“Marginalia”

Zeugma’s PG post today had a couple of interesting items. An Index to The Divine Comedy which is the list of cantos with links. I downloaded Pagan Papers, a collection of essays by Kenneth Grahame. “Loafers” was funny. I liked “Marginalia.” It begins:

Marginalia

American Hunt, in his suggestive “Talks about Art,” demands that the child shall be encouraged—or rather permitted, for the natural child needs little encouragement—to draw when- and whereon-soever he can; for, says he, the child’s scribbling on the margin of his school-books is really worth more to him than all he gets out of them, and indeed, “to him the margin is the best part of all books, and he finds in it the soothing influence of a clear sky in a landscape.” Doubtless Sir Benjamin Backbite, though his was not an artist soul, had some dim feeling of this mighty truth when he spoke of that new quarto of his, in which “a neat rivulet of text shall meander through a meadow of margin”: boldly granting the margin to be of superior importance to the print. This metaphor is pleasantly expanded in Burton’s “Bookhunter”: wherein you read of certain folios with “their majestic stream of central print overflowing into rivulets of marginal notes, sedgy with citations.” But the good Doctor leaves the main stream for a backwater of error in inferring that the chief use of margins is to be a parading-ground for notes and citations. As if they had not absolute value in themselves, nor served a finer end! In truth, Hunt’s child was vastly the wiser man.