THE LADY OF THE LAKE
THE LADY OF THE LAKE
SIR WALTER SCOTT
The text of the poem has given me unexpected trouble. When I
edited some of Gray's poems several years ago I found that they
had not been correctly printed for more than half a century; but
in the case of Scott I supposed that the text of Black's
so-called "Author's Edition" could be depended upon as accurate.
Almost at the start however I detected sundry obvious misprints
in one of the many forms in which this edition is issued and an
examination of others showed that they were as bad in their way.
The " Shilling " issue was no worse than the costly illustrated
one of 1853 which had its own assortment of slips of the type.
No two editions that I could obtain agreed exactly in their
readings. I tried in vain to find a copy of the editio princeps
(1810) in Cambridge and Boston but succeeded in getting one
through a London bookseller. This I compared line by line with
the Edinburgh edition of 1821 (from the Harvard Library) with
Lockhart's first edition the " Globe " edition and about a
dozen others English and American. I found many misprints and
corruptions in all except the edition of 1821 and a few even in
that. For instance in i. 217 Scott wrote " Found in each cliff a
narrow bower" and it is so printed in the first edition; but in
every other that I have seen " cliff " appears in place of
clift to the manifest injury of the passage. In ii. 685 every
edition that I have seen since that of 1821 has " I meant not all
my heart might say" which is worse than nonsense the correct r
eading being " my heat." In vi. 396 the Scottish " boune "
(though it occurs twice in other parts of the poem) has been
changed to " bound " in all editions since 1821 ; and eight
lines below the old word " barded " has become " barbed." Scores
of similar corruptions are recorded in my Notes and need not be
I have restored the reading of the first edition except in cases
where I have no doubt that the later reading is the poet's own
correction or alteration. There are obvious misprints in the
first edition which Scott himself overlooked (see on ii. 115
217 Vi. 527 etc.) and it is sometimes difficult to decide
whether a later reading--a change of a plural to a singular or
like trivial variation--is a misprint or the author's correction
of an earlier misprint. I have done the best I could with the
means at my command to settle these questions and am at least
certain that the text as I give it is nearer right than in any
edition since 1821 As all the variae lectiones are recorded in
the Notes the reader who does not approve of the one I adopt can
substitute that which he prefers.
I have retained all Scott's Notes (a few of them have been
somewhat abridged) and all those added by Lockhart.[FN#l] My own
I have made as concise as possible. There are of course many of
them which many of my readers will not need but I think there
are none that may not be of service or at least of interest to
some of them; and I hope that no one will turn to them for help
without finding it.
Scott is much given to the use of Elizabethan words and
constructions and I have quoted many " parallelisms " from
Shakespeare and his contemporaries. I believe I have referred to
my edition of Shakespeare in only a single instance (on iii. 17)
but teachers and others who have that edition will find many
additional illustrations in the Notes on the passages cited.
While correcting the errors of former editors I may have
overlooked some of my own. I am already indebted to the careful
proofreaders of the University Press for the detection of
occasional slips in quotations or references; and I shall be very
grateful to my readers for a memorandum of any others that they
Cambridge June 23 1883..
The scene of the following Poem is laid chiefly in the vicinity
of Loch Katrine in the Western Highlands of Perthshire. The time
of Action includes Six Days and the transactions of each Day
occupy a Canto.
THE LADY OF THE LAKE.
Harp of the North! that mouldering long hast hung
On the witch-elm that shades Saint Fillan's spring
And down the fitful breeze thy numbers flung
Till envious ivy did around thee cling
Muffling with verdant ringlet every string--
O Minstrel Harp still must shine accents sleep?
Mid rustling leaves and fountains murmuring
Still must thy sweeter sounds their silence keep
Nor bid a warrior smile nor teach a maid to weep?
Not thus in ancient days of Caledon
Was thy voice mute amid the festal crowd
When lay of hopeless love or glory won
Aroused the fearful or subdued the proud.
At each according pause was heard aloud
Thine ardent symphony sublime and high!
Fair dames and crested chiefs attention bowed;
For still the burden of thy minstrelsy
Was Knighthood's dauntless deed and Beauty's matchless eye.
O wake once more ! how rude soe'er the hand
That ventures o'er thy magic maze to stray;
O wake once more ! though scarce my skill command
Some feeble echoing of shine earlier lay:
Though harsh and faint and soon to die away
And all unworthy of thy nobler strain
Yet if one heart throb higher at its sway
The wizard note has not been touched in vain.
Then silent be no more! Enchantress wake again!
The stag at eve had drunk his fill
Where danced the moon on Monan's rill
And deep his midnight lair had made
In lone Glenartney's hazel shade;
But when the sun his beacon red
Had kindled on Benvoirlich's head
The deep-mouthed bloodhound's heavy bay
Resounded up the rocky way
And faint from farther distance borne
Were heard the clanging hoof and horn.