Johnson's Dictionary - Doomed to Clear Rubbish

In this first page to the preface Johnson complains about the lack of respect paid to the lexicographer, who is 'doomed only to remove the rubbish and clear obstructions from the paths of Learning and Genius.' Artists and writers, says Johnson, press on with their glamorous lives 'without bestowing a smile on the humble drudge that facilitates their progress.'

He explains that when he first started compiling his dictionary he had found the language to be 'copious without order, and energetick without rules.' 'Wherever I turned my view,' he writes, 'there was perplexity to be disentangled, and confusion to be regulated.' Johnson felt that the purpose of such a dictionary was to impose some order on to the language.

Taken from: Dictionary of the English Language
Author / Creator: Johnson, Samuel
Publisher: J. & P. Knapton, London
Date: 1755
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: 680.k.12,13.