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whence the French is apparently derived. | they cannot be reduced to rules, must be Where a Saxon root cannot be found, the defect | learned from the dictionary rather than the may be supplied from kindred languages, which grammar. will be generally furnished with much liberality The verbs are likewise to be distinguished by the writers of our glossaries; writers who according to their qualities, as actives from deserve often the highest praise, both of judg- neuters; the neglect of which has already inment and industry, and may expect at least to troduced some barbarities in our conversation, be mentioned with honour by me, whom they which if not obviated by just animadversions, have freed from the greatest part of a very la- may in time creep into our writings. borious work, and on whom they have imposed, Thus, my Lord, will our language be laid at worst, only the easy task of rejecting super-down, distinct in its minutest subdivisions, and fluities.
resolved into its elemental principles. And By tracing in this manner every word to its who upon this survey can forbear to wish, that original, and not admitting, but with great cau- these fundamental atoms of our speech might tion, any of which no original can be found, we obtain the firmness and immutability of the shall secure our language from being overrun primogenial and constituent particles of matter, with cant, from being crowded with low terms, that they might retain their substance, while the spawn of folly or affectation, which arise they alter their appearance, and be varied and from no just principles of speech, and of which compounded, yet not destroyed. therefore no legitimate derivation can be shown. But this is a privilege which words are
When the etymology is thus adjusted, the scarcely to expect: for, like their author, when analogy of our language is next to be considered; they are no: gaining strength, they are genewhen we have discovered whence our words rally losing it. Though art may sometimes are derived, we are to examine by what rules prolong their duration, it will rarely give them they are governed, and how they are inflected perpetuity; and their changes will be almost al. through their various terminations. The ter- ways informing us, that language is the work minations of the English are few, but those of man, of a being from whom permanence and few have hitherto remained unregarded by the stability cannot be derived. writers of our dictionaries. Our substantives Words having been hitherto considered as seare declined only by the plural termination, our parate and unconnected, are now to be likeadjectives admit no variation but in the degrees wise examined as they are ranged in their vaof comparison, and our verbs are conjugated by rious relations to others by the rules of syntax auxiliary words, and are only changed in the or construction, to which I do not know that preter tense.
any regard has been yet shown in English dicTo our language may be with great justness tionaries, and in which the grammarians can applied the observation of Quintilian, that give little assistance. The syntax of this lanspeech was not formed by an analogy sent from guage is too inconsistent to be reduced to rules, heaven. It did not descend to us in a state of and can be only learned by the distinct consiuniformity and perfection, but was produced by deration of particular words, as they are used necessity, and enlarged by accident, and is there by the best authors. Thus, we say, according fore composed of dissimilar parts, thrown to- to the present modes of speech, The soldier gether by negligence, by affectation, by learning, died of his wounds, and the sailor perished with or by ignorance.
hunger : and every man acquainted with our Our inflections therefore are by no means language would be offended by a change of these constant, but admit of numberless irregularities, particles, which yet seem originally assigned which in this Dictionary will be diligently by chance, there being no reason to be drawn noted. Thus fox makes in the plural foxes, but from grammar why a man may not, with equal or, makes oren. Sheep is the same in both propriety, be said to die with a wound, or perish numbers. Adjectives are sometimes compared of hunger. by changing the last syllable, as proud, prrouder,
Our syntax therefore is not to be taught by proudest : and sometimes by particles prefixed, general rules, but by special precedents; and as ambitious, more ambitious, most ambitious.
in examining whether Addison has been with The forms of our verbs are subject to great va- justice accused of a solecism in this passage, riety; some end their preter tense in ed, as I
The poor inhabitantlove, I loved, I have lovad: which may be called Starves in the midst of nature's bounty curst the regular form, and is followed by most of And in the loaded vineyard dies for thirst, our verbs of southern original. But many depart from this rule without agreeing in any it is not in our power to have recourse to any other; as I shake, I shook, I have shaken, or established laws of speech ; but we must reshook, as it is sometimes written in poetry; I mark how the writers of former ages have used make, I made, I have made ; I bring, I brought ; the same word, and consider whether he can I wring, I urung; and many others, which, as be acquitted of impropriety, upon the testimony of Davies, given in bis favour by a simi- senses of each word, and to exhibit first Its nalar passage.
tural and primitive signification; as,
To arrive, to reach the sbore in a voyage : he She loathes the watery glass wherein she gazed, And shuns it still, although fir thirst she dye.
arrived at a safe harbour.
