Ritual of the Ancient Toltec Rite
Chapter Degree
Companions of Justice and Mercy


Bodies of this Section of the Rite are styled CHAPTERS. The members are called “Companions”.
The stage is set with a Temple of Justice setting, preferably painted in light colors.
The back drop is arranged to raise and display the tableaux at the proper times.
The Altar is covered with white, decked with flowers, the same as the Second Section of the preceding, or Cloister Degree. The Holy Bible lies open upon the Altar and upon it, laying horizontally, with the point to the north, an arrow
The Toltec Emblem, illuminated, is in the East.
On the Altar of the Excellent High Priest is a gavel.
On the Altar of the Excellent High Priestess is a censer, a silver cup of Incense, a small silver salt spoon, a dish of salt and a miniature trowel and a gavel.
The Altar of Justice is in the South, that of Mercy in the North. All Altars may be decorated with flowers, palms, etc. A gavel is on each Altar.

Officers and Titles
The Excellent High Priest, who sits in the East.
The Excellent High Priestess, who sits in the East.
The Priestess of Mercy, who sits in the North.
The Priestess of Justice, who sits in the South.
The Mistress of the Records, who sits in the Southeast.
The Mistress of the Treasury, who sits in the Southeast.
The Chaplain, who sits in the Northeast.
The Mistress of the Ceremonies, who sits in the Northeast.
The Associate Mistress of the Ceremonies, who sits in the Southwest.
The Musician.
The Orator, who sits in the Northwest.
The Guardian, who sits near the door on the inside of the Chapter.
The Sentinel, who stands without the door armed with a drawn sword.
The Aspirant.
Each Officer wears a badge of office, as described in the Council Degree.
The clothing is similar to that provided for use in the Second Apartment of the Cloister.
The Sister who represents the Aspirants is clothed as for the Second Apartment in the Cloister.
The Excellent High Priest wears the robes of a King. The balance of the officers wearing the costumes of the same corresponding rank in the Council Degree, as explained in the Cloister Degree.
The Characters for the “Merchant of Venice” scene are costumed in early period Venetian apparel. These are procurable at any costumers.
Opening of the Chapter
Inasmuch as the general body is always opened in the Council and this body has been declared at rest for the purpose of conferring the Chapter Degree, it is not necessary that a complete opening and closing be used. After the Council has been opened, and the time has come to begin the Chapter. Proceed as follows:
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST, *: The watchers of the sun dial on the Temple of the Hours have cried the time, the people have awakened from their siestas and this Chapter is ready to begin its labors.
Companion Mercy, have any come among us who are not of the Order?
if Mercy knows all present to be of the Order, she may make her answer directly befit, if she is in doubt, she proceeds as follows:
MERCY, * *: Companions, Mistress of the Ceremonies and Associate Mistress of the Ceremonies, you will proceed in the ancient way to make sure that all here present are of our Order.
The officers addressed proceed to the center East and turning about proceed to satisfy themselves that all are members. If any are found that they do not know as such, they request them to arise and be identified. When they have completed their examination, they return to their stations and report as follows:
ASSOCIATE MISTRESS OF THE CEREMONIES: Companion Mistress of the Ceremonies all assembled in the South of the Temple, are of the Order.
MISTRESS OF THE CEREMONIES: Companion Mercy, all who are assembled in the North of the Temple, are of the Order.
MERCY: Excellent High Priest, all who are here assembled are of the Order. *.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST: Since all present be of the Order, it is fitting that we delay not the work in which we are engaged.
Companion Chaplain, will you invoke the blessing of Deity upon our labors?
Chaplain proceeds at a slow march, while organ plays sacred music. She goes South across the hall, turns West to rear of Altar, turns right until she is behind Altar, faces East and halts. Music stops
CHAPLAIN: O thou most high God, who created the universe, we crave Thy blessing upon our present convocation. Endow us with a portion of Thy Divine Spirit and The Divine light. Make us thankful for the many benefits we receive at Thy hands, and help us to exercise Justice and Mercy in all our walks of life. Have us in Thy Holy keeping, and keep our footsteps from error. Amen.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST: I now declare this Chapter to be Legally opened and ready for any procedure of which it is empowered. * Companion Guardian, you will inform the Sentinel.
GUARDIAN raps on door * * . Sentinel raps * * and door is opened. Guardian says: Companion Sentinel, This Chapter is legally opened. You may admit those who are of the Order at opportune times. Closes the door. Excellent High Priest, I have obeyed your order.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST: Companion Mistress of the Ceremonies you will search the ante chamber and the hall of public meeting and ascertain if there be any eligible to be received into this Chapter. If such there be, you will assemble them and report to me.
She retires without ceremony into the preparation room and assembles the class, selecting one lady to act as an active Aspirant, when all is in readiness. she returns to the Chapter room without ceremony and advancing to the Altar says:
MISTRESS OF THE CEREMONIES: Excellent High Priest, I find Sister … who is to act for them as their Aspirant and …  Sisters and Brothers.
