I know that is the traditional and conventional opinion of the masculine sex, which I, from my stand-point of observation, do not think is at all carried out in the experience of life. I am not telling of manly men, able to brunt the fight, but of a class by no means adapted to its rough encounters, although every one of these men, ay, and these women too, have an ideal of themselves, justified, too, by some internal consciousness, by which they could meet the utmost that may befall humanity without a groan; and I think they would have done so. It was the dull canker of everyday life which fretted and corroded them.

Mr. Hoffman used to say,

“I could easily die for a cause, when I could not live for it.”

“You think, then, that heroism is an impulse — a momentary madness?” I said.

“By no means; the last act may be sudden, but it must proceed from a heroic make, just as cowardice may exist in the man undetected, till the emergency betrays it. Our acts are prompted by what lies deeper than ordinary observation.”

Mr. Poe was spiritual, abstract, intellectual; he had a manly sense of independence, which rendered patronage of any kind repugnant to him. I do not think he ever found any very appropriate sphere in this life; genial moments, green oases in the dreary waste he certainly found, for he, in one phase of character, had an almost childish desire for companionship. I have often thought how happily such a man as Poe, and some others, might have been, placed in an atmosphere of taste and appreciation, in some little court-like that of Bavaria for instance, which so fostered the genius of Goethé and Schiller; but in our country the life of genius is a perpetual struggle.

His marriage had been, as I have said, premature, to his cousin, a sweet, stag-eyed girl, who devoted herself to him in the same way that she would have devoted herself to a greyhound or any other handsome pet, but who could add little to his mental or moral growth. I have always regarded this marriage as an unfortunate one for the poet, who needs a more profound sympathy always, if he would sound the depths of his own genius. That he loved her tenderly none will deny, and some of his sweetest lyrics owed their inspiration to her delicious eyes and girlish affection. She was his playmate, his pretty child-wife, for she was but fourteen at the time of her marriage.