Page 31 - May 2014 Final.indd
P. 31

Montana Freemason                                           May 2014                                           Volume 90   Number 2

             T  e Cooke MS. was most certainly in the hands  of the Craf  af er its initial appearance. It appeared in
          of Mr. George Payne, when in his second term as  one of the most interesting and momentous periods
          Grand Master in 1720 he compiled the “General  of modern Speculative Masonry, namely, in the years
          Regulations”, and which Anderson included in his  between the organization of the f rst Grand Lodge in
          own version of the “Constitutions” published in 1723.  1717 and the appearance of Anderson’s Constitution
          Anderson himself evidently made use of lines 901-    in 1723. It is the earliest printed version of the Old
          960 of the MS.                                       Charges known to exist.

             T  e Lodge Quatuor Coronati reprinted the           Another well-known printed version is that
          Cooke in facsimile in Vol. II of its Antigrapha in  published in 1724 and known as the Briscoe. T is
          1890, and included therewith a Commentary by  was the second publication of its kind. T e  third
          George William Speth which is, in my own amateur  printed version was issued in 1728-9 by Benjamin
          opinion, an even more brilliant piece of work than  Cole, and known as the Cole Edition in consequence.
          Gould’s Commentary on the Regius. Some of Speth’s  T  is version is considered a literary gem in that the
          conclusions are of permanent value. I paraphrase his  main body of the text is engraved throughout in most
          f ndings in my own words:                           beautiful style. A special edition of this book was made
                                                               in Leeds, 1897, the value of which was enhanced by one
             T  e M.S. is a transcript of a yet older document and  of W.J. Hughan’s famous introductions. For our own
          was written by a Mason. T  ere were several versions  modern and practical purposes the most important
          of the Charges to a Mason in circulation at the time.  of all the versions ever made was that compiled by
          T  e MS. is in two parts, the former of which is an  Dr. James Anderson in 1723 and everywhere known
          attempt at a history of the Craf , the latter of which is  familiarly as “Anderson’s Constitution.” A second
          a version of the Charges. Of this portion Speth writes  edition appeared, much changed and enlarged, in
          that it is “far and away the earliest, best and purest  1738; a third, by John Entick, in 1756; and so on every
          version of the ‘Old Charges’ which we possess.” T e  few years until by 1888 twenty-two editions in all
          MS. mentions nine “articles”, and these evidently were  had been issued. T  e Rev.A.F.A. Woodford, Hughan’s
          legal enforcements at the time; the nine “points” given  collaborator, edited an edition of T e  Constitution
          were probably not legally binding but were morally  Book of 1723 as Volume I of Kenning’s Masonic
          so. “Congregations” of Masons were held here and  Archeological Library, under date of 1878. T is  is
          there but no “General Assembly” (or “Grand Lodge”);  a correct and detailed reproduction of the book
          Grand Masters existed in fact but not in name and  exactly as Anderson f rst published it, and is valuable
          presided at one meeting of a congregation only. “Many  accordingly.
          of our present usages may be traced in their original
          form to this manuscript.”                               Anderson’s title page is interesting to read: “T e
                                                               CONSTITUTION, History, Laws, Charges, Orders,
          III. ANDERSON’S CONSTITUTIONS AND OTHER  Regulations, and Usages, of the Right Worshipful
          PRINTED VERSIONS                                     FRATERNITY of ACCEPTED FREE MASONS;
                                                               collected from their general RECORDS, and their
             One of the most important of all the versions  faithful TRADITIONS of many Ages. To be read
          of the Old Charges is not an ancient original at all,  At the Admission of a NEW BROTHER, when the
          but a printed edition issued in 1722, and known as  Master or Warden shall begin, or order some other
          the Roberts, though it is believed to be a copy of an  Brother to read as follows, etc.” Af er the word
          ancient document. Of this W.J. Hughan writes: “T e  “follows” Anderson’s own version of Masonic history
          only copy known was purchased by me at Brother  begins with this astonishing statement:
          Spencer’s sale of Masonic works, etc. (London, 1875),
          for 8 pounds 10s., on behalf of the late Brother R.F.   “Adam, our f rst Parent, created af er the Image of
          Bower, and is now in the magnif cent library of the  God, the great Architect of the Universe, must have
          Grand Lodge of Iowa, U.S.A.” T  is tiny volume is easily  had the Liberal Sciences, particularly Geometry,
          the most priceless Masonic literary possession in  written on his Heart, etc.”
          America, and was published in exact facsimile by the
          National Masonic Research Society, with an eloquent     T us did Dr. Anderson launch his now thrice
          Introduction by Dr. Joseph Fort Newton in 1916. T e  familiar account of the history of Freemasonry, an
          Reverend Edmund Coxe edited a famous reprint in  account which, save in the hands of the most expert
          1871. It is a version meriting the most careful study  Masonic antiquarian, yields very little dependable
          on the part of the Masonic student because it had a  historical fact whatsoever, but which, owing to
          decided inf uence on the literature and jurisprudence  the prestige of its author, came to be accepted for
                                                                                                             Page 31
   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36