University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
History of Science and Technology

Page View

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 xxii

r~~~ii ~~The.                         R-     F A        ~CE'
T.HI EWeaknefs of our Reafon, which we complain fo much of, is in great meafure
idle; the Fault is
'foreign, and lies wholly in the Confufion of Language; which would not only
puzzle us, but the very Angels
in Heaven,.. to make any thing of:. Witners abundance 'of our Explications
of  'rinity, -Hyptaf1S, Subjan4e,
Accident, Facuty, Liberty, Caufe, Nature, Attration, &c. which Divines
and Philofophers fatigue them-
felves- fo much-a about. I am confident, that were the Almighty to infpire
us with a new Language, agreeable
to Things thlemfelvesm; it would amount to a Revelation ; and all our Duties,
and Relations would be vifible
therein. I-The Difeafe, in effed, has fpread fo far, that there is little
hopes of feeing it remov'd, or even al-
leviated, without a new Language, formed ex poft faflo, from what we now
perceive.---But Something of this
w ill com-e under Confideration hereafter; in the mean time we venture to
pronounce, that " The Reforma-
tion of Science, amounts to little more than the Reformation of Language."
T H ER E are two Manners of writing: In the one, which we may call Scientiyfcal,
we proceed from Ideas
and Things, to Words; that is, firft lay down the Thing, then the Name it
is called by -This is the way
of Difcovery, or Invention ; for that the Thing ought to be firft found before
it be named.  In this way,,
we come from Ignorance to Knowledge; from fimple and common Ideas, to complex
THE other, Didafic, juft the Converfe of the former; in which we go from
Words, and Sounds, to
Ideas, and Things; that is, begin with the Term, end with the Explanation.--This
is the hiftorical Way,
or the way of Teaching and Narration  of refolving the extraordinary Knowledge
of one Perfon, into the
ordinary of another; of diftributing artificial Complications, into their
fimple Ideas: and thus razing and
levelling again what Art had eredted.
THE Difionary comes under the latter Kind. It fuppofes the Advances and Difcoveries
made, iand comes
to explain or relate 'em. The Didionarift, like an Hiftorian, comes after
the Affair; and gives a Defcrip-
tion of what pafs'd.  The feveral terms, are fo many Subjeds, fuppofed to
be known to him; and which
he imparts to others, by a Detail of the Particulars thereof.---Indeed, the
Analogy between a Diftionory and
a Hi/lory, is clofer than People at firft flght may imagine: The Didtionarift
relates what has pafs'd with re-
gard to each of our Ideas, in the Coalitions, or Combinations that have been
made thereof: His Bufinefs is
to deliver the Progreffes made in the feveral Parts of Knowledge under his
Confideration, by an orderly Re-
trofpeft and Deduction of the Terms, from their prefent complex, to their
original fimple State.  The Dic-
tionary of an Art, is the proper' Hiflory of fuch Art: The Didionary of a
Language, the Hiftory of that
Language. The one relates that fuch an Art, or fuch and fuch Parts thereof,
ftand fo and fo; are managed
fo and fo; and the refult fo and fo: The other, that fuch and fuch a Word
is ufed as Synonymous to fuch and
fuch others.  The Didionarift is not fuppofed to have any hand in the Things
he relates; he is no more
concerned to make the Improvements, or eflablifh the Significations, than
the Hiftorian to atchieve the Tranf-
actions he relates.
T HE difference between what we commonly call the Hiftory of an Art, and
a Diaiomary thereof, is only
circumftantial; arifing from the different Views of the two Authors: The
one chiefly regards the Time and
Order when each Step, each Advance, was firft made, i. e. how it ftood with
refpedt to fuch and fuch )Eras,
or Periods of Time; and might more properly be called the Chronology of the
Art: the other regarding chief-
ly the ObJed or Intention of the Art, relates its prefent Conifitution, and
how it proceeds to attain the End
propofed. You may add, that the former primarily confiders what is paft,
or already advanced; the other
alfo what is prefent, or remains to be done: The one tells, e. g. how Mercury
finding a dead Tortoife on the
Shore, took its Shell, added Strings to it, and made it into a Lyre: The
other, how a Lyre is, or may be
made. And if you will likewife add this, that the Hiftory intermixes divers
foreign, and accidental Circum-
Rances with the Difcovery; which the Didionary abftrafts and fets afide,
and fo reduces it nearer to Science:
you will have the full and adequate Difference between 'em. Thus the making
of the firft Lyre is related
with fome Circumftances which have no place in the proper Strudure of the
Inflrument, and are therefore to
be omitted in the Didionary, which only takes in what belongs to the Art,
or Artifis in general; not what
belongs to fome one of 'em.
T HE whole, in effeSI, amounts to this, that the firfi time of doing a thing,
is related by the Iifltorian
with the feveral Particulars which in any wife, tho occafionally only and
remotely, affedted it: Whereas the
Didtionarift, coming afterward, keeps more clofely and feverely to the Point,
and relates nothing but what is
effential; that is, the firif time, the thing is confider'd as now arifing;
a new Production or Phaxnomenon,
from fome analogous Principle; and therefore we attend to the foreign Caufes
that brought it forth: whereas
afterwards, we confider it as arifing from the pre-exifting Theory, or Prefcriptions
of ArtiftIs, and thus refolve
the Caufe into the Art it felf.
ANY    other difference which there may feem to be between the two; is only
as to more or lefs parti-
cular; which, indeed, is a thing that embarraffes and amufes us on many other
occafions: Thus in mere civil
Hiftories, if one relates the Series of a Campaign, another the Bombardment
of a Town, and a third the
Wounding and Death of a general Officer; tho the two latter Subjeds be only
Parts of the former, yet the
firft will be faid to have compofed a Piece of Hiftory, the fecond a Piece
of Fortification, and the third a Piece of Chi-
rurgery. And yet there is no other difference between them, than between
the Geography of a Country, and
the Topography of a Village, or a Hillock; the Hiftory of a Nation, and the
Biography of a fingle Perfon.
T 0 fay no more, the Didtionary of an Art ftands in much the fame Relation
to the Hiftory thereof; that
the Hiftory of a People, does to the Lives of all the confiderable and aftive
Perfons therein. Their difference
is only as to the Point of Sight; the Eye being fuppofed fo near in the one
Cafe, as to fee the Parts dif-
tinctly, and in the other fo far off, as to take in the Whole completely:
whence the one gives you all the
Incidents; the other only the greater. In effet, the one is all concerted
to one point of view, moft favourable
to the Whole, and the great Parts; the other to many; the Eye being fhifted
for each Part, to furnihh an
adequate Reprefentation thereof. In the one Cafe, it is fuppofed within the
Work; fo as only to fee thofe
Parts next it, which neceffarily hide the reft ; in the other, 'tis without,
and can only take cognizance of thofe
which lie outwards: So that the one chiefly discovers how things Rtand within;
the other how they ftand with
regard to the adjacent ones,
l A M afraid to keep the Reader any longer in this painful way of Difquifition,
wherein we are obliged to
dig for every flep we take. It would doubtlefs feem a more agreeable, as,
well as more reputable Employment,
to be raifing things on high; than thus engaged in finking, and working under
ground: A Caffle in the Air
is an Objet of Pleafure to every body, while it laffs; and withal is eafily
rais'd, and at fmall Expences. Your
Mines and fubterranean Matters are mere drudgery, and Pioneers work ;I difficult
to carry on, dubious of Suc-
cefs, and overlooked when done. Being therefore arrived near the Surface,
we take this Opportunity to quit the
Courfe, and emerge to open Air.
A F T E R fo fevere an Inquiry into the Reafon, Nature, and Perfedions of
a Dicionary ; it may prove dan-
gerous and impolitick to fpeak any thing about the prefent one. From the
Defign of a Didionary in general,
to the adual Performance of any particular one, the Language muft be much
altered. A Man would make fine

Go up to Top of Page