His critiques were read with avidity, not that he convinced the judgment, but because people felt their ability and their courage; he took the public idols so by the beard and knocked them right and left, till people saw they were no gods at all but miserable shams. Sometimes he found the genuine, and attempted the same process with a cool hardihood; but he is a pigmy in giant’s armor who does not come out magnified by the blows of an assailant. These critiques of Edgar Poe were live productions; he did not play with his pen, but wielded it. Right or wrong, all was real at the time. He was terribly in earnest. He was carried away as by an avalanche of words and emotions. Men and women with their books under their arms marched in grand procession before him, and he discovered the rich goods of one, the thefts of another, the divine art, the heavenly beauty, the profound meanings of some, while others were totally enigmatical and unrevealed to him. […]

As a prose writer, his stories are finished in the highest artistic manner; they are so carefully and artistically completed, that they cease to be fictions, and not being facts, they assume the aspect of a lie. Indeed, Poe believed his own fictions for the time being, or he would have you think so; he became a part of them; he filled up incident, and iterated congruities like a man who is savagely intent upon making you believe him, while underneath he carries a Mephistophelean smile that can not be hidden. We have no sympathy with his characters or their surroundings, but he holds us, nevertheless, as the Ancient Mariner held his victim; we read on with a ghastly interest, we hurry on to the close, we can not escape him; we are not pleased but fascinated, and that is his power, a sort of serpent–holding which we can not resist. He was truly a demonized man — a man possessed: in other words, a man of genius. He will be remembered when better writers, healthier, and more beneficent, are forgotten, for though sometimes incoherent, always morbid, and reckless of results, he touched a vein to which all will more or less respond. […]