Then to give its consequential meaning, to When the construction of a word is explained, arrive, to reach any place, whether by land or it is necessary to pursue it through its train of sea; as, he arrived at his country seat. pbraseology, through those forins where it is Then its metaphorical sense, to obtain any used in a manner peculiar to our language, or thing desired; as, he arrived at a peerage. in senses not to be comprised in the general ex- Then to mention any observation that arises planations; as from the verb make arise these from the comparison of one meaning with phrases, to make love, to make an end, to make another; as it may be remarked of the word way; as, he made way for his followers, the arrive, that, in consequence of its original and ship made way before the wind; to make a bed, etymological sense, it cannot be properly apto make merry, to make a mock, to make presents, plied but to words signifying something desirato make a doubt, to make out an assertion, to ble : thus we say, a man arrived at happiness ; make good a breach, to make good a cause, to but cannot say, without a mixture of irony, he make nothing of an attempt, to make lamenta- arrived at misery. tion, to make a merit, and many others which Ground, the earth, generally as opposed to will occur in reading with that view, and which the air or water. He swam till he reached only their frequency hinders from being gene- ground. The bird fell to the ground. rally remarked.
Then follows the accidental or consequential The great labour is yet to come, the labour signification in which ground implies any thing of interpreting these words and phrases with that lies under another; as, he laid colours brevity, fulness, and perspicuity; a task of upon a rough ground. The silk had blue lowers which the extent and intricacy is sufficiently on a red ground. shown by the miscarriage of those who have Then the remoter or metaphorical significagenerally attempted it. This difficulty is in- tion; as, the ground of his opinion was a false creased by the necessity of explaining the computation. The ground of his work was his words in the same language, for there is often father's manuscript. only one word for one idea ; and though it be After having gone through the natural and easy to translate the words bright, sweet, salt, figurative senses, it will be proper to subjoin buller, into another language, it is not easy to the poetical sense of each word, where it difexplain them.
fers from that which is in common use; as wanWith regard to the interpretation, many other ton, applied to any thing of which the motion questions have required consideration. It was is irregular without terror; as, some time doubted whether it be necessary to
In wanton ringlets curl'd her hair. explain the things implied by particular words; as under the term baronet, whether, instead of To the poetical sense may succeed the famithis explanation, a title of honour next in degree liar ; as of toast, used to imply the person to that of baron, it would be better to mention / whose health is drank; as, more particularly the creation, privileges, and rank of baronets ; and whether, under the word
The wise mau's passion and the vaia mau's toast.
POPE barometer, instead of being satisfied with ob. serving that it is an instrument to discover the
The familiar may be followed by the burweight of the air, it would be fit to spend a few lesque; as of mellow, applied to good fellowlines upon its invention, construction, and prin ship. ciples. It is not to be expected, that with the explanation of the one the herald should be In all thy humours, whether grave or mellou. satisfied, or the philosopher with that of the
ADDISON. other; but since it will be required by common
Or of bite, used for cheat : readers, that the explications should be suffi- i cient for common use; and since, without some
More a dupe than wit, attention to such demands, the Dictionary can
Sappho can tell you how this man was bit. Pope. not become generally valuable, I have determined to consult the best writers for explana
And lastly, may be produced the peculiar tions real as well as verbal; and perhaps I may
sense, in which a word is found in any great at last have reason to say, after one of the author ; as faculties, in Shakspeare, signifies the augmenters of Furetier, that my book is more
powers of authority: learned than its author.
-This Dancan In explaining the general and popular lan- Has born his faculties so meek, has been guage, it seems necessary to sort the several So clear in his great office, that, &c.
The signification adjectives may be often “ Here,” says the critic, “ as the sentence is ascertained by uniting them to substantives ; now read, we find that what stood, fled :” and as, simple suain, simple sheep. Sometimes the therefore he proposes an alteration, which he sense of a substantive may be elucidated by the might have spared if he bad consulted a dictionepithets annexed to it in good authors : as, the ary, and found that nothing more was affirmed boundless ocean, the open lawns : and where such than that those fled who did not fall. advantage can be gained by a short quotation, it In explaining such meanings as seem acciis not to be omitted.
dental and adventitious, I shall endeavour to The difference of signification in words gen- give an account of the means by which they erally accounted synonymous, ought to be care- were introduced. Thus, to eke out any thing, fully observed; as in pride, haughtiness, arro- signifies to lengthen it beyond its just dimengance : and the strict and critical meaning ought sions, by some low artifice; because the word to be distinguished from that which is loose and eke was the usual refuge of our old writers, popular; as in the word perfection, which, when they wanted a syllable. And burom, though in its philosophical and exact sense it which means only obedient, is now made, in can be of little use among human beings, is often familiar phrases, to stand for wanton ; because 80 much degraded from its original signification, in an ancient form of marriage, before the Rethat the academicians have inserted in their formation, the bride promised complaisance and work, the perfection of a language, and, with a obedience, in these terms; “I will be bonair little more licentiousness, might have prevailed and burom in bed and at board." on themselves to have added the perfection of a
I know well, my Lord, how trifling many of dictionary.
these remarks will appear separately considered, There are many other characters of words and how easily they may give occasion to the which it will be of use to mention. Some have contemptuous merriment of sportive idleness, both an active and passive signification ; as fear- and the gloomy censures of arrogant stupidity; ful, that which gives or which feels terror; a
but dulness it is easy to despise, and laughter it fearful prodigy, a fearful hare. Some have a is easy to repay. I shall not be solicitous what personal, some a real meaning; as in opposition is thought of my work by such as know not the to old, we use the adjective young, of animated difficulty or importance of philological studies ; beings, and new of other things. Some are re
nor shall think those that have done nothing, strained to the sense of praise, and others to qualified to condemn me for doing little. It that of disapprobation; so commonly, though may not, however, be improper to remind them, not always, we exhort to good actions, we in- that no terrestrial greatness is more than an agstigate to ill; we animate, incite, and encourage gregate of little things; and to inculcate, after indifferently to good or bad. So we usually the Arabian proverb, that drops, added to drops, ascribe good but impute evil; yet neither the constitute the ocean. use of these words, nor, perhaps, of any other
There remains yet to be considered the distriin our licentious language, is so established as bution of words into their proper classes, or that not to be often reversed by the correctest writers. part of lexicography which is strictly critical. I shall therefore, since the rules of style, like
The popular part of the language, which in. those of law, arise from precedents often repeat- cludes all words not appropriated to particular ed, collect the testimonies on both sides, and en- sciences, admits of many distinctions and subdideavour to discover and promulgate the decrees visions; as, into words of general use, words of custom, who has so long possessed, whether employed chiefly in poetry, words obsolete, by right or by usurpation, the sovereignty of words which are admitted only by particular words.
writers, yet not in themselves improper; words It is necessary likewise to explain many used only in burlesque writing ; and words imwords by their opposition to others; for con- pure and barbarous. traries are best seen when they stand together.
Words of general use will be known by havThus the verb stand has one sense, as opposed ing no sign of particularity, and their various to fall, and another as opposed to fly; for want
senses will be supported by authorities of all of attending to which dictinction, obvious as it ages. is, the learned Dr. Bentley has squandered his
The words appropriated to poetry will be discriticism to no purpose, on these lines of Para, tinguished by some mark prefixed, or will be dise Lost:
known by having no authorities but those of
poets. In heaps
Of antiquated or obsolete words, none will be Chariot and charioteer lay overturn'd,
inserted but such as are to be found in authors And fiery foaming steeds. What stood, recoil'd, O'erwearied, through the faint satanic host,
who wrote since the accession of Elizabeth, from Defensive scarce, or with pale fear surprised,
which we date the golden age of our language ; Fled ignominious
and of these many might be omitted, but that
the reader may require, with an appearance of; own claim, will be readily allowed me as the
The words which are found only in particular those of an inferior rank; of noting the quotabooks, will be known by the single name of him tions with accuracy; and of selecting, when it that has used them; but such will be omitted, can be conveniently done, such sentences, as, unless either their propriety, elegance, or force, besides their immediate use, may give pleasure or the reputation of their authors, affords some or instruction, by conveying some elegance of extraordinary reason for their reception. language, or some precept of prudence, or piety.
Words used in burlesque and familiar compo- It has been asked, on some occasions, who sitions, will be likewise mentioned with their shall judge the judges ? And since, with reproper authorities; such as dudgeon, from Butler, gard to this design, a question may arise by and leasing, from Prior; and will be diligently what authority the authorities are selected, it characterised by marks of distinction.
is necessary to obviate it, by declaring that many Barbarous, or impure words and expressions of the writers whose testimonies will be alleged, may be branded with some note of infamy, as were selected by Mr. Pope ; of whom I may be they are carefully to be eradicated wherever justified in afirming, that were he still alive, they are found ; and they occur too frequently solicitous as he was for the success of this work, even in the best writers; as in Pope,
he would not be displeased that I have under
taken it. -- in endless error hur!'d.
It will be proper that the quotations be ranged 'Tis there that early taiut the fen ale soul.
according to the ages of their authors; and it In Addison :
will afford an agreeable amusement, if to the
words and phrases which are not of our own Attend to what a lesser muse incites.
growth, the name of the writer who first intro
duced them can be affixed; and if to words And in Dryden,
which are now antiquated, the authority be sub
joined of him who last admitted them. Thus, A dreafal quiet felt, and uorser far Thın iris
for scathe and burom, now obsolete, Milton may
be cited, If this part of the Work can be well performed, it will be equivalent to the proposal made by
The mountain oak
Stands scathed to heaven Boileau to the academicians, that they should
He with broad sails review all their polite writers, and correct such
Window'd the burom airimpurities as might be found in them, that their authority might not contribute at any distant time, to the depravation of the language.
By this method every word will have its hisWith regard to questions of purity or pro- tory, and the reader will be informed of the priety, I was once in doubt whether I should gradual changes of the language, and have before not attribute too much to myself, in attempting his eyes the rise of some words, and the fall of to decide them, and whether my province was
others. But observations so minute and accuto extend beyond the proposition of the question, rate are to be desired, rather than expected ; and and the display of the suffrages on each side; | if use be carefully supplied, curiosity must but I have been since determined, by your Lord- sometimes bear its disappointments. ship's opinion, to interpose my own judgment, This, my Lord, is my idea of an English Dicand shall therefore endeavour to support what tionary; a dictionary by which the pronunappears to me most consonant to grammar and ciation of our language may be fixed, and its
Ausonius thought that modesty forbad attainment facilitated; by which its purity may him to plead inability for a task to which Cæsar be preserved, its use ascertained, and its durahad judged him equal.
tion lengthened. And though, perhaps, to cor
rect the language of nations by books of gramCur me posse negem, posse quod ille putat ? mar, and amend their manners by discourses of
morality, may be tasks equally difficult; yet, as And I may hope, my Lord, that since you, it is unavoidable to wish, it is natural likewise whose authority in our language is so generally to hope that your Lordship's patronage may acknowledged, have commissioned me to declare not be wholly lost ; that it may contribute to the my own opinion, I shall be considered as exer- preservation of ancient, and the improvement cising a kind of vicarious jurisdiction, and that of modern writers; that it may promote the rethe power which might have been denied to my formation of those translators who, for want of
understanding the characteristical difference of from a contest with united academies, and long tongues, have formed a chaotic dialect of hete successions of learned compilers. I cannot hope, rogeneous phrases; and awaken to the care of in the warmest moments, to preserve so much purer diction some men of genius, whose atten- caution through so long a work, as not often to tion to argument makes them negligent of style, sink into negligence, or to obtain so much knowor whose rapid imagination, like the Peruvian ledge of all its parts as not frequently to fail by torrents, when it brings down gold mingles it ignorance. I expect that sometimes the desire with sand.
of accuracy will urge me to superfluities, and When I survey the Plan which I have laid sometimes the fear of prolixity betray me to
I cannot, my Lord, but confess, that omissions : that in the extent of such variety, I I am frighted at its extent, and, like the soldiers shall be often bewildered ; and in the mazes of of Cæsar, look on Britain as a new world, such intricacy, be frequently entangled; that in which it is almost madness to invade. But I one part refinement will be subtilized beyond hope, that though I should not complete the con- exactness, and evidence dilated in another bequest, I shall at least discover the coast, civilize yond perspicuity. Yet I do not despair of appart of the inhabitants, and make it easy for probation from those who, knowing the uncersome other adventurer to proceed farther, to re- tainty of conjecture, the scantiness of knowduce them wholly to subjection, and settle them ledge, the fallibility of memory, and the unsteaunder laws.
diness of attention, can compare the causes of We are taught by the great Roman orator, error with the means of avoiding it, and the that every man should propose to himself the extent of art with the capacity of man; and highest degree of excellence, but that he may whatever be the event of my endeavours, I shall stop with honour at the second or third : though not casily regret an attempt which has procured therefore my performance should fall below the me the honour of appearing thus publicly, excellence of other dictionaries, I may obtain,
My Lord, at least, the praise of having endeavoured well;
Your Lordship's most obedient por shall I think it any reproach to my dili
and most humble servant, gence, that I have retired without a triumph,
It is the fate of those who toil at the lower em- their progress. Every other author may aspire
of every species of literature, has itself been