Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Ephraim Bartlett, the Edisto Raftsman >> Page 409

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Page 409

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription EPHRAIM BARTLETT409
have no sort of question, that, with a dense population, addressed to
farming, and adequate to a proper drainage, it would prove quite
as salubrious as any portion of the country. Staple culture has been
always the curse of Carolina. It has prevented thorough tillage, with-
out which no country can ever ascertain its own resources, or be sure
of its health at any time.
Cooper river, on the right, is at a greater distance from us. This,
too, was a prosperous and well cultivated region in the Revolution.
In a considerable degree it still remains so, and is distinguished by
flourishing country seats, which their owners only occupy during
spring and winter. The cultivation is chiefly rice, and the rice planta-
tion is notoriously and fatally sickly, except among the negroes.
They flourish in a climate which is death to the European. But of
this river hereafter. I may persuade you, in future pages, to a
special journey in this quarter, when our details and descriptions may
be more specific. Between the two rivers the country is full of interest
and full of game, to those who can delay to hunt for it. He who
runs over the railroad only, sees nothing and can form no conception
of it. A few miles further, on the right, there is a stately relic of the
old British parochial establishment, a church edifice dedicated to
St. James, which modern veneration has lately restored with becom-
ing art, and re-awakened with proper rituals. Built of brick, with a
richly painted interior and tesselated aisles, surrounded by patriarchal
oaks, and a numerous tenantry of dead in solemn tomb and ivy-
mantled monument, you almost fancy yourself in the midst of an
antiquity which mocks the finger of the historian. In this neighbor-
hood flourished a goodly population. Large estates and great wealth
were associated with equally large refinement and a liberal hospital-
ity, and the land was marked by peculiar fertility. The fertility is
not wanting now, but the population is gone influenced by similar
considerations with those which stripped the sister river of its
thousands.
Until late years, the game was abundant in this region. The
swamps which girdled the rivers afforded a sure refuge, and the
deer stole forth to the ridges between, to browse at midnight, seeking
refuge in the swamps by day. We have just darted through an
extensive tract named Izard's camp, which used to be famous hunt-
ing-ground for the city sportsmen. Twenty years ago I have cracked