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 xlii THE SIMMS LETTERS
Numerous sketches written by Simms' friends record his genial nature, his storytelling charm, his personal magnetism, and his generous, kindly spirit. A picture of a less socially charming but more fundamentally serious side of his nature is given in an early letter to Mrs. Griffin, of June 8, 1841: "I am a very unconventional sort of person; very ardent in my temperamnt, very earnest in my object; express myself usually in the first words that come uppermost; write usually as I talk; and as the world goes, am accounted a somewhat rude, blunt man. An unamiable character, enough, but one which, perhaps, is not without its virtues, which, in my case, I must leave to the charity of my friends to find out for themselves." The letters included in this and the earlier volumes now enable us to assess the truth of this self-portrait. Whether a twentieth-century reader is called upon to exercise his "charity" is, of course, an individual matter.
Except as indicated below, the texts of Simms' letters are printed verbatim—misspellings, variations in spelling, and faulty punctuation being retained. Throughout his life, as Simms often tells his correspondents, he was a hasty writer, and though his handwriting becomes more difficult to decipher in his later years, certain problems in transcription occur in letters written at all periods of his life. Simms' punctuation is occasionally ambiguous in that it is difficult to distinguish between a comma and a period; in such cases our choice has been determined by Simms' usual practice or the practice of his day. In capitalization, Simms is sometimes inconsistent, and we have retained his clear inconsistencies. But his capital and lower-case "c's,""l's,""e's,""a's," and "N.'s" are often so similarly written (even within the same letter) that we have had to decide whether in each instance he intended a capital of lower-case letter—we hope that our interpretations are logical for Simms. Very occasionally, when Simms' misspelling is obviously the result of extreme haste—for example, "Woodland" and "Alaabama"—we have corrected it and in a footnote indicated what he actually wrote. In a few letters we have supplied necessary punctuation (usually a period or a quotation mark) and words necessary to the sense and enclosed them in square brackets. Square brackets are also used to enclose words or parts of words lost through damage