Marginal

On East Coker on the rebind.

Tell me, ye learned, shall we for ever be adding so much to the bulk — so little to the stock?

Shall we for ever make new books, as apothecaries make new mixtures, by pouring only out of one vessel into another?

Are we for ever to be twisting, and untwisting the same rope? for ever in the same track — for ever at the same pace?

Sheall we be destined to the days of eternity, on holy-days, as well as working-days, to be shewing the relicks of learning, as monks do the relicks of their saints — without working one — one single miracle with them?

— Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy, and adapted, according to Sterne’s editor James A. Work, from Burton.  (I’m sure Work gives Burton’s first name in an earlier footnote, but as a two-minute Google search proved inconclusive about Burton’s first name, and as Work goes on to say that Burton himself adapted his own version from some unnamed source, and really, in the spirit of the passage, I’ll leave it at that.)

One thought on “Marginal

  1. “Shall we for ever make new books, as apothecaries make new mixtures, by pouring only out of one vessel into another?”

    This poem and your post that led to it have much to say. For this line, I can’t help but think of its application to ebooks.

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