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COPIOUS ILLUSTRATIONS AND EXPLANATIONS,
DRAWN FROM THE BEST WRITERS.
BY GEORGE CRAB B, M. A.,
FROM THE LAST QUARTO EDITION.
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,
82 CLIFF STREET.
THE FIRST EDITION.
It may seem surprising that the English, who have employed their talents successfully in every branch of literature, and in none more than in that of philology, should yet have fallen below other nations in the study of their synonymes: it cannot however be denied that, while the French and Germans have had several considerable works on the subject, we have not a single writer who has treated it in a scientifick manner adequate to its importance: not that I wish by this remark to depreciate the labours of those who have preceded me; but simply to assign it as a reason why I have now been induced to some forward with an attempt to fill up what is considered a chasm in English literature.
In the prosecution of my undertaking, I have profited by every thing which has been written in any language upon the subject; and although I always pursued my own train of thought, yet whenever I met with any thing deserving of notice, I adopted it, and referred it to the author in a note. I had not proceeded far before I found it necessary to restrict myself in the choice of my materials; and accordingly laid it down as a rule not to compare any words together which were sufficiently distinguished from each other by striking features in their signification, such as abandon and quit, which require a comparison with others, though not necessarily with themselves; for the same reason I thought fit to limit myself, as a rule, to one authority for each word, unless where the case seemed to require farther exemplification.
Although a work of this description does not afford much scope for system and arrangement, yet I laid down to myself the plan of arranging the words according to the extent or universality of their acceptation, placing those first which had the most general sense and application, and the rest in order. By this plan I found myself greatly aided in analyzing their differences, and I trust that the reader will thereby be equally benefited. In the choice of authorities I have been guided by various considerations; namely, the appropriateness of the examples; the classick purity of the author; the justness of the sentiment; and, last of all, the variety of the writers : but I am persuaded that the reader will not be dissatisfied to find that I have shown a decided preference to such authors as Addison, Johnson, Dryden, Pope, Milton, &c. At the same time it is but just to observe that this selection of authorities has been made by an actual perusal of the authors, without the assistance of Johnson's dictionary.
For the sentiments scattered through this work I offer no apology, although I am aware that they will not fall in with the views of many