Masters of Lodges

"'THERE is, unquestionably, much too great a desire now-a-days on the part of the Fraternity to value numbers above quality. In the history of the Order there is no instance on record of so rapid an increase of initiations as has taken place within the last three years. But if we examine the numbers thus brought to light, we shall find that very few indeed ever give Masonry more than a passing thought, being simply content with using the Lodge meetings as a vehicle for social intercourse. Of so many initiated, it is not at all extravagant to say that scarcely one in ten ever takes the slightest trouble to make himself acquainted with the nature of the work, and that, in the event of their rising to the W.M.'s chair, they are quite satisfied if they can manage to open and close without much hesitation or blundering. As to the important duties of the three degrees, they leave them to some P.M.; who is always at his post and delighted to possess a power which given him influence and authority, looks at least upon the privilege of being perpetual acting W.M. as a right, and in some instances coerces his Brethren into a compliance with his whims because his services can not conveniently be dispensed with. But is this as it should be? If a man enters Masonry at all, he is bound to fulfil its duties, which do not consist in his paying his Lodge dues regularly.'

"'We hold it as a positive duty that no man ought ever to venture upon attaining the dignities of the W.M.'s chair, unless he can perform the duties of initiating, passing and raising. He ought most assuredly to be able to work the section, which is a more difficult exercise, too much going out of use, except in Lodges of instruction.'

"'However Masonry may flourish as to numbers and increase of funds, until it be made a sine qua non that no Mason shall ever be a W.M. until he can perform its continuous duties, the essence of the Order will never possess its due weight and importance.'"

Freemasons' Monthly Magazine — 1857