Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 6, Supplement >> Front Matter >> Introduction

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Introduction

Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 2012
Transcription Introduction xx i x
out the motive of emolument, assist your reputations, interest and renown, in the great arena of nations. . . . After a hundred years of politics, we are scarcely assured of one day of political existence. In truth, our capacity to live, as a free people, in the possession of our rights, has become a most perplexing problem; and we are constrained to think, that all this is due to the one melancholy fact, that, while we have encouraged all sorts of politicians, we have, as studiously, discouraged all sorts of literature. No writer of the South has ever earned one dollar by all his labors in behalf of the South." And he adds that if we fail "in the great mental struggle," we will perish "in every other field of conflict.""In truth, we are to remember that literature is a new thing in the South, and especially in South Carolina. . . . It never had—never was suffered to have—an existence." Simms' considered opinion of the attitude of the South, and especially of South Carolina, towards literature and towards authors, in particular himself, is nowhere more clearly stated than in his letter to Rivers of June 13, 1859, in which he pointedly refers to this review of Rivers's book. One must of course remember that Simms was at times captious and imperious and when beset with disappointment apt to lash out against his world—and also apt then to reverse himself. His letters, with their copious annotations, furnish a record of the many honors he received. They record also such appreciation as the successful efforts of his South Carolina friends to raise funds in 1862 to rebuild his plantation home, accidentally burned.
In spite of Simms' melancholy view of the difficulties of the literary man in the South, he constantly strove to create, almost single-handedly, a literature for the South, and in the letters written before 1845 we see him not only writing novels, tales, poems, reviews, essays, and a history of South Carolina, but also attempting to keep the Magnolia alive. By the end of 1844 he had started to launch his Southern and Western Monthly Magazine and Review (more thoroughly documented in the letters in Volume II than here), and before long he was to take over the editorship of the Southern Quarterly Review. Many of the letters written during the years 1849–1854 are concerned with his attempt (often vain) to obtain contributions for his Review when the publishers were able to pay