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TIE NET YORK
A STYR, LEXO: A D
EASTERN DISTRICT OP PENNSYLVANIA, to wil : Bs IT REMEMBERED, that on the tenth day of August, in the fifty-fourth year of the Independence of the United States of America, A. D. 1829, Carey, Lea & Carey, of the said district, have deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words following, to wit:
“ Encyclopædia Americana. A Popular Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature, History, Politics and Biography, brought down to the present Time; including a copious Collection of Original Articles in American Biography; on the Basis of the seventh Edition of the German Conversations-Lexicon. Edited by Francis Lieber, assisted by E. Wigglesworth."
In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, “ An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books to the anthors and proprietors of such copies, doring the times therein mentioned :" and also to the act, entitled, “ An Act supplementary to an act, entitled, * An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned; and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving and etching historical and other prints.”
It is customary, and very properly so, to reserve the preface of an encyclopedia till the publication of the concluding volume; but the character of the present work renders it proper to state, briefly, at this time, the particulars in which it differs from the numerous works of that description, with which the public are already acquainted, and to explain the plan which has been pursued by the editors in performing their task.
The German work, which has been adopted as the basis of the ENCYCLOPÆDIA AMERICANA, grew out of the wants of the age. The last half century, particularly the latter part of it, has probably been more fertile in memorable events, and important discoveries and inventions, than any equal period in history. How many extraordinary changes have we witnessed in both hemispheres, as well in politics, in the sciences and in opinions, as in the individuals who have borne a conspicuous part in the affairs of the civilized world during that time! How important have been the results of the numberless voyages of discovery, the revolutions of states, and the wars, which have excited so intense an interest during that period an interest which has been the more constantly kept up, as the facility of communication between all the branches of the great human family seems, at the same time, to have gone on increasing in proportion to the multitude of events and circumstances which have thus influenced their destiny. Formerly, years would elapse before
the most important facts could pass the barriers which an imperfect navigation of the ocean, or a diversity of languages, had thrown between nations. Now, even the petty quarrels and frolics of students in a German or French university find their way, in the course of a few weeks, into the columns of an American newspaper. Then, a century would pass by, before even a Shakspeare was justly estimated beyond the confines of his native land; while now, we daily find, on title pages, the united names of publishers in three or four different nations, and in both continents. Thus rapidly does knowledge of every kind now diffuse itself over the globe, and extend the circle of civilization.
In comparison with the present state of the world, how small was the theatre on which the gods of Grecian fable and the heroes of Grecian his tory performed their parts in that interesting drama! During the period of Roman history, it is true, the field of civilization had become much more enlarged; but, in our own times, it has extended over both hemispheres, and science gathers contributions from every quarter of the globe. It is therefore become necessary, that every well-informed man, who would keep his relative place during this advance of society, should possess himself of many kinds of knowledge, which might have been dispensed with in former periods; the different sciences and arts, closely connected as they have ever been, having now more common bonds of union than in any preceding age. Considerations of this nature induced the German editors to project a work, which should furnish the general reader with all the information, that should be necessary to make him acquainted with the events and discoveries of interest, which did not happen to fall within the range of his particular studies.
For the plan of this Encyclopedia we are indebted to the late Mr. Brockhaus, a bookseller of eminence at Leipsic, who was the publisher, and, at the same time, the principal editor. He called it the ConversationLexicon, as being a work chiefly designed for the use of persons, who would take a part in the conversation or society of the well-informed
circles. The character of the work, however, has been, to a certain degree, changed by numerous improvements in each successive edition ; and its original title has therefore ceased to be strictly appropriate. But, as the
, book had become well known, and gained its well-deserved popularity, under that name, it was thought inexpedient to reject its original appellation : it is accordingly included in its new title Allgemeine deutsche Real- Encyklopædie für die gebildeten Stände. (Conversations-Lexikon.) Leipzig : F. A. Brockhaus. 1827–29.
The value attached to this undertaking of Mr. Brockhaus is evident from the fact, that about 80,000 copies of the work, now consisting of 12 volumes, have been published since 1812 ; besides which two pirated editions have appeared in Germany. There has also been a Danish translation (published by Soldin, Copenhagen), a Swedish, and likewise a Dutch (published by Thieme, at Zutphen). A French translation is also preparing at Brussels. More than two hundred contributors are enumerated in the preface of the original, of whom we will oniy mention a few, whose fame is by no means confined to the limits of their country :-G. W. Becker, in Leipsic; Chladni, in Kemberg; Gruber, in Halle ; Hassel, in Weimar; C. H. L. von Jakob, in Halle ; Niemeyer, in Halle ; Oken, in Munich; Kurt Sprengel, in Halle ; von Aretin, in Amberg ; W. Gesenius, in Halle; F. Jacobs, in Gotha ; J. S. Vater, in Halle ; Paulus, in
; Heidelberg; K. W. Bessel, in Königsberg; Fr. Mohs, in Freiberg; Schubert, in Erlangen.
In presenting this work to the public in the English language, my intention has been, by making such changes and additions as the circumstances of this country required, to render it as useful and acceptable to the general reader here as the original is in Germany; and I have cherished the hope, that the circumstance of its being an American encyclopedia, not merely in name, but as constituting an extensive repository of information relating to America, as well as to the various branches of general knowledge, would give it a peculiar value with that great European
nation, whose language and literature are the common property of themselves and their descendants in the United States.
In the title page, this work is stated to be formed upon the basis of the German Conversation-Lexicon; and if the reader will compare it with the original, and consider the numerous additions and corrections which have been made, I hope he will not find cause to charge this title with being too pretending. My idea of a good American encyclopedia has been, that it should contain, besides the most valuable portions of the English encyclopedias, and the topics of peculiar value to an American reader, information upon all subjects of general interest on the continent of Europe. The publishers have, with great liberality, supplied all the means and facilities which were desired by the editor. The trustees of the Boston Athenæum have obligingly allowed free access to their ample library, which does so much honor to the metropolis of New England: But, above all, I ought to acknowledge the zealous and able co-operation of my friend and associate, Mr. Wigglesworth, who will not permit me here to express my obligations to him in such terms as my feelings would dictate. With him I shall be happy to share whatever approbation the public may think the work shall deserve.
Some of the departments of science and literature, which were but imperfectly treated in the original German work, have been entirely re-written for this edition ; for example, Zoology (by Dr. Godman of Philadelphia, author of the well-known American Natural History), Mineralogy and Chemistry. The departments of Political Economy and Geography have also been much enlarged. Numerous entire articles of American and English Law have been introduced, and large additions made to the original articles on Jurisprudence, which, in the German work, are mostly confined to subjects of Roman, German and French law. In general Biography, large additions have been made. The articles on American Biography are entirely original, and have been furnished by Mr. Robert Walsh, Jr., whose learning and taste are a sufficient pledge of their value. Their apparently dis