Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 9: No 2) >> Simms's Irish: An Address at Hibernian Society Hall, Charleston, South Carolina, 14 January 1999 >> Page 4

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Speech | 2001, 2002
Transcription the knowledge of the Simms family's ownership thereof, and their close
relationship to Neilson.
Simms and Dickson were indeed close acquaintances. The editors of the
Simms Letters, in fact, put it this way: "Simms and Dickson were unusually
congenial friends." Simms dedicated The Yemassee to him in 1835. And now we
thus know that their families also had close ties of friendship in the old country,
and most particularly in that country's fight for freedom.
The same may be said of the Carroll family. The three Carroll brothers
grew up with Simms in "The Neck" area of Charleston. Editors of the Letters
relate that they were sons of Mr. Bat [Bartholomew] Carroll, who came to
Charleston from Northern Ireland. The Carrolls and the Simmses all attended St.
Paul's Episcopal Church in "The Neck." Simms studied law in the office of one of
the brothers, Charles Rivers Carroll, to whom Simms dedicated Guy Rivers in
1835. Carroll was Simms's closest friend as a young man. Besides the profession
of law, they shared the same political aims and interests.
Simms wrote two reviews of Irish histories that dealt with the struggle for
Irish independence. In neither essay, however, does he refer to a Simms who took
part in the movement. In the first, a review of Henry Field's The Irish
Confederates, and the Rebellion of 1798, published in 1851, and reviewed in the
Southern Quarterly Review in October of that year, Simms writes of "the cruel
relation in which [Ireland] stands with England" as being "understood by the
world," though "without a written history." Simms goes on to say that Ireland's
"exiled people are living histories, that chronicle her strifes and sufferings, as
exiles, on every shore in Christendom." For our author, both the Neilsons and
Simmses themselves may have been apt examples of exiles. Simms continues that
these displaced Irish "revenge her cause upon her oppressors, even in exile." Then
Simms uses the Gaelic term of highest loathing for the English: "the hated
Sassenagh." Field's narrative, Simms says, "will show the sort of struggle which
has been going on at home, for the last hundred years;---which still goes on; and
to which there will be a bloody sequel, no doubt, in the progress of future
generations." He thus accurately predicts the Irish Easter Rising of 1916 that led
on to Irish independence and the Irish Free State. Simms notes correctly that the
"successful issue of the American rebellion" influenced the Irish struggle of 1782-
1798. In his History of South Carolina, he also writes that the Irish were the only
emigrant nationality in the colony that backed the patriot cause. Simms notes the
biographies of Irishmen who accomplished important deeds, among them John
Curran (the lawyer who defended Wolfe Tone), Wolfe Tone himself, the Emmets
(also lawyers by profession), "and others.""Several of these," he continues,
emigrated to this country, after the defeat of their objects in Ireland." Simms end
his essay by quoting the poet Edmund Spenser, that the wretchedness and ruin in
Ireland is such as to move "the most stoney heart."
The second review is of John Savage's The Modern Revolutionary History
and Literature of Ireland, an essay which Simms published in the Charleston
Mercury of 17 May 1856. In this short piece, Simms comments that this work
shows "the relations of England with Ireland; of the patriots who have striven to