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The Adventures of Timothy Peacock, Esquire; or, Freemasonry Practically Illustrated


Daniel P. Thompson

"Still louder, Fame! thy trumpet blow;
Let all the distant regions know
       Freemasonry is this:"—

Our hero, after the romantic meeting, and the attendant occurrences mentioned in the last chapter, sat down in good earnest to the study of Masonry. His whole soul became gradually enlisted in the subject, and his every leisure moment was devoted, with unremitting ardor, to treasuring up the mystic beauties of this celestial science. No longer troubled with those absurd scruples relative to the Sabbath, which he entertained before he became enlightened by the liberal principles of masonry, he now every Sunday rode over to the residence of his friend, Jenks, and spent the day with him in secret communion on that theme in which they in common delighted—the one in giving and the other in receiving instruction. These meetings were also enlivened by recounting over their late adventure in cub-catching, and amusing themselves in teaching the now docile trophy of that heroic achievement such various pranks and feats as they considered necessary to a genteel ursine education. His master, perceiving in him signs of his making a bear of uncommon talents, had honored him with the dignified name of Boaz—an appellation at first suggested by the title of the book under consideration at the time of his capture, and more especially by the strength of a powerful grip which he gave Jenks on his way homeward, which he likened to the masonic grip of that name. And besides conferring the honor of a masonic name, they taught him many accomplishments peculiar to the craft.—He would stand erect on his haunches—cross his throat with one paw, or cross his paws on his breast, after the fashion of the sign and due-guard of the first degree, as readily, when the same motions were made to him, as the most expert Entered Apprentice in Christendom.— Nor were his masonic attainments limited to one degree only: the due-guard & sign of the Fellow-Crafts, and the Master's sign of distress, were also familiar to him—the latter of which he was wont to make whenever he wanted an ear of green-corn, or an apple. In short, Boaz was fast becoming a bright Mason, and would doubtless soon have made a great adept in the mysteries of the craft, could he have taken the obligations, and have been made to understand the preference which is due to the brotherhood. In no other respects need he have been deficient; for none certainly could be better calculated by nature for many of the high and active duties of the order than he. In the execution of the penalties, he would have been justly eminent.— Jeremy L. Cross himself, would not have been able to rip open the left breast of a traitor, pluck out his heart, or tear open his bowels and scatter them on all sides to the four winds of heaven, with more masonic accuracy.

But to return to our hero: Such was his intense application to the task of perfecting himself in the study of Freemasonry, that before the next lodge-meeting he had committed to memory the whole of Jachin and Boaz, which, with the instructions received from Jenks, had made him master of the first degree, and given him considerable insight into the two next succeeding. Jenks became proud of his pupil, and began to prophecy bright things of his future usefulness and eminence among the order. His progress was indeed unrivalled, but no greater perhaps than might have been anticipated from one of his retentive memory, and from one whose mighty genius was so well calculated by nature to grasp the peculiar sublimities of the mystic science. The next lodge-meeting therefore found him fully prepared to meet his intended exaltation. He had taken up his wages at Joslin's to the present time, which furnished him with the means not only of paying the additional fees required for taking the two next degrees, but of getting a new coat and several other articles of dress that were required, as he conceived, by the dignity of the important station to which he was about to be exalted, and at the same time leaving a few dollars for the usual disbursements of the lodge-room. Thus every way prepared, he once more set out for the tavern where he had lately encountered the appalling scenes of his initiation. He did not, however, proceed at this time with the same urgent speed as when he passed over the road before; nor were his feelings raised to the same pitch of excitement. The first sight of the house, as he approached, to be sure caused a chill and shudder to run over him, as it brought fresh to mind the trials and terrors he had there passed through; but these sensations quickly vanished as he recollected the cheering light which there burst upon him at last in rereward for those fearful trials; and more especially as he cast his thoughts forward to the still brighter glories and honors before him.

He now entered the lodge-room, and not a little gratified and elated were his feelings at the warm and cordial greetings with which he was received by the assembled brotherhood. The lodge having been apprised of his wish to take the next degrees in order, he now retired, while they proceeded to the balloting; and all being again announced clear, they now immediately commenced the ceremonies of raising him to the degree of Fellow-Craft, or passing him, as it is technically termed. But as the ceremonies of taking this degree are, in many respects, similar to those which I have already described in the account given to Timothy's initiation, and besides being now performed on one who was in a measure prepared to meet them without surprise so as to produce no very remarkable effects on his mind, I shall pass lightly over this degree— mentioning only a few of the most prominent acquisitions in knowledge which our hero made in the interesting and beautiful lectures of the Fellow-Craft, which I deem of too much importance to be omitted. He here was taught that important fact in physiology that that there are five human senses, viz: hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling and tasting,—the three first of which are considered the most essential among Masons, though the last, I opine, is not considered to be altogether superfluous. He likewise was instructed into the learned intricacies of lettering and halving Jachin, and was greeted by that appellation of wisdom in reward for his triumph over the arduous difficulties of the task. And lastly, the uses of that beautiful moral emblem, the plumb, were illustrated to his understanding, and its monitory suggestions impressed on his heart: for that instrument, he was told, which operative masons use to raise perpendiculars, taught, or admonished free and accepted Masons to walk uprightly, or perpendicularly in their several stations before God and man. This last hieroglyphical maxim of moral duty which masonry, in her astute sagacity, has so naturally deduced from that instrument, forcibly reminded our hero of an epitaph which he had somewhere read:— "Here lies Jemmy Tickiler Who served God perpendicular." And although he never before could see the force of this epitaph, yet he now at once saw its beautiful application, and immediately knew that it must have originated from the genius of masonry. But as important and interesting as these discoveries were—as much as these, and the thousand other beauties of this instructive degree were calculated to expand the mind, and awaken the admiration of our hero, still they were nothing—comparatively nothing, to the treasures of knowledge which were opened to his wondering view in the next, or Master Mason's degree. The ceremonies of raising were, in the first place, peculiarly solemn and impressive: And connected as they are with an account of the death of the traitors, Jubelo, Jubela, Jubelum, and the murder of the Grand Master, Hiram Abiff, thus furnishing many historical facts, a knowledge of which can be obtained only through the medium of masonry, these ceremonies of themselves unfolded to his mind information of the utmost importance. The circumstance, too, that the body of Hiram had lain fourteen days without corruption, in the hot climate where the incident occurred, particularly excited his wonder, as the event could be attributed only to a miracle, thus furnishing proof to his mind that this institution, like the Christian religion, was founded in miracles. To this marvellous circumstance, which struck our hero so forcibly, another not less curious and wonderful, I think might be added—I mean the singular coincidence involved in the fact that three men, as above mentioned, should happen to come together—be of the same fraternity, and all traitors, whose names, all of one beginning, should so nearly furnish the grammatical declination of a Latin adjective! Nor need our admiration stop here; for when we consider that these men were all Hebrews, whose language is so dissimilar to that of the Latin, and that they lived in an age too when the Romans and their language were unknown at Jerusalem, our surprise is still more excited; and being unable, by the help of our own limited faculties, to comprehend these miraculous circumstances, we are compelled to stop short, and pause in wonder over the extraordinary events which are connected with the early history of this ancient institution. But however important the ceremonies of this august degree may be considered as establishing the divine origin of Freemasonry, and as throwing new light over some passages in the history of antiquity, they still yield in importance to the moral beauties, the lofty sentiment, and the scientific knowledge illustrated and enforced in the lectures. Here a grand fountain of wisdom is opened to the candidate; and it was here that our hero revelled in intellectual luxury.—It was here for the first time in his life that he became acquainted with that interesting philological fact that masonry and geometry are synonymous terms, a discovery to which the world is undoubtedly indebted to the light of masonry; for Crabbe, (a shame on him!) notwithstanding his learned industry in collecting the synonymes of our language, appears to be wholly ignorant of this curious fact. Here he learned, while receiving an account of the construction of Solomon's Temple, another fact in history entirely new to him, "that it never rained in the day-time during the seven years in which the temple was building,"—a fact which can be considered none other than a miracle; and, as the temple is known to have been the production of masonry solely, goes still further to prove that the institution is divine, and under the immediate protection of Heaven. Here too he learned the reason and justice of inflicting the penalties of the obligations on traitors, as illustrated in the example of the great and good Solomon, the acknowledged father of organized Freemasonry. But time, and the narrow limits of this brief work, will not allow me to proceed any farther in recounting the various scientific discoveries which our hero here made— the many moral maxims that were impressed on his heart, and the thousand instances of the sublime and beautiful that burst on his mind. Suffice it to say, that all were equally instructive, important and wonderful with those I have enumerated. But not only all these important acquisitions in knowledge did our hero make on this eventful evening, but he won the unanimous applause of his brethren by the becoming manner in which he bore himself through the whole ceremonies, and which more than atoned for his wayward obstinacy and awkwardness at his initiation, and, in the minds of all present, gave bright promise of his future masonic eminence:—while the hearty good humor with which he entered into the convivialities of the evening, in time of refreshment, began to render him the favorite of the lodge-room, and he was universally voted a bright Mason.

Being now clothed with his apron and the badges of a Master Mason, and greeted, as he continually was, with the dignified title of Worshipful, he began to feel the responsibilities of his station, and the importance with which his existence had become invested. He assumed a more manly step—a more lofty mien; and conscious worth and consequence gave the air of majesty to his whole demeanor.

Thus ended the important events of this evening, which constituted a bright era in the life of our hero, and implanted in his bosom a love for this noble institution which was never eradicated.

Nothing of any particular interest occurred to our hero till the next lodge-meeting, when the Senior Warden having left the town, he was almost unanimously elected to fill that important and honorable station. And a candidate having been presented for initiation, he found an opportunity to display his masonicac quirements, which he did with such brilliancy and promptitude as to draw forth repeated applause from his admiring brethren. An extra meeting of the lodge was, a few days after, holden, at which he rose still higher, and took the three next degrees, viz: Mark, Past, and Most Excellent Master, which carried him to the seventh round in the ladder of Masonry. Such was the unparalleled progress, and such the starting career of the man who was destined to become so proud a pillar in this glorious fabric.

About this time Joslin, Timothy's employer, sought an interview with him, and told him that a settlement would be agreeable. Timothy could see no necessity for such a measure; but Joslin, without heeding our hero's observations to this effect, opened his account-book, and began to figure up the amount due after deducting what had been received; and after he had ascertained the sum, he turned to Timothy and asked him if it was correct? "I presume it may be," replied Timothy, "but"—`But what?' said Joslin—`You have become a great man since I employed you, Mr. Peacock, and I cannot any longer see you stoop to labor which is so much beneath a person of your consequence: Here is your money." So saying, he threw down the few dollars now Timothy's due, and, whirling on his heel, left the house.

This was an unexpected affair; and Timothy scarcely knew what to make of it.—After musing however about half an hour, he came to the conclusion that Joslin wanted he should go: But what had he done to render his employer dissatisfied?—He could think of nothing. To be sure, when alone in the field, he had often marked out a lodge-room on the ground, and taking a stump, and supposing it a candidate, had lectured to it several hours at a time. He had sometimes yoked the off ox the nigh side, when his mind was deeply engrossed with this subject; and he had that morning turned the horse into the oat-field instead of the pasture. But what of these trifling errors? And were they not caused too by the intenseness of those studies which were infinitely more important than the insignificant drudgeries which had been saddled upon him by a man whose ignorance could never admit of his appreciating things of a higher character?

Our hero began to grow indignant as he thought over these things; and he determined he would have nothing more to do with Joslin, but leave his house that very day; and, in revenge for his narrow-minded views, and base conduct, forever deprive him and his family of those services and that society with which he had been too long benefited, and his house too much honored.

Our hero was a person of great decision of character; and what he resolved to do, he scarcely ever failed of carrying into immediate effect. Accordingly, in one hour from the time Joslin left him, as above mentioned, he had packed his bundle and was making tracks towards the residence of his friend, Jenks, for consultation and advice, and perhaps a temporary home, not knowing where else to go in this unexpected emergency.

Having arrived at the house of Jenks, and informed him of what had happened at Joslin's, and that he had left that gentleman's employ forever, the two friends walked out into a field, and spent the remainder of the day in deep and confidential consultation. Many plans for our hero's future course were suggested and discussed, and as many, on weighing them, rejected. But a project was at length hit upon by Jenks, which was finally adopted.—This was an excursion to the city of New-York to see what could be made out of Boaz by exhibiting him as a show, or selling him to some caravan. In this enterprise they both were to embark and become joint partners in all profits or losses that might arise out of the adventure. Jenks owned a stout horse and waggon, half of which Timothy was to purchase, paying down what he could spare, and giving a note for the rest; while Boaz, being a kind of joint trophy, was generously thrown into the company by Jenks, notwithstanding his greater claims to the animal, without any charge to Timothy whatever. Jenks was a notable schemer.— He having but a small farm, which did not require all his time to manage it, had generally, for the last several years, taken two or three trips a year in pedling goods for a neighboring merchant; and he was now calculating to take one of these pedling voyages as soon as he had finished his harvesting.—But as soon as he thought of the above mentioned plan, he concluded to forego his ordinary fall pedling trip, and engage in this, where he believed there would be a chance of greater gain, though he knew there would be considerable hazard: and for this reason he rather undertake the enterprise with some one who would run the risk of loss with him, and believing that Timothy's personal appearance and gifts of speech might make him highly serviceable to the company, he now entered heartily into this scheme, ostensibly for the benefit of our hero— privately for his own.

