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This Edition of the Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott is believed to contain every known poem and fragment of verse that he wrote.
In its preparation the standard text of Lockhart's Editions of 1833 and 18.41 has been followed, but not without independent study of the author's meaning, and not without collation with the text as recently edited by careful scholars. The result has been the detection of a few obvious misprints in the longer poems, such as 'torch' for 'touch,' rights' for 'rites,' &c.; and the discovery of several mis-references, and a good many omissions and mistakes of minor but not uninteresting note, in the shorter pieces, more especially in the poetry from the Waverley Novels.
There is no denying that the mottoes and lyrical fragments of the Novels are of all Scott's work the most difficult part to edit. His manner of procedure in supplying his chapters with mottoes was indeed calculated, if not designed, to puzzle the critical reader. He had at last the frankness to avow that they were sometimes quoted from reading, or from memory, but in the general case were pure invention.' It was a simple deception when he attributed those fabrications to ‘Old Play' or · New Play,' or some anonymous son of the Muses; but the artifice was bolder when he advanced to the invention of verse for Dr. Isaac Watts, and Sir David Lyndsay. Even here his invention did not end : he found at least a score of titles for non-existent poems from which he pretended to quote, and there is some suspicion that he also created a poct or two upon whom to father his fabrications.
But, while the difficulty is allowed, the mistakes and omissions in the authoritative edition of 1841 are so numerous and apparent as to suggest that Lockhart, when he came to deal with that part of his subject, must have abandoned his editorial duties to an underling. For not only are there misprints, and false references to the chapters of the Novels, but lines are included which belong rightfully to Webster, Beaumont and Fletcher, Bunyan, Collins and other well-known writers, and lines are omitted which are undeniably the composition of Scott.
Without claiming for this edition absolute accuracy and completeness, I can only say that it corrects several faults in previous editions, and is as complete and accurate as I have been able to make it.
In elucidation of the text I have added, but only where it seemed necessary, a few brief notes supplementary to those of Scott and Lockhart.
J. LOGIE ROBERTSON.
The l'iston or Dox RODERICK.