« AnteriorContinuar »
and at length totally lost his sight. To the friendship and protection of this Gentleman Mr. Preston having been consigned after the death of his father, he left college to attend on his patron as an amanuensis, in which character he continued till Mr. Ruddiman's decease.
Before that event, however, Mr. Thomas Ruddiman had bound young Preston apprentice to his brother, Walter Ruddiman, printer in Edinburgh; but his eyesight having, as before observed,' failed him long before he died, he employed Mr. Preston the greater part of his apprenticeship in reading to him, and in transcribing such of his works as were not completed, as well as correcting those in the press * This employment, as must be supposed, prevented Mr. Preston from making great proficiency in the practical branch of the art. After Mr. Thomas Ruddiman's death, however, he went into the office, and worked as a compositor for about a twelvemonth, during which time he finished a neat Latin edition of Thomas a-Kempis in 18mo, and an edition of Mr. Ruddiman's Rudiments of the Latin Tongue. But his natural inclination being bent on literary pursuits, he resolved, with the consent of his master, to go to London, where he arrived in 1760.
He brought with him several letters of recommendation from his friends in Scotland, and, among the rest, one from his master to the late William Strahan, Esq. his Majesty's printer t, who not only kindly received Mr. Preston, but engaged him in his service, and honoured him with his friendship and esteem till his death in July 1785 As a strong mark of his approbation, Mr. Strahan by his will, among many other literal benefactious, lest an annuity to Mr. Preston.
Andrew Strahan, Esq. his son, having succeeded to the business, Mr. Preston, naturally attached to a family to whose liberality and friendship he was so much indebted, continued to act in the same confidential capacity for him, and at this time superintends the correction of the press of his kind fiiend and generous benefactor: so that in the service of father and son he has now been engaged above 30 years. During that time, however, he has also been employed in occasional literary pursuits, and has furnished materials for various periodical publications.
We come now to consider Mr. Preston in his relation to our Ancient Fraternity.
Soon after his arrival in London, a number of Brethren from Edinburgh resoived to institute a Freemasons' Lodge in this city under sanction of a Constitution from Scotland; but not having succeeded in their application, they were recommended by the Grand Lodge at Edinburgh to the Antient Grand Lodge in London, who immediately
* Mr. Prestou afterwards compiled a very laborious catalogue of Mr. Ruddiman's books, under the title of Bibliotheca Romana, which did considerable credit to his literary abilities.
† Of this Gentleman some account shall appear in our next,
granted them a dispensation to form a Lodge, and to make Masons. They accordingly met at the White Hart in the Strand, and Mr. Preston was the second person initiated under that dispensation.
The Lodge was soon after regularly constituted by the Officers of the Antient Grand Lodge in person. Having increased considerably in numbers, it was found necessary to remove to the Horn Tavern in Fleet-street, where it continued some time, till that house being unable to furnish proper accommodations, it was removed to Scots Hall, Blackfriars. Here it continued to flourish about two years, when the decayed state of that building obliged them to remove to the Half Moon Tavern, Cheapside, where it continued to meet for a considerable time.
At length, Mr. Preston and some others of the members having joined a Lodge under the regular English Constitution, at the Talbot Inn in the Strand, they prevailed on the rest of the Lodge at the Half Moon Tavern to petition for a Constitution. Lord Blaney, at that time Grand Master, readily acquiesced with the desire of the Brethren, and the Lodge was soon after constituted a second time in ample form, by the name of The Caledonian Lodge. The ceremonies observed, and the numerous assembly of respectable Brethren who attended the Grand Officers on this occasion, must long be remembered to the bonour of that Lodge.
