May 27, 1879
My Dear Bro. Pratt.
I wish that, instead of talking to you across the continent by letter, I could walk this morning into Portland, and take you and Bro. Baily and a score of other dear friends by the hand. The desire to see Oregon again is very strong in me, as is the longing to pass a month in Puget’s Sound, and if our abominable Government would but borrow from some convict what little honesty remains in him, and appropriate to itself some remnant of worn-out consciences, so as to have a little common honesty and at least the rags of a decayed conscience and pay its honest debts. I would soon afterward be once more on the Pacific.
But after all, to get what is the one, not the chief object in life. I should be sorry to think it was: for, if it were, I should have lived to little purpose these last ten years.
I am so near three score and ten now, as to have no good reason to hope for more than five or six more working years of life; and in these, so far as I can I wish to labor in propagating the Rite, whose servant I have been for a quarter of a century. There are no more books to be prepared: and as we now have all the means for teaching the great truths that we proclaim, I must “take the field” and be the apostle of our Masonic faith while there is strength in me to do so.
What goes farthest to dishearten me is that our Brethren do not care to read. We have just reprinted, separately from the ritual, the several readings of the 32°, which will be sold for cost of printing, and which any 32° can buy. They contain the fruits and results of all my studies for twenty five years, much of it never known before to any one since the days that are forgotten. They represent an immense labor and have in them the very pith and manor and substance and essence of our doctrine. – and there is not one 32° in a hundred, or one 33° in twenty (active members of our Supreme Council included) who will even care to read them.
It would be a wise law to be enacted by the Supreme Council that a 32° asking for a patent, should be required to answer on his honor, after these readings have been a year within his reach, “Have you read carefully and thoroughly the Morals and Dogma? Have you read the readings of the 32°? Do you read the bulletin? and to provide that if his answer to either question is “no”, to refuse him a patent and the right to visit, and even the name of “Master of the Royal Secret,” which applied to him, is a lie.
But as among church members only about one in a hundred knows anything about the subjects on which he is required to profess a belief, and not more than one in a hundred care anything about questions which, many consider, are for the Reachers and Teachers only, it is unreasonable to expect more in Masonry.
This only is absolutely certain. It is not enough to write and print books. One in a hundred may read these: and where ten read them, nine of the ten will wonder what it all has to do with the making of money. The only way to reach the intellects is by the voice. Masons, will listen, and though most of them will soon forget what they hear, some few will and profit by it.
After all if we can take care of ourselves it is enough for most of us to work at, and if one can make even one other man wiser and better, God will not think that he has lived in vain. I have done more than that I know.
Always truly yours
Bro. W. Pratt, 33°
About the author:
Michael D. Robinson 32° KCCH, earned his degree in History at Colorado State University. He was the second Master Mason Raised in Esoterika Lodge #227, and the first member Raised in that Lodge to serve as Worshipful Master. He was presented with the Hiram Award by Esoterika Lodge in 2012, and was elected Master in 2013 and 2014. He served as District Deputy for District #13 in 2016-17 and 2017-18, and was appointed Grand Historian for 2018-19. He is also serving as Historian for Research Lodge #198 and Eugene Lodge #11. Brother Robinson received the Scottish Rite degrees in 2010 and was the recipient of the “Novus Astorum” from the Portland Valley Scottish Rite that year. He was appointed Historian of the Scottish Rite Orient of Oregon in December of 2014. In March of 2015 he was made Secretary of the Eugene Valley, and Director of the Work for that Valley in January of 2017.