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The Lodge of Edinburgh St Andrew No 48  
             (Scots Lodge in the Canongate 1745)

!

A Brief History Of Lodge Edinburgh St Andrew No.48



We are a Masonic lodge that hold our meetings in Edinburgh and are regulated by the provincial Grand Lodge of Edinburgh and through that august body, the Grand Lodge of Scotland. We started in 1745AD and despite having two periods of dormancy in years gone by, we still have a very healthy membership. We meet at 11 Morningside Drive Edinburgh EH10 5LZ. We have a number of famous members in our lodge past and present.

Originally formed as the Scots Lodge in the Canongate No 53 which received its charter on the 2nd of April 1745, the first Master was Bro. George Scott but we have no records of exactly where the lodge met. The oldest surviving minute book starts in 1780. The Scots Lodge in the Canongate was changed in 1759 to Lodge Edinburgh St Andrew 53 and remained that through the first re-organisation of numbers by the Grand Lodge of Scotland; it became 46 in 1816, 43 in 1822 before becoming the now familiar 48 since 1826. (The number 48 was the original number of Lodge Holyrood House (St Luke).


The Following Toast's Contain More Lodge History


Toast to St Andrew 48 and RWM at Festival of St John 30th April 2011

researched and presented by Bro K Brown PM Lodge Abbotsford 937 

Intro:

RWM, Subs.Prov.Grand Master Bro James Bathgate, visiting reigning masters,


·        RWM It is with great honour and privilege for me to be invited this evening to propose a toast to Lodge of Edinburgh, St Andrew No 48, on such a memorable occasion and to witness the installation for the second consecutive year, their 160th RWM. In the name of Bro Keith Gray I can recall very clearly RWM, witnessing your progression through the ranks on your way to the chair of King Solomon. Then when I realised that your  father was PM Bro George Gray it was apparent to me that St Andrew 48 were investing in a master of some considerable lineage!!  I know that PM Bro George Gray must be extremely proud of you that after a very successful chair, that you are courageously venturing again to maintain the very high standards expected from Lodge St Andrew 48 and indeed the visiting brethren.  That cannot be an easy task when you consider the number of experienced PM's all willing you on in the columns, giving you their unconditional support!!!!! Shaking of the heads or few tut.... tuts!!!....

·        Story.........


·        Brethren FM we are told is spread over the four corners of the globe - but it is amazing at times in everyday life, when you least expect it, how you stumble across a reference to FM in some unusual situations......story of train journey!!


·        Apart from the warm hospitality given every time you visit St Andrew and the warm welcome in the lodge, while working a degree the ethos is very sincere and the delivery of their ritual is second to none. However my presentation this evening is to honour this highly respected and distinguished lodge requires a degree of explanation. Lodge St Andrews membership is attractively quite polarised - young and new members, along with vastly experienced and erudite brethren, with a genuine commitment to taking this lodge forward... Therefore I would like to touch on a little history which I hope that there is something of interest for everyone...  In doing so, with the limited timescale, it will require of me to turn over the equivalent of only one page of history of this honourable and traditional lodge. My main theme for this evening is to intimate to you brethren the exceptional Family Links of St Andrew but let me assure you the archives of this lodge since 1745 is groaning with facts, and astonishingly, incredible records of famous visiting brethren; dignitaries, royalty and even Bro Jim McCormack PM of Lodge of Edinburgh, Mary's Chapel No1, an honorary member of St Andrew as regular visitors.


·        What better place to start than ........1745 - which recalls to most minds the abortive attempt of the Jacobite rebellion, led by Bonnie Prince Charlie to install a Stuart, his father, back on the throne as the monarch of Scotland. Out of interest BPC was a devout Roman Catholic and Freemason, his body is entitled in the catacombs in the Vatican in Rome, bearing the FM logo of the square and compasses. However, to the brethren of lodge St Andrew this date carries a deeper more important sense of pride ? for on the 2nd April 1745 they were granted their Charter for the lodge from Glos. (Formed in1736)


·        There is however been speculation that the lodge was live since 1717!! But unfortunately no record of a minute book can be found. The lodge in that period had the name of The Scots lodge of Cannongate. A title it retained according to the endorsement on your Charter 1759, when it assumed the title Lodge of Edinburgh St Andrew, and the lodge number reponed to No 48 by Glos. It had previously been numbered 53 and then 43. During that period a number of different premises were used ? Mary's Chapel in Niddrys Wynd, Blackfriars Street, The old Sheriff Clerk's


·        Office in Brodies close, the Regent Hotel, Freemasons Hall and somewhere in Cannongate ??


