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eisions of lexicographers; for which reason the compilers of dictionaries should not be “ dabblers in etymology,” as many of them have been ; but men of deep research, and of accurate ilological knowledge. Compilers of this character, instead of transcribing and sanctioning the errors of writers, who had no authority but the errors of their predecessors, who have immemorially copied the same mistakes, would gradually acquire a dominion, over practice, subdue its anomalies, and improve the language. The Reviewers remark, that in speaking of pronunciation, I have assed no censure on the accenchuation and grachulation of Walker, nor on the furnichur and multichood of Sheridan, which they condemn. But the Gemlemen misapprehend my motive in making a comparison between Sheridan, Walker and Jones, in the class of words to which they reser. It was not for the purpose of censuring either; but to exhibit the diversities of practice and opinion among standard authors. I can however assure the Reviewers, that in the instances mentioned, as in many other words, I do heartily agree with them in giving the preference to Jones. In respect to the pronunciation of words, the Reviewers concur with my criticisms, in some instances, and dissent from them in others. The next club of Reviewers will probably give a directly contrary opinion. The fact is, no country, city, village or private club can be found in which all the individuals can agree upon the pronunciation of certain words. All men prefer the pronunciation to which they have been accustoned. The preference is determined by habit, rather than by principle ; except in young men ambitious of fame, who seek to imitate the pronunciation of some popular speaker, upon the stage or at the bar. But the lexicographer should not be misled by his habits, nor biassed by the caprices of eminent men. The lexicographer who attempts to change the common pronunciation of words, upon the authority of a distinguished player, or a “great luminary of the law,” preeludes the possibility of uniformi
* See Walker, under the word record.
ty in national practice. This eager, 1:ess to give books a currency by imitating particular men of popular fame, tends to unsettle established usages, and keep the language in perpetual fluctuation. The effort of the Reviewers to vindicate the English practice of giving to a its long sound in angel, ancient, which is also the practice in some of these states, is beyond measure feeble. What, “a strong accent” give to a its long sound, in ange", ancient, and not in angle, anguish, annual, ang"y, anchor, anecdote, o'c. / Surely the Gentlemen cannot be serious. It is far better to admit the real fact at once, that the practice is a departure from the original sound of the letter, in Greek and Latin, and from the analogies of other English words. Let me add that the Americans do not pronounce a in angel, ancient, as they do in command. In the criticism upon the orthography of though the Reviewers may be correct ; and this is the only point in which their strictures wear to me an appearance of correctness. I had well weighed the facts which they have suggested. The original orthography, theah, then, thoth, I had exan:ined, and carefully considered the primitive guttural sound of h. Still I am not satisfied with Mr. H. Tooke's opinion that theah, and thof are from the same root. Thof is certainly the imperative of thaftan, to allow ; but I have a strong suspicion that theah is from the same root as the Latin do, dare to give—in the imperative da or tha, which we see in the Celtic daigham. But I prefer the orthography, tho, as it gives the pronunciation, without obscuring the etymology, and makes an obvious distinction to the eye, between though and through. On the subject of a repugnance among the learned to a reformation of orthography, I wish to be indulged in a few general remarks. 1st, My own attempts go no further than a correction of obvious errors and inconsistencies. 2d. Philosophical precision in orthography is sound in no modern language, nor is it necessary. 3d. The material anomalies in the orthography of the English language might be corrected without any new characters; without rendering any book useless, and without occasioning any difficulty to elderly people. The schemes of Sir Thomas Smith, Dr. Gill, Dr. Franklin and
others which have been offered, cre-
ate difficulties which are needless, and which must forever prevent their success. If any general effort were to be made to effect the object, I could present a scheme, for the purpose, of far greater simplicity. 4th. The friends of English literature have a deep interest in reforming the orthography of the language, for its irregularities are among the greatest obstacles to the diffusion of it in foreign countries. This circumstance has had a material influence in retarding the study of English among foreigners, and giving a preference to the French. The French is far inferior to the English, in copiousness and strength ; indeed the French is inserior to most languages in Europe. Yet the French nation have had the address to spread the knowledge of their language, so that it is, in a manner, a conmon medium of intercourse in Europe, and in some parts of Asia. Few men seem to have observed the connexion of this extension of the French language with the political views of the French government, and
its influence upon the manners and
morals of other nations. The
French language is unquestionably one of the principal instruments of extending the influence of the nation from the Ganges to the wilds of America. The natives of France are spread over the habitable
globe. Not a country, city, or town, and scarcely a village can be named, in which we may not find Frenchmen, who, either in the characters of ministers, consuls, merchants, travellers,
refugees, teachers of their language, painters, dancing masters, fencing; masters, music masters, or barbers, are spreading a knowledge of their language, introducing frivolous amusements and levity of manners, or securing political attachments with a view to some national advantage. In no country can the French government want influence, where a party of friends is not previously secured to
their hands; and the late events in
Europe demonstrate that the general diffusion of the French language has been the pioneer to their arms. Yet . with all these lessons of experience, the English, whose very existence is menaced by the power of France, are so little sensible of the policy by which her influence and dominions have been extended, that they cannot establish a college even in India, without attaching to it French professors. The people of the United States fall into the same current of fashionable, error; and our sons and daughters are taught to believe, that a knowledge of the French language, like French cotillions, is essential as a polite accomplishment. Little as men are accustomed to reflect upon the remote or primary causes of great revolutions, we may be assured that the French language has been a principal instrument by which the government has divided the citizens, and vanquished the arries, of the neighbouring states; while it has propagated the most licentious manners, and the most detestable system of political principles. To pave the way for this extension of their language, the French had the policy to refine and improve it, by purifying its orthography, and reducing it to a good degree of regularity. In short, they first removed the chief obstacles to the easy acquisition of their language by foreigners ; and without this previous measure, their efforts would have been unavailing. The English pursue a different line of conduct; and with a far more excellent language ; with more extensive colonial establishments ; with an unlimited commerce, and all the motives to extend their influence, which any nation can have, they take incredible pains to retain in their language, the anomalies which offer almost insurmountable obstacles to its progress among foreigners. Every suggestion of a reformation is repelled by the dogmas of Dr. Johnson, or other writers, that “change is inconvenient, even from worse to better, and that there is in constancy and stability a general and lasting advantage, which overbalances the slow improvements of gradual correction.” These positions, with
the only ground of right or propriety. They are true as they regard the formation of language, and the words used as symbols of ideas. But when oral languages are formed, and characters have acquired a particular sound or use, it is no longer a matter of indifference which characters are used for particular sounds. In this case also the convenience is on the side of change. The amount of all the trouble attending a reformation would not equal the inconveniences, which are encountered every month in teaching an anomalous language. In short, the principles, as laid down and perpetually repeated by men of letters, if they had been adhered to in ractice, would have interrupted all mprovement, and chained men to the condition of savages. The true principle to be settled in every question of change, is, whether the advantages overbalance the inconvenience; and on this question, in this case, there can be no doubts. In regard to the propagation of principles of freedom, the arts, sciences, and manufactures ; in regard to everything which exalts mankind and tends to diffuse the blessings of civilized society ; the improvement of our language deserves the united efforts of the learned, and the encouragement of government. Further, the friends of the Christian religion have an interest of vast moment in the improvement of our language, as an instrument of propagating the gospel. The colonial establishments of the Emrish, and the missions for preaching the gospel, in the remotest parts of the earth present to the friends of religion, science and civilization, a most animating prospect. In Asia, Africa, and the South Seas, the English are laying the foundation of enpires, which shall consist of their descendants; but the diffusion of their language among foreigners will be greatly retarded by the difficulty of learning it ; an obstacle which
might be removed with less effort of a few distinguished characters, than is necessary to carry into effect the object of a single missionary society. A language, in which a large part of its words are so written, that the characters are no certain guides to the pronunciation, a language which may be called a compound of alphabetical writing with hieroglyphics, can never make its way extensively among foreigners. I will only remark further, that the opposition to a correction of our orthography is confined, in this coun
try, to the learned. The great body
of the people are so much perplexed with the difficulties of learning to spell, that they desire a reformation, and would readily embrace it. They know not from what cause such irregularities originated, and cannot conceive why they are permitted to exist. I have been repeatedly solicited to undertake the task of reformation ; but men of letters, who encourage every other improvement, resist all attempts to improve the orthography of the language—Qua dam imo. virtutes odio sunt. Tacitus. The Reviewers recommend to me, before I execute the etymological part of my undertaking, to study the various dialects of the ancient British language, and name Lhuyd's Archeologia Britannica, as the best elementary work on the subject. I sincerely thank the gentlemen for their advice, and for any assistance which they or other English gentlemen will afford me. But the gentlemen are informed that I have already studied Lhuyd, with diligence, and probably with success, as I have found many of the radical words, not only of Engjish and French, but of the Latin. which had escaped the observation of others. I have also made discoveries calculated to illustrate some points of ancient history. It is my carnest desire to prosecute my designs to a useful conclusion ; but my means are scanty, the labour Herculean, and the discouragements numerous and formidable.
iRebicin of IOtto 19ublicationg,
The Mew Cyclohardia : or Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences : Formed usion a more enlarged filan of arrangement than the Dictionary of Mr. Chambers. Comprehending the various articles of that work, with additions and imfirovements : Together with the new subjects of Biograhhy, Geografihy, and History ; and adahted to the firesent state of literature and science. By Abraham Rees, D. D. F. r. s. Editor of the last edition of Mr. Chambers’ Dictionary. With the assistance of eminent, shrofessional gentlemen. Illustrated with new filates, including mafis, engraved for the work by some of the most distinguished artists. First American edition, revised, corrected, enlarged, and adafited to this country, by several literary and scientific characters. Philadelphia. Samuel F. Bradford. Wol. I. Part I.
A Cyclopaedia professes to give a brief, though, in a great measure, a satisfactory account, not only of the Arts and Sciences, properly so called, but also of those branches of knowledge, which derive most of their importance from daily use. Indeed the advantage most expected and desired, by subscribers in general, is that which results from having within their reach a manual, by which they may satisfy their curiosity, correct their mistakes, and, upon a hasty reference, gain that information, which may be immediately useful. The adept in science, and the accomplished scholar, while prosecuting their studies, have recourse rather to the original treatises, in which most of the advances in science, and inventions in arts, are made known to the world. The UN1 v ER's AL Diction ARY may more properly be compared to a vast magazine, filled by the industry of man, and containing supplies for ordinary wants, and materials for future labour, than to a magnificent palace, or a solemn temple. To such a work as this of Dr. Rees, the artisan, the navigator, the merchant, the traveller, and the agriculturist, as well as those who are engaged in the learned professions, recur for the acquisition of that general knowledge, which few, if any private libraries contain, and which every main of extensive views must, at some period, find necessary. Hence the first publication of an Encyclopaedia was hailed by
the scientific part of mankind, as an improvement of high and distinguished importance to the cause of learning. That one compilation cannot contain all that has been written, nor even all that has been well written on every subject, is sufficiently obvious. It is necessary, that the scientific heads should be treated with peculiar caution and ability. A small mistake in a chain of arguments, in a demonstration, or in an experimental process, may terminate in absurdity. Clearness m every thing, intended for instruction, is an indispensable requisite ; and this indeed is an excellence, in which the copier and abridger may be supposed to surpass the author and inventor. The author himself, having a clear conception of his own ideas, naturally imagines that he communicates, them clearly to others, which is not always the fact, but the copyist, who in this respect stands in the place of the reader, and perceives his obscurities of style, or ambiguities of expression, may easily correct them. i = * The articles of biography are of primary importance. This species of writing is the most useful branch of history... The biographer, ought- therefore to possess ... the qualities, which constitute a good historian, but especially a fixed and inflexible regard to truth ; and uniformly to reject, every thing, which savours of sectorian bigotry, or the animosity of party. ... But above all, the Lditors of a Cyclopaedia ought to be careful, as friends to their fellow men, and servants of their Maker, to admit nothing, which will natur
the rising generation, may be materially influenced. Let us not be misunderstood to approve of that species of cant, by which religion is irreverently dragged into every paragraph, however incoherently, and unnecessarily, and the same hackneyed observations are repeated on a thousand different occasions, where they neither elucidate, nor enforce ; where they give neither strength to argument, nor animation to piety. Let Christians profit by the plans, and the diligence of infidels. It is well known, that the enemies of revelation during the last half century have employed all their ingenuity and strength in every species of publication, to infuse and spread their malignant theories through the world : and that in Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias, they have found an ample field for their purpose. No walk of literature has been secure from their open assaults, or insidious ambuscades. It is therefore of peculiar importance, that the friends of truth away the weapons, which Providence may put into
their hands, and that they be