Putnam's Monthly Magazine
New York: February 1857


  ...This is a fair specimen of the "southern literature" that is intended in the elaborate joke of the Pickwickians at Savannah. The simple truth was stated by Snodgrass. Publishers at the north pay liberally, and therefore, the books that are written at "the south" are not published there. The reason is, that the free spirit of the north encourages and fosters every kind of mental development; and, as one of the instinctive convictions of the human mind is, that men are born free, wherever it is a crime to say so there will never be any literature, and publishers and authors will be few, poor, and unknown. Those Savannah wags know it as well as anybody. It is literature itself they oppose. The poor dear "south," of which the club take such care, is full of readers. Those readers may deplore what they call the eternal agitation of the great question; but they must also see that, as it will be agitated until it is settled, they must make up their minds to it, and, it in their magazine reading, omit such articles as this, and enjoy such as precede and follow it. They must dine, although there be a skull on the table. They must read what the authors of our time and of all time write, and they know very well that all the greatest men have been lovers and laureates of liberty. If the condition of the perpetuity of slavery were that "the south" should feed upon such literature as may be called, in Tupman's sense, "southern"—the harpings of the gentle Grayson, for example—slavery would be abolished to-morrow. We observe that some southern newspaper shakes the whip over the head of Willis, because that gentleman said he should vote for Frémont, and announces that his pen has lost its charm for southern minds. But, if that were so, it is high time for Professor Bledsoe & Co. to go to work; for there can be no doubt in the mind of every intelligent southern reader that the literature of this country cares no longer to duck, and compliment, and omit, but will speak louder and louder every day, directly and indirectly, against human slavery. The first proper novel in American literature, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," is the greatest literary protest against it. That novel is scarcely six years old, and it strikes the key-note of a strain that will not cease. The whole spirit of modern literature is directly humane. There are, therefore, but three ways open to Tupman & Co.—first, to give up reading altogether; second, to read a humane literature, which is, in its very essence, anti-slavery; or, third, to insist that the "talent enough to do what is wanted" shall begin to do it.

  We speak for literature of the country when we say it no longer intends to shiver and turn pale when it speaks of "the south" or southern institutions. It will treat them as it treats "the north" and northern institutions. That is to say, it will honor the honorable, and scorn and satirize the what is mean. It will treat slavery as a great moral, social, and political blight. It will point to "southern literature," and laws, education, as illustrations of the truth of what it says. Tupman says, "Southern men ought to stop their subscriptions" to our pea-green Maga. Tupman is a droll Pickwickian. Does he suppose that our readers, who live in slave states, necessarily consider slavery sacred, and will content themselves with reading the gentle Grayson? They must have the best in the market for their money. Men in slave states send us valuable articles. They write well, and like to read what is well written. Go to, Tupman! you are speaking in a purely Pickwickian sense when you say we traduce "the south." Is "the south," slavery? We do speak ill of slavery, and we shall often do so. We shoot folly as it flies, and wherever it flies, and wherever it perches. And if folly bloats into crime or fuddles into fury, we shall still shoot away.