Museum of Freemasonry - Masonic Library

United Grand Lodge Of England
250th Anniversary Celebration
Especial Grand Lodge 25th – 29th June 1967
An Address By
M.W. Bro Archibold H Seabrook
P.G.M. York Grand Lodge Of Mexico

And we will search, with looks and words of love, for hidden thoughts, each lovelier than the last, our enchanted spirits, and like lutes touched by the skill of the enamoured wind, weave harmonies divine, yet ever new, from difference sweet where discord cannot be.” {Prometheus Unbound – Shelley}

An address

Delivered by the Grand Orator M.W. Brother Archibald H. Seabrook P.G.M.

At the annual Grand Lodge assembly of the M.W. York Grand Lodge of Mexico

Free & Accepted Masons, held at Mexico City on the 9th day of March, 1968.

M.W. Grand Master, M.W. Past Grand Masters, Grand Lodge Officers, distinguished visitors, brethren all;

We assemble at this 106th annual Grand Lodge communication to again renew, as it were, our vows of ardent devotion to the Craft and its cherished ideals which have animated us, and for the purpose of repolishing the precious and treasured jewels of our faith, so that the added lustre may be a gleaming beacon to all those yet in darkness; for at no other time of the year are such favourable opportunities afforded, and never are minds so receptive and well prepared.

With the closing of this, our official Masonic year, we pass another milestone along life’s toilsome journey, and one more link has been added to the long unbroken chain of the history of our beloved institution.

In many respects the past year has been a troublesome one, and the profane world is still teeming with perplexing and seemingly insoluble problems; moreover the peace we all crave continues to escape it. Fortunately, on the other side of the account, there has been great rejoicing throughout the Masonic world as reflected sparklingly in the celebrations arranged by the Premier Grand Lodge, marking its 250th birthday.

As the duly appointed representative of the United Grand Lodge of England near the M.W. York Grand Lodge of Mexico F & AM, it is my privilege and pleasure to attend these festivities held in London during the period 25th to 29th June. Therefore it appears to me impossible to suppose that my brethren, here assembled, will consider me self-importantly presumptuous in wishing to be heard regarding this outstanding event, and to which I had reference in my talk of last year, bearing in mind that we of the comparatively small M.W. York Grand Lodge of Mexico do not fall short of the rest of the world in our admiration of the ceaseless expertise and leadership of the Mother Grand Lodge; for had not its efforts been crowned with success it is questionable whether we would be in this hall today, or even be existent as a Grand Lodge.

And now to the London celebrations; hanks to the labours of the organizing committee, the Masonic visitors and their wives, responding to the kind invitation extended by the United Grand Lodge to participate in the festivities, were comfortably accommodated in the seven hotels where reservations had been secured. Our own M.W. Grand Master, Brother Weldon Thomas, and I were allocated rooms in the Waldorf Hotel as guests of the United Grand Lodge. This was a very central hotel conveniently located within easy distance of Freemasons’ Hall.

The programme drawn up by the committee covered a full round of entertainment. From the regal reception at St. James’ Palace by the recently elected Grand Master, H. R.H. the Duke of Kent to bountiful buffet suppers held elsewhere; and to the special dinners provided for two groups – one at the Savoy Hotel for the visiting Grand Masters, and the other at the Grosvenor House for the representatives.

The visitors were also conveyed by special buses to visit the Royal Masonic Hospital at Ravenscourt Park, the Royal Masonic Schools for Boys at Bushey, Hartfordshire, and the Royal Masonic School for Girls at Rickmansworth. The ladies were included in most events except, of course, when the craftsmen were on parade, so to speak; nevertheless at such times the ladies were happily entertained at theatrical performances, a fashion show, and the ballet. On the last days of the celebrations, then brethren, accompanied by their wives, were conducted on a tour embracing the palatial Freemasons’ Hall, the magnificent temple, the museum with its valuable exhibits, and the interesting library.

The brethren also attended Lodge meetings in accordance with individual invitations, and thus it came to pass that M.W. Bro. Weldon Thomas and I visited and witnessed an initiation at the Anglo-South American Lodge No. 3623.

Passing now to the salient and historically important feature of the entire celebrations – the Especial Grand Lodge held at the Royal Albert Hall on the afternoon of the 27th June, which not only commemorated the 250th birthday of regularly organised Freemasonry, but on this occasion it had been arranged to install H.R.H. The Duke of Kent as the M.W. Grand Master – this in keeping with the original desires of the founders in 1717 when Anthony Sayers was appointed Grand Master “till they shall have the honour of a noble brother at their head.” Previously, at the quarterly communication of the 14th June, the Grand Master, the Rt. Hon Earl of Scarborough had announced that, as he had earlier indicated. An opportunity now presented itself of having a Royal Prince once again as the head of Grand Lodge, and he proposed that H.R.H. the Duke of Kent therefore be elected.

At this juncture I am compelled to admit that it is beyond my ability accurately to describe something of the majesty and grandeur of the scene that met our eyes as we, the representatives of sister Grand Lodges, were escorted in procession into the Grand Lodge, down the staircase into the arena and along the aisle to our seats in front of the dais and the Golden Throne. The Masonic press stated that “the entry of the representatives of other Grand Lodges brought a foretaste of the unusual in Masonic dress, and the reception of the deputations from 67 Sister Constitutions brought a variety into the rich tapestry of colour. All but three of the Grand Lodges were represented by their Grand Masters. We treated them with fanfares and with applause and marvelled at the aprons, sashes, collars and chains purples and blues in profusion – white, yellow, crimson, thistle-green – all overlain with gold.”

Facing us on the platform, and in the terraced rows of seats ascending away up to the organ loft was a grand array of high ranking officers in a glorious blaze of every colour imaginable. Round to our right and to our left were the so-called tiered stalls running down to the floor of the arena, all packed with hundreds of officers in wonderfully coloured regalia. And in the huge semi-circle, stretching from the South and North round to and into the west were tiers of boxes; and still above these an immense gallery with yet another above that almost reaching to the roof of the hall. All this accommodation was likewise packed to capacity with Masons whose varying colours served to identify their rank, the light blues of the Masters of the constituent lodges being predominant. But the “Daily Telegraph” supplied what we were not in a position to observe from our seats. It stated that “from the gallery one saw a cruciform of red formed by the Grand Stewards in their distinctive regalia. In the quarterings of the cruciform was the glittering garter-blue and gold of the Grand officers and the visiting delegates, almost a thousand in number.”

All this brethren, was a magnificent spectacle to behold.

Soon another stately procession was formed to escort the M.W. Pro-Grand Master, M.W. Bro.the Earl of Scarborough into the Grand Lodge, and we were deeply impressed by the solemnity of the event, and by the bearings of the officers taking part in this section of the ceremony. Upon reaching the Grand East, the Pro Grand Master extended a formal welcome to the representatives of Grand Lodges with whom the Grand Lodge was in amity, and then invited the representative from Denmark to respond on their behalf.

After the deputations were admitted to the Grand Lodge in an imposing procession, and severally introduced and welcomed, and the Grand Master of Ireland had spoken on their behalf, the M.W. Pro Grand Master invited the M.W.G.M. of the M.W. Grand Lodge of Masons of the state of Massachusetts, the oldest Grand Lodge in the new world, to make reply. I will take the liberty of reading you that address because I am positive you will agree it truly reflects the sentiments of the M.W. York Grand Lodge of Mexico.

“M.W. Pro Grand Master and brethren, it is my privilege to bring to you all the warm fraternal greetings of the M.W. G.L. of Masons of the state of Massachusetts on this wonderful occasion of your 250th anniversary. Two hundred and fifty years is a long time, and when we reflect and realise that here was the beginning of organized Freemasonry in the world; when we reflect upon what this has meant to men of good will and to the world all over I think we can take personal pride in the fact that we are the personal heirs of these great men, those foresighted and far-sighted men, those men of faith and courage and whose love for their brethren in Masonry prompted them to join together in a fraternal union that has spread the seeds of brotherly love, relief and truth over the entire world.

True their have been differences of opinion, which are always present when progress is to be made. True, in Massachusetts there were those who differed in opinion with His Majesty King George III. But liberty and freedom of speech and a desire for self-government have always been moulded into the hearts and minds of Englishmen on far distant shores. Their love of Masonry, their desire for fraternal communion, however, held fast to their Mother Lodge until such times as it seemed fitting to assume the responsibility of guiding their own Masonic destiny in the new world, at the same time holding fast to the Ancient Landmarks and Masonic principles as laid down by the Mother Grand Lodge. Those of us who have come to England from Massachusetts to represent our grand Lodge at this communication are greatly honoured by your invitation.

I think I speak for all visiting brethren from the other side of the Atlantic when I say that we will never forget these days we are spending with you and your brethren. The princely hospitality which you have showered upon us and our ladies will always be fresh in our minds, and the memory of those many kindnesses and warm friendly greetings with which you have surrounded us will remain with us as long as we live. We extend to you our heartiest congratulations and our best wishes for continued success in the future. We thank you for your brilliant leadership and, as the oldest daughter Grand Lodge, we assure you that our hearts will always be with our Mother Grand Lodge, the United Grand Lodge of England.”

Following further speeches, eloquently delivered by other visiting brethren of Grand Lodge rank, came the stately procession of the M.W. Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England who had come to take his solemn obligation prior to his installation. He was escorted grandly by a deputation including R.W. Bro. the Hon. Fiennes Cornwallis, P.G.W. bearing the standard of the Grand Master; and also the Grand Master’s chain and jewel borne on a cushion by Wor. Bro.Viscount Chelsea, P.G. Steward, Grand Director of Ceremonies.

This was a profoundly impressive part of the proceedings, especially when the M.W. Grand Master took up a position in the centre of Grand Lodge and knelt while the Grand Chaplain invoked the blessings of the G.A.O.T.U. upon all his undertakings. He was then administered the obligation and duly invested and installed. During this phase there came to my mind certain parts of the ritual, seemingly repeated by us so often as to almost become trite, but which now appeared to step out of dormant print, come to life and take on a new meaning. I recalled the several occasions on which I had myself informed brethren that the wisest and beast of men in all ages had been encouragers and promoters of our art, and had never deemed it derogatory to their dignity to lower themselves with the fraternity and to extend its privileges and to patronise its assemblies. If ever any of the brethren wanted proof of that assertion, they had it now. I remembered too, the passage “more honourable than the star and garter or any other order that could be conferred upon you at any time by king, prince or any other person except he be a Mason.” And here, actually in our midst, was a Mason and a prince now following the same humble course we all must follow should we be called upon to assume the royal purple of the fraternity.

Other features of the ceremonies hinted to the mind fundamental truths brought to our attention in the second-degree lecture. The appropriate musical accompaniments, so beautifully and brilliantly performed by the grand Organist at fitting intervals, greatly enhanced the occasion, and one was brought to agree with Sir Thomas Browne in his “Religic Medici” that there is music everywhere there is harmony, order and proportion. In other respects I was reminded of the words of another person in that “music is the interpreter of the soul”. The great organ on this memorable day certainly “breathed to the ear clear intimations and touched and greatly agitated the agreeable and sublime passions. Architecture, which is a wonderful combination of mathematics and geometry, was displayed to great advantage at Freemasons’ Hall, both in the interior as well as in the exterior constructions and decorations, while Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic was reflected in the several speeches delivered at Grand Lodge and elsewhere during the festivities.

Towards the close of the ceremonies at Grand Lodge, more speeches were delivered by some of the deputations, and then the M.W. Pro-Grand master pointed out that those of the distinguished visitors who had offered congratulations to the M.W.G.M. represented some five million Masons scattered throughout the world.

Finally, the M.W.G.M. expressed the hope that the visitors would carry home to their own Grand Lodges memories of small, but personal and unimportant variations of language and procedure. He added that what was most important, is that by there presence here they will show to the world that fundamentally there is only one true type of freemasonry based on belief in God and His revealed Will. He also made an announcement to the effect that it was that it was the imaginative action of the M.W. Pro-Grand Master that led the craft to its recent great achievement when pound by pound well over one half million was collected for a cause which was not going to benefit masons only, but the whole world. That action, he hoped, would prove that we were not always inward thinking and concerned with our own good – a point upon which Freemasonry suffers from widespread misconception.

I am sure Brethren, you will agree that in this alone the basic principles of the Fraternity stood revealed. The donation to which the M.W.G.M. had reference amounted to pounds542,651 set up in trust which was expected to provide an annual income for the Royal College of Surgeons of between Pounds24,000 and 30,000. The press, commenting on this charitable action, stated that the income would be applied to intensify research into problems of coronary thrombosis, stroke, cancer, and other dread diseases, as well as spare-parts surgery , dental decay and anaesthesia.

The brethren were informed that in reply to a telegram sent to Her Majesty the Queen, the following was received:

“Please convey my warmest thanks to all Freemasons assembled at the Royal Albert Hall for their kind and loyal message. I send you my sincere congratulations to Grand Lodge on the 250th anniversary which is being celebrated today, and to you on your installation as Grand Master.

Elizabeth R.”

Grand Lodge was closed in ample form and the first verse of the National Anthem was sung after which the M.W.G.M., accompanied by his Grand Officers and the visiting deputations retired in procession from the Grand Lodge.

As I left the Royal Albert Hall, I asked one of our American brothers what he thought about it all. His reply was brief; “Nothing like it since the Coronation; it defies description.”

Undoubtedly a keen sense of Masonic vocation must have taken possession of the visiting Brethren upon finding themselves in such a tremendous gathering providing factual and vivid evidence that the “universality of Freemasonry” was something more than the mere vapouring of the imagination, and productive of the most delightful and exhilarating atmosphere while in the Albert Hall as well as at the various social events.

It was at these off-parade get-togethers that we met yet again upon another agreeable level: and with a lowering of reserve it furnished all of us with an opportunity to converse freely with our British brethren as well as those coming from the four corners of the earth, emanating from every walk of life, mixing together without any sign of difference, great or small, in social standing. And here too we had the advantage of meeting those of the craft heretofore known to us only in name and rank. It was a rare pleasure to meet men of outstanding ability, blessed with the gift of grace, who had conducted ceremonies in a manner well worthy of emulation, and with that dignity becoming a Freemason – the dignity of which it has been said to be so difficult to define and understand.

For my own part it was my good fortune a few days later to be in Liverpool, Worcester, Honiton, and, finally once more in London, and at one Lodge to deliver a small talk. At all these places I was received with honours and with a wealth of hospitality. What a wonderful fellowship is this brotherhood.

I speak with just pride in having graced all these memorable occasions for which I am deeply appreciative of the favours extended to me by the U.G.L. of England and by my English Brethren.

I am positive that the visitors left London for their homelands, physically, mentally, morally and spiritually refreshed. And, now Brethren, to ourselves. As the new Masonic year opens up invitingly before us, those who on relatively few occasions give themselves up graciously to deeper thought in connection with all too familiar, but painful and controversial subjects and events, may be drawn into uneasy contemplation upon the puzzling problems which beset the world, many of whose inhabitants exhibit obvious indications, in varying degrees, of nearing a period of shattering disillusionment.

Whether we like it or not, we are obliged to mix with the world, be it good or bad, but more often may we come into uncomfortable contact with its failings and doubtful principles. To avoid contamination from the nauseous atmosphere thus created, and in order to preserve the institution of which we are loyal members, we must do our best to widen its bounds and strengthen its energies.

I realise from my recent trip to London, how profitable it can prove now and again to look back along the road we have come, and from which we can all gain inspiration: yet it is our imperative duty to surrender to and to support a forward trend. Therefore, as Freemasons, our first and arduous task is that of moral leadership. If we fail in that, we fail in all. And if there is dignity in our work, then there is dignity also in the marks that hard and honest work leave in the labourer. In the end, we carve out our own lives, and the future is therefore our own to make, or mar.

If you want to do something good and great, helpful and important in this shoddy world to help, aid and assist your Brethren and all mankind, first humble yourself. Remember that no man shall ever enter upon and great and important undertaking without first invoking the blessing of God. That familiar passage has still a ring of hope for us all. And if we continue to work industriously upon the temple, pursuing our task honestly and conscientiously, ever bearing in mind the tenets and principles of our beloved institution, we shall reap a harvest of that happiness which tends to permeate us with a sense of well-being, and encourages us to live in peace and harmony with all God’s creatures.

Above all, we must strive towards perfection so that when the time comes we shall be enabled to pass the record on to others as unsullied as we received it.

Truly the spirit of service and sacrifice must prevail if we are to fulfil our Masonic destiny. In this connection these words again come to mind.

“In the good old days man planted avenues of trees that they would never live to see in their full richness: they laid down in their cellars bottles of good wine that they would never live to drink: these things they did for their sons because they had faith in the future and a belief in the permanence of things. So this is a year to plant sapling oaks, and to bottle new wines, and to rejoice that we live in an age resplendent with opportunity.”

So mote it be.