Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Witness to ReconstructionConstance Fenimore Woolson and the Postbellum South, 1873-1894$

Kathleen Diffley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781617030253

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617030253.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of
Subscriber: null; date: 20 June 2018

Cypresses, Chameleons, and Snakes

Cypresses, Chameleons, and Snakes

Displacement in Woolson’s “The South Devil”

Chapter:
(p.194) Cypresses, Chameleons, and Snakes
Source:
Witness to Reconstruction
Author(s):

Kathleen Diffley

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781617030253.003.0012

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents a reading of Woolson’s “The South Devil” (1880), a story of a Florida swamp by that name. It suggests that “The South Devil” investigates differing paradigms for national reform and multiple postwar ways of seeing what is literally beneath the surface.

Keywords:   Constance Fenimore Woolson, Florida swamp, national reform

Shortly after the sun-drenched opening of “The South Devil” (1880), Woolson’s story of a Florida swamp by that name, musician Carl Brenner takes a plummeting fall. Despite the warning of his stepbrother at work in the nearby orange grove, he has been trying to catch the elusive spirit of the swamp that he hears as song, particularly after climbing to the forest’s treetop canopy and a riotous beauty that the steady Mark Deal never sees. Carl and Mark are happenstance brothers: their widowed parents have just married in Pennsylvania and Mark has taken in hand the consumptive Carl, an itinerant musician whose health is as broken as Mark’s heart. They both need to recuperate. When Mark first proposed to Carl’s cousin and was rejected, he went north on an expedition to the Arctic; upon his return, he proposed again, was again rejected, and took Carl south to Florida and an abandoned postwar plantation. Woolson’s story opens as Mark tries to reconstruct the home he hankered for in the company of the invalid Carl, whose face carries the recollection of his cousin Leeza. But while Mark labors among the oranges, Carl is haunted by the South Devil’s unwritten song and he climbs a ladder of vines to the lofty canopy, where he falls asleep.

His is what Fred Lewis Pattee has called the “lotos eaters’ Florida,” where the cypress swamp becomes the site of beauty’s lure.1 Up among the “great red blossoms swinging in the air” (178), Carl hears the recurring song because he has the “divine gift” of tracing harmonies, what Woolson calls “the gift which is the nearest to heaven” (187). While Mark spends hours tending his investment, Carl gives way to miasmic summons, an aesthetic surrender that David Miller describes in Dark Eden as “a dangerous but also an exhilarating and self-renewing experience.”2 For Woolson, as Sharon Dean has observed, the swamp’s appeal lies in what only Carl recognizes: “the aloneness and mystery and threat that is the lot of the artist.”3 Of course the South that seduces him also puts him to sleep, and the ethereal heights (p.195) he reaches can then be guessed by the distance he falls. If “The South Devil” is Carl Brenner’s story, as most scholars believe, it is because he burns (as his German name suggests) with a consumptive’s fever that becomes an artist’s transcendent joy.

But his rude fall leaves Carl stranded, a Northern interloper unable to move until he is rescued by his prosaic stepbrother. From Mark Deal’s perspective, the swamp is less Edenic than evil, its red blossoms not semi-tropical blue gentians but screens for venomous predators. The first thing he does upon finding Carl is to kill a snake, the beginning of a very different reading of the Southern swamp as historically charged. The swollen cypresses Mark sees initially suggest the postwar logging opportunities in northern Florida, where he has come to plant orange seedlings at an abandoned sugar and indigo plantation. Like him, other Northerners would shortly arrive in growing numbers—some to recover their health, others to linger in winter warmth, and still others to speculate in the Florida futures that Mark works to ensure. From the story’s opening on December 23, he stands in for Northern vigor, what Karen Weekes glosses as the “thrift, industry, and pragmatism” that will rescue the “indigent” South.4 For such sojourners, postwar Florida was not an airy preserve but a place in flux, mobile and regenerative, like the ancient cypresses that wear their roots as exotic “knees.” If“The South Devil” is Mark Deal’s story, as I propose, it is because he is his stepbrother’s keeper and he deals with the aftermath of Carl’s fall into time and place, specifically into the Florida swamp as a postlapsarian world of opportunity and trespass.

Significantly, Woolson’s swamp can be traced to a part of the South that was simultaneously ancient and heterogenous. As Victoria Brehm and Sharon Dean have observed, “The South Devil” is almost certainly set in the swampy terrain south of St. Augustine.5 Founded in 1565 and thus the oldest continuous European settlement in North America, the city already traced a history under the Spanish, the British, and the Americans that had left behind remarkably mixed populations. Where other parts of the South were socially stratified and politically conservative, northern Florida was at once steeped in the past like the rooted cypresses and yet chameleonic, home to Woolson’s “dead hidalgos,” Seminole fugitives, recent freedpeople, imported Minorcans, and mixed-blood hunters. In “The South Devil,” I argue, the paradox of roots afloat and of age in the midst of social change, of cypresses and chameleons, proves expensive for self-absorbed interlopers, which a recently arrived musician and an industrious planter will soon find out. What is more, Northerners who have moved into someone else’s home like Mark are wary of a third swamp thing: water moccasins, which in Woolson’s story let loose both the horror and the power of postwar itinerancy as well as the South’s imagined venom for Northern intruders.

And yet Carl’s venture into the swamp’s maze and his subsequent fall prove fortunate, which Woolson would underline by adding a headnote to her story when (p.196) she collected “The South Devil” with her other Southern sketches. Pausing on those lines and on her deliberate tinkering with the assumed invitation of the picturesque, whose recognizable visual codes drew armchair tourists so easily to the defeated South and draw Carl so effortlessly to the exotic swamp, reveals an unsuspected and alternative model for a reconstructing nation. As Woolson’s readers eventually discover in the canoe that carries Mark back to Leeza and a Northern reunion, which Carl arranges before his consumption proves fatal, Florida’s unusual terrain frustrates imposed progress along ready paths but insinuates an equally unusual social substitute. When Mark makes his way with his brother’s body through the dark beauty he has disdained, his canoe repeatedly bumps against aquatic plants that migrate, plants that carry their snaky roots with them in clumps. More than the seedlings that Mark abandons or Carl’s harmonies that slip away, those clumps metaphorically dislodge the zeal of imperial trespass and substitute the opportunity for mobile congregation, just when displaced Northerners were beginning to clog Southern channels and to suggest a newly disparate social order. Starting with Mark’s devotion to Southern dirt and Carl’s appreciation of Southern color, then, “The South Devil” investigates differing paradigms for national reform and mul-tiple postwar ways of seeing, especially seeing what is literally beneath the surface.

