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William Falconer's Dictionary of the MarineReference Works
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Preface

T H E following work has engaged my utmost application for some years. Several performances on the same subject have already appeared ; as Sir H. Manwaring's Seaman's Dictionary; Boteler's Sea Dialogues, Guillet's Gentleman's Dictionary, and Blanckley's Naval Expositor, &c. Far from exhibiting an enlarged and comprehensive view of naval affairs, these productions are extremely imperfect, according to the very circumscribed plan which their authors have adopted. There are besides, the Dictionnaire de Marine of M. Aubin, published in Holland ; and that of M. Saverien, published in France. These are indeed voluminous, but very deficient in the most necessary articles. Besides a circumstantial detail of the local conomy of different marine departments, they are swelled out with astronomy, navigation, hydrography, natural history, &c. all of which are abundantly better treated in other compositions. Of the machinery of a ship; the disposition of the rigging on her masts and yards; and the comparative force of her different mechanical powers, their accounts however are often vague, perplexed, and unintelligible. With regard to her internal government in action; to the general regulations of the line of battle; and to the principal movements in sailing, they are almost totally silent. Had any of these works been executed with tolerable success, it might have rendered mine unnecessary; or probably have introduced it in the form of a transtation. I acknowledge with great pleasure the advantages I have derived, in the prosecution of this work, from several authors of distinguished reputation: in reality however none of those above-mentioned are of the number. In that part which is dedicated to the theory and art of ship-building, I owe considerable obligations to the ingenious M. Du Hamel. The principal pieces listed in the construction of a ship, together with their combination and disposition, are copiously and accurately described in his Elements of Naval Architecture: and his general account of the art itself is perspicuous and comprehensive. Many of his explanations I have therefore implicitly adopted.

In treating of the artillery, I have occasionally consulted Le Blonde, Muller and Robins, besides selecting some valuable materials from the manuscripts of officers of long experience and established reputation in that service. Whatever relates to the rigging, fails, machinery, and movements of a ship ; or to the practice of naval war, is generally drawn from my own observations; unless where the author is quoted.

As there are abundance of books professedly written on astronomy, and the theory of navigation, I have totally omitted the terms of the former, as foreign to my plan; and slightly passed over the latter; because no reader could acquire a sufficient idea of those sciences from so partial a description. Many of the least important parts of a ship, as well as of her rigging, are very generally defined. To explain the track of every particular rope, through it's different channels, would be equally useless and unintelligible to a land reader: to mariners it were superfluous: and even the youths who are trained to the sea would reap little advantage from it; because their situation affords them much better opportunities of making these minute discoveries. I have in general endeavoured to give the etymology of the most material expressions, unless when their evident analogy to common words rendered this unnecessary. Many reasons may be alledged for introducing the French tea-terms and phrases; particularly that obvious one, of understanding their pilots, when we may have occasion for their assistance. Wherever it was found necessary to explain one technical term by another, the latter is usually printed in italics the first time it is mentioned; to that the reader may refer to it for a further explanation.

As the plates of this publication were intended to illustrate the various objects to which they refer, they are little ornamented; but have in general the recommendation of simplicity and geometrical truth. In this part I have been particularly favoured with many original drawings, which are usually considered amongst the inaccessible arcana of ship-building. They are much more numerous, useful, and correct, than what has hitherto appeared in any work of the kind. In fine, I have endeavoured, to the best of my judgment, to retrench the superfluities, and supply the deficiencies of former writers on the same subject, as well as to digest and methodise whatever appeared loose or inaccurate therein.

This undertaking was first suggested to me by my worthy and ingenious friend George Lewis Scott, Esq; who considered it as a work of extensive utility. Indeed, in a country whose principal sources of strength are derived from the superiority of her marine, it is evidently wanted. I have the pleasure also to know that Sir Edward Hawke, and several officers of respectable abilities in our navy, are of the same opinion. To this may be added, what the celebrated M. Du Hamel lately observed, in a letter to me, Ce livre manquoit absolument; celui qui a été imprime en Hollande et qui a eu un debit considerable, est tres imparfait; celui de M. Saverien eest encore plus mauvais. I mention this expressly, because some sea-officers have considered the work unnecessary. It is however submitted, with all possible deference, to superior judges; to men of science and letters, who know the difficulty of explaining the parts of a mechanical system, when the readers are unacquainted with the subject.


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