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had its mirror, had once been very near,
and perhaps all too dear to our heart, and to
find now only a stony blank where had been so
precious and eloquent a face. It is a death in
lifea spiritual murderworse than any actual
death of the physical powers; and for my own
part I would rather the beloved had died than
have lived down into such degradation of beauty.
Bad enough is it to meet this blank if only as
regards ourselvesleaving still the fact of the
face for others; to touch cold clay in place of
the living flesh which had once throbbed and
reddened beneath our handto look into glass
balls deftly coloured, instead of the loving eyes
that used to mirror back our own, and flash
glory and happiness, and the light of hope, and
the warmth of love into our lifeto turn
hopelessly towards the dear land in which had lain
our Eden, and to see, instead of the roses and
palm-groves of former years, nothing but a high-
walled city, peopled by strange feet, and closed
against us for ever. This is more bitter than
death.

WHAT IS THE GOOD OF FREE-
MASONRY?

EXTOLLED as the true faith; denounced as
an offshoot of Satan; praised by crowned, and
banned by tonsured heads; dreaded as a subtle
political engine, and admired for its profound
indifference to politics; the essence of goodness
according to some men, and the spirit of evil if
you listen to others; freemasonry is as
complete a mystery to the uninitiated as when the
mythical lady hid herself in the lodge clock-case,
or the equally mythical American citizen was
slain for tampering with its secrets. Listen to
the words of wisdom, according to Brother
Stodgers, P.M., and you will learn that men
may be Freemasons for years without
penetrating the arcana of the order; may attain
divers dignities without comprehending their
true import; may die in the fulness of masonic
parts without having emerged from masonic
babyhood; and after having spent as much time
and labour on the art as would, to put it
modestly, suffice for the acquisition of every
European tongue, yet fall short of the supreme
distinction of beinga good mason.” Whether,
as the elder Mr. Weller, and the charity-boy
he quotes, respectively remarked of the
institutions of holy matrimony, and of getting to
the end of the alphabet, it be worth while going
through so much to learn so little, is, I hear the
cynic whisper, entirely a matter of opinion; but
that neither the labour involved nor its reward
is under-estimated, the most superficial
knowledge with the subject proves.

Brother Steele and myself have some right
to our opinion, for we are past-masters, mark-
masters, and royal arch companionsare officers
of our chapters, and treasurers of our lodge.
What our mutual and horsey friend Tibbins
irreverently calls ourplated harness,” involves
medals, jewels, and ornate ribbons for our manly
breasts, aprons for our fronts, and broad collars
like those worn by knights of the Garter (but
handsomer) for our necks. The Victoria Cross
is an ugly excrescence compared to the costly
decoration given me as a testimonial by the
brethren of my mother lodge; the clasps to the
jewels of some of our friends exceed in number
those of the oldest Peninsular veteran, and we
calculate that we might now be Sanskrit scholars
of some eminence had we thought fit to serve
that language as faithfully as we have served
the craft. Upon sordid money considerations
we scorn to dwell. Initiation fees, exaltation
fees, fees for advancement, emergencies,
subscriptions to charities, to lodges, and for special
purposes, make up a pretty sum to look back
upon; and if the upshot of it all were but the
amusement and gratification derived, I am not
prepared to say that we have had full value for
our money. Joyous evenings, periodical feasts (in
which something else flows besides soul), mutual
compliments, and pleasant friendships, may all
spring from other sources than what Burns
calledthe mystic tie.” With the warmest
appreciation of the pleasures of freemasonry, I,
for one, should renounce the whole paraphernalia
of colours, aprons, and gewgaws, were I not
satisfied of their practical value, and deeply
impressed with their usefulness in stimulating
to benevolent impulses and charitable deeds.
This is, in truth, the chief virtue I care to claim
for the order, in this country and in these times.
Abroad, the Freemasons, so fiercely cursed by
his Holiness the Pope, may mix up democratic
caballing with their ceremonials, and play an
important part in the spread of liberal principles,
but in England, religious and political discussion
are alike forbidden in lodge; and though in the
olden days, when skilled craftsmen worked
together in travelling bands, leaving magnificent
monuments of civilisation and piety in their
train, the objects of association were better
understood, they were not more practical in
their results than now. It is impossible to
belong to a masonic lodge, or even to eat
masonic dinners with regularity, without helping
to support some of the most noble charities
in the land. You are caught, we will say, by
the promise of festivity and the hope of
enjoyment. You know a jovial set, and would like
to be one of them, and you are in due course
proposed, elected, and initiated in some masonic
body. From that moment you are a cog in a
mighty wheel, and can no more help moving
with the rest of the machinery in the direction
of good works, than you can avoid wearing your
apron when on duty in your lodge. Your earliest
lesson is that of charity and toleration; but the
great advantage of the rules of the community
you have entered, is, that no individual demerits
or torpor can long withstand their beneficial
tendency. Other precepts you may neglect or
ignore. Your private life may be far from
irreproachable. You may be depreciated by your
fellow-members asa knife-and-fork mason”—
that is, one who cares more for the table of the
tavern than the table of the lawand may be

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