Criticism of Mrs. Stowe.
The following criticism of 'Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands,' which we find in Putnam's Monthly, hits the mark we think:
"It is a highly respectable book of travels, but nothing more. Had Mrs. Stowe been less of a notoriety, had she been permitted to see men and things for herself, and her time been less absorbed by formal ceremonies and visits, she would have produced a much better work. The parts relating to Scotland and England have really nothing fresh or new in them, and we doubt whether Mrs. Stowe saw anything of either Scotland or England, except certain classes in a state of paroxysm or temporary convulsion. She went to see the usual "sights"--Melrose, Abbotsford, Warwick, Stratford upon Avon, Windsor, Hawthornden, &c., but, evidently, without time to enjoy them, and in a state of mind unfitted to gather true or valuable impressions. Her descriptions are mostly meagre, and her remarks often commonplace, though nearly always pervaded by a tone of good sense. On the continent, where she gets more to herself, the interest of her letters increases, and we discover what an excellent book she might have given us, if this had been her first book, and she had travelled as plain Mrs. Stowe--not yet the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin."
No one can read Mrs. Stowe's book without a little disgust at her complacency toward the English aristocracy. There is manifest propriety in the following remarks by the reviewer above quoted:
"Mrs. Stowe was received in England, not by the people, but mainly by the aristocracy, and not as the author of a prize book, but as the exponent of a cause. If the homages paid to her had been rendered by the masses, and directed to her merits as a writer, every man, woman, and child in the United States would have been proud of the distinction she had won. But the jealous popular sense was quick to detect in those demonstrations a flagrant inconsistency, so far at least, as the English nobility were concerned. They were protests against the American slave-system by a class who themselves subsist by a systematic violation of human rights. It was seen at once that the Shaftesburys, Sutherlands, and Carlisles, whatever their individual virtues, and how sincere soever their philanthropy, had no right to assail the slaveholders of the South, because they sustain at home a structure of society essentially similar. In other words, the British aristocracy system, and the Southern aristocracy system, differ in degree, but scarcely in kind. They are both species of feudalism in principle, and both at war with democracy and Christianity. The British aristocrat who derives his wealth, his titles, his privileges, from the unequal operation of the laws, and who can transmit those privileges to his posterity as a possession, is an offender in the same sense in which the Southern slaveholder is, who derives his wealth and privileges from a similar inequality."
Mrs. S. has said, we believe, that 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' was the child of prayer; and there is evidently this distinction between her former production and the present--the first was written by inspiration, the last by Mrs. Stowe; or as Topsy would say, the first 'growed,' but the other was made.