image pending 134

Art. VI.

Encyclopædia; or a Dictionary
of Arts, Sciences and Miscellaneous
Literature; constructed on a Plan,
by which the different Sciences and
Arts are digested into the Form of
distinct Treatises or Systems, &c.
The first American Edition, in
eighteen volumes 4 to
. T. Dobson.
Philadelphia. 1798.

THE extent and variety of this
work will not allow us to ex-
hibit more than a general view of

 image pending 135

its plan and execution. With some
exceptions, which do not appear to
be very important, the plan com-
bines as many advantages, and in-
curs as few difficulties and embar-
rassments as any that could well be
selected for an undertaking of this
compass. In the execution, it re-
quires no great fund of knowledge
to perceive, that many mistakes,
unnecessary repetitions, and even
culpable omissions have taken place.
Such faults are, however, almost
inseparable from a collection, so
extensive and multifarious as that
now before us. Undertaken by dif-
ferent hands, possessing various de-
grees of ability and qualification, the
several parts are often defective in
concert, and necessarily display in-
equalities of merit. “But if much
has been omitted, let it be remem-
bered that much has likewise been

To such as reside at a distance
from large libraries, and other repo-
sitories of science, an epitome of
knowledge like this, condensing a
vast and cumbrous mass within the
limits of eighteen volumes, must be
of the greatest importance. The
several topics are not indeed treated
in a manner sufficiently minute and
explicit, to satisfy those whose du-
ty or inclination leads them pro-
foundly to investigate their respec-
tive objects of pursuit. But in this
respect, the Encyclopædia will, at
least, serve as an index to more
abundant sources of information.

The relation which the various
objects of knowledge bear to one
another, can never be too deeply
impressed on the mind. This de-
pendence and subserviency, well
known already as to many of the
departments of science, will pro-
bably increase with every step we
take in the career of improvement.
The Encyclopædist conducts his
reader to a lofty eminence, from
which he is enabled to descry the
boundless prospect that stretches be-

fore him; he points out to his view
the accumulated labours, experi-
ence, and wisdom of ages; he assists
him to survey the history of the hu-
man mind in its progress from rude-
ness to refinement, and to teach him
to anticipate the glorious destiny
which awaits the full developement
and exertion of intellectual energy
in a more enlightened age.

As the rapid fluctuations and pro-
gress of the physical sciences are
continually rendering the labours of
preceding writers, in many depart-
ments, nearly useless, and demand-
ing new exhibitions of the subject,
it is intended to lay before the pub-
lic an account of recent improve-
ments, made since the commence-
ment of the Encyclopædia, in a sup-
plementary volume.

To the publisher, Mr. Dobson,
we conceive the public are greatly
indebted for this undertaking, which
has now occupied several years.
The magnitude of the work far ex-
ceeds any thing ever before issued
from the press in the United States.
Without great labour, expense, and
hazard, it must have been impossi-
ble to surmount the difficulties of
so extensive a work, and to conduct
it to a conclusion. And we sincere-
ly hope that the circulation of it,
while it affords a liberal compensa-
tion to the publisher, and encour-
ages similar attempts in future, may
be the means of diffusing a taste for
scientific and literary pursuits among
the people of America.