They have all been regularly initiated into the Cloister and now seek advancement to be Companions of Justice and Mercy.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST: Are there any objections to proceeding? Companion Mistress of the Ceremonies, you will proceed with your duties.
She retires and the class except the active Aspirant are marched around room, organ playing, and seated as in the Cloister. She again retires and escorting ASPIRANT raps * * * *.
ASSOCIATE MISTRESS OF THE CEREMONIES: Excellent High Priestess, there is an alarm at the door of the room of the neophytes.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIESTESS: Ascertain who makes the alarm and for what purpose.
Associate Mistress of the Ceremonies goes to the door and opens it.
ASSOCIATE MISTRESS OF THE CEREMONIES: Who have you here, Companion Mistress of the Ceremonies?
MISTRESS OF THE CEREMONIES: It is a Sister of Charity, who is desirous of being advanced to the Degree of Companion of Justice and Mercy.
ASSOCIATE MISTRESS OF CEREMONIES to candidate: Do you make this request with the determination to apply to the best of your ability the principles of Justice and Mercy to all mankind?
ASSOCIATE MISTRESS OF THE CEREMONIES, addressing Mistress of Ceremonies: Is she worthy of our confidence and esteem?
MISTRESS OF THE CEREMONIES: She has it not. I have it for her.
ASSOCIATE MISTRESS OF THE CEREMONIES: Give me the pass word. It is given in a whisper. Let her wait until the Excellent High Priestess can be informed and her desire ascertained.
Associate Mistress of the Ceremonies closes the door and marches Eastward to nearly behind the Altar, turns right to center of Altar, a gong sounds twice.
ASSOCIATE MISTRESS OF THE CEREMONIES: Excellent High Priestess, the alarm was caused by the Companion Mistress of the Ceremonies, conducting a worthy Sister of Charity, who is desirous of being advanced to the degree of Companion of Justice and Mercy.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIESTESS: Does she make this request with a determination to apply to the best of her ability the principles of Justice and Mercy to all of mankind?
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIESTESS: Is she worthy of our confidence and esteem?
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIESTESS: Let her enter and be conducted into our presence.
The hall is partially darkened Associate Mistress of the Ceremonies returns to door of neophytes.
ASSOCIATE MISTRESS OF THE CEREMONIES, opening the door: It is the order of the Excellent High Priestess that the Aspirant enter and be conducted to the Altar facing the East.
Mistress of the Ceremonies conducts Aspirant in one circuit about the room as in Cloister Degree. Halting behind Altar. A gong sounds twice.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST, addressing Aspirant and Class: Are you willing to devote yourselves faithfully to the practice of the teachings of this Degree; to be loyal, to your Companions, and in all things, to the best of your ability, to fulfill the requirements of Justice and Mercy? The Class must answer.
ASPIRANT and each one of the class: I am.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST: If we admit you to our Chapter, do you promise to be a true and faithful Companion among us, and perform every duty and fulfill every vow to the extent of your ability?
ASPIRANT (All): I do.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST: Do you promise to be tolerant, generous with everyone, especially if you are placed in authority, and lend a helping hand to distress?
ASPIRANT (All): I do.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST: Kneel. Place your right hand on the Holy Bible and an arrow, your left hand pressed to your heart. * * *
“There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the Holy place of the Tabernacles of the Most High. God is in the midst of her. The Lord of Hosts is with us. O send out Thy Light and Thy Truth; let them lead me; let them bring me unto Thy Holy Hill, and to Thy Tabernacles. Then I will go unto the Altar of God, and my prayer shall be unto the God of my life. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people.
God is the Lord which has showed us light.” All the lights are turned on. Companions, come with me to the Altar and witness the solemn vow of these Aspirants.
The Companions form a semi-circle around the Aspirants, who repeat after the Excellent High Priest the following vow:
I, …, upon my sacred word and honor, asking God to be my witness, do solemnly promise and vow that I will keep the secrets of this Degree, and will not reveal them to anyone who shall not be legally authorized to receive them. I furthermore promise and vow, that I will not consent to receive in this Degree anyone who has not received the Degree of Sister or Brother of Charity, in a legally constituted Cloister of this Order. I furthermore promise and vow, that I will hereafter use my best endeavors to give righteous judgment only, and be swayed neither by fear nor favor. I furthermore promise and vow, that I will be merciful and compassionate, and avoid all haughtiness in my demeanor and conversation. I furthermore promise and vow that I will endeavor to assist my Sisters and Brothers in every way consistent with the ends of Justice and Mercy, and aid them in all their laudable undertakings. I furthermore promise and vow, that I will be just to everyone, and merciful to those less fortunate than I, and will at all times be faithful and loyal to every Sister and Brother of this Degree; and may God help me in the performance of this vow, both in the letter and in the spirit. Amen.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST returns to his station accompanied by Excellent High Priestess: Companions and Aspirants except active Aspirant, be seated. *
Officers return to their stations, Companions are seated.
