Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 4: No 2) >> Echoes of the ''Sleepy Hollow'' Courtship in Simms's ''Sharp Snaffles'' >> Page 23

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Secondary Scholarship | 1996
Transcription humbles the Squire, teaching him a valuable lesson. And as in "Sleepy Hollow," the rival suitor is
discredited and the backwoodsman ends up marrying the farmer's daughter. Simms, however,
adds a slight twist to the scenario, having Sam Snaffles attain social respectability and status as
well as economic fortune before doing so.

While the parallels to "Sleepy Hollow" in "Sharp Snaffles" may not seem substantial or
exact enough to claim unequivocally the direct influence of Irving's classic tale, there are sufficient
echoes in Simms's characterization of Sam and Bachelor Grimstead, in his development of the
ensuing conflict between these suitors for the farmer's daughter, and in his handling of the
outcome--to suggest possible connections between the two tales.


1. One of the previously mentioned Southern versions of "Sleepy Hollow," O. B. Mayer's "The
Corn Cob Pipe: A Tale of the Comet of '43," likewise employs the courtship plotline and may
have been read by Simms. Initially published in the Columbia South Carolinian, 8 Dec. 1848,
"The Corn Cob Pipe" went through several revisions and subsequent reprintings, first, in Russell 's
Magazine, May 1858; and then, in the Newberry (S. C.) Herald and News, 28 May, 4 June, and
11 June 1891. Simms who published copiously in Russell 's, which was edited by his friend,
Paul Hamilton Hayne, may have read Mayer's story when it appeared there in 1858. In "The
Corn Cob Pipe" the parents of Susy Elfins, a Dutch Fork farm girl resembling Simms's Merry
Ann Hopson, prefer Isom Jones, an outsider and genteel schoolmaster, over the local manly
ruffian, Abram Priester, as a husband for their daughter. This scenario is somewhat similar to the
courtship in "Sharp Snaffles." In 1848, Simms; Mayer; A. G. Summer, Mayer's kinsman, the
editor of the South Carolinian, and a sometime author of backwoods humorous sketches; and
William Tappan Thompson, one of the better-known Southern frontier humorists of the time, met
in Columbia, South Carolina, for dinner and an evening of tale swapping. On this occasion,
Mayer, in a letter to Paul Hamilton Hayne, 4 Feb. 1886, noted that Simms got the better of
Thompson "by telling a snake story such as I have never heard before. The roar of laughter that
followed the narritive [sic] was long and uproarious."

Works Cited

Blair, Walter. "A German Connection: Raspe's Baron Munchausen." Critical Essays on
American Humor. Ed. William B.Clark and W.Craig Turner. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1984.
Cohen, Hennig and William B. Dillingham. "Introduction." Humor of the Old Southwest. Ed.
Cohen and Dillingham. 3rd ed. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1994, xv-xl.
Davidson, Donald. "Introduction." The Letters of William Gilmore Simms. Ed. Mary C. Simms
Oliphant, Alfred Taylor Odell, and T. C. Duncan Eaves. Vol. 1. Columbia: U of South
Carolina P, 1952. xxx l -lviii.
Kibler, Jr. James E. "Simms's Indebtedness to Folk Tradition in ' Sharp Snaffles'." Southern
Literary Journal 4(1972): 55-68.
Mayer, O. B. Letter to Paul Hamilton Hayne. 4 Feb. 1886. Paul Hamilton Hayne Papers. Special
Collections Library, Duke University, Durham.
Meriwether, James B. "Simms's 'Sharp Snaffles' and 'Bald-Head Bill Bauldy': Two Views of
Men--and of Women." South Carolina Review 16(1984): 66-71.
Oliphant, Mary C. Simms, Alfred Taylor Odell, and T. C. Duncan Eaves. The Letters of William
Gilmore Simms. 6 vols. Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 1952-82.
Parks, Edd Winfield. William Gilmore Simms As Literary Critic. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1961.
Simms, William Gilmore. "How Sharp Snaffles Got His Wife and Capital." The Writings of
William Gilmore Simms: Stories and Tales. Ed. John Caldwell Guilds. Vol 5. Columbia: