T is the Fate of those who toil at the lower Em


Fear of Evil, than attracted by the Profpect of Good; to be exposed to Cenfure, without Hope or Praife; to be difgraced by Miscarriage, or punished for Neglect, where Succefs would have been without Applaufe, and Diligence without Reward.

Among thefe unhappy Mortals is the Writer of Dictionaries; whom Mankind have confidered, not as the Pupil, but the Slave of Science, the Pioneer of Literature, doomed only to remove Rubbish and clear Obstructions from the Paths of Learning and Genius, who prefs forward to Conqueft and Glory, without beftowing a Smile on the humble Drudge who facilitates their Progrefs. Every other Author may aspire to Praife; the Lexicographer can only hope to escape Reproach, and even this negative Recompence has been yet granted to very few.

I have, notwithstanding this Difcouragement, attempted a Dictionary of the English Language, which, while it was employed in the Cultivation of every Species of Literature, has itself been hitherto neglected, fuffered to fpread, under the Direction of Chance, into wild Exuberance, refigned to the Tyranny of Time and Fashion, and expofed to the Corruptions of Ignorance, and Caprices of Innovation.

E 4


When I took the firft Survey of my Undertaking, I found our Speech copious without Order, and energetic without Rules: wherever I turned my View, there was Perplexity to be disentangled, and Confufion to be regulated; Choice was to be made out of boundless Variety, without any established Principle of Selection; Adulterations were to be detected, without a fettled Teft of Purity; and Modes of Expreffion to be rejected or received, without the Suffrages of any Writers of claffical Reputation or acknowledged Authority.

Having therefore no Affiftance but from general Grammar, I applied myself to the Perufal of our Writers; and noting whatever might be of Ufe to afcertain or illuftrate any Word or Phrafe, accumulated in Time the Materials of a Dictionary, which, by Degrees, I reduced to Method, establishing to myfelf, in the Progrefs of the Work, fuch Rules as Experience and Analogy fuggefted to me; Experience, which Practice and Obfervation were continually increafing; and Analogy, which, though in fome Words obfcure, was evident in others.

In adjusting the Orthography, which has been to this Time unfettled and fortuitous, I found it neceffary to diftinguish those Irregularities that are inherent in our Tongue, and perhaps coeval with it, from others which the Ignorance or Negligence of later Writers has produced. Every Language has its Anomalies, which, though inconvenient, and in themselves once unneceffary, muft be tolerated among the Imperfections of human Things, and which require only to be registered, that they may not be increafed; and afcertained, that they may not be confounded: But every Language has likewife its Improprieties and Abfurdities, which it is the Duty of the Lexicographer to correct or profcribe.

As Language was at its Beginning merely oral, all Words of neceffary or common Ufe were fpoken be


fore they were written; and while they were unfixed by any visible Signs, must have been fpoken with great Diversity, as we now obferve those who cannot read to catch Sounds imperfectly, and utter them negligently. When this wild and barbarous Jargon was first reduced to an Alphabet, every Penman endeavoured to exprefs, as he could, the Sounds which he was accustomed to pronounce or to receive, and vitiated in Writing fuch Words as were already vitiated in Speech. The Powers of the Letters, when they were applied to a new Language, muft have been vague and unfettled; and therefore different Hands would exhibit the fame Sound by different Combinations.

From this uncertain Pronunciation arife, in a great Part, the various Dialects of the fame Country, which will always be obferved to grow fewer, and lefs different, as Books are multiplied; and from this arbitrary Representation of Sounds by Letters, proceeds that Diverfity of Spelling obfervable in the Saxon Remains, and I fuppofe in the first Books of every Nation, which perplexes or deftroys Analogy, and produces anomalous Formations; which, being once incorporated, can never be afterwards difmiffed or reformed.

Of this Kind are the Derivatives Length from long, Strength from frong, Darling from dear, Breadth from broad; from dry, Drought, and from high, Height; which Milton, in Zeal for Analogy, writes Highth: Quid te exempta juvat spinis de pluribus una; to change all would be too much, and to change one is nothing.

This Uncertainty is moft frequent in the Vowels, which are fo capricioufly pronounced, and fo differently modified, by Accident or Affectation, not only in every Province, but in every Mouth, that to them, as is well known to Etymologifts, little Regard is to


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Such Defects are not Errours in Orthography, but Spots of Barbarity impreffed fo deep in the Englifo Language, that Criticism can never wash them away; thefe, therefore, must be permitted to remain untouched: but many Words have likewife been altered by Accident, or depraved by Ignorance, as the Pronunciation of the Vulgar has been weakly followed and some still continue to be variously written, as Authours differ in their Care or Skill: Of these it was proper to enquire the true Orthography, which I have always confidered as depending on their Derivation, and have therefore referred them to their original Languages: Thus I write enchant, Enchantment, Enchanter, after the French, and Incantation after the Latin; thus entire is chofen rather than intire, because it paffed to us not from the Latin integer, but from the French entier.

Of many Words it is difficult to fay whether they were immediately received from the Latin or the French; fince at the Time when we had Dominions in France, we had Latin Service in our Churches. It is, however, my Opinion, that the French generally fupplied us for we have few Latin Words, among the Terms of domestick Ufe, which are not French; but many French, which are very remote from Latin,

Even in Words of which the Derivation is apparent, I have been often obliged to facrifice Uniformity to Custom: Thus I write, in Compliance with a numberless Majority, convey and inveigh, Deceit and Receipt, Fancy and Phantom; fometimes the Derivative varies from the Primitive, as explain and Expla nation, repeat and Repetition.

Some Combinations of Letters having the fame Power, are used indifferently without any difcoverable Reafon of Choice; as in choak, choke; Soap, Sope;


Fewel, Fuel; and many others; which I have fometimes inferted twice, that those who search for them under either Form, may not fearch in vain.

In examining the Orthography of any doubtful Word, the Mode of Spelling by which it is inferted in the Series of the Dictionary, is to be confidered as that to which 1. give, perhaps not often rafhly, the Preference. I have left, in the Examples, to every Authour his own Practice unmolefted, that the Reader may balance Suffrages, and judge between us: But this Queftion is not always to be determined by reputed or by real Learning; fome Men, intent upon greater Things, have thought little on Sounds and Derivations; fome, knowing in the ancient Tongues, have neglected thofe in which our Words are commonly to be fought. Thus Hammond writes Fecibleness for Feafibleness, because I fuppofe he imagined it derived immediately from the Latin; and fome Words, fuch as dependant, dependent; Dependance, Dependence, vary their final Syllable, as one or other Language is prefent to the Writer.

In this Part of the Work, where Caprice has long wantoned without Controul, and Vanity fought Praise by petty Reformation, I have endeavoured to proceed with a Scholar's Reverence for Antiquity, and a Grammarian's Regard to the Genius of our Tongue. I have attempted few Alterations, and among thofe few, perhaps the greater Part is from the modern to the ancient Practice; and I hope I may be allowed to recommend to thofe, whofe Thoughts have been, perhaps, employed too anxioufly on verbal Singularities, not to difturb, upon narrow Views, or for minute Propriety, the Orthography of their Fathers. It has been afferted, that for the Law to be known, is of more Importance than to be right. 6 Change,' fays Hooker, is not made without Inconvenience, even from worse to better.' There is in Conftancy and Stability a general and lafting Ad


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