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Peculiarity of Freemasonry

In the period when Mitchell, Macoy, Morris were writing their books, Mackey was writing his earlier books, and Oliver and Preston were the staples of Masonic reading, "the peculiarity of Masonry" was a recognized subject, discussed in print, and the theme of many speeches and orations. Then came in American colloquial usage the corrupting of the word into a descriptive name for idiosyncratic, hard to know, ultra individualistic men, or cranks; and with the loss of the word's meaning the subject of Masonic peculiarity fell out of discussion. Men accustomed to describe something or somebody hard to know, or unusual, as "peculiar," could not see that Freemasonry was peculiar in that sense.

It is unfortunate that a shift in speech occasioned the eclipse of one of the old, and important, and revealing Masonic subjects. From the first, Freemasonry had something which it itself had found out, which belonged to itself alone, which it had borrowed from no outside source, and never altered to suit outside demands, and which persisted unaltered through one change after another in circumstances. The doctrine therefore is a sound one; and it is a safe key to Masonic history, because what the historian of Speculative Freemasonry evermore is searching for is that in Freemasonry which from the beginning has persisted; and which though it has had to work under one set of circumstances or another has maintained its original identity from the beginning.

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