The Publisher has copy-edited this book to improve the formatting, style and accuracy of the text to make it readable. This did not involve changing the substance of the text.
The full title of this book is: Historic Masonry, Outlines of a History of Freemasonry from the Most Ancient to Modern Times. Published in January 1899. A very informative and detailed history of Masonry.
This continuous history of Freemasonry has been written to supply a want long felt by members of the Masonic fraternity. Innumerable books have appeared from time to time, professedly histories of the craft, which, on examination, prove to be a mere repetition of unreliable legends, whose only claim to attention is undoubted age. During the past century, an unfortunate spirit manifested itself among writers on the subject of Freemasonry,----- without critical examination of authorities considered reliable, the sole purpose seems to have been to produce propositions of an antiquity whose proofs were essentially silly and absurd. The original design of the present work has uniformly been to arrive at the truth, and is the result of considerable labor..... It may be added that mere legends or guildic tales do not appear in this book...... In a word, the constant and invariable tendency of the author in the ensuing pages is to bring the history of the Craft down to an undisputed historical basis: and in pursuance of this object, he was frequently compelled to abandon the usual track followed by writers on this subject, and to rely upon authorities whose testimony will be accepted without suspicion of intemperate or uncritical zeal. Finally, and upon this point the author desires to be particularly understood, this work aspires only to such reliability as is usually awarded to carefully prepared histories.
The immediate argument and scope of the treatise may be briefly stated as follows: To commence with a narrative of the state of fine arts before and after the decline of the Roman Empire, and also of the propagation of architecture and its kindred sciences by bodies of builders, who developed into the Middle-Age Freemasons, whose history is carried down to the formal extinction of this society as an operative brotherhood, in the year 1717.
.....the progress of Masonic life becomes identified with the religious bodies of continental Europe, and there within and without the monasteries of the middle ages Freemasonry was shaped into a form closely akin to its more modern features. As this closely blended relationship is receiving such attention as the researchers of the writer can furnish, a novel question will present itself in the sources whence these monastic lodges of builders, who decorated the entire area of Medieval Europe with the great fanes, obtained that knowledge of mathematics with which their skill and cunning enabled them to erect temples of so great and imposing structures that the beholder enters their portals with bated breath and a feeling of inexpressible bewilderment.