„A MIRACULOUS tradition, something like that connected with the labarum of Constantine, hallows the Ancient Cross of St. Andrew. Hungus, who in the ninth century reigned over the Picts in Scotland, is said to have seen in a vision, on the night before a battle, the Apostle Saint Andrew, who promised him the victory; and for an assured token thereof, he told him that there should appear over the Pictish host, in the air, such a fashioned cross as he had suffered upon. Hungus, awakened, looking up at the sky, saw the promised cross, as did all of both armies; and Hungus and the Picts, after rendering thanks to the Apostle for their victory, and making their offerings with humble devotion, vowed that from thenceforth, as well they as their posterity, in time of war, would wear a cross of St. Andrew for their badge and cognizance.
John Leslie, Bishop of Ross, says that this cross appeared to Achaius, King of the Scots, and Hungus, King of the Picts, the night before the battle was fought betwixt them and Athelstane, King of England, as they were on their knees at prayer.
Every cross of Knighthood is a symbol of the nine qualities of a Knight of St. Andrew of Scotland; for every order of chivalry required of its votaries the same virtues and the same excellencies.
Humility, Patience, and Self-denial are the three essential qualities of a Knight of St. Andrew of Scotland. The Cross, sancti fied by the blood of the holy ones who have died upon it; the Cross, which Jesus of Nazareth bore, fainting, along the streets of Jerusalem and up to Calvary, upon which He cried, „Not My will, O Father! but Thine be done,” is an unmistakable and eloquent symbol of these three virtues. He suffered upon it, because He consorted with and taught the poor and lowly, and found His disciples among the fishermen of Galilee and the despised publicans. His life was one of Humility, Patience, and Self-denial.
The Hospitallers and Templars took upon themselves vows oi obedience, poverty, and chastity. The Lamb, which became the device of the Seal of the Order of the Poor Fellow Soldiery oi the Temple of Solomon, conveyed the same lessons of humility and self-denial as the original device of two Knights riding a single horse. The Grand Commander warned every candidate not to be induced to enter the Order by a vain hope of enjoying earthly pomp and splendor. He told him that he would have to endure many things, sorely against his inclinations; and that he would be compelled to give up his own will, and submit entirely to that of his superiors.
The religious Houses of the Hospitallers, despoiled by Henry the Eighth’s worthy daughter, Elizabeth, because they would not take the oath to maintain her supremacy, had been Alms-houses, and Dispensaries, and Foundling-asyla, relieving the State of many orphan and outcast children, and ministering to their necessities, God’s ravens in the wilderness, bread and flesh in the morning, bread and flesh in the evening. They had been Inns to the wayfaring man, who heard from afar the sound of the Vesperbell, inviting him to repose and devotion at once, and who might sing his matins with the Morning Star, and go on his way rejoicing. And the Knights were no less distinguished by bravery in battle, than by tenderness and zeal in their ministrations to the sick and dying.
The Knights of St. Andrew vowed to defend all orphans, maidens, and widows of good family, and wherever they heard of murderers, robbers, or masterful thieves who oppressed the people, to bring them to the laws, to the best of their power.
„If fortune fail you,” so ran the vows of Rouge-Croix, „in divers lands or countries wherever you go or ride that you find any gentleman of name and arms, which hath lost goods, in worship and Knighthood, in the King’s service, or in any other place of worship, and is fallen into poverty, you shall aid, and support, and succor him, in that you may; and he ask of you your goods to his sustenance, you shall give him part of such goods as God hath sent you to your power, and as you may bear.”
Thus CHARITY and GENEROSITY are even more essential qualities of a true and gentle Knight, and have been so in all ages; and so also hath CLEMENCY. It is a mark of a noble nature to spare the conquered. Valor is then best tempered, when it can turn out a stern fortitude into the mild strains of pity, which never shines more brightly than when she is clad in steel. A martial man, compassionate, shall conquer both in peace and war; and by a twofold way, get victory with honor. The most famed men in the world have had in them both courage and compassion. An enemy reconciled hath a greater value than the long train of captives of a Roman triumph.
VIRTUE, TRUTH, and HONOR are the three MOST essential qualities of a Knight of St. Andrew. „Ye shall love God above all things, and be steadfast in the Faith,” it was said to the Knights, in their charge, „and ye shall be true unto your Sovereign Lord, and true to your word and promise. Also, ye shall sit in no place where that any judgment should be given wrongfully against any body, to your knowledge.”
The law hath not power to strike the virtuous, nor can fortune subvert the wise. Virtue and Wisdom, only, perfect and defend man. Virtue’s garment is a sanctuary so sacred, that even Princes dare not strike the man that is thus robed. It is the livery of the King of Heaven. It protects us when we are unarmed; and is an armor that we cannot lose, unless we be false to ourselves. It is the tenure by which we hold of Heaven, without which we are but outlaws, that cannot claim protection. Nor is there wisdom without virtue, but only a cunning way of procuring our own undoing.
