WHEN David Laing, sometime the learned librarian of the Library of the W.S., wrote that a very good social record of most countries possessing a romance literature of any fair extent could be written from their popular songs and ballads and historical tales, he made no very debatable postulate. He merely showed a greater appreciation of the value of romance literature than most people—even librarians—would on first thought consider it deserving of. But his opinion of its value as historical material was shared by no less eminent a literary scholar than Sir Walter Scott, who drew from the springs of romance when compiling his Tales of a Grandfather, and that this work did not suffer through Scott's utilization of romance literature in its compilation is proved by the fact that it is, despite its eighty years of existence, the most popular, as well as “the soundest thing” (to quote Saintsbury) that exists on the matter of Scottish history.
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