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Having called to mind the old proverb, Better be out of the world than out of fashion, I was fully determined to write an history of masonry, whereby I did expect to give the world an uncommon satis faction ; in order to enable myself to execute this great design, I purchased all or most of the histories, constitutions, pocket companions, and other pieces on that subject, now extant in the English tongue.
My next step was to furnish myself with a sufficient quantity of pens, ink and paper : this being done, I immediately fancied myself an HISTORIAN, and intended to trace masonry not only to Adam, in his sylvan lodge in Paradise, but to give some account of the craft even before the Creation: and (as a foundation) I placed the following works round about me, so as to be convenient to have recourse to them as occasion should require, viz. Dr. Anderson and Mr. Spratt, before me, Dr. D’Assigny and Mr. Smith, on my right hand, Dr. Desaguliers and Mr. Pennel on my left-hand, and Mr. Scott and Mr. Lyon behind me; a copy of (that often called) the original constitutions, (said to be in the possession of Mr. John Collins, in Paris) and ano. ther copy of the same magnitude handed about in England, together with several pamphlets printed in England, I tied up together, and threw them under the table.
Having tried my pen, and wrote a line not unlike the beginning of the chapter in the Alcoran*, I began to flourish away in a most admiralle manner, and in a few days wrote the first volume of the history of masonry, wherein was a full account of the transactions of the first grand lodge, particularly the
* Next after the tiile at the head of every chapter (except the ninth) of the Alcoran, is prefixed the fole lowing solemn form,
In the name of the most merciful God.
excluding of the unruly members, as related by Mr. Milton.t
By this time I imagined myself superior to Jo-> sephus, Stackhouse, or any other historian whom the reader'shall please to think on. And as I intended to give the world a history of masonry for several years before the creation, I made no manner of doubt but my work should live at least two thousand years after the general conflagration.
Perhaps some of my readers (I mean those that are best acquainted with my capacity) will say, he has more vanity than wit; and as to learning, it is as great a stranger to him, as free-masonry is to women; yet he has the folly to think himself in historian, and expects to become a great man, &c.
Whether such an opinion be true or false, it matters nought to me; for the world must allow, that (tho' no man has found out the perpetual motion) all men ever had, have now, and ever will have a perpetual notion : And furthermore, we read, that the following persons, so much famed in history, were not only poor men, but many of them of a very mean extraction. The wise philosopher Socrates, was the son of a poor stone-carver; the tragic poet Euripides, was the son of poor parents ; as was Demosthenes, the honour of Greek eloquence; Virgil, the famous Latin poet, was the son of a poor Mantuan labouring potter; Horace, the incomparable Lyric, was the son of a trumpeter in the wars ; Tarquinius Priscus, king of the Romans, was the
merchant; and Servius Tullius, another king of the Romans, was begotten on a woman slave ; Septimius Severus, is said to come of a very base degree; Agathocles, king of Sicilly, was a potter's son; Ælius Pertinax was a poor artificer, or, as some say, a simple seller of wood; the parents of Venadius Bassus, are said to be very miserable poor people; and Arsaces, king
See Paradise lost.
of the Parthians, was of so mean and obscure parentage, that no man's memory could make a
of his father or mother ; Ptolomy king of Egypt, was the son of a 'squire in Alexander's army; the Em. peror Dioclesian, was the son of a scrivener; the emperor Probus was son of a gardener ; and the parents of Aurelius, were so obscure that writers have not agreed who they were ; Maximus was the son of a smith, or as some say, a waggon-wright ; Marcus Julius Licinius, was the son of a herdsman ; Bonosus was the son of a poor stipendary school. master; Mauritus Justinus, predecessor to Justinian, and also Galerus, were both shepherds ; pope John, the twenty-second of that name, was the son of a shoe-maker ; pope Nicholas the fifth was the son of a man that sold eggs and butter about the streets ; and pope
Sixtus the fourth was a mariner's son ; Lamusius, king of the Lombards, was the son of a common strumpet, who [when he was an infant] threw him into a ditch, but was taken out by king Agelmond ; Primissaus, king of Bohemia, was the son of a country peasant; Tamerlane the great was a herdsman ; Caius Marius, seven times consul of Rome, was born of poor parents in the village of Apirnum ; and Marcus Tullius Cicero, consul of Rome, and pro-consul in Asia, was from the poor Tugriole of Arpinum, the meanest parentage that could be ; Ventidius, field-marshal and consul of Rome, was the son of a muleteer; and Thophrastus was the son of a botcher, i, e. a mender of garments, &c.
I have heard of many others of later date that have been preferred to places or offices of great trust, and dignified with titles of honour, without having the least claim to wit, courage, learning or honesty ; therefore, if such occurrences be duly considered, I humbly conceive it will not be deemed as a capital offence, that I should entertain my own perpetual notion, while I do not endeavor to disinherit any man of his properties.
I doubt I have tired the reader's patience ; and if so, I humbly beg his pardon for this long digression. But to return, while my mind was wholly taken up with my fancied superiority as an historian, &c. I insensibly fell into a slumber, when me-thought four men entered my room ; their habits appeared to be of very ancient fashion, and their language also I'imagined to be either Hebrew, Arabic, or Chaldean, in which they addressed me, and I immediately answered them after the pantomime fashion : After some formal ceremonies, I desired to know their names, and from whence they came ; to which one of them answered me [in English) we are four brothers, and come from the holy city of Jerusalem; our names are Shallum, Ahiman, Akhub, and Talmon. Hearing they were sojourners from Jerusalem, I asked them whether they could give any account of SOLOMON'S TEMPLE ; to which Shallum* [the chief of them] made answer and said, the wise KING SOLOMON, GRAND MASTER of Israel, appointed us head porters at the Temple, in the thirty
second year of his age, the twelfth of his reign, and ! about the year of the world 2492 ; and therefore
we can give a full and particular account of that wonderful fabric, and likewise of the artists who performed it. I was glad to meet with such brem thren, from whom I did expect a great deal of knowledge ; which the many ages they had lived in must have taught them, if their memories did not fail ; upon this consideration I told them, that I was writing a history of Masonry, and begged their assistance, &c.
A history of masonary! (says Ahiman) from the day of the dedication of the holy Temple to this present time, I have not seen a history of masonry, though some have pretended (not only) to describe the length, breadth, height, weight, colour, shape, form, and substance of every thing within and about the temple ; but also to tell the spiritual * meaning of them, as if they knew the mind of him who gave orders for that building, or seen it finished: but I can assure you that such surveyors have never seen the temple, nay never have been within a thousand miles of Jerusalem : Indeed (continued he) there was one Flavius $ (I think he was a soldier) took a great deal of notice of the temple, and other matters about it; as did another man named Jerry : There were two others, whose names I have forgot, but remember one of them was an excellent dreamerţ, and the other was very handy in collecting all manner of good writings || after the captivity.
1 Chronicles ix. 17.
Those were the only men that have wrote most and best upon that subject, and yet all their works together would not be sufficient for a preface to the history of masonry; but for your further instruc
shall hear an eminent brother who can inform you in every particular that is necessary to your present undertaking. The words were scarce ended, when there appeared a grave old gentleman, with a long beard; he was dressed in an embroider. ed vest, and breast plate of gold, set with twelve precious stones, which formed an oblong square: I was informed that the name of the stones were Sardine, Emerald, Ligure, Beryl, Topes, Saphire, Agate, Onyx, Carbuncle, Diamond, Amethyst, and Jasper : Upon these stones were engraved the names of the twelve tribes, viz.Reuben, Judah, Gad, Zebulun, Simeon, Dan, Asher, Joseph, Levi, Naphthali, Issacher, and Benjamin*.
Upon his entrsnce, the four sojourners did him
See Solomon's Temple fpiritualized by Bunyan. $ Flavius Jofephus, the learned and warlike Jew. I Ezekiel.
|| Ezra. Such was the breast-plate, worn by the High-Priest at the Temple.