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I have watched a great many young people studying annotated editions of this poem : never a one have I seen look at a Preface. These remarks, therefore, I address to you.

In order to teach The LADY OF THE LAKE properly, one should be familiar with the following books, all of which are easily accessible:

The Journal of Sir Walter Scott (1825-1832). This gives an insight into the personality of the author such as can be obtained from no other work.

Lockhart's Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott. Lockhart was himself a literary man of no mean pretensions; he married Scott's daughter and lived on terms of intimacy with Scott himself. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that he has written one of the best biographies in English. In chapters xix and xx may be found an account of the composition and publication of THE LADY OF THE LAKE.

Hutton's Life of Sir Walter Scott: English Men of Letters Series. If one has not time to read Lockhart's ten volumes, he will find this a good abridgment, with some excellent original criticism.

Scott's Tales of a Grandfather: chapters i-xxviii. This is the History of Scotland, down to the death of James V. Antiquarians tell us that this History contains inaccuracies, but they are not such as one needs to lose any rest over and the style is such as even antiquarians cannot help reading with interest.

Beers' History of Romanticism in the Eighteenth Century. Chapter i (The Subject Defined) and chapter viii (Percy and the Ballads).

Beers' History of Romanticism in the Nineteenth Century. Chapter i.

In preparing the notes for this edition, I have given help only

where it was necessary to keep the pupil from going astray. Thus, a boy of fifteen could not reasonably be expected to interpret cumber as meaning difficulty, or purvey as meaning provide. These are poetical usages, in the interpretation of which he ought to have help before he is called upon to recite. He should not have help, it seems to me, for the meanings of words which, though new perhaps to him, are used in their ordinary prose sense. To interpret these for him would be to reprint the Dictionary for his benefit and to make him idle.

This poem is unintelligible without a map and the publishers have supplied an unusually good one. In the case of geographical names, then, the notes pretend to do nothing more than give the pupil a hint as to what part of the map he should search.

As to metre, my experience is that young people get very little illumination from printed analyses of Spenserian stanzas or of lines trochaic and anapaestic. Such matters are interesting to them only when explained orally, accompanied by good reading (on the part of the teacher) of spirited passages and by plentiful use of chalk and blackboard. Gummere's Hand Book of Poetics is the best book I know of on this subject.


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