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THE ALPHABETICALS.

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As we apply the term “ Periodi- aries, that every young fellow had a cals” to Maga and other less meri- learned slave or two at his elbow to torious portions of literature ap- help him over the difficulties of lanpearing at regular intervals of time, guages. As well say that the reathe word Alphabeticals

son why they had no railways was not inappropriate to a class of because their slaves carried them works, the peculiarity of which is about in litters. The reason why that their parts are distributed ac- they had no dictionaries is the same cording to the order of the alphabet. as the reason why they had no If the reader will stop for a mo- railways—they had not invented ment to contemplate all that is them. And there are many things meant by “the alphabeticals,” he in our modern social system that will see in his mind's eye a vast seem to us quite simple, and .80 district of the world of letters, natural that they must occur to multiplied and varied, and capable everyone from the beginning, which of infinite multiplication and varia- yet are modern inventions, and were tion. He will see that, from its entirely missed by the great emvery characteristic of the alpha- pires and cities that have passed betical, it has an enormous influence away. The Romans must have had on human thought, and power of a powerful repressive machinery to usefulness for human purposes. keep together their great city. They And yet the alphabetical machinery had, as we all know, a wonderful itself is comparatively a modern in- organisation for preserving the invention, not perhaps yet brought tegrity of the empire — we still to its full development. Even the make use of fragments of it in our form of arrangement by the se social institutions, and are glad to quence of letters, not only at the have them.

But there are many beginning, but throughout the things which seem trifling in comwords, was not so obvious as it is parison, yet are the source of safety to those trained to it by invariable and comfort to millions, which they custom in the use of good diction- did not know. The mere numberaries. In the older dictionaries ing of the houses in our streets is, and indexes we find continual de- for instance, a great institutionviations from it, owing to the warp

we would like to know what man ing effect of some association or of genius invented it. Then comes assimilation of sound bringing the directory and the post-office words together out of their exact system, the lighting of streets at order. We will easily see the ten- night, and the various other addency to this kind of deflection in juncts which give each member the street - directories of minor of a vast community access to all towns, and other compilations others without forcing him into made up by uneducated people. contact with them. What a chaos Simple as the rule is—in fact, it is London must have been in Dr a rule of the nature of a law in an Johnson's days, when it was about exact science-they cannot observe the quarter of its present size! No it. But while the rule of sequence one knew what its size was, indeed, in virtue of this very exactness is or what it contained ; and there absolutely attainable, the adjust- were fabulous ideas about it, as ment of the matter to be subjected there have since been about the to it is a more difficult affair, as we interior cities of China, whose inshall presently find.

habitants have no notion of their There is a puerile reason given actual contents. There were mysfor the Romans having no diction- terious notions then about multi

tudes of people disappearing in man of great power, both in literathat great whirlpool ; but with the ture and politics, in his own day. population multiplied, and no in- Whether it has been editorially terference with liberty of action- rectified, or is pretty much in its which is, in fact, much fuller than native shape, his Lexicon, as pubit used to be - London is, on the lished by Porson, has, so far as it whole, as safe a place as any coun goes, a very systematic look, entry village, and the mysterious dis- titling it much more to the name appearances among its three mil- of a dictionary than the ' Etymololions are probably not so numerous gicum Magnum' in the collection as those among any other equal attributed to Midas. number of people dispersed through But nothing will illustrate better the country. If the Romans had, how difficult it was to rectify all as they must have had, a strong arrangements into pure alphabetiorganisation, it cannot have pos- cal order, than looking back at old sessed those subtle influences for the indexes. One of the earliest ever protection of the individual person printed, by the way—that of the among the millions which ours has; Nuremberg Chronicle'-is better and, in fact, human life was care than one will see for centuries after lessly looked after then, and left a it, and is one of the admirable feaprey to many enemies from which tures in that very wonderful book. it is with us sedulously protected. It was printed close to the end of

What can appear simpler than an the fifteenth century, and contained index to the contents of a book, or opinions and elucidations, the full an alphabetical directory of the import of which was not underhouseholders in a town ?-and yet stood until the Reformation had Rome could no more produce such made progress. Its services in enan article than she could print it lightening the public mind of Gerif it were made. Perhaps, indeed, many have not been sufficiently this touches the secret of the long brought to light in later times; nor time that the world had to wait for yet its services to art, which were so obvious an assistant to its opera- of a high order. Its multitudinous tions. It may have been only woodcuts are attributed to Wohlafter books were multiplied that gemath, the teacher of Albert Durhuman genius was stimulated to er; but one cannot help thinking provide ready means of access to that Albert had a cut at them with the accumulating stores of know- his own hand. ledge.

