The Washington Post
Unsigned Reprint
Washington, D.C.: 7 August 1888

A New Uncle Tom.

New York World.

  A very remarkable novel has just been issued by the William E. Smythe Company. About a year ago Alice Nellington Rollins startled the serious and conscientious members of the reading world with an article in the Forum in which she asserted that the dwellers in the tenement houses in New York were in worse physical and moral condition than the slaves had been in the Southern cabins. The article awakened wide comment and interest, and she followed it with others reinforcing her declaration. She was asked to read papers on the subject before several societies in Boston and elsewhere, and finally her labors with the question took the form of a novel entitled "Uncle Tom's Tenement." In her preface, she apologizes for the title, acknowledging that she has "hitched her wagon to a star," but insisting that the problem is as important and burning a one as that Mrs. Stowe did much towards elucidating with her story of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." The book treats of New York life on its contrasting sides of wealth and poverty, of the Fifth avenue palace and the Second avenue tenement, and does not spare to enforce the bitter difference. It is a serious arraignment of one of the most threatening social evils of to-day and deserves the thoughtful attention of every citizen. There is none of the impracticable vaporing of Socialism or any other ism whatever in the book. It regards the matter from a reasonable but truthful basis, and has remedies and palliations to suggest. The story is one of interest apart from its didactic purposes, and chapter 21, "A Tenement Cleopatra," contains more food for thought than half the sermons preached in New York for a year. The book will appeal to the poor because it is full of the deepest and most honest sympathy with their wrongs and sufferings, and will appeal to the rich because it reminds them courteously and firmly of their duties and points to practical and sensible methods of fulfilling them.