A MIRACULOUS tradition, something like that connected with the labarum of Constantine, hallows the Ancient Cross of St. Andrew. Hungus, who in the ninth century reigned over the Picts in Scotland, is said to have seen in a vision, on the night before a battle, the Apostle Saint Andrew, who promised him the victory; and for an assured token thereof, he told him that there should appear over the Pictish host, in the air, such a fashioned cross as he had suffered upon. Hungus, awakened, looking up at the sky, saw the promised cross, as did all of both armies; and Hungus and the Picts, after rendering thanks to the Apostle for their victory, and making their offerings with humble devotion, vowed that from thenceforth, as well they as their posterity, in time of war, would wear a cross of St. Andrew for their badge and cognizance.
John Leslie, Bishop of Ross, says that this cross appeared to Achaius, King of the Scots, and Hungus, King of the Picts, the night before the battle was fought betwixt them and Athelstane, King of England, as they were on their knees at prayer.
Every cross of Knighthood is a symbol of the nine qualities of a Knight of St. Andrew of Scotland; for every order of chivalry required of its votaries the same virtues and the same excellencies.
Humility, Patience, and Self-denial are the three essential qualities of a Knight of St. Andrew of Scotland. The Cross, sanctified by the blood of the holy ones who have died upon it; the
Cross, which Jesus of Nazareth bore, fainting, along the streets of Jerusalem and up to Calvary, upon which He cried, "Not My will, O Father! but Thine be done," is an unmistakable and eloquent symbol of these three virtues. He suffered upon it, because He consorted with and taught the poor and lowly, and found His disciples among the fishermen of Galilee and the despised publicans. His life was one of Humility, Patience, and Self-denial.
The Hospitallers and Templars took upon themselves vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity. The Lamb, which became the device of the Seal of the Order of the Poor Fellow Soldiery of the Temple of Solomon, conveyed the same lessons of humility and self-denial as the original device of two Knights riding a single horse. The Grand Commander warned every candidate not to be induced to enter the Order by a vain hope of enjoying earthly pomp and splendor. He told him that he would have to endure many things, sorely against his inclinations; and that he would be compelled to give up his own will, and submit entirely to that of his superiors.
The religious Houses of the Hospitallers, despoiled by Henry the Eighth's worthy daughter, Elizabeth, because they would not take the oath to maintain her supremacy, had been Alms-houses, and Dispensaries, and Foundling-asyla, relieving the State of many orphan and outcast children, and ministering to their necessities, God's ravens in the wilderness, bread and flesh in the morning, bread and flesh in the evening. They had been Inns to the wayfaring man, who heard from afar the sound of the Vesper-bell, inviting him to repose and devotion at once, and who might sing his matins with the Morning Star, and go on his way rejoicing. And the Knights were no less distinguished by bravery in battle, than by tenderness and zeal in their ministrations to the sick and dying.
The Knights of St. Andrew vowed to defend all orphans, maidens, and widows of good family, and wherever they heard of murderers, robbers, or masterful thieves who oppressed the people, to bring them to the laws, to the best of their power.
"If fortune fail you," so ran the vows of Rouge-Croix, "in divers lands or countries wherever you go or ride that you find any gentleman of name and arms, which hath lost goods, in worship and Knighthood, in the King's service, or in any other place of worship, and is fallen into poverty, you shall aid, and support,
r and succor him, in that you may; and he ask of you your goods to his sustenance, you shall give him part of such goods as God hath sent you to your power, and as you may bear."
Thus CHARITY and GENEROSITY are even more essential qualities of a true and gentle Knight, and have been so in all ages; and so also hath CLEMENCY. It is a mark of a noble nature to spare the conquered. Valor is then best tempered, when it can turn out a stern fortitude into the mild strains of pity, which never shines more brightly than when she is clad in steel. A martial man, compassionate, shall conquer both in peace and war; and by a twofold way, get victory with honor. The most famed men in the world have had in them both courage and compassion. An enemy reconciled hath a greater value than the long train of captives of a Roman triumph.
