Monday, November 28, 2011
'Brave, honest' William Cobbett has somewhere said that 'foot-notes' ought to be written 'fool-notes,' while Isaac d'Israeli has defended them. For myself, I prefer to distinguish. Where a foot-note reveals its writer's incapacity to incorporate all he has to say with the body of his text, I am with Cobbett; but as regards illustrative or detachable notes (by which mere references are not intended) I am with the author of the Curiosities of Literature. Indeed, I could almost go as far as Leigh Hunt in his high-pitched enthusiasm for Warton's Minor Poems of Milton. Of this he says: 'His edition of the minor poems of Milton is a wilderness of sweets. It is the only one in which a true lover of the original can pardon an exuberance of annotation; though I confess I am inclined enough to pardon any notes that resemble it, however numerous. The "builded rhyme" stands at the top of the page, like a fair edifice with all sorts of flowers and fresh waters at its foot. The young poet lives there, served by the nymphs and fauns.' (Indicator, lxiii.)
Milton's Poems upon Several Occasions
(London: James Dodsley, 1785)
Related post: The Sauce and the Fish.