s not half the material for the exclusiveness of literature that he has for its universality, whatever that may mean; and finally he tried to make it appear that Hawthorne had borrowed from himself.
He returned again and again to the attack on Longfellow as a wilful plagiarist, denouncing the trivial resemblance between his Midnight Mass for the Dying year and Tennyson's Death of the Old year, as belonging to the most barbarous class of literary piracy.
Works, ed. 1853, III., 325. To make this attack was, as he boasted, to throttle the guilty;
Works, ed. 1853, III., 300. and while dealing thus ferociously with Longfellow, thus condescendingly with Hawthorne, he was claiming a foremost rank among American authors for obscurities now forgotten, such as Mrs. Amelia B. Welby and Estelle Anne Lewis.
No one ever did more than Poe to lower the tone of literary criticism in this country; and the greater his talent, the greater the mischief.
As a poet he held for a time the place ea
perfectly amazed and overwhelmed at the sight of two foreigners, although there probably were more cultivated Europeans in Boston thirty years ago than now, having been drawn thither by the personal celebrity or popularity of Agassiz, Ticknor, Longfellow, Sumner, and Dr. Howe.
The whole picture-though it is fair to remember that the author calls it a sketch only — seems more like a delineation of American society by Fortunio or Alexandre Dumas fils, than like a portraiture by one to the manor haracterizations, however skilful the plot, the reader is left discontented.
If in this respect he seems behind Howells, it must be remembered that James habitually deals with profounder emotions, and is hence more liable to be overmastered.
Longfellow says to himself in his Hyperion, O thou poor authorling!
Reach a little deeper into the human heart!
Touch those strings, touch those deeper strings more boldly, or the notes shall die away like whispers, and no ear shall hear them save thine