Page:EB1922 - Volume 30.djvu/8

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those eleven New Volumes set a new precedent in publications of this kind by being prepared and issued simultaneously, and the same method was subsequently adopted in the preparation of the Eleventh Edition (1911).

Had it not been for the war, the twenty years between the average date of the Ninth Edition (25 Volumes, 1875–89) and the date of its supplementary New Volumes, which were added to form the Tenth Edition (1902), may be regarded as indicating the length of interval which might well have been expected to follow the publication of the Eleventh Edition before it in turn had a supplement added to it, to form in combination with it the Twelfth Edition. The course now taken, however, is directly in line with Macvey Napier’s great Supplement (1816–24) to the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Editions. The extent of that Supplement exhibited, indeed, a notable advance in the whole standard of the Britannica as a work of original scholarship and expert authority—the result of the copyrights having recently passed into the hands of the enterprising publisher Constable: but its interest in this particular connexion lies in the fact that it was conceived as a response to the pressing demand for a comprehensive survey of the situation resulting from the Great War which had just ended at Waterloo in 1815. In 1816, when the first volume of Macvey Napier’s Supplement appeared, the same need was felt for an authoritative record and reconsideration of the new developments during the convulsions of 1793–1815 as has arisen now in respect of the decade ending with 1921, and for very similar reasons. Anyone who still cares to examine that remarkable Supplement of 1816–24 will find that the ideals of public service in education set before themselves by Constable and Macvey Napier (as expressed by the latter in his Preface to the Sixth Volume) were identical with those which animate the Encyclopædia Britannica to-day. The present writer, having made this examination, with knowledge of the many difficulties of his own task a hundred years later (on the first subsequent occasion of an engrossing conflict having upset the world), is bound to testify to the admirable way in which, amid evidence of similar obstructions and complications, Macvey Napier carried out his scheme. His Supplementary Volumes, organized at the conclusion of the Great War of 1793–1815, formed the only critical and universal survey then available of the period just ended. They brought together a mass of valuable material which was afterwards incorporated in later editions; indeed much of this information, fresh from the sources, could only have been placed on record by being obtained at that time—a consideration which is encouraging to the Editor of the present New Volumes in regard to the permanent value of the material embodied in them also.

In one respect, possibly, Macvey Napier may appear to have had an advantage over the present Editor, or a somewhat easier task, in that he had eight years over which to spread the publication of his volumes—first issued in parts. But his successor a hundred years later is too conscious of the real advantage given to the public by immediate and simultaneous production, and indeed of the superior quality which such a work possesses when the whole of it has been under editorial control at one time, to take this superficial view. Having himself organized the production of these New Volumes within a single year—a year, moreover, characterized by post-war unrest and unsettlement—he may perhaps make this difference of method some excuse, however, for any imperfections in them which may be found in the light of later events or of knowledge undisclosed