Among the strange differences between our ancestors and their descendants of latter days is the wide difference between the feelings and language of commentators on great classical works. At the restoration of letters, when men discovered the manuscripts of the great Ancients, as some long hidden treasure, the editors of even the most trivial work were exuberant in phrases of panegyric, and superlatives of praise seemed to be almost their only terms. In the editing of modern writers, on the contrary, we find the commentator everywhere assuming a sort of critical superiority over the author he edits. Which of the two is to be blamed? I must confess that the former (even admitting him more deficient in judgment, which I am by no means prepared to allow) is more congenial with the ...
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