·        In 1785 a number of brethren, headed at the time by Bro Senior Warden Dr John Brown, a Latin scholar!!), seceded (resigned) membership from St Andrew 48 and erected the Daughter lodge of Roman Eagle CLX. Along with other lodges seceded from Glos, two reconciliation was not effected until 1813. In 1887, however 22 members from Roman Eagle CLX petitioned for affiliation to Lodge St Andrew.  It is suggested in lodge minutes on November 1784 that Dr Brown recorded the minutes in Latin, not only that, a candidate by name of Bro Craven was initiated, passed and raised in Latin ritual!! Maybe this explains the consecration of daughter Lodge of Roman Eagle by our Latin scholar, Brother Dr John Brown!!


·        Arguably the greatest night in the history of the lodge was on 12th January 1787!! On that evening the Grand Master Mason of Scotland Bro Francis Charteris, supported by every member of Grand lodge, paid his annual visit to St Andrew 48. Sitting in the columns of the lodge alongside other visiting brethren, was unequivocally, to be the most famous FM in the world!! He was 28years of age. He is plainly, but respectfully dressed, midway between that of a farmer and a gentleman!!


·        His shoulders are bent in the characteristic stoop of a ploughman. He has swarthy skin, and with deep piercing eyes (as described by Sir Walter Scott). He is soon however all attention, as the gavel strikes, he turns his head towards the dias!  For sure, is it not the MW Grand Master Mason himself about to propose a toast? ?Brethren be upstanding, this toast is to - Caledonia and Caledonia?s Bard - Bro Robert Burns.?Burns stood up for his reply, after thunderous applause and obvious admiration from the brethren. It is recorded; he was extremely nervous, thunderstruck even as the The Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason should recognise an ordinary ploughman, worthy of his attention, along with the brethren of the lodge. Burns was emotionally moved by this recognition from the MW Grand Master Mason, and don't forget Burns was not yet recognised as the ?Immortal genius of posterity,? for his works as he is today!  This was before he had written 350 songs, and his ?magnum opus? - Tam O'Shanter!! which only appeared in1790!!! Brethren this is not merely a matter of occasion, it is a matter of history, that Burns visit was here visiting in this lodge! Yes this very lodge. I repeat this with great pride and pleasure for the brethren of St Andrew 48 ? let me explain....word Lodge.


·        It is no mere annual event and coincidence that Lodge St Andrew  celebrate Burns night, with great fervour, zeal in organising 2 Burns  suppers ? the Jan celebration was presented by Lodge Camperdown,Dundee, Ally Gowns and the Parcel of Rouges. Feb celebration open evening, guest Chris Tait (Robbie Burns!!) who for me is the living ?immortal ?memory of Burns!! A remarkable lookalike portraying the life and poetry of Burns.


·        1798 - It was recorded in the minute book that the renowned, illustrious Bro Vincent Lunardi visited the lodge. He was the first aerial  navigator, who was giving?hot air? balloon ascents from Heriots Hospital  Green!! This practice  I am told is still carried out at St Andrew. Although the ?hot air? is usually confined to Committee meetings!! The other part of this equation Brethren I leave for you own discretion!!


·        From history to FAMILY LINKS of Lodge St Andrew 48..............


·        In everyday life the family unit is the cornerstone of any civilised and regular society. Caring, loving and supporting each other when required. What moulds any lodge together is that family of Brethren within. Some of these relationships are reinforced by their ?bloodline? thru' family connections. But these strong family emotions can in St Andrew. A special evening to acclaim 100 years of FM by the Stewart dynasty was celebrated on 7th April, 2011. How many families in Scotland, indeed the world can stand beside that statistic of a family, not only in office, but all  more than capable  ritualists, and brothers through bloodline and the fraternity of FM. A family dynasty that will be recorded  for posterity in the annals of  St Andrew 48. There is however one character that must be mentioned, by the name of Bro Bill Mitwitch who was in the chair in 1980. Age 90 years young his wife Babby always made sure he was immaculately dressed for the Lodge. However his  individuality always entertained the brethren - he always wore suede brown shoes, and I am confidently informed on entering the lodge to ascend to the chair he always tripped on the edge of the checkered carpet!!! Also it is recorded  he had his own ritual - known as the ritual of Mitwitch!! In the minutes of  21st March 2002, recorded that Bro.Bill urged brethren to start preparing for the 275 years anniversary, which is in 18 years time in 2020!!


·        1981 - Len Highway installed as Master became a very close friend of PM Bill Mitwitch, again emphasising the strong ?family? relationship of   brotherly love within the lodge. Lens son Michael followed his father into chair following year, once again reinforcing family ties.


·        1993- Bro Andrew Hamilton was installed RWM Initiated in 1985. Installed IG, April 1986. Has always been in office since then!! A true champion of FM. His son young Steven, who I am sure will follow his fathers (PM Andrew Hamilton) footsteps - at present WJW, and was installed as a steward in PGLE recently, along with PM Bro Atholl Stewart PG Jewelr, and PM Alberto Massimo installed as Provincial Grand organist. Again a family of St Andrew brethren supporting daughter lodges in the Province.


·        PM Andrew Hamilton of course spends a great deal of his time as the patriarch of the ?family? of 7 lodges that comprise the MMA, Morningside Masonic Association, which of course resides in this building!! Being the ?father?figure of the MMA, PM Andrew has to keep the family on the right track, looking after their welfare!! Let?s quickly move on!!!

·        1999 - RWM Bro Norman McLaren initiated 1961. Was presented with 50 year diploma few weeks ago Received Honorary Rank of secretary from Glos. Number of year?s back he was the ?voice? for the family of daughter lodges of FM in Province of Edinburgh ? he wrote a column in the Edinburgh Evening News entitled Masonic Notes. Regarded by his peers as the ?face? of FM ? a brother of great dignity, compassion and benevolence. The highest recognition that can be conferred upon a brother by another brother is to call him my brother. My personal tribute to you Bro Norman, is a phrase in FM we are all very familiar with - ?now copy me by example? - the younger brethren, and new entrants of lodge St Andrew would do well to conjoin these few words, with that of the name of afore- mentioned brother PM Bro N McLaren, in creating that divine character, represented by that symbolically sublime artefact, known as the polished Ashlar!  Brethren I give you a giant among giants.


·        2003? RWM Alberto Massimo a gifted organist and polymath. Initiated Brother Giussepie Salvati in 13/3/00 and Cosimo Matarazzo in 22/11/07. Both brethren from Italy.


·        The whole ritual was in Italian!! Again demonstrating their international family bonds.


·        5 RWM, brethren, I now come to my penultimate remarks of my presentation. It would be improper of me not to mention the fact, that there are many more historical events recorded in the archives of this honourable and distinguished lodge. Also it must be recorded that I have only mentioned a few PM and brethren of this lodge .This in no way fully recognises the fact that the heart- beat ?of any lodge comes from the growing family of brethren within!!  I.e. those covert brethren who work endlessly contributing effectively in the background, seeking no limelight, heating the pies for the for harmony, setting up the lodge, the Almoner, the indefatigable energy of treasurer and secretary to mention a few. But the warmth and friendliness of this great lodge and the close family connections and brotherly love, have not gone unnoticed in the Province of Edinburgh, and beyond.  To be invited as part of this formal celebration at the Festival of St John, has made me deeply humbled.


·        The family linking lodge St Andrew is clearly and strongly evident for everyone to see. But there is a greater global family which this lodge manifestably contributes too - that is that


·        Great fraternity that spreads to the four corners of the globe - that family of Brotherhood of man, which we are all privileged to be a part of. Brethren, it is said that doing nothing, inhibits  ?free? thought, stifles free enterprise, and  curtails progress.


·        St Andrew No 48, this evening have demonstrated their willingness to move forward, and have taken up the challenge of change, which will stimulate  discourse for the future of this great lodge, and will hopefully be the catalyst to inspire other lodges  to follow!!


·        Finally Brethren.......


·        It would be grossly remiss of me not to give a very special  thank you to PM Andrew Hamilton. Without whose help, passion and knowledge of Lodge St Andrew would have deprived me of this most privileged occasion this evening.


·        Brethren of St Andrew No 48 I salute you.


·        RWM PLEASE REMAIN SEATED - Brethren all, it is my distinguished privilege, to invite you all to be upstanding to honour and acclaim this toast -


·        To the Lodge of Edinburgh, St Andrew No 48 on roll of Grand Lodge of Scotland, and their RWM Bro Keith Gray.


·        PM Bro K Brown Lodge Abbotsford 937



Toast To Lodge 48 on our 225th Anniversary


by Bro. HERBERT DOWN, Lodge St David's Edinburgh, ,No. 36; Hon. Member of Lodges Leith and Canongate - Canongate and Leith, No.5; the Lodge of Edinburgh St Andrew, No. 48; Lodge Trinity, No. 885; and Lodge St. Leonard's Newington, No. 1283.

Right Worshipful Master Bro. Andrew Kelman, Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason of Scotland Bro. Captain Christie Stewart, Members of Grand Lodge, Reigning Masters, Past Masters, Visiting Brethren, Worshipful Wardens and Brethren all. That is the. worst part of my speech over.

I think it was that witty Irishman, the late T. P. O'Connor, who declared that effective after-dinner oratory was a difficult art, and came only by prayer and fasting. While I cannot remember having prayed-and you have seen to it that I have not fasted-over this speech to-night, it must not be assumed that I have not given to its preparation a great deal of time and thought and careful research. For my elocutionary sins and may heaven forgive me they are many I have been called upon during my thirty to forty years traffic of the concert platform, either to propose or respond to some hundreds of toasts of varying degrees of importance and of none; but I doubt, if, in all that experience, I have approached a task with greater pride or with a deeper degree of diffidence than I do now in proposing the toast of this ancient and historic Lodge.

The real historians of any Lodge are its secretaries, and its authentic history is embodied in the minutes of its meetings. It must, therefore, be a matter of profound regret to all of us that so many of your old minute-books are missing: Some were destroyed by fire; others have gone unaccountably astray. The earliest minute-book preserved dates back to the year 1780, but subsequent minute books cannot now be found; and others, which have been preserved, are incomplete, in this respect, that for periods of as long as nine and ten' months at a time, your secretary has omitted to record the- minutes of a single meeting. It would, therefore, be quite impossible for anyone to attempt, successfully, to build up anything like a complete history of your Lodge. Such of your minute-books, however, as have. been preserved, are intensely interesting, reflecting, as they frequently do, the customs and conditions of the early Georgian period in which they were written, and presenting us with a most fascinating and very valuable footnote to history.

The story of Scottish Freemasonry is very largely the accumulated, histories of the various Lodges chartered under the Scottish Constitution, and to that story Lodge Edinburgh St Andrew has made no insignificant contribution. The year 1745 recalls to the minds of most people the ill-starred and abortive Jacobite rebellion, but to the Brethren of Lodge St Andrew that date carries a deeper and more personal significance, for on the second day of April of, that year there was granted to them by the Grand Lodge of Scotland the Charter of their Lodge. The two-hundredth anniversary of that event we are here to suitably commemorate to-night. There is a tradition that your Lodge was operating as early as the year 1717, but that date cannot be evidentially supported. Certain it is, at all events, that for a period of at least three years before 1745 your Lodge was operating under the title of The Scots Lodge of Canongate, a title it retained, according to the endorsement on your Charter, until the year 1759, when it assumed the title of St Andrew, and its number was stabilised as No. 48. It had previously been numbered 53 and 43.

It is impossible to discover at this late date where your Lodge first held its meetings. The earliest record we have is in 1784, when the Brethren decided to leave their present room-the place is not stated-and hire a room from Mary's Chapel in Niddry's Wynd. At various other times you have occupied premises in Blackfriars Street, the old Sheriff Clerk's Office in Brodie's Close, the Regent Hotel, the Freemasons' Hall, and in a place simply designated "Baxter's," possibly some old howff in the Canongate - but I am open to correction upon this point.

It is also difficult to discover who were the original members of your Lodge. We know, of course, that your Master in 1745 was one George Scott, and we have the names of several office-bearers, but I have been able to discover only one other reference to an original member of your Lodge.

In a minute dated 1781 it states that "John Ross, son of Adjutant-Lieutenant John Ross, was entered apprentice gratis in honour of his father, who is an old and original member of this Lodge and who has been of infinite value in times past, and who has so remarkably distinguished himself in the service of his King and Country." He was probably out after Prince Charlie in the " '45."

Lodge St Andrew has not only had a long, but also a very chequered, history.

In 1785, a number of the Brethren, headed by the Senior Warden, Dr John Brown, seceded from this Lodge and erected the Daughter Lodge, of "Roman Eagle." In 1808, Lodge St Andrew, along with several other Lodges, seceded from Grand Lodge, and a reconciliation was not effected until 1813. Several times for a period of years, your Lodge was dormant from lack of support. In 1887, however, after your Lodge had been closed for five years, twenty-two members of Lodge Roman Eagle petitioned for affiliation to Lodge St Andrew. The petition was granted, and it was largely the result of this affiliation that Lodge St Andrew was resuscitated. So, if, in the, first place, Roman Eagle owed its erection to St Andrew, St Andrew owed its resurrection to Roman Eagle.

Whatever differences, Brethren, may have existed in the past between these two Lodges have long since been cast to the limbo of forgotten things, and now Mother and Daughter reside in perfect friendship and harmony under the same roof.

What a wealth of information is embedded in these old minute-books of yours!

For example, it is revealed that the entrance fee in those early days was £1, 11s. 6d. and the cost of a supper ticket for the Festival of St. John the Evangelist was 2s. including beer. It is recorded that the sum expended on the entertainment of the visiting Brethren at one of your meetings was ten pence. The smallness of this sum, Brethren, must not be misinterpreted as a reflection on the hospitality of Lodge St, Andrew a Lodge whose hospitality is told in Gath and whispered in the streets of Askalon. It is simply a melancholy reminder that we live in a world of shifting values where not even, the price of beer is static.

At one of your meetings your secretary was instructed to write to two of the Brethren informing them that if their fees were not paid by a specified date, legal proceedings would be taken to recover them. I can hear Brother Murray Thomson sharpening his pencil!

One amusing entry refers to a brother who attempted to hold up the proceedings one night until he had extracted a promise from your Right Worshipful Master that he would redress an indignity inflicted upon this brother on the preceding Tuesday night, when he had been thrown out of a Sister Lodge. Your Right Worshipful. Master adroitly escaped from the dilemma by referring the complainer to Grand Lodge. Your minutes do not reveal where Grand Lodge sent the complainer.

It is also disclosed that in those remote days the election of a Grand Master Mason for Scotland was a matter for public celebration. The entire Lodge, headed by a regimental band, marched through the streets to divine service, thereafter to Parliament House where the election took place. The streets were lined by the men of the Loyal Edinburgh Regiment carrying torches, and then there is this illuminating comment – illuminating in a double sense – "the streets were lit!"

Some remarkable men have occupied the chair of No.48. William Mitchell, a teacher of languages, for example, became Provincial Grand Master of the Seven United Provinces of Holland.

Dr Thomas Glen, your Master in 1780, was an extraordinary character. He had amassed a huge fortune by the practice of his- profession, abroad. He was a man of unbelievable meanness. It is stated he made efforts to secure a second-hand coffin for the funeral of his first wife. At the age of seventy he re-married – a young wife who had made the doctor promise that when they were wed he would give her a carriage. The doctor may have been a mean man, but he was a man of his word. He gave her a carriage all right, but he gave her no horses. That, he insisted, was not part of the bargain. As a result, this second marriage lasted only three weeks. Then he began to take an interest in Freemasonry, and joined my Mother Lodge, St David, No. 36, afterwards affiliating to No. 48. He became an exceedingly active and zealous Freemason, heading deputations here, there and everywhere, and, I fancy, his study of the Craft must have softened his heart and loosened his purse-strings, for, the funds of the Lodge being at a somewhat low ebb at the time, he presented the Lodge with £100, a very considerable sum in those days.

Another very well-known Edinburgh character – Bailie John Spotiswoode – also occupied the Chair. He, Dr Glen and Dr John Brown were all faithfully dealt with in Kay's Original Edinburgh Portraits, which can be consulted at the Public Library in George IV Bridge.

During the Mastership of Spotiswoode, Dr John Brown was Senior Warden. He was an amazing man with that touch of genius which is akin to madness. He was born of peasant stock and, after a brilliant scholastic career, studied for the ministry. After passing, however, instead of taking a charge, he returned to the little school at Duns where he had been a pupil, and acted as usher.

He then took up the study of medicine, and founded the Brunonian Medical School. It is said that the Chair of Medicine at Edinburgh University was his for .the asking. Instead of pursuing a medical career, however, he opened a lodging-house for students. He was a profound Latin scholar, and was appointed genealogist to the Prince of Wales.

It is clear from the minutes of 1783 that in the temporary absence of your Right Worshipful-Master Spotiswoode, Dr Brown officiated. Not only are all the minutes of his meetings recorded in Latin, but he actually worked the degrees in that language.

I fancy that, in dissatisfaction over this fact, we have a clue to the rift which led to the erection of Roman Eagle, for in a minute of a meeting of November 1784, it states: "At the same time, Brother Craven, who was formerly made in Latin, was again entered, passed and raised," this time, presumably; in English.

This remarkable man, unfortunately, developed intemperate habits. He became a drug addict, and died in penury in London in his fifty-second year.

Another Master was William Charles Little, 11th Laird of Liberton, who assumed the name of Gilmour on succeeding to the estates of Craigmillar.

On the roll of this Lodge you have some of the best-known names in this city. You have Lord Provosts of Edinburgh. You have Sir Alexander C. Mackenzie, the Grand Old Man of Music (for 37 years Principal of the London Royal College of Music). You have the Shakespearean actors Philip Gordon and Osmund Tearle, the father of Godfrey Tearle. A Russian prince was entered in 1869, but the brother of whom we are most justifiably proud is, undoubtedly, George Meikle Kemp, the designer of the Scott Monument.

During my researches in connection with this speech, I came across an article in "Chambers's Journal" for April 1838, announcing that Kemp had won the competition for the design for the proposed memorial. The writer discloses that one of the objectors to Kemp objected on the grounds that he was an obscure map. With biting sarcasm, the writer asks; "Do we read Shakespeare and Burns with less enjoyment because the first was a second rate actor and the second a ploughman?"

George Meikle Kemp was not merely a great designer; he was a great man. Homer was greater than his heroes! That George Meikle Kemp, at the peak of his fame, should have become a member of this Lodge, is one of the highlights in the history of Number Forty-Eight. The grit, tenacity of purpose and nobility of character of this peasant genius have, for one hundred and twenty years, given to succeeding generations of the Brethren of this Lodge an exalted ideal and a never-flagging source of inspiration.

The centenary of Kemp's initiation was suitable in 1928.

our Right Worshipful Master's chair – which he occupied in the Temple downstairs earlier this evening – is the handiwork of Kemp. It was discovered, between fifty and sixty years ago, in the cellars of Grand Lodge, in a broken and dilapidated condition. .It was brought to the Lodge one night in 1890 and was identified by Bro. Thomas Bonnar, Right Worshipful Master of Lodge Dramatic and Arts, as the handiwork of his famous uncle. Bro. Bonnar paid for its restoration, and presented it in its restored condition to the Lodge. For so doing he received Honorary -Membership.

I have always been a little critical of the wisdom of working more than one degree in one night, but in those early days it was quite usual to work a First, Second and Third Degree at one sitting. Between 27th October and 14th November 1789 – that is in fourteen working days - this Lodge worked no fewer than forty-five separate degrees. In one day this Lodge was opened and closed four times for four separate workings of the First Degree. A few days later the same thing occurred when four Third Degrees were worked.

Freemasons must have taken the Craft very seriously in those days!

Possibly the greatest night in the history of this Lodge was the 12th January 1787. On that evening the Grand Master Mason of Scotland, Bro. the Hon. Francis Charteris, supported by every member of Grand Lodge, paid his annual visit to St. Andrew. Sitting in the body of the Lodge amongst the other Visiting Brethren, is one of the greatest men and Masons who ever lived. He is 28 years of age! He is plainly, but properly; dressed in a style midway between that of the holiday dress of a farmer .and that of the company with which he is now associated. His shoulders are bent in the characteristic stoop of the ploughman. His swarthy features are illumined by the most amazing eyes – Sir Walter Scott avers – he ever saw in a human head. His face is turned towards the dais! He is all attention, for is not the Grand Master Mason proposing the toast of his health? The toast is: "Caledonia, and Caledonia's Bard, Bro. Robert Burns."

In a letter-preserved in the Morgan Library, New York - Burns writes to his friend, John Ballantine: I went to a Mason Lodge yesternight where the Most Worshipful Grand Master Charteris and all the Grand Lodge of Scotland visited. The meeting was numerous and elegant. All the different Lodges about town were present in all their pomp. The Grand Master, who presided with great solemnity and honour to himself, as a gentleman and a Mason, among other general toasts proposed 'Caledonia, and Caledonia's Bard, Bro. Burns,' which rung through the whole assembly, with multiplied honours and repeated acclamations: As I had no idea such a thing was going to happen, I was downright thunderstruck, and, trembling in every nerve, I made the best return in my power. Just as I had finished some of the Grand Officers said so loud that I could hear, with a most comforting accent, 'Very well, indeed' which set me something to rights again."

The visit of Robert Bums to this Lodge, Brethren, is not a mere matter of tradition; it is a matter of history. The verifiable fact that the man who bears the most distinguished name in Scottish Freemasonry should have received encouragement and inspiration within this Lodge, strikes the highest and proudest note in the two hundred years of its history. I t is therefore peculiarly appropriate that, every January, the memory of this man, whose life was a constant summons to courage, and a perpetual challenge to despair, should be reverently honoured by the Brethren of Number Forty-Eight."

At first sight it may seem strange that the name of Bums does not appear in the minute of the meeting he attended. It has to be remembered, however, that, although Bums was the lion of that particular Edinburgh social season, and had just published the Kilmarnock edition of his poems, he was not yet recognised as the Immortal Genius posterity" was ultimately to acclaim him. He was simply known as the Ayrshire poet, and the 350 songs on which is reared his chief claim to immortality had yet to be written, as well as his magnum opus "Tam 0' Shanter," which only appeared in 1790.

In the minute of a meeting two years earlier it is recorded, "The Lodge was Visited to-night by the renowned Bro. Vincent Lunardi; the first aerial navigator, who is giving balloon ascents from Heriot's Hospital Green." It is a trifle ironical that the visit of Lunardi to your Lodge should be recorded in the minute of the meeting he attended, and that of Robert Burns omitted, when one reflects that Lunardi is best remembered today because his name is mentioned in one of the poems of Burns.

A particular type of bonnet affected by the ladies of the period was named "the Lunardi bonnet, in honour of the great balloonist. Bums, in his poem, "To a Louse," on seeing one on a lady's bonnet in church, says, -

I wad na been surprised to spy

You on an auld wife's flannen toy,

Or aiblins, some bit duddie boy

On's wylie coat;

But Miss's fine Lunardi

Fie !

How daur ye do 't?

What a diversity of creatures have been enrolled in the membership of this historic Lodge! Apothecaries and actors, japanners, candle-makers, wig-makers, vintners, seal-engravers, miniature-painters, city guardsmen, naval agents, artists and artisans, butchers and barristers, clerks, comedians and clergy- men and rabbis, a vast number. Of doctors, musicians and lawyers, princes, publicans and publishers; men who, in ordinary life, would have few if any contacts, and yet who, within the body of this Lodge, mutually experienced a moral and spiritual resurgence, and met, in sympathetic communion, on common ground. This fundamentally democratic spirit in Freemasonry, Brethren, must forever remain the. chief source of its strength, and its complete and final justification.

What a flood of memories this night must evoke for most of those present-for Bro. Clouston, for example, who was present at a similar function in connection with this Lodge fifty years ago - memories, both happy and grateful, which come surging. up within us, touching us all to finer issues.

What marvellous harmonies have been held in this Lodge!

In your early days, it was quite a common thing to have the entire military band of the regiment, stationed either at the Castle or at Piershill Barracks, to be in attendance for the entertainment of the Brethren. One of the Brethren who affiliated to this Lodge from Lodge Roman Eagle in 1887, was James Lumsden, founder of the Lumsden Scottish Festival, Concerts, and, as is borne out in your minutes – he was a decided acquisition to the musical activities of the Lodge. I am delighted to see his son amongst my hearers tonight!

Many present will recall that memorable night when, amongst our artistes, we had the great Scottish character comedian Will Fyffe!

I sat near Will during a working of the Third Degree – most excellently worked by your Right Worshipful Master at that time, my very great friend, Bro. John Stuart. Never once during the whole of that ceremony was Will's attention diverted from the proceedings. Later, after making a most generous contribution to the harmony-and he was taking his departure - he said to me: "Man, I wish I could have stayed to the very end, but I'm leaving in seven hours for an unknown destination to entertain the men of the Merchant Navy, and, of course, that must come first." And then he said, "But man, this has been a graun' break!"

How many hundreds of the Brethren of this Lodge down the last 200 years, after many a similar night, could and would endorse that simple but sincere tribute of Will Fyffe, "Man, but this has been a graun' break!"

During the last six years, when civilisation seemed to be breaking in pieces over our heads and life itself hung by so tenuous a thread, it might have been excusably anticipated that Freemasonry would have fallen upon lean times. Such, at all events, was not the experience of Lodge St Andrew. The entire Lodge seemed to be revitalised, and a fresh and vigorous impulsion given to every branch of its activities. That great upheaval, like a wild stormy night full of terror, seemed to have drawn the Brethren more closely together around the cheerful warmth of a common interest.

I am not going to preach to you, Brethren; that has already been done to admiration by Bro. the Right Reverend Dr, George Taylor. Preaching is not my metier, as you all know. But, Brethren, this is not merely an occasion for jubilation; it is also an occasion for revaluation and for rededication; a revaluation of the spiritual contribution we are individually making to the ideals of Freemasonry, and-where that is found wanting a rededication of ourselves in the spirit of the solemn vows and obligations we undertook at our Initiation.

You, Brethren of Lodge St Andrew, are the inheritors of a great history and a great tradition. Be worthy of them, Brethren, as you are proud of them!

If Freemasonry stands for anything at all, it is for Universal Brotherhood, irrespective of race, colour, creed or caste. Let us aim at a fuller realisation of that ideal! Let there be no circumscription of that spirit! Let us widen our horizons, and in the indestructible faith that all men are Brethren in the sight of the Great Architect of the Universe, let us strive for an all-embracing expansion of that spirit of Brotherhood, and by so doing, we will be making our contribution to bringing nearer that day for which all good and true Freemasons must pray, when swords shall, indeed, be beaten into plough-shares, and nation shall no longer rise against nation.

May this Grand Old Lady – God bless her! – who is your Mother Lodge, and who carries so gracefully the heavy burden of her age, continue to progress from strength unto strength, stead- fast in her Freemasonic faith, and rich in that righteousness which alone can exalt a people or a Lodge; may she, despite the ever., lengthening calendar of her years, still be fruitful to the bearing of many good and worthy sons, who shall, in their day and generation, as we do now in ours, arise and call their Mother blessed.

It is my distinguished privilege, Bro. Kelman and Brethren all, on this great and historic occasion in the annals of this Lodge, to invite you to be upstanding to honour with acclamation the toast of "Long life and continued prosperity to The Lodge of Edinburgh St Andrew, Number Forty-Eight on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland."