Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 6, Supplement >> 71e Edward L. Carey >> Page 18

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Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 2012
Transcription 18 THE SIMMS LETTERS
should lead to good profits.' I have not heard from you or Miss Leslie which of the Tales she has chosen.'
Yours Ever &c
E L. Carey Esq.
I find an awkward error at p. 69, Chap. 5 of the proofs which I have, which as it stands uncorrected in my duplicates, may have been suffered to remain uncorrected in that retd. to you. Selon les

'Since Simms usually calls newspapers "newspapers" or "papers" and occasionally refers to periodicals as "journals," we assume that he here means "periodicals." At this date, however, there was only one periodical published in the Southwest, the Southron (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), edited by Alexander Beaufort Meek (see the "Prospectus" of the Southron in the Tuscaloosa Independent Monitor for Dec. 1, 1838, which states that there are no periodicals published in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee). Richard Hurdis is reviewed, probably by Meek (see introductory sketch), in the Southron, I (Jan. 1839), 52-62. The writer of this long, enthusiastic review begins with praise of the novel's "intrinsic merits, as a romance of great spirit and ability—of thrilling incident and glowing passion." He remarks on the anonymity of the author: "That he is a Southron however, is evident from the inscription 'to the Hon. John A. Grimball of Mississippi, by a friend and countryman,' and by the sectional spirit, the antipathy to the Yankees,—breathing throughout the book. Beyond this, concerning the authorship all is conjecture and doubt.""These circumstances,—the anonymousness, not the least,—have served to render this Tale of Alabama, unusually popular in the South-West. Elsewhere it has obtained great popularity, from its intrinsic worth.... He [the author] has written a bold and original romance,—in a new field, and in some respects, after a new fashion,—which will stand the scrutiny of criticism, as well as entertain the superficial reader. This we say though we think the hook, in addition to many good qualities,—many excellencies,—has many faults, and is deficient in some of the most important properties of a good novel." Among these faults are "its moral tone and temper" ("the portraiture of turbulent passions, and horrid and unnatural deeds," which caters to "a morbid and brutal taste, and should not be pandered to, by any writer"), the failure of the author "in the delineation of female character" ("except for Picket[t]'s wife, and ... the idiot, Jane, . . . we defy any reader to designate any difference [among the others], if we except the mere physique, of one having blue eyes, and another dark ones, and their hair not being of the same color"), a deficiency of "humor and wit," and several historical inaccuracies (for example, "the size and condition of Tuscaloosa, at the time of the story"—"it was the seat of government of Alabama, and had five, instead of one tavern"). If all these faults are avoided in future works, the author "will become,—what we have no doubt he is capable of becoming,—in many respects, decidedly the first of American fictitious writers." It was Meek who, almost four years later, at a public dinner in honor of Simms challenged him as the author of the "Hurdis Novels"—Simms then first publicly confessed his authorship (see note 5, Dec. 26, 1842 1147a1).
"The Lazy Crow" or "The Arm-Chair of Tustenuggee." See note 1, Feb. 14, 1839 (71d).