I tried to write in a tent, on thenoutpost; the enemy yonder,nalmost in view—but withnJackson, alas, no longer in front.nOh to write in a quiet study,nwith no enemies ariywhere innview!nHis wartime experiences formed thenbasis of Cooke’s postwar novels, whichnare still read and loved in the Southntoday. Surry of Eagle’s Nest (1866)nand its sequel, Mohun (1869), werenthrilling adventure stories of Virginianunder fire. Wearing of the Gray (1867)nand Hammer and Rapier (1871) arencollections of military essays. A Life ofnGeneral Robert E. Lee (1871) saw himnreach the peak of his power. Cooke hadnwritten Lee about the project beforenthe general’s death, and the long, sympatheticnwork he produced gave thenmost coherent picture and summary ofnLee’s military career-that was to bendone in Cooke’s generation.nMeanwhile, in 1867, Cooke marriednMary Francis, and settled at ThenBriars in Clarke County. Here, surroundednby his three children andnfriends, he divided his Hme betweennwriting and farming. The Heir of Gaymount,nan 1870 novel, suggested thatnmodern farming was the long hope ofnthe postwar South. Equally interestingnis My Lady Pokahontas, which appearednin 1885. Cooke purports to benwriting in the 17th century, using andiary of the time. The book is not onlyna landmark in the treatment of thenPocahontas story, but in the treatmentnof the American Indian as well.nPart of the great 20th-century voguenfor historical novels must surely benattributed to Cooke. “He was,” A.A.nLink observed, “at heart a chivalricnCavalier, who idealized the past andnwas unreservedly devoted to Virginia.nHis books are what he wished them tonbe — entertaining and pure.” Two historicalnstudies, Stories of the Old Dominionn(1879) and Virginia: A Historynof the People (1883) merely confirmnLink’s view. A more recent scholar,nDr. Beaty, has gone even further innconnecting present romantic notionsnof Virginia and the work of Cooke:n”Partly through his own books butnmore particularly through his influence,nCooke is responsible for the ideanof older Virginia held by the Virginiansnof today.”n58/CHRONICLESnWhile busily engaged with newnnovels Cooke was stricken by typhoidnfever, and died in his fifty-sixth year.nHis had been a full and a good life, andnthe influence of his writing spread farnbeyond his own ken and age. Henunderstood and believed in his nativenVirginia, its origins, motives, and actions.nTo him it was sacred soil — thenhome of a special breed of men:nThus, Virginia, “the last countrynbelonging to England thatnsubmitted to obedience to thenCommonwealth,” was the placenfor the Cavalier people. It was anhaven of refuge in the pitilessnstorm; and all through thenhomeland was so dreary, then”distressed” fugitives werenstealing out of the country, andnsailing with sad or glad heartsnVirginiaward.nDespite the fact that such prose soundsnhopelessly romantic in this age of hardboilednrealism, Virginians continue tonread and to defend it. James BranchnCabell, who carried the Cavalier Traditionnwell into the 20th century,nsummed the rnatter up: “Our nativenwriters are not perfect. Even so, theynare ours, and we do not care to haventhem dispraised by outsiders.”nThe War Between the States destroyednVirginia’s hope of political andnsocial domination; but it only accentuatednthe nostalgia for former glory.nPeople always want to go back to thenGood Old Days. Probably the first cavenman talked of the time when a fellowndidn’t have to spend his life in a hole innthe ground. All men pine for a lostnEden. But just as surely as the Southnlost the battles on the land, so did shenwin the battles in the mind. In thenbalmy atmosphere of that second victory,nVirginia and her sister states baskntoday.nThe first war was a military one. Itnwas fought with blood and guts andnshrapnel, and left us with the vision ofnAppomattox. The second war was anliterary war. It was fought with metaphorsnand nostalgia and fiction, and leftnus with the vision of Scariett O’Hara.nEvery best-seller list brings the samennews from the front. The Yankees areneverywhere in retreat. Rebels who couldnnot win with Lee and Longstreet havenrenewed the struggle on another frontnand, like the Creeks of old, thoughnnnconquered led captive their conqueror.nThe publication of MargaretnMitchell’s Gone With the Wind maden1936 a year of sweet revenge. Thoughnless pure than the earlier Southernnheroines, Scarlett O’Hara got a lotnfurther in the long run. This fastestsellingnhovel in our publishing historynsold fifty thousand copies in one day,nand over one and one-half millionnduring the first year. After sweepingnover the United States it crossed oceansnand was translated into nearly thirtynlanguages. To most of the worldnTwelve Oaks is the American Southland.nTwelve Oaks, you may ask, or TobacconRoad? Has not the moonlightnandmagnolia South given way, fictionallynspeaking, to decadence, violence,nand ruin? Have not William Faulkner,nErskine Caldwell, Tennessee Williams,nand Carson McCullers damned thenhoneysuckle? Not exactly; actuallynthey have transformed the sweet flowersninto fieurs du mal. Romanticnthemes are equally compelling whenninverted. We like Baudelaire as well asnWordsworth, Poe as well as Lanier;nthey are all romantics. For as WilliamnGilbert put it.nThere’s a fascination franticnIn a ruin that’s romanticnDo you think you arensufficiently decayed?nMore recent Southern novels are sufficientiyndecayed. Tom Lehrer, the Harvardnpundit, finds the Sordid South nonless luring than the Saccharine South:nI wanna go back to Alabammy,nBack to the arms of my dearnol’ Mammy,nHer cookin’s lousy and hernhands are clammynBut what the hell, it’s home.nAnd so the new Southern army notnonly hangs on, but advances. The rallyingncry is “tradition.” Unfortunately,nnot all who shout it know what it means,nor where fact stops and fiction takesnover. But they do know where the arrownpoints: back to the Golden Age. Eden isngone now, never to return. Oh well,none can at least remember.nIn Virginia we’re very good at that.nMarshall W. Fishwick is a professornof English at Virginia Polytechnic innBlacksburg.n