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of it, reconciled him to a task so painful, and laborious, to a man of his refined taste.
As his first object in the proposed work was to assist the studies of his own countrymen, it was' his design to give an English instead of a Latin interpretation, notwithstanding the prevailing prejudices against such an innovation.
The scope and plan of this undertaking, and the motives which influenced him to deviate from the general practice with regard to the interpretation, will be best understood by his own statement. We shall therefore insert below a copy of the proposals which he
Plan and Conditions of a new Greek and English Lexicon, By Gilbert Wakefield, B. A.
1. This Lexicon will be a thick volume in quarto; and is proposed to be published by subscription; the price 21. 2s.-one half to be paid at the time of subscribing, and the remainder on the delivery of the book.
2. It will be ready for the press soon after the editor's release from Dorchester Gaol, on May 30th, 1801; as the principal materials have been long since provided: and it will be printed off with all possible expedition.
3. The execution will be conducted on the plan of Hederic, as enlarged and corrected by Morell, because of the commodiousness of that plan for common use; but with great and very important improvements in many respects on that Lexicon. The compilation and composition of a compleat Lexicon for the Greek language would be an enterprise of far
circulated with a view to consult the disposition of the literary world.
greater labour and ampler compass, so as to require a much more liberal subscription and more general patronage than is expected for the present undertaking.
4. The interpretation of the Greek words will be universally in English, as incomparably preferable in every respect for domestic use to a Latin interpretation; and this single variation will render, it is presumed, the projected Lexicon a most eligible acquisition to schools and all private students of the Greek language. A Latin interpretation must generally appear inadequate to an English student, is frequently no less obscure and unintelligible than the original, and often serves only to conceal the doubts and ignorance of the Lexicographer. On the contrary, the true power and nice peculiarities of the Greek idiom may be communicated more fully and clearly in the English language; which is, for the most part, extremely well calculated to represent the elegancies and proprieties of the Greek tongue.
5. An addition will be made of many words, not fewer than from fifteen to twenty thousand, or upwards; almost entirely accumulated by the editor in a course of years during the prosecution of his studies, with an immediate view to his own private use, but with some prospect of the present undertaking words, not inserted in Hederic, nor, as the editor believes, in any extant Lexicon whatever.
6. A retrenchment of superfluities will take place, and a correction of errors and absurdities, without number.
7. Greater accuracy and simplicity will be observed in stating the primary, and the derivative, or inferrible, sense. of words, in conformity to the original principles and subsequent processes of all learned and long-prevailing languages.
That this design was the result of mature consideration, and that he was not insensible of the extreme difficulty of the task which he 'was about to impose upon himself, will appear from the following letter to one of the present writers. It at the same time discovers, more strikingly than any formal observations, that ardour in his pursuits which even the restraints and mortifications inseparable from his present situation could not subdue.
8. This Lexicon will be enriched also by a very considerable addition of legitimate constructions, elegant phrases, and varieties of formation in verbs and nouns, from the most approved writers of antiquity; all highly necessary to a just perception of the beauties and proprieties of the Greek language.
9. Lastly, numberless words will be ascertained and confirmed by the most classic authors, which now appear in the best editions of Hederic, with more exceptionable or with no authority at all.
As the execution of this work, both in point of labour and expence, appears very formidable to the editor, and is indeed a most arduous enterprise for an individual; and, as the public literature of the country is materially interested in a work of this nature; he shall not feel himself induced to proceed in the printing of it with a less encouragement than a subscription for two thousand copies.
Feb. 4, 1800.
Dorchester Gaol, Jan. 25, 1800.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
THE great irregularity of the meals in this family quite wearied me out; so, now I have them by myself, am much better in health, and have more time for study; but not enough, unless I could make time more, or banish sleep. As the mornings lengthen, I shall redeem my time by rising early.
I add perpetually to my Lexicon: not much short, I think, of two thousand words since I came hither; besides other great improvements. A complete work, according to the ability furnished by my papers, would be a grand atchievement; but I only look for encouragement to an improvement of the school edition.
It came into my head yesterday, prompted, in part, by some conversation with Mr. H on the subject, that I cannot too soon get ready the proposals, because, if it did not appear to meet with the encouragement which I should hope, I would not incessantly turn so much attention in my studies to this object. Since, also, it is a work of infinite labour and magnitude, a competent time for preparation and sounding the disposition of the public,
seems advisable. I should propose to begin upon the transcription of it for the press, immediately after my exit from this place.
In a day or two, perhaps tomorrow, I shall send you the proposals for your opinion, and wait for that before I request you to get them printed. It will not be unreasonable, I think, to expect half the subscription down, and the other half on the delivery of the book.
The trouble and exertion of this undertaking are so enormous, that the public is full as much interested in it as myself; and I should be perfectly indifferent, nay, averse, to it without a handsome recompence. I cannot think that less than a certainty of disposing of two thousand copies should encourage me to proceed. The immense labour sometimes terrifies me; but with proper encouragement, and health, I should go on.
After an interval of some weeks, he thus writes:
"I doubt very much whether the Lexicon will be encouraged to the extent I propose; but if it is not, I shall abandon the project, as I do assure you that, scarcely any gain, independently of a sense of duty, could induce me to undertake so vast and expensive an occupation, but of infinite utility.