It is something strange that of all the commentators upon Homer, there is hardly one whose principal design is to illustrate the poetical beauties of the author. They are voluminous in explaining those sciences which he made but subservient to his poetry, and sparing only upon that art which constitutes his character. This has been occasioned by the ostentation of men who had more reading than taste and were fonder of showing their variety of learning in all kinds than their single understanding in poetry. Hence it comes to pass that their remarks are rather philosophical, historical, geographical, allegorical, or in short rather anything than critical and poetical.... The chief design of the following notes is to comment upon Homer as a poet.
Opening note to Book I.
This comment by Macrobius is exactly in the spirit and almost in the cant of a true modem critic. The simplicitas, the nescio quo modo, the genio antiqui poetae digna1. are excellent general phrases for those who have no reasons. "Simplicity" is our word of disguise for a shameful, unpoetical neglect of expression; the term of je ne sais quoi is the very support of all ignorant pretenders to delicacy; and to lift up our eyes and talk of the "genius of an Ancient" is at once the cheapest way of showing our own taste and the shortest way of criticizing the wit of others our contemporaries.
"Observations on the Catalogue," following Book II.
There is great strength, closeness, and spirit in this speech [of Ajax], and one might (like many critics) employ a whole page in____________________