Robbins, Joseph, Oration By
American Masons behind the tiled doors of their Lodges and Grand Lodges during the past one and one-half centuries have listened to orations which would be everywhere famous had they been delivered in public, for there has ever been an unbroken succession in the Craft of orators, of great tribunes, of great speech makers--John Marshall, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, Stephen Douglas, down to Thomas Riley Marshall, William J. Bryan, and Dr. Parkes Cadman. Among these have been a number of orations which have helped to make Masonic history: Clare's Oration before Grand Lodge; Preston's Oration before Grand Lodge; Ramsay's Oration in Paris; Drake's Oration before the York Grand Lodge; Paul Revere's Orations; Joseph Tew's famous Provincial Grand Lodge speeches (published in two volumes); etc. It is unfortunate that most of them have not been preserved, and that such of them as lie in old Grand Lodge Proceedings are not collected and published.
In the opinion of literary critics, and applying the canons of eloquence rather than the criteria of Masonic scholarship, the most perfect eloquence of American Masonry is found in Dr. Joseph Robbins' oration, delivered by him to the Grand Lodge of Illinois, a Grand Lodge which was to number among its future Grand Orators Governor Frank Lowden. Dr. Robbins was born in Leominster, Mass., September 12, 1834; was made a Mason in Wyoming Lodge, Mass., Dec. 28, 1856. He transferred his membership to Quincy Lodge, No. 296, Quincy, Ill., where he removed in 1858, and where he lived until he died July 19, 1909. He was elected T. . M.-., and re-elected twelve successive times. He was Grand Master for two terms, in 1876 and 1877; and had been Grand Orator in 1868. His Oration remained famous and familiar for half a century; the complete text was published in The Builder.
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