This circumstance, added to the absence of a very skilful Mason, to whom Mr. Preston was attached, and who had departed for Scotland on account of his health, induced him to turn his attention to the Masonic Lectures; and, to arrive at the depths of the Science, short of which he did not mean to stop, he spared neither pains nor expence. Wherever instruction could be acquired, thither he directed his course, and with the advantage of a retentive memory, and an extensive Masonic connection, added to a diligent literary research, he so far succeeded in his purpose as to become a competent Master of the subject. To increase the knowledge he had acquired, he solicited the company and conversation of the most experienced Masons from foreign countries; and, in the course of a literary correspondence with the Fraternity at home and abroad, made such progress in the mysteries of the Art, as to become very useful in the connexions he had formed. He has frequently been heard to say, that in the ardour of his enquiries he has explored the abodes of poverty and wretchedness, and, where it might have been least expected, acquired very valuable scraps of information. The poor Brother in return, we are assured, had no cause to think his time or talents ill bestowed. He was also accustomed to convene his friends once or twice a week, in order to illustrate the Lectures; on which occasions objections were started, and explanations given, for the purpose of mutual improvement. At last, with the assistance of some zealous friends, he was enabled to arrange and digest the whole of the First Lecture, To establish its validity he resolved to submit to the Society at large the progress he had made, and for that purpose he instituted, at a very considerable expence, a grand Gala at the Crown and Anchor Tavern
in the Strand, on Thursday, May 21, 1772, which was honoured with the presence of the then Grand Officers, and many other eminent and respectable Brethren. On this occasion he delivered an Oiation on the Institution, which, having met with general approbation, was afterwards printed in the first edition of the “ ILLUSTRATIONS OF MASONRY," published by him in the same year.
Having thus far succeeded in his design, Mr. Preston determined to prosecute the plan he had formed, and to complete the Lectures. He employed, therefore, a number of skilful Brethren, at his own expence, to visit different town' and country Lodges for the purpose of gaining information, and these Brethren communicated the result of their visits at a weekly meeting.
When by study and application he had arranged his system, he issued proposals for a regular course of Lectures on all the degrees of Masonry, and these were publicly delivered by him at the Mitre Tavern in Fleet-street in 1774.
For some years afterwards Mr. Preston indulged his friends by attending several schools of instruction, and other stated meetings, to propagate the knowledge of the Scieuce, which had spread far beyond his expectations, and considerably enhanced the reputation of the Society. Having obtained the sanction of the Grand Lodge, lie continued to be a zealous encourager and supporter of all the measures of that assembly which tended to add dignity to the Craft, and in all the Lodges in which his name was enrolled, which were very numerous, he enforced a due obedience to the laws and regulations of that body. By these means the subscriptions to the charity became much more considerable, and daily acquisitions to the Society were made of some of the most eminent and distinguished characters. At last he was invited by his friends to visit the Lodge of Antiquity, No. 1, then held at the Mitre Tavern in Fleet-street, when the Brethren of that Lodge were pleased to admit him a member, and, what was very unusual, elected him Master at the same meeting.
He had been Master of the Philanthropic Lodge at the Queen's Head, Gray's Inn Gate, Holborn, above six years, and of several other Lodges before that time. But he was now talight to consider the importance of the office of the first Master under the English Constitution, and he seemed to regret that some more eminent character in the walks of life had not been selected to support so distinguished a station. Indeed, this too small consideration of his own importance has pervaded his conduct on all occasions, and has operated (to the disappointment of many of our patrons and correspondents) to prevent our gaining permission to embellish this Mag:zine with his Portrait; and the writer of this brief account has frequently seen him voluntarily assume the subordinate offices of an assembly over which he has long before presided, on occasions where, from the absence of the proper persons, he has conceived that his services would promote the purposes of the meeting.
To the Lodge of Antiquity he now began chiefly to confine his attention, and during his Maste: ship, which continued for some years, the Lodge increased in numbers, and improved in its finances,
That he might obtain a complete knowledge of th state of the Society under the English Constitution, he became an active member of the Grand Lodge, was admitted a member of the Hall Committee, and, during the secretaryship of Mr. Thomas French, uilder the auspices of the Duke of Beaufort, then Grand Master, had become an useful assistant in arranging the General Regulations of the Society, and Teviving the foreign and country correspondence. Having been appointed to the office of Deputy Grand Secretary, under James Heseltine, Esq. he compiled, for the benefit of the charity, the History of Remarkable Occurrences inserted in the two first publications of the Freemasons' Calendar, prepared for the press an Appendix to the Book of Constitutions, and attended so much to the correspondence with the different Lodges, as to merit the approbation of it'; patron. This enabled him, from the various memoranda he had made, to' form the History of Masonry, which was afterwards printed in his “ ILLUSTRATIONS. The office of Deputy Grand Secretary he soon after voluntarily resigned.
