Poe is a more glorious, Hawthorne a more sympathetic study for the American critic. The former, at his best, is always cosmopolitan; the latter betrays on every page a perplexing, but certainly a thoroughly American personality. The genius of Poe wrought upon the current narrative of his time with the results recorded in the last chapter; this personality of Hawthorne exercised itself as powerfully upon the same material, the product belonging to that still scanty literature of which an American may say, Here is how some of us have felt and thought according to our own race and our own history.
The short story familiar to the young Hawthorne was romantic narrative of the kind practised in the annuals, and it was in the school of the annuals that he began to write. Grimness, for example, appealed to him as to the rest of his generation. In one of his earliest stories, Alice Doane's Appeal, the narrator professes to be pleased when the terror of the incidents sets the nerves of his audience trembling, nor does this fashion fail to be reflected in many later narratives. The mysterious, again, was his favorite province, albeit he trod there for his own purposes. The sentimental -- here his somber spirit was too austere for the Zeitgeist, as Poe's