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Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born at Bombay on December 30th, 1865. He was initiated a Freemason in Lodge Hope and Perseverance, No. 782, E.C., at Lahore, on the 5th of April, 1886. Being under 21 years of age, a Dispensation for his initiation was procured from the District Grand Master. His proposer was Wor. Bro. Colonel 0. Menzies; he was seconded by Bro. C. Brown. He was initiated by the W.M., Bro. Colonel G. B. Wolseley. He was passed on May 3rd following, there being only seven Brethren present, and raised on the 6th December, 1886. He was for a short time Secretary of the Lodge. In 1887 Kipling became a Mark Master and a Royal Ark Mariner. Having left Lahore to reside at Allahabad, on April 17th, 1888, he became a member of the old Lodge, "Independence with Philanthropy," Allahabad. In March, 1889, he was put on the absent list of that Lodge, and resigned in 1895. He was then residing in the United States of America. That appears to be the end of his Masonic career. He apparently ceased to be an active Freemason in 1889. His connection with the Craft as an institution was, therefore, less than four years.
Rudyard Kipling's name first burst on the public as one of strange sound. "What," asked one old lady of another in the train, "is this stuff called Rudyard Kipling that I see placarded about so much?" "I don't know, my dear," placidly replied the other old lady, "but I rather think its a kindred preparation to Hanyadi Janos, a sort of mineral water, don't you know." This old lady quite unawares uttered a symbolic truth. Some of Kipling's writings, such as "If," which has been translated into 125 languages, have undoubtedly acted as a sort of mental mineral water in promoting mental and moral health. One of his own poems, "Fuzzy Wuzzy," has been parodied, and well hits off the character of his early writings:
Kipling's works have always been good sellers, and his admirers are many and enthusiastic. But he has also had some eminent and severe detractors. Among the latter is Arnold Bennett, who says that Kipling "is against progress," that "he is the shrill champion of things that are rightly doomed," that "his vogue among the hordes of the respectable was due to political reasons," and that "he retains his authority over the said hordes because he is the bard of their prejudices and of their clayey ideals." "A democrat of ten times Kipling's gift could never have charmed and held the governing classes as Kipling has done." "Nor does he conceive that the current psychology of ruling and managing the earth will ever be modified. His simplicity, his naivete, his enthusiasm, his prejudices, his blindness and his vanities are those of Stalky." "For Kipling the English land system is perfect. He is incapable of perceiving that it can be otherwise." "The same semi-divine civil service men sit equal with British military and naval officers on the highest throne in the Kingdom of Kipling's esteem." "His constitutional sentimentality has corroded his stories in parts." It has been objected by others that his stories of Anglo-Indian life are both flippant and cynical. He has been criticised for his Jingoism. Max Beerbohm depicts him as dancing a jig with Britannia upon Hampstead Heath, after swopping hats with her. So much for the case of his adverse critics.
His admirers say that he has brought together the farflung members of the British Empire as no other writer has done. One commentator says: "It would almost seem that his mission was to bind the British Empire together in one blood-brotherhood, a purposive Masonic Lodge, whose business it is to cleanse the world of shoddy. It is said that "his position in English political thought and feeling is such as no other English imaginative writer not even Milton has ever occupied." His most strongly marked characteristic is energy. He glorifies the man of action above all men.
However, I must not further dwell on Kipling's merits and demerits as a writer of stories or as a poet. I am concerned with Kipling and Freemasonry. What has he done for Freemasonry and what has Freemasonry done for him? Has he helped the Craft as an Institution? Has he furthered its ideals? Or has be merely exploited Freemasonry for his own purposes? I will put the evidence before you by quotations from his writings.
The first story in which Kipling makes use of his Ma sonic knowledge is "The Man Who Would Be King," "Brother to a Prince and Fellow to a Beggar, if he be found worthy." Sir J. M. Barrie says that this story is "the most audacious thing in fiction, and yet reads as true as "Robinson Crusoe." Other literary critics pronounce it Kipling's best short story. The author, a pressman in a train journey, runs across two Freemasons down and out-Brother Peachey Carnehan and Brother Daniel Dravot. The acquaintance is started by Carnehan accosting the author, and asking him to take a message to Dravot. "I ask you, as a stranger going to the West," he said with emphasis. "Where have you come from?" said I. "From the East," said he, "and I am hoping that you will give him the message on the Square for the sake of my Mother as well as your own." Later the two seek advice from the author, fit out an expedition, and proceed to an uncivilized district beyond Afghanistan called Kabistan. Summer passed and winter thereafter came and passed again. Then one night Brother Dravot burst into the press-office more dead than alive and tells his story. I can only quote the chief Masonic references. "Peachey," says Dravot, "we don't want to fight no more. The Craft's the trick, so help me!" and he brings forth the Chief called Billy Fish. "Shake hands with him," ,says Dravot, and I shook hands and nearly dropped, for Billy Fish gave me the grip. I said nothing, but tried him with the Fellowcraft grip. He answers all right, and I tried the Master's grip, but that was a slip. "A Fellow-craft he is!" I says to Dan. "Does he know the word?" "He does says Dan, "and all the priests know. It's a miracle! The chiefs and the priests can work a Fellow-craft Lodge in a way that's very like ours, and the I've cut the marks on the rocks, but they don't know the Third Degree, and they've come to find out. It's God's truth. I've known these long years that the Afghans knew up to the Fellow-craft Degree, but this is a miracle. A god and a Grand Master of the Craft am I, and a Lodge in the Third Degree I will open, and we'll raise the head priests and the chiefs of the villages."
"It's against all the law," I says, "holding a Lodge without warrant from anyone; and you know we never held office in any Lodge."
"It's a master-stroke o' Policy," says Dravot. "I've forty chiefs at my heel, and passed and raised according to merit they shall be. Billet these men in the villages and see that we run up a Lodge of some kind. The Temple of Imbra will do for the Lodge room. The women must make aprons as you show them."
"I showed the priest's families how to make aprons of the degrees, but for Dravot's apron the blue border and marks were made of turquoise lumps on white hide, not cloth." They gave themselves out to be Grand Masters in the Craft. Peachey said: "I felt uneasy, for I knew we'd have to fudge the Ritual, and I didn't know what the men knew." "The minute Dravot puts on the Master's apron that the girls had made for him, the priest fetches a whoop and a howl, and tries to overturn the stone that Dravot was sitting on."
"It's all up now," I says. "That comes of meddling with the Craft without a Warrant!"
They turn over the stone and find on the bottom the Master's Mark, same as was on Dravot's apron, cut into the stone. "Luck again," says Dravot, across the Lodge to me; "they say it's the missing Mark that no one can understand the why of. We're more than safe now." Then he bangs the butt of his gun for a gavel and says: "By virtue of the authority vested in me by my right hand and the help of Peachey, I declare myself Grand Master of all Freemasonry in Kafristan in this, the Mother Lodge, o' the country, and King of Kafristan equally with Peachey!" At that he puts on his crown and I puts on mine I was doing Senior Warden and we opens the Lodge in most ample form. It was an amazing miracle! The priests moved in Lodge through the first two Degrees almost without telling, as if the memory was coming back to them. After that, Peachey and Dravot raised such as was worthy high priests and Chiefs of far-off villages. Billy Fish was the first, and I can tell you we scared the soul out of him. It was not in any way according to Ritual, but it served our turn. We didn't raise more than ten of the biggest men, because we didn't want to make the Degree common."
Their rule was thus established, and Dravot says: "I'll write for a dispensation from the Grand Lodge for what I've done as Grand Master." Later Billy Fish says: "We thought you were men till you showed the sign of the Master."
"I wished then," says Peachey, "that we had explained about the loss of the genuine secrets of a Master Mason at the first go-off."
Trouble comes through Dravot taking to wife a girl, who bites him, draws blood, and thus he is then no longer regarded as a god. Wild commotion arises and Dravot is killed. Peachey escapes with Dravot's head. At the conclusion of his story he shakes from a bag on the author's table the dried, withered head of Daniel Dravot. "You knew Dravot, Sir! You knew Right Worshipful Brother Dravot! Look at him now." Peachey dies next day in the asylum.
In the long story, "Kim," the hero is introduced with a Masonic reference. Kim's father, Kimball O'Hara, a young colour-sergeant of the Mavericks, an Irish regiment, fell to drink and loafing, and later to opium, and died as poor whites die in India. "His estate at death," it is related, "consisted of three papers one he called "ne varietur", because those words were written below his signature thereon, and another his 'clearance certificate.' The third was Kim's birth-certificate. Those things, he was used to say, in his glorious opium hours, would yet make little Kimball a man. On no account was Kim to part with them, for they belonged to a great piece of magic such magic as men practised over yonder behind the Museum, in the big blue and white Jadoo-Gher --the Magic House, as we name the Masonic Lodge. , It would, he said, all come right some day, and Kim's horn would be exalted between pillars monstrous pillars -- of beauty and strength." Wandering about India with an old lama, Kim runs into his father's regiment, and is questioned by the two Chaplains, one Bennett being Secretary to the regimental Masonic Lodge. Says Kim: "My father, he got these papers from the Jadoo-Gher what do you call that? because he was in good standing." Then Chaplain Bennett, "Assuming that he is the son of a Mason, the sooner he goes to the Masonic Orphanage the better!"
"Ah! that's your opinion as Secretary to the Regimental Lodge," said Father Victor. The matter of Rivers of Healing, Red Bulls and Masonic Certificates goes for consideration to the Colonel. "Are you a Mason by any chance?" says Father Victor.
"By Jove, I am, now I come to think of it."
"That's an additional reason," said the Colonel, absently. So Kim is clothed and educated at Masonic expense.
"Kim" is a story that all should read. The theme of the story the search for the Red Bull on the green field of Kim, the Little Friend of all the World, and the Lama's search for his river of purification might well have been inspired by the Masonic idea of the search for the lost word.
In the medieval story, "The Wrong Thing," Kipling has Freemasonry running in his thoughts. The story is of an ancient builder of a village hall. Hal o' the Draft is asked if he wants a job. "No, faith!" he said, "only the Hall is as good and honest a piece of work as I've ever run a rule over. So, being born hereabouts, and being reckoned a master among masons, and accepted as a master mason, I made bold to pay my brotherly respects to the builder." "Aa-um!" Mr. Springett looked important. "I be a bit rusty, but I'll try ye!" He asked Hal several curious questions; and the answers must have pleased him, for he invited Hal to sit down." . . . A further passage reads: "Hal pointed to a white scar on his cheek-bone. 'This is a remembrance from the Master Watching Foreman of Masons on Magdalan Tower, because, please you, I dared to carve stone without their leave. They said a stone had slipped from the cornice by accident.' 'I know them accidents. There's no way to disprove 'em. An' stones ain't the only things that slip,' Mr. Springett grunted. Still another passage reads: 'I pledge you my Mark I never guessed it was the King till that moment.' 'I would not put out bad work before I left the Lodge.' Hal tells the Master of his struggle with Benedetto. 'Ah,' says the Master, shaking his finger. 'Benedetto, if you had killed my Hal I should have killed you in the cloister. But you are a craftsman, too, so I should have killed you like a craftsman, very, very slowly in an hour, if I could spare the time!' That was Torrigiano, the Master."
In Roman times the Order of Mithras was akin to Freemasonry. There is a reference in the story, "On the Great Wall." "We came to know each other at a ceremony in our Temple in the dark. Yes in the Cave we first met, and we were both raised to the Degree of Gryphons together. Parnesius lifted his hand toward his neck for an instant."
In the same volume, in "The Winged Hats," we find this passage: "As I stopped, I saw he wore such a medal as I wear. Parnesius raised his hand to his -neck. Therefore, when he could speak, I addressed him a certain question, which can only be answered in a certain manner. He answered with the necessary word the word that belongs to the Degree of Grypbons in the science of Mithras, my God. I put my shield over him till he could stand up. He said, What now?' I said, At your pleasure, my brother, to stay or go?'" (He was a member of an attacking party of Vikings, whose life Parnesius saved.) "I know that those who worship Mithras are many, and of all races, so I did not think much more upon the matter.
A month later I saw Allo with his horses by the Temple of Pan and he gave me a great necklace of gold studded with coral. At first I thought it was a bribe from some tradesman of the town meant for old Rutilianus. 'Nay,' said Allo. 'This a gift from Amal, that Winged Hat whom you saved on the beach. He say -- you are a Man."'
Fort Newton suggests that Kipling's Masonic references are too revealing. The following are,, some samples that might be so regarded. This from "With the Main Guard." "Knee to knee!' sings out Crook, with a laugh, when the rush av our comin' into the gut shtopped, an' he was huggin' a hairy great Paythan, neither bein' able to do anything to the other, tho' both was wishful. Breast to breast!' he says, as the Tyrone was pushin' us forward, closer an' closer. An hand over back!' sez a sarjint that was behin'. I saw a sword lick out past Crook's ear like a snake's tongue, an' the Paythan was took in the apple av his throat like a pig at Dromean Fair. Thank ye, Brother Inner- Guard,' sez Crook, cool as a cucumber widout salt. I wanted that room.' An' he went forward by the thickness av a man's body, havin' turned the Paythan undher him. The man bit the heel off Crook's boot in his death-bite."
And this from "Brother Square-Toes": "I saw my chief's war-bonnets sinking together down and down. Then they made the sign which no Indian makes outside of the Medicine Lodges a sweep of the right hand just clear of the dust and an inbend of the left knee at the same time, and those proud eagle feathers almost touched his boottop."
This is from "The Dog Hervey": "What's that dog doing? A tremor shook him, and be put his hand on my knee, and whispered with great meaning, I'll letter or halve it with you. There! You begin!' S,' said I, to humour him, for a dog would most likely be standing or sitting, or, may be, scratching or sniffing or staring. Q,' he went on, and I could feel the heat of his shaking hand. U', said I. There was no other letter possible; but I was shaking, too. I,' N,' T-i-n-g,' he ran out. There! that proves it. I knew you knew him. Between ourselves, old man, he-he's been turning up lately a-a damn sight more often than I cared for. And a squinting dog dog that squints! I mean that's a bit too much."
In 1926 Kipling published a volume called "Debits an Credits." In it there are no less than four Masonically inspired stories, all four emanating from the imaginary London Lodge, Faith and Works, No. 5837, E.C. The stories are entitled "In the Interests of the Brethren," "The Janeites," "A Madonna of the Trenches," and "A Friend of the Family." The characters are all soldier Freemasons. "In the Interests of the Brethren," first published in the 1918 Christmas issue of the "Storyteller," is all Masonic, being a record of the doings at a special Lodge of Instruction held two afternoons and two evenings each week for soldiers sick and on leave during the War. You must read the story for yourselves. There is a good deal about Ritual in it. I can only give you a few extracts. "Now a Lodge of Instruction is mainly a parade ground for Ritual." "All Ritual is fortifying. Ritual's a natural necessity for mankind. The more things are upset, the more they fly to it. I abhor slovenly Ritual anywhere." "The Dominions are much keener on ritual than an average English Lodge." "When the amateurs, rather red and hot, had finished, they demanded an exhibition working of their bungled ceremony by Regular Brethren of the Lodge. Then I realised for the first time what word-and-gesture-perfect-Ritual can be brought to mean. We all applauded, the one-footed Corporal most of all."
Then Masonry as a religion is commented on. "Brother Burgess started. He told us sleepy old chaps in Lodge that what men wanted more than anything else was Lodges where they could sit and be happy like we are know. He was right, too. A man's Lodge means more to him than people imagine. As our friend on your right said just now, very often Masonry's the only practical creed we've ever listened to since we were children. Platitudes or no platitudes, it squares with what everybody knows ought to be done.' He sighed. 'And if this war hasn't brought home the Brotherhood of Man to us all, I'm a Hun!'
"The one-footed R.A.M.C. on my right chuckled. 'D'you like it?' said the Doctor to him. 'Do I? It's Heaven to me, sittin' in Lodge again. It's all coming back now, watching their mistakes. I haven't much religion, but all I had I learnt in Lodge.' Recognising me, he flushed a little as one does when one says a thing twice over in another's hearing. 'Yes, "veiled in all'gory and illustrated in symbols" the Fatherhood of God, an' the Brotherhood of Man; an' what more in Hell do you want? Look at 'em!' He broke off, giggling. 'See! See! They've tied the whole thing into knots.'"
