THERE may still be found, here and there, we have no doubt, some well-meaning and simple persons who really believe the allegation once so common, but which few have the hardihood now to make, that the real objection to the Anti-Slavery movement is, not its aim, but the manner in which it is conducted; and, as the race of fools is never-ending, so incorrigible and thick-headed individuals will be extant till the fact that Slavery ever existed on this continent is altogether forgotten. There is no truer scripture than that if 'a fool is brayed in a mortar, yet will his foolishness not depart from him.'
That the real difficulty is, not in the method pursued by the advocates of Emancipation, but in the fact that they are advocates at all of such a cause, is sufficiently proved by its progress for twenty years, and the obstacles it has encountered and overcome. From the commencement to this moment, it has met with the most violent opposition, and that without regard to the character of those who sought to advance it. The rough, uncompromising, even violent denunciator of the 'sum of all villainies' has been as certain of a welcome from the public as the mildest and gentlest of women, who spoke in sorrow, and appealed for pity's sake for her wretched and outraged sister-slave.
The truth of this recurs to us for the thousandth time on taking up the last No. of the New York Observer. No paper in the country has been, since such a thing was known in the land as earnest, and hearty Anti-Slavery, its more bitter enemy; and it has never spared any appeal to the passions, to the prejudices, to the lowest interests which may move the multitude, to array against it the same violent hatred by which it was itself governed. The Liberator—and we can say no more than this—has not been more earnest against the system of human bondage, than the Observer has been, almost madly, insanely, devoted to its defence. Those who have read and believed in that paper for the last twenty years, must hold this as a cardinal principle of their faith—that the Son of God was sent into the world to prepare the way for the existence of the benign institution of American Chattelism, and that the Providence of God from the beginning had only this aim, that in the progress of the ages mankind should be fitted to receive this beneficent relation between man and man.
No argument or plea that its own ingenuity could devise, or that its curious researches could discover, has ever been omitted by the Observer, either in its defense of Slavery or against the Abolitionists. Among them, of course, has stood pre-eminent the canting and hypocritical assertion, to which we have referred, that it was not Anti-Slavery, but its advocates, to which it objected. Doubtless there are some who have been deceived by this specious excuse, and to that degree that so long as they live they will believe that all those, no matter who, who seek the Abolition of Slavery, are the worst enemies of that cause. They are of that class referred to in the Scripture we have quoted.
But the real animus of the Observer is made apparent, though by no means for the first time, in its last No. That remarkable book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, if remarkable for one thing more than another, is so because it is careful never to do injustice to the slaveholders as a class, and because, in its portraiture of the system, it keeps not merely within the bounds of probability and possibility, but that it falls far short of the appalling, but incontrovertible fact. Thus much justice, one would suppose, everybody, not actually a Legree or a Haley, would do the author. But the Observer can find in the book neither a rightful purpose nor an honest pursuit of it, and ignoring, or perhaps not understanding the truth, that Slavery is the enemy of humanity, and therefore of true religion, it can see in it nothing but a covert attack upon that sort of piety of which it is the fit and proper organ. It finds that Uncle Tom's Cabin is an irreligious book, because it exposes the cant of slave-holding piety, and deems it mischievous and impious because it recognizes goodness without Orthodoxy, and will not take it for granted that a man is a saint because he is a Presbyterian parson, who maintains that Slavery is in accordance with the Law of God, and who will gladly put in his pocket the price of a brother or sister in Christ sold on the auction block, for, no matter what purpose. Of such a paper, or rather of such an editor of a paper, there is no hope. Fortunately for his own happiness he will probably not live long enough to see the entire Abolition of Slavery in this world; it is not for us to consider his wretched condition when he shall be permitted a glimpse of the next, and find that there it does not exist.