Aspirant is conducted slowly three times about the hall by Mistress of the Ceremonies and Excellent High Priestess, Sister Mercy and Sister Justice repeat as follows (As they pass their stations.) Organ, P. P.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST: Companion Mistress of the Ceremonies, you will conduct the Aspirant in .the traditional manner.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIESTESS: Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.
Gavel *.
JUSTICE: Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.
Gavel *.
MERCY: Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.
Gavel *.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIESTESS: O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever.
Gavel *.
JUSTICE: To Him that by wisdom made the heavens; for His mercy endureth forever.
Gavel *.
MERCY: O give thanks unto the Lord of Lords; for His mercy endureth forever.
Gavel *.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIESTESS: To Him that stretched out the earth above the waters; for His mercy endureth forever.
Gavel *.
JUSTICE: The sun to rule by day; the moon and stars to rule by night; for His mercy endureth forever.
Gavel *.
MERCY: To Him that made the great lights; for His mercy endureth forever.
Gavel *.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST: Sister Mistress of the Ceremonies, conduct the Aspirant to the altar of the Excellent High Priestess.
Organ plays dignified march until Aspirant is before Altar of Excellent High Priestess
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIESTESS, lights Censer, and hands Aspirant the silver spoon: You will repeat after me: Our Heavenly Father, unto Thee sacrificing, I beseech Thee to give me a new heart and a contrite spirit. Aspirant takes a little incense on spoon and burns it at Censer.
Help me to renounce undue pride and a haughty spirit. Burns incense.
Help me to renounce uncharitableness and selfishness. Burns incense.
Help me to renounce envy, and malice, and hatred, and anger. Burns incense.
Help me to renounce jealousy and suspicion. Burns incense.
Help me to renounce misrepresentation and distrustfulness. Burns incense.
Help me to renounce revenge, covetousness, and the sins which do so easily beset me. Burns incense.
As Aspirant completes each sentence, she burns incense
ALL ASPIRANTS, prompted, by Excellent High Priestess: We do join in all the petitions expressed by the Aspirant.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIESTESS: In the eastern desert, the guest of the Bedouin who has tasted salt with him is immune by the laws of hospitality, no matter what offense he may have committed. With this salt I seal your obligation and make the bonds of companionship and duty indissoluble. Aspirant tastes the salt. By me the Sister Companions of this Chapter and of the Order everywhere do here renew their obligation taken in this Degree, and hereby pledge to you true companionship and loyal friendship, you proving worthy and true. Excellent High Priestess tastes the salt.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST: By the same mystic symbol, the Brother Companions of this Chapter and of the Order everywhere, here renew their obligation taken in this Degree, and hereby pledge and promise you true companionship, respectful loyalty and brotherly protection everywhere and at all times, you proving worthy and true. Most Excellent High Priest tastes the salt.
My sister, our Chapter represents the Temple of Justice and Mercy. As companions of Justice and Mercy, we are engaged in a great and noble struggle to extirpate error and exalt truth. Side by side with you, my Sisters, with equal zeal though with different duties, we press forward to that goal. Feeble, indeed, would be our efforts and barren the results were it not for the encouraging voice, the disinterested admonitions and the abiding interest of woman. Deeply impressed with our responsibilities, and earnestly engaged in our endeavors, we ask you to aid us in our undertakings.
Companion Mistress of the Ceremonies conduct the Aspirant to the Altar of Justice.
Organ resumes march until Aspirant is before Justice.
The Aspirant is conducted to the Altar of Justice.
JUSTICE: Justice is an attribute of God; the center and foundation of the universe. We can never hope to attain truth if we turn a deaf ear to the admonition of Justice. Every day of our existence, almost hourly, we are called upon to judge the acts of others. Do we, in our daily lives, render to every man his due, without stint and without prejudice? We should concede to everyone honesty of intention and purpose until compelled by the weight of evidence to decide otherwise. Be slow to believe wrong of anyone, and endeavor to render to all such justice as you would desire to have rendered unto you.
We shall have attained a semblance of truth when we shall have disciplined our minds and hearts to be just to everyone.
We need not wait for some great crisis in order to practice Justice. Our kindred and friends and companions are always with us, and all are entitled to our just consideration; to a just opinion of their motives, character, and even of prejudices. Before condemning the errors of a Brother, be sure they are errors. Be slow to believe wrong of anyone.
It may be, that when God finally weighs man’s weaknesses, He will also consider man’s temptations; and thus it may also be that our own offences will weigh heavier than we now think. Then, how careful we should be to concede honesty of intention and purpose to everyone, until incriminating evidence removes the last presumption of innocence.
It is difficult for the finite mind to reconcile infinite justice with infinite mercy. We see the wicked prosper and ofttimes the virtuous struggling for life; the distracted mother weeping over the loss of her child; the widow disconsolate over the death of her husband and protector; we witness mediocrity snatching prizes that belong to superiority and ofttimes our faith in the prevalence of Justice wavers. But, Companion, forget not that Justice is one of the benificent things earthly that man can approximate—if he will—with devotion resembling that of the Great Judge himself; that in the building of his character, God furnishes the materials, but Man must himself do the building and Justice is an essential of every perfect character. God does not create character; it is one of the few personal attributes of man that he must create for himself.
Then let us not be hasty in repining, nor too ready to doubt the wisdom of God. The time will surely come when all these seeming inconsistencies will be reconciled; when we shall see and understand that all our trials and disappointments were but so many expressions of the Justice of God, to discipline us and lead us to a more earnest search for Truth.
Aspirant is seated while music is rendered, and tableau of Justice shown.
JUSTICE: Companion Mistress of the Ceremonies present the Aspirant at the Altar of Mercy.
Music resumed as before.
March is resumed west, turning north behind Altar, turning right until before Mercy.
MERCY: In the Hebrew, and in many of the ancient religions, and especially among Christians, Mercy is prominent as one of the noblest attributes of God. Our ancient brethren placed the Ark, which contained the covenant made by God with man, in the Most Holy Place of the Temple, and on the top of the Ark was the Mercy Seat, and Cherubims, with hovering wings, guarding the Holy Place. From this Mercy Seat the Bath-kol issued, when God made known His will to man.
Today, also, God communes with His children from the Mercy Seat; else how deplorable would be our condition! It is not on account of our own merits that we daily and hourly experience the blessings bestowed upon us. Should unmerciful Justice be meted out to us according to our transgressions our affliction would indeed be hard to endure.
Every day of our lives, Mercy pleads with God for our protection and happiness, and for all we hold most dear and sacred we are indebted to the Mercy of our Father. The smallest recompense we can make in return for this is that we ourselves when in authority shall be merciful. The opportunity is ever present. We have only to look about to find it. It is a slight act for us to perform, a little word to utter, but that feeble act, that little word, may work for good eternally. Cold, indeed, would be this world and dreary, were it deprived of Mercy. Harsh, indeed, would judgments be were not Justice tempered with Mercy. Few of us would dare to face our fate if we had no hope of Mercy.
“Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain Mercy.” “Be ye therefore Merciful, as your Father is Merciful.” Such were the teachings of Jesus, and that admonition, my Sister, is meant for you, for me, for all of us. Let us be Merciful to the faults and derelictions of others and Merciful always to one another.
We pray to be not lead into temptation, and yet in the next breath condemn the fallen. How do we know that, tempted like him, we also should not have been delinquent? A kind word is as refreshing dew and sunshine to a perishing heart, parched and shriveled by cold neglect or haughty disdain.
Mercy is a Godlike attribute, and shines best in the highest places. It’s mild effulgence lights the meanest hovel and the darkest dungeon. It pervades the home and fills it with sweetest peace. It spreads its halo in the Temple of Justice and stays the oppressing hand of force. Its healing beams nourish the hearts of the weak and the forsaken. It is a balm to the sick and the afflicted. It opens our hearts to the cries of the poor and helpless.
It is the handmaiden of Charity.
Let us enshrine the Goddess of Mercy in our hearts, and be ever mindful of her admonitions. So shall we attract to our altars the good, the true, the charitable, the just. So will our influence, spread by our example, until it shall reach every country and every people.
The Aspirant is seated. Music. Tableau of Mercy.
MERCY: Companion Mistress of the Ceremonies conduct the Aspirant to the Altar of the Excellent High Priestess.
Music is resumed as before.
March is resumed eastward, turning just before stage south, halting before High Priestess.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIESTESS: These are no idle ceremonies through which you have just passed. The vows we take are not mere words, to be repeated and forgotten. If you join with us in our ministrations of Justice and Mercy, you will be expected actively to engage in our labors for the advancement of your Sisters and Brothers to a higher plane of life. To aid in our endeavors, to enlighten the ignorant, to comfort the afflicted, to cheer the despairing, to render Justice to all, tempered with Mercy, and to withhold it from none.
In this Temple there are no judges bound by rituals and precedents. Here are no revenges to be taken; no selfish ends to be promoted by unworthy means. The measure of our judgment is to be the right, the true, the honorable, and the impartial. Every wrong done to another is an act of injustice, and injustice once done can never be undone. We may repent, we may be forgiven, but the consequence lives on.
No one is wholly good or entirely bad. We are to encourage good and correct that which is bad; rendering justice impartially between the high and the low, rich and poor; not only to the acts of others, but to their motives and opinions. We cannot know the weaknesses, the temptations, the unceasing struggles of our companions. We all need the helping hand, the kindly admonition, lest we fail.
Before passing judgment on another, let us ask ourselves how many virtues the world gives us credit for which we do not possess; for how many vices we have been condemned of which we are not guilty. We can render justice only when we are charitable and merciful. We often see the faults of others and close our eyes to our own shortcomings. We shall have gone a long way in paths of justice when we shall have reformed ourselves, when we lay aside all bitterness and hate, and exercise the power of gentleness and kindness.
Aspirant is seated and music rendered Tableau shown
The class is retired to the preparation room by the Mistress of Ceremonies while the stage Is being made ready Music while they are retiring
An abridged extract from The Merchant of Venice”. act IV, scene 1, is put on the stage.
The scene is a Court Of Justice in Venice.
The characters are The Duke, in his Ducal robes, Shylock an elderly Jew, the Lords and Magnificos, in court dress, Nerissa, dressed as a lawyer’s cleric, Portia dressed as a Doctor of Laws, together with Antonio, Bassanto, Gratiano, Salerio, and others.
The class is brought into the room and seated, making one circuit. Organ playing march.
Curtain rises showing two servants dusting furniture, etc
FIRST SERVANT: This is the day of the trial of Antonio the Merchant is it not?
SECOND SERVANT: True, this is the very day. How sorry I am for poor Antonio. He stands to loose not only his fortune, but his very life because of his goodness to his friend. Sad. Sad.
FIRST SERVANT: Aye it is most truly sad. ‘Twould seem as though a heart of flint would grant him mercy on such a time. Shylock, as all know is greedy for money, however here he gains none, but accomplishes the death of poor Antonio. ‘T must be that vicious hate thus prompts him to this act, some personal enmity thus goads him on and the difference ‘twixt the races to which each belong, bears no reference to the case.
SECOND SERVANT: It must be so—Shylock’s Daughter Jessica is such a lovely girl, so sweet and womanly, so kind and gentle. It seems more than passing strange that so tender a shoot should spring from such a gnarled and knotty stem as he. Here come some members of the court, we must haste away.
Enter Secretary who busies himself with some papers. Enter from left, Antonio, Salerio, Bassanio, etc.
Enter from right the Duke, who greets them, seeing Antonio last, he says:
DUKE: What, is Antonio here?
ANTONIO: Ready, so please your grace.
DUKE: I am sorry for thee: thou art come to answer a stony adversary, an inhuman wretch uncapable of pity, void and empty from any dram of mercy.
ANT: I have heard your grace hath ta’en great pains to qualify his rigorous course; but since he stands obdurate and that no lawful means can carry me out of his envy’s reach, I do oppose my patience to his fury, and am arm’d to suffer, with a quietness of spirit, the very tyranny and rage of his.
Duke ascends throne.
DUKE: Go one, and call the Jew into the court.
SALERIO: He is ready at the door: he comes, my lord.
Enter Shylock.
DUKE: Make room, and let him stand before our face. Shylock, the world thinks, and I think so too, that thou but lead’st this fashion of thy malice to the last hour of act; and then ‘t is thought thou ‘It show thy mercy and remorse more strange than is thy strange apparent cruelty; and where thou now exact’st the penalty, which is a pound of this poor merchant’s flesh, thou wilt not only loose the forfeiture, but, touch’d with human gentleness and love, forgive a moiety of the principal; glancing an eye of pity on his losses, that have of late so huddled on his back, enow to press a royal merchant down and pluck commiseration of his state from brassy bosoms and rough hearts of flint, from stubborn Turks and Tartars, never train’d to offices of tender courtesy. We all expect a gentle answer, Jew.
SHYLOCK: I have possess’d your grace of what I purpose; and by our holy Sabbath have I sworn to have the due and forfeit of my bond: if you deny it, let..the danger light upon your charter and your city’s freedom. You’ll ask me, why I rather choose to have a weight of carrion flesh than to receive three thousand ducats. I ‘11 not answer that; but, say, it is my humor: is it answer’d? What if my house be troubled with a rat and I be pleas’d to give ten thousand ducats to have it baned? What, are you answer’d yet? Some men there are love not a gaping pig; some, that are mad if they behold a cat: . . . for affection, mistress of passion, sways it to the mood of what it likes or loathes. Now, for your answer: as there is no firm reason to be render’d why he cannot abide a gaping pig; why he, a harmless necessary cat;
so can I give no reason, nor I will not, more than a lodg’d hate and a certain loathing I bear Antonio, that I follow thus a losing suit against him. Are you answer’d?
BASSANIO: This is no answer, thou unfeeling man, to excuse the current of thy cruelty.
SHY: I am not bound to please thee with my answers.
BASS: Do all men kill the things they do not love?
SHY: Hates any man the thing he would not kill?
BASS: Every offense is not a hate at first.
SHY: What, wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice?
ANT: I pray you, think you question with the Jew; you may as well go stand upon the beach and bid the main flood bate his usual height; you may as well use question with the wolf why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb; you may as well forbid the mountain pines to wag their high tops and to make no noise, when they are fretted with the gusts of heaven; you may as well do anything most hard, as seek to soften that—than which what’s harder ?—his Jewish heart: therefore, I do beseech you, make no more offers, use no farther means, but with all brief and plain conveniency let me have judgment and the Jew his will.
BASS: For thy three thousand ducats here is six.
SHY: If every ducat in six thousand ducats were in six parts and every part a ducat, I would not draw them; I would have my bond.
DUKE: How shalt thou hope for mercy, rendering none?
SHY: What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong? You have among you many a purchas’d slave, which you use in abject parts, because you bought them: shall I say to you, let them be free? . . . You will answer, the slaves are ours: so do I answer you: the pound of flesh, which I demand of him, is dearly bought; ‘t is mine and I will have it. . . . I stand for judgment: answer; shall I have it?
DUKE: Upon my power I may dismiss this court, unless Bellario, a learned doctor, whom I have sent for to determine this, come here to-day.
SALER: My lord, here stays without a messenger with letters from the doctor, new come from Padua.
DUKE: Bring us the letters; call the messenger.
Enter Nerissa, dressed like a lawyer’s clerk.
DUKE: Came you from Padua, from Bellario?
NERISSA: From both, my lord. Bellario greets your grace. Presenting a letter.
BASS: Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?
SHY: To cut the forfeiture from that bankrupt there.
GRA: Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew, thou makest thy knife keen; but no metal can, no, not the hangman’s axe, bear half the keenness of thy sharp envy, Can no prayers pierce thee?
SHY: No, none that thou hast wit enough to make.
GRA: O, be thou dam’d, inexecrable dog! And for thy life let justice be accus’d. .
SHY: Till thou canst rail the seal from off my bond, thou but off end’st thy lungs to speak so loud. . . . I stand here for law.
DUKE: This letter from Bellario doth commend a young and learned doctor to our court. Where is he?
NER: He attendeth here hard by, to know your answer, whether you’ll admit him.
DUKE: With all my heart Go give him courteous conduct to this place. Meantime the court shall hear Bellario’s letter.
(Clerk reads): Your grace shall understand that at the receipt of your letter I am very sick: but in the instant that your messenger came, in loving visitation was with me a young doctor of Rome; his name is Balthasar. I acquainted him with the cause in controversy between the Jew and Antonio the merchant: we turned o’er many books together: he is furnished with my opinion; which, bettered with his own learning, the greatness whereof II cannot enough commend, comes with him, at my importunity, to fill up your grace’s request in my stead. I beseech you, let his lack of years be no impediment to let him lack a reverend estimation; for I never knew so young a body with so old a head. I leave him to your gracious acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his commendation.
DUKE: You hear the learn’d Bellario, what he writes: and here, I take it, is the doctor come.
Enter Portia, dressed like a doctor of laws.
Give me your hand. Come you from old Bellario?
PORTIA: I did, my lord.
DUKE: You are welcome: take your place. Are you acquainted with the difference that holds this present question in the court?
POR: I am informed thoroughly of the cause. Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?
DUKE: Antonio and, old Shylock, both stand forth.
POR: Is your name Shylock?
SHY: Shylock is my name.
POR: Of a strange nature is the suit you follow; yet in such rule that the Venetian law cannot impugn you as you do proceed. (To Antonio.) You stand within his danger, do you not?
ANT: Ay, so he says.
POR: Do you confess the bond?
ANT: I do.
POR: Then must the Jew be merciful.
SHY: On what compulsion must I? tell me that.
POR: The quality of mercy is not strain’d; it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest; it blesseth him that gives and him that takes: ‘t is mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes the throned monarch better than his crown: his scepter shows the force of temporal power, the attribute to awe and majesty, wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; but mercy is above this sceptred sway; it is enthroned in the hearts of kings, it is an attribute to God himself; and earthly power doth then show likest God’s when mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew, though justice be thy plea, consider this, that, in the course of justice, none of us should see salvation: we do pray for mercy; and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much to mitigate the justice of thy plea; which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.
SHY: My deeds upon my head! I crave the law the penalty and forfeit of my bond.
POR: Is he not able to discharge the money?
BASS: Yes, here I tender it for him in the court; yea, twice the sum: if that will not suffice, I will be bound to pay it ten times o’er, on forfeit of my hands, my head, my heart: if this will not suffice, it must appear that malice bears down truth. And I beseech you, wrest once the law to your authority: to do a great right, do a little wrong, and curb this cruel devil of his will.
POR: It must not be; there is no power in Venice can alter a decree established: ‘t will be recorded for a precedent, and many an error by the same example will rush into the state: it cannot be.
SHY: A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel! O wise young judge, how I do honor thee!
POR: I pray you, let me look upon the bond.
SHY: Here ‘t is, most reverend doctor, here it is.
POR: Shylock, there’s thrice thy money offer’d thee.
