Royal Highlanders

By Todd Wilkinson

PM, Solomon Lodge No. 271, AF & AM, Springfield MO

Member, Webster Lodge No. 98, Marshfield MO

The above photo is of the Royal Highlanders drill team in Ida Grove, Iowa.  (Photo courtesy of Judith Bauer)

Organized in 1896 in Aurora, Nebraska, the Royal Highlanders was originally a
fraternal insurance organization. The organizations’ headquarters building in
Aurora was reportedly modeled on Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The order’s
purpose was “to unite for mutual benefit and fraternal protection all white
persons who are in good health, of exemplary character, and between the ages of
16 and 65.”

There were two classes of membership, benefit and social. The ritual of the
Royal Highlanders was based on the story of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce
in their struggle for Scottish independence, and was intended to teach
“Prudence, Fidelity and Valor”. Degree teams wearing kilts and glengarries and
carrying shields and swords initiated new members into the Order.

In 1930, the Order numbered some 17,000 members, both men and women, with
“extensive investments” in Nebraska farmland. Seven years later, the Order
reincorporated to become a mutual life insurance company, and renamed itself the
Lincoln Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1946.

An article from the Ida County (Iowa) Pioneer Record from 1946 documents the
history of the local Royal Highlanders castle, which was formed in 1898 with a
charter membership of 35 businessmen and citizens. In 1902, the castle organized
a membership drive to “make the society one of the largest organizations in Ida
Grove.” Within a short time, 70 new members were secured, and on July 31, 1902,
the “Bonnie Doon” drill team, along with Royal Highlanders President W.E. Sharp
and his wife, came from Lincoln Nebraska to participate in the initiation
ceremonies.

The next year, the Ida Grove castle began to organize its own drill team, which
was outfitted in “plaid kilties, bright shields and spears”. The drill team then
helped institute new RH castles in nearby towns of Danbury, Odebolt and
Holstein. The Ida Grove drill team was “ranked among the best in the state”,
according to the article, and even attended the Royal Highlanders’ national
meeting in Denver, Colorado in September, 1909, it being the “only team from
Iowa”.

A special "Thanks" to Barb Horak, Conley Wolterman and the Ida County, of the Iowa Historical Society.
 

The Royal Highlanders
Ritual of Tower Building

1897

 
Opening of the Castle
 
Promptly at the hour fixed or the assemblage of the Clansmen, the officers will assume their respective Stations and the Illustrious Protector will give one rap with the gavel.
Illustrious Protector: Clansmen, let us assemble in secret session. The Sentinel will mount the barbican and the Warder will drop the portcullis and raise the drawbridge, that none may enter without our consent. Chief Archer and Chief Spearsman, communicate to me the grip and passwords.
They rise, advance on right and left of the Castle, meeting in front of the Illustrious Protector, where they stop, turn, facing him and salute. When the salute is answered they both advance and communicate to him the grip and passwords, returning to a position directly in front of him on the walk, and there await his, instructions.
Illustrious Protector: It is well. In a like manner make certain that all present are qualified to remain.
They salute, and line going to the right, the other to the left, take the grip and pass words from all the Clansmen assembled. Should any be unable to qualify, if worthy, the Illustrious Protector shall instruct them [except visiting clansmen, who shall retire to the inner court and pass a satisfactory examination before a committee appointed by the Illustrious Protector, after which he may re-enter the Castle] Chief Archer and Chief Spearsman continue until they meet in front of C. C. station, when they advance together directly behind the alter, facing the I. P., salute him and say:
Chief Archer: Illustrious Protector, all upon your right have communicated the grip and passwords correctly.
Chief Spearsman: Illustrious Protector, all upon your left have communicated the grip and pass words correctly.
Illustrious Protector: ’Tis well, Valiant Clansmen; we are doubly secure and can proceed with our secret work.
Chief  Archer and Chief Spearsman salute and separate, one going to the right, the other to the left, passing the side stations and returning to their stations. The Illustrious Protector gives … raps with the gavel and all Clansmen rise, when he says:
Illustrious Protector: Attention, Valiant Clansmen; the officers will advance with me to the center of the Castle and assist in giving the secret work of our Fraternity.
All officers leave their stations and advance to the center of the Castle, forming a hollow square about and facing the altar. The secret work is given by all the officers as it is called for by the I.P., who says:
Illustrious Protector: Valliant, Clansman, give the working sign; its answer; the Words of distress; the sign of distress; the recognition sign, accompanied by the words; its answer, accompanied by the words; the grand honors. Valiant Clansmen, the secret work is correct. Worthy Evangel, lead the devotions of the Castle.
The Worthy Evangel salutes, advances in the altar, opens the bible and steps back two paces. All of the officers close in a circle and kneel with bolted heads while he says:
Worthy Evangel:
Oh, Mighty and Supreme Protector of the Universe, wilt Thou assist us in the upbuilding of this grand Fraternity, and guide our actions this night so that the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Fidelity, and Valor may rest even more securely in the breasts of faithful Clansmen. Endow our officers with a portion of Thy wisdom that they may direct the actions of this Castle with Prudence and Fidelity. Make us mindful of our obligations one to another, we humbly beseech Thee. Amen.
All Clansmen say: Amen.
All officers arise and return directly to their stations.
Illustrious Protector: Clansmen, join heartily with me in singing the Opening Ode.
Within our Castle good and strong.
We meet with Clansmen dear ,
With joyous hearts we raise our song
Of hearty Highland cheer
 
Each Chief and Clansman in his place,
With shields and banners bright.
We’re glad to see each welcome face,
Within our hall to-night.
Illustrious Protector: Clansmen. Each will now deposit his number.

After the numbers are deposited the I. P. will give … raps with the gavel and all are seated.
Chief Counselor: Valiant Warder, inform the Clansmen in the inner court that the Castle is now open.
 

Tower Building
 
Illustrious Protector: The Guide will repair to the outer court and ascertain if there are any refugees desiring the protection of our Castle.
Guide retires, learns full names of refugees, returns, approaches the altar, salutes the Illustrious Protector and reports as follows:
Guide: I find … who desires the protection of this Castle.
Illustrious Protector: The Secretary will in form the Castle if this refugee has complied with the Edicts which govern this Fraternity, thereby rendering himself eligible to our fellowship and protection.
Secretary: Illustrious Protector, … has fully complied with all our requirements.
Illustrious Protector: It is well. One who has safely passed so many tests is sure to add strength to our strength, and become another tower of strength to … Castle. I therefore direct the Guide to return to the outer court, propose to this refugee the conditions of admission, and upon his assent to the same, bring him within the walls of our Castle.
After saluting the Illustrious Protector, the Guide returns to the outer court, brings the refugee just within the inner door, with hoodwink down, and thus addresses him:
Guide: I am commissioned by the Illustrious Protector to inform you that you will be received into our fellowship, provided you express at this time your willingness to give as well as receive; that you will, in return for the protection you seek, aid with your prudence, fidelity, and valor, in the up-building and perpetuating the principles for which we have erected and dedicated this Castle. Do you so state?
Refugee: I do.
Guide then approaches the altar, leading refugee, where he faces, salutes and addresses the Chief Counselor, as follows:
Guide: I have obeyed my instructions and bring hither the refugee that I found seeking our protection. He has generously and heroically consented to dedicate to our cause his prudence, fidelity, and valor.
Chief Counselor: Most heartily do I welcome you, for your arrival is opportune. In you we recognize one in whose heart still remains all the firmness of the old Scottish fidelity and patriotism. There are great and mighty questions at issue, bearing upon the peace, happiness, and independence of Scotland. These are, however, times of so much treason that our Clansmen desire an obligation which they must see and hear you assume. Before proceeding further it will be necessary for you to swear upon the cross that you will keep inviolable all the secrets with which we are about to intrust you. Will you be so obligated?
Refugee: I will.
Chief Counselor: The guide will present you before the Evangel, who will administer the obligation.
The Guide conducts refugee to the alter, facing the Evangel, placing suspended from his neck, over his heart, a small cross, over which refugee rests his left hand. In his right hand the Guide gives him a sword which the refugee holds uplifted. The Evangel advances to the altar, stops and says:
Evangel: Repeat your name in full and say after me:
I, …, upon my most sacred honor, and by the cross I hold against my heart, and the good sword I hold in my right hand, do most solemnly and unreservedly engage and swear, that I will forever hold a perfect silence upon the secrets of The Royal Highlanders when in the presence of those who do not belong to this fraternity, and should my membership, from any cause, ever cease, I shall still regard this vow binding upon me so long as life shall last.
And further, I will abide by the Edicts and Requirements of The Royal Highlanders now in force or which may become adopted by them.
In no event will I recommend for beneficial membership in this fraternity any person whom I do not believe to be of sound physical health and worthy of our fellowship and protection.
To all this, as I hope for protection to those dependent upon me, I most solemnly and candidly promise that I will sacredly keep and perform this vow, binding myself under the penalty of being proclaimed, wherever Highlanders meet, as unworthy the confidence of all true men, if I knowingly violate this vow so sincerely entered into before God and these witnesses.
Lights are lowered, Guide relieves refugee of sword and turns him about when he sees approaching him three Furies all aglow with phosphorescent light. These hover near without touching him, fantastically and noiselessly moving about. Guide says to refugee:
Guide: These three Furies from the realms of eternal mystery, have also, though unseen by you, witnessed your important vow. The ancients believed that the three Furies would pursue to the gates of Hades all who were recreant of their vows. Let this reminder of their fears keep you true to your obligations. Look upon these three and realize how little we know of the beyond. Life is ours today; tomorrow we may mingle with those who have passed into the dread hereafter.
The Furies slowly and noiselessly vanish. The Guide now faces refugee and thus addresses him:
Guide: This shadowy reminder of earth’s mighty sepulcher is a mirror in which we may behold our fate. The hour will surely come when the iron will shall bend and the proud heart be humbled; the full purse can not then avail, nor can the once strong arm always protect and provide for those we love; we must provide for them while the strength and vigor of manhood endures, for “All are ground to dust and trodden into clay. All men come into the world alone and must heave it alone. Even a little child has a dread whispering conscience that if summoned into God’s presence, no gentle nurse would lead him by the hand or fond mother take him in her arms. King and priest, warrior and maiden, philosopher and child—all must walk those mighty galleries alone.” “So keep thy vow, that when thou shalt set forth on that lone journey to mingle thy bones with kindred dust, thy loved ones be not left in penury.” Look well to thy vow.
Guide closes hoodwink, leads refugee around the Castle, relating to him historical facts, as follows:
Guide: The secret work of The Royal Highlanders has for its foundation some events in Scottish history which occurred about the beginning of the fourteenth century.
Then it was that Edward I of England, after having betrayed his trust as arbiter between the claimants to the throne of Scotland, made Baliol a prisoner and reduced Scotland to his own rule. When the rapacious English governors and soldiers committed outrages which inflamed all liberty-loving Scots, William Wallace, maddened with grief at the foul murder of his wife and the burning of his beautiful home, became the leader of the hardy patriots.
Wallace was a successful leader, and won many hard-fought battles. He possessed the entire confidence of his countrymen and became so endeared to them that they offered to crown him king of Scotland.
This he steadfastly refused to permit, consenting only to remain at the head of their armies.
“He who climbs high endangers many a fall,” and Wallace having attained the highest pinnacle of fame, incurred the enmity of his peers, and jealousies accomplished what invading armies failed to do.
Regardless at the desertion of Scottish nobles, who, not only took whole squadrons from his depleted ranks, but added their treacherous strength to the already magnificent southern armies, Wallace, still undaunted, let those Scots remaining loyal to the battle of Falkirk.
Sleeplessly passing the dark and gloomy night, he was stabbed in his tent by one supposed to be his best friend, his armour alone saving his life. Discouraged and disheartened, with a presentiment of chiming defeat, he wandered out into the darkness to make a last personal inspection of his outposts, and tradition relates that in a mountain-pass, from a rocky crag, he viewed a strange appearance which warned him of his impending destiny.
 
