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an alphabetical Encyclopædia is furnished with an alphabetical index. In smaller works of reference which partake of the nature of verbal lexicons no such thing is needed; but the plan of the Encyclopædia Britannica is to deal with subjects rather than words, and to discuss large subjects in a connected way, under general headings, so that the book may be used not only for occasional reference but for systematic study. Many things, therefore, which a reader may wish to understand are explained, not under their own names, but in the course of a larger discussion, and those who desire to learn about them will find the explanation in its proper place by the aid of this index volume. The index has been compiled by Mr William Cairns, and arranged and revised by the Rev. Geo. M'Arthur, with the assistance of Miss Emily Stevenson and Mr J. T. Bealby.
Besides the index, the present volume contains a complete list of those who have written articles for the ninth edition of the Encyclopædia, with a key to the initial letters affixed to the longer contributions. It is to be observed that the use of these initials was not designed to lighten the responsibility of the editors. No editor can possess the knowledge which would enable him to control the work of his contributors in all the subjects treated of in the Encyclopædia, but no effort has been spared on the part of the editorial staff to secure the accuracy and sufficiency of every contribution, and to prevent those repetitions and inconcinnities which necessarily occur where each contributor is absolutely and solely responsible for the articles that bear his name.
In this endeavour the editors have been heartily supported by the contributors themselves : a large proportion of the unsigned articles have been written by scholars of the first name, who kindly undertook to do small things as well as large in order to secure the uniform treatment of a whole group of subjects, and in all departments leading authorities at home and abroad have been found ready to help, not merely by their direct contributions, but by valuable counsels as to the plan of articles and the choice of writers—often also by revising what others had written, and suggesting corrections and improvements.