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The National Anti-Slavery Standard
"D. H. W."
New York: 26 August 1852

COMMUNICATIONS: UNCLE TOM'S CABIN

  MR. EDITOR: Feeling a profound interest in Mrs. Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin," I wish to avow my feelings and thoughts in regard to it. I purchased the work on Saturday night, and the next morning I rose very early, and, believing that I should be as well employed in reading "Uncle Tom" as in attending any pro-slavery church in the vicinity, I commenced Vol. I., and closed it—read every word of it—before I retired. On Monday morning, I commenced Vol. II early, and read until school time—resumed it at the close of the afternoon session, and read the remainder by 10 or 11 o'clock, P.M., and can truly say that it is to me the most pathetic, touching, and thrilling human composition that I ever read. The contemplation of many things recorded in few words and comparatively simple and plain style in the Book of sacred lore—as, for instance, the love of God, and the birth, life, love, sufferings and death of Christ—is of thrilling, momentous, and transcendent interest to the devout contemplative mind, as the plain pictures are coloured and made life-like by the imagination. But, in "Uncle Tom's Cabin," they are "drawn to the life"—life-like daguerreotypes of Slavery as it is, and drawn in such vivid colours that no time for reflection or aid of fancy is needed to fill out the picture, for, soon as it strikes the eye, it becomes truly, to the mental ken a tangible, "living dramatic reality." I can fully, and with all my heart and soul endorse the glowing eulogy which you, sir, and thousands of others have bestowed upon the work, and can say with one of your editorial brethren, that "the man that can read 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' without shedding tears should be commended to Barnum." It appears to me certain that, to many that are indifferent or ignorant in reference to the evils of Slavery, it will be a trumpet blast to rouse their attention and incite them to action, and that to many Negro-hating, Slavery defenders or apologists, whose hearts are apparently as hard as the nether millstone or adamantine rock, it will be as Moses' rod was to Horeb—that it will cause the fount of sympathy to gush forth from hearts unused to feel and eyes unused to weep—at least for the poor slave. I have, for over 10 years, been an almost constant reader on the Slavery question. I have read, and still read, both sides of it—Anti-Slavery and Pro-Slavery. I have eagerly read the writings and speeches of Garrison, Giddings, Phillips, Parker, Beecher, Douglass, May, Hale, and many others,

"Whose eloquence has raised the soul to flame—
Caught every nerve and quivered through the frame."

and made the "veins run lightning"—but without bating a jot of the merit which I accord to them, or the esteem with which I regard them, or meaning aught of disparagement, I must say that, in exciting and retaining a powerful hold on the sympathies and causing tears to flow, it surpasses any and every thing besides that I have ever met with, especially that part which relates to the death of little Eva. Those parts of the work which appeal to our mirthfulness are, perhaps, nearly or quite as graphically drawn as any of the rest, and are almost as great a tax upon our risibilities as the pathetic parts are upon our sympathies. The pathetic parts of it naturally, and it would seem almost irresistibly, excite unutterable emotions of sympathy for the oppressed, and amazement at the turpitude and cruelty of the oppressor. By the term oppressor, I mean men at the North as well as South—men who preach or palliate as well as those who practice oppression—inasmuch as they are particeps criminis, and more guilty in fact than the South. I read much of the book with tearful eyes and heaving breast. I have shed more tears over it than I ever did over any and all other books together. Unlike the common, trashy, ephemeral novels of the day, it is calculated to do something more than make the reader weep over tales of "Love and Murder," and immoral tragical stories of moral life, inasmuch as it is thoroughly imbued with a moral and religious tone, and is thereby eminently calculated "to wake the genius and to mend the heart." It does seem as if no person, at the North especially, could be so hard-hearted as to read it unmoved, much less to cavil with it and treat it with indifference or contempt. But, so it is. There are instances of the kind even among the professed followers of the blessed Saviour, not only among politicians and printers, but among priests and people. The New York Observer, one of the more popular so-called religious journals—one which wields a potent influence in the community—notices it in a cavilling way. But, surprising as this may be to some not conversant with such pro-slavery papers as the Observer, Journal of Commerce, and the Express, it is "no more than was expected" by those who closely watch their course. They palliate and virtually defend Slavery, and advocate slave-catching, and pervert and press in the Bible to their support, and in all this they are backed up by such "reverend," time-serving pharisees as Drs. Spring, Lord, Cox and Dewey, and are cheek-by-jowl with Bennett's Herald, which, though a powerful panderer to vice and a willing receptacle of blackguardism, sophistry, slander and slang, is perhaps, after all, morally as good as the Observer. How humiliating it is to see religious teachers and religious editors—"falsely so called"—exhibit such lamentable moral obtuseness and turpitude, such as we should expect to find only in the most avowedly irreligious and unprincipled scoundrels! To see them "put on the livery of the court of Heaven to serve the devil in," and, in the sacred garb of religion, propagate as rank infidelity and atheism "as was ever spawned from hell!" But, humiliating as these things are, let no philanthropist be the least dejected, when there is such a general waking up and growing interest on the subject of Slavery. Mrs. Stowe's work has given a powerful impulse to the glorious Cause, and, despite time-serving politicians, presses and priests, the work will have a lasting influence. Many who were too prejudiced or too timid to read an Anti-Slavery paper or pamphlet have been induced by the quaintness of the title of the work and its unprecedented popularity to peruse it, and are now strong Anti-Slavery. As Abolitionists, let us thank God and take courage, resolved to be "faithful unto death" in the advancement of the righteous Cause; and let us not cease to invoke the speedy coming of the glorious time, "foretold in prophecy and invoked in poetry," when Truth, Right and Righteousness shall universally prevail, when

"Prone to the dust, Oppression shall be hurled;
Her name and nature withered from the world!"

  August 1, 1852.

D. H. W****