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THE

LAY

OF

THE LAST MINSTREL,

A POEM;

BY

WALTER SCOTT, Esq.

Dum relego, scripsisse pudet, quia plurima cerno,
Me quoque, qui feci, judice, digna lini.

THE TENTH EDITION.

LONDON:

PRINTED FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, AND ORME,
PATERNOSTER-ROW; AND A. CONSTABLE AND CO. EDINBURGH

By James Ballantyne Co. Edinburgh.

1809.

[graphic]

TO THE
RIGHT HONOURABLE

CHARLES,
EARL OF DALKEITH,

THIS

POEM IS INSCRIBED

BY

THE AUTHOR.

THE Poem, now offered to the Public, is intended to illustrate the customs and manners, which anciently prevailed on the Borders of England and Scotland. The infiabitants, living in a state partly pastoral and partly warlike, and combining habits of constant depredation with the influence of a rude spirit of chivalry, were often engaged in scenes, highly susceptible of poetical ornament. As the description of scenery and manners was more the object of the Author, than a combined and regular narrative, the plan of the ancient Metrical Romance was adopted, which allows greater latitude, in this respect, than would be consistent with the dignity of a regular Poem. The same model offered other facilities, as it permits an occasional alteration of measure, which, in some degree, authorises the change of rythm in the text. The machinery also, adopted from popular belief, would have seemed puerile in a Poem, which did not partake of the rudeness of the old Ballad, or Metrical Romance.

For these reasons, the Poem was put into the mouth of an ancient Minstrel, the last of the race, who, as he is supposed to have survived the Revolution, might have caught somewhat of the refinement of modern poetry, without losing the simplicity of his original model. Tlie date of the Tale itself is about the middle of the sixteenth century, when most of the personages actually flourished. The time occupied by the action is three Nights and three Days.

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