March 30, 2000
A Review of
A Dictionary of the Arts & Sciences
by Albert Clark
Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library
Biography of Albert Clark
·Albert Clark lived in Redlands since
1966 when he was transferred to be the Manager of the Western District of General
Electri¢'s Space and Missile programs. He retired in 1981 after more than 25 years with
that company's Space Business Operations.
After graduating from Lehigh University in 1942 with a degree in chemistry, he served in U. S. Army Ordnance Research and Development during World War II; then returned to Lehigh to earn a graduate degree in Physics and Chemistry. In 1948 he went to work in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a member of the scientific staff, and was awarded several patents for his work.After another year in the Army during the Korean War in 1951, he worked as a research advisor at the Frankford Arsenal. He joined the General Electric Company in Schenectady in 1955. He has managed engineering operations, high technology programs, and field operations for them. He belonged to the Optical Society of America, the American Chemical Society, the Franklin Institute, the Engineers Club of Philadelphia, Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Zi, and he taught Nuclear Power Plant Engineering at Drexel University.
include photography, philately, oenology and selenography.
A Dictionary of the Arts & Sciences
I happened to run across A DICTIONARY OF THE ARTS AND SCIENCES some time ago and I
thought a review of some of its contents might be of interest to members of the FORUM CLUB
OF REDLANDS. The first edition was published
in three volumes about 1771 before copyright laws were in existence. The first copyright laws were suggested in the
American Constitution in Article I, section 8, (Powers of Congress.)
Over the years the definitions, bits of
wisdom and articles included recipes for cooking, advice for treating diseases, one
hundred pages to the remedy for a dog bite and other pages that are entertaining.
While some articles were detailed and
in-depth, others were rather terse and concise. For
***On California: a large country of
the West Indies
It is uncertain whether it be a peninsula or an island.
***On marriage: truly a contract,
and so requires the consent of both parties; idiots, therefore and furious persons cannot
Over the years the dictionary include
recipes for cooking without being a threat to Julia Childs or Good Housekeeping
magazine. One recipe called for 37
ingredients to make a savory dish called Olgio found chiefly on Spanish
tables. The ingredients included one rump of
beef, neats tongues boiled and dried, and bologna sausages; boil them together and after
two hours, add mutton, pork, venison and bacon, cut in bits. Also carrots, turnips, onions and cabbage, borage,
endive, marigolds, sorrel and spinach; then spices such as saffron, nutmeg, mace, cloves
and others. This done, in another pot put a
turkey or goose, with capons, pheasants, pigeons and ducks, partridges, teals and
stock-doves, snipes, quails and larks, and boil them in water with salt. In a third vessel, prepare a sauce of white wine,
strong broth, butter, bottoms of artichokes, and chestnuts, with cauliflowers, bread,
marrow, yolks of eggs, mace and saffron. Lastly
dish the olgio by first layering out the beef and veal, then the venison, mutton, tongues
and sausages, then the roots all over; then the largest fowls, the smallest, and lastly,
pour on the sauce.
In a discussion of cheese and how it is
made, three properties were described in various details.
I must bore you with some of them:
***Shaved thin and properly treated with water, it forms a strong cement with
***It is recommended in
the Swedish memoirs to be used by anglers as bait.
***It is a common opinion that old cheese digests everything, yet is left
The first edition included an extensive and
detailed aricle on midwifery with 19 engraved illustrations to accompany the 40 pages of
instructions written by the first doctor to teach and practice obstetrics. The instructions and illustrations were so
explicit that King George III ordered all loyal subjects to rip out and destroy the
offending article and plates. Of three
thousand copies of the first edition in existence, only six still have the section on
With the publication of the second and
third editions of the dictionary, new subjects were added although the articles did no
always convey the facts.
***Definition of Groin:
part of the belly next to the thigh. It
includes the remarkable case, where a peg of wood was extracted from the groin of a young
woman, age 21, after it had remained 16 years in the stomach and intestines, having been
accidentally swallowed when she was about five years old.
The editors were sometimes carried away by
sensational topics. In 1778 the entry
giant included the discovery of a field of giants in France where a tomb was
opened to display the body of a human ten feet wide at the shoulders and more than twenty
five feet long. It also reported the
discovery of giant in 1516 with a thirty foot body and teeth weighing 5 ounces. There were other reports of a discovery in
Bohemia in 758 of a body with 26 foot long legs which are still (in 1778) kept in the
castle in Totu.
There were definitions: woman was the
subject of a terse statement: the
female of man.
There were extensive articles on sex,
sleepers, botany, geography, and any number of subjects some of which are still
included in to-days edition although with a more cautious approach to the facts.
In 1771 the definition of earthquake was
given a single sentence: Earthquake, in natural history, a violent agitation or
trembling of some considerable part of the earth generally attended with a terrible noise
like thunder, and sometimes with an eruption of fire, water and wind. The next edition devoted 14 pages to the
subject. To-days volumes include 6
pages of intense discussion and numerous articles scattered throughout 90 pages of earth
There were articles devoted to problems of
the day and solutions.
Bedbugs: Bedbugs were apparently a serious
problem. The first edition suggested that the
best remedy was cleanliness. Another edition
a short time later gave a recipe for a cheap, easy, cleaning mixture for effectively
destroying bedbugs. To-days edition
describes what they are but not how to get rid of them.
The printing of the first edition listed
the world as being 4 thousand years old. In
1992 the age of the earth was listed as 4 billion years old. To-days estimate is 14 billion years old.
The contents of the dictionary expanded
from the original 3 volumes to ten volumes within 8 years.
In the first edition the editor gave short shrift to history and geography
one paragraph. In 1778 the second edition listed 61 pages of geography and history.
One and one half pages were used to
describe the selling and buying of stocks by stockjobbers who made this a way of living. The article went on to state that the persons who
made these contracts are not in general in possession of any real stock; when the time
comes that they are to receive or deliver the quantity they have contracted for, they only
pay such a sum of money as makes the difference between the price the stock was at when
they made the contract and the price it happens to be when the contract is fulfilled; and
it is no uncommon thing for persons not worth £100 to make the contracts for the buying
and selling of £100,000 of stock. In the
language of the Exchange Alley, the buyer, a speculator
in this case, is called a Bull, and the seller, a pessimist, a Bear. And so we have a written record of speculators
being called Bulls and persons selling because they think the price will go down being
The information on rivers remained
unchanged in later editions for 60 years. It
was printed along with information on glaciers, snow which was described as meteor because
it was a phenomenon in the air (from the Greek meteoron) consisting of stones and emeralds. The
first edition contained a detailed article on how to counterfeit emeralds.
The first edition included 17 pages on money. The following edition increased the number
of pages by 50% and had a section on metallic coins and on paper currency.
Precision in measurement was becoming of
some concern as the industrial revolution was in its infancy. An acre of land is based on a French area of
woodland consisting of four square roods. The
rood is 40 perches, each perch is 24 feet in length, each foot is 12 inches and each inch
is 12 lines. In England an acre contains 40
perches or poles of 161/2 feet each, by law. The
acre may also be divided into 10 square chains of 22 yards each for a total of 4840 square
yards. In Scotland an acre consists of 4
square roods; one square rood is 40 square falls; one square fall is 36 square ells; one
square ell is 9 square feet plus 73 square inches. The
Scottish acre is also divided into 10 square chains; the measuring chain should be 24 ells
in length, divided in 100 links, each link being 8 inches; and so one square chain will
contain 10,000 square links.
The pages of every edition of the
dictionary were filled with reports of the newest developments in transportation. Before automobiles and steam engines, the horse
and the balloon were the only methods of transportation.
I recall my introduction to the dictionary as follows:
evening more than thirty years ago, I was happily relaxed in an easy chair when my high
school daughter entered the room and said, Dad, I need help.
some discussion I learned that she had to write a report.
is it due? I asked.
Came the answer.
is the subject?
air balloons, was the reply.
employed in the aerospace industry I figured this was a piece of cake and replied,Go
to the encyclopedia. We had a
relatively recent edition.
did and there was not much there.
enough there was very little on hot air balloons that I could find. Lots of information on airplanes, automobile race
cars, and rockets.
I replied. Lets look it up in Daddy
Georges 10th edition encyclopedia printed at the time of the Chicago
enough, in the 1890s, about the only aeronautical information was on the subject of
hot air balloons 33 pages of general and technical information and several pages of
engravings of balloons from the late 19th century. These same engravings were still used 30 years
later in the 1926 edition.
That aroused my interest in dictionaries and encyclopędias. I asked myself where anyone could go to do a review
of old dictionaries and compare the changes and advances in encyclopędias over the years. I got to thinking and wondering about the
work of writing and editing. What to delete
and what to add since space was at a premium and the number of volumes should not exceed
about thirty two.
Ten years later I discovered that the
Encyclopędia Britannica corporation had published a replica set of the three volume first
edition and I finally acquired a copy. It all
started in 1768 when two gentlemen, Andrew Bell, an engraver and Colin Macfarquhar,
printer engaged William Smellie, an editor, and set in motion a train of events that would
profoundly affect the world of learning and information for well over two centuries.
The three first met with and established a
society of gentlemen who agreed to buy a series of pamphlets to be published every several
weeks. Eventually the information was
organized alphabetically and published in three volumes from 1768-1771. Their goal was UTILITY AND DIFFUSION OF KNOWLEDGE - which
ought to be the principal intention of every publication. The sub title of the first edition was A DICTIONARY OF THE ARTS AND SCIENCES. The first edition contained 2459 pages
edited by Smellie and 160 engravings by Bell. In
a letter from the Britannica offices I was informed that the replica of the
1768-1771 edition required three years of intensive research, exhaustive technology and
I have copied the first page of the first
volume of the first edition and shall pass it around for your inspection. The first thing to notice is the title:
ENCYCLOPĘDIA BRITANNICA or THE DICTIONARY
OF THE ARTS AND SCIENCES.
The complete set of three volumes
contained 2459 pages. Look at the back of the
first page. It is one of the 160 engravings
by Bell in a period of less than three years. Another example of Bells work is the
engraving of balloons on the next page being passed.
One side shows engravings of 6 balloons which were published in editions as
early as the third edition in1788 and which have remained unchanged even in the 13th edition
in 1926. Some articles remained unchanged for
fifty years before being rewritten or dropped.
The history of the Dictionary is filled
with adventures and misadventures, surprises and the drama of the unceasing quest for
knowledge. As this search continues, the discovery of former ignorance, myths, and
mis-information led to the discovery of how ephemeral
our present knowledge may be to-day! Over
the years facts become myths and myths become facts.
Earlier editions contained vast areas of error and ignorance. A study of the information in the beginning
editions reveals obsolete information and should caution us to look carefully at the
contents of the current edition. Later
editions in fifty or one hundred years from now may prove our present knowledge to be
equally illusory as well as entertaining to future readers.
During the intervening years the editorial
policy has changed remarkably. The editors of
the current editions tend to present all sides of issues in dispute. For example the naval architecture of Noahs
ark is no longer a subject to be debated. Nor
is 19th century alchemy to change base metals in to gold debatable after the
discovery and organization of the chemical elements.
But now, nuclear physicists have demonstrated that new elements can be
created and that base metals can be converted into other chemical elements - a return to the days of alchemy.
Many of the topics in the earlier editions
will never change. Magnificent architectural
cathedrals, great paintings, sculptures, literature, and musical scores are among the
topics which are timeless. On occasion the
editors might choose to revise some of this well established information, but it will
usually be to add new knowledge. Art and
literature transcend the ephemeral information of many sciences mathematics
excepted. The advent of the computer disk
will not change the nature of the information in
the encyclopędia only to allow us to realize how much we dont know.
In the great ninth edition (1875-1889) the
editors take great credit in the articles about Physics marked by the changes of
conception and classification. In the midst of all this the dictionary was being published
to record the changes. Little did they know
in 1875 that before the end of the century Becquerel will have discovered x-rays, Madame
Curie would discover uranium and radioactivity, the electron will be discovered, and the
internal combustion engine will have been brought close to perfection for the automobile
and the airplane. All of this will take place
around the turn of the century. All the more
reason to look at our knowledge to-day and realize that we can not predict or even guess
accurately at where we will be in 100 or 20 or even 10 years from now. Every ten years about 1/3 of what we make to-day
will be replaced by new or much improved products. Astronomy,
chemistry, physics, medicine, and electronics
are being updated on an annual basis. Only
the great paintings, great literature, great architectural structures remain unchanged
only added to.
In addition to medicine and health,
religion, technology, the physical world, and biographies, many scientific subjects were
treated in various ways in each succeeding edition. Every
edition included an article on barometers based on Evangelista Toricellis invention
more than one hundred years before the first edition.
Using the barometer Blaise Pascal conducted a number of influential
experiments. During the course of events he
ran counter to the beliefs of the Jesuits. Father
Noel, rector of the Jesuits college in Paris, keenly attacked Pascal with all the
absurd dogmas of the church of Rome. Father
Noel contended that the empty space above the mercury was corporeal because it was visible
and admitted light. He said that the atmosphere, like blood, contained a mixture of
several of the four elements. Fire and the
finer part of air were detached from the space above the mercury and were violently
ejected throughout the porous spaces in the glass to occupy the deserted space. He hinted at heresy and this should have
deterred most experimenters.
Pascal, undaunted, arranged for his
brother to prepare two identical barometers and to take one to the top of a nearby
mountain, leaving the other behind in the lowland. When
he took the first barometer to the mountain top the mercury fell three inches. When he returned to the other barometer in the
lowland, the mercury rose three inches to show that both barometers were comparable.
The first edition included numerous
accounts of experiments for the pleasure of the gentlemens society in Edinburgh. The volumes were filled with beautiful engravings, The third edition went
overboard with engravings of balloons which were not flying at the time of the first
In the fourth edition in 1815 an extensive
article on steam navigation was printed in this British publication without reference to
Robert Fulton who had successfully used a steam engine to propel a ship in 1803 and
another in 1807
Editor Smellie, in the first edition, did
not treat the fields of art and literature too kindly.
He took Shakespeare to task in many pages devoted to criticizing the Bard for his command over similes and metaphors and
studded his article with the words error and useless
Many of the articles in early editions
were unsigned. Smellie himself wrote many of
the articles and his strong bias is obvious in those written by others. For 130 years his article on grammar was unchanged! Benjamin
Franklin never authored an article but a letter to Father Beccaria about the harmonica was
published in 1788. In the article he pays
tribute to a Mr. Puckeridge, a gentleman from Ireland, who first thought of playing tunes
from the different tones of different glasses.
From the beginning the Britannica has
treated religion fully, carefully, and seriously. In
the earliest edition a strenuous effort was made to present a synopsis of what was known
about every topic including exotic beliefs that were important enough to merit attention.
Theology was covered in 13 pages,
midwifery in 40 pages dog bites in 100 pages, and anatomy in 165 pages. But a large share of the fat three volumes of the
first edition was devoted to religion because clergyman were educated far beyond the
In the second edition bias and humor are
evident in the same article about Pope Joan (reportedly designated Pope John VIII) said to
occupied the holy see for two years, five months and four days after the death of Pope Leo
IV in 855. There have been countless
controversies, fables, and conjecture about this woman who pretended to be a man, first
went to Athens where she made great progress in the sciences. She had a quick genius and spoke with a good
grace, with great learning. After the
death of Pope Leo she was made pope. While
serving as pope, she became pregnant and delivered the child as she was going in a solemn
procession from the coliseum to St. Clements church, in a most public place before a large
crowd of people and died on the spot. Succeeding
popes were placed in a groping chair behind which a deacon demurely satisfied himself of
the pontiffs sex by feeling.
During more than 2000 years,
encyclopędias have existed as summaries of scholarship in forms comprehensible to the
readers. The word encyclopędia, of Greek
origin, at first meant a circle or a complete system of learning. Early encyclopędias
were sometimes given fancy names, i.e. Garden of
Delights. Some were simply called
dictionaries. They come in all sizes from a
single 200 page volume to a set of 100 volumes.
Alphabetical arrangement was opposed in
the first 100 years of printing in the west. Some
omitted maps, biographies, atlases, and biographies of living persons. The Britannica attempts to include all that is
known on a subject included in its volumes. In
2000 years of dictionaries and encyclopędias more than 2000 have been produced in various
parts of the world some of these in many editions.
The fifteen editions of the Britannica would fill 90 feet of shelf space. It is estimated that if all published
encyclopędias were assembled they would fill 2 miles of shelf space. Consequently libraries and institutions of higher
learning must discard older editions as new ones arrive.
The 15th edition published ever since 1974 cost $32 million. Since then another $24 million has been spent to
redesign and update 32 volumes, 32,000 double sided pages with 44 million words and 19,000
The index itself is an outstanding example
of the extensive work which goes into the publication of the Britannica. For example the information in the Text Index is
filed on more than 500,000 folders which include information as to where the information
is included by the precise quarter of the page in the most recent edition.
In the Text Index the list of entries
varies widely. If one looks up United
States alphabetically there will
be one major article with reference to as many as 1000 references to information in
related articles in other parts of the encyclopędia.
The editors remind the reader
to consult the index to uncover references to a given subject.
The number of volumes varied from three in
the first edition to as many as thirty two in later years.
During some years the edition was published with two volumes bound as one
book for a total of 16 books.
Beginning with the fifteenth edition in
1974 the information was organized in two parts
micropedia in 10 volumes and macromedia in 19 volumes. Micropedia offers concise explanations for quick
information. Macropedia is a source for
in-depth treatment on more complex topics. In
the first ten volumes entries are alphabetized with directions or index references to the page in macromedia (19
volumes) on which a subject or aspect of a subject may be found in later volumes. The Britannica boasts that it has several thousand
more entries than its nearest competitor.
In years gone by the Britannica was sold
to potential customers by sales personnel who visited people in their homes. The total cost was seldom mentioned and most early
on, contracts were made to purchase the volumes one at a time on a monthly basis. This has changed to where all volumes in a
complete set are delivered at one time and the cost may be paid on the installment plan. In 1989 the Britannica employed more than 2300
sales persons. To-day, the sales force
numbers less than 350 including some office personnel. Several years the cost was more than $2000. To-day the cost is $1250 and dropping.
With an impeccable reputation, excluding
the early days of myth and fables, the Britannica missed a golden opportunity to be in the
forefront on the internet. After resisting
all efforts to get involved in computers Britannica, in 1994 began to sell CD-ROM discs
for the complete 32 volumes in computer stores. Unfortunately,
Microsoft stole the show by including Encarta free from the Americana Encyclopędia in
each computer with its Windows programs while Britannica continued to use door to door
sales personnel. In 1996 Britannica it began
to sell its access to the encyclopędia on the internet. The Britannica charged a fee of $5.00 per month
to access the 32 volumes and other information. It
did not prove to be a winner and the Britannica continued to decline.
While other web sites flourished,
Britannica lagged behind. Yet a person could
not always rely on the web because the sites lacked credibility and trustworthiness. Britannica was a powerful name to be trusted. But they failed to establish their own web site
until last fall when it went on line free, hoping to make a profit from the advertising. It will spend $40 million to advertise its web
site to draw viewers. More than 200 employees continue to work at editing and revising the
volumes. The encyclopędia will still be
printed for sale to some purchasers. The name Encyclopędia Britannica still means
trustworthiness, reliability, completeness, thoroughness and other fine qualities. It may survive.
Six months ago when Britannica announced a
free World Wide Web navigation service that classifies, rates, and reviews more than 130
thousand web sites, this announcement attracted worldwide attention. This search and
browse directory of sites is selected by Britannicas editorial team for quality and
usefulness. Included in its features are
Bookmarks of the Smart and famous, Site of the Day, and Britannica Quick Search. However only Encyclopedia Britannica Online Line
subscribers paying $5.00 per month may access full Britannica articles , the 32 volume set
or its Britannica Quick Search feature.
Access to the Britannica for a fee of
$5.00 per month includes access to numerous sites including a Merriam Webster dictionary,
a year book, tens of thousands of related internet links, and multimedia with special
features such as the Oscars, the Olympic games, Black history, the Normandy invasion,
Shakespeare and the Globe theatre, the Nobel Prizes, and the Titanic all updated
continually. It includes thousands of
additional articles not available in the printed set, natural language searching, and
browsable A-Z lists. It is updated
continually to provide the most current information and includes tens of thousands of
related internet links. It is available for a
free, thirty-day trial.
Another Britannica product is a compact
disk set which includes the information in 32 volumes, comparative time lines, user
generated charts, tables, and reports; interactive maps, multimedia spotlights on subjects
from dinosaurs to the American civil war to ecosystems; and updated related links to other
information. The cost for CD-ROM99 is $50 with a $10 discount coupon.
The most innovative product from the
Britannica in its quest for survival may be the one that saves it. An online shop has been opened on the internet to
allow browser to review and purchase a wide selection of products offered for sale by the
Britannica. The browser can select from
reference materials including computer software, a set of the Britannica for $1250,
yearbooks and Merriam-Webster dictionaries. Another site promotes Britannica apparel such
as T-Shirts, sweatshirts, and caps. Art
depicting animals, astronomy, and historical events can be purchased at another site. Anatomical kits, models, books, software, videos
and charts are offered for sale at another site. Animals
and nature are promoted on a site with models, kits, books, toys, games, and videos. Telescopes, models, kits, books, toys and games
are available to budding astronomers. Chemistry
sets for $49.50 from the Smithsonian are sold by Britannica along with other chemical
kits, models, toys, games and books. Biology
interests are fulfilled with microscopes, clothing,
books, models and kits. World globes are
among the geography materials. Physics and
Optics supplies include kaleidescopes, gifts, toys and games. There are shopping pages for natural history,
earth sciences, brainteasers and specialty shops.
The standard printed set of 32 volumes
includes articles written by experts in their fields, and an extensive list of Nobel
Prize-winning authors to make the Britannica one of the most comprehensive and
authoritative encyclopedia at a price of $1250.
aspect of the encyclopędia is the thrill of ownership.
I am fortunate enough to have the first, tenth, thirteenth and fifteenth
editions and it is interesting to compare them.
A number of years ago the
Britannica published and distributed a short story by Eugene Field. I will include it
Havin' lived next door to the Hobart place f'r goin' on thirty
years, 1 calc'late that I know jest about ez much about the case ez anybody else now on
airth, exceptin' perhaps it's ol'Jedge Baker, and he's so plaguy old 'nd so powerful
feeble that he don't know nothin'.
It seems that in the spring uv '47the year that Cy Watson's
oldest boy wuz drownded in West Riverthere come along a book-agent sellin' volyumes
'nd tracks fr the diffusion uv knowledge, 'nd havin' got the recommend of the minister 'nd
uv the selectmen, he done an all-fired big business in our part uv the county. His name
wuz Lemuel Higgins, 'nd he wuz ez likely a talker ez I ever heerd, barrin' Lawyer Conkey,
'nd everybody allowed that when Conkey wuz round he talked so fast that the town pump 'u'd
have to be greased every twenty minutes.
One of the first uv our folks that this Lemuel Higgins struck wuz
Leander Hobart. Leander had jest marr'd one uv the Peasley girls, 'nd had moved into the
old homestead on the Plainville road,old Deacon Hobart havin' give up the place to
him, the other boys havin' moved out West (like a lot o' darned fools that they wuz!).
Leander wuz feelin' his oats jest about this time, 'nd nuthill' wuz too good f'r him.
"Hattie," sez he, "I guess I 'll have to lay in a few
books fr readin' in the winter time, 'nd I 've half a notion to subscribe f'r a
cyclopeedy. Mr. Higgins here says they're invalerable in a family, and that we orter have
'em, bein' as how we 're likely to have the fam'ly bime by."
"Lor's sakes, Leander, how you talk!" see Hattie, blushin'
all over, ez brides alters does to heern tell uv sich things.
