Wlliam Gilmore Simms
South-Carolina in the Revolutionary War >> South-Carolina in the Revolution >> Page 9

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 9

Reviews/Essays | Walker & James, Publishers | 1853
justification of the subject. The age is an indulgent one. We
are not unwilling to believe in the occasional excuse and
plea, which are urged against rebellion in behalf of loyalty.
We know that there is a plea for many. We can accord the
fullest absolution to that virtue which errs in its adherence to
what seems equally the path of duty and of safety ; and
where this adherence is coupled with active virtues--where
the person performs in compliance with his principles--he de-
serves that posterity should do him justice. Nay, for that
matter, there is no good reason why we should not possess
even though they be written in crimson characters, never to
be obliterated--the memoirs of those sturdy wretches who
made themselves famous by their brutalities and butcheries.
If we pursue the history of great virtues, in order to win oth-
ers by glorious examples, quite as important and necessary is
it that we should preserve the tradition of corresponding
crimes and vices, by which, painting them in just colours of
infamy and shame, we may enforce still more impressively, by
repulsion, those better performances which we aim to incul-
cate ;—even as the teacher, by examples in bad grammar, ex-
ercises the youthful learner, and: confirms him, in a knowledge
of the good. But why we should make interminable cata-
logues of mere names and dates--of people who made no
sort of figure in life--who were in obscurity as well as in er-
ror—is utterly beyond our comprehension. That Mr. Sabine's
book will be found readable in the proportion of one page to
fifty, is quite beyond the range of literary probability. That,
for any service which it does to history, or any help that it
affords to truth, it deserved such a waste of goodly type and
paper, will hardly be affirmed by any critic who governs his
opinion by the ordinary tests of good taste or utility.
But there are some few of these pages of Mr. Sabine, which
concern us especially. South-Carolina is honoured, by him,