What neither Mark nor Carl generally sees, strikingly, is Southerners. In this particular story of Reconstruction, every principal character arrives from the North. Mark comes to make his fortune in Florida oranges, as he tries to warm a frozen heart. Carl hopes to regain his health in the Florida sun and to write at last the music he hears again in the swamp’s “fairy-land” (178). Carl’s friend Schwartz simply follows the migrating Northerners and their money, a card sharp’s main game. While Carl may be intent on harmonies, what he actually delivers in “The South Devil” is this slippery friend, who fills him with liquor and steals all the hidden money a diligent Mark has saved. As Woolson puts it, the villainous Schwartz was “borne southward on the tide of winter travel to Florida” (184), and it is Northern travelers who become his chief focus and Woolson’s own. In this story, it is not an adaptable South that interests Woolson so much as an adaptable North, whose regional practices are tied to covert theft as well as industrious thrift.

For that reason, it is a matter of some moment that “The South Devil” was published in Boston’s Atlantic Monthly and then collected in Woolson’s Rodman the Keeper: Southern Sketches (1880) after Reconstruction officially ended. By then, northern Florida was fast becoming what Steven Noll has called both “tourist attraction” and “resource to be exploited.”6 But the story is set, as Woolson explains, some fifty years after the First Seminole War (1816–1818) and thus closer to the late 1860s and a different national crossroads. During the years immediately following the Civil War, the Atlantic Monthly’s title page carried an engraving of Old Glory adorned with a liberty cap, which was meant to recall the periodical’s antislavery (p.197) origins in 1857 and the “Yankee humanism” that Ellery Sedgwick has seen successive editors purveying.7 The late 1860s also witnessed concerted debate, in periodicals as well as in Congress, about three Constitutional amendments that would permanently abolish slavery and extend the civil rights that the Atlantic Monthly had long championed. “The fundamental and unanswerable argument in favor of the enfranchisement of the negro is found in the undisputed fact of his manhood,” wrote Frederick Douglass in the magazine’s pages during 1867.8 Situating “The South Devil” in the midst of radical amendments, which occupied and reconstructing states like Florida would need to ratify, meant choosing a moment in which a new social order was beginning to coalesce.

For the Atlantic Monthly and its fellow travelers, casting the postwar South and especially Florida as the staging ground for Northern projects was not unusual, as Woolson had already discovered. In 1873, the year she arrived in St. Augustine, Harriet Beecher Stowe published a collection of Florida sketches from New York’s Christian Union as Palmetto-Leaves, a book steeped in the “glorious, bewildering impropriety” of a front-yard swamp but engaged in turning that sense of liberation to the historic advantage of freedpeople.9 As John T. Foster and Sarah Whitmer Foster have pointed out, the aim of Stowe and her extended family during their own protracted Florida sojourn between 1867 and 1884 was considerably more ambitious than the multiracial church, school, and orphanage they built near Stowe’s home in Mandarin.“At the heart of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s thoughts about living in the South,” the Fosters write, “lay a desire to participate in its transformation into a progressive place.”10 To that end, her letters to the Christian Union during the early 1870s were strategically designed, the Fosters argue, to promote travel, encourage emigration, and tilt the state’s voting majority on behalf of newly free citizens. Stowe’s political agenda failed as Reconstruction waned, but her willingness to imagine Florida as a Northern borderland circulated as purposefully in genteel periodicals as Northern capital (and Northern card sharps) circulated up and down the Southern state.

Woolson provides a hint of social difference and Stowe’s larger Reconstructive projects in the only Southerners her story includes: Scipio, the black cook who “knew every inch of the swamp” (188); a “mongrel” hunter “having probably Spanish, African, and Seminole blood” (187) who moves into Mark Deal’s house when the brothers depart; even the Aztec tomb that Carl frequents and the cathedral nuns (silver lamps, tapers, the madonna) who pray over him after he dies. But in the story Woolson tells, they have almost nothing to say and seem instead to be part of the “voicelessness of the conquered and reconstructed South” that Henry James would remark upon when he described Woolson and her work for Harper’s Weekly.11 Rather than pursue their comparative inertia, “The South Devil” examines the Northern preoccupation with exotic refuge, particularly the come-hither that (p.198) picturesque conventions had made familiar and that spreading regionalism would ensconce. The story of Mark Deal and Carl Brenner quietly probes Yankee humanism as a way of seeing and casts postwar liberty as the drama of an itinerant family without roots. For readers of the Atlantic Monthly in particular, Woolson’s fictional compass pointed north, though self-reflectively and by way of newfound brothers who would bring the Florida swamp closer to subscriber front yards.

As though to underline a focus on Northern desire rather than Southern devel-opment, Woolson added a curious headnote when she collected “The South Devil” in her volume of Southern sketches. Taken from Joaquin Miller’s Songs of the Sun-Lands (1873), the epigraph introduces three stanzas from “Isles of the Amazons,” a long poem about the dismay of a war-weary Spanish knight who leaves Europe for a shimmering peace up the Amazon and among the militant women whose queen falls in love. Like Woolson’s description of the swamp Carl enters, Miller’s lines further saturate the story’s opening pages with tropical color, particularly when she recalls Miller’s phantasmagoria in “the trees that lean’d” and the cockatoo that moved “in plumes of gold and array’d in red” as the battered knight begins to sing.12 Another Aeneas on the banks of the Tiber, Miller’s knight turns out to be on the verge of a new empire; the “tall brown Queen” is so undone by love for him that she accepts the end of Amazon rule and crowns the knight king. But the stanzas Woolson selected and rearranged conclude with a disquieting serpent that fondles the white limb of a sycamore. In Miller’s next stanza, which Woolson did not reprint, the knight falters, his song ends, and the serpent opens its “iron jaws.”13 For readers of Rodman the Keeper, especially those familiar with the sensational Miller and the Sun-Lands song his reviewers most often noticed, the appeal of faraway beauty was unmistakable, even before the story’s cypresses with their fitful music, but so were Woolson’s doubts about a frontier Eden.

Lounging on the sand when “The South Devil” opens, Carl Brenner nonetheless thinks he knows the territory, at least as well as Miller’s beloved knight knew the Amazon. Carl can still spot the tall chimneys of the old plantation house, with its occasional outbuildings and the radiating paths that lead, among other places, to the swamp. Of course, the chimneys are ruined, the mansion is a sorry pile of stones thanks to Seminole attack, and the plantation paths have been overrun by jessamine vines. But Mark has restored a usable outbuilding (new board roof, new wooden shutters, new steps, red cotton curtain) and, besides, Carl is as adaptable as the “old green chameleon” that climbs onto his outstretched coat and turns brown. He is also willing to adapt what he finds to his own purposes. For Carl, the black cook Scipio is “Africanus,” the Spanish live oak is a sunshade, and the Spirit of the Swamp is a dark “languorous” woman. From the story’s first scene, he is a newcomer who “basked,”like Woolson’s readers,in the fetching pleasures of white sand, dancing butterflies, and enough “soft, balmy, fragrant air” (174–75) to send the (p.199) thermometer to 88° on Christmas Day. Thanks to Mark’s industry, he has already discovered that it is a short, cleared, and inviting walk to the swamp.

