페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

go at

soner let out. The rabid anti-mason was suffered to escape and large, unmuzzled and unwhipped of justice. Anti.Inasonry, sir, was operative then, to defeat justice, and destroy the supremacy of the laws."

I feel much disposed to take my seat Mr. President-the subject is out of place in this convention, and if I had been at all instrumental in bringing it hither, I would apologize for the error, and abate the evil. But I think that I may be allowed to ask the attention of the convention to a few

words more.

Suppose, sir, the amendment should be adopted, and that no freemasor should be allowed to hold office in Pennsylvania—that you should deny to him the right of a freeman, what would be the next step? For you would not stop there.

I ask the members of this convention whether all the tales of horror which the gentleman from Lancaster has dwelt on with such force, are at all to be compared with what has been charged, and believed by some, concerning the priests of the catholic church. Is the murder of Morgan comparable to the alleged torments of the inquisition ?

If I had Fox's book of the Martyrs, I would shew you, sir, upon authority about equal to that which my friend from Lancaster has quoted, that the Roman Catholics have been as bad as the masons—and of course they must be dealt with accordingly.

Well, sir, having disposed of these two classes, the episcopalians might next come in for a share of political ostracism, and thus sect after sect be excinded, until none were lelt but pure anti-masons to share the offices and hold the rod. There would be a regular sifting and bolting—just. such a selection as was made by the Israelitish leader, to whom the gentleman from Juniata, (Mr. Cummin) recently referred.

The gentleman from Lancaster, speaks of the defeat of justice by the interposition of masons in favor of those charged with the outrage in the western part of New York. I am not prepared to explain every circumstance to which the gentleman refers, and I presume that most of the charges to which he alludes are her altogether gratuitous. But I would ask gentlemen, as men and as christians, if a member of their church was charged with a dereliction of duty, whether it would be a just act to turn him, without inquiry, from your door, and thus tell the world you believe him guilty ?

It would have been more of a christian principle, and so perhaps the masons thought, to sustain the arm of the feeble one-to minister to him, and, in the ordinary maxim of the law, consider him innocent until they proved him guilıy.' This, at least, is a masonic rule, if it is not a christian one; and I presume it is upon this rule they acted.

This subject that I play upon has made some good music and fine dana cing. I will not, therefore, dwell upon it. With the exception of the gentleman from Northampton, (Mr. Porter) I am probably the only one

persecuted body here, that will venture to say a word. And I do not ask that this resolution may not pass. I should not vote upon it. I should throw all the odium upon those who brought it here. And sup-. pose it should pass and become a part of the constitution. The very

of this

height of the ambition of its authors here, would be destruction to them. Let them make a law that masons shall not vote, and what would be their political condition. They hold office now under the vote of free

masons.

I will call to the recollection of the gentleman from Lancaster, (Mr. Reigart) in the most solemn manner, the circumstance of the dead body of their saint having been discovered at low water mark. I will call to the recollection of the gentleman the anti-masonic lodge that was called on the occasion—the wife designating him as having a scar on his toe, and how the body was carried forth and buried with cries and groans, and how the honest man whispered, “why this is not Morgan, this man is six inches shorter than the other.' is a good enough Morgan until after the electiesays that is true—but he

This is a grave matter; all these things are good enough until after the election.

But, sir, permit me to say that all these charges against free masonry are utterly false. I lay my hand upon my heart, and say that they are utterly false. Free masonry is a charitable institution, and suffer me here, as knowing well this institution, to reveal to you what its character is. The information may be worth something.

We who become members of that order, deposit in the public treasury a sum of money, which sum is to be required of every body who joins the order. When we visit distant parts of the world, as one in want, poor, sick, or destitute, we are entitled to relief. We may demand in China from the treasurer there, a sum of money for that which we have desposited here. And upon the mode of demanding depends the secrets of ihe craft. There is nothing, I believe, unconstitutional in this, and I know that there is nothing in it which is in opposition to the great, the revered precepts of christianity. It has been charged on this floor, that masonry is a blasphemous institution, indecent in its rights. I deny the fact. I speak in the presence of men who know the truth of my assertion.

The gentleman from Lancaster, who has made these grossly false char. ges, has done it almost upon the grave of the sainted, the beloved Bedell, the pastor of St. Andrews Church, in Eighth street—the zealous and active principal officer of that high order of masonry, against whose rights and ceremonies, the gentleman in his false and indiscriminating zeal, has charged indecency and blasphemy. In Philadelphia the name of Bedell, is not ihus associated.

But, sir, I waste time. I might invite the attention of delegates to a thousand excellent, eminent, and philanthropic individuals, who have lived and died members of that order. But, sir, I was not sent here to defend it; and I presume that, in attempting to do so, I should rather offend than please my brethren. We live in love, and would rather please a friend than embitter an enemy.

But a gentle nan, whom I respect as a friend, has declared that the present amendment, if inserted in the constitution, would deprive him and thousands of our fellow-citizens of those rights which our fathers, who were themselves free-masons, secured for us, and handed down to us, that we also, in our time, might transmit them to our posterity ; because the rights of liberty are not more certainly descended from Washington

and his followers, than are the rights of free-masonry. Since I came here, there have been laid on the table a pamphlet which the gentleman from Lancaster seems to think something extraordinary. I am mortified to find upon its title page, the name of the governor of this commonwealth, who has turned aside from the high duties of his station to assail free-masons.

“Ocean into tempest tost,
To waft a feather, or to drown a ily."

In that pamphlet, the author quotes, with a spirit of triumph, a remark by one Colden, viz: that he “never knew a great mason that was not a

great fool.”

Now, Mr. President, what office was vacant at that time, or what committee of nomination was in session, I cannot tell. But when the assertion was made, or about that time, Dewitt Clinton, a name to be reverenced, was the grand high priest of free-masonry, in the state of New York ; and at the close of the masonic year, resigned his charge, his jewels, and his office, to Stephen Van Rensellaer, an eminent philanthropist, a defender of christianity, a man who was universally loved and respected, and whose name is yet held in reverence by all who know him. And yet that man, according to the argument of the advocates of this school of politics, was a great fool. Be it my pleasure all my life long, to be yoked with such men! to share their folly and their greatness.

Let me not be considered, in any thing I may here have said, as desiring to wound the feelings of any man. I have been so often charged on this subject with evil motives, that I have learned the christian duty to bear and forbear—to give and forgive; and whilst I defend in debate. an institution which has been thus fiercely assailed, I would rather be considered as deprecating the passage of an improper resolution which has been presented to this convention, than as speaking in defence of an order usually ranked as a secret society, but which is no more so than any association of lawyers, carpenters, and shoemakers. I have given you a revelation of a great portion of its secrets ; the rest may be purchased for a like sum. We cannot expect to have sisters, as the gentleman from Lancaster, (Mr. Reigart) says, but if they come we shall be glad to see them,

Mr. President, I have finished what I have to say in relation to this resolution. I regret that the gentleman from Lancaster did not permit a silent vote to be taken upon it. I regret that he felt bound to assall me, not personally, but as the conductor of a public press, and a member of an institution, for a wrong that I never did, and never allowed to be done. I regret that he should have rendered it necessary for me to occupy so much of your time. But what I have done, I have done with the kind. est feelings.

One word more, and then I will close, We have been spoken of as a political association, horded together for political purposes. I appeal to the experionce of all the members of the masonic body to say, whether this is a fact or not.

I appeal to your experience, Mr. President, when you were a candidate for congress, and were opposed by Thomas Kit...

era and Henry Horn. The former, the grand master of the grand lodge, and the latter, a past-master. I, a member of the same lodge with them, opposed both personally, and with my press. The grand master succeeded, but you had the masonic vote.

I appeal to the gentleman from Lancaster to say, whether I was not yoked with George M. Dallas and George Wolf, as state prisoners at Harrisburg, although we were the antipodes of each other in all that relates to the political questions which have agitated the country. I know that all these injurious things are said pre forma. Still they are firebrands scattered about, inflicting injury and wrong; and he who knows what they really are, wonders how intelligent minds can be led into error by them. It is unkind, it is unjust, to assail any class of citizens when they are not in a situation where they can well defend themselves. Assertions are made, and are given to the winds, until the whole public mind is embittered against a class of citizens who, from the day they were first known in the United States, may challenge any other class, in point of integrity, piety, learning, and christianity; and for all those traits of character, which adorn the hearts of men, and make men love each other.

Sir, I have now closed. I had some few more observations to make, but I will not weary the patience of the convention.

I know that any labored defence of this order is unnecessary.

Its assailants are fast giving way, and the cause of masonry is again budding like the rod of Aaron-again its members are associating for benevolence—they are again feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, ministering to the wants of the sick and the destitute-presenting an asylum where men may meet without reference to political parties—and where all things good may be produced without injury to mankind. I hope that the anti-masons may be able to say as much of their institution, when they shall be called io account.

Mr. PORTER, of Northampton, rose and said :

I did hope the other day, when the gentleman from Allegheny (Mr. Denny) offered this same amendment, which, it will be recollected, was voted down by more than two to one, that we should not again have been troubled with this third or fourth edition of "Jenny dang the weaver. But it seems now that the gentleman from Lancaster (Mr. Reigart) was not then present in the convention, and that he had no opportunity of recording his vote or of making a speech, and I suppose he will not be satisfied until he has done these things. The gentleman has been pleased to define his ideas of free masonry, of which he knows nothing, and which he takes upon hearsay; and I will in return, on rather better data, give him some incidents in the history of anti-masonry, as I know it to be, and as I will prove it to be.

I say, then, that this is a persecuting attempt of a persecuting sect_a sect that is just worthy of the spirit which led John Rogers to the stake; for there is nothing upon earth that seems to have so strong a tendency to curdle the sympathies and dry up the fountains of charity in the human heart, as anti-masonry. Take a good man-a gentleinan by education and by habit--a man who has been accustomed to syınpathize with the

wants, the sufferings, and the misfortunes of his fellow men, and to perform all the kind offices of life to those about him-take, I say, such a man, and let him mingle for a time with anti-masons, and he becomes, in a very short period of time, as bitter as gall; he loses sight of the common charities and courtesies of life. In a word, he is transformed into a being as different to what he was before, as any two extremes that can be imagined.

Mr. President, I do not stand here as the eulogist or the defender of free masonry. It needs no defence at my hands. It is composed of men -there are some good and some bad. We do not suppose that all men in that fraternity are perfect. I believe that the perfectionists are not free masons, although I believe that there is such a sect as perfectionists somewhere in the states. But I could not suffer the opportunity to pass without saying something in reply to the gentleman from Lancaster, who has stigmatized us as every thing that is bad, not upon his own authority, but. upon the authority of William L. Stone, a man who has swallowed antimasonry, as he has swallowed animal magnetism, and as he would swallow any thing on which he can make money by gull-traps.

I am now a deputy grand master of the order of free masonry. neither ashamed nor afraid to own that I am a free mason. My father was one before me, but that did not prevent him from serving in the war of independence for seven years, nor did it prevent more than one of his sons from shouldering their muskets and marching out to defend their country when that country called.

I am

I have taken upon me no obligation, I have made no promise, I have done no act inconsistent with the humble character of a christian, which I profess, inconsistent with my duties as a republican and a democrat, or inconsistent with the duties which I owe to myself and my family. I hold myself to be as good a man now as if I had never become a member of that order, and, probably, no better. But this I know, that had I lived strictly up to its precepts, I probably should have been a much better man than I am at this present time.

The gentleman from Lancaster (Mr. Reigart) has told us that some men say that masonry comes from heaven, although, he adds, it is not quite certain that it had not a more vulgar origin. One thing I will say, that I never heard even so much as a rumor that anti-masonry came from heaven, and in this respect, therefore, we have the advantage of him; but, on the contrary, I have never entertained a doubt that it came from a much lower source. And whilst I am upon the subject, I will tell you how anti-masonry got into the state of Pennsylvania, and how it exhibits itself in the county of Lancaster, as well as in some other parts, and I will produce my authority here in the city of Philapelphia, if it should be necessary so to do.

There were certain worn out politicians in the western part of the state of New York, who had run their round and worn out their welcome with, the people. These men, notwithstanding their rejection by the people,

« 이전계속 »