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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 66

history, as in Pelayo (1838), The Damsel of Darien (1839), Count Julian (1845), and Vasconselos (1853). Even more than Cooper he lacked judgment as to the true province of his art; like Cooper, he constantly turned aside to put his pen to the service of the distracted times through which he was fated to live. As the agitation which led to civil war grew more heated, he plunged into stormy apologetics for the grounds and virtues of slavery, as passionately tory as Dr. Johnson or Sir Walter Scott. Just on the eve of the struggle Simms repeated the success of The Yemassee with a romance of seventeenth-century Carolina, The Cassique of Kiawah (1859), a stirring, varied story which, though generally neglected, must be ranked with his best books. The war ruined and broke him, and though he wrote stoutly on till his death in 1870 he never regained his earlier powers or his earlier prestige.
  Robert Montgomery Bird of Delaware, in his Mexican romances recalling Irving and in his novels of New Jersey and Pennsylvania nearer to Cooper, has survived solely—and that but dimly—as the author of Nick of the Woods (1837), a powerful and exciting tale of the Kentucky frontier in 1782, wherein he attempted to correct Cooper’s heroic drawing of the Indian by presenting him as a fierce and filthy savage utterly undeserving of sentimental sympathy. The book celebrates a type of character often spoken of in border annals, the white man who, crazed by Indian atrocities, gave his whole life to a career of ruthless vengeance. As critical a disposition as Bird’s rarely appeared outside of Cooper, but it appeared in The Partisan Leader (1836) by Judge Nathaniel Beverley Tucker of Virginia, a novel which was made the vehicle



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