by a limit surrounding the most favorable system of ethics, however perfect they may be. Masonry, however, in its moral teachings, differing materially in many essential particulars from other institutions, can scarcely be classed as among the ordinary societies of the day. Although Masonry can not claim a divine origin, it nevertheless propagates every principle of the church militant, except that it is not the media of spiritual life. But in every other respect, it is what the church is. Hence there should be no surprise felt when its devotees hesitate as to which of these two great engines of benevolence, devoted as they are to the moral advancement of mankind, possesses a preponderating influence in considering the claims of their respective memberships.

Therefore, between these two institutions "let every one be persuaded in his own mind," influenced entirely by the conscientious impulses of his own heart; but between all other institutions, Masonry can justly claim the preference. It is a happy reflection that in either case there is no restraint upon benevolent action. The sacred admonitions of one of our patron saints should stimulate all to love one another, whether in the Church or in Masonry. It is with the greatest veneration we behold that honored old man, bowed down with age, his snow-white locks floating in the breeze as he stands with his hands stretched in benediction, animated now with the same spirit of love which led him to a life of peril and sacrifice in his youth, with his physical energies fast declining, counselling the brethren from the warmth of his benevolent heart, — " My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth."

Yours in fraternal love, - D.

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