THE true Mason labors for the benefit of those who are to come after him, and for the advancement and improvement of his race. That is a poor ambition which contents itself within the limits of a single life. All men who deserve to live, desire to survive their funerals, and to live afterward in the good that they have done mankind, rather than in the fading characters written in men's memories. Most men desire to leave some work behind them that may outlast their own day and brief generation. That is an instinctive impulse, given by God, and often found in the rudest human heart; the surest proof of the soul's immortality, and of the fundamental difference between man and the wisest brutes. To plant the trees that, after we are dead, shall shelter our children, is as natural as to love the shade of those our fathers planted. The rudest unlettered husbandman, painfully conscious of his own inferiority, the poorest widowed mother, giving her life-blood to those who pay only for the work of her needle, will toil and stint themselves to educate their child, that he may take a higher station in the world than they;--and of such are the world's greatest benefactors.
In his influences that survive him, man becomes immortal, before the general resurrection. The Spartan mother, who, giving her son his shield, said, "WITH IT, OR UPON IT!" afterward shared the government of Lacedæmon with the legislation of Lycurgus; for she too made a law, that lived after her; and she inspired the Spartan soldiery that afterward demolished the walls of Athens, and aided Alexander to conquer the Orient. The widow who gave Marion the fiery arrows to burn her own house, that it might no longer shelter the enemies of her infant country, the house where she had lain upon her husband's bosom, and where her children had been born, legislated more effectually for her State than Locke or Shaftesbury, or than many a Legislature has done, since that State won its freedom.
It was of slight importance to the Kings of Egypt and the
[paragraph continues] Monarchs of Assyria and Phœnicia, that the son of a Jewish woman, a foundling, adopted by the daughter of Sesostris Ramses, slew an Egyptian that oppressed a Hebrew slave, and fled into the desert, to remain there forty years. But Moses, who might other-wise have become Regent of Lower Egypt, known to us only by a tablet on a tomb or monument, became the deliverer of the Jews, and led them forth from Egypt to the frontiers of Palestine, and made for them a law, out of which grew the Christian faith; and so has shaped the destinies of the world. He and the old Roman lawyers, with Alfred of England, the Saxon Thanes and Norman Barons, the old judges and chancellors, and the makers of the canons, lost in the mists and shadows of the Past, these are our legislators; and we obey the laws that they enacted.
Napoleon died upon the barren rock of his exile. His bones, borne to France by the son of a King, rest in the Hôpital des Invalides, in the great city on the Seine. His Thoughts still govern France. He, and not the People, dethroned the Bourbon, and drove the last King of the House of Orleans into exile. He, in his coffin, and not the People, voted the crown to the Third Napoleon; and he, and not the Generals of France and England, led their united forces against the grim Northern Despotism.
Mahomet announced to the Arabian idolaters the new creed, "There is but one God, and Mahomet, like Moses and Christ, is His Apostle." For many years unaided, then with the help of his family and a few friends, then with many disciples, and last of all with an army, he taught and preached the Koran. The religion of the wild Arabian enthusiast converting the fiery Tribes of the Great Desert, spread over Asia, built up the Saracenic dynasties, conquered Persia and India, the Greek Empire, Northern Africa, and Spain, and dashed the surges of its fierce soldiery against the battlements of Northern Christendom. The law of Mahomet still governs a fourth of the human race; and Turk and Arab, Moor and Persian and Hindu, still obey the Prophet, and pray with their faces turned toward Mecca; and he, and not the living, rules and reigns in the fairest portions of the Orient.