It is generally believed among the profane that Masons devote such energies as they possess to the important studies, “What to eat, drink and avoid”, and “How to spend a happy day”.
We are looked on, in fact, as what the late “A. Ward, showman”, would probably have described as a vast body of “gay and festive cusses”—who never weary of banqueting, with its attendant toasts and harmony.
When our regular course of meetings is run, we hold Emergency meetings, and when we have nothing better to do, we run about to other Lodges, receiving—as we have previously given—hospitality.
If nothing worse than this could be said of any body of men, we fancy the world would be a little less wicked than it is.
To be a convivial fellow—by which we mean not either a “Greedy Jack” or a “Guzzling Jimmy”—implies the possession of many good qualities.
A man must be genial, open-hearted, take good broad common sensible views of things.
He must have a tender regard for the weaknesses, and it may be, the prejudices of his next neighbour, carefully avoiding what may create sourness or soreness of temper.
He must study the proprieties of time, place, and circumstance, introducing no awkward or unseemly references to painful events that have passed, and being, in fact, prepared to do all that lies in his power to promote the general entertainment.
The man who can do all these things well is certainly not a bad fellow, but the belief that Masons devote their energies to the one pursuit of pleasure is a most erroneous one.
All members have not the same energy, but it occurs to us wo can point to a very formidable array of brethren who never weary in their efforts to advance the interests of our Order or the institutions it fosters.
These exhibit an astounding energy, and notably the following among them.
A W.M. who is desirous of keeping or raising his Lodge into good working order, stands little chance of success if he is not a man of energy.
He may be perfect in our ritual, an example to follow in all that relates to the main scope of our Order, but, without energy to carry them into practice his knowledge and example will be of little service.
Attendance at Lodge will begin to fall off, carelessness, or, perhaps, a state of somnolence will affect the members.
The W.M. then who keeps his Lodge well up to the work may, ipso facto, be assumed to possess an energy, not limited by the pursuit of happiness or the study of good dinners.
So with the secretary of a Lodge. Few are, or should be, content with the mere routine business of preparing minutes or sending out notices.
That these should be attended to is essential to the well-being of the Lodge.
But there are other duties he may perform.
By tact and energy he may help forward the labours of a W.M., and being often a Past Master, who during his occupancy of the chair had done good service, he is anxious to keep up the fair fame which he had helped to secure, and he applies himself therefore zealously to his functions, by no means limiting his attention to those which are purely official.
Then the Stewards of our Anniversary Festivals. Energy, or the want of it, makes all the difference between a high and low standard of contribution.
Accidental circumstances, such as a good donation from some millionaire or the presidency of a prince of blood royal, or of some eminent nobleman will occasionally explain any abnormal increase of the Stewards’ lists; but a slow and sure increase or diminution in this total amount marks whether, as a body, the brethren who have undertaken these most important functions are men of energy or indifferent to their trust.
Now the wonderful progress that has been made of late years by the Order, points to something more than a few exceptional displays of energy.
We are so distributed throughout the country that it is possible to explain our advance in numbers and the world’s esteem except by the energy of the main body of the Order and especially of those to whom the governance of our Lodges is delegated.
In fact Masonic energy is directed in the main towards the development of our Order, and not to mere festivity.
The slowly increasing aggregate of our annual contributions to the several Masonic Charities betokens a greater energy on the part of the Stewards.
But where energy is most needed, and where, happily, it is in the highest degree illustrated, is in those to whom the business of the Masonic Charities is chiefly entrusted, and equally in those members through whom the business of Grand Lodge or of Provincial Grand Lodges is made known, in the former case to the whole Order, and in the latter to the Lodges of the various provinces.
The routine of duty is in the case of these brethren a never-ending one, varied not unfrequently by unusual pressure, yet very seldom by slackness.
Let us try to imagine the amount of labour which the recent Installation of our M.W.G.M. has entailed on sundry of the Grand Officers.
It were far easier to reckon what they have not been called upon to do or suffer.
We assume, to begin with, that none of them have been allowed a moment’s rest whenever it has been in the power of any busy body or disappointed brother to air his particular grievance.
Everybody conceives he has a right to badger a Secretary or Director of Ceremonies.
What otherwise were these latter invented for.
Then again, the Secretaries of our Institutions are fair game for the busy trifler.
