Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 7: No 2) >> Some Selected Simms Reviews in the Southern Quarterly Review 1849-1850 >> Page 19

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Reviews/Essays | 1999
Transcription dering, the action distributed over too wide a surface, and the interest
of the reader distracted by. a too frequent interposition of new charac-
ters. We are not able to recal his details. and cannot venture to be
more particular. The present story possesses similar characteristics.
It is marked by a good style and good sense, has some very marked
characters, and considerable action. The events are numerous, and
the actors sufficiently independent of the vulgar restraints of law and
society. But we scarcely sympathize with them. If they have life,
they lack warmth. There is no hearty conviction in our minds that
we are dealing with genuine beings of flesh and blood ; in other
words, we are continually aware of the presence of the novelist, and
this is grievously to the disparagement of the novel. It is perhaps
one of the worst errors which the author has committed ; that he has
so freely employed those extreme characters—those personages so un-
common to the time—so unsuited to the scenes in America persons
warped in manners and modes of thinking from what is usual, by the
ultra conventing of European civilization, as to fill the reader with
continual doubts of their reality. In his preface, he seems to antici-
pate this objection by telling us that " the personages and scenes
which may be out of keeping, are strictly true in their coloring and
spirit." All this may be so, but it matters nothing to him who appeals
to the reader as an artist. He is required to be in keeping, above all
things. This is his great propriety. Careless of this, he must not be
angry if the faith of the reader is reluctant to receive his history.
Had he only ventured on one such extreme instance as Sir Christo-
pher Gardiner, or the Suzerain of Merry Mount, we might have been
more accommodating ; but, we cannot yield credence to a world made
up of these startling personages. Besides, the subordinates are made
to partake too decidedly of the complexion of their superiors, and a
uniform stillishness of character, among the dramatis personae, pro-
duces a sense of weariness and monotony, which, even when the
scene is a bright one, makes us look around with the desire for shade.
The frigidity of our author is at variance with his character, as well
as his scene, and the most brilliant of his passages are impaired by
his coldness. He may shine, but his beams are wasted on the ice-
bergs. Still, this narrative will be read with interest. Several of the
scenes are highly spirited. Some of the persons of the drama, drawn
with spirit and to the life. A brief glimpse of Miles Standish makes
us regret that the author has made no more of him, and Esther
Ludlow is a clever heroine enough,—for a Puritan.

* The Hon. Beverly Tucker, of Virginia, is understood to be the author
of George Balcombe, an American novel published by Harper and Bro-
thers in 1836, and one (f the most truly American, and one of the very
best ever published in the country. It would be difficult, perhaps, to find
a single New-England press which had ever accorded the slightest ac-
knowledgment to this publicatioa, or a single New-England citizen who
had ever read it. It lacked the necessary imprimatur from the banks of
the Charles. The saline flavor from the Plymouth rock, would have se-
cured for it a thousand paeans.

(April 1849), pp. 260-261.