ART. VI.—LITERATURE OF SLAVERY.
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or Life among the Lowly. By HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.
The White Slave; or Memoirs of a Fugitive. By RICHARD HILDRETH.
Life at the South; or "Uncle Tom's Cabin" as it is. Being narratives, scenes, and incidents in the real "Life of the Lowly." By W. L. G. SMITH.
Aunt Phillis's Cabin; or Southern Life as it is. By Mrs. MARY H. EASTMAN.
"Uncle Tom's Cabin," contrasted with Buckingham Hall, the Planter's Home; or a fair view of both sides of the Slavery Question. By ROBERT CRISWELL, Esq., Author of "Letters from the South and West."
Studies on Slavery, in easy lessons. Compiled into eight studies, and subdivided into short lessons for the convenience of readers. By JOHN FLETCHER of Louisiana.
WE may be excused from reviewing, after the ordinary fashion of reviewers, a book, which has already had some millions of readers. It is with no such intention that we inscribe on our pages the title of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Doubtless, the literary merits of that work are as legitimate a subject of critical discussion, as the merits of Waverley or Hamlet. Any critic has as good a right to show, if he can show, that the public in two hemispheres is altogether mistaken, in regard to Mrs. Stowe, as a certain ancient critic had to disabuse the Greeks of their prejudice in favor of Homer, or as the Cockney in Punch had to profess the opinion, that Shakspeare is "a very much over-rated man." We have no controversy with those critics. If Mrs. Stowe's reputation as a writer cannot stand against their assaults, it may go down, for aught that we shall do in its defense.
But without entering at all into the questions, whether Mrs. Stowe is a woman of genius, whether the book which has drawn
tears from millions of eyes, and touched the deepest sympathies in millions of hearts, is written according to the rules "in
such case made and provided;" whether Uncle Tom is more an impossibility than Dickens's Oliver Twist, or little
Eva, than Dickens's Nelly; we may say in passing, that unfortunately for the critics who have attempted to set the public right about Uncle Tom's Cabin, there is something in all their strictures, which betrays too plainly the aim and motive. Any reader of those criticisms must be exceedingly unwary, if the manifest motive with which they are written, does not put him on his guard. Mrs. Stowe has done what multitudes would much rather she had not done. She has made the public realize, to a most alarming extent, the unspeakable wickedness of American Slavery. She has told, in general, nothing more than what all intelligent persons knew well enough before—nothing but what is included in the dull common-place facts, that there are, in the southern and south-western states, more than three millions of slaves; that these slaves are by law the absolute property of their masters, bought and sold, like any other merchandise, without any inquiry as to their consent, or any regard to their interests or affections; that like any other chattels they are liable to be seized and sold for their owners' debts; that a regular commerce in human beings sweeps away every year almost the whole annual increase of the slave population in the slave states north of the southern border of Virginia, and tearing them by sheer violence from their native soil, and all the objects of their affection, puts them to labor in the cotton-fields and cane-fields of the remoter south; that the power of the master over his slaves, whether male or female, whether born in his possession or purchased with his money—his power to compel their labor, and to inflict punishment, not only for disobedience to any of his expressed desires, but in mere passion or caprice—is without any practical limit other than his own sense of right, his regard for the value of his property, and his dread of public opinion; and finally, that some hundreds of these poor people, every year, escape by flight, through the northern states, to the free soil of Canada. On most persons these general statements produce no deep or definite impression. The hear these comprehensive facts, or read them, without any distinct emotion—just as they read or hear the summary of some great battle which was fought, three thousand miles off, a hundred years ago. But Mrs. Stowe has brought the dreadful meaning of these facts into contact with millions of minds. Touched by her pictorial pen, the dull statistics of slavery and the slave-trade, in our common country, flash into a terrible illumination. The effect is not merely like that of the skull from the field of Blenheim, which the children brought to "old Caspar when his work was done;" it is rather as if, instead of reading the
cold summary of the numbers in the armies on that field, and of the numbers of the killed and wounded, we were placed by some terrible clairvoyance, in the midst of the battle itself, eye-witnesses and ear-witnesses of horrors which history cannot tell. This is what gives offense. There are too many who are not willing to be pained and troubled in this way, and who for various reasons are still more unwilling to see the people, generally, getting any vivid impression of what kind of particulars are included in the statistics of American slavery. So to them it seems desirable that the credit and circulation, the renown and influence, of Uncle Tom's Cabin, should be as much as possible diminished. In their judgment, therefore, the critic who shall succeed in convincing the public that Mrs. Stowe, after all is a woman of no great genius, and that the purchasers and readers of her book have strangely thrown away their time and money, will be a public benefactor. And this sort of motive reveals itself upon the surface of much that has been written to depreciate the literary merits of the book. In order that such criticism may answer its purpose, the motive, the hostile intent, should be more skillfully concealed.
Besides, it may be suggested to these critics, that the success of Uncle
Tom's Cabin, a success entirely without parallel in the history of literature, is a phenomenon to be accounted for. Admit
that in its dramatic representation of life and character, in its picturesque descriptions, and in its touches and good humored
satire, it is equal to any book of its class—to Nicholas Nickelby, for example, or Barnaby Rudge, while in its appeals to
the moral sense, and to all the highest sensibilities of our nature, it surpasses all that Dickens has ever written or is
capable of writing; and there is no great difficulty in accounting for the phenomenon. But when we begin to depreciate the
book, as a work of genius and of art, when we convince ourselves and others that it is after all only a commonplace performance,—what
is the conclusion to which the argument conducts us? Have we not been told a thousand times that all questions about slavery
in this country have been "finally" adjusted. Have we not been assured with great solemnity, that there is be no more "agitation"
of this delicate subject? Have not the chief political leaders, in Congress and elsewhere, affirmed and reaffirmed the finality
of the compromise; and humbled themselves and "eaten dirt," in honor of slavery, as if they were the true children of him
on whom was pronounced the sentence, "upon thy belly shalt thou go, and
dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life?" Have not the
great political parties in their most solemn assemblies vied with each other in
paying homage to the slave-trading interest, and in bidding for the votes which that interest controls? Have not our most judicious and most honored theologians given their influence to the effort for pacification, demonstrating from the Scriptures and from the "greatest happiness" principle, that it is right to legislate for the establishment and support of slavery? Has it not been a topic of rejoicing in all quarters, north and south, that the unfortunate excitement about slavery is effectually allayed; and that the people are satisfied with southern institutions, and will henceforth be quite willing that such institutions should be extended and upheld by national legislation? Ah! what a mistake! The people are satisfied—are they? They have made up their minds—have they?—that slavery in the United States is well enough, and that nobody need trouble himself about it. What then is the meaning of this phenomenon? A book is published, of no extraordinary merit—as you say—describing in a picturesque but common-place-way, "Life among the Lowly," as the life of the lowly is affected by the slave-trade; and behold the pent up feeling of the public mind, bursts forth like the letting out of waters. Presses driven by steam cannot multiply copies fast enough to meet the demand. Steamboats and steam-cars cannot convey them rapidly enough to the readers that are crowding to the book-shops in every free state of the Union. The more you depreciate the literary merits of this book, the more impressive is the lesson, taught us by its success, as to the sensibility of the public mind, on the question of slavery.
In truth, the wisest thing for those who do not like the phenomenon of the popular favor with which Uncle Tom's Cabin has
been received, is to commend the book as an unparalleled work of genius, and to insist that Mrs. Stowe, by the mere power
of her creative imagination, has completely baffled "the best laid schemes" of compromising statesmen. If we are to believe
that the whole current of public opinion in the free states was against the continued or renewed discussion of slavery, and
that there was never more to be any difficulty in getting the consent of the people to whatever the interests of the slave-trade
might demand, we must also believe that Mrs. Stowe's book made its appearance in circumstances most unfavorable to its success.
The tears which it has drawn from millions of eyes, the sense of a "higher law," which it has wakened in millions of minds,
and the deep and ineffaceable conviction of the wickedness of slavery, which it has stamped upon millions of hearts—at the
very time when all agitation was so completely and forever buried, and when political
orators and editors, and Baltimore Conventions, Whig and Democratic, were getting everything so nicely adjusted for a silent acquiescence of the whole people, in whatever might next be proposed for the extension of the slave-trade—are an achievement beyond the highest aspirings of genius. An entire people has been moved to feel, to think, to discuss the question of slavery, against its own resolute determination to the contrary—a determination which had been formed deliberately under the advice of Union Safety Committees, urging the highest considerations of commercial and political expediency.
But how shall the influence of Uncle Tom's Cabin be neutralized? How shall the multitudes whom it has compelled to realize the necessary and intrinsic wickedness of slavery, and in whose hearts it has wakened an intense desire to see that system of organized injustice pass away, be made to feel again that, after all, slavery, properly "disguised," is not "a bitter draught?" How shall the people be brought once more to that hopeful and amiable state of feeling, in which the existing fugitive-slave law, with all the villanies and atrocities which must inevitably attend the execution of it, shall cease to offend their moral sense? How shall that state of public opinion be maintained, in which the people shall receive calmly, and with cheerful acquiesence, the next great movement for increasing the price of slaves, and stimulating that great branch of our national industry, the growth of human beings for sale? These are grave questions; and evidence is not wanting that they have been very seriously considered in some quarters. Various methods of proceeding have been resorted to—with what success, will appear doubtless in due time. Uncle Tom's Cabin has been stigmatized as an "Abolitionist" book, and its author has been represented as moved and instigated by the "rabid spirit of Abolitionism." It has been charged with gross falsehood in the representations which it makes of slavery. Religious newspapers, so called, of the widest circulation, and of the highest pretensions, have not been ashamed to co-operate in this base work, with the most unscrupulous organs of political faction. Volume after volume has been published, (we have given the titles of a few at the head of this article,) and volume after volume is announced for publication, with the patriotic purpose of vindicating the blessed and patriarchal institution of American slavery, against the fanatical misrepresentations of Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe. Generally the most conclusive answer to any of these assaults is a reperusal of the book.
Take, for example, the first and, most frequent imputation thrown upon it for the purpose of impairing its credit, and
counteracting the impression which it produces, viz—that it is written in the interest of the "Abolitionists," and in "the rabid spirit of Abolitionism." The purpose of this imputation is, to identify the book and its author with the distinctive doctrines and the obnoxious measures of the Anti-slavery Societies—a purpose simply malicious. Uncle Tom's Cabin is an Abolitionist book in no other sense than that in which that great conservative body, the Presbyterian Church, has proclaimed itself Abolitionist by a reiterated solemn "deliverance" proceeding from its supreme judicatory. Says the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, "We consider the voluntary enslaving of one part of the human race by another, as a gross violation of the most precious and sacred rights of human nature; as utterly inconsistent with the law of God, which requires us to love our neighbor as ourselves; and as utterly irreconcilable with the spirit and principles of the Gospel of Christ which enjoin, that 'all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.'" Furthermore, it is testified by the same Assembly in the same declaration of opinion—a testimony which not only remains unrevoked, but has been reaffirmed by both fragments of the Presbyterian body since the schism of 1838, "It is manifestly the duty of all Christians who enjoy the light of the present day, when the inconsistency of slavery, both with the dictates of humanity and religion, has been demonstrated, and is generally seen and acknowledged, to use their honest, earnest, and unwearied endeavors, to correct the errors of former times, and as speedily as possible to efface this blot on our holy religion, and to obtain the COMPLETE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY throughout Christendom, and, if possible, throughout the world." If this is Abolitionism, then doubtless Uncle Tom's Cabin is an Abolitionist book. But this is not what is intended when the mad dog cry of "Abolitionism" is raised against Mrs. Stowe, by Presbyterian doctors and journalists? No! if they are not consciously paltering in a double sense, they mean to charge her with holding the doctrines and approving the measures of the Anti-slavery Societies; or at least they mean to charge her with something very unlike the authoritative teaching of their own Church, on the subject in question.
This charge we have said is simply malicious. Hatred of the book and of the strong appeal which it makes to the moral sense
against the institution of slavery, is the only reason for such an imputation. The representation which the book gives of
southern society, and of the condition and treatment of slaves generally, is not at all in the same style with the representations
ordinarily made by writers of the technically "Anti-Slavery"
sort. Of all the attempts which have been made to show the bright side of the negro's life in slavery, the representation of Uncle Tom's home, and of the slaves on Mr. Shelby's estate, is incomparably the fairest and the most attractive. Nor is the condition of Mr. Shelby's slaves represented as exceptional. The reader gets no other impression than that such is the ordinary life of slaves, whose lot it is to live and die upon their native soil, bound to each other and to their master's family, by the natural affection which springs from early and kindly association. Uncle Tom's lot in life before the accursed slave-trader makes his appearance, is a happy one. Aunt Chloe is a proud and happy woman. Eliza Harris is a happy wife and mother. What reader fails to honor Mrs. Shelby as a woman of true nobility, or to sympathize with her in the embarrassments and vexations of her lot? How true to nature, and how beautiful an illustration of the fairest side of life in the aristocratic families of the South, is the mutual affection between "young Mas'r George" and those humble friends of his, the inmates of the cabin! That prayer-meeting too, in the cabin, with "Mas'r George" reading the Bible to his black friends—how beautiful the picture! Who that desires to defend slave-holders and society at the south, against the aspersions of Anti-slavery lecturers, would ask for a more favorable or more attractive representation than that of the Shelby family, and the intercourse between them and the cheerful and contented peasantry on their estate. No Abolitionist, in the sense in which Abolitionism is imputed to Uncle Tom's Cabin, has ever made such a representation of the relations and affections between masters and slaves. No Abolitionist, in that sense, would be likely to admit the possibility of such a slave-holder as St. Clare.
