Joe Lines »

Joe Lines lives in Xi’an, China, where he teaches English on dual-degree programmes run by Chang’an University and University College, Dublin. His articles have appeared in Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies and Eighteenth-Century Ireland. He is the author of a chapter on the novel and criminal biography in the collection Irish Literature in Transition, 1700–1780, edited by Moyra Haslett (CUP, 2020). His first monograph, The Rogue Narrative and Irish Fiction, 1660–1790, will be published by Syracuse University Press in November 2020.

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This article is © 2020 The Author and is the result of the independent labour of the scholar credited with authorship. Unless otherwise noted, the material contained in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND) International License.
Date of acceptance: 8 January 2019.

Referring to this Article

J. Lines. ‘William Lane, the Ramble Novel and the Genres of Romantic Irish Fiction’, Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780–1840, 23 (Summer 2020)

Online: Internet (date accessed):
PDF DOI:10.18573/romtext.70

William Lane, the Ramble Novel and the Genres of Romantic Irish Fiction

Abstract Abstract

Abstract: This article concerns the early career of William Lane as a fiction publisher, before his adoption of the Minerva brand in 1792. It reveals that Lane played an active role in promoting Irish-authored fiction to London readers, and contributed to the endurance of a popular yet neglected form of mid-eighteenth-century comic fiction. In the 1780s, Lane published many Irish novelists; also notable among his novels were several 'ramble novels', or bluff comedies of masculine travel in the style of Fielding and Smollett. It was only later that his press became known for Gothic and historical fiction and associated with the female reader. The article charts the popularity of ramble fiction in the 1780s and its treatment by reviewers and anthologists. It then closely examines one Irish ramble novel published by Lane in order to demonstrate the significance of the form to the history of Irish fiction and its capacity to accommodate serious political themes. The Minor, or the History of George O’Nial (1786) engages with the campaigns against the Penal Laws, which restricted the freedoms of Catholics and Dissenters. It was written in the midst of the first repeals of certain of these laws, and calls for more far-reaching reforms. Through a narrative centred on Irish characters, the novel advocates for Ireland’s disempowered Catholic inhabitants.


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In 1784, William Lane included the following advertisement on the back page of one of his publications: ‘Wanted several Novels in manuscript for publishing the ensuing Season’. [1] In 1790, he adopted the name of the Minerva Press for his Leadenhall Street business. In the intervening six years, Lane became London’s leading publisher of new fiction. [2] This article focuses on novels issued under Lane’s name within this crucial period, in which the proportion of fiction within his overall output increased markedly, laying the foundations for his lasting success as a specialist publisher. The Minerva later became a byword for the inferior, formulaic and ephemeral in Romantic fiction, but any attempt to typify the output of such a prolific publishing business was always going to be simplistic. Deborah Anne McLeod decisively refutes the perception that Lane adhered to a trusted formula of ‘Gothic and sentimental romances’, finding ‘a previously unappreciated diversity’ of ‘sub-genre’ in Lane’s novels between 1790 and 1820. [3] This conclusion is both reinforced and supplemented in the present essay through an emphasis on the novels Lane issued before he adopted the Minerva brand. Between 1780 and 1790, Lane published several works that we would now call ‘ramble novels’, and my study of these works sheds new light on the development of fictional styles and tastes in the early Romantic period. The Minerva Press is usually associated with female novelists and readers, and Lane’s choice of the figure of Minerva has been taken as proof of the way in which popular fictional styles such as the gothic were devalued through being gendered as women’s fare. [4] However, Lane’s ramble novels complicate this picture and add to what we know about gendered understandings of genre in the Romantic period, because this style was instead seen as highly masculine, with the most archetypical examples featuring male heroes. [5] Another observable feature of Lane’s novels in the 1780s is the frequency of Irish-authored or Irish-set texts, and this article will discuss shared themes in these works, through a case study of a now little-known ramble novel that uses Irish settings and characters, The Minor; or History of George O’Nial, Esq. (1786).

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentThe term ‘ramble novel’ stems from the travel plots of such novels, as well as the use of the word ‘ramble’ in many titles. Existing studies have focused on the mid-eighteenth century, the period that saw the most acclaimed and influential examples of the subgenre. The success of Tobias Smollett’s The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748) and Henry Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749) led to biographical ‘adventures’ or ‘histories’ such as The History of Will Ramble (1754) becoming a staple of the English fiction market. As early as 1751, an essay sometimes attributed to Francis Coventry identified a ‘new Sect of Biographers’ whose productions shared a characteristic realism, comic style and ‘Insight into Low-Life’. [6] The ramble novel, then, was denoted by its ‘Low’ style of comedy, use of a peripatetic travel narrative and biographical focus on one person from early life to maturity. Simon Dickie’s recent work on ramble fiction has returned such texts to their place in eighteenth-century culture, highlighting the way in which their unfeeling and bawdy humour undercuts the era’s supposedly dominant sentimentalism. [7] Dickie calls the ‘male-centered ramble novel’ ‘the most neglected subgenre of midcentury fiction’, highlighting the sheer number of such texts that appeared between 1750 and 1770. Dickie concludes that ‘in truth such texts are dead ends—without influence and stubbornly of their time […] literary history left them behind’. [8] Given that Dickie focuses on the years between 1750 and 1770, this verdict implies that ramble fiction was a mid-century fashion that was supplanted by newer genres. Similarly, critical accounts of the rise of the ‘novel of manners’ after Frances Burney’s Evelina (1778) and Cecilia (1782) have noticed a contemporaneous decline in ramble fiction. James Raven, for instance, identifies a ‘flock of imitators of Frances Burney’ between 1780 and 1792, and contrasts this publishing trend with a lessening of ‘admitted imitation of Fielding and Smollett’. [9] But such chronologies of genre are belied by the fact that new ramble novels continued to be written and published into the 1790s, as my survey of publishing trends in the first section reveals. In fact, ramble novels constituted sound and profitable investments for Lane’s growing press.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentLane has been singled out as ‘among the major publishers that sponsored Irish authors’ in London, [10] and Minerva would become an important outlet for Irish women novelists such as Regina Maria Roche (1763/64–1845) and Catharine Selden (fl. 1797). [11] Indeed, his interest in Irish works and writers is observable before 1790. In 1780, Lane issued a translation of Mme de Lafayette’s The Princess of Cleves (1678) by the Irish playwright, novelist and critic Elizabeth Griffith (1727–93), who lived in London from 1764 onwards. [12] Two novels by Elizabeth Sheridan (1754–92) that have latterly attracted critical interest also came from Lane’s press: The Fairy Ring, or Emeline, a Moral Tale (1782) and The Reconciliation (1783). [13] The latter novel was previously published in Dublin as The Triumph of Prudence over Passion (1782); the title page of the London edition differed also in announcing itself as ‘An Hibernian Novel’ by ‘An Irish Lady’. [14] Such marketing strategies sought to capitalise on wider trends, and Caroline Franklin has discerned a marked ‘regionalism’ and interest in Britain’s ‘Celtic fringes’ in the fiction of the 1780s. [15] Ever observant of fashions, Lane issued novels that foregrounded Welsh settings before 1790, for instance Powis Castle, or Anecdotes of an Ancient Family (1788). Mariamne: Or, Irish Anecdotes, published with Minerva in 1793, was advertised as by the same author as Powis Castle. [16] The ramble novel had proven a productive vehicle for Irish-focused stories, and Dickie notes that ‘[s]ome of the earliest Irish novels are exercises in this genre’, instancing here William Chaigneau’s The History of Jack Connor (1752). [17] Later Irish ramble novels included Charles Johnston’s The History of John Juniper (1781) and The Adventures of Anthony Varnish (1786), usually also attributed to Johnston, and published by Lane. [18] The tale of a young Irish servant who moves to London, Anthony Varnish foregrounds the status of Irish identity within wider geographies. Ian Campbell Ross calls the novel ‘a very early emigration narrative’, and Derek Hand notes its interest in the ‘confusion of the Anglo-Irish in England as Irish, highlighting their difficulty in differentiating themselves, or projecting a viable collective sense of identity’. [19] Such scholarship testifies to the fact that Lane was publishing significant works of Irish fiction from an early point in his career. This article offers an examination of a hitherto unread work published by Lane that draws on the male-centred ramble narrative whilst taking a keen interest in Irish affairs. The Minor uses a conventional plot of travel and romantic intrigue, but is distinctive and striking in its political views. The novel advocates for the dismantling of the Penal Laws, enforced in the early eighteenth century to restrict the rights and socio-political influence of Catholics and Dissenters. The novel’s knowledge of Irish settings, cultural contexts and religious debates point to probable Irish authorship. My reading of the novel in the second section of this article will demonstrate that ramble fiction was capable of accommodating stories that were urgent and politically conscious, and reinforce the view of Lane as a publisher of innovative Irish fiction.

The Ramble Novel after 1770: Endurance and Exhaustion

The increased volume of fiction issuing from Lane’s press after 1785 included several novels conforming to the ramble pattern. Anthony Varnish and The Minor were followed by Captain Nixon’s The Ramble of Philo, and his Man Sturdy (1788), the tale of an unworldly, sentimental country gentleman’s son who embarks on a tour through England. The anonymous The Bastile: Or, History of Charles Townly, a Man of the World (1789) in fact contains no mention of revolution in France, although the hero spends time in Paris. Townly is expelled from Oxford, falls into dissipation, is abandoned by friends and family, and journeys as far as Java before returning to England for a typical providential ending in which he gains both a fortune and his long-lost beloved, Caroline. [20] Another ramble novel published by Lane was The Man of Failing: A Tale (1789), which concerns Abel Nelson’s romantic fortunes in his home city of Bristol and in London. The titular pun on Henry Mackenzie’s popular sentimental novel The Man of Feeling (1771) sets up a portrait of a youth who is more fallible than Mackenzie’s ideal hero, Harley. Nelson and his lover Sophia Miller give way to ‘accidental temptations’ early in the narrative, yet it is stressed that his ‘Failing’ is excusable, as his ‘principles’ are not ‘vitiated with modern libertinism’. [21] The heroine’s name nods to Sophia Western in Tom Jones, and more broadly, The Man of Failing, The Ramble of Philo and Charles Townly are characteristic of male-centred ramble fiction in their use of a roguish yet sympathetic hero who is rewarded by a concluding marriage.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentThe ramble novels published by Lane in the 1780s were marketed very much in the terms of the tradition, with titles featuring the names of heroes and the key terms ‘ramble’, ‘history’ or ‘adventures’. Reviewers were quick to note their imitativeness, with the Critical Review opening its account of Charles Townly thus: ‘The style and manner of this work are not unlike those of Roderick Random’. [22] The same periodical said of The Man of Failing that ‘[t]he author’s manner resembles that of the unsuccessful imitators of Fielding’. [23] The Monthly Review remarked of The Ramble of Philo that ‘to succeed in the line of writing, which he has here attempted, requires not only the pen but the judgment of a Fielding or a Le Sage’. [24] Alain-René Lesage (1668–1747) was the celebrated French author of Gil Blas (1715–35), translated by Smollett into English in 1748. Ramble novels published by Lane were predictably also accused of moral licentiousness: the Monthly said of The Minor that ‘the Author has represented human nature in the most ugly and unseemly shapes’, whilst Anthony Varnish was ‘[m]ade up entirely of scenes of low life’. [25] The predominant tone of exhaustion with which Lane’s ramble novels were received might imply that, by the 1780s, this style was viewed as somewhat tired.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentThe verdicts of metropolitan periodicals, of course, did not reflect popular taste, especially in a climate in which circulating libraries such as Lane’s had expanded the book-reading public. In the 1780s, all kinds of novels were still liable to meet with a negative reception, and, as Michael Gamer reminds us, ‘both the Monthly and Critical, as serious literary reviews, were generally unfriendly to fiction’. [26] But despite the attitudes expressed in periodicals, new ramble novels continued to be written and published by Lane and others well into the 1790s. A number of novels appearing between 1770 and 1773 imply a popularity undiminished from the previous decade. [27] Such titles, however, are scarce for the middle and later parts of the decade, which probably reflects general trends. The rate of publication of new novels fell from 39 in 1773 to yearly totals between 16 and 18 for the years from 1776 to 1779. Numbers were between 20 and 24 from 1780 to 1784, but then rose sharply to 47 in 1785; by 1789, the yearly rate was 71. [28] The increasing health of the fiction market in the mid- to late 1780s was due in no small part to the activities of Lane at Leadenhall Street, where the production of novels rose from 3 in 1784 to 27 in 1790. For the years between 1784 and 1790, 102 novels with Lane imprints are listed by Peter Garside, James Raven and Rainer Schöwerling. [29] The texts which I have classified as ramble novels above make up slightly less than 5 per cent of this total; ramble fiction, then, was only ever a small part of the diverse range of texts found in Lane’s lists. Nevertheless, the fact that one publisher issued at least five such works in three years suggests the endurance of the style into the 1780s. The numbers provided by Garside, et al. give some basis for the contention that increased demand for new novels led to the male-centred ramble novel acquiring a new currency in this decade. Lane, whose press was so dynamic in these years, can be given some credit for the renewed popularity of the style.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentLane was not alone here, however; ramble fiction was very much part of the general upsurge of novels in the 1780s, in which a steady stream of new titles, complete with alliteratively named heroes in the manner of Smollett, ensured that such novels would not have seemed like risky investments for the publisher. [30] Johnston’s John Juniper (1781) centres on a duplicitous hero, the son of a London-Irish publican, and combines the peripatetic, masculine novels of Smollett with the older tradition of criminal biography. [31] Elizabeth Blower’s George Bateman: A Novel (1782) was acclaimed in the European Magazine and London Review as ‘a masterly imitation of Tom Jones’, language suggesting that ‘imitation’ could actually distinguish a novel. [32] John Trusler’s Modern Times, or the Adventures of Gabriel Outcast […] In Imitation of Gil Blas (1785) was conspicuously successful, going through five editions in London between 1785 and 1789, with a Dublin edition in 1785. [33]

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentLane’s publication of several male-centred ramble novels after 1785 can be further contextualised via an immensely popular serial publication that played an important part in shaping tastes. James Harrison’s The Novelist’s Magazine was a series of reprints of novels, appearing in twenty-three volumes between 1779 and 1788. In Gamer’s words, Harrison ‘almost singlehandedly filled his country’s bookshops and circulating libraries with reprints of standard British fiction’. [34] Indeed, Harrison can be compared to the entrepreneurial publisher-cum-librarian Lane in making fiction accessible to a broader geographical and social range of readers. Richard C. Taylor emphasises the affordability of Harrison’s volumes, at sixpence for an octavo. [35] The Novelist’s Magazine was an early effort to formulate a canon of English novels, and favoured the ‘foreign or oriental tale’ and novels of ‘masculine adventure’. [36] Indeed, Harrison’s series showed a marked and repeated preference for ramble fiction, republishing not only the well-respected Roderick Random, Tom Jones and Gil Blas, but the less well-known Life and Adventures of Joe Thompson by Edward Kimber (1751) and Robert Paltock’s Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins (1751). [37] The Novelist’s Magazine reinforced the visibility and prestige of the novel of masculine adventure between 1779 and 1788, boosting the appeal of the new examples issued by Lane. Harrison’s ambition to isolate and preserve the best of English fiction was not shared by Lane, but the two men’s publishing enterprises shared their accessibility, and Harrison’s consciousness of particular subgenres of novel, along with their prototypes and lineages, may also have been mirrored at Leadenhall Street. Lane’s output in the 1780s implies that similarity to recognised narrative patterns was seen as a virtue, by publishers and readers.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentDespite Harrison’s efforts to raise the status of the novel of Smollett and Fielding, periodicals, especially the Monthly and Critical, sustained the attack on ramble novels as derivative and scurrilous. But around 1788, another criticism of ramble fiction began to appear: that it was dated or old-fashioned. One review of Anne Hughes’ Henry and Isabella (Lane, 1788) described it as a ‘novel of the Burney-school’:

The period of Evelina and Cecilia may be considered a new æra in the age of novels. The more laboured and intricate plots of Fielding, the eccentric, and sometimes exaggerated characters of Smollett, are rendered smoother by the polish of fashionable life. [38]

The following year, the same periodical wrote of The Man of Failing: ‘The author’s manner is a little uncommon, in this age, and resembles that of the unsuccessful imitators of Fielding’. [39] Also published in 1789 was The Life and Adventures of Anthony Leger, which the English Review called a ‘revival of the old style of novel-writing, and much after the manner of Fielding’, though it was nevertheless ‘full of incidents, many of them interesting and entertaining’. [40] This demonstrates that the view of ramble fiction as old-fashioned was not restricted only to the Monthly and Critical, journals that disapproved of new novels almost on principle. The ideas expressed in 1788 and 1789 that imitation of Smollett and Fielding is an ‘old style of novel-writing’ are not paralleled in earlier reviews, and are actually belied by the frequent appearance of novels in this manner—new and reissued—in the 1780s. Possibly it was the very volume of imitative novels that led critics to accuse the form of staleness, another barb to be thrown at this resilient subgenre. Or such judgments may reflect the process by which the reputation of newer novelists such as Burney came to rival that of older authors. Calling time on ramble novels was possibly part of a broader process by which other subgenres such as the novel of manners came to be seen as fashion leaders in the market. In the late 1780s, then, periodical reviewers came to differ from compilers such as Harrison in their low estimation of ramble novels, thus revealing tensions in the formation of concepts of fictional genre and prestige at the outset of the Romantic period.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentWhilst new novels in the ramble style continued to divert readers after 1790, Lane issued far fewer works of this kind after founding the Minerva. The Irish author Maria Hunter’s Fitzroy; or, Impulse of a Moment (Lane, 1792) fits the pattern, with its sympathetic hero, a high-spirited youth from Co. Tipperary, and plot of travel and romantic intrigue. But after 1792, the only probable ramble novel from Lane that I have been able to trace is Elizabeth Bonhote’s The Rambles of Mr Frankly (1796), a reprint of a work first published in 1772. [41] The low numbers of works bearing the hallmarks of the ramble style are more striking when we consider that Lane was publishing more books in the 1790s than in the 1780s. [42] Furthermore, the appearance of ramble titles from other presses continued in the 1790s. [43] It is possible that Lane also came to see the ramble novel as outdated, although it is doubtful that he took much account of the reviews of Henry and Isabella or The Man of Failing. What would have carried more weight was the lack of a conspicuous best-seller among the ramble novels he had published already. Anthony Varnish and The Minor both went into second editions, but The Ramble of Philo, Charles Townly and The Man of Failing were all issued only once by Lane. [44]

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentAfter 1790, Lane concentrated his efforts on the most fashionable and timely currents in fiction, which did not include ramble novels. E. J. Clery gives a convincing account of ‘the explosion of demand for terror fiction’ after the Revolution and subsequent ‘reign of terror’ that broke out in France. [45] Such supernatural and gothic tales became more widely read than ever before, fuelled by the democratisation of access to prose fiction achieved by such entrepreneurs as Lane. But the dark tone and fantastical happenings of terror fiction could not be easily assimilated into the ramble novel, which relied on breezy comedy and a low, earthy realism set close to home. The Minerva brand itself foregrounded the goddess of wisdom as ‘a gracious compliment to the sex who would be expected to provide the most custom’. [46] And, whilst women such as Hunter and Bonhote wrote and published ramble fiction, the form was stereotyped as masculine, owing to its bawdiness and the male heroes of the most popular examples. If Lane was targeting female readers, then novels that centred on the excitements and crises of young manhood would have made little sense as investments. In the nineteenth century, the Minerva Press eventually became most associated with gothic and sentimental romances. But nevertheless, paying closer attention to Lane’s publications in the 1780s reveals that the novel associated with Smollett and Fielding continued to be a respected and productive form in the late eighteenth century. And if we now overlook the early dismissals of reviews and read one of these forgotten novels in detail, the significance of the ramble novel to the history of Irish Romantic fiction can be realised.

Genre, Religion and Law in 1780s Irish Fiction: The Minor; or, History of George O’Nial

The Minor was first published by Lane in October 1786, according to advertisements, although no copy of this edition has survived. [47] In April 1787, Lane published a further edition which was post-dated on its title page to 1788—to the annoyance of the Critical Review. [48] Lane was particularly guilty among publishers of post-dating books in order to prolong the appearance of currency, as Nicholas Mason explains. [49] On first appearance, The Minor is conventional enough in its narrative shape. George O’Nial grows up in Co. Tyrone, attends Trinity College Dublin and then spends several years in France before returning to Ireland. All the while, suspense is provided by the delay of his union with Charlotte Furlonge and by the prospect of the O’Nials losing their property, though the novel ends with marriage and George’s ascent to head of the family. The text is less usual, however, as a ramble novel that engages in an informed way with an Irish political climate through making an argument in favour of the reform of the Penal Laws. The Relief Acts of 1778 and 1782 had granted rights of leasing, inheritance and landowning to Catholics, and though the concessions were only partial, their symbolic import in Ireland, where Catholics constituted the majority of the population, was sizeable. The Minor should be seen as part of the ongoing repeal campaign that was pursued through literary texts as well as the addresses published by the pro-reform Catholic Committee from the 1740s to the 1780s. [50] One prominent advocate for the Catholic cause was the priest Arthur O’Leary (c. 1729–1802), author of Loyalty Asserted: Or, the New Test Oath Vindicated (1776) and Essay on Toleration (1780), which called for freedom of worship for all confessions in Ireland. [51] O’Leary’s views are implicitly supported in The Minor through the actions of one character, a priest with the significant name of Joseph O’Leary. By 1786, the public mood in Britain and Ireland had turned against Catholic Relief, and a need for subtlety around religious difference is implied by this disapproving comment from the Critical Review: ‘The author seems to design being witty, licentious, and irreligious’. [52]

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentReading eighteenth-century novels in their Irish literary contexts can complicate critical assumptions about the formulaic nature of popular fiction. George O’Nial might be read as a sentimental, kind-hearted protagonist in the style of Tom Jones, but that such a hero should be an Irishman was less usual in the fiction of the time. As in ramble novels such as The Man of Failing, George is placed in situations designed to test his morality but does not become a hardened rake. When he and his fellow students visit a Dublin brothel, they are scandalised to find two young women imprisoned in the cellar:

But what restored us to our senses, and produced that honest indignation which a sober Irishman ever feels at beholding scenes of villainy, was the discovery of two young females, whose ghastly visages bespoke souls weary of their wretched habitations. [53]

George and friends ill-advisedly set fire to the brothel in retribution, but then deliver the ‘captives’ safely ‘to their disconsolate parents’ and procure an ‘apothecaries recipe […] and likewise a safe lodging’ for a young man who has sustained a head wound amidst the chaos (I, 202). This, we learn, is Joseph O’Leary, a recently ordained priest who is on his way to study in Paris. During O’Nial’s travels in France, Father Joseph appears again, now destitute after failing to secure a college place. George once more aids Father Joseph, giving him money, in defiance of the objections of his page: ‘He is my countryman, I replied, and he is wretched’ (II, 101–03). Such scenes of poverty or female distress being relieved by male philanthropy were the stockin-trade of sentimental fiction. [54] For Dickie, ramble novels are in opposition to the culture and values of sensibility, but this passage in George O’Nial implies that sentimental episodes could coexist with the adventure plot; Franklin argues that in the 1780s, the ‘novel of sensibility […] became absorbed into most types of prose fiction’. [55] It is notable that in both scenes from the novel, George’s generosity is associated with his nationality; he feels as ‘a sober Irishman’ should at ‘villainy’, and claims national ties as reason enough to help Father Joseph. The gendering of nationality (‘Irishman’, ‘countryman’) is the clearest signal of the novel’s insistence that Irishmen can display gentlemanly virtues, registering a context in which fiction continued to retail stock xenophobic narratives about rogues and criminals coming from Ireland—seen for instance in Johnston’s John Juniper (1781). The fact that The Minor pointedly associates the Irishman with sentimental charity implies a continued need to refute such stereotypes of nationality and gender.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentThe Relief Acts of 1778 and 1782 were hailed as auspicious landmarks for toleration, but by the time that The Minor was published, the prospect of further concessions to the Penal Laws seemed remote. During the American War of Independence (1775–83), the enlisting of Irish Catholics into the British army became normalised. [56] From 1779, Catholics were also serving in regiments of the Volunteers, a mainly Protestant militia intended to defend the country from invasion. [57] In Sheridan’s Triumph of Prudence over Passion (reissued by Lane as The Reconciliation), the epistolary narrator is ‘delighted’ to witness a Volunteer demonstration in Dublin in November 1779, and declares herself ‘an enthusiast in the cause of Liberty and my country’. [58] The Minor voices similar sentiments when George describes his home town of Dungannon as ‘less famous for the exploits of my ancestors, than for the resolutions there formed in the year of our Lord, 1782, by the volunteer army’ (II, 4). At their ‘famous’ Dungannon convention, the Volunteers issued ‘resolutions’ in favour of Irish legislative independence, a freedom that was granted later that same year. But the lack of developments in Catholic Relief between 1782 and the end of the decade illustrated the political gulf that still existed between Ireland’s governing establishment and its majority. The first Relief Acts were not sweeping, and altered rarely enforced laws such as the threat of life imprisonment for practising Catholic priests and schoolmasters. All the same, the fact that priests could now seek converts with impunity caused disquiet, and such insecurities would provide the impetus for the Gordon Riots of June 1780. [59] Restrictions on Catholics owning and inheriting land had long buttressed the dominance of the Anglo-Irish elite, and after the first concessions, most Anglicans feared further reforms in the key areas of land, voting or holding public office. [60]

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIn the year preceding the appearance of The Minor, the prospect of any further repeals of the Penal Laws worsened in reaction to an outbreak of agitation among rural labourers in Munster. The campaign of the so-called Rightboys was directed specifically against the system of tithe payments, but their ritualistic threats, evictions and violence were taken as motivated by inequities in landholding, provoking fears of insurrection. [61] The priest Arthur O’Leary lived locally to the disturbances in the city of Cork, and was moved to publish addresses to the Rightboys in the Cork Hibernian Chronicle during February 1786. O’Leary called for the agitators to desist, but highlighted their poverty as a mitigating factor. This proved divisive, and attacks on O’Leary as a Rightboy sympathiser soon surfaced. [62] Patrick Duigenan’s An Address to the Nobility and Gentry of the Church of Ireland (1786) claimed that Rightboyism had been ‘spirited up by agitating Fryars and Romish Missionaries, sent here for the purposes of sowing sedition’. [63] It is more than possible that The Minor was written with a consciousness of this debate, which may have motivated the use of a priest character called O’Leary. If so, this would imply some access to Irish news and publishing on the part of the author, as O’Leary’s addresses to the Rightboys were not published in London until 1787. [64] But more widely, the novel’s use of the name O’Leary is in keeping with its concern with the Penal Laws, as the character of Father Joseph comes to play a prominent role and enables the novel to address still-existing restrictions on Catholics in Ireland.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentThe connection made by conservative Irish Protestants such as Duigenan between Rightboy agitation and priestly influence makes the favourable depiction of Father Joseph in The Minor all the more timely. When this character reappears in France, his situation is the occasion for a plea by George on behalf of the priesthood:

Heaven—here ended his pitiable tale; and much did it grieve me that some establishment was not formed in our country, wherein these poor fellows might be properly enlightened, and prepared for the arduous, and very important employment they assume: I am certain, said I, that the voice of toleration, which hath been unexpectedly heard in our country, will not forbear her heavenly accents, until a remedy shall be applied to your sufferings. (II, 100–01)

George continues, ‘our country is oft-times tardy in its measures, I mean in those of a praise-worthy nature’, expressing his fear that Father Joseph ‘might, for aught that I can see, starve before the wished-for reformation may take place’ (II, 101). The novel calls attention to the lack of an ‘establishment’ for Catholic ecclesiastical training in Ireland, a situation which led aspiring priests to study at ‘Irish colleges’ in European Catholic countries in the years before the founding of St Patrick’s College Maynooth in 1795. Father Joseph’s destination, the Collège des Lombards in Paris, was founded in the 1670s. [65] The prospect of a college in Ireland was debated in the 1780s, and was supported by prominent Anglican churchmen because it would lessen French influence on Irish priests. [66] In the novel, however, support of a college in Ireland does not stem from Protestant distrust of France, but from sympathy towards clerical students forced to leave their home country. A pamphlet of 1786 written in the voice of ‘the Peasantry of Ireland’ argued in similar terms: ‘we wish that our clergy were bred at home, where they would conceive a reverence for the glorious fabric of our constitution, and that they were not to be sent abroad to subsist on the benevolence of foreign establishments’. [67] The pamphlet’s concern for trainee priests is shared by The Minor. The conventional sentimental scene of destitution and almsgiving between George and Father Joseph is thus transformed into a pointed political statement.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentThe Minor goes against the prevailing view among the Irish political elite and more conservative Anglicans by encouraging further concessions to the Penal Laws. It also takes a more progressive stance than contemporary examples of Irish fiction. In John Juniper, for instance, the gallery of Irish migrants in London includes a priest who was trained in France and then ‘sent upon the Mission to England; where he piously exerted all his abilities to abuse the religion and laws of the country, the latter of which had been not long before relaxed in favour of such ungrateful vagrants’. [68] Here, the priest is a threat to the English nation in his ‘Mission’ to win converts, and is viewed in terms of the concessions of 1778. The theme of Irish migration in John Juniper is shared by many of the ramble novels considered here, and both The Minor and Anthony Varnish utilise the device of a meeting between two Irish characters abroad. The Irish servant Varnish travels to London, where he hears the tale of a former soldier, ‘from a reputable family in the north of Ireland’, returned from fighting in America. The first-person narrator ‘sympathised with his misfortunes, and begged to know if I could serve him, before I recollected I had not even the power to assist myself’. [69] This scene illustrates the distinction between the affluent George and the poor servant Varnish. Contrastingly, in The Minor, the fellowship between George and Father Joseph proves enduring, as the priest accompanies George back to Ireland and assumes an important role at the novel’s end.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentOn the return of the O’Nials to their house in Tyrone, Father Joseph is elevated to ‘the desirable station of a Parish Priest’ by the sudden death of the previous incumbent, Father Lazarus. He is thus in the position to officiate at the wedding of George and Charlotte:

The sensations inspired by my long-loved Charlotte predominated—I could no longer refrain—and a late act of parliament making valid the marriages of the romish-clergy, we agreed that father Joseph […] should perform the ceremony. (II, 234)

Ramble novels conventionally ended with a wedding, but the emphasis on the cleric’s role here is more distinctive. Father Joseph’s elevation confirms the significance of the Catholic priesthood in the text, symbolising their acceptance into wider Irish society. He is precipitated into the ‘station’ after the death of Father Lazarus and also of George’s Presbyterian tutor, the Reverend Jeremiah Plodder, who is initially sought to perform the marriage. This chain of events makes the choice of a Catholic minister seem simply fortuitous. Such last-minute plot twists are suggestive of the unusual and controversial nature of such an ending. The reference to ‘a late act of parliament making valid the marriages of the romish-clergy’ glances towards the wider legal situation. Though marriages between Catholics conducted by ordained priests were valid under civil law, it was a capital offence under the Penal Laws for a Catholic to officiate at a marriage at which one or both parties were Protestant. The punishment was revised to imprisonment and a fine in 1793. [70] It is thus deducible that the marriage of George and Charlotte involves at least one Protestant partner. Though the religion of George’s thinly characterised bride is left unclear, his own background is plural, his father being native Irish and presumably of Catholic extraction, and his mother the Presbyterian daughter of a ‘Scotch laird’ (I, 22). The couple, then, should be taken as Protestant or mixed, and so their marriage by Father Joseph would have been illegal at the time. The ‘late act of parliament’ referred to, therefore, is a fantasy of the novel, which runs ahead of the actual situation in 1786 to imagine future freedoms. In this way, The Minor engages with the campaign for reform by pinpointing areas of the Penal Laws that were still in need of redress. [71] Moreover, it imbues conventional aspects of the ramble novel such as the marriage with a distinctive political purpose.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentThe novel’s representation of Irish society through the microcosm of the O’Nial family is reminiscent of the ideals of tolerance offered in the writing of Arthur O’Leary. O’Leary’s Essay on Toleration argues for the principle of freedom of worship not through explicit discussion of the Penal Laws, but through wide-ranging disquisitions on the error of religious bias in the legal sphere, supported by examples from states in which different sects are accorded equal privileges. But in the following, O’Leary has Ireland, with its Anglican, Dissenting and Catholic communities, particularly in mind:

What are we to say when numbers of sects get footing in a state? Let the door of toleration be thrown open to them all, and not one of them be exposed as a butt to all the rest. Mutual hatred will relax, and the common occupations and pleasures of life, will succeed. [72]

The Essay stays cautiously away from the most vociferously defended aspects of the Penal Laws, the bans on voting and holding public office. Nevertheless, O’Leary’s vision of a multi-faith society chimes with the novel’s representation of Irish society, with differing religions making up the central group of characters. The O’Nial family are ministered to by the zealous, Aberdeeneducated Reverend Plodder and the Catholic Father Joseph; the ‘eternal bickering about points of faith’ maintained by the two churchmen is humorously represented and does not lead to serious discord (II, 138). George’s pride in his Gaelic roots is seen when he declares himself ‘the lineal descendent of the great Earl of Tyrone’ to an acquaintance in London (II, 194). However, George also studies at the traditionally Anglican Trinity College Dublin, and on a trip to Oxford observes ‘how much England has been enlightened since the reformation; for you see her modern buildings are more for use than superstition’ (II, 77). Despite the presence of characters such as Father Joseph, limitations still attached to the representation of Catholicism, and the hero seemingly must conform to the Established Church. In its references to legal reform, the novel concentrates on the freedom of the clergy, rather than voicing more radical discontent around land ownership or political representation. But the overall representation of religion in the text emphasises inclusivity. In its representation of the Irish family as a composite of coexisting faiths, The Minor draws upon a contemporary Irish discourse of religious toleration advocated most prominently by Arthur O’Leary.


Reading London-published ramble fiction in an Irish context enables a positive reassessment of seemingly formulaic generic elements. The marriage of George and Charlotte in The Minor is the fully expected resolution to the ramble plot, but also a further chance to press the cause of Catholic Relief. George O’Nial is the stock virtuous hero, but also a mouthpiece for political critique, whilst Father Joseph is an object of sentimental charity and also the representative of a class that was contemporaneously vilified, the Catholic priesthood. The narrative of international travel in The Minor, also typical of ramble fiction, is used to highlight the injustices of emigration for Irish clerical students. The novel’s readers in England—and indeed its London publisher—might not have registered these political resonances within the novel, but a fuller knowledge of its Irish historical context gives us, in turn, an expanded sense of the scope of late eighteenth-century fiction. Sentimental fiction in the 1780s showed an increased tendency to expose the origins of suffering in larger social and political issues such as slavery. [73] In a ramble novel such as The Minor, we can observe a similar tendency to highlight the legal realities that shaped and restricted the lives of Irish Catholics in particular.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentRamble novels were very much part of the general mainstream of fiction publishing in the 1780s, despite the usual association of this subgenre with the middle of the century. The narrative pattern of novels such as Anthony Varnish and The Minor was enduringly popular and would have been familiar to an experienced fiction publisher such as Lane. Reviews began to describe the style as dated only in 1788, a decade after Evelina, and forty years after Roderick Random. At this point, ramble fiction was still an important aspect of Lane’s fiction output, but in the subsequent decade the press, now branded as Minerva, concentrated on fashionable gothic and supernatural fiction. With hindsight, Lane’s issuing of ramble fictions such as The Minor can be seen as evidence of experimentation with a range of products that preceded the development of particular, signature strengths in the 1790s. In the case of this publisher, the ramble novel ceded ground to subgenres associated with female authors and readers. More widely, further research into genre and gender in Romantic fiction is required to test this conclusion, and its correlation with the period boundary of 1789. As the novels of the 1780s remind us, fictional subgenres do not supersede one another in neat, sequential fashion: they endure, coexist and recombine. Future research should take account of the longevity of ramble fiction, seen in novels such as The Minor and Anthony Varnish, which in various ways look forward to the Irish fiction of the Romantic period.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentThe Irish novels issued by Lane in the 1780s picked up on wider fashions for regional and Celtic settings in fiction. Both The Minor and Sheridan’s The Reconciliation, published by Lane as ‘An Hibernian Novel’, suggest that topicality and a tendency towards political asides were ‘Irish’ elements that London readers found attractive. The recent editors of a 2011 edition of Sheridan’s novel draw attention to its ‘distinctive political views that link the state of the Irish nation quite closely to the position of its women’. [74] Sheridan’s epistolary correspondents declare their support for the patriotic causes of the day: free trade and legislative independence. But despite the novel’s radical politics of female and national self-determination, it is silent on the issue of the Penal Laws, and denounces Catholic France and Spain for their ‘superstition’, ‘religious phrenzy’ and unnatural abundance of convents. [75] Even in a context of increasingly patriotic Irish fiction, the reformist sentiments expressed in The Minor were unusual and advanced. The depiction of the priest as a mobile criminal in John Juniper is more typical of the intolerance that was deeply ingrained even as the Penal Laws began to be revised. In contrast, The Minor makes the Irish priest central to its plot and ends with a wedding that validates the place of Catholic ritual in daily communal life.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentThe Minor demonstrates a capacity to represent a larger social or national collective that is not often seen in ramble fiction. Contemporary texts such as John Juniper and Anthony Varnish centre on unrooted, mobile individuals, both orphans; Juniper never actually sets foot in Ireland, whilst Varnish remains in London at the novel’s close. The representation of a multiconfessional Irish community in The Minor is more similar to the Romantic national tale, exemplified by the works of Maria Edgeworth and Sydney Owenson after 1800. These Irish novelists present ‘a differentiated and stratified society’ in which ‘land, house, and family come to serve as a microcosm of the national culture’. [76] The embryonic presence of these qualities in The Minor imbues the ramble mode with new scope and depth. Christina Morin has argued that the Minerva gothic novels of Roche, Selden and others ‘reposition[ed] Ireland as central to a developing Atlantic economy by way of the movements of its people, literature and culture’, and are thus comparable to the national tale. [77] Early Irish ramble fictions such as The Minor and Anthony Varnish would bear further comparison with the several Minerva novels that feature masculine travel and diasporic kinships between Ireland and Europe, such as Maria Julia Young’s Rose-Mount Castle; or, False Report (1798), Roche’s The Discarded Son; or, Haunt of the Banditti (1807), Henrietta Rouviere Mosse’s The Old Irish Baronet; or, Manners of my Country (1808) and The Soldier of Pennaflor: Or, a Season in Ireland. A Tale of the Eighteenth Century (1810). [78] It can be concluded that Lane began publishing significant Irish fiction in the years between 1784 and 1790; and these novels, like the later Minerva productions, were dismissed primarily due to their generic hallmarks, being seen as morally ‘low’, dated, or unoriginal. The prestige of narrative patterns such as the masculine ramble plot fluctuated as the Romantic period wore on; but Irish fiction would remain a long-term and productive interest for this London publisher.


1. The Correspondents, an Original Novel; in a Series of Letters (1775; London: Becket & Lane, 1784), [p. 2 of 2].

2. Dorothy Blakey, The Minerva Press, 1790–1820 (London: Bibliographical Society, 1939), pp. 14 and 39.

3. Deborah Anne McLeod, ‘The Minerva Press’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Alberta, 1997), p. 13.

4. E. J. Clery, The Rise of Supernatural Fiction, 1762–1800 (Cambridge: CUP, 1995), pp. 134–37.

5. See Barbara M. Benedict, ‘“Male” and “Female” Novels? Gendered Fictions and the Reading Public, 1770–1832’, in The Oxford Handbook of the Eighteenth-Century Novel, ed. by J. A. Downie (Oxford: OUP, 2016), pp. 355–71.

6. An Essay on the New Species of Writing Founded by Mr Fielding: With a Word or Two upon the Modern State of Criticism (London: Owen, 1751), pp. 1 and 29–30.

7. Simon Dickie, Cruelty and Laughter: Forgotten Comic Literature and the Unsentimental Eighteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), pp. 250–81; Simon Dickie, ‘Tobias Smollett and the Ramble Novel’, in The Oxford History of the Novel in English, Volume 2: 1750–1820, ed. by Karen O’Brien and Peter Garside (Oxford: OUP, 2015), pp. 92–108; Simon Dickie, ‘Novels of the 1750s’, in Oxford Handbook of the Eighteenth-Century Novel, ed. by Downie, pp. 252–63.

8. Dickie, Cruelty and Laughter, pp. 253 and 279.

9. James Raven, ‘Historical Introduction: The Novel Comes of Age’, in Peter Garside, James Raven and Rainer Schöwerling, The English Novel 1770–1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction Published in the British Isles, 2 vols (Oxford: OUP, 2000), I , 15–121 (pp. 34–35).

10. Rolf and Magda Loeber, A Guide to Irish Fiction, 1650–1900 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2005), pp. xlix–cv (p. xci).

11. Christina Morin, ‘Irish Gothic Goes Abroad: Cultural Migration, Materiality and the Minerva Press’, in Traveling Irishness in the Long Nineteenth Century, ed. by Marguérite Corporaal and Christina Morin (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), pp. 185–204.

12. Mme de Lafayette, The Princess of Cleves, an Historical Novel, Revised and Corrected by Mrs Griffith, trans. by Elizabeth Griffith (London: Lane, 1780). Elizabeth Eger, ‘Griffith, Elizabeth (1727–1793), playwright and writer’, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; <> [accessed 22 May 2018].

13. On The Fairy Ring, see Aileen Douglas, ‘Women, Enlightenment and the Literary Fairy Tale in English’, Journal of Eighteenth-Century Studies, 38.2 (2015), 181–94 <>.

14. Elizabeth Sheridan, The Triumph of Prudence over Passion, ed. by Aileen Douglas and Ian Campbell Ross (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2011), pp. 27–30. The changes to the title page of the London edition could well have been the publisher’s work. As McLeod astutely points out, ‘given that [Lane’s] almost legendary business acumen was founded on an ability to accurately assess and exploit public taste—it is difficult to imagine that he did not have a hand in choosing the titles of the works he published’ (Minerva Press, p. 94).

15. Caroline Franklin, ‘The Novel of Sensibility in the 1780s’, in Oxford History of the Novel, ed. by Garside and O’Brien, pp. 164–81 (p. 171).

16. ‘A Lady’, Mariamne: Or, Irish Anecdotes, 2 vols (London: Lane, 1793).

17. Dickie, Cruelty and Laughter, p. 254.

18. See Joe Lines, ‘Charles Johnston and the Attribution of The Adventures of Anthony Varnish (1786)’, N&Q, 63.1 (2016), 91–94 <>.

19. Ian Campbell Ross, ‘Irish Fiction before the Union’, in The Irish Novel in the Nineteenth Century: Facts and Fictions, ed. by Jacqueline Belanger (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2005), pp. 34–52 (pp. 46–47); Derek Hand, A History of the Irish Novel (Cambridge: CUP, 2011), p. 54.

20. Memoirs of Charles Townly, 3 vols (Dublin: Grierson, 1789). The Lane edition was unavailable to consult.

21. The Man of Failing: A Tale, 2 vols (London: Lane, 1789), I, 123.

22. Critical Review, 67 (June 1789), 475.

23. Critical Review, 67 (Mar 1789), 237.

24. Monthly Review, 81 (Aug 1789), 181–82.

25. Monthly Review, 77 (July 1787), 80; Monthly Review, 76 (Jan 1787), 83.

26. Michael Gamer, ‘Assimilating the Novel: Reviews and Collections’, in Oxford History of the Novel, ed. by Garside and O’Brien, pp. 531–50 (p. 534).

27. See Francis Fleming, The Life and Extraordinary Adventures, the Perils and Critical Escapes of Timothy Ginnadrake, 3 vols (Bath: For the Author, 1770–71); [Herbert Lawrence?], The Contemplative Man. Or the History of Christopher Crab, Esq; of North Wales, 2 vols (London: Whiston, 1771); Elizabeth Bonhote, The Rambles of Mr Frankly, 2 vols (London: Becket & DeHondt, 1772); The Rake: Or, the Adventures of Tom Wildman, 2 vols (London: Williams, 1773); John Carter, The Scotch Parents: Or, the Remarkable Case of John Ramble (London: All the Booksellers, 1773). My main sources for finding relevant novels have been the bibliographies by Garside, Raven and Schöwerling; Loeber and Loeber; Blakey; and McLeod. Periodical reviews have been used to corroborate these lists. In Cruelty and Laughter, Dickie distinguishes several different types of ramble novel, including ‘male-centered’ works (p. 253), ‘comic novels about women’ (p. 256), ‘comic “histories” of public figures’ (p. 259) and ‘slum comedy’ (p. 261). I have restricted my investigation to the first category, not only because Lane’s press issued several such narratives, but because these works were clearly seen as conforming to a pattern, in reviews and in the already noted conventions of titling.

28. Raven, ‘Historical Introduction’, p. 26.

29. For yearly totals, see Garside, Raven and Schöwerling, ‘Index of Booksellers and Printers’, English Novel, I , 848–59 (p. 855).

30. Henry Lemoine, The Kentish Curate; or, the History of Lamuel Lyttleton, a Foundling, 4 vols (London: Parsons, 1786); John Wynne, The Child of Chance; or, the Adventures of Harry Hazard, 2 vols (London: Hookham, 1786); The Adventures of Christopher Curious; in a Series of Rambles, Amorous and Entertaining ;(London: Randall, 1788).

31. Charles Johnston, The History of John Juniper, Esq., 3 vols (London: Baldwin, 1781). See Joe Lines, ‘Migration, Nationality and Perspective in Charles Johnston’s The History of John Juniper (1781)’, Eighteenth-Century Ireland, 32 (2017), 11–27.

32. European Magazine and London Review, 1 (Feb 1782), 128–29.

33. Garside, Raven and Schöwerling, English Novel, I , 365.

34. Gamer, ‘Assimilating the Novel’, p. 546.

35. Richard C. Taylor, ‘James Harrison, The Novelist’s Magazine, and the Early Canonizing of the English Novel’, SEL, 1500–1900, 33.3 (1993), 629–43 (pp. 631–32) <>.

36. Gamer, ‘Assimilating the Novel’, p. 544.

37. Novelist’s Magazine (London: Harrison, 1780–88), 23 vols (vols 2–4, 6–7 and 12).

38. Critical Review, 65 (June 1788), 485.

39. Critical Review, 67 (Mar 1789), 237.

40. The Life and Adventures of Anthony Leger, Esq; or, the Man of Shifts, 3 vols (London: Wilkins, 1789); English Review, 14 (Sept 1789), 228.

41. Blakey, Minerva Press, p. 303. Garside, Raven and Schöwerling, English Novel, I , 184–85.

42. McLeod gives a total of 402 works between 1790 and 1799, of which 244 were novels, compared to 131 works of any genre between 1780 and 1789 (‘Minerva Press’, pp. 48–49).

43. The Freaks of Fortune; or, Memoirs of Captain Conyers (London: Stalker, 1790); George Brewer, The History of Tom Weston. A Novel, after the Manner of Tom Jones, 2 vols (London: Hookham, 1791); John Trusler, Life; or, the Adventures of William Ramble, Esq., 3 vols (London: Trusler, 1793); Elizabeth Hervey, The History of Ned Evans, 4 vols (London: Robinson, 1796).

44. For the 1789 2nd edn of Varnish, see English Review, 14 (Dec 1789), 471. On The Minor, see notes 47 and 48, below.

45. Clery, Rise of Supernatural Fiction, p. 134.

46. Ibid., p. 137.

47. ‘The Minor, 2 Vols. 6s Lane’—see ‘Catalogue of New Publications’, Gentleman’s Magazine, 56.4 (Oct 1786), 84.

48. ‘On this day, the first of April, 1787, we peruse a book of 1788’, Critical Review, 63 (Apr 1787), 307–08.

49. Nicholas Mason, Literary Advertising and the Shaping of British Romanticism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), p. 120.

50. See Helen M. Burke, ‘The Catholic Question, Print Media, and John O’Keeffe’s The Poor Soldier (1783)’, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 27 (2015), 420–48 <>.

51. Vincent Morley, ‘O’Leary, Arthur’, in Dictionary of Irish Biography <> [accessed 15 Feb 2018].

52. Critical Review, 63 (Apr 1787), 308.

53. The Minor; or, History of George O’Nial, Esq., 2 vols (London: Lane, 1788 [1787]), I , 199. Subsequent references are given parenthetically in the main body of the essay.

54. Gillian Skinner, Sensibility and Economics in the Novel: The Price of a Tear (London: Macmillan, 1999); Ann Jessie Van Sant, Eighteenth-Century Sensibility and the Novel: The Senses in Social Context (Cambridge: CUP, 1993), pp. 45–59; Simon Parkes, ‘Wooden Legs and Tales of Sorrow Done: The Literary Broken Soldier of the Late Eighteenth Century’, Journal of Eighteenth-Century Studies, 36 (2013), 191–207 <>.

55. Franklin, ‘Novel of Sensibility’, p. 165.

56. Ian McBride, Eighteenth-Century Ireland: The Isle of Slaves (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2009), pp. 352–54.

57. Thomas Bartlett, The Fall and Rise of the Irish Nation: The Catholic Question, 1690–1830 (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1992), p. 99.

58. Sheridan, Prudence over Passion, p. 32.

59. Colin Haydon, Anti-Catholicism in Eighteenth-Century England, c. 1714–1780 (Manchester: MUP, 1993), pp. 204–06.

60. Tadhg O’Sullivan, ‘Between Toleration and Preservation: The Popery Laws and Irish Anglicanism’, in New Perspectives on the Penal Laws, ed. by John Bergin, et al. (Dublin: Eighteenth-Century Ireland Society, 2011), pp. 249–74 (pp. 250–55); Clare O’Halloran, Golden Ages and Barbarous Nations: Antiquarian Debate and Cultural Politics in Ireland, c. 1750–1800 (Cork: Cork University Press, 2004), pp. 159–60.

61. McBride, Eighteenth-Century Ireland, p. 317.

62. James Kelly, ‘ “A Wild Capuchin of Cork”: Arthur O’Leary (1729–1802)’, in Radical Irish Priests, 1660–1970, ed. by Gerard Moran (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1998), pp. 39–61 (pp. 54–56).

63. Patrick Duigenan, An Address to the Nobility and Gentry of the Church of Ireland […] Dublin Printed: London Reprinted (London: Kearsley, 1786), pp. 4 and 26–27.

64. Arthur O’Leary, A Defence of the Conduct and Writings of the Rev. Arthur O’Leary, during the Late Disturbances in Munster (London: Keating, 1787), pp. 143–71. Duigenan’s address, with its attacks on O’Leary, was published in London in 1786, but seemingly not until the winter. See Critical Review, 63 (Mar 1787), 234–35; and Kelly, ‘Wild Capuchin of Cork’, p. 57.

65. Liam Chambers, ‘Rivalry and Reform in the Irish College, Paris, 1676–1775’, in Irish Communities in Early Modern Europe, ed. by Thomas O’Connor and Mary Ann Lyons (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2006), pp. 103–29 (pp. 103–04).

66. Bartlett, Fall and Rise of the Irish Nation, pp. 191 and 208–09.

67. A Congratulatory Address to His Majesty, from the Peasantry of Ireland, Vulgarly Denominated White Boys, or, Right Boys (Dublin: Byrne, 1786), p. 15.

68. Johnston, John Juniper, I , 30–31.

69. Johnston, The Adventures of Anthony Varnish, 3 vols (London: Lane, 1786), III , 97–99.

70. S. J. Connolly, Priests and People in Pre-Famine Ireland, 1780–1845 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2001), pp. 190–91 and 195; Declan M. Downey, ‘Accommodations with the Protestant State and Church: A Comparative Study of Respective Dutch and Irish Catholic Perspectives’, in New Perspectives on the Penal Laws, ed. by Bergin, et. al., pp. 75–92 (p. 86).

71. The ending of The Minor; is thus comparable to that of another Irish novel, The History of Mr Charles Fitzgerald and Miss Sarah Stapleton (1770). Ian Campbell Ross argues that this novel parodies the eighteenth-century marriage plot from a Catholic perspective. See Ross, ‘ “Damn these printers … By heaven, I’ll cut Hoey’s throat”: The History of Mr Charles Fitzgerald and Miss Sarah Stapleton (1770), a Catholic Novel in Eighteenth-Century Ireland’, Irish University Review, 48.2 (Oct 2018), 250–64 <>.

72. Arthur O’Leary, ‘An Essay on Toleration’, in Miscellaneous Tracts, by the Rev. Arthur O’Leary (Dublin: Chambers, 1781), pp. 314–97 (pp. 339–40).

73. Franklin, ‘Novel of Sensibility’, pp. 165 and 179.

74. Douglas and Ross, ‘Introduction’ to Sheridan, Prudence over Passion, pp. 9–26 (p. 10).

75. Ibid., p. 161.

76. Claire Connolly, ‘The National Tale’, in Oxford History of the Novel, ed. by Garside and O’Brien, pp. 216–33 (p. 217).

77. Morin, ‘Irish Gothic Goes Abroad’, p. 196.

78. Loeber and Loeber, Guide to Irish Fiction, pp. 718, 947, 1138 and 1391–92; Morin, ‘Irish Gothic Goes Abroad’, p. 197; McLeod, ‘Minerva Press’, p. 85.