Art. III.— UNCLE TOM'S CABIN
1. "Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Life among the Lowly." By HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.
2. Westminster Review.—July, 1852.—Contemporary Literature of America.
TRULY it would seem that the labour of Sisyphus is laid upon us, the slaveholders of these southern United States. Again and again have we, with all the power and talent of our clearest heads and strongest intellects, forced aside the foul load of slander and villanous aspersion so often hurled against us, and still, again and again, the unsightly mass rolls back, and, heavily as ever, fall the old refuted libels, vamped, remodelled, and lumbering down upon us with all the force, or at least impudent assumption, of new argument. We anticipate here the answer and application of our charitable opponents. We, too, have studied our mythology, and remember well, that the aforesaid Sisyphus was condemned to his torment for the sins of injustice, oppression and tyranny. Like punishment to like sin, will, no doubt, be their corollary. Boldly, however, before God and man, we dare hold up our hand and plead "not guilty." Clearly enough do we see through the juggle of this game. It is no hand of destiny, no fiat of Jove, which rolls back upon us the labouring bulk. There is an agent behind the curtain, vulnerable at least as ourselves; and the day may yet come when, if this unlucky game cease not, the destructive mass shall find another impetus, and crush beneath its unexpected weight, the hand which now directs it, we scarce know whether in idle wantonness or diabolic malice.
Among the revelations of this passing year, stand prominent the
volumes we are about to review. In the midst of political turmoil,
Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe has determined to put
her finger in the pot, and has, it would
seem, made quite a successful dip. Wordy philanthropy, which
blows the bellows for discontent, and sends poor fools wandering
through the clouds upon its treacherous breezes, yet finds no crumb
of bread for one hungry stomach, is at a high premium now-a-days.
Ten thousand dollars (the amount, it is said, of the sales of her
work) was, we presume, in the lady's opinion, worth risking a
little scalding for. We wish her joy of her ten thousand thus
easily gained, but would be loath to take with it the foul
gination which could invent such scenes, and the malignant bitterness (we had almost said ferocity) which, under the veil of christian charity, could find the conscience to publish them. Over this, their new-laid egg, the abolitionists, of all colours,—black, while, and yellow,—foreign and domestic,—have set up so astounding a cackle, it is very evident, that (labouring, perhaps, under some mesmeric biologic influence) they think the goose has laid its golden egg at last. They must wake up from their dream, to the sad disappointment of finding their fancied treasure an old addle thing, whose touch contaminates with its filth.
There is nothing new in these volumes. They are, as we have said, only the old Sisyphus rock, which we have so often tumbled over, tinkered up, with considerable talent and cunning, into a new shape, and rolled back upon us. One step, indeed, we do seem to have gained. One accusation at least, which, in bygone times, used to have its changes rung among the charges brought against us, is here forgotten. We see no reference to the old habit, so generally (according to some veracious travellers) indulged in these Southern States, of fattening negro babies for the use of the soup-pot. This, it would appear, is a species of black broth which cannot be swallowed any longer. If, however, Mrs. Stowe has spared us the story of this delectable soup, with the small nigger paws floating in it by way of garnish, truly it is all that she has spared us. Libels almost as shocking to humanity, she not only indulges herself in detailing, but dwells upon with a gusto and a relish quite edifying to us benighted heathen, who, constantly surrounded (as according to her statements we are) by such moving scenes and crying iniquities, yet, having ear, bear not, and having eyes, see not those horrors whose stench become an offence to the nostrils of our sensitive and self constituted directors.
Most painful it is to us to comment upon a work of this kind. What
though "our withers be unwrung!" Does slander cease to be painful
because it is gross? Is it enough for us to know that these obscene
and degrading scenes are false as the spirit of mischief which
dictated them and can we, therefore, indifferently see these loathsome
rakings of a foul fancy passed as current coin upon the world, which
receives them as sketches of American life by an Ame-
rican citizen? We cannot; and loathsome as is the task; little as we hope to be heard in any community where such a work can be received and accredited, and where the very fact of such reception proves at once that our case is prejudged; yet will we speak and sift the argument of this fair lady, who so protests against vice that we might think her, like that "noble sister of Publicola," that "moon of Rome"
"Chaste as the icicle
were it not that her too vivid imagination, going so far ahead of facts, shows too clearly, that not now, for the first time, does it travel the muddy road. Some hints from the unfortunately fashionable reading of the day—some flashes from the French school of romance—some inspirations from the Sues and the Dumas', have evidently suggested the tenor of her pages.
The literary taste of our day (i. e. the second-rate literary taste; the fashionable novel-reading taste) demands excitement. Nothing can be spiced too high. Incident, incident, and that of the vilest kind, crowds the pages of those novels which are now unfortunately all the vogue. The "Mysteries of Paris," "Monte Cristo," the "Wandering Jew," et id genus omne, leave the diseased taste of the reader, who has long subsisted on such fare, sick, sick and palled as it is with the nauseous diet, still, with a constant craving, like that of the diseased palate of the opium eater, for its accustomed drug. For such tastes, Mrs. Stowe has catered well. Her facts are remarkable facts—very. Let us see on what authority she bases them. This is a question worth examining, as she here assumes to have given us an exhibition of slavery in its "living dramatic reality." In her "concluding remarks," appended to the second volume of the edition (seventh thousand) which we have, she says:
"The writer has often been enquired of by correspondents from
different parts of the country, whether this narrative is a true one;
and to these enquiries she will give one general answer. The separate
incidents which compose her narrative, are, to a very great extent,
authentic, occurring, many of them, under her own observation, or that
of her personal friends. She or her friends have observed characters the
counterpart of almost all that are here introduced;
and many of the sayings are word for word, as heard herself, or reported to her."
We can only say, in answer to this, that "she and her friends" are far from being, in our minds, decisive authority. If she says "it is," just as emphatically do we answer "it is not." What vender of falsehood but vouches for the truth of his own fabrications? She tells us,
"Some of the most deeply tragic and romantic, some of the most terrible incidents, have also their parallel in reality."
And again, of one of her most horrible inventions, she remarks:
"That this scene has too many times had its parallel, there are living witnesses all over our land to testify."
Living witnesses, all over our land, are such intangible antagonists that it would be a worse combat than that of Don Quixotte against the wind-mills, for us to undertake them, and therefore we must let them pass. One stray sheep, however, she does introduce, and as we cannot be cheated, by the clouds of dust she has kicked up, to mistake him for a giant, we will not need to encounter him, the courage exhibited by the celebrated Don in his attack upon a flock of the same animals. She says, with reference to a story of brutal persecution and slow murder,
"The story of old Prue, in the second volume, was an incident that fell under the personal observation of a brother of the writer, then collecting clerk to a large mercantile house in New Orleans. From the same source was derived the character of the planter, Legree. Of him, her brother thus wrote, speaking of visiting his plantation on a collecting tour: 'He actually made me feel of his fist, which was like a blacksmith's hammer, or a nodule of iron, telling me that it was 'calloused with knocking down niggers.' When I left the plantation I drew a long breath, and felt as if I had escaped from an ogre's den.'"
Tho testimony of this brother is the only one which she cites,
except in the general "all over the land" style, which we have noticed;
and we think any one who has spent spent six months of his life in a
southern city will recognize the type of this her solitary authority.
Who has not seen the green Yankee youth opening his eyes and mouth for
every piece of stray intelligence; eager for horrors; gulping the wildest
tales, and exaggerating even as he swallows them?
Why, this fellow is to be met with in every ship-load of candidates for clerkships who come out like bees to suck our honey; but so choke-full the while, of all they have heard of the horrors and dangers incident to these latitudes, that they wink their eyes and dodge a fancied pistol or bowie-knife, whenever a man but raises his hand to touch his hat to the stranger. Having made up their minds that Southerners are all brutes, what earthly power can cure the moral near-sight? Not reason, certainly, nor fact either. Their school dame taught it to them with their catechism; and surely those green eyes could never be expected to see across the catechism and the school dame's teachings far enough to learn the truth. Pity that this gentle Balaam of a brother had not possessed a little of the cunning and courage of those favourite heroes of our childish days, "Puss in Boots," and "Jack the Giant Killer," that he might have decisively disposed of this redoubtable ogre with nodules of iron hands, instead of sneaking out of his den and leaving him there, like a great "Giant Despair," to devour all unfortunate pilgrims who fell in his way. How poor Balaam summoned courage to feel of that fist, "calloused with knocking down niggers," we can-not imagine. Verily, there are trials by land, and trials by water, and poor Balaam, apparently, cared not to put his delicate person in danger from any of them. Seriously, is it not easy here to perceive that a raw, suspicious Yankee youth having "happened" (as he would say) in contact with a rough overseer, a species of the genus homo evidently quite new to him, has been half gulled by the talk of the fellow who has plainly intended to quiz him, and has half gulled himself with his own fears while in the vicinity of this novel character, whom he, poor gentle specimen of Yankee humanity, has absolutely mistaken for an ogre, because his hand is hard. That the fellow himself made the speech quoted by Balsam, viz., that his fist was "calloused by knocking down niggers," we more than doubt—that elegant word "calloused" being one entirely new to our dictionary, and savouring, we think, much more of Yankee-clerk origin and Noah Webster, than of Southern birth.
