Uncle Tom's Cabin Forty Years After
Full four decades have passed since Uncle Tom's Cabin first appeared. It was originally written for the National Era, a newspaper, published at Washington in the interests of the Abolitionists—then an insignificant factor in the politics of the country. As it issued from the press in weekly numbers, an enterprising bookseller in Boston set his eye upon it, made application to the author to be allowed to put it out in book form, and was granted the franchise. As the story progressed he became alarmed, expressing his fear to the author that she was making the story too long for publication. He reminded her that the subject was unpopular, and that people would not willingly stand much of it. He showed the usual sagacity of his craft by venturing the opinion that "one short volume might possibly sell, but if it grew to two it might prove a fatal obstacle to its success." Mrs. Stowe, who felt herself absolutely possessed of her own creation, replied that "she did not make the story, but the story made itself, and she could not stop till it was done." In the account of the production of the story by the author, she represents herself as in a state of almost total collapse as she neared the end; and a feeling of profound discouragement came over her lest, after all, it should prove a failure.
The book appeared the 20th of March, 1852. The public caught it up, and in a few days ten thousand copies, were in the hands of eager readers. Before the year was out, three hundred thousand copies had been sold. Eight power presses, running day and night, could hardly keep up with the demand. Its success in England was of the same character. Twelve entirely independent editions appeared in the first year; eighteen different houses in London were engaged in handling it; and, within a few years, one and a half million copies had been sold in England and her colonies alone. It passed into all lands, being translated with astonishing rapidity, until now there is scarce a language under heaven in which the pathetic story of poor Tom may not be read. Nor is this all. The story is just as fresh and thrilling to-day as it was while the crash and agony of the contest over American slavery was at its height. Presses in every land still whir and clash in response to the demand for additional copies; and this will continue on down through the ages. At the beginning, it was undoubtedly given a factitious popularity by the tremendous social and political issue then pending in this country; but the spontaneous and enthusiastic commendations given it by those beyond seas, and so, not immediately under the excitement of the slavery question with which it dealt—such as Macaulay, Dickens, Archbishop Whately, and Kingsley in England—George Sand and Heinrich Heine, on the continent—proved that there was something in the book which raised it far above the local issue that gave it birth. Time has proved that it is just as fascinating to the far-off Siamese and Sandwich Islanders, as to the refined and fastidious readers of Berlin and Paris. The truth is that if there had not been a slave in America, Uncle Tom's Cabin would have taken hold upon the hearts of men, and moved them to indignation just as it did with the case as it stood; and thus it is that, with the slavery issue long since dead, it has as many readers as ever. There are many books written with a mere local aim, which have risen on their merits above the causes that gave them birth; but of all these, Uncle Tom's Cabin is easily the most conspicuous case of a work written for purely local ends, outliving the reason of its creation and becoming an enduring fact in the world's literature. This is because it is a great book—great as a work of art, losing nothing by the total disappearance of the factitious environment which was the sole motive of its production.
Of course the book was intended to be read with the heart, and it is so read by all except the cool and callous critic. The intense pathos of the story drives all thought of the manner and method of the telling out of sight; but if these had not been of a high order, the book would never have passed into a classic. It is indisputably faulty, showing a lack of elegance at all points, and too surely telling of its New England origin by numerous solecisms peculiar to that part of the world; but at the same time, it displays consummate art in its structure, and is full of dramatic power.
The effect of the book in the direction intended by the author, was all and more than she could have foreseen in her wildest dreams. It was read with the deepest emotion by everybody in the North, and multitudes who had never given any serious thought to the fact of negro slavery in the South, found themselves in a state of violent indignation and horror. It was just at this time that Congress was in bitter contest over the question of slavery in the Territories, the South foreseeing that if there were to be no more slave states added to the Union with the spread westward, she could have no hope of sustaining herself in the National Legislature. The Abolitionists proper were still an insignificant factor in politics; for it was universally conceded that the Constitution specifically recognized and fully protected the South in her enjoyment of her peculiar property. That instrument was held to be inviolable; and in the minds of an overwhelming majority of the people in the North, abolitionism was synonymous with fanaticism. In the words of Mrs. Stowe, at that time the "Abolitionists were a small, despised, and unfashionable band."
