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ment. There is one suggestion of this writer, on which, although we have quoted it, we have made no comment, simply because it is of an atrocity too depraved to be coolly contemplated. In reference to the controversies between the two governments, America is charged with evincing a litigious disposition on points, that can scarcely fail, sooner or later, to bring the two nations into collision ; we mean such points, as Great Britain never can concede, and which can have no other object, if persevered in, than to serve as so many pretexts to join the enemy against us, in any future war, as she did in the last.'
It would be no more than fair to ascribe to a consciousness that such is the policy of the British government, this reckless assertion that such is the policy of the American ; although the single circumstance, that war in the United States must be declared by a majority of Congress, which is perpetually changing, and cannot, with an approach to precision, be calculated on four years in advance, shows the absurdity of the intimation. Such a charge we do not, however, make. We shall content ourselves with saying, that if the time unhappily should arrive, when the two countries shall be plunged into war, on all or any of these subjects, it is from England that the first denunciation has proceeded of an event so inauspicious.
Art. XII.—Johnson's English Dictionary, as improved by
Todd, and abridged by Chalmers ; with Walker's Pro-
One of the principal excellences of a new Dictionary is to be looked for in the completeness of the
Vocabulary. As we do not propose to give the history of English lexicography, we shall date all its improvements in this, as well as in other particulars, from the time of the great work of Johnson, which deservedly constitutes a large portion of his fame. Before that time, the Englishman was not provided with a Dictionary equal to the demands of a language, which had become at once so copious and so much cultivated ; nor with one sufficiently full in the collection of words. To supply this defect was the first great difficulty that attended the labors of Johnson.
The deficiency of dictionaries,' he remarks, ' was immediately apparent; and when they were exhausted, what was yet waniing must be sought by fortuitous and unguided excursions into books, and gleaned, as industry should find, or chance should offer it, in the boundless chaos of a living speech. My search, however, has been either skilful or lucky; for I have much augmented the vocabulary.' He fixed, as he says himself, the works of Sir Philip Sidney, (who died in 1586) for the boundary, beyond which he made few excursions. He retained faithfully the language of poetry as far back as Shakspeare and Ben Johnson, though not without sufficient cautions annexed respecting the use of many words. The poetry of his age, no less than that of the age preceding, abjured everything antiquated in English phraseology; and perhaps Johnson's decisions concerning words not used, and obsolete, are not of much value ; nor have they been very scrupulously regarded. A living language is always mutable, and the English language is singularly so. Some new words are acquired which supplant their predecessors, and old words are sometimes revived, and again grow into favor. It is manisest, therefore, if we pass over in silence the imperfections neces. sarily incident to a dictionary of any language, that a responsibility must be assumed or reposed somewhere, for improving and perfecting from one time to another the vocabulary of a living language. Something of this has been attempted at different times in English ; by Ash, too much in some respects, and too little in others; by Mason, in his Supplement to Johnson, not enough, and not very successfully as far as he proceeded; a little by Walker, and more by Webster ; and most of all by Todd, who, we confess, wins something of our favor, by the manner in which he speaks of the great English Lexicographer. After all,' says he, 'what the present editor has done, he considers but as dust in the balance, when weighed against the work of Dr Johnson.'
We come now to speak more particularly of the words added by Mr Todd to those in Johnson's Dictionary. Chalmers, in a notice prefixed to his Abridgement, informs us, that it contains every word in Todd's edition of Johnson, and above fourteen thousand more than were given in Johnson's Abridgment; that the whole forms the most extensive vocabulary ever published ; and that, in consequence of the additions introduced by Mr Todd, it becomes a complete glossary of the early English writers. “Mr Chalmers's work,' says Mr Worcester, was formed from Mr Todd's first edition. His second edition, which was published in February, 1827, contains nearly a thousand additional words, and was received in season to have these inserted in the Appendix of this Dictionary. These, together with the other words newly added, increase the excess above the number of words in Dr Johnson's Abridgment, to upwards of fifteen thousand.'
Johnson, indeed, in his Abridgment, omitted, we believe, at least three thousand words, which were contained in his great work. But still it must be quite an appalling fact to the common English reader, that so many thousand words are added, that were not before contained in his manual; and he will be apt to think it very marvellous, that he is able to read and understand everything in his own language, while he is furnished only with a vocabulary which is so defective. But the mystery will in a great degree vanish by a little explanation; and it will be curious to those who have not examined the subject, to see how such an unknown treasure has been acquired.
