Frederick Douglass' Paper
Unsigned Reprint
Rochester: 15 April 1853


  We have obtained liberty to publish the following extract of a letter to Mrs. H. B. Stowe, from Rev. John Angell James, of Birmingham. It will be read with interest by the many admirers in this country of that venerated man, and may serve to relieve the apprehensions which have been expressed by some, of the "anti-Christian and anti-ministerial" tendencies of Mrs. Stowe's work:—N. Y. Independent.

BIRMINGHAM, Feb. 15, 1853

  * * * It is no part of my intention to dwell long upon the literary phenomenon which has fallen on us like the manna in the camp of the Israelites, adapted to every taste, and relished by every palate. You must, my dear Madam, be almost surfeited with praise, and I will therefore offer you no more. But instead of glorifying you, will rather glorify God in you. He gave gifts to Bezalool and Aholiab for the service of the sanctuary, and to whom all the honor of their skill belonged has helped you to write this work, and none, I am sure, will be more ready than yourself to echo the ancient strains of humility, gratitude and praise, "Not unto us, O Lord but unto thy name, give glory."

  May I be allowed to refer to one or two passages, or rather, I should say, characters of the work, which go far beyond even the principal object which it contemplates—the vindication and relief of down-trodden slaves. The character of the martyred negro, the hero of the tale, is an embodiment of our holy religion. The world sees in him the true type of Christianity. In an age like ours, the active virtues of the Gospel stand out in alto relievo, while its passive, and far more difficult ones, are thrown back into shadow. And after all, is it not the meek, and gentle, and forgiving character, that is most like that of our divine Lord? Multitudes while sympathising with the injured slave, will thus learn the nature of real Christianity.

  Another character which has pleased me above most is that little imp of wickedness and mischief, from which slavery had almost crushed out the remains of humanity. O my dear Madam, I rose in a kind of rapture from the wondrous and felicitous skill of the mind and pen which could make even poor Topsy start up at the touch of the magic wand of love, a new creature in Christ Jesus. What an illustration, thought I, is here, of a passage of Scripture which contain the true philosophy both of humanity and the Gospel—"I drew them with cords of a man, with hands of love." Never was the motive power of man's nature more beautifully illustrated. You have taught the world a new lesson, how man is to be reformed and governed, even when sunk by oppression and by crime into this lowest depth of degradation, by the omnipotence of God.