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Oration: delivered at the inauguration of the New Masonic Hall, on Government Street, Victoria, Vancouver… Somerville, Thomas, 1839-1915 1866

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On MONDAY, 25th JUNE, A. L., 5866, 
J. W, POWELL, Esq., Past Master ofthe Day; ROBERT
BURNABY, Esq., Right Worshipful Master ot the Day;
W. I. NEUSTADT, Esq., Senior Warden; and LUMLEY
FRANKLIN, Esq., Junior Warden of the Day ; and the
Brethren of the Masonic Lodges in
Inauguration of the New Hall3
On the 25th JUNE, A. D., 1866,
5 Beloved Brethren :
In consenting that the
printed, I have simply sacrificed my
deem that it may prove an acceptable
following address should be
wishes to yours. Since you
memorial of an occasion so
interesting, and strengthen the cause of Masonry, I place it entirely
at your disposal. I present it in the exact form in which it was
delivered. I do this not from want of desire to amend it, but from the
same reason which prevented me from preparing it more carefully at
the first—want of time, amid the pressing duties of my vocation.
I am,
With all Fraternal Regard,
J Worshipful Master and Brethren :
Truly it is my desire that another more experienced in the
mysteries of our Order had been appointed for this duty. I have
only consented to address you that it may be shown in practice what
we assert in theory, that none may refuse the work appointed by the
The Dedication of the Lodge is one of the most solemn ordinances: of our ancient order, and I am certain that as these holy symbols
stood unveiled in their new resting place, and your thoughts wandered
back through the corridor of ages to the scene of their first introduction, and forward to the rich associations that will be entwined
around them in the future, thoughts deep and hallowed could not fail
to well up from the springs of your heart. Be it simply mine, then,
as one for all, to voice forth these your silent reflections.
The work completed to-day is called " The Dedication of the
Lodge to the Holy Saint John," the patron of our order: But
strictly speaking the work has a double purpose—both dedication
and consecration. The Lodge is dedicated to virtue, in the name of
the Great Jehovah, and consecrated, separated and set apart to the
purpose of preserving the memory of these illustrious names.
It is dedicated to virtue. True masonry is the dutiful daughter
of Heaven. The Lodge is the sacred shrine of Almighty Jehovah.
By his law every mason must be a good and true man—true to himself, his fellows and to the Being before whom he has beat in adoring
reverence. The "stupid Athiest or irreligious libertine" may make
himself a false man, but never a good mason. The mason is pledged
to pious virtue. Nor let be forgotten that virtue orginally meant
valor. Among the old Romans the most valorous man was esteemed
the most virtuous; now while strength should not be all, it must still
form an important element of goodness. The good min must ever be
a strongman. Mere sentimentalism is silly; like the vapour it appear-
eth for a little while and then vanisheth away. In every " good and
true man" there must be a healthy firmness. The feeling of desire
must be yoked with the principle of right, and will must drive them
Ragged strength and radiant beauty,
These were one in nature's plaD,
Humble toil and Heavenward duty,
T&ese will form tbe perfect roan,
J ^—2=*-«s=
To virtue, strong and beautiful, is this Hall dedicated. Never-
then let careless feet defile its pavement, nor uncleanhands^ touch its
vessels ; never let angry disputations be heard within its walls.
Conscience as a faithful Tyler must guard off the Furies of Discord.
Temper must be ever tempered and feeling chastened. It is that we-
may become better men that we meet here, and all our labours—the
charges, the rituals, the ceremonies, nay, every jewel andornament,
every article of furniture, every emblem and hieroglyphic, tend to,
this point.