But to come back to the Index. The Arabian school of philoso- It now very nearly achieves uniforphers, who had orderly minds, are mity in method, which is everything. supposed to have been the first to Turn to any index of a book printed suggest an alphabetical arrange even so late as the reign of Queen ment; and the idea was a worthy Anne or George I., and ten to one companion to that powerful ma but

you will find that the manufacchine, the Arabic numeration. Our turer has not made up his mind own private belief is, that the old- whether he is to index by the est actual dictionary in existence is Christian or surname, or whether the Greek Lexicon of Photius, the he is to give titled persons their man who became so celebrated for

or their titles.

In some collecting passages from blasphem- instances a battle will be found by ous and heretical works in order its name in history—the name, that that he might confute them, and is, of the place where it is foughtwho thus was the means of pre- but in others it will be entered serving for the delectation of the under the word Battle; and so on profane a large quantity of that with everything. kind of literature which otherwise As the index is about the most would have perished. He was a simple and obvious of all the al

names

phabeticals, let us offer some casual then to issue it without an index remarks on its nature as an intel- is a gross dereliction of duty. You lectual production. The prepara- profess to endow the reading world tion of an index is a work of labour with a storehouse of facts, and you decidedly of the drier kind. There must give them the key of the is no getting through it with an storehouse, otherwise you are utterimpetuous rush of thought, nor ly deceiving them.

ly deceiving them. But, on the does it brighten up its own details other hand, if your contribution to with that self-supplying light which the world's literature be a pure carries the enthusiastic investiga- work of genius, either in prose or tor in nature or archæology-or his verse, with the title of ‘Moonlight brother, the worker in the powers Moments;' or, World Wanderings of the exact scienceslightly over in the Wonderful,' supplying it the ground. “There is nothing so with an index is equivalent to an ravishing as records,” said Prynne expectation that the world will about those piles of musty parch- accept all its ideas as household ment which would have appalled phrases, and will want to know many other people, perhaps, but where to find them, so that they had charms to beguile him of his may recall them accurately, like dinner, and keep him deciphering passages from Shakespeare or the and deciphering until nature told classics. The difficulty lies just in her wants in the dim eye and the the quarter where there always are trembling fingers. Nobody finds difficulties-the transition stratum index-making to be a ravishing of literature ; that kind which Tenpursuit ; nor does the world re

nyson, by the way, says, deserves ward it with the honour of high in- to have a special peal of bells, tellectual achievement. Instances, it is said, there have been, of men

“For all the past of time reveals

A bridal dawn of thunder-peals who, on taking breath after the

Wherever thought hath wedded fact." long toil of a heavy index, have looked round upon the public for Essays, miscellanies, historical the usual distinctions of successful and biographical sketches, and the authorship, but have found not like, not intended as absolute comonly that there is no prize for them prehensive solid books of reference, in the Temple of Fame, but they are yet containing sometimes valuable not held even to be ticket-holders, facts which people might like to who have a right to feel disappoint- go back upon, are the staple of this ed on drawing a blank. When transition state. And it may be conditions permit, an author is apt said that, however the author may to leave this function to some other, act, he has the benefit of the doubt. as the coachman of old used to drop If he be so generous as to supply the reins when he drove up to the the public with an index, especially posting-house.

if it adhere to facts, he is not amenBeing entirely a matter of duty, able to the charge of inflated conthe question, What books should ceit. If he withhold it, on the have indexes, and what should not? other hand, he is not a traitor. He comes into the department of ethics, has promised nothing but sketchy and, like everything else that has matter, intended rather to amuse to be adjusted there, it admits of than to teach his reader. His resignificant distinctions. If the book sponsibility is that of the companprofesses to deal with matter of ion, not of the schoolmaster. fact, either by supplying the old But “if you have it, have it stock with new things, or by mak- good,” is applicable to the index ing a complete digest of some as well as to most other things; and group already in existence- if it there is a larger scale of excellence is a history of the world, or of here than one would at first think. Europe, or of Little Pedlington, Humbly as the place of the index

maker stands in common estima was working with one of those intion, his function gives room for dexes which are distributed into the exercise of high intellectual groups, he vehemently turned up faculties.

Constitution, Judge, Jurisdiction, The number is larger than is and various other great dictionarygenerally supposed of the authors words, without success. In his who have constructed their own desperation he tried if any collaindexes, because they feared to in- teral heads would lead him to his trust the task to some mere me point-as Woolsack, Equity, Great chanic, ignorant of the tenor and Seal, and the like—but all was spirit of the work. The first index fruitless. As there seemed to be to the 'Edinburgh Review' is re thus a defect in the index, the computed to be the work of a very piler was asked under what word eminent man indeed. A subsequent he had dealt with the Lord Chanone was executed by Ralph Rylance, cellor. He triumphantly pointed who came from London to Edin- to the article The --- “ The Lord burgh for the purpose, and turned Chancellor ;” and, in Irish phrase, out to be a genial scholar and a no one could say black was white sort of wit. He was audacious of his eye. Most people know the enough to let fly a shaft at Scott, story of a judge's “great mind to then at the climax of his glory,– commit a witness for prevarication," The corpse of many a hero slain

being indexed under his name with Graced Waterloo's ensanguined plain, the quality “great mind” attached But none by sabre or by shot

to it. Fell half so flat as Walter Scott."

