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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Century Dictionary


The Greatest Dictionary ever Produced in America, easily a rival of the OED.

Century Dictionary and Cyclopaedia edited by William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin Smith (Gorgias Historical Dictionaries 1: Gorgias Press) 12 volumes From the 1889–1910 edition: 978-1-59333-375-1 comprises twelve volumes, including over 500,000 defined terms, and two volumes of concise encyclopedic entries. The Century Dictionary contains full, accurate, and clear definitions, and its many supporting quotations are chosen to illustrate, where helpful, the typical uses of a word or its specific sense. Whitney, who is still regarded as the greatest American linguist of his time, gathered together a remarkable staff of general and specialist editors, which included many luminaries of American scholarship, to compile this beautiful dictionary. 

Century Dictionary Volume 1, A–CEL edited by William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin Smith (Gorgias Historical Dictionaries 1: Gorgias Press) 978-1-59333-377-5

Century Dictionary Volume 2, CEL–DRO edited by William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin Smith (Gorgias Historical Dictionaries 1: Gorgias Press) 978-1-59333-378-2

Century Dictionary Volume 3, DRO–GYVedited by William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin Smith (Gorgias Historical Dictionaries 1: Gorgias Press) 978-1-59333-379-9

Century Dictionary Volume 4, GYV–LYT edited by William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin Smith (Gorgias Historical Dictionaries 1: Gorgias Press) 978-1-59333-380-5

Century Dictionary Volume 5, LYT–PHA edited by William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin Smith (Gorgias Historical Dictionaries 1: Gorgias Press) 978-1-59333-381-2

Century Dictionary Volume 6, PHA–SAL edited by William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin Smith (Gorgias Historical Dictionaries 1: Gorgias Press) 978-1-59333-382-9

Century Dictionary Volume 7, SAL–TEC edited by William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin Smith (Gorgias Historical Dictionaries 1: Gorgias Press) 978-1-59333-383-6

Century Dictionary  Volume 8, TEC–Z edited by William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin Smith (Gorgias Historical Dictionaries 1: Gorgias Press) 978-1-59333-384-3

Century Dictionary Volume 9, A–OZO edited by William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin Smith (Gorgias Historical Dictionaries 1: Gorgias Press) 978-1-59333-385-0

Century Dictionary Volume 10, OZO–Z edited by William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin Smith (Gorgias Historical Dictionaries 1: Gorgias Press) 978-1-59333-386-7

Century Dictionary Volume 11, A–LYT edited by William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin Smith (Gorgias Historical Dictionaries 1: Gorgias Press) 978-1-59333-387-4

Century Dictionary Volume 12, LYT–Z edited by William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin Smith (Gorgias Historical Dictionaries 1: Gorgias Press) 978-1-59333-388-1 

The past five years have witnessed a remarkable event: the digital rebirth of one of the greatest general reference works in the English language. The Century Dictionary and Cyclopaedia, edited by William Dwight Whitney and Benjamin E. Smith, was originally published to broad acclaim by the Century Company of New York between 1889 and 1910. It eventually encompassed twelve volumes, including over 500,000 defined terms, and supplemented with two volumes of concise encyclopedic entries. In size and scholarship, its only rival was the New English Dictionary (now known as the Oxford English Dictionary), although it avoided the latter's chiefly philological emphasis in favor of an orientation toward the practical needs of general users. The Century Dictionary's chief emphasis was on full, accurate, and clear definitions, and its many supporting quotations were chosen not so much to set out historical changes in form as to illustrate, where helpful, the typical uses of a word, or a particular sense. Whitney, who is still regarded as the greatest American linguist of his time, gathered together a remarkable staff of general and specialist editors, which included many luminaries of American scholarship. This allowed The Century Dictionary to define a wider range of scientific and technical vocabulary than was possible in a philological work like the original OED. Whitney and Smith also oriented their work towards American English; that is, they offered American pronunciations, gave preference to American spelling forms, and paid particular attention to words of American origin. The Century Company, the publisher of a number of highly respected illustrated periodicals such as The Century Magazine, made its considerable pool of artistic talent available to the dictionary, as well as the expertise of its chief printer, Theodore Low De Vinne. The result was that The Century Dictionary, in addition to being a work of consummate scholarship, was a beautiful dictionary. Indeed, with its elegant layouts and thousands of gorgeous woodcuts, it is arguably the most beautiful dictionary ever printed. 

Review of the Set  

Do you know how rapidly English is becoming the world- language? At the opening of the twentieth century French was spoken by about 31,000,000 people, German by 30,000,000, Russian by 30,000,000, Spanish by 27,000,000, Italian by 6,000,000, Portuguese by 9,000,000, and English by 21,000,000. Today English is the language of about 120,000,000 people, French of 45,000,000, German of 70,000,000, Russian of 75,000,000, Spanish of 45,000 000, Italian of 35,000,000, and Portuguese of 13,000,000. In other words, during the present century English not only has risen, among the languages named, from the fifth place to the first, but also has gained enormously on the rest in relative magnitude, expanding from about thirteen per cent of the total to about thirty per cent--from about one eighth to about one third. Imagine what results this absolute and relative increase will produce by the end of the twentieth century! Remember also that this mass of English-speakers comprises the most energetic, the most progressive of modern men and the leaders in science, art, literature, politics, invention, commerce, and colonization. Is it visionary to believe that before very long the other languages of Europe will sink almost to the position of local dialects while English, the native language of untold millions, will be known, if not spoken, by all the educated of every race?

And with this wonderful march of the English-speaking peoples, the march of the English language itself has kept pace. As if conscious of its great future and its lofty mission as the vehicle of the world's progress, conscious that it must be all things intellectual to all men, it has expanded in every direction, rendering itself more copious, more flexible, more responsive in every way to the innumerable and extraordinarily various demands of modern life. How rapid its growth has been cannot be determined as precisely as can the increase of those who speak it; the census of words represented by the dictionaries has never, of course, approached the accuracy of the census of the people; but this growth has certainly been very great, as will appear from a comparison of any page of The Century Dictionary, the first register of English words to which "complete" can justly be applied, with any page of any of its predecessors. Johnson's, the dictionary of our grandfathers, defined from 40,000 to 50,000 words; The Century defines upward of 215,000. Of course these figures do not represent the actual rate of growth of the language; for, as was said above, no dictionary before The Century contains practically all the words that were in existence (current or obsolete) when it was published; but they do show that the language must have taken immense strides if the book that satisfied our grandfathers does not contain one fourth of the words which we must have explained to us today. 

These facts--the immense increase of English-speakers, the rapid development of the language itself, and the entire inadequacy of I existing dictionaries when regarded as complete records of that language--at once make clear why The Century Dictionary was made. There was an almost unoccupied field of vast extent, and the dictionary was designed to fill it. But it may be asked, even if 215,000 words could be collected, does anyone want them all? Can anyone use them all? Did not Shakespeare get along with 15,000, and Milton, in his poetry, with 8000? And does not the common man go through life very well with a thousand or two? Very true: but remember that a language is not the speech of any one man, but the embodiment of the knowledge, thought, and experience of a race. As this knowledge and experience widen, the language must expand; and no one can find out what his race has known, thought, and been, unless he has its language in its entirety. In a word, no one can be educated who has not at his command to some extent and in some form the material which The Century Dictionary offers him with unexampled fullness and in the most accessible shape. This alone was reason enough for the undertaking, enormously laborious and costly though it was. Moreover, it will generally be found that the rare, technical, out-of-the-way words and bits of information with which The Century abounds are just the ones which will be most in demand. Emphatically, then, that dictionary (other things being equal) is the most useful to an intelligent person which is the most comprehensive; and in this particular The Century with its definitions of 215,000 words and 50,000 phrases stands alone. 

Not only has the language increased wonderfully in number of words, but the meanings attached to old words have in numberless cases greatly changed and multiplied. Within a comparatively few years our knowledge in all department of science and history has greatly advanced and in many it has been revolutionized, and all these transformations have been reflected in the language. A college librarian who consulted one of the professors with regard to the books in his department that might be spared from the shelves was told to send into the cellar every textbook that was over ten years old. To some extent this order applies also to works of reference, especially to encyclopedias. It was the design of the editors of The Century Dictionary to gather up all the new meanings and the new facts, and, by employing many experienced heads and hands, to lay them before the public with such promptitude that the book in all its parts, from A to Z, would be really "up-to-date, circa 1900," a genuine presentation of contemporary knowledge, so complete and fresh that it would stand for a generation. Their success has caused general astonishment. The first part was issued in May, 1889, the last, the twenty-fourth, in October, 1891. These parts, each a volume of about 300 large quarto pages, have followed one another almost with the regularity of a monthly magazine, all together forming a book of 7046 pages which contains, from the printer's point of view, two thirds as much matter as the Encyclopedia Britannica, and includes about 500,000 definitions of over 215,000 words, 50,000 defined phrases, 300,000 quotations, and 7500 cuts. This result has often been said to be "one of the marvels of the age." Like most nineteenth-century marvels, however, it is the natural effect of intelligent study of the field to be won, specialization of effort, and careful choice and perfecting of methods, with untiring energy in their application. This remark brings us to the second point, how was the dictionary made? 

 There is not a little contradiction in the way people regard this matter of dictionary-making. The dictionary is commonly taken as the type of dryness, yet it is none the less the most popular of books. As matters of literary history, facts about dictionaries are always in demand and are perennially interesting. In this interest also there are two conflicting elements. One springs from the feeling that no book can be so important to us personally as that in which our language, the vehicle of our daily life in all its aspects, of our social pleasures and pains, our knowledge and our aspirations, is clearly set forth; the other from admiration for and often an exaggerated faith in the great men who in the past have, almost single-handed, accomplished the herculean labors of the lexicographer. We not only are never tired of hearing how the old lexicographers did their work, but also are accustomed to look up to some of them as authorities--inspired oracles, hardly second to the apostles and prophets. These feelings, we say, are inconsistent, because the very fact that these great men did work almost single-handed, that the great things they achieved were the products of their unaided genius, caused their work, as a matter of fact, to fall far short of what we all feel a dictionary should be. One man alone, however great, can-not make any complete and accurate dictionary of all parts of the language, or a good dictionary even of many parts of the language, or an absolutely complete and authoritative dictionary of any part of the language. The human intellect is too limited, and life too short. We all know Johnson's answer to the lady who asked him why he had defined a certain word as he did: "Ignorance, madam, pure ignorance." How wide this ignorance was, and that it did not appall him, we know from the following dialogue in Boswell:

ADAMS: "This is a great work, sir. How are you to get all the etymologies? "

JOHNSON: "Why, sir, here is a shelf with Junius, and Skinner, and others; and there is a Welch gentleman who has published a collection of Welch proverbs, who will help me with the Welch."

ADAMS: "But, sir, how can you do this in three years?"/p>

JOHNSON: "Sir, I have no doubt that I can do it in three years."

ADAMS: "But the French Academy, which consists of forty members, took forty years to compile their dictionary."

JOHNSON: "Sir, thus it is. This is the proportion. Let me see; forty times forty is sixteen hundred. As three to sixteen hundred, so is the proportion of an Englishman to a Frenchman."

A brave answer; but a man, even of Johnson's caliber, who relied upon Junius, Skinner, and "the Welch gentleman," and could afterward admit that the only assistance he received from the " learned " was a paper by an unknown hand, containing twenty etymologies, must soon get beyond his depth in English lexicography.

No! Specialization and cooperation, under intelligent guidance, are the keys to success in this field as in every other; and the really great dictionaries are, and for the future must be, those constructed on these principles. The large group of specialists working methodically under a coordinating general editor, these are the lexicographers of today and of the future. In this transformation we may have lost much in the way of literary anecdote--the whimsical definitions of Johnson and the naiveté of later followers of his, one of whom remarks of the banana that "in the writer's opinion it is the finest of all tropical fruits"; but we have gained enormously in completeness, in precision, and in scientific dignity. 

Of this better mode of dictionary-making, this recognition of the demands of scientific method and scientific form, there is no better example than The Century. At the center, forming the plans to be adopted, selecting the methods to be followed, and coordinating the labors of all, stood the editor-in-chief and the managing editor; about them a group of scientific and literary specialists, some as editors of departments, themselves the centers of smaller groups; and beyond these a small army of special workers, collectors of new words and quotations, verifiers, copyists, and proof-readers. In the work of all thorough system prevailed; the special conditions governing each distinct field of work were closely examined, and the general plan brought into harmony with them; each separate part was brought into comparison with every other and their proper relations, in view of the general design, were determined; and the special limitations of each worker were carefully studied. To give an adequate idea of the complex problems and the labor involved in this would require a volume; it is enough to say that this methodical procedure bore its natural fruit both in the scientific and practical quality of the book, and in the rapidity of publication of which we have spoken. The demands of science, again, were satisfied in the person of the editor and his staff. He is not one who as a philologist has to rely upon "Junius, Skinner, and the Welch gentleman," or as an editor upon the instruction of others, but is a leading expounder of English, and in the general science of philology one of the most noted men of his age. Of him says Professor March, the well-known Anglo-Saxon scholar, in a review of The Century Dictionary:

It is a matter of rejoicing also that this great dictionary speaks with the personal authority of Professor Whitney. We often see or hear someone not a Yale man or a specialist in philology or other science declare that America has produced no scholar of the first rank, and will not till we have a new kind of university or some other nostrum. But students of the science of language know Professor Whitney to be superior to many scholars of the first rank, and to be the peer of any in reputation in the seats of learning abroad as well as in America.

Without a scholar of this stamp at its head no general dictionary made in these later days can be worthy of its subject or its age; for such a man alone can thoroughly comprehend the broad philological principles which underlie the work, and understand how to apply them. A useful dictionary might be produced by competent hands under uninstructed leadership, but not a dictionary which, as a whole, and in its fundamental character, would bear the impress of the authority of scholarship. And this high standard of personal competency was also applied in the selection of the numerous specialists and others who worked with him. To characterize them all would be impossible within the limits of this paper; it must suffice to say that they are not only specialists of the first rank, but men who, for love of the work, and often with not a little self-sacrifice, gave their personal attention and the best fruits of their learning to every detail of the work entrusted to them, from the preparation of "copy" to the reading and rereading of the proof. The Century Dictionary is the work of specialists in a sense not true of any other book of its kind. 

But given the scientific ideal, the system, and the men, how were these fitted together in actual work? What would a glance into the dictionary workshop have shown? One of the first things to be noted would have been the many hands employed in collecting words and quotations --the crude material of the dictionary. In no line of labor is it more imperatively necessary to catch the hare before you begin to make the soup. To attempt to spin even the common words of the language and their meanings out of one's inner consciousness or individual literary experience (however wide that may be) must end in failure. No man's experience can cover more than a small portion of the field. To get at the actual facts of the language, millions in number as they are, one must go out into the highways and byways of literature where they are to be found and compel them to come in --must search the oldest monuments of the language equally with the writings of the times of Shakespeare, Milton, and Pope, and the voluminous and many-sided literature of today. No printed page, not even the advertisements in a daily newspaper, which contains a scrap of information about an English word, is to be disregarded. Of course, not every English book, pamphlet, and paper can actually be read for such a purpose; the vastness of the labor necessitates selection, but the more that can be read the better. The facts when collected are mainly in the form of quotations--accurately copied passages throwing light on the use of certain words contained in them--and upon an intelligent study`of these, and not upon his inner consciousness, the definer must base his definitions. This is the modern conception of lexicography -- the broadest possible induction of the facts of actual usage and the exclusion from the definitions of everything not supported by the data thus collected: an ideal which has dominated no completed English dictionary except The Century. The immense collection of quotations made for it (of which a relatively small part, about 300,000, are printed in the dictionary) have not been used, as in earlier dictionaries, to support or embellish definitions`founded on preconceived notions or borrowed uncritically from other works, but have been the crude material out of which the definitions have actually been evolved or by which they have been tested.

Now the collecting of the quotations, the catching of the hare, would seem at first sight to be a very simple matter, merely a question of hands, pen and ink, time, and money. But the success of a hare-hunt depends largely upon the hunter, upon his knowledge of localities where hares are most likely to be found, and also upon his knowing a hare from a woodchuck or other quadruped when he sees it. Just so with the lexicographic hunter. It is possible to collect a million of quotations which would be almost utterly useless, and it is possible to collect a million which would be indispensable. In other words, the collecting of quotations, to be successful, must be done under the immediate supervision of those who know what is wanted and the best places to look for it, and by eyes well enough trained not to mistake or overlook what they are searching for. That is the way the reading for The Century Dictionary was done. Thousands of quotations were, of course, sent in gratuitously by friends of the enterprise, but the great mass of them was obtained by readers who formed a part of the regular dictionary staff. The good effect of this method upon the dictionary was very great: the waste of time of the definers in reading useless and duplicate quotations was reduced to a minimum, and the quality of the material at their disposal raised to a maximum.

Another difficulty in quotation-collecting is to get the quotations accurately copied. It seems easy enough to copy a passage exactly as it is printed, and then give volume and page with precision, and so it is; yet very few people will take the trouble to do it. As a rule, quotations sent to the editors of a dictionary by irresponsible parties abound in blunders, too many of which get into the dictionary itself. This evil, also, the method employed in compiling The Century Dictionary made as small as possible: the passages marked in books by the special readers were copied on a typewriter, and the copy was then compared with the original by an experienced proof-reader. Conscientious effort for accuracy could not go much farther before the digital revolution.

But this collecting of crude material was only the first step: it had to be worked up into definitions, and into definitions of various kinds, for The Century Dictionary not only contains the definitions and history of the common (non-technical) words of the language, but it is also a scientific and technical dictionary, and to a large extent an encyclopedia into the bargain. An example will illustrate this side of the work. 

Take the little word "go" That is familiar and simple enough: probably each of us imagines that he can tell all about the meaning of "go" in a minute. But if you will turn to The Century Dictionary, you will find that when its editors came to tell what they knew about " go " they took over seven columns of the large quarto pages of the dictionary to tell it in, and they had to condense matters a good deal at that! Now, each of those columns contains (not counting spaces) about 1000 words; so that what is said about "go," with the illustrative quotations, amounts to about 7000 words, or nearly eight pages of this magazine, and the editors might have said more if they had not restrained themselves. Beyond a doubt The Century Dictionary has "plenty of go" including a definition of this colloquialism! This difference between how much we think off-hand "go" means, and how much on consulting The Century we find it actually does mean, is (as you will see on looking into some of the older dictionaries) about the difference between a definition of "go" spun out of the lexicographer's inner consciousness and one built up from abundant and carefully selected quotations. For that is the way the editors of The Century Dictionary defined the word. Big bundles of quotations, each containing some bit of information about "go," came from the collectors and were turned over to one of the most skillful literary workers on the staff. The range of these quotations is shown by the sources of those (140 or more) selected to illustrate the definitions.

Running the eye down the columns we note, as they follow one another, Chaucer's "Reeve's Tale, "William of Palerne (Early English Text Society's publications), Winthrop's " History of New England," Dibdin's "The Lass that Loves a Sailor," Purchas' " Pilgrimage," Sir R. Guylforde's " Pylgrymage," Ascham's "The Scholemaster," Watts' "Come, Holy Spirit," Emerson's " Give All to Love," Tennyson's " Holy Grail," Shakespeare’s " Macbeth," Pepys' " Diary," Prior, Holmes, the Bible, Howell, Milton, Mrs. Gaskell, Steele, Sidney, Walpole, Judd, Pococke, Hearn, Dryden, McCarthy, Swift, Middleton, Sir Thomas Browne, " Harper's Magazine," Fletcher, Beaumont and Fletcher, Sheridan, " The Nineteenth Century," Jonson, Reade, Cowper, Latimer, "The Babees Book" (Early English Text Society), Dampier, Bruce, New York " Commercial Advertiser," Ramsay, " Putnam's Magazine," Hooker, Freeman, Clemens (Mark Twain), Lamb, Bret Harte, "Terence in English" (1614), Dickens, Marlowe, " Fortnightly Review," Goldsmith, Mrs. Oliphant, Mrs. Stowe, Besant, Sandys, George Eliot, Tillotson, L. Swinburne, Shirley, "Contemporary Review,"Clarendon,"Encyclopaedia Britannica," Spencer--and many more. Surely there is a cloud of most interesting witnesses for the word "go"; and the testimony of many others whose names are not published in the dictionary was taken by the editors and duly weighed. The literary expert above mentioned had all this evidence before him, and he proceeded to sift it. Of course he knew also what other people before him had said about "go" and had some ideas of his own besides; but the main thing was the new evidence. First of all he rapidly classified the quotations according to the grammatical use of "go"--that is, according as it is used as a verb or a noun. Then he read with care, taking pains where there was ambiguity to have the context looked up, all the quotations in which "go" was used as a verb --this coming first, since "go" as a noun is only a special use of "go" as a verb--and put together those which had the same or nearly the same sense. Having this rough classification, he consulted the etymological specialist, who was at hand ready to give such aid, to determine with him in what way the etymology of the word should affect the analysis and grouping of its meanings. Then he sat down to another close study of his material, to the actual framing of the definitions, and the selection of those quotations which it would be useful to publish with them. This was, of course, the most difficult part of the matter, the part requiring the most skill, judgment, and patience. How difficult it often would be to grasp clearly and separate distinctly even the familiar senses of such a word; how hard to find just the right words in which to make these senses clear; how easy to misinterpret some old or ambiguous quotation; how almost inevitable to overlook some shade of meaning or variation of use! But at last all was done that could be done: the definitions were written; the quotations to be printed were selected; idiomatic and colloquial phrases which had to be defined as a whole were arranged at the end of the definitions; the full etymology of the word was added; and the copy was ready--no, not for the press, but for criticism. Other members of the literary staff took it up and studied it with the one who compiled it. Then, when they had done all they could to improve it, it went to the editor-in-chief. But even when the press got it its eventful career was not ended, for the proofs-- three or four proofs in succession--passed through the hands of the editor-in-chief, the literary staff, and even of the scientific specialists, and came back perhaps so spotted with suggested improvements as to fill the breasts of printer and publisher within-extinguishable grief! What was accomplished by all this effort, how instructive and interesting those seven columns of "go" are, you can quickly discern by opening the dictionary. 

For an account of the handling of the second class of words, the scientific and technical, space fails us. It can only be noted that here it is not so important to give all the facts of usage, past and present, as to give clearly the one fact of correct usage; in the majority of cases what we want is to know what the word should mean in the light of the most modern science, the latest results of the most minute and wide-reaching scholarship. To give this is, of course, the work of the specialist; and so, while large batches of quotations containing new technical words and instances of special uses of old ones were gathered together by the readers, all of this material was sent out of the office to the members of the expert staff. By them it was read, whatever was useful in it was duly noted, and the definitions were framed in its light, and, of course to a much greater extent, in the light of the special knowledge and technical resources at the command of each. Only after the technical definition was thus put together did it come to the hands of the literary staff and the editor-in-chief, to be studied by them from the point of view of the general plan of the book, and the literary and typographical style adopted. How conscientious the work upon such words is shown by the fact that not infrequently a plate, which was ready for the press, was cut for the insertion of new facts which had just been published. 

Of the third aspect of the book--the encyclopedic--also only a word. It has been asked, How can a dictionary properly be encyclopedic? It would be wiser to ask, How, if it is really to be helpful, can it be anything but encyclopedic? "Encyclopedic" means in this connection, practically, "explanatory and descriptive"; a true "encyclopedic" dictionary is one which says enough about a word to give the reader a just idea of its meaning and of the things to which it is applied. Take, for example, the words "spectroscope" and "spectrum": a definition of each of them might be given in a few lines; but such a definition no intelligent man would waste time in consulting, for it could give no adequate knowledge of the things themselves, or of their relations to science. To do this the space given to them in The Century (about 3000 words) is requisite. How freely space is devoted to this purpose appears, for example, in the 800 words allowed to "gold," the 3500 of " Greek," the 1400 of " key " (in music), the 1600 of " lens," the 3600 of "operation," the 2400 of " sun "-- and so on without number. This information is wonderfully rich in detail, as a ramble through the definitions by following up cross-references one after another will show. 

Another most important and pleasing part of the book, the pictorial, has been allowed to speak for itself as this notice has proceeded. Of its quality here are examples; its quantity amounts, to be very precise, to 7521 cuts.

We have not been able even to mention the purely mechanical side of the work, the practical methods devised for handling, distributing, and preserving the collected material, in which there is much that is interesting. What has been said may give the reader some idea of the object of the book, and of its spirit, its methods, and its magnitude. The labor it involved and the difficulties which were conquered in its making will, perhaps, by and by appear in the literary history of the last days of the nineteenth century, of which The Century Dictionary is at least the most conspicuous monument.


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