VIRTUE, TRUTH, and HONOR are the three MOST essential qualities of a Knight of St. Andrew. "Ye shall love God above all things, and be steadfast in the Faith," it was said to the Knights, in their charge, "and ye shall be true unto your Sovereign Lord, and true to your word and promise. Also, ye shall sit in no place where that any judgment should be given wrongfully against any body, to your knowledge."
The law hath not power to strike the virtuous, nor can fortune subvert the wise. Virtue and Wisdom, only, perfect and defend man. Virtue's garment is a sanctuary so sacred, that even Princes dare not strike the man that is thus robed. It is the livery of the King of Heaven. It protects us when we are unarmed; and is an armor that we cannot lose, unless we be false to ourselves. It is the tenure by which we hold of Heaven, without which we are but outlaws, that cannot claim protection. Nor is there wisdom without virtue, but only a cunning way of procuring our own undoing.
Where Wisdom's voice has found a listening heart.
Amid the howl of more than winter storms,
The halcyon hears the voice of vernal hours,
Already on the wing.
Sir Launcelot thought no chivalry equal to that of Virtue. This word means not continence only, but chiefly manliness, and so includes what in the old English was called souffrance, that patient endurance which is like the emerald, ever green and flowering;
and also that other virtue, droicture, uprightness, a virtue so strong and so puissant, that by means of it all earthly things almost attain to be unchangeable. Even our swords are formed to remind us of the Cross, and you and any other of us may live to show how much men bear and do not die; for this world is a place of sorrow and tears, of great evils and a constant calamity, and if we would win true honor in it, we must permit no virtue of a Knight to become unfamiliar to us, as men's friends, coldly entreated and not greatly valued, become mere ordinary acquaintances.
We must not view with impatience or anger those who injure us; for it is very inconsistent with philosophy, and particularly with the Divine Wisdom that should govern every Prince Adept, to betray any great concern about the evils which the world, which the vulgar, whether in robes or tatters, can inflict upon the brave. The favor of God and the love of our Brethren rest upon a basis which the strength of malice cannot overthrow; and with these and a generous temper and noble equanimity, we have everything. To be consistent with our professions as Masons, to retain the dignity of our nature, the consciousness of our own honor, the spirit of the high chivalry that is our boast, we must disdain the evils that are only material and bodily, and therefore can be no bigger than a blow or a cozenage, than a wound or a dream.
Look to the ancient days, Sir E-------, for excellent examples of VIRTUE, TRUTH, and HONOR, and imitate with a noble emulation the Ancient Knights, the first Hospitallers and Templars, and Bayard, and Sydney, and Saint Louis; in the words of Pliny to his friend Maximus, Revere the ancient glory, and that old age which in man is venerable, in cities sacred. Honor antiquity and great deeds, and detract nothing from the dignity and liberty of any one. If those who now pretend to be the great and mighty, the learned and wise of the world, shall agree in condemning the memory of the heroic Knights of former ages, and in charging with folly us who think that they should be held in eternal remembrance, and that we should defend them from an evil hearing, do you remember that if these who now claim to rule and teach the world should condemn or scorn your poor tribute of fidelity, still it is for you to bear therewith modestly, and yet not to be ashamed, since a day will come when these who now scorn those who were of infinitely higher and finer natures than
they are, will be pronounced to have lived poor and pitiful lives, and the world will make haste to forget them.
But neither must you believe that, even in this very different age, of commerce and trade, of the vast riches of many, and the poverty of thousands, of thriving towns and tenement houses swarming with paupers, of churches with rented pews, and theatres, opera-houses, custom-houses, and banks, of steam and telegraph, of shops and commercial palaces, of manufactories and trades-unions, the Gold-room and the Stock Exchange, of newspapers, elections, Congresses, and Legislatures, of the frightful struggle for wealth and the constant wrangle for place and power, of the worship paid to the children of mammon, and covetousness of official station, there are no men of the antique stamp for you to revere, no heroic and knightly souls, that preserve their nobleness and equanimity in the chaos of conflicting passions, of ambition and baseness that welters around them.
