The Liberator
Boston: 29 April 1853



  * * This principle has found its undisguised and ultimate expression in another form of factitious* literature, which would seem to have exhausted the extremest possibilities of falsehood. There was a kind of poetry in vogue in England, a few years ago, which was designated as the 'Satanic school of poetry.' This school has been recently reproduced among ourselves, in prose, and originated a new species of literature, which may be called the Literature of Compromise. Its first authentic utterance was heard on the 7th of March, 1850—a day ever-memorable in the history of the fall of angels. Since then, it has been exceedingly prolific in every department, saving always poetry. That fountain it has not yet polluted, and, thanks to Nature's unquenchable instincts, it cannot defile. But even the walls consecrated to Christ and the race Christ came to redeem have echoed its appalling lies.

  The first fundamental principle of the school is, that human law, under certain conditions, which do now exist, is paramount to the divine law—if the divine law, being higher than the Blue Ridge, is a reality; for the present, it is doubtful—a fiction—to be verified when the present emergency is passed, and there is time to take the altitude and bearings of the said Blue Ridge.

  The second principle of the school would, in other and better times, have been, of itself, a decisive proof of hopeless mental derangement, before any jury of sane men, commissioned to make inquisition concerning insanity. It is, that the Union of these federal States will be dissolved, if the nation repents of the blackest sin and relieves itself of the direst curse that a people can commit and suffer! The final and full expression of these principles—the great Scripture of this literature—is that consummation of all that can be infamous and infernal in human legislation, the Fugitive Slave Law. The main body of the literature is mainly commentary and exposition of that. The principle of Compromise was very forcibly illustrated here, a few evenings ago, by our laureate:—

'That formal treaty with the devil,
To split the difference between good and evil;
How the old rascal in his sleeve must laugh!
The bond is sealed—he's sure at least of half,
And the sly twinkle in his cunning phiz
Tells us right well he knows the whole is his;
Our souls are mortgaged to secure oppression,
And he has made an entry for possession.

  I give a single illustration of this new literature. In the January number of a literary magazine, of the widest circulation, published in Philadelphia,—the city of Penn, the city of brotherly love,—whose editor is George H. Graham, is an article entitled, 'Black Letters, or Uncle Tom Foolery in Literature.' 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' was the subject of this article, and the writer did his work with a spirit and the tools of a butcher. There was nothing like criticism, only savage, undiscriminating invective. He repeated that most wretched, yet the best, because the only, apology yet offered for American slavery, derived from the social wrongs of England;—another illustration, be it said in passing, of the Literature of Fact. The Duchess of Sutherland, and the women of Stafford House, were, of course, greeted with the choicest bouquets of Billingsgate which this odorous literature could furnish. To characterize the article in a few words, the writer seemed resolved to demonstrate his devotion to the power to which he had bartered his soul, at any sacrifice of truth, self-respect, good sense, good taste, manly courtesy, the amenities of literature, and the commonest decencies of criticism. The article might have been written by Commissioner Ingraham or Judge Kane, and was most appropriately issued from the press of that doomed city in which they perpetrated their enormities—of that city which permitted the burning of Pennsylvania Hall, a temple infinitely more precious than the shrines of Diana of the Ephesians, or the stateliest Christian cathedral or republican Capitol—of that city, in which peaceable colored citizens stood shivering and aghast, amid the smoking ruins of their dwellings, which white mobs had destroyed, as offerings to the Moloch of this idolatry.

  That article did not exhaust the capacity of the Satanic literature. Mr. Graham found it necessary to take some notice of the strictures it had called forth. In the March number appeared a second article—a fit sequel and companion-piece to the first. There is a good deal more of the same stale, stupid and nauseating declamation about English ignorance and hypocrisy, and plentiful abuse of Mrs. STOWE for going to partake of English hospitality, and for her libels upon her own country. Here are a few specimens.*

  I shall not defend 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'; it needs it not. It has a higher witness than words can give it. Every one who has considered the intrinsic nature and observed the actual workings of American slavery, knows that it is a true record of the earth's abominations. Every one who has a human heart, human affections, and human aspirations in his bosom, feels it to be true, and reverently honors it, as one of the noblest offerings which literature, inspired by genius, ever offered upon God's altar, for man's service.

  I make one remark upon this case, as an illustration of the fearful extent to which the literature of Compromise has debauched the sentiments of the people. How long is it since any editor of a merely literary publication, depending for its support mainly upon the Northern opinion concerning its truth and value, would have ventured, as a matter of business and circulation, to send out his magazine loaded with the burden of two such articles? If I do not mistake the anti-slavery sentiment of even four years ago, any publisher would have been very speedily taught that he must thenceforth look for his wages exclusively to the masters whose devil's work he was doing. Yet Mr. Graham boasts that, between the publication of his two articles, he received three thousand new subscribers, four fifths of whom were north of Mason and Dixon's line!

  Shall we pour vials of wrath upon the head of George R. Graham? Poor wretch, no. He knows no god but money, and he tells us he is getting the price for which he sold his manhood. He only exhibits a single eruption of a disease which has eaten deep into the heart of the leaders of the people. The fountain of corruption was opened and walled in with the Constitution of the United States, and it continued to rise and swell, weltering and fermenting, until it overflowed and inundated the land, on that portentous 7th of March,—that fatalest of all the days on which God's blessed sun ever shone.

  No; let the poor wretch, Graham, pass quietly, for us, into the oblivion, or everlasting contempt, he has prepared for himself. He has only preached with bolder words and stronger tropes than others, greater than himself, that devil's gospel, which is the Scripture of the new literature. He has but clothed, in its own appropriate language of the nether deeps, that which the professed minister of the Redeemer of all men had already proclaimed at His altar, in words filched from the lexicon of faith and devotion—that which scholars and orators have uttered, in periods of classic eloquence—that which a President of the new dispensation of Compromise has declared to be the evangel of the Union, in phrases stolen from the vocabulary of Freedom; but which, thanks to the testimony of victorious Uncle Tom, with his millions of copies, and ten millions of readers, we know—what we did not doubt—the great, true heart of the people, true ever to the eternal fact, loathes, abhors, rejects, and holds for ever and ever accursed.