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multiplied, but that use and curiosity are here satisfied, and the frame of our language and modes of our combination amply discovered.
Of some forms of composition, such as that by which re is prefixed to note repe tition, and un to signify contrariety or privation, all the examples cannot be accumulated, because the use of these particles, if not wholly arbitrary, is so little limited, that they are hourly affixed to new words as occasion requires, or is imagined to require them.
There is another kind of composition more frequent in our language than perhaps in any other, from which arises to foreigners the greatest difficulty. We modify the signification of many words by a particle subjoined; as to come of, to escape by a fetch; to fall on, to attack; to fall off, to apostatize; to break off, to stop abruptly; to bear out, to justify; to fall in, to comply; to give over, to cease; to set off, to embellish; to set in, to begin a continual tenour; to set out, to begin a course or journey; to take off, to copy; with innumerable expressions of the same kind, of which some appear wildly irregular, being so far distant from the sense of the simple words, that no sagacity will be able to trace the steps by which they arrived at the present use. These I have noted with great care; and though I cannot flatter myself that the collection is complete, I believe I have so far assisted the students of our language, that this kind of phraseology will be no longer insuperable; and the combinations of verbs and particles, by chance omitted, will be easily explained by comparison with those that may be found.
Many words yet stand supported only by the name of Bailey, Ainsworth, Phillips, or the contracted Dict. for Dictionaries subjoined; of these I am not always certain that they are read in any book but the works of lexicographers. Of such I have ömitted many, because I had never read thenı; and many I have inserted, because they may perhaps exist, though they have escaped my notice : they are, however, to be yet considered as resting only upon the credit of fornier dictionaries. Others, which I considered as useful, or know to be proper, though I could not at present support them by authorities, I have suffered to stand upon my'own attestation, claiming the same privilege with my predecessors, of being sometimes credited without proof.
The words thus selected and disposed, are grammatically considered; they are referred to the different parts of speech : traced, when they are irregularly inflected, through their various terminations; and illustrated by observations, not indeed of great or striking importance, separately considered, but necessary to the elucidation of our language, and hitherto neglected or forgotten by English grammarians.
That part of my work on which I expect malignity most frequently to fasten is the Explanation; in which I cannot hope to satisfy those, who are perhaps not inclined to be pleased, since I have not always been able to satisfy myself. To interpret a language by itself is very difficult; many words cannot be explained by synonimes, because the idea signified by them has not more than one appellation ; Bor by paraphrase, because simple ideas cannot be described. When the nature of things is unknown, or the notion unsettled and indefinite, and various in various minds, the words by which such notions are conveyed, or such things denoted, will be ambiguous and perplexed. And such is the fate of hapless lexicography,
that not only darkness, but light, impedes and distresses it; things may be not only too little, but too much known, to be happily illustrated. To explain, requires the use of terms less abstruse than that which is to be explained, and such terms cannot always be found; for as nothing can be proved but by supposing something intuitively known, and evident without proof, so nothing can be defined but by the use of words too plain to admit a definition.
Other words there are, of which the sense is too subtle and evanescent to be fixed in a paraphrase; such are all those which are by the grammarians termed expletives, and, in dead languages, are suffered to pass for empty sounds, of no other use than to fill a verse, or to, modulate a period, but which are easily perceived in living tongues to have power and emphasis, though it be sometimes such as no other form of expression can convey. .
My labour has likewise been much increased by a class of verbs too frequent in the English language, of which the signification is so loose and general, the use so vague and indeterminate, and the senses detorted so widely from the first idea, that it is hard to trace them through the maze of variation, to catch them on the brink of utter inanity, to circumscribe them by any limitations, or interpret them by any words of distinct and settled meaning ; such are bear, break, come, cast, fall, get, gire, do, put, set, go, run, make, take, turn, throw. If of these the whole power is not accurately delivered, it must be remembered, that while our language is yet living, and variable by the caprice of every one that speaks it, these words are hourly shifting their relations, and can no more be ascertained in a dictionary, than a grove, in the agitation of a storm, can be accurately delineated from its picture in the water.
The particles are aniong all nations applied with so great latitude, that they are not easily reducible under any regular scheme of explication ; this difficulty is not less, nor perhaps greater, in English, than in other languages. I have laboured them with diligence, I hope with success; such at least as can be expected in a task, which no man, however learned or sagacious, has yet been able to perform.
Some words there are which I cannot explain, because I do not understand them these might have been omitted very often with little inconvenience, but I would not so far indulge my vanity as to decline this confession : for when Tully owns himself ignorant whether lesșus, in the twelve tables, means a fumeral song, on mourning garment; and Aristotle doubts whether ouçeus, in the Iliad, signifies mule, or muleteer, I may surely, without shame, leave some obscurities to happie industry, or future information.
The rigour of interpretative lexicography requires that the explanation, and t) word explained, should be always reciprocal; this I have always endeavoured b could not always attain. Words are seldom exactly synonimous; a new term w not introduced, but because the former was thought inadequate : names, therefor have often many ideas, but few ideas have many names. It was then necessa to use the proximate word, for the deficiency of single terms can very seldom supplied by circumlocution ; nor is the inconvenience great of such mutilated terpretations, because the sense may easily be collected entire from the examples
In every word of extensive use, it was requisite to mark the progress of its me ing, and show by what gradations of intermediate sense it has passed from its
mitive to its remote and accidental signification; so that every foregoing explanation should tend to that which follows, and the series be regularly concatenated from the first notion to the last.
This is specious, but not always practicable ; kindred senses may be so interwoven, that the perplexity cannot be disentangled, nor any reason be assigned why one should be ranged before the other. When the radical idea branches out into parallel ramifications, how can a consecutive series be formed of senses in their nature collateral ? The shades of meaning sometimes pass imperceptibly into each other ; so that though on one side they apparently differ, yet it is impossible to mark the point of contact. Ideas of the same race, though not exactly alike, are sometimes so little different, that no words can express the dissimilitude, though the mind easily perceives it, when they are exhibited together; and sometimes there is such a confusion of acceptations, that discernment is wearied, and distinction puzzled, and perseverance herself hurries to an end, by crowding together what she cannot separate.
These complaints of difficulty will, by those that have never considered words beyond their popular use, be thought only the jargon of a man willing to magnify his labours, and procure veneration to his studies by involution and obscurity. But every art is obscure to those that have not learned it: this uncertainty of terms, and commixture of ideas, is well known to those who have joined philosophy with grammar; and if I have not expressed them very clearly, it must be remembered that I am speaking of that which words are insufficient to explain.
The original sense of words is often driven out of use by their metaphorical acceptations, yet must be inserted for the sake of a regular origination. Thus I know not whether ardour is used for material heat, or whether flagrant, in English, ever signifies the same with burning : yet such are the primitive ideas of these words, which are therefore set first, though without examples, that the figurative senses may be commodiously deduced.
Such is the exuberance of signification which many words have obtained, that it was scarcely possible to collect all their senses; sometimes the meaning of derivatives must be sought in the mother term, and sometimes deficient explanations of the primitive may be supplied in the train of derivation. In any case of doubt or difficulty, it will be always proper to examine all the words of the same race ; for some words are slightly passed over to avoid repetition, some admitted easier and clearer explanation than others, and all will be better understood, as they are considered in greater variety of structures and relations.
All the interpretations of words are not written with the same skill, or the same happiness: things equally easy in themselves, are not all equally easy to any single mind. Every writer of a long work commits errours, where there appears neither ambiguity to mislead, nor obscurity to confound him; and, in a search like this, many felicities of expression will be casually overlooked, many convenient parallels will be forgotten, and many particulars will admit improvement from a mind utterly unequal to the whole performance.
But many seeming faults are to be imputed rather to the nature of the undertaking, than the negligence of the performer. Thus some explanations are unavoidably reciprocal or circular, as hind, the female of the stag ; stag, the male of the VOL. I.
hind: sometimes easier words are changed into harder, as burial into sepulture or interment, drier into desiccatite, dryness into siccity or aridity, fit into paroxysm; før the easiest word, whatever it be, can never be translated into one more easy. But casiness and difficulty are merely relative, and if the present prevalence of our language should invite foreigners to this dictionary, many will be assisted by those words which now seem only to increase or produce obscurity. For this reason I have endeavoured frequently to join a Teutonick and Roman interpretation, as to Cheer, to gladden, or exhilarate, that every learner of English may be assisted by his own tongue.
The solution of all difficulties, and the supply of all defects, must be sought in the examples subjoined to the various senses of each word, and ranged according to the time of their authors.
When I first collected these authorities, I was desirous that every quotation should be useful to some other end than the illustration of a word; I therefore extracted from philosophers principles of science; from historians remarkable facts; fron chymists complete processes; from divines striking exhortations; and from poet beautiful descriptions. Such is design, while it is yet at a distance from execution When the time called upon me to range this accumulation of elegance and wisdom in an alphabetical series, I soon discovered that the bulk of my volumes would frig away the student, and was forced to depart from my scheme of including all th was pleasing or useful in English literature, and reduce my transcripts very often clusters of words, in which scarcely any meaning is retained; thus to the weariness copying, I was condemned to add the vexation of expunging. Some passages have yet spared, which may relieve the labour of verbal searches, and interspe with verdure and flowers the dusty desarts of barren philology.
The examples, thus mutilated, are no longer to be considered as conveying sentiments or doctrine of their authors; the word for the sake of which they inserted, with all its appendant clauses, has been carefully preserved; but it sometimes happen, by hasty detruncation, that the general tendency of the sente may be changed: the divine may desert bis tenets, or the philosopher his system
Some of the examples have been taken from writers who were never tioned as masters of elegance or models of style; but words must be sought w they are used; and in what pages, eminent for purity, can terms of manufactu agriculture be found ? Many quotations serve no other purpose, than that of I ing the bare existence of words, and are therefore selected with less scrupulou than those which are to teach their structures and relations.
My purpose was to admit no testimony of living authors, that I might'n misled by partiality, and that none of my contemporaries might have reason to plain; nor have I departed from this resolution, but when some performance o common excellence excited my veneration, when my memory supplied me late books with an example that was wanting, or when my heart, in the tend of friendship, solicited admission for a favourite name.
So far have I been from any care to grace my pages with modern decora that I have studiously endeavoured to collect examples and authorities fro writers before the restoration, whose works I regard as the wells of English uni as the pure sources of genuine diction. Our language, for almost a century
by the concurrence of many causes, been gradually departing from its original Teutonick character, and deviating toward a Gallick structure and phraseology, from which it ought to be our 'endeavour to recal it, by making oar ancient volumes the groundwork of style, admitting among the additions of later times, only such as may supply real deficiencies, such as are readily adopted by the genius of our tongue, and incorporate easily with our native idioms.
But as every language has a time of rudeness antecedent to perfection, as well as of false refinement and declension, I have been cautious lest my zeal for antiquity might drive me into times too remote, and crowd my book with words now no longer understood. I have fixed Sidney's work for the boundary, beyond which I make few excursions. From the authors which rose in the time of Elisabeth, a speech might be formed adequate to all the purposes of use and elegance. If the language of theology were extracted from Hooker and the translation of the Bible ; the terms of natural knowledge from Bacon; the phrases of policy, war, and navigation from Raleigh; the dialect of poetry and fiction from Spenser and Sidney; and the diction of common life from Shakspeare, few ideas would be lost to mankind, for want of English words, in which they might be expressed.
It is not sufficient that a word is found, unless it be so combined as that its meaning is apparently determined by the tract and tenour of the sentence; such passages I have therefore chosen, and when it happened that any author gave a definition of a term, or such an explanation as is equivalent to a definition, I have placed his authority as a supplement to my own, without regard to the chronological order, that is otherwise observed.
Some words, indeed, stand unsupported by any authority, but they are commonly derivative nouns or adverbs, formed from their primitives by regular and constant analogy, or names of things seldom occurring in books, or words of which I have reason to doubt the existence.
There is more danger of censure from the multiplicity than paucity of examples; authorities will sometimes seem to have been accumulated without necessity or use, and perhaps some will be found, which might, without loss, have been omitted. But a work of this kind is not hastily to be charged with superfluities: those quotations, which to careless or unskilful perusers appear only to repeat the same sense, will often exhibit to a more accurate examiner, diversities of signification, or, at least, afford different shades of the same meaning : one will show the word applied to persons, another to things; one will express an ill, another a good, and a third a neutral sense; one will prove the expression genuine from an ancient author; another will show it elegant from a modern : a doubtful authority is corroborated by another of more credit ; an ambiguous sentence is ascertained by a passage clear and determinate ; the word, how often soever repeated, appears with new associates and in different combinations, and every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language.
When words are used equivocally, I receive them in either sense ; when they are metaphorical, I adopt them in their primitive acceptation.
I have sometimes, though rarely, yielded to the temptation of exhibiting a geneslogy of sentiments, by showing how one author copied the thoughts and diction of another : such quotations are indeed little more than repetitions, which miga