SHY: An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven: shall I lay perjury upon my soul? No, not for Venice.
POR: Why, this bond is forfeit; and lawfully by this the Jew may claim a pound of flesh, to be by him cut off nearest the merchant’s heart. Be merciful: take thrice thy money; bid me tear the bond.
SHY: When it is paid according to the tenor. It doth appear you are a worthy judge; you know the law, your exposition hath been most sound. . . . Proceed to judgment: by my soul I swear there is no power in the tongue of man to alter me: I stay here on my bond.
ANT: Most heartily I do beseech the court to give the judgment.
POR: Why then, thus it is: you must prepare your bosom for his knife.
SHY: O noble judge! O excellent young man!
POR: For the intent and purpose of the law hath full relation to the penalty, which here appeareth due upon the bond.
SHY: ’T is very true: O wise and upright judge! How much more elder art thou than thy looks!
POR: Therefore lay bare your bosom.
SHY: Ay, his breast: so says the bond: doth it not, noble judge? “Nearest his heart”: those are the very words.
POR: It is so. Are there balance here to weigh the flesh?
SHY: I have them ready.
POR: Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge, to stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death.
SHY: Is it so nominated in the bond?
POR: It is not so express’d: but what of that? ‘Twere good you do so much for charity.
SHY: I cannot find it; ‘t is not in the bond.
POR: You, merchant, have you anything to say?
ANT: But little: I am arm’d and well prepar’d. Give me your hand, Bassanio: fare you well! Grieve not that I am fallen to this for you; for herein fortune shows herself more kind than is her custom. It is still her use to let the wretched man outlive his wealth, to view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow an age of poverty; from which lingering penance of such misery doth she cut me off. Commend me to your honorable wife: tell her the process of Antonio’s end; say how I loved you, speak me fair in death; and, when the tale is told, bid her judge whether Bassanio had not once a love. Repent but you that you shall lose your friend, and he repents not that he pays your debt; for if the Jew but cut deep enough, I’ll pay it presently with all my heart.
BASS: Antonio, I am married to a wife which is as dear to me as life itself; but life itself, my wife, and all the world, are not with me esteem’d above thy life: I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all here to this devil, to deliver you.
POR: Your wife would give you little thanks for that, if she were by, to hear you make the offer.
GRA: I have a wife, whom, I protest, I love: I would she were in heaven, so she could entreat some power to change this currish Jew.
NER: ’T is well you offer it behind her back; the wish would make else an unquiet house.
SHY: These be the Christian husbands. I have a daughter; would any of the stock of Barrabas had been her husband rather than a Christian! (Aside.) We trifle time: I pray thee, pursue sentence.
POR: A pound of that same merchant’s flesh is thine: the court awards it, and the law doth give it. SHY: Nlost rightful judge!
POR: And you must cut this flesh from off his breast: the law allows it, and the court awards it.
SHY: Most learned judge! A sentence! Come, prepare!
POR: Tarry a little; there is something else. This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood; the words expressly are “a pound of flesh”: take then thy pound of flesh; but, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed one drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate unto the state of Venice.
GRA: O upright judge! Mark, Jew: O learned judge!
SHY: Is that the law?
POR: Thyself shall see the act: for, as thou urgest justice, be assur’d thou shalt have justice, more than thou desirest.
GRA: O learned judge! Mark, Jew: a learned judge!
SHY: I take this offer, then; pay the bond thrice and let the Christian go.
BASS: Here is the money.
POR: Soft! The Jew shall have all justice; soft! no haste: he shall have nothing but the penalty.
GRA: O Jew! an upright judge, a learned judge!
POR: Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesh. Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more but just a pound of flesh: if thou cut’st more or less than just a pound, be it but so much as makes it light or heavy in the substance, or the division of the twentieth part of one poor scruple, nay, if the scale do turn but in the estimation of a hair, thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate.
GRA: A second Daniel! a Daniel, Jew! Now, infidel, I have thee on the hip.
POR: Why doth the Jew pause? take thy forfeiture.
SHY: Give me my principal, and let me go.
BASS: I have it ready for thee; here it is.
POR: He hath refus’d it in the open court; he shall have merely justice and his bond.
GRA: A Daniel, still say I, a second Daniel! I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.
SHY: Shall I not have barely my principal?
POR: Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture, to be so taken at thy peril, Jew.
SHY: Why, then the Devil give him good of it! I’ll stay no longer question.
POR: Tarry, Jew: the law hath yet another hold on you. It is enacted in the laws of Venice, if it be prov’d against an alien that by direct or indirect attempts he seek the life of any citizen, the party ‘gainst the which he doth contrive shall seize one half his goods; the other half comes to the privy coffer of the state; and the offender’s life lies in the mercy of the Duke only, ‘gainst all other voice. In which predicament, I say, thou s tand’st; for it appears, by manifest proceeding, that indirectly, and directly too, thou hast contriv’d against the very life of the defendant; and thou hast incurr’d the danger formerly by me rehears’d. Down therefore and beg mercy of the Duke.
