Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Author's Advertisement >> Page 6

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 6

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 6 ADVERTISEMENT.
colors of the rose and rainbow shall predominate, is a very
different, and, let me add, a far less difficult matter, than to
depict life as we discover it�man in all his phases, as he is
modified by circumstance, and moulded by education and
man as the optimist would have, and as the dreamer about
inane perfectibility delights to paint him. My object usually
has been to adhere, as closely as possible, to the features
and the attributes of real life, as it is to be found in the
precise scenes, and under the governing circumstances�some
of them extraordinary and romantic, because new in which
my narrative has followed it. In this pursuit, I feel con-
fident that I have nothing extenuated, nor set down aught
in malice." I certainly feel that, in bringing the vulgar
and the vicious mind into exceeding activity in a story of
the borders, I have done mankind no injustice; and while
I walk the streets of the crowded city, and where laws are
said to exist, and in periods which, by a strange courtesy,
are considered civilized, I am still less disposed to admit that
my delineations of the species in the wilds of our country, and
during the strifes of foreign and intestine warfare, are drawn
in harsh colors and by a heavy hand. I am persuaded that
vulgarity and crime must always preponderate dreadfully
preponderate in the great majority during a period of war;
and no argument would seem necessary to sustain the asser-
tion, when we look at the insolence and brutality of crime, as
it shows itself among us in a time of peace. Certainly, if
argument be needed, we shall not have to look far from our
great cities for the evidence in either case.
It is true that the novelist is, or should be, an artist, and his
taste and judgment are alike required to select from his ma-
terials, and choose, for his personages, judicious lights. An
undue preponderance of dark -will. not do in a picture, unless
to produce some such pyrotechnic performances as John Martin
delights in�vast dashes of glare and gloom, alternately shift-
ing, and an explosion of fireworks in a conspicuous centre.
The discriminating eye will require that the light and shadow
be so distributed that the one shall not be oppressive nor the
other dense. These are general principles to be observed, not