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Prof. MacdonelPs Vedic Grammar for press, was well
known to three generations of Oriental scholars ; the late
Mr. W. F. R. Shilleto did much to secure accuracy and
uniformity in the series of Oxford Classical Texts ; and
Mr. George Ostler has left the marks of his vigilance
upon many editions of the English classics. Long train-
ing in a severe school develops unusual powers; and
authors are sometimes startled by instances of what seems
beyond natural acumen. An author who had mis-
quoted Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis in the
usual form, was naturally astonished when the reader
inquired in the margin c Should it not be et ;;oj? ? , which
is of course unmetrical. The reader was right, neverthe-
less; but the source of his information remained obscure.
In fields less recondite than this the authority of the readers
is generally recognized ; many editors have confessed
that in the matter of Greek accents they should not
think of disputing it.

The attention thus paid to the claims of scholarship
and accuracy brings doubtless unmixed benefits to learn-
ing and education. To the Press as a business concern
the blessing is less unequivocal. The Delegates' resources
are not without limits; and they are sometimes embar-
rassed by the ambitions of learned authors from all parts
of the world, to whom nothing but the imprint of the
Clarendon Press seems an adequate reward. They are
obliged to pick and choose, and sometimes to decline
a proposal which would attract them if it had fewer
rivals. Another imputation is less deserved. A dis-
tinguished American who had been invited to dine in an
Oxford College confessed afterwards that as he entered
the room his knees knocked at the thought that c all


these Fellows talked Latin ' ; and the public is sometimes
frightened away from an Oxford book by the apprehen-
sion that it will be found full of Greek quotations.
There is in fact no necessary connexion between accuracy
and pedantry; and even Dons are often men of the
world, well acquainted with the limitations of the average
intelligence. No one need be afraid that an Oxford
book on any ordinary subject will be any more abstruse
than another book, though its facts will perhaps be better
authenticated and its arguments more closely reasoned.
The booksellers know this ; and in reply to a customer's
inquiry c ls this a good book?' have been heard to reply
< Why it 's an Oxford book '.

Another fallacy which dies hard is that Oxford books
are dear. This is perhaps no more than a hasty inference
from the fact that Oxford produces an exceptionally
large proportion of books which from their nature
cannot be cheap. No one would expect to buy Liddell
and Scott's Greek Lexicon, or the Index Keivensis^ for
a few shillings; but these books and many like them
are really inexpensive, if regard is paid to the number
of words they contain. The Oxford Dictionary itself
is sold at an almost nominal price. Many of the books,
however, which appeal to a narrow public are properly
priced higher than if they could be sold in large numbers ;
for the price of a book depends mainly upon two things
the number of words it contains and the number of
people who will buy it. The art of publishing lies in
nothing so much as in estimating whether a book is more
likely to sell say, 7^0 copies at i?s. or y,ooo at y/. The
policy of the Press has always been elastic in this respect ;
and very many of its books are among the cheapest in
their kind.

^ o


E,ccePiierJruclus t acl qu&s liQi ip?e Mag isle r,
Et Pater itwitant,^ bent notus Amor-

<Scep& nit a eft raptos cru&elts Beta/a inalos,
J^unc ut cL> viter verier a car pettier.


From Lily's Latin Grammar, Oxford 1692.


One of the drawings by Henry Ford from A School History of England
by C. R. L. Fletcher and Rudyard Kipling, 1911



4-. Illustrated Booki

THE publication by the Press of beautifully illustrated
books is mainly a development of comparatively re-
cent years, and it has been furthered by the progress
of collotype printing at Oxford. The catalogue now
includes a large number of sumptuous monographs on
artistic subjects. In its facsimiles of manuscripts and rare
printed books, published on its own account or for the
British Museum, the Press has done much to make
accessible to scholars the treasures of the great collections.
Well-known examples are the magnificent collotype re-
production of the New Testament part of the Codex
Sinaiticus (from negatives made at St. Petersburg under
the old rdgime ; negatives were fortunately made of the
Old Testament part as well, and the reproduction of the
whole of this most famous of all manuscripts will before
long be completed) ; and the complete collotype repro-
duction of the Shakespearian corpus, consisting of the
Folio of 1623, which went out of print on publication in
1912, and the Poems and Pericles from the first editions,
still on sale.

The Press has also published very numerous reproduc-
tions of works of art of all kinds, partly by way of illus-
trated catalogues of special collections or genres (such as
the three folio volumes of Oxford Drawings by the old
masters, the numerous coin catalogues, and the cheap col-
lection of British Historical Portraits in half-tone) ; partly
in the form of profusely illustrated monographs, which
moreover are all scientific works by experts and not mere
collections of pretty pictures with illustrative letterpress.


These works are of great importance to students and
collectors, and a select list is appended : Head's Historia
Numorum, Gardner's Ancient Coinage, Beazley's and other
books on Greek Vases, HilPs Renaissance "Medals, Dalton's
Byzantine Art, Maunde Thompson's Palaeography, Murray's
History of Chess, ffoulkes's Armour and Weapons, Rivoira's
Moslem Architecture, Vincent Smith's Fine Art tn India,
Sir Aurel Stein's Khotan and Serindia and other special
works on Eastern Art, the important series of mono-
graphs on English Church Art written or edited by the
late Francis Bond, with his comprehensive Introduction to
English Church Architecture in two volumes, and many
more too numerous to cite, particularly the great wealth
of British Museum catalogues. A very welcome recent
accession to the catalogue is supplied by the sumptuous
monographs on Italian Masters produced by the Harvard
and Princeton University Presses.

The use of illustration is, however, by no means con-
fined to facsimiles and works on the arts. The modern
productions of the Press have made an increasing use of
illustration both as an embellishment and as a medium of
information. School-books in particular are now lavishly
illustrated with portraits, maps, diagrams, and other re-
productions, often either of modern photographs or of old
cuts and engravings carefully chosen, so that the actual
men and things of former times may be faithfully

The Press prints for the British Museum and other
London collections, as well as for the Ashmolean Museum
at Oxford, very large numbers of postcards in collotype,
by means of which a knowledge of our national art
treasures is being widely spread.

M 2

y. Official ^Publications

THE Press prints for the official purposes of the Uni-
versity the 'University Gazette (recording the official
Acts and Agenda of the University), the annual Calendar
(primarily a list of the members of the University), the
Statuta ^IJniversitatis and the Examination Statutes (both
published every year), and a number of smaller pamphlets
&c. giving special information. The numerous and far-
reaching changes, made necessary by the war and the fruits
of the war, have hitherto precluded the republication of
the useful and popular Oxford ^University Handbook, last
published in 1915". Meanwhile, the pamphlet of General
Information (on admission, residence, scholarships, and
some examinations) will be found valuable by those, at
home and abroad, who wish to form a general conception
of the opportunities afforded to students and the require-
ments which they must fulfil.

There are many other official books, both utilitarian
and antiquarian. Employers and others have often
occasion to inquire what places a member of the Uni-
versity obtained in the class-lists. The information, not
always available elsewhere, is given, from the beginning
to 1 9 oc, in the Historical Register of the University, and
for the years 190120, in the Supplement to that work
recently published. Benefactors and others interested
in University Finance are directed to the Abstract of the
Accounts of the "Dniversity and Colleges published annually.
Other publications of local usefulness include the Oxford



'University Pocket Diary for the academical year, and the
terminal list of all Resident Members of the 'University
(with addresses, telephone numbers, &c.).

The University twice during the war printed its Roll
of Service , and in 1920 published the third and de-
finitive edition: it contains the names, fourteen thousand
five hundred and sixty-one in number, of those members
of the University who served in the Military and Naval
forces of the Crown. The names of those who gave their
lives, two thousand four hundred and seventy-four in
number, are distinguished by heavy type.

The Oxford 'University Almanack has been printed
annually since 1674, and of the illustrations since 17 itf
the Press possesses the original plates. By far the greater
number are still on sale. Many of the recent plates are
of great interest and beauty; those for 190(5-10, and
that for 1918, are collotypes from drawings made for
the Almanack by Mr. Muirhead Bone ; most of the later
issues are chromo-collotypes reproducing water-colour
drawings, preserved at Oxford, by J. M. W. Turner and
other artists of his time.

The historical books dealing with Oxford and published
by the Press include Mr. Madan's Oxford Books, <- 1468 '-
itfyo, a work much esteemed by bibliographers; Mr.
ShadwelPs Enactments in Parliament (concerning Oxford,
Cambridge, Winchester, Eton, and Westminster); Mrs.
Poole's three volumes (one is out of print) of illustrated
catalogues of Oxford Portraits (all these published for,
or in co-operation with, the Oxford Historical Society);
and, in a lighter vein, Mr. Lamborn's popular Story of
Architecture in Oxford Stone and handy guides, written by
experts, to the Bodleian, other Oxford Libraries, the
Ashmolean Museum, the University Museum (of Natural


Science), and the picturesque Degree Ceremony (by the
Warden of Wadham). The Press offers also a History
of Oxford Rowing and the collected Orationes of the late
Public Orator, Dr. W. W. Merry, perhaps the only
man of modern times who could make a Latin speech
intelligible to an audience of undergraduates and ladies.

Lord Curzon's work on University Reform published
in 1909 is still on sale.



6. The Oxford English 'Dictionary

THE work described on its title-page as A New
English Dictionary on Historical Principles^ and long
known familiarly as N.E.D. or Murray* s Dictionary , but
now generally as the Oxford Dictionary^ has a continuous
history of more than half a century. It was in 185-7
that Dean Trench (afterwards Archbishop Trench) laid
the foundation of the work by calling the attention of
the Philological Society to the inadequacy of all existing
English Dictionaries. He pointed out that thousands of
words which had become obsolete, but remained in the
national literature, had either escaped the diligence of
lexicographers or had been excluded by the limitations
of their plan ; and in especial that no dictionary gave
any account of the history of words and their senses in
none was it ascertained when a word was first used, when

(if obsolete) it had last been used, and how its senses had
\ / *

been developed.

The members of the Philological Society threw
themselves eagerly into the plan proposed for supply-
ing these deficiencies, and an army of volunteers set
about the systematic examination of the whole body
of English literature. At length a dictionary was
projected (in place of the supplement first suggested,
which it was realized would be much larger than the
works it was designed to supplement), and Mr. Herbert
Coleridge was appointed editor. Fresh volunteers were
enlisted, and the work made progress. But it could


hardly have taken shape without the tireless industry
and indomitable courage of the next editor, Dr. Furnivall,
who saw, but did not shrink from, the immense pre-
paratory labours yet to be faced. Furnivall realized
that an English Dictionary could not be made until the
roots of the language could be examined in the mass of
our early literature, which was then hardly known , and
to provide this essential he founded in 1864 the Early
English Text Society the long list of whose publications,
still growing, may be read in the Clarendon Press

But even the enthusiasm of a Furnivall did not avail
to prevent a growing sense of despondency, when the
work seemed to lengthen out indefinitely with no promise
of performance. No private publisher could be found
to undertake a work so vast. It was decided to
invite the co-operation of the Clarendon Press. The
Philological Society and Dr. James Murray, who had
thrown himself into the work with an energy equal to
FurnivalPs own, and was by acclamation designated as
editor, entered into negotiations with the Delegates of
the Press, and an agreement was signed.

It is fortunate that the magnitude of human under-
takings is seldom perceived by those who engage upon
them. Coleridge had intimated that it would be time to
begin the Dictionary when a hundred thousand quotations
had been pigeon-holed. The efforts of Furnivall and
Murray brought the total to three and a half million
quotations, selected by thirteen hundred readers from the
works of five thousand authors. The work of accumula-
tion has gone on for forty years since, and to-day the
Dictionary contains about one and three-quarter million
printed quotations, selected from a greatly larger number.


Dr. Murray himself agreed with the Delegates for a work
of between 6,000 and 7,000 pages. The total will exceed
1 7,000. He expected to complete the book in ten years
with a small staff. To-day, thirty-five years after printing
began, the work, to which Murray himself contributed
more than 7,000 pages, is being carried on by three
editors with twelve assistants ; and the end is not yet.

It is impossible to value too highly the services of
voluntary helpers from the beginning to the present day.
The completeness and accuracy of the work, which is
probably without a rival in any country or in any age,
could not have been secured except by editors of the
greatest learning and ability and by the training of
a lifetime ; but these qualities would not have availed if
the work had not been founded upon inductive investiga-
tipns of a range never before attempted. For the wealth
of the materials made available our gratitude is due to
readers not only in the United Kingdom but in all parts
of the world, and notably in the United States of America,
where the Dictionary is regarded with affectionate
admiration as the common achievement of the English-
speaking people.

Valuable, however, as the work of these voluntary
helpers has been, an even larger debt of gratitude is due
to the faithful labours of the editorial staff of assistants,
some of whom can trace back their term of service to the
earliest years of the undertaking. To their acumen,
vigilance, and zeal have been and are due in large measure
the completeness of the evidence and the correctness of
detail in the presentation of words and their meanings.

Dr. Murray with his staff moved to Oxford in 1885-,
and there the work has been continuously carried on,

2467 N


partly in the Scriptorium attached to Dr. Murray's house,
partly (and in recent years wholly) in the Old Ashmolean
Building next door to the old Sheldonian Press and
within a stone's throw of the Bodleian. Here, as
a section of the alphabet comes to be treated, the
material is sifted, extracts from it are put in order, fresh
investigations, often laborious, are undertaken to settle
etymologies and doubtful points in the history of a word ;
copy is prepared for the printer, and references are
checked. The complete preparation of the material in-
volves researches of the most varied nature, some of
which lead the editors even beyond the confines of our
own language to novel and important discoveries.

The scope of the Dictionary, in the form which it finally
assumed, is thus stated in the preface to Volume I: c The
aim of this dictionary is to furnish an adequate account
of the meaning, origin, and history of English words now
in general use, or known to have been in use at any time
during the last seven hundred years. It endeavours (i) to
show, with regard to each individual word, when, how, in
what shape, and with what signification, it became English j
what development of form and meaning it has since re-
ceived; which of its uses have, in the course of time,
become obsolete, and which still survive ; what new uses
have since arisen, by what processes, and when: (2) to
illustrate these facts by a series of quotations ranging
from the first known occurrence of the word to the latest,
or down to the present day ; the word being thus made
to exhibit its own history and meaning: and (3) to treat
the etymology of each word strictly on the basis of
historical fact, and in accordance with the methods and
results of modern philological science.'

As the history of many English words begins with




the Anglo-Saxon period, and the < first known occurrence '
may be as early as the seventh century, the period actually
covered by hundreds of the articles in the Dictionary is
one of ten, eleven, or twelve centuries.

The extent to which the aim of the Dictionary has been
accomplished is not yet so widely known as it ought to be.
Many discussions as to the origin, history, and meaning
of words are carried on in newspapers and periodicals
which could be decided at once by a reference to the
Dictionary. Inquirers spend much of their own and
others' time, and in the end write to one of the editors,
in quest of information which has for years been avail-
able in the published volumes. Nor is it solely the
student of language who can profit by the use of the
Dictionary, although in this respect it is of unique value
both for English and Continental philologists. Every
scholar and scientist is likely to find in it some fresh light
upon his own subject, for many special points in the history
and terminology of the various sciences have for the first
time been elucidated in its pages.

The reputation, however, of the Dictionary is now so
widely spread that it would be superfluous to call witnesses
to its unique qualities and its profound usefulness. In the
legislature and in the law courts, as well as in the library
and the market place, its ruling on the meanings and use
of words is accepted as final. Nor is the range of the
work limited in this respect to the usage of the United
Kingdom; it embraces all forms of the language sanc-
tioned as standard by literary use, wherever English is
spokerf and written.

