The old document commonly known among Masonic scholars as Matthew Cooke's Manuscript, because it was first given to the public by that distinguished Brother, was published by him, in 1861, from the original in the British Museum, which institution purchased it, on the 14th of October, 1859, from Mrs. Caroline Baker. It was also published in facsimile by the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, London, in 1890. Its principal value is derived from the fact, as Brother Cooke remarks, that until its appearance ''there was no prose work of such undoubted antiquity known to be in existence on the subject.'' Brother Cooke gives the following account of the Manuscript in his preface to its republication: By permission of the Trustees of the British Museum, the following little work has been allowed to be copied and published in its entire form. The original is to be found among the additional manuscripts in that national collection, and is numbered 23,198. Judging from the character of the handwriting and the form of contractions employed by the scribe, it was most probably written in the litter portion of the fifteenth century, and may be considered a very clear specimen of the penmanship of that period. By whom or for whom it was originally penned there is no means of ascertaining; but from the style, it may be conjectured to have belonged to some Master of the Craft, aud to have been used in assemblies of Freemasons as a text-book of the traditional history and laws of the Fraternity.
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