The occasion which the Observer seizes to promulgate its opinion of the Anti-Christian character of Mrs. Stowe's book is quite as characteristic as the opinion itself. We published, some time since, a correspondence from The Independent, between the Rev. Joel Parker and Mrs. Stowe, in which the former explained away, or endeavored to do so, the apparent meaning of some remarks of his on the Fugitive Slave Law, quoted in Uncle Tom's Cabin. This correspondence was, the Observer asserts, so far as Dr. Parker is concerned, a forgery, and that paper does not hesitate to charge it upon Henry Ward Beecher, or Mrs. Stowe, or both. The inevitable conclusion of any honest mind in such a case would be, that there was a mistake somewhere, susceptible of easy explanation, if inquiry were made. It suits our pious neighbour to make the charge, and let it make the impression on those whom it chooses to influence. The explanation may come afterward; perhaps it will accept it, perhaps not; but the mischief it meant to do, can not then be undone. The method too, in which the charge is brought, is quite in keeping with the whole proceeding. A controversy is going on between The Independent and the Observer, on some question relating to Orthodoxy, with which Mrs. Stowe and her book have no more to do than they have with the question of a North-West passage. On the point in controversy, the Observer is sure, no doubt, of the sympathy of its readers; on the other point, perhaps, of the character of Mrs. Stowe's book, it is not so sure. So it hopes by bringing in this story by the head and shoulders, and calling to its aid the prejudice and conviction of its readers on a question of Church Government to subserve its never-lost-sigh-of and never-to-be-forgotten purpose of upholding Slavery. The Observer's statement we give in its own words:
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Mrs. Stowe, has been read by thousands, and almost universally praised by the newspapers reviewing it. The Vermont Chronicle, after a column of high eulogy, very modestly ventures a criticism, as if it were next to a sin to find fault with such a book, and says:
"A more important criticism relates to the writer's treatment of the Christian ministry. Here she has given the worst without the best. No white minister of the Gospel is put in a respectable position, except one young man in a single instance; and he makes no impression. The impression generally made by the book must, we think, be decidedly anti-ministerial; which, of course, with a father, a husband, and half a dozen brothers in the ministry, the writer cannot have intended."
We have read the book and regard it as "anti-Christian," on the same grounds that the Chronicle regards it as "decidedly anti-ministerial." We have marked numerous passages in which religion is spoken of in terms of contempt, and in no case is religion represented as making a master more humane, while Mrs. Stowe is careful to present the indulgent and amiable masters as men without religion. This taint pervades the work, just as it does the writings of all the modern school of philanthropy. It is essentially a non-religious, if not an anti-evangelical school. Mrs. Stowe labours through all her book to render ministers odious and contemptible, by attributing to them sentiments unworthy of men or Christians. In no case, however, does she venture to give her authority for the atrocious doctrines she charges upon them, except in a single instance, where she places, in a foot-note, the name of Rev. Joel Parker, D.D., now of this city. Thousands of her book had been read with this charge against Dr. Parker, before he knew that he was thus travelling over the country, gibbeted as a monster by the pen of a lady philanthropist. So soon as he was informed of the bad distinction he had acquired, Dr. Parker wrote a letter to Mrs. Stowe, informing her that she had been misled by erroneous information, and offered to put the proof into her hands, that he was not the author of the sentiment she had attributed to him. Mrs. Stowe took no notice of his letter. Dr. Parker wrote to her again. Mrs. Stowe deigned no reply. Dr. Parker wrote the third time. Mrs. Stowe now replied in a defiant tone, and affirmed that she had documentary evidence and living witnesses to prove that Dr. Parker had uttered the sentiments which she had imputed to him. Finding that no sort of justice could be reached in the lady-author, Dr. Parker employed the most eminent legal counsel, and with good advice resolved to commence an action of libel against Mrs. Stowe, laying damages at $20,000! This was a new argument which the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin had not expected. She addressed a note in gentle terms to the injured Dr.; this led to an interview in which she admitted that she had imputed to him words and sentiments which were not his, but justified herself on the ground that she had been misled by the newspapers. At this point the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher stepped in to assist his sister in getting Dr. Parker out of Uncle Tom's Cabin. $20,000 would make a sad hole in the profits of that book of fiction, and by some means the matter must be mended. Shortly after that interference was the publication in the N. Y. Tribune and the Independent, June 24, of the following letters:
"UNCLE TOM'S CABIN."—Mrs. H. B. Stowe has requested us to publish the following correspondence:
"MRS. H. B. STOWE—Dear Madam, I write to ask an interview with you at such time as may be convenient, for the purpose of laying before you such evidence as will, I think, satisfy you that you have been misled in quoting, in your recent work, Uncle Tom's Cabin, certain language as mine.
"I feel deeply aggrieved by the use made of that paragraph, and am sure that you will not refuse to right me before the public when I shall have laid the whole matter before you. I am with great respect,
"Yours, JOEL PARKER."
"Dr. JOEL PARKER—Dear Sir: I have attentively considered the papers which you left for my examination. I am quite satisfied that the language quoted (page 191, vol. I of Uncle Tom's Cabin) conveys a meaning widely different from that which you intended to express in the articles which I have read; and you will allow me to say that my mind is greatly relieved from a painful conviction which I innocently but so far as you were concerned, unjustly entertained in regard to your real views.
"It is due to myself, however, to state that I did not carelessly employ the language attributed to you. It was published first in American newspapers, re-quoted in English journals, (The British Banner being one.) It was understood to have been employed in a large meeting of Congregational clergymen in England, as one of the evidences of the complicity of American ministers with slavery. It appeared next in the letter of the English correspondent of The Independent, and finally was embodied in the annual report of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1851. During all this time you had never publicly retracted the truth of this representation, and I understood your silence to be an admission of its correctness.
"While, therefore, I do not see how I could have acted with more caution in employing an allegation which had become historical, I am yet heartily glad to find that a sentiment so shocking to every Christian mind is not yours.
I shall order the immediate alteration of the paragraph in question, and shall be glad in any other way which shall appear proper, to set you right before the public.
"I am, dear Sir, respectfully yours, H. B. STOWE."
"Mrs. H. B. STOWE—My Dear Madam: I thank you for your prompt kindness in examining the documents which I submitted to you, and for the favorable opinions which you express. If you will allow me to publish your letter, I think that that will be all that is needed to place me right in regard to this unpleasant affair.
"I am, with unabated esteem, yours, JOEL PARKER."
—Now, what will be the surprise of every reader, not of the Abolition school, when we state, as we now do, that Dr. Parker assures us that he never wrote one word of the above letters; that he never signed his name to one of them, that he never authorized their publication, that he was as much surprised as any one else could be, when he heard that such letters were in the newspapers. Rev. H. W. Beecher called on him, and in his (Dr. Parker's) house, drew up certain letters as if between Mrs. S. And Dr. P., and proposed to Dr. P. to adopt those in his name as his own; Dr. P. Informed Mr. B. that he would take the matter into consideration, consult his legal advisor into whose hands he had placed the business, and as he (Dr. P.) had no wish to obtain Mrs. Stowe's money, but merely justice, he hoped that by some such method the whole matter might be settled. With this, Mr. B. took his departure, and shortly afterwards the letters quoted above appeared in the Tribune and the Independent. Dr. P. presumes (though he does not know) that the letters are the same which Mr. Beecher showed him in his house: but Dr. P. affirms that no inducement would have led him to write, or sign his name to, such letters as those ascribed to him, nor to accept of Mrs. Stowe's as satisfactory.
This statement is made, first, to show the "morality of modern ultraism in general, and Uncle Tom's Cabin in particular;" and, secondly, that a case may be made out against Mr. Beecher on another question, with which this question of veracity between him and Dr. Parker can have nothing to do whatever. That Mr. Beecher will blow the whole story to the winds, within a week, we have no manner of doubt; we publish it as an instructive episode in the history of the Cause.