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The importance and value of a dictionary of a lan- | 100 volumes a year, it would require 500 years to guage are understood and appreciated by all. If I exhaust such a library! How important is it, then, find a word in a book, or hear a word used by another, to know what to read! And how shall this knowledge which I do not fully comprehend, I have nothing to be obtained ? Now let us revert to our opening redo but refer to my dictionary, where all the needful marks upon the value of a dictionary of words. If information is before me. I have now increased my there be such an advantage in full definition, in stock of knowledge, and can use the word myself in alphabetical arrangement, and consequent facility of speaking or writing, and comprehend it when used reference, why should we not have a dictionary of by others. Another link is added to those ties which books and authors as well as of words Suppose that bind me to society; my capacity for giving and re- I wish to know whether Hume or Lingard's History ceiving valuable information and innocent pleasure of England, or Spenser's Poems, or Burke's Speeches, is enlarged. It is now natural for me to reason with or Thomson's Seasons, are desirable works for my myself, that if the knowledge of only one new term school, my library, my parlour table ;-or suppose I of thought be so desirable, because so useful, how wish to know the personal history of these authorswould my usefulness and happiness be increased of Hume, Lingard, Burke, Thomson—what trouble I by larger additions to my stock of mental wealth! shall have in obtaining the desired information! But A life spent in the acquisition of knowledge, surely if I had a Dictionary of Literary History and Biowould be a happy life! But few men can so devote graphy, I have nothing to do but turn to H, or L, or their whole time, and if this were practicable, life is B, or T, and I am at once in possession of what I too short for any one man to possess himself of all seek. But is there any such work to be had ? It is the secrets of nature, the discoveries of science, and a remarkable fact that, notwithstanding the obvious the triumphs of art. I cannot at the same time, advantages of such a work, there was none such in gaze with the astronomer, explore with the voyager, print before the present publication. There were, calculate with the mathematician, and experiment indeed, meagre “Compendiums of Engiish Literawith the philosopher. But it occurs to me that there ture,” and “Comprehensive Cyclopædias,” the largest is a mode in which I may, to a large extent, avail of which (with the exception of a book of titles of myself of the results of the labours of others. These works) contains about 850 out of more than 30,000 have been given to mankind through the medium of authors ! Much of such knowledge, too, is found the press. I can, therefore, devote my leisure time scattered here and there in expensive biographical to such profitable reading as shall make me acquainted compilations, which can never become popular, bewith much of which I must otherwise be ignorant. cause very costly, and are, indeed, insufficient authoriReading is that art by which I am enabled to avail ties in literary history. myself of the recorded wisdom of mankind. But Deeply lamenting this serious deficiency in the here a practical difficulty suggests itself. The multi- English Republic of Letters, the compiler determined plicity of books, even in my own language, renders to undertake the preparation of the long-desired a careful selection absolutely indispensable. It has work, and he now has the pleasure of presenting to been computed that of the 650,000 (?) volumes in the the public the results of labours extending over a English language, about 50,000 would repay a peru- long period, and pursued with unwearied zeal, in “A sal! Suppose a person to read 100 pages a day, or CBITICAL DictiONARY OF English LITERATURE AND
BRITISH AND AMERICAN AUTHORS, LIVING AND DE- | the King of England; in modern times, by Lord CEASED, FROM THE EARLIEST ACCOUNTS TO THE MID- Brougham, Lord John Russell, Sir Robert Peel, Mr. DLE OF THE 19TH CENTURY."
Macaulay, and many others. Now, such criticisms The principal features of the work are the follow- and commendations, invaluable as they are, are floating:
ing about in books and pamphlets, often difficult to 1. It is arranged in alphabetical order, to insure procure, and troublesome to examine. In the prefacility of reference.
sent work they will be found, in the whole or in part, 2. While professing to chronicle only British and arranged in a few pages under the name of BURKE. American authors, in our College of Letters, we Such an article alone is well worth the price of the have sometimes overlooked the question of nativity, whole book. When Mr. Bryant was a youthful poet and enrolled a writer whose insignia of literary his effusions were most favourably noticed by that nobility could properly be quartered on an English first class authority, the London RETROSPECTIVE field. That, indeed, would be a prodigal parsimony REVIEW, as well as by other periodicals and critics. which should exclude from the national coffers of Some years later, CHRISTOPHER North and Washintellectual wealth, the superscriptions of Anselm, ington IRVING (then in London) displayed their good Lanfranc, Benoit De Sainte-Maur, and Peter of taste by warmly applauding the “thoughts that Blois.
breathe and words that burn" of the great American 3. As a general rule, a succinct biography is given bard. In the present work the reader has only to of each author of note. The length of such notice, turn to the name of Bryant, to find an account of of course, depends upon his prominence as an indi- these and other interesting facts connected with Mr. vidual, and his rank as an author. Those of the B.'s poetical career. So a reference to the name of first class, such as, Addison Anselm, Ascham, Bacon, WASHINGTON IRving will place him in possession of Burke, Byron, Bryant, Chaucer, Chillingworth, Cla- the prominent events connected with the life of this rendon, Cowper, Davy, Dryden, Dwight, Edwards, distinguished ornament of English literature. In Everett, Franklin, Gildas, Gibbon, Hallam, Hall, like manner are noticed the works and lives of the Henry, Irving, Johnson, Laud, Leighton, Locke, principal living (as well as deceased) British authors: Milton, More, Newton, Otway, Paley, Pope, Prescott, -HALLAM, BROUGHAM, MACAULAY, DICKENS, BULWER Robertson, Roscoe, Savage, Spenser, Shakspeare, Lytton, &c. Sherlock, Southey, Sparks, Taylor, Thomson, Tyn
5. The laudable curiosity of the bibliomaniac, or dale, Usher, Vanbrugh, Wace, Warburton, Walpole, lover of rare works, is not forgotten in this volume. Watts, Waterland, Wood, Young, and SEVERAL THOU- Occasional notices are given of BAND OTHERS, are treated at considerable length. Legs
“The small, rare volume, black with tarnished gold." space is devoted to those less distinguished. The number of authors whose works are noticed is about (Ferriar's “Bibliomania," p. 11: Epistle to Richard 30,000, a far greater number of English writers than Heber, Esq.) whilst the early RoXBURGHE FESTIVALS, has ever before been brought together in any work, the tournaments at Leigh and Sotheby's, and the trior indeed in all previous publications.
umphs of DIBDIN, HEBER, and THORPE, claim respect4. The most valuable feature of the work is now ful remembrance. to be mentioned. Compilers of manuals of literature 6. The second division of this work consists of a have almost universally fallen into the great error of copious index of subjects, so that the inquirer can giving their own opinions, almost exclusively, upon FIND AT A GLANCE ALL THE AUTHORS OF ANY NOTE IN the merits or demerits of the authors under conside- TIE LANGUAGE, ARRANGED UNDER THE SUBJECT OR ration. Now, these opinions may be valuable or not:
Under the public generally neither ask nor care what their AGRICULTURE, the farmer will find authors' names views may be. This capital error is avoided in the alphabetically arranged; and by turning to each one, present work. The compiler occasionally ventures can see the title or titles of his work or works, and an opinion of his own, but this will be merely sup- probably an estimate of the value of his labours. So plemental to opinions better known and more highly in ANTIQUITIES, CHEMISTRY, DIVINITY, DRAMA, LAW, appreciated by the reading public. As a carefully POLITICAL Economy, BIOGRAPHY, &c. This arrangeprepared RECORD OF THE OPINIONS OF GREAT MEN ment, the compiler considers, will confer an inestiUPON GREAT MEN, this work will prove an invaluable mable value upon the work. He thus presents to the guide to the student of literary history. For instance, public, in one volume, a COMPREHENSIVE MANUAL able criticisms upon the speeches and literary pro- of English LITERATURE--authors and subjects— ductions of EDMUND BURKE have been written or MANUAL WHICH IS TO THE LITERATURE OF THE LANspoken by such men as M. Cazalés, Charles James QUAGE WHAT AN ORDINARY DICTIONARY IS TO THE Fox, Sir James Mackintosh, Dr. Johnson, Curran, WORDS OF THE LANGUAGE. Wilberforce, the Duke de Levis, Gerard Hamilton, 7. The value of the work can be best seen by a Dr. French Laurence, Lord Eldon, Dr. Parr, Robert comparison with other works of a somewhat similar
SUBJECTS UPON WHICH THEY HAVE WRITTEN.
