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Boyden Ms., The
A manuscript of the Old Charges, nine feet long and about eight and one-half inches wide, belonging to the Supreme Council, A.& A.S.R.,S.J., and in the vaults of the House of the Temple, Washington, D.C.; it was discovered (presumably in 1925) by the late W. L. Boyden, Librarian of the Supreme Council Library at the time, in North Riding of Yorkshire near Yorkshire, Eng. Boyden published the text in The New Age, February, 1926; page 77. The text accompanied by critical notes is given in The Old 'Yorkshire' Old Charges of Masons, by H. Poole and F. R. Worts; published by Installed Masters' Association, Leeds, England ; 1935 ; page 171.
Some English Brothers have expressed regret (and not always un-spiced with resentment) that a Yorkshire MS. should "have been sold off to America."
American Masons can understand that feeling, and the more so in the case of Yorkshire which was the favorite field of Hughan and of Thorp, who are both as well remembered and as much revered by Masons on this side of the Atlantic as on that ; but at the same time they feel that the strictures often expressed, and especially the harshness in some instances, by Whymper, Gould, and Lane, are based on a misunderstanding of facts. The strictures have arisen from the assumption that a sizable number of precious, old, and oftentimes unique Masonic books and MSS. have been drained off out of England into America; but there has never been such a drain. The Boyden is the only MS. of which there is not at least one copy left in England. The printed Roberts MS. owned by the Grand Lodge of Iowa is one of two copies. The Carmick MS. owned by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania was written in Pennsylvania. The American craft, and considering that save for a very few years it is as old as the English Craft, and is in the same Masonic family, is peculiarly poverty-stricken in MSS. and rare books. Nor have the great and wealthy American collectors Huntington, Morgan, etc., collected Freemasoniana; Rosenbach, famous for so many years as their agent, told the writer that he had never included Masonic items in his search lists. If harsh complaints were in order American Masons themselves have a large ground for them ; during the French and Indian wars, the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812 America was "drained" of the larger part of its early Masonic records, a fact which helps to account for the emptiness of the history of pre-Revolutionary Masonry in America.
The same holds for the old charge of "piracy." A small number of Eighteenth Century books (Oliver, presston, etc.) were published here without permission and without payment to their British authors ; to do so was both piratical and inexcusable. But there was as quite as much piracy from the British end. Books by Harris Town, Mackey, Morris, etc., were extensively pirated in England right down to the middle of the Nineteenth Century : this Encyclopedia was pirated a in half dozen languages.
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