Peace is nigh
Where Wisdom’s voice has found a listening heart.
Amid the howl of more than winter storms,
The halcyon hears the voice of vernal hours,
Already on the wing.
Sir Launcelot thought no chivalry equal to that of Virtue. This word means not continence only, but chiefly manliness, and so includes what in the old English was called souffrance, that patient endurance which is like the emerald, ever green and flow ering; and also that other virtue, droicture, uprightness, a virtueso strong and so puissant, that by means of it all earthly things almost attain to be unchangeable. Even our swords are formed to remind us of the Cross, and you and any other of us may live to show how much men bear and do not die; for this world is a place of sorrow and tears, of great evils and a constant calamity, and if we would win true honor in it, we must permit no virtue of a Knight to become unfamiliar to us, as men’s friends, coldly entreated and not greatly valued, become mere ordinary acquaintances.
We must not view with impatience or anger those who injure us; for it is very inconsistent with philosophy, and particularly with the Divine Wisdom that should govern every Prince Adept, to betray any great concern about the evils which the world, which the vulgar, whether in robes or tatters, can inflict upon the brave. The favor of God and the love of our Brethren rest upon a basis which the strength of malice cannot overthrow; and with these and a generous temper and noble equanimity, we have everything. To be consistent with our professions as Masons, to retain the dignity of our nature, the consciousness of our own honor, the spirit of the high chivalry that is our boast, we must disdain the evils that are only material and bodily, and therefore can be no bigger than a blow or a cozenage, than a wound or a dream.
Look to the ancient days, Sir E.., for excellent examples of VIRTUE, TRUTH, and HONOR, and imitate with a noble emulation the Ancient Knights, the first Hospitallers and Templars, and Bayard, and Sydney, and Saint Louis; in the words of Pliny to his friend Maximus, Revere the ancient glory, and that old age which in man is venerable, in cities sacred. Honor antiquity and great deeds, and detract nothing from the dignity and liberty of any one. If those who now pretend to be the great and mighty, the learned and wise of the world, shall agree in condemning the memory of the heroic Knights of former ages, and in charging with folly us who think that they should be held in eternal remembrance, and that we should defend them from an evil hearing, do you remember that if these who now claim to rule and teach the world should condemn or scorn your poor tribute of fidelity, still it is for you to bear therewith modestly, and yet not to be ashamed, since a day will come when these who now scorn those who were of infinitely higher and finer natures than they are, will be pronounced to have lived poor and pitiful lives, and the world will make haste to forget them.
But neither must you believe that, even in this very different age, of commerce and trade, of the vast riches of many, and the poverty of thousands, of thriving towns and tenement houses swarming with paupers, of churches with rented pews, and theatres, opera-houses, custom-houses, and banks, of steam and telegraph, of shops and commercial palaces, of manufactories and trades-unions, the Gold-room and the Stock Exchange, of newspapers, elections, Congresses, and Legislatures, of the frightful struggle for wealth and the constant wrangle for place and power, of the worship paid to the children of mammon, and covetousness of official station, there are no men of the antique stamp for you to revere, no heroic and knightly souls, that preserve their nobleness and equanimity in the chaos of conflicting passions, of ambition and baseness that welters around them.
It is quite true that Government tends always to become a conspiracy against liberty; or, where votes give place, to fall habitually into such hands that little which is noble or chivalric is found among those who rule and lead the people. It is true that men, in this present age, become distinguished for other things, and may have name and fame, and flatterers and lacqueys, and the oblation of flattery, who would, in a knightly age, have been despised for the want in them of all true gentility and courage; and that such men are as likely as any to be voted for by the multitude, who rarely love or discern or receive truth; who run after fortune, hating what is oppressed, and ready to worship the prosperous; who love accusation and hate apologies; and who are always glad to hear and ready to believe evil of those who care not for their favor and seek not their applause.
But no country can ever be wholly without men of the old heroic strain and stamp, whose word no man will dare to doubt, whose virtue shines resplendent in all calamities and reverses and amid all temptations, and whose honor scintillates and glitters as purely and perfectly as the diamond–men who are not wholly ,he slaves of the material occupations and pleasures of life, wholly engrossed in trade, in the breeding of cattle, in the framing and enforcing of revenue regulations, in the chicanery of the law, the objects of political envy, in the base trade of the lower literature, or in the heartless, hollow vanities of an eternal dissipation. Every generation, in every country, will bequeath to those who succeed it splendid examples and great images of the dead, to be admired and imitated; there were such among the Romans, under the basest Emperors; such in England when the Long Parliament ruled; such in France during its Saturnalia of irreligion and murder, and some such have made the annals of America illustrious.