It is a fair subject of inquiry, how far back the Lexicographer should go for the materials of his work. If Chaucer is fairly entitled to the appellation of · Father of English heroic verse,' it would seem to afford a sufficient reason for inserting his words, however antiquated or obsolete. Though much of his poetry comes so near a dead language, that some of the poets of the last century translated portions of them into modern phrase, yet certain words and expressions of his are often revived, and contribute their share to preserve that distinction, which exists between the language of poetry and the language of prose. The language of Britain, which had undergone so much revolution, seemed in the time of Chaucer to have gained little consistency in orthography or grammatical construction. Though he wrote nearly two centuries after the Norman conquest, yet so heterogeneous, in the mean time, were the materials of which the language was composed, and so little had it been cultivated, that it was a kind of wilderness, that required the hand of art to subdue it, and demanded great efforts to polish and adorn it, after it had lost much of its
VOL. XXVII.- NO. 61. 66
former rudeness. Chaucer perhaps did less than might have been expected of him towards the accomplishment of this vast work. The subjects of his poems were of a popular kind, and, like most other poets, his object also was to please. And we cannot but think, from a comparison of some of his with the gleanings of other writings in prose, nearly contemporaneous, that a mixture of phraseology is found in his compositions, more unnatural than was required by the state of the language when he wrote, if not bordering upon affectation. Like many other poets, in attempting to shun what was trite, he appears to have fallen into some ungraceful singularities; and in avoiding vulgar diction, to have been occasionally betrayed into the use of pedantic phraseology. It is difficult, however, to form a very precise judgment in the case ; for so little can be gathered from contemporary writers, that Chaucer himself is generally referred to, for ascertaining the condition of the English language, at the time when he wrote. One thing, however, is sufficiently manifest, namely, that his writings contribute a portion to that old thesaurus of poetic phrase, which, combined with more modern diction, produces a luxuriance of style, that gives to the English language a distinguished emi
Another copious source of increase to the English vocabulary is the improvements and inventions in arts and sciences; the extension of commerce and the prevalence of war; and a growing intercommunity of fashion and literature among the nations of Europe. Now there can be no question, that the more general terms, such as the names of the arts and sciences, and their subdivisions, should be introduced, though it is difficult even here to preserve consistency and relative proportion. But any endeavors of the lexicographer to collect and explain all the technical terms in medicine, law, commerce, arts, and general science, would result in additions more cumbrous than useful. Dr Campbell maintains that technical words are not to be considered as a part of language, and are not entitled in general to admission into a dictionary, claiming the merit of a standard. As a general rule, this is the most safe ; and the exceptions must be left to the judgment of authors and compilers, who will find it sufficiently hard to satisfy themselves. Upon any pian, however, words of the kind we have mentioned, must be somewhat numerous, and must increase from age to age, as long as a language shall live. Thus, to take a palpable instance, since the time of Johnson ; to the word Galvanism, which is introduced, as it should be, by Mr Todd, he must add, as he does, Galvanick, Galvanize, and Galvanometer. Without any careful search or effort, many words of this sort must present themselves, which demand a place in a dictionary. Akin to these are the names of sects, and what pertains to sects and parties, in philosophy, and religion, and politics. Johnson was very sparing in the introduction of these even as they existed in his time, but to show what a fruitful addition they make, we need mention only a few words first inserted by Todd, which will suggest many more of a similar kind. Thus Pythagorean, substantive and adjective ; Pythagorical, Pythagorick, Pythagorism. Arian, substantive and adjective ; Arianism, Arianize. Jacobin, substantive and adjective ; Jacobinical, Jacobinism, Jacobinize. The few words of this kind which were introduced by Johnson, as far as we have observed, were inserted rather as common appellatives, and as expressive of the qualities, of those who resembled a sect, than for the sake of the sect itself, or the founder of it; as may be seen in Cynick, Cynical ; Epicurean, Epicurism.
We have said, that war and the military art have been among the productive causes of new words; and it is not a novel suggestion. More than a century has now passed since the authors of the Spectator reprobated the corruptions that were taking place in the English language, in consequence of the existing war with France. Pontoons, fascines, marauder, corps, chamade, cartel, and others, are among the words which met and successfully resisted the vollies of wit and humor which were directed against them by those authors, and acquired a place in Johnson's Dictionary. These and others of the same class, it appears, were just creeping into our language, when Addison and his coadjutors were taking cognizance of literature, and morals, and manners, in the Spectator. That such words were then uncommon, appears from what the Spectator subjoined to a letter which purported to be written by a young gentleman in the army to his father. The father found it contained great news, but could not guess what it was. He immediately communicated it to the curate of the parish, who, upon the reading of it, being vexed to see anything which he could not understand, fell into a kind of passion, and told him that his son had sent him a letter that was neither fish, flesh, nor good red herring.'