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expect at least to be mentioned with honour by me, whom they have freed from the greatest part of a very laborious work, and on whom they have imposed, at worst, only the easy task of rejecting superfluities.

By tracing in this manner every word to its original, and not admitting, but with great caution, any of which no original can be found, we shall secure our language from being over-run with cant, from being crowded with low terms, the spawn of folly or affectation, which arise from no just prin. ciples of speech, and of which therefore no legitimate derivation can be shewn.

When the etymology is thus adjusted, the analogy of our language is next to be considered; when we have discovered whence our words are derived, we are to examine by what rules they are governed, and how they are inflected through their various terminations. The terminations of the English are few, but those few have hitherto remained unregarded by the writers of our dictionaries. Our substantives are declined only bytheplural termination, ouradjectives admit no variation but in the degrees of comparison, and our verbs are conjugated by auxiliary words, and are only changed in the pretertense.

To our language may be with great justness applied the observation of Quintilian, that speech was not formed by an analogy sent from heaven. It did not descend to us in a state of uniformity and perfection, but was produced by necessity, and enlarged by accident, and is therefore composed of dissimilar parts, thrown together by negli. gence, by affectation, by learning, or by ignorance. Our inflections therefore are by no means constant, but admit of numberless irregularities, which in this Dictionary will be diligently noted. Thus fox makes in the plural foxes, but ox makes oxen. Sheep is the same in both numbers. Adjectives are sometimes compared by changing the last syllable, as proud, prouder, proudest ; and sometimes by particles prefixed, as, ambitious, more ambitious, most ambitious. The forms of our verbs are sub. ject to great variety; some end their preter tense in ed, as I love, I loved, I have loved; which

may be called the regular form, and is followed by most of our verbs of southern original. But many depart from this rule, without agreeing in any other; as I shake, I shook, I have shaken, or shook, as it is sometimes written in poetry; I make, I made, I have

I made; I bring, I brought; I wring, I wrung; and many others, which, as they cannot be reduced to rules, must be learned from the dictionary rather than the grammar.

The verbs are likewise to be distinguished according to their qualities, as actives from neuters; the neglect of which has already introduced some barbarities in our conversation, which if not obviated by just animadversions, may in time creep into our writings.

Thus, my Lord, will our language be laid down, distinct in its minutest subdivisions, and resolved into its elemental principles. And who upon this survey can forbear to wish, that these fundamental atoms of our speech might obtain the firmness and immutability of the primogenial and constituent particles of matter, that they might retain their

VOL, II.

substance while they alter their appearance, and be varied and compounded, yet not destroyed.

But this is a privilege which words are scarcely to expect: for, like their author, when they are not gaining strength, they are generally losing it. Though art may sometimes prolong their duration, it will rarely give them perpetuity; and their changes will be almost always informing us, that language is the work of man, of a being from whom permanence and stability cannot be derived.

Words having been hitherto considered as separate and unconnected, are now to be likewise examined as they are ranged in their various relations to others by the rules of syntax or construction, to which I do not know that any regard has been yet shewn in English dictionaries, and in which the grammarians can give little assistance. The syntax of this language is too inconstant to be reduced to rules, and can be only learned by the distinct consideration of particular words as they are used by the best authors. Thus, we say, according to the present modes of speech, The soldier died of his wounds, and the sailor perished with hunger: and every man acquainted with our language would be offended by a change of these particles, which yet seem originally assigned by chance, there being no reason to be drawn from grammar why a man may not, with equal propriety, be said to die with a wound, or perish of hunger.

Our syntax therefore is not to be taught by general rules, but by special precedents; and in examining whether Addison has been with justice accused of a solecism in this passage,

a

The poor inhabitant
Starves in the midst of nature's bounty curst,
And iu the loaden vineyard dies for thirst,

a

it is not in our power to have recourse to any established laws of speech; but we must remark how the writers of former ages have used the same word, and consider whether he can be acquitted of impropriety, upon the testimony of Davies, given in luis favour by a similar passage.

She loaths the wat'ry glass wherein she gaz'd,

And shups it still, although for thirst she dye. When the construction of a word is explained, it is necessary to pursue it through its train of phrase. ology, through those forms where it is used in a manner peculiar to our language, or in senses not to be comprised in the general explanations; as from the verb make arise these phrases, to make love, to make an end, to make way; as, he made way for his followers, the ship made way before the wind; to make a bed, to make merry, to make a mock, to make presents, to make a doubt, to make out an assertion, to make good a breach, to make good a cause, to make nothing of an attempt, to make lamentation, to make a merit, and many others which will occur in reading with that view, and which only their frequency hinders from being generally remarked.

The great labour is yet to come, the labour of interpreting these words and phrases with brevity, fulness, and perspicuity; a task of which the extent and intricacy is sufficiently shewn by the miscarriage of those who have generally attempted it. This

difficulty is increased by the necessity of explaining the words in the same language; for there is often only one word for one idea; and though it be easy to translate the words bright, sweet, salt, bitter, into another language, it is not easy to explain them.

With regard to the interpretation, many other questions have required consideration. It was some time doubted whether it be necessary to explain the things implied by particular words; as under the term baronet, whether, instead of this explanation, a title of honour next in degree to that of baron, it would be better to mention more particularly the creation, privileges,'and rank of baronets; and whether, under the word barometer, instead of being satisfied with observing that it is an instrument to discover the weight of the air, it would be fit to spend a a few lines upon its invention, construction, and principles. It is not to be expected, that with the explanation of the one the herald should be satisfied, or the philosopher with that of the other; but since it will be required by common readers, that the explications should be sufficient for common use; and since, without some attention to such demands, the Dictionary cannot become generally valuable, I have determined to consult the best writers for explanations real as well as verbal; and perhaps I may at last have reason to say, after one of the augmenters of Furetier, that my book is more learned than its author.

In explaining the general and popular language, it seems necessary to sort the several senses of each word, and to exhibit first its natural and primitive signification; as,

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