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used to wear; and we are informed by sacred history, that the veil of the Temple was composed of those colours;” and therefore they were considered peculiarly appropriate to a professor of “a royal art.” The actual dress of a Master Mason was, however, a full suit of black, with white neckcloth, apron, gloves, and stockings; the buckles being of silver, and the jewel suspended from a white ribbon by way of collar. This disposition prevailed until the Union in 1813, when it was ordered that in future the Grand Officers should be distinguished by purple, the Grand Stewards by crimson, and the Master Mason by blue, thus reverting to “the old colours” of our ancient brethren. It will have been observed, that throughout these desultory remarks, no notice has been taken of those subordinate parts of an author's employment, which consist in editing and illustrating the works of other men, although the undertaking is of a more laborious nature than writing an original work. It requires deep consideration to dive into the private thoughts of others, and penetrate the hidden meaning of abstruse passages which apply to another state of society. The masonic writings of our brethren of the last century are few in number, and had become scarce and inaccessible; although they are of great value, inasmuch as they delineate the gradual improvements of the Order, and mark the process by which it imperceptibly disarmed its adversaries, and converted them into firm and active friends. For many years after the great revival, Freemasonry was considered a paradox beyond the comprehension of ordinary capacities. As the mystical institution silently forced itself into notice, the world wondered, and some daring spirits ventured to assail it with the shafts of ridicule. Indeed, so much importance was attached to its proceedings, that even Hogarth and Swift did not disdain to join in the hostile array. The clamour was, however, allayed by the judicious efforts of Anderson, Desaguliers, Martin Clare, Calcott, Dunckerley, Smith, Hutchinson, Preston, Inwood, and other gifted brothers, who quietly explained its principles, and directed public notice to the virtues which it inculcated, and to the symbols in which they were imbedded and preserved. Many valuable fragments are unfortunately lost, but the Remains are amply sufficient to excite the attention of the fraternity. Under these circumstances, I conceived that an acceptable service would be rendered the Craft, by collecting the scattered rays of Light and bringing them into one focus, that they might contribute their aid to the general illustration of the science. The above authors left behind them detached pieces on the subject of Freemasonry which are of great value; and they have been collected and reproduced under the general title of the GoLDEN REMAINs of THE EARLY MAsoNIC WRITERs; which consist of five volumes on Masonic Institutes, Principles and Practices, Persecutions, Doctrines, and Morality; each volume being introduced by an original Essay on one of the following subjects, viz., the Masonic Literature of the eighteenth century; the social Position of Symbolical Masonry at the same period; Usages and Customs; Masonic Tests; and Cypher Writing. In the mean time, new editions of the entire works of Hutchinson, Preston, and Ashe, were published under my editorial superintendence. In a catalogue raisonné of my masonic labours, these trifles need only be mentioned as forming a series of adjuncts to the general design, like the statues or pictures that adorn the walls of a lodge-room, which is perfect in its construction without them, but more ornamental and pleasing to the eye by their assistance. The following work completes the series, and constitutes the cope-stone of the edifice, by exhibiting a view of the ultimate resting-place to which all men aspire,
nnd which offers itself prominently to the eye of the mason every time he enters the lodge. The steps which lead to it are gradual and progressive.
liy just degrees tlu.y every moment rise,
The Holy Bible forms the basis of this great moral machine. It rests on the altar of Omnipotence, and proclaims the rewards of faith and practice; while the Ladder connects earth with heaven, where the perfect mason hopes to consummate his worldly labours, and receive the recompence of his fidelity.
I now feel like the architect, who, seeing that his plan in the erection of a magnificent edifice is nearly completed, entertains some fears lest the finishing ornaments should deform the whole building. My Lodge has been erected according to the established rules of art; the floor has been consecrated, the internal decorations disposed in order, and not a single indispensable ceremony has been omitted, which might tend to confer the attribute of perfection on the whole design; but as the hawk, when certain of his quarry, sometimes suffers the fate which he tries to inflict, I must take especial care that I do not impale myself on the heron's threatening bill. The covering is the most important portion of a lodge, and, to make it perfect, requires a judicious combination of skill and judgment. In this volume the experiment is made, but it needs the decision of the fraternity to determine whether it will be attended with success.
That a fund of useful information is spread over the volume, which is not contained in any of my former works, will admit of neither doubt nor denial. And be the judgment of the brethren what it may, I shall not imitate the example of the Archbishop of Granada, after his fit of apoplexy, who expostulated with his critic, by
observing, “Say no more, my child,” said he, “you are yet too raw to make proper distinctions. Know that I never composed a better homily than that which you disapprove; for my genius, thank heaven, hath as yet lost nothing of its vigour. Henceforth I will make a better choice of a confidante. Adieu, Mr. Gil Blas, I wish you all manner of prosperity, with a little more taste.” For my own part, I am open to fair and gentlemanly criticism; and although I may be mortified at finding my hard-earned fame melt away like an icicle in the sun, yet I shall not complain if you, my dear brethren, pronounce it to be your deliberate opinion that my late severe indisposition has impaired my faculties, and disqualified me for a masonic writer. It is rather late in life to divest myself of habits of thinking and acting which I have fostered for nearly half a century, and which have constituted almost the only source of pleasure and gratification in which I have freely indulged during that extended period; but I shall endeavour to lay them aside in cheerful acquiescence with the decision of those who are better judges than myself, if the opinion should prove to be unfavourable. I entertain, however, a sanguine hope that you will consider the covering to be at least equal to the rest of the fabric, and that the cope-stone adds beauty rather than deformity to the work. Should my anticipations be correct, your approval will be a cheering reflection at the latter end of a life spent in the service of the fraternity. The above confessions may throw some light on the origin and design of publications which have long been familiar to you. The most satisfactory method of displaying the usefulness of a science, is not by merely showing the extent of its application, but also the diversity of subjects which it embraces; and this has been my object throughout the whole of my publications. If a pursuit is to be estimated according to its results, Freemasonry may be safely classed amongst the most com
prehensive of human sciences, and therefore the best adapted to the state of man on earth. And it is idle to object that its fruits do not appear in every initiated brother. For if it were worth while to investigate the number of dabblers in any given science, we should find that those who really excel bear no greater proportion to those who fail, than may be traced in Freemasonry. The sciences of music, drawing, architecture, chemistry, and various others, have myriads of tyros, but few masters; and the aes Dodonaeum, the loudest talker in these wordy days, is frequently the most shallow.
It may be readily admitted, that there are a great num
ber of masons who are contented with very trifling acquirements in the art. So much the worse for them. But it will not follow that we possess no shining examples of excellence, although, from the nature of the institution, they are necessarily confined to the atmosphere of their own particular localities; for no lodge can flourish for any length of time except it possesses some intelligent master spirit to conduct its proceedings. Freemasonry is not a science that admits of itinerant lecturing; and therefore it cannot be expected that the uninitiated public know much about it; and consequently their conjectures are very wide of the truth. They shoot their arrows wildly, and seldom hit the mark. Guessing is an unsatisfactory employment, and they are more profitably engaged in the macaronic diction of the Grubbian Expostulantiuncula,
Qui pro niperkin clamant, quaternque liquoris