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He is celebrated in the history of Freemasonry as the founder of the Order of Illuminati of Bavaria, among whom he adopted the characteristic or Order name of Spartacus. He was born in February 6, 1748, at Ingoldstadt, and was educated by the Jesuits, toward whom, however, he afterward exhibited the bitterest enmity, and was equally hated by them in return. In 1772 he became Extraordinary Professor of Law, and in 1775, Professor of Natural and Canon Law, at the University of Ingoldstadt. As the professorship of canon law had been hitherto held only by an ecclesiastic, his appointment gave great offense to the clergy. Weishaupt, whose views were cosmopolitan, and who knew and condemned the bigotry and superstitions of the Priests, established an opposing party in the University, consisting principally of young men whose confidence and friendship he had gained. Thev assembled in a private apartment, and there he discussed with them philosophic subjects, and sought to imbue them with a liberal spirit. This was the beginning of the Order of the Illuminati, or the Enlightened —a name he bestowed upon his disciples as a token of their advance in intelligence and moral progress.
At first, it was totally unconnected with Freemasonry, of which Order Weishaupt was not at that time a member. It was not until 1777 that he was initiated in the Lodge Theodore of Good Counsel, at Munich. Thenceforward, Weishaupt sought to incorporate his system into that of Freemasonry, so tilat tine latter might become suDservient to nis views and with the assistance of the Baron Knigge, who brought his active energies and genius to the aid of the cause, he succeeded in completing his system of Ilhlminism. But the clergy, and especially the Jesuits, who, although their Order had been abolished by the government, still secretly possessed great power, redoubled their efforts to destroy their opponent, and they at length succeeded. In 1784, all secret Associations were prohibited by a royal decree, and in the following year Weishaupt was deprived of his professorship and banished from the country. He repaired to Gotha, where he was kindly received by Duke Ernest, who made him a Counselor and gave him a pension.
There he remained until he died in 1811.
During his residence at Gotha he wrote and published many works, some on philosophical subjects and several in explanation and defense of Illuminism. Among the latter were A Picture of the Illuminati, 1786; A Complete History of the Persecutions of the Illuminati in Bavaria, 1786. Of this work only one volume was published; the second, though promised, never appeared. An Apologyfor the Illuminati, 1786; An Improved System of the Illuminati, 1787, and many others.
No man has ever been more abused and vilified than Weishaupt by the adversaries of Freemasonry. In such partisan writers as Barruel and Robinson we might expect to find libels against a Masonic reformer. But it is passing strange that Doctor Oliver should have permitted such a passage as the following to sully his pages (Landrnarks u, page 26): "Weishaupt was a shameless libertine, who compassed the death of his sister-in-law to conceal his vices from the world and as he termed it, to preserve his honor."
To charges like these, founded only in the bitterness of his persecutors, Weishaupt has made the following reply; "The tenor of my life has becn the opposite of everything that is vile; and no man can lay any such thing to my charge."
Indeed, his long continuance in an important religious professorship at Ingoldstadt, the warm affections of his pupils, and the patronage and protection, during the closing years of his life, of the virtuous and amiable Duke of Gotha, would seem to give some assurance that Weishaupt could not have been the monster that he has been painted by his adversaries.
Illuminism, it is true, had its abundant errors, and no one will regret its dissolution. But its founder had hoped by it to effect much good: that it was diverted from its original aim was the fault, not of him, but of some of his disciples; and their faults he was not reluetant to condemn in his writings.
His ambition was, Doctor Mackey believed, a virtuous one; that it failed was his, and perhaps the world's misfortune.
He says, My general plan is good, though in the detail there may be faults. I had myself to create. In another situation, and in an active station in life, I should have been keenly occupied, and the founding of an Order would never have eome into my head. But I would have executed mueh better things, if the government had not always opposed my exertions, and placed others in situations which suited my talents. It was the full conviction of this, and of what could be done, if every man were placed in the office for which he was fitted by nature, and a proper education, which first suggested to me the plan of Illuminism.
