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not enjoy it; till I am solitary, and can not impart it; till I am known, and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical asperity not to confess obligations where no benefit has been received, or to be unwilling that the public should consider me as owing that to a patron which Providence has enabled me to do for myself.
Having carried on my work thus far with so little obligation to any favorer of learning, I shall not be disappointed though I should conclude it, if less be possible, with less; for I have been long wakened from that dream of hope in which I once boasted myself with so much exultation,
Most obedient servant,
EXTRACI" _FROM THE PREFACE TO THE DICTIONARY. In hope of giving longevity that which its own nature forbids to be immortal, I have devoted
book, the labor of years, to the honor of my country, that we may philology, without a contest, to the nationlonger yield the palm of chief glory of every people arises from its the Continent. The
unthors: whether I English literature must be left to time. Muchi reputation of been lost under the pressures of disease ; much has my life has
son trified that was passing over me: but I shall not think my en the day useless or ignoble, if, by my assistance, foreign nations anzyment ages gain access to the propagators of knowledge, and und
listant the teachers of truth; if my labors afford light to the repo
stand of science, and add celebrity to Bacon, to Hooker, to Miltories
und to Boyle.
When I am animated by this wish, I look with pleasure o book, however defective, and deliver it to the world with the of a man that has endeavored well. That it will immed become popular, I have not promised to myself. A few blunders and risible absurdities, from which no work of multiplicity was ever free, may for a time furnish folly laughter, and harden ignorance into contempt. But useful d. gence
will at last prevail: and there can never be wanting sc who distinguish desert, who will consider that no dictionary living tongue ever can be perfect, since, while it is hastening publication, some words are budding, and some falling away; a whole life can not be spent upon syntax and etymology, and th even a whole life would not be sufficient ; that he whose desig includes whatever language can express must often speak of what he does not understand ; that a writer will sometimes be hurried by eagerness to the end, and sometimes faint with weariness under a task which Scaliger compares to the labors of the anvil and the mine; that what is obvious is not always known, and what is known is not always present; that sudden fits of inadvertency will surprise vigilance, slight avocations will seduce attention, and casual eclipses of the mind will darken learning; and that the writer shall often in vain trace his memory at the moment of need for that which yesterday he knew with intuitive readiness, and which will come uncalled into his thoughts to-morrow.
In this work, when it shall be found that much is omitted, let it not be forgotten that much, likewise, is performed; and though no book was ever spared out of tenderness to the author, and the world is little solicitous to know whence proceeded the faults of that which it condemns, yet it may gratify curiosity to inform it, that “The English Dictionary” was written with little assistance of the learned, and without any patronage of the great; not in the soft obscurities of retirement, or under the shelter of academic bowers, but amid inconvenience and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow. It may repress the triumph of malignant criticism to observe, that, if our language is not here fully displayed, I have only failed in an attempt which no human powers have hitherto completed. If the lexicons of ancient tongues, now immutably fixed, and comprised in a few volumes, be yet, after the toil of successive ages, inadequate and delusive; if the aggregated
knowledge and co-operating diligence of the Italian academicians en
did not secure them from the censure of Beni; if the embodied and
critics of France, when fifty years had been spent upon their uno work, were obliged to change its economy, and give their second repy edition another form, -I may surely be contented without the Milto praise of perfection, which if I could obtain in this gloom of
olitude, what would it avail me? I have protracted my work till isure Onost of those whom I wished to please have sunk into the grave;
ind success and miscarriage are empty sounds. I therefore dismiss it with frigid tranquillity, having little to fear or hope from ensure or from praise.
h the mmed A few rk of folly useful
THE VOYAGE OF LIFE. ating SC" LIFE,” says Seneca, “is a voyage, in the progress of which we
re perpetually changing our scenes : we first leave childhood stening hind us, then youth, then the years of ripened manhood, then
better and more pleasing part of old age.” The perusal of passage having incited in me a train of reflections on the
man, the incessant fluctuation of his wishes, the gradual
way; tf 1, and the
change of his disposition to all external objects, and the thoughtlessness with which he floats along the Stream of Time, I sank into a slumber amidst my meditations, and on a sudden found my ears filled with the tumult of labor, the shouts of alacrity, the shrieks of alarm, the whistle of winds, and the dash of waters.
My astonishment for a time repressed my curiosity; but soon recovering myself so far as to inquire whither we were going, and what was the cause of such clamor and confusion, I was told that they were launching out into the Ocean of Life; that we had already passed the Straits of Infancy, in which multitudes had perished, some by the weakness and fragility of their vessels, and more by the folly, perverseness, or negligence of those who undertook to steer them; and that we were now on the main sea, abandoned to the winds and billows, without any other means of security than the care of the pilot, whom it was always in our power to choose among great numbers that offered their direction and assistance.
I then looked round with anxious eagerness, and, first turning my eyes
behind me, saw a stream fowing through flowery islands, which every one that sailed along seemed to behold with pleasure, but no sooner touched, than the current, which, though not noisy or turbulent, was yet irresistible, bore him away. Beyond these islands, all was darkness; nor could any of the passengers describe the shore at which he first embarked.
