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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29



I.O.O.F. Office, Grand Corresponding and Recording Secty., R.W.G.L.U.S., Baltimore, Md., Joseph Braithwaite, M.W.G.M.G.L. New Zealand, I.O.O.F.

My Dear Sir,—

Yours of 30 and 31 May, 1877, are received. These communications inform me, in answer to my enquiries and suggestions of 23 Jany. and 3d April previously, as to the status and history of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand, I.O.O.F., and its charter, that, as an order of Oddfellows, "it was affiliated with the Grand Lodge of 'Victoria, A.I.O.O.F.,' as a district body, and contributed every quarter to its general management fund, &c." That, when S D G. Sire Meacham arrived from America an alteration took place; the G.L. of Victoria releasing you entirely from all subordination, and consented and allowed you to be created into an independent Grand Lodge, with power co-equal to itself, and that not by the R.W.G.L. of Australia. That, some time after this concession was made, the G.L. of Australia, I.O.O.F., took this name, and was formed out of the "G.L. of Victoria, A.I.O.O.F." That, this being only subordinate to G.L. of U.S., you occupied the position, by consent of the G.L. of Victoria, equivalent to the status held by our State G. Lodges, and that Bro. Meacham could hardly have done anything else under the circumstances than what he did. That he, therefore, constituted the Grand Lodge of Victoria and the Grand Lodge of New Zealand co-equal Grand Lodges for their respective jurisdictions, especially as the G.L. of Victoria had given her complete release to your Grand Lodge, and assent to your formation into a separate jurisdiction. These facts are all new to us, and we have been acting upon the conviction that you and the G.L. of Victoria were federated, and constituted the present G.L. of Australia at Melbourne. Hence we have had no direct intercourse or correspondence. On this subject my letter of this same date is full, and I will not enlarge. You inform me that, under this form and history of organization, there are now only two coequal G. Lodges in Australia, and you proceed to express your dissent from my idea of the formation of a supreme G.L. for Australasia, and to the federation of the Colonial Grand Lodges of that country. I have only to repeat what I have already said : that the G.L. of Australia, as now styled by its charter by the G. Lodge of U.S., was intended to be a supreme Grand Lodge for the entire realm, or political division, known as Australasia, and that S.D.G.S. Meacham entirely mistook and misrepresented his powers and special instructions in the course pursued, as recited by you, the consequence of which is the present confusion and conflict of views. The example of the status of the M. Unity to its page 46 subordinates does not apply to a federative system of government. That body recognises no national or colonial independence, but claims supremacy all over the world over its subordinates, all of which derive direct charters from her. Not so with the American order. It recognises and creates independent jurisdictions, with limited powers defined in their charters, which, with the exception of the powers limited, are absolute and independent. Such being the vital difference in the case, neither your argument nor the example put apply. Hence, none of the difficulties which you name can arise, nor do we aspire to supremacy of jurisdiction over the world. Your elaborate letter and its arguments on this subject will be submitted, however, to the G.L. of U.S., and will, no doubt, have respectful consideration. I think, however, I may venture the opinion that its present position of establishing independent jurisdictions out of foreign nations and peoples will be adhered to, reserving always to herself exclusive right to the name, ritual, and working machinery known as "cards" so as to facilitate universality of visitation and intercourse. In your case an exception might be made, in consequence of your distance from Australia and its inaccessibility, and your formation into a separate jurisdiction. I forbear further to discuss this question, leaving the G.L. of U.S. to form and express its own opinion thereon, to which I shall submit the correspondence. Touching the financial question to which you refer, we agree with you that it is now the paramount question with all beneficial societies, and we thank you for inviting our attention to it. We appreciate your views on the subject as well taken and instructive, and shall endeavour to profit by them. In answer to your enquiry, "What is the material difference between the new charge book and the old ?" I enclose an extract from the Secret Journal of the G.L. of U S. as an appropriate reply, as follows :—

"That all that should comprise the Unwritten Work shall be the signs and answers to the same, the pass-words and grips, with the manner of working, and the necessary explanations of the same. That all the rest of the secret work shall be placed in the respective charge books (or Digest when they will admit of such publication), thus placing before the entire brotherhood what may be considered the essential instructions in all that appertains to the work of Oddfellowship."

Touching the expense of introducing the new charge books, I answer the additional expense is set forth in my letter of this day to be 50 cts. per copy. I have to acknowledge the receipt of copy of your new laws, also your last annual proceedings, and accept the opinions upon the subjects discussed, given by your Standing Committee, as well as your individual opinions, with high respect. A copy of your letter of 29th January I send herewith. Before 1 close I cannot forbear adding a word in reply to yours of May 31, 1877. You refer to the title of "the M.W.G. Sire of the R.W.G.L. of the German Empire," and ask, "is this a misprint, and should there not only be one M.W.G. Sire over the whole Order ?" I reply, that I have already described the vital difference between the extent of direct jurisdiction of the M.U. and that of the G.L. of the U.S. One is a federated representative body, the other an absolute and consolidated one. Hence you are misled. The style is not a misprint, but is strictly correct. Each foreign jurisdiction is quasi independent and sovereign.

Yours fraternally,

Jas. L. Ridgely, C.S.