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Princeton, N. J. Author of Handbook of Psychology, 1891; Mental Development in the
1897. JAMES MCKEEN CATTELL, Ph.D.; Professor of Psychology, Columbia University, New York
City; Editor of Science, and Co-editor of the Psychological Review; President of the Ameri
can Psychological Association, 1895. LIVINGSTON FARRAND, M.D.; Instructor of Physiological Psychology in Columbia University, New York City.
SPORTS WALTER CAMP, New Haven, Conn.; Member of the Advisory Committee on Athletics at
Yale University. Author of American Foot-Ball, 1891; Book of College Sports, 1893; Foot-Ball Facts and Figures, 1894.
THEOLOGY CHARLES CASEY STARBUCK, M.A., Andover, Mass.; Theologian; Contributor to Lange's
Bible-work Postneocene Library, Johnson's Universal Cyclopædia, and the Theological
HIS is the age of books of reference, and with reason. There are innumerable
subjects which every one wants to know something about, and as to which very few indeed have the occasion, or the opportunity, or the leisure, to gain exhaustive or even especial information. To meet these varied requirements, an
encyclopedia must aim to be a compendium of all human knowledge—a summary or abridgment, however brief, of all topics which have interest and value, whether theoretical or practical.
Of course this end has never been perfectly attained, and in the nature of things never can be. Yet every new encyclopedia may and ought to be in some respects an ment on its predecessors. No branch of knowledge is of full and finished growth: new names, new facts, one might even add, newly discovered principles, are continually coming to the front. A book which would really cover the ground must note in detail the steps of this advance, and in general must reflect the progress of opinion and the change in objects of greatest or less interest. Burning questions of a generation back are now mere matters of history, while problems lately unthought of press us closely, and sciences and devices unknown to our fathers enter into the daily life of civilized nations. The encyclopedia of twenty or even ten years ago is already in part moribund: the value of much of its contents remains unaltered, but its statements here and there seem antiquated, and it inevitably fails to tell us many things that we need to know. Till printing becomes instantaneous, no book can be literally "up to date”; but, other things being equal, the latest work of reference is the best.
It was once the tendency of encyclopedias to expand into whole libraries. They required a shelf or two, of extra length and strength, if not a separate bookcase, for their housing: the ponderous volumes came out in such long succession (though printers worked double tides) that the first was wellnigh obsolete when the last appeared. The cost was beyond plain people-a small fortune to the average farmer or mechanic, and fitted only to deep purses: the contents in the main was adapted to leisurely scholars. The time for this sort of thing is past. In America intelligence and education are not restricted to one favored
class, and books for the diffusion of general information should be moderate in size and cost.
The present work has been built on these lines. It is complete in three volumes of goodly though manageable (not elephantine) size. It is offered at a price hitherto unheardof for a book of this character. It was brought down to the date of going to press. It was prepared with due regard to the present conditions of thought and progress, giving especial attention to the sciences. And it has been written and edited with a view to the reader's convenience, that (as far as possible) he might find what he wants without having to institute a long and wearisome search, or wade through a chapter when he desires a paragraph.
A work of such moderate size, as compared with nearly all its predecessors, is necessarily characterized by condensation-by the brevity of its articles. It was thought best to include as many titles or topics as possible, and to say what was necessary upon each, omitting unimportant details. If this object has been measurably attained, it is largely through the stress throughout laid upon itemizing. There is one article, and usually of some length, on each general subject; but the separate parts of that subject, so far as may be, are separately handled. E.g., if the reader wants a given minor English or Italian poet, he need not look for him under the heading English or Italian Literature, but under his own name.
The value of this method, in diminishing long articles and multiplying short ones, will be readily appreciated. The Britannica is famous for learned and authoritative treatises, not a few of them long enough to make a goodly volume each: sandwiched between, there was a comparatively small number (from the modern and American view point) of brief or moderate-sized notices of men and things. The Metropolitana, earlier yet, was made up of treatises which could be purchased separately, some of them in several volumes: it was not a book of reference, but a series of books for continuous reading. We are far past that fashion now; an encyclopedia with us has to be a book of reference, averaging a good many titles to the page, and including a multitude of topics which were not dreamed of even by the Britannica.
Not that it is possible to get rid entirely of long articles. The Roman Empire, and the Steam-Engine, and South America, can neither be disregarded nor covered by a paragraph. Yet it is not therefore necessary to say under these heads all that is known about the subjects. The various countries of South America is entitled each to its own article, and cross-references will avert needless repetitions. If I have occasion to look up certain parts or appurtenances of the steam-engine, I may prefer to find them under their own heads; or if I want the battle of Cannæ, I do not desire to grope through pages of Roman history before I come to it. So, under Georgia, it is necessary only to mention (if so much) the principal cities; these are described under the titles Atlanta, Savannah, and so on.
If many of the scientific articles in this work occupy more space than is usually given to other departments, it is to be remembered that much of this matter is new, and that all of it has been handled by experts, whose duty it was to present the last results of investigation in their several fields. Geography, history, literature, the arts, and “the humanities” have not been neglected; e.g., in biography (American especially), perhaps a
greater number of names is introduced than in any other work of the kind. But the face of things does not alter so rapidly: a war may cause slight changes of coloring on the map, and each decade brings forth new authors and public men, without quite effacing those who went before; whereas some of the “exact” sciences are developing at a pace beyond the following of those who are not careful .students of them, and some of their applications, as in machinery and medicine, are exerting daily practical effects on human life. Here in particular the itemizing principle is followed; to one general article of some length there are many brief notices in biology, botany, chemistry, physics, zoology, etc.
Alike in the unusual richness of its scientific department, in the abundance and variety of its more familiar topics, and in the convenience of its arrangement with reference to the wants of the average reader, this work appeals confidently to the American public.