Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVII / Legend of Missouri: Or, The Captive of the Pawnee >> Page 405

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 405

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription TIIE GENIUS LOCI. 405

and the intense melancholy which they exhibit, which compels us, in spite of philosophy, to regret the necessity under which they perish. rilileir valor, their natural eloquence, their passionate sense of freedom, the sad nobleness of their aspects, the subtlety of their genius, these forbid that we should regard them with indifference ; and we watch their prolonged battle for existence and place, with that feeling of admiration with which we behold the " great man struggling with the storms of fate." The conflict between rival races, one representing the highest civilization, the other the totally opposite nature of the savage, is always one of exquisite interest ; and not an acre of our vast country but exhibits scenes of struggle between these rivals, which, properly delineated, would ravish from the canvass, and thrill all passions from the stage. The thousand progresses, in all directions, of the white pioneer; the thousand trials of strength, and skill, and spirit, between him and the red hunter ; � make of the face of the country one vast theatre, scene after scene, swelling the great event, until all closes in the grand denouement which exhibits the dying agonies of the savage, with the conquering civilization striding triumphantly over his neck. Tradition will help us in process of time to large elements of romance in the survey of these events, and the red man is destined to a longer life in art than he ever knew in reality.
" Yet shall the genius of the place,
In days of potent song to come, Reveal the story of the race,
Whose native genius now lies dumb. Yes, Fancy, by Tradition led, Shall trace the streamlet to its bed, And well each anxious path explore, The mighty trod in days of yore.
The rock, the vale, the mount, the dell, Shall each become a chronicle ;�The swift Imagination borne,
To heights of faith and sight supreme, Shall gather all the gifts of morn,
And shape the drama from the dream."
The sketch which follows might as well be true of a thousand histories, as of the one which it records. It is one which the painter might crown with all the glories of his art ; one which future invention may weave into permanent song and story, for