One essential trait of Abolitionism, in the obnoxious meaning of the word, is opposition to the idea of African colonization.
The origin of what is known as the Anti-slavery movement, was characterized by a bitter hostility to that idea, and to all
its friends. Nor has the anti-colonization element of the Anti-slavery Societies been effectually mitigated by all the years
that have passed since that controversy began. To this day the opponents of slavery, including all those equivocal persons
in the free states, who desire to profess, now and then, an opposition to slavery, are of two classes, Colonizationists and
the adversaries of colonization; and the name Abolitionist, in the obnoxious meaning of it, is never given to a Colonizationist
without an intention to bear false witness. But this book of Mrs. Stowe's is distinctively a Colonization book. It develops
and illustrates most impressively by the significant fact, that the
people of African descent in the United States, though among the American people, and though in some states admitted to a perfect equality of political as well as civil rights, are, in a most important sense, not of the American people. It shows that the tie which connects the injured mulatto or quadroon with his dark mother's kindred, in affection and aspiration, is far stronger than that which connects him with the proud and domineering race of his white father. It shows that a distinct nationality is the object of a natural yearning with the free and enlightened Africo-American, whatever the shade of his complexion. To call such a book an Abolitionist book, meaning to stigmatize it with the odium which that name has acquired from its application, to the distinctive principles and measures of the Anti-slavery Societies, is a trick of calumny "as easy as lying."
Another distinction of Abolitionism, in the sense in which Abolitionism is opposed to colonization, is that no slave-holder, in any circumstances—no person who consents to be the legal owner of a slave, may be recognized as exhibiting a Christian character. With them, for example, the question about the application of church censures to slave-owners, is not a question of treatment or of conduct at all, but only a question of relationship. With them it is an axiom, that the person who holds, or at the very least the person who consents to hold the relation of a master, under the laws of a slave-holding state, is guilty of all the injustice of those laws. But how far is the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin from any sympathy with such reasoning? When Miss Ophelia, with all her Vermont prejudices against slavery, with all her shrewd New England sense, and all the inflexible strength of her conscientiousness, becomes herself a slave-holder—assumes and sustains that relation, in obedience to manifest duty—is that such a story as an "Abolitionist" would like to tell?
The charge that Uncle Tom's Cabin gives a false representation of slavery, as slavery actually exists in this country, might be understood as only the charge of Abolitionism in another count; but it is attended with specifications which forbid us so to regard it. Thus, since we began the preparation of this article, there comes to us, in the New York Observer of Oct. 21st, a column from the New York Courier and Enquirer, making solemn averment that "Uncle Tom's Cabin is a fiction in every sense of the word," and repeating that averment in such terms as the following:
"It is not only untrue, but it is untruthful. It conveys erroneous impressions, it introduces false conclusions. It is not, as it purports to be, a picture of slavery as
The journal to which this is credited has a character for mendacity and for general unscrupulousness on the part of its chief editor, unsurpassed, we believe, with one exception, in the existing journalism of this country. What the Courier and Enquirer may say, is of little consequence with intelligent people in any quarter, till it is endorsed by somebody with a better reputation. But when the New York Observer, a religious newspaper of high reputation, entering weekly into about seventeen thousand families, (many of whom have taken it so long that they regard it as almost equal to the Catechism in authority,) transfers this matter to its own columns, and gives it circulation as good reading for religious families, it is worth while to inquire what foundation there is for such charges? Till the Observer shall have sunk from the high standing it once had to the level of its new confederate—which can hardly be so long as the names of the excellent men who once conducted it, and who raised it to its high standing, are not withdrawn from it—we need not be ashamed to examine a statement for which it has made itself responsible.
The specifications, under the general charge, are these: "Her story is so devised as to present slavery in three dark aspects—first, the cruel treatment of the slaves; second, the separation of families; and third, their want of religious instruction." Let us see how the first of these specifications is sustained:
'To show the first she causes a reward to be offered for the recovery of a runaway slave "dead or alive," when it has been decided over and over again in southern courts that "a slave who is merely flying away cannot be killed." She puts such language as this into the mouth of one of her speakers: "The master who goes furthest and does the worst only uses within limits the power that the law gives him," when in fact the Civil Code of the very State where it is represented the language was uttered—Louisiana—declares, that
"The slave is entirely subject to the will of his master, who may correct and chastise him, though not with unusual rigor, nor so as to maim or mutilate him, or to expose him to the danger of loss of life, or to cause his death," and provides for a compulsory sale.
"When the master shall be convicted of cruel treatment of his slaves, and the judge shall deem proper to pronounce, besides the penalty established for such cases, that the slave be sold at public auction, in order to place him out of the reach of the power which the master has abused."
"If any person shall willfully kill his slave, or the slave of another person, the said person being convicted thereof, shall be tried and condemned agreeably to the laws."
In the General Court or Virginia last year, in the case of Southern vs. the Commowealth, it was held that the killing of a slave by his master and owner, by wilfull and excessive whipping is murder in the first degree, though it may not have been the purpose of the master and owner to kill the slave!! And it is not six months since Governor Johnston of Virginia pardoned a slave who killed his master, who was beating him with brutal severity.
And yet in the face such laws and decisions as these, Mrs. Stowe winds up a long series of cruelties upon her other black personages, by causing her faultless hero Tom to be literally whipped to death in Louisiana, by his master Legree; and these acts, which the laws make criminal and punish as such, she sets forth in the most repulsive colors, to illustrate the institutions of slavery!'
The advertisement which Mrs. Stowe has introduced into the story of George Harris, will be remembered by all our readers.
It is in this form: "Ran away from the subscriber, my mulatto boy, George;" then follows a description of his person, including
the "scars on his back and shoulders," and the "brand on his right hand." "I will give four hundred dollars for him alive,
and the same for satisfactory proof that he has been killed." This part of the story is disposed of by the veracious editor
of the Courier and Enquirer,
and his colleague, the editor of the New York Observer, with the insinuation which even their audacity dares not put into
the form of a direct affirmation—that no such advertisement was ever published in the southern states, or could be published
otherwise than in defiance of known law. That such advertisements have been published in the southern states down to a recent
period, will not be denied. In the year 1839, the American Anti-Slavery Society—then in the most prosperous period of its
operations—published a volume of 224 closely printed pages, entitled "American Slavery as it is: Testimony of a thousand witnesses."
