WEBSTER, Noah (1758-1843), American lexicographer. Autograph manuscript, a portion of the manuscript of his American Dictionary, with several definitions neatly lined through and numerous revisions to the text, n.d. [before 1828]. 4 pp, 4to, slight spotting.
A LEAF FROM THE MANUSCRIPT OF THE FIRST AMERICAN DICTIONARY
The manuscript consists of approximately 150 words in Webster's bold, hurried hand, with corrections or deletions in the text. Two entire definitions are lined out, as are long passages defining "blockhouse" amd "blobber." The manuscript comprises Webster's definitions of some 11 terms: blobber, blubber, blobberlip, blobberlipped, block (10 different meanings), blockade (two meanings), blockaded, block head, blockheaded, blockhausen, and blomary. Authorities cited by Webster include Dryden, Carew and L'Estrange.
"Webster was an ardent nationalist and wished to stress the political separation from Britain by the cultivation of a separate American language....Webster's great dictionary, all the 70,000 entries of which he wrote with his own hand, has been reprinted and brought up to date innumerable times" (Printing and the Mind of Man 291). Only a handful of separate leaves from the massive manuscript of Webster's pioneering An American Dictionary of the English Language (New Haven, 1828) are in circulation; most of the manuscript, some 450 pages, is at the Pierpont Morgan Library. See H. Cahoon, T.V. Lange and C. Ryskamp, American Literary Autographs (New York, 1977), no.1 and p.208.