Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Page 18

Reviews/Essays | 1849-10
Transcription Important Simms Book Review

The following essay predates Simms's authorship of The Father
Abolitionist(1850) ; and Lowell's abolitionist satire may very well have been
a catalyst in its writing. In his poem, Simms satirizes abolitionist
"fanaticism" and hatred. In many ways, The Father Abolitoinist should
be seen as an answer to A Fable for Critics. The essay appeared in
Southern Quarterly Review, XVI (October 1849), 239-242.

A Fable for Critics, or a glance at a feu) of our literary 2niogenies,
from the tub of Diogen.es; by a Wonderful Quiz. G. P. Putnam,

THE above is only a portion of the fantastic, title page of this slender
volume. It is all that is written in black letter. Alternating \vith the
black inscription are certain litres in red. The two, taken together,
give us a string of doggerel verses, which allc,rd no bad sample of the
contents of the volume. We place, in due relation, the whole title
page, that, the reader may compass it without el~iort;
" Reader! walk up at once (it will soon be too late)
And buy at a perfectly ruinous rate,
A Fable for Critics ; or better—I. like
As a thing that the reader's first fancy may strike,
An old fashioned title page, such as presents,
A tabular view of the volume's contents
A glance at a few of our literary progenies,
(Mrs. Malaprop's word) from the tub of Diogenes
A series of jokes by a Wonderful Quiz,
Who accompanies himself' with a rub-a-dub-dub,
Full of spirit and gracei on the top of the tub.
Set forth in ()etober, the ttvexity-first day,
In the year '48, by G. P. Putnam, Broadway."
The preface, printed as prose, is nevertheless written as the above.,
in rhymes, which are neither better nor worse than the preceding ; and
the strains that follow are woven after a like fashion, showing a painful
industry in the manufacture of ingenious terminations, which, in some
future year of grace, may make us forgetful of Hudibras. The satire
is 'ascribed to James Russell Lowell, of Boston. We are inclined to
doubt the truth of this suspicion. The writings of Lowell have given
us no reason to suppose him guilty of such a production. His poems
are rather thoughtful and sentimental than satirical, and his 'verse
usually has borne no sort of resemblance to that which is before us,
This, however, is quite inconclusive as an objection. A writer of ta-
kilt and facility, such as Lowell is, may readily assume new aspects
and put on new disguises. But it is doubtful whether he would expend
so' much pains-taking and labor on such an object. Not that his satire
lacks either point or merit.. It is sharp and sometimes spicy, playful
and fanciful, amidst much clumsiness and cumbrousness. But the
fable is feeble, the point: not often apparent, and the malice inuch more
conspicuous than the wit. its partialities and prejudices are of a kind
seriously to discredit the claims of a real poet., to whose catholicity an
justice, chiefly, we always look for the essentials of permanent authori-
ty. It is the misfortune of our fabler, that he adopts implicitly the