THE PRINCIPLES OF MASONIC LAW:
A Treatise on the Constitutional Laws, Usages And Landmarks of
Albert G. Mackey, M.D.,
"The Lexicon of Freemasonry," "The Mystic Tie," "Legends and Traditions of
Freemasonry," Etc., Etc.,
Grand Lecturer and Grand Secretary of The Grand Lodge of South Carolina;
Secretary General of the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Rite
for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, Etc., Etc., Etc.
"Est enim unum jus, quo devincta est hominum societas, quod lex
constituit una; quae lex est recta ratio imperandi atque prohibendi,
quam qui ignorat is est injustus."
Cicero de Legibus. c. XV.
Jno. W. Leonard & Co., Masonic Publishers,
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by Jno. W.
Leonard & Co.,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.
Brother J.J.J. Gourgas,
Sovereign Grand Inspector General in the Supreme Council for the Northern
Jurisdiction of the United States,
I Dedicate This Work,
As a Slight Testimonial of My Friendship and Esteem for Him
As a Man,
And of My Profound Veneration for His Character
As a Mason;
Whose Long and Useful Life Has Been Well Spent in the
Laborious Prosecution of the Science,
And the Unremitting Conservation of the Principles of Our
Table of Contents
Book First. The Law of Grand Lodges.
Chapter I. Historical Sketch.
Chapter II. Of the Mode of Organizing Grand Lodges.
Chapter III. Of the Members of a Grand Lodge.
Chapter IV. Of the Officers of a Grand Lodge.
Section I. Of the Grand Master.
Section II. The Deputy Grand Master.
Section III. Of the Grand Wardens.
Section IV. Of the Grand Treasurer.
Section V. Of the Grand Secretary.
Section VI. Of the Grand Chaplain.
Section VII. Of the Grand Deacons.
Section VIII. Of the Grand Marshal.
Section IX. Of the Grand Stewards.
Section X. Of the Grand Sword-Bearer.
Section XI. Of the Grand Tiler.
Chapter V. Of the Powers and Prerogatives of a Grand Lodge.
Section I. General View.
Section II. Of the Legislative Power of a Grand Lodge.
Section III. Of the Judicial Power of a Grand Lodge.
Section IV. Of the Executive Power of a Grand Lodge.
Book Second. Laws of Subordinate Lodges.
Chapter I. Of the Nature and Organization of Subordinate Lodges.
Chapter II. Of Lodges under Dispensation.
Chapter III. Of Lodges Working under a Warrant of Constitution.
Chapter IV. Of the Officers of a Subordinate Lodge.
Section I. Of the Officers in General.
Section II. Of the Worshipful Master.
Section III. Of the Wardens.
Section IV. Of the Treasurer.
Section V. Of the Secretary.
Section VI. Of the Deacons.
Section VII. Of the Stewards.
Section VIII. Of the Tiler.
Chapter V. Of Rules of Order.
Section I. Of the Order of Business.
Section II. Of Appeals from the Decision of the Chair.
Section III. Of the Mode of Taking the Question.
Section IV. Of Adjournments.
Section V. Of the Appointment of Committees.
Section VI. Of the Mode of Keeping the Minutes.
Book Third. The Law of Individuals.
Chapter I. Of the Qualifications of Candidates.
Section I. Of the Moral Qualifications of Candidates.
Section II. Of the Physical Qualifications of Candidates.
Section III. Of the Intellectual Qualifications of Candidates.
Section IV. Of the Political Qualifications of Candidates.
Section V. Of the Petition of Candidates for Admission, and the
Section VI. Of Balloting for Candidates.
Section VII. Of the Reconsideration of the Ballot.
Section VIII. Of the Renewal of Applications by Rejected Candidates.
Section IX. Of the Necessary Probation and Due Proficiency of
Candidates before Advancement
Section X. Of Balloting for Candidates in each Degree.
Section XI. Of the Number to be Initiated at one Communication.
Section XII. Of Finishing the Candidates of one Lodge in another.
Section XIII. Of the Initiation of Non-residents.
Chapter II. Of the Rights of Entered Apprentices.
Chapter III. Of the Rights of Fellow Crafts.
Chapter IV. Of the Rights of Master Masons.
Section I. Of the Right of Membership.
Section II. Of the Right of Visit.
Section III. Of the Examination of Visitors.
Section IV. Of Vouching for a Brother.
Section V. Of the Right of Claiming Relief.
Section VI. Of the Right of Masonic Burial.
Chapter V. Of the Rights of Past Masters.
Chapter VI. Of Affiliation.
Chapter VII. Of Demitting.
Chapter VIII. Of Unaffiliated Masons.
Book Fourth. Of Masonic Crimes and Punishments.
Chapter I. Of What Are Masonic Crimes.
Chapter II. Of Masonic Punishments.
Section I. Of Censure.
Section II. Of Reprimand.
Section III. Of Exclusion from the Lodge.
Section IV. Of Definite Suspension.
Section V. Of Indefinite Suspension.
Section VI. Of Expulsion.
Chapter III. Of Masonic Trials.
Section I. Of the Form of Trial.
Section II. Of the Evidence in Masonic Trials.
Chapter IV. Of the Penal Jurisdiction of a Lodge.
Chapter V. Of Appeals.
Chapter VI. Of Restoration.
In presenting to the fraternity a work on the Principles of Masonic Law,
it is due to those for whom it is intended, that something should be said
of the design with which it has been written, and of the plan on which it
has been composed. It is not pretended to present to the craft an
encyclopedia of jurisprudence, in which every question that can possibly
arise, in the transactions of a Lodge, is decided with an especial
reference to its particular circumstances. Were the accomplishment of such
an herculean task possible, except after years of intense and unremitting
labor, the unwieldy size of the book produced, and the heterogeneous
nature of its contents, so far from inviting, would rather tend to
distract attention, and the object of communicating a knowledge of the
Principles of Masonic Law, would be lost in the tedious collation of
precedents, arranged without scientific system, and enunciated without
When I first contemplated the composition of a work on this subject, a
distinguished friend and Brother, whose opinion I much respect, and with
whose advice I am always anxious to comply, unless for the most
satisfactory reasons, suggested the expediency of collecting the decisions
of all Grand Masters, Grand Lodges, and other masonic authorities upon
every subject of Masonic Law, and of presenting them, without commentary,
to the fraternity.
But a brief examination of this method, led me to perceive that I would be
thus constructing simply a digest of decrees, many of which would probably
be the results of inexperience, of prejudice, or of erroneous views of the
masonic system, and from which the authors themselves have, in repeated
instances, subsequently receded--for Grand Masters and Grand Lodges,
although entitled to great respect, are not infallible--and I could not,
conscientiously, have consented to assist, without any qualifying remark,
in the extension and perpetuation of edicts and opinions, which, however
high the authority from which they emanated, I did not believe to be in
accordance with the principles of Masonic jurisprudence.
Another inconvenience which would have attended the adoption of such a
method is, that the decisions of different Grand Lodges and Grand Masters
are sometimes entirely contradictory on the same points of Masonic Law.
The decree of one jurisdiction, on any particular question, will often be
found at variance with that of another, while a third will differ from
both. The consultor of a work, embracing within its pages such distracting
judgments, unexplained by commentary, would be in doubt as to which
decision he should adopt, so that coming to the inspection with the desire
of solving a legal question, he would be constrained to close the volume,
in utter despair of extracting truth or information from so confused a
mass of contradictions.
This plan I therefore at once abandoned. But knowing that the
jurisprudence of Masonry is founded, like all legal science, on abstract
principles, which govern and control its entire system, I deemed it to be
a better course to present these principles to my readers in an elementary
and methodical treatise, and to develop from them those necessary
deductions which reason and common sense would justify.
Hence it is that I have presumed to call this work "The Principles of
Masonic Law." It is not a code of enactments, nor a collection of
statutes, nor yet a digest of opinions; but simply an elementary treatise,
intended to enable every one who consults it, with competent judgment, and
ordinary intelligence, to trace for himself the bearings of the law upon
any question which he seeks to investigate, and to form, for himself, a
correct opinion upon the merits of any particular case.
Blackstone, whose method of teaching I have endeavored, although I confess
"ab longo inter-vallo," to pursue, in speaking of what an academical
expounder of the law should do, says:
"He should consider his course as a general map of the law, marking out
the shape of the country, its connections, and boundaries, its greater
divisions, and principal cities; it is not his business to describe
minutely the subordinate limits, or to fix the longitude and latitude of
every inconsiderable hamlet."
Such has been the rule that has governed me in the compilation of this
work. But in delineating this "general map" of the Masonic Law, I have
sought, if I may continue the metaphor, so to define boundaries, and to
describe countries, as to give the inspector no difficulty in "locating"
(to use an Americanism) any subordinate point. I have treated, it is true,
of principles, but I have not altogether lost sight of cases.
There are certain fundamental laws of the Institution, concerning which
there never has been any dispute, and which have come down to us with all
the sanctions of antiquity, and universal acceptation. In announcing
these, I have not always thought it necessary to defend their justice, or
to assign a reason for their enactment.
The weight of unanimous authority has, in these instances, been deemed
sufficient to entitle them to respect, and to obedience.
But on all other questions, where authority is divided, or where doubts of
the correctness of my decision might arise, I have endeavored, by a course
of argument as satisfactory as I could command, to assign a reason for my
opinions, and to defend and enforce my views, by a reference to the
general principles of jurisprudence, and the peculiar character of the
masonic system. I ask, and should receive no deference to my own
unsupported theories--as a man, I am, of course, fallible--and may often
have decided erroneously. But I do claim for my arguments all the weight
and influence of which they may be deemed worthy, after an attentive and
unprejudiced examination. To those who may at first be ready--because I do
not agree with all their preconceived opinions--to doubt or deny my
conclusions, I would say, in the language of Themistocles, "Strike, but
Whatever may be the verdict passed upon my labors by my Brethren, I trust
that some clemency will be extended to the errors into which I may have
fallen, for the sake of the object which I have had in view: that, namely,
of presenting to the Craft an elementary work, that might enable every
Mason to know his rights, and to learn his duties.
The intention was, undoubtedly, a good one. How it has been executed, it
is not for me, but for the masonic public to determine.
Albert G. Mackey.
Charleston, S.C., January 1st., 1856.
The Authorities for Masonic Law.
The laws which govern the institution of Freemasonry are of two kinds,
_unwritten_ and _written,_ and may in a manner be compared with the "lex
non scripta," or common law, and the "lex seripta," or statute law of
English and American jurists.
The "lex non scripta," or _unwritten law_ of Freemasonry is derived from
the traditions, usages and customs of the fraternity as they have existed
from the remotest antiquity, and as they are universally admitted by the
general consent of the members of the Order. In fact, we may apply to
these unwritten laws of Masonry the definition given by Blackstone of the
"leges non scriptae" of the English constitution--that "their original
institution and authority are not set down in writing, as acts of
parliament are, but they receive their binding power, and the force of
laws, by long and immemorial usage and by their universal reception
throughout the kingdom." When, in the course of this work, I refer to
these unwritten laws as authority upon any point, I shall do so under the
appropriate designation of "ancient usage."
The "lex scripta," or written law of Masonry, is derived from a variety of
sources, and was framed at different periods. The following documents I
deem of sufficient authority to substantiate any principle, or to
determine any disputed question in masonic law.
1. The "Ancient Masonic charges, from a manuscript of the Lodge of
Antiquity," and said to have been written in the reign of James II.
2. The regulations adopted at the General Assembly held in 1663, of which
the Earl of St. Albans was Grand Master.
3. The interrogatories propounded to the Master of a lodge at the time of
his installation, and which, from their universal adoption, without
alteration, by the whole fraternity, are undoubtedly to be considered as
a part of the fundamental law of Masonry.
4. "The Charges of a Freemason, extracted from the Ancient Records of
Lodges beyond sea, and of those in England, Scotland, and Ireland, for the
use of the Lodges in London," printed in the first edition of the Book of
Constitutions, and to be found from p. 49 to p. 56 of that work.
5. The thirty-nine "General Regulations," adopted "at the annual assembly
and feast held at Stationers' hall on St. John the Baptist's day, 1721,"
and which were published in the first edition of the Book of
Constitutions, p. 58 to p.
6. The subsequent regulations adopted at various annual communications by
the Grand Lodge of England, up to the year 1769, and published in
different editions of the Book of Constitutions. These, although not of
such paramount importance and universal acceptation as the Old Charges
and the Thirty-nine Regulations, are, nevertheless, of great value as the
means of settling many disputed questions, by showing what was the law and
usage of the fraternity at the times in which they were adopted.
Soon after the publication of the edition of 1769 of the Book of
Constitutions, the Grand Lodges of America began to separate from their
English parent and to organize independent jurisdictions. From that
period, the regulations adopted by the Grand Lodge of England ceased to
have any binding efficacy over the craft in this country, while the laws
passed by the American Grand Lodges lost the character of general
regulations, and were invested only with local authority in their several
Before concluding this introductory section, it may be deemed necessary
that something should be said of the "Ancient Landmarks of the Order," to
which reference is so often made.
Various definitions have been given of the landmarks. Some suppose them to
be constituted of all the rules and regulations which were in existence
anterior to the revival of Masonry in 1717, and which were confirmed and
adopted by the Grand Lodge of England at that time. Others, more
stringent in their definition, restrict them to the modes of recognition
in use among the fraternity. I am disposed to adopt a middle course, and
to define the Landmarks of Masonry to be, all those usages and customs of
the craft--whether ritual or legislative--whether they relate to forms and
ceremonies, or to the organization of the society--which have existed from
time immemorial, and the alteration or abolition of which would materially
affect the distinctive character of the institution or destroy its
identity. Thus, for example, among the legislative landmarks, I would
enumerate the office of Grand Master as the presiding officer over the
craft, and among the ritual landmarks, the legend of the third degree. But
the laws, enacted from time to time by Grand Lodges for their local
government, no matter how old they may be, do not constitute landmarks,
and may, at any time, be altered or expunged, since the 39th regulation
declares expressly that "every annual Grand Lodge has an inherent power
and authority to make new regulations or to alter these (viz., the
thirty-nine articles) for the real benefit of this ancient fraternity,
provided always that the old landmarks be carefully preserved."
The Law of Grand Lodges.
It is proposed in this Book, first to present the reader with a brief
historical sketch of the rise and progress of the system of Grand Lodges;
and then to explain, in the subsequent sections, the mode in which such
bodies are originally organized, who constitute their officers and
members, and what are their acknowledged prerogatives.
Grand Lodges under their present organization, are, in respect to the
antiquity of the Order, of a comparatively modern date. We hear of no such
bodies in the earlier ages of the institution. Tradition informs us, that
originally it was governed by the despotic authority of a few chiefs. At
the building of the temple, we have reason to believe that King Solomon
exercised an unlimited and irresponsible control over the craft, although
a tradition (not, however, of undoubted authority) says that he was
assisted in his government by the counsel of twelve superintendants,
selected from the twelve tribes of Israel. But we know too little, from
authentic materials, of the precise system adopted at that remote period,
to enable us to make any historical deductions on the subject.
The first historical notice that we have of the formation of a supreme
controlling body of the fraternity, is in the "Gothic Constitutions"
which assert that, in the year 287, St. Alban, the protomartyr of England,
who was a zealous patron of the craft, obtained from Carausius, the
British Emperor, "a charter for the Masons to hold a general council, and
gave it the name of assembly." The record further states, that St. Alban
attended the meeting and assisted in making Masons, giving them "good
charges and regulations." We know not, however, whether this assembly ever
met again; and if it did, for how many years it continued to exist. The
subsequent history of Freemasonry is entirely silent on the subject.
The next general assemblage of the craft, of which the records of
Freemasonry inform us, was that convened in 926, at the city of York, in
England, by Prince Edwin, the brother of King Athelstane, and the grandson
of Alfred the Great. This, we say, was the next general assemblage,
because the Ashmole manuscript, which was destroyed at the revival of
Freemasonry in 1717, is said to have stated that, at that time, the Prince
obtained from his brother, the king, a permission for the craft "to hold a
yearly communication and a general assembly." The fact that such a power
of meeting was then granted, is conclusive that it did not before exist:
and would seem to prove that the assemblies of the craft, authorised by
the charter of Carausius, had long since ceased to be held. This yearly
communication did not, however, constitute, at least in the sense we now
understand it, a Grand Lodge. The name given to it was that of the
"General Assembly of Masons." It was not restricted, as now, to the
Masters and Wardens of the subordinate lodges, acting in the capacity of
delegates or representatives, but was composed, as Preston has observed,
of as many of the fraternity at large as, being within a convenient
distance, could attend once or twice a year, under the auspices of one
general head, who was elected and installed at one of these meetings, and
who, for the time being, received homage as the governor of the whole
body. Any Brethren who were competent to discharge the duty, were allowed,
by the regulations of the Order, to open and hold lodges at their
discretion, at such times and places as were most convenient to them, and
without the necessity of what we now call a Warrant of Constitution, and
then and there to initiate members into the Order. To the General
Assembly, however, all the craft, without distinction, were permitted to
repair; each Mason present was entitled to take part in the deliberations,
and the rules and regulations enacted were the result of the votes of the
whole body. The General Assembly was, in fact, precisely similar to those
political congregations which, in our modern phraseology, we term "mass
These annual mass meetings or General Assemblies continued to be held, for
many centuries after their first establishment, at the city of York, and
were, during all that period, the supreme judicatory of the fraternity.
There are frequent references to the annual assemblies of Freemasons in
public documents. The preamble to an act passed in 1425, during the reign
of Henry VI., just five centuries after the meeting at York, states that,
"by the _yearly congregations_ and confederacies made by the Masons in
their _general assemblies, _ the good course and effect of the statute of
laborers were openly violated and broken." This act which forbade such
meetings, was, however, never put in force; for an old record, quoted in
the Book of Constitutions, speaks of the Brotherhood having frequented
this "mutual assembly," in 1434, in the reign of the same king. We have
another record of the General Assembly, which was held in York on the 27th
December, 1561, when Queen Elizabeth, who was suspicious of their secrecy,
sent an armed force to dissolve the meeting. A copy is still preserved of
the regulations which were adopted by a similar assembly held in 1663, on
the festival of St. John the Evangelist; and in these regulations it is
declared that the private lodges shall give an account of all their
acceptations made during the year to the General Assembly. Another
regulation, however, adopted at the same time, still more explicitly
acknowledges the existence of a General Assembly as the governing body of
the fraternity. It is there provided, "that for the future, the said
fraternity of Freemasons shall be regulated and governed by one Grand
Master and as many Wardens as the said society shall think fit to appoint
at every Annual General Assembly."
And thus the interests of the institution continued, until the beginning
of the eighteenth century, or for nearly eight hundred years, to be
entrusted to those General Assemblies of the fraternity, who, without
distinction of rank or office, annually met at York to legislate for the
government of the craft.
But in 1717, a new organization of the governing head was adopted, which
gave birth to the establishment of a Grand Lodge, in the form in which
these bodies now exist. So important a period in the history of Masonry
demands our special attention.
After the death, in 1702, of King William, who was himself a Mason, and a
great patron of the craft, the institution began to languish, the lodges
decreased in number, and the General Assembly was entirely neglected for
many years. A few old lodges continued, it is true, to meet regularly, but
they consisted of only a few members.
At length, on the accession of George I., the Masons of London and its
vicinity determined to revive the annual communications of the society.
There were at that time only four lodges in the south of England, and the
members of these, with several old Brethren, met in February, 1717, at the
Apple Tree Tavern, in Charles street, Covent Garden, and organized by
putting the oldest Master Mason, who was the Master of a lodge, in the
chair; they then constituted themselves into what Anderson calls, "a Grand
Lodge _pro tempore;"_ resolved to hold the annual assembly and feast, and
then to choose a Grand Master.
Accordingly, on the 24th of June, 1717, the assembly and feast were held;
and the oldest Master of a lodge being in the chair, a list of candidates
was presented, out of which Mr. Anthony Sayer was elected Grand Master,
and Capt. Joseph Elliott and Mr. Jacob Lamball, Grand Wardens.
The Grand Master then commanded the Masters and Wardens of lodges to meet
the Grand Officers every quarter, in communication, at the place he should
appoint in his summons sent by the Tiler.
This was, then, undoubtedly, the commencement of that organization of the
Masters and Wardens of lodges into a Grand Lodge, which has ever since
continued to exist.
The fraternity at large, however, still continued to claim the right of
being present at the annual assembly; and, in fact, at that meeting, their
punctual attendance at the next annual assembly and feast was recommended.
At the same meeting, it was resolved "that the privilege of assembling as
Masons, which had been hitherto unlimited, should be vested in certain
lodges or assemblies of Masons convened in certain places; and that every
lodge to be hereafter convened, except the four old lodges at this time
existing, should be legally authorized to act by a warrant from the Grand
Master for the time being, granted to certain individuals by petition,
with the consent and approbation of the Grand Lodge in communication; and
that, without such warrant, no lodge should be hereafter deemed regular or
In consequence of this regulation, several new lodges received Warrants of
Constitution, and their Masters and Wardens were ordered to attend the
communications of the Grand Lodge. The Brethren at large vested all their
privileges in the four old lodges, in trust that they would never suffer
the old charges and landmarks to be infringed; and the old lodges, in
return, agreed that the Masters and Wardens of every new lodge that might
be constituted, should be permitted to share with them all the privileges
of the Grand Lodge, except precedence of rank. The Brethren, says Preston,
considered their further attendance at the meetings of the society
unnecessary after these regulations were adopted; and therefore trusted
implicitly to their Masters and Wardens for the government of the craft;
and thenceforward the Grand Lodge has been composed of all the Masters and
Wardens of the subordinate lodges which constitute the jurisdiction.
The ancient right of the craft, however, to take a part in the proceedings
of the Grand Lodge or Annual Assembly, was fully acknowledged by a new
regulation, adopted about the same time, in which it is declared that all
alterations of the Constitutions must be proposed and agreed to, at the
third quarterly communication preceding the annual feast, and be offered
also to the perusal of _all_ the Brethren before dinner, _even of the
youngest Entered Apprentice_
This regulation has, however, (I know not by what right,) become obsolete,
and the Annual Assembly of Masons has long ceased to be held; the Grand
Lodges having, since the beginning of the eighteenth century, assumed the
form and organization which they still preserve, as strictly
Of the Mode of Organizing Grand Lodges.
The topic to be discussed in this section is, the answer to the question,
How shall a Grand Lodge be established in any state or country where such
a body has not previously existed, but where there are subordinate lodges
working under Warrants derived from Grand Lodges in other states? In
answering this question, it seems proper that I should advert to the
course pursued by the original Grand Lodge of England, at its
establishment in 1717, as from that body nearly all the Grand Lodges of
the York rite now in existence derive their authority, either directly or
indirectly, and the mode of its organization has, therefore, universally
been admitted to have been regular and legitimate.
In the first place, it is essentially requisite that the active existence
of subordinate lodges in a state should precede the formation of a Grand
Lodge; for the former are the only legitimate sources of the latter. A
mass meeting of Masons cannot assemble and organize a Grand Lodge. A
certain number of lodges, holding legal warrants from a Grand Lodge or
from different Grand Lodges, must meet by their representatives and
proceed to the formation of a Grand Lodge. When that process has been
accomplished, the subordinate lodges return the warrants, under which they
had theretofore worked, to the Grand Lodges from which they had originally
received them, and take new ones from the body which they have formed.
That a mass meeting of the fraternity of any state is incompetent to
organize a Grand Lodge has been definitively settled--not only by general
usage, but by the express action of the Grand Lodges of the United States
which refused to recognize, in 1842, the Grand Lodge of Michigan which had
been thus irregularly established in the preceding year. That unrecognized
body was then dissolved by the Brethren of Michigan, who proceeded to
establish four subordinate lodges under Warrants granted by the Grand
Lodge of New York. These four lodges subsequently met in convention and
organized the present Grand Lodge of Michigan in a regular manner.
It seems, however, to have been settled in the case of Vermont, that where
a Grand Lodge has been dormant for many years, and all of its subordinates
extinct, yet if any of the Grand Officers, last elected, survive and are
present, they may revive the Grand Lodge and proceed constitutionally to
the exercise of its prerogatives.
The next inquiry is, as to the number of lodges required to organize a new
Grand Lodge. Dalcho says that _five_ lodges are necessary; and in this
opinion he is supported by the Ahiman Rezon of Pennsylvania, published in
1783 by William Smith, D.D., at that time the Grand Secretary of that
jurisdiction, and also by some other authorities. But no such regulation
is to be found in the Book of Constitutions, which is now admitted to
contain the fundamental law of the institution. Indeed, its adoption would
have been a condemnation of the legality of the Mother Grand Lodge of
England, which was formed in 1717 by the union of only _four_ lodges. The
rule, however, is to be found in the Ahiman Rezon of Laurence Dermott,
which was adopted by the "Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons," that seceded
from the lawful Grand Lodge in 1738. But as that body was undoubtedly,
under our present views of masonic law, schismatic and illegal, its
regulations have never been considered by masonic writers as being
possessed of any authority.
In the absence of any written law upon the subject, we are compelled to
look to precedent for authority; and, although the Grand Lodges in the
United States have seldom been established with a representation of less
than four lodges, the fact that that of Texas was organized in 1837 by the
representatives of only _three_ lodges, and that the Grand Lodge thus
instituted was at once recognized as legal and regular by all its sister
Grand Lodges, seems to settle the question that three subordinates are
sufficient to institute a Grand Lodge.
Three lodges, therefore, in any territory where a Grand Lodge does not
already exist, may unite in convention and organize a Grand Lodge. It will
then be necessary, that these lodges should surrender the warrants under
which they had been previously working, and take out new warrants from the
Grand Lodge which they have constituted; and, from that time forth, all
masonic authority is vested in the Grand Lodge thus formed.
The Grand Lodge having been thus constituted, the next inquiries that
suggest themselves are as to its members and its officers, each of which
questions will occupy a distinct discussion.
Of the Members of a Grand Lodge.
It is an indisputable fact that the "General Assembly" which met at York
in 926 was composed of all the members of the fraternity who chose to
repair to it; and it is equally certain that, at the first Grand Lodge,
held in 1717, after the revival of Masonry, all the craft who were present
exercised the right of membership in voting for Grand Officers, and
must, therefore, have been considered members of the Grand Lodge. The
right does not, however, appear to have been afterwards claimed. At this
very assembly, the Grand Master who had been elected, summoned only the
Master and Wardens of the lodges to meet him in the quarterly
communications; and Preston distinctly states, that soon after, the
Brethren of the four old lodges, which had constituted the Grand Lodge,
considered their attendance on the future communications of the society
unnecessary, and therefore concurred with the lodges which had been
subsequently warranted in delegating the power of representation to their
Masters and Wardens, "resting satisfied that no measure of importance
would be adopted without their approbation."
Any doubts upon the subject were, however, soon put at rest by the
enactment of a positive law. In 1721, thirty-nine articles for the future
government of the craft were approved and confirmed, the twelfth of which
was in the following words:
"The Grand Lodge consists of, and is formed by, the Masters and Wardens of
all the regular particular lodges upon record, with the Grand Master at
their head, and his Deputy on his left hand, and the Grand Wardens in
their proper places."
From time to time, the number of these constituents of a Grand Lodge were
increased by the extension of the qualifications for membership. Thus, in
1724, Past Grand Masters, and in 1725, Past Deputy Grand Masters, were
admitted as members of the Grand Lodge. Finally it was decreed that the
Grand Lodge should consist of the four present and all past grand
officers; the Grand Treasurer, Secretary, and Sword-Bearer; the Master,
Wardens, and nine assistants of the Grand Stewards' lodge, and the Masters
and Wardens of all the regular lodges.
Past Masters were not at first admitted as members of the Grand Lodge.
There is no recognition of them in the old Constitutions. Walworth thinks
it must have been after 1772 that they were introduced. I have extended
my researches to some years beyond that period, without any success in
finding their recognition as members under the Constitution of England. It
is true that, in 1772, Dermott prefixed a note to his edition of the
Ahiman Rezon, in which he asserts that "Past Masters of warranted lodges
on record are allowed this privilege (of membership) whilst they continue
to be members of any regular lodge." And it is, doubtless, on this
imperfect authority, that the Grand Lodges of America began at so early a
period to admit their Past Masters to seats in the Grand Lodge. In the
authorized Book of Constitutions, we find no such provision. Indeed,
Preston records that in 1808, at the laying of the foundation-stone of the
Covent Garden Theatre, by the Prince of Wales, as Grand Master, "the Grand
Lodge was opened by Charles Marsh, Esq., attended by the _Masters and
Wardens_ of all the regular lodges;" and, throughout the description of
the ceremonies, no notice is taken of Past Masters as forming any part of
the Grand Lodge. The first notice that we have been enabled to obtain of
Past Masters, as forming any part of the Grand Lodge of England, is in the
"Articles of Union between the two Grand Lodges of England," adopted in
1813, which declare that the Grand Lodge shall consist of the Grand and
Past Grand Officers, of the actual Masters and Wardens of all the
warranted lodges, and of the "Past Masters of Lodges who have regularly
served and passed the chair before the day of Union, and who continued,
without secession, regular contributing members of a warranted lodge." But
it is provided, that after the decease of all these ancient Past Masters,
the representation of every lodge shall consist of its Master and Wardens,
and one Past Master only. There is, I presume, no doubt that, from 1772,
Past Masters had held a seat in the Athol Grand Lodge of Ancient Masons,
and that they did not in the original Grand Lodge, is, I believe, a fact
equally indisputable. By the present constitutions of the United Grand
Lodge of England, Past Masters are members of the Grand Lodge, while they
continue subscribing members of a private lodge. In some of the Grand
Lodges of the United States, Past Masters have been permitted to retain
their membership, while in others, they have been disfranchised.
On the whole, the result of this inquiry seems to be, that Past Masters
have no inherent right, derived from the ancient landmarks, to a seat in
the Grand Lodge; but as every Grand Lodge has the power, within certain
limits, to make regulations for its own government, it may or may not
admit them to membership, according to its own notion of expediency.
Some of the Grand Lodges have not only disfranchised Past Masters but
Wardens also, and restricted membership only to acting Masters. This
innovation has arisen from the fact that the payment of mileage and
expenses to three representative would entail a heavy burden on the
revenue of the Grand Lodge. The reason may have been imperative; but in
the practice, pecuniary expediency has been made to override an ancient
In determining, then, who are the constitutional members of a Grand Lodge,
deriving their membership from inherent right, I should say that they are
the Masters and Wardens of all regular lodges in the jurisdiction, with
the Grand Officers chosen by them. All others, who by local regulations
are made members, are so only by courtesy, and not by prescription or
Of the Officers of a Grand Lodge.
The officers of a Grand Lodge may be divided into two classes, _essential_
and _accidental_, or, as they are more usually called, _Grand_ and
_Subordinate_. The former of these classes are, as the name imports,
essential to the composition of a Grand Lodge, and are to be found in
every jurisdiction, having existed from the earliest times. They are the
Grand and Deputy Grand Masters, the Grand Wardens, Grand Treasurer, and
Grand Secretary. The Grand Chaplain is also enumerated among the Grand
Officers, but the office is of comparatively modern date.
The subordinate officers of a Grand Lodge consist of the Deacons, Marshal,
Pursuivant, or Sword-Bearer, Stewards, and others, whose titles and duties
vary in different jurisdictions. I shall devote a separate section to the
consideration of the duties of each and prerogatives of these officers.
_Of the Grand Master._
The office of Grand Master of Masons has existed from the very origin of
the institution; for it has always been necessary that the fraternity
should have a presiding head. There have been periods in the history of
the institution when neither Deputies nor Grand Wardens are mentioned, but
there is no time in its existence when it was without a Grand Master; and
hence Preston, while speaking of that remote era in which the fraternity
was governed by a General Assembly, says that this General Assembly or
Grand Lodge "was not then restricted, as it is now understood to be, to
the Masters and Wardens of private lodges, with the Grand Master and his
Wardens at their head; it consisted of as many of the Fraternity _at
large_ as, being within a convenient distance, could attend, once or twice
in a year, under the auspices of one general head, who was elected and
installed at one of these meetings; and who for the time being received
homage as the sole governor of the whole body." The office is one of
great honour as well as power, and has generally been conferred upon some
individual distinguished by an influential position in society; so that
his rank and character might reflect credit upon the craft.
The Grand Mastership is an elective office, the election being annual and
accompanied with impressive ceremonies of proclamation and homage made to
him by the whole craft. Uniform usage, as well as the explicit declaration
of the General Regulations, seems to require that he should be
installed by the last Grand Master. But in his absence the Deputy or some
Past Grand Master may exercise the functions of installation or
investiture. In the organization of a new Grand Lodge, ancient precedent
and the necessity of the thing will authorize the performance of the
installation by the Master of the oldest lodge present, who, however,
exercises, _pro hac vice_, the prerogatives and assumes the place of a
The Grand Master possesses a great variety of prerogatives, some of which
are derived from the "lex non scripta," or ancient usage; and others from
the written or statute law of Masonry.
I. He has the right to convene the Grand Lodge whenever he pleases, and to
preside over its deliberation. In the decision of all questions by the
Grand Lodge he is entitled to two votes. This is a privilege secured to
him by Article XII. of the General Regulations.
It seems now to be settled, by ancient usage as well as the expressed
opinion of the generality of Grand Lodges and of masonic writers, that
there is no appeal from his decision. In June, 1849, the Grand Master of
New York, Bro. Williard, declared an appeal to be out of order and refused
to submit it to the Grand Lodge. The proceedings on that eventful occasion
have been freely discussed by the Grand Lodges of the United States, and
none of them have condemned the act of the Grand Master, while several
have sustained it in express terms. "An appeal," say the Committee of
Correspondence of Maryland, "from the decision of the Grand Master is an
anomaly at war with every principle of Freemasonry, and as such, not for
a moment to be tolerated or countenanced." This opinion is also
sustained by the Committee of the Grand Lodge of Florida in the year 1851,
and at various times by other Grand Lodges. On the other hand, several
Grand Lodges have made decisions adverse to this prerogative, and the
present regulations of the Grand Lodge of England seem, by a fair
interpretation of their phraseology, to admit of an appeal from the Grand
Master. Still the general opinion of the craft in this country appears to
sustain the doctrine, that no appeal can be made from the decision of that
officer. And this doctrine has derived much support in the way of analogy
from the report adopted by the General Grand Chapter of the United States,
declaring that no appeal could lie from the decision of the presiding
officer of any Royal Arch body.
Since we have enunciated this doctrine as masonic law, the question next
arises, in what manner shall the Grand Master be punished, should he abuse
his great prerogative? The answer to this question admits of no doubt. It
is to be found in a regulation, adopted in 1721, by the Grand Lodge of
England, and is in these words:--"If the Grand Master should abuse his
great power, and render himself unworthy of the obedience and submission
of the Lodges, he shall be treated in a way and manner to be agreed upon
in a new regulation." But the same series of regulations very explicitly
prescribe, how this new regulation is to be made; namely, it is to be
"proposed and agreed to at the third quarterly communication preceding the
annual Grand Feast, and offered to the perusal of all the Brethren before
dinner, in writing, even of the youngest entered apprentice; the
approbation and consent of the majority of all the Brethren present being
absolutely necessary, to make the same binding and obligatory." This
mode of making a new regulation is explicitly and positively
prescribed--it can be done in no other way--and those who accept the old
regulations as the law of Masonry, must accept this provision with them.
This will, in the present organization of many Grand Lodges, render it
almost impracticable to make such a new regulation, in which case the
Grand Master must remain exempt from other punishment for his misdeeds,
than that which arises from his own conscience, and the loss of his
Brethren's regard and esteem.
II. The power of granting dispensations is one of the most important
prerogatives of the Grand Master. A dispensation may be defined to be an
exemption from the observance of some law or the performance of some duty.
In Masonry, no one has the authority to grant this exemption, except the
Grand Master; and, although the exercise of it is limited within the
observance of the ancient landmarks, the operation of the prerogative is
still very extensive. The dispensing power may be exercised under the
1. The fourth old Regulation prescribes that "no lodge shall make more
than five new Brothers at one and the same time without an urgent
necessity." But of this necessity the Grand Master may judge, and, on
good and sufficient reason being shown, he may grant a dispensation
enabling any lodge to suspend this regulation and make more than five new
2. The next regulation prescribes "that no one can be accepted a member of
a particular lodge without previous notice, one month before given to the
lodge, in order to make due inquiry into the reputation and capacity of
the candidate." But here, also, it is held that, in a suitable case of
emergency, the Grand Master may exercise his prerogative and dispense with
this probation of one month, permitting the candidate to be made on the
night of his application.
3. If a lodge should have omitted for any causes to elect its officers or
any of them on the constitutional night of election, or if any officer so
elected shall have died, been deposed or removed from the jurisdiction
subsequent to his election, the Grand Master may issue a dispensation
empowering the lodge to proceed to an election or to fill the vacancy at
any other specified communication; but he cannot grant a dispensation to
elect a new master in consequence of the death or removal of the old one,
while the two Wardens or either of them remain--because the Wardens
succeed by inherent right and in order of seniority to the vacant
mastership. And, indeed, it is held that while one of the three officers
remains, no election can be held, even by dispensation, to fill the other
two places, though vacancies in them may have occurred by death or
4. The Grand Master may grant a dispensation empowering a lodge to elect
a Master from among the members on the floor; but this must be done only
when every Past Master, Warden, and Past Warden of the lodge has refused
to serve, because ordinarily a requisite qualification for the
Mastership is, that the candidate shall, previously, have served in the
office of Warden.
5. In the year 1723 a regulation was adopted, prescribing "that no Brother
should belong to more than one lodge within the bills of mortality."
Interpreting the last expression to mean three miles--which is now
supposed to be the geographical limit of a lodge's jurisdiction, this
regulation may still be considered as a part of the law of Masonry; but in
some Grand Lodges, as that of South Carolina, for instance, the Grand
Master will sometimes exercise his prerogative, and, dispensing with this
regulation, permit a Brother to belong to two lodges, although they may be
within three miles of each other.
6. But the most important power of the Grand Master connected with his
dispensing prerogative is, that of constituting new lodges. It has
already been remarked that, anciently, a warrant was not required for the
formation of a lodge, but that a sufficient number of Masons, met together
within a certain limit, were empowered, with the consent of the sheriff or
chief magistrate of the place, to make Masons and practice the rites of
Masonry, without such warrant of Constitution. But, in the year 1717, it
was adopted as a regulation, that every lodge, to be thereafter convened,
should be authorised to act by a warrant from the Grand Master for the
time being, granted to certain persons by petition, with the consent and
approbation of the Grand Lodge in communication. Ever since that time, no
lodge has been considered as legally established, unless it has been
constituted by the authority of the Grand Master. In the English
Constitutions, the instrument thus empowering a lodge to meet, is called,
when granted by the Grand Master, a Warrant of Constitution. It is granted
by the Grand Master and not by the Grand Lodge. It appears to be a final
instrument, notwithstanding the provision enacted in 1717, requiring the
consent and approbation of the Grand Lodge; for in the Constitution of the
United Grand Lodge of England, there is no allusion whatever to this
consent and approbation.
But in this country, the process is somewhat different, and the Grand
Master is deprived of a portion of his prerogative. Here, the instrument
granted by the Grand Master is called a Dispensation. The lodge receiving
it is not admitted into the register of lodges, nor is it considered as
possessing any of the rights and privileges of a lodge, except that of
making Masons, until a Warrant of Constitution is granted by the Grand
Lodge. The ancient prerogative of the Grand Master is, however, preserved
in the fact, that after a lodge has been thus warranted by the Grand
Lodge, the ceremony of constituting it, which embraces its consecration
and the installation of its officers, can only be performed by the Grand
Master in person, or by his special Deputy appointed for that purpose.
III. The third prerogative of the Grand Master is that of visitation. He
has a right to visit any lodge within his jurisdiction at such times as he
pleases, and when there to preside; and it is the duty of the Master to
offer him the chair and his gavel, which the Grand Master may decline or
accept at his pleasure. This prerogative admits of no question, as it is
distinctly declared in the first of the Thirty-nine Regulations, adopted
in 1721, in the following words:--
"The Grand Master or Deputy has full authority and right, not only to be
present, but to preside in every lodge, with the Master of the lodge on
his left hand, and to order his Grand Wardens to attend him, who are not
to act as Wardens of particular lodges, but in his presence and at his
command; for the Grand Master, while in a particular lodge, may command
the Wardens of that lodge, or any other Master Masons, to act as his
Wardens, _pro tempore_."
But in a subsequent regulation it was provided, that as the Grand Master
cannot deprive the Grand Wardens of that office without the consent of the
Grand Lodge, he should appoint no other persons to act as Wardens in his
visitation to a private lodge, unless the Grand Wardens were absent. This
whole regulation is still in existence.
The question has been lately mooted, whether, if the Grand Master declines
to preside, he does not thereby place himself in the position of a
private Brother, and become subject, as all the others present, to the
control of the Worshipful Master. I answer, that of course he becomes
subject to and must of necessity respect those rules of order and decorum
which are obligatory on all good men and Masons; but that he cannot, by
the exercise of an act of courtesy in declining to preside, divest himself
of his prerogative, which, moreover, he may at any time during the evening
assume, and demand the gavel. The Grand Master of Masons can, under no
circumstances, become subject to the decrees and orders of the Master of a
IV. Another prerogative of the Grand Master is that of appointment; which,
however, in this country, has been much diminished. According to the old
regulations, and the custom is still continued in the Constitutions of the
Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Master has the right of appointing his
Deputy and Wardens. In the United States, the office has been shorn of
this high prerogative, and these Officers are elected by the Grand Lodge.
The Deputy, however, is still appointed by the Grand Master, in some of
the States, as Massachusetts, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Texas. The
appointment of the principal subordinate officers, is also given to the
Grand Master by the American Grand Lodges.
V. The last and most extraordinary power of the Grand Master, is that of
_making Masons at sight_.
The power to "make Masons at sight" is a technical term, which may be
defined to be the power to initiate, pass, and raise candidates by the
Grand Master, in a lodge of emergency, or as it is called in the Book of
Constitutions, "an occasional lodge," especially convened by him, and
consisting of such Master Masons as he may call together for that purpose
only--the lodge ceasing to exist as soon as the initiation, passing, or
raising, has been accomplished and the Brethren have been dismissed by the
Whether such a power is vested in the Grand Master, is a question that,
within the last few years, has been agitated with much warmth, by some of
the Grand Lodges of this country; but I am not aware that, until very
lately, the prerogative was ever disputed.
In the Book of Constitutions, however, several instances are furnished of
the exercise of this right by various Grand Masters.
In 1731, Lord Lovel being Grand Master, he "formed an occasional lodge at
Houghton Hall, Sir Robert Walpole's House in Norfolk," and there made the
Duke of Lorraine, afterwards Emperor of Germany, and the Duke of
Newcastle, Master Masons.
I do not quote the case of the initiation, passing, and raising of
Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1737, which was done in "an occasional
lodge," over which Dr. Desaguliers presided, because as Desaguliers
was not the Grand Master, nor even, as has been incorrectly stated by the
New York Committee of Correspondence, Deputy Grand Master, but only a Past
Grand Master, it cannot be called _a making at sight_. He most probably
acted under the dispensation of the Grand Master, who at that time was the
Earl of Darnley.
But in 1766, Lord Blaney, who was then Grand Master, convened "an
occasional lodge" and initiated, passed, and raised the Duke of
Again in 1767, John Salter, the Deputy, then acting as Grand Master,
convened "an occasional lodge," and conferred the three degrees on the
Duke of Cumberland.
In 1787, the Prince of Wales was made a Mason "at an occasional lodge,
convened," says Preston, "for the purpose, at the Star and Garter, Pall
Mall, over which the Duke of Cumberland, (Grand Master) presided in
But it is unnecessary to multiply instances of the right, exercised by
former Grand Masters, of congregating occasional lodges, and making Masons
at sight. It has been said, however, by the oppugners of this prerogative,
that these "occasional lodges" were only special communications of the
Grand Lodge, and the "makings" are thus supposed to have taken place under
the authority of that body, and not of the Grand Master. The facts,
however, do not sustain this position. Throughout the Book of
Constitutions, other meetings, whether regular or special, are distinctly
recorded as meetings of the Grand Lodge, while these "occasional lodges"
appear only to have been convened by the Grand Master, for the purpose of
making Masons. Besides, in many instances, the lodge was held at a
different place from that of the Grand Lodge, and the officers were not,
with the exception of the Grand Master, the officers of the Grand Lodge.
Thus the occasional lodge, which initiated the Duke of Lorraine, was held
at the residence of Sir Robert Walpole, in Norfolk, while the Grand Lodge
always met in London. In 1766, the Grand Lodge held its communications at
the Crown and Anchor; but the occasional lodge, which, in the same year,
conferred the degrees on the Duke of Gloucester, was convened at the Horn
Tavern. In the following year, the lodge which initiated the Duke of
Cumberland was convened at the Thatched House Tavern, the Grand Lodge
continuing to meet at the Crown and Anchor.
This may be considered very conclusive evidence of the existence of the
prerogative of the Grand Master, which we are now discussing, but the
argument _a fortiori_, drawn from his dispensing power, will tend to
confirm the doctrine.
No one doubts or denies the power of the Grand Master to constitute new
lodges by dispensation. In 1741, the Grand Lodge of England forgot it for
a moment, and adopted a new regulation, that no new lodge should be
constituted until the consent of the Grand Lodge had been first obtained,
"But this order, afterwards appearing," says the Book of
Constitutions, "to be an infringement on the prerogative of the Grand
Master, and to be attended with many inconveniences and with damage to the
craft, was repealed."
It is, then, an undoubted prerogative of the Grand Master to constitute
lodges by dispensation, and in these lodges, so constituted, Masons may be
legally entered, passed, and raised. This is done every day. Seven Master
Masons, applying to the Grand Master, he grants them a dispensation, under
authority of which they proceed to open and hold a lodge, and to make
Masons. This lodge is, however, admitted to be the mere creature of the
Grand Master, for it is in his power, at any time, to revoke the
dispensation he had granted, and thus to dissolve the lodge.
But, if the Grand Master has the power thus to enable others to confer the
degrees and make Masons by his individual authority out of his presence,
are we not permitted to argue _a fortiori_ that he has also the right of
congregating seven Brethren and causing a Mason, to be made in his sight?
Can he delegate a power to others which he does not himself possess? And
is his calling together "an occasional lodge," and making, with the
assistance of the Brethren thus assembled, a Mason "at sight," that is to
say, in his presence, anything more or less than the exercise of his
dispensing power, for the establishment of a lodge under dispensation, for
a temporary period, and for a special purpose. The purpose having been
effected, and the Mason having been made, he revokes his dispensation, and
the lodge is dismissed. If we assumed any other ground than this, we
should be compelled to say, that though the Grand Master might authorise
others to make Masons, when he was absent, as in the usual case of lodges
under dispensation yet the instant that he attempted to convey the same
powers to be exercised in his presence, and under his personal
supervision, his authority would cease. This course of reasoning would
necessarily lead to a contradiction in terms, if not to an actual
It is proper to state, in conclusion, that the views here set forth are
not entertained by the very able Committee of Foreign Correspondence of
the Grand Lodge of Florida, who only admit the power of the Grand Master
to make Masons in the Grand Lodge. On the other hand, the Grand Lodge of
Wisconsin, at its last communication, adopted a report, asserting "that
the Grand Master has the right to make Masons at sight, in cases which he
may deem proper"--and the Committee of Correspondence of New York
declares, that "since the time when the memory of man runneth not to the
contrary, Grand Masters have enjoyed the privilege of making Masons at
sight, without any preliminaries, and at any suitable time or place."
The opinions of the two last quoted Grand Lodges embody the general
sentiment of the Craft on this subject. But although the prerogative
is thus almost universally ceded to Grand Masters, there are many very
reasonable doubts as to the expediency of its exercise, except under
extraordinary circumstances of emergency.
In England, the practice has generally been confined to the making of
Princes of the Royal Family, who, for reasons of state, were unwilling to
reduce themselves to the level of ordinary candidates and receive their
initiation publicly in a subordinate lodge.
But in the exercise of this prerogative, the Grand Master cannot dispense
with any of the requisite forms of initiation, prescribed by the oral laws
of the Order. He cannot communicate the degrees, but must adhere to all
the established ceremonies--the conferring of degrees by "communication"
being a form unknown to the York rite. He must be assisted by the number
of Brethren necessary to open and hold a lodge. Due inquiry must be made
into the candidate's character, (though the Grand Master may, as in a case
of emergency, dispense with the usual probation of a month). He cannot
interfere with the business of a regular lodge, by making one whom it had
rejected, nor finishing one which it had commenced. Nor can he confer the
three degrees, at one and the same communication. In short, he must, in
making Masons at sight, conform to the ancient usages and landmarks of the
_The Deputy Grand Master._
The office of Deputy Grand Master is one of great dignity, but not of much
practical importance, except in case of the absence of the Grand Master,
when he assumes all the prerogatives of that officer. Neither is the
office, comparatively speaking, of a very ancient date. At the first
reorganization of the Grand Lodge in 1717, and for two or three years
afterwards, no Deputy was appointed, and it was not until 1721 that the
Duke of Montagu conferred the dignity on Dr. Beal. Originally the Deputy
was intended to relieve the Grand Master of all the burden and pressure of
business, and the 36th of the Regulations, adopted in 1721, states that "a
Deputy is said to have been always needful when the Grand Master was nobly
born," because it was considered as a derogation from the dignity of a
nobleman to enter upon the ordinary business of the craft. Hence we find,
among the General Regulations, one which sets forth this principle in the
"The Grand Master should not receive any private intimations of business,
concerning Masons and Masonry, but from his Deputy first, except in such
cases as his worship can easily judge of; and if the application to the
Grand Master be irregular, his worship can order the Grand Wardens, or any
other so applying, to wait upon the Deputy, who is immediately to prepare
the business, and to lay it orderly before his worship."
The Deputy Grand Master exercises, in the absence of the Grand Master, all
the prerogatives and performs all the duties of that officer. But he does
so, not by virtue of any new office that he has acquired by such absence,
but simply in the name of and as the representative of the Grand Master,
from whom alone he derives all his authority. Such is the doctrine
sustained in all the precedents recorded in the Book of Constitutions.
In the presence of the Grand Master, the office of Deputy is merely one of
honour, without the necessity of performing any duties, and without the
power of exercising any prerogatives.
There cannot be more than one Deputy Grand Master in a jurisdiction; so
that the appointment of a greater number, as is the case in some of the
States, is a manifest innovation on the ancient usages. District Deputy
Grand Masters, which officers are also a modern invention of this
country, seem to take the place in some degree of the Provincial Grand
Masters of England, but they are not invested with the same prerogatives.
The office is one of local origin, and its powers and duties are
prescribed by the local regulations of the Grand Lodge which may have
_Of the Grand Wardens._
The Senior and Junior Grand Wardens were originally appointed, like the
Deputy, by the Grand Master, and are still so appointed in England; but in
this country they are universally elected by the Grand Lodge. Their duties
do not materially differ from those performed by the corresponding
officers in a subordinate lodge. They accompany the Grand Master in his
visitations, and assume the stations of the Wardens of the lodge visited.
According to the regulations of 1721, the Master of the oldest lodge
present was directed to take the chair of the Grand Lodge in the absence
of both the Grand Master and Deputy; but this was found to be an
interference with the rights of the Grand Wardens, and it was therefore
subsequently declared that, in the absence of the Grand Master and Deputy,
the last former Grand Master or Deputy should preside. But if no Past
Grand or Past Deputy Grand Master should be present, then the Senior Grand
Warden was to fill the chair, and, in his absence, the Junior Grand
Warden, and lastly, in absence of both these, then the oldest
Freemason who is the present Master of a lodge. In this country,
however, most of the Grand Lodges have altered this regulation, and the
Wardens succeed according to seniority to the chair of the absent Grand
Master and Deputy, in preference to any Past Grand Officer.
_Of the Grand Treasurer._
The office of Grand Treasurer was first established in 1724, in
consequence of a report of the Committee of Charity of the Grand Lodge of
England. But no one was found to hold the trust until the 24th of June,
1727, when, at the request of the Grand Master, the appointment was
accepted by Nathaniel Blackerby, Deputy Grand Master. The duties of the
office do not at all differ from those of a corresponding one in every
other society; but as the trust is an important one in a pecuniary view,
it has generally been deemed prudent that it should only be committed to
"a brother of good worldly substance," whose ample means would place him
beyond the chances of temptation.
The office of Grand Treasurer has this peculiarity, that while all the
other officers below the Grand Master were originally, and still are in
England, appointed, that alone was always elective.
_Of the Grand Secretary._
This is one of the most important offices in the Grand Lodge, and should
always be occupied by a Brother of intelligence and education, whose
abilities may reflect honor on the institution of which he is the
accredited public organ. The office was established in the year 1723,
during the Grand Mastership of the Duke of Wharton, previous to which
time the duties appear to have been discharged by the Grand Wardens.
The Grand Secretary not only records the proceedings of the Grand Lodge,
but conducts its correspondence, and is the medium through whom all
applications on masonic subjects are to be made to the Grand Master, or
the Grand Lodge.
According to the regulations of the Grand Lodges of England, New York and
South Carolina, the Grand Secretary may appoint an assistant, who is not,
however, by virtue of such appointment, a member of the Grand Lodge. The
same privilege is also extended in South Carolina to the Grand Treasurer.
_Of the Grand Chaplain._
This is the last of the Grand Offices that was established, having been
instituted on the 1st of May, in the year 1775. The duties are confined to
the reading of prayers, and other sacred portions of the ritual, in
consecrations, dedications, funeral services, etc. The office confers no
masonic authority at all, except that of a seat and a vote in the Grand
_Of the Grand Deacons._
But little need be said of the Grand Deacons. Their duties correspond to
those of the same officers in subordinate lodges. The office of the
Deacons, even in a subordinate lodge, is of comparatively modern
institution. Dr. Oliver remarks that they are not mentioned in any of the
early Constitutions of Masonry, nor even so late as 1797, when Stephen
Jones wrote his "Masonic Miscellanies," and he thinks it "satisfactorily
proved that Deacons were not considered necessary, in working the business
of a lodge, before the very latter end of the eighteenth century."
But although the Deacons are not mentioned in the various works published
previous to that period, which are quoted by Dr. Oliver, it is
nevertheless certain that the office existed at a time much earlier than
that which he supposes. In a work in my possession, and which is now lying
before me, entitled "Every Young Man's Companion, etc., by W. Gordon,
Teacher of the Mathematics," sixth edition printed at London, in 1777,
there is a section, extending from page 413 to page 426, which is
dedicated to the subject of Freemasonry and to a description of the
working of a subordinate lodge. Here the Senior and Junior Deacons are
enumerated among the officers, their exact positions described and their
duties detailed, differing in no respect from the explanations of our own
ritual at the present day. The positive testimony of this book must of
course outweigh the negative testimony of the authorities quoted by
Oliver, and shows the existence in England of Deacons in the year 1777 at
It is also certain that the office of Deacon claims an earlier origin in
America than the "very latter end of the eighteenth century;" and, as an
evidence of this, it may be stated that, in the "Ahiman Rezon" of
Pennsylvania, published in 1783, the Grand Deacons are named among the
officers of the Grand Lodge, "as particular assistants to the Grand
Master and Senior Warden, in conducting the business of the Lodge." They
are to be found in all Grand Lodges of the York Rite, and are usually
appointed, the Senior by the Grand Master, and the Junior by the Senior
_Of the Grand Marshal._
The _Grand Marshal_, as an officer of convenience, existed from an early
period. We find him mentioned in the procession of the Grand Lodge, made
in 1731, where he is described as carrying "a truncheon, blue, tipped with
gold," insignia which he still retains. He takes no part in the usual work
of the Lodge; but his duties are confined to the proclamation of the Grand
Officers at their installation, and to the arrangement and superintendence
of public processions.
The Grand Marshal is usually appointed by the Grand Master.
_Of the Grand Stewards._
The first mention that is made of Stewards is in the Old Regulations,
adopted in 1721. Previous to that time, the arrangements of the Grand
Feast were placed in the hands of the Grand Wardens; and it was to relieve
them of this labor that the regulation was adopted, authorizing the Grand
Master, or his Deputy, to appoint a certain number of Stewards, who were
to act in concert with the Grand Wardens. In 1728, it was ordered that the
number of Stewards to be appointed should be twelve. In 1731, a regulation
was adopted, permitting the Grand Stewards to appoint their successors.
And, in 1735, the Grand Lodge ordered, that, "in consideration of their
past service and future usefulness," they should be constituted a Lodge of
Masters, to be called the Stewards' Lodge, which should have a registry in
the Grand Lodge list, and exercise the privilege of sending twelve
representatives. This was the origin of that body now known in the
Constitutions of the Grand Lodges of England and New York, as the
Grand Stewards' Lodge, although it has been very extensively modified in
its organization. In New York, it is now no more than a Standing Committee
of the Grand Lodge; and in England, although it is regularly constituted,
as a Lodge of Master Masons, it is by a special regulation deprived of all
power of entering, passing, or raising Masons. In other jurisdictions, the
office of Grand Stewards is still preserved, but their functions are
confined to their original purpose of preparing and superintending the
The appointment of the Grand Stewards should be most appropriately vested
in the Junior Grand Warden.
_Of the Grand Sword-Bearer._
_Grand Sword-Bearer._--It was an ancient feudal custom, that all great
dignitaries should have a sword of state borne before them, as the
insignia of their dignity. This usage has to this day been preserved in
the Masonic Institution, and the Grand Master's sword of state is still
borne in all public processions by an officer specially appointed for that
purpose. Some years after the reorganization of the Grand Lodge of
England, the sword was borne by the Master of the Lodge to which it
belonged; but, in 1730, the Duke of Norfolk, being then Grand Master,
presented to the Grand Lodge the sword of Gustavus Adolphus, King of
Sweden, which had afterwards been used in war by Bernard, Duke of Saxe
Weimar, and which the Grand Master directed should thereafter be adopted
as his sword of state. In consequence of this donation, the office of
Grand Sword-Bearer was instituted in the following year. The office is
still retained; but some Grand Lodges have changed the name to that of
_Of the Grand Tiler._
It is evident from the Constitutions of Masonry, as well as from the
peculiar character of the institution, that the office of Grand Tiler must
have existed from the very first organization of a Grand Lodge. As, from
the nature of the duties that he has to perform, the Grand Tiler is
necessarily excluded from partaking of the discussions, or witnessing the
proceedings of the Grand Lodge, it has very generally been determined,
from a principle of expediency, that he shall not be a member of the Grand
Lodge during the term of his office.
The Grand Tiler is sometimes elected by the Grand Lodge, and sometimes
appointed by the Grand Master.
Of the Powers and Prerogatives of a Grand Lodge.
The necessary and usual officers of a Grand Lodge having been described,
the rights, powers, and prerogatives of such a body is the next subject of
The foundation-stone, upon which the whole superstructure of masonic
authority in the Grand Lodge is built, is to be found in that conditional
clause annexed to the thirty-eight articles, adopted in 1721 by the Masons
of England, and which is in these words:
"Every annual Grand Lodge has an inherent power and authority to make new
regulations, or to alter these for the real benefit of this ancient
fraternity; PROVIDED ALWAYS THAT THE OLD LANDMARKS BE CAREFULLY
PRESERVED; and that such alterations and new regulations be proposed and
agreed to at the third quarterly communication preceding the annual Grand
Feast; and that they be offered also to the perusal of all the Brethren
before dinner, in writing, even of the youngest Entered Apprentice: the
approbation and consent of the majority of all the Brethren present being
absolutely necessary, to make the same binding and obligatory."
The expression which is put in capitals--"provided always that the old
landmarks be carefully preserved"--is the limiting clause which must be
steadily borne in mind, whenever we attempt to enumerate the powers of a
Grand Lodge. It must never be forgotten (in the words of another
regulation, adopted in 1723, and incorporated in the ritual of
installation), that "it is not in the power of any man, or body of men, to
make any alteration or innovation in the body of Masonry."
"With these views to limit us, the powers of a Grand Lodge may be
enumerated in the language which has been adopted in the modern
constitutions of England, and which seem to us, after a careful
comparison, to be as comprehensive and correct as any that we have been
able to examine. This enumeration is in the following language:
"In the Grand Lodge, alone, resides the power of enacting laws and
regulations for the permanent government of the craft, and of altering,
repealing, and abrogating them, always taking care that the ancient
landmarks of the order are preserved. The Grand Lodge has also the
inherent power of investigating, regulating, and deciding all matters
relative to the craft, or to particular lodges, or to individual Brothers,
which it may exercise either of itself, or by such delegated authority, as
in its wisdom and discretion it may appoint; but in the Grand Lodge alone
resides the power of erasing lodges, and expelling Brethren from the
craft, a power which it ought not to delegate to any subordinate authority
In this enumeration we discover the existence of three distinct classes of
powers:--1, a legislative power; 2, a judicial power; and 3, an executive
power. Each of these will occupy a separate section.
_Of the Legislative Power of a Grand Lodge._
In the passage already quoted from the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of
England it is said, "in the Grand Lodge, alone, resides the power of
enacting laws and regulations for the government of the craft, and of
altering, repealing, and abrogating them." General regulations for the
government of the whole craft throughout the world can no longer be
enacted by a Grand Lodge. The multiplication of these bodies, since the
year 1717, has so divided the supremacy that no regulation now enacted can
have the force and authority of those adopted by the Grand Lodge of
England in 1721, and which now constitute a part of the fundamental law of
Masonry, and as such are unchangeable by any modern Grand Lodge.
Any Grand Lodge may, however, enact local laws for the direction of its
own special affairs, and has also the prerogative of enacting the
regulations which are to govern all its subordinates and the craft
generally in its own jurisdiction. From this legislative power, which
belongs exclusively to the Grand Lodge, it follows that no subordinate
lodge can make any new bye-laws, nor alter its old ones, without the
approval and confirmation of the Grand Lodge. Hence, the rules and
regulations of every lodge are inoperative until they are submitted to and
approved by the Grand Lodge. The confirmation of that body is the enacting
clause; and, therefore, strictly speaking, it may be said that the
subordinates only propose the bye-laws, and the Grand Lodge enacts them.
_Of the Judicial Power of a Grand Lodge._
The passage already quoted from the English Constitutions continues to
say, that "the Grand Lodge has the inherent power of investigating,
regulating and deciding all matters relative to the craft, or to
particular lodges, or to individual Brothers, which it may exercise,
either of itself, or by such delegated authority as in its wisdom and
discretion it may appoint." Under the first clause of this section, the
Grand Lodge is constituted as the Supreme Masonic Tribunal of its
jurisdiction. But as it would be impossible for that body to investigate
every masonic offense that occurs within its territorial limits, with that
full and considerate attention that the principles of justice require, it
has, under the latter clause of the section, delegated this duty, in
general, to the subordinate lodges, who are to act as its committees, and
to report the results of their inquiry for its final disposition. From
this course of action has risen the erroneous opinion of some persons,
that the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge is only appellate in its
character. Such is not the case. The Grand Lodge possesses an original
jurisdiction over all causes occurring within its limits. It is only for
expediency that it remits the examination of the merits of any case to a
subordinate lodge as a _quasi_ committee. It may, if it thinks proper,
commence the investigation of any matter concerning either a lodge, or an
individual brother within its own bosom, and whenever an appeal from the
decision of a lodge is made, which, in reality, is only a dissent from the
report of the lodge, the Grand Lodge does actually recommence the
investigation _de novo_, and, taking the matter out of the lodge, to whom
by its general usage it had been primarily referred, it places it in the
hands of another committee of its own body for a new report. The course of
action is, it is true, similar to that in law, of an appeal from an
inferior to a superior tribunal. But the principle is different. The Grand
Lodge simply confirms or rejects the report that has been made to it, and
it may do that without any appeal having been entered. It may, in fact,
dispense with the necessity of an investigation by and report from a
subordinate lodge altogether, and undertake the trial itself from the
very inception. But this, though a constitutional, is an unusual course.
The subordinate lodge is the instrument which the Grand Lodge employs in
considering the investigation. It may or it may not make use of the
instrument, as it pleases.
_Of the Executive Power of a Grand Lodge._
The English Constitutions conclude, in the passage that has formed the
basis of our previous remarks, by asserting that "in the Grand Lodge,
alone, resides the power of erasing lodges and expelling Brethren from the
craft, a power which it ought not to delegate to any subordinate
authority." The power of the Grand Lodge to erase lodges is accompanied
with a coincident power of constituting new lodges. This power it
originally shared with the Grand Master, and still does in England; but in
this country the power of the Grand Lodge is paramount to that of the
Grand Master. The latter can only constitute lodges temporarily, by
dispensation, and his act must be confirmed, or may be annulled by the
Grand Lodge. It is not until a lodge has received its Warrant of
Constitution from the Grand Lodge, that it can assume the rank and
exercise the prerogatives of a regular and legal lodge.
The expelling power is one that is very properly intrusted to the Grand
Lodge, which is the only tribunal that should impose a penalty affecting
the relations of the punished party with the whole fraternity. Some of the
lodges in this country have claimed the right to expel independently of
the action of the Grand Lodge. But the claim is founded on an erroneous
assumption of powers that have never existed, and which are not recognized
by the ancient constitutions, nor the general usages of the fraternity. A
subordinate lodge tries its delinquent member, under the provisions which
have already been stated, and, according to the general usage of lodges in
the United States, declares him expelled. But the sentence is of no force
nor effect until it has been confirmed by the Grand Lodge, which may, or
may not, give the required confirmation, and which, indeed, often refuses
to do so, but actually reverses the sentence. It is apparent, from the
views already expressed on the judicial powers of the Grand Lodge, that
the sentence of expulsion uttered by the subordinate is to be taken in
the sense of a recommendatory report, and that it is the confirmation and
adoption of that report by the Grand Lodge that alone gives it vitality
The expelling power presumes, of course, coincidently, the reinstating
power. As the Grand Lodge alone can expel, it also alone can reinstate.
These constitute the general powers and prerogatives of a Grand Lodge. Of
course there are other local powers, assumed by various Grand Lodges, and
differing in the several jurisdictions, but they are all derived from some
one of the three classes that we have enumerated. From these views, it
will appear that a Grand Lodge is the supreme legislative, judicial, and
executive authority of the Masonic jurisdiction in which it is situated.
It is, to use a feudal term, "the lord paramount" in Masonry. It is a
representative body, in which, however, it constituents have delegated
everything and reserved no rights to themselves. Its authority is almost
unlimited, for it is restrained by but a single check:--_It cannot alter
or remove the ancient landmarks_.
Laws of Subordinate Lodges.
Having thus succinctly treated of the law in relation to Grand Lodges, I
come next in order to consider the law as it respects the organization,
rights, powers, and privileges of subordinate Lodges; and the first
question that will engage our attention will be, as to the proper method
of organizing a Lodge.
Of the Nature and Organization of Subordinate Lodges.
The old charges define a Lodge to be "a place where Masons assemble and
work;" and also "that assembly, or duly organized society of Masons." The
lecture on the first degree gives a still more precise definition. It says
that "a lodge is an assemblage of Masons, duly congregated, having the
Holy Bible, square, and compasses, and a charter, or warrant of
constitution, empowering them to work."
Every lodge of Masons requires for its proper organization, that it should
have been congregated by the permission of some superior authority, which
may be either a Grand Master or a Grand Lodge. When a lodge is organized
by the authority of a Grand Master, it is said to work under a
Dispensation, and when by the authority of a Grand Lodge, it is said to
work under a warrant of constitution. In the history of a lodge, the
former authority generally precedes the latter, the lodge usually working
for some time under the dispensation of the Grand Master, before it is
regularly warranted by the Grand Lodge. But this is not necessarily the
case. A Grand Lodge will sometimes grant a warrant of constitution at
once, without the previous exercise, on the part of the Grand Master, of
his dispensing power. As it is, however, more usually the practice for the
dispensation to precede the warrant of constitution, I shall explain the
formation of a lodge according to that method.
Any number of Master Masons, not under seven, being desirous of uniting
themselves into a lodge, apply by petition to the Grand Master for the
necessary authority. This petition must set forth that they now are, or
have been, members of a regularly constituted lodge, and must assign, as a
reason for their application, that they desire to form the lodge "for the
conveniency of their respective dwellings," or some other sufficient
reason. The petition must also name the brethren whom they desire to act
as their Master and Wardens, and the place where they intend to meet; and
it must be recommended by the nearest lodge.
Dalcho says that not less than three Master Masons should sign the
petition; but in this he differs from all the other authorities, which
require not less than seven. This rule, too, seems to be founded in
reason; for, as it requires seven Masons to constitute a quorum for
opening and holding a lodge of Entered Apprentices, it would be absurd to
authorize a smaller number to organize a lodge which, after its
organization, could not be opened, nor make Masons in that degree.
Preston says that the petition must be recommended "by the Masters of
three regular lodges adjacent to the place where the new lodge is to be
held." Dalcho says it must be recommended "by three other known and
approved Master Masons," but does not make any allusion to any adjacent
lodge. The laws and regulations of the Grand Lodge of Scotland require the
recommendation to be signed "by the Masters and officers of two of the
nearest lodges." The Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of England require
that it must be recommended "by the officers of some regular lodge." The
recommendation of a neighboring lodge is the general usage of the craft,
and is intended to certify to the superior authority, on the very best
evidence that can be obtained, that, namely, of an adjacent lodge, that
the new lodge will be productive of no injury to the Order.
If this petition be granted, the Grand Secretary prepares a document
called a _dispensation_, which authorizes the officers named in the
petition to open and hold a lodge, and to "enter, pass, and raise
Freemasons." The duration of this dispensasation is generally expressed on
its face to be, "until it shall be revoked by the Grand Master or the
Grand Lodge, or until a warrant of constitution is granted by the Grand
Lodge." Preston says, that the Brethren named in it are authorized "to
assemble as Masons for forty days, and until such time as a warrant of
constitution can be obtained by command of the Grand Lodge, or that
authority be recalled." But generally, usage continues the dispensation
only until the next meeting of the Grand Lodge, when it is either revoked,
or a warrant of constitution granted.
If the dispensation be revoked by either the Grand Master or the Grand
Lodge (for either has the power to do so), the lodge of course at once
ceases to exist. Whatever funds or property it has accumulated revert, as
in the case of all extinct lodges, to the Grand Lodge, which may be called
the natural heir of its subordinates; but all the work done in the lodge,
under the dispensation, is regular and legal, and all the Masons made by
it are, in every sense of the term, "true and lawful Brethren."
Let it be supposed, however, that the dispensation is confirmed or
approved by the Grand Lodge, and we thus arrive at another step in the
history of the new lodge. At the next sitting of the Grand Lodge, after
the dispensation has been issued by the Grand Master, he states that fact
to the Grand Lodge, when, either at his request, or on motion of some
Brother, the vote is taken on the question of constituting the new lodge,
and, if a majority are in favor of it, the Grand Secretary is ordered to
grant a warrant of constitution.
This instrument differs from a dispensation in many important particulars.
It is signed by all the Grand Officers, and emanates from the Grand Lodge,
while the dispensation emanates from the office of the Grand Master, and
is signed by him alone. The authority of the dispensation is temporary,
that of the warrant permanent; the one can be revoked at pleasure by the
Grand Master, who granted it; the other only for cause shown, and by the
Grand Lodge; the one bestows only a name, the other both a name and a
number; the one confers only the power of holding a lodge and making
Masons, the other not only confers these powers, but also those of
installation and of succession in office. From these differences in the
characters of the two documents, arise important differences in the powers
and privileges of a lodge under dispensation and of one that has been
regularly constituted. These differences shall hereafter be considered.
The warrant having been granted, there still remain certain forms and
ceremonies to be observed, before the lodge can take its place among the
legal and registered lodges of the jurisdiction in which it is situated.
These are its consecration, its dedication, its constitution, and the
installation of its officers. We shall not fully enter into a description
of these various ceremonies, because they are laid down at length in all
the Monitors, and are readily accessible to our readers. It will be
sufficient if we barely allude to their character.
The ceremony of constitution is so called, because by it the lodge becomes
constituted or established. Orthoepists define the verb to constitute, as
signifying "to give a formal existence to anything." Hence, to constitute
a lodge is to give it existence, character, and standing as such; and the
instrument that warrants the person so constituting or establishing it, in
this act, is very properly called the "warrant of constitution."
The consecration, dedication, and constitution of a lodge must be
performed by the Grand Master in person; or, if he cannot conveniently
attend, by some Past Master appointed by him as his special proxy or
representative for that purpose. On the appointed evening, the Grand
Master, accompanied by his Grand Officers, repairs to the place where the
new lodge is to hold its meetings, the lodge having been placed in the
centre of the room and decently covered with a piece of white linen or
satin. Having taken the chair, he examines the records of the lodge and
the warrant of constitution; the officers who have been chosen are
presented before him, when he inquires of the Brethren if they continue
satisfied with the choice they have made. The ceremony of consecration is
then performed. The Lodge is uncovered; and corn, wine, and oil--the
masonic elements of consecration--are poured upon it, accompanied by
appropriate prayers and invocations, and the lodge is finally declared to
be consecrated to the honor and glory of God.
This ceremony of consecration has been handed down from the remotest
antiquity. A consecrating--a separating from profane things, and making
holy or devoting to sacred purposes--was practiced by both the Jews and
the Pagans in relation to their temples, their altars, and all their
sacred utensils. The tabernacle, as soon as it was completed, was
consecrated to God by the unction of oil. Among the Pagan nations, the
consecration of their temples was often performed with the most sumptuous
offerings and ceremonies; but oil was, on all occasions, made use of as an
element of the consecration. The lodge is, therefore, consecrated to
denote that henceforth it is to be set apart as an asylum sacred to the
cultivation of the great masonic principles of Friendship, Morality, and
Brotherly Love. Thenceforth it becomes to the conscientious Mason a place
worthy of his reverence; and he is tempted, as he passes over its
threshold, to repeat the command given to Moses: "Put off thy shoes from
off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."
The corn, wine, and oil are appropriately adopted as the Masonic elements
of consecration, because of the symbolic signification which they present
to the mind of the Mason. They are enumerated by David as among the
greatest blessings which we receive from the bounty of Divine Providence.
They were annually offered by the ancients as the first fruits, in a
thank-offering for the gifts of the earth; and as representatives of "the
corn of nourishment, the wine of refreshment, and the oil of joy," they
symbolically instruct the Mason that to the Grand Master of the Universe
he is indebted for the "health, peace, and plenty" that he enjoys.
After the consecration of the lodge, follows its dedication. This is a
simple ceremony, and principally consists in the pronunciation of a
formula of words by which the lodge is declared to be dedicated to the
holy Saints John, followed by an invocation that "every Brother may revere
their character and imitate their virtues."
Masonic tradition tells us that our ancient Brethren dedicated their
lodges to King Solomon, because he was their first Most Excellent Grand
Master; but that modern Masons dedicate theirs to St. John the Baptist and
St. John the Evangelist, because they were two eminent patrons of Masonry.
A more appropriate selection of patrons to whom to dedicate the lodge,
could not easily have been made; since St. John the Baptist, by
announcing the approach of Christ, and by the mystical ablution to which
he subjected his proselytes, and which was afterwards adopted in the
ceremony of initiation into Christianity, might well be considered as the
Grand Hierophant of the Church; while the mysterious and emblematic nature
of the Apocalypse assimilated the mode of teaching adopted by St. John the
Evangelist to that practiced by the fraternity. Our Jewish Brethren
usually dedicate their lodges to King Solomon, thus retaining their
ancient patron, although they thereby lose the benefit of that portion of
the Lectures which refers to the "lines parallel." The Grand Lodge of
England, at the union in 1813, agreed to dedicate to Solomon and Moses,
applying the parallels to the framer of the tabernacle and the builder of
the temple; but they have no warranty for this in ancient usage, and it is
unfortunately not the only innovation on the ancient landmarks that that
Grand Lodge has lately permitted.
The ceremony of dedication, like that of consecration, finds its archetype
in the remotest antiquity. The Hebrews made no use of any new thing until
they had first solemnly dedicated it. This ceremony was performed in
relation even to private houses, as we may learn from the book of
Deuteronomy. The 30th Psalm is a song said to have been made by David
on the dedication of the altar which he erected on the threshing-floor of
Ornan the Jebusite, after the grievous plague which had nearly devastated
the kingdom. Solomon, it will be recollected, dedicated the temple with
solemn ceremonies, prayers, and thank-offerings. The ceremony of
dedication is, indeed, alluded to in various portions of the Scriptures.
Selden says that among the Jews sacred things were both dedicated and
consecrated; but that profane things, such as private houses, etc., were
simply dedicated, without consecration. The same writer informs us that
the Pagans borrowed the custom of consecrating and dedicating their sacred
edifices, altars, and images, from the Hebrews.
The Lodge having been thus consecrated to the solemn objects of
Freemasonry, and dedicated to the patrons of the institution, it is at
length prepared to be constituted. The ceremony of constitution is then
performed by the Grand Master, who, rising from his seat, pronounces the
following formulary of constitution:
"In the name of the most Worshipful Grand Lodge, I now constitute and form
you, my beloved Brethren, into a regular lodge of Free and Accepted
Masons. From this time forth, I empower you to meet as a regular lodge,
constituted in conformity to the rites of our Order, and the charges of
our ancient and honorable fraternity;--and may the Supreme Architect of
the Universe prosper, direct, and counsel you, in all your doings."
This ceremony places the lodge among the registered lodges of the
jurisdiction in which it is situated, and gives it a rank and standing and
permanent existence that it did not have before. In one word, it has, by
the consecration, dedication, and constitution, become what we technically
term "a just and legally constituted lodge," and, as such, is entitled to
certain rights and privileges, of which we shall hereafter speak. Still,
however, although the lodge has been thus fully and completely organized,
its officers have as yet no legal existence. To give them this, it is
necessary that they be inducted into their respective offices, and each
officer solemnly bound to the faithful performance of the duties he has
undertaken to discharge. This constitutes the ceremony of installation.
The Worshipful Master of the new lodge is required publicly to submit to
the ancient charges; and then all, except Past Masters, having retired, he
is invested with the Past Master's degree, and inducted into the oriental
chair of King Solomon. The Brethren are then introduced, and due homage is
paid to their new Master, after which the other officers are obligated to
the faithful discharge of their respective trusts, invested with their
insignia of office, and receive the appropriate charge. This ceremony must
be repeated at every annual election and change of officers.
The ancient rule was, that when the Grand Master and his officers attended
to constitute a new lodge, the Deputy Grand Master invested the new
Master, the Grand Wardens invested the new Wardens, and the Grand
Treasurer and Grand Secretary invested the Treasurer and Secretary. But
this regulation has become obsolete, and the whole installation and
investiture are now performed by the Grand Master. On the occasion of
subsequent installations, the retiring Master installs his successor; and
the latter installs his subordinate officers.
The ceremony of installation is derived from the ancient custom of
inauguration, of which we find repeated instances in the sacred as well as
profane writings. Aaron was inaugurated, or installed, by the unction of
oil, and placing on him the vestments of the High Priest; and every
succeeding High Priest was in like manner installed, before he was
considered competent to discharge the duties of his office. Among the
Romans, augurs, priests, kings, and, in the times of the republic, consuls
were always inaugurated or installed. And hence, Cicero, who was an augur,
speaking of Hortensius, says, "it was he who installed me as a member of
the college of augurs, so that I was bound by the constitution of the
order to respect and honour him as a parent." The object and intention
of the ancient inauguration and the Masonic installation are precisely the
same, namely, that of setting apart and consecrating a person to the
duties of a certain office.
The ceremonies, thus briefly described, were not always necessary to
legalize a congregation of Masons. Until the year 1717, the custom of
confining the privileges of Masonry, by a warrant of constitution, to
certain individuals, was wholly unknown. Previous to that time, a
requisite number of Master Masons were authorized by the ancient charges
to congregate together, temporarily, at their own discretion, and as best
suited their convenience, and then and there to open and hold lodges and
make Masons; making, however, their return, and paying their tribute to
the General Assembly, to which all the fraternity annually repaired, and
by whose awards the craft were governed.
Preston, speaking of this ancient privilege, says: "A sufficient number of
Masons met together within a certain district, with the consent of the
sheriff or chief magistrate of the place, were empowered at this time to
make Masons and practice the rights of Masonry, without a warrant of
constitution." This privilege, Preston says, was inherent in them as
individuals, and continued to be enjoyed by the old lodges, which formed
the Grand Lodge in 1717, as long as they were in existence.
But on the 24th June, 1717, the Grand Lodge of England adopted the
following regulation: "That the privilege of assembling as Masons, which
had hitherto been unlimited, should be vested in certain lodges or
assemblies of Masons, convened in certain places; and that every lodge to
be hereafter convened, except the four old lodges at this time existing,
should be legally authorized to act by a warrant from the Grand Master for
the time being, granted to certain individuals by petition, with the
consent and approbation of the Grand Lodge in communication; and that,
without such warrant, no lodge should be hereafter deemed regular or
This regulation has ever since continued in force, and it is the original
law under which warrants of constitution are now granted by Grand Lodges
for the organization of their subordinates.
Of Lodges under Dispensation.
It is evident, from what has already been said, that there are two kinds
of lodges, each regular in itself, but each peculiar and distinct in its
character. There are lodges working under a dispensation, and lodges
working under a warrant of constitution. Each of these will require a
separate consideration. The former will be the subject of the present
A lodge working under a dispensation is a merely temporary body,
originated for a special purpose, and is therefore possessed of very
circumscribed powers. The dispensation, or authority under which it acts,
expressly specifies that the persons to whom it is given are allowed to
congregate that they may "admit, enter, pass, and raise Freemasons;" no
other powers are conferred either by words or implication, and, indeed,
sometimes the dispensation states, that that congregation is to be "with
the sole intent and view, that the Brethren so congregated, admitted,
entered, and made, when they become a sufficient number, may be duly
warranted and constituted for being and holding a regular lodge."
A lodge under dispensation is simply the creature of the Grand Master. To
him it is indebted for its existence, and on his will depends the duration
of that existence. He may at any time revoke the dispensation, and the
dissolution of the lodge would be the instant result. Hence a lodge
working under a dispensation can scarcely, with strict technical
propriety, be called a lodge; it is, more properly speaking, a
congregation of Masons, acting as the proxy of the Grand Master.
With these views of the origin and character of lodges under dispensation,
we will be better prepared to understand the nature and extent of the
powers which they possess.
A lodge under dispensation can make no bye-laws. It is governed, during
its temporary existence, by the general Constitutions of the Order and the
rules and regulations of the Grand Lodge in whose jurisdiction it is
situated. In fact, as the bye-laws of no lodge are operative until they
are confirmed by the Grand Lodge, and as a lodge working under a
dispensation ceases to exist as such as soon as the Grand Lodge meets, it
is evident that it would be absurd to frame a code of laws which would
have no efficacy, for want of proper confirmation, and which, when the
time and opportunity for confirmation had arrived, would be needless, as
the society for which they were framed would then have no legal
existence--a new body (the warranted lodge) having taken its place.
A lodge under dispensation cannot elect officers. The Master and Wardens
are nominated by the Brethren, and, if this nomination is approved, they
are appointed by the Grand Master. In giving them permission to meet and
make Masons, he gave them no power to do anything else. A dispensation is
itself a setting aside of the law, and an exception to a general
principle; it must, therefore, be construed literally. What is not granted
in express terms, is not granted at all. And, therefore, as nothing is
said of the election of officers, no such election can be held. The Master
may, however, and always does for convenience, appoint a competent
Brother to keep a record of the proceedings; but this is a temporary
appointment, at the pleasure of the Master, whose deputy or assistant he
is; for the Grand Lodge looks only to the Master for the records, and the
office is not legally recognized. In like manner, he may depute a trusty
Brother to take charge of the funds, and must, of course, from time to
time, appoint the deacons and tiler for the necessary working of the
As there can be no election, neither can there be any installation, which,
of course, always presumes a previous election for a determinate period.
Besides, the installation of officers is a part of the ceremony of
constitution, and therefore not even the Master and Wardens of a lodge
under dispensation are entitled to be thus solemnly inducted into office.
A lodge under dispensation can elect no members. The Master and Wardens,
who are named in the dispensation, are, in point of fact, the only persons
recognized as constituting the lodge. To them is granted the privilege, as
proxies of the Grand Master, of making Masons; and for this purpose they
are authorized to congregate a sufficient number of Brethren to assist
them in the ceremonies. But neither the Master and Wardens, nor the
Brethren, thus congregated have received any power of electing members.
Nor are the persons made in a lodge under dispensation, to be considered
as members of the lodge; for, as has already been shown, they have none of
the rights and privileges which attach to membership--they can neither
make bye-laws nor elect officers. They, however, become members of the
lodge as soon as it receives its warrant of constitution.
Of Lodges Working under a Warrant of Constitution.
_Of the Powers and Rights of a Lodge._
In respect to the powers and privileges possessed by a lodge working under
a warrant of constitution, we may say, as a general principle, that
whatever it does possess is inherent in it--nothing has been delegated by
either the Grand Master or the Grand Lodge--but that all its rights and
powers are derived originally from the ancient regulations, made before
the existence of Grand Lodges, and that what it does not possess, are the
powers which were conceded by its predecessors to the Grand Lodge. This is
evident from the history of warrants of constitution, the authority under
which subordinate lodges act. The practice of applying by petition to the
Grand Master or the Grand Lodge, for a warrant to meet as a regular
lodge, commenced in the year 1718. Previous to that time, Freemasons were
empowered by inherent privileges, vested, from time immemorial, in the
whole fraternity, to meet as occasion might require, under the direction
of some able architect; and the proceedings of these meetings, being
approved by a majority of the Brethren convened at another lodge in the
same district, were deemed constitutional. But in 1718, a year after
the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, this power of meeting _ad
libitum_ was resigned into the hands of that body, and it was then agreed
that no lodges should thereafter meet, unless authorized so to do by a
warrant from the Grand Master, and with the consent of the Grand Lodge.
But as a memorial that this abandonment of the ancient right was entirely
voluntary, it was at the same time resolved that this inherent privilege
should continue to be enjoyed by the four old lodges who formed the Grand
Lodge. And, still more effectually to secure the reserved rights of the
lodges, it was also solemnly determined, that while the Grand Lodge
possesses the inherent right of making new regulations for the good of the
fraternity, provided that the _old landmarks be carefully preserved_, yet
that these regulations, to be of force, must be proposed and agreed to at
the third quarterly communication preceding the annual grand feast, and
submitted to the perusal of all the Brethren, in writing, even of the
youngest entered apprentice; "_the approbation and consent of the majority
of all the Brethren present being absolutely necessary, to make the same
binding and obligatory_."
The corollary from all this is clear. All the rights, powers, and
privileges, not conceded, by express enactment of the fraternity, to the
Grand Lodge, have been reserved to themselves. Subordinate lodges are the
assemblies of the craft in their primary capacity, and the Grand Lodge is
the Supreme Masonic Tribunal, only because it consists of and is
constituted by a representation of these primary assemblies. And,
therefore, as every act of the Grand Lodge is an act of the whole
fraternity thus represented, each new regulation that may be made is not
an assumption of authority on the part of the Grand Lodge, but a new
concession on the part of the subordinate lodges.
This doctrine of the reserved rights of the lodges is very important, and
should never be forgotten, because it affords much aid in the decision of
many obscure points of masonic jurisprudence. The rule is, that any
doubtful power exists and is inherent in the subordinate lodges, unless
there is an express regulation conferring it on the Grand Lodge. With this
preliminary view, we may proceed to investigate the nature and extent of
these reserved powers of the subordinate lodges.
A lodge has the right of selecting its own members, with which the Grand
Lodge cannot interfere. This is a right that the lodges have expressly
reserved to themselves, and the stipulation is inserted in the "general
regulations" in the following words:
"No man can be entered a Brother 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. They are to give their consent in their
own prudent way, either virtually or in form, but with unanimity. Nor is
this inherent privilege subject to a dispensation, because 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 their harmony, or
hinder the freedom of their communication; or even break and disperse the
lodge, which ought to be avoided by all true and faithful."
But although a lodge has the inherent right to require unanimity in the
election of a candidate, it is not necessarily restricted to such a degree
A lodge has the right to elect its own officers. This right is guaranteed
to it by the words of the Warrant of Constitution. Still the right is
subject to certain restraining regulations. The election must be held at
the proper time, which, according to the usage of Masonry, in most parts
of the world, is on or immediately before the festival of St. John the
Evangelist. The proper qualifications must be regarded. A member cannot be
elected as Master, unless he has previously served as a Warden, except in
the instance of a new lodge, or other case of emergency. Where both of the
Wardens refuse promotion, where the presiding Master will not permit
himself to be reelected, and where there is no Past Master who will
consent to take the office, then, and then only, can a member be elected
from the floor to preside over the lodge.
By the Constitutions of England, only the Master and Treasurer are elected
officers. The Wardens and all the other officers are appointed by the
Master, who has not, however, the power of removal after appointment,
except by consent of the lodge; but American usage gives the election
of all the officers, except the deacons, stewards, and, in some instances,
the tiler, to the lodge.
As a consequence of the right of election, every lodge has the power of
installing its officers, subject to the same regulations, in relation to
time and qualifications, as given in the case of elections.
The Master must be installed by a Past Master, but after his own
installation he has the power to install the rest of the officers. The
ceremony of installation is not a mere vain and idle one, but is
productive of important results. Until the Master and Wardens of a lodge
are installed, they cannot represent the lodge in the Grand Lodge, nor, if
it be a new lodge, can it be recorded and recognized on the register of
the Grand Lodge. No officer can permanently take possession of the office
to which he has been elected, until he has been duly installed. The
rule of the craft is, that the old officer holds on until his successor is
installed, and this rule is of universal application to officers of every
grade, from the Tiler of a subordinate lodge, to the Grand Master of
Every lodge that has been duly constituted, and its officers installed, is
entitled to be represented in the Grand Lodge, and to form, indeed, a
constituent part of that body. The representatives of a lodge are its
Master and two Wardens. This character of representation was
established in 1718, when the four old lodges, which organized the Grand
Lodge of England, agreed "to extend their patronage to every lodge which
should hereafter be constituted by the Grand Lodge, according to the new
regulations of the society; and while such lodges acted in conformity to
the ancient constitutions of the Order, to admit their Masters and Wardens
to share with them all the privileges of the Grand Lodge, excepting
precedence of rank." Formerly all Master Masons were permitted to sit
in the Grand Lodge, or, as it was then called, the General Assembly, and
represent their lodge; and therefore this restricting the representation
to the three superior officers was, in fact, a concession of the craft.
This regulation is still generally observed; but I regret to see a few
Grand Lodges in this country innovating on the usage, and still further
confining the representation to the Masters alone.
The Master and Wardens are not merely in name the representatives of the
lodge, but are bound, on all questions that come before the Grand Lodge,
truly to represent their lodge, and vote according to its instructions.
This doctrine is expressly laid down in the General Regulations, in the
following words: "The majority of every particular lodge, when
congregated, not else, shall have the privilege of giving instructions to
their Master and Wardens, before the meeting of the Grand Chapter, or
Quarterly Communication; because the said officers are their
representatives, and are supposed to speak the sentiments of their
Brethren at the said Grand Lodge."
Every lodge has the power to frame bye-laws for its own government,
provided they are not contrary to, nor inconsistent with, the general
regulations of the Grand Lodge; nor the landmarks of the order. But
these bye-laws will not be valid, until they are submitted to and approved
by the Grand Lodge. And this is the case, also, with every subsequent
alteration of them, which must in like manner be submitted to the Grand
Lodge for its approval.
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. A
subordinate lodge tries its delinquent member, and, if guilty, declares
him expelled; but the sentence is of no force until the Grand Lodge, under
whose jurisdiction it is working, has confirmed it. And it is optional
with the Grand Lodge to do so, or, as is frequently done, to reverse the
decision and reinstate the Brother. Some of the lodges in this country
claim the right to expel, independently of the action of the Grand Lodge;
but the claim is not valid. The very fact that an expulsion is a penalty,
affecting the general relations of the punished party with the whole
fraternity, proves that its exercise never could, with propriety, be
intrusted to a body so circumscribed in its authority as a subordinate
lodge. Accordingly, the general practice of the fraternity is opposed to
it; and therefore all expulsions are reported to the Grand Lodge, not
merely as matters of information, but that they may be confirmed by that
body. The English Constitutions are explicit on this subject. "In the
Grand Lodge alone," they declare, "resides the power of erasing lodges and
expelling Brethren from the craft, a power which it ought not to delegate
to any subordinate authority in England." They allow, however, a
subordinate lodge to _exclude_ a member from the lodge; in which case he
is furnished with a certificate of the circumstances of his exclusion, and
then may join any other lodge that will accept him, after being made
acquainted with the fact of his exclusion, and its cause. This usage has
not been adopted in this country.
A lodge has a right to levy such annual contribution for membership as the
majority of the Brethren see fit. This is entirely a matter of contract,
with which the Grand Lodge, or the craft in general, have nothing to do.
It is, indeed, a modern usage, unknown to the fraternity of former times,
and was instituted for the convenience and support of the private lodges.
A lodge is entitled to select a name for itself, to be, however, approved
by the Grand Lodge. But the Grand Lodge alone has the power of
designating the number by which the lodge shall be distinguished. By its
number alone is every lodge recognized in the register of the Grand Lodge,
and according to their numbers is the precedence of the lodges regulated.
Finally, a lodge has certain rights in relation to its Warrant of
Constitution. This instrument having been granted by the Grand Lodge, can
be revoked by no other authority. The Grand Master, therefore, has no
power, as he has in the case of a lodge under dispensation, to withdraw
its Warrant, except temporarily, until the next meeting of the Grand
Lodge. Nor is it in the power of even the majority of the lodge, by any
act of their own, to resign the Warrant. For it has been laid down as a
law, that if the majority of the lodge should determine to quit the lodge,
or to resign their warrant, such action would be of no efficacy, because
the Warrant of Constitution, and the power of assembling, would remain
with the rest of the members, who adhere to their allegiance. But if
all the members withdraw themselves, their Warrant ceases and becomes
extinct. If the conduct of a lodge has been such as clearly to forfeit its
charter, the Grand Lodge alone can decide that question and pronounce the
_Of the Duties of a Lodge._
So far in relation to the rights and privileges of subordinate lodges. But
there are certain duties and obligations equally binding upon these
bodies, and certain powers, in the exercise of which they are restricted.
These will next engage our attention.
The first great duty, not only of every lodge, but of every Mason, is to
see that the landmarks of the Order shall never be impaired. The General
Regulations of Masonry--to which every Master, at his installation, is
bound to acknowledge his submission--declare that "it is not in the power
of any man, or body of men, to make innovations in the body of Masonry."
And, hence, no lodge, without violating all the implied and express
obligations into which it has entered, can, in any manner, alter or amend
the work, lectures, and ceremonies of the institution. As its members
have received the ritual from their predecessors, so are they bound to
transmit it, unchanged, in the slightest degree, to their successors. In
the Grand Lodge, alone, resides the power of enacting new regulations;
but, even _it_ must be careful that, in every such regulation, the
landmarks are preserved. When, therefore, we hear young and inexperienced
Masters speak of making improvements (as they arrogantly call them) upon
the old lectures or ceremonies, we may be sure that such Masters either
know nothing of the duties they owe to the craft, or are willfully
forgetful of the solemn obligation which they have contracted. Some may
suppose that the ancient ritual of the Order is imperfect, and requires
amendment. One may think that the ceremonies are too simple, and wish to
increase them; another, that they are too complicated, and desire to
simplify them; one may be displeased with the antiquated language;
another, with the character of the traditions; a third, with something
else. But, the rule is imperative and absolute, that no change can or must
be made to gratify individual taste. As the Barons of England, once, with
unanimous voice, exclaimed, "Nolumus leges Angliae mutare!" so do all good
Masons respond to every attempt at innovation, "We are unwilling to alter
the customs of Freemasonry."
In relation to the election of officers, a subordinate lodge is allowed to
exercise no discretion. The names and duties of these officers are
prescribed, partly by the landmarks or the ancient constitutions, and
partly by the regulations of various Grand Lodges. While the landmarks are
preserved, a Grand Lodge may add to the list of officers as it pleases;
and whatever may be its regulation, the subordinate lodges are bound to
obey it; nor can any such lodge create new offices nor abolish old ones
without the consent of the Grand Lodge.
Lodges are also bound to elect their officers at a time which is always
determined; not by the subordinate, but by the Grand Lodge. Nor can a
lodge anticipate or postpone it unless by a dispensation from the Grand
No lodge can, at an extra meeting, alter or amend the proceedings of a
regular meeting. If such were not the rule, an unworthy Master might, by
stealth, convoke an extra meeting of a part of his lodge, and, by
expunging or altering the proceedings of the previous regular meeting, or
any particular part of them, annul any measures or resolutions that were
not consonant with his peculiar views.
No lodge can interfere with the work or business of any other lodge,
without its permission. This is an old regulation, founded on those
principles of comity and brotherly love that should exist among all
Masons. It is declared in the manuscript charges, written in the reign of
James II., and in the possession of the Lodge of Antiquity, at London,
that "no Master or Fellow shall supplant others of their work; that is to
say, that, if he hath taken a work, or else stand Master of any work, that
he shall not put him out, unless he be unable of cunning to make an end of
his work." And, hence, no lodge can pass or raise a candidate who was
initiated, or initiate one who was rejected, in another lodge. "It would
be highly improper," says the Ahiman Rezon, "in any lodge, to confer a
degree on a Brother who is not of their house-hold; for, every lodge
ought to be competent to manage their own business, and are the best
judges of the qualifications of their own members."
I do not intend, at the present time, to investigate the qualifications of
candidates--as that subject will, in itself, afford ample materials for a
future investigation; but, it is necessary that I should say something of
the restrictions under which every lodge labors in respect to the
admission of persons applying for degrees.
In the first place, no lodge can initiate a candidate, "without previous
notice, and due examination into his character; and not unless his
petition has been read at one regular meeting and acted on at another."
This is in accordance with the ancient regulations; but, an exception to
it is allowed in the case of an emergency, when the lodge may read the
petition for admission, and, if the applicant is well recommended, may
proceed at once to elect and initiate him. In some jurisdictions, the
nature of the emergency must be stated to the Grand Master, who, if he
approves, will grant a dispensation; but, in others, the Master, or Master
and Wardens, are permitted to be competent judges, and may proceed to
elect and initiate, without such dispensation. The Grand Lodge of South
Carolina adheres to the former custom, and that of England to the latter.
Another regulation is, that no lodge can confer more than two degrees, at
one communication, on the same candidate. The Grand Lodge of England is
still more stringent on this subject, and declares that "no candidate
shall be permitted to receive more than one degree, on the same day; nor
shall a higher degree in Masonry be conferred on any Brother at a less
interval than four weeks from his receiving a previous degree, nor until
he has passed an examination, in open lodge, in that degree." This rule is
also in force in South Carolina and several other of the American
jurisdictions. But, the law which forbids the whole three degrees of
Ancient Craft Masonry to be conferred, at the same communication, on one
candidate, is universal in its application, and, as such, may be deemed
one of the ancient landmarks of the Order.
There is another rule, which seems to be of universal extent, and is,
indeed, contained in the General Regulations of 1767, to the following
effect: "No lodge shall make more than five new Brothers at one and the
same time, without an urgent necessity."
All lodges are bound to hold their meetings at least once in every
calendar month; and every lodge neglecting so to do for one year, thereby
forfeits its warrant of constitution.
The subject of the removal of lodges is the last thing that shall engage
our attention. Here the ancient regulations of the craft have adopted many
guards to prevent the capricious or improper removal of a lodge from its
regular place of meeting. In the first place, no lodge can be removed from
the town in which it is situated, to any other place, without the consent
of the Grand Lodge. But, a lodge may remove from one part of the town to
another, with the consent of the members, under the following
restrictions: The removal cannot be made without the Master's knowledge;
nor can any motion, for that purpose, be presented in his absence. When
such a motion is made, and properly seconded, the Master will order
summonses to every member, specifying the business, and appointing a day
for considering and determining the affair. And if then a majority of the
lodge, with the Master, or two-thirds, without him, consent to the
removal, it shall take place; but notice thereof must be sent, at once, to
the Grand Lodge. The General Regulations of 1767 further declare, that
such removal must be approved by the Grand Master. I suppose that where
the removal of the lodge was only a matter of convenience to the members,
the Grand Lodge would hardly interfere, but leave the whole subject to
their discretion; but, where the removal would be calculated to affect the
interests of the lodge, or of the fraternity--as in the case of a removal
to a house of bad reputation, or to a place of evident insecurity--I have
no doubt that the Grand Lodge, as the conservator of the character and
safety of the institution, would have a right to interpose its authority,
and prevent the improper removal.
I have thus treated, as concisely as the important nature of the subjects
would permit, of the powers, privileges, duties, and obligations of
lodges, and have endeavored to embrace, within the limits of the
discussion, all those prominent principles of the Order, which, as they
affect the character and operations of the craft in their primary
assemblies, may properly be referred to the Law of Subordinate Lodges.
Of the Officers of a Subordinate Lodge.
_Of the Officers in General._
Four officers, at least, the ancient customs of the craft require in every
lodge; and they are consequently found throughout the globe. These are the
Master, the two Wardens, and the Tiler. Almost equally universal are the
offices of Treasurer, Secretary, and two Deacons. But, besides these,
there may be additional officers appointed by different Grand Lodges. The
Grand Lodge of England, for instance, requires the appointment of an
officer, called the "Inner Guard." The Grand Orient of France has
prescribed a variety of officers, which are unknown to English and
American Masonry. The Grand Lodges of England and South Carolina direct
that two Stewards shall be appointed, while some other Grand Lodges make
no such requisition. Ancient usage seems to have recognized the following
officers of a subordinate lodge: the Master, two Wardens, Treasurer,
Secretary, two Deacons, two Stewards, and Tiler; and I shall therefore
treat of the duties and powers of these officers only, in the course of
the present chapter.
The officers of a lodge are elected annually. In this country, the
election takes place on the festival of St. John the Evangelist, or at the
meeting immediately previous; but, in this latter case, the duties of the
offices do not commence until St. John's day, which may, therefore, be
considered as the beginning of the masonic year.
Dalcho lays down the rule, that "no Freemason chosen into any office can
refuse to serve (unless he has before filled the same office), without
incurring the penalties established by the bye-laws." Undoubtedly a lodge
may enact such a regulation, and affix any reasonable penalty; but I am
not aware of any ancient regulation which makes it incumbent on
subordinate lodges to do so.
If any of the subordinate officers, except the Master and Wardens, die, or
be removed from office, during the year, the lodge may, under the
authority of a dispensation from the Grand Master, enter into an election
to supply the vacancy. But in the case of the death or removal of the
Master or either of the Wardens, no election can be held to supply the
vacancy, even by dispensation, for reasons which will appear when I come
to treat of those offices.
No officer can resign his office after he has been installed. Every
officer is elected for twelve months, and at his installation solemnly
promises to perform the duties of that office until the next regular day
of election; and hence the lodge cannot permit him, by a resignation, to
violate his obligation of office.
Another rule is, that every officer holds on to his office until his
successor has been installed. It is the installation, and not the
election, which puts an officer into possession; and the faithful
management of the affairs of Masonry requires, that between the election
and installation of his successor, the predecessor shall not vacate the
office, but continue to discharge its duties.
An office can be vacated only by death, permanent removal from the
jurisdiction, or expulsion. Suspension does not vacate, but only suspends
the performance of the duties of the office, which must then be
temporarily discharged by some other person, to be appointed from time to
time; for, as soon as the suspended officer is restored, he resumes the
dignities and duties of his office.
_Of the Worshipful Master._
This is probably the most important office in the whole system of Masonry,
as, upon the intelligence, skill, and fidelity of the Masters of our
lodges, the entire institution is dependent for its prosperity. It is an
office which is charged with heavy responsibilities, and, as a just
consequence, is accompanied by the investiture of many important powers.
A necessary qualification of the Master of a lodge is, that he must have
previously served in the office of a Warden. This qualification is
sometimes dispensed with in the case of new lodges, or where no member of
an old lodge, who has served as a Warden, will accept the office of
Master. But it is not necessary that he should have served as a Warden in
the lodge of which he is proposed to be elected Master. The discharge of
the duties of a Warden, by regular election and installation in any other
lodge, and at any former period, will be a sufficient qualification.
One of the most important duties of the Master of a lodge is, to see that
the edicts and regulations of the Grand Lodge are obeyed by his Brethren,
and that his officers faithfully discharge their duties.
The Master has particularly in charge the warrant of Constitution, which
must always be present in his lodge, when opened.
The Master has a right to call a special meeting of his lodge whenever he
pleases, and is the sole judge of any emergency which may require such
He has, also, the right of closing his lodge at any hour that he may deem
expedient, notwithstanding the whole business of the evening may not have
been transacted. This regulation arises from the unwritten law of Masonry.
As the Master is responsible to the Grand Lodge for the fidelity of the
work done in his lodge, and as the whole of the labor is, therefore,
performed under his superintendence, it follows that, to enable him to
discharge this responsibility, he must be invested with the power of
commencing, of continuing, or of suspending labor at such time as he may,
in his wisdom, deem to be the most advantageous to the edifice of Masonry.
It follows from this rule that a question of adjournment cannot be
entertained in a lodge. The adoption of a resolution to adjourn, would
involve the necessity of the Master to obey it. The power, therefore, of
controlling the work, would be taken out of his hands and placed in those
of the members, which would be in direct conflict with the duties imposed
upon him by the ritual. The doctrine that a lodge cannot adjourn, but must
be closed or called off at the pleasure of the Master, appears now to me
to be very generally admitted.
The Master and his two Wardens constitute the representatives of the lodge
in the Grand Lodge, and it is his duty to attend the communications of
that body "on all convenient occasions." When there, he is faithfully
to represent his lodge, and on all questions discussed, to obey its
instructions, voting in every case rather against his own convictions than
against the expressed wish of his lodge.
The Master presides not only over the symbolic work of the lodge, but
also over its business deliberations, and in either case his decisions are
reversible only by the Grand Lodge. There can be no appeal from his
decision, on any question, to the lodge. He is supreme in his lodge, so
far as the lodge is concerned, being amenable for his conduct in the
government of it, not to its members, but to the Grrand Lodge alone. If an
appeal were proposed, it would be his duty, for the preservation of
discipline, to refuse to put the question. If a member is aggrieved by the
conduct or decisions of the Master, he has his redress by an appeal to the
Grrand Lodge, which will, of course, see that the Master does not rule his
lodge "in an unjust or arbitrary manner." But such a thing as an appeal
from the Master of the lodge to its members is unknown in Masonry.
This may, at first sight, appear to be giving too despotic power to the
Master. But a slight reflection will convince any one that there can be
but little danger of oppression from one so guarded and controlled as a
Master is, by the sacred obligations of his office, and the supervision of
the Grand Lodge, while the placing in the hands of the craft so powerful,
and at times, and with bad spirits, so annoying a privilege as that of
immediate appeal, would necessarily tend to impair the energies and
lessen the dignity of the Master, while it would be subversive of that
spirit of discipline which pervades every part of the institution, and to
which it is mainly indebted for its prosperity and perpetuity.
The ancient charges rehearsed at the installation of a Master, prescribe
the various moral qualifications which are required in the aspirant for
that elevated and responsible office. He is to be a good man, and
peaceable citizen or subject, a respecter of the laws, and a lover of his
Brethren--cultivating the social virtues and promoting the general good of
society as well as of his own Order.
Within the last few years, the standard of intellectual qualifications has
been greatly elevated. And it is now admitted that the Master of a lodge,
to do justice to the exalted office which he holds, to the craft over whom
he presides, and to the candidates whom he is to instruct, should be not
only a man of irreproachable moral character, but also of expanded
intellect and liberal education. Still, as there is no express law upon
this subject, the selection of a Master and the determination of his
qualifications must be left to the judgment and good sense of the
_Of the Wardens._
The Senior and Junior Warden are the assistants of the Master in the
government of the lodge. They are selected from among the members on the
floor, the possession of a previous office not being, as in the case of
the Master, a necessary qualification for election. In England they are
appointed by the Master, but in this country they are universally elected
by the lodge.
During the temporary absence of the Master the Senior Warden has the right
of presiding, though he may, and often does by courtesy, invite a Past
Master to assume the chair. In like manner, in the absence of both Master
and Senior Warden, the Junior Warden will preside, and competent Brethren
will by him be appointed to fill the vacant seats of the Wardens. But if
the Master and Junior Warden be present, and the Senior Warden be absent,
the Junior Warden does not occupy the West, but retains his own station,
the Master appointing some Brother to occupy the station of the Senior
Warden. For the Junior Warden succeeds by law only to the office of
Master, and, unless that office be vacant, he is bound to fulfill the
duties of the office to which he has been obligated.
In case of the death, removal from the jurisdiction, or expulsion of the
Master, by the Grand Lodge, no election can be held until the
constitutional period. The Senior Warden will take the Master's place and
preside over the lodge, while his seat will be temporarily filled from
time to time by appointment. The Senior Warden being in fact still in
existence, and only discharging one of the highest duties of his office,
that of presiding in the absence of the Master, his office cannot be
declared vacant and there can be no election for it. In such case, the
Junior Warden, for the reason already assigned, will continue at his own
station in the South.
In case of the death, removal, or expulsion of both Master and Senior
Warden, the Junior Warden will discharge the duties of the Mastership and
make temporary appointments of both Wardens. It must always be remembered
that the Wardens succeed according to seniority to the office of Master
when vacant, but that neither can legally discharge the duties of the
other. It must also be remembered that when a Warden succeeds to the
government of the lodge, he does not become the Master; he is still only
a Warden discharging the functions of a higher vacated station, as one of
the expressed duties of his own office. A recollection of these
distinctions will enable us to avoid much embarrassment in the
consideration of all the questions incident to this subject. If the Master
be present, the Wardens assist him in the government of the lodge. The
Senior Warden presides over the craft while at labor, and the Junior when
they are in refreshment. Formerly the examination of visitors was
intrusted to the Junior Warden, but this duty is now more appropriately
performed by the Stewards or a special committee appointed for that
The Senior Warden has the appointment of the Senior Deacon, and the Junior
Warden that of the Stewards.
_Of the Treasurer._
Of so much importance is this office deemed, that in English Lodges, while
all the other officers are appointed by the Master, the Treasurer alone is
elected by the lodge. It is, however, singular, that in the ritual of
installation, Preston furnishes no address to the Treasurer on his
investiture. Webb, however, has supplied the omission, and the charge
given in his work to this officer, on the night of his installation,
having been universally acknowledged and adopted by the craft in this
country, will furnish us with the most important points of the law in
relation to his duties.
It is, then, in the first place, the duty of the Treasurer "to receive all
moneys from the hands of the Secretary." The Treasurer is only the banker
of the lodge. All fees for initiation, arrearages of members, and all
other dues to the lodge, should be first received by the Secretary, and
paid immediately over to the Treasurer for safe keeping.
The keeping of just and regular accounts is another duty presented to the
Treasurer. As soon as he has received an amount of money from the
Secretary, he should transfer the account of it to his books. By this
means, the Secretary and Treasurer become mutual checks upon each other,
and the safety of the funds of the lodge is secured.
The Treasurer is not only the banker, but also the disbursing officer of
the lodge; but he is directed to pay no money except with the consent of
the lodge and on the order of the Worshipful Master. It seems to me,
therefore, that every warrant drawn on him should be signed by the Master,
and the action of the lodge attested by the counter-signature of the
It is usual, in consequence of the great responsibility of the Treasurer,
to select some Brother of worldly substance for the office; and still
further to insure the safety of the funds, by exacting from him a bond,
with sufficient security. He sometimes receives a per centage, or a fixed
salary, for his services.
_Of the Secretary._
It is the duty of the Secretary to record all the proceedings of the
lodge, "which may be committed to paper;" to conduct the correspondence of
the lodge, and to receive all moneys due the lodge from any source
whatsoever. He is, therefore, the recording, corresponding, and receiving
officer of the lodge. By receiving the moneys due to the lodge in the
first place, and then paying them over to the Treasurer, he becomes, as I
have already observed, a check upon that officer.
In view of the many laborious duties which devolve upon him, the
Secretary, in many lodges, receives a compensation for his services.
Should the Treasurer or Secretary die or be expelled, there is no doubt
that an election for a successor, to fill the unexpired term, may be held
by dispensation from the Grand Master. But the incompetency of either of
these officers to perform his duties, by reason of the infirmity of
sickness or removal from the seat of the lodge, will not, I think,
authorize such an election. Because the original officer may recover from
his infirmity, or return to his residence, and, in either case, having
been elected and installed for one year, he must remain the Secretary or
Treasurer until the expiration of the period for which he had been so
elected and installed, and, therefore, on his recovery or his return, is
entitled to resume all the prerogatives and functions of his office. The
case of death, or of expulsion, which is, in fact, masonic death, is
different, because all the rights possessed during life cease _ex
necessitate rei_, and forever lapse at the time of the said physical or
masonic death; and in the latter case, a restoration to all the rights and
privileges of Masonry would not restore the party to any office which he
had held at the time of his expulsion.
_Of the Deacons._
In every lodge there are two of these officers--a Senior and a Junior
Deacon. They are not elected, but appointed; the former by the Master, and
the latter by the Senior Warden.
The duties of these officers are many and important; but they are so well
defined in the ritual as to require no further consideration in this
The only question that here invites our examination is, whether the
Deacons, as appointed officers, are removable at the pleasure of the
officers who appointed them; or, whether they retain their offices, like
the Master and Wardens, until the expiration of the year. Masonic
authorities are silent on this subject; but, basing my judgment upon
analogy, I am inclined to think that they are not removable: all the
officers of a lodge are chosen to serve for one year, or, from one
festival of St. John the Evangelist to the succeeding one. This has been
the invariable usage in all lodges, and neither in the monitorial
ceremonies of installation, nor in any rules or regulations which I have
seen, is any exception to this usage made in respect to Deacons. The
written as well as the oral law of Masonry being silent on this subject,
we are bound to give them the benefit of this silence, and place them in
the same favorable position as that occupied by the superior officers,
who, we know, by express law are entitled to occupy their stations for one
year. Moreover, the power of removal is too important to be exercised
except under the sanction of an expressed law, and is contrary to the
whole spirit of Masonry, which, while it invests a presiding officer with
the largest extent of prerogative, is equally careful of the rights of the
youngest member of the fraternity.
From these reasons I am compelled to believe that the Deacons, although
originally appointed by the Master and Senior Warden, are not removable by
either, but retain their offices until the expiration of the year.
_Of the Stewards._
The Stewards, who are two in number, are appointed by the Junior Warden,
and sit on the right and left of him in the lodge. Their original duties
were, "to assist in the collection of dues and subscriptions; to keep an
account of the lodge expenses; to see that the tables are properly
furnished at refreshment, and that every Brother is suitably provided
for." They are also considered as the assistants of the Deacons in the
discharge of their duties, and, lately, some lodges are beginning to
confide to them the important trusts of a standing committee for the
examination of visitors and the preparation of candidates.
What has been said in relation to the removal of the Deacons in the
preceding section, is equally applicable to the Stewards.
_Of the Tiler._
This is an office of great importance, and must, from the peculiar nature
of our institution, have existed from its very beginning. No lodge could
ever have been opened until a Tiler was appointed, and stationed to guard
its portals from the approach of "cowans and eavesdroppers." The
qualifications requisite for the office of a Tiler are, that he must be "a
worthy Master Mason." An Entered Apprentice, or a Fellow Craft, cannot
tile a lodge, even though it be opened in his own degree. To none but
Master Masons can this important duty of guardianship be intrusted. The
Tiler is not necessarily a member of the lodge which he tiles. There is no
regulation requiring this qualification. In fact, in large cities, one
Brother often acts as the Tiler of several lodges. If, however, he is a
member of the lodge, his office does not deprive him of the rights of
membership, and in ballotings for candidates, election of officers, or
other important questions, he is entitled to exercise his privilege of
voting, in which case the Junior Deacon will temporarily occupy his
station, while he enters the lodge to deposit his ballot. This appears to
be the general usage of the craft in this country.
The Tiler is sometimes elected by the lodge, and sometimes appointed by
the Master. It seems generally to be admitted that he may be removed from
office for misconduct or neglect of duty, by the lodge, if he has been
elected, and by the Master, if he has been appointed.
Of Rules of Order.
The safety of the minority, the preservation of harmony, and the dispatch
of business, all require that there should be, in every well-regulated
society, some rules and forms for the government of their proceedings,
and, as has been justly observed by an able writer on parliamentary law,
"whether these forms be in all cases the most rational or not, is really
not of so great importance; for it is much more material that there should
be a rule to go by, than what that rule is." By common consent, the
rules established for the government of Parliament in England, and of
Congress in the United States, and which are known collectively under the
name of "Parliamentary Law," have been adopted for the regulation of all
deliberative bodies, whether of a public or private nature. But lodges of
Freemasons differ so much in their organization and character from other
societies, that this law will, in very few cases, be found applicable;
and, indeed, in many positively inapplicable to them. The rules,
therefore, for the government of masonic lodges are in general to be
deduced from the usages of the Order, from traditional or written
authority, and where both of them are silent, from analogy to the
character of the institution. To each of these sources, therefore, I shall
apply, in the course of the present chapter, and in some few instances,
where the parliamentary law coincides with our own, reference will be made
to the authority of the best writers on that science.
_Of the Order of Business._
When the Brethren have been "congregated," or called together by the
presiding officer, the first thing to be attended to is the ceremony of
opening the lodge. The consideration of this subject, as it is
sufficiently detailed in our ritual, will form no part of the present
The lodge having been opened, the next thing to be attended to is the
reading of the minutes of the last communication. The minutes having been
read, the presiding officer will put the question on their confirmation,
having first inquired of the Senior and Junior Wardens, and lastly of the
Brethren "around the lodge," whether they have any alterations to propose.
It must be borne in mind, that the question of confirmation is simply a
question whether the Secretary has faithfully and correctly recorded the
transactions of the lodge. If, therefore, it can be satisfactorily shown
by any one that there is a mis-entry, or the omission of an entry, this is
the time to correct it; and where the matter is of sufficient importance,
and the recording officer, or any member disputes the charge of error, the
vote of the lodge will be taken on the subject, and the journal will be
amended or remain as written, according to the opinion so expressed by the
majority of the members. As this is, however, a mere question of memory,
it must be apparent that those members only who were present at the
previous communication, the records of which are under examination, are
qualified to express a fair opinion. All others should ask and be
permitted to be excused from voting.
As no special communication can alter or amend the proceedings of a
regular one, it is not deemed necessary to present the records of the
latter to the inspection of the former. This preliminary reading of the
minutes is, therefore, always omitted at special communications.
After the reading of the minutes, unfinished business, such as motions
previously submitted and reports of committees previously appointed, will
take the preference of all other matters. Special communications being
called for the consideration of some special subject, that subject must of
course claim the priority of consideration over all others.
In like manner, where any business has been specially and specifically
postponed to another communication, it constitutes at that communication
what is called, in parliamentary law, "the order of the day," and may at
any time in the course of the evening be called up, to the exclusion of
all other business.
The lodge may, however, at its discretion, refuse to take up the
consideration of such order; for the same body which determined at one
time to consider a question, may at another time refuse to do so. This is
one of those instances in which parliamentary usage is applicable to the
government of a lodge. Jefferson says: "Where an order is made, that any
particular matter be taken up on any particular day, there a question is
to be put, when it is called for, Whether the house will now proceed to
that matter?" In a lodge, however, it is not the usage to propose such a
question, but the matter being called up, is discussed and acted on,
unless some Brother moves its postponement, when the question of
postponement is put.
But with these exceptions, the unfinished business must first be disposed
of, to avoid its accumulation and its possible subsequent neglect.
New business will then be taken up in such order as the local bye-laws
prescribe, or the wisdom of the Worshipful Master may suggest.
In a discussion, when any member wishes to speak, he must stand up in his
place, and address himself not to the lodge, nor to any particular
Brother, but to the presiding officer, styling him "Worshipful."
When two or more members rise nearly together, the presiding officer
determines who is entitled to speak, and calls him by his name, whereupon
he proceeds, unless he voluntarily sits down, and gives way to the other.