Waal, to make a long story short, Leander bargained with Mr. Higgins
for a set uv them cylopeedies, 'nd he signed his name to a long printed paper that showed
how he agreed to take a cyclopeedy oncet in so often, which wuz to be ez often ez a new
one uv the volyumes wuz printed. A cyclopeedy isn't printed all at oncet, because that
would make it cost too much; consekently the man that gets it up has it strung along fur
apart, so as to hit folks oncet every year or two, and gin'rally about harvest time. So
Leander kind uv liked the idee, and he signed the printed paper 'nd made his affidavit to
it afore Jedge Warner.
The fust volytlme of the cyclopeedy stood on a shelf in the old
seckertary in the settin'-room about four months before they had any use fr it. One
night 'Squire Turner's son come over to visit Leander 'nd Hattie, and they got to talkie'
about apples, 'nd the sort uv apples that wuz the best. Leander allowed that the Rhode
Island greenin' wuz the best, but Hattie and the Turner boy stuck up f'r the Roxbury
russet, until at last a happy idee struck Leander, and sez he: "We'll leave it to the
cyclopeedy, b'goshl Whichever one the cyclopeedy sez is the best will settle it."
"But you can't find out nothin' 'trout Roxbury russets nor
Rhode Island greenin's in our cyclopeedy," sea Hattie.
"Why not, I 'd like to know?" sez Leander, kind uv
'` 'Cause ours hadn't got down to the R yet," sez Hattie.
"All ours tells about is things beginnin' with A.,'
"Well, ain't we talkin' about Apples;" sez Leander.
"You aggervate me terrible, Hattie, by insistin' on knowin' what you don't know
nothin' 'bout. "
Leander went to the seckertary tnd took down the cyclopeedy 'nd
hunted all through it fir Apples, but all he could find wuz "AppleSee
"How in thunder kin I see Pomology," sez Leander,
"when there ain't no Pomology to see? Gol durn a cyclopeedy, anyhow!''
And he put the volyume back onto the shelf 'nd never sot eyes into
That 's the way the thing run For years 'nd years. Leander would 've
gin up the plaguy bargain, but he couldn't; he had signed a printed paper 'nd had swore to
it afore a justice of the peace. Higgins would have the law on him if he had thronged up
The most aggervatin' feature uv it all wuz that a new one uv them
cussid cyclopeedies wuz allus sure to show up at the wrong time,when Leander wuz
hard up or had jest been afflicted some way or other. His barn burnt down two nights afore
the volyume containin' the letter B arrived, and Leander needed all his chink to pay f'r
lumber, but Higgins sot back on that affidavit and defied the life out uv him.
"Never mind, Leander," see his wife, soothin' like, `'it's
a good book to have in the house, anyhow, now that we've got a baby."
"That's so," sez Leander, "babies does begin with B.
You see their fust baby had been born; they named him
Peasley,Peasley Hobart,after Hattie's folks. So, seein' as how it wuz payin'
fir a book that told about babies, Leander did n't begredge that five dollars so very much
"Leander," sez Hattie one forenoon, "that B
cyclopeedy ain't no account. There ain't nothin' in it about babies except 'See
"Weal, I 'll be gosh burned!" sez Leander. That wuz all he
said, and he could n't do nothin' at all, f'r that book-agent, Lemuel Higgins, had the
dead wood on him,the mean, sneakin' critter!
So the years passed on, one of them cyclopeedies showin' up now 'nd
then,sometimes every two years 'nd sometimes every four, but allus at a time when
Leander found it pesky hard to give up a liver. It war n't no use cussin' Higgins; Higgins
just laffed when Leander allowed that the cydopeedy was no good 'nd that he wuz bein'
robbed. Meantime Leander's family wuz increasin' and growin'. Little Sarey had the hoopin'
cough dreadful one winter, but the cyclopeedy did n't help out at all, 'cause all it said
wuz: "Hoopin' CoughSee Whoopin' Cough"and uv course there war n't no
Whoopin' Cough to see, bein' as how the We had n't come yet'
Oncet when Hiram wanted to dreen the home pasture, he went to the
cyclopeedy to find out about it, but all he diskivered woz: "DrainSee
Tile." This wuz in 1859, and the cydopeedy had only got down to G.
The cow wuz sick with lung fever one spell, and Leander laid her
dyin' to that cussid cyclopeedy, 'cause when he went to readin' 'bout cows it told him to "See Zoology."