What he really wished Illuminism to be, we may judge from the instructions he gave as to the necessary qualifications of a candidate for initiation. They are as follows:
Whoever does not close his ear to the lamentations of the miserable, nor his heart to gentle pity; whoever is the friend and brother of the unfortunate; whoever has a heart capable of love and friendship, whoever is steadfast in adversity, unwearied in the carrying out of whatever has been once engaged in, undaunted in the overeoming of difficulties; whoever does not mock and despise the weak; whose soul is susceptible of conceiving great designs, desirous of rising superior to all base motives, and of distinguishing itself by deeds of benevolenee whoever shuns idleness whoever considers no knowiedge as unessential whiei he may have the opportunity of acquiring, regarding the knowledge of mankind as his chief study; whoever, when truth and virtue are in question, despising the approbation of the multitude, is sufficiently courageous to follow the dictates of his own heart,—such a one is a proper candidate.
The Baron von Knigge, who, perhaps, of all men, best knew him, said of him that he was undeniably a man of genius, and a profound thinker; and that he was all the more worthy of admiration because, while subjected to the influenees of a bigoted Roman Catholic education, he had formed his mind by his own meditations, and the reading of good books. His heart, adds this companion of his labors and sharer of his secret thoughts, was excited by the most unselfish desire to do something great, and that would be worthy of mankind, and in the accomplishment of this he was deferred by no opposition and discouraged by no embarrassments.
The truth is, Doctor Mackey says, that Weishaupt has been misunderstood by Masonic authors and slandered by un-Masonic writers. His success in the beginning as a reformer was due to his own honest desire to do good. His failure in the end was attributablc to coclesiastical persecution, and to the faults and follies of his disciples. The Master worked to elevate human nature; the Scholars, to degrade. Weishaupt's place in history should be among the unsuccessful reformers and not among the profligate adventurers.
In the American instructions, it is said to be the duty of the Senior Deacon "to welcome and clothe all visiting Brethren." That is to say, he is to receive them at the door with all courtesy and kindness, and to furnish them, or see that they are furnished, with the necessary apron and gloves and, if they are Past Masters, with the appropriate collar and jewel of that office, with an extra supply of which all Lodges were in the olden time supplied, but not now. He is to conduct the visitor to a seat, and thus carry out the spirit of the Old Charges, which especially inculcate hospitality to strange Brethren. These customs are no longer practised and the instructions prescribe other well-known duties.
WELL FORMED, TRUE, AND TRUSTY.
A formula used by the Grand Master at the laying of a Corner-stone. Having applied the Square, Level, and Plumb to its different surfaces and angles, he declares it to be "well formed, true, and trusty."
Borrowed from the technical language of Operative Masonry, it is symbolically applied in reference to the character which the Entered Apprentiee should sustain when, in the course of his initiation, he assumes the place of a typical Corner-stone in the Lodge.
WELLINGTON, DUKE OF.
The Hero of Waterloo, and the renowned, General, was initiated in Lodge No. 494, Ireland, about December, 1790. Brother Hedley Williams, of Hastings (England), has just presented to the Wellington Lodge, No. 341, Rye, the Knight's spurs belonging to the Duke of Wellington, who was an initiate of the Trim Lodge under the Irish Constitution (Freernason, Mareh 14, 1925). Wellington's name appears in a subscription fund for his Lodge, in 1795 according to Brother Woodford's Cyclopedia of Freemasonry, and other interesting particulars are in the Masonic Magazine, January, 1875, contributed by Brother J. H. Neilson, Dubfin,Ireland.
WESLEY, REVEREND JOHN.
On many occasions the claim has been made that John Wesley, born June 17, 1703, died March 2, 1791, founder of Methodism, was a member of a Lodge at Downpatrick, Ireland. These assertions were carefully examined by Brother W. J. Chetwode Crawley in volume xv, 1902, Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, and his opinion is as follows: "Reviewing the circumstances of the supposed initiation of the Reverend John Wesley in the Lodge at Downpatrick, we are driven to the eonclusiou that the idea is altogether illusory, and based on a palpable confusion of identity.
