Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 6, Supplement >> 933a William James Rivers >> Page 200

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Page 200

Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 2012
Transcription 200 THE SIMMS LETTERS
historical exercise. It was well written and well arranged. I do not remember whether I advised you that the notice of it in the Mercury was written by me.' But, what did you expect? An octavo, with a copious appendix can never be made a school book; and, as a history it was only complete as an epoch. Were you to pursue so comprehensive a plan throughout, the Histy of a little State, like S. C., would swell beyond the dimensions of a History of Greece or Rome—150 years of an obscure people, occupying the space in a Library of the 1000 years of the most controlling & conquering of all the races of the world. You must beware of being copious, where the material itself lacks in interest for the general reader. The class is a very small one, throughout the whole union, which desires such a work. I warned Dr. Stevens of Geo. against this mistake, but, without comparing the quality of the respective material, he was ambitious of giving as many volumes to the 100 years of Georgia history which Prescott had assigned to the Conquest of Mexico

'The Charleston Mercury of Nov. 8, 1856, announces that Rivers' A Sketch of the History of South Carolina to the Close of the Proprietary Government by the Revolution of 1719 . . . (Charleston: McCarter & Co., 1856) will soon be ready for publication; the same newspaper of Nov. 12 notes that the volume has been received but that a review of it will he delayed. Undoubtedly the delay was the result of Simms' being on his northern lecture tour. In the Mercury of Jan. 16, 1857, Simms published his review of Rivers's History, "a very valuable contribution to our Southern chronicles," though "in some of his generalizations, he has occasionally erred; but it is hardly possible that any one, living among us now, could have done better, if half so well." Most of the revien is devoted to the neglect by the South, and especially South Carolina. of literary men: "We have already had occasion to draw the public attention to this valuable contribution of Professor Rivers to our local history, and to endeavor to awaken a public sense among us of the necessity of giving every encouragement to those individuals, who, laboring, as it were, against hope, have yet addressed themselves to the task of creating for us a local literature. When this labor contemplates our local history, it is especially our duty, and should he our pride, to give it the most loving countenance; and our sympathies along with our sixpences. It does not matter to us,—it should not,—that a work like the one before us does not aim at gratifying a mere popular taste. It is a work for study, consultation, reference; not for mere amusement,—such a work as every Southern gentleman should have in his library; such as he may well read at his leisure, such as he should counsel and commission his sons to read, as a duty; since every son of the soil, having any patriotism, should by all means, whenever it is possible, put himself in possession of all the facts relating to the history, the interests, the progress, the policy—nay, the very faults, blunders, mistakes, and even crimes, of his ancestry; history being designed as a beacon and a warning, no less than as a guide, a landmark, and a light." It is the duty of southerners "to find fitting recompense for those who n rite your histories, and, at