THE Committee of Publication submit herewith the first volume of the Publications of the Society. The question of methods was discussed by the Council in 1893, and the work of the Committee has been performed in accordance with instructions received from the Council at that time. In order that the scheme under which this volume has been issued may be fully comprehended, it may be well to present an extract from the Report of a Committee appointed to consider the Form and Title of the Society’s Publications. That Committee reported as follows: —

    First: They recommend that all Publications of the Society shall be uniform in size and style.

    Second: They recommend for that purpose the Royal Octavo size, and that Roman fonts of type be used.

    Third: They recommend that the series of volumes, whatever their contents, shall be called “The Publications of The Colonial Society of Massachusetts,” and the volumes be numbered consecutively.

    Fourth: They recommend that the contents of the separate volumes of the Publications be classified, and that those which contain the Proceedings of the Meetings be given the sub-title of “Transactions,” — the intention being to include under this sub-title all proceedings, communications, and papers read at meetings, except such special matter as may, for some exceptional reason, be deemed more suitable for classification under the other sub-title.

    Fifth: They recommend that selections from the Archives of the Society, — reprints, or other matter not properly to be included in the “Transactions,” — be printed in separate volumes of the Publications, to which they think the sub-title “Collections” may properly be given.

    These recommendations were approved by the Council, 26 May, 1893.

    It will be observed that the standard of size and shape adopted for the volumes is that which custom seems to have approved for works of this description, and that the selection of type was governed by the experience of generations of readers.

    The custom prevails in many societies to issue in separate Series the volumes containing the Proceedings at the Meetings of the Society, and those devoted to the publication of selections from the Archives. This classification has certain advantages, but it is also attended with one evident disadvantage; namely, that, where a society has issued several parallel series of publications, their citation is apt to produce confusion in the minds of those not familiar with this custom. Though ignorance of the fact that there is a Volume V. of the Bulletin of a society as well as a Volume V. of the Proceedings and a Volume V. of the Collections of the same society may not justify a student in turning to the Bulletin or the Proceedings when the Collections are cited, still the determination of the Council to avoid the chance of error will, we think, be welcomed by those who have occasion to consult our Publications. The necessary classification of the material of the volumes will be preserved by devoting certain of them to the report of our Meetings, such volumes bearing the sub-title “Transactions,” and by placing under the sub-title “Collections” all other publications. Facility of citation will be gained by the consecutive numbering of the volumes, under the general title “Publications.”

    The present volume will stand as the model after which our volumes of Transactions will be fashioned. The labor of preparing the system upon which the Proceedings of our Meetings are reported, and of determining the details connected with the typography adopted in text and notes, has required much time and patience. The Committee would fail in the performance of their duty if they neglected to state that the Society is much indebted to Mr. Henry H. Edes, Chairman of the Committee on Printing, for his patient supervision of the composition and press-work. The attractive appearance of the pages of this volume is largely due to his taste and good judgment.

    The preparation of the Index has been intrusted to Mr. Lindsay Swift of the Boston Public Library. His instructions were to note the mention of every Name and Place, the Title of every Publication referred to in text or note, and to make a topical analysis sufficiently elaborate to give a general idea of the contents. In many volumes of this sort, separate indexes will be found for names, places, and subjects. It was thought best to incorporate all of these in one. There seems to be no adequate gain in the separate indexes, and in some respects they are a positive disadvantage. The Committee of Publication esteem it a happy circumstance that they were able to secure the services of so competent a person for the work of preparing the Index of our initial volume.

    When the Committee entered upon their work they were instructed by the Council to assign to Volume I. as many of the Reports of our Meetings, including the papers presented there and furnished for publication, as would make a handy volume, the same to be denominated the first of the series, under the sub-title “Transactions.” The number of pages fixed by the Committee as suitable for a Royal Octavo book is five hundred. The exigencies of any particular volume, including Preface and Index, may require more or less than this number, but it is desirable that substantial uniformity in this respect shall be preserved, — a result easily attainable so far as the Transactions are concerned.

    The Council instructed the Committee to proceed simultaneously in the preparation of Volume II. of the Publications, to which were assigned the Commissions and Instructions of the Royal Governors of the Province. It is not probable that these documents will furnish five hundred printed pages, but there are enough of them to make a volume by themselves; and it is obvious that in the publication of volumes under the sub-title “Collections” greater latitude will have to be allowed in this respect.

    In conclusion, the Committee feel that they can congratulate the Society upon the creditable appearance of these pages.

    Andrew McFarland Davis,

    Henry Williams,

    John Noble,

    Edward Griffin Porter,

    George Lyman Kittredge,

    Committee of Publication.


    Boston, 1 May, 1896.

    When about to go to press with the present volume, the Committee of Publication received the following letter. It will be observed that our associate, Mr. Abner C. Goodell, Jr., no longer attributes to Washington the handwriting of the draught of the original plan for establishing the Society of the Cincinnati, to which reference is made in our Transactions for February, 1894 (pp. 238–254).

    Boston, May 1, 1896.

    My dear Sir, — I hasten to avow, through you, to the Committee of Publication, my conviction that I was wrong in the opinion I expressed at our meeting in February, 1894, as to the handwriting of the draught of the Constitution of the Society of the Cincinnati. I am not only satisfied that Washington did not write that paper, but that Samuel Shaw did.

    As to the causes of that error, I can only say that the heliotype reproduction in our Publications shows the strong points of resemblance to Washington’s handwriting, which led me to the unequivocal expression of opinion which I now retract, and to my denying the possibility of its having been written by either of the other persons named to me as the probable writer, — Knox, Heath, Cobb, Reed, and Lincoln, — abundant specimens of the handwriting of each of whom I critically examined.

    Of Shaw’s handwriting, unfortunately, the genuine specimens I had for comparison were signatures only; and but one of these bore the full Christian name, and none of them exhibited any of the marked peculiarities common to his hand and Washington’s.

    Now, however, the well-attested examples of Shaw’s handwriting to which I have been referred in the Knox Papers settle the point beyond controversy.* I am indebted to you for direction to the particular pages which afford this evidence.

    Though I regret that I had not been corrected in season to make the necessary changes in the printed report of my remarks, I should consent very unwillingly to deprive the public of the interesting facsimile of an original document which, except for the sole circumstance that it was not written by Washington, is of the first importance as a contribution to the history of the formation of the patriotic Society of which he was the first President-General.

    Sincerely yours,

    A. C. Goodell, Jr.

    Mr. Henry Williams.

    * See these papers in the possession of the New-England Historic Genealogical Society, x. 29, 33, 34, 49, 62, 93, 135, 143, 148, 151, 160, 174; and xxv. 56, 71, 79, 81, 86, 93, 109, 128, 139, 144, 146, 148, 159, 176, 177.

    The delay which has occurred in the issue of these pages has enabled the Committee to include this important communication.