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Article # 33
Oration to the Initiate - Part-2

Author: Chevalier de Ramsay    Posted on: Wednesday, July 24, 2002
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[ The second part of the Oration of Chevalier de Ramsay is posted. This part contains his views about the origin and History of the Order, which do not appear to be correct as is seen from later research. Anyway it was an attempt in the18 th Century. Ramsay’s oration will not be complete without this part. Hence, this posting –Moderator]

SECOND PART
ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE ORDER
THE LEGEND AND HISTORY

Every family, every Republic, every Empire, of which the origin is lost in obscure antiquity, has its fable and its truth, its legend and its history. Some ascribe our institution to Solomon, some to Moses, some to Abraham, some to Noah, and some to Enoch, who built the first city, or even to Adam. Without any pretence of denying these origins, I pass on to matters less ancient. This, then, is a part of what I have gathered in the annals of Great Britain, in the Acts of Parliament, which speak often of our privileges, and in the living traditions of the English people, which has been the centre of our Society since the eleventh century.

FOUNDING OF THE ORDER BY THE CRUISADERS

At the time of the Crusades in Palestine many princes, lords, and citizens associated themselves, and vowed to restore the Temple of the Christians in the Holy Land, and to employ themselves in bringing back their architecture to its first institution. They agreed upon several ancient signs and symbolic words drawn from the well of religion in order to recognise themselves amongst the heathen and Saracens. These signs and words were only communicated to those who promised solemnly, and even sometimes at the foot of the altar, never to reveal them. This sacred promise was therefore not an execrable oath, as it has been called, but a respectable bond to unite Christians of all nationalities in one confraternity. Some time afterwards our Order formed an intimate union with the Knights of St John of Jerusalem. From that time our Lodges took the name of Lodges of St John. This union was made after the example set by the Israelites when they erected the second Temple, who whilst they handled the trowel and mortar with one hand, in the other held the sword and buckler. Our Order therefore must not be considered a revival of the Bacchanals, but as an order founded in remote antiquity, and renewed in the Holy Land by our ancestors in order to recall the memory of the most sublime truths amidst the pleasures of society.

THE ORDER'S PASSAGE FROM THE HOLY LAND TO EUROPE

The kings, princes, and lords returned from Palestine to their own lands, and there established divers Lodges. At the time of the last Crusades many Lodges were already erected in Germany, Italy, Spain, France, and from thence in Scotland, because of the close alliance between the French and the Scotch.

James, Lord Steward of Scotland, was Grand Master of a Lodge established at Kilwinning, in the West of Scotland, MCCLXXXVI, shortly after the death of Alexander III., King of Scotland, and one year before John Baliol mounted the throne. This lord received as Freemasons into his Lodge the Earls of Gloucester and Ulster, the one English, the other Irish.

By degrees our Lodges and our rites were neglected in most places. This is why of so many historians only those of Great Britain speak of our Order. Nevertheless it preserved its splendour among those Scotsmen to whom the Kings of France confided during many centuries the safeguard of their royal persons.

FROM THE CRUSADES TO THE REFORM -- DEGENERACY OF THE ORDER.

After the deplorable mishaps in the Crusades, the perishing of the Christian armies, and the triumph of Bendocdar, Sultan of Egypt, during the eighth and last Crusade, that great Prince Edward, son of Henry III., King of England, seeing there was no longer any safety for his brethren in the Holy Land, from whence the Christian troops were retiring, brought them all back, and this colony of brothers was established in England. As this prince was endowed with all heroic qualities, he loved the fine arts, declared himself protector of our Order, conceded to it new privileges, and then the members of this fraternity took the name of Freemasons, after the example set by their ancestors. Since that time Great Britain became the seat of our Order, the conservator of our laws, and the depository of our secrets. The fatal religious discords which embarrassed and tore Europe in the sixteenth century caused our Order to degenerate from the nobility of its origin. Many of our rites and usages which were contrary to the prejudices of the times were changed, disguised, suppressed.

CONCLUSION

RETURN, RECOVERY AND FUTURE OF THE ORDER IN FRANCE

Thus it was that many of our brothers forgot, like the ancient Jews, the spirit of our laws, and only retained the letter and shell. The beginnings of a remedy have already been made. It is only necessary to continue, and to at last bring everything back to its original institution. This work cannot be difficult in a State where religion and the, Government can only be favourable to our laws.

From the British Isles the Royal Art is now repassing into France, under the reign of the most amiable of Kings, whose humanity animates all his virtues, and under the ministry of a Mentor, who has realised all that could be imagined most fabulous.

In this happy age when love of peace has become the virtue of heroes, this nation one of the most spiritual of Europe, will become the centre of the Order. She will clothe our work, our statutes, and our customs with grace, delicacy, and good taste, essential qualities of the Order, of which the basis is the wisdom, strength, and beauty of genius. It is in future in our Lodges, as it were in public schools, that Frenchmen shall learn, without travelling, the characters of all nations, and that strangers shall experience that France is the home of all peoples. Patria gentis humano



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