Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 1: No 1) >> A New Simms Mountain Yarn >> Page 28

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 28

Secondary Scholarship | 1993
Transcription a mountain hunting camp, hearing the humorous narrative of a local
hunter. The hunter, Jake Eigleberger, discourses on his affections for his wife, Sall, and her physical beauty. Jake thinks his "Sall parfection" and "purty," anticipating Sharps Snaffles' portrayal of Merry Ann as a
"beautiful yaller flower of the forest" and Bill Bauldy's description of
Susannah as "the purtiest critter, white gal, in all Lexington Destrict."
The Mercury piece bears elements which characterize the school
of frontier humor. Told in a framework narrative, it establishes a
backwoods setting; employs regional dialect; contains colorfully
expressive, comic language; and features the character of the local hunter. Of note, too, the sketch is related by Simms'"Our Literary Docket"
column persona, "the Judge." The author retains this name for the
educated narrator of "Sharp Snaffles" and "Bald-Head Bill Bauldy." In
all instances, "the Judge" is a serious-minded character of higher social
stature than his subject, a device common to frontier humor works like
George Washington Harris' Sut Lovingood yarns.
The Mercury sketch offers an interesting link between Simms'
1847 hunting trip experiences and their final short story forms in "Sharp
Snaffles" and "Bill Bauldy." Moreover, in the absence of so many of the
writer's notes, the piece lends important insight into the nature of Simms' story developmentā€”in this case, a process lasting nearly twenty years.




I was once out on a camp hunt of two weeks in the great valley of
Nequassee. There I made the acquaintance of Jake Eigleberger, one of the
professional hunters of the region. Jake was not much of a hunter, and
had no patience for it, as I soon discovered, for he would steal off from
the hunt, and if he could get a companion, would relish nothing better
than lying down near some mountain tunnel, and talking of the affairs of
the nation. One night, after we had bagged a good sized brown bear, a
couple of cubs, three deer, and one enormous gobbler, Jake and myself
got into a confabulation on things in general, and Jake's affairs in
particular. I asked him, "how is it that you, who do not like hunting, and are rarely successful, came to be a hunter?" He replied, in all simplicity: "Twas jest only because I loved my wife too much!"
are rarely successful, came to be a hunter?" He replied, in all simplicity: "Twas jest only because I loved my wife too much!""Certainly a most singular reason, Jake.""Twas true, Judge. You see, I was the lovingest husband in all the
world, and I thought my Sall parfection. I jest would set down, and feed
upon her with my eyes all day. Well I got sick; and neither Sall nor me
could tell what was the matter. And I got quite off my feed; and you
28