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Barbary Pirates, Wars On

The regiments which fought across North Africa in World War II were not the first Americans to fight in Tunis, Algeria, Morocco, for in 1801 we sent our then infant navy there to make war on the pirates of the Barbary Coast who had been destroying shipping for many years, American included, and France and Britain together had not been able to stop them. If we succeeded where the latter had failed it was largely owing to the ingenuity of one man, William Eaton, Consul at Tunis, who from out of Egypt and with a small group of natives infiltrated from behind the coast. It was Eaton who sent home the famous message, "Send some cash and a few marines." The Marine Corps was born in that war.

The majority of heroes and leaders in the war, which was neither short nor easy, were Masons, Stephen Decatur, William Bainbridge (probably), Commodore Edward Preble, Commodore Isaac Chauncey, Commodore Thomas MacDonough, etc. Decatur's utterance, quoted countless times, did not say that his country was never wrong or that he would support it in wrongdoing ; he said, ''My country-may it ever be right, but, right or wrong, my country ," the utterance plainly saying that his country might be in the wrong. Like his father before him, who had belonged to Veritas Lodge No. 16, Maryland, Decatur became a Mason early, in St. John's Lodge, Newport, R. I., in 1799. William Eaton was raised in North Star Lodge, Manchester, Vermont, in 1792.

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BASKETT BIBLE, THE

What Bible did the Masons use before 1717? Prior to 1611 it is almost certain that the majority of them used the famous Geneva Bible, published in 1560. It was the first issue of the Book to cut the text into chapters and numbered verses ; its cost was low ; it was the Bible of the Reformation. Because in the Book of Genesis it printed the line "made themselves breeches" instead of "made themselves aprons" it was everywhere popularly called The Breeches Bible. The Authorized, or King James, Version was first printed in 1611, in Black Letter, large folio, with 1400 pages. Because of a typographical error Ruth, III, verse 15, was printed with a "he " instead of a "she," and for that reason it was everywhere called The ''He'' Bible. The title page was a copper plate, sumptuously designed, semi-architectural in conception, with a symbolic scene representing the Scheme of Redemption across the top; Moses and the High Priest in panels at either side of the mid-page ; and in the lower corner two figures representing the writers of the Old and the New Testament, with a symbolic picture of the phoenix between them. At the extreme top were the Hebrew Letters JHWH; immediately beneath it a dove.

Copies of the now very rare first edition, if in good condition, sell for 53,000 to 55,000. In the Second Issue this Version contained another famous misprint, Matthew XXVI, 36, where "Jesus'' is printed aa "Judas."

(Printers sometimes made these typographical errors out of malice. The "Wicked Bible" is the most notorious example ; in it the "not" was purposely omitted from certain of the Ten Commandments, for which Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the King's Printers, were haled into Star Chamber, were fined L300 by Archbishop Laud, and the edition of 1000 copies confiscated.) For a century the Authorized Bible was no doubt used by Masons as it was by everybody else, almost to the exclusion of any other version.

In 1717, the year in which the first Grand Lodge was constituted, John Baskett, an Oxford printer, published an edition of his own, which came to be named after him, although it was dubbed The Vinegar Bible because in Luke XX the word "vineyard" was misprinted "vinegar." The title page, and for the first time in any Bible, consisted of a prospect of buildings. For this reason, and also perhaps because it had been published in 1717, or for both, it became popular among Masons, in America and Australia as well aa in England; more often than any other it is mentioned in the Inventories which were incorporated in old Lodge Minutes.

NOTE. The Baskett should not be confused with the Baskerville Bible. In 1750 John Baskerville became a designer of type, a rival to the famous Caslon whose type faces are standard today. In 1758 Baskerville was elected printer to Cambridge University. In 1763 he produced his edition of the Bible, called after his name, and at a cost of some 510,000. It was not appreciated at the time, and did not sell well, but has since become one of the classics of type design. Baskerville died in 1775. Any Lodge possessing a copy of his Edition of 1763 may treasure it as highly as a Baskett first edition even though the latter is older by 46 years.

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