Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

ume, the first of his original dictionaries, entitled " Comprehensive Pronouncing and Explanatory Dictionary.” This excellent work came rapidly into general favor, and with successive additions and improvements by the author in after years, has become a standard work, with a constant and rapidly increasing sale.

İn November, 1831, Dr. Worcester made a voyage to Europe for health, recreation, and the enlargement of his resources for the works he had in hand. After eight months' ' tour in Great Britain and on the Continent, visiting all places of interest on his way and recording his observations and impressions in a manuscript journal still preserved among his papers, he returned to this country and to renewed labor, refreshed and strengthened by his well-planned vacation.

Shortly after this he undertook the editorship of the “American Almanac," a work requiring great industry, wide correspondence and careful research and verification, which for eleven years he conducted with his usual faithfulness and ability. He still continued, however, his studies and accumulations of material for the great work in which his literary labors finally culminated in 1860, at the age of 75. But in the interval between this and his return from Europe his patient, unremitting diligence, had prepared and sent to the press, even under the difficulties arising from impaired sight, a number of highly valued books for general use, as well as the use of teachers and schools; in 1835, his “Elementary Dictionary”; in 1846, “ A Universal and Critical Dictionary of the English Language, with Walker's Key to the Pronunciation of Classical and Scripture Proper Names, much enlarged and improved," an elaborate work in royal octavo, containing a vast number of words not found in previous dictionaries, and, like his other preceding works, gratefully welcomed by the public. Between 1850 and 1860 appeared his “ Primary Dictionary,” of 384 pages, his " Pronouncing, Explanatory and Synonymous Dictionary,” of 565 pages, and his“ Pronouncing Spelling Book,” all for the use of public schools, and finding a most extensive sale. These were followed, in 1864, when he was 80 years old, by his “ Comprehensive Spelling Book.” It is a rare instance of successful literary labor kept up to so advanced an age, and our admiration of his industry and perseverance, as well as of his prolonged ability to work, is heightened by the fact that, in the preparation of these later works and to the end of life, he had to labor under the difficulties of obscured eyesight. In 1847 he was threatened with its entire loss. He had over

[ocr errors]

worked his eyes, and both of them were at length curtained with cataracts. By successive operations these were removed and a partial recovery of sight obtained. One eye only was finally enabled to do service. The other remained nearly blind. Dr. Worcester bore the trial, in his case so peculiarly severe, with wonderful equanimity and firmness.

“But the most important and elaborate of all his literary labors, and to which all of his many previous works and researches in the department of lexicography for the preceding thirty years and more had been introductory and more or less preparatory, was the large quarto • English Dictionary,' first published in 1860, when he had reached the age of 75 years. In the final preparation of this work, more particularly in the definitions and explanations of technical and scientific terms, he had the aid of many able assistants, but, so far as relates to himself, this dictionary presents the ripe fruits of his many years of patient, assiduous, and conscientious research and labors, shaped, as is believed, by sound, discriminating judgment and uniform good taste.'

Dr. Worcester had the satisfaction of knowing that his labors and his merits were justly appreciated. Brown College, in 1847, and Dartmouth College, in 1856, honored him with the degree of LL.D.

In 1841 he was married to Amy Elizabeth McKean, daughter of Rev. Joseph McKean, D.D., the professor, after John Quincy Adams, of rhetoric and oratory in Harvard College. She still survives him. He had no children. In private life Dr. Worcester won the high esteem and respect of all who knew him, not only for his learning, ability and intense industry in his useful work, but for the sterling virtues of a character without stain. He was a sincere Christian in faith and in life, thoroughly upright, conscientious and honorable, a loving kinsman, a stanch friend, a patriotic citizen: Reserved and staid in manner, hesitating and cautious in speech, he was full of strong and tender feeling. He had nothing of the selfishness of the mere literary recluse and hard worker. His absorption in his studies never made him forgetful of the wants and claims of others. One of his Cambridge nephews, who from his childhood had lived near him, in a letter from abroad written on hearing of his death, speaks admiringly of his " patience under affliction, his modesty, forbearance, gen

* From an article of great value and interest on his life and works, by his brother, Samuel T. Worcester, Esq., in the Granite Monthly of April, 1880, to which the writer of this is chiefly indebted for the facts and dates which he has here given.

tleness and kindness, his generosity and philanthropy, his trust in his fellow-men and his faith in God.'

He died in Cambridge, after a short illness, Oct. 27, 1865, at the age of 81.

From distinguished literary men and authors, to whom Dr. Worcester had sent copies of his large quarto dictionary in 1860, he received grateful and flattering replies.

“So far as I yet examine,” Thomas Carlyle writes in his note of acknowledgment, of which only a few sentences are here quoted, “it is a most lucid, exact, comprehensive, altogether useful-looking dictionary; the definitions of meaning are precise, brief, correct, — the wood-cuts occasionally a great help, - new fields are opened with success, everything is calculated for carrying information by the directest road.” “ Samuel Johnson said of his work, Careful diligence will at last prevail'; you too I believe I can congratulate on a great mass of heavy and hard work faithfully done, – a good victory, probably the only real victory possible to us in this world.

W. M. Thackeray writes, “I have had no dictionary all my life but an old (abridged) Johnson of my father's, and whenever I bave consulted it have been aware of its countless shortcomings. Let me thank you for giving me this useful and splendid book, and for thinking it would be acceptable to an English man of letters who holds Boston and the States in very cordial and grateful remembrance."

Charles Dickens ends his note of thanks with saying, "It is a most remarkable work, of which America will be justly proud, and for which all who study the English language will long have reason to respect your name, and to be grateful to you. Accept my congratulations on the achievement of this laborious work, together with my best wishes for a speedy and enduring return in profit and honor.”

Herbert Coleridge writes: “As a work of practical utility it seems to me nearly perfect, and I expect to derive immense advantage from it."

The venerable ex-president of Harvard University, Hon. Josiah Quincy, then in his 87th year, concludes his letter of acknowledgment with words that may fitly conclude this memoir of the distinguished lexicographer of Cambridge: "Without putting on any wing of fancy, assuming no airy stand upon Parnassus, but resting on a deeply laid rock of useful labor, you have a right as much as any poet to exclaim, * EXEGI MONUMENTUM ÆRE PERENNIUS.''

MEMOIR

OF THE

REV. CHARLES BROOKS.

BY SOLOMON LINCOLN.

CHARLES BROOKS was a son of Jonathan and Elizabeth (Albree) Brooks, of Medford, and was born in that town, Oct. 30, 1795, where he died, July 7, 1872, aged seventy-six years, eight months, and seven days. He was fitted for college under the tuition of Dr. Luther Stearns (H. C., 1791), of Medford; entered Harvard College in 1812, and was graduated in due course, in 1816. Mr. Brooks frequently complained of having been poorly fitted for college, which he thought subjected him to great disadvantages in obtaining high college rank ; but by close attention to his studies and indefatigable perseverance he overcame them. He reached a highly respectable position during his collegiate course, and received the assignment of honorable parts in the exhibitions. His Commencement part was a poem in Latin, and on taking the master's degree, in 1819, he pronounced the valedictory oration in Latin. The inclination of Mr. Brooks led him to the clerical profession, and for a short time he was a reader in the Episcopal Church, to which his taste and sentiments had drawn him ; but a conviction that Christianity as expounded by Ware and Channing was more conformable to truth, led him to adopt the views of the Unitarians.

He pursued his professional studies in the theological school of Harvard College, terminating them in 1819. He preached his first sermon in Medford, in the meeting-house in which he was baptized in infancy. He was a candidate for settlement only in one place, Hingham. He received the unanimous call of the Third Congregational Society to become their pastor, on a salary of $1,000, which he accepted. He was ordained Jan. 17, 1821. The services on the occasion were of a high order. Dr. Henry Ware preached the sermon;

[graphic][merged small][ocr errors]
« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »