Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Afterword >> Page 252

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Page 252

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription AFTERWORD
I
William Gilmore Simms's custom all his life was to keep a notebook of
"literary grist" based primarily on personal experience, including horse-
back travel in various parts of the Southern frontier. The earliest excur-
sions were to the "old southwest," as illuminated by James E. Kibler; these
trips provided inspiration for poetry and short fiction, and, as John C.
Guilds has recently shown, were likely among the sources for several nov-
els of the 1830s and 1840s. Over time, Simms may have kept more than
one volume of "Personal and Literary Memorials," but the one extant
includes forty-three leaves of journal material recorded in September
and October 1847 while its author was on horseback "among the
hunters, beyond our remotest bounds of civilization."'
His family enjoyed a vacation at a fashionable watering place in
upcountry South Carolina called Glenn's Springs. After ten days' rusti-
cation, Simms left his family in a farmhouse near Spartanburg so that he
could journey into the mountains for a week. No doubt for the adven-
ture as well, Simms stated his purpose was the gathering of scenic
material, customs, and yarns from which he intended to make a book.
That book apparently was never written, but Simms drew upon his notes
from this trip for several works. Memories of this excursion contributed
to a long article, "Summer Travel in the South," in the Southern Quarterly
Review (1850). Later he reused the same notes for constructing two lec-
tures on the Southern Appalachians that he intended to deliver in 1856
to Northern audiences.
It was not until the latter part of his life, however, bereft of his home,
his library, much of his land, and his labor force, that Simms turned to
this material for fictional purposes. In writing Voltmeier; or, the Mountain
Men (serialized in The Illuminated Western World) and The Cub of the
Panther; A Mountain Legend (serialized in The Old Guard) in 1868-1869,
as well as "How Sharp Snaffles Got his Capital and Wife" (Harper's,
1870), Simms relied heavily on this material. He must actually have had
it on his desk during composition, for The Cub of the Panther reiterates
that the story was "transmitted to me by a generation of simple hunters"
and was written "mostly from notes made on the spot about a quarter of
a century ago."