Crag Scene

Guide opens hoodwink and refugee sees Wallace confronted by a Bard with harp in hand, who thus addresses him:
Bard: Art thou come, doomed of heaven, to hear thy sad cornach?
Wallace starts.
Bard: No choral hymns hallow thy bleeding course; wolves howl thy requiem; eagles scream over thy deserted grave. Fly, Chieftain, fly.
Wallace: Does not the venerable Father of the Harp mistake me for some other chieftain? Who think you that I am?
Bard: Can the spirit of inspiration mistake its object? Can he, whose eyes have been opened by the touch of fate, be blind to Sir William Wallace, to the blood which clogs his mounting footsteps?
Wallace: Who am I to understand that you are? Who is this saint whose holy charity would anticipate the obsequies of’ a man who may yet be destined to a long pilgrimage?
Bard: Who I am will be shown thee when thou hast passed you starry firmament. But the Galaxies stream with blood; time bugle of death is alone heard, and thy lacerated breast heaves in vain against the hoofs of opposing squadrons. They charge! Scotland falls! Look not on me, thou champion of Scottish liberties, sold by thy enemies, betrayed by thy friends. ‘Twas a woman’s hand in mail that gave thee these wounds and drew from thee this blood. Ten thousand armed warriors strike home the mortal steel. He sinks, he falls; red is the blood of Eske; thy vital stream hath dyed it. Fly! Bravest of the brave or perish.
Bard suddenly disappears, leaving Wallace alone, who now says:
Wallace: Oh, Scotland! Scotland! if devoted, then our fates shall be the same; my fall from thee will be into my grave. Scotland may have struck the breast that shielded her, yet Father of Mercies, forgive her blindness, and grant me permission still a little longer to oppose my heart between her and this fearful doom. Tableau.
Guide closes hoodwink and leads refugee to inner court.

Soldier scene

 
Guide leads refugee into the Castle, and stopping near the door, with the hoodwink closed, says:
Guide: The next day the terrible battle of Falkirk was fought and Wallace defeated. After this for some time the victorious English soldiers and the traitor Scots spend their time in feasting and carousal, of which we will now see and hear more.
Guide opens hoodwink and refugee sees a gay company of soldiers and Scots banqueting. One soldier says:
First Soldier:
The rose is up—
Second Soldier: The thistle is down.
First Soldier: Here’s to the successful armies of His Royal Highness, that have this day overthrown the traitor Scots.
All soldiers rise about the table and say together:
All: St. George and Merry England. Hip, Hip, Hurrah!
Following these cheers is loud laughing, clinking of glasses and drinking.
Second Soldier: Here’s to the King, the Royal Edward, King of England and Lord of Scotland.
All: Long live King Edward! Long hive His Gracious Majesty!
All soldiers, except Bruce, leave the table and go to foot of Castle. One is heard to say:
Third Soldier: By my life, Robert the Bruce must have a hearty stomach.
First Soldier: What causes you to compliment a Scot so highly!
Third Soldier: Why that is he yonder—that Scot who is eating his own blood.
First Soldier starting out: Ha, ha. It is well for King Edward and his loyal soldiers that there are Scots, who for flattery or plunder, are willing to shed their own blood and eat it, as Bruce is now doing.
Soldiers all go eat leaving Bruce alone, he meditating, says:
Bruce: Methinks I do appear in rather awkward light before these same Englishmen. It is small esteem they hold for such services as I have rendered upon this day’s battlefield. What? Eating my own blood? By the Holy Rood, ‘tis true. My blood; my God, how it burns my flesh and calls upon my very soul for vengeance. Aye, Scotland, thou shalt be revenged until in the deepest ooze of thy fens the life-blood of the English tyrant lies curdled, and Scotland free! Tableau.
Hoodwink closed and refugee led from the room.
 
Church scene
 
Church scene arranged. Priests and censors burning candles; Guide brings refugee in, who sees Comyn kneeling at chancel. Bruce enters, approaches altar and kneels when Priest retires to preparation room.
Bruce: Ah, Sir John, to meet you thus alone is an opportunity I long have sought. Many and grievous are the wrongs done to Scotland that call loudly for redress. She, who was once a sovereign state, is now a despoiled and miserable dependency. Her noble sons slaughtered or helping to reek a conqueror’s vengeance upon her children who still dare to love their ancient liberty. Come, Sir John, let, us bury all our past differences in the grave of our coountry’s needs. Let us now decide which of us shall be king of Scotland, and both devote our fortunes and our lives seeking to restore her to her former grandeur. You take my estates and help me to the throne, or give me your estates and I will never lay down my arms until you are acknowledged by our oppressor the sovereign of Albion’s hills.
Comyn: Ha! Darest even the Bruce attempt to corrupt the sworn loyalty of a Comyb to his gracious sovereign! What is Scotland to me but a stepping-stone to preferment in a greater realm. What has been the past history of Scotland but a record of petty jealousies and strifes. Never, no never, call Scotland be at peace until subdued by such a king as our gracious Edward, who will destroy the last traitor, such as Robert the Bruce has just shown himself to be, and of which his king shall know.
Bruce: Darest thou betray the fidelity of a Scot?
Comyn: Only the treason of a subject to his king.
Bruce stabs Comyn: Die then, as becomes a Scot who lacks valor to defend his own.
Comyn falls, creeps slowly away as Bruce rushes out of the church, where he confronts Killpatrick, who stops him and says:
Killpatrick: Ha! brute, what is amiss with thee?
Bruce: I fear I have slain the Red Comyn.
Killpatrick: Dost thou not know in affairs so important? “I mak sikar.”
During this parley Comyn is heard to groan and Killpatrick rushes into the church and finishes him by stabbing. Tableau.
 
