Freemasons' Monthly Magazine - 1842
The most august Masonic Body in the world, is the Grand Lodge of England - whether considered with reference to its great respectability of character, the vast social and moral influence it exercises, or the almost boundless extent of its jurisdiction: on which it may be said, as of the British empire, the sun never sets! Before his evening rays leave the Brethren at Quebec, his morning beams have burst upon the Lodge at Port Jackson; and while sinking from the waters of Lake Superior, his eye has opened upon the Fraternity on the Ganges! So vast is the extent of the English Masonic jurisdiction! Its Charities are not less extensive. No Grand Lodge, - no single Society in the world, can successfully compare with it in this respect. And they are truly Masonic Charities. There are no limits to them. There is no numbering them. They are as diffusive as between the north and the south, the east and the west.
In the city of London, alone, besides the usual measures of relief, there are several extensive and well organized eleemosynary establishments, managed and supported entirely by the Masonic Fraternity. Among them are the "Royal Freemasons' School for Girls," and the "Royal Masonic Institution for Boys." They are two of the noblest, most flourishing, and best regulated Charities in the kingdom. As their titles indicate, they are Schools where the Orphan children of indigent Masons are taken, - rescued from distress, misery, and ruin, - clothed, educated, and prepared for the duties of life, - qualified to become useful citizens, instead of tenants of alms-houses and prisons.
There is another, and more general Charity, called the "Board of Benevolence;" the special object of which, is to relieve the immediate necessities of poor and deserving Brethren, who may be overtaken by misfortune or sickness, or any of the thousand "ills that flesh is heir to." It is a most useful institution, and annually dispenses large sums in Charity.
In addition to these, - and not less entitled to our admiration, is the "Asylum for the Worthy Aged and Decayed Freemason." It is a new Charity. It was found that the relief afforded by the "Board of Benevolence," being temporary, was inefficient in cases where age and infirmity required continual support. It seemed to the originators of it, a discredit to the wealthy, extensive, and intellectual body composing the Masonic Fraternity in England, that their Charities should be limited to tire immediate necessities of the unfortunate, and to the care and instruction of the young - while for the aged Mason, who had passed his youth amid the enjoyments of those happy associations which belong to our Fraternity, and contributed in the hour of his prosperity, to the maintenance of those deserving Charities, - no Asylum reared its head to give him shelter, when age and misfortune should overtake him, - to afford him the solace of a home and a resting place, before his final departure to where troubles can come no more, and tears are forever wiped away. To remedy this, the new Asylum was projected; and it has received the general and cordial support of the Fraternity.
We shall probably hereafter have frequent occasion to speak of these Charities more in detail.
The present Grand Master of England, is his Royal Highness Prince Augustus Frederick, DUKE OF Sussex, sixth, but now the second surviving, son of King George the Third, born on the 27th of January, 1773, and is, consequently, now in the sixty- ninth year of his age. He was educated at the University of Gottengen, with his brothers, the present King of Hanover and the Duke of Cambridge, and is accounted one the best scholars in Europe, particularly in theological and moral philosophy.
He was initiated into the mysteries of Freemasonry in year 1798, at Berlin, in the Royal York Lodge. On the demise of the late Admiral Sir Peter Parker, Deputy Grand Master, and one of the most zealous Masons of the day, the Prince Regent, late George the Fourth, then Grand Blaster, appointed him, on the 12th February, 1812, Deputy Grand Master.
One of the most interesting Masonic Festivals in English history, was held on the 27th Feb., 1813, in compliment to that highly distinguished Mason, the late Earl of Moira, (afterwards created Marquis of Hastings, and at that time Acting Grand Master,) on the eve of his departure from England, to take upon himself the important office of Governor General of India. At this festival, the Duke of Sussex presided, supported by his royal relatives the Dukes of York, Clarence, (late King William the Fourth,) Kent, (father of the present Queen,) Cumberland, (present King of Hanover,) and Gloucester.
On the 7th of April, 1813, the Prince Regent having expressed a wish not to be re-elected Grand Master, the Grand Lodge unanimously elected the DUKE OF SUSSEX to fill that important and dignified station in the Craft. He has conse- quently held his present office for more than twenty-eight years; during which time, the Fraternity, under the English jurisdiction, has attained to a degree of eminence and prosperity unexampled in the annals of Masonry.
On the 25th of April, 1838, a splendid "Masonic Offering," purchased by the voluntary subscriptions of his Brethren throughout his jurisdiction, was presented to his Royal Highness, in token of their love and respect for his character as a Mason, a Prince, and a Christian. The presentation-address on the occasion was delivered by Lord John Churchill. We subjoin the Duke's reply. It is replete with true Masonic sentiment and feeling, and will be read with interest:- "BRETHREN - I rise under feelings of intense interest, and, if I may use the expression, amid a warfare of feelings, to utter my humble and sincere thanks for the kindness evinced to me on the present occasion. It is not the trifle that is offered, but the sensation it has produced, which affects me; it is of a mingled nature, and consequently very difficult to express.
"Surrounded by so many faces, seeing so many kind friends, and yet marking vacancies, crowded as the tables are, which cast a shade upon thought, it is impossible to feel very lively, or that I should express myself as I ought. You have kindly noticed the past period of twenty-five years - ay, to me twenty-five years of great anxiety. I have presided over you with fidelity, yet sometimes with feelings of oppression. Your kindness has given vigor, and I feel renovated; and from that kindness I have derived my confidence. In my career I have met with many and severe trials, trials to which human nature ought to be exposed, and which, as a Mason, it was my duty to bear up against. I have observed many a kind head has been laid low, and my account must be rendered up. On the mercy of God I have ever relied, and in the rectitude of my conscience I shall lay my head down in peace.-That is a subject which every morning a Mason ought to call to mind when he supplicates his Maker, and when he closes his eyes.
"When the profane, who do not know our mysteries, are carried away by prejudice, and do not acknowledge the value of our Society, let them, by our conduct, learn, that a good Mason is a good moral man, and as such will not trifle with his obligation. The principles of morality I am bound to enforce, and did I not, I should betray the confidence you repose in me.
"My duty as your Grand Master is to take care that no political or religious question intrudes itself; and had I thought that in presenting this Tribute, any political feeling had influenced the Brethren, I can only say that then the Grand Master would not have been gratified. Our object is unanimity, and we can here find a centre of unanimity unknown elsewhere. I recollect twenty-five years ago, at a meeting in many respects similar to the present, a magnificent Jewel (by voluntary vote) was presented to the Earl Moira, previous to his journey to India. I had the honor to preside, and I remember the powerful and beautiful appeal which that excellent Brother made on the occasion. I am now sixty-six years of age - I say this without regret - the true Mason ought to think that the first day of his birth is but a step on his way to the final close of life - there may be older Masons-but that is a pretty good specimen of my attachment to the Order.
"In 1798, I entered Masonry in a Lodge at Berlin, and there I served several offices, and as Warden was representative of the Lodge in the Grand Lodge of England. I afterwards was acknowledged and received with the usual compliment paid to a member of the Royal Family, by being appointed a Past Grand Warden. I again went abroad for three years, and on my return joined various Lodges, and upon the retirement of the Prince Regent, who became Patron of the Order, I was elected Grand Master. An epoch of considerable interest intervened, and I became charged, in 1813-14, with a most important mission - the union of the two London Societies. My most excellent Brother, the Duke of Kent, accepted the title of Grand Master of the Athol Masons, as they were denominated; I was the Grand Master of those called the Prince of Wales's. In three months we carried the union of the two Societies, and I had the happiness of presiding over the united Fraternity. This I consider to have been the happiest event of my life. It brought all Masons upon the Level and Square, and showed the world at large, that the differences of common life did not exist in Masonry, and it shew to Masons, that by a long pull and a strong pull, and a pull altogether, what great good might be effected.
"I have endeavored all through my Masonic career to bring into Masonry the great fact, that from the highest to the lowest, all should feel convinced that the one could not exist without the other. Every Mason owes respect to the recognized institutions of Society, and the higher his station, the more is required from him. The great power of Masonry is the example - the chain extends from the highest to the lowest, and if one link shall break, the whole is endangered.
"I recommend to you order, regularity, and observance of Masonic duties. If you differ with any Brother, never attribute sinister motives to him with whom you differ. These are the principles, Brethren, which I hope to enforce, and many a time have I checked myself from too marked an expression, thinking that a Brother might not be aware of his position, and we have argued the matter in private. I trust in this, the twenty-fifth year of my Presidency, I may not be considered as saying too much by declaring what I have always done. I am grateful for the kindness and affection hitherto shown, and that my government, as far as it may be so considered, is one of kindness and confidence. I once again enjoin the observance of the Laws, which are founded upon EQUITY, and not SPECIAL PLEADING. Equity is our principle - Honor our guide, - I gave full scope to my feelings in Grand Lodge, and have forgotten all that passed, except those feelings of good will with which I left it, and assure the Brethren, that as long as my services are at my own command, the Grand Lodge may claim them; but they shall be given honestly, fearlessly, and faithfully."
The Duke resumed his seat amidst the warmest expression of the gratified feelings of his Brethren. The following beautiful Ode, written for the occasion by Br. JOHN LEE STEVENS, was then sung: AIR - "The Meeting of the Waters."
"There is joy in the temple, unbounded, unfeigned, Where Masonry's truths have their triumph sustained, To see the Grand Master once more in the chair And to hang on the words of his eloquence there! Not a subject disloyal, a servant untrue, In our ranks can the keen eye of jealousy view; For united attachment and duty evince Our respect for the Master-regard for the Prince ! So distinguished by learning, by virtue, by skill, All our hopes, Royal Master, thy mandates fulfil; And, oh! long may the Giver of Blessings above Spare thee thus to rule o'er us with wisdom and love !"
It was at this Festival, that, on proposing the first sentiment of the evening, the Grand Master took occasion to say: "That at all public meetings, and of course Masonic meetings, the first toast is a tribute of loyalty and affection to the Sovereign whom Providence has appointed to preside over the destinies of this country. At all times this toast must be a grateful one, but particularly so at this moment, (1838) when we are governed by a virgin Queen. Up to the hour of the accession of her present majesty, we had the happiness and good fortune to have in the Sovereign a Member and Patron of our Society; the name is not reserved for us now, but we have a good and gracious Queen, who is the daughter of a Mason, and who herself is favorable to our Order. In a breast so pure as hers there can be no suspicion; but she can learn that there was a Queens who was jealous of our Order, but who, on a clear investigation of its principles and precepts, afforded it her protection. Like her great predecessor, our Queen will protect our Order; and as all her relatives who are connected with the Order, are also bound to be liege subjects, so I shall endeavor to bring it under her notice, and shall claim the patronage of the Sovereign.