Masonic Poem by “Mrs. Partington”, an alias for Brother Schillaber

Posted: March 22, 2009 in Secret Societies
Here is a poem written by Brother B.P. Schillaber, the oldest member of Robert Lash Lodge. Within the lines one can find Freemasonry’s attitude towards women, the uninitiated, and those who betray "the craft."


At the installation of the officers of Robert Lash Lodge of Masons, which took place in Chelsea last Monday evening, features of the exercises were the presence of Wyzeman Marshall, who performed his duties in a most impressive manner, and the reading of poems written by William E. Gilman and B.P. Schillaber ("Mrs. Partington"), both of whom are members of the lodge. Mr. Schillaber’s poem is subjoined:

Awake, my muse! you’ve slumbered far too long,
And here awaits a motive for your song.
Where ladies’ smiles and worth Masonic join,
Enough to quicken all the graces nine,
And insufficient, then, the meed to pay
Tribute to excellence that here holds sway,
Long has our order, with monastic bent,
Been with its masculine control content;
Yielding no whit to feminine demand
To share the secrets of the mystic band,
And find out, maybe, some of those deep rites
That keep our spouses out so late o nights,
Leading to that shrewd question, toned severe:
"Where have you been so late tonight, my dear
Emphatic on the dear, while, there below,
Runs a fierce tide of acid undertow.
Our ancient hinges ne’er for them have turned,
For them, no light a welcome here has burned,
And though the objects of our love and pride.
We’ve coldly suffered them to stand outside,
Not e’en allowed the gridiron’s shape to note,
Or catch a glimpse of the incumbent goat.
"Twas real mean," so the proscribed ones said,
And, in defensive, no one oped his head.
But, with more light, things took a different tone
The hinges creaked, and, barriers open thrown,
Invading feet passed through the iron door
Where pedal feminine ne’er trod before;
And soon the fair initiates had the work
Of the sublime degree of knife and fork –
The first degree, pursued by primal man
When the home lodge in Edentown began,
Though knives and forks were limited, I ween,
In that primordial fair garden scene.
But not quite yet admitted to our rite,
Beyond the festal claim of appetite.
The dear ones wait until more light descends,
Which may for past omission make amends.
Apprenticed yet and held in fond restraint,
They’ll not impatient prove nor make complaint
Waiting the time when the propitions fates
Will maybe ope the supervening gates
And make them brothers by fraternal vote,
Unshrinking e’en from the mysterious goat.
Woman requires no entrance to our fane
To quicken powers that we more dull maintain.
Hers is a mission, blessed in the scope,
To give relief to pain and strengthen hope,
To lift the fallen, cheer the sinking heart,
To soften life by her instinctive art;
And where she cometh, sorrow to beguile,
She leads us in the race by many a mile.
A mason she, by nature, for all good,
Unneeding trademark for the brotherhood.
She holds a diploma from the lodge above,
Her ritual based on truthfulness and love,
Which we affect and strive our zeal to show;
But she e’er plans for good and makes it so,
Hers is the lodge in this vast wilderness
Of care and pain to solace and to bless.
And, while we, at the best, faint effort make,
She steps in gracelly and bears off the cake.
With outstretched arms we greet our female guests
(But figuratively only), which attests
The feeling warm which every bosom fires
For those whose presence quickens and inspires.
I love to utter all these pleasant things,
Though nought of flattery for a moment springs,
And, yielding to the spirit of the time,
I’ll try to fuse variety with rhyme.
Crandon, our worshipful, has called us here,
United in an atmosphere of cheer,
Where sentiment and sympathy impart
A glow of warmth forever to the heart,
Where mirth shall reign and pleasure sit supreme,
And joys be measured by the cakes and cream.
Would that a song more musical than mine
Might in this choral of good feeling join,
And give you notes accordant with the chimes
Of joyous fancies at this festive time.
But take the will, good people, for the deed,
And be indulgent if I don’t succeed.
My muse starts forth with an exultant dash
To sound the praises of the Robert Lash,
A lodge whose virtues we are proud to claim,
No wise disparaging its sacred name;
A name allied to all that’s true and good
In the grand offices of brotherhood.
Bound to his memory by fraternal ties,
His spirit cheers, and warms and sanctifies;
Faithful to which our greatest good assures
That shows in action and in love endures.
His were the arms, amid aims of hostile strife
That braved the front and saved Masonic life
And well we may be proud to bear his name,
The more of we his shining virtues claim.
We may not mingle in the brawls that rise
Where fronting torches light election skies,
And in its perturbations have no share,
Even to make a soaring brother mayor;
We have no creeds to worry and perplex,
Nor dogmas deep our very souls to vex;
But all agree, without regard to sect,
To hold each other’s doctrines in respect,
Letting all untroverted matters slide,
To pitch in, maybe, when we are outside.
At high morality we have to stop,
And for good morals here is just the shop.
Our secrets – dark, mysterious, deep –
We are bound, unbroken, evermore to keep;
So ponderous are they that it would not do
To let a syllable e’er struggle through:
So terrible are they that if they were spoke,
They’d cause a tremor like an earthquake shoel
And, if betrayed, the one offending dies
As sure as eggs is eggs and pies is pies,
But I will wake no terrors in the souls
Of strangers met around our flowing bowls,
Nor cast suspicion on the fragrant tea
That gives a social zest to company.
"God bless us, every one! We pledge the toast,
As Christmas coming signals on our coast,
And Robert Lash extends a Christmas cheer
To male and female brethren gathered here.
Good health, good cheer, good fortune and good fare
Go with you from this scene in generous share.
Reserve for me the good ’twill most delight,
The end of all, and best of all, Good night."
                                         B.P. Schillaber
Oldest member of Robert Lash Lodge.
"An old man, sir."

—-Boston Transcript, December 10, 1888

Source: Brooklyn Eagle, Sunday, December 30, 1888, page 2


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