Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 6, Supplement >> 139b Benjamin F. Griffin >> Page 52

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Page 52

Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 2012
Transcription 52 THE SIMMS LETTERS
of its kindred works, as I happen to know them well, I know how to despise them. I am glad that Mrs. G. is sufficiently bold to see the truth, even through that thick veil of veneration, which, in the South, our people are too apt to cast over the real character of what is distant. Here, we venerate any thing that is not known. By a joint & corresponsive action, we may soon strip these miserable jays of their borrowed plumage.-6
book and join the jokes with twaddle and read it as to read said gossip—weak as skimmed milk. He [Lewis Gaylord Clark] has not inherited his brother's [Willis Gaylord Clark's) mantle. He is no gentleman. He is low."'In an editorial entitled "Southern Literature" published in the June 1842 number of the Family Companion, II, (1801-181, Mrs. Griffin writes: "Neither of the above words are of new coinage; though it is only of late years that they seem to have had any significant meaning, in the relative position in which they are placed at the head of this article. Scarce a lustrum has elapsed since they were regarded as unmeaning sounds; and one might search the magazines from beginning to end and find no such term. But of late a meaning has been attached to it of dire import, and it is not unfrequently that we see 'southern literature' condemned as a heresy which is destined to work incalculable injury to the cause of letters, and to retard the diffusion of literary taste among the people: it is made synonymous with sectional literature, and held to be strictly antagonistical to the vaunted 'National Republic of Letters.' A portion of the press, in certain quarters, endeavor to attach to it all the pernicious consequences of sectional feeling and prejudice, which in their wide-spreading, all-embracing policy is so strongly to be deprecated and avoided in our land of republican principles. Another portion of the literary press, more politic, but less candid, affect not yet to have made the discovery, and carefully avoid the slightest notice of any other literature than that which emanates from the 'great republic of letters,' i. e., from their own particular clique." She considers the objects of both portions of the press the same: "one would prejudice the unreflecting by the parade of patriotic sentiments and false doctrines; the other would seek to hold its place by affecting a contemptuous disregard for all literary enterprises which may presume to contend with them for a share of public patronage. Having long enjoyed the undivided support of all sections, and becoming pampered and inordinately vain, they regard themselves as above competition, and seek, by unblushing effrontery and the employment of all manner of ad captandum devices, to supersede all others, whatever their claims or merit." Though Mrs. Griffin disclaims advocacy of "sectional prejudice," she does "approve of sectional literature.""We believe the soul of any literature is its local inspiration—its sectionality. . we cannot but esteem literature as enhanced by its local character. . . . We believe the South is destined to take the lead in the formation of what may be properly termed, a national literature. . . . We glory in the thought that we have the germ—and a vigorous one it is, too—of a domestic literature, and that the spirit is abroad in the land that will sustain it. . . . We would not be thought to entertain sectional prejudices, such as are attributed to all who manifest any degree of respect for the genius and talent of our own section. We harbor no such prejudices. We have the highest appreciation of talent wherever it is found. None can feel a greater deference for the literature of the north than ourselves, and in the degree that it is purely northern, in tone and spirit, untainted by foreign bias, do we esteem it worthy our admiration. We desire to see northerners