GRA: Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang thyself: and yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state, thou hast not left the value of a cord; therefore thou must be hang’d at the state’s charge.
DUKE: That thou shalt see the difference of our spirits, I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it: for half thy wealth, it is Antonio’s; the other half comes to the general state, which humbleness may drive unto a fine.
POR: Ay, for the state, not for Antonio.
SHY: Nay, take my life and all; pardon not that: you take my house when you do take the prop that doth sustain my house; you take my life when you do take the means whereby I live.
POR: What mercy can you render him, Antonio?
GRA: A halter gratis; nothing else, for God’s sake.
ANT: So please my lord the Duke and all the court to quit the fine for one-half of his goods, I am content; so he will let me have the other half in use, to render it, upon his death, unto the gentleman that lately stole his daughter: two things provided more, that, for this favor, he presently become a Christian; the other, that he do record a gift, here in the court, of all he dies possess’d, unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter.
DUKE: He shall do this, or else I do recant the pardon that I late pronounced here.
POR: Art thou contented, Jew? what dost thou say?
SHY: I am content.
POR: Clerk, draw a deed of gift.
SHY: I pray you, give me leave to go from hence; I am not well: send the deed after me, and I will sign it.
DUKE: Get thee gone, but do it.
The curtain is dropped.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST: We will now give attention to the Orator.
Orator delivers lecture standing in his Station
ORATOR: Companions, our labors have been of but little value to you if you do not see in the distance a glimmering of the light of truth.
We can harmonize divine justice and mercy only by divine wisdom. Perhaps many things that seem harsh and cruel and unjust will be explained when we shall know and understand all things. It is human to view our surroundings, our distresses and our joys as if they were for this world only, not realizing that our earthly pilgrimage is but a preparation for an endless eternity. How little does it matter what trials we undergo in this world, if they fit us for a world to come.
How weak and puerile are our best off orts, how unsatisfactory and tasteless our highest ambitions, when we come to the moment of dissolution! Of what advantage to us are wealth and worldly honors, when we consider that such things pertain to this world only, and that we cannot take them beyond this life.
Daily, hourly, our duty is to follow the paths of Justice and Mercy as far as our knowledge will permit, trusting in the wisdom of our Father to guide us right. Ofttimes we will forget our many mercies; perhaps we will bewail our hard lot; again be almost ready to rebel against its decrees and judgments. Then it should be that faith and hope will come to our aid, and by exercising our charity to others we will relieve our own fears and thus minister to our own distress.
Never will we see the day when we cannot find someone who bears a burden greater than our own, and perhaps with less strength to endure. All through this life will we be called upon, many times, to pity those whose lot is infinitely more unbearable than our own. Then if we are true to our professions and our vows here, there is much work for us to do. The gates of the Temple will be ever thronged with the unfortunate and the helpless. They are the ones for whom our efforts should be exerted. We should see to it that none go away dissatisfied.
What a blessed world this would be if merciful justice was rendered to every man. There would be no more want and penury; no more slanders, no oppression, no dishonor. The knave and the trickster could not gain high estate or public office. Integrity and manliness would characterize those appointed to rule. Wars and conquests would cease. Revolutions would be unknown. Despotism would have no place on earth.
Companions, we can do no more than hint at the great truths we try to teach. If you become adepts in our Order, it will be only after long and patient study and reflection. The time is boundless. It covers the whole life and duty of man, from the cradle to the grave, aye, and beyond the grave.
Sisters, you guard the Temple of Mercy. To your forgiving and generous nature is committed the welfare of your erring and misguided Brother. Your gentle admonitions restrain the vicious, when force is of no avail. Your restraining hand will check a mad career when, blind and reckless, no other obstacle could stay it. Your pious teachings, impressed on the mind of the innocent child, will be a safeguard to all his future life.
Music. Ad. lib.
EXCELLENT HIGH PRIEST, goes to behind Altar: Companions, in this Degree, as in the previous one, there is an emblem. I now invest you with the Emblem, which is a gold arrow, symbolical of Justice, which will surely overtake us sooner or later, and of the Truth, which every companion seeks to attain.
The password of this degree is (secret work).
The answer is (secret work).
This concludes the ceremonial of this Degree. I do now receive you and the other Aspirants as active Companions of this Degree, entitled to all its privileges. Companions, welcome our newly admitted Sisters and Brothers.
Returns to his station.
I now declare this Chapter closed *.
As it is the general procedure to present this and the preceding degree in the afternoon and the Council Degree in the evening At this time a general visiting may be had until the banquet is announced.
For the banquet, the class and officers, past officers, and dignitaries are segregated and seated in accordance with any arrangement made by the Lady Superior.
In general it is better to have someone to act as Class Director and general factotum in order to have all proceedings function smoothly.