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unassisted and alone. Soon after the confusion and devastation of war had given way to the arts of
peace, attempts began to be made to remedy this serious evil. Associations for the purpose of improving medical science were soon formed, not only in Philadelphia, which had been for some years the seat of a medical school, but in almost every State in the union. Few of these societies have made very large or important publications; but they have produced many lasting advantages to the individuals composing them, and to the interests of the healing art
. They have brought physicians to be acquainted with each other. They have collected a large mass of facts, hints, observations and inquiries, which if not always given to the world, constitute a source of improvement to the associates themselves. They have instituted annual orations, which, in various ways, tend to promote their primary object. They have issued prize questions, and bestowed premiums, which awaken dormant powers, and excite a laudable spirit of emulation. In a word, they have contributed to raise the practice of medicine in our country from a selfish and sordid trade, to a liberal, dignified, and enlightened profession.
4. Agricultural Societies. Associations for the promotion of agriculture, and the auxiliary arts and sciences, while they have been multiplied in every part of the scientific world, have also, during the latter half of the last century, become numerous in America. There is scarcely a State in the Union in which an institution of this kind has not been established, and in some of the States there are more than one. The most conspicuous and active of these associations are those established in Massachusetts, New-York, and Pennsylvania. That in New-York, denominated the Society for promoting Agriculture, Arts and Manufactures, has been particularly distinguished, and, it is believed, is the only one of this nature in the United States which has made a regular publication of its proceedings, and of the principal memoirs communicated by its members. The useful effects of these institutions are undeniably great, in various parts of our country. They have excited a spirit of inquiry, experiment and diligence in agricultural pursuits, among a considerable portion of our citizens; they have contributed to raise the dignity and importance of agriculture in the popular opinion; they have collected facts and doctrines; from different districts, for more full trial and satisfactory comparison; and if they have encouraged in any cases a disposition for speculative and visionary farming, they have promoted, in a still greater degree, practical and valuable improvements.
The literary and scientific associations of the eighteenth century differed considerably from those which were formed in preceding times. Besides being more numerous, they were also more extensive in their plan, and embraced a greater number of distant and foreign associates; they directed more of their attention to the physical sciences, and rendered the mode of inquiry by experiment more general and more accurate; and, finally, they were more active in their exertions, kept more heads and hands at work, and engaged more of the public attention, than the societies of preceding times.
+ The Agricultural Society of Massachusetts has made, it is believed, several mall publications; but the author has not been so fortunate as to see themy or to be particularly informed of their contents.
ENCYCLOPÆDIAS AND SCIENTIFIC DICTIONARIES.
ALMOST all the works of this kind which exist are productions of the last age. The first attempt of which we read, to give a distinct and methodical view of all arts and sciences, in a series of volumes, was that by AVICENNA, the great Arabian philosopher and physician, who flourished in the eleventh century. At the age of twenty-one, as we are told, he conceived the bold design of incorporating into one work all the parts of human knowledge then studied; and, in pursuance of this plan, compiled a real Encyclopedia, in twenty volumes, to which he gave the name of The Utility of Utilities. The art of printing, however, being yet unknown, it is not to be supposed that his work had any considerable circulation, or that it contributed much to the promotion of knowledge.
The next publication of this kind worthy of notice is the Margarita Philosophica, by Reischius, a learned German, printed at Strasburgh, in 1509. About the same time with REISCHIUS flourished ANDREW MATTHEW ACQUAVIVA, Duke of Alti and Teramo, in the kingdom of Naples, who formed a plan of an universal dictionary of arts and sciences, to which he first
the name of an Encyclopædia, which has been since generally employed to designate works of this class. After ACQUAVIVA, no literary labourer seems to have engaged in so hardy an enterprize, until Alste
bius, a German protestant divine, who, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, published an Encyclopædia, which was highly esteemed, even among catholics.
It was printed at Lyons, and had much circulation over a considerable part of the continent of Europe. These appear to have been the most important, if not the whole of the works of this kind which appeared prior to the eighteenth century, for the Dictionaries of BAYLE; and MORERI, published towards the close of the preceding age, though works of great labour and learning, yet being chiefly of a biographical and historical nature, can scarcely have a place assigned them, with propriety, in the present list.
About the beginning of the eighteenth century, Dr. John Harris, an English clergyman, of disa tinguished erudition, published his Lexicon Tech nicúm, a work in two volumes folio; embracing a great variety of knowledge, as it then stood, and; at that period, highly instructive and much esteemed. The next compilation of this kind was that produced by Mr. EPHRAIM CHAMBERS, also of Great-Britain, which first appeared in 1728, in two volumes folio, and was doubtless much superior to all that had gone before it. CHAMBERS denominated his work a Cyclopædia. It was the result of many years intense application to study, and was received by the public in the most favourable manner. It went through a number of editions in the native country of its author, within a few years after its first appearance; was soon translated into the Italian language, and had many honours heaped upon it by the learned of those times. This work has been since enlarged and printed in four volumes folio, by Dr. Rees, and in this improved form is yet much valued.
* It is believed that Dr. Harkis's work was first published in 1704. VOL. II.
The next in order was a Dictionary of Arts and Trades, published by a society in France, and embracing an amount of information on all mechanical subjects, more extensive and curious than had ever before been collected. This was followed by the celebrated French Encyclopedid, of which Messrs. D'ALEMBERT and DIDEROT were the principal conductors, aided by a number of their learned countrymen. It is probable that they were prompted to this undertaking by the fame and success of Mr. CHAMBERS's work; and also by a premeditated and systematic design to throw all possible odium on revealed religion. This great compilation was begun in 1752, and brought to a close about fifteen or twenty years afterwards, in thirty-three folio volumes. A leading feature of the Encyclopedid is the encouragement which it artfully gives throughout to the most impious infidelity; and though much valuable science is undoubtedly diffused through its pages, yet it is so contaminated with the mixture of licentious principles in morals and religion, that nothing but its great voluminousness prevents it from being one of the most pernicious works that ever issued from the press.
After the appearance of the French Encyclopedid, Baron BielFELD, of Germany, "published a work which he called The Elements of Universal Erudition. This compilation, however, is comparatively little known, and is certainly inferior to many made both before and since. About the year 1760, a bookseller, by the name of Owen, published a kind of Encyclopædia, in three very large octavo volumes. This work, though less full on many subjects than some that had gone before it, yet contained much useful information, the mode of exhibiting which has been generally applauded. In 1764 appeared The Complete Dic