Letter from an American in England.
MANCHESTER, Oct. 8. 1852.
"Uncle Tom" in England is everywhere; it would tire you to recite his visits and doings; and one thing is certain, whatever they may prove about its authoress, she herself could not destroy her book, nor stop mankind from reading it, and crying and laughing alternately over it. I fancy Mrs. Stowe knew about as much what she was doing when she was writing "Uncle Tom," as John Bunyan did when he wrote "Pilgrim's Progress" in Bedford Jail. Both, no doubt, both laughed and cried over their own work; and our Maker having fashioned our hearts alike, we laugh and cry too when we read them. The deep religious feeling "Uncle Tom" excites, is illustrated by the following anecdote. Mr. H., a rich gentleman in this town, said the other day, that all his life he had been opposed to missions on principle! He read "Uncle Tom," and declared it shook his principles, and the next Sunday the missionary box came around he put in liberally. One almost envies Mrs. Stowe her silent visits into the palace of Queen Victoria, the castles of earls, dukes and lords, the mansions of the rich and the cottages of the poor, and by the agency of "Uncle Tom" she preaches Gospel to all classes; and while she kindles into a flame our sympathy for the slaves, she also brings our spirit into close and effectual contact with Divine truth, and that, too, when the heart is open. Ritual Christians won't like it, but vital Christians will; priests in robes dispensing a wafer-god, won't like it; but one whose heart the Lord has touched will. One who goes to the bishop to get regenerated by baptism may get no comfort from it, but a disciple in trouble will go and abide at the cross where "Uncle Tom" got comfort.
I cannot express to you the fullness of the conviction I have as to the great work "Uncle Tom" is doing in the English world for vital godliness, as distinguished from formalism. The other Sunday, Dr. H. of this town began his sermon with these words, "As 'Uncle Tom' says, it is a great thing to be a Christian." I venture to say that this book has prompted and furnished materials for thousands of sermons. I shall not dwell upon the "Uncle Tom" literature now in vogue here, because you will get it from the newspapers. But I desire to assure Mrs. Stowe, if she was here and saw and heard what is passing around us, she would think that for any labor she has had in writing the book, or any lawsuit she has been threatened with, her trouble is a thousand fold repaid.
All matters of a business nature are proceeding prosperously in England. Prices of everything are steadily rising. Breadstuffs are up twenty per cent. within two months. Fine cotton yarns 80 to 150 are up one to two shillings per pound and now paying enormous profit. The stocks of manufactured goods were never so small as at present. Iron has gone up twenty-five per cent. Wages of all sorts are up 10 to 15 per cent.
What will be the upshots of it? These are questions hid in the future. If Europe remains quiet, it may go smooth for a while; if war comes on prices will fall terribly. If for any reason the interest of some of these American bonds now so current in London should not be provided for, they would stop selling and be bundled back to New York to sell for what they would bring. If gold from California and Australia should not come in as fast, a great advance in money would occur. It appears to me a time when prudent merchants should go no deeper in debt, but get more out of debt. For if a man has a competency, why should he risk that for more? But what has been will be, and there is nothing new under the sun. The crisis will come when vast numbers are unprepared for it, and then commercial disaster will ensue.