THAT sudden popularity and success are not always evidences of merit to be relied upon, Barnum has taught us with the Wooly Horse, Tom Thumb, and his Mermaid. Locke's moon hoax, if we remember, was for a while the rage, and deceived astronomers royal and republican; and the whole French people, in a frenzy of patriotic devotion to Napoleon I., have shown the world the "pink and model of an emperor," in a very scurvy fellow. And in the sudden hurrah which bursts from the throats of the many over the "Cabin literature," we feel no certainty that Milton, Shakespeare, Byron, Wordsworth, Scott, and Cooper, are in any imminent danger of being burned by the hands of the common hangman, to the tantaralara of an African dance. The truth is, nothing has a slower growth than truth—nothing is, for a time, more fertile and luxuriant than error. A popular rage for any thing is a pretty good test of its worthlessness, and when the book presses are occupied with prurient French novels, sanctified dissertations upon negro carousals, and puritanical eulogies of blasphemous psalm-singing, almost to the exclusion of the Bible and healthy and robust works, we need scarcely stop to prove that the devil is having a pretty good time of it among the sons of men—or that such taste is false and damnable.
Our female agitators have abandoned Bloomers in despair, and are just now bestride a new hobby—an intense love of black folks, in fashionable novels! Flannel ceases to be cut into garments for the children of Africa, but they are most intolerably drenched with ink—on the principle, we suppose, of "like to like." If wo, expressed in big capital letters, had the power of tears, we should be in danger of a second deluge on Chestnut street some fine morning; but this sort of grief, even when illustrated with very sorry engravings, is intended to deplete the pocket—so you need not get out your handkerchief, dear madam! but open your pocket-book to its widest capacity. Sambo is a pretty good gold-digger, just now—work him who will; and those who
"Would not have a slave to till their ground,"
use him pretty severely in the press-room.
We have a regular incursion of the blacks. The shelves of booksellers groan under the weight of Sambo's woes, done up in covers! What a dose we have had and are having! The population of readers has gone a wool-gathering! Our "Helots of the West" are apparently at a premium with the publishers just now; and we have Northern folks as anxious to make money of them, as the Southerners can be, for their lives. A plague of all black faces! We hate this niggerism, and hope it may be done away with. We cannot tolerate negro-slavery of this sort—we are abolitionists on this question! If we are threatened with any more negro stories—here goes! We will call our retainers together and arm them; we will raise the slogan of Montrose; we will gather a band of our contributors (some tall fellows among them!—Herbert, who describes a battle so well, would fight one, "like four," as the French say!) and go into the South to put down negrodom! "Graham" could do this—just as easily as Abraham long ago armed about 318 of his "trained servants," and pursued the enemy unto Dan. Besides, he might have the assistance of a garrison along with his army! Well, we hope we shall not be provoked. It is all very well for the South to talk of the negro excitements, and to take things to heart. If they had to read all those negro-books that overflow us, North of Mason and Dixon's line, then, indeed, we should despair of them. We don't want, therefore, to hear any more complaints from Georgia or Carolina. Tis we, the readers of the North, who are aggrieved by these blasts and counter-blasts, and none have a better right to be angry, and talk of nullification than we have.
In the name of the Prophet—not the bookseller's profit!—let us have done
with this woolly-headed literature; let us have a change; let us have a reaction.
We see reactions at work every day—the democracies of 1848 have run back
as fast as they ran forward. Let us have a literary reaction here. Let us
go back to our original Mexican brigands, our fresh Texans, with their big
beards and unerring "Beeswings," our Prairie heroines, and all that wonderful
adventure which is only sunburnt, at the deepest. Let us have the breathless
"Romance of the Lowell Factory Girl," the thrilling "Pirate of the Chesapeake,"
the "Mystery of the Modern Gomorrah," the "Dark Monk of Wissawampanoag."
We are really weary of preaching negroes, and "Mas'r," and " spects Ise wicked,"
and "that yer ole man," and "dat ar nigger." We want something refreshing.
Seriously speaking—our writers who would take the public ear, should turn
to something worthier than these negro subjects. Where is the great need
of going to the black section of the population in quest of themes, while
the broader and richer domains of the better races lie before them? No doubt
this negro-department offers many temptations to the lazy and feeble, who
find its grotesque peculiarities—its animal vivacities, and somewhat comic
slang much more easy of representation than the feelings and modes of action
of our own class. By mis-spelling words, managing them like Mrs. Malaprop,
or her plagiarist, Mrs. Partington, and powdering a sentence with the negro-cacophony,
you have a better chance of tick-
ling the tastes of the many than by any thing you could bring out in the common, correct syntax of Lindley Murray. The temptation is very great, indeed; but after all, the honor is very small.
We have read these negro-books, solemn reader—not for the love of them, but to know what it was that the booksellers and critics were placarding and puffing about, at such a rate. The first of these works is Uncle Tom's Cabin. It has a certain feminine vivacity of style which takes the reader, in spite of its faults—and we, therefore, giving the lady the pas, call her up first for examination. Regarding the success of the "Cabin"—the exaggerated success, we believe—we have been trying to account for it, independently of the merits, which are not sufficient cause for such an effect. The somewhat angry differences between the North and South of the Union, gave, undoubtedly, a mischievous zest to the work in the first place. In the next, the machinery of the newspapers was brought into judicious and persevering play, and the notoriety produced by the press did more for it than any thing else. The thing was pushed forward with a more than literary aim, and has had a more than literary success. It was made the watch-word in the Abolition ranks. The reflection of English opinion did wonders. The John Bulls are never sorry to have an opportunity of twitting and taking down that irreverent Jonathan, who brags and expectorates in such an overbearing way; and "slavery" is the favorite moral cowhide with which the islanders love to lick him. They lay on him with a wonderful gusto—such as you could only find among angry brothers. Any thing that cockers and cherishes their abstract horror of negro-slavery is welcome to the English, whether they reflect, pharisaically, on the sins of that whittling fellow, or honestly believe what they read.
And so the reception of the "Cabin" in England was very genial—it was so pleasant to pray for that reprobate, Jonathan! The Times, to be sure, and a few other shrewd organs, saw the thing in all its bearings, and gave a very blunt opinion of it. But, in a sentimental way, Lord Carlisle—our sometime visitor, Lord Morpeth—and the moralists, had the advantage of these cosmopolite critics, as far as the curious public were concerned. Indeed, the fact of a lord coming out in favor of any thing of the kind was enough to give it instant vogue among the English, and his lordship's recommendation was certainly the strongest foreign puff of the "Cabin." The New York Post, and kindred presses, certainly helped to sell their thousands; but the Earl of Carlisle sold his tens of thousands. When once any sort of a book is talked of, for any one reason or another, people must have it, in self-defense, and so vires acquiret eundo—it gathers as it goes, like a rolling snowball in the Oberland. Half the machinery of the whole business would have procured nearly as great a notoriety for any book thoroughly spiced with horrors.
All these aids, and the proclivity of human nature to fall in with a growing rumor and to swell a sudden fashion, will explain the extraordinary run of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Mr. Barnum has proved, in the course of his life, that any great merit in the object of a furor is not indispensably necessary to the volitare per ora virum and the gathering of renown and mammon. A notoriety or celebrity can be improvised, now-a-days—done to order. A lively dinning is kept up for a time in the ears of the people, and then, like bees that come swarming to the music of brass candlesticks, they follow the noise: et voila tout!
So much for the remarkable sale of Mrs. Stowe's book—so greatly beyond its deserts. The book is vastly overrated and will soon find its level. It is written for an occasion, and will pass with those objects of excitement to which it has chief reference. It is clumsily constructed and inartificial—proving that her strong didactic feelings overpowered in the author any thing like a sense of what is artistic. She has one object always in view—one sentiment to express, and her feelings are poured out upon it to the neglect of every thing else. Mrs. Stowe feels vehemently on the subject of personal tyranny, and the disruption of dear ties by the separation of negro parents, wives and children; and this is womanly and natural, of course. But she allows her feelings to overpower her judgment in the arrangement of her narrative; and the latter has a tone of exaggeration in consequence, which must counteract the aim of the writer, inasmuch as it injures the vraisemblances of the tale.
