Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Appendix: Historical and Textual Commentary >> Page 278

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Page 278

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription 278 HISTORICAL AND TEXTUAL COMMENTARY
rocky gorges." Very likely both of these came from the 1847 journal which
states that Fisher, like "all hunter's, traded in the meat that yet ran in the
woods. He made contracts for venison hams &c for hides &c."
This 1847 excursion and its written notes were invaluable to Simms,
who wrote in a letter to Lawson that he had "been among the moun-
taineers, in the very realm of wolf & panther, bear, deer, and other small
vermin, with a budget sufficiently stored for a volume." The first jour-
nal entry is dated September 26, 1847, at Tryon Mountain, North
Carolina. Simms's 1850 article, "Summer Travel in the South," which is
an intermediate step between the notebook and the lecture of 1856, refers
explicitly to certain journal material, "which we may hereafter employ in
other pages." That Simms did have his journal before him in writing this
travel article is conclusive, for he says,
On the first day of October such is one of the records in our note
book we picked our way to the top of one of the loftiest peaks east
of the Mississippi, feeding on huckleberries at every step, the vast
tracts of which spread from the base to the summit of the mountain.
A thousand acres of huckleberries, at a single glance, was no ordinary
spectacle.
Simms was here referring to his notation, "The Balsam range of moun-
tains. The ascent covered with huckleberries in October & very good
ones too." In his lecture Simms wrote, "On the first day of October, such
is one of my records, —I have picked my way to the top of one of the lofti-
est mountains east of the Mississippi feeding on huckleberries at every
step. A thousand acres of huckleberries, at a single glance is no small
spectacle." Simms also used this description in the frame of "Sharp
Snaffles."
Not always are the journal entries enlarged or embellished in sub-
sequent use. For example, "The Ballad of the Big Belly" is inscribed in its
most explicit form in the private journal of 1847, hastily scrawled per-
haps during some rendition of it by one of the hunters in camp. The
journal records,
As I walk[e]d out one morning in May
As pretty a little girl as ever I did see,
Came trudging alone by the side of me
Crying 0 Lawd! my Big belly!
What will my mammy say to me,
When I go home with a big belly.
Bis. —Olaw! my big belly!