The object and benefits of our Order were most beautifully explained by Grand Secretary Wm. M. Nelson, on the fifth day September, 1853, on the occasion of a grand banquet by Shakespeare Lodge, 252, at Manchester, England…..
The Address is a model of elegant diction, chaste English . and comprehensive thought. It was published in the Odd Fellows’ Magazine in November, 1853, and so great was the demand for the address, that three separate editions of the magazine contained it.
These are his words :
“Those who speak of our Order as merely a sick society, betray an utter ignorance of the nature of the institution they undertake to criticize ; nor need we be surprised at this, for where interest and prejudice combine to prompt the use of the false balance, there will never be wanting those who are willing to assume the character of corrupt judges. The object of this Order is to elevate the whole man, its provisions have reference to his intellectual, moral and physical capabilities, it influences every circumstance of life, and it is calculated to modify the relations of society, both socially, morally and politically. Its influence as a political safeguard cannot be overestimated.
“The only way in which a man can be taught the use of an implement, or a principal thoroughly, is by being himself practised in that use. Where can the necessity of subordination and government be learnt better than in the lodge room? The moment he enters its portals the lesson of obedience begins ; he must obey ‘ere he can command, and he speedily learns that: He also serves who only stands and waits. It is surely no vain boast to say that it is a noble sight to see a voluntary organization for common purposes like ours composed of men of all classes, parties and sects extending over this mighty empire, distributed in every town and village, and numbering from forty to fifty thousand individuals, working not only harmoniously but cordially together, as the Grad United Order has done for more than half a century. We ask in vain the political parties of this country to show us an organization so perfect, a society so en during. And let us bear in mind that when we are enumerating this army of economists we are numbering the healthy, the moral and the industrious of the land ; for these are qualities which are required in all who enter the Order, nor can those who do not possess these qualifications be admitted without flagrant breach of our laws.
“It has been the fashion to look too much at apparently large events in estimating the progress of a people. Historians are too apt to forget that the foundations of the social pyramid are laid broad and deep beneath the surface of society, and it is only in very recent times, that in our own country, the true sources of the nation’s prosperity, the real nature of the bulwarks of society, have become recognized.
“I am happy to say that secret orders are now classed among the most important institutions, formed by the industrious classes for their own support, elevation, and improvement. Yes, Mr. Chairman, when we speak of education, let it never be forgotten that the Odd Fellow’s Lodge is a real educational institution ; when we recommend forethought and providence, let it be remembered that the working man’s bank and his insurance society is his lodge, and that this educational institution was established long, very long before governments had found it worth while to provide means for the instruction of the people. This bank had conferred innumerable and inestimable blessings upon the families of our members long, very long before speculators established the first insurance society I have said that the lodge is an educational institution, when properly organized and conducted, we all know that it is so, in the noblest and most extended sense of that much abused term. No sooner does the approved candidate enter the doors of his future lodge, than his ears are greeted with precepts of the purest morality, and the most extended benevolence ; his duty to himself, his fellow man, his country, and his family are brought forcibly before him.
“When the honors of office are conferred upon him, at what step does he not receive new lessons of wistlom and of love. ‘Amicitia, Amor et Veritas,’ the glorious motto of the Order is illustrated and enforced on every occasion, and Friendship, Love and Truth gleams upon the Odd Fellow’s path everywhere. It is embroidered upon his banner ; it shines in golden characters from his Dispensation ; it greets him upon the walls of the lodge, and is found in emblem and, in fact, wherever the Order has its scat. “If the Odd Fellow is not sober, honest, industrious and be nevolent, a good husband, a kind father, and a loyal and virtuous citizen, it is because the admonitions he received, the examples to which he is directed, and the vows he has made, are neglected or forgotten.”
Our objects are simple, and easy to be understood, and may be thus briefly stated : ( 1 ) To administer to the wants of those afflicted by sickness; (2) To inter, respectably our dead; (3) To relieve those who are traveling in search of employment ; (4) To provide a competency for the widows and orphans of our deceased members after we have thus interred them; and, lastly, to improve the moral character of our members so as to make them good and respected citizens. With such objects as these, then we may, I think, with confidence come before the world, as we are doing, to give expression to our sentiments, and to invite those to whom our several institutions might be of service, to join us in so good a cause, and those whose affluence places them beyond the benefits of such a society to assist us in providing them for the enjoyment of others, who, but for such timely aid, might perhaps be hurried into the commission of offences against the law, or the alternative of a county work house…..
An example of fine oration from one of our brethren….