Billeder på siden
[ocr errors]

I am afraid it is more in accordance with your kindness and partiality, than the intrinsic value of the publications to which you have, in such flattering language referred.

I am, indeed, enthusiastically attached to an Order which, in my humble opinion, has been the means of conferring many essential benefits on mankind; not only by the munificence of its members, and the extensive usefulness of its numerous charities, but by the infusion into general society of that refined morality which is taught in the lodge, and, like the genial rays of the Sun in nourishing the productions of nature, has contributed, in no slight degree, to that high toned principle, and correct mode of thinking and acting which distinguish the fortunate times in which we live.

But Freemasonry has a still higher boast, which not only constitutes the pride of its members, but also claims the serious consideration of those who have not had the advantage of initiation into its mysteries. It forms a step on the road to heaven. For, in addition to the means and opportunities of acquiring a knowledge of the faith and practice of our holy religion, which the Free and Accepted mason possesses in common with the uninitiated, he has also the advantage of masonic instruction, which the latter do not possess. In the lodge, virtue is arrayed in her brightest form; the practice of Christian morality is strongly recommended and enforced; and the attentive mason is taught, by a series of interesting disquisitions, that if he devotes himself to the observance of the Cardinal Virtues, and is guided by the sacred principles of Honour and Mercy ;-if he ascends the staves or rounds of the theological Ladder, by the practice of Faith, Hope, and Charity, he will attain to a residence in the mansions which have been prepared for him by the Most High, to whom be glory for ever and ever.

It is on such considerations as these that my attachment to Freemasonry has been founded. I have adhered to its principles and proclaimed its excellence, amidst evil report and good report, for a long series of years; and I trust that the opinion I have formed of its moral superiority is substantially correct, and will remain unimpaired till TGA O T U shall, in his own good time, translate me to another and a better world.

With fraternal greetings and remembrances, I beg leave respectfully to offer the following Lecture on the Poetry and Philosophy of Masonry,

And to subscribe myself,

Worshipful Sir,
And respected Brethren,

Your obliged,

And humble Servant,

GEO. OLIVER, D.D., Hon. Member of the Lodge Social Friendship, Madras.


July 1, 1849.

Lecture the Second.

On the Poetry and Philosophy of Freemasonry.

“Oh, Love fraternal! principle divine !

One touch of thee makes erring nature shine
With the pure radiance of angelic grace
That ting’d with glory Adam's undimm’d face;
Bids strife depart to reign with fools and slaves,
Whose creeds are narrow as their joys and graves !
By thy bless'd power behold one common band
More wonders working than a fairy's wand.
Columbia, Albion, Caledonia, Gaul,
Erin, and Cambria bid their banners fall;
All lands wherein thy influence is felt

Into one universal nation melt."


[ocr errors]

It is an universal complaint, and tends to the deterioration of Freemasonry in public opinion, that amongst the numerous initiations which take place annually, so few should be prolific in bringing forth the genuine fruits of the Order. The world view the naked fact with astonishment, and judge unfavourably of the institution from the dearth of eminent characters by which it is distinguished and ennobled. There are not wanting amongst the candidates for admission, men of great talent and high standing in society, and it is very naturally asked, how it happens that their position in masonry so seldom adds to the laurels that adorn their brows?

The question is easy of solution. It is because they have other objects of pursuit which more urgently demand their attention ;-or that they do not feel sufficient interest in the subject to enable them to follow up the necessary investigations which may make them perfect in the art;-or that they are not thrown into a masonic society of sufficient calibre to keep their interest alive. In a word, it is because (no matter how it may have arisen) they are not fully imbued with the poetry and philosophy of the Order, but prefer the dull prosaic workings of common life, or entertain mistaken views of its nature and design.

Those extremely talented and useful writers, the Brothers Chambers, speaking on the subject of poetry, say, “poetry may be defined to be the truth inspired by feeling, and breathed into forms of beauty or sublimity. This definition seems to express the essential characteristics of poetry, in all its manifestations; whether the inspired thought be developed in painting, in sculpture, in architecture, (Freemasonry), in music, in language, or in action; they all range themselves under the same formula ; for they are but various modes of expressing the same divine principle.” And again: “to be a poet, a man must not rest contented with conventionalities and outward shows; with mere arbitrary distinctions of right and wrong, however specious they may appear. He must have that directness and clearness of vision which can at once discriminate between the essential and the accidental; between that which exists in the very nature of things, and that which is merely of artificial growth. An intellectual discrimination, however, is not all that is required. A man may be very acute in detecting fallacies, and even in discerning truth, and yet have but a small claim to the character of a poet. To be a poet, he must not only see beneath the surface of things, but he must feel as deeply as he sees; he must not only see that à thing is true, but he must also feel that it is true; else whatever it may be in itself, or to others, it can be no poetry to him. Let a man possess these two requisites, and if he is but true to himself, if he will but give scope to his own nature, and not fritter away his life and talents by striving to cramp them into some artificial mould prescribed by custom, he will be a poet in the truest sense; if he does not write poetry, he yet cannot fail in that which is often better, for his life will be a real poem, doubtless sadly chequered in its course, but ever eloquent in its significance; ever earnestly striving after the real and innumerable."

'Journal, vol. v. N.S. p. 210.


It is for want of being thus deeply versed in the poetry of Freemasonry, that so many, even of the fraternity themselves, differ in their estimate of it. But they draw their opinions from their own private feelings and propensities rather than from any inherent property of the Order. While the bon vivant considers it to be a society established for the purpose of social convivialities, and the man of the world throws it aside as frivolous and useless, the more studious differ in opinion whether it be Christian or Jewish, moral or religious, astronomical or astrological. And all this confusion arises from a confined view of its nature and properties, which limits them to one particular point or phasis of the Order, while, in fact, Freemasonry is cosmopolitical, and embraces the whole region of poetry and philosophy, science and morals. Prejudice, in all its fantastic shapes, is arrayed against us; which, as is well observed by Mrs. S. Hall, in one of her useful moral tales, is the more dangerous, because it has the unfortunate ability of accommodating itself to all the possible varieties of the human mind. Like the spider, it makes everywhere a home. Some of our glorious old fellows—South, or Taylor, or Fuller, or Bishop Hall-has it somewhere, that let the mind be as naked as the walls of an empty and forsaken tenement, gloomy as a dungeon, or ornamented with richest abilities of thinking; let it be hot, cold, dark, or light, lonely or inhabited-still prejudice, if undisturbed, will fill it with cobwebs, and live, like the spider, where there seemed nothing to live upon.

While these shades of difference agitate the members of the society, we are no longer surprised that the uninitiated should wander so much out of their way to satisfy their curiosity as to the real design of the Order. What is masonry

? l'his is the great and important question which has puzzled the heads of all the uninitiated from the day of its first establishment to our own most curious times.

What is masonry? I could give fifty definitions of it if I choose to be communicative; but I should consider myself “courteous overmuch" were I to furnish the cowan with too great a portion of information at once. He would be gorged into a plethoric habit of mind, which would set him à cackling like a young pullet after she

« ForrigeFortsæt »