Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 1: No 2) >> John Esten Cooke's Sketch of Simms >> Page 38

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Page 38

Reviews/Essays | 1858 - 1859
Transcription 38

Soto in Florida ; " The Wigwam and the history of South Carolina, and with border
Cabin," a collection of tales ; " Castle Dis- character and adventure in the Western
mal: or the Bachelor's Christmas ;""Marie and Southwestern States. Mr. Simms dis-
de Berniere : a Tale of the Crescent City ;" plays great vigor, fertility of fancy, and
" The Golden Christmas : a Chronicle of dramatic power. Tho fresh life of the
St. John's Berkeley ;"" Southward Ho !" woods, the humors and passions of a new
and " The Cassique of Kiawah." In his- country, the working of the under and
tory, Mr. Simms has written a " History more terrible instincts of the human mind ;
of South Carolina in the Revolution," and all these are portrayed with a gusto and
many elaborate articles upon the part animation which lead the reader a willing
taken by the South in the Revolution. In captive to the end of the volume. Not
biography, lives of " Francis Marion," less picturesque, vivid, and striking, are
General Greene,"" Captain Smith," the his " Michael Bonham : or the Fall of the
Chevalier Bayard," etc. On other and Alamo,'' and other dramas : but, in this
miscellaneous subjects, the author has pub- department, his " Norman Maurice : or the
lished " The Book of My Lady :"" Views Man of the People," is by far his finest
and Reviews of American History, Litera- production. We have no hesitation in de-
tiire, and Art ;"" Father Abbot: or the claring it the most vigorous drama yet
IIomne Tourist ;" Egeria : or Voices of written in America. It extracts from the
Thought and Counsel for the Woods and life of the nineteenth century, and the
Wayside ;" and a volume entitled " The America of to-day, that powerful human
Pro-Slavery Argument." Among his interest which the Elizabethan dramatists
most vigorous contributions to the reviews drew from the sixteenth century, and the
wore a series of papers upon international England of that time. The passion of the
copyright, which strongly advocated that drama is stern, broad-based, and vehement.
scheme. In 1848, he published an edition Norman Maurice, the hero, is an original
of the seven dramas attributed to Shaks- creation, due to no preceding author, and
peare, with notes and an introduction to unattainable from the study of books. IIe
each play. In addition to these numerous is one of those human beings who mould
literary works, Mr. Simms has produced their own fates, and defy all that opposes
a number of lectures, addresses, and ora- them.
tions, which have been greatly admired. " The Cassique of Accabee," and other
Among these were : " The Social Princi- poems of Mr. Simms, are full of an ima-
ple the True Secret of National Perma- ginative beauty and freshness which few
nence ;"" The True Sources of American American writers approach. We regret
Independence ;"" Self- Development ;" that the extent which our paper has
" The Battle of Fort Moultrie ;"" On Poe- reached renders a detailed criticism of
try and the Practical ; and " On the Moral these pieces impossible. They will always
Character of Hamlet." hold a high rank among the narrative-
In a paper so limited as the one which lyrical poetry of the country ; and, though
we now write, any extended comment upon they must yield to the more metaphysical
these numerous and elaborate works, in and ideal 1 creations, " Atalantis," and other
departments so varied, interesting, and poems in the same department, substan-
suggestive, is entirely impossible. We tiate the author's claim to the possession
must content ourselves with a few notes of of the higher imagination.
what has been the result of a somewhat The career of Mr. Shams has been on-
careful reading of very many of these vol- ward and upward, from the moment when
umes. ho embarked in letters. At fifty-three his
In his romances dealing with the earlier imagination is as active and fertile as at