For these and other reasons no proper comparison can
be made with any other English dictionary; but the
magnitude of the result may none the less be gauged by

N 2


means of these. Taking one of the ten volumes as a basis
of comparison, the seventh, comprising words beginning
with O and P, has nearly 49,000 words (of which over
y,ooo are obsolete and nearly 2,000 are naturalized aliens).
No other English dictionary has more than 27,000 words
beginning with O and P. When comparison is made
of the number of illustrative quotations, the difference
is overwhelming; Vol. VII has 17^,000 quotations, and
no other dictionary has much more than 20,000 for the
same sections of the alphabet.

If it is thought that, great as the work is, it has taken
an inordinate time to produce, comfort may be taken
from the fate of comparable enterprises abroad. The
great Deutscbes Worterbucb started by the brothers Grimm
in 1838 began to be printed as long ago as i8ji,and
thus had a start of over .thirty years ; but though it is
only some two-thirds of the scale* of the Oxford book,
there still after sixty-seven years remains about a sixth to
do. The Dutch Woordenboek is less advanced, and the
dictionary of the Swedish Academy has not passed the
letter D.

The state of the work to-day is that of the ten
volumes nine are published, and of the tenth (Ti-Z)
substantial parts are complete, namely Ti-Ty, and V,
X Y Z, and the first sections of U and \V. The end,
however, is not so near as might be thought ; U is a large
section, and W is in many respects the most difficult letter
in the alphabet, consisting as it does almost entirely of
words of Teutonic origin, and therefore of obscure ety-
mology and complicated history. A lexicographer makes
light work of parallelepiped and supralapsarian^ it is when
he comes to words like wealth and work, war and


wild and wilful^ that his powers of discovery and of
discrimination are seriously taxed.

Sir James Murray (he was knighted in 1908) died
26 July 1915-. His ambition to see the completion of
the work on his eightieth birthday in 1917 was not
fulfilled, and even if he had lived to devote to it his
amazing powers of application, could not have been
fulfilled. He lived, however, to see the end of his life-
work in sight, and more than that of any other man his
name will be associated with the long and efficient
working of the great engine of research. The volumes
produced by him have characteristic excellences which
cannot be exactly matched, though they may be rivalled
by merits of another kind.

The work is now carried on by three editors, wor king-
independently on different sections of the alphabet.
Dr. Henry Bradley, whose period of work on the Dic-
tionary now rivals Murray's in point of time, is by
common consent the greatest of living English philologists.
He has been an editor since 1888. Professor W. A.
Craigie, who has been an editor since 1901, and Rawlinson
and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon since 1916, brings
to the work of the Dictionary a rare combination of
qualifications. He is especially eminent as a Scandi-
navian scholar. Mr. C. T. Onions, appointed an editor
in 1913, has been on the staff since 1895-. He is also
known to scholars as the author of the Oxford Shakespeare
Glossary and for his editorial part in Shakespeare^ s England.

The London Goldsmiths' Company contributed^ooo
towards the cost of the sixth volume of the Dictionary,
the title-page of which records their generous support.
Apart from this the whole of the editorial and manu-


facturing cost of the work has been borne by the Dele-
gates of the Press, who have defrayed from their general
revenues a heavy annual outlay for many years. This
has necessarily risen since the war, and it is fortunate that
so large a part of the work had been completed under
conditions less onerous than now obtain.

The price of the Dictionary has been kept very low,
the sections being published at the rate of 2/. 6d. for
sixty-four pages or less than a halfpenny per page con-
taining on an average over 3 oo lines of type and nearly
3,000 words. Few books have ever been sold at so
low a rate. The prices of volumes and half volumes
stoutly bound in leather have necessarily been advanced
in recent years to meet the enhanced cost of manu-
facturing; but the price of the Dictionary is still no
more than nominal, if regard is paid to the outlay
precedent to the actual manufacture of the books.
Sections in paper wrappers, issued after 1920, will be
priced at the rate of $/. for sixty-four pages; but it is
not proposed to raise the price of the bulk of the work
in this form.

The London Times in 1897 described the Dictionary
as < the greatest effort which any University, it may be
any printing press, has taken in hand since the invention
of printing. ... It will be not the least of the glories of

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Online LibraryOxford University PressSome account of the Oxford University Press, 1468-1921 → online text (page 5 of 6)