Examination of Visitors
The due examination of strangers who claim the right to visit, should be entrusted only to the most skillful and prudent Brethren of the Lodge. And the examining committee should never forget, that no man applying for admission is to be considered as a Freemason, however strong may be his recommendations, until by undeniable evidence he has proved himself to be such. All the necessary forms and antecedent cautions should be observed. Inquiries should be made as to the time and place of initiation, as a preliminary step the Tiler's pledge, of course, never being omitted. Then remember the good old rule of "commencing at the beginning." Let everything proceed in regular course, not varying in the slightest degree from the order in which it is to be supposed that the information sought was originally received. Whatever be the suspicions of imposture, let no expression of those suspicions be made until the final decree for rejection is uttered. And let that decree be uttered in general terms, such as, "I am not satisfied," or "I do not recognize you," and not in more specific language, such as, "You did not answer this inquiry," or thou are ignorant on that point," The candidate for examination is only entitled to know that he has not complied generally with the requisitions of his examiner. To descend to particulars is always improper and often dangerous.
Above all, never ask what the lawyers call leading questions, which include in themselves the answers, nor in any manner aid the memory or prompt the forgetfulness of the party examined, by the slightest hints. If he has it in him it will come out without assistance, and if he has it not, he is clearly entitled to no aid. The Freemason who is so unmindful of his obligations as to have forgotten the instructions he has received, must pay the penalty of his carelessness, and be deprived of his contemplated visit to that society whose secret modes of recognition he has so little valued as not to have treasured them in his memory.
And, lastly, never should an unjustifiable delicacy weaken the rigor of these rules. Remember, that for the wisest and most evident reasons, the merciful maxim of the law, which says that it is better that ninety-nine guilty men should escape than that one innocent man should be punished, is with us reversed, and that in Freemasonry it is better that ninety anal nine true men should be turned away from the door of a Lodge than that one cowan should be admitted.
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