P R E F A C E .
II is not without some Concern that I put this Work in the Reader's Hands; a Work so disproportionate to a single Person's Experience, and which might have employed an Academy. What adds to my Jealousy, is the little measure of Time allowed for a Performance to which a Man's whole Life scarce seems equal. The bare Vocabulary of the Academy della Crusca was above forty Years in compiling, and the Dictionary of the French Academy much longer; and yet the present Work is as much more extensive than either of them in its Nature and Subject, as it falls short of them in number of Years, or of Persons employed.
The Reader might be here led to suspect something of Disingenuity; and think I first put a Book upon him, and then give him Reasons why I should not have done it. ---But his Suspicions will cease, when he is apprized of the Advantages under which I engaged; which, in one Sense, are superior to what had been known in any former Work of the Kind; all that had been done in them accruing, of course, to the Benefit of this. I come like an Heir to a large Patrimony, gradually raised by the Industry, and Endeavours of a long Race of Ancestors. What the French Academists, the Jesuits de Trevoux, Daviler, Chomel, Savary, Cbauvin, Harris, Wolsius, and many more have done, has been subservient to my Purposes. To say nothing of a numerous Class of particular Dictionaries which contributed their Share; Lexicons on almost every Subject, from Medicine and Law, down to Heraldry and the Manage.
Yet this is but a Part. I am far from having contented myself to take what was ready procured; but have augmented it with a large Accession from other Quarters. No part of the Commonwealth of Learning, but has been trafficked to on this Occasion. Recourse has been had to the Originals themselves on the several Arts; and, not to mention what small Matters could be furnished de proprio penu, the Reader will here have Extracts and Accounts from a great Number of Authors of all Kinds, either overlooked by former Dictionarists, or not then extant, and a Multitude of Improvements in the Several Arts, especially of Natural Knowledge, made in these last Years. I should produce Instances hereof; but I hope this would be needless, as it is endless; and that there are few Pages which will not afford several.
Such are the Sources from whence the Materials of the present Work were derived; which, it must be allowed, were rich enough not only to afford Plenty, but even Profusion: So that the chief Difficulty lay in the Form; in the Order, and OEconomy of the Work: To dispose such a Variety of Materials in such manner, as not to make a confused Heap of incongruous Parts, but one consistent Whole.----And here it must be confessed there was no Assistance to be had; but I was forced to stand wholly on my own Bottom. Former Lexicographers have not attempted any thing like Structure in their Works; nor seem to have been aware that a Dictionary was in some measure capable of the Advantages of a continued Discourse. Accordingly, we see nothing like a Whole in what they have done: And hence, such Materials as they did afford for the present Work, generally needed further Preparation, ere they became fit for our Purpose; which was as different from theirs, as a System from a Cento:
This we endeavoured to attain, by considering the several Matters not only absolutely and independently, as to what they are in themselves; but also relatively, or as they respect each other. They are both treated as so many Wholes, and as so many Parts of some greater Whole; their Connexion with which, is pointed out by a Reference. So that by a Course of References, from Generals to Particulars; from Premises to Conclusions; from Cause to Effect; and vica versa, i.e. in one word, from
more to less complex, and from less to more: A Communication is opened between the several Parts of the Work; and the several Articles are in some measure replaced in their natural Order of Science, out of which the Technical or Alphabetical
one had removed them.
For an Instance ----The Article ANATOMY is not only considered as a Whole, i.e. as a particular Combination or System of Ideas; and accordingly divided into its Parts, Humane and Comparative: and Humane again Subdivided into the Analysis of Solids and Fluids, (which are referred to in the several Places in the Book, where they themselves being treated of, refer to others still lower, and
so on) but also as a Part of MEDICINE; which accordingly it refers to, and which itself refers to another higher, etc.---By which means a Chain is carried on from one End of an Art to the other, i.e. from the first or simplest Complication of Ideas appropriated to the Art, which we call the Elements or Principles thereof; to the
most complex or general one, the Name or Term that denotes the whole Art.
Nor is the Pursuit dropt here: but as the Elements or Data in one Art, are ordinarily quaesita in some other subordinate one, and are furnished thereby ; (as here for Instance, the Elements of Anatomy are furnished by Natural History, Physicks, and Mechanicks; and Anatomy may be considered as a Datum, or Element furnished to Medicine) We carry on the View farther, and refer out of one Art or Province into the adjoining ones, and thus lay the whole Land of Knowledge open: It appears indeed with
the Face of a Wilderness; but it is a Wilderness through which the Reader may pursue his Journey as securely, though not so expeditiously and easily, as through a regular Parterre.
It may be even said, that if the System be an Improvement upon the Dictionary;
the Dictionary is some Advantage to the System; and that this is perhaps the only Way wherein the whole Circle or Body of Knowledge can be delivered. In any other Form, many thousand Things must necessarily be hid and overlooked, All the Pins, the Joints, the binding of the Fabrick must be invisible of course; all the lesser Parts, one might
say all the Parts whatsoever, must be in some measure Swallowed up in the
Whole. The Imagination, stretched and...
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