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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

[untitled letter from J. P. Sanders and J. L. Ridgley]

Without undertaking to present in detail the special subjects of correspondence which have occupied our attention with the authorities of the Order in the continent of Australasia, I may say generally that the aforegoing topic has absorbed all others, except that of the issue of cards by the present Grand Lodges. The exercise of such independent authority has never been even constructively recognized by the Grand Lodge of the United States, nor could it have been consistently with our system of Traveling Cards and of the A. T. P. W.; but the necessity of any present discussion of the subject is superseded by the presence of our Special Commissioner in Australasia, who will doubtless be able to adjust all subjects of difference, including the exclusive authority of the Grand Lodge of the United States to regulate the form of card, whose ubiquity as well as universality in American Odd Fellowship must be conceded. To enable him to act understandingly. a condensed statement of the entire legislation of the G. L. of U. S. on the subject of supplies to Australia and other jurisdictions was carefully prepared and placed in the hands of the Special Commissioner.

It is now hoped, as well from the large intelligence displayed by all the parties on the subject, from the thorough sympathy of our Commissioner in our special views, and from the greatly enlarged area of usefulness contemplated by the unity and domestic independence of the federal system designed to be now inaugurated, and the proper adaptation of the people and their system of government by Provinces, or political subdivisions, that harmony and union of counsels will reward our efforts, and that as a result the course of fraternity and brotherly love will be greatly promoted among the different nations of the earth, especially among the Anglo-Saxon race. In page 39 consequence of the remoteness of the country, and the comparatively unsettled policy of the Grand Lodge of the United States concerning the propagation of Odd Fellowship to foreign countries, but little progress was made in that direction until the successful advent of the Order to Germany in 1870, under the wise direction of our illustrious and beloved brother, John F. Morse, P. G. M., to California. Since that auspicious consummation and the formation of the Grand Lodge of the German Empire and several Subordinate Grand Lodges in Europe, the more enlightened counsel has prevailed in the Grand Lodge" of the United States of foreign propagandism, so that American Odd Fellowship now prevails in British America, in Europe, on the continent of Australasia, in the Republic of Chile, in Peru, and in the Islands of the Sea. In organizing Odd Fellowship in Australasia, notwithstanding the mistake committed in form of government, which is not to be wondered at under the circumstances and surrounding difficulties, we have reason to be gratified with the general accuracy of the measures adopted. We are satisfied that the unwritten language was communicated by Special D. G. Sire Meacham with correctness. Since Bro. Meacham's presence in Melbourne, Dunedin, and at other points in that country, the formal unwritten text and illustrative diagrams have been transmitted and received by the authorities at Melbourne, and have verified the truth of this fact. Thus upon the return of our worthy brother, the Deputy Grand Sire, and his successful negotiations upon the special subjects which now estrange us, we shall be as correct in form as we are in substance, and the general welfare and prosperity will thus be permanently assured.

On the 27th of June a letter was received from Bro Harmon, dated Wellington, New Zealand, May 18th, from which I make a brief extract as follows:

"To-day I leave for Christ Church, where Bro. Braithwaite is to meet me. Some new features will probably arise in my efforts at adjustment; matters which we know little of I can see looming up The situation of this country has been entirely misunderstood by us, as I have learned by reading and conversation with Australians and New Zealanders on the ships. Instead of being out of the world I find myself in the midst of civilization with its schools, churches, museums, libraries, etc. It was high time for the G. L. of U. S. to send some one here.'

From publications in the newspapers we learn that our Commissioner was gladly welcomed in New Zealand, receptions having been tendered him at various points, and a superb dinner in honor of his arrival was served at the Theatre Royal Hotel, Wellington, on the 18th of May, when Bro. Harmon made an eloquent address in reply to a toast to "The Grand Lodge of the United States." On all sides the kindest feelings were expressed for the Order in this country, Mr. Mckenzie, of the Manchester Unity, remarking that he was "extremely gratified to meet an officer of such high standing in America, and it shows that the heart beats in the right place when they send out such a gentleman to visit this far-off land in the interests of this noble work."

The correspondence had with the authorities of Australia and New Zealand has been quite voluminous, and only short extracts will be made from the several letters received and sent since the last session.

