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In this selection of Scott's poems the text is that of the late Mr. Minto's Edition, and many of the footnotes are those which he gave: they are usually abbreviations of Sir Walter's own. Scott's notes are omitted, for reasons of limited space, with great regret. Some of them, indeed, have been made superfluous by the very vogue of his own writings, and no educated person
is now unfamiliar with many facts which Scott first made current coin. In a number of other cases, he quotes illustrative anecdotes and legends, which would lose all their interest if they were condensed. The few brief notes which I have appended are generally condensations of Sir Walter's where information seemed more or less necessary or desirable. In other instances I have mentioned some fact which has been recovered by antiquarianism since Scott wrote, or which is connected with his own life and methods. His notes, to people who love things old, are not the least charming part of his works. However, they are easily accessible in many editions.
1 The text, as is well known, of the poems is imperfect. Scott was not devoted to proof-reading ; he was outworn with work and ill-health when the time came for re-editing his poems, and the labour fell on Lockhart, who, in the edition uniform with the novels, gives the manuscript various readings, but does not invariably offer an accurate text.
In selecting the poems I have chosen the lyrics from the novels and from other sources which appeal most to my own fancy, without suggesting that the minor pieces omitted are inferior to those inserted. As something had to go, the dramas, the merely occasional poems of Waterloo (though it possesses some very spirited passages of war), Don Roderick, and that “trifle” (as Scott calls it) Harold the Dauntless, have been reluctantly left out. The Introduction contains a brief attempt at an estimate of Scott's character and genius.
ST. ANDREWS, 28th November 1894.