Urn under the Arm of the River God

... a powerful image from Finn Brunton's journal:

George Eliot's remark in a review of Robert Mackay's Progress of the Intellect: "like extracts from his common-place book, which must be, as Southey said of his own, an urn under the arm of a river-god, rather than like a digested result of study, intended to inform the general reader." Southey's specific phrase is in vol. IV, and a point of pride: his work has not exhausted either his own intellectual resources or the contents of his commonplace book. The former is like "a living spring," and the latter like the urn under the River God's arm, gushing water as he walks. The living river spills forth from it, full of fish and leaves and saltating stones.

... possibly quoted from Nicholson Baker's essay "Narrow Ruled" in his American Scholar (Autumn 2000) column "At Large and At Small".

(cf [1], [2], and the original in The Writings of George Eliot: essays and uncollected papers by George Eliot and John Walter Cross (1908), ...) - ^z - 2022-02-20