1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

Stephen Jones, in Biographia Dramatica; or, A Companion to the Playhouse (1812) 1:636-37.



This gentleman is an advocate at the Scottish bar, and one of the principal clerks of the Court of Session. His claim to a place in this work he owes to a translation into English of Goethe's German play, called Goetz of Berlichinger. T. 8vo. 1799. But he is much better known to the public as the inventor of an interesting species of poetry, which has become exceedingly popular. Of the old ballad itself we had several mere imitations, in which the manners of antiquity were preserved, from ancient simplicity; but Mr. Scott, we think, was the first who produced ballads of heroic and romantic adventure, interesting from the faithful representation of the manners of former days, and the description of individual and local scenery, and at the same time ennobled with all the poetry of an animated and fertile fancy. Our readers will, of course, suppose that we allude to his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Lay of the Last Minstrel, Marmion, Lady of the Lake, and Don Roderick. Mr. Scott has also appeared as editor of Dryden's Works, in 18 vols. 8vo. and is at present, we believe, engaged on an edition of Swift's Works; but he certainly has best distinguished himself by his original compositions.