Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dunbar, George

DUNBAR, GEORGE (1774–1851), classical scholar, the child of humble parents, was born at Coldingham in Berwickshire in 1774. He was employed in youth as a gardener, but was incapacitated from manual labour by a fall from a tree. Dunbar then had the good fortune to attract the notice of a neighbouring proprietor, who aided him to acquire a classical education. About the beginning of the nineteenth century he went to Edinburgh, and was employed as tutor in the family of Lord-provost Fettes. Within a few months he was selected as assistant to Andrew Dalzel, the professor of Greek at the university, and on the death of the latter in 1806 was appointed his successor, when he received the degree of M.A. from the university (February 1807). Dunbar filled the Greek chair until his death, though in his later years his duties were performed by a substitute, Mr. Kirkpatrick. He was twice married, and died at Rose Park, Edinburgh, on 6 Dec. 1851.

As a classical scholar Dunbar did not leave behind him a very enduring reputation, and the bulk of his work has but little permanent value. His industry, however, was very great. He completed a Greek grammar left unfinished by Dalzel (‘Elementa Linguæ Græcæ,’ pt. i. by Professor Moor of Glasgow, published 1806, pt. ii. by Dalzel and Dunbar, published 1814, Edin. and London), and added a third volume to Dalzel's ‘Collectanea Græca Majora’ (London, 1820). On his own account he published an edition of Herodotus, with Latin notes, ‘Herodotus cum annotationibus’ (7 vols. Edin. 1806–7); ‘Prosodia Græca’ (Edin. 1815); ‘Analecta Græca Minora’ (London, 1821); a very foolish ‘Inquiry into the Structure and Affinity of the Greek and Latin Languages … with an appendix in which the derivation of the Sanskrit from the Greek is endeavoured to be established’ (London, 1827); ‘Exercises on the Greek Language’ (Edin. 1832); ‘Elements of the Greek Language’ (Edin. 1834, 2nd ed. 1846); ‘Greek Prosody’ (Edin. 1843); ‘Extracts from Greek Authors’ (Edin. 1844). Dunbar's best work was the compilation of lexicons. In conjunction with E. H. Barker [q. v.] he wrote a ‘Greek and English and English and Greek Lexicon’ (Edin. 1831), which was well received. His own ‘Greek and English and English and Greek Lexicon’ (Edin., 1st ed. 1840, 2nd ed. 1844, 3rd ed. 1850) was the result of eight years' labour, with very considerable assistance from Dr. Francis Adams [q. v.] It is a carefully arranged and thorough piece of research, but is now practically superseded.

[Caledonian Mercury, 8 Dec. 1851; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

L. C. S.