It is quite true that Government tends always to become a conspiracy against liberty; or, where votes give place, to fall habitually into such hands that little which is noble or chivalric is found among those who rule and lead the people. It is true that men, in this present age, become distinguished for other things, and may have name and fame, and flatterers and lacqueys, and the oblation of flattery, who would, in a knightly age, have been despised for the want in them of all true gentility and courage; and that such men are as likely as any to be voted for by the multitude, who rarely love or discern or receive truth; who run after fortune, hating what is oppressed, and ready to worship the prosperous; who love accusation and hate apologies; and who are always glad to hear and ready to believe evil of those who care not for their favor and seek not their applause.
But no country can ever be wholly without men of the old heroic strain and stamp, whose word no man will dare to doubt, whose virtue shines resplendent in all calamities and reverses and amid all temptations, and whose honor scintillates and glitters as purely and perfectly as the diamond--men who are not wholly the slaves of the material occupations and pleasures of life, wholly engrossed in trade, in the breeding of cattle, in the framing and enforcing of revenue regulations, in the chicanery of the law, the. objects of political envy, in the base trade of the lower literature, or in the heartless, hollow vanities of an eternal dissipation. Every
generation, in every country, will bequeath to those who succeed it splendid examples and great images of the dead, to be admired and imitated; there were such among the Romans, under the basest Emperors; such in England when the Long Parliament ruled; such in France during its Saturnalia of irreligion and murder, and some such have made the annals of America illustrious.
When things tend to that state and condition in which, in any country under the sun, the management of its affairs and the customs of its people shall require men to entertain a disbelief in the virtue and honor of those who make and those who are charged to execute the laws; when there shall be everywhere a spirit of suspicion and scorn of all who hold or seek office, or have amassed wealth; when falsehood shall no longer dishonor a man, and oaths give no assurance of true testimony, and one man hardly expect another to keep faith with him, or to utter his real sentiments, or to be true to any party or to any cause when another approaches him with a bribe; when no one shall expect what he says to be printed without additions, perversions, and misrepresentations; when public misfortunes shall be turned to private profit, the press pander to licentiousness, the pulpit ring with political harangues, long prayers to God, eloquently delivered to admiring auditors, be written out for publication, like poems and political speeches; when the uprightness of judges shall be doubted, and the honesty of legislators be a standing jest; then men may come to doubt whether the old days were not better than the new, the Monastery than the Opera Bouffe, the little chapel than the drinking-saloon, the Convents than the buildings as large as they, without their antiquity, without their beauty, without their holiness, true Acherusian Temples, where the passer-by hears from within the never-ceasing din and clang and clashing of machinery, and where, when the bell rings, it is to call wretches to their work and not to their prayers; where, says an animated writer, they keep up a perennial laudation of the Devil, before furnaces which are never suffered to cool.
It has been well said, that whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the Past, the Distant, or the Future, predominate over the Present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. The modern rivals of the German Spa, with their flaunting pretences and cheap finery, their follies and frivolities, their chronicles of dances and inelegant feasts, and their bulletins
of women's names and dresses, are poor substitutes for the Monastery and Church which our ancestors would have built in the deep sequestered valleys, shut up between rugged mountains and forests of sombre pine; and a man of meditative temper, learned, and of poetic feeling, would be glad if he could exchange the showy hotel, amid the roar and tumult of the city, or the pretentious tavern of the country-town, for one old humble Monastery by the wayside, where he could refresh himself and his horse without having to fear either pride, impertinence, or knavery, or to pay for pomp, glitter, and gaudy ornamentation; then where he could make his orisons in a church which resounded with divine harmony, and there were no pews for wealth to isolate itself within; where he could behold the poor happy and edified and strengthened with the thoughts of Heaven; where he could then converse with learned and holy and gentle men, and before he took his departure could exalt and calm his spirits by hearing the evening song.
