Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 1: No 1) >> Simms the Gardener: Reconstructing the Gardens at Woodlands >> Page 23

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 23

Secondary Scholarship | 1993
Transcription elevate our genius even as they conciliate our affection." Perhaps, he says, in
viewing a particular flower, "what a crowd of human associations" comes to mind,
and you recall events from the past, of "human forms and faces" that once again
"gather beside you." For "flower and the fancy together, have done their work!
The loving and the loftier moods are active within you. Your soul becomes lifted--
your heart softened, and you feel--God grant that you do feel--that you are a better
man ,that day!"
Here ends Simms' last speech the month before his death. That he "had
always been a lover of flowers" gives only a partial truth that is far from covering
the situation here. That his love of the "flower" had moral and philosophical
implications that grew to a central place in his thinking, especially in his last year
when his own physical, literal flowers were blasted, is a point worth strong
emphasis. Nature's beauty, in the words of his poem "Religious Musings" (1844),
thus becomes "a Jacob's Ladder" which "lifts the soul" from "wonder into
As most gardeners and farmers know, both undertakings require patience,
trust, and infinite hope. Simms, the good gardener and planter, had these traits of
character in abundance, and no doubt had them the stronger for his ties to the soil,
a primary source of Southern wisdom.
The good farmer and gardener, Simms wrote in his 1841 essay, stand

in the sight of God, in a three-fold aspect. As a subject of his
power and his bounty--dependent upon his indulgence, and
commanded by his laws--as the citizens of a community, variously
composed, but of creatures having' alike nature with himself,
governed by like necessities and supplied by like weaknesses--and
as an individual man, having a duty to himself not inferior to any
of the rest, and, under the guidance of just laws of reflection,
happily harmonizing with all their requisitions. In his first
relation, the Good Farmer will seek to know, and endeavor to
perform, all the obligations of religion. The first of these is labor,
that being the first law ever delivered by the Deity to expatriated
man. He will know, that, without industry, all his prayers and
painstaking, all his gifts to the church, and all his forbearances to
his fellow, will still leave incomplete those performances which the
Divine decree has pronounced to be essential. He will avoid all
immoral contact and drive evil passions from his thoughts. For
these, indeed, there will be little or no room in the heart of one
who prosecutes his daily duties with energy and soul. Such a man
seldom departs from his estate, and only in compliance with the
requisitions of society and the laws. No foreign attractions can
beguile him from those fields, which through long cultivation, he