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OF UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE FOR THE PEOPLE,
J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by
J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
\HE design of this work, as explained in the Notice prefixed to the first volume, is that of a DICTIONARY OF UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE FOR THE PEOPLE-not a mere collection of elaborate treatises in alphabetic order, but a work to be readily consulted as a DICTIONARY on every subject on which people generally require some distinct informationno article being longer than was absolutely necessary. Commenced in 1859, the work is now brought to a close in 1868, and the Editors confidently point to the Ten volumes of which it is composed, as forming the most COMPREHENSIVE as it certainly is the CHEAPEST ENCYCLOPEDIA ever issued in the United Kingdom.
The original plan, as exemplified in the first volume, has been strictly adhered to throughout; and if, as the work proceeded, there has been any change in the method or quality of the execution, it may at least be affirmed that the change has not been for the After some experience, it became easier to find the person specially qualified to write a particular kind of article, and thus the circle of contributors became widened, and the distribution of the work more specialised. It was also seen to be desirable, in regard to certain classes of subjects, to admit a rather ampler selection of heads. This has been effected without increasing the scale of the work, not so much by less full treatment of the subjects, as by increased care in condensing the statements and omitting everything superfluous.
It will be observed that in the earlier volumes there are fewer notices of places than in the later. These and other deficiencies in the Geographical department, have, as far as possible, been remedied in the SUPPLEMENT; So that the ENCYCLOPEDIA forms a complete Gazetteer. The minuteness of a special geographical dictionary is, of course, not to be expected: with regard to towns, for instance, it may be well to state, in order to prevent disappointment, that, as a rule, no place with a population under 3000 in the United Kingdom, or under 5000 in other parts of the world, need be looked for under its own name, unless it be historically or otherwise noteworthy. But towns, rivers, &c. of secondary importance mentioned anywhere in the work find a place in the Index, and thus a clue is given to some information regarding them, were it only their whereabouts on the map.
In like manner, in the department of Biography, the limited scale of the work made it necessary to exclude many names which would be deserving of record in an exhaustive biographical dictionary. The intention has been to include only the more prominent actors and thinkers, dead and living, especially such as have attained extensive celebrity. The difficulty of making such a selection is known only to those who have tried it; and
the Editors were prepared to have the judiciousness of their choice frequently questioned. In settling relative claims to distinction, the judgment depends much on the special pursuits or sphere of thought of the judge. Of the omitted names to which attention has been kindly called by correspondents, several have, on reconsideration, been introduced into the SUPPLEMENT.
Natural History has been copiously treated. Without any attempt at embracing a complete exhibition of the three kingdoms of nature, the aim has been to give some account of every class of objects having a general interest, more especially such as are in any way of use in the economy of life.
The articles descriptive of the structure and functions of the human body have been selected and treated mainly with a view to illustrate the laws of health. The subject of Health and Disease has received more attention relatively than is usual in such works; and the articles of this class will form a pretty complete Dictionary of Domestic Medicine. How important it is that some knowledge on these matters should be widely diffused, is becoming more and more recognised. The directions given in regard to treatment are chiefly meant for those cases of sudden illness or injury where lay practice is necessitated by the absence of professional assistance. But prevention is better than cure; and the chief advantage of a generally diffused knowledge of the nature and causes of diseases is, that it teaches people how to avoid them. A review of what has been done in recent years for the preservation of the health of communities, is given at some length in the SUPPLEMENT, under the head of SANITARY SCIENCE.
Of the Sciences, the least adapted to encyclopædic treatment is Mathematics. All terms of common occurrence, however, have been introduced, and a brief exposition of the subjects given, so far as could be done in an elementary way.
Natural Philosophy has received ample attention, and all the leading doctrines and facts of general interest will be found under their appropriate heads, treated in a popular way and divested as far as possible of the technicalities of mathematics.
Chemistry, some knowledge of which is becoming daily more indispensable in all departments of life, receives a comparatively large space. Prominence has been given to those points of the subject that have either a direct practical bearing or a special scientific interest. During the progress of the work, several changes in the nomenclature and notation of the science have come into general use; but it was thought better to preserve uniformity in the use of terms and symbols to the end, and to give an account of the changes in the SUPPLEMENT.
A distinctive feature of this ENCYCLOPEDIA, it is believed, will be found to lie in the number of articles devoted to religious beliefs and speculative opinions, and in the way in which these topics are handled. The principle followed has been, not to pronounce an opinion for or against a particular doctrine, but to give a true and unprejudiced account of it. To do this, however, in regard to matters of still living controversy, on which almost every one has more or less of a personal feeling, is next to impossible; and therefore the plan has been adopted of giving the opposing views. wherever it was