Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Oxford since 1842. During the years 1851, 1852, and 1853, he served as Auditor of the Order, and in the years 1853, 1854, and 1857, he was elected as one of the Board of Directors. To this onerous and honourable post he carried the enthusiasm and the strict business habits which have always distinguished his conduct both in the Order and in private life. In 1846 he entered the "holy state of matrimony," and has given hostages to fortune in the persons of "two brave sons and two fair daughters." He is essentially a man of the people. In his business pursuits he has achieved success, and as a "Good Odd-fellow" he is universally known in the Unity. Moreover, he has, we understand, been for several years past elected to the responsible post of Poor-law Guardian. But the position he has attained he owes to no adventitious circumstances. It has been his lot, like that of many of his kin in the eastern counties, to shape out for himself his own course in the world. As the phrase goes, he has been the architect of his own fortunes, and to his indomitable perseverance and unswerving integrity are attributable, under Providence, the fact that he has erected a goodly edifice in the land.

ODD-FELLOWSHIP: ITS PRINCIPLES & PRACTICE.

III.-FURTHER EXEMPLIFICATION OF PRACTICE.

To say that all the funds must be applied strictly according to law is to repeat what I have before endeavoured to impress upon you. But it is well every member should bear in mind when claims are being considered, that he is one of a host of trustees for his fellow men, and when voting in favour of payments he must not only desire to show his sympathy, and act liberally, but exercise his business habits to learn the claims are perfectly correct, and display some wise economy in dispensing benefits, where there is any discretion as to amount. Thus far as to sick and funeral and widow and orphan funds. With the distress and incidental (or management) funds, it is different. They are formed by the sinall contributions of the members, and each lodge may therefore be as profuse or mean as it pleases in expenditure on this head.

The incidental expense fund is raised in every lodge in such a way as is thought best; in yours each member contributes, with his other moneys, three half-pence weekly. Out of this you pay the surgeon, secretary, trustees, auditors, rent of room, Unity, District, and Widow and Orphan levies, leeches or other medical aids to the sick, gifts in distress, and testimonials to officers of your lodge, the District, or Order. With proper care all this can be done from that contribution, therefore keep within it, never make a levy if it can possibly be avoided, nothing causes so much ill feeling.

You consider the travelling relief small, too trifling, in fact, to be of real ase. It is purposely so to prevent any member travelling for amusement or from idle caprice. A lodge must not grant a card unless satisfied it is necessary a member should have it. If any traveller deserves more, and gets a proper recommendation from the district officers, he will seldom find yours or any other lodge hesitate to assist him with a gift. So in other cases of misfortune your lodge will be ready according to its means, to vote a distress gift to relieve the unfortunate; but no petition can be circulated in any other district than that to which the member (or the deceased member) belongs, without proper sanction.

Now, without speaking politically, I think you will ere long confess you are pleased with the working of our model democracy. You don't think

you can until you get over some little things. What are they? Such as addressing the "Most Noble Grand." Well, you know it is necessary to have in all assemblies some head, an authority that must not be disputed, and to whom all others shall behave with respect. Fancy addressing your self to "Mr. Chairman" or " Mr. Speaker," and boring everybody with a repetition of "Sir" after each halt. Would it not remind you of the dis cussion class at the Mechanics' Institution, or a political debate in a tavern parlour. The public-house has been rightly called the "common home," and it is said to have had something to do with raising the "tap-room" to the "parlour." Our Order's mission was to raise the parlour to the lodge, and having done so, we, in the lodge, throw aside all old associations. You remember Shakspere makes Cassius say to Brutus, "Most noble Brother, you have done me wrong," &c. Do you think "Sir" would have been better? Could it have expressed old friendship, enforced respect, and the fraternal spirit, smouldering within, and soon to burst forth? This objection, on little things as you call them, is a fastidious one, it is mere disinclination to adopt our ceremonies, because, to the objector, they are new. But they must be preserved, improved if you like, but still preserved. The history of the past, even of uncivilized communities, teaches the value and policy of ceremonials; and in civilized, how they have been and are of essential service. If any one objects in your presence be prepared to ques tion him whether he would not by abolishing thein in our Order deprive our meetings of their pleasing attractions-our officers of their well earned honours and influence-and our chiefs of their authority. A gentleman lately initiated in one of our lodges remarked, that our ceremonies and regalia gave a gravity and purpose to our proceedings which nothing else could so well effect. Depend upon it that without ceremony, and the observance of good laws, this Unity, which is now easily worked like a massive engine in a great factory, would be as useless as the fragments of such machinery, should the building be shattered and crush it.