But what's the use uv harrowin up one's feelin's talkie' 'nd
thinkin' about these things? Leander got so after a while that the cyclopeedy did n't
worry him at all: he grew to look at it ez one uv the crosses that human critters has to
bear without complainin' through this vale uv tears. The only thing that bothered him wuz
the fear that mebbe he would n't live to see the last volyume,to tell the truth,
this kind uv got to be his hobby, and I 've heern him talk bout it many a time
settin' round the stove at the tavern 'nd squirtin' tobacco juice at the sawdust box. His
wife, Hattie, passed away with the yeller janders the winter W come, and all that seemed
to reconcile Leander to survivin' her wuz the prospect uv seein' the last volyume of that
cyclopeedy. Lemuel Higgins, the book-agent, had gone to his everlastin' punishment; but
his son, Hiram, had succeeded to his fathers business 'nd continued to visit the
folks his old man had roped in. By this time Leander's children had "rowed up; all on
'em woz marr'd, and there wuz numeris grandchildren to amuse the ol' gentleman. But
Leander wuz n't to be satisfied with the common things uv airth; he did n't seem co take
no pleasure in his grandchildren like most men do; his mind wuz allers sot on somethin'
else,for hours 'nd hours, yes, all day long, he'd set out on the front stoop lookin'
wistfully up the road for that book-agent to come along with a cyclopeedy. He did n't want
to die till he 'd got all the cyclopeedies his contract called for; he wanted to have
everything straightened out before he passed away.
Whenoh, how well I recollect itwhen Y come along he wuz
so overcome that he fell over in a fit uv paralysis, 'nd the old gentleman never got over
it. For the next three years he drooped 'nd pined, and seemed like he could n't hold out
much longer. Finally he had to take to his bed,he was so old 'nd feeble,but he
made 'em move the bed up ag'inst the winder so he could watch for that last volyame of the
The end come one balmy day in the spring uv '87. His life wuz
a-ebbin' powerful fast; the minister wuz there, 'nd me, 'nd Dock Wilson, 'nd Jedge Baker,
'nd most uv the fam'ly. Lovin' hands smoothed the wrinkled forehead 'nd breshed back the
long, scant, white hair, but the eyes of the dyin' man wuz sot upon that piece uv road
down which the cyclopeedy man llus come.
All to oncet a bright 'nd joyful look come into them eyes, 'nd al'
Leander riz up in bed 'nd see, "It 's come'"
"What is it, Father?" asked his daughter Sarey, sobbin'
"Hush," says the minister, solemnly; "he sees the
shinin' gates uv the Noo Jerusalum."
"No, no," cried the aged man, "it is the
cyclopeedythe letter Zit 's comin'!"
And, sure enough! the door opened, and in walked Higgins. He
tottered rather than walked, fir he had growed old 'nd feeble in his wicked perfession.
"Here's the Z cyclopeedy, Mr. Hobart," sez Higgins.
--- Leander clutched it; he hugged it to his pantin' bosom; then
stealin' one pale hand under the piller he drew out a faded banknote 'nd gave it to
`'I thank Thee for this boon," sez Leander, rollin' his eyes up
devoutly; then he gave a deep sigh.
`'Hold on," cried Higgins, excitedly, "you 've made a
mistakeit is n't the last"
But Leander did n't hear himhis soul bed fled from its mortal
tenement 'nd bed soared rejoicin' to realms uv everlastin' bliss.
"He is no more," sez Dock Wilson, metaphorically.
"Then who are his heirs?" asked that mean critter Higgins.
"We be," sez the family.
"Do you conjointly and severally acknowledge and assume the
obligation of deceased to me?" he asked 'em.
"What obligation?" asked Peasley Hobart, stern like.
"Deceased died owin' me f'r a cyclopeedy," sez Higgins.
"That 's a lie!" sea Peasley. "We all seen him pay
you for the Zap"
"But there 's another one to come," sez Higgins.
"Another?" they all asked.
"Yes, the index!" sez he.
So there wuz, and Ill be eternally gol durned if he ain't
a-suin' the estate in the probate court now fir the price uv it'