List Of Contents | Contents of Alvira- The Heroine of Vesuvius
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

cathedral of Strasburg.  Erwin of Steinbach, the leading architect
employed in the erection of this beautiful and stupendous work of
architectural beauty, called around him other noted men from the
different cities of Germany, Switzerland, and France; he formed the
first lodge.  The members became deputies for the formation of lodges
in other cities, and thus in 1459 the heads of these lodges assembled
at Ratisbon, and drew up their Act of Incorporation, which instituted
in perpetuity the lodge of Strasburg as the chief lodge, and its
president as the Grand Master of the Freemasons of Germany.

The masters, journeymen, and apprentices formed a corporation having
special jurisdiction in different localities.  In order not to be
confounded with the vulgar mechanics who could only use the hammer
and the trowel, the Freemasons invented signs of mutual recognition
and certain ceremonies of initiation.  A traditionary secret was handed
down, revealed to the initiated, and that only according to the degrees
they had attained.  they adopted for symbols the square, the level,
the compass, and the hammer.  In some lodges and in higher grades
(for they differ almost in every nation) we find the Bible, compass,
and square only.  But the Bible given to the aspirant he is to
understand he is to acknowledge no other law but that of Adam--the
law which Almighty god had engraved on his heart, and which is called
the law of nature (thereby rejecting the laws of the Church and
society).  The compass recalls to his mind that God is the central
point of everything, from which everything is equally distant, and to
which everything is equally near.  By the square he is to learn that
God made everything equal.  The drift of these symbolic explanations
is obvious.

In the ceremonies of initiation into the various degrees everything
was devised that could strike the imagination, awaken curiosity, or
excite terror.  The awful oath that has been administered in some
Continental lodges would send a thrill of horror through every right-
minded person, whilst the lugubrious ceremonies the aspirant has to
pass elicit a smile--such, for instance, of leading the young Mason
with bandaged eyes around the inner temple, and in the higher grades
presenting him with a dagger, which he is to plunge into a manikin
stuffed with bladders full of blood, and declare that thus he will be
avenged of the death of Adoniram!  Then he is instructed in the code
of secret signals by which he can recognize a brother on the street,
on the bench, or on the field of battle.  Carousing till midnight is
a befitting finale to the proceedings of the lodge.

The doctrines or religious code of the Masons are, as their symbols
indicate, deistic and anti-Christian.  They openly shake off the
control of all religion, and pretend to be in possession of a secret
to make men better and happier than Christ, his apostles, and his
Church have made them or can make them.  "The pretension," says
Professor Robertson, "is monstrous!"

How is this exoteric teaching consistent with the full and final
revelation of divine truths?  If in the deep midnight of heathenism
the sage had been justified in seeking in the mysteries of Eleusis
for a keener apprehension of the truths of primitive religion, how
does this justify the Mason, in the midday effulgence of Christianity,
in telling mankind he has a wonderful secret for advancing them in
virtue and happiness--a secret unknown to the incarnate God, and to
the Church with which he has promised the Paraclete should abide for
ever?  And even the Protestant, who rejects the teaching of that
unerring Church, if he admits Christianity to be a final revelation,
must scout the pretensions of a society that claims the possession
of moral truths unknown to the Christian religion.

Whatever may have been the original cast of the religious views of
the Masonic order, it is certain in its development it has become
impious and blaspheming.  In the latter part of the seventeenth century
the Masonic lodges were the hot-beds of sedition and revolution; and
long before the popes from their high watch-tower of the Vatican had
hurled on these secret gatherings the anathema of condemnation, they
were interdicted in England by the Government of Queen Elizabeth;
they were checked in France by Louis XV. (1729); they were prescribed
in Holland in 1735, and successively in Flanders, in Sweden, in Poland,
in Spain, in Portugal, in Hungary, and in Switzerland.  In Vienna, in
1743, a lodge was burst into by soldiers.  The Freemasons had to give
up their swords and were conducted to prison; but as there were
personages of high rank among them, they were let free on parole and
their assemblies finally prohibited.  These facts prove there was
something more than mutual benefit associations in Masonry.  "When we
consider," says M. Picot, "that Freemasonry was born with irreligion;
that it grew up with it; that it has kept pace with its progress; that
it has never pleased any men but those who were impious or indifferent
about religion; and that it has always been regarded with disfavor
by zealous Catholics, we can only regard it as an institution bad in
itself and dangerous in its effects."

Robinson of Edinburgh, who was a Protestant and at on time a Mason
himself, says: "I believe no ordinary brother will say that the
occupations of the lodges are anything better than frivolous, very
frivolous indeed.  The distribution of charity needs to be no secret,
and it is but a small part of the employment of the meeting.  Mere
frivolity can never occupy men come to age, and accordingly we see in
every part of Europe where Freemasonry has been established the lodges
have become seed-beds of public mischief."

This was particularly true of the lodges of the central cities of
Europe in the latter part of the seventeenth century.  They were not
only politically obnoxious to governments, but they became the agents
and supporters of all the heretical theories of the day, and their evil
effects were felt in the domestic circle.  Like animals that hate the
light and crawl out from their hiding-places when the world is abandoned
by man, the members of those impious gatherings passed their nights in
mysterious conclave.  Fancy can paint the scene:  weak-minded men of
every shade of unbelief, men of dishonest and immoral sentiments, men
who, if justice had her due, should have swung on the gallows or eked
out a miserable existence in some criminal's cell, joined in league
to trample on the laws and constitution of order, and, in the awful
callousness of intoxication, uttering every blasphemous and improper
thought the evil one could suggest.  What must have been the character
of the homes that received such men after their midnight revels?  Many
a happy household has been turned into grief through their demoralizing
influence; mothers, wives, and daughters have often, in the lonely
hours of midnight, sat up with a scanty light and a dying fire awaiting
the late return of a son, a husband, or a brother; with many a sigh
they would trace the ruin of their domestic felicity and the wreck of
their family to some lodge of the secret societies.

Before appealing to facts and bringing the reader to a scene of domestic
misery caused by those societies, we will conclude these remarks by
quoting one or two verses from a parody on a very popular American
song.  We believe the lines representing the poor little child calling
in the middle of the night, in the cold and wet, at the Masonic lodge
for its father, to be as truthful in the realities of domestic
suffering as they are beautiful and touching in poetic sentiment:

"Father, dear father, stop home with us pray
   You never stop home with us now;
 'Tis always the 'lodge' or 'lodge business,' you say,
   That will not home pleasures allow.
 Poor mother says benevolence is all very well,
   And your efforts would yield her delight,
 If they did not take up so much of your time,
   And keep you from home every night.

"Father, dear father, stop home with us pray!
   Poor mother's deserted, she said,
 And she wept o'er your absence one night, till away
   From our home to your lodge-room I sped.
 A man with a  red collar came out and smiled,
   And patted my cheeks, cold and blue,
 And I told him I was a good Templar's child,
   And was waiting, dear father, for you.

"Father, dear father, come home with me now;
   You left us before half-past seven.
 Don't say you'll come soon, with a frown on your brow;
   'Twill soon, father dear, be eleven.
 Your supper is cold, for the fire is quite dead,
   And mother to bed has gone, too;
 And these were the very last words that she said;
   'I hate those Freemasons, I do!'"

Chapter XIV.
The Freemason's Home.

Late on a dark night in the commencement of November, wind and rain
blowing with violence from the mountains, and the streets of Geneva
abandoned, we find our young heroines sitting in a comfortable room.
They are lounging on easy-chairs before a warm fire; the eldest is
reading, and the youngest, although dressed in the pretty uniform
of a naval cadet, is working at embroidery with colored wools.

Alvira and Aloysia, at the command of their father, have still preserved
their disguise, at first irksome to their habits and delicacy of
maidenhood; but necessity and fear toned down their objection, and
they gradually accustomed themselves to the change.  In girlish
simplicity they were pleased with the novelty of their position.  They
knew each other as Charles and Henry, and by these names we must now
call them.

The old clock of the church on the hill sent the mournful tones of the
eleventh hour over the silent city.  Charles counted the solemn booms
of the church bell, and then, as if resuming the conversation with
Henry:  "Eleven o'clock, and father not come home yet!  I am sure I
don't know what keeps father out every night so late; if poor mother
were alive, she would never stand this."

"But perhaps pa may have important business and can't come home," we
hear the amiable Henry suggesting.

"Business!  Nothing of the kind.  He has got in amongst some old fools
who pretend to have more knowledge than their grandfathers, and are
deceiving old women of both sexes to such a degree that they actually
fancy they are inspired to make new Bibles, new commandments, and new

"But father might be trying to put them right," replied Henry softly,
"and perhaps feels as you do.  How sad to see them going astray!"

"No," answered the other with greater animation, "he is as bad as any
of them.  You remember long ago how he used to make poor mother cry
when speaking of the great mystery of Redemption; he called it the
greatest swindle the world ever saw.  You remember what blasphemous
and insulting language he addressed to the Sisters of St. Vincent when
they asked for alms in honor of the Blessed Virgin; and you know how
he is always reading the most impious works.

"He is now shut up in one of those mysterious rooms called Freemason
lodges, where, if report be true, the enemies of the Church and state
plot the ruin of mankind.  Henry, he is not only an infidel and a
Freemason, but he is unkind to us."

Saying these last words, Charles rose and paced up and down the room,
as if full of passion.

Faith, like anemones that flourish in the depths of the ocean when the
surface is tossed with storm, was concealed in the heart of Charles,
and inspired those feelings of holy indignation which live in secret
in the heart even when passion rages in triumph without.

Henry ventured a reply, but the excited manner of her sister checked
her, and, burying her face in her hands, she remained in silence. 
Well she knew Charles was right, and in the deep sympathy of her
innocent, loving heart her feelings crept into prayer for her erring
parent, and silent tears suffused her eyes.

Whilst the two girls were thus engaged--the one pacing the room and
biting her lips with annoyance, the other wrapt in prayer and tears--
the step of Cassier was heard on the stairs.

It was unfortunate for Charles.  He had given loose rein to his passion,
and it was at this moment beyond control.  The scene reminds us of a
poor wife, the hapless victim of a drunkard's home, drawing on herself
brutal treatment, when, in the lonely hours of midnight and in the
pent-up feelings of a breaking heart, she would incautiously reprove
the maddened retch who is reeling home to her under the fumes of
intoxication; thus Charles gave vent to feelings she had long nursed
in her bosom, and spoke in disrespectful language of reproof to her
intoxicated father.

Cassier had come from the carousals of the lodge.  The fumes of the
old wines had reached his brain; the fearless and unexpected reproof
of Charles startled him.  In an instant the demon of intemperance
reigned in his heart; without waiting to answer, he approached the
girl, gave her a severe slap on the face, and ordered her to her

Charles and Henry retired to a sleepless couch, and their pillow was
moistened with many bitter tears before the dawn of the morning.

In a small spark commences the conflagration that destroys cities;
the broad river that flows with irresistible majesty through our plains
commences in a rivulet leaping and sparkling on the green hill-side;
the almighty avalanche that sweeps with the roar of thunder through
the Alpine ravines commences in a handful of loosened snow.  Thus to
a thought, a guilty desire uncontrolled, may be traced the greatest
moral catastrophes.

A cloud passed over the thoughts of Charles.  From the momentous evening
she received the rebuke of her father, her heart became the battle-field
of contending emotions.  She brooded in silence over imaginary wrongs,
and thus gave to a latent passion the first impulse that led to
disastrous consequences.  Diseased fancy lent a charm to thoughts long
forgotten, and recalled the pictures of pride and ambition that had
so often gilded the horizon of her young hopes.  To be free and have
wealth, she thought, was worth swimming across a river of blood to

A temptation seized the thoughts of Charles.  It clung to her like
the bloodsucker drawing fresh streams from young veins.  Notwithstanding
her efforts to shake off the terrible temptation, and because she did
not seek aid in the sacraments of the Church, it lived and haunted
her in spite of her will.  We tremble to write it--'twas to murder her

Chapter XV.
Tragedy in the Mountains.

                        Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe topful
Of direst cruelty!  Make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it.  Come to my woman's breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature's mischief!  Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: