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It was intended that the contents of this work should be comprised within the space of about one hundred and fifty pages, and thus form a single volume of the series of “Rudimentary Treatises;' but in the course of its compilation it soon became apparent that such confined limits were wholly inadequate to the admission of explanations of terms, which, although not immediately connected with the subjects mentioned in the title-page, were yet deemed essential to their further amplification : its utility as a book of reference will therefore, it is hoped, be found commensurate with its necessarily increased extent.
Since the publication, in 1819, of Mr. Peter Nicholson's elaborate Architectural Dictionary,' in two quarto volumes, changes of vast import have occurred: the field of practical science has been widely extended, and proportionately occupied by a new generation of professional men and students; important advances have been made in the arts of design and construction ; and the extended application of steam as a
. motive power has not only produced an extraordinary development of the means of internal communication, but surmounted those impediments which considerations of space and time formerly presented to the pursuits of men in quest of business or pleasure,-thus influencing, to a great extent, the various operations by which the wants and luxuries of civilized life are supplied.
In a ratio proportionate to the rapid extension of what
may be strictly termed practical knowledge has the study of the more pleasurable sciences also progressed: archæology, geology, philosophy, &c., have exercised a powerful and captivating influence, which has gradually led to the incorporation of societies or associations devoted to the cultivation and advancement of the several branches of human knowledge; and hence has arisen an extensive class of non-professional men, who, however duly acquainted with scientific principles, may yet be anxious to possess any easily available means of becoming familiar with the nomenclature and the technical language necessarily employed in a series of rudimentary treatises on the practical arts and sciences.
Within the period already adverted to, much professional taste and skill has been displayed in the erection of public buildings, in the construction of engineering works of vast magnitude and importance, and in the invention of the improved machinery employed in the arts and manufactures of the country.
These and similar causes have combined greatly to augment the ranks of a meritorious and useful class of men, among whom, more especially, new wants may be said to have been created, a class which comprises no inconsiderable number of ingenious operative engineers and matured artisans, and to such this work may become interesting and useful, however insufficient it may prove to those already advanced in their professional pursuits.
Should, however, the paucity of information contained in the following pages induce others more competent to the task, and who have sufficient leisure for the purpose, to devote their talents and time to the production of a more comprehensive and more valuable compilation, some share of useful information will at least have been contributed to the means of supplying the wants of an improving age.
The slender efforts here placed before the reader were
accomplished, by the aid of the lamp, after the hours usually devoted to the labours of business, and they are now, with the most humble pretensions, submitted to public approval. It has been well observed, that the language of truth is simple :' no attempt has here been made to trace the derivations of the scientific or technical terms which have been adopted: they are given and explained as generally written and understood at the present period, and care has been taken to avoid surreptitious or unauthorized versions, with the view of guiding the student and the operative workman in the onward path of knowledge.
Some analogous explanations and references may probably appear, at a first glance, as superfluous, and to detract from the merits of the work; but when it is considered how numerous and varied, in the present age, are the ramifications into which the employment of those engaged in the building and constructive arts has been extended, and how earnestly the searchers after technical terms and meanings must desire the acquisition of a knowledge of what may not inaptly be designated as a correct disposition of fine art, any unfavourable impression of this nature, hastily formed, will probably be removed upon mature reflection.
The collation made from Dugdale's Monasticon,' of the abbeys, alien priories, collegiate churches, monasteries, &c., with their several orders, dates of foundation, and localities, may perhaps be looked on with indifference by the mechanical engineer, as embracing subjects of little or no importance ; but viewed archæologically, by the architect, the historian, or the antiquary, a reference to researches into the early architecture of his country must ever command a paramount degree of interest. Similarly, with the latter class, objections may be raised with regard to subjects merely mechanical ; and it is therefore earnestly to be desired that each may be disposed to indulge the predilections of the other as to their more favoured pursuits.
In referring to the series of Rudimentary Scientific Works' to which this Dictionary of Terms' will, it is presumed, be deemed an appropriate Companion, it is proper to mention that the first suggestion as to their publication emanated from Lieutenant-Colonel Reid, of the Corps of Royal Engineers, who, during his residence at Barbadoes as Her Majesty's representative, kindly forwarded to the Publisher, with a recommendation that it should be printed for general circulation, a copy of Professor Fownes's 'Rudimentary Chemistry. This elementary treatise, the first of the
' series, and to which the recommendation of the late Governor of Barbadoes was limited, had been printed at his own expense, for the laudable and special purpose of adding to the numerous educational and scientific works which he had already distributed among different classes in the West India colonies.
To Lieut.-Colonel Portlock, R. E.,—to the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses, and to others who have liberally contributed their assistance in the production of the succeeding treatises, the Publisher thus acknowledges his obligations; and as the series has been extended to thirty volumes, the public have now the means of forming a due estimate of their efficacy and utility, and of the discretion exercised in the selection of subjects.
J. W. 59, High Holborn,
November 1, 1849.