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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 escaped 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 support them by authorities, I have suffered to stand upon my own attestation, claiming the same privilege with my predeceffors, of being sometimes credited without proof.
The words, thus felected and disposed, are grammatically considered; they are referred to the different 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 necessary 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 synonimes, because the idea signified by thein has not more than one appellation; nor by paraphrase, 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 am
biguous biguous and perplexed. And such is the fate of hapless lexicography, that not only darkness, but light, impedes and distresses it; things may be not only too little, but too much known, to be happily illustrated. To explain, requires the use of terms lefs abstruse than that which is to be explained, and fuch terms cannot always be found; for as nothing can be proved but by supposing something intuitively known, and evident without proof, so 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 fubtle and evanescent to be fixed in a paraphrase; such are all those which are by the grammarians termed expletives, and, in dead languages, are fuffered to pass for empfy 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 sometiines such as no other form of expression can convey. · My labour has likewise been much increased by a class of verbs too frequent in the English language, of which the signification is so loose and general, the ufe fo 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 the 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, set, go, run, make, take, turn, throw. If of thele 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 that speaks it, these words are hourly shifting their relations, 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 fo great latitude, that they are not easily reducible 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 talk, which no man, however learned or sagacious, has yet been able to perfom.
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 confeffion : for when Tiilly owns himself ignorant whether lefus, in the twelve tables, means a funeral song, or mourning garment; and Aristotle doubts whether oupeus in the Iliad, signifies a mule, or muleteer, I may surely without shame, leave some obscurities to happier industry, or future information.
The rigour of interpretative lexicography requires that the explanation, and the word explained, should be always reciprocal; this I have always endeavoured, but could not always attain, Words are seldom exactly synonimous; 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 necessary to use the proximate word, for the deficiency of single
terms can very seldoın be supplied by circunlocution; nor is the inconvenience great of such mutilated interpretations, because the sense may easily be collected entire from the examples.
In every word of extensive use, it was requisite to mark the progress of its meaning, and shew by what gradations of intermediate fense it has passed from its primitive to its remote and accidental fignifica. tion; so that every foregoing explanation should tend to that which follows, and the series be regularly concatinated from the first notion to the last.
This is specious, but not always pra&icable ; kindred senses may be so interwoven, that the perplexity cannot be disentangled, nor any reason be assigned why one should be ranged before the other. When the radical idea branches out into parallel ramifications, how can a consecutive series be formed of senses in their nature collateral ? The shades of meaning sometimes pass imperceptibly into each other, so that though on one side they apparently differ, yet it is imposiible to mark the point of contact. Ideas of the same race, though not exactly alike, are lometimes to little different, that no words can express the diffimilitude, though the mind easily perceives it when they are exbibited together; and sometimes there is such a confusion of acceptations, that discernment is wearied, and distinction puzzled, and perseverance herself hurries to an end, by crowding together what she cannot separate.
Thele complaints of difficulty will, by those that have never considered words beyond their popular ufe, be thought only the jargon of a man willing to magnify his labours, and procure veneration to his
studies by involution and obscurity. But every art is obscure to those that have not learned it: this uncertainty of terms, and commixture of ideas, is well known to those who have joined philosophy with grammar; and if I have not expressed them very clearly, it must be remembered that I am speaking of that which words are insufficient to explain.
The original sense of words is often driven out of use by their metaphorical acceptations, yet must be inserted for the sake of a regular origination. Thus I know not whether ardour is used for material heat, or whether flagrant, in English ever signifies the same with burning; yet such are the primitive ideas of these words, which are therefore set first, though without examples, that the figurative senses may be commodiously deduced.
Such is the exuberance of fignification which many words have obtained, that it was scarcely possible to collect all their senses; sometimes the meaning of derivatives must be sought in the mother term, and sometimes deficient explanations of the primitive may be supplied in the train of derivation. In any case of doubt or difficulty, it will be always proper to examine all the words of the same race ; for some words are nightly passed over to avoid repetition, fome admitted easier and clearer explanation than others, and all will be better understood, as they are considered in greater variety of structures and relations.
All the interpretations of words are not written with the same skill, or the same happiness: things equally easy in themselves, are not all equally easy to any single mind. Every writer of a long work VOL. II.