Even Free-Masonry has so multiplied its members that its obligations are less regarded than the simple promises which men make to one another upon the streets and in the markets. It clamors for public notice and courts notoriety by scores of injudicious journals; it wrangles in these, or, incorporated by law, carries its controversies into the Courts. Its elections are, in some Orients, conducted with all the heat and eagerness, the office-seeking and management of political struggles for place. And an empty pomp, with semi-military dress and drill, of peaceful citizens, glittering with painted banners, plumes, and jewels, gaudy and ostentatious, commends to the public favor and female admiration an Order that challenges comparison with the noble Knights, the heroic soldiery encased in steel and mail, stern despisers of danger and death, who made themselves immortal memories, and won Jerusalem from the infidels and fought at Acre and Ascalon, and were the bulwark of Christendom against the Saracenic legions that swarmed after the green banner of the Prophet Mohammed.
If you, Sir E------, would be respectable as a Knight, and not a mere tinselled pretender and Knight of straw, you must practise, and be diligent and ardent in the practice of, the virtues you have professed in this Degree. How can a Mason vow to be tolerant, and straightway denounce another for his political opinions? How vow to be zealous and constant in the service of the Order,
and be as useless to it as if he were dead and buried? What does the symbolism of the Compass and Square profit him, if his sensual appetites and baser passions are not governed by, but domineer over his moral sense and reason, the animal over the divine, the earthly over the spiritual, both points of the compass remaining below the Square? What a hideous mockery to call one "Brother," whom he maligns to the Profane, lends money unto at usury, defrauds in trade, or plunders at law by chicanery?
VIRTUE, TRUTH, HONOR!--possessing these and never proving false to your vows, you will be worthy to call yourself a Knight, to whom Sir John Chandos might, if living, give his hand, and whom St. Louis and Falkland, Tancred and Baldassar Castiglione would recognize as worthy of their friendship.
Chivalry, a noble Spaniard said, is a religious Order, and there are Knights in the fraternity of Saints in Heaven. Therefore do you here, and for all time to come, lay aside all uncharitable and repining feeling; be proof henceforward against the suggestions of undisciplined passion and inhuman zeal; learn to hate the vices and not the vicious; be content with the discharge of the duties which your Masonic and Knightly professions require; be governed by the old principles of honor and chivalry, and reverence with constancy that Truth which is as sacred and immutable as God Himself. And above all, remember always, that jealousy is not our life, nor disputation our end, nor disunion our health, nor revenge our happiness; but loving-kindness is all these, greater than Hope, greater than Faith, which can remove mountains, properly the only thing which God requires of us, and in the possession of which lies the fulfillment of all our duties.[By Ill Bro Rev W. W. Lord, 32]
We are constrained to confess it to be true, that men, in this Age of Iron, worship gods of wood and iron and brass, the work of their own hands. The Steam-Engine is the pre-eminent god of the nineteenth century, whose idolaters are everywhere, and those, who wield its tremendous power securely account themselves gods, everywhere in the civilized world.
Others confess it everywhere, and we must confess here, how reluctantly soever, that the age which we represent is narrowed and not enlarged by its discoveries, and has lost a larger world than it
has gained. If we cannot go as far as the satirist who says that our self-adored century
we can go with him when he adds,
Deceived by their increased but still very imperfect knowledge and limited mastery of the brute forces of nature, men imagine that they have discovered the secrets of Divine Wisdom, and do not hesitate, in their own thoughts, to put human prudence in the place of the Divine. Destruction was denounced by the Prophets against Tyre and Sidon, Babylon, and Damascus, and Jerusalem, as a consequence of the sins of their people; but if fire now consumes or earthquake shatters or the tornado crushes a great city, those are scoffed at as fanatics and sneered at for indulging in cant, or rebuked for Pharisaic uncharitableness, who venture to believe and say that there are divine retributions and God's judgment in the ruin wrought by His mighty agencies.
Science, wandering in error, struggles to remove God's Providence to a distance from us and the material Universe, and to substitute for its supervision and care and constant overseeing, what it calls Forces--Forces of Nature--Forces of Matter. It will not see that the Forces of Nature are the varied actions of God. Hence it becomes antagonistic to all Religion, and to all the old Faith that has from the beginning illuminated human souls and constituted their consciousness of their own dignity, their divine origin, and their immortality; that Faith which is the Light by which the human soul is enabled, as it were, to see itself.
It is not one religion only, but the basis of all religions, the Truth that is in all religions, even the religious creed of Masonry, that is in danger. For all religions have owed all of life that they have had, and their very being, to the foundation on which they were reared; the proposition, deemed undeniable and an axiom, that the Providence of God rules directly in all the affairs and changes of material things. The Science of the age has its hands
upon the pillars of the Temple, and rocks it to its foundation. As yet its destructive efforts have but torn from the ancient structure the worm-eaten fret-work of superstition, and shaken down some incoherent additions--owl-inhabited turrets of ignorance, and massive props that supported nothing. The structure itself will be overthrown, when, in the vivid language of a living writer, "Human reason leaps into the throne of God and waves her torch over the ruins of the Universe."
Science deals only with phenomena, and is but charlatanism when it babbles about the powers or causes that produce these, or what the things are, in essence, of which it gives us merely the names. It no more knows what Light or Sound or Perfume is, than the Aryan cattle-herders did, when they counted the Dawn and Fire, Flame and Light and Heat as gods. And that Atheistic Science is not even half-science, which ascribes the Universe and its powers and forces to a system of natural laws or to an inherent energy of Nature, or to causes unknown, existing and operating independently of a Divine and Supra-natural power.
That theory would be greatly fortified, if science were always capable of protecting life and property, and, with anything like the certainty of which it boasts, securing human interests even against the destructive agencies that man himself develops in his endeavors to subserve them. Fire, the fourth element, as the old philosophers deemed it, is his most useful and abject servant. Why cannot man prevent his ever breaking that ancient indenture, old as Prometheus, old as Adam? Why can he not be certain that at any moment his terrible subject may not break forth and tower up into his master, tyrant, destroyer? It is because it also is a power of nature; which, in ultimate trial of forces, is always superior to man. It is also because, in a different sense from that in which it is the servant of man, it is the servant of Him Who makes His ministers a flame of fire, and Who is over nature, as nature is over man.
There are powers of nature which man does not even attempt to check or control. Naples does nothing against Vesuvius. Valparaiso only trembles with the trembling earth before the coming earthquake. The sixty thousand people who went down alive into the grave when Lisbon buried her population under both earth and sea had no knowledge of the causes, and no possible control over the power, that effected their destruction.
But here the servant, and, in a sense, the creature of man, the drudge of kitchen and factory, the humble slave of the lamp, engaged in his most servile employment, appearing as a little point of flame, or perhaps a feeble spark, suddenly snaps his brittle chain, breaks from his prison, and leaps with destructive fury, as if from the very bosom of Hell, upon the doomed dwellings of fifty thousand human beings, each of whom, but a moment before, conceived himself his master. And those daring fire-brigades, with their water-artillery, his conquerors, it seemed, upon so many midnight fields, stand paralyzed in the presence of their conqueror.
In other matters relative to human safety and interests we have observed how confident science becomes upon the strength of some slight success in the war of man with nature, and how much inclined to put itself in the place of Providence, which, by the very force of the term, is the only absolute science. Near the beginning of this century, for instance, medical and sanitary science had made, in the course of a few years, great and wonderful progress. The great plague which wasted Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and reappeared in the seventeenth, had been identified with a disease which yields to enlightened treatment, and its ancient virulence was attributed to ignorance of hygiene, and the filthy habits of a former age. Another fatal and disfiguring scourge had to a great extent been checked by the discovery of vaccination. From Sangrado to Sydenham, from Paracelsus to Jenner, the healing art had indeed taken a long stride. The Faculty might be excused had it then said, "Man is mortal, disease will be often fatal; but there shall be no more unresisted and unnecessary slaughter by infectious disease, no more general carnage, no more carnivals of terror and high festivals of death."
