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Old Brass Square


[A] very curious relic, in the form of an old brass Square [was] found under the foundation of an ancient bridge near Limerick [Ireland] in 1830. On it was inscribed the date, 1517, and the following words:


"Strive to live with love and care Upon the Level, by the Square."


How simple and beautiful it is, revealing the oldest wisdom man has learned and the very genius of our Craft. In fact, and truth, the Square Rules the Mason as well as the Lodge in which he labors.  As soon as he enters a Lodge, the candidate walks the square steps around the Square pavement of a rectangular Lodge. All during the ceremony his attitude keeps him in mind of the same symbol, as if to fashion his life after its form. When he is brought to light, he beholds the Square upon the Altar, and at the same time sees that it is worn by the Master of the Lodge, as the emblem of his office. In the North-East Corner he is shown the perfect Ashlar, and told that it is the type of a finished Mason, who must be Square-man in thought and conduct, in word and act. With every art of emphasis, the Ritual writes this lesson in our hearts ...


For Masonry is not simply a Ritual; it is a way of living.


It offers us a plan. a method, a faith by which we may build our days and years into a character so strong and true that nothing, not even death, can destroy it. Each of us has in his own heart a little try-square called Conscience, by which to test each thought and deed and word, whether it be true or false. By as much as a man honestly applies that test in his own heart, and in his relations with his fellows, by so much will his life be happy, stable, and true. Long ago the question was asked and answered: "Lord, who shall abide in thy Tabernacle? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart." It is the first obligation of a Mason to be on the Square, in all his duties and dealings with his fellow men, and if he fails there he cannot win anywhere. Let one of our poets sum it all up:


It matters not whate'er your lot
Or what your task may be,
One duty there remains for you
One duty stands for me.
Be you a doctor skilled and wise,
Or do your work for wage,
A laborer upon the street,
An artist on the stage;
Our glory still awaits for you,
One honor that is fair, to have men say as you pass by:
"That fellow's on the Square."
Ah, here's a phrase that stands for much
'Tis good old English too,
It means that men have confidence
In everything you do,
It means that what you have you've earned,
And that you've done your best,
And when you go to sleep at night
Untroubled you may rest.
It means that conscience is your guide,
And honor is your care;
There is no greater praise than this:
"That fellow's on the Square."
And when I die I would not wish
A lengthy epitaph;
I do not wish a headstone large,
Carved with fulsome chaff,
Pick out no single deed of mine,
If such a deed there be,
To 'grave upon my monument,
For those who come to see,
Just this one phrase of all I choose,
To show my life was fair:
Here sleepeth now a fellow who
Was always on the Square."



Source: Short Talk Bulletin - Apr. 1924
Masonic Service Association of North America

Submitted by Wayne M. Meadows, PDDGM May 2016