Page:EB1911 - Volume 09.djvu/404

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

booksellers of Edinburgh and others that I had completely ruined myself and all connected with me by a purchase to such an enormous amount; this was early in 1812” (Constable, ii. 314). Bonar, who lived next door to the printing office, thought he could conduct the book, and had resolved on the purchase. Having a good deal of money, he seemed to Constable a formidable rival, whose alliance was to be secured. After “sundry interviews” it was agreed that Constable should buy the copyright in his own name, and that Bonar should have one-third, and also one-third of the copyright of the supplement, for which he gave £200. Dr James Millar corrected and revised the last 15 volumes. The preface is dated the 1st of December 1814. The printing was superintended by Bonar, who died on the 26th of July 1814. His trustees were repaid his advances on the work, about £6000, and the copyright was valued at £11,000, of which they received one-third, Constable adding £500, as the book had been so extremely successful. It was published in 20 vols., 16,017 pages, 582 plates, price £36, and dated 1817.

Soon after the purchase of the copyright. Constable began to prepare for the publication of a supplement, to be of four or, at the very utmost, five volumes. “The first article arranged for was one on ‘Chemistry’ by Sir Humphry Davy, but he went abroad [in October 1813] and I released him from his engagement, and employed Mr Brande; the second article was Mr Stewart's Dissertation, for which I agreed to pay him £1000, leaving the extent of it to himself, but with this understanding, that it was not to be under ten sheets, and might extend to twenty” (Constable, ii. 318). Dugald Stewart, in a letter to Constable, the 15th of November 1812, though he declines to engage to execute any of his own suggestions, recommends that four discourses should “stand in front,” forming “a general map of the various departments of human knowledge,” similar to “the excellent discourse prefixed by D'Alembert to the French Encyclopédie,” together with historical sketches of the progress since Bacon's time of modern discoveries in metaphysical, moral and political philosophy, in mathematics and physics, in chemistry, and in zoology, botany and mineralogy. He would only promise to undertake the general map and the first historical sketch, if his health and other engagements permitted, after the second volume of his Philosophy of the Human Mind (published in 1813) had gone to press. For the second he recommended Playfair, for chemistry Sir Humphry Davy. He received £1000 for the first part of his dissertation (166 pages), and £700 for the second (257 pages), the right of publication being limited to the Supplement and Encyclopaedia. Constable next contracted with Professor Playfair for a dissertation “to be equal in length or not to Mr Stewart's, for £250; but a short time afterwards I felt that to pay one eminent individual £1000 because he would not take less would be quite unfair, and I wrote to the worthy Professor that I had fixed his payment at £500.” Constable gave him £500 for the first part (127 pages), and would have given as much for the second (90 pages) if it had been as long. His next object was to find out the greatest defects in the book, and he gave Professor Leslie £200 and Graham Dalyell £100 for looking over it. He then wrote out a prospectus and submitted it in print to Stewart, “but the cautious philosopher referred” him to Playfair, who “returned it next day very greatly improved.” For this Constable sent him six dozen of very fine old sherry, only feeling regret that he had nothing better to offer. He at first intended to have two editors, “one for the strictly literary and the other for the scientific department.” He applied to Dr Thomas Brown, who “preferred writing trash of poetry to useful and lucrative employment.” At last he fixed on Mr Macvey Napier (born 1777), whom be had known from 1798, and who “had been a hard student, and at college laid a good foundation for his future career, though more perhaps in general information than in what would be, strictly speaking, called scholarship; this, however, does not fit him the less for his present task.” Constable, in a letter dated the 11th of June 1813, offered him £300 before the first part went to press, £150 on the completion at press of each of the eight half volumes, £500 if the work was reprinted or extended beyond 7000 copies and £200 for incidental expenses. “In this way the composition of the four volumes, including the introductory dissertations, will amount to considerably more than £9000.” In a postscript the certain payment is characteristically increased to £1575, the contingent to £735, and the allowance for incidental expenses to £300 (Constable, ii. 326). Napier went to London, and obtained the co-operation of many literary men. The supplement was published in half-volume parts from December 1816 to April 1824. It formed six volumes 4to, containing 4913 pages, 125 plates, 9 maps, three dissertations and 669 articles, of which a list is given at the end. The first dissertation, on the “progress of metaphysical, ethical and political philosophy,” was by Stewart, who completed his plan only in respect to metaphysics. He had thought it would be easy to adapt the intellectual map or general survey of human knowledge, sketched by Bacon and improved by D'Alembert, to the advanced state of the sciences, while its unrivalled authority would have softened criticism. But on closer examination he found the logical views on which this systematic arrangement was based essentially erroneous; and, doubting whether the time had come for a successful repetition of this bold experiment, he forebore to substitute a new scheme of his own. Sir James Mackintosh characterized this discourse as “the most splendid of Mr. Stewart's works, a composition which no other living writer of English prose has equalled” (Edinburgh Review, xxvii. 191, September 1816). The second dissertation, “On the progress of mathematics and physics,” was by Playfair, who died 19th July 1819, when he had only finished the period of Newton and Leibnitz. The third, by Professor Brande, “On the progress of chemistry from the early middle ages to 1800,” was the only one completed. Those historical dissertations were admirable and delightful compositions, and important and interesting additions to the Encyclopaedia; but it is difficult to see why they should form a separate department distinct from the general alphabet. The preface, dated March 1824, begins with an account of the more important previous encyclopaedias, relates the history of this to the sixth edition, describes the preparation for the supplement and gives an “outline of the contents,” and mentions under each great division of knowledge the principal articles and their authors' names, often with remarks on the characters of both. Among the distinguished contributors were Leslie, Playfair, Ivory, Sir John Barrow, Tredgold, Jeffrey, John Bird Sumner, Blanco White, Hamilton Smith and Hazlitt. Sir Walter Scott, to gratify his generous friend Constable, laid aside Waverley, which he was completing for publication, and in April and May 1814 wrote “Chivalry.” He also wrote “Drama” in November 1818, and “Romance” in the summer of 1823. As it seemed to the editor that encyclopaedias had previously attended little to political philosophy, he wrote “Balance of Power,” and procured from James Mill “Banks for Savings,” “Education,” “Law of Nations,” “Liberty of the Press,” and other articles, which, reprinted cheaply, had a wide circulation. M‘Culloch wrote “Corn Laws,” “Interest,” “Money,” “Political Economy,” &c. Mr Ricardo wrote “Commerce” and “Funding System,” and Professor Malthus, in his article “Population,” gave a comprehensive summary of the facts and reasonings on which his theory rested. In the article “Egypt” Dr Thomas Young “first gave to the public an extended view of the results of his successful interpretation of the hieroglyphic characters on the stone of Rosetta,” with a vocabulary of 221 words in English, Coptic, Hieroglyphic and Enchorial, engraved on four plates. There were about 160 biographies, chiefly of persons who had died within the preceding 30 years. Constable “wished short biographical notices of the first founders of this great work, but they were, in the opinion of my editor, too insignificant to entitle them to the rank which such separate notice, it was supposed, would have given them as literary men, although his own consequence in the world had its origin in their exertions” (Memoirs, ii. 326). It is to be regretted that this wish was not carried out, as was done in the latter volumes of Zedler. Arago wrote “Double Refraction” and “Polarization of Light,” a note to which mentions his name as author. Playfair wrote “Aepinus,” and “Physical Astronomy.” Biot wrote “Electricity” and “Pendulum.” He “gave his assistance with alacrity,” though his articles had to be translated. Signatures, on the plan of the Encyclopédie, were annexed to each article, the list forming a triple alphabet, A to XXX, with the full names of the 72 contributors arranged apparently in the order of their first occurrence. At the end of vol. vi. are Addenda and Corrigenda, including “Interpolation,” by Leslie, and “Polarization of Light,” by Arago.

The sixth edition, “revised, corrected and improved,” appeared in half-volume parts, price 16s. in boards, vol. xx. part ii. completing the work in May 1823. Constable, thinking it not wise to reprint so large a book year after year without correction, in 1820 selected Mr Charles Maclaren (1782-1866), as editor. “His attention was chiefly directed to the historical and geographical articles. He was to keep the press going, and have the whole completed in three years.” He wrote “America,” “Greece,” “Troy,” &c. Many of the large articles as “Agriculture,” “Chemistry,” “Conchology,” were new or nearly so; and references were given to the supplement. A new edition in 25 vols. was contemplated, not to be announced till a certain time after the supplement was finished; but Constable's house stopped payment on the 19th of January 1826, and his copyrights were sold by auction. Those of the Encyclopaedia were bought by contract, on the 16th of July 1828, for £6150, by Thomas Allan, proprietor of the Caledonian Mercury, Adam Black, Abram Thomson, bookbinder, and Alexander Wight, banker, who, with the trustee of Constable's estate, had previously begun the seventh edition. Not many years later Mr Black purchased all the shares and became sole proprietor.

The seventh edition, 21 vols. 4to (with an index of 187 pages, compiled by Robert Cox), containing 17,101 pages and 506 plates, edited by Macvey Napier, assisted by James Browne, LL.D., was begun in 1827, and published from March 1830 to January 1842. It was reset throughout and stereotyped. Mathematical diagrams were printed in the text from woodcuts. The first half of the preface was nearly that of the supplement. The list of signatures, containing 167 names, consists of four alphabets with additions, and differs altogether from that in the supplement: many names are omitted, the order is changed and 103 are added. A list follows of over 300 articles, without signatures, by 87 writers. The dissertations—1st, Stewart's, 289 pages; 2nd, “Ethics” (136 pages), by Sir James Mackintosh, whose death prevented the addition of “Political Philosophy”; 3rd, Playfair's, 139 pages; 4th, its continuation by Sir John Leslie, 100 pages—and their index of 30 pages, fill vol. i.

As they did not include Greek philosophy, “Aristotle,” “Plato”