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WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS,
I FEEL it a high honour to be permitted to dedicate this Work to you, who, by your distinguished talents as Authors, and your unparalleled exertions as Publishers, stand pre-eminent in promoting the intellectual and moral improvement of all classes of society, particularly of the Working Class, on whose mental culture so much of our national prosperity depends. In the arduous undertaking which I have now completed, however imperfectly the task may be performed, I have had the same object in view as that to which your labours in the field of Literature and Science have been so long, so nobly, and so successfully directed. It is therefore, with no small gratification that I am thus enabled to
Your very obliged and humble Servant,
Ath April, 1849.
When I commenced the compilation of the UNIVERSAL DICTIONARY, I announced a publication based on the Dictionaries of Johnson and Walker, and purporting to contain such terms as the progress of Literature and Science has, since their time, introduced into our language. It was originally proposed, in this undertaking, to limit the Work to about 1100 pages, being one-half the size which it has now attained ; and, under this arrangement, the first part was produced and published.
The success which attended the publication of that portion of the Dictionary, and the many representations made by subscribers, recommending an extension of the plan
, induced the Publisher to announce a work of a more comprehensive character. It has thus become necessary to rewrite the first 40 pages; and it was deemed advisable to publish these simultaneously with the concluding part, in order that the present subscribers might have it in their power to cancel those pages, and substi
tute the new matter.
The incompleteness of all the existing Dictionaries of the English Language has been long acknowledged and complained of; and they are often so much at variance in definition
, pronunciation, and etymology, as to render the task I had undertaken one of laborious research, and requiring great nicety of discrimination. I cannot, therefore, hope that I have entirely succeeded in avoiding errors, or that the soundness of my judgment may not be questioned, as to the propriety of the insertion or omis
sion of many words; for, in scrutinizing the claims of so many thousands of technical and scientific terms, multitudes had to be rejected as synonyms, or as having fallen into merited disuse. Many words have been forwarded to me connected with Art and the Sciences by subscribers and others. Some of these have been inserted, or reserved for an Addenda; others, for which I have been unable to find any authority, I have been compelled to reject. Technical terms are being constantly