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readily given to propriety, and I have often endeavoured to direct the choice.
Thus have I laboured by settling the orthography, displaying the analogy, regulating the structures, and ascertaining the signification of English words, to perform all the parts of a faithful lexicographer: but I have not always executed my own scheme, or fatisfied my own expectations. The work, whatever proofs of diligence and attention it may exhibit; is yet capable of many improvements : the orthography which I recommend is still contro. vertible; the etymology which I adopt is uncertain, and perhaps frequently erroneous ; the explanations are sometimes too much contracted, and sometimes too much diffused, the significations are distinguished rather with subtilty than skill, and the attention is harassed with unnecessary minuteness. . • The examples are too often injudiciously truncated, and perhaps sometimes, I hope very rarely, alleged in a mistaken sense ; for in making this collection I trusted more to memory, than, in a state of disquiet and embarrassment, memory can contain, and purposed to supply at the review what was left incomplete in the first transcription.
Many terms appropriated to particular Oc1,113,. tions, though necessary and significant, are undoubt edly omitted; and of the words most studiously conkidered and exemplified, many senses have escaped obfervation.
Yet these failures, however frequent, tray anterie extenuation and apology. To bare arritur much is always laudable, even wi.cn is: 5,21,676
is above the strength that undertakes it : To ret below his own aim is incident to every one whuic fancy is active, and whose views are comprehentive; nor is any man satisfied with himself becauic l.c has done much, but because he can conceive lise. When first I engaged in this work, I refolvej 3 leave neither words nor things unexainined, a: 1 pleated myfelf with a prospect of the hours whics I should revel away in feasts of literature, the obicure receffes of northern learning which I should care: and ransack, the treasures with which I expecsaj every search into those neglected mines to rewari my labour, and the triumph with which I shoul] display my acquisitions to mankind. When I 121 thus enquired into the original of words, I refsivei to show likewise my attention to things; to piere deep into every science, to enquire the nature of every substance of which I interted the nanie, to limit every idea by a definition strictly logical, arcu exhibit every production of art or nature in an ai. curate description, that my book might be in place of all other dictionaries whether appellative or techni. cal. But these were the dreams of a poct dova.cd at last to wake a lexicographer. I foon found that it is too late to look for instruments, when the work calls for execution, and that whatever abilities I had brought to my task, with those I must finally perform it. To deliberate whenever I doubted, to enquire whenever I was ignorant, would have protracted the undertaking without end, and, perhaps, without much improvement, for I did not find by my first experiments, that what I had not of my own
was easily to be obtained : I saw that one enquiry only gave occasion to another, that book referred to book, that to search was not always to find, and to find was not always to b· informed ; and that thus to pursue perfection, was, like the first inhabitants of Arcadia, to chase the sun, which, when they had reached the hill where he seemed to rest, was still be held at the same distance from them.
I then contracted my design, determining to confide in myself, and no longer to solicit auxiliaries, which produced more incumbrance than assistance; by this I obtained at least one advantage, that I set. limits to my work, which would in time be ended, though not completed.
Despondency has never so far prevailed as to depress me to negligence; some faults will at last appear to be the effects of anxious diligence and persevering activity. The nice and subtle ramifications of meaning were not easily avoided by a mind intent upon accuracy, and convinced of the necessity of difentangling combinations, and separating similitudes. Many of the distinctions which to common readers appear useless and idle, will be found real and important by men verled in the school philosophy, without which no dictionary can ever be accurately compiled, or skilfully examined.
Some senses however there are, which, though not the same, are yet so nearly allied, that they are often confounded. Most men think indistinctly, and therefore cannot speak with exactness; and confequently some examples might be indifferently put to either signification : this uncertainty is not to be imputed to me, who do not form, but register the
language; who do not teach men how they should · think, but relate how they have hitherto exprefied their thoughts.
The imperfect sense of some examples I lamented, but could not remedy, and hope they will be compensated by innumerable passages selected with propriety, and preserved with exactness; some shining with fparks of imagination, and some replete with treasures of wisdom.
The orthography and etymology, though impere fect, are not imperfect for want of care, but because care will not always be successful, and recollection or information come too late for use.
That many terms of art and manufacture are omitred, must be frankly acknowledged; but for this dcfect I may boldly allege that it was unayoidable: I could not visit caverns to learn the miner's language, nor take a voyage to perfect my skill in the dialect of navigation, nor visit the warehouses of merchants, and shops of artificers, to gain the names of wares, tools and operations, of which no mention is found in books; what favourable acci. dent, or casy enquiry brought within my reach, has not been neglected; but it has been a hopeless labour to glean up words, by courting living information, and contesting with the sullenness of one, and the roughness of another.
To furnish the academicians della Crusca with words of this kind, a series of comedies called la Fiera, or the Fair, was professedly written by Buonaroti; but I had no such assistant, and therefore was content to want what they must have wanted likewise, had they not luckily been so supplied.
Nor are all words which are not found in the vocabulary, to be lamented as omissions. Of the laborious and mercantile part of the people, the diction is in a great measure casual and mutable; many of their terms are formed for some temporary or local convenience, and though current at certain times and places, are in others utterly unknown. This fugitive cant, which is always in a state of increase or decay, cannot be regarded as any part of the durable materials of a language, and therefore must be suffered to perish with other things unworthy of preservation.
Care will sometimes betray to the appearance of negligence. He that is catching opportunities which feldom occur, will suffer those to pass by unregarded, which he expects hourly to return; he that is searching for rare and remote things, will neglect. those that are obvious and familiar: thus many of the most common and cursory words have been inserted with little illustration, because in gathering the authorities, I forbore to copy those which I thought likely to occur whenever they were wanted. It is remarkable that, in reviewing my collection, I found the word fea unexemplified.
Thus it happens, that in things difficult there is danger from ignorance, and in things easy from confidence; the mind, afraid of greatness, and disdainful of littleness, hastily withdraws herself from painful searches, and passes with scornful rapidity over tasks not adequate to her powers, sometimes too secure for caution, and again too anxious for vigorous effort; sometimes idle in a plain path, and