The plot of Uncle Tom's Cabin—"the plot, Lord bless you, there is none to tell, sir"—the plot is feeble; it is strung and tacked together in a very unworkmanlike way. In the series of scenes which go to make it up, our feelings of interest are a good deal jolted backward and forward, between Uncle Tom and the St. Clare family on one side, and Eliza and the melodramatic George on the other. Uncle Tom is an exaggeration—a monster of perfection—
"A faultless monster, which the world ne'er saw."
He is only fit for a high, pure part on the stage; and, indeed, he has already gone on it, as if with a consciousness of "the eternal fitness of things." We cannot take cordially to that big, wise black. We require to have a dash of human infirmity in our favorite heroes—we look for a little gravel along with the soft food for our critical gizzard. Why, in one respect, Uncle Tom is as inhuman as Legree! We should have liked Thomas much better if he had fairly agreed with Chloe that Shelby was an ungrateful man, and had told him so, or had given Legree some ill-language, in a high fit of human exasperation. George is semi-Castilian and chiefly melodramatic—well enough, however, for the part he plays. Cassy is a caricature of human passion and suffering, and Legree is as much a man in buckram as George. He comes up strongly on the stage, however—makes a good, ferocious character and touches the gallery very effectively.
Mrs. Stowe, as we have said, relies on her own feelings, and writes as they are affected, without thinking steadily of her characters. She introduces Topsy, and wishing to show that a long course of evil example and neglect cannot be neutralized at once, she makes Topsy show it—to the discomfiture of Miss Ophelia. Afterward, wishing to show a sudden conversion, a sudden revulsion of feeling, countervailing all the influences of the aforesaid evil example, she makes use of the very same Topsy to show it. In this Mrs. Stowe is true to herself, but somewhat fallacious as regards the claims of a consistent story. Cassy is a bizarre creation—a helpless desperado, as flighty and ferocious as a wild-cat, and it really knocks our ideas of what is just, artistic and true into pi, to see how mild and comfortable she turns out, in the end, over hot cake and tea in that virtuous Canadian cabin! Mrs. Stowe here reverses the monster of the Roman Horace; but it is a fair monster for all that—scaly enough at the beginning and ending in a womanly way. Think of Cassy threatening to give Legree his quietus with a bare hatchet—murder him, in fact—"I'll send him where he belongs—a short way, too, one of these nights—if they burn me alive for it!" While the story goes on, in the next breath: "there was a graceful and compassionate sweetness in her (Cassy's) voice and manner," as she bustled about to make Tom comfortable! Then there are Sambo and Quimbo. Up to a certain point they are black rascals and behave pretty fairly "as sich." They are a pair of case-hardened reprobates, and, artistically speaking, unexceptional, till, unhappily for their consistency of character, Mrs. Stowe brings them into a scene where her own feelings are roused to a climax—very justifiably no doubt—and they lose themselves in an impossible ecstasy of piety, to our great discomfiture; after that we give them up! When they have done Legree's bidding and flogged Uncle Tom to death's door, in the most brutal way—"Sartin, we's been doin' a drefful thing," sighs Sambo the savage.
"O, Tom," exclaims Quimbo the man-queller, "we's been awful wicked to ye!"
“O, Tom! do tell us who Jesus is, anyhow," sobs Sambo the savage!
Tom then prays energetically to the Almighty, and—mark what follows! "They wept, both the two savage men!" They have repented on the spot. Tom then cries, in a strong agony of love: "O, Lord, give me those two more souls, I pray!" and he gets them forthwith. "That prayer was answered"—Mrs. Stowe assures us! What, in the name of common sense, can be said of this astounding business? Why, that Mrs. Stowe is a woman of strong humane feelings which run away with her, clean, and make her forget she is making a book—whisk her from the desk of the novelist to the pulpit of the revivalist. It is impious to suppose that Heaven will accept such a pair of devils as Sambo and Quimbo; and we have only to say, that we reject them positively. Mrs. Stowe wishes to raise the negroes in our estimation by saying they have a warmth of impulse—a credulous impressibility. Now these are things that act both ways—both on the wrong side as well as the right. That vivacity of emotion is only good when it is in the right way. Religion is the right way, of course. But we must say we do not agree with the author that a love of hymn-choruses and holdings-forth are high moral characteristics. We fear that, with the negroes, religion is often a monomania—a feeling vehement from its narrowness, and existing mostly in expression. That suddenness of conversion is a very unhealthy and unnatural thing; it cannot be a true thing. If the pendulum swings violently one way, you may suspect it will have a tendency to go back the other way. Many of the hymns sung by the negroes do not meet our ideas as favorably as they do those of Mrs. Stowe. They are entirely too irreverent and have too strong an animal taint for our ideas of spiritual worship. But let us get out of this theological swamp—for fear of skeeters!
In the character of St. Clare, also, Mrs. Stowe rather loses herself—or finds herself—and draws him from his natural role. As a careless, good-natured philosopher, he is very well, and talks in a very gentlemanly way. He accepts the institution, in a fair-and-easy tolerant spirit, and always withstands the rigid philanthropy of Miss Ophelia. But the author wants to have a strong tirade against the South, and having no mouth more convenient, she puts it into his. He delivers it, vehemently, and the whole thing jars against our notions of personal consistency. Even Miss Ophelia is astonished, and says it out-abolishes the abolitionists themselves. But well she may. But Mrs. Stowe never allows trifles to stand in the way of her didactic purpose. To emphasize the fault of good men who delay till their death the manumission of slaves, she kills off St. Clare in the turning of a page. The truth is, that all these characters, Tom, Topsy, Cassy, Sambo, Quimbo, &c., are not living people; they are only Mrs. Stowe's feelings dressed up—her emotions transfigured on paper. When we go to the South we will not look out for one of them—either in Kentuck or Louisiana. We know they are not there.
Mrs. Stowe's style is as careless as her plot. We can understand that,
writing for the "Era," perhaps in a hurry, she had not time to trim or prune;
though a correct writer scarce needs any such work. But she should not have
let her slovenliness show itself in the book. In her description of Topsy,
for instance, Mrs. Stowe uses the word odd half a
dozen times in something over a dozen lines. There are many such instances
of carelessness. Mrs. Stowe offends us very often in the matter of style—which,
after all, is to the writer what discipline is to the soldier. The negroes
need not talk English, of course; but St. Clare and the Anglo-Saxon folk should
speak correctly and avoid localisms and vulgarisms. As we have said, Mrs.
Stowe's characters speak too much of her own feelings to affect us with a
strong sense of their reality. No doubt there is a great
deal of heart and spirit in the dialogues. Topsy speaks very well, and is a general favorite; so is Eva, and so is St. Clare. The vivacity of the book is undoubted, and to that, and to the familiar and stirring incidents, such as catch the tastes of the many all over the world, the "Cabin" owes some of its popularity. It also has that seasoning of melodrama which that tender-hearted monster—the public—loves so dearly in books or on the stage. But, after doing justice to the spirit and earnestness of the work, we are still happy to think it has not power enough to cause as much mischief as some have supposed. Indeed, were Mrs. Stowe's book ten times more meritorious and forcible than it is, the existing sense of this community, and its growing tendencies—political or otherwise—would neutralize it. It is hopeless to look for any more exasperations on account of slavery, or to think it can ever be done away with by vituperation or the high hand.
The Times was right in saying that, as a means of abolition, Uncle Tom was a mistake and would be a failure. A wonderful thing, certainly, to see the Times coming out, in such a cosmopolite spirit, for the peace and integrity of this Union. It shows that a strong force of English opinion is growing up in favor of non-intermeddling in our domestic policy. We can easily see the reason of this feeling among politicians; but the thing is so. The Britons are, in fact, beginning to think we are getting along as well as can be expected, and that any thing which would make mischief in these states would be a misfortune for the world. They are beginning to think slavery cannot be dragged up violently—that our barn is not to be burnt to roast our chestnuts. That vexed question is certainly treated more reasonably in England within the last year. This is a very significant sign of the times; and all things considered, we can come to the conclusion that the influence of Mrs. Stowe's fiction can be but very slight ultimately on the steady, practical opinions of the English. In our own country we have had as decided an expression of feeling latterly. The press every where, with a few exceptions, is in favor of a brotherly treatment of the slave question, befitting those who argue the matter under the same roof, as it were. The most prominent of those newspapers which would conscientiously rejoice to see slavery at an end, deprecate harsh language or coercion, and say that none but quiet, kindly courses will ever do. Nay, the National Era itself—the paper in which Uncle Tom first appeared—asserts that the emancipation of the negro can only be expected from the people of the South themselves! These things show what a change for the better is coming over the minds of men—in place of that barren exasperation we have lately witnessed. The people of this Union will entertain no thought or sentiment which would tend to compromise its integrity—knowing, as they do, that the hope of oppressed humanity all over the globe is entwined with the power and prosperity of our republic, and that if it were broken up and frittered away, the world would be good for nothing but another drowning at the hands of the Almighty. With such ideas we cannot give way to literary fancies, or lightly encourage those enthusiasms, ebullitions, animosities—those angry passions which would make
"The children of one family
Our mighty hands were never made to tear each other's eyes.
The slave-owners will not be bullied into any thing, and they have a natural regard for their homes and properties. People talk of the glory of England's negro emancipation. The glory of it was that the government took twenty millions of money belonging to the English people and purchased the freedom of the slaves—gave compensation for them. In this country, compensation to our fellow citizens for the sacrifice of their property consequent on emancipation is never talked of. If the abolitionists of the North had their property in slaves, we should like to hear their opinions on the matter. Would they be so ready to give all up—to sacrifice every thing to principle? The idea of such Yankee chivalry is funny enough.
As for the condition of the slaves, it is false to say it is as bad as that of the Irish, the Italians, the Highland Scotch, or the English poor in the manufacturing towns. All these are slaves in every hard practical sense of the word but one, and that's a mere matter of idea. The separation of children from brothers, parents, and each from all the rest, is even more cruel in the old pauper countries that it can be here in the South. They who talk of human misery should take in the whole picture—it would save him from the monomania that attends narrow views. It would not lessen his desire to do good, but it would save him from fanaticism. No doubt the world is a wicked place, and men are a bad concern altogether, deserving to be hanged or drowned. But the Supreme Ruler will not take to violent measures. He tolerates largely, in fact.
Under such circumstances, we think there may be better ways of coming at ends considered good, than by running full tilt against opposition like Don Quixote. In this business of negro slavery, we should remember the moral of Aesop's story. The Constitutional Sun and the Abolitionist North Wind once tried which could soonest oblige a traveler to throw off his cloak. The wind blew great guns, and nearly cracked its cheeks against the wayfarer, who for that reason only drew the cloak tighter about him. Then came the sun, using his influence in a slow, soft way, and the man soon walked in his jerkin. That's a shorter story than Mrs. Stowe's—"an older and a better," whatever Jewett & Co. may think.
