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Of Darkness, the third definition, " a state of being intellectually clouded ; ignorance," ought not to be interposed between the second and the fourth. Moreover, there is the omission of a tropical sense ; dulness of mental vision ; stupidity ; belonging in the same group with def. 3.-Of def. 4, "a private place; secrecy; privacy,” the
. first member is metonymical, and does not belong to the others.—Def. 5 is “ infernal gloom; hell; as, utter [outer] darkness.”—Matt. 22: 13. The principle here seems to be that, in parables and fables, the separate words are to be defined by what they represent. By analogy, fowl might be defined a devil, and, Matt. 13:4, " The fowls of the air came and devoured it up,” be adduced in illustration. Further, when darkness is used metonymically, it means rather “any dark place or region;" and the connection alone determines a more limited application, -Def. 6, “great trouble and distress; calamities ; perplexities,” is not borne out by the citation, “ A day of clouds and thick darkness.”— Joel 2: 2. The expression, as a whole, constitutes the figure; whilst darkness alone is a mere qualification of day, and is to be interpreted as if there were no figure.—To def. 7, “empire of Satan ;”
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness.—Col. 1:13;” a similar criticism applies. Neither the idea of empire, nor even of anything akin thereto, is conveyed by darkness. Def. 8,"opaqueness;”
“ Land of darkness ; the grave.—Job 10: 21, 22 ;” betrays great inconsiderateness; for either opaqueness is used in its ordinary sense, which is too ridiculous to suppose, or it is synonymous with def. 1, and is hence superfluous. The special interpretation of the phrase cited, “ the grave,” is no definition of darkness. The use corresponding with def. 2, of the adjective, a common literal use too, as when we speak of darkness of complexion, the darkness of a color, the darkness of clouds, is entirely omitted.
Of Dash, v. t., it is at least questionable whether there is any usage calling for the second definition, “to strike and bruise or break; to break by collision; but usually with the words in pieces ;” in distinction from def. 1, "to strike suddenly or violently, whether throwing or falling," If the object is fragile, fracture will of course be implied. Nor does it bear a different meaning when followed by in pieces ; for the phrase simply expresses the result of the action, and in some degree its measure.—Def. 3, “ to throw water suddenly in separate portions,” is not distinct from def. 1. The action is but that of throwing a thing violently.--Def4, "to bespatter; to besprinkle," should be rather, to drench by dashing. Shakspeare has “This tempest dashing the garment.”—Def. 5, " to strike and break or disperse,” should not
be separated from the first.-Def. 7, " to form or sketch out in haste, carelessly," belongs to the compound verb, to dash out or off. Pope has dash out in the example cited by Johnson.—A similar criticism applies to def. 8, “to erase at a stroke;" but Pope, as quoted by Johnson, has “ to dash over with a line, where the verb is not transi. tive.”—The logical relation of def. 9, “ to destroy; to frustrate," would place it by the side of def. 1.
Dash, v. i., is defined,
“1. To strike, break, scatter, and fly off ; as, agitate water, and it will dash over the sides of a vessel ; the waves dashed over the sides of the ship.
2. To rush, strike and break, or scatter; as, the waters dash down the precipice.
3. To rush with violence, and break through ; as, he dashed into the enemy's ranks, or, he dashed through thick and thin.”
These three definitions contain but one meaning, to move with rapidity or violence; to rush. There is, however, a second use, which is not given, namely, to draw lines rapidly, and hence, to sketch rapidly.
“With just bold strokes, he dashes here and there,
."-Rochester. Of Dash, n., the third definition, “admixture; as, red with a dash of purple,” does not contain a usage distinct from that in def. 2, "infusion ; admixture; something thrown into another substance; as, the wine has a dash of water; innocence with a dash of folly.'Addison ;" but in this definition, “ infusion," as bearing a too limited meaning, should be omitted.—Def. 4, “a rushing or onset with violence; as, to make a dash upon the enemy,” should not be separated from def. 1, " collision; a violent striking of two bodies; as, the dash of clouds." The verbal usage is one, whether there is a voluntary or an involuntary agent, and whether there is one object only, or more than one in motion.—There is the omission of a usage exemplified by Jeremy Taylor, namely, that which comes with sudden violence; as, a dash of rain."
This criticism has already been extended as far as the reader can be expected to follow me patiently; far enough, probably, to gain every end that could be reached by a continuance of it in the same method. I will, therefore, close with presenting one other point, and one other variety of mistake in etymology, still leaving unnoticed some things which it would require extensive reading, or a knowledge of oriental languages, to elucidate.
The citations are sometimes so abridged as to misrepresent the usage. For example, under Deductive, appears the citation, “ All knowledge is deductive.-Glenville." Glenville wrote, “ All knowledge of causes
is deductive.” (I have seen more marked instances of this offence, but I have preserved no memoranda, and this happens to be readily furnished by memory.) The definition, “ deducible; that is or may be deduced from premises,” is by two thirds incorrect. Deductive denotes coming by deduction; and Glenville affirmed, not possibility of attaining knowledge in a certain way, but mode of attaining knowledge in a certain department. See how clearly distinct is the use of deducible by the following example: “The conclusion is not deducible from the premises."
The elements of Disport, as given by Webster, are dis and port. The given etymon of sport is D. boerten. But sport is doubtless abbreviated from disport, as is spite from despite ; and the elements of disport are L. di or dis, and porto to bear aside, after the analogy of divert, from L. di and verto, to turn aside. As evidence of this assertion, the Romance languages furnish corresponding words, which are indisputably from di and porto. See Dictionnaire de la Langue des Troubadours : par M. Raynouard ; Glossaire de la Langue Romane : par J. B. Roquefort ; &c.—The abuse of the doctrine of literal equivalents is also illustrated from another source by the derivation of sport from the German spott, mockery, where the etymologist seems to have reasoned that r=s, and s=t; and as things equal to the same thing are equal to each other, ergo r=t, ergo sport is from Ger. spott.
Some readers may judge that, in particular instances, it is the critic who is at fault; but of this he will not greatly complain, if his accuracy and justice in general shall be acknowledged; for then it must still follow, that if he had continued his examination over forty pages instead of stopping with the fourth, in the multitude of cases that would have been considered, his affirmations would have been abundantly sustained.—There have been found more fąults in connection with comparatively unimportant words than I had anticipated; and, unfortunately, the number of articles reached, containing more than five definitions, has been only five, namely, Dark, Darken, Darkness, and Dash, verb and noun. But this is a necessary result of the course I have taken ;—a course adopted because it seemed fairer, as well as involving less labor, to subject a consecutive portion to minute criticism, than to gather the most notable blemishes from a thousand pages ;-adopted, also, because it was the only way to exhibit the quality and measure of the defects alleged. But whilst a very small portion only of the dictionary has passed in review, the entire work has been in a manner criticized, and remarks of general application have been introduced ; and, therefore, it may be a seasonable caution, that no one, from the amount of criticism on a brief extent of text, carelessly exaggerate the measure of imperfection charged. Moreover, it may have happened, and in my judgment it has happened, that the faults on the pages taken by accident, for criticism, are numerically above the average. Finally, let it be noted that the superior value of Webster's Dictionary is not disputed; that, whilst it is viewed as imperfect, it is still gladly recognized as possessing a richness, such that no one can dispense with it without impoverishing himself; such that the future lexicographer who shall ignore it, will pass by the most essential aid to the completeness of his undertaking; and that the highest deference will necessarily still be paid it, wherever we cannot understand its errors, till there shall appear another work, as the result of profounder scholarship, nicer discrimination, and more extensive knowledge. But when I read such extravagant laudations as that of Dr. Dick, who declares that “ AGES WILL ELAPSE before any other dictionary of the English language will be required;" or of Chancellor Kent, who claims for it the distinction of embodying the language, and hence predicts a duration outlasting the pyramids, and coëxtensive with the great globe itself; I cannot but imagine that if they were to return a century or two hence, and set forth the same view, they would be regarded as stranger dreamers than Rip Van Winkle, or those other 'sleepers of an ancient legend. And the thousand other voices of lesser fame, that in grand chorus shout its perfection, simply indicate what the dictionary is to their multitude; and no accumulation of such testimonials will avail anything with the judicious. Something better is needed, and will speedily be demanded. To call attention to this want, to hasten this demand in some humble measure, and so arouse the scholarship that shall delight in the labor to meet it, is the object of this article. A perfect dictionary would omit no point upon which it could legitimately be consulted. It would not stop short at approximate notions ; it would present exact and accurate ideas. It would be not merely a useful counsellor, but the thoroughly informed and discreet umpire, to whose judgment any point in dispute might be safely left without revision.
Note. Since this article was written, I have had the pleasure of learning that the enterprising publishers of Webster's Dictionary have had for some years in preparation a new edition, on which more philological attainment will be employed than on any previous edition, and as much further investigation expended. This liberal and far-seeing measure is rich in promise, both to the publishers and the public. May the work continue to reäppear, ever in improved guise, till it shall merit all that has been said in its praise ; till it shall attain unto the ideal standard of the most exacting, even perfection.
XV. PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL
[The following considerations respecting the character and advantages of a school of the highest grade in a system of public instruction in cities and large villages, were first presented to the public in 1838, when there was not a single institution of the kind out of Massachusetts. They are still widely applicable in every State.]
By a Public or Common High School, is intended a public or common school for the older and more advanced scholars of the community in which the same is located, in a course of instruction adapted to their age, and intellectual and moral wants, and, to some extent, to their future pursuits in life. It is common or public in the same sense in which the district school, or any lower grade of school established and supported under a general law and for the public benefit, is common or public. It is open to all the children of the community to which the school belongs, under such regulations as to age, attainments, &c., as the good of the institution may require, or the community may adopt. A Public High School is not necessarily a free school. It may be supported by a fund, a public tax, or an assessment or rate of tuition per scholar, or by a combination of all, or any two of these modes. Much less is it a public or common school in the sense of being cheap, inserior, ordinary. To be truly a public school, a High School must embrace in its course of instruction studies which can be more profitably pursued there than in public schools of a lower grade, or which gather their pupils from a more circumscribed territory, and as profitably as in any private school of the same pretensions. It must make a good education common in the highest and best sense of the word common-common because it is good enough for the best, and cheap enough for the poorest fainily in the community. It would be a mockery of the idea of such a school, to call it a Public High School, if the course of instruction pursued in it is not higher and better than can be got in public schools of a lower grade, or if it does not meet the wants of ihe wealthiest and best educated families, or, if the course of instruction is liberal and thorough, and at the same time the worthy and talented child of a poor family is shut out from its privileges by a high rate of tuition. The school, to be common practically, must be both cheap and good. To be cheap, its support must be provided for wholly or mainly out of a fund, or by public tax. And to justify the imposition of a public tax, the advantages of such a school must accrue to the whole community. It must be shown to be a common benefit, a common interest, which cannot be secured so well, or at