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Notes to LAY Of The Last Minstrel .
Newark Castle frontis.); Abbotsford; Jedburgh Abbey:
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
SEDERHAPS it would not be too much to say S t hat no poet in this country received so
ready a reception from the public, and
e secured so spontaneous a burst of applause as the author of the LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL. The novelty of metre which he employed, the easy and rapid flow of the narrative, the luminous power of description, the manly and chivalrous spirit of the poet, secured the hearts of his readers, and gained him at once the prize of fame. This measure of popularity was increased by the publication of MARMION, and still more by the LADY OF THE LAKE, the success of which stamped Walter Scott as one of the great poets of the land. And although his subsequent efforts were obscured by the brilliancy of his own creations in another field-the verdict of posterity has upheld the estimate of his contemporaries, and SIR WALTER Scott, the Minstrel Poet, receives a wider recognition than is accorded to any other of the illustrious band of our greater poets.
The striking and romantic elements in the history of Scotland provide fruitful themes to captivate the imagination, and fire the inspiration of the poet. The legendary traditions of the race
-the chequered vicissitudes of her history-the misfortunes of her kings—and the bravery of her people are subjects on which her bards have loved to dwell. Her soil, inhabited by peoples of different race constantly warring with each other ; her desperate struggles for independence carried on for centuries with varying fortunes, the factious and turbulent spirit of her rulers ; alternating periods of great prosperity, with others of almost hopeless adversity, were productive of incidents made imperishable by the rude poetry of her Ballad writers. The southern portion of the country, especially that which bordered upon England, containing her fairest and most fertile fields was constantly devastated-at one time by the faction fights of her own chiefs, or at other times these were when banded together against the common foe. Scarcely a portion of this district but has