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JUST PUBLISHED, HANDSOMELY PRINTED IN CROWN OCTAVO,
COLERIDGE ON THE SCIENCE OF METHOD,
BEING PART I., PRICE ONE SHILLING,
System of Universal Knowledge;
ON A METHODICAL PLAN,
PROJECTED BY SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.
Φαίνεται όυτε πέρας, όυτε τελεύτην εχων» ότι πρό τε της αρχής άλλη αει φάινεται αρχή μετά τε την τελευτην ετέρα υπολειπομένη τελευσή» τα μεν ελλειπειν, τα δε πλεοναζειν, θρύπτεσθαι δε, oίμαι, κερματιζόμενον το παν ανάγκη Ουκούν δή φανήναι και απτόμενα και χωρίς εαυτών, και κινουμένα πάσας κινήσεις, και εστωτα πανταχή, και γιγνόμενα και απολλύμενα και μηδετερα, ει ενός μη όντος πολλά έστιν;
NAATNN. Ilaguevidns. “ The strength of all sciences, which consisteth in their harmony, each supporting the other, is, as the strength of the old man's faggot, in the band. FOR WERE IT NOT BETTER FOR A MAN IN A FAIR ROOM TO SET UP ONE GREAT LIGHT, OR BRANCHING CANDLESTICK OF LIGHTS, THAN TO GO ABOUT WITH A SMALL WATCH CANDLE INTO EVERY CORNER ?".
BACON. Advancement of Learning, Book I. minna
53, BAKER STREET, PORTMAN SQUARE,
1. An ENCYCLOPÆDIA is indispensable to every library, as a concentration of human knowledge; while to the voyager, the naval and military officer, the colonist, and that numerous class of enterprising Britons whose want of a settled residence may isolate them from the world of letters, it is the only possible substitute for all other books. Works of this description are therefore among those few literary projects which have uniformly secured the patronage of the public. The reason is obvious: an Encyclopædia is to the rising education of the country at once a reservoir and a fountain-it receives perpetual accessions of knowledge from the genius of the age, which it yields again in willing abundance to posterity.
2. With the ancients, the term Encyclopædia, explained itself. It was really Instruction in a cycle, i.e. the cycle of the seven liberal Arts and Sciences, that constituted the course of education for the higher class of citizens. Unfortunately, the inapplicability of a strictly scientific method to a modern Encyclopædia, such as shall include the whole of its contents, has led to the abandonment of all principle of rational arrangement; and it may be safely asserted of all our universal dictionaries hitherto, that the chief difference between them, in respect of their plan, consists in the more or less complete disorganization of the Sciences and Systematic Arts; now retaining certain integral portions of the system as integers, forming each an entire treatise, but resigning these treatises to the places severally assigned to them by the accident of their initial letters; and now splintering all alike into their fractional parts, with an arrangement merely alphabetical. Nor has the imperfection rested here. This very alphabetical position was but too frequently determined by the caprice or convenience of the compiler; inasmuch as the division of parts into minor parts had no settled limit. Thus, one technical or scientific term included as its subordinates, and to be explained in the same article, sometimes more, sometimes fewer, other terms: and the arrangement became neither properly scientific, nor properly alphabetical. It had the inconveniences of both, without the advantages of either.
3. The results are such as might have been expected, in part from the necessity of such plans, and in part from the interference of individual whim, carelessness, and procrastination, to which it afforded the amplest opportunities, and even frequent temptation. Numerous articles of important information are found where the reader could have least expected to find them ; while articles of equal interest are in many cases not to be found at all.
4. A second result is, that an Universal Dictionary so constructed, equally with an Encyclopædia the most methodically arranged, requires alphabetical references; but with a twofold inconvenience, from which the latter would be free. First, the references, instead of being collected in one appropriate index, or at least in some known portion of the work, are scattered throughout the whole; and this is no slight annoyance, when a scientific term happens to have many synonyms, as, for instance, Azote, Nitrogen, Phlogisticated Air, &c. Secondly, the references must eventually lead the reader through as many volumes, as those other words happen to be placed in, which are necessary to be previously understood in order to a tolerable comprehension of the term first sought.
5. A third evil, resulting from the same causes, is the utter want of all proportion in the space occupied by each article, relatively either to the importance of the particular subject, or to the promised limits of the whole work. Hence, too, it arises that the proprietors are frequently reduced to a choice of evils. The work must be extended far beyond the first expectation of the purchasers, or the articles assigned to the latter volumes must be crowded in scanty and superficial abridg
ments. They contract to give the public an Universal Dictionary of the Arts and Sciences, but the execution outgrows the plan. Either openly then, or in the form of supplementary volumes (bearing perhaps a large proportion to the whole work), this pledge must be redeemed. In both cases the disorder and dislocation, and in many instances the deficiencies, remain unremedied.
6. The fourth ill consequence of this arbitrary arrangement calls for a somewhat fuller consideration. It requires but a moments reflection to be convinced, that the most voluminous Encyclopædia which has yet appeared, is incomparably too narrow to contain an Universal History of Knowledge in its present state ; and that the authors and compilers will have satisfied all rational expectations if only nothing shall be found excluded from any other cause than the higher importance of that which has been admitted ; in order that on all subjects the ends of general information at least may be accomplished. Where, therefore, selection is so imperiously required, there must be an equal necessity that certain fixed and intelligible principles should be pre-established. An Encyclopædia neither is, nor can reasonably be considered as, the book which a man of profound science is likely to consult for those things in which he is himself eminent. He will seek for accessions to his knowledge in the works of contemporaries employed like himself in extending the pomæria of science, and will often be most interested in speculations, the worth and stability of which are yet undetermined. But an Encyclopædia is a History of human knowledge, in which therefore these intellectual embryos, which at best are (as it were) but truths in the future tense, have no rightful or beseeming place, This, indeed, we hold to be a principle of such paramount importance, that we take the earliest opportunity of avowing our determination of a strict and systematic adherence to it; and we here give our public pledge that the ENCYCLOPÆDIA METROPOLITANA shall be so far historical in all respects, that only what has been established, or is at least already publici juris, and to be found in the records of Science and Literature, shall form the main body of every article; and that any opinions or speculations of the writer himself shall be declared to be such, and be given distinctly as a mere appendix of the article to which they belong.
7. We shall now particularize the evil to which we have been referring. From the licence which the planless plan of former works allows to the separate writersin one place, instead of a systematic history of the received truths and established discoveries in the department of knowledge, which was to have been exhibited, the larger portion of the space is filled up with the individual writer's own crude conceptions and prolix argumentation—while in another, on some subject of the highest interest, lo! in tarnished fragments over the numerous volumes, an old work torn asunder by all the letters of the alphabet! and reminding the classical reader of the decrepit Pelias, whose credulous daughters were induced by the artifices of Medea to cut his aged limbs in pieces, as the sole and certain means of restoring him, like another Æson, to the blooming honours of youth.
8. The SCHEME which we propose to substitute, or the principal outlines of the ENCYCLOPÆDIA METROPOLITANA, we now lay before the reader, as follows:- The work will consist of four main divisions. The first, which for the sake of distinction we have called the Philosophical part, comprises the Pure Sciences; and the second, or Scientific part, the Mixed and Applied Sciences. The third, or Biographical part, is devoted to Biography chronologically arranged, History, Chronology, and Geography; and the concluding or Miscellaneous part, besides being referential and supplementary to the preceding volumes, will have the unique advantage of presenting to the public, for the first time, a Philosophical and Etymological Lexicon of the English language; the citations selected and arranged chronologically, yet including all the purposes of a common Dictionary. The volume of Index will complete this division. It will be instantly seen that the first two divisions of a work, thus arranged, will grow naturally out of each other; the needful references will therefore be generally retrospective, and rarely made to future volumes. In our Biographical department we shall teach the same truths by example, that have been evolved in the former divisions, and stimulate to the exertions that have developed them ;-while in our Miscellaneous
portion or in the Index, every word will be found in its usual alphabetical place, as in any other Dictionary, with a plain reference to the volume and page containing its full explanation in the present work; together with a variety of interesting articles, either illustrative of the former divisions, or in their own nature miscellaneous. Each divisiou of the work will be separately paged.
9. Such is the general outline of the proposed Scheme. The Table at page 13 places the principal subdivisions, likewise, before the reader's eye, with as much detail as is compatible with the limits, or requisite for the purposes, of a Prospectus. It will be seen, too, that a more particularized and systematic justification of the principles, on which the Scheme has been constructed, will be afforded in the Preliminary Treatise, or General Introduction to the Encyclopædia.
10. When the work is completed, it will appear as an orderly Digest of all the great points of human knowledge, and, notwithstanding its comparatively moderate extent and price, must form the most perfect system of intellectual instruction and entertainment, that has been hitherto submitted to the friends and patrons of Art, Science, History, and general Literature in Great Britain.
11. We would place our claims to the favourable attention and patronage of the public, on two grounds : 1. That the great outline of our plan is free from the numerous defects and inconveniences involved in the plan of all preceding works of the kind, or occasioned or permitted by it. 2. That the plan now substituted possesses great positive advantages, peculiar to itself.
12. From what has been already seen of our plan, in the necessary discussion of its relative merits, we presume that we appropriate to the work the title of an Encyclopædia by an especial right, and that of a Philosophical System on a plea of superior propriety. But we cannot neglect the argument for such a work as the present, which is derivable from the peculiar circumstances of our times. The political changes of the world have not been more wonderful than the scientific and moral revolutions that have occurred within the last few years. The new views, new discoveries, and fresh facts, especially in all the different branches of Experimental Philosophy, which every year has brought with it, are unparalleled in the history of human knowledge ; and the accessions have not seldom been of such a nature as no mere supplementary postscript can embrace. For in many instances they affect the whole theory and consequent arrangement of the Art or Science to which they belong. Our project is in this respect therefore singularly fortunate in point of time. It will have to collect and combine the rich but scattered elements of future Science; while a still more important argument for our plan and for the period of its execution, will be found in the manifest tendency of all the Arts and Sciences at present, from the most purely intellectual even to the labours of the common mechanic, to lose their former insulated character, and organize themselves into one harmonious body of knowledge. The civilized world is now doing that which the ENCYCLOPÆDIA METROPOLITANA is preparing to do ; and for which it is providing a correspondent repository.
13. The Proprietors have not disguised from themselves that their undertaking is of the most arduous kind. The mass of ability requisite, will be great in proportion to the originality of our plan; and the perseverance, harmony, and punctuality, that are indispensable conditions of its success, must be commensurate with the difficulty of uniting variety with system, and of reconciling selectness and calculated proportion with universality as a whole, and fulness in each component part. If, in addition to this, the amount of capital demanded and already dedicated to the one purpose of securing this coalition, and of overcoming these difficulties, be considered ; with the number and high character of the artists, the men of science, and men of letters, on whose zealous co-operation, now pledged to us, we rest our pretension to the first acts of the public favour, and our confident hopes of continued support-not forgetting the relief and moral influence of a regular employment afforded during all seasons of the year to so many industrious mechanics as must necessarily be engaged on this work—the Proprietors of the ENCYCLOPÆDIA METROPOLITANA dare promise themselves, that by no reflecting reader will the present prospectus be deemed too serious,
14. Having explained the Principles on which the Encyclopædia Metropolitana was founded, we proceed to state a few facts, in reference to the manner in which the FIRST EDITION of the work was executed, and the Modifications now intended to be made in the SECOND EDITION.
15. The Encyclopædia Metropolitana was projected by the late eminent poet and philosopher, s. T. COLERIDGE. It differs in its plan from other Dictionaries of Universal Knowledge in being strictly methodical. The contributions of the scientific and learned men by whom it was composed, are arranged, not according to the letters of the alphabet which happen to form the initials of the English names of the Treatises, but in agreement with a PHILOSOPHICAL SYSTEM, based on the nature of the Subjects,- a method which causes the entire work to become a rational exposition of the state of human knowledge, and the mutual dependence and relative importance of its different branches. In virtue of this classification, the work forms both a course of study for the scholar, and a book of reference for the man of business: the former has the principles of the sciences laid before him in the philosophical order of their natural sequence; the latter is enabled to find readily the specific information he requires on any subject that interests him.
16. The system, projected by Mr. Coleridge, was ably executed by the Editors * and Authors to whom the execution of the scheme was confided. To confirm the truth of this assertion, it is sufficient to refer to the names of the Authors, and to state the fact, that many of the Treatises have been admitted by the Learned throughout Europe to be of the highest order of merit, and to have enlarged the boundaries of the scientific world, and placed their authors in the first rank of men of science in the present age.
17. The following ABSTRACT OF THE CONTENTS OF THE QUARTO EDITION, taken from the GENERAL PREFACE, will show in what manner the early professions of the projector of the work were realized. We shall speak of the four great divisions of the Encyclopædia separately.
PURE SCIENCES. 18. The order in which these sciences are exhibited, and the plan on which the MATHEMATICAL portion of the Encyclopædia is conceived, resemble considerably the series of Elementary Treatises projected many years ago for the University of Cambridge by Dr. Wood, the late Dean of Ely, and Professor Vince; but with this difference, that the present volumes are far more comprehensive in the subjects they embrace, and far more elaborate and scientific in their execution. But this very similarity shows that the Encyclopædia Metropolitana has attained one of its professed objects,--systematic instruction and scientific information, conveyed--not in a confused mass, but in the natural sequence of the sciences.
Indeed this portion of the work has met with a degree of approbation in many quarters, but especially in the University of Cambridge, which no other Encyclopædia has ever yet received. The student who has really mastered these sciences in the systematic form in which they are arranged here, will never in the course of the longest life find occasion to unlearn any portion of what he has here acquired, and will find no difficulty whatever in adding to his stores any new results which the mental energy and labour of mankind may hereafter develop from principles now known. It may, indeed, be safely affirined, that any person of good mathematical abilities, who shall follow the course of Mathematical treatises in this Encyclopædia, which are so arranged that a student may pursue them even without the assistance of a tutor, may become by that means a mathematician of very high character, and be enabled to master the most difficult and delicate speculations of continental mathematicians.
19. The names of the authors of the Treatises on Pure Mathematics are suffi
The EDITORS of the original edition of the Encyclopædia Metropolitana were-The Rev. EDWARD SMEDLEY, M.A., late Fellow of Sidney College, Cambridge; the Rev. lIgH JAMES Rose, B.D., late Principal of King's College, London ; and the Rev. HENRY JOHN Rose, B.D., late Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge.