Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 1: No 1) >> A Visit to Woodlands, 1852 >> Page 11

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Page 11

Travel Writings | 1852[?], 1857
Transcription "Tis a wild spot, and hath a gloomy look;
The bird sings never merrily in the trees,
And the young leaves seem blighted. A rank growth
Spreads poisonously round, with power to taint,
With blistering dews, the thoughtless hand that dares
To penetrate the covert. Cypresses
Crowd on the dark, wet earth; and stretched at length,
The cayman--a fit dweller in such home--
Slumbers, half buried in the sedgy grass,
Beside the green ooze where he shelters him.
A whooping crane erects his skeleton form,
And shrieks in flight. Two summer ducks aroused
To apprehension, as they hear his cry,
Dash up from the lagoon, with marvellous haste,
Following his guidance. Meetly taught by these,
And startled by our rapid, near approach,
The steel jawed monster, from his grassy bed,
Crawls slowly to his slimy, green abode,
Which straight receives him. You behold him now,
His ridgy back uprising as he speeds,
In silence, to the centre of the stream,
Whence his head peers alone."

Rambling, once upon a time, through the negro quarters of Mr. Simms'
plantation, we amused ourself in studying the varied characters of the slaves, as
shown in the style of their cabins, the order in which they kept them, the taste
displayed in their gardens, etc.; for every man has all the material and time at hi
command to make himself and his family as comfortable as he pleases. The huts
of some bore as happy an air as one might desire; neat pailings enclosed them; the
gardens were full of flowers, and blooming vines clambered over the doors and
windows. Others, again, had been suffered by the idle occupants to fall into sad
decay: no evidence of taste or industry was to be seen in their hingeless doors,
their fallen fences, or weed-grown gardens. These lazy fellows were accustomed
even to cut down the shade-trees, which had been kindly planted before their
homes, rather than walk a few yards further for other and even better fuel. The
more industrious of the negroes here, as elsewhere, employ their leisure hours,
which are abundant, in the culture of vegetables and in raising fowls, which they
sell to their masters, and thus supply themselves with the means to purchase many
little luxuries of life. For necessaries they have no concern, since they are amply
and generously provided with all which they can require. Others who will not
work for their pin-money, are dependent upon the kindness of their masters, or
more frequently upon their ingenuity at thieving. Many of them sell to their
masters in the morning the produce they have stolen from him the previous night.
At least, they all manage to keep their purses filled; and we were assured that not
one, had he occasion or desire to visit Charleston or Augusta, but could readily
produce the means to defray his expenses. One old woman was pointed out to us,
who had several times left the plantation with permission to remain away as long
as she pleased; yet, although her absences were sometimes of long continuance,