But more, the Lodge is consecrated to the memory of St. John-,
the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist; and it is P^R?k Jfe&t we
should shortly recall to our minds their lives and labours. T-iight too,
ffiatftt|eir names should have been linked together; not that! they
were nke each other, but"gust becauSe^ttiey were widely different in
tfieir temperaments and teachings. They'.wete the expohetrts of "the
two'extej&es in human character—the Bap'tist^beiftgtfeiTeprcseiita--
tive of fiery, boldness, the Evangelist of shrinking love. The one was
a sturdy Doric column, the other a graceful Corinthian pillar. The-
one was the complement of the other ; united togetheMhey combine;
weftgth and beauty.
'The l&iptJst was a truly heroic character. The last of all the
prophets, he Was the greatest'Of all. Of his life we get only a few
glimpses, but these show us what sort of man helwas. The'firsts picture ifi^WiS of an ardent youth among.the sotftudes of I&raeVs deserts-
Saddened by the hollowness of life in Israel and perplexed owfith the
controversies of Jerusalem—the wrangling ofSaddtteee with Pharisee,.
of formalist ,w?th mystic, of the disciples of one infallible Rabbi, with.
the disciples of another infallible RJabbi, he fled for ifefuge to the
wilderness, to see if God could be found by the earnest souL that
sougntrhim alone. For thirty yearshe K^fed in>'ttie desetet; then came
the time when the qualities nuiisfed in solitude burst fixcfcHoopon Ae-
world. The people felt that a King of Men stood %eforethem. The
desert swarmed with crowds; warriors, profBgateS," publicans] the
heart broken—the worldly, the disappointed—allvcaine. Even the
King's attehtion::is gained ; he is taken away from thensimple life of
the desert and placed among the artifidSalifies of the RoyaLvGky.
And now comes the question, "Does the stern proph&ttdaBgtaerate
into a ?weet Hftrigued courtier." Is the rough ashlar of the forest
broken into pieces in the process of polishing ? "Verify no. He
^C|nds in Ilerod's court, the prophet of the*>desert still,/ {reaching
boldly the trtrfh. When Herod would allyhintaelf with- hisn gualty
mistress, he at once said^'lt is not lawful for thee to hai^iier." Now
is he struck down like an eagle in its flight. Thelast pictured .that
of this earnest, strong man cast into a dungeon by the guards of the
King. There he wears out his restless soul, until ! sacrificed to a
courtesan's whim.
I May his name ever remind us of [Courage in the hour of trial and
inspire us with fortitude to reprove sternly all departures from
Masonic rule, 1
None have ever had more of the essential spirit of Matiriry tlkn
St. John the Evangelist. He was the principle of love persdnjfied.
Love was the-Secret of his religion, the burden of his teaching^e
substance of his life, and the promise of his heaven. J^Whether^we
behold him leaning on his Master's breast, or wandering as a teacfier
among the nations of the East, he was the living illustration of his
constant theme. His, too, was a love not easily quenched ; he was
persecuted, imprisoned, banished, tortured ; but his love survived his
trials. His life was love. Hear him, when old and feeble, writing
to his disciples, "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light ■ he
that hateth his brother walketh in darkness." Such was the man.
May his name inspire us with his spirit, so that our labours in the
Lodge below may prepare us for the rest in the temple above.
Brethren, the service in which we have this day engaged and the
symbols upon which we have gazed must have brought vividly to
mind the high antiquity of our Order. And this thought let us cherish;
it will add dignity and lustre to our pursuits. It is impossible not
to feel the spell of long prescription in some degree. The Jew cannot but feel proud that the blood which fired Abraham's bosom still
runs in hi« veins ; the Greek, wandering among the beautiful groves
of his native land, cannot but reflect with pleasure on the time when
the fathers of philosophy assembled there their pupils, and the poet's
song waked rapturous applause in the neighbouring theatres ; the
modern denizen of Rome, when he sees the eager strangers throng its
streets and spoil its temples, leels the emotion of pride as he reflects
that' the^me was, when the queenly city, seated securely on her
seven hills, gave laws to their barbarous forefathers ; the representative of Great Britain, gazing upon his country's flag in the land of
the stranger, feels it all the dearer to his heart when he remembers
that for a thousand years it has braved the battle and the breeze, and
numbers up the many hard fought battles over which it has floated ;
the worshipper in an ancient church has all the more attachment to
it when he considers that the walls of its cathedrals are now^grey
with years, and that for centuries has gone up to the Most High the
same sacred song ; and if any cherish this feeling, surely may we,
when we search the records of Masonry and look back upon its
existence even beyond the period of these records. " The sources of
the noblest rivers which spread fertility over continents and bear
richly laden vessels to the sea, are to be sought for in wild and barren tracts, incorrectly laid down in maps and rarely explored by
travellers." Far baek in the dim and hoary past, beyond the period
of authentic history lies the origin of Masonry. We do indeed catch
glimpses of it as it"rolls along near to the fountain head, yet when
we first clearly behold it, it bursts upon our eyes as a broad, deep
river, well defined and beautiful. There can be little doubt that
long before the Christain era, the mountains of Judea, the plains of
Syria, the deserts of India, and the valley of the Nile were cheered
by its presence and fertilized by its current. Nearly three thousand
years ago there were in Asia the Dionysian architects, a great
f [6]
corporation who undertook and even monopolised the building of
temples, stadiums and theatres, recognized each other by signs and
tokens, were possessed of certain esoteric doctrines, and called all
other men profane, who were not admitted to these mysteries. Of
these were the cunning workmen sent by Hiram, King of Tyre, to
aid in the erection of the temple 1000 years before the Christian era.
Here it is that Masonry first meets us in strength and beauty. In the
construction of this magnificent edifice, 113,000 men were engaged
under 300 overseers, and its building occupied seven years. And
surely that day when the first temple was completed, must rise
vividly before the minds of us assembled within the last consecrated.
It was a great and joyous day in Jerusalem. Wearily had they
waited whilst it gradually rose up towards the skies, and now the
capstone was brought forth with shoutings. The multitude ofthe
people thronged the courts and stretched away down the streets to
the very walls of the city. Attracting every eye, crowning the
summit of Mount Moriah stood the temple with its lofty, columns, and
beauteous towers and gilded roof, sparkling in the pure sunlight of
heaven—the chosen dwelling place of Jehovah—the joy of the whole
earth, and the visible symbol of that other not made with hands.
Within it were placed the brazen altar, and the golden altar, and
the other vessels that had been in the tabernacle. In the Holy of
Holies placed they the mercy seat and the ark, and within that the
moral law written on the tables of stone and delivered long before to
Moses amid the thunderings of Sinai. Then, as it has been said,
" did Masonry go forth bearing upon her brow the name of Jehovah,
in her bosom a jewel of living radiance, and in her hand the key
that unlocked the gates of immortality. For more than 20CO years
has she been telling man of a Being brighter than the stars, and
endless as eternity." Before the victorious sou of Philip marched
his phalanxes, or ever Romulus walked by Tiber's stream,' had she
been telling man how to live and how to die. Oh! surely it is
something to boast of, that her language has rolled from so many
tongues—that her altar fires have been kindled for so many centuries
—that her beneficent works have been performed by so many hands.
To remove her landmarks and her handmarks, the ancient buildings
and the cathedrals, those chefs d'auvre of the middle age must be
razed to the ground, even to the last stone ; for everywhere in the
floor, the pavements, the columns, the mouldings, and the roofs, the
masons, the sculptors, and the architects have left their marks.
Thus high and honorable is the prescription in her favor. Old she
is, but there appear not yet the signs of senility. Mighty her works
inf!the past, but there gather not the manifestations of weakness or
weariness. Time has written no wrinkle on her spotless brow. In
the ^ virtues of her children, she ever renews her youth. In her
purification from profane appendages, she over strengthens her
stakes. In the distribution of the civilised races she ever lengthens
her cords. Her lessons and her precepts—those grand moral flora
of the universe—are of perennial growth.    As they bloomed in Pales-
lV 1
tine, they bloom in this, the farthest west. As they were with
Solomon and our fathers, so are they with us ; and as with us, so
shall they  be with our children's children.
Of such thoughts are we reminded by the Lodge and the Dedication Service. Turn we now to the living stones of the temple—the
members of the'eraft. As a society of men, we assert the dignity of
labour, the Harmony of Union, and the Wisdom of Organization.
We assert the dignity of labour. Activity is demanded, inaction and sloth proscribed. The high vocation of man is to be the
fellow-worker with God. The vitalities of the universe are of God,
the instrumentalities are of man. The'Great Architect has laid out
for us a plan and richly covered the eaitth with material, but man
must work it to its end. Even Paradise had to be dressed, and
though the earth were all to become as fair and fertile as the primeval abode, the neglect of a single generation would throw it back to
a weary waste. God has sown in society the seeds of government,
of science, of art; but man must develope and apply them. The laws
of taste for instance are innately planted within us, but it is the
chisel of the sculptor and the pencil of the artist that give embodiment to these laws in the noble temple andithe magnificent picture.
In everything man's labor is-the complement of the Creator's bounty.
" Laborare est orwe."   Work is truly religious, nay, labor is life.
"Nature lives by action ;
Beast, bird, air, fire, the heavens and rolling world,
All live by action ; not&frig lives at rest
Bat death and ruin ; man is cured of care,
d Fashioned and improved by labor."
These truths are too often forgotten. They have in some measure
been slipping away from the present generation—that looks upon
work as degrading. To look upon our platforms and our exchanges
where men most do congregate, one might think that the chief end
of man was to talk, to buy and to sell—not to work. In the midst of
" all this does Masonry assert the dignity of labour. Originally a fraternity of practical builders, in later days the work is of a speculative
nature ; still, however, the motto is " a fair day's Wage for a fair
day's work." Honours are given to the diligent, the drones are
discouraged in the busy hive, and in many ways she asserts the
dignity of man's primeval duty.
Your presence here also asserts the Harmony of Union. The
Lodge is the world in miniature. From east to west is its length,
from south to north is its breadth, from earth to heaven is its
height, and from the surface to the centre ofthe terraqueous globe is
its depth. And in few places can this conception be realized so well
ashore. At the ends of the earth we draw material from all the
earth. What a variety of races, nationalities, creeds and ■ religions
are here represented ! We have the Jew, long identified with
Masonry, forgetting his exclusiveness in communion with his
brethren—the Italian from the sunny south, joining hand with the
exile from Old Caledonia, the " Ultima Thulo " of his forefathers—the [81
Saxon from the good old German stock, sitting ia fellowship with
his sprightly neighbour from the joyous land of France, lhe
Englishman and the American forgetting each their jealousies, and
rejoicing together in liberty, equality and fraternity. Nor are the
Colonists awanting. Here the Canadian meets the Australian, and
here Nova Scotia and Vancouver Island intertwine their branches-
all living stones in the building, bound together by the cement of
charity, all forming a fit symbol and type of the time.
" When man to man the warld o'er,
Shall bnthers be for a' that."
• Furthermore, we assert the wisdom of organization. There
may be a union which is not a unity. The atoms in a sandpit are
close enough together, but they do not form a unity. There is no
unity in a flock of sheep, it is simply the repetition of so many things
similar to each other. In an organized unity all the .members are
properly subordinated each to another, and the parts harmoniously
arranged in their suitable relations. The body of man is an
organization where all the different parts, head, heart, finger, fibres,
and limbs seyerally conduce to a common good and depend on each
other. Now, Nature has not intended us to be like a flock of sheep,
near each other and yet distinct from each other ; we are to be
organized. A common interest is to flow as the lifeblood through
all. As men rise in civilization, there appear the higher and finer
developments of combined relations. In savage life men are slightly
organized. The tribe is simply like a flock of sheep. The kingdom
or the empire is the result of experience and refinement. It says
much for Masonry that its common name has become " The Order."
To quote from an illustrious member, whose memory is deservedly
dear on this Pacific coast—the manly and large hearted Thomas
Starr King:—" How Masonry reflects to us or rather illustrates the
wisdom breathed by the Great Architect through all nature! It is
said that order is Heaven's first law; it is no less true that it is Earth's
first privilege. It is the condition of beauty, of liberty, of peace.
Think how the principle of order for all the orbs of heaven is
hidden in the Sun. The tremendous power of his gravitation reaches thousands of millions of miles—and hampers the selfwill—the
centrifugal force of mighty Jupiter, of Uranus with his staff of
moons, and of Neptune. There's a Grand Lodge for you, in which
these separate masters are held in check by the. Most Worshipful
Grand Master's power. Nor is it any hardship that these separate
globes are so strictly under rule, and pay obedience to the Sun. Is
it not their chief blessing—their soverign privilege ? What if the
order were less distinct and punctual ? What if the force in these
globes that chafes under the central rein, and champs its curb,
should be successful for even a single day ? What if the earth should
gain liberty against the pull of the sun ? Beauty from that moment
would wither, fertility would begin to shrivel. The hour of seeming freedom would be the dawn of anarchy; for the Sun's rule is the
condition of perpetual harmony, bounty, and joy."
1 [9]
"The idea of this Heaven determined order, is committed to our
body through its Worshipful Grand Masters, Master, Wardens, Deacons, and Craftsmen. The proper regard for it has preserved it
amid the breaking up of old empires, and maintains it in its mysterious, symmetrical and sublime proportions. It is the source of its
living vigor, and the promise of its future strength."
Finally brethren, we read that when Solomon had finished the
Temple, he besought that the presence of the Lord would dwell there.
May this enlivening presence ever sanctify our fellowship ! What of
our beautiful house and our service without that ? What of the
altar without the altar fire ? What of the richly ornate casket
without the jewel within ? What of the Mason without Masonic
principle ? . He "is only as the dead among the living—a rotten
stone in the building. Our Masonry, brethren, must either be a
real thing, or an awfnl sham, a thing to be laid hold of and nailed
down to the counter by the detector and hater of all shams. Am I
to respect the bad man, because forsooth by forswearing himself, he
has gained the secrets of the craft ? Shall I prefer the man who has
tried to hide his rotteness with the garments of light ? No brethren,
I will endure him—I will try faithnilly to perform my vows to him,
but it is not in human nature to restrain my contempt for him.
Masonry is the daughter of Heaven; let us who wear her
favors, never soil them on the earth. Invested as we are with these
ancient and noble badges, let us walk in the light and not in darkness. With clean hands and right spirits—with an eye of compassion
for the tear of sorrow, with an ear ever open to the cry of the distressed—with a hand ever ready to help the widow, and the orphan,
and the stranger, let us show to the world the inherent nobleness
of onr order. Thus may we go on from strength to strength, and at
length be admitted into the presence of the Supreme Grand Master,
and receive the password to celestial bliss.
The words of that old Masonic marching hymn, lately quoted
by Carlyle in his address to the students at Edinburgh,, should
ring upon our ears:
Tbe Mason's ways are
A type of existence,.
And his persistence
Is as the days are.
Of men in the world.
The future bides in it
Gladness and sorrow;
We press still thorow,
Nought that abides in it
Daunting us.   Onward,
And solemn before as,
Veiled, tbe dark portal,
Goal of all mortal.
Stars silent rest o'er us,
Graves under us silent,
While earnest thou gazest,
Comes boding of terror,
Comes phantasm and error,
Perplexes the bravest
With doubt and misgiving.
Bat heard are the voices;
Heard are tbe sages,
The worlds and the ages,
Choose well 1 your choice is
Brief, and yet endless.
Here eyes do regard 70a
In eternity's stillness;
Here is all fullness ;
Ye brave to reward you;
Work and despair not.   


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