The next day the bargain was matured in all its parts, and all the necessary writings drawn. Timothy gave Jenks twelve dollars for half of the waggon, and twenty-five for an equal share of the horse—the latter, though an excellent stout horse, was lacking of an eye, and for that reason had been named Cyclops by the late school-master of the district, who being a Freshman at Burlington University, when he taught the school the winter before, had drawn this name from the vast depths of his classic lore, and bestowed it on the old horse in reward for his good service in carrying him and his girl ten miles to a quilting.

The time for starting was now fixed by our two friends at just one fortnight ahead; and for the interim Timothy agreed to work for Jenks to enable him to complete his harvesting, and be ready at the time.

While making these preparations for the intended journey, the regular monthly meeting of the lodge came round, when Jenks told Timothy that there was one degree in Masonry to which he was now entitled, and which might prove of great advantage to him on their contemplated journey; and he would advise our hero to take it—it was called the Secret Monitor, or Trading Degree.—He, himself, had found it of great service. Accordingly, at the lodge-meeting, after the lodge was closed, this degree was privately conferred upon Timothy, the obligation of which, as it discloses the principles and eminent advantages of this invaluable step in masonry, I must beg leave to insert at length. It is as follows:

"I, A. B., of my own free will and accord, in presence of Almighty God, do hereby and hereon, most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, that I will keep and conceal all the secrets belonging to the Secret Monitor; that I will not communicate this to any one except it be to a true and lawful brother, Master Mason or Masons, whom I shall have reason to believe will conform to the same. I further promise that I will caution a brother Secret Monitor by word, token or sign, when I shall see him do, or about to do, or say anything contrary to the true principles of Masonry. I further promise that I will caution a brother Secret Monitor by word, token or sign, when I shall see him do, or about to do, or say anything contrary to his own interest, either in buying or selling, or any other way. I further promise, that when so cautioned, I will pause and deliberate upon the course I am about to pursue. I further promise, that I will help, aid and assist a brother Secret Monitor, by introducing him into business, sending him custom, or any other manner in which I may cast a penny in his way. I further promise, that I will commit this obligation to memory immediately, or as soon as possibly consistent.—All which I promise and swear, with a firm and steadfast resolution to perform the same; binding myself under no less penalty than to have my heart pierced through by the arrow of an enemy, or to be left alone without a friend to assist in the day of trouble.—So help me God, and keep me steadfast to perform the same."

Such were the matchless beauties of this honorary degree of a Master Mason, which our hero now received with no less pride than admiration! Nor was this the only honor conferred on him that evening.—About the middle of the evening the Master of the lodge was called home by the sudden illness of his wife, when the unexpected honor of presiding over the lodge devolved on Timothy; and nobly did he sustain himself in discharging the functions of that high station. After this meeting Jenks and Timothy proceeded to more immediate preparations for their expedition. At the suggestion of Jenks, they run up about twenty pounds of tallow and bees-wax into black-balls, using wheat-smut to give the tallow a coloring. They then put up about a dozen junk-bottles of common water, squeezing the juice of a few elder-berries into one, wild turnip into another, and peppermint or wild annis into a third, and so on, to give them some peculiar tint or taste, no matter what; and labelling these bottles all with different names and epithets, such as "certain cure for consumption,"— "cure for corns," &c. &c. These and various other domestic manufactures were prepared and put up for pedling on the way. A large box fitted to the waggon, and properly aried with gimblet-holes, was made to accommodate Boaz; while due care was bestowed upon him to perfect his accomplishment before introducing him into the world: all of which, having now become nearly grown to the size of ordinary bears, and well nurtured in intellect, he acquired with surprising readiness and docility.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014