But here is another book—"The Cabin and the Parlor." The bane and antidote
are both before us. Mr. J. T. Randolph here enters the lists against the
lady, and we think he has the best end of the staff in this argument. Summing
up our conclusions, we are of the opinion that the "Cabin and Parlor" has
advantage in plot or story, and that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" has the advantage in the spirit of the dialogue, if not in description. The plot of the former is as follows:
Mr. Courtenay, a wealthy slave-owner, kind to negroes, dies suddenly, and leaves his family in as sudden poverty—consequent on some mercantile fatality which drives them from their home. His daughter, the beautiful Isabel, about to be wedded to a Northern suitor, is forced to keep a miserable little school; her little brother goes to the North to earn something, and the mother and youngest child live solely on Isabel's small salary. The Yankee lover has taken his departure along with the prosperity. There are Uncle Peter and Aunt Violet—corresponding to Uncle Tom and Aunt Chloe, and Charles and Cora—corresponding to George and Eliza. Charles and Cora run away, too, and escape—after Uncle Peter and Violet refuse to go with them:
The fugitives feel like fish out of water in the North. They are separated, and see each other seldom. Then the city rowdies attack the negro quarter, and send them flying for their lives. Charles at last dies of consumption, and Cora flies back with her child to the South as if to a refuge. Young Horace Courtenay also goes to a large city, and becomes errand-boy to a bloodless philanthropist—Mr. Sharpe, at a dollar a week. The boy dies in a garret. Walworth, a fine young fellow from the South, leaving Sharpe's house one day, stumbles at the door on the poor Irishwoman—in whose garret Horace is dying, and who had asked Sharpe in vain for relief, and goes with her to see the boy die. Meantime, poor Isabel, her mother, and brother suffer from penury in their cottage, relieved from time to time by the gifts and good offices of Uncle Peter—who has been sold to a neighbor. Walworth arrives at the cottage with the story and dying messages of Horace. The reader, of course, knows what next.
We do not write for that dull elf,
the upshot of the tale. The tables are soon turned. The Courtenays get
back their money in a providential and well-timed way, by means of a rough-diamond
of a Dr. Worthington; and when Walworth and Isabel are married, they go to
the restored old house, with its restored old servants (for the servants all
come back, too,) in the midst of a jolly negro tantararara—full of tears,
thanks, transports, fiddling, philandering, and feasting. Such is the outline;
and it is pretty fairly filled up; but there are many blemishes to be met
with. Mr. Randolph does not manage his dialogues and conversations too well.
When Isabel tells Dr. Worthington that she will keep a little school—"The
devil!" said the Doctor; for the idea of one so luxuriously bred as Isabel
having to earn her livelihood deprived him of self-command. We protest we
do not see why it should have done so, or why he was called on to make such
an exclamation to the young lady. Mrs. Courtenay, repining against bacon
and wishing for chicken that she could not afford, giving, moreover, "a sigh
to whole barrels of sugar," is rather anti-pathetic and not in character.
There was no need to talk so much about the wittles.
Mr. Randolph has some bizarreries of style, which
are most plainly visible in the strong pathetic scenes. Such scenes are,
in fact, the great tests of a writer's power and judgment. Our author, describing
the sinking of Isabel in the snow (where she is nearly smothered,) says "the
word Saviour fluttered from her weak lips. They were heard, in awe-struck silence, by the elements around; and with a howl
of despair, as if some demon had been cheated of his prey, the gale began
again!" This is outrageously bad. We go for as much poetry as man in a reasonable
way, but that behavior of the wind is rather strong!
It is on a par with Mrs. Stowe's extravagant scene of Uncle Tom's death,
and the startling piety of the two black rascals. A good many faults of this
kind may be found in Mr. Randolph's book. But it has some very excellent
descriptions—such as the negro quarter in the great city, the attack of the
mob upon it, and the wild doings of the streets. These scenes are represented
with animation. The negro characters fairly drawn—that of Tony, in particular,
with such enthusiasm; and the tone and manner of the rest of the dark personages seem to be true and natural enough. Mr. Randolph draws his moral effectively from the worse than slavery and death of little Horace, from the disasters of Charles and Cora, and the brutalized condition of free negroes in the Northern cities. But he is particularly good in the arguments urged, at one time, by Walworth against the Englishman who objurgates slavery, and against the Bostonian who talks abolition on another occasion. The Briton cannot deny that there is serfage in England, and the Bostonian cannot deny that the condition of free negroes in Northern cities says very little for the ameliorating effects of liberty. The arguments of Walworth embody the philosophy of the matter, and the best defense of the South. We perceive that the ladies of England, under the leadership of the Duchess of Sutherland, have been talking in conclave on the subject of negro-slavery with us—flushed up a little by Mrs. Stowe's book. They have be-stowed an address on the ladies of the United States, desiring them to try and do away with slavery. We think no better reply to that address could be sent back than one that might be furnished from the arguments of Walworth. Really, Mr. Randolph, after having overtaken Mrs. Stowe, should undertake the duchess. There are about three millions of paupers in the British Isles—ignorant, vicious, and degraded; and it is a good-natured piece of sublime impudence in John Bull, or his wife, or his daughters, to throw the negroes into Jonathan's teeth, while such a heap of national opprobrium lies reeking under their noses.
The argument against emancipation on this continent is a good one. What
would the negroes do,
if they were free amongst us? Nothing at all—or next to nothing. They have not the muscle or mind of the European races. If freed here, they would refuse to work—preferring to grow flabby with idleness and impious psalm-singing. Carlyle is right in denouncing the lazy philosophy of the blacks. All the dwellers on this continent must work, otherwise the whole national machinery must get out of order. The emancipation of the Southern negroes would be a disastrous policy—as cruel to the blacks as injurious to the general interests of society. Let us look to Jamaica. The London Times has been lately speaking of that island and the deplorable condition of its black people. It asserts that the British emancipation experiment is a failure; that Sambo won't work; that "his independence is little better than that of a captured brute!" Instead of becoming intelligent husbandmen, working in an orderly way, the negroes cut and shuffle about, like vagrants and squatters, enjoying their light pumpkin livelihood in a desultory way. They eat their vegetables and lie serenely seething in the sun, with the glorious stamp of liberty on their brows. The result is, that the property of the island is sinking, and it is feared that the civil institutions of the place will expire for want of revenues to support them. Sambo is his own master in Jamaica; and the island is going to the dogs, because that lazy man and brother will neither do man's nor brother's work. The end of all this will be that the negroes must be sent away out of the colony.
To this end—a removal of the race—we must come at last. Mrs. Stowe is in favor of the system of deportation to Africa; and the sooner the negroes can find their way to a nation of their own, the better. At this moment, when improved navigation is opening all the seas of the world to all the races thereof, Asiatics are crowding Eastward and supplanting the negro people. When that result shall fairly arrive, the remedy will appear as an inevitable consequence. Our Southern fellow citizens will find the cheap labor of Chinese, Coolies, &c., more profitable than any other; the last negro serf will disappear after the last free negro. It is as inevitable as destiny; but the North and South must stand shoulder to shoulder—AND WILL.
When that day comes, if the agitators wish to see philanthropy munificently done, they have only to instruct Uncle Sam to open his heart and his money drawers. If we have any right to offer one hundred millions for the blacks of Cuba—and some sagacious statesman proposes to do it—let us be charitable: begin at home, and pay our fellow-citizens for theirs. It is a fair prescription for a desperate disease; but, if there is a better, let us have it by all means.
We have no doubt that the people of the South desire such a consummation as this, as much as those of the North. The Southerners have as little abstract love of slavery as the Boreans; but they must sustain it for some time, or plunge the Southern States into confusion—such confusion as reigns in Jamaica. Time, who was the agent in opening the eyes of the calculating Northerns, to the evil of a useless system, where there was neither tobacco nor cotton to grow, will probably be yet enabled to do the same for the palmetto republicans—the gens palmarum. Nothing else will do. Neither motions in Congress, able editorials, nor fancy stories with a large circulation, will do more than oblige the lovers of justice and the Union, to look still more practically and sensibly on the great argument, and labor the more to prevent fanaticism from exasperating it. The more we think of it, the sooner do we lose that theoretical flush of the feelings with which we all regard the question at first, and the more do we recognize the fair, fraternal right of the South. And for this result we thank such writers as Mrs. Stowe. They rouse us to cogitate and compare.
We meant to say something of the other black books—those literary nigritudes—those little tadpoles of the press—sable bodies and stirring tales. But let them go. Let us say nothing about them—but look at them and pass by.
We have thought over this subject very deliberately, and we do not find—even under the inspiration of these novels, which run to editions of hundreds of thousands—that we are a whit more convinced, than by the very sober prose of Greeley and Doctor Bailey, that "the question is all on one side." Say what we will, we commenced living together—North and South—under some very express and many implied contracts, and no fine hair-splitting in morals can make that act an honest one which is a clear evasion, if not an open violation, of the agreement. If the South have combustible materials about them, and we undertook not to damage their property by firing it at midnight, we have no right to be letting off fire-crackers all around the house in the day time, for the amusement of young Jonathans in breeches or petticoats. The South may very properly say to us—"Look you, sir, you undertook to attend the Northern end of the farm, we have no fancy here for exploits of jugglery—you may beat even the Chinese in throwing unsheathed knives about our heads, but you had better be at home attending to business. If your time is not fully occupied in the field or workshop—go out into the lanes and alleys of your cities—feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and attempt to reclaim the abandoned and the outcast. You will find work for your hands, good sir, and meek madam; ample and urgent! We will take care of Sambo and Dinah; and come when you will, you will find them clothed and fed somewhere on the plantation. If they are sick, they shall be nursed, and, if possible, cured. You will not find one of them dying under the hedge, their very bones rotting from disease or starvation!"
Ah! Brother of the North, what becomes of scores of laborers with you, whose sweat and sinews have enriched some gigantic capitalist at
the cost of health and hope? When age comes upon
him, or he is laid upon a bed of fever and languishing, fierce and prolonged, are his comforts attended to—his expenses paid? Unless you are greatly belied, you give "the laborer his hire"; but you give him no more. The sickly workman—is he not speedily cast adrift? Able-bodied man can be had, even with you, for dollars. The hollow cough of a consumptive operative is not music in factories, or the history of every year's toil is a lie! You do not, it is true, "sell" your hand—you have long ago taken the pith from his bones—the warmth from his blood: no, you do not sell him, neither could you a slave in the same condition; but you abandon him to want, wretchedness, and death. He may be a man—a free man, if you like; but could you do worse were he a dog? Go home, brother! each system has its evils; and, with each other's help, we shall cure them by and bye—but it will be by something else than talk! There will have to be some very earnest work, and some very manly sacrifices on both sides before that day. But it will come!
We have taken up the "Cabin literature" for the purpose of saying frankly what we think of the whole business—for it is a business, and nothing more. We have spoken temperately and critically of the books, indignantly and perhaps warmly of the spirit which pervades them, and we say by way of emphasis, that we despise the whole concern—the spirit which dictated them is false. They are altogether speculations in patriotism—a question of dollars and cents, not of slavery or liberty. The whole literary atmosphere has become tainted with them—they are corrupt altogether and abominable. Many of the persons who are urging on this negro crusade into the domain of letters, have palms with an infernal itch for gold. They would fire the whole republic if they could but rake the gems and precious stones from the ashes. They care nothing for principle, honor or right, and though anxious to be regarded as martyrs, their chief concern is about the stakes. He would be an explorer worthy of all honor who could stumble upon a truth which they would not sacrifice for shillings.
For the present we are done with this subject. We hope we are done with it forever.
In the meanwhile, let us see the amiable publishers and writers and most valorous moralists, who are hurling stones at their brothers of the South, do a little something, from the great wealth thus achieved, for the free negroes of the North. Many of these bold reformers control influential presses, but we do not see Sambo educated by them to set their type, carry their papers, drive their presses, or keep their books. Cuffy is not in the editorial room with paste and scissors—no! he is in the street, lounging upon the cellar-door, in rags and degraded. If he could read, he would be astonished at the sympathy which that dapper little gentleman who has just past bestows—in type—upon his race. But we would advise Cuff not to presume upon his knowledge. We don't believe he could get a dollar out of his friend to save his soul—kicks we imagine would be more plentiful than coppers, and, unless Cuffy has a taste for oratory, he is not likely to get even a civil word from his white brother—and that only at an agitation meeting, where subscribers are to be picked up, and pretty Quaker girls, in youthful innocence, take poetry for Gospel.