THE LEVEL AND THE SQUARE
The Masonic poet, Robert Morris, has given us, as from a perennial fountain, more than three hundred effusions in form of odes and poems; but none wear so well with old admirers, none secure so speedily the favor of the newly-initiate, as his conception of August, 1854, which has "gone out through all the earth" under the name of The Level and the Square. It is the Masonic song of the age, tending to the immortal. Eighteen years since, Brother George Oliver, D.D., eminent above all others in English Masonry, and the Masonic writer for all time, said of this piece: "brother Morris has composed many fervent, eloquent and highly-poetic compositions - songs that will not die, but in The Level and the Square he has breathed out his depths of feeling, fervency and pathos with brilliancy and vigor of language, and expressed his faith in the immortal life beyond the grave."
We meet upon the LEVEL and we part upon the SQUARE: What words sublimely beautiful those words Masonic are! Come, let us contemplate them, they are worthy of a thought; On the very walls of Masonry the sentiment is wrought.
We meet upon the LEVEL; though from every, station come. The rich man from his mansion and the laborer from his home; For the rich must leave his princely state outside the Mason's door, While the laborer feels himself a man upon the Checkered Floor.
We act upon the Plumb, 'tis the order of the GUIDE; We walk upright in virtue's way, and lean to neither side; The ALL-SEEING EYE that leads our hearts will bear us witness true That we still try to honor GOD and give each man his due.
We part upon the SQUARE, for the world must have its due; We mingle in the haunts of men, but keep our manhood true; But the influence of our gatherings is always fresh and green, And we long, upon the LEVEL, to renew the happy scene.
There's a world where all are equal, we are hurrying toward it fast: We shall meet upon the LEVEL there, when the gates of death are past. We shall stand before THE ORIENT, and THE MASTER will be there, Our works to try, our lives to prove, by His unerring SQUARE.
We shall meet upon the LEVEL there, but nevermore depart: There's a MANSION, bright and glorious, set for the "pure in heart": There's a MANSION and a welcome, and a multitude is there Who in this world of sloth and sin did act upon the SQUARE.
Let us meet upon the LEVEL, then, while laboring patient here: Let us meet and let us labor, though the labor is severe. Already in the western sky the signs bid us prepare To gather up our WORKING-TOOLS and part upon the SQUARE.
Hands round, ye Royal Brotherhood, close in the Golden Chain: We part upon the SQUARE below, to meet in Heaven again. Each link that has been broken here shall be united there, And none be lost around the THRONE who've acted on the SQUARE.
Periodically published in Masonic journals, quoted in a thousand orations, seen in fragments in innumerable epitaphs, musically wedded to sixteen airs, declaimed by traveling performers, and embodied in many "Gems of Reading," this effusion deserves best of all to herald our sketch of The Well Spent Life.