With the spirit of such a book as that is, we have no sympathy. It is compiled and digested for the purpose of showing the
darkest side of slavery, and nothing else; and it is therefore as unlike as possible to the representation of southern life
given by Mrs. Stowe. Yet in one respect it is an authority. The compiler made thorough search among the southern newspapers
of that time, for the purpose of gleaning from the advertisements, whatever would help to exhibit slavery as it is. He does
not merely sum up results. He gives the advertisements themselves—sometimes abridged, sometimes at full length—but always
with name and date of the newspaper from which each is copied. We are not aware that his quotations have ever been convicted
of fraud or mistake. Nearly one page of his work [page 156] is covered
with advertisements, parallel to that which Mrs. Stowe has introduced
as an incident in her story, and most of them far more atrocious. If the
Courier and Enquirer and the Observer will, jointly and severally, prove that the American Anti-Slavery Society, or anybody else has forged those advertisements, one good end will certainly be answered.* Till they convict this testimony of falsehood—this public testimony, which for twelve years has challenged a denial—we have a right to impute to them, jointly and severally, whatever baseness there is in a deliberate attempt to impose upon the credulity of ignorant or unthinking readers.
But is there any defiance of southern law in such advertisements? The Observer—for we choose
to deal with the Observer rather than its associate—intimates this by saying, "It has been decided over and over again in
southern courts, that 'a slave who is merely flying away cannot be killed.'" The words marked as a quotation, are found in
Wheeler's Law of Slavery. (p. 203,)
and are noticeable as an indication that the writer had consulted that or some similar authority. But suppose the fugitive
when pursued, stands in his own defense, and will not surrender. Suppose that without even assaulting anybody, he stands at
bay, with a knife or a hatchet, or
whatever weapon his despair can seize, and gives notice that he will not be taken alive. The very case in which Judge Colcock
of South Carolina, used the words quoted—"a slave who is merely flying away cannot be
killed"—was the trial not of a criminal indictment for the murder of a fugitive slave, but of a suit on the part of an owner
to recover damages for the loss of her slave, who does not appear to have been at all a fugitive from service, but who, happening
to fall in the
way of a party who with load-
ed guns were hunting for fugitives, fled in terror from the danger, and was killed while "merely flying away." The writer who quoted Judge Colcock's words to show that an advertisement like that in Uncle Tom's Cabin is an impossibility, because contrary to law, wrote that sentence with an intention to deceive. What is the meaning of such an advertisement? 'Ran away, my mulatto boy George. If any slave-hunter will bring him back, he shall receive four hundred dollars for his trouble. And as the runaway is a desperate and dangerous fellow, and very likely to resist those who may attempt to arrest him—in which case the master or anybody acting for the master, has a perfect right to kill him, the pursuers need not be afraid of losing the reward in that case, for I will give the same sum for satisfactory proof that he has been killed.'
Such advertisements, then, are a matter of course, as long as slavery in the southern states is what Wheeler's law of slavery describes; and the use which Mrs. Stowe makes of such an advertisement, as an incident in a work of fiction, is entirely legitimate.
It is unnecessary to spend many words in exposing the fallacy which sets up a verbal incongruity between an expression put
into the mouth of St. Clare, and the letter of certain passages from the Civil Code of Louisiana, as proof that Mrs. Stowe
has wholly misrepresented the nature of southern slavery. St. Clare speaks in character. He is an impulsive, high spirited
man, with an instinctive abhorrence of injustice, and he is made to speak accordingly. In a moment of generous indignation,
he exposes the theory of slavery, and adds, "Talk of the abuses or slavery! Humbug! The thing itself is the essence of all abuse! And the only reason why the land don't sink under it like Sodom and
Gomorrah, is because it is used in a way infinitely better than it is. For pity's sake, for shame's sake, because we are men born of women, and not savage
beasts, many of us do not, and dare not,—we would scorn to use the full power which our savage laws put into our hands. And he who goes
the farthest, and does the worst, only uses within limits the power that the law gives him." The laws of Louisiana do indeed
put more restraint on the power of the master, and exhibit more of the sentiment of justice toward the free negro and the
slave, than the laws of perhaps any other
state south of the Potomac. But even the laws of Louisiana, notwithstanding the provisions quoted from the Civil Code, put
more power into the hands of slave-owners than any but the basest and most atrocious of mankind would dare to use. The
"unusual rigor" which the Code forbids, relates only to the chastisement of a slave. What security do the laws give that the slave whose entire existence belongs to his master, shall be fed, clothed, and sheltered, as becomes a human being under the laws of a free and Christian people? As long as the master does not kill his slave, or bring him into immediate danger of death, or maim or mutilate his person, or employ some such "unusual rigor," in the act of chastising him, what cruelty is there—what torture of his affections—what degradation of his entire human nature—which the law forbids even in words? Is there no cruelty but in the form of corporal punishment? May not the man who never killed or maimed a slave in the act of correcting him, and who never scourged a slave, at any one time of chastisement, beyond the uncertain limit of the law, be the very "master who goes farthest and does the worst?" And beside all this, is not the law of evidence, even in Louisiana, so adjusted that, with almost no precaution, the master of a plantation may whip a slave to death—may even burn him alive in the presence of a hundred witnesses, and yet incur no danger of the slightest penalty? Mrs. Stowe, if we remember, has nowhere intimated that the law refuses to punish the killing of a slave when such a fact can be proved in court, by what the law regards as testimony. Doubtless the murder of Uncle Tom by Legree would be punished in Louisiana or in any other slave state, if the facts could be proved in court by such witnesses as the law permits to testify in a case affecting the interest of a white man. But as the laws are, even in Louisiana, a murder like that by a ferocious master, on a lonely plantation, in a sparsely settled district, is a perfectly natural and credible event.
The second specification, under this general charge of representing slavery worse than it is in reality, relates to "the separation of families;" for it is by that gentle euphemism that the writer designates the slave-trade. And to show that on that topic, which is
indeed the leading subject of the book, Uncle
Tom's Cabin is "a fiction in every sense of the word," a quotation is made from a Louisiana statute, which prohibits the separation
of a child from its mother, by sale, while the child is under ten years of ago; and this is put in contrast with the incident
of the sale of Eliza in Louisiana, when "about eight or nine years old." Therefore the impression which this book gives of American slavery and the American slave-trade is wholly false.
Let Mrs. Stowe cause the plate of p. 292, vol. II, to be corrected, so that instead of "about eight or nine years old," we
shall read "certified to be in her eleventh year;" and
her representation of the American slave-trade will be wholly correct. The discrepancy between the story and the Louisiana statute is the only objection which the writer offers to the book as a description of the American slave-trade.
It seems like mere trifling to expose the insufficiency of such proof in support of such a charge. But it is not the bad logic of the writer, which we are thus exposing. He is the type of a class, and we are directing attention to the moral character of his performance, rather than to its defective argumentation. The quibble which we have exposed, did not deceive him; he only used it as a method of deceiving such readers as might be ignorant enough, or heedless enough to believe the Courier and Enquirer; and to that deception, the New York Observer becomes an accessory after the fact. That writer knew full well—the editor of the New York Observer knows—that the prohibition on which the whole support of this specification rests—a prohibition which cares for no sacredness of duty or affection between the child and its mother, after the child is ten years old—even that trifling restraint on the power of the master over the children of the slave-mother—exists in only one slave state of all the twelve. Wheeler's Law of Slavery, a book careful enough to say nothing that shall unnecessarily exhibit the repulsive aspect of southern jurisprudence—says, (p. 41, note,) "Slaves may be sold and transferred from one to another, without any statutory restriction or limitation as to the separation of parents and children, &c., except in the state of Louisiana." Is it strange that the partial limitation in that one state—where, nevertheless, any slave child that has seen its tenth birth-day, may be torn forever from its mother's embraces by the process of sale—should escape the observation and the reading of the most intelligent lady, however well disposed? And on the other hand, is it not as notorious as the slave-trade itself, that in the slave-states generally, even a nursing child may be plucked from its mother's bosom and sold to a stranger, as lawfully as if it were a sucking pig? Which of the two is guilty of willful deception? Which of the two is both "untrue" and "untruthful?" The author of Uncle Tom's Cabin? or the journalist who makes a show of maintaining that the sale of children from their mothers, is no part of the American slave trade?
But what if it were true throughout the slave-states that the slave-child under ten years of age,
is legally inseparable from its mother? Mrs. Stowe's book calls attention to the great fact of
the American slave-trade. It makes the reader realize in part, what kind of a fact that is. Is that
fact got rid of by
showing that in the state of Louisiana, a child under ten years of age cannot lawfully be separated from its mother in a sale? Would it be got rid of—would there be any considerable mitigation of its unspeakable wickedness, if precisely the same limitation on the sale of children existed in every slave-state? The selling of such children apart from their mothers is not the thing. The "separation of families" is a somewhat more comprehensive phrase; but it is not the thing. "Separation of families," quoth the softly journalist, speaking as if that were a great grievance somewhere, and trying to divert attention from agonies and groans that cry to heaven. The separation of families is what takes place everywhere in this living and dying world. Freedom as well as slavery necessitates the separation of families. The very life of society, in a state of freedom, is a process by which families are continually divided, disintegrated, broken up, re-combined. It is not misfortune alone that separates families. Enterprise does it. Prosperity itself does it. The progress of time with the vicissitudes of life and death, does it. Nor is the event of separation, when brothers and sisters, or parents and children part, always afflictive. The bride is led forth over her father's threshold by the proud bridegroom; but there is no heart-breaking in the tears that are shed at that parting. The son and brother parts from parents, brothers, sisters, and goes forth, farther perhaps than from Kentucky to the Red River, to found a home for himself in some new field of enterprise; but though tears fall in the hour of parting, he goes in hope, his way is bright before him, the blessings of loving hearts attend him, and hope and happiness are still in the home he leaves behind him. Or perhaps he goes under the impulse of Christian zeal, to labor as a missionary in some pagan land, and to lay his bones upon a barbarous shore. His departure makes a separation in the family; but the tears which fall in that hour of parting are tears of holy triumph. The separation of families is an easy matter to talk about, and not a very disagreeable matter to think of, so long as we do not happen to think too closely how it happens. But the slave-trade—that fiendish traffic in the bodies and the souls of men—that buying and selling of unutterable human agonies—that aggregate of all crimes and all horrors—is what these soft-spoken people that utter so mincingly their regret about "the separation of families," do not like to think of too distinctly. The slave-trade, not the separation of families—the slave-trade, not the selling of little children away from their mothers—is what Mrs. Stowe's book illustrates. The condition of slaves in Kentucky, in Virginia, in East Tennessee and in the Carolinas—
nay, in every slave-state, would be comparatively happy, would undergo a rapid amelioration, and would ultimately be changed to freedom, but for the slave-trade. There would be no fugitive slaves on their way to Canada, or if there were, few would care to pursue them, but for the slave-trade. And yet by the bargains and tricks of compromising party leaders, and of patriots who get their living by crying out that the Union is in danger, and then saving it, our public affairs are so managed that the slave-trade is the paramount interest that sways our national government, and controls our foreign relations. The breeding of slaves for market receives a measure of protection which is granted to no other sort of industry,—the importation of the foreign article being prohibited under penalty of death. The transportation of slaves, coastwise, is under the flag of the United States,—cargoes of slaves, as of any other merchandise, being regularly cleared at the custom-houses of the ports in the slave-producing region, and as regularly entered at the custom-houses in the slave-buying region. The expansion of the area of slavery, so as to extend the market for slaves and keep up the price of that commodity, is a leading object of our foreign policy. For this we have annexations, wars, conquests, and purchases of territory, ever producing a new demand for slaves, and ever retarding the process by which nature works for the extinction of slavery. For this we have fugitive-slave laws so contrived, that when a slave flees from the prospect of being sold to a new and more dreadful bondage, all the principles which the common law and the Constitution of the United States have established for the protection of personal liberty, shall be trampled down for the convenience of the pursuer, while every natural sentiment of justice protests in vain against the outrage. This it is—not slavery merely, but this slave-trade, sweeping every year some fifty thousand victims from the slave-growing region, to the cotton and sugar-growing regions farther south—which thrusts itself so pertinaciously into our national politics, meddling with every election, plotting, agitating, threatening the dissolution of the Union, and then cajoling politicians, merchants, journalists, professors, and clergymen, into the support of a new compromise, by which the power of the Union shall give some new protection or stimulus to the business of raising slaves for market. Uncle Tom's Cabin is a story not simply of plantation life in Kentucky, or in Louisiana, not simply of domestic servitude in city or country, not of some hypothetical slavery in Utopia or elsewhere, but of that slave-trade with its infinite mass of horrors, which is the most essential thing in the concrete reality of American slavery.
Take it for what it is,—a story of the slave-trade, and of how it hangs like the blackness of darkness over every slave-cabin and every slave in the Union; and when you have studied the statistics of that traffic, remembering that by the unanimous testimony of respectable southern witnesses it is wholly in the hands of men whom public opinion brands as infamous, and remembering what human nature is, and must be in such circumstances, say whether there is any exaggeration in the picture. Compare the book with the statistics, and with the known laws and tendencies of human nature; and then if you are at a loss for the reason why so many political and commercial men, so many pastors of metropolitan congregations, so many readers of sound conservative journals like the New York Observer, cry out against it, remember the sensitiveness and the power of the slave-trade, and the invisible connections of that traffic with every political and commercial interest, especially at the chief centers of commerce and of political influence.
The third specification under the general charge of falsehood against Uncle Tom's Cabin, relates to the "want of religious instruction" among the slaves. On this topic, it might be enough to say that there is no attempt in the book to produce any impression disadvantageous to the south. We cannot recollect any incident in the story, any passage in the dialogue, or any statement by the author in her own person, which would lead the reader to think that the slaves are more neglected in regard to religious instruction, than the degraded classes generally are in other Christian countries. On the contrary, the object and plan of the story makes it necessary for the author to exhibit chiefly the liabilities and sufferings of those slaves who have enjoyed the most of religious training and religious privilege. And yet by way of refuting a representation which Mrs. Stowe does not make, the New York Observer (not the Courier and Enquirer only) lays before its readers the following statement:
"The largest churches in the Union consists entirely of slaves. The first African Church in Louisville, which numbers 1200, and the first African Church in Augusta, which numbers 1300, are specimens. On multitudes of the large plantations in the different parts of the south, the ordinances of the Gospel are as regularly maintained by competent ministers, as in any other communities, north or south. A larger proportion of the slave population are in communion with some Christian Church, than of the white population in any part of the country. A very considerable portion of every southern congregation, either in city or country, is sure to consist of blacks, whereas in our northern churches, not a colored person is to be seen in one out of fifty."
We are to take this representation not as proceeding from the military and diplomatic editor of
the Courier and Enquirer,
(whose information on religious subjects, even if he were conscientiously determined to give the exact truth, could hardly be expected to be very accurate,) but as authenticated by the imprimatur of the New York Observer. The specific facts mentioned regarding the first African Church in Louisville, and the first African Church in Augusta, need not be contradicted or investigated. There is nothing in them which is inconsistent with any word or syllable in Uncle Tom's Cabin. The fact that on some of the large plantations, the ordinances of the Gospel are regularly maintained by chaplains whom the planters employ and pay, is one of the facts in Mrs. Stowe's own representation of the subject. [Vol. 11, p. 22.] That this is the case with "multitudes of the large plantations" is a statement which the Observer is doubtless prepared to substantiate, whenever the proof shall be called for. Indeed the whole story, to the effect that the slave and negro population of the southern states is more thoroughly Christianized than the white population in any part of the country, might be proved, if we mistake not, without disproving a word that Mrs. Stowe has written on that subject. When it is proved, however, which we hope will be done with the least possible delay, two corollaries will be inevitable. First, It will have been proved that either the Presbyterian Synod of Kentucky, and the Presbyterian Synod of South Carolina and Georgia, conspired a few years ago to frame and publish the most slanderous representations in regard to the unevangelized condition and the heathenish character of the slave population; or, since the date of their publications and the commencement of their efforts, a change has been wrought in the religious character of those three millions and upwards, in comparison with which the conversion of the Hawaiian Islands ought never to be mentioned. Secondly, It will have been proved also, that the governments of the southern states are holding in bondage, not hordes of untamed barbarians, who must be held in with bit and bridle "like the horse and the mule which have no understanding," but a people upon whom the Gospel is exerting, unimpeded, its humanizing, civilizing, elevating power—a people more thoroughly Christian at this moment than any other people, equally numerous, on the face of the globe—a people as manifestly the elected people of God, as were the Israelites whom Pharaoh field in bondage. Let this be proved; and an indictment will have been made out against those governments, that will move the moral sense of Christendom to the utmost height of indignation.
"The peculiar falsity of this book," says the candid and ingenious writer, to whose criticism
the New York Observer
gives its sanction, "consists in making exceptional or impossible cases, the representatives of the system." In what respect that kind of "falsity" is peculiar to this book, the writer does not inform us. The self-same thing, as everybody knows, is imputed habitually to all persons, and all books, not favorable to slavery. But to what extent is the representation of slavery in this book, made up of exceptional or impossible cases? Is the transfer of two slaves, a man and a child, to a trader, by an embarrassed and not over-scrupulous Kentucky gentleman who finds himself so involved as to be quite at the mercy of that trader, an exceptional or impossible case? Is the sale of a New Orleans gentleman's household slaves, at auction, after his death, an exceptional or impossible case? Yet these are the two incidents on which the story chiefly turns. Is not the catastrophe of "old Prue" distinctly represented as extraordidary and exceptional? Is not the character of Legree—is not the management on his plantation—is not the cruelty practiced on Uncle Tom, and his death for conscience' sake, perfectly understood, by even the youngest reader, to be exceptional—quite out of the ordinary course of things? Will anybody who admits the possiblity of the incidents which make up the story of Bleak House, deny the possibility of the incidents which make up the story of Uncle Tom's Cabin?
But let us see how this wise philosopher argues from his alleged fact of the exceptional and
impossible bases. "By the same process which she [Mrs. S.] has used, it would not be
difficult to frame a fatal argument against the relation of husband and wife, or of parent and
child, or of guardian and ward, for thousands of wives, and children, and wards have been
maltreated, and even murdered. It is wrong, unpardonably wrong, to impute to any relation in
life, those enormities which spring only out of the worst depravity of human nature." This then
is the sophistry, with which religious as well as secular journals undertake to bewilder and
stupefy the moral sense of a Christian people. Fifty thousand human beings, more or
less—more is far more probable than less—are annually swept southward by an execrable slave-trade; but, from the shrieks of mothers weeping for their children, and
refusing to be comforted—from the anguish of hearts which human affections had bound together, but which ruthless
violence tears asunder from the unutterable sorrows that attend the weary march of the slave-coffle, or are enclosed under
the hatches of the slave-ship—there must be no inference drawn derogatory to the system of American slavery. It must be remembered
that whatever enormities there are in the arrangements and processes,
by which a yearly supply of fifty thousand slaves is provided for the southern trade, "spring only out of the worst depravity of human nature," and are not to be regarded as implying at all, that slavery as it exists in this country, is anything else than a perfectly righteous and beneficent adjustment of the relations between capital and labor.
So much for a specimen of the criticism and formal argument, that are employed to counteract the impression which Mrs. Stowe's book is making on the moral sense of the American people. Another mode of counteraction has been attempted. Works of fiction have been produced, with astounding rapidity of succession, ostensibly designed to give a correct and unbiassed representation of slavery as it is. A few of these may be taken as specimens of the class. One, however, of the books named at the head of this article, is of a somewhat different description, and is for various reasons worthy of a special notice.