One wants to know the whole history of a small item of expenditure, amounting to a few pence.
Another is nervous about the growing extravagance of the Board of Management, because one more box of steel pens has been purchased than in the previous year.
Then another wants a presentation all to himself, knowing all the time the absurdity of preferring such a request.
These are a few only of the minor annoyances to which a Secretary of every board is made liable.
But there are far more trying duties for them to perform.
They have to be here, there, and everywhere, all over London, round about the provinces, in person or by deputy, so that the claims to support of the Charities they represent must be ever kept before the world of Masonry.
All this movement of course entails much personal labour, their advocacy of the cause of Charity is a duty and a pleasure, but he who observes this office faithfully, has little chance of much personal rest and enjoyment.
Day after day office work ; evening after evening the cause of charity must be pleaded, so that a zealous and energetic Secretary must be content to have one day’s rest in the course of the week, and then find himself too tired to enjoy it.
Yet they bear it all famously. They are genial and courteous, ever ready to go anywhere so that the cause they advocate may be bettered, be it never so little.
Is there reason in the accusation that Masonic energy looks only to a course of good feeds, and the more the jollier, when we can point to such grand results as have been achieved in these latter years, both in respect of the extension of our Order, and of the greater amount of good we are doing ?
These sneers of the silly, however, are like the blows of the little woman who was constantly whacking her husband—a huge giant of a “navvy”.
They please the silly, but they hurt not Masonry.
Recent Articles: in this series
Is there reason in the accusation that Masonic energy looks only to a course of good feeds, when we can point to such grand results as have been achieved in these latter years, both in respect of the extension of our Order ? - 1May 1875
Implementing Freemasonry's peculiar system of morality in our day to day business affairs was the topic of this article, Commercial Integrity, first published in The Freemason's Chronicle - 8 May 1875
Ridiculed in the Press
Ridicule has been somewhat illogically described as the test of truth. If it were so, Freemasonry ought to have perished long since. Two press reports from May 1875 covering the Installation of the Prince of Wales as Grand Master - 8 May 1875
Attendance at Lodge
There are many things which Freemasonry will do for a man in the way of opening his mind and giving him larger and kindlier views of life, but Freemasonry itself, cannot eradicate the natural bias of the disposition.
Labour and Refreshment
There is, we fear, too marked a tendency in very many Lodges to hasten through its labours, with a view to entering, as soon as possible, upon the business of refreshment. - The Freemason's Chronicle 17th April, 1875
Types of Masonic Character
Another example that demonstrates that nothing really changes in Freemasonry. In an article the Types of Masonic Character published 145 years ago in The Freemason's Chronicle 10th April, 1875
Royalty And The Craft
A brief history on the relationship between the British Monarchy and the craft - The Freemason's Chronicle 20th March , 1875
What are the qualities of a convivial man and how does this dovetail perfectly in to Freemasonry ? 16th March, 1875
A review of the "Sketch for the History of the Dionysian Artificers," a fragment, by Hyppoli to Joseph Da Costa - This little work may be regarded as, so to speak, the Holy Grail of Masonry.
Nothing really changes, an article Indifferent Masons, From Le Monde Maçonnique 1874. Translation published in The Freemason's Chronicle 20th February, 1875
The Mason: A Discreet Man
In handling an intruder in the lodge, we endeavoured to show that a good Mason should be a gentleman, and a sincere man. The Freemason's Chronicle 20th February, 1875
Templar Masonry - a historical aspect of the Religious and Military Order of the Temple published in The Freemason's Chronicle 13th February, 1875
Secrecy perhaps the strongest objection urged by the enemies of the Masonic Order against its existence published in The Freemason's Chronicle 20th March 1875
Freemasonry In The United States during And After The Revolution
We take a look at Freemasonry in the United States during and after the Revolution first published in The Freemason's Chronicle - February 6, 1875
The Archaeology of the Craft
We take a look at the archaeological connection with the Craft, first published in The Freemason's Chronicle - January 30, 1875
The Mason: A Sincere Man
What it means to a Freemason to be a sincere man
Citizenship of the World
What it means to a Freemason to be a citizen of the world ?
Brotherhood! In that one word what sympathetic associations arise.
The Mason: A Gentleman
This opening article was written 145 years ago, yet it resonates with Freemasons today as it did then.
to be a better citizen of the world
share the square with two brothers
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