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The Adventures of Timothy Peacock, Esquire; or, Freemasonry Practically Illustrated
Daniel P. Thompson
"Romans, countrymen and lovers!" —Brutus.
Vexed, cross, discomfitted and sullen, our hero arrived at the tavern he had left in the morning with such high hopes, nay, with such certainty of success in the application, the fate of which is recorded in the last chapter.
Think not, reader, that I am admitting any thing derogatory to the talents of my hero by describing his failure, or rather want of success, in his attempt to get employed by a paltry school committee. By no means. Who is to say that it was not a fit of sheer caprice in these conceited wights of village greatness, that led to his rejection? Again, as "it requires wit to find out wit," who shall decide that it was not their ignorance instead of his that produced that hapless result? But, admit that it was not,—admit that they were right in considering Timothy not well calculated for the business of instruction, does it follow that this must necessarily go in disparagement of his abilities— of his genius—of his heroic qualities? Why, Marlborough, whose military achievements constitute so bright an era in England's glory—even the great Marlborough, could never have made a school-master. And Newton,—think you Newton could have ever become a Garrick in theatrics— a Sheridan in eloquence, or a Burns in poesy? Greatness does not consist in being great or excellent in every thing, nor does talent, to be of the highest order, require that its possessor should excel in all he may happen to undertake. The farmer, the mechanic, or even the horse-jockey, who displays uncommon dexterity or superior management in the business of his occupation, may be said to be a man of talents.
Having now disposed of this point to my own satisfaction, and to yours also, I presume, gentle reader, I will proceed with my narrative.
No sooner had Timothy entered the bar-room of the inn above mentioned, than he was hailed by the landlord, who was called Captain Joslin. "Well, friend," said he, "what luck? Have you got the place, and come back to practice at the school-master's walk, &c. awhile before you appear among your scholars?" Timothy at first felt a little disinclined to relate the result of his journey to the village, but finding his host kindly anxious to know what had befallen him to cause such dejection in his looks, he at length frankly related the whole proceeding, attributing his failure to a cause which few, I think, who rightly appreciate his capacities, will doubt to be the true one, viz: the inability of the committee to comprehend the depth and bearing of his answers and observations, adding that he had become so perfectly disgusted with school committee-men that he doubted whether he could ever again bring his mind to make another application of the kind. "Ah," said the Captain, "I was rather fearful when you went from here that you would not be able to do much with the big-bugs there in the village; besides, people are mighty particular in these parts about their school-masters: It an't here as it is in Massachusetts and York State. Why, they turned off our master last winter only because my boy, Jock, who was fourteen last sugarin'-time, treed him in a sum in Double Position—though to be sure we don't often get taken in so.—But as to yourself, what do you propose to drive at now for a living?"
This question brought matters to the point on which Timothy had determined to consult the landlord: He therefore candidly told his host his exact situation, and asked his advice on the subject.
"I thought likely," observed the landlord, "that this might be the case with you; and I have been thinking, friend, as you appear to be a kind of honest, free-spoken fellow, besides being stout and able-bodied for business, that you are about such a chap as I should like myself to employ a few months—say till after next harvesting. I have a farm and keep a team, as you see. Now what say you to hiring out to me for about ten dollars a month or so, to work mostly on the farm, but tend bar when I am absent, or at other times, perhaps, when business is not very pressing?"
This kind proposal, although not quite a fair equivalent for a salaried professorship, or the gubernatorial chair of Vermont, came nevertheless at this dark hour of his prospects, as the sun of light and comfort to the soul of our hero; and with that facility, with which great minds always conform to circumstances, he cheerfully acceded to the proposition of Captain Joslin. All the articles of the compact were then discussed and ratified on the spot; and both parties appeared well satisfied with the bargain. It is unnecessary, perhaps, to detail the events of the few first days in which Timothy was introduced into the business of his employer; suffice it to say, that after becoming an inmate in the Captain's family, he soon began to feel cheerful and contented, and such was his alacrity in business, and his sprightliness and buoyancy in companionship, that he shortly became a favorite, not only in his employer's family, but in all the immediate neighborhood. But capacities like his could not long remain concealed by the obscurity of such employment. In this situation he had lived about a month, when one day he received an invitation to go to the raising of a large barn frame in an adjoining town. He accordingly attended the raising; and during the performance, often attracted the attention of the company by his activity in handling the light timbers, as well as by the free good will with which he put his shoulder to the broad-side. After the raising of the building was completed, and the bottle had several times circulated, the company broke from the drinking circle, and gathering into small clubs about in different places, commenced telling stories, singing songs, cracking jokes, and discussing various subjects according to the age and tastes of the parties. Our hero happening to be passing one of these little collections, heard them discussing the subject of Freemasonry— some ridiculing it as a "great big nothing," as they were pleased to term it—others denouncing it as a dangerous institution, and yet others defending it. This was enough to arrest his attention, and arouse his feelings; for he was born, it may be said, with an innate sympathy for that noble institution; and he immediately pushed his way into the circle, and so earnestly took up the cudgels in defence of the slandered order, that he soon triumphantly vanquished his opponents, and was left master of the field. Having, by this time, drawn a considerable crowd about him, and being still full of the subject on which he had now become thoroughly excited, his natural inclination for spouting came upon him too strong to be resisted; and mounting a bunch of new shingles that lay near him, he elevated his fine form, and after pitching his voice by the usual h-e-ms and h-a-ms, thus addressed the listening crowd around him:
"Friends, Countrymen, and Fellow Barn-Raisers:
"In all my longitudinal meanderings from the town of Mugwump, the place of my native developement, to the territorial summits of the Green-Mountain wilderness, I have never heard such scandalous exasperations and calumniated opinions protruded against the magnificent marvelosity of Masonry. Having been instilled from the earliest days of my juvenile infancy to look upon that celestial transportation of Masonry with th
e most copious veneration, is it any wonderful emergency that I am filled with the most excruciating indignation in hearing these traducities against an institution of such amphibious principles and concocted antiquity? And here I exalt my prophecy that unless you expunge such disgusting sentimentalities, and put down such illiterate falsifications, they will hetrodox the whole popular expansion, till they entirely stop the velocity of civilization: For there is no other preparative that can exalt a people from their heathenish perplexities, and confer rank and distinguishment like the luminous invention of Freemasonry. Then again, behold its useful commodity! Look at that compendious barn-frame! Was it not conglemerated by the square and compass? and are not these emblements extracted from the intelligence of Masonry? Let me then concentrate my propensities to warn you to lay aside your reprobate infringements, lest you, and all your cotemporary posterity, be deprived of the civilized embellishments and incomprehensible advantages of that superfluous fraternity."
He ceased, and his speech was followed with bursts of applauding laughter by many, by exclamations of admiration by some, and by expressions of wonder and surprise by all. It will be said, perhaps, by those astute antimasonic carpers, who, in these degenerate days, scruple not to condemn the choicest specimens of masonic composition because they are often wholly incapable of comprehending them,—it will be said, perhaps, by such, that this impassioned little burst of eloquence is not original in my hero; that it is borrowed from some masonic orator. This I wholly deny; but while I claim entire originality for this impromptu effort, I am free to confess the resemblance which might lead to such a conclusion; and, indeed, not a little proud should our hero feel of a performance which, by its similarity of style, diction, and lucid and conclusive manner of argumentation, is liable to be mistaken for one of those monuments of extraordinary eloquence that, in the shape of twenty-fourth of June orations, have thrown such a halo of light and glory around the mystic temple.
But the temporary applause which Timothy received on this occasion, was of little consequence compared with the subsequent honors of which this little performance seemed to be the moving cause. Scarcely had he descended from his rustic rostrum when he was eagerly seized by the hand by a person who heartily congratulated him on his speech. Timothy having before seen the man, whose name was Jenks, at Joslin's, and become somewhat acquainted, soon fell into a low, confidential sort of conversation with him on the subject of the speech, when the latter observed, that from a certain circumstance (not returning the grip probably) he concluded that Timothy was not a Mason; and, on being told that such was the case, enquired why he did not join the lodge, at the same time adding that he had never before met with a person who, he thought, would make a brighter Mason. Timothy then asked Jenks if he should advise any one to join. "Why," replied the latter, "we never advise any body to join us; but I can tell you that you little dream of what you will lose if you don't." To this Timothy replied that he had long been determined on becoming a Mason as soon as his circumstances would admit, but at present he had no money to spare for the purpose, besides he had certain objections to appearing in the village where he supposed he should have to go if he joined at this time. Jenks however removed all these objections by informing Timothy that they had a lodge in that town, and that a note would answer as well as money for the initiation fee. On hearing this, our hero at once accepted the offer that the other now made, to propose him at the next lodge meeting, which was that very night. Jenks then went and procured pen, ink and paper, and writing a note of the required sum, and an application in due form, brought them to Timothy to sign, at the same time explaining the necessity of this measure. These being signed, it was arranged that Timothy should come in just four weeks, and calling on Jenks at his residence, they should both proceed together to the place at which the proposed initiation was to take place. When this interesting negociation was concluded, our hero proceeded homewards with a bosom swelling with pride and expectation. His step was lighter, his head was held higher, and a new impulse seemed to have been given to his whole energies; for he felt conscious that the coming occasion was to constitute a new era in his destinies.
How slowly to our hero the tedious days of the next month rolled away! It seemed to him that the eventful day that was to unfold to his view the mighty mysteries of Masonry, would never arrive. Long before the time came he had procured the sum requisite for his initiation, and being now fully prepared for that important event, he ardently longed to see the hour at hand. His whole soul became engrossed in the overwhelming subject by day, and by night it was the burden of his dreamy imaginings. Once, in particular, his dream became a vision of striking distinctness, and prophetic import. He saw a vast throne in the clouds, on each side of which extended a broad vapory parapet. A mighty King sat upon the throne, with a shining mitre, covered with mystic symbols, on his head, while an innumerable host of aproned worshippers stood around him ready to do his bidding. While our hero gazed on the splendid spectacle, a ladder was let down to his feet; and he mounted it step by step, till he reached the very seat of the Great Puissant, there enthroned in light and glory ineflable. When the King, taking the crown from his own head, placed it on the head of our hero and descended, exclaiming, "Hail, O Grand King! High and mighty art thou among our followers on earth! Let the faithful worship thee! So mote it be—So mote it be, forever amen, amen!" While the last word was canght up by the multitude of surrounding worshippers, till the long echoes, reverberating through the welkin in peals of vocal thunder, returned to the ears of our enthroned dreamer, and dispelled the magnificent vision from his enraptured senses.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014