The Masonic Trowel

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AT the outer door, well-armed, he long hath stood,  
The faithful sentinel of mystic hours,  
None pass or repass, but the favored few -  
So truly hath he kept the outer gate.  
When winds have swept the skies in fearful gale,  
When Winter's cold congealed the nightly air,  
When Summer's heat poured down its burning rays -  
He still for duty cared, and held his trust  
Like one commissioned by the higher powers.  
His jurisdiction ne'er was intervened -  
So conscientious was he - that none should  
Pass the sacred threshold which he guarded  
With such Masonic care.  

We have met this good old Tyler - often met him - and often stopped at big outer gate to have a passing word. He is now gray in years, and his form is bent with the weakness of age. Long years ago he first saw the light of the Temple in a distant state. Then the craft was a small band in Israel, and the obscurity of the Order made it seem little and insignificant in the eyes of the world.  

To join the fraternity then was largely a venture in the dark compared with the present day, for the simplicity of its ancient prestige held the institution in modest reserve, while the crowds held themselves aloof from it, because it was far from being popular. The Churches even looked upon it with suspicions and jealousy as a semi- infidel association, and in most instances protested against their ministers and members joining it; and in many parts of the country it was no easy matter for outsiders to find out who were Masons, for there was then no display of jewelry such as we have in these days. Even the fact of being a Mason was ordinarily concealed from the world. It was none of their business. It never is any of their concern; and, therefore, as all know, it is not necessary to carry an emblem of any sort to convince any Master Mason that we are one. There used to be, and there is yet, a sort of private way forgiving this information, which, after all, is much to be preferred to any other,  

This much of Masonry the old Tyler could teach us, as he had had long years of experience, and though most of the time he was outside of the Lodge-room, he had by critical attention, gathered more knowledge of the history of the Lodge, and of the character and standing of the members, than perhaps any other officer in it. Many a long yarn has he told us while we smoked our cigar at his stove.  

"Brother Tyler," we asked him, one night, "did you ever have any one come up here who was not a Mason, who wanted admission to the Lodge-room."  

"Why, yes," said he with a laugh, "I once had a woman to knock at the door, and I opened it, and asked her to walk in and take a seat, which she did, for she knew me as I had once done some painting for her."  

"Mr. Tyler," said she, "I'm in hunt of my husband, and he told me he was coming to the Lodge to-night, but to tell you the truth, I am very much afraid he has gone somewhere else."  

"Your husband, madam," said I, "is sitting in the Lodge-room; he is our Senior Warden."  

"Was he here last Saturday night ?" she asked.  

"He was," I responded.  

"Was he here two weeks before that?" she enquired.  

"Yes, Madam, he was," I said.  

"Well, I guess I'm a fool," she said, with rather a serious laugh.  

"Why, what's the matter, Madam?" I asked.  

"Why, to tell you the truth," she answered, "I've been jealous of my husband, and I didn't believe he was attending the Lodge. I thought he was going somewhere else."  

"He never misses a Lodge-meeting, Madam," I replied.  

"Will you let me look into that room ?" she asked.

"Why, Madam," said I, "I could not, without the permission of the Worshipful Master."  

"Ask him," said she, "for I feel that my happiness depends on seeing in that room."  

Knowing they were about to close, I rapped at the door and informed the Junior that Mrs. ____ was in the outer-court and wished to took in that room. The door was closed, and the Lodge in due form adjourned; when I was informed that I could conduct Mrs. ____ into the room and introduce her to each one of the leading officers of the Lodge. I understood the joke at once, and I said to her, "Madam, I have been Tyler of this Lodge for many years, and I believe I have never seen a woman in that room when the Lodge was in session, but the Worshipful Master, on this occasion, in view of your high character and the fact that your husband is the Senior Warden of this Lodge, has given me permission to conduct you to the sanctum sanctorum and to introduce you to each one of our principal officers. Are you willing to proceed?" I asked her.  

"I am," said she, with a great deal of firmness.  

I then offered her my arm, which she took, and I rapped at the door, which was opened. I saw all the officers were in their places; minus their aprons and jewels, and I led her first to the sacred altar, and I said to her, "here is where we say our prayers, Madam, and that Holy Bible contains every moral principle of Masonry." I then led her to the East and introduced her to the Worshipful Master; then I led her to the Junior Warden and introduced her as the wife of our Senior Warden, after which I led her to the West, where I said: "This gentlemen, Madam, you know; he is our Senior Warden, and we esteem him as one of the very best members of this Lodge. We claim him as our brother, but you claim him by a still higher and stronger tie, and therefore I cheerfully surrender you into his hands." The Senior Warden took her by the hand kindly and affectionately, and kissed her before us all. The whole Lodge then came up and shook hands with the good lady, and I reckon, Sir, you never saw a much better pleased woman than she was. She never gave her husband any more trouble on Masonry. Masonic Advocate.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014