The conceited boast would hardly have died upon the lip, when, from the mysterious depths of remotest India a spectre stalked forth, or rather a monster crept, more fearful than human eye had ever yet beheld. And not with surer instinct does the tiger of the jungles, where this terrible pestilence was born, catch the scent of blood upon the air, than did this invisible Destroyer, this fearful agent of Almighty Power, this tremendous Consequence of some Sufficient Cause, scent the tainted atmosphere of Europe and turn Westward his devastating march. The millions of dead left in his path through Asia proved nothing. They were unarmed, ignorant, defenceless, unaided by science, undefended by art. The
cholera was to them inscrutable and irresistible as Azrael, the Angel of Death.
But it came to Europe and swept the halls of science as it had swept the Indian village and the Persian khan. It leaped as noiselessly and descended as destructively upon the population of many a high-towered, wide-paved, purified, and disinfected city of the Nest as upon the Pariahs of Tanjore and the filthy streets of Stamboul. In Vienna, Paris, London, the scenes of the great plague were re-enacted.
The sick man started in his bed,
The watcher leaped upon the floor,
At the cry, Bring out your dead,
The cart is at the door!
Was this the judgment of Almighty God? He would be bold who should say that it was; he would be bolder who should say it was not. To Paris, at least, that European Babylon, how often have the further words of the prophet to the daughter of the Chaldæans, the lady of kingdoms, been fulfilled? "Thy wisdom and thy knowledge have perverted thee, and thou hast said in thy heart I am and none else beside me. Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know whence it riseth; and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off; desolation shall come upon thee suddenly."
And as to London--it looked like judgment, if it be true that the Asiatic cholera had its origin in English avarice and cruelty, as they suppose who trace it to the tax which Warren Hastings, when Governor-General of India, imposed on salt, thus cutting off its use from millions of the vegetable-eating races of the East: just as that disease whose spectral shadow lies always upon America's threshold, originated in the avarice and cruelty of the slave-trade, translating the African coast fever to the congenial climate of the West Indies and Southern America--the yellow fever of the former, and the vomito negro of the latter.
But we should be slow to make inferences from our petty human logic to the ethics of the Almighty. Whatever the cruelty of the slave-trade, or the severity of slavery on the continents or islands of America, we should still, in regard to its supposed consequences, be wiser, perhaps, to say with that great and simple Casuist Who gave the world the Christian religion: "Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans because
they suffered such things? or those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all the men that dwelt in Jerusalem?"
Retribution bars retaliation, even in words. A city shattered, burned, destroyed, desolate, a land wasted, humiliated, made a desert and a wilderness, or wearing the thorny crown of humiliation and subjugation, is invested with the sacred prerogatives and immunities of the dead. The base human revenge of exultation at its fall and ruin should shrink back abashed in the presence of the infinite Divine chastisement. "Forgiveness is wiser than revenge," our Freemasonry teaches us, "and it is better to love than to hate." Let him who sees in great calamities the hand of God, be silent, and fear His judgments.
Men are great or small in stature as it pleases God. But their nature is great or small as it pleases themselves. Men are not born, some with great souls and some with little souls. One by taking thought cannot add to his stature, but he can enlarge his soul. By an act of the will he can make himself a moral giant, or dwarf himself to a pigmy.
There are two natures in man, the higher and the lower, the great and the mean, the noble and the ignoble; and he can and must, by his own voluntary act, identify himself with the one or with the other. Freemasonry is continual effort to exalt the nobler nature over the ignoble, the spiritual over the material, the divine in man over the human. In this great effort and purpose the chivalric Degrees concur and co-operate with those that teach the magnificent lessons of morality and philosophy. Magnanimity, mercy, clemency, a forgiving temper, are virtues indispensable to the character of a perfect Knight. When the low and evil principle in our nature says, "Do not give; reserve your beneficence for impoverished friends, or at least unobjectionable strangers, Do not bestow it on successful enemies,--friends only in virtue, of our misfortunes," the diviner principle whose voice spake by the despised Galilean says, "Do good to them that hate you, for if ye love them (only) who love you, what reward have you? Do not publicans and sinners the same"--that is, the tax-gathers and wicked oppressors, armed Romans and renegade Jews, whom ye count your enemies?