Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 7: No 1) >> Simms and Major Henry >> Page 9

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Page 9

Secondary Scholarship | 1999
Transcription Letters, 2: 378). Simons and Simms, among other South Carolinians of like mind,
hoped to establish a new political party in the state, a States Rights Republican
Party (Wakelyn 147-48). This letter, as the earlier letter by Hammond examined,
strongly implies not only that Simms had kept himself fully informed of the
political situation in South Carolina but also that Henry was, at this time, not in
the same political camp as Hammond and Simms. In any case, both letters make
clear, I feel, that Simms in 1847 did not support the politics of James Edward
Henry.
There is yet one other reference to Henry in Simms's published
correspondence, a letter to Sarah Lawrence Drew Griffin, of Macon, Georgia, the
editor of the Family Companion and Ladies Mirror (the name of the magazine
changed to Family Mirror in April of 1842) between October 1841 and February
1843 (see note Letters, 6: 39). While this letter, dated 29 September 1841, has
nothing to say about Henry's politics, as the two letters to Hammond written in
1847 did, Simms does correct Sarah Griffin's erroneous notion concerning the
identity of the author of Tales of the Packolette: the "writer of the Pacolette [sic
papers is not a Mr. Porter, but a Col. Henry of Spartanburg. I really forget his
Christian name & address, but will endeavor to procure and send them to you"
(Letters 6: 39). In all likelihood, Simms had read some of Henry's Packolette
Papers, even though he was not yet editor of the Magnolia. Whether Simms ever
sent Mrs. Griffin Major Henry's full name and address is not known. Nor do we
know if Simms actively exercised his literary influence to promote Henry as a
writer and potential contributor to Mrs. Griffin's magazines. What we do know,
however, is that Henry did publish anonymously, under the signature "By The
Author of `The Tales of the Pacolette,"' a humorous sketch in Griffin's Family
Companion and Ladies Mirror, titled "A Saturday Night's Stroll Through the
Market," in the 11 April 1842 issue of the magazine.5 This story, which I
consider better than most of the pieces that comprise Tales of the Pacolette,
features a fun-loving, likable prankster named Jack Walthong who comes to the
Charleston marketplace on a Saturday night. And in looking for a little fun, he
proceeds to dupe several unsuspecting persons through a series of well calculated
tricks. While the mode of "A Saturday Night's Stroll Through the Market" is
humorous, this sketch, like most of Henry's comical pieces in Tales of the



5 See the Family Companion and Ladies Mirror, 30-33, for the complete text of
Henry's sketch.