Monthly Archives: October 2005

Item of the Day: Molloy’s De Jure Maritimo et Navali (1682)

Full Title:

De Jure Maritimo et Navali: or, A Treatise of Affairs Maritime and of Commerce. In Three Books. The Third Edition Enlarged.

Written by Charles Molloy. Printed in London for John Bellinger in Cliffords-Inn Lane, against the West Door of St. Dunstans Church; and George Dawes in Chancery Lane, against Lincolns-Inn Gate, 1682.

From the introduction:

THE Wisdom of God is highly to be admired, who hath not endowed the other living Creatures with that Soveraign Perfection of Wisdom, but hath secured and provided for them by natural Muniments from assault and peril and other necessities: But to Man, he formed him naked and frail, because of furnishing him with Wisdom, Understanding, Memory, and Sense to govern his Actions, endowing him with that pious affection of desiring Society, whereby one is inclined to defend, love, cherish, and afford mutual aid to each other: Nor hath he in no less wonderful manner (infinitely transcending all humane wisdom and understanding) created the material World to be subservient to his Being and Well-being: Yet without humane Understanding and Reason did he not build a Ship, raise a Fort, make Bread or Cloth; but these came to pass only by humane Arts and Industry, in which by the Revolutions of the Celestial Bodies, Times and Seasons, Materials and other necessaries are brought forth, by the alteration of which men in their proper seasons reap the fruits of their Labour; so that there is no Society, Nation, Country or Kingdon but stands in need of another: hence it is that men knowing each others necessities, are invited to Traffick and Commerce in the different parts and immensities of this vast World to supply each others necessities, and adorn the conveniencies of humane life.

And as God hath so ordered this wonderful dependence of his Creatures on each other, so hath he by a Law Immutable provided a Rule for Men in all their actions, obliging each other to the performance of that which is right, not only to Justice, but likewise to all other Moral Vertues; the which is no more but the dictate of right Reason founded in the Soul of Man, shewing the necessity to be in some act by its convenience and disconvenience in the rational Nature in Man, and consequently that it is either forbidden or commanded by the Author of Nature, who is the Eternal Creator of all things. And as God hath imprinted this Universal Law in the Minds of all men, so hath he given men power (Society being admitted) to establish other Laws which proceed from the Will, the which is drawn from the Civil Power, that is, from him or them that rule the Commonwealth or Society of Freemen united for their common benefit, (which is called the Laws of Nations) and which by the will of all or many Nations, hath received force to oblige, and is proved by a continued use and testimony of Authentick Memorials of Learned and Skilful Men.

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Item of the Day: Strahlenberg’s Description Historique de L’Empire Russien (1757)

Full Title:

Description Historique de L’Empire Russien; Traduite de l’Ouvrage Allemand de M. le Baron de Strahlenberg.

Written by the Baron of Strahlenberg. In two volumes. Printed in Amsterdam and sold in Paris, Chez Desaint & Saillant, rue Saint Jean de Beauvais, vis-à-vis le Collége, 1757.

From Chapitre Premier. Entendue actuelle de l’Empire Russien, & ses divisions ancienne & moderne.

L’EMPIRE de Russie est l’un des plus vastes & des plus puissans qu’il y ait dans le monde. Il a cet avantage que ses terres tiennent les unes aux autres, & se communiquent ainsi aisément. Son étendue actuelle comprend en longueur, de l’occident à l’orient, près de 1400 lieues d’Allemagne, c’est-à-dire, environ le double de l’Europe; sçavoir, depuis la pointe de l’isle d’Oefel en Livonie, qui est au 41 degré de longitude, jusqu’à l’extrémité de la presqu’isle de Kamtschatka, au 77. [sans faire mention que la pointe du Nord-est de l’Asie se termine au 205 degré de longitude. La Russie qui a ses anciennnes [sic] possessions & sa Cour en Europe, occupe ainsi tout le Nord de l’Asie, & est à portée de l’Amerique septentrionale, dont elle n’est pas éloignée.] Sa largeur est d’environ 400 lieues depuis le 45 degré de latitude septentrionale jusqu’au-delà du 73.

Ses limites particulieres sont, au nord, la Mer Glaciale; à l’occident, les Laponies Danoise & Suédoise, la Finlande, la Mer Baltique, la Courlande, la Lithuanie & la Pologne; au midi, la Petite Tatarie, les Kubans & Circasses, la Mer Caspienne, les Tatars Karakalpacs (ou à bonnets noirs) ceux de la Casatschia-Orda, les Kontaischs ou Calmoucs, les Mungales ou Mongous, & les Tatars orientaux ou Chinois; à l’orient la mer voisine du Japon & de la Terre de Compagnie [ou plutôt la partie septentrionale de la Mer, vulgairement appellée Pacifique (où les Russes ont néanmoins éprouvé de grandes tempêres dans leur voyage vers du Nord ou d’Anian, qui fait la communication de cette grande Mer avec la Mer Glaciale, & qui sépare l’Asie de l’Amérique, sous le Cercle Polaire.]

Danse toutes les descriptions de la Russie, on a extrêmement varié par rapport à ses divisions, & on n’a jamais eu l’attention de s’attacher à une méthode constante & sûre. Les uns la divisent en quatre parties: celles du nord, du nord-ouest, du nord-est, & du sud-est, en donnant à chaque partie certaines provinces à leur gré. D’autre choisissent des méthodes différents; mais toutes confondent mal à propos les principautés, les royaumes & les provinces.

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Item of the Day: Cobbett’s Political Censor (1796)

Coincidence led me to today’s choice of Peter Porcupine’s radically Federalist journal, The Political Censor. While I was in Philadelphia, I ran across several satirical representations of Porcupine, some of whose writings I knew were in the Reading Room. Upon my return, I was just sitting down to read him when I happened upon last week’s wonderful post on Porcupine (William Cobbett) and Noah Webster by U. of Pennsylvania professor Mark Liberman at Language Log, the excellent collaborative blog of several prominent linguists. It was clearly time to blog Porcupine. Full Title:

The Political Censor, or Monthly Review of the Most interesting Political Occurrences, Relative to the United States of America. By Peter Porcupine.

Written by William Cobbett (as Peter Porcupine). Printed in Philadelphia for Benjamin Davies, No. 68, High-Street, 1796.

Introduction:

SOME of the principal debates of the present session of Congress, with Remarks thereon, appeared a few weeks ago, under the Title of, “A Prospect from the Congress-Gallery,” published by Mr. Thomas Bradford. The favourable reception of that work led me to undertake that which I now offer to the public. My plan, however, being altered, for reasons with which I am going to acquaint the reader, it became necessary to alter the title also.

No one, who has been an attentive observer of the violent and dangerous attempts, which have been made, and are still making, against the Federal Constitution, and consequently against the peace, prosperity and happiness of our country, can have failed to perceive, that they had their rise in the deception, which has been so industriously circulated through every part of the United-States. It is not to be presumed, indeed, that the leaders in this hostile and formidable combination have been deceived: they have long been marshalled and ready for the attack: but it is the delusion, which has been quietly suffered to steal its way among the people, that has called them into the field and encouraged them to assault, first the out-works, and at last the very citadel of our liberties and our lives.

The source of this delusion it is not difficult to discover: we have it continually before our eyes. I mean the public papers, and I speak with a very few exceptions.

The general government adopted the most effectual measures for facilitating the conveyance of information to every quarter of the Union, at the least possible expence. Hence subscribers to papers were found in abundance, and the editors, striking off numerous impressions, were, of course, enabled to furnish them at a low price. The intention of the government, as expressed by the President himself, was certainly the most beneficent, that of spreading true information and useful knowledge among all classes of the community. But what has been the consequence? Exactly the contrary. The French Revolution burst forth like a vulcano, and its devouring lava reached even us. The editors, perceiving the partiality of the most numerous class of their subscribers for this revolution, and all the novel and wild principles it has given rise to, have been seduced, by the love of gain, to flatter that partiality by extolling those principles, at the expence of every thing, their own private interest excepted. Their papers, which swarm like summer flies, are become the vehicles of falsehood in place of truth, of ignorance in place of knowledge. Like the tenebrificous stars, mentioned by a celebrated author, they shed darkness in place of light.

A veil has been carefully drawn over the distresses and horrors resulting from the anarchical system of France; or, when this could not be done, when the editors have feared to be anticipated by their fellow-labourers, they have endeavoured to out-vie each other in apologies for what ought to have been held up to detestation, or, at least, as an awful lesson to ourselves. Every one, even of the most destructive and impious acts of that pretended republic, has been trumpeted forth as the effect of a liberal and enlightened policy; while no insinuation, no subtilty, no audacious falsehood, has been left unessayed to thwart all the measures of our own mild and wise government, to disfigure its principles, and sever it from the affections of the people.

To countervail the malignant efforts of these retailers has ever been my wish; and, I hope, it will not be thought presumption in me, if I believe that the trifles from my pen, which the public have honoured with their perusal, have, in some slight degree, had the desired effect. But, alas, what can a straggling pamphlet, necessarily confined to a single subject, do against a hundred thousand volumes of miscellaneous falsehood in folio! Their sheets, if extended, would more than cover the surface of our country.

In opposing a literary monster like this, I am aware that a Porcupine, with all his quills, can never hope for complete success: but, nothing can be accomplished without being begun: I hope to call up abler hands to my aid: to me, it will be a sufficient honour to have led the way.

This I shall attempt, in a monthly work, of the same bulk and price as the one which is here submitted to the public. In this work I shall take a review of the political transactions of the past month; give an account of every democratic trick, whether of native growth or imported from abroad; unravel the windings of the pretended patriots, and more particularly those of the flour-merchants, and I trust, I shall be enabled to give, monthly, a sketch of political affairs more satisfactory, because more correct, than has ever yet appeared in this country. These will be the leading objects; but I shall exclude nothing, not entirely foreign to the nature of the work, that may contribute to the use or amusement of my readers.

The news-papers are supported by subscription, and for that very reason the Censor shall not. As long as people read, so long shall I write; and when the Bookseller advertises me that the work lies on his shelf, it will be a very good hint for me to draw in my quills.

Here, then, begins a bellum eternum between the fabricating Quid-Nuncs and me.–There is my glove, gentlemen; take it up as soon as you will. You well know that your abuse will infinitely redound to my honour; and therefore, to silence me, by rendering my work sterile and uninteresting, you are reduced to the cruel necessity of telling the truth.

I should think it necessary to offer an apology for having prefixed the title of Censor to the present Number; but the reader will at once perceive; that it is now assumed for the sake of uniformity, as applicable to the future contents of the work, and not to the remarks on the debates of Congress, a body to which I should be very sorry to be wanting in respect.

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Item of the Day: Franklin’s Works (1798)

Full Title:

The Works of the Late Dr. Benjamin Franklin; Consisting of His Life Written by Himself: Together with Essays Humorous, Moral, and Literary; Chiefly in the Manner of the Spectator.

Written by Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790. Preface includes a letter by Richard Price. Includes the continuation of Franklin’s Life written by Henry Stueber. Includes: “Extracts from the last will and testament of Dr. Franklin.” Printed in New-York and sold by John Tiebout, no. 358 Pearl-Street, 1798.

From pp. 9-11:

MY DEAR SON,

I HAVE amused myself with collecting some little anecdotes of my family. You may remember the enquiries I made, when you were with me in England, among such of my relations as were then living; and the journey I undertook for that purpose. To be acquainted with the particulars of my parentage and life, many of which are unknown to you, I flatter myself, will afford the same pleasure to you as to me. I shall relate them upon paper: it will be an agreeable employment of a week’s uninterrupted leisure, which I promise myself during my present retirement in the country. There are also other motives which induce me to the undertaking. From the bosom of poverty and obscurity, in which I drew my first breath and spent my earliest years, I have raised myself to a state of opulence and to some degree of celebrity in the world. A constant good fortune has attended me through every period of life to my present advanced age; and my descendants may be desirous of learning what were the means of which I made use, and which, thanks to the assisting hand of providence, have proved so eminently successful. They may also, should they ever be placed in a similar situation, derive some advantage from my narrative.

When I reflect, as I frequently do, upon the felicity I have enjoyed, I sometimes say to myself, that, were the offer made me, I would engage to run again, from beginning to end, the same career of life. All I would ask should be the privilege of an author, to correct, in a second edition, certain errors of the first. I could wish, likewise, if it were in my power, to change some trivial incidents and events for others more favourable. Were this however denied me, still would I not decline the offer. But since a repetition of life cannot take place, there is nothing which, in my opinion, so nearly resembles it, as to call to mind all its circumstances, and to render their remembrance more durable, commit them to writing. By thus employing myself, I shall yield to the inclination, so natural to old men, to talk of themselves and their exploits, and may freely follow my bent, without being tiresome to those who, from respect to my age, might think themselves obliged to listen to me; as they will be at liberty to read me or not, as they please. In fine, (and I may well avow it, since nobody would believe me were I to deny it,) I shall perhaps, by this employment gratify my vanity. Scarcely indeed have I ever heard or read the introductory phrase, “I may say without vanity,” but some striking and characteristic instance of vanity has immediately followed. These generality of men hate vanity in others, however strongly they may be tinctured with it themselves; for myself, I pay obeisance to it wherever I meet with it, persuaded that it is advantageous, as well to the individual whom it governs, as to those who are within the sphere of its influence. Of consequence, it would, in many cases, not be wholly absurd, that a man should count his vanity among the other sweets of life, and give thanks to providence for the blessing.

And here let me with all humility acknowledge, that to divine providence I am indebted for the felicity I have hitherto enjoyed. It is that power alone which has furnished me with the means I have employed, and that has crowned them with success. My faith in this respect leads me to hope, though I cannot count upon it, that the divine goodness will still be exercised towards me, either by prolonging the duration of my happiness to the close of life, or by giving me fortitude to support any melancholy reverse, which may happen to me, as to so many others. My future fortune is unknown but to him in whose hand is our destiny, and who can make our very afflictions subservient to our benefit.

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Item of the Day: Franklin’s Historical Review of Pensylvania (1759)

Full Title:

An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pensylvania (sic), From Its Origin; So far as Regards the Several Points of Controversy, Which Have, from Time to Time, Arisen between The Several Governors of that Province, and Their Several Assemblies. Founded on Authentic Documents. “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Page 289.”

Attributed to Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790. Contains dedication, contents, introduction, and appendix. Printed in London for R. Griffiths, in Paternoster-Row, 1759.

Introduction (pp. 1-5):

TO obtain an infinite Variety of Purposes, by a few plain Principles, is the Characteristic of Nature. As the Eye is affected, so is the Understanding: Objects at distance strike us according to their Dimensions, or the Quantity of Light thrown upon them; near, according to their Novelty or Familiarity; as they are in motion or at rest. ‘Tis the same with Actions. A Battle is all Motion; a Hero all Glare: While such Images are before us, we can attend to nothing else. Solon and Lycurgus would make no Figure in the same Scene with the King of Prussia; and we are at present so lost in the military Scramble on the Continent next us, in which it must be confes’d we are deeply interested, that we have scarce Time to throw a Glance towards America, where we have also much at Stake, and where, if any where, our Account must be made up at last.

We love to stare more than to reflect, and to be indolently amus’d at our Leisure, than to commit the smallest Trespass on our Patience by winding a painful, tedious Maze, which would pay us in nothing but Knowledge.

But then, as there are some Eyes which can find nothing marvellous, but what is marvellously great, so there are others which are equally disposed to marvel at what is marvellously little: and who can derive as much Entertainment from their Microscope in examining a Mite, as Dr. — in Ascertaining the Geography of the Moon, or measuring the Tail of a Comet.

Let this serve as an Excuse for the Author of these Sheets, if he needs any, for bestowing them on the Transactions of a Colony, till of late hardly mentioned in our Annals; in Point of Establishment one of the last upon the British list, and in point of Rank one of the most subordinate, as being not only subject, in common with the rest, to the Crown, but also to the Claims of a Proprietary, who thinks he does them Honour enough in governing them by Deputy; consequently so much farther remov’d from the Royal Eye; and so much the more expos’d to the Pressure of self-interested Instructions.

Considerable, however, as most of them for the Happiness of Situation, Fertility of Soil, Product of valuable Commodities, Number of Inhabitants, Shipping, Amount of Exportations, Latitude of Rights and Privileges, and every other Requisite for the Being and Well-Being of Society, and more considerable than any of them all for the Celerity of its Growth, unassisted by any human Help but the Vigour and Virtue of its own excellent Constitution.

A Father and his Family, the latter united by Interest and Affection, the former to be rever’d for the Wisdom of his Institutions, and the indulgent Use of his Authority, was the Form it was at first presented in. Those who were only ambitious of Repose found it here; and as none return’d with an evil Report of the Land, Numbers follow’d: All partook of the Leven they found: The Community still wore the same equal Face: Nobody aspir’d: Nobody was oppress’d: Industry was sure of Profit, Knowledge of Esteem, and Virtue of Veneration.

An assuming Land-Lord, strongly disposed to convert free Tenants into abject Vandals, and to reap what he did not sow, countenanc’d and abetted by a few desperate and designing Dependants, on the one Side; and on the other, all who have Sense enough to know their Rights, and Spirit enough to defend them, combin’d as one Man against the said Land-Lord, and his Encroachments, is the Form it has since assum’d.

And surely, to a Nation born to Liberty like This, bound to leave it unimpair’d as They receiv’d it from their Fathers in Perpetuity to their Heirs, and interested in the Conservation of it in every Appendix of the British Empire, the Particulars of such a Contest cannot be wholly indifferent.

On the contrary, it is reasonable to think, the first Workings of Power against Liberty, and the natural Efforts of unbiassed Men to secure themselves, against the first Approaches of Oppression, must have a captivating Power over every Man of sensibility and Discernment amongst us.

Liberty, it seems, thrives best in the Woods. America best cultivates what Germany brought forth. And were it not for certain ugly Comparisons, hard to be suppress’d, the Pleasure arising from such a Research would be without Alloy.

In the Feuds of Florence recorded by Machiavel, we find more to lament and less to praise. Scarce can we believe the first Citizens of the antient Republics had such Pretensions to Consideration, tho’ so highly celebrated in antient Story. And as to ourselves, we need no longer have Recourse to the late glorious Stand of the French Parliaments to excite our Emulation.

It is a known Custom among Farmers to change their Corn from Season to Season for the Sake of filling the Bushel: And in Case the Wisdom of the Age should condescend to make the like Experiment in another Shape, from hence we may learn, whither to repair for the proper Species.

It is not, however, to be presum’d, That for as have long been accustomed to consider the Colonies, in general, as only so many Depedencies on the Council-Board, the Board of Trade, and the Board of Customs; or as a Hot-Bed for Causes, Jobs, and other pecuniary Emoluments, and as bound as effectually by Instruction as by Laws, can be prevail’d upon to consider these Patriot-Rustics with any Degree of Respect.

Derision, on the contrary, must be the Lot of him, who imagines it in the Power of the Pen, to set any Lustre upon them; and Indignation theirs for daring to assert and maintain the Independency inwoven in their Constitution, which now, it seems, is become an improper Ingredient, and therefore to be excised away.

But how contemptibly soever these Gentlemen may talk of the Colonies, how cheap soever they may hold their Assemblies, or how insignificant the Planters and Traders who compose them, Truth will be Truth, and Principle Principle notwithstanding.

Courage, Wisdom, Integrity and Honour are not to be measur’d by the Sphere assigned them to act in, but by the Trials they undergo, and the Vouchers they furnish: And if so manifested, need neither Robes, or Titles to set them off.

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Item of the Day: Field of Mars (1781)

Full Title:

The Field of Mars: being an Alphabetical Digestion of the Principal Naval and Military Engagements, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, Particularly of Great Britain and her Allies, from the Ninth Century to the Present Period. Selected from the Best Historians and Journalists, and Adjusted from the Greatest Authority. Interspersed with concise Descriptions of the Towns and Plances, the Subject of each Article. To which is Prefixed An Essay on the Art of War, and A Comprehensive System of Military and Naval Discipline. Embellished with Maps, Charts, Plans, and Views of Battles. In Two Volumes.

Reference work, in two large, fully illustrated volumes. Includes folding maps depicting sea and land routes. Printed in London for J. MacGowan, No. 27, Paternoster-Row, 1781.

To the Public:

To preserve a perfect impartiality is the province of every Historian, but few attain to it; how far the FIELD OF MARS has adhered to that character, it may be construed a presumption in us to announce; yet thus far, without censure, we may declare, that all events are given as faithful historians present them to us, at whole length, naked, and unmasked; stripped of that praise and adulation, as well as that calumny and reproach with which these transactions are too frequently related. In order to annex veracity to our assertions, particular attention has been paid to extracts from works of repute, and publications of authority. Indeed, where superior merit is conspicuous to all the world, it would be as superfluous as ridiculous to attempt a display of it; yet we may be allowed to assert, that this Nation is almost arrived to the summit of Human Grandeur, and its natives, as men, to the first degree of reputation for Valour, Courage, Integrity, and Humanity; but at the same time it must be admitted, that the utmost efforts of Human Wisdom cannot secure the fate of one single event, which causes the most unlikely to produce their designed effects, often succeed to admiration, and to the utter confusion of the boasted power of Human Prudence, Foresight, and Precaution.

AT this period, such a Publication cannot but be acceptable to the British Reader, when Britain is involved in an accumulating War, when she has to contend not only with her Natural Enemies, France and Spain, but with her late Unnatural Allies the Dutch, and her refractory North American Subjects, who, in diametrical opposition to her internal interest, as well as those of their Mother Country, have set up an Independence, under the protection of the united powers of their avowed Enemies, the French and Spaniards, and the concurrence of the treacherous and time-serving States of Holland, who so lately felt the chastisement of our insulted arms; yet now dare to support a contest the most unhappy that England was ever engaged in; and its termination cannot but be the most important, and mark an æra in the history of Europe.

A TIME when every British subject glows with emulation in defence of his Native Country, and the support of its dignity; for as nothing will stimulate beyond example, so the perusal of a well executed work on this Plan, cannot but excite a desire to pursue the well trod paths of our Ancestors, in an exertion to prove ourselves worthy of enjoying the fruits of their labours, and urge us to pay a just tribute to their revered memories.