"We could do much with Masonry," says the SergeantMajor (who was a Past District Grand Lodge Officer). "As an aid as an aid not as a substitute for Religion," the Clergyman snapped. "Oh, Lord! Can't we give Religion a rest for a bit?" the Doctor muttered. "It hasn't done so I beg your pardon all round." The Clergyman was bristling. "Kamerad!" the wise Sergeant-Major went on, both hands up. "Certainly not as a substitute for a creed, but as an average plan of life. What I've seen at the front makes me sure of it." Says Brother Burgess: "All London's full of the Craft, and no places for them to meet in. Think of the possibilities of it. Think what could have been done by Masonry through Masonry for all the world. I hope I'm not censorious, but it sometimes crosses my mind that Grand Lodge may have thrown away its chance in the war almost as much as the Church has." "Lucky for you the Padre is taking that chap to King's Cross," said Brother Lemming.
It is an interesting story with soldiers from all over the world dropping in. "Listen to the greetings. They'll be interesting. The crack of the great gavel brought us to our feet, after some surging and plunging among the cripples. Then the Battery-Sergeant-Major, in a trained voice, delivered hearty and fraternal greetings to 'Faith and Works' from his tropical District and Lodge. The others followed, in every tone between a grunt and a squeak. I heard 'Hauraki, 'Inyanga-Umbezi,' 'Aloha,' 'Southern Lights' (from somewhere Punta Arenas way), 'Lodue of Rough Ashlars' (and that Newfoundland Naval Brother looked it), two or three stars of something or other, half-a-dozen cardinal virtues, variously arranged, hailing from Klondyke to Kalgoorlie, one Military Lodge on one of the fronts, thrown in with a severe Scotch burr by my friend of the head-bandages, and the rest as mixed as the Empire itself."
The soldiers arriving have to be tested. "They come all shapes." "Shapes was not a bad description, for my first patient was all head-bandages -- escaped from an Officers' Hospital, Pentonville way. He asked me in profane Scots how I expected a man with only six teeth and half a lower lip to speak to any purpose, so we compromised on the signs. My last man nearly broke me down altogether. Everything seemed to have gone from him. 'I don't blame you,' he gulped, at last. I wouldn't pass my own self on my answers, but I give you my word that so far as I've had any religion, it's been all the religion I've had. For God's sake, let me sit in Lodge again, Brother!"'
"The Janeites" devotees of Jane Austen, the novelists is a story of the trenches. It is told at a Saturday afternoon cleaning up of regalia at Lodge Faith and Works. Visiting Brethren are helping "to polish Columns, Jewels, Working Outfit and Organ." "A morose, one-legged Brother was attending to the Emblems of Mortality with, I think, rouge." "They ought," he volunteered to Brother Burgess as we passed, "to be between the colour of ripe apricots an' a half-smoked meerschaum. That's how we kept 'em in my Mother Lodge a treat to look at." The teller of the story states: " 'E'd never gone beyond the Blue Degrees, 'e told me." "For one pound he con-imunicated me the password of the First Degree, which was Tilniz an' trap-doors."
"A Madonna of the Trenches" is a story of a shell-shocker Brother C. Strangwick, a young, tallish, new-made Brother. "I noticed that, after Lodge-working, Keede (a Doctor and Senior Warden) gave him a seat a couple of rows in front of us, that he might enjoy a lecture on the 'Orientation of King Solomon's Temple,' which an earnest Brother thought would be a nice interlude between labour and the high tea that we called our 'Banquet.' Even helped by tobacco it was a dreary performance. About half-way through, Strangwick, who had been fidgeting and twitching for some minutes, rose, drove back his chair, grinding across the tesselated floor, and yelped: 'Oh, my Aunt! I can't stand this any longer.' Under cover of a general laugh of assent he brushed past us and stumbled towards the door. Keede gets him in the Tyler's Room, gives him sal volatile, and he is induced to tell his story and thus obtain relief."
"A Friend of the Family" is a story told after "rather a long sitting at Lodge Faith and Works, 5837, E.C. Three initiations and two raisings, each conducted with the spaciousness and particularity that our Lodge prides itself upon, made the Brethren a little silent, and the strains of certain music had not yet lifted from them." It is a story of some doings of an Australian soldier a Queensland drover from the backblocks. The story is an extremely good one. We are told "The Australian was full of racial grievances as must be in a young country; alternating between complaints that his people had not been appreciated enough in England, or too fulsomely complimented by an hysterical Press." "What your crowd down under are suffering from is growing-pains. You'll get over 'em in three hundred years or so if you're allowed to last so long...... Who's going to stoush us?" Orton (an Australian) asked fiercely. After the story is told the teller says: "I've given it you just as it happened, word for word. I'd hate to have an Australian have it in for me for anything I'd done to his friend. Mark you, I don' say there's anything wrong with you Australians, Brother Orton. I only say they ain't like us, or anyone else I know."
Several passages in Kipling's "Letters of Travel" reveal his interest in Freemasonry. He tells how in the native town of Penang he found a large army of Chinese encamped in spacious street and houses. These Chinese were said to have the town entirely at their mercy. They were banded in secret societies. Kipling went to a Chinese theatre and came to the conclusion that they were without nerves as without digestion. He concludes in these words: "About this time the faces of the Chinese frightened me more than ever, so I ran away to the outskirts of the town and saw a windowless house that carried the Square and Compasses in gold and teakwood above the door. I took heart at meeting these familiar things again, and knowing that where they were was good fellowship and much charity, in spite of all the secret societies in the world. Penan- is to be congratulated on one of the prettiest little lodges in the East."
In an account of his visit to Salt Lake City he comments: "To quench her (the white woman) "most natural rebellion, that amazing creed and fantastic jumble of Mahometanism, the Mosaical law and imperfectly comprehended fragments of Freemasonry, calls to its aid all the powers of a hell conceived and elaborated by coarse-minded hedgers and ditchers." "There is over the main door" (of the Temple) "some pitiful scratchings in stone representing the all-seeing eye, the Masonic grip, the sun, moon and stars, and perhaps other skittles." In another place "Canada possesses two pillars of Strength and Beauty in Quebec and Victoria."
Turning to Kipling's verse, the earliest Masonic reference is, I think, in
In estimating the inspiration derived by Kipling from Freemasonry we must remember that his two grandfathers were Methodist ministers. I leave to others to say whether two grandfathers are more influential than one father. It therefore cannot be claimed, I think, that Kipling's many Biblical references and his frequent adoption of Biblical language was due to Freemasonry. But in this connection it may be justly inferred that Kipling, becoming a Freemason at an impressionable age, and lecturing, as be did, to his Lodge on the origin and principles of Freemasonry, at the age of 22 years, received a broadening influence from Freemasonry.
Toleration is a first principle of Freemasonry, and Kipling is an exponent of toleration. In "Kim" he concedes the better knowledge of and broader view of human nature possessed by the R.C. Chaplain, Father Victor, as compared with the Anglican Chaplain, Arthur Bennett. "Between himself and the Roman Catholic chaplain of the Irish contingent lay, as Bennett believed, an unbridgeable gulf, but it was noticeable that whenever the Church of England dealt with a human problem she was very likely to call in the Church of Rome. Bennett's official abhorrence of the Scarlet Woman and all her ways was only equalled by his private respect for Father Victor." Here is a little homily on toleration:
These lines call on me to close, lest I bore you overmuch. I will only briefly refer to Kipling's last volume, "A Book of Words," published in 1928; it contains selections from his speeches and addresses between 1906 and 1927. In it are further Masonic touches, such as: "They face the five great problems I prefer to call them Points of Fellowship - Education, Immigration, Transportation, Irrigation and Administration." ("Address on Imperial Relations.") In "The Verdict of Equals" he visions for the Royal Geographical Society "a sumptuously equipped Lodge of Instruction, where men could find to their hand the whole history of travel." In an address to University College, Dundee, he says: "Independent men who have elected to be bound to hard work till their life's end take little harm from being given the best equipment, the best thought-out set of working tools that can fit them for their callings."
In 1925 he uttered one more reiteration of Masonic principles. "Our sane attitude towards each other must be that of good-will a good-will just a little more persistent, just a little more indefatigable than the ill-will which is being fabricated elsewhere. For if good-will can once more be made normal, with it must return that will to work which is the trade mark of established health in a people. If the will to work be too long delayed, then, all that our race has made and stands for must pass into the hand of whatever nation first recovers that will."
I will conclude with lines that appear to be Masonically inspired: