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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

XI. The Middle Scots Anthologies: Anonymous Verse and Early Prose

§ 2. The Native Elements

It is difficult to classify this miscellaneous verse and prose—the foundlings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries—according to the traditional scheme of types, and in dull analogy with the groups into which contemporary southern literature may be conveniently divided. Not only are the “kinds”—lyrical, satirical, allegorical and the like—merged into each other in a perplexing way, but their differentiation may tempt us to overlook that Scottish idiosyncrasy in which the entire critical interest of the matter may be said to rest. Further, when we apply the term “popular” to this body of literature, we must guard against using it in the sense familiar in the controversy on the origins of the ballads. It is to be understood, in the main, as “native,” in opposition to the more affected style of the makars; but, at the same time, with “artifice” and “literary tradition” of its own. Its appeal to us in the appeal of Allan Ramsay and his greater successors—the protest of vernacular habit against alien literary fashion.