Cabin scene
 
Hoodwink closed and refugee is lead to inner court. Cabin scene is prepared and Guide returns with refugee and says:
Guide: The murder of Comyn by Bruce had more to do with the fate of Scotland than had the crossing of the Rubicon upon Rome. It irrevocably sealed Bruce’s fate, for no matter how dark and gloomy the outlook, he was compelled to raise the standard of revolt in Scotland. Defeat after defeat followed him for some time after his sacrilege in the church; at times he was compelled to flee for his life as a common refugee. On some of these occasions he was pursued by men with fierce blood hounds, and often he became very discouraged and disheartened. Come with me and see a representation of Bruce at one of the lowest stages in his fortune.
Guide opens hoodwink and a knock is heard.
Dame: Who comes?
Bruce, entering: A traveler who is this night journeying through the country and is in need of shelter.
Dame: Welcome then, for all strangers are welcome here for the sake of one.
Bruce: And who is that one for whom you make all strangers welcome?
Dame: Sir, it is our rightful king Robert the Bruce, who is lawful lord of this country, and although he is pursued with horns and hounds, I hope to see him king over all Scotland.
Bruce: Since you love him so well, my good dame, know that you see him before you. I am Robert the Bruce.
Dame: You? And whyfore are you thins alone? Where are all your men?
Bruce: I have none with me at this moment, and must travel alone.
Dame: But this shall not be. I have two sons, gallant and trusty men, who shall be your servants for life and for death.
Dame goes to window and calls her two sons.
Dame: Come quickly my noble bairns.
Sons enter in haste.
Dame: Sons, behold our noble Bruce; honor our rightful king.
Sons kneel.
Dame: I have pledged you both to him and his service for life and for death.
Bruce: Rise noble Scots; I accept the offer of your worthy dame, but first must demand a solemn pledge of fealty.
Sons: We swear it.
Sons kneel and take the following obligation, which Bruce administers with drawn sword.
Bruce: I, …, upon my most sacred honor, pledge my support to the cause of The Royal Highlanders, and promise to assist in every way not inconsistant with right and honor in upbuilding and sustaining this institution, which has by prudence, fidelity, and valor, agreed to protect me and mine.
Guide: Let us go into the cabin.
Guide knocks and refugee and Guide enters Sons and Bruce draw for defense, Bruce recognizes Guide and says:
Bruce: Hold, worthy Scots, this is a worthy clansman.
Guide advances and salutes Bruce cordially, using the grip, leads refugee forward, presenting him and says:
Guide: My noble Chief, I bring you my friend who has sworn fealty to Scotland.
Bruce: Well said, but will he take the same obligation these noble sons of our good dame have taken?
Guide and Refugee (kneeling):
I will.
Bruce draws sword and says:
Bruce: I, …, upon my most solemn honor, pledge my support to the cause of The Royal Highlanders, and promise to assist in every way not inconsistent with right and honor in upbuilding and sustaining this institution, which has by prudence, fidelity, and valor, agreed to protect me and mine.
A tumult and clash of arms and voices distinguishable above the noise are heard. Sons, Guide and refugee prepare to defend Bruce. A party of Soldiers, Spearsmen, and Archers enter when Bruce says:
Bruce: Hold, Clansmen! I recognize true friends and Clansmen. This is, indeed, our good Lord Douglas and my beloved brother Edward, with their valiant Highlanders.
Bruce embraces his brother, and cordially welcomes Douglas, and Clansmen with grip.
Bruce: What of the foe?
Edward: They are in the village only a few miles away, and deeming themselves secure, owing to the dispersion of The Royal Highlanders, have stationed only an indifferent watch.
Douglas: True, for I have just passed a village where two hundred of them were quartered and no sentinels in sight.
Bruce: Then let us be oft; for while the usurper remains within our borders the battlefield is Scotland’s choicest banquet table.
 
Final Charges
 
All go out. Guide takes Refugee to outer court, removes hoodwink, allows time for Castle to resume order, returns to C.C. station, salutes, and addresses Refugee as follows:
Guide: Let us consult the Chief Counselor and see what lessons he has drawn for us from history.
Chief Counselor: The Royal Highlanders have selected as one of their emblems the Spider’s Web, because it so forcibly reminds us that by perseverence and industry we may constantly spread our beneficent influences from one central point into all the earth, ever firmly bound together by the cable of fraternity, whose widening circles never cease. If a spider’s web be broken fifty times he will mend it as often, so, also, the rewards of perseverence and industry are certain.
As Scotland’s fate once hung upon the successful cast of spider’s web, so our lives arc hanging by a brittle thread, which, if broken before we have performed our duty as faithful Clansmen, may leave our loved ones unprotected. Consider well these things, for they are important.
Guide: Let us go to the Worthy Evangel; he may tell us more about Robert the Bruce.
Guide and Refugee go to Evangel. Guide salutes, and says:
Guide: We would know even more about Scotland’s good king, Robert the Bruce.
Evangel: My clansmen, I am gratified to hear you ask to learn more of the champion of Scottish liberty. Bruce saw many dark days between the night at the English Soldiers’ banquet table and the day he ascended the throne of Scotland. His reign was a happy one, for his subjects loved and loyally sustained him.
For the sacrilege Bruce committed in the church he was excommunicated by the Pope, but sincerely repentant of the act, Bruce vowed to atone for this offense by a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but death prevented its fulfillment; however, just before dying he resolved that in token of his sincerity, his heart should be severed from his body and buried in holy ground. After his death Bruce’s heart was encased in silver and entrusted to his valiant friend Lord Douglas, whose duty it was to carry it to its final resting place in Palestine.
Time Royal Highlanders have adopted “The Bruce heart” as another emblem, and it reminds us that it is our duty during life to atone as much as possible for all sins committed against God, or injuries done our fellow man.
The Guide will now conduct you to the Illustrious Protector, who will instruct you further in the secret work of the Fraternity.
Guide and Refugee go to Illustrious Protector’s station.
Illustrious Protector: I have watched with pleasure the progress you have made in the mysteries of Clansmen, and I deem you worthy of our entire confidence, as proof of which I now invest you with our pass. It is … At some future time it will afford me pleasure to fully explain to you the reasons for the adoption of this pass. This password will aid you in obtaining admission through time inner door to any Tributary Castle of The Royal Highlanders. Our semi-annual pass is … This word changes semi-annually and is used at the outer door. The working sign is …, and is used as a hailing sign and in voting in the Castle meetings. The grip is given in this manner … The words of distress are …, …, and are the words uttered by a Scottish Chieftian in the moment of his dire distress. This should be used only in extreme cases, but hearing it, should rally every true Highlander to the aid of a Clansman. In ordinary cases and in day light, use this as a sign of distress. The recognition sign is given thus …, and, if convenient, accompanied by the words …; the answer is given in a like manner, but accompanied by the words … The Grand Honors of this Fraternity are given thus … It is indicative of high resolve. This should be the inspiration of all Royal Highlanders in the performance of their fraternal duties. Our past Illustrious Protector will now confer upon you the final charge; heed well all he may say, for I assure you he cares for you.
Guide conducts Refugee to Past station. The Past Illustrious Protector rises and thus addresses the Refugee:
Past Illustrious Protector: Life is indeed a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two vague and vast eternities—the eternity of the past and the eternity of the future. Cut in the everlasting mock upon the one hand is the word Youth, and under it, is its symbol, a cradle. Upon the other hand are the words Old Age, and their symbol, a coffin, illustrating the truth of the old adage, that “it is but a step from the cradle to the grave.” Between those rugged rocks are found the shades of love and peace, shadows of ambition, sands of disappointment, mountains of difficulties, and rivers of tears. Well might any man shrink from the vicissitudes of the journey across were it not for the effulgent light from life’s two great beacons, Hope and Fraternity.
Hope lures man on and on against adversity, through the rush of business life, or through the shock of battle in the wish that some dear object of attainment may be accomplished. Fraternity is brotherly love between man and man. It enables us to rejoice in a Clansman’s good fortune, sympathize with him in his sorrows, and render assistance in his extremity, ever remembering in dispensing charity that:
That us no true alms which the hand can hold;
He gives nothing but worthless gold
who gives from a sense of duty,
But he who gives a slender mite,
And gives to that which is out of sight,
That thread of all-sustaining beauty
which runs through all and doth all unite—
The hand cannot clasp the whole of his alms,
The heart outstretches its eager palms
For a God goes with it and makes it store
To the soul that was starving in darkness before.
‘Tis not what we give, but what we share,
The gilt without the giver is hare,
who gives himself with his alms feeds three,
himself, has hungry neighbor, and me”
Now that you have become a tower of strength to this Castle, possessed of its secrets and entitled to its benefits, you will add strength to our strength and become useful to this Fraternity only as you shall learn well this most important lesson and shape your life accordingly, amid may you ever remember there is much to gain by adhering to a life of Prudence, Fidelity, and Valor. Then so live that when your days are numbered, and the last summons comes to thee, to join the innumerable host which is steadily marching toward that mysterious realm, you can approach thy last resting place and lie down peacefully in the bosom of mother earth in sweet repose.
Clansmen, arise and salute our new Clansman with the honors so befitting a Royal Highlander.
Illustrious Protector gives three raps, all Clansmen rise and give the honors after which he gives one rap and all are seated. The Past Illustrious Protector then proceeds as follows:
Past Illustrious Protector: Valiant Guide, conduct our last tower of strength to the seat of honor at the right of the Illustrious Protector.
Guide resumes his station after conducting new Clansman to his seat.
 

