Wlliam Gilmore Simms
As Good as a Comedy and Paddy McGann >> As Good as a Comedy, or The Tennesseean's Story >> Proem

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Proem

Novella | U of South Carolina P | 1972
Transcription r6PROEM
its truth more than for its pleasantry; for, about the one I can
answer, and about the other I'm as good as nobody to have an
opinion. I'm not the man to make folks laugh, onless it's at me, and
then I'm jest as apt to make them cry, too; so you see I'm as good
as comedy and tragedy both, to some. But, as I confess, a joke
don't gain much in goodness when it leaves my mouth ; and of so
be—"
We silenced these preliminaries viva voce; and, thus arrested, our
Tennesseean left off his faces and began. In a plain and direct man-
ner, he related the occurrences which will be found in the follow-
ing chapters. He was no humorist, though he suffered us all to see
in what the humorous susceptibilities of his story lay. It was the
oddity of the circumstances, rather than their humor, that held out
the attraction for me; and I could readily perceive how, without
confounding comedy with the merely humorous and ludicrous, the
materials thus thrown together might, by a dexterous hand, be con-
verted to the purposes of the stage. The story illustrates curiously
the variety and freedom of character which we find everywhere in
our forest country, where no long-established usages subdue the
fresh and eager impulses of originality, and where, as if in very
mockery of the conventionalities of city life, the strangest eccen-
tricities of mood and feeling display themselves in a connection with
the most unimpeachable virtue eccentricities of conduct such as
would shock the demurer damsel of the city, to whom the proprieties
themselves are virtues yet without impairing those substantial
virtues of the country girl, whose principles are wholly independent
of externals. Let the reader only keep in mind the perfect freedom
of will, and the absence of prescriptive or fashionable discipline in
our border countries, and there will be nothing strange or extrava-
gant in what is here related of the heroine.
In putting these details together, I have adopted a fashion of my
own, though without hoping, any more than our Tennesseean, to
bring out the humorous points of the narrative. These must be left
to the fancy of the reader. "As good as a comedy" need not imply
a story absolutely comic; and I do not promise one. Still, I am
disposed to think and to hope that the title thus sportively adopted
will not be found wholly inappropriate to the volume.
NEW YORK.