Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 16: No 1) >> ''Woodlands'' Essay from 1955 >> Page 37

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Page 37

Reviews/Essays | [1955]
Transcription description of the fire, which destroyed the first house, show the
incorrectness of that statement. The well-established fact that Simms left
"Woodlands" a day or two before Sherman's army arrived and reached
Columbia before the railroads were destroyed simply disproves the claim he
appealed to these officers to save his library at "Woodlands."
After the war another house was built at "Woodlands," but its
owners have not occupied it in some time. The history of "Woodlands"
exemplifies these words of Owen Wister: "Thus the work of the old days
remains visible; emancipation has by no means obliterated; emancipation has
merely brought to a close the old days themselves, without new; it is time
that gently and silently and slowly is strewing its leaves upon that ended

Mary C. Simms Oliphant & Donald Davidson

Mrs Oliphant wrote the poet Donald Davidson, author of the introduction
to the Simms Letters. on 30 October 1951, encouraging him on his way in
writing a biography of Simms:

....I refuse to recognize a materialistic Fate which would deny the man so
cognizant of the one precious wand the South has to wave—"knowledge
carried to the heart"—the role of exemplifying in Simms a chief spirit in
making such a South. Let's not kowtow to this kind of Fate....In Simms we
may present to the world a southern civilization in an entirety possible
perhaps in no other life... Simms... to whom good and evil were expectedly
present and the author was not impelled to play God in a social scientized
world, who was part of a society in which a girl could and did, and does
still, attend the St Cecilia in a cheap white lawn, unembarrassed by
brocades and rose point. What other man might be pictured as Van Wyck
Brooks does, though he knows him shallowly, as the personification of those
qualities which make one love the South.

And again on 1 January 1953:

...Your poems have set a high mark of my Christmas. And your
autographed message is an injection to spur me to try for something
creative myself. Time is ruthlessly mowing me down, and, pretty soon, if
I don't hurtle along with it, I'll be whispering wretchedly "I never did th
things I most wanted to do!" To spend my life in (first) simple recording,
even though I have salved my frettings with the hope that the infusion of
my own overweening enthusiasm for the story might instill valid pride in
home in thousands upon thousands and perhaps in generations of future
citizens of my state and (second) in picking out for posterity, with such
passion, the figure of Simms and his generation, is not all I want.