Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 7: No 1) >> William Gilmore Simms and John Donald Wade >> Page 21

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Page 21

Secondary Scholarship | 1999
Transcription Among the earliest items in the collection there are two notebooks from
the period when Wade, who earned the Ph.D. in 1924, was a doctoral student at
Columbia University. A label on the front cover of one of these, now browned
with age, says "Synopses November 1915 / John Wade / American Prose Vol. 1."
Clearly, the volume represents the private notes Wade kept for himself as he rea
novels and other literature, in all likelihood for an American Literature course
taught at that time by Carl Van Doren.
In this little notebook there are three pages of notes Wade wrote while
reading Simms' The Yemassee and three pages on his reading of Woodcraft.' For
The Yemassee, Wade lists the principal characters involved in the plot:
Gabriel Harrison
(Gov. Chas. Craven) = Bess Matthews Sanutee = Matiwan
Walter Grayson
Hugh Grayson
Parson Matthews = Mrs Matthews
Hector (Harrisons slave)
Dugdale (Harrisons blood hound)
Concerning Gabriel Harrison and Walter Grayson, Wade notes, "Both of these
men are in love with Bess, the former honestly, the other honestly or otherwise.
He then records this extensive summary of the novel's plot:
Governor Craven, in disguise, is in the interior of S.C.
investigating the discontent and pending insurrection of the
Indians. He is courting Bess Matthews, who returns his love, but
is discouraged in this by her father, that gentleman preferring
another lover, Hugh Grayson. The Indians are encouraged to
insurrection by Charley, an English-born agent of the St Augustine
Spaniards; he is present with a boatload of ammunition. Nearly all
the chiefs are for continuing friendly relations with the English,
save Sanutee, whose patriotism is not deluded by presents of
colored glass etc. Sanutee's son Occonestoga has taken to drink,
with which the old Chief blames the whites. On Occ's declaring
for the English, he is disinherited, and later, after being used
opportunely by Simms to free Bess Matthews from the rattlesnake,
is suffered to be taken off. Out of this man, Simms gets two other
good situations: one when he is concealed by his devoted mother
under the bear skins, and is about to be discovered there by his
father; the other when he is about to have the tribal brand cut away
from his arm, and his mother rushes in, killing him aforetime, in
order that he may not be eternally shut out of Elysium. The book
is a fast string of hairbreadth adventures. The adventure of Bess

3Concerning her father's sentiments for this novel, Anne Wade Rittenberry said
recently: "JDW was indeed interested in Simms; I remember how he tried and
tried to get me to read The Yemassee . . . (personal communication, February 24,