Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Vol. 6, Supplement >> 30a The Editor of the Southern Literary Journal >> Page 290

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Page 290

Correspondence | U of South Carolina P | 2012
Transcription 290 THE SIMMS LETTERS
writings were distributed over the country from Maine to Louisiana, there were not ten persons out of our own state who read Hugh Legare's admirable criticisms upon them. It is certain that these two leading works were at issue on many subjects—generally, indeed, at issue and no one will pretend to urge that the praise of either was indiscriminate. Another example. The Southern Review praised Mr. Bryant5 American Quarterly denounced his claims, in a sluzIlw paper from the pen of a man named M'Henry;6 though the decree of the writer was reversed, as has not been unfrequently the case in respect to this particular periodical, by the public opinion in this country and Europe alike. No body will venture to affirm that any unanimity or collusion between these three periodicals, ever existed. The heavier reviews, indeed, offer very few opinions upon the miscellaneous literature which our country produces. It is a typographical impossibility that they should. They appear unfrequently, at limited periods, in a circumscribed form, and can do little more than provide a dissertation laying down just principles, or principles supposed to be just, upon some leading topic, for which some recent popular publication furnishes them a plausible text. Even this rule is circumscribed within a yet narrower boundary; since it is not usual for the North American to pass out of its own province of New England in search of its subject, and unless the author has some partial friend who esteems him sufficiently to pen a review of his writings, and lay it before one or other of these august tribunals, it is very seldom that the spirit of justice or of patriotism will prompt them to take up the matter of themselves.*
*[Simms's footnote] In a hurried perusal of the correspondence of poor Cole-ridge, edited and just put forth by his widow, I find a painful illustration of this difficulty in the way of an author, even of the most established reputation and unquestionable merit, who desires to be tried by these grave arbiters of the public judgment. He complains, bitterly, that though Southey, his personal and clear friend, as one of the most leading and influential critics for one of the established quarterlies, he,—Coleridge—had never been reviewed in its pages. Here is a man, one of the most distinguished of modem British authors, complaining, not of the want of puffing and praise, but that he cannot, even through the aid of a distinguished and influential friend, obtain a hearing. The courts of justice are shut against him, and he cannot get a decision, either favorable or otherwise. They deny him the rights of a citizen, refuse to listen to his plea; and he lingers at the