The Times/1896/Obituary/Henri van Laun
M. Henri van Laun, the friend of M. Taine, and the translator of his "History of English Literature," died at his residence at Lancaster-road, W., on the 19th inst., in his 76th year. Deceased was a native of Holland, but he settled permanently in England about 50 years ago. He was successively French master at King William's college, Cheltenham College, and the Edinburgh Academy. In later years he frequently acted as French examiner for the Civil Service Commissioners and for the War Office. In 1869 M. van Laud published his "Selections from H. A. Taine, with English Notes," and in 1871 appeared his translation of Taine's "History of English Literature." The first edition of this work was published in Edinburgh in two volumes, but at a later date an edition in four volumes was published in London. In 1876-77 he produced his own "History of French Literature," in three volumes. The first volume covered the period "From its Origin to the Renaissance," the second carried the work "To the End of the Reign of Louis XIV.," and the third "To the End of the Reign of Louis Philippe." In 1879 appeared his "French Revolutionary Epoch, 1774-1870," in two volumes. A correspondent writes:— "The death of M. van Laun removes a familiar figure from the literary and artistic circles of London. Born in Holland, is ancestors having been engaged in ceramic wares, he came to this country half a century since to seek fortune as a journalist. After brief, but not inglorious, experience he preferred the less precarious business of teaching. While at the Edinburgh Academy he made the friendship of Professor Blackie, Lord Neaves, Sir Alexander Grant, Mr. Edmondstone, and many other intellectual celebrities, with the result that he was stimulated to undertake his great work, the translation of Molière. He brought to his task a knowledge of French and English idiom such as few men possess, a cultivated critical taste, and a vast store of scholarly erudition. Versions of Le Sage's 'Gil Blas' and Taine's 'History of English Literature' followed at short intervals, and an interesting essay disproved le Sage's alleged indebtedness to Spanish authors. By this time M. van Laun had returned to London, where up to within a few days of his death he was engaged in examining, in writing occasional articles and dramatic criticisms for the Press, and in acting as adviser to Mr. Nimmo, the well-known publisher. He was a bibliophile of exacting taste, and his acquaintance with editions de luxe and book illustrations could scarcely be rivalled. Up to the last his cheery presence was welcomed at the Savage Club and other social gatherings of the old-fashioned type. His funeral takes place to-morrow (Thursday) at Woking, a special train leaving the Necropolis Station at a quarter to 12."