When things tend to that state and condition in which, in any country under the sun, the management of its affairs and the customs of its people shall require men to entertain a disbelief in the virtue and honor of those who make and those who are charged to execute the laws; when there shall be everywhere a spirit of suspicion and scorn of all who hold or seek office, or have amassed wealth; when falsehood shall no longer dishonor a man, and oaths give no assurance of true testimony, and one man hardly expect another to keep faith with him, or to utter his real sentiments, or to be true to any party or to any cause when another approaches him with a bribe; when no one shall expect what he says to be printed without additions, perversions, and misrepresentations; when public misfortunes shall be turned to private profit, the press pander to licentiousness, the pulpit ring with political harangues, long prayers to God, eloquently delivered to admiring auditors, be written out for publication, like poems and political speeches; when the uprightness of judges shall be doubted, and the honesty of legislators be a standing jest; then men may come to doubt whether the old days were not better than the new, the Monastery than the Opera Bouffe, the little chapel than the drinking-saloon, the Convents than the buildings as large as they, without their antiquity, without their beauty, without their holiness, true Acherusian Temples, where the passer-by hears from within the never-ceasing din and clang and clashing of machinery, and where, when the bell rings, it is to call wretches to their work and not to their prayers; where, says an animated writer, they keep up a perennial laudation of the Devil, before furnaces which are never suffered to cool.
It has been well said, that whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the Past, the Distant, or the Future, predominate over the Present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. The modern rivals of the German Spa, with their flaunting pretences and cheap finery, their follies and frivolities, their chronicles of dances and inelegant feasts, and their bulletins of women’s names and dresses, are poor substitutes for the Monastery and Church which our ancestors would have built in the deep sequestered valleys, shut up between rugged mountains and forests of sombre pine; and a man of meditative temper, learned, and of poetic feeling, would be glad if he could exchange the showy hotel, amid the roar and tumult of the city, or the pretentious tavern of the country-town, for one old humble Monastery by the wayside, where he could refresh himself and his horse without having to fear either pride, impertinence, or knavery to pay for pomp, glitter, and gaudy ornamentation; then where he could make his orisons in a church which resounded with divine harmony, and there were no pews for wealth to isolate itself within; where he could behold the poor happy and edified and strengthened with the thoughts of Heaven; where he could then converse with learned and holy and gentle men, and before he took his departure could exalt and calm his spirits by hearing the evening song.
Even Free-Masonry has so multiplied its members that its obligations are less regarded than the simple promises which men make to one another upon the streets and in the markets. It clamors for public notice and courts notoriety by scores of injudicious journals; it wrangles in these, or, incorporated by law, carries its controversies into the Courts. Its elections are, in some Orients, conducted with all the heat and eagerness, the office-seeking and management of political struggles for place. And an empty pomp, with semi-military dress and drill, of peaceful citizens, glittering with painted banners, plumes, and jewels, gaudy and ostentatious, commends to the public favor and female admiration an Order that challenges comparison with the noble Knights, the heroic soldiery encased in steel and mail, stern despisers of danger and death, who made themselves immortal memories, and won Jerusalem from the infidels and fought at Acre and Ascalon, and were the bulwark of Christendom against the Saracenic legions that swarmed after the green banner of the Prophet Mohammed.
If you, Sir E……, would be respectable as a Knight, and not a mere tinselled pretender and Knight of straw, you must practise, and be diligent and ardent in the practice of, the virtues you have professed in this Degree. How can a Mason vow to be tolerant, and straightway denounce another for his political opinions? How vow to be zealous and constant in the service of the Order and be as useless to it as if he were dead and buried? What does the symbolism of the Compass and Square profit him, if his sensual appetites and baser passions are not governed by, but domineer over his moral sense and reason, the animal over the divine, the earthly over the spiritual, both points of the compass remaining below the Square ? What a hideous mockery to call one „Brother,” whom he maligns to the Profane, lends money unto at usury, defrauds in trade, or plunders at law by chicanery?
VIRTUE, TRUTH, HONOR !–possessing these and never proving false to your vows, you will be worthy to call yourself a Knight, to whom Sir John Chandos might, if living, give his hand, and whom St. Louis and Falkland, Tancred and Baldassar Castiglione would recognize as worthy of their friendship.
Chivalry, a noble Spaniard said, is a religious Order, and there are Knights in the fraternity of Saints in Heaven. Therefore do you here, and for all time to come, lay aside all uncharitable and repining feeling; be proof henceforward against the suggestions of undisciplined passion and inhuman zeal; learn to hate the vices and not the vicious; be content with the discharge of the duties which your Masonic and Knightly professions require; be governed by the old principles of honor and chivalry, and reverence with constancy that Truth which is as sacred and immutable as God Himself. And above all, remember always, that jealousy is not our life, nor disputation our end, nor disunion our health, nor revenge our happiness; but loving-kindness is all these, greater than Hope, greater than Faith, which can remove mountains, properly the only thing which God requires of us, and in the possession of which lies the fulfillment of all our duties.”
by Albert Pike
(Morals and Dogma)