Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 7: No 1) >> Simms and Major Henry >> Page 5

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Secondary Scholarship | 1999
Transcription southwestern North Carolina in the late summer or the early autumn of 1847
(Guilds, Writings 798-99).4 Still, the humorous yarnspinning that took place on
this and on similar hunting excursions in which Simms participated, storytelling
such as that which is featured in "Bill Bauldy" as well as in "How Sharp Snaffles
Got His Capital and Wife," provided the realistic material for the frame for both
tales as well as some of the subject matter for their main narratives.
Interestingly, in "Bill Bauldy," the authorial narrator introduces Major
Henry as "quite a wit and humourist, and almost as famous, as a raconteur, as he
was, in his professional capacity, as a Lawyer" (468). This description adheres
closely to the real-life Major Henry, whom John Belton O'Neall in Biographical
Sketches of the Bench and Bar of South Carolina describes as "an excellent
lawyer" (525). O'Neal! then goes on to quote the Reverend John G. Landrum, a
close friend of Henry's from Spartanburg, who regarded Henry as a man who
"'deserved, among the literary men of his day, a high rank' (526). Further
noting Henry's literary endeavors, Landrum observes that in the Spartanburg
district Major Henry "'stood at the head of the list; he wrote much for the
newspapers of his day; his "Tales of the Pacolet" (sic), founded in fiction, and
published some thirty years since, were much admired"' (qtd in O'Neall 526).
And "'as an intellectual man,' Landrum further lauds Major Henry as
"'foremost in his district, and among the first in the State. He was a close-
thinker, a forcible reasoner, and remarkable for the ingenuity and dexterity with
which he managed his subject. He possessed a supple ready mind. I should think
he might have been justly styled a genius. With his splendid imagination, and his
sparkling witicisms (sic), he never failed to interest his auditory in his public
addresses, and to delight his friends in the social circle"' (qtd in O'Neall 527). I
his friend Landrum's estimation, Henry should have opted to pursue more fully
his avocation for literature rather than politics. Had he done so, Landrum
predicted that Major Henry "'would have proved himself a better and a greater
man' (qtd in O'Neall 528).
While Judge O'Neall and the Reverend Mr. Landrum are consistently
laudatory about the real-life Major James Edward Henry, the authorial narrator is
not nearly as complimentary in his description of the character of the Major Henry
in "Bill Bauldy." He observes: "But the good things of the wit and humourist,
of a high civilization, and of the purely conventional life of the city, are very apt

3 For more information on Simms's Spartanburg connections, see Coleman 27-31.