[From] About a Number of Things.
It was scarcely to be expected that the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin should have escaped personal attack. The book itself, by its peculiar relation to world-questions, and by intense sympathy with the feelings which lie deepest in the human soul, and which just now are, the world over, the most sensitive and energetic, has for the moment become the type of the spirit of the age, in its aspiration for Liberty. Never was any work a more rightful subject for criticism. It has been cast into the vast tumult of public feeling, as a ship launched upon a stormy deep, and it must be beaten upon by waves and winds, and there is no occasion of complaint.
The private character and affairs of an author are by common consent separated from the merits or demerits of his literary work. It might have been hoped, that when the author was a lady, the propriety of this etiquette, so equitably established throughout the world of letters, would at least have lost none of its force. And if it was to be violated, we might reasonably have expected that the most ostentatiously respected and religious journals would not have been the first and the most unscrupulous in thrusting past the book, at the private relations of the author. But, with such an example, we do not know that we have anything to be surprised at in the secular imitations and the gross personalities of papers making no pretensions to piety.
We perceive a passage of arms between the Syracuse Daily Chronicle and several of its contemporaries, as to the propriety of Mrs. Stowe's purchasing a homestead with the profits of her work, instead of employing her money upon the slave, they railing at, and the Chronicle defending, the lady.
But, in fact, no such disposition has been made of the avails of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Mrs. Stowe has not purchased, nor does she own, any house or ground whatsoever. The professors at Andover, as a part of their salary, are furnished by the Seminary with residences. None being vacant, when Prof. Stowe was called to the chair vacated by Prof. Stuart, a large stone building, erected for a workshop, was remodeled by the trustees, and converted into a dwelling-house. A portion of the funds for doing it were borrowed of Prof. Stowe, for which he holds proper security. The property was, and is, the property of Andover Theological Seminary. Prof. Stowe has no real or constructive interest in it; he can live in it while a professor at Andover; and should he leave that post, could no more sell or control the disposition of it than of the Seminary chapel or the Seminary library. So much for the "Stowe Cabin."
A word upon the pecuniary offerings to Mrs. Stowe in England. It is well known to many that Mrs. Stowe has from the first desired to turn whatever influence this work might give her, to the elevation of the African race. The plan which has been most in her thoughts has been a seminary in which persons of African descent may be thoroughly educated, not merely in literary and scientific courses, but in practical arts, by which they might procure and maintain a proper place in society. To the founding of such an institution she had determined to contribute much of her income; and the hope of securing greater interest for it, was one among the chief reasons for her tour. The generous contributions in money, made to her in Great Britain, are not understood by either party, but certainly not by Mrs. Stowe, to be for her own personal and private use, but to be employed for the education and elevation of the free colored people of the North.
The difficulties in the way of such an enterprise are exceedingly great. A public sentiment among many Christians—whose only conception of duty is to vomit the colored man out of America as an indigestible mass—will not afford much of that sympathetic aid without which our own academies and colleges find it almost impossible to live. Education for the free colored man is the thing most needed. He can do nothing without it. Nothing can prevent his rising, in due time, with it.
We speak of northern prejudices against the blacks. It is not mere prejudice. Neither in the north nor in the south is there any prejudice against the blacks as menials. We loved to be served by them. Neither odor nor color repel them from our toilet. Dr. Pennington is not allowed in his pastoral visits among the poor and sick of his flock, scattered all over New York, to ride in an omnibus by the side of white folks; but if Dr. Pennington was a servant and a coachman, he might sit on the same seat with ladies and gentlemen, and ride unrebuked through Broadway.
To marry a black woman would bring down a mob on any man's head; but make it adultery, take it out of a lawful and moral relation, and put it into the category of disallowed and criminal connections, and prejudice subsides. It is less criminal to break the whole decalogue against the blacks, than to keep one single commandment in their favor. The simple truth is this: Men love to have subordinates upon whom to exercise authority. Such servants they easily treat with kindness so long as they stand obviously submissive to them. Any attempt at elevation enflames, not the prejudice, but the pride of men. . . .
For the Independent.