The ordinary rules of courtesy, which should govern a masonic body above
all other societies, as well as the general usage of deliberative bodies,
require that the one first up should be entitled to the floor. But the
decision of this fact is left entirely to the Master, or presiding
Whether a member be entitled to speak once or twice to the same question,
is left to the regulation of the local bye-laws of every lodge. But, under
all circumstances, it seems to be conceded, that a member may rise at any
time with the permission of the presiding officer, or for the purpose of
A member may be called to order by any other while speaking, for the use
of any indecorous remark, personal allusion, or irrelevant matter; but
this must be done in a courteous and conciliatory manner, and the question
of order will at once be decided by the presiding officer.
No Brother is to be interrupted while speaking, except for the purpose of
calling him to order, or to make a necessary explanation; nor are any
separate conversations, or, as they are called in our ancient charges,
"private committees," to be allowed.
Every member of the Order is, in the course of the debate as well as at
all other times in the lodge, to be addressed by the title of "Brother,"
and no secular or worldly titles are ever to be used.
In accordance with the principles of justice, the parliamentary usage is
adopted, which permits the mover of a resolution to make the concluding
speech, that he may reply to all those who have spoken against it, and sum
up the arguments in its favor. And it would be a breach of order as well
as of courtesy for any of his opponents to respond to this final argument
of the mover.
It is within the discretion of the Master, at any time in the course of
the evening, to suspend the business of the lodge for the purpose of
proceeding to the ceremony of initiation, for the "work" of Masonry, as it
is technically called, takes precedence of all other business.
When all business, both old and new, and the initiation of candidates, if
there be any, has been disposed of, the presiding officer inquires of the
officers and members if there be anything more to be proposed before
closing. Custom has prescribed a formulary for making this inquiry, which
is in the following words.
The Worshipful Master, addressing the Senior and Junior Wardens and then
the Brethren, successively, says: "Brother Senior, have you anything to
offer in the West for the good of Masonry in general or of this lodge in
particular? Anything in the South, Brother Junior? Around the lodge,
Brethren?" The answers to these inquiries being in the negative on the
part of the Wardens, and silence on that of the craft, the Master proceeds
to close the lodge in the manner prescribed in the ritual.
The reading of the minutes of the evening, not for confirmation, but for
suggestion, lest anything may have been omitted, should always precede the
closing ceremonies, unless, from the lateness of the hour, it be dispensed
with by the members.
_Of Appeals from the Decision of the Chair._
Freemasonry differs from all other institutions, in permitting no appeal
to the lodge from the decision of the presiding officer. The Master is
supreme in his lodge, so far as the lodge is concerned. He is amenable
for his conduct, in the government of the lodge, not to its members, but
to the Grand Lodge alone. In deciding points of order as well as graver
matters, no appeal can be taken from that decision to the lodge. If an
appeal were proposed, it would be his duty, for the preservation of
discipline, to refuse to put the question. It is, in fact, wrong that the
Master should even by courtesy permit such an appeal to be taken; because,
as the Committee of Correspondence of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee have
wisely remarked, by the admission of such appeals by _courtesy_, "is
established ultimately a precedent from which will be claimed _the right
to take_ appeals." If a member is aggrieved with the conduct or the
decisions of the Master, he has his redress by an appeal to the Grand
Lodge, which will of course see that the Master does not rule his lodge
"in an unjust or arbitrary manner." But such a thing as an appeal from the
Master to the lodge is unknown in Masonry.
This, at first view, may appear to be giving too despotic a power to the
Master. But a little reflection will convince any one that there can be
but slight danger of oppression from one so guarded and controlled as the
Master is by the obligations of his office and the superintendence of the
Grand Lodge, while the placing in the hands of the craft so powerful, and,
with bad spirits, so annoying a privilege as that of immediate appeal,
would necessarily tend to impair the energies and lessen the dignity of
the Master, at the same time that it would be totally subversive of that
spirit of strict discipline which pervades every part of the institution,
and to which it is mainly indebted for its prosperity and perpetuity.
In every case where a member supposes himself to be aggrieved by the
decision of the Master, he should make his appeal to the Grand Lodge.
It is scarcely necessary to add, that a Warden or Past Master, presiding
in the absence of the Master, assumes for the time all the rights and
prerogatives of the Master.
_Of the Mode of Taking the Question._
The question in Masonry is not taken _viva voce_ or by "aye" and "nay."
This should always be done by "a show of hands." The regulation on this
subject was adopted not later than the year 1754, at which time the Book
of Constitutions was revised, "and the necessary alterations and additions
made, consistent with the laws and rules of Masonry," and accordingly, in
the edition published in the following year, the regulation is laid down
in these words--"The opinions or votes of the members are always to be
signified by each holding up one of his hands: which uplifted hands the
Grand Wardens are to count; unless the number of hands be so unequal as to
render the counting useless. Nor should any other kind of division be ever
admitted among Masons."
Calling for the yeas and nays has been almost universally condemned as an
unmasonic practice, nor should any Master allow it to be resorted to in
Moving the "previous question," a parliamentary invention for stopping all
discussion, is still more at variance with the liberal and harmonious
spirit which should distinguish masonic debates, and is, therefore, never
to be permitted in a lodge.
Adjournment is a term not recognized in Masonry. There are but two ways in
which the communication of a lodge can be terminated; and these are either
by _closing_ the lodge, or by _calling from labor to refreshment_. In the
former case the business of the communication is finally disposed of until
the next communication; in the latter the lodge is still supposed to be
open and may resume its labors at any time indicated by the Master.
But both the time of closing the lodge and of calling it from labor to
refreshment is to be determined by the absolute will and the free judgment
of the Worshipful Master, to whom alone is intrusted the care of "setting
the craft to work, and giving them wholesome instruction for labor." He
alone is responsible to the Grand Master and the Grand Lodge, that his
lodge shall be opened, continued, and closed in harmony; and as it is by
his "will and pleasure" only that it is opened, so is it by his "will and
pleasure" only that it can be closed. Any attempt, therefore, on the part
of the lodge to entertain a motion for adjournment would be an
infringement of this prerogative of the Master. Such a motion is,
therefore, always out of order, and cannot be; and cannot be acted on.
The rule that a lodge cannot adjourn, but remain in session until closed
by the Master, derives an authoritative sanction also from the following
clause in the fifth of the Old Charges.
"All Masons employed shall meekly receive their wages without murmuring or
mutiny, _and not desert the Master till the work is finished_."
_Of the Appointment of Committees._
It is the prerogative of the Master to appoint all Committees, unless by a
special resolution provision has been made that a committee shall
otherwise be appointed.
The Master is also, _ex officio_, chairman of every committee which he
chooses to attend, although he may not originally have been named a member
of such committee. But he may, if he chooses, waive this privilege; yet he
may, at any time during the session of the committee, reassume his
inherent prerogative of governing the craft at all times when in his
presence, and therefore take the chair.
_Of the Mode of Keeping the Minutes._
Masonry is preeminently an institution of forms, and hence, as was to be
expected, there is a particular form provided for recording the
proceedings of a lodge. Perhaps the best method of communicating this form
to the reader will be, to record the proceedings of a supposititious
meeting or communication.
The following form, therefore, embraces the most important transactions
that usually occur during the session of a lodge, and it may serve as an
exemplar, for the use of secretaries.
"A regular communication of ---- Lodge, NO. ----, was holden at ----; on
----, the ---- day of ----A.: L.: 58--.
Bro.: A. B----, W.: Master.
" B. C----, S.: Warden.
" C. D----, J.: Warden.
" D. E----, Treasurer.
" E. F----, Secretary.
" F. G----, S.: Deacon.
" G. H----, J.: Deacon.
" H. I----, } Stewards.
" I. K----, }
" K. L----, Tiler.
Bro.: L. M----
The Lodge was opened in due form on the third degree of Masonry.
"The minutes of the regular communication of ---- were read and
"The committee on the petition of Mr. C. B., a candidate for initiation,
reported favorably, whereupon he was balloted for and duly elected.
"The committee on the application of Mr. D. C., a candidate for
initiation, reported favorably, whereupon he was balloted for, and the box
appearing foul he was rejected.
"The committee on the application of Mr. E. D., a candidate for initiation,
having reported unfavorably, he was declared rejected without a ballot.
"The petition of Mr. F. E., a candidate for initiation, having been
withdrawn by his friends, he was declared rejected without a ballot.
"A petition for initiation from Mr. G.F., inclosing the usual amount and
recommended by Bros. C. D.---- and H. I.----, was referred to a committee
of investigation consisting of Bros. G. H.----, L. M.----, and O. P.----.
"Bro. S.R., an Entered Apprentice, having applied for advancement, was
duly elected to take the second degree; and Bro. W.Y., a Fellow Craft,
was, on his application for advancement, duly elected to take the third
"A letter was read from Mrs. T. V.----, the widow of a Master Mason, when
the sum of twenty dollars was voted for her relief.
"The amendment to article 10, section 5 of the bye-laws, proposed by Bro.
M. N. ---- at the communication of ----, was read a third time, adopted by
a constitutional majority and ordered to be sent to the Grand Lodge for
approval and confirmation.
"The Lodge of Master Masons was then closed, and a lodge of Entered
Apprentices opened in due form.
"Mr. C. B., a candidate for initiation, being in waiting, was duly
prepared, brought forward and initiated as an Entered Apprentice, he
paying the usual fee.
"The Lodge of Entered Apprentices was then closed, and a Lodge of Fellow
Crafts opened in due form.
"Bro. S. R., an Entered Apprentice, being in waiting, was duly prepared,
brought forward and passed to the degree of a Fellow Craft, he paying the
"The Lodge of Fellow Crafts was then closed, and a lodge of Master Masons
opened in due form.
"Bro. W. Y., a Fellow Craft, being in waiting, was duly prepared, brought
forward and raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason, he paying the
Amount received this evening, as follows:
Petition of Mr. G. F., $5
Fee of Bro. C. B., 5
do. of Bro. S. R., 5
do. of Bro. W. Y., 5--Total, $20
all of which was paid over to the Treasurer.
There being no further business, the lodge was closed in due form and
Such is the form which has been adopted as the most convenient mode of
recording the transactions of a lodge. These minutes must be read, at the
close of the meeting, that the Brethren may suggest any necessary
alterations or additions, and then at the beginning of the next regular
meeting, that they may be confirmed, after which they should be
transcribed from the rough Minute Book in which they were first entered
into the permanent Record Book of the lodge.
The Law Of Individuals.
Passing from the consideration of the law, which refers to Masons in their
congregated masses, as the constituents of Grand and Subordinate Lodges, I
next approach the discussion of the law which governs, them in their
individual capacity, whether in the inception of their masonic life, as
candidates for initiation, or in their gradual progress through each of
the three degrees, for it will be found that a Mason, as he assumes new
and additional obligations, and is presented with increased light,
contracts new duties, and is invested with new prerogatives and
Of the Qualifications of Candidates.
The qualifications of a candidate for initiation into the mysteries of
Freemasonry, are four-fold in their character--moral, physical,
intellectual and political.
The moral character is intended to secure the respectability of the Order,
because, by the worthiness of its candidates, their virtuous deportment,
and good reputation, will the character of the institution be judged,
while the admission of irreligious libertines and contemners of the moral
law would necessarily impair its dignity and honor.
The physical qualifications of a candidate contribute to the utility of
the Order, because he who is deficient in any of his limbs or members, and
who is not in the possession of all his natural senses and endowments, is
unable to perform, with pleasure to himself or credit to the fraternity,
those peculiar labors in which all should take an equal part. He thus
becomes a drone in the hive, and so far impairs the usefulness of the
lodge, as "a place where Freemasons assemble to work, and to instruct and
improve themselves in the mysteries of their ancient science."
The intellectual qualifications refer to the security of the Order;
because they require that its mysteries shall be confided only to those
whose mental developments are such as to enable them properly to
appreciate, and faithfully to preserve from imposition, the secrets thus
entrusted to them. It is evident, for instance, that an idiot could
neither understand the hidden doctrines that might be communicated to him,
nor could he so secure such portions as he might remember, in the
"depositary of his heart," as to prevent the designing knave from worming
them out of him; for, as the wise Solomon has said, "a fool's mouth is his
destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul."
The political qualifications are intended to maintain the independence of
the Order; because its obligations and privileges are thus confided only
to those who, from their position in society, are capable of obeying the
one, and of exercising the other without the danger of let or hindrance
from superior authority.
Of the moral, physical and political qualifications of a candidate there
can be no doubt, as they are distinctly laid down in the ancient charges
and constitutions. The intellectual are not so readily decided.
These four-fold qualifications may be briefly summed up in the following
_Morally_, the candidate must be a man of irreproachable conduct, a
believer in the existence of God, and living "under the tongue of good
_Physically_, he must be a man of at least twenty-one years of age,
upright in body, with the senses of a man, not deformed or dismembered,
but with hale and entire limbs as a _man_ ought to be.
_Intellectually_, he must be a man in the full possession of his
intellects, not so young that his mind shall not have been formed, nor so
old that it shall have fallen into dotage; neither a fool, an idiot, nor a
madman; and with so much education as to enable him to avail himself of
the teachings of Masonry, and to cultivate at his leisure a knowledge of
the principles and doctrines of our royal art.
_Politically_, he must be in the unrestrained enjoyment of his civil and
personal liberty, and this, too, by the birthright of inheritance, and not
by its subsequent acquisition, in consequence of his release from
The lodge which strictly demands these qualifications of its candidates
may have fewer members than one less strict, but it will undoubtedly have
But the importance of the subject demands for each class of the
qualifications a separate section, and a more extended consideration.
_Of the Moral Qualifications of Candidates._
The old charges state, that "a Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the
moral law." It is scarcely necessary to say, that the phrase, "moral law,"
is a technical expression of theology, and refers to the Ten Commandments,
which are so called, because they define the regulations necessary for the
government of the morals and manners of men. The habitual violation of any
one of these commands would seem, according to the spirit of the Ancient
Constitutions, to disqualify a candidate for Masonry.
The same charges go on to say, in relation to the religious character of a
Mason, that he should not be "a stupid atheist, nor an irreligious
libertine." A denier of the existence of a Supreme Architect of the
Universe cannot, of course, be obligated as a Mason, and, accordingly,
there is no landmark more certain than that which excludes every atheist
from the Order.
The word "libertine" has, at this day, a meaning very different from what
it bore when the old charges were compiled. It then signified what we now
call a "free-thinker," or disbeliever in the divine revelation of the
Scriptures. This rule would therefore greatly abridge the universality and
tolerance of the Institution, were it not for the following qualifying
clause in the same instrument:--
"Though in ancient times Masons were charged in every country to be of the
religion of that country or nation, whatever it was, yet it is now thought
more expedient only to oblige them to that religion in which all men
agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves; that is, to be
good men and true, or men of honor and honesty, by whatever denominations
or persuasions they may be distinguished."
The construction now given universally to the religious qualification of a
candidate, is simply that he shall have a belief in the existence and
superintending control of a Supreme Being.
These old charges from which we derive the whole of our doctrine as to the
moral qualifications of a candidate, further prescribe as to the political
relations of a Mason, that he is to be "a peaceable subject to the civil
powers, wherever he resides or works, and is never to be concerned in
plots and conspiracies against the peace and welfare of the nation, nor to
behave himself undutifully to inferior magistrates. He is cheerfully to
conform to every lawful authority; to uphold on every occasion the
interest of the community, and zealously promote the prosperity of his own
Such being the characteristics of a true Mason, the candidate who desires
to obtain that title, must show his claim to the possession of these
virtues; and hence the same charges declare, in reference to these moral
qualifications, that "The persons made Masons, or admitted members of a
lodge, must be good and true men--no immoral or scandalous men, but of
_Of the Physical Qualifications of Candidates._
The physical qualifications of a candidate refer to his sex, his age, and
the condition of his limbs.
The first and most important requisite of a candidate is, that he shall be
"_a man_." No woman can be made a Mason. This landmark is so indisputable,
that it would be wholly superfluous to adduce any arguments or authority
in its support.
As to age, the old charges prescribe the rule, that the candidate must be
"of mature and discreet age." But what is the precise period when one is
supposed to have arrived at this maturity and discretion, cannot be
inferred from any uniform practice of the craft in different countries.
The provisions of the civil law, which make twenty-one the age of
maturity, have, however, been generally followed. In this country the
regulation is general, that the candidate must be twenty-one years of age.
Such, too, was the regulation adopted by the General Assembly, which met
on the 27th Dec., 1663, and which prescribed that "no person shall be
accepted unless he be twenty-one years old or more." In Prussia, the
candidate is required to be twenty-five; in England, twenty-one,
"unless by dispensation from the Grand Master, or Provincial Grand
Master;" in Ireland, twenty-one, except "by dispensation from the Grand
Master, or the Grand Lodge;" in France, twenty-one, unless the candidate
be the son of a Mason who has rendered important service to the craft,
with the consent of his parent or guardian, or a young man who has served
six months with his corps in the army--such persons may be initiated at
eighteen; in Switzerland, the age of qualification is fixed at twenty-one,
and in Frankfort-on-Mayn, at twenty. In this country, as I have already
observed, the regulation of 1663 is rigidly enforced, and no candidate,
who has not arrived at the age of twenty-one, can be initiated.
Our ritual excludes "an old man in his dotage" equally with a "young man
under age." But as dotage signifies imbecility of mind, this subject will
be more properly considered under the head of intellectual qualifications.
The physical qualifications, which refer to the condition of the
candidate's body and limbs, have given rise, within a few years past, to
a great amount of discussion and much variety of opinion. The regulation
contained in the old charges of 1721, which requires the candidate to be
"a perfect youth," has in some jurisdictions been rigidly enforced to the
very letter of the law, while in others it has been so completely
explained away as to mean anything or nothing. Thus, in South Carolina,
where the rule is rigid, the candidate is required to be neither deformed
nor dismembered, but of hale and entire limbs, as a man ought to be, while
in Maine, a deformed person may be admitted, provided "the deformity is
not such as to prevent him from being instructed in the arts and mysteries
The first written law which we find on this subject is that which was
enacted by the General Assembly held in 1663, under the Grand Mastership
of the Earl of St. Albans, and which declares "that no person shall
hereafter be accepted a Freemason but such as are of _able_ body."
Twenty years after, in the reign of James II., or about the year 1683, it
seems to have been found necessary, more exactly to define the meaning of
this expression, "of able body," and accordingly we find, among the
charges ordered to be read to a Master on his installation, the following
"Thirdly, that he that be made be able in all degrees; that is, free-born,
of a good kindred, true, and no bondsman, and that _he have his right
limbs as a man ought to have."_
The old charges, published in the original Book of Constitutions in 1723,
contain the following regulation:
"No Master should take an Apprentice, unless he be a perfect youth having
no maim or defect that may render him uncapable of learning the art."
Notwithstanding the positive demand for _perfection_, and the positive and
explicit declaration that he must have _no maim or defect_, the remainder
of the sentence has, within a few years past, by some Grand Lodges, been
considered as a qualifying clause, which would permit the admission of
candidates whose physical defects did not exceed a particular point. But,
in perfection, there can be no degrees of comparison, and he who is
required to be perfect, is required to be so without modification or
diminution. That which is _perfect_ is complete in all its parts, and, by
a deficiency in any portion of its constituent materials, it becomes not
less perfect, (which expression would be a solecism in grammar,) but at
once by the deficiency ceases to be perfect at all--it then becomes
imperfect. In the interpretation of a law, "words," says Blackstone, "are
generally to be understood in their usual and most known signification,"
and then "perfect" would mean, "complete, entire, neither defective nor
redundant." But another source of interpretation is, the "comparison of a
law with other laws, that are made by the same legislator, that have some
affinity with the subject, or that expressly relate to the same
point." Applying this law of the jurists, we shall have no difficulty
in arriving at the true signification of the word "perfect," if we refer
to the regulation of 1683, of which the clause in question appears to have
been an exposition. Now, the regulation of 1683 says, in explicit terms,
that the candidate must "_have his right limbs as a man ought to have_."
Comparing the one law with the other, there can be no doubt that the
requisition of Masonry is and always has been, that admission could only
be granted to him who was neither deformed nor dismembered, but of hale
and entire limbs as a man should be.
But another, and, as Blackstone terms it, "the most universal and
effectual way of discovering the true meaning of a law" is, to consider
"the reason and spirit of it, or the cause which moved the legislator to
enact it." Now, we must look for the origin of the law requiring physical
perfection, not to the formerly operative character of the institution,
(for there never was a time when it was not speculative as well as
operative,) but to its symbolic nature. In the ancient temple, every stone
was required to be _perfect_, for a perfect stone was the symbol of truth.
In our mystic association, every Mason represents a stone in that
spiritual temple, "that house not made with hands, eternal in the
heavens," of which the temple of Solomon was the type. Hence it is
required that he should present himself, like the perfect stone in the
material temple, a perfect man in the spiritual building. "The symbolic
relation of each member of the Order to its mystic temple, forbids the
idea," says Bro. W.S. Rockwell, of Georgia, "that its constituent
portions, its living stones, should be less perfect or less a type of
their great original, than the immaculate material which formed the
earthly dwelling place of the God of their adoration." If, then, as I
presume it will be readily conceded, by all except those who erroneously
suppose the institution to have been once wholly operative and afterwards
wholly speculative, perfection is required in a candidate, not for the
physical reason that he may be enabled to give the necessary signs of
recognition, but because the defect would destroy the symbolism of that
perfect stone which every Mason is supposed to represent in the spiritual
temple, we thus arrive at a knowledge of the causes which moved the
legislators of Masonry to enact the law, and we see at once, and without
doubt, that the words _perfect youth_ are to be taken in an unqualified
sense, as signifying one who has "his right limbs as a man ought to
It is, however, but fair to state that the remaining clause of the old
charge, which asserts that the candidate must have no maim or defect that
may render him incapable of learning the art, has been supposed to intend
a modification of the word "perfect," and to permit the admission of one
whose maim or defect was not of such a nature as to prevent his learning
the art of Masonry. But I would respectfully suggest that a criticism of
this kind is based upon a mistaken view of the import of the words. The
sentence is not that the candidate must have no such maim or defect as
might, by possibility, prevent him from learning the art; though this is
the interpretation given by those who are in favor of admitting slightly
maimed candidates. It is, on the contrary, so worded as to give a
consequential meaning to the word "_that_." He must have no maim or defect
_that_ may render him incapable; that is, _because_, by having such maim
or defect, he would be rendered incapable of acquiring our art.
In the Ahiman Rezon published by Laurence Dermott in 1764, and adopted for
the government of the Grand Lodge of Ancient York Masons in England, and
many of the Provincial Grand and subordinate lodges of America, the
regulation is laid down that candidates must be "men of good report,
free-born, of mature age, not deformed nor dismembered at the time of
their making, and no woman or eunuch." It is true that at the present day
this book possesses no legal authority among the craft; but I quote it, to
show what was the interpretation given to the ancient law by a large
portion, perhaps a majority, of the English and American Masons in the
middle of the eighteenth century.
A similar interpretation seems at all times to have been given by the
Grand Lodges of the United States, with the exception of some, who, within
a few years past, have begun to adopt a more latitudinarian construction.
In Pennsylvania it was declared, in 1783, that candidates are not to be
"deformed or dismembered at the time of their making."
In South Carolina the book of Constitutions, first published in 1807,
requires that "every person desiring admission must be upright in body,
not deformed or dismembered at the time of making, but of hale and entire
limbs, as a man ought to be."
In the "Ahiman Rezon and Masonic Ritual," published by order of the Grand
Lodge of North Carolina and Tennessee, in the year 1805, candidates are
required to be "hale and sound, not deformed or dismembered at the time of
Maryland, in 1826, sanctioned the Ahiman Rezon of Cole, which declares
the law in precisely the words of South Carolina, already quoted.
In 1823, the Grand Lodge of Missouri unanimously adopted a report, which
declared that all were to be refused admission who were not "sound in mind
and _all their members_," and she adopted a resolution asserting that "the
Grand Lodge cannot grant a letter or dispensation to a subordinate lodge
working under its jurisdiction, to initiate any person maimed, disabled,
or wanting the qualifications establishing by ancient usage."
But it is unnecessary to multiply instances. There never seems to have
been any deviation from the principle that required absolute physical
perfection, until, within a few years, the spirit of expediency has
induced some Grand Lodges to propose a modified construction of the law,
and to admit those whose maims or deformities were not such as to prevent
them from complying with the ceremonial of initiation. Still, a large
number of the Grand Lodges have stood fast by the ancient landmark, and it
is yet to be hoped that all will return to their first allegiance. The
subject is an important one, and, therefore, a few of the more recent
authorities, in behalf of the old law may with advantage be cited.
"We have examined carefully the arguments 'pro and con,' that have
accompanied the proceedings of the several Grand Lodges, submitted to us,
and the conviction has been forced upon our minds, even against our wills,
that we depart from the ancient landmarks and usages of Masonry, whenever
we admit an individual wanting in one of the human senses, or who is in
any particular maimed or deformed."--_Committee of Correspondence G. Lodge
of Georgia_, 1848, _page_ 36.
"The rationale of the law, excluding persons physically imperfect and
deformed, lies deeper and is more ancient than the source ascribed to
it. It is grounded on a principle recognized in the earliest ages of
the world; and will be found identical with that which obtained among the
ancient Jews. In this respect the Levitical law was the same as the
masonic, which would not allow any 'to go in unto the vail' who had a
blemish--a blind man, or a lame, or a man that was broken-footed, or
broken-handed, or a dwarf, &c....
"The learned and studious Freemasonic antiquary can satisfactorily explain
the metaphysics of this requisition in our Book of Constitutions. For the
true and faithful Brother it sufficeth to know that such a requisition
exists. He will prize it the more because of its antiquity.... No man can
in perfection be 'made a Brother,' no man can truly 'learn our mysteries,'
and practice them, or 'do the work of a Freemason,' if he is not a _man_
with body free from maim, defect and deformity."--_Report of a Special
Committee of the Grand Lodge of New York, in_ 1848.
"The records of this Grand Lodge may be confidently appealed to, for
proofs of her repeated refusal to permit maimed persons to be initiated,
and not simply on the ground that ancient usage forbids it, but because
the fundamental constitution of the Order--the ancient charges--forbid
it."--_Committee of Correspondence of New York, for 1848, p. 70._
"The lodges subordinate to this Grand Lodge are hereby required, in the
initiation of applicants for Masonry, to adhere to the ancient law (as
laid down in our printed books), which says he shall be of _entire
limbs_"--_Resolution of the G.L. of Maryland, November, 1848._
"I received from the lodge at Ashley a petition to initiate into our Order
a gentleman of high respectability, who, unfortunately, has been maimed. I
refused my assent.... I have also refused a similar request from the lodge
of which I am a member. The fact that the most distinguished masonic body
on earth has recently removed one of the landmarks, should teach _us_ to
be careful how we touch those ancient boundaries."--_Address of the Grand
Master of New Jersey in 1849._
"The Grand Lodge of Florida adopted such a provision in her constitution,
[the qualifying clause permitting the initiation of a maimed person, if
his deformity was not such as to prevent his instruction], but more
mature reflection, and more light reflected from our sister Grand Lodges,
caused it to be stricken from our constitution."--_Address of Gov. Tho.
Brown, Grand Master of Florida in_ 1849.
"As to the physical qualifications, the Ahiman Rezon leaves no doubt on
the subject, but expressly declares, that every applicant for initiation
must be a man, free-born, of lawful age, in the perfect enjoyment of his
senses, hale, and sound, and not deformed or dismembered; this is one of
the ancient landmarks of the Order, which it is in the power of no body of
men to change. A man having but one arm, or one leg, or who is in anyway
deprived of his due proportion of limbs and members, is as incapable of
initiation as a woman."--_Encyclical Letter of the Grand Lodge of South
Carolina to its subordinates in_ 1849.
Impressed, then, by the weight of these authorities, which it would be
easy, but is unnecessary, to multiply--guided by a reference to the
symbolic and speculative (not operative) reason of the law--and governed
by the express words of the regulation of 1683--I am constrained to
believe that the spirit as well as the letter of our ancient landmarks
require that a candidate for admission should be perfect in all his
parts, that is, neither redundant nor deficient, neither deformed nor
dismembered, but of hale and entire limbs, as a man ought to be.
_Of the Intellectual Qualifications of Candidates._
The Old Charges and Ancient Constitutions are not as explicit in relation
to the intellectual as to the moral and physical qualifications of
candidates, and, therefore, in coming to a decision on this subject, we
are compelled to draw our conclusions from analogy, from common sense, and
from the peculiar character of the institution. The question that here
suggests itself on this subject is, what particular amount of human
learning is required as a constitutional qualification for initiation?
During a careful examination of every ancient document to which I have had
access, I have met with no positive enactment forbidding the admission of
uneducated persons, even of those who can neither read nor write. The
unwritten, as well as the written laws of the Order, require that the
candidate shall be neither a _fool_ nor an _idiot_, but that he shall
possess a discreet judgment, and be in the enjoyment of all the senses of
a man. But one who is unable to subscribe his name, or to read it when
written, might still very easily prove himself to be within the
requirements of this regulation. The Constitutions of England, formed
since the union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, are certainly explicit
enough on this subject. They require even more than a bare knowledge of
reading and writing, for, in describing the qualifications of a candidate,
"He should be a lover of the liberal arts and sciences, and have made some
progress in one or other of them; and he must, previous to his initiation,
subscribe his name at full length, to a declaration of the following
import," etc. And in a note to this regulation, it is said, "Any
individual who cannot write is, consequently, ineligible to be admitted
into the Order." If this authority were universal in its character, there
would be no necessity for a further discussion of the subject. But the
modern constitutions of the Grand Lodge of England are only of force
within its own jurisdiction, and we are therefore again compelled to
resort to a mode of reasoning for the proper deduction of our conclusions
on this subject.
It is undoubtedly true that in the early period of the world, when
Freemasonry took its origin, the arts of reading and writing were not so
generally disseminated among all classes of the community as they now are,
when the blessings of a common education can be readily and cheaply
obtained. And it may, therefore, be supposed that among our ancient
Brethren there were many who could neither read nor write. But after all,
this is a mere assumption, which, although it may be based on probability,
has no direct evidence for its support. And, on the other hand, we see
throughout all our ancient regulations, that a marked distinction was made
by our rulers between the Freemason and the Mason who was not free; as,
for instance, in the conclusion of the fifth chapter of the Ancient
Charges, where it is said: "No laborer shall be employed in the common
work of Masonry, nor shall Freemasons work with those who are not free,
without an urgent necessity." And this would seem to indicate a higher
estimation by the fraternity of their own character, which might be
derived from their greater attainments in knowledge. That in those days
the ordinary operative masons could neither read nor write, is a fact
established by history. But it does not follow that the Freemasons, who
were a separate society of craftsmen, were in the same unhappy category;
it is even probable, that the fact that they were not so, but that they
were, in comparison with the unaccepted masons, educated men, may have
been the reason of the distinction made between these two classes of
But further, all the teachings of Freemasonry are delivered on the
assumption that the recipients are men of some education, with the means
of improving their minds and increasing their knowledge. Even the Entered
Apprentice is reminded, by the rough and perfect ashlars, of the
importance and necessity of a virtuous education, in fitting him for the
discharge of his duties. To the Fellow Craft, the study of the liberal
arts and sciences is earnestly recommended; and indeed, that sacred
hieroglyphic, the knowledge of whose occult signification constitutes the
most solemn part of his instruction, presupposes an acquaintance at least
with the art of reading. And the Master Mason is expressly told in the
explanation of the forty-seventh problem of Euclid, as one of the symbols
of the third degree, that it was introduced into Masonry to teach the
Brethren the value of the arts and sciences, and that the Mason, like the
discoverer of the problem, our ancient Brother Pythagoras, should be a
diligent cultivator of learning. Our lectures, too, abound in allusions
which none but a person of some cultivation of mind could understand or
appreciate, and to address them, or any portion of our charges which refer
to the improvement of the intellect and the augmentation of knowledge, to
persons who can neither read nor write, would be, it seems to us, a
mockery unworthy of the sacred character of our institution.
From these facts and this method of reasoning, I deduce the conclusion
that the framers of Masonry, in its present organization as a speculative
institution, must have intended to admit none into its fraternity whose
minds had not received some preliminary cultivation, and I am, therefore,
clearly of opinion, that a person who cannot read and write is not legally
qualified for admission.
As to the inexpediency of receiving such candidates, there can be no
question or doubt. If Masonry be, as its disciples claim for it, a
scientific institution, whose great object is to improve the understanding
and to enlarge and adorn the mind, whose character cannot be appreciated,
and whose lessons of symbolic wisdom cannot be acquired, without much
studious application, how preposterous would it be to place, among its
disciples, one who had lived to adult years, without having known the
necessity or felt the ambition for a knowledge of the alphabet of his
mother tongue? Such a man could make no advancement in the art of Masonry;
and while he would confer no substantial advantage on the institution, he
would, by his manifest incapacity and ignorance, detract, in the eyes of
strangers, from its honor and dignity as an intellectual society.
Idiots and madmen are excluded from admission into the Order, for the
evident reason that the former from an absence, and the latter from a
perversion of the intellectual faculties, are incapable of comprehending
the objects, or of assuming the responsibilities and obligations of the
A question here suggests itself whether a person of present sound mind,
but who had formerly been deranged, can legally be initiated. The answer
to this question turns on the fact of his having perfectly recovered. If
the present sanity of the applicant is merely a lucid interval, which
physicians know to be sometimes vouched to lunatics, with the absolute
certainty, or at best, the strong probability, of an eventual return to a
state of mental derangement, he is not, of course, qualified for
initiation. But if there has been a real and durable recovery (of which a
physician will be a competent judge), then there can be no possible
objection to his admission, if otherwise eligible. We are not to look to
what the candidate once was, but to what he now is.
Dotage, or the mental imbecility produced by excessive old age, is also a
disqualification for admission. Distinguished as it is by puerile desires
and pursuits, by a failure of the memory, a deficiency of the judgment,
and a general obliteration of the mental powers, its external signs are
easily appreciated, and furnish at once abundant reason why, like idiots
and madmen, the superannuated dotard is unfit to be the recipient of our
_Of the Political Qualifications of Candidates._
The Constitutions of Masonry require, as the only qualification referring
to the political condition of the candidate, or his position in society,
that he shall be _free-born_. The slave, or even the man born in
servitude--though he may, subsequently, have obtained his liberty--is
excluded by the ancient regulations from initiation. The non-admission of
a slave seems to have been founded upon the best of reasons; because, as
Freemasonry involves a solemn contract, no one can legally bind himself to
its performance who is not a free agent and the master of his own actions.
That the restriction is extended to those who were originally in a servile
condition, but who may have since acquired their liberty, seems to depend
on the principle that birth, in a servile condition, is accompanied by a
degradation of mind and abasement of spirit, which no subsequent
disenthralment can so completely efface as to render the party qualified
to perform his duties, as a Mason, with that "freedom, fervency, and
zeal," which are said to have distinguished our ancient Brethren.
"Children," says Oliver, "cannot inherit a free and noble spirit except
they be born of a free woman."
The same usage existed in the spurious Freemasonry or the Mysteries of the
ancient world. There, no slave, or men born in slavery, could be
initiated; because, the prerequisites imperatively demanded that the
candidate should not only be a man of irreproachable manners, but also a
free-born denizen of the country in which the mysteries were celebrated.
Some masonic writers have thought that, in this regulation in relation to
free birth, some allusion is intended, both in the Mysteries and in
Freemasonry, to the relative conditions and characters of Isaac and
Ishmael. The former--the accepted one, to whom the promise was given--was
the son of a free woman, and the latter, who was cast forth to have "his
hand against every man, and every man's hand against him," was the child
of a slave. Wherefore, we read that Sarah demanded of Abraham, "Cast out
this bondwoman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir
with my son." Dr. Oliver, in speaking of the grand festival with which
Abraham celebrated the weaning of Isaac, says, that he "had not paid the
same compliment at the weaning of Ishmael, because he was the son of a
bondwoman, and, consequently, could not be admitted to participate in the
Freemasonry of his father, which could only be conferred on free men born
of free women." The ancient Greeks were of the same opinion; for they used
the word [Greek: douloprepeia] or, "slave manners," to designate any very
great impropriety of manners.
The Grand Lodge of England extends this doctrine, that Masons should be
free in all their thoughts and actions, so far, that it will not permit
the initiation of a candidate who is only temporarily deprived of his
liberty, or even in a place of confinement. In the year 1782, the Master
of the Royal Military Lodge, at Woolwich, being confined, most probably
for debt, in the King's Bench prison, at London, the lodge, which was
itinerant in its character, and allowed to move from place to place with
its regiment, adjourned, with its warrant of constitution, to the Master
in prison, where several Masons were made. The Grand Lodge, being informed
of the circumstances, immediately summoned the Master and Wardens of the
lodge "to answer for their conduct in making Masons in the King's Bench
prison," and, at the same time, adopted a resolution, affirming that "it
is inconsistent with the principles of Freemasonry for any Freemason's
lodge to be held, for the purposes of making, passing, or raising Masons,
in any prison or place of confinement."
_Of the Petition of Candidates for Admission, and the Action thereon_.
The application of a candidate to a lodge, for initiation, is called a
"petition." This petition should always be in writing, and generally
contains a statement of the petitioner's age, occupation, and place of
residence, and a declaration of the motives which have prompted the
application, which ought to be "a favorable opinion conceived of the
institution and a desire of knowledge." This petition must be
recommended by at least two members of the lodge.
The petition must be read at a stated or regular communication of the
lodge, and referred to a committee of three members for an investigation
of the qualifications and character of the candidate. The committee having
made the necessary inquiries, will report the result at the next regular
communication and not sooner.
The authority for this deliberate mode of proceeding is to be found in the
fifth of the 39 General Regulations, which is in these words:
"No man can be made or admitted a member of a particular lodge, without
previous notice one month before given to the said lodge, in order to make
due inquiry into the reputation and capacity of the candidate; unless by
The last clause in this article provides for the only way in which this
probation of a month can be avoided, and that is when the Grand Master,
for reasons satisfactory to himself, being such as will constitute what is
called (sometimes improperly) a case of emergency, shall issue a
dispensation permitting the lodge to proceed forthwith to the election.
But where this dispensation has not been issued, the committee should
proceed diligently and faithfully to the discharge of their responsible
duty. They must inquire into the moral, physical, intellectual and
political qualifications of the candidate, and make their report in
accordance with the result of their investigations.
The report cannot be made at a special communication, but must always be
presented at a regular one. The necessity of such a rule is obvious. As
the Master can at any time within his discretion convene a special meeting
of his lodge, it is evident that a presiding officer, if actuated by an
improper desire to intrude an unworthy and unpopular applicant upon the
craft, might easily avail himself for that purpose of an occasion when the
lodge being called for some other purpose, the attendance of the members
was small, and causing a ballot to be taken, succeed in electing a
candidate, who would, at a regular meeting, have been blackballed by some
of those who were absent from the special communication.
This regulation is promulgated by the Grand Lodge of England, in the
following words: "No person shall be made a Mason without a regular
proposition at one lodge and a ballot at the next regular stated lodge;"
it appears to have been almost universally adopted in similar language by
the Grand Lodges of this country; and, if the exact words of the law are
wanting in any of the Constitutions, the general usage of the craft has
furnished an equivalent authority for the regulation.
If the report of the committee is unfavorable, the candidate should be
considered as rejected, without any reference to a ballot. This rule is
also founded in reason. If the committee, after a due inquiry into the
character of the applicant, find the result so disadvantageous to him as
to induce them to make an unfavorable report on his application, it is to
be presumed that on a ballot they would vote against his admission, and as
their votes alone would be sufficient to reject him, it is held
unnecessary to resort in such a case to the supererogatory ordeal of the
ballot. It would, indeed, be an anomalous proceeding, and one which would
reflect great discredit on the motives and conduct of a committee of
inquiry, were its members first to report against the reception of a
candidate, and then, immediately afterwards, to vote in favor of his
petition. The lodges will not suppose, for the honor of their committees,
that such a proceeding will take place, and accordingly the unfavorable
report of the committee is always to be considered as a rejection.
Another reason for this regulation seems to be this. The fifth General
Regulation declares that no Lodge should ever make a Mason without "due
inquiry" into his character, and as the duty of making this inquiry is
entrusted to a competent committee, when that committee has reported that
the applicant is unworthy to be made a Mason, it would certainly appear to
militate against the spirit, if not the letter, of the regulation, for the
lodge, notwithstanding this report, to enter into a ballot on the
But should the committee of investigation report favorably, the lodge will
then proceed to a ballot for the candidate; but, as this forms a separate
and important step in the process of "making Masons," I shall make it the
subject of a distinct section.
_Of Balloting for Candidates._
The Thirty-nine Regulations do not explicitly prescribe the ballot-box as
the proper mode of testing the opinion of the lodge on the merits of a
petition for initiation. The sixth regulation simply says that the consent
of the members is to be "formally asked by the Master; and they are to
signify their assent or dissent _in their own prudent way_ either
virtually or in form, but with unanimity." Almost universal usage has,
however, sanctioned the ballot box and the use of black and white balls as
the proper mode of obtaining the opinion of the members.
From the responsibility of expressing this opinion, and of admitting a
candidate into the fraternity or of repulsing him from it, no Mason is
permitted to shrink. In balloting on a petition, therefore, every member
of the Lodge is expected to vote; nor can he be excused from the discharge
of this important duty, except by the unanimous consent of his Brethren.
All the members must, therefore, come up to the performance of this trust
with firmness, candor, and a full determination to do what is right--to
allow no personal timidity to forbid the deposit of a black ball, if the
applicant is unworthy, and no illiberal prejudices to prevent the
deposition of a white one, if the character and qualifications of the
candidate are unobjectionable. And in all cases where a member himself has
no personal or acquired knowledge of these qualifications, he should rely
upon and be governed by the recommendation of his Brethren of the
Committee of Investigation, who he has no right to suppose would make a
favorable report on the petition of an unworthy applicant.
The great object of the ballot is, to secure the independence of the
voter; and, for this purpose, its secrecy should be inviolate. And this
secrecy of the ballot gives rise to a particular rule which necessarily
flows out of it.
No Mason can be called to an account for the vote which he has deposited.
The very secrecy of the ballot is intended to secure the independence and
irresponsibility to the lodge of the voter. And, although it is
undoubtedly a crime for a member to vote against the petition of an
applicant on account of private pique or personal prejudice, still the
lodge has no right to judge that such motives alone actuated him. The
motives of men, unless divulged by themselves, can be known only to God;
"and if," as Wayland says, "from any circumstances we are led to entertain
any doubts of the motives of men, we are bound to retain these doubts
within our own bosoms." Hence, no judicial notice can be or ought to be
taken by a lodge of a vote cast by a member, on the ground of his having
been influenced by improper motives, because it is impossible for the
lodge legally to arrive at the knowledge; in the first place, of the vote
that he has given, and secondly, of the motives by which he has been
And even if a member voluntarily should divulge the nature of his vote and
of his motives, it is still exceedingly questionable whether the lodge
should take any notice of the act, because by so doing the independence of
the ballot might be impaired. It is through a similar mode of reasoning
that the Constitution of the United States provides, that the members of
Congress shall not be questioned, in any other place, for any speech or
debate in either House. As in this way the freedom of debate is preserved
in legislative bodies, so in like manner should the freedom of the ballot
be insured in lodges.
The sixth General Regulation requires unanimity in the ballot. Its
language is: "but 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."
This regulation, it will be remembered, was adopted in 1721. But in the
"New Regulations," adopted in 1754, and which are declared to have been
enacted "only for amending or explaining the Old Regulations for the good
of Masonry, without breaking in upon the ancient rules of the fraternity,
still preserving the old landmarks," it is said: "but it was found
inconvenient to insist upon unanimity in several cases; and, therefore,
the Grand Masters have allowed the lodges to admit a member, if not above
three black balls are against him; though some lodges desire no such
The Grand Lodge of England still acts under this new regulation, and
extends the number of black balls which will reject to three, though it
permits its subordinates, if they desire it, to require unanimity. But
nearly all the Grand Lodges of this country have adhered to the old
regulation, which is undoubtedly the better one, and by special enactment
have made the unanimous consent of all the Brethren present necessary to
the election of a candidate.
Another question here suggests itself. Can a member, who by the bye-laws
of his lodge is disqualified from the exercise of his other franchises as
a member, in consequence of being in arrears beyond a certain amount, be
prevented from depositing his ballot on the application of a candidate?
That by such a bye-law he may be disfranchised of his vote in electing
officers, or of the right to hold office, will be freely admitted. But the
words of the old regulation seem expressly, and without equivocation, to
require that _every member present_ shall vote. The candidate shall only
be admitted "by the unanimous consent of all the members of that lodge
then present when the candidate is proposed." This right of the members to
elect or reject their candidates is subsequently called "an inherent
privilege," which is not subject to a dispensation. The words are
explicit, and the right appears to be one guaranteed to every member so
long as he continues a member, and of which no bye-law can divest him as
long as the paramount authority of the Thirty-nine General Regulations is
admitted. I should say, then, that every member of a lodge present at
balloting for a candidate has a right to deposit his vote; and not only a
right, but a duty which he is to be compelled to perform; since, without
the unanimous consent of all present, there can be no election.
Our written laws are altogether silent as to the peculiar ceremonies which
are to accompany the act of balloting, which has therefore been generally
directed by the local usage of different jurisdictions. Uniformity,
however, in this, as in all other ritual observances, is to be commended,
and I shall accordingly here describe the method which I have myself
preferred and practised in balloting for candidates, and which is the
custom adopted in the jurisdiction of South Carolina.
The committee of investigation having reported favorably, the Master of
the lodge directs the Senior Deacon to prepare the ballot box. The mode in
which this is accomplished is as follows:--The Senior Deacon takes the
ballot box, and, opening it, places all the white and black balls
indiscriminately in one compartment, leaving the other entirely empty. He
then proceeds with the box to the Junior and Senior Wardens, who satisfy
themselves by an inspection that no ball has been left in the compartment
in which the votes are to be deposited. I remark here, in passing, that
the box, in this and the other instance to be referred to hereafter, is
presented to the inferior officer first, and then to his superior, that
the examination and decision of the former may be substantiated and
confirmed by the higher authority of the latter. Let it, indeed, be
remembered, that in all such cases the usage of masonic _circumambulation_
is to be observed, and that, therefore, we must first pass the Junior's
station before we can get to that of the Senior Warden.
These officers having thus satisfied themselves that the box is in a
proper condition for the reception of the ballots, it is then placed upon
the altar by the Senior Deacon, who retires to his seat. The Master then
directs the Secretary to call the roll, which is done by commencing with
the Worshipful Master, and proceeding through all the officers down to the
youngest member. As a matter of convenience, the Secretary generally votes
the last of those in the room, and then, if the Tiler is a member of the
lodge, he is called in, while the Junior Deacon tiles for him, and the
name of the applicant having been told him, he is directed to deposit his
ballot, which he does, and then retires.
As the name of each officer and member is called he approaches the altar,
and having made the proper masonic salutation to the Chair, he deposits
his ballot and retires to his seat. The roll should be called slowly, so
that at no time should there be more than one person present at the box;
for, the great object of the ballot being secrecy, no Brother should be
permitted so near the member voting as to distinguish the color of the
ball he deposits.
The box is placed on the altar, and the ballot is deposited with the
solemnity of a masonic salutation, that the voters may be duly impressed
with the sacred and responsible nature of the duty they are called on to
discharge. The system of voting thus described, is, therefore, far better
on this account than the one sometimes adopted in lodges, of handing round
the box for the members to deposit their ballots from their seats
The Master having inquired of the Wardens if all have voted, then orders
the Senior Deacon to "take charge of the ballot box." That officer
accordingly repairs to the altar, and taking possession of the box,
carries it, as before, to the Junior Warden, who examines the ballot, and
reports, if all the balls are white, that "the box is clear in the South,"
or, if there is one or more black balls, that "the box is foul in the
South." The Deacon then carries it to the Senior Warden, and afterwards to
the Master, who, of course, make the same report, according to the
circumstances, with the necessary verbal variation of "West" and "East."
If the box is _clear_--that is, if all the ballots are white--the Master
then announces that the applicant has been duly elected, and the Secretary
makes a record of the fact.
But if the box is declared to be _foul_, the Master inspects the number
of black balls; if he finds two, he declares the candidate to be rejected;
if only one, he so states the fact to the lodge, and orders the Senior
Deacon again to prepare the ballot box, and a second ballot is taken in
the same way. This is done lest a black ball might have been inadvertently
voted on the first ballot. If, on the second scrutiny, one black ball is
again found, the fact is announced by the Master, who orders the election
to lie over until the next stated meeting, and requests the Brother who
deposited the black ball to call upon him and state his reasons. At the
next stated meeting the Master announces these reasons to the lodge, if
any have been made known to him, concealing, of course, the name of the
objecting Brother. At this time the validity or truth of the objections
may be discussed, and the friends of the applicant will have an
opportunity of offering any defense or explanation. The ballot is then
taken a third time, and the result, whatever it may be, is final. As I
have already observed, in most of the lodges of this country, a
reappearance of the one black ball will amount to a rejection. In those
lodges which do not require unanimity, it will, of course, be necessary
that the requisite number of black balls must be deposited on this third
ballot to insure a rejection. But if, on inspection, the box is found to
be "clear," or without a black ball, the candidate is, of course, declared
to be elected. In any case, the result of the third ballot is final, nor
can it be set aside or reversed by the action of the Grand Master or Grand
Lodge; because, by the sixth General Regulation, already so frequently
cited, the members of every particular lodge are the best judges of the
qualifications of their candidates; and, to use the language of the
Regulation, "if a fractious member should be imposed on them, it might
spoil their harmony, or hinder their freedom, or even break and disperse
_Of the Reconsideration of the Ballot._
There are, unfortunately, some men in our Order, governed, not by
essentially bad motives, but by frail judgments and by total ignorance of
the true object and design of Freemasonry, who never, under any
circumstances, have recourse to the black ball, that great bulwark of
Masonry, and are always more or less incensed when any more judicious
Brother exercises his privilege of excluding those whom he thinks unworthy
of participation in our mysteries.
I have said, that these men are not governed by motives essentially bad.
This is the fact. They honestly desire the prosperity of the institution,
and they would not willfully do one act which would impede that
prosperity. But their judgments are weak, and their zeal is without
knowledge. They do not at all understand in what the true prosperity of
the Order consists, but really and conscientiously believing that its
actual strength will be promoted by the increase of the number of its
disciples; they look rather to the _quantity_ than to the _quality_ of the
applicants who knock at the doors of our lodges.
Now a great difference in respect to the mode in which the ballot is
conducted, will be found in those lodges which are free from the presence
of such injudicious brethren, and others into which they have gained
In a lodge in which every member has a correct notion of the proper moral
qualifications of the candidates for Masonry, and where there is a general
disposition to work well with a few, rather than to work badly with many,
when a ballot is ordered, each Brother, having deposited his vote,
quietly and calmly waits to hear the decision of the ballot box announced
by the Chair. If it is "clear," all are pleased that another citizen has
been found worthy to receive a portion of the illuminating rays of
Masonry. If it is "foul," each one is satisfied with the adjudication, and
rejoices that, although knowing nothing himself against the candidate,
some one has been present whom a more intimate acquaintance with the
character of the applicant has enabled to interpose his veto, and prevent
the purity of the Order from being sullied by the admission of an unworthy
candidate. Here the matter ends, and the lodge proceeds to other business.
But in a lodge where one of these injudicious and over-zealous Brethren is
present, how different is the scene. If the candidate is elected, he, too,
rejoices; but his joy is, that the lodge has gained one more member whose
annual dues and whose initiation fee will augment the amount of its
revenues. If he is rejected, he is indignant that the lodge has been
deprived of this pecuniary accession, and forthwith he sets to work to
reverse, if possible, the decision of the ballot box, and by a volunteer
defense of the rejected candidate, and violent denunciations of those who
opposed him, he seeks to alarm the timid and disgust the intelligent, so
that, on a _reconsideration_, they may be induced to withdraw their
The _motion for reconsideration_ is, then, the means generally adopted, by
such seekers after quantity, to insure the success of their efforts to
bring all into our fold who seek admission, irrespective of worth or
qualification. In other words, we may say, that _the motion for
reconsideration is the great antagonist of the purity and security of the
ballot box_. The importance, then, of the position which it thus assumes,
demands a brief discussion of the time and mode in which a ballot may be
In the beginning of the discussion, it may be asserted, that it is
competent for any brother to move a reconsideration of a ballot, or for a
lodge to vote on such a motion. The ballot is a part of the work of
initiating a candidate. It is the preparatory step, and is just as
necessary to his legal making as the obligation or the investiture. As
such, then, it is clearly entirely under the control of the Master. The
Constitutions of Masonry and the Rules and Regulations of every Grand and
Subordinate lodge prescribe the mode in which the ballot shall be
conducted, so that the sense of the members may be taken. The Grand Lodge
also requires that the Master of the lodge shall see that that exact mode
of ballot shall be pursued and no other, and it will hold him responsible
that there shall be no violation of the rule. If, then, the Master is
satisfied that the ballot has been regularly and correctly conducted, and
that no possible good, but some probable evil, would arise from its
reconsideration, it is not only competent for him, but it is his solemn
duty to refuse to permit any such reconsideration. A motion to that
effect, it may be observed, will always be out of order, although any
Brother may respectfully request the Worshipful Master to order such a
reconsideration, or suggest to him its propriety or expediency.
If, however, the Master is not satisfied that the ballot is a true
indication of the sense of the lodge, he may, in his own discretion, order
a reconsideration. Thus there may be but one black ball;--now a single
black ball may sometimes be inadvertently cast--the member voting it may
have been favorably disposed towards the candidate, and yet, from the
hurry and confusion of voting, or from the dimness of the light or the
infirmity of his own eyes, or from some other equally natural cause, he
may have selected a black ball, when he intended to have taken a white
one. It is, therefore, a matter of prudence and necessary caution, that,
when only one black ball appears, the Master should order a new ballot. On
this second ballot, it is to be presumed that more care and vigilance will
be used, and the reappearance of the black ball will then show that it was
But where two or three or more black balls appear on the first ballot,
such a course of reasoning is not authorized, and the Master will then be
right to refuse a reconsideration. The ballot has then been regularly
taken--the lodge has emphatically decided for a rejection, and any order
to renew the ballot would only be an insult to those who opposed the
admission of the applicant, and an indirect attempt to thrust an unwelcome
intruder upon the lodge.
But although it is in the power of the Master, under the circumstances
which we have described, to order a reconsideration, yet this prerogative
is accompanied with certain restrictions, which it may be well to notice.
In the first place, the Master cannot order a reconsideration on any other
night than that on which the original ballot was taken. After the
lodge is closed, the decision of the ballot is final, and there is no
human authority that can reverse it. The reason of this rule is evident.
If it were otherwise, an unworthy Master (for, unfortunately, all Masters
are not worthy) might on any subsequent evening avail himself of the
absence of those who had voted black balls, to order a reconsideration,
and thus succeed in introducing an unfit and rejected candidate into the
lodge, contrary to the wishes of a portion of its members.
Neither can he order a reconsideration on the same night, if any of the
Brethren who voted have retired. All who expressed their opinion on the
first ballot, must be present to express it on the second. The reasons for
this restriction are as evident as for the former, and are of the same
It must be understood, that I do not here refer to those reconsiderations
of the ballot which are necessary to a full understanding of the opinion
of the lodge, and which have been detailed in the ceremonial of the mode
of balloting, as it was described in the preceding Section.
It may be asked whether the Grand Master cannot, by his dispensations,
permit a reconsideration. I answer emphatically, NO. The Grand Master
possesses no such prerogative. There is no law in the whole jurisprudence
of the institution clearer than this--that neither the Grand Lodge nor the
Grand Master can interfere with the decision of the ballot box. In
Anderson's Constitutions, the law is laid down, under the head of "Duty of
Members" (edition of 1755, p. 312), that in the election of candidates the
Brethren "are to give their consent in their own prudent way, either
virtually or in form, but with unanimity." And the regulation goes on to
say: "Nor is this inherent privilege _subject to a dispensation_, because
the members of a lodge are the best judges of it; and because, if a
turbulent member should be imposed upon them, it might spoil their
harmony, or hinder the freedom of their communications, or even break and
disperse the lodge." This settles the question. A dispensation to
reconsider a ballot would be an interference with the right of the members
"to give their consent in their own prudent way;" it would be an
infringement of an "inherent privilege," and neither the Grand Lodge nor
the Grand Master can issue a dispensation for such a purpose. Every lodge
must be left to manage its own elections of candidates in its own prudent
I conclude this section by a summary of the principles which have been
discussed, and which I have endeavored to enforce by a process of
reasoning which I trust may be deemed sufficiently convincing. They are
1. It is never in order for a member to move for the reconsideration of a
ballot on the petition of a candidate for initiation, nor for a lodge to
entertain such a motion.
2. The Master alone can, for reasons satisfactory to himself, order such a
3. The Master cannot order a reconsideration on any subsequent night, nor
on the same night, after any member, who was present and voted, has
4. The Grand Master cannot grant a dispensation for a reconsideration, nor
in any other way interfere with the ballot. The same restriction applies
to the Grand Lodge.
_Of the Renewal of Applications by Rejected Candidates._
As it is apparent from the last section that there can be no
reconsideration by a lodge of a rejected petition, the question will
naturally arise, how an error committed by a lodge, in the rejection of a
worthy applicant, is to be corrected, or how such a candidate, when once
rejected, is ever to make a second trial, for it is, of course, admitted,
that circumstances may occur in which a candidate who had been once
blackballed might, on a renewal of his petition, be found worthy of
admission. He may have since reformed and abandoned the vicious habits
which caused his first rejection, or it may have been since discovered
that that rejection was unjust. How, then, is such a candidate to make a
It is a rule of universal application in Masonry, that no candidate,
having been once rejected, can apply to any other lodge for admission,
except to the one which rejected him. Under this regulation the course of
a second application is as follows:
Some Grand Lodges have prescribed that, when a candidate has been
rejected, it shall not be competent for him to apply within a year, six
months, or some other definite period. This is altogether a local
regulation--there is no such law in the Ancient Constitutions--and
therefore, where the regulations of the Grand Lodge of the jurisdiction
are silent upon the subject, general principles direct the following as
the proper course for a rejected candidate to pursue on a second
application. He must send in a new letter, recommended and vouched for as
before, either by the same or other Brethren--it must be again referred to
a committee--lie over for a month--and the ballot be then taken as is
usual in other cases. It must be treated in all respects as an entirely
new petition, altogether irrespective of the fact that the same person had
ever before made an application. In this way due notice will be given to
the Brethren, and all possibility of an unfair election will be avoided.
If the local regulations are silent upon the subject, the second
application may be made at any time after the rejection of the first, all
that is necessary being, that the second application should pass through
the same ordeal and be governed by the same rules that prevail in relation
to an original application.
_Of the necessary Probation and due Proficiency of Candidates before
There is, perhaps, no part of the jurisprudence of Masonry which it is
more necessary strictly to observe than that which relates to the
advancement of candidates through the several degrees. The method which is
adopted in passing Apprentices and raising Fellow Crafts--the probation
which they are required to serve in each degree before advancing to a
higher--and the instructions which they receive in their progress, often
materially affect the estimation which is entertained of the institution
by its initiates. The candidate who long remains at the porch of the
temple, and lingers in the middle chamber, noting everything worthy of
observation in his passage to the holy of holies, while he better
understands the nature of the profession upon which he has entered, will
have a more exalted opinion of its beauties and excellencies than he who
has advanced, with all the rapidity that dispensations can furnish, from
the lowest to the highest grades of the Order. In the former case, the
design, the symbolism, the history, and the moral and philosophical
bearing of each degree will be indelibly impressed upon the mind, and the
appositeness of what has gone before to what is to succeed will be readily
appreciated; but, in the latter, the lessons of one hour will be
obliterated by those of the succeeding one; that which has been learned in
one degree, will be forgotten in the next; and when all is completed, and
the last instructions have been imparted, the dissatisfied neophyte will
find his mind, in all that relates to Masonry, in a state of chaotic
confusion. Like Cassio, he will remember "a mass of things, but nothing
An hundred years ago it was said that "Masonry was a progressive science,
and not to be attained in any degree of perfection, but by time, patience,
and a considerable degree of application and industry." And it is
because that due proportion of time, patience and application, has not
been observed, that we so often see Masons indifferent to the claims of
the institution, and totally unable to discern its true character. The
arcana of the craft, as Dr. Harris remarks, should be gradually imparted
to its members, according to their improvement.
There is no regulation of our Order more frequently repeated in our
constitutions, nor one which should be more rigidly observed, than that
which requires of every candidate a "suitable proficiency" in one degree,
before he is permitted to pass to another. But as this regulation is too
often neglected, to the manifest injury of the whole Order, as well as of
the particular lodge which violates it, by the introduction of ignorant
and unskillful workmen into the temple, it may be worth the labor we shall
spend upon the subject, to investigate some of the authorities which
support us in the declaration, that no candidate should be promoted,
until, by a due probation, he has made "suitable proficiency in the
In one of the earliest series of regulations that have been
preserved--made in the reign of Edward III., it was ordained, "that such
as were to be admitted Master Masons, or Masters of work, should be
examined whether they be able of cunning to serve their respective Lords,
as well the lowest as the highest, to the honor and worship of the
aforesaid art, and to the profit of their Lords."
Here, then, we may see the origin of that usage, which is still practiced
in every well governed lodge, not only of demanding a proper degree of
proficiency in the candidate, but also of testing that proficiency by an
This cautious and honest fear of the fraternity, lest any Brother should
assume the duties of a position which he could not faithfully discharge,
and which is, in our time, tantamount to a candidate's advancing to a
degree for which he is not prepared, is again exhibited in the charges
enacted in the reign of James II., the manuscript of which was preserved
in the archives of the Lodge of Antiquity in London. In these charges it
is required, "that no Mason take on no lord's worke, nor any other man's,
unless he know himselfe well able to perform the worke, so that the craft
have no slander." In the same charges, it is prescribed that "no master,
or fellow, shall take no apprentice for less than seven years."
In another series of charges, whose exact date is not ascertained, but
whose language and orthography indicate their antiquity, it is said: "Ye
shall ordain the wisest to be Master of the work; and neither for love nor
lineage, riches nor favor, set one over the work who hath but little
knowledge, whereby the Master would be evil served, and ye ashamed."
These charges clearly show the great stress that was placed by our ancient
Brethren upon the necessity of skill and proficiency, and they have
furnished the precedents upon which are based all the similar regulations
that have been subsequently applied to Speculative Masonry.
In the year 1722, the Grand Lodge of England ordered the "Old Charges of
the Free and Accepted Masons" to be collected from the ancient records,
and, having approved of them, they became a part of the Constitutions of
Speculative Freemasonry. In these Charges, it is ordained that "a younger
Brother shall be instructed in working, to prevent spoiling the materials
for want of judgment, and for increasing and continuing of brotherly
Subsequently, in 1767, it was declared by the Grand Lodge, that "no lodge
shall be permitted to make and raise the same Brother, at one and the same
meeting, without a dispensation from the Grand Master, or his Deputy;"
and, lest too frequent advantage should be taken of this power of
dispensation, to hurry candidates through the degrees, it is added that
the dispensation, "_on very particular occasions only_, may be
The Grand Lodge of England afterwards found it necessary to be more
explicit on this subject, and the regulation of that body is now contained
in the following language:
"No candidate shall be permitted to receive more than one degree on the
same day, nor shall a higher degree in Masonry be conferred on any Brother
at a less interval than four weeks from his receiving a previous degree,
nor until he has passed an examination in open lodge in that degree."
This seems to be the recognized principle on which the fraternity are, at
this day, acting in this country. The rule is, perhaps, sometimes, and in
some places, in abeyance. A few lodges, from an impolitic desire to
increase their numerical strength, or rapidly to advance men of worldly
wealth or influence to high stations in the Order, may infringe it, and
neglect to demand of their candidates that suitable proficiency which
ought to be, in Masonry, an essential recommendation to promotion; but the
great doctrine that each degree should be well studied, and the candidate
prove his proficiency in it by an examination, has been uniformly set
forth by the Grand Lodge of the United States, whenever they have
expressed an opinion on the subject.
Thus, for instance, in 1845, the late Bro. A.A. Robertson, Grand Master of
New York, gave utterance to the following opinion, in his annual address
to the intelligent body over which he presided:
"The practice of examining candidates in the prior degrees, before
admission to the higher, in order to ascertain their proficiency, is
gaining the favorable notice of Masters of lodges, and cannot be too
highly valued, nor too strongly recommended to all lodges in this
jurisdiction. It necessarily requires the novitiate to reflect upon the
bearing of all that has been so far taught him, and consequently to
impress upon his mind the beauty and utility of those sublime truths,
which have been illustrated in the course of the ceremonies he has
witnessed in his progress in the mystic art. In a word, it will be the
means of making competent overseers of the work--and no candidate should
be advanced, until he has satisfied the lodge, by such examination, that
he has made the necessary proficiency in the lower degrees."
In 1845, the Grand Lodge of Iowa issued a circular to her subordinates,
in which she gave the following admonition:
"To guard against hasty and improper work, she prohibits a candidate from
being advanced till he has made satisfactory proficiency in the preceding
degrees, by informing himself of the lectures pertaining thereto; and to
suffer a candidate to proceed who is ignorant in this essential
particular, is calculated in a high degree to injure the institution and
retard its usefulness."
The Grand Lodge of Illinois has practically declared its adhesion to the
ancient regulation; for, in the year 1843, the dispensation of Nauvoo
Lodge, one of its subordinates, was revoked principally on the ground that
she was guilty "of pushing the candidate through the second and third
degrees, before he could possibly be skilled in the preceding degree." And
the committee who recommended the revocation, very justly remarked that
they were not sure that any length of probation would in all cases insure
skill, but they were certain that the ancient landmarks of the Order
required that the lodge should know that the candidate is well skilled in
one degree before being admitted to another.
The Grand Lodges of Massachusetts and South Carolina have adopted, almost
in the precise words, the regulation of the Grand Lodge of England,
already cited, which requires an interval of one month to elapse between
the conferring of degrees. The Grand Lodge of New Hampshire requires a
greater probation for its candidates; its constitution prescribes the
following regulation: "All Entered Apprentices must work five months as
such, before they can be admitted to the degree of Fellow Craft. All
Fellow Crafts must work in a lodge of Fellow Crafts three months, before
they can be raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. Provided,
nevertheless, that if any Entered Apprentice, or Fellow Craft, shall make
himself thoroughly acquainted with all the information belonging to his
degree, he may be advanced at an earlier period, at the discretion of the
But, perhaps, the most stringent rule upon this subject, is that which
exists in the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Hanover, which is in the
"No Brother can be elected an officer of a lodge until he has been three
years a Master Mason. A Fellow Craft must work at least one year in that
degree, before he can be admitted to the third degree. An Entered
Apprentice must remain at least two years in that degree."
It seems unnecessary to extend these citations. The existence of the
regulation, which requires a necessary probation in candidates, until due
proficiency is obtained, is universally admitted. The ancient
constitutions repeatedly assert it, and it has received the subsequent
sanction of innumerable Masonic authorities. But, unfortunately, the
practice is not always in accordance with the rule. And, hence, the object
of this article is not so much to demonstrate the existence of the law, as
to urge upon our readers the necessity of a strict adherence to it. There
is no greater injury which can be inflicted on the Masonic Order (the
admission of immoral persons excepted), than that of hurrying candidates
through the several degrees. Injustice is done to the institution, whose
peculiar principles and excellencies are never properly presented--and
irreparable injury to the candidate, who, acquiring no fair appreciation
of the ceremonies through which he rapidly passes, or of the instructions
which he scarcely hears, is filled either with an indifference that never
afterwards can be warmed into zeal, or with a disgust that can never be
changed into esteem. Masonry is betrayed in such an instance by its
friends, and often loses the influence of an intelligent member, who, if
he had been properly instructed, might have become one of its warmest and
most steadfast advocates.
This subject is so important, that I will not hesitate to add to the
influence of these opinions the great sanction of Preston's authority.
"Many persons," says that able philosopher of Masonry, "are deluded by the
vague supposition that our mysteries are merely nominal; that the
practices established among us are frivolous, and that our ceremonies may
be adopted, or waived at pleasure. On this false foundation, we find them
hurrying through all the degrees of the Order, without adverting to the
propriety of one step they pursue, or possessing a single qualification
requisite for advancement. Passing through the usual formalities, they
consider themselves entitled to rank as masters of the art, solicit and
accept offices, and assume the government of the lodge, equally
unacquainted with the rules of the institution they pretend to support, or
the nature of the trust they engage to perform. The consequence is
obvious; anarchy and confusion ensue, and the substance is lost in the
shadow. Hence men eminent for ability, rank, and fortune, are often led to
view the honors of Masonry with such indifference, that when their
patronage is solicited, they either accept offices with reluctance, or
reject them with disdain."
Let, then, no lodge which values its own usefulness, or the character of
our institution, admit any candidate to a higher degree, until he has made
suitable proficiency in the preceding one, to be always tested by a strict
examination in open lodge. Nor can it do so, without a palpable violation
of the laws of Masonry.
_Of Balloting for Candidates in each Degree._
Although there is no law, in the Ancient Constitutions, which in express
words requires a ballot for candidates in each degree, yet the whole tenor
and spirit of these constitutions seem to indicate that there should be
recourse to such a ballot. The constant reference, in the numerous
passages which were cited in the preceding Section, to the necessity of
an examination into the proficiency of those who sought advancement, would
necessarily appear to imply that a vote of the lodge must be taken on the
question of this proficiency. Accordingly, modern Grand Lodges have
generally, by special enactment, required a ballot to be taken on the
application of an Apprentice or Fellow Craft for advancement, and where no
such regulation has been explicitly laid down, the almost constant usage
of the craft has been in favor of such ballot.
The Ancient Constitutions having been silent on the subject of the letter
of the law, local usage or regulations must necessarily supply the
Where not otherwise provided by the Constitutions of a Grand Lodge or the
bye-laws of a subordinate lodge, analogy would instruct us that the
ballot, on the application of Apprentices or Fellow Crafts for
advancement, should be governed by the same principles that regulate the
ballot on petitions for initiation.
Of course, then, the vote should be unanimous: for I see no reason why a
lodge of Fellow Crafts should be less guarded in its admission of
Apprentices, than a lodge of Apprentices is in its admission of profanes.
Again, the ballot should take place at a stated meeting, so that every
member may have "due and timely notice," and be prepared to exercise his
"inherent privilege" of granting or withholding his consent; for it must
be remembered that the man who was worthy or supposed to be so, when
initiated as an Entered Apprentice, may prove to be unworthy when he
applies to pass as a Fellow Graft, and every member should, therefore,
have the means and opportunity of passing his judgment on that worthiness
If the candidate for advancement has been rejected once, he may again
apply, if there is no local regulation to the contrary. But, in such a
case, due notice should be given to all the members, which is best done by
making the application at one regular meeting, and voting for it on the
next. This, however, I suppose to be only necessary in the case of a
renewed application after a rejection. An Entered Apprentice or a Fellow
Craft is entitled after due probation to make his application for
advancement; and his first application may be balloted for on the same
evening, provided it be a regular meeting of the lodge. The members are
supposed to know what work is before them to do, and should be there to
But the case is otherwise whenever a candidate for advancement has been
rejected. He has now been set aside by the lodge, and no time is laid down
in the regulations or usages of the craft for his making a second
application. He may never do so, or he may in three months, in a year, or
in five years. The members are, therefore, no more prepared to expect this
renewed application at any particular meeting of the lodge, than they are
to anticipate any entirely new petition of a profane. If, therefore, the
second application is not made at one regular meeting and laid over to the
next, the possibility is that the lodge may be taken by surprise, and in
the words of the old Regulation, "a turbulent member may be imposed on
The inexpediency of any other course may be readily seen, from a
suppositions case. We will assume that in a certain lodge, A, who is a
Fellow Craft, applies regularly for advancement to the third degree. On
this occasion, for good and sufficient reasons, two of the members, B and
C, express their dissent by depositing black balls. His application to be
raised is consequently rejected, and he remains a Fellow Graft. Two or
three meetings of the lodge pass over, and at each, B and C are present;
but, at the fourth meeting, circumstances compel their absence, and the
friends of A, taking advantage of that occurrence, again propose him for
advancement; the ballot is forthwith taken, and he is elected and raised
on the same evening. The injustice of this course to B and C, and the evil
to the lodge and the whole fraternity, in this imposition of one who is
probably an unworthy person, will be apparent to every intelligent and
I do not, however, believe that a candidate should be rejected, on his
application for advancement, in consequence of objections to his moral
worth and character. In such a case, the proper course would be to prefer
charges, to try him as an Apprentice or Fellow Craft; and, if found
guilty, to suspend, expel, or otherwise appropriately punish him. The
applicant as well as the Order is, in such a case, entitled to a fair
trial. Want of proficiency, or a mental or physical disqualification
acquired since the reception of the preceding degree, is alone a
legitimate cause for an estoppal of advancement by the ballot. But this
subject will be treated of further in the chapter on the rights of Entered
_Of the Number to be Initiated at one Communication._
The fourth General Regulation decrees that "no Lodge shall make more than
five new Brothers at one time." This regulation has been universally
interpreted (and with great propriety) to mean that not more than five
degrees can be conferred at the same communication.
This regulation is, however, subject to dispensation by the Grand Master,
or Presiding Grand Officer, in which case the number to be initiated,
passed, or raised, will be restricted only by the words of the
The following, or fifth General Regulation, says that "no man can be made
or admitted a member of a particular lodge, without previous notice, one
month before, given to the same lodge."
Now, as a profane cannot be admitted an Entered Apprentice, or in other
words, a member of an Entered Apprentices' lodge, unless after one month's
notice, so it follows that an Apprentice cannot be admitted a member of a
Fellow Crafts' lodge, nor a Fellow Craft of a Masters', without the like
probation. For the words of the regulation which apply to one, will
equally apply to the others. And hence we derive the law, that a month at
least must always intervene between the reception of one degree and the
advancement to another. But this rule is also subject to a dispensation.
_Of Finishing the Candidates of one Lodge in another._
It is an ancient and universal regulation, that no lodge shall interfere
with the work of another by initiating its candidates, or passing or
raising its Apprentices and Fellow Crafts. Every lodge is supposed to be
competent to manage its own business, and ought to be the best judge of
the qualifications of its own members, and hence it would be highly
improper in any lodge to confer a degree on a Brother who is not of its
This regulation is derived from a provision in the Ancient Charges, which
have very properly been supposed to contain the fundamental law of
Masonry, and which prescribes the principle of the rule in the following
"None shall discover envy at the prosperity of a Brother, nor supplant him
or put him out of his work, if he be capable to finish the same; for no
man can finish another's work, so much to the Lord's profit, unless he be
thoroughly acquainted with the designs and draughts of him that began it."
There is, however, a case in which one lodge may, by consent, legally
finish the work of another. Let us suppose that a candidate has been
initiated in a lodge at A----, and, before he receives his second degree,
removes to B----, and that being, by the urgency of his business, unable
either to postpone his departure from A----, until he has been passed and
raised, or to return for the purpose of his receiving his second and third
degrees, then it is competent for the lodge at A---- to grant permission
to the lodge at B---- to confer them on the candidate.
But how shall this permission be given--by a unanimous vote, or merely by
a vote of the majority of the members at A----? Here it seems to me that,
so far as regards the lodge at A----, the reasons for unanimity no longer
exist. There is here no danger that a "fractious member will be imposed on
them," as the candidate, when finished, will become a member of the lodge
at B----. The question of consent is simply in the nature of a
resolution, and may be determined by the assenting votes of a majority of
the members at A---. It is, however, to be understood, that if any Brother
believes that the candidate is unworthy, from character, of further
advancement, he may suspend the question of consent, by preferring charges
against him. If this is not done, and the consent of the lodge is
obtained, that the candidate may apply to the lodge at B---, then when his
petition is read in that lodge, it must, of course, pass through the usual
ordeal of a month's probation, and a unanimous vote; for here the old
reasons for unanimity once more prevail.
I know of no ancient written law upon this subject, but it seems to me
that the course I have described is the only one that could be suggested
by analogy and common sense.
_Of the Initiation of Non-residents._
The subject of this section is naturally divided into two
branches:--First, as to the initiation by a lodge of a candidate, who,
residing in the same State or Grand Lodge jurisdiction, is still not an
inhabitant of the town in which the lodge to which he applies is
situated, but resides nearer to some other lodge; and, secondly, as to the
initiation of a stranger, whose residence is in another State, or under
the jurisdiction of another Grand Lodge.
1. The first of these divisions presents a question which is easily
answered. Although I can find no ancient regulation on this subject,
still, by the concurrent authority of all Grand Lodges in this country, at
least, (for the Grand Lodge of England has no such provision in its
Constitution,) every lodge is forbidden to initiate any person whose
residence is nearer to any other lodge. If, however, such an initiation
should take place, although the lodge would be censurable for its
violation of the regulations of its superior, yet there has never been any
doubt that the initiation would be good and the candidate so admitted
regularly made. The punishment must fall upon the lodge and not upon the
2. The second division presents a more embarrassing inquiry, on account of
the diversity of opinions which have been entertained on the subject. Can
a lodge in one State, or Grand Lodge jurisdiction, initiate the resident
of another State, and would such initiation be lawful, and the person so
initiated a regular Mason, or, to use the technical language of the Order,
a Mason made "in due form," and entitled to all the rights and privileges
of the Order?
The question is one of considerable difficulty; it has given occasion to
much controversy, and has been warmly discussed within the last few years
by several of the Grand Lodges of the United States.
In 1847, the Grand Lodge of Alabama adopted the following regulation,
which had been previously enacted by the Grand Lodge of Tennessee:
"Any person residing within the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge, who has
already, or shall hereafter, travel into any foreign jurisdiction, and
there receive the degrees of Masonry, such person shall not be entitled to
the rights, benefits, and privileges of Masonry within this jurisdiction,
until he shall have been regularly admitted a member of the subordinate
lodge under this Grand Lodge, nearest which he at the time resides, in the
manner provided by the Constitution of this Grand Lodge for the admission
The rule adopted by the Grand Lodge of Maryland is still more stringent.
It declares, "that if any individual, from selfish motives, from distrust
of his acceptance, or other causes originating in himself, knowingly and
willfully travel into another jurisdiction, and there receive the masonic
degrees, he shall be considered and held as a clandestine made Mason."
The Grand Lodge of New York, especially, has opposed these regulations,
inflicting a penalty on the initiate, and assigns its reasons for the
opposition in the following language:
"Before a man becomes a Mason, he is subject to no law which any Grand
Lodge can enact. No Grand Lodge has a right to make a law to compel any
citizen, who desires, to be initiated in a particular lodge, or in the
town or State of his residence; neither can any Grand Lodge forbid a
citizen to go where he pleases to seek acceptance into fellowship with the
craft; and where there is no right to compel or to forbid, there can be no
right to punish; but it will be observed, that the laws referred to were
enacted to punish the citizens of Maryland and Alabama, as Masons and
Brethren, for doing something before they were Masons and Brethren, which
they had a perfect right to do as citizens and freemen; and it must
certainly be regarded as an act of deception and treachery by a young
Mason, on returning home, to be told, that he is 'a clandestine Mason,'
that he 'ought to be expelled,' or, that he cannot be recognized as a
Brother till he 'joins a lodge where his residence is,' because he was
initiated in New York, in England, or in France, after having heard all
his life of the universality and oneness of the institution."
It seems to us that the Grand Lodge of New York has taken the proper view
of the subject; although we confess that we are not satisfied with the
whole course of reasoning by which it has arrived at the conclusion.
Whatever we may be inclined to think of the inexpediency of making
transient persons (and we certainly do believe that it would be better
that the character and qualifications of every candidate should be
submitted to the inspection of his neighbors rather than to that of
strangers), however much we may condemn the carelessness and facility of a
lodge which is thus willing to initiate a stranger, without that due
examination of his character, which, of course, in the case of
non-residents, can seldom be obtained, we are obliged to admit that such
makings are legal--the person thus made cannot be called a clandestine
Mason, because he has been made in a legally constituted lodge--and as he
is a regular Mason, we know of no principle by which he can be refused
admission as a visitor into any lodge to which he applies.
Masonry is universal in its character, and knows no distinction of nation
or of religion. Although each state or kingdom has its distinct Grand
Lodge, this is simply for purposes of convenience in carrying out the
principles of uniformity and subordination, which should prevail
throughout the masonic system. The jurisdiction of these bodies is
entirely of a masonic character, and is exercised only over the members of
the Order who have voluntarily contracted their allegiance. It cannot
affect the profane, who are, of course, beyond its pale. It is true, that
as soon as a candidate applies to a lodge for initiation, he begins to
come within the scope of masonic law. He has to submit to a prescribed
formula of application and entrance, long before he becomes a member of
the Order. But as this formula is universal in its operation, affecting
candidates who are to receive it and lodges which are to enforce it in all
places, it must have been derived from some universal authority. The
manner, therefore, in which a candidate is to be admitted, and the
preliminary qualifications which are requisite, are prescribed by the
landmarks, the general usage, and the ancient constitutions of the Order.
And as they have directed the _mode how_, they might also have prescribed
the _place where_, a man should be made a Mason. But they have done no
such thing. We cannot, after the most diligent search, find any
constitutional regulation of the craft, which refers to the initiation of
non-residents. The subject has been left untouched; and as the ancient and
universally acknowledged authorities of Masonry have neglected to
legislate on the subject, it is now too late for any modern and local
authority, like that of a Grand Lodge, to do so.
A Grand Lodge may, it is true, forbid--as Missouri, South Carolina,
Georgia, and several other Grand Lodges have done--the initiation of
non-residents, within its own jurisdiction, because this is a local law
enacted by a local authority; but it cannot travel beyond its own
territory, and prescribe the same rule to another Grand Lodge, which may
not, in fact, be willing to adopt it.
The conclusions, then, at which we arrive no this subject are these: The
ancient constitutions have prescribed no regulation on the subject of the
initiation of non-residents; it is, therefore, optional with every Grand
Lodge, whether it will or will not suffer such candidates to be made
within its own jurisdiction; the making, where it is permitted, is legal,
and the candidate so made becomes a regular Mason, and is entitled to the
right of visitation.
What, then, is the remedy, where a person of bad character, and having, in
the language of the Grand Lodge of Maryland, "a distrust of his
acceptance" at home, goes abroad and receives the degrees of Masonry? No
one will deny that such a state of things is productive of great evil to
the craft. Fortunately, the remedy is simple and easily applied. Let the
lodge, into whose jurisdiction he has returned, exercise its power of
discipline, and if his character and conduct deserve the punishment, let
him be expelled from the Order. If he is unworthy of remaining in the
Order, he should be removed from it at once; but if he is worthy of
continuing in it, there certainly can be no objection to his making use of
his right to visit.
Of the Rights of Entered Apprentices.
In an inquiry into the rights of Entered Apprentices, we shall not be much
assisted by the Ancient Constitutions, which, leaving the subject in the
position in which usage had established it, are silent in relation to what
is the rule. In all such cases, we must, as I have frequently remarked
before, in settling the law, have recourse to analogy, to the general
principles of equity, and the dictates of common sense, and, with these
three as our guides, we shall find but little difficulty in coming to a
At present, an Entered Apprentice is not considered a member of the Lodge,
which privilege is only extended to Master Masons. This was not formerly
the case. Then the Master's degree was not as indiscriminately conferred
as it is now. A longer probation and greater mental or moral
qualifications were required to entitle a candidate to this sublime
dignity. None were called Master Masons but such as had presided over
their Lodges, and the office of Wardens was filled by Fellow Crafts.
Entered Apprentices, as well as Fellow Crafts, were permitted to attend
the communications of the Grand Lodge, and express their opinions; and, in
1718, it was enacted that every new regulation, proposed in the Grand
Lodge, should be submitted to the consideration of even the youngest
Entered Apprentice. Brethren of this degree composed, in fact, at that
time, the great body of the craft. But, all these things have, since, by
the gradual improvement of our organization, undergone many alterations;
and Entered Apprentices seem now, by universal consent, to be restricted
to a very few rights. They have the right of sitting in all lodges of
their degree, of receiving all the instructions which appertain to it, but
not of speaking or voting, and, lastly, of offering themselves as
candidates for advancement, without the preparatory necessity of a formal
These being admitted to be the rights of an Entered Apprentice, few and
unimportant as they may be, they are as dear to him as those of a Master
Mason are to one who has been advanced to that degree; and he is, and
ought to be, as firmly secured in their possession. Therefore, as no Mason
can be deprived of his rights and privileges, except after a fair and
impartial trial, and the verdict of his peers, it is clear that the
Entered Apprentice cannot be divested of these rights without just such a
trial and verdict.
But, in the next place, we are to inquire whether the privilege of being
passed as a Fellow Craft is to be enumerated among these rights? And, we
clearly answer, No. The Entered Apprentice has the right of making the
application. Herein he differs from a profane, who has no such right of
application until he has qualified himself for making it, by becoming an
Entered Apprentice. But, if the application is granted, it is _ex gratia_,
or, by the favour of the lodge, which may withhold it, if it pleases. If
such were not the case, the lodge would possess no free will on the
subject of advancing candidates; and the rule requiring a probation and an
examination, before passing, would be useless and absurd--because, the
neglect of improvement or the want of competency would be attended with no
It seems to me, then, that, when an Apprentice applies for his second
degree, the lodge may, if it thinks proper, refuse to grant it; and that
it may express that refusal by a ballot. No trial is necessary, because no
rights of the candidate are affected. He is, by a rejection of his
request, left in the same position that he formerly occupied. He is still
an Entered Apprentice, in good standing; and the lodge may, at any time it
thinks proper, reverse its decision and proceed to pass him.
If, however, he is specifically charged with any offense against the laws
of Masonry, it would then be necessary to give him a trial. Witnesses
should be heard, both for and against him, and he should be permitted to
make his defense. The opinion of the lodge should be taken, as in all
other cases of trial, and, according to the verdict, he should be
suspended, expelled, or otherwise punished.
The effect of these two methods of proceeding is very different. When, by
a ballot, the lodge refuses to advance an Entered Apprentice, there is
not, necessarily, any stigma on his moral character. It may be, that the
refusal is based on the ground that he has not made sufficient proficiency
to entitle him to pass. Consequently, his standing as an Entered
Apprentice is not at all affected. His rights remain the same. He may
still sit in the lodge when it is opened in his degree; he may still
receive instructions in that degree; converse with Masons on masonic
subjects which are not beyond his standing; and again apply to the lodge
for permission to pass as a Fellow Craft.
But, if he be tried on a specific charge, and be suspended or expelled,
his moral character is affected. His masonic rights are forfeited; and he
can no longer be considered as an Entered Apprentice in good standing. He
will not be permitted to sit in his lodge, to receive masonic instruction,
or to converse with Masons on masonic subjects; nor can he again apply for
advancement until the suspension or expulsion is removed by the
spontaneous action of the lodge.
These two proceedings work differently in another respect. The Grand Lodge
will not interfere with a subordinate lodge in compelling it to pass an
Entered Apprentice; because every lodge is supposed to be competent to
finish, in its own time, and its own way, the work that it has begun. But,
as the old regulations, as well as the general consent of the craft, admit
that the Grand Lodge alone can expel from the rights and privileges of
Masonry, and that an expulsion by a subordinate lodge is inoperative until
it is confirmed by the Grand Lodge, it follows that the expulsion of the
Apprentice must be confirmed by that body; and that, therefore, he has a
right to appeal to it for a reversal of the sentence, if it was unjustly
Let it not be said that this would be placing an Apprentice on too great
an equality with Master Masons. His rights are dear to him; he has paid
for them. No man would become an Apprentice unless he expected, in time,
to be made a Fellow Craft, and then a Master. He is, therefore, morally
and legally wronged when he is deprived, without sufficient cause, of the
capacity of fulfilling that expectation. It is the duty of the Grand Lodge
to see that not even the humblest member of the craft shall have his
rights unjustly invaded; and it is therefore bound, as the conservator of
the rights of all, to inquire into the truth, and administer equity.
Whenever, therefore, even an Entered Apprentice complains that he has met
with injustice and oppression, his complaint should be investigated and
The question next occurs--What number of black balls should prevent an
Apprentice from passing to the second degree? I answer, the same number
that would reject the application of a profane for initiation into the
Order. And why should this not be so? Are the qualifications which would
be required of one applying, for the first time, for admission to the
degree of an Apprentice more than would subsequently be required of the
same person on his applying for a greater favor and a higher honor--that
of being advanced to the second degree? Or do the requisitions, which
exist in the earlier stages of Masonry, become less and less with every
step of the aspirant's progress? Viewing the question in this light--and,
indeed, I know of no other in which to view it--it seems to me to be
perfectly evident that the peculiar constitution and principles of our
Order will require unanimity in the election of a profane for initiation,
of an Apprentice for a Fellow Craft, and of a Fellow Craft for a Master
Mason; and that, while no Entered Apprentice can be expelled from the
Order, except by due course of trial, it is competent for the lodge, at
any time, on a ballot, to refuse to advance him to the second degree. But,
let it be remembered that the lodge which refuses to pass an Apprentice,
on account of any objections to his moral character, or doubts of his
worthiness, is bound to give him the advantage of a trial, and at once to
expel him, if guilty, or, if innocent, to advance him when otherwise
Of the Rights of Fellow Crafts.
In ancient times there were undoubtedly many rights attached to the second
degree which have now become obsolete or been repealed; for formerly the
great body of the fraternity were Fellow Crafts, and according to the old
charges, even the Grand Master might be elected from among them. The
Master and Wardens of Subordinate Lodges always were. Thus we are told
that no Brother can be Grand Master, "unless he has been a Fellow Craft
before his election," and in the ancient manner of constituting a lodge,
contained in the Book of Constitutions, it is said that "the
candidates, or the new Master and Wardens, being yet among the Fellow
Crafts, the Grand Master shall ask his Deputy if he has examined them,"
etc. But now that the great body of the Fraternity consists of Master
Masons, the prerogatives of Fellow Crafts are circumscribed within limits
nearly as narrow as those of Entered Apprentices. While, however,
Apprentices are not permitted to speak or vote, in ancient times, and up,
indeed, to a very late date. Fellow Crafts were entitled to take a part in
any discussion in which the lodge, while open in the first or second
degree, might engage, but not to vote. This privilege is expressly stated
by Preston, as appertaining to a Fellow Craft, in his charge to a
candidate, receiving that degree.
"As a Craftsman, in our private assemblies you may offer your sentiments
and opinions on such subjects as are regularly introduced in the Lecture,
under the superintendence of an experienced Master, who will guard the
landmark against encroachment."
This privilege is not now, however, granted in this country to Fellow
Crafts. All, therefore, that has been said in the preceding chapter, of
the rights of Entered Apprentices, will equally apply, _mutatis mutandis_,
to the rights of Fellow Crafts.
Of the Rights of Master Masons.
When a Mason has reached the third degree, he becomes entitled to all the
rights and privileges of Ancient Craft Masonry. These rights are extensive
and complicated; and, like his duties, which are equally as extensive,
require a careful examination, thoroughly to comprehend them. Four of
them, at least, are of so much importance as to demand a distinct
consideration. These are the rights of membership, of visitation, of
relief, and of burial. To each I shall devote a separate section.
_Of the Right of Membership._
The whole spirit and tenor of the General Regulations, as well as the
uniform usage of the craft, sustain the doctrine, that when a Mason is
initiated in a lodge, he has the right, by signing the bye-laws, to
become a member without the necessity of submitting to another ballot. In
the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of New York, this principle is
asserted to be one of the ancient landmarks, and is announced in the
following words: "Initiation makes a man a Mason; but he must receive the
Master's degree, and sign the bye-laws before he becomes a member of the
lodge." If the doctrine be not exactly a landmark (which I confess I
am not quite prepared to admit), it comes to us almost clothed with the
authority of one, from the sanction of universal and uninterrupted usage.
How long before he loses this right by a _non-user_, or neglect to avail
himself of it, is, I presume, a question to be settled by local authority.
A lodge, or a Grand Lodge, may affix the period according to its
discretion; but the general custom is, to require a signature of the
bye-laws, and a consequent enrollment in the lodge, within three months
after receiving the third degree. Should a Mason neglect to avail himself
of his privilege, he forfeits it (unless, upon sufficient cause, he is
excused by the lodge), and must submit to a ballot.
The reason for such a law is evident. If a Mason does not at once unite
himself with the lodge in which he was raised, but permits an extended
period of time to elapse, there is no certainty that his character or
habits may not have changed, and that he may not have become, since his
initiation, unworthy of affiliation. Under the general law, it is,
therefore, necessary that he should in such case submit to the usual
probation of one month, and an investigation of his qualifications by a
committee, as well as a ballot by the members.
But there are other privileges also connected with this right of
membership. A profane is required to apply for initiation to the lodge
nearest his place of residence, and, if there rejected, can never in
future apply to any other lodge. But the rule is different with respect to
the application of a Master Mason for membership.
A Master Mason is not restricted in his privilege of application for
membership within any geographical limits. All that is required of him is,
that he should be an affiliated Mason; that is, that he should be a
contributing member of a lodge, without any reference to its peculiar
locality, whether near to or distant from his place of residence. The Old
Charges simply prescribe, that every Mason ought to belong to a lodge. A
Mason, therefore, strictly complies with this regulation, when he unites
himself with any lodge, thus contributing to the support of the
institution, and is then entitled to all the privileges of an affiliated
A rejection of the application of a Master Mason for membership by a lodge
does not deprive him of the right of applying to another. A Mason is in
"good standing" until deprived of that character by the action of some
competent masonic authority; and that action can only be by suspension or
expulsion. Rejection does not, therefore, affect the "good standing" of
the applicant; for in a rejection there is no legal form of trial, and
consequently the rejected Brother remains in the same position after as
before his rejection. He possesses the same rights as before, unimpaired
and undiminished; and among these rights is that of applying for
membership to any lodge that he may select.
If, then, a Mason may be a member of a lodge distant from his place of
residence, and, perhaps, even situated in a different jurisdiction, the
question then arises whether the lodge within whose precincts he resides,
but of which he is not a member, can exercise its discipline over him
should he commit any offense requiring masonic punishment. On this subject
there is, among masonic writers, a difference of opinion. I, however,
agree with Brother Pike, the able Chairman of the Committee of
Correspondence of Arkansas, that the lodge can exercise such discipline. I
contend that a Mason is amenable for his conduct not only to the lodge of
which he may be a member, but also to any one within whose jurisdiction he
permanently resides. A lodge is the conservator of the purity and the
protector of the integrity of the Order within its precincts. The unworthy
conduct of a Mason, living as it were immediately under its government, is
calculated most injuriously to affect that purity and integrity. A lodge,
therefore, should not be deprived of the power of coercing such unworthy
Mason, and, by salutary punishment, of vindicating the character of the
institution. Let us suppose, by way of example, that a Mason living in San
Francisco, California, but retaining his membership in New York, behaves
in such an immoral and indecorous manner as to bring the greatest
discredit upon the Order, and to materially injure it in the estimation of
the uninitiated community. Will it be, for a moment, contended that a
lodge in San Francisco cannot arrest the evil by bringing the unworthy
Mason under discipline, and even ejecting him from the fraternity, if
severity like that is necessary for the protection of the institution? Or
will it be contended that redress can only be sought through the delay and
uncertainty of an appeal to his lodge in New York? Even if the words of
the ancient laws are silent on this subject, reason and justice would seem
to maintain the propriety and expediency of the doctrine that the lodge at
San Francisco is amply competent to extend its jurisdiction and exercise
its discipline over the culprit.
In respect to the number of votes necessary to admit a Master Mason
applying by petition for membership in a lodge, there can be no doubt that
he must submit to precisely the same conditions as those prescribed to a
profane on his petition for initiation. There is no room for argument
here, for the General Regulations are express on this subject.
"No man can be made or _admitted a member_ of a particular lodge," says
the fifth regulation, "without previous notice one month before given to
the said lodge."
And the sixth regulation adds, that "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."
So that it may be considered as settled law, so far as the General
Regulations can settle a law of Masonry, that a Master Mason can only be
admitted a member of a lodge when applying by petition, after a month's
probation, after due inquiry into his character, and after a unanimous
ballot in his favor.
But there are other rights of Master Masons consequent upon membership,
which remain to be considered. In uniting with a lodge, a Master Mason
becomes a participant of all its interests, and is entitled to speak and
vote upon all subjects that come before the lodge for investigation. He is
also entitled, if duly elected by his fellows, to hold any office in the
lodge, except that of Master, for which he must be qualified by previously
having occupied the post of a Warden.
A Master has the right in all cases of an appeal from the decision of the
Master or of the lodge.
A Master Mason, in good standing, has a right at any time to demand from
his lodge a certificate to that effect.
Whatever other rights may appertain to Master Masons will be the subjects
of separate sections.
_Of the Right of Visit._
Every Master Mason, who is an affiliated member of a lodge, has the right
to visit any other lodge as often as he may desire to do so. This right is
secured to him by the ancient regulations, and is, therefore,
irreversible. In the "Ancient Charges at the Constitution of a Lodge,"
formerly contained in a MS. of the Lodge of Antiquity in London, and whose
date is not later than 1688,it is directed "that every Mason receive
and cherish strange fellows when they come over the country, and set them
on work, if they will work as the manner is; that is to say, if the Mason
have any mould stone in his place, he shall give him a mould stone, and
set him on work; and if he have none, the Mason shall refresh him with
money unto the next lodge."
This regulation is explicit. It not only infers the right of visit, but
it declares that the strange Brother shall be welcomed, "received, and
cherished," and "set on work," that is, permitted to participate in the
work of your lodge. Its provisions are equally applicable to Brethren
residing in the place where the lodge is situated as to transient
Brethren, provided that they are affiliated Masons.
In the year 1819, the law was in England authoritatively settled by a
decree of the Grand Lodge. A complaint had been preferred against a lodge
in London, for having refused admission to some Brethren who were well
known to them, alleging that as the lodge was about to initiate a
candidate, no visitor could be admitted until that ceremony was concluded.
It was then declared, "that it is the undoubted right of every Mason who
is well known, or properly vouched, to visit any lodge during the time it
is opened for general masonic business, observing the proper forms to be
attended to on such occasions, and so that the Master may not be
interrupted in the performance of his duty."
A lodge, when not opened for "general masonic business," but when engaged
in the consideration of matters which interest the lodge alone, and which
it would be inexpedient or indelicate to make public, may refuse to admit
a visitor. Lodges engaged in this way, in private business, from which
visitors are excluded, are said by the French Masons to be opened "_en
To entitle him to this right of visit, a Mason must be affiliated, that
is, he must be a contributing member of some lodge. This doctrine is thus
laid down in the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of England:
"A Brother who is not a subscribing member to some lodge, shall not be
permitted to visit any one lodge in the town or place in which he resides,
more than once during his secession from the craft."
A non-subscribing or unaffiliated Mason is permitted to visit each lodge
once, and once only, because it is supposed that this visit is made for
the purpose of enabling him to make a selection of the one with which he
may prefer permanently to unite. But, afterwards, he loses this right of
visit, to discountenance those Brethren who wish to continue members of
the Order, and to partake of its pleasures and advantages, without
contributing to its support.
A Master Mason is not entitled to visit a lodge, unless he previously
submits to an examination, or is personally vouched for by a competent
Brother present; but this is a subject of so much importance as to claim
consideration in a distinct section.
Another regulation is, that a strange Brother shall furnish the lodge he
intends to visit with a certificate of his good standing in the lodge from
which he last hailed. This regulation has, in late years, given rise to
much discussion. Many of the Grand Lodges of this country, and several
masonic writers, strenuously contend for its antiquity and necessity,
while others as positively assert that it is a modern innovation upon
There can, however, I think, be no doubt of the antiquity of certificates.
That the system requiring them was in force nearly two hundred years ago,
at least, will be evident from the third of the Regulations made in
General Assembly, December 27, 1663, under the Grand Mastership of the
Earl of St. Albans, and which is in the following words:
"3. That no person hereafter who shall be accepted a Freemason, shall be
admitted into any lodge or assembly, until he has brought a certificate
of the time and place of his acceptation, from the lodge that accepted
him, unto the Master of that limit or division where such a lodge is
kept." This regulation has been reiterated on several occasions, by the
Grand Lodge of England in 1772, and at subsequent periods by several Grand
Lodges of this and other countries. It is not, however, in force in many
of the American jurisdictions.
Another right connected with the right of visitation is, that of demanding
a sight of the Warrant of Constitution. This instrument it is, indeed, not
only the right but the duty of every strange visitor carefully to inspect,
before he enters a lodge, that he may thus satisfy himself of the legality
and regularity of its character and authority. On such a demand being made
by a visitor for a sight of its Warrant, every lodge is bound to comply
with the requisition, and produce the instrument. The same rule, of
course, applies to lodges under dispensation, whose Warrant of
Dispensation supplies the place of a Warrant of Constitution.
_Of the Examination of Visitors._
It has already been stated, in the preceding section, that a Master Mason
is not permitted to visit a lodge unless he previously submits to an
examination, or is personally vouched for by some competent Brother
present. The prerogative of vouching for a Brother is an important one,
and will constitute the subject of the succeeding section. At present let
us confine ourselves to the consideration of the mode of examining a
Every visitor, who offers himself to the appointed committee of the lodge
for examination, is expected, as a preliminary step, to submit to the
Tiler's Obligation; so called, because it is administered in the Tiler's
room. As this obligation forms no part of the secret ritual of the Order,
but is administered to every person before any lawful knowledge of his
being a Mason has been received, there can be nothing objectionable in
inserting it here, and in fact, it will be advantageous to have the
precise words of so important a declaration placed beyond the possibility
of change or omission by inexperienced Brethren.
The oath, then, which is administered to the visitor, and which he may, if
he chooses, require every one present to take with him, is in the
"I, A. B., do hereby and hereon solemnly and sincerely swear, that I have
been regularly initiated, passed, and raised, to the sublime degree of a
Master Mason, in a just and legally constituted lodge of such, that I do
not now stand suspended or expelled, and know of no reason why I should
not hold masonic communication with my Brethren.
This declaration having been given in the most solemn manner, the
examination must then be conducted with the necessary forms. The good old
rule of "commencing at the beginning" should be observed. Every question
is to be asked and every answer demanded which is necessary to convince
the examiner that the party examined is acquainted with what he ought to
know, to entitle him to the appellation of a Brother. Nothing is to be
taken for granted--categorical answers must be required to all that it is
deemed important to be asked. No forgetfulness is to be excused, nor is
the want of memory to be accepted as a valid excuse for the want of
knowledge. The Mason, who is so unmindful of his duties as to have
forgotten the instructions he has received, must pay the penalty of his
carelessness, and be deprived of his contemplated visit to that society
whose secret modes of recognition he has so little valued as not to have
treasured them in his memory. While there are some things which may be
safely passed over in the examination of one who confesses himself to be
"rusty," or but recently initiated, because they are details which require
much study to acquire, and constant practice to retain, there are still
other things of great importance which must be rigidly demanded, and with
the knowledge of which the examiner cannot, under any circumstances,
Should suspicions of imposture arise, let no expression of these
suspicions be made until the final decree for rejection is pronounced. And
let that decree be uttered in general terms, such as: "I am not
satisfied," or, "I do not recognize you," and not in more specific terms,
such as, "You did not answer this inquiry," or, "You are ignorant on that
point." The visitor is only entitled to know, generally, that he has not
complied with the requisitions of his examiner. To descend to particulars
is always improper and often dangerous.
Above all, the examiner should never ask what are called "leading
questions," or such as include in themselves an indication of what the
answer is to be; nor should he in any manner aid the memory of the party
examined by the slightest hint. If he has it in him, it will come out
without assistance, and if he has it not, he is clearly entitled to no
Lastly, never should an unjustifiable delicacy weaken the rigor of these
rules. Let it be remembered, that for the wisest and most evident reasons,
the merciful maxim of the law, which says, that it is better that
ninety-nine guilty men should escape than that one innocent man should be
punished, is with us reversed, and that in Masonry _it is better that
ninety and nine true men should be turned away from the door of a lodge
than that one cowan should be admitted_.
_Of Vouching for a Brother._
An examination may sometimes be omitted when any competent Brother present
will vouch for the visitor's masonic standing and qualifications. This
prerogative of vouching is an important one which every Master Mason is
entitled, under certain restrictions, to exercise; but it is also one
which may so materially affect the well-being of the whole
fraternity--since by its injudicious use impostors might be introduced
among the faithful--that it should be controlled by the most stringent
To vouch for one, is to bear witness for him; and, in witnessing to truth,
every caution should be observed, lest falsehood should cunningly assume
its garb. The Brother who vouches should, therefore, know to a certainty
that the one for whom he vouches is really what he claims to be. He should
know this not from a casual conversation, nor a loose and careless
inquiry, but, as the unwritten law of the Order expresses it, from
"_strict trial, due examination, or lawful information_."
Of strict trial and due examination I have already treated in the
preceding section; and it only remains to say, that when the vouching is
founded on the knowledge obtained in this way, it is absolutely necessary
that the Brother so vouching shall be _competent_ to conduct such an
examination, and that his general intelligence and shrewdness and his
knowledge of Masonry shall be such as to place him above the probability
of being imposed upon. The important and indispensable qualification of a
voucher is, therefore, that he shall be competent. The Master of a lodge
has no right to accept, without further inquiry, the avouchment of a
young and inexperienced, or even of an old, if ignorant, Mason.
Lawful information, which is the remaining ground for an avouchment, may
be derived either from the declaration of another Brother, or from having
met the party vouched for in a lodge on some previous occasion.
If the information is derived from another Brother, who states that he has
examined the party, then all that has already been said of the competency
of the one giving the information is equally applicable. The Brother,
giving the original information, must be competent to make a rigid
examination. Again, the person giving the information, the one receiving
it, and the one of whom it is given, should be all present at the time;
for otherwise there would be no certainty of identity. Information,
therefore, given by letter or through a third party, is highly irregular.
The information must also be positive, not founded on belief or opinion,
but derived from a legitimate source. And, lastly, it must not have been
received casually, but for the very purpose of being used for masonic
purposes. For one to say to another in the course of a desultory
conversation: "A.B. is a Mason," is not sufficient. He may not be
speaking with due caution, under the expectation that his words will be
considered of weight. He must say something to this effect: "I know this
man to be a Master Mason," for such or such reasons, and you may safely
recognize him as such. This alone will insure the necessary care and
proper observance of prudence.
If the information given is on the ground that the person, vouched has
been seen sitting in a lodge by the voucher, care must be taken to inquire
if it was a "Lodge of Master Masons." A person may forget, from the lapse
of time, and vouch for a stranger as a Master Mason, when the lodge in
which he saw him was only opened in the first or second degree.
_Of the Right of Claiming Relief._
One of the great objects of our institution is, to afford relief to a
worthy, distressed Brother. In his want and destitution, the claim of a
Mason upon his Brethren is much greater than that of a profane. This is a
Christian as well as a masonic doctrine. "As we have therefore
opportunity," says St. Paul, "let us do good unto all men, especially
unto them who are of the household of faith."
This claim for relief he may present either to a lodge or to a Brother
Mason. The rule, as well as the principles by which it is to be regulated,
is laid down in that fundamental law of Masonry, the Old Charges, in the
following explicit words, under the head of "Behavior towards a strange
"You are cautiously to examine him, in such a method as prudence shall
direct you, that you may not be imposed upon by an ignorant, false
pretender, whom you are to reject with contempt and derision, and beware
of giving him any hints of knowledge.
"But if you discover him to be a true and genuine Brother, you are to
respect him accordingly; and if he is in want, you must relieve him if you
can, or else direct him how he may be relieved. You must employ him some
days, or else recommend him to be employed. But you are not charged to do
beyond your ability, only to prefer a poor Brother, that is a good man and
true, before any other people in the same circumstances."
This law thus laid down, includes, it will be perceived, as two important
prerequisites, on which to found a claim for relief, that the person
applying shall be in distress, and that he shall be worthy of assistance.
He must be in distress. Ours is not an insurance company, a joint stock
association, in which, for a certain premium paid, an equivalent may be
demanded. No Mason, or no lodge, is bound to give pecuniary or other aid
to a Brother, unless he really needs. The word " benefit," as usually used
in the modern friendly societies, has no place in the vocabulary of
Freemasonry. If a wealthy Brother is afflicted with sorrow or sickness, we
are to strive to comfort him with our sympathy, our kindness, and our
attention, but we are to bestow our eleemosynary aid only on the indigent
or the destitute.
He must also be worthy. There is no obligation on a Mason to relieve the
distresses, however real they may be, of an unworthy Brother. The claimant
must be, in the language of the Charge, "true and genuine." True here is
used in its good old Saxon meaning, of "faithful" or "trusty." A true
Mason is one who is mindful of his obligations, and who faithfully
observes and practices all his duties. Such a man, alone, can rightfully
claim the assistance of his Brethren.
But a third provision is made in the fundamental law; namely, that the
assistance is not to be beyond the ability of the giver. One of the most
important landmarks, contained in our unwritten law, more definitely
announces this provision, by the words, that the aid and assistance shall
be without injury to oneself or his family. Masonry does not require that
we shall sacrifice our own welfare to that of a Brother; but that with
prudent liberality, and a just regard to our own worldly means, we shall
give of the means with which Providence may have blessed us for the relief
of our distressed Brethren.
It is hardly necessary to say, that the claim for relief of a worthy
distressed Mason extends also to his immediate family.
_Of the Right of Masonic Burial._
After a very careful examination, I can find nothing in the old charges or
General Regulations, nor in any other part of the fundamental law, in
relation to masonic burial of deceased Brethren. It is probable that, at
an early period, when the great body of the craft consisted of Entered
Apprentices, the usage permitted the burial of members, of the first or
second degree, with the honors of Masonry. As far back as 1754,
processions for the purpose of burying Masons seemed to have been
conducted by some of the lodges with either too much frequency, or some
other irregularity; for, in November of that year, the Grand Lodge adopted
a regulation, forbidding them, under a heavy penalty, unless by permission
of the Grand Master, or his Deputy. As there were, comparatively
speaking, few Master Masons at that period, it seems a natural inference
that most of the funeral processions were for the burial of Apprentices,
or, at least, of Fellow Crafts.
But the usage since then, has been greatly changed; and by universal
consent, the law, as first committed to writing, by Preston, who was the
author of our present funeral service, is now adopted.
The Regulation, as laid down by Preston, is so explicit, that I prefer
giving it in his own words.
"No Mason can be interred with the formalities of the Order, unless it be
at his own special request, communicated to the Master of the Lodge of
which he died a member--foreigners and sojourners excepted; nor unless he
has been advanced to the third degree of Masonry, from which restriction
there can be no exception. Fellow Crafts or Apprentices are not entitled
to the funeral obsequies."
This rule has been embodied in the modern Constitutions of the Grand Lodge
of England; and, as I have already observed, appears by universal consent
to have been adopted as the general usage.
The necessity for a dispensation, which is also required by the modern
English Constitutions, does not seem to have met with the same general
approval, and in this country, dispensations for funeral processions are
not usually, if at all, required. Indeed, Preston himself, in explaining
the law, says that it was not intended to restrict the privileges of the
regular lodges, but that, "by the universal practice of Masons, every
regular lodge is authorized by the Constitution to act on such occasions
when limited to its own members." It is only when members of other
lodges, not under the control of the Master, are convened, that a
dispensation is required. But in America, Grand Lodges or Grand Masters
have not generally interfered with the rights of the lodges to bury the
dead; the Master being of course amenable to the constituted authorities
for any indecorum or impropriety.
Of the Rights of Past Masters.
I have already discussed the right of Past Masters to become members of a
Grand Lodge, in a preceding part of this work, and have there arrived
at the conclusion that no such inherent right exists, and that a Grand
Lodge may or may not admit them to membership, according to its own notion
of expediency. Still the fact, that they are competent by their masonic
rank of accepting such a courtesy when extended, in itself constitutes a
prerogative; for none but Masters, Wardens, or Past Masters, can under any
circumstances become members of a Grand Lodge.
Past Masters possess a few other positive rights.
In the first place they have a right to install their successors, and at
all times subsequent to their installation to be present at the ceremony
of installing Masters of lodges. I should scarcely have deemed it
necessary to dwell upon so self-evident a proposition, were it not that it
involves the discussion of a question which has of late years been warmly
mooted in some jurisdictions, namely, whether this right of being present
at an installation should, or should not, be extended to Past Masters,
made in Royal Arch Chapters.
In view of the fact, that there are two very different kinds of possessors
of the same degree, the Grand Lodge of England has long since
distinguished them as "virtual" and as "actual" Past Masters. The terms
are sufficiently explicit, and have the advantage of enabling us to avoid
circumlocution, and I shall, therefore, adopt them.
An _actual Past Master_ is one who has been regularly installed to preside
over a symbolic lodge under the jurisdiction of a Grand Lodge. A _virtual
Past Master_ is one who has received the degree in a chapter, for the
purpose of qualifying him for exaltation to the Royal Arch.
Now the question to be considered is this. Can a virtual Past Master be
permitted to be present at the installation of an actual Past Master?
The Committee of Correspondence of New York, in 1851, announced the
doctrine, that a Chapter, or virtual Past Master, cannot legally install
the Master of a Symbolic Lodge; but that there is no rule forbidding his
being present at the ceremony. This doctrine has been accepted by several
Grand Lodges, while others again refuse to admit the presence of a virtual
Past Master at the installation-service.
In South Carolina, for instance, by uninterrupted usage, virtual Past
Masters are excluded from the ceremony of installation.
In Louisiana, under the high authority of the late Brother Gedge, it is
asserted, that "it is the bounden duty of all Grand Lodges to prevent the
possessors of the (chapter) degree from the exercise of any function
appertaining to the office and attributes of an installed Master of a
lodge of Symbolic Masonry, and refuse to recognize them as belonging to
the order of Past Masters."
Brother Albert Pike, whose opinion on masonic jurisprudence is entitled to
the most respectful consideration, has announced a similar doctrine in one
of his elaborate reports to the Grand Chapter of Arkansas. He does not
consider "that the Past Master's degree, conferred in a chapter, invests
the recipient with any rank or authority, except within the chapter
itself; that it no ways qualifies or authorizes him to preside in the
chair of a lodge: that a lodge has no legal means of knowing that he has
received the degree in a chapter: for it is not supposed to know anything
that takes place there any more than it knows what takes place in a Lodge
of Perfection, or a Chapter of Knights of the Rose Croix;" and, of course,
if the Past Masters of a lodge have no such "legal means" of recognition
of Chapter Masters, they cannot permit them to be present at an
This is, in fact, no new doctrine. Preston, in his description of the
installation ceremony, says: "The new Master is then conducted to an
adjacent room, where he is regularly installed, and bound to his trust in
ancient form, in the presence of at least _three installed Masters_"
And Dr. Oliver, in commenting on this passage, says, "this part of the
ceremony can only be orally communicated, nor can any but _installed_
Masters be present."
And this rule appears to be founded on the principles of reason. There can
be no doubt, if we carefully examine the history of Masonry in this
country and in England, that the degree of Past Master was originally
conferred by Symbolic Lodges as an honorarium or reward bestowed upon
those Brethren who had been found worthy to occupy the Oriental Chair. In
so far it was only a degree of office, and could be obtained only from the
Lodge in which the office had been conferred. At a later period it was
deemed an essential prerequisite to exaltation in the degree of Royal
Arch, and was, for that purpose, conferred on candidates for that
position, while the Royal Arch degree was under the control of the
symbolic Lodges, but still only conferred by the Past Masters of the
Lodge. But subsequently, when the system of Royal Arch Masonry was greatly
enlarged and extended in this country, and chapters were organized
independent of the Grand and symbolic Lodges, these Chapters took with
them the Past Master's degree, and assumed the right of conferring it on
their candidates. Hence arose the anomaly which now exists in American
Masonry, of two degrees bearing the same name, and said to be almost
identical in character, conferred by two different bodies under entirely
different qualifications and for totally different purposes. As was to be
expected, when time had in some degree obliterated the details of history,
each party began to claim for itself the sovereign virtue of legitimacy.
The Past Masters of the Chapters denied the right of the Symbolic Lodges
to confer the degree, and the latter, in their turn, asserted that the
degree, as conferred in the Chapter, was an innovation.
The prevalence of the former doctrine would, of course, tend to deprive
the Symbolic Lodges of a vested right held by them from the most ancient
times--that, namely, of conferring an honorarium on their Masters elect.
On the whole, then, from this view of the surreptitious character of the
Chapter Degree, and supported by the high authority whom I have cited, as
well as by the best usage, I am constrained to believe that the true rule
is, to deny the Chapter, or Virtual Past Masters, the right to install, or
to be present at the installation of the Master of a Symbolic Lodge. A
Past Master may preside over a lodge in the absence of the Master,
provided he is invited to do so by the Senior Warden present. The Second
General Regulation gave the power of presiding, during the absence of the
Master, to the last Past Master present, after the lodge had been
congregated by the Senior Warden; but two years afterwards, the rule was
repealed, and the power of presiding in such cases was vested in the
Senior Warden. And accordingly, in this country, it has always been held,
that in the absence of the Master, his authority descends to the Senior
Warden, who may, however, by courtesy, offer the chair to a Past Master
present, after the lodge has been congregated. Some jurisdictions have
permitted a Past Master to preside in the absence of the Master and both
Wardens, provided he was a member of that lodge. But I confess that I can
find no warrant for this rule in any portion of our fundamental laws. The
power of congregating the lodge in the absence of the Master has always
been confined to the Wardens; and it therefore seems to me, that when both
the Master and Wardens are absent, although a Past Master may be present,
the lodge cannot be opened.
A Past Master is eligible for election to the chair, without again passing
through the office of a Warden.
He is also entitled to a seat in the East, and to wear a jewel and collar
peculiar to his dignity.
By an ancient regulation, contained in the Old Charges, Past Masters alone
were eligible to the office of Grand Warden. The Deputy Grand Master was
also to be selected from among the Masters, or Past Masters of Lodges. No
such regulation was in existence as to the office of Grand Master, who
might be selected from the mass of the fraternity. At the present time, in
this country, it is usual to select the Grand officers from among the Past
Masters of the jurisdiction, though I know of no ancient law making such a
regulation obligatory, except in respect to the affairs of Grand Wardens
and Deputy Grand Master.
Affiliation is defined to be the act by which a lodge receives a Mason
among its members. A profane is said to be "initiated," but a Mason is
Now the mode in which a Mason becomes affiliated with a lodge, in some
respects differs from, and in others resembles, the mode in which a
profane is initiated.
A Mason, desiring to be affiliated with a lodge, must apply by petition;
this petition must be referred to a committee for investigation of
character, he must remain in a state of probation for one month, and must
then submit to a ballot, in which unanimity will be required for his
admission. In all these respects, there is no difference in the modes of
regulating applications for initiation and affiliation. The Fifth and
Sixth General Regulations, upon which these usages are founded, draw no
distinction between the act of making a Mason and admitting a member. The
two processes are disjunctively connected in the language of both
regulations. "No man can be made, _or admitted a member_ * * * * without
previous notice one month before;" are the words of the Fifth Regulation.
And in a similar spirit the Sixth adds: "But 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."
None but Master Masons are permitted to apply for affiliation; and every
Brother so applying must bring to the lodge to which he applies a
certificate of his regular dismission from the lodge of which he was last
a member. This document is now usually styled a "demit," and should
specify the good standing of the bearer at the time of his resignation or
Under the regulations of the various Grand Lodges of this country, a
profane cannot, as has been already observed, apply for initiation in any
other lodge than the one nearest to his residence. No such regulation,
however, exists in relation to the application of a Mason for
affiliation. Having once been admitted into the Order, he has a right to
select the lodge with which he may desire to unite himself. He is not even
bound to affiliate with the lodge in which he was initiated, but after
being raised, may leave it, without signing the bye-laws, and attach
himself to another.
A profane, having been rejected by a lodge, can never apply to any other
for initiation. But a Mason, having been rejected, on his application for
affiliation, by a lodge, is not thereby debarred from subsequently making
a similar application to any other.
In some few jurisdictions a local regulation has of late years been
enacted, that no Mason shall belong to more than one lodge. It is, I
presume, competent for a Grand Lodge to enact such a regulation; but where
such enactment has not taken place, we must be governed by the ancient and
The General Regulations, adopted in 1721, contain no reference to this
case; but in a new regulation, adopted on the 19th February, 1723, it was
declared that "no Brother shall belong to more than one lodge within the
bills of mortality." This rule was, therefore, confined to the lodges in
the city of London, and did not affect the country lodges. Still,
restricted as it was in its operation, Anderson remarks, "this regulation
is neglected for several reasons, and now obsolete." Custom now in
England and in other parts of Europe, as well as in some few portions of
this country, is adverse to the regulation; and where no local law exists
in a particular jurisdiction, I know of no principle of masonic
jurisprudence which forbids a Mason to affiliate himself with more than
The only objection to it is one which must be urged, not by the Order, but
by the individual. It is, that his duties and his responsibilities are
thus multiplied, as well as his expenses. If he is willing to incur all
this additional weight in running his race of Masonry, it is not for
others to resist this exuberance of zeal. The Mason, however, who is
affiliated with more than one lodge, must remember that he is subject to
the independent jurisdiction of each; may for the same offense be tried in
each, and, although acquitted by all except one, that, if convicted by
that one, his conviction will, if he be suspended or expelled, work his
suspension or expulsion in all the others.
To demit from a lodge is to resign one's membership, on which occasion a
certificate of good standing and a release from all dues is given to the
applicant, which is technically called a _demit_.
The right to demit or resign never has, until within a few years, been
denied. In 1853, the Grand Lodge of Connecticut adopted a regulation "that
no lodge should grant a demit to any of its members, except for the
purpose of joining some other lodge; and that no member shall be
considered as having withdrawn from one lodge until he has actually become
a member of another." Similar regulations have been either adopted or
proposed by a few other Grand Lodges, but I much doubt both their
expediency and their legality. This compulsory method of keeping Masons,
after they have once been made, seems to me to be as repugnant to the
voluntary character of our institution as would be a compulsory mode of
making them in the beginning. The expediency of such a regulation is also
highly questionable. Every candidate is required to come to our doors "of
his own free will and accord," and surely we should desire to keep none
among us after that free will is no longer felt. We are all familiar with
the Hudibrastic adage, that
"A man convinced against his will,
Is of the same opinion still,"
and he who is no longer actuated by that ardent esteem for the institution
which would generate a wish to continue his membership, could scarcely
have his slumbering zeal awakened, or his coldness warmed by the bolts and
bars of a regulation that should keep him a reluctant prisoner within the
walls from which he would gladly escape. Masons with such dispositions we
can gladly spare from our ranks.
The Ancient Charges, while they assert that every Mason should belong to a
lodge, affix no penalty for disobedience. No man can be compelled to
continue his union with a society, whether it be religious, political, or
social, any longer than will suit his own inclinations or sense of duty.
To interfere with this inalienable prerogative of a freeman would be an
infringement on private rights. A Mason's initiation was voluntary, and
his continuance in the Order must be equally so.
But no man is entitled to a demit, unless at the time of demanding it he
be in good standing and free from all charges. If under charges for crime,
he must remain and abide his trial, or if in arrears, must pay up his
There is, however, one case of demission for which a special law has been
enacted. That is, when several Brethren at the same time request demits
from a lodge. As this action is sometimes the result of pique or anger,
and as the withdrawal of several members at once might seriously impair
the prosperity, or perhaps even endanger the very existence of the lodge,
it has been expressly forbidden by the General Regulations, unless the
lodge has become too numerous for convenient working; and not even then is
permitted except by a Dispensation. The words of this law are to be found
in the Eighth General Regulation, as follows:
"No set or number of Brethren shall withdraw or separate themselves from
the lodge in which they were made Brethren, or were afterwards admitted
members, unless the lodge becomes too numerous; nor even then, without a
dispensation from the Grand Master or his Deputy; and when they are thus
separated, they must either immediately join themselves to such other
lodge as they shall like best, with the unanimous consent of that other
lodge to which they go, or else they must obtain the Grand Master's
warrant to join in forming a new lodge."
It seems, therefore, that, although a lodge cannot deny the right of a
single member to demit, when a sort of conspiracy may be supposed to be
formed, and several Brethren present their petitions for demits at one and
the same time, the lodge may not only refuse, but is bound to do so,
unless under a dispensation, which dispensation can only be given in the
case of an over-populous lodge.
With these restrictions and qualifications, it cannot be doubted that
every Master Mason has a right to demit from his lodge at his own
pleasure. What will be the result upon himself, in his future relations to
the Order, of such demission, will constitute the subject of the
Of Unaffiliated Masons.
An unaffiliated Mason is one who is not connected by membership with any
lodge. There can be no doubt that such a position is contrary to the
spirit of our institution, and that affiliation is a duty obligatory on
every Mason. The Old Charges, which have been so often cited as the
fundamental law of Masonry, say on this subject: "every Brother ought to
belong to a lodge and to be subject to its bye-laws and the General
Explicitly as this doctrine has been announced, it has been too little
observed, in consequence of no precise penalty having been annexed to its
violation. In all times, unaffiliated Masons have existed--Masons who have
withdrawn from all active participation in the duties and responsibilities
of the Order, and who, when in the hour of danger or distress, have not
hesitated to claim its protection or assistance, while they have refused
in the day of their prosperity to add anything to its wealth, its power,
or its influence. In this country, the anti-masonic persecutions of 1828,
and a few years subsequently, by causing the cessation of many lodges,
threw a vast number of Brethren out of all direct connection with the
institution; on the restoration of peace, and the renewal of labor by the
lodges, too many of these Brethren neglected to reunite themselves with
the craft, and thus remained unaffiliated. The habit, thus introduced, was
followed by others, until the sin of unaffiliation has at length arrived
at such a point of excess, as to have become a serious evil, and to have
attracted the attention and received the condemnation of almost every
A few Grand Lodges have denied the right of a Mason permanently to demit
from the Order. Texas, for instance, has declared that "it does not
recognize the right of a Mason to demit or separate himself from the lodge
in which he was made, or may afterwards be admitted, except for the
purpose of joining another lodge, or when he may be about to remove
without the jurisdiction of the lodge of which he may be a member." A
few other Grand Lodges have adopted a similar regulation; but the
prevailing opinion of the authorities appears to be, that it is competent
to interfere with the right to demit, certain rights and prerogatives
being, however, lost by such demission.
Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio, and one or two other Grand Lodges, while not
positively denying the right of demission, have at various times levied a
tax or contribution on the demitted or unaffiliated Masons within their
respective jurisdictions. This principle, however, has also failed to
obtain the general concurrence of other Grand Lodges, and some of them, as
Maryland, have openly denounced it. After a careful examination of the
authorities, I cannot deny to any man the _right_ of withdrawing,
whensoever he pleases, from a voluntary association--the laws of the land
would not sustain us in the enforcement of such a regulation; and our own
self-respect should prevent us from attempting it. If, then, he has a
right to withdraw, it clearly follows that we have no right to tax him,
which is only one mode of inflicting a fine or penalty for an act, the
right to do which we have acceded. In the strong language of the Committee
of Correspondence of Maryland: "The object of Masonry never was to
extort, _nolens volens,_ money from its votaries. Such are not its
principles or teaching. The advocating such doctrines cannot advance the
interest or reputation of the institution; but will, as your committee
fear, do much to destroy its usefulness. Compulsive membership deprives it
of the title, _Free_ and Accepted."
But as it is an undoubted precept of the Order that every Mason should
belong to a lodge, and contribute, so far as his means will allow, to the
support of the institution, and as, by his demission, for other than
temporary purposes, he violates the principles and disobeys the precepts
of the Order, it naturally follows that his withdrawal must place him in a
different position from that which he would occupy as an affiliated Mason.
It is now time for us to inquire what that new position is.
We may say, then, that, whenever a Mason permanently withdraws his
membership, he at once, and while he continues unaffiliated, dissevers all
connection between himself and the _Lodge organization_ of the Order. He,
by this act, divests himself of all the rights and privileges which belong
to him as a member of that organization. Among these rights and privileges
are those of visitation, of pecuniary aid, and of masonic burial.
Whenever he approaches the door of a lodge, asking to enter or seeking for
assistance, he is to be met in the light of a profane. He may knock, but
the door must not be opened--he may ask, but he is not to receive. The
work of the lodge is not to be shared by those who have thrown aside their
aprons and their implements, and abandoned the labors of the Temple--the
funds of the lodge are to be distributed only among these who are aiding,
by their individual contributions, to the formation of similar funds in
But from the well-known and universally-admitted maxim of "once a Mason,
and always a Mason," it follows that a demitted Brother cannot by such
demission divest himself of all his masonic responsibilities to his
Brethren, nor be deprived of their correlative responsibility to him. An
unaffiliated Mason is still bound by certain obligations, of which he
cannot, under any circumstances, divest himself, and by similar
obligations are the fraternity bound to him. These relate to the duties of
secrecy and of aid in the imminent hour of peril. Of the first of these
there can be no doubt; and as to the last, the words of the precept
directing it leaves us no option; nor is it a time when the G.H.S. of D.
is thrown out to inquire into the condition of the party.
Speaking on this subject, Brother Albert Pike, in his report to the Grand
Lodge of Arkansas, says "if a person appeals to us as a Mason in imminent
peril, or such pressing need that we have not time to inquire into his
worthiness, then, lest we might refuse to relieve and aid a worthy
Brother, we must not stop to inquire _as to anything_." But I do not think
that the learned Brother has put the case in the strongest light. It is
not alone "lest we might refuse to relieve and aid a worthy Brother," that
we are in cases of "imminent peril" to make no pause for deliberation. But
it is because we are bound by our highest obligations at all times, and to
all Masons, to give that aid when _duly_ called for.
I may, then, after this somewhat protracted discussion, briefly
recapitulate the position, the rights and the responsibilities of an
unaffiliated Mason as follows:
1. An unaffiliated Mason is still bound by all his masonic duties and
obligations, excepting those connected with the organization of the lodge.
2. He has a right to aid in imminent peril when _he asks for that aid in
the_ proper _and conventional way_.
3. He loses the right to receive pecuniary relief.
4. He loses the general right to visit lodges, or to walk in masonic
5. He loses the right of masonic burial.
6. He still remains subject to the government of the Order, and may be
tried and punished for any offense as an affiliated Mason would be, by the
lodge within whose geographical jurisdiction he resides.
Of Masonic Crimes and Punishments.
Of What Are Masonic Crimes.
The division of wrongs, by the writers on municipal law, into private and
public, or civil injuries and crimes and misdemeanors, does not apply to
the jurisprudence of Freemasonry. Here all wrongs are crimes, because they
are a violation of the precepts of the institution; and an offense against
an individual is punished, not so much because it is a breach of his
private rights, as because it affects the well-being of the whole masonic
In replying to the question, "what are masonic crimes?" by which is meant
what crimes are punishable by the constituted authorities, our safest
guide will be that fundamental law which is contained in the Old Charges.
These give a concise, but succinct summary of the duties of a Mason, and,
of course, whatever is a violation of any one of these duties will
constitute a masonic crime, and the perpetrator will be amenable to
But before entering on the consideration of these penal offenses, it will
be well that we should relieve the labor of the task, by inquiring what
crimes or offenses are not supposed to come within the purview of masonic
Religion and politics are subjects which it is well known are stringently
forbidden to be introduced into Masonry. And hence arises the doctrine,
that Masonry will not take congnizance of religious or political offenses.
Heresy, for instance, is not a masonic crime. Masons are obliged to use
the words of the Old Charges, "to that religion in which all men agree,
leaving their particular opinions to themselves;" and, therefore, as long
as a Mason acknowledges his belief in the existence of one God, a lodge
can take no action on his peculiar opinions, however heterodox they may
In like manner, although all the most ancient and universally-received
precepts of the institution inculcate obedience to the civil powers, and
strictly forbid any mingling in plots or conspiracies against the peace
and welfare of the nation, yet no offense against the state, which is
simply political in its character, can be noticed by a lodge. On this
important subject, the Old Charges are remarkably explicit. They say,
putting perhaps the strongest case by way of exemplifying the principle,
"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 cannot expel him from
the lodge, and his relation to it remains indefeasible_"
The lodge can, therefore, take no cognizance of religious or political
The first charge says: "a Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the moral
law." Now, although, in a theological sense, the ten commandments are said
to embrace and constitute the moral law, because they are its best
exponent, yet jurists have given to the term a more general latitude, in
defining the moral laws to be "the eternal, immutable laws of good and
evil, to which the Creator himself, in all dispensations, conforms, and
which he has enabled human reason to discover, so far as they are
necessary for the conduct of human actions." Perhaps the well known
summary of Justinian will give the best idea of what this law is, namely,
that we "should live honestly, (that is to say, without reproach,)
should injure nobody, and render to every one his just due."
If such, then, be the meaning of the moral law, and if every Mason is by
his tenure obliged to obey it, it follows, that all such crimes as profane
swearing or great impiety in any form, neglect of social and domestic
duties, murder and its concomitant vices of cruelty and hatred, adultery,
dishonesty in any shape, perjury or malevolence, and habitual falsehood,
inordinate covetousness, and in short, all those ramifications of these
leading vices which injuriously affect the relations of man to God, his
neighbor, and himself, are proper subjects of lodge jurisdiction. Whatever
moral defects constitute the bad man, make also the bad Mason, and
consequently come under the category of masonic offenses. The principle is
so plain and comprehensible as to need no further exemplification. It is
sufficient to say that, whenever an act done by a Mason is contrary to or
subsersive of the three great duties which he owes to God, his neighbor,
and himself, it becomes at once a subject of masonic investigation, and of
But besides these offenses against the universal moral law, there are many
others arising from the peculiar nature of our institution. Among these we
may mention, and in their order, those that are enumerated in the several
sections of the Sixth Chapter of the Old Charges. These are, unseemly and
irreverent conduct in the lodge, all excesses of every kind, private
piques or quarrels brought into the lodge; imprudent conversation in
relation to Masonry in the presence of uninitiated strangers; refusal to
relieve a worthy distressed Brother, if in your power; and all "wrangling,
quarreling, back-biting, and slander."
The lectures in the various degrees, and the Ancient Charges read on the
installation of the Master of a lodge, furnish us with other criteria for
deciding what are peculiarly masonic offenses. All of them need not be
detailed; but among them may be particularly mentioned the following: All
improper revelations, undue solicitations for candidates, angry and
over-zealous arguments in favor of Masonry with its enemies, every act
which tends to impair the unsullied purity of the Order, want of
reverence for and obedience to masonic superiors, the expression of a
contemptuous opinion of the original rulers and patrons of Masonry, or of
the institution itself; all countenance of impostors; and lastly, holding
masonic communion with clandestine Masons, or visiting irregular lodges.
From this list, which, extended as it is, might easily have been enlarged,
it will be readily seen, that the sphere of masonic penal jurisdiction is
by no means limited. It should, therefore, be the object of every Mason,
to avoid the censure or reproach of his Brethren, by strictly confining
himself as a point within that circle of duty which, at his first
initiation, was presented to him as an object worthy of his consideration.
Of Masonic Punishments.
Having occupied the last chapter in a consideration of what constitute
masonic crimes, it is next in order to inquire how these offenses are to
be punished; and accordingly I propose in the following sections to treat
of the various modes in which masonic law is vindicated, commencing with
the slightest mode of punishment, which is censure, and proceeding to the
highest, or expulsion from all the rights and privileges of the Order.
A censure is the mildest form of punishment that can be inflicted by a
lodge; and as it is simply the expression of an opinion by the members of
the lodge, that they do not approve of the conduct of the person
implicated, in a particular point of view, and as it does not in any
degree affect the masonic standing of the one censured, nor for a moment
suspend or abridge his rights and benefits, I have no doubt that it may be
done on a mere motion, without previous notice, and adopted, as any other
resolution, by a bare majority of the members present.
Masonic courtesy would, however, dictate that notice should be given to
the Brother, if absent, that such a motion of censure is about to be
proposed or considered, to enable him to show cause, if any he have, why
he should not be censured. But such notice is not, as I have said,
necessary to the legality of the vote of censure.
A vote of censure will sometimes, however, be the result of a trial, and
in that case its adoption must be governed by the rules of masonic trials,
which are hereafter to be laid down.
A reprimand is the next mildest form of masonic punishment. It should
never be adopted on a mere motion, but should always be the result of a
regular trial, in which the party may have the opportunity of defense.
A reprimand may be either private or public. If to be given in private,
none should be present but the Master and the offender; or, if given by
letter, no copy of that letter should be preserved.
If given in public, the lodge is the proper place, and the reprimand
should be given by the Master from his appropriate station.
The Master is always the executive officer of the lodge, and in carrying
out the sentence he must exercise his own prudent discretion as to the
mode of delivery and form of words.
A reprimand, whether private or public, does not affect the masonic
standing of the offender.
_Of Exclusion from the Lodge._
Exclusion from a lodge may be of various degrees.
1. A member may for indecorous or unmasonic conduct be excluded from a
single meeting of the lodge. This may be done by the Master, under a
provision of the bye-laws giving him the authority, or on his own
responsibility, in which case he is amenable to the Grand Lodge for the
correctness of his decision. Exclusion in this way does not affect the
masonic standing of the person excluded, and does not require a previous
I cannot entertain any doubt that the Master of a lodge has the right to
exclude temporarily any member or Mason, when he thinks that either his
admission, if outside, or his continuance within, if present, will impair
the peace and harmony of the lodge. It is a prerogative necessary to the
faithful performance of his duties, and inalienable from his great
responsibility to the Grand Lodge for the proper government of the Craft
intrusted to his care. If, as it is described in the ancient manner of
constituting a lodge, the Master is charged "to preserve the cement of the
Lodge," it would be folly to give him such a charge, unless he were
invested with the power to exclude an unruly or disorderly member. But as
Masters are enjoined not to rule their lodges in an unjust or arbitrary
manner, and as every Mason is clearly entitled to redress for any wrong
that has been done to him, it follows that the Master is responsible to
the Grand Lodge for the manner in which he has executed the vast power
intrusted to him, and he may be tried and punished by that body, for
excluding a member, when the motives of the act and the other
circumstances of the exclusion were not such as to warrant the exercise of
2. A member may be excluded from his lodge for a definite or indefinite
period, on account of the non-payment of arrears. This punishment may be
inflicted in different modes, and under different names. It is sometimes
called, _suspension from the lodge,_ and sometimes _erasure from the
roll_. Both of these punishments, though differing in their effect, are
pronounced, not after a trial, but by a provision of the bye-laws of the
lodge. For this reason alone, if there were no other, I should contend,
that they do not affect the standing of the member suspended, or erased,
with relation to the craft in general. No Mason can be deprived of his
masonic rights, except after a trial, with the opportunity of defense, and
a verdict of his peers.
But before coming to a definite conclusion on this subject, it is
necessary that we should view the subject in another point of view, in
which it will be seen that a suspension from the rights and benefits of
Masonry, for the non-payment of dues, is entirely at variance with the
true principles of the Order.
The system of payment of lodge-dues does not by any means belong to the
ancient usages of the fraternity. It is a modern custom, established for
purposes of convenience, and arising out of other modifications, in the
organization of the Order. It is not an obligation on the part of a Mason,
to the institution at large, but is in reality a special contract, in
which the only parties are a particular lodge and its members, of which
the fraternity, as a mass, are to know nothing. It is not presented by any
general masonic law, nor any universal masonic precept. No Grand Lodge has
ever yet attempted to control or regulate it, and it is thus tacitly
admitted to form no part of the general regulations of the Order. Even in
that Old Charge in which a lodge is described, and the necessity of
membership in is enforced, not a word is said of the payment of arrears to
it, or of the duty of contributing to its support. Hence the non-payment
of arrears is a violation of a special and voluntary contract with a
lodge, and not of any general duty to the craft at large. The corollary
from all this is, evidently, that the punishment inflicted in such a case
should be one affecting the relations of the delinquent with the
particular lodge whose bye-laws he has infringed, and not a general one,
affecting his relations with the whole Order. After a consideration of
all these circumstances, I am constrained to think that suspension from
alodge, for non-payment of arrears, should only suspend the rights of the
member as to his own lodge, but should not affect his right of visiting
other lodges, nor any of the other privileges inherent in him as a Mason.
Such is not, I confess, the general opinion, or usage of the craft in this
country, but yet I cannot but believe that it is the doctrine most
consonant with the true spirit of the institution. It is the practice
pursued by the Grand Lodge of England, from which most of our Grand Lodges
derive, directly or indirectly, their existence. It is also the regulation
of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. The Grand Lodge of South Carolina
expressly forbids suspension from the rights and benefits of Masonry for
non-payment of dues, and the Grand Lodge of New York has a similar
provision in its Constitution.
Of the two modes of exclusion from a lodge for non-payment of dues,
namely, suspension and erasure, the effects are very different. Suspension
does not abrogate the connection between the member and his lodge, and
places his rights in abeyance only. Upon the payment of the debt, he is
at once restored without other action of the lodge. But erasure from the
roll terminates all connection between the delinquent and the lodge, and
he ceases to be a member of it. Payment of the dues, simply, will not
restore him; for it is necessary that he should again be elected by the
Brethren, upon formal application.
The word exclusion has a meaning in England differing from that in which
it has been used in the present section. There the prerogative of
expulsion is, as I think very rightly, exercised only by the Grand Lodge.
The term "expelled" is therefore used only when a Brother is removed from
the craft, by the Grand Lodge. The removal by a District Grand Lodge, or a
subordinate lodge, is called "exclusion." The effect, however, of the
punishment of exclusion, is similar to that which has been here advocated.
_Of Definite Suspension._
Suspension is a punishment by which a party is temporarily deprived of his
rights and privileges as a Mason. It does not terminate his connection
with the craft, but only places it in abeyance, and it may again be
resumed in a mode hereafter to be indicated.
Suspension may be, in relation to time, either definite or indefinite. And
as the effects produced upon the delinquent, especially in reference to
the manner of his restoration, are different, it is proper that each
should be separately considered.
In a case of definite suspension, the time for which the delinquent is to
be suspended, whether for one month, for three, or six months, or for a
longer or shorter period, is always mentioned in the sentence.
At its termination, the party suspended is at once restored without
further action of the lodge. But as this is a point upon which there has
been some difference of opinion, the argument will be fully discussed in
the chapter on the subject of _Restoration._
By a definite suspension, the delinquent is for a time placed beyond the
pale of Masonry. He is deprived of all his rights as a Master Mason--is
not permitted to visit any lodge, or hold masonic communication with his
Brethren--is not entitled to masonic relief, and should he die during his
suspension, is not entitled to masonic burial. In short, the amount of
punishment differs from that of indefinite suspension or expulsion only
in the period of time for which it is inflicted.
The punishment of definite suspension is the lightest that can be
inflicted of those which affect the relations of a Mason with the
fraternity at large. It must always be preceded by a trial, and the
prevalent opinion is, that it may be inflicted by a two-thirds vote of the
_Of Indefinite Suspension._
Indefinite suspension is a punishment by which the person suspended is
deprived of all his rights and privileges as a Mason, until such time as
the lodge which has suspended him shall see fit, by a special action, to
All that has been said of definite suspension in the preceding section,
will equally apply to indefinite suspension, except that in the former
case the suspended person is at once restored by the termination of the
period for which he was suspended; while in the latter, as no period of
termination had been affixed, a special resolution of the lodge will be
necessary to effect a restoration.
By suspension the connection of the party with his lodge and with the
institution is not severed; he still remains a member of his lodge,
although his rights as such are placed in abeyance. In this respect it
materially differs from expulsion, and, as an inferior grade of
punishment, is inflicted for offenses of a lighter character than those
for which expulsion is prescribed.
The question here arises, whether the dues of a suspended member to his
lodge continue to accrue during his suspension? I think they do not. Dues
or arrears are payments made to a lodge for certain rights and
benefits--the exercise and enjoyment of which are guaranteed to the
member, in consideration of the dues thus paid. But as by suspension,
whether definite or indefinite, he is for the time deprived of these
rights and benefits, it would seem unjust to require from him a payment
for that which he does not enjoy. I hold, therefore, that suspension from
the rights and benefits of Masonry, includes also a suspension from the
payment of arrears.
No one can be indefinitely suspended, unless after a due form of trial,
and upon the vote of at least two-thirds of the members present.
Expulsion is the very highest penalty that can be inflicted upon a
delinquent Mason. It deprives the party expelled of all the masonic rights
and privileges that he ever enjoyed, not only as a member of the lodge
from which he has been ejected, but also of all those which were inherent
in him as a member of the fraternity at large. He is at once as completely
divested of his masonic character as though he had never been admitted
into the institution. He can no longer demand the aid of his Brethren, nor
require from them the performance of any of the duties to which he was
formerly entitled, nor visit any lodge, nor unite in any of the public or
private ceremonies of the Order. No conversation on masonic subjects can
be held with him, and he is to be considered as being completely without
the pale of the institution, and to be looked upon in the same light as a
profane, in relation to the communication of any masonic information.
It is a custom too generally adopted in this country, for subordinate
lodges to inflict this punishment, and hence it is supposed by many, that
the power of inflicting it is vested in the subordinate lodges. But the
fact is, that the only proper tribunal to impose this heavy penalty is a
Grand Lodge. A subordinate may, indeed, try its delinquent member, and if
guilty declare him expelled. But the sentence is of no force until the
Grand Lodge, under whose jurisdiction it is working, has confirmed it. And
it is optional with the Grand Lodge to do so, or, as is frequently done,
to reverse the decision and reinstate the Brother. Some of the lodges in
this country claim the right to expel independently of the action of the
Grand Lodge, but the claim is not valid. The very fact that an expulsion
is a penalty, affecting the general relations of the punished party with
the whole fraternity, proves that its exercise never could, with
propriety, be intrusted to a body so circumscribed in its authority as a
subordinate lodge. Besides, the general practice of the fraternity is
against it. The English Constitutions vest the power to expel exclusively
in the Grand Lodge.
The severity of the punishment will at once indicate the propriety of
inflicting it only for the most serious offenses, such, for instance, as
immoral conduct, that would subject a candidate for initiation to
As the punishment is general, affecting the relation of the one expelled
with the whole fraternity, it should not be lightly imposed, for the
violation of any masonic act not general in its character. The commission
of a grossly immoral act is a violation of the contract entered into
between each Mason and his Order. If sanctioned by silence or impunity, it
would bring discredit on the institution, and tend to impair its
usefulness. A Mason who is a bad man, is to the fraternity what a
mortified limb is to the body, and should be treated with the same mode of
cure--he should be cut off, lest his example spread, and disease be
propagated through the constitution.
The punishment of expulsion can only be inflicted after a due course of
trial, and upon the votes of at least two-thirds of the members present,
and should always be submitted for approval and confirmation to the Grand
One question here arises, in respect not only to expulsion but to the
other masonic punishments, of which I have treated in the preceding
sections:--Does suspension or expulsion from a Chapter of Royal Arch
Masons, an Encampment of Knights Templar, or any other of what are called
the higher degrees of Masonry, affect the relations of the expelled party
to Symbolic or Ancient Craft Masonry? I answer, unhesitatingly, that it
does not, and for reasons which, years ago, I advanced, in the following
language, and which appear to have met with the approval of the most of my
"A chapter of Royal Arch Masons, for instance, is not, and cannot be,
recognized as a masonic body, by a lodge of Master Masons. 'They hear them
so to be, but they do not know them so to be,' by any of the modes of
recognition known to Masonry. The acts, therefore, of a Chapter cannot be
recognized by a Master Masons' lodge, any more than the acts of a literary
or charitable society wholly unconnected with the Order. Again: By the
present organization of Freemasonry, Grand Lodges are the supreme masonic
tribunals. If, therefore, expulsion from a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons
involved expulsion from a Blue Lodge, the right of the Grand Lodge to hear
and determine causes, and to regulate the internal concerns of the
institution, would be interfered with by another body beyond its control.
But the converse of this proposition does not hold good. Expulsion from a
Blue Lodge involves expulsion from all the higher degrees; because, as
they are composed of Blue Masons, the members could not of right sit and
hold communications on masonic subjects with one who was an expelled
Of Masonic Trials.
Having thus discussed the penalties which are affixed to masonic offenses,
we are next to inquire into the process of trial by which a lodge
determines on the guilt or innocence of the accused. This subject will be
the most conveniently considered by a division into two sections; first,
as to the form of trial; and secondly, as to the character of the
_Of the Form of Trial._
Although the authority for submitting masonic offenses to trials by lodges
is derived from the Old Charges, none of the ancient regulations of the
Order have prescribed the details by which these trials are to be
governed. The form of trial must, therefore, be obtained from the customs
and usages of the craft, and from the regulations which have been adopted
by various Grand Lodges. The present section will, therefore, furnish a
summary of these regulations as they are generally observed in this
A charge or statement of the offense imputed to the party is always a
preliminary step to every trial.
This charge must be made in writing, signed by the accuser, and delivered
to the Secretary, who reads it at the next regular communication of the
lodge. A time and place are then appointed by the lodge for the trial.
The accused is entitled to a copy of the charge, and must be informed of
the time and place that have been appointed for his trial.
Although it is necessary that the accusation should be preferred at a
stated communication, so that no one may be taken at a disadvantage, the
trial may take place at a special communication. But ample time and
opportunity should always be given to the accused to prepare his defense.
It is not essential that the accuser should be a Mason. A charge of
immoral conduct can be preferred by a profane; and if the offense is
properly stated, and if it comes within the jurisdiction of the Order or
the lodge, it must be investigated. It is not the accuser but the accused
that Is to be put on trial, and the lodge is to look only to the nature of
the accusation, and not to the individual who prefers it. The motives of
the accuser, but not his character, may be examined.
If the accused is living beyond the jurisdiction of the lodge--that is to
say, if he be a member and have removed to some other place without
withdrawing his membership, not being a member, or if, after committing
the offense, he has left the jurisdiction, the charge must be transmitted
to his present place of residence, by mail or otherwise, and a reasonable
time be allowed for his answer before the lodge proceeds to trial.
The lodge should be opened in the highest degree to which the accused has
attained; and the examinations should take place in the presence of the
accused and the accuser (if the latter be a Mason); but the final decision
should always be made in the third degree.
The accused and the accuser have a right to be present at all examinations
of witnesses, whether those examinations are taken in open lodge or in a
committee, and to propose such relevant questions as they desire.
When the trial is concluded, the accused and accuser should retire, and
the Master or presiding officer must then put the question of guilty or
not guilty to the lodge. Of course, if there are several charges or
specifications, the question must be taken on each separately. For the
purposes of security and independence in the expression of opinion, it
seems generally conceded, that this question should be decided by ballot;
and the usage has also obtained, of requiring two-thirds of the votes
given to be black, to secure a conviction. A white ball, of course, is
equivalent to acquittal, and a black one to conviction.
Every member present is bound to vote, unless excused by unanimous
If, on a scrutiny, it is found that the verdict is guilty, the Master or
presiding officer must then put the question as to the amount and nature
of the punishment to be inflicted.
He will commence with the highest penalty, or expulsion, and, if
necessary, by that punishment being negatived, proceed to propose
indefinite and then definite suspension, exclusion, public or private
reprimand, and censure.
For expulsion or either kind of suspension, two-thirds of the votes
present are necessary. For either of the other and lighter penalties, a
bare majority will be sufficient.
The votes on the nature of the punishment should be taken by a show of
If the residence of the accused is not known, or if, upon due summons, he
refuses or neglects to attend, the lodge may, nevertheless, proceed to
trial without his presence.
In trials conducted by Grand Lodges, it is usual to take the preliminary
testimony in a committee; but the final decision must always be made in
the Grand Lodge.
_Of the Evidence in Masonic Trials._
In the consideration of the nature of the evidence that is to be given in
masonic trials, it is proper that we should first inquire what classes of
persons are to be deemed incompetent as witnesses.
The law of the land, which, in this instance, is the same as the law of
Masonry, has declared the following classes of person to be incompetent to
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 too 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 testimony 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 indispensable 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; for it has been decided by Chief Baron Willes,
that "an infidel who believes in a God, and that He will reward and punish
him in this world, but does not believe in a future state, may be examined
3. Persons who have been rendered infamous by their conviction of great
crimes, are deemed incompetent to give evidence. This rule has been
adopted, because the commission of an infamous crime implies, as Sir
William Scott has observed, "such a dereliction of moral principle on the
part of the witness, as carries with it the conclusion that he would
entirely disregard the obligation of an oath." Of such a witness it has
been said, by another eminent judge, that "the credit of his oath is
over-balanced by the stain of his iniquity."
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
unconsciously swayed by motives of interest, the testimony of such persons
is rather to be distrusted than believed. This rule will, perhaps, be
generally of difficult 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 benefited by
either the acquittal or the conviction of the accused, his testimony must
be entirely rejected, or, if admitted, its value must be weighed with the
most scrupulous caution.
Such are the rules that the wisdom of successive generations of men,
learned in the law, have adopted for the establishment of the competency
or incompetency of witnesses. There is nothing in them which conflicts
with the principles of justice, or with the Constitutions of Freemasonry;
and hence they may, very properly, be considered as a part of our own
code. In determining, therefore, the rule for the admission of witnesses
in masonic trials, we are to be governed by the simple proposition that
has been enunciated by Mr. Justice Lawrence in the following language:
"I find no rule less comprehensive than this, that all persons are
admissible witnesses who have the use of their reason, and such religious
belief as to feel the obligation of an oath, who have not been convicted
of any infamous crime, and who are not influenced by interest."
The peculiar, isolated character of our institution, here suggests as an
important question, whether it is admissible to take the testimony of a
profane, or person who is not a Freemason, in the trial of a Mason before
To this question I feel compelled to reply, that such testimony is
generally admissible; but, as there are special cases in which it is not,
it seems proper to qualify that reply by a brief inquiry into the grounds
and reasons of 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
there to seek it, but it is obligatory on us so to do. This is the
principle of law as well as of common sense. Mr. Phillips, in the
beginning of his great "Treatise on the Law of Evidence," says: "In
inquiries upon this subject, the great end and object ought always to be,
the ascertaining of the most convenient and surest means for the
attainment of truth; the rules laid down are the means used for the
attainment of that end."
Now, if A, who is a Freemason, shall have committed an offense, of which B
and C alone were 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 Order?
We apprehend that in this instance the ends of justice would be defeated,
rather than subserved. If the veracity and honesty of B and C are
unimpeached, their testimony as to the fact cannot lawfully be rejected on
any ground, except that they may be interested in the result of the trial,
and might be benefited by the conviction or the acquittal of the
defendant. But this is an objection that would hold against the evidence
of a Mason, as well as a profane.
Any other rule would be often attended with injurious consequences to our
institution. We may readily suppose a case by way of illustration. 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 degradation of the offender upon the society which
shall sustain and defend him in its perpetration. But it may happen--and
this is a very conceivable case--that in consequence of the remoteness of
his dwelling, or from some other supposable cause, his Brethren have no
opportunity of seeing him, except at distant intervals. There is,
therefore, no Mason, to testify to the truth of the charge, while his
neighbors and associates, who are daily and hourly in his company, are all
aware of his habit of intoxication.
If, then, a dozen or more men, all of 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? And if rejected--if the accused with this weight of evidence
against him, with this infamy clearly and satisfactorily proved by these
reputable witnesses, were to be acquitted, and sent forth purged of the
charge, upon a mere technical ground, and thus triumphantly be sustained
in the continuation of his vice, and that in the face of the very
community which was cognizant of his degradation of life and manners, who
could estimate the disastrous consequences to the lodge and the Order
which should thus support and uphold him in his guilty course? The world
would not, and could not appreciate the causes that led to the rejection
of such clear and unimpeachable testimony, and it would visit with its
just reprobation the institution which could thus extend its fraternal
affections to the support of undoubted guilt.
But, moreover, this is not a question of mere theory; the principle of
accepting the testimony of non-masonic witnesses has been repeatedly acted
on. If a Mason has been tried by the courts of his country on an
indictment for larceny, or any other infamous crime, and been convicted by
the verdict of a jury, although neither the judge nor the jury, nor the
witnesses were Masons, no lodge after such conviction would permit him to
retain his membership, but, on the contrary, it would promptly and
indignantly expel him from the Brotherhood. If, however, the lodge should
refuse to expel him, on the ground that his conviction before the court
was based on the testimony of non-masonic witnesses, and should grant him
a lodge trial for the same offense, then, on the principle against which
we are contending, the evidence of these witnesses as "profanes" would be
rejected, and the party be acquitted for want of proof; and thus the
anomalous and disgraceful spectacle would present itself--of a felon
condemned and punished by the laws of his country for an infamous crime,
acquitted and sustained by a lodge of Freemasons.
But we will be impressed with the inexpediency and injustice of this
principle, when we look at its operation from another point of view. It is
said to be a bad rule that will not work both ways; and, therefore, if the
testimony of non-masonic witnesses against the accused is rejected on the
ground of inadmissibility, it must also be rejected when given in his
favor. Now, if we suppose a case, in which a Mason was accused before his
lodge of having committed an offense, at a certain time and place, and, by
the testimony of one or two disinterested persons, he could establish what
the law calls an _alibi_, that is, that at that very time he was at a
far-distant place, and could not, therefore, have committed the offense
charged against him, we ask with what show of justice or reason could such
testimony be rejected, simply because the parties giving it were not
Masons? But if the evidence of a "profane" is admitted in favor of the
accused, rebutting testimony of the same kind cannot with consistency be
rejected; and hence the rule is determined that in the trial of Masons, it
is competent to receive the evidence of persons who are not Masons, but
whose competency, in other respects, is not denied.
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 to interrogate the witnesses.
The only remaining topic to be discussed is the method of taking the
testimony, and this can be easily disposed of.
The testimony of Masons is to be taken either in lodge or in committee,
and under the sanction of their obligations.
The testimony of profanes is always to be taken by a committee, and on
oath administered by a competent legal officer--the most convenient way of
taking such testimony is by affidavit.
Of the Penal Jurisdiction of a Lodge.
The penal jurisdiction of a lodge is that jurisdiction which it is
authorized to exercise for the trial of masonic offenses, and the
infliction of masonic punishment. It may be considered as either
geographical or personal.
The geographical jurisdiction of a lodge extends in every direction, half
way to the nearest lodge. Thus, if two lodges be situated at the distance
of sixteen miles from each other, then the penal jurisdiction of each will
extend for the space of eight miles in the direction of the other.
The personal jurisdiction of a lodge is that jurisdiction which a lodge
may exercise over certain individuals, respective or irrespective of
geographical jurisdiction. This jurisdiction is more complicated than the
other, and requires a more detailed enumeration of the classes over whom
it is to be exercised.
1. A lodge exercises penal jurisdiction over all its members, no matter
where they may reside. A removal from the geographical jurisdiction will
not, in this case, release the individual from personal jurisdiction. The
allegiance of a member to his lodge is indefeasible.
2. A lodge exercises penal jurisdiction over all unaffiliated Masons,
living within its geographical jurisdiction. An unaffiliated Mason cannot
release himself from his responsibilities to the Order. And if, by immoral
or disgraceful conduct, he violates the regulations of the Order, or tends
to injure its reputation in the estimation of the community, he is
amenable to the lodge nearest to his place of residence, whether this
residence be temporary or permanent, and may be reprimanded, suspended, or
This doctrine is founded on the wholesome reason, that as a lodge is the
guardian of the purity and safety of the institution, within its own
jurisdiction, it must, to exercise this guardianship with success, be
invested with the power of correcting every evil that occurs within its
precincts. And if unaffiliated Masons were exempted from this control, the
institution might be seriously affected in the eyes of the community, by
their bad conduct.
3. The personal jurisdiction of a lodge, for the same good reason,
extends over all Masons living in its vicinity. A Master Mason belonging
to a distant lodge, but residing within the geographical jurisdiction of
another lodge, becomes amenable for his conduct to the latter, as well as
to the former lodge. But if his own lodge is within a reasonable distance,
courtesy requires that the lodge near which he resides should rather make
a complaint to his lodge than itself institute proceedings against him.
But the reputation of the Order must not be permitted to be endangered,
and a case might occur, in which it would be inexpedient to extend this
courtesy, and where the lodge would feel compelled to proceed to the trial
and punishment of the offender, without appealing to his lodge. The
geographical jurisdiction will, in all cases, legalize the proceedings.
4. But a lodge situated near the confines of a State cannot extend its
jurisdiction over Masons residing in a neighboring State, and not being
its members, however near they may reside to it: for no lodge can exercise
jurisdiction over the members of another Grand Lodge jurisdiction. Its
geographical, as well as personal jurisdiction, can extend no further than
that of its own Grand Lodge.
5. Lastly, no lodge can exercise penal jurisdiction over its own Master,
for he is alone responsible for his conduct to the Grand Lodge. But it may
act as his accuser before that body, and impeach him for any offense that
he may have committed. Neither can a lodge exercise penal jurisdiction
over the Grand Master, although under other circumstances it might have
both geographical and personal jurisdiction over him, from his residence
Every Mason, who has been tried and convicted by a lodge, has an
inalienable right to appeal from that conviction, and from the sentence
accompanying it, to the Grand Lodge.
As an appeal always supposes the necessity of a review of the whole case,
the lodge is bound to furnish the Grand Lodge with an attested copy of its
proceedings on the trial, and such other testimony in its possession as
the appellant may deem necessary for his defense.
The Grand Lodge may, upon investigation, confirm the verdict of its
subordinate. In this case, the appeal is dismissed, and the sentence goes
into immediate operation without any further proceedings on the part of
The Grand Lodge may, however, only approve in part, and may reduce the
penalty inflicted, as for instance, from expulsion to suspension. In this
case, the original sentence of the lodge becomes void, and the milder
sentence of the Grand Lodge is to be put in force. The same process would
take place, were the Grand Lodge to increase instead of diminishing the
amount of punishment, as from suspension to expulsion. For it is competent
for the Grand Lodge, on an appeal, to augment, reduce or wholly abrogate
the penalty inflicted by its subordinate.
But the Grand Lodge may take no direct action on the penalty inflicted,
but may simply refer the case back to the subordinate for a new trial. In
this case, the proceedings on the trial will be commenced _de novo_, if
the reference has been made on the ground of any informality or illegality
in the previous trial. But if the case is referred back, not for a new
trial, but for further consideration, on the ground that the punishment
was inadequate--either too severe, or not sufficiently so--in this case,
it is not necessary to repeat the trial. The discussion on the nature of
the penalty to be inflicted should, however, be reviewed, and any new
evidence calculated to throw light on the nature of the punishment which
is most appropriate, may be received.
Lastly, the Grand Lodge may entirely reverse the decision of its
subordinate, and decree a restoration of the appellant to all his rights
and privileges, on the ground of his innocence of the charges which had
been preferred against him. But, as this action is often highly important
in its results, and places the appellant and the lodge in an entirely
different relative position, I have deemed its consideration worthy of a
During the pendency of an appeal, the sentence of the subordinate lodge is
held in abeyance, and cannot; be enforced. The appellant in this case
remains in the position of a Mason "under charges."
The penalties of suspension and expulsion are terminated by restoration,
which may take place either by the action of the lodge which inflicted
them, or by that of the Grand Lodge.
Restoration from definite suspension is terminated without any special
action of the lodge, but simply by the termination of the period for which
the party was suspended. He then at once reenters into the possession of
all the rights, benefits, and functions, from which he had been
I have myself no doubt of the correctness of this principle; but, as it
has been denied by some writers, although a very large majority of the
authorities are in its favor, it may be well, briefly, to discuss its
Let us suppose that on the 1st of January A.B. had been suspended for
three months, that is, until the 1st day of April. At the end of the three
months, that is to say, on the first of April, A.B. would no longer be a
suspended member--for the punishment decreed will have been endured; and
as the sentence of the lodge had expressly declared that his suspension
was to last until the 1st of April, the said sentence, if it means
anything, must mean that the suspension was, on the said 1st of April, to
cease and determine. If he were, therefore, to wait until the 1st of May
for the action of the lodge, declaring his restoration, he would suffer a
punishment of four months' suspension, which was not decreed by his lodge
upon his trial, and which would, therefore, be manifestly unjust and
Again: if the offense which he had committed was, upon his trial, found to
be so slight as to demand only a dismissal for one night from the lodge,
will it be contended that, on his leaving the lodge-room pursuant to his
sentence, he leaves not to return to it on the succeeding communication,
unless a vote should permit him? Certainly not. His punishment of
dismissal for one night had been executed; and on the succeeding night he
reentered into the possession of all his rights. But if he can do so after
a dismissal or suspension of one night, why not after one or three, six or
twelve months? The time is extended, but the principle remains the same.
But the doctrine, that after the expiration of the term of a definite
suspension, an action by the lodge is still necessary to a complete
restoration, is capable of producing much mischief and oppression. For, if
the lodge not only has a right, but is under the necessity of taking up
the case anew, and deciding whether the person who had been suspended for
three months, and whose period of suspension has expired, shall now be
restored, it follows, that the members of the lodge, in the course of
their inquiry, are permitted to come to such conclusion as they may think
just and fit; for to say that they, after all their deliberations, are, to
vote only in one way, would be too absurd to require any consideration.
They may, therefore, decide that A.B., having undergone the sentence of
the lodge, shall be restored, and then of course all would be well, and no
more is to be said. But suppose that they decide otherwise, and say that
A.B., having undergone the sentence of suspension of three months, _shall
not_ be restored, but must remain suspended until further orders. Here,
then, a party would have been punished a second time for the same offense,
and that, too, after having suffered what, at the time of his conviction,
was supposed to be a competent punishment--and without a trial, and
without the necessary opportunities of defense, again found guilty, and
his comparatively light punishment of suspension for three months changed
into a severer one, and of an indefinite period. The annals of the most
arbitrary government in the world--the history of the most despotic tyrant
that ever lived--could not show an instance of more unprincipled violation
of law and justice than this. And yet it may naturally be the result of
the doctrine, that in a sentence of definite suspension, the party can be
restored only by a vote of the lodge at the expiration of his term of
suspension. If the lodge can restore him, it can as well refuse to restore
him, and to refuse to restore him would be to inflict a new punishment
upon him for an old and atoned-for offense.
On the 1st of January, for instance, A.B., having been put upon his trial,
witnesses having been examined, his defense having been heard, was found
guilty by his lodge of some offense, the enormity of which, whatever it
might be, seemed to require a suspension from Masonry for just three
months, neither more nor less. If the lodge had thought the crime still
greater, it would, of course, we presume, have decreed a suspension of
six, nine, or twelve months. But considering, after a fair, impartial, and
competent investigation of the merits of the case (for all this is to be
presumed), that the offended law would be satisfied with a suspension of
three months, that punishment is decreed. The court is adjourned _sine
die_; for it has done all that is required--the prisoner undergoes his
sentence with becoming contrition, and the time having expired, the bond
having been paid, and the debt satisfied, he is told that he must again
undergo the ordeal of another trial, before another court, before he can
reassume what was only taken from him for a definite period; and that it
is still doubtful, whether the sentence of the former court may not even
now, after its accomplishment, be reversed, and a new and more severe one
The analogy of a person who has been sentenced to imprisonment for a
certain period, and who, on the expiration of that period, is at once
released, has been referred to, as apposite to the case of a definite
suspension. Still more appropriately may we refer to the case of a person
transported for a term of years, and who cannot return until that term
expires, but who is at liberty at once to do so when it has expired.
"Another capital offense against public justice," says Blackstone, "is
the returning from transportation, or being seen at large in Great Britain
_before the expiration of the term for which the offender was sentenced to
be transported." _ Mark these qualifying words: "before the expiration of
the term:" they include, from the very force of language, the proposition
that it is no offense to return _after_ the expiration of the term. And so
changing certain words to meet the change of circumstances, but leaving
the principle unchanged, we may lay down the law in relation to
restorations from definite suspensions, as follows:
_It is an offense against the masonic code to claim the privileges of
Masonry, or to attempt to visit a lodge after having been suspended,
before the expiration of the term for which the offender was suspended_.
Of course, it is no crime to resume these privileges after the term has
expired; for surely he must have strange notions of the powers of
language, who supposes that suspension for three months, and no more, does
not mean, that when the three months are over the suspension ceases. And,
if the suspension ceases, the person is no longer suspended; and, if no
longer suspended he is in good standing, and requires no further action to
restore him to good moral and masonic health.
But it is said that, although originally only suspended for three months,
at the expiration of that period, his conduct might continue to be such as
to render his restoration a cause of public reproach. What is to be done
in such a case? It seems strange that the question should be asked. The
remedy is only too apparent. Let new charges be preferred, and let a new
trial take place for his derelictions of duty during the term of his
suspension. Then, the lodge may again suspend him for a still longer
period, or altogether expel him, if it finds him deserving such
punishment. But in the name of justice, law, and common sense, do not
insiduously and unmanfully continue a sentence for one and a former
offense, as a punishment for another and a later one, and that, too,
without the due forms of trial.
Let us, in this case, go again for an analogy to the laws of the land.
Suppose an offender had been sentenced to an imprisonment of six months
for a larceny, and that while in prison he had committed some new crime.
When the six months of his sentence had expired, would the Sheriff feel
justified, or even the Judge who had sentenced him, in saying: "I will not
release you; you have guilty of another offense during your
incarceration, and therefore, I shall keep you confined six months
longer?" Certainly not. The Sheriff or the Judge who should do so
high-handed a measure, would soon find himself made responsible for the
violation of private rights. But the course to be pursued would be, to
arrest him for the new offense, give him a fair trial, and, if convicted
again, imprison or otherwise punish him, according to his new sentence,
or, if acquitted, discharge him.
The same course should be pursued with a Mason whose conduct during the
period of his suspension has been liable to reproach or suspicion. Masons
have rights as well as citizens--every one is to be considered innocent
until he is proved guilty--and no one should suffer punishment, even of
the lightest kind, except after an impartial trial by his peers.
But the case of an indefinite suspension is different. Here no particular
time has been appointed for the termination of the punishment. It may be
continued during life, unless the court which has pronounced it think
proper to give a determinate period to what was before indeterminate, and
to declare that on such a day the suspension shall cease, and the offender
be restored. In a case of this kind, action on the part of the lodge is
necessary to effect a restoration.
Such a sentence being intended to last indefinitely--that is to say,
during the pleasure of the lodge--may, I conceive, be reversed at any
legal time, and the individual restored by a mere majority vote the of
lodge. Some authorities think a vote of two-thirds necessary; but I see no
reason why a lodge may not, in this as in other cases, reverse its
decision by a vote of a simple majority. The Ancient Constitutions are
completely silent on this and all its kindred points; and, therefore,
where a Grand Lodge has made no local regulation on the subject, we must
be guided by the principles of reason and analogy, both of which direct us
to the conclusion that a lodge may express its will, in matters
unregulated by the Constitutions, through the vote of a majority.
But the restoration of an expelled Mason requires a different action. By
expulsion, as I have already said, all connection with the Order is
completely severed. The individual expelled ceases to be a Mason, so far
as respects the exercise of any masonic rights or privileges. His
restoration to the Order is, therefore, equivalent to the admission of a
profane. Having ceased on his expulsion to be a member of the lodge which
had expelled him, his restoration would be the admission of a new member.
The expelled Mason and the uninitiated candidate are to be placed on the
same footing--both are equally unconnected with the institution--the one
having never been in it, and the other having been completely discharged
The rule for the admission of new members, as laid down in the Thirty-nine
Regulations, seems to me, therefore, to be applicable in this case; and
hence, I conceive that to reverse a sentence of expulsion and to restore
an expelled Mason will require as unanimous a vote as that which is
necessary on a ballot for initiation.
Every action taken by a lodge for restoration must be done at a stated
communication and after due notice, that if any member should have good
and sufficient reasons to urge against the restoration, he may have an
opportunity to present them.
In conclusion, the Grand Lodge may restore a suspended or expelled Mason,
contrary to the wishes of the lodge.
In such case, if the party has been suspended only, he, at once, resumes
his place and functions in the lodge, from which, indeed, he had only been
But in the case of the restoration of an expelled Mason to the rights and
privileges of Masonry, by a Grand Lodge, does such restoration restore him
to membership in his lodge? This question is an important one, and has
very generally been decided in the negative by the Grand Lodges of this
country. But as I unfortunately differ from these high authorities, I
cannot refrain, as an apology for this difference of opinion, from
presenting the considerations which have led me to the conclusion which I
have adopted. I cannot, it is true, in the face of the mass of opposing
authority, offer this conclusion as masonic law. But I would fain hope
that the time is not far distant when it will become so, by the change on
the part of Grand Lodges of the contrary decisions which they have made.
The general opinion in this country is, that when a Mason has been
expelled by his lodge, the Grand Lodge may restore him to the rights and
privileges, but cannot restore him to membership in his lodge. My own
opinion, in contradiction to this, is, that when a Grand Lodge restores an
expelled Mason, on the ground that the punishment of expulsion from the
rights and privileges of Masonry was too severe and disproportioned to the
offense, it may or may not restore him to membership in his lodge. It
might, for instance, refuse to restore his membership on the ground that
exclusion from his lodge is an appropriate punishment; but where the
decision of the lodge as to the guilt of the individual is reversed, and
the Grand Lodge declares him to be innocent, or that the charge against
him has not been proved, then I hold, that it is compelled by a just
regard to the rights of the expelled member to restore him not only to the
rights and privileges of Masonry, but also to membership in his lodge.
I cannot conceive how a Brother, whose innocence has been declared by the
verdict of his Grand Lodge, can be deprived of his vested rights as the
member of a particular lodge, without a violation of the principles of
justice. If guilty, let his expulsion stand; but, if innocent, let him be
placed in the same position in which he was before the passage of the
unjust sentence of the lodge which has been reversed.
The whole error, for such I conceive it to be, in relation to this
question of restoration to membership, arises, I suppose, from a
misapprehension of an ancient regulation, which says that "no man can be
entered a Brother in any particular lodge, or admitted a member thereof,
without the unanimous consent of all the members"--which inherent
privilege is said not to be subject to dispensation, "lest a turbulent
member should thus be imposed upon them, which might spoil their harmony,
or hinder the freedom of their communication, or even break and disperse
the Lodge." But it should be remembered that this regulation altogether
refers to the admission of new members, and not to the restoration of old
ones--to the granting of a favor which the candidate solicits, and which
the lodge may or may not, in its own good pleasure, see fit to confer, and
not to the resumption of a vested and already acquired right, which, if it
be a right, no lodge can withhold. The practical working of this system of
incomplete restoration, in a by no means extreme case, will readily show
its absurdity and injustice. A member having appealed from expulsion by
his lodge to the Grand Lodge, that body calmly and fairly investigates the
case. It finds that the appellant has been falsely accused of an offense
which he has never committed; that he has been unfairly tried, and
unjustly convicted. It declares him innocent--clearly and undoubtedly
innocent, and far freer from any sort of condemnation than the prejudiced
jurors who convicted him. Under these circumstances, it becomes
obligatory that the Grand Lodge should restore him to the place he
formerly occupied, and reinvest him with the rights of which he has been
unjustly despoiled. But that it cannot do. It may restore him to the
privileges of Masonry in general; but, innocent though he be, the Grand
Lodge, in deference to the prejudices of his Brethren, must perpetuate a
wrong, and punish this innocent person by expulsion from his lodge. I
cannot, I dare not, while I remember the eternal principles of justice,
subscribe to so monstrous an exercise of wrong--so flagrant an outrage
upon private rights.
Accused, to what he is entitled
Act passed in the reign of Henry VI., anno 1425
" " " it was never enforced
Actual Past Master, term defined
Adjournment, a term not recognized in Masonry
" motion for, cannot be entertained
Affiliated Masons only, can visit lodges
Affiliation, what it is
" mode of
" requires unanimity
" Master Masons only entitled to it
" rejected application for, may be renewed in other lodges
" may be made with more than one lodge
Age, qualifications of candidates as to
Appeal from Grand Master not permitted
" not to be entertained in a lodge
" cannot be taken from the chair
" doctrine of, discussed
" from the Master, must be to the Grand Lodge
" every Mason has a right to one, to the Grand Lodge
" pending one, the sentence is in abeyance
Apprentices, rights of _(see Entered Apprentice_)
Arrears, non-payment of
" to lodges, history of their origin
" do not accrue during suspension
Assembly, general-one held in 287 by St. Alban
" " " in 926 at York
" " governed the craft for nearly 800 years
" " how organized
Atheist cannot be a Mason
Authorities for masonic law
Balloting for candidates
every member must take a part in it
secrecy of, inviolable
must be unanimous
Mason irresponsible for it to the lodge
not disfranchised of it by non-payment of arrears
Balloting in each degree
not actually prescribed in the ancient constitutions, but implied
must be unanimous
Ballot, reconsideration of
motion for, out of order
cannot be granted by dispensation
Black ball is the bulwark of Masonry
Brother, a title to be always used in lodge
Burial, masonic, right of
must be requested except for strangers
Master Masons only entitled to it
dispensation for, not usually required
Business, order of
may be suspended at any time by the Master
By-laws must be approved and confirmed by Grand Lodge
Calling from labor to refreshment
Censure, a masonic punishment
Chaplain, Grand (_see Grand Chaplain_)
Charges of accusation, how to be made
Closing lodge is at the discretion of the Master
Committee of investigation on character of candidates
Committees to be appointed by the Master
Master is chairman of, when present
Communication of a lodge, how terminated
Consecration of a lodge how performed
Constituting a lodge, ceremony of
Constitutions, how to be altered
" Gothic, adopted in 926,
Corn, wine, and oil, masonic elements of consecration,
" " " why elements,
" " definition of,
" " enumeration of
" two in each lodge,
" are appointed officers,
" not removable by Master or Senior Warden
" Grand _(see Grand Deacons_)
Dedication of a lodge, how performed
" to whom, and why,
" meaning of
" " restoration from
Degrees, no candidate can receive more than two at one communication
" right of, not denied until recently,
" regulations concerning
" of many at one time may be refused
Deputy Grand Master, duties and prerogatives of
" " office of, not very ancient
" " exercises prerogatives of Grand Master in his absence
"" cannot be more than one
"" originally appointed by Grand Master
Discussions, how to be conducted in lodge,
Dispensation what and where to be granted
"for a lodge
"" " tenure of its duration
"" " difference from a Warrant
District Deputy Grand Master, a modern invention
Dotage a disqualification of candidates
" meaning of the term
Dues to lodges, a modern usage
" non-payment of, does not disqualify from voting for candidates
Emergency, rule upon the subject
Entered Apprentice, rights of
formerly a member of his lodge
formerly permitted to attend the Grand Communications
may sit in a lodge of his degree
cannot speak or vote
cannot be deprived of his rights without trial
after trial may appeal to the Grand Lodge
Erasure from lodge, a masonic punishment
Evidence in masonic trials
Examination of visitors
how to be conducted
Exclusion, a masonic punishment
Executive powers of a Grand Lodge
Expulsion is masonic death
Expulsion, a masonic punishment
should be inflicted by Grand Lodge or with its approval
from higher degrees, its effect
Extinct lodges, funds of, revert to the Grand Lodge
Family distressed, of a Mason, entitled to relief
Fellow Craft, rights of
they formerly constituted the great body of the Fraternity
formerly permitted to speak, but not vote
Finishing candidates of one lodge in another
Fool cannot be a Mason
Free, a candidate must be, at the time of making
Free-born, a Mason must be
reason for the rule
Funds of extinct lodges revert to the Grand Lodge
General Assembly. (_See Assembly, General._)
God, belief in, a qualification of a candidate
Gothic constitutions adopted in 926
office established in 1775
office more ancient than Oliver supposes
Grand Lodge held in 1717
mode of organizing one
three lodges necessary to organize one
dormant may be revived if a Grand Officer remains,
all the Craft formerly members of
Masters and Wardens of lodges are members
Grand Officers are also members
Past Masters are not members by inherent right
its powers and prerogatives
may make new regulations
must observe the landmarks
Grand Lodges, historical sketch of
are comparatively modern institutions
appointed by the Grand Master
Grand Master, duties and prerogatives of
office of has existed since the origin of Masonry
an elective officer
by whom to be installed
prerogatives of, derived from two sources
no appeal from his decision
may convene Grand Lodge when he chooses
entitled to two votes
how to be punished
may grant dispensations
Grand Master may make Masons at sight
may constitute new lodges
cannot dispense with requisite forms in making Masons
his own lodge cannot exercise jurisdiction over him
office of established in 1723
Grand Secretary, may appoint an assistant
" " first mentioned in 1721
" " duties of
" " appointed by Junior Grand Warden
Grand Stewards' Lodge
" " duties of
" " office of, constituted in 1731
" " office of, must have existed from the earliest times
" " must not be a member of the Grand Lodge
" " sometimes appointed, and sometimes elected
" " office of, established in 1724
" " duties of
" " has always been elected
" " originally appointed by the Grand Master
" " succeed the Grand Master and Deputy
Heresy not a masonic crime
Higher degrees, effect of expulsion from
Idiot cannot be made a Mason
Impostor, how to be treated in examination
Incompetent witnesses, who they are
" " restoration from
Innovations cannot be made in the body of Masonry
Insanity, if perfectly cured, no disqualification of a candidate
" whence the term derived
" necessary to legal existence of an officer
" of a Master of a lodge
" of the Grand Master
Instruction of representatives, right of, is vested in a lodge
Investigation of character must be by a committee
Irreligious libertine cannot be a Mason
" " definition of the term
Judicial powers of a Grand Lodge,
Junior Grand Warden
" " presides in absence of Master and Senior Warden,
" " does not take the West in absence of Senior Warden,
" " presides over the craft during refreshment
" " appoints the stewards
Jurisdiction of a lodge
" geographical or personal
" is over all its members
" " " unaffiliated Masons in its vicinity
" cannot extend beyond State lines,
" none over its Master
Knowledge of reading and writing necessary to a Mason
Labor, calling from, to refreshment
Landmarks, what they are,
" ritual and legislative
" must be observed by the Grand Lodge
Law of Grand Lodges
" subordinate lodges
Lawful information, what it is
Laws, how to be interpreted
" of Masonry are of two kinds--written and unwritten
" written, whence derived
" unwritten, whence derived
" " same as ancient usage
Legislative powers of a Grand Lodge
Libertine, irreligious, cannot be a Mason
meaning of the term
must have been congregated by some superior authority
Lodge, under dispensation
generally precedes a warranted lodge
cannot make by-laws
cannot elect officers
cannot install officers
cannot elect members
its powers and rights
must be consecrated
must be dedicated
must be constituted
its officers must be installed
ceremony of installation in
its powers are inherent in it
its reserved rights are secured by the regulations
an assembly of the craft in their primary capacity
may select its own members
elects its own officers
what officers of, are elected in England
may install its officers
Master of, must be installed by a past Master
may be represented in the Grand Lodge
may instruct its representatives
may frame by-laws
may suspend or exclude a member
may declare a member expelled, the sentence to be approved by the Grand Lodge
may levy annual contributions
may select its name
cannot select its number
cannot alter the ritual
must elect officers at a particular time
Lodge, warranted, cannot interfere with business of another lodge
" " cannot initiate without previous notice
" " cannot confer more than two degrees on the same candidate at one time
" " cannot make more than five new Brothers at the same time
" " must meet once a month
" " neglecting to meet forfeits its warrant
" " cannot remove from the town, without the consent of the Grand Lodge
" " may remove from one part of the town to another, under restrictions
" " officers of
Madmen cannot be Masons
Maims, how far disqualifying candidates
" reason for the rule relating to
Mass meeting of the craft cannot organize a Grand Lodge
Master, Grand. _(See Grand Master_.)
Master Mason, rights of
" " becomes a member by signing the by-laws
" " how this right is forfeited
" " may apply to any lodge for membership
" " to whom subject for discipline
" " may speak and vote on all questions
" " may hold any office to which elected
" " but to serve as Master must have been a Warden
" " may appeal to the Grand Lodge
" " may visit any lodge, after examination
Master of a lodge
" " " must have previously served as Warden
" " " must see Grand Lodge regulations enforced
" " " must be installed by a Past Master
" " " has the warrant in charge
" " " may call special meetings of his lodge
" " " may close his lodge at any time
" " " presides over business as well as labor
" " " is supreme in his lodge
Master of a lodge, no appeal from his decision except to Grand
moral qualifications of
intellectual qualifications of
who is to judge of them
is a member of the Grand Lodge
may exclude a member temporarily
Membership, right of
Members of Grand Lodge are Masters and Wardens with the Grand Officers
Minutes, when to be read
how to be amended
not to be read at special communications
formula for keeping
Moral law, what it is
a Mason must obey it
Motions, when to be entertained
Name of a lodge to be selected by itself
Non-residents, initiation of
Number of a lodge regulates its precedency
of candidates to be initiated at one communication
Office, can be vacated only by death, removal, or expulsion
not vacated by suspension
Officers of a Grand Lodge
warranted lodge must be installed
how to be installed
time of election determined by Grand Lodge
vacancies in, how to be supplied
Order, rules of
Parliamentary law not applicable to Masonry
not members of the Grand Lodge by inherent right
may install their successors
of two kinds--actual and virtual
may preside in a lodge
eligible to election to the chair
entitled to a seat in the East
eligible to be elected Deputy Grand Master, or Grand Warden
virtual, cannot be present at installing a Master
Penal jurisdiction of a lodge
Perfect youth, meaning of the term
Perfection, physical, why required of a candidate
Petition of candidate
must be read at a regular communication
referred to a committee of three
reported on at next regular communication
report on, cannot be made at a special communication
renewal of, in case of rejection
how to be renewed, if rejected
for advancement to a higher degree
if rejected, how to be renewed
Petitioners, not less than seven to form a lodge
what they must set forth
must be recommended by nearest lodge
Political offenses not cognizable by a lodge
Political qualifications of candidates
Postponed business, when to be called up
Precedency of lodges, regulated by their numbers
Presiding in a lodge, who has the right of
officer, has the prerogatives of the Master, for the time
Previous question, unknown in Masonry
Probation of candidates
Proceedings of a regular communication cannot be amended at a special one
Profanes, testimony of, how to be taken in trials
Proficiency of candidates
Proficiency of candidates, must be suitable
Pursuivant, a title equivalent to Sword-Bearer
Qualifications of a Master of a lodge
Quarterly communications of Grand Lodge, ordered in 1717
Question, how to be taken on a motion
Reading, a qualification of candidates
Recommendation of nearest lodge, necessary to form a new one
of candidate, must be by two members
Reconsideration of ballot
motion for, is out of order,
cannot be granted by dispensation
Rejected candidate cannot apply to any other lodge
renewed petition of, when to be made,
Relief, right of claiming it
unworthy Masons not entitled to it
Religion of a Mason, what it is required to be
Religious offenses not cognizable by a lodge
Removal of a lodge, rule on the subject of
Representatives of a lodge, who they are
Reprimand, a masonic punishment
from definite suspension
must be at a stated communication
may be by Grand Lodge
requires a unanimous vote
to membership discussed
Secretary, Grand. (_See Grand Secretary._)
of a lodge
is a recording, corresponding, and receiving officer
is a check upon the treasurer
often receives compensation
in case of death, or expulsion, a successor may be elected
but not in case of removal, or sickness
Senior Grand Warden. (_See Grand Wardens._)
presides in absence of Master
may invite a Past Master to preside
presides over the craft during labor
appoints the Junior Deacon
Sentence in trials, how to be obtained
---- is in abeyance pending an appeal
Stewards, Grand. (_See Grand Stewards._)
of a lodge
appointed by Junior Warden
not removable by Junior Warden
Stranger, initiation of
Sword Bearer, Grand. (_See Grand Sword Bearer._)
Testimony, how to be taken on masonic trials
Tiler, Grand. (_See Grand Tiler._)
of a lodge
office existed from beginning of the institution
no lodge can be without one
must be a worthy Master Mason
if a member, the office does not disfranchise him
when voting, Junior Deacon takes his place
may be removed for misconduct
Tiler's obligation, form of it
Transient persons, initiation of
Treasurer, Grand. _(See Grand Treasurer_.)
" " of a lodge
" " duties of
" " is the only banker of the lodge
" " is a disbursing officer
" " a Brother of worldly substance usually selected
" " in case of death, a successor may be elected
" " but not in case of sickness, or removal
" " form of
" " evidence in
" " tax sometimes levied on
" " position, rights, and duties of
Unaffiliation, contrary to the spirit of Masonry
" effect of, on a Mason
Unanimity in the ballot required by the ancient constitutions
Uneducated candidates not forbidden by positive enactment
" " their admission opposed to the spirit of the institution
Virtual Past Masters, who they are
Visit, right of
" only affiliated Mason entitled to it
" must be preceded by an examination
" requires a certificate to insure it
Visitors, examination of, described
" must take the Tiler's obligation
Voting must always be by a show of hands
Voting in trials, obligatory on all members present
Voucher must be a competent Mason
Vouching for a visitor
Wardens, Grand. (_See Grand Wardens._)
of a lodge are assistants of the Master
entitled to membership in Grand Lodge
Warden, Senior. (_See Senior Warden._)
Warden, Junior. (_See Junior Warden._)
Warrant of constitution
what it is
its difference from a dispensation
can be revoked only by the Grand Lodge
confers powers of installation and succession
not necessary before 1717
cannot be resigned by a majority of the lodge
Warranted lodges. (_See Lodges, Warranted._)
Witnesses in masonic trials, qualifications of
definition of incompetent ones
Woman cannot be made a Mason
Writing, a qualification of candidates
Yeas and nays, calling for, unmasonic
Young man under age cannot be made a Mason
Youth, perfect, meaning of the term
 They will be found in Oliver's edition of Preston, p. 71, note,
(U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 58), or in the American edition by Richards,
Appendix i., note 5.
 Found in Ol. Preston, n. 3 (p. 162. U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 134).
 In all references to, or citations from, Anderson's Constitutions, I
have used, unless otherwise stated, the first edition printed at London in
1723--a fac simile of which has recently been published by Bro. John W.
Leonard, of New York. I have, however, in my possession the subsequent
editions of 1738, 1755, and 1767, and have sometimes collated them
 The Gothic Constitutions are that code of laws which was adopted by
the General Assembly at York, in the year 926. They are no longer extant,
but portions of them have been preserved by Anderson, Preston, and other
 Preston, book iv., sec, 2., p. 132, n. (U.M.L.,vol. iii., p. 109).
 General Regulations, art. xxxix.
 Chancellor Walworth, in his profound argument on the New York
difficulties, asserted that this fact "does not distinctly appear,
although it is, pretty evident that all voted."--p. 33. The language of
Anderson does not, however, admit of a shadow of a doubt. "The Brethren,"
he says, "by a majority of hands, elected," &c.
 Opinion of Chancellor Walworth upon the questions connected with the
late masonic difficulties in the State of New York, p. 37. There is much
historical learning displayed in this little pamphlet.
 Preston, p. 131, n., Oliver's Edit. (U.M.L., vol. iii.,p. 109).
 Of the thirty-six Grand Masters who have presided over the craft in
England since the revival of Masonry in 1717, thirty have been noblemen,
and three princes of the reigning family.
 Article xxxiv.
 His most important prerogatives are inherent or derived from ancient
 Proceedings G.L. Maryland, 1849, p. 25.
 Art. xxxix.
 The word "time" has been interpreted to mean _communication_.
 And this is not because such past officer has an inherent right to
the mastership, but because as long as such an one is present and willing
to serve, there does not exist such an emergency as would authorize a
dispensation of the law.
 What further concerns a lodge under dispensation is referred to a
special chapter in a subsequent part of the work.
 It is well known, although it cannot be quoted as authority, that the
Athol Constitutions expressly acknowledged the existence of this
prerogative. See Dermott's Ahiman Rezon.
 Book of Constitutions, edit. 1767, p. 222.
 Book of Const., p. 233.
 Book of Const., p. 313.
 Book of Constitutions, p. 319.
 Preston, p. 237, ed. 1802, (U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 223).
 Book of Constitutions, p. 247
 The existence of this prerogative is denied by the Grand Lodges of
Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Massachusetts, while it is admitted by
those of New York, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Wisconsin,
Vermont, Mississippi, Ohio, New Hampshire, Maryland, Indiana, Texas and
Florida; in the last two, however, subject to limitation.
 That is, the one who has longest been a Freemason.
 Book of the Lodge, p. 115 (U.M.L., vol. i., book 2, p. 78).
 It was abolished in New York in 1854.
 This is a small chest or coffer, representing the ark of the
covenant, and containing the three great lights of Masonry.
 "What man is there that hath a new house and hath not dedicated it?
Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another
man dedicate it." Deut. xx. 5.
 De Syned. Vet. Ebraeor., 1. iii., c. xiv., Sec. 1.
 Cicero, Brut. i.
 See such a form of Dispensation in Cole's Masonic Library, p. 91.
 Preston, Append., n. 4 (U.M.L., vol. iii., pp. 150, 151).
 Book of Constitutions, orig. ed, p., 70 (U.M.L., vol. xv., book 1, p.
 General Regulations of 1722. A subsequent regulation permitted the
election of a candidate, if there were not more than three black balls
against him, provided the lodge desired such a relaxation of the rule. The
lodges of this country, however, very generally, and, as I think, with
propriety, require unanimity. The subject will be hereafter discussed.
 Every lodge shall annually elect its Master and Treasurer by ballot.
Such Master having been regularly appointed and having served as Warden of
a warranted lodge for one year. _Constitutions of the Ancient Fraternity
of Free and Accepted Masons, published by authority of the United Grand
Lodge of England_, 1847, _p_. 58 (U.M.L., vol. ix., book 1).
 The Wardens, or officers, of a lodge cannot be removed, unless for a
cause which appears to the lodge to be sufficient; but the Master, if he
be dissatisfied with the conduct of any of his officers, may lay the cause
of complaint before the lodge; and, if it shall appear to the majority of
the Brethren present that the complaint be well founded, he shall have
power to displace such officer, and to nominate another. _English
Constitutions, as above, p._ 80 (U.M.L., vol. ix., book 1).
 It is not necessary that he should be a Past Master of the lodge.
 No master shall assume the Master's chair, until he shall have been
regularly installed, though he may in the interim rule the lodge. _English
Constitutions_ (U.M.L., vol. ix., book 1).
 Every Warranted Lodge is a constituent part of the Grand Lodge, in
which assembly all the power of the fraternity resides. _English
Constitutions, p_. 70 (U.M.L., vol. ix., book 1).
 We shall not here discuss the question whether Past Masters are
members of the Grand Lodge, by inherent right, as that subject will be
more appropriately investigated when we come to speak of the Law of Grand
Lodges, in a future chapter. They are, however clearly, not the
representatives of their lodge.
 Preston, p. 167 (U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 151).
 General Regulations. Of the duty of members, Art. X, (U.M.L., vol.
xv., book 1, p. 61).
 English Constitutions, p. 59 (U.M.L., vol. ix., book 1).
 In selecting the name, the modern Constitutions of England make the
approbation of the Grand Master or Provincial Grand Master necessary.
 Such is the doctrine of the modern English Constitutions.
 "No Brother can be a Warden until he has passed the part of a Fellow
Craft; nor a Master until he has acted as a Warden."--_Old Charges_, IV.
(U.M.L., vol. xv., book 1, p. 52).
 Regulations on Installation of a Master, No. III. Preston, p. 74
(U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 61).
 Hats. quoted in Jefferson, p. 14.
 One of the ancient charges, which Preston tells us that it was the
constant practice of our Ancient Brethren to rehearse at the opening and
closing of the lodge, seems to refer to this rule, when it says, "the
Master, Wardens, and Brethren are just and faithful, and _carefully finish
the work they begin_."--Oliver's Preston, p. 27, _note_ (U.M.L., vol.
iii., p. 22).
 Proceedings of G.L. of Tennessee, 1850. Appendix A, p. 8.
 Book of Constitutions, edition of 1755, p. 282.
 If it is an extra communication, this item of the transaction is, of
course, omitted, for minutes are only to be confirmed at regular
 Oliver's Preston, p. 163, note (U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 135).
 Such is the provision in the modern constitutions of England, but the
4th of the 39 Regulations required the candidate to be at least
 See these regulations in Preston, p. 162, Oliver's ed. (U.M.L., vol.
iii., p. 135).
 Oliver's Preston, p. 72, (U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 59).
 Blackstone, Com. I., Introd., Sec. 2.
 In an able report on this subject, in the proceedings of the Grand
Lodge of Georgia for 1852. In accordance with the views there expressed,
Bro. Rockwell decided officially, as District Deputy Grand Master, in
1851, that a man who had lost one eye was not admissible.
 Potter, 184.
 Page 18. In December, 1851, the Committee of Correspondence of North
Carolina, unregardful of the rigid rule of their predecessors, decided
that maimed candidates might be initiated, "provided their loss or
infirmity will not prevent them from making full proficiency in Masonry."
 Proceedings of the G.L. of Mo. for 1823, p. 5. The report and
resolution were on the petitions of two candidates to be initiated, one
with only one arm, and the other much deformed in his legs.
 When the spirit of expediency once begins, we know not where it will
stop. Thus a blind man has been initiated in Mississippi, and a one-armed
one in Kentucky; and in France a few years since, the degrees were
conferred by sign-language on a deaf mute!
 Namely, the incorrectly presumed operative origin of the Order. The
whole of this report, which is from the venerable Giles F. Yates, contains
an able and unanswerable defense of the ancient law in opposition to any
 See proceedings of New York, 1848, pp. 36, 37.
 Such is the formula prescribed by the Constitutions of England as
well as all the Monitors in this country.
 See Mackey's Lexicon of Freemasonry, 3d Edit., art, _Ballot_.
 Book of Constitutions. Edit. 1755, p. 312.
 See Mackey's Lexicon of Freemasonry, 3d Edit., art. _Ballot_
 Except when there is but one black ball, in which case the matter
lies over until the next stated meeting. See preceding Section.
 Masonry founded on Scripture, a Sermon preached in 1752, by the Rev.
 That is, advance him, from the subordinate position of a serving man
or Apprentice, to that of a Fellow Craft or journeyman.
 This is also the regulation of the Grand Lodge of South Carolina.
 Proceedings of Grand Lodge of New York, for 1845. He excepts, of
course, from the operation of the rule, those made by dispensation; but
this exception does not affect the strength of the principle.
 Preston, edition of Oliver, p. 12 (U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 10).
 Transactions of the G.L. of New York, anno 1848, p. 73.
 Edition of 1723, page 71 (U.M.L., vol. xv., book 1, p. 71).
 Preston, p. 48 (U.M.L., vol, iii., p. 40).
 Const. New York, 1854, p. 13. The Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of
England (p. 64) have a similar provision; but they require the Brother to
express his wish for membership on the day of his initiation.
 Preston, Oliver's Ed., p. 71, _note_ (U.L.M., vol. iii., p. 60).
 See Oliver, note in Preston, p. 75 (U.M.L., vol. iii, p. 61).
 Oliver's Preston, p. 162 (U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 135.)
 See Anderson's Const., 3d Edit., 1755, page 303.
 Preston, Oliver's Edit., p. 89 (U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 72).
 Preston, Oliver's Edit" p. 90 (U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 73).
 Book I., chap. iii.
 Proceedings of Louisiana, an. 1852.
 Preston, Oliver's Edit., p. 76 (U.M.L., vol. iii, p. 62).
 See Mackey's Lexicon of Freemasonry, _in voce_.
 Constitutions, Second Edition of 1738, p. 154.
 Proceedings for 1853.
 Proceedings for 1847.
 The right to visit is restricted to once, by many Grand Lodges to
enable him to become acquainted with the character of the lodge before he
applies for membership.
 Blackstone, Introd., Sec. i.
 For so we should interpret the word "honeste."
 I have treated this subject of expulsion so fully in my "Lexicon of
Freemasonry," and find so little more to say on the subject, that I have
not at all varied from the course of argument, and very little from the
phraseology of the article in that work.
 In England, ejection from a membership by a subordinate lodge is
called "exclusion," and it does not deprive the party of his general
rights as a member of the fraternity.
 Lexicon of Freemasonry.
 Phillips, on Evidence, p. 3.
 Chief Baron Gilbert.