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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

I. O. O. F. Office of the R. W. Deputy Grand Sire, R. W. G. L. of U. S., San Francisco, February 18, 1878. James L. Ridgely, R. W. Grand Cor. and Rec. Secretary:

I. O. O. F. Office of the R. W. Deputy Grand Sire, R. W. G. L. of U. S., San Francisco,

James L. Ridgely,

R. W. Grand Cor. and Rec. Secretary:

Dear Sir and Brother,—Yours of the 7th of February, notifying me that the Grand Sire has declined the mission to Australia and New Zealand, and that it now devolves upon me, is to hand this morning. The Grand Sire had suggested two or three months ago, that this contingency might arise; and in two letters to him I have already stated the difficulties in the way of my going to Australasia in his place; and have also discussed some of the questions which will demand settlement there. In my last, I requested him to confer with you, and to have made such preparations for my departure as seemed necessary. I also named April 15th as the earliest day I could leave, and promised to accomplish the object in view if possible. Your letter has given a fresh impulse, and I have determined to struggle hard to arrange my business so that either on March 18th or April 15th I may start. The trouble is, the great sacrifice a lawyer in full practice in a large city makes, when he quits his profession for so long a time as the mission to Australia requires. But having suffered much from this cause on one occasion heretofore, I may as well suffer a little more. Besides, what a man does for his fellow-men will count largely in the final trial balance-sheet of his life. He may lose some money, but in the great cause of humanity money weighs nothing as against love and duty. Let me add that a strong motive with me, is the happiness this mission, if successful, will give you. You have been urging this matter upon the Grand Lodge for years, and at last you have almost won; and I want you to be able to shout, "Victory."

In my last to the Grand Sire I asked for your joint views upon many things. Among them was whether it would be necessary to stop at New Zealand on my way out. Yours of the 7th inst., to the effect that you have received letters from there expressing satisfaction at my anticipated arrival, I suppose decides the matter. It would look ungracious at least to pass by Dunedin until my return. Still let me have your ideas.

Another thing I suggested, that it would be well to send me a copy of the reports of Nicholson and Porter as to certain limits in conferring degrees, &c., &c. I am aware that these reports went over to the next session; but from hearing them read I thought they were substantially a statement of the correct practice now, without further legislation: and hence would be a good guide to me in some of the minutiæ of the work. You can judge as to the necessity or propriety of sending the copy.

On yesterday I again read your report at the last session of G. L. of U. S. upon Australia, and I think I ought to have copies of one or two of the letters from there which you refer to but do not print in full.

Please turn to pages 7232 and 7236 Journal where you say,—"I also recommended that the two Grand Jurisdictions would harmonize in establishing the Grand Lodge of Australasia, and each become subordinate thereto," and "in fact at this juncture, it will become necessary to organize the Grand Lodge of Australia under a new Charter, and to modify the present page 32 Charter of the Order in the colony of Victoria in the matter of its name," &c., &c., and consider these suggestions in connection with my last to the Grand Sire. Do we agree or not? If we differ, which is the better plan?

By offering to the Grand Lodge of Australia as now existing a new Charter constituting it a sovereignty in Odd Fellowship throughout Australasia, with the limitations named by me, we have a very simple plan. The body to be made quasi supreme has an identity; it is compact, accessible. On the other hand, if we create a Supreme Body out of new elements, what and where are they? what individuals and what Lodges? And when we have found the elements and made the body, then we must still modify the Charter of the present Grand Lodge of Australia and make it subordinate. By my plan, we abolish the Grand Lodge of Australia with its consent, and that ends the transaction. This new Supreme G. L. of Australasia could then grant a Charter to a Grand Lodge of Victoria having jurisdiction of the Subordinates in that colony; and the Grand Lodge of New Zealand could accept a Charter from the same source.

If, as you suggest on page 7232, the Grand Lodges of Australia and New Zealand should harmonize and agree to establish the Grand Lodge of Australasia, and become subordinate thereto, exactly how is that to be done? The two jurisdictions are 1,200 miles apart; the only plan which strikes me as feasible is to obtain the consent of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand as I go out. Suppose they decline?

Further: In any event, will it be necessary or advisable to have these two Grand Lodges, both or either, consult their Subordinates? The latter are now subject to their respective Grand Body, acting under a given Charter. Can they be placed under a new body without consent? Doubtless, the answer is, they will not object; and if they do, the supreme power of the G. L. of U. S., through its Deputy Grand Sire, must control.

Again: If we succeed in establishing the Grand Lodge of Australasia, what shall be the title of its chief executive officer—Grand Master or Grand Sire? The latter I take it.

By your report I see they have a Grand Encampment in Australia. This would become subordinate to the Grand Lodge of Australasia, and would require a new Charter from the latter; and probably necessitate the Royal Purple Degree as a qualification for membership in said Grand Lodge.

Now a few minor matters. You state in your report of 1877, that the revised rituals have not been received in New Zealand. If so, I will need them, including the book for instituting Grand Encampments. I presume the secret work and diagrams have never been seen in Dunedin. The work, of course, I know, and can give orally; and 1 will be a diagram myself. There will be trouble here, as our New Zealand brothers will be very anxious to be equally privileged with Australia

I would like a copy of the Charter of the G. L. of the German Empire, unless it is in some volume of the Journal.

The Charter made out for the new sovereign Grand Lodge ought to contain, in express terms, the clause of the German Charter granting power to constitute Grand and Subordinate Lodges and Encampments. This would be a constant reminder of the sovereign character of the Lodge.

It would aid our Australian brothers, if I should take with me a copy of Constitutions and By-Laws of some of our Grand Lodges—say Md., Pa., and Cal.; so of Subordinate Constitutions and Laws.

I have now in my two letters—one to the Grand Sire, and this to yourself—set forth some of the thoughts which have occurred to me in relation to the proposed mission. My object has been to draw from both of you in return advice, suggestions, opinions. There may be great difficulty in adjusting the complications in Australasia, or there may be little.

Having learned the entire facts, I shall take the responsibility of putting Odd Fellowship there on solid ground. No half-way measures will do; and I believe the brothers with whom I shall have to deal can be induced to adopt our views. The resolution of the G. L of U. S., construed in connection page 33 with its defined foreign policy, is ample authority for us to establish the Grand Lodge of Australasia, with power equal to the Grand Lodge of the German Empire—excepting possibly the qualification for membership as to color; and I am clear that the resolution does not make this exception. Still, as this precise question of color was determined adversely to the wishes of Australia at the session of 1875, it must be deemed a finality in granting the new Charter.

I have just learned that Dunedin is several days from Auckland; and this compels me to take another steamer at the latter place, and adds to the time and expense of the trip. The route is as follows: 1st. Steamer from San Francisco to Auckland; 2d. Steamer from Auckland to Dunedin; 3d. Back to Auckland; 4th. Steamer to Sydney; 5th. Thence by another steamer to Melbourne; 6th. From Melbourne back to Sydney; 7th. Steamer home.

The job begins to look big; and if I could put hands on the Grand Sire just now, he might fare badly.


John B. Harmon, Deputy G. S.