Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Front Matter >> Introduction

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Introduction

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription INTRODUCTION xvtt
December) in the Old Guard, a New York journal edited by Charles
Chauncey Burr. Simms's first mention "of a new Border story, designed
for one of the periodicals" came in October 1868 when the novelist was
"engaged" in "some three different romances" (L, V, 170, 171).7 A few
days later Simms "sent off 100 pages of MS. all written since I reached
Woodlands" (L, V, 173)—a reference either to Voltmeier or Cub, since
he was at work on both at that time. By mid-November the novelist
had "written, on two different books, nearly 500 pp." (L, V, 176); and
by the first of December "nearly a thousand pages MS." (L, V, 177). On
Christmas Day 1868 the author characterized The Cub of the Panther as
"a short romance, poor pay, poor preachee" (L, V, 189), with its first
installment now "in the hands of the Publishers" (L, V, 185). Later
Simms admitted to "writing for what the backwoodsmen call `a dead
horse'meaning that he should "have eaten up fully" all the publish-
ers "advances of money" before completing the manuscripts of either
Voltmeier or Cub.
More nearly a potboiler in Simms's eyes than Voltmeier, The Cub of
the Panther held a relatively low priority with the impoverished, hard-
working author. Although Voltmeier began publication two months after
Cub, Simms finished writing the former in January 1869, while merely
keeping "pace with . . . the Printers" for The Cub of the Panther (L, V,
185). Though "almost disabled with Rheumatism," the harassed writer
continued to work "very hard" even while lamenting that "I am not in
good condition & need rest" (L, V, 196). "I do not now write for fame
or notoriety or the love of it," Simms confessed in March 1869, "but
simply to procure the wherewithal of life for my children ..." (L, V, 213).
Nevertheless, despite writing only for subsistence, Simms took pride in
his work even under dire circumstances. While maintaining a decided
preference for Voltmeier, he professed to "think well of both . . . of my
new romances," and expressed hope that "one or both" might be issued
"in book form" (L, V, 223)—a hope not fulfilled. In December 1869 the
novelist asserted that The Cub of the Panther was "quite a readable
romance & out of the beaten track" (L, V, 279) deserving wider circu-
lation than the Old Guard had been able to give it.
The germ for The Cub of the Panther is contained in a vivid nota-
tion in Simms's 1847 Appalachian notebook: "Green's wife's story of
the male panther The appetite of the beast for women in pregnancy
&c Horrid story of his eating one in this situation & of the discovery
of her remains by her husband." That Simms combined folklore, raw
border life, and colorful vernacular of hunters in a hastily written
mountain legend" suggests both the strengths and the weaknesses of