Page images
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small]

startlea from the forest glade adjoining the track, but fortunately missed all the poor animals.

The Lamy depôt was a very good one-a pattern to all of its kind; and its superiority over the rest on the Atchison afforded proof that there was really no necessity for the discomforts we had been subjected to elsewhere. During supper the official till was forced and robbed of the little silver left in it. A few saloons at the back constituted the place.

It was a perfect night, and the air was scented by the aloes and other flowers which blossomed abundantly on the grassy hill-slopes, crowned with dark-foliaged trees and bathed in a flood of pure moonlight. Waiting for the train, which did not

in the night, and, despite the all-sufficing light of the brilliant moon, I saw nothing of the scenery, being for once relegated to an upper berth, where I missed the window glimpses of the skies and country, was smothered in dust from the open ventilators, and spent the night clutching frantically at the curtain-rod as the cars rocked wildly from side to side, down grade, the engineer making up time as usual. Before turning in I had my first view of some Indians. They pressed their faces close to the glass door, near which I stood, and their glistening eyes, long straight black hair, and red-skinned features were not uncomely. Of their “get up" I can say nothing, as their faces only were visible, and a


mutual grin of surprise on my part-for I had been quite unconscious of their presence--and amusement on theirs was all that passed between us. Early next morning we saw several others in the fields near by, who had evidently not become accustomed to the passage of the train, for, approaching eagerly, they would halt and turn back as the engineer sounded his whistle; one small boy fairly turned tail and clutched at his mother's blanket, hiding his face therein at a prolonged screech from the locomotive. They seemed a poverty-stricken lot, and the few adobe huts hereabout were of the simplest type and in the last stage of dilapidation.

After dawn the scenery grew more and more desert-like, and the prospects of two young girls and their male companion, who were set down in the midst of sand, a few tents, and that large accumulation of empty tinned-food cans that fringes every new settlement, did not seem enviable. Soon after the train drew up at the long open platform, which at that time constituted the terminus of the Southern Pacific at Deming. It was ten o'clock instead of eight a.m., and, with the mercury well in the nineties, a diet of greasy pork chops, unlimited flies, and limp-hot bread, was not inviting. Such was the breakfast served by a dirty coloured man in an old construction car or “caboose" on a side track. Even the sage-bush decotion called tea, poured out of tin cans into cups minus handles, proved an aggravation of the temperature. At Deming all baggage is re-checked, and you were then requested to superintend the transfer across the platform from one baggage car to the other. Our friends found to their dismay that the kleptomaniac had been to the fore in the night, for their

Saratoga was missing, and was proved to have been taken off at Albuquerque, a proceeding which involved collusion in the baggage car.

Its owner wired in all directions, and the upshot of the affair, which illustrates the dangers of the check system, was that it was recovered and returned intact at Los Angeles, after three days' detention, a result that was owing to his nationality and determination. A notice was posted up in the Pull

on the Southern Pacific that, although attendants were instructed to take every care of the property left in the sections, the company would not be responsible for its safety.

For at that time Deming was a stronghold or robbers, and it was risking a meeting with the “hands up” gentlemen to stray away from the group near the cars. Soon afterwards a determined sheriff came on the scene and executed twenty-five desperadoes with his revolver. There were two hundred and fifty deaths by violence in 1881. It is impossible for any Government to restrain such wild characters, the scum of all nations and every State, who flock into these hitherto inaccessible regions, perhaps a thousand miles away from the restraints of civilisation. Given a nucleus of responsible citizens and a determined marshal, and the district soon evolves into a respectable community. By now Deming is probably as safe as other young cities. A pleasant place of residence it can never be, sand and bare rugged mountains its only surroundings. Although of nascent importance as a railroad centre, it has a formidable rival in El Paso on the Texan and Old Mexican border, the junction of the Southern Pacific with the Texan Central and Mexican Central railroads.



LL who have carefully studied the English

[ocr errors]

the existing dictionaries. The art of making a really good, serviceable, comprehensive dictionary has not yet reached perfection. But those who feel a deep interest in this great subject rejoice in the knowledge that the prospect in this respect is

very much brighter now than it has ever been before in our literary. history. And all unacquainted with the fact who value the English tongue should be glad to learn that the first instalment of the most scientific, comprehensive, and scholarly dictionary of English ever compiled will shortly issue from the Clarendon Press.

The writer of this article recently enjoyed the privilege of a visit to the workshop where this great undertaking is carried on. He had the advantage of the master-worker's presence, and by his kindness was allowed to get some insight into the magnitude of the labour and the great

ness of the boon it will confer upon the nation when accomplished.

A stranger walking through the village of Mill Hill will see in a garden belonging to a quiet, old-fashioned house, a little iron building which he might readily be forgiven if he mistook for a diminutive village chapel. Probably the last object for which such a building would seem to him to be designed would be the production of a single book; yet there the work is being done which will in all probability supersede the dictionaries of Johnson, Richardson, Latham, and Webster, without in any degree lessening our indebtedness to those great lexicographers.

Great literary works like this are a growth. The value of the result depends upon the steadiness and progressiveness of the development. The day when any one toiler could compile a vocabulary of a language has long passed. Hence this work did not begin in the little iron building,


which Dr. Murray calls the “Scriptorium," nor did it originate with Dr. Murray. It is now nearly a generation old, and it is more than probable that another ten years must pass before the goal of completion is reached.

In 1857 Archbishop (then Dean) Trench read two papers before the Philological Society “On some Deficiencies in our English Dictionaries." Dealing with a subject very near the heart of many of his hearers, the result of the Dean's effort was to arouse the society to the determination that a vigorous effort should be made to “form a collection of words hitherto unregistered in the dictionaries of Johnson and Richardson.” The readers, seventy-six in number, who began the search for these words, included in their ranks such men as Key, Craik, Perowne, Hazlitt, Rossetti, Page Hopps, Lord Lyttelton, Lightfoot, Lubbock, Dowden, Lushington, and others.

As time passed this scheme was seen to be altogether too narrow. It was resolved to produce an entirely new work, and in 1858 Herbert Coleridge, the secretary of the Philological Society, became the first editor. An appeal for help to the general reading public met with such a ready response that the army of readers soon numbered one hundred and forty-seven in addition to a small company of American scholars. The hope was cherished that the first section of the dictionary would be published in two years' time. It is a striking illustration of the frequency in human labour of “the hope deferred” to find that that first section of the work has not yet seen the light. In this, as in many other departments of toil, the originators of the scheme laboured and other men entered into their labours.

There were many delays. Some of the readers were a hindrance rather than a help. Coleridge fell ill, and in 1861 died, his last work only two days before his death being to arrange some of the dictionary papers. He was succeeded in the editorship by Mr. Furnivall, and for some years the work went on with more or less speed. The speed, to the regret of all really interested in the work, became less and less. All editors will sympathise with Mr. Furnivall's question, “ Is there no punishment for illegible writing beyond the private maledictions of infuriated sub-editors ?” Readers failed to keep their engagements, subeditors died, all kinds of hindrances occurred, and after fourteen years had passed no part of the dictionary had appeared. A great mass of material had been gathered ; a good foundation had been laid ; hope was not dead, but the project for some years was dormant.

At length an editor, possessing in a high degree all needful qualities for carrying the work to a successful issue, was found in Dr. Murray, President of the Philological Society for 1879 and 1880, and author of the article on the English language in the “Encyclopædia Britannica." Voluntary effort is good and of immense value in all great undertakings of this kind. But in these-shall we call them degenerate ?-times a nucleus of commercial enterprise seems essential to success. Although the character of the work gives it a national claim, the difficulties in the way of State

aid were insurmountable. In this, on a smaller scale, as in the matter of the Revised Version, University sympathy and University capital came to the rescue.

The University of Oxford, through the delegates: of the Clarendon Press, are paying all the needful expenses, without which the work could not go, on, and the copyright of the completed dictionary will belong to them.

The inheritance to which Dr. Murray succeeded in 1879 might well have appalled him. Some vague notion of the Herculean toil he was undertaking may be obtained from a knowledge of the, fact that the literary material handed over to him, printed and in mss., amounted to more than two tons: in weight. Nor was it all neatly arranged and in a condition to allow of immediate progress. consisted of readers' quotations, of lists of subeditors, of newspaper comments, of matter more. or less relevant to the task in hand, but all needing careful examination.

It had gathered gradually in the house of Mr. Furnivall, and bid fair to leave scant room for the. proprietor. It was handed over to Dr. Murray in, sacks, in hampers, in bundles, in boxes, just as it had come to hand from readers and sub-editors, Here, as elsewhere, to reduce chaos to some kind of order was the first necessity, and in doing this. manifold experiences, pleasant and painful, had to be endured. In some cases the paper was covered with writing, but of such an illegible kind that Chinese would have been more useful, because forthat a translator might have been found. In other cases, what had been paper was now found to be a mouidy and decayed mass of useless substance, Ink had lost so much of its colour in places as to make deciphering as difficult as the reading a palimpsest. In one sack a mouse and her young family were found snugly and comfortably ena sconsed!

So much for the material handed over to Dr. Murray. There was much heaped up in different parts of the world, to which close search and inquiry had to be made if perchance it might be gathered in and prove useful. A clergyman in,

. Ireland was known to have undertaken the subediting of part of a letter. After much inquiry it was discovered that he had died some years ago, Further writing led his survivors to remember that he had been in the habit of busying himself with, papers and writing. The remnants were found, either over a stable or in a garret, and all that had not served to light fires came at last to hand. The. work here plainly had to be done over again.

Much material being lost in this and other ways, much never having come into existence by reason, of the failure on the part of many to keep their. promises, Dr. Murray speedily saw the need of a fresh call for help and a fresh appeal to all willing to aid in the great work. Between two and three millions of quotations had been extracted and written in slip form during twenty years. The editor soon saw that another million would be required. He asked for them three years ago, and now they are reposing either in the pigeonholes of the Scriptorium or in the studies of the. various sub-editors.

This reading for quotations is the indispensable first step in the dictionary making. Long lists of books were issued, and any person was at liberty to select one or more works, undertaking to give them careful reading. A special list was sent to each reader containing twelve directions, of which these were the most important:

Make a quotation for every word that strikes you as rare, obsolete, old-fashioned, new, peculiar, or used in a peculiar way."

Take special note of passages which show or imply that a word is either new and tentative, or needing explanation as obsolete or archaic, and which thus help to fix the date of its introduction or disuse.”

Of quotations, each written on a separate slip, of words used from the earliest stages of the language down to the present day, Dr. Murray has received in the last three years no less than one million, contributed by over eight hundred readers. He has been most anxious to steer quite clear of one great fault in all of his predecessors. Existing dictionaries contain many words that have never yet fallen from human lips. The early dictionary makers coined words freely, and their successors have copied them largely. Hence all mere dummy words—that is, those found only in dictionarieswill be carefully marked as such in the Philological Society's great work, and no word that has ever passed current as a living word will be denied a place. This, as we shall see later on, swells the number of words, but answers the true function of a dictionary—viz., to include as far as can be ascertained every word in the language.

When the sacks and bales and boxes and bundles of material new and old began to heap themselves up in every available part of Dr. Murray's house, he had to face the difficulty present to Mr. Furnivall's mind. Was he to give the dictionary a home or was he to inhabit a continually decreasing corner of the dictionary's home? It became increasingly evident that the latter was certain unless some new plan could be devised.

Here woman's ready wit came to the rescue, and at Mrs. Murray's suggestion the little iron building which now occupies a large part of the doctor's garden was built. For the work to be done in it it is as near perfection as any human effc is likely to attain. Around half of the walls are the pigeon-holes to contain the 3,500,000 slips, all neatly arranged in alphabetical order. At this end is the table where nimble-fingered assistants are constantly employed in the work of sorting and arranging these slips. The labour involved in this almost mechanical work is very great. The words of each letter of the alphabet will have undergone twenty-five distinct sortings by the time they have passed into the hands of the sub-editors. This first sifting is simply to get the slips in alphabetical order. Then cach word is arranged into groups. For instance, the word “charge” has perhaps fifty different meanings, a charge in battle, to charge a gun, to charge too much, etc. There are perhaps five hundred quotation slips for this one word, and to get these all properly arranged under their appropriate headings and in chronological order is a labour by no means easy or mechanical.

The other half of the building is occupied by the editor and his chief assistant, Mr. A. Erlebach, surrounded by the many needful books of reference. Here the final and laborious work of settling the etymology of each word and fixing the order in which its various definitions are to be placed on the printed page is done.

All round the walls of this portion of the building are ranged curious early dictionaries, early Bibles, rare English books, and a vast amount of literature intensely interesting alike to the lover of books and the lover of philological study.

In this part of the building a row of more than twenty large quarto volumes attract the visitor's attention. After what he has seen and heard he is not surprised to learn that they contain the letters, chiefly from readers and sub-editors, written to Dr. Murray concerning the dictionary. They have come from all quarters of the globe and from all ranks and conditions of men. From Japan, California, Oxford, and Rome, from great cities, from obscure villages. There are letters from men like the present Prime Minister of England and the American Ambassador; there are letters from lady readers excusing hindrance in work by reason of marriage; there are letters from the present occupants of houses where missing workers once dwelt. On paper of all sizes, shapes, and colour, in handwriting of all degrees of badness and goodness, these twenty odd quarto volumes of correspondence are written. When the editor comes to tell the history of the work, with the finished volumes of the dictionary before him, he will have a choice store of incident to draw from in this mass of correspondence.

Ever since the Scriptorium was built it has been an object of pilgrimage. Scholars of many nations have visited it. Our English Universities have swelled the list of pilgrims, our American cousins have journeyed to Mill Hill in large numbers. One of them said to Dr. Murray that a Harvard professor had told him that after he had visited Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London the next thing to do in England was to go out and see the building at Mill Hill where the big dictionary is being made !

The dictionary, when complete, will extend to six large quarto volumes about the size of Littré's great French dictionary. The volumes will be published in four parts, each containing about 350 pages. The first part of the first volume will issue from the Clarendon Press in the autumn of this year, twenty-five years after the beginning of the work.

A few facts about the part already printed, and a few specimens of the work, will do more to convince the reader of its value than the most elaborate descriptions and encomiums.

In a report presented to the Philological Society on January 19th, 1883, Dr. Murray said:

3149 words are treated in the part done (that is, up to the word age); there are 300 subsidiary articles besides, as beforchand under before; 631 cross-references; altogether 4100 words up to age. In Webster there are 1867, in his Supplement 156, together 2023: we have more than double Webster's number of words. 2128 forms are to be added,

or spirit of wine. 1760 Phil. Trans. Ll. 824 Alcohol, or spirit of wine, has been more generally used. 1806 Vince Hydrost. ii. 25 Pure spirits, called alcohol. 1814 Sir H. DAVY Agric. Chem. 134 The intoxicating powers of iermented liquors depend on the alcohol that they contain. 1873 COOKE Chem. 14 Alcohol has never been frozen. 1875 URE Dict. Arts I. 43 The separation of absolute alcohol would appear to have been first effected about 1300 by Arnauld de Villeneuve. Ibid. 65 If wood. spirit be contained in alcohol, it may be detected .. by the test of caustic potash. 1879 Ridge Temper. Primer 129 Life assurance offices have found that the average length of of total abstainers is greater than that of drinkers of alcohol.

5. Organ. Chem. An extensive class of compounds, of the same type as spirit of wine, composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, some of which are liquid and others solid.

1850 DAUBENY A tom. Theory vii. (ed. 2) 222 The term .. alcohol indicates a class, some members of which, far from being volatile, are not even liquid. 1863 Watts Dict. Chem. (1872) I. 99 The first eight alcohols are liquid. Cetyl alcohol is a solid fat : cerylic and myricylic alcohols are waxy. 1875 Ure Dict. Arts I. 42 We speak of the various alcohols. Of these, common or vinous alcohol is the best known. 1879 G. GLADSTONE in Cassell's Techn. Educ. 106/1 Resistance to the action of Alcohols, Acids, and Alkalies.

including variants like ayen or agen, altogether 5577. Of the 3149, 994 are obsolete, 2155 in modern use, 153 are denizens, travellers' names of shrubs, etc., 2022 fully naturalized English words. Of aboriginal English words there are 187 only in 2155; 1420 are wholly of foreign extraction."

This quotation conveys some notion of the scale of the new dictionary. It will contain more than double the number of words found in the best and most copious of its predecessors.

The plan and style of execution can best be judged from examples, of which we have only space for two or three. Take first the word

alcohol;” this is how it stands on the printed page

Alcohol (æ·lkdhgl). Also 6-8 alcool, alcho(h)ol, alcohole. [a. med. L. alcohol, ad. Arab. al-kol'l 'collyrium,' the fine powder used to stain the eyelids, f. kahala, Heb. kakhal to stain, paint : see Ezekiel xxiii. 40. It appeared in Eng., as in most of the mod. langs. in 16th c. Cf. Fr, alco. hol, now alcool.]

+1. orig. The fine metallic powder used in the East to stain the eyelids, etc. : powdered ore of antimony, stibnite, or antimony trisulphide (known to the Greeks in this use as Flatvopbakpov oriune); also, sometimes, powdered galena or lead ore. Obs.

[MINSHEU Sp. Dict. (1623) Alcohol : a drug called Antimonium ; it is a kinde of white stone found in siluer mynes. JOHNSON Lex. Chym. (1657) 12 Alcohol est antimonium sive stibium.) 1615 Sandys Trav. 67 They put betweene the eye-lids and the eye a certaine black powder . made of a minerall brought from the kingdome of Fez, and called Alcohole. 1626 Bacon Sylva $ 739 The Turkes have a Black Powder, made of a Mineral called Alcohole - which with a fine long Pencil they lay under their Eye-lids. 1650 BULIVER Anthropomet. iv. 69 A Mineral called Alcohol, with which they colour the hair of their Eye-brows. 1819 Pantol. s.v., The ladies of Barbary tinge their hair, and the edges of their eyelids, with al-ka-hol, the powder of lead ore · That which is employed for ornament and is principally antimony, is called al-cohol or isphahany.

+2. Hence, by extension (in early Chem.): Any fine impalpable powder produced by trituration, or especially by sublimation; as alcohol martis reduced iron, alcohol of sul. phur flower of brimstone, etc. Obs.

1543 TRAHERON tr. Vigo's Chirurg. The barbarous auctours use alchohol, or (as I fynde it sometymes wryten) alcofoll, for moost fine poudre. (Alcofoll is Catalan.) 1605 Timme Quersit. i. xvi. 83 If this glasse be made most thinne in alchool. 1657 Phys. Dict., Alcolismus, is an operation .. which reduceth a matter into allcool, the finest pouder

1661 Lovell Anim. Ew Min. 3 The alcohol of an Asses spleen. 1751 CHAMBERS Cycl. Alcohol is sometimes also used for a very fine impalpable powder. 1812 Sir H. Davy Chem. Philos. 310, I have already referred to the alcohol of sulphur.

