Page images






HE value of Dunlop's "History of Fiction," now again,

after a long lapse of years, placed within reach of the English reader, needs no demonstration; it is amply attested by the numerous quotations from and references to it in all works, even of the most recent date, upon the history of imaginative literature. The explorations in the field of the genesis and genealogy of fiction have, indeed, recently attained such extensive development that probably no single writer could now be found bold enough to review such a vast domain as forms the scope of Dunlop's undertaking.

Writing at a period when comparatively little had been done in the ground he occupied, Dunlop was sensible of the magnitude of his task, and found it expedient to keep it within practicable compass by confining his attention to works in prose—a limitation, however, as need hardly be said, altogether artificial in tracing the evolutions of fictive composition, which passes, according to certain social conditions and by laws which might almost be determined, from verse to prose, and again from the latter to the metrical form.

In the domain of letters, as of material industries, increase of labour begets its subdivision and specialization. Investigations into the history of fictive literature while they have recently been prosecuted with so much learning


and activity have become limited to the works of a single nation, school or period, or even to a particular theme.

The endeavour of the editor has accordingly been not so much to incorporate the results of recent research in the present edition, a plan which would have swelled it beyond measure, as to shew the direction of such researches, and indicate where they may be followed further in connection with the subjects handled by Dunlop, and, as it were, sailing in his wake down the main current of imaginative literature, point out, as far as may be, the course and the recent surveys, by which the numerous affluents to the stream of fiction may be traced towards their sources.

Dunlop's text has been retained almost intact, with th exception of the article on the Graal romance, which th labours of M. Paulin Paris, M. Hucher, Professor Schulz and many other savants, rendered it necessary to re-write

The valuable notes to F. Liebrecht's German translatio of the work have been incorporated with the notest the present edition, and are usually acknowledged by th syllable : LIEB.

For a few notes the editor is indebted to Mr. Henı Jenner. These are subscribed H. J.

Dunlop scarcely even mentions the literature of sever northern countries. This omission, it is hoped, is here some extent remedied by appendices on prose fiction Germany, Scandinavia and Russia, which additions, hoy ever, it was necessary to restrict to the most exiguo limits.

For the rest, Dunlop's judgments and criticism are f the most part sound, and therefore of permanent valu his style is excellent, and the original text as full of i terest as ever, while, it is hoped, that the copious not and index now added, will prove useful to the student.

The author of the “ History of Fiction" was born on the 30th December, 1785, and was the son of John Dunlop, merchant of Glasgow, and Lord Provost of that city in 1796, Collector of Customs at Borrow-Stounness, and afterwards at Port Glasgow, where he died in 1820, author of some popular songs, among which may be named “Oh dinna ask me gin I lo'e you,” and “Here's to the


that's awa.” His wife, the mother of John Colin Dunlop, was a daughter of Sir Thomas Miller, of Glenlee, who was appointed Lord Justice Clerk in 1766, and Lord President of the Court in 1788; and a sister of Sir William Miller, of Glenlee, Bart., who was appointed one of the Judges of the Court of Session in 1795.

Of the career of her son, the writer of the “ History of Fiction," comparatively little would seem to be on record.

He was admitted a member of the Faculty of Advocates on the 7th March, 1807, the subject of his thesis being “De jure jurando, sive voluntario, sive necessario, sive judiciali." In 1816 he was appointed Sheriff of Renfrewshire, an office he continued to hold until his death, which occurred at 12, India Street, Edinburgh, on the 26th of January, 1842. He was said to have been a man of simple manners and unostentatious life, a lucid, fluent, and graceful speaker, and a sound lawyer.

For most of the above biographical particulars, I gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to Dr. Clerk, of the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh.

Besides the “ History of Fiction" its author also wrote:

“ The History of Roman Literature, from its earliest period to the Augustan age.” London, 1823-1828. 3 vols. 8vo.

“Memoirs of Spain during the reigns of Philip IV. and Charles II.," 1611-1700. London, 1834. 2 vols. 8vo.

The “ History of Fiction " was first published in 1814, the full title running “The History of Fiction; being a critical account of the most celebrated prose works of Fiction, from the earliest Greek Romances to the Novels of the Present Day." Edinburgh, 1814. 3 vols. 8vo.

A second edition was issued in 1816, and I have seen references to a Philadelphia reprint in two volumes, 1842, from the second edition, and to a third edition in one volume, 1845.

E W.

« PreviousContinue »