Christian Inquirer
G. M.
New York: 22 April 1854


  BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE. Reprint of Leonard Scott & Co., New-York.

  To the Editors of the Christian Inquirer

  IN a late number of Blackwood is an appreciative, analytical criticism of "Uncle Tom," which does justice to the work and its author. This seemed a little remarkable, as anything approving of a reformatory work or movement is generally hardly to be looked for in its dignified pages. it is usually too much the case, that any topic looking to the amelioration of the condition of the working classes, either physical, educational, or moral, is treated ungenerously, and sometimes even scornfully in its pages; and the professed friends of these movements are often characterized as wanting in judgment, and even in honesty. But in the article referred to, full credit is given to the value of the work, as well as to the sincerity and capability of its lady author.

  The book itself is certainly one of the most remarkable in its production and history of any work that has ever been given to the public in our country. To be sure, its subject is one that has agitated and is still agitating our confederacy from the Atlantic to the Pacific--one that has heretofore tried the bonds of our Federal Government, and proved them to be as firm as adamant--one that has taxed the best thought of our most profound thinkers, and tried the ability of our most able statesmen; until every sound and impartial mind has come to the conclusion that slavery in the most professedly free country in the world is a great incongruity and a vast evil. The method by which its present limits are to be circumscribed, and the manner of its final removal, have taxed the minds of the wisest and most noble of the men of our time. That all free territory in a free country should remain absolutely and entirely free forever, seems perfectly clear. The present ferment among the people of our common country, which has been stirred up by the agitation in Congress of the Nebraska-Kansas question, and the threatened abolition of the Missouri Compromise, should be a warning to those immediately interested in the continuation of the institution of slavery, to forbear how they trespass upon the great principles of liberty in the consummation of this apparently unwarrantable attack on the rights of freedom--this attempt to subjugate the free soil of our vast forests and wide-spread prairies to the unholy uses of human bondage and unlimited servitude in this "land of the free and the home of the brave."

  That each State has entire control of its own internal affairs, must be conceded; and that the free States ought not to be in any way responsible for the maintenance of that anomalous institution where it does exist, is equally evident.

  How may slavery be obliterated in those parts of our Union where it does exist? It must be confessed, however unwelcome to some of the friends of immediate and unconditional emancipation, that the only apparently feasible way in which slavery can be removed, is by the peaceful action of the people themselves where the evil exists. But will the evil ever be thus removed? Undoubtedly, as certain as that truth will ultimately prevail over error.

"Truth crushed to earth will rise again

  No better evidence of the progress of opinion, in reference to this topic, in the slaveholding States themselves, can be had, than the continually increasing sensitiveness with which any reference to the matter is received by them. There is no doubt but they are awakening to correct views, and will ultimately, at no very far distant day, endeavor to inaugurate such measures as shall eventually rid them of the evil as completely as the States which have already freed themselves have done. Some of the best means of acquiring and spreading proper views on this topic, is the general circulation and reading of such works as Uncle Tom's Cabin, and the paper in which it first appeared, the National Era, and kindred publications.

  Mrs. Stowe has shown the hand of a master in her delineations of character, and the unity of purpose which she showed forth in the circumstances with which she surrounded them. While each character is complete in itself, their vividness is heightened by contrast; throughout the work, the most opposite characters are placed in juxtaposition. Thus we have Mr. Shelby and the heartless trader; Topsy and Eva; St. Clare and Legree, Miss Ophelia and Mrs. St. Clare--characters which set each other before us the more completely by their very dissimilarity. It is certain that a work which has so much of life breathed into it must have had a welcome reception, even if the enlightened nations of the world had not been so fully awake to the subject on which it treats as they were. The characters are as clearly delineated as are those created by the prolific mind of Dickens. And some of them will exist perhaps as long as "My Uncle Toby," and other creations of the masters of classic English literature.

  We close this article with a couple of extracts from what is said of the work and its author in Blackwood:

  Of one thing we are persuaded, that its author, as she has in this work displayed undoubted genius, in some respects of a higher order than any American predecessor or contemporary, is also a woman of unaffected and profound piety, and an ardent friend of the unhappy black. Ever word in her pages issues glistening and warm from the mint of woman's love and sympathy, refined an purified by Christianity. We never saw in any other work so many and such sudden irresistible appeals to the reader's heart--appeals which, moreover, only a wife and a mother could make. One's heart throbs, and one's eyes are suffused with tears, without a moment's notice, and without anything like effort or preparation on the writer's part. We are, on the contrary, soothed in our spontaneous emotion by a conviction of the writer's utter artlessness; and when once a gifted woman has satisfied her most captious reader that such is the case, she thenceforth leads him on, with an air of loving and tender triumph, a willing captive to the last. There are, indeed, scenes and touches in this book which no living writer that we know of can surpass, and perhaps none even equal.

Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin.

  This volume, [Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin,] is a word, we commend to the serious consideration of every reflecting European and Ame-


rican reader of Uncle Tom's Cabin. It were [illegible] to class among these latter those who read to indulge a spurious whimpering sentimentality, or to have a morbid curiosity stimulated and inflamed by scenes of suffering and horror. But the Christian statesman, the enlightened politician, in either hemisphere, is bound, we think, to deal with the existence of this book as a signal fact. Great as are its literary merits, they are by no means sufficient of themselves to account for the universal attention which it has excited. It is because--to descend to a homely illustration--this book has acted like the sudden flash of a policeman's lantern on a scene of secret midnight crime. It has painted in such vivid colors a condition of humanity hidden from European observation, as has attracted and fixed upon it the startled eyes of thinking Europe--of a free Christian people. In vain is it to hang beside it hasty recriminatory doubts of countervailing white slavery, or of the charms of slavery as exhibited by a quasi paradisiacal state where such monsters as Legree, Mrs. St. Clare, Haley, Marks, and Tom Loker exist not. All such attempts have already proved, as might have been anticipated, ridiculous failures, as far as they had been designed to stultify and falsify Uncle Tom's Cabin, and divert from it the stern eye of public morality. How to deal with slavery is a tremendous problem for enlightened Christian statesmanship. It cannot tolerate the meddling of an unfortunate, impulsive, unreasoning, unreflecting, however ardent and generous, so-called humanity. True humanity, in this instance, consists in a sincere, comprehensive, deliberate, and resolute effort to rouse the public opinion of America on behalf of its slave population; and we believe that public opinion will ere long find--with more embarrassment and danger the longer the discovery takes to be made--that slavery is an ulcer, a foul spreading ulcer, eating its way perilously to the very vitals of the body politic.

G M.