NO history, ancient or modern, can, in any comparative degree, vie with that of this Nation for its great exploits, both by Land and Sea; and no country whatever, can pride itself in having withstood the united machinations of its restless enemies, equal to that of Britain; whose well-concerted efforts have generally been crowned with success, and its perfidious enemies sunk into shame and disgrace, even in their own opinion, whenever they have roused the resentment of the Natives of this most favoured Isle. In vain have the arms of France and Spain combined to crop the laurels of the British Forces; their endeavours have proved as baseless as their faith; and every attempt to injure, has been frustrated and rendered abortive by the dauntless spirit inherent in the breasts of the Sons of Albion and Hibernia; who have proved to the whole world, that, however arduous, however apparently impracticable, any proposed attempt may be, the English Soldiers and Seamen are not to be deterred from it by any prospect of difficulty or danger: but will exert themselves as far as men can do, and at least deserve success, if they do not attain it, when led by men worthy to command them, many of whose Feats would have done honour to the Roman arms.

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Item of the Day: Webster’s Dictionary (1828)

Full Title:

An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. The origin, affinities and primary signification of English words, as far as they have been ascertained. II. The genuine orthography and pronunciation of words, according to general usage, or to just principles of analogy. III. Accurate and discriminating definitions, with numerous authorities and illustrations. To which are Prefixed, An Introductory Dissertation on the Origin, History, and Connection of the Languages of Western Asia and of Europe, and a Concise Grammar of the English Lanugage, By Noah Webster, LL.D. In Two Volumes. “He that wishes to be counted among the benefactors of posterity, must add, by his own toil, to the acquisitions of his ancestors.”—Rambler.

By Noah Webster, LL.D. In two volumes. Published in New York by S. Converse. Printed by Hezekiah Howe, New Haven, 1828.

From the Introduction:

The United States commenced their existence under circumstances wholly novel and unexampled in the history of nations. They commenced with civilization, with learning, with science, with constitutions of free government, and with that best gift of God to man, the christian religion. Their population is now equal to that of England; in arts and sciences, our citizens are very little behind the most enlightened people on earth; in some respects, they have no superiors; and our language, within two centuries, will be spoken by more people in this country, than any other language on earth, except the Chinese, in Asia, and even that may not be an exception.

It has been my aim in this work, now offered to my fellow citizens, to ascertain the true principles of the language, in its orthography and structure; to purify it from some palpable errors, and reduce the number of its anomalies, thus giving it more regularity and consistency in its forms, both of words and sentences; and in this manner, to furnish a standard of our vernacular tongue, which we shall not be ashamed to bequeath to three hundred millions of people, who are destined to occupy, and I hope, to adorn the vast territory within our jurisdiction.

If the language can be improved in regularity, so as to be more easily acquired by our own citizens, and by foreigners, and thus be rendered a more useful instrument for the propagation of science, arts, civilization and christianity; if it can be rescued from the mischievous influence of sciolists and that dabbling spirit of innovation which is perpetually disturbing its settled usages and filling it with anomalies; if, in short, our vernacular language can be redeemed from corruptions, and our philology and literature from degradation; it would be a source of great satisfaction to me to be one among the instruments of promoting these valuable objects. If this object cannot be effected, and my wishes and hopes are to be frustrated, my labor will be lost, and this work must sink into oblivion.

This Dictionary, like all others of the kind, must be left, in some degree, imperfect; for what individual is competent to trace their source, and define in all their various applications, popular, scientific and technical, sixty or seventy thousand words! It satisfies my mind that I have done all that my health, my talents and my pecuniary means would enable me to accomplish. I present it to my fellow citizens, not with frigid indifference, but with my ardent wishes for their improvement and their happiness; and for the continued increase of the wealth, the learning, the moral and religious elevation of character, and the glory of my country.

To that great and benevolent Being, who, during the preparation of this work, has sustained a feeble constitution, amidst obstacles and toils, disappointments, infirmities and depression; who has twice borne me and my manuscripts in safety across the Atlantic, and given me strength and resolution to bring the work to a close, I would present the tribute of my most grateful acknowledgments. And if the talent which he entrusted to my care, has not been put to the most profitable use in his service, I hope it has not been “kept laid up in a napkin,” and that any misapplication of it may be graciously forgiven.

New Haven, 1828. N. WEBSTER.

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