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Pen, print and communication in the eighteenth century$
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Caroline Archer-Parré and Malcolm Dick

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789622300

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789622300.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

Identity, Enigma, Assemblage

Identity, Enigma, Assemblage

John Baskerville’s Vocabulary, or Pocket Dictionary

(p.141) 9 Identity, Enigma, Assemblage
Pen, print and communication in the eighteenth century

Lynda Mugglestone

Liverpool University Press

The Vocabulary, or Pocket Dictionary (1766) printed by John Baskerville has long remained a puzzle as to authorship and intent. An avowedly ‘small performance’, it is nevertheless strikingly distinctive in a range of ways. This chapter traces its intellectual context in ways which confirm Baskerville’s status as lexicographer as well as printer. Salient, too, is its stance on aspects of faith, morality, and salvation in forms closely aligned with Baskerville’s own thinking. Telling absences appear in terms of the expected ordering and inclusion of headwords, as well as in the attendant framing of definitions. Books, Johnson stressed, ‘have always a secret influence on the understanding’ whereby ideas ‘often offered to the mind, will at last find a lucky moment when it is disposed to receive them’. The ‘secret influence’ of the Vocabulary is, this chapter argues, a critical aspect of its meaning, and the knowledge that readers might gain.

Keywords:   Lexicography, Religion, Baskerville, Joseph Priestley, Samuel Johnson

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