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[173] though great, was not universal. He was, as Willis said, “the best-launched poet of his time,” but this early success was not altogether beneficial. He was secretly over-sensitive, pensive, given to anxiety and despair, all of which is plainly visible in his letters; and yet he was sometimes charged with arrogance, or at least with being self-absorbed and monopolizing. As Sir Lucius O'Trigger says, there was “an air of success about him that was mighty provoking.” The influence of his wife scarcely tempered this, for she saw always his nobler side, and met his impassioned poetry with strains as ardent. She loved him, as she wrote,---

For that great soul whose breath so full and rare Doth to humanity a blessing bear,

Flooding its dreary waste with organ tone. That side was undoubtedly the true Lowell; yet it must be remembered that it was a time, in American literature, of defiant and vehement mutual criticism. Poe was disfiguring the press with the bitterness and scurrilous quality of his attacks; it was thought a fine thing to impale somebody, to make somebody

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N. P. Willis (1)
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