Imágenes de páginas

ferent from that which the Components have in their fimple State. Thus Highwayman, Woodman, and Horsecourser require an Explication ; but of Thieflike or Coachdriver no Notice was needed, because the Primitives contain the Meaning of the Compounds.

Words arbitrarily formed by a constant and settled Analovy, like diminutive Adjectives in ish, as greenish, bluejh, Adverbs in ly, as dully, openly ; Subftantives in ness; as Vileness, Fauitiness, were less diligently sought ; and many sometimes have been omitted, when I had no Authority that invited me to insert them ; not that they are not genuine and regular Offsprings of English Roots, but because their Relation to the Primitive being always the same, their Signification cannot be mistaken.

The verbal Nouns in ing, such as the Keeping of the Calle, the Leading of the Army, are always neglected, or placed only to illustrate the Sense of the Verb, except when they signify Things as well as Actions, and have therefore a plural Number, 26 Dwelling, Living ; or have an absolute and abstract Signification, as Colouring, Painting, Learning.

The Participles are likewise omitted, unless, by signifying rather Qualities than Action, they take the Nature of Adjectives ; as, a thinking Man, a Man of Prudence; a pacing Horse, a Horse that can pace : These I have ventured to call participial Adjectives. But neither are these always inserted, because they are commonly to be understood, without any Danger of Mistake, by consulting the Verb.

Obsolete Words are admitted, or when they have found in Authours not obsolete, or when they have any Force or Beauty that may deserve Revival.

As Composition is one of the chief Character. isticks of a Language, I have endeavoured to make some Reparation for the universal Negligence of my Predeceffors, by inserting great Numbers of comVol. II.


pounded Words, as may be found under after, fort, new, night, fair, and many more. These, numerous as they are, might be 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 Repetition, 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 free quent in our Language than perhaps in any other, from which arises to Foreigners the greatest Difficulty. We modify the Signification of many Verbs by a Particle subjoined ; as, to come off, to escape by a Fetch ; to fall on, to attack; to fall off, to apoftatize; 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 cut, to begin a Course or Journey ; to take off, to copy; with innumerable Expressions of the fame Kind; of which fome appear wildly irregular, being fo 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 prefent Use. These l' have noted with great Care; and though I cannot flatter myself that the Collection is complete, I believe I have so far aslifted the Students of our Language, that this kind of Phraseology will be no longer infuperable; 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, Philips, 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 omitted many, because I had never read them; and many I have inserted, because they may perhaps exist, though they have escape my Notice: They are however, to be yet considered as resting only upon the Credit of former Dictionaries. Others, which I considered as useful, or know to be proper, though I could not at present suppport 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 dif. ferent 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 neceffary 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 Synonymes, because the Idea fignified by them has not more than one Appellation ; nor by Paraphrafe, 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 diftreffes 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 fomething intuitively known and evident without Proof, fo 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 Paraphrafe ; fuch 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 Clas 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 a 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, caft, full, get, give, do, put, jet, 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 thar speaks it, these Words are hourly shifting their Pelations, 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, among all Nations, applied with so great Lattitude, that they are not easily re

ducible dacible 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 lefus, in the Twelve Tables, means a funeral Song, or mourning Garment; and Aristotle doubts whether oupeus, in the liad, signifies a Mule, or Mulcteer, I may freely, without Shame, leave some Obscurities to happier Industry, or future Information,

The Rigour of interpretative Lexicography requires that the Explanation, and the Word explained, frould be always reciprocal; this I have always endeavoured, but could not always attain. Words are feldom exactly synonymous ; a new Term was not introduced, but because the former was thought inadequate : Names, therefore, have often many Ideas, but few Ideas have many Names. It was then neceffary to use the proximate Word, for the Deficiency of single Terms can very feldom be supplied by Circumlocution ; nor is the Inconvenience great of such mutilated Interpretations, because the Sense may eafily be collected entire from the Examples.

In every Word of extensive Use it was requisite to make the Progress of its Meaning, and show by what Gradations of intermediate Sense it has passed from its primitive, 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. F 3


« AnteriorContinuar »