People moreover wrote to him to ask whether the youth in “Excelsior” died before he crossed the path; whether the poet's feelings were in sympathy with his thought when he wrote the poem of “The Bridge
” ; also who Evangeline was, to what country she belonged, and the place of her birth — a request which, his brother tells us, came in the same words one day from two different towns.
In declining the request of a schoolgirl, he reports that he “tried to say no
so softly that she would think it better than yes
One correspondent wished for the details of his life, and added, “try and fill a foolscap sheet.”
He wrote to one lady (December 18, 1855), “I have sixty unanswered letters lying on my desk before me;” and I myself saw, shortly before his death, a pile even larger than this, which had arrived that day from the pupils in the high schools of one western city.
It must be owned that though his patience held out through all these trials, his strictness of judgment did not; and that he, like all elderly poets,--Holmes
in particular,--found it very much easier to praise than blame.