The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.
§ 13. Guy Rivers; The Yemassee
Guy Rivers, a conventional piece as regards the love affair which makes a part of the plot, is a tale of deadly strife between the laws of Georgia and a fiendish bandit. A born story-teller, like Cooper, Simms was as heedless as Cooper of structure and less careful as to style, but he was too rapid to be dull and he revealed to the reading world a new adventurous frontier. In The Yemassee his concern for the history of South Carolina bore fruit, a moving tale of the Yemassee War of 1715. This book is to the famous Revolutionary group what The Spy is to the Leather-Stocking tales, a romance standing somewhat by itself at the beginning of the author’s career and yet quite the equal of any of the most representative volumes. Once again Simms took hints from current romances, but when he set himself to describing the rich landscape of South Carolina or to recounting its annals he was more fully master of his material than in Guy Rivers and more admirable in proportion as his subject was more congenial to him. He gave his Indians the dignity and courage which, he said, they must have had at an earlier period; he invented for them a mythology. The white and black characters have somewhat less heroic dimensions, but they are done with great vigour and some realism.