Equally convincing is the truth that the veritable John Wesley had not been admitted to the Craft at any time previous to his visit to Ballymena, in June, 1773, and that, up to the seventieth year of his age, he entertained but a dubious opinion of Freemasonry and its secrets. This last consideration compels us to the further inference that he did not join the Craft at any subsequent period of his life. Otherwise, the surprising change of opinion involved would not fail to have been chronicled in his copious Wand accurate journals and diaries" (see also Wesley's Journal, authorized edition, volume in, page 500).
At one time the most distinguished organist of England, and called by Mendelssohn "the father of English organ-playing." He was initiated as a Freemason on December 17, 1788, and in 1812, the office of Grand ()rganist of the Grand Lodge of England being in that year first instituted, he received the appointment from the Grand Master, the Duke of Sussex, and held it until 1818. He composed the anthem performed at the union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, and was a composer of many songs, glees, etc., for the use of the Craft. He was the son of the Rev. Charles Wesley, and nephew of the celebrated John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. Born February 24, 1766, at Bristol, England, and died October 11, 1837. He was well entitled to the epithet of the Great Musician of Freemasonry. Brother W. J. Chetwode Crawley (Transactions, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, page 107, volume xv, 1902), writes of hirn thus:
Samuel Wesley was the second son of the Reverend Charles Wesley, a former Captain of Westminster School, who after declining Garrett Wesley's heritage had blossomed into the most melodious hymn writer that has ever graced the Christian Chureh. He was born in 176d, so that he was twenty-two years of age when initiated on December 17, 1788, in the famous Lodge of Integrity, then No. 1 on the Register of the Grand Lodge of the Moderns. It is beside our purpose to speak of his marvellous musical abilities, further than to relate that he placed them unreservedly at the service of the Craft.
He was appointed Grand Organist on May 13 1812, being the first to hold that office. In truth, the post appears to have been created for him, in recognition of his professional services to Grand Lodge, for Brother Henry Sadler has found reason to believe that he presided over the musical ceremonies of Grand Lodge before 1812. He was in his place as Grand Organist at the Grand Assembly which ratified the Articles of Union, December 1, 1813 and at the inaugural Communication of the United Grand Lodge which was happily established by these Articles. He was appointed annually until 1818 when he was succeeded by a Brother of equal musical reknown, Sir George Smart. Wesley's withdrawal from the office was caused by a colapse into acute mental depression, from which he had Suffered at intervals and from which he only recovered temporarily. Samuel Wesley's morbid fits of depression were the result of an injury to the head received in early life by an accidental fall.
He died in 1837, after prolonged retirement from public life. Brother Samuel Wesley earned the thanks of three great institutions which do not often concur in returning thanks. In 1813, he composed and conducted a Grand Anthem for Freemasons in honor of the Union of the Grand Lodges of England, and received the enthusiastic commendations of his Brethren. A few years later he composed a Grand Mass for the Chapel of Pope Pius VI, and received an official Latin letter of thanks from the Supreme Pontiff. As a sort of eounter-balanee, he composed for the Chureh of England, a complete set of Matins and Evensong which at once took rank among our most esteemed Cathedral Services.
WEST INDIES, THE.
- VIRGINIA. MACKEY
Although the West, as one of the four Cardinal Points, holds an honorable position as the station of the Senior Warden, and of the pillar of Strength that supports the Lodge, yet, being the place of the sun's setting and opposed to the East, the recognized place of light, it, in Masonic symbolism, represents the place of darkness and ignorance.
The old tradition, that in primeval times all human wisdom was confined to the eastern part of the world, and that those who had wandered toward the West were obliged to return to the East in search of the knowledge of their ancestors, is not confined to Freemasonry.
Creuzer (Symbolik) speaks of an ancient and highly instructed Body of Priests in the East, from whom all knowledge, under the veil of symbols, was communicated to the Greeks and other unenlightened nations of the West.
And in the Legend of the Craft, contained in the old Masonic Constitutions, there is always a reference to the emigration of the Freemasons from Egypt eastward to the "land of behest," or Jerusalem. Hence, in the modern symbolism of Speculative Freemasonry, it is said that the Freemason during his advancement is Traveling from the West to the East in search of light.
A state of the Commonwealth of Australia. Saint John Lodge, No. 712, was established at Perth in 1842. In all eight Hodges were formed of which only one became extinct. They reported direct to the Grand Lodge of England, with the exception of one other Lodge opened by the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1896. A Grand Lodge of Western Australia was organized and has since had a very successful career.
WESTCOTT, WILLIAM WYNN.
Born on December 17, 1848, he was an orphan at ten years of age, trained by a bachelor uncle, a surgeon. He obtained the diplomas of the College of Surgeons and of the Society of Apothecaries at twenty-one. Initiated in 1871, his Masonic career was diligent and distinguished, becoming Worshipful Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge in 1893 and author of many valuable contributions. Doctor Westcott was in 1883 elected Secretary General of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia and in 1889 founded the Library of the High Council at London. Elected Supreme Magus in 1892, he occupied the position for thirtythree years, dying at Durban, Natal, on July 30, 1925.
WESTMINSTER AND KEYSTON
The name of the third of the three oldest warranted Lodges in England, having been chartered in 1722. The first is Friendship, No. 6, and the second the British, No. 8. Those assembling unthouX Warrants are only two and are numbered two and four, Antiquity and the Royal Somerset House and Inverness.
WESTPHALIA, SECRET TRIBUNALS OF.
The Vehmgerichte, or Fehmgerichte, were secret criminal Courts of Westphalia in the Middle Ages. The origin of this institution, like that of Freemasonry has been involved in uncertainty. The true meaning of the name even is doubtful. Vaem is said by Dreyer to signify holy in the old Northern languages; and, if this be true, a Fehmgericht would mean a Holy Court. But it has also been suggested that the word comes from the Latin Mama, or rumor, and that a Fehm gericht was so called because it proceeded to the trial of persons whose only accuser was common rumor, the maxim of the German law, "no accuser, no judge," being in such a case departed from. They were also called Tribunals of Westphalia, because their Jurisdiction and existence were confined to that country.
The Medieval Westphalia was situated within the limits of the country bounded on the West by the Rhine, on the East by the Weser, on the North by Friesland, and on the South by Wester vald. Render (Tour through Germany, page 186), says that the tribunals were only to be found in the Duchies of Gueldres, Cleves, and Westphalia, in the principal cities of Corvey and Minden, in the Landgravate of a Hesse, in the Counties of Bentheim, Limburg, Lippe, Mark, Ravensberg, Rechlinghausen, Rietzberg, Sayn, Waldeck, and Steinfort, in some Baronies, as Gehmen, Neustadt, and Rheda, and in the free imperial city of Dortmund; but these were all included within the limits of Medieval Westphalia. It has been supposed that the first secret Tribunals were established by the Emperor Charlemagne on the conquest of Saxony. In 803 the Saxons obtained, among other privileges, that of retaining their national laws, and administering them under imperial judges who had been created Counts of the Empire.
Their Courts, it is said, were held three times a year in an open field, and their sessions were held in public on ordinary occasions; but in all cases of religious offense, such as apostasy, heresy, or sacrilege, although the trial began in a public session, it always ended in a secret tribunal.
It has been supposed by some writers that these Courts of the Counts of the Empire instituted by Charlemagne gave origin to the secret tribunal of Westphalia, which were held in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. There is no external evidence of the truth of this hypothesis. It was, however, the current opinion of the time, and all the earlier traditions and documents of the courts themselves trace their origin to Charlemagne.
Paul Wigand, the German jurist and historian, who wrote a history of their Tribunals (Fehmge7icht Westfdlens, Hamburg, 1826), contends for the truth.of these traditions; and Sir Francis Palgrave, in his Rise and Progress of the English Commonwealth, says unhesitatingly, that "the Vehmic Tribunals can only be considered as the original jurisdictions of the old Saxons which survived the subjugation of their country."
The silence on this subject in the laws and capitularies of Charlemagne has been explained on the ground that these Tribunals were not established authoritatively by that monarch, but only permitted by a tacit sanction to exist. The author of the article on the Secret Societies of the Middle Ages, published in the Lybrary of Erder klining Knowledge, who had written somewhat exhaustively on this subject, says that the first writers who have mentioned these Tribunals are Henry of Hervorden in the fourteenth, and Aeneas Sylvius in the fifteenth century; both of whom, however, trace them to the time of Charlemagne; but Jacob (Recherches Historiques sur les Croisades et les Templiers, page 132), cites a Diploma of Count Engelbert de la Mark, of the date of 1267, in which there is an evident allusion to some of their usages. Render says that they are first generally known in the year 1220. But their absolute historical existence is confined to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
The secret Westphalian Tribunals were apparently created for the purpose of preserving public morals, of punishing crime, and of protecting the poor and weak from the oppressions of the rich and powerful. They were outside of the regular Courts of the country, and in this respect may be compared to the modern Vigilance Committees sometimes instituted in the United States for the protection of the well-disposed citizens in newly settled territories from the annoyance of lawless men. But the German Tribunals differed from the American Committees in this, that they were recognized by the Emperors, and that their decisions and executions partook of a judicial character.
The Vehmic Tribunals, as they are also called, were governed by a minute system of regulations, the strict observance of which preserved their power and influence for at least two centuries.
At the head of the institution was the Emperor, for in Germany he was recognized as the source of law. His connection with the association was either direct or indirect. If he had been initiated into it, as was usually the case, then his connection was direct and immediate. If, however, he was not an initiate, then his powers were delegated to a lieutenant who was a member of the Tribunal.
Next to the Emperor came the Free Counts. Free Counties were certain districts comprehending several parishes, where the judges and counselors of the secret band exercised jurisdiction in conformity with the Statutes. The Free Count, who was called Stuhlherr, or tribunal lord, presided over this free County and the Tribunal held within it. He had also the prerogative of erecting other Tribunals within his territorial limits, and if he did not preside in person, he appointed a Freigraf, or free judge, to supply his place. No one could be invested with the dignity of a Free Judge unless he were a Westphalian by birth, born in lawful wedlock of honest parents; of good repute, charged with no crime, and well qualified to preside over the County. They derived their name of Free Judges from the fact that the Tribunals exercised their jurisdiction over only free men, serfs being left to the control of their own lords.
Next in rank to the Free Judges were the Schöppen, as Assessors or Counselors. They formed the main body of the Association, and were nominated by the Free Judge, with the consent of the Stuhlherr, and vouched for by two members of the Tribunal. A Schöppe was required to be a Christian, a Westphalian of honest birth, neither excommunicated nor outlawed, nor involved in any suit before the Fehmgericht and not a member of any monastic or ecclesiastical Order. There were two classes of these Assessors or Schöppen: a lower class or grade, called the Ignorant, who had not been initiated, and were consequently not permitted to be present at the secret session; and a higher grade, called the Knowing who were subjected to a form of initiation.
The ceremonies of initiation of a Free Judge were very solemn and symbolic. The candidate appeared bareheaded before the Tribunal, and answered certain questions respecting his qualifications. Then, kneeling with the thumb and forefinger of the right hand on a naked sword and halter, he pronounced the following oath:
I swear by the Holy Trinity that I will, from heneeforth, aid, keep, and conceal the holy Fehrns from wife and child, from father and mother, from sister and brother, from fire and wind, from all that the sun shines on and the rain covers, from all that is between sky and earth, especially from the man who knows the law; and will bring before this Free Tribunal, under which I am sitting, all that belongs to the secret Jurisdietion of the Emperor, whether I know it to be true myself or have heard it from trustworthy men, whatever requires correction or punishment, whatever is committed within the Jurisdietion of the Fehm, that it may be judged, or, with the consent of the aeeuser, be put off in grace; and will not cease so to do for love or for fear, for gold or for silver, or for precious stones; and will strengthen this Tribunal and Jurisdietion with all my five senses and power; and that I do not take on me this office for any other cause than for the sake of right and justice. Moreover, that I will ever advance and honor this Free Tribunal more than any other free tribunals, and what I thus promise will I steadfastly and firmly keep; so help me God and his Holy Gospel.
He further swore in an additional oath that he would, to the best of his ability, enlarge the Holy Empire, and with unrighteous hand would undertake nothing against the land and people of the Stuhlherr, or the Lord of the Trtbunal. His name was tnen inserted in the Book of Gold. The secrets of the Tribunal were then communicated to the candidate, and with them the modes of recognition by which he could be enabled to discover his fellow-members. The sign is described as having been made by placing, when at table, the point of their knife pointing to themselves, and the haft away from them.
This was also accompanied by the words Stock Stein, Graas Grein, the exact ritualistic meaning of which phrase is unknown. The duties of the initiated were to act as Assessors or Judges at the meetings of the Courts, to constitute which at least seven were required to be present; and also to go through the country, serve citations upon the accused, and to execute the sentences of the Tribunals upon criminals, as well as to trace out and denounce all evil-doers.
The punishment of an initiate who had betrayed any of the secrets of the Society was severe. His tongue was torn out by the roots, and he was then hung on a tree seven feet higher than any other felon. The ceremonies practiced when a Fehm Court was held were very symbolic in their character. Before the Free Count stood a table, on which were placed a naked sword and a cord of withes. The sword, which was cross-handled, is explained in their ritual as signifying the Cross on which Christ suffered for our sins, and the cord the punishment of the wicked. All had their heads uncovered, to signify that they would proceed openly and fairly, punish in proportion to guilt, and cover no right with a wrong.
Their hands also were uncovered, to show that they would do nothing covertly and underhand; and they wore cloaks, to signify their warm love for justice for, as the cloak covers all the other garments and the body, so should their love cover justice.
Lastly, they were to wear neither armor nor weapons, that no one might feel fear, and to indicate that they were under the peace of the Empire. They were charged to be cool and sober, lest passion or intoxication should lead them to pass an unjust judgment. Writers of romance have clothed these Tribunals with additional mystery.
But the stories that they were held at night, and in subterranean places, have no foundation save in the imagination of those who have invented them. they were held, like other German Courts, at break of day and in the open air, generally beneath a tree in the forest, or elsewhere. The Public Tribunals were, of course, open to all. It was the secret ones only that were held in private. But the time and place were made known to the accused in the notification left at his residence, or, if that were unknown, as in the case of a vagabond, at a place where four roads met, being affixed to the ground or to a tree, and the knowledge might be easily communicated by him to his friends.
The Chapter-General met once a year, generally at Dortmund or Arensburg, but always at some place in Westphalia. It consisted of the Tribunal Lords and Free Counts, who were convoked by the Emperor or his lieutenant. If the Emperor was an initiate, he might preside in person; if he was not, he was represented by his lieutenant. At these Chapters the proceedings of the various Fehm Courts were reviewed, and hence these latter made a return of the names of the persons initiated, the suits they had commenced, the sentences they had passed, and the punishments they had inflicted..
The Chapter-General acted also as a Court of Appeals. In fact, the relation of a Chapter-General to the Fehm Courts was precisely the same as that of a Grand Lodge of Freemasons to its subordinates. The resemblance, too, in the symbolic character of the two institutions was striking. But here the resemblance ended, for it has never been contended that there was or could be any connection whatever between the two institutions.
But the coincidences show that peculiar spirit and love of mystery which prevailed in those times, and the influence of which was felt in Freemasonry as well as in the Westphalian Tribunals, and all the other secret societies of the Middle Ages.
The crimes over which the Fehmgericht claimed a jurisdiction were, according to the Statutes passed at Arensburg in 1490, of two kinds: those cognizant by the Secret Tribunal, and those cognizant by the Public Tribunal. The crimes cognizant by the Secret Tribunal were, violations of the secrets of Charlemagne and of the Fehmgericht, heresy, apostasy, perjury, and witheraft or magic. Those cognizant by the Public Tribunal were sacrilege, theft, rape, robbery of women in childbirth, treason, highway robbery, murder or manslaughter, and vagrancy. Sometimes the catalogue of crimes was modified and often enlarged. There was one period when all the crimes mentioned in the decalog were included; and indeed there was no positive restriction of the Jurisdiction of the Tribunals, which generally were governed in their proceedings by what they deemed expedient for the public peace and safety.
In the early history of the institution, its trials were conducted with impartiality, and its judgments rendered in accordance with justice, being constantly restrained by mercy, so that they were considered by the populace as being of great advantage in those times ef lawlessness. But at length the institution became corrupt, and often aided, instead of checking, oppression, a change which finally led to its decay.
When anyone was accused, he was summoned to appear before the Tribunal at a certain specified time and place. If he was an initiate, the summons was repeated three times; but if not, that is, if any other than an inhabitant of Westphalia, the summons was given only once. If he appeared, an opportunity was afforded him of defense. An initiate could purge himself by a simple oath of denial, but any other person was required to adduce sufficient testimony of his innocence. If the accused did not appear, nor render a satisfactory excuse for his absence, the Court proceeded to declare him outlawed, and a Free Judge was delegated to put him to death wherever found.
Where three Free Judges found anyone flagrante delicto, or in the very act of committing a crime, or having just perpetrated it, they were authorized to put him to death without the formality of a trial. But if he succeeded in making his escape before the penalty was inflicted, he could not on a subsequent arrest be put to death.
His case must then be brought for trial before a Tribunal.
The sentence of the Court, if capital, was not announced to the criminal, and he learned it only when, in some secret place, the executioners of the decree of the Fehmgericht met him and placed the halter around his neck and suspended him to a neighboring tree. The punishment of death was always by hanging, and from a tree. The fact that a dead body was thus found in the forest, was an intimation to those who found it that the person had died by the judgment of the Secret Tribunal.
It is very evident that an institution like this could be justified, or even tolerated, only in a country and at a time when the power and vices of the nobles, and the general disorganization of society, had rendered the law itself powerless; and when in the hands of persons of irreproachable character, the weak could only thus be protected from the oppressions of the strong, the virtuous from the aggression of the vicious.
It was in its commencement a safeguard for society; and hence it became so popular that its initiates numbered at one time over one hundred thousand, and men of rank and influence sought with avidity admission into its circle:
In time the institution became demoralized. Purity of character was no longer insisted on as a qualification for admission. Its decrees and judgments were no longer marked with unfaltering justice, and, instead of defending the weak any longer from the oppressor, it often became itself the willing instrument of oppression. Efforts were made from time to time to inaugurate reforms, but the prevailing spirit of the age, now beginning to be greatly improved by an introduction of the Roman law and the spread of the Protestant religion, was opposed to the self-constituted authority of the Tribunals.
They began to dissolve almost insensibly, and after the close of the sixteenth century we hear no more of them, although there never was any positive decree of dissolution enacted or promulgated by the State. They were destroyed, not by any edict of law, but by the progressive spirit of the people.
WEST INDIES, THE.
When George III was confronted by the possibility of rebellion in his Thirteen American Colonies he was for a long time undecided whether to let those Colonies go by default in order to maintain hold on his West Indian islands, or to let the islands go in order to keep hold of the Colonies; he and Lord Bute believed that they could not hold both. George was personally in favor of holding the islands because he received a larger revenue from them, and like many other Englishmen considered them a more valuable possession than the Colonies. We find it impossible now to understand that point of view, because in histories of the United States the West Indies are almost wholly ignored, which is strange because they were in 1775 a Golconda for Europe, and in them the three great Powers, Britain, France, and Spain, had an American base in which each grew rich and from which each expected to launch out in campaigns for seizing the whole continent. (So many Londoners came to the West Indies for a few years and then returned home that at one period the old Lodge of Antiquity was named West Indies Lodge, and had to incorporate in its by-laws a provision to limut the number of demissions from that.region.)
Historians of American Freemasonry also omit the West Indies from their panorama of origins and events, and with even less justification, because the West Indies played a larger role in the beginnings of the Craft in America than any other influence second only after Britain (including Ireland)—among other things we might never have had the Scottish Rite had it not been for them! In his Ancient Documents relating to the A. and A. Scottish Rites (Philadelphia; 1915; page 2) Bro. Julius F. Sachse writes:
" This intercourse with the French Brethren in St. Domingo increased to such an extent that after several Lodges had been erected under the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania a Provincial Grand Warrant was issued to govern the Lodges in the West India Islands. This was the only warrant of this kind ever issued by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania." It was through connection with these and other Lodges in the West Indies that 80 large a number of Freneh Masons visited Lodges in America or demitted to them, bringing their ideas of French Masonry with them oftentimes arnong which was the idea of an Adoptive Rite, of whied the Order of the Eastern Star is an echo. On the same page Bro. Sachse continues:
"Shortly after receiving his patent in Paris, Stephen Morin sailed for America and established a Lodge of Per fect and Sublime Masons at St. Domingo. It is from this body that our certificate [i.e., one in possession of the G. L. of Pennsylvania bearing Morints named emanates and through whom the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite was established in the Western world. " This certificatee was dated October 26, 1764. Morin's patent from the Council of the Emperors of the East and West at Paris was dated August 27, 1761. It empowered him to confer 25 Degrees in seven classes, beginning with Entered Apprentice and extending to Sovereign Prince of Masony.
(NOTE if the Degrees which the French described as "Scottish" be compared with Masonry as it was being practiced in Scotland at a corresponding period date by date, it will be seen how un-Scottish the "High Grades; were. The control, pressure, and influence of the ancient Operative craft Masonry lasted longer in Scotland than in either England or Ireland. The "Scottish" Degrees are French in their inception practices, titles spirit. Once it was translated to America which is the cradle of the A. & A. S. R. as ( now is, the Rite did not seek to exercise any control over the first three Degrees.)
Louisiana was another gate-way through which West Indies Masonry came into America. The first Lodge was founded by French refugees, mostly from Guadeloupe, who organized Parfaite Union, No. 29, under a South Carolina Charter in 1794.
In the same year another group of French refugees obtained a Charter from the Provincial Grand Lodge at Marseilles (the Grand Orient was temporarily suspended); it was dated in 1796; the Lodge was constituted as La Parfaite Sincerité in 1798. It was reconstituted as Polar Star Lodge by the Grand Orient in 1804, and worked the French Rite. A Lodge was Chartered by Pennsylvania in 1804. Refugees from Santo Domingo organized a Lodge in 1806. In 1807 Polar Star Lodge opened a chapter of Rose Croix. Refugees from C:uba opened a Lodge in 1805. Another, and a refugee Loge, was opened by the Freneh in 1809. (A detailed account is given by Bro. F. Gayle in Gould's History of Freernasonry; 1936; Vol. V; page 238.)
For almost a half century after 1775 the influence of West Indies Masonry (of American, French, British, or Scottish origin) made itself felt through personal visits and through the channels of trade along the east coast from Philadelphia south, and from New Orleans east in the Gulf of Mexico. ID the same period there was always a center of West Indies Masonry (mostly French) in Stew York City, and the fact helps to explain the rapid spread of Cerneauism. The Masonry of the islands also made itself felt among seamen, especially among sea captains, of whom 60 many were made Masons in both American and English port Lodges and who were so often on regular duty runs in the Caribbean. (For subsequent Masonic history of the Islands see Gould's History; 1936; [consult index]; and the Foreign Correspondence Reports in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York from 1920 to 1940.)
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