Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Charleston, and Her Satirists; a Scribblement.

Poetry | 1848

            Charleston and Her Satirists consists of a single poem that William Gilmore Simms drafted in response to a previously published work on Charleston.  Simms is not directly identified as the author, but is referred to as “A City Bachelor.”  The work was printed and published in two sections by James S. Burges in Charleston, SC during 1848.  The first section probably came to press sometime around November 24, as that is when Simms sent a copy to J.H. Hammond.[1]  In the accompanying letter, Simms asked for Hammond’s opinion of the work, noting that he himself had some doubts about its quality.  Simms observed, “I send you a pamphlet of which you will give me your opinion. There is a sequel to it. But I am weary – half desponding like yourself. But I go to work when I am dull & expend my stupidity upon the public or my friends.”[2]  He sent the second section three weeks later, on December 15, 1848.[3]  In that same letter to Hammond, and also in an May 23, 1859 letter to William Hawkins Ferris, a New York friend, Simms noted that he wrote the work, “stans pede in uno, - almost without alteration, - at some three sittings.”[4] 

            In a letter to Nathaniel Beverley Tucker dated April 23, 1849, Simms reiterated his claim that the work was “written at a couple of sittings – standings rather – and at the request of some Gentlemen of Charleston; - the people of that godly city being greatly outraged at a spiteful pamphlet which purported to be from the pen of a Yankee woman, who revenged herself on the community by a lampoon, in resentment at the loss (it is said) of a love – a lad whom she chased from college.”[5]  The work to which Simms referred was Charleston: A Poem and had “A Northern Lady” attributed as its author.  Continuing, Simms told Tucker that, “the portions of my scribblement that may interest you will be such as compare characteristics of North & South. The occasion was a good one for the utterance of some severities which were more legitimately bestowed by a native pen.”  Simms was using the occasion, therefore, to make political points.  He chose to publish this work in a form similar to another from this same time, Lays of the Palmetto.  As John Caldwell Guilds notes, both volumes were, “paper-wrapped pamphlet-sized” and “published for local audiences.”  James Kibler observes that Simms, “felt that as a poet, he should voice the sentiments of his community.”[6] 

            The first edition features a yellow paper-wrapper and  reads:  CHARLESTON, | AND HER SATIRISTS; | A SCRIBBLEMENT. | BY A CITY BACHELOR. | [rule] | ''Touchstone. -- I'll rhyme you so, eight years together; dinners and | suppers | and sleeping hours excepted. It is but the right butter woman's | rank to market.'' | [rule] | CHARLESTON:| PRINTED BY JAMES S. BURGES | 1848.  The copy housed in the Salley-Simms Collection at the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina contains an inscription by John Ryan McKissick on the front cover.

Elizabeth Oswald

[1] James Everett Kibler, Jr., The Poetry of William Gilmore Simms: An Introduction and Bibliography (Columbia: Southern Studies Program University of South Carolina, 1979), 82.

[2] Letters, 2:459.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., 2:504.

[6] Kibler, Poetry, 77.