All the more reason to wonder about the exotic tug of the picturesque and the cultural agendas its postwar use could serve, even if Carl eventually chooses not to notice them aloft in the cypresses. For Stowe, book chapters on “A Flowery January in Florida,” “Picnicking up Julington,” and “Swamps and Orange-Trees” were ultimately meant to turn the invitation of paradisial warmth into a heaven on earth for black Americans, and she was not alone in describing Florida’s Reconstructive possibilities, various as they were already proving to be. William Cullen Bryant, who reported on an 1873 visit in three letters to the New York Evening Post, was also preoccupied with “the effects of Freedom on the Negro,” but his political concerns lapsed in the colorful face of alligators, king-fishers, and water-turkeys, as well as Northern invalids and “idlers,” the very consumers of the picturesque that Sidney Lanier, in his turn, hoped to encourage.14 Lanier was commissioned in 1875 by the Atlantic Coast Line Railway to assemble a Florida guidebook, which appeared as Florida: Its Scenery, Climate, and History (1875, 1876, 1877, 1881). Lanier reported that he was asked to write “at once a literary attraction and a statistical thesaurus,” a portable and appealing guide for the tourist trade the railroad wanted to promote.15 What he noticed on his own trip to Florida during the spring of 1875 would have more than a little in common with Carl’s wayward artistry and Woolson’s unsettling pictures.

Like Stowe’s leaves and Bryant’s letters, Lanier’s volume was a sketchbook of sorts and bound to familiar pictorial conventions that railroad travelers would recognize. But his tack as a Southern poet and an accomplished musician—indeed, principal flute with Baltimore’s Peabody Orchestra—was to modulate picturesque directives, as Carl would, with an idiosyncratic impulse. “Lanier’s Florida,” writes Anthony Wilson, “is a place of infinite possibility: emphatically not the economic possibility that industrialists and developers were beginning to perceive and seize but spiritual possibility as an ameliorative to that very drive.”16 With the same kind of imaginative play that draws Carl into Woolson’s swamp, Lanier opens his guidebook by comparing the moment just before particles crystallize, what he calls “the moment of molecular indecisions,” to the contemporary state of popular curiosity about Florida, “which by its very peninsular curve whimsically terminates the United States in an interrogation-point.”17 Where Stowe translated picturesque advertisement into political program and Bryant favored journalistic observation that slid into colorful pitch, Lanier substituted the flash of artistic whimsy that curved the picturesque and thus conventional ways of seeing.

Woolson also understood the magic of verbal pictures well before she paused on the play of color in Florida’s swamps. As early as “The Haunted Lake,” a descriptive sketch of the lake district near Cooperstown that helped inaugurate her career (p.200)

Cypresses, Chameleons, and SnakesDisplacement in Woolson’s “The South Devil”

Fig. 1, Leatherstocking Falls

Constance Fenimore Woolson, “The Haunted Lake.”Harper’s Monthly (December 1871): 23.

Cypresses, Chameleons, and SnakesDisplacement in Woolson’s “The South Devil”

Fig. 2, View in Charleston, South Carolina, Showing St. Michael’s Church

Constance Fenimore Woolson, “Up the Ashley and Cooper.”Harper’s Monthly (December 1875): 2.

(p.201) at Harper’s Monthly (December 1871), she also discovered how readily art departments turned verbal pictures into fetching wood engravings, how quickly a studied description of “Leatherstocking Falls” became a consumable scene (Fig. 1). The transformation could prove infectious, particularly for a young writer seeking a livelihood in illustrated magazines. Several years later, Woolson’s “Up the Ashley and Cooper” introduced readers of Harper’s Monthly (December 1875) to Charleston as “the picturesque city of the Southern Atlantic coast,” which the magazine’s art department cast as a streetscape with St. Michael’s church (Fig. 2). In the opening paragraphs of her sketch, Woolson organized the scene as a moonlit vista from St. Michael’s spire: first the city’s streets with their “broad verandahs” and “hidden gardens” and then the harbor with Battery Wagner and Fort Sumter “frowning” in the distance, before such islands led to the “shimmering” streams of the Ashley and the Cooper running inland.18 Here and later with the river front at Drayton Hall, the gardens at Magnolia, and the ruins of Middleton Place, Woolson recalled what the magazine’s readers could literally see: South Carolina’s Revolutionary past and its earlier colonial settlement, its hereditary estates.

But from her sketch’s opening paragraphs, there was also a surreptitious ease of appropriation, a schematic framing of scene after scene as her tourist eye and then the Harper art department found a spire, a river, a path, as readily as Carl found his way to the swamp. In the travel narrative that Woolson constructed along South Carolina’s waterways, the most surreptitious reckoning actually concerned armchair tourists rather than eighteenth-century relics, the gazers for whom such prospects were assembled rather than the archeological detritus of historical ruins.“The picturesque scene,” writes John Conron, “arranges its constituent forms in groupings and sequences, situates the spectator in relation to these arrangements and lights, and frames them in signifying ways.”19 What Ann Bermingham has called the “scopic dominion” of the “Picturesque eye” was inevitably at work in the North’s illustrated magazines, even at “Leatherstocking Falls,” but it was inevitably suspect when Northern travelers, travel writers, and musicians ventured south.20

Like Lanier, however, Woolson was also restless with picturesque conventions and already examining their familiar hermeneutics before “The South Devil” revealed the swamp’s summons and threat. In the midst of parlaying Southern scenes into Northern sketches, her revisionist correctives were also welcome in illustrated magazines, which were more given to bricolage than ideological purity. Intent on the complications of traveling witness together with the ample self-indulgence of traveling conventions, exactly what Carl Brenner does not see, Woolson’s comic “In Search of the Picturesque” was published by Harper’s Monthly (July 1872) just as her travel sketches began to appear and even before she arrived in Florida. In the earlier travelogue’s instructive plot, two young cousins and their grandfather leave the city’s pavements for “Arcadia” and what looks like picturesque travel’s customary (p.202)

Cypresses, Chameleons, and SnakesDisplacement in Woolson’s “The South Devil”

Fig. 3, “How Pure Is This Atmosphere!”

Constance Fenimore Woolson, “In Search of the Picturesque.” Harper’s Monthly (July 1872): 161.

master narrative, which Conron reads as a version of divine errand: I came, I saw, I conquered in print. But Woolson’s travelers are immediately overwhelmed by dust on the road, by scorching heat, and by corduroy log construction full of chuckholes, as well as too many hills, torrents of rain, and flies in the hotel dining room. Unlike Carl, they cannot bask; unlike Mark, they cannot simply labor. Not only are they on the road, but they do not understand at first that the road is traveled both ways, especially as a commercial thoroughfare. The eggs, honey, buttermilk, and cider they stop to purchase, for instance, have already been sold to meet metropolitan demand, while the country women they encounter want news of city fashions and the coming circus. It is as though the produce from Mark Deal’s orange groves were already moving through commercial channels, winter commodities that might prompt audiences for Carl’s song.

Rather than limn rural prospects as grace-notes or Lanier’s interrogation points, however, Woolson keeps her eye on her benighted travelers (Fig. 3), whose dusty progress the Harper art department also illustrated. Instead of framing a vista, the magazine’s engraving frames the wooden supports of the moving carriage, which (p.203) frame in turn the travelers themselves. Instead of detailing an imperial progress via what Albert Boime has called a “magisterial gaze,” this illustration details carriage wheels and clouds of dirt, the watchful strain of managing the horses, and the motion of a vehicle so beset by Woolson’s rattling peddler’s wagon on the road ahead that the passing scenery has disappeared.“We jolted, slipped, and dragged along,” her fretful narrator observes, “until the carriage, clogged with earth, creaked like a great caravan, and the original color of the horses was lost in mud.”21 Here the tourist “I” becomes at once subject and scene in an “atmosphere” that is “pure” only in its gentle mocking, as though a prosaic Mark took Carl’s vision to task.

Comic pokes did not keep Woolson from framing picturesque scenes for further Harper’s Monthly sketches. In “The Oklawaha” (January 1876), she observed with the picturesque’s conventional allure: “As the sun sank low in the west the red glow, which we could not see in the sky above through the dense umbrella-like tops of the cypresses, penetrated the open spaces below, and rested on the claret-colored water, as though the sun had stooped and shot under the trees, determined that the dark river, which he could not reach through the day with all his shining, should yet feel his power ere he stepped below the horizon.”22 But her early self-reflective “search” demonstrates that familiar tropes could be dismantled and a visual calculus undone. In “The South Devil,” she would again insinuate an ironic slant on narrative omnipotence in Carl’s fall, and she would remove the picturesque frame as well as the easy path of waterfall or city street to pause in the swamp on Carl’s danger and Mark’s dismay.

The result for her Northern stepbrothers at odds would be a damaged landscape that resists a unifying imperial field, a loosening picture with multiple perspectives that would complicate the view from distant armchairs or a convenient church spire. As Kim Ian Michasiw has put it in parsing the broad principle of multiple picturesque perspectives, “The beholder’s position in front of the canvas is devalued as there is no place before the canvas from which the various elements in the scene can be unified, even harmonized. If there is to be a privileged prospect, the one seeking it must abandon spectatorship and enter the plane of representation.”23 For Woolson’s Northerners and her story’s Northern readers, in other words, the South Devil could only be seen at different moments from different perspectives and then only along uneven ground and through a swampy quagmire of Southern mud.

More specifically, Woolson’s story of Florida’s peculiar topography, what wetlands historian Christopher Meindl has termed “Florida’s liquid landscape,”24 countered the kind of picture conjured by Edward King in his continuing series on The Great South for New York’s Scribner’s Monthly, which included “Pictures from Florida” in 1874. Attentive to the state’s recuperative climate, its winter temperatures, and its investment opportunities, King paused on the fecund appeal of “nature run riot,” where “the very irregularity is delightful, the decay, charming, the (p.204)

Cypresses, Chameleons, and SnakesDisplacement in Woolson’s “The South Devil”

Fig. 4, “A Florida Swamp.”

Thomas Bangs Thorpe, “Picturesque America: The St. John’s and Ocklawaha Rivers, Florida.” Appletons’ Journal (November 12, 1870): 580.

(p.205) solitude, picturesque.”25 He thereby epitomized Florida’s alien appeal during the 1870s while echoing the very first installment of Picturesque America in New York’s Appletons’ Journal: Thomas Bangs Thorpe’s “The St. John’s and Ocklawaha Rivers, Florida,” which appeared in 1870 with Harry Fenn’s engraving of “A Florida Swamp” (Fig. 4). Like those after him, including Woolson, Thorpe described and Fenn drew the strange cypress “knees” as emblematic roots for the deracinated, an extravagant nature for travelers whose lives were ever more routinized by the emerging consumer economy of the North.26 Woolson’s endorsement of that cypress logic lies in Carl’s heavy-lidded appreciation; but from Mark’s perspective the fall into time was almost literally a fall into Fenn’s writhing snakes.

So the layered stories of “The South Devil” prove metaphoric and revelatory. When Carl goes missing on Christmas Eve, it is the exhausted Mark who follows the light of his torch and the trail of Carl’s footprints into the swamp, a trail that leads him across “sharp cypress-knees standing sullenly in the claret-colored water” (177). They serve as a regenerative hint of Mark’s further reason for taking Carl on, even beyond his resemblance to the girl Mark has loved and apparently lost. Mark Deal confesses that he came to Florida to work the land and to get warm, after his brutal exposure to “the numbing ice, the killing ice” (183) of an Arctic expedition that recalls a similar and widely reported venture during the 1850s under Elisha Kent Kane. As Woolson’s first readers would have remembered, almost all of Kane’s crewmen returned from their desperate trek of eight hundred miles across the polar icecap. But Woolson changed the expedition story to one of dwindling resources and wrenching farewells, a tale of stranded comrades as the ice field breaks up and they drift apart on “ice-islands” (184). While Mark survives, everyone else dies frozen in his own block of ice, each drifting “in the slow eddy, each solemnly staring, one foot advanced, as if still keeping up the poor cramped steps with which he had fought off death” (184). That stranded separateness in the very posture of imperial adventure drives Mark south and eventually across the cypress knees that take him to the spot where Carl has fallen. Even the subsequent loss of his savings or, for that matter, the narrative theft of his story when Carl shares it with Schwartz do not separate him from the brother he has found and, significantly, their connection develops in Florida rather than Pennsylvania, in the land of winter heat rather than winter cold.

But if Florida was a Southern refuge for both brothers, it was a refuge with a difference—in fact, several of them. Historically, Spanish Florida had welcomed runaway slaves from British Georgia, just as the plantation on which Woolson’s story seems to be set had introduced Minorcan laborers who then sought sanctuary in St. Augustine. The swamps, in their turn, had served as a refuge for the Seminoles escaping Andrew Jackson and federal removal. Woolson’s figure for such absorption and adaptability is the chameleon, which Harry Fenn also alluded to with his lizard (p.206) on a limb in picturesque Florida and which “The South Devil” invokes for its mutable hide as well as its tenacious claws. Adapting in the opening scene to the color of Carl’s brown sack-coat, the chameleon is later seen weathering trouble against the side of a house and in some numbers. “‘In a storm,’” Carl tells Schwartz, “‘they will come and hang themselves by one paw on our windows, and the wind will blow them out like dead leaves, and rattle them about, and they’ll never move’” (183). Like the state’s Seminoles, Minorcans, and fugitive slaves, chameleons bespeak adjustment to change, a peculiar Florida past confirmed in the flaring colors of Woolson’s antimodern swamp.

But in “The South Devil,” the chameleons languidly catching flies never come near the recollected Indians, the mongrel hunter, or the black cook. It is Carl’s coat that the “old green chameleon” first clings to, and Schwartz the “visitor” who notices a chameleon on the wall. In the story’s opening paragraph, Carl lounges in the December sun “like a chameleon,” and Schwartz later works the Esmeralda Parlors in San Miguel before escaping in a flash of disappearing color on a moonlit smuggler’s boat. Yet it is not illegal shipping or, for that matter, Klan violence that Woolson’s story follows. While Woolson dubbed herself “a red hot abolitionist, Republican and hard-money advocate” in an 1876 letter to Paul Hamilton Hayne,27 her preoccupation in “The South Devil” does not seem to be the radical politics that other Northerners would seek to impose but the damage that Florida’s visitors were likely to bring with them. Where Woolson’s recurring chameleons could have signaled Florida’s changing colors and social relations, they suggest instead the sticky tongues and sleepy self-satisfaction of indolent Northerners, like the footloose Schwartz and the lounging Carl.

It is in the swamp’s murky waters that the South takes its revenge and offers its alternative, at least the South that Mark Deal imagines—and here Woolson departs somewhat from the simple domesticity of Harry Fenn’s snaky mother with her brood. Upon discovering Carl at night, when the predators begin to surface, Mark stakes out a dry spot with burning torches at its four corners and begins to pace “the little knoll fort” he has created “like a picket walking his beat” (178). To keep himself awake, he sings “Gaily the Troubadour” repeatedly and brings the troubadour home from Palestine over and over again, a sojourner who returns from the “sun-lands.”Although Mark can endure the centipedes, scorpions, and spiders that swarm the nighttime cypresses, he fears the moccasins that gather at the watery edge of his imposed domestic makeshift. “After a while,” Woolson writes, “they began to rise to the surface; he could distinguish portions of their bodies in waving lines, moving noiselessly hither and thither, appearing and disappearing suddenly, until the pools around seemed alive with them” (179). What Mark sees in this nightmarish vision actually looks like the “waving lines” of his own abandoned roots, the venomous return of what he has repressed first for the frozen North and then for the steamy South.

(p.207) Just as arresting and improbable, like the Arctic’s ice-islands and the swamp’s matted canopy, is what happens during the hour before dawn. An enormous snake appears and Mark, who has been singing all night of the troubadour’s lady love, imagines it to be the hideous “queen of the moccasins” come to challenge his claim, much as Joaquin Miller’s Spanish knight encounters the brown Queen of the Amazons. But Mark, another singer of songs, has none of the knight’s weary patience. Shooting the snake, he kills the fatal reminder of his own crusade, the rootless search for glory far from home. As though to confirm the point, Mark later finds himself on a second swampy knoll in a second nightmarish vision of five thousand moccasins “coiling and gliding over the roots of the cypresses” (189). It is as though Harry Fenn’s mother snake were striking back—or rather, since this is Mark’s phantasmic vision, as though the Northern hunger for Southern roots were suddenly alive with venom.

The measure of Mark’s displacement and his troubadour longing for home is revealed in “The South Devil” by what he finally chooses and what he throws away. Part of that is Carl’s doing: although the musician’s quest lapses and with it Mark’s danger, Carl replaces the song he can not quite catch with the cousin he has no trouble reaching hundreds of miles away. Even after his death, the network of postal lines between northern Florida and eastern Pennsylvania, as elaborate as the swamp that Mark must navigate with Carl’s body, delivers a letter from Leeza, a letter that turns Florida’s picturesque terrain into “a ghastly mockery” (193). With a “sudden repugnance,” Mark kicks aside the veinous oranges and their “rich, pulpy decay” (193) as he remembers apples and the hearty roots of a Pennsylvania orchard. Instead of snakes in the water and a new imperial adventure in the orange industry, Mark opts for the “cool brown rocks” of a Northern spring that will banish at last the “hot steaming air” (193) of the swamp. With his gun and Carl’s violin, at once Miller’s knight and Palestine’s troubadour, he heads “Northward,” Woolson’s inevitable redirection and her story’s final word.

But Mark Deal’s abrupt departure is not Woolson’s most instructive reckoning, even in “The South Devil.” If waving lines in the water suggest that an invaded land could rise up as Mark self-consciously fears, Woolson’s Florida also provides an alternative trope for postwar migrations, one that could encompass her own itinerancy and what Peter Caccavari has called her “traveling regionalism.”28 The swamp’s channel, which ultimately carries Mark and the dead Carl to San Miguel, is clogged by “matted water vines” that slow Mark’s progress and catch at his boat “like hundreds of hands” (190). In noticing the “great lily leaves,” Woolson seems to be alluding to the “floating islands” of Pistia spathulata, the water lettuce she describes more fully in “The Oklawaha.” Water lettuce, she notes there, is “a singular aquatic plant, associating in large communities or islands, sometimes several miles in length and a quarter of a mile in breadth, on large rivers or bays. These islands are nourished and (p.208) kept in place by long fibrous roots, and are often alive with alligators, snakes, frogs, otters, heron, and curlew, until they seem like communities.” As her travel account goes on to add, “in storms and high water they are driven from their moorings, and float about until they secure a footing again, when they flourish and spread themselves until again broken up and dispersed.”29 While Mark’s vines in the water like Carl’s vines in the air come and go quickly in “The South Devil,” Woolson’s pause elsewhere on island “communities” always on the move reveals a Florida alternative to the cypresses Mark envies, the chameleons Carl imitates, and the snakes that rise up to threaten them both, before Carl’s transcendent artistry collapses.

Neglected by the airy Carl and ignored by the purposeful Mark, the oxymoronic island “communities” that Woolson describes at length quietly suggest the postwar makings of a new and heterogenous social order. Forever on the move, the clumps of water lettuce seem like cypress knees that drift and disperse, chameleons that let go rather than cling, snakes that play well with others. In their unpicturesque displacements, these storm-driven clumps reveal Woolson’s final challenge to handy visual codes and the postwar tourists they invited. In place of picturesque summons, whether to Southern dirt or to Southern color, water lettuce communities with their “long, fibrous roots” dangling beneath the surface embody the difference between seeing there and being there, the difference between church spire preeminence and riverbank observation. As recuperative as miniature arks, Woolson’s migrating clumps suggest Northern social makeshifts on swampy Southern waterways and, in “The South Devil,” a fortunate fall into dealing with national Reconstruction.

Notes

(1) . Fred Lewis Pattee, “Constance Fenimore Woolson and the South,” South Atlantic Quarterly 38.2 (April 1939): 136. “The South Devil” originally appeared in the Atlantic Monthly (February 1880): 173– 93, where the “dark, languorous, mystical” swamp was first described (181). Unless otherwise indicated, all future references to Woolson’s story will be to this early version and will be noted parenthetically in the text.

(2) . David C. Miller, Dark Eden: The Swamp in Nineteenth-Century American Culture (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 3.

(3) . Sharon L. Dean, “Constance Woolson’s Southern Sketches,” Southern Studies 25.3 (Fall 1986): 280.

(4) . Karen Weekes, “Northern Bias in Constance Fenimore Woolson’s Rodman the Keeper: Southern Sketches,” Southern Literary Journal 32.2 (Spring 2000): 104.

(5) . Constance Fenimore Woolson: Selected Stories & Travel Narratives, ed. Victoria Brehm and Sharon L. Dean (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2004), 173.

(p.209) (6) . Steven Noll, “Steamboats, Cypresses, and Tourism: An Ecological History of the Ocklawaha Valley in the Late Nineteenth Century,” Florida Historical Quarterly 83.1 (Summer 2004): 7. For a keener sense of the “grand balls and parties” that the winter season in Jacksonville had already made familiar, see Floyd and Marion Rinhart, Victorian Florida: America’s Last Frontier (Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers, 1986), 45. As the Rinharts point out, newspapers in the mid-1870s were already testifying to the “gambling dens, thieves, and bunko artists” that Northern visitors were attracting (48). In “The South Devil,” Carl points to such urban bedevilment when he shrugs off Mark’s fear of the swamp.“‘The prince of darkness never lives in the places called by his name,’” Carl observes;“‘he likes baptized cities better’” (176).

(7) . Ellery Sedgwick, The Atlantic Monthly, 1857–1909: Yankee Humanism at High Tide and Ebb (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994). For an illuminating overview of the magazine under William Dean Howells, who was committed to a tradition of “socially engaged literature” and “liberal Republican politics” (132), see ch. 4, “William Dean Howells (1871–1881): Editorial Realist,” 112–59.

(8) . Frederick Douglass, “An Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage,” Atlantic Monthly (January 1867): 112.

(9) . Harriet Beecher Stowe, Palmetto Leaves (1873; Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1999), 138.

(10) . John T. Foster Jr. and Sarah Whitmer Foster, Beechers, Stowes, and Yankee Strangers: The Transformation of Florida (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1999), 1.

(11) . Henry James, “Miss Constance Fenimore Woolson,” Harper’s Weekly (February 12, 1887): 114. James later reprinted his comments in Partial Portraits (London: Macmillan, 1888), 177–92.

(12) . Constance Fenimore Woolson, Rodman the Keeper: Southern Sketches (New York: D. Appleton, 1880), 139. Here are the unconsecutive stanzas that Woolson added from Miller’s poem as a headnote:

  • The trees that lean’d in their love unto trees,
  •  That lock’d in their loves, and were made so strong,
  • Stronger than armies; ay, stronger than seas
  •  That rush from their caves in a storm of song.
  • The cockatoo swung in the vines below,
  •  And muttering hung on a golden thread,
  • Or moved on the moss’d bough to and fro,
  •  In plumes of gold and array’d in red.
  • The serpent that hung from the sycamore bough,
  •  And sway’d his head in a crescent above,
  • Had folded his head to the white limb now,
  •  And fondled it close like a great black love.

(13) . Joaquin Miller, Songs of the Sun-Lands (London: Longmans, 1873), 109. Miller’s second volume of “songs” capitalized on his success in London, where British literary society dubbed him the “Byron of the Rockies” when he arrived from the American West in sombrero, spurs, and bearskin cape. As Nathaniel Lewis observes, Miller turned local color into spectator sport by “inventing himself as ‘picturesque.’” See Unsettling the Literary West: Authenticity and Authorship (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003), 83. Benjamin S. Lawson points as well to Miller’s widely memorized poem “Columbus” (1896), with its repeated command to “Sail on!” See “Joaquin Miller,” Updating the Literary (p.210) West, sponsored by the Western Literature Association (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1997), 207. By reorganizing selected stanzas from “Isles of the Amazons,” Woolson quietly trumped cockatoo with serpent and thus plumbed color with sudden threat, as she perforated Miller’s imperial fantasy.

(14) . See Charles I. Glicksberg, “Letters of William Cullen Bryant from Florida,” Florida Historical Society Quarterly 14.4 (April 1936): 255–74, where observations about “the Negro” (263–67), river fauna (268–70), and a “northern invasion” (272–74) can all be found. Bryant’s letters appeared in the New York Evening Post, which he edited, on March 24, 1873, April 3, 1873, and April 15, 1873.

(15) . See Edd Winfield Parks, Sidney Lanier: The Man, the Poet, The Critic (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1968), 28. Aubrey Harrison Starke has pointed out that two chapters on northern Florida, excerpted in Lippincott’s during October and November 1875, were Lanier’s first appearance in the Northern press as a writer of prose. See Sidney Lanier: A Biographical and Critical Study (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1933), 224. Florida appeared shortly thereafter, in time for winter travel. Jane S. Gabin has noted the book’s “financial success,” and she pauses on the chapter “For Consumptives,” whose disease Lanier shared. See A Living Minstrelsy: The Poetry and Music of Sidney Lanier (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1985), 80–81. Gabin also considers the long poem that Lanier completed before departing for Florida. In that work, titled The Symphony (1875), Lanier urges Art over Trade, and his poem concludes with a line that Carl Brenner could have written: “Music is Love in search of a word.” For Gabin’s further discussion, see 81–84.

(16) . Anthony Wilson, Shadow and Shelter: The Swamp in Southern Culture (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2006), 99.

(17) . Sidney Lanier, Florida and Miscellaneous Prose, Centennial Edition of the Works of Sidney Lanier, VI, ed. Philip Graham (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1945), 9.

(18) . Constance Fenimore Woolson, “Up the Ashley and Cooper,” Harper’s Monthly (December 1875): 1–2.

(19) . John Conron, American Picturesque (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000), 8–9.

(20) . Ann Bermingham, “The Picturesque and Ready-to-Wear Femininity,” The Politics of the Picturesque: Literature, Landscape and Aesthetics since 1770, ed. Stephen Copley and Peter Garside (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 93. For the political implications of such staged vision, which was especially tempting and troubling after the Civil War, see “Imperial Landscape” and W. J. T. Mitchell’s unsettling observation: “Landscape might be seen more profitably as something like the ‘dreamwork’ of imperialism, unfolding its own movement in time and space from a central point of origin and folding back on itself to disclose both utopian fantasies of the perfected imperial prospect and fractured images of unresolved ambivalence and unsuppressed resistance.” Landscape and Power, ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 10. Lynn Murray finds “a pattern of political and aesthetic colonization” in the images of illustrated magazines like Harper’s Monthly, while Jeffrey Auerbach traces in the framework of the picturesque “a much more comprehensive trope than Orientalism.” See Murray, “‘A Newly Discovered Country’: The Post-Bellum South and the Picturesque Ruin,” Nineteenth Century Prose 29.2 (Fall 2002): 105; and Auerbach, “The Picturesque and the Homogenisation of Empire,” British Art Journal 5.1 (Spring/Summer 2004): 52.

(21) . Constance Fenimore Woolson, “In Search of the Picturesque,” Harper’s Monthly (July 1872): 166. For a full-scale demonstration of the organizing trope Woolson counters, see Albert Boime, The Magisterial Gaze: Manifest Destiny and American Landscape Painting c. 1830–1865 (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991).

(22) . Constance Fenimore Woolson, “The Oklawaha,” Harper’s Monthly (January 1876): 165.

(p.211) (23) . Kim Ian Michasiw, “Nine Revisionist Theses on the Picturesque,” Representations 38.1 (Spring 1992): 86.

(24) . Christopher F. Meindl, “Water,Water Everywhere,” Paradise Lost?: The Environmental History of Florida, ed. Jack E. Davis and Raymond Arsenault (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005), 123.

(25) . Edward King, “The Great South: Pictures from Florida,” Scribner’s Monthly (November 1874): 8.

(26) . Thomas Bangs Thorpe, “Picturesque America: The St. John’s and Ocklawaha Rivers, Florida,” Appletons’ Journal (November 12, 1870): 582. The South, as Edward Ayres observes, has long been “the American place where modern life has not fully arrived, for good and for ill.” See “What We Talk about When We Talk about the South,” All Over the Map: Rethinking American Regions, ed. Edward L. Ayres et al. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), 65. After the Civil War, the South became what Nina Silber has called “an antimodern refuge” for growing numbers of Northern travelers who were “haunted by standardization.” See The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865–1900 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993), 69. As Woolson was learning, Florida soon became the South’s principal tourist draw.

(27) . Constance Fenimore Woolson to Paul Hamilton Hayne, April 17, 1876, Paul Hamilton Hayne Papers, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Note that Woolson’s letter is marked “Easter Monday,” which puts it a day after April 16, 1876, the date scholars have used for years. Warm thanks to Orion A. Teal at Duke University for pointing this out and for adding that the archival copy of this letter has been annotated in pencil with the correct date.

(28) . Peter Caccavari, “Exile, Depatriation, and Constance Fenimore Woolson’s Traveling Regionalism,” Women, America, and Movement: Narratives of Relocation, ed. Susan L. Roberson (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998), 19–37. Caccavari sees Woolson modeling postwar identity on the very mobility Mark Deal dismisses.“Woolson took the rootlessness to be a part of her contemporary condition,” he writes.“She saw it as an opportunity for self-reconstruction” (23). Identity in perpetual movement made Woolson what Caccavari calls “a polylocalized soul,” which he describes as “someone who is in some sense ‘native’ to a number of places, not by birth or even duration of habitation, but by observation and imagination” (24). As it happens, Woolson also found in swamp botany a trope for what Caccavari astutely posits as reconstructive paradigm.

(29) . Woolson, “The Oklawaha,” 174. The observations come from Woolson’s fictional naturalist, who has been reading William Bartram’s Travels (1791) and specifically Bartram’s description of the St. Johns River.

Notes:

(1) . Fred Lewis Pattee, “Constance Fenimore Woolson and the South,” South Atlantic Quarterly 38.2 (April 1939): 136. “The South Devil” originally appeared in the Atlantic Monthly (February 1880): 173– 93, where the “dark, languorous, mystical” swamp was first described (181). Unless otherwise indicated, all future references to Woolson’s story will be to this early version and will be noted parenthetically in the text.

(2) . David C. Miller, Dark Eden: The Swamp in Nineteenth-Century American Culture (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 3.

(3) . Sharon L. Dean, “Constance Woolson’s Southern Sketches,” Southern Studies 25.3 (Fall 1986): 280.

(4) . Karen Weekes, “Northern Bias in Constance Fenimore Woolson’s Rodman the Keeper: Southern Sketches,” Southern Literary Journal 32.2 (Spring 2000): 104.

(5) . Constance Fenimore Woolson: Selected Stories & Travel Narratives, ed. Victoria Brehm and Sharon L. Dean (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2004), 173.

(p.209) (6) . Steven Noll, “Steamboats, Cypresses, and Tourism: An Ecological History of the Ocklawaha Valley in the Late Nineteenth Century,” Florida Historical Quarterly 83.1 (Summer 2004): 7. For a keener sense of the “grand balls and parties” that the winter season in Jacksonville had already made familiar, see Floyd and Marion Rinhart, Victorian Florida: America’s Last Frontier (Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers, 1986), 45. As the Rinharts point out, newspapers in the mid-1870s were already testifying to the “gambling dens, thieves, and bunko artists” that Northern visitors were attracting (48). In “The South Devil,” Carl points to such urban bedevilment when he shrugs off Mark’s fear of the swamp.“‘The prince of darkness never lives in the places called by his name,’” Carl observes;“‘he likes baptized cities better’” (176).

(7) . Ellery Sedgwick, The Atlantic Monthly, 1857–1909: Yankee Humanism at High Tide and Ebb (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994). For an illuminating overview of the magazine under William Dean Howells, who was committed to a tradition of “socially engaged literature” and “liberal Republican politics” (132), see ch. 4, “William Dean Howells (1871–1881): Editorial Realist,” 112–59.

(8) . Frederick Douglass, “An Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage,” Atlantic Monthly (January 1867): 112.

(9) . Harriet Beecher Stowe, Palmetto Leaves (1873; Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1999), 138.

(10) . John T. Foster Jr. and Sarah Whitmer Foster, Beechers, Stowes, and Yankee Strangers: The Transformation of Florida (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1999), 1.

(11) . Henry James, “Miss Constance Fenimore Woolson,” Harper’s Weekly (February 12, 1887): 114. James later reprinted his comments in Partial Portraits (London: Macmillan, 1888), 177–92.

(12) . Constance Fenimore Woolson, Rodman the Keeper: Southern Sketches (New York: D. Appleton, 1880), 139. Here are the unconsecutive stanzas that Woolson added from Miller’s poem as a headnote:

  • The trees that lean’d in their love unto trees,
  •  That lock’d in their loves, and were made so strong,
  • Stronger than armies; ay, stronger than seas
  •  That rush from their caves in a storm of song.
  • The cockatoo swung in the vines below,
  •  And muttering hung on a golden thread,
  • Or moved on the moss’d bough to and fro,
  •  In plumes of gold and array’d in red.
  • The serpent that hung from the sycamore bough,
  •  And sway’d his head in a crescent above,
  • Had folded his head to the white limb now,
  •  And fondled it close like a great black love.

(13) . Joaquin Miller, Songs of the Sun-Lands (London: Longmans, 1873), 109. Miller’s second volume of “songs” capitalized on his success in London, where British literary society dubbed him the “Byron of the Rockies” when he arrived from the American West in sombrero, spurs, and bearskin cape. As Nathaniel Lewis observes, Miller turned local color into spectator sport by “inventing himself as ‘picturesque.’” See Unsettling the Literary West: Authenticity and Authorship (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003), 83. Benjamin S. Lawson points as well to Miller’s widely memorized poem “Columbus” (1896), with its repeated command to “Sail on!” See “Joaquin Miller,” Updating the Literary (p.210) West, sponsored by the Western Literature Association (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1997), 207. By reorganizing selected stanzas from “Isles of the Amazons,” Woolson quietly trumped cockatoo with serpent and thus plumbed color with sudden threat, as she perforated Miller’s imperial fantasy.

(14) . See Charles I. Glicksberg, “Letters of William Cullen Bryant from Florida,” Florida Historical Society Quarterly 14.4 (April 1936): 255–74, where observations about “the Negro” (263–67), river fauna (268–70), and a “northern invasion” (272–74) can all be found. Bryant’s letters appeared in the New York Evening Post, which he edited, on March 24, 1873, April 3, 1873, and April 15, 1873.

(15) . See Edd Winfield Parks, Sidney Lanier: The Man, the Poet, The Critic (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1968), 28. Aubrey Harrison Starke has pointed out that two chapters on northern Florida, excerpted in Lippincott’s during October and November 1875, were Lanier’s first appearance in the Northern press as a writer of prose. See Sidney Lanier: A Biographical and Critical Study (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1933), 224. Florida appeared shortly thereafter, in time for winter travel. Jane S. Gabin has noted the book’s “financial success,” and she pauses on the chapter “For Consumptives,” whose disease Lanier shared. See A Living Minstrelsy: The Poetry and Music of Sidney Lanier (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1985), 80–81. Gabin also considers the long poem that Lanier completed before departing for Florida. In that work, titled The Symphony (1875), Lanier urges Art over Trade, and his poem concludes with a line that Carl Brenner could have written: “Music is Love in search of a word.” For Gabin’s further discussion, see 81–84.

(16) . Anthony Wilson, Shadow and Shelter: The Swamp in Southern Culture (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2006), 99.

(17) . Sidney Lanier, Florida and Miscellaneous Prose, Centennial Edition of the Works of Sidney Lanier, VI, ed. Philip Graham (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1945), 9.

(18) . Constance Fenimore Woolson, “Up the Ashley and Cooper,” Harper’s Monthly (December 1875): 1–2.

(19) . John Conron, American Picturesque (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000), 8–9.

(20) . Ann Bermingham, “The Picturesque and Ready-to-Wear Femininity,” The Politics of the Picturesque: Literature, Landscape and Aesthetics since 1770, ed. Stephen Copley and Peter Garside (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 93. For the political implications of such staged vision, which was especially tempting and troubling after the Civil War, see “Imperial Landscape” and W. J. T. Mitchell’s unsettling observation: “Landscape might be seen more profitably as something like the ‘dreamwork’ of imperialism, unfolding its own movement in time and space from a central point of origin and folding back on itself to disclose both utopian fantasies of the perfected imperial prospect and fractured images of unresolved ambivalence and unsuppressed resistance.” Landscape and Power, ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 10. Lynn Murray finds “a pattern of political and aesthetic colonization” in the images of illustrated magazines like Harper’s Monthly, while Jeffrey Auerbach traces in the framework of the picturesque “a much more comprehensive trope than Orientalism.” See Murray, “‘A Newly Discovered Country’: The Post-Bellum South and the Picturesque Ruin,” Nineteenth Century Prose 29.2 (Fall 2002): 105; and Auerbach, “The Picturesque and the Homogenisation of Empire,” British Art Journal 5.1 (Spring/Summer 2004): 52.

(21) . Constance Fenimore Woolson, “In Search of the Picturesque,” Harper’s Monthly (July 1872): 166. For a full-scale demonstration of the organizing trope Woolson counters, see Albert Boime, The Magisterial Gaze: Manifest Destiny and American Landscape Painting c. 1830–1865 (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991).

(22) . Constance Fenimore Woolson, “The Oklawaha,” Harper’s Monthly (January 1876): 165.

(p.211) (23) . Kim Ian Michasiw, “Nine Revisionist Theses on the Picturesque,” Representations 38.1 (Spring 1992): 86.

(24) . Christopher F. Meindl, “Water,Water Everywhere,” Paradise Lost?: The Environmental History of Florida, ed. Jack E. Davis and Raymond Arsenault (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005), 123.

(25) . Edward King, “The Great South: Pictures from Florida,” Scribner’s Monthly (November 1874): 8.

(26) . Thomas Bangs Thorpe, “Picturesque America: The St. John’s and Ocklawaha Rivers, Florida,” Appletons’ Journal (November 12, 1870): 582. The South, as Edward Ayres observes, has long been “the American place where modern life has not fully arrived, for good and for ill.” See “What We Talk about When We Talk about the South,” All Over the Map: Rethinking American Regions, ed. Edward L. Ayres et al. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), 65. After the Civil War, the South became what Nina Silber has called “an antimodern refuge” for growing numbers of Northern travelers who were “haunted by standardization.” See The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865–1900 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993), 69. As Woolson was learning, Florida soon became the South’s principal tourist draw.

(27) . Constance Fenimore Woolson to Paul Hamilton Hayne, April 17, 1876, Paul Hamilton Hayne Papers, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Note that Woolson’s letter is marked “Easter Monday,” which puts it a day after April 16, 1876, the date scholars have used for years. Warm thanks to Orion A. Teal at Duke University for pointing this out and for adding that the archival copy of this letter has been annotated in pencil with the correct date.

(28) . Peter Caccavari, “Exile, Depatriation, and Constance Fenimore Woolson’s Traveling Regionalism,” Women, America, and Movement: Narratives of Relocation, ed. Susan L. Roberson (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998), 19–37. Caccavari sees Woolson modeling postwar identity on the very mobility Mark Deal dismisses.“Woolson took the rootlessness to be a part of her contemporary condition,” he writes.“She saw it as an opportunity for self-reconstruction” (23). Identity in perpetual movement made Woolson what Caccavari calls “a polylocalized soul,” which he describes as “someone who is in some sense ‘native’ to a number of places, not by birth or even duration of habitation, but by observation and imagination” (24). As it happens, Woolson also found in swamp botany a trope for what Caccavari astutely posits as reconstructive paradigm.

(29) . Woolson, “The Oklawaha,” 174. The observations come from Woolson’s fictional naturalist, who has been reading William Bartram’s Travels (1791) and specifically Bartram’s description of the St. Johns River.