« AnteriorContinuar »
It may seem surprising that the English, who have employed their talents successfully in every branch of literature, and in none more than in that of philology, should yet
have fallen below other nations in the study of their synonymes: it cannot however be denied that, whilst the French and Germans have had several considerable works on the subject, we have not a single writer who has treated it in a scientific manner adequate to its importance: not that I wish by this remark to depreciate the labours of those who have preceded me; but simply to assign it as a reason why I have now been induced to come forward with an attempt to fill up what is considered a chasm in English literature.
In the prosecution of my undertaking, I have profited by every thing which has been written in any language upon the subject; and although I always pursued my own train of thought, yet whenever 1 met with any thing deserving of notice I adopted it, and referred it to the author in a note. I had not proceeded far before I found it necessary to restrict myself in the choice of my materials; and accordingly laid it down as a rule not to compare any words together which were sufficiently distinguished from each other by striking features in their signification, such as abandon and quit, which require a comparison with others, though not necessarily with themselves; for the same reason I thought fit to limit myself, as a rule, to one authority for each word, unless where the case seemed to require further exemplification.
Although a work of this description does not afford much scope for system and arrangement, yet I laid down to myself the plan of arranging the words according to the extent or universality of their acceptation, placing those first which had the most general sense and application, and the rest in order. By this plan I found myself greatly aided in analysing their differences, and I trust that the reader will thereby be equally benefitted. In the choice of authorities I have been guided by various considerations ; namely, the appropriateness of the examples ; the classic purity of the author ; the justness of the sentiment; and, last of all, the variety of the writers : but I am persuaded that the reader will not be dissatisfied to find that I have shown a decided preference to such authors as Addison, Johnson, Dryden, Pope, Milton, &c. At the same time it is but just to observe that this selection of authorities has been made by an actual perusal of the authors, without the assistance of Johnson's Dictionary.
For the sentiments scattered through this work I offer no apology, although I am aware that they will not fall in with the views of many
may be competent to decide on its literary merits. I write not to please or displease any description of persons ; but I trust that what I have written according to the dictates of my mind will meet the approbation of those whose good opinion I am most solicitous to obtain. Should any object to the introduction of morality in a work of science, I beg them to consider, that a writer, whose business it was to mark the nice shades of distinction between words closely allied, could not do justice to his subject without entering into all the relations of society, and showing, from the acknowledged sense of many moral and religious terms, what has been the general sense of mankind on many of the most important questions which have agitated the world. My first object certainly has been to assist the philological inquirer in ascertaining the force and comprehension of the English language; yet I should have thought my work but half completed had I made it a mcro rogister of verbal distinctions. While others seize overy opportunity unblushingly to avow and zealously to propagate opinions destructive of good order, it would ill become any individual of contrary sentiments to shrink from stating his convictions, when called upon as he seems to be by an occasion like that which has now offered itself. As to the rest, I throw myself on the indulgence of the public, with the assurance that having used every endeavour to deserve their approbation, I shall not make an appeal to their candour in vain.
A Quarto Edition of the English SYNONYMES having now become desirable, to suit with his other works, the Author has for some time past occupied himself in making such additions and improvements, as he deems calculated materially to enhance its value as a work of criticism. The alphabetical arrangement of the words is exchanged for one of a more scientific character, arising from their alliance in sense or from the general nature of the subjects: thus affording the advantage of a more connected explanation of terms, more or less allied to each other. At the same time the purpose of reference is more fully answered by an Index so copious that the reader may immediately turn to the particular article sought for. The subject matter of several articles has been considerably enlarged, and such amplifications admitted as may serve to place the SYNONYMEs in a clearer point of view, particularly by comparing them with the corresponding words in the original languages whence they are derived. The English Quotations have likewise undergone several alterations both in their number and order, so as to adapt them to the other changes which have been introduced throughout the work.