"The White Slave, or Memoirs of a Fugitive," is a new and completed edition of a book which, under the now discarded title of "Archy Moore," was published, perhaps fifteen years ago, in accordance with the American Anti-slavery Society's method of representing slavery. We had never seen it; and it seems not to have attracted any general attention. But since the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin, the author of Archy Moore—commonly understood to be Mr. Hildreth, the historian—has completed the previously unfinished story, and has published it in its new form, with a new name. To what extent it has become successful in the market, we are not informed. It has many qualities which might be expected to secure for it a large share of present and permanent popularity. It has little of the dramatic interest which so enlivens Uncle Tom's Cabin from first to last; it rarely takes the form of a dialogue; it gives no specimens of the negro-English dialect; it is almost wholly destitute of humor; but it has a masculine vigor in the narrative, and in the political and philosophical analysis of slavery, which no female writer could be expected to rival. The author excels in description; and the impression which his story produces, is extremely picturesque and vivid throughout. Its style of representing things is far enough from being good natured; the only smile that seems to glimmer on the author's countenance, is bitterly scornful; but his satire, relentless as death, burns, wherever it touches, like some consuming fluid.
To this book many of the criticisms preferred against Uncle Tom's Cabin, are justly applicable.
It is written in professed sympathy with that distinct and well known Anti-slavery
movement, which was inaugurated, a little more than twenty years ago, by Mr. William Lloyd Garrison; and it is Abolitionist in that party sense of the word. The representation which it makes of slavery and of southern society, of life among the slaves and of life among their masters, is wholly unfavorable. With the exception of one master and one mistress, every slave-holder in the whole story is represented as a selfish and unfeeling tyrant. Nor is there any infusion of a religious spirit in the book. No Christian hope, no sentiment of confidence in God, sustains the oppressed under their sufferings, or teaches them to "do all things heartily as to the Lord and not unto men." Presbyterians, Baptists, and, for the most part, Methodists, are represented as restrained by no religious scruple, and guided by no feeling of responsibility to God, in the management and government of slaves, and as utterly insensible to the injustice of slavery. The most consummate villain of the story—upon whom the indignation of the reader is concentered—is sneeringly represented as "pious," inasmuch as "during a visit to New York, some two or three years before, he had been converted to Unitarian Christianity by the preaching of Dr. Dewey," and "had since exerted himself with so much zeal to get up a Unitarian society in New Orleans, as to have acquired the nickname of 'the Deacon.' One owner of slaves, and one clergyman, Episcopalians both, are pictured as none the worse for their religious character. In brief, while the book is characterized by a strong sense of justice, and by a reasonable abhorrence of that injustice which is the essence of slavery, it is no less characterized by the absence of a kind and candid spirit, and of all Christian sentiment. Thus we might almost say of it, what the critic, whose lucubration is republished by the New York Observer, says of Uncle Tom's Cabin, "One who could know nothing of the United States and its people, except what he might gather from this book, would judge that it was some region just on the confines of the infernal world." Can anybody tell us why this book escapes the reprobation of those journals which are so vehement in condemning Mrs. Stowe? Is there any other reason than this? The White Slave is just what they say Uncle Tom's Cabin is; and therefore there is little danger that it will be effective in rousing the religious feelings of the country against slavery. The White Slave being really an Abolitionist book in the odious sense of Abolitionism, is not likely to disturb the repose of great ecclesiastical organizations, or to impede the arrangements of scheming politicians.
Yet though this book, by its want of kindly feeling towards citizens of the southern states, and
by its gross defect in respect
to religious views and sensibilities, cuts itself off from popular sympathy, and is therefore to a great extent incapable of wakening abhorrence against slavery, except in minds already in sympathy with itself, it is a book which some men would do well to study. If the facts which it weaves into a representation of slavery and its influences, are often "exceptional," they are not "impossible." The only thing in the story which strikes the reader as a pure impossibility is, that the heroine, Cassy, with so much beauty, passing through the hands of so many owners, sold for her beauty in the New Orleans market, is not only restored to her husband, but is restored uncorrupted, after twenty years of separation. The author, with a profound knowledge of the selfish side of human nature, and well versed in the philosophy of society and of history; so far as that philosophy can be comprehended from his point of view, has studied the facts of American slavery, partly (as he says) by personal observation; he has studied the law of slavery, in its identity and in its variations; he has studied the mutual relations of the two races, the masters and the enslaved; and he has given the results in the form of a philosophical romance. We may safely commend the book to the serious attention of American statesmen, to all who in a philosophic spirit are inquiring after the probabilities of our future as a people, and above all, to southern statesmen. It is Wheeler's Law of Slavery, in another shape. That title alone, WHITE SLAVE, has an ominous import. By a law of human nature, perfectly irresistible in such circumstances, the dominant race and the enslaved are becoming one race, with a portentous rapidity. The master and the slave will in time be all of one blood, "not merely by a pedigree derived from Adam, but as a matter of notorious and contemporary fact." They are so now, to an extent which puts to shame the sanctimonious sophistry about the curse upon the race of Ham. Be it that the negroes are the descendants of Ham, and that there is a warrant for enslaving the children of Ham to all ages;—what warrant is there for enslaving the children of Japeth?—the near kindred, the brothers and sisters, the sons and daughters of the enslavers?—Where is the warrant for enslaving not only the children of emigrant and renegade New England men, but children whose blood came, three-fourths of it or more, from the cavaliers of Virginia? Where the warrant for enslaving children born of the blood which circulated in the veins of Thomas Jefferson, or whose descent may be traced back, parallel with that of the great PATER PATRIAE, to the royal house of Plantagenet? Partus sequitur ventrem, is not written in the Bible.
Passing from the keen analysis, the philosophic breadth of
observation, the scornful satire, and the tragic passion, which characterize the White Slave, to the book entitled, "Life at the South, or Uncle Tom's Cabin as it is," we find ourselves, as it were, in another climate. Mr. W. L. G. Smith has almost nothing in common with the author whose work we have just laid down. He writes not as inspired by a burning sense of the injustice which he beholds, nor with the purpose of holding up that injustice to the indignation of the world, but with far humbler sentiments and motives. His object is to make his readers believe, that slavery in the United States is a legitimate and respectable thing; that the arrangements which have been made, or shall be made hereafter for the extension of slavery, and the encouragement of the slave-trade, are not to be protested against in the name of justice or of mercy ; that the fugitive slave deserves no hospitality or compassion, and is far worse off in freedom than if he were recaptured and consigned to slavery. Of course, it can hardly be expected that Mr. W. L. G. Smith's book will show many traces of poetic or philosophic genius. True genius rarely lends itself to such purposes; and the exhibition of genius in this book does not seem to be one of the "exceptional" instances.
We have examined this book with a desire to ascertain what idea of slavery "as it is," a reader would derive from it, who had no other means of knowledge. Some of the chief results are the following:
1. The slave population is exclusively negro. No slave of any other shade than black, is introduced to the reader's acquaintance, if our memory serves us.
2. In respect to civilization, the slaves, after having inhabited a Christian country for several generations, are at the lowest mark. A population more degraded in all that distinguishes the life of man from the life of a brute, can hardly be found in any, save the most barbarous countries.
3. The slaves are wholly in the power of masters and overseers. The lash is familiarly spoken of as the natural and fit punishment of indolence, and yet, though the slaves are habitually indolent beyond all human patience, it does not appear that the lash is ever used in actual punishment. The severest penalty known to be inflicted on a refractory slave, is imprisonment without food or drink for twenty-four hours in a lonely hovel, secured by a strong padlock.
4. The slaves, in addition to the rent of their cabins, and the supplies of food and clothing which
they receive from their masters, receive a regular "stipend," which is sometimes increased as
a reward of merit, or as a stimulus to increased activity. In this way every slave has it in his
power to earn the
means of purchasing his own freedom; and all would soon be free, but for their indolent and spendthrift habits.
5. The slave-pen or slave-market is an institution peculiar to the District of Columbia. Or, to speak within bounds, it does not exist in Virginia. There is no slave-trade in that model commonwealth. "If we," says the planter, who in this book is the representative of all slave-holders, "part with any of our blacks, it is at our own door, and that is done hardly once in an age." What becomes of the increase which every census ought to show, but does not show, in the colored population of Virginia, is a question on which "this deponent saith not."
6. The attachment of the slaves to their masters, to their native soil, and to the graves of their ancestors, enclosed with good white fences, and covered with monumental marble, is so strong, that they would never think of running away but for the invitations and persuasions of interlopers from the north; and the utmost persuasion is successful only with slaves of a malignant and discontented temper.
We need not pursue any further this summing up of the testimony of Mr. W. L. G. Smith, concerning slavery as it is. This is one of the books which literary journals of some repute have been base enough to recommend, as giving that full, true, and "uncolored" representation, which Uncle Tom's Cabin, it is said, does not give.
Another book of the same class is "Aunt Phillis's Cabin," by a lady, Mrs. Eastman, who
glories in Virginia as her native state. "Am I not," she exclaims, "a daughter of the Old
Dominick, a member of one of the F. F. V's? Did not my grandfather ride races with General
Washington? Did not my father wear crape on his hat at his funeral?" She represents
slavery, we doubt not, as she has seen it, in the best aspect which it can put on. Mr. Weston's
plantation in Virginia, as she describes it, is parallel to Mr. Shelby's in Kentucky, as described
by Mrs. Stowe, except that Mr. Weston is a dignified and Christian gentleman, in altogether
easy circumstances, while Mr. Shelby is a careless, flexible man, dreadfully embarrassed with
debts, and cornered by a remorseless creditor. Life on such a plantation as Mr. Shelby's might
have been, had he been equal to his wife in resolute energy and Christian conscientiousness, is
all that Mrs. Eastman knows about "southern life as it is." And yet with her woman's heart, she
does not pretend—as heartless men sometimes pretend—that slavery is a good thing for the
slaves, better than freedom could be in its stead. In one instance, she portrays with powerful
touches the agony and life-long sorrow of a slave-mother, whose master had robbed her of all her
seven children at a stroke; though the interlocutors,
where this incident is narrated in a dialogue, testify to each other, that they never before knew an instance of the separation of children from their mother by a master. For the poor mother, however, there was no redress—for the cruel man who "only used within limits the power that the law gave him," there was no penalty, not even the penalty of popular vengeance. "Mobs of any kind," says Mrs. Eastman, in the person of one of her chief characters, "are rare in the southern country. We are not (in spite of the bad qualities ascribed to us by the Abolitionists) a fussy people. Sometimes, when an Abolitionist comes along, we have a little fun with him, the negroes enjoying it exceedingly." But "a little fun" with the scoundrel who robs a mother of her seven children at one fell swoop, and sells them into a returnless exile, is not to be thought of among a law-abiding people, however the negroes might enjoy it.
"Uncle Tom's Cabin, contrasted with Buckingham Hall," is a book which its author, Robert Criswell, Esq., hopes will "prove to be one drop of oil cast upon the tempestuous sea of agitation." The oleaginous quality of this contribution to the safety of the Union need not be disputed; at least it is soft, as butter. We have only to sum up what this witness tells us about slavery:
"Generally the feeling between the slave and a kind master" is altogether affectionate; "but alas! there are too many slave-holders whose cruelty makes them feared by the unfortunate objects of their tyranny," p. 11. Mr. Jones "would not send his daughter to school, nor his son to college; 'for,' said he, 'I would be a fool to spend five or six hundred a year on their learning, when I can leave them a slave worth that amount for every year they would be there,'" p. 13. "As a general thing, the slaves are treated kindly...I have not seen a grown slave whipped for years:...when we task them, they generally get through in half a day, so that they are not obliged to do more than a common day's work in two days. When they get sick they are always allowed a physician, and are much better fed and clothed than any free negroes around them," pp. 38, 39. "Slave-dealers are held in contempt by all honorable men. but this system will continue as long as Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina remain slave states, as a great portion of those states are worn out, and will not grow cotton, tobacco, and other produce. Consequently the inhabitants find it more profitable to breed slaves to supply the other states, and stock the new slave territories," p. 47. "There are always a number of 'stock cars' on these southern railroads, attached to the end of the passenger train, for the purpose of freighting slaves—perfectly round like a coal wagon, or like a large hogshead on wheels, yet capacious enough to hold near a hundred; and here the poor creatures are huddled together, like so many pigs or cattle going to market, and when the weather is warm they suffer intensely from the heat and closeness of the cars," p. 52. "Anybody unused to slaves, would be mistaken in some of them; they are so white," p. 62. A story is told with great relish, about a northerner traveling on business in the south, who purchased a beautiful quadroon at a slave sale in Richmond, traveled with her as his wife to New Orleans, and thence up the Mississippi to Ohio and Louisville, where he sold her again, not being able to take her further northward, without losing his property in her.—pp. 142-45.
And yet the book which gives these representations of the reality of slavery, is expected to counteract the influence of Uncle Tom's Cabin!
The massive and pedantic volume in which Mr. John Fletcher of Louisiana defends slavery in the abstract, is a mine of amusement, too rich to be opened at the close of such an article as this. We commend it to the attention of those statesmen, divines, and philosophers, who give their influence to aid the propagandism of slavery. Perhaps these "easy lessons" may help them to keep their consciences "easy." The book is published indeed far off, at Natchez and New Orleans; but it is printed at Philadelphia, and Messrs. Newman & Ivison have it on sale in New York.