Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 6, Supplement >> 705a Edward Dromgoole >> Page 148

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Page 148

Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 2012
Transcription 148 THE SIMMS LETTERS
I enclose you the Publishers Reciept for five dollars the subscription for the present year. With the hope that you have reached your home safely, as I mine, and the expressio[n]z of much pleasure at having made your acquaintance, I am, dear Sir,
Yr obt & obliged Servt. W. Gilmore Simms.
When we edited Vol. III of Simms' Letters, we did not have access to a file of a Petersburg newspaper for 1854 and were, therefore, unable to ascertain the dates and subjects of Simms' lectures there. The Petersburg Daily South-Side Democrat of Mar. 6 announces that Simms is to lecture at the Library of the Petersburg Library Association that night and the following night, remarks "that his lectures at the Richmond Athenwum last week, were the finest things ever heard there," and cautions its readers "to go early or a seat will be an impossibility." The same newspaper of Mar. 7 reports: "We had a grand lecture last night. Mr. Simms addressed us on 'Poetry and the Practical,' telling the muck-rakes and Mammon worshippers, that all beautiful things are useful; that there is a standard higher than the stock market and the rates of exchange; that there are temples of pure thought from whose grand arches, and dreamy aisles the money changers should he lashed with scorpion whips as unworthy an entrance. It was a noble sight—a man and and [sic) a poet, with a fine commanding person. a thoughtful eye and dominant brow shaking off the trammels of conventionalism, swearing that Baal was no God of his, and that if the Deity was the perfected embodiment of Bank notes, he would be an infidel, and his audience appreciated it. A breathless, eager attention pervaded the assemblage; even the cry of fire which burst forth in the middle of the performance fell unheeded on ears which were enchained on lips pleading the cause of the TO KALON." The Democrat of Mar. 9 remarks: "Mr. Simms concluded Tuesday night [Mar. 7I his lectures on 'Poetry and the Practical,' and we echo the sentiment of every one of his auditors who were capable of appreciating him when we say that, for originality of thought, felicity of expression, boldness of statement and truthfulness of conception, such a lecture has never been delivered in Petersburg on any subject."
Simms was as impressed by his auditors as they were by him. In the Southern Quarterly Review, X (July 1854), 271, he remarks of the Petersburg Library Association: "We can speak of the Library from personal observation, and bear grateful testimony to the courtesy, intelligence, enterprise and honourable ambition of the officers and members of the Institution. A large, growing and well selected library, constantly in use by eager citizens desiring knowledge and curious to study;—crowded lecture rooms, silently watchful of all that falls from the lips of the speaker;—the old and young, male and female, all zealously uniting in the common cause; all seeking to combine the elegant and the useful in knowledge;—the truthful and the beautiful; these are the proofs which the people of Petersburg daily give of the utility of their Library Association, and of the wise use which they are making of it."'The MS. is torn.