The Independent
Unsigned Reprint
New York: 2 September 1852

Another Word about Uncle Tom's Cabin.

  This remarkable book has been thought and talked of chiefly in its bearing on slavery. There is yet another aspect in which it deserves prominent regard. Its hero is an unlettered negro, with no outward circumstance that can give attractiveness to his person or impart interest to his fortune. Yet a character of richer spiritual beauty, of loftier moral grandeur, than his cannot be painted. Wherever he moves a celestial halo seems to encircle his brow; an unction from the Holy One rests on all that he says; and as he dies, the victim of a brutal chastisement, we can almost see angel hands placing upon his bleeding temples the crown of martyrdom. As we read, the question (not a new one, yet never before did it crowd itself so determinedly upon our thoughts) suggested itself—What power but that of Christianity could have invested such a character with such an irresistible charm? What other talisman could have so transfigured outward squalidness and misery? Whose wand but that of Christ can pass over the very dust heaps of humanity and turn its clods into diamonds? Pagan or non-religious fiction could have made nothing great or glorious or exemplary of that poor negro. The most that it can do for such a personage is to depict a certain dog-like fidelity to a master. It must have greatness of circumstance, achievement, wisdom or culture, to constitute a great character. But the Christian literary artist wants only a human soul for the substratum of his work, and the meaner that soul is externally the better; for then the proportions and environments of the earthly tabernacle have nothing about them to call off the regards from the celestial garniture of the spirit within. "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them," said our Saviour. And no words can be more literally true than these; for, in the precise proportion in which one is a Christian, he becomes visibly great, capable of commanding reverence, occupying a position, from which he would take a downward step if he forsook it for a throne.—Ch. Register.