Upon the whole, the authorities of our authoress put us in mind of
one of our earliest trials in life. Our first entrance upon school being
made in one of our Northern cities, we found ourselves, before
the first week of probation was over, the object of some comment among the younger members of the establishment, and were finally accused, by the leader of the little faction, of coming from the land of negro-dom. To this charge, we, of course, could but plead guilty, wondering, in our little mind, what sin there could be in the association. A portion of our iniquities we soon had revealed to us. "Father's cousin's wife's sister was at the South once, and she knows all about how you treat your negroes! She knows that you feed them with cotton-seed, and put padlocks on their mouths to keep them from eating corn while they are in the field." Vainly we protested; as vainly reasoned. Authority was against us, and the pad-lock story vouched by "father's cousin's wife's sister, a very nice lady, that always told the truth," was swallowed by the majority, and received in our Lilliput community with as undisputed credence as Mrs. Stowe's brother's account of the fist "calloused by knocking down niggers" will be gulped down by her admirers. A lady-friend of ours, travelling northward a summer or two since, was similarly enlightened as to some of the iniquities constantly practiced round us, but which, blinded creatures that we are, we have to leave home to discover. Miss C., she was informed, had a cousin who had gone school-keeping to Georgia, and that cousin told Miss C., on her word, as a lady, that she had often and often seen baskets full of ears and noses cut and pulled from the negroes by way of punishment and torture. Miss C. couldn't say whether they were big baskets or little ones; she supposed they were not very big ones, because the supply of ears and noses would be exhausted, and she did not suppose it was a case to call for miraculous increase. She could not account for it all exactly, but she knew that it was true—she did. Her cousin was a lady, and had seen it herself. Pity it is that Mrs. Stowe bad not made acquaintance with Miss C.'s cousin; the ears and noses would have made a fine picturesque point, graphically introduced among her "dramatic realities." The Balaam brother, however, seems to answer her purpose pretty well, and upon his testimony about the nodule-fisted gentleman, and some enlightenments from a speech of the freesoil Massachusetts Senator, Horace Mann, she has manufactured a character which would shame the Caliban of Shakspeare. That great master of the human mind, when he
imagined a being devoid of all human feeling and yet possessed of something like human form, remembered that, in the wildest flights of imagination, there must still be kept up a semblance of probability, and painted him, therefore, free also from human parentage. Shakspeare's Caliban was a monster of devilish origin, to whom Sycorax, his dam, bequeathed but little of humanity. Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, however, gives to her Caliban a human mother; a gentle, fair-haired, loving mother, and does not shame to pass upon us as a man—this beast, this brute—without conscience and without heart—devoid equally of common sense and common feeling.
The Westminster Review, in noticing, with high approbation, these
volumes of Mrs. Stowe, takes upon itself to pronounce that she has
therein exhibited the "concealed realities" of the system of slavery,
"without falling either into vulgarity or exaggeration." The opportunities
of the writers of the Westminster to judge of our habits and manners, must,
we should suppose, be small; and whence they may have received the capacity
for so dogmatically determining the point at issue, we cannot well guess.
Simple assertion is easily answered by counter-assertion. We assert that there is in this dramatic sample of abolitionism, not
only vulgarity and exaggeration, but gross vulgarity and absolute falsehood.
The Westminster goes on to remark of this infamous libel upon our people,
that the "darkest part of it is possible within the
law," that "the slave-code authorizes these very
enormities," and, therefore, whether these things be true or not, it
is the "privilege of the artist" so to represent them. We answer, that such
transactions are not possible within the law; that
murder of the slave is equally punishable with murder of the free man; that
the slave-code does not authorize these enormities;
that our laws protect, as far as legislation can, the very beast from
cruelty and barbarous treatment. How much more the slave! Cruelty cannot
always be prevented. The parent may ill-treat his child; the man his wife,
without giving tangible cause for prosecution. But where such cause can be
found, an individual may with us, precisely as in any other well-governed
country, be indicted for unjust oppression of any kind, whether of beast,
of child, or of slave. The public feeling with us is, we believe, as
delicate, and as much on the alert upon such points, as in any part of
the world. Indeed, the existence of a system of slavery rather tends to
increase than diminish this feeling, as, leaving a larger portion of society in a state of tutelage, naturally and necessarily greater attention is turned to the subject. If, therefore, the shadow of such enormities as these volumes describe may sometimes be, we deny that it is "the artist's privilege" to cull out the most horrible exceptional cases, and to represent them as forming the manners and habits of a whole people, vouching for them as fac simile representations of real life. What would the Westminster say if one should take the celebrated murderer, Burke, (whose notorious name has given a new word to our language,) with some half dozen other such desperadoes, easy to imagine, and write a novel thereon, to depict English manners of the nineteenth century, only using so far "the privilege of the artist" as to represent Mr. Burke as an accomplished gentleman, circulating freely in English society, and his satellites as tolerated and every-day frequenters of the same? What would Mrs. Stowe herself say should we take the Parkman tragedy, (a much better foundation, by the way, than anything she has raked up in her Southern investigations,) and represent such gentlemen as of daily frequency in the pure New England society, the morals of which she would contrast with our own. If the lowest vices of the lowest men,—if the darkest crimes of the darkest villains,—actions which the vilest of mankind, only in their moments of blackest passion, can perpetrate,—are to be culled out with care, and piled upon each other, to form a monster disgusting to humanity, let the creator of so unnatural a conception give to his Frankenstein the name as well as the character of the monsters of fable. Let the creature stalk before us as some ghoul or afrite, and we shudder at the supernatural might of evil, which does not strike us as unnatural, because it does not claim to be of the nature of anything with which we are acquainted. But let the same creature be represented to us as a man,—above all, as one of many men, forming an integral part of a community of civilized men—and the effect becomes simply ridiculous where it is not disgusting. God made man in his own image—Mrs. Stowe has very decidedly set up a rival manufacture in the devil's image.
The Westminster says that this work "cannot be accused of presenting
a one-sided view;" that "it is rather remarkable for its breadth of
view," "its genial charity." There are some good men
and women, it thinks, among the characters represented. "St. Clare is a humane and cultivated gentleman." We must make our readers acquainted with this model Southern gentleman before answering this observation.
In the meantime, permit us to ask, whether, in the results of
governmental systems, as in all else, it is not a fair criterion to
judge the tree by its fruit? Shall we cut down the fruitful and
flourishing tree because, theoretically, it was ill-planted, or
because its roots do not grow by rule, as A., B., or C.; or even as
whole communities of A's, B's and C's judge most decorous and most
productive? If there is any community whose system of government
works better for all classes than our own, we are willing to abandon
the defence of ours. But if, after all honest investigation, it has
to be conceded, as, in spite of travellers' slanders, is conceded,
has been proved by many an able essay, and can easily be proved again,
whenever space and time are allowed for the subject; if, we say, it
be acknowledged that no where are the higher classes more
elevated—no where are the lower more comfortable—no where
do both and all work together in their several positions with less of
bitterness or more of the genial spirit of christian love and
charity—that nowhere is there less misery and less vice exhibited
than under the working of our system; if cases of wrong and oppression
(which exist in every system, and must exist so long as man is not perfect)
are, as in all good governments they must be, exceptional cases, and not
cases in rule;—if all this is, as we contend it is, proved and
conceded, what matters it if Mrs. Stowe's theory, or Mr. Horace Mann's,
or Mr. Giddings's, or Mrs. Stowe's store-clerk brother's theory points it
out as iniquitous! It is not enough to condemn
such a system, even were it true, as the Westminster falsely states, that
the horrors imagined by Mrs. Stowe are "possible within the law." Evils,
to be felt, must be tangible and not theoretic evils. It is not enough
that a master might do this, and might do that.
The question is, what does he, in the majority
of cases, do? How does the system work? not how ought
it to work, according to my theory, or your theory, or his theory! Theory
has done, and is doing, wild work in our world, of late years. The French
universal equality and fraternity theory, for instance, after inundating
the country in blood, and trying its wing in every variety of communistic
and socialistic flight, has finally theo-
rized itself away into as hard a despotism as tyrant could desire. The Mormon theory has introduced regular and legally established polygamy into these United States. The woman's rights theory is putting the ladies into their husband's pantaloons; and Mrs. Stowe's theory would lead them, heaven knows where! All spirit of joking leaves us as we look shudderingly forward to her results. Amalgation is evidently no bugbear to this lady.
But let us look a little into the drama of our romance. The book opens with the introduction of "two gentlemen," seated at a table in a house, of which the general style "indicated easy and even opulent circumstances." The master of the house is one of the "gentlemen" The other, "when critically examined, did not seem, strictly speaking, to come under the species." This gentleman, who proves to be a slave-trader, but who must be so critically examined to discover that he is not strictly a gentleman, seems, however, quite at his ease, and rattles his watch-seals like a man of consequence,—hale fellow well met with the opulent signor, whom he constantly and familiarly terms Shelby, (leaving off the form of Mr.,) and occasionally slaps on the back, to make his conversation more impressive. Into what society can Mrs. Stowe have been admitted, to see slave-traders so much at their ease in gentlemen's homes? We have lived at the South, in the very heart of a slave country, for thirty years out of forty of our lives, and have never seen a slave-trader set foot in a gentleman's house. Such a debut argues somewhat queerly for the society with which madame and her clerk-brother have associated, and prepares us for some singular scenes in the elegant circles to which she introduces us.
To give some idea of the style of these volumes, we will presently
quote a page from the conversation of these two
gentlemen. Mr. Shelby, the opulent owner of the
house, is, it appears, in debt to an amount not stated, but, as he
proposes paying his debt by the transfer of one
negro, we are to presume that it does not exceed a thousand dollars.
Strange to say, this opulent Kentucky gentleman has no resource in so
pressing a difficulty, but the sale of a favourite negro, the manager
of his farm, and his companion from childhood. There are, apparently,
neither banks nor friends who could loan so enormous a sum as one
thousand dollars to rescue the opulent gentleman from this difficulty,
or Mr. Shelby is of the same opinion,
perhaps, as our little girl of six years old, who shakes her head gravely and exclaims, "one thousand dollars! why, there is not so much money in this world, I think." At any rate it is so insurmountable a difficulty that, for this one thousand dollars, our opulent gentleman forgets that he is a gentleman—forgets that he is a man—forgets honour, principle, gratitude, and common sense, and offers his old black friend, his father's slave, his childhood's companion and guardian, the manager of his farm, the husband and father of a whole family of attached servants, to this brute of a slave-dealer, with decidedly more coolness than we could command in ordering the whipping of a thievish cur. To heighten the value of the commodity offered, this gentleman is praising his wares in rather singular language, by-the-way, for an educated man.
"Tom is a good, steady, sensible, pious fellow. He got religion at a camp-meeting four years ago."
To which remark the gentleman negro trader, who must be so critically examined to discover that he is not strictly of the first stamp, responds (we beg our readers to notice the elegant familiarity of his style):
"Some folks don't believe there is pious niggers, Shelby; but I do. I had a fellow now, in this yer last lot I took to Orleans—'twas as good as a meetin', now, really, to hear that critter pray; and he was quite gentle and quiet like. He fetched me a good sum, too, for I bought him cheap of a man that was 'bliged to sell out; so I realized six hunderd on him. Yes, I consider religion a valeyable thing in a nigger, when its the genuine article and no mistake."
To this, instead of kicking the scoundrel out of doors, our opulent gentleman answers, politely falling into the tone of his companion:
"Well, Tom's got the real article, if ever fellow had. You ought to let him cover the whole balance of the debt; and you would, Haley, if you had any conscience."
"Well, I've got just as much conscience as any man in business can afford to keep—just a little, you know, to swear by, as 'twere," said the trader jocularly; "and then I'm ready to do anything in reason to 'blige friends; but this yer, you see, is a leetle too hard on a fellow—a leetle too hard."
O tempera! O mores! This is a
leetle too hard to swallow.
But let us go on. After a little more conversation of the same kind, "a small quadroon boy, four or five years of age," makes his appearance. Evidently this "small quadroon" is a gentleman at large, and a pet in the family, for he enters unsummoned, is patted on his "curly head," and "chucked under the chin" by his master, who receives him in whistling and "snapping a bunch of raisins at him." The gentleman master then, for the amusement of his gentleman visitor, causes his "small quadroon" to go through sundry funny exhibitions, such as imitating "Uncle Cudjoe when he has the rheumatism," showing "how old Elder Robbins leads the psalm," &c., during which exhibitions "both the gentlemen laughed uproariously." On their termination, the gentleman visitor bursts out anew:
"Hurrah! bravo! what a young 'un! that chap's a case, I'll promise. Tell you what," said he, suddenly clapping his hand on Mr. Shelby's shoulder, "fling in that chap, and I'll settle the business—I will. Come, now, if that ain't doing the thing up about the rightest!"
The mother of the child at that moment making her appearance, carries him off; and as soon as she leaves the room, our facetious and gentlemanly trader, struck with her saleable qualities, takes a new start.
"By Jupiter! there's an article now! You might make your fortune on that ar gal in Orleans, any day. I've seen over a thousand, in my day, paid down for gals not a bit handsomer."
The Westminster finds no vulgarity nor exaggeration in these volumes! In answer to this vulgar insolence, the master of the house can apparently find no better way of showing his disapprobation, than by uncorking a fresh bottle of wine, of which he politely asks the opinion of his polished guest.
"Capital, sir! first chop!" said the trader; then turning and slapping his hand familiarly on Shelby's shoulder, he added: "Come, how will you trade about the gal?"
But enough of this disgusting vulgarity. Need we say to any reader who
has ever associated with decent society anywhere, that Mrs. Stowe evidently
does not know what "a gentleman" is. We will pass over the one who, upon
critical examination, shows that he is somewhat
deficient; but what will any gentleman or lady say
to Mr. Shelby? Mrs. Stowe has associated much, it would appear, with negroes, mulattoes and abolitionists; possibly, in her exalted dreams for the perfection of the race, she has forgotten the small punctilios of what, in the ordinary parlance of the world, is called decent society. She will, therefore, perhaps, excuse a hint from us, that her next dramatic sketch would be much improved by a somewhat increased decency of deportment in her performers. Whatever may be the faults, the vices, or the crimes of any man holding the position of gentleman (at least we vouch for a southern community), he would be above such coarse vulgarity. We would suggest, too (as she, no doubt, taken up with her glorious aspirations, and high and uncommon feelings, has forgotten what portion of common ones more ordinary creatures have), that it would be well to allow the appearance of the shadow of such even to us wretched slaveholders. If we are brutes, we usually try to appear a little more like human beings; and it would decidedly look more "nateral like" so to represent us. She describes this Mr. Shelby as "a fair, average kind of man, good-natured and kindly;" and yet, after the above scene, and a great deal more of discussion as to how a mother bears to have her children taken from her, in which the negro-trading gentleman, Haley, edifies the opulent gentleman, Shelby, with sundry descriptions in the taste and tone of the following:
"I've seen 'em as would pull a woman's child out of her arms, and set him up to sell, and she screechin' like mad all the time; very bad policy—damages the article—makes 'em quite unfit for service sometimes. I knew a real handsome gal once in Orleans, as was entirely ruined by this sort o' handling. The fellow that was tradin' for her, didn't want her baby; and she was one of your real high sort, when her blood was up. I tell you, she squeezed up her child in her arms, and talked, and went on real awful. It kinder makes my blood cold to think on't; and when they carried off the child, and locked her up, she jest went ravin' mad, and died in a week. Clear waste, sir, of a thousand dollars, just for want of management."
After this, we say, the " good-natured and kindly" Mr. Shelby
determines to sell the child in a quiet way, to avoid the
screechin', by stealing it away from its
mother. Upon this very probable and natural incident, as Mrs. Stowe
and the Westminster pronounce it,
turns the principal romance of the story. The woman runs away with her child, and after adventures infinite, finally arrives among the Quakers and in Canada, &c.
In the next scene, the authoress introduces us to one of her high and noble characters—one of those whose hearts, uncontaminated by the debasing effects of our system, rise above it. We will see whether she understands this class better than the gentlemanly, "good-natured and kindly:"
"Mrs. Shelby was a woman of a high class, both intellectually and morally;" with "magnanimity and generosity of mind,"—"high moral and religious sensibility and principles, carried out with energy and ability into practical results."
This very sensible, moral and religious lady, when made acquainted
with her husband's brutal conduct, is very naturally distressed at it.
But what remedy does she find? Does she consult with him as a wife should
consult? Does she advise as a woman can advise? Does she suggest means
and remedies for avoiding such a crisis? Does she endeavour to show her
husband the fully and madness, as well as the wickedness, of his course?
No. After a few remonstrances, feebly advanced, she, too, (the high
intellectual woman!) seems to be struck dumb with the insurmountability
of that terrible debt which is to be paid by the sale of
one elderly man and a little child; she, too,
seems to think there is no imaginable way for a comfortable farmer or
planter to get round that enormous sum of the one thousand dollars or
thereabouts; and neither she nor her good-natured and kindly husband,
seem to imagine or to care, whether it might not be possible—quite
as easy, perhaps—(should they be forced to part with a negro or two)
to dispose of them in families to some humane neighbour (such servants as
these are described to be, seldom go begging for owners), instead of tearing
them apart and selling to a brutal slave-dealer, whom Mr. Shelby himself
describes as "cool and unhesitating, and unrelenting as death and the
grave." No; she thinks she fulfils her Christian duty much better, by
letting the "faithful, confiding, excellent creature, Tom," who is willing
"to lay down his life" for his master, "be torn in a moment" from all he
holds dear, the petted and delicate child, from its petted and delicate
mother, while she, the magnanimous woman, who carries out her high
principles with energy
into practical results, bursts out into a tirade, which, if anything could, might excuse the cold brutality of her husband, by the supposition that the poor man had gone crazy under similar lectures:
"This is God's curse on slavery!—a bitter, bitter, most accursed thing!—a curse to the master and a curse to the slave! I was a fool to think I could make anything good out of such a deadly evil. It is a sin to hold a slave under laws like ours—I always felt it was." "Abolitionist! If they knew all I know about slavery they might talk!" &c., &c., &c.
Poor Mr. Shelby! perhaps we have blamed him too soon. It would not have been astonishing if, with so inspiring a sample of femininity about him, he should have gone raving mad, and after cutting, selling and slashing, wound up by a lunatic asylum. This worthy couple, however, go quietly to bed; and such was their philosophical equanimity of mind, that "they slept somewhat later than usual the ensuing morning." And so little is Mrs. Shelby troubled by the impending evil (having, we presume, set her conscience at ease by the cursing steam-burst of the preceding evening), that on making up somewhat later than usual, she quietly lies in bed, ringing her bell to summon Eliza (the unfortunate mother of the "small quadroon," who is this morning to see her son transferred to Mr. Haley's tender mercies); and "after giving repented pulls of her bell to no purpose," coolly exclaims: "I wonder what keeps Eliza!" Oh! blessed composure amidst life's whirl! She has apparently no sins upon her mind, nor cares either, dear, virtuous lady! She cursed them all off upon her husband and slavery last night!
But enough of this incomprehensible family. This Mrs. Shelby is one
of Mrs. Stowe's "first chop" ladies. Let us now look a little into the
model gentleman slaveholder of the work, Mr. St.
Clare, who is pronounced by the Westminster to be a "humane and cultivated
gentleman." He is first introduced to us, joking familiarly with the
fascinating Mr. Haley, (who seems to have a wonderful facility in making
his vulgarity acceptable to real gentlemen,) concerning the purchase of
"Uncle Tom," of whom, having taken possession, "soul and body," (to use
a favourite expression of Mrs. Stowe, to the propriety of which we are
far from prepared to accede,) we follow him into the home of an elegant
family. The household consists of the master, who, having been partly educated in New-England, cannot be entirely corrupted by the system of things round him; a New-England cousin, with some prejudices, but very sensible of course, and
"E'en her failings lean to virtue's side;"
A wife, of whom more anon; and a very angelic little daughter, who, being destined to die early, is, according to approved rule in such cases, represented as a terrible piece of precocity, and a kind of ministering, guiding angel to the whole family.
The wife "had been, from her infancy, surrounded with servants, who lived only to study her caprices; the idea that they had either feelings or rights never dawned upon her, even in distant perspective."
Heartless, selfish, foolish, and entirely corrupted by "the system," this strangely obtuse person still appears before us as an elegant woman of fortune. She seems to have no object in life, but by continued fretfulness to torment her husband, servants, and household generally, just as much as one person can well manage. Yet, as she is at the head of a princely establishment, and has been all her life accustomed to the elegancies, indulgences and luxuries of the highest style of living, we must, it is to be presumed, take it for granted that she has the manners of a lady, whatever inherent defects of character, selfish, or even cruel, might exist. Indeed, the authoress seems anxious to impress upon us a high opinion of the elegant ease and grace of this voluptuously educated lady, whom she deseribes as "so graceful, so elegant, so airy and undulating in all her motions;" who has been cradled and grown up in such luxurious elegance as would become some Eastern sultana.
Such a woman, it may be well imagined, might be selfish in the extreme.
Spoiled and indulged from her birth, she might snub her husband, neglect
her child, be peevish and exacting with her servants; but she
could not be the vulgar virago. We do not deny
that our Southern character has its faults—faults, too, which take
their stamp, in part, from our institutions and our climate, as do those
of out Northern neighbours from theirs; but we do deny that any Southern
woman, educated as a lady, could sit for such a portrait as Mrs. Stowe has
drawn. Shrinking timidity, and an almost prudish delicacy, is perhaps a
fault of our Southern women—at least, it is cer-
tainly a characteristic, which, in the opinion of many, is a fault, and which, whatever merits it may possess at a home fireside, makes them necessarily less prominent to the public gaze, less remarkable to public inspection, and gives a quietness of manner, which, when compared to the much more free and easy ways of our Northern sisters, sometimes amounts to insipidity. Such, at least, are the faults which we have heard found by Northern critics. With its disadvantages, however, this manner retains also its advantages, and a Southern lady, even in her faults—aye, term them, if you will, her vices—retains still the shadow of that delicacy which is inherent in her education, if not in her nature.
With what Southern society Mrs. Stowe and her clerk-brother have associated, we leave to be guessed by any Southern lady or gentleman who reads her description of Mrs. St. Clare. To judge from a variety of New-England idiomatic expressions, such as: She asked him "to smell of hartshorn;" " I can't sleep nights;" "She offered to take care of me nights;" "I don't see as any thing ails the child;" &c., &c., we should have a shrewd suspicion that she had found her character somewhat nearer home than New-Orleans. These are expressions which are almost as foreign to the idioms of our Southern tongue as Greek or Hebrew. And again, when speaking of an incorrigible servant, this lady is made to say: (Vol. ii., p.99.)
"She has been talked to and preached to, and every earthly thing done that any body could do, and she's just as ugly as always."
We doubt if one Southern person in a hundred, who has not taken an enlightening journey to New-England, would imagine the meaning of the expression. The word ugly, with us, is applied entirely to physical—never to moral deformity. However trifling these verbal faults may appear, we deem them worthy of note, as showing that Mrs. Stowe does not even know the language of the society she undertakes to depict. The spirit of it is still farther beyond her. Vide Mrs. St. Clare's elegant discussion, (vol. ii., p. 81,) as to whether she or her daughter sweats most:
"Very often, night after night, my clothes will be wringing wet. There won't be a dry thread in my night clothes, and the sheets will be so that mammy has to hang them up to dry! Eva doesn't sweat any thing like that!"
And again, to a negro girl: (Vol. ii., p. 97.)
"What now, you baggage! what new piece of mischief! You've been picking the flowers, hey!" and then Eva heard the sound of a smart slap.
"Law, Missis! they's for Miss Eva.
"Miss Eva! a pretty excuse! You suppose she wants your flowers, you good for nothing nigger! Get along off with you."
Elegant Southern gentleman, however curtain-lectured or hen-pecked, will you acknowledge this as a picture of your wife? You baggage! You good for nothing nigger! Southern language in select society! Mrs. Stowe, by way of showing the effect of "the system," endeavours to make the maids and their mistresses speak as much alike as possible. Her mulatto ladies are at times as unnaturally elegant as their mistresses are vulgar. We have no time for them, however, but must exhibit Mrs. St. Clare a little farther. The coarse indifference which this elegant lady constantly expresses for the feelings of her dependants, and particularly for those of "mammy," an old family servant, who has tended her from child-hood, and whom she has separated from husband and children, can find its parallel in no rank of society. Never, we contend, was there the Southern woman, brought up in decent associations, at once so heartless and so foolish, that, supposing it possible for her to feel nothing in such a case, would not, for mere fashion and gentility sake, imitate those feelings of which she would know it to be her shame to be devoid. It is not the fashion with us to hang out the flag of hard-heartedness. If "the system" necessitates in us that short-coming from virtue, (as the omniscient Mrs. Stowe most dogmatically asserts that it does, has done, must and ever will do,) at least we have learned the hypocrisy to conceal the calamitous deficiency under which we labour. No woman but would, by the tacit moral sense of any Southern community, be excluded from all decent society, did she dare to talk as this lady, the spoiled child of elegance and luxury, is represented as doing.
"Just as if mammy could love her little dirty babies as I love Eva! Yet St. Clare once really and soberly tried to persuade me that it was my duty, with my weak health and all I suffer, to let mammy go back, and take somebody else in her place. That was a little too much even for me to bear. I did break out that time."
This is bad enough—ridiculous enough; but we did not break out till some half page farther, at which point we did break out into most uncontrollable laughter, when this elegant, spoiled, lounging Southern lady remarks:
"I keep my cowhide about, and sometimes I do lay it on (! ! !) but the exertion is always too much for me. If St. Clare would only have this thing done as others do," "send them to the calaboose, or some of the other places, to be flogged. That's the only way."
Ye gods! we do not believe that there is a lady's maid south of the Potomac, who would not blush through her black or yellow skin, at hearing her mistress use such language, however much she might think it her right to occasionally indulge in it herself. An elegant Southern lady keeping a cowhide, and laying it on sometimes!
Mon Dieu! Mein Gott! We feel like a little one we have known, who, learning the French and German languages simultaneously with the English, used the several tongues indifferently, until she got into a passion, and then, the French and German sounding, we presume, more cursing-like to her ear, she whipped out those in high style. We could use French, German, Hebrew or Cherokee—anything, Mein Gott! except our own native tongue, which this lady (?) has so defiled.
We wish Mrs. Stowe would undertake an English high-life novel, and give the Westminster a home sample of the "privilege of the artist," for which it contends. Should she carry through her characters with a consistency similar to that exhibited in the present work, we might perchance be introduced to Queen Victoria and her ladies drinking beer or gin and water, at the first convenient "exchange," (as dram shops are elegantly termed out West,) and when they should get a little tipsy, royalty might amuse herself by boxing the ears of her satellites. Prince Albert, the while, should stand by with a gentlemanly simper, or perhaps offer the "cowskin" to royalty, that she might assert her prerogative a l'Americaine. All this, if we mistake not, (we humbly defer, however, to the judgment of the Westminster,) is "possible within the law," and if it be the "privilege of the artist" to consult only, possibilities, and leave probabilities out of the question, Mrs. Stowe, with her vivid imagination, might revel in such a subject.
If our readers have a fancy for another scene in the same style,
we refer them to vol. 2 (p. 146-7,) where our same elegant lady became a widow, after slapping the face of her maid, writes an order in her "delicate Italian hand, to the master of a whipping establishment, to give the bearer fifteen lashes;" the bearer being a sensitive, delicate and beautiful quadroon girl, as white as her mistress, whom the lady declares it her intention to have whipped until she "brings her down."
"I'll teach her, with all her airs, that she's no better than the raggedest black wench that walks the streets."
Reader, we gasp for breath, and are happy, once and forever, to take leave of this elegant Southern lady. We confess to being almost as much frightened as was the clerk-brother in the "ogre's den."
We must return to the gentleman specimen, from whom we have been
drawn off by his wife. Mr. St. Clare's New-England education, we
should say, had marked, whether or not his virtues, certainly his
English, very decidedly. Unless, indeed, as Mrs. Stowe has put a
similar phraseology in the mouth of his wife, she intends to pass
upon us such expressions as the following, for the English of
educated Southern society: "Isn't it dreadful tiresome." "They arn't."
"That isn't my affair as I know of." "I don't
know as I am." "I've travelled in England some,"
&c., &c. This (according to the Westminster) humane and cultivated
gentleman, besides an occasional habit of being "helped home in a
condition when the physical had decidedly attained the upper hand of
the intellectual," seems to do very nearly nothing but lie upon sofas,
read newspapers and indulge himself in occasional abuse of a system by
which he holds a property, the possession of which he considers as
iniquitous in the extreme, and yet never takes one step to correct this
iniquity. The whole tenor of Mrs. Stowe's book implies that all benevolent
slave owners are benevolent, only because they feel that they have no right
to be slave owners at all, and, therefore, endeavour, by kindness and
indulgence, to, in some sort, pay the slave for that of which, in their
own opinions, they are habitually defrauding him. Verily, this is a
sickly kind of goodness enough, and one of which, we aro happy to state,
we have met with but few instances. To rob a man and pay him back a
moderate per-centage on the spoils of his own pocket, is not Southern
honour. We are not
such votaries of the convenient and the expedient that it has become the habitual life of our "humane and cultivated gentlemen" to daily and hourly continue in the commission of a flagrant act of injustice, because it suits their convenience so to do. If such be the Stowe and Westminster idea of a gentleman, we are unfortunate enough to have less convenient consciences, and singular as the fact may appear to this knowing fraternity, we are willing to state upon oath, or in any other, the most veracious manner possible, our fixed belief and certain opinion, that there really are a good many among our Southern inhabitants, men and women, who do what they think right, and are not living with a constant lie on their lips and in their hearts; who own slaves because they believe "the system" to be the best possible for black and white, for slave and master, and who can, on their knees, gratefully worship the all-gracious providence of an Almighty God, who has seen fit, so beautifully, to suit every being to the place to which its nature calls it. Ay, Mrs. Stowe, there are pious slaveholders; there are christian slaveholders; there are gentlemanly slaveholders; there are slaveholders whose philosophic research has looked into nature and read God in his works, as well as in his Bible, and who own slaves because they think it, not expedient only, but right, holy and just so to do, for the good of the slave—for the good of the master—for the good of the world. It is not only a New-England "Miss Ophelia" who "would cut off her right hand, sooner than keep on from day to day doing what she thinks wrong." There are men, and women too, slave-owners and slaveholders, who need no teachings to act as closely as human weakness can, to such a rule. Southern hearts and Southern souls can beat high, and look heavenward, with noble and pure aspirations, blessing God for his mercies; blessing "the system" through which His wisdom obviates, what to man's little intellect might seem insurmountable, evils, and blessing that beautiful order of creation, which ignorant bigotry, vainly, as yet, has striven to cast back into chaos. We believe that there is not, in the whole of these United States, one solitary instance of a Southern gentleman, owning slaves and using or even thinking such language as the following :
"The short of the matter is, cousin, on this abstract question of
slavery, there can, I think, be but one opinion. Planters, who have money to make by it—clergymen, who have planters to please—politicians, who want to rule by it, may warp and bend language and ethics to a degree that shall astonish the world at their ingenuity they can press nature and the Bible, and nobody knows what else, into the service; but, after all, neither they nor the world believe in it one particle the more. It comes from the devil, that's the short of it, and, to my mind, it's a pretty respectable specimen of what be can do in his own line."
Was there ever a more impudent, wholesale accusation, at once of bold iniquity and crouching meanness, than is here coolly put forward by this humane genntleman in this work so "remarkable for its breadth of view," and "its genial charity." A whole population, not cheating themselves, but, with open eyes, living in iniquity, educating their children to it, praying to their God for it, and not one prophet rising in the midst of this glaring, this heinous offence, to cry "Wo! wo!" Why, this is worse than heathendom. The idol-worshipper, crouching before his gods of clay and of wood, believes, at least in the Mumbo Jumbo whom he worships, and seeks to make his adoration agreeable to it. Covered with blood and bathed in crime, he still brings to his deity a sincere sacrifice. But we dare to kneel before a christian God, mocking him with prayers of which we know the hollowness, and boasting of the sin which we pray him not even to pardon, content ourselves with claiming Omnipotence as a kind of partner in the concern! "The short of it is," then, to sum up the gentleman's words a little more concisely, that slaveholders are, without exception, the greatest set of, at once, bold rascals and sneaking fools that ever lived. No exception, we presume, can be claimed in favour of such characters as Mr. Augustine St. Clare himself, for, surely, there are few who, entertaining such liberal views as the Westminster, would set him down as a humane and intelligent gentleman.
As concerns his humanity, let us examine a little farther. Constantly
repeating such opinions as we have just quoted, and adding thereto,
frequently, the most vituperative abuse of every thing connected with this
"monstrous system of injustice," hoping that there "yet may be found among
us, generous spirits who do not estimate honour and justice by dollars and
cents," he yet continues to hold the iniquitous possession, and without
the courage of a Pilate to
wash his hands clean of the sin, he continues to receive the price of blood, and idly luxuriates in the income of his slave-labour, in as matter-of-course a manner as Queen Victoria does in hers, and finally dies suddenly without having ever taken the trouble to secure his dependants from the unlimited control of their supremely elegant and brutal mistress. It is singular enough, too, that this conscientious gentleman, who, converted to religious views very much through the instrumentality of the faithful Tom, dies a true christian death; holding in his own, the hand of this devoted black friend; conscious of his situation; knowing Tom perfectly; entreating him to pray for his parting spirit; joining in those earnest prayers sent for him to Heaven's throne, from the very depths of this generous, devoted, self-forgetting heart, yet dies forgetting his duty, his solemn promise of liberation to this humble friend, and leaves him hopelessly separated from all that he has dear upon earth, in the power of the worst of owners, under this (according to his own statement) "monstrous system of injustice." Strange conduct, to say the least, for an intelligent, humane, christian gentleman.
Apropos of Tom's liberation, what does our authoress mean by talking
as she does, at sundry different times, about his master "commencing the
legal steps necessary to Tom's emancipation?" Is it so hard to get rid
of a negro in New-Orleans, that one cannot tell the fellow in three
words, or by a stroke of the pen give him a permit to be off? In
some of our Southern States there is, we know, a law forbidding
liberation within the precincts of the State, but besides that this
is not the case in Louisiana, even in the States where such a law does
prevail, there is no difficulty whatever in letting the individual take
himself off, as Tom desired to do, to "Kentuck," or any where under
Heaven, where he could be admitted; and we are quite mystified by these
incomprehensible "legal formalities for his enfranchisement," which were
the root and cause of all Tom's subsequent difficulties. Do they tattoo
negroes in New-Orleans when they want to liberate them? Or is there a
kind of Free-mason ceremony to go through ? Or what was the difficulty,
that Tom could not take himself off to Kentucky in half an hour, after his
master chose to permit him to do so? We, in our
ignorance, should have supposed, that not only could it have been done at
any hour within the many weeks during which the subject was
in agitation; but, that even if previously neglected, one word from the master to the physician or any other reliable witness, as be lay upon his deathbed, soothed by the negro's devoted care, would have been quite sufficient to secure the execution of his desires on this point. But the Westminster determines, that all the horrors and difficulties of the actors in Mrs. Stowe's dramatic realities, are strictly and entirely according to the laws of the divers States wherein they are stated to have occurred. Westminster Review contributors, must of course, be well versed in Southern United States laws. So high an authority cannot be disputed by poor folks, who have not been enlightened on the subject of their own laws and customs by having "travelled in England some," as Mr. St. Clare would say.
We have laboured through the painful task we have given ourselves,
to the middle of the second volume of Mrs. Stowe's dramatics, and are
heartily sick of our task; yet the most disgusting part of the work is
left untouched. We confess, our courage fails us. Not that there is a
single argument to answer or a single fact proved against us. But what
argument avails against broad, flat, impudent assertion? The greatest
villain may swear down an honest man: and the greatest falsehoods are
oftenest those which it is impossible to disprove. Mrs. Stowe, among
those of her accusations which are the most revolting at once to decency,
truth and probability, puts constantly and nauseously forward, the object
for which she chooses to assert, that mulatto
and quadroon women are particularly valued at the New-Orleans market.
If, as the only way of answering it, we give the charge the lie, the
Westminster responds, it is "possible within the law:" and it would
seem, according to Westminsterian logic, for an author who professes to
give the dramatic realities of life, a legal possibility is fair material,
and human nature's probabilities and possibilities not worth considering.
If we answer that there is no more moral population in the world, than
that of our Slave States, (few, indeed, equally so,) we are answered
with a sneer of derision. We, who live at home in the midst of it,
cannot know as well as Mrs. Stowe, who gets her intelligence from
"personal friends," and "collecting clerks," or as the Westminster
reviewer, who know all about it from Mrs. Stowe. We can but meet false
evidence by counter evidence; we can but meet false assertion, by counter
assertion. If Mrs. Stowe,
the Westminster, and their followers, are willing to listen, we will give them as much of that as would satisfy any reasonable human being. But no. They have had a vision of the truth. It is possible within the law, to sell babies and to ill-treat women; therefore, it is done, is their sapient conclusion. So, let us also, imagine a novel of legal possibilities. Here we suppose is a father, his wife and some half dozen children under age, consequently subjected to his authority. The poor wife, broken down by cruelty, privation, exposure and hard labour, (throw in here much pathetic reading about fascinating beauty, female delicacy, &c.,) falls into a consumption, and is dying of want in a wretched cellar. A skeleton infant, hanging on her withered breast, sucks up disease instead of nourishment; while a child of some two summers old, whose emaciated limbs, projecting cheek bones, and eager, ravenous eye, show too plainly that starvation is the disease of which it is dying, as it lies moaning by the bundle of rags which forms its mother's pillow, (not even a handful of straw has she to keep her from the cold, damp ground,) gnaws eagerly as its prostrate strength will petmit, a mouldy crust which an elder brother has raked from the filth in the street. Other spectres of famine move languidly about the apartment, while the brutal father amuses himself by mocking their staggering steps, and then pausing by his dying wife, rattles in his pocket some certain amount of cash, which he has this instant received from a burly, comfortable looking citizen, who stands coolly looking on at the agonies of the dying woman, as her husband with a diabolical sneer, informs her that not one penny of the contents of his pocket shall she or her brats ever touch. She points to the starving child, which her husband only pushes aside contemptuously with his foot, and then snatching from it the mouldy crust, flings it back into the street, as he exclaims, "Let the little devil die! The sooner the better. I can't kill it, for the laws would catch me; but damn it, if I won't be glad to see the whole set of you in your graves." The burly citizen seems too much amused with the progress of events, to think of interrupting them by calling in assistance to the sufferers. One of the wretched boys starts up as though he would do something, but the father striking him back, asks him what he means by his insolence, and the almost idiotic creature, (brutalized as he is, and stupified by long suffering,) creeps back to the corner
where he has heretofore crouched. The dying struggles now come upon the woman, and both the men amuse themselves by mimicing the contortions of her agony, as she lies upon the cold ground. The husband kicking away from her head the bundle of rags which has hitherto supported it, tells her the sooner she goes to the devil the better, and then carries on in her hearing an infamous bargain with the other brute, for the sale of his second daughter, (beautiful girl, shrinking innocence, &c. These may be much expatiated upon,) with the understanding, that should the law by chance enquire into the affair, the assumed ground is, that the child is sent for benefit of education, &c.; and in case of resistance or attempt to escape, insanity can be easily sworn to. The mother, who has already seen her elder daughter torn from her by a similar bargain of infamy, now, vainly endeavouring to utter a remonstrance, groans her last, and as her dying words are checked by the death-rattle, the husband pushing aside the almost corpse, tears the terrified girl from that last embrace, which seems as though it would drag her away from the hell that hangs over her young and innocent life, and turning to the citizen, bids him count out his cash. He comments on the beauties of the child, tells how it is a young, fresh thing, and should pay well; while the other looks—
But God forgive us! It is too horrible, thus to follow out imaginations, whose only aim is to blacken God's creature's, and
"Little knowing how to value right
Shall we abolish the relations of husband and wife, of parent and child,
because they are sometimes abused, and because some foul imagination delights
in painting them as ten-fold worse perverted than ever truth has shown them?
Shall we abolish every tie that can by possibility be abused? Shall we take
such a scene as the above, and because it is possible, as the Westminster
might say, "within the law," or rather, to speak more correctly, by
evasion of the law, (and just as possible and just
as natural it is, as Mrs. Stowe's disgusting dramatics,) because such things
might, by an imaginary possibility, come to pass in England or any other
civilized country, under existing laws, shall we, therefore, declare that
they do exist in fact, and exist not as exceptional cases merely, but as the
daily habit and general custom of such countries, and that, therefore, every system of government shall be reversed and "chaos come again?"
It is the habit of a certain class of Gospel quoting writers, so to quote those beautiful maxims, that they are turned to wrath rather than charity. The scriptures may be quoted, as we once heard it re-marked by a venerable divine, to sound very much like cursing. Such persons seem to themselves to rise in virtue, just in such proportion as they can degrade their fellows. They do not mount the ladder of righteousness, but fixing themselves sturdily on a certain round, they do their best to keep off all competitors; quite sure of being saints, so soon as they can transform their brethren into devils. They discover, imagine, invent blots on the robes of others, that they may boast their own saintly purity, and thank God that they are not as other men. And lest the Omniscient hear them not, then do they cry aloud in remonstrance: Cry aloud for He is a God; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth and must be awaked." Thus has Mrs. Stowe lifted up her voice, and with a furious onslaught on the mote of her brother's eye, noteth not, perchance, the beam in her own.
To disprove slanders thus impudently uttered, and obstinately persevered
in, is impossible, unless those who are to judge the question had some little
insight into the facts of the case, and could know something of our habits
and our laws; thus being enabled to judge of the respective worth of the
testimony brought before them. So far from this being the case in the
present question, not only is our cause prejudged, but our very accusers
assume to be our judges. They make the assertion; they swear to its truth;
they pronounce sentence; and then, at once judge, jury, witness and plaintiff
they set up the most lamentable wailings over the horrible creations of their
own fancy. To those who are determined to credit such assertions, in spite of
all testimony, no argument can be of avail. To such as are willing to hear
both sides, we have endeavoured to invalidate Mrs. Stowe's testimony, by
proving, that so far from being well acquainted with our habits and manners,
she has probably never even set foot in our country, and is ignorant alike of
our manners, feelings, and even habits of language. She makes her Southern
ladies and gentlemen talk rather vulgar Yankee-English. Her Louisiana negroes
all talk "Kentuck." She is probably not aware
that the negro dialect varies even more than the white, in accordance with the local bringing up of the speaker. No negro, we believe, except a Virginia or Kentucky one, uses "thar," for there; "har," for hair; "that ar," for that; "hev," for have, &c. They have a patois, much more unintelligible frequently, but not the Kentucky lingo, which she puts into their mouths. We doubt if Mrs. Stowe has ever crossed the line of a slave state at all. If she has, it has evidently not been further south than the mere crossing of the Kentucky border. There, with all her prejudices wide awake, she has seen slavery, (if, indeed, she has seen it anywhere,) in the worst condition in which it can exist. In a border state, constantly open to the attacks of meddling fanaticism, every man feels that his property (while the legal institutions of his state, formed for its protection, are staggering) stands but by a very doubtful tenure, and he naturally looks forward to parting with it in some way or other. Peaceably or forcibly; at a loss or a profit; in some way or the other, the thing must come. By this habit of mind, a severance of old ties and affection soon springs up. The child is no longer educated to think that the slave is almost a part of himself, a dependant to live and die with. The idea is constantly held forward of some necessary change; and how to make that change, at the least loss to himself, will of course, be a frequent question with the property holder. Then comes the clash between interest and humanity, and the old link of mutual affection broken, too often the sick and weak negro becomes a burden, the strong one simply a property. This is no longer the slavery we love to defend. This bastard growth of abolitionism grafted on selfishness, is not Southern United States Slavery. It is border state slavery, from which, thanks to abolitionism, have sprung some (thank God! only some, only a few) of those horrors which abolition writers delight to depict. Here, more than elsewhere, may exceptional cases be seen, that abuse of power which occurs when affection is blotted out, humanity weak, and selfishness strong. These cases are still comparatively rare; but they are a melancholy proof of what may be effected, when man opposes himself to his God. God directs and man perverts. Make a law perverting nature by which (as our woman's rights reformers would have it) woman and man are equal, and created with similar rights, and what ensues but bloody barbarity and tyrannic force, trampling to
earth the beneficent, though often abused relations, which now exist between them? Make a law by which (because the parent sometimes abuses his authority) the child shall become the free and equal competitor for that parent's privileges, to aim at a general home democracy, and on true free soil principle, to take what suits him of house or land; and what again follows, but the extinction of all affection; the early murder of infants; the reign of blood and brute force, instead of charity, affection, beautiful dependence, and christian love? Make your laws to intefere with the God-established system of slavery, which our Southern States are beautifully developing to perfection, daily improving the condition of the slave, daily waking more and more the master to his high and responsible position; make your laws, we say, to pervert this God-directed course, and the world has yet to see the horrors which might ensue from it. The natural order of things perverted, ill must follow. The magnitude of that ill, may heaven protect us from witnessing! Mrs Stowe has seen, on the border lands, where something of a clash has arisen between the rival powers of abolitionism and slavery, a shadow of those evils which would result to the slave, when the natural boundaries of the system being broken down, the master would retain the powers without the affections belonging to his position. These evils her imagination has multiplied an hundred fold; but yet are to to depicted those scenes, when the slave, struggling with his destiny, shall force into opposition the rival might of civilization and barbarism, of brute force and intellectual power. Imagination has not yet depicted those. She threatens us with a second Haytien tragedy. Hayti! She knows not of what she talks. As the ocean to the wave—as the rill to the torrent—as the zephyr to the whirlwind—would any such scenes, if possible among us, be to those of Hayti, fearful as they were; and as ocean's gulf to a rain-puddle, would be the ensuing barbarism. Mrs. Stowe has a fertile imagination, and has got up quite a respectable collection of "tales of wonder," which would rival in horrors those of Monk Lewis; yet, though she should go on, and on, and on, till even her thought should quail, and even her heart sink at the fearful picture, yet will she not have touched, yet can she not have began to imagine, the fearful penalties which indignant nature would attach to her so outraged laws.
"Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther," hath God said, not to the great ocean only, when he chained it within its bed, but equally to every creature within the limits of its uses and its intelligence. To the white man, he has given his place; to the negro, his. The white man who abuses his God-given power, is indeed criminal, both to God and to man. Hitchings there are, and disorders numberless, in the great world-system of machinery, which Omniscience has not seen fit to make perfect; but what are these, compared to the general crash which would follow, should man, with his tinkering, upset the whole fabric, that he may rectify its errors by his puny wisdom? The civilized world must totter to its foundations, when, if ever, African slavery in America ceases to exist.
As Mrs. Stowe seems to forget, or rather to deny, the possibility of
all human feeling in slaveholders, we will not pretend to argue against
her grossest imaginations on that ground, but will base what further we
have to say, upon the moral impossibility of her facts, and their
improbability, as connected with the one question of "dollars and cents,"
which she represents as the all-absorbing one of the system. This
consideration would, certainly, be alone sufficient to prevent a man
from whipping to death a property, a chattel, an ox, or an ass, for
which he had paid, and for which, he could obtain a large equivalent,
by a simple transfer of the property to other hands. By Mrs. Stowe's
own argument, the slave, being a chattel and a property, would, in the
natural law of things, fall under the same rule. But her ingenious
malignity, cleverly as it generally works, sometimes, in the zeal of
argument, forgets its logic. While her effort is, constantly, to
represent the slave as a mere chattel in the eye of the master,
occasionally, in order to exhibit the action of some demoniac
cruelty, she suddenly forgets her own reasoning and argues upon
the supposition of a rivality of feeling; a hatred, not simply as
of man to man, even in the indifferent positions of life, but such
a hatred, such a rivality, as could only exist among individuals whose
clashing ambitions and contending interests should have cast them
struggling together in the closest juxtaposition, in one arena, with
similar aims, similar hazards, similar hopes and similar jealousies. In
the ordinary relations of master and slave, such feelings are not only
impossible, but the mere supposition of them becomes ludicrous, to any
one who has looked into the institution as it exists in the United
States, between the white man and the African. Such human links as exist
between the races under this system are, necessarily, all of a softening character. The natural antipathies of race are checked, and almost obliterated, by the peculiar relation which, at once, unites and separates the races; acting in social life like the disjunctive conjunction in grammar, linking, yet severing so distinctly, that there is no possibility of confusion among the objects thus connected. The master gives protection; the slave looks for it. Interest combines with humanity to tighten these bonds, and it would be impossible for the most satanic malignity of disposition to imagine laws which, under this system, could sever these two great incentives to action. Occasional acts of cruelty, of maiming, or of murder, when they do occur, (as undoubtedly, in all relations of life, the nearest, the dearest, they do and must occur,) are always, when exercised from mister to slave, the result of violent passion and impulsive anger. A man will, perhaps, in a fit of rage, shoot the horse which has thrown him; but can it be imagined, that he would subject to a long course of torture, with the purpose of disabling or subjecting to a lingering death, in cold-blooded revenge, the animal, which, if he have taken a dislike to it, he can more easily rid himself of, by sale or transfer, with pecuniary profit to himself. Mrs. Stowe forgets that even the vices of men are so arranged by an Omniscient Providence, that they are frequently found to balance one another, and even were the slave-owner the devil she imagines him, his malignity must be checked by his avarice.
We have not room for the story of George Harris, a remarkably intelligent mulatto, perfectly orderly, submissive and obedient, who is, by his ingenuity and talent, making immense profits for his master at a neighbouring factory. The master, without the slightest provocation on the part of his slave, suddenly becomes jealous of his extraordinary capacity, and determines to put him down. Purposely, therefore, to force him to be good-for-nothing, he withdraws him from the only kind of service to which be is adapted, and puts him to the most degrading drudgery, expressly with the intention of destroying the value of his labour. Not satisfied with this, he uses every means that "tyrannical ingenuity can devise," to "render his condition more bitter by every smarting vexation and indignity;" and what reason, forsooth, does this reasonable master give for such a course? "The man is mine, and I do what I please with him,—that's it!"
Let us imagine similar conduct towards a horse, an ox, an ass, and what would be the universal comment? That the man is cruel—hard-hearted —brutal? No—that he is fit for Bedlam. Did ever a man in his senses ruin his property, because he is jealous of it! "Dollars and cents! dollars and cents!" Mrs. Stowe, you have rung the changes upon these so often, you should have surely remembered them still. What sends men to the California diggings? What sends them to Australia? What sends them to the devil? Dollars and cents; dollars and cents; dollars and cents. We argue nothing for the conscience, the humanity, the charity, the decency of these abominable slave-owners, given up, as they are, to satan and his devices; but—dollars and cents, Mrs. Stowe; there is no getting around that diffculty. George Harris's master, if he had taken a dislike to George Harris, would have sold him for as many dollars as he could bring, and not by a slow process of torture, have undertaken to ruin and make thoroughly valueless, the animal which he held in such fine saleable order. We have here adopted Mrs. Stowe's own manner of reasoning, and in her own style, and following up her own arguments, prove, we think, her conclusions somewhat illogical. No man will, in cold blood, burn down his house, because he has got out of temper with its manner of construction; no man will torment to death, or uselessness, whether his beast or his slave, simply because he has taken a prejudice against the structure of body, or turn of mind, of the article. In either case, however much as he may dislike the concern, he will very much prefer handing it over to the first purchaser for a reasonable equivalent in dollars and cents. The malignity of jealous spite can only arise in cases where rivality has existed. The deadly venom of smothered hatred may rise in the bosom of rival against rival; of friend against friend; of brother against brother; but not—of master against slave.
But our argument is becoming so prolix, that we must cut it short.
We could run on for fifty pages, showing our author's blunders and
inconsequences. Let any one look at the strange system of management
she attributes to her Caliban, Legree; and say how long it would be,
with such a system of mingled brutality and familiarity, before a man
would be murdered by his own negroes. It would be wonderful if his
very horses and oxen, similarly treated, should not learn to gore and
kick him to death. Look at her brutal
slave-trader, who, after enlightening the reader with sundry horrible tales of mothers driven to suicide or insanity, by having their infants torn from them, finally, by way, apparently, of illustrating his lectures, sells a child of ten months old, from a woman whom he has just purchased, and has the pleasure, accordingly, a few hours after, of hearing that she has (as, we are to presume, he, of course, intended, from his experience in former cases) drowned herself. This man must, we should presume, have been some disguised student of the anatomy of the human feelings, who experimented thereon, much as young surgeons do upon the agonies of their cats and dogs. Surely, he was no simple negro-trader, carrying on his barbarous traffic for its accruing gains, or he would have better learned how to cast up his balance of profit and loss. Look again at the wonderful accumulation of instances she offers of quadroons and mulattoes, so fair as to be almost mistaken—frequently, quite mistaken—for white; with glossy brown curls, fair soft hands, &c., &c. Indeed, seeming to forget that her principal task is the defence of the negro, decidedly the majority of the persecuted individuals brought forward for our sympathy, are represented as whites, of slightly negro descent, not negroes. We cannot forbear copying a page to illustrate her manner of exhibiting such characters. Cassy, one of these unfortunates who has made her escape from hellish bondage, appears in a steamboat under the protection of Mr. George Shelby, a young Kentucky gentleman:
"She sat upon the guards, came to table, and was remarked upon in the boat, as a lady that must have been very handsome.
"The next room to Cassy's was occupied by a French lady, named De Thoux, who was accompanied by a fine litle daughter, a child of some twelve summers.
"This lady having gathered from George's conversation, that he was from Kentucky, seemed evidently disposed to cultivate his acquaintance, in which design she was seconded by the graces of her little girl, who was about as pretty a plaything as ever diverted the weariness of a fortnight's trip on a steamboat. George's chair was often placed at her state-room door.
"'Do you know,' said Madame de Thoux to him, one day, 'of any man in your neighbourhood, of the name of Harris?'
"'There is an old fellow of that name lives not far from my father's place,' said George, 'We never had much intercourse with him, though.'
"'He is a large slave-owner, I believe,' said Madame de Thoux, with a manner which seemed to betray more interest than she was exactly willing to show.
"'He is,' said George, looking rather surprised at her manner.
"'Did you ever know of his having—perhaps you may have heard of his having—a mulatto boy named George?'
"'Oh, certainly, George Harris, I know him well; he married a servant of my mother's, but has escaped, now, to Canada.'
"'He has,' said Madame de Thoux, quickly, 'thank God!'
"George looked a surprised enquiry, but said nothing.
"Madame do Thoux leaned her head on her hand, and burst into tears.
"'He is my brother,' she said.
"'Madame,' said George, with a strong accent of surprise.
"'Yes,' said Madame de Thoux, lifting her head proudly, and wiping her tears, 'Mr. Shelby, George Harris is my brother!'
"'I am perfectly astonished,' said George, pushing back his chair a pace or two, and looking at Madame de Thoux.
"'I was sold to the South when he was a boy,' said she. 'I was bought by a good and generous man. He took me with him to the West Indies, set me free and married me. It is but lately that ho died; and I am coming up to Kentucky, to see if I can find and redeem my brother.'"—(2d vol. p. 201.)
Some further conversation shows that the wife of this brother is the daughter of the quadroon lady, Mrs. Cassy, who is passing herself off for a Spanish lady of rank, and who, thereupon, falls insensible upon the floor. Forthwith, the cabin is crowded with ladies, and all proper bustle, and other accompaniments of fainting fits, occur; but, strange to say, nobody on this Southern steamboat ever seems to divine that the mulatto ladies are anything but the French and Spanish dames for which they pass themselves off. Verily, we can inform the Westminster that whether such scenes be possible, or impossible, "within the law," according to Westminster readings, they are most certainly impossible within the law of nature; and if we of the South had wished to pass a good hoax upon our northern or trans-atlantic brethren, we could not easily have imagined a more ridiculously improbable scene than that of the woolly-headed and yellow-skinned mulatto, Madame de Thoux (for the woolly-head and yellow skin must have been there, in spite of Mrs. Stowe and the Westminster) established as, and passing for a lady, in the cabin of a Southern steamboat.
Earlier in the work, this same "mulatto boy named George," is
represented as boldly entering into a hotel in Kentucky, within a few miles of his master's residence, (from which he has just made his escape) as a "well-dressed gentlemanly man," who drives up in his buggy, escorted by his negro servant, having assumed no other disguise than the dyeing of his hair and face, to pass himself for a Spanish complexioned gentleman.
"He was very tall, with a dark Spanish complexion, no expressive black eyes, and close curling hair, also of a glossy blackness. His well-formed, aquiline nose, straight thin lips, and the admirable contour of his finely-turned limbs, impressed the whole company instantly with the idea of something uncommon. He walked easily in among the company, and with a nod indicated to his waiter where to place his trunk, bowed to the company, and, with his hat in his hand, walked up, leisurely, to the bar, and gave in his name," &c., &c.
In the meanwhile, although "the whole party examined the new comer, with the interest with which a set of loafers, in a rainy day, usually examine every new comer," this elegant gentleman seems to pass muster, as true white blood.
"The landlord was all-obsequious, and a relay of about seven negroes, old and young, male and female, little and big, were soon whizzing about like a covey of partridges, bustling, hurrying, treading on each other's toes, and tumbling over each other in their zeal to get massa's room ready, while he seated himself easily in a chair, in the middle of the room, and entered into conversation with the man who sat next to him."—(vol. 1, p. 160.)
These quotations are so delightfully racy, that we find it difficult
to abridge them. But we are fast nearing the utmost limits of our article,
and must stop. The readers of these volumes will find in them, one mass of
gross misrepresentation and ridiculous blundering. The authoress is so
ignorant of Southern life and slave institutions, that she does not know
how very far she leaves behind her, the track of probability, and her
vouchers of the Westminster, might, perhaps, if induced to reconsider the
matter, be gracious enough to acknowledge, that there are some things quite
"possible within the law," and yet impossible in nature. We know of no
human law forbidding the moon to be green cheese, and the inhabitants of
this globe from establishing a balloon communication, and furnishing the
universal market with the commodity: thereby, seriously conducing to the
detriment of all future generations, who would thus, by our greedy avarice,
curtailed in their due allowance of moonshine. And yet it will hardly be contended that it is the "privilege of the artist" to make such the material of anything but a "Mother Goose" fairy tale. Mrs. Stowe has wandered almost as far from the possible. If she has not given us moons of green cheese, she has given what is just as far from God's creation, a nation of men without heart, without soul, without intellect; a nation, too, (strange incongruity!) of cultivated human beings, so ignorant of right and wrong, so dead to all morality, that it were an insult to Deity, to believe in their existence. So anomalous a creation was never sent by God upon this earth, and satan or Mrs. Stowe must claim the honour of the invention.
We thought we had done; but one point more we must glance upon. Mrs.
Stowe, in spite of experience, in spite of science, determines that the
negro is intellectually the white man's equal. She "has lived on the
frontiers of a slave State," "she has the testimony of missionaries,"
&c., and "her deductions, with regard to the capabilities of the
race, are encouraging in the highest degree." Bravo! Mrs. Stowe! Your
deductions are bold things, and override sense and reason with wonderful
facility. Perhaps they would become a little more amenable to ordinary
reasoning, if, instead of living "on the frontiers of a slave State," you
should see fit to carry your experience, not theoretically, but practically,
into the heart of one; or still better, perhaps, avoiding the contaminating
system, to explore at once the negro nature in its negro home, and behold
in native majesty the undegraded negro nature. In native and in naked
majesty, the lords of the wild might probably suggest more appreciable
arguments, for difference of race, than any to which Mrs. Stowe has chosen
to hearken. The negro alone has, of all races of men, remained entirely
without all shadow of civilization.* It is a mere quibble to talk of his want of opportunities
and instruction. Where were the white man's opportunities and instruction,
when the power
of mind guided him to the destiny for which Heaven created him? when, by the sunlight of reason, he burst a bonds of ignorance, and, echoing the Almighty fiat, "let there be light," saw the day beam, which still to the negro was darkness? What guide had he? what opportunities? what instruction? further than the God-given intellect which nature has denied to his lowlier fellow? The white man needed no leading strings. God created him for the leader and the teacher. The mind of the white man sprang by its own power to that eminence which to the negro nature is unattainable.
Mrs. Stowe herself has, evidently most unintentionally, shown that
however her theories and her fanaticism may lead her opinions, instinct,
even in her mind, is endeavouring to point her right, Every where in her
book is the mulatto represented as the man superior to, and suffering
in his position. She has been obliged, wherever she has introduced her
fugitives into the hearts of white families, and
fraternized them with their white protectors,
to represent these fugitives as white, with the slightest possible negro
tint. Even she has not dared to represent the
negro in those scenes where she has boldly introduced the mulatto. Even
she would not have dared to paint a pretty little Quakeress liberator
snatching up a negro bantling and covering it with kisses, and putting
the mother into her own bed, and "snugly tucking her in," as she does
by the white mulattoes whom she introduces. Even in her, the instinct of race is too strong. She dares not so belie her
nature. She takes the mulatto as an approach to the white man, gives
scope enough to her fancy to make him a thorough white, and then goes
ahead with her romance. The real unfortunate being throughout her work
is the mulatto. The negro, except where her imagination has manufactured
for him such brutes of masters as are difficult to conceive, seems well
enough suited to his position. It is the mulatto whom she represents as
homeless and hopeless; and we confess that, in fact, although far below
her horrible imaginings, his position is a painful one. Nature, who has
suited her every creation to its destined end, seems to disavow him as a
monstrous formation which her hand disowns. Raised in intellect and
capacity above the black, yet incapable of ranking with the white, he
is of no class and no caste. His happiest position is probably in the
slave States, where he quietly passes over a life, which, we thank God,
seems like all other
monstrous creations, not capable of continuous transmission. This mongrel breed is a most painful feature, arising from the juxtaposition of creatures, so differing in nature as the white man and tho negro; but it is a feature which, so far from being the result of slavery, is rather checked by it. The same unhappy being must occasionally exist, wherever the two peoples are brought in contact, and much more frequently where abolition license prevails, than under the rules and restraints of slavery.
To conclude. We have undertaken the defence of slavery in no temporizing
vein. We do not say it is a necessary evil. We do
not allow that it is a temporary make-shift to
choke the course of Providence for man's convenience. It is
not "a sorrow and a wrong to be lived down." We
proclaim it, on the contrary, a Godlike dispensation, a providential
caring for the weak, and a refuge for the portionless. Nature's outcast,
as for centuries he appeared to be, be—even from the dawning of
tradition, the homeless, houseless, useless negro—suddenly assumes
a place, suddenly becomes one of the great levers of civilization. At
length the path marked out for him by Omniscience becomes plain. Unfit
for all progress, so long as left to himself, the negro has hitherto
appeared, simply as a blot upon creation, and already the stronger races
are, even in his own land, threatening him with extinction. Civilization
must spread. Nature seems to require this, by a law as stringent as that
through which water seeks its level. The poor negro, astounded by the
torrent of progress, which, bursting over the world, now hangs menacingly
(for to the wild man is not civilization always menacing?) above him,
would vainly follow with the stream, and is swept away in the current.
Slavery, even in his own land, is his destiny and his refuge from
extinction. Beautifully has the system begun to expand itself among us.
Shorn of the barbarities with which a slavery established by conquest
and maintained by brute force is always accompanied, we have begun to
mingle with it the graces and amenities of the highest Christian
civilization. Have begun, we say, for the work is but begun. The system
is far from its perfection, and at every step of its progress is retarded
by a meddling fanaticism, which has in it, to borrow a quotation from Mrs.
Stowe herself, "a dread, unhallowed necromancy of evil, that turns things
sweetest and holiest to phantoms of horror and affright." Our system of
slavery, left to itself, would rapidly develop its higher features, softening at once to servant and to master. The satanic school of arguers are far too much inclined to make capital of man's original sin, and to build upon this foundation a perfect tower of iniquitous possibilities, frightful even to imagine. Men are by no means as hopelessly wicked as Mrs. Stowe and others of this school would argue; and these would do well to remember, that when God created man, "in the image of God created he him;" and though "sin came into the world and death by sin," yet is the glorious, though clouded, image still there, and erring man is still a man, and not a devil.
We, too, could speculate upon the possibilities of this system, and present a picture in beautiful contrast with Mrs. Stowe's, as purely bright as hers is foully dark; but, as we remarked earlier in our argument, the fairest reasoning is not from what a system might be, but from what it is. We grant that there is crime, there is sin, there is abuse of power under our laws; but let the abolitionist show us any rule where these are not. Utopias have been vainly dreamed. That system is the best which, not in theory, but in practice, brings the greatest sum of good to the greatest number. We challenge history, present and past, to show any system of government which, judged by this test, will be found superior to the one we defend.
"Oh liberté!" exclaimed Mme. Roland, when
led to the scaffold, "que de crimes a t'on commis en ton
nom!" Theoretic virtues are more dangerous than
open vice. Cloaks for every crime, they are pushed boldly forward, stifling
our natural sense of practical right, and blinding men with the appearance of
a righteousness, which dazzles like the meteor, but warms not like the sun.
Theoretic liberty and theoretic bread satisfy neither the hungry soul nor
the hungry stomach, and many a poor fugitive to the land of freedom, sated
full with both, has wept to return to the indulgent master and the well
filled corn-crib. The negro, left to himself, does not dream of liberty.
He cannot indeed grasp a conception which belongs so naturally to the
brain of the white man. In his natural condition, he is, by turns, tyrant
and slave, but never the free man. You may talk to the blind man of light,
until he fancies that he understands you, and begins to wish for that bright
thing which you tell him he
has not; but vainly he rolls his sightless orbs, unhappy that he cannot see the brightness of that beam, whose warmth before sufficed to make him happy. Thus it is with the moral sunbeam of the poor negro. He cannot see nor conceive the "liberty" which you would thrust upon him, and it is a cruel task to disturb him in the enjoyment of that life to which God has destined him. He basks in his sunshine, and is happy. Christian slavery, in its full development, free from the fretting annoyance and galling bitterness of abolition interference, is the brightest sunbeam which Omniscience has destined for his existence.
L. S. M.