Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 17: Nos 1-2) >> The Significance of Simms's First Long Poem >> Page 14

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Secondary Scholarship | 2009
Transcription 14 THE SIMMS REVIEW

the question of the reception of the Monody, misdating the issue of the
Courier in which the review appeared (lxvi). The Courier notice is worth
more comment than it received from either Trent or Salley. The reviewer
writes:
There are indications of talent in this little poem, which
deserve to be fostered by a generous public. The versifi-
cation is smooth and correct, the diction is uncommonly
pure, and the poetry, at times, of no inferior order. The
principal fault in this, and other well-executed pieces, (if
we mistake not) by the same hand, is an occasional dim-
ness in the outline of the author's conceptions. He might
now with advantage study Pope, Goldsmith, Johnson,
and other writers, of what may be called the rational
school of poetry, having, we should think, too exclusive-
ly read the modern poets of the imaginative school. (2)
This is a very proper review for a newspaper to accord such a work of so
young a poet. Clearly, its author was concerned to praise where he could
find something to praise, but was also concerned that the poet be aware
of the need for growth. The reviewer was correct that Simms was still in
need of rigorous discipline and thus needed to apprentice himself to the
best masters if he were to avoid such faults as dimness of overall concep-
tion and the imaginative flights that might lead to loss of precision. The
first notice of Simms's first work in his native city was therefore sympa-
thetic, perceptive, encouraging, and just.
One reason that Monody has been so little known is that it
was lost among the veritable avalanche of other tributes to Pinckney
that the death of this great soldier, statesman, and diplomat elicited.
Contemporary accounts give the impression that most of Charleston was
in mourning for the thirty days that followed his demise. The American
Revolutionary Society of Charleston in a meeting held 20 August 1825
adopted the report of a committee and published its own tribute in the
city's newspapers. On August 21, the Vestry of St. Philip's Church, after
the funeral discourse delivered by the Reverend Christopher Gadsden,
appointed a committee to prepare a preamble and resolutions which were
subsequently published, as was Gadsden's funeral oration. On August 22,
the South Carolina Agriculture Society adopted a discourse and resolu-
tions as a memorial tribute, which they published. The Charleston Library
Society adopted and published a memorial report. The Bible Society of