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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 1841 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 poet or two upon whom to father his fabrications.