« AnteriorContinuar »
Perhaps about other characteris- ral in the army, 'must be supposed tics a devotee of the palæontolo-. to bave been acquainted with his gical branch of geology has the own profession, but who showed next claim, in virtue of its being by his blundering translation that a matter of importance that the he knew nothing whatever of his, animal's remains have or have not M. Oude's. His pupil, the genial been found in certain stratifications. Soyer, took up the same tone. His Leather next comes in; for sheep- practice was in the high arts, and he skin, though abhorred of all book- added to it what great artists have collectors, has an important place sometimes done-the recording of in the leather market. Perhaps his own practice of bis art, in one of the most curious machines literature. The sheep has a large in existence is one for splitting part in it. As has been well resheepskins, for the purpose of con- marked, our language presents an verting them into material for mak- enduring memorial of the differ: ing kid gloves. Taking a long stride, ence between the Norman and the we come to the political economist Saxon in the French derivation of and the ethnical philosopher, who the flesh which comes to the table, have a great deal to say about now and the Saxon name of the animal mad tribes, and about the influence which had to be herded by the son of converting cottage-holdings into of the soil. Mutton it is, in M. sheepwalks. We are not yet done Oude's and M. Soyer's nomenclawith the claimants. Perhaps pas- ture; but still it is, both in science toral poetry may put in a modest and common British phraseology, request for consideration. Eikono- of or belonging to the sheep. graphy will put in a large one, forThere stands for discussion the the agnus is there almost supreme question, whether the proper kind Then there is heraldry, where we of encyclopædia is that which may have to deal with a mouton teaches the fundamental parts of or, passant regardant. There is a all branches of knowledge, or is systematic work on the heraldry of that which, merely gives one an imfishes. Whether there be or not, mediate explanation of all things in impartiality dictates that there heaven and earth in alphabetical ought to be such a work on the order? Perhaps the settlement of heraldry of quadrupeds.
this, as of many like questions, may There still remains a department, be, that each is good of its kind, and that by no means the least im- and for its own purposes. The portant. The late illustrious cook, scholar and investigator does not, Eustace Oude, in his introductory perhaps, consider the purposes for remarks on bis great work, re which other persons desire an ency. marked that, no man was more clopædia. They look to it as to a dependent on the proper cultiva- complete library of all knowledge, tion of his art, or under deeper ob- certified under a competent autho. ligations for the triumphs he had rity to be sound. They are men himself accomplished in it, than with their hands and heads full of those persons who, because they practical affairs during the chief happened to be distinguished in hours of their life; they have not other arts or sciences, thought pro- time, therefore, to pick and choose per to speak disparagingly of his, among the best instructors in the He complained especially that he various departments of human had been compelled to undergo the knowledge, but they wish to have it drudgery of acquiring the English in their power to dip into chemislanguage for the purpose of ren- try, electricity, geology, and other dering his chief work known to the weighty portions of knowledge, and English people, because it had been to get at them in perfection, with translated by a gentleman who, the latest intelligence and in the holding the commission of a gene best shape. The Encyclopædia
Britannica' professes to supply them the Trevoux is positively seductive, with this, and they take it. Instead and we linger about it to the detriof wandering at large among books, ment of our progress with the matthe sufficiency and accuracy of which ter in hand. It is like a garden full they are unable to estimate, they of varied and well-flavoured fruits. have here each element of knowledge You try one after another; all are laid before them, perhaps, by an excellent, and you cannot go away anthor whose name is a sufficient when you should. Here we have guarantee for his matter -- at all learning and seience all in their events, by one whom the editor has proper place. But besides that, we guaranteed to be competent to his have quaint superstitions, proverbs, task.
mots, provincial customs, and anecOn the other hand, the reader dotes of all kinds. It seems strange with a large library, with special that a book, dealing in so lively favourites of his own in the depart- a manner with the world, should ments in which he reads, will prefer have come forth from the secluded something that approaches nearer retreat of a body of ecclesiastics; to the dictionary-something that but then they were Jesuits, and readily supplies him with names, consequently bound to know every. dates, and other reminiscences, and thing past and present-ay, and tells him where to turn for full- future, if they could. er particulars. A work like the Trevoux is the name of a small
Penny Cyclopædia' is the one for town on the banks of the Saone. him, if he can get over the dignified It is well to keep this in view, bescholar's objection to its plebeian cause lately, in a professedly very name. This, we have no doubt, has learned quarter--no matter where been much against its influence --we saw mention made of the in the educated and consequential works of Bayle, Moreri, and Treworld. In fact, it is one of the few voux. Of the method in which the instances of a book which, instead dictionary became enriched Isaac of beginning with pompous profes- D’Israeli gives this pleasant acsions which were not fulfilled, en- count-"The work in the progress larged on the humble intention of of a century evidently became a those who commenced it. It hap favourite receptacle with men of pened, in fact, to fall into the letters in France, who eagerly conhands of two enthusiasts, Charles tributed the smallest or largest arKnight and George Long. It was ticles with a zeal honourable to intended to be a mere light popular literature and most useful to the work, skimming science and litera- public. They made this dictionary ture for penny purchasers; but it their commonplace-book for all their was made a scholarly work, in which curious acquisitions; every one comsome of the ablest men of the day petent to write a short article, prein their special departments par- serving an important fact, did not took
aspire to complete the dictionary, But it is possible to come still or even an entire article in it; but nearer to the notion of the mere it was a treasure in which such dictionary of general knowledge mites collected together formed its or all works of this class, indeed wealth."* of all works of reference generally, The work, by the way, which in commend us to the Dictionary of our esteem has at the present day Trevoux, that wondrous magazine the greatest resemblance to the Treof learning and variety. Unlike the voux, has turned up under a title, cold methodical instructors which the popular tenor of which would we dip into for what we want, and nor have led us to expect itjump out of again as fast as possible, Chambers's Encyclopaedia of Use.
* Curiosities of Literature,' iii. 231.
ful Knowledge for the People, and the four quarters make the There are some things in it apt to world. In biography, however, prejudice one against it—as the every man is on his own hook, as woodcuts tending more to decora- the saying is. There are events in tion than exposition, and the intro, which more than one man has parduction of the lives of contemporary taken, and in which one man has persons. But for all that, it is a been leader, and others the mere compendium of learned and curious assistants ; and some method of matter widely varied. This is to be reference may be necessary in such attributed to the sagacious choice instances to prevent repetition, which the publishers have made in But still all the actors, high and putting it into the hands of Mr. low, have separate individualities Andrew Findlater as editor. The Calais and Bordeaux are parts of secret of his success is, that he is France, but Pichegru and Ney were a genial scholar with a large circle not parts of Napoleon, however of friends, who like him for his much their destinies may have deaccurate and extensive learning and pended on him. for his good-fellowship.
Hence there is more reason for a his eye upon the special qualities systematic mind in a geographical of every person he is brought in than in a biographical work of recontact with, and draws virtue out ference. The influence of this seems of him. Thus, instead of being to have shown itself in the quarters elaborately compiled by dunces, the whence such works have come. The brief notice of perhaps a dozen French are naturally, good biolines, treating of some recondite graphers. Their memoirs, in which matter, has been dropped to him in po other literature approaches theirs, a note from the man of all others are the esssence of readable biobest acquainted with the matter on graphical literature. There may be which it deals. The thing is easily questions as to what nation has prodone, and the man has a pleasant duced the very best biographical way with him which baffles refusal. work, but there can be none that Hence, like the Trevoux, the work the best collections of biographies he superintends is becoming a are the French. On the other treasury in which such mites of hand, the Germans, who feel themlearning brought together form selves nothing if not philosophical the wealth. It is an instance of and systematic, seem to shun biohow much may be done for the graphy in the bulk. We are aware world by the selection for such of no good general biographical a charge of a man who will not dictionary in their language, though make it a drudgery, but a pur- we have no right to deny that there suit and pride. It was thus that may be such a thing. Their cravLeers, a Dutch publisher, selected ing after logical completeness, howPeter Bayle to be the cditor of the ever, must be sadly outraged in dictionary which he projected. such a work. They cannot round
Two departments have been ac- off biographies, as they may other customed by long usage to start departments of knowledge, by mergoff from the encyclopædia and de- ing the particulars in the generalimand complete systems of their ties. Every man is a separate unit, own - geography and biography. entitled to be heard. However These are essentially distinct in large may be the number, and excharacter. Geography retains the tensive the class embraced within a character originally given to the biographical dictionary, there will encyclopædia, as a system in which still be many outside who are not all the parts converge to one centre, separated by any broad and disEvery province is part of a country, tinct line from the favoured names. every country is part of a quarter, It is characteristic that in a Ger
man book we have the most com- cidedly in favour of this third plete specimen of a biographical estate of the alphabet, which, in dictionary extant, but it is limited other instances, exhausted editors to authors. This is the 'Allgemeines have got through any way, hustling Gelehrten Lexicon' of Jöcher, with them up together in a sort of ruck, its supplement by Adelung, the like the common toasts at a festival great lexicographer — a supplement after the orators have done and the which is more valuable than the great folks departed. book to which it is appended. It But the lower grades of the algives an extremely brief record of phabet are subject to a more serieach author, with a list of his pub- ous calamity still. Many ambitious lications; and the titles of these works break down before reaching are given with extreme skill, so as them. This calamity overtook the amply to identify each book with- earliest dictionary—that of Photius, out giving place to the prolixities which stopped at R. We have alin which demonstrative authors ready referred to such a catastrophe sometimes indulge. It has hardly having overtaken Adelung's supever been known that a person has plement to Jöcher. The great gone to this lexicon for anything Biographica Britannica' of Dr. within what it professes to give, Kippis only reached letter F. A and come away disappointed. But still more signal failure overtook alas for human aspirations after the effort of the Society for the perfection! it is incomplete — the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge to supplemental author having died in make the best biographical dictionletter R.
