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SIR WALTER SCOTT, BART.
The Lay of the Last Minstrel:
A POEM, IN SIX CANTOS.
Dum relego, scripsisse pudet; quia plurima cerno,
ADVERTISEMENT TO EDITION 1833. THE INTRODUCTION TO THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTEEL, written in April, 1830, was revised by the Author in the autumn of 1831, when he also made some corrections in the text of the Poem, and several additions to the notes. The work is now printed from his interleaved copy.
It is much to be regretted that the original MS. of this Poem has not been preserved. We are thas denied the advantage of comparing throughout the Author's various readings, which, in the Case of Marmion, the Lady of the Lake, the Lord of the Isles, &c., are often highly curious and instructive.-ED.
INTRODUCTION TO EDITION 1830.
A POEM of nearly thirty years' standing' may be supposed hardly to need an Introduction, since, without one, it has been able to keep itself afloat through the best part of a generation. Nevertheles, as, in the edition of the Waverley Novels now a course of publication , I have imposed on myself the task of saying something concerning the purpose and history of each, in their turn, I am sirous that the Poems for which I first received one marks of the public favor, should also be accompanied with such scraps of their literary his
1 Published in 4to (£1 5s.), January, 1805.
tory as may be supposed to carry interest along with them. Even if I should be mistaken in think
ing that the secret history of what was once so popular, may still attract public attention and curiosity, it seems to me not without its use to record the manner and circumstances under which the present, and other Poems on the same plan, attained for a season an extensive reputation.
I must resume the story of my literary labors at the period at which I broke off in the Essay on the Imitation of Popular Poetry [see post], when I had enjoyed the first gleam of public favor, by the success of the first edition of the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. The second edition of that work, published in 1803, proved, in the language of the trade, rather a heavy concern. The demand in Scotland had been supplied by the first edition, and the curiosity of the English was not much awakened by poems in the rude garb of antiquity, accompanied with notes referring to the obscure feuds of barbarous clans, of whose very names civilized history was ignorant. It was, on the whole, one of those books which are more praised than they are read.2
At this time I stood personally in a different position from that which I occupied when I first dipt my desperate pen in ink for other purposes than those of my profession. In 1796, when I first pub
2"The 'Lay' is the best of all possible comments on the Border Minstrelsy."-British Critic, August, 1805