An Appeal to the English-Speaking and English-Reading Public
in Great Britain, America, and the British Colonies to read books and make extracts for the Philological Society’s New English Dictionary

In the Early English period up to the invention of Printing, so much has been done and is doing that little outside help is needed. But few of the earliest printed books – those of Caxton and his successors – have yet been read, and any one who has the opportunity and time to read one or more of these, either in the originals, or accurate reprints, will confer valuable assistance by so doing. The later sixteenth-century literature is very fairly done; yet here several books remain to be read. The seventeenth century, with so many more writers, naturally shows still more unexplored territory. The nineteenth-century books, being within the reach of everyone, have been read widely; but a large number remain unrepresented, not only of those published during the last ten years while the dictionary has been in abeyance, but also of earlier date. But it is in the eighteenth century above all that help is urgently needed. The American scholars promised to get the eighteenth-century literature taken up in the United States, a promise which they appear not to have … fulfilled, and we must now appeal to English readers to share the task, for nearly the whole of that century’s books, with the exception of Burke’s works, have still to be gone through.

Guidance to reading
''Make a quotation for every word that strikes you as rare, obsolete, old-fashioned, new, peculiar or used in a peculiar way. Take special note of passages which show or imply that a word is either new and tentative, or needing explanation as obsolete and archaic, and which thus help to fix the date of its introduction or disuse. Make as many quotations as you can for ordinary words, especially when they are used significantly, and tend by the context to explain or suggest their own meaning. ''

(Winchester, p. 107-109)

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