·ary in the world. A magnificent This leads us to the consideration work it certainly would have been. of a gross injustice perpetrated by There exists a fragment of it, somethe alphabeticals in general, and times perbaps to be contemplated especially by the biographical class, by the scholar with admiration at which, in casting a slight on certain the grandeur of the design, as the initials, casts a slight also on the sculptor has looked at the Torso, or persons they represent. It scarcely the archæologist at the Cathedral ever happens, owing to the kind of Cologne, only the literary fragof pressure already adverted to, and ment bears a far smaller proportion to several other causes, that the to the design. It consists of seven editor of an alphabetical gives, his octavo volumes, very closely printconcluding articles the same space ed; and how far do they reach? in proportion to their claims as he The length of letter A-no farther. gives to the early. After a time If this fragment be compared with he feels that he is getting beyond the Biographie Universelle' or bounds, and has to pull in ever the 'Biographie Générale,' which tighter and tighter to the close. DOW hold, as rivals, the foremost The Germans, in their ingenious place in their class, the superiority systematisation, have tried a remedy of the English work in completefor this. The great lexicon pub- ness and compactness becomes at lished by Ersch and Gruber, and once conspicuous. It was put unsteadily marching on to the filling der the management of Mr. George of some three hundred quarto vol- Long, a ripe scholar, a good organumes, follows an alphabet split in iser, and a strict disciplinarian. It two places, so that three parts go is said that his troops felt a sort of on simultaneously. A to G is in relief when their functions came to the hand of one editor, with a a premature conclusion. A sense group of followers, H to P has of duty, and an emulous desire to another, and R to the rest of the co-operate and to bring the work up alphabet has a third. The effect to the high standard which he had of this arrangement must be de- set, kept them at their work dog.
gedly; but it was not of the kind The pains taken to obtain the serwhich satisfied the popular pen, vices of those who had become adepts or even the philosophical and medi in specialties was worthy of the amtative. All powers of rhetoric and bitious character of the work. For sentiment were nipped in the bud, instance, in the article "Aristotle," to leave room for dates, places, and the knowledge of Trendelenburg, the titles of books. Every attempt the great German apostle of the at an excursion on a favourite hobby Aristotelian logic, was secured. He was stopped at the outset. In a wrote it in German, and the editor work which threatened to spread be- translated it into English. Like yond two hundred considerable vol- Adelung, the editor aimed at comumes, there might surely, it was pleteness in the literary department, supposed, be a corner for storing the only one admitting of a fixed away a a few judicious reflections be- criterion. Every man charged, on side the hard facts which the com reliable grounds, with having writpiler had to gather up with pains ten a book, was to be there, howand labour ; but the luxury was ever summarily dismissed, and this no more to be permitted than a would have made a universal biblidangerous indulgence to a soldier ography as well as biography. The on the march. We can recall an illustrious families, not monarchs, instance of the very absolute man- but sufficiently important to have ner in which the general disci. put their mark on history, were to plined all who came under his have been grouped, those which command, whether regular troops diverged into separate names and or volunteers. A scholar, whose titles being referred to under the studies ran in a peculiar and rather parent stem. This was the plan narrow line, had set before him as adopted in Moreri's Dictionary, and his idol another who had preceded is the only way to let us see what him in the same school of inquiry, such families as the Borgias, the He had spent some appreciable part Guises, and the Montmorencies acof his life in collecting materials tually were. Isolated from the rest, for a biography of his master. It many members of such houses had was a project in which no enlight- not distinction enough to be worthy ened publisher had experienced an of separate record, but as items excessive eagerness to embark. The they went to make up the importadvantage of incorporating into it- ance of the house, therefore the self a memoir, enriched with all the house was the thing to be recorded original and exclusive information in a work professing to deal only so collected, was offered to the new with what was remarkable and project if a suitable space could be worthy of the world's remembrance. spared. He was told that, in the But, like the Great Eastern, the special circumstances, some allow- project was too large and compliance would be made, and that he cated to be floated with the means would be permitted to occupy a at the disposal of the projectors, full half page instead of being re: The editor left the helm, with stricted to a few lines !
growl that the class who would For the great leaders of the world, expected to give welcome aid to however, there was reserved space such a book preferred spending enough to tell the source and na- their superfluous money on plush ture of their influence, and in the and shoulder-knots. Whether such division of labour these elements a book is ever to be completed in might be given to a special student the English language or not, it will of them, while the affair of dates not be attempted again speedily and the sequence of actions were put after the warning from the past. into the hands of one trained in Mr. Murray of Albemarle Street, the systematic method of the book. looking at the large lines on which