Jesters, usually so-called, but more formally named the Royal Order of Jesters, is an organization evolved out of the good fellowship of members of the Mystic Shrine during a voyage to Honolulu, February 15 to March 7, 1911. An offhand ceremony grew into a ritual, and to local Courts and a National Body, very much of its success due to the initiative of William S. Brown, many years the Treasurer of the Mystic Shrine; Lou B. Winsor, Past Imperial Potentate and Grand Secretary of Michigan, and others of their genial kind who organized and led the Body whose local units were limited to thirteen initiates yearly. Initiation, by invitation, and unanimous ballot, limited to members in good standing of the Mystic Shrine. The slogan "Mirth is King," expounded by Jester Brown, and the poem by Edmund Rowland Sill, "The Fool's Prayer," recited by Jester Winsor, have furnished inspiration. Officers, thirteen, bear the titles: Director, Tragedian, Property Man, Impresario, Treasurer, Soubrette, Light Comedian, Serio Comic, Heavy Man, Leading Lady, Judge, High Constable, Stage Manager; the national officer's titles are the same but preceded by the word Royal.


by: Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)

THE royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: "Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!"

The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.

He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the Monarch's silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: "O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

"No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

"'T is not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
'T is by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.

"These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.

"The ill-timed truth we might have kept —
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say —
Who knows how grandly it had rung!

"Our faults no tenderness should ask.
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders — oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

"Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!"

The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
"Be merciful to me, a fool!"

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