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ART. I.-The English Encyclopædia: being a Collection of
Treatises, and « Dictionary of Terms, illustrative of the Arts and Sciences. Compiled from modern Authors of the " first Eminence in the different Branches of Science. The whole illustrated with upwards of four laundred CopperPlates. 10 l’ols. 4to. 151. Boards. Kearsley. 1803.
THE late century has been emphatically styled the age of dictionaries; for in it their number has not only increased beyond any former proportion, but their objects and plans have been equally extended. A dictionary, in its origin nal sense, is a collection of words arranged alphabetically, subservient to the student of a new language, or the mythology and customs, the geography and biography, of those to whom that language was common. Suidas and Hesychius aimed at no more; and Hoffman, towards the end of the seventeenth century, expanded chiefly the geography, inythology, and ancient history, of the Greeks, Romans, and Jews, from the dictionary of Lloyd. The two Stephani compiled dictionaries of words only; for the medical dictionary of H. Stephanus is confined to the explanation of the language of Hippocrates and Galen, including the similar attempts of Erotian and others. We need not enlarge on the Lexicon of Pitiscus, of Du Cange and his assistant Charpentier, of d'Herbelot, of Calmet, or the very excellent German Encyclopædia of the Bible. If these have extended the bounds of dictionaries, and facilitated the paths of science, they are not connected with our present investigation--the origin of those Encyclopedias, which include arts and sciences in all their vae riety-an inquiry we perhaps should not have undertaken, had we been aware of its difficulty and extent; but which having once begun, we shall persevere in, by imparting the result of our labours, perhaps of our tædium, to our readers. The dictionary of Mr. Chambers was published in 1728, a work supposed to silence competition, and conceived to be. Ckit. Řev, Vol. 1. January, 1804.
without an example, or an adequate successor. Such, at least, is the language which has been employed. Mr. Chambers however, with apparent candour, mentions his predecessors; but joins together the good and bad, with little discrimination, as equally trifling and equally useless. In the commencement of this inquiry, we had some thoughts of examining these predecessors; but we were somewhat surprised to find that so much had been achieved, as to leave few sprigs of laurel for the person who completed it.
The great dictionary of the French academy preceded Mr. Chambers's work; but this could give him little assistance, as Mr. Chambers's contains no disquisitions, no engravings, and is confined to an explanation of terms only. Yet these are so numerous, for the period so complete, that his work is admirably calculated to afford a foundation on which any future superstructure may be raised. If the subjects be proposed, numerous will be the authors, which even the slightest inquiry may suggest, who can contribute to an explanation. Furetier's dictionary will scarcely furnish more. . Chauvin's 'Lexicon Rationale, or Thesaurus Philosophicus,' is, however, a work of much greater importance. It contains some excellent figures, and a good illustration of philosophy, so far as the ancients were acquainted with the subject; and the mathematical science displayed in it, from the best authors of antiquity, is far from being inconsiderable. The whole is, indeed, contaminated with the jargon of the schools; and, in the earlier editions of Chambers, we perceive many passages in this department of the work copied with a servility somewhat disgraceful. The dictionary of the Jesuits of Trevoux also preceded Mr. Chambers; and to this work he was greatly indebted: but his principal and most valuable assistant was Dr. Harris, author of the 'Lexicon Technicum. We observe some little jealousy in the compilers of dictionaries; and it is seldom that they give any account of their predecessors. Dr. Harris's name does not occur in Bayle, in the General Dictionary, or even in the · Biographia Britannica ;' yet it is not easy to conceive the reason of this omission in the last instance. Even the authors of the supplement to his work, who are sufficiently jealous of his fame, add no account of his life; and Dr. Hutton does not notice a mathematician and philosopher of no common abilities. We have not been able to examine the first edition of his dictionary ; but the second was already published when he had attained the age of forty; and, froin incidental information, we find that the first must have appeared soon after 1704; for he apologises for giving a less distinct account of the Newtonian system of light and colours, as the books on this subject were then published so lately, the first cdition of the Optics appearing in this very
a less distinctele books on the Optics aj
vear. Dr. Harris's dictionary, however, though it claim the distinction of being general, by no means merits such ina discriminate commendation. In natural philosophy and mathematics, at the æra of its publication, it was unrivaled, and continued so, till, by a further enlargement of the bounds of science, it became incomplete; and it is to be regretted that the supplement, added to the fifth edition in 1736, aims rather at supplying the omissions in other branches of science, than the additions in mathematics or philosophy.
While these dictionaries preceded Mr. Chambers's work in the general circle of arts and sciences, many more limited publications of the same kind co-existed, among which we may particularly mention Ozanain's | Dictionnaire Mathématique, a most excellent work, the chemical dictionary of Johnson, the medical ones of Blanchard and Castellus, the sea dictionary of Mainwaring, and some others in the French language.-But who can even recount the successors of Mr. Chambers, and of the · Encyclopédie Méthodique of the French? Each of these are now receiving the most modern improvements in their respective capitals; and they are followed by others of no mean pretensions, particularly the ` Encyclopædia Britannica’ in Scotland, and the present Encyclo-, pædia in this metropolis. Though we do not attempt to enu.. merate the copies of a copy, the shadows of a shade, we are vet in justice called to notice some other truly original works. Rousseau's dictionary of music, and Macquer's dictionary of chemistry, in France; Dr. Hutton's philosophical, and Mr. Nicholson's chemical dictionary, in England, are of this kind; and if the last, from the change in the chemical system, should seem now obsolete, we trust it will urge the author to additional exertions in a new form. In other sciences, there are many valuable works. From Jacob, in jurisprudence; from Gusseme and Rasches, in numismatology ; froin Miller, in gardening; and from a French society in arts and trades; with many others, which, to mention, would render this article a catalogue. Now that mineralogy has assumed the shape of a science, it may properly constitute a part of some new edition ; for we have frequently had reason to complain of the want of such a desideratum. A medical dictionary also, equally distant from the vague crudity of Motherby and the tedious compilation of James, would be a very valuable work:
A dictionary of arts and sciences may either consist of a simple explanation of terms, or may contain distinct treatises on each branch. Yet in no modern dictionary is either plan followed exclusively. As it is not, on the one hand, easy to give a definition, without some little explanation leading to a short disquisition, so neither, on the other, would' an uncon, nected series of treatises, without explanations, be satisfactory. Every dictionary has therefore united both plans, leaning, occasionally, a little more to either, according to the original destination of the work. It has been generally the object of the authors to advance complete systems of each science, and to connect the scattered parts by references. This, however, they have seldom successfully effected: the references have been usually numerous; these articles have referred to others, till the original subject has gradually vanished in collateral ones, and at last totally disappeared. Another kind of reference is more important, viz. to the authors who have furnished the article, and to those by whoin the subject is more minutely aud scientifically explained, than the form of a dictionary will admit. Rare have been the assistances of this kind. More than one lexicographer may reflect,
• Mecum habito; et nori quam sit mihi curta supeller,'
The object of the work is thus explained in the preface:
• To facilitate the labours of the industrious and the ingenious, to guide the hand of the diligent mechanic, and to extend the pursuits of the skilful artist, are the chief objects of publications like this; which, as their title of Encyclopædia expresses, embrace, in the complete circle of the arts and sciences, the true principles of social life.
• In proportion only as knowledge is diffused, and the advan. tages of it are clearly understood, the importance of such a work can be justly estimated. It presents, not solely a barren gratification to curiosity, but it is the spring of action, and the source of opulence : it instructs us to supply by human arts the deficiencies of nature ; it controls fancy by experience; and placing before our eyes a long series of experiments, it enables us to reject the false, to adopt the true, and to improve the useful.' Vol. i. p. v.
• In the conduct of our work, we have indeed chosen the article of husbandry' as the foundation of manufactures, since the productions of nature are the materials for skill; but the same assiduous attention has been paid to all the liberal and mechanical arts, to every science, human or divine. Each forms a separate treatise : each has been adorned with whatever useful information could be gleaned from ancient or from modern literature ; and the whole, thus carefully arranged and combined, presents to the reader a convenient library, replete with ready and profitable instruction on every subject.
• We are not backward, indeed, to confess that our work has profited in some considerable degree from the labours of our northern predecessors; but the “ Encyclopædia Britannica,” exclusive of the imputation of national partiality, has been conducted on so wide and so expensive a scale; has been swelled with such a variety of uninteresting biography; with tedious geographical descriptions of obscure towns and villages ; with minute histories of fabulous heroes and divinities; as sufficiently to justify the compilation of a
dictionary of the arts and sciences, both less costly and less cum. bersome, though we trust not a whit less useful than their volumi. nous publication.
Neither must it be forgotten by our readers, that years have elapsed since the first publication of the “ Encyclopædia Britannia ca.” During this period, the active genius of man has explored a great variety of new paths in the regions of science; and of these it will be found that we have fully availed ourselves, not only in the body of the work, where most of the recent discoveries and inven. tions are carefully noted, but also in our supplement, which, whilst it enabled us to supply some omissions, and to correct some errors (unavoidable in so multifarious a work), has afforded us an opportunity of tracing the labours of the learned and ingenious up to the present time; a motive which, we trust, will sufficiently account for and excuse its extension somewhat beyond what we intended, or our subscribers may have expected. Nor are the proprietors of this work afraid to assert, that the engravings which accompany it, possess a striking superiority, both in number and execution, over those which have been given in any similar performance, Vol. i. P. vi.
As we began with the authors professions, we shall progressively advance with a review of the work, which must nevertheless be cursory, from its extent, and the multiplicity of objects which it embraces. We shall then offer our opinion how far the end proposed has been attained.
As it is impossible to follow every article, to examine what is omitted and what is redundant, we shall only observe, that the explanations are, in general, clear and explicit. We remark, indeed, that a large portion of the supplement is filled with additional articles of the three or four first letters, as if, in the early stages, the authors had been less attentive; and we observed, with surprise, that among the omissions were some very common words which even Harris would have supplied. In the remaining part of the supplement, there are still, we think, omissions; and we could point out corrections which would yet be useful. But where is the work in every respect perfect, omnibus numeris absolutum ?' It is certainly no dictionary yet known, each of which, when tolerably conducted, is a work of peculiar labour, and affords, in Scaliger's opinion, a punishunent sufficient for the worst of criines,
• Lexica contexat: nam cætera quid moror? omnes
Pænarum species hic labor unus habet. In this examination, professedly confined to the treatises, we shall occasionally notice also a few of the distinct articles, which, though arranged among those comprising explanations only, yet contain some short disquisition---articles of that equivocal nature in which the two plans just mentioned coincide. The first that occurs to us is on acids ;' and we