Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 6, Supplement >> 831a Octavia Walton Le Vert >> Page 171

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Page 171

Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 2012
Transcription NOVEMBER 1856 171 831a : To OCTAVIA WALTON LE VERT'
New York. Nov. 24. [1856]2 My dear Mrs. Le Vert.
Your graceful & courteous letter has been this moment recd. I write promptly, rather to make my acknowledgments than to respond in the spirit which you and it equally deserve. I am too much oppressed with labour, at this time, to do more than say how glad I am to hear from you, and how grateful for the sweet temper of your epistle. I am preparing to take my way homeward, disappointed in all my lecturing expectations, driven away, in fact, in consequence of the deep & bitter hostility expressed here, in regard to the very subjects of my Lectures, which are chiefly Southern & South Carolinian. I have accordingly abandoned the field, & return to my own poor little Parish.' But I will not trouble you with my
'Mrs. Le Vert (1810-1877), the daughter of George Walton II and Sally Minge Walker, was born at "Bellevue," near Augusta, Ga. Educated at home, she was a mistress of Greek, Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish. She was equally interested in politics and society, and during a tour of the United States in 1833—1834 she became known as "the belle of the Union." In 1835 her father moved to Mobile, Ala., and in the following year Octavia married Dr. Henry Strachey Le Vert. Her "Mondays" at her home on Government Street were crowded from eleven in the morning until eleven at night. In 1853 Mrs. Le Vert, accompanied by her father, her daughter Octavia, and her servant Betsey, visited England, where almost instantly she was taken into the best society. A few years later she and her husband visited the Continent, and she became acquainted with Napoleon Ill, various noblemen and noblewomen, a number of the leading artists and writers of the day, and Pius IX. Her salon in Paris was called the "Tower of Babel." Everywhere she was celebrated for her intelligence and beauty—even her feet were admired. It was said of her that "her remarkable experience was to wear the crown of beauty and genius without a thorn." Dr. Le Vert died one year before the close of the Civil War, and after the war Mrs. Le Vert returned to "Bellevue," where she lived until her death. See Mrs. John K. Ottley, "Octavia Walton Le Vert," in Library of Southern Literature, ed. Edwin Anderson Alderman, Joel Chandler Harris, and Charles William Kent (Atlanta: Martin & Hoyt Co., 1907-1910), VII, 3221-3225.
'Dated by Simms' remarks about the cancellation of his lecture tour. See his other letters written during this month.
'Richard Henry Stoddard (1825-1903), the poet and editor, who was living in New York City at the time of Simms' lecture, evidently blamed Simms' failure on lack of tact, discretion, or judgment. On Dec. 15, 1856, Simms' friend Paul Hamilton Hayne wrote to Stoddard: "There is much truth undoubtedly in what you say of Simms. He has no tact—discretion, or judgment[.] But if you knew the circumstances of his career—what, from boyhood he has had to contend against here [Charleston], your surprise at his Conduct would be vastly modified. There