I say our society works well, and you can test it. You conceive an alteration of general law necessary, and you mean to propose it in your lodge; you will explain it, because the lodge is not likely to sanction something which will bring it into ridicule; it is approved, and sent to the district. Before the next district committee you may have been selected as N.G. of your lodge; merit alone will place you there, yours consists in suggesting the proposed alteration of law, but being done neatly, and the majority considering you a man of business, vote spontaneously. If you dare to ask a vote for any electice office, you must be fined. The time arrives for the next district committee, and by a majority of votes you are selected as delegate from your lodge. In proposing the alteration of laws, you repeat to the assembled delegates what you told your lodge. What, all over again? Yes, for when your lodge approved it, only a majority of the 180 expressed themselves in its favour; and now these delegates, who represent 5,000 members in the district, have to consider whether it shall be approved on their behalf. They decide it shall, and send it to the next A.M.C., where it must AGAIN be explained, although the new law has been printed and circulated in the Quarterly Report read in every lodge. You are to go as delegate, and will then learn whether those representing, with you, the 290,000 members of the Unity consider your new law a politic one to adopt or not. After such experience, and returning from the Grand Parliament, I should like to hear your opinions. You would, I think, then tell me, that in altering laws, in electing officers and trustees, in distributing gifts, in paying the benefits, properly investing surplus funds, in general conduct of business, aye, and in having lectures and degrees, to instruct some, and confer honours on others, the Manchester Unity works well.

[ocr errors]

In our next we have something to say of lectures and degrees. Some say we shut good members out from office because they have not possessed themselves of a lot of these absurd secrets. How are they good members? and the secrets absurd? A good member will devote himself to office, and take his honours which entitle him to be put in nomination for higher places, and why should those who will not follow his example be in a position at any time it pleases them, to stand against him, taking the place he ought to occupy, and which he has prepared himself for by his previous work.

Really to be consistent, some of our take-it-easy members should offer at once to surrender the Unity, its funds, and its honours, into the keeping of the honorary members. Against a policy of this kind our general laws have carefully guarded. Though feeling at all times happy to see them and receive their advice and friendly assistance we are obliged to say, "We can hear you speak, we shall probably do as you say, but we cannot let you vote, we cannot let you take office; because we should be no longer independent. Become one of us as a subscribing member and you may do anything you please." These lectures and degrees, which bring together members in cordial meetings on other than lodge nights, which contain sound moral instruction, exercise the intellect, have taught many a man humility, how best to act for the general good, and which impel members onward to the topmost height in the Order-are to be sneered at !! I question whether our motto is not forgotten when such things happen. To "Friendship, Love, and Truth" we will devote another chapter.

WIDOW AND ORPHAN FUNDS.

SUCH of our readers as refer to the old Magazine will find in 1835, and the following years, many pages upon Widow and Orphan Funds. Originating as benevolent aids to the then usual sick and funeral benefits, we see in vol. 5, p. 233, the matter thus reasoned:-"How happy would an odd-fellow, extended on a bed of sickness, say within himself-well, if I die, I shall at all events leave the wife of my bosom, and the children of my love, above the reach of want. The Widow and Orphan Fund will render them quite comfortable as long as any of them require the aid, and I can die contented."" Practically the object was to secure a small sum weekly to a widow as long as she remained unmarried, or required such relief; and the orphan until he was enabled to maintain himself. The seed was sown, and soon spread throughout the Unity; and there are not now many districts who cannot boast of a Widow and Orphan Fund.

In the Leeds District, we observe, vol. 4, p. 239, the benefit provided was a fixed sum as an assurance at the death of members; and this kind of benefit principally prevails now, being called a bonus. In some districts-as remarked in the last number of the present Magazine-gifts are made in the discretion of the district or managing committee, according to the circumstances in each case. In others, annuities are paid to the widows for life, or widowhood, and during good behaviour, and to orphans until attaining a certain age; and in some cases the annuities to widows are as it were purchased by the payment of a bonus at once. In a few districts the peculiar provision is made to give to widows an annuity for just so long a time after the member's death as he, in his life time, had subscribed to the fund. Of the last plan the least that can be said is that it is not sound, and must work very unequally. As to the

assurance funds, there ought not to be any difficulty in adopting a safe scale of payments, seeing that CS. Ratcliffe's published Tables (observations and appendix) contain the necessary figures. With regard to the funds for provid ing annuities to widows and orphans, either for life or temporarily, much yet remains to be done in their improvement before they can be pronounced capable of properly meeting the liabilities. Those members who take an interest in examining these funds will doubtless be aware that in the Quarterly Report for April, 1851, are inserted some valuable remarks and tables for consideration; the only fault in the latter being that they represent the full values of annuities, without reference to probable secessions or the remarriages of widows, or other matters warranting their reduction.

