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and choose, to leave this and to take that, he will at once go astray. The business which he has undertaken is to collect and arrange all the words, whether good or bad, whether they do or do not commend themselves to his judgment, which, with certain exceptions hereafter to be specified, those writing in the language have employed. He is an historian of it, not a critic. The delectus verborum, on which so much, on which nearly everything in style depends, is a matter with which he has no concern. There is a constant confusion here in men's minds. There are many who conceive of a Dictionary as though it had this function, to be a standard of the language; and the pretensions to be this which the French Dictionary of the Academy sets up, may have helped on this confusion. It is nothing of the kind. A special Dictionary may propose to itself to be such, to include only the words on which the compiler is willing to set the mark of his approval, as being fit, and in his judgment the only fit, to be employed by those who would write with purity and correctness. Of the probable worth of such a collection I express no opinion. Those who desire, are welcome to such a book : but for myself I will only say that I cannot understand how any writer with the smallest confidence in himself, the least measure of that vigour and vitality which would justify him in addressing his countrymen in written or spoken discourse at all, should consent in this matter to let one self-made dictator, or forty, determine for him what words he should use, and what he should forbear from using. At all events, a Dictionary of the English language such a work would not have the slightest pretence to be called. What sort of completeness, or what value, would a Greek lexicon possess, a Scott and Liddell, from whose pages all the words condemned by Phrynichus and the other Greek purists, and, so far as style is concerned, many of them justly condemned, had been dismissed? The lexicographer is making an inventory; that is his business; he may
think of this article which he inserts in his catalogue, that it had better be consigned to the lumber-room with all speed, or of the other, that it only met its deserts when it was so consigned long ago; but his task is to make his inventory complete. Where he counts words to be needless, affected, pedantic, ill put together, contrary to the genius of the language, there is no objection to his saying so; on the contrary, he may do real service in this way: but let their claim to belong to our book-language be the humblest, and he is bound to record them, to throw wide with an impartial hospitality his doors to them, as to all other. A Dictionary is an historical monument, the history of a nation contemplated from one point of view; and the wrong ways into which a language has wandered, or been disposed to wander, may be nearly as instructive as the right ones in which it has travelled: as much may be learned, or nearly as much, from its failures as from its successes, from its follies as from its wisdom.
The maker, for example, of an English Dictionary may not consider mulierosity,'l or subsannation," or
coaxation,' or 'ludibundness,"4 or delinition,' or 'septemfluous, or 'medioxumous,'' or 'mirificent,'8 or 'pal
I “Both Gaspar Sanctus and he tax Antiochus for his mulierosity and excess in luxury."—H. MORE, Mystery of Iniquity, b. 2, c. 10, $ 3.
2 “ Idolatry is as absolute a subsannation and vilification of God as malice could invent."-Id. ib. b. 1, c. 5, § 11.
3 " The importunate, harsh, and disharmonious coaxations of frogs." -Id. ib. b. 1, c. 6, § 16.
4 « That ludibundness of nature in her gamaieus and such like sportful and ludicrous productions."-Id. ib. b. I, c. 15, § 14.
• “The delinition also of the infant's ears and nostrils with the spittle." -Id. ib. b. 1, c. 18, § 7.
6 " The main streams of this septemfluous river (the Nile].”—Id. ib. b. 1, c. 16, § 11.
The whole order of the medioxumous or internuntial deities.”Id. ib. b. I, c. 12, § 6.
8 " Enchantment Agrippa defines to be nothing but the conveyance of a certain mirificent power into the thing enchanted.”—Id. ib. b. 1, C. 18, $ 3.
miferous,' or 'opime,"? or a thousand other words of a similar character which might be adduced (I take all these from a single work of Henry More), to contribute much to the riches of the English tongue; yet has he not therefore any right to omit them, as all these which I have just adduced, with a thousand more of like kind, have been omitted from our Dictionaries. I will not urge that one or two in this list might be really serviceable (mulierosity,' for instance, expresses what no other word in the language would do); but admitting them to be purely pedantic, that they would be quite intolerable in use, still they involve and illustrate an important fact in the history of our language,the endeavour to latinize it to a far greater extent than has actually been done, the refusal on its part to adopt more than a certain number of these Latin candidates for admission into its ranks,—and, therefore, should not be omitted from the archives of the language. If, indeed, the makers of our Dictionaries had, by a like omission, put the same stamp of non-allowance upon all other words of this character, on all which to them seemed pedantic, inconsistent with the true genius of the language, threatening to throw too preponderating a weight into one of its scales, this course, although mistaken, would yet have been consistent. But they have not done so. They all include, and rightly, a
1 “The palmiferous company triumphs, and the Heavenly Jerusalem is seen upon earth.”—Id. ib. b. 2, c. 6, § 18.
2 “Great and opime preferments and dignities.”—Id.ib. b. 2, c. 15, $ 3. 3 It
may be objected to this statement, that two or three of those above quoted are found in Johnson or in Todd. They are so ; tion,' for instance, which the latter defines as “the art of coaxing"! but they are there without examples of their use; and though I shall not often refer to such words, when I do I shall deal with them as words wholly wanting in our Dictionaries; for to me there is no difference between a word absent from a Dictionary, and a word there, but unsustained by an authority. Even if Webster's Dictionary were in other respects a better book, the almost total absence of illustrative quotations would deprive it of all value in my eyes.
multitude of such words. But admitting these, such, for instance, as 'fabulosity,' 'populosity,''nidorous,' ataraxy,' 'andabation,' 'prosopography,' 'exiconize," "diaphaneity,' -admitting these by the hundred, they had forfeited their right, were it only on the ground of consistency, to exclude such as I have just enumerated, not to say that the idea of a Dictionary demands their insertion. It is, let me once more repeat, for those who use a language to sift the bran from the flour, to reject that and retain this. They are to be the true Della Cruscans: this title of furfuratores is a usurpation when assumed by the makers of a Dictionary, and their assumption of it can only serve to show how far they are from having rightly apprehended the task which they have undertaken.
There is, moreover, a still graver complaint which we make against them. One of the most effectual means of reducing us to the condition of nuspóßioi, of bringing us to live only in the present, is to cut us off from all knowledge of the past. We can only live in the past, and draw an ennobling inspiration from it, through acquaintance, and indeed through more or less familiarity, with it. This familiarity is acquired in many ways. The study of history, of antiquities, of laws, of literature, all help to give it; but I know not whether the study of language is not the most potent means of all for planting us in the true past of our country; and of this it is proposed in great part to deprive us by those who would make our Dictionaries the representations merely of what the language now is, and not also of what it has been.
These preliminary observations made, I proceed to support by evidence in each case the several complaints which I have made.
I. In regard of obsolete words, our Dictionaries have no certain rule of admission or exclusion. But how, it may be asked, ought they to hold themselves in regard of these?
This question has been already implicitly answered in what
What I complain of in our Dictionaries is that they do not accept this necessity, and in its full extent. They all undertake to give the archaisms of the language; and thus