Closing
 
Illustrious Protector: Does any Clansman know of any duties omitted this night, or of any Clansman sick or in need of our assistance?
Chief Counselor: All our duties have been performed, the lessons of Prudence, Fidelity, and Valor have been received into our willing hearts, and we are now ready to go forth into the world.
Illustrious Protector: It is well. Gives … raps.
But before we part let us heartily join in singing our Closing Ode.
TUNE, America
God bless our Highland band,
And may we ever stand
For Truth and flight
Be our Protector, Friend,
And guide us to the end
When foes assail, defend
By Thy great might
Illustrious Protector: Now by the authority vested in me I affirm that unless circumstances arise requiring aim earlier assemblage of the Clansmen, this Castle is closed until our next meeting. I fraternally bid you all good-night.
All: Good-night.

The Royal Highlanders
Ritual of Fraternal Degree

1897

 
Most, if not all, societies similar to The Royal Highlanders, make use of some side degree for the entertainment of the members. As a rue they are provocative of more or less amusement, depending, of course, largely upon the amount of interest and enthusiasm shown by the members, at the same time, a lesson is taught which the candidate will never forget, and if heeded, will prove of advantage to him in after life. Below will be found a fraternal degree which can be worked in all Castles, without any extra expense for paraphernalia or special preparation, and one in which all members can and should take an active part. If the Castle decides to use the degree. It should always be given after the tower building is completed, the password and grips being omitted in the regular work, but given after conferring the side degree.
The suggestion is offered that care should be exercised in the selection of a refugee whose experience in secret societies is limited. The best results are obtained with one who has never had any connection with secret societies—this being his initial step in that direction. The Illustrious Protector and Chief Counselor should have their respective parts well in hand so that the ritual will not have to be referred to.
After the refugee has received the Worthy Evangel’s final charge, the Guide will present him at the Past Illustrious Protector’s station, who will address him as follows:
Past Illustrious Protector: Valiant Guide, conduct the refugee to the inner court of this Castle, where he will await the pleasure of the Illustrious Protector.
The Valiant Guide salutes and conducts the refugee to the inner court, where they remain until notified by the Warder to enter. When so notified, they enter the Castle and the refugee is taken directly to the station of the Chief Counselor, and saluting, the Guide says:
Valiant Guide: Chief Counselor, I have brought hither the refugee for final instructions.
Chief Counselor, rising: My friend, thus far in your progress in our order you have shown a willingness to be led and taught by us. It is, however, just as essential that every Clansman should be able to head and to teach. Before you can be given all the secrets of The Royal Highlanders, it will be necessary for you to demonstrate that you are possessed of those very important qualifications.

Then turning to the Valiant Guide, addresses him as follows:
Chief Counselor: Valiant Guide, conduct the refugee to the Illustrious Protector, who will invest him with the authority of a Royal Highlander.
Valiant Guide takes the refugee to the station of the Illustrious Protector and says:
Valiant Guide: Illustrious Protector, by direction of our Chief Counselor, I present refugee … for further and final instructions.
Illustrious Protector, rising: My friend, as has already been intimated by our Chief Counselor, it will now be your duty to preside over this Castle during the remainder of this session, and I therefore take pleasure in relinquishing into your hands this emblem of authority, the gavel.
Hands him the gavel and taking him by the arm conducts him to his seat. He then continues:
Illustrious Protector: The signals are as follows: one rap of the gavel seats the Clansmen, two raps calls up the officers, and three raps calls all present to their feet. You will call the Castle to its feet.
When the three raps are given all the Clansmen present rise to their feet and salute, after which the Illustrious Protector suggests to the refugee to seat the Clansmen by one rap.
Illustrious Protector: As all authority is now given to you, I trust you will govern with firmness and equal fairness to all, and thins, not only prove your ability as a presiding officer, but win the esteem and friendship of all Clansmen.
The Illustrious Protector then takes a seat among the Clansmen.
Secretary, rising at his station, salutes the refugee, and says: Illustrious Protector, if there is no objection I would like to present this bill at this time and have it referred to the Committee on Claims with instructions to report thereon at once.
No objection being offered the secretary reads a fictitious bill for “rent due,” or it may be a “Proposed Amendment to the Edicts,” or a charge against a fellow Clansman for violation of his obligation or the rules of the order, or anything that will form a good basis for discussion. When a subject has been selected and presented by the Secretary, it should he properly brought before the Castle by a motion and second and the discussions commences moderately at first but warming up as it progresses, and by the use of amendments and substitutes and other parliamentary tactics the refugee will find himself so hopelessly involved that he finally gives up in despair and begs to be relieved by the Illustrious Protector. At such time the Illustrious Protector can relieve him by resuming the station and sounding the gavel for order. He then turns to the refugee and says:
Illustrious Protector: My friend, I am both surprised and chagrined at your inability to fill the station which you have just vacated in a manner creditable to yourself and pleasing to your friends. Without doubt you share with me this feeling, and charity for the weaknesses and faults of our fellow men would dictate their oversight, but having expected so much and received so little, it becomes our duty not only to yourself, but the future welfare of this Castle, that the matter receive the serious consideration of all the Clansmen here assembled.
Turning to the Clansmen the Illustrious Protector says:
Illustrious Protector: Clansmen, what is your will and pleasure regarding the further advancement of the refugee?
Some Clansmen should then charge him with being unfitted to become a Clansman, as shown by his incapacity to govern the Castle, the unfairness of his rulings, ignorance of simple parliamentary rules, and other objections may be alleged that will suggest themselves. Some other Clansmen can be a friend of the refugee, speak for and defend him. The Clansmen should be about equally divided for and against the refugee. A vote can be taken on a motion to suspend further work on the refugee for a period of a year or more, and the vote should be against hum, but the Illustrious Protector should refrain from announcing the result and order another vote on the question, restating it for fear some may have voted under a misunderstanding of the subject. At this point some Clansmen should make a plea in behalf of the refugee along the line of sympathy, charity, and other fraternity tenents of the Order, after which the second vote is taken and results in his favor, and is so announced by the Illustrious Protector. The Illustrious Protector then says:
Illustrious Protector: Valiant Guide, present the refugee for further and final instructions.
The valiant Guide presents the refugee in front of the station of the Illustrious Protector and says:
Valiant Guide: Illustrious Protector, the refugee awaits your pleasure.
Illustrious Protector: This experience you have just passed through should teach you a valuable lesson. It is always easier to create a disturbance than to quiet it, and when once started it grows in ever widening circles until it is beyond control. Be therefore ever watchful that no seeds of discord find lodgment in our beloved order, and you will merit the esteem and confidence of all worthy Clansmen.
The Illustrious Protector will now proceed to give his final charge, and finish with the regular tower-building ceremonies

 

         

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