Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

distes ; et la persécution compte sur un succés, quand elleg trouvé un nom pour designer ses victimes*..

Lest we should impart some of the weariness occasioned by this heavy subject to our readers, we must now glance rapidly at the labours of British Encyclopedists since the time of Chambers ; passing over the productions of Owen, Proctor, Castieau, Hall, Howard, and Kendal, with a mere notice of their names; the only one of which that we do not feel desi. rous to forget, is Owen. We must however mention, with commendation, the Dictionary of Arts and Sciences' published in 1766, by Crowder, in 3 vols. 4to. The editors were, Rev. J. Scott, Trinity College, Cambridge; Mr. Charles Green, of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich ; Mr. James Meader; and Falconer, the unfortunate author of the Shipwreck, This is a truly respectable performance, both as to substance and appearance; the plates are well exécuted ; and those, especially, on which the signs of the zodiac are delineated, are superior to any we have seen in a Dictionary, .

The work just mentioned, however, is far inferior to Chan, bers, who has hitherto had no such formidable rival in Bri. tain, as the “ Encyclopædia Britannica," published at Edin burgh, first we believe in 1768, in 10 vols, 4to, This was also, as far as we have been able to learn, the earliest work that attempted the innovation of incorporating Systems or Treatises with the usual articles "ió the alphabetical arrangement. The third edition of this Encyclopædia, superintended by Dr.

Gleig, was finished in 1800; the whole, including a Supplement of 2 vols., being comprized in twenty quarto volumes. It con.

tains, beside the several matters treated in Chainbers's Dictionary, the additional subjects of Biography, History, and Geography. It is a publication, in many respects, of considerable excellence. It commonly explains the principles and practices in the various sciences and arts, with great perspi, cuity and correctness. Its theology is generally sound; and its politics apparently the result of honest conviction, though often delivered in the intemperate tone which marked most political disquisitions ten years ago. Many of the Treațises it contains were drawn up by some of the most eminent Scotch Professors; those especially which were written by the late Dr. Robison, though composed in the desniltory manner which characterizes all the productions of that distinguished philosopher, starp, a particular value upon the work in which they are found, and render it decidedly superior in all points connected with the płysical sciences to any other En cyclopædia yet published in Britain. We are sorry to add,

* Lacroix sur L'Enseignement.

that the style of the engravings, which is truly execrable, puts it completely out of our power to say that this Dictionary is elegant as well as useful.

The English Encyclopædia' was completed in 10 vols. 4to. in 1803. The names of its conductors are not mentioned; but they are commonly understood to have been Dr. Aikin and .Mr. Houlston. Its general plan is much like that of the Encyclopædia Britannica ; but its execution no where superior, except in the engraving, and the departments of Bio, graphy and Geography. The readers of this publication, however, will not be disgusted with tedious descriptions of obscure 'towns and villages, with minute histories of fabulous heroes and divinities, or with tiresome and uninteresting bio. graphy. The plates possess a striking superiority over those of any preceding Encyclopædia.

Such is the general diffusion of knowledge in this country, and so prevalent is the desire to possess a library in one work, that, beside two General Dictionaries just finished, no less than six others are now in course of publication, all of which experience, as we understand, a considerable share of public encouragement. We shall first advert to the two works iecently completed. * The Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, published under the name of the late Dr. George Gregory, is comprized in two thick quarto volumes. The reader of this work must not expect to find much that is new; and he can hardly be disappointed if he hunt for many things in vain. Biography and the Gazetteer are of course omitted ; and many important par. ticulars are passed over with a culpable slightness. · As, an abridgement of an Encyclopædia, the execution is generally respectable, and the plates are not to be despised.

The British Encyclopædia exhibits the name of Mr. W. Nicholson for its editor. It is comprized in six neąt octavo volumes. The merits and demerits of this publication nearly balance each other. The number of important words omitted, is excessive ; but of those retained, many are ably treated." Some of the treatises are truly admirable ; others are completely the reverse, Biography is introduced, and it is said to be select ;' but we cannot imagine a principle of selection that could warrant the omission of such names in various departments of literature and science, as those of Addison, Ark. wright, Bergman, Brindley, Cowper, Demosthenes, Desaguliers, Halley, Tillotson, Washington, Waring, &c. &c, Theology is introduced; but some of the theological articles are tinged, we must say, with Socinianism of the deepest and most malignant dye. We would not exclaim against the introduce tion of Socinian sentiments, in the way of honourable discussion, though perfect fairness might suggest the propriety

of avowing it as a leading object of the work ; but, in some cases, they are accompanied with such rancorous insinuations as must disgrace an advocate of any sect. It would be unjust not to add, that the typographical execution is extremely neat, and that many of the plates are excellent. It is also our duty to state it as a report pretty generally credited, that the real compiler both of this and Gregory's Dictionary was one and the same person !-an ingenious and industrious gentle. man, whose name, however, we forbear to mention.

The editor of the Encyclopædia Londinensis, is Mr. Wilkes, the proprietor. This publication proceeds slowly. We have seen seven quarto volumes, and judge it will extend to more than twenty. Beside the usual contents of Encyclopædias, this work will include the whole of Dr. Johnson's English Dictionary. The Treatises are (uniformly, if we mistake not) some that have been previously published by authors of established reputation. Of this work, there are two editions ; in one, the plates illustrating subjects of natural history are coloured : and it is only in a very few instances, that the colouring bears any marks of being laid on' by the acre.' · The new edition of the Encyclopædia Perthensis is to be comprized in 24 vols. royal octavo. The general merits of this publication are, we think, rather below than above mediocrity ; both the historical and geographical departinens are far too much dilated for the aggregate magnitude of the work; and the plates are very indifferent. In this Encyclopædia, also, the whole of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary is inserted.

The Edinburgh Encyclopedia is edited by Dr. David Brewster. It is to be completed in about ten quarto volumes. From an examination of the three or four parts which have reached England, we may venture to affirm that this publication will be conducted with considerable care and judgement : and the plates are much better than have appeared in any other Scotch Encyclopædia. The Atlas accompanying this work, which is to consist of at least thirty maps, will be executed by Kirkwood and Sons, artists of established reputation in that department.

The Pantologia is the joint production of Mr. John Mason Good, F. R. S. Dr. Olinthus Gregory, of the Royal Military Academy, and Mr. Newton Bosworth, of Cambridge; Dr. Gre gory being commonly understood to be the generał editor. This work is intended to be comprized in about ten volumes, royal octavo, of which three are before the public. The des partments of Natural History, Medicine, Chemistry, and Mathematics, are ably conducted. The biographical articles are drawn up with care, 'neatness, and impartiality. In this de, partment, we have often been highly gratified with the judici

[ocr errors]

dicious introduction of sound principles of morality and religion; as one instance, we specify the memoir of Cowper, whose religion is successfully vindicated from the charge, alledged against it by the ignorant or profane, of producing his unhappy malady. Concerned as we are for the promotion of genuine Christianity, both in the hearts and the practice of men, we should be faithless to our professed object and acknowledged duty, if we did not heartily commend that rectitude of morul tendency by which this publication is distinguished from nearly all others of the kind. It is extremely gratifying to us, to observe such an union of profound science, correct reasoning, and scriptural belief, as we meet with in many of its articles. We incidentally mentioned (Vol. V. p. 18) the able summary of arguments under the article Canaanites, in answer to the well-known objections of Paine and other infidel writers, on this ground, against the inspiration of the Hebrew legislator. We have since seen an excel, lent article on the Credibility of testimony, in which mathematical calculations are very ingeniously rendered subservient

to the confirmation of our faith in moral evidence, so artfully - sapped by Hume, and consequently in that Divine Revelation

which all the species of it combine to support. The articles relating to moral philosophy, and the philosophy of the mind and the passions, are drawn up with care, and commonly with judgement. This work, like the Encyclopedia Londinensis, is a Dictionary of words, as well as of things : it includes the Abridgement of Johnson, and, besides, many terms of art, &c. and names of persons and places, that we have not found in other Dictionaries. The plates, in Natural History, are likewise coloured ; many of thein, though not all, with laudable correctness and beauty. Seven or eight plates are given with every Number. The articles in the Pantologia, of which we are most disposed to complain, are those on games and sports; at any rate, they are disproportionately extended, however curious and well composed ; that on Chess deserves praise. A very striking feature of the work is the union of comprehensiveness with brevity; the latter quality is sometimes sought at the risk of scanliness, though very rarely by any culpable omission. Knowing, from our own litele experience, the Jabour requisite for comipressing a large quantity of information into a small space, and considering the utter absurdity of expecting to find the whole information that may be desirable on any subject in any Dictionary, we cannot blame conciseness, where we do not find the laws of proportion violated, in a work of only ten volumes.

The fourth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, which is now publishing under the superintendance of Dr. Gleig, bas

reached the letter M in the alphabet. Generally speaking, there is but little difference between this and the third, in the quantity either of excellences or defects. Some valuable disquisitions in the former edition are now omitted; though, to compensate for this, two or three excellent new treatises have been introduced. The tone of the political discussions is a little-relaxed. There are very few new plates : the old ones are of course much the worse for wear: so that, alto." gether, especially as the recent improvements in 'science are not always recorded here, we really prefer the third edition of this Encyclopædia. to that which is now issuing from the press. When we take into consideration the bulk of this work, .we cannot but regret and condemn the omission of many words which ought certainly to be found in a General Dictionary of Arts and Sciences. As a proof, we must alledge the following list, though it is not perhaps quite complete, of words onnitted between the articles Equator and Etehing : viz, Equicrural, Equidifferent, Equicurve circle, Equisonant, Equitangential curve, Equitant leaves, Equity of Redemption, Eranes, Eratosthenes's sieve, Erectors (in Anatomy), Erethis. mus, Ereugmus, Ereusis, Eriospermum, Eriostemum, Ernodea, Erodium, Erodius, Erose leaf, Erotomania, Erotylus, Eruca (in Botany), Erythema, Erytoilànum, Escharotics, Eschaton, Esperpon, Esseck, Essera, Essoin, Estovayer. The omissions occur with equal frequency in every other part of the new edition which we have examined.

The New Cyclopædia, now publishing under the able superintendance of Dr. Rees, bas for its basis the last edition of Chambers's Cyclopædia; a work wbich, notwithstanding its great general merits, soon became useless, on account of the important changes made by recent discoveries in chemical science. Beside the subjects comprehended in that work, the accounts of which are abridged, amplified, or corrected, as is found neeessary, this Dictionary farther includes Ancient and Modern Geography, illustrated by new maps; Biography ; and sketches of Ancient and Modern History. It does not, however, comprehend a Dictionary of words in general. It was originally proposed to comprize this work in about 20 quarto volumes; but as the eleven volumes we have seen ad. vance but a little way in the letter D, it is manifest the work must be extended to between 39 and 40 volumes, unless the,

future articles be improperly compressed. This Cyclopædia ; does not give treatises or systems; a feature of its plan on

which there are various opinionts, but which, for our part, we entirely approve. Should the learned editor adopt some such scheme of reference as we have suggested at the commencement of this survey, his work will be much more useful to the

« AnteriorContinuar »