Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 6, Supplement >> 933a William James Rivers >> Page 201

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Page 201

Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 2012
Transcription JUNE 1859 201
& Peru.' The consequence was that nobody bought his first vol. and after 10 years, the Hist. Soc. of Geo. is trying to raise the funds to print the second.' That you provoked certain parties by your vol. is no doubt true; and suffer me to say, as you yourself have said it, you have made some mistakes; but I do not think that anybody suspects you of doing so wilfully. I believe, had you given me but one hour in consultation I could have saved you from these mistakes; that I had clues in my possession for the study of the subject, which are not easily attainable thro' any other media. But, I fancy, there were sinister influences brought to bear upon your mind, chiefly meant to operate against myself. Several of the parties into whose hands you had fallen, were secretly hostile to me. Some of them tried to persuade Trescott to write a Histy of S. C. in order to supersede mine. They did not, in so many words, tell him so; nor did they tell you; yet these very parties were most active in regard to your work. Trescott refused; being pleased to say that he knew
great self-sacrifice, without the motive of emolument, assist your reputations, interests and renown, in the great arena of nations. . . After a hundred years of politics, we are scarcely assured of one day of political existence. In truth, our capacity to live, as a free people, in the possession of our rights, has become a most perplexing problem; and we are constrained to think, that all this is due to the one melancholy fact, that, while we have encouraged all sorts of politicians, we have, as studiously, discouraged all sorts of literature. No writer of the South has ever earned one dollar by all his labors in behalf of the South." If we fail "in the great mental struggle," we will perish "in every other field of conflict." We should, if we are to survive, have "always at hand a strong cohort of able literary men. ... In truth, we are to remember that literature is a new thing in the South, and especially in South Carolina. It has to make itself a beginning. It never had—never was suffered to have—an existence. We have been always more apt to sneer at our beginners, as rivals, than to stimulate them to proper performances, which would enable them to reach due rank as authorities, and they have, accordingly, usually abandoned it as a profession. It is necessary—and we begin to feel it so—that we should decree otherwise now, and have our own writers. Professor RIVERS is one of those who may be held to be inaugurating for us the new day. The old laborers, pretty well worn out, we suppose, have passed, or are passing, off the stage. If they did little in their time, we cannot complain; for we paid them never a stiver for what they did. We gave them neither pay nor praise, in their capacity of authorship." There can be little doubt that Simms had himself in mind when he wrote of the South's—and South Carolina's—neglect of its authors.
'Harper and Brothers, New York, published William Hickling Prescott's History of the Conquest of Mexico . . . in 3 vols. in 1843, his History of the Conquest of Peru . . . in 2 vols. in 1847.
'Vol. I of Stevens' A History of Georgia . . . was published by D. Appleton and Co., New York, in 1847; Vol. II by E. H. Butler & Co., Philadelphia, in 1859.