Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 6, Supplement >> 147a Richard Henry Wilde >> Page 59

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Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 2012
Transcription DECEMBER 1842 59
& Miss Wilde,4 to whom & yourself I owe one of the pleasantest days which I have spent in the year.'
Very faithfully, Yours,
W. Gilmore Simms Hon. R. H. Wilde.
'After his return from Italy in 1841 Wilde, his two sons (William Cumming Wilde and John Patterson Wilde), and his sister Catherine lived in Augusta with his brother, John Walker Wilde, and his wife, Emily (see Tucker, Richard Henry Wilde, p. 61). In annotating Simms' letter to Wilde of July 20, 1843 (169a), we incorrectly identify "Mr. J. W. & Lady" as Wilde's son and his wife.
`In his letter to Wilde of Aug. 11, 1842 (140c), Simms had promised Wilde to avail himself "of your friendly invitation" to visit him: "To know you, in pro: per:, will even tempt me to go out of my way." Around Dec. 1, 1842 (see letter to Lawson of Nov. 17 [146]), Simms left for Tuscaloosa, Ala., where on Dec. 13 he delivered before the Erosophic Society of the University of Alabama an oration later published under the title of The Social Principle: The True Source of National Permanence (Tuscaloosa: Published by the Society, 1843). Evidently on his return to Woodlands he stopped off at Augusta to meet Wilde. It was probably at this time that Simms "had the pleasure of hearing portions" of Wilde's never—finished life of Dante "read, by the accomplished writer himsel' (Southern and Western Monthly Magazine and Review, II [Aug. 18451, 144).
The Tuscaloosa Lyceum also invited Simms to lecture before its members during his visit to Alabama (see letter to Simms dated Sept. 14, 1842, and signed by A. B. Meek, Robert T. Clyde, and D. H. Robinson, original in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina). The Tuscaloosa Independent Monitor (edited by Stephen F. Miller) of Dec. 14, 21, and 2s gives a rather full account of Simms' visit to Tuscaloosa. Simms arrived in the city on Dec. 8 and was the guest of Benjamin Faneuil Porter (see note 134, July 14, 1849 [496]). The Independent Monitor calls Simms' oration "one of the most eloquent and polished Discourses ever listened to in the South-West" and remarks that through it Simms "gained fresh laurels to his brightly encircled brow." On Dec. 14, at the twelfth annual commencement of the University, the Board of Trustees conferred on Simms the degree of LL.D. On the evenings of Dec. 15 and 16 he lectured before the members of the Tuscaloosa Lyceum "and a crowded audience, at the Methodist Church, on the subject of 'American History, and the uses for which it is employed by Art in Fiction.'"The Independent Monitor remarks that "much of the intelligence of the State was present, in the members of the Legislature, and there was no dissenting voice as to the ability of the performance." And there were "other demonstrations of regard, in which the bestowers were more honored than the recipient . . . a man of genius, pure taste and high cultivation, to which may he joined exalted personal character." One of these "demonstrations" is reported at length by the Independent Monitor. On the evening of Dec. 17 Simms was honored with a public dinner at which Porter officiated as president. The third toast was "Our distinguished Guest": "The Historian, the Novelist, and the Poet. By the purity and beauty of his writings, he has shed honor upon our country's literature; and proven to the world that the land of his birth can assume the same high place in Letters which she has ever held in the Field and the Forum." After "the enthusiastic applause . . . had subsided," Simms "rose, and in a style peculiarly his own, enriched with all the graces of literature, loftiness of sentiment and