Index-makers are indeed a valuHis portrait is in Kay's Collec- able class of men, for whose emition, and we believe he is the only nent services to the world of letters person who has reached the celebrity that world has not been sufficiently of portraiture on the sole literary grateful. The most ambitious efclaim of having made an index. forts in this style of work are, how

The indexer must thoroughly un ever, not always the most successderstand the matter he is working ful; and if the workman set out on. His special faculty for his task on any very complete philosophical must be that of hitting on the name system, he will be pretty sure to under which the majority of the per- make a failure. After the use of sons who may consult the book will such sagacity as he may possess for look for what they want in it. No anticipating the wants of the pubrule will achieve this quality—it is lic by selecting the heads under the creature of sagacity and common which they are most likely to search sense. We remember an instance for what they want, the next best where a mechanical person had thing he can do is to indulge in rebeen set to compile an index with petition—to be profuse in cross revery specific and minute instruc- ferences, and to give the same thing tions, containing, among others, a under as many different names as set of rules by which he was to · he can afford to give them withjudge, in certain instances, whether in his limited space. Let him he would index under the Subject not insist upon being entirely logior the Predicate. It happened that cal, but keep rather in view that an investigator, in haste, as inves- human beings are illogical, perverse, tigators are sometimes apt to be, and especially liable to follow some desired to see what was said in that blind and utterly indefensible and book about the Lord Chancellor's barbarous routine of thought, set by powers. He turned to C, and looked some irrational precedent. Unless

Chancellor," but there was in the names of persons or places, nothing to guide him there. L, where he is not so apt to go wrong having charge of Lord, was equally though he may here too, by the silent. In the supposition that he assumption of too accurate a spell

for "

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ing—the one head on which his Among pedantries introduced own logic may demand that he lately into index - making is the should register the matter in hand breaking-up of a general index acwill probably be just the last under cording to logical division. There is which it will be searched for by an index of persons and an index the ordinary reader. He will take

He will take of places, with or without some furÆsthetics, perhaps, leaving the poor ther divisions. The simple-minded wondering readers in search of man who thinks only of one genewhat they want under “ Taste," or ral master-key, looks into the wrong

Beauty,” or “Genius,” or “Fine division, and turns away unsatisArts ;” he selects that nice scien- fied. There is a whole volume of tific term Ethics, which the reader index to Sismondi’s History of never dreams of while he is potter- France, but it is devoted, with one ing away in search of “Morality," or two unexplainable exceptions, to

Virtue," Vice," Goodness, the names of persons; and if you “Badness,” “Honesty,” “Probity," look for Navarre and Agincourt and suchlike.

there, you will not find them. Hence the indexes which ramify To turn to the other class of infrom the root of the matter are dexes—those which lead us not to thoroughly inefficient for the pro- matters of fact, but to the thoughts per purposes of the index-rapid and sentences of the great authors consultation—and invade a totally in these the classics only are different factor, if we may call it complete. There are few educated so—the analysis, or table of con men who do not know, and have tents. Between this practice and not derived use from, those magnithe adherence to the pedantries of ficent indexes to the Delphine clasthe profession, English law-books sics, which literally contain every are very torturing to those who are substantive and adjective. Homer, not aware of the secret intricacies of Pindar, Horace, and Cicero are their ramifications. If a merchant, dignified by separate lexicons or for instance, wants to know the concordances, among which Damm's legal position of a “book debt,” he Homeric Lexicon has made a rewill look in vain for satisfaction putation in that sort of work. In under that name, if he indeed find our own language one great name a law-book which on its title-page has been so dignified

dignified — that of admits to have anything to do with Shakespeare, to whom two rival commerce. But if he take up Bul- concordances are dedicated. For ler's ‘Nisi Prius,' and follow the the rest of our literature, it is someheading “Assumpsit” through a what barren of indexing. There is few of its ramifications, he may pro

an index to Scott's Poetry, on acbably succeed in finding what he is count of the number of biographical in search of. Nothing can be more and historical notices in it. To systematic and complete than the Chaucer and some others there great old index to the riches of the are glossary indexes. If, however,

Corpus Juris,' but it sends one on one wants to recall a passage in a complex circuitous route through the prologue to the “Satires, in a notation by the initial words of the “Essay on Man,' or anywhere the paragraph. The facility can in Dryden, it is not easy to find a thus only be used by one who has clue to it. acquired the practice and has kept Perhaps some will say, So much his hand in; so that, to discover the better; let people fall to the any special passage in the Pandects, book, and find what they want by or the Code, or the Novellæ, is honest reading; it will do them nearly as difficult as to decipher good. And we go so far with this from Bradshaw the time of arrival view that one should never use a and departure at a station in one of quotation unless he is familiar with the branches of the Great Western. it in its own garden, and the neces

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