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ODD FELLOWS' MAGAZINE,
MR. JAMES MANSFIELD.
Ir being vitally important for the welfare of the Order, that the nicest discrimination should be used in the election of its chief officer, so it is equally gratifying, when one is chosen possessing the necessary qualifications to govern the community with dignity and honour; and secure to his office universal respect and obedience. The talent, which, at an early period of its history was sufficient for the performance of this high trust, would now, that its business has become complexed, and much increased in amount, prove totally inadequate, and suffer considerably in our estimation. Our proceedings would be confused, doubts continually arise without being elucidated, and questions of great importance submitted to the G. M.'s judgment, which might remain unanswered, or, for want of ability, and the exercise of a sound judgment, the demon Discord would reign predominant, to the manifest injury of our best interests, and probable ultimate destruction of the Institution. I intend not in this article, to impugn the characters or talents of those past officers, through whose agency the Order has attained to its present importance in society, by whose fostering care it has been sheltered from the keen shafts of slander and prejudice, and its precepts and charity disseminated, not only in our green isle, but also in other climes; where the widow and the fatherless have partaken of its bounty, viewed its structure with wonder, and blessed the donors who snatched them from destitution and misery. On the contrary, these gentlemen are entitled to our lasting gratitude; to them our thanks are especially due, for laying the foundation of a fabric in which we glory, and that promises at a future day to rank among the first benevolent Institutions Great Britain can boast. How, then, ought we to prize the man, who, profiting by the experience of his predecessors, and as our chief director, in whom is united a complete knowledge of the laws, unblemished honor and integrity, with courtesy and gentleness of manners, the unfailing characteristics of a gentleman, and the sure passport to the respect and affection of every individual with whom he may come into contact in the course of his professional duties.
Our G. M. is a native of Manchester, was born in the month of July, 1808, and initiated in the Rose of Sharon Lodge, in the same town in March 1829, of which he continues a member. Before this period his circle of acquaintance was limited, and had the gentleman who introduced him, not used the influence that a most devoted friendship and regard for his friend entitled him, the Order might not now have this valuable acquisition to its ranks. He regularly attended his Lodge, and evidently took pleasure in its prosperity, and the rapid accession to its numbers, but was noticed principally for his retiring modesty and kindness to all around; and questions of the first importance were discussed without his interference. His talents which have since shone so conspicuously, had not then been developed, and although a mute observer he was busily preparing himself to achieve those great improvements in the Order, some of which have
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already been effected through his administration of its affairs. In this state of obscurity he remained until the month of April, 1830, when he was appointed Secretary to his Lodge, and afterwards to the other elective offices without opposition, and attended to the general routine of his duty with credit to himself, and the satisfaction of every member. He was afterwards presented with a valuable and richly chased silver medal, and appointed permanent Secretary, and for his services in that capacity, had an elegant silver snuff-box, of the most exquisite workmanship, and bearing an appropriate inscription given to him; the funds for both these tokens of esteem, being raised by voluntary subscription. More manly exhibitions of feeling were never witnessed in the Order, or devoted zeal displayed to promote its interests, than in his replies to the addresses delivered to him on these occasions; his innate delicacy still directed his observations, and he appeared to appreciate to its fullest extent, the regard in which he was held, and to be sensibly affected with these interesting scenes, as he stood in the midst of his brethren the object of their love and admiration. In the meantime his sphere of usefulness had not been confined to his Lodge, but his District and the Order were also benefited by his exertions, and the man who shortly before was unnoticed and unknown, became an object of applause and consideration. At the June Committee in 1831, he was elected one of the members of the Board of Directors, when his valuable services were again called into requisition in being appointed Secretary to the Board, in which office he continued two years; in June 1832, he was elected D. G. M. without opposition, a circumstance almost unparalleled in the District, and mentioned here to show the sort of feeling entertained towards him, when none could be found, who either thought him unworthy of confidence, or by opposing him, raise a question as to his eligibility for the office to which he so honourably aspired.
It may be necessary to state the condition in which the District was delivered to him and his worthy colleague, and the decided part he acted to effect the salutary change made in our affairs, in a great measure through his instrumentality; at the period I am alluding to, the ceremony of initiation had not been stripped of its absurdities that were calculated to create disgust, rather than respect in the minds of new members, who, instead of being immediately impressed with the utility and importance of the Order, had to wait the development of those finer traits in its character, that have already drawn around its sacred standard near 70,000 devoted followers; the remembrance of this ridiculous ceremony provokes a smile, even at this distance of time, when its attendant evils have fled from before us, and yielded to another, both more talented and appropriate, while the glow of admiration proudly arose on witnessing the triumph of wisdom over burlesque ignorance and folly. It is true that he found the district in a state of strict discipline, and upon the whole prosperous; but it was a discipline arising out of a rigid enforcement of the laws, without discrimination or regard for the principles on which they were founded, consequently the officers were viewed with distrust, and were nowhere received with the respect and warmth of friendship, which men in their situations ought to claim. This state of things not being in unison with his feelings, and the dictates of his heart, he laboured most assiduously to regain for their offices, the confidence and esteem of their brethren, by his coustesy and suavity of conduct, in which he was warmly aided by his superior. If he differed from others in opinion, he would always adduce reasons both sound and convincing, and, therefore, became as much respected for his superior knowledge, as for his other amiable qualities. When he found it absolutely necessary to notice a fault in another, he did it privately, so that those who erred through ignorance, were spared the pain of exposure; but the wilful transgressor might soon perceive, that his duty as an officer, had raised an impenetrable barrier to his confidence and favour, unless through the medium of propriety of conduct, and a strict observance of the laws. In a short time he found that his exertions were crowned with complete success, his society was courted, and the smile of welcome which played on the countenance of the members when he entered the Lodge, with the manner in which he was greeted, must have convinced the most sceptical, that a great change had been wrought, and confidence restored; the studied caution which was observed in the presence of the District Officers, now yielded to the genial influence of courtesy and friendship. Having succeeded to the office of G. M. of the District, he pursued the same undeviating line of conduct, displayed the same energy and determination to stand or fall by the line of policy he had adopted, and the result has justified his fondest anticipations; nothing, I am sure, can exceed the pleasure I feel, to see how the District