The time has now come when there is every reason to suppose a collecting of past experience will be generally made, to ascertain the true position of Widow and Orphan Funds, and whether they have accomplished, and are likely to do so in future, the objects for which they were established. On some occasions, when this step has been taken, violent feelings have been aroused, and the fund swept away altogether in some districts; and probably it was well this should be the result, rather than continue an unsafe scheme likely to prove delusive to the members subscribing.

The history and experience of the fund attached to each district would not only be interesting but of more service than members generally suppose, in assisting the proper formation of new funds, and engrafting improvements on those now wanting them; and we feel sure our readers will be glad to have some information as to the largest Widow and Orphan Fund-that of the North London District. It has been found necessary, in consequence of a general meeting being called, to engage the services of Mr. A. G. Finlaison, the government actuary, to advise upon its present position, and make tables for future use; and we cannot now do better than quote from the instructions given by that gentleman:

"This auxiliary society originated at a meeting of the St. Thomas's Lodge members, on the 13th December. 1837. It was established by a special district committee, held at that lodge house on 26th November, 1835. Each member paid an entrance fee of 1s. For a time the subscription was jd. weekly, but afterwards 1d. per week; and members paying the latter sum were entitled to a copy of the Odd-Fellows' Quarterly Magazine, value 6d.; others, not receiving the Magazine, paid 8d. quarterly. From the 1st February, 1839, members were to be considered 'free,' after contributing 12 months, except clearance members, who became so at once. Benefits were given to widows only, in gifts of not more than £5. at one time to each, and in the discretion of the committee. The rules were originally certified on the 9th of November, 1839."

"From April, 1842, fixed benefits were allowed to widows, at the rate of 12s. per calendar month, for life, or widowhood, and during good behaviour. Altered rules, of the 28th March, 1843, provided that when the surplus funds amounted to £150, 8s. monthly should be given; to £200., 10s.; and to £300., 12s. The next rules, 3rd October, 1844, fixed each member's contribution at Id. weekly, without Magazine, and a scale of entrance fees, increasing after age 29. The widows and orphans of members joining the fund on and after 1st January, 1845, were not entitled to benefits until after two years from entry. Members were not to be admitted over 40 years age. Subsequent rules. passed 10th December, 1846, provided another scale of entrance fees for members; and also, that from 1st February, 1847, register books should be kept for children, a fee of 1d. being paid on each child's entry. The benefit for each child to be 1s. per lunar month, until attaining 14."

of

"On the 23rd December, 1850, the rules were again altered; the scale of entrance fees remained, but the contribution of members was increased to 1d.

weekly, and the children's registration fee to 1s. The next alteration, which came into force on the 1st January, 1854, reduced the widow's allowance from 12s. to 8s. Id per month, without reference to amount of funds in hand, or a bonus of £15., if applied for within three months from husband's death. Widows then receiving the annuity were permitted to claim the bonus, and many did so."

Lengthy tables accompany the instructions, of which the general reader will perhaps thank us to state the substance; and those who want the whole paper can, we believe, obtain it for a small charge.

The monetary experience of the fund, from the commencement, has been as follows:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Deducting £716. 1s. 7d., "lost by frauds," the present capital of the fund is £8,794. 78. 4 d., invested mostly in Consols and with the National Debt Commissioners. The payments for incidental expenses were made from the same fund as the benefits until 1846, but have since been raised by levies.

The contribution paid by members, at all ages, is 6s. 6d. per year, payable quarterly.

The benefits at present allowed are, to each widow, within three months from member's death, £15., in discharge of all claims on the fund, or an annuity of £4. 17s., payable Ss. 1d., per month, during life, or widowhood, and good behaviour, and to each child an annuity of 12s., also payable monthly, until attaining 14; to parentless children an allowance in the discretion of the committee. The numbers receiving benefits at the end of last year were 299 widows and 463 children, and 23 parentless children receiving special allowances.

From the tables referred to we extract the following, which will best show the steady increase of positive liabilities.

TABLE OF NORTH LONDON EXPERIENCE.

Column 1 shows the number of members subscribing to the fund at the close of each year; 2, the number of widows then in receipt of benefits; 3, the proportion of such widows to members; 4, the number of children receiving benefits; 5, the proportion of such children to members; 6, the widows admitted as claimants in the years stated; 7, the numbers declared off from all causes; 8, distinguishes the number dying; 9, those remarried; and 10, those expelled for misconduct. All others received a bonus.

* Similar payments in previous years are included in "Annuities to Widows," &c.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »