The National Era
Unsigned Article
Washington, D.C.: 5 August 1852


  THE WHITE SLAVE: OR, MEMOIRS OF A FUGITIVE. Boston: Tappan & Whittemore. 1 vol., pp. 408.

  We opened this volume not without some fears that we should find it a weak imitation of the highly successful and powerful romance of HARRIET BEECHER STOWE. We were by no means willing to see that marvellous picture copied, and, as a matter of course, caricatured by a second-rate artist. But the author of this book is no copyist. He has stamped it with originality as marked, and in its way as effective, as that of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." It lacks the admirable painting of negro character, the mingled pathos and drollery of that remarkable book. Its author seems to have studied human nature in classes rather than in individuals—the current of its narrative runs strongly but evenly; its scenes and conversations are not calculated for dramatic effect. It is the story of a slave, and it is the slave in middle life, educated, refined, wealthy, and free, who tells it. With him, life had been grave and earnest, and such is his narrative. It has the stern and stately movement of the old Greek tragedy.

  As a picture of slavery, in its moral, social, and political bearing, upon the North as well as the South, it furnishes hints and facts which are overlooked in Uncle Tom's Cabin. In truth, apart from their subject, there is little or nothing in common between the two books. In purer raciness, sprightliness, and picturesque effect, Uncle Tom's Cabin has greatly the advantage. In the style of the author before us, everything is subdued and sombered. His refined passion and steady energy reminds us of Godwin in Caleb Williams and St. Leon. The high reputation he has received in another department of literature will not suffer by his present production, which deserves and will have a wide circulation. Its success will not affect in any degree the popular demand for the extraordinary work of his female co-laborer in that new and rich field of American romance—"Life among the Lowly."

J. G. W.