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HAVING been a member of the masonic fraternity, and bound in the pledge of soul and body to maintain and support, by the most rigorous enforcement, all her sanguinary "edicts, laws, and regulations;" I feel it to be a duty I owe to my fellow-citizens, to state the reasons that led me thus to surrender life and liberty, without reservation, to the mercy of this lawless banditti; thereby adding another unit to "that dark pile of human mockeries ;" -and also, the reasons why I recanted from my masonic engagements, rescuing from her bloody clutches my pledges of obedience, renouncing her society, and resuming my former rights and privileges as an American citizen.
For some years before I joined the institution, I had entertained a favorable opinion of their pretensions to antiquity and to valuable secrets. This opinion strengthened in reading their Charts, Monitors, and Orations, and by occasionally hearing it announced from the pulpit as being the "handmaid of religion-of divine origin-emanating from God himself," &c. These assertions in favor of the institution, coming as they did from good men, tended greatly to excite my curiosity to hear and consult the oracle face to face.
I also saw that the most zealous professors of religion would go, almost "barefoot and on frosty ground," five or ten miles to a Lodge-meeting, when, under the same embarrassing circumstances, they would not go a fourth part of that distance to a prayer-meeting! This, to me, was
evidence strong and conclusive, that they loved the "handmaid" more than the mistress.
From premises like these I drew the inference, that Masons were either hypocrites in religion, or Masonry was religion in disguise. The latter opinion predominated, and I grew confident that in the secret ceremonies of the Lodge, some communications were made, from some source I knew not what, or how, on that all-important subject, eternity, that could not be obtained from the church, or any other society of men.
Accordingly, as soon as I was "twenty-one" years of age, I entered the Lodge, was passed, and raised; but, alas! never was man more disappointed or chagrined than I was, when I first heard their "heavenly secrets, of divine origin." Listen, reader, and you shall hear:— "The sun rises in the east!" "and sets in the west!" "and is in the south at high twelve!" "which is the regular time to eat and drink!!"
The secrets and signs of antiquity were still less satisfactory. It appeared to me that they could not have been of divine origin, for every "hangman" ever since hanging has been in vogue, from the days of Haman down to Gibbs the pirate, has known how to prepare his candidate with hoodwink and cable-tow, without the light of masonic science. As for divesting of metallic substance, any pick-pocket could have done that as mysteriously as they did, and nearly as quickly have made his candidate a sans culotte.
But Masonry, say they, "brings men of all religions, of all politics, of all manners, and of all habits, to one common level!" On casting my eye around the Lodgeroom, I did not feel disposed to question the truth of this secret-for I could see in one end of the Lodge the "humble Christian," with a golden crown on his head, and all the insignia of a "lord of earth," condescend to ask a
blessing of his God, with a devout spirit, on a poor, blind candidate! and near by, on the same level, a worthy brother, "with his heaven-erected face," supplicating the blessing of his god, (Bacchus) with an ardent spirit, on himself. I was disgusted with human nature, seeing it let loose in all its wild career. I was prepared for, and expected to find in Masonry, something that would lead the mind seriously and rationally to contemplate nature, every degree opening a new field of admiration. This probably is the case with most of the Masons themselves, when they first join; and it is by habit only that they become attached to the Lodge-room. When the young mariner first embarks on the ocean, the motion of the waves produces unpleasant sensations, and often sickness, until, by habituating himself to the sea, he gets his "sea-legs on:" and so it is with the Masons; they must get their "Lodgelegs" on, before they can be called "bright and trusty" Masons.
Often, when I have seen clergymen enter with so much zeal and spirit into the knock-down and drag-out ceremonies of making a Mason, I have thought to myself, You are a good fellow for a scrape, but I rather question your piety.
"But the beauties of Masonry lie higher up the mystic ladder." This induced me to frequent the Lodges, with the determination, as I had commenced digging for hidden secrets, to continue the same course, as long as they could find masonic rubbish to dig in. So, after digging in the grave of Hiram Abiff, we commenced operations in the ruins of the Old Temple, and from thence to the foundation of the New Temple, and from thence in the ruins of Enoch's Temple, and from thence across the Persian dominions to the Temple of Darius, and in every other place that blind tradition could suggest; and lastly, we dug into the graves of the dead, and ransacked their
skulls for secrets! but disappointment, that marked our first attempt, followed through the whole.
During this term, I had got my "infant prejudices nearly broken off," and my mind profusely impregnated with, and graduated to masonic principles, which left no room for any misgivings on the subject of "a state of future being;" for I could see no difference between the Christian and the Atheist; they would both sit down together at the table of the mock supper, or sacrament of Christ! each would blaspheme the name of his Maker! and profanely call on God at the altar, to witness and sanction a lie! and both would commit sacrilege on the relics of the dead, with impunity! Yet it was all sanctioned by Adam, and Enoch, and Noah, and David, and Solomon, and the St. Johns, and all the patriarchs and patriots that ever enlightened the earth with their wisdom, or blest it by their example; for "they were Freemasons!" And should I doubt, at this late day! or call in question its utility or antiquity! The idea would have been scouted by common
About this time the "Morgan excitement" began to rave and madden round the land." I did not believe that a murder had actually been committed, until the following confession of one of the murderers came to my knowledge, the principal part of which I received from a high Mason, upon the "sealed obligation," to keep the same from the world, which clearly proved to me that Morgan had been executed by the express and official order of the institution. One of the principal assistants in the murder, if his own confession is to be believed, (and it undoubtedly was believed by the New-York Masons to whom it was made) was Richard Howard, a high Mason, by birth an Englishman, and by occupation a book-binder. The following brief sketch of his adven