NOTE Q., page 148.–(Extract from the Annual Address of M. W. P. Al. Tucker, G. M. of Vermont.)

In my address of last year I endeavored to condense what little information I had about the Masonic lectures, and that attempt has been, in general, quite favorably noticed by the Craft. In one distinguished Masonic quarter, however, some parts of my address on this subject seem to have met with marked disfavor. One particular thing found fault with is, that I thought myself justified in saying that the lectures in use, received through Webb and Gleason, were the true lectures of Preston. I certainly did not mean to say that they were identical in length with those of Preston. I had already said that Webb changed the arrangement of Preston’s sections, but that he had left the body of the lectures as Preston had established them. Perhaps I should have said, the substance instead of the “body” of those lectures. I now state, what I supposed was well understood before by every tolerably well-informed Mason in the United States, that Webb abridged as well as changed the arrangement

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of the lectures of Preston. I believed that I knew then, and I believe I know now, that Webb learned and taught the Preston lectures in full, as well as that he prepared and taught his own abridgment of them. I have a copy in key, both of Webb’s abridgment and of Preston in full, which I have reasons, wholly satisfactory to myself, for believing are true manuscripts of both those sets of lectures, as Gleason taught them. But my reviewer has got the “very rare” book of a certain J. Browne, published in London in 1802, called the “Master Key,” containing the whole course of lectures in an “abstruse cypher,” and presumes them to be the Prestonian lectures. Reviewers, it seems, tolerate “presumption” in themselves, while nothing short of demonstration is allowable with them as to others, who are required to speak from “their own knowledge.” I am ready to compare my copy of the Preston lectures in full with J. Browne’s “Master Key,” if my reviewer understands Browne’s “abstruse cypher,”–a fact about which he has not yet informed us. Again, I am criticized for saying that Gleason visited England and exemplified the Preston lectures, as he had received them from Webb, before the Grand Lodge of England, whose authorities pronounced them correct, and I am charged with taking this from “hearsay,” and my critic places “no faith in it.” I received that statement from the highest authority–from one who knew–and I wrote it down at the time. There are existing reasons why I do not choose to gratify my critic by naming that authority at this time, and I leave the Craft to judge whether my statement of that fact, upon undoubted authority, is not worthy of as much credit as any reviewer’s doubt about it. I do not possess anything in writing or published of Gleason’s, as to his lecturing before the Grand Lodge of England, but that Masonry abroad did not ignore the lectures, as Gleason taught them, we have his own published letter to prove. In the 2d edition of the Masonic Trestleboard, under the date of Nov. 26th, 1843, in a letter from him to Brother Charles W. Moore, I find the following language:

“It was my privilege, while at Brown University, Providence, R. I., (1801-2), to acquire a complete knowledge of the lectures in the three first degrees of Masonry, directly from our much esteemed Brother T. S. Webb. author of the Free Mason’s Monitor; and, in consequence, was appointed and commissioned by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and Maine, Grand Lecturer, devoting the whole time to the instruction of the Lodges under the jurisdiction.–and, for many years subsequently (as Professor of Astronomy and Geography), visiting all the different States in the Union, and (1829-30) many parts of Europe–successfully communicating, to numerous Lodges and Associations of Brethren, the same ‘valuable lectures of the Craft,’ according to the ancient landmarks.”

Here, then, we have the assertion of Gleason himself, that the

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lectures he received from Webb were, “in many parts of Europe,” as well as in the States at home, communicated by him to “numerous Lodges and Associations of Brethren, according to the ancient landmarks,” without the slightest hint or intimation of any objection being made to them abroad, as not being the true lectures of the Order. This is, at least, prima facie evidence of their having been substantially what I claimed them to be. But if I am still told that it carries no conclusive evidence that Brother Gleason knew anything of the true Preston lectures, I call that brother upon the stand again. On the 24th day of June, 1812, “Brother Benjamin Gleason, A. M.,” delivered an “Oration” at “Montreal, Lower Canada,” before St. Paul’s Lodge No. 12, and Union Lodge No. 8, by “special request” of the former Lodge. It was published at Montreal, and a second edition of it was soon after published at Boston. I copy from this second edition the following remarks of Brother Gleason:

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