It was this spirit of acquiescence in the provisions of the Constitution which moved Mrs. Stowe to a state of sublime indignation. What was the Constitution to her woman's heart? She did what most women are wont to do—she took counsel of her emotions—she translated herself in fancy to the cotton-fields of the South as a slave, and then interrogated herself as to how she felt. She did not reflect that in the put-yourself-in-his-place method of testing a state of case, it is clearly implied that it shall be—not you, any longer, in the new place, but—he as he is, who is to feel. In her transmigration she carried with her all her intellectual vigor—all of her refined sensibilities and rugged New England love of freedom; and the suppositious personality of the cotton-field was no longer poor Sambo, but the high-strung, highly cultured Mrs. Stowe. It is not wonderful that she did not like her hypothetical situation; nor that she should feel an intense desire to tear into shreds any instrument which kept her there. Thus it was that her war, as she herself confesses, was upon the Constitution from the beginning. In her account of how her book came to be written, she says: "With astonishment and distress, Mrs. Stowe heard on all sides, from humane and Christian people, that the slavery of the blacks was a guaranteed constitutional right, and that all opposition to it endangered the national Union." She saw, with deep concern, that "even earnest and tender-hearted Christian people" seemed to feel it their duty to respect the rights of the South, under the Constitution, even to the extent of assisting "slave-owners to recover fugitives in Northern States. She said to herself, these people cannot know what slavery is," and hence arose her purpose to write some sketches to show them what slavery was. Uncle Tom was the result. In it there was no question about Territories. Her aim was of the root-and-branch order;—the total overthrow of slavery where it was. The effect of the book was, of course, to increase the bitterness against the South; and although it was perfectly clear to all, that the Federal Government had absolutely no power over the question of slavery in a State, it blew up the flame of feeling on the subject of slavery in the public domain, and did more than any other one thing to destroy the last hope of a peaceful solution. It directed the attack upon the Constitution; and, although the Republican party, even to the end, disclaimed any purpose or power to touch slavery in the States, it was a great factor in fomenting the dread conflict between the States, and in preparing the sentiment of the North to sustain the war measure of Mr. Lincoln, who, on his own sole responsibility, drove a coach and four through the Constitution, and gave freedom to every slave in the South by an arbitrary act.
The reception of Uncle Tom in the South was naturally quite different. Of course it was read by one here and there, but it is quite unusual, even now, to find a Southern-born man or woman, who has read it. When the question is asked, the reply as a rule is, "No, I never expect to read it." The conviction was that it was full of all manner of slanders and false statements about the South, and the feeling still prevails. Now, while this is true as to its animus, perhaps the most remarkable thing about this most remarkable book is that, when rightly read, the very citadel and ground of defence of the Southern people is to be found in the pages of this true story of the not uncommon character, Uncle Tom. He was all he was, by virtue of his condition as a slave. Mrs. Stowe had lived in Kentucky and knew whereof she wrote; and it must be freely admitted that her story has the rare quality in a partisan work of being perfectly true in its statements and delineations, with little coloring that is not allowable to the novelist. She saw and fully appreciated—seems almost to delight in the fairer side of domestic servitude. She says: "Whoever visits some estates there [Kentucky] and witnesses the good-humored indulgences of some masters and mistresses, and the affectionate loyalty of some slaves, might be tempted to dream the oft-fabled poetic legend of a patriarchal institution, and all that; but" (and here lies the point and burden of her contention, from start to finish,) "over and above the scene there broods a portentous shadow, the shadow of the law. So long as the law considers all these human beings, with beating hearts and living affections, only as so many things belonging to a master,—so long as the failure, or misfortune, or imprudence, or death of the kindest owner, may cause them any day to exchange a life of the kindest protection and indulgence for one of hopeless misery and toil,—so long it is impossible to make anything beautiful or desirable in the best regulated administration of slavery."
She proceeds to set before the reader the charming household, free-handed, kind and hospitable, to which Uncle Tom belonged. She introduces us to the happy cabin of Uncle Tom and to the light-hearted and grotesque humor of the blacks, to the affectionate and familiar relations between the white household and the slaves, to the lovely, accomplished, and tender-hearted Mrs. Shelby, and to dear old Aunt Chloe. It is a singularly felicitous and typical picture of a Southern household, not in Kentucky alone, but everywhere; even in the "down river" country of which she gives the reader such a horror. She had never lived in the cotton States; but the only family in Louisiana to which she introduces us, except, indeed, the confessedly exceptional one which she selects to show the wretched possibilities of slavery, is equally delightful. It is true that in this she makes the mistress a whining, narrow-minded, selfish creature; but it is hardly to be presumed that she expects the reader to think that that type of her sex is confined to the South. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of the households in the South were fairly typified by the Shelby family in Kentucky. If the reader wants an actual household instead of Mrs. Stowe's fiction, he has only to read Mrs. Smedes' faithful account of her father's plantation in the Recollections of a Southern Planter. He lived in the "down river" country, too, and although there are not many Mr. Dabneys born into the world, he was in no wise an exception, apart from his individual excellences.
This is so well known by everybody in the South whose experiences reach back thirty years, that some apology is needed for dwelling upon it at all; but it may be well to go a little further and say something with regard to what were called the "field hands," especially for the benefit of the younger generation. The almost unbroken rule was that each negro family had a "patch," which they were at liberty to cultivate for their own benefit. On the larger plantations the general rule was that the heavier work was done by task-work, as, for example, in cotton-picking, so many pounds of raw cotton—according to the class of the hand—and after this had been done he was free; or, if he chose to do additional work, he was paid for it as overwork. These tasks were not excessive, for the obvious reason, if for no other, that it would have been bad policy. The negroes raised a good deal of garden stuff, poultry, and eggs, which they sold for their own benefit, or added to their own food supply from the plantation stores. Their clothing, of course, was supplied, and so they were relieved, as far as the actual necessities of life were concerned, of all anxiety and care. In sickness they were attended by the master—more often by the mistress—or by paid physicians. Apart from the demands of mercy and natural affection, (and of affection there was far more than one who never had the opportunity to observe would think possible,) there was a direct personal benefit to the owner in the good health, general welfare, and cheerful bearing of his slaves. Besides this, there were laws in every State holding masters to a strict account for cruelty, neglect, or ill treatment of any sort. But there was that which was stronger than law—there was a universal sentiment among planters which would not tolerate a cruel master.
Thus it was that the blacks had full reason to be contented and happy; and happy they undoubtedly were. No class of laborers on the face of the earth were, as a class, so free from care and so moderately tasked. They showed it in spirit and action, in their light-hearted merry-making, their songs and dances, in their love and devotion to their "white folks." The irrefutable proof of this is that, when they had the fullest opportunity to escape from bondage, without the slightest risk, they did not do it, except in rare instances. There were many negroes with the armies as servants, and, in most cases, they could have passed over to the other side without risk. They may have done so, now and then, but the writer, who had opportunity to observe, never heard of one. He had repeated opportunities, also, to witness the conduct of the blacks upon the approach of the enemy, when nothing would have been easier than for them to desert. It was touching to witness their fidelity. Their good-will and eagerness to get themselves, the stock, and all valuables, out of reach of the Federal army was hearty and conspicuous. Again, if the slaves had felt themselves oppressed and ill-treated, it would have been impossible for the non-slaveholding whites (of whom there were something like ten, to one slave-owner,) not to have known it, and equally impossible for at least large numbers of them not to have sympathized with the blacks in their distress. But the indisputable fact was that this class were substantially solid in their support of slavery. So it was with the free negroes of the South. The writer was actually urged by the freedmen of Mobile to organize them into a battalion to take the field in the Confederate cause.
But the crowning evidence of the kindly feeling between the races is to be seen in the conduct of the blacks during the actual progress of the war. There never was any hesitancy in talking freely before and to them about the war and its causes. They knew perfectly that the conflict was about them, and that the success of the Federal arms meant their freedom. There were large areas in the extreme Southern States from which nearly every able-bodied white man had gone to the scene of war, leaving the old men and the women and children entirely in the hands of the slaves. It was not at all unusual for the managers of plantations to be blacks, with not a white man at hand. They knew, too, that the food supply of the armies depended upon them. There never was an attempt at insurrection; there were no individual acts of violence in any degree traceable to the slavery issue, and there was no falling off in crops on account of diminished effort. If there had been discontent and bad feeling, this could not have been. Further than this, the men in the army who had left their wives and families in the hands of their negroes never had a thought of danger, which could not have been the case had they not known the kindly feeling reciprocally subsisting between the whites and the blacks. And finally, when Mr. Lincoln tremblingly put forth his Emancipation Proclamation, thinking that it would prove a crushing blow to the Southern side, the effect was in no wise greater, as a war measure, than that of the famous Bull against the comet. The English press cried out in horror at what it supposed would be the effect, and its author had suffered great searchings of heart, but it proved to be as innocuous as the fall of a leaf. The war was not shortened one hour in consequence. Its author did not dream—the world could not believe, what everybody in the South knew, touching the natural trust and affection subsisting between the two races. The South was too full of George Shelbys and Eva St. Clares who loved, and were adored by their black mammies—too full of Uncle Toms and black Topsys, with hearts loyal to their "white folks," for rapine and murder to spring up in response to a gift which they did not understand or desire. Freedom, for Mrs. Stowe, had a vivid and sacred meaning—to Sambo it was hazy and far off. Mrs. Stowe's whole soul writhed with a sense of humility and degradation at the thought of personal bondage—the blacks in the South could not have understood what was the matter with her. And thus it was that Mr. Lincoln's proclamation was but as the fuse to an uncharged mine.
Mrs. Stowe paints the fairer side of slavery in colors of full tint. She enters into, and seems to enjoy, the lightheartedness and humor of the domestic life of the blacks, and makes it stand out before the reader with a master touch. She tells us that she did this of set purpose, to "light up the darkness by humorous and grotesque episodes, and the presentation of the milder and more amusing phases of slavery," so that people would read it. This was an artistic insight; and the success of the book is due to just this masterly delineation of the sunny side of the old Southern life. Nothing is more remarkable than Mrs. Stowe's candor at all points. She had the sagacity to see, and the honesty to admit, that corporal punishment was necessary in the management of the blacks. Miss Ophelia—a spinster and a typical native of Vermont—who speaks for the author throughout the book, having come to New Orleans on the invitation of St. Clare, a laissez-faire slaveholder, is actually brought to use the lash with her own hand. St. Clare had turned over Topsy (and those who do not know Topsy have something to learn,) to her sole management, and she had a hard time with her charge.
"'Topsy!' she would say, when at the end of all patience, 'what does make you act so?'
"'Dunno, Missis—I 'spects 'cause I's so wicked!'
"'I don't know anything what I shall do with you, Topsy.'
"'Law, Missis, you must whip me; my old Missis allers whipped me. I ain't used to workin' unless I gits whipped.'
"'Why, Topsy, I don't want to whip you. You can do well, if you've a mind to; what is the reason you won't?'
"'Why, Missis, I's used to whippin'; I spects it's good for me.'
"Miss Ophelia tried the recipe, and Topsy invariably made a terrible commotion, screaming, groaning, and imploring; though half an hour afterwards, when roosted on some projection of the balcony, and surrounded by a flock of admiring 'young uns,' she would express the utmost contempt for the whole affair.
"'Law, Miss Feely whip!—wouldn't kill a skeeter, her whippin's. Oughter see how old Mas'r made the flesh fly; old Mas'r knowed how! . . . Law, you niggers, . . . does you know you's all sinners? Well, you is,—everybody is. White folks is sinners, too—Miss Feely says so; but I spects niggers is the biggest ones; but lor! ye an't any on you up to me. I used to keep old Missis a-swarin' at me half de time. I spects I's the wickedest crittur in de world.'"
But although Mrs. Stowe recognized the kind and even affectionate relationship between the whites and the blacks, she evidently could never get herself up to the point of understanding how it could be. She believed in it, in the abstract, but practically she felt ill whenever the blacks came too near her. Miss Ophelia, whom one cannot but think of as Mrs. Stowe's sister, an excellent and kind-hearted woman, is very much astonished at certain affectionate demonstrations between the whites and blacks when she arrives in New Orleans with her cousin and little Eva.
"'Oh, there's mammy!' said Eva, as she flew across the room; and, throwing herself into her arms she kissed her repeatedly." The old mammy "hugged her, and laughed, and cried, till her sanity was a thing to be doubted of; and when released from her, Eva flew from one to another, shaking hands and kissing, in a way that Miss Ophelia afterwards declared fairly turned her stomach.
"'Well,' said Miss Ophelia, 'you Southern children can do something that I couldn't.'
"'What now, pray?' said St. Clare. . . .
"'Well, I want to be kind to everybody, and I wouldn't have anything hurt; but as to kissing—'
"'Niggers,' said St. Clare, 'that you are not up to,—hey?'
"'Yes, that's it. How can she?'
"'Why not?' said St. Clare.". . . .
"'Why, I don't know; it seems so dreadful.'
"'You would think no harm in a child's caressing a large dog, even if he was black; but a creature that can think, and reason, and feel, and is immortal, you shudder at; confess it, cousin. I know the feeling among some of you Northerners well enough. Not that there is a particle of virtue in our not having it; but custom with us does what Christianity ought to do,—obliterates the feeling of personal prejudice. I have often noticed in my travels North, how much stronger this was with you than with us. You loathe them as you would a snake or a toad, yet you are indignant at their wrongs. You would not have them abused; but you don't want to have anything to do with them yourselves. You would send them to Africa, out of your sight and smell, and then send a missionary or two to do up all the self-denial of elevating them compendiously. Isn't that it?'
"'Well, cousin,' said Miss Ophelia, thoughtfully, 'there maybe some truth in this.'"
When, further on, Eva tells Topsy that Miss Ophelia would love her if she were good, Topsy gives a short, blunt laugh of incredulity; and Eva says:
"'Don't you think so?'
"'No; she can't bar me, 'cause I's a nigger! She'd's soon have a toad [Topsy probably said 'frog'] touch her.'"
And when St. Clare tells his cousin how his mother used to remind him that if we want to give sight to the blind we must be willing to do as Christ did, call them to us and put our hands on them, Miss Ophelia confesses:
"'I've always had a prejudice against negroes, and it's a fact, I never could bear to have that child touch me; but I didn't think she knew it.'"
The difference is this; those who have never lived with the blacks, hold, theoretically, that there ought to be no difference between black and white, and practically make an enormous difference; Southern people holding that there is the greatest possible difference, in practice and upon proper occasion, make none at all.
And now let us glance at the horror side of the picture as set forth by Mrs. Stowe. In the first place, she evidently felt that she must not use decent people as instruments to portray the possibilities of cruelty and hardship to slaves, and accordingly she uses only unmitigated brute-whites to make her points. She begins with the slave-trader, Haley. She implies throughout that he is despised by all decent people—that his business is one which is abhorred by high and low alike. Under circumstances, sufficiently plausible for the novelist, but quite improbable in fact, she makes the weak Shelby sell Uncle Tom to Haley, and Haley carries him to New Orleans, with some scenes on the way of unusual brutality. He is bought by the generous, but soft and nonchalant St. Clare, through the influence of little Eva. He finds himself in a delightful home, with far less to do, and in the midst of hearts just as kind as those he had left in Kentucky.
To heighten the crisis, Mrs. Stowe shows us St. Clare on the point of giving poor Tom his free papers, when he is accidentally shot. The household passes into the hands of the peevish, narrow-minded, selfish Marie, St. Clare's wife, who shortly after sends a lot of servants to the auction-rooms—(a most improbable course with trained servants, who could always be disposed of to a better advantage by private arrangement)—and Uncle Tom passes into the hands of one Legree—a seafaring man from New England, who, having knocked down his mother as she was kneeling at his feet, beseeching him to lead a better life, cursed her roundly while she lay senseless on the floor, and fled to his ship, sailing forth to practise the gentle ways of a West India Pirate. This monster held up by the restraints of no neighbors or on-lookers, Mrs. Stowe makes the happy owner of a plantation upon Red River, ten miles away from anybody, and here it is that she enacts her crowning tragedy. Legree makes the black fiends, whom he has trained, whip Tom in order to make him tell what he knows about the escape of two women, and carries it too far. Tom dies under it. It is not wonderful that the author was overcome by her own emotions after she had wrought the infernal scenes on that plantation. It is, of course, within the limits of possibility that such a diabolical tragedy may have happened, but it required a fiend who had not been raised among negroes, and with a heart black enough to cuff a tender mother, who was on her knees out of love for him, to play the leading part. It was possible; and so was the abominable status of the women on that plantation, and in the other scenes of milder type in the book, but so was that scene up in New England, and so are the scenes brought to light day after day all over the world, of wife-torture and child-beating. Laws!—what can they do? Legree was violating the law in Louisiana just as much as he was on the Spanish main and in the prudent North.
The day is far distant when such things will not be done, and alas! the abolition of slavery has not put an end to them in the South. The whole book is a non sequitur, though it requires a cool head not to be carried away by its pathos. Put into syllogistic form, it would run:
The possibility of brutality under any institution is sufficient cause for its abolition:
Slavery is such an institution:
Therefore it ought to be abolished.
The fallacy lies in the major premise.
Brutality has existed and still exists in the Church and in government; but most people at least, do not think that they ought to be abolished. Try it with the institution of matrimony. Compare the possibilities of cruelty under slavery with actual outrages in family life!—but ought matrimony, therefore, to be abolished? Some people think so. Read Tolstoi's Kreutzer Sonata, for example.
Mrs. Stowe recognized the fact that the only difference between people in the North and those in the South was that of environment; and that wherever a man might come from, a residence among the blacks soon brought him to think with the prevailing sentiment. She seems also to have felt that men brought up with the negroes were not the persons to expect the highest type of cruelty from. She makes St. Clare say to Miss Ophelia, in one of their many talks on the subject of slavery:
"'My father, you know, came first from New England; and he was just such another man as your father,—a regular old Roman—upright, energetic, noble-minded, with an iron will. Your father settled down in New England, to rule over rocks and stones, and to force an existence out of Nature; and mine settled in Louisiana, to rule over men and women, and force existence out of thern.'"
Then having paid a beautiful tribute to his mother, he continues:
"'Well, my father worked some five hundred negroes; he was an inflexible, driving, punctilious business man; everything was to move by system-to be sustained with unfailing accuracy and precision. Now if you take into account that all this was to be worked out by a set of lazy, twaddling, shiftless laborers, who had grown up, all their lives, in the absence of every possible motive to learn how to do anything but 'shirk,' as you Vermonters say, you'll see that there might naturally be, on his plantation, a great many things that looked horrible and distressing to a sensitive child like me.
"'Besides all, he had an overseer,—a great, tall, slabsided, two-fisted renegade son of Vermont (begging your pardon), who had gone through a regular apprenticeship in hardness and brutality, and taken his degree to be admitted to practice. My mother could never endure him, nor I, but he obtained an entire ascendancy over my father; and this man was the absolute despot of the estate. . . . Your father . . . settles in Vermont, in a town where all are, in fact, free and equal, becomes a regular church-member and deacon, and in due time joins an Abolition society, and thinks us all little better than heathens. Yet he is, for all the world, in constitution and habit, a duplicate of my father. . . . If both had owned plantations in Louisiana, they would have been as like as two old bullets cast in the same mould.'"
There is genuine candor in all this on Mrs. Stowe's part. She makes St. Clare say, with her evident approval:
"'In those days [when he was a boy] this matter of slavery had never been canvassed as it has now; nobody dreamed of any harm in it.'"
Mrs. Stowe was especially incited to write her book by the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, and she gives us a graphic picture of the under-ground railroad for helping slaves to escape to Canada. Of course this was all in violation of law, and many of the State governments even had set the Federal law at defiance with a high hand, in so far nullifying the Federal Constitution. This was in the spirit of what Mr. Seward said not long after, from the steps of Faneuil Hall, about the "higher law." But time rolled on, and the horror and indignation of millions at a state of case which had no truth except in their fevered imaginations, had overthrown slavery, and overthrown the whites with it. In the train of the wreckage, there had come upon the South a threat of and, in many cases, the actual domination of the whites by the blacks through the elective franchise bestowed upon the latter. The property, the lives, the very possibility of existence were in the balance. If there ever was a case where an appeal to the higher law was justifiable it was then. It had been a resort to the higher law on the part of the Abolitionists, by even such cool-headed men as William H. Seward, and that for a mere ill-founded sentiment, which had nullified the Constitution in the North with respect to property in slaves; and now the higher law, indeed the law of desperation and necessity, presented itself, and the newly bestowed franchise proved to be of small value. For a time, in certain quarters, an abnormal state, sustained by the bayonet, obtained,—the African dominated the Caucasian;—but, as water put on top of oil will not stay there, so the higher laws of nature prevailed and the white blood worked its way to the top. Is there any fair-minded man who does not see that it had to be so, and that it has the apology of necessity?
And now, in the light of forty years' practical experience, we may ask what has been the result of this work of honest fanaticism? The slaves are free—if that can be called freedom which they now enjoy. Are they happier? Well, it is hard to define what happiness is. Few of them would go back into their old state, and all would now be very unhappy if they could be remanded to it; but, as a rule, those negroes who are old enough to have experiences worth remembering, do not hesitate to declare that the state of bondage was far happier. The air and manner of most of them are sadly changed for the worse. That free and open cheerfulness, ready to burst out into peals of laughter, the prompt and respectful bow, the song and dance, the jollity at Christmas, and the expression of love and loyalty to the white people, are in large degree gone. Surliness and reserve have taken their place. Crimes have become ten-fold more numerous, and some, never heard of in old times, have become common. No; if happiness were the end and object of life, the negroes in the South could not be said to have gained by the change. But blessedness, not happiness, is the true end; and the new condition has thrust enormously more responsibility upon them, and, it may be that, in consequence, they may in time rise to higher things than now obtain; but it may well be questioned if the new state will ever match the Christian fidelity of Uncle Tom, the faithful tenderness of Aunt Chloe, and the patience and love of Eva's mammy. Shades of the sweet and peaceful Southern home of older days! Gone from the face of the earth forever! The price of progress is at the cost of bleeding hearts. Bleeding hearts!—has Mrs. Stowe ever tried to think what her book has been a chief factor of bringing upon the world? Has she ever tried to weigh the occasional and rare horrors of the old slave days, hard as they were, against the agonies of the million of brave men mutilated and done to death in the ranks of the blue and gray? Has she ever reflected upon the ten—the twenty millions of wives and mothers, sweethearts and daughters, whose hearts have been torn up by the roots at the wild slaughter between brothers? Truly the indulgence of sentiment is costly.
With the whites in the South the gain is beyond reckoning. It is they who have been freed, and the glory and power which has come, and is coming to them by their relief from the burden of slavery, is, perhaps, the chief result in the mysterious workings of Providence.