1. The BIOGRAPHIA BRITANNICA (complete), in 7 only one volume, yet this contains the matter of more folio volumes, comes down to a no later period than than thirty ordinary 12mo. volumes of 350 pages each. 1766; 5 yolumes of a new edition were published, It is needless to enlarge upon the superior convenience 1778–93, extending to letter E, and part of F. The for reference which one large volume possesses over number of authors noticed is few, and, of course, it a number of smaller ones. excludes all those who have died within the last We shall now proceed to show the weighty claims sixty-two years, and all recent discoveries in literary which our work presents to the attention of the membiography. These twelve bulky volumes, which are bers of the various professions, and the public geneDow rarely to be met with, are worth about $35 to
1. The CLERGYMAN will find it an invaluable 2. Chalmers's BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY, 32 vols. guide in his professional duties. How often is he at 8 vo., 1812–17, contains in all less than 9000 names,
a loss to know what books to refer to, when pursuing of which perhaps 2500 are those of British au
some interesting and useful branch of study! We thors; it is sold at from $15 to $55. It contains are bold to say that there is no work in the language, no author who has died within about forty years. with the exception of this volume, which will answer Our work gives 25,000 to 30,000 names of British his purpose. HORNE'S INTRODUCTION, and ORME's and American authors (including the living) to the BIBLIOTHECA Biblica, treat of works which relate present time.
to the Scriptures, only. WILLIAMS'S CHRISTIAN 3. Watt's BIBLIOTHECA BRITANNICA, 1824, 4 vols., PREACHER, and BICKERSTETH'S CHRISTIAN STUDENT, 4to., like the other works named above, is a very and some other manuals of a similar character, aro valuable compilation. It contains the names of about very defective in bibliography, and so partial to those 22,500 British, and perhaps 100 to 200 early American, who agree, and (unintentionally) unjust to others authors. Of biographical notices it is almost desti- who disagree, with the peculiar views of the compilers, tute; in many cases giving a line where our work that the advocate is apparent, where the judge alone gives a column. It sells for $40 to $50.
should be heard. Now our work contains almost, if 4. Lowndes's BIBLIOGRAPHER'S MANUAL, 1824, 4 not quite, all of the critical notices included in these vols., 8vo., gives no biography of consequence, few works, and many others of a different complexion. modern names, and very meagre critical notices, The clergyman has only to turn to the class headed where any at all are presented. It is but little more “ DIVINITY," and the theological treasures of the than a catalogue of titles, though a work of much English language are laid open to his view. By such value to a bibliographer. It meets with a rapid sale guidance, instead of purchasing his books at random, at $24 to $28, and is now very scarce.
and diminishing his means by the cost of works, which 5. The New BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY, (Rose's) he finds, on examination, unsuited to his purpose, 12 vols., 870., 1848, contains about 3700 names of he can at once lay his hands upon exactly what he British and American authors, excluding all living. needs. If he wish to add to his library works of a It sells for $30 to $40.
miscellaneous character, he can consult this ever6. CHAMBERS's CYCLOPÆDIA OF English LITERA- present, well-informed friend at his elbow, who will TURE is a most valuable work, and should be in all indicate those works which are suitable, and those libraries; but as a map of English literature it is which are unsuitable, for his library shelves and very defective, though from no fault of the intelligent parlour table. editor, Mr. Robert Chambers. He designed to give 2. The LAWYER will find in our work copious specimens of the works of a few authors, rather than notices of books in his profession, from ARCHBOLD to a history of British and American authors and lite- VINER. The article “Law,” in the Index, will enable rature. The bulk of his work is made up of extracts him to discover at once the title and date of, and frefrom the few authors noticed. Of these there are quently valuable critical opinions from the highest 832 only, WHO ARE ALL INCLUDED IN OUR OWN WORK, authorities upon, the legal treatise which is to enable AND SOME 25,000 to 30,000 IN ADDITION! Not only him to study intelligently the important case, the have we all of the British authors noticed by CHAM- management of which is, perhaps, to make or mar BERS, but all included in Watt's BIBLIOTHECA BRITAN- his professional reputation. NICA, in Lowndes's BIBLIOGRAPHER'S MANUAL, in 3. The DOCTOR OF MEDICINE is often at a loss Rose's BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY, 1848, 12 vols., to lay his hands upon a treatise which will enable 870., CLEVELAND'S COMPENDIUMS OF English LITE- bim to master the diagnosis of some disease, which RATURE, &c.; all of the American authors to be found has baffled his skill, or must be explained to bis class. in R. W. Griswold's compilations, in Allen's American He has no medical bibliographer to consult; or he Biographical Dictionary, and many more, both British may hesitate to admit ignorance in quarters where and American, never before included in a work of professional rivalry may not always keep the secret. this kind. If it be asked, how is it possible for us to Our Library of English Literature is on his shelf, is have compressed so vast a quantity of information consulted, has relieved him from his difficulty, and into one volume, we answer that, though we give he commends the wisdom of the profitable purchase.
Abernethy's Digestive Organs, Mede's Pestilential Con- | time enough in which to learn two languages, or lo tagion, or Watt's Consumption, soon smiles grimly in read through more than one hundred volumes ! his library; the patient is soon well enough to laugh If you say that one hour is too much time per day to at his doctor, the medical students are dismissed, assume as a basis, then take half an hour, or a quarter, “wiser,” if not "better, men,” and our Æsculapius or five minutes only, and you will see that it is still walks forth, the admiration of his fellow citizens, as worth saving. Be assured that the position you hold a marvel of erudition.
among your neighbours, your respectability, your 4. In like manner, the MERCHANT who desires usefulness, is mainly dependent upon the amount of to be acquainted with the literature of his profession, knowledge you possess. If you, honest shoemaker, and the ARTIST who is looking for the best manuals or carpenter, can tell your group of neighbours who of his calling, or the biographies of those who have Franklin was, what Burke was distinguished for, why, graven their names with the chisel upon the eloquent Shakspeare is so much admired, in what year Washmarble, or stamped their fame upon the glowing ington was born and when he died—if you can tell colours of the speaking canvass,-bas here a sure them about such things, when you meet with the names
of these or other men in the village newspaper, every 5. The AGRICULTURIST can learn the most one of your neighbours will respect you the more for recent improvements in the treatment of lands, and your knowledge. provide himself with those stimulants to production, If you, apprentice boy-you, young maiden—can without which, no farmer can now compete with his inform your parents of the philanthropic labours of intelligent neighbour.
a Wilberforce and a Howard, of the eloquence of a 6. And let not the WORKING MAN say to such a Henry, a Chatham, or a Clay, of the discoveries of a manual as ours, “I have no need of thee. I am no Davy, or a Fulton, or a Newton, be sure your knowscholar, and have no time to read, even if I felt the ledge will “not fall to the ground.” desire. I do, indeed, sometimes lament my ignorance What, indeed, intellectually considered, distinand inability to understand much of what I read in guishes a man from a brute, but education ! Before the papers, but it is too late for me to learn." A the genius of such men as Edmund Burke and Joha plea of this kind confutes itself.
Milton, the world has bowed in heartfelt deference; Our MECHANIC admits that he is often mortified at but had Burke and Milton been without educationhis ignorance. Why then should be voluntarily re- bad they been North American Indians, for instance, main in ignorance? As to the alleged “want of what would their genius have done for them? It time,” this is altogether an error. The excuse may might have enabled them to make a better canoe, or be valid in one case in ten thousand: as the odds are scalp more enemies, or construct handsomer wigso great, we feel justified in never admitting its wams, than their fellows; but if transplanted into validity. We will venture to assert that, almost civilized life, they would, in usefulness to society, without an exception, every man, woman, and child, have been many degrees inferior to the youth in the who complains of want of time for the discharge of public school. Such is the importance of knowledge, neglected duties, can find time enough when inclina- which is truly “power!” Therefore, delay not to tion becomes the manager. In the busiest season, acquire so inestimable a treasure! will not time be found for that amusement, that re A recent illustration of the pecuniary advantages creation, which may be ardently desired by the one of knowledge, may properly conclude this portion of who complains of being so much burdened? We say our subject. An operative in a cotton faetory subto the working man or woman, apprentice, boy, or scribed three dollars a year for a magazine. In this girl, determine to improve your mind, to add to your periodical he found the designs of some patterns for stock of knowledge, and you will find time enough. In goods. He thought he could copy them-did so— time, as in money, it is neglect of the fragments was eminently successful, and found that his three which consumes the store. Who could not, if so dollars was a most profitable investment. Had he disposed, save for reading one hour per day? Not, said to the proffered magazine, as we have imagined perhaps, in one term, but a few minutes here and the working man to say to our manual, “I have no there, until the aggregate should amount to the time need of thee," what a mistake he would have made! supposed. If the working day be ten hours in length, 7. The individual who follows no particular pur we have the following result:
suit, will find a work most useful, which will enable One hour per day is, in a year, three hundred and him to pass his hours of retirement in entertaining sixty-five hours—thirty-six days and a half-that is, improvement, and to maintain social intercourse with about five weeks in a year. Does not this surprise credit and esteem. you? How much knowledge you will be possessed How often are the ignorant obliged to sit by in of next year, if you devote five weeks to its acquisi- stupid silence, whilst those better informed are distion this year! In ten years you will, at the same cussing the merits of English and American authors, rate, have devoted one year to reading. Here is of former or present days! How many there are who