Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 1: No 1) >> A Visit to Woodlands, 1852 >> Page 10

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Travel Writings | 1852[?], 1857
Transcription thoughts intent, we will pay him a flying visit, not doubting of our welcome.
Yonder, in that wide and spreading lawn, stands our author's mansion--an old-
fashioned brick structure, with massive and strange portico. The ranks of orange-
trees and live oak which sentinel his castle, are the objects of his tenderest care-
true and ardent lover of nature that he is. Mr. Simms has a particular fondness for
the especial grape-vine, depending in such fantastic and numberless festoons from
the limbs of yon venerable tree. He has immortalized it in his song; and, as it is
a good specimen of its class--a class numerous in the South--we will pay it an
humble tribute in our prose. It is strong-limbed as a giant--and, but for the grace
with which it clings to the old forest-king, would seem to be rather struggling with
him for his sceptre, than loyally and lovingly suing for his protection. The vine
drops its festoons, one beneath the other, in such a manner that half a dozen
persons may find a cozy seat, each over his fellow, for a merry swing. On a
dreamy summer eve, you may vacillate, in these rustic couches, to your heart's
content; one arm thrown round the vine will secure you in your seat, while the
hand may hold the favorite book, and the other pluck the delicious clusters of
grapes, which, as you swing, encircle your head like the wreath upon the brow of
Bacchus. If the rays of the setting sun be hot, then the rich and impenetrable
canopy of foliage above you will not prove ungrateful.
A stroll over Mr. Simms' plantation will give you a pleasant inkling of
almost every feature of the Southern lowlands, in natural scenery, social life, and
the character and position of the slave population. You may sleep sweetly and
soundly within his hospitable walls, secure of a happy day on the morrow,
whether the rain holds you prisoner within doors, or the glad sunsine drags you
abroad. He will give you a true Southern breakfast, at a very comfortable hour,
and then furnish you abundant sources of amusement in his well-stocked library,
or suffer you to seek it elsewhere, as your fancy listeth. At dinner, you shall not
lack good cheer, for either the physical or the intellectual man, and then you may
take a pleasant stroll to the quiet banks of the Edisto--watch the raft-men floating
lazily down the stream, and interpret as you will the windings and echoes of their
boat-horns--or you may muse in the shaded bowers of Turtle Cove, or either of
the many other inlets and bayous of the stream. Go where you may, you must not
fail to peep into the dark and solemn swamps. You may traverse their waters, on
wild bridges of decayed and fallen trees; you may dream of knight and
troubadour, as your eye wanders through the gothic passages of cypress,
interlacing their branches, and bearing the ever-dependent moss, which hangs
mournfully, as if weeping over the desolation and death which brood within the
fatal precincts. If you fear not to startle the wild-fowl, to disturb the serpent, o
to encounter the alligator, you may enter your skiff, and, sailing through the
openings in the base of the cypress, you may penetrate at pleasure, amidst bush
and brake, into the mystic chambers of these poisonous halls. Mr. Simms has
beautifully described these solemn scenes in his "Southern Passages and Pictures:"