The following communication comes enclosed in an envelope from Louisiana.—Ed. Era.
THE OPINION OF A SOUTHERNER.
To the Editor of the National Era:
. . .
I am happy to see that morality is rearing its head with advocates for slavery, and that a "most invulnerable moral panoply" is thought to be necessary. I hope it may not prove to be like Mr. Clay's Compromises. The Southern Press says: "As for caricatures of slavery in Uncle Tom's Cabin and the White Slave, all founded in imaginary circumstances, &c., we consider them highly incendiary. He who undertakes to stir up strife between two individual neighbors, by detraction, is justly regarded by all men and all moral codes, as a criminal." Then he quotes the ninth commandment, and adds: "But to bear false witness against whole States, and millions of people, &c., would seem to be a crime as much deeper in turpitude as the mischief is greater and the provocation less." In the first place, I will put the Southern Press upon proof that Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe has told one falsehood. If she has told truth, it is indeed a powerful engine of "assault on slavery," such as these Northern fanatics have made for the "last twenty years." The number against whom she offends, in the editor's opinion, seems to increase the turpitude of her crime. That is good reasoning! I hope the editor will be brought to feel that wholesale wickedness is worse than single-handed, and is infinitely harder to reach, particularly if of long standing. It gathers boldness and strength when it is sanctioned by the authority of time, and aided by numbers that are interested in supporting it. Such is slavery! and Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe deserves the gratitude of "States and millions of people" for her talented work, in showing it up in its true light. She has advocated truth, justice and humanity, and they will back her efforts. Her work will be read by "States and millions of people," and when the Southern Press attempts to malign her, by bringing forward her own avowal, "that the subject of slavery had been so painful to her, that she had abstained from conversing on it for several years," and that, in his opinion, "it accounts for the intensity of the venom of her book," his really envenomed shafts will fall harmless at her feet; for readers will judge for themselves, and be very apt to conclude that more venom comes from the Southern Press than from her. She advocates what is right, and has a straight road, which "few get lost on;" he advocates what is wrong, and has consequently to tack, concede, deny, slander, and all sorts of things.
With all due deference to whatever of just principles the Southern Press may have advanced in favor of the slave, I am a poor judge of human nature, if I mistake in saying that Mrs. Stowe has done much to draw from him those concessions, and the putting forth of this "most invulnerable moral panoply" that has just come into his head as a bulwark of safety for slavery, owes its impetus to her, and other like efforts. I hope the Southern Press will not imitate the spoiled child, who refused to eat his pie for spite.
The White Slave I have not seen. I guess its character; for I made a passage to New York, some fourteen or fifteen years since, in a packet ship, with a young woman whose face was enveloped in a profusion of light brown curls, and who sat at the table with the passengers all the way, as a white woman. When at the Quarantine, Staten Island, the captain received a letter, sent by express mail, from a person in New Orleans, claiming her as his slave, and threatened the captain with the penalty of the existing law, if she was not immediately returned. The streaming eyes of the poor unfortunate girl told the truth, when the captain reluctantly broke it to her. She unhesitatingly confessed that she had run away, and that a friend had paid her passage. Proper measures were taken, and she was conveyed to a packet ship that was at Sandy Hook, bound for New Orleans.
"Uncle Tom's Cabin," I think, is a just delineation of slavery. The incidents are colored, but the position that the slave is made to hold is just. I did not read every page of it, my object being to ascertain what position the slave occupied. I could state a case of whipping to death, that would equal Uncle Tom's; still, such cases are not very frequent. The stirring up of strife between neighbors, that the Southern Press complains of, deserves notice. Who are neighbors? The most explicit answer to this question will be found in the reply Christ made to the lawyer, when he asked it of him. Another question will arise, whether, in Christ's judgment, Mrs. Stowe would be considered a neighbor, or an incendiary? As the Almighty Ruler of the universe and the Maker of man has said that he has made all the nations of the earth of one blood, and man in His own image, the black man, irrespective of his color, would seem to be a neighbor, who has fallen among his enemies, that have deprived him of the fruits of his labor, his liberty, his right to his wife and children, his right to obtain the knowledge to read, or to anything that earth holds dear, except such portions of food and raiment as will fit him for his despoiler's purposes. Let not the apologists for slavery bring up the isolated cases of leniency, giving instruction, and affectionate attachment, that are found among some masters as specimens of slavery! It is unfair! They form exceptions, and much do I respect them; but they are not the rules of slavery. The strife that is being stirred up is not to take away anything that belongs to another—neither their silver or gold, their fine linen or purple, their houses or land, their horses or cattle, or anything that is their property; but to rescue a neighbor from their unmanly cupidity.