Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/155


I do not think it very needful minutely to inform the studious of the several advantages that this work may justly boast above ali former compilations of Italian and English words. However, that I may not incur the blame of too much carelesness about a long and toilsome performance, it will not be improper to apprise the few who give themselves the trouble of inquiring into the labours of lexicographers, of what I have done towards facilitating the way to the acquisition of the two best living languages. The dictionary of Altieri was hitherto the largest and least contemptible work of this kind. The man certainly went a good way farther than his predecessors Florio and Tornano; yet many of his definitions awakened often my risibility. Those «aquatick birds», called «halcyons» by the poets, he converted into so many «fishes». The «carnei» was in his opinion the «largest of quadrupeds», and the «snail» he ranked amongst the «insects». The «cochineal» he called «a berry», and the «indigo», «a stone». The «onyx» and the «calcidonius» with him were not «gems», but «kinds of alabaster», and the «leaves» were «excrements of trees». He thought that «orb» meant «a hollow sphere», and made «the ninth heaven perform its course in four and twenty hours from cast to west». These and many other tokens of the ignorance of an author whose labours were the ground- work of mine, I would have passed over in silence, as he does not appear to have aimed at any reputation but that of an indefatigable compiler, had he G. Baretti, Prefazioni e polemiche. io