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Chambers, Ephraim, 1680 (ca.)-1740 / Cyclopædia, or, An universal dictionary of arts and sciences : containing the definitions of the terms, and accounts of the things signify'd thereby, in the several arts, both liberal and mechanical, and the several sciences, human and divine : the figures, kinds, properties, productions, preparations, and uses, of things natural and artificial : the rise, progress, and state of things ecclesiastical, civil, military, and commercial : with the several systems, sects, opinions, &c : among philosophers, divines, mathematicians, physicians, antiquaries, criticks, &c : the whole intended as a course of antient and modern learning

The preface,   pp. I [i]-xxx PDF (27.2 MB)

Page xxi

The' P P E F A C I                                                XI
Plahs or Lrofpes of Ideas, artfully arranged, and exhibited, tiot to the
Eye, but to the Mind; ahid there is
a kind of analogous Perfpe&ive which obtains in 'etn, wherein we have
fomething not much unlike Points of
Sight, and of Diftance. An Author, in effe&, has fome particular View
or Defign in drawing out his Ideas;
either, nakedly to reprefent fomething, or diftort and ridicule it, or amplify,
or extenuate, or difcover, or
teach, or prove, &c. whence arife divers kinds of Pieces, under the Names
of Hijfories, Difcourfes, Treatgi/es
Efays, Inquiries, Examinations, Paraphrafes, Courfes, Memoirs, Burlefques,
&c. In all which, tho the Matter or
Subje& may be the famte, the Conduc& or artificial Part is very different,
as much as a Still-Life from a
Hiftory, or a Grotefque, or a Nudity, or a Caricatour, or a Scene-work, or
a Miniature, or a Profile, &c.
Each of thefe Methods of Compofition has its particular Characters, and Laws;
and to form a Judgment of
the Things reprefented, from the PiCtures made of them, 'tis neceffary we
be able to unravel, or undo what
is artificial in 'em, refolve 'em into their former State, and extricate
what has been added to 'em in the
Reprefentation: That is, we fliould know  the manner thereof ; whether, e.
g. they be mere Nature,
thro' this or that Medium, in a fore, or fide-View, withinfide or without,
to be feen from above or
below; or Nature rais'd and improv'd, for the better, or the worfe.----The
Cafe amounts to the fame as
the viewing of Objects in a Mirror ; where, unlefs the form of the Mirror
be known, viz. whether it be
plain, concave, convex, cylindrick, or conick, &c. we can make no Judgment
of the Magnitudes Figure, &cu
of the Objefts.
'TIS beyond my Purpofe to enter into the Nature of the feveral Methods of
Compofition abovemention'd,
I fhall only note, by the way, that the firif Writers in each, mark'd and
chalked out the Meafures for all that
came after them. The feveral Manners of compofing amount to fo many Arts;
which, we have already
Iliewn, are things in great meafure perfonal, and depend on the Genius or
Humour of the Inventors.
WE R E we to inquire who firft led up the way of Diflionaries, of late fo
much frequented ; fome little GramA'
marian, would, probably, be found at the head thereof: And from his particular
Views, Defigns, &c. if
known, one might probably deduce, not only the general Form, but even the
particular Circumifances of the
modern Productions under that Name. The Relation, however, extends both ways;
and if we can't deduce
the Nature of a DiCtionary from the Condition of the Author; we may the Conditions
of the Author from
the Nature of the Dictionary. Thus much, at leaft, we may fay, that he was
an Analyft; that his View was
not to improve or advance Knowledge, but to teach, or convey it; and that
he was hence led to unty the
Complexions or Bundles of Ideas his Predeceffors had made, and reduce 'em
to their natural parity; which is
all that is effential to a Diftionarift. Probably this was in the early Days
of the Phaenician or Egyptian Sages,
when Words were more complex and obfcure than now; and myftic Symbols and
Hieroglyphics obtain'd;
fo that an Explication of their Marks or Words, might amount to a Revelation
of their whole inner Philofo-
phy: In which Cafe, inftead of a Grammarian, we muff put perhaps a Magus,
a Myfles, or Bracbman at the
head of Diftionaries. Indeed this feems the more probable ; for that a grammatical
Diftionary could only have
place, where a Language was already become very copious, and many Synonyma's
got into it; or where the
People of one Language were defirous to learn that of another: which we have
no reafon to think could be
very early, till much Commerce and Communication had made it neceffary.
W HEN a Path is once made, Men are naturally difpofed to follow it; even
tho it be not the moft con-
venient: Numbers will enlarge, and widen, or even make it ftraighter and
eafier; but 'tis odds they don't
alter its Courfe. To deviate from it, is only for the Ignorant and Irregular;
Perfons who don't well know
it, or are too licentious to keep it. And hence the Alterations and Improvements
made in the feveral Arts,
are chiefly owing to People of thofe CharaCters.  There is fcarce a more
powerful Principle in Nature than
that of Imitation, which not only leads us to do what we fee others do, but
as they do it. 'Tis true there
are Exceptions from every Rule: there are Heteroclites, Perfons in good meafure
exempted from the Influence
of this Principle ; and 'tis happy there are ; witnefs fuch as Paracelfus,
Hobbes, Leibnitz, &c. In effeCt, If an
Art were firft broached by an happy Genius, it is afterwards cultivated,
on his Principles, to advantage; other-
wife not: and it may wait long for the anomalous Hand of fome Reformer, to
fet it to rights. Some of our Arts
have met with fuch Hands, others ftill want 'em.
WERE we, now, to give an abfolute and confiftent Definition of a Difionary;
we fhould -fay, " It is a
Colle~tion of Definitions of the Words of a Language."--Whence, according
to the different kinds of Words
and Definitions above laid down, i. e. according to the different Matter,
and the different View wherein fuch
Matter is confidered, will arife different forts of DiCtionaries: Grammatical,
as the common Diftionaries of
Languages, which for one Word fubflitute another of equal import, but more
obvious fenfe: Philofophical, which
give the general Force or Effect of the Words, or what is common to 'em in
all the Occafions where they occur:
and 9iecbnical, which give the particular Senfe attach'd to 'em in fome one
or more Arts.
B UT, in truth, this is a little chimerical ; and is to forget what has been
already faid. Tho we have
Ditionaries under all thefe Tides; it would perhaps be hard to find any conformable
to this Partition ; which
is not fo much taken from what really is, as what might, or lhould be. DiCtionariffs
are far from confidering
their Subje&t fo clofely, or confining themfelves to fo narrow, tho direCt,
a Channel: They muff have more
room; and think themfelves privileg'd by the general Quality of Lexicographers,
to ufe all kinds of Defini-
tions promifcuoufly. 'Tis no wonder they Ihould not keep to Views which they
had not, and which could
only arife from Refearches they never made. While the Notions of Term and
Art, remain'd yet in the
Rubbifh they were left by the Schoolmen; thofe of Definition and Difionary
muft needs be vague and arbi-
trary enough; and the Diftionarifts and Expofitors, profited by an Embarrafs
it was their Bufinefs to have
remov'd. They have not only built on it, but improv'd it, by a continual
varying and confounding of Views,
imperfeCt Enumerations, &c.
'TIS not to be imagin'd, the Mifchiefs, and Inconveniences that have arofe
from this fingle Head; the
great Uncertainty it has introduc'd into Language; and the Obftade it has
been to the Improvement thereof.
'Tis certain it has, in great meafure, defeated the Intention of Speech s
and turn'd Knowledge which that
was to be the Medium of, into Jargon and Controverfy. All ;the Confufion
of Babel. is brought upon us
hereby; and People of the fame Country, nay the fame Profeffion, no longer
underftand one another.----The
EffeCt is, that our Knowledge is grown into little other, than that of Peoples
Mifunderfcandings or Mifappre-
henfions of one another; which is the only kind of Knowledge that grows;
and which will for ever grow:
there being the Seeds already laid of fuch Difputes as, : according to the
ordinary fpreading of fuch things,
muff overshadow, and ftarve every thing elfe. If all Men meant precifely
the fame thing by the fame Name;
there would be no room for their differing, upon any Point, either in Philofophy
or any thing ele: There
is no more poffibility of feeing the Relations of Thihgs to each other, differently;
than of altering their Na-
ture, and overturning the Syftem. Relations of Ideas are as immutable as
the Creator's Will.-Error, in ef-
feft, is no natural Produftion; nor is there any direly way of coming at
it: We muft go about for it; and
find fome Law of Nature, to put it in our Power'  So that Error is in one
fenfe Truth ere it takes place;
Qnly 'tis not the Truth it is taken for.
f                                         THE

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