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Longfellow (search for this): chapter 3
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
with Hawthorne, we see that the genius of the latter has hands and feet as well as wings, so that all his work is solid as masonry, while Poe's is broken and disfigured by all sorts of inequalities and imitations; he not disdaining, for want of true integrity, to disguise and falsify, to claim knowledge that he did not possess, to invent quotations and references, and even, as Griswold showed, to manipulate and exaggerate puffs of himself. I remember the chagrin with which I looked through Tieck, in my student-days, to find the Journey into the Blue distance to which Poe refers in the House of Usher; and how one of the poet's intimates laughed me to scorn for being deceived by any of Poe's citations, saying that he hardly knew a word of German. But, making all possible deductions, how wonderful remains the power of Poe's imaginative tales, and how immense is the ingenuity of his puzzles and disentanglements! The conundrums of Wilkie Collins never renew their interest after the
Poe. It happens to us rarely in our lives to come consciously into the presence of that extraordinary miracle we call genius. Among the many literary persons whom I have happened to meet, at home or abroad, there are not half a dozen who have left an irresistible sense of this rare quality; and, among these few, Poe stands next to Hawthorne in the vividness of personal impression he produced. I saw him but once; and it was on that celebrated occasion, in 1845, when he startled Boston by substituting his boyish production, Al Aaraaf, for the more serious poem which he was to have delivered before the Lyceum. There was much curiosity to see him; for his prose-writings had been eagerly read, at least among college-students, and his poems were just beginning to excite still greater attention. After a rather solid and very partisan address by Caleb Cushing, then just returned from his Chinese embassy, the poet was introduced. I distinctly recall his face, with its ample forehead
r Willis might find herself placed among the Muses. Poe complimented and rather patronized Hawthorne, but found him only peculiar and not original; Works, ed. 1853, III., 202. saying of him, He has not half the material for the exclusiveness of literature that he has for its universality, whatever that may mean; and finally hlance 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, thu1853, 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 h
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