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more easy; the Editor will be extremely obliged to any gentleman, particularly those who are engaged in the business of teaching, for such hints or observations as may tend towards the improvement, and will spare neither expense nor trouble in making the best use of their information.
N O expectation is more fallacious than that
TV which authors form of the reception which their labours will find among mankind. Scarcely any man publishes a book, whatever it be, without believing that he has caught the moment when the publick attention is vacant to his call, and the world is difposed in a particular manner to learn the art which he undertakes to teach.
The writers of this volume are not so far exempt from epidemical prejudices, but that they likewise please themselves with imagining, that they have reserved their labours to a propitious conjuncture, and that this is the proper time for the publication of a Dictionary of Commerce.
The predictions of an author are very far from infallibility; but in justification of some degree of confidence it may be properly observed, that there was never from the earliest ages a time in which trade so much engaged the attention of mankind, or commercial gain was fought with such general emulation Nations which have hitherto cultivated no art but that of war, nor conceived any means of increasing riches but by plunder, are awakened to
• A new Dictionary of Trade and Commerce, compiled from the Information of the most eminent Merchants, and from the Works of the best Writers on commercial Subjects in all Languages, by Mr. Rekt. Folio, 1757.
more inoffenfive industry. Those whom the poffefsion of subterraneous treasures, have long disposed to accommodate themselves by foreign industry, are at last convinced that idleness never will be rich. The merchant is now invited to every port, manufactures are established in all cities, and princes who just can view the sea from some single corner of their dominions, are enlarging harbours, erecting mercantile companies, and preparing to traffick in the remotest countries.
Nor is the form of this work less popular than the subject. It has lately been the practice of the learned to range knowledge by the alphabet, and publish dictionaries of every kind of literature. This practice has perhaps been carried too far by the force of fashion. Sciences, in themselves systematical and coherent, are not very properly broken into such fortuitous diftributions. A dictionary of arithmetick or geometry can serve only to confound : but commerce, considered in its whole extent, seems to refuse any other method of arrangement, as it comprises innumerable particulars unconnected with each other, among which there is no reason why any should be first or laft, better than is furnished by the letters that compose their names.
We cannot indeed boast ourselves the inventors of a scheme fo commodious and comprehensive. The French, among innumerable projects for the promotion of traffick, have taken care to lupply their merchants with a Diktionnaire de Commerce, collected with geat induftry and exactness, but too large for common use, and adapted to their own trade. This book, as well as others, has been carefully consulted, that VOL. II.
our merchants may not be ignorant of any thing known by their enemies or rivals.
Such indeed is the extent of our undertaking, that it was necessary to solicit every information, to consult the living and the dead. The great qualification of him that attempts a work thus general, is diligence of enquiry. No man has opportunity or ability to acquaint himself with all.the subjects of a commercial dictionary, so as to describe from his own knowledge, or affert on his own experience. He must therefore often depend upon the veracity of others, as every man depends in common life, and have no other skill to boast than that of selecting judiciously, and arranging properly.
But to him who considers the extent of our subject, limited only by the bounds of nature and of art, the task of selection and method will appear fufficient to overburden industry and distract attention. Many branches of commerce are sub-divided into smaller and finaller parts, till at last they become so minute as not easily to be noted by observation. Many interests are so woven among each other as not to be disentangled without long enquiry; many arts are industriously kept lecret, and many practices necellary to be known, are carried on in parts too remote for intelligence. · But the knowledge of trade is of so much importance to a maritime nation, that no labour can be thought great by which information may be obtained; and therefore we hope the reader will not have reason to complain, that, of what he might justly expect to find, any thing is omitted. To give a detail or analysis of our work is very
difficult; difficult; a volume intended to contain whatever is requisite to be known by every trader,, necessarily becomes so miscellaneous and unconnected as not to be easily reducible to heads; yet, since we pretend in some measure to treat of traffick as a science, and to make that regular and systematical which has hitherto been to a great degree fortuitous and conjectural, and has often succeeded by chance rather than by conduct, it will be proper to shew that a distribution of parts has been attempted, which, though rude and inade quate, will at least preserve fome order, and enable the mind to take a methodical and successive view of this design.
In the dictionary which we here offer to the publick, we propose to exhibit the materials, the places, and the means of traffick..
The materials or subjects of traffick are whatever is bought and fold, and include therefore every manufacture of art, and almost every production of nature.
In giving an account of the commodities of nature, whether those which are to be used in their original state, as drugs and spices, or those which become useful when they receive a new form from human art, as flix, cotton, and metals, we shall shew the places of their production, the manner in which they grow, the art of cultivating or collecting them, their discriminations and varieties, by which the best forts are known from the worse, and genuine from fictitious, the arts by which they are counterfeited, the casualties by which they are impaired, and the practices by which the damage is palliated or concealed. We shall likewise shew their virtues and uses, and trace them through all the changes which they undergo.. .