Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, "Brief Mention," American Journal of Philology
21.1 (1900) 107-112 (at 111-112):
With all charity for divergent ideals of the editor's work, there
are certain essentials that go to make up any decent performance
in the editorial line.
The editor may prefer to limit the range of
illustrative quotation to the author himself or to congeneric literature, and yet not fall short of his duty.
He may despatch
matters grammatical with a word or two and escape reproach.
He may decline to wander off into historical excursions and may
content himself with a curt explanation of allusions and the barest
summaries of situations.
The use of plastic and keramic art by
way of illustration is to a large extent a matter of sphere and
But every side of an author is to be illuminated, and
no real difficulty is to be shirked.
How capricious many commentators are, is a fact that needs no emphasis.
Some write to
meet the demands of commerce, some to air their own notions,
and, as a natural consequence, there has been gathering for some
years a rebellion against commentaries, the signs of which have
been noted in this Journal.
We are becoming familiar with the
aspect of texts devoid of apparatus beyond a general introduction
and an historical and geographical
Then there are
other editions intended to smooth the way of the reader as much
They do not go so far as to furnish interlinear
translations, but there is ever a prompter at the reader's side, and
not even the most gentle exercise of the intellect is permitted.
The stores of more ambitious predecessors are laid under contribution and their notes appropriated so far as they are useful to
the mild meddlers with classical literature. To these are added
renderings of the most familiar idioms and turns of expression.
There is an analysis, often borrowed, a few cheap illustrations, a
metrical scheme, if the text is poetical, an appendix of variants to
show that the editor is a critical scholar as well as a friend in