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PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION.
T is now considerably more than a hundred years since EPHRAIM CHAMBERS gave to the world his Cyclopædia, or Universal Dictionary of Knowledge-the prototype, as it proved to be, of a number of similar works, in Britain as well as in other countries, which must have contributed in no small measure to increase the sum of general intelligence. In nearly all these works there has been a tendency to depart from the plan of their celebrated original, as concerns some of the great departments of science, literature, and his tory; these being usually presented, not under a variety of specific heads, as they commonly occur to our minds when information is required, but aggregated in large and formal treatises, such as would in themselves form books of considerable bulk. By such a course it is manifest that the serviceableness of an Encyclopædia as a dictionary for reference is greatly impaired, whatever may be the advantages which on other points are gained.
With a view to bring back the Encyclopædia to its original purpose of a Dictionary of Knowledge, even down to matters of familiar conversation, the Germans formed the plan of their Conversations Lexicon, a work which, extending to a long series of volumes, has passed through ten editions, and obtained a world-wide celebrity. Believing that a translation of the latest edition of that well-conceived and laboriously executed work would be generally acceptable, the Editors made an arrangement for that purpose with the proprietor, Mr. Brockhaus of Leipsic. After some time, however, had been spent in translating, the task of adapting the information to English requirements was found so difficult, that the resolution was taken to bring out a substantially new work, following in its construction the admirable plan of the Conversations-Lexicon, but making use of its valuable matter, only so far as it might be found suitable.
CHAMBERS'S ENCYCLOPÆDIA, therefore, although constructed on the basis of the latest edition of the Conversations-Lexicon, is, in no part, a mere translation of that work. All that specially relates to Great Britain and her colonies, as well as to the states of North and South America, is collected from new and more direct sources. The articles also on the physical sciences and practical arts receive greater prominence than in the German work, and are nearly all original, being mostly the work of contributors having special knowledge of the subjects. Even in the articles of the Conversations-Lexicon relating to Germany and other continental countries, as well as to subjects of a universal interest, the lapse of time (now ten years) since the publication of that work began, as well as the difference in the relative importance of the same subject in different countries, has rendered great alterations necessary in order to adapt the information to the present time and to Great Britain. The employment of illustrative engravings and maps is another feature in which the present work differs from the German.
The general character of the work, now thus far advanced, is indicated by its title-A Dictionary of Universal Knowledge for the People. The several topics are not handled with a view to the technical instruction of those who have to make a special study of particular branches of knowledge or art. The information given may be characterized as non-professional, embracing those points of the several subjects which every intelligent man or woman may have occasion to speak or think about. At the same time, every effort is made that the statements, so far as they go, shall be precise and scientifically accurate. One great aim in the arrangement of the work has been to render it easy of consultation. It is expressly a Dictionary, in one alphabet, as distinguished on the one hand from a collection of exhaustive treatises, and, on the other, from a set of Dictionaries of special branches of knowledge. To save the necessity of wading through a long treatise in order to find, perhaps, a single fact, the various masses of systematic knowledge have been broken down, as it were, to as great a degree as is consistent with the separate explanation of the several fragments. In the greater number of articles, however, there will be found copious references to other heads with which they stand in natural connection; and thus, while a single fact is readily found, its relation to other facts is not lost sight of, It will be observed, that by means of accentuation, some assistance is given in the pronouncing of the proper names which form the heads of the articles. At the conclusion of the work, it is intended to give a copious General Index, referring not only to the distinct articles, but to subjects casually noticed-an arrangement which cannot fail to be of considerable use to those who wish to consult the work on many matters of interest. W. & R. CHAMBERS.
EDINBURGH, March 31, 1860.
PREFACE TO REVISED EDITION OF 1874.
Ever since the completion of CHAMBERS'S ENCYCLOPÆDIA in 1868, alterations have been made from time to time in the successive reprints of sheets, so as to meet the more important changes taking place. But within the last eighteen months, the whole of the articles have undergone thorough revision, and have been brought up to the present time; not a few of them having been entirely re-written. The present re-issue is thus virtually a New Edition, and will, it is hoped, be found to represent the actual state of things. It is proper to add, that the revision has been effected under the careful superintendence of ANDREW FINDLATER, LL.D., who has throughout taken charge of the work, and imparted to it that practically useful character which has rendered it so universally acceptable. W. & R. CHAMBERS.
EDINBURGH, November 1874.
of 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 information-no 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-ENCYCLOPÆDIA 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 worse. 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 specialized. 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 ENCYCLOPÆDIA 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 iv
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 recognized. 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 ENCYCLOPÆDIA, 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 practicable, as stated by their respective adherents. Thus, the articles on the doctrines and rites of the Roman Catholic Church are written by a Roman Catholic scholar; the Unitarian scheme of doctrine by a Unitarian; and the Secularists have been allowed to state their own case. In carrying out this principle, it has sometimes been necessary to employ two writers on one article. The account of the REFORMATION, for instance, is naturally written by a Protestant; but our conception of the movement is not complete until we know how the same events are looked upon by intelligent adherents of the Church of Rome; and accordingly, a paragraph is added written from the Roman Catholic point of view. Similarly, in the article BISHOP, the Episcopal and Presbyterian theories of the origin and nature of that office are from different pens. The principle of getting an account of a system or doctrine from a believer in it has not been confined to religion; it has been acted on in regard to HOMOEOPATHY, HYDROPATHY, and many other subjects. The Editors feel confident that in thus securing the most favorable representation of both sides of a controversy, they were doing the best in their power for the ultimate prevalence of the truth. We are not in a position to judge rightly between two opinions until we know exactly what they are; and this we can do only by having both before us in the light in which they appear to those that hold them.
The great world of thought of the East, with its hundreds of millions of subtle intellects and prolific imaginations, has remained hitherto almost a sealed book in the West, except to a few oriental scholars. Yet the British public might be expected to feel some interest in inquiring what kind of thoughts and fancies actuate the vast multitudes of their fellow-subjects in Hindustan-what gods they worship, and with what rites; what things seem good to them, and what evil; how, in short, they interpret the riddle of this world, and the part they play in it. The means of gratifying this curiosity, is now made more generally accessible than it has heretofore been, by the numerous articles, drawn from original sources on the religious and philosophic systems of India. (See the articles INDIA, section on Religion; PURANA, VEDA, VISHNU, VEDANTA, TRANSMIGRATION, BUDDHISM, LAMAISM, NIRVANA, &c.) Attention is also called to the original articles on Mohammedanism, and on its various schools, sects, and heresies (see MOHAMMEDANISM, KORAN, SUNNA, SHIITES, and others in the ENCYCLOPÆDIA proper, and particularly the articles MOHAMMEDAN SECTS, MOTAZALITES, ISMAILIS, SINCERE BRETHREN, &c. in the SUPPLEMENT*). The reader who has been accustomed to think of the Old Testament Scripture as the whole of Hebrew literature, will be able, from the articles on the TALMUD, HAGGADA, HALACHA, ESSENES, and others, to form some notion of the rich treasures of Jewish thought and learning that lie buried in the Talmudic writings and have only recently begun to attract attention.
True to its projected plan as a DICTIONARY OF UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE FOR THE PEOPLE, CHAMBERS'S ENCYCLOPÆDIA will be found to be especially rich in notices of miscellaneous matters. Some of the subjects introduced might perhaps be considered beneath the dignity of a book aspiring to a more severely scientific character; but all of them are, if not instructive, at least curious or entertaining, and likely to occur in the
course of reading or conversation. During the progress of the work, the Editors have received numerous
To meet the more important of the changes that have taken place since the publication of the ENCYCLO-
In the introductory Notice, it was stated that the plan of the work was contrived with a special view to
That in a work extending to 8320 pages, and consisting of upwards of 27,000 distinct articles, in the pro-
A list of the chief Contributors is given on a subsequent page. To this able staff, to whose special knowl-
Finally, it is right that the public should recognize, in ANDREW FINDLATER, LL.D., the ACTING EDITOR,
W. & R. CHAMBERS.
Postscript.-Since the foregoing Notice was written in 1868, CHAMBERS'S ENCYCLOPÆDIA has undergone
W. & R. CHAMBERS.
The process of revising CHAMBERS'S ENCYCLOPÆDIA is constantly carried on, thus keeping up the in-
*In the present edition, the articles of this SUPPLEMENT have been inserted in alphabetical order in the body of the work.
NOTE-The references to AMERICAN SUPPLEMENT in Volume I. will be found in Volume VIII.