Working Tools Of The Fourth Degree
I now present the working tools of the fourth degree. They are the fork, the knife and the tumbler or the wine glass.
The fork is the implement which enables even the most inexperienced Mason to secure, sometimes by reaching across the table, the most delicate and succulent morsels which adorn our festive Board to delight the eye and stimulate the jaded appetite. It is further intended to convey the various portions to the aperture which has been specially designed to receive them, and which reduces all nutriment to a common level. More especially should this implement be used when partaking of peas, which, if conveyed to the mouth by the aid of the knife, often prove very elusive.
The knife, when properly ground and sharpened, is used in bringing crude matter into due form, assisting us to dissect the anatomy of even the most venerable rooster; and to further prepare and divide the same into proper proportions to suit the dimensions of the aforesaid aperture, so that it may not be filled to excess and thus prevent that flow of fervid eloquence which should at all times be the distinguishing characteristic of the Convivial Mason.
The tumbler enables us, with accuracy and precision, to ascertain and determine the quantity of liquid which we find best conducive to the preservation of our general joviality, and, while all tumblers have not go an engraving or mark upon them, commonly known as “the pretty”, the skillful Craftsmen can easily measure this “tot” by the aid of the two, or the three finger rule.
But as we are met here not as Speculative, but rather as Energetic and Convivial Masons, we apply these tools to our morals, in this sense.
The fork points out that we should not at all times sit down and wait for what we most desire, but should reach out for, secure and retain it, profiting by our opportunities, and assimilating the knowledge gained by our experiences. Nor should we forget that the little things of life require to be looked after, lest they elude our grasp, and are lost beyond recall. And just as the prongs of the fork are equal and assist one another, being joined together in one compact structure, so are we all equal, when met together as Masons, and the fork should teach us to stand shoulder to shoulder, and practice these fours qualities which cannot be too strongly recommended to our notice, viz: straightforwardness in our dealings with one another; sympathy with the failings of a brother; good temper in our differences of opinion; and fidelity to the secret which binds us together.
The knife points out the value of patience and assiduity, for, as it requires to be sharp and in good condition to enable it to cope with some of the problems which confront it, so we are taught to take care of our mental and corporeal faculties, so that we may not be left behind in the battle of life. It also teaches us not to cut off more than we can comfortably chew, but to limit our desires in every station of life, that, rising to eminence by merit, we may live respected and die regretted.
The tumbler inculcates the necessity for moderation in all things, for, as it has no graduated scale by which to measure its content the user must exercise his own judgement as to the quantity of liquid poured therein. So we are expected to ascertain, and not to exceed, the limits of our internal economy, for as the tumbler will hold only a certain quantity without detriment to its surroundings, so should we all learn our capacity and thus avoid either overflowing with unseemly hilarity, or confusing our mental and physical powers. And, as the perfect tumbler rings true, whether it be empty or whether it contains liquid, so should the perfect Convivial Mason ring true after labour in the Fourth Degree. A cracked tumbler is despised and rejected.
Thus the working tools of the Convivial Mason teach us to bear in mind, and act according to, the cardinal virtues of prudence and temperance, so that when we shall be summoned to drink the Tyler’s toast after partaking of all the good things which a bountiful providence has provided for us, we may rise and depart homeward with the gratifying testimony of a contented mind, an equal poise and a clear brain.