The letter from this office dated Sept. 29th transmitted, by direction of the M. W. Grand Sire, the P. W's for the year 1878, of which proper acknowledgment has been received

On the 1st of October Grand Secretary Curtis was advised of the action of the G. L. of U. S. in authorizing a Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand, also of the adoption of the report of the Committee on Foreign Relations on the subject of cards, taking occasion to say: "You will find the argument of the committee fully sustained by the record, and I take it for granted that the law in the premises will be promptly conformed to. I shall write by this mail a similar letter to Bro. Braithwaite, G. M. of New Zealand, and thus place the two Grand Jurisdictions, all we have in Australasia, in full possession of the important legislation, in order that they may confer, if necessary, page 40 to enable them to harmonize in opinion and judgment in this momentous matter, before the arrival of the American Commissioner."

The reply to this letter by Grand Secretary Curtis is dated Melbourne, Nov. 28, 1877, and to comply with the request contained therein, the following extract is presented:

"I beg to acknowledge your kind favor of October 1st, and am very much pleased to hear from so good a judge as yourself that the recent session of your Grand Lodge was so complete a success.

"The decision of the R. W. G. L. of U. S. in reference to our 'clearance forms' has given rise to a great deal of unfavorable comment. We cannot imagine how the Committee on Foreign Relations could have fallen into so lamentable an error as that contained in the following paragraph: 'That one of the specifications in the Charier of the Grand lodge of Australia provides that all cards issued by that jurisdiction shall emanate from the Grand lodge of the United States.' Surely they must have been examining the copy of some other Charter, or else a copy of something intended to have been inserted in our Charter, and, upon more mature consideration, expunged. I inclose you a copy of our Charter, and you will see that there is not one word in it about cards. Moreover, as certain things are therein enumerated which we are not to do, it is implied that it will be lawful for us to do all others. Any jurist will understand this. I send you by this same mail a report of the last meeting of our Standing Committee, wherein you will see that the following resolutions were passed:

"That, whilst the committee is most willing to obey the just commands of the Right Worthy Grand Lodge of the United States, it most respectfully yet strongly protests against the groundless accusation of having violated its Charter, which does not contain one single word in reference to Clearance or Visiting Cards, but merely states that we are to use the same traveling password. The Charter of the Grand Lodge of the German Empire does (we believe) contain such a restriction in reference to the cards. It is, however, unfair to bind us to the terms of any other Charter than our own.

"Resolved, That our Grand Secretary write to Gr. Secretary Bro. Ridgely, and ask him to be kind enough to give the same publicity to our respectful denial as has been given to the mistaken assertion of the Committee on Foreign Relations.

"As the premises on which the R. W. G. L. of U. S. grounded its resolution were completely erroneous, we must ask for the matter to be reconsidered. We had several copies of your cards circulated among our Lodges, but they were replaced by our own forms and were destroyed, so that we should have to purchase fresh stock. However, I have no doubt that the matter will be amicably arranged by the Commissioner when he arrives."

The following is the copy of Charter sent by Grand Secretary Curtis, which it will be observed, varies slightly from the printed copy on page 4295, Journal of G. L. of U. S., 1868.

"To all whom it may concern: Know ye that the G. L. of XJ. S. of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, as the source of all true and legitimate Odd Fellowship in the United States of America, and by virtue of its constitutional authority to organize Lodges and Encampments, Grand and Subordinate, in foreign countries, doth hereby create and erect into a distinct sovereignty the various Lodges of Odd Fellows heretofore existing in Australia by the name and style of 'The Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of Australia,' with power in all matters relating to Odd Fellows within the said Province, except in the following respects, viz.: That the said 4 The Grand Lodge of Australia' shall not at any time hereafter in anywise alter or repudiate any of the signs, tokens, passwords, lectures, charges, or any part or portion of either the written or unwritten work of the Order as known and practised within the jurisdiction of the said 4 The Grand Lodge of the United States,' and both jurisdictions shall use the same traveling password. That the qualifications for membership in the Subor- page 41 dinate Lodges within the jurisdiction of the said 'The Grand Lodge of Australia,' shall be identical with those established for membership in Subordinate Lodges within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the United States, otherwise this Dispensation to be of no form or effect.

"J. P. Sanders, Grand Sire.

"J. L. Ridgely, Grand Secretary.