The Minister's Wooing. By Harriet Beecher Stowe. New York: Derby & Jackson, 119 Nassau street. 1859.
It is a great misfortune for a writer to have once made a decided "hit," (a misfortune, however, which most writers would probably encounter with a very great degree of Christian resignation.) Mrs. Stowe, having once set the world on fire with Uncle Tom's Cabin, is expected to produce similar conflagration every time she lights her candle; which, as the world can be burned up only once, will readily be seen to be a somewhat difficult operation.
We have never been able to recognise the propriety of this. Columbus made a voyage, and discovered a new continent. He made several voyages afterwards, but discovered no more continents. Yet Columbus was probably just as heroic, just as persevering, on his second and third, as on his first voyage; and more skillful, experienced, and wise.
A woman went down into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and the sighing of the prisoner fell upon her ear—the wailing of them that sit in darkness—lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning—and her lips were touched with a living coal from off the altar. When she came back into the sweet upper air, her winged words of fire burned in to the heart of humanity, and the world knew, as it never knew before, that a fearful Crime, a great and bitter Sorrow, was smouldering in the bosom of our beloved Land—last-born, and fairest among the nations.
But such experiences come only once in a lifetime; and though they must undoubtedly make all subsequent experiences somewhat tame and trite, they ought not to be allowed to interfere with subsequent highest excellence—to make gold become dim—to change fine gold into base alloy.
Only once was Paul caught up into the third heaven to hear unutterable words; but afterwards he was in labors abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons frequent, in deaths oft.
Mrs. Stowe will never write another Uncle Tom's Cabin. That point may as well be settled once for all; but we do protest against Uncle Tom's being cast into the teeth of every book she does write. It is simply impossible that any work of hers should ever again so stir the depths of our being. That was entirely novel, unexpected, and startling. The nonchalant public were taken aback. We were quietly going, one to his farm, another to his merchandise, when suddenly—something happened! Now, whenever it is announced that Mrs. Stowe has a new work in hand, we inevitably stop the machines, unyoke the oxen, and wait on tiptoe for something to happen again. Of course, we are disappointed.
"The first was living fire, the next a thrill;"
but it is not necessarily the fault of the writer, nor is it in fact anybody's fault. It is only a law of the human organization.