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BY W. GREGOR, LL.D.
THE late Mr Small, a short time before his death, committed to me the completion of the edition of the 'Poems of William Dunbar' which he had undertaken for the Scottish Text Society. Mr Small's name will always be honourably associated with the language and literature of Scotland. Between the death of Mr David Laing and the formation of the Scottish Text Society Mr Small did much to foster a taste for Scottish literature and to spread a knowledge of it. His editions of some of the Scottish poets are ample proofs of his industry, learning, and love of the literature of his native country.
Æneas J. G. Mackay, Esq., undertook to write an Introduction to the poems, and this he has done with such skill and learning as to throw a very full light on the life and times of the poet, and to leave little to be done by any future biographer.
The Notes and Glossary were undertaken by me. William Dunbar seems to me to be the representative of the thought, the language, and the literature of his country at the time he lived. Both Court and people pass as in a panorama in his poems. My object has therefore been to illustrate them as fully as possible, so as to bring out the life of the Scottish people at a time of no small intellectual, political, and commercial activity in the nation. The Scottish language is well represented in the poems. The Glossary has therefore been made full. Every word and form of word have been registered, and meanings have been added when considered necessary. Many of the words have caused much difficulty, and in not a few cases I have made what must be taken only as guesses. It may be that some words have escaped my notice, and so are not registered. I do not think, however, there are many omissions.
In carrying out this long and difficult work, many kind friends have given me much willing help. To all of them I return my warmest thanks. If my work possesses any merits, let my generous helpers have their share of praise. Whatever defects are in it fall to me.
My special thanks are due to Æneas J. G. Mackay, Esq., Sheriff of Fife and Kinross; James Cranstoun, Esq., M.A., LL.D.; Rev. Walter W. Skeat, Litt. D., LL.D. Edin., M.A. Oxon., Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, Cambridge; James A. H. Murray, Esq., B.A. Lond., LL.D. Edin., Editor of A New English Dictionary on Historical
Principles'; James Moir, Esq., M.A., LL.D., Aberdeen; F. J. Amours, Esq., Glasgow; and Alexander M. Munro, Esq., Aberdeen. All these have given me ungrudgingly much valuable counsel and aid. I have bestowed much time and labour on the work, in order to make it as complete as I could, and I now commit it to the members of the Scottish Text Society, in the hope that it will help them to enter into the spirit of the writings of one of Scotland's greatest and most versatile poets.
"Faultes escaped in the printing, correcte with your pennes; omitted by my neglygence, overslippe with patience; committed by ignorance, remit with favour."