Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 17: Nos 1-2) >> Simms's Romantic Vision as Shown in His Critical Writings >> Page 80

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Secondary Scholarship | 2009
Transcription 80 THE SIMMS REVIEW

sweetness,""grave delicacy," and "philosophical simplicity" ("Art. XI"
540), and described his "Lucy Poems" as his most beautiful achieve-
ments an assessment very much in line with critical opinion today.
For Simms, Wordsworth's most remarkable strength lay in his
descriptions of scenery that he then associated with the moral, linking the
internal with the external. He did not think Wordsworth a deeply philo-
sophical poet: although he deemed him thoughtful, Simms found that
"his reflections are not the results of laborious reasoning, but the sugges-
tions of a meditative genius." Compared to Wordsworth, Coleridge had
"a richer and more inventive mind, a larger range of knowledge, quicker
affections, and a more fiery enthusiasm." Still, Wordsworth had left more
literary monuments to document his genius, and Simms rightly predicted
that it would be many years before a successor would combine so many
excellent qualities in his work ("Art. I" 19, 23).
When comparing English poet-laureate Robert Southey to
Wordsworth or Coleridge, Simms found Southey to be the lesser poet,
both in beauty and in elevation of thought ("Art. I" 23). Worse, Simms
viewed Southey's conservative partisanship a grave "error of his judg-
ment." Still, in a late review in the Charleston Courier, Simms honored
Southey for his truthfulness, moral steadfastness, and poetic mastery,
although he conceded that Southey's "grand and grotesque creations"
would have been more appreciated by the public had he not faced the
competition of Byron, Scott, Wordsworth, and Keats during his life
("Robert Southey's Works" 2).2 Simms considered William Cowper an
equally gifted poet, but ranked him below Wordsworth, since he consid-
ered his poetry to be merely moral. He liked Cowper for his imagina-
tive faculty, his mental independence, as well as for his humor, and he
deplored that his achievements were underrated by English and American
critics. It was furthermore Cowper's destiny to begin "a very great liter-
ary revolution," namely saving English poetry from "the sway of French
taste and authority in letters" ("Art. X" 535) so prevalent at the begin-
ning of Cowper's career. In striking against this "false and meretricious
school, borrowed from France and Italy" ("Art. XII" 260), Cowper paved
the way for Wordsworth, in Simms's view, who would then determine the
school of early nineteenth century poetry.
Another ground-breaking poet to Simms was Alexander Pope.
In a review of a new edition of Pope's poetry, Simms remarked that he
found him lacking in spiritual or intensely emotional matters, but he