Before me, and on each side, was an expanse of waters violently agitated, and covered with so thick a mist, that the most perspicacious eye could see but a little way. It appeared to be full of rocks and whirlpools; for many sank unexpectedly while they were courting the gale with full sails, and insulting those whom they had left behind. So numerous, indeed, were the dangers, and so thick the darkness, that no caution could confer security. Yet there were many, who, by false intelligence, betrayed their followers into whirlpools, or, by violence, pushed those whom they found in their way against the rocks.
The current was invariable and insurmountable ; but though it was impossible to sail against it, or to return to the place that was once passed, yet it was not so violent as to allow no opportunities for dexterity or courage, since, though none could retreat back from danger, yet they might often avoid it by oblique direction.
It was, however, not very common to steer with much care or prudence; for, by some universal infatuation, every man appeared to think himself safe, though he saw his consorts every moment sinking round him: and no sooner had the waves closed over them than their fate and misconduct were forgotten ; the voyage was pursued with the same jocund confidence; every man congratulated himself upon the soundness of his vessel, and believed himself able to stem the whirlpool in which his friend was swallowed, or glide over the rocks on which he was dashed. Nor was it often observed that the sight of a wreck made any man change his course : if he turned aside for a moment, he soon forgot the rudder, and left himself again to the disposal of chance.
This negligence did not proceed from indifference, or from weariness of their present condition: for not one of those who thus rushed upon destruction failed, when he was sinking, to call loudly upon his associates for that help which could not now be given him; and many spent their last moments in cautioning others against the folly by which they were intercepted in the midst of their course. Their benevolence was sometimes praised ; but their admonitions were unregarded.
The vessels in which we had embarked, being confessedly unequal to the turbulence of the Stream of Life, were visibly impaired in the course of the voyage; so that every passenger was certain, that how long soever he might, by favorable accidents or by incessant vigilance, be preserved, he must sink at last.
This necessity of perishing might have been expected to sadden the gay, and intimidate the daring, at least to keep the melancholy and timorous in perpetual torments, and hinder them from any enjoyment of the varieties and gratifications which Nature offered them as the solace of their labor. Yet, in effect, none seemed less to expect destruction than those to whom it was most dreadful: they all had the art of concealing their dangers from themselves; and those who knew their inability to bear the sight of the terrors that embarrassed their way took care never to look forward, but found some amusement for the present moment, and generally entertained themselves by playing with Hope, who was the constant associate of the Voyage of Life.
Yet all that Hope ventured to promise, even to those whom she favored most, was, not that they should escape, but that they should sink last; and with this promise every one was satisfied, though he laughed at the rest for seeming to believe it. Hope, indeed, apparently mocked the credulity of her companions; for, in proportion as their vessels grew leaky, she redoubled' her assurances of safety: and none were more busy in making provisions for a long voyage than they whom all but themselves saw likely to perish soon by irreparable decay.
In the midst of the Current of Life was the Gulf of Intemperance, — a dreadful whirlpool, interspersed with rocks, of which the pointed crags were concealed under water, and the tops covered
with herbage on which Ease spread couches of repose, and with shades where Pleasure warbled the song of invitation. Within sight of these rocks all who sailed on the Ocean of Life must necessarily pass. Reason, indeed, was always at hand to steer the passengers through a narrow outlet by which they might escape: but very few could, by her entreaties or remonstrances, be induced to put the rudder into her hand without stipulating that she should approach so near unto the rocks of Pleasure, that they might solace themselves with a short enjoyment of that delicious region; after which they always determined to pursue their course without any other deviation.
Reason was too often prevailed upon so far by these promises as to venture her charge within the eddy of the Gulf of Intemperance, where, indeed, the circumvolution was weak, but yet interrupted the course of the vessel, and drew it by insensible rotations towards the center. She then repented her temerity, and, with all her force, endeavored to retreat: but the draught of the gulf was generally too strong to be overcome; and the passenger, having danced in circles with a pleasing and giddy velocity, was at last overwhelmed and lost. Those few whom Reason was able to extricate, generally suffered so many shocks upon the points which shot out from the rocks of Pleasure, that they were unable to continue their course with the same strength and facility as before, but floated along timorously and feebly, endangered by every breeze, and shattered by every ruffle of the water, till they sank by slow degrees, after long struggles and innumerable expedients, always repining at their own folls, and warning others against the first approach to the Gulf of Intemperance.
There were artists who professed to repair the breaches and stop the leaks of the vessels which had been shattered on the rocks of Pleasure. Many appeared to have great confidence in their skill; and some, indeed, were preserved by it from sinking, who had received only a single blow: but I remarked that few vessels lasted long which had been much repaired; nor was it found that the artists themselves continued afloat longer than those who had least of their assistance.
The only advantage, which, in the Voyage of Life, the cautious had above the negligent, was that they sank later and more suddenly; for they passed forward till they had sometimes seen all those in whose company they had issued from the Straits of Infancy perish in the way, and at last were overset by a crossbreeze, without the toil of resistance or the anguish of expectation. But such as had often fallen against the rocks of Pleasure commonly subsided by sensible degrees, contended long with the encroaching waters, and harassed themselves by labors that scarce Hope herself could flatter with success.