"Uncle Tom" at the South
A book which attracts so much attention, and is exercising so deep an influence, both at home and abroad, as Mrs. Stowe's 'Uncle Tom,' must needs find its way into the dark region of the South, sometimes, we may hope, to do good, often, we know, to be met with such welcome as has always been given to any sincere and efficient testimony against Slavery. We know personally of copies that have found their way to the extreme South, and have heard of single copies being kept in active though secret circulation in a circle of friends, all of whom awaited their turn impatiently, and read the book with great eagerness when it reached them. Its truthfulness, of course, is frequently denied, but is not unfrequently acknowledged. We have heard of one instance, though, of course, we cannot vouch for the truth of the story, where a lady openly avowed her intention of emancipating her slaves, after reading the book; and in another case—and here our information was more direct—we have heard of a slaveholder, in one of the Atlantic States, declaring that public opinion there would not tolerate such a brute as Legree, though he did not deny that his was a very possible existence at the South West.
The leading literary Periodical of the South has condescended to devote its pages, in a long review, to 'Uncle Tom,' and its slashing character has found such acceptance with the pro-slavery party here as to command a republication, in this city, in pamphlet form. Similar notices appear, from time to time, in Southern journals, according as they are blessed with ability and venom. Sometimes, however, there is one of another class, and one of this last we find in the Georgetown (Kentucky) Herald, of Oct. 28th, which is worth copying:
UNCLE TOM'S CABIN, BY H. B. STOWE
"Good books, like good actions, best explain themselves," and in the work before us the "good" is quite comprehensive enough to ensure its appreciation! but we are so accustomed to accounts of the "horrors of Slavery," we repeatedly have before us such lacerating descriptions of floggings and burnings to death, done under its black shadow, that it is necessary to explain that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" consists of no such dreadful details. It is at once at impartial statement of the case as regards Slavery, and a gracefully told tale of human life and human hearts, glowing with heavenly colours, and full of the force and power which nature and truth impart. The delineation of character is as simple as it is exquisite in its touches. In the "haughty southron" of New Orleans, of French and aristocratic English descent, with his generous sympathies and lavish liberality, as well as in the soul-grinding planter whose heart has reached the last stage of callosity in the exercise of irresponsible power, and no less in the serene but active and practical Quaker matron of the North than in the languid lady of the Italian latitudes, wearied to apathy by the satiety of wealth, we can trace the varied and combined influences of nature and circumstance. Character, whether in black, delicately discriminated by his gifted pen, the stern integrity and touching piety of the hero, "Uncle Tom," claim our sincere respect; the graceful and ingenuous quadroons interest us immediately; the New England lady is a very ideal of respectable old maidenhood; and the natural drollery of the negro character admits a clown into the corps dramatique; while our tenderest sympathies are awakened by the trembling sensibility and angelic nature of the beautiful little Evangeline, and in each and all we recognize real portraits from the great gallery of nature. There are some most life-like home scenes and conversations, and the changes and turn of the letters are managed with an ease and grace which, with the elegance of the style, give the book a charm as a merely literary and artistic performance. We shall merely premise that the tale runs in so fluent a stream that detached extracts must needs lose much of their force and beauty when read apart from the "before and after."