"Frankly, I think that we can all learn a little wisdom, from this short work."
The "Twenty-four inch Rule" and the "Common Gavel"
Force, unregulated or ill-regulated, is not only wasted in the void, like that of gunpowder burned in the open air, and steam unconfined by science; but striking in the dark, and its blows meeting only the air, they recoil and bruise itself. It is destruction and ruin. It is the volcano, the earthquake, the cyclone;- not growth and progress. It is Polyphemus blinded, striking at random, and falling headlong among the sharp rocks by the impetus of his own blows.
The blind force of the people is a force that must be economized, and also managed as the blind force of steam, lifting the ponderous iron arms and turning the large wheels, is made to bore and rifle the cannon and to weave the most delicate lace. It must be regulated by intellect. Intellect is to the people and the people's force, what the slender needle of the compass is to the ship- its soul, always counseling the huge mass of wood and iron, and always pointing to the north.
To attack the citadels built up on all sides against the human race by superstitions, despotisms, and prejudices, the force must have a brain and a law. Then its deeds of daring produce permanent results, and there is real progress. Then there are sublime conquests. Thought is a force and Philosophy should be an energy, finding its aim and its effects in the amelioration of mankind. The two great motors are Truth and Love. When all these Forces are combined, and guided by the Intellect, and regulated by the Rule of the Right, and Justice, and of combined and systematic movement and effort, the great revolution prepared for by the ages will begin to march.
The Power of Deity Himself is in equilibrium with His Wisdom. Hence the only results are Harmony.
It is because Force, is ill regulated that revolutions prove failures. Therefore it is that so often insurrections, coming from those high mountains that domineer over the moral horizon, Justice, Wisdom, Reason, Right, built of the purest snow of the ideal after a long fall from rock to rock, after having reflected the sky in their transparency, and been swollen by a hundred affluents, in the majestic path of triumph, suddenly lose themselves in quag- mires, like a California river in the sands.
The onward march of the human race requires that the heights around it should blaze with noble and enduring lessons of courage. Deeds of daring dazzle history, and form one class of the guiding lights of man. They are the stars and coruscations from that great sea of electricity, the Force inherent in the people. To strive, to brave all risks, to perish, to persevere, to be true to one's self, to grapple body to body with destiny, to surprise defeat by the little terror it inspires, now to confront unrighteous power, now to defy intoxicated triumph- these are the examples that the nations need and the light that electrifies them.
There are immense forces in the great caverns of evil beneath society; in the hideous degradation, squalor, wretchedness and destitution, vices and crimes that reek and simmer in the darkness in that populace below the people, of great cities. There disinterestedness vanishes, every one howls, searches, gropes, and gnaws for himself. Ideas are ignored, and of progress there is no thought. This populace has two mothers, both of them step-mothers- Ignorance and Misery. Want is their only guide- for the appetite alone they crave satisfaction. Yet even these may be employed. The lowly sand we trample upon, cast into the furnace, melted, purified by fire, may become resplendent crystal.
They have the brute force of the Hammer, but their blows help on the great cause, when struck within the lines traced by the Rule held by Wisdom and Discretion.
Yet it is this very Force of the People, this Titanic power of giants,
that builds the fortifications of tyrants, and is embodied in their armies.
Hence the possibility of such tyrannies as those of which it has been said,
"Rome smells worse under Domitian there is deformity of baseness corresponding to the ugliness of the tyranny. The foulness of the slaves is a direct result of the atrocious baseness of the despot. A miasma exhales from these couching consciences that reflect the master; the public authorities are unclean, hearts are collapsed, consciences shrunken, souls puny. This is so under Caracalla, it is so under Commodus, it is so under Heliogabalas, while from the Roman Senate, under Caesar, there comes only the rank odor peculiar to the Eagle's eyrie."
It is the force of the people that sustains all these despotisms, the basest as well as the best. That force acts through armies; and these oftener enslave than liberate. Despotism there applies the Rule. Force is the Mace of steel at the saddle-bow of the knight or of the bishop in armor. Passive obedience by force supports thrones and oligarchies, Spanish kings, and Venetian Senates. Might, in an army wielded by tyranny, is the enormous sum total of utter weakness; and so Humanity wages war against Humanity. So a people willingly submits to despotism, and its workmen submit to be despised, and its soldiers to be whipped; therefore it is that battles lost by a nation are often progress attained. Less glory is more liberty. When the drum is silent, reason sometimes speaks.
Tyrants use the force of the people to chain and subjugate- that is, enyoke the people. Then they plough with them as men do with oxen yoked. Thus the spirit of Liberty and Innovation is reduced by bayonets, and principles are struck dumb by cannon-shot; while the monks mingle with the troopers, and the Church, militant and jubilant, Catholic or Puritan, sings Te Deums for victories over rebellion.
The military power, not subordinate to the civil power, again the Hammer or Mace of Force, independent of the Rule, is an armed tyranny, born full-grown, as Athene' sprung from the brain of Zeus. It spawns a dynasty, and begins with Caesar to rot into Vitellius and Commodus. At the present day it inclines to Begin where formerly dynasties Ended.
Constantly the people put forth immense strength, only to end in immence weakness. The force of the people is exhausted in indefinetly prolonging things long since dead; in governing mankind by embalming old dead tyrannies of Faith; restoring dilapidated dogmas; reguilding faded, worm-eaten shrines; whitening and roughing ancient and barren superstitions; saving society by multiplying parasites; perpetuating superannuated institutions; enforcing the worship of symbols as the actual mean of salvation; and tying the dead corpse of the Past, mouth to mouth, with the living Present.
Therefore it is that it is one of the fatalities of Humanity to be condemned to eternal struggles with phantoms, with superstitions, bigotries, prejudices, hypocracies, the formulas of error, and the pleas of tyranny. Despotisms, seen in the past, become respectable, as the mountain, bristling with volcanic rock, smooth and beautiful. The sight of a single dungeon of tyranny is worth more, to dispel illusions, and create a holy hatred of despotism, and to direct Force upright, than the most eloquent volumes. The French should have preserved the Bastile as a perpetual lesson; Italy should not destroy the dungeons of the Inquisition. The force of the people maintained the power that built its gloomy cells, and placed the living in their granite sepulchres.
Morals and Dogma of the
Ancient and Accepted Order of the Scottish Rite of FreeMasons