ROGET, PETER MARK. 1779-1869.
Autograph Manuscript entitled "Classification" and "Arrangement of Knowledge" [London, c.1805.]
48 pp recto and verso, 8vo, blue paper-covered boards over later buckram spine, with manuscript titling piece, on paper watermarked 1799 and 1803.
Provenance: Peter Mark Roget; by descent to John Romilly Roget, sold by him at Phillips, Nov 12, 1992, lot 50.
ROGET'S "ARRANGEMENT OF KNOWLEDGE" WAS COMPOSED AT ABOUT THE SAME TIME AS HIS ORIGINAL THESAURUS AND ON MUCH THE SAME PRINCIPALS: IT APPEARS TO BE UNPUBLISHED, AND WAS UNKNOWN TO HIS BIOGRAPHER. It may have been begun just before the original thesaurus (the earlier gatherings having watermark dates of 1799, while Roget's manuscript thesaurus is watermarked 1802 and 1803). The "Arrangement of Knowledge" is an attempt to classify learning in the same way that the Thesaurus classifies words. The subjects are ordered under the headings and sub-headings on the contents leaf in three classes: "I. Physics or the Material World. II. Metaphysics, or the Intellectual World. III. Signs [Philology]." Each class is divided into sections, the sections into further sub-sections, etc.
As Donald Emblen wrote (with considerable prescience, when it is remembered that he did not know if the existence of this manuscript): "[Roget's] whole Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (1852) was, of course, built upon a conviction that he had devised a useful and thorough-going system of classifying all human knowledge" (see his "Roget vs. Panizzi-A Collision," in The Journal of Library History 1969, 9-38, p 36). The "Arrangement of Knowledge" also has some relevance to Roget's work on the classification of the library of the Medico-Chirurgical Society (forerunner of the Royal Society of Medicine) and the library of the Royal Society, of which he was Secretary. His work at the Royal Society led to a long and vituperative row with Antonio Panizzi who had been engaged to catalogue the library; one of the points at issue being a list of seventeen classes drawn up for the library before Panizzi was engaged. As Emblen remarks: "since the subject of the altercation was then, and is now, of prime interest to librarians and scholarsnamely, the problems of cataloguing; and finally, since the row may have left a deep imprint on the mold in which Panizzi was recasting the British Museum, it would seem that any new light thrown on the matter might be worth consideration" (p 9).
Armed with the "Arrangement of Knowledge" one can answer some of the furious questions which Panizzi threw at the Council, for example: "Under which of the seventeen heads, which I am instructed to adopt, am I to put books on acoustics?" (ibid p 15). The answer according to this manual is under class I ("Physics or the Material World"), part 2 ("Science of the laws of the Material World"), section 2 ("Natural Philosophy"), sub-section IV ("Acoustics"). Acoustics is divided into four further sections: "Simple Sound," "Continued Sound," "Combination of Sound," and "Applications," each of which is further itemized. Roget shows less decisiveness in other areas, the placement of Physiology, for example is deemed a section of zoology (part of Natural History) whereas it was apparently first listed as the third section of Science (both coming under the general class of Physics). What is classed as "Signs" on the contents leaf becomes "Philology" in the actual contents without further detail on individual languages or "bibliology."