The occurrences which took place in the City of London, in the year 1717, when that important Body, which has since been known as the Grand Lodge of England, was organized, have been always known in Masonuc history as the Revival of Freeenasonroy. AndersoD, in the first edition of the Constitutions, published in 1723 (page 47), speaks of the freeborn Blitish nations having revived the drooping Lodges of London; but he makes no other reference to the transaction. In his second edition, published in 1738, he is more diffuse, and the account there given is the only authority we possess of the organuzation made in 1717: Preston and all subsequent writers have of course derived their authority from Anderson. The transactions are thus detailed by Preston (Illustrations, 1792, page 246), whose amount is preferred, as contain ng in a more sueeinet form all that Anderson has more profusely detailed.
On the accession of George I, the Masons in London and its environs, finding themselves deprived of Sir Christopher Wren and their annual meetings discontinued, resolved to cement themselves under a new Grand Master, and to revive the eommunications and annual festivals of the Society. With this view, the Lodges at the Goose and Gridiron, in Saint Paul's Church-Yard; the Crown, in Parker's Lane, near Drury Lane; the Apple-Tree Tavern, in Charles Street, Covent Garden; and the Rummer and Grapes Tavern, in Channel Row, Westminster, the only four Lodges in being in the South of England at that time, with some other old brethren met at the AppleTree Tavern, above mentioned, in Februar" 1717; and, having voted the oldest Master Mason then present into the chair, constituted themselves a Grand Lodge, pro tempore, in due form. At this meeting it was resolved to revive the Quarterly Communications of the Fraternity, and to hold the next annual assembly and feast on the 24th of June at the Goose and Gridiron, in Saint Paul's Chureh-Yard, in compliment to the oldest Lodge, which then met there, for the purpose of electing a Grand Master among themselves, till they should have the honor of a noble brother at their head.
Accordingly on Saint John the Baptist's day, 1717, in the third year of the reign of King George I, the Assembly and Feast were held at the said house- when the oldest Master Mason and the Master of a Lodge having taken the chair, a list of proper candidates for the office of Grand Master svas produced; and the names being separately proposed, the Brethren, by a great majority of hands, elected Mr. Anthony Sayer Grand Master of Masons for the ensuing year- who was forthwith invested by the said oldest Master, installed by the Master of the oldest Lodge, and duly congratulated by the assembly, who paid him homage. The Grand Master then entered on the duties of his office, appointed his Wardens, and commanded the Brethren of the four Lodges to meet him and his Wardens quarterly in Communication; enjoining them at the sasne time to recommend to all the Fraternity a punctual attendance on the next annual Assembly and Feact. This claim, that P'reemasonry was not for the first time orgariized, but only revived in 1717, has been attacked by some of those modern iconoclasts who refuse credence to anything traditional, or even to any record which is not supported hy other eontemporary authority. Chief among these is Brother W. P. Buchan, of England, who, in his numerous articles in the London Freemason (1871-2), has attacked the antiquity of Freemasonry, and refuses to give it an existence anterior to the year 1717.
His exact theory is that "our system of degrees, words, grips, signs, ete., was not in existence until about 1717 A.D." He admits, however, that certain of the "elements or groundwork" of the Degrees existed before that year, but not confined to the Freemasons being common to all the Gilds. He thinks that the present system was indebted to the inventive genius of Anderson and Desaguliers. And he supposes that it was simply "a reconstruction of an ancient society, namely, of some form of old Pagan philosophy. " Henee, he contends that it was not a revival, but only a renaissance, and he explains his meaning in the following language:
before the eighteenth century we had a renaissance of Pagan architecture; then, to follow suit, in the eighteenthcentury we had a renaissance in a new dress of Pagan mysticism, but for neither are we indebted to the Operative Masons, although the Operative Masons were made use of in both cases (London Freemason, September 23, 1871).
Buchan's theory has been attacked by Brothers William J. Hughan and Chalmers I. Paton. That he is right in his theory, that the three Degrees of Master, Fellow Craft, and Apprentice were unknown to the Freemasons of the seventeenth century, and that these classes existed only as gradations of rank, will be very generally admitted.
But there is unquestionable evidence that the modes of recognition, the method of government, the legends, and much of our ceremonial of initiation, were in existence among the Operative Masons of the Middle Ages, and were transmitted to the Speculative Freemasons of the eighteenth century. The work of Anderson, of Desaguliers, and their contemporaries, was to improve and to enlarge, but not to invent. The Masonic system of the present day has been the result of a slow but steady growth. Just as the lectures of Anderson, known to us from their publication in 172.S were probably modified and enlarged by the suecessive labors of Clare, of Dunekerley. of Preston and of Hemming, did he and Desaguliers submit the simple ceremonial, which they found at the reorganization of the Grand Lodge in 1717, to a similar modifieation and enlargement.
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