+3. By'extension to fluids of the idea of sublimation, An essence, quintessence, or "spirit,' obtained by distillation or * rectification’; as alcohol of wine, essence or spirit of wine.

that is.

The definition of this word is worthy of careful study. Under the derivation (a. med. I.) shows that the word was an adoption of the mediæval Latin form, alcohol, which was itself (ad.) an adaptation of the Arabic word al-koh’l, which comes from the Hebrew word kakhal. Then follow the meanings of the word. The original meaning (1) of a special powder becomes by extension (2) any fine powder, and then by further extension to fluids, (3) an essence, or spirit, then (4) is limited to the most familiar kind of spirit, the alcohol of wine, and then (5) in chemistry the sense widens out again to include a natural class, the compounds called alcohols.

No less than thirty-one quotations are given to illustrate these different senses in which the word has been used. They range from 1543 to 1879 and are taken from a wide field of literature. Authors like Bacon and Coleridge are laid under contribution, and books as different as old Minsheu's Spanish Dictionary of 1623 and Dr. Ridge's Temperance Primer of 1879 are pressed into the service. We have brought before us not simply the skeleton but the living form of the word and the various stages of its life are made clear.

The treatment of this word brings out well the special character in which this differs from all other English dictionaries, and even goes beyond Grimm and Littré, viz., its historical character. Every word is treated historically and with rigorous historical truth as to derivation, form, history, and sense-development. Conjectures, where historical data are wanting, are sparingly used and carefully distinguished. The quotations serve the double purpose of exhibiting this history and illustrating usage: they form, as it were, the text to which the other matter is the commentary and interpretation. The foundation thus laid can never be superseded—it is done once for all ; future architects have only to build on it. And let it specially be noted that exact references are given. The volume, the chapter, the page, the edition of the book quoted, are all given in clear form, so that any one can verify them. Richardson's great dictionary, and almost all others, often put after a quotation the author's name, Milton, Pope, Coleridge, etc. To verify such quotations in most cases is rather worse than seeking needles in haystacks.

The next definition quoted will make the value


(LIBAVIUS Alchymia (1594) has vini alcohol vel vinum alcalisatum a mispr. or perhaps misconception for alcolizatum, see ALCOHOLIZATED; JOHNSON Lex. Chym. (1657) 13, Alcohol vini, quando omnis superfluitas vini a vino separatur, ita ut accensum ardeat donec totum consumatur, nihilque faecum aut phlegmatis in fundo remaneat.) 1672 Phil. Trans. VII. 5059 Assisted by the Alcool of Wine. 1706 Phillips, Alcahol or Alcool, the pure Substance of anything separated from the more Gross. It is more especially taken for a most subtil and highly refined Powder, and sometimes for a very pure Spirit : Thus the highest rectified Spirit of Wine is called Alcohol Vini. 1731 ARBUTHNOT Aliments (1.) Sal volatile oleosum .. on account of the alcohol or rectified spirit which it contains. 1753 CHAMBERS Cycl. Supp, Alcohol is used by modern chemists for any fine highly rectificd spirit. Ibid. Method of preparing Alcohol of Wine. 1794 Pearson in Phil. Trans. LXXXIV. 395 Alcohol of gall nut (tincture of gall nut).

b. fig. Quintessence, condensed spirit. 1830 COLERIDGE Lect, Shaks. II. 117 Intense selfishness, the alcohol of egotism.

4. (Short for alcohol of wine, this being the most familiar of rectified spirits.') The pure or rectified spirit of wine, the spirituous or intoxicating element in fermented liquors. Also, popularly, any liquor containing this spirit. 'Absolute or anhydrous alcohol : alcohol entirely free from water.

1753 CHAMBERS Cycl. Supp. s.v. Spirit, Water is a solvent to alcohol

« PreviousContinue »