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256 Goodrich's Edition of Webster's Dictionary. [Jan.
6. An American Dictionary of the English Language; con
taining the whole Vocabulary of the First Edition_in Two Volumes Quarto; the Entire Corrections and Improvements of the Second Edition in Two Volumes Royal Octavo; to which is prefixed an Introductory Dissertation on the Origin, History, and Connection of the Languages of Western Asia and Europe, with an Explanation of the Principles on which Languages are formed. By NOAH WEBSTER, LL. D., Member of the American Philosophical Society, &c., &c. Revised and enlarged, by CHAUNCEY A. GOODRICH, Professor in Yale College. With Pronouncing Vocabularies of Scripture, Classical, and Geographical Names. Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam. 1848. 4to. pp. 1367.
WE have copied not more than half of the truly formidable title-page of this huge volume, though our readers may be of opinion that a large portion even of the matter which we have transcribed would find a more appropriate place, if anywhere, in the preface than in the frontispiece to the book. And since we have begun with a criticism on the first leaf, it may be as well to say, that the patriotic sentiment which led Dr. Webster to call his great work an" American Dictionary of the English Language' has exposed him to the reproach, for which there is but little foundation, of wishing to set up a different standard for the use of words in this country from that which obtains in the mother land. His variations from good English usage, which after all are not numerous, though they have excited much comment, are attributable not so much to national feeling, as to the pride of original research and to independence of personal opinion. He was not apt to submit lightly to authority of any kind, when it conflicted with his own notions of what was required by analogy, or etymology, or a reasonable desire for the gradual purification of our language from its numerous anomalies in spelling and pronunciation. We like him all the better for his manful defence of many imputed Americanisms, and for his disposition to consider good American authors as at least equally entitled with their English brethren of the same class, period, and reputation, to decide what good usage is, and how strictly its laws are to be enforced. We also respect his manliness, though we may distrust his judgment, for boldly writing some words as he deemed they ought to be written, though the true orthography had not the sanction of a single author of any note on either side of the Atlantic. Thus he discards comptroller in favor of controller,
though usage is almost universal against the latter form, when it has the legal or technical meaning. He rejects disannul and unloose, on account of the superfluous syllable in each, though the latter has the authority of Shakspeare and our common version of the Scriptures. But, says Dr. Webster, in his decisive way, "no lexicographer, knowing the proper origin of these words, can be justified in giving support to such outrageous deviations from etymology. They are a reproach to the literature of the nation." Yet this use of an additional syllable with simply an intensive force, instead of its usual negative or privative meaning, is not without precedent in other languages, especially in Greek. In his haste to Anglicize the spelling of some words which have long been adopted into our language, he writes maneuver and reconnoiter, though he had no authority to quote for the alteration, and his argument in favor of it has not had effect enough to change the usage. In most, if not all, of these cases, the present editor has quietly replaced the old form by the side of Dr. Webster's innovation, leaving the reader to make his own choice between them. Sometimes this is done at the expense of considerable repetition, the whole of the illustrative and explanatory matter being given under both forms of the word.
But our purpose is not now to review a work so well known as Dr. Webster's Dictionary, but simply to commend the present edition of it, with its copious additions to the text, as a highly val uable publication. Great labor has been bestowed upon it, and all the alterations and articles that have been added, so far as we have noticed them, are great improvements. The chief value of the work consists in its full and accurate definitions, and the complete exhibition of the etymology of the language, though scholars will not always assent to Dr. Webster's opinions in this particular; his erudition was immense, but not always accurate. In respect to pronunciation, it is not so complete, nor do we consider it so accurate, as Mr. Worcester's admirable Dictionary. The mechanical execution of the book deserves all praise, the type being very distinct, the paper of good quality, and the binding serviceable. The quarto form is not so convenient for use as the octavo, but an equal quantity of matter could not be given in any other shape, except in two or more volumes, and such a division is intolerable for a dictionary which is to be in constant We hope that it will obtain a wide and profitable circula
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