An unfortunate dispute having arisen in the Society in 1779, between the Grand Lodge and the Lodge of Antiquity, in which Mr. Preston took the part of the Lodge and his private friends, his name was ordered to be erased from the Hall Committee, and he was afterwards, with a number of Gentlemen, members of that Lodge, expelled the Society.
The treatment he and his friends received at that time was circumstantially narrated in a well-written pamphlet, printed by Mr. Preston at his own expence, and circulated among his friends *, entitled, “ A State of Facts,” &c. &c. and the leading circumstances were recorded in some of the latter editions of the “ Illustrations of Masonry." Ten years afterwards, however, on a re-investigation of the sub'ect in dispute, the Grand Lodge was pleased to reinstate Mr. Preston, with all the other members of the Lodge of Artiquity, and that in the most handsome manner, at the Grand Feast in 1790, to the general satisfaction of the Fraternity.
During Mr. Preston's exclusion, he seldom or never attended any of the Lodges, though he was actually an enrolled member of a great number at home and abroad, all of which he politely resigned at the time of his suspensin; and directed his attention to his other literary pursuits, which may fairly be supposed to have contributed more to the advantage of his fortune.
To the Lodge of Antiquity, however, he continued warmly attached, and at present filis a very respectable office in that Lodge. It has been matter of deep regret with many of the best friends of the Institution, that so active and zealous a Brother should at any time have had occasion to desert a Society to which he had proved so diligent and useful a friend.
* It was never published.
In 1787 Mr Preston revived the Antient and Venerable Order of HARODÍM, of which he instituted a Chapter in London. In this Chapter the Lectures of Masonry are rendered complete, and periodically illustrated by the Companions, over whom the Right Hon. Lord Macdorald presides as Grand Patron, and James Heseltine, William Birch, John Spottiswoode, and William Meyrick, Esqrs. as Vice Patrons. The public meetings of this Chapter are held at Freemasons' Tavern on the 3d Mondays in January, February, March, April, October, November, and December.
In a future Number of this Magazine will probably be given a more particular account of this Institution, which certainly claims respect, and deserves encouragement; inasmuch as, while it preserves all the ancient purity of the Science, it refines the vehicle by which it is conveyed to the ear; asa diamond is not less a diamond, but is enhanced in its valud, by being polished.
AN EXTRAORDINARY TRAVELLER.
about 1000l. a year in that county at the age of 23; and in the year 1741, the year after his father's death, set off for the Continent on his travels. He rode on horseback, with one servant, over the greatest part of the world. He first viewed every European country, in doing which he spent 8 years. He then embarked for Američa, was 2 years in the northern part, and 3 more in South America, travelling as a Spaniard, which he was enabled to do from the very great facility he had in that language. The climate, prospects, and some other circumstances of Peru, enchanted him so much, that he hired a farm, and resided near a year in it. His next tour was to the East; he passed successively through all the territories in Africa to the South of the Mediterranean, Egypt, Syria, and all the dominions of the Grand Signior; went twice through Persia, once through the northern and once through the southern provinces; over India, Indostan, and part of Siam and Pegu; and made several excursions to the boundaries of China, for several months each time. He afterwards, on his return, stopped at the Cape of Good Hope, penetrated far into Africa, and on his return to the Cape took the opportunity of a ship that went to Batavia, and from thence viewed most of the islands in the Great Indian Archipelago. Returning to Europe, he landed at Cadiz, and passed in a straight line from that place to Moscow, in his way to Kamschatka. He was in correspondence with several Cornish gentlemen, with whom he was at college, so late as the year 1783, when he was supposed to be preparing for Siberia. A gentleman who saw him at Moscow in that year, represented him as healthy, vigorous, and in all respects as hearty as other people at 46, though he was then
His friends have not yet ceased to hope, although 11 years have elapsed, that he may have settled in some remote part of the world, from which the difficulty of conveyance prevents their
in his 66th year.