UNCLE TOM'S CABIN AS IT IS
A book by this title has lately been published, and according to all accounts is a regular catch-penny affair. With no mark of genius or of ability, it is attempting to foist itself into popularity by means of the work which it vainly essays to answer. The Boston Post, although as an apologist for slavery, thus notices it:
'Verily, Mrs. Stowe will have much to answer for, if good paper and ink are to be wasted, and the public pocket to be picked by any more of these 'replies' to her 'Uncle Tom.'
We have already noticed 'Aunt Phillis's Cabin.' It is not without merit: it is a pleasant, interesting, well-written book, the tendency of which will undoubtedly be to correct some of the erroneous inferences that have been drawn from the exaggerations of Mrs. Stowe. But the volume now before us is a very different affair. It is beautifully got up, on the nicest, whitest and thickest paper, with clear and beautiful print, well-executed illustrations, and with a handsome and substantial binding. As a book, it is highly creditable to publishers and printers. But its matter is insufferably tedious. It is a mere collection of 'nigger talk,' pointless and prosy. As far as we could read it, the chief plot was the attempt of a rascally abolitionist to seduce from a Virginia plantation this 'Uncle Tom as he is'—an envious, ugly and disappointed slave. But without reference to the doctrine of these pro-slavery and anti-slavery novels, the execution of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin as it is' is miserably bad. Mr. Smith is evidently no practical hand as story-telling. His dialogue is awkward and terribly verbose, while his management of plot and incidents is that of a school-boy. He may give a very correct picture of Southern life, for all we know or care, but as a work of art, the purpose only of his production renders it worth noticing.
It is stated that 5000 copies of the book in hand have already been sold in the West; but we can only say, that 5000 free and enlightened citizens have been 'sold' with the volumes. We breathe a fervent hope, however, that hereaway the people may not be so shockingly beguiled of their time and money.
One may deny the correctness of the genuine Uncle Tom's Cabin, but there is not question that 'Little Eva' has become as much a fact in English literature as 'Little Nell' herself. The world, also, will not readily forget Senator Bird and his wife, and the escape of the fugitive quadroon, or neglect Sam, Dinah, Topsy, Uncle Tom himself, or St. Clare and his Yankee aunt. Genius has spread her mantle over them all. But the book now under notice is mere literary trash, and except in the profit resulting from the sale of a poor book put forth to answer a grand one, Mr. Smith did a silly thing when he printed the 'Cabin as it is,' and thus pushed himself into a comparison with Mrs. Stowe. We do hope that Uncle Tom may now be left in peace, or at the worst, that his next antagonist may be worthy, at least, to unloose the latchet of his shoes.'
A more remarkable instance of assinine pretension than the announcement of this insipid volume as the counterpart to 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' has never fallen under our notice. Put forth with a view of extenuating slavery by faithful pictures of Southern life, its object is defeated by the wretched manner of its execution. The story is improbable in the highest degree—the plot is awkwardly managed—the descriptions of nature are artificial and tame—no interest is awakened in the characters portrayed—an excess of the negro dialect vulgarizes the conversations—the scenes are without dramatic effect—and an air of elaborate heaviness pervades the volume.— N. Y. Tribune
In the Buffalo Republic the work is reviewed with a good deal of severity. The critic says of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin as it is':
'The inadequacy and lameness of the plot are made palpable in the carrying out and the filling up of the details. The whole 519 pages prove just as much in favor of human slavery as three of there lines will prove in favor of arson. Take a case like this: An incendiary set fire to a steamboat on the Hudson; she was immediately run ashore, where she was consumed, and no person was burnt to death or drowned. If an isolated case, in which a slaveholder treats his chattels like a father, and does not oppress them beyond endurance, is evidence that the enslavement of human beings is in accordance with humanity and Christian ethics, then a case like this one given, in which no one is destroyed by the conflagration, is evidence that there is not moral turpitude in the commission of arson.