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Officers of French Lodges

The office of Orator exists throughout Continental Freemasonry. He is presumed to be a Brother of some eloquence and facility of speech who is called upon to deliver an oration whenever thought advisable.

Moreover, his duty is to wind up every discussion in the Lodge, in an impartial light placing the arguments adduced by the Brethren but at the same time expressing his own opinion of their value and correctness. No Brother is allowed to speak on any subject after the Orator has had his say and the vote is then immediately taken. The office has not been usual in England but the Lodge of Antiquity No. 2 still appoints an Orator. To the above comments by Brother George W. Speth in the Transactions, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, we may add that Brother Oswald Wirth of Paris made a suggestive explanation in brief, regarding the offices of Orator and Secretary of a Lodge something after the following effect "The Orator voices the conscience of the Lodge--the Secretary is its memory."

Brother Speth explains the use of several Brethren as Tylers thus: In one of the letters which came under my observation which is signed by some score of officers of the Bordeaux Lodge, there were no less than six who signed themselves Tuilleur. I can only make the suggestion on this matter without certainty that I am right.

I believe that at that time and especially abroad the Tiler was not a paid servant of the Lodge. If this is the case it is evident that the Tiler's duties must have been performed by a member of the Lodge, and in order that there should be a sufficient number present, and that moreover they should be able to share the duties of the evening so as to avoid any one of those spending the whole time with the door, several Brothers would hold the office at the same time. I think the duties of Inner Guard were also performed by one of the Tilers.

The Expert is, I fancy, never met in English Masonry. According to information I gathered in Antwerp, the duty of the Expert is to be expert in the ceremonies as he is liable to be called upon by the Worshipful Master to fill any post which may happen to be vacant for the moment. He is, therefore, the understudy of the whole body of officers, a superior sort of general utility man. The Frere Terrible is still a Continental Lodge officer.

His duties are to prepare the candidate in the several stages and introduce him into the Lodge Continental preparation differs widely from ours and is taken much more seriously, not only the body but also the mind must be prepared. In the earls days the foolish and reprehensible habit of thoughtless English Brethren who directly hinted at red-hot pokers, etc., was far outdone by the ministrations of the Frere Terrible nor were there wanting features in the Lodge ceremonial abroad directly intended to startle and test the nerves of the entrant.

The name Terrible, in Germans Schreckensbruder, was therefore fit enough. I am glad to think that his functions today no longer justify his appellation. His exhortations are rather directed to the intellect than to the senses. I am by no means sure that he did not also officiate as Inner Guard. Diane of the French plates professing to show our ceremonial, place at the door a brother armed with a Word whom we should unhesitatingly call the Inner Guard if it were not for the fact that the references below call him the Terrible. But how far can we trust these plates?

Brother Thomson Foley (Transaction, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, 1899, volume xii, page 102), says that "Constitutional Lodge No. 294 at Beverly annually appoints an Orator. The first recorded appointment is William Acklam, the founder of the Lodge and its first Worshipful Master in 1793." Brother E. J. Barron also contributed the following comment: "In the By-Laws of Antiquity Lodge of 1820 is the following:

'The Orator shall deliver such eulogiums, congratulatory or funeral orations, and lectures as by the Master may be deemed necessary. " Lodge Le Csare, No. 590, Jersey, of the English Constitution, works in the French language and has an Orator. The office was formerly most important as before the connection between the English Grand Lodge and the Grand Orient of France was severed, there was a frequent interchange of visits with the Lodges in Brittany. On these occasions it nas expected that the Orator should make an elaborate flowery speech and therefore it was of the greatest consequence that he should not only be eloquent but also full of tact. "We have for some time past styled our Deacons Experts particularly because their duties are more akin to those of the French Experts and practically because the ritual we at present use so names them. We use Respectable as exactly equivalent to Worshipful except in the case of the Worshipful Master, who is Venerable. All our Past Masters are termed Respectable."

Clavel (Histoire Pittoresque, pages 6 and 7, 1844), has a list of officers and their duties under the Grand Orient of France. Clavel tells us that Freemasons who are strangers to the Lodge upon presenting themselves for purposes of visitation are Tiled, that is to say, examined by the Expert. He also says that it is either the Expert or his substitute, the Frere Terrible, who prepares the candidate and conducts him during the course of the proofs to which he is submitting. Me also states that the Orator pronounces the discourses of instruction. He requires the observance of the General Laws of Freemasonry and of the particular By-Laws of the Lodge if he detects the infringement of them. In all debates he gives his logical conclusions immediately before the summing up bt the Worship ful Master.

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